Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guest Writer: j guevara

Bro

Having a knack at raising money – for other people – I got 'volunteered' to be on the local Big Brothers of America board of directors – ‘Managing Director, fund raising’. Although I consented, I refused to bend to their persistent pestering to take on a ‘Little’, as the organization affectedly calls them. I had no desire to deal with some lost, unfortunate juvenile, with a life already out-of-luck before his teens. Hey, it’s a tough world.
The 'Pizza Festival' netted $600, but the 1st annual Big Brothers’ golf tournament promised to do better. To give it more legitimacy the committee felt the ‘Littles’ should take part. The problem was the ‘Littles’ were too little. "How ‘bout adding a putting contest?" I suggested. End of problem.
The morning of the tournament, Pat called. Pat, the most cunning, underhanded sneakiest woman I’ve ever known, had one goal in life: get me to accept a ‘Little’. She was relentless, though I had to admit, no one was better at pairing ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’. She could pick a perfect match at a hundred yards, in the dark, connive you into that match, and have you thinking it was your own decision.
Knowing that, I should have been on high alert. But it was early Sunday morning, bad hangover; she caught me off guard. A ‘Little’ needed a ride, she said, and it was on my way; could I please pick him up in time for the contest? No problem, I thought. I thought wrong.
It was pouring rain. I barely tooted the horn when out came this skinny little whelp dodging puddles with the agility of a first-string half-back, leaping toys and hedge like a track star. I leaned over and cracked the door. He jumped in dripping wet, water running down his stringy blond hair, over his youthful face of pre-puberty innocence, past a wide smile full of teeth, and onto my new $200 leather seat covers. Not an auspicious beginning.
With barely a ‘howdy’ he laid into a machine gun chatter with enough details to stymie a mainframe. In fewer minutes than his age – eleven – I knew his whole life story. Twice! Steve didn’t just worm his way into your heart; he jack-hammered his way in.
 When we reached the golf course the rain had stopped, clouds parted, and Pat was waving for us to hurry, the putting contest was about to begin.
About twenty ‘Littles’ prepared for the elimination rounds. Some were shorter than the putter, so they'd be out soon. At least they got to compete, which was the whole idea, right? The ‘Littles’ thought otherwise. To them, this was the PGA.
Round by round the mini-midgets were eliminated. Some groaned, other moaned, a few threw a fit. The adults tried to calm them with admonitions about being good sports. I was no help quoting Vince Lombardi: "Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser."
It wasn’t long before it became obvious whom it would come down to. Steve was definitely a front-runner. He had a steady hand, good concentration, coordination, and a nice smooth stroke for his age. Steve was a natural athlete; lack of confidence was his only setback.
The other contender was a wiseass, too big for his age and his britches; a dough ball, a foot taller and two feet wider than his peers, who’d go through life thinking 'clever' is the same as 'intelligent'. He was sharp, he knew it, and didn’t hesitate to use it. Every round he’d bully his way to go first. He understood psychology. Unfortunately for him, so did I.
As expected, it boiled down to Big Butt and Steve. Before final round, they took a break. Steve had already resigned himself to second-place. He was satisfied with that. The kid had two years on him; Steve didn’t think he stood a chance. I took him off to the side and gave him a crash course in Psych 101.
“Look, the trick is to go first,” I said. “Whoever goes first has no pressure. Even if it takes 10 putts, number two still has to beat that. Therefore, number two is under pressure. That’s how he’s winning; he’s not that good. He’s counting on you beating yourself. He’s gone first every round. Stand up to him and demand he let somebody else go first for a change.”
