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blowback-lg Bev Prescott
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Bink Books
222 pp. ● 5.5×8.5
$13.95 (pb) ● $7.95 (eb)
ISBN 978-1-939562-68-5 (pb)
● 978-1-939562-69-2 (eb)

FICTION – Literary
FICTION – Lesbian

About the Book

Meghan Blaney comes from a long line of self-sufficient, gritty Maine lobstermen. She knows a thing or two about hard work, loyalty, and sacrifice. When she put off going to culinary school so she could take care of her aging father, she never expected to be schlepping pancakes at a local diner a decade later. Nor did she plan to be living in an old house that was too small for her partner, Lauren, and her cantankerous father.

Meghan’s life becomes even more complicated when she agrees to let her ex-con brother, Scott, stay with them. He unwittingly brings the sordid underbelly of the fishing industry and one troublesome gun into their lives. Meghan quickly learns the hard way, despite everyone’s best intentions, having a gun comes with its own unintended blowback.


Praise

“Prescott does a really nice job of writing a compelling, tightly-woven narrative. Her prose is precise – every word was chosen for a particular reason. The dialogue is natural and believable – I could hear it being spoken in my head. Her descriptions of Maine are detailed and vivid. Rather than being superfluous descriptions that distract the reader from the story itself, they are instead an essential part of the book . . . Without a doubt, I will be thinking about this novel for a long, long time. It has already taken over my thoughts. Everything seems to bring me back to Meghan and Lauren and Scott and Jared and Midge. These characters and their experiences will live with me. It may take me a while, but I will return to this book and read it again.” — Carleen Spry, Frivolous Views

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“What Bev Prescott has tried to do is show how good people with the best of intentions can end up in the most tragic of circumstances despite being good, sensible, caring gun owners. She has presented characters who are for and against and is asking the reader to consider the consequences. A brave position which will, no doubt, garner some anger.”Lesbian Reading Room


Excerpt

Meghan pushed past the swinging door into the dining room. Twelve blue booths matching the color of the Formica cabinets in the kitchen lined the walls to her left and right, six on each side. A row of five tables, each with four chairs, cut a line through the center of the diner. Five bar stools were spread out along the length of a counter near the coffee pot and cash register.

Meghan gazed out the half-fogged windows. The rain had dwindled to a drizzle. The sky was lightening up and giving way to a little sunshine. The boats that she could see in slips and moorings along the boardwalk were no longer bobbing and weaving. Two people wearing raincoats with the hoods pulled over their heads stopped in front of the glass door covered in condensation. One of them carried a familiar cane.

Dad. He was wearing the bright orange slicker he’d always worn fishing. She’d recognize him in it anywhere. “Looks like Dad and Winfred are early.”

Midge went to the door and opened it. “Morning. Come on in. You’re just in time for some fresh coffee.”

Dad and Winfred walked in, flipped their hoods back, and unzipped their raincoats. As Winfred removed his coat, Meghan noticed the edge of a black leather gun holster through the shoulder hem of his wool vest.

Her father struggled to take his raincoat off.

Scott went to him and took a sleeve. “Here, Dad, let me help.”

Martin yanked his arm away. “I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself.” He continued to fumble with the coat until he pulled it free.

Before he had a chance to argue, Midge took it from him and hung it on the coat rack by the door.

“You ought to be pulling traps by now,” Martin said to Scott. “A good lobsterman isn’t interested in his beauty sleep. Now that the sun’s up and the storm is on its way out, it’s time for you to go out fishing . . . you can make some money and pay me back for that boat I sold you.”

Meghan went behind the counter and slid out a tub of clean silverware from a shelf underneath it, relieved that her father hadn’t noticed Scott didn’t come home last night. He hadn’t picked up on Scott’s swollen lip either. Old man’s eyes were failing.

“Winfred, this is Midge Calhoun, the owner of the diner. Midge, please meet Winfred Mayberry.” She set the tub on the counter.

Midge put her hand out. “Pleased to meet you. Can I offer you some coffee?”

