Fall 2008 - The Prelude - Huntingdon College
Fall 2008 - The Prelude - Huntingdon College
Fall 2008 - The Prelude - Huntingdon College
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The PreludeHuntingdon CollegeVolume 88Fall 2008
The Prelude Literary MagazineVolume 88Fall 2008Editor: Maegan McCollumArt Editor: Cory WaltonAdvisor: Dr. Jennifer FremlinYay, Prelude! The fall 2008 edition is finally here. I’d like to thankmy Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for always being there for me, myfamily for being so wonderful, my friends for being so amazing, andyou—whoever you are—for reading this. Continuing with the shoutout’s, I have to give a huge one to all of you who sent in submissionsto the Prelude. It was a privledge to read your prose and poetry, andview your art. To everyone who helped with the Prelude over thecourse of the semester, thank you for your time and effort. And lastly,I would like to thank Dr. Fremlin for all of her support, without hernone of this would have been possible.—Maegan McCollumCover Photo by Scott Hallford
ContributorsPoetryKimberly CauthenChanley RaineyWill FrancisNichole PeacockCreative Non-FictionDeirdre HallKC BoothFictionNichole PeacockHall CopelandJacob BaileyArtRebekah CorreiaBethany RussellAnton JacksonSpecial Tribute to Harper LeeKimberly CauthenNelle Harper Lee
Kimberly CauthenPoker NightBlack and WhiteRed and whiteGreen and WhiteBlue and White Grey and WhitePoker NightStacked smartly, positioned seriously amongst cards, hands, greenfeltA royal flush of the cards you were dealt?Sneers, and glances,Sweaty palms,& high hoped chancesMaintain, obtain, Restrain, complain, Refrain, sustain.....WaitFor It......Wait....Decide is this bait,Contemplate the fate, what’s at stakeTension is sliced, posture slacks into a lagging stoop,Muffles of shame, and disdain for the groupCigar smoke, created by men, for men, of this sweat stained nightSwirls of sheer smoke take mystic flightFloyd and Doors, Zepp and StonesBlood shot eyes, restrained yawns, lazy moansA shot, a beer,New hand?Good hand?A sudden grip of fearWhere in this group will you stand?Make your bet, and be a man.
Chanley RaineyBehold the TreeHe says not where his seed shall fall,What plans it should contain,Though blessed or burdened by it allIn sunshine as in rain.Though unconsulted as to her roots,She digs deeply in the ground;Bringing Life and Succor to her fruitsWith what richness can be found.He expands in all directions.Blind, reaching for the Light.Full of shadows and reflections,He harbors all he might.In places, her branches bend and bow;At times, bereft of color.Yet Beauty lingers and from her flowSweet dirges full of power.One of many in the forest;If gone, would he be missed?“But he was different from the rest!”Cry all who his leaves kissed.Patterned by grove and seed, she grows.Round them must she navigate,Ever seeking space for her boughsAnd all small selves that they create.
Will FrancisBehold the Tree!Striving, as are we.Becoming, just like me.Under the InfluenceWhile drafting poetry, I caught pneumonia.I convulsed, gagged,and finally curled up on the drawing room floor.My eyes were aflame.Blazing like a Jack O’ Latern on an October evening,they flickered and pulsed with the pentameter,And my tongue rolled out of my mouth, tumbleddown the hall,and hailed a cab for somewhere north of Barcelona.It was the day of reckoning, and the end was milesfrom my present state.At once a flurryLord Tennyson bit me on the ear, then pandered toMiss Dickinson, who scowled and coughed, all thewhile Coleridge just lauged, shaving himself in themaster bathroom.I can not focus on my poetry during all this ruckus. Imust have order. I must have order. Certianly sir, Imust have order.I stuffed them in my inkwell where I can make someuse of them.For now.
Nichole PeacockGhosts Rise from the RailsBlack forms shirtless and hardGlisten under the blistering golden sunHammers fall synchronizedThey rise as those wielding them riseMiles of rail emerge rolled outLike a magic carpet.Swarms of people come and wait onSome hollowed out spotThey collect like moths to a flameTo ride the rails across the sleek shiny trackAcross the black backs of the men who build it.One by one, at each spotAt each stop, the train arrivesLoaded with bounty and beastsShadows of men toil so quietlyThey are as ghost on a missionUnobrusively efficentListening and observing.The ghosts rise from the railsLearned and substantialReal as a phoenix flightDancing in the billowing black smokeGolden creatures manifestBrilliant with possibilitiesShimmering beyond a veil of hope.
Will FrancisAugustI sputter and cough out everything thatreminds me of that month.Burnt offerings that never seem to catchflame along with a numb ping and itch thatsettles at the bottom ofThe Basin.I squeeze out one last drop of that notoriouscheap perfume.Shades of grey and a shock of somethingUnearthly are painted on the walls of thenursery, and I can’t help to think what might gowell on the east wall next to the fireplace.The smell.The grey.It’s always been there, but itsthat month that set it into the carpet.
Deirdre HallThere, In the MomentI just stood there. I knew it was about to fall. I saw him in itspath. The basketball goal wobbled around like a full bottle of soda thathad been bumped and was on the verge going down any second. Itsdizzy spell was caused by the harsh, NBA dunk-and-hang it had justreceived from John Thomas. I gasped, took one step forward, reachedmy arms out toward the curly headed five-year-old, scrunched my face,and stood there.At sixteen, I was the oldest kid at Vacation Bible School thatyear, as I always was. My ultra-religious mother dragged me to everyAME Zion function that involved youth. The African Methodist EpiscopalZion Church is a connectional church. So all AME Zion churchesin a city know of each other and work together. I was like a churchschool super senior. I had been to every conference, youth retreat andVacation Bible School imaginable. It was the last day of Vacation BibleSchool and we were on our lunch break-slash-recess. The little backyardof the church was accessible from the kitchen. After eating theusual meal served to kids at church functions like these—hot dogs,chips and those little round juices that had the foil tops that wereimpossible to open—inebriated on bible stories, we staggered outsideto the back lawn to mingle and watch some of the boys play a game ofbasketball.There we were, young and unwary, standing around socializing, girlssegregated from guys, in that Jr. High School Dance sort of way. A portablebasketball goal was set up in the fenced in portion behind Old Ship AMEZion Church, the oldest black church in Montgomery, Alabama, built in1852. The goal was the kind that had a big plastic-looking base. Indowntoan Montgomery at the corner of Holcombe and Mildred I stood,arms folded shyly, switching my weight from one foot to the other, waiting