Steve gazed up at me with his wide smile and the most incredible gleam in his bright blue eyes; a look I will never forget. It was as though in his mind I was the smartest, most all-knowing person he would ever meet. I was Apollo, Zeus, and Thor all rolled into one. For that brief moment, I actually thought I could command lightning, wind and thunder. It felt good, of course, until it dawned on me what a heavy burden that is. Like I said, I’m nobody’s big brother, and I sure as hell was not interested in the role of God.
The final round was ready to begin. Big Butt muscled his way to the green ready to take his putt. I stood watching. Steve was nervous, a little scared, he was on his own. He started to back away, then glanced over at me watching to see what he would do. He’d resigned himself back to second-place. Ashamed he had to let me down, his sad face begged me to understand. For once, I wished I was God; maybe then I could forgive him.
Instead, I looked up at the sky and shook my head in disappointment. That was all Steve needed to see. The next thing I heard was this little guy’s voice trying to sound strong, exerting his rights against all odds for the first time in the real world.
Wait! I think I should go first. I’m younger, he’s older. He’s gone first every time.”
“What difference does it make?” Big Butt shouted.
“Good,” said Steve, crowding his way to the green, and nudging his opponent aside, “since it doesn’t make any difference to you, I’ll just go ahead and go first.”
Calm, cool, steady, deep breath, eyes glued to the ball, putter squared to the cup, heels locked, knees slightly bent, back straight, just as he’d seen on television.
Butt had a ‘Big’ somewhere in the crowd; I’d already scoped him out, casually made my way over, and stood with arms folded next to him. With both of us focused on the action, I leaned toward him slightly and said out of the corner of my mouth, “Five bucks he wins.”
Big’ looked at me, rolled his eyes, laughed, and said, “Make it ten.”
One stroke, two strokes, three strokes, contact, follow through, the ball rolled over the green straight for the cup. A thirty-foot putt-in-one by an eleven-year-old was too good to believe …so I didn’t. Nevertheless, it got pretty darn close. Five feet, still not an easy putt. Steve squared off to do it again.
One stroke, two strokes, three strokes, contact, follow through, and again the ball rolled over the green straight for the cup. Only this time there was no doubt where it was gonna end up. It was headin’ for home. It hit the cup slightly off-center and started to drop after it circled the edge a time or two. Centrifugal force took over, however, and the ball made an exit stage right.
There it sat, less than a blade of grass away from the cup looking as sad as the sigh from the crowd. I tried with everything I had to call forth my power to command the wind. Forget lightning and thunder, one small breeze was all it would take. Just this one time, and I promised never to ask again. Apollo, Zeus, and Thor all turned a deaf ear.
Without ceremony, Steve didn’t even bother to square up; a light tap put it in. He then slung that putter over his shoulder, strutted off the green right past his opponent, and without a pause looked dead up at him, and said, “Next.”
At last count, it was 16 and the ball was nowhere near the cup. The putting contest was over, but in frustrated determination, the poor kid had turned it into a contest with himself. It was difficult not to feel pity, for that is one contest you can never win.
Steve picked up his trophy, I picked up my ten, and we headed back for home. He sat silently holding his prize. We were both too proud to talk. After awhile, Steve turned towards me, smiled, and said, “You know, this trophy belongs to both of us, Bro.”
What a word, I thought. ‘Bro.’ Just by the tone he used, the feeling he expressed when he said it, it defined a relationship between two men like no other. The word has had special meaning to me ever since. I’m not your dad, I’m not your brother, I’m not even your friend. I'm your Bro.
It’s been nineteen years since that day, and Steve still calls me Bro.
      ...and no, I did not split the ten.

