Friday Fiction - Zeke

I'm not doing NaNo this year,
(and I miss being part of the fun)
but I'm revising my Phoebe novel
with a more focused point-of-view.

Here is one section I just worked on -

(Zeke is younger, but I haven't found a picture of him, yet.)


Zeke took off his hat and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, I had a look-see at that there wagon this morning. It doesn’t look so good. The wheel is twisted, and the axle is cracked. I nailed a patch on it, but it won’t last very long. Now, I know this fella’ in Poestenkill, the next town over. He can fix just about anything. I can pull your wagon behind mine and see what he says.”

Maseppa focused on the stream of milk and didn’t speak. She untied Lolly and led her to another patch of tall grass. Zeke followed her. She finally said, “I not have money, but I find berries, apples, mint, roots. My mother show me how to find them.”

“Hey, that’s a good idea! I know folks who would want those things -maybe the doc or the gen’ral store. We can ask around.”

Maseppa strained the fresh milk through a thin cloth. She poured some for Phoebe and handed the bucket to Zeke. “How much you like?”

“M-m-m, I ain’t had fresh milk in a long time. I have a tin pail in my wagon. Thank you much!” He sprinted away on his long legs.

Maseppa looked at Phoebe’s wet clothes and frowned. She found another dress and hung the soggy one on a nearby bush in the sunshine. After a breakfast of pan-fried cornbread and Lolly’s milk, they folded the bedding and packed up. Zeke returned with an empty milk tin, which he washed in the stream before Maseppa filled it.

“I see you’re ready to go. I’ll help you carry things up to the road. I hitched your wagon to the back of mine. Looks like one of those new fangled locomotives!” He gathered up some bundles as he talked.

Maseppa saved a few coals and covered the fire with dirt. She handed Phoebe a sack, while she carried the bedding and kettle. Zeke tied Lolly in back and hitched Ginger beside a big black horse.

Maseppa walked slowly around the strange wagon. There were pans, kettles, tools, and things she never saw before hanging on the sides. At the back was a door that opened at the top. Inside, she could see bolts of cloth, kegs, wash tubs, and hundreds of little boxes.

(Maybe Zeke is more like Danny Kaye.)

“A regular gen’ral store on wheels! Anything you want or need… I have it. Needles, buttons, tubs, and pans… jewelry and fancy perfume, too!“

Phoebe tip-toed to see over the edge. “There’s a bed in here, too! Is this your home?”

“Yep, I live anywhere my wheels and Ol’ Sam can take me.” He patted the big horse’s rump.

Maseppa grasped Phoebe’s hand. “Ondàs, come.”

Phoebe skipped to the front and climbed onto the seat. A roof extended over their heads, and a little window with a sliding panel was behind them.

Zeke sat on one side, and Maseppa held Phoebe on her lap. Zeke arranged the long leather reins and clucked his tongue at Ol’ Sam and Ginger. The horses snorted and tugged the heavy load. They strained for a few steps, but were soon clip-clopping along.

The peddler’s wagon rattled and jangled over the bumpy road. Phoebe giggled and squirmed trying to see everything at once. Zeke began whistling in time to Ol’ Sam’s feet. Maseppa sat silently, looking straight ahead.

They soon entered Poestenkill, a quiet village on the bank of the Hoosick River. A sawmill, store, and a few houses huddled close together. Zeke pulled their wagons close to the mill and stopped. Jumping down, he disappeared in a wide open door.

A couple men sat in rocking chairs on the store’s porch across the road. They stared at the strange caravan and the two sitting on the seat. Phoebe whispered, “Why do those men keep looking at us?”


Soon Zeke returned with a man in a red flannel shirt covered with sawdust. They ambled toward the broken wheel and axle, discussing what would be needed to repair it. Maseppa climbed down from the wagon.

Zeke said, “Ma’am, this here is James Morgan. He says he can have it repaired in a couple days.”

Maseppa nodded.

Mr. Morgan didn’t look at the wheel anymore. His face darkened and his eyes squinted. He crossed his arms and stared at Maseppa as Zeke rambled on about finding them beside the road last night.

“I ain’t going to fix it,” the man interrupted.

“What? You just said it wouldn’t take long.”

“This your woman?”

“No, this is her wagon. It slid off the road, and I’m just helping her.”

“I ain’t helping no Injun!”

“I’ll pay you,” insisted Zeke.

“I ain’t helping no Injun lover either!” He pivoted away. ”I wouldn’t trust a cheating peddler and a thieving Injun any farther that I can spit!” He shot a stream of tobacco juice at Zeke’s feet and stomped back to his mill.

The two men on the porch chuckled.

Zeke turned to them, “Go ahead and laugh. We’ll just go somewhere else. Don’t come crying to me the next time you need something!”

He swung himself up next to Maseppa and Phoebe and flicked the reins at Ol’ Sam and Ginger a little harder than usual. The horses jumped at the sharp treatment, but trotted away as fast as the crippled wagon train could go. Maseppa stared straight ahead. Zeke growled under his breath. “I’m sorry I put you through that, Ma’am.”

“It not be your fault.”

“It was all I could do to keep from giving him a bloody nose.”

“It not be any good.”

“Maybe not, but I would ‘a felt better!”

~ ~ ~

For more NaNo excerpts and other stories,


Joanne Sher said...

I can definitely see Zeke as Danny Kaye - or at least Kaye-ish. Great descriptions. It's really coming along nicely, VOnnie!

Sarah Elisabeth said...

Loved the closing thought, lol. Fit your characters well.

Mari said... I the only one that had a heavy twangy tone in my voice inside my head as I read this? :) I found myself remembering the Children's church material I used years ago with Gospel Bill.

Good stuff.

Sparrow said...

Loved getting to know your characters and their setting a bit more!

Sara Harricharan said...

Oooh, I remember reading this snippet a LONG time ago. I still get ticked off with the guy and I'm with Zeke--I would've liked to deck him, regardless of what trouble it would have or wouldn't have fixed. Nicely done, Vonnie!


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