The Literary Corner: Renegade Writers Guild

Published 10:00 am Thursday, May 11, 2017

“January 1968”

By Linda Barnette

January of 1968 was a very traumatic month in my life and one that I will never forget.  I lost both of my grandfathers just two weeks apart.  I was close to both of them, so their deaths were a great personal shock to me as I was in my 20’s, and death had not taken any loved ones yet.

Papa Smith lived across the street from me and owned the Esso station uptown.  He had not gone to college but was very smart and well-read (the valedictorian of his Farmington High School class).  We discussed current events and history and life in general.  He was a fairly large man with a deep, booming voice that at one time or another scared all of the grandchildren!  Another memory is that even after he had a major and debilitating heart attack and had to use a cane, he always carried his plate into the kitchen after meals to help my grandmother. I always sensed a quiet respect they had for each other along with a deep and abiding love.  At his service, the Rev. Ed Avett, his next door neighbor and friend, himself an old man by then, delivered his eulogy.  Rev. Avett said Papa and he met in their yard often and discussed religion.

My other grandfather, Papa Hartley, was a country boy, a farmer, tall, thin, and one of the most humble and kindest people I ever knew. When he and Mama moved into town as they aged and were no longer safe in the country by themselves, he was never the same.  He missed his farm, the animals, but mostly the land itself which had provided for his needs from childhood on.  He was buried in Davidson County along with his ancestors, whose graves are at the bottom of a hill.  It had snowed the day before, and the snow was fairly deep, so I helped his sister Lila down the hill.  She held me by the arm, and most of my thoughts were not to let her fall. I don’t think I realized the importance of the event itself.

I am thankful to God those two special people were part of my life.  They influenced me in ways I never understood until I became old myself.

“The Wish”

By N. R. Tucker

What a day. Work had been a disaster from the first meeting of the day where the teleconference repeatedly disconnected for no apparent reason, to the last meeting of the day when the CEO told Adam to lay off three percent of his team. He had no low performers, but the bean counters didn’t care.

Walking home from the office, Adam grumbled when he had to step into the street to evade kids playing on the sidewalk. It wasn’t quite so irritating when he had to step into the street so an older couple could continue their walk down the center of the sideway holding hands. Hopefully, he and Maddie would be the old couple one day.  Adam walked down the street wishing for a little alone time. No chance of that. Maddie and kids waited at home, and his wife wouldn’t serve dinner until he arrived. He cut through one of the city gardens. As he neared a fountain, he saw a mother and daughter arguing and two young couples planning their evening.

On a whim, he tossed a coin in the fountain and wished for five minutes alone. Without a sound, the sky turned dark. He couldn’t see anyone or anything. Nothing. It was black as the darkest night, and no sound reached his ears.  He stood frozen in place. What had he done? Surely that wish didn’t mean anything. Frantic, the need to run was overwhelming, but Adam stayed put, afraid to move for fear the ground wasn’t really there.

Adam stood in his silent world, barely daring to breathe. Suddenly, as quickly as the world had gone away, it was back. He looked around. No one else seemed to notice. The mother and daughter still argued, and the two couples headed across the street to a pizzeria. Adam glanced down at his watch. Five minutes had passed.

He rushed home. Thrilled to see his family, Adam grabbed Maddie and swung her around the kitchen before he kissed her, right in front of the kids.

“Ew, Dad,” Joey scrunched up his face. Parents shouldn’t kiss. Disgusting.

Maddie laughed, “You’re in a good mood today. Now put me down, or the roast will burn.”

After dinner, Adam helped clean the dishes, just to be close to Maddie. He was rewarded with a huge smile. It occurred to him he didn’t help enough around the house. Maddie had a job too. Why hadn’t he thought of that?  When Joey asked for help with math and Sara asked how to spell Tennessee, Adam was more than ready to help.

     Yes, life was good, and Adam would never wish it away again.

“In a Child’s Eyes”

By Julie Terry Cartner

Arms flung out in delight,




“It’s morning, Mom,” you exclaim in delight

“It’s morning!”

Your blond hair flying in the swirling breeze

You look at me as if to say,

“Well, are you getting up?”

“Why are you still lying there?”

“Can’t you see, we have so many adventures yet to come?”

