As one of many writers featured in The Ocotillo Review’s V.3.1, I’ve been asked to attend the Austin release party at Malvern Books at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, as one of the event readers. Ain’t said yes yet, but I ain’t said no either…
The story, “Forget the Alamo” is one of five from my forthcoming Long Gone & Lost collection to find a life of its own outside the book, which began as my final thesis project for the MFA degree in creative writing I finished in December.
Inspired by Dave Kindred’s Morning Miracle, which details how the single largest staffing cut ever made at the world famous Washington Post came just days after the paper did what only one other newspaper had ever done before at the time, take home six Pulitzers Prizes in a single year.
It happened in 2010, the same year my news career came to an unexpected and rather abrupt end. As if I needed any more curious parallels to the events described, my own termination occurred one week precisely to my winning my sixth national accolade in four years as part of my last journalism gig. The previous five came the year before, not counting a whole slew of honorable mentions won in the previous two years. This story tells what it was like to be a staff member to experience such an ironic duplicity.
And though I never had the balls to burn a doob on the roof of a news office I worked for, I did used to smoke cigarettes like they were going out of fashion, especially when I wrote and edited news stories, as I paced literal paths to work out my wordings.
One of my pacing paths actually was on the roof of the Reporter-News in Abilene, Texas (circa 1999). I worked nights at the time, you see, and let’s just say that Abilene’s homeless population kept that downtown area around the news office entertaining, to say the least. One of the copy desk editors, a fellow who looked an awful lot like a young Stephen King, turned me on to this roof access door near the printing press room that I made frequent use of after dark to avoid the crazies at ground level. I could even flick my butts down at them (not AT them, at them, just nearby) which became an all new pastime for me, just to hear what those lunatics would say about the “gifts from the heavens” or “the tiny meteorites that had found them again.”
As you can imagine, anything that fun would have a shelf life. Word came down from on high one day that no one could smoke on the roof anymore. Fears of fires, or some such, which sounded next to impossible if you asked me. Somebody even locked the access door with a big ol’ Master lock.
I’ll be damned if late last year, I didn’t see photos from one of my fellow staffers there, showing the exact spot I used to frequent there on the roof, with flames and smoke belching from it as firemen on ladder trucks worked to put the blaze out.
Enough to make you wonder, anyhow.
Well, haven’t decided about Malvern yet, but I have time. If I want to call myself author, I probably should. Besides, I doubt many could pull it off with the proper twang without me. Besides, I doubt I’m exactly what any of those literary types expect. Like much of what I write, I tend to push the envelope on what they dub literary, anyway.
We’ll see, I guess…