You can get the damndest country songs stuck in your head hanging around with white friends, and growing up just outside of Ft. Sill Oklahoma a little black boy doesn't have many choices and the Indians are on the reservation.
Sport and I met when I was 13. Moms moved us back to Oklahoma to be next to Master Sergeant Grampa U.S. Army Retired and the pee wee football coach discovered I’d arrive at the ball hard and fast while Sport would get there fast and hard. I love that fool like people love brothers they don’t have to live with, like someone comfortable even though he is a country fuck.
When he called me that Saturday morning talking about going noodling I knew I had other things to do. Grampa said he was going to kick my ass if I didn’t get the pole barn put up on his land out the other way, but his threats usually came with a smile and I got things done anyhow even if it wasn’t on his time so I let him talk me into it without having to talk about my Momma.
You could always hear Sport coming even before you saw him and that’s even if he wasn’t saddled up to Miss Chatelaine his overly loud F-150 but when he was in her the next county could. Black folks aint the only ones who like loud music, but the difference is in the bass and not the guitar.
Sport got to the little trailer I stay in on Gramps land far enough away for privacy but close enough for dinner right as the sun was rising. Miss Chatelaine loud as ever would have brought gramps out with one of his guns if I were any closer.
“S’up Soul Brother”
we said repeating the greeting that we’d shared a million times before.
Sport’s actual name was Hartwell Carver and his family had been in Oklahoma since they first shot the gun to let the White man carve out sections of it for their very own. We were going to go to one of the many little lakes that dot the landscape that was on one of his uncle’s stakes.
“Soul Brother where’s beer?”
Sport didn't have many words but the ones he spoke had meaning.
“Yeah Sport grab the cooler, but us a case on ice before the stores closed last night. Was gonna take it to the head myself putting up the pole barn but I ‘spect there’s enough to share with yo ass”.
I don’t know how people go hungry in Oklahoma when there is noodling. It’s all about holes and you don’t even need bait, hell you’re the bait. You get yourself down in the muddy water and kind of bob along the banks looking for a hole. In a good 3 out of 5 of those things you can find a throwback creature that was going to be the star of my apology to Grampa the good out the frying pan 45 pound catfish. Just bob along the bank stick your foot in wait for him to bite it with that sandpaper mouth of his and yank his behind on out.
Sport and I filled up Ms. Chatelaine with the cooler and all the gear we’d need in ourselves and headed out before 7 in the morning had really got there stopped by the local McDonalds for 8 mcmuffins apiece as a light snack and headed for the spot. Sport had the ability to take a sandwich in multiples and had downed all 8 by the time we got to turn off the highway and the bare road that led to the lake I still had 3 left I’d leave in Ms. Chatelaine and let Sport try and talk me out of later.
“Sport I can’t take this sad shit anymore let a brother start the day undepressed”
he was feeling cool that day cause he let me without bitching and soon as I reached down into my backpack to pull out some ¾ beat BOOM both of us hit our heads on the roof as Miss Chatelaine bucked.
“The fuck Sport how many times we been down this road for you to be hitting bumps and shit”
“Ayup twernt no bump”
Sport said rubbing the contact on his head like it felt good.
“Well whatever, dude watch that”
he answered with the national gesture of Sportania his middle finger.
I hoped out of Miss Chatelaine to open the gate to the last quarter mile or so to the lake we were fishing in and let Sport drive on up. I wanted to get a little warm up in before we hoped in that cold water so I jogged the last bit in. By the time I got to the bank Sport had already cracked a beer and tossed me one. I chugged it down without taking a breath and we both jumped in the water. No need to torture yourself with tippy toeing in better to take the bull by the horns.
Bobbing in the water is pleasant. The Oklahoma sun is plenty hot and it does shine through the water but the water is so cool we played like hippos regulating our temperature by either stooping down or standing up as the day demanded.
