Hard Times – Part 1

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I felt the urge to share a Christmas story this year and I truly hope you enjoy it. My family was poor. Not the kind of poor that we think we are today, but the kind of poor that, for many years during the great depression, had no home in which to live, and very little food to eat. Sometimes they had a tent, sometimes a shack and sometimes only the side of the road, but they survived. This story is loosely based on tales handed down from my mom and oldest sister. Some of this actually happened to them, but not all in Roswell and not all in the same sequence. I am taking literary license here to create a fiction tale from their recollections.

Roswell, New Mexico in 1940 was just starting to grow and develop. After all, the air base located there brought people and people brought prosperity, but not for everyone.

Roswell-1940

“Christmas is right around the corner, Walter, and we have nothing for the children.” Ella Spencer put her hands on her hips and faced him.

Walter ran a hand through thin brown hair. “I know, Ella. Can’t you see I’m doin’ my best?”

Cold wind whistled through the cracks between the rough wood boards that made up the fifty-dollar house built into the side of a hill.

Walter checked the kerosene level on the single stove in the back corner.

Ella sighed. “I know. So am I. The washings I take in help, but it’s just never enough. If we had electricity, I could do more.”

“Dammit! I can’t work more than three jobs in a day’s time. So, I don’t know what else you expect me to do.”

“If I knew how to drive, maybe I could get a job in town.”

Walter waved a hand around the small square room. “And do what with these younguns?”

Ella’s small shoulders drooped. Walter was right. She had to take care of the children with what few resources they had.

But, at least they now had a house. It was a sight better than the tent they’d lived in before Walter built this house out of used lumber and bent nails.

“Times have got to get better,” she said. “They just have to.”

“Damned government don’t care one lick about us poor people. We ain’t the only ones, Ella. There’s a whole slew of us that ain’t got a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of.”

Again, she knew he was right, but it didn’t lessen the sting of not having a single present to give the children on Christmas morning.

They were doing good to put shoes on their feet, and food in their mouths, much less anything that wasn’t a pure necessity.

She let her mind drift back ten years. Maybe if she’d married Tommy Turnbow instead of Walter they’d be better off. But, she hadn’t. Walter had promised a good life.

She’d learned that promises were only made to be broken.

“Walter, if I could just buy a few yards of material, I could sew coats for the girls. They need something to help keep them warm through the winter.”

“I’ll take you into town Saturday and see what we can find. But, we can’t spend more than two dollars. That’s all we’ve got to spare.”

“Two dollars is better than zero. We’ve seen many a day where that was the case.”

Walter rolled a cigarette and blew a smoke ring. “All I know is I’m doin’ my best and I’ve got to get going or I’ll be late to the gas station.”

Ella handed him a tin box that held two biscuits and a thermos of soup. “I’ll see you tonight.”

The door slammed behind Walter, and Ella turned her attention to the wash tub and pile of clothes. She carried water from a single faucet outside the door and set it to boiling on the stove. The baby, Charles, crawled on the wood floor and banged a spoon against the boards. The two older girls played in a corner with rag dolls a kind lady had given them a couple of years back.

She sighed. “Girls, watch after your brother while I get this washin’ done and hung out on the line.”

The oldest looked up. “Okay, Mama.”

Ella worried about the scorpions they shared their house with. So far, no one had been bitten, but she remained vigilant.

Her hands red and chapped from the lye soap stung when the cold air hit them. By the time she had the clothes pinned to the line, she could no longer feel her fingers. Just as the hung the last sheet, her oldest daughter ran outside.

“Mama, Mama, come quick! Charles is bleeding.”

Ella dropped the clothespin bag and ran.

Unknown Playmate, Irene, Jean 1939 (2)
Actual photo from family archives

TO BE CONTINUED…….

 

 

 

 

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Old Jim’s Christmas Parole

This poem and piece of artwork are taken from Discovery – Poetry And Art by Rick and Jan Sikes.

Prison was a lonely place to be during the holidays. Rick often told stories of depression and how there was an increased number of suicides around Christmas.

I chose this poem because, in a twisted way, it does have a happy ending.

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Old Jim’s Christmas Parole

Rick Sikes

A story of morals, for Christmas telling

Of an old convict, who next to me, was celling.

One hell of a man, that old Jim,

We called him “Pops”, but all respected him.

He’d been in prison since I don’t know when,

Probably chained to a tree, while they built the pen.

No one sent him anything, so we gave what we could give.

He was old and sick and had sorta’ lost the will to live.

Christmas eve, he was restlessly walking,

I asked him to sit down and we started talking.

“Hell, son,” he said, “I’ve been down roads rough and tough,

Then, I went straight, hung it up – I’d had enough.

But, you know how it is when you’ve fallen before,

Get seen around a place where someone makes a score.

