Louis Epstein is a former international variety performer, comedian, dj, emcee, writer and game show host. He has been the national arm and VP of Marketing for Best Entertainers for 30+ years. He was also the VP of Communications for NACE (award winning chapter), MPI, ISES and now the Society of Talent and Entertainment Professionals.
I left the Comedy clubs in 84 and except for a few bouts dance clubs in 86. I was the first guy out of the Comedy Workshop to do Corporate Comedy and since 82 have been nonstop doing music and comedy gigs for Corporate and private events.
Why am I saying all this?
I have heard both comics and DJ’s who can’t or don’t do corporate, private or cruises and they all sound alike. They all say to some extent, “ I know what I do best and no one is going to tell me how to do my act.”
It’s true. You do know what you do better, but your client may know things about the audience that you could use. And of course, sometimes they don’t but that’s my favorite part. Having to write 12 new jokes about the VIP’s and finding out a half hour before the show or having to riff for 10-15 about pipe fittings. That kind of adrenaline rush from the fear of blowing a big money gig is the kind of thing that has kept me from needing to go bungee jumping.
The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.
This is what life after a cancer diagnosis looks like for me - I’ve survived and lived to see my precious grandkids. I’m not sure what’s been more difficult , the initial diagnosis or learning to bob and weave with everything, which is now the new norm. It’s expensive. It’s exhausting. It’s something you wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been there yourself. It’s something you hope others don’t have to go through. So tomorrow, promise me you will make that appointment you have been putting off. Until there’s a cure, early detection is key. This isn’t just for the ladies. Last time I checked, men get cancer too. Don’t put it off any longer. The life you save may be your own! #Worldcancerday2019
Ali Ko, Philosophy Cat, studied at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. A graduate of NYU Film School, she worked in production and post-production in New York. Presently she lives in Miami and is rendering an autobiographical portrait of a breast cancer survivor, as well as other projects. She lives in Miami Beach. Being a breast cancer survivor (striver) has become part of the art she does -- inspired it, actually. She is also a pet photographer.
The series Flat 1, 2, 3 are symbolic artworks about breast cancer patients and survivors that depict stories about the struggle endured and overcome by that particular woman. Flat 1 is a metaphorical image, (painted on a wall), that serves as a warning to be safe by getting tested. Flat 2 is a painting about a mother who sacrificed her health so her that her daughter would be born. Flat 3 is a mixed media piece about the 3 stages of a woman's ordeal. All 3 women's stories are drawn from the experience of the 12% of American women who had/have/will develop breast cancer-- 3.1 million women in the U.S. alone, I being one of them.
William Mays has written Family Obligations, a mob novel. He also co-wrote Escape from Sunny Shores with his wife Carol. In addition he has published a book of nature photos, The View from Oso Creek. He is currently working on “George, The Lost Middle Years,” a dark comedy about the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll era of the 1970s.
I’m a political junkie like everyone else these days. I admit that I have a problem. I can’t take a walk without getting into an argument with a neighbor. I can’t get any sleep because I wake up in the night to check the news. I quit getting together with friends and family because it ends up in civil war. So, can you guess what I found this morning when I checked Yahoo? There was no political news! I scrolled down. Nothing. Nada. Only old news from four in the morning when I had rolled over in bed to check my phone. I finally found balm: an article about Amber Heard alleging domestic abuse at the hands of Johnny Depp, including lurid details of a reported incident on a private jet in which he reportedly got mad at her because of a love scene she did with James Franco, and started kicking her and threw his boot at her. Now, that’s what I’m talking about. Step up your game, politicians. Jail more illegals, Trump. Fondle more women, Biden. I’m having withdrawals, and I need my fix. Sure, I know I need help, but what if my therapist has different political views from mine?
I had a dream, which started out pleasantly enough. I was in downtown Corpus Christi, but it was more crowded and hectic than CC, like a much bigger city. I enjoyed the activity and the crowds, and I saw some old friends in a diner named Delk's, but they didn't recognize me, and that made me sad. Everything was so picturesque, I was upset that I didn't have my camera, and I got a little lost in the unfamiliar streets. A helicopter flew low overhead, and I followed it to a strange neighborhood. They were tracking a lion, and they killed it, although it turned out to be a coyote. That upset me. I realized I had lost my leather jacket, and I went back and found it. By then it was almost dark, and I was lost in a strange neighborhood, unsure where I'd parked, with stray dogs nipping at my heels.
