What if evil had a smell? It does for young Wade, who knows those who worship evil by the smell of tired old cinnamon. He uses his special sense to help the police, but his talent just might kill him.
She wasn’t no angel, but her name was Angela. Her face was always painted and her hair just so, and her nails long and red like she never worked a day. She had the only diner in town.
She acted all godly, but she wasn’t really on the good side. I think every other thing outa her mouth was about “Jesus” or “The Lord” or “God’s in charge.” But she served a different lord.
I know. I figured out her secret first time I met her, but trouble is, today she just figured out mine. I guess that’s why I’s here.
Most folks don’t know that some o’ the worst people there is act like sweet honey. They ask if you been saved. They spend half their free time at church and the other half fishin’ for souls. They have an open Bible out all the time, sometimes even at work. They hand out old clothes to the poor. They act just like the true good folks fishin' for souls to save. Oh, they’s fishin’ all right, but they ain’t savin’ no souls. They’s all sneaky-like about it. They’s makin’ folks turn evil before they know they been turned. Then when they find out they been lied to, they feel like God left ‘em so they don’t never turn back.
I know how to tell the real godly folks from the fake ones. It’s easy. I’ll tell you, but unless you’s like me, knowin’ won’t do you no good. See, the bad ones, I can smell it on ‘em. Yeah, that kind put off a smell, like tired old cinnamon. Funny thing is, it don’t smell so bad. Not 'less there's a bunch of 'em together. That’s how I hunt ‘em down, by that tired old cinnamon smell.
I remember the first time I smelled it on someone. He was the mayor. I met him at the county fair when I was maybe seven years old. Daddy acted all happy 'cause he met someone important. He puffed out his chest like a rooster and said, "Mr. Mayor, sir, this is my son, Wayde. He's a good boy." He looked like jelly covered in skin, and when he shook hands, I hadda wipe his slimy sweat off me. I wished Pa hadn't made me shake that wet hand.
I tried to be nice and ask a question, but I s'pose the mayor didn't think I was such a good boy. See, nobody else noticed what I call the devil smell but me. When I asked the mayor what man-scent he had on, he said he wasn’t wearin’ none. Daddy told me never to say nothin’ again ‘cause the mayor had bad body stink. I knew that. When she was alive, Mama told me never to talk about nobody’s body stink.
Later I asked Daddy if he smelled the cinnamon on the mayor and he got real mad. Madder than he ever been. He grabbed me hard by the shoulders and got in my face. "I don't want to hear such talk ever again, ya' hear?" I told him I wouldn't never say nothin' about it again, but he sent me to bed without supper anyway. I guess he didn't think I was such a good boy after all.
Well, one day there was this big town meetin’ at the church hall. I was with Daddy. He told me to sit quiet and stay outa the way. I was in the corner up front, near the mayor.
Three dressed-up people actin’ all important come up and talked with the mayor. They whispered a lot and thought I couldn’t hear what they was sayin’.
You can read this story in its entirety in Echoes of the Ozarks, Volume II, available at Amazon.com or wherever you buy books.