Author Archives: Writer

Why Not Me?

You’ve been searchin’ from here to Singapore
Ain’t it time that you notice the girl next door, baby
Why not me?
Oh, you had to see if the world was round
It’s time that you learned how good settlin’ down could be
Why not me?
Why Not Me?
— The Judds

The black SUV turned off of route 76 into the driveway, kicking up a cloud of dust into the morning air. Voices on the radio babbled. 

“I can touch my face, I’m already sick. It’s amazing what they’re doing for us. Can you imagine not being able to say goodbye to a loved one? Oof! Think about it, and then think about what you can do to help make something like that less likely to happen.”

“Jesus,” he said, steering toward the boarded-up house at the end of the drive. “Change it.”

The front seat passenger let out a sigh, looked at him, and changed the station.

“The Congressman said he was not running for reelection to spend more time with family, but most people think he dropped out because President Trump endorsed his opponent…”

“Change it,” they both said in unison.

New voices argued on the radio. 

“Aren’t you concerned about people going to in-person voting?” asked one. 

“I don’t know. Why didn’t he do it before? He’s doing it right before the election,” came the answer from a familiar voice from the White House. 

“But, do you think every …” pressed the other. 

“Excuse me. Why didn’t he do this two weeks ago? All of a sudden, excuse me. All of a sudden, an election which is taking place very soon, gets delayed now. I just endorsed him today and….”

The voice stopped as he parked and turned off the car.  

“We’re here,” he said. 

“That’s where we’re supposed to stay?” their grandson asked from the back seat. 

“That’s it, sweetie,” said his wife from front seat. “We’ll fix it up! It’ll be fun.” 

“Fun?” asked his daughter from the back seat. “Fun wasn’t the word I was thinking of,” she said. 

“Hey, everyone knew ahead of time this was going to be a mixed bag, okay?” he said looking in the rear-view mirror at his daughter. Then he looked to his passenger on the right, they made eye contact, he squeezed her hand. She smiled a bit. 

“Let’s go check it out, Grandpa,” she said, opening the door. 

The young boy ran toward the boarded-up adobe building, chased by his mother who jumped out of the back seat. 

“Let’s be careful: snakes!” she said. 

“Snakes?” the boy asked. “That would be cool!”

They stood watching their daughter and grandchild. He put his arm around her. 

“This is not what I was thinking,” he said about the house.

“What were you expecting?”

“Something, you know, white, and bigger.”

“Brown and small is better.”

“I suppose now would be the time for us to find the Cumean Sybil. Like Aeneas said,

Prophetess who can tell what the future knows,
You know that I ask for nothing more than what Is mine by what the Fates allow to me.
Grant that at last we Teucrians can bring

He paused and gave her a sideways look.

“Bring our tempest tossed selves to Chimayo.”

“Nice,” she said, putting her arm around his waist as they looked at the old house. “But you need Beatrice, not the Sybil.

Tuttavia, perché mo vergogna porte del tuo errore, e perché altra volta, udendo le serene, sie più forte, pon giù il seme del piangere e ascolta: sì udirai come in contraria parte mover dovieti mia carne sepolta.”

“Fuck,” he said. “You lost me. Purgatorio? Canto thirty? You know I barely figured out Latin.”

“Why do you suck at learning languages?”

“It’s a vulnerability thing,” he said. “English is all I’ve got.”

 “It’s Canto thirty-one, the confession.”

Nonetheless, so that you now may bear the shame of your straying and the next time that you hear the Sirens’ call, be stronger, stop sowing tears and listen. Then you shall hear just how my buried flesh should have directed you to quite a different place.”

“Ok, got it. I’m in purgatory with you. Quarantine is purgatory. I was hoping for a something a little more like the Decameron.”

“Of course, you would,” she said.

“Are we pilgrims? Maybe we’re pilgrims, like the ones that walk right down that road.”

“Were you ever here for Good Friday?”

“I was. They’d come along, alone, or in little groups. When they’d pass, the dogs would go crazy, barking at them. I could look out the windows and see them, carrying crosses.”

“It’s four miles to the Santuario from here.”

“By the time they got here they’d come a long way.”

“So have we.”

“Well, my place is here with you and these rug rats I guess,” he said. “Lots of memories.”

“For sure,” she said. “How did we not know? After that summer I couldn’t forget this place.”

“Kids are self-absorbed,” he said. “I never would have wanted to come back here when we first met. This is not where I saw us ending up, back here. It was the last place on earth….” he stopped. 

She laughed. 

“Maybe if there was a zombie apocalypse,” she said. “Maybe when the world was ending. Or a pandemic quarantine.”

“Yeah, there’s many things I never thought would happen,” he said watching the young boy trying to peek inside the house. 

He turned to her. 

“I’m sorry. It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry.”

