William had three drawings published in an obscure magazine back east and even one sketch put into the Army Navy Journal. He sent that one to his father. As long as he avoided Thankful, Lieutenant Fahy and thoughts of home, his days were bearable. The Apaches rampaged as the garrison troops polished their guns, awaiting orders. None of it mattered to William. He’d burnt that bridge.
Slipping out of his room he made his way towards the edge of town for horizontal refreshment. In funds again, however briefly, William whistled a tune.
Ginny always waited on the rickety, bone-dry porch for him. Sun-bleached as the wood planks, she had the prettiest blonde hair William had ever seen. Today another form sat beside her. He strode up, not bothering to tip his hat. The strange lady glared at him. This woman was cutting into his time. William stood waiting, hands shoved in pockets. Ginny looked caught.
“Say, Billy; this is Miss Peckham from Philadelphy.”
Ginny played with a long strand of hair that had fallen from her bun. “Yes, Miss Peckham is studyin’ the West and all us—ain’t that so, Miss Peckham?”
“Please, Virginia, you must call me Gertrude—we’re all equals, you know,” Miss Peckham instructed.
“Please, Miss Peckham, I mean Gertrude, I ain’t never been called Virginia. It’s always Ginny, please.”
“You must embrace your rightful name; lord knows how men try to define us otherwise.” Miss Peckham glared at William for a second, but worked a small charming dimple into a condescending smile.
“But, scuse me, Miss Peck—Gert—it’s my dead mother that named me Ginny so I’d like to keep it just the same,” Ginny said, her pock-marked face turning purple in consternation.
“Ginny, what’s the time?” William asked, jangling the coins in his pocket.
“Why, I have the time, sir,” Miss Peckham said. She stood and reached into the pocket of her mannish bloomers.
William gave Ginny an appalled look.
Miss Peckham opened her man’s watch and snapped it shut again. “Mister, you’re too late. Ginny will no longer be used by men like you.”
“Oh, and what will you do, Ginny, go east for a job in the White House?” William joked.
The women didn’t laugh.
“Ginny, what’s this all about?” William asked.
“It’s about women bein’ made all captured by men and such,” Ginny said. “I don’t mind you, Billy, but . . .”
Miss Peckham pushed her arm through Ginny’s supportively. “Ginny, when I asked, did you not say that this man was your worst customer?” she quizzed like an attorney.
“Well, no and then yes. He owes me, but . . . it’s different.” Ginny blushed.
“Didn’t you say he treated you like any other whore?”
“Say! There’s no need to call her that!” William said, expecting approval for his defense of Ginny.
“But it’s fine to ride her and use memory loss as an excuse for non-payment?” Miss Peckham asked.
“I pay when my money comes through—you know that, Gin,” William explained, pulling his hat low over his eyes.
Miss Peckham surveyed him, her free hand resting on her hip. “This world is run on men’s terms. That’s why things are such a mess.”
William laughed. “I doubt you and Ginny could do any better . . .”
“Women have run societies—Indian and aboriginal and . . .” Miss Peckham said as she fingered her fashionable bangs.
“And where are they now if they were so superior?” William asked.
“White men and their brutal ways destroyed all that was good and . . .”
“So these female societies never properly defended their people . . . hmm,” William responded, turning to Ginny. “Want to get in out of the sun?”
But Miss Peckham continued. “What men don’t understand they destroy or ignore!”
“I understand you perfectly. I just disagree. In a perfect world there would be no need for Ginny—I mean her profession . . .” William replied, taking Ginny’s hand even as Miss Peckham grabbed her at the opposite elbow.
“I’d like ta get married one day,” Ginny confessed, looking up at William with adoring eyes.
“Marriage is a death sentence for women!” Miss Peckham said. “They lose their names and their personalities, and I for one shall never marry. I have a greater love for all of humanity. Romantic love is a trap, made up to yoke women into slavery.”
“A trap, maybe, but one that women happily get caught in,” William said.
“Well, if they understood; I feel sorry for most women . . .” Miss Peckham stated. “Is dying in childbirth a good thing, sir?”
“Is dying in war, miss?” William asked. “You should take your men’s clothes and crazy notions back where you came from.”
“Why on earth would I take a suggestion from a man so lacking in manners?”
“This is how I speak to all men—we’re equals, right?” William said, pulling Ginny, but Ginny stood still.
“I ain’t too sure I agree with Miss Peckham about nothin’ cept gettin’ paid. Sorry Billy.”
William jangled his coins again more emphatically, but a stubborn look came upon Ginny’s usually compliant face.
PREVIOUS EPISODE: WEARY OF RUNNING
Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, his sister Thankful and William Weldon’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.”
5 responses to “Fiction: Love and Marriage”
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William has so much going for him but he trips himself up with one mess up after another, and he never sees his own failures. A carousel toppled off track. Very well written, Adrienne.
BTW, I can’t read the art attribution – it’s beautiful.
John Singer Sargent–I’m pretty sure. Thanks for reading! Yes, William is a mess. I’ve been around so many people in life who can’t get out of their own way–I almost feel it’s normal. 🙂
It’s human – we are all flawed, most especially those who are convinced they are not.
I’m glad I know I’m a disaster 🙂