Please welcome Vastine Bondurant and her new release Glory Lands. This soul-searching novel is A Texas Piney Woods Story. Be sure to enter Vastine's terrific contest at the bottom of the post.
Rural East Texas, 1931. Preacher’s son Emory Joe Logan and a fiddler from Shreveport, Glory Lands, meet and form a tender bond. When they are caught and arrested for homosexual acts by Sheriff Elihu Bishop, the lawman’s sanctimonious bigotry threatens to rip the young men from their families.
Emory Joe’s father, Pastor Charles Logan, is brought to his knees in terror, confusion, and anger. He still regrets not standing up against Bishop when the lawman murdered a youth in cold blood nine years ago.
Now there’s no longer a choice for the preacher to stand up to the lawman. Cold-blooded justice, bigotry-disguised-as-religion, and hatred take on a whole new meaning when they’re standing on his doorstep, ready to take the son he loves.
I’D been scared lots of times in my nineteen years, but never as scared as I was as I sat with Daddy in the church.
He’d begged me to go home, to pack, and to head for the bus station while he met with the sheriff alone—how simple he made it sound, as though inviting Bishop to tea and cake.
No, I told him. I wasn’t leaving without some last words to Bishop. So if I insisted on facing the sheriff, Daddy begged me to wait it out with him at the church. He assured me Bishop would show up, as sure as night and day, and somehow he felt safer there in the sanctuary.
Tears threatened to make their way from the well in my belly to my eyes to see Daddy sitting—just sitting, still and silent, with his Bible in his lap—in his usual seat at the side of the pulpit.
He’d never in a million years have showed up at God’s house dressed in trousers, a sleeveless undershirt, and suspenders. Sweaty. Unshaven. I wondered if he even realized how much like a hobo he looked.
Who was to know how this day would end? It didn’t matter any longer.
All I did know was I’d never realized how much I loved my father until sharing that awful but somehow beautiful silence in that empty church while we waited for whatever was going to happen.
Did he know how proud Mama would have been of him? I hoped his heart knew that Mama was right beside him in that seat, holding his hand.
Looking back, I reckon my mother had always seen my true self. She’d always seemed to know there’d been something different about me. Although I knew without a doubt she would have been standing beside us right then, I was glad that she didn’t have to be.
“Daddy.” My own voice startled me when it broke the oddly peaceful tension inside the sanctuary.
Daddy, as though he’d been in a deep trance, glanced to me from whatever world he’d been lost in. “Son?”
“You know why I’m doing this?”
He crossed his legs, shifted in the seat, and shrugged. “I think so, Emory Joe.”
“If it had been just me, I’d have hightailed it out of here, not made a peep, so as to not embarrass you anymore.”
He just nodded.
I continued, “But you know I can’t, after what they’ve done to Glory.”
“I’m not really afraid, if you’re worried about that.”
“I know, son.”
“I love you.”
With his brow furrowed, he stared at me with some words perched on his lips. He said nothing, though, just smiled and nodded. But his smile had hugged me and held me hard, and I felt his I love you stronger than any spoken words. The affection piercing me through his unsaid sentiment was the sort a fellow would give his life to have.
The purr of a car’s engine and the crunch of tires on gravel outside the open doors of the church shouldn’t have surprised me, but my body jolted anyway. And I didn’t even have to look to see who’d driven up. I knew.
Daddy drew a shaky breath, closed his eyes, and softly chanted a Psalm. “They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me….”
Icy water pulsed through my veins with my spiked heartbeat.
Car doors opened and, after a pause, closed.
This was it.
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