Excerpt of Take Me Home by Brian Leung
(Page 4 of 8)
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"Addie," he said, hugging her tighter than ever before. He
smelled like sweet oats, she thought as he stepped back and looked
her up and down, nodding in approval.
"Guess I've grown a bit," she said, uncomfortable with his silent
"Bet you noticed a few changes in me too." He took off his
hat as if to give her a clearer picture of him. He'd obviously wet
and parted his long hair, which was sun-bleached at the ends
and dark on the crown where light rarely hit. His skin was dark
too, which made his green eyes, twins to her own, shine solid
as wet stones.
"You remind me of Pa," which was true, but as she said it she
knew it wasn't what he'd want to hear.
"That ain't exactly a compliment," he said. "Unless maybe
you're comparing his face to my..." He fell shy at the word he
intended, and instead patted his rear.
Addie laughed and the pair hugged again; this time it wasn't
the firmness of the embrace Addie noticed, or the length,
which was considerable, but the sincerity of it. She'd never felt
anything near it, not from her mother, and certainly not from
her father. In fact, she couldn't think of a time in her entire
life when anyone other than her brother had held her in their
arms this way. If they had, it was when she was too young to
"Where's your bag?" Tommy asked.
Addie cleared her eyes with her sleeve. "A sack is all I got." She
held it up, and it sagged beneath her grip like a long-dead fish.
"Was you robbed?"
"I was not. And remember that you left home with nothing
but a jar of whisky." Her brother smiled at the memory. The ease
between them was like old times, and Addie felt her suspicion of
the place begin to melt. Then she offered a quiet start at the sight
of a man not far behind her brother. It was a coolie, she figured,
John Chinaman, just as the woman on the train described. He was
small, with narrow eyes that gleamed black, and he had a braid
that hung from the back of his head nearly to the ground. Maybe
it wasn't exactly a tail, like the woman on the train said, but it
Tommy turned to see what had startled Addie. "Oh," he said.
"That's right." He stepped closer to her. "Don't have no dealings
with them if you can help it. They'll shake on a bargain with one
hand and pick your pocket with the other. One talks to you, just
walk away, and don't be like old Lot's wife."
She told her brother about what the woman on the train said,
and he didn't dispute any of it except the last part. "Don't make no
mistake, Addie. They're men all right, which makes it all the worse
because they live like animals and they'll do any job for half of
what a self-respecting white man will do. And I tell you something
else. There's something brewing around here. I can feel it, and I
sure wouldn't want to be ol' John Chinaman about now."
"You talking about a fight between the whites and Chinamen?"
"Not talking about anything really. Just got a feeling if things
don't change, there's going to be bullets flying."
As Tommy led her away, Addie looked back one last time.
Really, the man didn't look so dangerous, she thought. But then he
turned as his eyes met hers, and again a start went through her. It
wasn't that his gaze was hard or penetrating, but that it was persistent
and indifferent. Though Addie knew she was still moving in
the direction of her brother, she couldn't actually feel her steps -
Lot's wife on casters.
The walk to where they were staying wasn't long. Tommy explained
that it was too late to ride out to his homestead, which
was a half day's travel, but that he'd secured a roof over their heads
for the night, a bite to eat, and some drinkable water. She took in as
much of Rock Springs en route as she could, which wasn't hard to
do. Though there were a number of buildings constructed at least
partially of stone, Rock Springs seemed a town made mainly of dirt
and scrap lumber as far as she could tell, the former seeming the
greater of the two materials in some buildings. Then there was the
structure that looked like a ship-size long-legged insect dragging
itself out of the hillside - the coal mine, she guessed. She'd thought
that Orgull was slapdash, but by comparison, her hometown measured
up pretty well. Even at this time of day an unspecific but persistent
rattle from the mine works jabbed itself in all directions, but
none of that noise came from the sound of people
talking to each
other. This wasn't a ghost town. There were inhabitants, nearly
all grown men, each going about their private business. Not one
acknowledged Tommy and Addie as they passed, though a few did
at least take notice.
Excerpted from Take Me Home
by Doris Haddock. Copyright © 2010 by Doris Haddock.
Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.