Rebekah, Take 2

This is the last vignette for the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, A Monk Buttman Mystery.

I pulled into the driveway of Farrell and Rebekah’s home, a doublewide modular house they were renting from Farrell’s parents. The grass was trimmed and the flowers along the entrance were still in bloom. I parked the truck next to the house. Carleton was behind me in the Falcon, and Duane behind him in his truck.

“Kinda a cumbersome way to do this, don’t ya think?” Car handed me the keys to the falcon. I walked with him to Duane’s truck and gave him a hug. They both knew I was heading out from here, and I think there was an understanding that this might be it. “You sure you want to live in California?”

“I need to get away for awhile,” I told them, as I had before, each time they’d ask.

“Well, take care, man, and best of luck,” Duane said as he put the truck in drive.

I watched them drive away.

Rebekah was at the door. She put her arms around me and kissed my cheek. I followed her into the house. She liked to keep it clean and organized, with everything just so. We sat on their new couch. It was a deep-seated thing, charcoal gray, that you seeped into.

“What do you think?” she asked, patting the cushions.

“It’s certainly comfy,” I said.

“Yeah.” She continued to run her hand along the fabric. “I guess you’re here to say goodbye…”

“Yeah… I need to get away for awhile.” I shook my head. Is that the only thing I can think to say to anyone? I took the truck keys from my pocket and handed them to her. “Don’t forget the shotgun’s behind the seat.”

“Aren’t you going to need it? You know what Car says…” She tried to smile at that.

“Yes, we all know what Car says, but… I’ll be ok.”

“You sure?”

“Of course, just ask your mom,” I said.

Rebekah frowned.

“Sorry. I’ll be all right. How are you doing? Are you and Farrell happy?”

“Oh yeah, we’re doing great. Hopefully we won’t be here too long. I mean it’s nice Chess and Pell letting us live here cheap, but I want my own house—”

“And babies?” Rebekah was always talking about having a family.

“Already working on that,” she said, smiling.

“I wish you more luck than your mother and I had.”

“So no baby brother, huh?”

“Doesn’t look good. Maybe some step brothers, but…”

She put her hand on my arm. “Do you know where you’re going?”

I laughed at that. When have I ever known where I was going? “West. Maybe back to California. I don’t know.”

“You’ll let me know when you get there, won’t you?”

“I will.” I got up. I needed to go. I could feel the pain welling inside and I was tiring of crying, tired of feeling lost.

She followed me to the Falcon. I turned to her. “Oh, I almost forgot. My journals are in the truck.”

“Journals?” She seemed surprised.

“Yeah, in case you take up farming,” I said.

“You didn’t want to leave them for Judah?” I’m pretty sure she was joking.

“No. Besides, I’ve been told he’s got it all figured out. Just ask your mom.”

“Dad!”

“Sorry.” I hugged her one last time. “Be happy, Becky.”

“You too.”

I kissed her and drove off. I made it a good two miles before the tears began streaming down my face.

All the way to California.

©2020 David William Pearce

Joanie, Take 2

Monk and Joanie, a woman he was once in love with, discussing his upcoming trip to Virginia. This is a vignette to support the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God.

“You’re going where?” Joanie asked.

I knew she heard me the first time, but I repeated: “Virginia.”

“Virginia? I thought you’d rather be shot that go back there?” She was sitting next to me in front of my bungalow. It was a warm evening and we were nursing our drinks.

“That’s still an option,” I assured her.

“And?”

“And what?”

“Jesus, Monk,” she slapped the back of my head, “it’s like pulling teeth. And you brought it up!”

“I did, didn’t I?” I said, stating the obvious.

“So are you going to tell me or not?”

“Anything’s possible…”

“Uh-huh, like this drink all over your pretty new suit.” Joanie pointed her glass in my direction.

“I don’t think it needs to come to that. And this isn’t a new suit, just new to me.”

“Sure, Monk, sure.” Joanie took a sip of her wine and waved to Mrs. Grumpas, who was walking past.

“I’m going back to help my daughter,” I said, as I waved to Mrs. Grumpas. “I wonder where her husband is?” Mrs. Grumpas rarely went anywhere without her husband, Herman.

“Herm’s in the hospital, something to do with his prostate,” Joanie informed me. She always knew what was up with the old folks here at the Moonlight Arms. “Help your daughter how?”

“Something about her idiot husband,” I said.

“Prostate troubles?” She laughed at that.

