So, a few weeks ago, I wrote about my appearance on WRBH Reading Radio (link here). That appearance is now up on Soundcloud (link here). Two disclaimers:
- It opens with a reading of the first chapter of The Trouble on Highway One, which contains a bit of singing. Yes, sorry, I do sing for a bit. It’s warbly, but honest.
- The full recording is close to 30 minutes. After Chapter 1 of TOHO, which takes less than ten minutes, I read the first chapter of The Incident Under the Overpass, and then a bit from Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
And since The Trouble on Highway One is now available on Amazon (link here) and Barnes & Noble.com (link here), I’m not giving anything away by publishing Chapter 1, Part 1 below. It opens with a decades-old mystery that our heroine, Lacey Becnel, gets drawn into.
I’ll publish Chapter 1, Part 2 next week at this time!
South of Cut Off, Louisiana
One summer in the mid-twentieth century
Birdie drove down Louisiana Highway One, the same stretch of highway she’d driven a thousand times before, it seemed. Galliano to Larose in the evening. Larose to Galliano in the morning.
Ga-dunk. She passed over a crosspiece for a bridge over Bayou Lafourche. Ga-dunk, over the other side of the bridge.
The night was complete darkness, no moon, the sky swathed in an inky haze. She’d left the Becnels late, waiting for Mr. Becnel to return home from a business trip.
She imagined the lights from her truck’s headlights were the only lights for miles around.
You are a light for the world. Light your lamp where it shines for everyone.
The actual Bible verse was a little different, she knew. But that was how Momma used to say it to her. When she talked about her gift.
Birdie smiled wistfully. She still missed her mother. But she still felt her with her.
She missed Momma, but she didn’t feel empty. Just like she’d never felt empty about Daddy. Her father—the source of her gift—had died when she was very young. Barely old enough to remember him. But he had passed on his traiteur ability to his little daughter, just learning to move in the world. It was Momma, and her brother, Ronnie, who had taught her the lengths, and the limits, of her ability. But Daddy always seemed present, especially in Momma’s and Bubba’s memories.
Now it was her mother who seemed present. Right now. She thought of Ronnie, and was glad she had just seen him recently. She thought of young Cecil, his precious son. A young man, now. Several years older than she was when Daddy passed the gift to her.
She reached for the radio dial. She’d reached the spot on the highway where she could pick up the radio station in New Orleans. And she was in luck, they were playing one of her favorites. “Amazing Grace.”
She looked to her empty passenger seat and imagined Momma sitting right there. They would sing together.
Birdie hummed along, until the last passage. Then she sang aloud, her voice like salted honey. A warm, earthy, resonant note.
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.”
Birdie didn’t see the man standing in the road until it was too late. Too late for her.