Fiction: Letting the Cat out of the Bag

 

William, Lieutenant Fahy and the missionaries head for the San Carlos Indian Reservation but are surprised by a cat.

“Hey there, Bill. Are you holding up all right?” Fahy asked every so often as he trotted by on his sturdy mount.

William had long since stopped answering. Determined not to fall out before the skeptical missionaries in the heat, William needed every bit of strength and concentration. Out of the army and into this pointless endeavor. What had he been thinking? Kenyon on the move was hardly friendly—all business and chat with the sneering religious men William already hated.

As much as his body ached, William dreaded stopping as the sun rose overhead. What would he do for small talk? What if his sketches didn’t please Kenyon? Finally the old yet surprisingly fit missionaries called a halt for noon dinner.

“So Bill, how’s the leg?” Fahy asked again after tying his horse to the rickety old army ambulance carrying supplies.

“My leg is FINE!” William said. “It’s my head that aches listening to you!”

“Suffering the after effects of the bottle you traded for at the sutler’s this morning?” Fahy asked, patting the rump of his horse.

The missionaries turned to Kenyon who waved off their concerns. “Mr. Weldon knows our agreement and will stick to it.”

The men eyed William suspiciously.

“Oh, will you lighten up, Bill,” Fahy moaned. “I’ve got a surprise for you all.” He went to the back of one of the wagons and helped Miss Peckham climb out.

She grinned. “Boys, you shouldn’t stare—it’s rude.”

“Why, Miss Peckham! And in men’s duds! Kenyon, did you know about this too?” asked a missionary.

“No! I’d never have a girl along!”

“Dear Mr. Kenyon, I’m a full-grown woman!”

“A mature lady would not put in jeopardy the work of men!” Kenyon said. “Fahy, why on earth have you done this?”

“Oh, what’s the bloody harm in it? Miss Peckham wants to study Indians and we’re going the same way. What sort of gentleman would I be if I let her set out on her own?”

“I won’t be a speck of a nuisance, I promise,” Miss Peckham said, pulling a cowhand hat over her eyes. “I have my own gun and can take care of myself.”

“Then why on earth come with us?” Kenyon asked.

“Connections, of course. If I come with military and missions men—not to mention a friend of Captain Bourke’s—who would dare deny me at San Carlos?”

“Well now, everyone, don’t be such humbugs,” Fahy said. “I’ll take her back with me once you’ve settled in. After all, the Indians might enjoy someone like Miss Peckham—she may be of use to us.”

“Does Thankful know?” William asked.

“No, and why should she?” Fahy replied. “She’s the type to squeal—I was saving her from any discomfort . . .”

“Yes, I think she’d be uncomfortable,” William said.

“Weldon, mind your own damned business—go get drunk or something.”

“Men, stop bickering. I’ve a headache already,” Miss Peckham said. “And Bill, not to worry. I’m along for business, not pleasure. As handsome as the lieutenant is I have no interest in him in that way.”

“Well, I guess we can all rest easy and have something to eat,” said Kenyon, throwing the tin plates and utensils on an old army blanket.

The missionaries passed around canned meat and said grace with heads bowed as Peckham and Fahy exchanged amused glances.

William’s blood boiled. “What’s so damned funny?” he asked.

Kenyon and his missionaries glared at the three young people.

“Oh, Bill, give us a rest. My apologies, Kenyon, but I’m not one for grace— I’monly here as escort,” Fahy said.

“Mr. Weldon, dear, it’s sweet to see you so changed and defending your employer, but it’s childish to create a scene. Have you been sneaking spirits?” Miss Peckham asked.

“No. But you shouldn’t look down on everyone.”

“Bill, you’re such a simple man. It warms my heart. For your sake I will try to do better,” Fahy said.

William stood too quickly and almost fell over the picnic blanket. Peckham and Fahy tittered as he walked off.

“What people laugh at a cripple?” Kenyon asked, climbing to his feet. “I’ve lost my appetite.”

“People in these parts are so thin-skinned! I suppose it was cruel to laugh, but I couldn’t help it. Nerves maybe it was—and the heat. My brain is fried,” Miss Peckham complained.

“Now, don’t go losing that mind of yours. It’s your most attractive feature,” Fahy said. “And Bill deserves any embarrassment he gets. I’ve never met such a hopeless case as him—revolting!”

“I agree—and do you really find my intelligence attractive, sir?” Miss Peckham asked, with a wink.

The missionaries ate lunch, feigning disinterest.

“Hmm. Of course I do,” Fahy said backing away a little.

“So many men are intimidated by my ideas.”

“Well, Americans are so puritanical—not like us Europeans,” Fahy said.

“You’re Irish.” Miss Peckham poked him with her finger.

“You’re sharp as nails, miss,” Fahy laughed. “Anyway, I pride myself on being open-minded.”

“I’m glad not all men are afraid to accept women as equals.”

Fahy drank long from his mug. “We should get moving.”

“Oh dear, so soon? Riding in the ambulance is dreadfully oppressive.” She ran her hand over Fahy’s. “Is there any way I could convince you to allow me to ride just a little while on your fine horse?”

Fahy slipped his hand out from under hers, gathered his things and got to his feet. “Now, that’s out of the question, I’m afraid. No one rides Iollan but me.”

