TD sat in a sound booth at the recording studio in Clarkston with walls treated with what looked like egg cartons. He snapped his fingers in front of the long silver microphone with the word Neumann on it. The sound in the room was deader than a doornail. And that microphone looked like it cost more than his tow truck.
In front of him sat a clear acrylic stand holding ad copy and he read it through silently. Butch Williams had car dealerships in three states and ran spots on stations in all of those markets. They were looking for an “authentic” voice that stood out. This was TD’s chance.
A bearded man in the control room pushed a talkback button and spoke into TD’s headphones. “It’s Titus, right?”
“I go by TD.”
“All right, TD. Whenever you’re ready. I’m rolling.”
TD rubbed his hands on his jeans. His tongue felt thick, his mouth full of cotton. The door opened in the control room and someone stepped in and stood in the dark corner.
“If you’re looking for a deal on a new or used car, come see Butch. We’ve got dependable, affordable used cars that won’t break your budget. And Butch has a full line of ’82 . . .”
TD stopped. He tried to lick his lips.
“And Butch has a full line of the new ’82 models red—ready . . .”
He looked up and saw the engineer’s disembodied face through the glass. “You think I could get a drink of water? My mouth’s kindly dry.”
“Sure. No problem. Fountain’s down the hall.”
“A’ight. I’ll be right back.”
TD removed the headphones and stepped into the hall. He spotted the fountain but stopped at the control room door because he heard laughter. He listened, unable to move, as the voices leaked through.
“Where’d you get this guy? Sounds like he just walked off the set of Hee Haw.”
“They said they wanted authentic.”
“Hand that guy a banjo and he could make it on Deliverance.”
“Stop it. You’re awful.”
The bearded one tried to hold back, but they both laughed and TD walked to the fountain and stared at it. Then he walked through the office area and out the front door and drove back to Emmaus, a burning sensation inside.
TD saw Pidge’s truck in the parking lot of the Pizza Barn and he gave a deep sigh. He’d finally gotten her to say yes to dinner and when he parked and hurried inside, he found her and Clay sitting at a booth in the dark restaurant. A line of people stood in the back moving with bovine speed toward the all-you-can-eat buffet.
“How’d the audition go?” Pidge said as he sat.
TD smoothed a hand over the red- and white-checked table. “I don’t think I’m what they’re looking for.”
“Why not?” Pidge said.
“Just a feeling.”
Clay studied the menu and the waitress came and brought large glasses of ice water. “You all ready, or you want a few minutes?”
“We’re ready,” Pidge said. “Clay will have the pizza sandwich, pepperoni. I’ll take the salad and spaghetti.”
“And for you, sir?”
“I’ll try the sandwich. Same as Clay.” TD handed her his menu. “One check. Bring it to me.”
“I’ll get this started,” she said, disappearing into the kitchen.
Clay looked at his hands.
“Waite says you’re making a lot of progress at the station,” TD said.
“He don’t want to be on the air,” Pidge said.
Clay motioned toward the arcade in the back of the restaurant and Pidge handed him a dollar. He scurried off into the dark.
“He likes playing Skee-Ball,” she said.
TD leaned forward and tried to be heard over the jukebox playing Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight.”
“Thanks for coming, Pidge.”
“You don’t have to pay for us.”
“I want to. I feel bad about . . .”
“Slamming the door the last time you came around?”
“You ought to feel bad. You scared Flap half to death.”
He saw a hint of a smile. “I was upset. Mad that I’d messed things up again. And I didn’t know what I did wrong.”
The waitress brought Pidge’s salad and TD leaned back. She picked cherry tomatoes off one by one and put them on a napkin. “You want my tomatoes?”
He thought about asking if she was speaking in code. Waite would think that was funny, but he didn’t want to offend her. When he hesitated, she shook her head and dug into the salad. He reached over and pulled the napkin toward him and ate a tomato.
“I wish I hadn’t slammed the door. Sometimes I feel like I got all this stuff bubbling inside, and it leaks out.”
“What’s inside always leaks out eventually, don’t it?”
“I reckon so.”
“Tell me about the audition. You were excited about it.”
TD stared at the table.
“Something must have happened. Have they already picked somebody?”
TD set his jaw. “They laughed at me.”
She put her fork on the table. “What do you mean?”
He told her what he’d heard through the closed door. He thought he saw something glisten in Pidge’s eyes in the dimly lit room.
She picked up her fork. “They’ll regret it.”
“When you go off and become famous, they’ll wish they’d said yes.”
