Fiction

November Newsletter: An excerpt from Sir Germy Marries By Stacey McGee

An excerpt from Sir Germy Marries By Stacey McGee

 

Once upon a time, far away, there lived a princess. Her name was Princess Leela. One day while Princess Leela was taking a walk in her garden, she saw a man throwing dirty tissues all over the place. The princess knew that dirty tissues would spread harmful microbes.

“Pick those up,” she yelled in her icky sweet voice.

“You want them picked up, you pick them up,” the guy replied.

“I’m going to tell Daddy!” Princess Leela flew toward the castle, crying.

“Oh, brother,” the guy muttered. He continued down the street, throwing dirty tissues.

Princess Leela found her daddy, King George the 23rd, in his study. “Daddy, a really ugly man was going down the street, throwing dirty tissues everywhere. And he wouldn’t pick them up when I told him to.”

“Oh no! It’s Sir Germy,” cried the king.

Just then, Sir Germy jumped through the window. He grabbed the princess and jumped back out the window carrying the princess away.

“After him,” cried the king, but no one heard him. He ran out of the room and found Rob, Princess Leela’s boyfriend. He told Rob that Sir Germy had kidnapped Leela.

Rob dressed in shiny armor and jumped on a horse as white as chalk. The king jumped on a horse as black as a witch’s hat.

“Don’t you want armor, Sir?” asked Rob.

“And cover up my beautiful silk clothing? Never!” replied the king.

For the rest of the story, see the new edition of The Best of Critique Café, available on Amazon.com November 18th. Also available at Fort Stockton Public Library for a donation to the H. Edward Petsch Memorial.

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November Newsletter: Critique Café Publishes Book

Critique Café Publishes Book

The eighth edition of The Best of Critique Café releases in November 2019. The theme for the current edition is Children’s Stories: The Magic of Books. We’ve included stories for children of all ages, and we had a great time doing it. The members of our writer’s group are strong in different genres, but we found it challenging and rewarding to pursue this collection of stories for kids. We decided to hold an art contest and have featured the winners on the front and back covers. First and second place winner is a 14 year-old Fort Stockton homeschooler, Jessica Meierhoff. We think her first place piece perfectly embodies the theme.

We will celebrate this release with a launch party at the Fort Stockton Public Library on Monday night, November 18th at 6:00 p.m. We’ll have our books available that night, award the art contest winners, and enjoy some light refreshments. Join us!

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September Newsletter Member Spotlight: Jodie Martin

Member Spotlight: Jodie Martin

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Jodie Martin writes contemporary Western fiction, and is glad to wake up in Texas every morning.

Spotlight Feature Article by Jodie Martin

Clyde lifted his head up from the sun baked earth. As he did so, he could feel something clinging to his cheek and temple area of his head. He felt an empty hole in the recent past and wondered what had happened to him. With his right hand, he gingerly stroked his face to feel all the debris which seemed to have attached itself there.

Sensing what felt like open wounds, he traced the edge of the areas with his fingertips. In doing so, he realized that he must have been on the ground for quite some time as the blood from the open wounds aside his head had dried, and blended with the earth and small pebbles where he had just found himself. His head throbbed like a bass drum, being beaten by an over exuberant high school band member.

He checked his essentials. He could still see, so he still had his eyes. His arms and legs still worked, as best he could tell, and he could still hear the hot summer breeze whisper out of his left ear. He checked, sure enough, his right ear was full of dried blood and dirt. He’d live, he finally decided, as long as he got his wounds cleaned out and bandaged up. Out here, a feller was more than likely to die from an infection, than a snake bite, truck wreck, or falling into a gultch. Though some had died that way. Clyde knew he just needed to get back to his truck and clean up, then maybe he’d figure out what that hole in time should be filled up with.

