Book One in the CUSA series
(C) 2017 Adam Cole
Published by Nuncici Press, an imprint of Adam Cole Works LLC
For the first time, Chassis actually looked mad. This time she reached under her seat, and Rosa saw the revolver she didn’t get a chance to pull the first time laying large in her hand. She said something into the radio and muttered at Rosa to get back to her seat.
Chassis turned back to all of them and spoke out. “Folks, this isn’t good, but it’s still not the end. Everyone needs to keep quiet and let me handle it.”
While Chassis was talking they heard heavy footsteps on the stairs, and Porter came up with his big shotgun in his arms. But there was no old lady behind him this time. Just a bony white man with a lot of scraggly beard and a long, sharp nose.
Chassis had her gun pointed at Porter’s head, right at the temple. He looked surprised, but he didn’t back down or put up his hands. “You better not,” he said. “You can’t get back on the road without us.”
“What have you done to my bus?” she asked him.
Porter grinned. His mouth was a big black hole. The man behind him said “I guess we didn’t put those front tires on quite right. Your axle came right off. We can fix it back up if you want.”
“Then do it,” Chassis said, each word crisp like the scrape of a knife against a whetting stone.
Porter still didn’t seem to care about the gun at his head. “I want something,” he said to her.
“You got everything you wanted in your agreement,” Chassis told him.
His cheeks puffed out. “My Mamma got everything!” he yelled at her, pouting like a child. “I didn’t get nothing that I wanted!”
Chassis didn’t react to Porter’s tantrum. “You can’t have anything else,” she said, not backing off.
“You better put that gun down,” said the man behind Porter. “Phil is standing just outside with a rifle pointed at your head.”
Chassis’ shoulders tensed, and then sagged, and she sat down. “You know,” she said to Porter, “that the people where I come from can hear what you’re saying on the radio. If you do anything—”
“I ain’t gonna harm you,” Porter said. “I just want what I said I want. I want the China girl for the night.”
“You can’t have her,” Chassis said. “She’s not part—”
“I want her!” Porter interrupted, spit spraying from his mouth. He moved his big belly towards Chassis. “I want her, or you ain’t going anywhere! You give me that China girl…” Then he paused, and his eyes found Rosa again.
Rosa tried to shrink away, but she was afraid to move. “Or I’ll take that pretty little spic there.” He gestured at her and took two steps down the aisle in her direction. Even though her Mamma was all the way at the back of the bus, Rosa knew she had stopped breathing.
Instantly, all the fear she had forgotten to feel before came into her now. A sickening sense of falling with no clue as to where the bottom was. “Daddy?” she cried, uncertain, unable to grasp for him, hoping that he was behind her.
But in that moment of connection between them, Porter’s eyes went sad. He made a sound like someone was sucking the air out of his lungs, and he fell on his knees. There was a huge thump when he came down on the tilted bus floor. He was squirming, trying to get to the hole in his back where the Chinese girl’s father had stuck him with a little knife, but his arms were too big and he couldn’t even touch the handle. The girl’s father was looking down at Porter where he had dropped, and when Porter wriggled all the way to the floor, Chassis and the man on the steps could finally see what he had done. Chassis’ face got all scrunched up. “Do you know what—“ she started to say as the bony-nose man practically fell down the bus stairs in his hurry to get off.
Rosa knew what was about to happen next because she was watching the Kwangs. When they got down, she got down. Then everything in the world shattered in the space of a few seconds.
More about Motherless Child
When Rosa’s mother loses her job with the Corporate United States, her family must flee or be killed in an employee purge. Taking the dangerous bus trip across the Unincorporated States, they are ambushed by bandits. Hopelessly separated from her family, Rosa is rescued by the people of Ascension, a small backwoods Virgilna town with a terrible secret.
Seventeen years in the making, Cole’s book about a girl trapped between two Americas serves as a reminder of what the United States has become, and what it still could be.
Adam Cole is an author and music educator in Atlanta, GA. He has written numerous books and stories for children, as well as a number of adult and non-fiction titles including The Girl With the Bow and Seven Ways the World Can End.
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