Fiction: The Priesthood

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After a big night William considers a change . . .

“So, give us the news, Bill. Was she some socialite back east you left behind with a broken heart?” Haviland asked always edging too close—close enough to see the dried spittle at the corners of his yellow smile and the dandruff in the coarse dark hairs of his eyebrows.

William said nothing for a moment. “No, just a friend of the family—a cousin—from Englewood.”

“Ah, Englewood, it always sounds so green and luxurious when you talk about it,” Haviland said. “You’re lucky for the culturing you got—art and all that truck.”

“Yes, well . . .”

“I thought certain that you must have sparked her sometime, the way she gushed seein’ you,” Haviland said, his glassy eyes always looking for an angle.

William looked up from his drink, momentarily excited by his friend’s interpretation of Thankful’s behavior but remembered what had happened this afternoon. “No, that’s just her way with people. All people. But she’s nice though.”

“That lieutenant seemed impressed with her this morning. He’s trying her on, I’d say,” Haviland said, waiting for reaction.

“She’s leaving soon. But . . . well, she’s had some trouble. Listen, Haviland, I’ve got to go now. I’m awful wrecked.”

Haviland laughed. “You were some wild son-of-a-bitch last night—see you later, then?”

William hesitated. “Jay, what exactly did we get up to last night?”

“The usual, I reckon,” Haviland replied, hoisting himself up on to one of the bar stools.

“Did I seem to have more money or anything?”

“Why? Did you get paid?” Haviland asked like a cat regarding his mouse.

“No, it’s that my cousin, she’s lost a heap of money and thinks . . .” he said more than he wanted to.

Haviland got close. “Listen, Bill, I wasn’t gonna ask how you got all that cash . . . two hundred dollars is a lot.”

“How’d you know it was two hundred?”

Haviland hesitated, but then laughed and shook his finger at William. “Why, you told me last night. You were blind drunk here and talking up a storm.”

“But, Robinson said I didn’t pay him.”

“I couldn’t tell you if you did or didn’t. You don’t remember a thing, do you?” Haviland probed. “I keep tellin’ you to watch out—someone will land you in deep shit one day.”

“I couldn’t have drunk up that much and Madeline was huffed at me for paying her only a few coins.”

“You don’t remember anything? Bill, that ain’t good.” Haviland looked concerned. “You don’t remember racin’ the greaser with your pony?”

“A Mexican?”

“Spect he’s gone now—some rider he was and you bein’ so drunk and all . . . I’d say you lost yer shirt.”

“I remember putting Sophie to bed at the stables.”

“You sent me to go fetch her again.”

William said nothing. He never took a horse after drinking—ever.

“Come, Bill, have a little hair of the dog.”

“No, I’ve got to go see Sophie.” William jammed his hands deep in his pockets. He licked his parched lips. “I have to get control of things, somehow,” he thought. He walked toward the stables, but the Catholic Church, with its open doors and dark, cool interior, called to him. He took a seat along the back wall and leaned his head against the adobe.

Hours later the Spanish accented priest Father Diaz nudged William awake. “Son, I’m closing shop.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to camp out here,” William said, pushing his greased hair off his face and behind his ears.

“Well, you have to leave now.”

William stood and looked around a minute. “Sir—I mean father or reverend or whatever—I was considering the priesthood.”

The priest laughed. “Are you a Catholic?”

“No, but I’m sure I could learn the basics—don’t you want more people to join up?”

“Why suddenly do you think of the priesthood? This is a small settlement, Bill Weldon. I know what you get up to every night. Are you ready to confess your sins and renounce that sort of living?”

“What’s renounce mean?” William asked. “And if you know my faults why do I have to say them? But if you want me to, I guess I could.”

“Do you feel sorry for your behavior?” the priest asked with an indulgent smile.

“Sometimes, I guess, but it’s hard—I think if I’m a priest then—“

“Son, I don’t think you’re ready for the priesthood. It’s not a hiding place from your lustful nature.” The priest snuffed a candle.

“Well then, what’s it for? What else can you priests do but pray and hope for Indian converts and the end of the world? I think I could do that. I don’t seem much good at anything else. Maybe I have a calling for it.”

The priest shook his head at William in his rough clothes. “Bill, the priestly garments would hardly fit you and there’s a lot of study—theology and that sort of thing. You need some real intelligence.”