Well, that’s what happened to me this time,

I got railroaded right on down the line.

I’ve got something in my eye, no use lying, it’s a tear.

I ain’t heard from my wife or kids in many a year.

But, you know boy, I got a goin’ home feelin’ in my soul.

Don’t see how though, ain’t no chance in hell for parole.

Damnedest feeling I ever had, can’t understand,

Wishful thinking I reckon, of a foolish old man.

I guess you know, my home-folk passed on years ago.

It even seems if I was home, they’d be there I know,

Just like old times watching the children play.

Home is the sweetest place on earth on Christmas day.

That’s something you remember, now don’t forget,

I don’t see no way I could get home, but it may work out yet.

Best wishes to you boy, I’m tired, gotta go to bed.”

The next morning old Jim made it home, they found him dead.

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This beautiful poetry and art book is available in three different formats.

Hardcover – Full Color

Paperback – Black & White

eBook

Or, if you’d like an autographed copy, you can order direct through my website:

https://www.jansikes.com/books.html

 

 

 

 

 

#RRBC Books & Budz Holiday Pop-Up Book Shop!

The Rave Reviews Book Club has created a special Holiday website for your shopping convenience!

Pop-Up Book Shop

Follow this link to get started!

https://booksbudzpopup.wordpress.com/

Want to see authors reading snippets from their books? Visit the #RRBC #BooksBudzPopUp Reading Room! You’ll find me reading an excerpt from “Two Shorts and A Snort.” 

https://booksbudzpopup.wordpress.com/the-reading-room/

Books are listed two ways:

  1. By Genre
  2. By Price

So, you can start with either how much you want to spend or which genre piques your attention the most.

This is a fantastic way to do some last minute holiday shopping and give the gift of a story to your loved one!

So, hop on over to the RRBC Books & Budz Holiday Pop-up Book Shop and start browsing. There is a nice cozy fireplace going with holiday music to entertain you while you look.

And, there’s even a link you can click on if you think you’d like to join this fabulous club.

Have fun!

Exposing your work, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Because this post includes some of my favorite bloggers AND the always fantastic Lisa Burton, I have to share it. Authors, one thing that stands out to me in this post is about supporting others. If you have tunnel vision and ONLY promote yourself and your work, you aren’t going to see a lot of results. Another thing that stands out to me is about taking time to visit and comment on blogs that are supporting you. That is ultra-important! Enjoy!

Entertaining Stories

Lisa Burton

Hi, all, and welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. This week is a special edition, because it’s geared to all you authors out there. It might give some good ideas to bloggers who want to host guests too.

Today, I’ve collected a group of power bloggers who host authors on their sites. This gives an author a way to reach a larger audience than they might if they were simply posting about date-night or something. This means when you have a new book to promote, or maybe to give an older title a secondary push.

We’re going to start by addressing the three-hundred-pound gorilla in the room, and I mean that literally. Chris The Storyreading Ape, hosts one of the largest author blogs around. “Did you get my fruit basket, Chris?”

“Yes I did thanks, Lisa – very thoughtful of you to use edible leaves to weave the…

View original post 2,102 more words

Welcome to the Final Day WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW @NonnieJules)

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It is my honor and privilege to host the final story from the WATCH RWISA WRITE blog tour and the final guest is none other than the founder and CEO of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB AND RWISA, Nonnie Jules

Thank you all for joining us for this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase featured 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: Nonnie Jules

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EXCERPT FROM THE SEQUEL TO DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER

(I’ve decided not to preface this piece with any details.  I’d like for the readers to try and “figure” out the direction this piece is going in.  Have fun!)

***

LEEZA

“Are you gonna buy me a drink or, are you just gonna sit there and stare at me?” Leeza asked the stranger at the bar.

“Uh, sure.  What are you drinking, pretty lady?”  Swirling to and fro, the man gripped the ridges of the bar to keep from falling from the bar stool.  “Hey, bartend, give this pretty lady what ‘er she wants and put it on my tab.”

Leeza looked him up and down.  Although not bad on the eyes, he didn’t strike her as a man with deep enough pockets to have a “tab” anywhere, but, who was she to judge?

“Vodka on the rocks,” she said, gesturing to the bartender.  When her suitor heard her request, his eyebrows shot up.

“Sure you can handle that strong of a drink, pretty lady?” he asked, still teetering.

“That’s not all I can handle.” Her suggestive wink was all the invitation the stranger needed to move a little closer, in spite of the fact that he could barely stand.

“So, what’s your name, pretty lady?” he slurred.

“Anything you want it to be, honey,” she replied.

“Really?  Well, I want your name to be Available.  So, are you?”

As he sat waiting for her response, she was reminded of her puppy, Scratches, paws perched on the windowsill, awaiting her return home from work.

“You gotta pay to play with me,” she nudged.

