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find: Creative Writing U.S.A.

J. Sparrowhawk  

writer, U.S.A.

Style is like a rusty bolt that for too long has held together an unused gimmiwidget. Takes oil, strain, more oil, a little WD40 and sweat to crack it loose so the gimmiwidget can function at full capacity. Do you know anything about ginniwidgets? Mine is stuck and I am afraid I will break the sucker before its time.

Ok. Let me try another tack. The music dried up sometime in the '80s. It changed and whirled about like some mad sufi and became words. I think it was always words. I love language. So helpful when ordering in restaurants and stores and for explaining to police why my car is parked in a red zone. For 20 years I was 'serious' about the work. Serious about my family. Serious about...you get the idea. In the early 90s I finally looked up at the ceiling where I have seen others look while praying, like maybe God is in the attic, and told my Creator that I was very sorry but I no longer cared. The care was driving me under. Depression was pretty much constant and I had no where to go. The relief was profound! It was like a voice saying, "about time, kid!". Only then did it begin to flow. Problems came in the form of no form. That is, I had no style, no philosophy. All I had was an old Royal and a ream of paper. And a sign over my desk that said, "WHY?". It took some time to loosen the bolt so the gimmiwidget could revolve properly.

The short story, "The Last Halloween at the Littlest Angel" is the only one spruced up enough to be presentable. In 1993 in El Paso there was a Halloween party for writers. The entry fee was a fresh story, something on the theme of the Day. Many were Bahá´ís, but not all. The best of the herd was read by David Fonteneau. A wonderful mysterious piece that he has since lost so he doesn't have to send it to the many people who asked for it.
This was my entry fee. I like it. Not the best, perhaps, but it is nice.

Excerpts from The Last Halloween at The Littlest Angel

Punta de Lanza was a smallish city, 90,000 folks, give or take a gaggle of students. It sported a computer college, businesses and many small farms where the world's best chile peppers were grown. The city was the county seat and was always moderately busy. Too nice a city to have a dark secret.

Burgeoning suburbs of medium priced homes encroached on the desert in three directions. The fourth was too close to the river and to the border with Mexico. Here, the barrios were--ragged splashes of dirt-colored shacks housing the nameless poor, the hardened hands who put food on a thousand tables...

...The Littlest Angel cemetery had been the only camposanto in Punta de Lanza for a long time. Slowly the holy ground had filled with prestigious cadavers. All the original families were there; the Ruggles, the De la Vacas, Guzmans, and even Harold's old dad and grand dad, they being the last remnants of the De la Vaca clan on the female side. De la Vaca money provided Harold the stipend that allowed him to carry on his sacred chores at the cemetery. De la Vaca money also built a small potter's field attached to the main grounds.

The town grew. A mall here, truck terminal there, menudo parlors and convenience stores. The town became a city. Now Punta de Lanza boasted five cemeteries. Six, with the Littlest Angel, but few people remembered it now. Only Harold Suttles. Yet there was a time when it was well known. It began with the death of little Billy Guzman....

...Harold told Billy stories as they sat beneath the ancient trees. The stories were always about Halloween. Billy was obsessed with the spooky night. Candy and costumes did not interest him. It was the night itself. The two had asked older people and pieced together a ragged history of Halloween. They cut out photos and drawings of the subject from magazines and books. The boys were the resident scholars of Halloween.

When they went door to door in costumes carrying their plastic bags, Harold thought Billy took Halloween too seriously. The younger boy never smiled. He looked into the shadows and cast by hedges and sheds. His "trick or treat" sounded a bit too imperative...

Excerpts from Arts Dialogue, September 1998, pages 13 - 15.

  • Short Story: The Last Halloween at The Littlest Angel, Arts Dialogue, September 1998

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
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