A Martin Guitar

A snippet from my completed novel: A Confluence of Rivers

                                           A Fat Back Story

Cut Bank   ( MS )                                                                                          February 1917

“Uncle Fats. Look, Uncle Fats.” Warren yelled, running across the distance between the house and the mule barn. He held a Martin fourteen fret, Model 1908 flattop guitar. The polished wood gleamed in the faint February sun. He handed the guitar to Fat Back, danced three times around. He watched the big man run his fingers over the sound board, up and down the strings, testing the tuning pegs.

“Sweet mother ‘a Jesus,” Fat Back said. “I heard they was guitars like this.” He plucked the first string. “Strike us a tunin’ note, boy. Let’s see how she sound.” Warren tapped the hammer against the plow shear.

Fat Back ran a fingernail across the string, turned the peg. He looked up, nodded; the boy tapped with the hammer again. They both laughed. “This ‘n ‘s different, ain’t it?”

He handed the guitar to Warren. “Tune her up, boy; she’s yore’s.” Warren turned the pegs, Fat Back struck the plough shear.

They stayed in the mule barn deep into the fading February evening. They stroked the strings of the two instruments: the steel strings, the cat gut strings. They switched the guitars back and forth.


                             It’s plowin’ in the mornin’, plantin’ in the evenin’,

                            We plow in the mornin’, plant seeds in the evenin’.

                                Cotton seeds, corn seeds; slip in some beans.

                                Cotton, corn, now and then peas and beans.

                            Plant in the morning; be home lovin’ in the evenin’.

Torie stood off from the kitchen door, on the small back veranda; she pulled the down comforter close around her. The sounds drifted across the expanse, across the feed lot and the back yard, from the barns. There was laughter, the clear sharp notes of the twin guitars, the soft rhythmic voices of the big man and boy.


                               Plant that cotton, that corn, them peas and beans.              

                              Work in the daytime, be home lovin’ come evenin’.

Mavis pushed open the door. “Can I ring the bell, Mama, call him in?”

“No,” her mother answered. “He’ll come in soon.” She touched her daughter’s hair, her shoulder.

They warmed their fingers over the small fire, the old black man and the eleven year old white boy. “Ole Fat Back be walkin’ home in the dark tonight. Ain’t no moon neither.”

                                                                                     And so it went.


About Tom Honea

the south mississippi i grew up in did not yet have paved roads or telephones or televisions. it did have great story tellers, on front porches in the summer or around the fire place in the winter. we were poverty stricken, financially but not culturally. we didn't know it. everybody up and down the road was in the same boat. . after forty years of day jobs i am approaching my "fishing years." i plan to spend them writing. i have a finished and edited deep south novel in the "marketing" stages. currently i'm deep into a WW II home front piece set in the Hampton Roads, VA area. notes and character sketches are already underway for "From Hiroshima to Elvis" ( the ten years after the war ) on the coastal areas of South Carolina. . visit asheville ... come and see me.
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One Response to A Martin Guitar

  1. Lynne Bryant says:

    I enjoyed this little dip into your novel, Tom. Is this an old slave song or did you create it?

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