Waiting for Rosie’s Cafe

Note: What were the chances I would find the word Willy-nilly (daily post) in one of my writings? As my kids used to say, “Random!” But here it is!

 

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket by C. Dennis-Willingham

Mr. Leonard, Scooter, and Frank have already left the house for Rosie’s. It’s part of the plan. Mama squeezes her hands together while Miss Helen make-ups her face.

“Stop being so willy-nilly, Bernice. This will be a perfect evening. And for heaven’s sake, stay still!” Miss Helen says, winking at me.

Mama plants her hands on Miss Helen’s vanity. “I know. It’s just, well, there’s so much to say.”

“Then say it and put it behind you.” Miss Helen stands back and eyeballs her work. “You look beautiful, Bernice.”

“Better than beautiful, Mama,” I tell her.

“I’m in my slip for Christ’s sake. At least wait to compliment me until after I’m dressed.”

When Mama puts on her new dress, a pink taffeta with frilly layers, she says it’s too fancy for Rosie’s café. But she can’t stop looking in the mirror.

Still stupid

Now, the Charleston ends. Victor Victrola’s needle ch-ch, ch-ch, ch-ch’s searching for something that’s already been used up. Like my memory at the end of carnival night. And Beauty was wrong. My worries are still here.

Big Chief Tablet glares at me from the kitchen table. I tell it to shut up, that homework can wait till I’m good and ready.

I’m extra careful when I plant the needle on the beginning of a different recording. I turn the crank again. The green and yellow squares of our sitting room rug melt together as I spin, and my braid pings one shoulder then the next like two different suitors asking to be my dance Partner. My skirt puffs up like a wild mushroom and it’s swoosh seems to say, “Everything will be right again, Emma June.”

“How do you know that when I can’t even remember?” I yell. Then I jump up and down trying to stomp out my stupid. It’s still there.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket by C. Dennis-Willingham

 

daily prompt: Partner

Missing Moms

Maybe Frank doesn’t like the quiet since I’ve stopped talking because he says, “Emma June, I’m sorry about your mom being gone.”

My eyes water. I grab a stick, snap it in two.

“I’m sorry you don’t get on with your real mom,” I mutter.

“Maybe I’d like her if she’d raised me. She didn’t. She gave that job to her sister. I only live with her now because Aunt Sissy died. I don’t have any other kinfolk.”

Like me. I only have Daddy now. “What does your mom do in Holly Gap?”

“Nothing really. Takes in ironing. Doesn’t leave the house unless she makes enough to buy groceries. Sulks mostly.”

Like Daddy. But when I’m around, he tries to Bury his sadness.

“She never drives anywhere, takes you places?” I ask.

Frank shakes his head and gives me a devilish eye. “Sometimes I get to drive her old jalopy, though. When Aunt Sissy died, Ma got the junk heap and me.”

Now I feel bad about giving him that dog food sandwich.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket, 1928

daily post prompt: Bury

Don’t lick your dog

pinwheel-1133879_960_720

In the last fourteen hours, I’ve seen more scenery than a turkey vulture. I tell Daddy I can’t wait to go. For the most part, it’s true. I won’t have to think about the vulture’s nest – a tangled up shack were Frank lives.

I put on a nicer dress, the blue one with Sailor pockets, brush through my hair tangles, and think about chopping it off. I stare at the scissors when the familiar voice calls out.

“Emmy! Emmy!”

I twist my hair into a braid.

“She’s in the house, Scoot Bug,” Daddy yells from behind the house.

“Emmy! Emmy!” he yells again.

I find Scooter outside. He’s hugging Choppers and licking his fur.

“Scoot! Your mama doesn’t like for you to lick dogs.”

He gives me a devilish grin and spits mutt hair from his mouth.

If he asks me to whirly-bird, this time I’ll say no. I’ll show him the still-in-the-carton Tinker Toys instead.

“Ba-boom-ba-boom. Ba-boom-ba-boom. A hullabaloo!”

He’s doing it again. His few words tell me he’s been with Frank.
“I thought you couldn’t leave without your parents watching over you.”

