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Thread: Tales of woe and joy from Joseph

  1. #1
    joseph engraver
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    Tales of woe and joy from Joseph

    The Knot in the Back

    I was eight years old when I was taken from the farm and my Great Aunt Lillian’s care. My half sister Helen and I went to live with a mother and stepfather I did not know named Ernest in an apartment on Gillis Street in Nashua New Hampshire... There whippings came on a regular basis, prompted by my bedwetting. I would go to bed, dream terrible things and wake up soaked. Ernest would wake me up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet then stand over me as I tried to urinate. Once in his desperation he came to the toilet with the butcher knife and threatened to cut it off.
    Believe me that did not help one bit. Another night he took me in his car to the Canal Street Bridge and, held me over the side. “You see that river down there? If you don’t stop pissing the bed, I’m going to throw you in it.” As I stared down into the black waters Merrimack I was sure that he would. I promised to stop; he put me back in the car and drove home. That you can be sure did not help either. Ernest, who was Catholic, placed me in a boy’s school run by nuns.
    I remember that silent house with the cross on the top of it clearly. It was a large two-story building made of dark red bricks and cold black stone floors. There was a cafeteria with many wooden tables and long hard benches. Three times a day we all would all kneel on those stone floors and in unison say our prayers. ‘Hail Mary full of Grace; The Lord is my Sheppard I shall not want” I hated it, I hated the prayers, I hated the nuns, I hated the nightclothes I was made to wear. And most of all I hated the dormitory because every night the nuns would tie a towel around my waist and make a big knot in the middle of my back. This was supposed to keep me from sleeping on my back, which was supposed to keep me from wetting the bed. No water after supper was also another of the house rules. I would go to bed every night to snickers and laughs of all the other boys. All of this misery and still I wet the bed like Old Faithful.

  2. #2
    Registered User DATo's Avatar
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    Hi Joseph

    Check your "Notifications" for a private message from me.


    Nice story by the way !

    - DATo

  3. #3
    joseph engraver
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    MY FIRST CAR
    1972, One hot Texas afternoon in San Antonio, I stopped at the A&W drive-in for a Root Beer Float. It was to my misfortune that I met a cute brazen brunette Carhop whose name was Mary Lu. We started flirting and I asked her if she wanted to go out for a ride in my newly purchased 1946 Ford when she finished work. I was eighteen and dressed in my Air Force blues, full of myself and very proud of my first car even though it was thirteen years old. She agreed and we made a date. Later I picked her up from the drive-in and we headed off to the lake.
    It wasn’t long before we were kissing and holding onto each other like familiar lovers. Then it wasn’t much longer before we were in the backseat becoming familiar lovers. I don’t know who wanted sex the most. I’m sure we needed each other at that moment.
    I was with her every free moment I had and she was willing to have it that way.
    She took me home to meet her mother, a divorcee living in a small house in the Barrio district of Abilene. The lady greeted me with great approval and even supplied us with contraceptives.
    It was a few days later that I had the brilliant idea of teaching Betty Lou how to drive. We drove out into the countryside. Found a dirt road, which wasn’t hard to do in West Texas, and urged her to start driving. With my woman behind the wheel of my first car I felt like a real big shot. I showed her to use the clutch and the brake and how to start my car moving slowly down the road. While she guided the Ford down the road and back to the edge of town I showed he how to shift gears. A few blocks from where she lived, she pulled over to the side saying she was afraid to drive any closer to the town.
    “Aw, c’mon baby, you can do it. Don’t be chicken.” I urged. She put the car back into first and got it rolling again. As we approached the corner of the street that led to her house I said, “See there is nothing to it baby. All you have to do is turn the wheel to the left and go slowly around the corner.” She made a half of turn and then froze.
    My beautiful Ford was headed straight for the iron post that had the name of the street on top of it. I reached over and tried to push the steering wheel to the left to correct the angle we were heading in. But, Mary Lu held the wheel in a death grip.
    “Step on the brake!” I yelled in panic. Her foot missed the brake pedal and she drove the accelerator pedal to the floor. The tires squealed as the Ford’s V8 came to life, down went the street sign, and about twenty feet of white picket fence belonging to the house adjacent to it.
    I managed to get the car into neutral. With the engine roaring we came to a stop in the ditch. I got hold of the keys and shut off the motor. Mean while Betty Lou has jumped out of the car crying and has run across the street into her mother’s house, disappearing behind the closing front door.
    From out of the smoke, steam and dust appears the owner of the destroyed fence. He is yelling at me in Spanish but I can’t understand a word. By then I am out of my car staring at the white washed two by four protruding from my broken grill. The same white two by four that had one end embedded deeply into my gushing radiator. I am standing there naked except for a white g-string bathing suit. The Mexican is still yelling while I was about to wet myself.
    Help arrived in the person of Betty Lou’s mother. She calmed the Mexican down and then we all surveyed the damage. Her mother decides that we can use her car to push me out of the ditch.
    With the Mexican providing guidance, the huge bumper of her Buick “Road Master” is aligned with that of my beloved Ford. I get in, put the car in neutral and signal I’m ready.
    Mrs. McCallum then steps on the gas, her bumper slides over mine and my fender crumples. We all stop I get out to survey and the new damage.
    The Mexican has a better idea. We can hook a chain around the rear bumper to pull me out the way I entered. He brings a long chain from somewhere and like a good helping neighbor hooks it around the rear bumper of my smoking Ford.
    After a bit of maneuvering and with hand signals from the Mexican, Betty Lu’s mom´s rear bumper is lined up and the chain attached. I climb once again into my poor Ford, grab the steering wheel and signal I’m ready. The chain tightens; my car starts to roll backwards. Suddenly there is a metallic ripping sound. I looked over the backseat and at the floorboards. Coming up through them is post of the mangled street sign. I stomp on the brake as hard as I can, yelling, ‘Stop! Stop!’ Betty Lou’s mom feels the resistance and decides that more power is needed. She presses the gas pedal to the metal. Tires smoke and scream; the chain snaps under the strain and with the accuracy of a guided missile came whipping up at my beautiful white, waxed and polished wreck, taking out the back window. After much crying on my part, the piece of chain is hooked onto the front bumper and with more ripping sounds, the car is pulled out of the ditch and onto Betty Lou’s mother’s driveway.
    Accompanied by Betty Lou’s crying, we all stood there surveying the wreckage. I promised to fix the Mexican’s fence as soon as possible. Then leaving the car as it is, I retrieved my uniform from the back seat, slipped my pants over my bathing suit, finish dressing in the yard and got Betty Lou’s mother to drive me to the main gate of the Air Force base where caught a ride to my barracks, finally showing up for my tour of duty, two hours late.
    I was reprimanded and had to appear before the commanding officer the next morning. I show up expecting to be imprisoned for the next twenty years. I was allowed to give a brief statement explaining my reasons. Hoping for sympathy I explained in great detail the misfortunes that had just landed on my shoulders. The Captain has heard worse tales of woes than this, and I am restricted to the base for thirty days.
    Having been given thirty days restriction caused other problems larger than my wrecked car. Betty Lou was frantic. Her lover had disappeared and had not been heard from in over a week. He couldn’t call her of course because she had no phone. She was sure that his departure from her life was due to the destroyed Ford. In hopes of finding a way to contact him, she went searching through the Ford’s glove box, encountering several letters written to me from my mother. Taking the name and address off those letters she decided to write my mother a glowing letter introducing herself and professing her love for me, and! Informing my mother that we would soon be wed. My mom, with her usual direct no-nonsense approach called the base commander who then in turn called the base chaplain. Who then in turn called my commanding officer, who contacted me by way of my 1st Sergeant.
    I had just finished my first shift of guard duty and was headed to the mess hall when the 1st Sergeant caught up to me. Hey you!” he growled. I stopped dead in my tracks. I could sense that something was definitely amiss and I was about to find myself in more hot water. “Get your *** over to the chaplain’s office on the double.”
    “Yes sir,” I said and I took off at a lope, heading to the chapel which was two blocks away. A short while later I’m standing in front of the chapel, heart pounding with anxious worry. I could not imagine why I was being summoned by the Chaplain. After I caught my breath, I entered the chapel and located the office. The door was open and I could see the Chaplain sitting at his desk. I knocked on the door frame and he looked up at me. I’m sure he was thinking, ‘You sure are a dumb kid, as he read my nametag.
    “Come in Airman”. He said. I entered the room, approached the desk and putting on my bravest face, saluted him sharply.
    “Airman, 2nd class, J.R. Lavernois, reporting as ordered.”
    “I have been informed that your mother is very concerned about your activities with a girl named Betty Lou McCallum. Do you know such a girl?”
    “Yes sir” I replied standing at full attention. The captain looked at me directly in the face.
    “Are you in love and are you going to marry?”
    “Sir,” I explained. “I just met her about three weeks ago at a drive-in. I am not thinking about marriage, besides she wrecked my car and is responsible for my restriction to the base. I don’t think I want to see her again, ever .Sir”
    “That’s good to know, son,” said the Chaplain. “Because in five days you are being transferred to Europe.”
    “What about my car?” I asked.
    “That’s a problem you’ll have to resolve on your own, but I discourage you from any further contact with the girl.” ****, Damn, and all the rest of it.
    The next day I went around the barracks looking for someone to buy the car. Finally the day before I shipped off to France, I signed the title over to my dorm mate and gave it to him. I sure loved that white Ford and had kept it washed and waxed, chrome and hub caps shined.
    It was a great car until that fatal day when Betty Lou McCallum took the steering wheel.