“Well, honey, you finish up that there drink of yours, and let’s head up to my room.  I’m in town on business and I would love the company of a beautiful woman going by the name…Available.”

In one fell swoop, she turned the glass up and the vodka was gone. The stranger’s eyes bulged again.  Clearly, he’d never seen a woman down a drink like that before.

Turning away from the bar and grabbing hold of his tie, Leeza led the way to the elevator of the hotel…the stranger following close behind, like a leashed dog.

“What’s your curfew, pretty lady?”

The elevator doors had only partially closed, when she took her hand and grabbed his penis through his pants.

“I’m a big girl, single with no kids…does that sound like someone with a curfew?” she asked, as the beep of the elevator signaled their arrival to their destination.

Stumbling ahead of her, the stranger swiped his key and pushed opened the door.  Leeza walked past him, falling backwards onto the bed.

“C’mon over here and let’s finish the party we started downstairs,” she said, kicking off her heels and propping her legs up on the bed…spread-eagle.

Balancing as he walked, the stranger stood over the bed with a huge grin plastered across his face.  Judging from the growing bulge inside of his pants, it was easy to discern that a grin awaited her there, too.

“C’mere.  You look as if you’re really happy to see me.” Leeza forcefully took him by the tie once again and pulled him on top of her.  When she began frantically unzipping his pants, he held her by the wrists to stop her.

“Whoa, filly…what’s your hurry?  You said you didn’t have a curfew so why the rush?  Don’t you even wanna know my name?” he quizzed.

“Well, I thought your name was Ready since that’s the way you came across downstairs.”  Leeza was no longer smiling – feeling a bit toyed with; and that was the feeling she hated most.

“You’re a funny one, aren’t cha?” he chuckled.  “Ok, well let’s ‘git to what we came here for!  By the way, my real name’s Jim.  Now tell me yours…”

“Nothing’s changed,” she whispered in his ear.  “I’m still…Available.”

Switching off the lamp, she proceeded to undress him by the orange glow of moonlight trickling through the window.   This was a typical night for Leeza.  Raunchy sex with yet another man she didn’t know, nor cared to.  After a while, she just lay there and let him have his way.

Then, just as quickly as it had begun, the party was over…at least, for her. The banging inside her head warned of the onslaught of another massive headache and there was no getting away from it.

Her enjoyment of the night’s events came to a screeching halt as the next one started to take over.

CHRISTY

Jim opened his eyes to a blonde pointing a gun in his face.  Startled, he scanned the room for the brunette he’d brought back with him the night before, but, she was nowhere to be found.

“Give me your wallet!” the blonde demanded.

“Who are you?  And, where is Available?” he asked, his eyes still searching.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t want to know what you’re talking about, capiche?  My name is Christy and I’m not going to ask you again.  Give me…your wallet.”

Jim pointed to his clothes that he’d been stripped of the night before, strewn across the floor.  “You didn’t ask me the first time,” he said.  “My wallet’s in there. Take whatever you want, just get outta my damn room.”

Christy stooped to pick up the pants, throwing them at him; the gun, nor her eyes, hardly ever leaving the target as she moved.

“Hey, I don’t take orders from you. Remember that. Now give me everything in there that’s spendable.”

Jim snatched the bills from his wallet and threw them at her.  “Here, this is all I have,” he muttered, his tone laced with anger.

“I saw plastic.  I want those, too.  And don’t make the mistake again of throwing anything at me,” she warned, raising the gun to remind him who was in charge.

Jim mumbled something as he gently placed three credit cards on the bed.  Christy snatched the cards up and backed slowly towards the door.  Her hands had barely touched the door handle when she heard Jim yell, “Get out, you bitch!”

Pushing herself away from the door and calmly walking back over to the bed, she could see the fear which had quickly taken up residence in his eyes…the moment when he knew he had pushed too hard.

The growing smirk across her lips catapulted into a full-blown sneer as she lifted the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

“Don’t you ever call me a bitch again.  I told you my name was Christy.”

The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Nonnie Jules’ RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click

Day #16 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC

Blog Tour Banners

Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: Beem Weeks

Beem Weeks

Nightly Traipsing

By Beem Weeks

There might’ve been a dream. Or maybe not. Violet Glass really couldn’t recall. Probably, though. A dream concerning some stupid boy—or even a girl.

Whatever.

Can’t control what creeps through your sleep.

Her body stirred awake as the blackest part of night splashed its inky resolve across that part of Alabama.

Violet stared at the ceiling, tried like the dickens to recall a face, perhaps a voice—anything belonging to the one responsible for this latest agitation.

Nothing came through, though.

Even dead of night did little to lay low that sticky heat. Old-timers in town swore oaths affirming this, the summer of 1910, to be more oppressive than any other summer since before the war between the states.

Violet eased her body from her bed; the soles of her feet found cool the touch of creaking floorboards.