“Numbers get mixed up in my head is all—are there lots of figures and geometry in knowing God for Catholics?” William asked with an edge.

“I didn’t mean to insult you. Becoming a priest—or just a Catholic, for that matter—is no small thing. That’s all I was getting at. It takes commitment and all I’ve seen you commit to since arriving is that rascal, Jay Haviland, and the girls in the whorehouse.”

“I’m not committed to Jay Haviland! We go on larks together, that’s all and he doesn’t mind my lack of brains.”

“Of course not. It benefits him that you are so—let’s say generous.”

“He watches out for me when I . . .”

“When you drink too much, then he spends your money. He’s no good, son, and it’s the laugh of the town that you don’t see it. Listen, consider giving up the drinking and the women before visiting me again with foolish notions.”

William stalked off for home, remembered Sophie and went to the stables.

PREVIOUS EPISODE

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.”

 

Classic Family Sagas

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“The family saga chronicles the lives and doings of a family or a number of related or interconnected families. The typical novel follows the generations of a family through a period of time to portray particular historical events, changes of social circumstances, or the ebb and flow of fortunes from a multiple of perspectives.” (Goodreads)

LINKS: DEAR BOOK LOVER: CLASSIC FAMILY SAGAS

             TOP 10 EPIC FAMILY SAGAS

              WRITING AN EPIC FAMILY SAGA

 

Fiction: Sobriety Lost

William pushed aside his glass, remembering the first time he took a drink.

When William and a few greenhorn privates, hanging together like newborn pups, had first visited town Haviland sauntered up.

“New to these parts, I see. Are you going to stand on the corner barking at a knot or do something with your freedom?”

William didn’t trust a man with sayings that made no sense—his mother told him not to.

Haviland leered at the pioneers with a mix of pity and scorn. “Look, boys, there’s a lot of bad types out here to take advantage of new recruits and the four of you standin’ here is advertisement enough that you’re wantin’ to be taken. You don’t know me from a wohaw, but my family built up this town and I’m like the hemp committee and the welcoming team all in one.”

One soldier whispered around, “What in heck is a wohaw?”

The others shook their heads at him like they knew.

“And a hemp committee—is there hemp growed out here in the desert?”

William spoke. “No, Baker, it’s the folks who do a lynching.”

“Oh, so there’s one bright spark! Course he’s smart enough not to sell his soul to the government—lying bastards,” Haviland said, and smacked William’s back.

William scratched his head with a small grin, but said, “We should go, boys.”

“You ain’t the boss of us, Bill Weldon. Everyone knows you ain’t clever!” one soldier replied.

“So, young lads, would you like an expert to show you town?” Haviland waved his arm all around him as if they were viewing a grand wonder of the world instead of a single street of false fronts and ne’er- do- wells.

They shrugged and gave each other tentative glances as they followed the shiny-looking Westerner with all the latest gear.

The tour started off with a short history of the settlement, tales about Indian fighting and then a look-see in the general store and the haberdashery. One of the boys plunked down his money for a big cowhand hat. The others laughed. Further along the short, dusty and exciting road Haviland noted, “Fellows, when a good carte-viste won’t do it for you and you want a real fuck, this is the place to go first. It’s a high-class place though and they’ll want cash. Cards are on the ground floor and the women on top (if that’s the way you like it).”

The boys eyed everything with enthusiasm, but William and one of the others, a Methodist preacher’s son, hung back.

“You don’t like women?” Haviland asked.

The preacher’s son replied, “Course I do, but my daddy raised me right and this ain’t nowhere near right. I’m leavin’ back for the post. Bill, you comin’?”

William liked the preacher’s son, but something, a memory, made him stay.

The soldier shuffled off. “Friendship over,” William mumbled.

The other soldiers laughed.

“Can we get a girl in broad daylight?”

“Course. If you have enough for it.”

The soldier took out his pay, minus the money spent on his ostentatious hat and Haviland shook his head. “No, this is high class, I tell you—go down to the bed bug hotel if you want a quick and easy cheap lay—no tellin’ what you’ll end up with.”

The men turned up their noses.

“Hmm . . . now, if you were to maybe win a hand at bluff . . . do you fellows play?” Haviland asked.

