Friday, December 19, 2014

Lawrence and the Dead Horse

http://www.dlhammons.com/2014_10_01_archive.html
Participating in the Deja Vu Blogfest today and wanted to share a story I posted before, right after my father's passing. Hope you enjoy it... Click on the link above if you'd like to visit the other blogs participating!



In the still of a summer night, the sweat drained off Ida’s body soaking her dress and barely cooling her skin. She reached for her glass of lemonade which felt slippery with condensation as she took another drink from it. It tasted sweet and sour on her tongue. The mix perfectly sated her thirst but her body still melted in the heat. The mosquitoes seemed to hate the heat, too, otherwise they'd be chasin' her off the porch. And where was her husband? Lawrence had gone off to help a man with a dead horse but that had been hours ago and he should have been back by now. Exceptin’ of course, if the farmer offered him a drink to cool his thirst, too. Then Lawrence would have felt obligated to sit and jaw a spell on the front porch where it was always cooler even on a midsummer day.
Farmer Clements had called at their house the day before with Sheriff Thomas, and told a story of a missing horse. The missing horse had turned up dead on another man’s land and so Mr. Clements wanted Lawrence to take the case. Mr. Clements wanted compensation, and knowing her husband the way she did, Ida was pretty sure Mr. Clements would get his compensation.
It was going on eight. Supper was already cold. Only a fool would eat a hot meal on a summer’s day as blistering as this one had been. Even now, with the sun dropping behind the clouds and trees, the heat sweltered, stuck in her throat every time she took a breath. Where was that man? Didn’t he realize they had work in the mornin’ and being late to bed would make it that much more difficult to get up?
She heard the purring, popping sound of the motor car and sat up. Sure enough, around the bend in the drive came their little car with Lawrence at the wheel. He’d had to have one of the new contraptions and she had to admit it did make these kinds of business visits not take so long, more or less anyway. She stood and greeted him as he climbed the steps to the porch. “Took your time,” she said by way of greeting.
“It was mine to take.”
“Dinner’s on the table.”
“Good, cause I’m hungry. You?” Lawrence looked at her and smiled his slow southern smile.
“As good as. I could eat.”
“Got somethin’ else in mind?”
“Not till after Robert’s cleaned up and gone home.”
“Let’s get to it.” He held the screen door open for her. The main door was already open with the idea of giving any wayward breeze a chance to wander the house and perhaps cool it a bit. They sat at the table and ate in relative silence, knives clinking against plates as they cut their cold ham. 
“So,” Lawrence started, “Mr. Clements seems to like my idea of compensation.”
“And what is your idea of compensation this time?” she asked, tilting her head to smile at him, knowing he loved to talk about a satisfied customer.
“That Mr. Jones pays him the worth of his horse, or buy him a new one, or even two, maybe.”
“And how did you come about that decision?”
“Well, Mr. Clements told me he was mighty concerned about the loss of his animals because he happens to be in the dead heat of farmin’ and needs the critters. The circumstances of his horses gettin’ loose were, it seems, that they got out a gate left open by mistake and they must have wandered onto Mr. Jones property because they’re fence neighbors. Now he told Mr. Jones that his horses had gone missin’ and to keep an eye out for them and he’d come get them if Mr. Jones saw them. Mr. Jones didn’t tell him, he just shot the one and left the other. Sheriff Thomas took it upon himself, after talking to Mr. Clements, to have one of his men take a look on Mr. Jones land. The deputy found the dead horse. I told Mr. Clements, while we drank a glass on his porch, that you can’t go and electrocute a man for shootin’ a horse, but you sure can make him pay.”
Ida laughed. Lawrence’s humor was so dry sometimes and she loved it when he shared it with her.
“So, tomorrow I go over to visit Mr. Jones and get this settled. I think I’ll get two horses out of him by the time we’re done. What he did had little to do with advancing neighborly relations.”
“He’s not a very friendly man at the best of times.”
Lawrence nodded. “You finished?” He glanced at her empty plate.
“Yes sir, I am. But I need some air before we head to the bedroom. I swear today has been the hottest so far this summer.” She waved her hand in front of her face and stood. “Comin’ with me?”
Lawrence nodded and followed her out to the porch. They sat together in the rockers and gently moved back and forth in rhythm with each other. The night was still. Even the animals were quiet, too hot to hunt or chase anything down. “Only the snakes will be happy tonight,” Lawrence said.
My grandparents
“Guess that’s about right, till we get to bed, that is.” Ida took his hand and they rocked in unison on the porch until Robert pushed the screen door open and bade them a good night. 
“See you in the mornin’ Robert,” Ida said.
“Good lord willin’,” Robert replied. He took the steps down and into the night and the darkness swallowed him up.
Ida and Lawrence rocked until their eyes started to droop. Lawrence stood, pulled Ida to her feet and kissed her lightly. “Time for bed. Can’t let the snakes have all the fun.”
“Guess that’s about right,” she said. He opened the screen door for her again and they went inside. The lights went off, the bedroom’s last, and the darkness of the still summer night became complete.

