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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: This life story begins in 1973 (kind of) – part 13

Dark Black Tunnel

That must have been one of the first days of the summer that I realized who Doocy was – I mean, who he really was.

Before then, I saw him as being sometimes funny and all-the-time rough around the edges. He seemed to tolerate me a tad more than anybody else on the job, even though he rode me the hardest.

But that day I realized that I had met the first person I ever knew who would have my back no matter what. William learned that, too, the hard way.

Of course, on this first day a man like Doocy wasn’t going to show you all his different sides. That would be an exercise that would have to come along slowly. The first day and many days after the only grace he showed was the restraint to keep from hauling off and knocking me across to the brick pile stacked in front of the house.

Doocy did shock me again, after he ran his webbed hand down the side of my face. He looked at me with a curled-up lip, then, in a flash, took a step back and threw his head back and laughed like nothing you’ve ever seen.

He had an unusual laugh, one of those where he would open his mouth as wide as it would go until it looked like the opening to a cave. When I looked, I saw that his teeth were white as sand on both sides of his mouth; but in the middle, there was nothing. Not a tooth one. It was like looking through a dark, black tunnel, and there was no light at the end of it.

Doocy’s laughing got everybody else going, too. I looked over to Billy Ray for help, but there was no help coming. He had joined in on the laughing with the rest of them. I thought right then it was going to be a lonely summer. But I didn’t think it for long, because about then Red, who had walked over to look at the house, came lumbering back up toward the crew when he heard all the laughing.

“Are ya’ll still foolin’ with that kid?” he said, but he didn’t ‘say,’ it, he hollered it, and his holler had a depth to it that demanded your attention. That would not be the last time he would secure my attention that summer, either.

“I ain’t makin’ no money out here while ya’ll are carrin’ on with the boy. Get that truck unloaded and get to work!” He then started pointing out where he wanted to start laying the brick,

“William, get to haulin’ brick on that north wall, Hook start settin’ up the scaffolding, Doocy crank up the mixer. We gotta go fellas. It’s liable to rain in an hour.”

With that, Red stormed back off toward the house, and I stood there and watched everybody start moving in unison, like they were all parts of the same machine. Doocy was unhooking the mixer Red had pulled behind the truck when he remembered me.

“Pup, grab that wheel-barrer there and a coupla them shovels and meet me o’er by thet sandpile.”

I started doing exactly what I was told. As I pulled the wheelbarrow off the truck, I heard Doocy talking to himself in a grumble, but making sure I could hear:

“I guess if somebody’s gotta teach Squatlow’s lil’ brother,” he mumbled, it might’as well be Doocy Dew himself.”


Continued next week.


Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a writer and preacher of the gospel. And, after a ten-year hiatus, he’s also returned to work with students at Ferris High School as well. 

In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text (972) 824-5197.

Ellis County Press

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