Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The Patchwork Man

Marilyn M. Fisher


Kaley Maddox was twenty-seven when she first met Lee Jordan. She was working at a gas station on an isolated stretch of US 29 between Lynchburg and Charlottesville. One sweltering summer night, she was perched on her high stool behind the counter waiting for her six-to-midnight shift to end. All at once, a truck screeched to a halt in the parking lot. A tall man strode through the door and hurried to the beer cooler. He threw some money on the counter, drumming his fingers until she gave him the change. Then he jumped into the idling truck and roared away. She had time to notice how handsome he was. His hair, cut short on the sides but hanging in a long curly mass on his neck, was really blond, not dyed the ugly yellow many of the local boys affected. He had a blonde mustache, wide-set blue eyes, and a hawkish nose that had probably been broken at least twice.

Yawning, she went back to the photographs of almost-nude movie stars flaunting their surgically-enhanced breasts in the tabloid she’d been reading.

The next time he came in, he lingered at the register.

“Hot tonight,” he muttered.

“Yes.” Crippled all her life by shyness, it was all Kaley could manage. He stared at her for
a moment. Her dark eyes looked anxiously back from a thin face framed by straight hair as black as one of those no-good crows he liked to shoot. Her brown skin, he noticed, had a copper tone. High cheekbones, too. Mixed blood in her family, he guessed. Didn’t bother him the way it did some people.

He kept talking. Something to do, a diversion to put off going back to his lonely house in the woods.

“Got any aspirin? Powerful headache tonight.”

“Over there by the door.”

He couldn’t find it. “Could you show me?”

She came out from behind the counter. Now he could see all of her. She had a body like a boy’s. Under the snowy white tee shirt and clean, pressed jeans, there was just the hint of breasts.

Lee was intrigued. Usually, he was attracted by blowsy, bottle-blond bimbos who could be depended on to give him what he wanted without too much effort on his part.

Without a word, she went back to her seat.

“Are you from around here?” he said, lounging at her counter.

“Born in Nelson County.”

“How come I didn’t see you before?”

“I’ve only been working here a couple of months.”

“What’d you do before that?”

“Worked at a nursing home. Still do, during the day.”

Amused, he asked, “How come you work so hard, girl?”

“Only way to get ahead.”

When he didn’t leave, she asked in a wary voice, “What do you do?”

“Buy, train, sell horses.”

Her face lighted up.

“That’s one reason I work so hard,” she said. “I want to buy myself a horse, a good one.”

“Yeah? What kind?”

“I don’t know yet. When I get enough money, I’ll start looking around.”

“Do you know how to ride?”

“Learned on my father’s farm.”

Just then several trucks pulled in. She stood to attention as the drivers came in to pay for their gas and browse for potato chips or beer nuts to go with their brew of choice.
Lee slipped out.

 

He was back several nights later. This time he learned she lived alone, her parents long since dead. She was guarded about them. He thought he’d better not inquire how her mother and father died. Instead, he asked if she would like to see his horses on Saturday. He’d meet her in the parking lot and guide her back into the woods to his place.

Kaley took a minute to answer. She knew Lee probably thought she was easy. He’d try to get her into bed. That was what these guys did. She knew how to deal with that. But she was curious about the horses.

“Sure,” she said.

 

On Saturday, she put on her new jeans and a pretty blue top she’d bought at a consignment store in Lynchburg. True to his word, Lee was waiting for her at the gas station. She followed his old dusty truck down an obscure country road to the ramshackle farmhouse he rented. In the pasture were half a dozen horses. From the look of their glossy coats, Lee was feeding them well. But Kaley’s sharp eyes picked out several with healed-over wounds. When she asked about it, he said, “Barbwire. Horses always walkin’ into it.”

She thought no more about it, then, because two horses approached her with bobbing heads. She put her hand up for them to smell. Soon she was rubbing their long necks, and then one horse quietly put his head on her chest and stayed that way for several minutes. The other rubbed his head on her arm like a cat. Lee took this all in, not liking it.

He moved suddenly, causing the animals to bolt.

“Want to have some coffee in the house?” he asked.

Here it comes, Kaley thought, and followed him through the door with its bulging rusty screen.