Miss Peckham followed after him. “Won’t you give me a ride yourself? Sir?”

Fahy laughed. “Miss Peckham . . .”

“You may call me Gertie.” She grinned and once more ran her fingers over his hand. “How can I convince you? I really want a ride awfully much and you’re so good at it. Only let me feel it once—to sit with you.”

Fahy took her hand. “Miss . . . Gertie . . . I’m engaged to Thankful . . . I . . .”

“Of course. But no one has to know.” Her one free hand felt under his army blouse.

“So you don’t mean the horse then . . . do you?”

Miss Peckham laughed. “I imagined you were clever! I’ve seen how you look at me.”

He blushed. “No, I really haven’t . . . I . . .”

Miss Peckham kissed him before he could finish.

“Jeasus, you sure are different.” He pulled away flustered and rubbing his forehead. “I didn’t think you were much interested in men and marriage.”

“I’m not interested in marriage—but I enjoy the way a man’s body works as much as the next girl.”

“Thankful doesn’t seem to,” Fahy blurted out, regretting it at once.

“I’d rather not know about. . .”

“Oh, oh, yes, of course . . . how silly of me.” Fahy glanced around.

“We could be very discrete,” Miss Peckham whispered.

“Miss Peckham, I don’t know what to say. It’s not that the offer doesn’t interest me—greatly—but I’m in love with Thankful and . . .”

“I didn’t realize you were such a foolish romantic. But I could show you what women enjoy.” She dragged him behind the wagon.

“Fahy! Lieutenant Fahy! We should be off,” Kenyon called.

“Shit. Listen miss. I’m sorry  . . .” He kissed Peckham’s forehead and dashed around the ambulance to the men waiting.

“Where is she?” Kenyon asked.

“Suppose she’s waiting in the ambulance,” Fahy said, red-faced and ill-humored. “Kenyon, I’m sorry to have let her come. It was foolish of me.”

“Mr. Fahy, I’m sure you thought you were doing what’s best. The girl’s a helpless wreck.”

“How so?”

Kenyon laughed. “I can smell bullshit a mile away and Miss Peckham is full of it.”

“You just don’t like her,” Fahy said, adjusting his horse’s stirrups.

“A woman all on her own,” Kenyon replied. “She can’t be trusted.”

“What about Thankful?”

“Please tell me you see a difference. Your Thankful knows her place. She would never do anything improper.”

***Featured image: The Kiss, Edvard Munch

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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)

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Fiction: A Secret Meeting

 

“Thankful’s been very melancholy lately—homesick, I bet,” Mrs. Markham thought out loud after Thankful excused herself.

William glared at Lieutenant Fahy, who sipped his drink and ran his fingers over a fine crystal vase on the whatnot in the corner.

“I don’t think it helps much that dear Lieutenant Fahy is so eager to leave Thankful behind,” Miss Peckham commented in mock concern. “Women need to learn how to be more independent.”

“Thankful has always known that in my line of work . . .” Fahy began.

“Oh, young man, you don’t understand the fairer sex at all,” Mrs. Markham noted.

“Well, of course I want experience in the field. With all the troubles on now, I fear they’ll be over and still I’ll be on quartermaster duty,” Fahy explained, and the men understood him.

The night ended quietly. William was puffed up over his successful drawing, and the missionaries were excited for the new chapter of their journey. Fahy took leave early to pack his things and to write one of the flowery letters his fiancée loved to receive.

William couldn’t sleep. He wanted to join in with the enlisted men who drank behind the corral and so took a stroll in the shadows near the Markham house, hoping the memory of the day or a glimpse of Thankful might distract him. Instead Miss Peckham. grabbed William’s arm and made him follow her behind the lean-to off the adjacent officer’s quarters.

“Bill, won’t you help me?”

“How?”

“I think my bones are as dry as sand living here. It’s sickly sweet on the surface, but I see through it all! The women are idiotic and the men are perfect martinets. If I don’t get out in the field soon, I’ll die!”

“Then go . . .” William said.

“No, I want to come with you to San Carlos,” Miss Peckham said, tugging William’s shirt. “I bet I can do a wonderful story for the journals back east.”

“Well, I’m not in charge so . . .”

“I think you could convince that Kenyon.”

“No, Miss Peckham. I need to look out for myself.”

“You must realize I’ll be sorry to see you go,” Miss Peckham whispered.

“What?” William laughed.

“I was really angry the other day, but you’re so talented and, well, maybe we could work together on a project.” Miss Peckham leaned in to kiss him.

William pulled back. “Miss Peckham, you must believe I’m as thick as Fahy tells you! You don’t give a damn about me—you said so yourself when I had nothing you needed. I’d never want you either,” William said taking a step away from her.

“Bill Weldon, you may as well know that the apple of your eye—dear sweet little Thankful Crenshaw–is in the family way.”

William turned back so fast he nearly fell. “That’s none of your concern! And why say it with such glee?”

“She always plays so innocent—it sickens me!” Miss Peckham said. “Some Christian she is!”

“You hate Thankful because she has something you lack—a heart,” William replied.

“Oh, that’s such a sentimental notion—stop before I swoon,” Miss Peckham said. “Thankful is foolish and has no control. I’ve been so tempted to let Mrs. Markham in on the little secret—that woman hasn’t a brain in her head—and she’s responsible for a whole pile of children!”

