The note was written in a scrawl
The previous chapter, Thomas Churchail can't forget a girl he met at
the summer party. He leaves before noon and drives to Trinity to find
the girl named Maggie.
Boy decides he loves Maggie and leaves his home before noon but is
delayed by an errand that sends him to the Wilkerson home where he
meets Susan who has run outside in her underwear to rescue Moby the cat
from a fight.
The delay ends after Susan runs back inside and hides
behind the door, but Thomas is already at Maggie's house. River Boy
arrives in time to see Thomas and Maggie drive past in his new car.
football game/ The Truth Card
Returning to town and cutting through alleys
to avoid the street, dejected and blind, he didn't see three men
hoisting a large piece of furniture down from the warehouse loft. The
men didn't see River Boy either and some level of calamity was about to
overtake his future when Mr Wikenson stepped out the back door of the
auction house to supervise the furniture drop, just in time to warn
River Boy, also remembering his wife Bethel's comment that their
daughter Susan needed a date to the high school football game that
Mr Wilkenson grabbed River Boy by the arm and pulled him into the shop.
His daughter's future on the line, he had to forget the priceless
antique armoire dangling out the back of the warehouse. He laid out the
plan and offered to let River Boy use the telephone, on the promise
that Susan not discover collusion by her parents. Instantly turning
from glum to stark confusion, River Boy agreed to call Susan.
Mr Wilkenson rushed out the back door.
River Boy kinda knew the basics of dialing a phone, but hadn't actually
used one. So he called Mr Wilkenson back inside, who explained it real
fast and went back outside. River Boy dialed the number and after
several rings Susan answered but River Boy didn't know how to start so
he hung up and called Mr Wilkenson back inside, who said dang boy, do
you want me to ask her for you? Just act natural. Then he went back
River Boy decided he could pretend Susan was there with him so he
She answered, hello.
Who is this?
Did you just hang up?
Uhhh ...he couldn't think of a lie.
Susan said, go ahead and admit it.
Well, admit it.
He laughed, and said I hung up.
She said, weren't you just over here?
Well what do you want, didn't you see enough?
So he decided to act natural, and admit it, and flipped back, no I
That caused her to laugh. Then she said, I can't stay on phone forever
(it's how her mother said it when local ladies called to gossip).
River Boy, well we could go to the football game.
I don't want to go.
Your fa.... he almost spilled the beans about her father ....uhhh, we
could go anyway.
Alright. But I'll meet you there but you're not going to come over here.
Okay. Meet you there.
He hung up and walked out the back door.
Mr Wilkenson asked, well what happened?
The other three men were down from the loft and roping the armoire onto
the truck, looking at River Boy, waiting for the answer.
Satisfied that he'd done pretty well, River Boy said, we're going to
meet at the game.
Mr Wilkenson threw back his head, howling along with the three men.
You're an amateur. Hahaha. She pushed you around. She does the same
thing to everybody.
Oh. I didn't know?
You better run home now. She's already figured you out.
The men were laughing harder and River Boy felt like a dope. However,
he knew the case now, he liked Susan, and not just for the display of
assets from earlier. He decided to turn around and go right back to her
house. The men were still cackling behind him when he decided to stop
skulking in the alley and walk straight through the town square.
Oddly enough, Thomas and Maggie had already agreed to go to the game,
and were at the square so she could buy new winter gloves. River Boy
was coming up the sidewalk just as Thomas and Maggie walked out of
Woolworths running face to face into each other.
Thomas immediately recognized the Mayor of Blacktown, his father
needing all the votes he could muster, and said, hello Mr Mayor. Taken
by surprise somewhat since the residents of Blacktown had been calling
him Mayor as a half-joke that they put over on the white folks, River
Boy said, hello, not remembering exactly who the blond fellow was.
Sticking out his hand, he said I'm Thomas Churchail, the Commissioner's
Oh yes, how is your father?
He needs every vote. We want you to get your folks out to the polls.
Well we're doing that for sure. Registrations are up and we support the
Of course folks in Blacktown were afraid to take the literacy test and
few of those were brave enough to register or vote.
Thomas said, we're counting on you for the support. Oh, do you know
Long pause of uhhh, as if trying to remember, but not before Maggie
offered cover, wanting to look all the sophisticated lady about town,
Close enough. River Boy nodded and continued up the street, having won
a slight point over his disappointment with Maggie. Yeah, it kinda felt
good being a Mayor. He had an inkling that Susan wouldn't put up with
that nonsense and decided not to share the story with her. It would get
around school soon enough and he could dodge it later. He would see
Maggie later in school too. There was a pang across his chest and he
looked back and saw Thomas put his arm around her.
Bethel Wilkerson came home and Susan was in the parlor waiting for
something. River Boy knocked and Susan jumped up. Her mother, not
missing a stroke, whispered real loud, invite him in. Distressed that
her mother would interfere and was still standing there, Susan let
River Boy in the door and introduced him to her mother, as if nobody in
town could possibly know who she was. River Boy exchanged greeting and
Bethel said, I'll make ice tea. River Boy and Susan stood in the parlor
with nothing to say.
Sensing disaster, her mother yelled out, Susan makes fishing lures.
Oh, what kind you make?
The kind that work, what kind do you use?
Bethel added, humm the tea's about ready.
Susan reminded herself to be nice and said, oh yeah, I got a book and
my father helps me.
Bethel yelled out again, tea's ready, why don't you show him where you
The budding young couple took the cold tea out to the garage in back of
the house and Susan showed him her father's workshop.
They made lures, fixed fishing reels, carved willow poles and added a
River boy was looking at the lures, especially the red-eye. I've seen
these for sale at Louis' place.
Yeah he sells them. He and my father are friends.
You can touch them. River Boy started picking up the carpenter’s tools,
tiny screwdrivers and looking through the magnifying glass, and the
whole while kept bumping into her.
She liked it until he put both his hands on her waist. She spun around,
not unfamiliar with a man's touch, but less experienced and caring to
wait, she said, not so fast fella. Some fish are harder to catch.
River Boy withdrew his hands and said, what do you suggest?
Try it from a different spot.
So he reached around and touched her behind slightly.
She firmly put her hand on his chest and pushed him away, pointing to
spot farther away in the garage.
The moment of contact from this woman, and the rejection, possibly the
rejection of Maggie too, threw him back to his childhood.
He was a small boy beaten and unloved. His shoulders slumped nearly
overcome with emotion.
Susan saw a man bare without excuse, and moved next to him, looking
down and pretending to be busy with a lure, she rested her shoulder
into his chest and said you're with me. It's okay.
Bethel could feel it from the kitchen. She knew those two would match.