Fred Crenshaw leaves town to have his twin pick up the pieces of a broken holiday.
Buck slogged through the fairy-lit town of Englewood as carolers sang. Up the hill to Chestnut Street he debated sleeping either in the carriage house or his warm bed. A month of winter break promised to be damned uncomfortable as things stood now with his parents.
Buck wondered how Streeter was doing at home for Christmas and for good. Maybe Streeter’s people considered him a failure and were disappointed in his decision to withdraw from the academy or maybe they had always expected Streeter to be mistreated by white cadets and were relieved to have their son back. Or maybe they had an ounce of hope that things were different after the war, and Buck and Fred had killed that for them.
The massive dried-out Christmas tree Graham had brought home too soon stayed unlit in the large front window–a fire hazard. The gaslights up the drive and the candle-lit windows made for a bright yet false sense of Christmas spirit. Buck climbed the front steps and slipped into the hallway. He pulled off his boots with sore tingling fingers setting them in their place under the bench. Buck tip-toed towards the staircase, but in the expansive parlor sat the family. Even Margaret’s Irish wolfhound Fiona remained aloof at her owner’s feet as Buck came before them with a sigh.
“Did Fred find you? Where is he?” Graham asked.
“How would I know?” Buck said, pulling his hat off as he came closer to the fire.
“Buck, we’ve decided as a family. . .” Graham said in his milk-toast style.
“As a family,” Graham hesitated. His eyes were red again.
“What your father is trying to say is that you are no longer welcome in this house,” Margaret explained.
“Mama . . .”
Margaret burst into tears. “How could you fall in love with another cadet?”
“Margaret, shut up!” Graham ordered.
“I-I’m not in love with anyone! Mama, Fred lies!”
“Now, Buck, I know Fred is no good, but has he been lying about you failing school? Has Fred lied about you kicking Streeter and leaving him for dead?” Graham asked.
“No, but it was Fred who . . .”
“Fred has told us how time and time again you have avoided class and made that poor cadet’s life a misery.”
“But Fred . . .”
“Fred is not failing school,” Graham said. “He’s too busy for pranks, but not you. Fred is still at the top of his class and destined for great things—even if he is an arrogant piece of—“
“Graham, not in front of the children,” Margaret scolded.
“Father, you said you cared more for integrity than prestige—you hypocrite!” Buck whispered, his frail voice used up.
“You speak to me of integrity after bribing stable workers and almost killing another cadet because he’s colored?” Graham asked. “Buck, I’ve failed. I admit it. There are so many things I should have done differently so I hate myself more than I hate you.”
“You hate me?” The wound at Buck’s neck throbbed.
Graham opened his mouth, but stopped himself from speaking further.
“Father, if a train threatened to hit me would you risk your life to push me out of the way?” Buck asked, trembling.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“You’ve shown me nothing but hate, Buck,” Graham said, his try at ambivalence ringing hollow. He cleared his throat, glancing at Margaret who expected her decrees to be carried out no matter the pain they caused her husband. Graham turned back to Buck. “Why do you care if I like you? And besides it’s a ridiculous question. I might save a dog for all I know. It proves nothing. It’s not rational thinking, Buck.”
“I don’t care!” Buck said, throwing his hat to the ground.
“Buck, you’ve made your bed with your debased immorality. It took a lot for Fred to admit that his beloved brother commits sodomy!” Margaret said.
Graham shook his head.
“Father, I don’t! I haven’t!”
“Well, you are only just above a convicted criminal and I can’t have you around the young ones this month, though Nathan is greatly disappointed. Of course I will pay to have you put up at the hotel in town,” Graham choked out.
“What about Fred?”
“Fred met us on the road and drove home with us before setting out to look for you,” Margaret said. “He apologized for his behavior. He’s been seeing a girl from Highland Falls. Her family has invited him to stay at their place in the city for a few weeks. We think they’ll marry.”
“So Fred’s not kicked out of the house?”
“He’s not going to be here anyway,” Margaret explained. “He says he’s been under an awful strain worrying about you.”
“I don’t believe it!” Buck cried.
“Buck, we do this for your own good. You need to learn that your actions, good and bad, are rewarded in kind,” Graham wiped his face. “We want you out by tomorrow, son.”
“Don’t ever call me son!” Buck replied and stalked off to his room. Lighting the lamp on his bureau, he caught his torn face in the mirror. From his hairline to his brow, a mass of unresolved flesh, inflamed and unhealed, confronted him. The actual scar raised like a vein breaking the surface. Buck took the mirror and smashed it on the floor. Embarrassed at himself then, he crouched to gather the shards of glass. His Uncle Oliver had committed suicide. Buck sat back considering it, but then Thankful knocked and let herself into the room.
“What’s happened?” Thankful looked at the glass and fell to her knees beside him. “Buck, don’t even consider it! Please don’t!”
“I wasn’t considering anything,” he lied. He dropped the shards in the wastebasket.
“Buck, you didn’t throw the memory book into the fire.”
“What makes you say that?”
“It’s Fred. I know it.”
“No, it’s me,” Buck said. “Why didn’t I retrieve the book from the fire? It seems my life is a blur and I’m far off.”
“Buck, don’t do anything foolish.”
Buck stared at her. “That’s all I ever do.”
“Now that’s a lie. Remember how you brought me ice cream all the way from town every day when I was sick that summer?”
“It was always melted—and I stole it.”
“Buck, you’re terrible, but not as terrible as Fred and that’s why Father was so upset.”
“He’s so upset he’s disowning me.”
“It’s because Mama thinks you like men.” Thankful laughed.
“I almost asked a girl to marry me at the end of summer.”
“No! Really?” Thankful outshone the family in beauty. Her wide-set intelligent eyes and round, rose-hued cheeks against her jet black curls charmed everyone she met, but Buck loved her loyal devotion to him best. How many times had she stood for him against their mother?
“Yes,” Buck continued, “but she refused me after all. Her name was Rose Turner.”
Thankful swallowed. “From Highland Falls?”
A look of realization traced his face. “No, that’s not the girl Fred—he wouldn’t!” Buck groaned.
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
PART TWELVE HERE
PART THIRTEEN HERE
PART FOURTEEN HERE
PART FIFTEEN HERE
PART SIXTEEN HERE
PART SEVENTEEN HERE
PART EIGHTEEN HERE
PART NINETEEN HERE
PART TWENTY HERE