Let Your Heart Be Broken

Not your mother’s love. Not your father’s love.

Not the love of family and friends–this love, blood love, is thicker than holy water. Still, we are hard wired to crave the love and passion of another. With Valentine’s day approaching, lovers are planning, and scheming to show their loved one creative ways to express their love. Some of us do it publically while others are more oblique. Cards, flowers, valentine candy, a teddy bear, a trip to their favorite romantic movie and a date to remember may be in the mix. These positive, beautiful expressions of love give us  another corporate holiday. Still for some, it is about the light of love, while for others (especially those who have loved and lost), love hurts. That’s the shadow side of love. Certainly its history, its mythology, is bathed in sadness, pain and loss. It was on this shadow side of love that Valentine became St. Valentine, the patron Saint of lovers.

Legend has it that Valentine, a priest and physician was imprisoned and put to death

because he defied the king’s orders not to perform marriage ceremonies for soldiers. The king believed marriage made soldiers into poor fighters. Valentine believed all who loved should have the right to marry. While in prison, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s blind daughter. After his execution, a love letter was found addressed to her, it read “love from your Valentine”. Two centuries later Pope Gelasius declared February 14th to be Saint Valentine’s day.

In Greek Mythology, passionate love is said to begin when we are wounded by Cupid’s arrow. This suggests that we must first experience love’s pain before we can experience its joy; that we must be open to hurt before we can experience real love. Many examples of this myth reside in our folklore.

Biological scientists have another perspective.

They discovered that the three major drives in love, including sex drive, attachment, and partner preference, are all controlled by chemicals in the brain. The primary chemicals (neurotransmitters, sex hormones, and neuropeptides) that govern these drives are testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin. Simply stated, chemicals are the basis of love. The chemicals trigger and are responsible for passionate love and long-term attachment. Individuals who have recently fallen in love show higher levels of the chemicals in the brain. That explains the sweaty palms, the sleepless nights and intense focusing on the lover.

But chemicals fizzle and weaken and we need more than their diluting reaction to keep relationships strong and vibrant. At that point, love is as love does. We need to have learned to be faithful, kind, attentive, cooperative, dedicated, consistent and loyal. With the chemicals acting alone, relationships will be distant, chaotic, painful and perilous, producing what we all call  broken hearts. And broken hearts hurt. And, yes, love hurts but it and life are not over. We have to grieve and move on.

So, what’s a person to do?

  1. Know your heart is not really broken, it just feels that way. And so do many other parts of your body. It’ll heal and if we can believe the experienced (Those who have loved, lost and thrived), it’ll be stronger in all the broken places.

  2. Allow yourself to grieve. When you do, you’ll discover what’s truly important to you and you’ll be able to find your true purpose in life.

  3. Avoid the bitterness trap. Anger is a very powerful emotion. It can keep you locked up for a very long time. Let it go because it won’t let you go.

  4. Find the good in everyday. You’ll improve because of your actions, not just your feelings.

  5. Stimulate the release of your endorphins with movement. A gym membership is a nice Valentine’s Day gift to yourself.

  6. Vow to love again. If revenge is what you want, the best kind is to live a good life.

 

Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She lives and writes in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.

 

Feature photo, “White Cosmos Flower On Field” by criminalatt, courtesy of Free Digital Photos

They

First published in Brick Street Press “Mississippi’s Got Talent” Winners Circle Anthology, Second Place Winner

HE

The gun felt as light as a dust mote in Sam Branton’s hand. He had held it to his head, in his mouth, and against his heart, wondering what it would feel like to die. The room he sat in spoke nothing of why he was there. It was the same study he had worked in for years, the same study she had come into every night, delivering his icy cold Coors in one hand, holding her glass of Merlot in the other. Directly across from him was the same chair where she sat, legs curled beneath her. She had loved watching him finish his last bit of work in this room she had decorated in dark leather, iron and glass.  Original canvas art hanging on the cream-colored walls allowed the only true splashes of color into the room. She had known him so well—plain, a bit old-fashioned, conservative inside out—and yet she always found the splashes of color in him. She loved him with a fierceness to the very end.  Her quiet, serene love brought peace into his chaotic world of constructing buildings of steel, stone and glass where roaring, pounding machinery and shouting crewmen devoured the air.

Now, this quiet room only provided the space and privacy he needed to do—ask the same question he’d asked ever since she drew her last breath. Why her?  Why not the scum crouched behind a bush waiting to steal some old lady’s purse? Why not the crackhead who killed his own mother over ten dollars. Why? Why?

Now this space was too quiet, and his temples throbbed. Until Sara’s death, he had not realized how many sounds she had made: her classic music traveling and settling in each room, pots and pans clinking in the kitchen, her steam iron spewing, broom swishing, drawers opening and closing, her furry slippers shuffling across the floor, even the slightest movement in her chair across from him. Never had he noticed the sounds of her love until they were gone.

Still, it was her bath water not running at precisely eight o’clock every night that drove him mad, the absence of her humming and the warm water trickling over her bare skin. Her voice scented their home like a lover’s serenade and he longed to hear it again. He needed to hear it again.

How could her heart have stopped? Stopped. As if it clocked out because the job was finished. His moans alarmed him and he aimed the gun again, firing all six shots.

The holes in the ceiling gaped at him and he ignored the sheetrock spilling down like sand. At least sound penetrated his existence again. But silence quickly returned. It always did.

SHE

The stranger approached Regina at Macy’s east entrance, introducing himself as Sam Branton. His face was strained, but something in his tired hazel eyes prompted her curiosity and she listened to the story stumbling from his mouth. Sam Branton. The name was familiar, but she couldn’t place it.

“How did you know I’d be here?” she asked.

“Frank Baylor. A mutual friend, I believe.”

Frank? Why would Frank risk his reputation as a supposedly happily married man, pillar of the community and church to help this man?

And why did this Sam Branton want to be in her elite circle of men? The question got the best of her and she didn’t like that feeling because in her business she had to maintain control at all times.

“I’ll make it worth your while,” he said. His eyes belonged to a child begging for a too expensive gift at Christmas.

But she didn’t need this man’s money. She had invested well, thanks to Frank, making sure that when her looks finally gave out, her money would not.

“I take it we share the same investor,” she said.

“That—and more.”

What could that mean? She questioned his mental stability, but wondered more about his motive.

She said, “I’ll meet you at The Bay Restaurant at six o’clock tonight, but I’m not promising anything.”

“I am,” he said before walking away.

HE

The face in the mirror startled him. He rubbed his clean-shaven chin and wondered when he had gotten so old and stern looking? His hair was almost completely gray now and three ruts remained between his brows even when he tried to relax. He had lost weight, but at least the long hurried late-night walks had kept him fit. What did it matter anyway? Women like Regina looked at the wallet, not the face.

How had he arrived at this sick point? Hiring a prostitute, of all things. Lying on the bed he pressed his face into Sara’s pillowcase that hadn’t been washed going on—no, it couldn’t be a year. Not yet. Her scent barely lived anymore within the fibers, but what remained was enough and he breathed it in as if it contained all the oxygen he needed.

SHE

Okay, so Sam Branton is rich. Sinfully rich.

At her table in The Bay Restaurant, Regina sipped lemon water and refused to glance at her watch again, wishing that she hadn’t agreed to do this. She had her quota of four well-to-do men, four pillars holding up her world. She paid her taxes, had been honest with the IRS, except the part about being a business consultant, thanks to William, her accountant, and one of the select few. She didn’t need anyone else. Actually, she didn’t need anyone.

Sam Branton followed the maître d’ to the table. Regina sipped again, patted her lips with the linen napkin, and returned it to her lap.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, pulling out a chair. “Thank you, Wilson.”

The maître d’ bowed. “Very good, sir. Shall I bring the wine list?”

Sam nodded before looking at Regina. “I thought you might back out.”

“I’m not the backing out type.” She smiled to prove her confidence.

Wilson delivered the wine list and waited to take their orders.

“May I order wine?” Sam asked.

He was too mannerly, no telltale signs of domination that money often wrought. She forced her usual smile that was now like a late night rerun.

“Just water for me, please, with lemon.” She decided it was either madness or pain that emanated from his eyes, but was she willing to find out which one?

 HE

That first moment he saw Regina sipping water at the table, he had ached to embrace her. “Sara,” he wanted to whisper. Then he had the impulse to flee. But to where? Back home to tear through the hiking trail, the way he usually did, until he spent his energy. No. He was going to do what he set out to do. He always finished what he started, and, by God, he’d finish this—if she allowed him to.

She said, “What did you have in mind?”

Her face was Sara’s, but not her voice, being deep and much too smooth, controlled to the point of iciness. But when she smiled, a knot swelled in his throat. The teeth were straighter, whiter, maybe a tad larger, but it was Sara’s smile.

