‘Abner,’ said Buford, steam comin’ outn his mouth, his han’s stuck under his armpits. ‘I done heerd it wus so cold thet when Billy Joe had had hisse’f a pee, he had t’ break it off b’fore th’ nex’ lot would come out. That true?’
Abner, he done looked at Buford and shooken his haid. ‘How in tarnation could I know ifn thet’s true? I wusn’ even there!’
‘No need t’ git yorese’f so riled up! I wus jes’ askin’!’ Buford put his head down and tried t’put his knees against his ears, but nothin’seemed t’ he’p. He’d never been so durned cold in his life. Fer th’ firs’ time ever, there wus snow right down in th’holler, an’ it shore wusn’t fun.
‘Let’s mosey up t’ Hiram’s cabin; mebbe it’s warm up there.’ Buford looked up at Abner an’ nodded.
‘Y’all right. We got t’ got oursel’s outn thisyere cold, or we gonna die fer sure!’
Their shoes wus soaked right through f’um the snow, an’ they wus strugglin’ anyways, cuz they wusn’t used t’ wearin’ shoes. Thet there wind cut like a knife, an’ even though Abner had hisse’f a fur coat made out possum skins, it wusn’ enuff t’ keep thet cold out!
‘ventually, they made out Hiram’s cabin an’ boy! Wus they glad t’ see it! They knocked on thet there door and Ardelle opened, her mouth like a big ‘O’. ‘Lorda mercy, whut you boys doin’out in thisyere weather? You kin die ifn you git caught out in this! Why, I heerd Billy Bob’s porch collapsed on ‘ccount a the snow an’ killed five a his dawgs. Come on in, b’fore we all freeze.’
Hiram come inta the front room an’ saw them. ‘Whut in tarnation are you boys doin’out in this weather? Y’all wanna git yersel’s kilt?’
Well, Darlene she done made them a big ol’ pot a cawfee and those boys drunk it like they never done tasted cawfee b’fore. ‘That shore wus mighty thoughtful a you, Ardelle,' said Abner’, a’ways th’ firs’ t’ talk.
‘Whut are you boys doin’ out in this kinda weather? This is killin’ weather,’ said Hiram. He wus th’ Mayor, but he din wear his gol’ chains all th’ time, cuz he wus so down t’ earth.
‘Thet ol’ cabin a ourn is so fulla cracks an’ holes thet we wus freezin’ near t’ death, so we went lookin’ fer another cabin, but we coudn’ find one, so we come here.’
Well, Hiram, him bein’ Mayor an’ all, he thunk it wus on’y his duty t’ look after theseyere boys. Plus, they wus his friends, an bin his frien’s ever sencet h arrived in th’ holler. An’ a man don’ ditch his friends. ‘With the baby due one a these days, we’se gonna let you boys sleep in the baby’s room, whut they call a nursery.’
‘Thet’s mighty white a you, Hiram, it shore is,’ said Abner. ‘It shore is nice an’ warm wi’ thet fireplace wi’ the’ chimbley an’ all.’
Well, Ardelle, she done token out two straw tickin’ mattresses an’ put them in th’ baby’s room, whut they call a nursery. When she given them blankets an’ pillows, well, Buford, he done looked like he wus ready to cry. ‘You shore are a good friend, Hiram,’ he said, swallowin’ real hard. ‘You done looked after us good an’ proper, even after you became real important.’
‘Thet’s whut frien’s is for, Bu,’ said Hiram. ‘You boys he’ped me out plenty when I fu’st came t’ th’ holler, so it’s on’y right I he’p you boys now. ‘sides, oncet the snow stops an’ it warms up a mite, you boys kin look t’ fixin’ yore cabin, an’ I’ll even fin’ some folks t’ he’p you. In the meantime, Ardelle ain’t started cookin yet, an’ she’s got some possum thet she’s lookin’t’make inta a stew. You boys hungry?’
Well, up till then, they’d both bin so cold they din thank nuthin’ ‘bout eatin’, but now thet Hiram asked, them stommicks started growlin’sumpin’ fierce, like there wus a bear on th’ loose. ‘We shore would ‘preciate thet, Hiram,’ said Abner an’ Buford, he jest nodded.
Hiram, he done got out a jug a moonshine and they visited real nice, thet there moonshine warmin’ them up real slow f’um the inside, till they wus feelin’ real cosy. Th’ wind wus blowin’ sumpin’ fierce and snowflakes wus whirlin’roun’ an’ roun’, like they wus dancin’, an’ it looked real purty, cus they wus warm.
‘Thet shore is some blizzard,’ said Abner, showin’ off his book larnin’ again.
Hiram looked outn the window an’ said, ‘Blizzard? Thet ain’t no blizzard! Why, up in Minnesota, when it gits like this, it’s time fer the last barbecue of th’ summer.’
Buford, with them big ol’ eyes lookin’ like soup plates, said t’ him, ‘Yore joshin’, right? Ain't nobuddy kin stay outside in this kinda weather!’
Hiram laughed then, an’ shooken his haid. ‘This ain’t cold, boys, it shore aint. Up in North Dakota an’ Minnesota, this is spring weather!’
‘Well, I kin on’y say I’m glad I don’ live in one a them places!’ said Buford. ‘How does a body live in thet kinda place. Them people must all be crazy.’ He shooken his haid again an’tooken a long pull at his moonshine.
‘Y’know, when I wus up at college in Memphis, they useta have th’ weather on th’ radio, an’ there wus this one ol’ Injun chief, he useta call in roun’ ‘bout fall an’ say, “Whut’s th’ winter gunna be like?”’
‘Well, them meteorologists, thet’s whut they call weather folks, they would tell thet there chief, it’s gunna be mighty cold, so thet chief would tell his people t’ collect firewood.’ Hiram tooken a long pull at his moonshine, then carried on. ‘A while later, thet there Injun chief would call in again an’ ask, “How’s the winter lookin’?” an’ thet there weather guy would say it wus gounna be sumpin’ fierce, so th’ chief tol’ his people t’ collect more firewood.’
‘Ever’ week he would call, an’ they would tell him th’ winter’s gunna be real fierce, an’ he would tell th’ Injuns t’ collect more firewood. Well, one day a reporter f’um the local newspaper asked him how he knew th’ winter wus gunna be so fierce. “Easy,” he said. “The Injuns is collectin’ firewood like crazy!”’
Well the moonshine shot right outn Abner’s nose, he laughed so hard. Buford looked at him kinda strange an’ said, ‘I cain’t see whut’s so funny ‘bout folks preparin’ fer winter. I thank it’makes a whole heap a sense.’
Well, Hiram an’ Abner looked at each other an’ laughed so hard thet they wus hurtin’ an’ ‘ventually Buford joined in, but he din know whut wus so funny. But a good laugh wus a good laugh, ‘specially when it wus so cold outside, an’ it wus cozy inside thet there cabin.
It shore is good t’ be with friends at times like this, it shorely is!