Frank Underwoon: Before I Have to Bring out my Axe

You know, there was a boy that lived
down the street from me in Gaffney.

About my age.
His name was Walter Wryson.

He used to run away from home all the time
and come to our house.

Not for any good reason.

His daddy didn’t beat him.
He had clothes on his back.


The Wrysons had
way more money than we did,

but run away he would, at least once
a month and come straight to our place.

Now, usually, my mother would call his
mother and she’d come and fetch him.

But about the ninth
or tenth time this happened,

Walter ran outside,
climbed up into a tree in our backyard,

and wouldn’t come down for nothing.

Now, my mama said to his mama,

“”Why don’t you let us keep him
for a while,

until he feels like coming home?””

[chuckles] But man, oh, man,
that boy was stubborn.

Night came, and he was still up there.

No food, no water… no toilet.

And just before I went to bed, I looked
out my window and I heard him crying.

And I said, “”Walter,
why don’t you come on down?””

And he just shook his head no.

Well, the next morning, I woke up,
I looked out the window

and Walter was still up in that tree.

So after breakfast,
I walked over with a plate of eggs…

and I asked him if he wanted some.

And again, he just shook his head.

And I got angry.

That boy had a good house, a good family,
the sort I would’ve killed for,

and he didn’t even realize it.

So I went into the tool shed
and I took out an ax.

And I said to Walter…

“”You want to know what it’s really like
to live at my house?””

And I gave that tree a good whack.
And Walter cried out, but I kept on.

I mean, you’ve never heard screams
like the one coming from Walter

as I chopped at that tree.

[chuckles] He pissed his pants,

and it came raining down on the ground,
but I didn’t pay it no mind.

I just kept whacking away.


it didn’t take long before Walter was on
the ground and running back to his house.

You see, all he needed
was a little motivation.

So I’ll give Claire some time.

But for her sake,

I hope she comes out of her tree
before I have to bring out my ax.

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