Friday, March 31, 2017


Pickles and Charley Ice Cream

Pickles, he says, kicking a rock
Outta the way with his scuffed up old shoe
And I says, Yessir?
Pickles, he repeats, What say you and me
Run off right here in the middle of the week
And go git ourselves married?

And I says, I can’t do that, Mr Charley
And he frowns, Why not?
‘Cause I’m just a kid, I says
I got to get outta the 4th grade first!
And he grins, Ain’t you been in the 4th grade
For nigh on ten years?

And I says, I reckon so
But you know why that is,
On account of Miz Ratlipp don’t know how
To teach nothing but the 4th grade
And they can’t git no more teachers
To come up here in these parts.

Then why don’t you just quit? he asks
And knocks a fruit jar off a fence
With a slingshot
I don’t know, I answer,
‘Cause I like school, maybe
Maybe I  just like readin’ and stuff.

I cain’t read, he sniffs, that’s why
I gotta take you to the store with me
So they won’t give me no taters
When I ask for turmaters
And he pushes the hair outta his eyes
And winks at me like an old gray haired fool.

But taters are brown, Mr Charley, I says
And maters are red!
Why you can’t tell ‘em apart?
You don’t have to read to know your colors!
And he blushes and says,
Yeah, well, I’m colorblind, too.

And we walk along in silence for a bit
And he says, Why you always
Gotta call yore teacher out her name?
You know her name be Mz Rattcliff!
That’s just mean, just plain mean!
I know, I giggle, but I don’t mean to stop.

She a purty woman, he says softly
Like you, purty and fine and smart as a whip!
Why, Mr Charley! I laugh and look away,
You just asked me to marry you
And here you are talkin’ bout another woman!

Well, you says you too young to marry, he says
Well, you too old! I yell, You too old to vote!
You so old, your blood done turned to dust
Right there in your veins!
And you can remember all the way back to Moses!

He put his gnarled hands into his back pockets
And says, Yeah, yeah, I reckon I can
Moses wuz a right smart young feller for 82
But he wuz always gittin’ us in trouble
And wouldn’t let us eat no onions.

And I look at him like he crazy
(And he is!)
And I says, Mr Charley?
And he says, What?
I chewed me a nice blade of grass
And I says, Why you like me so much?

‘Cause me and you go together, he grins
We is like two peas in a pod
You tall and skinny and I’m short and fat
You watch out fer me and I watch out fer you
And I been knowin’ you all of yore life.

Yeah, I says, You knew my grand-daddy
And his grand-daddy and his great-grand-daddy…..
And his….
Heck! he huffs, I ain’t near as old as all that!
Well, didn’t you tell me you was here
Before the Indians come?

I lie a lot, he says, blowing out his breath
And looking embarrassed
I ain’t got nuthin’ better to do
You don’t really bulieve anythin’ I says, do you?
‘Course not, I tease him,
You even lie about your name!

No. No………..
I never lie bout my name, he protests
Never ’bout that!
Ah, hell, Mr Charley, I says,
You know your name
Ain’t no Charley Ice Cream!

Is, too! He pouts, Is, too! Is, too!
And he looks almost like he’s gonna cry
So I simmer down and get quiet for a bit
Cause we all know how sensitive he is
And we all know how he got that name.

When he was born, his mama couldn’t keep him
She give birth to ‘im and hid him in an ice cream truck
That was being driven outta town to a far away city
That broke down where we live
Way back here in the hills.

When they found him
They said he was like a little blue icicle
With blue eyes to boot and little blue toes
And Granny Simmons took him in
And raised him and named him Charley
And she loved that boy for a mighty long time
Until the day she died.

That was a long time before my time
And I never knew Granny Simmons
But I heard tell she was an awful good woman
And her daughter’s wild daughter
Became my mama
(And she couldn’t keep me neither.)

So she gave me away
And I grew up, in this place and that
And folks took care of me till I was big enough
To be on my own and do for myself
And I live in what’s left of Granny Simmon’s old house.

Mr Charley lives down the road
In a remodeled old chicken coop
And he gets his check and we go to town
And he buys me butter pecan ice cream
And teases me about getting married
And I reckon we do alright.

I don’t rightly know how old he is
Heck, I don’t even know how old I am!
They just started keeping records up here
And nobody remembers
And nobody much cares.

Pickles, Mr Charley says after a while
What you gonna be when you grow up?
I don’t know, Mr Charley, I shake my head
Maybe a cash register girl at the dime store?
Or a waitress at one of them cafes?

Naw, he says, You gonna do better’n that!
I seen a movie once at a movie house
And they have these real purty ladies
With real shiny hair, all golden and fine
And I mean to see you a- makin’ movies one day!

Really, Mr Charley? I says, all excited
You really think I could do that kinda stuff?
And live in big houses and look beautiful?
And he says, Yes, mam! You already got the gold hair!
The only thing we have to do is maybe change yore name!

And we walked on right in to town
Just a-plannin’ and dreamin’ and Mr Charley, he says,
Pickles, you wait, girl, just you wait!
He was gonna take me to see a real live movie!
Soon as we could catch us a ride
Up to that big ole city.

Mr Charley was always telling me tales like that
But I listened and I smiled and I let him talk
He really  wasn’t no kin to me but he was all I had
No body knew where that boy had come from
Or who his real family was.

Till one day,
This limo rolled up into town
And a man in a suit with a tan and a smile
Asked all around about an old man named Charley
And the townsfolk just stared
And pointed our way.

Pickles? Mr Charley says
And I says, What?
Ain’t this here a mighty fine car?
And I says, It surely is, Mr Charley, it surely is
And we put down the windows
And let the breeze blow back our hair.

I don’t know where we’re going to
But we goin’ there in style
All the town and country folk
Lined up to watch us go
Yelling, Good luck in L.A.! and shouting, Ya’ll write!
And waving at Pickles and Charley Ice Cream.

Mr Charley? I says as we head toward the west
What, Pickles? he asks as the chauffeur speeds up
You think it’s time to change my name?
I don’t know how I got this ole name anyhow!
I do, he says with a mischievous grin
Yore mama left you in a pickle jar!

©by Voo
May 22, 2011
11:46 p.m.