Fiction: Provoking Talk

“Be on alert now, boys,” cautioned the teamster. “This is where the bandits cut my friend down not two weeks ago.”

“Be on alert,” Buck remembered. “Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong.”  He took a deep breath. He must try to have faith. The huge, dark sky terrified him. If there was no God then what did he have? He couldn’t go back to his old life. Maybe everything was just luck and happenstance or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe everything came down to behavior, or it didn’t.

Buck’s life felt different since accepting Jesus—but how could he be sure it wasn’t just wishful thinking? Maybe the stories were fake. Maybe there were no real men named Paul, John, or Peter … but Paul—how could he write so passionately, so compellingly about a fake savior? And all of those centuries after, filled with lives changed and artwork created and, yes, the very hope and peace that came to Buck, a nobody, traveling in the gloomy Arizona desert. Without God, he’d fall into despair. All else seemed shallow and worthless compared to the promises he was just now reading about and beginning to understand. Forgetting himself, he whispered, “I am so thankful, God, that you made them all write it down.”

“What are you saying, Buck?” Fred asked.

“Do you believe in God at all?”

“What? Well, sure, I guess. Whatever you say,” Fred said, the whites of his eyes narrowing as if to prevent an annoying light from entering.

“The things we did together in the past … we’re forgiven.”

“Great. Now what’s the name of the infamous watering hole in town?”

“The Buckskin. We should go back and spend time with the family,” Buck suggested.

“Are you joking? I rode all the way out here with them fools. I need a damned break and a good lay.”

“Oh, Fred, come on. You said I’d be home early.”

“My God, it’s like you’re an old lady. Listen, I do want to hear about your God thing. I admit I don’t understand it. I don’t mean to be aggressive with you, but it’s been a long journey and the last few months of school were very hard on me, having to get everyone sorted out so you could have a chance at success in life. One night out will make all the difference. I need to make some changes too, and maybe, just maybe you’re the one to help.” Fred took a sip of whiskey. “It just occurred to me that this whole conversion thing … well it could be that God is working through you to get to me!”

“I don’t think so.” Buck grit his teeth. What if the one and only purpose for Buck’s conversion was to influence Fred? God was his sanctuary. Buck worried that Fred, if converted, would be a better Christian than he was.

“Buck, are you all right?”

“I’m just thinking.”

“Oh, hell, you do too much of that. Let life play out a little on its own. You’d be surprised at how much fun it can be.”

The teamster laughed. “Yer brother’s right there. Life only gets worse as you get old like me. I got three marriages to awful jezebels behind me—very unaccepting women, schemers in their thinkin’—so I came west and I had me some very nice times.”

“See, Buck, listen to the old saw.”

The man snapped his reins. “Yep. Well, I can’t get it up no more.”

Buck glanced at Fred with a smug smile.

george elbert burr“Yep, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was dead tomorra. I piss blood. Have done for a while now. Old age ain’t no picnic, so live it up while you can.”

“How old are you?” Buck asked.

“Thirty-eight.”

Buck took a deep breath. “Have you accepted Jesus into your heart?”

Fred punched Buck’s arm hard.

The man chuckled. “‘Course. Many times, but it ain’t done nothin’ fer me. I’m fine on my own.”

Buck cleared his throat. “Well, you need to make peace if you’re going to die.”

“Look, kid, I don’t know if I’m dyin.’ I was just makin’ talk. I ain’t wantin’ any preachin’.”

“It’s just that God will forgive your adulterous ways if you believe!” Buck said.

Fred punched him again.

Buck shoved him back, explaining, “But in Ezekiel it says if I don’t speak out to the wicked they’ll die for their sin, and I’ll be held accountable for their blood.”

“I don’t have to take this no more. Get out of my wagon! The both of you!” the teamster cursed them.

“But, sir!” Fred begged.

“No, get out with your ugly friend,” the teamster ranted. “You promised me no trouble!”

“Jesus isn’t trouble at all,” Buck said, but Fred dragged him from the wagon.

The teamster dashed off toward town, leaving the two in the dark.

“God damn it, Buck. You’re plumb loco! Now we’re in the goddamned middle of nowhere!”

“You shouldn’t keep using God’s name in vain …” Buck said.