“I doubt it. He’s a little young for that.”

“Why’s he an idiot? Not that you’d know much about being an idiot…” She laughed at that too.

“No, not much.”

The Ontavarises, Olivia and Cresto, holding hands, walked by. They smiled and wished us a good evening.

“How long are you going for?” Joanie asked, as the Ontavarises went into their bungalow, which was two down from mine.

“Hopefully not too long. I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect to begin with.”

“You don’t want tot see your daughter?”

“It’s not that, and why does everyone ask that?” I whined.

“Who’s everyone?”

“You, Agnes, Moses—”

“That’s only three,” she said. “Shouldn’t there be more for you to complain so much?”

“It’s not quantity, it’s quality,” I said.

“Uh-huh.”

“It is—”

“Sure, Monk.”

“You’re not being very supportive, you know.”

“Then get the gun,” she laughed.

“Very nice,” I grumbled.

“Just considering the source,” she said, tipping her glass.

I shook my head and frowned, but tipped my glass anyway. I knew this wasn’t an argument I’d win.

©2020 David WIlliam Pearce

Astral

This is the 10th vignette for the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God. Astral was Monk’s first wife. She called herself Lilith. Monk was known as Will. They lived in Virginia. At this point their marriage has fallen apart.

The stars were out, a rare cloudless night. The fight had ended and I was sitting in the cabana once again wishing I’d been more understanding and less angry. But like everything else that had transpired over the last few months, that was a lie, both mine and Astral’s. There was nothing to be understanding about. I wiped my eyes and quietly admonished myself for being such a crybaby.

I didn’t hear Astral coming up behind me.

“I think it’s time for you to go,” she said, her voice flat, emotionless.

“I imagine you do.”

“I’m not asking, Will, I’m saying you need to go.”

“So you can make a proper announcement about you and Judah Martindale?”

“Yes. It’s no secret anymore.” She slowly walked to the other side of the table.

“If it ever was. You two were hardly discreet,” I said.

“I not going to argue about that anymore. You need to go”

I looked at her, the starlight twinkling behind her hard unhappy face. “Why do I need to go? Why don’t you go live with your boyfriend?”

“The house and farm are in my name, Sunshine, remember?” The emotion was back, making her voice harsh and brittle.

“Yes, of course. This was my fault to begin with, so I should leave because it’s so much more convenient for everyone else, right?” My voice was no better.

“Say it however you want.”

Beyond her were the fields I’d turned over the day before, prepping them for another season. Beyond the fields were the mountains, and beyond that? I didn’t know. There was nothing here, and nothing there but bloody dirt roads and the terror of that day long ago.

I looked at my wife. “It seems you two have this all worked out then. And my last act?”

“I talked with Donald, he can work out the details—”

“Details of what?”

“Judah’s buying your half of the farm,” she said.

“Yeah he might as well take all of it.” I shook my head. “You know the word is that Judah doesn’t know a fucking thing about farming.”

“I’m not interested in what any of friends think!”

“Yes, we’ve argued about that too.” I smiled as I wiped my eyes. “I guess we’ve found the end of that rainbow.”

“I don’t need any of your smartassed remarks, Will!”

“Then I guess I was wrong. Ah, what does it matter now.” I put my head in my hands.

“I expect to see you tomorrow at Donald’s office. Ten o’clock. And try to look presentable.” I heard her start to walk away.

“Whatever you say, dear.” I sat up and turned to her. “I guess this means you can get pregnant now?”

Astral glowered at me.

“Yes it does,” she said, walking back to the house.

The starlight danced above her, danced despite the tears running down my face. Somewhere, they assured me, was God in his infinite wisdom.

I wondered.

©2020 David William Pearce

Chess Jenkins

This is the 9th vignette for the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, A Monk Buttman Mystery. In it are characters from the book, and is meant to add a little backstory to it.

Chester Jenkins called me over. His son Farrell, and my daughter Rebekah, were engaged and soon to be married. Apparently, this gave him license to pester me about my affairs. I knew of Chess and his boys, Carroll and Darrell, from the feed store they ran in town.

“Looks like we’ll be family soon, Will,” he said, stating the obvious.

“Looks like,” I said.

He offered his hand as a token of that abiding soon to be connection. I noticed his hands were clammy.

“Jude Martindale was in here the other day,” he said.

“Was he?”

“Yep. Askin’ about this and that…” He raised his eyebrows.