“Weekends,” he said.

“I’m booked on weekends.”

“Okay.” He’d said it too fast, but he didn’t care. “Sunday through Wednesday.”

“But…”

“$5,000.00 a week.”

“What?” When her voice rose, she sounded more like Sara.

He cleared his throat. “$5,000.00.”

He sounded like a desperate madman, but he didn’t care. He’d spend six, seven thousand to see Sara’s smile again.

“For how long?” she asked.

Her eyes weren’t enthusiastic like Sara’s. In fact, they looked more like his had earlier that day in the mirror, determined to survive, but so close to giving up.

“Not long,” he said.

 SHE

He had told her not to pack, that he would buy what she needed, but she packed anyway, her way of saying, “I am in control.” She refused the car he offered to send for her, another way of controlling. So why did she feel out of control?

Sam Branton wasn’t crazy or at least hadn’t been until his wife’s death, according to the information she had gathered. He was a successful real estate developer, a multi-millionaire who had built condos along the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast at the ideal time. Now, he constructed casinos along the Gulf coast. Word had it that he no longer went to his Chattanooga office, but worked from crew to crew, like he was really trying to work himself to death.

For a second, sympathy tugged at Regina, but every man had something to grieve: a demanding wife, a daughter dating the wrong boy, a lazy son who’d never amount to anything, or a demanding business that probably caused the other problems.

As Regina packed, her thoughts swarmed inside. She hoped Sam Branton’s house had lots of windows and bright colorful walls like her condo. She needed light. No blinds and heavy drapery for her. Never again.

His home in the Chattanooga Mountains was no disappointment. She had expected monstrous and luxurious, and discovered comfortable and chic. He glanced at her bag and she clenched the handle as she followed him.

“Here’s your room,” he said, flipping on the light.

“My room?”

The large, square room housed a king-sized sleigh bed, two iron bedside tables, antique dresser, and armoire that served as an entertainment center. The walls were cheery yellow, the floors glossy oak. Outside the picture window an enormous oak danced and mountains scraped the intensely blue sky. Somehow she knew that was what Sam Branton wanted to do, reach up and retrieve what was rightfully his.

That night, on a barstool in the kitchen, sipping a glass of lemon water, she asked the question, “Exactly what do you want?”

His heels clicked across the Italian tile to the cabinet over the sink where he retrieved a glass, wiped out the inside, stuck it under the spigot, filled it with water, and drank. With each swallow, his Adam’s apple jumped. What else he was trying to swallow? He set the glass on the countertop, picked up a dishtowel, and wiped his mouth. The overhead light reflected in his eyes.

He said, “I want you to make sound.”

 HE

She had handled him better than he thought she would. Somewhere, she’d learned to be a fighter, but that was not his concern.

She had asked, “What kind of sound?”

And he named them, “Music, sweeping, cooking, singing, you know, sound.”

“You want me to clean and cook?”

“I want you to make sound.” He didn’t mean for his voice to crack and become hard.

“I see.” She drank her water down.

“And,” he added. “At eight sharp every night, I want you to start your bathwater, fill it with bubbles, light the candles, and relax to music.”

Regina’s brow lifted into a quizzical arch and he trembled. Sara had also done that when amused or skeptical.

“And you’ll be joining me?”

He grabbed his same glass, filled it again, but didn’t drink.

“I will enter the room, ask how your day was. You’ll tell me.” Again, he swallowed that relentless lump. “Then, I will leave you to your bath.”

 SHE

And that’s what he did.

Candlelight flickered around her, forming a lighted walkway inside the mirrors around the tub. He sat on the edge and his shadow shuddered on the wall without mirrors.

“How was your day?” he asked.

It sounded so normal, like a husband might say to his wife after a long day. But what did she know about normal? About marriage. About husbands and wives. Relationships. She closed her eyes. “Strange,” she said. “And yours?”

His silence made her wonder if she had angered him, but she didn’t open her eyes. Through the speakers, an old Sinatra song played, “When I was seventeen, it was a very good year…”

She forgot about Sam Branton and hummed to the music. The sponge swelled with warm water and she squeezed it over her face, water trickling off her skin. When she opened her eyes, he was gone.

That night, in bed she thought about how Sam had walked away from her nakedness. The ceiling fan twirled above, cooling the night air. Maybe he didn’t want to snuff out loneliness the way other men did. This frightened her, because if he didn’t want her physically, how could she control him?

Regina remembered her mother, how she had no control, scurrying about trying to catch up on unfinished tasks only to stop before she finished. Beds were never made. Dirty dishes stacked up. Cobwebs gathered along with every promise she’d made to Regina.

“We’ll go to the movies tomorrow, just you and me, okay, Reg?”

They never did.

No, there was that one time they went to see, oh, what was the name of that movie? Her mother had gone to get popcorn and in the lobby had run into Luther, a previous boyfriend. She left with him, returning in a drunken stupor hours after the movie was over.

“Don’t be mad,” her mother had begged.

As much as Regina had wanted to hate her mother, she couldn’t. Her mother tried to squeeze love out of men like juice from citrus. But they were as dry and bitter as persimmons.

The shades in their small house were always drawn. Burned out bulbs were never replaced. Dark. Gloomy. Like their lives. Late at night, her mother’s weeping would burst into Regina’s room. Or it might be the screaming and cussing before the latest man left her mother. Or the raw groaning sex that sounded like two dogs stuck together.

One night, silence woke Regina and she knew her mother was gone. That silence gave a sixteen-year-old girl the determination to use before being used, to control before being controlled. Unlike this strange man who craved sound to make life bearable, Regina yearned for silence that might one day turn into peace.

 HE

His silence remained until Regina returned on Sunday afternoon. He was amazed at her ability to simply—be. Though her boldness was so unlike Sara, he realized without that boldness this arrangement would not be happening.

He listened. Pots and pans clanged. Water boiled on the stove. Regina shuffled from one area to another. He wanted to watch her, but settled on closing his eyes, imagining Sara preparing garlic roast and twice-baked potatoes, cheddar bubbling on top.

“I brought you a Coors.”

His eyes popped open to see a bottle wrapped in a paper towel, icy mist floating out the top.

“Thank you,” he said.

The bottle cooled his trembling hand, and, as he drank, bits of ice floated down his throat.

From the kitchen, she yelled, “I’m trying this new recipe I saw in Woman’s Day. It looks divine. A red sauce with Italian sausage served over linguini. Do you like Italian? I didn’t think to ask.”

Food was not something that mattered to him anymore, but he answered, “Sounds great.” He listened to the sausage sizzle. The mixture of garlic and tomatoes pervaded him. Andrea Bocelli’s Come Un Fiume Tu played through the sound system.

At the dinner table, Regina talked while he listened.

“There was a pile up on 127 today.”

“Really?” he asked. Her ease fascinated him. It was as if everything that interested her must interest him as well.

“Three were killed; five are in the hospital. Seven cars were involved. Can you believe that? Seven.”

“That’s too bad.”

She nodded and bit into her garlic bread, chewed, washing it down with lemon water. “Life can be snuffed out just like that.” She snapped her fingers.

His heart jerked and he rose abruptly. “I enjoyed it,” he said. Ignoring her confused look, he retired to the guest room that had never been used until his wife’s death.

At first, he had planned on Regina using the front bedroom, but when she arrived the first day carrying that bag, her chin held high like Sara’s, every bit of logic flew out the window. So he gave her the master bedroom, the bed where he and Sara had held each other every night.

At eight o’clock, the sound of running water called him. At five after eight, he sat on the tub.

“How was your day,” he asked.

She laid back, closed her eyes. “Peculiar. But not too terribly so.”

Bubbles snuggled around her neck. In the background, Canto Della Terra played. She must really like Bocelli. Sam lingered until he was sure her hums carried across the hall to him. Then, he stretched out on his bed to listen.

SHE

Around two a.m., she switched on the lamp, rose, walked over to the dresser, and opened the top left drawer. Inside were white bras and cotton panties intended for small breasts and hips, much in contrast to Regina’s fuller breasts and round derriere. The drawer squeaked as she closed it. She opened another drawer, finding soft cotton gowns. She pulled one out and held it against her. Regina didn’t wear cotton, choosing instead enticing silk lingerie.

In the mirror, she saw Sam in the doorway, watching. She looked away, embarrassed to be holding his dead wife’s cotton gown against her. When she looked again, he was gone.