“What? You’re crazy!” Fred went to slap Buck’s face, but Buck blocked him and took hold of his arm.

“I will never allow you to touch me again,” Buck said.

“Oh, what will you do about it?” Fred asked pulling his arm from Buck with a confident sneer.

“I’ll stop being your brother. I don’t need you anymore. I don’t need you!” Buck followed the moonlit trail to town. It was too late to turn back. A friend at the stables might let Buck sleep there.

Fred trotted beside him. “Come on, don’t be so hard. Of course we’ll always be brothers. And I guess you did us a favor. The teamster didn’t take his fare so there’s more money for us.”

Buck marched on.

PREVIOUS EPISODE

THE TENAFLY ROAD SERIES

“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her book down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

Fiction: A Race and a Rescue

William wasn’t used to such high-quality drink, and it affected him strangely. He pulled out his Bowie knife—passed down from his Uncle Simon’s old things—and started for the mountains where a band of Apache camped.

“Bill, what are you playing at?” Fahy asked.

“Apache tizwin. I heard it’s good drink. I’m gonna try it.”

“How? No, I can’t let you go up to the Indians in the middle of the night.” Fahy wanted no trouble with the peacefuls on his watch. “Weldon, how about a race—you versus Buck here. Winner gets bragging rights at home and what’s left of the spirits.”

Buck vomited, but was shoved along by the drunken men around him to take the challenge. They led him and William to the horses, and Fahy had the two fleetest ones saddled. The moon lit the flat grounds for a quarter of a mile. Someone ran to alert the sentries. Spectators wondered as the race began how the two would stay afloat as they mounted the horses drunkenly. The rushing air woke them both to the spirit of competition and they flew over the land. One was no better than the other, but at the specified end point William raced on to the Indian drink in the hills.

Only Buck was close enough to get William and turn him, but he had not been given orders to do so and he sat on an army horse. He slowed just long enough to hear Fahy yelling for him to follow William and pushed his horse forward.

William slipped out of sight, hidden by the dark and rugged terrain. Buck, getting sick every so often and lost, tried to follow what seemed to be a trail, but hoped his horse knew better. Something stirred to Buck’s left and barreled towards him on the narrow path. Buck clutched the small gun he had with one hand and the reins of his excited horse with the other. William’s riderless horse dashed past them back toward home. Buck pushed forward.

A small firelight and William’s familiar silhouette, drinking tizwin with a few of the older Apache friendlies around a bed of embers, appeared in a clearing just ahead. They aimed their weapons at Buck, who said, “Friend. I’m a friend.”

William staggered to his feet long enough to make signs that Buck was no trouble. He tried to grab Buck’s gun, but Buck wasn’t having it. “Willy, we have to get out of here.”

“No, try some of this …” William passed the tizwin, but Buck’s body revolted at the taste of it and he vomited again.

The Indians laughed.

“Let’s go—now!” Buck said.

“You go,” William replied, shoving him. “No one asked you to come.”

Buck waved his gun.

“Buck, put that away! Are you crazy?”

“William, we have to go!”

William lunged forward trying for Buck’s gun again and they wrestled. A shot rang out. The old men joined the fray, trying to break up the two boys, and into the confusion galloped Fahy and a few of his men. Upon seeing the cadet held around the neck by an Apache, Fahy took aim at the Indian, grazing him but angering the others, who took up their weapons in the murky light of early dawn.

Fahy and his men struggled and cursed at the tight spot they were in on this narrow trail.  They slipped off their animals and used them as breastworks, aiming into the ruckus. Stray bullets and arrows whizzed into the air amidst the shouting and stumbling.

Buck jumped on his horse after losing his gun in the scuffle and became an instant target. William stood like a wilting statue of wax. Now other Indians from the camp took positions behind the rocks and shot.

“Get out of the bloody way, cadet!” Fahy shouted, but Buck refused to leave his spot until he got William.

His voice was no use, so he pulled off his boot and threw it at William, getting his attention, and then pushed through the mess and took William by the hair on his head, helping him climb aboard.

Fahy shouted, “Leave the bastard who got us into this!” But he let the two get by him and down the path a short way.