“You had better not tell anyone!” William warned her, shaking her by the arm.

“Please, Bill, don’t play the chivalrous hero. It’s almost too comical. Let go of me now. Sleep on my idea. I want to come along.”

“Mr. Kenyon doesn’t like you. I don’t see how I can sway him,” William said.

The screen door on the Markhams’ porch slammed. “Miss Peckham, are you out there in the yard? I hope you’re not smoking again,” Mrs. Markham called in her motherly voice.

“Oh damn, will she ever leave me be?” Miss Peckham asked and walked off, leaving William to himself.

***Featured Image: Portrait of Alice Regnault by Giovanni Boldini

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Fiction: Strong Medicine

Miss Peckham’s mistake was sympathizing with a drunk.

Someone pinched William’s arm. He shielded his eyes from the light of day as Miss Peckham stared down at him.

“Mr. Weldon, I sent you to get my things YESTERDAY. I expected you back YESTERDAY.”

William looked up with scorn. “Why should I care what you expect? You’re not my master.”

“I smell your master on your breath,” Miss Peckham said. “Now where are my things?”

William inched up, scratching his sweaty chest through his damp checked shirt. “In the corner—over there.”

Miss Peckham folded her arms. “Don’t fool with me, Mr. Weldon.”

William saw that the corner was empty. “Damn, I think I left it at The Buckskin.”

“You really are a moron like they say.”

William couldn’t deny it. He grabbed his boots, slipped them on and led her into The Buckskin. “We’re looking for a carpetbag I may have left here.”

The bartender handed it over to him. William considered ordering a drink, but thought better of it.

Miss Peckham took the bag and once outside inspected it. “Everything is wet!” She pulled out the journal of her travels and shoved it under William’s nose. “My work is destroyed! How could you, Bill?” she cried.

“I-I didn’t spill anything!”

“Of course not! Oh, I’m cursed! No matter how many times it happens, I’m still taken in by drunkards and bummers! You’re both. Lieutenant Fahy said as much. But you seemed so harmless!” She burst into tears.

Miss Peckham slumped onto the bench usually occupied by two Mexican alcoholics. “I was orphaned because of the drink. My father and mother both and no matter how I try I still land sitting outside a tavern with my life in tatters. All of my work ruined!” she cried again.

William sat beside her, half expecting to be hit. “I know how you feel, Miss Peckham. Honestly, I do.”

“I don’t want your sympathy. I don’t need it, and I’d rather you left me alone, now that you’ve ruined my life,” she replied and pulled a hankie from her sleeve.

William was tempted to point out that anyone with half a brain would never leave things in the hands of whores and drunks, but didn’t. “No, Miss Peckham—I mean, my father is worse than a drunk—he’s an opium eater and if he hadn’t quit the army he would have been drummed out. I hate him, but then . . . look at me.”

Miss Peckham wiped her tears and glanced at him. She laughed. “By golly, if we aren’t the most pathetic pair.”

William took a deep breath. “I used to think God wanted me for something.”

“God doesn’t exist. Science has won the day, I’m afraid. We’re just tiny parts of a long march to perfection.” She laughed again. “You said yourself that weak ones like us will die out for the good of the species.”

“The species? You are unusual, Miss Peckham, but I’m not able to completely give up on at least the idea of God.”

“Well, maybe with an education you would be,” Miss Peckham said, fanning a wet journal page. “Look, what has God done for you?”

“God expects decent behavior,” William said. “I’m just a rotten drunk. I’ll never forgive my parents. I’m not good enough for . . .”

Miss Peckham closed her wet book. “Who says you’re not good enough? You are what you think you are. That’s what my uncle always said. Listen, I’m sorry for you, but I want to be a great writer, not someone who allows self-pity keep her down. I’ll copy as many of my notes as I can into a new journal—so don’t feel bad. Your mistakes won’t finish me.”

“Well, can we remain friends then?” William asked.

“I can’t—no–I won’t be around your type anymore.” Miss Peckham stood and walked off without even a glance back.

William sat for hours, staring out at the awful little settlement with its wilted cottonwoods and dusty, filthy paths. People moved in slow motion. This was home. He had no parents, no friends, not one person to turn to. He had no work, no money and no inspiration as to how he might get some. He starved but could get no nourishment. Not a single person acknowledged him as all day he sat in the blistering sun until it fell with only the smallest relief. As a child William sat upon his father’s knee following the hummingbirds darting to and fro at sunrise in the desert. How William had admired his father then. Adored him even.

A man came and sat beside him. William held his breath in annoyance and considered rising but had no place to go.

The man spoke. “I’ve been watching you all day.”

William glared at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a statement of fact,” the man responded.

William waited for further explanation, but none came and so they both sat watching men unload flour sacks at the general store.

“This is an interesting little town,” said the man.

William chuckled. “Yes, it’s all very interesting.”

“You’ve been out here for hours—since the girl left you.”

“Hey, are you some kind of spy?”

“No, I was reading beneath the tree over there and fell asleep. When I woke up you were still sitting here.”

William shrugged.

“What’s your trade, son?” the man asked.

William took a good look at the heavy, bearded man and figured he was harmless. “I have no trade to speak of anymore.”

“Why are you here?”

