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Oh! The Joy! Our contest will have all entries posted in just a few hours (it takes me about an hour to read, find unsuitable graphics and totally unrelated you-tube videos to illustrate each story, and post).
We have had between 60 and 70 entries to honor our beloved Peggy Dobbs, who did not start submitting her writing to the public until the advanced age of 77, and all through A Word with You Press. It was she who inspired our First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest, and the prompt I swear, it’s not too late.
This is Kenneth Weene’s final entry and chance to become a finalist. Remember, as of this posting, I have yet to make up my mind who the finalists will be. (translation: I like Sumatra coffee, Sam Adams with a slice of lime, various positions, and chocolate–I swear, it’s not too late.) Please take this opportunity to let our community know who you think should make the finals by posting your comments here:
Kenneth has channeled his inner cowboy for this story. Let’s see if you can think he can go the full eight seconds!
Round ‘Bout Forks
She was gone. No question ‘bout it. Only her scent was left, and that getting weaker by the minute.
Cole hunches himself to the porch and settles into the rocker. He’d bought it for Moon two calving seasons ago, when he’d announced he’d had enough of work and ridden into Forks for an afternoon at Pete’s that turned into a week or two lost. Cole, knowing she’d be ticked, brought her that rocker he’d bought from that city peddler whose wagon was piled with stuff guilty husbands might think would make a difference.
Moon had never sat in the rocker, least not while Cole was around.
That hadn’t been the first time nor the last Cole had gone on a drunk. He’d earned the right. Didn’t he work goddamn hard? Not that Moon didn’t do her share what with cooking and washing and cleaning; but that weren’t like a man’s work. Wrangling cows and horses, calving, roping, branding: all that work sure put a dust in a man’s throat. So what if he had a need to wash it down?
Most times, when he’d been taking those holidays, Moon had hired Harrison’s middle boy, name of Jackson—but everyone called him Jake, to sleep in the barn and take care of things. Jake was a fair hand, not someone you’d trust your spread to, but someone who could pitch in when there was a need. He could mow better than most and rode that paint of his well enough. Biggest problem with Jake was he spent too much time looking. Didn’t matter if it was the cows out in the pasture, the corn growing, or Moon doing the wash in that metal tub she’d insisted they buy from Tip Stephans when he and his missus sold out and went back East to be with her brother’s family.
Cole had to admit he didn’t mind watching Moon do the wash neither. The wet clothes clinging to her, outlining every curve and bump till he wanted to walk by and give her a pat that said she was his and a second that promised something more to come that night.
Truth was Cole cherished Moon’s body, visiting it as often as she’d allow—whooping and hollering when they was finished and feeling like that bull McPherson had bought from the Scotsman, the one that came all the way from England. Weren’t that bull a wonder?
Piss and vinegar, that was what the Scotsman had promised, and if McPherson’s Beauty was the evidence, the man hadn’t lied. Of course, there was the hullabaloo every time that bull got loose and went after every cow from one side of the county to the next. There’d been arguments and lawsuits about who owed who. Luke Johnson claimed that bull had killed his prize heifer, the one he was keeping right there in the barn. McPherson wanted Harrison to pay some kind of stud fee for a whole herd full of hell’s-a-poppin’ mischief.
Cole never said anything, but he knew for sure that quite a few of his own cows had been seeded not by his Lucifer but by the best bull in the county. Not that he was complaining nor talking about it. What McPherson didn’t know was good enough for Cole.
Sometimes, when he’d get back from Forks, his head still spinning and his stomach heaving, Cole had suspicions about what might have happened what with Harrison’s boy being such a watcher and Moon being so good to look at. Sometimes, when he got back, he’d ask one and then the other; but they would laugh—the boy embarrassed and Moon like he was out of his head with the drink and all.
Next day, that boy would be gone back to his pa’s and the matter would rest. And every time, Moon would say, “I ain’t the one sneaking off. What about them whores you been sleeping with?” And Cole would hunch up and not say nothing ‘cause truth was he usually could remember a whore or two and him feeling pretty damn good about it.
Two, three times a year that story played. Sometimes he brought back a gift, like the rocker or the tea set that set on the mantle, real bone china it was—things she didn’t want and wouldn’t use. Sometimes Cole just brought himself. Either way Moon would wait a day or two simmering angry, shoving his food on the table and not allowing him to touch her. Finally, she’d tell him he stank of whiskey and whores and everything he’d done wrong. She’d fill that metal tub with water hot enough to scald the sin out of him, and he’d take a bath while she stood there talking about how he needed to have his head stove with a skillet and him not daring to argue a word of it.
Then they’d whoop and holler and have a good old fuck and life would be the way it was supposed to, and Cole would tell her he’d quit drinking and hiding into Forks. “I swear it’s not too late,” he’d say.
And Moon would say, “uh-huh,” like she didn’t feel anything about his promise since she knew it wouldn’t be. She’d say how they owed the boy for his work and how he saved her from so much sorrow, and Cole would say the boy had been paid fair enough.
Tomorrow, Cole’ll ride over to Harrison’s and ask the boy to take care of the place for a few days whilst he goes after her. Course he’ll find her; and course she’ll come back ‘cause she loves him. Maybe before he sets out, he’ll stop by Forks and buy his Moon something nice. Hell, he won’t even have a drink. Well, maybe he’ll just buy a bottle to take along—just something to keep up his spirits while he’s tracking.
Hell, young Jake won’t mind doing a job of work. What else did a boy have to do?