There’d be nobody to catch her—not at this hour.

Nobody, but Ruthie.

And Ruthie Sender?—she’d never let on of these doings.

Violet scampered through the kitchen, flung her blue-eyed gaze against the darkened parlor. Only shadows and silence bore witness to her planned escape, a girl’s nightly traipsing.

The back door gave up with only minor provocation.

Dripping moonlight splashed the yard with a silvery sheen; promising secrets lingered among the gathered glow.

Around the rear of the house she skulked, careful to hold close to the shadows, to remain hidden from the ones who’d blab, those others who’d hold it over her head for gain.

Back behind the barn she found her crouching spot, fell low to the ground, fixed sight on the direction of Ruthie Sender’s place a few hundred yards away. Traipsing just didn’t hold its fun without Ruthie tagging along.

Violet rushed her granddad’s cotton field without that hesitation she’d known only a summer earlier.

Shadows stirred and wiggled in the distance. Figures formed, made shapes around a low-burning fire. Even at the center of all that cotton, Violet could pick out words of songs sung by the coloreds, those kin to Ruthie Sender.

They sang about standing on wood, an old slave’s saying, drawing up recollections of a time they themselves belonged to someone else.

Belonged to Violet’s kin.

Wood smoke fogged the night air.

Violet hunched low, skirted the yard where those coloreds took up with their fire and song and whiskey. Friendly sorts, all of them. Always first with a kind word, an interest in Violet’s family, how the girl’s folks were getting on—even if that interest leaned toward pretend. But that’s the nature of the matter. It’s Violet’s great-granddad who’d once owned all those souls that gave creation to the very ones now singing and drinking.

She broke through shadows collected beneath an ancient willow tree, found respite behind the Sender family’s privy, and waited for the girl to either show or not show.

The colored girl’s legs appeared first, dangling from the pantry window, bare feet scrabbling at the air, searching for a solid thing to set down upon. The thud of her sudden drop wouldn’t wake anybody.

A dingy gray nightshirt clung to Ruthie’s body. Her dark-eyed gaze landed out where she knew to find Violet. If the girl offered a smile, it couldn’t be seen—not from this distance.

“Go out back of Tussel’s, maybe?” Ruthie asked, finding space in Violet’s shadow.

“Catch a strap across my butt, I get found by that saloon again,” Violet promised. “Daddy don’t say things twice.”

Ruthie said, “Chicken liver.”

Violet backed down a notch, weighed her options. “Who’s gonna be there?”

“Fella named Ferdinand something. Plays piano.” Ruthie tossed a nod toward those others out by the fire. “They won’t share us no whiskey.”

“Won’t share up to Tussel’s, neither—unless you got some money.”

*      *      *

They were born the same night, Violet and Ruthie, back during spring of 1895. Only a few measly hours managed to wedge in between them, separated the girls from being twins of a sort.

Close enough, though.

Ruthie came first—if her folks were to be believed.

“Where we going?” Violet asked, following after Ruthie’s lead.

“Lena Canu’s place,” said Ruthie.

“How come?”

“She got stuff to drink, mostly.”

Droplets of sweat ran relays along Violet’s spine, leaving the girl’s skin wet, clammy. “Awful hot, it is.”

“She a conjure woman,” Ruthie announced, laying her tone low, protected. “—Lena Canu, I mean.”

Midnight’s high ceiling lent sparse light to the path splitting the two properties. Violet’s kin, they’d once owned the entire lot. Her great-granddad, he’s the one took notion to make things right, gave half of his land to the slaves he turned loose after the war.

Ruthie’s kin, mostly.

Senders and Canus.

Couldn’t ever really make a thing like that right, though.

A small cabin squatted in the brush; the orange glow of a lamp shined in the window. Used to be a slave’s shack, this one here.

Moonlight dripped on the colored girl’s face, showed it round and smooth, lips full and perfect, eyes alive with life and mischief. “Gonna see does she have any drink.”

Violet leaned closer, her bare arms feeling the other girl’s heat. She asked, “Can she tell fortunes?”

“Like reading a book.”

That dark door yawned wide; Lena Canu peered into the night. “I’ll tell your fortune, white girl,” she said.

Ruthie gave a nudge, guided Violet up the walk and into the shack.

A table and four chairs congregated at the center of the bare space. Kerosene fed a flame dancing like the devil atop the glass lamp. A pallet in a corner threw in its lot with the scene.

Lena Canu tossed a nod toward her rickety table. “Have you a seat, now,” she ordered, “—both of you.”

Violet sat first. Ruthie found perch across from her friend. Beneath the table naked feet bumped and rubbed, each girl assuring the other this would be a good turn.

“You one of them Glass girls, ain’t you?” Lena asked, dropping onto a chair of her own.

