SOUTH FROM SUTHERLAND’S STATION

Excerpt from Don Miller’s soon to be released historical novel, South From Sutherland’s Station.

As he traveled down the Ohio to the Mississippi, the side-wheeler made stops along the way: Cincinnati, Memphis, Greenville, Vicksburg, Natchez, and finally New Orleans.  Over and over, it loaded and unloaded cargo, livestock, and people.  Vicksburg, Tennessee, and the flanking Delta, Louisiana, were the worst.  Despite having been out of the fight for nearly two years, the people who met them on the wharves still bore scars from the war.  Few young men met them, just older men, colored and white, stooped from both age and abuse.  Underweight and hollow-eyed children begged and faded Southern Belles twirled their parasols, all dreaming of a time now past.  Any joy of being near his home soil was offset by the gloom covering the landscape like the thick fogs off the river.

The easiest way home would be to disembark at Vicksburg, cross the river to Delta and then catch a stage overland the seventy miles to Edwards’ Crossroads.  Going on to New Orleans meant having to catch a riverboat traveling back up to the Red River and onto the Ouachita but his promise to Wyatt ate at him worse than a case of the quickstep.  Allen Kell knew if he did not make the trip to Wyatt’s mother and sister, his promise would continue to gnaw at him.  Maybe he could find some work to get enough money to get home.  Anytime offered work to load or unload the side-wheeler, he had volunteered.  Despite his efforts, he had less than five dollars of army script in his pocket.

Allen Kell sat on the barge and brooded.  He wanted to be happy the war was over.  Memories of the killing and disease seemed to sap his resolve.  He was empty inside, a shell.  Allen Kell knew but refused to admit, he missed the killing.  He had been most alive making the charges against Federal lines, looking down barrels of death pointed in his direction.  The vicious hand to hand fighting sent adrenaline pulsing through his body, leaving him spent and at peace when it was over.  Allen Kell’s ruminations were interrupted as the side-wheeler’s steam whistle went off.  Moments later, just around the next bend, the New Orleans’s wharves came into view.

Allen Kell agreed to trade more labor for meals, a piece of deck to sleep on and passage back to Vicksburg later in the week.  He would end up with more army script to go with what he had.  After spending part of his script on some new clothes-a union suit, one pair of tough canvas pants, two shirts, one flannel for work and a muslin to visit Wyatt’s family in-Allen Kell went to the community baths to bathe and shave.  He kept the officer’s slouch hat he had picked up off the battlefield at Gettysburg, the red Garibaldi shirt he had been issued in Baton Rouge, his braces and his boots, and trashed the rest.  When he looked at his reflection while shaving, Allen Kell was shocked at the gauntness of his face and realized he had the same hollow-eyed stare he had noticed on the faces of the people of Vicksburg.  It had been the first time he had seen his face in over a year.

South From Sutherland’s Station is a novel of the chaotic days following the Civil War and ex-Confederate soldier, Allen Kell Edwards.  It will be available for purchase in early December.  Until then you may go to Don Miller’s author’s page at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501

 

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Democracy Dies in Darkness … — Filosofa’s Word

Once again, the attempts to discredit our free press are coming in waves, and the press must be ever-vigilant. This from The Washington Post: “A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with an organization that […]

via Democracy Dies in Darkness … — Filosofa’s Word

SLEEPING PUPPY DOGS

 

I don’t know when God created puppy dogs.  It couldn’t be in the original seven days.  Anything so special would have to have their own special day.  Maybe the eighth day, “and God created puppy dogs.”

I’m watching them sleep.  It’s their sleepy time…something that has increased as they have gotten older.  Twelve their last birthday.  Old in doggy years…even older than me in human years.  They will always be our puppies no matter what age.  Maddie is on her back, paws in motion as she chases her dream rabbit.  Tilly has curled into a not so little ball with a paw warming her nose…as always, her ears are standing at attention.

They amaze me.  Maddie and Tilly are both blind, a problem with the genetics of their litter.  Still, often you would swear they could see…other times they forget they are blind and run into things….  “Oops, knocked your noggin.”  They still know where the persimmon tree is and when a possum is sampling the ripened fruit.  The “girls” lay, patiently waiting, not realizing the possum has exited the tree and has walked away from them.  They bring me little gifts; a mouse, a mole, a snake.  While I appreciate their effort, their time could have been better spent.

