[Writer’s note: What began as a writing prompt — photo and first paragraph — has become at least the start of a story. I will endeavor to add short sections to it, at lest as long as there is some interest. It might be a little rough in parts, but that’s because it is coming “hot off the press,” which could be part of the fun of it. In the meantime, you are free to jump off from any part of this story thus far and write your own version. Click Holly’s Corner below to get Parts 1 – 11.]
by David E. Booker
She looked up, saw him, and recoiled back in the chair, her feet swiping through the vomit.
Father Brown left the room again.
I didn’t want to, but I got up and stepped into the other room and told him he didn’t need to come into the room again, that I would handle it.
“But you have a low threshold for puke,” Brown said. “You’ll probably vomit on top of hers.”The smell from the other room was not appealing, either. Sharp, sour, and with a hint of booze to it.
“I would suggest you take her outside and I will clean up.”
“That would involve going back in there,” I said.
“Would you prefer I did?”
“No. That’s what started all this.”
I turned back to the room and stepped inside.
“Things ain’t always what they seem to be,” Rachel said.
I had escorted her outside and we had made it to the sidewalk before she started feeling queasy again. We made it to the alley behind the building and as is the case of many alleys, it became the home of something you don’t want to see on the main street.
There wasn’t much to her second upheaval, and when she was done, we walked a couple of doors down to The Time Warp Tea Room, where I bought her a water and a soda, hoping one of the other might help settled her stomach. I bought nothing for myself, just in case. I had almost thrown up in the alley, too.
The Time Warp Tea Room is an eclectic mix of vintage motorcycles, pinball and early video games, and a pressed metal ceiling bought from a company in Alabama and installed over the main part of the large main room. The rest of the ceiling is square tiles used often in modern drop ceilings. A large wooden circular table dominates the back of the main room and a dark-stained wooden bar with a mirror and fretwork fills much of the wall to your right as you enter. A photo of Cas Walker and an album cover of Dolly Parton’s are part of the bar décor.
We were sitting at one of the booths on the opposite wall.
“It’s not what you think.”
She had said that already, but it had been a little while ago and in a less sober state. I nodded and tried to let her get past it. She picked up a pepper shaker from the table and shock it once at me. “People killed for this at one time.” She then picked up the salt shaker. “And this used to be worth more than gold in some circles at one time.”
“How does that pertain to your recipe?”
“You must know, I don’t hate my step-sister. Or I do my best not to, but she does get on my nerves at times.”
“And this is one of those times?”
She glared at me as if I were interrupting her, which I was.
“I am willing to share the rewards from the recipe with her, but she says it was her mother’s recipe and it should be all hers.”
Rachel hesitated. Not usually a good sign.
“If I tell you the truth, what does it get me.”
“The knowledge you won’t have to cover anything up, remember what lies you told, and in what order.”
“You mean people who tell the truth remember things in the exact same order every time.”
“Not every time. We can all get forgetful or tell a story out of order no matter how many times we’ve told it. But usually the same facts are there and the order can more easily be corrected. The value of telling the truth is that you only have to remember one set of facts. Even if you don’t always remember them in the right order.”
“Doesn’t sound like much.”
“Nobody ever said there was profit in truth.”
“You sound like a philosopher or shrink doctor.”
“I hang around with a priest. Some of it might rub off.”
Rachel gave me a quizzical look. My sense of humor tends to bring that out in people.
“Truth be told, the recipe belongs to a dead woman, a woman our father was sleeping with when she died.”
“Then how did your step-mother get it?” I asked.
“Tricia’s mom suspected my father of sleeping with a neighbor lady and one day while Dad and the woman were away, she broke into the woman’s house looking for evidence. She didn’t find any, but she found this recipe. According to the story Tricia’s mom told me once, this recipe was out on the counter and just for spite, she stole it. She didn’t even know what it was. She was just angry and looking for some way to let this woman know that if she was going to steal from her, she was going to steal from this neighbor lady.”
“Does this neighbor lady have a name?”
(To be continued.)