Son of a Gun
Son of a Gun
“There was a man ... my daddy’s voice was as soft and low as a lullaby—would break the heart of Lucifer himself to hear him and Ma sing harmony.” Leo told her then about his sisters, Josey’s harmonica and Nataki . . . “she said our music would make the angels weep.”
“What’d you do?” Ruby asked, picturing the scene.
“Strummed. I got a guitar. We sang all the old Kentucky songs to the Texas wilderness to while away the summertime darkness.” He told her about watching the lightning chain at eight years old, when they first settled the ranch. “Nothing but the wind and the rain to argue with,” he said. Lost in his own memories, Leo went on, “After Ma died of the measles, just before my daddy followed her, he said, ‘I tell you boys, if either of you remember how your ma taught you how to pray, get down on your kneebones this night and tell Him up yonder you’re beholden for the life he give us.’”
Chagrined at his rambling, Leo rolled over and looked at Ruby. “I oughta’ save part of my breath for breathing.” He was talking to her as he’d talked to no one in years.
“You’re good company, Leo Barlow.”
"Guess if you're going to spend your whole life with yourself you need to learn to be good company."
Memoir is my favorite kind of writing, so there are a lot of memories tucked in my novel of the old west. Using fiction, I tried to capture emotions that were genuine. I've never lived in Texas, nobody in my family played a harmonica, and ma didn't die of the measles, but I remember summer nights listening to my daddy sing, listening to my mama pray. I remember the joy of pouring those memories out to Dee like sweet syrup, introducing him to the girl I'd been. And I remember learning to enjoy my own company. The story behind this story is true.