The King of Crows by Libba Bray

The King of Crows by Libba Bray

Author:Libba Bray
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: 2020-02-03T16:00:00+00:00

Everywhere they traveled, the ghosts followed. After the music and the dancing, when folks let down their guard, it was the ghosts they wanted to talk about. Sometimes, when they went out back to pee in a field behind the dance halls, lodges, and nightclubs, the spaces they’d had to carve out for themselves on the edges of white towns, they got a shiver up the neck and a need to race back toward the lights of those clubs, to the sweat of the dance, to the human press of communion. Sometimes they spoke of things glimpsed from a bus window late at night when most everyone else was sleeping and it felt as if the country’s loneliness had crawled out of its graves to stand along the split-rail fences and beside the red barns and Burma-Shave signs, on the high ridges of desert canyons and Civil War battlefields, out where the buffalo had once been plentiful. Ghosts? They saw these winking reminders and quickly told themselves they had not. They did not want to believe in ghosts.

“I’ve got a ghost story for you—it really happened to my sister,” Babe said as the Ford rolled into another night on its way to the next town. “My people are from South Carolina. That’s where my sister, Doreen, lives, and all my cousins, too. Doreen’s a nurse. She went to deliver a baby out near Pickens. A fine boy,” Babe said.

Alma wrinkled her nose. “Pickens! What kind of a name is that?”

“Shh, Alma, let her tell it,” Emmaline chided.

“It is a funny name,” Alma whispered to Ling, and held her fingers where no one could see, like a secret they shared.

“He took his sweet time coming, though. Doreen had to drive back home in the dark. She said her little headlamps were the only light, and she couldn’t see farther than the little bit of road in front of her. All of a sudden, those headlamps fell on a white lady waiting by the shoulder with her suitcase. She was dressed real nice, and Doreen stopped and asked her what she was doing out there in the dark—she was likely to get run over! Well, the lady said her name was Reecie Cowan and she was going to Spartanburg and would be much obliged for the ride. They rode together for a few miles. Doreen asked the lady all about herself. She said Reecie told her she was going to Spartanburg to meet her fiancé, who’d run off after getting her in the family way. His name was Milton Swinton, and after she’d threatened to report him for desertion, he told her to meet him at the Calvary Baptist Church outside town and they’d get married there. Doreen figured that was why she was dressed so nice. Sure enough, about a mile from town, they were coming up on Calvary. The lady started acting strange. ‘This is where it happened,’ she told Doreen. ‘Where what happened?’ Doreen said. ‘This is where Milton Swinton bashed my brains in,’ the lady told Doreen.


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