I love this accidental photo my son took of himself taking a picture me and my little River dog.
I love this accidental photo my son took of himself taking a picture me and my little River dog.
“Awful nice they let momma and Sissy come visit. Coulda done without seeing my pa though.”
Reverend Frank lifts an eyebrow. “You had visitors today, Junior?”
“Well, yeah. I reckon cause it’s my hanging day and all. Sure was nice to see ‘em one last time. Funny how they looked the same as they did afor they sent me away. Momma pretty a picture. Wore her Sunday best, I can tell. She always wore a flower in her hair for special days. Daisies was her favorite. Sure miss the color. Ever think bout that Gus? There just ain’t no color round here. Everything grey. Even the food.” I laugh. Always been the funny sort, yep that’s me, even in the thick of it.
“It’s me, Junior, Reverend Frank.”
I jerk my head up and give him a good stare. “Well sure, I know that.”
“Is there anything you’d like to confess, my son?”
I slap my leg. “Well now, ain’t that the ten million dollar question. I think I done confessed all there is to confess. Nobody wanted to hear it. You won’t be saying no last rights fer me neither, you hear me Father? I don’t think I’m much of a believer anymore, and I sure as hell ain’t been no follower.”
“The Lord is full of mercy, you can ask for his forgiveness, and it will be granted.”
“See that’s the thing, I can’t ask fer no forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sorry for what I done. Sorry don’t even cover it, but I ain’t asking. Now if He sees fit to have mercy on me, well fine and dandy. He know I done my time, took my punishment and now I’m gonna die for it. I ain’t one to beg, never have been, and I ain’t starting now.”
“That’s not how it works, Junior. You must take Jesus into your heart. His glory will make you weep. I guarantee it.”
“I guess bottom line is I don’t think God gives a rat’s ass about little ole me. I’ve had a lot a time to think, and I done my fair share of praying, but not one thing come of it. I loved the Lord as good as any southern man, but he done turned his back on me. Left me to rot in here. I come in here a young man, but I ain’t young no more.”
“God would never turn his back on you. He loves us.”
I give a whistle. “That’s a mighty strong statement. One I don’t believe for one minute. I gave up on believing long time ago, tell the truth. And I ain’t going to beg for his love just in case it is true. I done what I done, and if there be a hell, then that’s where I’m headed.”
Reverend Frank hung his head. Made me mad. One more person I went and disappointed. I knows I failed. Failed everybody I ever met, but he don’t need to act like that. Ain’t his place to judge, ain’t that right?
“Let me ask you this, Reverend. Now I spent me some time out on the main floor before they put me on the row. Some of those men lot harder in the heart than me. Done a lot of damage out in the world they didn’t get caught for, but that don’t mean they don’t brag about it. Fact is they do. They like sharing every detail.
“Now these same men got tattoos, ya see? Tattoos of the crucifix, tattoos of the Lady Mary, tattoos saying ‘Jesus loves me.’ And they all go to the chapel and pray like the devil was in ‘em, figuring that would get them up to Heaven. Well now I know there ain’t a speck of sorrow in their heart for what they done. I know that if they was to get out they would do it again. Tell me Reverend, them men going to heaven? Even if they got no remorse?”
“I can’t say what is in the mind of God, but I know he has bountiful love, even for those who don’t seem to deserve it. Maybe he loves them the most, because they need him the most. It’s not my place to judge.”
“Well, I’m a judging. Don’t seem like fairness to me. Them fellers, they ain’t good. Not a speck of good in ‘em. That’s why I say, let the chips fall where they may. If he’s a loving God like you say, then he should find a way to open his heart to me without me going to him. I tried that, I tell you. He don’t listen.”
“He listens, my son.” The reverend stands and makes the sign over me. “Would you pray with me?”
“Tell ya I’m done with that. You do what you gotta do and get. I hope death takes ya to Him, I really do. I’ll give ya a wave from down there.”
Here we go. They move me to a little room outside the execution room. I see the chair as I shuffle by. I hear the wood they made it with came straight from the ole gallows, back when they had real hanging days. I wonder just how many ghosts live in that wood. How many poor souls let loose their bowels after praying and begging forgiveness?
Gus lathers up my head and takes a straight razor to what’s left of my hair, then does the same down by my shin.
