Shorty (Short Story)

Kids were fascinated by the way Shorty got around East End.   In those days, the only paved road in our part of town was Highway 50, unless you count the short road up the hill to the Gospel Tabernacle.  The remainder of roads were mud tracks, sometimes covered with what they called red-dog, the rose-colored residue from the burned-out slate dumps down at Minden.  On these, cutting back and forth across what was once the Rhodes place, we regularly stubbed our toes if we went barefoot on our bikes, and new cars were turned into rattle traps in a few months.  In the winter the depressions were yellow slime pits, or frozen plates between the jagged edges of red dog.

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Mayfair Burning

It was the Great Depression, and we, like all our neighbors, were forever short of cash money.  It was pinto beans and mashed potatoes all week, and on Sunday stringy meat which made my teeth shift in my gums.  It was burnt bacon and pan biscuits for my father’s breakfast, and flour gravy over biscuits for ours.  Mother did the best she could, and our clothes were well mended but faded from many boiling washtubs.  Old Mrs. Reiner delivered the milk in quart mason jars. She wore knee-high rubber boots and pulled a child’s wagon from her farm a mile up the clay road.

 By the time I was ten, my brother seven, and our sister five, we were sent away on Saturday afternoons to see a double feature movie, a couple of cartoons, and a Batman serial.  We were given eleven cents each for the tickets, and an extra nickel for sweets. Five cents went nowhere at the concession inside the theater, whereas at one of the grocery stores along the way a penny would buy enough whip licorice in red and black to make a cat-o’-nine-tails, a roll of candy coins in all flavors, and little peppery hearts for Sue.

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There’s a Place

Here’s an autobiographical story that Carol sent to me two days ago.

Patrick’s Cairn

There’s a place on the north coast, up high on the forest clad cliffs above the aqueous blue – your beloved Mediterranean. Its early morning in autumn, and I know I will find you there. It’s my gateway to memories.

As I leave the valley floor,and climb the twisting road, I’m watched by thousands of tortured olive trees wearing their leaves of grey and silver. The only bright color is falling from the roadside elms, in tones of orange and yellow skittering on the tarmac. Continue reading “There’s a Place”

Certified Letter

Here’s a short autobiographical story by Patrick. The file is dated 12 March 2014.

In our little village here in the mountains, there is a post office still. There are two employees, one for sorting incoming mail and preparing outgoing mail, and one for attending customers, who are few. The office is open only in the morning from eight o’clock until ten-thirty, except Saturday when they stay open until eleven.

After they close, both employees begin the rounds delivering the mail. If there is a certified letter or a package that won’t fit in your mailbox, they leave a yellow notice showing in the slot, half in half out of the box. I suppose that is because nowadays when almost everyone has e-mail there is so seldom any mail you might not check. Continue reading “Certified Letter”

The Ballad of the Glonk

The Ballad of the Glonk

In honor of my new status as a grandfather to baby Max, it is time to post

The Ballad of the Glonk

which is a children’s book that Patrick wrote in the 1960s, illustrated by Dan Christoffel. He told me he’d tried to get it published, but the editors of the day didn’t want stories of a single mother protecting her children without having a man coming in to rescue her. Continue reading “The Ballad of the Glonk”

Ringed by Fire and Smoke

Huge flames flicker along the ridges to the north and west of my house. In truth they are probably 10 miles away, but they are bright enough and broad enough, and the winds fierce enough, that I ponder my evacuation plan should the need arise.

I look closely at the distant fires, then climb into the truck in search of dinner with a friend from Alabama who is visiting here on business.

When I return, I decide it’s time to prepare, just in case…. not expecting to flee, but fearing the loss of those remaining bits of Patrick that I hold.

It takes about three hours, three hours to distill into a small collection the things I hold dear. It’s telling, these things I gathered up, Continue reading “Ringed by Fire and Smoke”