  4. #4
    joseph engraver
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    The Ghost of Castle Fosdinovo
    I have never believed in ghosts or apparitions. That is until I stayed at the castle Fosdinovo.
    My wife was planning our itinerary for a trip back to her homeland of Italy. She was looking at bed and breakfasts on the internet when she discovered a castle located in Liguria that not only rented rooms but offered the guests the opportunity to roam about the property as they wished. ”What do you think about staying in a castle for a couple of nights dear? It is located high up in the hills overlooking Sarzana and seems to have a wonderful restaurant and a stupendous view of the Liguria coast and,
    It says here that it was built in the thirteenth century” That was enough to convince me. “My dear, I think that would be very interesting provided our budget will afford it; it sounds like it will be a great experience.”
    After emails, plane tickets, deposits and a car were rented we left our home on the Pacific coast of Mexico and made the trip.
    The owner Pietro Malaspina met us at the narrow Gothic stone archway with granite columns as we drove through in a rented roller-skate made by Fiat. True to the ads description I could see the Liguria coast, the plains of the river Magra and the ancient cities of Sarzana and Lerici twenty kilometers below.”You can put your car up there” he said, pointing to a steep stone road that led to a very small level parking lot that once was a stabling yard. “We do not open till three P.M. and you are twenty minutes early.”Muttering something about Italian precision I got back in the car and Franca navigated up an even smaller roadway that was just wide enough to allow us to make it past the walls of our home for the next two nights. Up we went, the side mirrors just barely missing the castle walls.
    As we waited for the owner to show up we decided to explore a bit, we walked back down the road and found a small sign that indicated that the two huge wooden iron bound doors were the main entrance to this forbidding place. One of the doors was ajar and I was very interested to see what the place looked like inside. We went up a worn causeway through the doors and followed the granite steps ever upward into the eerie gloom. Along the walls were ornate sconces that held unlit torches. At the top of the stairs were two more massive doors which were locked shut? As we retraced our steps down I noticed a small opening in the wall. “Let’s see what is in here” I said to Franca.
    I looked inside but could see nothing for it was as dark as a dungeon. I dug a lighter from my pocket and flicked it on. In its glow I realized that it was a jail cell and a spooky feeling came over me. I got out my camera and took a picture then backed out of the room and we went to meet Signore Petro Malaspina whose family have been owners of the castle since it was constructed in 1300 A.D.
    From the parking area the view before us truly was spectacular, I could see all the way to the island of Corsica which was forty miles in the distance. Promptly at three the owner showed up.” Leave your bags in your car, please follow me and I will take you to the registration room.” Following the owner who is also the heir and director he led us to a very small door set into the massive stone wall nearby, unlocked it and led us up a set of narrow set of stone stairs that opened onto a large Renaissance courtyard some fifty meters long framed with Wisteria and Jasmine hanging gardens. At the other end we came to another large heavily reinforced door. Unlocking it he handed us as set of keys. “Here is a flashlight and the keys to all the doors you will need, please return them when you depart, for next two days my castle is your castle." Pointing to a rope hanging down the wall he said “If you should become lost find your way back here and pull this cord and someone will come to lead you to your room.” I had an image Igor the hunchback assistant showing up holding a flaming torch saying “You rang sir, please follow me.”
    At the reception desk we presented our passports, and signed the register. The heir to the castle then led us to another door, unlocked it with a heavy iron key then led us up more stairs past a collection of old tools, weapons, and paintings with a full set of armor standing guard in one corner.
    Up we went past more paintings of nobles and ladies from centuries past. We entered a large room with old but comfortable furniture, more paintings and a wall lined with modern books, a carved marble chess set sat on one shelf. Turning down another narrow unlit corridor he stopped in front of another wooden door, opened it with the large iron key then led us into a very dark room decorated with paintings of a praying nun and a priest on the wall. He went to a shuttered window unlatched and opened it filling the room with afternoon sun shine. Franca immediately went to inspect the bath room and me to look at the view below. “It is wonderful” she said when she returned.
    With that the director said. “Enjoy your stay here, breakfast will be served down the hall on your left from eight thirty till ten and if you should see a ghost don’t be afraid. He is a friendly guy”. Then he left, leaving me to find my way back to the car and haul our luggage up stairs, down corridors, through archways and locked doors then find our room again.
    We spent the day enjoying wandering around the keep and large rooms decorated with mural of Knights in battle and nobles’ holding court. That evening we had a great dinner and I slept well that night.
    The next day was a repeat of the first except for this nightmare dream.
    The Nightmare
    I was watching two children playing in a courtyard. They were running and sliding across cobble stones through a light covering of snow. I started to run with them. Laughing and playing with them I said “I am an old man but I still can run as fast as you can” as I followed after them. They led me to a leafless bush and dark blue canvas that was covered by the light snow. I lifted up the canvas and found a large clear plastic bag. It was tied at the opening with a piece of silk rope and frosted over inside as if by the breath of a living thing. Through the opaqueness I could see a body inside. My first thought was that the animal was a dead dog and someone had left there. Then, the creature inside the bag move and I realized that it was still alive and was suffocating. I tore at the plastic until I had made a hole in it .Inside was not an animal but a naked young girl. I ripped the bag open and pulled the girl from the bag. She was covered in afterbirth. I wiped her face and cleared the moldy slime from her eyes, nose and mouth. As I cleared her mouth with my fingers I saw a jagged gash along the right side of her neck. There was not a drop of blood anywhere and her skin was as white and as cold as marble. Her hair was the color of honey. I took her in my arms and felt the smoothness of her frozen skin. Then she moved, I said to the two children who were standing nearby. “Go for help. Find a doctor.” Meanwhile a large gathering of people had appeared around us. Pietro Malaspina was talking on a cell phone; others were talking to each other but they seemed to not see me and the girl. “Help, I yelled to them. Please find a doctor.
    No one heard or moved.
    I thought that I must yell louder in order to be heard, I screamed “Help” again but it was as if my vocal cords were frozen, I tried to scream again thinking I must make my voice be heard, I still remember trying to clear my throat. I screamed “Help” at the top of my voice and I heard my wife Franca's voice say "Joseph you are dreaming" and I awoke from the most vivid nightmare I have ever had in my adult life.
    On returning to Mexico and my computer I searched “The castle of Fosdinovo” on the web.
    It was then that I discovered that the young rebellious daughter of the Malaspina family in A.D. thirteen hundred had been entombed alive in a cell with a dog and a boar located approximately under the room we rented, and that recent investigations had uncovered the bones of a girl and two animals.
    I know that you who read this will doubt me. To you I say Google it.

  5. #5
    Registered User 108 fountains's Avatar
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    I enjoyed all of these very much, especially the last one. I find reading fiction that is written in the first person to be interesting in that I always wonder how much is actually fiction and how much is drawn from real life. Here, I would guess that "My First Car" is mostly fiction, while the other two are mostly (if not completely drawn from real life). In any case, in my opinion, these are all entertaining and well-written.

