Like I’m always tellin’ you, Buzz thought he was born with a tongue that had been stolen straight from the mouth of an angel and that nothin’ and no one could resist the stuff that floated out of that great big pie hole.
Except for Beccy Swizzle that is. Buzz could be havin’ one of those days when he could make a blind man smile and then he’d get to Beccy Swizzle and she was like a cold day in Minnesota.
“She ain’t got a heart, that one” said Buzz after his twentieth attempt to get Beccy smilin’.
“Maybe she ain’t got a brain, too,” he said, a little unkindly.
I’m thinkin’ that if she didn’t have a brain she’d be doin’ nothin’ but smilin’, the way Farmer George’s boy does ever since he was kicked in the head from Daisy the bull. Yeh, you heard right, a bull named Daisy. No wonder he kicked people in the head. Anyhoo I’m getting’ all confused now, what was it we were talkin’ about? Oh, yeh, Buzz and Beccy and the smilin’.
I heard from Tommy Kinder, who’d heard it from Beccy’s Maw’s best friend, that Beccy came from a family of folks who were missin’ muscles in their faces. You could tell them the saddest story that a man (or woman) could ever tell and that family would just look at you mean, like.
So if this was true, then Buzz didn’t have a snowball’s chance of making Beccy or anyone with that blood, smile. And yeh, you can guess I never told Buzz that little bit of the story. I just bet him 5 bits that he couldn’t do it.
“You see if I don’t make her smile,” he said, real honest and mad, straight to my face.
I hate to take a man’s five bits but a bet’s a bet. Except I knew Buzz would never have the five bits to give me. Even if he did, his Maw would steal it out of his britches before he was awake.
That was the kinda Maw that she was.
Buzz felt that he needed to warm up to compete with Beccy and her sour face; the way one of those runners does in competitions. So Buzz would start the day smiling, and that included at school when he got into trouble from Miss Hoster for smilin’ when she was tellin’ the class all about her cat and how it had been hit by Old Creeky McGuire’s tractor.
He smiled even when he was eatin’ and I reckons, you should get some sort of medal to be able to do that stuff. Buzz is real talented in ways I ain’t sure if God meant him to be.
Anyhoo, Saturday morning and the dead faced Swizzle family are out and about goin’ here and there but you’d bet that they’d just come from a funeral or were goin’ to one.
Buzz stands right in the middle of the sidewalk and grins the biggest grin he’s ever grinned at the Swizzles. Boy, I didn’t know anyone’s mouth could go that wide (apart from the wide-mouthed-frog we got in our back yard).
You can see from the look on Beccy’s paw’s face that he ain’t too happy with Buzz threatin’ his kinsfolk with a stupid grin, and so Beccy’s paw steps forward to ask Buzz to move. But Buzz thinks that the paw is goin’ to hit him and steps back off the sidewalk, and tumbles face down into some horse manure.
Well, I ain’t so sure that the Swizzles do have a muscle problem in their faces,‘cause the way they laughed, you would have thought they were gonna burst.
And Buzz, well he wasn’t smilin’ anymore but I did give him his five bits, ‘cause he sure earned it.
I remember the first time that Buzz fell in love. It was with a pretty girl called Sally Watson. Buzz had just hit thirteen years of age and his hormones were fit to be tied. I mean those things were running around his body and making him feel all sorts of things – good and bad.
Sally Watson and her family had blown in from Minnesota the previous month and had caused ructions all along Main Street, one way and another.
Her father had come to our little part of the world to ‘help his career’ – apparently he was a banker or something. Sally’s mother was the kind of woman who’d step on you to get somewhere else – I don’t mean to talk unkindly of the woman but she was real mean and ambitious. So Buzz hanging about their door wasn’t the kind of thing they were looking for. I reckon if Mister Watson had got it into his head to buy a gun then Buzz would be picking the pellets out of his bee-hind. I kid you not.
“I have just seen the most beautiful girl in the world,” was what he said that Wednesday.
“She’s a vision,” said Buzz. Let me tell you with a hand on my heart that Buzz never, ever said things like that before the hormones went crazy like.
Buzz shrugged his shoulders, ate a couple of my mom’s cookies and then remembered he was in love and a gave out a huge sigh.
“I am in love,” he said after lying down on my sofa.
“I hope it ain’t catchin’,” I said, not wanting to have to lie on people’s sofas or anythin’.
“She’s an angel.”
“Who?” I said again, remembering that he hadn’t told me nothin’.
“That new girl, the one whose family have moved into number seventeen, the house at the top of the hill, the one nearest Heaven,” he said. I kid you not, that’s what he said. Buzz, newly turned thirteen and he’s talking like….well a crazy kid.
I asked him if he had swallowed somethin’ real bad and Buzz said that it was just the breath of love. My stomach nearly dumped my breakfast on the sofa beside Buzz ‘cause that kind of talk makes a man feel kinda sick. I kid you not.
I left Buzz on the sofa to get better and went and played Cowboys and Injuns with the Hardy Twins who were only twelve and immune from love.
The next day I was walking to the Harper’s place, up on Indian Ridge and I spots Buzz sitting outside the Watson’s house, doing nothing else but looking at their windows with his hands under his chin and sighing. No idea why he kept sighing but he seemed to like it.
“You okay?” I asked.
He just nodded his head and wouldn’t turn to look at me, he just kept on looking at the house.
“She’s in there. My angel,” said Buzz.
It was then that Mister Watson stormed out the house and came up to me, real angry like.
“Are you related to this lunatic?” Mister Watson screamed, putting his face so close to mine that I could see the hairs up his nose.
“No sir, he’s my best friend in the whole world.”
“Do you know that friend of yours has been sitting outside our house all night,” said Mister Watson.
“I did not sir, but surely he ain’t causing trouble?” I said.
“You’d think? At least not until your lunatic friend started singing at 3 in the morning, at the top of his voice. What have you got to say to that?” Man was he angry.
I said that I didn’t know that Buzz could sing and that was when Mister Watson started chasin’ me down the hill. That man could run fast when he was angry.
The following morning I just happen to be looking out of my bedroom window getting ready for church when I saw Buzz getting chased up Main Street by Mister Watson in his Sunday best. Mister Watson that is, Buzz didn’t have a Sunday best.
I reckon the path of true love ain’t that easy as that English guy said, or maybe it was the Bible, I ain’t too sure.
I didn’t really see Buzz over the next two weeks, except when he was being chased by Mister Watson. I hung out with the rest of the town’s kids who were all safe from this love thing.
I remember that warm Saturday evening down by the stream, I saw Buzz sitting under the large Southern Magnolia. I thought he was laughin’ but he wasn’t, as I got closer I sees that he was cryin’ real hard.
“She loves another.”
“Sally Watson. She says she loves Jesus and she ain’t got time for me,” said Buzz, who was real heartbroken.
“What you gonna do?” I asked.
And he told me that he hadn’t a darned clue what he was going to do as there was no way he could compete with Jesus.
I guess he got that one right. The next day he came around to my place to eat all our food, like he usually did, but he looked a darned sight happier.
I asked him if he had decided what to do about Sally Watson and he said:
bobby stevenson 2016