Mud Lake, Mississippi, is known for two things: its cotton fields that still flourish, and unseen darkness that permeates the night. Mud Lake is also the home of Tommy ‘T-bone’ Walnut. A troubled boy who found a home and adoptive family after being orphaned at ten, he grew into a man with a single wish. He wanted to be a blues singer.
He travels the Delta with his best-friend and surrogate brother, playing juke joints in hopes to be a blues star. The tragedy deals him a soul-crushing blow. And then, Tommy Walnut, a white man who has found love and friendship with a poor black family in the 1960s Deep South, is forced to face his demons. He’s forced to stand at a crossroad and decide. Is a short time of happiness and fame after a lifetime of misery worth risking it all? That fateful night, a hellish bond is made, promising Tommy fortune and the love of his life. But there remains a single price. His soul.
Name is Tommy but you can call me Tbone. When I was ten, I saw my momma killed by her pimp—strangled with his belt until her eyes went funny. Dead-like. I hid in the closet until the roaches forced me out. When I finally did leave my dark crawl space of pink high heel shoes and dirty clothes, I covered momma with a blanket; got the thirty dollars she kept in a can under the bed, and took the guitar named Ilene that my Pa left behind. I’ve been on my own ever since. Running through the bayou, sleeping in the slums, and meeting many ‘runners’ like myself along the way.
It was a kid named Davis Duke that I took a shine to at fourteen. He was five years younger but many years wiser. Some said Davis was an old soul. I can say without a doubt he was much more than that. Davis used to hide me behind his Pa’s tool shed at night and feed me the scraps from his table. He was the only kid I knew that was a wiz with dice and drank whiskey from the bottle.
Davis’ Pa was pretty well known in Mud Lake. His name is Daddy Legs and he ran a blues-joint called The Ditch. Guess the name fit. Folks had to climb down through a ravine to get to it. The Ditch was far enough off the beaten path for a runaway like me to find work. Despite my age I was tall enough and smart enough to barter small jobs that kept me front and center to the Mississippi blues scene. But that wasn’t the real reason. My love for Mud Lake was because of my love for her. Her name was Daphane. She was Davis’s twin sister.
They lived at the back of the bar. They was black folk, I’m not. In Mud Lake it would give a person pause if even a throw away orphan like me was taken in by a Negro family. But Daddy Legs never turned me away the few times he caught me lingering. So despite it all I spent the next ten years of my life as part of the Duke family. Watching the beautiful Daphane bloom into the woman that would always have my heart.
For you my story with Daphane starts where Davis’ story ends. That’s when it all went to hell… my soul included. It was the summer of 1968 in Houma, Louisiana at a small juke joint called the Pink Lady. Yes, that was the night my best friend and blood brother, Davis, died.
The first night the devil came for me.