In BURNT on December 27, 2010 at 8:10 pm


“Don’t you fear, little girl.  Your father knows these mountains.  Hell, he was born in ‘em.  Did he ever tell you that story?”

Josey feels uncomfortable on the old man’s lap.  She knows the arm around her shoulder is meant to comfort and assure, but it feels stiff and unnatural.  She’s glad Candace is here in the study – she’s glad she’s not alone with her grandfather.

“Hand me down that photograph over my desk.”  Candace passes him the faded photo of a one-room cabin standing alone in a deep valley.  “Oblaye H^tayetu Naghi, the Hopis called it, ‘The Valley Of The Evening Soul.’”

Her grandfather’s eyes fix on a distant memory.  ”It was a long time ago. I was a much younger man. About your father’s age. I spent an entire summer building that cabin with my own hands. It was hard work, and I was often lonely. When it was done, I was pretty proud. I brought my wife, your grandmother, to see it. Our first real home away from the city, away from the university, away from my work. A place where we could start, where we could build something. In fact, we were already expecting our first child. We were happy.”

A storm seems to gather and he pauses.  “That night, she went into labor. Six weeks premature. All the way out there. Miles from a doctor, miles from anywhere. All alone.”

“What did you do?”

“I possessed the moment.  I delivered the baby myself!  That baby was your father.”

Josey can’t help herself.  She crawls from his arms into Candace’s.  Lucas doesn’t seem to notice, still living in that distant moment.


The bartender of the Silverlode laughs.  “You’re the third guy to ask about the Lucas place this week.”

The big man takes off his black-rimmed glasses.  He polishes the lens on his new flannel shirt.  “That the truth?”

“Last Friday, Lucas’ son walks in here, wants to know the way to the ranch.  Then yesterday, some young kid is asking the same question.”

Walker stops polishing.  “Tell me about this kid.”

The Story So Far

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