Grenadine McGunkle’s Double-Wide Christmas, Chapter 9:
Two Epiphanies for the Price of One
Lurleen and Punkin have been thick as thieves since they was knee-high to a roly-poly. They were in the same class as Tater down at the Pittsville Elementary, and every afternoon when I drove by to pick up my son, there they’d be: Lurleen on the corner, directing traffic with a couple of pine limbs she’d picked up off the playground, and Punkin offering to check the air pressure on everybody’s tires–for a quarter, no less. By the time Tater got out of detention, they’d be on their way to the Dairy Queen, where Mamie Sumrall says Punkin would buy them a Blizzard to share with the money he’d made that day.
Most people change as they grow up, but Lurleen and Punkin never did. By the time they got to Pittsville High, Lurleen had won three gold medals in the state crossing-guard championships, and Punkin was the youngest-ever president of the school’s Automotive and Fashion Technology Club.
The way I see it, they was lucky. You and me, we probably went through a whole bunch of careers when we was kids. In addition to wanting to be a postmistress, I once had dreams of being an international spy, a tap dancer, a nuclear scientist, a tennis pro, and one of them people that designs lampshades–a lampshade designer? I thought there was a fancier name for it, but I guess that’ll have to do.
Lurleen and Punkin, though? They knew exactly what they was supposed to do from the time they could walk, and bless their hearts, they’ve just kept on doing it.
These days, Lurleen is Pittsville’s highest-ranking crossing guard. Granted, she’s the only one we’ve got, and there’s not a lot for her to do when school ain’t in session, but she finds other ways to keep busy. In the summer, she parks down by Route 32 where it runs along Ronnie Gordon’s back forty, and she helps the turtles migrate across to Hobowamba Creek so they can do their business. I ain’t never seen a car, truck, four-wheeler, or Rascal that won’t come to a full stop when Lurleen’s got her hand up.
As for Punkin, that boy’s just about the best mechanic you ever saw. I can take my old station wagon in when it’s acting up, and he’ll say, “Why don’t you let me fix that such-and-such for you while I’m at it?” And he’ll pop the hood and show me a whole mess of things just on the brink of going wrong. That boy’s got the gift, I’ll tell you what. We ought to call him “The Station Wagon Whisperer”. Or maybe just “The Wagon Whisperer”? Lemme work on that some more and get back to you.