Meet Preston's Momma and her boyfriend Ozzie.
Then he heard the voices.
“There’s no goddamned whiskey,” a man growled. “No goddamned gin. Put some clothes on and go see if that worthless shit sailor son of yours sent money.”
“He sends money.” It was Momma. “What do you do? Lie around here drunk.”
There was a slap. Momma screamed
“Yeah. You shouldn’t have quit your job with the cripple woman either.” Another slap and scream. “There’s not enough money coming from the boy.”
The spade he’d used to dig worms leaned against the back of the house. Katt dropped his bag, grabbed the shovel, and charged through the door.
A man—a six-footer, gray, long-john bottoms, dirty undershirt— gripped Momma’s upper arm, his other hand drawn back, ready to slap again. He glared over his shoulder. The guy’s ugly grimace and soulless eyes stopped Preston.
“Preston!” Momma said as if she beheld a miracle. The brute let her go. Momma wore a slip and had ratty blonde hair. She rubbed her arm, and her sallow, sunken-cheek face lit with the cunning look he’d seen so many times before. “Musta cost money for you to come home. Why didn’t you send me some? I need it. You have some left, don’t you?”
Katt gripped the shovel. He didn’t move, but his eyes did, dancing from one and quickly back to the other.
“Ozzie,” she said.
Ozzie’s face grew a smile, uglier than the grimace. He lunged forward, arms about to grab the skinny kid when Preston jabbed the shovel handle into the man’s gut. The soulless predator eyes flooded with pain and panic. Ozzie howled, clutched his belly, and fell onto the floor.
“Ozzie.” Momma bent over him.
Katt dropped the spade. It clattered on the warped wooden floor. Momma tried to get Ozzie upright. He moaned and fell back.
Katt looked back through the open door. Momma jerked at Ozzie’s arm, but he had both wrapped over his belly as he rocked with eyes shut tight.
“Get up, Ozzie. He’s getting away.”