“What you doing that for?”
Gus won’t look at me. “It’s where they tape the wire. So they get a good connection.” He pats my knee. “It’s best to have a good connection.”
It’s nice to feel a human’s touch, even if it was a man. Lordy the years were long.
There’s a knock at the door, and Gus fetches a heaping plate of fried chicken and biscuits and gravy. My, oh my it smells good.
“Wish I was still on the row so I could share with the boys. Think you could give them some, Gus? Way too much for me here.”
“You know I can’t do that, Junior.”
“Could you eat with me? Sure would like that.”
Gus looks at the door prolly wishing he had a polite way to escape, but he pulls up a chair across from me. “Hate to see it go to waste.”
Can’t believe how much I ate. Figured with one foot at the gates of Hell, I might not have an appetite, but I wolfed that chicken down. Prolly ate six of them biscuits. Lord, that was some good food. I’m gonna make a mess of that chair when the time comes.
“Now if only we had a nice cigarette for dessert. It’s the little things like that I missed most over the years. You smoke, Gus?”
“Used to. They say it’s not good for your health. The wife made me quit.”
I chuckle. “Wouldn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize my health.”
Gus gives me a weird look, and we break out laughing. Now that’s a good feeling. Not much to laugh about, but we make the best of it.
Dear Lord, why they just get down to it? Ain’t never been so scared in my life. Oh Jesus, oh Jesus. I ain’t praying, mind you. Not even at this late date. I’m fearful for the pain. Never been much for pain. Inflicted it was another matter.
I was always a pussy when it come to Daddy. I felt his pain a time or two. I would start to blubber, screaming out “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” even though I ain’t done nothing. Maybe that’s why Sissy always had to step up. She used to take his whippings in silence cause she knew crying would just egg him on.
Kinda like ‘em cats. The more they screamed the louder Billy would laugh. Fuel on the fire, so to speak.
I walk a mile around the little table still littered with chicken and biscuits. All the food I ate bunches up in my gut and afore I know it, it’s coming up. Got most of it in the toilet. Bet that toilet seen more than its fair share of puke.
They’re coming for me. I hear the rattle of the keys as ole Gus opens the door. Everybody awake. I know they is. Ain’t nobody sleep on a hanging day.
“Time to go, Junior.”
“Yes sir, I’m ready.” I say that, but I can’t get my legs to work. There’s a tightness in my throat like a constrictor got ahold a me and was squeezing. Gus grabs my elbow and helps me to my feet. He’s a good fella, for a black man.
“You think you can make it from here?”
I stand up tall. Maybe for once in my life I can be brave. “I’ll try.”
It’s only a dozen steps, but it seems like it takes a lifetime. Or maybe no time at all. They sit me in that chair with wire and straps hanging all over it. Gus steps back and finally looks me in the eye. I just barely make out a nod. He was saying his goodbye.
They strap down my arms, my legs, and run a couple round my middle. I hear the electricity makes a man dance something fierce.
They wrap something around my leg that’s connected to a thick wire snaking over to a big ole switch on the wall. They put this leather contraption on my chin and around my head. Look like the muzzle ole man Hinckey kept on his fighting dogs.
Lastly they take a sponge soaking in some water and put it on my head, fit me with this helmet-like thing that has more wires running out of it. They strap it down tight. Water runs down my face into my mouth. Tastes like a river of tears.
Sitting on the other side of the room is a half dozen folks. The only one I recognize is my lawyer. There’s a man and woman I reckon is the little girl’s folks. There ain’t two tears between ‘em all. Can’t sees I blame ‘em. I been gone too long for anyone to mourn me. None of my family is attending. I guess one visit in all these years was plenty.
I reckon it’s a good thing. From what I hear bout the procedure, it ain’t no picture show. Nothing you want to watch over and over again. The lucky ones die first try, but I hear some take a couple jolts to finish the job.
The clock on the wall gives me nine more minutes.
Jesus, why can’t they just throw the switch?
The phone sitting on the table don’t ring. Like there was a chance in hell the governor gave a shit about a piss-ant like me. There’s a clank, clank, clank from down on the row. The boys’ way of saying goodbye. I’m a’shaking, I can’t lie. I don’t wanna die. Jesus take me. Oh Jesus. My heart keeps time with the tribute on the row.
