In this weeks article I will share a nice story. Relax for a few minutes and read about the indomitable Louann. This is one of my favorite chapters from the book Requiem for a Redneck. Enjoy-share it with your friends.
Louann was a victim of numbers. With five more years of public schooling, thirty more points of I.Q., and eight more teeth, she could have been a movie star. She was all right to look at when she kept her mouth shut – which was rarely. She could also look halfway intelligent under the same circumstances. Louann could talk more and say less than any woman I had ever met. Her vocabulary was limited but she made up for it by using the word “like” and the phrase “don’t youknow” quite often. A sample sentence might be:
“I like caught this don’t you know fish and like I pulled it in out of the don’t you knowwater and like it was slippery. You know what I mean?”
When I met her she was in her late twenties. She was about five feet six inches tall with long straight mousy brown hair which she always said used to be “you know, like it was blonde, don’t you know.” Louann wore cutoffs and a t-shirt in the summer and jeans and a sweatshirt in the winter. She was barefoot unless it was really cold. When it was really cold she wore work boots.
Louann was rather uncommunicative around men, so I only knew her from observation. After she got to know Marsha, though, she told Marsha everything in the world about her life, her activities, her ways of getting money, and her alcohol consumption. Marsha, of course, told me everything. It was much more than I wanted to know.
My observations were that Louann was very gentle and understanding when dealing with animals and plants. She could communicate with the animals on their level, and I once watched her squatting and staring at a tomato plant for hours. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, “I’m like watching it grow, don’t you know.”
The dogs might have barked the first time she came to the house to go fishing, but after that, they started wagging their tails when Harce’s truck pulled into the driveway. If Louann wasn’t with Harce, they would bark at him, otherwise they would come sit in front of Louann and let her pet them and talk to them.
Louann helped grow Harce’s animals. There were always chickens, hogs, and a cow or two around “the property.” Harce and Louann never had to buy meat or vegetables. She saw to that. But she told Marsha that even though she loved watching the animals grow, she never named them because “You can, like, eat a piece of you know steak but only if you don’t know any names, don’t you know. It’s like,you can’t eat Herman, but eating a don’t you know stranger is all right. See? That’s like why I don’t never name none of them, don’t you know. See, it’s all right to name a tomato plant don’t you know because you are only eating their babies, don’t you know and you don’t name their babies. You know? I name all my tomato plants, but like, I don’t never name a chicken. Not around here. You know?”
Louann was never idle. The deal on the firewood was that Harce cut and split the firewood. Louann used a hatchet to split wood scraps into kindling. Splitting kindling is a dangerous art form. Louann could patiently cut strips of wood to an amazing degree of exactness without ever cutting herself with the hatchet. She separated the kindling into two piles: hardwood and heart pine. She tied the kindling into separate bundles that were about eight inches in diameter and ten inches long. The heart pine kindling was in big demand at the Magic Market.
While Harce was away looking for any possible way to make money other than get a job, Louann kept things together at home. She grew and canned vegetables. She fed and cared for the livestock with no names. She split kindling and picked up beer cans for recycling. One of Harce’s friends had built her a beer can crusher which consisted of two tires with an electric motor and a chute that fed the cans between the tires and spit them out into a barrel. There was never a shortage of beer cans around the sawmill. When Harce built the brick barbecue pit, she had him set a couple of mailboxes into the chimney. This way, when the chimney got hot, she could bake bread in the mailbox. It was the best bread anyone ever ate.
She gathered eggs. She used a homemade broom to sweep the front yard, just like her mother and grandmother had done. Louann stayed busy.
Louann was a closet alcoholic. She loved to get drunk, but she had certain restrictions. You see, as much as Harce drank, he didn’t like her when she was drunk. He threw violent fits when she got drunk. I guess I could understand. I only saw her really drunk twice and I really didn’t want to be anywhere near her at those times. She was a wild, incomprehensible, screaming banshee when she was drunk. Obviously she knew this also and she did a really good job of getting just the right buzz and maintaining it throughout the day. She had to be very devious, though, in getting alcohol. Harce would bring her a six pack of Keystone beer every three or four days and he thought that was all she drank. She wasn’t above drinking up the vanilla extract, but she didn’t really like the taste.
