“Shut up, Betty. You’re drunk.”
“Not enough. I thought this would be easier. I would never have told you except, except, well, now we need your help. The money’s dried up. You’re my only friend.”
“Friend? You’re not my friend. You’re a liar, a traitor. How could you?!’
Mama’s crying now and I think I have to upchuck again.
“But Bernie, I’m all he’s got. And if I don’t have help, I’ll be forced to, to tell everyone. Everyone!”
My head hits the back of Beauty’s seat. Mama has screeched the Model T to a halt.
“You’re threatening me now?” Mama’s words are Spikey like cactus needles. She never yells like this. “Is this why you befriended me in the first place?” Mama sobs. “For money? For …”
It still doesn’t make sense. The only thing that does is being home with Daddy.
I stumble through my front door trying to breathe.
“Emma?” Daddy says. He rushes to me with arms wide enough to hug all of Holly Gap. Choppers licks muck from my face.
“Oh, Daddy, Daddy.” I let him hold me.
He lifts my chin and stares at my dirty, scratched face. “What happened, Emma June? Tell me.”
His voice is worried. But there’s no truth I can tell him. Not now.
Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket, 1928