Inside the house, Lee showed her around. With no surprise, she took note of the dirt and the stains, and smelled the mingled odors of beer and stale food and unwashed sheets and dirty dishes and plumbing somewhere that had gone wrong. But she liked the parlor’s gorgeous stone fireplace and the big, wide window behind the kitchen sink that looked out to the barn and the surrounding woods. The floors were in bad shape but they were hardwood. They could easily be sanded and refinished. She’d done that at her house, when her father died and she was at last able to fix up the place to her liking.

As she was looking out the second bedroom window, she felt his arm slip around her. He put his face against hers for a minute and then turned her around. She pushed him away—hard.
He was surprised how strong she was.

“No. I don’t know you. Now, where’s that coffee?”

It was instant. At least it was hot.

“Guess I’ve got to go now,” she said about twenty minutes later. “Got a lot of errands to do, being Saturday. Only day I don’t work.”

On the porch, she told him politely, “Thanks for showing me the place, Lee,” then got into her truck and drove out of the clearing. He stood there, staring after her, and then shrugged.

 

Bill Terrell patrolled 29 at night. He’d formed the habit of stopping in to see Kaley when the evening hours were long and boring. Tonight he headed his cruiser toward the gas station, nervous about what he had planned. He was going to ask Kaley to see a movie at River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg. She was so shy he knew instinctively from the first he should take it easy, win her confidence before asking for a date.

When he pulled into the lot, the lighted window where Kaley sat at her register revealed Lee Jordan draped over the counter. That no-good, he thought. Oh, God, why is HE interested in Kaley? She’s not his type.

Bill respected Kaley. He knew a lot more about her than Lee did. It was common knowledge at the state police barracks that she took care of her shiftless, alcoholic father after her mother walked out one day and was never heard from again. Old Man Maddox was always being pulled over on DWI violations. Kaley would come to the jail in the morning, pay his fine, and thank the troopers for taking care of her father. She worked hard at the old folk’s home in Lovingston to support them both until Maddox finally died of a ruined liver.

And Bill knew something else. Ten years older than Kaley, he’d had a lot more experience of life than she. He’d seen other Kaleys. So deprived of affection from their parents that they were vulnerable to every no-good who came along. Staring at Lee, he thought, He’s going to take her down.

Bill liked it that Kaley was kind to all things lost and forlorn, animals and people both. He remembered the cat that had taken to hanging around the gas station. Some sadistic kid had poured battery acid on her side. She healed but had hideous scars. It took Kaley a long time to get close to the cat but she was finally able to stroke her. One night she reported to Bill with a rare smile that she had talked a soft-hearted customer into adopting the little animal. Another trooper had told Bill about Kaley’s patient and kind care of his grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer’s. “She’s like that with everybody there, Bill,” he’d said.

She was a good person. And he wanted to know her better.

He knew she trusted him, because she had confided some things about her upbringing that made him sad for her. One night she told him in a quiet voice, “I’m, well, I guess I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. Look what I’ve got. I can support myself, I’ve fixed up the old house so it’s pretty nice, and I’ve got ... dreams of more.”

Now Bill walked in and received her welcoming smile. Lee noticed it.

So that fat trooper and Kaley are friends, maybe even more, he thought, with a sharp pang of jealousy.

Bill bought his usual soda and soon said goodbye, packing his big body into the cruiser. Pulling out of the lot, he stopped for a minute to look back at Kaley and Lee in the lighted window. Their heads were close. I don’t stand a chance with her, he thought, what with the way I look and all. The burly trooper was self-conscious about his appearance. His hairline had receded far back from his freckled face, and he was going to fat, even though he worked out on a regular basis and tried to watch his diet.

He worried for Kaley. Like everyone at headquarters, he knew all about Lee Jordan.

 

Several weeks after Kaley visited his house, she agreed to go with Lee to a horse auction in Campbell County. They’d stopped to browse in a country store on the way home and she’d bought a little sack of horehound candy for them to share. It had been fun. Now he wanted to take her to his favorite roadhouse.

“There’s dancin’ there, too,” he said.

“I don’t like places like that. Got better things to do. And besides, I can’t dance.”

“Well then, will you show me your place?”

“Not yet.”

He wondered what she meant by that. Then a trucker came in for cigarettes, so Lee thumbed through a girlie magazine until the woman left.

He was surprised when Kaley said, “The Baptist church down the road from my house is
having a barbecue chicken dinner Saturday night to raise money to add a room. Want to go?”

