He Is a Good Man is one of eight stories about love and letters in the West included in Prairie Rose Publication’s 2016 Valentine’s Day anthology, Lariats, Letters, and Lace. The other seven authors are Linda Carroll-Bradd, Agnes Alexander, Kaye Spencer, Gail L. Jenner, B.J. Betts, Patti Sherry-Crews, and Niki Mitchell.
About He Is a Good Man:
A letter delivered from the grave changes everything for two young people.
Convinced he won’t make it out of the Civil War alive, Joshua persuades his best friend, Hal, to promise to deliver a letter. Joshua’s childhood sweetheart, Malinda, waits for him to return to her in California when the war ends—but Josh won’t be coming back. Instead, he asks Hal to deliver his last letter to Malinda—in person.
To learn more about the Santa Clara Valley in California where Malinda and her family made their home, click HERE.
“I’m trying to finish the letter I was writing to Mali last night. I told her I got shot, but it’s getting hard to write. You finish it for me, Hal. Tell her I love her. Tell her to think of me fondly as a childhood friend, but…go on with her life and be happy.”
Hal reached over and pried the paper out of Joshua’s fist. He rooted around on the ground until his fingers closed around the pencil Joshua had been using. He smoothed the crumpled sheet reasonably flat on his knee before he read the last few barely legible sentences in order to know where Joshua had left off and where he should start.
“Josh, what do you mean by telling her you’ve done all you can for her future? That doesn’t make much sense.”
“That’s between Mali and me. She’ll know…when the time comes.”
Hal shrugged and began to write, being careful to not poke the pencil through the paper weakened by the creases resulting from Joshua clutching it while fighting off his pain. He had almost finished writing the words Joshua had requested when his friend, with a voice noticeably weaker, spoke to him once more.
“Hal, you still got that other letter I asked you to take to Mali when I die?”
“You’re not going to die, Josh. But, yeah, I still have it.”
“And your word’s still good, isn’t it? You won’t mail it to her, but you’ll take it to her in person. You can mail the one you’re writing on now, and the one for my folks that’s in my coat pocket…but the one I gave to you before…you swear you’ll take it to her yourself in person? And you’ll do those other two things you promised to do, too?”
“My word’s good, Josh. I meant every word I promised.” Hal fought down the surge of annoyance that his messmate would question his honor. He turned to stare in the unfocused eyes of his closest friend. “As long as I live to return home, I’ll do what I swore to do. I doubt she’ll appreciate me doing the one, but I’ll give her the option.”
“Thanks, Hal. I’ll die in peace knowing you’ll do that.”
“Just hush up about dying, Josh. What did you write in that letter, anyway?”
“Between…me and Mali,” Joshua barely mumbled his words loud enough to be heard as shock and the loss of blood took its toll. “You…just take it to her.”
About Zina Abbott:
Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press. Her novelette, A Christmas Promise, along with the first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, was published by Prairie Rose Publications. He Is a Good Man was published in the Lariats, Letters and Lace anthology.
The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.
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