“I am watched over.”

“Yeah? Where?”

Scoot points toward his house, but I know his parents can’t stand on their front porch and keep an eye on him a good hundred yards away.

Halfway between Scoot’s house and mine, I see him waving under the clump of live oak trees. My arm’s too heavy to wave back.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket

Sail – Daily word prompt

Missing Letters

Saturday is family day, if only two people count as a whole family. We’re not a complete three-legged dog family anymore. Without Mama, Daddy and me have turned into a kangaroo that hops on two feet with sorrow poking out of its pouch.

Daddy and me climb into Ol’ Bess. His knuckles are white on the steering Wheel as he drives us into town, and I don’t want to ruin family day by asking questions about Mama.

Every Saturday, Rosie’s Café has roast beef and mashed potatoes. We always split a slice of apple pie three ways. This time, I’ll get more than my fair share, but the thought makes my stomach hurt.

Five minutes of quiet later, we pull up in front to the café on Holly Gap’s main street.

“What in tarnation?” Daddy points. “Wonder what happened.”

One of the workers is sweeping up glass on the sidewalk. Just above his head, there’s a big hole in the front window. Now, instead of saying “Best café in Texas,” it says, “Bes… exas.”

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket

Daily photo prompt: Wheel

What poverty looks like

All I hear is the rotting porch creaking from the wind.

“It’s the right thing to do,” I say over and over while pulling open the screen door that has more holes than a liar’s tale.

The house is crowded with litter. I step over a broken radio with its back unscrewed, a screwdriver next to it. The one chair in the tiny sitting room lies on its side, wood glue next to its broken leg. Papers torn from a Big Chief tablet, marked with music notes, are scattered across the floor. A tattered pillow sits on a mattress in the corner. Beside it, Frank’s harmonica. I picture Frank sleeping here. My eyes get watery.

The kitchen smells like the sandwich I made Frank – moldy and spoiled. Plates and bowls are caked and crusted with old food.

I walk the few steps to her bedroom. The door is open. I concentrate on the body beneath the covers and see the slight rise and fall of the life underneath.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket

Daily Word Prompt: Paper

We can’t find Scooter!

 

article-2017054-0cc18ad400000578-245_634x692Miss Helen paces and says, “We can’t find Scooter. I even went to the swimming hole.” Now she’s sobbing. “The water’s deep and violent. What if, what if …” She blows her nose on the handkerchief she brought with her.

There can’t be a world without Scooter Hutchings. A world where things Blossom if you believe, and where everything is so good, you can’t see any of the moldy parts. I try not to upchuck.

“What was his fit about?” Frank asks.

Miss Helen shakes her head. “He kept yelling ‘broken bones and bad ladders, broken bones and bad ladders.’ I know my Scooter was mad at the ladder after Leonard fell and broke his leg. A few days after the accident, Scooter took a hammer to it and used the rungs for whittling.”

“That’s where he got those pieces,” Frank mumbles to himself.

“But Scooter never yells. Ever.” Miss Helen keeps going. “So, I told him to go outside and play the harmonica. It helps him relax. But I forgot to check on him. I was—”

The Eveready Hour,” I say, knowing it’s her favorite show.

Frank stands up and fidget’s a stare out the front window.

Miss Helen nods and keeps crying. “The song, It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo, came on. I was thinking about the night in the storm shelter, how we were all together.”

“Well, we can’t just sit here,” Mama says, thinking my thoughts.

Think like Scooter. Think like Scooter. He’d heard Brandon’s words, knew Mr. Foley broke his kid’s bones. He took revenge on the ladder. Could he be after Mr. Foley for breaking Rachael’s arm? But Mr. Foley was on the other side of the creek, not our side. Scooter couldn’t get to him. Would he try?”

“Oh, God.” I stand up. My hands shake first, then my body.

“Emma June?” Daddy pulls me toward him and stares in my eyes. “Tell us what you’re thinking.”

So, I do.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket

daily post word prompt: Blossom