Friday, March 21, 2014

The Cutshall Boys and the Florida Grass Widow (part two)

  • This continues yesterday's story. It's long -- Birdie can't be rushed... and she even condensed it a bit because of the melting ice cream . . .
 According to Viola, things went along for some little while with the grass widow stopping by now and again of an evening to set on the porch and sing with the Cutshall boys. Didn’t no one think a thing of it but after a time, things begun to change somehow.  

First the boys cut back on the drinking they’d been doing and went to fixing up the place – it had run down terrible in the thirty-some years since their momma had died – they bought curtains for the front room and painted the window frames and they picked up the beer cans and such out of the creek where they’d throwed them. And then they went in to Penland’s and got them some new duds.

Viola said she seen them in there, buying new shirts and overhauls. She said they had even been to the barber, which was a new one for them, being as they had always cut each other’s hair. But here was Walton with his hair slicked down and parted on the left and Dalton just the same but with the part running down the right side. Or maybe it was the other way round. Everwhat, Viola said they made right good-looking men, cleaned up like that.

And first thing you knew, Viola said, it was clear to anyone with an eye to see that the Cutshall boys was sparking that grass widow. You’d see her at the Burger Doodle with Walton or maybe Dalton – did I mention that them two boys was the very spit of one another? Viola says that their momma was the onliest one on earth who could tell one from another and sometimes she warn’t completely sure. Their daddy, he didn’t even try – just called out “You, boy!” when he needed something.

Howsomever, time went on and it was a usual thing to see the Cutshall boys’ old truck riding all over the county with Dalton or Walton, everwhich it was, driving that grass widow and her poodle dog around and t’other boy back home, setting lonely on the porch, drinking beer again and throwing the cans out into the yard.

Viola said that the grass widow told her one day that she was right taken with Walton or maybe it was Dalton – the one who played the fiddle, the grass widow said. Viola said that didn’t clear things up none to her mind for as long as she’d known the Cutshall boys, they’d both played fiddle and banjo – could switch instruments in the middle of a tune without missing a beat and if you had your eyes closed, you’d never know a thing had happened. But Viola didn’t tell the grass widow this, though, looking back, maybe she should have.

Things went on like this for the longest time – and sometimes the brother who was out with the truck didn’t come back till way late at night or even the next morning. “It would have broke their momma’s heart,” said Viola, “that and the drinking that was going on. 
And then that big fight and what came of it . . . .”

When she said that, Viola prissed up her mouth like a hen’s bottom and said she had washed her hands of the Cutshall boys and that such a story weren’t fitten to pass on and that  her husband Henry oughtn’t to tell it neither and him a deacon in the Freewill Baptist church.

But I got Henry aside in the cereal aisle at the grocery store one day, while Viola was picking out a cake mix two aisles over, and I got the rest of the story from him. You see he’d been there at the house when the fight happened.

Seems he’d gone over to ask the Cutshall boys for help putting up his hay the next week (and maybe to have a little sup of their beer, if I know Henry, deacon or not, for Viola’ll not allow it in her house.)  They was the three of them setting there, talking of this and that, said Henry, when here come the grass widow running down the road, still in her nurse outfit, big bosoms bouncing, red top knot all skee-jawed and falling down, and the little white poodle dog just panting to keep up.

”I’m a free woman,” she hollers. “I just got a letter to say that my mean old husband who misused me so has died, and I inherit everything. There’s a house at the beach and enough money for happy ever after.”

She pounds up the porch steps and stands there in front of the Cutshall boys, looking from one to the other. They both of them have their hair slicked straight back and they ain’t no way she can tell which is which.

“Dalton?” she says, kinda puzzled like. (Or it might have been Walton – Henry said he disremembered,)

And the Cutshall boys look at one another and then at her and both of them stands up and says, “I’m Dalton.” (Or Walton.)

The grass widow don’t even blink. “Well,” says she, trying to fix her hair back, “one of you said he wanted to marry me if ever I was a free woman. Said it time and again, oh, if you were just free, and I’m here to tell you that I  am now. Gimme one of those beers and you two figure it out while I catch my breath.”

And she plops herself down and crosses her legs and takes a big old sup of that beer.

Henry said the Cutshall boys was standing there, just glowering at each other like two big bulls and muttering things like I was first and But it was me she-”          

Right there in the cereal aisle, Henry was showing me how they was standing, all puffed up and scowling, but when he started repeating the things they was saying, he broke off right quick.  He said he was forgetting himself, and him a deacon in the Freewill Baptist Church. But I let him know I’d not be content till I heard the rest of the story and he gave it to me, all in a big hurry and with his eyes swiveling around to see was Viola coming.

