Strummin The Banjo Moon [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Joyce Keller Walsh
eBook Category: Humor/Romance
eBook Description: Nineteen year-old Juanna Mae DelRio Lottery was abandoned by her husband and foreclosed out of her house in South Jersey. Left without any resources except for an old Buick, $264, and her own grit, she and Dell--her five-year-old daughter--moved their belongings into the car and drove to a secluded spot deep in the pinewoods. Juanna planned to stay there until she saved enough travel money to go home to her mother in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. But she made a mistake by applying for food stamps and now they have to leave right away because the Social Service is about to swoop down and take Dell into foster care . . . and if Juanna hadn't lied about her age, they might even take her, too. She should have known better, for as her mother always says, "The road to hell is paved with government intentions." Like Huckleberry Finn's adventures on the river, Juanna's adventures on the road thrust her into a world of oddball characters and precarious situations. Her humorous, moving, and sometimes tragic journey spans thirty years and two continents, and often tests her belief that everything that happens has a purpose and a moral. Ultimately, Juanna not only survives her misfortunes, she conquers them.
eBook Publisher: Solstice Publishing/Solstice Publishing, Published: 2012
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2012
Thursday, June 25th
My daughter and I are living in our car in the pine barrens of South Jersey. We've been here for almost three months, but now we're hiding from the government. My plan was to wait until I saved five hundred dollars by the end of summer and then drive home to Louisiana. But Miss Pendleton is suspicious so we're leaving tomorrow.
Miss Pendleton seemed friendly at first. When we sat in her office, she pointed to two stacks of files on either side of her desk and said, "I'm here to help you, dear. That's my job."
I guess I wanted to believe it. She looked like the mom in The Brady Bunch, but older, with short brown hair. Passion-pink lipstick and nails to match. Bad breath, though.
"So let's begin with your full name." She turned the sheets of her yellow-lined pad to a blank page and picked up her pink ballpoint pen.
"Juanna Mae DelRio Lottery," I said and spelled it out. She wrote it down and I added, "Lottery is my husband's name. Calvin Lottery."
Miss Pendleton wrote that down, too, and glanced at the form I filled out for her secretary. "And Calvin has left, I see. Do you know where he is?"
"He hasn't contacted you or your daughter in almost six months..." she looked at the form, "...since January?"
"No, ma'am. I mean yes, he hasn't."
And that's how we got here. After Cal took off on us, our house was foreclosed on, and Dell and I were evicted. On April 1st we moved into our 1963 Buick Electra and drove straight into the woods, but two weeks ago I made a big mistake. I should never have gone to the Welfare Office to ask about food stamps because that's when they made out a folder on us. That means we came to their attention.
"And what is your daughter's name?"
"Dell Mae Lottery."
"That's a pretty name. How old are you, Dell?"
Dell lowered her head in silence, so I answered, "Four and three-quarters. She'll be five on August 15th."
What Miss Pendleton wrote on her pad was more than just Dell's age, but I couldn't read it upside down. I thought we'd be home by September so I never enrolled her in school. As soon as I said Dell's age, I knew the Social Service would be on us like a hound on hare.
"We'll plan to send her to River Regional for the fall term," she said. "Are you looking forward to that, Dell?"
When Dell didn't answer, Miss Pendleton turned to me with her eyebrows raised.
"She's just a little shy," I explained.
Which she isn't. She's wary of strangers, and she has a way of making her brown eyes wide and innocent behind her glasses while she sashays her vanilla hair. She lisps a little, which for some reason makes people pat her on the head, but I tell her she can't get by on looks and lisps forever.
"I was a little shy at your age, too, Dell," Miss Pendleton said. "But I really liked school once I got there. It's fun to learn new things. Tell me, Dell, do you know your numbers?"
"And your alphabet?"
Dell nodded again.
Then she asked Dell if she ate all her meals and if she was happy and if she felt safe.
Dell kept nodding, but I felt a chill creep up my neck like a spider.
"You wrote on the form here, Juanna, that your house was foreclosed. How did that happen?"
I started twisting my hair. "It wasn't actually my house, it was my husband's mother's house. After she died, it turned out they never had a clear title and never paid taxes, so the bank took it."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Where are you and Dell staying now?"
"With my husband's aunt in Freehold."