Maddie and Tilly have awakened long enough to move outside.  With me following, they zigzag down the narrow path to the rapidly disappearing sunlight.  Stretching out, they allow the beams of the fall sun warm them.  I follow suit and allow the sun and the vision of my puppies to warm me.

At night, Maddie sleeps at the foot of our bed, Tilly beside Linda Gail…until they change…sometimes crawling under the bed to do so.  If there is reincarnation I want to return as one of Linda Gail’s puppies.  Their love for her knows no bounds.  It is infinite…like mine.  When she leaves to run errands, Tilly sometimes heads for the bedroom and lays down beside the bed, waiting until “Mommie” returns.  Maddie will “lay” guard on the front steps…waiting…barking loudly when she returns, somehow knowing the sound Linda Gail’s car makes.  I don’t bark but I am just as happy when she finds her way back to us.

It’s Thanksgiving.  I find it easy to give thanks for the big things.  Linda Gail, the woman of my dreams that has never been a nightmare.  Ashley, and her husband Justin.  The grandbabies, Miller Kate the monkey and Noland the…Noie.  My brother Steve and his wife Rebecca.  Francis, Linda Gail’s stepmother.  The family at home we are going to visit.  Family in Texas, too far to visit this year.  I give thanks for the memories of people no longer able to gather…thanks that they still gather in my mind.  I’m thankful for friends who have stood by me in good times and bad…and thankful there have been more good times than bad.

The big things are easy, I want to give thanks for the little things.  The sunrise through my French doors as I write.  A red-tailed hawk soaring on a thermal, calling to its mate.  Squirrels trying to make their getaway through a chainlink fence with black walnuts from the yard.  Friday coffee with Hawk.  My early morning walks and my return to find Linda Gail puttering in the kitchen.

I give thanks for two puppies, now older and blind…and other puppies no longer with us.  Thanks for the love and smiles you provide.  The warm memories you have bestowed upon us.  We should all take time to think about and give thanks for the big things in our lives.  I hope we all take a moment to consider the little things that provide joy and love with no strings attached…like blind puppy dogs.  I hope everyone has a thankful and joyful Thanksgiving.

In addition to maintaining his blog, Don Miller is a multi-genre author.  If you enjoyed this post, please stop by and follow his author’s page at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501.  Thanks for dropping by.

CHANGES IN ATTITUDES…?

According to the final chorus of Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 tract, CHANGES IN LATITUDES, CHANGES IN ATTITUDES, from the album by the same name, “If we weren’t all crazy, we would all go insane.” It’s a change from the first chorus which says, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I am sorry Mr. Buffett, with today’s climate, I have suddenly found myself far beyond laughing and wonder most days if I am truly insane.

I don’t hear or see much laughing in these latitudes. I know I’m not laughing much. Maybe I need a new set of friends. Seems I’m laughing only as a last resort. “When all else fails, I laugh, roll my eyes upward and turn and run away.” Maybe if I “ran into a chum, with a bottle of rum….”

I didn’t run into an old chum, but I called one. She really wasn’t a chum. Without giving too much away, at one point I wanted her to be more than a chum. I didn’t call her to talk about old times, per se,  but rather I called about the climate of abuse exposed recently. I was concerned the abuse I was reading about in Hollywood and the seats of our government might have trickled down to Small Town, South Carolina. I didn’t consider myself to be an abuser…but I wasn’t sure. I knew I wasn’t an exposer, but had I been a harasser? I decided I should call her to find out…and apologize while I was at it.

When it comes to women, at age sixteen, I was an immature jerk. At ages twenty, twenty-five and thirty…I was still an immature jerk…. It seemed to be the gold standard for the time. At some point, around thirty-two or three, I had an epiphany. When it came to women, I realized, “I am an immature jerk!” By age thirty-five, I was actively attempting to change my “jerkiness.” A girl child should cause a change, as should the love for a good woman. Change shouldn’t have been necessary, and I admit, according to the good woman I have spent the past thirty-one years with, I still succumb to bouts of “jerkiness.”

During my periods of hardcore, immature “jerkiness”, as I read of President Kennedy’s numerous indiscretions I thought, “Man, what a stud!” I laughed at the vision of Fannie Foxe’s attempted escape into the Tidal Basin when Wilbur Mills was pulled over for drunken driving. I thought nothing when the good people of Arkansas decided to re-elect Wilbur despite his dalliances and drunkenness. When President Clinton claimed, “I never had sex with that woman”, and the dozens of others, I reasoned, “Well they were…I think, consensual liaisons.” I dismissed them as “boys being boys” although I never looked at a cigar quite the same way.