“I ask myself that very same question. My father sent me for an adventure—to learn something, I guess.”

“Well, that’s nice,” the man said, stretching his legs before him as if he might stay a while.

“Not really. I’ve bungled it all. My parents and friends are ashamed of me—as well they should be.”

“That’s too bad.”

William rolled his eyes. “Yes, it is too bad.”

The man wiped his shiny forehead with a faded bandana. “Listen, I’m not one for hot climates. I’m going to get out of the sun. Would you care to join me? For a meal. I’ve no company as my associates went in search of artifacts, and I hate to eat alone.”

“I don’t know what you’re on about, or what you want from me, but I may as well tell you I’m broke—there’s nothing you can take from me.”

“I’m a little out of my element here in the desert and everyone is a bit intimidating. I just thought you looked trustworthy.”

William cussed under his breath. This man had lost his wits.

The man stood up. “Maybe you could point me in the right direction for a decent place to eat.”

“The only place in town is Matilda’s. It’s over there and it’s Mexican.”

“So have you decided you’ll come?”

William shielded his eyes from the last bit of sun. “I don’t even know you. Why would I eat with you?” he asked, his stomach grumbling.

“There’s not much to know. I’m a missionary. My name is Seth Kenyon, and I was told by Captain Bourke that there was a talented mapmaker and artist living here in town. Maybe you know him—a William Weldon?”

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Fiction: Whores Have Dreams Too

William hitched a ride to Willcox on the back of a supply wagon, singing all the way:

 

“It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing;

It was once in the saddle I used to go gay.

First to the dram house and then to the card house,

Got shot in the breast and I’m dying today.”

 

Why had he always fought so hard against dancing? Plain Miss Peckham enlivened a part of William he thought he’d lost. He jumped from the wagon just beyond the outskirts of the sleepy desert town and walked the rest of the way to the hotel and Ginny. William whistled past The Buckskin, not needing a drink to celebrate, and the usual loungers saw that a change had come over him.

A mule brayed in the rode as William walked up the stairs to the brothel and knocked at Ginny’s door.

“Morning, Gin—how’s things?” he asked, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek as he glanced around for Miss Peckham’s belongings. “I’ve come to fetch Miss Peckham’s luggage. What’s wrong?” he asked when Ginny turned away.

“Nothing, Billy. How was yer night? You look refreshed.”

“It was nothing like that, Ginny. Miss Peckham isn’t that way. . .” he replied suddenly uncomfortable. “Ginny, what happened to your arm?”

Ginny pulled her shawl over a makeshift sling. “I fell down the stairs last night.”

William laughed. “Oh, poor Ginny. You should be more careful. Does it hurt much? Would you like me to get you a strong drink?”

“No, I ain’t got any use for strong drinks—you know that,” Ginny answered with an uncharacteristic edge in her voice.

“Yes, you’re right. I should know better. Anyway, I need Miss Peckham’s things. Ginny, it’s been fun and all to spend some time, but . . . I don’t think I’ll be coming here much anymore. I mean, you can still count on me as sort of a friend.”

“Thanks, Bill,” Ginny replied. “But, you ain’t the type to count on—I hoped you might be.”

“When have I ever done you wrong?” William asked, avoiding the hurt on Ginny’s face. He scanned the room for something expensive looking that might be Miss Peckham’s.

“Bill, that Miss Peckham is no good.”

“Oh, Ginny, what do you know?”

“You think cause I ain’t educated that I’m stupid?” she asked.

William scratched his head. “No, I didn’t say—“

“Bill Weldon, you’re impressed with smarts cause you ain’t got none like you used to.” Ginny threw Miss Peckham’s carpetbag at William’s feet. “Look how this woman already has you picking up her scraps like a dog. I never would go and do that to you, Bill. I thought you’d see by now, it’s us that’s meant for each other. I like you as you come. I take care of you, and I thought you might take me as a wife.”

William wanted a drink and knew where Ginny kept it for customers. He took a long slug from one of the bottles and remembered a talk his father had had with him before coming out west. “Now you’ll be all on your own, and the fellows you’ll meet will tell you it’s all right, but if you take a woman . . . s-s-sleep with her . . . it’ll be awful hard to get rid of her. A part of her will linger . . . and bring you down.”

William took another long draw from the bottle.

“Give me the bottle, Bill, and talk to me. No one will understand you like me. I don’t mind if you drink and carry on; I ain’t concerned if people say you’re as dumb as a plank o’ wood. You never hurt me even once when you was drunk. We could get some land. I could work it—I’ve got strength. And you could make those drawings—do the dirty ones and I bet the miners would buy them.”

William stood appalled at the image presented. “Ginny, I can’t hardly care for myself. I don’t want a farm or babies!”

“What about me? Don’t you care for me?” Ginny’s chin quivered, and she took the bottle from William.

“I care, but . . .”

“Oh, you never cared! You used me! You always did, but I—I hoped—I can’t help I ‘m so ugly, but Miss Peckham is hardly better, and she’ll make a fool of you one time soon.”

“For the first time in a long time I feel good and hopeful, and you try to destroy that!” William said. “I don’t always remember things, but I’m not so stupid. Miss Peckham, who is a learned girl, recognizes that about me. You’re like a heavy stone on my chest keeping me down! It’s not my fault you’ve chosen to be a whore. I don’t know how you ever thought I’d marry—or have children with you! You’re crazy! Now, I need Miss Peckham’s things.”