HE

Weeks quickly passed. Too quickly. They had shared a total of 36 days. Regina had arrived on Sunday as usual. In the kitchen, she rambled on about the deal she’d gotten on sirloin, griped about the squishy oranges, and boasted about the sandals she’d gotten on sale at Macy’s. Sam pulled a pot from the hanging rack, seeing the ingredients to their now favorite dish, linguini smothered in Italian red sauce. Regina shuffled from the counter to the refrigerator and back, adding important news, knowing where to find every pan, spice, and dish.

“How did the grand opening of Her Majesty’s Casino go?”

“Larger than anticipated,” he answered.

“That’s wonderful.” She stirred the browning sausage and onion. Spicy aromas saturated the kitchen. “Did you win much?”

“Let’s just say I didn’t lose.”

She emptied the grease into a container. “That’s all that matters.”

For the past weeks, Sam Branton had gone to the office every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, accepted phone calls, and answered mail. He had even used his sudden re-emergence like a mischievous boy, enjoying it, stirring it up. For the office, he bought new computers and installed a stereo system. He was sure everyone wondered if he was into opera now because Bocelli boomed from the speakers. Today, he’d even given the staff a day off.

When had the change taken place? Was it when Regina’s steps relaxed into a stroll? Or when she giggled when she spoke, her controlled voice finally giving in? Or had it been when she had jogged with him through the mountainside, not bothering with makeup, dressed in sweats, her hair in a ponytail? Afterwards, they had stretched out in lawn chairs on the patio to read, him a Michael Crichton book, hers a Jane Hamilton. She flicked her nails as she read, the pages sounding crisp as they turned.

“I love the quiet,” she said, pouring a drink from the pitcher on the table between them.

“I love the sounds that the quiet makes.” His eyes never left his book as he spoke.

Now when she smiled, her eyes seemed to respond, and he felt sure it was the first time in many years. Every time he thought of that abandoned teenage girl she once was, he hurt for her.

The prior days had brought nights of remembrances, confessions really, short and slow at first, but then becoming detailed, drawn out, as if with each one, their confessions grew with their trust. He finally shared his motives for hiring her, how he had seen her at Frank Baylor’s reception celebrating his newly built office that Sam’s crew constructed. He had watched her, studied the way she mingled with others and yet comfortably stayed to herself. He had wanted to introduce himself that night, but he couldn’t get up the nerve.  So, he contacted Frank, “and the rest is history,” he told her.

She told him about never knowing who her daddy was, and quitting school at the age of sixteen after her mother had left her.

“I got tired of broken down cars, rundown apartments, and sorry men,” she said. “Seemed like every girl I knew had been left to take care of three or four kids, while their men started over with new women. Some of my friends clung to sorry men like my mama did, not caring if the men beat them as long as they stayed.” She paused, like the past held her down like a heavy boot. “I know what I chose was wrong, but at the time, it felt, not so much right, but better.”

He had felt the rousing then, but the change hadn’t come until his question, “How was your day?”

She had gazed at him and touched his hand. “Absolutely wonderful.” Then, she lay back and closed her eyes.

That night, he walked through air that was thick and humid from gathering clouds. Hours later, he wiped tears and rain from his face, feeling drained but cleansed, as if life could carry on now.

In the dark, he pondered these things. He had promised Regina it wouldn’t be for long.

It was time to let her go.

 SHE

Darkness enfolded her, but she wasn’t afraid. Earlier, he had chuckled at something she said, his eyes lighting up as if someone had lit a match. What was it she’d said? Oh, yes. She’d told him about the little girl in the grocery store who, every time her mother looked away, pulled an item off the shelf, and threw it into the buggy. The mother didn’t notice until she was checking out. Sam’s laughter had thrilled her as no touch had ever done.

Sara’s picture had shocked her at first. Except for Sara’s dishwater blonde hair, and Regina being taller and meatier, they could’ve been twins. Sam confessed that this had been his motive for hiring Regina. But was how she’d dealt with her pain any different from how Sam dealt with his? Any better? Any more sane?

In the pictures of Sara and Sam, Regina saw an equal love, each giving the other so much that neither had to steal from the other. She admired their determination to stay together through difficulties: the bankruptcy in the first few years, the slow climb back to success, their inability to have children, and Sara’s fragile heart. He couldn’t embrace anyone else because he still clung to Sara and his devotion couldn’t be swayed.

Devotion.

It really did exist.

Regina hadn’t planned to stop seeing the others. It just happened. And each good-bye was a stone removed from the doorway she had to step through to be free.

Sam had never kissed her, only grazed her hand, or brushed past her. His simple question, “How was your day?” had touched her where no other man could.

 HE

She entered the kitchen, carrying the same bag she’d brought that first day. But this time, she was leaving for good. The lump had returned to his throat and he had swallowed it all day.

“I’m flying to England. Lancashire,” she added. “I’ve always wanted to walk across Duddon Valley in autumn. The heather moors and birch trees should be glorious this time of year.”

As she spoke, he pulled out a glass, wiped the inside with a dishtowel, and filled it with ice and water. He squeezed in a lemon, and handed it to her.

“I’m most looking forward to Birk’s Bridge near Seathwaite,” she said.

He had known she wouldn’t stop talking when he handed her the water. He also knew she’d say, “Thank you,” before she sipped, while shifting her weight to her left foot.

Silence came. They stared at each other.

“I’ll be leaving tomorrow as well,” he said. “First stop, Taiwan, then on to Tokyo. New venture in architecture software.”

“You’ll do very well, I’m sure.”

At the same time she said, “I guess…” he said, “I’ll….”

They paused.

He came closer, wiped away her tears with his thumb. “Where will you be staying?” he asked.

“I don’t think that’s wise, Sam.”

He nodded. Then, he kissed her cheek, even though he wanted so badly to taste her lips. But it wasn’t time.

Not yet.

SHE

His lips were soft on her skin, his breaths dependable, like the rustling newspaper in his hands every afternoon, the flick of the remote every night, the cough clearing his scratchy throat, and the yawn when he was tired. Sound—constant, dependable. That’s what he had longed for. Now, she wondered if she could return to silence.

She took one last look at the kitchen, the stove he and she had cooked on, the dishwasher he and she always loaded together, the refrigerator she opened to get his beer and where he had gotten ice for her glass.

She. He.

They.

She had arrived to change his life and he ended up changing hers. She thought of sweet Sara, knowing they would meet one day. Sara would thank Regina for saving her husband, and Regina would thank Sara for sharing him.

“I better go,” she said.

“Regina?”

The doorknob felt icy cold, but she didn’t let go. “Yes?”

“Next time, it will be you I come for. Not Sara.”

Regina stood in the open doorway knowing she could believe him. It felt good to trust someone. He would find her—in time. But first, they both had to find themselves.

She smiled and said, “Until then.” And she left the door open behind her.

By Richelle Putnam

 

Feature photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos and Danilo Rizzuti

Slow Waltz with Southern Oak

While Kentucky is traditionally considered the master of bourbon,

when old timers began distilling it, the Bluegrass State was a county in Virginia. So it’s no surprise that just outside Fredericksburg, Virginia, a small distillery practices the time-honored art and science of making fine bourbon. Each barrel aged at A. Smith Bowman responds to the seasons, while the spirit inside acquires tenor and taste in a slow waltz with charred oak.

Bowman’s small batch bourbons are currently distributed in 19 states and London, England, yet are still bottled by hand and they never combine more than eight barrels. For comparison, Maker’s Mark, another award-winning bourbon, combines about 19 barrels for each batch. A. Smith Bowman enjoys a growing reputation. “We’re attracting visitors to Fredericksburg from as far away as Maine and Florida and we get international visitors,” says tour guide Mary Ahrens.

In 2013, both John J. Bowman Single Barrel Virginia Straight Bourbon and Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon were awarded gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a blind tasting by industry experts of more than 1400 entrants.

George Final 2American Spirit

The history of the Bowman family is uniquely American. After serving in the Revolutionary War, Abraham Bowman and his four brothers settled in Kentucky. Abram Smith Bowman was born there in the late 1800s and moved to Indianapolis as an adult, finding fortune with a transportation company. When the city bought him out in 1927, he purchased a farm in Northern Virginia called Sunset Hills. He used leftover grain to distill spirits. After Prohibition was repealed, he built a modern distillery in Fairfax and named it after his farm. In 1988, the distillery moved to its current location in a former manufacturing plant just off route 2 across from the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds. It’s a small operation with a handful of employees. Although they sold their share in 2003 to Sazerac of Metairie, Louisiana, the family that gave this distillery its name serves as a reminder of a tradition generations in the making.

They distill twice a year, in the fall and the spring.

“That’s how the old timers had to do it,” Ahrens explains. “They had to cool their still before there was refrigeration so they had to do it when the streams were running. They could count on it.”

