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Them Ugly Beardens
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Them Ugly Beardens
The Bearden bunch lived in a three room shack on the outskirts of Pickle Gap, a fallin' down shack, without runnin' water, or toilet. Their place looks like a little kid stuck it together, with sheets of corrugated metal, leftover boards and shingles and gobs of glue. The windows are all broken out.
[1,481 words]
Pegi Handley
I live in California with my husband. Together we have a managery of animals. I've been writing about fifteen years and have many short stories. Two prison books, twenty childrens books all about abandoned children and foster children and a 700 pg. manuscript that I'm thinking of publishing on the web, of my Memoir. I was abandoned as a young child, grew up in foster homes. From there I entered the mental instuitions, prison then prison.
[May 2000]
[email protected]
My Second Identity (Non-fiction) It all began with such innocense, a feverent desire to better her life-start fresh again. In 1980 Pegi enrolled in Fresno State where she discovered a group of pretty young women prostituting of a la... [2,120 words]
The Final Analysis (Non-fiction) This is a story of women and madness. In 1955, at seventeen years old, I'm thrown into a psychiatric hospital in Norwalk California, where I spend the next two years. In this razor-sharp story of sta... [2,061 words]
Them Ugly Beardens
Pegi Handley


The Bearden bunch lived in a three room shack on the outskirts of Pickle Gap, a fallin' down shack, without runnin' water, or toilet. Their place looks like a little kid stuck it together, with sheets of corrugated metal, leftover boards and shingles and gobs of glue. The windows are all broken out. One wall's patched so many times it looks like a quilt with holes right next to the patches. Their porch across the front, was rotted and splinterin', with an open spot big enough for a cow to fall through. The screens were all torn and rusty. Nobody had lived in that shack over a hundred years.
Them Beardens were just so all-around awful I could hardly believe they were real. Peggy, Mickey, Brian Dale, and Scott Frazer. I wonder where the little one got that name, Scott Frazer? His sister must have named him. All four of �em skinny, stringy-haired kids and all of �em acted just alike. Except for bein' different sizes and havin' different black-and-blue places where they had clobbered each other, they didn't look anythin' alike.
The Townfolk said the old place was haunted, but I never thought it for one minute.
The Bearden kids said that it was their hog farm, yet I didn't believe �em, even though Mickey always had a pocket full of change, and sometimes even dollar bills. They seemed to have all the money they wanted. I couldn't believe my eyes when I watched him count out $4.41. "There's a lot more, where that came from," he boasted. It would take my daddy almost five workin' days to make that much. Every time I asked Mickey where he got the money, he said, "Well, from my Mama, that's who, don't you know nothin? What ya think anyway?"
My Mama said, "there're common thieves, that's all."
Them Bearden kids said they always could get anythin' they wanted--and I believed �em.
The Bearden kids moved from grade to grade through Pickle Gap School. They never, ever stayed behind a grade even if they had all F's, because the teachers knew if one Bearden was kept back a grade, the next year she'd have two of them Beardens, because they were in line in school one after the next.
Every time Peggy saw me sneakin' around her house, she screamed, "you're like a rash. You keep poppin' up!"
Every chance I got, I'd peek through the cracks of their old house. A big ugly, black, wood, cook stove, stood in the middle of the kitchen. Gobs and gobs of pots, pans and jugs hangin' on the wall behind. Somethin' was usually cookin' on the ole wood stove. Or I'd sit high on the hill, hunkered down spyin' on �em. I'd sneak out of bed long after my family was asleep. Creepin' down the dark hillside headed toward the Bearden's cabin.
My head spun with all kinds of thoughts, and my heart started to pound the closer I got to the old Bearden place.
The grass was dead and brown. Roses had shriveled and turned black. I knew one of these days I'd spy their folks, I knew I would.
My mama talked to me till she was blue in the face �bout runnin' with that Bearden bunch. I know she didn't care for �em much, but I sure did. I didn't want nobody knowin' though. I sure wished that I could live without folks like �em.
They took baths in a wash tub. Peggy soaped he lame-brained brothers from head to toe every night with Ivory soap. Her body was as skinny as a fence post.