“Our captain says we shouldn’t,” the soldier, who had followed up until now in silence, said.

The last soldier with the big hat remained steadfast in his enthusiasm. “Come on, men, we’ll try our beginner’s luck. If I win big, we’ll all get a girl. Anyway, I’m damned good at cards—you’ll see.”

“Now watch your manners—you don’t want to wear your welcome right off,” Haviland warned, dusting off his hat at the door.

Two men inside the thick-aired room heavy with drapery and cheap art turned and stared. William’s gut burned. This parlor—the smell and feel of it—was so familiar and, in some small way, comforting. He couldn’t bring himself to leave though nothing good could come of staying.

The two soldiers took seats at the long, beat-up table. If this was high class what was low?

“You with the gimpy leg, are you playin’ or babysitting?”

“Neither, sir,” William replied.

The man stared at his manners.

“Are you in or not?”

“Not, sir.”

“Then, boy howdy, take yourself to that there settee. Your gangly self is makin’ me jittery. Where’d you drag him in from, Haviland?”

“He was part of the package deal,” Haviland replied.

William knew from the start that his friends would lose everything and they did. His parents had instilled in him a deep distrust of cards. When the soldiers rose from the table, beaten and demoralized, William tried not to appear too self-satisfied, but clutched his money even tighter in his pocket. A long, miserable hallway led from back to front. Light from the back door lit the kitchen and William stopped short. A young lady shot by and ran out back.

Haviland laughed, “What a wretch that one is—ugly as a one-eyed cat.”

“Pardon?” William turned to him.

“I bet you can get that one cheap—she’s from down the road, but wants to step up. There’s not a chance in hell.”

“I don’t want her!” William replied, horrified at the thought, but shaken, too. Something about her. . .

The soldiers snickered and Haviland slapped William’s back. “It’s been a rough time for you cubs—fleeced like sheep. I’ll treat you to some Shepherd’s Delight at The Buckskin—it’s the best whiskey for miles, I tell you.”

“My daddy back home, he makes the best. . .” the cowhand soldier said.

“Yes, yes.” Haviland dismissed the soldier’s small talk.

They followed the westerner, impressed and put-off by him at the same time.

“Bill, are you coming?”

“Sure.” But he had promised his mother. . .

The soldier wearing the tall hat whispered, “Bet he won’t take a drop—afraid of his own shadow—bet he’s scart he’ll tumble over on that crooked leg of his.”

“You ain’t one of them religious crazies, too?” Haviland asked.

“No, sir.” William followed the others into the saloon.

“Whiskey all around, Robinson.”

The bartender shook his head at the greenhorns.

William spoke. “I’ll just have, well, a lemonade, sir.”

Robinson didn’t bat an eye, just poured him a lemony drink and added something unfamiliar. William sipped it. The other’s threw back their whiskey and waited for more. They laughed at William so he finished his with a gulp.

William felt pressured to buy his friends a round. He had only brought his money along so he wouldn’t misplace it. The soldiers stared, bug-eyed, at William’s fund as he brought it from his pocket and laid it on the bar.

Haviland kept a close eye on him. After two drinks William no longer hurried to go and after five drinks the soldiers had to mind him and the money he left unattended. William relaxed and the soldiers liked him.

WEARY OF RUNNING PREVIOUS EPISODE

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.”

Fiction: Lost Time

William Weldon ponders generational curses . . .

William, now at loose ends,  went to see if he’d gotten any mail. He opened a short letter from his father in the old soldier’s pathetic, shaky script.

Dear William,

We are all well here. Mother was very pleased to receive a kind letter from Captain Bourke dated some months ago, but it seems as though you have impressed Captain Markham and the others as we knew you would.

Please tell us when your sketches are published so we can look for them in the magazines. We would like to hear from you more, but we understand about your headaches and all the distractions of the West.

Enclosed is a small bit of money for you, I wish it could be more. Buy a little treat.

Affectionately your father,

John Weldon

His father had great timing—always too late. What was five dollars to him now? William didn’t feel at all guilty about sending his father nothing for Christmas. Being out west reminded him of the Christmas long ago, alone with his father, before his accident.

All of the soldiers had sparkling gold and silver pocket watches, and William wanted one desperately. His father had taken him hunting with the same old carbine he still carried, and they had gotten a big bird. It was probably John’s bullet that caught it, but he lied and insisted it was Willy’s. He hinted that William would get what he wanted for Christmas. Something made William turn spiteful. “All I want is Mother,” he had said.

