The Sights on Cow Bayou: Rural Noir Flash Fiction By Cesca Janece Waterfield
Cesca Janece Waterfield, author of The Sights on Cow Bayou, has previously published short fiction in Scalawag, Writers Resist, Deep South, Foliate Oak, Writers Resist, and more. Her chapbook The Oyster Garden is was published by Selene Pressworks in 2020. She received the 2017 Editor’s Prize in Fiction from MARY: A Journal of New Writing judged by Natalie Baszile.
The man’s limbs were akimbo on the sodden grass dotted with crawfish chimneys. He might have fallen off the porch of the dogtrot house behind him. But there was no one on this isolated bayou who would call an ambulance now. Judging by the blood from his chest and belly mixing into the mud, it wouldn’t have mattered if there were.
On the horizon the dying man sensed was blinking with tiny explosions, he doped out his life in the small gladness it had proffered, stations on a joyride fueled longer than he’d expected. Goring the Huongs’ passel of hogs with a katana sword for fun. Pouring road salt into the roots of old man LeBleu’s satsuma trees. The working girls he’d watched asphyxiate under his knuckles at The Lucky Delta Motel. Not a bad run, zero regrets. How the world did spin. Just an hour before, he was down at the The Rail, shooting mezcal. That old rail, well, it was a road now, and his ran out here.
In her ‘67 Nova, Bingo LeBleu arrowed through rain blanketing I-10. Its G-machine chassis was a steel bull but the balding tires hydroplaned, and the king cake next to her was sliding around the vinyl seat pocked with cigarette burns. The cake was for her older sister, Viola. Vi had been born with a brain and spinal cord disorder, a birth defect not so unusual in this region known as “Cancer Alley.” Because she couldn’t speak more than a few words, everyone in the town of Vidor, Texas, called her “Vi Baby” though she turned 30 tomorrow. Since their father died a year ago, Vi was living alone at the homestead on Cow Bayou.
Bingo’s phone throbbed and she fished it out of her camo jacket with her right hand. It was her little sister, Rhyme.
“Bingo, you gotta meet me out back of Whataburger. By yourself.”
The cake was for her older sister, Viola. Vi had been born with a brain and spinal cord disorder, a birth defect not so unusual in this region known as “Cancer Alley.”
Bingo jived, “Is it a deep fryer emergency?” But her little sister wasn’t in a joking mood. The alarm in Rhyme’s voice reminded Bingo of old times. “Alright, I’m right close.” Bingo slid the call closed, squinted past the single windshield wiper for the exit, and sighed: What now.
Bingo had been setting her blinker to that off-ramp since she was 15, when her neighbors, Chinh and his wife Bian, hired her at their restaurant, Huong’s Quik Bite. Not much more than a formica counter serving plate lunches, it thrived, thanks to guests at The Lucky Delta Motel next door, its casino-bar The Rail, and to a series of billboards advertising to everybody speeding west to Houston its efficient drive-through at exit 861. By the time Bingo had graduated high school, Chinh and Bian were able to buy a Whataburger franchise, and the little cinderblock building that had once housed the Quik Bite was dozed. An angular dome in orange and chrome went up and Bingo’s little sister Rhyme got her own orange polo and ball cap embroidered with echoing white W’s.
Rhyme was waiting under the back awning when Bingo pulled up. “I got five minutes,” Rhyme said. With both hands she pushed a take-out bag toward Bingo.
“Rhyme, I’m not hungry–”
“It’s not lunch— ” Rhyme hesitated. “It’s a pistol that was in my purse,” Bingo spun toward the parking lot in disbelief as Rhyme pleaded, still holding the bag– “Bingo? I need you to get it out of here before I get caught again!”
“That fucking Hunter S. Thompson wannabe you shack up with is gonna kill somebody.” Bingo didn’t take the bag, she was thinking about how the Huongs had become second parents helping with daddy and Vi. Over the past year, their neighbors’ pirogue had become a familiar sight on Cow Bayou. Bian would bring pots of chayote and beef stir-fry, homegrown water spinach, and her motherly affection to comfort Vi. Bingo had six weeks left in the state-mandated sober house, and then she could move back to take care of Vi. Rhyme couldn’t lose this job, especially if it meant losing the Huongs. Bingo peered into the bag to confirm the safety, then put it in her jacket.
