Saturday, September 27, 2008

Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: an excerpt

I want to promote the new Storytelling in the Catholic Imagination category in the Pauline Book and Media Centers. So I thought I would post excerpts from some of the selections you will find in the new section.  Have a taste of the type of story you will find on the shelves of the PBM stores taking part in the pilot project

Bob awoke with sunlight coming through the mosaic windows in colors of red and blue. Charley was already slugging his feet inside damp boots. Bob slunk up the aisle, looking down pews, until he found Jesse rounded asleep inside his coat, his mouth open, his ankle twitching, a gun in his left hand. Bob then scuttled out of the church in his socks and saw Charley meandering through the cemetery, reading the inscriptions. He ambled over to him with his palms cupping his elbows.
Bob said, "Craig gave me ten days."
Charley considered an angled gravestone and the engraving GONE ON TO GREATNESS. "For what?"
Bob thought a moment, tugging up his right sock as he chose the proper term. "Arresting him," he said.
"You and me," Charley said.
"It's going to happen one way or another. If not us, then some deputy sheriff in Saint Joe, or some Pinkerton man in Kearney, or some simpleton with a pistol on loan like it was in the swamplands when the Youngers were captured. It's going to happen, Charley; and it might as well be us who get rich on it."
Charley scratched his neck and looked across the road to a greening sward where cattle and sheep were mixed. Timberland was a blue smear on the horizon. His sunken cheeks and cruel overbite made him seem to be sucking a mint. He said, "Nobody's going to get Jesse if he's still live enough to go for his gun. He can kill ya with every hand."
"I'll go alone then," Bob said.
Charley glanced at his kid brother disparagingly. "And besides that, he's our friend."
"He murdered Ed Miller. He's going to murder Liddil and Cummins if the chance ever comes. Seems to me Jesse's riding from man to man, saying goodbye to the gang. Your friendship could put you under the pansies."
Charley sighed and said, "I'll grind it fine in my mind, Bob. I can't go any further than that, right now."
"You'll come around," Bob said, and returned to the church, twisting the crick in his spine.
Jesse was by the altar and above the congregation in a pulpit of inlaid wood. He looked both pious and possessed. His face was stern as he flipped pages at the lectern, his fingers clenched the railing, and his blue eyes had silver fire in them as he put them on the Fords. He called, "From now on you two won't go anywhere without me! From now on you'll ask for permission; you'll asked to be excused!"

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