His father got sicker and the watch never materialized. Later William realized that his father had traded it for opium.

William shoved the letter into his pocket and limped in his old, uneven and tattered shoes from home. His head burned in the sun. He found shelter in The Buckskin Saloon.

“Merry Christmas, Robinson,” William said and sat at the bar, sliding the five dollars towards the bartender. “This is some of what I owe you.”

The bartender gave him a once over. “Well, this is a holiday, if you’re payin.’ But it hardly covers the damage you done last night.”

“Damage?”

“Boyo, you really are soft in the head, ain’t you? I mean to say all the drinks you bought on credit—that’s the damage.”

“Credit?”

“Like always,” Robinson replied. “What will I get you now?”

“Now? Oh, just a ginger beer.”

The man raised his brows. “On the wagon?”

“Gosh, no. My stomach just pains me is all.”

“Gosh? Bill, if you didn’t amuse me, there’d be no fun. So when you sellin’ another picture so’s I can get some more spoondulicks from you? More than just a few dollars, I mean,” the bartender asked while passing him the small glass and nodding at another customer.

“Soon.”

Jay Haviland slapped William on the back. “Here’s just the man I wanted to see today. You were all horns and rattles last night. Is the girl sent back and all, do you know? Thought I saw the very same one with one of them high-falutin’ officers this morning. Boy howdy—it’s hot enough to wither a fence post, ain’t it?”

“Yes, it’s hot.” William finished his drink, remembering the first time he met Haviland.

WEARY OF RUNNING PREVIOUS EPISODE

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.”

Fiction: Maps

Thankful and William travel uncharted territory at Fort Grant.

“You’ve got visitors, Captain Markham.” Lieutenant Fahy waved William and Thankful in.

Markham, an athletically built man with small eyes and wrinkled skin from too much desert, greeted William with a firm handshake and fatherly knock on the side of the head.

“Bill, how are you holding up in that God-forsaken town? We haven’t seen hide nor hair of you in weeks.”

He turned a surprised eye towards Thankful who curtsied.

“Captain Markham, my cousin Bill has been very busy at his drawings and such. I’m terribly pleased to meet you. My name is Thankful.”

She held out her hand again.

“What a pretty little thing you are, miss,” the captain said, holding her hand between his for a moment. “You say you’re Bill’s cousin? That’s very nice to come see the boy.”

“Well, sir, I’ve come to see his drawings, really. They’re quite superb and I’ve always felt he would go far with them if only they fell into the right hands. But he’s so foolishly modest.”

“Bourke told us that Bill had talent, but we’ve never been honored with a viewing,” Lieutenant Fahy said, giving William a disgusted glance. “I for one don’t believe that anything good can come from town.”

“Well, Mr. Fahy, I can prove you wrong and I don’t mind showing it,” Thankful laughed.

William stood in awed silence.

Fahy and Markham gave Thankful their indulgent attention glancing at each other in pleasure as she fished from her bag the pieces of William’s map.

William hadn’t noticed her taking them and the place names were wrong! He wanted to run, but where would he go? Thankful had no right!

Thankful pushed the captain’s things to the side of his desk, turned the lamp higher and spread the gloriously colored drawing like a carpet for the men to see. The men leaned into the intricate and accurate depiction of the territory they had traversed for years.

“Thankful, why did you save that?” William asked. His palms sweat.

Markham and Fahy looked up at William with new eyes.

“It’s magnificent work, isn’t it?” Thankful winked at William.

The men nodded in agreement.

“But. . .” William began, “the place names . . . I never get them right.”

The officers looked again. “Oh, those small settlements come and go. That doesn’t take away from the overall presentation of our little part of the world. It’s damned impressive, Bill,” Markham stated. “Bourke told me your uncle Captain McCullough was a good map maker.”

“Was he?” William asked, missing the uncle he hardly remembered. “He went to West Point.”

“William has so many fine drawings of the military, too—you should see them,” Thankful boasted. “Well, unfortunately they’re torn up.”

“May we keep this, Bill?” the captain asked.

“You want it? Sure, you can have it,” William said, relieved and looking like the boy Thankful so admired at home.