Epilogue

What became of Steve?
Somehow, I ended up with legal custody and helped him get through his later teen-years. As difficult as that was, I never would have imagined that skinny-ass, beanpole, nail-biting, pimple face would grow up to become a 'Ford Agency' high-fashion model traveling the world first-class on their dime, making around $3000. a day. And, between dates he conducts seminars for top CEO's on... 'Confidence Building'.

       ...and no, he does not split the three-grand

© j guevara 2010

j guevara assures me this story is all true. j, also known as that green, caffeine-jacked muppet, KAWFEEE, is the author of the top-selling novel The Twain Shall Meet to be followed in May 2010 by his Himalayan adventure, The Keepers of Himal. You can visit his website at http://www.jguevaranovels.com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Guest Writer: Teresa Cortez

The Green Dress

She was in her early eighties when we met at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.  It was 1984 and I was a student in an x-ray program completing my internship.

I can't remember the woman's face but I do remember her dress.  It was green, a bright lime green, thick polyester that held its perfect shape when she moved.  It was old but clean, simple, unembellished.  She'd taken good care of it and probably wore it for important things like church, doctor's appointments and other special occasions.  She likely made the dress herself.  Emma Rudd was poor.

She was in the outpatient x-ray department of the Scurlock Towers, a tall glass building in Houston's bustling medical center.  Outpatients came in and went home the same day they had their procedures.  Scurlock was where lives changed, where "sick" became official with a real diagnosis.  Mrs. Emma Rudd needed a clear radiopaque injection to look at a growth in her abdomen which had swelled in her belly like a pregnancy.  The dye was mostly harmless but gooey and sticky.  The growth in her abdomen would turn out to be deadly.

I watched the radiologist, Dr. Moore, prepare the dye as he spoke to Mrs. Rudd.  He drew up the solution with a needle and large plastic syringe, pulled hard against suction then pushed out the excess air.  I can't recall the specific details of conversation but I remember how "everybody's grandmother" became someone I would never forget.

I was 18.  Anyone over 40 was old.  Emma Rudd was ancient to me and I guess at the time I felt she was "useless".  Before Emma Rudd, old people were almost invisible.  They were worn and ready to be stored away on dusty shelves, ignored and forgotten.  The old were slow, in the way, forgetful.  Maybe their frailty even scared me a little.  I needed to view the elderly as very separate from the young, different creatures altogether.  Life was for the living, not the near-dead.

I listened to Dr. Moore and his patient as they talked, sharing the things they had in common.  He obviously loved someone deeply who was much older; perhaps he was close to many others Emma's age.  He spoke to her warmly, respectfully, as if she were the first and last person in the world.  

As it became clearer how sick she was, I suddenly wanted to know more about Emma Rudd, what she looked like when she was a girl my age, how many children she had.  I wanted to know if she'd finished high school, what music or foods she loved.  I wanted to watch the long movie of her life, celebrate her achievements great and small.  Dr. Moore obviously saw no separating walls, no "us" and "them".  He'd been a doctor a long time, knew how fragile life was whether young or old.  Emma Rudd could have been any one of us - every other soul that lives and dies.  She was once an infant in someone's arms, a toddler running in the yard, a young girl falling in love.  Now she was a frightened woman facing her mortality, much closer to the end than the beginning of her life.  She had things to teach us, a long history of experiences and mistakes, beauty and loss.

Suddenly their conversation stopped and Dr. Moore began apologizing and dabbing at Emma Rudd's green dress.  He'd accidentally spilled the sticky x-ray dye on the front of it.

He seemed disproportionately sorry for his error, worked intently to remove the stain as he apologized over and over again.  One of his assistants ran to get a wet towel.  I watched as the doctor's hands scrubbed then as Emma's own knobby hands worked beside them.

As the two continued working, the dress became sacred.  It had a value far greater than a dollar amount.  It was Emma's best dress.  It was her effort to look nice, to look pretty.  She probably had little else to wear - this we all seemed to sense - and now her best was stained by a procedure we all knew couldn't save her. 

Perhaps the stain was reasonably removed.  I can't remember.  It's been so long ago, and even the race of the woman is in question.   Her age and appearance are unimportant now.  She became for me every person I ever ignored or discounted.  I dealt with my shame and think I might have even worked on the stain myself, tried to love Emma Rudd as I hadn't loved others. 

Twenty-six years later I still wear her green dress on my heart.