I believed it was the way of the world, the “latitude” we found ourselves in. Women shouldn’t dress that way. What did you expect, shaking your ass like that? She brought it all on herself. For some reason, it was always the woman’s fault because, you know, “boys being boys,” wink, wink. With audio evidence and women accusers stepping forward, we still elected a foul-mouthed, womanizer to the highest political position in the country. Yeah, I’ve been foul-mouthed…but never have I said that to or about a woman.

With hundreds of accusations coming to light, it would appear we are in a “changes in latitude, changes in attitude” period of history. It appears heavy and violent seas have been encountered. Women are standing up despite the “why wait twenty, thirty or forty years” to do so. They are standing up in droves despite the “she said no but she really meant yes” excuses. Women are standing up because a pretty face doesn’t mean a small brain. The lamest excuse I’ve heard is, she shouldn’t dress that way. News alert. While men are visual learners…and visual other stuff, women should be able to dress to attract us and yet, we as men should learn we are not God’s gift to EVERY woman. We may not be the man they are dressing for. No doesn’t mean yes and we shouldn’t use positions of power to cop a feel or worse. This is not a woman’s problem…It is not a politics as usual problem…It is not a conspiracy theory.   We can no longer explain it away as  “boys being boys” or locker room talk. We have moved to a different latitude…and we as men should heed the hurricane warnings.

I know you are on the edge of your seat. How did my phone call go? She let me off the hook. We had a great conversation about the history of yesteryear seen under the light of today. She and I will never agree on our politics but at least one of us agrees, I didn’t abuse my position, I didn’t take advantage of her. Despite her assurances, I still wonder…and I still worry.  I hope apologies mean something.

For more of Don Miller’s “a bubble off plumb” outlook on life please visit his author’s page at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501

 

Roy Moore, Al Franken, and Donald Trump. How Do We Sort Out The Differences?

Because of my own fears of “boys will be boys” missteps and abuses, I have remained silent. I cannot any longer. He makes great points.

ENIGMA IN BLACK

As of the time of writing, nine women have come out with accusations about the sexual conduct of candidate for Senate Roy Moore including that of being a pedophile, the worst of those being one of molesting a 14-year-old. Thirteen people have levied accusations against President Donald Trump, the worst being a 13-year-old claiming rape. (There’s no other kind of sex between a grown ass man and a 13-year-old). Now, a claim has been made against Senator Al Franken, saying he groped and assaulted a woman which comes with a picture of him appearing to fondle her breasts while she slept.

a a a a roy moorre

All of these men claim to have a great respect for women. A lot of people (mostly men but not all) have been able to simultaneously claim their respect for women while attacking those that came forward. It’s clear that partisanship trumps respect every time and that we are…

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Pop Quiz: Sexual Abuse Scandals — I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog

I’m a working-from-home professor today, and it’s time for a surprise quiz! Because it seems like a lot of you need it. Pop Quiz: Sexual Abuse Scandals! Q: Choose the intellectually consistent opinions: – Roy Moore shouldn’t be in the Senate – Al Franken shouldn’t be in the Senate – Donald Trump shouldn’t be the […]

via Pop Quiz: Sexual Abuse Scandals — I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog

GREEN RIVER…UM, UM, GOOD…

Good food, good times and good friends you didn’t know you knew.

I sat with my beloved at a raised bar done in corrugated metal and salvaged wood.  We sat on tall, padded, metal bar stools and sipped Narragansett.  It had been a while since we had partaken of the ambrosia of the gods… pulled pork BBQ, slaw and fried okra.  We were sipping beer and watching the big screen as we waited.  Narragansett is a Yankee beer.  Despite its Northern birthplace, I like it as much as the beers from more Southern climes.  I like good beer where ever it is brewed…I know, sometimes I wouldn’t know a good beer if it bit me on the ass, but “Gansett” goes well with the BBQ…and it’s cheap enough to have two…or three.

I’m reminded a bit of Cheers, “where everyone knows your name.”  Well, here at Green River, they may have forgotten our names, but they do recognize us…and it’s been a while.  Melanie and Tammie noticed us immediately and despite being covered up with other diners took time to check in and reconnect.  There was a third little girl whose name I’ve forgotten.  I feel terrible.  That’s Cheers-like, isn’t it?  She checked in too.

