Readin’ the Bible before I die

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The next morning the doctor handed me two little yellow pills and said, “Here’s your breakfast.” Then he left me in a chair that leaned back. I waited there until my head started to feel fuzzy, like I was sitting at the bottom of a well looking up towards the light of the sky.

“Cono, are you ready?” I stared up through the well and saw the long-nosed face of the man talking to me, the man in the white coat who made a little Loop out of some kind of wire and pulled one, then two tonsils from the back of my throat. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, he decided that my adenoids weren’t doing me any good, so he yanked them out too. Fuzzy or not, I felt every damn bit of it.

He laid a pack of ice on my neck for a while and told me to go home and get some rest. I did. I rested for a whole week because I got sicker than a dog and not because I forgot to cover up my hiney. I got a bad fever and thought for sure I was gonna die. That’s when I picked up that Bible. I remembered Ma saying, “Cono, thar ain’t nothin’ wrong with readin’ the Bible.” Plus, I thought that if I was about to die, I might as well find out who was going to open up the Pearly Gates to let me in.

Once I got through all that “beggetting” stuff, it wasn’t a bad read. I didn’t understand much of it since there were so many people to keep up with. I got the gist of most of it though. But I was still trying to figure out why it said “an eye for an eye” one minute and “turn the other cheek” the next.

During that week, Delma came in once with a pot on her head and stared at me sober as a judge.

“Delma, ye need te get yerself a better lookin’ hat.” She laughed and left the room probably thinking she made me feel better. I guess in a way she did.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper

Daily prompt: Loop

Not Meddlin’ with Bonnie Parker

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Miss Essie stoops over her cane and is a least a hundred years old if she’s a day.  “C’mon ov’r here, kids, I wanna tell ye what I jes’t tol’ yer mother,” she says, using her cane like a big hand to wave us over. We sit on her step and look up at the old lady sitting in her wobbly porch chair.

“Well, my nephew took me into Sweetwater t’day, ya know, ta do a little shoppin’?” Oh sweet Jesus, I have to hear a shopping story.

“Well, I was at the Five and Dime and I got in line to pay for the odds and ends I’d picked up, ye know like a new hair bonnet, a few necessary toiletries. What else did I get now?” She looks up at the sky like she’s waiting for Jesus to remind her. Delma and me look up too but we don’t hear any loud voice coming from heaven. That doesn’t surprise me none.

“Oh, some of that sweet smelling toilet water they sell up by the front counter. What’s it called again, Elnora?” This time she doesn’t look up. Mother shakes her head back and forth to say she doesn’t know, while I take my mind to anywhere but shopping in Sweetwater with Miss Essie.

She grunts as she stands up from her chair. So I think she’s forgotten and is going inside and I can get on with my day, but she keeps going.

“I wadn’t Meddlein’ or nothing, but I see this gal in front’a me with a stack’a clothes piled up on the counter, ‘nuff fer three families, mind ye, three families. Well, the clerk starts ringin’ up them clothes, but the gal says, now listen to this children, the gal says, ‘I ain’t payin’. Jes’t put ‘em in a bag. I’m Bonnie Parker.’ Kin ye imagine, I was standing right next to Bonnie Parker herself. I could’a been kilt right then and there, right then and there.” Then she fans the heat and fear off herself and sits down in her rickety porch chair like she’s about to faint.

“Bonnie Parker?” I say. “Like Bonnie and Clyde Parker?”

“One’n the same.”

“Who’s Bonnie and Clyde Parker?” Delma asks.

“Barrow,” Mother says. “Clyde Barrow.”

“Who’s Bonnie and Clyde Barrow?” she asks again.

“Never ye mind Delma,” says Mother.

“I’ll tell ye later,” I whisper to Sis.

But Miss Essie says, “Killers, that’s what they are. Natural born killers.” She keeps fanning like she’s trying to air herself away from being dead.

I sat there thinking on what it would be like to meet Bonnie and Clyde. All the kids talk about them and sometimes, when our parents don’t know, we pretend we’re holding up banks just like they do.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper

Daily word prompt: Meddle

1963 – No law against domestic violence

I open the door for Deputy Garvey. But it’s not him. He’s pudgy around the waist and not much taller than me. His eyes squint into a fine line that matches his lips. I motion him inside but don’t ask him to sit.

“Problem?” he says.

“Who the hell are you?” Olvie’s opens another beer.

“Officer Lancaster. And you are?”

“The owner of this house. Where’s Garvey.”

“Off. So, what’s the problem?” I don’t like the way he’s staring at Isaac.

“I’m Nora Roberts and the problem’s mine. I live across the street and the problem is my husband. Deputy Garvey came to my house yesterday. I’m sure he wrote some kind of report. He hit me.”

“Not against the law,” Lancaster says.

“And that makes it right?” Olvie lets out a soft burp.

Lancaster rolls his eyes. “So, Mrs. Roberts. Something else happened?”

The three-year-old has given up trying to wake up Gladys. She leaves the couch and starts running in tiny circles.

“Mrs. Roberts?” Isaac says. “Mind if I take her in the kitchen to find a snack?”

