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Tuesday Teaser: Eddie’s Prize

This is from when Lisa is coming into Kearney for the first time. She and Carla are in a horse-drawn wagon a day after the plane crash.

 

Carla leaned toward Lisa. “Are you okay?” she asked with compassion. “Are you thinking about the little boy?”

Lisa nodded jerkily. Unlike some children she had encountered on planes, the four-year-old redhead sitting in the seat in front of her had been a perfect angel, quietly coloring and playing giggling peek-a-boo games with his mother. When the plane had finally come to its metallic screeching stop on the prairie, the mother was dead and the little boy so badly hurt that he could only cry almost soundlessly. Lisa had picked him up and numbly carried him out of the plane, allowing Carla to help her down to the ground, but never letting the boy go. She had hummed to him while he bled and cried and finally died. Lisa didn’t know what his last name had been. His mother had called him Alexander. All she had left of him was his blood on her clothes and the memory of his half-smile when he looked up at her right before he died.

That memory was too precious and too painful to linger on at this moment. There were other people counting on her and Carla now, those too hurt to go for help themselves, who needed doctors so they could live. The mayor of Kearney, Nebraska would get the crash survivors the help they needed. Even the crazy men from Odessa had done what they could to help by bringing them here. For the two hundredth time, Lisa forced her thoughts away from the crash to focus on the here and now.

 She stared past the driver’s shoulder. “Is this an actual town? It looks as dilapidated as some of the abandoned houses we passed on our walk.”

 Buildings looked like they had been half torn down and their windows taken away. There was a familiar fast food restaurant to their right, looking like it had been out of business for fifty years, abandoned for the elements to fade and wear away.

“The recession must have hit this area hard,” Carla suggested doubtfully.

 Further in, roads became smoother, and it looked like efforts had been made to clean things up. They rolled past walls that separated whole blocks. The road went from dirt to something like cobblestones. The wagon seat bounced like a car with bad shocks. Even Carla, tough as she was, looked a little green. Lisa was afraid her lunch was going to escape. Soon they began seeing people, all men, come out of buildings and take notice of them.

“Women!” shouted one, pointing at the wagon.

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