Violet said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Lena waved her off. “Ain’t no ma’am. Call me Lena, is all. You the one runs wild.” A pronouncement rather than a question.

Ruthie asked, “You got any liquor?”

A clear pint bottle came into the moment; its bitter amber liquid promised that sort of burn a person won’t mind.

Each girl drew off a long pull, let the heat mingle with their blood. Neither girl had ever gone full-on drunk; only a swig or two is all they ever dared.

Lena Canu, conjuring woman, spread a pile of bones over the table and commenced to ciphering future happenings a girl might need to know.

Things about boys and marriage didn’t come up. Neither did mention of babies and such. All Violet heard portended mainly to trouble.

“Quit you runnin’ wild,” Lena proclaimed, “and you be just fine.” She took up her narrow gaze again, aimed to settle matters. “But you keep doin’ what you been doin’, things gonna go bad.”

The suddenness of gunfire echoed through that sticky air. Three quick shots chased by a lazy fourth that staggered along a moment later.

Lena jumped first, ran for the door. Ruthie followed after, peering into the dark, no doubt expecting to put a face to the one pulled that trigger.

Violet remained stuck to her chair, attentions tugging between the matters outside and those sayings left to her by that conjuring woman. Did she really believe in such things, or was it all just a mess of nonsense?

“What am I gonna do to make things go bad?” she asked, supposing it wouldn’t hurt to know—just in case.

But Lena had other notions to work over. “Sounds like they come from over to your place,” she said to Ruthie.

Ruthie tipped a nod, said, “Could be they gettin’ liquored up too much, huh?”

“Might could,” answered Lena.

It happens that way, boys and their whiskey, wandering along crooked paths of discontent, blabbing things not really meant for harm—just boasting, is all.

But boasting to a drunken fella is as good as a punch on his nose.

“Gonna go see,” said Ruthie, pushing past the threshold, pressing on toward home.

Violet held her ground, let the colored girl disappear in the night. Attentions ceased their tugging, settled on the one making proclamations concerning bad manners and trouble to come.

Lena came loose of her thoughts, brought one to words, said, “Go on home now, white girl. Nighttime belongs to devils.”

*      *      *

Clouds laid a brief smudge against the moon, stripped its shine right off the night, left Violet to wonder if it really might be footsteps stumbling along behind her, following that same narrow path toward home.

“Fool boys,” she muttered, tossing nervous glances over either shoulder.

Footfalls fell heavy—like boots hammering the earth. An eager thing born of desperation.

Violet bolted left, squatted low behind a pile of brush that had the makings of a snake shelter. She held her breath and waited for the one at her back to pass on by.

A piece of tree limb came to her hand, a long and heavy thing, able to put a soul right should he come at her with wrong intentions.

That smudged moon went shiny again, dripped light across the path, showed off the shape of a man loping toward home. Tall and thin, this one; he moved quick with purpose.

Going the wrong way, though, Violet thought, waiting for the man to pass.

She gained her feet, charged his retreat, swung that heavy piece of wood and caught that interloper straight between his shoulders.

“Jay-zus!” the man hollered, hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes.

“This is private property!” Violet informed him, fixing up for a second swing.

The fella pulled up on his knees, tried to reach for that spot on his back no doubt gone swollen. He said, “It’s private property only ’cause I say so.”

Foolishness seeped into the girl. She squinted against the dark, drew recollection of his face. “Granddad?” she said, hoping her recollections proved wrong.

“What the hell are you doing out here?” he demanded, giving his legs a try.

“Came out to use the privy,” she fibbed. “Heard gunshots, came to see, is all.”

“Liar!” the old man spat. “You been gallivanting again, ain’t you?” He moved closer to the girl, sized her up, made a big fuss over her running around in only a nightshirt and nothing else. “Your daddy’s gonna hit ya where the good Lord split ya—then he’s gonna move you to your sister’s room upstairs. Won’t be no sneaking out from there.”

Her gaze caught that glint at his waistband, a familiar hunk of blued steel. “Don’t matter,” she said. “Daddy’s gonna put you in the county home.”

“On account of what?”

“On account of you’re going senile, traipsing off, bothering colored folks again with that pistol of yours.” Violet leaned closer, continued her spiel. “Heard him and Mama talking just last week, saying how you’re a danger to yourself just as much as to others.”

The old man’s jaw fell open and slammed shut; intended words went lost to the night. He couldn’t tell on her now—not without personal risk.

Defeat fogged his eyes. “I won’t tell your business if you don’t tell mine.”

Violet seized the moment with both hands. “That depends,” she informed him.

“On what?”

“Who’d you shoot tonight?”

“Nobody. Just meant to scare, is all.”

“Gonna kill somebody one day—if you ain’t already.”

“Ain’t in my blood, killin’.”

“Don’t have to mean it to do it.”