So Louann learned to scrounge money. She couldn’t drive because she got in trouble every time she tried to drive somewhere and Harce never left an operational vehicle on the premises when he was not there. If he drove off in one truck, he had the coil wire from the other truck in his pocket. But Louann could scrounge beer money better than anyone around The Colons. She sold kindling to the Magic Market, she sold eggs to the neighbors, she cheated on the recycled beer cans, she made kudzu vine wreaths at Christmas time. She was full of financial schemes – all centered on buying beer.
Since she couldn’t drive, she had to share her largesse with her friend from down the road, Mary Sue, who had the use of a 1979 Chevrolet Impala that ran most of the time. For two dollars worth of gas, one can of beer, and three fresh chicken eggs, Mary Sue would drive Louann to the Magic Market whenever she wanted to go. Louann had to be careful to keep any indication that she had any money from Harce or he would take it. He knew why she wanted money. If he didn’t think she had any, he would just think that she was only drinking the beer that he brought her. That’s what she wanted him to think. That’s kind of how she won the lottery.
Louann told Marsha about winning the lottery but swore her to secrecy. Marsha, of course, told me and swore me to secrecy. If Harce had ever known, his wrath would have been legendary. I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell him. The story went like this. I think it was Harley Johnson, I’m not sure, but it really doesn’t matter, who came to see Louann to buy a piece of cured ham. She wanted five dollars for the ham but Harley only had four dollars and an unscratched lottery ticket. Louann didn’t really want the lottery ticket, but Harley was nice and had a nice smile and he also threw in a can of Budweiser so she took the deal. She put the ticket in with her financial stash and forgot about it.
A couple of days later, Louann counted and found that she had saved up ten dollars. Harce was gone to cut trees so she got some eggs and walked down the road to fetch Mary Sue. They cranked the old Chevy and headed down to the Magic Market. Neither of them had drunk a beer in two days and it wasn’t that they really wanted a twelve pack, they really needed a twelve pack. Louann had stuffed her money in her pocket without looking at it and when she reached in to hand Mary Sue the gas money, the lottery ticket fell out on the floor of the car.
Mary Sue looked at it. “Where did you get the lottery ticket?”
Louann told her about Harley Johnson pawning it off on her.
Mary Sue was incredulous. “And you ain’t scratched it yet? I ain’t
never known nobody that didn’t scratch them even before they got
out of the store.” So they both huddled over the Lucky Seven card
while Louann took a dime out of her pocket and scratched.
She scratched the covering off of the first block. “What is it?”
asked Mary Sue.
“It’s a by damn seven,” Louann replied. “All we need is two more
sevens. Fat chance, don’t you know.” She scratched another one.
Mary Sue yelled a modified rebel yell. “Look, it’s another seven.
Scratch the next one.”
Louann hesitated. The tension built. She slowly scratched the
third block. There was silence.
“It’s another seven, that’s three of them,” Mary Sue whispered.
“Scratch that box down there. That’s the one that tells you what
Louann scratched it.
There was dead silence.
“My God,” whispered Louann
“Oh, oh my God,” whispered Mary Sue.
“It’s five thousand dollars,” whispered Louann. “That will buy
beer for the rest of my life.”
“What are we going to do?”
“We can’t let Harce know, he’ll take it.”
“We can’t take it into the Magic Market. Harry will tell
“Let’s buy some gas and go to town to the Indian store. He cain’t
tell nobody we know ‘cause they won’t go in there.”
Louann tried for a straight face and went into the Magic Market
to pay for the gas. Harry asked her about her beer, but she told him
she “wouldn’t be needing any today.” She ran out the door.
The Chevy was still running because Louann and Mary Sue had learned not to cut it off when it was away from home. They headed into town to the Indian store, which was the largest lottery purveyor around. They ran in and set the ticket on the counter. The clerk took the ticket and studied it carefully.