around, behind this huge brick historic landmark. My eyes were fixed onan adorable little boy, Isaiah, the grandson of our class’s teacher. As Imade small talk with a girl I had just become friends with during theweek, he weaved through the players’ legs, laughing in that loud choppyway that little kinds do when they’re amused. The older boys who wereplaying ball just darted around him, fully focused on the game. Then, Isaw it.I saw exactly what was about to happen, as if I had a premonition.My mind sped up as the scene around me slowed to a dreary pace.The game was almost over. One of the boys dunked the ball with an armfull of power. The goal wobbled a bit. I felt a nervous pull in my gut. Inoticed the little boy now. He was way too close to the action. I knew ifthe next player dunked the ball with too much force, the goal wouldsurely fall. Before the thought could settle in my mind, I heard the ballswoosh again. Slow motion took over. Like Shaq, John, a tall but heftyboy, grabbed onto the goal, brought his knees up, and dangled from therim a few seconds before gliding down from the goal. His feet thumpedthe ground and he stepped back to keep his balance once he was down.The “boing” sound from the vibration of the rim during that momentstill rings in my ears. I glanced over at the little boy who was still lost inbliss. He fixed his energetic, puppy eyes on those of us who were standingaround watching the game, as he continued on smiling and scamperingabout.The sound I heard that day is indescribable. It happened.Backboard to head, the force slammed his small body to the ground facefirst, and on him all at once was the top of the structure. It pinned himdown fiercely. Planted like a well-rooted tree, I stood, arms extended,hands now clenched into fists, eyes wide with terror. The thought ofdeath crept into my brain as gasps and “Oh my Gods” rang in the background.That dark stranger consumed my mind. Its taunts made meuneasy. I looked on helpless, passively as all of this occurred. The guiltsank deep into my chest. My heart beat, wild in panic. Why I didn’t warnhim to move, yell out, or run over and push him out of the way? I was sick withthe dread of what would happen next. I just knew he was dead. How
could a child that tiny survive a blow to the head by an object that had toweigh at least a few hundred pounds?Then a loud shriek straight from the lungs of the child pierced theatmosphere and calmed me. Awestruck, I watched as the boy’s grandmotherrescued him with pats and kisses. She bounced him in her armsand hushed his wails to low whimpers. She scooped him up and comfortedhim as if he had just fallen and scraped a knee. He was O.K.For the entire ride home I sat silent and stared out the window. In thenext few days all I could think about was that moment, that awful sound ofthe backboard hitting the back of that curly little head. I wondered if heobtained further injuries, if perhaps he had a concussion. I questionedmyself over and over again about my choice of not moving or doing somethingto prevent the accident. Was it a choice at all? What caused me tofreeze like that? Was this possibly my fault? Maybe I could have reacteddifferently, but I didn’t. I was glad that he was O.K.Life happens in the moments. Sometimes we’re able to react, andsometimes we are helpless. We learn in the moments, and from them. In thismoment I experienced the harsh blow of guilt, and the nagging tug of regret.I learned to trust my instincts so in the future I wouldn’t have to look backand wish for a different ending to the story. I can live life, there, in themoment.Art by Rebekah Correia
KC BoothLove is a Lump“Why don’t we go to lunch tomorrow or something?”“Are you serious?”“What? Is tomorrow not good for you?” Andrew asked, neverlooking away from ESPN.“No, tomorrow is not good for me. I have my doctor’s appointmentin Birmingham. I told you that two weeks ago.”“Oh, I thought that was next week.”“Right.” I stood up and walked into the bedroom.The next morning I woke up alone. He had fallen asleep on thecouch for the second night in a row, and ESPN was still on.“Babe.” I shook him. “Andrew, I’m leaving.”He managed a groan. “Call me when you get there, bye.”The stretch of I-65 between Birmingham and Montgomery is thecrooked spine of my home. For me, Birmingham is the head, and then Isuppose that makes Montgomery around the ass. Passing each familiarvertebral landmark, I feel relieved that I’m closer to my destination. Eitherway, driving that stretch north or south, always feels like I’m going home.Not until I pulled off the interstate at University Blvd. and mademy way towards St. Vincent’s Hospital, did I realize how much I hadmissed Birmingham. I called Andrew.“Hello?” He was still half-asleep.“Hey, I’m here. Want me to call you when I get done?”“Yea, sure. What time is it?”“Almost nine.”“Blegh, call me when it’s noon.”I walked into the waiting room on the fifth floor of the NorthTower at five past nine. I had gotten lost trying to remember where theoffice was and on which end of the hospital it was located. “Name and
irthdate?” a petite woman from behind the glass asked.“Kathryn Booth, 4-10-87.”“And which doctor will you be seeing today?”“Dr. Pryzbysz at 9:15.”“OB or GYN?”I hated this question. I could never remember which I was. Wordslike Obstetrician and Gynecologist were sciencey words. “Um, I’m notpregnant.”“Have a seat and we’ll call you in a bit.”I sat near the door so I wouldn’t have to wave the nurse downwhen she called out through the lobby. A myriad of people waited for itbeing so early on a Friday morning: a pregnant teen with herconservatively dressed mother, a handful of dozing or uninterestedexpectant fathers, a blonde reading What to Expect When You’re Expectingwhom I could only assume had found out recently she was pregnantbecause she wasn’t showing, and of course me.I pulled out the book Andrew had been raving about for a couple ofdays, Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. It was a memoir about a writerfrom The Rolling Stone whose wife had died suddenly and the shock andsorrow he faced afterwards. Two paragraphs in, I got the call.“I need you to fill the cup in the bathroom, put it through thewindow, then come wait for us here.”I went into the bathroom and faced the anxiety of peeing in thedamn cup. You can’t relax in those rooms, hearing the nurses talk aboutpatients through the tiny window. After what seemed like an hour, Isqueezed out as much as I thought they would need to run any tests andwent to wait again.This time only two sentences in, I was called to have my bloodtaken. “KC?”I go by Kathryn at doctor and business offices, so this had to besomeone I knew. This was the last place I wanted to run into someone.“Courtney, hey. What are you doing up here?”“Just interning for the summer. My mom’s a nurse. Come on back.”