“Cousin Bill, remember that you promised it to Mr. Bourke.”

“Oh, well . . . we’ll just save it for him,” Markham said with a grin. “You beat all, Bill. Now why don’t you come back to us more often?”

Thankful pouted, swaying a little while twirling a curl. “My cousin wants me gone by tomorrow, so may I stay in camp? I’d feel safer with military men than the common sort in town.” She blushed at William. “I didn’t mean Willy–Bill of course. My cousin is a gentleman.”

Fahy raised his brow, but the captain gave him a stern look.

“We can keep you till morning, Miss Crenshaw,” Captain Markham said. “My wife will set a bed for you in our home.”

“That would be just bully, Captain Markham! You’re all so much as I’ve imagined. I knew the army would be full of nobility–not like everyone says back east.”

The men stood a little taller under Thankful’s gaze. William’s stomach turned again. He scratched his head with a sigh.

“So, good luck, cousin,” William said with an awkward grin. He touched his cap, playing at good spirits.

Thankful pecked him on the cheek. “William Weldon, be good,” she whispered.
The dash of alcohol in Thankful’s lemonade this afternoon lingered on her breath. She was beautiful.

“Bye, then, Thankful,” William said. “Good evening, Captain Markham and Mr. Fahy.”
In the cool night he stood for a moment on the porch, which smelled so much like the cigars his father always smoked in the army—the ones from the commissary. Men slept under their porches and a coyote yelped. Tomorrow would be the same as always.

William considered saying a prayer for his father’s tremors, but didn’t. His leg ached in the special boots he wore to hide the limp he’d gotten when he fell from the horse years ago. Captain Markham had purchased them for him. William unhitched his horse, said good-night to the guard and raced under a starry sky back to town.

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE

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.”

Fiction: Taken By An Officer

Thankful meets Lieutenant Fahy.

A lamp flickered low in the window at headquarters. A soldier stood outside smoking.

“Land sakes, the soldiers I’ve seen so far are barely handsome at all,” Thankful whispered.

“What did you expect?”

“I suppose more like how I imagine your father when he was young—like you, sort of—well, when you were home—not now, I mean . . .”

The smoking soldier stepped forward from beneath the porch and the moon lit him.

“Lieutenant Fahy, is Captain Markham in, sir?” William asked.

Fahy stepped closer and bowed to Thankful. Her eyes lit up, and she giggled at the sight of him.

William’s stomach burned. “This is my cousin, Miss Crenshaw, sir.”

“Very pleased to meet you, Miss Crenshaw.”

“And you! You’re from Dublin, aren’t you?” Thankful asked.

The lieutenant grinned. “Why, yes, how did you guess? I’ve tried right hard to lose the sound of Ireland.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t! My father has a doctor friend from Dublin and he’s smart—not a shanty Irish type . . . my goodness I should just stop now, sir—I think your accent is charming.”

“Where have you hid this girl, Weldon?” Fahy asked.

“She’s run away from home and is going back to her father in the morning, sir. She’s very young . . .”

“I am not, Willy!”

Fahy took a drag from his pipe, his head tilted in amusement.

“I’m eighteen!” Thankful said, swishing her skirts slightly.

Fahy gave her the once over. “My sisters and brother and I came to America when we were young like yourself. You’ve got a great country here.”

“Oh, yes, of course it is,” Thankful said. “And how many sisters do you have, Mr. Fahy?”

“Just buckets of them and brothers, too. I’m a twin, in fact, but my brother joined the navy for a lark.”

“By golly, I’m a twin. How very coincidental.”

They laughed.

“Thankful, we need to talk to the captain,” William reminded her.

“Thankful? What an unusual name,” Fahy gushed.

“It sounds nice the way you say it, sir.”

“Come along now, COUSIN, I have to get back, you know,” William said, taking her arm.

Fahy sighed. “Bill Weldon, you should try to enjoy life a little.” He turned to Thankful. “Your cousin is a good fellow, but always so serious.”

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE

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.”

 

 

Fiction: Pretend We’re Cousins

William agrees to take Thankful to Fort Grant

“Call me Bill at the post,” William coached. “Lieutenant Bourke is the only one to hold to my childhood name, and it gives too much a laugh to the others.”

“Maybe it’s not your name they’re laughing at,” Thankful said, poking his side with her thin, gloved finger.