The old man pulled back, let frustration have its way. “We got a deal or don’t we?”

“You gonna leave Ruthie’s people be?”

“Just want what’s mine,” he complained.

“But it’s their land, Granddad—been so for forty-five years. A hundred guns ain’t gonna make it not so.”

He never did wear misery well.

Violet’s arms went easily around the man. She pulled close to him, breathed in that familiar odor of sweat and tobacco.

He said, “I won’t bother them no more.”

“Then we have us a deal.”

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Beem Weeks’ RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click

Day #15 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC

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Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: Gwen Plano

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MOM’S FINAL WORDS

By Gwen M. Plano

Worn out by time, mom lay motionless on the sheets. Life lingered but imperceptibly. At ninety-one, she had experienced the full range of life’s challenges. And, now, she rested her aged shell of a body and waited.

A farmer’s daughter and wife, her life was marked by practicalities and hard work. Always up before daybreak, she prepared the meals, washed the clothes and hung them on the clothesline, and otherwise attended to the needs of the household.

Her garden was a cornucopia of tomatoes and corn, of squash and lettuces. And the refrigerator always had freshly gathered eggs and newly churned butter.

Mom rarely paused, to catch her breath, to offer a hug, or to sit calmly. Time is not to be wasted, she taught. And so, she was always busy.

Over the years, there were multiple times that she almost died. But, with each surgery or ailment, she emerged from death’s clutches more determined than before – to surmount her difficulties, to forge a path, to care for her family. “Life is a gift,” she would say to us.

Mom knew poverty and uncertainty. Ration coupons from the war lay on her dresser, a reminder of harsh realities. Nothing ever went to waste in our household, not food, not water, not clothing. “Many have less than us,” she claimed. She would then insist we be conservative and share.

She knew sorrow well, having lost her parents when she was young, and then two of her nine children. As the years passed, she also lost her sisters and many of her friends.

Mom was a woman of faith. Throughout the day, you could hear her quiet entreaties. Prayer was always on her lips. When mom walked from one room to the next, she prayed – for this person or that friend or for our country. She’d stand at the sink washing dishes and invoke help, from the angels, from Mary the mother of our God, and from the Holy Spirit. “Pray always,” she’d remind us.

This busy mother fought death to the end, but when the doctor finally said that nothing more could be done, she simply responded, “I am ready.”

It was then that she met with each of her seven children. Barely managing each breath, she whispered her I love you and offered a few words of guidance.

When I was at mom’s bedside, she told me she loved me, mentioned a few family concerns, and then in a barely audible voice she said, “I don’t know what to expect.”

This precious little woman, who had spent her life busy with raising a family and helping with the farm, now was unsure of what would happen next. I was surprised by the words.

She taught me to pray when I was quite tiny. “Get on your knees,” she would instruct. “Offer up your pain for the poor souls in purgatory,” she’d suggest. Then, she’d lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. Mom had us pray for family and friends, for anyone suffering, and always for our country. She’d share stories of angels and saints, of miracles and wonders, of midnight visitations and afternoon impressions. This fragile diminutive woman had instructed my siblings and me of the invisible eternal. And, I lived with those images as a child until they became as real to me as the world we see.

Yes, I was surprised by mom’s words to me. “I don’t know what to expect.” But then I wondered, did she know? Did she know that I had studied near-death experiences? That I had written of the dying process? Had I ever told her?

I don’t know what to expect. Simple words, but a storm of thoughts followed. I held back my tears and took her hands in mine.

“Mom, I will tell you what friends have said and what the research has shown. The angels are coming soon, mom. You will see them in the light. Just follow their lead. Your sisters will join you, as will your mom and dad and your babies. Your whole family is waiting for you. It will be a wonderful reunion. There will be much joy.”

Her breaths grew slower.

I told her of Charles, a friend I met in my prayer group. He had died twice and because of that, he had no fear of his final death. Through his experiences, he saw that life continues. He spoke of celestial beings, of extraordinary love, of boundless joy. And, he told the prayer group that he looked forward to death.

I shared these things and more. And, as I spoke, her eyes closed, and her breathing slowed. She had fallen back to sleep, to the middle ground between this world and the next. And I wondered, did she really need to know what to expect or did she want me to remember that life never ends?

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Gwen Plano’s RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make an application!

 

Thankful

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I reflect on all I have to be thankful for, I am astounded that there is so much! We tend to go through our days without stopping to really take a look around us and truly appreciate what we have. We are always chasing a carrot just out of reach. But, today, I pause to give thanks for all that I am blessed with.

First and foremost, I am thankful for my amazing two daughters. They are strong young women raising families while still managing careers. I couldn’t be more proud.

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I am thankful for five unique and awesome grandchildren! And, I’m thankful I live close enough that I get to see them often (sometimes too often.) 🙂

I am thankful that I have created an entirely new career for myself…one I could never have imagined!