She motioned me to a chair and, after wiping off my middle finger, prickedit for blood. “Do you want a pregnancy test done today?”“Oh, um, sure, why not, right?” Courtney and I were more alongthe lines of acquaintances rather than girlfriends.Another few pages passed in a different waiting room until I wascalled again, this time by the first nurse. “Still 5’6" and 130 pounds?” sheasked while we weaved through the maze of halls to the next waitingroom.“If that’s what the sheet says, then we’ll go with it.” I wish I werestill 130 pounds.“All right, Kathryn, I need you to undress and cover yourself withthis paper robe. Dr. Pryzbysz will be in in a minute.” And she left me inthe private waiting room to strip. It’s interesting to me that some doctorsjudge girls by what they wear to their appointments, because the first timethey see us, we’re already naked.I undressed and sat crinkling and rustling in my paper robe tryingto feel comfortable.“Kathryn, are you ready?” Dr. Pryzbysz asked with a knock at thedoor.“Yes, ma’am.”She walked in and sat on the swiveling stool by the counter. Shehad changed her hair since last year. I didn’t like the new blondehighlights. “So how’s school? Everything going ok?”“Yea, just working and trying to graduate.”“That’s great. Nothing irregular come up since last time?”“Nope, everything looks normal to me.”She walked near the door and pressed a button on the wall thatsummoned her nurse. “Okay, Kathryn, if you’ll just lie back for me so wecan get started.”Besides my first visit, I’ve never really minded going to see Dr.Pryzbysz. She’s quick, a woman, and honest. Of course, I still don’t like tomake eye contact while she’s doing her job, especially with the nurse whostands in the corner, watching. I fixate on a tiny scratch in the ceiling, andI’m miles away. She always gets the worst out of the way first, another
point I admire about her, and then moves up to the breast exam.“Close to graduating then, are ya?” A flaw, she does try to makesmall talk during examinations. Her pros still outweigh the cons.“Hoping to get out by December, actually.”“Uh huh…” She responded now as if she were miles away. Then Irealized she was paying way more attention to my right breast than shewas my left. “Cindy, will you come feel this for me. I think I feel a lump.”A lump?Four hands were now poking and cupping and flattening my rightbreast. Cindy confirmed, “Hmm, I think I feel something, too.”Dr. Pryzbysz took my left hand and pushed it down on the spot thathad been getting so much attention. “Do you feel that? Almost like aridge?”There was a lump. “Yes. I’m guessing that’s not good?”“Well, when was your last period?”I hate these questions, too. Not information I really keep right athand. “Um, I’d say a week or so ago.”“Normally, young girls will have some lumping right before theirperiods, which can be anything from tissue build up to stress or too muchcaffeine. But for you to have this after worries me a bit. Would you mindgoing downstairs and having a mammogram done?”“Of course not.”“Great,” she said with a smile, “get dressed and I’ll see you in myoffice.”My chest started to sweat after they left. A lump?Dr. Pryzbysz’s office has one of the only windows that I’d seensince I entered the building. It was still bright and sunny outside. “I doubtthere’s anything to really worry about, Kathryn. Of course, with you beingso young, I’d like to be sure.” She handed me a printout of directions tofind the imaging center, a signed request appointment for the procedure,and two packets of birth control samples—just in case, she always says.“All they’re going to do is a mammogram. When we get the results fromthat, we’ll have to have the image read by a surgeon to see if it’s a cyst or
tumor or cancer and to decide if it needs to be biopsy-ed or cut out. Comeback up here when you’re done, and we’ll go from there.”Did she say cancer?I followed the directions down to the third floor of the NorthTower. The woman behind the desk handed me a clipboard to fill out myinformation. “When’s your appointment?”“Oh, I don’t have one. Dr. Pryzbysz sent me down here to have amammogram done.” I handed her the signed request appointment sheet.The woman shifted in her chair and pursed her lips. “Wait overthere until you’re called.”At first I expected to only see women waiting for mammograms,but there was a man with an ankle brace, too. After ten minutes, I couldn’tconcentrate long enough to get a sentence through my book. I was the onlyone left now in the waiting room, so I called my mother at work.“Hey, boo! How are things going? You done already?”“Not yet, I’m actually in the imaging center.”“What? Is everything okay?”“Yeah, she felt a lump and sent me down here.”“Hm. Well, are you sure you’re okay? I can go ahead and takelunch to come up there if you need me to. It’s just over the hill.”“No, I’ll be fine. I was just letting you know that I’ll be a littlelonger.”“Okay. Call me when you get done, and you’ll be fine. I’ve had onedone before. Just go somewhere else.”Another ten minutes passed. Upstairs I hadn’t waited for more thanfour or five minutes in any particular waiting room, but down here I wason the verge of pushing half an hour. A couple more women trickled in.“No, but I had an appointment at ten,” a young, country-accentedgirl from the check-in desk said.The other woman’s voice was simply a mumble. The young girlsnatched the clipboard and walked through the waiting room. I recognizedher, but couldn’t place her. After a minute and a half she marched backover to the check-in desk and threw the clipboard down at the woman. As
As she returned to her seat, it hit where I knew her from, my oldelementary school, St. Barnabas. She had also lived down the street fromme for a couple of years. Katie Lorino. When we were kids, she had sandyhair and a curvy figure. Kids called her a Topanga look-alike, from BoyMeets World. But ten years had definitely taken its toll on her. She haddark, rough hair dreded in the back, make-up smeared on her eyes behindhot-pink glasses, and, though she still had her curves, they were tired. Shelooked more like the horror pictures in tabloids of Britney Spears than thebright, bouncy girl from everyone’s favorite childhood show. She didn’tlook at anyone in the waiting room, and I ignored the fact that we hadgrown up together. She wasn’t the Katie that I knew.“Kathryn?” Finally, my name was called. “Kathryn Booth?”I had forgotten to sit close to the door, so I had to throw my handup to catch the woman’s attention. I walked across the room and followedthe nurse around the corner to a small office.“So, we’re just doing a mammogram today.” She clicked andscrolled through the files on her computer.“Right.” Then a sign on the back of her computer caught my eye.All co-pays must be paid in full before any examinations are done. Noexceptions. “Could you look up how much my co-pay is going to be beforewe go.”“Sure, you’re still under Blue Cross Blue Shield?”“Yes, ma’am.”“It’s going to be 1 and… 95.”Because upstairs my co-pay had only been ten dollars, I figured myinsurance covered this as well. I put two one dollar bills on the woman’sdesk.She looked up at me and laughed, “No, honey, I meant one hundredand ninety-five.”“Two hundred dollars? I don’t have that kind of money on me.”“Why don’t you call Daddy and borrow one of his credit cards?”she asked. I felt like she was mocking me.“We don’t have credit cards. And neither of my parents get paiduntil next week.”
She was stunned. “No credit cards?”“No. Is there any way you can bill me for it? I have great credit.”“Sorry, but no. The amount has to be paid in full before any workcan be done.”“Well, then no work will be done today.” I was about to startcrying, so I got up and left.I walked out into the hallway by the elevators and called Mom.“Hey, how was it?”I started crying. “I wouldn’t know because she wouldn’t let mehave it done.”“What do you mean she wouldn’t let you?”“The co-pay was two hundred dollars, and we don’t have that.”“But your doctor sent you down there. Every time that I’ve gottenone done, it’s been free, and we’re on the same insurance.”“Well, it wasn’t going to be free for me.”“Go back upstairs and talk to Dr. Pryzbysz. I’ll call the insurancepeople and see what’s up.”I washed up in the bathroom and headed back upstairs.“Name and birthdate?” greeted me.“No, I was here earlier. I need to speak with my nurse or doctorimmediately.”“Are you pregnant?”“No, I am not pregnant! I need to see Dr. Pryzbysz.”“One moment please.”My nurse opened the side door and motioned me in.“Downstairs they told me I couldn’t have the mammogram donewithout two hundred dollars, and I don’t have that kind of money on me.But, in the past, when y’all have sent my mom down there, she’s gottenhers for free.”“Why don’t we forget the mammogram today and set up anappointment for you to come back in a month. Then if it’s still there, you’llbe ready for the exam downstairs. Does that work?”“I guess it’ll have to.”
