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Sourwater Slough, a Guest Post


dontravis.com blog post #332


Courtesy of GoodFreePhotos

This week, fellow author Donald T. Morgan gives us the Prologue to his unpublished novel Sourwater Slough. Set in southeastern Oklahoma (my old stomping grounds), the book is a murder mystery. Let him know if sounds interesting to you.


*****


SOURWATER SLOUGH


By Donald T. Morgan

Sourwater Slough along the Little Fork River, south of Clovertown, Oklahoma

Sucking putrid swamp air into his lungs in desperate, spastic gasps, he stood over the inert body. The rage of a moment ago dissipated like a dandelion riding the wind. Hands dangling at his sides, fingertips twitching, he swayed as his hammering heart slowed abruptly. Reality returned in the faint drip of water somewhere nearby, in the smear of blood on the rough, curling bark of the tree, in the rank stench of the bog.

“Come on. Get up,” he said in a near whisper.

Aw, hell. She wasn’t gonna get up. Ever. Oh, man, what now? It was an accident. Her fault. Anybody could see that. Anybody but that fat Malcolm County Sheriff, Joe Lee Buchanan. That redneck wouldn’t buy it. Not for a minute.

He’d just wanted to get it on. That’s what they’d come down here for—or he had, anyway. Wasn’t like they hadn’t done it before. Why’d she have to go squirrelly just because he brought her to the slough? She was usually a good sport, up for doing crazy things. When she’d bailed out of the truck in a snit, he’d laughed at the awkward way she skied in the mud. He got out and grabbed at her. But when his hand hit her shoulder, she went down in the slick sludge, banging her head on the bole of a tree.

His shoulders rose and fell in a sigh. God, she looked funny lying there. Too bad, but she ought not have treated him like dirt.

“Serves you right.”

The words echoing hollowly across the surface of the slough made his skin go clammy. Didn’t sound like his voice. More like a stranger’s. Was somebody in his head talking for him?

A splash down the shoreline puckered his flesh. He peered through the late afternoon haze. Fishermen? Frog giggers? But nothing stirred in the oppressive heat. Not a leaf. Just swarms of gnats and flies. Sourwater lay silent and mysterious, looking more like a pool of dirty motor oil than water. A thick canopy of branches overhead almost obscured the low bank of clouds hiding the sun. The heavy atmosphere made it hard to breathe. The bog reeked of death and decay. What the hell was he gonna do now?

Ripples near a cypress knee poking out of stale water morphed into a snake. The ugly moccasin gave him an idea. Nobody knew he’d brought her out here. He’d just leave her for the swamp. His great-granddaddy used to talk about a big alligator down in the bottoms. That sucker would take her for sure. Clean up after him so nobody’d ever find her. That was the answer. The slough knew how to take care of its dead. He frowned. Was that why he chose this funky place? Some fort of premonition?

A clap of thunder overhead and an answering rumble off to the south freed him from inertia. He slogged through the mud to his pickup for something to weigh her down. Rope was no good—too distinctive. Lots of cases got solved with nothing more than a hair. Watching “CSI” on TV taught him that.

A spool of fishing line might work. Everybody in the county had a reel, and it wouldn’t take fingerprints. But to be safe, he’d get a pair of work gloves from the pickup to handle everything.

He stripped to keep sweat from ruining his clothes. Buck naked, he scrounged enough rocks to fill two burlap sacks he found along the shoreline. Panting from his efforts, he lashed the frail, dead form to the bags with yards of filament. Man, even her thick hair looked different now. Lost its luster.

As he struggled to lift the trussed-up package, he slipped and fell on his face. He fought his way to his feet as the first raindrops crashed through the overhanging branches. When he rolled her into the slough, she slid a couple of feet and stopped. He recoiled as her big eyes stared at him.

He swiped his running nose and steadied himself. The weighted sacks had turned her in the shallows. She wasn’t looking at him. She wasn’t looking at anything.

He overcame an aversion to the revolting stew of sediment and noxious ooze and waded into the water, struggling with the bundle while trying to ignore thick muck squishing between his toes and snatching at his ankles like spectral fingers. Oh, hell. Where was that water moccasin? He fought to keep from bolting back to the shore. Fat raindrops raised pimples on the dark water, making it come alive. Green at the edges, the lagoon turned black toward the middle. Poisons leached up out of the ground, probably eating away his flesh.

Grabbing the body before he freaked himself out, he heaved with all his strength. His feet shot out from under him. He went down hard in the slimy mud. The girl seemed to clutch his chest. With a mindless squeal, he shoved her away and scrambled to find purchase on something solid, but the slippery bottom betrayed him. He floundered helplessly as Sourwater sucked him into her depths. He fought his way to the surface, splashing like a five-year-old who couldn’t swim. Reason returned, but not before he took a mouthful of filthy water. Coughing and gagging, his insides burning, he clawed his way to shore and threw up on the muddy bank.

While he struggled with his heaving stomach, a bolt of lightning struck a dead tree across the lagoon. Ear-splitting thunder left his head spinning. He tasted ozone on his tongue. His hair stood on end. Nerve endings sang like they were plugged into a live socket. That had been close. He snatched a look at the water, half expecting her to rise from the depths and come for him. But she was gone. Sourwater had her..

He studied the smoldering, lightning-struck snag across the way before raising his chin to the heavens and laughing uncontrollably.

“Missed me! And if you can’t get me, nobody can.”


*****


Spooky place to take a girl for a romantic assignation… but like the mysterious “he,” said, she was usually up for anything. But apparently not Sourwater. But was his date’s death an accident or “accidently on purpose?” Interesting. Maybe Don (the other Don) will give us another look down the line.



By the way, several readers had comments on the podcast interview Traci HalesVass of Radio KSJE did on The Bisti Business. Apparently, my voice didn't sound as weird to others as it did to me. We're scheduling another interview for sometime this summer with Abaddon's Locusts as the subject. I'm including the link in case you haven't listened to the podcast as yet.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-dxfzn-a9b9ad

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

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Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:



See you next week.


Don


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


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