Running Wild Anthology of Stories: Volume 1
By Various Authors: Sarah Smith Ducksworth, Elaine Crauder, Luanne Smith, Keith R. Fentonmiller, Lisa Montagne, Ann Stolinsky, A.J. O’Connell, Aimee LaBrie, Kristan Campbell, Jack Hillman, Bill Scruggs, Joshua Hedges and Gary Zenker
GENRE: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry (narrative)
This gripping collection of stories – fiction, nonfiction, and narrative poem – will make your imagination run wild! Featuring stories by Sarah Smith Ducksworth, Elaine Crauder, Luanne Smith, Keith R. Fentonmiller, Lisa Montagne, Ann Stolinsky, A.J. O’Connell, Aimee LaBrie, Kristan Campbell, Jack Hillman, Bill Scruggs, Joshua Hedges, Gary Zenker. You will travel alternative planets, run away away like teens in search of adventure, solve a murderous mystery, come to grips with your fears, and much more.
“Susan winks at me as she says to her mother, “We’re going to the playground. We’ll be back in a couple of hours.” “Don’t be too late. It looks like rain. Come home at the first sign of drops, OK my girls?” Her mother gathers us in an embrace. Her mother is tall and massive. I’ve heard people call her “zaftig.” Her many folds of skin almost choke me as she puts her fat over my face. I kiss her face as soon as I can breathe again. I look at Susan, her blue eyes shine, her mouth pursed in a conspiratorial smile. Her copper red hair bounces as she shakes her head, and puts her finger to her lips. She cocks her head into her mother’s plump side as she mouths, “don’t tell.” Susan’s my friend, my best friend. I know she’s lying to her mother, yet I say nothing. I believe we’re going to the playground like I believe I’ll be 6’ 5” when I grow up. At 12 years old and 4’10”, with parents who barely top 5’1”, the answer is the same, fat chance.”
From Ann Stolinsky’s “Don’t Tell”
SPECIAL EXCERPT from Exodus by Keith R. Fentonmiller
You feel so cool on my fingertips this afternoon, Papacito. Do not fret. The sky is clear, and the sun has risen high. You will be warm soon. The carrots are nearly in. Another week, I think. The beans look good, too. But I must ask you about the okra. They are pale and small. Are you not tending them? Have you grown tired? Have you lost hope? Do not despair. I am still here. Soledad is still here. She has grown so much since you left. Even from this distance, you can see how big she’s gotten. She rides that old Kelvinator box like a toboggan. She has her mamacita’s smile, her papacito’s curly hair. Oh mi. She should slow down. There is so much twisted metal and splintered wood at the bottom of the hill, ever since the bulldozers trampled the soft sage and the chapparal that we used to run through barefoot. Out of my way, Ferdinando. I cannot see Soledad. Cabra estúpida! Oh Ferdinando, you are skin and bones. Why am I surprised? The bulldozers have trampled the grasses too. Forgive me, stupid goat. Come. I’ll dig out a carrot. It is not yet ripe, but what do you care? Good. Eat. One less vegetable for Papacito to tend. Now go away.
Who is that on the dirt road between Soledad and the junk pile? A man. He does not see her, and she cannot control her cardboard sled. He carries a briefcase. He wears a suit. His skin is white, whiter than mine. I know, Papacito. This is still a sore subject for you, but can you not let it go? You are a hero. You gave yourself to that faraway place with the strange name—Guadalcanal. No matter they didn’t let you lie in Arlington because your skin was too dark, your name too Mexican. So your ashes rest here in the dirt, feeding the earth that feeds me. I often wish you had not been so much a hero. If you had been a little more of a coward, you might be here, really be here, with me. You would call me me pocha and güera, teasing me about my fair skin and perfect English. I cannot deny these things. That is how my father wanted it, and his father before him: marry the lightest person who’ll have you; learn to speak like Abraham Lincoln, not Emiliano Zapata. But you know all this, Papacito. My forefathers were shallow, shallower than the LA River in mid-summer. I just thank Jesus my Spanish was good enough to talk to the handsome chico pruning the hedges at the Armory. You were skin and bones then, having just arrived from the other side. No, Ferdinando. I am not talking to you. Go away before I swat you with my cane. You were skinny, Papacito, but not everywhere. Your forearms were strong and thick. Shoulders wide, face full of kindness. I would marry this man, I told myself. Father said that marrying a moreno was marrying down. To hell with my father.