“That would be wonderful.” Winfred shook Midge’s hand and then took Martin’s elbow and led him to a stool at the counter. A bear of a man with snow white hair, warm dark eyes, and a gentle demeanor, he towered over Martin. “Black with a couple of sugars, please.”

Meghan took a hodgepodge of souvenir cups from the rack hanging along the wall behind the counter. It’d become a tradition among the regular customers to donate cups from their travels across the United States and beyond to the diner. The cups were from places as far away as Greece, Alaska, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

Meghan poured coffee into a cup from Scotland and slid it in front of her father. “Lauren and I really appreciate you bringing Dad to breakfast for us this morning,” she said to Winfred. “Otherwise the old grouch would’ve had to have cereal by himself at home.”

“If you weren’t my favorite kid, Fiddlehead, I’d get my feelings hurt.” Martin lifted the cup with his right hand while his left rested useless in his lap.

“You know you’re an old grouch.” Midge winked. “Always have been.” She opened the large pack of napkins on the counter and took a spoon, knife, and fork from the tub of utensils and wrapped them in a napkin.

Martin hoisted his cup higher in a toast. “I pride myself on it.”

Winfred sat on the empty stool between Martin and Scott. “I’m happy to hang out with Martin this morning. I’m sort of in the dog house anyway.” He patted Martin on the shoulder. “Martin’s grouchiness is nothing compared to Natalia’s wrath. And she’s pretty upset with me this morning.”

Meghan placed a cup of black coffee in front of Winfred and poured cups for herself, Midge, and Scott. “What kind of trouble did you get yourself into?”

Martin spooned a couple heaps of sugar into his coffee. “I bought myself a little present without asking her first.” He stirred the coffee. “It was a mistake she’ll make me pay for until I fix the situation to her satisfaction.”

“Uh oh.” Midge wrapped another set of utensils in a napkin and added it to the growing pile. “Let’s hear the whole story.”

Winfred took a sip of coffee. “Well, since I retired, we’re on a fixed income and money’s tight. Not to mention that we’re trying to save for a vacation to Europe. You know how it is? Every penny counts these days. But a buddy of mine made me a sweet offer—”

“Yeah, one you couldn’t pass up,” Martin said. “Show it to them.”

“You don’t think the ladies will be offended?” Winfred asked.

“Oh, hell no.” Martin set the cup on the counter and waved his hand as if shooing a fly. “Not these two. Meghan grew up with guns. I taught her everything I know about firearms. And Midge is from the North Woods.”

“Hunting and guns are a way of life in northern Maine,” Midge agreed. “A life I’m proud of. Taught me how to take care of myself.”

Martin bumped Winfred’s shoulder. “No offense, old buddy, but I’d bet that in a head-to-head at the range, either one of these ladies could give you a run for your money.”

“Let’s see what you’ve got.” Midge laid a set of silverware on the counter at each of the five barstools. “We don’t have anything against guns around here. Truth be told, I keep my late husband, Carl’s twenty-two in the safe out back in the kitchen. Gives me some peace of mind that I’ve got some way of protecting this place.”

“All right then, prepare yourselves, she’s a beauty.” Winfred retrieved a sleek black handgun from the gun holster from inside his wool vest. He removed the magazine, pulled back the slide, and checked the chamber. “It’s unloaded.” He handed the gun to Midge by its grip.

Midge held it like an expert. Keeping it pointed away from them and at the floor, she examined it closely. “Nice. A nine millimeter Glock. Powerful. I like the small grip. But it’s a little top heavy despite being so light.”

“The lady knows her firearms,” Winfred said with a grin.

“I told you,” Martin said.

“Must’ve been a special present to yourself.” Midge pointed to a spot on the grip. “You even had your initials WM engraved on it.”

“Wasn’t me who engraved it. I bought it from a buddy of mine who’s a gun collector,” Winfred answered. “He called me a couple of weeks ago and said it must be serendipity that I have it because my name was already on it.”

“Where’d he get it from?” Scott asked.

“Who knows?” Winfred shrugged. “He gets guns from all over the country. From shows and what not. Like I said, he’s a collector.”

Midge handed the gun back to Winfred. “Your wife going to let you keep it now that you have it?”

