There is No Such Thing as Too Much Barbecue by Jason Sheehan

I believe in barbecue 1 As soul food and comfort food and health food, as a cuisine of both solace and celebration. 2 When I’m feeling good, I want barbecue. And 3 when I’m feeling bad, I just want barbecue more. I believe in barbecue in all its regional derivations, in its ethnic translations, in forms that range from white-tablecloth presentations of cunningly sauced costillas, to Chinese take-out spareribs that stain your fingers red, to the most authentic product of the tar-paper rib shacks of the Deep South. 4 I believe that like sunshine [. . .] no day is bad that has barbecue in it.

I believe in the art of generations of pit-men working in relative obscurity to keep alive the craft of slow-smoking as it’s been practiced for as long as there’s been fire. 5 A barbecue cook must have an intimate understanding of his work, the physics of fire and convection, the hard science of meat and heat and smoke 6– and 7 then forget it all to achieve a sort of gut-level, Zen instinct for the process.

I believe that barbecue drives culture, not the other way around. Some of the first blows struck for equality and civil rights in the Deep South were made not in the courtrooms or schools or on buses, 8 but in the barbecue shacks. There were dining rooms, back yards and roadhouse juke joints in the South that were integrated long before any other public places.

I believe that good barbecue requires no décor, and that the best barbecue exists despite its trappings. Paper plates are okay in a barbecue joint. And paper napkins. And 9 plastic silverware. And I believe that any place with a menu longer than can fit on a single page – or better yet, just a chalkboard 10 The dashes are being used to add almost a side thought, or an interrupter which adds tone to the writing 11– is coming dangerously close to putting on airs.

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With heavy hearts… by Teri Orr

First, we grieve. 12

Two young boys, friends just 13, died here this week, days apart. They enjoyed their skateboards and dirt bikes and stuff newly teenage boys enjoy. They did not die from a car crash or a fire or a terminal illness. They died from bad judgement. From making a bad decision they thought they could outlive. There is no indication they meant to die from experimenting with a dangerous substance that they did not know was highly lethal.

There will be time enough for the conversations about drugs in our schools/our community/the times we live. Brutal, tough conversations, perhaps finally now, about the number of deaths in the past two years in our town, of young people under the age of 30, that were all opiate related. Deaths whose cause have been whispered about but not discussed. Because make no mistake — 2 these two boys were part of an epidemic here of massive drug abuse in our town among young people.

And there might even be blame to be dealt to who supplied the drugs to those children. We all carry a piece of the burden for not paying closer attention to the neighbor’s kid. Not asking questions when we understood there to be changes in their friends and lifestyle choices. There will be time for all those questions to be asked.

But for now, just for this week, we grieve. With one heart we mourn the dead child that could have been ours, because they all make questionable choices — even bad choices — and by some measure of grace most survive. We open our hearts to those moms and dads who will spend the rest of their lives grieving their sons, their boys who will not grow into men.

We need to stop talking about what makes a community and be a community. Nobody needs another casserole — they need compassion. A handwritten note. A single flower, hand delivered. A full-bodied hug. And what each of the families needs is that you not forget them — three weeks from now, three months, three years — after all the attention and stories have faded from the news cycle. 3

Every day the school is trying to educate students in the basic subjects and in basic living skills to keep them safe. The teachers work impossibly hard — Bob and Julie and Nancy — to provide them with educational tools and basic living tools, even, often, personal hygiene products. The superintendent, Ember, takes her tender heart to work each day and tries to find where fair intersects with fear. And how to help the students and teachers and parents navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. Our police chief, Wade, and fire chief, Paul, and our sheriff, Justin — and their staff — try to holster emotions and wrangle the real bad guys and redirect the real dumb guys. The delicate balance in a resort community is a complicated dance between law and leisure.

Mistakes kill us. And dumb decisions kill us. And ill winds kill us. And fate kills us. And old age. And disease. Adolescence wasn’t meant to kill us. Maim us a little, yes. Toughen us. Define us. Bruise us. Inform us. But never actually kill us. 4

And the platitudes….” You’ll feel better in time.” “God’s will.” “ Better place.” 5 Stop! 6 Just be sad with these families. Cry with each other. Acknowledge this is rare and abnormal and out of the order of the universe. Hold each other. Touch is good. Let your children see you sad. Let them see how it would break you to have them gone. Let them know they can talk to you about the messy stuff. Or they can talk to another adult. There are bunches in town — at school, at various organizations and churches and charities and the neighborhood — who are ready with a hug and a beverage and a conversation. Everything is fixable if you share the problem. It is the bottled up stuff that creates the pressure that seeks release.

We can’t heal if we can’t grieve. Hearts filled with heavy sorrow are painful but not empty. Young boys who lived among us just days ago are forever gone now and we need to grieve them — and grieve with — each other.

The boys were friends. Grant and Ryan. They belonged to us here in Park City. They grew up here. Played on our streets, rode bikes on the jumps, skateboarded uptown. They were floppy-haired boys in sweatshirts that last week looked like all the other floppy-haired boys in sweatshirts.

And now they are dead. 7

To everything there is a season, the Bible tells us. “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn …” This week we should allow sadness to cloud our conversations. We should acknowledge there are apparent mysteries that cannot be understood by a forensics report. Layers of mystery and decisions and judgements and perhaps eventually somewhere, grace. The grace that will lead us home. Together. Not yet, not today, but somewhere down a mountain road….some Sunday in our Park… 8

 

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Disappearing by Monica Wood

So I went back. And floated again. My arms came around and the groan of the water made the tight blondes smirk 9 but I heard Good and that’s the crawl that’s it in fragments 2 the redhead when I lifted my face. Through the earplugs I heard her skinny voice. She was happy that I was floating and moving too.

