Thursday, July 17, 2014


My collection of short stories is now printed

It has taken a while but my collection of short stories is now available for purchase on "Short Stories from the Ash Grove" includes 16 short stories based on the people, places and events of my childhood in Ash Grove, Mo.

Here is one small example from the book and my story, "An Auction with Grandpa."

One hundred fifty dollar bid, now one sixty, now one sixty, who will give me one sixty. No one? Then one fifty going once, goin' twice. Sold! What's your number," barked the auctioneer.
"Forty-six," said the voice from the rear of the crowd.
"Got yourself that lawnmower," said the auctioneer.
The auctioneer circulated among hundreds of items sitting on a series of tables spread out on the dying bluegrass in the front yard of the white farmhouse. His cowboy hat was perched on top of his head, tilted slightly, and his red and white-checkered shirt was untucked in the back. His belly caused the shirt to overlap his belt in front. His worn, weathered and scratched boots carried with them the strong scent of cow manure.
The booming voice of the auctioneer could easily be heard across the yard. For an average to small-sized person, such a big voice would seem out of place. But, for this auctioneer, the voice seemed a perfect fit: a big voice for a big man, nearly six-foot tall and almost as wide. From this vantage point I can easily make out the rough texture of his weathered facial skin and his large, hooked nose, scarred from sunburns. Too many auctions under the powerful afternoon rays of the Ozark's sun have taken a toll. The same scarring can be seen on the lobes of his large ears and on his sturdy, doubled neck.
"One fifty for that mower is a good buy," said my grandpa as we moved among the items for sale. Grandpa is a young 82 years old. Although some people say he is an antique, to me he is just grandpa. He has been farming since he was old enough to help his father and brothers but the years of hard work are beginning to take their toll. "When your my age your either tryin' to remember someone's name or lookin' for a place to go to the bathroom," he often jokes.
Since cattle prices have fallen the past few years, and the price of things necessary to run a farm have gone up, these farm auctions have become common. We followed the crowd along while the auctioneer continued his unmistakable chant in the background. I enjoy standing and listening as the unmistakable auctioneer’s chant leaps from mouth of the auctioneer and lures me in to spending money with its sing-songy rhythm.
"Who'll give me a hundred dollars? One hundred dollar bid, now two, now two, will ya give me two? Two hundred dollar bid, now three, now three hundred, will ya give me three? Two hundred, two and a half, two-fifty, How about two-fifty? Fifty? Fifty? Fifty? I got it! How about two sixty? Sixty? Sixty? I've got two sixty, now seventy? How about seventy? Two-seventy? Anyone? Going one, going twice. Sold! Two-hundred sixty for the antique and attachment. Happy mowing! What’s your number?
Fifty-five said a man standing behind us. Then the auctioneer held up a box. "Folks, we've got everything in this box here, even a couple of pans for making cornbread sticks. Don’t make ‘em like this anymore! Now who’ll five me ten dollars?”
I leaned over to my right and asked my grandpa, "How was that cornbread you fixed two weeks ago?" I couldn’t hide my sheepish grin.
"What! Who told you?" said my grandpa just loud enough that I could hear him over the auctioneer’s booming voice.
"Grandma told me about the green cornbread you made the other night."
"Well, I wanted a little cornbread and milk. It was fine, nothing wrong with it."
"Grandpa! It was green because you used baking soda in it. It had to taste bad. Maybe as bad as that raisin sauce you made last summer. Remember when you had that five gallon crock full of raisin sauce in the refrigerator and it set up like cement?"
"I didn't realize raisins swelled up. I've made some since that were fine," grandpa said defensively. Grandpa isn't known for his cooking skills but his eating abilities are legendary.

"Sold! How about these antique dishes? Now what do I hear on this small collection of salt and pepper shakers? Who'll give fifty dollars? A fifty dollar bid, yep, now sixty, now sixty, will ya give me sixty?  The auctioneer needed to turn his speaker volume down; the distortion was making me crazy.

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