“You bet,” he said. Church food was usually good. And maybe he could get her to leave early and go to her house, where he’d try again to get her to warm up to him.

Lee was developing an idea in his mind. Be nice to have someone keep a clean house, he thought to himself, cook some tasty food, be in bed when I need her. He’d become more and more impatient with the dirty house and the endless meals of bacon sandwiches, fried steaks, and frozen French fries he had to cook himself. It didn’t hurt matters that Lee was also attracted to Kaley’s hard, lean body. He couldn’t figure out why. But he was.

 

The night of the church supper was clammy, the humidity oppressive. Through a gap in her parlor curtains, Kaley watched Lee arrive and get out of his truck.

He looks good tonight. She liked his cutoffs and the tight red tee that showed off his muscles. She knew he would try again to get her to go to bed with him. Probably tonight. And she had to admit to herself that she was tempted.

She took him on a quick tour of the achingly-clean, modest little house and then said, “We have to go now.” She had closed both bedroom doors. He didn’t ask to see those rooms, but only nodded. He could afford to wait until she was ready.

In the church parking lot where everyone was eating supper, Lee gallantly paid for them both. He went out of his way to be pleasant, sociable, and charming. Kaley didn’t fail to notice, though, that a lot of people spoke to her nicely but shunned him. Others greeted them both politely but didn’t stay around to talk. She closed her mind to what this might mean. She wanted to have fun.

Accepting plates of steaming, smoked chicken from the men with red faces and streaming eyes standing behind the cooker, Kaley and Lee went to a long table where they added beans cooked in molasses, coleslaw dripping in mayonnaise, potato chips, and outsized chocolate chip cookies, and plucked sodas from the giant washtub full of ice.

They busied themselves for a while eating, then Lee asked, “Ever been married, Kaley?”

She shook her head.

“Do ya want to? Have kids?”

She took her time in answering, deciding how much to tell him. Finally she said, “Marriage might be OK, I guess. But I can’t have any kids.”

Better and better, thought Lee.

He changed the subject then, didn’t want to spook her. Played his prize card.

“I heard of a horse for sale at a farm in Franklin County,” he said. “He’s a gelding,
Palomino, five years old. They’re asking only $1500 for him. Old couple bred him but one of them is sick or something, and they’re selling out.”

He could see she wanted to go.

“How about Saturday? Long drive but we could make a day of it.”

“I’d have to see whether I could afford it,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to disappoint the old couple by just looking but not being able to buy. That’d be mean.”

Lee smiled inside, but said earnestly, “OK, I’ll be into the gas station this week and you can tell me then.” He felt sure of her. She would go.

Their attention turned to eight cloggers, who were stepping up on a crude but strong wooden platform that would withstand the force of their rhythmic dancing. Kaley smiled to watch the high-stepping ladies with their swirling skirts and petticoats and their agile partners.

After the performance, they drove back to Kaley’s house. At the door, she hesitated. The good food and dancing had only served to make her more powerfully drawn to Lee than before, but she still distrusted her feelings.

She smiled. “Bye.”

He didn’t act disappointed but with a grin that dazzled her, said, “See you later this week.”

In the truck going home, he thought that now he wanted her worse than ever, but told himself to wait. He’d stop by Carlene’s trailer on the way home. She’d do anything he’d say.

 

The horse turned out to be a poor buy. Both Kaley and Lee could see it wasn’t right in the hocks. But the long trip in the truck brought them closer. Kaley opened up a little, telling him incidents about the old people she cared for, patrons of the gas station and their quirks. She talked of having a horse farm, breeding and selling. In return, he told her about his miserable home life with the fawning mother and unfaithful father. She was sympathetic and almost told him about her parents, but said to herself, No, I don’t trust him enough yet. I won’t tell him. When he dropped her at her house, she said goodbye at the door again, liking him even more than last time.

 

Several months passed. Bill Terrell soon saw the lay of the land. He’d tried several times to catch Kaley alone so he could ask her out, but Jordan was always there. He noticed Kaley’s face change when she talked to Lee. It was plain to see she’d been taken in by that no-good.

Finally he decided to tell Kaley what he knew.

One night, he found her alone at the station. It was close to her quitting time.

“Hey, Kaley,” he said. “Can I talk to you a minute?”

“Of course.” Her smile is so sweet, he thought. How can I tell her?

He paused, sweating in the humid, fetid air of the store. The smell of the overflowing garbage in the dumpster wafted in from the parking lot.

