Country Roads

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“Why do you have to go see those old hillbillies, Jo? We could have such a great time in Branson seeing the shows, baby. I’ve got a cruise on Table Rock Lake lined up this afternoon, and I think I can make three shows tonight. Yakov Smirnov! How can you pass that up?”

Jo signaled a right turn off the four lane onto a 2 lane blacktop running south. “They’re family, Mindi. Blood, it’s a mountain thing. I can’t come this close without stopping by for a few days. It’s like John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’: I’ve got a feeling I should have been home yesterday. I know, I know, it’s not West Virginia, but a lot of these hill folks came from that direction. Gotta stop by.”

Mindi shrugged into her mobile device “All right, but my family’s cool with everything I do. Your loss. When do I see you?”

“Three days, just in time to head back to Champaign. Look, we had a good time with my cousins up in Springfield, right? They showed us around pretty good. Gran knows I’m in the neighborhood. Just trust me on this. You play around Branson and have a good time and I’ll see you Sunday. I trust you.”

“All right, I guess. Love ya, miss ya.”

“Love ya, miss ya. You’re still the only one for me. Later.”

“Later.” Jo pushed the disconnect, and paid attention to the road, which started to wind as she passed the city limits of a small town. A senior at the University of Illinois, she was taller than usual, thin, and well proportioned. Volleyball had been good to her in many ways, paying for her education as well as giving her an athlete’s body. Her blond hair was in twin pigtails, a style she only wore when she went back to the hills. Her skin was rather pale; it was too soon to train for beach season and she’d been inside all winter.

The temperature was climbing, summer was making an early May arrival in the Ozarks. Jo was running without the air conditioner, knowing she’d be without at her grandparent’s house and wanted to start adjusting. The trees were gathering around the road, and a deer sprang from the ditch beside her, startling her, but practiced reflexes kept them both safe.

“Why am I going back?” she said to herself. “Mom only comes down once a year. I haven’t been here since I was 12. Doesn’t look like things have changed around here. Haven’t been here since I came out. Why am I scared of Gran?’ She punched a button and John Denver’s dulcet tones filled her rented 4 wheel drive van. ‘Grandma’s Feather Bed’ started and she made a turn onto a gravel road. “Cause I loved spending the summers with Gran and Papa and Uncle Frank and cousin Sadie. Cause even though it was pretty rough out here they loved me to death. The mountains are magic and I’ve missed them. If anybody ever touched me, I bet they’d all come, guns blazing, to set things right. I’ve blown it off for too long. It’ll be hot and awful, and I’ll miss taking a shower every day, but I gotta see them again. Case closed.”

At the bottom of a hill, a track branched off to the left: Jo knew instinctively it was the right road. Following the tracks was difficult: it had rained over the past few days, and she was worried about getting stuck. The road seemed to disappear in a couple of places, but soon after topping a rise she saw the ramshackle old house. A grizzled man sat on the porch, wearing only a pair of overalls, shotgun resting on his lap. The weapon came up as she pulled up; Jo jumped out as soon as she could and waved her hands: “It’s me, Uncle Frank, it’s me, Josie!”

Uncle Frank looked puzzled for a moment before reluctantly lowering his gun. He squinted and blinked a couple of times before uncocking the shotgun. “Well, goddammit if it isn’t little Josie! My, my, have you growed up! Damn, you look just like your Momma when she was a youngun.” He turned around and shouted, “Hey, Maw! Josie’s here!”

A woman in her mid 60s came through the door, wiping her hands on her apron. Her grey hair was up in a huge bun, a pair of knitting needles sticking through it; she wore a simple, long sleeved pattern dress with a square neck and practical shoes. She was rather thin, and the wobble of her chest told Josie she wasn’t wearing underwear, as usual. As usual, she was barefoot: she only wore shoes in the depths of winter or when she went to church on Sunday, when she’d put on the best dress she had. Her face was mostly unlined, her skin soft and smooth except for her hands, which were working hands. “Frank, I knew she was comin’, Ellie told me. Been a bit too long since you’ve been here, Missy, but I guess we’ll let you in. Go get her bags, Frank, then you can go ’round the mountain to visit Widow Jenkins like you wanna.”

“Yes, Momma, thank you Momma. Damn, her tits popped out pretty good, bigger than Ellie’s.”

“Hush up, you horn dog. Slobberin’ over her body is no way to make the girl welcome. Git!”

“Yes, Momma.” Frank mumbled as he shuffled to fetch her bags from the car.

Gran wrapped her arms around Jo, giving her a big hug, and whispered in her ear. “Thank God you’re here. There’s been a hole in my heart, and now it’s full again. Praise be to Jesus.”