Stumbling to his feet, Clyde scanned the horizon to find the sun, and get his bearings. Seeing the evening sun, he started walking in the opposite direction, only guessing that he’d find his truck somewhere in the distance. Luckily, the cab of his old Chevy soon loomed into his vison. Salvation was his if he could get to it before whatever had attacked him caught up. As he stumbled his way forward over greasewood, prickly-pear, and all sorts of desert flora, the “boom, sboom” throbbing in his head was, thankfully, lessening. The thought of that cold water in the can in the bed of his truck began to call out to him more and more as he trudged along. He felt as though someone had taken a dry cotton rag and used it to wipe out every ounce of spittle out of his mouth. Even the sweat that he should be drenched in was completely missing. He instinctively knew that was a bad sign; he needed water, and badly. He’d lost much water in the bleeding he’d obviously done, and the heat of the day had not done him any favors.

Reaching up from the draw he was now walking down, he grabbed the root of a wild persimmon tree to pull himself up and out of the draw. His arms screamed out in protest, as he was not a young man. In his youth, he’d have already been at the truck, enjoying a cool drink, but instead he strained against pain in his body as he pulled himself up the steep bank. Just as he cleared the edge of the draw, a couple of voices pierced the hot evening silence, and Clyde froze, hoping he hadn’t been seen and wanting to hear whatever he could from the mystery persons.

“You think he’s dead?”

“I don’t know, why don’t you go back and check see?”

“I don’t think so! What if he ain’t? I may have to hit him again. Don’t think I’ll be able to sneak up on him again, if he ain’t dead.”

“Well, if he’s dead, you should be able to sneak up real easy.”

“If he’s dead, I won’t need to whack him again, you big dummy!”

“Just shut-up and get in the truck!”

“Dang it; he took the keys!”

“Who in the Sam Hell takes their keys outta their truck when they’re out in the brush?”

“I don’t know, but one of us has to hot-foot it back and fish them out of his pocket.”

“And I guess you want me to do it?”

“It was your idea to steal the truck in the first place, so get to it!”

“This is more trouble than getting a job and just buying a truck!”

“Maybe you shoulda thought of that before now.”

Clyde lay under a cedar bush in the shade, listening to the two would be bandits, argue. He tried desperately to identify their voices. His thirst was growing, but he knew they’d not go anywhere, as his hand patted the keys in his pocket. He knew either one or both of them would return to the scene of the crime, to find him gone. If only one returned, he’d have to fight the other for his truck, and that cool, cool water.

As he thought it over, he was a little surprised to find that he was sharing the evening shade with a Chicken snake; a black non venomous snake known all over the southwest United States. An idea occurred to Clyde as he thought out his dilemma, and an impish grin spread across his bloodied, crusty face. His idea almost made him laugh out loud. With surprising speed, Clyde grabbed the chicken snake just below the head and allowed the snake to wind around his arm. Knowing the snake was non-venomous made him somewhat braver.

Now Clyde couldn’t wait to get either one of these desperados alone. Soon, the loser of the straw draw headed back to get the keys. Just as he got out of earshot, Clyde leapt from his hiding place, screaming about rattlesnakes and flung the chicken snake at the remaining thief. It hit his chest, and wrapped around his neck, like a clinging vine. The young man passed out, and fell to the ground. Clyde now slowly walked up to his truck and got a piece of rope out of the bed and tied the young feller’s feet and hands. After a nice cool drink of water, he loaded him in the bed and started back to town. It was coffee time, and the sheriff would be there. No use wasting time hunting down the other desperado. The sheriff loved that type of thing; besides, Clyde was all out of snakes.

Member Spotlight

August Newsletter Member Spotlight: Darlene Sanchez

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Member Spotlight: Darlene Sanchez

Darlene Sanchez is a mother of three, grandmother of two, who returned to Fort Stockton in 2011. She writes science fiction and children’s books, and is a Star Trek fan forever.

 

 

Spotlight Feature Article by Darlene Sanchez

Macha’s Day ~ How a pet goes through one day in her life.

Macha stretched her 30 pounds of German Shepherd body awake. The Mistress was awake and moving about. It was time to wake the kids for school. Fully awake, she leaped to the side of her Mistress as she headed for the first bed room.

“Okay, girl. Wake them!” the Mistress commanded as the door opened and the lights came on. The little Mistress squealed as Macha landed on her. Though she was only six-months old, Macha was big for the twin bed.

