That first long winter, knowing I would never hear the thud of Godfre’ys suitcase on the steps or trip over his gumboots in the hall again, that was a hard one. I immersed my self in the Wisdoms Project, my husband Garnet Odd kindly tended the luggage store, though we rarely had much custom…We shared a good laugh over the letter and packet of photos sent by Godfrey’s cousin, Ashley-Lou Gland. One photo was a a police car, in front of the puce house, one of The Uncle Lou Band, circa 1971 with Alice wailing in the background.
There was an old 8×10 wedding photo of Godfrey, about age 5. His baggy shirt was buttoned to his kilt, he wore a polk-A-dot bowtie, his hair plastered down with pomade. Captured by the camera, doe-eyed on the dance floor, he is dancing with the bride.
She looks to be the buxom type of bride, cheeks flush with the heat of the hall and vigor of the dance. His Uncle Lou can be seen in the corner of the photo, sneaking up on the joyfully dancing Godfrey with a big plate of beets, a vicious gleam in his beady eyes. ..Come spring I accepted Beatrice Wambe’s invitation to come spend time at Sonsie Farm in Wales.This is how Beatrice explained it all, while we sat on her front porch swing, with a beer on a warm afternoon, a mellow and fragrant Welsh spring.
She told me how when they were 7 , she and Godfrey broke each others arms , in a fall from the apple trees of Obovvus, north end of Sonsie farm. She told of how to this day, barley malt syrup caused her to spew, and sealed a bond with Godfrey, stronger than anyone knew.
Beatrice said it was all my idea, to imitate his Uncle Lou. This summer day I showed up at Godfre’ys house with a grand idea what to do, lets drink a can of barley malt syrup, and pretend to be your Uncle Lou.
He lived in dread of his uncle, who had rubbed his nose in beets, only the day before. But he swiped the big can from the pantry, as I distracted his Ma at the door. Beatrice produced 2 cheap cigars from her dad, and ugly white swim she swiped but did not say from where, she said I even brought lard in order to slick back our hair.
The swim trunks were the offensive pair, that Lou considered his manly best, Godfrey pulled the trunks on they came right up to his chest. We lurched about, we swore we bragged that we played trombone the best, with a piece of char from the burn bin, we drew sideburns and spots on each others chin.
We ate the big can of barley malt syrup, high in that old apple tree that I showed you, by the time we were halfway through the cigars, I no longer wanted to play Uncle Lou.
I did my best to hold on, I tried, but pulled smaller Godfrey with me as I threw up over the side. All I remember is earth and sky as we fell through the branches to quick to out cry , his face broke my arm when he landed on me and I broke mine badly over his knee.
We were found in the leaves, both with the dry heaves, smeared in lard, faces black, limbs askew, found by Godfre’ys furious mother and equally irate Uncle Lou.
He only worried about the swimsuit, wrapped round Godfrey’s neck now as it was his own. I apollogised later for bolting, still throwing up for home.
Oh yes she reflected, we were punished severley for being silly, but bruises faded and broken limbs healed, we both dislike beets and barley malt syrup, and it was high in those trees, our lifelong friendship was sealed.