The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 12:46 am Thursday, November 24, 2022

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An Epidemic

By Julie Terry Cartner

Peering around the corner, Tyler checked for anyone who might accost him. Seeing nobody, he slipped down the alley between two stores. He’d noticed the broken bed lying beside the dumpster earlier that day and hoped nobody else had. He’d discovered it when he’d been scrounging for food. Not visible from the sidewalk, the bed, hopefully, hadn’t been seen by any other vagrants. Tonight, at least, he’d have something soft under his head.

The night was going to be cold, and not being directly on the ground would be a nice change. He had no doubt it was a temporary fix, but he’d take what he could while he could. Either the mattress would be picked up by the trash men the next day or someone older, meaner, or more street-smart would claim it as his own. Tyler pictured himself trying to discreetly drag it down Main Street to a hideaway of his own and had to laugh, albeit bitterly, at the image.

Huddled down in the mattress, his hands tucked inside his coat sleeves, his feet and legs curled in, Tyler thought about how things had come to this point. Only a few days ago, his mother, a single mom, had kicked him out. He hadn’t done anything wrong; he was just one more mouth to feed than his mom could handle. “You’re old enough to take care of yourself,” she’d said. “I just can’t.” Tyler understood, to some degree. His mom had worked at a minimum wage job until she had Maggie, his now one-month-old sister. She joined Melody, five, and Brent, seven. The house was bursting at the seams, and money was not just scarce, it was all but non-existent.

And so, Tyler had packed his bookbag with warm clothes, an extra pair of shoes, and his prized possession, a well-loved copy of his favorite book, Huckleberry Finn. I’ll be like Huck, he’d thought to himself, striking out on my own and learning to navigate the dangerous waters of my life. Since leaving home, he’d thought many times that life back then had to have been easier to survive than life today was. At least Huck had a river and a raft, he thought. He could catch fish to eat. I guess I could figure out how to trap some rats, he thought, shuddering.

The first night on his own, he’d gone to a homeless shelter, thinking that would be the safest place for him. But sadly, the shelter was overcrowded, and he hadn’t been able to get in. Then, later, when he’d removed his bookbag from his tired shoulders, someone had stolen it before he could as much as stretch his weary muscles. He’d survived the night by walking around until he was exhausted, then curling up under some trees in the park. He’d managed to get a few hours of sleep before he was awakened by a policeman running off some homeless men lying on benches. Not wanting to get caught since he had no idea what would happen to him, he’d lain still and hidden until the police left.  He spent the next few days trying to get a job as a dishwasher or any menial job, but nobody was interested in hiring an underage, homeless kid. He’d found places to nap for short stretches of time. Now, with only the clothes on his back and the less than $5.00 he had in his pocket, Tyler still had no idea where to go or what to do. His choices were slim, few legal and fewer safe.

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. “At least 700,000 adolescent minors, ages 13 to 17 experience a form of homelessness in the course of a year [in America].” “Homeless in America.” Please consider supporting one of your local organizations that work with the homeless and hungry like Family Promise of Davie County, Just Hope, and A Storehouse for Jesus.

Around We Go

By Gaye Hoots

While I was in Advance, I did visit my friend in Hickory. and he is doing well for a 90-year-old living independently with family nearby. I also spent time with another friend visiting from Tennessee and restoring the home built by his grandfather. He, his daughter, and his son-in-law are making progress, and there is something new each day.

I also got the ultrasound as a follow-up to my mammogram, and it was simply a cyst that required no treatment. The COVID shot will have to wait until the next trip.

Faye came home but showed slight improvement and still has a headache from the head injury. Nick and her family were by her side. We believe it would slowly improve.

I did revisit Judy Howard, and she seemed to be slowly adjusting on each visit. I also stopped to say goodbye on my way home, and she seems to enjoy our time together.

While Faye was in the hospital, I did get a meal with Tiffany, Jaden, Briggs, and Nick. Kendra stayed one night in the hospital with Faye and helped her after she came home. She had worked on a neuro unit and was a huge help.

I had hoped to visit Bill Evans, who is in rehab at Pineville following his stroke, but Faye’s injury did not allow for that. Faye was home for a few days, and I headed back to Morehead to spend a few days with Cami and the twins. We visited Cassidy on Saturday in Wilmington, and I headed back to Oriental on Sunday. Vann’s birthday was the 12th, but I had to settle for a text as I could not reach him by phone. I look forward to his and Laura’s wedding in December at Ft. Walton Beach.

When I returned home Sunday, I retrieved my mail from a neighbor who had gathered it for me the two weeks I was gone. I was happy to be back home and enjoy my water view. Before I unpacked, I received calls from Nick that Faye was back in the emergency room and later admitted to Wake in Winston. Successive calls revealed she had cranial bleeding, and doctors decided to do a procedure that involved going through a blood vessel to the site to stop the bleeding. The surgical schedule was full, so hopefully late today. Nick is with her, and I will head back to Advance tomorrow morning. I am keeping everyone in my prayers.

The Forgotten Swing

By Marie Craig

     For several months, I watched the process of removing a small home near me to make way for PROGRESS.  I imagine, once upon a time, it was a family’s pride and joy.  Now it is in the way of making bigger and better and newer homes and businesses.  There were large maple trees in front which were chopped down and became firewood or trash.  A big truck loaded up the little house on steel beams, and it sat there for several weeks until one day, truck and house were gone.

     As I drove by recently, I had to stop for the red light on the corner and had time to see that behind the little house site, there is a low-hanging, short-rope, child’s swing attached to a low branch of a pine tree.  It looks very sad, if I may personify a swing.

     Once, there was a little child whose parent probably made the swing from scratch and hung it up for the child’s delight.  It would be interesting to know how old that child is now and the path to adulthood.  Perhaps another generation of swings has been produced.

     As Davie County continues to increase in population and commerce, I hope memories and examples of earlier, simpler life will continue to be seen and remembered.  The many historic sites in our fair county are precious and worth saving.  We are unique with so many huge, old homes and histories.  I hope they don’t get wiped out.