© Teresa Cortez 2010

Teresa Cortez is a freelance writer whose essays have appeared in the Houston Chronicle's Among Friends  and Texas Magazine.  She's written poetry and flash fiction for various anthologies and received a Certificate of Poetic Achievement from the Amherst Society.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Guest Writer: Blake Cooper

Turning a Corner

The moment I stepped off the streetcar I began doubting why I'd come—the heavy air that had to force its way into the lungs; the stench of piss and struggle; the forgotten, wandering in groups of one. My dad had always called these people the scum of our collective generations—the worthless who refused to contribute, the weak who couldn't pick themselves up even when their lives were depending on it.

Just a few weeks ago—probably two, maybe three, blocks away—my parents and I were walking back to our car after taking in a show at the Orpheum. Turning the corner, one of them bumped into my mom. He was drunk or high, mumbling, "my fault, my bad, my fault." He reached out his hands, cupped, holding a red raisin box that carried his night's profits. In a moment of haze and confusion, my dad pounced. He grabbed this kid—couldn't have been older than me—and slammed him into the gutter, his hair and face drenched in the city's guts. I remember the kid's face as my dad spit on him; I remember how he went into a fetal position, screaming and crying like an animal that had been shot in the kneecaps. My dad grabbed me and mom, forcing us to flea.

The moment was haunting then and is haunting me now. I had to come back here, alone. Why? I'm not really sure. Maybe it was to find that kid and see if he was okay. Maybe it was to spite my circumstance. Maybe it was to see for myself how life reaches this point for people, instead of judging blindly like a coward.


The Plot Thickens: (1) a first encounter, and (2) a box of raisins
(The only rule: somehow incorporate the above two plot elements into the flash)

© Blake Cooper 2010

Blake Cooper is the creator and editor of the social writer's site ThinkingTen—A Writer's Playground. He lives in Seattle with his world, Emilia, and his mini-world, Siena Violet. He is determined to someday write the next great bildungsroman!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Guest Writer: Joe Gensle

Peace Under the Olive Branch

My father was fussy about a lot of things and I think being a Colonel in the Army’s armored (tank) divisions made him that way.

When the doorbell rang, we kids were to line-up just beyond the door in pre-assigned places. We extended our hands and said something like, “Hi, I’m Dewey, the youngest son.” It wasn’t exactly a military formation, we were perceived as impolite, uh-oh. The offender would be screamed at, slapped around or punched, and sent off to cry privately, with a shout down the hallway aimed at your spine, “Knock it off or I’ll REALLY give you something to cry about!”

What a joy that was, time and again, but only when company came to visit. It made me feel like one of the Von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music” movie!

Friday dinners were interesting. Mother was a ‘cradle Catholic,’ and her family made it clear that we were to be raised in the Catholic Church. Like Thanksgiving, they meant with all the trimmings: sacrament preparation classes on Saturdays and the eventual sacraments of 1st Confession, 1st Communion, and Confirmation once the nuns found us worthy and practiced.

Back then, Catholics abstained from eating meat on Friday. Fish didn’t count. Chicken, pork, or beef meant eternal Hell for the offending consumer. Dad was a battlefield Christian, meaning he just might believe in God if he had been shot in the chest and believed he was going to die, although we kids thought, “Naaaah, not our old man. Christian? Not now, not ever.” So he granted himself a Catholics’ Friday Flesh-Eating Exemption.

Mom's Friday dinners were macaroni and cheese, fish sticks, or cheese ravioli from a can (yum!). Dad’s exemption found him sawing into steak or gobbling a hamburger, always letting rivers of juice drip down his chin, probably to remind us of our piety, the purity of our sacrifice. Seldom did we look up from our plates; well, except for that one time, the attack of the corn cob.

Some people eat corn off the cob by rolling the cob or going back and forth like a computer’s print-head. My dad mowed-down rows of niblets from the cob with the same precision he mowed the grass leaving the wheel lines perfectly straight in the grass. His corn eating never failed to add niblet remains to his beef-lubed cheeks and corners of his mouth. His finished cobs were clean enough to mistake for a paint roller.

