Lust in Spring has four luscious novellas in between its covers. The first is Byron Cane’s beautiful tale.
It’s 1952, and Gale Johnson is outraged when her parents send her packing to a tiny town in Appalachia to visit the mysterious great aunt she has never met.
In the foothills of North Carolina, Gale will discover a wondrous birthright as Guardian of the land.
A lifetime of discipline and sexual satisfaction awaits, but her destiny comes at a cost.
As the title says, people round these parts think I’m a witch: these parts being Olympus Hollow. There you go; I repeated the title for y’all. No applause needed, we’re good. Or as the saying goes: word.
My name is Gale Johnson, of the Johnsons of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on the Main Line. How I ended up in the far southern reaches of Appalachia, that story is the fault of my mother: harsh but true. I was angry with her for a long time, besides being a stuck-up bitch when I arrived.
I believe I was likely manic-depressive or bi-polar back then, but that doesn’t excuse rudeness. All that’s long past now. I’m eighty-five, or will be next April 1st, the joke’s on me, right?
Leastwise you think I’m a bitter old woman, nothing could be further from the truth. The tale I shall shortly relate here shall only be released upon my death. Ergo, I am currently deceased—with several mitigating circumstances.
I’m not trying to be lawyerly here. As you’ll discover at the end of my memoir, the situation was not exactly cut and dried. In all honesty, I’m probably confusing you—I like to talk—so rather than work backwards in a logical manner, I will instead start at the beginning.
It’s a good thing I kept up my diaries all these years. I’d forgotten I’d written them in first person, present tense back then. The conceit of a recent college graduate I’m afraid, trying to be grownup and sophisticated.
I decided to share excerpts within the prose to highlight my state of mind. I apologize if my lack of empathy shines through my journal entries of those days in 1952, but I will not censor to meet modern sensibilities. I’m too damn old to be PC.
I was young and sheltered: a northern white girl dropped into the segregated South. I did not know of course, that Pennsylvania and the other states of the Union were just as divided as any Confederate state. I had always naively assumed people lived within racial and ethnic boundaries because they wanted to by choice.
So many changes in my lifetime, including the internet and access to a world of information. It’s a lot easier these days to write your thoughts and store them in the cloud.
I do enjoy the spanking blogs; I’m a connoisseur you might say, although my experiences would beat the pants off most of the fiction. Just sayin’: not braggin’.
I’m rambling again, my apologies.
I’m sure you saw the snarky tweets from Clear Cut Resort LLC? The ones where they bitched and whined in 140 characters about the fabulous luxury vacation homes and world-class golf course they wanted to build, but were denied? Or maybe you viewed their lovely Facebook page, with the glossy retouched digital pictures and the CGI video of happy families bathing in the hot spring, frolicking in the natural pool and riding horses through the manicured forest.
I told their Armani wearing lawyers to shove it on more than one occasion. That is our land the fuckers wanted, and they will never get it.
The following is an excerpt of an audio recording by the late Gale Johnson.
Is this thing on? Damn technology. Used to just push a button.
I got it. Chill, dude.
Well, if you’re hearing this, I’m dead. Nothing like my beyond-the-grave voice in stereo, is there? My lawyer, don’t start, insists that I express my wishes verbally, due to the salacious contents I intend to have published.
So here goes.
Like I said, I’m not worried about Olympus Hollow.
I left the land in good hands, very good hands.
What do you mean you want a will and last testament?
Fine! You’re all a bunch of blood-sucking parasites.
Being of sound mind and body, I hereby bequeath all my knowledge and worldly goods to my anointed successor as per the agreement with the principles notated in my memoirs.
Everything you are about to read actually happened to me.
I personally vouch for the authenticity of my interactions with every named person.
All mortal persons, mentioned in the main body of work, are now deceased.
Any persons named in the epilogue, have signed affidavits allowing their likenesses to be utilized in print.
All proceeds from the sale of my memoirs, and any profits from future visual media productions, shall accrue to the Olympus Hollow Charitable Foundation, Inc.
April 1st, 1952
Happy Birthday to me! Today I turn 21 and only three weeks to graduation! My sorority sisters fooled me again and made a BIG deal out of my birthday. That’s why I’m standing at the moment. The paddles are no fun, even though I should be used to them after four years.
I made a wish, of course I did! Chance is so dreamy. He promised me a very special surprise for our date this weekend.
April 23rd, 1952
Thank God I got my monthly!
Chance is beastly! I never should have believed him. Thankfully Mother will never find out or else her hairbrush would be worn out on my hiney. Sabrina says you can’t get knocked up French kissing or heavy mouth petting but I’m glad anyway. I never knew keeping my knees together would be so difficult in the heat of the moment.
May 3rd, 1952
Guess what! Great-Aunt Abigail—my namesake I’m told, although I’ve never even heard of her—has invited me to her home! I’m very excited! NOT! An urgent family matter says my dear mother.
Mother says I’m to obey my aunt in all manners. I argued that I’m a college graduate and a grown up, but she packed my hairbrush anyway and even said that G-A.A—aka Great-Aunt Abigail—knew I needed an occasional good dose of discipline! I am so EMBARRASSED!
My beloved parent told me I’d be standing on the train ride to Washington if I didn’t zip it. Daddy only grunted and refused to take my side. He never takes my side!
