The scene this week is in my WIP FAT AND SASSY. It’s 1942 and Bea and Casey have returned to Arkansas where Bea grew up, in search of work. To lighten their spirits, and hoping to catch a few fish to feed the family too, they take a ride out to Bear Creek Trestle.
Return to TUESDAY TALES for more stories to ‘whet your whistle’.
BEAR CREEK TRESTLE
Dust swirled up around the old Chevy as it slid to a stop in the graveled turn out. The murky cloud enveloped the black sedan.
“‘Evan!” Bea screeched. “Be more careful.”
Casey knew he was in trouble when she called him Evan, and not Casey or Daddy. A slight smile spread across his face as he taunted back, “I’m surprised we still have a floorboard back there, the way you’ve been stomping on it since we left Myrtle.”
Papa Goss chuckled, exiting the front passenger door as fast as his ageing knees allowed. He was glad he wasn’t sequestered in the back with his daughter and the four young ‘uns. Bea’s brother, Sam, followed, also happy to get out of his cramped ride between the other two men.
The children spilled out of the car in a flurry of arms and legs. Mae, the oldest at five years old, led the way with her toddler siblings, Bill and Helen, right behind.
“Ona Mae,” Bea hollered from the back seat, “Come get your brother.” Arms handed Tom – the baby- out to her eldest daughter. Bea inched her way out the door, hoisting her pregnant frame up. “I’ll be glad when this chillin’s birthed,” she muttered, to no one in particular.
The men headed to the rear of the car and unstrapped the fishing poles and gear. They headed off, traveling up Walnut Creek, leaving Bea to get the children to the creek for some swimming and playing. Casey swung his bucket, whistling a jaunty tune as he disappeared around the bend.
“I want to go with Daddy and Papa,” Bill cried out.
Bea took the baby back from Mae and hoisted him on her hip. “You can’t go with Daddy. You’ll scare the fish away. Let’s go get wet in the creek.”
“Besides, you’re too little,” Mae piped in. She headed towards the water’s edge with her siblings in tow like a mother duck and her ducklings. The big mother duck, mother of them all, brought up the rear.
The children squealed with delight, feeling the cold creek wash up around their feet. Bea plopped herself down on a large rock. From this vantage point she could rest her weary body, yet keep an eye on the children.
“Mama, Mama, look at me,” three year old Bill called, wading deeper into the creek.
“Be careful! Get back closer to the bank,” Bea responded. “Ona Mae, watch your brothers and sisters.”
“Prissy, get back here,” Bea called out to inquisitive two year old Helen, who was wandering off down the bank peeking into puddles on the side.
Commands echoed from Bea’s perch on the rock.
“Don’t get too far in the water, you’ll drown.”
“Watch out for the water snakes.”
“Don’t go out too deep.”
Mae stood ankle deep, close to the side of the bank. She didn’t want to drown. “Mama, I want to go up there.” She pointed to the iron trestle bridge spanning the creek.
“No! You can’t go up there, it’s too dangerous.”
“I’ll be careful. I’ll hold onto the railing.”
“No,” Bea repeated. “It’s not safe. A train may come. And it’s too far up.”
“But you said Papa helped build the bridge. I want to go see it,” Mae insisted.
“Yes he did, years before you were born. But you can look from down here. Besides, I need you here to watch the young ‘uns.”
“But Mama …”
“Don’t sass back to me, Ona Mae Jones. Want some pepper in your mouth?” Bea grimaced as she felt a huge kick in her side.
“Ornery kid, this one’s feisty,” she mumbled.
Now where were those men, she thought. It wasn’t fair that she was saddled here with four children and a huge belly while they were off relaxing and fishing. She’d rather be up the creek with a pole in her hand than watching children. After all, any Arkie gal worth her nettle could sure ‘nuff handle a pole. She’d probably pull in more fish too.
She glanced up the creek in the direction the men had headed. Where were they? She hoped they didn’t have a flask with them. She hadn’t noticed one, but in the confusion of everyone exiting the car it was hard to tell what equipment they headed out with.
She grew up with ‘shine in her life. It was the way of the hills and paid for the clothes on the backs of her and her brothers, as few and far between as they were. She even had good ole’ moonshine to thank for her husband. Casey ran shine for Papa. He’d come down from Missouri to pick up a load and run it back up north. His twinkling eyes, cheerful disposition and tender smile had stolen her heart. But now that she was a wife and a mother, and away from the hills, she didn’t want white lightening in her life anymore.
A slight rumbling in the air echoed through the narrow gorge, interrupting her reverie. The earth began to tremble and vibrate.
“Train,” she hollered. “Kids, get over here by me.”