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Jericho Walls


Daddy said we were moving because he was the last of an old Carolina family, and it was time he went home. Mama said it was because Daddy was tired after running the gambling interests out of Cutter County. I knew it was on account of me busting the nose of Jeremy Williamson Harris the Third.

The moment my fist hit his face I guessed I was bound for trouble. Jeremy was the son of the richest man in Harrisburg, Indiana, the man who donated the new pipe organ to the church. I was the preacher's daughter.

Jeremy deserved to get hit, no doubt. He was a mean, worthless bully. But I shouldn't have been the one to do the hitting. Any other kid would have gotten in trouble, sure, but then that would be the end of that. Not only did I get in trouble, but my actions heaped shame upon the Lord Almighty Himself. And if causing that kind of shame ain't the worst feeling in the world, I don't know what is.

One week after the fight, Daddy came home with the news that we were leaving. We'd only been in Harrisburg for two years, and I finally had some good friends. After I beat up Jeremy, the boys let me play basketball at Jed Hopper's farm. He had a regulation court set up between his dad's barn and the fence. The last thing I wanted to do was leave.

I begged and pleaded and swore off fighting and spitting and calling names forever after. I'd never get in trouble again, no, sir. But Daddy was firm. He'd gotten an offer to pastor a church in his hometown of Jericho, South Carolina, and he heard God's call. I myself had never gotten a call from God, but Daddy got one every couple of years, which meant we had to pack up and go.

I'd keep out of trouble in Jericho, I promised myself that hot July day as our blue Chevy groaned over the Smoky Mountains and curved through the rolling hills. I'd do all the right things and make lots of good friends and no one would care a whit about my being the preacher's daughter. At least, that's what I hoped would be true.