Payroll Bones Talkin About Howdy Leather Britches Forrester

You got barbeque sauce all over tha fiddle you son of a bitch! Or is that blood?

They say Howdy keeps on gettin seconds at the barbecue buffet up in heaven.

What kind of meat are they eatin in sweet old heaven? Father's meat?

The Forrester family was a damn fine fiddlin family. Grandpa Big Ardell, his son Little Clyde and even Uncle J.J all played that devil's instrument.

It all began a long gone time ago with Big Ardell Forrester. Big Ardell, well he was once a young man and had to do things. Restless like a possum on the edge of those new automobile highways he was and also suffered a nervous disposition. Yes, he was a young man who had ambition to do something with himself. One Sunday crisp night in the autumn of 1904, Big Ardell had a ghost dream that shook him up. Was the dream divine and good like the church? Or was the spook dream from the god damn devil? The dream told him to pick up the fiddle. Ardell couldn't play a musical bone in his body! He suffered and trembled the dream for three nights in a row.

On the third tremulous night, the dream gave him mysterious divine directives.

Ardell sorted his convictions and the probabilities and decided good for the ghost dream believing such revelation came from good angels in heaven. God works strange in these lonely mountains and though rare, he had given the gift of divine revelation to the sparse chosen few out here to preach the gospel and reap more faith into the common goodness for the hardscrabble isolated community.

Big Ardell walked late one night where the dirt road forks into two dirt roads. The full moon was milky. He took a seat on the rock strewn road. He held the fiddle up as if he was about to play, yet waited earnestly not bowing or even plucking a single note. He sat perched fixated in the eerie quietude.

Out of the blue, fallen leaves made violent sound on the dark dark ground.

A black snake crawled out of the moon glow thicket. Snake just snaked on by and went into tha moon glow thicket behind young Ardell. Soon enough, the snake crawled right back past and right back into the moon glow thicket that started it all. A man who had no shadow suddenly appeared down the road and walked without a sound.

Suddenly, he towered over Big Ardell. Now you see this was spooky funny business. Ardell wasn't a small scrawny young man either. The "Big" in his name was there for a reason. Well, the man who cast no shadow reached into the sky with his left hand and pulled out a fiddle out of now here's desolate darkness. It was as if the moonbeams were a floating cascading river in the sky and the fiddle was a catfish swimming beneath the luminescent light. He had eyes made of pure silver. Ardell shivered.

The man with no shadow may have been the devil himself. He played three tunes six times--adding up to the mark of the beast 666. He played old songs like "Squirrel Dragger," Mule Suck Tumble," Ole Sally's Left Shoe," and "Crow Caw Jimber."

The man who cast no shadow with pure silver eyes and a crooked hat tole Big Ardell Forrester in a deep river bottom voice, "Make no mistake. This here a business deal. Business is business. I will know thy blood of thy family for generations to come. I will get you one day boy. I don't play no God Damn Fool. If you forget, well I won't do any forgetting sonny boy. I recollect every thang from tha mosquito's buzz to God's secret mistakes."

Ardell ran home in cold sweat. When he got home he could play every god damn fiddle song there was. Didn't matter how much corn whiskey he drank. Didn't matter the time he got a bullet in his leg either. Motherfucker did not miss a note.

And Big Ardell begot a son. He named him Little Clyde Forrester. Clyde also sawed the fiddle and put rattlesnake rattles in tha fiddle and that motherfucker also did not miss a note drunk and knew all the god damn song. Little Clyde had a son when the time was right for family making. He named his son Howard Wilson Forrester. Soon he earned the rightful nickname "Howdy" due to his good disposition.

There is trouble here though. The darkness of primitive evil and the sins of the older generation falling down as wraith upon the next generation. Yes the sort of tragedy that was all, sordidly straightly sodden Old Testament brutality. Yes, tragedy always hit the Forrester family.

Tha devil sent death to collect. It was early September and Big Ardell Forrester had a fatal heart attack out on his tractor plowin tha field. Then the devil feeling particular devilish and Mr. yellow rotten tooth death deciding he was having a particular rewarding streak in the corpse making business came to Little Clyde Forrester one exact week later. That day was all hot lazy with stone heavy sadness pervading like an unwanted drunkard courting the preacher's daughter.

It so happened, six year old Howdy wasz just learnin to play tha fiddle. That boy would practice sawin those strings outside the hen house as if he was serenading his true love. He was natural of course. It was the 33rd of September to be exact when that locomotive barreled down those gleaming steal tracks. Howdy could see the tracks in the distance and also daddy in the beat up old ford. The young boy thought it funny daddy wasn't slowin down towards the tracks where the furious locomotive screeched the piercing horn. Bad things happen. Daddy Clyde was all mangle and mange when he met that quick death. The head got decapitated and crushed while the whole left leg and the whole right leg were severed. His chest was all caved in pulverized meat slush.

When the brightly magenta plumaged evening sadness got bled out to the full emptiness of darkness, a full moon rose over the hills all bone white death luminous fastidiousness whilst in the distance one could hear a plaintive howling in tha tall green cornfield where that local pregnant stray bitch dog had given birth to 13 still born puppies. Also of dire concern, young Betty Lou had gone missin. She went to pick wine berries down near Dryer's Run creek on Sunday and never came back. A cool wind rustled the superstitious community and everyone knew Autumn was gonna come on strong like a drunk falling down the cellar stairs.