Authors: Boo Walker
Tags: #'mystery, #suicide, #kidnapping, #alcoholic, #charleston, #beaufort, #bluegrass, #farmers market'
OFF YOU GO
Also by Boo Walker
TURN OR BURN
This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the
author’s imagination or are used fictiously, and any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely
Copyright © 2014 by Boo Walker
All rights reserved.
Published by Sandy Run Press
Cover art by Karri Klawiter
For Patty and Bert.
I can feel your love all the way from
Florida. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of her.
OFF YOU GO
I ain’t broke, but brother
I’m badly bent.”
She’d been watching him for a while. First
from the parking lot, then from near the stage, where an old Gullah
man thumbed his way through the blues on a beat-up pawnshop
acoustic. Despite the heat and humidity of late summer, the
farmer’s market in Mt. Pleasant on Coleman Boulevard was packed
with natives and tourists alike, lined up to fill their bags with
local produce and all things pickled, and to taste the saltwater
taffy and the boiled and fried—yes, fried—peanuts, along with the
homemade popsicles and whatever else in the growing variety of
Dewey Moses fumbled for the pack of American
Spirits next to the cash register and fired one up. He handed the
man in front of him his change and thanked him.
Next,” he said, eyeing
the woman who had been watching him. She was now four back in the
line, holding a stack of Dewey’s famous black heirloom tomatoes,
Cherokee Purples. He worked his way through the cigarette and
whittled down the line of people, throwing in two or three free
jalapeños to anyone who spent more than twenty bucks.
He finally got to her, his curiosity
Afternoon, ma’am. That
all for ya today?” He took the ‘maters—as his grandpa, the man who
taught him how to grow things, had called them—from her hands and
gingerly placed them in a brown paper bag. If Dewey died today,
they could spit on his grave for a multitude of reasons; but they’d
have to remember what he could do in the garden, especially with
his tomatoes. At least there was that.
Are you Dewey Moses?” the
woman asked. She had wise eyes that Dewey had seen in many women
over the years, the kind of wisdom and strength you can only find
in the eyes of a mother. Her brown hair appeared to be colored.
Wrinkles of age creased her forehead; perhaps she was a
grandmother. She had a figure that told him that she’d cooked her
fair share of fried seafood and apple pies, too. Not that Dewey was
judging. He didn’t do that. But he couldn’t help but notice the
littlest things about every person, every situation. It was a gift
and curse at the same time.
You’re not the IRS, are
you?” he responded.
She furled her brow. “Of course not.”
FBI? CIA? DEA? DIA? PGA?
NRA? MLS? NBA?”
What in heavens are you
He smiled genuinely. “Yes, I’m Dewey Moses.”
He removed his plaid fedora, bowed slightly, and took her hand.
“And you, my dear?”
She blushed. “I’m Faye Callahan.”
Dewey had been told all
his life that he made great first impressions. Enough people had
told him that that he believed it, and he attributed it to an early
life lesson. His grandfather had taught him to love people, even
Despite their shortcomings and
faults or opposite thoughts
Dewey still thought that might have been the best piece of advice
he’d ever received.
He gently squeezed her hand and said, “It’s
a pleasure. What can I do you for?”
She looked around and then whispered, “I
hear you are good at getting to the bottom of things.”
Dewey put his hat back on and looked around.
“That’ll be six bucks for the ‘maters.” He lowered his voice. “I’ll
throw my number in the bag. Call me in a couple hours. Okay, Mrs.
She nodded and went on her way. Amazing how
word spreads, he thought. Before long, he would need to hire help.
And to think it had all started when his neighbor at the market
asked him to find her son. He had stolen her car and run away, and
she didn’t want to call the cops. Using a parabolic dish, Dewey was
able to listen in on a conversation in the teenager’s high school
parking lot. Two days later Dewey found the woman’s son down in Key
At 2 p.m., Dewey packed up the vegetables he
hadn’t sold into the back of his long bed truck. As he always did
before starting the engine, he took a moment to look at the picture
of his family next to the speedometer. His wife, Erica, and two
daughters, Sonya and Elizabeth. With his shorter stature and his
angular features—his somewhat sharp chin and nose—Dewey didn’t
consider himself to be the most attractive man in the world, but
somehow, he’d landed the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Erica
stole every show. Made every other woman stare. Thank God his
daughters looked more like her!
That picture was the closest he’d been to
them in a year and a half, and his heart broke over that more and
more every day. He thought he’d known pain in his life, but that
wasn’t the case at all. Nothing, including losing his sister to
cancer, compared to what he was going through now.