You gave me Rafael and Romeo. I was happy. I thought you were happy too, but you itched for more. I heard what my father told you. “A real man doesn’t trim the Navy’s hedges. He fights in the Navy.” His words stuck in your belly like a grain of sand in a clam shell. For years, they poked and prodded and tickled at your insides. They spilled out in your dreams, anguished mumbles soaking into your pillow. While awake, you tried singing over those words, drowning them out with our lovemaking. But the words did not quiet. You mulled them over and over in your gut, until they filled you, until they came to define you as the pearl defines the clam. You put down the hedge trimmers and enlisted. How handsome you and your dark skin were in the white uniform. You promised to come back, and you did, but transformed. Of little use, except in the garden. No, say nothing, Papacito. I am not crying. Please. Just tend to the okra.
Look! Soledad has collided with the yankee. He has fallen into the dirt, and Soledad falls on top of him. They do not move. Are they dead? No. She rises, then he. He dusts the knees and elbows of his dark suit. He pulls a piece of sagebrush from her hair. He picks up his briefcase. He is saying something to Soledad. She points in my direction. The yankee nods a thank you. He is coming our way. I must get to my feet. Where is my cane? Did that stupid goat walk off with it? Ah, here. Help me up, cane.
What does the yankee want with us? The city men stopped coming long ago. I wouldn’t sell, not for any price. They made me sell anyway. But I didn’t sign anything, like you told me, Papacito. The sheriff says it doesn’t matter that I didn’t sign. Eminent domain, he called it, when he delivered the eviction papers. They’ll have drag me out of the house in handcuffs, I told him. Do not worry, Papacito. It will not be today. This yankee is no sheriff or deputy. He is wearing a baseball cap. You heard me right. A baseball cap with a suit. He is lost, that one. What, Papacito? No, it is not too early for a smoke. Do not worry. My head will stay clear, clear enough to dispense with this lost yankee. You certainly have become a nag in your old age. The okra is calling. Leave me be. He is here.
The yankee says hello. I say nothing. He asks if I am Amparo Puga. Si. He says his name. Howard Lederman. Lederman. Why does that name sound familiar? How could it? He is a Hebrew. I am a Mexican. He hands me a business card. He is a lawyer. He works for Señor O’Malley, the yankee who steals our land for his baseball team. I slip up and call Señor Howard a yankee. Maybe the smoke has clouded my head a bit. Señor Howard smiles and says he is not a yankee but a “Dodger.” He points to the “B” on his baseball cap and laughs. I do not understand his joke. My bones ache. I must sit. I invite Señor Howard inside for tea and piloncillo bread. He takes my elbow and opens the door for me. While the poleo tea steeps, he notices the garlic hanging over the kitchen sink. He asks if it’s Rocambole. I say it’s whatever we’ve grown here for a hundred years. It is not like anything he could buy in a store because it grows only in our soil, fed by the flesh and ashes of our people. He asks about the poppy pods dangling next to the garlic. He asks if it is Elephant Garlic and if it would taste in a good in a brisket. What is a brisket? Something his grandmother used to make. I remind him of her, he says. I have the same walk. “Maybe we’re related,” I joke. He doesn’t laugh. I shrug and tell him to sit at the marble table. I relight my pipe and join him with the cups of tea and the basket of bread.
Señor Howard places a paper next to my tea cup. Señor O’Malley is offering me $15,000. This is twice what the city paid. I tell him the house is already sold, but he knows this. He misspoke, he says. The $15,000 is for “moving expenses,” as long as I leave Chavez Ravine on my own. After that, the sheriff will return and arrest me for trespassing. My face will be splashed across the newspapers, and I will get nothing. Señor Howard says it is better for everyone if I sign the paper and take the money. I do not sign. I offer him the bread, but he declines. It is Passover, he says. I ask him to explain. His enslaved Hebrew ancestors left Egypt so quickly, there wasn’t time to let the bread rise. I say I’d happily give up bread forever to stay in my home. He says nothing. I tell him that my ancestors were the first to settle Chavez Ravine. Their children and their children’s children were all born here. Their umbilical cords are buried in the garden that grows the garlic and the herbs that he is drinking. Señor Howard coughs and then sets down his cup. I tell him my husband died in the Pacific Ocean and my Rafael died in Korea defending the soil in that garden. The “Elephant Garlic” pipe smoke drifts into his face. He coughs again. I tell him he, a member of the Hebrew tribe, should understand our connection to land, that the only price for a true home is blood and sweat. Tierra y Lybertad! He is thinking of something, or someone.
