Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume III and other Rusty Wheels Media Releases and Announcements

 

RWM and Lettersandbooks.com would like to thank all that contributed to Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume III and announce that it is now available!
Kindle version:
https://amzn.to/2PPJYuC
Paperback version:
https://amzn.to/2T5Uqgu

We’ve also updated the covers and interior for a 2nd edition re-release of Volumes I&II which can be found here:
Volume I: https://amzn.to/2Dz3SV4
Volume II: https://amzn.to/2OGi7s2

If any of the letter writers want to be interviewed by Marc D. Crepeaux and A.M. Hounchell on our LettersandBooks channel,
Leave a Comment Below!

Stay tuned for Letters Volume IV writing contest!

As we post our publishing push for the holiday season, check out our completed and upcoming titles.
New Book by RWM! In the Mist of Fire by Nathalie Grabinski :
https://amzn.to/2FhXX8s
Contractual Obligations also has a new Audible Version:
https://amzn.to/2Fgt1W1
Stop That Wedding by Melissa Klein:
https://amzn.to/2qIM6WV

Join us, submissions are always accepted for publication!
https://lettersandbooks.com/
https://marcdcrepeaux.com/
https://amhounchell.ninja/

Follow us on Twitter!

(Description contains affiliate links)

Advertisements

Hilarious Editing for Fun: Prof Marc Edits Letter submissions from Author A.M. Hounchell While He Watches

 

 

One of many editors for Letters Never Meant to be Read shares his screen as A.M. Hounchell (author) watches with terror. In the interest of better Letter Writing, English Prof comes out and nabs all of author A.M. Hounchell’s Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume III submission mistakes in front of him in this hilarious episode of a show about nothing (but writing). These letters are to James Patterson and Donald Trump. https://amhounchell.ninja/

LettersandBooks.com

 

Sure, come on over. Anytime.

Sure, come on over. Anytime.

Give me the grinds of yesterday’s coffee and allow me to munch on them with a bitter happy existence while I put a hole in your tailpipe so the whole world can hear what a blowhard and listless extravagance we’ve become. I’ll wake up soon and the gravel in my voice will subside as I yell and stretch and throw last nights dishes.

I’ll break out the folding lawn chairs, only to give you a tour right after setting them on that lush grass- at a marching pace to a dead stop- a marching pace to a dead stop- for you to see all my sites.

Then, I’ll build a bonfire for you in the middle of the morning to honor your visit. We’ll swim in the pond and I’ll show you just how easy it is to catch a frog then let it go- catch a frog then let it go- after which you’ll reluctantly pet the slickest skin you ever put your cheek to.

Drone of early afternoon grasshoppers and the lapping of the waves should put me in some kind of mood that only wet skin and moss can do. I’ll chug water from the well’s spigot and you’ll catch a taste and the rooster will come running with a herd behind and they’ll ask about the frogs.

Then, I’ll make us bacon over the fire and offer an old baseball for us to toss while I use the tongs in one hand and you’ll barely break a sweat.

Before we walk the trail with the Pointer and hunt down berries and big, designer leaves, I’ll remember to put my pants on.

Letters Never Meant to be Read- Writing Contest Update

Hello Letter Writers,

I want to thank you all for participating in this ever-growing contest which ended May 5th. I am very happy to report that we received over 150 submissions. Our judges will be hard at work reading your secrets; letters that include your wonderful memories, your funny moments, and your terrible tragedies. Your love, loss, and life.
The winners of the contest will be announced May 31st, 4pm EST LIVE on the Facebook Page for Letters Never Meant to be Read HERE. Please like and share this page so we can make it a celebratory event. I will read the winning letters and announce EVERYONE who are nominees that will be accepted into Volume III. The 3 winners will receive a check promptly after the contest results are announced.
I will also GO LIVE throughout the month on FB to read letters from VI and VII, laugh, and talk about the project as a whole. I have done this twice already with a fun result.
Speaking of, Volume III will include those who both win the contest, and those who are selected as nominees. For that effort, you will be contacted throughout the summer with contracts, photo requests, bios, and other small items that go into making this great publication. We always respect the privacy of our Letter Writers and will tailor your submissions accordingly. This is a great way to get a “byline” into your credits if you are a budding or established author, which some of you already are.
We are ALWAYS accepting submissions even though the contest is over. 3 or more gets you royalty payments, 1 gets you a free book. Submissions for Volume III ends June 1st.
Besides sending letters, the best way to support this project is to buy the books (I try to make them as cheep as possible), tell your friends, write reviews, and share on your social media of choice.
You can always pal around with me on:
Letters Facebook OR MDX
I will not accept bribes 
Thank you so much for supporting this project with your words and pieces of your soul. It has been my dream for many years and you are making it come true.
For projects past, and this precious book. Let there be many more in our future…
 
forward-graphic-sig

 
 
 

We’ve Created a Monster, Her name is Shelly.

