Mustard Seed
140 pages

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A redemption story of family, faith, and forgiveness in small-town Louisiana. 

After a lifetime of abuse and loss, sixty-one-year-old Vernon Davidson is ready to get back at God, his coworkers, and everyone else in his northern Louisiana hometown. To numb his pain, he drinks too much, and he shuns his friends and embarrasses himself in the community. The once-cautious Vernon has spiraled into a reckless mess. 

When his brother becomes terminally ill, Vernon must track down his estranged nephew, Jody, in an effort to bring the younger man home to his dying father. Jody himself is struggling after a self-imposed exile—having fled his family for a new life thousands of miles away. As Vernon and Jody set off on their journey home, they find themselves on a path that takes them from loss to healing and will ultimately change their lives. 

Mustard Seed is a stirring portrait of small-town Louisiana men—grandfathers, fathers, sons, and brothers—that exposes their flaws while showcasing their inner strengths. It forms a doxology, a song of praise, for the male family bond and the emotional ties men hide from the world and each other. Ultimately, it examines an impossibly difficult question: After a man has faced countless tragedies and endless disappointments, how does he go about forgiving a God he has grown to despise—and find his way back to the bonds that sustain him?



Publié par
Date de parution 13 décembre 2022
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781954854895
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0150€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2022 by Brian Holers
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Girl Friday Books™, Seattle
Produced by Girl Friday Productions
Design: Paul Barrett Production editorial: Abi Pollokoff Project management: Sara Spees Addicott
Image credits: cover © iStock/ H.Takemoto
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-954854-88-8 ISBN (e-book): 978-1-954854-89-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2022946228

For Jody and Ben and Mama and Daddy

I wrote much of this book while traveling in Kenya, Tanzania, and Israel. It would not have been possible without the space my family afforded me. Many thanks to Leslie Miller of Girl Friday Books who sent me back to the table many times; she and her team helped turn this chunk of coal into a diamond. Toda raba to Ari Brown, my Jewish friend who understands Christianity better than many Christians. He not only named my business, he also named this book. Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the friendship and contribution of Joe “Head” Thiels. You’ll recognize some of these stories. I hope I did them justice.

Chapter 1
Vernon hates pennies. He knows it’s ridiculous, the surge of dread he feels in his stomach when he holds a penny in his hand. But it’s like just about everything these days, deceptions and crimes and perversions of the sort you never heard of way back when. What can he do about it? After sixty-one years, Vernon allows himself his feelings.
When the rain shower stops, he stands from the seat of his truck and takes the coins from his pocket. He reaches back inside, drops a quarter, a dime, and a nickel into the open ashtray. Vernon looks across the parking lot at the Branden Parish Hospital. The afternoon sun is well into its long descent, and though it is not yet April, steam from the midday shower rises in clouds off the pavement.
He holds one of the copper coins out in front of him, holds two others in his hand. Vernon loved these when he was a boy, when EL used to give him a few cents to buy candy or gum with Pearl or Leonard. Leonard, his only brother left, in there in his bed. Hard to believe they used to be so special, back when a quarter still filled the palm of his hand. Now they’re everywhere. Free in convenience stores. Vernon reads the date on the penny—1975. His stomach burns, not just from the whiskey. The year Billy was born. It was an overshined penny just like this one that had worked its way out of his pants pocket one day, wedged itself under the agitator of his washing machine, and stripped the gears so thoroughly that the innards just froze. Vernon was working on it that night when the sheriff came by. A four-hundred-dollar washing machine dead, because Vernon tried to hold on to something worthless. Something absolutely worthless.
Finally, he closes the door of his truck, walks toward the hospital. He throws the three pennies in the briars as he passes. Vernon smiles at the red-haired receptionist in the lobby, shuffles up the stairs to his brother’s room. Leonard is asleep. The hospital blanket is bunched at his feet and he’s covered by nothing but a gown.
Vernon stands over his sleeping brother, tsks at the yellow pall creeping into Leonard’s face. For a moment Vernon thinks he’s looking into a distorted reflection of the Davidson family chin, the wide upper lip. He feels a crush of sympathy for his brother, so strong he starts to reach out his hand. Just then Leonard stirs, opens his eyes, smiles.
“How you doing today, Leonard?”
As Leonard’s eyelids flutter, the pictures inside them fade quickly, snap off midmotion like a frozen camera shutter. Yet he knows in an instant what his dream was about, and a warm, contented feeling he has only recently begun to know seeps into his joints as he wakes.
Leonard settles into the bed. “I was dreaming.”
“Yeah? What about?”
“Yeah. I’ve been dreaming about him a lot the last few days. Vernon?”
“What do you think about what Daddy used to say?”
“Hmm. What was that?”
“About why he done it.”
Vernon reaches into his empty pocket, grabs a ball of lint, pulls it out, looks at it. “Done what?”
Leonard struggles to sit up, settles back, then kicks what remains of his blanket onto the floor. “You know what I’m talking about.”
“Well. I haven’t thought about that in a long time.”
“Vernon. That’s not true and you know it.”
“Probably just what he said, then. That was his job. His responsibility.”
Leonard reaches for the plastic pitcher by his bed, pours himself a cup of water, drinks it. “That’s what he said. But I don’t see how that taught Pearl anything. Or us.”
Vernon walks to the window, his back to the room. “It don’t matter now. He just done what he done, I guess.”
For a minute they both are silent. Leonard pours another cup of water and drinks it, blows out a long breath. “You know what I think, Vernon?”
“I think Daddy done the best he could. What he thought was the best thing for us.”
Vernon looks out at his truck in the parking lot. “You think so?”
“Yeah I do.”
“Well. I’m not going to argue with you.”
“Why not? Because I’m dying?”
Vernon doesn’t answer.
“Don’t look so sad, Vernon. You’re not the one dying here.”
“You think that if you want to, Leonard.” Vernon snatches up a magazine from his brother’s bedside table. “But I guess we’ll never know why Daddy done the things he did.”
“I hear you. I thought that same way. That there’s things we’ll never know.”
“And now?”
“Now I feel like I know something.”
“Well, good for you, Leonard. Good for you. What the hell makes you think that?”
“I don’t know. I just do. Isn’t that something? Layin’ here on this bed before I figure things out.” Leonard pauses again. “The good Lord spoke to me, I guess you could say.”
Vernon starts toward the door. “I’ve got to get on home.”
“Come on, brother. Stay awhile. This may be the last time we get to talk.”
Vernon feels himself blush. “Don’t say that, Leonard. Please don’t.”
“All right. All right. I apologize. I shouldn’t have said it.” He raises a hand in accordance.
“I’ve got to go. Got to get on home. I’ll stop back tomorrow.”
Leonard reaches for his brother’s hand. “Vernon?”
Vernon stops.
“I need you to do something for me.”
Vernon stands still, looks out the door into the hallway. Waiting.
“Find my boys for me.”
Vernon exhales loudly, as if lowering himself to the ground. “I figured eventually you’d ask me.”
“You think you can find them?”
“Jody . . . I knew where he was out in California last year. I can probably track him down. He hasn’t been back since . . .”
“No. Been twelve years now. Matter of fact it’ll be his birthday in a week or so.”
“He’d be thirty then.” Vernon grimaces when he says it.
“You got it.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” He steps again toward the door.
“Find Scooter too.”
Vernon pops his lips, considers a response, decides to leave Leonard his peace. “You’ve never asked too much of me I guess. I can make some phone calls.”
“I appreciate it. You always were the best finder.”
In the waning daylight Vernon drives his truck through Branden. He passes the paper mill, where he’s spent most of his life for the last thirty-six years, bumps over the railroad track, and thinks, as he often does, of his father. He tries to imagine the day the train brought the man to Louisiana, the deeds he ran from, the future that must have held such hope, now but a distant blink in the past. Vernon feels a pinch of sadness blindside him, then reaches for the bottle on the floorboard, takes a long pull at the stoplight, begins to feel the numbness again before the light turns green.
He rolls past the abandoned shops at the edge of town, guides the old truck along the mile-long stretch of broken sidewalk that stops at the highway, shifts through the light blinking red, and crosses the bypass road. Even the Walmart lot is mostly empty.
Outside town, Vernon slows down in the curve that fronts the old home place. A porch light is on, and for a moment he considers stopping. But, as he does every day, he decides against it, pilots the truck back onto the road and continues toward Natchitoches.
Vernon slows again to read the sign out in front of Mt. Olive Church. The preacher there had hauled in one of these chest-high signs on wheels and was always changing that sign, trying to say something witty to the people passing by. This time Vernon rolls down his window, stops in the middle of the road. Humidity and the roar of crickets pour in. Vernon reads:
If you meet me and forget me
You have lost nothing.
If you meet Jesus and forget him
You have lost everything.
He slides back into gear and continues. Then he feels the truck slowing, feels his hands jerk the wheel all the way to the left, sees the sign approaching again and the white concrete of the church’s parking lot. He reads the words once more, leans his head back, laughs out loud, shouts.
You believe that if you want to, Leonard. Doesn’t matter to me. Doesn’t mean anything. Not one thing. He punches the gas pedal to the floor. The words of the sign grow larger.
Vernon screeches the truck to a halt. You have lost everything. No sense ruining his truck too. No sense letting everything go. He backs off a few feet, jumps out, runs over, lifts the handle of the sign. Then he lifts it

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