Fiction: Taking Chances on Lost Men

Thankful Crenshaw dismisses Buck’s warning and runs away to meet her childhood sweetheart . . .

William Weldon stumbled out into the Arizona sun. His friend said something, a joke maybe, but William didn’t get it. William laughed anyway and tripped on his boot lace. “Blast it.” The wool trousers he wore stuck to the backs of his knees and the front of his thighs as he bent to tie his shoe. The Buckskin Saloon was cool and comfortable, but William’s pockets were almost empty.

“Get a look at that, Bill. Now she’s some pumpkins,” William’s friend said.

William glanced up with a grin not expecting much. Haviland’s taste was not his own.

“William Weldon, is that you?” a girl cried out.

The glare from the sun behind the girl made her look almost a shadow, but her voice pleased him as ever. William stood up using a horse trough for balance and setting a distance between himself and Haviland.

“Your hair is so light now and your complexion—it’s not so pallid as it was on Tenafly Road. I’d hardly know you,” Thankful said as she ran up to William. She tucked a stray curl behind her ear and shielded her eyes from the sun. “William, is this how you greet a friend from home or don’t you remember me—it’s Thankful. . .”
Haviland laughed. “Bill’s awful bad off if he’d forget a looker like you, miss.”

“Thankful, I . . . of course I know you, but what are you doing here? Where are the others?” William asked, slicking his hair as he eyed the makeshift sidewalk behind her.

“The others? No, William, you misunderstand. I made the trip alone.”

William noted the way townsfolk eyed Thankful in her Eastern finery, bracelets and earrings glistening in the bright light of midday. “Your father never should have let you come here.”

“William, I had to get away from Mama’s and Father’s bickering. I took some of his money. I have over . . .”

William made to cover Thankful’s mouth, but didn’t touch her. “Mind your tongue. No one need know your finances.”

“William you look so different now . . . is that alcohol I smell?” she asked looking over Haviland with a disapproving eye.

“Thankful, I just don’t understand why you’d come all this way. It’s not right for a girl to be on her own,” William replied glancing around at the curious townsfolk. “There’s no place for you to stay.”

“You mean you’re not glad to see a friend?” Thankful asked, her bravery shaken.

“No, not really, Thankful. I mean . . .” William scratched the back of his head, impatient at his own perplexity.

“Well,” Thankful said after a thoughtful breath, “you could say I was your cousin or something and the army could put me up. I don’t eat much.”

“I’m not in the army, Thankful. They hardly need an invalid and they really don’t need women,” William lied.

“But your parents said the army men were very pleased with you.”

William tugged on his hat. “They didn’t make me feel at home. It just didn’t work, so I moved into town.”

Thankful surveyed the row of false front stores bleaching in the sun. “I’ve no place to go, Willy. Won’t you find me something somehow?” She played with a tassel on her bag. “I imagined you’d be an officer by now and you’d be happy to see a friend.”

“Oh, sakes alive, Thankful, you’ve put me in a tight spot. I feel right peart about seeing you, but . . .” He looked at her in tender annoyance. “You know nothing of the army. Me an officer? That beats all. Where will I put you for the night then? That’s what I have to set my mind on . . .”

Thankful looked on in disgust as William wiped his mouth with his frayed shirt sleeve.

“The guard at the post said you lived right here, but he was obviously fooling me—this looks like a saloon or a brothel even.”

“It’s what I can afford right now,” William said, annoyed at Haviland’s grin. “And it’s not a brothel.”

“Oh, my, well, that’s okay, Willy. It must be hard out here on your own with no real profession.”

“I’ve got a profession, miss. It just doesn’t pay much though.” William fished around in his empty pockets. “So, how were my parents before you up and left?” he asked as if he didn’t care.

“Your father was recovering well.”

“Recovering? From what?”

“Don’t you get mail?”

“Yes, of course, but Mother said nothing.”

“He seemed much better . . . some sort of fits or tremors that old people get or something—after Christmas. They missed you something terrible. Why didn’t you send your father a gift? What a mean thing to do. Anyway, your father wouldn’t be seen to and then he crashed with your mother on a sled.”

“A sled?”

Thankful laughed. “It was all very dangerous—my mother almost ran them over—you know how she drives!”

“Was my mother hurt? Why were they sledding?”

“For the frolic, I guess.”

“Was my father . . . was he himself?” William hated asking.

“He was himself, William. As sweet and silly as ever.”

“Yes, he was always so silly,” William said, rolling his eyes.

Now they stood at loose ends. Thankful dabbed her forehead with her white, neat handkerchief.

“Hey there, Bill! Billy!” A bold and loud woman with a painted face and no teeth waved from across the way.

“By the hornspoons!” William grumbled and pulled Thankful by the elbow.

“Willy, does that horrible looking creature know you? You were impolite.”

“Everybody knows everybody here and I’m called Bill now.”

“Merciful heavens, Bill won’t do. It sounds so common on you. William Weldon sounds much nicer—like nobility.”

“I don’t like royalty—it’s un-American,” William said.

“Well, this caps the climax! I come all this way on a dangerous adventure and you’re nothing but ill-tempered with me.” Thankful refused to be pulled farther.

“Thankful, you’re an uninvited guest. Give me a chance to adjust.”

William beckoned her to follow him around back where a saloon patron relieved himself. Thankful held her nose and glared at the man.

“What a filthy. . .”

“They’re men back from the field—the geological survey.”

A set of dried out and rotten steps led up to William’s home. He hesitated before letting Thankful enter. “It’s a little messy. Wait one minute.” William scanned the room looking for things that might shock an Eastern girl’s sensibilities. Shoving his drawings behind his washstand, he called her in.

Thankful’s dark hair glistened with perspiration. William threw a blanket over the dirty bed and dragged his chair to the center of the room. Thankful eyed it, patting the seat to make certain it could take her weight before sitting.

“Why would you take these quarters over the army?”

“This is about the size of the rooms I grew up in with my family in the army, miss. I was never as spoiled as you Crenshaws.” William had inherited his father’s disdain for the “big bugs” of the world, but at the moment he would have given anything for a small bit of their wealth. William had no idea where the last of his money had gotten to and he only had a bottle of hard whiskey to offer Thankful in a rusty cup so he offered her nothing.

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”

PART ONE HERE

PART TWO HERE

PART THREE HERE

PART FOUR HERE

PART FIVE HERE

PART SIX HERE

PART SEVEN HERE

PART EIGHT HERE

PART NINE HERE

PART TEN HERE

4 thoughts on “Fiction: Taking Chances on Lost Men

  1. It seems that Thankful and William are each surprised by the unexpected directions of the other. I can only imagine the kind of trouble inviting this young lady into his room will get both of them.Well done.

    Like

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