(I wrote this years ago and then put it aside and moved on to another project. I can't remember what I had planned for the rest of the story.)
Der day fer der Shuetzenfest was gettin closer. All der good volk was gettin ready. They was cleanin their guns and loadin up their ammo and pacticin every night after they got in from der farming and ranching.
Herr Muller was in his barn with his favorite rifle. He was tired after a long day using a bedeezer on der goats cuz he couldn’t make no money on dem and was gettin tired of eatin cabrito so he figured he might as well not have no more baby goats. He had tried to get der city slickers that had moved in down der road to take some, but he had already fooled em twice on some other deals, and they was startin to wise up.
He looked out der big open window across der open field and gully to der property of his neighbor Herr Schmidt. He saw him walk out of his house with his rifle and head for der open field behind his house.
Schmidt was der reigning Schuetzenkoenig, and Muller always watched everything he did, particularly when it was gettin close to time for der Shuetzenfest. If it weren’t for Schmidt, Muller would be Koenig. Why didn’t der old fart just have a heart attack and die? Or maybe a huntin accident? As God fearin and church goin man as Muller was, he couldn’t help hopin somethin bad would happen to Schmidt.
As soon as Schmidt disappeared into der wooded area at der edge of der field, Muller took his gun and went outside. He walked across
So we used to have this yard man who drove a big truck like a furniture delivery truck and my wife and I ride adult trikes making us quite a sight in the neighborhood and they don't fit too neatly in the garage not having the slim footprint of a two wheel and I'm always struggling to position them between the weed eaters hanging on the wall so when I saw the yard man in line in front of us at the HEB I didn't recognize him but he was telling the checker that HEB was getting to be like the Wal-Mart and it sounded like a complaint and I finally recognized him and that night after a glass of wine my mind drifted and my wife and I were riding our trikes and then we took them back to the garage and I was trying to position the trike between the weed eaters but it wasn’t my trike it was the great big furniture delivery truck of the yard man and surprisingly I got it to fit which didn’t seem logical considering it was huge but I was happy that I could do it except that I needed to move my wife’s trike a few inches because of the weed eaters so I went over to do it and the big truck rolled out into the driveway and down the hill which is impossible since there is no hill this being South Texas which is flat as hell and the truck kept going and I ran to catch it which I almost did but I couldn’t jump into the cab because I wasn’t quick enough or agile enough and then it careened off over the edge of the creek bed and boy was I depressed thinking about how much the repairs were going to cost.
copyright William Mays
What rhymes with selfie
I do not know
Google will tell me though
Whether tis healthy or wealthy or mayhaps stealthy.
So prithee do tell me
Tales of Lost Lenore
Who will be never more
Whilst I ponder Shelley and Boticelli and Machiavelli.
For me truth is not in a belfry
My hearts in the highlands
Where my soul understands
That I must faithful to my own selfie be lest the world overwhelm me.
But perhaps this is what hell may well be
And the way the world ends
With colliding conflicting individual trends
And a chaos of Jelly Chelsea Delhi Belly Deli Sell Me Adelphi.
copyright William Mays
Former Research and Development Officer at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. Studied Christian Nurture at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
I’ve never been so moved by an art exhibit as I was by "Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work, 1940-1950" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. -- frame after frame of images created from life, composed with deep care and concern, and not just for the black people but also for glam-fashion women, celebrities and, yes, film stars – Ingrid Bergman, most notably.
Parks didn’t take pictures; he made photographs – light writing images in silver halide media – and it was work to get it right. He must have made tens of thousands of images, but we see only the outcomes. It’s how artists work, by producing so much more than anyone ever will know in order to reveal whatever truth they’ve discovered and distilled from the mass.