I walked back into the hallway outside the OBGYN’s office and called mymom back. “They said to just come back in a month to see if it’s stillthere.”“I guess that will have to work. I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”“I’m fine, just frustrated. What did Blue Cross say?”“Because I’m over forty, I can have them done for free. Butbecause you’re so young, it’s considered a medical condition.”“Perfect. A condition.”“Come on by the office and we’ll go to lunch.”I trekked through the screeching parking deck to my car and satthere for a minute, thinking. A lump? Dr. Pryzbysz said words like biopsyand surgeon and cancer.What if I have breast cancer? I put my hand under my shirt and braand felt the place that was still sore from being poked. It felt like a smallmarble rolling next to a stone wall. Had that ridge always been there? Howlong had I had this lump? These stupid breasts that I finally got aftermillions of years of praying and wishing were faulty? After all that longingfor womanly shape, will it be taken away?What if I have to go through chemo? Will all of my hair fall out?Will I be able to have children? I’ll never be able to feel pregnant. What ifthey cut out both of my breasts? I’ll never be able to breastfeed thechildren I may not be able to have. Will I be able to afford implants? Willhe leave me? Would he even be open for adopting? What if this ruins allmy dreams of moving to the coast? What if this kills me? What if I couldphysically fight cancer, but not financially? I was terrified.I called Andrew.“Is it noon already?”“They found a lump.”“What? What do you mean they found a lump?” he asked. Thatreally wasn’t the best way to tell him.“The doctor found a lump and sent me downstairs but my insurancewouldn’t cover the co-pay and I couldn’t afford it so she told me to justcome back next month to see if it’s still there and she said the word
cancer.”“Cancer?!”“Yes, and biopsy and surgeon.” I started to get upset again.“Are you okay? How much was the co-pay?”“Two hundred dollars.”“Go back inside. I’ll pay for it, or I’ll transfer the money to youraccount.”“You’ll pay for it?” I was shocked.“Well, yea. Go back inside.”“No, it would be a waste of money. She said it might be nothingand that in a month it might be gone. It would be cheaper to pay the tendollar co-pay again in a month and then go from there, rather than payingtwo hundred and there being a chance that it’s nothing. That’s just toomuch money.”“But if it buys you some peace of mind, it’s well worth it.”It was one of the sweetest things anyone had ever said to me. “No,honey. I appreciate it, but I’ll be okay. I can wait.”“You sure? I really don’t mind at all.”“I know and thanks. …Andrew, what if they cut them off?”“Boobs are overrated, babe. You’re lucky I’m an ass man.”We both laughed. He was trying to cheer me up.“Seriously though, Kace. Everything will be fine. If you changeyour mind before you leave town let me know. I don’t mind paying for it atall.”“It’s all right. I’m coming home.”Art by Bethany Russell
Nichole PeacockWylie RoseIt is what my mama would call a torrid day and it’s early yet.Torrid—now that’s an interesting word, sort of a cross between terribleand horrid, but that’s not what she means when she says, “What a torridday!” She means it’s “hotter than Hades.” That is her polite way ofreferring to the place where “the sun don’t shine.” I’ll just say it—hell.That brings to mind where I’m headed this morning. I’m going into townto see and hear Wylie Rose and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear he wasthe devil himself.There will be a crowd in town today. There always is onSaturdays. I love the sight of it all, lots of folk, barefoot children, wagons,horses and mules and some cars. Most of the people will be stopping byDaddy’s store. He has all kinds of things they need, feed and seed,groceries, hardware, and dry goods. After they shop, the grown-ups willcrowd the walkway in front of the store. The benches along the walkwayswill be overflowing. The men and women will be chewing and spitting,rolling and smoking their new tobacco and they’ll all be awaiting WylieRose.Wylie Rose is a strange name for such a man. Wylie sounds like heought to be a singing cowboy or something, and Rose, he is anything but arose. Stand within twenty feet of him and you’ll know exactly what Imean. Let’s just say he is the foulest smelling rose I’ve ever sniffed. He isa very large man, coal black, with greasy hair on his head and face. Healways wears a big soldier-type coat, even on a hot-as-Hades day liketoday. His eyes are big and so lined with red, you don’t even see thewhites. They are just red and black and cocked and crossed up, at that.His voice is deep and booming and he stands in the middle of the street,rotating as he speaks and punctuating every “hellfire and brimstone”sentence with a CRACK of his bullwhip. He is the scariest thing I’ve
ever seen in person, all ugly, mean and loud, and when he cracks that whipin my direction, I want to run away and never come back. All the while,I’m just like the other folks. I can’t stand not to look at him, the rhythmand boom in his voice, his wild eyes, the way he turns round and sees all,his strap dancing around his woolly head and reaching into the captivatedcrowd. If he were the devil, he could march us all into hell on any torridAlabama Saturday.Wylie Rose is not the devil. I know that now. Furthermore, I amconvinced it is as he has always claimed, that he works for the other side.It is confusing though, for a young girl. His sermons, if you can call themthat, are not at all like Reverend Mitchell’s. His Jesus is not like the onein the picture that hangs in my Sunday school room. Neither is he likeOle’ Moses Milton, the colored preacher down at Dayton, who wears agleaming white tunic and parades his followers about singing pretty songsand clapping hands, amens and hallelujahs. It seems to me that PreacherRose talks more about dying than living, more about souls than hearts, andmuch more about hell than heaven, but then God is mysterious, isn’t He.I’m no expert about religion, but I’ve noticed that people experience God,worship God in all kinds of different ways. And without a doubt, WylieRose in all his wild style reaches into the hearts of people and his strangeprayers reach God. Now, I don’t mean to curse here. I mean what I’mabout to say quite literally. Perhaps, Wylie Rose means to scare the hellright out of his Saturday morning congregation. I don’t know, but as forme, I have my own story about Wylie Rose.A few months ago, Mama asked me if I would like to go toBirdeye’s house with her. It was a silly question, really. I love to goanywhere and Birdeye’s place certainly has its appeal. It was mid March,that time of year when the weather is just right, not chilly and not torrid.Mama was hoping to get some gardening advice from Birdeye, and I justwelcomed the opportunity to explore that unique corner of the worldwhere Birdeye practices her craft. Birdeye’s house is not far, but whenyou get there you feel like you’re miles away from where you came.Birdeye—that’s the only name for her I know—has some strange pets, a
acoon, a deer, lots of rabbits and a crow that can talk. I kid you not, a birdthat can talk and a plain ole crow at that. But if you think that making acrow talk is amazing, you should see what she can do with a plant. She hasthings growing around her house that are unlike anything else around here.She has big exotic-looking flowers growing tall and perfect right out of castoffrubber tires. She says anything will grow if you plant it inside a tire. Shehas olive trees, a mulberry tree and a pomegranate bush. She has a hollybush, or tree rather, that is big as a hundred-year-old live oak. Mama saysthat Birdeye could thrust a broomstick in the ground and it’d take root bynext week.Anyway, on this particular early spring morn, Birdeye’s corner ofearth was decked out in her exquisite lavender garb. Wisteria climbed wildlyover the trees that were just poking out their new leaves and the fragrancewafted through the air. Birdeye’s house is about a fifteen minute walk froman oxbow lake and I always have to make my way close to the water. Cypresstrees grow in these still backwaters and they look like sculptures rising fromthe dark, slick, glassy surface. It’s always quiet there, a good thinking place.On that particular day, I was thinking about Mama’s visit toBirdeye’s. She always visited Birdeye this same time every year. Shewanted to know when to plant this, how deep to plant that.“Daddy has a college degree in Agriculture; why don’t you ask himabout your planting?” I asked.She said, “Your father knows a great deal about genetics, animalnutrition and every soil type in Alabama, but as far as practical plantingadvice is concerned, no one knows more than Birdeye. Some folk thinkshe is a witch, you know. I think she’s just unusually tuned into herenvironment—keenly aware and observant about nature, a sixth sense orsomething.”I thought to myself—I think Birdeye talks to God. She worshipsGod by taking care of all His living things. I can imagine what she says toGod. “Thank you, Laud, for this beautiful earth. I’m doing my best tohelp things along down here, but I need some inside info’mation. Youthink you could let me know when the last freeze’ll be and can we ‘spect
