Thursday, December 6, 2012
A Good Kind of Knowing
A Good Kind of Knowing by Kathy Lynn Harris
Good Kind of Knowing is a novel about the power of music and friendship, the relationship two-steps that go on in old Texas dancehalls, and the secret to finding just a little bit of common ground in a world full of distrust.
Sera Taylor's store is the one place in Lakeville, Texas, where individuals from all walks of life share a universal love for music and a respect for the gypsy-like woman behind the antique glass counter. Readers get a taste of the unorthodox connection between Sera and Mack, a young local cowboy and musician, and Sera’s previously untested devotion to her husband Bill. They learn of her relationship with Ruby D., the vibrant but misguided mother of five; with Louie, the shy high school band director; with Beverly, the religious, upper-class socialite; with Antonio, a local bar owner striving to make a life for himself; with Tommy Lee, a rich and directionless gigolo; and with Wes, the only out-of-the closet gay man for miles. As Sera battles a serious illness, the characters must overcome long-held stereotypes to save Sera’s store, and in the end, large parts of themselves.
To set up this scene: The main character, Sera, who is 43, has basically trespassed onto Mack’s land late one night, to go skinny-dipping, trying to take her mind off some very real problems she’s dealing with. Mack is in his 20s, a cowboy-musician, and they have a special relationship that’s about to get a whole lot more complicated. Enjoy!
Mack was too wired to sleep. Sometimes, when he came in from a show, he could fall right into bed without a hitch, exhausted from performing. But tonight, the adrenaline from the Friday night audience and the band’s last set was still pumping through his system. Pacing on the back porch, Mack wondered if he was keeping his brother awake inside. At the very least, he knew he was annoying Tick, his black Lab, who kept eyeing him and his constant movement from his lounging place next to the rocking chair. The dog had let out a couple of deep sighs already. So much for man’s best friend.
“Want to go for a walk, boy?”
Tick rolled over on his side and whined.
“I’ll take that as a no.”
Mack walked down toward the pasture, swatting away mosquitoes. The knee-high brush scraped against his jeans and a tall cactus thorn tore at his shirtsleeve as he made his way through a part of the pasture that hadn’t been driven through in a while.
Mack regretted not bringing his guitar with him. He had that unsettled feeling he always got when a song was forming in his mind, making its way toward his hands and his voice.
The air felt sticky around him until a slight breeze blew across the flattened field, coming from somewhere beyond the hill. Tiny beads of sweat had made his hair damp where it touched his neck, and the breeze cooled it slightly.
Mack could hear the familiar sound of some of his herd, having come from a drink in the south tank, he figured. As he moved closer to the tank from the north, he heard a splash or two and wondered why the catfish were moving near the surface. In the summer they didn’t venture much from their holes in the cool muddy bottom of the pond, even at night. Or maybe a calf had stayed for a longer drink and midnight bath.
The closer he got to the water, though, the more curious he became. Then, above soft, intermittent splashes, he heard a familiar voice humming low and throaty.
At first, he thought it was his mind playing tricks. Maybe he was so tired he was sleepwalking.
As he made his way through the brush with the silence of a lifelong wildlife admirer, her voice grew louder and he could just make out her shape through a surreal curtain of mesquite beans and cedar branches. He sat down on the sandy incline and tried to clear his head. But when he opened his eyes, she was still there.
Mack was near enough now to see her clearly through the brush, her arms catching the light of the clear sky as each hand moved in sequence with the other.
He wanted to call out, let her know he was there. He knew that was the honorable thing to do. And yet, it was honor, too, that made him sit in silence, afraid of making another move or sound that might disturb the serenity he felt was all around her.
Her movements were smooth and flowing, and Mack felt hypnotized by their cadence. He knew he should feel guilty, should probably leave right now, but somehow it was as if she was inviting him to be there. And she seemed so far away in her thoughts, Mack felt like he was keeping guard, watching over her while she abandoned reality for a while.
He knew, on some level, he was rationalizing. But as he was about to stand to leave, Sera stopped humming and looked toward his spot in the brush. Mack caught his breath. He didn’t think she could see him. The brush line was too thick.
He saw a smile spread across her face. Then she made her way to the edge of the water. Mack told himself to look away as she abandoned the cloak of the water, but he couldn’t. He watched her stand at the water’s edge, her toes grabbing the muddy mush from the bottom and letting it drip back down into the pond. Her slender back glistened from the water and the moon in a way he knew he would never forget. He had to remind himself to breathe.
And then Mack watched her move off into the distance, until the shadows closed in around her and she became a part of the darkness and the earth.
Kathy Lynn Harris grew up in rural South Texas—and comes from people who work hard, love the land and know how to have a good time on a Saturday night. In 2001, Kathy made the move from Texas to the Colorado Rockies to focus on her writing and soak up All Things Mountain. She lives in a 1920s log cabin with her husband and son, plus two fairly untrainable golden retriever mixes. Kathy has written two novels, three children's books, a lot of bad poetry, short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, and personal essays. Kathy’s blog, You Can Take the Girl Out of Texas, but, can be found at kathylynnharris.com.
Connect with Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org or take your pick of social media channels:
Playlist for A Good Kind of Knowing