“Nope. Not unless I’m okay sleeping in the dog house.” Winfred pushed the magazine back into the gun and returned the gun to the holster. “I should’ve talked to her before I bought it. That was my mistake. Plus, I need another gun like a need a hole in the head. It was an impulsive purchase. I’m looking to sell it. You interested?”

“No,” Midge replied. “Money’s tight for me, too. I’ve got a granddaughter to put through college.” She took a sip of coffee.

“What about you, Fiddlehead?” Martin asked Meghan.

“That’s not going to happen, Dad. You know how Lauren feels about guns.” Meghan gave her father a frown to suggest that the conversation would go no further.

“But, how do you feel about guns?” Winfred asked Meghan.

“I don’t have anything against them and wouldn’t mind having one around for protection. But Lauren doesn’t like them. And I’m not going to force one on her.” Meghan picked up her cup. She didn’t want to offend Winfred, but she had no desire to debate guns. “I should get back in the kitchen.”

“I love everything about Lauren,” Martin quipped, “except that little quirk. I’ll keep working on her though. She’ll come to the other side.”

“Dad,” Meghan said. “Please, leave Lauren alone about guns.”

“Ah, you’re no fun,” Martin said.

“What about you?” Winfred asked Scott.

“Well . . . well,” Scott stammered. “Who wouldn’t want a gun like that? It’s gorgeous.”

“Have a look then.” Winfred put his hand to the holster.

Meghan shot a look at her father then at Scott. “We should get the diner open. Scott, can you give me a hand with something in the kitchen?”

“You bet.” Scott got up fast and followed her. He made sure the swinging door was closed behind him. “Thank you for bailing me out. You saved me from embarrassment.”

“Yeah, I’m not sure how Dad would’ve responded. He might’ve had a field day embarrassing you.” Meghan opened the oven door, releasing a heavenly aroma, and inspected her quiches.

“He thinks he can shame me into being what he wants me to be,” Scott said. “Winfred doesn’t know that I’m a convicted felon, and I don’t want him to.”

“Tell me you don’t.” Meghan shut the oven door and turned to Scott.

“What?”

“Want a gun.”

“You know I’m not allowed to have one. That’d be a ticket straight back to jail for a lot longer than the remainder of my sentence.”

“Good.” Meghan put her palms on the counter. “It’s just . . .”

“Just what?”

“There’s a lot on the line. You have to finally get your shit together.”

“Listen to me.” Scott walked up to the counter and faced Meghan. “I’m not going to get into trouble again. I do not want to go back to prison.”

“I’d like to believe you, but look at you.” Meghan gestured to his face. “You won’t tell me where you were all night and you’ve got a busted lip. What am I supposed to think?”

Scott touched his lip and dropped his arm. “I know how it looks. But, I can’t tell you about last night. You’re going to have to trust me.”

“When I trust you, the rest of our family gets caught in the middle.” Meghan went to the sink and washed her hands. “You’re asking me to trust you at Lauren’s expense. I don’t know how much longer I can do that.” She wiped her hands on the towel tucked into her apron.

“A couple of months more. That’s all I need.” Scott slipped his hands into his pockets. “I’m not going to fuck this up. Just—”

“You can’t fuck up again.”

“Just trust me. That’s all I’m asking.”

“It’s not only me. Lauren and Dad will get hurt if you do. Jared, too.”

“Jared is all I think about. Here’s what I promise.” Scott rapped his knuckles on the counter, accenting each sentence. “All I want is joint custody of my son again. I want a place of my own. I want to make an honest living. And, I want to pay Dad every penny he loaned me for that boat.” He paused, walked to the Meghan, and put his hands on her shoulders. “I don’t want to let you down, Sis. Never again.”

“I sincerely hope that you don’t.” Meghan shrugged away from him and took a large metal bowl from the shelf under the counter.

Scott pushed his hands into his pockets. “Speaking of paying Dad back, I should go pull traps. We okay?”

“I hope so,” Meghan answered, but unconvinced. “I need to make batter for pancakes.”

“I promise, I won’t let you down.” Scott grabbed his jacket from the rack by the door. “None of you.”