Rhyme’s boyfriend Wayne had a habit of getting three bourbons deep and then showing off his tactical defense moves in the center of the linoleum floor after flipping up the kitchenette table to make room in their RV. He worked his ass off at the refinery and seemed to adore Rhyme, or Bingo would have taken care of him already.
But he was obsessed with swords, guns, and Gonzo. One Saturday night a few months back, in the black light glow of a Slayer poster, Wayne demonstrated how he could kill a man with three fingers. Then he stood behind Rhyme, and taught her a proper two-hand hold with one of his 9mm handguns. Maybe the Parabellum slid into her purse during those late night antics. The next morning, when Wayne dropped Rhyme off at Whataburger, neither of them knew it was there. While she was cranking the overhead menu from breakfast to lunch, bossman Chinh called her into his office. He’d discovered the gun on the employee bathroom floor under Rhyme’s open purse.
Chinh had made clear, “If it was me, I wouldn’t care. You know I carry too.” His eyes met Rhyme’s. “But mine are registered.” She knew what he was getting at. They both knew hers was scrubbed of serial numbers, a ghost gun. He pointed to the orange “W” on his manager-white polo shirt and said, “We’re in the corporate eye now. This can’t happen again.”
That night in the RV, Rhyme stoically told her big sister about Chinh’s ultimatum while Bingo rolled a joint. She’d just passed her drug screen at the sober house and knew she had time till the next. Bingo listened, and the two of them silently picked over their bewilderment as they smoked. At last, Bingo laughed. A 9mm slipping free of a Nepalese hippie purse in a burger joint in Vidor!
They laughed again. An oiled barrel shining among the white paper of the generic tampons a female shift manager kept on the bottom shelf next to the RumChata! They laughed some more. Wielding the raconteur imagination they’d inherited from mama but had individually refined in the daily tribulations through which they tumbled, each one took turns describing the scene using her own perspective and lingo. Turned the image inside out, projecting it onto the other using different angles and brushstrokes, their Cubist project. They laughed until they forgot what they were laughing at. By the end of the night, their bewilderment had settled into the steely despondency they were used to.
Bingo wasn’t mad at Rhyme then. In the months that had led up to that night, her little sister had turned her life around. Got her GED and her license back. Turned everything around except her feelings for Gonzo Wayne.
Today in the Whataburger parking lot, Bingo was angry. “Is it so hard to — oh, I dunno — to not bring loaded handguns into the pickle station?” Rhyme lowered her eyes and chewed a cuticle. Bingo pointed at her, a threat, “I should let you lose this job, and teach you a lesson.” Rhyme sat down heavily on a dairy crate next to an overflowing ashtray.
Right then, Bingo knew there was something else. It wasn’t like Rhyme to miss an opportunity to spit back a wisecrack. It was their competition, the way other people in Orange County played blackjack or shot skeet. Rhyme was being too conciliatory.
But Bingo knew better than to assume the story’s holes. She’d keep quiet and let her sister stumble into them. She pulled out a Marlboro Light and slowly rolled the filter between her thumb and pointing finger, watching her little sister. She lit the cigarette and exhaled toward the sky. Finally, in a process of elimination, Bingo said, “You are not getting married.”
“That we are not,” Rhyme said. Bingo offered the cigarette to her sister, who for the first time since she was fourteen-years-old, shook her head no.
“Fuck, Rhyme! You can’t be!”
Rhyme lifted her chin defiantly. “Yeah, I am.” She stood up. “Due in November.” She pulled open the back door to get back to work. “I’ll let you know where I register for the baby shower. You know how I love pink.” The door slammed behind her. Bingo flung the cigarette as her boots punched a path to her car. The Whataburger back door opened wide enough for Rhyme’s ball cap and ponytail to poke out. “‘Preciate ya, Bingo!”
Bingo drove her key into the ignition and evaluated the day so far: Little sister knocked up by a sword and gun nut, job on the line with the only people who love and help care for Vi who is already showing signs of the early-onset dementia that runs in the family line. Makes you wonder what we can get ourselves into by sundown, she said to her shaking hands. In the cocoon of her Nova, Bingo sobbed.
Cow Bayou, formed at the junction of Gum Slough and Dognash Gully, runs southeast thirty miles to the Sabine River that links Louisiana and Texas. Barge traffic in the early 20th century cut wakes in its narrow canals, which irrigated rice farms. In the 1960s, town fathers launched a project to dredge a basin for newer, larger barges to turn around. But oil wells blocked completion and Cow Bayou sloshed along with no turning basin.