“Most of us, do, Chess.”

“I spose.” He looked up at me from the counter where he was shuffling papers. “Asked me what I thought about Farr marrying Becky, something about whether she had her father’s temper…” He grinned at that.

I grinned back. “What’d you tell him?”

“Well, I don’t think Becky’s quite as ornery, that’s all. I mean, no offense, Will, but sometimes you kinda worry folks.” He continued to grin.

“Sometimes,” I agreed, “but Farrell’s not marrying me, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“That’s good cuz I don’t cotton to men marrying men.” He thought that was cute.

“Not many around here do, Chess. Did Judah Martindale have any other concerns about me and mine?” I was no longer grinning. I was hearing more talk from folks than I wanted to about what might be going on with Astral and Judah Martindale.

“He did mention you had an attractive wife…”

“Just brought that up did he?”

Chester Jenkins’ grin grew sheepish as he took a step back. “I may have mentioned Farr found him a good looker, that’s all. I mean Lilith is an good looking woman, Will.”

“Yes, she is, Chess.”

Darrell wandered in from the back of the store. “Load’s in the truck, Mr. Bohrman.”

“Thanks. Anything else?” I asked.

“No,” Chess said as Darrell walked away. “Pell says just about everything’s ready for the weddin’. Weather’s sposed to be good and all. I guess we’ll see you then?”

“I guess.” I turned to go.

“You know I don’t mean nothin’ by any of that, just talk, that’s all.” He was still a step back behind the counter.

“Sure, Chess,” I assured him.

“Goin’ be good eatin’, Will,” he said, as I opened the door to leave.

“Probably the only reason he going,” I told myself.

©2020 David WIlliam Pearce

Duane and His Boat

This is the 8th vignette for the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, the new Monk Buttman Mystery. In this one, Monk visits his friend, Duane. Unfortunately, Monk, then known as William, is not on good terms with Duane’s wife, Leslie.

I very cautiously knocked, well aware that Duane’s wife, Leslie, would not be happy to see me at her door. She considered me a bad influence, along with Carleton, on her husband. And truth be told, I kinda was. Then there was the matter of my outburst the last time I was in her company when the subject was a wife’s fidelity to her husband’s wishes came up. I don’t remember what prompted the conversation, only that due too my deteriorating home life I’d made a complete ass of myself.

And not for the first time.

Leslie Jorgenson, arms crossed after she opened the door part way, glared at me.

“Um, I came to apologize about my behavior, Leslie. I’m sorry for what I did and I promise to be more respectful in the future,” I said, hoping she would believe me. And I did mean it; it’s just that sometimes I don’t think before I blurt.

Leslie’s glare did not diminish. “Duane’s out back, Will.”

“Thanks.” I stepped back, getting ready to walk around the house.

Leslie stepped onto the porch. “One more thing, Will Bohrman,” she said, her hands now on her hips. “I hear anymore nasty comments out of your mouth and you’ll find a load a buckshot in your behind! Do we understand each other?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I slowly backed away knowing she’d probably like to shoot me right here and now.

Duane and Carleton were, as Leslie said, out back standing next to Duane’s new toy. It was a sleek speedboat with a blue sparkling paint job and silver sparkling stripes down the side. It had a white interior and two big Evinrude outboard motors hanging off the end.

Duane handed me a beer as I passed him, my hand following the contours of the boat. “Man!” was all that came out of my mouth.

“Sweet, huh?” he said.

“I don’t know,” I answered, as I checked out the motors. “Looks like a good way to get yourself killed.”

“Christ Will, don’t be such a wuss. You sound like Leslie,” he said.

Carleton laughed at that. “Speaking of the devil, I’m surprised she let you back on the property?”

“Outside of threatening to shoot me, Leslie and I are on the best of terms,” I assured them.

Both burst out laughing.

“Anyway,” I said, trying to limit their mirth at my expense, “I’m surprised Leslie let you buy this in the first place.”

Duane shook his head. “That’s because you’ve forgotten how to charm a woman, dumbass.”

“It’s not that I haven’t tried,” I whined.

That only produced more laughter.

“It’s not funny, goddammit!” I tried to sound tough, mainly or because both Carleton and Duane were bigger than me and hardly concerned I might be a threat.

“All right, no need to get your panties in a bunch, Will.” Carleton took a swig of his beer. “Just havin’ a little fun’s all.”

