A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
If you heard wild laughter a couple of weeks ago, you’ll know exactly when I was reading Patricia Preston’s deliciously funny short story Laid to Rest. I’m sorry I haven’t shared this with you sooner, but vacation last week threw me off schedule. Still, if you’re in the mood for a short, black comedy, this book is the ticket.
Darlene Higginbottom is determined to shake the dust of Clayburn, Mississippi from her shoes and head for stardom in Hollywood. However, traveling money is hard to come by in 1957, so Darlene tries to make a little on the side in the world’s oldest profession. Trouble is, her first customer, Mayor Stroud, dies in her bed. Now she must rely on two good ole boys, Richie Underwood and Tommy Ray Petty (Clayburn’s answer to Dumb and Dumber), to help get her out of this pickle, and the mayor out of her bed and back to his home. All without his wife’s knowledge. Their journey that night will keep you turning pages as your eyes water and your stomach aches with laughter.
Six sentences of Laid to Rest was the first snippet I ever read on Six Sentence Sunday over a year ago. That’s how memorable it was. I loved Darlene’s voice, the premise, everything told me, in just those six sentences, that this book was going to be fantastic. I’m so glad I was proved right! The humor has the quintessential Southern charm, the characters remind me of people I have known, and the descriptions recall hot summer nights of my youth (though never so colorful!).
My absolute favorite scene comes when Darlene discovers the mayor in her bed (she has just come from putting her “fee” away before getting down to business):
“The mayor was sprawled on top of the bed. All two-hundred-plus pounds of him lay face down on the sagging mattress, crosswise. When I looked at his pale, butt-naked body, all I could think of was a possum in the moonlight.”
That’s when you heard my wild cackling. In a public place, too!
The only bad thing about this book is that it’s too short. But I have it on good authority that this is not the end of Darlene, Ricky and Tommy. I’m looking forward to the promise of that future book, so happy they have not, like Mayor Stroud, been laid to rest.
Laid to Rest is available on Amazon and the other usual e-vendors.