“What are you saying?”

“I just mean that maybe they have their own concerns and aren’t as against you as you think.”

“I know well enough if I’m being played the fool,” William said, but his stomach pained him. He wasn’t sure of anyone’s motives.

At the stables, Thankful laughed at William’s pony. “The Friesians at home could swallow that little thing. Are you sure he’ll hold me too and with the carbine?”

William pat the horse’s rump. “You shouldn’t go making fun of Sophie. She’s a good girl.”

“Sophie? What a name for a horse.”

“I like it. Maybe I had a dog or something named Sophie. You’ll have to ride Indian style. I had to sell her saddle.”

“No one will see that I care about,” Thankful said with a blush as she straddled the horse exposing her striped pink stockings.

William steadied her and pretended not to notice her shapely legs. Thankful was tall like her mother and father and solidly built. The sunlight streaming through the stable window played up her deep blue eyes.

“Thankful, I have to drive her. You’ll have to hang off back if you don’t mind.”

“I can ride quite well, Mr. Bill Weldon!” Thankful said, but slid off to let William on first.

“Maybe so, but you’re your mother’s daughter.” William swung his leg over the horse with a shy smile.

Thankful followed and wrapped her arms around William’s middle. He felt flustered again. But this was crazy. She’d be gone tomorrow.

Although his parents tried to keep him from horses after his accident, William always found a way to ride. He enjoyed this one good thing about himself and liked showing off to Thankful.

They cantered out on the desert path and rode for hours.

“William, have you missed me?” Thankful asked in his ear.

“I . . . I guess I miss the folks at home sometimes—you being one of them—so yes . . . I guess so,” William said.

Thankful stayed quiet until the fort came into view at twilight. “I’m so excited!” she said.

The guard’s ears pricked at the sound of Thankful’s voice.

“Bill Weldon, who do you have there?” the guard asked.

Thankful slid from the horse. “I’m Bill’s cousin from home with no place to sleep tonight—will the army put me up? I’ll pay.” She held out her hand, confident in the effect her looks had on men.

The man sported a big yellow grin. “Bill, you’ve got cousins? How many?” he asked, looking Thankful over. “I don’t know for certain, young lady, but I think the officers could find you something. Your cousin’s got special privileges.” He smacked William’s back. “Nice to see you, young fellow. We’ve missed you.”

The guard led them to the sergeant of the guard who gawked with pleasure at the girl with high cheekbones.

“Miss Crenshaw, Bill will show you in—he knows the way,” the sergeant said and whispered to William, “I guess we owe you now—bringing in such a beaut—she’s not spoken for is she? Has she got sisters?”

“A twin,” William let slip.

The man’s eyes lit. “The officers get this one, I guess, but send for the other and give us non-commissioned men a chance at happiness.”

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE

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.”

 

 

Fiction: Where Are The Gallant Men?

William Weldon is not the man Thankful once knew.

Thankful scooped up the map pieces on the floor. “Such a gift you have and you throw it away on depraved women.”

“Jesus hung around with them.”

Thankful looked up at him with a severe stare. “So now you compare yourself to our Lord? You have changed.” She adjusted her hat with one hand while clutching the map in the other.

The faint odor of perspiration under Thankful’s perfume flustered William.

Thankful stood. “I shall have to go back to the army on my own for assistance. I don’t trust anyone here and you won’t keep me the night.”

“Of course I won’t. The hotel is terrible rough though.” William tapped his fingers against his temple. “I guess it won’t be safe to go now. It’ll be almost candle lighting by the time you get there.”

He tried to ignore the small vermin creeping from under things.

“If you take me right now to the barracks, I’ll make my way home in the morning, and I won’t say a word about your state of affairs,” Thankful said bravely, but William detected a quiver in her voice. “This was a mistake.”

“It does seem ridiculous that you’ve come,” William said. “And I don’t care what folks at home think.”

“It seems MORE ridiculous that you’re corned and living in nothing better than an outhouse!” Thankful replied.

“I’m not drunk!”

“The William I know would do what’s right and bring me to the army where men have manners and are gallant and . . .”

“Enough! I’ll bring you. I hope you don’t mind horseback and it’s a dangerous thing out here.”

“I wasn’t born in the woods to be scared by an owl—when will we leave?”