Lettie stopped the lessons and read to me things out of magazines. You have to swim a lot to lose weight. You have to stop eating too. 3 Forget cake and ice cream. Doritos are out. 4 I’m not doing it for that I told her but she wouldn’t believe me. She couldn’t imagine.

Looking down that shaft of water I know I won’t fall. The water shimmers and eases up and down, the heft of me 5 doesn’t matter I float anyway.

He says it makes no difference I look the same. But I’m not the same. I can hold myself up in deep water. I can move my arms and feet and the water goes behind me, the wall comes closer. I can look down twelve feet to a cold slab of tile and not be afraid. 6 It makes a difference I tell him. Better believe it mister. 7

Then this other part happens. Other men interest me. I look at them, real ones, 8 not the ones on TV that’s something else entirely. These are real. The one with the white 9 milkweed hair who delivers the mail. The meter man from the light company, heavy thick feet in boots. A smile. Teeth. 10 I drop something out of the cart in the supermarket to see who will pick it up. Sometimes a man. One had yellow short hair and called me ma’am. Young. Thin legs and an accent. One was older. 11 Looked me in the eyes. Heavy, but not like me. My eyes are nice. I color the lids. In the pool it runs off in blue tears. When I come out my face is naked. 12

The lessons are over, I’m certified. A little certificate signed by the redhead. She says I can swim and I can. I’d do better with her body, thin calves hard as granite. 13

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“Disarray (collection of drabbles) – Al: The One with the Crooked Jaw” By: 7Storm and Split Evan

The wind blew gently through the sparse trees, rustling the dry air and dusty landscape. 14

It carried stale scents of the watering hole, a desolate desert oasis, 2 with only a few skinny dry trees. The earth here was rock and arid.

Al opened one eye, glancing around the dusty land below, the empty watering hole. 3 He grumbled, raising his head to sniff. 4

He was a loner. Abandoned, 5 he would never reach adult size, but for now he was surviving well, however empty his stomach was, and with every day the ache in his shrunken belly hurt less.

The male stood letting out a gurgling grumble, stretching his legs, The watering hole was a lonely empty place, but he had gotten used to that feeling by now. 6

He lifted his beautifully teardrop-marked face to gaze around the land. His land. 7 His single shade tree up on the hill, the one under which he had spent his first night on his own when he was just a few weeks old. The day that changed – or more so ruined – his entire life. 8 A chill ran down his spine and his skin shivered, Al shook his head and rearranged his jaw. Horribly deformed, it had set him apart. The jaw was the one reminder he had, a promise for vengeance in the Tail-whip creature that had torn his life apart. 9 He ran a tongue across the scar tissue and malformed bones, narrowing his small eyes. But for now, vengeance could wait.

He trotted back along the lonely hot shore under the blistering sun, plopping down under the sheltering shade of his precious tree with a grunt, the coolness instantly making him close his eyes. His hungry gut quieted, and his mind slipped into the cool dark sea of dreams, away from the blistering lonely watering hole.

——–

He was a young hatchling again. 10 But not a comfortable child-hood memory of playing or snuggling with his fellow siblings like it should have been. 11 No, Al’s opportunity to that had been ripped away. Instead he lay there on the hard hot earth, pain making his vision blinding white. And the stench of fresh iron-smelling blood filled his nose, mouth, and pooled around his head in a dizzying amount. 12 Searing pain left his pupils just constricted dots. But soon his vision began to clear, the white light of pain faded only slightly. And who should be standing there but the towering shadow of his mother! His eyes brightened and for a second he forgot his pain, and cried out for her. The large female Allosaur looked down at her offspring, at how crooked and loose his bottom jaw, almost severed, hung. 13 She stood still, staring at what had become of her hatchling, the bloodied half dead mess he was. Her small eyes met his wide agony-filled ones that stared at her in anticipation of the comfort of her presence.

She turned away.

And left. 14

Maternal instinct only goes so far. 15

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In the Company of Truckers by Rachel Kushner

One summer in the late 1990s, I was driving across the country on Interstate 80, having just stopped to visit some friends in Des Moines.16 I was behind the wheel of a 1963 Chevrolet Impala I bought outside Asheville, N.C. The car ran well and was beautiful — champagne body with a cream top, no dents, no rust.2 It still even had these original plastic discs, like thin translucent washers, that fit between the window roller and the door panel to keep the upholstery from being indented or pinched. I was planning to sell it in Los Angeles, where a ’63 two-door Impala in such cherry condition was the ultimate low rider and worth a lot of money.

It was later than I had hoped, maybe 4 p.m., when I said goodbye to my friends. Everything felt fine despite the heavy sky, which seemed to turn almost black on the western horizon. I remembered what an Iowan, a guy named Johnny Coin who lived a bit like he was in the movie “Apocalypse Now,” said to me about the weather in that state: “It’s like Vietnam.” I was crossing into Nebraska when I hit a wall of rain. I slowed to 30 miles an hour as sheets of water poured over the car. Working heat and A.C., a functioning radio, weatherstripping, wipers — these things are luxury and civilization in an antique car.3 In a new car, in which everything is plastic and somewhat ugly and will break tomorrow, there’s no thrill to function.

But then there was no function: The car cut out. Cleanly. No sputter, just click.4 It was off, and slowing. By a stroke of luck, there was an exit just up ahead. I willed the car enough momentum to roll to the exit. It did.5 It rolled right into a truck stop.

I lifted the hood and stood there. It was getting dark. Several truckers came over to help.6 Theories were suggested, but no one seemed to know what the trouble was. A petite and wiry man walked up, grim-faced, carrying one of those Igloo coolers for six beers that was filled with a jumble of greasy tools. The others nodded in his direction and someone said, “There’s your man.”

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