The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:05 am Thursday, July 25, 2019

“Amelia”

By Marie Craig

When my son and his family bought a home about 18 years ago, a dog by name of Amelia came with the purchase.  The sellers were moving into an apartment and couldn’t take this big dog of questionable ancestry but with definite chow properties.  Amelia had rusty-brown long fur and was a gentle soul.  I always enjoyed her company when I went to visit.  She was an outdoor dog and didn’t like to come inside.  There were six children in the family, but they took time to make Amelia feel like a part of them.

     Neighbors across the street kept two vicious dogs behind a flimsy fence.  My son was leaning over trying to get an obnoxious, noisy weed-eater to cooperate when one of the neighbor dogs escaped and headed right for my son’s back with mouth wide open.  Amelia came roaring down the hill and chased the dog away.  My daughter-in-law witnessed this event, and Amelia became a hero.

     My son’s next-door neighbor had a cat the same color as Amelia.  One hot summer day when I was visiting, I realized Amelia hadn’t been brushed lately, so I asked for tools and went outside to groom her.  She was very patient as usual and seemed to enjoy the attention.  I had a huge pile of fur that I’d removed from her, and pondered what to do with it.  Then I remembered that I’d read about birds using such materials in nest building, so I just put the mound of fur under a big bush so the birds could find it.

     Later that day, one of the boys came running in the house with tears in his eyes, screaming, “Mama, Amelia’s killed the neighbor’s cat!!”  She hurried out to discover that all was well, and we all had a good laugh about it, even Amelia.

“Up In The Hills”

By Kevin F. Wishon

“I was hiking on the other side of the holler last week. I saw some great places to explore over there!” Charles blurted out as the first kids approached him in the edge of a cornfield.

Bud’s dad, Marklin, was in the back of the group. They were walking up the dirt road to a nearby convenience store for a drink and a pack of nabs. Marklin had encouraged the kids to stop and see if Charles wanted to join them.

“We’re heading up to Tucker’s Grocery. You wanna come with us?” Bud asked.

Charles glanced over at a figure in overalls hoeing corn several rows away. He couldn’t hear his dad’s voice. But, he didn’t need to hear. His dad’s head slowly swaying back in forth in the negative answered his question. Charles wanted to object. However, he knew the young corn couldn’t wait.

“I appreciate it,” Charles said slowly, “I’m gonna have to pass this time.”

“That’s a shame.” Marklin continued, “Now, what did you say about the other side of that holler?”

“Oh, yes! I found several groves, streams, and meadows in the hills on the other side of the holler; places I’ve never seen. I was hoping several of you could join me on my next hike over there.”

A few boys said, “Sure!” Other kids eagerly nodded their heads in unison.

“Well, fellas, I’m sure there are some interesting places to see up there. Still, I’d be very careful,” Marklin said.

“Why is that, Dad?” Bud queried.

“Well, I’ve heard several folks over that way mention a big black bear living in those woods. You boys should be careful and stay away from the streams. That’s where they catch fish and drink water.”

Satisfied that his words had put anxiety in their little hearts and minds, Marklin turned to depart and added, “I doubt any of you could out-run a big black bear.”

Stunned by the revelation, many of the boys followed Marklin’s lead and departed. A few boys said goodbye to a crest-fallen Charles before they rejoined the group walking up the road. He wiped sweat from his forehead and returned to his chore of hoeing corn. Later that evening, after they had finished working in the cornfield, Charles questioned his dad about the bear.

“I explored the other side of the holler last week. Earlier today, I mentioned it to the guys, and Bud’s dad said a black bear is up in those woods. I’ve never heard of black bear living in this area. Have you heard such?”

Quiet and introspective, Charles’s dad paused before answering.

“You should stay out of that area, Charles. It’s not safe. There’s no black bear up there. But, I’m sure Marklin has a liquor still up there. A still he doesn’t want anybody to find.”

“Goodbye Friend”

By Gaye Hoots

I heard this week that a childhood friend had died. We lived only a few miles apart, but I had not seen him in the last few years. The last time I saw him was at the post office in Advance. He was walking with a cane in each hand. We talked a few minutes and went our separate ways.

When we planned our high school reunion, I called and spoke with his wife, Linda. She said he was having health issues and might not attend. Charles had asthma as a child. He was able to participate in sports, but I can remember sitting behind him in class and hearing a high-pitched wheeze when he breathed. He told me later in life that he had developed heart problems.

Charles and his family moved to Advance when he was in elementary school. His father was the minister at Advance Baptist Church, where I attended, and Mr. Crawford officiated at my wedding. His mother taught at Shady Grove and was our sixth-grade teacher. His sister was a few years older than us and was an excellent role model for the youth in our church. She loaned me her collection of books, took us on trips to the beach and Lake James and counseled us. Most important, she set high standards for herself and us. Johnny, the younger brother, was my sister’s age.

Our church was a small one, but there were several families with children. Some were the Markland brothers, Charles and Doug, Charles and Johnny Crawford, Eddie and Cathy Myers, The Hall sisters, Barbara and Judy, the Clinard brothers, George and Charlie, and several nieces and nephews of Vestal Potts. Most of us attended school together, too, so it was like an extended family.

We lost Eddie Myers in a car wreck when he was only 17 years old. Barbara Hall had rheumatoid arthritis, requiring many joint replacements, which contributed to her death as an adult. We were a tight-knit but competitive group when it came to grades and sports. All of our group were well-grounded. We played and had fun, but I don’t remember anyone ever testing limits or breaking rules.

Somehow, as we age, those memories become more precious to us. When you grow up in a small town, you truly feel you are being raised by a village. We knew our behavior was being monitored, and we knew the rules. Charles was a typical Davie County boy, kind, polite, and well-behaved. I don’t remember any boy from Davie ever putting peer pressure on me. They always treated me the way they would want their sister treated.

Linda Crawford worked at Shady Grove School, and their oldest daughter was the same age as my oldest daughter, Cami. They grew up together. Charles and Linda lost a son a few months after he was born. I remember this vividly because I had lost my first child within twenty-four hours of her birth and could identify with their loss.

Our own families and careers make it difficult to stay connected, but I still see the friends I grew up with as the youngsters I knew many years ago. One of our high school classmates, Charles Crenshaw, has managed to keep us connected by email and inform us of events in the lives of classmates. We are deeply indebted to him for this.

I went by to check on Linda after I heard of Charles dying. Their youngest daughter informed me that Linda was in the hospital with blood clots in her lungs. I am praying for the Crawford family.

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