The King of Crows (The Diviners, #4) by Libba Bray Read Online (FREE)
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Somewhere in America
On the last day that the town of Beckettsville would ever know, the weather was so fine you could see all the way to the soft blue skin of the horizon. The land in this part of the country was beautiful. Tall wheat tickled the spring air. Fat maples offered summertime shade. There was a fine-looking Main Street boasting a post office, a hardware store, a filling station with two gasoline pumps out front, a grocery, a pharmacy, a small hotel with a downstairs cafe that served warm apple pie, and a barbershop whose revolving red-white-and-blue pole thrilled the children, a daily magic trick.
A round clock mounted to the front of City Hall’s domed tower showed the passage of time, which, in Beckettsville, seemed to move slower than in other places. The people worked hard and tried to be good neighbors. They sang in church choirs and attended Rotary and Elks Club meetings. They played bridge on Friday nights. Held picnics near the bandstand under the July sun. Canned summer peaches for the long winter. Got excited by the arrival of a new Philco radio, electric icebox, or automobile, everybody crowding ’round to see progress unloaded from the back of a truck by grunting, sweaty men. The people lived in neat rows of neat houses with indoor plumbing and electric lights, attended one of the town’s four churches (Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Congregationalist), sent their dead to the Perkins & Son Funeral Parlor over on Poplar Street for embalming, and buried those same dead in the cemetery up on the hill at the edge of town, far from the bustle of Main Street.
As the clock counted down to the horrors awaiting Beckettsville, population four hundred five souls, Pastor Jacobs stepped out of First Methodist Church thinking of that apple pie over at the Blue Moon Cafe—so delicious the way Enola Gaylord served it, with a dollop of cream, and it really was a shame he would not get to enjoy Beckettsville’s favorite pie today or any day thereafter. The pastor nodded and said “Afternoon” to sweet Charlie Banks, who swept the sidewalk free of spring blossoms in front of McNeill’s Hardware. Charlie mooned over the approach of pretty schoolteacher Cora Nettles. As Cora marched past him (her own thoughts occupied by a silly but maddening argument she’d had with her mother over the new pink hat Cora now wore—it most certainly was not “unbecoming of a serious woman”!), Charlie sighed, thinking that tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, he would finally summon the courage to ask her to the picture show over in Fairview and that she might answer sweetly, Why, Charlie Banks, I would love to! so that the world of his heart, which Charlie held so tightly in his fist, would open into the bright, fresh bloom of his long-desired future.