That leaves most of us out, because it seems as though being an artist, doing art, is magnificently obsessive. When I say the reason I don’t or can’t write fiction is because I lack creative imagination, it’s also because I am not possessed by the urge to make creative words or photographs or anything else, for that matter. I’m a rank amateur who can take it or leave it. Given the opportunity, I’ll take it, but I’m not going to build my entire life around the making of art. Frankly, I wish that were so, but I know it’s not; and, you know, it’s not just the Deadly Sin of Sloth but personal disposition.
True artists are few and far between. There are many more aspirants and pretenders than there are those who work obsessively, who practice and are disciplined by their talent and who aspire to develop and grow into a kind of perfection called fulfillment – although, I’ve heard it said, that last bit seldom enters the true artist’s consciousness, because they themselves never sense that kind of completeness. There’s always more, and it seems beyond their reach, but they sally forth just the same, intrepid, even though they may not know where the path is leading – or when it will end.
Rebecah Hall was born in Pecos, Texas. She has 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren. She pursued a Communications degree at Black Hills University in Spearfish, S.D. After that she lived in the U.K. for 10 years and pursued a Masters and PhD in Creative Writing--poetry. She currently reside in Rockport, Texas (a Hurricane Harvey survivor) with her tuxedo cat, Jazz.
She's been writing poetry since the age of 9, and went through the typical teenage angst period. Her poetry began to mature at the age of 17. Presently, she addresses controversial topics more than the everyday. Her hobbies include photograpy and music.
She is more than you can imagine in your wildest escapades or your careless littering of plastic.
She is more than the luscious gardens that feed you and give you dripping flowers which scent the air with non-duplicating smells.
She is more than the sidewalks and highways, the trails and paths cut deeply into her skin, the blasted tunnels through the mountains.
She is more than the pipelines desecrating her rivers and lands with their contents, or the spewing refineries vomiting their ugly fumes.
She is more than the towering buildings cutting the air with razor edges lining the landscape with artificial lights.
She is so much more than you know or recognize, She is your mother . . . mistreated and abused.
copyright Rebecah Hall 2016
Kristi Sprinkle has not traveled abroad, but she has traveled through the universe in dreams. She has been creating new phrases since she was a snotty teenager, living in Corpus Christi. Attending college in Austin (because everyone else was), she set down roots that could not be pried from Austin’s soil – and was part of the grassy-roots open mike poetry there. After raising chickens in a suburban neighborhood, she decided she could raise goats, pigs, guineas, peafowl, dogs and a cat or two, along with green leafy stuff and potatoes on a large piece of grassy land close to Austin. Recently she has been doodling a lot on scraps of paper she intends to collect in retirement and make them make sense. She has worked for the Texas School for the Blind in Austin for a great number of years as a technologist, co-writer of a book by a great man in the field of visual impairment. She created two different museums for the school.
Yesterday... was just a bad day. whacked myself a good one (very large bump and bruise on my forehead - the old rake joke - step on the tines and WHACK! There was a twig intertwined with the tines, so I stepped on that. Same effect ("I'm not a COMPLETE backbirth")). Almost as bad as the time I dropped a post setter on my head. The garbage disposal started leaking... then I found some gopher holes where I just planted roses ("carefree beauty" that has a patent and certification from the department of agriculture... whatever happened to just plain plants?). The chickens that are free-roaming destroyed my potted tomato plants. Then this fraud - fighting it at a time when Mike and I should have been sleeping (we wake up fucking early, even in my retirement). Dead tired. Today? Went to bank and got new debit cards and had to write a novel to Visa on the events that took place last night and this morning with the fraud. Now starts the long process of changing all those autopays over from the old card number. Making chicken stock (HEB has 10lbs of chicken halves for 5 bucks). Delivered eggs to the Mennonites down the road, went grocery shopping where, unbeknownst to me, my debit card had just been canceled (see previous post). Just made salsa with old pico, using a boat motor on it. And new pico with fresh ingredients. It IS a better day. So far.
