What happens when you mess with soiled doves . . .
“Bill Weldon, I’ve listened to your snoring long enough and my patience is all worn through. Even after the five dollars you gave me last night, you still owe me for ten hours.”
At first, in his fog, the voice sounded like his grandmother’s, but William sat up and realized his mistake. The woman, with sagging jowls and deep ruts across her forehead, sat in her pantaloons, legs wide apart with a Turkish cigarette dangling between her fingers.
William tried to remember how he’d paid for her services, wincing as he moved his sore leg over the edge of the bed.
“Bill, I hope you ain’t looking for no shoes. You musta lost em at bluff.”
“I couldn’t tell you,” William mumbled, pulling his trousers off the bed knob.
“So you still owe me for some hours,” the woman said. Her eyes were slits beneath their puffed and heavy lids and her mouth rested in a scowl of disappointment and skepticism.
“I bet I slept through most of it.” William checked his pockets. “I don’t know, Madeline, I’ll have to pay you back some other time, I guess.”
“Get out of my sight, Bill Weldon.”
William limped out the door and vomited. The loss of the expensive boots weighed on him now as he walked toward home.
He froze on the dusty road as Lieutenant Fahy and Thankful strode over to him. William buttoned his shirt. The dirt, sweat and bodily fluids beneath it made him very uncomfortable now. His tongue caught in his sandpaper mouth.
“Oh, Willy! We’ve been searching for you for hours!” Thankful embraced him.
Fahy stared at William’s bootless and deformed foot.
“Willy, I’m all set to go and I need my money now,” Thankful said. “I left it in your room after you told me about the bandits in the desert. Please let me go fetch it.”
“I don’t know, Thankful, I . . .” William held his head.
The lieutenant glared at him.
“Thankful, just how much money did you leave in my room?” William thought of the whore and drinking . . .
Thankful leaned forward and whispered, “Over two hundred dollars!”
Both Fahy and William blanched.
“Please, God,” William prayed to himself, “don’t let me have lost all that money!”
“Bill, take us to your room this instant—please. The poor girl wants her money.” The lieutenant gave William a superior and knowing look.
William coughed and swallowed his spit before leading them back to his hovel, limping.
“Oh, Willy, you haven’t lost your boots?” Thankful asked. She gave him a tender look.
William opened his door. The lieutenant scanned the floor and bedding and the bits of William’s drawings. Thankful went to the wash basin and gasped. “Oh, Willy, you wouldn’t have taken the money—by accident–last night, would you? Did you find your hidden savings?”
The lieutenant scoffed. “Hidden savings? More like your father’s money!”
“I don’t even remember coming home,” William asserted.
“Do you remember moving my money at all?” Thankful asked, her face red and frightened.
William shook his head.
“Don’t tell us you took the money to the bluff tables!” the lieutenant exclaimed.
“He couldn’t lose that much at poker, could he, Mr. Fahy?” Thankful wrapped her arm in Fahy’s and it galled William.
“Anything is possible with your cousin. He has a knack for trouble, poor fellow.”
Fahy was so clean and self-possessed.
“Land sakes, Willy, try to remember!” Thankful said. “I can’t go home with no money to show for myself!”
“You shouldn’t have brought so much out here!” William said. “It was so dangerous and stupid!”
“Bill Weldon!” Fahy said. “How dare you lecture your cousin! You’ve really put her in a pickle. It’s well-known you owe half the whores in town and have high tabs at the dram shops. You should confess instead of hiding behind your supposed infirmities.”
William remembered Thankful’s words last evening—be good. He couldn’t defend himself against a night he didn’t remember.
“Shall we bring the sheriff in on this, Miss Crenshaw?”
“Merciful heavens, no!” Thankful replied. “I don’t want Willy in trouble. I know it’s not his fault. I shouldn’t have depended on him, it wasn’t fair.”
William wracked his brain for ways to help her. “What will you do now?”
Fahy replied, “Miss Crenshaw is welcome at the captain’s house for as long as she likes. She’s already Mrs. Markham’s pet after only one night. Some are just more suited for the military life.”
“I’m so sorry, William, that I put that much temptation in your hands,” Thankful said, wiping a tear from her eye. “I only wish you thought of me how I think of you.”
William couldn’t have spent all the money. “Thankful, I’ll come and see you tomorrow. Maybe I’ll think of something.”
“William, it’s all right. I’ll be well taken care of. Don’t trouble yourself,” Thankful replied, with an edge in her voice William had never heard before. “It’s my fault entirely.”
**Featured Image: LEGENDS OF THE WEST
Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, William Weldon and Thankful Crenshaw’s 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.”