drought or rain this summers.”I think He answers her too. Maybe He tells the frogs and thebumblebees and they tell that ole crow and he passes the word along to her.Maybe that’s why that crow can talk; so he can be God’s messenger. Soundslike a noble occupation for a crow.That’s it. I was thinking about that ole crow when I noticed aslight motion to the water. I searched beyond the cypresses for anythingthat might have caused this subtle current. Then I saw it—a formapproaching, a canoe maybe. Then I heard it—him. I recognized thatvoice—the richness. He was singing. I’d never heard him sing before, butI knew the voice. “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,” he sang. Ilowered myself to the ground, hoping he hadn’t seen me. On all fours, Icrawled toward a hiding place. I put my hand on something and it feltstrange, and then, I felt a horrible pain in my arm. The worst pain I hadever felt. It hurt so bad, I knew nothing else. I don’t recall what happenednext.The next thing I do recall is opening my eyes and seeing his red andblack ones looking down at me. I had never been so close to those eyes, thatwooly beard and surprisingly, a mouth full of strong white teeth. I wasscared. Up that close, eyes wide and wild, teeth bared, he looked like abeast—a beast about to devour me, and then in an instant, he changed. Icould feel his heart beat and his breathing was heavy. His faced changed themoment he noticed that I was waking up. His eyes seemed to settle back inhis head, soft and relieved. I believe there was almost a smile under thatmass of wiry gray beard. He turned his face upward and spoke, “’De angelwakes, hallalujah!”Angel, I thought. Have I died? Am I in heaven? We were moving. Ibecame aware of that and aware of the pain. My arm really hurt; I couldn’tmove it, neither could I lift my head to see what was going on, but we weredefinitely moving. He was carrying me.“You’s been bit by a water moccasin, but the little angel’s gon bealright. Wylie Rose gon fix you up. Yes suh, me and God gon git you allfixed up.” .” I wanted to ask him where we were going, but I couldn’t make
the words come out. Then I heard him call loudly for Birdeye. The soundreverberated from his chest and I could feel the vibration against my ear. Hecalled again.Then I heard Birdeye’s voice in the distance. “Oh my Laud,” shesaid. I could hear Mamma even further away. I couldn’t make out whatshe was saying, but I could hear the panic in her voice.Once again, the voice boomed from his chest. “De Angel’s beenbit by a water moccasin!”I heard Mama saying, “We have to get her to the doctor! DocPegram will know what to do.” She was a wreck; I could tell that.“No!” Birdeye snapped at her. “There’s no time. Time is thethang with a snake bite.”“What are you doing with that needle!” Mama yelled at her.“It’s a shot. It’ll make the poison go away.”“You are not giving my child a shot! I’m taking her to DocPegram’s!”“If I don’t give her a shot, she will die, before you make it to DocPegram’s.Mama didn’t reply to that and the next thing I knew, Birdeye wasrolling me over and jabbing me in the behind with that needle. It didn’thurt. Nothing hurt compared to my arm. Mama was quiet. Birdeyescared her. I knew that. I wanted to tell her that I was going to be alright.Somehow, I knew I would be. Everything was quiet in the room now, but Icould hear Wylie Rose outside. The window near me was open and Icould hear the loud voice coming from there.“Laud save de angel!”“CRACK,” I knew the sound of his strap. She’s been smitten by awicked serpent! CRACK! Laud, save de angel! CRACK! She’s de chile’of de Almighty! CRACK! She’s de Angel of God! CRACK! Ain’t nodevil gon take her away! CRACK!Mama spoke. I could tell she was nearby. “What is that crazy mandoing, hollerin’ like a lunatic and whippin’ that tree like he’s mad at theworld.
“Never you mind dat,” said Birdeye. “Dat’s jes’ Wylie Roseprayin’ to God is all. Prayin’ for yo baby. Be glad for dat.”Mama was quiet again. Birdeye sure had a way of shutting her up,but she was close—so close I could hear her breathe and I could smell her.I love you, Mama. Can you hear me? I’m going to be okay.A week later I was starting to feel like my old self again. My armdid look pretty nasty though. It had turned all black and some of the skinand meat around the wound was just rotting away. It hurt too, but DocPegram said I was going to be just fine. I sure was lucky, he said. Birdeyedid just right by you. Mama was okay too. She asked me if I felt likevisiting Birdeye with her. She said she had something for her and neededto thank her for all she did. I said I needed to thank her too and WylieRose, if he was around.When we got to Birdeye’s, she was out working in the yard. Whenshe saw us she said, “Laud, hab mercy. You’s looking’ mighty fine, littleangel.”“I’m feelin’ pretty good,” I replied, “thanks to you. Doc Pegramsaid you saved my life.”“Well, Wylie Rose done his part. He brung you here, jes’ in time.”“And his prayers,” my mother added. “I’ve been thinking aboutthose prayers of his. If God can hear my whispers and I know he can, hecan most certainly hear Wylie Rose’s yelling and cracking.”“I guess he do,” replied Birdeye, and she winked her funny wink atme.“I owe you both an apology and I am here bearing gifts of gratitudeand appreciation. She presented two packages wrapped primitively inbrown paper. “A package for you and one for Wylie Rose if you couldpass it along. T-Bone steaks— I can’t grow vegetables like you, but myhusband grows the finest beef in the county.”“Beef is a treat I don’t often get. Much obliged.”Mama and I didn’t stay long and we didn’t see Wylie Rose that day,but the following Saturday he stopped by the store to see us and tell us that
was the finest meat he’d ever eaten.Daddy extended his hand and replied, “I’m glad you enjoyed it.I’ll send some more over, for Birdeye too. The way I figure, my littlegirl’s worth at least half a side of beef.”Mr. Rose glanced at me and smiled, teeth white and eyes soft:“Why, I reckon she is!”Art by Anton Jackson
Hall CopelandMy Master’s Journey“Clink, Clink, BAM! Clink, clink, BAM! Clink, clink. . . . Sizzzz.”“Louis, are you almost done over there? You have been working onthat one sword all day and night. You know we have to get it to Sir Charlesbefore breakfast. He leaves for the Pope’s Crusade this morning!”“I know! I’ve just put it in the tub. Give it a few minutes to cool.”A few minutes later, Louis, the best blacksmith in southern France,took me out. He lifted me up and smiled. He was missing more than a fewteeth, and reeked of musty body odor and sweat. His tangled black hairlooked like he had not taken a bath in a few months and dark circles clungunder his eyes. Maybe he needs to jump in the tub, I thought.“Perfect,” he said as a few drops of hot sweat dripped onto me. Icaught a glimpse of the shop. It was small. A dark one room stone hut witha small opening for a chimney, a wooden table on which sat black anvil,hammer, and a pair of tongs. A large glowing coal pit sat next to the rustspotted tub from where he’d just come. Louis then took me and wrappedme in a rough red woolen cloth. He was just about to turn to run towardthe castle, when he was stopped by a voice at the door.“Louis. How are you this morning? I trust my sword is ready.” Thiswas the voice of Sir Charles, my master. He was a man of average heightbut muscular with dark green eyes shoulder length brown hair, no beard,and better teeth as evidenced by his broad friendly smile.“I am well. Yes, Sire, here is the sword you requested, a onehandedbroadsword with a cross guard and a leather grip. It is perfectlybalanced, and if I may say so, the best work I have ever created.”Sir Charles lifted me up, inspected me, and swung me a few times.“This is a fantastic sword! It will be a valuable asset in fighting the infidelsin the Holy Land. Edward, I think you may have outdone yourself on thisone. Thank you, and I wish you all the best while I am away.”
“And you as well, Sir Charles. Stay safe.”Sir Charles waved goodbye and turned toward the exit. As he didso he stuck me under his belt, his shiny iron mail armor rustled as hewalked up to his brown horse and mounted it. He took a deep breath as hestole one final glance his castle. Noting the rising sun, he spurred his horsesoutheast toward Italy, and the Holy Land—a journey that would takemany months and test both my master’s endurance and mine.My master and I rode all through that day and into the night tocatch up to the main battle group of knights a week ahead. Only when themoon was directly above our heads did we stop for rest that first night. Wetraveled like this for almost a week with no sign of anyone. Eventually SirCharles fell into a routine. When the sun crept over the horizon, Charlescracked his eyes open. He crawled to the edge of his gray woolen blanketevery morning, took me in his hands, stuck me into the ground, and raisedhimself onto his knees with a sleepy yawn. After this he bowed his headand prayed to God for courage, strength, and wisdom in everything hedoes, asking the Lord that he may help touch another person’s life today,and finally thanked Him for another day on this earth. Then he rose,stretched, and cooked breakfast. It usually was a salted pheasant, or boaror some other type of game he managed to kill the night before. While themeal cooked, he practiced his swordplay, carefully watching his footing.He then sat down to eat, cutting his meal up into manageable portions withhis small knife and drank fresh spring water from his tanned sheep’sbladder flask. After breakfast Charles mounted his horse, rode throughoutthe morning, stopped for a quick lunch, and continued until just beforenightfall to start a fire and make camp.We continued this way for many days, until we reached the borderto Italy. White snow-capped mountains showed their craggy faces throughthe forest ahead. Here, Sir Charles decided to stop for the night—a wisemove considering the dark sky. A snowstorm was approaching. Thisparticular evening I remember quite well because it was my first true test.All was quiet except for the crackling of the burnt twigs in the fireand the occasional gust of cold wind. My master lay beneath his blanket,
snoring loudly, when suddenly a loud roar shook the frozen forest floorand echoed across the mountains. Sir Charles woke with a start, andgrabbed me in a firm grip. The horse started whinnying nervously, sensingdanger, and my master frantically pulled on his reins. Charles silentlycrawled over to his iron shield embroidered with a red cross and armedhimself. He slept in his chain mail armor and his dirty blue tunic therefore;he did not need to put them on. He was ready to fight.Sir Charles jumped to his feet and peered out into the darkness.There was no moon out that night because of the approaching storm. Hecould not see much except that which the firelight revealed—only trees withtheir branches contorted eerily toward heaven. Another ear splitting roarpierced the black night. My master hurriedly stomped out the fire with hisbrown leather boots so to not give away our position. He turned back just intime to see a jet of red flame ignite a young sapling. He muttered under hisbreath a quick prayer to God for protection and courage. Then Sir Charlessprinted headlong into the shadows toward the flame in the night. His ironmail shook rhythmically with each step he took closer to the flaming tree.Finally, he reached it, seeing the once green leaves curl inward upon them asthey fell toward the ground in little chunks of gray ash. The tree was charredblack and leaned away from the flame in one last ditch effort to save it fromdying a painful death. Sir Charles offered a prayer to God that he might notend up the same way as the tree, and turned to see a huge four-legged creaturecloaked in shadow run away from him toward an ancient castle.“How could I have missed that? I am sleeping less than a mileaway and I hear no signs of life from a great castle? Surely, I could havespent the night there on a soft bed instead of the cold ground all alone,” hesaid, as his breath emitted a moist fog because of the chilled air.My master then raced toward the sound of crashing trees andsnapping branches ever closer toward the castle.“I wish I had thought to bring my horse,” he said to himself as hotsweat splattered onto me.Just then, my master entered a clearing upon which lay, the stonecastle on a hill overlooking the forest, behind which the mountain pass
into Italy. He stared at the castle and its curiously unhinged thick oakdouble doors, and the melted Iron Gate, knowing that whatever lay insidewas not a friendly beast. He tiptoed forward until he reached a long drawbridge,which crossed a large moat filled with rotten swampy water. Hetook a deep breath. He could hear a river rushing nearby which must feedthis moat around the castle, and he could smell foul sewage, charred woodand something else—death. Something he did not wish to think about ashe crept along the planks of the bridge. His boots echoed hollowly into thenight, and he grasped me in a strong grip and held his shield out to protecthis upper body. Once he crossed the bridge, he shoved open the right oakdoor, upon which was depicted a great king and his men winning a fiercebattle against a dragon.The winds gathered strength and snowflakes begin to fall.“Great, I’m all alone. Where is my army? It’s just me . . . it ishopeless,” he said, as his grip on me slackened.The mighty beast roared from within as an orange flame issuedfrom around the corner lit the area both inside the fortress and at mymaster’s feet. Charred bodies littered the area. Both men and horses, somein full armor lay scattered, only their skeletons remaining. Their shieldswere melted from the great heat, and their swords broken into pieces. Agolden crown lay mere feet inside the door studded with emeralds, andsapphires. The lord of the castle was just in front of the crown. He wasclinging to the left oak door. His crown it seemed was thrown from hishead by his own hand as judged by his outstretched black hand.“I will not be like him! That coward, he is the lord of the manor—he is to protect his people, not run away from them,” said my master,barely able to control his rage.Yes let’s go! I said to myself.Sir Charles kicked open the door, making it crash to the ground,sending splinters flying as he did so, and letting out a thunderous roarcharged in toward the dragon. It was a monstrous beast, thirty feet highand sixty feet long with thick olive green scales and bright red eyes thatseemed to radiate with an inner glow. Its fangs were long, seven inches,
and were tinted slightly gray from the smoke from its mouth. A huge jet offire shot forward toward my master. He raised his shield in an effort toprotect himself as he walked ever closer to the creature, toward his owndoom. The shield hissed as it burned beyond its ability to withstand andbegan to melt, dripping to the ashy stone floor in small orange chunks. Wewere only a few feet away now as the air around us shimmered with theheat from the monster. Sir Charles let out a loud cry that reverberatedacross the castle walls into the night as he swung me with all his might atthe dragon. I braced for the impact, knowing that this was going to hurt. Itwas I, a simple knight’s sword, against a very magical creature.“Clank!” I bounced off! The beast’s skin was much harder than mymaster had anticipated. For he could not just swipe at the creature, he hadto stab it. Not to say I blamed him, because this was his first run in with adragon, but he had to kill this creature and I wanted to help him do it. Hetossed his scorched shield aside and took me in both hands and pointed medownward much like he did when he said his morning prayers, and thrustme deep into the heart of the monster as it was taking another breath tomelt both me and my master’s armor like the knights which scattered thearea around us.This time a grating sound issued forth like a sword beingsharpened by a blacksmith as I pierced the flesh of the unholy beast. Warmblack blood surrounded me as I hit the heart of the beast, killing itinstantly. A strangled cry broke the night from the dragon, as it crashed tothe ground. Sir Charles victoriously lifted me out of the monster’s corpse,and wiped me clean on his blue tunic. He took one last look at the slainmonster, turned to me, and smiled to himself, stating, “You are a finesword. I shall keep you with me all the days of my life.”On his way out, he scooped up the discarded golden crown in hisfree hand and looped it through his belt. He had earned this treasure forhimself. There were other riches in the castle, but my noble master wantedonly this one piece, not the entire hoard. As he crossed the threshold out ofthe castle the winds picked up and the snow began to fall in large clumps.The powder beneath his feet ground crunched audibly and blanketed the
area in white. He walked back to camp alone, except for me, his trustysword. He gathered up his blanket and gear, put it upon his horse and setoff toward the mountain pass as the snowstorm worsened to a whiteoutobscuring all view around him. He prayed to God that he would notbecome lost as he pushed the incident with the dragon into memory, as thecastle fading into the snow swept night.Now, thirty years, and many trials later, I am still at my master’sside. We never were able to find the mountain pass and spent days alonetrekking across that barren landscape but we survived and made it to Italyand eventually the Holy Land. There we fought the infidels and I neverfailed. Charles is thinner now. He is old and wrinkled, hair greying, but henow wears the golden crown atop his head with its emeralds and sapphirestaken from the dragon’s castle. Along with the title of Lord Charles givento him by the king, he now has a lifetime of memories filled withcourageous acts, wisdom, and just actions in ruling his feudal manor andhis people. They love him, as I love my master—with overwhelmingcompassion and we gladly call him our ruler.
