"I hear you're gonna be dancin' nekkid in the moonlight tonight, doin' some satanic pagan ritual."
My mouth dropped open in shock, as I stared at my best friend of seventeen years. "I'm goin' huntin' for bats! Fully clothed!"
Joleen grinned. "Word of mouth t' God's ear. The spread of holy gossip in this town is wild."
Gunderson, Tennessee, population 426 1/2 - the half was on account of ex-Senior Chief Robbie Gilcutty havin' his legs blown off in Afghanistan and him wantin' t' keep the record straight - sat snug in the Appalachian woods next to a runoff stream that was good for froggin'. There was one bar, one hardware store mostly filled with stuff for huntin', and one diner-slash-grocers in town. The nearest big town was an hour drive down the winding road; much less if you took your ATV through the woods instead.
Joleen tightened her blond ponytail high on her head. Blue-eyed and freckle-faced, she was built like a truck, if a truck had a double-D bumper. I was built like someone forgot I was supposed t' be a girl: tall and flat. My brown hair came down t' my butt and I kept it in a braid.
"I only told Johnny-Six I was goin' huntin'," I said, narrowin' my brown eyes. "He better not've told folks I was gonna be nekkid!"
"I doubt it was him. If you was gonna be nekkid, he would've kept it t' hisself so he could spy on you." Joleen waggled her eyebrows, then made kissin' sounds.
"Johnny-Six don't like me like that none," I told her. Johnny-Six was the sixth Johnny in his family. His eight other brothers were named Johnny-One through Johnny-Five, and Johnny-Seven through Johnny-Nine. His baby sister was named Finally.
"Yeah, he does. He wants t' knock you up and make a whole new family of Johnny-babies."
Johnny-Six was good enough lookin', if you didn't mind he had no teeth on account of my accidentally smackin' him with a baseball bat. Them's things are slippery. Havin' a bunch of Johnny-babies wouldn't be too bad a thing. Still... "If my daddy gets wind of Johnny-Six wantin' t' knock me up, Johnny-Six ain't gonna have no pecker no more."
My daddy was serious, too. He went after Grover Groves with a buck knife when he caught us foolin' 'round in the barn couple years back. Doc Martin, the cow vet, had t' give Grover's pecker stitches, and Daddy had t' give the Groves one of his goats in penitence. We still call Grover "Pecker Stitches", but he don't seem t' care none. He already has a bunch of Grover-babies with Mary Lynn and a couple with Cathy Ann so his pecker kept workin' jus' fine after the stitches.
"In another year, you'll be eighteen, then your daddy's got no say in who knocks you up," Joleen said. "Maybe you should go nekkid dancin' tonight, see who shows up, so you know who your prospects are."
I went t' automatically protest, then thought about it. She had a point. Maybe Darwood Banes, the hottest boy in school, would show up. He hadn't knocked no one up yet, so maybe I still had a chance. I wouldn't mind seein' his pecker. And he had all his teeth.
"I'll do it. But only if you come with me," I said.
Joleen thought about it for all of a second. "I get t' bring the music."
"So long as it ain't no good Christian music, seein' as how we's supposed t' be doin' some satanic pagan ritual. Don't want t' offend God none."
"I'll come by around eight, then, to git you. Make sure you clean yourself up. Boys 'round here like smooth girls," Joleen said.
"Will do," I said. "And if you hear who told folks I was gonna be nekkid dancin', lemme know. After tonight, I might want t' thank 'im."