“It’s about Lee Jordan,” he blurted.

Her face closed. “What about him?”

“He’s no good,” he burst out, and immediately cursed himself for being so abrupt. But he rushed on, determined to get it all out.

“He’s been convicted of two DWI violations, he got a girl pregnant last year and then beat her up when she told him about the baby, and he cheats people when he sells them horses. And some say he mistreats his animals.”

Kaley looked at him silently, her face unmoving.

“Everybody makes mistakes, right, Bill? My dad made mistakes too, he ...”

“Kaley, you’re not thinking of living with him or marrying him, are you? I can’t stand to think of you with him.”

“Yes, I am,” she confessed.

Bill’s chest started to ache.

“He’s been good to me,” she went on. “We’re planning our future. I’ve always wanted a breeding farm, you know that. Him and me are going in together. I’ve got a little money saved up, and with the sale of my house, I’ll be able to invest in our business.”

“Oh, Kaley, no.”

Her face softened. “Besides, he needs my help. His place is filthy, he never eats right. And I think I can help him so...he doesn’t make any more mistakes.”

“Please, Kaley, don’t take this chance.”

“Lee cares about me, and I love him,” she said, looking away from Bill’s anguished face. “I’m going to move to his house soon.”

There was a silence. Then Bill finally said, “All I’ll say more is you can count on me. If anything happens you can’t handle, call me.”

“I will, Bill. A long time ago, you gave me your numbers. See? I’ve got them right handy.” She showed him the piece of paper she’d taped to the register.

She hurried to put Bill’s fears at rest. “I’m not going to marry him, not just yet. I remember what it was like with Mama and Daddy, and I don’t know if I ever want to marry anyone.”

“Perhaps that’s best,” Bill replied.

He prepared to go, buying his usual super-large diet cola to last him the rest of his shift.

He tried hard to bring up a smile as he paid her. “You know I wish you nothing but good luck with Lee, Kaley. Keep my numbers safe. I’ll be there in a shot if you need me.” He knew there was nothing else he could do—until something happened to her.

She waved as he pulled out of the lot and then went back to her list of what she had to do to wrap up her old life and start a new one with Lee.

 

In her mind, she had come to terms with her decision. She knew Bill was right, that she was taking an awful chance. But she thought she could make the whole thing work.

She’d been to Lee’s place many times since the church supper, planning with him how they could fix up the place and advance their breeding business. He’d been open about almost everything, even when she told him she heard he’d impregnated a girl. He admitted to it, but protested so strongly that the girl was a whore who had led him on that Kaley relented. She wanted so much to believe him. But when she said he had a reputation for hurting his horses, he scoffed.

“Not true,” he said. “Don’t want to hear that again.”

“Could I watch you train them some time? I’ve never seen you do it,” she said, running a tender finger over the little mustache. He usually liked that, but today he brushed her hand aside.

“No, I do that alone. Too dangerous for you to be around.”

Then he got up from the couch where they were talking, and dropped his clothes on the floor.

“Come on, baby, let’s go to bed.”

Although she had given in to his desires many times now, she never got over the thrill of his lovemaking. So she willingly slipped out of her clothes, and when he said thickly, “Hell, Kaley, I can’t wait no longer,” she let him lower her to the parlor floor. She was awfully glad she’d scrubbed it last weekend.

 

Kaley’s new life was a full one. She kept her old habit of working days at the nursing home and nights at the gas station, so she didn’t get to be with Lee much. He stayed at the farmhouse working with the horses. One day, she asked Mrs. Harris at the nursing home if she could have a week off. She’d never asked before. But she wanted to work on the bathroom. “Sure, Kaley. We can manage.”

On the first morning she was home, she was washing dishes contentedly at the kitchen sink after breakfast, gazing through the window at the barn and the woods beyond. Lee had gone out to tend the horses.

Then an ear-splitting sound shattered the quiet scene. She froze and listened. Then it came again. It was a horse in terrible pain.

She ran out and down the path to the barn, pushed back the heavy old doors. The screaming was coming from the new horse’s stall.

She dashed down the uneven, packed-dirt floor of the center aisle, forgetting Lee’s warning never to come in the barn when he was working with his horses. The stall door stood open. Kaley watched with horror as Lee whipped the horse. Blood was streaming from the wounds on the horse’s back. Lee’s face was scarcely human. He looks like a devil, she thought.

