Tales from New Texas: Ela

You ever seen a dead body?

It’s all fat and puffy, and empty. Empty of pain. And empty of life.

That’s my daddy they’re burying there. I’ve been waiting for this day. To see if Quinten Gregory’d show his face. Or Ruby Scott. Or Charlee McDonough.

That woman wailing, and trying to keep from walking up closer to the grave is Miss Henry.

She used to be able to hold me just by one arm when I was a little girl. But I’m twelve now. Tallest girl in my class. Taller than the boys. And Miss Henry can’t hold me anymore. Quinten. Ruby. Charlee. One of them killed my father. And they think they’re going to get away with it because he doesn’t have anybody left. Anybody but me.

Be glad you weren’t there for the wake.

My dad was so handsome.

And not afraid of anything.

Except me growing up without a father like he did.

Better to remember him like he was. Badge. Gun. Standing tall. Every detail in his head. Every fact. The name of every man, woman, and child in New Texas.

The air’s dry today. It’s been dry.

But Quinten’s got mud caked on his boots like he’s been in a rainstorm. And Ruby’s wrapped up in a coat so big it looks like it could fit two of her. And Charlee, Charlee has that love in her eyes that’s supposed to be for her own husband. But that she pointed at my daddy.

The way she’s looking down at the grave now, as the groundskeeper throws the dirt on top of the casket, it’s a little bit of love mixed with a little bit of hate.

She’s got tears in her eyes, which makes me sick.

I’m the one that should be in tears.

But I don’t have any tears. Not yet. Not until I find out which one of them is responsible for leaving New Texas without a protector and me without a father.

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