Jilo

Jilo by J.D. Horn Read Free Book Online

Book: Jilo by J.D. Horn Read Free Book Online
Authors: J.D. Horn
from her house, just beyond the tree line. She went back to the shed to fetch Reuben’s old shovel, then did her best to give the poor child a good Christian burial.
    May never spoke of that night, not to a living soul.

SIX
    June 1935
     
    The sound of an arriving automobile prickled May’s sensitive ears and caused the little hairs on the back of her neck to rise. Not only was Sunday the Lord’s Day, it was also May’s single day off. She’d only just settled into her favorite armchair, the sole thing she’d inherited from her mama. The armrests and headrests were still covered with doilies her mama had tatted. May had spent the morning praising, and she’d hoped to spend the afternoon collecting her own thoughts, maybe even dozing a bit, while hiding from the heat. The car horn blew. She drew a fortifying breath and pushed herself up.
    She cast a glance in the mirror and patted back her hair, then used her palms to straighten out the creases in her skirt. Who the hell would be coming by now? she wondered, opening the front door and leaning toward the screen. The searing light of the early-afternoon sun bore down hard, squashing the shadows of everything beneath it flat to the earth, then flared up as it reflected off the hood of a shiny new black car. The flash dazzled her eyes. The driver slowed, doing his best to avoid the ruts in the yard.
    May felt her jaw tighten. She didn’t recognize the car—most folk around here couldn’t afford a rusting Tin Lizzie, let alone one of the new chrome barges with round fenders. She crossed her arms tight over her chest and took a wider stance. She bit her lower lip. She didn’t recognize the face of the porkpie-hatted dandy driving the car, but she sure as shooting recognized the face of the fool woman sitting beside him, in spite of her dyed-red Myrna Loy hairdo. The car came to a stop, and the driver killed the engine. May pushed through the screeching screen door and went to stand on her front porch, knowing damned well that while the fading haint blue her mama had made her paint the overhang might keep away the boo hags, it wouldn’t do diddly to keep out this Jezebel, this murderer.
    Her eyes locked with Betty’s, but Betty looked away and turned to face the car’s backseat. The door behind Mr. Porkpie opened. May’s grandbaby Poppy slid out and ran to her, arms outstretched. “Nana Wills,” the girl cried, and the love May felt caused her heart to leap in her breast. The car’s other back door opened, and Opal climbed out with Jilo in her arms.
    Coward , May thought, returning her focus to the woman who used to be her daughter-in-law. Sending the children first. Jilo squirmed in her sister’s arms, and Opal sat her on her feet, taking the tiny girl’s arm as she tottered along. Poppy bounded up the steps, and May knelt and took her in her arms, placing a thousand kisses over the girl’s sweet face.
    May heard the car’s front doors open, and she looked up to see that Porkpie had moved around to the car’s rear. He popped the trunk while Betty swung her nylon-covered legs out and found footing. She took a few sauntering steps toward the house, barely covered by a new and way-too-tight crimson dress. “It’s good to see you, May,” she said, her tone guarded. She held her head back and a bit to the right, looking down her nose at May. Her eyes were challenging, but a smile parted her haughty face.
    May had to fight the urge to fly from her porch, across the patchy dry grass, and slap Betty’s smile right off her. Seeming to read May’s struggle, Betty stopped a good distance back. This woman. This harlot . She had begged, coaxed, and harangued Jesse, threatening to leave him unless he moved his family to Charleston. Roosevelt’s New Deal money had begun floating into the state through the South Carolina Emergency Relief Administration, and rumor had it there were going to be riches for everyone, white and colored alike. The fool girl had thought

Similar Books

The Sword Dancer

Jeanne Lin

Afterburn

Colin Harrison

The Peppered Moth

Margaret Drabble