 

Last year, I discovered A.M. Hounchell on Twitter, read a book of his in one sitting, and did a review the very same day. We became fast friends that still have never met in person. But, it was clear to me even then that he could write. I got him to compose some letters for Letters Never Meant to be Read Volume II, and somehow we decided it was a good idea to start a separate book together as well.

“Ever play chess by mail?” I asked him last summer. How old of me and super nerdy. He is at least a decade younger than me and has known no world without cell phones.

“That’s what we’re going to do, I have a few ideas,” and I laid out the groundwork for our then unknown collaboration.

We erected the skeleton for a story idea, a good and twisted plot full of holes, and the promise of a great journey. I wrote, sent, and waited. He wrote, sent, and waited…

I sent him the first chapter which included two scenes last July. He sent me something back. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting at the time, but what I got was crazy.

There, Quintessential Reality was born, and Shelly’s life was in our hands. Can two men write as one woman? We never doubted that, just where we were going. We actually wrote for Shelly in both 3rd and 1st person point of view. Hard to talk about, super fun to do.

I honestly feel better writing for a female protagonist and have done so on many occasions in Short Stories to Tell Your Boss. Sure, I grew up with a house full of girls and now live in the same manner as the minority sex, but does that make me some kind of expert? No. Easy to say, harder to prove.

I can admit that women provide me a great mystery of character, like a warm puzzle you never quite get, but you still try. When I was a little boy, I would pull on curling irons that were hot and ready to go on the bathroom sink. They were marvelous and I was curious. I have the scars to prove it. That kind of mystery, I did it again on the page.

Writing as a woman is both liberating and challenging. Also, the manuscript was combed by kind and brutal female beta readers, so neither one of us could play the fool.

Here is the book description and result of our dark and wonderful collaboration lest I give away any spoilers:

Shelly’s life is perfect by any conventional sense. She has a loving husband, two children, a great house, and her career as a real estate agent is really taking off. Just as her daughter’s sweet sixteen birthday party is in the works, Shelly’s life begins to unravel. She starts to realize that in suburban America, life choices are less about what you want, and more about the cards you are dealt. Mental illness is only half of her dark and twisted Quintessential Reality.

After each incident, Shelly confides with the reader, telling her true feelings about what is really going on.

She’ll have to battle her inner and outer demons to find her true self– buried deep below the rubble.

Her options are to Dig or Suffocate.

 

This book is FREE on Kindle Saturday and Sunday as part of Rusty Wheels Media’s Kindle Free Catalog Campaign that ends Sat. We are both really proud of this book and want to get it out there to as many people as possible to enjoy and provide feedback.

We’ve created a monster, her name is Shelly, and both of us are scared to death.

 

forward-graphic-sig

Letters Never Meant to be Read Writing CONTEST!

Rusty Wheels Media is proud to announce the bi-annual Letter Writing Submission Contest! 

Have you ever wanted to write a letter to that guy or gal you brushed up against on the train? How about that lost love or the friend that did you wrong?  The family member who never really saw you? The teacher or boss who declined to see your worth? What about the person you wished you had thanked?  These are letters that the writers had no intention of ever mailing, snail or otherwise.

This collection of salty rants and unspoken melodies has been curated for the entire world to marvel upon. What was an exercise of the utmost fruition has turned into something very real and offers a hard glimpse into the perspective and time of the letter writer.   Writing your letter can be cathartic and freeing.

All letters should tell a story. They can be heartfelt, sarcastic, funny, angry, or revenge in words. Expressions to the world or wondering what could have been can be healthy.  So roll that sacred parchment in an airtight bottle and send it out to sea or burn it over the mantle. Wait…

Send it to us!

Submissions: April 1st-May 5th 2018

1st Place: $200 

2nd Place: $100

3rd Place: $50

Top 10: Contract for use in Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume III

Multiple submissions ARE allowed.

