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Morgan County Morning

(This is the first chapter of a fiction book I have written.  The setting is in Morgan County, Ohio.  The publishing date has not been set.  It will go on sale sometime this summer, I hope.)


Chapter One

Pops smashed his gnarled fist into his open left palm. The worn metal clasp on the stainless steel Bulova Chronograph which fit his wrist nicely although it would have been too big for most men, sprang apart, sending the timepiece skittering across the wooden planks of the porch floor.

“He knows betta! You know he knows betta!” His eyes flashed steel. There was no charm in his Georgian drawl, only anger laced with pain. “I guess I raised a fool, didn’t I?” He stood and slowly paced to the railing, his boots leaving muddy deposits with each step. Laboriously stooping down to pick up his watch, he couldn’t stop the briny tears that blurred his sight.

Cindy closed her eyes so she couldn’t see her husband’s misery. “Now, Pops, the Bible says don’t call anyone a fool,” she began. “I—“

“I know what the Bible says, Cindy. Forgive me, okay? I’m jist so torn up right now that I cain’t think straight.”

“We’re all torn up, Pops.” When Carson became a dad, Cindy started calling her husband Pops. “Cassie’s hurt, and little Joe—”

Pops jerked his head towards his wife. “Little Joe? He don’t know, does he?”

Cindy’s eyes closed tighter. “He heard me and Cassie talkin’. I shoulda been more careful, but I couldn’t help myself.” Her hand covered her mouth as she shook her head.

Pops’ sigh trailed off into silence. The southeastern Ohio air now heavy at twilight, normally a pleasant folding of the day when rural families ate their suppers and talked quietly, offered no sympathy. The incessant clicking of cicadas and the bullfrogs belching obscenely down at the pond’s edge would usually draw a comment at this time ofday. This evening, nothing—not even the diesel engine of Wally’s late herbicide application across the road a half mile down— penetrated the dark thoughts of Carson and Cindy Morgan.

“Well, Babes, what are we gonna do?” Pops finally broke the silence.

“We’re gonna pray, that’s what we’re gonna do.” Cindy dabbed her nose with some shredded tissue she dug out of her apron pocket. “That’s all I know to do.”

“I know, I know, Babes, but we gotta do something. I want to be mad. I want to kick his backside all the way to Zanesville and back.” Pops arms encircled Cindy’s slight form and they clung to each other.

“But I can’t be mad. Well, part of me is, but—“

Cindy interrupted. “But part of you knows betta. Right?”

Pops smiled in spite of himself. “You don’t miss a shot, do ya?”

Cindy grinned back and stared up into his eyes. “I know you Carson Morgan. And I know you’re gonna figure this out.”

“Nope. That’s where you’re wrong, Lady. Me…and Jesus…and you!”

“And you don’t miss a shot neither!” Cindy slipped from his arms and went back into the house. She didn’t catch the screen door in time and it slammed hard against the jamb. The noise drowned out the anguish of an old man’s heart. (Forty-five isn’t old, but today he felt seventy.) Good timing. He couldn’t stifle his groan in time either.

Pops grabbed the door handle to follow his wife inside. The phone rang. He relinquished his grip and dropped his arm to his side. He stood in place, listening to Cindy’s tearful voice. Probably the pastor. Backing up, he eased into his rocker. “I cain’t deal with this, Lord. Not yet.”

Morning, he hoped, would bring relief.

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