While continuing to make the spirits that built its reputation, Bowman looks to innovate. Master Distiller Brian Prewitt worked with Vendome Copper and Brass Works, in Louisville, Kentucky, to design a custom-made still. This month, a 24 foot tall, 500 gallon hybrid pot made to Prewitt’s specifications was assembled at the distillery. Its features will allow Bowman to experiment with flavor profiles and to take over the entire process of distilling vodka and gin, which until now have been distilled off site and bottled in Fredericksburg. Named “George” for the father of the Bowman brothers, it will make its inaugural run in March. George sits alongside “Mary,” the longtime still named for the Bowman matriarch. “We want to have the capability to try anything and everything, and with George, we should be able to do just that,” Prewitt said in a press release. “We’re excited to do some experimenting, try new things and continue to make great spirits here at A. Smith Bowman Distillery.”

Honorable Tradition

Federal law requires that bourbon be made of at least 51 percent corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof, with no additives other than water and yeast. A. Smith Bowman’s recipe includes malted barley and rye. After several days of fermentation, the solids and the liquids are separated and the solids are fed to cattle.

The liquid mixture is then pumped into the still. After distillation, only the “center cut” – what the distiller determines is the highest quality – is used. Each barrel is filled with 53 gallons and hammered shut with a wooden mallet.

For a whiskey to be called “bourbon,” it has to be aged in new charred oak barrels. “We want an oak that’s going to be pliable enough to make into a barrel and porous enough that it’s going to interact with the whiskey,” Ahrens says.

Bowman gets their barrels from Independent Stave Company in Lebanon, Kentucky, a company that has supplied makers of bourbon and wine with hand-crafted barrels since 1912. ISC company sends buyers into Arkansas to select white oak from the Ozark Mountains. The wood is milled into staves which are then dried for 18 to 24 months in open air. After that, the cooper constructs the barrel using techniques first developed in feudal England. Finally, the interior is “toasted” with a 1300 degree propane flame to give them four degrees of char.

The spirit goes in crystal clear.

During aging, the oak relaxes in summer months and contracts in winter. This interaction with the wood develops the spirit’s color and taste. John J. Bowman single barrel bourbon is aged 10 years; Bowman Brothers is aged seven years.

Durindistilleryg aging, some of the alcohol seeps out of the barrel bringing wood deposits with it. This “barrel candy” seals the barrel. While each barrel is different, up to 65 percent is lost in the aging process to evaporation, what is known as “the angel’s share.”

There are more than 5000 barrels currently aging on the property. Finally, after being brought from the aging room, makers extract the bung and empty the barrel into a tank for filtration. Every four to six months, they release bourbon limited editions named after the patriarch Abraha

Bowman’s oaky, concentrated flavors are earning a growing reputation that may force the company to revise their bottling process. They still bottle one at a time.

Cinderpoo by Cesca Janece Waterfield

Cesca Janece Waterfield is a writer originally from the Northern Neck of Virginia. She is fascinated by the history of the rural south and is currently earning her MFA in Creative Writing in southwest Louisiana. Contact her via http://cescawaterfield.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Murder in the Myrtles (PG)

Crape myrtles lining Grant and Terri Coleman’s driveway seemed to wilt in sorrow.

Their dog Buster, soaked with blood, chased the coroner’s van down the dark wet street carrying his masters’ bullet riddled bodies past terrified neighbors, dressed in house robes and slippers. This was not supposed to happen in the Garden District of New Orleans where tourists walk the streets and take photographs of antebellum mansions and browse quaint little art galleries.

Homicide commander Captain Jack Fontenot, of the New Orleans Police Department, (NOPD) stared into the void of the Crescent City fog. He said nothing, and then gazed at his subordinate officers as if he were trying to wake up from a very bad nightmare. His greenish pale face, and glazed eyes baffled his fellow cops. They had never seen their captain rattled or emotional at a crime scene.

A few feet from where the bodies were found, (NOPD) Sgt. Marti Lance called to her boss, “Captain Fontenot…Captain Fontenot are you okay?”

“I’m fine, just been in this business too damn long,” he said running his hands through his thinning hair.

“Looks like Grant and Terri Coleman returned from the bar association awards around eleven o’clock and walked in on their killer. From the way the bodies were lying, I would suggest he was hit first. It looks like Grant threw himself between his wife and the shooter. Crime lab officer Phillip Landrieu said. “Double-O buckshot. No sign of robbery. White powder in her purse appears to be cocaine. Blood spattered their flesh and blood and brain matter on the wall. Worse damn mess I ever saw.”

“Can’t imagine Terry Coleman being so dumb as to have cocaine. Send me your lab report ASAP, Phillip,” Fontenot said. “And tell Kip Houser, he’s free to go, but not to leave town.”

Fighting back anger and tears, Lance said, “They were both dead they before they hit the floor.”

“We have to get to Leo Coleman before the reporters do. How did they get here so fast? Damn police scanners, ought to be against the law!” Fontenot said.

Fontenot and Lance worked their way through the crowd of onlookers and reporters, and then sped away with blue lights flashing and sirens blaring, clearing the way for veteran homicide detective Jack Fontenot’s most dreaded mission of his twenty-seven year career.

+++

They say Leo Coleman was two men in one, wrapped in a three hundred and sixty pound package;

to his opponents on the football field, a bone crushing nightmare, but to his family and friends, a gentle giant. But standing among the tombstones and crypts at his son’s and daughter-in-law’s burial, Leo found himself fighting with himself, with the Lord, and with Satan to keep his giant heart from turning to stone, and his blood from turning to ice-water.

Leo cradled his six-year old granddaughter in the bend of his massive arm while Kip’s umbrella sheltered her from the cold rain. Leo wiped the tears from her eyes, and said, “Go with Grandma. Grandpa has something to do.”

“I’m scared Grandpa. You will come back won’t you? My mommy and daddy never came back from the banquet.”

Leo kissed his granddaughter. “Nothing can keep Grandpa from you sweetie. I’ll be home in time for dinner. Promise.” He told his wife, “I have to go to the airport. Kip will drive you and Little Robin home. The priest will be with you too.”

“But Leo why can’t you—?”

“Do as I say. I’ll be along soon,” Leo snapped.

When Leo spotted Yancey Turner at the Delta Terminal at New Orleans International Airport, he said, “Yancey, it’s been too long.”

The two old friends embraced. Leo’s hubcap-sized hands dwarfed those of his old quarterback teammate. Their handshake was long, but their small talk was short. Yancey Turner was ready to take care of the business he came to New Orleans to do.

Leo tossed his keys to Yancey and said, “you drive. I hate to drive in the rain.”

“Don’t like to drive in rain? I remember the way you drove at Ole Miss, the same way you played football. Full speed ahead, rain or shine.” Yancey said.

“You can stay with Louise and me, and you can use my car.”

“No. I have reservations at the Holiday Inn in Slidell. Best we keep our distance, but I’ll take you up on the car. I bought four Trac-Phones. Those are all we’ll be using. If you and Louise have smart phones keep them turned off. Same goes for Little Robin if she has one.” Yancey said.

“Tell me, how is it being a big city Washington D.C. private eye?”

“Not as glamorous as you might think. Nothing like the TV dicks, all work and no play.”

“Sounds like professional football,” Leo shot back.

Leo laughed for the first time in four days as they reminisced about their college days,

but his demeanor changed with his next breath. Tears cascaded from the eyes of a man who was big enough and powerful enough to squeeze the life out of any man. His hands trembled as he wiped his swollen eyes. His voice weak, his words slow but deliberate, he said, “You know why I called you, so let’s get to the point. I don’t care what it takes, or what it costs. I want you to bring me the head of the son-of-bitch who killed my son and his wife. Money is no object?”

Before turning onto Airline Highway toward Kenner, Yancey stopped Leo’s Lexus and said, “Let me get to my point too, Leo. Your money’s no good with me. I’m a private investigator, not some gun slinging bounty hunter. If you want their murderer brought to justice, I’ll find him, and I’ll turn him and the case over to the proper authorities, but if you want him assassinated, I’ll turn around and catch the first plane back to Washington.”

Leo’s voice became louder to be heard over the rain pounding on the roof of the car. “You think I’m some kinda dumbass? You know me well enough to know that nothing would make me any happier than killing the bastard with my bare hands, but I have a granddaughter to raise.”

“What does your gut tell you about the murders? Was it because your son married a white woman?” Yancey asked.

“I don’t think so. Interracial marriages are no big deal here in New Orleans.”

“The FBI says Grant knew too much and the New Orleans Police did it. Maybe a drug deal—hell I don’t know. But do I know neither Grant nor Terry was involved in dope? Hell they donated a million dollars to the rehab center last year.”

Yancey looked in his rear-view mirror, and spotted a plain-jane Ford Crown Vic on his bumper and asked Leo, “what do the NOPD detectives drive?