“You mus’ go to Dalton for a prize this size,” he observed. “Dey
only let us pay out up to one t’ousand dollars here. You mus go to
Dalton for dis one. Sorry.”
Outside, Louann and Mary Sue huddled together. “Damn, we got
to go to Dalton,” Louann said.
“It’s OK,” said Mary Sue. “I think the Chevy will make it. It’s only
70 miles. But we’ll need about fifteen dollars for gas. See what you can
get and I’ll rob my change jar and we can go tomorrow.”
Louann got up extra early the next morning and fixed a big breakfast for Harce. She wanted to get him out of there. The minute he was out of the driveway, she took off her bathrobe which covered her jeans and sweat shirt. She ran to Mary Sue’s house. The Chevy was already running. They stopped at the Magic Market and bought fourteen dollars and eighty six cents worth of gas and they were off.
They only had to stop and ask directions six times, but they finally found their way to the lottery redemption office. Mary Sue gave her rebel yell and Louann’s long hair flew in the wind as they ran into the office. Louann ran up to the counter and slapped the ticket down in front of a nice grey-haired, grandmotherly lady who was obviously used to excitement. The lady studied the card. She entered the serial number into the computer and got a studious look on her face.
“It looks fine, ladies.” She beamed. “If you’ll just let me see your
driver’s license, I’ll do the paperwork and give you your money.”
Louann looked at Mary Sue.
Mary Sue looked at Louann.
They both looked at the lady behind the counter.
“We ain’t got no drivers license,” Louann said.
The lottery lady gave them a sweet smile. She had seen this before.
“I’m sorry. Without a driver’s license, we can’t honor the amount on
the card. Perhaps you have a friend . . .”
Louann and Mary Sue almost cried. They went out and sat in
Louann thought for a while and asked, “What are we like going
“I don’t know.” Mary Sue replied, “That lady said maybe if we had
a friend . . .”
Louann brightened, “Like, what about Leroy? Has he got
“I know he does. He just got out of DUI school and got
“Reckon he’d do it and keep his mouth shut?”
“Reckon he would for a hunnerd dollars.”
“That’d be worth it. Let’s go get Leroy. He lives in Sugar Hill. That
ain’t but twenty miles.”
“I hope he’s home.”
“I bet he’s home, he’s laid off and he’s getting unemployment.
He’s probably out of beer. He’s home.”
Forty-five minutes later, they pulled up to the front of Leroy’s trailer. It was easy to find. It was the first trailer in the second row of the trailer park on Highway 27 in Sugar Hill. Leroy was sitting on the porch.
Louann hollered, “Hey, Leroy.”
Leroy grinned and waved. “Hey Louann. Hey, Mary Sue. What
y’all doing here?”
“We thought you might want some beer.”
“You got that right.”
“You got any drivers license?”
Leroy took a drag from his Marlboro Light. “Yeah, I got them
back the other day.”
“Well get them license and get in the car and we’ll go get
some money and we’ll get you some beer and we’ll give you a
Leroy really didn’t understand, but he had a chance to ride around with a couple of good-looking women and he really didn’t have much else to do but sit on the porch, so he got in the back seat of the Impala. They explained the situation on the way. They were careful not to tell Leroy exactly how much money was involved until they had made a deal and shook on it. Leroy said he would be happy with a hundred dollars and some beer. He didn’t have nothing else to do.
Back in Dalton, the ladies grinned big as they walked in with Leroy and saw the same nice grey-haired, grandmotherly lady behind the counter. She looked at the ticket again. She punched the numbers in the computer again. She entered Leroy’s driver’s license number in the computer. She got a large smile on her face and said,
“If you will wait a moment, Leroy, I will have a check for you. The Georgia Lottery
appreciates your support.”
She turned to a printer which was already processing the check.
The grey-haired lady tore off the check and brought it to the
“Here you are, Leroy. One hundred and twenty six dollars
and forty two cents. And congratulations Leroy, your child support
payments have now been caught up completely.”
As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?
Copyright 2009 John P. Schulz