In the Rural Ozark Town of Willow River in Southwest, Missouri, an anonymously written letter is received at the local Baptist church. The letter accuses the Church Pianist, widow Scarlet O’Malley, of having inappropriate relations with a married man, a member and Deacon of the church. Scarlet’s humiliation is played out before the entire church congregation as the gossip mongers sit on the edge of their seats eagerly awaiting the revelation of who Scarlet’s lover might be. With a surprise ending no reader will see coming Scarlet’s Letter transforms Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, written in 1850, into a captivating, mid-century adaptation.

From the Prologue

She had just about enough of one Miss Scarlet O’Malley. Just who in the world does Scarlet think she is anyway; God’s gift to mankind? Emphasis on man! The way men act around her at church, you’d think she’s a movie star or something. Men drool whenever she’s around—the rest of us hardly get noticed at all. Everyone compliments her piano playing, which (in my opinion) isn’t so great. Men are constantly going over to her house to help her ‘fix things she needs fixin’, her being a widow an all. So help me, if I see my old man eyeballing the wench one more time I’m gonna throw up. Sorry Lord, I know I ain’t supposed to hate, but this woman is just too much.

She thought long and hard about taking care of Miss Scarlet. Being a church-going, God-fearing Christian woman she even prayed about it then decided it wasn’t right to involve God in what she wanted to do. She made a mental note that at some point she would need to ask forgiveness; God’s forgiveness that is, not Scarlet’s.

An idea came to her at one of the mid-week, Wednesday night, church services. She couldn’t help but notice one of the Deacons following Scarlet around, like a love sick puppy. Bad enough he was making a fool of himself, but she was doing absolutely nothing to back him off. She actually seemed to favor his attention. Such tomfoolery it would appear, was the straw breaking her jealous back; so she decided to take action.

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or deceased, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Michael Brockett is a retired healthcare executive and former bi-vocational music minister. He and his wife Linda now reside in Joplin, Missouri. They have two grown children and six grandchildren.

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Thank you - Michael Brockett


Review Comments

I am usually good at deciphering endings, but this one took me by surprise. You developed each character with interwoven scenes that took surprising turns. I enjoyed the story!!          - Cathy, Tulsa, OK

 I was going to read this during my spare time over a period of a few weeks, but once I started I couldn't put it down. Wow!  - Rachelle, Cleveland, OK

The ending took me by total surprise. A great read!  - Tim, Tulsa, OK

I like the idea of the short story. I got to experience the entire entertainment package in just under an hour. Loved the story and it's ending was jaw dropping. Hope to read more from this guy.   - Steve, Baltimore Maryland

Being raised in the Baptist Church, I totally connected with this story. Hated the realism, but fully enjoyed reading it. The ending was something I never saw coming.   - Katie, Scottsdale, AR


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