“The one I talked to drove a Chevy Tahoe,” Leo answered.

“Do you know of any reason anybody might want your son and his wife dead?” Yancey asked.

“All I know is what the FBI told me. They said they still don’t know who the killer was. I’m sending Louise and Little Robin to stay with my brother in Atlanta. They’ll be safe there”

“Good move, you need to go too.”

“No way, I’m not leaving ’til the killer is caught.”

“Very well Leo, but my first stop will be the NOPD in the morning, and you’re not coming with me.  But first I’m raiding your liquor cabinet.”

+++

In the homicide bureau of the New Orleans Police Department, Jack Fontenot and his team reconstructed the crime for what seemed like the umpteenth time. Each time, Kip Houser was the only person they could put at the scene.

“Captain Fontenot, the Times Picayune is on the phone,” Marti Lance said.

Fontenot gritted his teeth and said, “Tell them I’ll call them back. If those damn reporters don’t get out of my face, I might be facing a murder charge. They want a suspect, but we’re not giving them one till we know for sure who it was. Not one word about Houser outside this office,” Fontenot ordered.

“We have company, Captain,” Marti Lance said.

Raised eyebrows and suspicion greeted Yancey Turner as he strolled his six foot three inch frame into the precinct office, “My name is Yancey Turner,” he told the uniformed female at the desk.

Jack Fontenot, interrupted, “I know who you are, Mr. Turner. You’re the former Ole Miss All American quarter back, turned Secret Service agent, turned private investigator,” the detective said.

“Then you know why I’m here.”

The detective instructed the desk officer to make any and all public records available to Turner. Turning away from Turner, he made it obvious he had nothing else to say to Yancey.

“Got minute,” Yancey asked the homicide detective.

Jack Fontenot focused on the file folder in his hand, and said, “Mr. Turner, I’ve had maybe four hours sleep in as many days, and I still have a murderer to catch, and you can tell Leo Coleman, the NOPD had nothing to do with Grant’s and Terri’s murders. The officer has your copies ready. They’re fifty cents each. Good day Mr. Turner.”

“Detective, why the hostility toward Leo Coleman? I know he makes no secret that he thinks the NOPD was behind the murders of his son and daughter-in-law. The man’s grieving, he’s confused. Hell, he doesn’t know who, or what the hell to believe, but I have to tell you, you’re not making it any easier for him to believe otherwise,” Yancey said.

Fontenot lit a Viceroy and said, “I have nothing against Leo Coleman, except that he’s from Shreveport, Louisiana and chose to play football at Ole Miss instead of LSU. Go figure!”

“Well he did come home to play for the Saints. Doesn’t that mean something?

Fontenot paused and with a subdued chuckle said, “Okay step into my office, you have one minute,” he said.

The detective closed the door, and sat in a chair in front of his desk, close to Yancey. He spoke barely above a whisper. “Mr. Turner, I know what Leo Coleman told you, but this police department had nothing to do with those murders and I’m not going to say it again.”

Yancey fanned Fontenot’s cigarette smoke from his face and asked, “Then who did kill them?”

Fontenot exhaled a cloud of smoke, rolled his eyes and said, “If I knew that, you wouldn’t be here, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But I can tell you this, there was no physical evidence at the crime scene that did us any good. There was cocaine in Terry’s purse. But according to the medical examiner, neither she, nor Grant had any in their blood. Strange! The shooter left the weapon lying on the floor beside the bodies. No prints, no nothing. Whoever it was, knew how cover their tracks.”

“Who reported this to the police?” Yancey asked.

“Kip Houser. A washed up football defensive lineman and family friend of the Colemans. Grant and Terry both liked the booze. His story is that he drove for them that night. After he dropped them off after the party, he said he found Terry’s cell phone on the car seat, and went back to give it to her. Dog was going crazy when he got there. Front door was open, that’s when he found the bodies.”

“I know Kip, and the timing doesn’t look too good for him. Is he a suspect?” Yancey asked.

“Every son-of-a-bitch in New Orleans is a suspect.”

Detective Fontenot handed Yancey his card and said, “Careful out there. My private cell phone number’s on the card if you need me.”

“Why the sudden change of heart, detective?” Yancey asked.

“No change, just a word of caution. I have enough to deal with, without a dead x-Secret Service agent on my hands. If you’re smart, you’ll forget this, and have a bowl of Louise Colman’s gumbo, then head your Ole Miss ass back to DC,” Fontenot answered.

+++

Kip Houser mounted his Harley Davidson and headed east on the Chef Highway, when a purple crotch rocket pulled alongside him.

The two bikers showed off, popped wheelies, each trying to outdo the other on their showroom clean machines. When a red-light caught them, the rider of the purple bike sent a hollow-point from a 357 Magnum to Kip’s head.

The purple crotch rocket disappeared into the jungle of East New Orleans traffic, while helpless and horrified onlookers stared at Kip’s lifeless body lying beneath the overturned Harley. They could tell the police little about what appeared to be just another New Orleans drive-by shooting.

+++

At the Bayou View Café, Yancey gazed at his watch. Kip should be here by now, he thought. After two beers, he ordered the red-beans and rice, hardly taking eyes off the police report, until Leo called his cell. “Kip’s dead. Shot while riding his motorcycle on the Chef Highway about fifteen minutes ago.”

“I’ll call you back Leo,” he said, and hit the end button on his iPhone when a man dressed in a business suit parked himself at his table as if on cue. Yancey knew the signs. The sunglasses, the cropped hair, and most of all the dead-pan expression on his face, spelled FBI.

“I’m Special Agent Roberto Garcia, FBI,” he said and shoved his credentials in Yancey’s face.

“I know the drill and I know the protocol.  Why have you been following me since I stepped off the plane?” Yancey asked.

“Of course you do, former agent Turner, and you know I ask the ques–.”

“Don’t try to play the game with me. I knew the rules when you were still in diapers. Why have you been following me?” Yancey asked again.

With his chin raised and his jaws tight enough to bite a railroad spike in two, the FBI agent called the waitress over and ordered coffee and a beignet, and said, “I can save you a lot of trouble Turner. If you’re smart, you’ll be on the next flight back to D.C.”

“Sorry Agent, but the NOPD beat you to that line earlier today,” Yancey said.

“We know who killed Grant Coleman and his wife, as well as Kip Houser.”

“Want to share that info with me as a matter of professional courtesy?” Yancey asked.

“I’m surprised, Mr. Turner. You mean to tell me you don’t know the NOPD narcotics division was behind all this. They made it look like a drug deal gone bad. Planted cocaine on his wife.”

“Why? What the hell was their motive?” Yancey asked.

“Coleman was a damn good lawyer, and so was Terri Ann. They were getting too close to the narcotics division’s little game of setting up young boys for bogus drug deals,” Garcia said.

“Terri Ann? Funny thing! I never heard Leo or Louise call her Terri Ann,” Yancey said.

“An old habit, I always refer to murder victims by the first and middle names,” Garcia said.

“Sure you do. Now what about Kip Houser?” Yancey asked.

“He was their trigger man. They had to silence him when you got here.”

“By the way Agent Garcia—Kip Houser was shot less than an hour ago, how did you know about his murder so soon?” Yancey asked.

Garcia took a sip of his coffee and said, “it’s my business to know.” He stood up, adjusted his sunglasses and walked out, leaving Yancey with more questions than answers.

Yancey chuckled and called to Garcia, “Don’t worry about the coffee and the donut. I’ll take care of it.”

Yancey found Fontenot’s card and dialed, “Do you know FBI agent Roberto Garcia?”

“So you met Agent Garcia? How were the red-beans and rice at the Bayou View?” Fontenot asked.

+++

Leo’s cell rang, Yancey calling.

“Everybody from the FBI to the NOPD knows our every move. They might even be listening to us now. Leave now. Drive to where Little Robin and Louise are staying. Don’t use a credit card for anything. Cash only for gas, food, whatever.” Yancey said.

“Can’t do it Yancey. Remember the time Arkansas had us down by three points with seventeen seconds left on the clock?”

“What the hell does that football game have to do with it?” Yancey asked.

“You think you could have run that touchdown if I hadn’t opened the damn hole for your ass?”

“Leo. Get to hell out of New Orleans! Sometimes you have to take the bench for the sake of the team,” Yancey said.

After a long silence Leo said, “I’ll call you when I get there.”

+++

“I’ve been wondering how long it would take for you to show up in my office, Turner. How could the Bureau be of service to one of America’s finest, or should I say, former finest?” Garcia asked with a strong hint of disdain in his voice.