3 RWM judges will be ruling on these submissions. 

+ Profit Sharing for 3+ Letters or More (Percentage of Letters that make it into the next publication= Royalty Percentage by contract PLUS a by line). Of Course, Letters can be anonymous upon publication.

Send Letters to: RustyWheelsMedia@gmail.com  Subject Line: Letters Contest

OR

Rusty Wheels Media, LLC

PO Box 1692

Rome, GA 30162

 

“Dear Benefactor” from Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume II YouTube Reading and Script

 

 

Dear Benefactor,

 

Here I give you a great opportunity to continue on an age-old tradition of supporting the arts. No, I am not a charlatan, although I could be if I had no guilt at all. No, I am not a beggar. It just seems plain to me that I could be doing better for myself, better for the world with a change of station. If only I didn’t have this weight of impending disaster over me. This impenetrable cloud that follows, darkens my existence by stealing my time and thoughts away from my writing. Worry and debt have formed great men, but I have served enough of both to occupy a lifetime. Some find hardship and poverty to be inspiration for their best work. I have had the right amount of these disasters and I simply ask for assistance in continuing on to the next great phase.

It may seem by the opening that I am not accomplished, a loser perhaps. This is not true; I am a gentleman by the old sense. I am a person of letters and books. I am well educated, addicted to ambition as well as accomplishment, and have risen up to a certain level despite my poor pedigree. But winning in these games has not come without cost. I find myself mooring over the smallest of expenses and checking my accounts far too often.

Even a small amount of patronage would give me a little respite. I will not dawdle with this given time though. I will write and produce in such a way that you have never seen. I will be the most prolific, the unstoppable. I will be the creator of many worlds and people, for you. The small gesture to my potential will seem dainty in comparison to what I will build. Then, as time continues and I add to the pile of record, our achievements, I will undoubtedly garner interviews. Books will be written about me, about my undying tenacity, about our legacy. Only then will I divulge the real truth about you, about the goodness in your heart, about your care and generosity. I will put you upon the pedestal of time and you will be known.

If you are uninterested in the investment of legacy, then perhaps you would like companionship. Perhaps you want both, are like myself, want it all. I can offer you the sweetest of gestures, the most passionate rhythms this Earth has to offer. I can see you as you were, long ago, past those still pretty eyes, into your youth. I can look at you in wonder, your naked body on display for me, caress your hair and forgive the small tolls that time has ungratefully taken on you.

I can be your best lover, your secret in revenge against the world that has been so ungrateful. I can last long or be as hasty as you please. All of your fantasies will come to fruition, all you have to do is ask. No, tell me, say the words, and I will be whoever you want. Say nothing, and I will be myself, your everything. I do not care if you are dying, we all are. I do not care if you aren’t as pretty as you once were. I can see through the wrinkles and the grief. I am unassuming and I know no age. I span time with humor and delicate forethought. Think of your most dangerous desire, the one you fear would bring you public shame if it ever got out. Tell me. I won’t even bat an eye, only smile, and give it to you.

Please don’t think of me a tramp. Yes, I am taken, you might be too, but not in those moments. No one has all of me, but you can. He may have left recently, or long ago. Use me to parade around in defiance. Show me off to your cohorts, travel with an escort. I can speak another language. In a tuxedo, I am quite dashing. We all play roles; let me play one for you.

Is it not the same when I clock in an out? When I go away in uniform, am I not leaving them behind too? Those that I love, that are close, they need provisions. I go and get them to ensure a future. It does not matter who I am when I am away, as long as I return unscathed. It does not matter how I secure a future, but that I do. Besides, one cannot judge another who brings happiness and enlightenment into the world. I will bring you passion and joy, and you will allow for our enlightenment.

Of course, we don’t have to be lovers in the physical sense. You could simply be my publisher, my editor, my muse. I can scribe love letters to your heart’s delight. Our torrid love affair can be only in the mind, on sacred parchment that historians will marvel over. While I toil away in joy, creating a collection of books and thoughts, we can span great distance with touching moments of bliss caught on record. You can provide needed expenses, and I, a mountain of dreams.

I will still want you though, I must warn you. I am a romantic, if you have not already guessed. I will desire for your body along with your pretty mind. If that physical connection is not your choice, tease me with my own desires of the flesh. Play games, wring out of me the most desperate and sentimental words from my wet cloth. I will be loyal.