One Friday night during a particularly vicious cob attack between steak bites, Dad suddenly threw the cob down hard enough to bounce the plate on the table making the other food hop. He immediately covered his mouth as the string of foul language ensued. This was no time to giggle at the curse-muffling attempt. Our eyes were wide with fear and “What now?” expressions. Still fuming and spewing bad words, he lowered the napkin.

I began to laugh, uncontrollably. One of his false teeth, a front one, had broken from the corn mowing exertion in his game of “Strip the Cob.” It was funnier that the tooth was ‘missing in action,’ until our military genius of a father determined he had swallowed it. No one dared say he might see it again at tomorrow’s morning… uh… ‘constitution.’

No laughing matter, we were ordered to our rooms to snicker and joke among ourselves as he stomped around yelling at Mom (for?). We laughed quietly under bed covers to conceal and contain our glee, for, there surely was a God and one who didn’t appreciate our dad eating steak on Friday nights in front of us and Jesus. We hoped Dad had got the Holy message and would acquire a taste for processed, baked, formed fish rectangles drowning in catsup.

If Dad ever mentioned “Jesus” it was usually very loudly and accompanied by a piece of lawn furniture or a hand tool flying through the air and you better duck immediately rather than looking around and catching the flying implement with one of your unsuspecting body parts.

The best cursing always followed Friday: Saturday mornings.

He was an army officer but did you ever-in-your-life see a colonel mowing a lawn? That man was obsessed with trees and shrubs and grass. Sun-up on Saturdays was a harsh wake-up of yelling, “GET UP AND GET OUTSIDE. NOW!” I could have won Olympic Gold for slow teeth-brushing, avoiding what I detested under the searing Arizona sun. If he barged into the bathroom, his death-grip on my ear, dragging me to the front door and hurling me up the sidewalk was the first clue that dental hygiene wasn't high in Saturday priorities.

The lawn looked spectacular, where Tiger Woods might want to be buried, but this under-aged laborer paid the price 52 times a year for Dad’s gloating over his yard’s military crispness.

One summer day, over 100-degrees Fahrenheit, we worked on the back and front lawns for 9-10 hours. I was about 10 years old. I was at the point of exhaustion despite frequent-enough drinks from the pitcher to send me peeing on the hedgerow beneath we kids’ bedroom windows. Oh, the smell? We had air conditioning and one never opened the windows for fear of serious reprisals. So the only wafting of glorious uric acid fumes from my Saturday squirts (I couldn’t track grass clippings into the house!) went Heavenward unless the front door was opened right at the wrong time for a breeze to cross-ventilate the doorway with my adolescent ‘Eau du DNA’.

By 8pm, the sun was sinking rapidly. Seeking my undivided attention, Dad grabbed my scrawny arm with his death grip and ‘walked’ me over to the olive tree with its 60-inch circular base dug out so small flowers could grow there. There were only small weeds and grass in the trunk's surrounds. In fact, Dad said, “If it takes you all [blankety-blankety] night, you will dig-out every weed and blade of grass so that there is only smooth dirt and you'll NOT come into the house until it is finished and I don’t give a good God-damn if that means midnight. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?,” which must have been a hearing test because I did hear it. So did folks about 4 houses away.

I dug out grass, rocks, chunks of whatever. I was bitten by ants, worked into total darkness with nicked and scratched hands, tears in my eyes until my mother, to my father’s loud protestations, brought me a flashlight.

It neared 10 o'clock by the time I hauled heavy, sagging bags of flower bed invaders to the alley. My mother attended to my hands, drew a warm bath and tucked me into bed that night. It may have taken less than 10 seconds for me to find sleep from the wearisome day. Dad popped-in to cheer me up, saying something to the effect that my life was in danger if he didn’t like what he saw at dawn.

The next morning was an answered prayer.

