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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: This life story begins in 1973 (kind of) – part 26

Soap Opera ratings on the rise out on the brick job

“Did all this drama with the young dark-haired girl affect things on the job from then on?” Cheyenne asked, choosing to stay on the theme of the girl as long as he could.

I didn’t know for sure if he was that interested in that part of the drama or was just gathering blackmail material for when we got back from our hike and got to spill the beans to the lady we call the amazin’ blonde. But I knew that this was an important part of the story. It is clear from the beginning – you readers have already discovered this, I know – that it was a bit like a rose growing in the desert. It is not often that the hustle and bustle of a rugged bricklaying job reap the dividends of a real-life soap opera right at the jobsite. It was incongruity at its best.

I guess that’s just the way life is.

I knew, too, that the budding romance – I knew Mrs. Long sure would be thrilled to see us use that extended rose metaphor as soon as I wrote it – affected not only the job but the slow-moving tragedy we walked into every day when we walked into the backdoor when we got home from work. 

“Cheyenne,” I said, “Corrina affected everythin’, really. She had no way of knowin’ that. I don’t think she ever understood that, not to this day. She had no way of knowin’. And, at the time, I didn’t know either, exactly.”

With that, I took another one of those deep breaths and continued the story.

“Everybody acted different from the moment the dark-haired girl came out on the job. A ray of sunshine  jus’ hovered over that Alabama hill from that time on. And nothin’ Red could do, no amount of hollerin’ or carryin’ on could throw shade over it. I know he wanted to shut the whole drama down – because it wasn’t exactly makin’ the guys get more brick laid on the wall – but it just kind-of spiraled out of control before he knew it.  

“It didn’t take Doocy and the rest of that rough-lookin’ chain-gang long to participate in the soap opera, either. Every time somebody saw that red dust risin’ up from the dirt drive, the chatter began.

“Pup, now keep your mind on ya job, ‘cause here she’s a -comin’, she’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain in no time… Pup’s, you cain’t be gettin’ all beside yerself, you’s gotta play it cool, play it cool like the ‘Cool Breeze’ here, that’s how you’s gotta play it …”

“Cheyenne, no need to tell you who went on jabberin’ that way,” I said. “Even though I knew very well what he was sayin’ was true down to the smallest syllable, I rarely even turned my head his way but kept right on workin’ as if I never heard a word. Of course, if you’ve ever been on one of these jobs, you know that none of that works. The more you try to ignore them the  more they pile on.

Pee Wee would stir the pot most of all.

“Doocy, I think the boy’s kind of ignorin’ you here, reckon he’s mad at ya?” he’d say. “What’d you do to ‘im to make ‘im so mad at you today, you need to be nice to the Pup – after all, he’s the onliest Pup you got.”

“Eventually, no matter how hard I tried, I’d cave.

“Don’t you guys have nothin’ better to do than worry about the Pup,” I’d say sarcastically. “Ya’ll need to get a life, all of ya …”

“How’d that go over?” Cheyenne jumped in, grinning.

“Oh, that was just like pourin’ gasoline on the fire,” I said, then continued drawing the pitiful scene

“That Pup can hear after all, Doocy,” Pee Wee said one afternoon right when the soap opera was gettin’ good, as he flashed that patented grin of his. “I’d have sworn he’d lost all his hearin’, but he can hear, can’t he?”

“Oh, he can hear, alwright,” Doocy snapped as he grabbed a load of ten brick in his huge hands – squeezing them like he was playing an accordion, “and I’m jus’ glad the Pup is willin’ to share his life with all of us out heah on this job. None of us heah gots a love-life like his love-life, do we? Pee Wee, d’you got a love-life where you get all puppy-eyed ever’ time you see red dirt jumpin’ up in the air?”

“No sir, Doocy,” Pee Wee snapped back sarcastically, “Nah, I ain’t been that puppy-eyed since Beth Ann and I was datin’ way back in the day.”

“And, Cheyenne,” I said, coming back to reality, “don’t think for a minute that the hoopla died down whenever Corrina jumped out of the car, either.

“Red would jump in right off the bat, makin’ sure he was yellin' loud enough for the girl to hear: ‘Well, I guess I won’t get another lick of work out of the Pup now for the rest of the day. Can’t make no money when the boy’s star-gazin’ right in the middle of the job.’

“Then, Doocy would start hummin’ in on the song ‘Corrina, Corrina’ and would have the whole crew laughin’ before Corrina could get to the front door of the house. It was pitiful what went on out there.

“The worst part was how Doocy would carry on. All of a sudden, he would get all tender-eyed and start sweet-talkin’ like he was in love with me his self.

“Aw, Puppy, don’t you worry one lil’ bit ‘bout all them boys up on thet wall, they jus’ bein’ jealous ‘cause you got you a girl and most of ‘em never e’en talk to a girl ‘less it’s about ‘Where’s the alimony?’  You jus’ hold your head up high and make the ol’ Doocy Dew proud of ya.’”

I paused, smiling at Cheyenne, and shook my head, and said, “Son, it was enough sweetness goin’ on out there to make you sick at ya stomach.” 

It really was, and we laughed and talked a little more about the pitiful little scene.

After a while, I figured I’d shared enough story for the time being, so we jumped up to continue our hike along the creek, saving the rest for another day.

As I walked along, listening to the creek churning its way through the woods, I knew soon I’d have to tell Cheyenne about some of the changes going on back home on Juniper Street.

It, too, had to be told.


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.

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