Fiction: Thankful Crenshaw Misses a Step

“William, I’m so ashamed of myself—truly—you must forgive me. I’m just so annoyed over Miss Peckham.”

“Why? Because you need to be the center of the universe at all times? Come to your senses,” William said as he pulled a bottle of whiskey from under the tablecloth and filled a large glass to the rim. “You’re a pretty girl, but not the prettiest or smartest or anything. And no, I don’t have to forgive you—and I don’t. Look, the dance is over; better be off to your fiancé before you’re upstaged by Miss Peckham.”

“I hate you, William.”

“It’s Bill,” he muttered, gulped back his drink and poured another.

Miss Peckham raced up, yanked the bottle from his hand and said, “Mr. Weldon, I need you for a dance.”

“I don’t dance.”

Miss Peckham grabbed his hands. “Come on! I know you’d like to. I can see it in your eyes!”

“That’s the drink, I’m afraid,” William joked.

“Don’t be afraid, Mr. Weldon. . . .”

“I’m not!”

“Mr. Weldon, aside from Lieutenant Fahy and me, there’s no talented dancers. It’s just following steps.”

William laughed. Miss Peckham pulled him out, even as he protested, to a circle of dancers with a spot reserved for them by Lieutenant Fahy. The officer had a smug look on his face. William knew he had been set up—yet again—for humiliation. Thankful saw what Fahy was up to and stood stiff and angry with both men. Mrs. Markham and the aged quartermaster sergeant made the third pair and two other second lieutenants rounded out the circle.

“Mr. Weldon, by gosh, take a breath—I’ll get you through this with flying colors!” Miss Peckham whispered.

William nodded staring at his feet, and the music began.

“Three steps forward and back—and again, Mr. Weldon,” Miss Peckham coached.

William concentrated on his teacher. He found that he could follow and not too awkwardly. Turning the opposite partner went all right, but the small sashay got sticky.

Miss Peckham dragged him along as if she were made for the job. When the final twirl of the opposite partner came up, William found himself left hanging in the center, but it was Fahy and Thankful who had missed a step and Thankful belatedly trotted out. “Sorry, my mistake,” she said icily to William.

“So, Mr. Weldon, you seemed to enjoy yourself,” Miss Peckham said as they drank punch between dances.

He laughed. “Thanks.”

“No need to thank me, sir. You could have done it all by yourself.”

“But I wouldn’t have,” William said.

Miss Peckham shook her head. “Well, that’s a sad state of affairs–to wait for others before doing for yourself.”

William took a long drink and said nothing.

The hops lasted until the last dancers went to bed and tonight Miss Peckham and William were amongst the group that kept the musicians awake. Thankful went home early with a headache. Fahy grew tired of watching Bill Weldon make a fool of himself. When Miss Peckham stopped at the front gate of the Markham quarters to say good night to William, Thankful hid by the window to listen. “Call me Gertie, Bill; all of my best chums do,” Miss Peckham whispered.

Thankful’s blood boiled, but she got into bed. Mrs. Markham had put down cool cotton bedding and a nice feather pillow on a cot next to Thankful’s bed, but Thankful pulled an itchy wool blanket out and spread it over the cot after hiding the cotton under her pillow and tucking the feather pillow beneath her bed. She listened as Miss Peckham entered the dark room with a sigh and got into bed. “I hope you’re comfortable, Miss Peckham.”

“Oh, Miss Crenshaw, you’re awake. Thank you for asking. Truth is I could sleep on broken glass and it wouldn’t bother me. I’m so bone tired.”


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.”





11 responses to “Fiction: Thankful Crenshaw Misses a Step”

  1. Vodka? hmmm… that struck me as strange, so I just searched the Library of Congress digital newspapers website and the only references I could find to “native brandy” of Russia and Poland at this time were travellers’ tales from Russia and Poland.
    By the way I was accused of being a pedant because I pointed out that Francis Spufford’s greatly over-praised Golden Hill which revels in purported historical accuracy talks of a lucifer match in the 1790s when it was not invented until the 1820s.

    Whoops I did it again..


    • That’s okay. People like you keep us on our toes. 🙂

      Since the United States is a place of immigrants it’s not impossible that rare things couldn’t have been smuggled or brought in though maybe not on a grand scale, but I take your point. Whiskey or “Soldier’s Delight” may have been more in William’s price range–though alcoholics are sometimes known to splurge and regret it. 😉

      “One of the earliest mentions of it in the New York Times dates back to 1871 (a profile of a Russian prince written by a Times correspondent in St. Petersburg), and Russia’s legendary vodka maker Pyotr Smirnov sent his bottles to both the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where it won medals.”


  2. I wonder whether Spufford will be as gracious, or yet write the gross historic goof about Lucifer matches out of Golden Hill in between cashing yet another literary prize check for what some might style a wholly inaccurate fantasyland portrayal of Colonial New York?
    A place of immigrants? Maybe poteen or absinthe? Maybe in the paperback edition…


    • Haha–Polish vodka was at least known in Western Europe (according to the venerable internet) in the 17-18th centuries, so I suppose a Pole or Brit could have given William a bottle–but thank you for pointing out something I never would have thought of since I associate vodka with all the alcoholics I’ve known. Haha.

      I just couldn’t make William drink poteen. I just couldn’t. 😉

      The great thing about self-publishing is that you can fix things like this so easily. Your comments are much appreciated.

      Historical fiction will always be a little bit fantastical, don’t you think? But I haven’t read Spufford.


      • It has cleaned up in book awards and is proclaimed as great writing, backed by superlative historical research. Actually it is set in the 1740s not 1790s as I mistyped before. Here is the Lucifer reference below and by the by it’s a long sentence that would have pleased another, given his propensity for such phraseology and, of course, the ability of his readers to read such sentences in the candle-lit hours, for none other than Charles Dickens would have enjoyed this ramble through the byways of bad writing and would, if confused and jumbled clauses float, have sought to raise the Titanic had it been prepared to do the right thing like Lucifer and to sink before he died, using nothing save those very clauses’ shared desire to remove the full point from the English language to raise it (Thank-you).

        “As he tried to penetrate it, the stamping feet fell without malice on his shoes, and he would have reeled back had the rank behind not repelled him just as effectually, so he must stay bruised and upright, as tight packed as a lucifer match amidst a bundle.”

        One forgivable Swallow doesn’t deter a Book Award shortlister to call this book a summer. However it is just littered with similar anachronisms, but first a whoopsie of another kind.

        Novelist’s schoolboy error
        Do not write about hearing the unhearable through a closed door.

        “After an instant’s silence, there came through the door the sound of furious swearing, of clothes being frantically pulled on”

        I’ll allow him to hear the swearing – or at least indecipherable raised voices. But what-the, who-the? What is the protagonist, a bat? A superhero? How noisy can a shirt and a pair of kecks be, FFS?

        And now to divert you from the vodka… pictures of goats


    • I don’t think they are very introspective at this point. 🙂 Their affectations are flawed survival mechanisms though I think they’re blind to them. This will bring them quite a bit of grief. Buck is the only one who tends to think a little more deeply but that comes with its own hazards.

      Just wait till Buck comes to visit his sister!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Poor Willy is such a damaged soul. My heart aches for him. If he stopped drinking, he might find something worthy about himself to develop. But where’s the story in that?


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