Davy Crockett’s Butterfly Chapter Eight

When spring arrived, Davy had saved enough money to buy himself new clothes. He could not contain his joy because he had never worn anything not sewn by his mother. The shirt was white linen and pulled over his head. Trousers and fringed jacket were soft buckskin. He showed them to Gray who nodded and smiled. When Meyers arrived in Gerardstown with news he had a new load of flour barrels for Baltimore, Davy’s eyes widened.
“Baltimore? That’s a seaport, ain’t it?”
“Yes, Master Crockett,” he replied with an air of superiority. “That’s where they keep the ships.”
“Ships,” Davy repeated in a whisper. “I ain’t never seen a big ship before. I bet those big sails are pretty.”
“The only true beauty comes from God,” Meyers intoned. After clearing his throat he added, “How much money do you have?”
“Seven dollars.”
“Too much.” Meyers shook his head. “That’s too much temptation for a young man in a large city.” He paused and stuck out his hand. “”Give it to me for safe keeping.”
He wanted to keep his master happy so Davy quickly obliged him by plopping several coins in Meyers’ palm. Within a few days Davy packed his new clothes in the back of the wagon. He walked with a light step along the Potomac River trail, wanting to talk about tall ships but was afraid of saying anything to elicit a sanctimonious reprimand. They ferried across the river at Washington and soon were south of Baltimore at Ellicott City. A group of laborers loaded wheelbarrows with rocks alongside the road to roll them down the hill where they were building a retaining wall.
“We’ll be in Baltimore by nightfall,” Meyers said.
Davy’s heart leapt as he heard the sounds of the big city in the distance, men shouting, horses neighing, wheels clattering and heavy thumping. No sounds of birds, except a strange wail of gulls, he noted. Wanting to look his best, he jumped up into the back of the wagon to change into his new clothes. Meyers’ head jerked when he heard the commotion behind him.
“What are you doing!” he shouted. “Get down from there!”
“What the–!” a wheelbarrow man grunted as he lost control of his load, pilling rocks in front of the horses. They whinnied and reared, starting a gallop down the road. Barrels shifted in the wagon, catching Davy with his pants around his ankles. His eyes popped and his mouth flew open as he jumped from side to side avoiding rolling heavy flour containers. After several close escapes from being bashed between loose barrels, Davy jumped over the back of the wagon, his feet dangling and his arms clinching the top, not caring his long johns were exposed.
Wheel barrow men ran to grab the reins and stop the runaway horses, eventually getting them under control. They laughed and patted the horses to calm them. Davy dropped from the back of the wagon and quickly bent over to pull up his trousers; then he felt a familiar whack upside his head.
“Hey! Hey!” a laborer bellowed as he walked toward them. “Don’t hit the boy! It wasn’t his fault!”
“I shall say this calmly and softly,” Meyers said, arching an eyebrow at the man. “The boy should not have jumped into the wagon. The noise caused the horses to bolt and run. He cost me valuable time and money.”
“No, I shouldn’t have done that,” Davy murmured. “I was wrong.”
“Barrels knocked a hole in the side of your wagon, another laborer said.
Meyers glowered at the cracked wood and raised his hand to hit Davy again when the first laborer grabbed his wrist.
“Enough of that.”
Meyers grumbled and turned away, stopping another wagoner passing by to make arrangements to have his barrels transported into the city and his wagon towed to a carpenters shop for repairs. That night Meyers settled into his bed at a small inn on the edge of Baltimore.
“You know I only discipline you to save your soul,” he said, eyeing Davy on a mattress on the floor by his bed. “And as the Good Book says, spare the rod and spoil the child.”
Davy said nothing but waited for his master to fall asleep. When he heard soft snoring he reached out for his new clothes and slipped from the room to explore Baltimore by night.


“Those folks don’t know you the way I do, David,” Abner said as he put his hand on his shoulder. “They don’t know you’re pullin’ their legs.”
David, still rubbing the grease stains on his shirt, looked up to stare into Abner’s eyes.
“Why don’t you play the fiddle for a while?” his brother-in-law asked.
A smile flashed across David’s face, and he waved to the crowd and hollered in merriment, “Or you all can go to Texas with me!”
The men roared as David waved his arms in triumph. William walked up with the bow and fiddle. David tucked it under his chin and played a happy jig followed by a reel and then a melancholy rendition of Greensleeves. Sensing his spirits were dipping again David swung into an upbeat tune. Dusk slid into darkness, and the fires in the pits began to fade. Men slapped David on the back and thanked him for the grub. Some of them ducked their heads and shuffled their feet, apologizing for laughing at him.
“I’m a politician, boys,” David said, grinning. “Nothin’ ever bothers me.”
“That’s good. We wanted to make sure,” one young man said.
“You was a purty good congressman, honest,” another added.
“Why don’t you boys join me in Texas?”
Their eyes widened, and they stepped back.
“Ain’t there a war about to break out there?”
“You boys ain’t scared of a li’l scrape, are you?” David enjoyed taking pleasure in their discomfort. He was mad at their disrespect. He remembered how he always showed respect for Adam Meyers, even when he did not deserve it. “I grew up fightin’ b’ars, bullies and bushwhackers.”
“Yes, sir, we know,” one of them mumbled.
“Don’t tell me you scared of gittin’ shot at?” David raised his voice, drawing the attention of the other men. “How ‘bout the rest of you? Y’all want to go to Texas with me?” He paused to look around. “Honest. No joke. Who wants to go to Texas?”
William stepped forward as the young men retreated into the darkness. “I’ll go.”
“That’s it!” David put his arm around William’s shoulder. “Who else?”
“I’m with you,” Abner announced.
“Me too!” several others yelled.
David felt tears welling in his eyes. Raising his head he emitted a whoop. The crowd joined him and applauded.
“Who else?” he asked in jubilation. “Who else for Texas?”
“I will!” a voice in the back boomed.
“Me too!” another joined.
“And me!”
Before long all of the men were shouting allegiance to David, vowing to follow him.
“We’ll all git rich!” he shouted. “Y’all have acres and acres of virgin land!”
They raised their fists and huzzahed.
“And we’ll lead Texas into the United States of America!” he screamed, his voice shrill and out of control.
The crowd went wild, and David’s heart beat faster, just like it did when he was on the campaign trail. He felt good again, forgetting why he was going to Texas in the first place. He lost his election. Many of the men gathered around him now probably voted against him. Tomorrow they probably would forget their promises to follow him to Texas. But David felt so good at this moment he did not care.


