Addled by JoeAnn Hart

By JoeAnn Hart

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Sample text

Curtis, of Curtis Mills, who in 1881 had acquired a taste for pastoral scenes on a tour of the English countryside. In what was then a rural area west of Boston, he had a manor house built of stucco and timber, with seven thatched cottages out back for staff, and a dozen imported Devonshire sheep to keep the lawns trim. Curtis died soon thereafter in a hunting accident, when his own gamekeeper, also imported, mistook him for a poacher. His wife sold the estate to the original Club corporation with the black bunting still on the door.

When he was a boy, he used to play over there, knocking acorns around with a stick—looking over the gate. How proud he was the first time his father brought him along for a game. He was no taller than a golf bag and yet he’d felt like one of the men, a hunter of balls, a conquering hero. But hunters and heroes did not, as a rule, wear bronzing gel, did they? When had vanity replaced his old self-assurance, his self-mastery—his self? Why was it that when his father turned silver at the temples he’d been called distinguished, but when his own chestnut hair lost its depth he was simply growing old?

How could a baby ever compare with that? She wanted to stay in her kitchen alone, in peace, and play with some oxheart tomatoes, perfecting her chutney. It was Utah who’d introduced her to oxhearts. He’d taught her so much. She remembered the first time they met, him kneeling on the floor of her kitchen, lifting two eggplants from the crate, one in each hand to show her the difference between the sexes. The heavier ones were female, full of seed. “Go ahead,” he’d said. ” She wiped a tear from her eye, then wheeled the tea cart over to Pedrosa so he could clear it and go home.

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