June 13, 2013

"Billie Grayson" by Wayne Pounds


          Rossville Cemetery


The Lonesome Death of Billie Grayson 
Lincoln County, Oklahoma, 1941
                                    
August, we'd been to Chandler, ate cold melon,
Had  meant to go to church that night but it got too late,
And we were tramping home along 66
Near Wellston and the Pioneer Trailer Camp.

Just us two girls, me and Helen,
She was twelve and I eighteen.
A car passed us, then stopped and turned around,
Came back and the man said get in.

Near midnight the heat still held the highway.

Helen sat by the door and me between.

The car was new, the clock and radio cast

A yellow light, as Helen later testified.


The radio was tuned to KVOO--
I think they call it western swing--
Bob somone and the Texas Playboys,
The yellow light too faint to tell his face.

"Call me Corky, he said. "Let's go have some fun."
But it was near midnight, we wanted  home,
So he turned south at the Warwick corner
Across Deep Fork and down that rutted road.

It's black and lonely across that bottom.
He kept asking was there people lived hereabouts. 
We never saw a soul, quiet as death,
And darker than the inside of a heifer.

He came to a big pecan tree, pulled over,
And grabbed me. Helen leaped out, but me,
He got an armlock on my neck, 
And he took off like a bat from hell.

I don't have to tell the rest, these stories all end the same.
They found me next morning, naked,
Propped against a gravestone like a skinned rabbit—
Neck broke, my slip and Oxfords beside me.

He went to prison a long time, though not near enough.
They let him out in '51 and he went back to Georgia,
Died there full of years at 81. I know.
When you're dead you get to see all the records.

200 people viewed my body before they knew me.
I must have looked a sight on that slab.
They buried me in Rossville graveyard
By Aunt Louisa, close as I ever got to home.

Rossville folks take good care of graves.
Mine's kept clean, tho boys stole my headstone.