‘Lastward, Deputy James’ by Barry Hannah


From Five Chapters:

He himself might be one of just another confused but adamant sect. This idea had crossed his mind, since he was certain there was much to repay or regain from his past woes and he knew who had burned the small church on the verge of Wall Doxey Park that Wednesday evening. None but himself.

His wardrobe, the woman reminded him, improved past the penitent rags he had once stolen from Goodwill warehouses. He also quit stealing books. Formerly it just seemed he should, since he was outcast already. Before the church, he’d not burned anything for long months, either.

The woman he found himself with would barely leave home except to spend $200 almost exactly each trip to Wal-Mart. She watched television movies or she cleaned or threw out older new things. She rarely cooked. He figured this love would not last long but she had her good side when she was not directing scathing attacks on him or slapping him as he lay sleeping in the bed he had bought, in the diminished hacienda he’d bought for them. After the eruptions she was quiet a long while, which the deputy discovered after months with her was her form of apology. Because she was never wrong and never spoke an apology. He was to understand her moods, that was his constant homework.

Mainly she attacked him for once being a Montana deputy who refused to reattach himself at good salary to the law. She wondered where his money came from, anyway.

…Read more