Buck’s scarf at the neck shone in the breaking dawn. William felt a jolt and Buck’s body went limp, but William steadied him and took the reins. The Scotch and tizwin were still at work on William, and he soon passed out and slipped from the horse with Buck in his arms.

As the sun peeked through the tall pines on the hilltops, the Indians disappeared into the woods. The younger ones edged their way in to carry home their drunken elders as Fahy watched in disgust.

 

PREVIOUS EPISODE

BUY THE SERIES TODAY!

“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her book down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

 

Fiction: Burnt

“Stay with me, cadet,” Fahy replied. “We’ll have some devilment tonight.”

But Buck had come west for a break from devilment.

The day glistened like a golden carpet to the west and Buck felt the nip of sunburn and weariness as the soldiers tended a massive fire with choice cuts of rare buffalo brought in by Indian traders to the north and a wild turkey shot on the hills. Buck had imagined something more in the desert than sunken-faced soldiers and debased Indians in their cast off military clothes. No one else minded the quick chill replacing the day’s heat.

“Why don’t you take off your scarf—it’s pretentious and off putting, to be honest, young fellow,” Fahy suggested as he poured Buck more scotch to drink.

Buck untied the cravat, exposing the vicious-looking, half-healed scar.

“Jaysus!” Fahy moaned. “What the hell—oh, cover it up again, please! Not before a meal!”

Buck followed orders.

“What’s the story, cadet?” Fahy asked.

“There’s no story but that it won’t heal,” Buck said, sipping his scotch.

A few favored non-commissioned officers helped with the barbecue and shared the drink. Out of the shadows came the missionaries and William.

“Party over!” joked Fahy.

“Will I pour you all a drink?” Buck offered in an intoxicated whisper. “It’s from my father’s collection. He’ll never know it’s gone.”

The missionaries as a group declined.

“Cadet, you’ve forgotten good old Bill,” Fahy said. “You’ll have a drink, won’t you, Bill? It’s a celebration after all. Certainly you can take one drink. You’re no fun without one and maybe Papa Kenyon will let you off the hook for one night.”

Buck looked on innocently.

Kenyon said, “Lieutenant Fahy, I see what you’re up to and I don’t like it. We’ve come as a gesture of good will. Now leave Mr. Weldon alone.”

Fahy laughed, poking the fire. “Bill, do you have ANY mind of your own or have you been completely brainwashed by this sour old man?”

“I’m not under anyone’s thumb and I’ll speak for myself,” William said with false bravado, glancing at Buck. “One glass is hardly anything and I’ve done a lot of good work for you, Mr. Kenyon. I’m entitled to a small bit of enjoyment, sir, just this once.”

“It’s like you’re an indentured servant, Bill. I’ve never seen the likes of it,” Fahy said.

“William, I have your best interests at heart,” Kenyon said.

“You want to control me!” William replied, handing a mug to Buck, who hesitated but then poured him a large helping from the fancy bottle.

“You asked for my help, William,” Kenyon reminded him.

“Yes, and thank you, but I don’t need your help anymore. I have things under control—I promise you.”

“William, you’re an adult. Do as you wish,” Kenyon said, but the other missionaries grumbled.

The soldiers laughed and shared another round. William gulped the scotch. He stood away from Kenyon, but not quite with the military men, who now under the influence, drew Buck in as their own.

“So . . . Buck, you’re on furlough . . . how come you’re not with your friends?” William asked—just wanting to be included.

Buck’s face fell. He had no friends and leave it to William to remind him. “Hey, Willy, spell lieutenant.”

“What?” William’s face soured.

“That’s right, why don’t you spell it for us?” Buck said.

“Oh, Bill isn’t all that bright upstairs,” Fahy said, pointing to his temple.

“My brother and I played tricks on Willy, didn’t we?” Buck said to William. “We convinced him to be in a spelling contest, taught him the words wrong. He got up there on his gimpy leg—he always had these headaches—we taught him every word wrong and he trusted us—ha-ha.”

The soldiers laughed. Buck was getting sick with just a few drinks in him.

William took the open bottle near the fire and filled his cup again. Kenyon called him, but William ignored it.

“What else, cadet? Any other stories?” Fahy asked.