copyright Kristi Sprinkle
woke up today in clarity's
sense of sheer happiness
weary of nothing
quiet eyes 360 degrees around this path
seeing what's been done and undone
wizard behind the curtain
hands crossed, perplexed
at the powerlessness
because i see everything i am
and all the people i know
settled and unsettling
pushing this world, pulling it
- life/death and threats of both
and it all comes together
perhaps i'm crazy
but all the good and bad
suddenly doesn't matter
because here we are
more than those words on a wall
and yes, the glass is half full
finally held in hands
that were strong
visible briefly Is
A lone metal chair Inside a grove of California trees
Just under a turnpike
(Noticed from a higher road on our way elsewhere)
It sits facing railroad tracks that, from
The chair’s eyes, run north and south and disappear in both directions
And I wonder whether a young soul
Or an old soul sits there
copyright Kristi Sprinkle
Joseph Wilson taught English at King High School for 42 years. His students included Zoe Ramos, Olivia Noble, and Kailey Hamauei, all of whom have writing in Corpus Christi Writers 2018: An Anthology. He writes poetry. He also posts frequently on Facebook, and has a large following .
I want to read the NewYorkTimesSundayEdition all the way through
I want to hear live jazz
in an outdoor city space with the trace of a breeze
and a strong cup
I want to walk three miles on the bayfront toward the Harbor Bridge
I want to go to the restaurant Egg in Brooklyn and have braised vegetables garnished with fresh herbs over oatmeal
with a fried egg sunny-side-up
I want to see two movies at the local cinema
which begin at the
I want to gaze into my dog’s brown eyes for three minutes
to raise the level of oxytocin in our brains
I want to cut some white roses in the pasture
I want three glasses of Prosecco with raspberries blueberries and
arils of pomegranate filling the bottom of the bowl of the
I want to speak to my mother on the telephone and
have her really be able to hear me
I want to hit some tennis balls with a colleague and raise a sweat
I want to engage in a serious conversation
face to face with my friend
who can’t seem to do that
I want to find just a little mindfulness right now
I want to finish
Olivia Noble is a writer, painter, and Humanities major at Yale University, and an erstwhile resident of Corpus Christi. She attended King High School and took English classes from Joseph Wilson.
Play the moth game, inspired by the short stories of V. Woolf. The game goes like this: walk around from room to room until you have enough dead moths to fill each hand, which comes to about a cup and a quarter in a standard glass Pyrex. Another word for a double-handful is a yepsen. This group of moths you’ve picked up is now your first friend.
Draw with a pinched-out match tip on the white bottom of your sink. Turn the disposal into an unblinking all-seeing eye. This friend is good for staring contests and quick moralizing glances. It will look at you until its lids become runny. (The disposal should not be a new friend. It is loud and old and eats too much.)
Anything can be a friend if you try hard enough. Two faucets running in different rooms are now in conversation. Sometimes it’s unwise to interrupt, but even on bad days you can always listen.
You can find them while you’re drinking your maple milk at the window. On the streets all of your new car friends have snub-noses, like cats. The Volvo can be a little distant but at least it’s direct.
Take off your shoes and arrange them in a clutter that you would never have left – oh, look, a friend must have kicked off their shoes in a hurry. It works, I promise.
Cut the bottoms off a few yellow pears and set them on their new stable bases. Look carefully for the bumps and brown marks that could be freckles, or even real dimples. Say, “I have missed seeing all your lovely faces!”
The moth collective is jealous now. Be on guard with your new friends. Their disapproval is a heavy thing.
One day you may wake up and find that the shirts on the clothesline are already such well-intentioned friends that you didn’t even have to clip them up yourself. Their pale cuffs tumble and wave from the lawn. Pour the rest of your milk, which is now too warm, over the side of the porch and into the hostas. They might be taking things a little fast, but who are you to object?
copyright Olivia Noble
Skoot is one of Corpus Christi's most prolific writers. He is a native Los Angelino, a musician, music critic and a Viet Nam veteran. He has also worked as a disc jockey, actor, speech therapist, stand-up comedian, behavioral counselor and streetcar conductor. His previous works include the Lars Lindstrom Zen-Jazz Mystery series, a black-humor novel about health care in America entitled “Apollo Issue,” and a political humor novel, “The Palestine Solution,” the King Irv fantasy series, and The Dave Holman Texas Detective mysteries. Skoot lives with his two cats, Miles and Dexter, in Rockport, Texas.
