FICTION: Family Friction

Mothers and fathers aren’t always wonderful. As Cadet Buck Crenshaw recovers from a severe allergic reaction, he’s forced to suffer a visit from his parents.

The night passed into a dreary day with rain pelting the roof of the infirmary. Fred cursed his parents for taking so long to arrive, but Buck showed signs of recovery. His cheeks and tongue shrunk back to normal, but he couldn’t speak. His neck throbbed, but no one explained things to him.

Fred met his parents at the door with a weary sigh. “The worst is over.”

Margaret ran to Buck and gasped. “There’s an awful hole in his neck, Graham! Oh, it’s more hideous than his face!” She threw herself onto the narrow cot, causing Buck to be greatly discomfited.

“Margaret, will you ever have any sense? Get off him at once!” Graham demanded and swooped in for his own examination. His revolted expression spoke volumes. “I just don’t like the look of things.”

“Doctor Law is a hero, I tell you,” Fred said. “If he hadn’t cut Buck open he’d be in a box right now.”

Margaret groaned and pulled a chair beside Buck, wiping her eyes.

Graham looked over his son more as a doctor than a father, probing and prodding, running his fingers over Buck’s scarred forehead and feeling his pulse more than once. He looked so angry that Buck wondered if he really wanted to be there and then Graham left.

“That bastard!” Fred grumbled and took Buck’s hand. “Don’t pay any attention to him. Mama and I are here.” They were quiet for a long while.

“Now, you MUST come home, Buck. I can’t stand another upset like this—I’ll go mad!” Margaret said.

“Buck is too big to go home, Mama. He’s a fighter and will win the day,” Fred assured her.

Margaret kissed Buck’s hand. “I suppose you’re right. Fred, you are so unlike your father—you’re real and decent. I feel honored to have you as a son.”

Fred hugged his mother just as Graham returned and the room went quiet again.

Graham blew his nose and his eyes were red. “The doctor says you may be well enough in a few weeks to go back to class, son, but they tell me you haven’t been keeping up your studies—I don’t understand.”

Margaret cried out. “Is now the time to be worrying about our near-dead son’s scores in arithmetic? How very cold!”

“Margaret, close your mouth for once!” Graham came to the foot of his son’s bed. “I don’t give a damn about the grades, exactly—it’s you, Buck. There’s more going on than you boys allow us to know, and it’s troubling.”

“Don’t trouble yourself, Father. I have everything under control,” Fred said.

Graham glared at him. “I bet, Fred.” He tapped Buck’s foot under the blanket with all the tenderness he could muster. “I’m here for you, Buck, if ever. . .”

Buck moved his leg.

Graham sighed. “Buck, when will you ever learn? You really should come home. I’ll take time off from work—maybe we could travel when you’re well.” He could say no more. He wiped his eyes.

“Father, Buck will recover. Won’t he?” Fred asked.

“Graham, dear, what are you on about traveling?” Margaret asked. “When is the last time you took me anywhere? Why must you always think of yourself? Maybe you should send me and the girls—and Buck—to Europe or someplace and you stay home! Buck should be with his mama.”

Fred sneered at his parents. “I doubt Buck wants to go anywhere with either of you. It’s here he needs to be to prove he can’t be beaten by the likes of Milford Streeter.”

“I’m sure that unfortunate cadet didn’t mean to hurt Buck,” Graham said.
“Milford Streeter is a danger to all cadets, Father. He distracts us all from proper training by turning us against each other. His mishaps have ruined Buck’s reputation and have nearly killed him—what more should I put up with?” Fred asked.
“Doctor Law says that Cadet Streeter was soundly rebuked. The boy feels terrible. He can’t help how he was raised. There are even people in my practice who have more confidence in home remedies than doctors.”

“The people you visit with are stupid low-lifers! Hardly West Point material. Streeter must go!” Fred replied.

“You had better not do anything, Fred,” Graham warned. “Worry about your own life.”

“No, I’m not like you. I worry about others—my family and friends,” Fred replied.

Buck punched his fist against the bed.

Fred said, “Don’t fret, Buckie, we’ll do what’s right.”

Graham squeezed past Fred and took Buck’s chin tenderly. “Buck, we depend on you to do what’s right.”

“That’s a fine thing to say in front of Fred!” Margaret complained. “No wonder he’s such trouble.”

“Margaret, Fred chooses his trouble. He’s never listened to a thing I say.”

“That’s because it’s nonsense!” Margaret said, motioning for Fred not to listen to his father.

“Coming from you, I almost laugh!” Graham remarked. “When have you ever given our children any encouragement or sound advice? You’ve made them as spoiled and shallow as you are!”

“How dare you!” Margaret cried. “Is it my fault you were always so busy with other people’s children you never explained how you’d like the children raised?”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have been so damned lazy,” Graham shot back. “Maybe you should have done some housework once in a while or taught the children a moral or two. Maybe then you wouldn’t be so fat and bitter now!”

Margaret stomped her foot. “Maybe you should look in the mirror!”

Buck closed his eyes, wishing they would leave and finally they did. Only Fred remained. He paced the room and then turned to Buck.

“Oh, Buck, I know you too well and you cannot let our ignoramus father lead you astray. You’ve avoided the mirror, but here it is. I do it not to hurt you but to strengthen your resolve. Here, just look at what Streeter’s done. You can forget marriage and promotions and–come now, Buck, be a man, don’t get upset like a sniveling girl.”

No words came that even remotely caught the black horror of discovery. A burning rage pulsed through Buck.

“Bully for you, Buck. I’m glad to see that fire in your eyes—maybe you’ll grow a backbone yet. We’ll sort out this Streeter thing together—just like the old days. Remember how we got Willy Weldon good all those times? That was real frolic, wasn’t it?”

Buck cringed at the thought of how they bullied their childhood enemy. But this was different. Streeter humiliated him by standing for colors against him even! He’d taken every joy from him. Buck knew that for once he must do the right thing.

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.”















9 responses to “FICTION: Family Friction”

    • Thanks, Sharon. The Crenshaw family is such a mess. It’s why I love them, I guess. They certainly have the tendency to go left when they should go right!

      How is your arm doing? I was told I wasn’t allowed to pick up even a piece of paper for the first month, but here you are typing so I’m hoping you are feeling much better.



      • Typing left handed only, casts are off, arm very weak, doing therapy diligently, it will be almost a year before I will heal as much as I’m going to, which will not be 100%. But I don’t have an incurable or terminal illness, didn’t hit my head, never blacked out, never even cried, so I’m extremely lucky. Thank you for asking, Adrienne. And yes, feeling more hopeful.


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