    A space between paragraphs would make them easier to read. If you lose the spaces when you paste, you can always go back in to edit and put in the spaces then.
    A just conception of life is too large a thing to grasp during the short interval of passing through it.
    Thomas Hardy

  6. #6
    The Wolf of Larsen WolfLarsen's Avatar
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    I read the first story. Very strong. Very powerful.

    The prose worked well for it's purpose.
    "...the ramblings of a narcissistic, self-obsessed, deranged mind."
    My poetry, plays, novels, & other stuff on Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr...or=Wolf Larsen

  7. #7
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Try to break up your text into logical paragraphs, skipping a space between each one.

    Don't shift verb tenses. Keep to past tense. "I am standing there naked" --"I was standing there" etc.

    These are interesting, but strictly speaking, not really short stories. They sound like anecdotes from a guy reminiscing with his buddies over a cold one. Not that the format's bad, but I'd suggest trying to hone your narrative skill, building up to a climax, etc.

    Try to keep details to a minimum, but if you must include details, make sure they're accurate. For instance, the prayers in the Catholic institution. You got the first line of the Hail Mary correct, but the subsequent line does not appear in that specific prayer. Catholic kids would be familiar with the 23rd Psalm, but wouldn't recite it as a prayer. The word is "shepherd" by the bye; next time you won't forget how to spell it if you remember that it ends in the word "herd."
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 06-07-2014 at 05:44 PM.

  8. #8
    joseph engraver
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    Thank you for responding to my stories. They are actually based on the truth.
    Germany 1958
    Spangdalum Air Force base was a recon outfit for the U.S Air Force in central Germany. The majority of the aircraft based there were F101 fighters, resembling huge, aluminum skinned pterodactyls. They sat gleaming in the moonlight and casting dark shadows upon the tarmac as I made my nightly rounds in supposed vigilance. An M1 rifle, weighing nine pounds, six ounces hung over my shoulder, loaded 45 Colt automatic pistol strapped around my waist, both to become burdensome.
    For me Germany was the same routine as France with the off-duty hours spent in the bars. Like I did in France, I continued on my merry way towards hell.
    Between black marketing, the drinking, gambling and girls I was pooped out when it came time for me to guard a 3.6 million dollar fighter jet.
    First I eliminated the burden of the rifle by turning it into my alarm clock so I could get a bit of sleep. Dressed warmly in parker and flight pants, I would lie on the tarmac underneath the aircraft, rifle balanced on its butt plate , close my eyes and try to learn Deutsch When I dozed off, the rifle would fall with a clatter, waking me from my nap. I’m sure my personnel file read like my school report card: Airman second Class Joseph Robert Lavernois, time in grade: three years, could do much better if he would only apply himself. This is exactly how my English teacher noted my lack of grammatical understanding
    By the time I learned to say “Ein klein bier bitte,” I found myself involved with Anna Lisa, a passionate blue-eyed housemaid for a captain and his wife who lived in the married officer’s quarters... Her bedroom was located in what would have been the attic had it not been partitioned off for the foreign nationals. The captain and his wife lived on the lower level of one of four buildings. Each officer’s family had its own housemaid; meaning nine buxom Frauleins spent their restless lonely nights there. Because of its obvious attraction, it was strictly off limits to enlisted personnel. Rumors were that any Airman caught in those attic apartments was subject to losing his stripes and being sent to Saudi Arabia, Viet Nam or some other God forsaken place. This I understood clearly and had no doubts that these rumors were true.
    One summer’s night Ana Lisa and I were in the midst of making love on the lawn. We were naked, our discarded clothing we had placed as a mattress over the dew covered grass. Suddenly I found myself in the spotlight’s glare of two laughing base patrol air police. After an embarrassing length of time, the spotlight finally extinguished and with a spray of gravel the Jeep sped away, leaving floating in the early morning air the profane laughter of my squad mates.
    All passion destroyed, we began to dress. Ana Lisa said suddenly, “From now on, we make love in my room.” There you have it folks, the entire scenario.
    “We can’t do that, I’ll go to prison. I’ll be court-martialed. I’ll lose my stripes. They’ll send me to Hell.”
    “No, no, no,” assured Ana Lisa. “All you have to do is come up to my room while everyone’s asleep and leave before they awaken.”
    Simple plans for simple minds. What defense could I present to this idea?
    The following night we sat at the local bar drinking beer until 11 or so then went to the apartment complex, Ana Lisa scouted the way while I waited in the garden shrubs. Not seeing anything unusual she waved me forward. Across the lawn I flew, into the doorway and out of sight. Taking me by the hand, she led me up the stairwell to her room. It was furnished with a cot, wall locker, washbasin, and a small window that overlooked the airbase. This small space with angled ceiling and drab walls became my palace of pleasure every time I was free. Each night off found me on that cot, tasting life’s pleasures. If I had a three-day pass I spent it there in the attic room. Ana Lisa would bring me food to eat and we would make love.
    The room next door was occupied by another buxom, blue-eyed blond by the name of Karina. Karina also had her lover encamped in her room. One morning about three o’clock all hell broke loose as Karina’s lover had found a letter written to her from a previous love. This brought on a tirade of jealousy that was enough to wake up half the air base. Being a dumb lad but nevertheless possessing the capacity to reason I realized my situation was not good. I got out of bed, One Eyed Willy quickly becoming Wilted Will. Nervous and naked, still my twenty year old mind was not ready to forget about sex.
    Quickly I dressed and went out into the corridor. The noise in buxom blue-eyed blonds’ room had ended. As I stepped in the hallway I recognized the profile of Sergeant McDowell headed out the door. The tall, dumb, broad shouldered idiot slammed blue eye’s door then he took the steps down and out of the building three at a time. I was sure I had been trapped.
    The Battle of my Body Parts
    Common sense said, “Get the hell out of here right now.”
    One-Eyed-Willy had finally recovered his voice and was arguing for waiting it out.
    “Maybe no one heard,” he whispered.
    “Do you really think so?” Brain responded.
    “Well, what have we got to lose?” Willy argued. “Why not just wait here in this corridor?”
    It was so quiet now that I could hear my poor confused heart banging away inside my rib cage. “What we’ll do is just stay cool. If someone comes up the end stairwell, we’ll go down this one right here,” said Willy.
    We all turned to look at the stairwell.
    Feet had now decided to enter the conversation as they were totally committed to the cause, no matter who won the argument that was now raging in my body parts? Feet said after a minute or two of silence, “I can get us out of here in three, maybe four seconds.”
    Brain declared, “I’m in, we’ll wait it out.”
    “How long should we wait?” asked Reason?
    “Four minutes more,” suggested One-Eyed-Willy.
    “I’d say eight,” suggested Feet.
    Reason suggested fifteen, but was outvoted by Willy and Feet. A compromise was made by Brain for ten minutes of complete silence. Once more united, my twenty-year-old body parts turned to more carnal thoughts.
    “I really liked it when she kissed each and every one of me,” sighed Feet.
    “Me, I like it best, the wet warmth of her inside,” said Willy perking up a bit.
    “Me I just like being held next to one of those sweet nipples,” confessed Reason.
    “How long have we been out here now?” Asked Willy
    “I guess it’s been about five minutes,” Answered Brain.
    “I think that’s long enough,” Reason decided.
    “Shall we go back in?” Suddenly Willy was standing up, staring straight at the door.
    “I’m hot to trot,” injected Feet.
    “United we stand,” Willy declared.
    My hand twisted down the knob to Ana Lisa’s quarters.
    Ana Lisa and I had finally calmed down enough to start hugging and kissing again. I was soon naked again, my civvies strewn all over the room, naked down to my wiggling toes. Back in bed we went, all suddenly well with Willy, Brain, Feet, and Me for we had found our peace.
    Willy had hardly started what he very much wanted to do when the silence shattering knocking began on the locked door to Ana Lisa’s room. (You see, I did learn something from past experiences.)
    “Ana Lisa, open the door. This is your mistress.” More knocking.
    “Open your door this minute. This is your captain speaking.” At the sound of the Captain’s voice, One-Eyed-Willy completely withdrew, leaving Feet and Reason to deal with the consequences. As quickly and quietly as possible I gathered up my clothing, put pants and shirt on and stuffed shorts, socks and tee shirt into the pants pockets. With jacket in my hand I started searching desperately for my shoes. Reason was screaming, “Get your shoes and get the hell out of this place.” The knocking was louder and coming at more frequent intervals. I could not delay my departure from sweet Ana Lisa’s charms any longer. Shoes or no shoes I crawled out the window and up onto the dormer. I was now perched like a plucked eagle on the dark, wet, slippery tile roof of the three story building.
    The view from my perch was breathtaking. I could see everything by the light of the three quarter moon shining opaquely upon the German landscape. Directly across from me were the darkened windows of married officer’s quarter’s number two and three. To the right I had a great view of the entire airfield. It was all very exciting.
    Ana Lisa’s blond head suddenly poked through the window below my perch.
    “I can’t find your shoes,” she said practically in tears.
    “Look once more and if you don’t find them, open the door and let them in,” I groaned. The lock was unbolted and the door to her room opened. Light flashed on, and then I heard “There’s a man in here. There are his shoes under the bed.”
    At this point I positively knew I have a very serious situation to contend with.
    Once again the condemning woman repeated herself. “There’s a man in here. See those shoes are under that bed.”
    “You go down and call the Air Police, I’ll watch the room,” the captain’s voice came loud and clear through the window. Again silence settled down over the building. Very few minutes later I saw two sets of flashing blue lights leave the Air Police Central Command .They went up the perimeter road headed in my direction. I watched in fascination those whirling blue lights until they finally disappearing from my sight as they pulled up in front.
    Well, There I was perched on top of this dormer somewhere in Germany, a twenty-year-old idiot, completely trapped with no place to go but the stockade. I finally calmed down once again and Hope spoke up.
    “Maybe there is another way. Perhaps you could find another attic window open or just smash a glass pane, enter into another room and escape.” Reason scoffed. “We will never make it to the stairwell.” Brain then commented. “Joseph the Fool, two air police patrols equal at least four men, most likely six. Two will be checking out the rooms, the other four watching hallways and the stairwells. You are definitely screwed.”
    Suddenly, the crown of a white top helmet appeared directly below me and looked right; studying the roofline for the dark shaded form of this dummy. After a careful search of that side of the roof, the helmeted head snapped left and continued with its inspection of the dew-covered tiles. All of this activity taking place in slow motion. My mind was racing; the ideas were flowing, matching the pace of the adrenaline entering my body.
    “Well I don’t see anyone out there,” floated the helmeted voice outside the window and into my ear. Had Helmet Head taken the time to look upward during his search, he would have found himself in direct eye contact with Airman Second Class and soon to prisoner J.R. Lavernois, currently on temporary duty from Vouziers, France.
    When young, one has accurate hearing, eagle’s eyesight and the agility of a cat.
    Brain comes up with this misguided idea... The front of this building has a small terrace for each apartment. They were only ten feet above one another. I could go up to the peak of the roof, down the other side, hang by the gutter, drop the remaining meter or so to a terrace, climb over that railing, hang down, drop to the second terrace, jump over the railing into the soft soil and beat feet out of the area.
    As all of this was whirling around in my head, I heard Ana Lisa’s frightened voice asking to go to the toilet. The captain gives her permission to go. Ana Lisa capitalizing on the moment, dashes down the stairs, out the backdoor, across the backyard and disappears into the adjacent building. What to my wondering eyes should appear but Ana Lisa leaning out of her girlfriend’s apartment crying and yelling, “Don’t fall!" Don’t fall!”
    Me across the courtyard waving my arms back and forth whispering, “Shut up! Please, shut up!” She realizes what she’s been doing and suddenly goes silent, but she and her friends continue to watch as me and my disaster continues.
    By now I have been perched on the pointy and uncomfortable piece of the roof for forty minutes. Suddenly a very bright flashlight begins its probing search along the entire roof’s incline. It stops to examine the windows of the other maid’s quarters. Finding nothing, it sweeps onward and continues its scrutiny of the cold wet tiles. Now the dull red glow of a beautiful sunrise has come to the horizon. Daylight is not far away. I must hurry. I must escape. Now the beam of light is but one window away. I pull my black jacket over my head, make myself into the tiniest ball possible and try to hide myself. I close my eyes and wish to disappear. The light finds me, recognizes me, stares at me for a second, then moves on.
    From below whispers reach my ears, indistinct and low. Suddenly a voice, loud and clear, crows, “We may as well go. There’s no one up there.” More whispers in the dark. The sun is rising. I must flee from Anna Lisa and her charms. I have no hope but to go over the roof to the front side.
    I make my dash for the ridge top. I’m halfway there when my bare feet slip out from under me. I start sliding backwards, down toward the eave. I dig in with my fingernails, I break my toenails trying to stop the slide, yet I just keep gathering speed. Suddenly my feet dropped down into the rain gutter. I am face down, spread eagled on that roof, my racing heart trying to break through my ribcage. I could not breathe but in short hoarse gasps. My entire body is paralyzed and unable to move. Soon a handcuff was wrapped around one of my wrists and I am hauled up through the window where other hands grabbed my arms, wrapped them behind my back and slip the shackles around my wrist. This incident definitely put my chances at promotion in jeopardy.
    Barefoot, I was hustled from the room, down the staircase I should have taken earlier,