“Wait,” she said. “Just wait for a second.”

“After all that we’ve been through,” he started.

“Stop,” she said.

 “We should have all been together a long time ago. We should have done this a long time ago.”

“You’re ridiculous,” she said. “Fucking ridiculous. Getting all sentimental about this. You didn’t want to ‘be together,’” saying the last two words in a gently mocking tone. 

“Jesus,” he sighed, shaking his head and looking down. 

 “I always wanted someone, you, to say that to me,” she said.


“I’m sorry.”

“I am.”


Then they stopped talking.

“This is gonna be the longest fucking month of my life dealing with you.” 

“Month?” she laughed. “This whole pandemic thing is going to last a lot longer than a month.”

She remembered the first time she heard cicadas. She closed her eyes and breathed in. She took his hand, and looked up at him. 

“Is that a tear?” she whispered, their faces closer together. 

“Fuck you,” he whispered back. They embraced and kissed. 

“Hey you guys,” their daughter said a voice that broke the moment. “You think you could peel yourselves off each other for a minute? We need to figure out how to get in here. The kid needs to eat.”

They looked over at her, and it was sinking in. They had work to do.

Waylon (Martinmas Edition)

Lebanon High School is a brick building on the corner of School and Main Streets. That morning she’d gotten up and to the school early, and she was waiting to meet him. There was a prep class for the SAT. She hadn’t washed her hair; she’d put it up. She often got comments on her hair, positive and negative. Some loved it, and others called her names. Her boyfriend liked it.

“Hey,” he said when they met. “You ready to get into this.”

They’d been studying together. She’d done everything she could do. Drill team, activities, studying, and practicing for the test. She was tired. Something about all this wasn’t right; it didn’t make sense, including him. He was too perfect. It was wrong.

“Yes,” she said. “We’re gonna kick this test’s ass!”

“Do you have to curse always,” he said. “I mean, you know.”

“Like saying ‘fuck you’ when you say shit like that?” she asked.

“Whatever,” he said.

They’d do well in the town if she could keep her family under control. There was a delicate balance in town. Everyone knew her dad and brothers. She knew everyone else’s dad and brothers. There was a currency here, a way of doing things, and it wasn’t more moral or wholesome than anywhere else. What they had was a system, and she was doing what she could to manage it and live in it.

It was November, and farm equipment would amble on to the highway. People were focused on the harvest. A light snow had fallen the night before, crusting everything with a white frost.

That night, as the sun was setting, they drove in his truck south of town, past the railroad tracks to the corn fields and the huge radio antenna that stood like a sentinel, looming over the road into town.

It was what they did. They did everything but have sex. As the sun slipped behind the horizon and a rich and deep darkness embraced them, she quizzed him.

“You love me, right?” she asked.

“Of course, yes,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if you do or not,” she said, stroking his hair. “It doesn’t even matter.”

They heard something loud hit the truck. It happened again. They heard voices.

“Hey, look,” someone said. “He’s out here with her. Are they fucking?”

There was laughter from many of voices. There was a crowd. A flashlight was shining through the windshield.

“There she is,” a voice said. “Nigger hair is in there with him!”

“Where’s you’re fucking gun,” she asked him. “Where’s the gun?”

“Hey, baby,” he said. “Let’s just get out of here.”

“Fuck that!” she said. “I’m tired of this shit.”

She reached behind the seat and searched around and pulled out a pistol.

“Fuck, honey,” he said. “No! Goddamit, no!”

She opened the door of the truck and got out.

“Hey you fuckers,” she yelled and fired a shot in the air.

She could see their faces in the glow of their flashlights. There was one kid she had heard from over and over, since middle school. She could see his fat face. “Hey, you little shit,” she said. “Where’s you’re fucking mama?”

She fired over his head.

“Jesus Christ, you fuckin’ whore!” he yelled.

She ran at him and took the pistol and hit him in the face with it once, then again, then again, then again.

“Stop!” the boy cried.

“One of you stupid motherfuckers shine your light over here so I can get a clear shot at this fuckers head!” she said.

The flashlights lit her and the boy, lying on the ground in front of stalks of corn. Her boyfriend was still in the truck, with the dome light on, watching in a panic. All the lights shined on her. She held the gun pointed to the ground, blood on her hands.

“Beg, motherfucker,” she said. “Beg! Or I swear to God, I’ll kill you!”

It was quiet except for crickets. The silence seemed to last forever.

“Please,” the boy said. “Please, you crazy fuck. Please.”

“Get up!” she said. “Get up and walk.”

He walked toward the others. Their flashlights followed them and the boy held his hands up as they all walked past the truck.

“Now all you fuckers get the fuck outta here now!” and she fired over their heads.

The lights all scrambled away, north, back toward the tracks, the voices and laughter fading.