“Fine! Here’s what’s left of them. And one thing, Bill Weldon. If you plan on marryin’ I may as well let you in on something. Now, I never said nothin’ cause I was a true friend and never wanted to make you feel down, but you ain’t no good at things. I mean to say, you’re fairly well repulsive in the act. Maybe it’s your crooked leg or the god-awful faces you make . . . anyway, experience ain’t improved you neither.”

“Shut the hell up!” William shouted. Ginny had gotten him good. His leg was hideous to look at, that much he knew. With Miss Peckham, sex was not the first thing on his mind, but it was an idea that lurked second or third. Maybe she just needed a dance partner and a man to get her things. William picked up the carpetbag, glanced inside and turned toward the door.

Ginny took a sip of the bottle and poured the rest into the bag as William fumbled with the door. She grabbed Miss Peckham’s leather journal from on top of her clothes press and shoved it into the wet corner of the large bag. “Oh, Bill, here—her book.”

William nodded a thank-you and closed the door behind him.

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

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Fiction: How To Keep a Man Happy (Part Two)

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Thankful makes a decision about Mr. Fahy . . .

When Mrs. Markham awoke to find the fire puttered out, and the coffee not made, she wasn’t pleased.

“Thankful Crenshaw, I love you like a good friend’s daughter, but honestly, crying at this hour and before coffee is just wrong. I don’t pay you to pout. I’m sorry to be so upset, but you know how I am about coffee.” Mrs. Markham watched for reaction from Thankful out of the corner of her eye, but when she did not get it, turned more emphatically in the girl’s direction. “I allow other things to slide, child, but not this. I will have a word with Captain Markham about our arrangement.”

Again Thankful sniveled. Mrs. Markham wanted coffee, but softened. “I’d hate to lose our friendship over such a trifling thing. I’m at wits end, and the captain knows best what to do.” The mantle clock clicked the time slowly. A horse whinnied.

“I’ll pack my things, Mrs. Markham,” Thankful sobbed.

Mrs. Markham rushed to her side. “But you have no place to go, my sweetness, just be more mindful of your chores!”

“Yes. I’m sorry.” Thankful rose to fetch the coffee pot, wiping her eyes on her gingham apron–one Mrs. Markham had a laundress make for her pet.

“Whatever are you fretting about?” Mrs. Markham asked, sitting to write out Thankful’s endless list of chores. “Do you miss home?”

Thankful nodded, but then shook her head.

“Poor girl, you’re all mixed up. That’s what love does. I should know—the captain still keeps me in conflict. But love is love, and you’re lucky to have it. Some never do.”

“Mr. Fahy is demanding,” Thankful hinted.

“That’s men. Would you rather he left you to yourself and found another?” Mrs. Markham asked. “I didn’t think so.”

“But he’s very demanding,” Thankful said, wondering if the captain’s wife was really the friend she needed right now. “I just don’t know. . .”

“I don’t know how to say this.” Mrs. Markham took the pot from Thankful– too theatrically for Thankful’s taste and mood–and filled it herself with a scolding look. “I do love you, but you’re selfish in a way. A man has to be given his way once in a while—he needs to think that you trust his judgment. I’m sure that Mr. Fahy, of all men, wouldn’t lead you astray—he’s a fine gentleman.”

“Mrs. Markham, has he had any girls before me?”

“Many girls have sought him from what I hear, but I’ve never seen him take especial notice. I do believe Lieutenant Fahy is saving himself for you—that’s very sweet, I think. You’re a very lucky girl. Everyone thinks so. Don’t ruin things for yourself by being hard on him. After all, he’s only a man.” She laughed.

Later that day Mrs. Markham went visiting while Thankful took the children out to play. The sun blazed as Thankful’s temper flared. The older children fought, and the younger ones hung off her, wilted and cranky. Thankful could see Lieutenant Fahy smoking on the porch at headquarters, and this infuriated her. Usually he tripped up to see her for a moment around midday.

“Come along, children. It’s time to go indoors for your naps.” The young ones whimpered in protest, and the three eldest ran off, knowing Thankful could not give chase with the little ones clinging to her. “Horrible little wretches,” Thankful muttered as Fahy finally trotted over to her. She pushed past him.

“Thankful, please slow down, would you?”

“Why should I? I’m busy!” she said.

“I wanted to apologize for this morning. I can be a right bastard sometimes.”

“How you curse!” Thankful said, relieved and glad for his apology.

“It’s just that you’re so darn beautiful. I’m not a patient man, and I want you. But if you don’t feel the same way . . .”

“But I do, Mr. Fahy! I’m afraid of it though, and I only want to do what’s honorable and right.”

“But no one has to know and you’re nearly my wife.”

“I would do anything,” Thankful began–she must be honest, however immature it may seem to this man, “but that.”  She saw he was not pleased. “Oh, but let me explain. It’s very horrible really . . . I’ve never told a soul, but my parents conceived before they were married. It’s been a horrible marriage, and I’d hate for us to end so sadly.”

Fahy wiped his brow. The babies were crying, and the toddlers smelled like sewage. The lieutenant sighed. “Thankful, you’re a great girl—too good for me at times. I came over to apologize but also to let you know that I won’t be by this evening.”

