FICTION: Revenge

How far would you go to seek revenge?

(Click here for last week’s episode)

Buck’s fingers ached on an unusually chilled October morning as he watched the busy water traffic on the choppy Hudson. His classmates in the distance went for their noon dinner. Buck blew on his hands and shoved them deep in his pockets.

“Buck! I’ve been looking all over,” Fred called and ran up. “What’s this I hear about class? Carter said you fessed cold at recitations.”

“Yes, I guess I fell flat.”

“He said you didn’t know a blessed thing—that you’ve lost your smarts. And recitation’s your best talent!” Fred shoved him impatiently.

“Maybe I’ll go eat,” Buck said.

“You ass wipe, are you looking to flunk out?” Fred danced around him like a gorilla.

“I don’t care,” Buck said. “Maybe I’ll just join the navy—go out to sea or something.”

Fred laughed. “You hate the water.”

“This place is pretty well ruined for me, Fred. I knew my studies today, but I look around and see fellows I once trusted. I’m not stupid enough to believe that you didn’t make them behave.”

“Do you see how incredibly foolish it was to be nice to Streeter now?” Fred asked, kicking a rock from the path.

“Fred, will you ever let it die? I know. I shouldn’t have felt sympathy.”

Fred shook his head. “Of course you shouldn’t have. Black or white, people save their own skins first. It’s natural for most. But you—you go and take the blows for Streeter. It confounds reason. I haven’t told you because I thought it might make you more solemncholy than ever, but did you know that I bribed that darkie fifty dollars to stay quiet over the horse affair?”

“What? Why did I have to take the blame?” Buck said, his grey face thinner now than in summer.

“We thought it better to play up your strengths. The boys could forgive a dead horse before an overactive sense of humanitarianism.”

“So Streeter took the money even though he was off the hook?” Buck asked.

“Well, he threatened to go to the papers and give a different testimony—I suppose Sreeter was a little frightened for his life when we showed up in the dead of night—too bad.” Fred lit a cigar and passed it to Buck. “But now, Buckie, you’ve got a fresh start.”

Buck puffed away. “I was decent to Streeter and I don’t know why—that’s what bothers me.”

“I guess you just didn’t think he would be such a scoundrel.” A gust of wind across the open plain took their breaths for a moment.

“I thought, well,” Buck began with an embarrassed shrug, “I supposed that with his background he might be better.”

“That was flawed logic, Buck. It’s a rare victim who’s also a saint and Streeter’s no saint. Seems he was flirting with one of our girls and he had a vulgar picture.”

Buck laughed.

Fred laughed, too. “All right, I guess we all have dirty pictures, but what Streeter did to you was so low, and you see it now. He won’t be able as an officer in the army. Anyway, no one’s huffed at you any longer. Do you want to throw your life away over a dead horse and a nigger?”

“No, I don’t,” Buck said, chewing the end of the cigar while rubbing his arms in the cold.

“The way I see it, you need revenge, and that’s what I’m good at,” Fred said with supreme confidence.

“Streeter really took money from you to sell me down the river?” Buck asked, picking a piece of tobacco from his tongue.

“Yep, I don’t say that we should kill him or anything,” Fred began, taking Buck by the collar confidentially until he noticed Buck’s appalled and astonished look and softened his tone. “No, of course we would do nothing illegal in the criminal sense. I mean to only frighten and reduce him so he comes to the correct conclusion that he should withdraw from the academy. And you do agree that he doesn’t belong here, Buck?”

“Yes, I agree,” Buck replied, but the memory of his favorite instructor suggesting that he himself wasn’t officer material haunted him.

“Don’t be so glum, Buckie,” Fred said, tapping his brother’s chest. “Everything will work for the best.”

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

PART ELEVEN HERE

***Featured Image: Autumn Reverie by Jervis McEntee 1880

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