Yancey opened his notes from the NOPD and took more time than he needed in order to locate the report he was looking for. “Ah, here it is. According to the report, Grant Coleman and his wife were shot multiple times with double-O buckshot. Doesn’t look like a hired hit to me. More like a revenge, or a rage killing. We both know, professionals like to keep it clean, quick and quiet,” Yancey said.

“But Kip Houser was no pro,” Agent Garcia said.

“He was no psychopath either. What makes you think it was him? No history of violence—except when he got his hands on some poor quarterback. He was loyal to Leo Coleman. Leo took care of him after he got hurt and had to quit pro football.” Yancey said.

“He was kicked out of pro-football for using steroids,” Garcia shot back.

“The NOPD hired Kip Houser to kill the Colemans and I can prove it,” Garcia said.

“Of the all needle popping, cocaine snorting disposable pieces of shit in New Orleans they could have hired, you’re trying to tell me the New Orleans Police hired Leo Coleman’s best friend to kill his son and wife. Bull-shit, and you know it.” Yancey said.

“He had a gambling problem. The loser bastard was up to his ass in debt. It’s that simple.” Garcia said

“What federal laws were broken? “Nobody seems to think this was a hate crime, in spite of the racially mixed marriage.

“The NOPD was directly involved. We were about move in with a RICO charge.”

“This was no paid hit, and Kip Houser was not your man. Now I’d like to speak to Agent Pakowsky,” Yancey said.

“Agent Pakowsky is out. Sick with a cold, or something. Probably be back in a day or two,” Garcia said.

“Or something?” Yancey asked.

+++

After his twenty hour day, Yancey returned to the Holiday Inn in Slidell and called Leo.

His tired eyes strained to find the numbers on his cell phone. “All I have is a stack of papers from the New Orleans Police, and bullshit from the FBI. But I can tell you this, the New Orleans police had nothing to do with it.”

“Then who did?” Leo asked.

“I don’t know yet, and it’s not going to be easy to solve. If I only had a motive.” Yancey said. “Is there anything more you can tell me?”

Yancey wanted to ask Leo more about the murders, but he could tell by the tone of Leo’s voice that he was getting irritated. “I’ll call you back tomorrow,” Yancey told him and then went to the restaurant for dinner.

The Wednesday night crowd was sparse, and the bandstand was empty in the Slidell restaurant. Yancey’s tip hungry server seemed more than happy to keep cold beer in front of him.  She said, “your shrimp should be out shortly.”

He wasn’t expecting company for dinner when an attractive brunette, fiftyish looking woman and dressed in business attire found his table and introduced herself. “I’m Abigail Dunn, I am, or was, Terri Coleman’s secretary. Leo told me how to find you.”

“Now that you’ve found me?”

“The FBI agent, Roberto Garcia, he and Terri used to date when she was in law school in Dallas. He was stationed at the Dallas FBI office. When she broke of their relationship, it got ugly. After she married Grant and moved to New Orleans, he followed her here, and began stalking her—mostly in the form of phone calls to her office,” she said.

“FBI agents don’t have the privilege of moving around at their will and pleasure,” Yancey said.

“If their father is a buddy with the Attorney General, they do,” Abigail said.

“What did Grant think of all this?”

“She never told him. He would have hurt Garcia. She didn’t want that.”

“You’re taking a hell of a chance, being here and telling me this.”

“I can take care of myself,” she said.

“Would you like to order dinner or something to drink?” Yancey asked.

“I’ve had dinner, but I’ll take a Jack and Coke.”

“Lucky for you. Worse shrimp I ever had. Taste like some of the shit you get in D.C.” Yancey said.

“I’ll take you to Emeril’s for dinner tomorrow evening,” Abigail said.

+++

The ten o’clock meeting in Jack Fontenot’s office was a little more cordial than the day before.

“I know you’re not here for coffee, Mr. Turner, but from the look of your roadmap eyes you could use a cup.” Fontenot said.

Yancey forced down the New Orleans coffee and chicory and asked Fontenot, “what did the witnesses at the Kip Houser murder scene tell you?”

“Not much. The shooter was riding a purple crotch rocket. Some guy said it was the same color as the crape myrtle trees in the Garden District. Shot one time, and hauled ass. Whoever did it knows the city. Three scenarios, A, the shooter grew up here, B, he studied the streets well and planned his getaway, which I doubt, or C, law enforcement. No prints, tape on the handle and barrel, just like the shotgun used in the Coleman murders. This guy knew what he was doing.” Fontenot said.

“All this sort of gives credence to the FBI’s theory, doesn’t it Detective?” Yancey asked.

“I didn’t say cop. I said law enforcement,” Fontenot said.

“Garcia?” Yancey asked.

“Maybe, but no record of Garcia owning a motorcycle. But one of my detectives, Sgt. Martie Lance, has learned that Agent Garcia used to date Terri Coleman when she was in law school. She broke up with him and started dating Grant. The breakup got nasty. According to her confidential informant Agent Garcia had been calling Terri at her office.”

“I had a visitor last night. Do you know an Abigail Dunn?” Yancey asked. “What she told me backs that up. I think we need to talk to Agent Garcia.”

“Before we start questioning an FBI agent for suspicion of murder, we better make damn sure we have our ducks in line,” Fontenot said.

Yancey took another sip of his coffee, laughed, and said, “don’t be intimidated by the Feds. They are an arrogant bunch of airhead bastards.”

“You ought to know. I’ll arrange a meeting with Garcia and make it look like we want to cooperate with their investigation. That should loosen him up a bit,” Fontenot said.

+++

In the conference room of New Orleans Field Office of the FBI, file folders and laptops  cluttered the table in front of the meeting between, Garcia, Fontenot and Turner. Their meeting started a few minutes early. Turner knew the early start was a sign of nervousness for Garcia. One of the FBI intimidation tactics is to keep others waiting, starting meetings late and dropping meaningless hints about what they know and what they don’t know. All this was a sign that Garcia was so ready to get it over with that he strayed from his training and protocol.

“I’m happy to see you’re finally willing get to the bottom of this case, Detective Fontenot,” Garcia sneered and rolled his eyes toward Yancey Turner.

Garcia pointed to the screen on the wall and said, “I have prepared a power-point presentation on the case for your convenience.”

“Before we get started, Agent Garcia, may I ask do you own a motorcycle?” Fontenot asked.

“A purple crotch-rocket to be exact,” Yancey said.

“What the hell are you two getting at?” Garcia asked.

“You know exactly what we’re getting at,” Fontenot said.

Garcia slammed his laptop shut and shouted,

“I don’t know what you two sons-of-bitches are implying, but this meeting’s over.”

Fontenot jumped to his feet and pointed his finger in the face of the FBI agent and said, “this meeting is over when I say it’s over Agent Garcia. Your FBI badge doesn’t mean a damn thing when it comes to murder in my town. You can cooperate with me here and now or surrender your weapon and we’ll finish this discussion downtown.”

+++

Detective Fontenot handed Sgt. Lance a court order to back up the orders he was about to give her and said, “I want a twenty four hour surveillance on Agent Garcia. I want to know his every move, his every phone call, and his every breath, if that’s what it takes to nail that bastard. There’s a hole waiting for him at Angola and I want him in it. The sooner the better. But for now, I have a shooting. The victim asked for me.” Fontenot told his staff.

+++

“A locksmith. He’s one lucky son-of-bitch. Not hit that bad. He’ll live. You can see him,” the doctor said.

In the emergency room, Fontenot asked the victim, Thomas Saucier, if he knew who shot him.

“I don’t know her name, but it was the same woman who hired me to get her into the Grant Coleman home the night they were murdered.”

“Why did you let her in the Coleman home? Yancey asked.

“Am I in trouble Capt. Fontenot?” Saucier asked.

“I ask the questions. Why did you let her into the Coleman home?”

“She paid me.”

“What did she look like?” Fontenot asked.

“Don’t know. She never took her helmet off.”

“Her helmet?

“Yeah. Motorcycle helmet.  One of those blacked out face guards.”

“What kind of motorcycle was she riding?” Yancey asked.

“I don’t know that either. It was one of those little streamline jobs that goes real fast. Purple, like the crape myrtles in the Garden District.”

“Oh, One more thing Detective, the woman who hired me to open the Coleman house—she spoke with a husky voice. She sounded like she had a bad cold or something,” Saucier said.

“I’ll deal with you later.” Fontenot told him.

+++

“How did your meeting go with Fontenot and Yancey Turner?” Mickey Pakowsky asked Garcia.”

You crazy bitch. Look at what you’ve gotten us into,” Garcia answered.

“What I got us into?” she shouted. “If you hadn’t been hung-up on that damn whore, this would not have happened. Terri Ann this, and Terri Ann that. She’s all you could talk about. I gave you everything, but no, you said we couldn’t be together. It would violate Bureau policy. Bullshit! Policy had nothing to do with your half-ass excuses.”