May 9th, 1952
And so it comes to this. A present for my college degree, the sharp Buick Roadmaster Riviera coupe in Olympic Blue, is sitting outside in the rain back home. While I, after three separate train rides, followed by an ancient bus that trundled up into wild Injun country in far western North Carolina, have finally arrived at the thriving metropolis of Olympus Hollow, population 243.
This is my stop; the driver is calling.
“You mussa be Miss Gale.”
I glanced around in distaste. The bus stop was not a proper station with water fountains and lavatories but merely a wide spot in the road. Wild chickens and feral dogs kicked up dust, while several old white men in denim overalls and seed caps rocked in chairs on the porch of Jebediah’s General Store and spat long streams of brown juice into the dusty gravel parking area.
The speaker was a Negro and his mode of transportation a mule wagon. I was evidently on another planet. This was most defiantly not Cavalcade of Stars with Jackie Gleason. There was no sophisticated sketch comedy in these characters.
I had no congress with the Negro in Bryn Mawr—there were none—although there were plenty to be seen in Philadelphia. Unsure of how to respond, I stuck to politeness.
“Yes, I am Gale Johnson. I am here at the invitation of my Great-Aunt Abigail to spend the month. I was told she would pick me up.”
“Isa be yur ride, Miss Gale. Miss Abigail, she beein’ a touch unda da weatha.” He hopped down and placed my luggage in the back of the wagon. “Ifin ya’ have a seat, Miss, I’lla havin’ ya’ up da mountain ri’ quick.”
“You be careful now, boy, ya here?” one of the white men called out. “Dat be pree-shee-us cargo you be haulin’. Miss Abigail liken to give ya boils iffen ‘er niece ruffles ‘er purty dress. Ain’t that right, sweet thang?”
“Yes, sar, Massa Bohannon.” My driver clucked to his mule and we lurched forward.
I could feel my cheeks flame and stared stiffly ahead while the men guffawed and slapped their thighs and whistled. The harsh ammonia smell of sweat and the sharp scent of fresh dung assaulted my pampered nostrils. We were not moving fast enough to ward off the black flies and soon my hands were in near constant motion in a futile effort to remain pest free.
Then we turned off the narrow highway onto an even narrower track and it was as though we entered another land.
As far into the distance as I could see were rafts of azaleas, rhododendrons and flowering trees and shrubs of every description in a riotous explosion of reds, pinks and whites. The flies and the offensive odors vanished. A shiver ran through me as if were dunked in ice water. An electric current sizzled in the air and my hairs stood up on end.
We passed a large quartz granite marker set off to the right. I heard a loud crack as if thunder had come to the smoky blue sky.
“Did you hear that?” I yelped and clapped my hands over my ears in reflexive protection. “Is there a storm coming?”
“No, Miss Gale, it be a fine day. Isa don’ heard nothin’ but da birds and da bees iffen ya please.”
I looked at him suspiciously but since all I could hear now was the creak of the wheels and the mule’s labored breath, I let it go, and lost myself in the incredible display of vernal color. I’d been annually to the Philadelphia Flower Show as long as I could remember, but this natural extravaganza was beyond anything I had ever seen.
I noticed too, the gravel drive was smooth and the grass verge was neatly mowed. Certainly, a motor vehicle would have no problems ascending the slight grade. Which begged the question, why the mule and driver?
I snuck another peek at the Negro on my left. I felt uneasy. My social upbringing and schooling did not address this situation. I took the easy way out and decided to let Great-Aunt Abigail perform the introduction to her servant.
May 9th, 1952
The Negro’s name is Leroy. G-A.A. explained he and his family live a mile away and farm the land for produce and raise livestock for meat. They are neighbors, not sharecroppers nor employees. I sensed there was much more to the situation but I at least loosened my tongue enough to speak coherent sentences to Leroy.
I felt diminished by my reticence and got the impression Leroy was not awed with my whiteness but would tolerate my ignorance unless I proved malicious.
It was near lunchtime and G-A.A. had prepared ham, cornbread, green beans and either sweet tea or lemonade. After we finished eating she gave me a quick tour.
“This isn’t what I was expecting, Great-Aunt Abigail,” I said as I studied the modern Kenmore kitchen under the glow of electric lights.
“Well,” she admitted, “if you saw some of the folk round here, your preconceptions of dirt floor hovels, outhouses and candles would not be remiss. I do what I can to support the local crafters, like purchasing furniture and linens and labor. I’d like to do more, but these are proud people, Gale—black, white and red—and don’t take kindly to charity. This was Cherokee territory. The Scotch-Irish who eventually settled here cling to Old World traditions and Indian heritage through pure cussedness.”
According to my Great-Aunt, the dwelling was cozy: warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The house sat on a small knoll and faced southwest. The outside foundation to three feet up was constructed of weathered fieldstone held together by gravity. The remainder of the exterior to the eaves was American chestnut, harvested when the blight swept through the Eastern part of the country in the early part of the 20th century. The wide porch was laid with Longleaf Pine planks that matched the interior floors.
At her urging, I took time to wash off the travel grime with hot running water and then laid down for a short nap.
Find The Witch of Olympus Hollow and three other lusty novellas by JD Carabella, Emma Jaye and Ina Morata in Lust in Spring here at this link.