    I am dragged across the lawn and shoved into the back of a squad car. As we drive away, my

    Fellow squad mates started roaring with laughter. “Boy you are a dumb son of a *****,”

    I am taken to the guardhouse, released from the handcuffs and placed in a cell.

    After the bolts are thrown and I am alone and shoeless, I sit on the cot and let my head drop to
    my chest, close my eyes and think. “Joseph, you surely are a dumb S.O.B.”
    The End

  9. #9
    joseph engraver
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    “FINDING DAD”
    “You know, mother, I was wondering about my biological father.”
    That is as far as I got when mother went ballistic. “Your biological father!” she yelled. “Ernest
    Is your father! He adopted you, can’t you be satisfied, and can’t you ever leave
    well enough alone.”
    “No, mother, I want to know something of my real father, I am thirty-eight
    years old, and for all those years I’ve wondered who the man was. What did he
    Think? What did he do? What was he like?”
    She put her drink on the coffee table, got up from the sofa, walked to the hall
    closet and in a few seconds returned with a small black and white snapshot of a
    man.
    She threw it onto the table, and began to cry.
    “I was only seventeen and it was the first time. You ruined my life. Because of you, I had to leave school. All because of you.”
    She looked at me, sadly shook her head, and wiped the tears away from the corners of
    her hazel eyes with her fingertips.
    “Here” she sighed, “His name is Wallesky, and he lives in Manchester. You
    have caused me grief since you were born, you are a misery to me now, and I wish
    I had never had you. Are you ever going to be satisfied?”
    All through out life I have had difficulty with criticism and rejection. Blame it
    on my childhood, head injuries, whatever. If someone said I could not do something,
    I would try my damndest to prove them wrong. If told I had to do something,
    I would resist past the point of pain.
    Now that this germ of an idea had formed in my mind, I could not let it go. I
    had to locate my natural father, I needed to see him, had to see him, a driving
    curiosity cried to be satisfied.
    That evening, I got a copy of the Manchester, New Hampshire phone book and
    looked up Wallesky. To my surprise there were at least twenty of them listed.
    Thus began the search for a dad I had never known.
    I would dial, someone would answer, and I would introduce myself.
    “Hello Mr. Wallesky?”
    “Yes, who is this?”
    “My name is Joseph, and I would like to ask you a question.”
    “What?”
    “Did you ever go out with a girl named Lilly Beckford?”
    “Huh?” Usually this ended the conversation with a bang. Sometimes, I would
    get further into the questions.
    “I’m not trying to cause any problems sir, but I’m trying to find my father. A
    man named Wallesky dated my mother in 1937 and I am the result. Did you
    know a Lilly Beckford in 1937 or 38?”
    There would be a brief silence and then they would hang up.
    I had worked the way down the list of Wallesky and was starting on the K’s. Wallesky, Karl.
    I dialed the number, a woman answered.
    “Hello?”
    “Good evening, ma’am. My name is Joseph and I’d like to speak to your husband.”
    “I don’t have a husband”
    “I’m sorry. I was calling for Karl Wallesky; must have dialed the wrong number.”
    “Oh, Karl,” she said. “He’s here, just a second please.
    I waited; then heard a muffled voice yell, “Karl, somebody’s on the telephone.”
    Presently, Karl’s pleasant voice came over the receiver. “Hello”
    I came straight to the point. I had repeated the question so many times that it
    was down pat, no stumbling, and no mumbling.
    “Mr. Wallesky, my name is Joseph, I live in Derry. My mother dated a man
    with your last name back in 1937 and I’m the result. I don’t want to cause you
    problems or anything, but did you ever know a girl named Lilly Beckford, sir?”
    There was a dead silence on the phone. I was trying to think of what else to
    say next when he said.
    “By God, you’ve got the right fellow.”. I nearly dropped the phone .Once I recovered my wits I explained once again that I wished to cause him no harm, only to satisfy my
    mind. I offered to meet for lunch or beers.
    “No,” he replied. “Come on up its ok.”
    I found my Dad living in a small but comfortable second floor apartment.
    A trim well dressed blonde woman close to his same age answered my knock on the door.
    “You must be Joseph,” she said. “Come in.”
    Karl had just gotten up from his recliner; he was a short, handsome looking
    man who had aged well. We took a few steps toward each other and then
    stopped. We looked at each other straight in the eyes. Then, a vision I will
    never accurately describe began to whirl through my mind.
    I could see the future standing before me.
    At last I found the missing part of me. Karl was 67 years of age and in conversation,
    told me I had seven half brothers and sisters; I turned out to be a lot
    like my real dad. The woman who had answered the door was Karl’s friend, his
    wife having passed away. He had retired as a supervisor for one of the many shoemaking
    manufacturers in the area
    We talked for a very brief while, perhaps twenty minutes, I told him where I
    lived, and that I worked restoring antique guns for a living.
    Karl’s friend offered me a beer, opened one for herself, gave Karl a fresh bottle, then we sat for a while making uncomfortable small talk. They invited me to stay for dinner, feeling ill
    at ease, and intruding I thanked them, left them my phone number with a promise
    to get back together again for dinner.
    “I’ll give you a call,” were the last words. I heard my Dad say.
    He never did, and I never contacted him again. However, I had finally put a
    very confusing puzzle piece of life in its place.