Jacob BaileyFeeling DarknessArt was lost and he knew it.He had decided to go driving after work, had wanted to get awayfor a little while, at least. He wasn’t exactly sure what he was getting awayfrom; maybe someone, maybe just life in general, but he needed to go.And now he was lost.The warm summer air felt nice. He probably should have gone fora walk instead. No, that wouldn’t have taken him far enough away.The headlights of the other cars flew past and the light glared onhis bug-splattered windshield. He had always enjoyed driving at night.Something about watching the lights zoom down the highway made himfeel happy. They reminded him somehow of stars shooting across the opensky. He imagined himself lying on his back in a meadow; he stared up atthe stars streaking through the midnight, on their way to bigger and betterthings. So unlike him. It was spring in the meadow, his favorite season,and even in the darkness he could see the flowers beginning to bloom.Night-blanketed yellows and moon-lit reds filled the meadow andreflected in the sky. He could feel the grass, wet with dew, through hisshirt. He could smell the grass too. The freshness of it flowing through hisnostrils always reminded him of horses. The night breeze was cool andcomforting, and it caressed him like the embrace of a lover he never had.But, like the woman he desired, his meadow did not exist. Maybe it did—somewhere—maybe she did. He had never seen either.Another pair of stars raced across his imagined skyline.Maybe I can make a wish. Or were they just more headlights? Ican’t make a wish on headlights.Art wanted to wish for understanding—or maybe for somereassurance. Or company. He felt like the only person in the wide worldthat held any kind of morals anymore. It was a terrible feeling—being so
alone; alone in his morals, alone in his thoughts. Alone and lost, and now hereally was lost. Worst of all, he knew that even after he found his way back tothat detached, lonely place he had once called home he would still be lost tohimself.When he was younger he had actually enjoyed that feeling, being lostthat is. It was so much like floating down a river, completely in the current’scontrol, and he loved the utter absence of responsibility. He had driftedthrough the land, went wherever it willed him. Now he realized how wastefulhe had been. So many opportunities had drifted by just out of reach. Awhole life ahead of him and he chose to follow where it led him, not take itwhere he wanted. He had traveled once – really traveled – had just packed up asuitcase and gotten on a random bus. He roamed for nearly a year, sleepingwhere he could, eating what he could find, and pissing anywhere he thoughtfit. It was such a free experience. Not money free, but freeing for his mind.There were no ties between him and anything else for that blissful year. Hecould go wherever and whenever he wanted to; but not anymore. He was tooscared now—too old— to try it again. Too busy obeying the current andmaking excuses.Another set of lights streaked past and brought Art out of hisreverie. Panic struck him like a brick to the chest as he realized what washappening. There was a car in his lane facing him and rushing towards hisvehicle, a car in the left lane boxing him in, and a wall to his right. He wastrapped and was going to crash. There was no way to avoid it. The worldaround outside wasn’t still, it could never be still, but he and his car weregoing much faster, too fast. He wished he had gone walking.A car’s horn shouted its battle cry and it pierced his ears like ashining blade. Brakes smashed to the floor and Art heard tires screech theirretreat as they slid across the pavement. His horn cried out its own ancientroar like a woad-covered warrior preparing to strike. He swerved to hisright as close to the wall as he could, they swerved to their left in front ofhim again. He corrected, they corrected; they were face to face travelingever-closer.Then they crashed: his car into theirs, their car into his. Both carsinto the wall.
He could feel the sound engulf him, swallow him whole. Thecrushing sound of metal on metal, tires squealing like pigs at the slaughter,and sobbing. Art was crying, but he wasn’t really crying. He wanted to cry;he wanted to worry that this wreck was going to kill him. He knew Deathwas there to claim his life, but it didn’t bother him. He could see ithanging upside down in the air, stretching out its midnight wings coveredin blood-red veins.Blood… Ironic. He thought, but he didn’t care. The sound was allhe cared about now; and getting it to stop.His head ceased spinning (or maybe it was his body) and this timethe world did stand still. The vehicular armies had resigned themselves todefeat and lay in crushed heaps on the asphalt.The world stopped moving. No. The car stopped moving, the worldcan’t stop.There was no sound anymore, anywhere. Quiet. Hush. Nothing.Children turned off their television sets, dinner knives and forks no longerclinked against plates, chatty women cut off their incessant surge boundfor the ears of silent men. The swallowing noise from the wreck no longerbattered Art’s ears, but the silence – the silence digested him alive. Itweighed so heavy on him. Crashing had broken Art’s bones but the quietwas breaking his spirit. It was silence that could drive a man insane. It wasdeath-silence.His eyes flickered past the dashboard and a familiar green lightstared back at him. His clocked still worked. It read 3:00 exactly.Funny how I notice that at a time like this. So strange.He remembered something from somewhere. What was it?Three A.M.: the body’s low tide. ‘The soul is out. The blood movesslow. You’re the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying…’ Who saidthat?Was it true that more people die in hospitals at three A.M. than anyother time? He had read that somewhere – or read about someone readingit. Art couldn’t remember, his mind was too fuzzy. Fuzzy, that’s reallywhat it feels like. He laughed. Laughing hurt; he wouldn’t laugh anymore.Bradbury, it was Ray Bradbury. Ray… Bradbury wrote that.
A faraway, sharp noise broke the silence. It wasn’t really broken,just overpowered. The silence was still there, a murderer waiting in theshadows. In the distance he could hear a ghost wailing her cries of terror,jolting shivers down the spines of anyone and of everyone. Or was it just asiren? He didn’t know, but it was coming closer. And it had defeated thesilence. Fear snaked its way into Art for the first time during that night. Ifsilence was hiding, Art knew that he should be too. The ghost was stillcoming towards him, coming after him. He needed to run. He couldn’t run.It was wailing nonstop, filling the air to the brim with liquid noise.Choking him and filling his lungs with vaporous sound waves. No, it wascoming to take him to the hospital. He wouldn’t be there at three A.M., hewas safe. Three was past, he would be safe. He didn’t feel safe; a ghostwas coming. He could still hear it screaming. Art liked the silence better,the nighttime graveyard silence.Two stars glittered and danced in front of his eyes. Art could feelthem calling to him. Beautiful, I love stars, he thought. Headlights? No…they’re stars. They’re my stars.All around him everything began to fade out. Blackness crept tothe edge of his vision and slowly surrounded him. He could feel it windingits way, flicking a serpent’s tongue in and out, in and out. Feelingdarkness… Now there’s something. It prickled his skin and his hair stoodon end. The darkness squeezed him in a tight grip, forcing the air out ofhis lungs, but he could still breathe. He shivered in the cold. Wait, it’s notcold outside. Summer can’t be cold. It’s cold in here. Art exhaled a breathand watched it freeze in front of him. The darkness is cold. That’s why I’mfreezing; I can feel the darkness. I’ll bet I’m the only one in the world whocan.Art blinked his eyes and when he opened them again everythingwas death-blackness. He tilted his head, trying to hear something.Everything was death-silence.Outside, Art could feel the world being drenched in that silentblack.Everything except the two stars still straight ahead.And that damned ghost.
