Renegade Writers Guild

Published 2:45 pm Thursday, March 16, 2017

“Dad Dad”

By Gaye Hoots

Grandpa Hoots was one of my first memories. I called him Dad Dad. This was probably due to someone referencing him as my Dad’s dad. He was tall with dark brown hair highlighted with silver, and his skin was olive and tanned. He had brown eyes and the large hands of someone who did manual work. He was kind and gentle with me. I don’t remember him ever raising his voice to me, and he certainly never spanked me. When I did not listen to him there were consequences, but he carefully explained what was expected of me.

When I heard my father or one of my three uncles describe the father who had raised them during the depression by not sparing the rod, it was hard to believe he was the same man. They described him as deadly serious. I knew him as fun-loving. He could stand on his head in his 60s and taught me how to do this. Although he never had a driver’s license, he had an old car we used on the farm. He taught me to drive it at a snail’s pace before I was 6 years old. He made bow and arrows which he taught me to shoot. When I was 6 he taught me to shoot a small Crackshot rifle. My older cousin had a bike that he taught me to ride. When I was 2 years old, he would set me on the back of a colt he was training.

Dad Dad treated me like a child, but he talked to me like an adult. While doing farm chores, he explained what he was doing and why. I tagged after him and my dad every day. Dad was a busy man, and he had less patience with me than my grandpa. When I disobeyed, as I often did, he would sometimes take a switch to my legs. Grandpa discouraged this. Dad would remind him that he never hesitated to use corporal punishment on him and his brothers.

“Boys are built to take that. You can’t do that to little girls. They are just glued together,” he would tell Dad.

My dad was responsible for the heavy field work. Grandpa put out and tended the gardens, orchard, truck patches, and grape vines. He used his horses or mules and a hand plow to do the work. I never saw him on a tractor. He tended bees, fed and cared for the pigs, and chickens. He had a brood mare named Sonja, so he raised and trained a colt each year.

Dad Dad would rive splits from which he made fish baskets, and we would set the baskets in the river to catch fish. He set rabbit gums which he built himself. He helped maintain much of the machinery and kept the tools corralled. I loved watching him work with his hands. It was almost an art form. I loved staying at his heels as he worked. The touch of his strong calloused hands created a prejudice for this touch. As an adult, I preferred shaking a hand that reflected manual labor.

My grandparents had four sons and four grandkids. Any and all of us were welcome to come for a meal or to stay anytime we wanted. They had frequent visits from family members and neighbors. They taught us to care for and nurture the farm animals. I got the runt pig from each litter to hand feed and pet. We were also taught to repair items rather than discard them. I don’t remember them ever hugging each other or us, even when we were children. A hug was not something I missed, as they demonstrated their love in many ways every day. I learned to handle life, death and to know myself. Both my paternal and maternal grandparents reflected the same farm family values.

They attended my wedding and had welcomed two of my cousin’s children and one of mine before my grandpa died. The last time he was home from the hospital before he died, he could get to the bathroom, but that was about all he could do. I did not realize until after his death that he had somehow managed to repair an old spinning wheel that had belonged to my grandmother’s mother. When I was a child, he showed me how to spin. I never mastered the skill but was fascinated watching him. Grandma gave me the spinning wheel after his death and told me Dad Dad wanted me to have it. When I picked it up, it was in working order. He had plaited cornshucks and replaced the missing ones. This was his last labor of love for me. The spinning wheel sits in my living room along with a large framed picture of Grandpa’s mother. A walnut dresser that belonged to her is in my bedroom. He, his memories, and values are a part of my life every day from the moment I open my eyes.

Dad Dad was born shortly after the light bulb was invented. Just before his death, he told me that he had seen America go from the invention of the light bulb to putting a man on the moon. “I can’t imagine what you may live to see if there is that much change in your lifetime!”

“Someone, Please Explain”

By Kevin F. Wishon

I usually accept a car name as soon as I first hear of it, but occasionally I’m left wondering just what was a car company thinking? I’m sure most of the vehicles I’m going to mention are fine automobiles, but the names assigned to them give me second thoughts.

Let’s start with the AMC Brat. I understand the company was trying to draw a correlation between the rebellious nature of a brat and the unusual half-car and half truck-design of this vehicle. However, do I want a vehicle with a name that reminds me of a misbehaving child? When I hear the name Brat, I have a nightmare of a vehicle experiencing a loud mechanical malfunction in front of a crowd; an embarrassing situation no one desires.

Then we have the Chevy Citation. Maybe it’s just me, but why name a car after a ticket I would receive from a police officer for speeding? I want my vehicle to convey the impression of being legit yet enjoyable. For me, the name Citation simply isn’t suitable as a car name.