“And,” Duane added, “if Leslie hears you going off, she might well indeed shoot your ass!”

They laughed at that too.

I did the only smart thing I could think of and climbed up into the boat. I figured that was more interesting than once again plowing through the wasteland of Willie’s failing marriage. It did the trick.

Duane’s enthusiasm could not be contained, and soon he and Car were in the boat with me as he pointed to every feature the boat had. His girls came out demanding a ride in daddy’s new boat, while Leslie stood on the back porch, her arms again crossed and a scowl on her face. Duane took notice.

“You always bring out the best in Leslie, Will,” he chided.

I shrugged while looking over at Duane’s less than thrilled wife. “Maybe the girl’s are right; time to take this baby out.”

I figured the boat was a better way out than buckshot.

©2020 David William Pearce

Moses

This is the 7th vignette for book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, which was released 1/9/20 by Black Rose Writing. Moses is Monk’s father and one of the founders of the commune on which Monk grew up. Monk and Moses have a somewhat contentious relationship.

As a creature of habit, those habits betrayed me when I sought solitude. The old asparagus crate supported my butt as I leaned against the barn and watched the sun drift behinds the clouds to the west. It was peaceful and quiet and reminded me of my time alone sitting in the cabana in Virginia.

Like Virginia, it made it easier to be here on the farm.

Unfortunately, like Virginia, it was all too easy to find me, irrespective of my desire for solitude.

“I thought I might find you here.”

I looked to see my father, Moses, leaning against the corner of the barn.

“You know you’re welcome to join us? You don’t have to hide away,” he continued, a smile on his face.

“I’m not hiding away,” I said, “just enjoying a moment of solitude.”

He looked up at the clouds that had my attention. “Mind if I join you?”

I shook my head no.

He retreated and returned with a crate of his own, which he placed next to mine. He sat down and for a few uncomfortable moments we listened to the birds doing whatever it is birds do.

“It one of the reasons we came out here,” he said at last.

“What?”

“Solitude. Quiet.”

Moses, like my mother, Rebekah, was the product of a strict religious family that disdained the city and its evident vices. Naturally, as children of the 60’s, they rebelled and liberated themselves from the suffocating conservatism of the countryside and wallowed in the crapulence of the city with all those long-haired hippies and their radical ideas. The country never really left them, and so with the Mackinaw brothers and some others, they found themselves here in the wilds of Northern California. I often wondered if my mother would have remained had it not been for Moses’, at the time, ideas about love and sex, and his producing children with Meredith.

Thinking of my mother, as I knew her in Virginia, I couldn’t picture her staying either way.

“Don’t you tire of the city? The noise? All the people?” he asked, as he had every time I was dragged up here by Agnes.

“Nope,” was my answer each time, which I knew frustrated him.

“Yet I find you here enjoying what you can’t have in that hellhole of Los Angeles,” he harrumphed as he had many times before.

“Each has it own unique charms,” I assured him, whether he believed it or not.

“We seem to have reached our usual impasse on this.”

“We have,” I agreed.

A group of goats were aimlessly wandering around a fenced enclosure to our right. Maybe they sensed Moses’ presence and had expectations they did with my being near. I was perfectly content with that.

“Do you miss your farm?” he asked as the goat continued meandering our way.

“Nope.” That wasn’t entirely true, but I liked to goad him on the subject.

“I don’t believe you. Both Lilith and Rebekah told me you were good at it, that you put a lot of time and energy into it.” His turn to goad me.

“What else did I have to do?” which was true.

Moses sighed.

Which made me smile, which he noticed.

“You’re just like your mother sometimes, Sunshine,” he said smiling back.

It was my turn to sigh.

©2020 David William Pearce

Pastor Davis

This is the 6th vignette for the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God. In this one, Monk, then known as William, is forced by his mother ,Rebekah, and his wife, Astral, to speak with Pastor Davis about his rapidly deteriorating home life.

The church was quiet. It was a Thursday and I had summoned all of my patience, but nothing seemed to dissipate the anger I felt welling up inside me. I didn’t want to be angry with Pastor Davis, but I was already angry with Astral and my mother for ambushing me with this meeting I wanted no part of.

I had stopped by at my mother’s house to talk to them.

“This is important, William,” my mother told me, her finger pointed at my heart. “Your soul is in peril and I’d be some kind of mother if I let you throw that away.”

“Please, Will,” Astral added, but with little emotion.