  10. #10
    Registered User 108 fountains's Avatar
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    Germany 1958 and Finding Dad: I enjoyed both of these, but I enjoyed Germany 1958 more. Germany 1958 was a more entertaining, light-hearted story, but it was also better written than Finding Dad. I could just picture the young soldier climbing out the window and onto the roof. It was hilarious and brought back memories (I once hid in a closet myself). They always say, “Show, don’t tell,” and you surely did that with this story. You do switch from past to present tense and back again several times in the last few paragraphs – because of the excitement of the plot in those paragraphs, the tense changes were not all that distracting, but you might want to go back and fix that.

    Finding Dad was of course a more sober story, but I felt something was missing that would help the reader better sympathize with the narrator. I would have thought that any adult searching for and meeting his/her biological father for the first time would be an emotional experience, but the narrative here was singularly lacking in emotion. The search for his missing father was expressed in terms of mere curiosity. At the beginning the narrator says, “’You know, mother, I was wondering about my biological father.’” Later on the narrator also says, “I had to locate my natural father, I needed to see him, had to see him, a driving curiosity cried to be satisfied.” And in the end, the narrator simply says, “I had finally put a very confusing puzzle piece of life in its place.” The reader never really learns what the narrator feels about the experience.

    It is noticeable that the conversation the narrator has with his father is written in narrative rather than in dialogue form. It would not be easy, but I think it could be compelling and dramatic to portray the emotions of the narrator (and of his father) through their dialogue, rather than just stating that they made uncomfortable small talk.

    In all the stories above, your writing style is to use simple declarative sentences, good use of dialogue, and a minimum amount of exposition to set a mood or expound on a character’s thoughts or feelings. In the other stories, the style works well, but in Finding Dad, I think more exposition of the narrator’s thoughts/feelings would be helpful, and I think you also have an opportunity here to use dialogue to much greater effect.
    A just conception of life is too large a thing to grasp during the short interval of passing through it.
    Thomas Hardy