Inspired by a story told to be by Mr. Will Clements, who knew my grandfather (I didn't). My grandfather was "Lawrence."
Image from:
http://www.front-porch-ideas-and-more.com/porch-rocking-chairs.html

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Dobbin - An Animal Lover Story



I fed the ole dobbin another handful of fresh oats and blinked back tears. He’d done right by us, he had. I cried thinking about his fate after such long, hard, and diligent work years he’d put in for us, but I knew Pa was right. The dobbin was too old to work anymore and we couldn’t afford to keep an animal that did nothin’ but consume more than it produced. It was one law of farm life that I’d never had a problem with, until now. Crushed, I’d soaked my pillow every night leading up to the day, which would come soon, that we’d put him down. Cause Pa said there was no sense in wastin’ good money on a vet when he could do the job hisself just as well. I didn’t want him to do it. I didn’t want the old dobbin, Gabriel to die, not by gunshot anyway. I wanted him to be out in a field somewhere under the sky, peaceful-like and unaware, and just fall over with old age. Without pain. The least he deserved, I thought, rubbin’ his soft whiskery nose. He was so very good with folks of all kinds, wasn’t so far gone yet that he couldn’t still have some good moments to live.
     That night the dream came and the next mornin’ I woke in a state of panic, but it was a good panic. I’d dreamed a way out for ole Gabe and darned if I wasn’t going to make that dream come true. But I had to hurry. Any day now Pa would take up the rifle and blow Gabe to kingdom come. It was still early, before sunrise and I knew I had about a half hour before Pa woke up and got movin’. I snuck into the office, turned on the computer that Pa hated but had to have now, and searched for what I was lookin’ for, what I was sure could be found if one looked hard enough. Trouble is, time passes real fast when you’re on a computer and I’d only just found somethin’ promisin’ when I saw the light go in on the kitchen. Ma was up and readyin’ breakfast. Pa wouldn’t be long behind her. I figured she’d be okay with what I was doin’, but wasn’t sure about Pa unless I had somethin’ real and solid to offer him as an alternative. Somethin’ that wouldn’t cost him a cent.


