TRIPLE SHOT OF SOUTHERN HORROR By Tonia Brown

Published January 23, 2014 by Shadow Girl

TRIPLE SHOT OF SOUTHERN HORROR is my latest read in Tonia Brown’s TRIPLE SHOT series, and… I think it may be my favorite so far.

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Devil Drink: Butch Buchanan¹, the sheriff of Black Ridge & regular Good Old Boy, takes his new officer up the mountain to introduce him to Beulah Walker*. Officer Kirk Durham is like Simon Pegg in the beginning of HOT FUZZ – a straight-laced, by the book, kind of prudish guy, who arrived from a big city job – with a stick up his butt. The new officer doesn’t take too kindly to Beulah, but he will soon find out that she is more than a mere bootlegger – the town of Black Ridge relies on her to keep the ‘quo’

Sickened: There are some strange, old customs around – ones that we don’t ever think of, or know exist. Some folks take these customs very seriously. This story is about the town’s local Sin Eater², Clem. Somethin’ he ate over at the Widow Baxter’s last night isn’t agreeing with him. In fact, it won’t stop disagreeing with him! He’s been vomiting something vile -and it won’t stop. He makes it to the hospital to see Doc Pearson, a modern doctor who doesn’t put much stock into what Clem claims to do. Nevertheless, he sees that whatever is wrong with Clem isn’t something that his modern medicine can fix. Something else needs to be done.

Home Cooked Meal³: Life after the zompocalypse is not easy. Mary Shull is living day to day, on the road and on the run. Hungry, dirty, and tired – so tired – she’s ready to pack it all in. If she was dead, well, undead, she wouldn’t have to run anymore – just shuffle. And, she wouldn’t be hungry anymore – food for zeds was easy to find. As for being dirty, two out of three ain’t bad, besides – she supposed she wouldn’t care much afterwards. Unexpected salvation comes in the form of Joshua Bender. Josh lives not far from where they are, and if she would like to come with him – he’d love to have her over for dinner.

When I read books by [author:Tonia Brown|3160763], I always switch my Kindle’s internal dictionary from ENGLISH (United States) to ENGLISH (United Kingdom). I do that with some other UK authors, mainly because I love learning the slang. (My goal – someday I’ll speak fluent UK slang, and will use it regularly). For Tonia, I have a different reason.
You know those words… you don’t hear them every day, you know what they mean, but… do you, really? Having a Kindle has made looking up words so easy. I find myself checking random words all the time, just to make sure that what I think I know is correct, and to learn other forms or uses of the word. Sometimes you know what a word probably means by the way it’s used. I look those up a lot with Tonia, too.
For TSO Southern Horror, the word was ‘tetchiness’
– “The kid’s voice was laced with tetchiness.”
TETCHY: Bad tempered; irritable

* – I feel like Beulah’s character has a touch of [book:Lucky Stiff|8515643]’s Madame Sangrail in her. Whether that’s the case or not – it gave me a warm fuzzy, and this close to Valentine’s Day, I think it’s time to go visit the Madame again, get a little ‘Peter’ in me!

¹ – For Tonia,
Thank you for the show out that you wrote for me before you met me! I got super excited and misread BUTCH as BUCK at first… My Uncle Buck (Buchanan) is a Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy.

² – From //www.wisegeek.com/
A Sin-Eater is a traditional type of spiritual healer who uses a ritual to cleanse the dying of their sins. The sin-eater absorbs the sins of the people he or she serves and typically works for a fee.
As the sins are usually consumed through food and drink, the sin-eater also gains a meal through the transaction. Sin-eaters are often outcasts, as the work may be considered unsavory and is usually thought to lead to an afterlife in hell due to carrying the unabsolved sins of others. The Roman Catholic Church regularly excommunicated sin-eaters when they were more common, not only because of the excessive sins they carried, but also because they infringed upon the territory of priests, who are supposed to administer Last Rites to the dying according to Church Doctrine.

The sin-eater saves the dying not only from hell, but also from wandering the earth as a ghost – thereby performing a service for the living as well. In some traditions, sin-eaters perform their work for the moribund, while in others, the ritual takes place at the funeral. The sin-eater is usually associated with the British Isles, but there are analogous customs in other cultures as well.

A sin-eater typically consumes bread as part of the ritual of taking on the dying person’s sins. He or she may also eat salt or drink water or ale. Sometimes, special breads are baked for the purpose of the sin-eating ritual, perhaps featuring the initials or image of the deceased. The meal is sometimes passed over the dead or dying body or placed on its breast to symbolize its absorption of the person’s sins. The sin-eater may also recite a special prayer.

Some cultures have customs that are similar to sin-eating and may have evolved from more traditional forms of the ritual. Instead of a designated, outcast sin-eater serving a village, for example, the deceased’s nearest relatives may perform the service, as was once traditional in Bavaria and the Balkan Peninsula. In the Netherlands and some parts of England, ritual baked goods were given to the attendants or pallbearers at a funeral. This latter tradition lived on for a time in New York. Today, the custom of the sin-eater has largely died out, though it is often referenced in popular culture.

– Another article describes the Sin-Eater as someone who performs the service at little or no cost, with the meal itself being payment. To me, that seems like people are taking advantage of a shitty situation – the Sin-Eater‘s probable outcast status is likely to make him/her live like a hermit, lonely, broke, and probably hungry. The widowed are then perfectly positioned to get the service performed on their terms.
Things like this are why Hansel & Gretel got eaten! If people treated the witches/healers/wise-ones with respect instead of disdain – many outcomes would be more pleasant!!

³ – Again, for Tonia,
I’ve read this story before! It seems like it was a submission for the ZF/MDC [book:Hunger Pangs: Dark Confessions|16896514] anthology. I know you said your story didn’t make it in, for whatever reason, but – I distinctly remember… Whatever you told me your submission title was, I did not have it in the batch of stories I BETA’d for JK/SG. (All titles were given to me anonymously, no author names attached. We had this conversation after the final stories were chosen by the editors.)
So – WHERE HAVE I READ THIS?

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