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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

JimDad looked all puffed up like he did the day he brought home that first Cadillac.

Serialization Sunday – Hoodoo: Chapter 8

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remains, can be found in full here

Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor. 

Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.

Chapter 8

Mom clunked open the power locks and waited, tapping the pads of her fingers against the steering wheel, long nails shining in the dome light. I hoisted my bike into the back seat, slumping next to her as she pulled away from the curb.

“Y’don’t have to come pick me up.”

I wasn’t sure she heard me at first, but she launched into Your father blah blah blah soon enough and took away any doubt. Your father doesn’t want you riding home in the dark and Your father wants you home in time for dinner and Your father is having someone over tonight so you’re going to have to clean up and look nice.

A guest, of course. That’s why the Olds was dripping perfume, why Mom had her Sunday maternity dress on, hair shellacked up high on her head. JimDad’s business partner, Virgil, was coming by.  Another Nevadan, Mom rattled on, but from up Ely way. I bent nearly in half trying to jam myself into the crack of the seat and hopefully disappear, but it didn’t work. I was going to have to shine up for some stranger when all I wanted to do was hole up in my room and think about my husband-to-be.

You remember the Marlboro Man? All manly squint and creases, tall and solitary out there on the range. That was Virgil, tilting under the chandelier into our entryway, smiling like a movie star, doffing his hat to show the craziest red hair you ever saw. You could smell the wide open spaces on him, even in his pressed Sunday shirt and shiny boots, you could see these were the special-occasion duds. Virgil the non-smoking Marlboro Man. He called Mom Ma’am instead of Sister, and MaryEllen was Little Missy. MaryEllen was all over him, playing Horsie even though she was clearly too big for it, giggling and shaking her curls. Mike and Denny were just like the girls that waited on our porch to see them, looking up at Virgil with shining eyes. He dubbed them Pete and Re-Pete, and they both laughed like doofusses who’d just heard that corny old joke for the first time.

I got stuck with Tonto for a nickname. I was quiet all through dinner and his stories of miraculous healings and seeing his horse’s spirit ascending into heaven (“That’s how I know animals – or at least some of them – are resurrected, too,” he said, winking at me), while its body lay at his feet. He told about casting devils out of a young girl who had tossed two grown men the length of a room, and a mountain pass in Montana where he looked up to see ball lightning as big as a house bouncing back and forth between two radio towers on the peaks above his head. He said there were places in the world where you could reach up and touch the Northern Lights (“But you shouldn’t ‘cause it’s known to cause instant and lifelong insanity,” he warned my brothers), and others where the men are the ones who wear makeup and bright clothes, and every year they have a beauty pageant judged by the women of the tribe.

JimDad looked all puffed up like he did the day he brought home that first Cadillac, like he was saying See what a great thing I got? Mom sure was a lot more impressed with Virgil than she ever was with that Cadillac, laughing loud at all his jokes and giving him seconds of her special green beans with French fried onions.


Old Virg became a regular fixture at our house in no time, putting his boots up on the coffee table and talking football with Dad or joshing Mom about how big she was getting, she looked like she was going to pop any minute, but I knew she had a long way to go yet.

It was Virgil hanging around when Mom opened the letter from school about me not being quite up to snuff in class. She was working up a good head of steam when Virg butted in.

“Give the kid a break,” he said. “Ol’ Tonto’s a deep thinker, you can tell. You just let her alone, and she’ll turn out to be Valedictorian, you see if she doesn’t.”

I glared at him before heading off to my room. Mom was giggling and bumped him with her hip in an Oh, stop kind of way just as I ducked around the corner.


Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California.  Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle. 

Read more stories by Caitlin Myer


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