I look at the business card. I am certain I know that name. Lederman. He has been in this home before. We have shared tea. Many times. But it is not possible. Ah, my head has gotten so cloudy. Si, si, Papacito. Your warned me. There. I’ve set the spent pipe on the marble table top. Are you happy? Ah, the pipe made a loud clinking sound. That sound is trying to tell us something. Señor Howard says he’s from New York. He is very sad about the Dodgers moving off their land in Brooklyn. But, in a way, the situation has brought Señor Howard home. His ancestor, Joseph Lederman, was a leather worker in Germany. He settled somewhere in Los Angeles. He raised cows and made belts and chaps for the rancheros while his children went to school and became professionals. One child, Señor Howard’s great-grandfather, took the railroad east.
That is it! We know Joseph Lederman. Shush. My head is clear on this point. Joseph Lederman has been at this very table. Ah, you made me spill my tea. It is soaking into the tablecloth. I’ll have to fetch a fresh one. There he is! Joseph Lederman. The etched letters are faded and worn, but “Jo…Leder…” is still readable. I remember now, Papacito. You found the stone buried under the hedge at the Armory. You brought it home, thinking it was an old boundary marker. You said it would make a fine table. For years, we took our tea and drank our tequila from this gravestone. No wonder Jesus took you and Rafael so soon. No wonder the yankees take our land. You brought death into this house.
Señor Howard traces the letters with his fingertips. I tell him that his very people once lived and died on this land. He touches the proof. But he says it is a coincidence, that the stone spells a different name—John Lederson, maybe—or even if it is Joseph Lederman, it belonged to a different person with the same name. But I think he knows otherwise. I think he feels the chill of death. His family lives in the soil, just like you, Papacito. He knows that he cannot evict these spirits any more than he can evict himself, not even for $15,000 in moving expenses. He excuses himself. He stands and looks out the window. He looks at his wristwatch. I have seen that look before, Papacito. In my own face, reflected back at me on the night that the Navy men were walking toward our house. The look that said, “I thought I’d have more time.”
Señor Howard takes off his ball cap and scratches his head. He must go. He is not feeling well. I go to the kitchen and pull down four bulbs. I tell him to dump the seeds and grind the skins up good and then smoke them or infuse them into a tea. That will make him feel better. It will make him feel at home. He says he didn’t know you could smoke Elephant Garlic. This Elephant Garlic, you can, I say. I laugh a little. He laughs a little. Finally, we both find the same thing funny. He puts the bulbs in his pocket and heads out the door. He walks up the snaking road leading out of the ravine. He tosses his ball cap on the junk heap. Ferdinando sniffs the hat and then makes a feast of it.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Elaine Crauder’s fiction is also in Cooweescoowee, The Boston Literary Magazine, The Eastern Iowa Review , and Penumbra. Another story received the Westmoreland Short Story Award. Eleven of her short stories have been finalists or semi-finalists in contests, including finalists in the Tobias Wolff and Mark Twain House contests. ”The Price Of A Pony,” under the title”Christmas the Hard Way,” was a semi-finalist for both Ruminate Magazine’s short story prize and for the Salem College Center for Women Writers Reynolds Price short fiction award.
Richard D. “Ky” Owen is a lawyer with Goodwin & Goodwin, LLP, in Charleston, West Virginia. He earned a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University in 1981 and a J.D. from Hamline University in 1984. Coming from a family of writers, he considers himself a “writer by birth.” He is the author of
None Call Me Dad and he blogs about parenting and Michigan State sports on his website, http://www.nonecallmedad.com.
Keith R. Fentonmiller is a consumer protection attorney for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. Before graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, he toured with a professional comedy troupe, writing and performing sketch comedy at colleges in the Mid-Atlantic States. His Pushcart-nominated short story was recently published in the Stonecoast Review. His debut novel, Kasper Mützenmacher’s Cursed Hat, will be published March 20, 2017 by Curiosity Quills Press.
Based in Southern California, Dr. Lisa Montagne currently divides her time between writing poetry and prose, teaching writing to (mostly) willing college students, and overseeing educational technology projects and support at Fullerton College. She is also a Swing, Blues, and Argentine Tango dancer, host, DJ, and instructor. She likes to drink Champagne in as many places as she can, including Europe; to read poetry aloud to anybody who will listen; to cook for anybody who is willing to sit down long enough to enjoy her food; to dabble in drawing, painting, and photography; and to read anything plopped in front of her, ranging from D.H. Lawrence to Vogue magazine. She also likes to watch television and movies, and to imagine how much better she would have produced them herself. She lived in Las Vegas at one time, so she likes to tell people that she was a stripper there. She was really just a graduate student and high school teacher, but it’s more fun to let people wonder. Although rumored to be a direct descendent of Oompa Loompas, Lisa is actually the offspring of a college professor and a circus dwarf. You can find some more of her writing at archive405.com and lisamontagne.com, and see evidence of her adventures @lisamlore on Instagram.