She nods, looking Relieved. “Go with Isaac, Millie.” Mrs. Roberts turns back to the deputy. “Yes, something else happened. Tonight, Lester made another threat. He said, well, he said that if I ever crossed him again, he’d take the children and burn down the house with me in it. Then he peeled off down the street to God knows where.”

“Threats aren’t against the law,” Lancaster says looking bored.

“Doesn’t make it righ,” Olvie slurs.

“I’ll make a note. Anything else?”

Mrs. Roberts shakes her head, her eyes cast downward.

“Okay then. And who’s the colored boy in the kitchen?”

“Thank you for coming, Mr. Lancaster,” I say, opening the door.

“Officer Lancaster, young lady.”

Olvie stands and sways on her feet. “Get your pompous ass off my property and don’t come back.”

Lancaster’s eyes spark fire. “You best be respectful to me. I’ve arrested folks on less charges than speaking to me like that.”

“No doubt,” Olvie says, flipping a hand. “Now get your ass off my property. And while you’re at it, try saving someone. It will be a good change for you. Now, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”

He points a stern finger toward Olvie. “I’ll be watching you. And,” he nods toward the kitchen, “the people inside.”

“So you’ll watch over me then, Officer Lancaster?” Mrs. Roberts says.

But he doesn’t respond. He leaves without doing a damn thing to help a woman whose husband threatened to kill her.

Olvie sighs and leans back in her chair. “Well, that was productive.”

I want to tell her that she didn’t make things any better. In fact, she probably made things worse for Isaac.

Excerpt from my WIP, Bare Bones of Justice (working title)

Relieved

Robbers in my kitchen

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Cono and his sister, Delma

Dad clenched his fist and his jaw at the same time. “Show me a woman with long nails and I’ll show ya a lazy woman.” Mother ignores his comment but finishes up, putting the lid back on.

“Damn that shit stinks,” he says, staring at the polish Bottle. “Ya’ll go on to bed now,” he tells Delma and me.

“But it ain’t…”

“I said git to bed!”

“It’s early Wayne…”

“I’m havin’ company, Elnora. You need to go on too. I’m havin’ a business meetin’.”

Delma and I go to our room and she has no trouble falling asleep. For me it’s just too early and my body and head want more things to do.

After a little while, I hear men’s voices come in through our door. I hear Dad tell them to sit down at the table. I hear the sound of coffee brewing on the stove.

“I don’t want any part of it, Earl,” says Dad.

“But Marshal Dry will be in on it and he’ll make sure we get in and out of there without a hitch, ain’t that right J.D.?”

Then I knew who was sitting at my dinner table, the very table I’d sat under just the night before. It was Mr. J.D. Eckles himself, the outlaw from Ranger and Joe and Earl Adams, the outlaws from Rotan. I peek out of the little hole in my door and get to see pieces of their faces.

J.D. says, “Williams Drug Store is across from the bank. When we’re done with that, I can back up my truck and load up the narcotics.”

Now I know what they’re planning to do. They’re planning to rob our town’s bank, the bank where H. works. I picture H. just doing his job, cleaning and sweeping, when men come in with guns ready to shoot. I don’t like it. Not one iota.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper, my father’s story

Daily word prompt: Bottle

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

The Madam’s Ire

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Meta stood and removed her clothing down to her chemise. “And Mr. Harmon was there. I had the good fortune of meeting his wife.”

“Ah, Ingrid. A delightful woman. Each Christmas, Edgar brings us baskets of fruits, nuts, cheeses and the finest of brandies. It’s really Ingrid who buys the gifts.”

Meta blinked, her eyes rolling to the left. No doubt, Meta’s curiosity rested on why a married woman would support her husband’s attendance at a bordello. Meta didn’t need to know the reason.

“You seem to know a lot about San Antonio’s denizens, Miss Fannie.”

She had no idea. The secrets I knew about San Antonio’s citizens would fill more than a dozen barrels in Otto Koehler’s brewery.

I left Meta and returned to my room. Unless a straggler walked in, no more appointments were scheduled for the night. I had the inclination many of my regulars attended the meeting to please their wives.

I thought of Sadie, her nightmare, her disobedience. I pushed the thought aside and picked up the February 14th edition of Life magazine and stared at the cover—a red heart shot through with Cupid’s arrow.

 

The loud slam of the front door jostled me awake.

Four a.m.

I crept out of my bedroom and found Sadie stumbling and swaying toward the staircase. “Where the hell have you been?”

Sadie collapsed on the first step, laid her head on the third and motioned me away. She lifted her head and vomited.

I left her there to stew in the mess she Created.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

daily word prompt: Create

As always, dear writers, the ones with the blocks, think further and deeper outside that damn box!

I haven’t worked with photoshop in a long time. Starting over was NOT like riding a bicycle. But I did it, albeit in a slow, Carolyn fashion.  As most of you know, I am currently writing my fourth novel set in 1963. As my dad used to say, it’s a booger-bear. So, writing children’s books gives me a breath of fresh air. (Yes, I go to sleep rhyming, then pull out my hair.)

Here’s a sample of my latest. It is a reminder for children to keep their imaginations open and active as they listen to a Grandma tell her granddaughter about a magical place.

 

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As always, dear writers, the ones with the blocks,

think further and deeper outside that damn box.