Caddo Creek by Lazarus Barnhill

So I’d like to introduce some folks to you and the best way, maybe, is for you to overhear them interacting. Here is an excerpt from my new novel, Caddo Creek (and I’ll tell you a little about it below). The folks in this passage are: Corral Walker, a graduate student studying botany at the University of Arkansas; Henry Louis Truett, IV (whom everyone calls “Four,” an Afghanistan War veteran who is also a student at the U of A; and Aunt Eleanor, Four’s lovely fifty-five-year-old aunt. In this vignette, Four has brought Corral to Eleanor’s home to introduce them and so that she can see a photograph of his great-grandmother, to whom she bears a striking resemblance:

Eleanor stopped in the sunny dining room, standing before a wall that apparently served as a family portrait gallery. Immediately before Corral just at eye level was an old black and white photograph. She leaned forward in amazement at what appeared to be an image of herself. The woman in the photo seemed a few years older than Corral and perhaps more petit. She wore a dress suited to the early 20th century and had long hair pinned close to her head. Her features, from the round, inquisitive eyes to the short, pert nose and oval face were virtually those of Corral Walker. She felt her hand rise slowly to the glass, then draw back.

“It’s my grandmother, my namesake. Eleanor.”

“We look so much alike.”

“Exactly alike to my eye. Eleanor was her given name, but she went by Lacey. Lacey Warren.”

“Is she—”

“She died long before I was born. She is sort of a mystery person. She married Grandpa Andy when she was twenty-six or so, but it’s like she just suddenly appeared out of nowhere on his mountain.”

“His mountain? Caddo Creek?”

“No, they lived in North Carolina, up in the Blue Ridge Mountains near a little town called Boone.”

Corral nodded. “I know about Boone. Appalachian State University is there.”

“Yes. Lacey and Andy had one child, my mother Elizabeth. And Lacey died of cancer when Mom was in her late teens.” She looked at her nephew. “I hope you two came hungry.”

He nodded. “We did, ma’am.”

Eleanor put her hands on his shoulders, physically moving him in the direction of the front door. “Well then, here’s what you need to do, son. Go down to the grocery store. Not the one at the bottom of the hill. I mean the one over by—”

“Townsend’s Market?”

“Yes. You’re a smart boy. Because?”

“Because they have Pillsbury flour?”

“Self-rising. Might as well get me two sacks. You don’t need any money do you?”

“Uh, no ma’am.”

“Good. Get going before we starve.”

Studying the other photos on the dining room wall, Corral tried—unsuccessfully—to suppress a smile. She heard the front door open and close, then felt Eleanor standing beside her again.

“He seems to do just what you tell him.”

“He’d better. That’s how he was raised. And he’d better hop to and show that same respect to you.”

“Actually he is very polite and respectful.”

“Good.” Eleanor tapped the glass on the portrait of her grandmother. “She was a prostitute.”

Corral turned to the older woman. “Excuse me?”

“Yep. She was working in a cathouse all right. That bit of information has been passed down from one woman to another. Supposedly none of the men in the family know it.”

“Really? She was a . . .”

“That’s what my momma told me.  And Lacey told her. Grandpa Andy was a World War I veteran. His first wife, Lib, died in childbirth. Sometime after that he stopped off at a place in the North Carolina piedmont, for a meal as the story goes, not realizing it was whorehouse. As I heard it, Lacey was drunk and passed out, and he kidnapped her.”

“Kidnapped her?”

“Um hmm. Threw her over his shoulder and just carried her out. The fellow who ran the place tried to stop him and Grandpa whipped out a big pistol and backed him off. Drove her right up his mountain and sobered her up. After that she fell in love with him.”

“That’s—that’s amazing.”

“I think it’s romantic as hell,” Eleanor said, her hands on her hips. “Makes me wet just thinking about it. Want to help me fix supper?”

***

Lacey Took a HolidayCaddo Creek is actually a sequel to my first published novel, Lacey Took a Holiday. This new volume is intended to be the second of a four novel set: The Mountain Woman Romance Series. The excerpt above, as I recall, was actually included a couple years ago in a Second Wind anthology. I look forward to having the novel in print this fall and I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

—Laz Barnhill

4 Comments

Filed under books, Excerpts, Lazarus Barnhill, writing

4 responses to “Caddo Creek by Lazarus Barnhill

  1. Well, Laz, I don’t know how “romantic” it is, but has the makings of a great read. I’m looking forward to its release in the fall. Best of luck with it.

  2. Hahaha! This sounds lovely to my ears. I love the way you toy with her naughty tale.

  3. This sounds like a really good read, Laz. Looking forward to reading your latest. Congratulations on your latest release!

  4. Lacey’s tale continues with more twists. Intriguing, Laz!

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