“Oh,” Thankful said, a rush of panic and hurt coming over her. Had he even listened to her? “Well . . . why not?”

“Some of the fellows, well, I’ve been neglecting my friendships lately, and I have tonight free.”

“What will you do?” Thankful hated herself for asking.

“Just drink at The Buckskin. Nothing more.”

“Town? You’re going to town?” Thankful cried.

“Yes. Oh, you don’t think—what I said before about the others?” Fahy rolled his eyes and looked truly affronted. “Now I see you really don’t trust me!”

“No, it’s that I don’t know what to think! Before you threaten to use a whore and now. . .”

“I never threatened it!” Fahy said.

“Go ahead with the boys, but don’t expect me to be friendly tomorrow!” Thankful cried.

“So now I can’t have any friends?” Fahy complained. “You’re being unreasonable!”

“You can have as many friends as you like,” she said. “But I have no friends here at all!”

“And how is that my fault? Maybe if you were a little less stuck-up. You girls are always so dramatic!” Fahy fumed.

“You said you loved me!” Thankful sobbed now. “And I’m not stuck-up!”

“I do love you!” Fahy turned her away from passing soldiers. “Bear-up, Thankful. You’re making a fool of yourself, now,” he said irritably but hugged her. “My passion for you is so great that I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I’d never spend another moment with the lads if only I could have you the way we talked earlier.”

“So you would stay home for me?” Thankful asked. “I’m the most important to you?”

“Of course. It’s all I want, but I need to know that you trust me for everything.”

Thankful grabbed his arm. “Mr. Fahy, please come to me tonight, and I’ll be ready.”

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.”

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Who Else Hates Genre Labels?

The White Cockade by Edward Martin

The White Cockade by Edward Martin

LITERARY FICTION FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE LITERARY FICTION

“There is a stereotype of literary fiction shared by both science fiction readers and non-science fiction readers: that academically-sanctioned, “serious” contemporary fiction is all about dull middle-class people having affairs, and that the writers of this fiction do such things as use a couple hundred pages to describe events that could quite easily be described in a paragraph.”

WHY THE HATE FOR ROMANCE?

An interesting thread on romance in fantasy writing:

“But for people who want verisimilitude and detailed characterizations, romance is going to be there. Real people deal with romance in their actual lives. It’s a huge part of being human.

Romance doesn’t mean the book is plot-less or spends all its time dealing with vampire-werewolf three-ways. Badly written romance means the book is plot-less or spends all its time dealing with vampire-werewolf three-ways.” unconundrum

THE EMPTINESS OF LITERARY FICTION

“The stereotype is not just about elevating certain works of fiction, but overdetermining their value.”

13 STRUGGLES OF BEING A ROMANTIC WHO HATES ROMANCE (this one doesn’t have much to do with books. Just a fun read.

“(And yes, you cried deeply at The Notebook, and hated yourself for every minute of it.)”

 

WHAT FICTION DO YOU HATE? or LOVE?

Fiction: It’s Better to be Loved

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Working as house help isn’t quite as fun as Thankful hoped . . .

“Sometimes I wish I could chop it all off in this heat!” Thankful complained as she again tried to control her curls within the kerchief she wore while cleaning.

“Oh, you mustn’t do that,” Mrs. Markham said, sipping her tea.  “Every woman here would kill for such a gift of hair. Now, there, dear, you’ve missed a spot. With more scrubbing, that stain will come off.”

Thankful put her energy into the food-splattered wall, but it was futile work with so many sloppy children racing in and out. The scrubbing didn’t bother her as much as Mrs. Markham’s constant hovering. Wasn’t there some useful thing the lady of the house could be doing? Mrs. Markham’s young daughter Lydia, a sickly girl whose days were numbered, languished for lack of attention, but Mrs. Markham chose to ignore and avoid her daughter. Instead she picked on Thankful’s work.

“Well, I’m certainly glad you came to me before marrying,” Mrs. Markham continued. “You must be prepared for anything if you decide to marry an officer. I remember when my young lieutenant husband dragged me across the prairie. We had not a penny to our name—not even an extra pot. We couldn’t even keep a girl—not that I would have allowed it back then. Young officers have roving eyes.”

“Not Mr. Fahy,” Thankful said.

“Did I mention Mr. Fahy?” Mrs. Markham asked with a grin. “I’m sure he would be very pleased to know how you defend him.”

“You won’t tell!”

“My dear child, Lieutenant Fahy is already quite enamored with you,” Mrs. Markham replied, pointing to a missed spot on the wall. “There is no need for me to further sell you to him.”

“I won’t be bought!” Thankful stated, splashing sudsy water.

“Maybe it’s time you stopped taking his gifts,” Mrs. Markham advised.

Thankful blushed. “I’m not sure how to stop him. I’ve asked politely, but he ignores my feelings on the matter.”

Mrs. Markham looked worried. “Mr. Fahy always means well, but Thankful, remember, there is much to this army life that is profitable, but in money it is not. You must do your best not to take advantage of a man’s generosity.”

