Sunday, August 30, 2015

Blood Cries: Chapter 3

“Come along children.”  A woman in her early thirties led a boy and a girl, ages eight and twelve, up the three front steps of a small brick home.  She rang the bell.  A few seconds later, the door opened as far as a chain would allow.

“Ms. Harper?” The woman asked.  “Louella Harper?  Is it you?  Oh, I just can’t believe it.”

“Yes, what do you want?” asked the woman in the sliver of doorway.  She was about fifty years old with a face full of lines and gray streaks rapidly replacing the black in her hair.

“Oh, Ms. Harper.  My children just love your book.”

Louella eyed the picturesque family standing in front of her. The vacant eyes of the children declared their boredom.  Most likely, they’d been dragged here after church, while their father, no doubt, raced ahead to watch a football game on television.  The mother was a blonde former debutante who spoke in a voice made of unsweetened ice tea mixed with lemonade.  She cradled a copy of Louella’s novel under her arm.

“I don’t sign autographs,” Louella said.

“I know it must be such an imposition having people come up to your door like this,” the mother offered.

“You know, it really is,” Louella said.

“It’s just that your book has meant so much to me and my family.  It changed my life.”

Louella’s eyes fell to the paperback, a pocket edition with an unbent spine and two hundred and seventy pages that had never been turned.

“Like I said, I don’t sign autographs.  If I did, I’d have people coming up here all day long.  I’d never get any peace.”

“Oh please.  It would mean so much to us.”

Louella closed the door long enough to remove the chain.  

The debutante beamed at her children, whose expressions remained unchanged.  

The door opened again, this time wide enough for Louella to lean against the door frame. She reached into the pocket of her apron and fished out a cigarette.

“What is it going to take to get rid of you people?” She asked.  She rolled the flint of a disposable lighter until it sparked an ember.

“Excuse me?” asked the debutante.

“Look Honey, I haven’t published a goddamned word in fifteen years, and I honestly don’t give a damn what you think of that book under your arm, or even if you've read it, which I doubt," Louella blew a smoke stream into the air above their heads.  "And unless I’m mistaken…”  She stepped out on the porch and stared at the space above her front door.  “Nope.  I don’t see a sign that says, ‘Ignorant People please bring your fat, ugly children up to my home so you can bother me.'" She turned and glared at the debutante.  "So why don't you just move along.”

The debutante's mouth dropped open.  For the first time, a spark of interest animated the faces of her children.

“Excuse me?”  She looked from Louella to her kids and then back again.  “There are children present.”

“I know, and I, for one, think it’s horrible that their mother would expose them to such vile language.  I urge you to get them as far away from here as possible."  Louella flicked her cigarette into the yard. 

Sparks and ashes rained down on the woman, who leaped backwards and frantically brushed the front of her blouse with her hands. 

Louella stepped into the house and slammed the door.  She waited a moment in the foyer, listening to the debutante's final utterance.


Louella smiled.  She listened to the sound of footsteps retreating down her front porch steps. 

“You enjoy that too much.”

Louella’s smile faded.  She looked over at Lydia standing in the door to the kitchen holding a cup of chamomile.  “You think I enjoy constant harassment?  You publish one book and people think they own a part of your life.”  She brushed passed her partner and scooted into the kitchen.

Lydia followed.  “I know a million writers who would trade places with you in about two seconds.”

“Well, who wouldn't want all this?  Between monthly golf games and weekly trips to the Piggly Wiggly, we're living a life of luxury.”

“Other people might actually enjoy the money and fame.”

Louella reached into the cabinet.  A second later a tea cup rattled into a saucer.  “Is that what this is about?  You aren’t happy with our life?”

Lydia’s eyes rolled around the room and then settled on a stack of mail.  She plucked a piece of stationary from a pre-sliced envelope.

“You got a letter from that lawyer again.”

“You’re changing the subject,” Louella said.  “What lawyer?”

“Melvin Little.  The one who wants you to write a book about the Voodoo man.”

Louella reached for the letter.  “What Voodoo man?”  She rapidly scanned each line.  “I think I read something about this in the Montgomery paper.”

Lydia cautiously stirred her tea.  “Do you think it’s something you might like to write about?” 

Louella continued to study the letter.  “I don’t know.  Maybe.”  She flipped over the page.  “He really does a number trying to sell this thing: murder, revenge, voodoo, and, he says, a courtroom drama to rival the one in my book.”

“Even if you don’t write another book,” Lydia offered, “it might be an interesting way to pass the time.”  She added, “And it would keep Caroline off your back for a while.”

“Goddamn agents,” Louella muttered.  “I’d pay a million dollars never to have to talk to another one.”

“It’s something to think about,” Lydia said.  A crease formed at the corner of her mouth.

“Maybe,” Louella said.  She continued to study the letter.

Go to Chapter 4

No comments:

Post a Comment