Oh yes. We know who is throwing up. Our big husky brother Vince. Remember when mother died?
“I don’t know what got into him,” Lonnie said. “You know he’s never been sick. You and Allan was always getting sick, but Vince never was, except when he was drunk.” He looked at Dave with suspicion. “Do you think he’s been drinking?”
“I don’t know,” Dave replied in a vacant tone.
I just love a good daiquiri.
“I can’t stand that drinking,” Lonnie muttered. Looking up, he waved Dave over. “Tell you the truth, Puppy, he’s getting worse. I don’t know how he holds on to his job.” He patted the divan next to his chair. “Pup, sit down here a minute.”
Dave sat near his father and sensed Allan hovering over them.
Oh, good. Gossip.
“Don’t tell Vince,” Lonnie said in a whisper, “but I don’t feel none too good.”
I hope he dies.
“I keep forgetting things. They turned the lights off on me a couple of months ago ‘cause I forgot to pay the bill. Then I got confused and paid twice the next month.”
“Things like that happen,” Dave said.
“Not to me. I’ve always been able to take care of myself. Now I’m scared I can’t do it no more.” He paused to compose himself. “No, I ain’t scared.” He squared his jaw. “Getting all nervous and scared don’t get things done.”
Catch that? He’s talking about me now. I couldn’t help it if I got nervous and scared about things. Always had to bad mouth me, the old devil.
“So what I want to do is sell the house and move into a nursing home. There’s a real nice one on the edge of town. Between what I got in my bank and money from this house I think I could handle it.”
“What about Social Security?”
“Oh, forget that.” Lonnie shrugged.
“Why, Dad? You paid into it all your life. You earned it.”
“Aw, I can’t find my birth certificate.” He breathed out in disgust. “I thought I was born in Collin County, but they don’t have it. Nobody has it.”
“The family Bible.”
“The old Crockett Bible. They accept births recorded in family Bibles.”
“Are you sure?” Lonnie’s eyes widened.
“Yes, I’m sure. We can take the Bible down to the Social Security office after the funeral tomorrow. Do you know where it is?”
“I sure do.” Lonnie stood. “It’s over in the china cabinet.” He started over to the hutch and then turned back to Dave. “This is what I’m talking about, son.” He paused and looked into Dave’s eyes. “I need you to take things over for me.”
“I want you to take care of things for me. Like getting my Social Security. Paying my bills. Talking with the nursing home and the doctors.”
“I live halfway across the state,” Dave replied, taken aback by his father’s request. “Vince lives right here in town. He’s the older brother.”
“But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. Vince is drinking way too much, and he won’t listen to nobody who tells him to stop.”
More vomiting sounds came from the down the dark hall. Lonnie shook his head sadly.
“At least I know I can’t handle it. Vince don’t even know that.”
“I don’t know, Dad.”
“You’re all I got, son. I can’t trust nobody else.”
Why couldn’t you trust me, you old devil? I’d take care of you and your money.
“Dad, it’ll really make Vince mad. He’ll feel like you passed him over.
Boy, what I could do with all that money.
“If Vince gets mad that’s his business. I need you to take care of my business.”
Dave shook his head; but in the end his gut told him this was the right thing to do. No one deserved to have his final days managed by someone he could not trust. “Okay, Dad. I’ll do it.”
“Good.” Lonnie sighed in relief and turned to the china cabinet.
Dave stood and walked over. He had to admit he enjoyed looking at the old Bible and all its births, marriages and deaths, beginning with the signature of his great-great-great grandfather David Crockett. He had the lineage memorized—David Crockett to his son Robert to his son Ashley to his son Lonnie to David Phillip Crockett. That’s how he came to be called Puppy. Allan could not pronounce Phillip and it came out Pup which was extended to Puppy. They said he always acted like a little puppy so the nickname stuck.
Lonnie opened the glass door and reached for the top shelf on the left. His hand frantically patted an empty shelf. Turning, he looked frightened. “It’s gone.”
Looking over his father’s shoulder Dave saw Allan, puffing on a cigarette.
The last time you were in town I told you to take the Bible. He blew smoke out of his mouth by slightly opening his lips and letting it escape over his cheeks and eyes. It’s not my fault.

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