One of the guards puts a black mask over my head. I’m glad it ain’t Gus. Oh Jesus, oh Jesus, oh Jesus.
The first bolt rips through me. Holy mother of God.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the legal execution of Butch Walker, Jr. Time of death, 12:24am. Please exit the room.”
Sissy left me quicker than sand through a sieve. Don’t recall Ole Gus coming for her. Guess maybe I fell asleep. I do that.
Sleep is my best friend. Ain’t always easy cause of the sobbing down along the row. Some of these sad-sacks still got hope. I done give up on hope long ways back. Hope ain’t nothing but a gut ache. Nothing but a thousand knives in yer heart twisting and poking and reminding you that you ain’t nothing nobody wants. Ain’t nothing but a speck a shit on the shoe of society.
Sure, they lawyer you up, schedule appeals, put you on the docket, but none of it means a damn. Hope is what kills ya in here. Hope is what takes yer mind and plays tricks on ya.
Naw. None of that shit fer me. I done put my hope away. Hid it so deep under my skin I would have to cut it out with a blade.
Thinking, now that’s something ya can’t shut off. You’d think a person would run out of shit to think about, especially since nothing new ever happens in here.
I think a lot bout Billy Thompson. Me and him used to run together. He was a mean some-bitch, tell you what. Cats was his favorite target. Folks on our street knew it was Billy when their tom disappeared, but not many had the courage to confront him, Lord no. Billy had himself a reputation, that’s for sure. Suppose I did too, since I run with him.
Anyway, he was real inventive when it came to cats. Lots of times kerosene played a part. Lordy those thing would scream! I member ole Billy rolling on the ground laughing and wiping tears. They would tear around the parking lot bumping into cars all the while screaming like the devil. Looking back, seems fortunate we never set nothing else on fire in the process. Or got caught as much racket we made.
Here’s a fact for ya, I got a thrill outta what me and Billy done to them animals. I knows it was cruel, but I had a lot of cruel living inside me. He unlocked a part of me that the Lord knows didn’t need to be unlocked.
But he didn’t give me the idea to do that little girl. Daddy did. Or maybe it been hiding inside me since I was born just waiting for the opportunity. Little girls ain’t suppose to be walking round all by themselves at night. Where was that girl’s momma?
Sounds like I’m making excuses, and I guess I am. I used to blame her folks. If they had just been taking care of her better then I couldn’t have done it. But I don’t feel that way no more. It’s my fault, that broken part of me that can’t be fixed.
My only possession I give a lick about is my newspaper clippings. Gus been kind enough to share his paper with me on the days he’s here. I point out the articles I want and he cuts ‘em out and lets me keep ‘em. Sometimes he finds a good one and brings it in fer me. He a good man, that Gus.
They’s all from the local Scottsdale Tribune which ain’t too far from where I grew up. You think me being this close to home I woulda had a visitor or two. I mean, I did at first, but they tapered off quick enough. Till today, I can’t remember the last person who come to see me.
I won’t lie. I’m glad they quit coming. I don’t want a reminder that there’s an outside world. Them first years you think about what other folks might be doing, like going to the picture show or having a picnic, but no good come of it, Lord no. That’s when the crying starts, and once it starts it real hard to close up the dam.
I’ll let ya in on a little secret. I got me a son. Only met him once, and he don’t know I be his daddy, but I know and all ‘em clippings are about him.
His name is Jacob, and he turned out fine despite having some of me in him. Fact he sort of a big shot, sharp as a tack, captain of the football team and the basketball team. Well at least he was. I’m sure he out of high school, maybe even went to college. Imagine that? A son of mine going to college? I never finished high school myself. Had to get me a job, then that little girl come walking along.
His success just proves to me that I ain’t all bad, that there’s a part of me that’s worth dog spit.
“Momma, toll ya not to come.” She never was one to listen. Hard-headed she is. Always was, prolly always will be.
“Hate having ya see me like this. You pretty as a picture. Daddy said you was a looker, and he was right.”
Momma blushed. “Now I wasn’t gonna let you leave this world without seeing ya one last time.” Tears filled her eyes. “My baby boy and all. Stand back and let me look at ya.” She clicked her tongue. “What they feeding you, boy? You look like the scarecrow down on Mr. Jetter’s farm.”