     Later that day after school and on my way home, I stopped at the cafĂ© in town and paid to use one of their computers. It took awhile, but soon I found a site I thought might do the trick and got their phone number. I called from the restaurant since it was a toll-free number. They assured me that Gabe sounded just like what they were lookin’ for and yes, bein’ as our farm was only fifty miles away from them, they’d pick ‘im up for only a small fee. That small fee tested my determination, ‘cause not only did I know $400 dollars was not a small fee, I knew Pa wouldn’t pay it. But I had some savin’s . I surely did, and I could use them and keep it from Ma, cause she wouldn’t want me usin’ them for somethin’ like this, somethin’ she’d probly think was fine to do if you didn’t have to pay for it, but wouldn’t abide me usin’ my life savin’s for. That was for college, she’d say, and couldn’t be touched. I didn’t care. I could touch it and get two jobs over the summer to help pay it back. The more I thought of it and the joy ole Gabe would know at the end of his life, the bigger I grinned. My sight misted as I thanked the man on the phone and hurried over to the bank to get the cash. The man had assured me they’d be there first thing in the mornin’ to pick up Gabriel.
     When I got home I jumped out the truck eager to tell Ma and Pa what I’d arranged, and heard the shotgun go off.  “NO!” I screamed and ran to the barn. No one was inside. I ran to the back, tears threatenin’ to stream and saw Pa standing there, shotgun loose in his hands. But the old dobbin still standin’ on his own four feet, not weavin’, not looking to fall, but prancin’ in fear, his eyes wide and ears flat. He was tied to a post and pullin’ to get away from Pa and the gun. “Stop Pa! Don’t shoot him!” I screamed and ran toward the horse as Pa raised the gun to his shoulder again. 
     How had he missed at this ridiculous close range? Pa lowered the gun and glared at me. I could swear I saw his cheek glisten as he yelled, “Get away from ‘im, Patrick. You know what’s gotta be done.”
     “No it doesn’t. Pa I found a way to get Gabe taken care of. Found a home for ‘im.”
     “What in thunder’s name are you talkin’ about?”
     “A home. I found the old dobbin a home. They’re comin’ to get ‘im tomorrow mornin’, bright an early.”
     Pa stared at me a minute more and I calmed Gabe down, cooin’ to ‘im, snugglin’ his warm wet nose.  “Who’s comin’ for ‘im, Pat?”
     “A children’s riding service. They travel all over the state providin’ rides for kids at birthday parties an such. You know how good Gabe is with folks. He’ll love havin’ all that attention.”
     “But they’ll still just put ‘im down after he’s of no more use.”
     “The man on the phone said they don’t do that. They’re in cahoots with an outfit that saves old workhorses and lets ‘im live out their old age days in a big field somewhere’s till they drop dead on their own.” Which is what I’d wished for Gabe, but I didn’t tell Pa that.
Pa wiped the back of his arm across his face and put the shotgun down. “How much is it gonna cost me?”
     “Nothin’. “ I wouldn’t tell him the truth even though it looked like he might actually be regrettin’ havin’ to shoot the ole boy. I’d made my decision and wouldn’t give Pa any reason to go back on getting’ Gabe what he deserved.
     Next day, a Saturday, Pa and I stood in the drive watchin’ as the truck and horsetrailer drove away with Gabe. I held a brochure in my hand with all the company’s pertinent details.  I could call anytime to check and see how the old dobbin was doin’. I’d paid the man while Pa was in the barn getting’ Gabe so he still thought what I wanted him to. 
     I didn’t know ‘til I graduated from college five years later, that my Pa and Ma had found me out. Didn’t know until they were cryin’ and poundin’ me on the back tellin’ me how proud they were of me, and what I’d done.
     Four years after we watched him leave for his new life, Gabe, that old dobbin, died in a field one day with blue sky above him. He just fell right over and never got up. But I know he's out there somewhere, runnin' free and happy.


Images from: 


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

IWSG Wednesday - Merry December


http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

Welcome to another episode of IWSG on the First Wednesday of the month. Today will be about the trials of Nano and Marketing. How can one not be affected by either of these if one is a writer? Nano I can understand, if you didn't participate, wouldn’t affect you. Participating is a choice and once the choice is made, one deals with it as best one can, especially since it shares the month with Thanksgiving, which usually involves either traveling or entertaining for at least part of the last week of the month. If one hasn’t already finished the magical 50,000 by the time Thanksgiving comes, well, one must push on to make it happen. But that said, it is still a choice and if one has made it, one deals with it as best one can. 

Marketing on the other hand is time and labor intensive and isn’t over in a month, or even two or three. Marketing is the bane of my/our existence, and I can only hope that after the next few months—in which I must put my proverbial nose to the proverbial grindstone—I will succeed in putting together a viable strategy. This is where my stress is overloading this month, marketing, publicity, the “coming out” of the newest work of fiction, right before the grand holidays, brrk. However, I’m set to read “our” IWSG book; it and at least three other books I already have, because I want to make this happen in 2015 for myself and my work. I send out a great big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our little gem of a book! I wish us all good use of our new little treasure, along with a healthy shot of luck! If you are also in the doldrums over marketing, I offer you my sympathies. However, we must be brave and battle on. Good luck to you, and I wish everybody, amongst all of our angst, a wonderful and happy and merry Christmas.
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50,675 words
Daily average 1,689

Event Finished




Images from:
nanowrimo.org