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by Jim Thompson
Description: Tommy Carver was a raw nerve, an angry young Okie sharecropper. Sharing the narrow confines of a hot and steamy cabin with a violent father. But his stepmother was the one that was really pushing his buttons. And her affections were way beyond maternal. The heat of the situation was making Tommy boil over. It was just a matter of time before he'd do something he regretted.
eBook Publisher: Wonder Audiobooks, LLC,
eBookwise Release Date: April 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [222 KB]
Reading time: 149-209 min.
"The guy was over the top. The guy was absolutely over the top. Big Jim didn't know the meaning of the word stop. There are three brave lets inherent in the forgoing: he let himself see everything, he let himself write it down, then he let himself publish it."--Stephen King
It was almost dusk, and I knew that meant she'd be waiting for me, her car hidden under the thick willows, waiting just like she had been all along. It was a swell setup.
Her name was Donna. She was one-fourth Indian and three-fourths white, and that's a blood mixture that's hard to beat if you're breeding for beauty. She had the beauty, all right--and plenty more. She could also mean plenty of trouble, if anybody found out about us.
I finished what I was doing and was beginning to feel that don't-give-a-gol-darn crankiness that sneaks up on me when I get real hungry. You know. Maybe you get the same way. You almost hope that someone'll say something to you so you can jump down his throat.
I put the papers in a folder marked Miss Trumbull (English Department) Burdock County, Oklahoma Consolidated School District
and started to slide it into the top drawer of Miss Trumbull's desk. Somehow, one of the papers slipped out and fell into the wastebasket; and when I lifted it out I saw this sandwich--part of a sandwich, rather, lying there. It was made out of some kind of fish mixed up with salad dressing and there were little pinkish smears of lipstick on it and a place where spit had hardened. But it smelled awfully good; it looked awfully good. I pinched at it, pinching away the spit and the lipstick. And then, suddenly the classroom door banged open and I shoved the sandwich into my pocket.
It was Abe Toolate, the janitor. I stood up, trying to smile, and he came toward me, his mean little eyes fixed on mine. He stopped right in front of me, so close that I was breathing in the stink of corn liquor, and held out one of his stubby copper-skinned hands.
"I seen you," he grunted. "Let's have it."
"Have what?" I said.
"What you put in your pocket. Been wondering who was doin' all the stealin' around here at night."
I almost laughed in spite of myself. Because he was probably the only person around school that was wondering. Everyone else knew; and Abe would have been fired long before if he hadn't had a couple of relatives on the school board.
"Let's have it," he repeated.
"Get away from me," I said. "Get away from me fast, Abe."
"What's your name, boy?" he blustered, as if he didn't know. "What you doing here, anyhow?" And I could feel my face going tight. Shucks, he knew what I was doing there. I'd been grading Miss Trumbull's papers for almost four years, ever since I was a freshman.
I walked straight toward him. I kind of herded him in front of me, backing him toward the cloakroom, and his face began shining with sweat.
"N-now, look, Tom--Tommy," he stuttered. "I didn't mean ... "
"Tommy?" I said. "Aren't you getting a little familiar, Abe? You mean Mister Carver, don't you?"
"M-mister Carver ... "
He almost choked on that, having to call a white-trash sharecropper's boy Mister.
I backed him into the cloakroom and stood staring at him a minute or two, watching him sweat and squirm. Then I began to calm down a little, and I wanted to try to patch things up. But I knew there wasn't any way--not after I'd made him put a handle on my name. So I reached down for my football sweater with the big BCS on it, and left.
I walked down the stairs and out the front door thinking about what a funny thing pride was. What a troublesome thing.
Now that my temper had simmered down, I realized that Abe must have seen what I'd stuck in my pocket. He'd tried to dig me in my pride--to give himself a boost by pushing someone else down--and I'd dug right back at him. So, now, or rather tomorrow, there'd be trouble. He'd be in the principal's office the first thing in the morning, and I still wouldn't be able to admit that I'd been going to eat the leavings from Miss Trumbull's lunch.
I dug the sandwich out of my pocket and dropped it down at the side of the steps. Then I slung my sweater around my shoulders and headed across the yard to the road.
It was getting on toward true dark now, but when I rounded the curve that leads down to the creek I saw Donna Ontime's new Cadillac parked under the willows. Apparently she spotted me at the same time; she gave two short taps on the horn of the car. So I went on, and it sure wasn't hard to do even though I knew what would happen if Pa ever caught us together.