Too Many Women, Too Little Time

Today the third book in the Monk Buttman Mystery series comes out. As with the second book, A Twinkle in the Eyes of God, Too Many Women, Too Little Time, continues the Monk story from where the last one left off. (If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the first book, Where Fools Dare to Tread, introduces Monk and his being sucked into a doomed caper to recover “lost” money that isn’t lost. The second finds him helping his daughter find her runaway husband, who may or may not be part of a cult.)

The fun in writing a continuing series is that each book builds on the last, and the author can deepen the history and background of the characters. It also allows an opportunity to question and answer the foibles, good and bad, that the characters get themselves into. In Monk’s case, it’s being in love with two women at the same time and not being terribly honest about it, either with those involved or with himself.

Inevitably, worlds fall apart, and that’s the gist of book three: you can tell yourself all kinds of things, whether they’re true or not; whether you believe them or not, but sooner or later it’ll kick you hard in the shin and make you open your eyes.

To be honest, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of being in love with two people at the same time and how it almost always ends badly. (For those who may have had some success in this department, remember I did say almost.) There is no shortage of stories of such affairs, most of which turn on who gets chosen at the end. But what if you actually truly love them both? What if that drives you to avoid being honest about the situation? And what if the three of you allow it to fester by not facing how it really affect you?

Sooner or later.

It has also been something of a flashpoint for readers of the series. Most of the negative responses to Monk predominately revolve around his relationships with both Agnes and Judith, and whether he’s a two-timing weasel.

In a sense he is and is not. Both Agnes and Judith are aware of the other, and tacitly accept the situation. And while Monk isn’t hiding the fact, he isn’t shouting it out to the masses either. That doesn’t necessarily matter because everyone not named Agnes or Judith in Monk’s immediate circle are aware of it too, and most do not approve.

Consequently, Monk can only bob and weave for so long before it all blows up in his face. Which it does. And as life enjoys a good laugh at our expense, Monk also has to deal with a crazy rich guy, who very well may be running a con, an ex pressuring him to sell The Moonlight Arms (the old folks home he owns), and a young woman tied up with a gangster, who accuses Monk of having stolen her money.

Good times.

©2020 David William Pearce

It’s Your Turn To Clean

There was no denying the wall was dirty. It was time to clean.

The problem, as far as the staff was concerned, had more to do with the nature of the wall than the difficulty in cleaning it.

It was… different.

The room itself was nondescript as such rooms go, meant for little more than a place to put a bed. And rare was the guest who requested the room for the privilege of spending the night.

It was the portal that brought the customers rather than the room itself. It was interdimensional in the sense of many variants within the same space and moment, but also in regard to time/space fluidity. It was this unknown that brought the thrill seekers and the curious to the room in the first place, and arguments about whether it was better to time travel, or experience the same moment in multiple dimensions within the same time frame, were common.

But for the staff working at the hotel, it was the one room no one on staff wanted to clean. The manager was forever having to cajole or threaten in order to keep the room even remotely hygienic. Adding to the problem, the portal would routinely spit out all matter of ectoplasm and ephemera from the worlds on the other side.

So, on a bright sunny Monday, the staff was called together for a meeting to hash out what was to be done with room 13.

The manager, a short stout woman named Betty Dunbar, laid plain what was already known. “If we don’t keep the room clean, the Department of Health is going to shut us down.”

A murmur went through the room.

“I heard we were going to get robots for this,” a woman named Delores said.

Betty shook her head. “Too expensive and their union is too demanding.”

“Well. I’m not going in there,” Delores continued. “All that PPE makes me all sweaty and it’s hard to hear.”

“The health department assured us the ectoplasm is harmless,” Betty answered. “You don’t need to wear all that gear when cleaning.”

“I’m not touching that stuff; I don’t care what the health department says. They said the water was safe and look at Bennie,” she pointed to a man across from her, “he’s got three arms now.”

“No, I heard that’s because he went through the portal too many times in a row,” said Anck Su Namun.

“Bennie does not have three arms,” a frustrated Betty told them.

“Show ‘em, Bennie,” said Anck.

Bennie held up only two arms.

Betty crossed her arms. “Well?”

“I got better,” Bennie protested.

“What about Uriah? I thought this was his gig, man?” asked the Dude.

