My second mother was beside herself, tugging on Dad’s shirt sleeve, trying to get his attention, trying to get him to calm down.
Vergie Mae Wynn Stith had only been married to Dad for a couple of years and she may never have seen this side of her husband up close, the white hot side, the side that would threaten to kill a man who had been drinking, had come into his house, at night, while he wasn’t at home.
The fact that our visitor had knocked on the door, been told he could come in, and left when he was told to leave made not one whit of difference.
Dad was on the phone with the guy — he had just finished telling him, “Get a gun!” Dad told him he was going to kill him. My father didn’t know what the guy looked like but he said he had son who did: I would point him out, and Dad would shoot him.
I was eight or nine years old.
I would try to do whatever my father told me to do, I was sure of that. I would try to do my part. But I was sweating. What if I pointed to the wrong man and my Daddy shot him? What if that guy shot back and hit my Dad. What if he hit me?
I didn’t say a word, but my mother was pleading with my father.
“Jack, he didn’t do anything,” she said over and over. “He left when I told him to leave.”
Finally, she calmed him down some. He put his hand over the mouthpiece and said, “Vergie, what do you want me to do? I can kill him, I can put him in jail, or I can make him apologize.”
And she said, “Oh, Jack,” she always called him by his nickname. “Make him apologize!”
My Dad told the man, “When I tell you to, start apologizing. Now! Start apologizing!”
And he held the phone to my mother’s ear.
I don’t know what the guy said, but my mother told my Dad, “He apologized real good, Jack. Real good.”
Coming Monday: Biscuitville