I have been editing my second novel Quicksand. Here is a mockup of the cover, which may or may not be the final cover. I am interested in feedback.
The first chapter of the novel can be found after the break.
Jasperâ€™s hands shook as he took the jar of moonshine out of Cooperâ€™s hand. He handed Cooper the lead. He turned and walked away without looking back, though he could hear the cow lowing. He knew it wasnâ€™t close to a fair trade, and likely Delia would carry on like Jackâ€™s mother in the story about the magic beanstalk, but there would be no happy ending with a goose that laid golden eggs. Jasper would just get tight again and have to figure out how to get more whiskey. And the cow would just be gone. She might leave this time, and Jasper had to admit sheâ€™d be right to do it.
The drink, the drink! I am poisoned, he thought. It might be killing him more slowly than whatever Claudius put in that goblet, but it was killing him nonetheless.
When he opened the door and walked inside, Delia was not inside, but little Imogen was sitting on the floor poking a stick between the floorboards, trying to unearth something or other that had slipped down between them.
â€œDivine Imogen, where is your momma?â€ Jasper felt in his coat to catch the jar before it slipped.
â€œHanging the clothes,â€ Imogen replied, turning back to her work.
He could tell Delia now, or he could turn around and walk out the door, down the street and out of her life a few minutes sooner. She would find out anyway. He supposed she had the right to throw him out on his ear personally.
He found her out back, a clothespin in her mouth as she fixed his other shirt to the line. He could smell the clean linen snapping on the line. He ran a hand shakily through his hair.
â€œCooperâ€™s wife was just up this way. The way I see it, Jasper, you ainâ€™t never going to change your ways,â€ Delia said, fixing the clothespin to his shirt.
â€œDelia, Iâ€™m sorry.â€ Jasper looked down and traced a circle in the dirt with the toe of his boot.
â€œYes, you are. This ainâ€™t dry, but once it is, you can pack it and get on out. I reckon we canâ€™t afford to keep you if your idea of helping out is trading the family cow for a jar of whiskey.â€
â€œI reckon you might be right, Delia.â€
â€œIs that all you got to say?â€ Delia put her hand on her hip in that way she had when she was mad.
â€œWhat else can I say, Delia? Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, the gods themselves throw incense.â€
â€œHorseshit,â€ she replied.
â€œDelia, I understand how things are. Keep the shirt. Maybe you can get something for it. Itâ€™s in pretty good shape.â€
â€œJasper Medley, get the hell out and donâ€™t never come back.â€ Delia turned her back on her husband and hung a pair of her underdrawers on the line.
Jasper couldnâ€™t even muster up the sadness he knew he should feel. It had always only been a matter of time.
He walked back inside and scooped Imogen up, then sat down in the rocking chair heâ€™d built. For a moment he just rocked with her, watching the dust motes swirl in the patch of light that shone through the only window in the room, then he cleared his throat.
â€œI got to go, Im,â€ he said.
â€œWhen are you coming back, Daddy?â€
â€œOh,â€ he said, hesitating, â€œwho can say when things will happen? In the meantime, you got to mind your momma and listen to your grandpa. Youâ€™ll start to school soon, and you need to listen to your teacher, too.â€
â€œGo get my guitar, and Iâ€™ll play you a song before I go. Donâ€™t wake Junior.â€
Imogen scuttled off his lap and went into the other room, quickly returning with the guitar in her hand.
â€œI was so quiet, Daddy. I never made even a tiny noise.â€
â€œI know. I heard. Which one you want to hear?â€
â€œYou pick, Daddy.â€
He picked â€œWildwood Flower,â€ watching Imogen as she looked, rapt, up into his face. He wanted to remember her just like that, deep brown eyesâ€”his eyesâ€”looking so intently at him, he might have sworn they were the only two people in the world, at least for a moment.
â€œYou pick that as good as Maybelle Carter,â€ she said once heâ€™d finished.
â€œWell, not exactly, but I hope you remember it that way.â€
He picked her up and held her for a minute. Or maybe it was a lifetime. He couldnâ€™t tell which.
â€œI love you, baby girl,â€ he whispered, taking in the earthy child smell of her hair.
â€œI love you, too, Daddy.â€
Delia stepped into the room and crossed her arms. He let go and took Imogenâ€™s hand, slipping a nickel into her palm. He glanced over her shoulder at her mother glaring at him from the doorway, then looked back into Imogenâ€™s eyes and winked. He closed her fingers over the nickel and patted her hand. Standing up, he leaned down to kiss the top of her head, slung his guitar over his back, and walked out the front door.
Imogen had been the only good thing heâ€™d ever made. He half-hoped she would remember him, but it might be easier all the way around if she didnâ€™t, at least for her. He walked for a while, then took out the jar and took a gulp of the whiskey. He wiped his mouth with the back of his shaking hand and kept walking.