Verna Crowell and her pet rabbit live next door to the newly opened Dixie Dew Bed and Breakfast. She and the rabbit (named Robert Redford, Verna figured the rabbit was as close to the actor as she’d ever get) do more to confuse B&B owner Beth’s search for the killer of the inn’s first guest than help. Maybe because Verna’s often more than a little confused herself, and because the rabbit is, um, a rabbit.
You think living with Robert Redford is easy. Well, it ain’t.
That rabbit’s got a mind of his own. One minute he’s on his leash hopping down the sidewalk pretty as you please, next minute he’s got my feet tangled. Down I go, topsy over teakettle, my ass in the air. Excuse me, Lord, and off he goes dragging that leash behind him. I’m flat on my back hollering, “Bob, Bob Redford, you come back here!”
Anybody who don’t know me, they’d think I was crazy. Well, I ain’t. I’m just laying here on the sidewalk looking up at that dusky sky, thinking not blue sky but ole peeking moon behind the trees, just thinking Emily Dickinson and her blue beloved air and then I felt something funny, but not ha ha funny.
Pain. Why had it taken a while to kick in? Was I knocked out cold? Anyway, my foot hurts. Hurts like hell. Excuse me again, Lord. Ankle? I try to wiggle it and hurts worse. Had a bone popped and I didn’t hear it? I try to lift my leg to look and don’t get it very high. When was the last time I lifted my leg? Then I remember an old joke my daddy used to tell. He worked in Miller’s Hardware forty years. Name the three parts to a wood stove: lifter, leg and poker. I wiggle my leg. Foot just flops. Hurt.
5:30 in the morning. Where is anybody? Where is the paper boy? Used to be that little Gurley boy, Nestus. I always liked his name. Used to walk by, come up and lay my paper on my porch. All I had to do was crack open my screen door, reach down and there it was. I didn’t even had to put on a wrapper. Then Nestus grew up, went to college and old Mr. McNutt took over the route. He’d drive and his wife, Putty, would roll and throw up papers out the passenger window. She had a good throwing arm, could get it almost to my porch sometimes.
Now I don’t know who is doing what, little newspaper there is nowadays. Sometimes it’s in my boxwoods, my lilac bushes, tangled in one of the dogwood trees. I’ve had to get a ladder to get down my paper once or twice.
Now here I am, flat on my back and wet from the sidewalk creeping into my blouse and britches. Where is anybody? I can holler until I’m hoarse or just lay here and pray somebody don’t come running by and stumble on top of me. When I hear a car pass, I raise my arm and wave. Nothing. They go right on by. I try to roll on my side and can’t. Sidewalk is wet and slick. Sticky wet. I hear somebody’s feet. Fast, fast.
I raise both arms. Hel-up. Hel-up.
Don’t step on me. Hel-up.
You can read more about Verna in Doing it at the Dixie Dew, published by Minotaur. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Meet the author
Ruth Moose writes. For forty years she’s written poems, short stories, novels, book reviews and Ruth Moose is the 2013 winner of the Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Competition. She won the PEN Award for Syndicated Fiction, the Robert Ruark Award for the Short Story, and the Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award. She has received 3 Pushcart nominations and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. She’s published three collections of short stories and six collections of poetry. Doing it at the Dixie Dew is her first novel. She was on the Creative Writing faculty at UNC Chapel Hill for fifteen years. Moose lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
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