Them Bearden kids roamed the hills lookin' for nothin' but mischief.
Peggy dug through everybody's garbage. There are talkin' cows inside her head. Actually, there's a lot of weird stuff in there. Stuff like spiders and flies fighting with each other.
Yep, she's loony, she is.
Now, you'll learn real quick, who'ya foolin' around with, this Bearden bunch.
I really know what I'm talkin' about - ya see, I live high on a hill across the pasture from the Beardens. On a clear day I watch every move them silly kids make. When I could get by with it - that is when my mama ain't onto me - I'd sneak closer to their old shack and snoop on �em. I'm tellin' you it's a sight to see.
Peggy was the ugly one, always had a big wad of pink bubble gum stuffed in her mouth. When the teacher was lookin' she had it restin' in her cheeks. Two long plaits hung way down her back. Her eyes were big and black as coal. She was mean as spit fire. She must have been about �leven, just like me.
Next in line was her ugly brother, Mickey. At the very top of his head was a dollop of hair that stood straight up. My mama called him, "that cow-lick one." He was about ten, and he looked a lot like his sister.
Brian came next. He was probably nine or so. Peggy called him Brian Dale when she was really, really mad. He had big awful-frightenin' teeth that stuck straight out a mile. I bet he could eat corn through a picket fence. Brian's afraid of monsters and didn't talk much. He was scared of the dark, he was the first one home every night. The darker it got, the faster he ran. He knew if he lagged behind, Peggy or Mickey would scare him by tellin' him monster stories, and he'd cry and cry and cry.
The boys always had a wad of chaw, spittin' everywhere they went.
I never saw their folks. Every time I asked, "where's your mama?" All three of �em screamed back, "we've told you over a million times, Elroy, she's in bed sick."
"Well, where's your daddy?"
"He ran off along time ago." Peggy blew a big round, pink, bubble. Lookin' through it I saw her whole stupid face.
"Nice one," Mickey jumped forward and poked the bubble and popped it.
The gum exploded onto her fat cheeks, "Mickey!"
Mickey laughed, and Peggy struggled to pull the pink gum off her face.
She took the big wad of bubble gum out of her mouth, and dabbed it all over her face, pickin' up the gum that was stuck to her face.
One time I heard my dad tell my mom that their dad was in jail.
My mama said, "that doesn't surprise me none, that daddy of theirs lays drunk in the shed with the hogs."
"How'd you know that Mildred?"
"Mrs. Miller, down the street told me. Every time I see that old man he never smiled and hardly ever spoke except to growl. I heard him scream at those kids somethin' awful."
"Get away from here and stay away!"
My mama knew everything. She told me, "those kids daddy is just a good for nothin' so and so. He's just an old crosspatch." Fear ran through me every time mama talked about him. I stayed away when they said their daddy was around. So that was how I knew for sure that one time they did have a daddy. But, I never saw their mama, and nobody else ever did either. And as a matter of fact, I never saw their daddy either.
I know that they had to have a mama once upon a time. For awhile there was just three of �em, them three mean ones. Peggy, Mickey and Brian. Early one mornin' I peeked into their cabin, and there was a baby in a gunny sack hangin' from a big hook on the wall. He had gobs and gobs of yellow-fuzzy hair. Far more than I'd ever seen on a baby. If they didn't have a mama around, where'd they get this baby brother? Steal him or somethin'? I really wouldn't put that past them either. But why would then want to do that?
"The kids' mother came back home long enough to drop off another young'un, then took off again," mama said.
Them silly Bearden kids pushed that little one all over town in an old rickety, blue Taylor-Tot complete with bumpers and shock absorbers. And I knew they stole that, cause where would they get money to buy a big expensive Taylor-Tot? When that kid was older them Beardens removed the handle and foot tray. Then Scott Frazer walked with the stroller. I never saw any other little kid do that. Those Bearden kids said the bumpers were s'posed to come off, yet I knew that was one of their lies. Of the lies Peggy told, that was the biggest.
The littlest one, Scott Frazer, with his yellow hair, didn't really look like the rest of �em, and neither did Brian. I always wondered where they really came from.



"It is a good story, but the author uses to many "slang" words such as "foolin', and talkin.'"" -- Blake Feese, Normal, IL, USA.


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© 1998 Pegi Handley
May 2000

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