The Three Little 21st Century Pigs is from his book SKOOT'S FABLES
Once upon a harvest moon, there were three little pigs; A very conservative Fox News kinda pig, a moderate, middle-class type conformist pig, and a wigged-out, very vouty cool and free-thinking pig.
The first little pig was too lazy to build a house of his own. He bitched that the government wasn’t setting him up for an inexpensive place to crash and finally bought a clapped-out old single-wide mobile home in the woods, landscaped with worn rotting tires and discarded, rusting appliances.
The conformist second little pig bought a three-bedroom, two bath pad in a Levitt Town tract where all the houses looked so much alike he had to count the doors every night coming home to make sure he was walking into the right crib.
The very vouty third little pig built himself a mad pad on the beach out of baritone sax reeds and palm fronds with a hip little bar and multiple hammocks swingin’ free!
As the little pigs were settling into their Texas coastal life, a big bad wolf hitch hikin’ down with the snowbirds from Minnesota stopped off feelin’ hungry and unfulfilled. Unfamiliar with the territory, the big bad wolf cut east from the highway and started makin’ tracks through the dark circuitous oaken woods. After a long bit of a trapes, the wolf found himself in a ghetto-looking clearing filled with rusting junk, rotting tires and a big aluminum box covered with Kudzu vines, Texas flags and No Trespassing signs. The wolf approached cautiously, mounted the three rotting wood steps and applied his hairy knuckles to the rusting screen door.
“Who goes there?” thundered the frightened but macho pig. “Don’t you know you’re standin’ on private property? You’d better not be a Jehovah’s Witless or something, or I’ll blow you away!”
“It’s cool,” shouted the wolf. “I’m just here to check your meters.”
When the up-tight pig opened the door, the big bad wolf gave him a wide, saliva-dripping grin. “You look like a tasty pork morsel,” the canine creature told him. “I think I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your joint down… Then I’ll have me a sort of Cajon pork sandwich with extra jalapeños!”
The red-neck pig called for his kids to fetch him his shotgun, but the over-zealous pig kids came out too fast, tripping and letting loose with a blast that sent their daddy to that big pig sty in the sky.
Not wanting to be on the scene when the gendarmerie arrived, the big bad wolf legged it east toward the coast. After a long trot through the forest, the big bad wolf came on a tract of poorly constructed houses. Hoping to blend in with the low budget surroundings, the wolf strolled down the main drag, selecting a non-descript pad with a cheap Korean car in the drive and walking up to the door with a wolfish grin. He sounded the bell and hung back until a nervous little pig opened the door.
“I always try to be politically correct,” said the pig that answered the door. “But your presence here could be bringin’ down the property values. What do you want, and make it quick, before my neighbors see you here and think I’m a bleeding heart liberal or something!”
“I’ll come right to the point,” the wolf told him. “I’m starvin’, Marvin and I need a little roast pork. So I’m gonna huff and puff and blow your square little house down, and then I’ll make a three course meal of you and your piggy kin!”
The second little pig came on like a Kung-Fu master, layin’ all the moves he learned in self-defense class on the unsuspecting wolf. The wolf blew the pig’s house down, but not before the very square pig landed a shot in his wedding tackle and sent him off in great pain.
Limping east across the wet flood plain, the big bad wolf soon arrived at the beach, where he saw a smart little Tiki Hut near the water’s edge. Approaching cautiously, the big bad wolf circled the structure, sniffing the air for wolf traps. His olfactory senses were quickly filled with the scent of illegal weed and Patchouli oil. Hesitantly, the wolf raised his knuckles and laid a crisp paradiddle on the thin reed door.
A little pig in shades and a black beret answered his call. “Welcome my brother,” the porcine cat greeted him. “Glad you could fall on by!”
“Porque, Porky,” the wolf responded, “Ain’t you afraid of me?”
“Like, should I be?” the hip little pig questioned. “We’re all God’s children in this veil of tears.”
“But,” responded the wolf, “I intend to huff and puff and to blow your house down!”
