Cactus Jack by Brad Smith

Cactus Jack by Brad Smith

Author:Brad Smith
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781950691531
Publisher: Arcade
Published: 2020-06-03T16:00:00+00:00

Billie got back to the farm at three-thirty in the morning. She went to bed and fell asleep immediately, something she hadn’t been doing of late. Then again, she’d been up for nearly twenty hours and behind the wheel for half of that time. When she woke the sun was full up and streaming in the window. Since arriving back at the house she’d been sleeping in the room that had once been hers. The same double bed was there, although it had been piled high with her father’s books and work clothes and other items. Apparently the room had taken on the role of a large junk drawer. She could have slept in the master bedroom but it didn’t feel right, especially knowing that the old man had been sharing the bed with his girlfriend these past few years. Girlfriend seemed an odd term to use for a woman of Marian’s age but Billie couldn’t come up with another. Partner seemed to suggest a business arrangement, or people who were herding cattle. Significant other sounded clinical—and had too many syllables anyway. Lover she didn’t want to think about.

She heard voices when she woke and got up to look out the window. David Mountain Clay was standing in the lower driveway by the barns, talking to the girl, Jodie. The lawyer was in his shirt-sleeves and he had his pants hitched up nearly to his armpits. He was of course doing most of the talking, words that Billie couldn’t make out. But she had to assume that he was asking of her whereabouts.

She got up and pulled on the clothes she’d worn for her trip to Missouri, then went into the bathroom to pee and wash her face. Going out the back door, she saw by the kitchen clock that it was ten fifteen. As she started down the hill, David Clay glanced at her, then said something to the girl before getting into his Lincoln and driving off without another look Billie’s way.

“What the hell was that?” Billie asked.

Jodie turned to her. She wore rubber boots that were caked with manure. Apparently she’d been cleaning stalls. “What was what?”

“He left,” Billie said. “Wasn’t he looking for me?”

“I don’t think so,” Jodie said. “He was looking for me.”

Billie watched as the Lincoln made its way along the county road, heading back to Marshall. “Why?”

Jodie reached into the pocket of her shorts and produced a check. “He gave me this.”

She held the check out, but Billie already knew what it was. Nice to know that David Clay was looking after the little girl while he barely gave Billie the time of day when she’d called on Sunday.

“I can pay you for my share of the hay now,” Jodie said.

“Don’t worry about it,” Billie said absently.

“I have to pay my share. Will would never say how much I owed so you have to decide.”

“I said don’t worry about it. Put the money in the bank. And buy yourself some sneakers. Those you’re wearing weren’t worth ten cents and now you’ve got red paint all over them.


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