Final Thoughts ...
This collection of the first twenty-six Lexington Avenue Express short stories includes Butcher's best-selling Amazon titles Cold Feet, Fortress Falls, Gabriel's Gift, Nice Kitty, and The Sentinel's Wages.
Table of Contents
2) Mile-Marker 148
3) The Hibernaculum
6) Hard Close
7) Adoring Eyes
8) Cold Feet
9) The Snare
11) The Sentinel's Wages
12) Core Values
13) The Rialto
14) Mr. Pennebaker's Tractor
15) Gabriel's Gift
16) Closing Costs
17) Waiting Period
18) Nice Kitty
19) The Boston Whaler
20) The Process
22) An American Christmas
23) The TEXAS Clipper
24) The Protector
25) Limited Slip
26) Fortress Falls
Cold Feet (excerpt)
"Maxie, throw that african across my feet," she commanded as she repositioned her ample derriere, wiggling warm into the cushions of the musty sofa. "And hand me the TV remote when you get in here," she added, peering into the bag of chips resting open on her lap.
Duane's face transformed as he tilted his brow closer to the image reflected in the bathroom mirror, eyes darkening, liquid fabric flowing, seeking escape from the fragile mask securing his prim features. I'd like to kill the person that first referred to us as 'Minnie and Maxie,' he thought.
"We got any onion dip?" Minnie Castor screeched from the adjoining room, interrupting her son's writhing thoughts. "Onion dip would really hit the spot. These chips are s'posed to be sour cream and onion, but they ain't nearly oniony-enough for my taste," she said, smacking delicately, sampling her first chip of the day.
"No, Momma," the slight, middle-aged man muttered as he entered the room and tucked the worn afghan around Minnie's bloated feet, "we don't have any dip, there might be some sweet pickles in the fridge, but no dip."
"DAMNIT!" the old woman screeched. "Why the hell don't you never keep no food in this damn house? You tryin' to starve me boy?" she snarled, crunching a fistful of chips, crumbs falling generously on the front of the soiled nightgown she wore.
Forty-one years Duane Castor had spent in this house with his mother, just the two of them since his father left without a word in '79. Duane, Sr. had vanished on an ordinary Tuesday morning and his son grew ever more envious of his absent sire.
"Where you goin'?" Minnie snarled. Her eyes narrowed as Duane turned to leave.
"To my workshop, Momma; I have work to do. I need to put another coat of varnish on Mrs. Cole's antique bureau before I deliver it tomorrow and I finally received the parts I need to repair my band-saw. I have a full-day ahead of me."
"Humph," Minnie Castor snorted, "turn that heat up before you go, you tryin' to freeze me to death?" she asked in a tone of disgust before turning her attention to Judge Judy.
"It's supposed to warm up some today," Duane said dreamily, his gaze shifting to the window and the fresh, sparkling snow covering the front lawn. The glittering mantle brought him inexplicable joy, a fleeting happiness so tangible he stood motionless for a moment savoring the small comfort it afforded him.
"Don't plan on using the snow as an excuse for not drivin' me to the store," she said, her tone cold, unyielding. "We're damn near out of everything, I ain't got not cheezees, I ain't got no ice cream, I ain't got no--
"Yes, yes, we'll go this evening," he interrupted. "We'll go like always but right now I've got an antique shop to run and--"
"ANTIQUE SHOP!" she screeched. "More like a junk-repair shop if you wanna' know what I think. And don't you go cuttin' me off when I'm talkin', boy. Not as long as your livin' under my roof. No siree, you ain't got no right to cut me off when I'm talkin', you spineless, silly boy!