This Tender Land: A Novel by William Kent Krueger

This Tender Land: A Novel by William Kent Krueger

Author:William Kent Krueger
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction, Literary, Historical, General, Native American & Aboriginal, Fantasy
Publisher: Atria Books
Published: 2019-09-03T06:00:00+00:00


AT THE TENT, we were told that Sister Eve and Sid had gone to the police station to try to spring Dimitri, who, we learned, was wanted on suspicion of selling bootlegged liquor, which to Albert and me was really no crime at all. We found Whisker alone on the platform inside the big tent, his thin, fast fingers doing a little skip across the piano keyboard. When he played during a crusade service, his head was bare, but most other times, he wore a little black fedora at a jaunty tilt. As we mounted the platform, his dark blue lips curved in a warm smile.

“Hey, Buck. We were worried. You kinda disappeared.”

“Just had to get away and do some thinking, Whisker.”

His fingers stopped tickling the ivories and the skin around his eyes crinkled seriously as he studied me. “Whatever you were thinking, it looks like it didn’t sit with you all that well.”

“I’ve got a question to ask you, Whisker. I need the truth.”

He sat back on the piano bench, and his eyes went from me to Albert, to Mose, and finally to Emmy. It was hot in the tent, and a little sheen of sweat formed a glistening mustache above his upper lip. “Knowing the truth ain’t always what it’s cracked up to be, Odie.”

“Will you tell me the truth or not?”

“If I know it.”

“Sister Eve, does she really heal?”

“Now what kind of question is that?”

“Just answer it.”

“Odie, I seen more miracles inside this tent than I can recall.”

“Real miracles or fake? Fake like that boy with the bent-up spine and the woman with the twisted tongue.”

“Ahhh,” he said with a nod. “So, you think you know the truth about those folks, do you?”

“I saw Sid paying them off.”

“Them’s Sid’s people all right.”

“What about all the others?”

Whisker put his fingers on the keys again and softly began to play a tune, which I recognized from the radio: “Little White Lies.” He bent his head as he played, but after a few bars, peered up from under the brim of his fedora. “Sister Eve’s the one you need to be talking to.”

“She’s a liar.”

“She’s a lot of things, Odie,” he said, continuing to play. “A liar ain’t one of them.”

“She claimed to heal those people, Sid’s people, and that was a lie.”

“When you’re a kid, Odie, things seem cut-and-dried, but it ain’t that way. Talk to Sister Eve. I guarantee she won’t lie.”

“Whisker—” I tried again, but he cut me off.

“Like I told you, talk to Sister Eve.”

We went to her tent to wait for her return. I’d been inside many times when no one was around, but it was a first for the others. Their eyes went big when they saw the snakes in the terrariums on the low, narrow table, but I explained to them that only Lucifer was really dangerous, the others were fake. “More lies,” I said.

We didn’t have to wait long before I heard Sister Eve outside, talking to some of the women who cooked with Dimitri.


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