William grinned. “Thankful Crenshaw, you’re a caution. The doctor must be in a conniption fit over you leaving home. I wish you hadn’t done it to him. Send the doctor a telegram to be fair.”

“I’d like to go soon if you don’t mind. Please stop talking about my father,” Thankful said, the guilt that plagued her on the train returning.

William found an old cap and sniffed it before smoothing his hair with a pungent tonic and tossing it on.

“Are you done with your toilet, Willy? I didn’t know  boys prepared themselves so much for a visit to the post.”

William ignored Thankful and sifted through piles of sketchbooks, clothing and bottles, finding his gun.

“Oh, my, that old thing is yours?” Thankful asked with an amused giggle. “It looks mighty heavy. How do you lug it? Do you know how to use it even? I hope you have no intention of bringing it along. My father told lots of stories about cavalrymen shooting their feet and other things off.”

“Well, those people must have been fools. I’m not so weak that I can’t carry an old carbine!” William said.

“Now I’ll be a nervous Nelly all the way out, worrying I’ll be shot up.”

“It wouldn’t be an accident if I shot you, Thankful,” William joked.

LAST WEEK’S EPISODE: HERE

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.”

 

Fiction:Taking Chances on Lost Men (2)

William Weldon sobers at the prospect of Thankful Crenshaw spending the night after her SURPRISE VISIT

“I’ll just wash my face at least,” Thankful said, moving toward the wash basin in William’s filthy room above the saloon.

“Let me go fetch fresh water.” William grabbed the basin before she could see the contents. He took a while to scrub it clean in the yard near the water barrel. The saloon keeper had pity on him so William brought back a lemonade drink, on credit, for Thankful and found her sifting through the drawings and maps he had hidden.

“Thankful, those are nothing. Please, take this drink.”

She glanced up at William with her big eyes but wasn’t listening. “Willy, when did you get so good at people?”

“Thankful, you’ve come all this way to snoop? Let me have those back. The colors are off. My paints aren’t very good.”

“They’re wonderful. Will you sell them?”

William tried to pry them away from her. “I do sell some to magazines. Now let me have them.”

“So why were they crumpled behind a table? Aren’t you afraid of ruining them? And look at this lovely map—what’s it for?”

“Oh, that was just something Captain Bourke wanted from me, but it’s too late now.”

“You mean the officer who invited you here asked for something and you didn’t deliver it?” Thankful shook her head and clicked her tongue at him with deep concern. “What will that say about you?”

“Hey, I don’t give a damn what it says about me! And what business is it of yours? Are you sure my parents didn’t send you?”

“No one sends me anywhere, Mr. William Weldon. I’m surprised at you. Drinking in the morning and leaving promises undone. That’s not the Willy I know.”

“First off, it’s almost 12 o’clock and a man can drink when he wants to.”

“A man finishes his work first.”

“I have finished my work! It’s not a regular thing . . .”

“Maybe it would be if you gave in your assignments on time.”

William scratched his head again, trying to hold his temper. “You’re not my teacher! That stupid map took me weeks and it was never right—and I thought—I should check the place names again and well, it just didn’t get done. The army has its own cartographers, anyhow.”

“You’re all rough around the edges now, William, but I know you’re just afraid Mr. Bourke won’t like it much. I’ll take it to him.”

William pulled it from Thankful with force this time. “Bourke isn’t here at the moment, and he’s less than happy with me over some foolish things.”

“Oh, so you were thrown from the army like your poor father?”

“My father wasn’t thrown from the army—though he should have been. I was NEVER in the army, you remember. Only for a visit. No one wanted to know me so . . . say, what are you smiling about?”

“You paint yourself as a right and true martyr. It tickles me.”

William glared at her. “How long have you been here? It feels like years and I’ve got— “

“A headache, I know. I know you better than you think, Willy,” Thankful laughed in adorable smugness.

“It’s Bill, I told you,” William said admiring her.

Thankful shook her head and went back to perusing the drawings and came upon a landscape. It was the prairie after a storm in late summer.

“I did that on the way out—for my father.”

“Why didn’t you send it? I don’t know much about real art, but it’s lovely and melancholy all the same.”

“So you think of it as real art?” William asked.

“Why, of course! Not like those awful paintings of bowls of peaches Mama buys up. Sometimes I feel I’ve grown up in a rotten fruit market.”

