The Last Handful of Clover

Chapter 2.83: The Living, Alone

Book Two — Gifts Both Light and Dark

NOTE: This chapter is available in audiobook format on the TLHOC Podcast.
Access previous chapters of the book on the Table of Contents page.

June 15, 8:30 pm

Only seconds later, Pil returned.

Howard watched him emerge with a gasp, his limbs flailing. The big man turned over on his hands and knees, and almost instantly his vast back was heaving, as if he was trying to find his breath, or expel something from his lungs. He shivered so hard that Howard thought he was about to vomit, but then, slowly, his breathing returned to normal. Pil kept his forehead on the boards of the porch as he slowly found his way back into the land of the living.

Howard and Michelle did their best to help him back into the chair, but compared to him, they were both so small that there was little they could do. When he finally sank heavily into the chair, all the two of them could do was kneel by him, one on each side. Each held one of his big hands, and Pil only slowly came to realize who they were.

Michelle brought his hand to her lips and kissed it, over and over. “Oh, Pil, honey, are you okay? Tell me you’re okay!”

The man’s big arm finally rose and enfolded his wife and drew her to his chest. But he was also looking over her shoulder at the chubby man who was still on his knees on the rough boards of the porch. The look on Keith’s face was almost catatonic. His eyes stared unfocused at his own open hands.

“Do you… remember?” asked Howard.

“Yes,” Pil said, evenly. “I felt it all. Richard drove him out, whoever he was.”

“That was Justin,” Howard said, standing. Pil was still holding his wife, with his eyes locked on Keith, and Howard suddenly felt like a stranger, apart from the love these three shared. He cleared his throat. “Justin is the one who killed Richard. I don’t know why, but he hates him. And he won’t stop until he hurts him. And that means he won’t stop until Keith is dead.”

Those words thawed Keith, who finally looked up. He caught Pil’s eyes, and Howard could see the longing there. Not completely sure why he did it, Howard crossed to Keith and helped him to his feet. The man was trembling, but his eyes were clear. Pil lifted his free arm, gesturing to Keith, and Howard helped the chubby man cross the porch, where he fell against the other side of Pil’s chest. The big man’s arms enclosed them both now, both Keith and his wife. He was trembling, kissing first the top of his wife’s head, and then Keith’s.

Howard slipped into a chair facing them and just watched for several minutes. No word passed between them, but the three of them clung together so tightly that Howard felt almost embarrassed to be witnessing it. The love and intimacy these three shared was like nothing he had ever known in his young life, and he both longed for it, and feared it.

Quietly, Howard said, “We have to go.”

Michelle pulled slightly away from Pil, just enough to look into his face. Without turning to Howard, she said, “Tell Richard thank you.”

“I can’t.” Howard replied, his voice barely above a whisper. “Richard is gone.”

All three of the friends turned toward him.

“And Billy’s gone, too,” he said. “They’re all gone. I think we’re on our own.”

— END OF BOOK TWO —

The Last Handful of Clover is a supernatural thriller by Wess Mongo Jolley. Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying this story, please consider supporting the author on Patreon.

For more information (including maps of the story’s world and a contact form) visit the author’s website.

To read previous chapters of this book, go to the Table of Contents page.

If you’re interested in listening to the book, rather than reading it, the audiobook is available at the Patreon link above, and also as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Anchor, and all other podcast platforms. Visit the podcast page for more details.

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Copyright 2021, Wess Mongo Jolley. All rights reserved.

Wess Mongo Jolley

Wess Mongo Jolley is Utah native, who is now an expatriate American novelist, editor, poet and poetry promoter, living in Montreal. He is Founder and Director of the Performance Poetry Preservation Project, and is most well known for hosting the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel podcast for more than ten years. His poems and short stories have appeared or journals such as Off The Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, and Danse Macabre, Apparition Literary Journal, Grain, and in collections such as the Write Bloody Press book The Good Things About America. He loves hearing from readers, and can be contacted through his website, at https://wessmongojolley.com. If you are enjoying this story, please drop him a line, and consider supporting his work as a novelist at http://patreon.com/wessmongojolley. All of the trilogy's over 207 chapters are available there for subscribers, and new poems, short stories, and other content is posted there every Friday.

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