He stared at the top of her head and kept quiet until she looked up. Phil Collins banged on his drums as TD looked into those blue pools. She didn’t smile often, but when she did, her dimples showed, little crinkles around her mouth, and the closest he could come to a comparison was a cute cartoon character he’d seen on TV as a kid. He loved that face.
“What?” she said.
Her eyebrows. He’d never studied that striking part of her face, how her eyebrows set off the milky-white skin above. It was like looking at an art gallery painting. Not that he’d ever been to a gallery, but he’d imagined that you walked in and found a painting that grabbed you and stood there and thought about what had gone through the painter’s mind as the brush touched the canvas. And the more you looked, the deeper you went into the painter’s soul.
TD thought all of that while he noticed the painting in front of him had changed. Her eyebrows were in a position below wrinkles and there was an edge to her voice when she spoke.
“I’m not letting you pay for this. I don’t want to be beholden.”
“I asked you to come—and you said yes, so I’m paying.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Pidge, what’s wrong? What did I say?”
“I don’t want to feel obligated.”
“Obligated?” TD pushed the napkin back toward her. “You mean you don’t want to date me?”
She looked up, her eyes hard as marble. “It’s not personal. Why is everything personal to you?”
“How could it not be personal?”
The waitress came with the food. Pidge got up and walked to the arcade.
“No matter what she says, you give me the check, understand?”
Pidge returned with Clay, who had won a Pizza Barn key chain. They ate their food without speaking. The noise of the jukebox drowned out the conversations around them. TD kept looking at Pidge, hoping she’d see that he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. Then he heard the strains of Mack Strum, the familiar fingerpick of the six string and the plaintive voice singing “A Piece of the Moon.”
Pidge twirled her spaghetti and wiped her mouth with a napkin. There was something about the song that seemed to capture her, and she stared out the window until it finished.
When Pidge excused herself and went to the restroom, TD signaled the waitress and she brought the bill and he handed her cash. Clay studied him silently.
TD handed him two dollars. “You can go back to the arcade if you want.”
Clay disappeared into the dark and Pidge returned, fishing in her purse and looking for the waitress.
“The bill’s paid. The manager picked up the check.”
“He did not.”
“Yeah, he said it was on account of your beauty.”
She cocked her head. “I told you I pay my own way.”
“Come on, Pidge.”
She shook her head and got up from the table.
TD stopped her. “Let me bring him home. You go on. He’s having fun.”
Pidge slung her purse over her shoulder and her face seemed to soften. “All right.” She turned to leave but stopped and looked him in the face. “I’m sorry they laughed at you.”
TD came to a stop at the end of Pidge’s driveway. Clay got out and went in the house without a word. TD sat there, wondering if he should just leave or knock on the door. He wanted to talk with her again. He saw a light on in the office and got out, cutting off his engine.
The office door opened and light spilled out and there she was, a silhouette. Flap walked along the desk behind her, pecking at seeds.
“Thanks for bringing him home,” Pidge said.
“Glad to do it. Glad to have company at supper, too.”
“How’s that pastor friend of yours?”
“Robby? From what I hear, he’s getting better. Looks like it’s going to be a long road.”
“I’ll bet his wife was grateful to you.”
“She was. It’s going to be a long road for her, too.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “Driving back after we found him, I had the thought that if Waite and I could figure out where Robby went, maybe we could figure out where old Gideon hid his treasure.”
“I thought you didn’t believe there was one.”
“Yeah, but what if there is? It would pay Robby’s hospital bill and then some.”
“If you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want, TD.”
“You think so?”
Pidge nodded and closed the door behind her and leaned against it.
“Then why can’t I get through to you? I’ve been putting my mind to it. And I don’t feel any closer today than I’ve ever been.”
“I went to the Pizza Barn with you, didn’t I?”
TD studied her in the darkness. Pidge was like a question on Jeopardy! you knew from the moment Art Fleming opened his mouth, but you came up empty after saying, “What is . . . ?”
“Thank you for saying what you did about those guys laughing. It helped.”
He heard something and turned toward the trailer and saw a window curtain flutter. Pidge must have heard it too, a muffled chuckle, like somebody had banged their funny bone on a table edge. She took a few steps away from the office door.
“Clayton, it’s a sin to poke your nose into other people’s business.” Her voice ran to the river and echoed off the hills.
She walked past TD without looking back, as if she knew he would follow her like an old dog. Truth was, he’d follow her to hell and hitchhike back if she wanted. But maybe she wanted to go alone. Or she wanted something else.
The red light of the station blinked above them, and over that were clouds that looked like they were on their way to somewhere else but for the moment had decided to watch their conversation. Their edges rimmed with shimmery moonlight.
