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REYNOLDS by Donley Watt


by Donley Watt

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-87565-265-5

East Texas novel built on the Cain-and-Abel story.

Ray Reynolds lost his bank job and just missed jail when a grand jury found that his best buddy’s loans and real-estate appraisals were shot full of more holes than a SLOW sign on a country road. His wife Sheila dumped him, picked up their twins, Larry and Garry, and set off for her well-to-do daddy’s ranch in West Texas, while Reynolds took what cash was left and bought a liquor store in East Texas. Now, life drifts by on Clear Creek Lake and, in his mid-40s, Reynolds gets half past mellow on bourbon and dances alone after closing hour. His latest live-in woman is Joy, a waitress at the Next to Nowhere Cafe, half his age and hot to leave his trailer out back of the store—and his bottomless supply of booze. Reynolds’s far-right brother Perry, an ex-Marine, former football star, and flake, teaches history at Cottonwood High School and has been warned to desist from feeding his students his kooky antigovernment line. Perry is deep into the sale of black-market automatic weapons to nuts who are preparing for the inevitable overthrow of the US government, and he sells the guns by dark of night right off Reynolds’s boat ramp. In their family, Perry is the beloved son, Reynolds the outcast, while their dad, Ray Senior, a retired Ford pickup dealer (his yellow-gray hair is “the color of foam that floats to the top when you boil a chicken”), leaves their daft mother Edwina to thump her Bible while he tries to invent a perpetual motion machine. Edwina’s death from exposure after she snaps her hip (Reynolds is too drunk to hear her cries) draws the brothers into a showdown at Perry’s safehouse of ammo and weapons.

Wry details and witty, dead-on dialogue charged with biblical echoes give Watt (Haley, Texas 1959, 1999, etc.) real class.