LEVELS Sneak Peek: “Bookmobile Day”


cover-smallI sometimes misremembered what day it was, even forgot Sunday once in a while if I was busy with planting or harvest, but Maeve never let me forget Bookmobile Day, the fourth Tuesday of every month. She was always at my front door by nine o’clock or thereabouts, rain or shine, with her little plastic bag of two or three books she had read. She always said Thank you so much when I opened the door because I was her ride. Her husband Mike had the truck out by six A.M. and wasn’t about to stay home late just so’s his wife could get her silly novels switched out. Me, though, I was old enough that I didn’t start work near so early anymore, and anyway I knew Maeve since she was a little girl, like enough to being my own daughter, so it wasn’t no trouble driving her down off the mountain to Ben’s Cross where the bookmobile stopped once a month.

She’d learned a long time ago that I wasn’t interested in what she’d read since last Bookmobile Day, especially with the kind of books she chose, but there was always stuff to talk about on the way anyways, about her kids or her sister’s kids or the weather and the crops. I always saw what she read anyway, though, because in my old pickup she’d take the books out of her plastic bag and look over their fronts and backs, like she was taking a last look at one of her kids before he went off to the factory in town or something. Most of the books had people like I’ve never seen in real life on the cover, men with long hair and no shirt and women with their bosoms pushed up to their chins. Half the time they were Scotsmen, the men, and all they were wearing was a kilt. Most of the people up here on the mountain are Scotch or Irish—in fact, most are Scotch and Irish after being in America this long and marrying each other—but I never seen a man like that in the flesh, all muscle and no fat. Most of us up here are carrying something up front over our belts except some real skinny folks like Cal Coogans, but he’s an old old farmer who smokes like he can’t breathe except through his pipe. I seen him without his shirt once, when I went by his place and it was laundry day, and he may be skinny but he ain’t got muscles like on the books, just bones under his skin and weird hairs on the outside.

And the women on those books, they don’t look decent to me; they’re all slender like fourteen-year-olds, ain’t yet had a baby or started putting on hips, but they’re making eyes at those men like they’re all grown up. We may be living out yonder up on the mountain, but we ain’t like those hillbillies that marry their cousins at twelve years old. We’re good Christian folk on the mountain. At least when we remember it’s Sunday…

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This story and sixteen more are included in Levels: Fantastic and Macabre Stories, coming March 16th! Pre-order the ebook on Amazon or Smashwords today!

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