Pidge stopped and turned to him. “I don’t think we’d be good for each other, TD. Both of us are towing a load of hurt bigger than we can pull. And we’re both going uphill.”
“Maybe we could pull it together. Or I’ll get out and push.”
“I’ve thought a lot about it. I do care about you. And I know you care about me.”
“Then what’s holding you back? Are you waiting on somebody taller or shorter? Somebody with more muscles or less dirt under his fingernails?”
“It’s not any of that. I don’t want to make another mistake. And I don’t want to be a mistake you’ll regret.”
“Pidge, you would—”
“Stop for a minute and listen. I swear, you radio people like to run your mouth.”
“All right. I’m listening.”
“It won’t work. You’re running from something you’ll never get away from. And it’s not my place to help you figure it out. I got enough to figure out on my own.”
“Are you talking about God now? You sound like Waite.”
She lifted her hands like she was surrendering to somebody and took a step back.
“Pidge, I just want to see you be happy.”
That sent her over the edge. She tilted her head back like it was the last thing she wanted to hear. “Is that what you want me to believe? That you want me to be happy?”
“I don’t want you to believe anything you don’t want to believe, but I’m telling the truth. I want to make you happy. And I don’t want to see you alone.”
“TD, you can’t make me happy. Don’t you understand?”
Her words stung, but he shook it off like a charging bull will ignore a bee sting. “And how do you know if you don’t let me try?”
Pidge ran a hand through her hair and TD thought he’d like to be that hand. He wanted to move toward her, reach out and touch her shoulder, rub her back, just make contact. Grab her in his arms and kiss her. But he didn’t.
“It’s not your job to make me happy. I got to be happy with my own life before I let somebody else back in.”
“I could help. I could be part of the process.”
“If I have to have you or anybody else in order to be happy, I’ll never be happy. And if you have to have me, you’ll never be happy. Love don’t work that way.”
“How does it work? Tell me.”
“I can’t do this, TD.” She turned toward the door.
“You don’t choose who you love, Pidge. It just happens.”
She stopped. The moon peeked out from behind a cloud for a moment and he saw her profile as she turned and his heart melted. He was on a sandbar in the river of her heart now with no way to get to the shore except stepping into the water. And he had no idea how deep it was or where the current was running.
“What would it take, Pidge?”
“What do you mean?”
“What would it take for you to give me a chance at your heart?”
He let the words float there between them and made a promise that he wouldn’t say another thing until she spoke. He’d let what he said be the last thing he said to her in his life until she answered.
Pidge looked at the sky as if she were making an inventory of the stars. Finally she spoke.
“How about you bring me a piece of the moon?”
He remembered the song from the jukebox and all the times he’d heard it. He stared at her in the soft light, the crickets and frogs in symphony. Lightning bugs rose like a conductor’s baton around them and the world felt alive. He didn’t understand all she meant by the words, but they were enough to give him hope.
“A’ight, Pidge. I’ll figure it out. I’ll get you a piece of the moon.”
An inspiring southern fiction story from the bestselling author of War Room
When eccentric millionaire Gideon Quidley receives a divine revelation to hide his earthly treasure somewhere in the hills, he sets out to find a fitting hiding spot, choosing only a few Bible verses as clues leading to untold riches of gold, silver, cash . . . and one very unexpected–and very costly–item.
Treasure hunters descend upon the hills of West Virginia, including those surrounding the small town of Emmaus, where TD Lovett and Waite Evers provide the latest updates and the beating heart of the community on radio station Country 16. Neither man is much interested in a wild-goose chase for Quidley’s treasure, though. Waite is busy keeping the station afloat and caring for the bruised souls who have landed there. Meanwhile, TD’s more intent on winning over local junkyard owner Pidge Bledsoe, who has taken in a shy, wounded boy to raise.
But after an estranged friend goes missing searching for the treasure, TD is unexpectedly drawn into the hunt. As TD joins the race to find Quidley’s wealth, he discovers where his own real treasure lies, and he begins to suspect there’s a hidden piece to Gideon Quidley’s treasure that no one could’ve expected.
About Chris Fabry
Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.
Chris’ novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, Not in the Heart, Borders of the Heart, Every Waking Moment, The Promise of Jesse Woods, Looking into You, and Under a Cloudless Sky, have won five Christy Awards, an ECPA Christian Book Award, and two Christianity Today Book Awards of Merit, but it’s his lyrical prose and tales of redemption that keep readers returning for more.
Chris has also published more than 70 other books, ranging from nonfiction and film novelizations, including the Kendrick brothers’ War Room and Overcomer, to novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and The Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR.