Sunday, December 6, 2015

'Leaving Brayton:' What Happened When Heather Left?

Josh Montgomery...the poor guy put his little sister on a bus bound for Memphis with nasty bruises all over her face and neck. He only wanted to protect her. I'm not sure why it took so long for me to consider the hell HE went through when she didn't arrive at her destination. 

Sometimes backstory is worth exploring in greater detail. I learned this as I was writing The Long Road to Heaven. In order to better acquaint myself with the characters in the story -- to flesh them out, if you will -- I wrote a novel-length backstory about how the love affair between Nick Tyler and Heather Montgomery blossomed. 

But I never considered delving into what happened to her brother, Josh, when Heather left. Then a friend mentioned it to me after she read The Long Road to Heaven, and I began seeing vivid images of what might have occurred. I eventually had to put pen to paper...I mean, fingers to keyboard

I figured why not share some of it here? So, without further ado, I'm presenting this scene from this The Long Road to Heaven backstory called, "Leaving Brayton." 

To set the scene, it's early April 1975, and Josh Montgomery put his sister on a bus bound for Memphis, Tenn., after she came to him in the middle of the night with bruises covering her face and neck. It's now nearly 36 hours later. 

* * *

Wisps of steam stopped rising from the bowl of soup in front of Josh nearly twenty minutes ago. With his spoon, he dredged the broth, churning up chunks of potatoes, carrots and chicken he found about as appetizing as a mouthful of silage. Across the table, Silas eyed his supper with the same lack of enthusiasm. 
            “She shouldn’t have run off like that.”
            Josh lifted his gaze from the stew. His grip around the utensil tightened to such a degree it left imprints in his skin.
            “She just doesn’t use the brain God gave her.”
            The spoon clanged against the table as Josh threw it down. “This isn’t anybody’s fault but yours.”
            “Mine?” Silas drew his arms over himself and shivered. “She’s the one who ran off. You’re the one who put her on the bus.”
            The legs of the chair dragged against the floor as Josh rose. “Did you see what you did to her? Do you think about how much you’re hurting her when you smack her around?”
            Silas jerked with a start as Josh slapped his hand flat against the table.
            “You don’t get to blame us for this mess.”
             Silas shoved his bowl across the table. It skidded over the edge and spilled onto the floor. “You know what that girl went and did?” His voice rose like a squall.
            “I don’t give a shit what you think she did. Nothing…” He pointed an accusing finger at his father’s face. “Not a damn thing is worth what you did to her. I’m just sorry I didn’t grab Sheriff Walker on my way back.”
            “Boy…don’t you get…”
            The shrill peal of the telephone filled the room, cutting short the familiar signs of Silas’ building rage. Josh turned and plucked the receiver from its cradle but, before he could greet the caller, Lily’s frazzled voice filled his ear: “I can’t find her.”
            Josh felt the room shrink around him. “What do you mean you can’t find her?”
            “Just what I said: I can’t find her.” Lily took an audible breath, as if winding herself up to let go. “I went down to the station. The bus arrived on time, but she wasn’t there.”
            “Well, was she at least on it?”
            “I don’t know. No one could tell me for sure. So then I went to the police station and explained what was happening.”
            A line of panic spread through Josh, a result of the long-held fear that the law would one day step in and the private mess of the Montgomery family would become painfully public. Glancing back at his father and then down to the puddle of stew slopped onto the floor, Josh realized he didn’t care anymore and not calling Sheriff Walker might’ve been his biggest mistake. That realization made Lily’s response even more painful when he asked, “What did they say?”
            “They said it sounds like she ran away, and she’ll probably turn up in a few days when she gets hungry.”
            He lifted his hand to his mouth, turned his back to his father in case the plight to fight back the tears that came with the worry and guilt overwhelmed him.
            “What do we do?”
            A long silence filled the line before Lily finally said, “Grady said we’re going to go back to the bus station in the morning. Maybe someone will be around then to tell us something. We’ll see if we can find where the bus stopped between here and there. That at least might give us something to go on. Other than that…”
            “That’s a good idea.” Josh glanced over his shoulder at his father again. “It’s too bad some of your good sense didn’t wear off on your younger brother.”
            “Josh,” Lily’s voice possessed equal measures of composure and rebuke. “Now isn’t the time. Your father may have his problems, but he does love you kids."
             A short, sarcastic snort shook Josh. “He sure as hell has a funny way of showing it.”
Want to know what happened to Heather? Buy Kathryn Harris' high-concept contemporary novel THE LONG ROAD TO HEAVEN now through Amazon in paperback for only $9 through New Year's Day and in digital download for Kindle for only 99 cents. 

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The Long Road to Heaven by Kathryn  Harris

The Long Road to Heaven

by Kathryn Harris

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