Next is the compact Ford Fiesta. Have you seen the size of this vehicle? If Ford wanted to create a vehicle to represent a real party, the Fiesta would seat a minimum of ten people and have a dinner table extending throughout the length of the car. Now, that’s a party!

How about the Pontiac Phoenix; It sounds like a sporty name for a vehicle, doesn’t it? But wait, doesn’t the mythical bird, the Phoenix, explode into flames and burn to ashes? Yes, I believe it does, and I’d rather not have my car named after something more likely to happen to a lithium-ion battery.    

If the Phoenix’s name makes me uncomfortable, how can the AMC Gremlin be any better? A car named after a mythical creature that mischievously dismantles mechanical equipment makes me wonder what AMC’s marketing team was thinking. Without a doubt, this vehicle’s name instills no sense of reliability in me.

Then there is the Toyota Tundra. The definition of tundra is: semi-permanently frozen topsoil or mud. Surely, someone should have thought twice before giving a truck this name. When I think about the obstacles I may face driving a truck, frozen dirt or mud does not inspire much confidence.

I could continue with names like Charade, Diablo, Echo, Mirage, Prowler, Silhouette, and so on, but I’m sure you see my point. So tonight, as I get in my car and turn it southward heading out of Mocksville, I’ll roll my window down and enjoy the cool night air blowing across me as I drive my Plymouth Breeze home. 

A Heart of Steel

an excerpt “Barbells”

By Stephanie Dean

If David had chased after her with barbells again, Steele would never know. The tires of her car spun circles and threw gravel as she accelerated out of the driveway. She anticipated hearing the sound of the barbells crashing through her back window at any moment but didn’t pause to glance behind. She sped off as fast as she could and continued to drive for several miles without slowing down.Steele had no idea where she was going but took a left turn out of Rebel Meadows and drove north toward Nashville. Her muscles began to relax while respirations slowed to normal. Her mind reflected on a past incident that occurred just a few months before David moved out of their home.

Steele had been sleeping in the spare bedroom after her husband cheated on her again. One night another heated argument erupted when David came home from work drunk.  He verbally assaulted her, called her names and accused her of cheating on him. As Steele cried, David balled his fist and punched her in the stomach. He slapped her until her cheeks were crimson and stung.

“Where have you been today? Who have you been with?” he asked.

Steele ran out the back door and onto the deck which was elevated above the ground. Snow covered the deck, and Steele carefully descended the slick steps but couldn’t run fast. David followed her and held a heavy barbell over his head.

Before Steele reached the bottom step or a safe distance, David screamed,

“You better stop or I’m gonna throw it.”

With her back to him, Steele stopped dead in her tracks. There was no doubt in her mind he would bash her skull in. She stood perfectly still and held her breath while her heart pounded.

“Now, turn around,” he instructed her.

Steele slowly turned around, David looking down at her from the top of the deck.

“Come here,” he said while holding the weight high above his head.

Slowly, Steele took one step up and then another. When she reached the top stair, David instructed her to drop her car keys at his feet, which she did.

“Now, I want you to tell me I’m the best thing you’ve ever had,” he said.

Steele’s feet stung from the cold snow and her eyes burned from the mixture of tears and mascara, her face now stained.

Steele repeated his words in a monotone voice, her face expressionless. Her spoken words appeared like smoke as it swirled in the frigid air. She hated him with a passion.

With her keys in his hand, David went back inside the house and locked the door. Steele was left standing on the snow-covered step, barefoot, and wearing nothing but lightweight pajamas. She sat in her car for a couple of hours and finally knocked on the back door. Steele begged David to open the door and let her come in out of the cold. After three hours outside, he unlocked the door.

Steele understood the danger and knew there was no limit to what her husband might do. A few months earlier, David had shattered the windshield of her car with a barbell when Steele attempted to leave.  Fortunately, the weight did not penetrate the glass, and Steele felt lucky she was not seriously injured.

Steele made it to Nashville but didn’t have a plan. She had no purse, no money, and no ID. Her car’s gas gauge was close to empty. Steele didn’t consider calling her parents as she tried to not bother them with her problems. She heard her mother’s voice saying,

“You could work your marriage out if you wanted to.”

Her mother’s comment was indicative of how many women of her generation tolerated marital abuse.

Steele spotted an outdoor pay phone at the Krystal Burger and directed her car into the crowded parking lot. Borrowing 20 cents from a male customer, she inserted the coins and dialed her girlfriend Sandy.