According to the paper, Parker of The Parker and Brinks Circus, had murdered Brinks and ran off with his wife, and what little money the circus had taken in the night before. Immediately upon readying the story Guyla jumped from the kitchen table and ran over to Collin’s house. She pounded on the door until he answered.
“Get the car keys,” she said. “The Lord has provided us with a tent.”
“What?” Collin said, but Guyla was already off the porch and getting into the car.
Driving east, Collin had argued that they only had thirty-seven dollar to their names, not nearly enough to buy any circus tent that would be in usable condition. Guyla just said, “Trust in The Lord.”
As they topped a hill Collin saw the tent waiting for them in the valley and said, “Good God, that’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.”
This was usually where Guyla would rebuke him for taking The Lord’s name in vain, but she had been struck speechless by the magnificence she beheld. She thought it a glorious and wonderful thing, bright red against the deep green of the mountains and the slate grey sky, with gold tassels hanging from the sweeping cornices. It was sixty feet long and thirty feet wide, with two main poles that, to Guyla, gave it an oriental look.
“It’ll draw a crowd. The good Lord will do the rest,” Guyla assured him.
All they found at the tent were a few stranded circus people, a broken down flatbed truck and a county sheriff.
“Another circus came and took all the animals and what performers they thought they could use,” the sheriff told her. “The truck wouldn’t start so they just left it and the tent.”
“Who do I talk to about getting it?” Guyla said.
“It don’t rightly belong to nobody as far as I can tell. There is a fine involved for pitching a tent without a permit.”
“And how much would that be?” she said and watched as the sheriff stoked his chin. She knew he was sizing her up to see how much he could get out of her.
“A hundred dollars,” he said.
“All right, I’ll pay it,” Guyla said, and hoped Collin’s face wouldn’t give her away.
“Well then,” the sheriff said, suddenly all smiles. “If you just give me the money you can be on your way.”
“Shouldn’t we go to the county seat?”
“No, that won't be necessary. Wouldn’t want to put you to all that trouble.” He looked over her shoulder and smiled at Collin. “Maybe I should be dealing with your man. It’s been my experience that women, well, they just don’t understand these things.”
“I understand things perfectly,” Guyla said. “There is no permit fee. You are trying to make a hundred dollars that you don’t have coming to you. But I am a preacher of the gospel of God almighty, and this tent will be used in the service of The Lord. I will give you ten dollars or I will go to the county seat and we can talk it over with the local magistrate.”
“Twenty dollars,” the sheriff said. “Since it’s being used in the service of The Lord.”
“Young man, have you been saved?”
The sheriff grew sheepish at the question. “Well, I go to church sometimes, if that’s what you mean.”
“That is most certainly not what I mean. I mean have you turned from darkness and embraced the glorious light of Jesus, who died on the cross that you might be saved.”
“Well, no, I reckon not.”
“Would you like to come to Jesus right now?”
The sheriff looked to Collin as though pleading for help. Collin had seen that look many times before.
The stranded performers gathered around. Collin figured they were curious as to what would become of them. Guyla realized she now had a congregation, so she began to preach. “Whosoever cometh unto the Lord shall be saved,” she shouted and took off on what Collin had come to think of as her ‘come to Jesus,’ sermon.
When it was over all three of the circus people and the sheriff were saved and Guyla got the tent and the truck for nothing. The circus people came along because they had no place to go.
There was ‘Mike the Mighty Midget,’ who, at just under five foot, was by no means a midget. He bragged that he could lift more weight than any man over six foot. “Part of my act was to invite two big men down from the audience, put them both on a board, and lift the board up over my head,” he said, in an accent that Collin didn’t recognize.
“Is that accent real?” Guyla said.
“No ma’am. I’m from Brooklyn. Guess it got to be a habit.”
“They’ll be no fakery in my group.”
“I’m ‘Two Ton Tonia,’” the women said. She was tall and heavy set but to Collin she didn’t seem to be overly fat. “They used to stuff my clothes and put cotton in my mouth to make me look fatter than I am. My real name is Margret”
“And you?” she said to the other man.
“I’m the lion tamer. My name is Tony and the accent is real,” he said. “I’m Italian.” Tony was tall and slime, with a thin mustache and dark hair slicked back with hair tonic.
"You don't look very happy," Guyla said.
"The other circus went off with his Lion," Mighty Mike said, reverting to his Brooklyn accent. "They'd been together for a long time."
"I am sorry to hear that," Guyla said. “Well here’s the deal. “You can come and work for me in my ministry or we can drop you off at the nearest train station. I’ll give you each five dollars either way. If you come work with me I can’t guarantee you anything as far as pay. We ain’t never gone hungry yet but that don’t mean we never will. But I have faith that The Lord will provide for those who do his work."
In the end they all agreed to work for Guyla. Collin was able to get the truck going and The Mighty Midget drove the truck through the gap and into Lacern. Collin followed in the model T. He'd gotten the hang of driving backwards up steep grades, so the journey was now a lot less stressful.
Boone returns to Blue Mountain after twenty year of self-exile his mind and body have been shattered by The Great War, the war to end all wars. Once home, he gets embroiled in the struggles of the miners and the live-long hatred of a corrupt sheriff.
Abraham Branson is a young man caught between heaven and hell, between the bottle and his eternal soul. When the woman he loves marries another, it throws him into a tailspin that threatens to destroy him.
Deputy Franklin Parks, just twenty years old, must deal with angry miners, a deranged security guard, and the brutal murder of the mine owners beautiful wife.