The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:11 am Thursday, November 8, 2018

“Pistol Packing Mama”

By Gaye Hoots

My mother-in-law, Rhea Potts, had a personality very similar to my father’s, Ken Hoots. She never went looking for trouble, but if it arrived on her doorstep, she could handle it. Rhea kept an old pistol in her bedroom and kept it loaded. Several of her friends and family members gathered at her house for a Tupperware Party. During the demonstration, our kids were playing in the yard outside. The kids came in and said that some older boys had pulled into the drive and were scratching the paint off Aunt Betty’s new car.

We looked out to see an old convertible in the drive with a young male at the wheel. Three other youths were near Betty’s car and appeared to be touching her car. Rhea ran onto the porch with her pistol in her hand. She fired two or three shots into the air. The driver of the convertible started the engine and roared out of the drive as the three other boys jumped for the car. Two of them had one leg in the car and the other leg outside the car as they raced away.

They had scratched the paint on Betty’s red Plymouth. We found out later that Betty’s husband, Gray, was driving the Plymouth when he approached a boy and girl in the old convertible. They parked on the Potts property, and Gray told them to leave. The driver of the convertible had recognized the red Plymouth and stopped to exact revenge.

Rhea’s party was the best Tupperware party I ever attended.

On another occasion, we were awakened at Rhea’s house by a car on the ballfield beside her house. It was after midnight, and the car was drawing marble rings on the ballfield while blowing the car horn. Rhea went to the side yard and popped off a few shots into the air. The car spun away.

     Later in the week, her grandson told her a boy he knew accused Rhea of trying to shoot him. “I told him you were shooting into the air, and that if you had aimed he would be dead,” her grandson said. We were never disturbed by that boy again.

     My favorite story was about skunks who had taken up residence in the dug-out basement under Rhea’s house. She saw a skunk in her front yard and grabbed her trusty pistol. She shot the skunk but only stunned him. The pistol jammed and would not fire again. Rhea grabbed a broom from the porch and beat the skunk to death with the broom. She then called her favorite son-in-law, who lived next door to dispose of the skunk.

“The Safety of Dark Corners”

By  Kevin F. Wishon

“We are out of here for the night. Are you good to lock it up?” Two managers are standing in the doorway of Darrel’s office. What can he say? Why do you lazy bums leave me here to lock up an entire textile factory by myself? Instead, he looks down at the production numbers in his hand and nods in the affirmative. “Yeah. I’ll be fine. Have a good night.” As a young manager, Darrel is careful not to complain. He desires management’s confidence, and asking the other department managers to stay behind will not build the trust he is seeking.

     Dim fluorescent lighting flickers overhead as Darrel begins inspecting the exterior perimeter doors. Out of the corner of his eye, something moves, so he stops and looks across two aisles of storage racks. “Who’s there?” Assuming it’s another manager, he continues. “I’m locking up and setting the alarm, so you have fifteen minutes to exit the building!” No one replies. Shaking his head, Darrel completes the review of the shipping department by securing the roll-up doors. He dislikes the creepiness of the locking up. Dim lighting and strange sounds make the task unnerving.

     Inspecting the cutting department, he finds everything turned off, or in standby mode. Moving on to the stitching area, Darrel listens carefully hoping to determine which machines are still idling. In the sparse overhead lighting, he carefully walks from station to station looking for any equipment left running. With so many machines packed into such a small area, he makes slow progress. Darrel searches in the near darkness for open air valves, and the radio left playing static among the numerous stitching workstations. Eventually, nothing but the low hiss of leaking air hoses and the creaking of equipment cooling is audible.

     Walking into the entrance hallway, Darrel turns one last time to look across the factory floor. He sighs, satisfied he has addressed all the issues and can finally leave. Pressing a select set of numbers into the security keypad, Darrel watches for the sensor to read clear so that he can exit the building. The alarm readout revolves through the exterior door sensors three times before a red light indicates a door is not secure. “Oh great!” Setting his paperwork on the floor, he glances at the module briefly to see which entry did not clear.

     Once Darrel reaches the unsecured door, he opens and slams it closed hoping to seat the sensor firmly. Satisfied he has addressed the issue, he returns to the security keypad and enters his code. Within moments, a green light appears. “Finally!” Eager to make his exit, Darrel thrusts his bodyweight against the exterior door and exits the building. He firmly closes it before the timer arms the security alarm. Darrel is relieved to be departing until he discovers another car parked in the parking lot next to his.

     With everyone’s departure, only one car is supposed to be in the parking lot. Whose vehicle is this? Darrel can’t see anyone inside the other vehicle. Abruptly, from the front corner of the building, someone speaks. “Man, I’ve been trying to get your attention, but all the doors are locked! I beat on a back door, but I guess you didn’t hear me.” A figure on the sidewalk quickly approaches Darrel frightening him. Thankfully, he recognizes the voice and resists the urge to run to his car. It’s Kyle.

   “It’s a little late for a nightly visit. Is something wrong?” Darrel asks. Kyle is a daytime worker at the factory. He met and worked with Kyle shortly after Darrel’s employment began.

“Man, I hate to bother you, but can I borrow some money?”

Upset by the request, Darrel almost loses his temper until he sees Kyle’s eyes. In the glare of the exterior floodlights, he can see Kyle’s bloodshot eyes and flushed skin.

“Man- look I’ll pay you back. I just need some money tonight!”

     Darrel is livid inside. He has heard Kyle has a drinking problem, but never seen any indication of it, until now. Darrel wants to go home, but he is now in a quandary. If he gives Kyle the money, he will undoubtedly drive drunk, potentially causing harm. If Darrel declines to give him the money, Kyle will drive somewhere else looking for the money. Additionally, Darrell wants to avoid an argument with a drunk, displeased Kyle.

     “I will give you the money if I can drop you off at your house. Will that work for you?” Eager for the money, Kyle seems to forget he is leaving his vehicle behind at the textile factory.

“Yeah man. That will be great!”

Kyle gets into Darrel’s car, and they depart the parking lot. As Darrel drives away, he thinks about the situation and vows never to secure his workplace alone. I will never babysit a factory or an adult ever again!

“Learning Italian”

By N. R. Tucker \

It became apparent to me in a short amount of time, that my brain barely handles English. I tried but never became fluent in Italian. I could hear the conversation, but by the time I conjugated the verb I wanted to use and remembered if the noun was masculine or feminine, the conversation had moved on. For the most part, I listened and understood what was said, but I rarely gathered up the courage to speak. At no time did I reach the peak of language comprehension. I never thought in Italian. I could understand Italian as it was spoken, but I always had to think in English and translate it to Italian.

I could and still can spell better in Italian than in English. Italians pronounce words the way they are spelled. If only English did that. One problem I did have was pronouncing the letter “R”. I have trouble with that in English as well, but I simply found other words to use and bypassed my minor speech impediment. With Italian, I simply didn’t know that many words.

To help me adjust, Ed enrolled me in one-on-one Italian lessons. It was wonderful for two reasons. First, I did learn a lot. Second, once a week I would go downtown, alone, to have adult conversation without the kids needing me. Both of my kids went to the Italian Asilo and spoke and understood Italian.

I had one friend who was French, married to an Italian, and we got together frequently so our kids could play together. Her father had been at the French Embassy in the States and her English was excellent. She wanted her sons to speak English with me for their practice.  One day her eldest son (around eight-years-old) walked into the room and spoke to me in Italian.

In English, she said, “Speak English with Mrs. Tucker.”

He looked at his mother and replied in Italian, “It’s ok Mama, she speaks Italian now.”

I was so proud.