“Why the hell did you have to kill Kip Houser? He wasn’t a player in this game?” Garcia asked.

“The more people we get out of the way, the safer we are, darling.”

“You’re crazy, you need help. I’ve covered for your crazy ass for the last time,” Garcia said. ”and don’t call me darling.”

“If you’re smart, you’ll follow me toward Houma, and let’s ditch the bike in the bayou,” she said.

+++

Sgt. Lance called her boss and told him the pair of rogue agents were headed west on Highway 90. Fontenot called the Louisiana State Police (LSP) and requested backup outside the city on the highway, and he and Yancey made a mad rush to beat them to the bridge at Des Almonds.

“Damn, you’re scaring the hell out me, Fontenot,” Yancey said as he blew past two cars with blue lights flashing.

“LSP didn’t have a unit close enough to assist. If we can get to the bridge before they do, we’ve got them. And I don’t know if they’re in front of us or behind us. They got away from Lance.”

Fontenot spotted the purple crotch rocket approaching in his rear-view mirror, and told Yancey, “that’s her, but she made us, and she’s about to turn around. Garcia’s right behind her.”

Spotting Fontenot’s unmarked Tahoe, Mickey Pakowsky slammed on her brakes. Her bike skidded out of control, and off the road unto the muddy shoulder.

“Oh, shit!  She busted her ass,” said Fontenot.

Mickey rolled and tumbled on the soggy earth, but got up on one knee, shaking, blood flowing from her nose and with her weapon drawn. Garcia stopped his Ford just short of running over his partner with Lance on his bumper. She blocked his car from behind. The trap was closed as Fontenot brought his cruiser nose to nose with Garcia’s Ford. Garcia emerged with his hands up.

“Freeze, and drop the weapon,” Fontenot shouted at the female FBI agent.

Her insane eyes focused on Fontenot’s weapon. She dropped her shoulder, lowered her gun and said, “Don’t shoot, I surrender.”

“Drop the weapon now,” Fontenot shouted again.

Pakowsky nodded in the affirmative, but then in an insane rage, turned and fired. Garcia’s head exploded from the 357 Magnum. Before Fontenot could fire, Pakowsky put the gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger.

“Damn.” Fontenot said. “I really wanted to personally deliver that bitch to Angola myself.”

+++

At the gate of the New Orleans Airport, Leo Coleman’s giant hand again engulfed the hand of his former teammate.

Little Robin asked Yancey, “Are you a real private investigator?”

He answered, “I’m just an old friend of your grandpa’s.”

Louise Coleman hugged Yancey and said, “We can never thank you enough. Next time you come down, I’ll be at home and fix you a bowl of my gumbo.”

“No thanks due me, but I will accept the gumbo. Thank Jack Fontenot. Oh, and Louise, please drive Leo home. He hates to drive in New Orleans in the rain, and besides that, he drives the same way he played football at Ole Miss.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging Up Roots

Genealogy is a rewarding hobby that you can do alone, or with another family member, or with a friend.

I still continue my family history search I began several decades ago.  Why? I have two members who have evaded my search. The leads may have dried up, but I haven’t, because somewhere they left a record behind. I intend to find it. It takes a sleuth to uncover evasive members of a family, but you genealogists know that we leave no stone unturned until we find the lead pointing in the right direction.

Think of genealogy as solving a family mystery because that’s exactly what it is.

If you love mystery, genealogy is for you.  Family historians like you will be pleasantly surprised at the information gleaned about ancestors in federal, state and county records.

How do you begin?

Begin with yourself, because in genealogy you always work backwards. This is the first tip to uncover your family history. However, there is form to download for free for personal use only from the New Zealand Society of Genealogist Inc. (Click this Link for a family group sheet.) Bookmark the link on your computer’s browser. Once you’ve printed several copies, include all the known information on family group sheet. Use the back of the group sheet as a source sheet for information gained on each individual listed on the group sheet.

Information to include on a family group sheet: full name, date of birth, and place of birth. If you are married, include the spouse’s full name (include maiden name for all females), date and place of birth and the name of parents. Fill in the blanks with documented facts, name, age, date of birth, place of birth, name of spouse, children, and so forth.

Now, for your second group sheet you will include the same information for each of your siblings. Then, bounce back a generation to your parents, then grandparents, and then great-grandparents, including all documented information.

If your grandparents are living, this is the perfect time to interview them. Take several blank family group sheets with you and ask the following questions: full name, date and place of birth, their parent’s full name, date and place of birth and their children. Record the interview to easily get all the information given about family members and the individual’s life story.

Next, enter the information given about each of your grandparent’s siblings, which includes the full names of children and date and place of birth. On a separate group sheet, include each of your grandparent’s parents, siblings and other information discovered during the interview.

Stumped?  Part 2 will appear on Friday, February 21, 2015. The topic will cover census information. Part 3 will cover Bureau of Land Management Records.

June Davidson

 

Mississippi Signposts

There is something like magic in a good book.

Some are like living, breathing voices with the capacity to change the reader’s life. Good books can crack open a door to let you see a tiny bit of someone else’s soul and help you to understand people in another place and time. The reading of a book somehow causes words to turn into faces and places as they tattoo themselves inside the reader’s mind.

It’s a mystery how this happens, but I know that skillful writers have drawn pictures in my head. Years after I’ve read their stories and the pages are yellowed and frayed, images are still etched in my mind. There’s also something like a map with signposts inside my brain. When I read a story, I have to connect it with some place I’ve been. Since I’ve lived in Mississippi most of my life, I suppose it’s natural to have lots of Mississippi signposts standing inside my head. For instance, when I read A Time to Kill by John Grisham, maybe I was thinking about the author and a story I’d heard about him writing while sitting on the courthouse steps? Nevertheless, a picture placed itself in my head of a man aiming a gun at his daughter’s rapist on the stairs of the courthouse at Oxford, Mississippi. Now when I visit the old-fashioned square in Oxford, I find myself looking up, trying to see inside the second story window of the court house on the square.

Union Station in Meridian, Mississippi, is one of those signposts.

I can’t pass those train tracks without remembering the story of a young woman stepping from a train, searching through the terminal, and then darting into the woods. Helene lives within a tiny corner of my mind because Toni Morrison put her there. When I read Sula some years ago, I became, for a moment, a young woman with skin not white enough to enter a public restroom in a train station governed by white folks. I could almost experience pressure upon my bladder and feel the panic of having no place to go for relief. So now when I drive up Front Street in Meridian, I search for trees and tall grass. I see only buildings and train tracks today, but my eyes will always search for a safe place for Helene to rest. And I will question again why it was that kind of world back then. It’s funny I don’t remember the rest of the story or the other characters in Morrison’s novel, just Helene and her urgent need for a rest stop.

When I drive along The Natchez Trace,

a signpost pops up in my head with a voice that says, “Look out there in the woods. Can you see Phoenix Jackson?” And I’ll find myself searching for a little black woman with a red rag tied around her head. I’ll think about the dress she wore and her shoes that needed to be tied because she couldn’t bend down to tie them herself. I can even see her walking down that Worn Path the way Eudora Welty described her, “moving a little from side to side, with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grandfather clock.” I want to stop the car right there and go searching for that little grandmother so that I can tie her shoes. And if I could find her, I would follow Phoenix Jackson home and tell her that she was very brave and that people should have respected her. I would go inside her shack and try to comfort her little grandson who swallowed lye.

I’m acquainted with William Faulkner’s novels.

But it’s his short stories that have impressed me most. One could never forget “A Rose for Emily” or his story about the Mississippi Flood of 1927, a tale to ponder forever. From “Old Man”  these words etched indelible images in my head:  “…chained ankle to ankle and herded by armed guards…they had plowed and planted and eaten and slept beneath the shadow of the levee itself…but many of them had never seen the Mississippi River until the flood of 1927..” When I visit the Delta and see the levee against the river, I recall those men in leg-chains, their eyes staring at the ground, never looking up because their minds were bound in strong chains too.

I have read stories that made me hear and feel and see more clearly.

My mind now contains a rich treasury of characters and ideas set in courtrooms and cotton fields, train stations and riverboats, mansions and shacks. Mississippi is the place where writers have drawn pictures in my head and tattooed their words inside my heart.

 

By Virginia Dawkins

 

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Everywhere I look these past few weeks, there are Valentine’s Day reminders to celebrate love.

Shop windows and stores display red roses, candy, cards, and other trinkets to remind us to pay attention to the ones we love. Hallmark moments prompt lovers to do something meaningful to show each other they are loved. It’s nice to give and to receive these tokens and gestures of love. Love is a beautiful and powerful thing. If you let it, love will be your light in the darkness-the truth that allays doubt.