Harper LeeNelle Harper Lee Class of 1948The Prelude over many years has been a means of showing thecreative work of Huntingdon College students and faculty, reflecting newideas, and original stories. Years and years of The Prelude can be foundsafely preserved in the Houghton Memorial Library’s archive. One particularlynotable author who published work in The Prelude is the famed NelleHarper Lee. Her 1962 novel To Kill a Mockingbird won her a PulitzerPrize, and went on to be made into a movie, as well as required reading inAmerican literature. Lee’s upbringing in Monroeville in the 1930’s and herfriendship with Truman Capote inspired this particular story of racialinjustice and the hardships of growing up in the south. Her published workin the Prelude includes, “Nightmare” and “A Wink At Justice”; bothsubmissions hint at her novel to come. Although Harper Lee only attendedHuntingdon College for a short amount of time before heading to theUniversity of Alabama to study law, she left a special mark. We are proudto say she was published in The Prelude, and once more present hersubmissions as a way of remembering and honoring Nelle Harper Lee.- Kimberly Cauthen
A Wink at Justice . . .The tiny courtroom reeked of tobacco smoke, cheap hair oil, andperspiration. Farmers and their wives sat stiffly upon hard benches,uncomfortable in their Sunday best. Sometimes a baby would raise a howlof protest. A little boy said, “Ma, who’re those men?” He pointed aderisive finger at the jury. That august body sat to the left of the judge’sbench in swivel chairs which creaked at each movement. Cuspidors werestrategically placed at the side of each seat. The witness stand was simplya chair nailed to a wooden dais. This was Judge Hank’s court.I sat behind a large man who sniffed constantly and who consulteda thick, smooth watch every few moments. A door opened behind thebench and a man came out. He gazed thoughtfully at the audience risingto its feet, and in a stentorian voice said, “All right, go on and sit down!”Court had begun.Judge Hanks was not impressive on the bench. I saw a squat littleman with his collar open at the neck and with his tie askew. His vest wasunbuttoned and his shirt was alarmingly wrinkled. He carried a pocketknife which he twirled constantly, sometimes thumping it up and catchingit. Fine lines ran down from his nostrils to the corners of his mouth. Inoticed that they deepened when he smiled. A pair of rimless glassesperched precariously on his short nose.The judge nodded to a melancholy man standing in the door. The mandisappeared, and a moment later he came out leading eight negroes.“All right, what’s the charge?” said the Judge.“Gamblin’ behind the warehouse on the East Side, yuh ‘oner,” saidthe melancholy man.The Judge sat still, twirling his knife. At last getting up, he said,“Line up over ‘gainst the wall, boys.” The men shuffled across the roomand stood in a line. Judge Hanks stepped down from the bench andwalked over to them, his knife performing gymnastics in his fingers.“Hold out your hands, palms up.”
He went down the line inspecting each outstretched hand. To three of themen he said, “You c’n go. Git out of here!” To the other five he barked,“Sixty days. Dismissed!”The audience did not stir at this seemingly casual administration ofjustice, but it left me with the feeling that Judge Hanks should beimmediately retired.The session continued with a few minor felonies. No startlingjudgments were passed, and Judge Hanks dismissed court at noon. I wasstill puzzled over his treatment of the first case, and as I was walkingdown the Court House steps I saw him standing on the sidewalk. I wentover to him and asked, “Judge, will you tell me why you let three of thosenegroes go free but sentenced the others?”He pulled out the inevitable knife, thumped it once, and answeredme. “Well, I looked at their hands. The ones who had corns on ‘em I letgo, because they work in the fields and probably have a pack of children tosupport. It was the ones with soft, smooth hands I was after. They’re theones who gamble professionally, and we don’t need that sort of thingaround here. Satisfied?”“Satisfied,” I nodded.—As published in the 1945, spring edition of the Prelude
Nightmare . . .The teacher’s voice droned on and on. The girl stared out of thewindow at the people emerging from the Tea Room. “...you ever dreamedof the things you have seen, and in those dreams they are presented in adistorted manner?” she heard the teacher ask. The girl sat erect and lookedat the teacher, whom she failed to see. The classroom loomed up at her.Suddenly it began to sway, around, around, back...back...back...A child crouched in the red dust peering through a broken board ina fence, her body stiff and shivering although it was August. She heardsomeone on the other side of the fence break into a low wail. Then cameanother sound which she would hear in her dreams the rest of herlife...Karrumph...Karangarang! The child ran screaming and sobbing untilshe reached her bedroom. She jumped into her bed and covered her headwith her pillow, shivering.“...didn’t take him long...neck was pretty short...best hangin’ I’veseen in twenty years...now maybe they’ll learn to behave themselves”someone said as he passed under her window.—As published in the 1945, spring edition of the Prelude
Contributors NotesKim Cauthen is a graduating senior English major who enjoys singingand playing the violin.Nichole Peacock is a freshman English major from Pike Road,Alabama.Will Francis is a freshman from Dothan, Alabama, and he will doanything necessary to ban Crocs.Chanley Rainey is a senior political science and English double majorfrom Monroeville, Alabama.Deirdre Hall is a junior English major and psychology minor fromSnowdoun, Alabama, and is a member of the dance team andAlpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.KC Booth is a graduating senior and does not have breast cancer.Hall Copeland is a junior history major and a member of the men’sinaugural cross country team. His favorite author is Clive Cussler.Jacob Bailey is an English major, is on the soccer team, and is fromOpelika, Alabama.Rebekah Correia is a sophomore and a recently-declared Biology majorfrom Deatsville, Alabama.Bethany Russell is a freshman psychology major with a religion minorfrom Hope Hull, AlabamaAnton Jackson is a junior art major with a concentration in digital art,who is interested in writing and directing film.
2007-2008 Prelude PrizesJudge: Mark Childress.Mark Childress, an Alabama native, is the author of Crazy inAlabama and One Mississippi, among other works of fiction. About theBest in Show entry, he said, “I finally settled on the Walters because itseems the most completely realized story.”Prose:First place and Best in Show: Charles U. Walters, “Eminent Domain”Second place: Maegan McCollum, “Broken Daffodils”Third place: Bart Sterns, “Just Dead”Honorable mention: Jessica Cole, “Heat Lightning”Poetry:First Place: Mary Katherine Pappas, “Jashoda”Second Place: Jessica Cole, “Wish List”Third Place: Joseph Sewell, “The Man in the Yellow Hat”Honorable mention: Kim Woodfin, “The Windows”