“Uriah got his programming degree and works off-world now,” Betty informed them.

A collective “Oh” went through the room.

“Off-world, man, or outer-rim?” pressed the Dude.

“There’s no difference,” said Xenophanes, the Alien from beyond the Moon. “It’s all the same. Trust me it’s just propaganda meant to make it look better than it is.”

Betty clapped her hands. “Were getting off point here, people.”

“I don’t think we should even bother,” complained Xenophanes. “The minute we’re done, some yahoo comes through and just messes it up again. Why aren’t we requiring our guests to clean up after themselves—”

“And how is it you can go back and forth without getting crap on you, but leave crap all around?” asked the Dude.

“It doesn’t matter,” an exasperated Betty said. “The guests pay very good money to use the portal and cleaning is a service provided.”

“What do they do on the other side?” The Group turned to Zebulon, who’d been quiet up till then.

“It’s not a hotel on the other side,” said Bennie.

“It could be though,” Xenophanes corrected. “That’s the beauty of interdimensionality.”

“I just want to get back to my explorers party,” a down-trodden Zeb said.

“Got to pay attention when you’re jumping, dude, otherwise you get stuck,” said Bennie.

“No, I’m the Dude,” said the Dude.

“I wasn’t talking to you, Dude,” Bennie chided.

“Again,” Betty said, trying to redirect the conversation, “we’re here to talk about getting the room clean.”

“See, that’s another thing,” added Delores. “I don’t want some crazy-ass grabbing me and pulling me through that thing, and don’t say it don’t happen cause I’ve had a few crazies try it.”

“You’re being too rigid, man,” the Dude counselled. “Expand your mind. You can do the rope thing, man—”

“Use nylon,” advised Bennie.

“You’re cutting in on me, man,” said the Dude.

“Sorry, Dude.”

“I’m allergic to nylon,” Delores said, “and the last thing I’m going to do is listen to a pair of potheads.”

The offended Dude shook his head. “Wow, that’s harsh, man, harsh, and we only imbibe after hours, man.”

“PEOPLE!” Betty shouted.

“Can’t shout at us, Betty, it’s in the contract,” Anck told her.

“Fine,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I tried to give you a say, and this is what I get. I posted the schedule and whoever’s on it, it’s your turn.”

Betty got up and left the room.

“Wow, so much negativity in this room, man,” said the Dude.

Anck Su Namun raised a dusty finger. “I have a potion we can give her.”

“Or some gummies,” advised the Dude.

“I’m not listening to any of this,” Delores said as she got up.

The others got up as well and slowly meandered around until the only two left were Xenophanes and Bennie.

“How come you don’t go back home, Xen?” Bennie asked.

“The nachos suck, man. Nothing but Soylent Green.” Xenophanes visibly shook as he thought about it.

“I don’t think Soylent’s too bad, “said Bennie.

Xen raised his long thick unibrow. “With synthetic cheese sauce?”

It was Bennie’s turn to shudder. “Yuck.”

©2020 David William Pearce

No Towels

A fun little short story about missing towels. Nothing makes a vacation troublesome like no towels

The tropical sun and the ocean breeze danced in the third-floor room the Townley’s had reserved. The sunlight shimmered along the greens, whites, and reds of the couch, chair, and bed facing the Pacific. With the sliding door open, the ocean breeze kept the heat at bay.

Dexter Townley stuck his head into the hallway after he inspected the bathroom. “I can’t find any towels”  

“I can’t believe there aren’t any towels,” his wife, Edith, said from the bedroom.

“Come look for yourself then,” he said.

Dex and Edie spent an unnecessary five minutes confirming that there were no towels in the suite.

“I’ll call down,” Edie said.

The young man at the front desk listened as Edie explained the situation. “That is quite strange,” the young man said. “We’ll have new ones brought up.”

Dex was anxious to get out to the beach which was part of the resort. “I say we take a walk.”

“Won’t we need a towel, dear?”

“I’m not suggesting we go in the water,” he said. “Just a walk.”

“I think I’ll stay here and sit on the balcony. It was a long flight and I’m tired.”

Dex frowned. “Yes, I remember you relaxing in the car as I brought up the luggage.”

Edie reached for her husband’s hand. “Now don’t be like that. We came down here to be free of the bickering for a while. I promise we’ll take plenty of walks. Alright?”