Motion. We had so little of it anymore.

“I have no desire to speak with Pastor Davis,” I whined.

“We’re well aware of that, William, but it can’t hurt to speak to him. Isn’t your marriage important to you?” My mother continued to bore in on me.

I looked at the two of them, liking neither at the moment. I was tired and lonely, and only wanted a little affection from my wife, who had avoided me for too long.

“And would it hurt to trim that mangy beard,” my mother added, adding insult to injury.

“Oh, for chrissakes, mother—”

“William!”

“What?”

“Why is this so difficult for you?” Rebekah Altonberg raised her voice, unusual for the tightly control woman she’s become since leaving California.

“Because I’m the one who has to do it!”

I stormed off to the church.

Pastor Davis was in his office. Melanie Flowers, who ran the day-to-day operations of the church, pinched her lips and pointed to the door.

“Thanks,” I said, none too cheerily.

Pastor Davis stood up as I opened the door. “William, have a seat, won’t you.”

I grumbled, but sat down.

The pastor took his seat and put his hands to his lips, a habit I’d noticed many times before, but now cared for even less. “I understand your mother asked you to speak with me,” he said.

“That too is my understanding,” I answered.

The Pastor’s brows furrowed then rose as his shoulders fell. “I agreed to speak to you, William, because she asked me to, though I worried it would be of no value, and based on your attitude that opinion hasn’t changed. Yet here you are. So let me ask you this: what is it you want, William?”

“I want my wife to sleep with me, Pastor Davis, that’s what I want.”

I expected shock or a stony look to greet my outburst. Instead, he smiled at me. “And you think I can help with that, do you?”

“Yes,” I said.

The Pastor once again put his hands to his lips. “Do you believe if I were to ask her to do this, she would?”

“No,” I answered. It was my turn to smile, though it was hardly a winning one. “I’m sorry, Pastor Davis, I shouldn’t be angry with you or God or Astral—”

“Astral?”

“Sorry, Lilith.” I looked past the pastor to the window and the fields beyond. Tears rolled down my face, soaking into my mangy beard. “I don’t know that there’s anything you can do, and I don’t think it’s fair for my mother or wife to press you to do so. You and I have argued enough about God and all of that, and I won’t be a hypocrite and lie to you that I’ve had some big change of heart…” I wiped ay my eyes hoping the tears would stop. Instead they only flowed more freely. “I love my wife, I do, but I can’t be something I’m not.” I wiped again, soaking the sleeve of my work shirt.

Pastor Davis held out his box of tissues.

“I’m sorry, I…”

“Don’t be sorry, William,” he said, putting the box at the edge of the desk. “I’m not asking you to be something you’re not. I only ask that you look to God for answers in your own way. If I didn’t, then wouldn’t I be a hypocrite as well?” He sat back and pondered the crying man before him. “Normally, I would suggest that you and I and Lilith get together to talk this through, but we’ve been down that road. And while I pray that road has promise, the three of us have been down it many times already.”

The light outside the window was fading. I put my head in my hands to hide the tears that refused to stop. Pastor Davis leaned forward, his forearms set upon the desk.

“William?”

I shook my head.

“It’s not good to be so angry. I know you say you don’t believe, but give God a chance, if for nothing more than to release you from this terrible sorrow you feel. Maybe then you can find your way with Lilith.”

Pastor Davis rose from his desk and put his hand on my shoulder.

“God loves you, William.”

“Yes,” was all I could think to say.

I left by the side door of his office.

©2020 David William Pearce


William, Astral, and Rebekah

This is the fifth short vignette written for the book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, A Monk Buttman Mystery. It involves Monk, then known as William, Astral, his wife, whom everyone else called Lilith (something Monk refused to do), and their daughter, Rebekah. Because much of the early part of the book is about Monk’s return to Virginia and his uneasy relationship with the people there, this vignette is meant to illustrate some of that history.

We were sitting in the cabana I’d finished the day before. It was a Sunday afternoon. We’d returned from church and were having a snack looking out across the fields where I spent the majority of my time. In the distance the Appalachian Mountains rose. It was a fine day, warm with a quiet breeze rolling north. Rebekah went from one place on the bench across from Astral and I to another. She was almost ten and seemed incapable of sitting still.

“Eat your apple, Becky.” Astral was losing patience with her daughter.

I pointed to the seat across from me. “Becky…”

Rebekah Bohrman stared at me before slumping on her seat and picked at her plate of sliced apples.