Then he saw her. Furiously, he came out, locked the stall, hung the whip on a peg. Took her arm roughly, hurting her, and hustled her back up the aisle and outside.

“I thought I told you never to come in when I’m disciplining my horses,” he snarled. “You don’t have no business in there. You get in the house where you belong.”

She faced him down. “You shouldn’t be hurting that horse. You can train him a different way.”

“I can do anything I want. They’re my horses.”

“They’re mine, too, remember? I gave you all my savings.”

“Well,” he backed down a little, “yes. But the training is up to me. They have to be disciplined. And I’m the only one who can do it.”

After hearing the cries of the horses all that week, she knew now that “discipline” was Lee’s word for the torture he inflicted on each hapless animal he bought.

She managed to get him to talk about it a little, but he wouldn’t admit he was doing anything wrong. Every time the screams of the horses rent the air, something twisted inside her. At first, he tried to placate her.

“We’ll build a trail in the woods. You can be in charge of trail-riding.”

But she wouldn’t be comforted. She couldn’t forget the blood.

He saw the horror in her eyes when she wouldn’t let him touch her that first night. The next day she scrubbed the second bedroom fiercely and set up her bed in there. She locked the door against him every night. Knowing what those hands did to the horses, she couldn’t stand his touch. He grew so frustrated he started slapping her for nothing—when dinner was five minutes late, when he found dust somewhere.

Their life together grew worse and worse. Kaley knew now that Bill had been right about Lee mistreating his horses. And he didn’t do it only to train them. He liked it. When he came out of the barn each time, he was always smirking with satisfaction.

From the beginning, Lee had seen Kaley’s extraordinary rapport with horses. He hated her for it—horses shied away from him, even before he beat them—but he decided he could use the instinctive bond between Kaley and the animals. When Lee finished his “discipline,” he would summon her to the barn to treat the wounds he’d inflicted.

She would try to help Lee’s victims as best she could. “Quiet, dear one,” she whispered, as she rubbed salve into the gashes marring their satin skin. The mysterious animals that most people were unable to fathom would stand quietly under her touch.

After Lee sold the healed horses to people who didn’t care that they were scarred, he would buy more.

The terrible cycle would begin anew.

 

Kaley grew more and more distracted. The day she made the connection between Lee and her mother’s “comforts,” Lee had been particularly brutal to the horses and her. When the idea first took root in her mind, Kaley wondered if she were going crazy. But she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Mrs. Maddox made quilts, she called them “comforts,” to provide extra warmth on cold nights when thin, store-bought blankets were not enough. But the quilting also provided a little relief from her stormy life. Little Kaley watched as her mother laboriously pieced together scraps of jarring colors, the brighter the better, into a pattern, and tied the knots to keep the top, the batting, and the bottom layers together. Kaley’s mother always started with the best intentions, using designs she’d seen in quilts at county fairs. For a while, she’d sew the patches carefully into wedding rings or log cabins, but invariably would lose her patience, usually after she’d been drinking heavily, and abandon the pattern. Now she wanted to finish the job quickly and hurried to finish tying the knots, skipping some in the process. The comforts never did lay flat on the beds.

The child was bothered by the flawed patchwork. Caught between parents who too often quarreled boozily and then progressed to hitting one another, she desired order in as much of her life as possible. After her mother walked out, the eleven-year-old girl hid the quilts in the attic so she could hand them over if her father asked for them. When her father died, she threw them away. She never forgot the sight of the gaudy quilts in the dented, rusty garbage can.

Lee was like her mother’s aborted quilts. There was flashy color, his handsomeness and the charm with which he had entrapped her. But Lee had been cobbled together into only the semblance of a man. At some point in his development, the “pattern” of humanity had been aborted. The best things about human beings—loving, caring, knowing right and wrong—were missing in Lee.

He was a flawed, bright-colored thing of cruelty and selfishness, who had brought the chaos of Kaley’s childhood back into her life.

A patchwork man.

 

She tried to come up with a plan to save herself and the wretched animals but there seemed to be nothing she could do. She was too proud or ashamed to call Bill, or confide in Mrs. Harris at the nursing home. How could she admit she’d made such a mistake in surrendering her money and her life to Lee? Both of her friends saw Kaley grow thin to the point of emaciation. Both noticed a nervous tic in her mouth. But when they tried to question her, she only changed the subject. Bill was desperate now to help, but all she said was, “Please leave me alone.”