They went from talking, Henry said, to shoving at one another and from shoving to throwing fists, and all the while the grass widow sat there just watching with a beer in one hand and the little poodle dog on her lap. And next thing Henry knew, the Cutshall boys was out in the yard, wrassling like the fellers on the TV, rolling about and hollering, and raising dust like you never saw.

Then one of them cracks his head against a rock and goes to bleeding like a stuck pig. “Oh, brother,” he hollers, “you’ve killed me.”

And the fight stops and the Cutshall boys is crying like big old babies and hugging and bleeding all over one another and saying sorry and that this is what happens when they let a woman come between them and that they’ll never be parted, not for any woman.

The grass widow pushes the poodle dog off her lap and comes down into the yard.

“Let me look at that cut,” she says, and she squats down and pulls a bandana out of her pocket and wipes the dust and blood away.

“Am I going to die?” asks the one, looking up pitiful at her, and “Have I kilt him?” asks the other, kneeling there with his brother’s head in his arms.

She don’t answer, just tightens her lips and shakes her head. Then she sets back on her heels and looks from one to the other. “Go on and sit up, you on the ground, It’s just a little cut that won’t even need stitches. I’ll have to shave around it some, then a butterfly bandage will fix it fine. But before I do that," she says, "I want to know something. It was both of you all along, wasn’t it? Taking me riding, buying me lunch at the Burger Doodle, feeding me all that sweet talk. Taking turns . . .”

The Cutshall boys hang their heads and don't say nothing.

“So which is which?” she says.

Finally one of them speaks up. “Truth to tell, we don’t rightly know. Mamma thought she did but afore she died, she called us in and said that from the time we was born, she had lost track – we was just too blamed alike.”

The other one puts his arm around his brother. “We always took turns with the names. Depending how we felt of a morning, it’d my turn to be Dalton-”

“Or Walton,” the other chimes in. “It just didn’t ever seem to matter nohow…”

Again, the grass widow don’t even blink. “I’ll take you both,” she says.

“And that’s what she done,” said Henry, pulling him down a box of Grape Nuts.  “She married one of them at the Magistrate’s Office and then all three of them took off for Florida in her new convertible, her driving and Dalton or it could have been Walton, beside her and the other un in the back with the little poodle dog.”

We heard wheels squeaking and looked up to see Viola and her buggy coming toward us. Henry waved the Grape Nuts at her and whispered real quick, “We got a letter from the Cutshall boys about a year after that – said they was happy as pigs in slop and didn’t look to be coming back. They sent a check signed by the grass widow -- Darlene M. Cutshall --to pay for having someone to look after their folks’s graves and they had put in a picture of the three of them.

 Such dudes you wouldn't have believed. They was all three in short pants and bright colored shirts and sunglasses.  The grass widow had put on some weight and her hair was cut short and curly. There was three little poodle dogs instead of just the one. And the Cutshall boys – why you couldn't have told them from Florida people.” 



Ms. A said...

Hahaha... GREAT STORY! The manner of speaking reminds me so much of my kinfolk! I enjoyed this very much!

Unknown said...

Why, Miss Vickie, don't you just write like one thing.
I can just see those three in their short pants, each with a poodle dog, walking the strip in some Florida beach city.
Thanks for sharing.

JJM said...

I'd anticipated the name confusion. Not the way they settled the outcome between them. Still chuckling ... Thank you, Vicki!--Mario R.

Pat in east TN said...

Now that was a good story. Makes me miss your books more and more now.

KarenB said...

A happy ending for all three of them, plus a good story left behind.

Brian Miller said...

hey it takes all kinds...ha....its good they did not let a woman come between them...and as long as all of them are know....

June said...

Oh, I enjoyed that!
Thank you.

Barbara Rogers said...

YAY Vicki, you rule the blogging story world! Most enjoyable. AND photos of wonderful places that echo of the people who lived there. Thank you kindly!

Vagabonde said...

What a great story – it sounded French in a way. Maybe because my mum told me that her grandfather who came to Paris from Alsace came with her grandmother and her grandma’s sister, and they were all 3 always together in Paris and my mum could never remember who was the grandmother and who was the aunt ….. now I don’t know if your story is fiction but I have a picture of my great granddad and 2 great grandmas … and I don’t know which is which.

Folkways Note Book said...

Quite a story -- and the photos were great too. -- barbara

Lise said...

This is a great story. But more importantly, you are teaching me a great deal. You are an artist, and I'm thrilled to be in your class and a part of your blog. You know what they say, "be the example." I honor you Vicki Lane! Thank you for the opportunity:)

Vicki Lane said...

Vagabonde -- I love YOUR story -- and it is real, unlike mine.