June’s mother wasn’t angry about her having slipped out the back with the cowboy, and not even if she knew about the smoke because she, herself, did such things. She knew about Ray’s little bag in the barn at his mother’s place, and she didn’t think it hurt anything. No, it wasn’t anything like that. She was angry that June had gone there without telling her. It was a betrayal of trust. June’s actions proved that there was a barrier between the two that she could not bridge no matter how hard she tried. The whole idea of bringing the girl here was to be able to be with her, and be her companion. It was an effort to be young again, if only for a little while. Also, there was a measure of safety. This was a friendly atmosphere, in spite of the occasional fight. The idea being that the hall was such that a young lady would be safe there, but how could she be safe if she slipped out the back with the first cowboy she met! Glancing at the table, she noticed that June had not even finished the beer he’d given her. In fact, the remains of the man’s twelve-pack were still on the table. He had not returned. In her years in west Texas the older woman knew what all of this added up to, but she didn’t want a big show of concern right now. Instead, she opted for the “motherly” route.
“You just gotta be careful, June. You gotta get to know people before you take off with ‘em! Did you know that there’s only three people ever been with me here?”
“Well, Ray, you know that, and Mr. Stillwell, he showed me this place, and then there’s you. You are my best date.” The fat lady smiled. She noticed something on June’s jeans and asked, “Where did you get the sand on your jeans?”
June looked at the side of her jeans. There was a bit of river sand on them, obviously from when they had been on the floorboard of the truck. The cowboy had probably had some sand on his boots and it had been on the floorboard.
“I don’t know,” June tried to blow it off. “I guess they must’ve been dirty.”
Her mother was not a fool. “You go down on the river with that cowboy?”
“I told you that, mom. Just for a talk. That’s all.”
“You’re lying to me, June. I know you went outside, but that’s river sand on them jeans. You went down to the river with him didn’t you?”
June reached down and continued to brush off the jeans, but the very act of doing this was proving that there was a lot of sand on the jeans and her mother was watching the entire routine with a knowing eye.
“Ok,” her mother finally said, “I know you are lying; you know you are lying, but we won’t tell Ray about this. You just keep your little ass with me from now on. You need to go to the toilette from now on, I go with you.”
June kept brushing the jeans and tried to ignore her mother.
On the other side of the mystic veil Veronica watched this entire holographic scene as if it were a movie she could step into, and out of at will. Her spirit guide let her watch. She could even taste the beer, smell the smoke, everything. It was like she was there, yet she wasn’t. She felt the
emotions. As she watched herself with the cowboy, she noticed that the excitement began to return to her, even then. She walked around the dance hall. She remembered being there that night, and in places like it a lot of Saturday nights! She also remembered that this particular cowboy on this night was no exception, but the rule. June’s passion would overwhelm her time, and time again. The man in the tux came up behind her and she turned to talk to him.
“You been right here all along?” She asked.
“Yes, that’s my job, taking things in.”
She felt a little embarrassed, “You seen what I did
in that truck?”
“Yes, I saw it. If you are ashamed, why did you do
“It felt good, that’s why. Didn’t you ever want to
do something because it felt good?”
“You didn’t love him though.”
She looked at him with a wry smile, “Hey, I did for
“Veronica, I’m not going to preach to you; that’s
not my job, but you are too young to have been this experienced. In fact, you ignored him during the act. June left her body and came here with us, though she doesn’t know it just now.”
Veronica was suddenly stunned, as a memory flooded back into her being that she really had lost for oh so long, and now it had returned. So many times this sort of thing would haunt her in life, and yet when she tried to remember where she’d gone, what she’d seen, it was gone, like a wisp of smoke!
“How do I do that?”
He looked at her, “Do what?”
“Leave my body, and then come back?”
“It’s a gift. You can’t bring the memories with you when you go back to the physical world, but on this side you don’t have that problem. You’re seeing things as they are for the first time.”
“What happens if I don’t get back?”
“When such a gifted soul doesn’t make it back one more person is found dead in their sleep, in their chair, in their home. Once the soul stays separated from the body for too long it chooses to stay on this side.”
“Because that’s God’s will. You know about God’s will?”
“Hey, mister, my mom took me to church every Sunday. She hauled me down to the Pentecostal Church and that preacher scared the piss out of me every Sunday. And I found out that if I was a good little girl that I’d get to go to heaven, but you know what else I found out?”
“I found out that bad little girls get to go everywhere else!” She then noticed something in his hand, “What’s that?”
“Chilidog! I love them. One of the benefits of this job.” He ate the rest of the chilidog with one gulp, wiped his mouth and said, “Let’s go. I have some questions for you.”
The Butcher Shop