(A little bit from "Ashes and Seed Corn", another novel underway...)
Might there be a thing called generational memory? Perhaps that is not the right word for it, of course. Perhaps there is a psychologist or a wise, learned man who studies such things that has a special name for such an occurrence, and he would tell you what it is called. It would be the sort of situation where one set of circumstances is passed on from generation to generation. I'm not talkin' here about the sort of thing where a family stays in poverty or where a family is made up mostly of folks who aren't all that bright, either. I'm talkin' about the sort of thing where by chance or by design or by the same kind of luck or fortune or whatever you might call it, things happen in the same sorts of ways. And folk do the same sorts of things. And make the same sorts of mistakes. This story I been tellin' has a lot of folk doin' the same sort of things that other folk done, and from age to age, it seems, some things just never change – as little as folk change.
So to put it all together, we 'been seein' things that look a lot like a story that someone made up and put onto a motion picture-show, but yet, you see, a lot of stuff ain't just made up – it's for real, and folk get hurt and stung because of it. Hurtin' and stingin' ain't so bad except for when it don't end, and it just goes on and on. Like from one generation to the next.
Just like I'm talkin' about.
So that rain goes fallin' on the just and the unjust, and it don't really matter which of them knows which is which. I mean, you never really know quite how just or unjust you are, do you? Do the evil know they are evil? Do the arrogant know themselves to be arrogant? Again, I ain't quite sure. It seems I remember Mr. MacBurney down the road sayin' one time “you can never say 'thank you, God, for makin' me humble.'” So when the rain falls on the unjust, I suppose they think they deserve it every bit as much as the just, whatever that all quite means.
The spot where his house stood is pretty near where that main road between Croydon and Cotton City runs – the same road that goes through Pole Creek, makes itself a dog leg there and by means of Rural Route 4 connects up Highway 26 in the north with Highway 32 in the south, and is the artery for all of Crawford County. The only folk who take Route 4 north of Haverland would be the Switchbacks and them that live north of their place.
Miles Standish Morgan lived in a crusty-dry little tar paper shack that was the biggest little tar paper shack you ever did see, as he began addin' on to it the day after he finished building it. It looked like something out of a dream, I'm told, with rooms and walls goin' everwhichways, and chickens and such runnin' loose all day long.
Right outside of that shack there was a little footpath that old Morgan used to walk down – just a few hundred yards away and to the south of his shack, and it led a man right this little draw. Actually, it was more than just a draw – more like a little valley or a hollow in the side of the rise heading back to Pole Creek, and some say that's where another creek used to run – one that emptied itself into Pole Creek along time ago. The valley is deep enough to warrant a little bridge all its own. A little wooden bridge that someone built a long time ago, and that only took a man by foot across the valley. It was too small for a horse, too small for much anything else. You could walk across it, though.
Folk who used to live out near there said that old Miles Standish Morgan used to get in the habit of thinking it was his bridge – that it somehow belonged to him, seeing as how he lived the closest to it, and that he was the one who walked on it every day. A couple of times folks heard him hollerin' at some kids or others who walked across it when he was nearby. Folks said he only really got to hollerin' real loud when he had been hittin' the bottle . Sometimes I guess we're all kind of like that, though, aren't we?
About the hollerin', I mean – not necessarily about the bottle.