Dex took his wife’s hand and leaned in to kiss her. “You’re right.” He let go. “I’ll be back in a little while.”

***

The resort manager stood with the rest of the staff. No one knew quite what to do. Not only were there no towels, but now Edith Townley was nowhere to be found.

“I don’t understand,” the manager, a man named Frickee said. He turned to a small older woman. “Flora, you said you took up a new set of towels, yes?”

“Yes, I did. And the woman was there too,” she said.

“And that was less that two hours ago, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Well, my wife can’t have just disappeared,” an angry Dexter Townley said.

“I agree, Mr. Townley,” Frickee assured him, “and we’ll get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, I’ll have Flora bring up another set of towels.”

They left the angry Dexter Townley to his thoughts.

Along with the resort security man, Bromley, Frickee had the resort searched and the security tapes reviewed.

No Edith Townley.

“This is definitely odd,” Bromley said.

“What do we do?” an agitated Frickee asked. “Should we call the police?”

Bromley rubbed his chin. “We may have to. Still, I’d like to have another look in the room before we do. Maybe something was missed. I mean we’re relying on this man’s word, but we all know that sometimes people aren’t always truthful and sometimes people do bad things to one another.”

“Yes, sometimes they do,” Frickee agreed.

***

The room was empty. No Dexter Townley and no towels. The luggage of Dexter and Edith Townley remained by the door as it had when they came by earlier. The sliding door was open and the evening breeze swept the curtains to one side as the sun slid slowly behind the ocean’s edge.

“We’ve never had anything like this happen in my twenty-two years,” Frickee said as he rubbed his forehead. “We’re a nice family-oriented resort.”

“There’s always a first,” said Bromley, who began to methodically search the room.

Aside from the missing towels, nothing was out of place. The luggage was opened as well, and, as with the room, nothing was found amiss.

“I guess we call the cops,” Bromley said.

***

Some months later, long after the police had found nothing concerning the whereabouts of Dexter and Edith Townley, the young couple occupying the room returned from the beach to find a stack of clean towels on the bed along with a note:

I’m done with these. Thanks.

©2020 David William Pearce

Good Guy, Bad Guy?

Is your main character a good guy or a bad guy or somewhere inbetween? Or are they simply trying to cope with what the world throws at them?

I am working on the 6th Monk Buttman book. I’ve seen him and his family and friends through a number of trying circumstances. As a writer, that’s by design: Something interesting has to happen to keep the reader engaged. But as any writer will tell you, after a certain point, you inhabit your characters, you live and breath them, you know their history, and you know their quirks, where they do well, and where they do not.

I purposefully put Monk, and by extension those around him, into problematic situations. For some readers in the early books (1-3), this has to do with Monk being involved with 2 women at the same time. Some don’t like that, while others don’t seem too bothered by it. And this is among the women reading it, if that means anything.

But that was the point: What happens when you find yourself in love with 2 different people at the same time? Social convention says you have to pick one or the other, but social convention is a construct that some adhere to, and some don’t. It is in this context that the character of the character comes out, and it is there that readers tend to judge whether they like or dislike the character.

I meant Monk to be problematic in this regard. He isn’t thoughtless or mean-spirited, certainly not to Agnes, the woman he lives with, or to Judith, with whom he sees on occasion, or if you prefer, on the side. This is complicated by the attitudes of both Agnes and Judith, who are aware of each other, but are struggling with their own insecurities, as is Monk.

It doesn’t help that the 3 of them are not completely honest with themselves, or each other, and are notorious rationalizers, but I think that makes for a more interesting story and makes for more interesting characters.

Will it blow up in their faces? Of course it will, but we all knew that going in. It’s why we write and why we read.

I will say that initially I was surprised by some of the feedback and reviews, particularly those critical of Monk, but that’s to be expected. These aren’t romances, even though love and indeed romance are a part of the story. And some of that may be that the whole story of Monk and Agnes and Judith is not neatly wrapped up in one book, but extends across the first three and influences the others that follow. It may also be because Monk has issues (as we all do) and those issues don’t always make him look particularly good in light of his actions.

But as the writer and the person who knows him best, I can say, that his heart is in the right place.

©2020 David WIlliam Pearce

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