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I am thankful for the writing organizations that have enhanced, supported, taught and uplifted me along this journey.

 

The beautiful friendships that I have formed around the world are cherished!

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I am thankful for my apartment. I know that may sound silly, but I truly am thankful for my sanctuary. It is quiet, unassuming and has everything I need to be comfortable.

I am thankful for the music and the awesome people who make the music that feeds my soul!

I am thankful for my sister who patiently mentors and encourages me. We talk every Sunday morning over a cup of coffee, by phone, and solve all the problems in our stories and the world. 🙂

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I am thankful for my best friend of over 35 years. We have been through lots together!

As Rick told the Baptist preacher, I am thankful for the breath that sustains life. I’m thankful for faith and hope that are my constant companions.

I am thankful for the beautiful angels that watch over, protect and help when they can.

I am thankful for all of you who follow my blog and leave comments when something interests you. I appreciate the encouragement you give when I post stories.

I am a most blessed person!

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Day #14 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Blog Tour Banners

Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: Harriet Hodgson

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Look Out World: A Loving Grandma is on Duty

By Harriet Hodgson

Recently I read some blog posts by grandmas. Though a few posts were positive, most were negative. The grandmas couldn’t seem to find anything positive to say about aging or the wisdom they had acquired. My reaction to aging is different. Because I’m a grandma, I’m saying and doing things I’ve never done before. Maybe I need a badge that says GRANDMA ON DUTY!

I’m on marriage duty.

My husband’s aorta dissected in 2013 and he had three emergency operations. During the third one, he suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed his legs. Since I drove him to the hospital emergency department I’ve been his caregiver and advocate. Although we have a less mobile life these days, we have a good life and are more in love than ever. Each day is a blessing and we savor the days we have together.

I’m on GRG duty.

After my twin grandchildren’s parents died from the injuries they received in separate car crashes, the court appointed my husband and me as their guardians. (My daughter was, and always will be, the twins’ mother.) The court appointed my husband and me as the twins’ guardians and we became GRGs—grandparents raising grandchildren. According to the US Census Bureau, 10% of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids. Raising the twins for seven years was a responsibility and a joy. Though the twins are adults now, I’m still a GRG when called upon.

I’m on safe driving duty.

When I noticed drivers weren’t stopping at stop signs—just slowing down and proceeding forward—I became upset. The police call this practice a “rolling stop” and it’s dangerous. What if a car hit a walking child or a child on a bike? I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and asked drivers to follow the law and come to a full stop at stop signs.

I’m on political duty.

Contentious as politics has become, I always vote and stay informed on issues. A friend of mine asked me to write for her political campaign, and I agreed to do it because of her teaching background and focus on children’s issues. My tasks included proofreading letters, writing new letters, helping with promotional materials, and delivering literature to homes. I was delighted when my candidate won re-election.

I’m on anti-theft duty.

We live in a townhome on a private street. It’s a safe neighborhood so I was surprised when a porch pirate stole my husband’s asthma medication. I reported the theft to the police and a detective came to our home. According to the detective, thieves look for a neighborhood that has connected mailboxes, such as four linked together, because it saves them time. I also reported the theft to the neighborhood association and it is pursuing the idea of locked mailboxes.

I’m on learning duty.

My family didn’t get a television set until I was a senior in high school. Instead of watching television, my brother and I went to the library and took out as many books as we could carry home. I still love to read. The day doesn’t seem right and is a bit “off” if I don’t learn anything that day. Learning is good modeling for grandchildren. The twins know I love to read and love to learn.

I’m on writing duty.

To keep my skills sharp, I write every day, everything from articles for websites, magazine articles, handouts to support the talks I give, and writing books. My 37th book is in production now and comes out in the fall of 2019. It’s a book about being a grandmother and I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the cover too. Waiting for the release date is going to be difficult.

I’m on giving duty.

Giving to others helps them and makes me feel good inside. I give free talks to community groups, talk to school kids about writing, and donate to the food bank in memory of my daughter. One of the best gifts I give is the gift of listening. A grandchild can feel like nobody is listening. That’s why I practice active listening. I make eye contact, and nod to show I’m listening, and refrain from interrupting. Active listening takes more energy than passive listening and it’s worth the energy.

Grandmas have special skills to share with families. They are also keepers of history. “A house needs a grandma in it,” Louisa May Alcott once said, and I think she was right.

I’m just one grandma, trying to make a difference. There are millions of grandmas like me. Working alone and together, we are loving, protecting, and nurturing grandchildren around the world. Some grandmas are activists, others are advocates, and others are both. Instead of sitting around and waiting for things to change, grandmas are initiating change.

Be on the lookout for the loving grandmothers in your community. Join their efforts. If you can’t join in, support their efforts verbally and financially. The loving grandmas of the world are on duty, and always will be. Hug a grandma today!