Sport got lucky in his first few holes and pulled out fish that would satisfy both our families before 1 o’clock. Me I couldn’t seem to get a good grip on the one I saw plus when he bit me he rubbed my knuckles so raw I actually yelped. Wasn’t fun hearing Sport tease me about my bitchiness but damn it hurt. We had just got done sitting on a bank about half a mile from Ms. Chatelaine arguing over who was going to have to lug the fish back when I felt it. Felt like a current, but this lake was one of the ones hooked up to the Ogallala aquifer it didn’t have a river to feed it that was above ground, but dang I could feel a pull. Round about that time the pull started to get strong enough for even Sport to notice it and we stared at each other and jumped the fuck out.
It was an amazing sight. The middle of the lake started to whip up like one of Momma’s lemon chiffon toppings accompanied by a sort of hum. Sport and I headed back for the truck forgetting about the catch he’d worked so hard to pull out of them holes and as we were jogging back to the car the lake started to hum some more, like a negro spiritual being sung by a fog horn on crack it hummed.
We got on Miss Chatelaine climbed up on her roof and spied the lake which had moved from lemon pie to crashing half a mile wide whirl pool. The water was angry and heading elsewhere and for half an hour we watched it saying very little beyond “dayum” then it was over. Lake Get Us Some Fish was empty as a whores heart and not near as pretty. All I got out of Sport for the next 10 minutes of staring was
“Sylvia! That boy did not get that barn put up like I know I told him to. If I get that hay delivered up here I’m gonna take my belt off on that ass”
“Daddy I saw him going out with Sport this morning”
Sylvia knew that would soften me. I’d spent long nights convincing the boy to leave his twin and take that scholarship to Caltech and he did it. They don’t have a football team at Caltech and Astrophysics is no major for a jock. Couldn’t have been easy watching Sport on Saturdays rocking opposing tailback’s dreams for OU. This will probably be the last summer Al comes back here at all what with Sport probably going out a first round draft choice and him going to MIT for grad school.
Algebra is a good kid smarter than hell like his father. I don’t know what made Sylvia pick another Army man for her husband, hell she’d cry because she had to leave the flowers when I got transferred around, never thought she’d pick that life again. I used to call him “the boy” when I met him even though he was by then a Captain, but a Daddy has to maintain a certain menace with his daughters suitors even if they outrank you.
First cross words I ever had with them was over naming the boy Algebra.
“Daddy just call him Al it’s real important to Danny’s family”
Why the hell he got a name like Daniel and the boy has to be Algebra”
“Daddy it’s important to his
Louisiana folks you know them geechies down there.
Grandma Louvienia says it will mark him make him smart”
“Well just fuck me”
I will be because that boy kicked out a perfect score on an SAT practice when I gave it to him on the computer when he was 15 and that’s without the help of his Daddy who didn’t come back from
Iraq or wherever else it was he got sent. They don’t tell their families I wouldn’t have. His last post was in DC and I didn’t want the boy coming up there.
“Sylvia I’m going down to the VA and get somebody to dig these holes and that 100 bucks I was going to give Al’s gonna find a home in someone elses wallet.
“Ok Daddy hurry back”
The proposition of a $100 dollars for digging 6 holes turned out to be a hot on the streets to the newly returned vets in
Lawton’s black VA. There are two in Lawton serving one Black and one White but no one seemed to mind. Wendell was a nicer kid for a 40 plus year old man and as an ex Ranger who still worshipped his body more than good enough to help dig some holes. Ft. Sill
We got out to my other piece where I keep 4 horses and a goat to keep them company around 11:00 am and went to work. Rather he went to work while I measured and supervised.
“Damn Sarge couldn’t you have rented an auger or something” Wendell said.
“I did rent an auger you”
One hole then 4 then 6 the work went by easy, until Wendell said
“Listen! Hear that?”
I did hear it sounded like Satan’s tire going flat coming out of the last hole we had dug.
“Wendell what’s the weather like today?”
