Excerpt from The South Hills Conspiracy

imageAndrew sat stoically during most of the graduation ceremony. He was thankful that the program was primarily emceed by the lead class academy cadre along with drill instructors for each squad. However his sister Vera, seated to his left, made him feel somewhat less thankful and more akin to a mouse perched beside clipped cheese. She had apparently intended to take full advantage of the situation with him as her captive audience.
“You know why I came, Stone? It’s because the boy invited me. And I know I just had to be here, poor baby. If only Cassandra could’a been here to see him. Don’t say it Stone. I know. I know you and her ended your cordial relations years ago. But that shouldn’t matter on a day like this and under these circumstances.”
Andrew turned to Vera. Her dark complexion, short heavyset stature, and flat facial features would not support a case for proving their genetic connection. She was smartly dressed in a bright, salmon colored two piece ensemble. Her Pixie hairdo was black with gray streaks.
“Don’t tell me. Tell your nephew,” Andrew pressed.
“What do you expect? You left his mom.”
“Oh is that what it’s all about? Why didn’t I come to you sooner?”
“Watch yourself little brother. I whipped you when you was a little bitty thang and I’ll whip you just the same right in front of all these here people, yo’ son included.” Vera removed her sunglasses and looked hard at Andrew for added emphasis.
Andrew wrinkled a cheek at his sister’s vernacular use and it’s return to her southern Louisiana roots.
“I guess it’s my fault he dropped out of the United States Military Academy too?”
“I just don’t understand you sometimes. I just don’t. For a man of your accomplishments. You’re still just as hard headed, and thick skulled as you ever have been. How did I ever put up with you? How did Cassandra for that matter?”
“Your point in there somewhere? Did I miss it?”
“The boy is here, Andrew, now. Right there in front of you. He’s about to graduate and very soon he’ll be following in your footsteps. Any father would be proud.”
“Any father on speaking terms with his son, you mean.”
“He’s been through a lot. You know that better than anybody. Yet he’s surviving, more than surviving if you ask me.”
Andrew also knew better than to tell Vera that no, he had not, in fact, asked her.

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