If you have found any errors in these words, good; you are doing well already. Please, beg my forgiveness. If they are filled with mistakes, let these words serve as an example of the cloud that is looming. I write in haste, eager to slip away from the bankers and the phone calls. I can assure you, I am not expensive compared to what most use their money on these days. I am not a spendthrift. I will use what is given to me by your delicate hands for one purpose and I will never appear ungrateful. I will get the cloud away from my back and write as if every day I shall perish by midnight.

Do send something soon though, a message that you are at least thinking about my offer. I am an optimist and I think fondly on tomorrow. If not, I will soon be beaten down by the doldrums of a petty, debtor existence. And while I will not give up on my dreams, I will become bitter by their making over such a long, hard road. By securing a more comfortable route now, I will ensure the necessity to pay it forward one day. I will reach down as you have here and offer a lifeline to another dreamer. I beg you to give me something more to admire about tomorrow.

I hope you are well and in good health. I hope the spring sun shines upon your face and, by morning, you have cup of tea for me and a story to tell when I arrive. Write soon.

 

-Marc

 

Send in your own letters HERE

 

Contractual Obligations and Interview with Author A.M. Hounchell

I was taking a nap when he called. There are two things I am very good at: taking micro naps and fielding calls from excited authors with an idea.

He talked as if he wanted me to read the manuscript right then, in that instant, but my couch begged for more time. I read it after we got off the phone. He had warned me. “It’s…different…” My mind whirled with the 2nd person prose, a rare commodity, as I became catapulted into a castle so strange.

I was in uniform, again. A gawky teenage look of exhaustion from boredom and the scanning of laser guns caused me to dive head first. Then, the devil herself, offering a choice. I wanted to take all of them, A-Z…But I could only have one.

That was me, less than a year ago, on my adult couch, but brought back to a time when I wore a name tag and couldn’t figure how to ring up bananas for pretty college girls.

I told him he would need to hire another editor, as I was already booked up, but the idea was strong and I would publish the book once Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume II was well underway. Hounchell had also contributed heavily to the Letters Project.

At the same time, A.M. and I were working on a novel together, but this defying idea of his would find its place in our Rusty Wheelhouse.

Contractual Obligations was born from a romantic idea that retail therapy for the employee doesn’t mean more shopping, it means choice. This choose your own future style book, where the protagonist is you, provides the reader with an interesting take on the old Deal with the Devil.

I asked A.M. Hounchell ten questions and he responded with pure absurdist and Contractual Obligatory fashion. And choices, plenty of choices:

 

What caused you to write a book about the age-old concept of a deal with the devil?

