Issue #7

(March/April 1995)

A Father's Words - #7 Cover

cover drawing by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe -- from"A Father's Words"

Table of Contents

full or partial text is availablefor highlighted items

Stories

Poetry

Illustrations by FerrilynSourdiffe

 

July 9, 1996


© Copyright 1995 EchoesMagazine

All stories, poems, and drawings are protected by copyright andmay not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form, by copyingor by any electronic or mechanical means, without written permissionfrom Echoes Magazine. Individual stories and poems are also copyrightby their authors; drawings are copyright by Echoes Magazine and bythe artists.


A Father's Words

by The Lone Driver

 

Following is the complete story:

 I carried the rain-soaked Amish boy out of the ditch and laid him on the front seat of my pickup. "I want to see Josie," he cried. I wiped the boy's face with a paper towel and turned again to the scene of the accident.

Minutes ago, I followed a semi that was passing slowly, with plenty of room. Then the horse reared to the left. The tractor-trailer swerved, rocking and almost tipping. Brakes howled and horse, buggy, father, and boy flew into the ditch as if the windshield wipers of my pickup had tossed them.

In the ditch, the steady rain washed the color and life from the picture. The trucker's wife sat in the mud and held the horse's head in her lap. The horse lay on its side, motionless except for an occasional twitch of one front leg. The trucker, dressed neatly in a sport shirt, white shorts, and sneakers, had helped the Amish father sit upright against a fence post. He was holding the father's straw hat. The gray buggy sat on its top near the dying horse. Some groceries lay scattered. A triangular orange caution sign hung on the back of the buggy and was the brightest item in the picture.

Up on the narrow country road, the diesel engine of the black Kenworth idled. It was the only sound I could hear except for the crying boy.

"Josie, Josie!" he screamed, and before I could hold him he jumped from my pickup, slid down the bank, and stumbled toward the horse. The trucker's wife caught him in her arms and turned his face from the horse.

His father struggled to his feet and took his son to the edge of the field. He made the boy stand while he knelt before him and spoke into his crying eyes soft words that I could not hear.

 

the coverdrawing is based on an illustrationfor this story

illustrations by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

 

© Copyright 1995 The Lone Driver

The Lone Driver is a regular feature of Echoes. Some yearsago he gave up his home in suburban New Jersey and took to the roadin a pickup camper, in a continuing search for adventure andknowledge. He made his first public appearance as a regular featureon WMMT-Radio, in Whitesburg, Kentucky.(3/95)

[Table of Contents]


Geronimo

by Joseph T. Cox

 

More than eighty years
after ablution in the warm springs
of the Gila River, you lay broken
in a cold Oklahoma ditch
and died days later,
whispering the names of the four
faithful warriors.

Did it begin that night
on the banks of the Janos River
when you burned your children's toys,
and, unable to recover the mutilated bodies
of your young wife and three children,
you followed in blackness
just far enough back
to hear the footsteps?

Or did it begin with a voice
calling your name four times, promising,
"No gun can ever kill you."?
Magic confirmed that afternoon
you cursed soldiers' bullets and
made them beg St. Jerome for mercy
giving you your warrior's name.

Near the end of your life you counted
over fifty scars; bullets repeated
the prophesy you believed at Ojo Caliente
when tricked by Chum. You surrendered
rather than sacrifice women and children.

Shackled and carted in a wagon to San Carlos,
you escaped smallpox and the rope
to return to mountain spirits, visions.
Did you dream yourself in a top hat driving
a car in Pawnee Bill's last buffalo hunt?
Or in the garden, with your latest misshapen wife,
holding the scalp of a pumpkin?

Acorns and pinon nuts,
quail and wild turkey,
giant cactus and palo verde trees
cry for your return.

But all is forsaken in a world where
even medicine men are not safe from lies.

Saguaro cactus

illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

 

© Copyright 1995 Joseph T. Cox

Joseph T. Cox is a colonel in the United States Army. Hegraduated from Lafayette College in 1968 and now teaches literatureand composition at the United States Military Academy. His poetry hasappeared in The Antioch Review, The Roanoke Review, Nimrod,and other journals. (3/95)

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Dawn at Hart's Island

by John R. Iles

 

Dawn at Hart's Island
Across the Hudson,
the prisoners, their arms draped indifferently
over shovels laid across both shoulders,
file toward the newest pauper's grave.
Numbers checked, they are
herded appropriately.

