The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:15 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

“Selling Vegetables”

By Mike Gowen

Some of my favorite memories involve times with my grandparents. When I was about 12 years old, I would go with my grandmother, we called her Little Granny, from the sticks of Gladys, VA to the big city of Lynchburg. Little Granny and my great-grandmother, Big Granny, raised a huge garden. Each Saturday Little Granny would fill the trunk of her Ford Fairlane with vegetables and drive to the city to sell them. I got to go along and help. I was probably more company for Granny than help. I loved those Saturdays.

Granny would drive to some of the poorest sections of the city where people had few options to go to grocery stores. We’d park on the street, and people would see us and come to see what selections we had that week. My grandmothers were gifted gardeners, and we always had lots of robust tomatoes, 3 pounds for a dollar. There was always a variety of vegetables that included cucumbers and green beans, peas, butter beans, and more. Granny would send me to knock on doors to invite people to see what we had. We would sell through the morning then break for lunch and head to a local café that served tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. To this day one of my favorite comfort meals.

On one of the streets, we would frequent houses that were about twelve feet above street level. There was a sidewalk, and a concrete retaining wall, with steps that went up to each house along the street. I was small at the time and got tired of walking up and down the steps, so I started to cut across the yards going from door to door. That worked well until I crossed into one yard where a big German shepherd was sitting on the porch. I was halfway across the yard when the dog barked, and I saw him come running toward me. Panicking and not knowing what to do, I took off running toward the street. The owner had a beautiful hedge of boxwoods that surrounded the front of her yard to block the view of the street below. I ran right through that hedge and was still running when I hit the sidewalk below. I don’t remember hitting the ground or if it hurt when I did. All I saw was a really big dog, and the rest is a blur.

I didn’t go with my granny to the city for a couple of weeks after that because it scared me so. Little Granny told me the woman had asked about me, being none too happy that there was now a hole in her perfectly manicured hedge. My grandmother offered to reimburse her, but she refused, just asking her to tell me never to cut across her yard again. I promise you she had no reason to worry.

“What Happened?”

By Marie Craig

Amanda was born in 1950 in a small town in North Carolina.  She lived a typical life of knowing everybody in town, and she enjoyed being on her own as she walked through the small town as she greeted neighbors and storekeepers.  It was a happy life, and she felt very comfortable and safe in her environment.  When she was sixteen years old in 1966, she was with a group of three other teenagers coming home from a movie in the larger, nearby town.  This was before safety features put an emphasis on seatbelts in a car.  They were about to be late getting everybody back home to meet curfews.  As they sped home, a huge truck was passing a car and met them head-on.  Amanda was in the front seat and was thrown out of the car into a big tree.  Finally, a motorist came by and found the wreckage.  The driver got out and tried to help but then just drove on until he could find a telephone to call for help.

     The ambulance arrived after a while.  Amanda seemed to be hurt the most with a terrible head injury.  The ambulance took all the teens to a hospital in a nearby town and all four were admitted.  As days went by, the other three teens were released to go home to recover.  Amanda was still in a coma.  Much time went by, and her parents were finally told that she might not ever come to.  They found a care center where she could live.

     Many years went by.  In 2018, she was 68 years old and still in a coma.  There was a new procedure that a doctor wanted to try.  Her parents were deceased, so there was nobody to give permission.  The doctor administered this new treatment, and the entire staff was amazed to see Amanda open her eyes and look around.  She asked where she was and inquired about her parents and her friends.  The staff tried to figure out how to explain the loss of fifty-two years.  Amanda was expecting to be a beautiful sixteen-year-old teen, but when they finally brought her a mirror, she saw that she was a senior citizen with gray hair.

