The note was written in a scrawl


Previous chapter: Maggie discovers her sister Joddie is a sex performer in Crooks Tail. Afterwards in a fit of confusion and lust, she loses her virginity to River Boy.
River Boy, smitten with Maggie and afraid she might tell her family about his careless actions, agrees to go to Crooks Tail and see if he can bring Joddie back.


Chapter 10) Joddie comes for Sunday lunch
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Maggie woke up early next morning not believing what happened in Crook's Tail.
She looked out the second-floor bedroom window and saw her mother working in the garden.
There were rows of sunflowers, beans and carrots.
The tomatoes were big this summer.
A rabbit fence, hand pump with galvanized buckets for watering, cement cistern,
lustrum hedge, clothesline, the stone sidewalk out to the garage where the neighborhood tomcats lived, the garden swing they built after the outhouse was torn down.
It all felt so normal.

Through the transom above her bedroom door she could hear her father walking downstairs.
Maggie could feel him thinking about her. She sat back on the bed and got dressed.
Her whole life changed in one night.
She wanted to ask her older sister about Joddie, but with the new baby and Howard working with her father ... it was impossible.

Maggie finished dressing and ran downstairs, yelling on her way out, I'm going to Becky's.
Joel got to the front door in time to see Maggie running down the street.

River Boy woke up late. He was supposed to get up early and go fishing with Grandpa.
He felt bad about missing him, but he would catch up later.
 
Maggie was nagging him. She was beautiful and he liked pushing her knees up and opening her breasts to the night sky, but she was too noisy. Crooks Tail offered no mercies in the night. They were lucky the men in the parking lot didn't beat him and take her off on the ground. Even more lucky that she was with him later when Ranny and Dack saw him in Top Hat's car.
It was bad to push luck that far.
The promise to get Joddie out of Crooks Tail was foolish.

Bob and Joddie came for lunch at Maggie's on Sunday.
They stepped out of a big new Buick.
Joddie wore a tailored blue dress.
She sparkled in the sunlight. Her white skin against the dark dress and her mother's cross replaced by a silver and opal pendant.
She and Bob were a spectacle walking up the stone steps with his sequined suit, jet black hair and shiny shoes, and a smirk on his face to match.
Joel knew something was wrong with his sweet Joddie.

The men sat down in the parlor, choosing opposite chairs waiting in a war of silence, while Maggie and Joddie helped their mother set up lunch in the dining room.
A late church function kept Howard and Maggie's older sister away.
Bob was exposed by the alcohol and careless manner of his life, each day wondering how big his score would be, never bothering to add the losses.
He wanted and loathed what Joel had. The wood floors, plush center carpet, high ceilings, and formal chandeliers ... it was not a standing. Not an accomplishment. Nothing to Bob. He wanted to go outside for a smoke.

Lunch was served at great grandmother's table. They had the carpenter glue one of the legs and the upholstery man recover the chairs with a floral silk fabric the year before. The china and polished silver service were handed down from Joel's mother before she passed. It was displayed behind the glass doors of the china cabinet that stood against the wall. His family brought it over from France in the 1700's when they settled in Louisiana.

The table was laid perfectly with flowers in the center, fresh turkey from the butcher and buttered green peas from the garden. Maggie's mom spent all day Saturday getting it ready. Making the breaded dressing and gravy. The potato salad came from her secret recipe using farm eggs, milk, butter, ketchup dressing, mayonnaise and onions. Lunch was topped off with fresh-squeezed lemonade. It was the family's favorite when the girls were little.

Maggie sat across from Joddie and kept seeing the tragedy in her eyes.

After lunch Joddie wanted to talk on the side porch.
They walked down the hall, away from the kitchen and dining room and went outside, shutting the door behind them. The porch had a varnish beadboard ceiling that needed a bit of repair in the corner because of a leak. Joel and Howard had it on their schedule to fix, but with work and the new baby expected soon, there wasn't time.
Sheltered from the rain and summer heat, it used to be a beautiful place for evening sits, but the family stopped going after the brother's death.
Joddie chose the large double seat at the far end and Maggie sat down next to her. The smell of roses came through the screen.

Maggie couldn't hold back, she whispered, what are you doing?
Joddie said, Bob knows.
He doesn't care?
He takes me there. You were there. What were you doing?
Maggie couldn't think what to say. It's not the same.
Yes it is.

There was silence for a long time.
Neither could remember the last time they talked.
Their mother brought out iced tea. Maggie got up and closed the door after her mother left.

Maggie said, it's not the same because a friend took me there. Did you tell Bob that I saw you?
No.
How often to you go there?
It's none of your business. How often do you go? And who were you with?

Maggie said, that was the first time and I'm never going back.
Joddie looked away.

There were no words to explain it. Joddie could not separate sex and life.
She wanted children. She wanted a family. She wanted all the things they used to dream about.

Maggie could see her sister was starting to cry.
She reached out and Joddie leaned her head on Maggie's shoulder. They hugged and sobbed away the glitter of Joddie's distained life, but it would never be enough.
Her mother heard them. Joel and Bob were washing dishes in an impossible cooperation of duties.
Inside the house was quiet.

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