A decrepit tugboat
with City of New York
painted hastily across its bow
breaks the morning horizon
pulling quickly into the dock.
Carefully sized, wooden coffin-crates,
some no larger than a shoebox,
are yanked from the deck
and hauled toward the open pit.
The smallest are carried
four at a time.

Some people leave Hart's Island,
many of those return,
and some remain,
arranged carefully, by number,
in case anyone ever cares
to find one.

© Copyright 1995 John R. Iles

John R. Iles is a student at Allegheny College with a majorin political science and a minor in writing. He began writing poetryduring his freshman year and is influenced by poets such as W. D.Snodgrass and Sylvia Plath. (3/95)

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Gone to Canada

by Donna Walker-Nixon

 

Following is a brief excerpt from the story:

 

. . . Once, when Megan was four, Mama kept John Byron while Aunt Sharon got dressed up in a straight blue skirt and high heels that made her look like Miss Hathaway on the Beverly Hillbillies.

When Aunt Sharon got back, she and Mama had a long talk. John Byron had gone fishing with a neighbor down the street while Brandon and Megan took their naps. Megan didn't like nap time, and she had gotten up to ask Mama for a drink of water. Before they saw her, she heard Mama and Aunt Sharon talking.

Megan listening

"What did the judge say?" Mama asked.

All Megan knew about judges was that Mama had to see one once a year to ask for money to raise her and Brandon. Megan couldn't remember her daddy. He was killed in an accident at work when she was only one, just after Brandon was born. Megan sometimes heard Mama talking on the phone to Aunt Sharon about the trust fund that the company set up for her and Brandon. Mama said the judge was looking after their best interests. Megan wished there was someone to look after her interests when John Byron was around.

Aunt Sharon's face was red and puffy as she answered Mama's question. "The judge won't do a thing."

"You mean he's going to let John get away with this too?" Mama asked.

"He said as long as John pays his child support, he's not going to come between a man and his son."

"I can't believe my ears," Mama said.

"Yeah, and he said he didn't believe a man would do such a thing to his own son."

"It will be on that judge's head if anything ever happens to that boy," Mama said.

Megan didn't know what they were talking about. But she knew that John Byron was mean to her, and he deserved everything that big John did to him.

About that time, Mama looked over and saw Megan peeking around the corner. Mama waved her hand up and down.

"What do you want?" Mama asked.

"A glass of water."

"Next time, come right out and ask for it. Don't go listening in on private talks between two adults."

"Yes, ma'am," Megan said as Mama led her to the kitchen.

When they got to the kitchen, Mama told her, "You kids never let me have a private conversation with my own sister. Some things are not meant for young ears."

Mama said that, since her own mama and daddy passed on before Megan was born, Aunt Sharon was all she had in the way of family. "I don't know what I'd do if it wasn't for her," Mama finished.

After that day, when John Byron went to stay with his daddy, Aunt Sharon drove across town to Megan's house and spent the whole weekend crying.

Once, before John Byron went to Canada, Megan overheard Aunt Sharon say, "Some day, he won't come back. Did you see those bruises on his rear end? And the judge still won't do a thing."

"It's a shame," Mama kept repeating herself.

Megan didn't think it was a shame.

Aunt Sharon talked about how every time John Byron got back from seeing his daddy, she had to give him a bath. "Besides the abuse, he's filthy," Aunt Sharon said.

All Megan knew was that John Byron liked to play filthy games. Every time he said, "Let's go play," Mama would make her go because Aunt Sharon had something she wanted to tell Mama about big John without little ears hanging on every word.

To John Byron, play always meant the same game. He was the doctor and she was the patient. He said he had to examine her thoroughly for "female" problems. . . .

Megan in the corner
illustrations by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

 

© Copyright 1995 DonnaWalker-Nixon

Donna Walker-Nixon's bio.

You can find excerpts from two of Donna's other stories in ourLibrary: "Junie Dee GetsMarried" (Issue 4) and "AnyOld Wind That Blows" (Issue11).