“Time to get up!” said the Mistress. “Get dressed.” She turned and called. “Macha, let’s get him.” Macha jumped from the bed and ran to the young master’s door. The Mistress opened it and turned on the lights. “Time for school!” She shouted as Macha leaped on this bed. The young master grabbed her and laughed as Macha licked his face.

“Macha, outside,” called the Mistress. Macha ran toward the back door that the Mistress held. She did need to go do her business. After, she started sniffing around the fenced-in back yard. She stopped as tantalizing smells came over the fence. Her mouth watered as she smelled someone’s breakfast cooking.

     “Macha!” The young master!

     Macha pulled herself away from the scents and trotted back inside. Her food and water bowls were now filled and the family was seated at the table eating. She watched for a moment.

     “You have your own, go,” commanded the Mistress.

Macha, dejected, headed for her bowl and started eating. Soon, everyone was running back and forth. Macha watched as the young master put books into his bag and headed for the door.

“Stay, girl.” He said at the door. “I’ll see you after school.”

     Macha whined as the door closed behind all that went out. Her head tilted as the car started and pulled away. She waited by the door for a while longer then headed for the young master’s room. She sniffed the made bed, as if to make sure he wasn’t hiding. Then, as she had begun when she arrived, she made her rounds of the house. Starting with the young master’s, she checked every bedroom in the house. She gave the bathroom a wide berth. She remembered the baths they gave her in that room. Her last stop was the back door. After making sure nothing was amiss, she went to her cushioned bed and lay down to wait for the Mistress. Her wait was satisfied when she heard the car pull up and the engine stop. Macha eagerly waited by the front door. After the mistress had entered, greeted the pup, and put up purse and keys, she began to clean. Macha sat and watched as she had when she arrived those many months ago.

     “You know, girl,” began the mistress. “I’m glad I don’t have to spend my days alone anymore.”

     Macha wagged her tail. She knew the mistress was talking to her.

     “Okay. Let’s go and see what we have to do today.” The mistress headed for a room that Macha found kind of crowded. Macha watched as the mistress made the funny smelling thing on the desk hum. It smelled of electrical current and, she learned when she licked it one time, it was funny cleaning stuff.

     “I’m going to work now. You can stay if you want, but no barking.”

     Macha wagged her tail at the sounds the mistress made toward her. She picked out a spot where all the mistress did was seen. Macha had learned when the mistress said ‘no barking’, she meant it. Time passed and soon Macha was dozing in her spot. The mistress worked on the thing and moved around the room. Sometimes the telephone would ring and the mistress would talk. Macha had gotten used to those things now.

     Soon, Macha woke up. She needed to go out and she let the Mistress know by slowly going to the door and, as she had been taught, scratching. The Mistress said, “Good, girl,” as she opened the door. Macha did her business and started exploring the back yard again. She suddenly stopped as a scent came to her. The cat from the alley. Macha slowly stalked toward the shed in the very back. The scent came from there. She put her head close to the ground and made her way until she saw him. The alley cat was a large battle-scarred, orange tabby. He had gotten the best of Macha when she first arrived, but she was bigger now. She growled a warning that sent him flying, hissing and spitting over the fence. Macha gave him a huffing snort as he returned a growling spat. Macha heard laughing coming from the house.

     “Macha, one of these days, you are going to get scratched again,” the Mistress said, still laughing. Head high, Macha walked back into the house, did her rounds before heading back to her place in the Mistress’ work room.

     “Macha, you are a good dog,” the Mistress said as she sat down.

     Macha wagged her tail in response. She laid her head on her paws. She was happy here and she was very comfortable. This was her home.

Member Spotlight

July Member Spotlight: Kirby Warnock

Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 2.33.19 PMMember Spotlight: Kirby Warnock

Kirby Warnock is a 1974 graduate of Baylor University where he earned a degree in history. He wrote for newspapers and magazines before settling in to a 16-year career as a proposal writer for EDS, ACS, Deloitte and Information Services Group. His freelance articles have been published in Texas Monthly, D Magazine, The Dallas Morning News and Southwest Airlines magazine. He is an independent filmmaker who has produced four documentaries, Return to Giant, about the Marfa location filming of Giant, Border Bandits, When Dallas Rocked, and his most recent production, From Nowhere: The Story of the Vaughan Brothers.