Growing up there, Bingo recognized a similar dead end. Few of her high school classmates made it out. Instead, most of them went to work in one of the refinery plants, fish camps, or roadside casino-bars that catered to oilfield workers housed in man-camps. Bingo had made it as far as Linda Woodman State Jail in Houston two years ago. She had six weeks left in her sentence, which she was finishing at a sober house in Port Arthur. She had some privileges there, like this night away to celebrate with Vi.
When Bingo swept in with the king cake balanced on her arms, Bian was sitting at the LeBleu’s kitchen table. Bian stood up, lifted the box top. “Where you get it?”
“Rao’s, girl! Port Arthur’s finest.”
Bian glanced toward the porch and asked with a hush, “Which piece has the baby?” Finding the tiny toy baby in a slice of king cake symbolizes luck to whoever gets it.
Bingo leaned in: “I had ‘em fill this thing with babies.”
Bian’s face broadened in a smile. Bingo pimp-walked across the floor to the cupboard. “Vi loves to find the baby. I’m a pro-fessional.”
“You a mama bear!” Bian wagged her finger. “I saw it back when you was hanging at my bar.”
Bingo pulled out a water glass. Bian said, “We miss you down at The Rail.”
Bingo flushed. She doubted that was true. Bian touched the younger woman’s forearm: “But I’m real proud of you.” Bingo nodded.
Bian pulled her small frame into a stretch and said, “Speak of the devil, I gotta get down there. Baby out back.” As she left, she called out, “Mama bear!”
At the sound of Bian’s Ford turning right onto Farm-to-Market Road, Bingo said to the tabletop, “Somebody had to be.”
Whether he was messed up in the Vietnam War or from his own brutal childhood, one thing was certain: Roch LeBleu had bruised his two younger daughters worse than any that showed on his own ropy frame. The only one he had left alone was Vi. Sheriff Merritt let Bingo slide more than once because her father’s beatings were no secret in town, even as the girls grew into women. One night Merritt pulled Bingo over for weaving on Texla Road. At the rolled-down window, Bingo smiled at his familiar woolly white beard and slurred hello behind pinprick pupils, her cheeks wearing the rose of a fresh high. Sheriff Merritt escorted her to the end of Texla, and left down Farm-to-Market Road at 20 miles an hour, Bingo following behind. That kindness convinced her to throw away her rig. She replaced it a week later. An arrest and lock-up in Houston not long after got her clean after she kicked in jail.
This evening, Bingo peeled off her damp jacket and stored the gun still in the Whataburger bag on the top of the chifforobe in her old room. Under her fingers slid a dusty picture tinted by oxidation of her mother Marie sitting on a stump a satsuma tree. She clasped a branch, pretending to steer a tractor, and laughter animated her young face. Tears blurred Bingo’s eyes as she remembered mama telling the girls wild stories, adopting voices, and gesturing to inhabit characters. Like the one about Père Mal Feuilles, the Cajun mossman. Sometime after mama passed, Bingo realized she’d told that story to keep the girls from wandering too far into the centipede grass and cypress trees. Bingo slipped the picture into the nightstand drawer and went to find Vi.
She was sitting on the porch double swing. Shortly after daddy died, Vi had become convinced he visited her at night. Bingo sat down next to her.
“Hey, sweet girl.”
Vi’s head jerked up. Her eyes searched Bingo’s, distraught. Words rose up in Vi’s consciousness like the russet color she studied when she poured boiled water over a tea bag. Père came here again, she said. She remembered watching daddy work on the tractor, and behind a pale mist, she saw a pawl clamber a cogwheel and almost catch. But it slid loose. Words curled like fiddleheads mama used to forage by the swamp. But before she could pinch and pull them up into the angled light of the room, her head darkened like the teacup.
“Maybe he misses you and wants to check on you,” Bingo said. She leaned her head on Vi’s shoulder and changed the subject. “You and me and Rhyme and all us are gonna celebrate your birthday tomorrow.”
When Bingo got up to pour them some iced tea, she saw on the kitchen table lay Bian’s asthma nebulizer. She dropped into one of the ladderback chairs and flicked the roller of her Bic forward, thinking.