[Table of Contents]


Old Age

a poem and drawing byEdith Argabrite

 

 

Old age serves lady fingers

lady fingers

on trembling china plates

 

© Copyright 1995 Edith Argabrite

Edith Argabrite is sixty-one years old, and has beenwriting for only two years. She was born in Czechoslovakia and livedin Shanghai, China, for seven years before coming to the UnitedStates. She is a grandmother, a mother of four, and has been happilymarried for thirty-six years. (3/95)

[Table of Contents]


Brotherly Love

by David Ford

 

Following is a brief excerpt from the story:

 

. . . John Martin leaned forward in his seat, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he peered through the cabin window. Below him, in the morning sun, he saw the snow-covered mountains of New Zealand's Southern Alps. The sight made him catch his breath-- it was the first time he had flown over such mountains and they seemed to stretch for as far as he could see, range upon range. He knew that some of these peaks were three times the height of those back home. John wondered whether Claire had seen it like this when she had come to New Zealand.

John and Claire had always been close. Only a year separated their birthdays, and even though John was the elder, it was Claire who had the ascendant spirit. It was she who hatched the more outrageous plans, who pushed John into 'dare do' deeds, and yet managed to leave him with the impression that he was the leader.

Their close bond somehow survived the adolescent years. Claire had a couple of flirtations with boys, but they came to nothing. Both Claire and John seemed to find their need for friendship better met in each other's company.

Then, a girlfriend seduced Claire with stories of a fantastic holiday spent in New Zealand. Video of wide-open places, high-peaked mountains, and young people enjoying outrageous adventures captured Claire's imagination.

Claire had to go-- there was no stopping her. Unlike John, she had enough money saved and, almost before John knew what was happening, he was waving to her through the departure gate at Gatwick Airport. He felt the loss as soon as she had gone.

Later, the loss turned into panic when Claire was reported missing, and then to grief when they found her body. He had never even said goodbye. The airport embrace had only been "so long, see you next month." So much of him had been wrapped up in her life. Now she was gone and he felt as though one of his limbs had been amputated.

They hadn't let him see the body when it was returned-- decomposition they said, quite horrific. Better to remember her as she was. They were probably right. But then the nightmares had started. A face with rotting skin, empty eye sockets where sparkling blue eyes had been, dirt-blackened hair which once had been the brightest blonde. The nightmares made him wish he had seen the reality. It couldn't have been worse.

For twelve months he was immobilised by grief. It only took the sight of a blonde head in a crowd, or a girl to laugh in that merry-giggle way of Claire's, or any one of a hundred similar triggers and John's gut would knot. Then, a hollow gasping would rise from within, culminating in a river of tears.

The thought of going to New Zealand built gradually during the year. It first came as an unbidden, renegade idea which he instantly dismissed. But it returned again and again-- each time more difficult to shake off. By the end of the year it had become a clarion call-- a beckoning voice which took on the ringing tone of his sister. Finally, he made up his mind to go and see where she had died.

He set a feverish pace that second year, working hard to save for his fare. Whether it was the decision or the work, he didn't know, but the nightmares ceased and his emotions stabilised.

Now, he was nearly there and, as he looked out the cabin window at this foreign land, his mind seemed to fill with a strange voice, as though it were calling him, beckoning him to come...

She was alone when she came to me,
her golden tresses dancing merrily
as she laughed her way along my paths.
"Sky," I called,
come and see
who it is that plays with me.
But, spoiler that he was,
he came with shouts of wind and snarls of rain
to wreck this frail child's dancing game.

Down she went,
her body crushed and bent
like many who had come before.
Beneath my feet she lay,
her laughter spent, her dancing
only sweetest memory etched in my stone.
A Fair One came to tend her there,
to hold her head, caress her hair,
until the time had come for them to go afar.

. . . .

© Copyright 1995 David Ford

David Ford, a member of "the forty-somethings," works as amanagement consultant. He states that his first attempts at poetrywere made when he was fifteen and remain in a private file. Sincethen he has written almost exclusively for business. He believes thatfiction is a great medium for exploring the boundaries of ourunderstanding about life and eternity. (3/95)

 

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