Okay, so Dad awakened me in a screaming rage. Okay, so I had dug-out the bed to where the surface looked like crumbled dark chocolate. And if you must know, I'd been so thorough that I had removed and damaged all the iris bulbs meant to sprout flowers later in their existence. Suffice to say this was a Sunday I wasn’t going to Mass or anywhere until I retrieved iris bulbs out from the heavy sacks now inside metal garbage cans, and replanted the bulbs. I donned my battle gear and made a routine: Trowel, small hole, drop massacred bulb, cover and add a small amount of water. Repeat 29 times.

Dirty from head to foot, victorious in both bulb burial and resuscitation, I rang for Dad to inspect my handiwork. He grunted my work was passable, then screamed about me being a little idiot and that was when God intervened.

Dad gritted his teeth so hard against the cigarette filter (an oft occurrence) that he celebrated the 2nd instance of breaking off and swallowing a front tooth. Dad stomped around the front yard howling creative strings of words one does not speak in the presence of children, ladies, or men of the cloth.

I was too tired and too scared to laugh or even look. I stared at my filthy legs and once-white tennis shoes, biting my lip to keep from smiling. The thought of divine intervention came to my young mind. So, respectfully and reverently, I looked upward, toward the sky.

I could have sworn I saw God among the clouds, smiling. And in that compassionate and loving smile, you know what? God confirmed that He had intervened on my behalf because, Glory Hallelujah!, I could see He had a front tooth missing.

© Joe Gensle 2010

Joe Gensle is 56 and currently lives in Arizona. His love of language and literature led him to successful pursuits in broadcasting and advertising. He is a distinguished graduate of San Francisco State University, and enjoys international travel.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Guest Writer: Coraline J. Thompson

Tears of Regret


Anna Marie Kimball
Jan 12, 1846 – Aug 23, 1855
Beloved Daughter



A statue of the child was carved and presented as a gift by a local stone mason, Jackson Hulet, on the anniversary of Anna Marie’s death. The statue’s face depicted that of Anna Marie almost to perfection. It was the face that had been ingrained into Jackson’s mind on the morn that Anna Marie buried both her parents along with her younger brother, all who had died of scarlet fever. Jackson, having promised a sick Benjamin Kimball that he would look after his daughter, Anna Marie, had offered to give her a home with him and his family, but she had refused and instead he found her trying to accomplish the labors of a grown man and woman combined.
It was after a series of late night Indian raids when the body of nine year old Anna Marie was found. She had been beaten, raped, partially scalped and her tongue had been cut out. She had seemingly fought back, a rifle with empty shells littered the ground and amongst the signs of violent confrontation a blood trail accompanied the horse tracks back into the hills. The raid Anna Marie had been killed in had been the fiercest, and the ones that followed almost seemed relieving. Mostly children were either killed or stolen and sold across the border to the Mexican brothel owners.
Raids came and went for about six months before finally settling down and allowing life to go back to its slower pace.
Horrified and feeling the weight of his promise to her father, Jackson took it upon himself to make something that could grace Anna Marie’s grave—maybe as way of apologizing.
It was written in journals by Jackson’s wife and children that they would often times overhear their Pa talking to Anna Marie—telling her he was so sorry—begging her to find the courage to wake up and promise to forgive him. Mrs. Hulet noted that oftentimes she and the children walked past and heard his raking sobs from behind the walls of his workshop.
Jackson poured his heart and soul into making the remarkable statue. Within the few weeks that followed its placement at the head of her grave, Jackson was found dead, hanging from a beam in his workshop.
The newspaper clippings, journal entries, and letters found that followed the statue’s placement have told of many strange and odd encounters with the paranormal near the location of her grave. Most often recorded stories include sightings that on the sunniest of days, Anna’s statue would be shedding tears. It later became known that the statue only shed tears whenever a child was buried.
No one knew how or why she cried. Recently, the statue was brought to the attention of The Ghost Hunters, who came to see what kind of encounters they would experience. It was perfect timing on their behalf that during the week they were visiting, one of the locals had a child who died and had to be buried in the same cemetery where Anna Marie’s statue stood. Having taken the time earlier in the day to scan her, they were surprised to find her crying when there could be no working mechanics found within to cause her to shed the tears that she did.
A local Native American, when interviewed, told a story about an old relative who had been partial to the raids in this particular area:
With a promise of over 200 children to send to Mexico within a few moon cycles, they had been stealing as many children as they possibly could. One girl child, an obvious target, confounded him, because when he tried to take her, an invisible wall seemingly kept her at a safe distance from him.