  11. #11
    joseph engraver
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    I Ain´t Got All Day
    On December ninth which is my birthday it was decided that now that I turned fourteen and had a social security number I should find a job and start earning money to help pay for my upkeep and maintenance.
    School was costly; there were gym clothes and shoes needed. Spring would mean graduation from junior high school, and I would have to be properly dressed for the graduation dance.
    Mother had a friend who owned a roadhouse restaurant called the Chanticleer and he was in need of kitchen help. The hours were Wednesday through Sunday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and did not interfere with my schooling... It also paid well, including whatever I wanted to eat and that alone was a blessing to the family budget.
    It was arranged for me to start work there the following week.
    When school got out that next Wednesday I watched the other kids load into the school bus, then turned and walked through the spitting snow towards my first real job.
    I was now in full adolescence and excited to start a real job, thinking of the freedom that a manila pay envelope waiting for me at the end of each week would bring. As I walked a storm of ideas were rushing through my mind. There would be dollars, green dollars, of my very own which I would spend on new clothes.
    First, I would buy that pink and black-checkered shirt in the front window of the Uptown Men’s Clothing store on Derry’s Main Street. Then the dark blue peg pants with the leopard stripes down the sides. Next would be a pair of fine ox-blood colored penny loafers with loud-heeled taps, and no pennies in those little slots for me. No Sir, there’d be three dimes in each one. That way I’d never be without cash.
    Then there would be the thin white leather belt for the pants and last, a black waterproof nylon jacket with crimson red V-shaped patches on the shoulders. And maybe, if there was still money left over, I’d buy a knitted yellow tie. Yes sir, once I got rid of these farmers’ overalls and brogans and the girls got a look at this cool cat, they would be falling at my feet.
    These were my thoughts as I walked through snow and slush and entered the restaurants backdoor.
    My wonderful mind storm immediately evaporated into a cloud of steam that was rushing up from underneath a huge dishwashing machine, even the penny loafers disappeared into a pile of unwashed glasses, plates and silverware.
    There on a chopping table were stacked a couple of dozen naked chickens, head and feet sticking out of the pile, like poorly stacked cord wood. As I stood there with my mouth agape, a small pair of wooden doors flew open, followed by a pair of long shapely legs, a tight short black skirt and a white blouse. Virginia had entered my life
    She was beautiful and blond; .her bare arm was extended upward balancing a tray that sat on top of her graceful shoulder. From where I was standing I could see part of her bra and boobs. I was smitten. I was in heaven. I was impassioned. I was ready to cut up chickens, wash dishes; anything was possible at that moment.
    “Oh,” she said. “You must be the new kid. Hi, I’m Virginia.” She set the tray down and with a tilt of her hip and a shove, slid everything off onto the wash table. “I’ll go get the boss and tell him you’re here.” With a smile and two words she departed, “Good Luck!”
    ‘Good luck? How could a kid be luckier than me,’ I thought, as my mind started to hum the tune, ‘Oh in the Blue Ridged Mountains of Virginia, that’s where I want to be…’ I had just discovered the allures of a mature, provocative woman and my hormones were starting to boil.
    The moment was lost forever as soon as the man walked into the kitchen. “Hi kid, my name is Phil but you can call me ‘sir.’. Why don’t you take off that coat and hang it over there on that that hooks.”
    I did as directed and then Phil said.
    “The rules for this job are very easy. All I want to hear from you is either silence or ‘yes sir”. “No sir’ doesn’t exist in this kitchen. Got that?”
    “Yes sir,” I said as my hormones dropped to freezing level.
    “Good,” he said. “Ok, first thing you got do here is cut up these chickens and get them ready for frying.
    Then put them in that pan, when the pan is full, stick ‘um in the cooler over there,” He pointed at the huge white enamel cooler. Its walk- in door shining with chrome hinges and handles, reminding me of my step father Ernest’s 1951 Nash Ambassador.
    “Now here’s how you cut up a chicken,” Phil growled. “Come here and pay attention. I don’t got time to screw around back here,” he said. “I’m going to show you how to do this once and I repeat myself, Pay Attention! Got it?”
    “Yes sir,” I stammered.
    “Ok,” he said. “Here’s your knife. You know how to sharpen a knife?”
    “Yes sir.”
    “Good, keep it sharp,” he growled again. “I don’t want any bone splinters in these here birds.”
    “Yes sir.”
    “Ok first we gut it.” as he plunged the fourteen-inch knife into the abdomen until there was a hole big enough to stick his hand in. “Now while we got the knife in our hands and to save a bit of time. I usually cut off the head, wingtips and the feet’s. Like this Whack, whack, whack.”In one minute the chicken lay on the cutting board ready for step two.
    “Now we clean it like this” then sticking his hand into the cavity he pulled forth the innards and cut them free, saying to me as he dumped the guts into a garbage can “Chickens cost money and I’m not working my *** off in this place to lose money, so we use the liver and, heart for giblets gravy.” I nodded and said, “Yes sir.”
    “Be very careful not to cut into the intestines. I don’t want any chicken **** on the meat. Are you hearing me kid?” He looked up from the gutted bird and smiled.
    “Yes sir.”
    “Ok now we put the giblets in that pan,” pointing the knife in the general direction of several.
    He scooped up the giblets and threw them in one of them. “Now watch this carefully kid...” He then shoved the blade into the stump of the neck until the point protruded out the rear.
    With one swift pull Phil lifted the knife up and cut away one side of the backbone.” Now we do the other side the same way.” Neck bones, backbones, and the piece that went over the fence last were flipped into another bowl for stock.
    “Now take your hands and spread the bird flat,” he said as he squashed the chicken’s carcass out upon the table exposing the breastbone, severed ribs and lungs. “Pull the lungs out like this.” Collecting them up in his fingers he flipped them down into the hole along with the innards. “Now see here,” he said pointing at the sides. “Pay attention, this is important,” he growled once more.
    “Yes sir.” I imagined my eyes were the size of teacups. Crunch went the bones as he smashed down. “Now you can pull the ribs out with your fingers.” Rip, and out they came and into the hole they went.
    “Now pull the breastbone out like this,” and with that he grasped the protruding bone, yanked it out much like a dentist pulling a tooth. The white triangle bone, once extracted, went into the hole with the rest of it. “Now you have to separate the wings from the carcass. See here.” He pointed to the flattened carcass. “Right here is the joint of the shoulder.” And as he slipped a knife through this bone, the wing fell right off. Slick as that. Slice went the knife and the wings fell away.
    “There,” he said patting the carcass with his bloody hands with about the same affection my friend Mary Goodwin had patted me on my head one day. He put the bloody bird in the aluminum pan, wiped his hands on his apron, he said, “Ok, kid now you’re on your own. I got other things to do now. Take your time, try to do it right. You’ll probably screw up a couple times, but don’t worry you’ll get the hang of it. I’ll get back and I’ll help you after a while.” Heading out the door he stopped, turned around and said, “And for Christ sake, don’t cut yourself.”
    “Yes sir.”
    “I can do a bird every t minutes. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to do the whole pile.” He walked through the swinging doors and vanishing from sight.
    I stood there looking at the pile of chickens, the hole in the cutting board, the blood on the apron, the gloves hanging on the hook next to the cooler, piles of potatoes, piles of dishes both clean and dirty, the whole confusing scene and I was no longer a cocky teenager. I was not Hercules, I was suddenly just a little kid up to my neck in chickens and I wished my Aunt Lillian was there to help me.
    Great Aunt Lillian cooked, fed and cleaned in her kitchen; she did the laundry, tended garden and all the other things that kept a minimum of ten people healthy, fed, clean and educated. She loved every day of her life and she did it with care and devotion. She maintained not only a household but took in unwanted children; summer borders and was secretary for the grange. All of these thoughts were flowing through my mind. I could hear her voice saying to me, ‘You can do it Joey. And if at first you fail, then try, try, try again.”
    Feeling a bit better I put on the apron, took a chicken out of the pile, looked to see if the knife was still sharp and started whacking away. Half an hour later, the door flew open and Phil was back.
    “Hi kid, how’s it going?” He asked.
    I didn’t answer. He stepped over to the board and picked up one of the three pulverized carcasses.
    “Well, at least you got all the bones out.”
    And with that he tossed it in the pan. He looked at the other two, picked out the wishbone and a piece of rib and then tossed them into the pan. “Ok,” he said. “Let’s get to work. We ain’t got all night.”
    For the next half hour, we stood side by side at the cutting board, slicing and whacking until the whole pile was done and the pan was full of dressed chicken. “Put those birds in the cooler,” he said to me.
    “Yes sir,” I replied. We washed and cleaned up. All this time he never said a word to me. Everything was put away; Phil lit a cigarette and offered me one which I gratefully accepted. . Then after a moment said to me, “Ok kid, let me show you how this thing works,” leading me over to the steaming dishwasher. “This is easy,” he said as we stood in front of its gaping mouth that was ready to swallow a rack of dishes that sat on the conveyer. He pointed to some switches and dials.
    “This here dial will tell you the water temperature. Make sure it stays at 185 degrees. This here switch shuts it off. This one turns it on.” He flipped the red switch and the conveyer started to move, carrying the dishes in the rack inside to be washed. Water and steam came misting out and in minutes the rack rattled to a stop at the other end.
    “Make sure you wear gloves when you handle these dishes,” he cautioned. “They’re real hot when they come out.”
    By the end of the night, the can under the bench would be so full chicken offal and discarded parts I could barely carry it to the refuse container out back. “Hey kid, pay attention,” he said again. “When the clean plates come out, stack them over there where they belong. Same thing goes for the glasses, cups, and the silverware. I’ll be back. Think you understand how it works?”
    “Yes sir.” And he was gone. He was right, it was easy and before I knew it, time to clean up and take out the trash and shut down the dishwasher had arrived. Phil came back in, looked around, showed me the clean-up routine and left me to mop the floor. When he returned he had two plates of deep fried chicken, French fries and corn, and we sat down at the table to eat. I was very hungry and cleaned the plate in no time. We finished eating, and then Phil asked me if I drank coffee and would I like another cigarette...
    “Yes sir.” “How long have you been smoking Kid?” he asked as I took a long drag and inhaled. I thought about it a minute and answered him. “A couple of years now, I started when I was in the sixth grade.”
    “Do you like dessert?”
    “Yes sir.”
    “Apple pie and ice cream ok?”
    “Yes sir.” We ate and he never spoke until the pie and coffee were gone .Then he said to me, “You’re all right kid. For the first time you did a pretty good job. I think in a few days you’ll get the hang of it all. You know, I’ll bet I’ve had 25 kids your age start working here. Most don’t make it past the chickens. At the end of the week we’ll see how you’re doing. And if you get faster with the chickens, I’ll give you a five-cent per hour raise. Now you better get home.”
    I dressed, stepped out of the steaming kitchen and into the cold winter air. I felt good. I had my first real job and I was already going to get a raise. I trotted toward home whistling in the dark. The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, that’s where I belonged,
    I worked at the Chanticleer roadhouse and bar until Easter when it closed. I gave half of my earnings to my mother and the other half I got to keep. I had saved $60 for school clothes and went shopping at The Uptown Men´s Clothing Store.
    Phil taught me quite a few things about life.
    How to save time by being efficient. He also brought my ability to curse to the point of perfection. He made crude jokes about sex and masturbation. He saw everything that went on at the roadhouse. One time I was getting ready to empty some plates and glasses. He stopped me.
    “Wait! I want to show you something. See that plate with nothing left on it but leg bones and parsley?”
    “Yes sir.”“Now look at the other plate.”
    It was almost full of food. The chicken had been nibbled on as if by a mouse, same for the corn and the bread. “What do you make of that?” He asked.
    “I don’t know Phil. Maybe the person wasn’t hungry.”
    “No kid, that’s a woman’s plate. She’s a real good looker in her twenties or early thirties. She’s most likely here on a date. See that glass with lipstick on it? She left half of the beer, probably worried about getting laid later on. You can usually tell what kind of a person is out there by the kind of food that comes back. Families take the leftovers home. Old people always take everything. And usually eat the parsley. But good lookers on dates eat like birds. I’ve seen it time and time again. Remember that kid, its important information I’m giving you. Another important bit of wisdom I’m going to give you is never pass up an erection. If your dick gets stiff, visit Rosy Palm of the five sisters. I see you eyeballing that blond waitress and you ain’t got a chance. Best you gonna do is think about her and jack off.”
    “Yes sir,” I replied.
    At home in the night I’d think about Virginia and then take Phil’s advise. I think my mother knew what I was doing because one April afternoon when we were planting our garden she said, “Joe, you know that thing you got in your pants?”
    “Yes?” I said somewhat embarrassed for it was a subject that had never come up in any conversation with my mother.
    “Keep it there.”
    Last edited by joseph engraver; 06-24-2014 at 03:35 AM.