In addition to my love affair with great BBQ, I have had a love affair with hole-in-the-wall establishments dating to when I first ventured into a bar named The Cellar in the very late Sixties.  Dim, smoky places…

” Meeting… in smoky places,

Hiding… in shadowy corners,

Dancing… where no one knows our faces,

sharing love stolen in the night,

in smoky places.”

 

Thank you, Corsairs, all though I’m not talking about THAT kind of smoky place.  My first real date with the love of my life was in a dim, bluesy, smoke-filled, hole in the wall and no we weren’t hiding from anyone at The Casablanca.  Just listening to the Blues sung by Ronnie Godfrey, a friend of my love who would eventually sing at our wedding.  Later, at different times, we would celebrate a significant anniversary, a New Year’s celebration and Mardi Gras at the Cypress Cellar, a hole-in-the-wall that became less and less hole-in-the-wall like until it finally changed into a bright Mexican restaurant with a different name.  I do miss the Cajun cuisine…and its “hole-in-the-wallness” although the Mexican restaurant is very good…just too bright to be a hole-in-the-wall.

We first wandered into Green River BBQ thirty years ago.  It was an accident, like a lot of the good discoveries in our lives…one might say discovering each other was an accident that worked out well too.   Late in the day on a cool and foggy, fall evening, it was our first trip to the small town of Saluda in North Carolina.  Deciding we wanted to eat, there were three restaurants to choose from.  We picked the correct one…for us.  We watched a football game on a not so big screen TV and met Melanie, the owner, and her husband.  The husband hasn’t been in the picture for a while and I admit that I really haven’t missed him.  I doubt Melanie has either.  We sat in the small, rustic dining area reading the quaint and rusting metal signs of pigs adorning walls finished from old salvaged boards.  A screened in porch led us to the dining area and the sound of the slamming screen door reminded me a bit of home.

Waiters and waitresses have changed over the years as has Green River.  Melanie has expanded the dining room, now done in corrugated metal along with the unfinished boards.  True big screen TVs are available to watch sporting events if you so desire.  Joining the rusting signs, garden rake heads are attached to the walls and utilized to hold wine glasses.  Yep, a wine list has joined its beer list.  The screened porch is now enclosed to increase year-round seating, but the screen door still has that pleasant bang and a bit of the parking lot has been confiscated for outdoor seating.  Most importantly, while the people and objects have changed, the attitude hasn’t.  It still feels like a welcoming hole-in-the-wall…and a bit like home.

This past Sunday, we met new friends.  Steve from Wilmington, spending a few weeks helping a friend clean up his home’s lot and searching for information on how to get rid of groundhogs without shooting them.  Deshi, from the small town of “Somewhere,” India, teaches at the local community college and is quite the football fan.  We nodded at an old friend, John, the chubby, red-faced, dark headed guy that always comes in alone and sits quietly working the Sunday crossword.  There were other regulars I recognized, they greeted us even if they didn’t know our names.  My kind of place.

One might surmise food is not the primary reason I go to Green River.  That would be untrue.  I opened with good friends, good times and good food.  My only complaint about the food is…I don’t have any complaints about their food.  They have great entrees, some that don’t even involve BBQ, but I do remind you, you probably shouldn’t order fish in a restaurant advertising pulled pork, slow cooked ribs, and barbeque chicken.  When asked to name your side dish, do try the fried okra with a little Ranch dressing on the side.

Yes, good friends, good times and good food.  There are other restaurants in Saluda and they too are good, friendly and have their own “hole-in-the-wall” ambiance…they just don’t serve BBQ.

For more of Don Miller’s “a bubble off plumb” outlook on life please visit his author’s page at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501

NATE

With high regards to those who have served!

cigarman501

We served over a hundred and fifty souls, the homeless and poor along with the people who ran the soup kitchen every week and their families. There were smiles, laughs, and expressions of true thankfulness. I believe the smiles made it all worthwhile. As the line trickled to a stop we joined the diners, “breaking bread” and sharing their stories and their experiences.
Aja was unusually quiet. We sat across the table from a thin black man named Nate. A Vietnam War veteran, Nate never got his life together despite the war being over for nearly forty-five years. He had been an eighteen-year-old tunnel rat and by his own admission, “hadn’t amounted to much.” After returning home, Nate had worked at low paying jobs to support his alcoholism until he “had just worn out.” Despite being surrounded by friends this Thanksgiving morning, his glances were furtive, as if someone or…

