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Walk About, Chapter Three


Darlene Franklin-Campbell's new novel, Walk About, is being posted online chapter-by-chapter, for people to read for free. Previous Chapter: Walk About, Chapter Two: How to Get Rid of a Body, or start at the beginning: Walk About: Chapter One.

Chapter Three

By Darlene Franklin-Campbell

"Lord, I was born a ramblin' man," Ace sang along with the CD player as she drove toward Muskrat Cove. "Tryin' to make a livin' and doin' the best I can...."

"I wish you'd quit singing," Rosie whined from the passenger seat. "You're not a man, anyway."

"No, but I'm a rambler and so are you."

"I don't know why Pinky didn't want me to come help bury James Allen in the lake. He's my husband, not hers. She's never had a husband and...."

"She's protecting you," Ace said.


"She doesn't want me to see her and Clyde push him off the boat. I know. But I didn't even get to say good-bye."

"Since when does our family say that?" Ace said. "You had all afternoon to express your departing sentiments to your warden and abuser."

"And provider," Rosie said.

"Daddy used to say that it's better to live peacefully in a run-down RV with no toilet than in a six bathroom abode with criticism. So, why on earth would you put up with a man treating you the way he did? I mean you're young and beautiful and intel...well, you're young and beautiful."

"That's just it. I didn't want to live like we did when we were kids." Rosie said, "Always moving around in a crowded RV, people staring at us when we drove into towns, kids at school making fun of us, never staying anywhere long enough to make friends. I wanted nice things and well, you married into the same family and..."

"And had enough sense to get out of it."

"Yeah, but not before he talked you into doing something that really wasn't you."

"I don't regret going to finishing school, Rosie. It taught me some skills that came in very handy when I was dealing with lawyers and later, when I was closing the deal on the building I purchased for Butts, Buns and Breasts Pool Hall and Barbeque. Speaking of which, here we are."

Just a few yards in front of them, on the left side of highway 210, a lavender colored building made of concrete blocks beneath two pole lights advertised to the world that it was closed for the night with a lit sign in the window. A neon sign above the simple porch with its soda machines, purple benches and giant ashtrays, read "Ace's Butts, Buns and Breasts." A smaller line beneath it read, "best barbeque in the country."

"Is that building really purple or does it just look that way because of the lights?"

"It's purple," Ace said. "Even the rain in Ace Land is purple."

"Ace Land?"

"Ace Land is what I call the world according to me."

"So this is your little business?" Rosie asked.

"Yep." Ace said, opening the car door. "My pride and joy." She stood there for a moment staring at it.

Rosie got out, too. "Well, I'm sorry to interfere with everybody's lives and...."

"It's all right, Rosie. Georgie will run it. If I don't return, if anything happens to me, it's hers. I called her yesterday after you called me and told her that everything she takes in while I'm gone above operating cost is hers to keep. She's a good friend."

"You didn't tell her what was going on?"

"Like I said, she's a good friend. She didn't ask. Come on. Let's go in here and get some snacks for the road while we wait for Pinky and Clyde."

As Ace unlocked the door she said, "See that house across the road?"

"Yeah," Rosie said.

"See the salvage yard sign?"

"Yeah."

"That's where Clyde wants to take James Allen's car. It belongs to William Lawrence Grisham III. Everybody just calls him Bill. Anyhow, he spends a lot of time being drunk. His sisters, Effie and Essie, used to live with him, but last year they had a big fight. One day I was standing out here on this porch, talking to old man Dallas Williams and his little granddaughter. Her names' Feather. Feather O'banion.

"Anyway, I heard this big scream and looked up. Effie was running across the front yard over there, both hands up in the air. Essie was right behind her. Both of were screaming their heads off, hollering for somebody to call the law. Then Bill came out right behind them." Ace pushed the door open. "Come on. Grab a sack from under the counter and fill it up with stuff you like to eat that won't spoil? Like sodas, crackers, snack cakes."

"Pinky won't like this food," Rosie said. "You know she's always been health freak."

"We all have to make sacrifices," Ace said, pulling a couple of coolers from the closet. "Anyway, back to my story, Bill was naked as a jay bird...."

"Naked? Was he good-looking?"

"Only if you consider an uncooked, plucked turkey good-looking. He was chasing his sisters with a hatchet. I sent little Feather inside to have Georgie call the police. His sisters crossed the road safely but I swear I thought he was going to get hit by a car. He stopped right in the middle of the highway, dancing around, waving his jigglies at people.

"His sisters told me that he had been drinking vanilla extract, the good stuff, and got to talking about the IRS. Apparently, he was having to pay in on his income taxes and got the illusion that his sisters were working for the IRS and aimed to chop their hands off to make up for all the money they had stolen over the years. Anyhow, he got to the road, saw the traffic and got side-tracked from his original mission.

"By the time the cops arrived he was burning clothes in the middle of the highway and causing people to run out of the road to avoid hitting him. He danced around, spouting off nonsense, cussing, calling people rubber-neckers, until the police finally arrived."

Ace was putting ice in the cooler now. She paused and giggled. "It was so hilarious, Rosie. There was this young cop with red hair and freckles, looked like he just got out of high school or something, had one of those baby faces, you know. He said, 'hands up old-man,' and old Bill said, 'who you callin' old, you sumabeech, I'll eat ju for supper.' It took three cops to wrestle that skinny, drunk, eighty-two- year-old man down and get him cuffed. He was hitting them and cussing them and fighting like a baney rooster. They kept him in jail a month or so then let him out.

"If he had caught his sisters that day he really would have tried to chop their hands off."

"That's a funny story but why did the cops let him go?"

"He served his time. He was just arrested for being a public drunk and disturbing the peace. He's a mean man, Rosie. If he catches us messing around his junk yard. He'll probably shoot us."

"Then we better make sure he doesn't catch us."

"Yes. My thoughts exactly. So, that's where your skill set is going to come in."

"My skill set?"

Ace handed Rosie a tube of lipstick from a shelf behind the counter and blew her a kiss.


Darlene Franklin-Campbell, an Adair County native, holds an M.A. from Lindsey Wilson College but has also done post-graduate work in storytelling and literacy at Western Kentucky University and is an alumnus of Campbellsville University. She is a member of the Elizabeth Maddox Roberts Society, the Adair County Arts Council, The Adair County Genealogical Society, The Green County Genealogical Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Mysterium Society (an IQ society for linguists). She has attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop, WisCOn, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She currently teaches Art at the Adair County Primary Center. You may visit her webpage at https://www.dardet.com or her writer's blog at https://whisperingwind.blog to check out more of her work.


This story was posted on 2021-12-07 18:38:16
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