When Hurricane Katrina passed southeast of New Orleans in August of 2005, Bian and Chinh were among more than a thousand Vietnamese-American families living in the neighborhood of Versailles, and like much of that community, they were among the city’s first to return and rebuild. The couple’s Roman Catholic church, Mary Queen of Vietnam, drew up prints for a new parish as part of a long-term plan for rebuilding.
But in the midst of clean-up, city officials declared that 2.6 million tons of debris would be dumped less than two miles from Versailles in unlined pits named for its bordering highway, Chef Menteur Landfill. Bian worried about contaminated water in the lagoon behind the couple’s house. Like most families here, she used it to water a small garden that grew bitter melon and sugar cane. When the mayor waived zoning regulations to approve the landfill, a community group the Huongs volunteered for filed a request for a temporary injunction against it. They knew Louisiana was a tarn of racism, money, and politics, but they were hopeful the landfill wouldn’t come about. There had been no environmental study and the community hadn’t been consulted. What’s more, it was likely to loom 80 feet above the neighborhood and church.
And it was across from Bayou Sauvage, the nation’s largest urban wildlife refuge: 23,000 acres of marshland home to egrets, herons, gators, and tens of thousands of seasonally migratory ducks. But a federal judge refused to issue the injunction. Moldering household contents — electronics, pesticides, fertilizers — and the remains of hurricane-ravaged houses that had been bulldozed were headed to the neighborhood she’d lived for twenty years, where she and Chinh had wed. The couple began scouting homes near Houston where they had family, and found the restaurant and a dogtrot house on Farm-to-Market Road in Vidor near the LeBleus. Bian and Marie LeBleu became friends. Marie died two years later and since then, Bian had been the only mother the girls had.
Bingo stared at a pineknot in the table and remembered her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor saying she was going to face a test sooner or later. Here it was: Hell or high water, she was going to deliver Bian’s nebulizer to her at The Rail, steps away from The Lucky Delta Motel.
Bingo pushed the scarred door open to a blast of music. A five-foot-tall crucifix constructed out of nicotine-stained clothespins still hung behind the liquor bottles. The familiar red vinyl armrest wrapped a horseshoe-shaped bar that drew up and disappeared into a cavernous ceiling. Bingo shoved her fists into her jacket pockets and stepped forward. That’s when she saw Kade in front of a bartop slot machine, boot on the foot rest, squinting into his hands to count out singles. At Bingo’s profile, he raised his head and grinned. “Is it really you?”
“No,”, Bingo answered. She squeezed her eyes shut in an embarrassed grin. “I mean, I’m just here to see Bian right quick.”
The first time she’d ever used was eight years ago with Kade, in a second floor room at The Lucky Delta that looked out over the filling station for semi trucks. They’d been drinking at The Rail and gone back to his room when he handed her a tube that she drunkenly thought was weed. It was heroin. From then on, they’d get the same room each weekend. For Kade, heroin was a diversion when he exchanged 80 bucks for a key and two nights away from the man-camp. But for Bingo, addiction came fast and hard, her dependence escalating over the coming months. She soon switched to shooting it.
Tonight she knew better than to stand around talking to Kade for long. But Bian was down the bar arguing with a girl who’d come in too high to serve. The girl whipped around and made her way to the exit. She kicked the door open and turned to let out a guttural howl. Bingo knew that girl, knew she’d make her way seven miles west to Beaumont to hunt down whatever she’d come here for. If she was high on road dope, she might go 50 miles east to Lake Charles and its scatter of casinos to find what might look like a windfall for a while.
Kade quipped, “As you can see, nothing has changed around here.” Bingo’s laugh disguised relief she wasn’t that girl anymore. She watched one of Rhyme’s coworkers rack up at the pool table and waited for Bian.
“Come back to my room?” Kade urged. “I could use some company.”
“I’m staying with Vi tonight,” Bingo said without looking at him. She slid the nebulizer down the bar. “Will you get this to Bian?”
He nodded. Bingo tapped the back of his chair twice, and turned to leave. At the mirror by the door, she slowed to see him lift a shot glass in toast to her.
In the parking lot, a wolf whistle yanked Bingo out of her trance. A figure was leaning against the grill of her car. “Jesus Christ, Doyle! You scared the piss out of me. What are you doing out here?”
Doyle pretended to ruffle the collar of his shirt. Business.
