Peach Tree Tea

* 1992 * The only light in the bedroom seeped in from the hallway. As Danny entered, his shadow passed over Charles resting in the bed. Charles, feebly asked, “Is that you, Danny?” “Yep. It’s me. How you feelin’?” “Come over here and sit by the bed. I got a request.” “You the singer. Not me,” Danny said as he sat down. “Don’t want no song. (cough) What’s that sayin’ Daddy taught us?  I ‘ve been trying to remember it for days.” “Casey Jones said, ‘fore he died there were five more things that he wanted to ride; bicycle, tricycle, automobile, a bow-legged woman, and a Ferris wheel.” Charles feigned laughter and closed his eyes. Danny patted him on the arm. After a few moments of silence, Charles opened his eyes, looked directly into Danny’s, and softly labored, “Danny, please save me.” Danny answered, “I’ll try.” “What are you going to do?” Charles muttered. It was the last thing he said. Danny didn’t want him to die, but since he had no answer, Charles’ dying provided Danny with relief. Momma came to the doorway, gently tapped her cane on the floor, asking, “How is he doing?” Danny replied, “He’s quiet. Why don’t you go on to bed Momma?” “Did I hear you sayin’ that dumbass rhyme Daddy taught you?” Momma asked. “You did. Now, why don’t you go to bed?” “I will,” she said, “Call if you need me.” The next few weeks for Momma will be tough, Danny thought, as the tapping of her cane faded down the hall. In her fragile condition, Momma will need to rest...

Rotary Club Speech

by Larrywomack.com May 18, 1995 Pulaski Tennessee Rotary Club Speech  Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.  I’m aware of the great work that you, of the Pulaski, Tennessee, Rotary Club perform for this community.  It is an honor to be here. For the past several years, I’ve gone about the countryside telling folks about an encounter I had many years ago.  I was fortunate to be there when the decision was announced to create people. Every time I recount the experience, it feels strange.  Strange to have been there and to be here today telling about it.  When I say I was there, I don’t mean like some Shirley McLaine-ish reincarnation, I mean I was there—me, Larry Womack. Let me start by saying that He wasn’t as old as most religionists paint Him—literally and figuratively.  He looked a lot like a doctor, ego and all, but with a pleasing manner.  He was very articulate and His words were well chosen; simple word that even I, in my naiveté’ and ignorance of the subject, could understand.  He was tall, but He was sitting down the whole time. Just about every time I’m telling what I saw and heard, some woman will ask me, “What was He wearing?” Though my mind was more on what He was saying, my recollection is that He was dressed like Orson Wells dressed in that modern version of Hamlet that played on Broadway many years ago.  The same way all those Baldwin boys, who are movie actors dress—sort of a more conservative version of what rappers wear:  blousy grayish-black shirt and...

Endless Journey

By Larrywomack.com As he sits on the small day bed, his rough hands fumble to open the tiny locket.  Though he knows its contents well, his heart races each time he opens it. The clasp finally releases to reveal a faded picture of a teenage girl. He wants to touch the picture, but it is too small for his thick fingers. Memories flicker through his head like a silent movie, eventually bringing him to the present.  He fastens the locket, puts it in his shirt pocket and reaches into the opposite pocket for a cigarette.  He removes the matchbook from the cellophane around the Luckys and takes out a smoke.  With one hand, he opens the matchbook, bends a match, strikes it and lights the cigarette.  He’s done it a million times. The taste and feel of the smoke flowing into his lungs is calming.  He takes several slow drags on the Lucky and then holds it away to look at the burning ash.  The action raises his anxiety. There is no ashtray, so he spits on his fingers and crushes the burning ash between them.  He puts the butt back in the pack and lies back on the bed.  Placing his hands beneath his head he closes his eyes, not to dream, but to wish the anxiety away. The room is small and sparse.  On the table, next to the bed is a shadeless lamp stand with a dimly burning light bulb.   A crooked window shade hangs on the sill blocking most of the sunlight. The one picture in the room hangs over the bed.  It is a...

Cottonwood Jesse

By Larrywomack.com Jesse took one of the wooden barrels off the running board of the old truck and doused a corner of the fire.  The blaze hissed and faded.  “Don’t know why I wasted good water like that,” he murmured; “could have used my boot.” He sat back down, took one more drink of the cold coffee, and crawled into his bedroll.  “I’m damn lucky this stuff was in the back of the truck,” he said out loud.  There was no one else to talk to.  Most times Jesse liked having no one to talk to, but this was not one of them. Jesse is a cowboy.  But in these times, being a cowboy isn’t as much fun as it used to be.  Back East, Hoover’s Depression really seems to be taking its toll. Out here in Skellytown, Texas, things in general aren’t so bad, that is unless you’re a cowboy.  But Jesse is a cowboy.  It’s the only thing he’s ever been. He was on his way across the flats to his brother’s house near McLean when his truck broke down.  Jesse doesn’t like trucks, but these days even a cowboy needs a truck just to find work.  His brother had left a message for Jesse at the general store in Skellytown.  It seems his brother’s boy had hurt himself working in the fields and they needed to go to Amarillo in the morning to see if anything was broken. The brothers didn’t talk directly, but Jesse’s brother wouldn’t be concerned about him not being there until it was time to go.  And since Jesse wasn’t known for...

The Life of Jimmy

My Brother Jimmy as told by Eddie McFee Jimmy knew the Good Book so well; he could have been a preacher.  He was kilt when a drunk driver hit him and Ester head-on somewhere near Carrollton Kentucky.  I’m told it was around midnight.  According to the police, he never knew what hit him.  Ester survived but she can hardly ever get out of the wheelchair.  I’ll bet she’s gained a hundred pounds. They didn’t say if he’d been drinking but I’m sure he had.  I guess they didn’t say because it was the other fellow’s fault.  Jimmy like his liquor more than most, as did Ester.  She was his third wife in five years.  Jimmy liked women almost as much as Jim Beam on the rocks or straight out of the bottle.  He liked to buy them little airplane bottles and hid’em everywhere. Jimmy had one bad eye from a brawl in a roadhouse just North of Nashville, somewhere near the Kentucky line. That night he was kilt; he was coming back from a gig that didn’t happen at a club in Covington Kentucky, which is basically Cincinnati. His steel guitar player didn’t show because he was a substitute for the Opry and got called to fill in.  The club manager fired Jimmy and the other guys on the spot.  He said that Jimmy wasn’t no good without his steel player.  Jimmy was pissed, but he knew he had to calm down.  His doctor had said if he got too upset, his blood pressure might go right through the top of his head.  Ester told me all of this...