“Momma?” Tears I’ve been holding back for years finally break loose. “I’m afraid. I don’t wanna die. He gonna send me to Hell for what I done. Sweet Jesus, I’m going to hell. Don’t matter how sorry I am. I deserve to burn.”
“Now honey, God’s got a forgiving heart.”
“I ain’t asking for forgiveness.”
My momma looked at me like I was from Mars. “Well, they’s still time, boy, they’s still time.”
“I just can’t. You believe in hell, momma?”
“I do, but baby, I think you been in hell the whole time you been here.”
“You ain’t wrong, but I’m sure they’re levels of hell carved out special for some of us.”
“Them be the levels for those who don’t repent, Junior.”
Momma brings out a Bible from her purse. Shoulda known. She never went far without one. Growing up, we never knew when the power of the Lord would strike her. I always wondered where the Lord was when daddy was giving her a beating. She pulls me in her arms, but I can’t say I feel it much. She feels like a cloud around me. Then she’s gone like she never been there. I rock myself back and forth making believe she still with me.
Had the nicest dream. Well, any dream is nice. Anything that takes ya away from these walls. I dreamed about Brenda Jenkins from seventh grade. Boy howdy, did I have a crush on that gal. She had the nicest lips and smelled like fresh air and sunshine. I used to sit behind her in civics class and lean in to smell her hair if I thought I could get away with it. I would leave my hand at the front my desk just hoping her hair would touch it.
She was always nice to me even though our family was one of ‘em that people warn ya bout, wrong side of the track and all.
One time on Valentine’s Day I got a card. All the other kids got cards, but usually not me. I know it was her give it to me even if it wasn’t signed. She was that kind of girl. I didn’t have the nerve to ask her. I just liked thinking it was her.
I never was sweet on anyone else, not even Sherry. Sherry let me have her. That’s why I did that. Billy told me a girl couldn’t get pregnant the first time, and Sherry toll me it was her first time. I didn’t care. Just wanted to get my pecker wet.
But Brenda weren’t nothing like Sherry. Brenda was like butterflies. Sherry was one of them crows on the fence cawing at ya. Girl couldn’t keep her trap shut even when I was going after it.
“Hey Junior, you doing all right?”
Chuck was locked up in the cell across the way from me. He in here for murdering all four of his kids. Said God told him to do it. Anyway, me and Chuck spent hours talking quiet. They don’t like us talking at all saying it’s part of the punishment, but when Gus is on duty we can get away with it. Me and him been here the longest. Got pretty close over the years.
I sit down on the floor next to the door and peek out the food tray slot. “I’m doing all right, I spect. Doing the same as yesterday and day before. Glad we’re finally getting to it, if you know what I mean.”
He did. If anyone did, Chuck did. We talk about ways to take our own lives like we was decided what kinda ice cream to eat. We both agreed doing it quick-like is the best. I picked a gun. Figure can’t be much pain if yer brains scattered to high heaven.
Didn’t matter much. If I had figured out a way to end it, I woulda done it years ago. There was a time I felt real bad, like real bad. Bashed my head against the wall a time or two, but all that did was get me a trip to the psych ward and I tell you what, that made me appreciate my eight by ten.
Not to mention the treatments. Guess I got a preview of tonight’s activities. I don’t mind being dead, kinda looking forward to it, but the getting there got me worried some. They say you soil yourself, and I pride myself for having clean drawers, like I said afore. They say you can ask for a diaper. A diaper, believe that? Not sure what would be more embarrassing, wearing a diaper or shitting my pants.
Ain’t that a weird worry, now? I worry bout that more than heaven or hell.
“Hey Chuck, I just had me an idea. I’d like to give you my newspaper clippings, I mean if you want ‘em. You don’t have to take ‘em. He ain’t yer kid, but you’ve known about him about as long as me.”
“Chuck, you there?” I hear Chuck blowing his nose.
“Yeah, I’m here. I’d be honored, Junior. I’ll keep track of Jacob for you, for as long as I can, if you know what I mean.”
“I do. That’s be fine, just fine. I like thinking that, you watching over him for me. You a good man, Chuck. I know ya is. You and me, we just got a bad shake on life.”
“That we did, Junior, that we did.”
It’s never all the way dark in here. Like they’s worried bout what we’ll do without the light. Like it could be any worse than what we done out there.
Think every one of us murdered somebody. I only done the one, but I did her up right. Did her up so good they couldn’t identify her body for weeks. Now they got all that new-fangled computer technology and such. Prolly coulda pulled me off the street by the look in my eye, for all I know. Been in here so long don’t rightly know what year it is, let alone what they been inventing.
All I know is they caught me, and I confessed. I knew I done wrong. Can’t tell ya why I even done it. Something inside me just made me do it. Like there was somebody else taking hold my hand, guiding that knife. I heard her screams, but they was like in a different room of my brain. Does that make sense? Prolly not.
Round here, down on the row, we call ‘em hanging days. Course they quit hanging folks years back. Too cruel and unusual they says, but I reckon whatever brung us here in the first place, well, let’s just say we deserve cruel and unusual. Maybe me more than any of them for what I done to that little girl. Don’t know why they waited around this long to finish me off.
I start my day out slow. They give me a brush and some paste. Every day I make sure I get my teeth pearly white. Want ‘em to last, ya know. I go bout my routine: making my bed, doing my exercises, rinsing out my extra pair of underwear. I like me a clean pair every day. Just cause I’m in here don’t mean I can’t be clean.
They give me my breakfast bright and early, but I don’t wolf it down like I used to. I cut it up in tiny pieces. Make myself wait. Then give myself a little reward throughout the day. Pretty sorry excuse for entertainment, I know, but any distraction is better than nothing.
I run my hand through my hair, or what’s left of it, trying to tame the mess in the back. When you is young you got hair, you got your looks, you on top of the world, but life sneaks up and steals a strand here and there and adds wrinkles when you ain’t looking. Pretty soon the person who stares back at ya from the mirror is a stranger. Things you done in your past just memories that twinkle at you like stars in the sky, too far away to mean much, but you still hold ‘em dear.
Not that I got a mirror, Lordy no, they don’t give out no sharp objects down here on the row. The shiny sheet of metal bolted to the cell wall does good enough for me, in fact the blurry face staring back is pretty much what I member bout my time. Days blurred to weeks blurred to months. You get the picture. I look back, and I don’t member nothing since I been here. I swear it. Yesterday same as day afore and same as day afore that. Time lost all meaning years back.
I got too much time, or at least I did up till today. Used to count out the seconds, mark ‘em down in my mind adding up the minutes, and piling ‘em up to make hours. Never made it through a whole day, though. Me and math never did get along too well. Now I couldn’t give even give ya a number as to how many years I been here. Don’t want to know, Lord no. Those kinda facts might make a man crazy.
My lawyer feller shows up just like always, all sad and feeling bad for me.
“I’ve put in a final call to the Governor for a Stay of Execution.”
“Now why you go and do that for? Ain’t I been in here long enough? Ain’t you getting tired of fighting for me? I know I’m tired. Tired of counting out them bricks, tired of reading the same ole books, tired of that shit they call food. Why can’t ya just forget about me like everyone else done?”
“Junior, I can’t. There are reasons why you shouldn’t be executed.”
“You saying I ain’t right in the head, but I know what I done. I’d like to think I’m ready to go. Like to think that there’s some kinda higher power who’ll show some mercy, but that don’t seem likely. I don’t deserve no mercy.”
“Don’t you want to live?”
“I ain’t lived a day since I been on this row. You think I got problems with my head? Well, damn straight I do! This row got all sorts of brain problems. The ones of us that been able to escape into our minds are the lucky ones, let me tell you. We all been dead the moment they locked us up.”
“I have to represent you, Junior. I have to do what’s in your best interest.”
“Best interest be damned. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all you done, but it’s time for you to get. Find yourself some other fool who got a chance, cause I done used up all my chances.”
His heavy sighs just piss me off, like I’m a disappointment to him, like I’m his failure. Well boy, I done failed long afor this whipper-snapper ever got a law degree.
“I’m sorry, Junior. I did what I could.”
“Don’t you go blaming yourself, now. I got no complaints about you. I’m fine. Fine as rain.”
“There’s a few things you need to sign before you… before I go. This paper explains that your… You will be… your final resting place will be in the state cemetery outside the prison gates.”
“Don’t get all choke up, boy, I know I’m gonna die tonight. No need to sugar-coat it.”
He clears his throat and takes a glance around the eight by ten room. “This form identifies who gets your possessions.”
I cackle to high heaven. “Lordy Lord, there ain’t nobody that wants a worn out copy of Old Yeller and my newspaper clippings. Burn all of it with me. Write that down on yer paper. Burn it all.”
“All right then.” He sticks out a hand, and I shake it. “I’ll be in the witness room. I’ve contacted your family few weeks back, but I didn’t hear from them. I’ll be there for you though, Junior. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Think you done all you could, sir. Good luck with yer career and all.”
“Daddy, is that you? Can’t hardly recognize you.”
“It’s been long time, boy. You was just a skinny thing last time we seen each other. What you go and do? Why they put you in here?”
“Kilt a little girl. Did more than that to her.” I’d run over the picture show of the murder in my mind a thousand times. Hell, a million times. “She was my first, you know? Pretty sure I was her first, too, being as young as she was, and the way she fought me.”
“Now why would you go and do something like that for? You go to hell for that.”
“Learned it from you, daddy.”
“I got no idea what you talking about.”
“Everybody in town knew it was you, but ya got ole Leroy down at the bar to vouch for ya, but I seen ya. Seen ya haul that girl by the hair behind the bleachers. Emily Sue Cartright was her name. Yep, I member it good even if I was just a kid. She weren’t much older than me at the time.”
Daddy leaned back against the cell wall. “Ain’t nobody prove nothing.”
“Nope. I guess you was the smart one, not like me going and getting myself caught and all. Don’t make it any less true though. And I seen the way you treated Momma. You was always making her cry, cry like the devil was in her. She always toll us she hit her head or fell or some such nonsense. Us kids, we didn’t want to think you was knocking her around, but we weren’t stupid. How come you so evil, daddy? How come you made me evil? It just ain’t fair.”
“Shut your trap, you rotten little liar. You never had a lick a sense. You ain’t too old for me to teach you a lesson.” He starts to unbuckle his belt.
“You kin keep yer belt on, daddy. Ain’t nobody listen to a thing I got to say. Anyhow, it too late for Emily Sue. Too late for that little girl I did. Just want to know why I got that bit of ya in me. I know there’s good too, but that bad speck took over. Me and her never stood a chance.”
“Stop yer whining, boy. What I always say? You ain’t worth the shit stain on my drawers. Don’t surprise me none you ended up here.”
The door to my cell opened and ole Gus came in carrying my lunch. This was a treat. Usually he just slid it through the slot at the door.
He ignored my daddy who took his chance to escape without so much as a goodbye. Good riddance, I guess. Don’t know why he bothered to show his face now. Maybe just to rub in the fact that’s he’s free, and I ain’t. That would be just like him.
“I brought you a cupcake. My Polly made some last night, and I thought you might like one.” Gus held up a glorious dessert covered in a thick layer of chocolate frosting. “Hope you like white cake. I had her put chocolate on top just in case you don’t.”
“Why that’s awful nice of you folks.” I took it with both hands careful not to drop it on the filthy floor. “You tell Miss Polly thank you. She just wasting a sweet on me, ya know.”
“You been a good man all the time I’ve known you, Junior. Never caused a fuss, not one time. Wished it could have turned out different for you.”
“Getting what’s coming to me, that’s all. Just wish it hadn’t taken so damn long.”
“Well, enjoy. Have you figured out what you want for supper yet? Anything you want, you know.”
“I been itching for some fried chicken and biscuits and gravy. You think you could russle some of that up?”
“Sure thing, Junior, sure thing.”
“Sissy! Man oh man, is it good to see you! Been a long while now hasn’t it?”
“Sorry, I ain’t been to see ya, baby brother, you know how it is.”
“Well you’re here now, that’s what counts. Sit down for a spell. Don’t have nothing to offer ya cept a drink of water.”
“Don’t worry bout it none. Just came to see ya off.”
“Well I sure have missed ya. Seem like it been years since I had company. They ain’t never let anyone come into my cell afore. How ya been? How the kids? Reckon they all growed up by now.”
“Kids are good. Little Jack done broke his leg last summer, but he healed up all right.”