  12. #12
    joseph engraver
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    Sammy and Me

    Sammy and Me
    At one time there were five or six other children who were wards of the state of New Hampshire living on the farm. Sammy was one of them; he was the smallest and followed me everywhere. He was not smart and could not talk very well. Sammy was terrified of the big gray gander that Aunt Lillian was raising for Christmas. It was a mean bird and would fly at anyone smaller than it, honking and hissing and beating you with its wings. It had frightened me also but my Aunt told me to hit it with a stick and it would leave me alone, so I got a stick and whacked it. After that it left me alone.
    Sammy and I were playing under the peach trees when the goose saw us. It came running across the barnyard its black beak open and snakelike tongue hissing at us, its neck extended and his wings flapping madly. Sammy got his self behind me, together we charged, yelling as loud as we could. I hit it with my stick and chased the goose away. And that is how Sammy and I became best friends.
    One of our childhood diversions was to gather around the stalls of the work horses and wait for work horses Dolly or Molly to pee. We would wait for the lifting of the great tail they would stiffen and a cascade of streaming urine would fall splattering anyone too close.
    Once the river dried she would pucker her vaginas lips, making us laugh with much glee. In the summer we would take the pair of horses to a spring down to the meadow for water. One day; I got myself too close to Molly and she accidentally stepped on my bare foot. As a result I limped for a quite while and discovered that I could obtain a little sympathy from my pain. People would ask why I was limping and I would explain that Molly had stepped on my foot. They would feel sorry for me, so even after it no longer was painful, I continued to limp. I told my cousin Eva my secret, and she said, “Joey, you have to stop.”
    “Why Eva?” I wanted to know.
    She said, “Because if you don´t you will walk that way for the rest of your life.” So I stopped.
    Chickens also provided Sammy and me entertainment. The war was going strong and we heard about bombs, parachutes, airplanes, and snipers. Sammy and I would catch the chickens tie a rock around their legs, carry them up to the highest point in the barn and drop them with their wings flapping and fluttering. “My parachute just crashed on the battlefields of Holland,” I would scream at Sammy.”My parachute didn’t open.” Sammy answered and we would laugh until our sides ached. This lasted until my Aunt found out.
    The three-hole toilet also served as a fun house for us. We would make small paper boats, drop them down the holes. And then proceed to either drown the Japs in urine, or sink the Germans submarines with our turd bombs.
    We started sneaking into the armory just to admire the model airplanes that my cousin who was fighting in Germany had built. We would stay there for long periods of time, holding them and imagining flying them. There was an old black powder rifle with a big hammer on its side. I would lay it on the cot; pull back the hammer and Sammy would fly an airplane wing under it; I would pull the trigger and my anti-aircraft gun would shoot down a German Messersmit.
    I was in there alone horsing around when I discovered some shells. I found one that sort of fitted, loaded it into the gun’s chamber and lay down on the cot with my sniper rifle now at the ready. I pointed it out the window overlooking the farmyard. I took aim at the coonhound’s doghouse and waited for a Jap to appear. And when he did, I was going to be ready for him. It was a long wait and nothing moved. Finally I decided on a chicken that was peacefully pecking ants. I took aim, squeezed the trigger. The window glass cracked, a round neat hole appeared in the center. The smell of gunpowder filled the room. The report of the rifle all but deafened me and the recoil knocked me off the cot. My poor startled Aunt who was making bread rushed up from the pantry below and caught me red-handed; grabbed me by my ear and took me down to the kitchen; got out Uncle Andrew’s razor strap and laid it on me. That was the first and only time she punished me for the many troubles I caused her during the eight years I was in her care. It hurt, but I knew I deserved it.
    Last edited by joseph engraver; 06-29-2014 at 06:28 AM.

  13. #13
    joseph engraver
    Join Date
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    1
    The Class Dummy
    Three blocks away from the long gray apartments I lived in on Gillis Street was the new the school I attended. It was much different from the two room country school where I started my education. There were six grades and many more children.
    I had come from a school where everything was printed. I had no trouble with the math, and reading provided it was printed. At my new school nothing was printed, all was written in cursives on the blackboard and it was to me an incomprehensible bunch of squiggles. This made the third grade very difficult; consequently I became the dummy of the class.
    One morning on my way to school I stopped at the corner store and bought a stick of chewing gum and popped it into my mouth. The teacher soon noticed it and took the gum away from me, admonishing me that if I could have a piece of gum so should the rest of the class.
    I had seen money in a jar by the newspaper stand where early in the morning people would pick up their papers and drop in a nickel or a dime into the jar and continue on to work.
    One day I stuck my hand in that jar and took as much change as I could get out. Then I went into the store and bought all the chewing gum my loot would purchase. I took the bag of goodies to school, and like Santa Claus started handing out gum. Soon every kid in class had a piece, while I, the hero of the day, sat at my desk chewing happily away.
    My joy in new found friendships lasted all school day, but on my arrival home I was faced by my mother and the teacher. At school I had of course lied to the teacher and said that my mother had given me the money. The teacher being much smarter than me had stopped by to check the veracity of my claim with my mother and I was caught up in my lie. When my new stepfather came home I got my whipping, then marched by my mother to the grocery store and made to confess. I was punished for my sin and had to work after school delivering milk and eggs to the people’s houses that lived nearby until my debt was paid. It was a very good lesson and I learned to be a better liar. When school ended I was not advanced.
    Last edited by joseph engraver; 07-17-2014 at 01:00 PM.

