Reave, Chapter 1

The Le Frame Test

On account of the doings of the man Le Frame, which are known widely, and to a lesser extent the Reave sisters themselves, the town of Reave, Alabama is a place virtuous people avoid — except in the case of the missionaries, who keep trying to sneak in.

Three men sit chain-smoking on milk crates outside the gas station: Geezer Jim, who is in his forties; Unfortunate Mike, who has a hog snout for a nose; and Karlos the Natural, who can swim. I for once have enough money for a whole half tank of gas. I nod to them in approval and pump my gas.

UNFORTUNATE MIKE: And you trust this man?

KARLOS THE NATURAL: I’ll proper trust him when Le Frame makes up his mind. But I got some idea what he’ll say. Oh yes.

UNFORTUNATE MIKE: I don’t know. Le Frame doesn’t take kindly to them types. No sense of humor. No fun to be around.

Le Frame was an outsider himself when he came here to save Reave. Said he’d seen it in a dream. Said he was from Alaska. Some say he’s no good and a liar and that they liked Reave how it was before.

KARLOS THE NATURAL: You’ve got John Skaverity all wrong. He’s chill as they come.

UNFORTUNATE MIKE: The Le Frame Test will be the judge of that.

KARLOS THE NATURAL: Is that different from the Le Frame Criterion?

They say Le Frame knows what you’re going to say before you say it, that he sleeps upside down and that he eats dog meat for breakfast. They also say he eats bananas like watermelons and that when the moon is full he lays naked on the roof of the public library. They never go into much detail, they just say it and move on.

UNFORTUNATE MIKE: Oh jeez. How many times do I have to explain it?

GEEZER JIM: Way too many.

KARLOS THE NATURAL: Hold on, let me turn up my hearing aid. OK, I’m listening.

UNFORTUNATE MIKE: If John Skaverity is as chill as you say, he won’t bother with the residency paperwork. The council won’t be able to reject his application because there won’t be one. If actually he’s virtuous, then he will fill out the paperwork and that’s how Le Frame will know to reject him.

KARLOS THE NATURAL: How come no one ever told me about this?

UNFORTUNATE MIKE: We did tell you about this, but we told you about it in hushed tones because it’s top secret. If the missionaries figure out how Le Frame determines who’s chill and who’s virtuous, they’ll be able to sneak back in and ruin all the good times.

KARLOS THE NATURAL: Can’t be that secret if someone told you.

UNFORTUNATE MIKE: No one told me, you idiot. It was my idea.

GEEZER JIM: As I recall, it was actually my idea.

UNFORTUNATE MIKE: OK, Jim helped. But it was my idea mainly.

KARLOS THE NATURAL: Yeah, yeah. Next thing you’ll tell me Pickett’s charge was your idea.

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels


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