“Oh yes, many. There was the time we stole his father’s cane—he’s a cripple from the war. It was at church and Lieutenant Weldon—well, he’s proud and he’d have stumbled, so he waited till everyone was out of church and then him and Willy took the side door. We hid in the bushes breaking our hearts laughing at them as they searched for their carriage, clinging to each other only to find their horse moved around front where they’d have to be seen. I remember watching Mr. Weldon trip–and Willy’s face,” Buck didn’t laugh with the others. “My father beat us with that stick till it broke. It was the only time he hit us. Well, we got Mr. Weldon a new, gorgeous stick—a Grand Army of the Republic one—out of our savings—my father forced us.”

“No, my mother gave my father that for Christmas!” William said.

“Willy, your mother couldn’t afford shit and your father wouldn’t have taken it from us.”

Fahy wanted fun, not memories. “How about we eat?”

“It was a damned mean thing to do to you, Willy,” Buck said, his words slurring and his head beginning to spin.

William took another drink. Kenyon came up behind him. “Son, you’d better eat something.”

“Get away from me, you bastard! You’re not my mother!” William said, shoving Kenyon.

Fahy rushed up. “Kenyon, this is my fault. Don’t let Weldon ruin your night. He’ll be the same old self in the morning.”

“Yes, I’m afraid he will. The meat’s burnt to a crisp,” Kenyon replied.

PREVIOUS EPISODE

BUY THE SERIES TODAY!

“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her book down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

Fiction: East Meets West

Lieutenant Fahy cursed to himself. While he baked in the sun weighing sugar at San Carlos, the rest of his battalion prepared for the field against Geronimo. The assignment of handing out weekly rations to the Apache women was a great slap in the face. Fahy considered leaving the army if he didn’t have excitement soon. He read Thankful’s note testily:

Dearest Lieutenant,

My prayers about your safety have been answered with the news that you won’t join the others in the field. I am waiting to tell you something and want you here desperately. But do stay on at the reservation until your unit is out. I don’t understand why the men are so excited. They mustn’t care at all for us women who worry ourselves to death! I know that you will want for me to wish Lieutenant Barnhart all the best luck as he was picked to take your place. He is terrible down spirited about it. Some say he is a coward, but he seems just an overly sensitive fellow.

I have sent someone out to see you. I hope that you will like him as he is dear to me.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

Affectionate regards,

Thankful Crenshaw

Across the way and under a fly tent shaded by branches sat William sketching the Apache women as they squabbled over the weight of this or that. When the military took over handling the annuities, the weights had been fixed fairly, but the Indians, wary of being cheated in the past, kept a close eye. More often than not now it was the Indian women coming in with gathered hay for the army mounts who fixed their bundles with rocks hidden in the middle. The women didn’t trust the new unhappy officer.

Fahy fumed seeing William recording this less than heroic duty as if to purposely annoy him. And there was one of Kenyon’s missionaries handing an old and befuddled Apache a Bible tract in English. It would be almost laughable if it wasn’t so damned stupid. The missionaries had a way of getting involved in everything. They were energetic—he’d give them that.

Fahy figured the old shriveled heathen would use the paper covered with indecipherable words for kindling. And wasn’t it the government who spent money and men on these foolish American evangelists when the funds could be better spent on paying army personnel proper salaries or at least supplying them with more desert-friendly uniforms?

“No stone in bag? No stone in BAG?”

“Pardon?” Fahy asked the young woman before him. “Oh, no, it’s a perfectly fair measure . . .”

The willowy squaw with high cheekbones didn’t understand a word. Fahy admired her, sighing as he surveyed the crowd of women enjoying this waste of a day and wondered how he’d get through it, but luck shined upon him and the visitor Thankful had promised arrived.

Lieutenant Joyce called to Fahy. “Bully for us. A visitor bearing gifts.”

A young man dressed in a partial West Point uniform and a bandage around his head trailed Joyce.

The lieutenant stepped away from the scales to the annoyance of the women.

“Fahy, here’s someone you need to meet,” Joyce said with a grin. “Can you guess who it is? I did on the first go.”

