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Jerome Mark Antil
Date Published: May 7, 2019
Set within the rich and storied culture of Louisiana, this tale of self-discovery explores important questions about the meaning of love, friendship, family and more.
“Mamma’s Moon” has received early praise for its layered storytelling with BlueInk Reviews calling Antil’s newest work “a lovely story about the strong bonds of friendship that often supplant family ties.”
“Peck, can I ask you something personal? You don’t have to answer if it makes you uncomfortable.”
“Ax,” Peck said.
“I was thinking about Millie—you know, her wanting to meet your mamma. What can you tell me about your youth, son? We never talk about it. How far back do you remember?”
Peck placed his fork in the bowl and sat back.
“If it’s uncomfortable, we’ll drop it,” Gabe said.
“I grow’d at Bayou Chene—there and Petit Anse Bayou, ‘tween Bayou Sorrel and Choctaw. Foster nanna is all I remember. There was gator man. Gator man belt-strapped me good if I dropped the bait shrimp buckets. I had to scoop shrimp and carry the buckets until his pirogue was full. He’d sell bait to tourists at the fishing docks.”
“How old were you?”
“I couldn’t swim is what I remember.”
“Did he pay you?”
“Nah, nah…he’d dog collar me around my neck and chain me under porch back of his house. I worked, is all.”
Gabe sat silently.
“My foster nanna would tell me gator man was lar’ning me and to see I mind him good. He’d tow me for gator bait. When the moon come out, I’d look up near all night pretending the moon was my mother looking down and I’d talk to her and promise her I was a good boy and no trouble, and I’d be quiet and behave if she ever come back. I talked to the moon.”
“She heard you, son. Your mother heard every word, I’m certain of it.”
“What do I tell Millie? Peck is scared she will run away when she knows I don’t know my own mamma.”
“Millie may still hug her baby doll, but she’s a stronger woman than you think, son. Spoon some etoufee and let me think a minute. I need to think.”
The lobby of the hotel and both party rooms to its left were empty. The front desk was an ornate wooden antique table—a man sitting behind, chin in hand, dozing off. Someone was at the piano in the bar among the laughter and an occasional cheer of a celebrated moment.
“Peck, you owe it to your Millie,” Gabe said. “Tell her the truth.”
“Hanh?” Peck grunted.
“The problem is, this took place long ago in your life. It’s impos¬sible for you to remember the real truth—the whole story.”
“What you sayin’, Gabe?”
“I’m saying you have to go back to that Bayou Chene—or wher¬ever—and find out for yourself. When you know the truth, that’s when you can tell Millie the story. She’s strong. She’d never be afraid of the truth coming from you. That woman loves you so much, but it’s up to you to learn the truth—if not for her, for your children.”
“I love her too, frien’, just as you say—so much.”
“It’s settled. You’ll go search it out, my brother.”
“I’ll go, I surely will—in the morning,” Peck said.
“You’re a strong man, son. Look them straight in the eye—don’t let anybody frighten or intimidate you.”
“I’m not scared no more.”
“You have some weeks before night school starts,” Gabe said. “Take any time you need to get the answers.”
JEROME MARK ANTIL writes in several genres. He has been called a “greatest generation’s Mark Twain,” a “write what you know Ernest Hemingway,” and “a sensitive Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.”
It’s been said his work reads like a Norman Rockwell painting. Among his writing accomplishments, several titles in his The Pompey Hollow Book Club historical fiction series about growing up in the shadows of WWII have been honored.
An ‘Authors and Writers’ Book of the Year Award and ‘Writer of the Year’ at Syracuse University for The Pompey Hollow Book Club novel; Hemingway, Three Angels, and Me, won SILVER in the UK as second-best novel.