“Amen,” Gaziantep Oral Escort Jo replied. Eventually breaking the hug, she put her arm around her grandmother’s waist and walked to the house with her. “How’s it going, Gran?”

The old woman shook her head. “Arthur’s givin’ Papa and me a lot of trouble. Ya know, ol’ Arthur Itiss. Hard time walkin’ when it got cold last winter. Betsy’ havin’ ‘nother baby, number four. Prayin’ it’s a boy this time.”

“How old is Betsy? I remember playing with her every summer, but she’s older than me, right?”

Gran nodded. “Two, two ‘n half years. Three girls so far, hopin’ for a boy. Chester needs a boy.”

Jo whispered into her grandmother’s ear. “Gran, girls can do anything boys can, don’t ya know?”

The screen door banged a little harder than necessary, but that topic died. Jo looked around the front room, which was the main living space. It was almost the same as she remembered, only a little more threadbare, but the place was immaculate. A massive iron wood burning stove sat in the far end; a couple of rocking chairs, a couple of end tables; a huge sofa with tasseled throw pillows; the pictures were all of Jesus and religious scenes. An old dog lounged in the corner, a bloodhound, stirred his head, begging for attention, and Jo stroked his old fur. “How’s old Coot?”

“Oh, he’ll be sixteen in a couple of weeks. Probably won’t make it there, been shittin’ all over the place and kain’t hardly keep his food down. Sleeps most of the time. Been a good dog. We’ll miss ‘im.”

“How sad. Will you get another one?”

Gran shook her head. “Gotta have one, need to know when company’s comin’. Widow Jenkin’s dog just had a litter, Frank’s got one picked out for us.” She looked her granddaughter in the eye and said, “How’s yer momma?”

Jo looked away. “Okay, I guess. Haven’t talked to her for a while. She keeps pretty busy with her clients, sells the most houses in Springfield by far.”

An old hand redirected the young head to face her grandmother. “You haven’t talked since Christmas, have ya?”

The young woman shrugged her shoulders. “Text her a bit. Know what’s she’s doing, tell her where I am. We’re in touch.”

Gran shook her head. “She jus’ don’t understand. Every week we talk, bet you’re surprised by that, and all she kin talk about is you and what you’re up to. You don’t treat blood like that, Josie.”

“I didn’t know that, Gran. Never thought.”

“Yer her only. Her first, last and all the ones in the middle.”

“But Momma hates me, she never really cared.”

“She doesn’t like yer girlfriend. Mommas protect their younguns, don’t think anybody’s good nuff for ’em, she’ll come around when she sees your…friend is all right. Can’t say I understand, but we pretty much let everybody be who they are ’round here. Sorry you didn’t think you could bring her. Yer girlfriend. I’d like to meet her.”

Jo looked up with wide eyes, surprised. “Doesn’t Jesus tell you all being gay is wrong?”

The old woman shook her head. “We’re all sinners, all washed in the blood of the Lamb. I’m not perfect, hell no! Jesus tells us not to judge, so I’m not judgin’. God made us the way we are fer a reason, gotta accept that. If your Momma went to Church more often she’d understand. Sorry you couldn’t bring yer friend.”

“Well, Mindi’s not used to country ways…”

“Hush, no more. I’m not dumb, I know city folks think we’re backward. You need ta git over bein’ embarrassed about yer roots. When you’re ready, she’s welcome. Meanwhile, you’re here now and I need some help. ‘Member how to peel taters?”

Jo kicked her shoes and socks off. “Sure, Gran. Can’t forget something like that.”

When they got to the kitchen, Jo looked outside under the big trees where a hammock was strung. A large man was laying in it, one arm dangling over the side halfway to the ground, bare feet hanging off the far end. “Papa takin’ a nap?”

“Yup. Spent the night in jail, poor man.”


“Now, he weren’t causin’ trouble. Sheriff’s Deputy caught him makin’ a delivery and he had to spend a night in the pokey. They came out and smashed the still first thing, all I could to do hold Frank back. Papa’s gotta find the stuff he hid, make his deliveries and find a spot to set up his still agin. Needs his rest fer a while first.”

“He should give it up…”

“Now child, don’t you bad mouth your kin! Yer grandfather’s stuck by me through thick and thin for 45 years, and I’m sticking with him. We ain’t got enough crops or animals to get by, so this is the only way we kin make a livin’. Laws is nice when you kin afford ’em, as well as morals.”

“But, surely…Momma’s set you up with something…”

Gran finished a potato, and picked up another. “Your Momma’s set us up with nothin’. Don’t need her help. Shit, had to bail her out a coupla times, specially last year when things was slow sellin’ houses..”

