The Law of Moses
Author:Amy Harmon

My mom swatted my butt and gave in with a laugh. But truthfully, Mom was wise to warn me away. She was right. I was absolutely fascinated by him, and I didn’t see the fascination dying anytime soon.


And so Dad and I were off, knocking on Kathleen Wright’s back door a little after sundown. Moses was at the kitchen table eating the biggest bowl of Cornflakes I’d ever seen, and his grandmother sat across from him, peeling an apple in one long, curling red ribbon. I wondered suddenly how many apples she’d practiced on in her eighty years to hone the skill.


“I won’t ever paint on your property again,” Moses said sincerely after my dad gently told him that painting on our property without permission wasn’t acceptable. Kathleen seemed a little upset until my dad reassured her that the painting was beautiful and he didn’t want Moses to cover it up. She relaxed after that, and I seemed to be the only one who noticed that Moses hadn’t promised not to paint on someone else’s property ever again. Just ours.


“You captured a good likeness of my father,” my dad added, almost as an afterthought. “He would have liked your painting.”


“I was trying to draw you,” Moses said, his eyes not quite meeting my dad’s. For some reason I was sure he was lying, but didn’t know why he would. It made a whole lot more sense that he had used my dad as an inspiration. He certainly hadn’t known my grandpa.


“Actually, Moses,” I inserted myself into the conversation, “I wondered if you could paint a mural on my bedroom wall. I’d pay you. Probably not as much as you’re worth, but it’s something.”


He looked at me and looked away. “I don’t know if I can.”


His grandma, my dad and I stared at him, dumbfounded. Proof that he definitely could was plastered all over the side of our barn.


“I have to . . . to . . . be . . . inspired,” he finished weakly, throwing up his hands, almost as if he were trying to push me away. “I can’t just paint anything. It doesn’t work that way.”


“Moses would love to, Georgia,” Kathleen interrupted firmly and leveled a warning gaze at her great-grandson. “He’ll come by tomorrow afternoon to see what you want done.”


He pushed his empty bowl away and stood up abruptly. “I can’t do it, Grandma.” Then he addressed my dad. “No more paint on your property, I promise.” And with that, he left the room.






IT WAS TWO WEEKS BEFORE Moses and I ran into each other again, though the circumstances were even more unpleasant than the first time. The Ute Stampede in Juab County is bigger than Christmas for most of the people who live here. Three days and three nights of parades, the carnival, and, of course, the rodeo. I counted down the days each year; it was always the second weekend in July, and it was the highlight of the summer. To top it off, this year I had qualified to compete in the barrel racing. My parents said I had to wait until after high school to join the circuit, but they told me I could do all the statewide events I qualified for. I’d won Thursday night which had gotten me back into the Saturday night Championship round. I’d won that too. First night as a professional cowgirl, and I’d won it all.


Afterwards, I’d decided to hang around at the carnival to celebrate the night. But my friend Haylee who lived in Nephi, about fifteen minutes north of Levan, was with her boyfriend Terrence, who I didn’t especially like. He was always pulling mean pranks and instead of a cowboy hat, he wore one of those trucker caps perched way too high on his head.


“You wear it like that because it’s the only way you’re taller than the girls,” I told him.


“Tall girls aren’t my type,” he replied, and gave me a little shove.


“Well, then. I’ve never been more thankful that I was a tall girl.”


“You and me both,” he said.


“I couldn’t go out with you anyway, Terrence. Everyone would think you were my little brother,” I teased, tossing his stupid hat into a nearby trashcan and patting him on his sweaty head.