“Sissy, you ain’t changed a bit. After all these years, you don’t look a day older. Taking care of yourself, I reckon.”
“Living the good life. High on the hog and all.”
I didn’t know what else to say. We sat there looking at each other, but it wasn’t uncomfortable like. Fact it was kinda nice. Kinda like when we used to share the tire swing when we was just kids. It was a great big tire and our skinny butts fit in there fine. Kinda snug, but kinda comfy, too.
“Member that big ole tire swing, Sissy?”
Her face brightened. “I do. We used to have us a fine time.”
“You ever go back there? It still there? I betcha them young’uns of yours would like it just fine.”
“Don’t rightly know. You know momma sold off the place after daddy run off.”
“That’s right.” I tap my skull. “Sometimes things get a bit mixed up in the ole noggin.”
Daddy never was good for much more than drinking, cussing, and smacking us around went he got a belly full. Loved his whiskey a lot more than he ever loved us.”
“Ya know, he came to see me today. Sat right when you sitting now.”
Sissy’s lip curled like she done smelt month old milk. “He was here? Right here? He got a lot a nerve showing up like nothing happened, like he never left us high and dry.”
“Better him leaving than staying.”
“Well, you got that right.”
“Glad you’re here. Gives me a chance to thank you for all you did fer me.”
“I ain’t done nothing.”
“Ya say that, but ya know ya did. More an once you took the heat fer me, and Daddy let ya have it.”
“Had to, Junior.” Sissy’s face turned red trying to hold back the tears. “You was so scrawny. He woulda broke ya in two.”
“And mommy never was right after daddy run off. Like he punched the life right outta her. I wished I’d knocked his lights out. I mean, what I got to lose?”
The numbers grow, but all we know
are thoughts and prayers.
But all your cares
won’t change the fact, we won’t react.
So step aside
and let them die.
Cause when we wail to no avail,
it happens more…
They die by scores.
To blame the brain is just a game
a sparkly muzzle
to hide the guzzle
cause rule of greed is all they heed.
My right to arm
and do your daughter harm…
The NRA has won the fight, cause we’re the rube who won’t do right.
On ending violence,
we all fall silent.
LunaPic Oh my god, this is the graphics app you need, and it is FREE!
Look at these effects!
Look at these animation options!
I’ve been using Paint, like an idiot. I’m excited. Can you tell? Graphics for the graphics-challenged
South Dakota is a hidden treasure. Sure we have Mt. Rushmore, but that’s not what makes it special. We have Crazy House Monument and the Badlands, Harney Peak and Jewel Cave. My favorite treasure in the Black Hills is Iron Mountain Road, one path that leads to Mt. Rushmore. Its corkscrew highway and massive timber bridges are a testimony to the perseverance of man to dominate nature. It winds its way through Custer State Park. There are several one-lane tunnels one of which frames Mt. Rushmore in the distance.
I remember the tiny library in Martin, South Dakota, where I grew up. The books I wanted were on the first of two aisles, eye-level. The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley.
My first career goal: jockey. A dream blasted by the age of twelve by Swedish genetics.
Born to a long line of educators, the love of knowledge and the written word was something expected of me, and I embraced it by reading War and Peace in the bathtub at the age of eleven or twelve. Growing up, my sisters had plenty of books for me to borrow, but the wild west used to be a time when reading was a privilege and sometimes the only book was the Bible.
In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt Works Progress Administration created the Pack Horse Library Initiative to help Americans become more literate so that they’d have
a better chance of finding employment. Riders would ride up to 120 miles per week to deliver books, magazines, and newspapers. This link has some great pictures of female librarians on horseback during that period. The program was suspended in 1943 with the start of WWII.
There are 150 Human Libraries around the world. I love this idea, the exchange of knowledge and experience while looking the author in the eyes, seeing their tears of anguish or joy. This is how stories should be told, especially the true ones.
They are each sitting at a round table and wearing yellow silk sashes with “book” written across. A dozen people have volunteered to become part of this human library set up in the London headquarters of an NGO called Crisis. They have all been through hard times. Some took drugs; others lived in the street or suffered from mental illnesses. They have put themselves at the public’s disposal and can be “borrowed” for half an hour, enough time to learn a little about their experience.
The Guinness Book of World Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from public libraries.