When my American flag meets my Texas star!
When my American flag meets my Texas star!
Excerpt from my book, More Than Everything
A year goes by. A year of life in the fast lane with lots of money, and we finally move out of the rent house in town. Shane’s paranoia has maxed out. He is now convinced we are being watched and is sure the cops are listening to our calls, so he finds and leases some property out in the country. Ten secluded acres in Wise County. There is an old run-down trailer house, a big barn, a chicken coop, and a huge garden plot. There is no phone line and Shane likes it that way. Shane decides that it is secluded enough that we can live there and he can cook his speed there too every few months when we need to make more money. He and his buddies buy a big, prefabricated barn and put it out there next to the trailer. We store all of our furniture and boxed belongings in the barn for the time being and live in the old, furnished trailer with the ratty gold shag carpet, a gold crushed-velvet sofa and a heavy, Mexican-style wood coffee table in the living room. In the kitchen there is a yellow Formica table and two matching chairs that is the spitting image of the one my parents had when I was growing up. The one that mama would sit at, smoking cigarettes and talking on the phone while she swatted me away like a fly. One bare light bulb hangs over the center of the table. One bedroom is empty and in the other one, we throw a double-size mattress on the floor and use a cardboard box for a nightstand. We stack other cardboard boxes on their sides, so the openings face outward, forming a series of cubby holes, and use them as a dresser for our clothes.
It is great being out in the country, far away from the junkies. Our dog, a black lab named Dino loves running wild. A friend brings his dog out there too, also a black lab, and Dino is in heaven. Those dogs play, run, swim, hunt and have the time of their lives. For several months it is bliss; just me, Shane and the dogs living quietly, taking long walks in the woods and going fishing. Shane and I have never spent so much quality time together. It is nice. We are relaxed out here away from the city. Shane actually talks to me and hardly ever yells. He tells me things I’ve never known about him and I fall in love all over again. We sit in lawn chairs under the stars and listen to the crickets and the hoot of an owl. We sleep soundly and make love loudly and shower together every day. Shane finds an old tiller in the barn and after a day of tinkering on it, has it running like a top. He tills up the huge half acre garden plot for days and the earth is rich and fragrant; I sit in the big middle of the loose dirt grabbing handfuls and letting it sift through my fingers like all-purpose flour. We plant every kind of vegetable you can think of and revel at each tiny, green shoot that sprouts from the ground. We buy rolls of chicken wire and patch up the pens and fill them with chickens, turkeys and geese. We spend the spring mending fence, planting flowers, and sprucing up the place.
One day I am the only one home and I’m mowing the front lawn barefooted. I decide to go inside and put on some shoes before I try to mow the backyard where the grass is six inches high. I turn off the mower, run inside, grab a pair of socks out of the sock cubbyhole, and my tennis shoes from the closet and sit on the edge of the bed to put them on. As I’m tying the last lace, a large plastic thermos suddenly tumbles down from a shelf in the closet and lands at my feet. I jump up and look into the closet to see why the thermos would have fallen and I’m eye to eye with a huge chicken snake, as big around as a can of Coke, coiled and stacked on the shelf like a garden hose. Continue reading
When I was in high school I worked as a waitress for ninety cents an hour plus tips. On top of going to school, I worked seven days a week at the Village Inn Pancake House. Monday through Friday it was just me and the cook from 3p – 10p. On the weekends, I worked the breakfast shift with several other waitresses (one being my older sister), serving eggs over easy and buttermilk pancakes to GI’s from the nearby Air Force Base. On a good Saturday I’d bring home $60 in tips. For a sixteen year old in 1976, that wasn’t too shabby.
On the occasional Sunday I’d work a double shift. After working from 6a – 2p, I’d pick up the 2p – 6p shift and literally work all day. One such Sunday, driving home from a double shift sent me through the windshield of a Volkswagon, but that’s a story for another day.
In the summertime, there was no school, and I didn’t have to be at work until 3p during the week so I could sleep in and still have a few hours of down time. I had recently gotten my driver’s license and had my own car – an orange 1973 Chevy Vega – and had been promising my younger sister that I’d take her and some friends to the lake. They wanted to swim and I wanted to lay out and get some sun, so we packed up the Vega and headed out one morning.
There was only one other car parked in the beach area when we arrived at around nine. There hadn’t been anyone at the guard gate to take our three dollars and I found that odd. The other car was a dark green Chevy Corvette. I’m pretty sure it was a ’72 because I noticed the two rectangular exhaust pipes and split bumper. Daddy taught me a few things about cars, including how to tell what make and model I’m looking at, fueling a lifelong admiration for design and details.
I zipped the Vega into a spot a decent distance from the Vette because there was a big burly dude standing next to the car with his arms crossed. I glanced around and saw one head bobbing in the water a short distance from the beach. I figured they were together and didn’t think too much about it. Continue reading