Sunday, February 6, 2011

Excerpt - page 99, The Spur & The Sash

Excerpt - page 99, The Spur and The Sash

The Spur and The Sash will be reviewed at the Dew on April 11, 2011.

Noah quickly glanced out the window. Slive was still at the privy.

Once more to the desk, shuffling through papers. Still nothing. Damn. Where then? The chair. He tipped it and it slid unevenly across the old carpet. The carpet! One corner was torn and curled under. Noah lifted it, rolling it back. Underneath, he found a board rubbed smooth at one edge and pried it up with his fascine knife. In a small hollow he found money, a revolver, and sheaths of papers. He shuffled through them quickly, found the blank bills of sale, stuffed one inside his shirt, left the rest, and carefully replaced the carpet.

He made it back into the kitchen just as the door opened. “Coogin get a new horse?” Noah asked.

“Coogin works for me.” Slive wiped his fingers in the folds of his shirt and sat heavily in the old chair. “What he gets, I gets.”

Noah paced the wooden floor, boards creaking beneath his worn boots, as he tried to find an angle, struggled to think of some leverage. “Hope you’re not keeping them in that shed there. Them Yanks’ll find them for sure.”

Slive tipped the bottle to his lips. Whiskey dribbled across his beard and left tracks in the dirt of his neck, as if worms sought shelter in his collar. “Them horses is well hid, and that’s where they is staying.” He sponged a biscuit through his bowl, then sucked the last swallow from the bottle. “Got me a hiding spot,” he said, his voice raspy and sour like old cider. “An old cave. Caught me some niggers in it once. They was running and that’s a fact.” He squinted through the alcohol haze and tilted his chair, his contentment evident, contentment with his hiding spot, and his stupor, and himself.

Noah said, “I ain’t got money to buy one. Army ain’t been paying for over half a year.”

Slive grinned, bits of turnip between amber teeth. “Army don’t pay deserters now, do they?”


- Robert Grede