• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 06
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Mama Louisa wasn’t our real mama, we all just called her that. She used to be Sister Louisa, but when little Joseph came along she couldna be a Sister no more. No sir! But the name kinda stuck.

Joey, he was this little kid, all slumped in the shoulders and eyes too close together. Sure wasn’t no second coming of Jesus. A little scrap like that! Ugly too. Like nothing we’d seen before. And Mama Louisa – she never could convince us it was Immaculate Conception, not with that glint in her eye. The woman was mostly bosom anyway – and women built like her – all wide hips, breasts and arms like rising bread? They’re just about made for bearing children. Not miracles.

No one would tolerate her. A Sister turning out a child? Red Hollow was too small a town for your sins to go un-repented for. The wives and even the husbands, they used to ignore her in the street. Going against the Good Book, and that oath she swore? No one would trust a woman like that. Let alone respect her. She was asking for too much. Even the Pastor, Rev. Ouston used to cuss her and now, he was a man with a terrible temper. He took the Lord’s word as gospel alright. His sermons could turn the desert air to ice. I heard him say she made light of the good word by having the baby and staying around for us to watch it grown.

Oftentimes she took these long walks up past the edge of the town, taking a bus or hitch-hiking I suppose. “Just going to see my Aunt Delta,” she’d say and off she’d walk with a homemade pie in her bag and dust clouds chasing about her feet. I reckon she was just getting outta sight, so she didn’t have to feel ashamed no more. She was always ready to forgive. Always had a smile taped on. I admired her for that, after the way we all treated her.



Joey must have been about five when Mama Louisa walked off and never came back. A good three years before they found the body out in Carlum Sands, covered in blankets and buried four feet underground next to some old shooting post. When they unwrapped it, all that was left were robes and bones and a copy of the Old Testament with a bullet run through it. Turns out it was Rev. Ouston’s. The Bible, the bullet and the boy.