According to licensed psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle, an associate professor and coordinator of Clinical Experiences at South University, West Palm Beach, “Falling in love is associated with increased energy, narrowing of mental focus, sometimes sweaty palms, light-headedness, racing heart, and a lot of positive feelings. Specific chemicals such as oxytocin, phenethylamine, and dopamine play a role in human experiences and behaviors that are associated with love. They function similar to amphetamine, making us alert, excited, and wanting to bond.”

Love can give you a ton of energy.

It can make the difference between feelings of happiness and well-being and feelings of depression. Loving someone can see you through uncomfortable situations and inspire your creativity. Many people will tell you that they could not have gotten to where they are in this world without loved ones by their side. Love is powerful and compassionate and can aid in the healing of many ills.

However, there is a shadow side of this wonderful gift of love.

Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with it. The focus on things like cards, candies and flowers perpetuates the myth that love can somehow be bought. The bigger the gift; the greater the love, and that for the right price, you can experience true love. Also, for too many people, love has become synonymous with sex. Some people don’t know the difference. With sex you can give your body without giving your heart. Almost anyone can do that. Love demands heart.

Then there are those who are operating on the assumption love is some mysterious thing that just happens to us and over which we have no control. Consistent the old Blues song “Love will make you drink and gamble–make you stay out all night long…” We fall in love and from that point on, we’re helpless and powerless over it’s influence. Yes, love is powerful, but we choose to love. We must choose loving behaviors to sustain it.

What’s a Person to Do?

  1. Extending your love to another person is something that shouldn’t be confined to one day in the year. We can show our support, care, understanding, encouragement and affection at any time and to anyone.

  2. We must realize that Valentine’s Day has so little to do with love. Love isn’t a gift that can be exchanged. Love is so precious and so pure; it can be given and received but never bought.

  3. Love does heal, but only up to a point. You can’t solve someone else’s problems, and they can’t fix yours. You have to step up to the plate and take care of yourself the best way you can. Love will help to give you the courage. A loving heart heals, but, so does persistence, knowledge, generosity, imagination, and hard work.

  4. Love exists in all of us and so does fear of pain. Getting through this life requires us to use a judicious amount of both. The brave amongst us are courageous enough to take the plunge and give our hearts. By protecting our hearts, the rest deny the very essence of our selves. Mother Theresa is quoted as saying, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything.

The fabric of our lives is woven from strands both dark and bright. Treasures are found when we weave the light and dark strands into something useful and beautiful that is not for ourselves alone. Love gives entrance into what it means to be human. May this be so for you.

 

Dr. Rachell Anderson is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a private Clinical in Springfield for more than 40 years. She now lives and writes in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles.

 

Featured photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong and Free Digital Photos

Delta Blues

THE DELTA

(Black, White and Blues)

SAM_1776

 

Flatlands stretch endlessly

Toward the horizon

As far as the eye can see;

Rich, black soil

Yields endless rows

Of blinding white wonder

On fertile ground

That gives birth to the blues.

2012 Patricia Neely-Dorsey

My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems

 

THEM BLUES

SAM_1751

Somebody’s always singing

Them Monday Morning blues songs

Them sho’ nuff done me wrong songs

Them stayed out all night long songs

Them moaning, groaning love songs

Them bear your heart and soul songs

Them feel it in your bones songs

Them make you weak and strong songs

Them letting go and holding on songs

Them totally yours and mine songs

Them everybody knows songs…

We ALL love them blues…songs

2012 Patricia Neely-Dorsey

author--

Life is Good in Linden, Alabama

 

City employee and Linden resident Bruce Ward loves to talk about his hometown.

“The traffic count is very large in Linden,” said Bruce. “People have to come here to take care of their tags.” One of the biggest draws to Linden is the local Papa’s Foods known for its meat department. “They actually still have groceries taken to your car. They’re very generous at Chilifest time to the community.”

Marengo County was established in 1818 and the “Town of Marengo” was surveyed close to the center of the county to serve as county seat. When lots became available in 1824, the early French immigrants named the town Hohenlinden for Napoleon’s victory in Bavaria in 1800. In time, the name shortened to Linden.

Located in West Central Alabama where U.S. Highway 43, and Alabama Highway 69 and 28 intersect, between Demopolis and Thomasville, Linden serves as the County seat for Marengo County and coordinates its events with its neighboring towns. A forty-year tradition has Marengo County residents and tourists going to Demopolis the first weekend in December for Christmas on the River and to Linden the next weekend for their famous Chilifest.

“Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson was one of the (2013) chili judges,” said Bruce. “We try to include Demopolis a lot.” (See Demopolis, AL feature here)

Chilifest includes a concert, vendors, a car show, Christmas parade of lights, a cornbread cook-off and the famous Chili cook-off. “It’s really neat to see what people come up with and create,” said Bruce. “The fireworks are wonderful.” Chilifest welcomes many tourists each year. “In the 2010, Southern Living and Alabama Living listed us as a top-ten event,” said Bruce. 380272_10151291654237074_503560682_n

Linden is much like any small town community.

“We have two schools, one private and one public,” said Bruce. “Football is big for both.  The private school last year won the state championship (2013).  That was a big deal.  Baseball is a big deal.  All sports are big, but especially football and baseball.”

In Scott Park where the ballgames are played, people can picnic in the pavilions while watching their children on the playground.

Just outside of Linden, fishing and hunting are popular outdoor activities.  Marengo Lake is 5 miles south of Linden, explained Bruce. A lot of people go camping at Miller’s Ferry.

11467_10151694233667074_1847339835_nThe Summer Carnival and art walk often happen at the same time.  “The art Walk has been successful,” said Bruce. “It’s really neat to see what people have done.”  Linden has a pretty big artist community, but Bruce said it’s unfortunately not utilized like it should be as far as music goes. “Most special music events are usually in the churches.” The Art Walk brings people into Linden because the artwork comes from around the county. “The Art Walk has really helped people see what’s in Linden,” said Bruce.

The Linden Nutrition Center offers seniors a place to eat while they mingle and converse. Various meetings are also held at the center. Linden residents attend the theatre in Demopolis, which Bruce advertises on the Linden Facebook page.

“We have a very informational channel that started out as a Linden informational channel. It’s on our cable here in town,” said Bruce.  “We worked with the Demopolis Chamber to get the information channel up there and I renamed it the Area Informational Channel.” Bruce updates this information at least every other week depending on how much information he receives. Bruce also works with Thomaston located about 11 miles east of Linden to help advertise Thomaston’s annual events on the Linden Facebook page, which has really grown.

The history of Linden remains strong in many of its structures. “The historic courthouse is still standing and the old hospital, but neither are very well taken care of,” said Bruce.  “The old hospital near the courthouse is for sale.” 552603_10151011837842074_2061888822_n

It is said that in the early 1800s when court was in session at the first two-story log courthouse, the town became so rowdy that it earned the unofficial name of Screamersville.

“Something that a lot of people don’t know is that we have Rube Burrow,” said Bruce.

“In the 1890s there was a gunfight between him and Sheriff Dixie Carter.”

The story began in Lamar County, Alabama on December 11, 1854, when Reuben Houston Burrow was born. After struggling and failing as a farmer in Texas, Burrow grew to be one of the most hunted outlaws since Jesse James. Burrow and his gang robbed express trains in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, the Indian Territory and Texas from 1886 to 1890. Lawmen and even the Pinkerton National Detective Agency pursued Burrow and his gang throughout the South. Sheriff Jeff “Dixie” Carter, with the help of a few Marengo County Residents, caught Burrow on Dec 7, 1890 at George Ford’s cabin in the Myrtlewood Community, Marengo County, Alabama. Carter carried Burrow to the jail in Linden. The next morning when Burrow said he was hungry, a not-so-smart jailer handed Burrow his bag which contained a gun. Burrow escaped jail and went in search of Sheriff Carter, who had taken Burrow’s money.  He waited for Carter outside of the general store. When Carter came out, they exchanged gunfire. Though Carter was wounded, he shot and killed Rube Burrow in the streets of Linden, Alabama.

Today, Linden is a quiet, quaint town of sidewalks where family afternoon strolls are safe and fun.

The town’s motto, Life is good in Linden, rings true to its community and to all who visit.

A few local favorites:

Papa’s Foods -The local small town grocery store that has been around forever, and even still has bag boys.

Charley Burl’s – Coffee, gifts, flowers, and goodies! It’s a place that just makes you feel happy, and makes the rest of your day a little brighter.

The mission of Linden is to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Marengo County, Alabama. The community strongly supports existing business and industry, as well as the development of new business and industry, while maintaining the integrity of our community and preserving our historical resources.