Ann Stolinsky is a Pennsylvania-based word and game expert. She is the founder and owner of Gontza Games, an independent board and card game company, and three of her games are currently in the marketplace:
“MINDFIELD, The Game of United States Military Trivia”; “Pass the Grogger!”; and “Christmas Cards.”
Check out her website at http://www.gontzagames.com. She is also a partner in Gemini Wordsmiths, a full-service copyediting and content creating company. Visit http://www.geminiwordsmiths.com for more information and testimonials. Ann reviews books for Amazing Stories Magazine, an online sci-fi magazine which can be found at http://www.amazingstoriesmag.com, and is an Assistant Editor for Red Sun Magazine, http://www.redsunmagazine.com. Her most recent publishing credit is a poem in the Fall 2015 issue of Space and Time Magazine. She is a graduate of the Bram Stoker award-winning author Jonathan Maberry’s short story writing class.
Lisa Diane Kastner is a former correspondent for the Philadelphia Theatre Review and Features Editor for the Picolata Review, her short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as StraightJackets Magazine and HESA Inprint. In 2007 Kastner was featured in the Fresh Lines @ Fresh Nine, a public reading hosted by Gross McCleaf Art Gallery. She founded Running Wild Writers and is the former president of Pennwriters, Inc. (www.pennwriters.com). She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, her MBA from Pennsylvania State and her BS from Drexel University (She’s definitely full of it). Her novel THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS was shortlisted in the fiction category of the William Faulkner Words and Wisdom Award and her memoir BREATHE was a semi-finalist in the nonfiction category of the same award. Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey she migrated to Philadelphia in her twenties and eventually transported to Los Angeles, California with her partner-in-crime and ever-talented husband. They nurture two felonious felines who anxiously engage in little sparks of anarchy.
Aimee LaBrie works as a communications director at Rutgers University. She earned her MFA in fiction from Penn State, and her MLA from University of Pennsylvania. Her short story collection, Wonderful Girl, was awarded the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction and published by the University of North Texas Press in 2007. Her second collection of stories, A Good Thing, placed as a finalist in the BOA Short Fiction Contest. Her short stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Pleiades, Minnesota Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Permafrost, and other literary journals. In 2012, she won first place in Zoetrope’s All-Story Fiction contest. You can read her blog at http://www.butcallmebetsy.blogspot.com.
Kristan Campbell is a short story writer born in Washington, D.C. but has only visited her grandmother there during some of the summers of her childhood. She’s more familiar with Philadelphia, New York City, and Paris than her native city and aims to weave her experiences in those places into tales based on places and people that are out of the ordinary. She studied Journalism at Temple University (what seemed like a practical approach to writing at the time) and Comparative Literature at Hunter College (which seemed like a fun idea at the time) before accepting that she should have been an English major all along. Kristan completed her B.A. in English at Temple University in 2010 and an MFA in Fiction at Fairfield
University in 2016. She’s currently attempting to eke out a living doing freelance editing with the help of her cat, Fishy, who manages her desktop printer with enthusiasm.
Bill Ed Scruggs spent his younger years meeting the Southern mountain countryside and exploring the people, taking time out as needed for work in various occupations. He lives (temporarily) in Connecticut and has one child, a psychiatrist. Presently he is reconstructing his memories and imaginings in a series of novels and short stories (Facebook page Foothills Fiction – Bill Ed Scruggs) Warrensburg is a fictional photo of a country village in the illumination of fireflies.
Joshua Hedges is a debut Science Fiction writer from Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from The University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Computer Science. When he’s not writing stories or code, he ventures outdoors with his wife and three-year-old son to hunt dragons in the forest.
Gary Zenker is a marketing professional whose days are filled with creating business and marketing plans, and writing ad copy and media content. By night, he applies his imagination to flash fiction tales that cross genre and focus on revealing various facets of human nature. He is the author of Meetup Leader, a book on running successful groups; is editor and publisher of 19 books in the rock & roll Archives series; and co-author of Says Seth, a humorous collection written with his then six-year-old son. His work has earned a dozen marketing awards and placed in four writers’ contests, including a first place recognition from Oxford University Press. He founded and continues to lead two writers groups in southeastern PA, assisting others to develop their skills and achieve their writing goals. http://www.zenkermarketing.com
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