For a mere ten grand, Miss Lilly Newcastle brought Cousin Vallee back from the dead. At least that’s what everybody else in the family thought when he appeared at Papa B.’s funeral.
But Miss Lilly hired Cousin Vallee for a specific purpose. To take care of her biggest obstacle now that Papa B. is gone: Miss Lacey.
Cousin Vallee disappeared for six years after he took a manslaughter rap for Papa B. But when Papa B. died, he showed up at his funeral with a plan bought and paid for by Miss Lilly.
Together they played their family like emotional puppet-masters until the bait attracted their target: Miss Lacey.
Cousin Vallee played his part perfectly, even while getting too drunk to know what he was doing. When it was over, Vallee finally got a look at the casket where Papa B. lay, and Miss Lilly became the new head of the Newcastle family business: Miss Papa B.
Fiction>short stories; Fiction>Crime; Fiction>Family Life; Fiction>General; Fiction>Literary; Fiction>Thriller & Suspense>General
Organized crime; murder; prostitution; kidnapping; family money; drug addiction; heroin
“I thought Cousin Vallee was dead,” said Miss Lilly Newcastle over the din of the crowded house.
Does this sound like a Southern family to you? I never came out and said it, but that’s what I imagined. Antebellum leftovers. White trash with more money than sense.
Bitter? Me? Not in the least. I was raised white trash with more sense than money. But you knew these others existed. These too-rich, too-powerful, too-God-fearing families, all with questionable pasts and presents, white trash to their not-so-aristocratic roots.
As usual, this feeds into larger stories I’m always working on. In my current novel, slated for release before Christmas 2012, I have a major character named Reagan Newcastle. Yep. Vallee’s nephew.
That novel is tentatively titled Annie and the Second Anasazi. It’s set in 2054 A.D. and is about a migration of intellectuals into the deserts of New Mexico where people live like the ancient ones because of changing climate coupled with an intolerable mix of politics and religion that rises in the cities of the American South.. To find out when it’s available, sign up for the Hot Water Press email newsletter here.
Thanks for reading.
Papa B.: He dead. Longtime head of the family business, which is shady to say the least.
Miss Lilly Newcastle: In line to take over the family business, intent on removing her primary obstacle.
Miss Lacey: Also in line to take over the family business, hence Miss Lilly’s biggest obstacle.
Cousin Vallee: Took a fall for a manslaughter rap for Papa B., and hates the old man enough to come back and help Miss Lilly. For cash, of course.
Willem: Lackey for Miss Lilly and Miss Lacey.
Pauline Nalder: One of Papa B.’s many victims, who Cousin Vallee happened to love.
Ridiculously Simplified Synopsis
After the death of the family patriarch, the most ambitious family member hires a cousin to take care of her biggest obstacle.
“You’d think a man’s own relatives wouldn’t be so unforgiving about him rising from the dead and all,” said Cousin Vallee.
“We are not your audience. We’re more like your family jury,” said Miss Lilly.
“All right. I’ll tell you all. I take comfort knowing most of you will not like it, the ring of truth being somewhat unfamiliar to the Newcastle family ears,” said Cousin Vallee.
“Papa B. made his money the old-fashioned way — from the desire of men for the flesh of women. And from the desire of women to escape from the desires of men,” said Cousin Vallee.
“You think [Papa B.] would’ve died so fine and easy if I hadn’t held my tongue after he murdered that girl?” asked Vallee.
Miss Lacey took a deep breath and looked at Vallee, Willem still gripping his arm. “Let him go, Willem. Get him another whiskey. Light up another cigarette, Vallee. It’s time we bled it out all over this too-pretty family.”
Settings & Locations
Undetermined location in the Deep South.
Themes & Symbolism
Family dysfunction: The riches from crime can bend an extended family into the appearance (and belief) of respectability.
Murder for hire: Killing rivals is as old as proto-humans.
Photo of Southern Belle copyright Frank Kovalchek via Alaskan Dude on Flickr (see photo here). This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.