By Gale Acuff,


In Sunday School Miss Hooker tells us that

we’re all going to die one day, who knows

when, exactly, except for Jesus and

God and probably the Holy Ghost. Now


I’m scared because I walk to church and back

again, of course, and have to cross the road

once coming and one more time heading back

and even though I’m careful and look both

ways you never know what might happen if

God decides to call me home, home being


Heaven and not our house, on the corner

of Limestone and General Lee. But God

is God and He knows best, I guess, when He

yanks the plug on me and that’s what makes Him

God, I think. So I’ll have to try harder

not to sin and to be sure every night

when I say my prayers that I don’t slip


up and forget to ask Him to forgive

me so I don’t go to Hell right after

He calls me Home and then maybe casts me in

the Lake of Fire, where I’ll be alive

but Heaven must be a darned sight cooler,

not like an icebox but like the cool air

of our downtown movie theater or

the Five & Dime where I sinned last month when


I stole some candy cars and got caught, not

that getting caught was the sin exactly

but it didn’t help when they phoned my folks

and Father came to get me and then I

had to apologize to the druggist

and then we went home and, boy, I caught it,

right on my bottom and it was naked


when Father swatted it three times so I

bore the brunt by thinking, Father, Son, and

Holy Ghost, one for each swat, and when he

put me on my feet and I pulled up my

jeans I didn’t cry but I wanted to

not so much because it hurt on my bare

skin but because if I’m going to go

to Heaven I made one Hell of a start


and lost all my future allowance

until the damn candy is paid for and

even then I didn’t get to keep it,

which isn’t fair but crime does not pay if

you’re caught, and even if you’re not Jesus


catches you so you just can’t win and when

I die and go to be judged He’ll bring up

that little matter of my shoplifting

and I won’t deny it, I did it and

not very well at that though I guess that’s

not the point but it’s still a sore spot with

me, a thing I’m not proud of in a thing


I’m not proud of. No wonder people pray

not just to know what’s right but have the sense

to do it. I’m only nine years old and

Miss Hooker’s 25, I’d guess, too old

for me to marry if I could but if

I could I would–she’d keep me straight and when

she dies and goes to Heaven then maybe

I would, too, if I don’t sin after she’s

gone but if I did sin after she’s gone it

would be because my heart is broken and


I don’t care to live a good life without

her and don’t even care to live at all.

So I’d pray to God to help me hang on

and keep me from stealing candy again

or gum or baseball cards or comic books,

which I can slip up my shirt when no one’s

looking and twelve cents doesn’t grow on trees

nor a penny for Georgia tax, neither.


But I guess it’s just plain wrong to take what

doesn’t belong to you, like suicide

if you belong to God and not yourself,

because when you wake up dead and Jesus

is standing over you something tells me

that He won’t be happy and you’re off to


Hell before you can say Judas H. Priest,

not that I’d say that, I’d be too scared, but

Father does, usually when he pays

the bills at the end of the month and I

guess I’d have to say something, if I still

have a mouth, when it comes to me I’m dead


and not just dreaming, so I’d better think

about that a while before God takes me

before I’m ready–I should be ready

now but knowing I’ve got to go away

makes me pretty sad, I’d miss Sunday School

next week, and Miss Hooker, and doughtnuts and

orange juice and the Lord’s Prayer and Amen


when I most feel that I’m on God’s good side

and would never help crucify Jesus

but I guess I already have and I

don’t know what to do but be more like Him

or else I’m killing Him some more and He

keeps rising from the dead no matter what

I do, and that’s good, that’s bad but it’s good.



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