In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

LEAVING HOME / Martha McFerren 'Behind every nasty family is a nasty crime." - A Dallas cop 1 After pigs and hellfire I guess anything looks better, because some girls will do anything to get off the farm. Susan Roberts married Big Micajah Harpe who was as nasty as a skunk turd but less stationary. He and his brother Wiley hid out in the caves close to Knoxville. If you lived in their vicinity you bade your wife farewell when you went to fetch the cows. Susan's sister Betsey came gratis. The two women stayed in the cave dropping an occasional baby and sorting gold watches and boots. They asked no unreasonable questions. This sort of thing has been going on since skin disease. Local cops always have their stories of the girl in the motel room sitting beside an unwarranted corpse. The murder groupie: a faithful bitch who sees everything, says not a word till the screws are applied. But she did nothing, nothing at all. She sits staring at her rings, her thighs totally blank. But the Harpes worked the Natchez Trace before extradition and black vinyl, The Missouri Review · 85 when dull moss hung around like granny's shredded napkins in the hardwoods and the air would rot a pelt. Even the moon was a dirty girl caught in her sty with a Zodiac of pigs, wallowing. 2 Sally Rice's father the preacher married her properly to Little Harpe. She had a baby too. The caves were full of babies chomping on spare finger bones. One day Micajah's baby cried too much so he swung it like David's sling and bashed out its tiny brains. Later, he allowed he was extremely sorry. Everyone capable of the procedure was pregnant again. They tried hog farming awhile but they had been there before, and anyway customers found buttons in their sausages. The boys went back to robbery and the girls came to hold the horses, wary of any more bashing but not enough to go home, because this was the Devil's Backbone before we decided the frontier was somewhere beyond our personal trees. When every tavern had its skeleton lodged in the chimney, its saddlebag hidden under a loose board, its cook with a jaded expression. When Lorenzo Dow, the crazy revivalist, went riding back and forth converting rich men's wives and singing hymns that required no instruments at all. 86 · The Missouri Review Martha McFerren 3 Finally Micajah bashed a baby that was not his own. When the angry father, one Mr. Stegall, caught up with him he sliced a furrow around Micajah's neck and started unscrewing his head. "You are a god-damned rough butcher," said Big Harpe, a connoisseur, "but cut on and be damned." Little Harpe was strung up in Springfield. Someone knew him by his missing nipple, removed in a quarrel. The women were all too pregnant to hang. Besides, they'd done nothing, nothing at all. They got new husbands and retired to a cleaner farm. Betsey's daughter, Lovey, had trouble settling. One night Lovey bundled up her girlish dreams and ran off with a handful of men. That was when you could go Under-the-Hill after sundown to watch the eyeballs floating past or see the final ace laid down by a lady in shiny, criminal red. Not much happens now on the Trace except autumn tours for senior citizens and the flurry of an occasional preacher. But once a backpacker down from Idaho saw three women watching him near a tree, standing quiet as fungus. Martha McFerren The Missouri Review · 87 ...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 85-87
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.