William nodded with a grin, remembering how his father used to make fun of the still life paintings at the Crenshaw home, but then his father knew nothing of art.

“Willy, your father would love this, I bet.”

“No, it’s too sad, and he likes to be happy all the time now,” William said, mocking his father’s tone.

“Is that a bad thing?” Thankful continued to admire the drawings until she found the nude prostitutes in acrobatic positions.

“William Weldon, so this is why you move to town? To frolic with filthy whores? I am so ashamed of you! What would everyone at home say? You’ve turned so bad. And why would you let me see these horrible drawings?”

“I didn’t! You took them. You Crenshaws try to run other people’s lives. I thought I had escaped that. How did you find me anyway?”

“Your father, he told me when I asked.

“He knew you were coming?”

“No, of course not, you scalawag. I told him I’d write you now and again so you wouldn’t be lonely.”

“I’m not lonely. I have friends enough,” William replied rubbing his scruffy chin.

“You just told me that no one liked you—unless you consider low women with their legs spread . . .”

“Thankful, don’t talk like that!”

She laughed. “I’ve had brothers to educate me. I’ve seen a woman’s body—I have one, you know.”

William pulled the papers away from her and tore them apart. “I don’t want to hear this. This whole day has me on nerve’s end.”

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

PART TWENTY ONE HERE

***Featured image from Pinterest.com

FICTION: Words Said In Confidence

Christmas on Fifth Avenue by Alice Barber Stephens
Christmas on Fifth Avenue by Alice Barber Stephens

After learning that Fred has taken his girl, Buck Crenshaw advises his sister Thankful against marriage.

Buck and Thankful could hear their parents bickering below them in the parlor.

“I wish they would just divorce!” Thankful complained.

“Marriage is foolish,” Buck said, feeling even more hopeless. “I won’t consider it again.”

“You say that now, but one day . . .” Thankful began.

“It’s impossible,” Buck insisted, closing the subject. “And what about you, sis? Anyone in town who strikes your fancy?”

Thankful played with her curls and rolled her eyes. “No, no one who’s in town.”

“So someone who’s gone out of town then?” Buck laughed. “Someone I know?”

“Yes, but he hasn’t noticed me and he’s in the West.”

“Not William?”

“I know you don’t like him, but. . .” Thankful began.

“He’s a moron!” Buck moaned. “No, Willy won’t do.”

“William is not a moron. He knows about art and other things too– if only you got to know him you’d see. And he’s so kind to his parents—the way he helps his father—it’s so—chivalrous. And he helped me out of a puddle and took it so seriously,” Thankful said as if she might swoon.

“So you want someone who can splash around in puddles with his morphine-addicted father? Very high standards you have, sis. And how would Willy earn his keep? It’s so like him to become an artist of all things. Maybe Father could bankroll the bastard,” Buck said, getting to his feet.

“Stop it, Buck,” Thankful replied, holding out her hand for Buck to help her up. “Why are you so jealous?”

“I’m not. It’s only I don’t understand why women and even Father are so impressed with a morose, coddled little cripple.”

“I suppose we should all be impressed with a thin, violet-eyed cadet who gets in heaps of trouble,” Thankful teased. “Was it his fault that he fell from a horse? I might go and visit William sometime.”

Buck laughed. “Good luck getting permission for that. You’re such a dreamer.”

“Why shouldn’t I go?” Thankful asked, hands on hips. “You boys go wherever and all I do is watch babies. I wish Father and Mama would stop it. I don’t see how they still do it with all that fighting.”

“They’re idiots.”

Thankful laughed. “Land sakes, you have a kind word for everyone this Christmas.”

“Well, I like you, Thankful.”

“Thanks, Buckie, I’m honored.”

Buck took her by the chin. “You don’t want to go west. If a man wants you, let him come.”

“Maybe William has already met a nice girl.”

“In the West? I doubt it. But maybe he doesn’t want a nice girl.” Buck meant to insult William, but saw it hurt Thankful. “Stay home till I graduate and we’ll take a bully trip together.”

Thankful embraced Buck with her eyes on the door. She had her own plans.

 

***FOR MORE ALICE BARBER STEPHENS: AMERICAN GALLERY

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

PART TWENTY ONE HERE