He cruised back to his little place in the
woods on John’s Island with the window rolled down, chomping on an
apple. Right as he was pulling into the driveway, his phone
Dewey, it’s Faye. We
Sure. I’m glad you
called.” He put the truck in Park and ran his hand through his
blonde beard. “What can I help you with?”
I’d prefer to talk about
it in person. Is that possible?”
Of course, Mrs.
Please call me
Faye, if it’s not too
much trouble, why don’t you ride out to my place on John’s Island?”
Dewey gave her the address, and she said she’d be there in an
She was right on time. Dewey had unpacked
the crates of vegetables and fixed a leak in his irrigation system
out back, and now he was on the front porch in a rocking chair with
a plate on his lap and tomato juice running down his chin from the
glorious veggie sandwich he’d put together. He’d grown almost every
ingredient: tomatoes, green and red peppers, basil, sprouts,
onions, and greens. Then he’d topped it off with some homemade
pickles, homemade jalapeño hot sauce, and mustard and Vegenaise,
all in between two pieces of fresh cracked wheat bread he’d traded
for back at the market.
He took one last bite and set the plate down
on the little table. Then he stood and lit up a Spirit with a
Please come up,” he said,
as she stepped out of her BMW convertible, eyeing his
Dewey didn’t have much left but the cabin
and his instruments. Erica had kicked him out of their house, and
she’d taken the girls. But he didn’t blame her a bit. In a few
days, he’d be one year sober, but before that, his sister’s
untimely death had sent him on a three-year binge as a full-blown
vodkaholic. Put it this way…Bloody Marys had been his way of
getting nutrients; vodka and water his way of hydrating.
One thing that gave him some sense of relief
was that he had never been a mean or violent drunk. He’d never
screamed at his girls or anything of the kind. Though it was
certainly nothing to be proud of, he had been more of a funny
drunk, embarrassing himself to no end. There was the time he
flipped his riding lawn mower after too many beers. The time he
woke up the neighborhood doing his best Pavarotti impression in his
underwear. Or the time he stood up on a plane to New York and tried
to lead the passengers in a rendition of “Ramblin’ Man” by The
Allman Brothers Band. All embarrassing…but no one had gotten
Now, none of those stupidities were funny at
all, and the only thing that mattered in his world was getting his
family back. The divorce wasn’t final, so he still had hope. He was
a changed man, and with all the work he’d put into himself, he
thought he deserved a second chance. He loved Erica and the girls
more and more every day, and he’d never give up.
He’d been forced to leave their house over
in James Island and make permanent residence in their cabin on
John’s Island one bridge away. The one-story log cabin was right in
the middle of their five acres, three miles from any other signs of
life. Just the way they liked it. It was raised six feet off the
ground and had a nice front porch, but there was a lot of work that
needed to be done.
The best part about the property was the
fertile soil. The land had never been farmed before and was chock
full of good nutrients. He could grow cucumbers longer than your
arm and jalapeños that could melt your wrinkles.
Along with ditching the Russian firewater,
he had adapted a new lifestyle that had made an enormous
difference. It was one that his wife had been trying to convert him
to since they’d met at the College of Charleston. Organic tea
instead of coffee. Cauliflower instead of steak. Yoga instead of
long, worthless conversations at the Crabshack that would not be
remembered the next day by either him or the strangers he’d been
talking to. He’d even traded in pesticides for an organic approach
in the garden. The only thing he had no intention of shaking were
his smokes. He’d switched from Marlboro Reds to American Spirit
Lights, but that was as far as he planned to go. For now, at least.
He had to hold onto something from his past, almost like he needed
a reminder. He’d lost twenty pounds and gotten back to his college
weight, and despite the cigarettes, he ran three miles four days a
week. Not bad for a guy staring forty in the face.
He offered Faye a hand as she made her way
up the steps to the porch, but she waved him off and used the rail
I like your shoes,” she
Thank you.” She was
referring to his red Converse All-Stars. “I have them in every
color. Today seemed like a red kind of day.”
They both sat in rocking chairs and made
small talk for a moment. He noticed the heft of her Southern
accent. It wasn’t the country-bumpkin kind, more like the haughty
I’m-sixth-generation-Charleston kind. She held the “Char” in
Charleston long enough for Dewey to blow a smoke ring into the air
and watch it rise. He loved hearing that accent; it reminded him of
his deceased grandfather, Pappy, who had raised him from the age of
That porch offered a wonderfully peaceful
view looking out into the Carolina woods. There were no signs of
human disturbance at all, just the grand old oaks dripping moss
like honey and the hundreds of pine trees and the squirrels playing
Tarzan amongst it all.
Dewey pushed back in his seat and said, “All
right, Faye. Talk to me.”