“Confession” – 52 Pickup, Week 9

Well, you asked…

This week is a hum-dinger!

Question #10

From Lori Saunders :

“Following week 49’s questions, I have a similar one. In one book you wrote about Walt going out to his parent’s ranch and describe the hinges on the gates of the entrance. Seems his father was quite handy and made those. Ever since then I’ve been able to see that ranch in my mind and was wondering if you’ll ever do a story that involves flashbacks of Walt’s childhood and give us a glimpse of his parent’s life and his in the ranch?”

Hi Lori,

Yep, that was a sequence from The Dark Horse where Walt accidentally visits his childhood home up on Buffalo Creek where we discover the ranch is being leased and caretaken, which begs the question—why doesn’t Walt live there? Other than simple geography where the commute into Durant would be over an hour in length, there appears to be something that happened there. Walt’s relationship with his grandfather wasn’t an easy one, and there are glimpses of that in Dry Bones, so obviously there’s a history that had some cataclysmic effects on the family. Since you readers know my patterns, I’m sure you know I’ll be circling around at one point and dealing with these things.

You mention the hand-made hinges as a focal point, and that’s important. My grandfather Lucian was a blacksmith and a marvelous human being, and I remember as a child waking up at his place in the morning with that ta-ting, ting, ting, ting of the hammer hitting the anvil as he made his own horse shoes from bar stock. I think when you’re creating a world you have to be specific, and the hinges were a result of that.

As an unrelated story, I can tell you about my first murder.

When I visited them, there were certain chores I was expected to do and one was to go feed the pig which required carrying two five-gallon buckets of slop down to the sty behind the barn which wasn’t too bad of a job but for one adversary I had—a foul-tempered, bullying banty rooster who enjoyed bedeviling me with his spurs.

Being only five-years-old, one morning I started for the barn in short pants and was confronted by my nemesis, standing in the barnyard waiting for me. At a disadvantage, holding the two, full buckets as I was, he knew he had me and came racing forward to butcher my bare legs.

Well, there weren’t too many options–either drop the buckets and run, or try and stand there and endure the onslaught, but as I was walking I came upon another. Just as the rooster jumped up to get me, I brought the two, five-gallon buckets together, spilling a little slop but more important crushing my tormentor’s head. I watched as he dropped to the dirt at my feet, stone dead.

I went ahead and fed the pig and came back in without a word, sitting down as my grandfather joined my grandmother and me at the breakfast table. After grace, he pronounced, “Rooster’s dead.”

My grandmother, Madie, looked up at him. “Any idea how?”

He glanced at me and with the little bit of spillage from the buckets I was pretty sure it wasn’t much of a mystery. “Haven’t a clue…”

Not only had I committed my first murder, but I had my first accomplice.

—Craig Johnson

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