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Harriet Hodgson’s RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make an application!

 

Day #13 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Blog Tour Banners

Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: Robert Fear

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Afternoon Cycle Ride by Robert Fear

Ibiza, May 1977

As I set out on my cycle ride, the streets of Es Cana were busy with pale-faced holidaymakers exploring their new surroundings. I almost collided with a couple who looked the wrong way as they crossed the road.

The hire bike was a boneshaker, and as I headed out of town to the west, the road surface was uneven. The ride became rougher, and I swerved to avoid potholes. Shocks vibrated through the handlebars and I lost my grip twice. Despite this, the breeze in my face and the sun on my back felt good.

Roads twisted and turned as I followed the coast around Punta Arabi and through the outlying villages. I passed pine tree fringed sandy beaches and caught glimpses of the sea. New tourist developments dotted the coastline, in between the traditional houses, shops, and bars.

After a while, I came to the dusty main road that ran from the north of Es Cana. Cycling westwards towards Santa Eulalia I soon found myself in the main square where I had changed buses when I first arrived from Ibiza Town in April.

My parched throat led me in search of a drink. Opposite the Guardia Civil offices, I spotted Fred’s Bar and decided it was a good place to quench my thirst. With the bike propped against an outside wall, I walked into the gloomy interior and blinked after the bright sunshine.

At the bar, I ordered a draught beer. As I stood and sipped it, I glanced around and saw groups of men sat at the wooden tables. English was the main language being spoken, and the newspapers were days-old copies of The Sun. I felt out of place amongst the rustling of papers and whispered conversations.

Chalked on a board was a small menu of English food. I ordered Shepherd’s Pie with my next beer.

‘Take a seat at that corner table and I’ll bring it over in a few minutes,’ commanded the gruff Yorkshire voice from behind the bar. I assumed that was Fred.

‘Cheers mate,’ I smiled and walked over to the seat he had indicated.

Sat on the hard, wooden chair I placed my drink on the table.

I looked up and saw a man limping from the bar. A large glass of whisky and ice almost slipped from his hand. Without a word, he slumped down opposite me. He shouted greetings to others but ignored me. His voice was slurred, and he had a distinct American accent.

My food arrived, and I dug into it with a vengeance. The cycle ride had given me a good appetite. As I polished off the plate, my table companion burped and glanced towards me. I smiled at him and he grinned,

‘Looked like you enjoyed that.’

‘Yes, it was great,’ I replied, ‘have you tried it?’

‘No man, I’m not into food much, I prefer this stuff,’ he slurred and pointed to his drink.

He pulled out a pack of Camel cigarettes, flipped back the top and offered me one.

I accepted it and gave him a light. We both took a deep drag on the rough taste and exhaled plumes of smoke. He moved closer and I could make out a mass of scars on his face and arms.

‘Do you live in Santa Eulalia?’ I asked, ‘you seem to know lots of people here.’

‘Yea man, been here ages now. Came to Ibiza in ’73. I’ve got a small apartment just outside the town, overlooking the sea.’

I looked at him with curiosity, ‘so you work here then?’

He threw back his head and laughed. All eyes turned in his direction as the raucous laugh subsided into chuckles.

‘No man, I’m pensioned off from the Army. I was in Vietnam. Halfway through my second tour I got blown to smithereens and was lucky to survive. They shipped me to the States, filled my body with metal and stitched me up. I was in the hospital for months and still go there twice a year for check-ups.’

My jaw dropped, and I looked at him with a new respect. He continued,

‘The climate here helps my aching bones, and the booze is cheap. I’ve made friends, although most of them think I’m crazy. I suppose I am sometimes!’ he mused.

‘Did you want another drink?’ I asked him, to break the momentary silence.

‘A large bourbon, with water and ice would be great, thanks, man.’

Back at the table, I clinked my glass against his. ‘Salut!’

We chatted a while longer and I told him about the work I was doing. His eyes glazed over. He nodded as I talked, but I sensed his mind was elsewhere.

‘I have to go now,’ I said, as I stood up and offered my hand.

‘Nice talking to you man, all the best and hope to see you again.’ He gave me a weak handshake from his seated position.

‘Yes, me too, my name’s Fred.’

‘I’m Michael, or Mike, also known as Mad Mike by my friends. Take care on your ride back to Es Cana.’

He waved over as I headed out of the door.

The bike had fallen over, but it was still there. I had not thought to secure it two hours before when I entered the bar. I figured it was safe parked opposite the police station.

With a slight wobble, I set off along the main road towards Es Cana. A car came straight at me and I had to swerve. Out of habit, I had started out on the left-hand side of the road. With a wrench of the handlebars, I switched to the right and just avoided a collision.

That could have been nasty!

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Robert Fear’s RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make an application!