Today, I'm welcoming back a special guest, Gail Roughton, with a bit of southern hospitality as you talks about her latest MuseItUp release, Down Home
Hey, y’all! Welcome to Turkey Creek, Rockland County, Georgia. Know where that is? Anywhere USA. Turkey Creek is the composite of hundreds of little towns in Small Town, USA. Of course, Turkey Creek’s specifically Southern, simply because I am (go on, y’all, all together now – DUH!!) but I’m sure quite a few Turkey Creeks exist outside the South, too. Just with different accents. The world of Turkey Creek’s my real world. The world of Down Home. I know the places of Down Home because I live there. I know the people of Down Home because I’m part of them and they’re part of me.
Oh, they’re not real characters, of course. Not really. They’re bits and pieces of here and there, now and then, this and that, mixed and mingled to produce the other. Nor are the locations real. Exactly. Every small town, southern or not, are microcosms of society, a miniature little world wherein everybody knows everybody else’s business, heritage, secrets, what they had for supper, their usual bedtime. It’s a patchwork quilt, sewn together into a sturdy fabric, stitched with the sturdy thread of familiarity.
In that world, everybody knows Maggie Kincaid hasn’t spoken to her father in twenty-five years, not since she buried Billy Brayton, killed in basic training after trumped up charges of armed robbery engineered by Big John Kincaid railroaded him out of town and into the army. Everybody’d known something like that was coming because everybody’d known Big John wasn’t going to put up with his daughter keeping time with the local bad boy, not for long. They figured Maggie and Billy should have known that, too. But everybody’s missing a few pieces of the puzzle. They’re about to find out that the reports of Billy Brayton’s death have been greatly exaggerated. He’s home. And it’s payback time. Sometimes you can go home again.
If y’all want to share in Billy’s return to Turkey Creek, I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did. For me, it was a real long trip. It made its first faint murmurs some fifteen years or so ago, when I toyed with the idea of two long-lost lovers, torn apart like Romeo and Juliet, finding each other again. It finally surged forth, more or less full-grown, when my son-in-law, a K-9 Deputy Sheriff for my home county, told me a story. And the story he told me provided the coalescing center, the “missing link”, that produced the full novel roughly nine months later. Some cosmic justice in that, don’t you think? The nine months? In fact, Down Home’s dedication reads, “To my son-in-law, Sgt. Jason Smith, K-9 officer, Cobra Crime Suppression Unit, and his fellow deputies of the Twiggs County Sheriff’s Department. Thanks for the first glimmer of the idea, Twiggs 19!” (I also picked his brain unmercifully throughout the writing of this novel, for a number of subjects, though any errors made are mine alone and certainly not his. Oh, yeah. He earned that dedication. Big-time.)
So c’mon down, why don’t you? And see if you might want to take an extended vacation – Down Home. If you do, the whole world of Down Home’s available at:
And always remember that down home and down South, the door’s always open. So y’all come back, you hear?
The quiet county night disintegrated into a cacophony of squealing wheels and flying gravel. The patrol cruiser careened down the driveway of the old church, Alec Wimberly’s terrified eyes glued to the road in front of him.
He knew if he looked in the rearview mirror he would still see the silhouette of the little girl with banana curls, backlit in windows that should be dark. Echoes of pounding organ music reverberated in his brain.
Brakes screeched as he slowed just enough to negotiate a wide turn onto Highway 96. Back on the asphalt, he could pretend it never happened. His hands, still shaking on the wheel, didn’t believe him. He checked the speedometer and eased off the gas. For a moment his foot, lead on the pedal, wouldn’t obey. He wasn’t in shock, but he wasn’t in good shape either. He reached to his shoulder to hit the send button on his radio phone.
“Rockland 19, back on patrol from property check at Clayton Chapel.”
“Ten-four Rockland 19.” Aileen Sanders, the dispatcher on duty, paused and asked, “You okay, Nineteen? You sound kinda funny.”
“Fine. Nineteen out.” Alec Wimberly felt his heart rate begin to slow. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t see anything, I didn’t hear anything, and I’m never gonna see it again. Because I ain’t goin’ back there alone. Ever.
* * * *
On the other side of the county off Highway 80, a hand reached for a ringing phone at 2:00 a.m. The voice that answered was as strong and steady as the hand, despite both being over seventy-years-old. It held no hint of drowsiness, no sign it had roused immediately and completely from the depths of dream sleep, a rare talent the owner of that voice treasured. It conveyed the impression that he never slept; that in fact, he had no need of sleep, that he was always aware of all that transpired in his domain. It elevated him above the ranks of ordinary men, an intrinsic component of the mystique he carefully cultivated, invaluable in perpetuating the aura of power that surrounded him.
“Tonight’s delivery’s made. It’s done.”
“Went all right? No problems?”
“No problems.” The slight hesitation might as well have been a drum roll.
“What went wrong?”
Damn. The caller mentally cringed. Should have known better.
“Nothing really went wrong. Somebody unexpected showed up. Didn’t see anything, though.”
“One of the deputies. Out on night patrol. Ran like a scared rabbit, no big deal.”
“You better hope so. What the hell happened? We’re supposed to know the schedules.”
“We do. Mostly. Can’t always call it down to the minute.”
“S’posed to be able to. What else we spend the money for, for Chrissakes?”
“Wasn’t no problem,” the caller reiterated. “He didn’t see anything.”
“You know which deputy?”
“Well, what?” The caller was pushing his luck and he knew it, but he had a soft spot for all the young Rockland deputies.
“Who–the–Hell–was–it, and don’t you ever make me ask you something twice.”
“Not one of ours. Could he be, though?”
“Well… I don’t know, sir.”
“Keep an eye on him.”
A dial tone sounded in the caller’s ear and he sighed in relief. Damn, he hated being on Boss Man’s bad side. He wasn’t real fond of being on Boss Man’s good side, either. Had to be an easier way to make a living. Well, hell, he knew there was. Just not this good a living.