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NATE

We served over a hundred and fifty souls, the homeless and poor along with the people who ran the soup kitchen every week and their families. There were smiles, laughs, and expressions of true thankfulness. I believe the smiles made it all worthwhile. As the line trickled to a stop we joined the diners, “breaking bread” and sharing their stories and their experiences.
Aja was unusually quiet. We sat across the table from a thin black man named Nate. A Vietnam War veteran, Nate never got his life together despite the war being over for nearly forty-five years. He had been an eighteen-year-old tunnel rat and by his own admission, “hadn’t amounted to much.” After returning home, Nate had worked at low paying jobs to support his alcoholism until he “had just worn out.” Despite being surrounded by friends this Thanksgiving morning, his glances were furtive, as if someone or life might be sneaking up on him.
“Holy John,” the Methodist minister, disclosed to me Nate lived on family land in a fifty-year-old Airstream resting on flat tires and cement blocks. A cast iron stove “liberated” from someone’s trash heap and vented through a window, both warmed the old travel trailer and provided enough heat to prepare whatever food Nate had available. Like many troubled vets, he sometimes forgot to eat or chose instead to drink his way through the day.
Nate augmented his monthly social security checks with odd jobs done for understanding church members or by selling, for scrap, the aluminum cans he collected walking the country roads around the Airstream. Local folks dropped off bags of aluminum cans under a hand-painted sign whose down-pointing arrow instructed them to “drop cans here.” With no running water or indoor plumbing, he filled recycled milk jugs from a neighbor’s outdoor spigot and took his weekly shower and washed his clothes in the facilities provided in the church’s fellowship hall. Despite his plight, he seemed almost happy with his existence and was more open than many Vietnam veterans I had met.
A gaunt, mahogany face peered out from under an old Detroit Tigers’ baseball cap. Wisps of wiry, gray hair peeked out from under it. He had an ancient face, made older by his predicament. It was cut by deep crevasses that became deeper when he smiled. Nate seemed anything but sad with his self-imposed hardships. In a soft voice, he said, “I do okay. I don’t need much and since I’m drawin’ my social I live like a king.” Pausing to look back somewhere in the past he quoted, “I try to keep my heart open to dreams. As long as there’s a dream I have a life.” With our present military involvements, I wondered how many more of these damaged souls we would produce.
Nate paused, his rheumy eyes gazing intently at Aja before asking, “Little girl…somethin’ is troublin’ you?” Before she could answer he went on, “You young and beautiful. Out here on a Thanksgiving mornin’, you got to have a good heart. People gonna tell you this is the best time of your life. It ain’t. Wonder mo young folk don’t commit suicide hearing that shit. Life always gonna be hard but gets better if you let it. I didn’t and now my time be growin’ short. Nothin’ I can do about it, but you can if you wants to. ‘scuse my language but you need to take life by the balls and twist ‘em if you need to.”
Aja smiled her heart melting smile and said, “Thank you, Nate. I’ll try to remember to twist them just for you.”

This is a fictional composite of many former Vietnam Vets I have known…too many that I have known.  It is also written for Steve, my brother, and Hawk, my friend, who saw a need and acted on it.

Don Miller is a multi-genre writer who, in addition to maintaining a blog, has self-published six books.   His most recent release is the romantic adventure OLIVIA.  Don’s author’s page may be accessed at  http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501.

Thank you for stopping by.

The Tell-Tale Tweets

Poe was fiction…not sure about this. From William Spivey.

ENIGMA IN BLACK

The old man’s obsession began right after the election. Everywhere he went people were talking about Russia. He thought “winning” would make the talk go away. Instead, the voices grew louder, speaking of collusion, a dossier, and a urine-stained mattress. With all the power he possessed, he couldn’t make the voices stop. After a time he came upon a solution, get rid of James Comey. That would make it all stop. He met with Comey and requested his loyalty but Comey did not agree. He asked Comey to publicly proclaim his innocence but Comey would not. The old man wasn’t sleeping well and when he did sleep he had nightmares of losing all he had worked for. It was Comey that would be his undoing. He had people watching Comey for signals he might be ready to attack. The old man would get him first… he must… so he fired him…

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