He lifted a juice concentrate can to his lips and spewed a string of dip spit into it as Bingo dug for her keys.
“I might could have something you want,” he said. “Black tar, gray death, too–”
Bingo cut him off. “Nobody here interested.” She unlocked her door.
“You heading back to Port Arthur, Bingo?” Doyle, always needling her to party.
“Of course I am,” Bingo lied. She stiffened her back. “I’m not one of your customers anymore.”
Doyle lifted his palms up, surrender.
Across the parking lot, in the bay of the drive-through window, Rhyme watched Bingo and Doyle. She had an hour left to close, but she told Chinh, as soon as he switched off the “Open” light, she had to find Bingo.
Back at the homestead, Vi Baby was asleep, but Bingo paced and worried, restless. She’d spent almost 24 months now in one or another institutional room or lock-up. When she was a girl, she practically lived out of doors. She went to the hunting cabinet and pulled out one of daddy’s headlamp hats he’d used to go coon hunting. It had been too long since she’d gone for a night walk. She stepped quietly on to the breezeway and down the steps to the bank.
The bayou is home to an astonishing range of life, including red fish, speckled trout, flounder, shrimp, and wading birds, and plants from Spanish moss to willow trees. Bingo was hoping to see her favorite: poppy mallow in purple, pink, or white that bloomed in March.
Predators thrive in the bayou, too, from gators to bobcats. Since girlhood, Bingo had been fascinated by spiders, like the nocturnal wolf spider that scuttled the ground for prey. She shined her headlamp out along the bayou floor and looked inside the shirred edge of light for wolf spider eyes glimmering green against the dark loam. Clathrus archeri fungi pinkened in the light like long lunulae of clasped fingers and spiderweb filaments flickered.
The night was dead quiet, not even a cricket whir. She turned off the headlamp and sat on the bank. She thought about before mama died, when the family went camping at Lake Eufala, swimming with mama and daddy and Vi and Rhyme in the backwaters. Daddy asked a neighboring camper to snap a photo and he picked up prints the following week. He licked photo corners and placed the picture in a vinyl-bound album: Five LeBleus hamming for the camera, held in one buoyant moment.
Just then, a barred owl hooted. But instead of comforting Bingo like the critter’s sound usually did, it only punctuated the silence that followed. Bingo shuddered and remembered after Hurricane Rita, when the girls and their parents came back to Cow Bayou. Silence so complete, it was a presence, transparent but solid. No dragonfly buzz, no breeze. The only sound was somebody miles away, taking a hammer to roofing board, building again what had been ripped from the earth by water and wind and the fist of fate.
That fucking fist, Bingo thought. With Rhyme expecting a baby and Vi Baby facing dementia, they had to stick together if they were going to survive.
Suddenly she heard an oar lap water. To her right, she could just make out a man in a pirogue, slowly but deliberately paddling toward the southern end of her house. Without taking her eyes off the figure, she crept back the way she’d come. He wore white shrimp boots, six inches of steel strapped to his right hip, and a bowie knife on the other. He tethered the boat to the LeBleu’s pier and unstrapped his knife.
At quitting time, Rhyme clocked out as Gonzo Wayne idled in his pickup in the parking lot. From his office, bossman Chinh cried out to the back of Rhyme’s head, “Trust your sister! Bingo is smarter than you think. And be careful!”
Rhyme entered through the kitchen of The Rail where the barback was mopping up. She marched up to Kade at the bar.
“You seen Bingo?” Rhyme’s brown eyes were flat bights of contempt. She knew what had gone down at The Lucky Delta.
“For a minute, yeah. Why?”
“I saw her talking to Doyle, and I’m scared. She’s come too far to go back now. Not back there, and not back to you.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“You know what I mean, Kade.” She made a circle in the air with her pointing finger: “What all us mean.”
Kade looked away and took a deep pull from his beer. “She said she’s staying the night with Vi.” That was all Rhyme wanted to know. With a flip of her palm, she dismissed him and hurried out to Gonzo Wayne, who’d turned the truck around to face Farm-to-Market Road.
“Wait, I’m going too!” Kade shouted. He reached his car just as Rhyme slammed her door and Wayne’s dual tires purled out of the lot. Rhyme jounced on the truck seat next to Wayne as he opened up the throttle. Kade didn’t know his way out to the homestead so from behind the wheel, his blue eyes bored tunnels through the black air to stare at the red rear lights of Gonzo Wayne’s truck. He wasn’t going to let them give him the slip in a curve around a stand of loblolly pines. He punched the accelerator.
