G. Russell Cole
It was an oppressively hot day as the moving van arrived at 146 Highway K and turned slowly into the gravel covered drive. It was at least six hundred yards to the two-story frame house at the crest of the hill and, close behind, a worn Honda Civic followed. This would be Barton Dunn’s home now that he had graduated from college and accepted a junior position with Magnus Petroleum. The money was good, but largely because no others sought to relocate to such a desolate place. He would be working at a tank farm just outside the nearest town, Essex, Indiana. Essex had once been a bit of a boomtown when oil was discovered there in the nineteen thirties, but now the Magnus C-suite viewed it as largely an afterthought. It was profitable enough to maintain, but would never enjoy the investment it once knew.
The Redemption of Donald Ganz
Donald Ganz was a kiss-ass, the worst kind of wimp. Anyone who’s ever experienced flashes of wimpiness in their own life would surely be sympathetic towards a momentary lack of nerve or softening of the backbone. Who hasn’t experienced dry mouth in the face of an ugly situation populated by people who have reasons to punch you in the face? It’s damn hard to be macho sometimes. But a kiss-ass is something different. A kiss-ass is a wimp who sticks it in your face. It’s someone who has absolutely no business telling the bus driver that you threw rocks at cars or accidentally tipped over a mailbox, but he does it anyway. Suddenly, at the age of eleven, I’ve got an elementary school principal explaining to me the implication of tampering with the U.S. mail. He didn’t go so far as to describe the intricacies of man-on-man love, but he mentioned prison and the fact that my box tipping constituted a federal offense. Even at eleven I wasn’t stupid enough to think I was headed for the big house, but he did get my folks involved and that was serious enough. And all because Donald Ganz was a kiss-ass.
There's been a great deal assumed about the solitary nature of farming. How often are we faced with the romantic notion of stoic, simple folk who work a vast land with quiet dignity? The fabric of America. It's a beautiful ideal and one that's still intact after years of living in a small farming community.
Eddie Versus The Natural World
Eddie Rollier lived across the street in a one-story frame house with his mother, father and older sister. Because of his proximity, it was natural that he was the first friend I made when my family moved to Latoka, Illinois, population 500. He and I were nearly the same age, but Eddie spoke with a severe impediment and he suffered from the tragically common cycle of abuse at home and failure at school. Eddie's father, Rick, was perpetually angry and I'd seen him beat Eddie with such frequency that he seemed to feel comfortable doing it in my presence. He knew, as I do now, that his particular brand of discipline was pretty much sanctioned by the town. So, Eddie and I never spent much time around his house.
They met at a little sports bar he had attended regularly for years. It just so happened that, on this afternoon, she found only one seat available and it happened to be next to him. She politely said, “Hello. Is this seat saved?”
Why Some Girls Don't Fish
Like my father, I have a dark side. Generally, it manifests itself through a sense of humor based in painful realities and brutal consequences. However, during my early teen's it took on another characteristic altogether: That of the Evil Genius. As a thirteen-year-old Evil Genius I developed such projects as Poison Ivy juice, fraudulent promotional materials for urine-soaked gum and air-powered bean shooters. These innovations enjoyed various levels of success, but I don't mean to suggest that Evil Genius is only attainable through long-range projects or that I was the only member of my family to demonstrate such dark tendencies. Though my sister was never quite as structured as I in her endeavors, she nevertheless attained the distinction of Evil Genius several years prior based largely on a single incident.
The Markers It was the warmest of days in Briarfield, Illinois that they had seen in the spring of 1978. It was May, specifically, and the small town located on the banks of the Kaskaskia River was preparing for a normal summer. School was letting out and most of the crops had already been planted. All that remained was to wait.