A.
 I think part of why I wanted the deal with the devil concept is because it accents how I’ve felt in retail. You are sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Need the job for money, but it psychologically kills you. Quit, and you have no money to survive. 
B. 
A deal with the devil is something relatable to most anyone in any culture, so it seemed fitting to mash it with something like retail. 
C. 
Who else would offer a contract to a musical soundtrack in someone’s mind? Kenny G. 
D. 
I think part of the reason is that it takes something that represents true evil, but makes it so the story isn’t about that. I used something large and loud like the Devil to explore many avenues for the story to go. 
2. Did you intend to always have the book structured as choices for the reader to make as they read?
A.
Yes. In fact the book was originally a deal with the Devil with four options. Those four options are still A, B, C, and D. I wanted to see how far I could take the theory of multiple universes and multiple endings, so I just wrote more until it felt natural to write one for each letter of the alphabet. 
B. 
No. To say I have intentions when I write would be to say that I am constantly thinking what to do next. I think it was meant as a split between different outcomes. Almost any of them could mesh with original opening, and I found that very interesting. 
C. 
My initial intent was actually to pass my Creative Writing class at Washburn University. It was the class that indicated that I should write more options. 
D. 
It’s more written this way for the people who like to go backwards in Choose Your Own Adventure Books. It’s more for those people who just want the good ending. I wrote it for those people to go backwards, and find an ending that suits them best. In this way, it’s more of a challenge to find the ending that suits you best rather than multiple choices. 
3. Are these scenarios based on true events while working in retail?
A. 
No. But there is a grain of truth to some of it. It’s true about never knowing who will walk up, and what they’ll be like. To one extreme, they could be anyone, on the other you may have to be anyone to get them to sign up for rewards or credit cards. 
B. 
Of course, I used to make deals with the Devil all the time. We we’re both pretty tight before the lumberjacks came to guard my store.
C. 
The options are built around different takes on things I thought about in the moment. I warped the Devil Went Down to Georgia, the concept of Lumberjacks, and even Hellraiser to fit into the story. I can’t even play the fiddle. 
D. 
Yes and no. I know that book is about temptation and wanting what you want, and fighting against it or for it or being it, but none of the specific things have happened to me. 
4. How did the book change throughout the writing process?
A.
Originally, it was in first person, four pages and included a small paragraph for the stem of the story and only four options, similar to an actual multiple choice question. They were structured based on negative, positive, and whether or not the person at the register was the Devil. 
B. Don’t tell Marc, but part of the way it changed is that I had to come to terms with the issue that I hadn’t written an option W into the book, so I had to Scrabble to put one together. I can’t even remember if it was a statement on the loss of choice or anything. 
C. 
Part of what I found absolutely fascinating about writing this is how much I wanted to make the concepts fluid. Sure, I wanted to joke around and offer problems to my solutions, but I also wanted the story to feel cohesive enough that you may go, “oh yeah, that was mentioned in option G.” 
D. For a little while I thought that I couldn’t write anything after J. It felt like I had explored everything I could say, but then the story shifted when I realized anything could happen. The entire multiverse was at my fingertips. 
5. How is this book different from your other works?
A. 
It’s in second person. 
B. 
Most of my other works don’t have more than ten alternate endings. Some of them have one alternate ending. 
C. 
This book is different in the way that it explores concepts that I never would have otherwise. The options are short enough sometimes that I can explore one idea without it getting stale. Some of my other works lose their sense of adventure in the middle for a moment or two. 
D. 
None of the others have a blue cover. So, there’s that. 
6. What genre do you write in?
A.
I dabble in fantasy, but mostly I stick with comedy.
B. 
Absurdist Time Travel Science Fiction seems to be the go to. 
C. 
Ask anyone, Juvenile Fiction is my A game. 
D. 
Whichever genre the story turns into while I’m writing it. I’m like a well of creativity. I just go get the water. I don’t tell it what to taste like. 
7. 2nd person point of view is rare in literature. Is it difficult for you to write with that voice?
A. 
Not at all. One of my favorite things about storytelling is bards. They sing their story to an audience, so it drags them into the tale. Similar to how an adult might use their kid’s name in place of a main character’s. 
B. 
It’s more like it’s difficult to remember to switch away. There are some parts of other pieces I am writing that are bleeding into second person. 
C. 
No. What I find the most difficult is third person limited. Just write in first person. 
D.
 I did find it hard to retrain myself from saying “you” too much. Sometimes I would have thirteen sentences in a row that started with “You.” 
8. Do you have a favorite choice?
A. 
No, I love all of the choices equally. I wouldn’t have written them all, if I had a favorite. 
B.
The only answer is Special K. Accept no substitute. 
C. 
I’m torn between the ones with a message of any kind and the ones just dialing the weird factor up to 15. Probably Special K. 
D. 
Option W is the one that I find most relatable. 
9. How did the process of writing choices work? Were they in order as you wrote?
A. 
Honestly, the concept of thinking ahead of time makes almost no sense to me. I am a panster through and through. 
B. 
It was more of an ‘oh, there’s been two good options, guess I’ll write a negative one.’ Can’t have too much positivity. 
C. 
They were in order in the sense that it is the alphabet. I know what comes after J. And what comes after J that is my favorite one.
D. 
Order is for penguins and leprechaun ceral. What? 
10. What’s next?
A. 
Well, I’m just going to put one foot in front of the other and take life one step at a time. 
B. 
I’m moving on. Might write more options. Might not. Might pretend to be a walrus. Might become a walrus. Might just say walrus. 
C. 
Going to write my tenth book. I don’t know if it will be about a crazy lady in a warped reality. Or a story that makes no sense about the construct of time. Or even a tale about a half zombie lesbian attempting to come to terms with killing her girlfriend. I don’t know. Most of my books are created by random word generators. 
D. 
Dinner. Dinner is next. I’m hungry. 
Connect with A.M. Hounchell on Twitter: https://twitter.com/inferno4dante
Check out his blog: http://prosefessor.blogspot.com/
Books by A.M. Hounchell:
 *Contains Amazon Affiliate Links

 

“Girl in White” from Letters Never Meant to be Read: Volume II

Special thanks to all our Letter Writers for the New Volume! Go ahead, write your own Letters and send them in. We dare you…

Here is a fireside reading of “Girl in White” by yours truly with my trusty companion.

