Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Car (3rd Event)

It was the late 70's, Del Rio Texas. We were living in an old servants shack on what had once been a fine pecan plantation. My mother, her mate Jean, my younger sister Pepper and me.

By now it was no longer fine at all. Most of the pecans fell and laid unwanted to rot on the ground. And the big house at the front had fallen into disrepair, no longer white and grand, it was gray and dirty, the paint chipping away and the shutters falling off.

The current owner of the place was an elder woman who lived alone in the main house. Her family had owned it her whole life and it had been left to her many years ago. The main house, where she lived, was at the front of the property and our house was down a long driveway that curved around to the back of the property. On one side of the drive was dense overgrown pine forest and on the other side was row after row of giant pecan trees.

I'm not sure how long we lived there, many things happened to us in relatively small spans of time, so that a months worth of adventure for us might seem like a year or more of chaos to someone else.

I was 7 or 8 and, and Pepper and I spent our days swinging from grapevines, hiding in honeysuckle forts and riding the neighbors goats. It was a great place for high adventure, some of it quite dangerous for two little girls but, there wasn't much I feared. Except the old lady and her house.

She really did seem nice enough, from what I remember. Aside from terrifying us by standing at the gate and throwing rocks on the tin roof of our house to get my mother to come out, I can't remember anything in particular that would have made me fear her, but fear her I did.

I believe her name was Mame, which seems odd to type but it is what people called her. She was a widow and lived alone in the big house, just her and a little dog. The house always had an odd and terrible smell to me which burned my nose and made my eyes water. And, it was filled so full of stuff it was hard to walk or move and there was no place at all to sit. She had one child, a grown son, who never visited at all that I knew of. And a special car, locked away in the garage, which she talked of often but we never saw it.

The car had belonged to her late husband, Henry. Which is also what she called the car, Henry. Although we were never allowed to see it, my mother was charged with the task of starting Henry a few times a week and she would often make us go with her.

Once or twice every week we would trudge thru the pecan orchard up to her house. And it indeed seemed like trudging because I dreaded it so much. I can't remember what we did there while we waited for my mom but after a while we would go back home and Pepper and I would race ahead thru the trees as fast as we could go.

One day, many months later, my mother told us that Mame had died. I felt terrible for her and worse for her little dog. I also felt a bit guilty because I shamefully was a little glad that I would never have to visit her again.

About a month after that, my mother told us that Mame had left Henry, the car to, my mother. There was something about Mames' son not wanting us to have the car and maybe going to court, but whatever happened, my mother ended up with Henry.

Henry was actually a very cool car, I thought so even then. An antique my mother said, black and very shiny. He seemed so very fancy to us. Mame had taken good care of him, there wasn't a scratch or dent or tear or smudge anywhere and when my mother first turned the key he started immediately. Tho Henry was very old, he was also like brand new.

Right away my mother wanted us to go joyriding. I'm not sure if other people do that or not but we did it often and I still do it today (when the gas can be afforded). We loved joyriding so we all excitedly hopped in to go. And it seemed almost instantly that we all went from jovial and excited to very solemn and uncomfortable. Pepper and I decided we wanted to stay home and not go at all. But my mother laughed it off saying we just weren't used to it yet, and away we went.

I don't remember what all we did while it was light but as soon as the sun begin to set my mother decided we should drive to the cemetery and drink to Mame. Pepper and I just wanted to go home. But, off to the cemetery we went.

Upon arriving the first thing I remember thinking was how many plastic flowers there must have been. Not just on Mames grave but everywhere. Hundreds and hundreds of them, in every color and shape imaginable. That seemed very odd to me and gave me the creeps, I wondered if we were in the right place. But soon enough my mother confirmed that we were by making a toast to Mame and thanking her for giving us Henry. We all toasted and thanked her.

Then we all fell silent and no one said a thing for some time. We just sat there quietly, seemingly frozen in time, no one speaking or moving, like zombies we just stared into space.

The silence was finally broken when Jean said it was late and she thought we should go home now. My mother scoffed at the idea and thought we should stay longer. She started talking loudly and seemed to get more excited by the second until, she was suddenly interrupted when the car radio came on. That's when I remember looking out the front windshield and seeing that we were parked almost right on top of Mames grave. The car headlights shown brightly on her headstone just inches away and it dawned on me that none of this was right.

Amidst the blaring radio I took Jean's cue and started asking to go home. Pepper, generally doing anything I did, also started asking to go. Soon we were on our way home.

The ride home was uneventful and Pepper and I may have even fallen asleep. But everything changed as soon as we pulled into the long driveway.

As soon as Henry's tires touched the driveway the radio came on, blasting away into the night. Shaking the old speakers and hurting our ears and our heads. My mother quickly fumbled for the knob and switched it off. But before any of us could say anything it was back on again. My mother reached for the switch again but this time she yanked her hand back quickly and cried out "it's still turned off!".

We were still moving the whole time, just coasting but never stopping. The big house was a little ways off to the left and back a little ways from the main road. As we coasted we got closer and as we came up to being even with the front of the house the headlights begin to flash. Off, on, off, on, off, on..... Sometimes staying off a little longer making us think they weren't coming back on but when my mother would start to brake they would come right back on. Like it didn't want her to stop completely.

As we came up even with the house the horn begin to honk, beep beep ...... beep beep beep. Intervals of 2 and 3 honks with a few seconds between. We could barely here it over the radio but it was certainly loud enough to be sure of what it was.

As we were finally passing the house the inside dome light came on. It seemed unnaturally bright and I could have sworn I could hear the electrical buzz of it over our heads. We begin to cry to be let out, but my mother wouldn't stop driving.

We were just past Mames house when my mother yelled "OK, I'll give it back!". The lights stopped flashing, the horn stopped honking and, tho the radio stayed on, the volume went down and we could barely hear it in the background of our crying. The dome light stayed on until we pulled in, turned off the car, got out and shut the doors for the last time.

The next day my mother called Mame's son to come and get Henry.

And our strange lives went on as usual.

1 comment:

oldcrow61 said...

What wonderfully strange stories you tell.