“Crazy!” cried the cool pig. “Like I got an old tenor sax in here somewhere…”
“What about a reed?” queried the wolf without thinking.
“Are you kidding?” said the pig. “The whole house is made of reeds. Just pull one out and trim it down!”
“But I’m here to eat you up!” shouted the pig.
“Oh man,” said the pig with a serious face, “Don’t you know how bad pork is for you? It’s a genuine life shortener! Clog your arteries and give you those triggie-whatsis worms… Man, like this pork isn’t even organic!”
“I can dig that,” said the wolf, “But like I’m two days short of three squares!”
“No worries,” answered the pig, “we’ll send out for a pizza while we jam!”
“Too much!” said the big bad wolf. “Can we get extra anchovies?”
“If you can huff and puff like Prez,” the cool little pig told him, “You can have anything you want on it… Except pork…”
“Oh man,” the wolf told him. “Bacon was never really my thing anyway. Do you know Cool Blues in E-flat?”
copyright Skoot Larson
A self-proclaimed desert rat, Chuck Etheridge was raised in El Paso, Texas. After a stint in the US Navy keeping the coast of Southern California safe from the threat of enemy invasion, he attended the University of Texas at El Paso and Texas Christian University. In addition to his time in the service, he has worked as an actor, a convenience store clerk, a Rent-a-Poet, and a catalog copy writer before finding respectable employment as an English teacher, first at McMurry University and, later, at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. His poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction have been published in a variety of reviews and anthologized in a number of books, and he has written two plays that have been produced. He is the author of two novels, Border Canto and The Desert After Rain. “Driving Lessons” is an excerpt of his third novel, My Father’s Songs.
The Gods of the North warn
Hell is a hot place.
Do bad, and you will burn,
Smelling brimstone in a fiery pit
South Texas sun blazes like an angry god,
Sweat runs rivers down my back,
My pale skin burns, red, so I must hide from the Sun,
Shield myself from the wrath of Thor
With sun hats, and sunblock,
While he burns my plants,
Evaporates lakes and rivers,
And slays even the toad
Crossing the parking lot,
Who dies, then swells up,
A grotesque balloon blistering on asphalt
This is summer.
Gods of the South snicker at the North,
Bask in the heat of Thor’s wrath,
Do bad and you will freeze,
In a dark cold place,
Old Sol, the Sun, has grown weak
Forgetting Chicago in January.
I must work outside,
Stand in waist high snow,
Try to use a metal wrench
When it’s twenty below zero.
The wind shoots down from the North,
Knifing my heart through the long underwear,
And heavy jacket. My hands, numb, can’t work
With gloves on,
But can’t work when they are frozen.
This is winter,
Quetzalcoatl’s anger is everywhere,
My southern bones fear Aztecs
More than Vikings,
Can always take clothes off,
But can’t put on enough to keep warm.
If I have to choose hell, I’d rather be Aztec than Viking,
Would rather burn than freeze.
Copyright Charlesa Etheridge
Lee Hultin found success in writing technical manuals from plumbing to technology that led her to a career in application development. After retiring early and looking for new adventures, she left Chicago’s cold winters and settled on the Island. These days, she spends her time enjoying island life on the Gulf with her rescued husky mix and writing about life.
Read It's Five O'Clock Somewhere by Lee Hultin in Corpus Christi Writers 2018: An Anthology. Here's an excerpt:
I woke in the dark room. All the doors were closed, the drapes and blinds drawn tight. Jack didn’t like the sun waking him. He lay still sleeping by my side. I couldn’t sleep anymore and I had to see the sun, the light, the Gulf. I decided I wasn’t going to waste any more time waiting on Jack.
Outside, Marty was tinkering on the boat. It was red with white cushions, and his pride and joy. He had just traded up, his older boat for the used red one. It was bigger and more powerful than the old one, and seated eight, a definite boost over the four-seater older one. He had only logged a month on it and was still getting used to how it performed. He was having problems with the GPS working properly and a few minor issues with the motor.
