The Penance of Scoot McCutcheon by Frank Bill – selection #22 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♦3♦ Three of Diamonds

The Suit: For 2016, Diamonds is my suit for “Contemporary Writers with an Indiana Connection”

The Selection: “The Penance of Scoot McCutcheon” from the 2011 short story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana.

The Author: Frank Bill. I don’t see much recent activity on his blog, but he’s active on Twitter if you would like to follow him there at @HouseofGrit

 

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storylegacy project seal of approval 2roster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is now also officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

 

The Penance of Scoot McCutcheon

“After all these damn years of running, you gotta trot in here and turn yourself in.” Mac looked Scoot dead in his eyes and told him, “Guilt’s a heavy package for a man to carry. It’s wrapped by all the wrongs a man’ll do, which are really lessons he learns by living life so he don’t do them no more.”

This was a good story. Like the other stories by Frank Bill I’ve blogged about (This Bitter Pill, A Coon Hunter’s Noir, and Amphetamine Twitch), it’s gritty, visceral, and… somewhat disturbing. Out title character, Scoot McCutcheon, doesn’t go by that name any more.  He’s been a fugitive from the law for years.  He’s now just “Deets” but, in a flashback, we learn of his crime, perpetrated in the small town of Corydon (once the Indiana State Capital).  He walked in on another man and his wife. I won’t spoil the story by revealing the extenuating circumstances of that encounter, but will say they enable the reader to sympathize with Deets.

He’s spent the past five years wandering from town to town, down “as far south as Greenville, Alabama,” and west to Missouri. Part of his routine when visiting a town would be to check the post office, and pull wanted posters of “a man who haunted him.” (himself, of course)  These were evidence of “an identity that wouldn’t let him forget. That wouldn’t let him start over.”  As you can see by the opening quotation, Scoot does eventually turn himself in, because, as Mac (a sheriff) tells him, guilt really is a heavy load to bear.

The story is available as part of the author’s collection “Crimes in Southern Indiana” which, as noted above, has made several appearances in my annual Deal Me In challenges, and I doubt that I’m done with it yet.  It’s available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004YD6GM0/

What about you?  Can you think of any favorite literature you’ve read where guilt plays a major role? Did YOU know that Indianapolis wasn’t always the capital of Indiana?🙂

Above pic from my Kindle App reader; Author pic in header photo from Writers Digest

3 Comments

  1. Dale said,

    July 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Yes, I did know that Corydon used to be the state capital of Indiana. I’ve been there once and it was kind of cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      July 7, 2016 at 7:04 am

      I knew it was our first state capital, but don’t think I’ve ever been there. Will have to make it a “one tank trip” destination soon.🙂
      PS just realized I misspelled capital in my post. Off to fix it now.🙂

      Like

      • Dale said,

        July 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm

        It is a good “one tank trip” and a one day trip. I think we stopped there on the way to somewhere else.

        Like


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