“But I thought…”

“We’d move away from here if we could? Shit no, child. This is home: our family belongs to this mountain. Our kin’s in that little cemetery halfway to the gate. As long as those deefense contractors make money, we’ll be all right. Oh don’t be surprised we own stock, don’t need a phone to do that. We go into Springfield once a month, and don’t make any sudden moves, don’t panic when everybody else is. We make enough and we don’t waste nothin’. Hell, only thing I use my cell phone for is to talk to yer Momma every week. Gotta talk to my only little girl now ‘n then. This is our mountain, we paid for it in sweat ‘n blood. Here’s where we belong.”

Gran brought the basket of potatoes out to the porch, stopping to pull a shotgun out of a closet. They sat on the front porch in a nice breeze, putting the basket between them, the gun on the old woman’s lap, and started to work. A raspy distant radio played a local station from the other side of the house, full of old country music. Josie noticed how her grandmother’s knuckles were swollen from arthritis, but they still worked faster than hers at their task. When the pot was half full of freshly peeled slices, a loud groan came from out back. “That’ll be your Papa. Damn that man, too busy to give ‘im a blowjob now. Kin you take care of it, Ellie?”

Jo put her potato down half peeled, turning red. “What? You want me to what?”

The old woman looked at her, and then shook her head. “Damn, forgot ya ain’t in on it. Sorry, Josie, forgit I said it.”

“What? You were asking me to…to…”

“Look, things is different up here, always have been. When you’re ’round family all the time, ya gotta bend the rules. Fer a minute I thought you was your momma.”

“My momma? She sucked his…”

The swollen hands never paused. “Ya think we’re backward ‘n such up here. S’not what ya think. Nobody gits forced inta anythin’. Jus’ takin’ care of each other. We kin have dinner a little late today, I’ll take care of ‘im.”

“I’m just trying to take it all in. I love Papa, but, I dunno…”

“Hush!” The old woman stuck her knife in a potato and put her hands on her hips. “Lookit, he’s a vet’ran, went to ‘Nam, always took care of me and your momma and all your uncles. Kept hisself clean over there, didn’t diddle no hookers ‘n get the clap or nothin’ like some o’ his buddies did. He’d give anybody the shirt off his back, like Jesus wants us to. Loyal to his friends, never gives any of ‘um up. And never touched any girl underage, no sir! Damn near kilt your momma’s first boyfriend when he thought that boy was didllin’ her fore they was married.”

“Sorry, Gran. Didn’t mean to get you worked up. Just never thought…”

“I guess not.” She sat back down and took a deep breath. “Sorry ’bout jumpin’ down yer throat, little Josie. Times is different, we gotta change. I’d do anythin’ fer him and he’d do anythin’ fer me. We’ll give this ‘nother ten minutes and you can finish up. How ’bout that?” She pulled her knife out of the potato and quickly peeled it.

Conway Twitty wafted from the back, and a dog bayed in the distance. A breeze tickled a wind chime on the porch, which brought back memories for Jo. It was as though she’d never left, and all the winters away were distant dreams. Josie remembered her Papa, who always made time for her. He was always tired, and know she knew why. Even tried a couple of card games she learned in school despite never understanding them, before playing 4 point Pitch as usual. He was never angry with her. Her own father left her mother when she was a baby, and Josie had no idea where he was or what he was doing. Putting her knife down, she stood up and said, “I think I gotta visit the outhouse.”

Gran didn’t look up. “Papa did take a bath this mornin’. Always does when he gits sprung. Got a hard night ahead of ‘im tonight.”

As Jo went around the house, she noticed it had been painted recently. The flower bushes were in bloom, and the garden was producing tomatoes and lettuce. It would be time to pick blackberries soon. A side window was open, and she crawled in to make a detour. Under the sink was a jug of her Grandfather’s business product. She poured a couple of fingers in a small mason jar: the taste was smoky and settled gracefully on her tongue. Pouring a bit more, she sighed and put the jug back. Stepping carefully, she went out the back door, taking care not to let it bang. The grass felt good under her bare feet.

The hammock looked like it was stretched to capacity, but Jo noticed the cords were all new. Her grandfather still struck her as a gigantic man: he lay on his stomach like a beached whale, snoring softly into a small pillow. There was a slit underneath,where his cock and balls dangled free. The sausage danced a little in a dream, a little dew clustered at the end. Jo came up and touched the hairy shoulder.

A bloodshot eye opened, and a low growl came from deep in his throat. “Hey, Ellie. Good ta see ya’. Yer lookin’ real purty, princess.”

“I’m not Ellie, Papa. That’s my mother, I’m Jo-Josie.”

