When not bowed to pray, the Kester women spent Harlan’s funeral
chattering, whispering. Well. Half those women had their first babies six
months after marriage; not that Evaline could judge there. Joanne still
didn’t know, and Evaline intended to keep it that way. Harlan had been
willing to claim the baby, Kestract had already offered Evaline a job,
and Evaline’s daddy had suffered a stroke the summer before. Marrying
Harlan and moving back home had made the most sense at the time.
Evaline had never even bothered to tell Joanne’s real daddy that she was
pregnant. Let what’s dead lie, she always said, and she meant it both figuratively and literally.
The phrase crossed her mind again during Harlan’s service, as the
preacher recounted the resurrection of Christ. Out across City Park, a
truck from the rig roared, rumbling its way onto the highway. Evaline
squirmed in her seat as everyone watched to see if she would blush, display some semblance of shame over the sellout. Wouldn’t they like the
truth, Evaline thought, clasping and unclasping her hands. None of the
people in the pews had even spoken to her since the city council declared
forced pooling in effect and the first big trucks puttered down the crumbling country roads into the town, throwing chunks of asphalt with
their double-stacked wheels. At least Kestract had paid for the roads to
be repaved, which was more than the city council had bothered to accomplish in the past ten years.
As children, Evaline and the women now fussing about the lack of
a casket and the rig crews filling the diners and the shade of Evaline’s
black hat had all sat together in the Presbyterian church, passing notes
back and forth about which altar boy had the handsomest face. The answer had always been Harlan.
The Presbyterian church was shuttered when Evaline’s kids were in
middle school, as all of Kester migrated here, to the new brick Baptist
church that Evaline thought looked more like a barn than a sanctuary.
There hadn’t been enough Jesus in Presbyterianism to fill these women,
her old friends. There wasn’t enough of their husbands to fill them, either, Evaline figured, as she eyed both Constance and Ida McCleves
down the aisle. Ida had run through three husbands, the new ones in
bed before the old ones were out the door. Evaline knew. She’d been to
two bridal showers and every baby shower before Ida stopped calling.
It wasn’t Evaline’s fault that Ida’s third husband died in that explosion.
Someone hadn’t tapped a well right and then lit a cigarette beside it. Ida