Inside, I helped Jessica put the beer in the tote along with chips and nuts. “Let’s get going,” Marty said as he entered the sliding glass doors. Jack emerged finally, freshly showered and grabbed a cold beer. Jessica laughed and said, “A bit early isn’t it Jack.” Jack just smiled and said, “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” letting out a not so quiet belch while walking down to the pier. I grabbed my sunglasses, hat and hairclip, taking the tote on the way out the door. Jessica locked the lanai doors and walked the 15 steps to the boat. Marty was already in the boat yelling at Jessica, “Did you bring my sunglasses?” “Right here” she said, handing them to him. With everyone on board, Marty turned the motor on and backed out of the pier, put the boat in gear and drove slowly down the canal.
copyright Lee Hultin
It was like any other day, the day my father died. Oblivious to the crying and runny noses on the other end of the phone line, it seemed surreal, like the way talking sounds through the fog across a ship channel, muffled. With shaky voices, they talked of arrangements.
Voices repeated that he was really gone, as I tried to comprehend how I was supposed to act. And this huge sense of nothingness overcame me, like trying to stay adrift through a dark sea of bitterness and disappointment, blindly searching for an answer that is not there as I attempted to feel what they were feeling.
After the funeral, after the law books and business had been divided and before returning to the Island, my share of possessions resulted in a cardboard box filled with ships that my father had collected throughout his years, always on his credenza shelves in his law office collecting dust. Some metal, others bamboo, and even an oil painting in cobalt blues of a Spanish galleon tossed upon stormy seas.
The box went into the storage room of my old mobile home, in the place I stored things that I didn’t care to see. A junk room, cluttered with bird feathers and seashells, a rusty ironing board and old photographs of a life long ago known that had somehow changed so drastically to have tossed me here on this Island known as home for so long.
Home, such a strange word. How to define home? I was not born here but knew I belonged here. Here with the harsh Winters and a chill that reaches down the corridors of your heart, yet the ocean gave me comfort, like a warm blanket and a buffer between the world and me.
Until that day in August and a storm that drove in unsuspected, so only a few pair of clothing changes were taken as I loaded up for higher ground.
A week passed, holding my breath, stuck in a city with concrete and buildings that obliterated any chance of viewing a sunset. With an aching heart I returned, knowing that what was left might not be much after seeing video after video of first responders on social media, some of them close to my street but never my street exactly. Prepared for the worst, my feet trampled heavily through still wet and muddy ground, and a stench that was almost as unbearable as the mosquitos dive-bombed any flesh left uncovered.
My old mobile, what was left of it, lay on its side, white walls fallen like broken wings in the mud, weighted down by sewage and stinky mud. Everything was covered in a putrid brown color, the stench of rotting fish and seaweed halfway up the sides with wires exposed. Ironically, the kitchen shelves and dishes in the cupboards stood untouched, coffee mugs ready for a new morning and a new day. Searching through remnants for anything that might be salvaged, a few dead birds lay in awkward positions pointed the way on the saturated ground to where a book lay open. It was the only book found, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, pages still damp, barely legible and opened to expose a line reading “Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid”. And I started to cry. One of those long moaning cries that comes with the pain of letting go, and giving in.
Read the rest of this story in Corpus Christi Writers 2018.
copyright Neesy Tompkins
Kenneth Bennight is a husband, father, lawyer, former Marine, and native Texan, and the grandfather of the cutest little boy on the face of the Earth. Kenneth grew up in Corpus Christi and graduated from Ray High School. He now resides in San Antonio, Texas, and is the author of the hard-boiled Nacho Perez stories, Nacho Perez, Private Eye and The Truth Shall Make You Dead. Those stories and others are available on Amazon.
Where the hell was the damn center stripe? Thad Will peered ahead. The wipers and the full-blast defroster kept only a patch of the windshield clear from freezing rain. His headlights barely penetrated the blur. He kept his speed around 40 miles per hour, his knuckles aching from his tight grip on the wheel. When was the last time South Texas had weather like this? His eyelids felt heavy.
He blinked and rubbed his eyes. No sleep in almost two days. Getting a room in Cotulla would have been good. If he could afford it. But Eagle Ford work had slowed and threatened to disappear. He couldn’t spend money on motels with Justin needing braces and the dining room set about to be repossessed.