The head raised up and looked at her through sleepy eyes. “Well so it is. Long time no see, Josie. Yer purtier than your maw, that’s fer sure. Come give yer old Pawpaw a kiss, princess.” She walked over and gave him a peck on the lips, like she had since she could remember. “I think I’m gonna keep ya pretty close up here. If those young bucks from the next mountain git an idea yer here, I’m gonna halfta sit up with my shotgun all night to protect ya.” He put his hand on her shoulder and smiled. “Ellie used to wear those halter tops like that, let’s git a look at ya. Shit, woman, yer all growed up. Let’s see yer little nipples.”

Jo paused for a moment. He must be thinking she was going to take care of him, he wouldn’t ask her to show him her breasts otherwise, right? The look on his face wasn’t completely lustful, but curious. She untied the back and dropped her top, letting her average boobs feel the sunlight.

“Yer bigger than yer maw, that’s fer sure. Got yer nipples somewhere else, they glow like stars. Purty, purty, purty. Never say yer no account dad’s side of the fambly dint give ya nothin’. You bring yer friend?” The girl shook her head. “All right, things take time. Anybody important to you’s important to me. Long as yer happy.”

“Thanks, Papa. How’s it goin’?”

He shook his head. “Daym Bert, either he’s gittin’ better or I’m gittin’ dumber. Shoulda seen him behind that tree. Fuckin’ judge wouldn’t take bail money, neither. Said I had a ‘criminal record’ so I had to stay. Kids today is all little self-righteous assholes. ‘Cept you, Josie, course. Had the cash ready fer bail, ready to give it to the little turd and he said no. Sheeyiyut!” Jo noticed his penis was getting redder and bouncing a little on its own. “Not sure how much longer I wanna stay in this world.”

She took a sip of her white lightning, and noticed the flavor pleased her more. “Oh, we need you a while longer, Papa. You’re still worth something.”

He tapped her cheek. “Thanks, princess. I love you, too, ever since I first laid eyes on ya. Anythin’ ya want here is yours.” The eyes faded a moment, drifting shut, and an old hand shot up to swat at a gnat that landed on his neck. “Man kain’t get a good day’s sleep round here. You done with yer schoolin’ yet?”

“Next spring. Going to look for work as a physical therapist. Want to play volleyball, but I’m not good enough for the elite.”

“What ’bout yer lady friend? What’s she gonna do?”

“Oh, she’s going to be an accountant, and she can work anywhere. Her dad left her enough for a down payment on a house, so we’ll be all right.”

“Great. Git yourself a coupla younguns and you’ll be set. Good money counter is worth ‘is weight. Aw, shiyut…you know what I meant.”

“Yes, Papa. It’s OK.”

“Good thing Bridey Jenkins’ boy looks after our money. We got some buried jus’ in case, but we got some in the bank, or whatever the hell he calls that place he works.” She took a nervous sip, and he rose up, eyes wide open. “What’cha drinkin’, kiddo? Don’t look like water to me?” He sniffed a little and a big smile creased his face. “Heeya, you’s a mountain girl after all! Yer Momma almost gagged on her first taste of Shine. Even Sadie never took more ‘n a sip ‘fore she became a Baptis’. Like it, do ya?”

Jo took another sip. “Yeah. It’s better than most Scotch. Could I take some home with me?”

“Shit girl, do ya hafta ask? Long as yer not flying, ya can take a whole jug. That recipe came from Scotland, way, way back. Pappy said so, and he never lied to me. My Paw was the best, still a legend ’round here, and they say I’m just as good. From the Highlands to Ireland to Appalachia to Missoura, father to son, 10 generations. Frank knows the recipe, but he won’t have no kids. None o’ the other boys or yer cousins ever wanted ta learn. Teach it to ya, if ya want.”

The thought was interesting. She had seen legal moonshine in a liquor store in Springfield the day before. Looking around, she felt the mountains talking to her in distant whispers. “Didn’t they get your whole stock?”

“Naw, just the batch I was workin’ on. Got stuff hidden all over the mountain; Frank’s getting some for the deliveries. Should cut Brad off for bein’ such a prick. His Maw’s gonna give him such a talkin’ to. Gonna take a while to finda place for the new still.” He smiled as she took another sip and savored the taste. “Gotta deal fer ya. Since ya like the taste of my Shine, I’d like a taste of your pretty little titty. She bin talkin’ to me ever since she came out to play.” His eyebrow raised, and little smile played on his lips as he winked at her.

She looked back at the house and saw her grandmother working by the window. Another sip, and she moved over so he could reach her. His tongue was amazingly soft, and teased her erect bud more gently than anyone she’d ever dated. Soon the entire nipple was in his mouth and felt like heaven. His scraggy growth scratched the skin around her aureola, but she couldn’t pull away. Looking back over her shoulder, she saw her Gran smiling at her before she turned away to work on another chore. After a few moments bliss, she pulled it back and offered him the other one, which felt better than the first. Looking down, his cock was swinging on its own, the tip glistening in the sun, and his balls seemed to have grown.

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