Today’s snippet is from my current work in progress, It Happened in Memphis and Other Stories. As is always the case with early drafts, the final product may look significantly different.
I’ll write more about the tradition of Christmas eve bonfires along the Mississippi in a post tomorrow. In the meanwhile, enjoy the latest entry in this year’s Blogmas event.
After a delicious dinner of gumbo, buttermilk biscuits, Pauline’s favorite boudins from the market in Mowata, and chess pie for dessert, everyone gathered up jackets and sweaters to go watch the bonfire lighting along the river. Those who weren’t already wearing jeans and sneakers changed to more casual attire.
“No need to take everyone’s cars,” Riley said. “I’ve got room for Miss Laurie and her boy with me.”
“I was hoping to ride with Evie and her folks,” Harv said.
“Well, that’s all right then. I guess it’ll be just us old folks together.”
“Billy and I will take Miss Pauline, Jimmy, and Cindy in the van,” Annie said.
As other family members made their arrangements, Riley helped Laurie into her jacket.
“I hope you don’t think I’m being too forward,” he said. “It’s just that, well, you’re about the prettiest gal I’ve seen in a long time. I’m divorced myself, but my ex and I were never blessed with children. You’ve got a fine boy there. ‘Course, if he messes around with my niece, I’ll clean up what’s left after Amos beats him to a pulp … but he’s a fine boy.”
Laurie couldn’t help laughing. “I don’t think Evie really knows he’s alive, to tell you the truth. They go to school together, and they’re friends … but he says someone else gave her her first kiss. She won’t say who … but whoever he is, Harv hates his guts.”
“Yep, that’s high school love for you. I remember it well.”
It didn’t take long before they all gathered at a boat slip, which confused Laurie.
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“You will,” Riley said, as he unlocked the gate at the end of the pier. “This is where I live.”
The whole family piled onto the biggest yacht Laurie had ever seen. All the children were helped into life vests as Riley let Laurie into the wheelhouse. “I have been lucky enough to work all over the world, helping people in need of medical care. I’m a doctor. Seemed to make the most sense to have a boat large enough to live on wherever I might go … and to bring my friends and family out on the river for Christmas Eve. How else are we going see all the bonfires? Have a seat.”