She climbed back in the truck and dropped the gun on the floor. She wiped her hands on her shirt.

“Those fuckin’ redlneck motherfuckers have something to talk about now,” she said.

“Jesus Christ,” he said. “What have you done?”

The dome light was still on. She could see his face. He was scared. He was angry.

“You’ve,” he stopped. “You’ve ruined me. You made me look like a fool, here.”

Lots of things went through her mind. For one, she felt like she’d dealt a well-deserved blow to the monster that lived in the town, the one that stalked around and didn’t kill or stomp or squash but nibbled and ate and scratched. She felt like she’d kicked that motherfucker right in the nuts.

Then she looked at this cowering boy, worried, she knew, about his manhood and what he’d say tomorrow. Then she knew she’d lost. She’d pushed the monster back for a moment, she’d scared it, and she had even maybe worried it a bit about its existence. When she looked at this boy’s face, she knew it was not only alive, but this incident would feed it, make it stronger.

She wanted to take the gun and kill him, right there. Then she saw the headline. And she saw herself in prison, maybe on death row. And for less than a second, the time that it takes for one heartbeat, she was fine with that. Then she thought about the test, and her mother, and her future. And then, the desire switched off.

“Take me home,” she said. “Take me home.”

It wasn’t a long trip. She got out wordlessly, walked toward her house, and went through the door. Her dad was passed out on the couch. She went right to the bathroom and closed the door. She washed her hands.

Her dad had an electric razor with different settings to cut hair. She picked it up and looked at it.

She turned on the radio.

“Hope you’ve had a great Veterans Day. Here’s another one from Waylon Jennings, this one is called, ‘What You’ll Do When I’m Gone,’” the voice said. “Remember tomorrow morning be the 10th caller and you’ll win tickets to his show in Kansas City.”

Staring at the door
Every night I’m thinking more and more About walking out that door. 
I know some day I will
Although I’m standing still someday I will I know someday I will.

She started shaving her head, right down to the root. She plunged the razor deeper and deeper, and the hair fell to the floor. She struggled a bit with some pieces, but she kept at it, and with each stroke she felt more and more free. It fell away. She looked at her face in the mirror, at her eyes, blazing green. She felt her scalp and it felt wonderful. She looked like boy, like a soldier.

She gathered up the hair, and as she did, she felt a jolt of regret, she felt something like falling, like she’d shot that kid in the face and buried him in the field. For a moment, like a lightning bolt, like that moment she’d wanted to kill someone, she felt like putting the hair back on her head. But that feeling was like the lightening bugs she’d catch in summer. Their lights would go on then off. It felt like forever, but the regret was gone. Then she felt like she’d cut off being a girl, and when her hair grew back, it would grow back on a woman’s head, not a girl’s.

She put all the hair in the garbage. She kept one lock, and used a hair tie to hold it together. She took the garbage bag in her hand and walked out of the bathroom.

“Jesus Christ,” her dad said. “I’ve gotta piss. Thought you’d never get out of there.”

“Sorry,” she said, and let him go past.

She walked out into the cold evening. A light snow was beginning to fall.

She emptied the trash into a big bin and walked back to the house.

Her dad was bent over in the refrigerator.

“Goddamit,” he said. “We’re damn near out of beer!”

He took one out and looked at her. He flicked on the kitchen light.

“What the hell have you done, honey,” he said. He opened the can. Then he reached into the refrigerator and pulled out another one.

“These are the last damned beers,” he said as he opened the second one and handed it to her.

He stood there and looked at her. He took his beer and held it up to her to toast. They touched beer cans.

“You’re as beautiful as ever,” he said. “Now all I can see is those goddamned eyes. The hair, well, that was a distraction.”

They both took a big drink.

“I can only imagine what happened,” he said.

“It’s quite the fucking story,” she said.

Going Home: The Villasur Expedition

Arrive Lincoln Evening of Sunday, September 26

Monday, September 27

Villasur Marker 
US-81 & 33rd Ave, 650-698 Lincoln Hwy,
Columbus, NE 68601
Travel to Columbus, Nebraska
Travel time: 1:16

Pawnee Indian Museum
480 Pawnee Trail, Republic, KS 66964
Travel to Republic, Kansas
Travel time: 2:30

Guide Rock Marker
525 University St, Guide Rock, NE 68942
Guide Rock, Nebraska
Travel time :45

Lebanon, Kansas
Travel Time: :40

Quivara marker
US-56 & 12th Rd,
Lincoln, KS 67554
Lincoln, Kansas
Travel Time: 2:15

Hyatt Hotel
400 West Waterman, Wichita, Kansas, 67202
Wichita, KansasTravel time: 1:30

Tuesday, September 28th

El Quartelejo Museum
902 W 5th St, Scott City, KS 67871
Scott City
Travel time: 4:00