She asked for a television set so she could watch some of her favorite shows, Andy Griffith, Bonanza, Flipper, and Beverly Hillbillies.  When they turned the TV on, she saw show after show with people shooting each other and calling each other crude names.  When she watched the news programs, she couldn’t believe how angry and disrespectful the newscasters were.  Amanda made the comment, “TV used to be funny.  I would laugh and laugh at Lucille Ball and Gomer Pyle.  Nothing’s funny anymore.  What happened?  Do you think maybe all this violence on TV has caused violence in real life?”  The caregivers laughed at such a ridiculous idea.

Since it was only a few weeks before Christmas, she said the main show she wanted to see was the Perry Como Christmas Special.  They had to explain that he was deceased and that you couldn’t say the word “Christmas” anymore.  Why?  What happened?

After she regained her strength with physical therapy, she wanted to go see her hometown and go in some of the little stores.  They drove her into the center of her town, and there were many vacant stores.  Where did they go?  Then they drove her to the edge of town, and there was one huge store, almost bigger than the downtown area.  They told her that she could buy anything in that one store.  But she told them that she missed going from store to store and greeting her old friends.

The third thing that was amazing to Amanda also reminded her of being a teenager and reading Dick Tracy comics.  He had a two-way wrist TV which was such an unbelievable gadget.  One day, she saw a nurse talking to her wrist.  She explained to Amanda that it linked to her phone and tablet.  Amanda asked her if it was a Dick Tracy watch, and the nurse gave her a funny look of, “Who’s that?”

Losing fifty-two years was tough for Amanda. There were many challenges in adapting to a whole new world, but the concept of violence and crudeness was the hardest part for her to accept.

“Tiny Terrors”

By Gaye Hoots

My twin granddaughters arrived twenty-one months ago, and I have not been able to keep my own life organized since they were born. Yesterday I was having lunch when I received a call from their nanny requesting help. When I arrived, I was no longer needed, and it was time for their naps. I could hear their cries of protest. My sister called and wanted to see the twins, so I picked her up when I got the signal that nap time was over.

     We opened the door and were met by two toddlers yelling and pushing through a gate to the foyer to get to us. My daughter had bought the gate for eighty dollars and installed it herself hoping to contain the girls when company arrived or departed. It also kept them from opening the front door. Aubrey and Everly grabbed us around our legs and held on until Faye was seated. They then climbed into our laps touching our noses saying, “nose” and poking fingers into our eyes saying, “eyes.” Suddenly there was a beeping which quickly became louder. It was Faye’s Life Alert alarm. It rang until I could get back to the foyer, retrieve her purse, and she could call to say the alarm was a false one.

     They had triggered an alarm once before. The first time a friend of mine was wearing one that started talking to her when Aubrey pressed it, even though she concealed it inside her clothing. The girls have learned that coughing gets a quick response because of the fear of choking. They will fake coughing and laugh when we scurry to check on them. Phones are very attractive to them. If they see a phone they can get to, they grab it and start pressing buttons. It often results in an actual call where they will attempt to talk to the person they reach. They beg, “puppy” hoping to get to look at puppy pictures on the phone or computer if one is available.

     A favorite activity is to go next door and visit their neighbor’s chickens, which they call, “Pock Pocks.” They will leave the chickens, blowing them kisses, and return home only to demand, “Yummy, Pock Pock,” a request to eat chicken. It is a favorite food of theirs, but they have not yet deduced the connection between the live birds and the chicken strips.

     Faye and I visited the girls for about one hour. I had two bruises and a sore place on my chest where Aubrey would place her elbow to push away from me and jump from my lap. Faye did not do an injury count. She was trying to retrieve her phone that Everly had dropped down her blouse. The girls clung to us as I tried to secure the gate with a bungee cord while their nanny restrained them. They wailed as if they would never see us again, but we knew that shortly they would be engrossed in a movie, play, or music.

     I tend to blame the girls for the disorganization in my own life, but I go through withdrawal if I go more than twenty-four hours without seeing them No matter how many lumps and bumps I get, I keep going back for more, and I can’t pass a Chick-fil-A without calling to see if they want “Pock Pock.”