Browsing category fiction

the death watch

The air smells late and tiresome. The way it sometimes does when you’re waiting on it to happen. It’s uncomfortable cold, but I sit with ’em on the porch. ‘Cause ain’t no bunch ought to be left on their own like this. Roy shuffles his feet and folds his hands and then lays them straight

the publicans

Two old men. A diner near the Tug River Valley. One wears a red face. He calls his friend Plez. Plez: The General’s a pastor now. Red: I reckon? Plez: Yup. Says God spoke to him. Set him on his course. They figure on it. For a while. Plez: But we don’t know. We don’t

potholes full of shine

I never made no liquor myself. But I seen my share of stills and always knew who run ’em. When I was a boy I helped hide it all the time for Uncle Poodle. I dug pot holes all over that mountain. Filled ’em with ten gallon jugs of mountain lightening. He didn’t put his

they called it vietnam

Charlie come home in a box. A flag that weren’t ever his on top. Strangers in strange clothes brung it up the hill. Sit it on his momma’s porch. Like it was somethin’ that ought to be sittin’ there, instead of somewhere else. Like they knew. The night before he left, before they come to

she also broke beans

She was tired of being old. Tired of dressing head to toe in what use to be. Memories of a mother. A husband. He’s my heart, and I’m gonna see him soon. A father that never really was. Tired of not yet going where she knew she belonged. Her name was Belle, and she would

a town on the tug

I was born in a little knock about town by the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River. Some time before people came along the Appalachian Plateau was carved up for residency by the mountain waters. Not the second-run kind that Dewey got liquored up on at 160 proof; but the kind that leaked into

his daddy’s name was ennis

Man. Wife. Boy. The Jenkins family lived on top of Toler Mountain. Fifteen miles by road. We managed it in two by climbing straight up and over. Mr Jenkins was a Holy Roller who brought the message, and a good bit more, every Sunday down at a little church in Buttermilk Junction. Mrs Jenkins made

the coppertop kids

Laura was mean and pugnacious. Not the way most children are. She didn’t play practical jokes on busybody aunts or pull the ears of annoying cousins like I sometimes did. She told families of their father’s indiscretions and then wondered aloud in other people’s company why the children were so ugly and the mothers so

wash my face lord

Danny’s dead. He died because he didn’t want to live anymore, if you want to know the truth of it. That’s hard on a family. Knowing someone they love would rather be dead in a hole in the ground than be with them. And that’s where they all said he was. Because he didn’t believe.

death and dumplins

When I was three I began gathering flowers from the mountainside; placing them into open caskets of distant cousins. I ate chicken and dumplings in parlor rooms beside dead uncles of other uncles at least once a month when I was five. During a wake that same year I hid my cousin, Dewey’s, General Lee

bertha was a dying swan

Bertha was a dying swan. The kind who said “Lawd Lawd” and “My heart, My heart”. Matriarch of a rather large family, she introduced 9 children to the world before her husband died. They, in turn, gifted her with 32 grandchildren. Three gingers by the youngest were, in her eyes, the crowning achievement of her

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