The Girl at the End of the Pew

Here is a vignette of mine published this month in Sleet Magazine.

The Girl at the End of the Pew

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Rural GPS

IMG_0155

Wife: Honey please pull over and ask for directions.

Husband: No, no, no Google will locate Kim’s house. I just need to reenter the address. 

Wife: You’ve tried that three times already. There’s no cell service out here. Just ask someone. Hey! Pull over. There’s someone. That man by the vegetable stand. 

Husband: Are you kidding? The man with no teeth who keeps waving?

Wife: If you don’t ask, I will.

Husband: Oh, so you’ll just get right out of a moving car?

Wife: Pull over!

Husband: All right, all right!

Sound of tires on gravel. Smell of honeysuckle, fresh tar, and garden vegetables. 

Husband: Hi. Yes, excuse me. But we’re trying to find Kim Wonderby’s house. You have any idea how we can get there?

Old Man: Wonder… Wonder. Sounds familiar. 

Husband: Great. Yeah. She and her husband are artists. He’s really tall and short haired, and she’s really short and long haired.

Wife: Kim’s not that short.

Husband: Not important, sweetie. 

Old Man: Oh those folks. Yeah, yeah. They’re livin’ not far from here.

Husband: Excellent. So what’s the best route to take?

Old Man: Well, let’s see. You’ll need to go down the road your on about another two miles. Hmm. Oh yeah. Then you’ll need to go past the Thompson farm. You can’t miss it. It’ll be on your left. Keep a look out when you pass the big sycamore, ‘cause you’ll need to take a hard right turn. After that you’ll go about, oh let’s see. Hmm. Well, you go about a hundred yards past where they found young Timmy Sampson’s body last year. Terrible thing. Terrible. All torn to pieces. You might’ve heard about it. 

Husband: Ah. No. 

Old Man: Well, your gonna go about a hundred yards past that…

Husband: Hold it. How will I know the spot?

Old Man: Oh, you’ll probably see a little white cross with some flowers around it. His sister Ruthie’s been puttin’ flowers by the cross since Timmy died. She’s a mean ole which of a thing. Some people say they wish it’d been her body beside the road. But folks here still feel sorry for her. Timmy was a good boy.

Husband: Oh, wow. That’s sad. So, we go about a hundred yards. 

Old Man: Oh yeah, about a hundred yards after that your gonna see some dead grass on your right. That’s part of Martha Umpkin’s yard. She’s got some loose timbers in her attic. If you know what I mean. No one can tell her nothing. She keeps pourin’ old engine oil there every time she has her son change the tractor oil. She’s convinced it’s good for the soil. Her son’s just as simple. If a bear had his brains, it’d hibernate in the summer. 

Husband: Ok. So, what do I do once I see the dead grass?

Old Man: Make a left.

Husband: A left.

Old Man: Yep. It’ll be a narrow dirt road. Use to belong to the Harrises. Mean old farts they were. Place was in the family for generations. Use to be slave holders. You can still see the old slave shacks in the woods. Lot a people round here think those woods are haunted. Don’t know why your friends wanted to have a place out there. 

Husband: So once I’m on that narrow road I’m almost at their house?

Old Man: Almost. Your gonna cross an old wooden bridge. You’ll know your gettin’ close when you see the snake skins hangin’ from the trees. Don’t worry. It’s just the Pentecostal younguns. They belong to the snake handlin’ church near where Timmy Sampson’s body was. Those folks is all messed up. Think that handlin’ a poisonous snake shows how much faith in God you got. Yes sir. I tell you. They’re a bunch. The pastor’s son, he didn’t have much upstairs neither. He was mowin’ his yard barefoot and a copperhead bit him. Old Emma Lake saw the whole thing from her sick bed. Her bedroom window looks out over the creek and right at the pastor’s yard. She nearly broke her hip gettin’ to the telephone. She said that poor dumb boy sat there in the yard thanking the Lord for testin’ his faith. Well. I tell you, by the time the rescue squad got there that boy was stiffer than an oak board. 

Husband: Snakes huh?

Wife: Are you getting all this?

Husband: You mean you haven’t been writing this down?

Old Man: Ah, don’t worry. Once you cross that bridge you’ll see the Wonderly house. 

Husband: It’s Wonderby, not Wonderly. Thanks though.

Old Man: Hold on, now. Hold on. You said Wonderby?

Husband: Yes. Kim Wonderby. 

Old Man: Oh, ha ha. I knew that name was familiar. The Wonderbys. You go down this road about two football fields and you’ll see their house on the right. Can’t miss it. Big brick son of a gun. It’s on the old Miller farm where…

Husband: Thank you. Grrr. 

Wife: I told you their house was probably just up the road. But you never listen to me. 

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Melancholy Margo

Melancholy_Margo

Melancholy Margo stands at

the window

surrounded by all that

has gone.

Lost in her past she never

moves forward,

the present just tall

panes of glass.

Reflections of was and

shadows of if

confound her hopes and her

dreams.

Oh, dear Margo just one

breath of faith

would unlock your window of

pain.

 

 

 

 

Words and image by Til Turner 2018

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Vignette

I stood on the bank of a stream. A breeze blew through my hair. A voice called out to me, and I turned. My heart leapt, as it does when a friend greets you. I had not seen her in years, but we talked as if no time had passed. Her eyes were still wide, filled with hope, but now ringed from years of grief. She looked at the stream then back to me.

“I missed you,” she said.

“I meant to write,” I said.

The stream flowed by, and the sound soothed me. It washed clean the years of loss and brought back a chance to give all I had.

(This short piece is written only with one-syllable words.)

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Wednesday, 3:03 pm

The cat. The sidewalk. The heat. The smoke. The laugh. The window. The thought. The car. The tree. The cloud. The sky. The dream.

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Skid Marks

skid marks

The basement of my childhood home comprised the entire footprint of the house—thirty by sixty feet. In the corner just left of the staircase as you descended was the hollowed-out remains of an old riding lawnmower. My older brother had painted it green—a racing green I guessed. On a day when he was not jamming with his friends in his psychedelic band, I was able to compete for his attention and win. We took turns pushing each other in the makeshift go cart in a long oval the full length and breadth of the basement. The smooth cement floor marred with numerous long, black skid marks was a testament to the times my brother and I could actually forget the six-year difference between us and just let our mutual exuberance fill the cavernous bottom area of the house.

Now, as a middle-aged man, I can see the time together in all its dimension, like I could reach out, grab one of the long black skid marks, tear it from the burnished grey floor, and eat it like a strip of licorice as I watch my brother push me so fast that I nearly lose control, tipping the go cart up several inches so that only two knobby tires touch the floor. Best of all in those years was our hard laughter and for me to see him smile in a way that assured me that he and I were one, regardless of the many times he had told me to go away and leave him and his friends to their own laughter, which I could only hear from a distance while thinking how nice it would be when we would once again look at each other and grin before we headed downstairs, imitating sounds of racing cars.

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Sour Girl

A humble arrangement of mine of a Stone Temple Pilots tune that has been my favorite for  years.

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