***

My encounter with the paranormal at the location of Anna Marie Kimball’s grave was a tad more chilling—and I know chilling…
I deal with the Paranormal on a regular basis, I’m a medium, or psychic if you prefer. I enjoy traveling, and coincidentally enough I always travel to places that I seem to be prompted to go to. This visit was going to be no different than any of the others… or so I thought.
Stepping out of the car when I first arrived in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, I wondered out loud to myself, “Why here?”
The first few days the locals stared at me, giving me the “who are you and what the hell do you want” look as I ate in their diners and drank in their bars trying to get a feel for the area.
It was after a tip from a waitress on the fourth day that I found my car pulling into the cemetery under what seemed like its own free will. Getting out of my car, I was instantly rooted to the spot. Appearing before me were children dancing and playing with each other like leaves floating in the wind. I smiled as I watched them play tag and wrestle with each other, and listened to their infectious giggles.
One small girl began to beckon to me – I always find it unsettling when they acknowledge my existence– in all honesty, it scares the crap out of me. She was dressed in attire from the mid-nineteenth century, with honey-colored locks that hung in curls around her shoulders, as if it had recently been taken out of braids.
More curious than not, I began to follow her, weaving around the various headstones—some dating as early as the 1820s. She led me directly to an exact replica of herself only made out of stone. I could tell she wanted me to touch it, but my hands wouldn’t budge.
She became insistent that I follow her again, and leading me in another direction she took me directly to a weathered headstone that was almost unreadable. Taking my time, I was able to decipher the name as Jackson Hulet. Turning towards her with a questioning look in my eye I found she was no longer there. Turning back to the headstone, I discovered—to my amazement—that the inscription that I had just spent time reading had completely disappeared. Heavily laden with thoughts and questions, I meandered back towards my car on the other side of the cemetery.
The next two days were spent sifting through newspaper articles looking for information on both Anna Marie Kimball and Jackson Hulet. I came across an article dated over a hundred years ago mentioning an unnamed headstone/statue that cried. I also uncovered one dated more recently that included a partial interview with one of the ghost hunters and their take on the statue I had been taken to. I took a copy of the featured episode of Ghost Hunters and watched it in its entirety twice while at the library.
I was haunted with more questions as the day drew towards an end. Sleep deprived, I found myself at the location of the statue early the next morning. No children greeted me. I slowly forced my hand forward, inches seemed to take hours to cross until finally my fingertips brushed the child’s face. A flood of memories filled my mind.
I watched memories of the child, Anna Marie, as she buried her family, as she worked dutifully in and around her home trying to make things work, then I watched and experienced her graphic death. Suddenly the images shifted. I was no longer looking through the eyes of a child at a harsh and cruel world, but through the eyes of a man who was carving stone.
Horror filled my mind as I heard his confession over and over again to the stone, begging for forgiveness he felt he didn’t deserve. I watched as he and another man shook hands with the old Mexican from across the border, and the Indian chief from the other side of the hills. The next image was of him telling the other man, “Kimball, I will always make sure to look after Anna Marie, just the same as if she were my own.”
The final scene burned into my eyes was that of a funeral where a small coffin was being carefully lowered into the earth.
Clearing my mind I saw the girl reflected in the light before me. With tears, I watched her wave then fade away into nothing.
I wiped a tear from the statue’s cheek and walking away, I thought I heard, like a whisper on the wind, Thank you for listening, I just wanted someone to know the truth…

© Coraline J. Thompson 2010

Coraline J. Thompson, is a writing mother of two. Find more of her work online at Striking Writes.

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