Excerpt for Soutee by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Part One

© Dale Wiley, 2017


Other works by Dale Wiley:

There Is a Fountain (Paperback)

There Is a Fountain (e-book)

The Intern (Paperback)The Intern (e-book)

The Intern (audiobook)

Sabotage (Paperback)

Sabotage (e-book)

Southern Gothic (Hardcover)

Southern Gothic (e-book)

Coming Soon:

The Jefferson Bible

Copyright © 2017 Dale Wiley

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We was drunk as trainrobbers by nine in the morning as we glided on down the highway heading for Mt. Vernon. It was me, my secretary Janice and little Donna Phelps. I had had the pleasure of Donna’s company the night before, but had picked up Janice before we left for good measure. Nothing like having a spare just in case. I had the top down on my red 1973 Cadillac Eldorado, and the sun was terrible hot. I imagined it wouldn’t be long before one or the other of my companions would be taking off some of those cumbersome items of clothing that they were currently wearing, and they was already plenty uncovered.

Donna kindly favored clothing skimpy enough that if a disco broke out, she would be right in style. Her cut-off shorts were right and left little to my over-taxed imagination, and the halter top told the rest of the story. Janice wore jeans and a blouse that looked elegant and timeless.

“This,” said Janice, making sure she would be compensated, “Is a helluva way to spend a work day.”

It was a glorious morning, towards the hind end of April, and the world was as green as the felt on a poker table. My clematis was goin’ crazy back at the house, and so were the magnolia blossoms, although I was highly disappointed in my attempts at orchids. They was making me look kind of shabby, and I didn’t appreciate that. I was half-beginning to think they just wasn’t going to grow in southern Missouri, and that would mean I owed a lot of apologies among my friends with green thumbs, who had been telling me that very thing for a whole year. If they didn’t work out, I would try some Rattlesnake Plantain orchids next, which were supposedly native to our region.

The year was 1978, I believe, or maybe ‘79. Donna put the Waylon Live album in the eight track, and there we was transfixed by Waylon singing Jimmie Rodgers. T for Texas, T for Tennessee. If there’s a better album in the world you tell me what it is and I’ll fight you for it. I know that one by heart, and I’m especially partial to that song, when Waylon is tellin’ you about that damned old Thelma, the one who made a wreck out of him. Waylon is playin’ those loud, syncopated lead runs all low down on his guitar, and ol’ Mooney - who once wrote “Crazy Arms,” the Hillbilly National Anthem, takes the steel lead and runs away with the thing. I can’t sing but I sure tried. Donna gave me a kiss on the cheek, and Janice looked all jealous. I pretended to tip my cowboy hat to her, which I had removed due to the convertible, and she blushed. All was good. Least, I hoped it was, because the Judge was behaving all unusual.

All I knew was that he wanted to see me, and that he was goin’ to send me to Memphis. That was all right by me: it was Friday, and I didn’t intend to work anyway. I believe that any work done on a Friday is arbitrary, capricious and communistic, and if I did much of anything other than sit around and pour a finger or two of Maker’s Mark for my lawyer friends, you can be sure it was a jury trial or something terrible important. Otherwise, I’d try to high-tail it on out, to Okie City, or Hot Springs, or somewhere where there was cold beer and warm women, my two main requirements. I have a few others, like the aforementioned good country music and the Cardinals on the radio, but a man must have his core values. Mine are cold beer and warm women, not necessarily in that order.

I guess I was half-curious, because, like I said, it was a little strange for Judge Pinnell to ask me over like this. I had gotten the message the night before: Get the hell over here when you get up, and be prepared to be gone this weekend. Sounded like my kind of assignment.

We pulled into about three parking spaces on the square, and I slithered out from behind the wheel. The girls were going to stay and play the radio and sun themselves, which was all right by me. I snuck a peek at them as I headed in. Boy, they was shiny! Donna was showing off her blond hair, somehow managing to keep that blue halter top up where the State of Missouri wanted it. Janice’s dark brown hair and darker eyes melted my heart. I always say don’t ride your breedin’ stock and don’t breed your ridin’ stock, but Janice had been hunnin’ up to me a little more lately and I just might make an exception. If you’re goin’ to make a mistake, make sure it’s a hell of a good story. Trouble is, even with that extra hunnin’ Janice made it really hard to tell if she’d really go through with it. She always played it close, and that made her all the more desirable.

I put my cowboy hat on, then just as quickly took it off when I came to the threshold of the courthouse, a marble edifice of considerable importance to me. I had tried jury trials, settled personal injury cases and otherwise been a defender of the accused in that place. A “defender of the accused” is just a defense attorney, but somebody told me that, and I just thought that sounded a lot more influential, so I adopted it into my vocabulary. The place had been built around the turn of the century, back when we could build impressive places that fit their function. I don’t think we can do that anymore. Just give us wood paneling and air conditioning and we’re all fine. My boots caused a scene every time they hit another oak stair, and I sounded like I was trailing a dozen head of cattle, but I finally made it up to the second floor, where I got to play to my audience.

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