Thankful did not appreciate her mistress’s words but held her tongue. She would speak to Mr. Fahy tonight about his unnecessary gifts. Mrs. Markham went out back to garden and soon a knock came at the door. Fahy walked in and helped Thankful to her feet. He wore his white horse grooming jacket, and Thankful laughed. “Look at the state of us this morning! As pretty as a picture.”

“I like the smell of horse,” Fahy laughed and kissed Thankful’s wet hand. He pulled a small bouquet of wilting desert flowers from his pocket. “I thought I should bring them before they completely die, but it looks as if maybe I’m too late.”

Thankful pretended to be fascinated by the little blooms. “Oh, Mr. Fahy, this was ever more thoughtful than any of those real gifts. I hope you’ll always be practical like this and not waste money on me at all.”

“Why? Don’t you like my gifts?”

“You shouldn’t spend all of your money,” Thankful said, dusting hay off Fahy’s shoulder. “Mrs. Markham says . . .”

“Don’t listen to her. I love the old girl, but she never keeps out of my business—especially now—but I’ve beaten her this time.” He pulled a clean handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to Thankful.

“My, this is very practical indeed.” she said, trying to appear enthused.

“You silly girl, open it up.”

Something sparkled and fell to the floor. Thankful retrieved it and looked at it dubiously. “Oh, a ring.”

“I was hoping you might like it and marry me,” Fahy said, twisting his mustache between his nervous fingers.

“Mr. Fahy, I’m shocked beyond disbelief!” Thankful replied, blushing between looks at the ring and the man before her.

“So you’re not happy with the idea?” Fahy asked, his brow furrowed.

“I hadn’t thought of it—yet.” She hugged him, but he pulled away.

“Oh. Well, I can return the ring then,” Fahy said.

“No! You’re offended, and I don’t understand why. I like you very much, sir, but we’ve known each other only a very few weeks. How do you know I’ll please you?”

“When I know something, I know it! I don’t waste my days in restless deliberation. I’m a soldier. Tomorrow may be my last!”

“Merciful heavens, don’t dare say such things!” It aggravated Thankful somehow. “Are you ill?”

“No, but any day there could be an Indian breakout, and I may be called upon to serve—I assume I will. I want to prove myself, of course. The West Pointers like to think low of us men risen from the ranks . . . but I’m off track. I want you now for my own. I want to know you’ll wait for me if I’m called and mourn me if I’m lost.”

“I won’t mourn for you! I mean, I don’t want to think of you dying, sir.”

“So you do care?” Fahy asked with an irresistible grin.

“Land sakes, yes! It’s only I’m all mixed up and afraid of marriage.” The idea of marriage, in a general way, was pleasant but actually settling into it was quite a different matter. How long had her parents courted before making a terrible mistake? Thankful had known Willy forever . . . but never mind him.

“We suit each other, don’t you think? I know you’ll be a good mother and wife,” Fahy said.

“I’m afraid I know too much about children and not a thing about men—I mean wifely duties. My mother is an odd bird. I don’t want to be like her—though I . . . I do care for her.”

“Do you feel any tenderness towards me like I feel for you?” Fahy asked. He straightened his jacket.

Fahy was charming. Thankful could see that. Any girl back east might be jealous of her. “Yes. I think so. You’re so much fun and very kind to me,” she said.

“Just think of it, Miss Crenshaw, we can travel the world and throw big parties for generals and diplomats once my career is started, and you will dazzle the entire army. You are tremendously lovely and deserve better than scrubbing the floor.”

“That sounds wonderful, Mr. Fahy. I’d love to have big parties and read poetry and play the violin and talk about important things like art and politics, but my parents would be—surprised. I expected something different when I came out here.”

Fahy’s face clouded. “Yes, Bill Weldon. But you must realize that he’s lost.”

“You’re right. I know you are, but I feel sorry for him.”

“And your compassion is one of the very endearing qualities I admire. Miss Thankful Crenshaw, I well and truly love you, and I don’t know how I’d take losing you. From the moment I saw you I wanted you for my wife.”

“You love me, Mr. Fahy?” No one had ever said those words to her; not even her parents. No one. Thankful knew she was cared for, she was liked, she was a good girl, but was she loved? “You really love me?”

“Of course! I’d be a damned fool not to!” Fahy laughed and plunked his hands on her shoulders. “So what do you say? Won’t you take a chance with me?”

“I will, Mr. Fahy!” Thankful cried. “Promise to keep loving me, and I will try to please you!”

“You do please me, my sweet darling!” Fahy slipped the ring on Thankful’s finger.

“It’s sweet, sir, very sweet. Oh, I . . . like it . . . very much!” she gushed, but felt a knot in her stomach. “I’m frightened, Mr. Fahy.”

Fahy pat her face. “I’ll take care of everything. Not to worry!” He pulled her close and kissed her with passion.

PREVIOUS EPISODE FROM 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.”

 

Fiction: Bad Reputation

William almost escapes Thankful’s notice . . .

001-2The officers strode out from officers’ row and every woman, child and mongrel milled about on the parade ground. Guns were presented, cannons were fired and order was pronounced with a clarity and confidence heard nowhere else in William’s life. He marched off, trying to ignore the lines of men with gleaming buttons and bayonets, feeling the leper.

“Willy!” Thankful called, running from the Markhams’ porch on officers’ row.

The men turned to admire her, distracted from their manual of arms.