He lives in Fort Stockton with his wife, Diann. They are the parents of three children, Travis, Roland and Hallie.

Spotlight Feature Article by Kirby Warnock

Roundup

“We’re burning daylight. Let’s get on our horses and start moving.”

Warren was enjoying his coffee, but Derek had other ideas. They had to ride out through the canyon country to find some missing sheep for shearing. It was February and the shearers would be arriving tomorrow, and Derek wanted the missing ones in the pens so they would be clipped, too.

Warren wasn’t as agitated about it as Derek, mainly because he really did not care about sheep ranching, or sheep in general. “The only thing dumber than a sheep is the man who raises them,” he liked to crack. But Derek was paying him for a day’s work along with a meal or two, so he had headed out in the country to stay the night with Derek and Annie at the old ranch house then get up the next morning to find about 200 sheep and reunite them with the 2,300 others in the pens at the old ranch headquarters.

They were saddling up in the corral with three Mexican workers Derek had hired. Warren tied the “Texas T” knot on his cinch then crawled up into the saddle. Once atop his horse he scanned the Pecos County landscape. “It used to be dangerous to ride a horse out into this country,” he thought. “If the Comanches caught you out in the open, you were a dead man. Now all we worry about is getting back in time for supper.”

Derek and the three Mexicans were riding up behind him as they climbed out of the canyon. In the distance they could see a patch of white, indicating a group of sheep huddled up against the morning chill.

“Typical,” said Warren. “A sheep is born looking for a place to die.”

In many ways he felt a bit sorry for Derek because the man had no choice. He had inherited the sprawling Pecos County sheep ranch back in 1936 when his father, Harley, was thrown from his horse and landed head first on a mesquite grub. His grandfather, Price, had come out here in the 1800s and homesteaded four sections at a time until he amassed a fairly large spread. It was made easier by building a “house” about the size of a phone booth on wooden skids so they could hitch up a mule to it and drag it to another four sections every four years. (The state of Texas required a “dwelling” to be built at the epicenter of the four sections, and you had to “live’ there for four years.) It was a novel approach to the letter of the law.

By now they had approached the missing sheep, several ewes and their lambs, and were pushing them towards the pens. Old Juan and his team of shearers would be driving into the ranch in their converted school bus the next day. They had phoned Annie that the group would be leaving the Puckett ranch that evening.

Warren was always struck by how much dust 2,500 sheep could churn up. Whenever he got home, Lois, his wife, had to turn all of his pockets inside out to get his clothes clean. He headed up to the ranch house to eat the lunch that Annie had pre- pared: Pinto beans with bacon, flour tortillas and some poblano chiles.

As they sat down to eat, Warren was struck by how old Derek looked.

“This country takes a lot out of a man,” Derek said, as if he had read Warren’s mind. “The sun and the dry air cracks your skin, and the isolation is rough on women.” He trailed off as he looked out the window, pulling his iced tea up to his lips.

Pecos County may have been dry and rugged, but it was pretty good sheep country. The old maxim was that a man could make money off of sheep twice, when he sheared them and when he sold them. Now it was 1962, and a lot hadn’t changed much, except the advent of television and better phone service.

And women.

There still weren’t many women west of the Pecos, but there were more than in 1936. Warren had met Lois on a trip to Houston for the 1951 Bluebonnet Bowl. She was waitressing in the restaurant where he dined and he was “struck by the thunder- bolt,” at the sight of her. A long-distance romance went on for only three months until neither of them could stand it any longer, so they got married. She rode in his car to his place outside of Fort Stockton and they settled in, as best they could.

But for an attractive girl from the big city, there were certain things that Pecos County and good Mexican food couldn’t fill, and Lois was getting restless. Warren was going to have a lot more on his plate than just pinto beans in the coming weeks.