His eyes closed, his body relaxed, he almost slid into sleep, and the car started to drift. Adrenalin hit. His eyes popped back open, and he jerked the car straight. Damn it all. He repeatedly slapped his cheek.
He hadn’t seen another car since leaving Cotulla, shortly before he’d passed a sign warning that the next gas station was 94 miles down the road. FM 624 cuts east-west across the South Texas brush. He’d heard it called the world’s longest hunting lease. Traffic was seldom heavy, and only an idiot would travel it on a night like this.
Headlights reflected in his rear-view mirror. Who else was out in this mess? A few seconds later, he realized the lights were approaching fast. Jeez. Whoever this schmuck was, he was blasting along, ice be damned.
copyright Kenneth Bennight
read the rest of the story in Corpus Christi Writers 2018: An Anthology
Paul Gonzales is an award winning journalist for The News of San Patricio weekly newspaper as well as an award winning filmmaker. He’s currently working on his second novel and seeking representation for his first novel and various short stories and novellas. He currently resides in Corpus Christi with his wife and two children.
I heard the beeps first. Machines placed around me somewhere in the dark buzzed, whirled and wheezed. Then I felt the needles sticking out from my skin pumping fluids through my veins, all of them swollen. My skin was sore. My chest was separated under bandages and stitches and blood and exposed marrow and healing arteries and I wondered what color my blood was down in there. I imagined the highways of vessels crisscrossing under my chest plate turning the blue blood red as it was exposed underneath the still fresh wound splitting my chest in two even pieces, soaking up the stale hospital air. With eyes closed and hands still, I tried to feel around the room. Tried to sense someone or something. My ears listened. My nose sniffed. Eyelids twitched. Only machines and tubes that dripped and flowed and stabbed and the one that breathed for me. I had nothing else to do but sleep. But I didn’t do that.
I lay there staring out a window that faced another wing of the hospital. Dirty peach. That was the color I came up with. That was the color of the brick caked onto the ancient hospital. Nurse. Jell-O. New sheets. Dirty peach. For days that was it. I could hear the nurses whisper about my lack of visitors and how a bad heart at such a young age was such a shame. And I lay there thinking and looking out the window and listening to my new heart hammer on the inner walls of my chest.
When I got home I could see my neighbors peach tree from out of my bedroom window. Overgrown and filled with rotting peaches. He once asked me if I liked the fruit and I had told him no. So I watched the tree from my bed, my body still too weak to move about much, so alone in my house watching autumn transform the landscape, it was the same view. Rotting peach. That was the color I came up with.
READ THE WHOLE STORY IN CORPUS CHRISTI WRITERS 2018: AN ANTHOLOGY
Dr. Jim McCutchon practiced medicine in Corpus Christi for many years before retiring to pursue other interests, one of which is writing. He is currently working on a novel about life on a 19th century plantation in Louisiana. As an exercise while studying the writing craft at a workshop in Santa Barbara California, he was challenged by the moderator to write a short story containing a very specific ending, and to do it in ten minutes. That story is EMERGENCY
He was sitting at his desk after lunch, talking with three associates. An important business meeting. He had left strict instructions—no calls, no interruptions of any kind—but there it was, the blinking red light on his phone demanding attention. He tried to ignore it, but it flashed with such insistency he finally had to respond.
It was his secretary. The principal from Jenna’s school had just called, and he needed to get there right away.
Not again! Please God, not again . . . the blinking light, the tone of voice; it was too familiar. He turned pale. Dreading what he might hear, he didn’t ask for details. A year ago his wife Darlene had been on her way to that same school to pick Jenna up for a ninth grade soccer game. A truck blasted through a red light and T-boned her. Within moments firemen were working furiously with the Jaws-of-Life to get her broken body out of the car, but it was no use. She was lifeless as a china doll. The flashing red light and his secretary’s tone were the same then as now…
He replaced the receiver, muttered a quick excuse to his three colleagues, and quickly walked out of his office. As he hurried by his secretary’s desk, she gave him the same fearful and sympathetic look she had that time a year ago.
READ THE FULL STORY IN CORPUS CHRISTI 2018: AN ANTHOLOGY