“William, wait! Where are you going? Mrs. Markham saved you some breakfast.”

The idea of food turned William green. “Thankful, no. I’ve made a right fool of myself coming here last night. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“Not much, I’d say. You were awful drunk.”

“Yes. I realize that.”

“Don’t be that way, William Weldon. You’ve made a big mess for yourself, and I don’t understand it a bit. Mr. Fahy tells me you were to go along with the Bourke fellow to study Indians, but you made excuses! The way you collected bits of the past in Englewood, I’d have thought you’d jump at the chance to really study.”

“I’m no good at study—I have brain problems, remember?”

“Oh, I’m bloody tired of hearing about that!” Thankful burst.

“Bloody? You’re two days with Fahy, and you start talking like a Brit? That’s tragic.”

“The lieutenant is IRISH, I remind you, and you’re the tragic one,” Thankful said. “What I wouldn’t do to have your chances. The only problem you have with your brain is that you so rarely exercise it!”

“That’s not fair!”

“Oh, land sakes, Willy, you’re such a child!” Thankful said, with her trademark pout. “You draw ugly things mostly. Why? Life isn’t so bad.”

“You only skim the surface of things, Thankful. I used to like that about you. But now I see that beneath your helpful cheer is a shallow, judgmental girl, who only cares for herself.” William clutched the watch in his pocket. “You didn’t come to visit me. You came to get your parents in a fit for not paying you enough attention and then you set me up for a complete humiliation just so you can gain the sympathies of the people here who were supposed to welcome me!”

“Supposed to? You earned your place in their hearts and minds long before I arrived! I feel sorry that you think I wouldn’t find you worth a visit. Back in Englewood I admired you, Willy. You always seemed to take such good care of your father and even little Lucy, who would try a saint’s patience.  But now you’re worse than even Buck and Fred—at least they don’t just sit around and complain.”

“What on Earth could they complain about?” William asked. “They’ve never had a single trial that your parents didn’t snatch them out of. Now they’re at college having a grand time, I bet!”

“And so what if they are?” Thankful replied. “You’re on a grand adventure and with more heart and talent than the two of them put together, but you ruin it for yourself! Did it ever occur to you how your parents scrimped to get you here?”

“It’s none of your concern, Thankful.”

She huffed, crossing her arms. “While you’re off wasting their money, your mother worries night and day for you and for your father—she thinks your father will up and die—so Mama says.”

“Is he that ill?”

“Well, no. I don’t think so, but your mother worries just the same.”

“I can’t worry about them anymore. I’ve spent years at it, and where’s it gotten me?” William asked.

“What an awful state of mind! Loving people is reward enough!” Thankful scolded.

“No, I want to do what feels good for me, for once.”

“And what do you think that is?” Thankful asked.

William scratched his head. “I don’t know for certain.”

“I hope it’s not just drinking and being with bad girls,” Thankful said. “You can get . . .”

“I won’t get sick. Anyway, I don’t want to do just that.” William looked at her. Thankful’s freckles seemed to have multiplied overnight. “I’d like to have a proper girl sometime, Thankful . . .”

“Then become a proper man,” she replied turning her nose up at him. “It’s a sin to Moses how you carry on.”

William rolled his eyes and scratched his head. He hoped there were no lice in Fahy’s blankets. “Thankful, will your folks send you money, do you think?”

“They might do, if I ask. My father is very generous with me. But the officers have done up a collection for me and even some of the privates and such threw in what they could. I could leave tomorrow if I liked.”

“Well, bully for you, then.”

“But I won’t go,” Thankful said.

“What?”

“I won’t take advantage of my new friends and spend their money. It’s not right. Mrs. Markham has kindly offered to keep me on for the season.”

“The season?”

“Yes, Willy. You never told me the posts are such social places. Who’d ever want to leave?” Thankful said, enjoying the fact that she’d succeeded where he failed.

William glared at her. “So you’ll stay on and be an extra mouth to feed?”

“As you know, BILL Weldon, Mrs. Markham recently popped out a new baby, and she’s all tuckered out since the last girl ran off with the married major.”

William laughed. “So you’ll be the hired help?”

“Yes, and I suppose that’s where the shoe pinches,” Thankful said. “I don’t know the first thing about cooking and cleaning.”

“You must know something about babies though,” William said. “Your mother has enough of them.”

“Yes. It will be a lark anyhow. I did mention to her that I am just above useless, but didn’t mind some training. Mr. Fahy says he’ll take me out shooting if I’d like.”

“But I thought you were terrified of guns?”

Thankful swished her fan open. “Modern weapons in the right hands are fine. My brothers used to tell me how reckless you were with guns in Englewood.”

“Englewood? The last time I shot in Englewood I was nine or ten years old! I’m a very good shot!”

“William, there is no need to make a scene over a silly old gun,” Thankful lectured. She waved to Fahy as he marched his men by, and he waved back.

William wanted to shoot them both. “I do hope you’ve sent word to your parents. The doctor deserves at least that.”

“I’ve sent a telegram,” Thankful said, “and I intend to write them today to explain my plans. Maybe you should worry about your own relations instead of ordering me.”

“Oh, hell, Thankful, I have to go.”

“Say good day to your town friends, Bill,” Thankful said and marched back inside the Markham’s.

PREVIOUS EPISODE FROM 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.”