Fahy fumed. While his men were out chasing Apaches, he was expected to entertain boys from the East? Fahy looked the cadet over for signs of the usual West Point arrogance he despised. The cadet on holiday had no mirth–just weird eyes and a pretentious cravat around his neck. “Should I know him?” Fahy asked Joyce, giving the intense young man a challenging stare.

“You are to marry my sister, sir,” Buck whispered.

“What? Why are you whispering?” Fahy demanded.

“Fahy, Thankful’s brother. . .” Joyce said.

“Oh, shit, you’re one of the twins from the Point! I should have seen it a mile away although you look nothing like I imagined.”

“Yes, well I guess you’ve heard of my troubles,” Buck said, touching his head.

Fahy rubbed his chin. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Fahy! You must be joking,” Joyce interfered. “He’s all Thankful ever talks about—worrying after him.”

“Oh, yes, that’s right. Something about a colored cadet roughing you up.”

“No.” Buck replied.

“No need to whisper, cadet. Men respect a strong voice,” Fahy said, slapping Buck’s back too hard.

Joyce cringed. “Seems the young man’s voice is damaged, lieutenant.”

“Oh, he’s sent here to recuperate then. Good. That’s nice for Thankful. She’s wanting company and I expect to be out in the field soon. She’s been a fair bit homesick of late.” Fahy caught Buck’s unfriendly look. “What’s the matter? Has something happened with Thankful?”

PREVIOUS EPISODE

BUY THE SERIES TODAY!

“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her book down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

Fiction: A Lonely Journey

William stood near the Markham quarters, hoping again to catch a glimpse of Thankful.

He lit a cigar and took a small sip from his flask. William bathed in nostalgia as the sun came up and the air filled with the sweet sounds of reveille, morning call and stable duty. Screaming children raced out with barking dogs into their yards to watch their fathers on the parade grounds as the flag flapped in the wind in front of headquarters. . There Thankful was with the little girl marching beside her, off to the commissary store.

“Thankful!” William called half limping, half running. The little girl waved. “Hello, Lydia,” he said with a warm grin. The girl grabbed his hand and hung off of it. It challenged William’s balance, and he laughed.

“Lydia, stop it now. Mr. Weldon will fall,” Thankful said, but when she saw that William enjoyed himself, she said no more.

Mrs. Markham called Lydia back to her at the front door and waved to William. He waved back before turning to Thankful. “I’m sorry that Fahy won’t be staying with you. I don’t think he should come along.”

“Of course you’re sorry, Willy. You hate the lieutenant and care only about yourself,” Thankful said.

“You’re right. I don’t like him, but you do, for some reason and . . . and I want you to be happy and well taken care of.”

Thankful played with her apron strings. “I never should have followed you out here—I had big ideas.”

“Go home then, Thankful. There, in your condition and all, you’ll be taken care of properly.”

“My condition?” Thankful’s eyes were big and full of unspoken shame and fear. “What do you accuse me of?”

“Thankful, why didn’t you wait, for pity’s sake?” William said, taking her hand.

“You’re a fine one to talk!” Thankful whispered pulling her hand away. “Why didn’t you wait?”

“What would I have to wait for?” William asked.

“For the right girl.”

“There’s no such thing.” William took a miserable puff of his cigar.

“William, you’re infuriating! Mr. Fahy will soon be my husband and . . .”

“And you should have waited till your wedding night! That’s how I imagined it . . . I mean. . .” William stammered as Fahy walked up.

Thankful crossed her arms and turned away from the lieutenant, her chin set in anger. William counseled her, remembering how hard it was for his mother to watch his father go into the field. “Thankful, don’t let him go without making up.”

“Don’t lecture me, William,” Thankful replied.

“Bill, I don’t need your assistance with my fiancée,” Fahy stated. “That Kenyon is looking for you—self-righteous bastard—hope he’s paying you well. We can fleece those Indians at cards, I hear.”

“Mr. Fahy, you won’t gamble and take advantage of those poor souls!” Thankful said.

“No, of course not, sweetie,” Fahy said with a wink. “I was only joking.” He turned to William. “I guess you’ll fill up on tizwin if you can—though Crook has ordered the tribe to stop making it.”

“Mr. Kenyon is against alcohol—I promised . . .” William started, but Fahy interrupted with a chuckle.

“This I have to see!” Fahy said. “Kenyon won’t have much power over you or the Indians. He’s a kill-joy anyway. I intend to skip off and visit pals of mine who say there’s a vein of coal for the taking at the edge of the reservation.”

“Pierce!”

“Oh, Thankful, it’s just a lark. The Indians don’t need the coal anyhow. I’ll be back in a week’s time probably. Not enough hours to get into any real trouble.” He twisted his mustache and kissed Thankful before pulling a letter from his jacket. “I’ll miss you, my dearest.”

“Good-bye Thankful,” William said his boots kicking up sand as he left them. “Take care.”

Fahy groaned as he watched William go. “Land sakes, what luck to be sent to distinguish myself with such a bunch of misfits!” he complained.

“Lieutenant, you worry me,” Thankful pouted. “I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to you.”

“This is a peach of an assignment. Don’t worry,” Fahy said, running his big hand over her cheek. “You seem under the weather. Mrs. Markham is working you too hard. I’ll speak with her when I come back.”

“Yes, maybe.” Thankful turned the love letter in her hands. “Won’t you watch over William?”

“Damn it, Thankful. Are you mine or Bill’s? Because I’m not too sure.”

“Pierce Fahy, what could Willy want with me—or me with him?”

“Thankful, that’s not a proper answer.”

“Do you like Miss Peckham?” Thankful asked.

“No—not like you think . . . I . . .” he said, tightening his belt.

“How do you think I think?” Thankful asked.

Fahy laughed. “My sweet lady, you’re trying to catch me out and it won’t happen. I’m devoted to you. Are you to me?” he asked, pulling on one of Thankful’s stray curls.

“I do love you, Mr. Fahy,” she said.

“Won’t you give us a kiss before I go? Don’t be huffed at me—I’m a soldier; this is what I do.”

“My father was always away from us and he regrets it now,” Thankful said.

“I’m not your father and we have no children yet.” Fahy pulled her close. “Oh, Thankful, one day we’ll settle down, but not yet. Won’t you wait?”

“I suppose I must, now.”

“Now?” Fahy’s smile disappeared. “You act as though you’re suddenly not happy here.”

Thankful began to cry.

“Oh, my little pet, don’t cry,” Fahy said and wiped her face. “When I come back we’ll go to a nice dance—like always. Be a good lass. I hate to see you cry! I promise to buy you something fine in Tucson. We’ll make a pleasure trip when I get some leave.”

“How is it you can always be so generous on a lieutenant’s pay? Surely you must deprive yourself. Please don’t.” Thankful sniffled.

“A girl as pretty and nice as you should have fine things. Poverty doesn’t suit you—and reflects poorly on me, I might add. A man shouldn’t marry unless he can afford it,” Fahy explained.

“Can you afford it? I mean—the jewelry and this stunning ring and the other things—well, I feel like a princess, but . . .”

“I want to give you as much as you’re used to,” Fahy said, in a disgruntled tone.

Thankful blushed. The little jewels he gave her were trifling compared to what she had at home. “Mr. Fahy, when you give me your time and attention that’s more than I’m used to and I love it, but I want to feel I am not just an—ornament.” She blushed all the more, realizing how vain it sounded.

Fahy laughed, patting her face. “You’re not just an ornament! You are–you will be my wife and the gorgeous mother of my children someday.”

“And that’s it?”

“What’s wrong with that?” Fahy asked. “You’re never satisfied no matter what I do and now we’re bickering on our last morning together and right before the biggest opportunity of my career so far.”

“You treat Miss Peckham as a friend. . .” Thankful said.

“Yes. She’s like a man in a way. Peckham has lots of stimulating ideas—but she’s not you.”

“So you don’t think I’m stimulating?”

Fahy put his arm around Thankful’s waist. “You are quite stimulating. Why are you making trouble now?”

Thankful gazed up into Fahy’s dark eyes. A wave of loneliness came over her. “Lieutenant, it’s like you don’t know me at all. I want to be friends and go on adventures together.”

“Oh, you and your bloody adventures! I’m under constant pressure to entertain you. Grow up, Thankful. Maybe you can learn something from Miss Peckham. She’s a toad compared to you, but she isn’t constantly demanding something from me!”

“I demand nothing! I had hoped you enjoyed my company. I only wanted to be true friends!” Thankful sobbed and tried to run off, but Fahy grabbed her arm.

“Thankful, please, let’s not do this, sweetheart. I adore you. I didn’t mean to hurt you—it’s just—you are so sensitive lately—so different.”

“Mr. Fahy, I wanted to tell you . . .”

Miss Peckham burst in between them and locked her arms in theirs. “Greetings, lovebirds!”

***FEATURED IMAGE:  Julia Margaret Cameron photo of Mrs. Herbert George Fisher  (Paul Cava Gallery)

PREVIOUS EPISODE

SALE THIS WEEK!! BUY THE SERIES TODAY!

“Rich and colorful page turners. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her book down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”

 

Fiction: Sunday Morning

Waking up at Fort Grant reminds William of his father’s morphine addiction and disgrace.

The familiar call of reveille got William’s attention as always. The fife and drum reminded him of his sister Eliza and the quiet lovemaking of his parents when they thought William was asleep so long ago. His gut burned and his side ached from laying on the hard earth as he eased himself up off the blankets on the floor with a big headache.

073Fahy groaned an oath beneath a ragged old pillow and shifted his weight on the army bed. William stood up using the wall for balance. Had he lost his shoes again? No, there they were, neatly tucked beneath a solid camp chair—not the sort his family ever owned. William sat and pulled on his wretched smelling boots, hoping that it had not been Fahy who’d pulled them off for him.

Contrived clutter made the place homey. Pictures of family and friends covered a shelf on the wall and a whatnot in the corner, which looked handmade but well-crafted. A likeness of Fahy posed with a man very much like him sat next to his bed. William turned to see if Fahy was still asleep before picking up the photograph. It would have been nice to have a brother, anyone to talk to. And how did they get to be so confident and happy?

William put the image back in its spot and sat again, staring at the Indian artifacts covering one wall. He wanted to touch them but didn’t, remembering how angry he had been at his sister for destroying his collection only a short while before she died. William longed to go home and sit with his mother. She’d always helped him, and William regretted not thanking her.

Fahy burst to his feet. “Damn it, Weldon, why didn’t you wake me? I’ll be late now for stable!”

“I didn’t think . . .”

Fahy waved William off as he jumped into his boots and pulled on his white stable jacket. He griped about early mornings, poured a glass of whiskey, sugar and bitters, threw it back and ran out the door. In a second Fahy returned. “You’ll be gone before I’m back, I assume? Or are you staying for services?”

“Services?”

“Think, Weldon. It’s Sunday. So will you stay?”

“No . . . I guess not . . . I . . .”

“Miss Crenshaw might prefer not to see you,” Fahy said, this time waiting for some movement from his guest with arms crossed.

“Just give me a second to collect my thoughts,” William said. “It’s too bright out there for me this minute.”

“It’ll be sunny all day, I’d wager. Listen, I’ve got to go, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t touch anything,” Fahy began, but a trace of sympathy passed over the soldier’s face. “I’m sorry, Bill, that was uncalled for, I know.” He glanced at his clock on the shelf. “Damn, I’m really late,” he grumbled and left.

William let his mind wander while sitting in the well-worn camp chair as the band played on parade. When he opened his eyes an hour later Fahy had come and gone again. His bed was made and his dress uniform was missing from its spot. Sunday inspection. William knew he should leave, but the room soothed him. He coughed, sighed and stretched. Grabbing his carbine William pushed into the bright world of the desert.

Because of the dance last night, there were more people than usual at the small post and everyone wore their best gear. William kept his head down and hoped for a quiet exit, but the sight of two companies of infantry and the one of cavalry converging on the parade ground stopped him. He still admired dress parade—it always made Sundays special—and then so humiliating when his father failed at them.

William considered making a sketch for his father to remind him of what proper soldiers looked like, but he didn’t have his sketchbook. In fact he hadn’t picked up a pencil at all in the last month.

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.”

Save

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.”

 

Novel Inspiration (1):The Addict

CHARACTER: Morphine addict Lieutenant John Weldon

INSPIRATION: Katherine McCullough needed a husband in the military. I was listening to a lot of Americana music and crushing on a young Robbie Robertson from The Band while collecting Civil War era prosthetic limbs and morphine kits. Having just recovered from a life threatening blood clot and feeling  wistful about the painkillers I was given in the hospital, I suddenly understood the draw of self-medicating.

A heroin addict friend told me a story about having to kill a bunch of puppies as a child living on a reservation.

JOHN WELDON WAS BORN:

“Doctor Dudley, you in?”

A sudden panic in the pit of Dudley’s stomach caused him to hesitate before opening the door to let Weldon in. They stood together uncomfortably in the center of the room.

Weldon scanned the room, searching for a place to rest his eyes. “Dudley…I have a problem, a concern really…”

“Yes?”

Weldon rolled up his sleeve.

“Lieutenant Weldon, what happened here?”

“Well, it’s a burn, I think…” Weldon said.

“You THINK it’s a burn? You would know if it was. You would remember it, I’m sure. This is no burn.”

“Well,” Weldon stuttered, “I d-don’t know…”

“Lieutenant Weldon, this is badly inflamed. What have you been doing to yourself?”

Weldon scratched the sore skin behind his ear.

“Weldon, are you listening?” Dudley asked, thinking of Katherine and how she would feel if her husband died of blood poisoning.

“Yes, I’m listening…it’s not a burn. No, it’s not a burn at all…I’ve never told anyone…I don’t know why I’m telling you…”

Dudley looked Weldon in the eye. “Lieutenant Weldon, how long have you been doing this to yourself?”

“On and off…I hoped you might know a cure…I trust you won’t tell my wife…my career, my family….” Weldon drifted a moment, but came back. “I want to stop…I tried…”

“Well, good luck,” Dudley said dismissively trying to collect his thoughts while sifting aimlessly through stray papers.

“What? Is that all you have to say?” Weldon asked, the hopelessness in his voice reminding Dudley of his vocational duties.

Dudley reluctantly looked at the sore again and roughly let go of the arm. “There’s been missing stores of morphine. I assume you’ve been stealing them.”

“NO! I haven’t… a laundress gets…I haven’t taken anything from you, Dudley!”

“For Mrs. Weldon’s sake, I won’t seek charges against you. I can’t believe you fooled me. I even felt some sympathy for you when you left.”

“I’ve come to you for help. I’d never steal from you,” Weldon said in a surprisingly indignant tone. “I figured you might have experience with other veterans.”

Dudley sighed. “Weldon, I can put a little carbolic acid on your arm. It might help prevent further inflammation.” When his voice shook Dudley wondered at his inability to stay neutral and professional. “I’m so disappointed for you…for Katherine…there’s no cure for what you have. I’ve heard of people like you who’ve freed themselves from it, but I’ve never met them. Most just got sent home to be taken care of by their families.” Dudley was cold in relating the facts. He had been taught how at school. “This is your life, lieutenant. Get used to it. Most don’t live long—their teeth go bad, they lose their hair…and you’re already using it through a syringe and probably not diluting it that much…am I right?”

Weldon shook all over. He searched the doctor for some little hope or sympathy even, but didn’t expect it.

“Weldon, your wife should be prepared. Mrs. Weldon should be told so she can plan for the future. Soon enough you’ll be too much a mess to care for yourself. You both should leave here before that happens.”

“I—I can’t leave the army! What would I do? There’s NO cure at all then?”

“No, lieutenant.” Dudley looked for his carbolic acid, sprayed it onto the swollen, sore skin and wrapped a bandage around it. “I’ve never seen someone stop the habit once they use the needles.”

“I’ve tried to tell Katherine.”

“Well, trying and doing are two different things, lieutenant. Listen, you wouldn’t want to embarrass your wife. Mrs. Weldon isn’t looking well. I see she’ll have another child, and you’re no help to her anymore. Katherine should be with someone stronger,” Dudley said, regretting his spitefulness.

Weldon nodded. He pulled his sleeve down and walked out into the bright twilight.

ENTER THE GOODREADS GIVEAWAY! (The winner gets the much prettier new cover)

tenafly10

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The House on Tenafly Road by Adrienne  Morris

The House on Tenafly Road

by Adrienne Morris

Giveaway ends December 06, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway