What happens when art and activism join together? Something like this draft copy on my desk this morning …
Incident at Exeter Tavern
~ A Maryvonne Mini-Mystery ~
By RM Allen
One hot summer weekend in July, something odd is about to happen at the old tavern. The whole village is getting ready for fun and celebration at the annual Independence Festival weekend down by the river, in one of the oldest parts of town, when space and time collide.
Something has gone missing. Or has it? Maryvonne has set up her easel across from the old tavern early one morning when she is visited by early American novelist Tabitha Gilman Tenney, and begins to learn about some of the contributions of the Revolutionary War era black community in Exeter, New Hampshire.
- Exeter Green Press, (January 2020)
- Exeter, New Hampshire
- ISBN-13: 978-0-9883744-2-3
- 150 pages, $14.00
From around the far corner of the Folsom Tavern came Joe, the baker and owner of Joe Saints; he was holding an oversized reusable shopping bag emblazoned with the logo of the supermarket she had shopped at just before the accident. “Mon Dieu” she thought to herself and rolled her eyes. Which caused a bit of a spangle in her head and took a good few seconds to whirl away.
The bag was very full of large baguettes, peeking higgledy-piggledy out the top and popping up and down madly as Joe quickly crossed the street and went hurriedly in between his shop and the building on the far side of it, towards the shop’s back entrance. Maryvonne was seated in the shadow of the tree and Joe seemed to not see her from that distance – and she was glad, because he was a chatterer.
Running down from the yellow house up on the hill came a slim young man in a fancy green waistcoat and brown breeches, holding his brown tri-cornered hat steadily on his head as he bounced towards them. He was a round-faced boy who appeared a couple of years older than Scipio but did not, and would never, have the muscular girth of the former farm slave.
Tabby turned at the sound of his running footsteps. “Why John Taylor Gilman, whatever has gotten into you?” she inquired, in her slow manner of speech.
“Cousin Tabby, I thought that was you I saw out the window. Listen now, very important. Indeed,” he huffed, out of breath from the run, but the words flowed on out of his small mouth. “Indeed. A rider delivered a message from Philadelphia to the house just now. There is to be a public reading of the message in two hours’ time on the steps of the Town House on Front Street. Indeed. Nicholas has asked me to read it, and to get the Reverend to give a blessing before the reading, which I shall do next.
The song finished and the station went to an ad, so Maryvonne thought about Jimi while his voice still echoed in her head. What a loss that Jimi died so young and left such a gap. I wonder what other contributions he would have made to the world, both in music and civil rights. He, like Jude Hall, reached for his moment and made a huge success of it. Then the pressure that these two men, centuries apart, must have endured because they both had excelled in a discriminatory white man’s world must have been ghastly. It boggles my mind. Mon Dieu! There is no use getting maudlin over it. Let’s see what can be done. And she began typing on her laptop. Art + Feminism had a website that encouraged her to create a Wikipedia account and add women, femmes, and others into the white, male-dominated online encyclopedia.
The car keys landed on Mal’s open laptop keyboard, and the machine blinked to life. Maryvonne was embarrassed, and hoped she had done no damage. She went around behind the desk to inspect the computer to make sure nothing looked broken. The keyboard looked fine. Maryvonne’s eyes scanned over the lit screen and she didn’t see any scratches. But then her eyes caught on the words on the screen, and she stopped short. The document on the screen was entitled “Dunlap Broadside Heist Plan” She felt a bit of a shock go through her system. Would Mal do something like that? Maryvonne glanced around the room and everyone was busy looking at Elena Rose’s art, and not at her.
~~~Book to be released in January, 2020~~~