 

 

Girl in White,

I was walking in the cemetery with my dog, Maggie. We are caretakers of sorts. Unofficial titles, of course, but the dead see us every day. I tip my hat and make notes. I am not afraid and I like the quiet. It is actually a nice place with hills for calf muscles and names to remember.

We were nearly a mile into our ritual. The heat of the day was still in full effect. The sun blazed off the tar walkways. That was when my dog stopped pulling, about a mile in. She’ll pull in the beginning, want me to run. Today wasn’t a running day. Today was a talking on the phone day. Same shoes, different activity.

That’s what I was doing when I saw you. You were sitting there with your legs sprawled, wearing a white shirt and some kind of shorts near the stairs that led down a row. I could tell you had dirty blonde, mid-length hair with thick, black mascara that had to be running. You waved to me and voiced hello.

I thought it strange to see someone else alive in this place amongst the dead. You don’t see a lot of movement in a cemetery. My dog does get distracted by the occasional squirrel or bird, but you don’t see a lot of human movement. You don’t think you see human movement anyway, or certainly wouldn’t want to. That is not why we go there.

You waved and I waved with my only free hand which held my phone. I waved with my phone. I’m sorry. I didn’t know if you were trying to get my attention or if you needed something. Maybe you just wanted to talk. The phone call I was on was important and couldn’t wait. I’m sorry if I left you there all alone with the dead.

I still wonder why you were just sitting there in the cemetery. Sometimes I see workers but not very often. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas, I can sit on my porch, drink my coffee, and watch the well-wishers drive in, take their moments, and drive out. I don’t gawk at them. That would be disrespectful. I do notice them. I wonder if they ever notice me watching over the place. I wonder if they know that I would report any vandals, that I don’t let my dog on the grass, except at the very top where there are no graves. There’s just an empty field there for future sadness.

You were the only other person alive for miles and I brushed you off with a half wave of my phone. I am so sorry. I should have at least said that I would make another round and then we could have a chat. I would finish up my conversation, come back, and we could talk about things for a bit. If I had just said that, the person who was on the phone wouldn’t have minded at all.

Maybe we could have gotten along somehow. You seemed pretty but in distress. Perhaps we could have walked together. Since Maggie wasn’t pulling, you could have had a turn leading her. You could have tried her out and I could have rested my arm as we had our secret meeting. I should have at least stopped and asked if you were alright.

You were the only one amidst the sprawling mementos of the dead. I thought that anyone there who was just sitting, and not at any particular grave, surely must have been lost. I was marching somewhere with my companion. We had places to be. We had exercise to get in and phone calls to receive.

Twenty years ago, without the contraption, I would have no doubt stopped and heard your entire life story, the way you wanted to tell it. I have that effect on people. They spill their guts all over the floor and ask me how it looks. I tell them they’re okay. They feel better. I feel interested. Twenty years ago, we could have learned something about each other. Instead, I was on the phone.

I walked around and tried to stretch my neck to see if you would stay put. I wanted to see if you heard my mental note that I would be back. ESP doesn’t always work. Must be all the Wi-Fi and cell signals. I lost sight of you over the hill. I went back to the top, back to the grass that I could let my dog walk on, and we made a good jaunt of it, another mile perhaps, maybe more.

My conversation ended and I made a B-line back to where you were. I had the sinking suspicion that you wouldn’t be there, that I missed my chance. I went, circled around and around, looking for you in that white shirt amongst the shiny tombstones, weather-beaten memories, and perfect grass.

I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I couldn’t find you. I circled around and around, searching, hoping, and whispering. I went back up to the top of the hill to gaze down, see if you went somewhere else to find shade and wait for me. My eyes darted for you; maybe you were checking out another grave or family plot. I couldn’t see you anywhere. I looked over my shoulder to see if you were following me but my neck doesn’t turn the way it used to. Not since they cut into me.

I wanted you to be there. I wanted to take that walk with you and learn all about your life. Then, maybe we could have gotten into some trouble. Maggie wanted water but she was still game for whatever and we could go farther. Dogs have a way of suffering for the sake of adventure. If I went five miles more, she would still go on without complaint.

