Beyond the cracked sidewalk, and the telephone pole with layers of flyers in a rainbow of colors, and the patch of dry brown grass, there stood a ten-foot high concrete block wall, caked with dozens of coats of paint. There was a small shrine at the foot of it, with burnt out candles and dead flowers and a few soggy teddy bears. One word of graffiti filled the wall, red letters on a gold background: REJOICE!
Rainbow Reynolds ruminated over the sparkling, happy word and why it was there. Only a week ago the owner of the mansion the wall protected had passed away in his sleep and left his home empty. Pepper Jack was a mystery with a funny name who moved in the margins of her world, so she didn’t understand why she had to go to his funeral with her parents. He wasn’t even blood. She’d met Pepper only once, briefly, when she was ten. As soon as they shook hands and he smiled at her, it was as if he became part of her and from that day, she felt him. It was a strangely warm and protective feeling. Eventually she got used to it and lived her life until suddenly he was gone, and she felt as though she had lost a piece of herself.
Her parents, Silas and Mae Reynolds, ran the only rooming house within miles of Greenville. She was told Pepper had financed the business and funneled money to them on a monthly basis. She asked questions about him and his interest in their family, but they usually changed the subject and told her to do her chores. Now she was twenty-five and Pepper was dead. She was old enough for real answers. The sound of a car approaching brought Rainbow back to the present.