“Matt Minor has created a novel in which the main character shows growth…I like flawed characters and if they can overcome things, it really speaks to me.” – A Life Through Books
Excerpt (continued) from Chapter 1, Part 1
The Water Lord
By Matt Minor
“What do you mean, was?”
“They found him dead this morning.”
“Oh my God! He was young!”
“Just turned thirty-two last month.”
“How did he die, Karl?”
“He killed himself.”
“Oh my God! That’s terrible. How, if I dare ask?”
“He hanged himself from a beam in his den. His wife found him this morning. Police think he did it sometime yesterday.”
And his wife just found him this morning?”
“She just showed up to get the last of her things. Chip and his wife were getting a divorce.”
I paused as I remembered her and how she had fawned over my new husband that same night. Then I responded, “That’s just terrible.”
“Yeah, I guess he just couldn’t take it. That and the other thing…”
“What other thing? What do you mean?”
“Are you familiar with what’s going on in Betsy?”
“Right!” Why is he shouting? “No, as matter of fact, I’m not.”
“It’s a mess, Tryphena. Look, I hate to be rude, but I need to call JD before he gets too far down the road.”
“Oh, of course! I’m sorry, yes Karl, please call him. You take care now.”
I placed the phone on the charger. I knew it would only be so long before I got a call from John David. I was too distracted now to study. I returned to my chores with a careful patience, like a woman waiting news from a war front. As I folded John David’s underwear, I suddenly found myself dwelling on a macabre thought: What if I were to find my husband dead? Numerous awful scenarios flashed through my mind. They were so dramatic that I felt compelled, along with the news I had just received, to pour myself a glass of cognac.
As I sipped the sniffer, my thoughts were drawn back to a few years before. Back to when John David was in the hospital having suffered from both a gunshot wound to his abdomen as well as a stroke on the left side of his brain. The bastard doctors wouldn’t let me see him because I was not his spouse or immediate family. He was still married to that beast first wife of his, Jessica. She couldn’t have cared less. In my darker moments, I would grow angry when reflecting back on it, believing that perhaps the doctors were just being racists. They were mostly Indian, so it didn’t exactly line up with my own prejudices. (I later found out that his wife had left instructions prohibiting anyone but immediate family from visiting). It wasn’t until John David was cognizant that they let me see him. All of that was bad enough. I couldn’t imagine actually finding his corpse, particularly if it was my fault.
The phone rang.
“Jesus Christ, I just got off the phone with Commissioner Cook!”
“I know. Karl told me what happened. It’s terrible.”
“Chip and his wife have a young son, too.”
“I can’t imagine killing myself, let alone hanging myself.”
“Yeah, I mean…Ian Curtis the lead singer from Joy Division did it that way, but he was in Joy Division. Chip was a general manager of a water district. Apparently, he just hung there until he was dead. The police don’t believe his neck was ever broken. It supposedly took a while. Goddamn, Tryphena.”
“Karl mentioned something else other than his divorce, as the culprit, I mean. He let me go so he could call you. What was he talking about?” I asked.
“The town of Betsy has gone dry…stone cold dry.”
“You mean they have no water?”
“Not a fuckin’ drop.”
“How in the hell did that happen?”
“Mismanagement, plain and simple. The board members are desperate, so they started sucking it out of the ground like drunks.”
“They can do that? Aren’t there statutes? I thought these water districts were created to protect and conserve the resource.”
“They were created to serve the people with money, Tryphena.”
“Of course, stupid question.”
“The board is all rich farmers. Chip was their plant. Wagoneer Water District was created by Halliburton Crane last session. Need I say more?”
“And Chip is now their scapegoat.”
“Sure looks that way. How convenient for them. It’ll be interesting to see how much they throw Chip Carlson under the bus to save their collective asses.”
“Where are you now?” I asked, hesitantly.
“On my way home. I’m going to have to be excused from the floor tomorrow. I have to deal with this now. I’m meeting Karl in the morning, at his office.”
“Oh,” I sighed. “I guess no MLK Day vacation?”
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. Karl and the Commissioners Court are going ’round and ’round about this. I’m needed.”
“I understand, baby.”
“We’ll get our day in the sun. I promise. Will you tell Mason to call the speaker’s office in the morning and let them know I’ll be absent?”
“Sure, I’ll text him.”
After our call, I killed the cognac and looked out the window at the absolute night. Though I felt my short-lived hopes had been foiled, I couldn’t help but suddenly be a little excited about John David coming home for what appeared to be an extended stay, or at least another day. Who knows, I thought…maybe we can still fit a trip in?
I showered and put on my sexy peach negligee. I put on The Blue Nile, an obscure 1980s band he was currently obsessed with. We had spent the weekend making love and watching movies: Hitchcock; Reds; Woody Allen. Although I was a little sore, I just couldn’t get enough of the man. Yes, I pondered, if that same college girl were to see me now she would be so shocked. Living with a white man almost twice my age in a secluded cabin in the woods?
In its own way, it was…idyllic. Maybe that’s why it couldn’t last. I had grown up with the notion that one’s plate should always be guarded. Leftovers were saved, never discarded.
= = =