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‘Clubhouse’ by Shane Brown

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A few months ago, Rilee got a playhouse built for her by request and charm.

It was built swiftly and out of love. She shines in it and so do her cousins. Maddux usually stands outside of it and tries to sneak or peek in. He is jealous. He wants one too but he has called his wanting a clubhouse. Maddux tells anyone listening about his ideas and his plans of this, the where and the why. He tells them they can all have one together and that they can build the coolest clubhouse together. I think that’s the moment a good friend looked at me and said he would build it.

I’ve told JJ how much money I would pay out for him to come start the want and desire Maddux has. He lets Maddux know that if he builds it that everyone has a “key” to its shelter. JJ warns Maddux that if he tries to take control of the place that he would take the clubhouse down. Maddux agreed and I think my nine-year-old shook his hand somewhere while roaming Tula for the perfect spot.

I get a call from JJ one afternoon and he tells me to ride to Tula and to bring Maddux. I don’t ask why and I load my son up. We have been shooting BB guns and working on the dairy farm. The girls have been playing and swimming and everyone has smiles. I didn’t know JJ was in Tula, but I was eager and intrigued.

Maddux and I load up in my truck and he asks me where we are going. I tell him where we are headed as we pass slow county roads where people you meet in vehicles wave as you pass by. I look over and he smiles. He tells me he knows why we are going to Tula, but does not want to tell; he doesn’t wanna jinx himself. I smile and keep a steady pace. I can’t wait to get to Tula!

We pull up to Tula and JJ is picking up wood and saws and drills and Maddux has the biggest smile on his face. Structure has started on “his” clubhouse and there is a solid deck on its beginning. Maddux jumps out of my truck and runs and topples it. I look at Jason and laugh and so does he.

Maddux looks over the pond in disbelief. Through his eyes he is showing me he didn’t think it’d be this great. I ask him what he thinks about it and he says he loves it. I smile back and he asks me what do I think he loves about it.

I’m astounded and I said what? He said I’m close to Softy Pop. I look over his shoulder and his grandfather that loved this place is laid to rest twenty yards on the hill from where we stand. I smile again at him. I tear up and I thank JJ quietly.

Two weeks have gone by and I have watched Jason finish this project for all the kids today. He did it out of kindness and love. His little girl is in easy range from this place and she will get just as much love out of it too as the Browns will. I can’t wait to see them or hear them from where I stand at the cabin. They get to see it for the first time tomorrow, and they will fall in love again with Tula.

There is no telling how they will fix it up or what will ever happen in it. Secrets that cousins and friends do stay sacred in places like this, especially at Tula.

I’ve always heard JJ tell stories of being a young boy and camping out at “Ms Ludie’s” place. He has heard all of mine and my siblings stories. Hell, he tells me stories of this place and Dad.

You don’t forget this place and it will grow on you. This clubhouse will grow on them. I’m anxious to see their smiling faces and excitement. They will smile and jump and laugh and play. Their life will be good and they will have their own clubhouse. Rules will be made but broken. Things will change but not Tula.

Tula will always be the same for them. It’s the part now, where I understand the note on Dad’s typewriter that read, “Think Tula, and kick ass!”


Shane Brown is a HottyToddy.com contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at msushanebrown@yahoo.com.

Copyright Shane Brown, 2015.

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