The big trooper wondered how long he could hold out before he drove to that house in the woods and beat Lee so bad he wouldn’t ever get over it. But Kaley had decided of her own free will to live with Lee. Bill had to force himself to think like a lawman. There was nothing the law could do until Kaley asked for help.

Kaley became passive and found it easier to obey Lee rather than fight with him. She lost the ability to think clearly. When she tried, her thoughts went around and around in circles. She only knew one thing. She’d given him everything, and there was no way to leave. And Lee knew it.

 

Washing the dishes one night after dinner, she let her hands rest in the soapy water for a little while as her mind ranged confusedly over the days and days of the horses’ and her torture.

Then she heard the familiar sound from the barn. He was beating a horse once again.

She brushed the hair out of her eyes with a wet hand, and tried to concentrate on the dishes and block out the noise from the barn.

The shrill sounds of the screaming stallion and steady stream of obscenities Lee shouted as he plied the whip came clearly through the kitchen window. The haggard young woman strained to blank out the part of her mind that was screaming along with the horse. Her head throbbed with the effort. But the horse shrieked again, stopping her thoughts. For a moment, she was dizzy and then nauseous. Images of blood, glossy skin rent and torn, and more blood filled her mind.

Unable to think any more, she went through the back door of the farmhouse and down the path to the stone barn. Its wooden doors, dark with age and rotten in spots, stood open. The doors were locked at night by raising the iron bar on the left door and swinging it across and down into its bed on the right. Lee had given Kaley the chore of locking up every night. At first, she couldn’t lift the bar, much to Lee’s displeasure. Eventually she learned to manipulate the cumbersome lock. The stalls locked the same way but with a light wooden bar.

As he usually did when he worked in the barn, Lee had left all doors unbarred so he could make a fast escape if necessary.

Kaley walked quickly down the center aisle. Yes, there he was, in the last stall with Critical Mass. Lee had been so proud when he bought the stallion, saying with satisfaction, “I’ll soon show him who’s the boss. You know,” he’d said, as he always did, “They all need discipline.”

She had taken the trouble to get acquainted with the stallion and sensed he would only take so much and then strike back. She had tried to tell Lee but he just laughed with contempt. “You don’t know nuthin.”

She paused outside the old-fashioned, high wooden stall door. It was slightly open. It flashed through her mind again, as it always did when she was in the barn, how terrible the stalls were. Small, dark, close, and mean, they had no windows or openings in the doors. The horses were prisoners. Like her.

Lee couldn’t see Kaley. The pain in her head surged as the sounds of the horse’s agony and Lee’s bellowed profanities merged in her mind. Then she quickly pushed the door shut, and slid the bar down into its rest.

Lee was always warning her to leave the door open when he was “disciplining,” always leave the door…

Then she turned, dreamlike, and stumbled down the bumpy aisle out of the barn, mechanically swinging the iron bar into its bed as Lee ordered her to every night, so that Lee’s horses wouldn’t be stolen. As she made her way back to the house, she heard Critical Mass scream again, but this time, it was a shrill sound of triumph, followed by Lee’s howls and squeals as the sharp hooves ripped at his body.

Back at the sink, she worked frantically to finish washing the dishes. If one part of her mind thought that Lee was now being “disciplined,” the other part of her mind urged her to hurry with the washing so when Lee came in for his nightly beers, he wouldn’t hurt her for not having finished her chores.

She was so busy that she didn’t hear Bill Terrell’s cruiser roar up the driveway.

***

MARILYN M. FISHER grew up in Buffalo, New York, and moved south when an adult. She spent eleven years in Lynchburg, Virginia, and now lives in Franklin, Tennessee.

As an English major for years (PhD, MA, MS), she’s been writing all her life. Her published work has always been prose--essays in literary criticism and articles for newsletters and newspapers--but lately, she’s been writing fiction. On March 1, her first novel, a mystery entitled The Case of the Three Dead Horses, was released by American Book Publishing. It’s set in Central Virginia, as is “The Patchwork Man.”

The novel starts with the central character, Connie Holt, examining the body of a valuable stallion. She suspects murder. Trouble is, the equine insurance investigator can find no evidence. Then two more horses die, and now, she must unmask the killer.


© Marilyn M. Fisher

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012