  14. #14
    joseph engraver
    Join Date
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    1
    The Day God Found Me
    There is a roadhouse on the outskirts of Lynchburg where the beers are cold and the bands are loud but good. It is a rough and tumble place with a red tin roof, called the 501
    Club.
    The owner was a woman who had seen all of humanity at its
    worst. Drunkenness, fistfights, knife fights, gunfights, fornication, you name it,
    Grandmotherly Bea had seen it all. Bea sat in front of the swinging doors to the saw dusted, wood dance floor. If you wanted to dance
    you paid the $3 fee with no exceptions.
    That Saturday night Red dressed in her sexy jade green pantsuit and white high-heeled dancing boots.
    I dressed in jeans, white shirt and brought along a sketchpad and drawing pen.
    When we arrived, I drove the Pinto into the nearly full parking lot, found a space near the back.
    Parked, then walked around and opened the door for Red.
    Together, hand around waist; we made our way into the bar of the 501 Club.
    Red and I had been here several times and we were on first name terms with Bea.
    I knew that Bea would never let us into the dance floor without collecting the cover charge.
    All the money I had was a ten-dollar bill and a few crumpled ones.
    I gave them to Red.
    “If we both go in to dance, there won’t be enough for two beers. You take it.
    Go in, and have a good time. Meanwhile I’ll try to make a few dollars doing portrait
    sketches and when I get some money, I’ll join you.”
    She smiled; I kissed her and watched her disappear through the swinging
    door that Bea stood guard over.
    It turned out there wasn’t a redneck in the place interested in having their
    Likeness put down onto paper, so I sat at the bar, did quick sketches of the pool
    Player´s and listened to the music of the band.
    Only one woman was interested in a portrait but she had no money, I settled the price of the sketch at one Coke and a bag of peanuts.
    I was roughing out the shape of the woman’s head and the volume of her
    hair, noting the details of her face when that I noticed she had a badly cleft
    lip.
    As I sketched I minimized the deformity. Once the drawing was completed
    and before I gave it to her, I checked it over once again. It was only then
    I noticed that one of her eyes was way out of alignment.
    I looked at her face again. This time I saw her as a whole object rather than form and shadow. It was not until that moment that I saw she had a distorted head.
    She was very happy with the sketch and asked me to sign it, which I did she took the drawing, looked intently at it, cooed, then said, “You’re just the sweetest fella I ever did meet.” Shortly after that, the band took its break. Red appeared, followed by a tall well-dressed but slightly drunk man. I got down from the barstool and greeted them. Red introduced me. “Mac this is my husband Joseph, Mac is from Alabama.” We said hello and shook hands. Then Red said, “Mac has a new van, its outside.
    Want to see it?”
    “Sure,” I replied.
    We went out to look at Mac’s new van. After spending time admiring the plush interior and fully stocked bar I decided it was a bedroom with wheels.
    We left the parking lot and walked back into the 501club where the band was
    preparing for its next set.
    Red wanted to know if I had made any money. I explained to her that no one had money to spend on portrait sketches. I gave her the little change I had left, encouraged her to go dance and have a good time, kissed her, and walked her to the swinging doors of the dancehall.
    Time passed quickly while sitting on that barstool. I was through sketching the back bar with its glass, bottles, mirrors, reflections and lights, when the music ended and the partygoers started coming out the swinging doors.
    I put away the sketchbook and pen and sat waited for Red to show up.
    Soon the crowd began to dwindle and alas, there was no one left.
    “What the hell?” I thought. “I better see what’s going on...”
    I walked over to the now-open doors.
    A very empty dance floor greeted me.
    The only people around were the band members and a big guy with a broom pushing a mountain of bottles, cans, and assorted trash towards a garbage can.
    I walked over to the woman’s room, knocked on the door, and then peeked inside.
    “Red, are you in here” No answer. “Hey, Red, are you OK?” no one there.
    I was so sure she was in there that I entered and started looking in the stalls to see if she had passed out or was sick.
    Empty.
    Confused, I went back out on the dance floor. The band players had packed up and headed for the back door.
    “Hey guys, you see a good looking redhead wearing a green pants suit?”
    “Sure man, she left out the back door about a half an hour ago” someone from the band answered.
    I was dumbstruck and blindsided. I had not seen it coming. I charged out the back door looking for my wife.
    The only vehicles left in the darkened parking lot was my red Pinto
    and the band’s pick up.
    “He’s gotten her drunk and kidnapped her,” I thought as I ran around to the
    other side of the club expecting to find Mac, his van and kidnapped wife.
    It was empty and very deserted, abandoned, a black nothing.
    I drove downtown, checking the all-night restaurants, the local motels, and
    all-night establishment I could think of…all empty, totally void, no signs of Red or Mac’s rocking and rolling van.
    Around 4 a.m., I called the Lynchburg police department and reported Red missing.
    The person I talked too listened to this tale of woe and then asked me
    for the details, when I mentioned the 501 club, he interrupted me.
    “I see,” said the voice on the line sympathetically. “I’m sorry but we can’t help you now.”
    “What do you mean you can’t help me now?” I groaned in desperation, “Some guy from Alabama’s got my wife?”
    He explained, a missing person report could not be filed before twenty-four hours passed.
    Despondent I drove back to our two months-behind in rent trailer
    house, where our four-month-old Dobby greeted me.
    She was whining and wiggling at my feet as I unlocked the kitchen door.
    “Come here Tilly,” I muttered.
    Picking her up and holding her to my chest, I carried her onto the sofa where I crashed, a deceived, confused, 41-year-old man.
    I lay my distraught body down, and tried to sleep.
    I lay awake, not moving, eyes open, staring upward at nothing, until the first colors of sunrise filtered through the Venetian blinds. Zombie-like, I got up, brushed
    my teeth, fed Tilly, and went outside into the cold morning air.
    In the yard grew a tall magnolia tree, its branches reaching heaven-ward, solid and black.
    Beneath it I prayed, “Please, let Red be OK. Let me find her.
    “GOD! I DO NOT DESERVE THIS PUNISHMENT”; I screamed at the top of my lungs.
    There was no answer.
    I returned to the trailer house, took a sheet of paper from my sketchpad, and wrote:
    "Red,
    I don’t know what was going on last night. I have been looking for you. If you come home and find this note, I’ll be back.
    We can straighten this out.
    Love, Joseph"
    I tore off the sheet of paper from the tablet and taped it to the front door in full sight, petted Tilly, got in the Pinto, and drove back to Lynchburg.
    I started my search back at the 501 Club, and then drove out of town looking in every motel parking lot for Mac’s van.
    North, south, east and west I drove. Every minute, every mile , driving me further into the deepest black despair.
    I found nothing, not a trace. It was late in the afternoon when I finally
    gave up and returned home, worried and exhausted.
    I pulled into the dirt driveway where Tilly was waiting, the nub of her tail
    wagging back and forth. I picked her up and walked to the door.
    There on top of the note I had taped to the door was Red’s response
    .Her elegant handwriting below my scribbled note. It said it all:
    As Ronny Millsap says, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” Gone to Alabama with Mac,
    Love, Red."
    Those words in her delicate feminine writing struck like a sledgehammer with the knowledge that I was a complete failure. My mother was right. I was worthless. I brought grief wherever I went, I would never amount to anything.
    I was a bastard. I was stupid, and would become someone special when hell froze over.
    I gave up as I looked at Red’s note. I could go no further, and endure no more.
    I turned around, Tilly still in my arms and walked back to the Pinto. I got in and drove a quarter of a mile to my neighbor’s house.
    Somehow I managed to get myself together long enough to leave Tilly with them.
    “My wife has left me,” I explained. “So I’m going away and I can’t take Tilly with me. Would you take care of her?”
    They would take care of Tilly; they were honest, simple country people.
    I could feel myself coming apart as I stood there, dog in my arms.
    I put her down, returned to the still-running car, and drove off down the red dirt road and back to the highway that led to Lynchburg, Virginia.
    A plan had formed in my mind. I was going to kill myself, no bull****, no outs.
    I was going to do it with the Pinto and make it look like an accident.
    I did not want my children to bear the burden of a father who had blown
    His brains all over hell. Besides, I did not have a working gun.
    Yes, I knew exactly what I was about to do. Just a short distance from town was an overpass. It had two large support structures in the center of the highway. Those two towers of concrete and steel were going to be the final destination.
    “Fxxx you God, Fxxx all of you and to hell with everything” I yelled, and pressed the accelerator to the floor.
    I was less than a mile away from the final moment on earth, both hands gripping the steering wheel as if welded to it.
    I was screaming at the top of my voice, not words, just piercing screams.
    The Pinto was going as fast as it possibly could. Tears were streaming down my face so freely I could hardly see to drive.
    Suddenly, the Pinto started to lose its forward movement.
    Seventy-five the speedometer read, then sixty, then fifty, I was screaming and crying. I stomped on the gas. The engine roared but the car continued to go slower. Finally, I saw it was hopeless and pulled the car off the highway as it rolled to a dead stop.
    By then, I had stopped screaming, but my foot still had the accelerator pushed to the floor the engine was still roaring. The transmission was in drive yet the car remained motionless.
    I killed the engine, stepped out of the car, pounded on the hood, then giving the door a hard kick, I screamed to the sky, “God! What are you doing to me now?”
    If that fluid line to the transmission had not broken at that precise moment, in another 5 seconds I would have destroyed myself.
    Leaving the Pinto where it had stopped, I walked the few miles back to the trailer house.
    A bottle of French Brandy sat on the top of the refrigerator. It was full and I considered getting drunk, but instead of taking it down and opening it, I sat down at my drawing table and stared in a zombie-like trance.
    I may have sat that way for twenty minutes or twenty hours, I do not remember.
    I do not remember sleeping or eating.
    I just sat reviewing my life, and those festers of shame that no one knew about.
    The corruption of my childhood, my humiliating academic and military career, my inability to stay at one employment, the failed first marriage and divorce that had left me bankrupt and now this.
    Everything swept away. My mother’s words, “I wish I never had you” reverberating in my ears.
    Alone at the drawing table in that silent trailer house I wondered.
    Who am I?
    What am I?
    The answer then came to me.
    “You are Joseph, you are my creation.”
    What is my purpose for living?
    “To be happy, to be proud of yourself, to learn as much as you can while you are
    on this earth. This is your reason, this is your purpose.”
    Late Sunday evening I made a decision. .As I was for all intents and purposes dead and had been reborn. I now could be anyone that I wanted to be, and what I wanted to be was an artist. I could now leave the wreckage of my past in the past, and begin life over.
    I had wanted to Italy to study and learn and by the grace God that is what I would do.
    Last edited by joseph engraver; 08-11-2014 at 02:59 PM.

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