Back at the restaurant, Chinh set the alarm, and looked over at the parking lot of The Rail, empty.
Bingo hollered, “Who the fuck are you and what are you doing on my land?”
The figure didn’t turn. Bingo snapped on her headlamp and it shined a corona on his broad back, swathed in a camouflage shirt of dark brown leaves. Her breath hung in the yellow-white glare of the light. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears as the past year unspooled in her mind. The bile-chawing truth stuck to her, like when she used to walk at night and stumble into a long-jawed spider web she couldn’t pull off. The truth kept spitting out spidersilk from spinnarets at the end of its black belly. Her mind scrambled to find any other explanation, but the web stretched to contain her.
Vi hadn’t been saying daddy was coming out to Cow Bayou. She’d been recalling the story their mama told them as girls, the legend of the mossman, Père Mal Feuilles. Father of the bad leaves.
“It’s you,” Bingo said. “You been coming out here nights.”
Finally, the man turned. It was Doyle. He parted his crusty lips and twisted his jaw to the left to protest, but stopped when he registered Bingo, unmoved. He bared his corroded teeth in a slow-starting laugh, then said, “From the beginning of time men have taken concubines. Even the Bible says so. Men ain’t sick. It’s you women can’t get a grip on reality what’s sick.”
He made a show of slicing through the loose end of the pirogue tether with his bowie knife. Still holding the knife, he walked over to Bingo and slid his cracked, butane-stinking thumb along her neck.
“But you the one I thought on, he said. So you better play nice, like your big sister.”
Bingo swatted his forearm. He snatched the waistband of her jeans and ripped her button fly open. She spun around to run, but he reached out and grabbed her neck, his thumb mashed against her occipital bone, fingers forming a cage as his trigger finger to his pinky raked and dug into her throat. He wrenched her head back to his cheek and lips as he drove his left arm tight around her torso. She smelled the rot of his breath as he growled, “You little dope whore.” She managed to slam the back of her head into his forehead with force enough to loosen his claw on her throat, then drove her chin under the ham of his thumb. She bit down hard, tasting blood and scurf and smelling something more dead than swamp dirt.
Doyle yanked back his right hand, then smacked Bingo’s spine, sending her belly-first onto the ground. She saw stars as her head smacked sideways down into the mud, her right nostril taking in a sluice of clay. He pinned her wrists down into her grandfather’s land, his knees sliding hollows in the muck as he worked his pants down. His bristly haunches were those of a wild pig rooting worms. Bingo saw an old Christmas ornament under the house blown against a stilt, then the lunch counter with mama, her straw, red-striped. Perfume bottle with lady shoulders, breathe. Peppermints in cut crystal, candy cane. Nana painted the tree trunks in her yard white, protects the bark. Pups squirming in a NAPA parts box, white speckles on their paws, breathe . . .
Suddenly, an explosion the color of satsuma pith mushroomed a few yards south and Bingo felt Doyle’s body above her jerk right. He crumpled, and Bingo understood the light was muzzle flash. He’d been shot. She tussled out from under him and saw blood behind his left ear. Vi had found the gun. Bingo dragged herself back to the steps as another shot to Doyle’s left shoulder sent him scrabbling onto his side, pants around his thighs, his manhood jiggling like a deer bladder. The third and fourth shots bit his chest and belly.
Bingo knew she had to get to Vi who must be terrified and confused. Truth told, she wanted to take the gun from her sister and fire a round into Doyle’s barrel chest herself. Bingo looked up through sweat and dirt to find Vi. She blinked: it was Bian, her small frame erect in an Isosceles Stance. In her two-hands, a 9mm, one of Chinh’s. Bingo stumbled up and over to Bian and, swaying, looked toward the rice field across Farm-to-Market Road.
Headlights angled through the pine trees and tires flung mud coming fast into the yard. It was Rhyme and Gonzo Wayne, even Kade. Recognition returned to Bingo, and then thought. Vi-baby appeared on the porch as Chinh’s car pulled up last. Bingo thought of her mama and her mean, broken down daddy and now that everybody was accounted for, her knees buckled her down to earth.
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