By Pat Brown
Welcome to backwoods Arkansas. Meet Billy Ray Hutchins. Billy Ray has never left his small town, and hardly spends any time with anyone but his dog, Big Dog. He lives at the top of a road, all alone, with Big Dog. Billy Ray is uneducated and sweeps the town streets for a living. When he comes across “Charlene” standing by the railroad tracks all alone and looking lost, he takes her home, just like a stray.
Who is Charlene? Where did she come from? Why is she here in this small backwoods town? Billy Ray doesn’t question it, he accepts Charlene as his own, and they setup house together. Charlene acts as though she has always belonged to Billy Ray, though she won’t leave the house to go anywhere. All is happy and good between them until a strange old man moves into the house across the street.
Only the Truth is written through Billy Ray’s eyes and the wording is done in Billy Ray’s dialect. There is a “home-ish” feeling to the writing. A warm and cozy nature to the dialect. Billy Ray comes across as a simply sweet man, perfectly happy in his small world. Charlene’s presence brings a warmth to his home, unknown to him since his auntie passed. Little does Billy Ray know how much Charlene’s presence is going to turn his world upside down.
The element of mystery surrounding Charlene’s sudden appearance in Billy Ray’s life, and the events that follow the old man’s appearance are intriguing. Who is this woman and what is this old man to her? It’s a story that unfolds slowly and with great care. Brown writes a story that is hard to put down.