It was many years ago,
and the farmhouse stood right here.
Mom and dad were going hungry,
and for sister, death was near.
I heard somebody sneaking
out around the chicken coop,
and I pumped my daddy’s shotgun
right here underneath a stoop.
A black haired man was standing
with our hen there in a sack.
When I told him I would blast him
he just smiled and turned his back.
Well the first shot it shook him.
With the second one he fell.
And then when I walked up on him,
I could smell the fire of hell.
He rolled over, still a smilin’,
with blood streaming from his mouth,
and my jaw dropped in amazement
when words started to come out.
“Son I know you are a struggling,
and you shot this man here dead.
Yeah, it’s me. It ain’t him talking.
You know what the preacher said.
You done broke a big commandment.
Don’t you know you shall not kill?
You’ll be burning with me soon, son!
We all have to pay our bills.
But I’m feeling mighty generous.
Put your name here on the line.
All this never will have happened,
and your family will be fine!”
I just stood there for a minute.
I could see my sister’s face.
I could see my mama starving
in this God forsaken place.
I took and signed the paper,
and I knew the deed was done.
No one lying dead before me.
In my hand there was no gun.
I woke up and told my mama.
“It’s a dream,” she said to me.
“I’d have heard you out there shooting.
That makes sense now, don’t you see?”
Well I guess it satisfied me,
and I went out to the yard.
Daddy and a man were talking
there beside a shiny car.
And my daddy walked by crying,
with a smile upon his face.
He had got some army money,
and he up and sold the place!
We moved on into the town,
A little house on Willow Creek.
And my daddy got a job
making good money each week.
Me and sis both graduated.
Sis got married the next year.
I did pretty good with cattle,
and I bought this place right here.
Had two kids with a good woman.
They grew up and left me here.
Moved my mom and dad in with me,
and I buried them last year.
Life was good, buddy, I tell you.
Then tobacco took my wind.
To tell the truth I’m kind of scared.
Please just pray with me, my friend!
“God in heaven, please forgive me,
if I really killed that man.
If I gave my soul away,
You can get it back again!
I don’t know if I was dreaming.
Either way, I was a kid.
Please don’t hold all that against me.
It was trickery if I did!
Lord, I’ve served you for a lifetime,
and so has my family.
God in Heaven I accept you!
God in Heaven accept me!”
As I take my final breath,
it’s still weighing on my mind.
Was it real or was I dreaming?
Either way I’ve got to die.