This is the third of the short vignettes for the new Monk Buttman mystery, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, which will be released on 1/9/20. Carleton, is a friend of William Bohrman, Buttman’s name before he changed it. Lilith was William’s wife in Virginia.
“Well, what’d you do this time?” he asked.
I couldn’t tell if he was smiling or not. Once again, I’d spent the night sleeping off my miseries on Carlton Hinsman’s porch.
“Did my wife call?” I asked, trying to remember the night before.
Carleton laughed. “Shit, man, I think by now she knows better than that.”
“So that’s a no?”
“That’s a no.” He rubbed his chin as I sat up.
My head wasn’t screaming so it wasn’t too much booze that drove me here. “Well, I’m not hungover, so must have been another fight,” I said, pushing the hair out of my eyes.
I heard Car sigh. “I’m not gonna ask, but I am gonna say, word’s out about Judah Martindale hanging around Lilith, but I think you know already and that’s why you’re here.”
The bells, naturally, went off. And with them I was back in the kitchen of my house screaming at Astral, who was Lilith to everyone else. I called her a lot of terrible things; things I couldn’t bear to repeat. Car sighed again and sat down next to me on the bench swing.
“Ok, we were fighting about that goddamned Judah Martindale,” I said. “I stormed out and lost track of time. Evidently I was close and borrowed the bench here.”
Carleton stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time.
“I know it don’t seem right, and ordinarily, I’d say you got the town on your side in this with another man playing on your woman and all, but we both know that ain’t true. The ugly truth is people are blaming you—”
Car lightly smacked the back of my head, and from a big guy, that was enough. “Yeah, you, and you know it. You’ve pissed off just about everyone from the Rev on down. And that includes me and Duane. Shit, we can’t even go to his house anymore because you had to act like an ass to Leslie.” He smacked me again just because. “Am I getting through to you here?”
“Yeah,” I answered quietly.
“You need to figure this out, man. I know bustin’ up is tough; I’ve been through it, but it’s got to be better than ending up on my porch.”
“I don’t want to leave her,” I mumbled.
Car sighed again. “She don’t love you, man. Face it. I didn’t like it when Brenda told me, and that’s the truth, pain or no pain. That’s life. You need to own up, Willie. You can’t spend your life sleeping on my porch.”
“No? I’m kinda used to it now; home away from home.”
Car laughed. “Maybe, but it’s no way to live.” He got up and stretched. “I got work to do and so do you. Crops don’t give a shit about your marital affairs.”
“No?” I was hoping they did.
“No!” he said. “Need a ride?”
It was my turn to say, “No.”
©2019 David William Pearce