“Look around Sarge hell we ain’t even got clouds”
“Answer the question Troop. Did you check the weather look over there”
A solid 5 miles away in the distance looked to be a tornado, kind of like what the Indians call plains walkers where it looks like two or three twisters walking around the county like a crazy slinky but these were different. Massive columns of 3 twisters in the horizon but I’ll be damned if I could see if they were moving.
Right about then the first pole we had placed securely and concreted no more than 5 feet in the ground took off like a patriot missile and just as loudly. BOOM! up in the air a telephone pole goes so high the bitch looked like a toothpick.
“Sarge what the entire hell is happening here”
“Don’t know Wendell, but I’ll suggest we get our asses on down the road before any of these other poles get the same idea”
As if to agree a second pole lit out with a boom that this time was more akin to close in artillery rounds and both of us having heard what that means before ran our behinds to my truck and by the time I fired it up threw it in drive and spun wheels off my 25 acres poles 3 and 4 cooked off and in the rear view mirror I could see if I had parked on the other side of where I had today would have been a very bad one.
First thing I do once I clear the gate to the spot I neglect to open on the way out is to hit up Sirius channel 145 for news, but it doesn’t catch a signal for some reason. Flipping around the radio the only thing we catch is a radio preacher or what we call daytime AM programming in
“And behold” the preacher thundered
"Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near!”
“Um Sarge” Wendell said looking like the child a trained killer shouldn’t
“Do you think we have to listen to that?”
Switched off the radio and rode in silence though fast as the truck wanted to because the stationary tornados were multiplying back to the homestead.
I was happy to see Ms. Chatelaine out by the trailer where Al stays when he’s here when Wendell and I turned off the highway. The boy managed to turn that double wide into quite a science experiment of computer equipment internet connections and pictures of naked women. Can’t say I blamed him much I spent most of my youth in environments like that with the added element of guns, foreign locales, bullets and IEDs.
“Sport you know what’s happening out there?”
“Don’t ask Pinky ask the Brain” he told me
“Algebra didn’t get that barn put up” I let him know giving him a loving smack to the back of the head
“Almost got a pole blown up my ass doing what I asked you, any idea how what’s happening?”
“No Grampy not really but I’m getting some ideas from my first 10 minutes here and I don’t like what the Rock seems to be cooking”
He said clicking wildly and moving the web from news to science and back again.
“Check this out though, This is the GOES x-ray monitor from the NOAA space weather site, see that bouncing graph?”
The graph looked like an EKG from a rich man who was getting every last penny he had taken from him in shocking fashion but every 5 minutes or so. Huge spikes.
“What’s it mean son?”
“Grampa this graph measures x-ray radiation from the sun, normally the sun is laying around here where it says C or common, when we have flares it goes up to here the M or moderate”
“Fuck Algebra what’s X mean and what’s it mean that this graph has 10 in the last 5 hours and is that scale 50 big for an X? That’s the smallest X that’s in the whole graph.”
“GramPater having just one of those could turn out the lights all over the planet we’ve had at least 10 and oh Shit!”
“watch your mouth in front of me boy”
“ooooh dayum Soul Brother you gonna get a whoopin”
“Watch yours too other boy what you saying Algebra”
“Watch the graph”
“what’s at the end of the scale” said Sport
“I guess we’re about to find out” said Algebra as the red line marking the sun’s x ray strength jumped off the computer screen.
Not 3 minutes later another sound rocked the homestead of Master Sergeant Martin Jackson as the “fwump fwump fwump” of military blackhawks engulfed the trailer. All 4 of the men ran out of the trailer to look on the horizon toward
. The Oklahoma wind carried muffled booms and crackles the base looked like a military hornets nest sprayed with get up and get out, and to top it all off there was now a fucking boulder sitting on the hood of my truck like a giant had picked it up and placed it nice and gently, then used it to roll it flat like it was a rolling pen. Ft. Sill
“Al let’s go get your mother” I said.
“Woo doggies gramps in Ms. Chatelaine!” he replied.
Wendell said nothing
Sport said “SHEITE!”
“Boy watch your mouth”