“When can I have a baby brother?” she blurted out.

I looked at Astral who looked at me.

“The babies come when God tells them it’s time,” Astral told her.

Rebekah frowned. “Jenny Gunther has two brothers and two sisters. I don’t have any.”

“That’s not the way the world works, Becky,” I said.

“Then how does it work?”

I was tempted to admit I had no idea. I was also tempted to tell her that her mother and I had been trying for years to have another child to no avail. Astral must have sensed my desire to blurt something out.

“Every family is different,” Astral told her. “While the Gunther’s have five kids, the Sibley’s don’t have any.

Rebekah was unmoved. “You still love each other, don’t you?”

We both nodded.

“Well, that’s what Mrs. Brice at bible study says is all you need,” she huffed.

“It takes more than just love, Becky,” I said, not knowing where that comment would take us.

It was Astral’s turn to frown. “I’m sure Mrs. Brice means well, but,” Astral elbowed me in the ribs, “the rest of it is for moms and dads to take care of.” Astral leaned towards Rebekah. “Why are you so interested in having a brother or sister—”

“I want a baby brother!”

Astral didn’t like being interrupted. “Please let me finish, Rebekah Bohrman!”

Rebekah Bohrman slumped down.

“Babies are a big deal,” Astral continued, “and God wants what’s best for them and I know he’ll gives us one when the time is right. You understand that, don’t you?”

Rebekah crossed her arms and stared at her mother.

“Right?” Astral insisted.

Rebekah looked at me. I shrugged, which made Astral frown.

“William!”

“Your mother’s right, Becky. When the time is right,” I said. It was too nice a day to argue as Pastor Davis had admonished earlier in church.

Rebekah continued to frown.

“It’s not fair,” she grumbled to herself.

“It never is,” I said to myself.

A Twinkle in the Eyes of God will be release on 1/9/2020 by Black Rose Writing.

2020 David WIlliam Pearce

Emily's Garden

This is the 4th of the vignettes for the new book in the Monk Buttman series, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God. Emily is a little girl who lives at the commune started by Monk’s father, Moses. Monk helps her when he comes to visit with Agnes.

The apotheosis of a man’s fate lies in the garden of a young girl. That’s what I tell myself every time I return to the farm and find myself in the clutches of my erstwhile overseer, Emily.

“Are you ready, Mr. Sunshine?” she would demand.

“Ready for what?” I would answer.

“You know,” she would say… and on and on.

“I think I should be helping do other things,” I would say to chide her.

“Moses says it’s best when you help me, Mr. Sunshine!”

I imagine Moses did.

Formalities having been given, we were off to our work.

The herb garden, Emily’s domain, was composed of four raised beds, ten feet by twenty, with three feet in between. For the most part, I was simple labor. It was the only time I wore blue jeans and a work shirt.

Agnes thought that was cute. “Oh, look at my little working man!” she would exclaim.

I would ignore her.

Having weeded, trimmed and culled the herbs, we sat on the corner of the northwest bed. Emily used this time to pepper me with questions.

“Do you like your brothers, Mr. Sunshine?”

“I don’t really know my brothers, Emily. Sterling was only seven when I left and Isaac was a baby. Jacob wasn’t even born yet. Why do you ask?”

“I have a sister and brother, but I don’t know them very well either. They’re my father’s kids,” she said.

“Then I guess he didn’t ask you first, huh?”

“No,” she admitted, rather sullenly.

The crows were squawking in the trees behind us.

“How come you were away so long? Was it bad? I heard the adults talking about you,” she said, as if that justified the question.

“Yes, people like to talk.”

She waited for me to actually answer her question.

I had no interest in answering.

“Well?” she tapped my leg.

“I don’t know that you’re old enough for me to explain…” I demurred.

“I’m very mature for my age,” she stated as a matter of fact. “Is it because you got your girlfriend pregnant?”

I laughed at that. “No. Well, I wasn’t proud of that, but that’s not the reason I left—”

“Then why?”

“You’re not going to let go of this are you?”

“No.”

“And if I don’t tell you? What will you do then?”

Emily crossed her arms and pondered this deep question. “I’ll keep asking,” she said.

“Interesting. What if I never answer?”

“Oh, I think you will, Mr. Sunshine, I think you will.”

Our test of wills continued.

©2019 David William Pearce

Carleton's Porch

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—”

“Me?”

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