Mama Stalks the Past

Free Mama Stalks the Past by Nora Deloach

Book: Mama Stalks the Past by Nora Deloach Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Deloach
baby when Charles got himself killed in a gambling fight.” Carrie Smalls shook her head. “Nat’s got bad blood in him. I reckon Hannah knew it, too. That’s why she didn’t try to make much out of the boy.”
    “And her third husband?” Mama asked.
    This time Annie Mae Gregory answered. “His name was Richard Wescot. Richard was fromDarien. He was a fine-looking man, a red bone, high yellow with a deep singing voice.”
    “He used to sing quartet,” Carrie Smalls added.
    “Richard had people follow him all the way to Melbourne just to hear him sing,” Annie Mae Gregory agreed.
    “I’ve seen him turn out more than one church service,” Sarah Jenkins added. “Poor Richard wasn’t married to Hannah for more than three years before he died.”
    “Miss Hannah may not have had the best personality,” I declared, “but she certainly had the knack of getting married.”
    “Hannah got husbands but she seemed to lose them as fast,” Mama pointed out.
    Sarah Jenkins coughed. “Ill tell you one thing, nobody in this town was surprised when Hannah snagged her fourth husband, Leroy Mixon.”
    Mama looked puzzled.
    Sarah Jenkins tried to laugh, but started coughing, instead. Nobody said anything until it was certain that she was going to live.
    “That’s because Leroy Mixon was just like Hannah,” Carrie Smalls said firmly. “Together they were the meanest two people in these parts!”

    That night, Nat was sitting up in his hospital bed, his long legs stretched out under the white sheet, his head wrapped neatly in bandages. Mama sat at his bedside. Daddy stood leaning at the door.
    Mama urged Nat to tell me his story. Nat tilted his head to one side and gave me one of his most dejected looks. “I walked into the house—” he began.
    I was impatient. “What time was that?” I interrupted.
    “Five, six—”
    “It had to be before six,” I said. “Everybody in the world was up at six A.M ., right, Mama?”
    Mama cut her eyes. “Go on, Nat,” she said, “tell Simone what happened next.”
    Nat yawned. “Somebody hit me in the back of my head,” he said.
    “We know that!” I said, exasperated.
    Nat looked up, his head cocked. “Felt like it was with a hammer!”
    Daddy interjected, “Big boy like you should watch out for falling hammers!”
    “He must have hid behind something, ’cause if I’d seen him, he’d never got the best of me!” Nat declared.
    Daddy laughed.
    “Do you have any idea who it could have been?” I asked Nat.
    “No,” Nat said. “But he was big.”
    Mama’s voice sounded relaxed, at ease. “Bigger than you?” she asked.
    Nat took a deep, shuddering breath. “He was
big!”
he repeated.
    We weren’t getting very far. “Anything else?” I asked.
    Nat hesitated. Then he wrinkled his nose. “He smelled funny,” he told us.
    Mama’s eyes opened wide. “You didn’t tell me that.”
    “
Funny
?” I asked.
    “Yeah,” Nat answered. He rubbed his eyes and yawned again.
    “Funny like what?” Mama demanded.
    ‘”I don’t know. If I smell it again, I’ll tell you,” Nat answered, making me long to smack him over his head myself.
    “Maybe he smelled like alcohol,” Daddy told Nat. “Like your favorite brew!”
    It’s amazing, I thought, how easily my father could see Nat’s drinking as a problem but couldn’t see his own.
    Nat shook his head. “It was something else,” he insisted. “Something I never smelled before.”
    “It may be a good idea for you to stay with us for a while,” Mama said. Daddy frowned.
    This seemed to terrify Nat. “Oh, no!” he cried, his mouth slack with panic.
    “Suppose whoever hit you comes back?” Mama asked.
    Nat made a gesture. “Don’t worry, I’m listening to you, I’m gonna make sure that all the doors and windows are locked from now on.”
    “Always look behind you,” Daddy joked.
    “Most big fellers hit from behind!”

    We had left the hospital, and were back in our snug kitchen when I turned again to

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