Grumbling, “Ten more minutes, please,”

I pull up the covers, attempting to shut out the day.

But you giggle, pounce and snuggle,

Covering my face in kisses.

Burrowing into my cocoon of warmth

Like a kitten nestling with his brothers and sisters

You pretend to sleep until the sheer joy of life

Explodes like the covers on my bed

And we race to the kitchen for pancakes.

“The Payphone”

A Heart of Steel, an excerpt

By Stephanie Dean

Steele’s friend Sandy answered her phone tentatively as if with concern.


“Hey Sandy, It’s Steele. I’m sorry to awaken you.”

“That’s ok. What’s wrong?”

“I’m calling you from the pay phone at the Krystal. David came home from work drunk again, and I had to leave. Mom’s keeping Daniel overnight. I wondered if I could come stay at your house.”

“Sure, of course. I’ll get up and unlock the door. The outside light will be on. What are you going to do?”

“I’m not sure now as I really wasn’t prepared to leave tonight, but I’m not going back. I’ll have to go back sometime tomorrow to get my things. Then, I’ll look for an apartment, I guess.”

In her mind, Steele had planned a safe escape many times, but she had not put the plan into action and was now caught off guard.

“Well don’t worry, you can stay here as long as you need to.”

Steele had just started the new job at the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and was earning a decent hourly wage as charge nurse. She could now afford to move out and rent a small place. Steele didn’t want to impose on Sandy as she and her husband Gary were having their own marital problems and had recently separated due to his continued philandering.  Sandy was one of her best friends from high school and had a daughter Nicole, who was the same age as Steele’s son Daniel. Sandy and Steele often met at the playground so the kids could swing. For a long while, Sandy had encouraged Steele to leave David after she learned of his physical abuse.                                                                                                                                                           

“You are welcome to use the phone in my car,” a strange, masculine voice said.

Still on the pay phone, her back toward the stranger, surprised, Steele turned around to face him. The man was the same one from whom she had borrowed coins. She felt a sense of apprehension.

“Sandy, I have to go, but will be there shortly,” Steele said before hanging up the pay phone.

“What did you say?” Steele asked the man as she took a few steps back.

“I said I have a phone in my car if you need to make more calls.” the stranger said.

Steele slowly backed away towards the door of the restaurant, keeping the man in her sight.

There was no such thing as a phone in a car.  He must be crazy. Maybe he was trying to get her in his car, she thought.

“Oh yeah right. Well, thank you, but I don’t think you have a phone in your car.”

The strange man was wearing a long, black trench coat, and with a few days of beard growth, his personal grooming lacked. His eyes were bloodshot and hair disheveled. Steele thought he must be a street person. She didn’t want to walk to her car in the dark parking lot with the strange man following her so she went in Krystal. After finding some change in her pants pocket, she approached the counter, counted out the change which totaled almost a dollar, and ordered three mini Krystal burgers. Steele sat down in a booth and began to eat when the man slid in across from her. Her jaw stopped moving, and she said nothing. Then, the stranger reached for one of the little cartons, pulled out the tiny burger and began to eat it. Steele’s eyes widened, but she said nothing, believing he must be hungry.

“I really do have a phone in my car.”

“I’m sure you do. I don’t need to make a call now.” Steele said kindly.

“My name is Bill. I own a construction company here.”

“Really? That’s cool. Nice to meet you, Bill,” Steele said. She didn’t believe a word he said.

“What are you doing here all by yourself so late at night?” the man asked her.

“I just stopped to make a phone call, that’s all,” Steele answered.

He pulled a business card out of his pocket, placed it on the table and slid the card across the table to Steele.

“Here, take my card. You can call the number in the morning and check me out.”

Steele picked up the card, looked at it and said nothing, not wanting to aggravate the delusional man. She shoved the card in her pants pocket. He stood up to leave and asked her, “Are you sure you’re ok? You don’t need any help?”

“No, I’m good, but thank you,” Steele replied.

How was a street person going to help her? The stranger said goodbye, left the restaurant, and drove off in a late-model sedan. Steele sat there dumbfounded and pondered the weird encounter. She stared at his business card with phone numbers listed for both office and car. Dewitt Construction. If he had a phone in his car, she was an orangutan’s aunt, Steele thought.