We went to the old side of the cemetery. The one with big oaks and bushy cedars, the side with more shade. I thought if you were waiting for me, you would be over there. You weren’t. I headed for the parking lot of the community pool which sprawls a half a mile away to the west with no luck. I thought I saw a white shirt down the street, at the bottom of the hill, at the dog pound next to the place that sells monuments and tombstones. Engravings just for you.

When I got there, it was just a man loading his car. I got nervous. When I looked back up at the cemetery, the hills, again, I searched for movement. I searched for any sign that you were still there, that you were still waiting for me. I saw nothing but the glinting stones and fake flowers in rows.

I started to panic and cry a little on the inside with the heat. I didn’t want to give up. I marched down the main road and headed for the cow pasture, trekked up the side road with those houses and bamboo. I thought the cows would know where you went but a calf just ran from me like she hadn’t seen a man with a dog before. The older heifers just stared.

There was one that was browner than the others and stood by itself away in the pasture and the small-rolling hills of the thick green grass. I thought it may know where you went off to. Then, I realized why he was standing by himself. It was the bull. He was staring in the distance, picking out his next cow to mount and inseminate.

Is that all I am? Is that all I’m doing?

I stopped halfway down the road and thought about going back to the cemetery. I thought about marching back to where you were, and if you weren’t there again, we would trudge right up to the top and wait. I turned around and Maggie followed, only to take five steps and turn around again. Instead, I thought you might be on the main road, so I continued on.

You weren’t on the main road.

When I cut back up on another side street that parallels my house, Maggie thought we were going home. I wasn’t ready yet. I was still looking.

The wide angle of the cemetery appeared before us again, and again I looked for your movement. I looked for your white shirt. I couldn’t find you.

I cut in front of my house and headed towards town. Maybe someone there would know where you went. Maybe they had seen your face too, maybe someone there was helping you. Maybe you were walking and I could give you a ride or we could go together.

I wanted to know you. I wanted to love you. I wanted to cause problems and find solutions. I wanted to take your problems and make my life complicated. I wanted to wipe your tears, if that’s what those were.

Why weren’t you there?

I made it all the way to the community garden, turned around and headed back. I asked my distant neighbor if he saw anyone that looked like you. He thought I was crazy. He made me repeat where I first saw you. I witnessed goosebumps form on his neck. I could tell he wanted me to go away. My enthusiasm was disrupting his watering of the ferns and trimming of his mums. He didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He was perfectly fine in his house which was built farther down the road from the cemetery than my house was all those years ago. He didn’t want me to bring anything to his side. Not while the sun was going down and the ferns needed their water.

After I gave him the scare, I figured the only thing I could do was go home. But while we were there, Maggie had sprawled all over his cool grass. Did you know that dogs don’t have sweat glands like us? Did you know they have to pant? Maggie is faster than me but in an all-day race, I would win over the ability to sweat from my pores.

I walked home in sadness which turned to fear. I was afraid that you weren’t real. Maybe you were a ghost. That’s what my distant neighbor was scared of, that you were an apparition who lives in the cemetery. That you would follow me down to his house and give him the night terrors. If you are a ghost, I want you to know that I was not afraid. I’m not perfect, but I have not been so evil that a ghost would turn on me.

We could have a conversation, you could tell me your stories, your history, and I would listen. Then, over some tea or coffee, I could tell you mine. You could learn what it’s like in this era, be baffled by our advances and technical savagery. Mystical wonders of the modern mind. You could see it all. I could show it to you.

My head hung low until I got within eyesight of the cemetery again. I only hoped that you were there after all and you weren’t hiding from me. Is that it? After I was rude to you, did you dive behind some tombstones and wish for your own death? Did I just not see you there in your family’s row?

I looked some more but I had to go through the routines. Dogs like routines and she needed water still. I felt bad on both fronts. We went inside. I made sure her bowl was full and went to my porch which overlooks the grounds. I took out binoculars and searched for you. I looked in the place that I saw you the first time. You weren’t there. My eyes became strained as the sun faded from the horizon. I was upset.

At that point, I wasn’t afraid of you being a ghost, or a vagrant, or a drug user hiding from the cops. I was afraid you were never there at all. That I shrugged off a figment of my own imagination. I just wanted to prove that you were real. I wanted to prove to myself and the world that I was not going crazy, not yet. That I had not slipped from the rope. I wanted to know that you weren’t imagined because that scares me more than anything else.

Please, be there tomorrow.

forward-graphic-sig

Write a Letter or three of your own Submissions Here!

 

*Contains affiliate links, can’t be poor forever