Excerpts 

From:What Have We Become

I followed his description of the overwhelming human emotions that seized him alone in the cramped cockpit, puking from fear into the map case only to discover too late it was too small to hold it. Hallucinating --hearing his father berate him for getting himself  "into this goddamned mess." Screaming "Bullshit!" when one of the flight officers, trying to coax him into attempting another landing suggested  "Just think of it as the first time you rode a bicycle." Watching the fuel light flicker until it became solid red. In his words, the signal that "it was time to get the hell out of there."

He ejected. Exited the aircraft over a black ocean with no idea where he would come down or how he would survive if they couldn't reach him. Underwater, completely enfolded by heavy waves, he fumbled to find the toggle on his life vest. Unable to breathe, finally yanked it free and shot to the surface, wobbling side to side like an out-of-control elevator. 

From: Concerto for a Spring Night

Perry Howe was a dreamer. When his dreams faded, he tried to get them back with whiskey. More than once, broke and thirsty, he would find Beemo Manville's car on a whisky run with the trunk open. Before the bootlegger could get back to his cache, Perry had sneaked a gallon of moonshine and was off in the woods by the river where a chase would have been too much trouble. 

Everyone except the bootlegger accepted Perry for what he was---a dreamer and not much for full-time work. But he could do something no one else in the county could. He played the fiddle. He coaxed melodies from his old violin that stirred the rural folk to cheers and applause and shouts of "More, Perry!"

From:  The Man on the Ridge

Good days, Henry went about his work with his old enthusiasm. At other times--and there were many--the will to work, to hope, to believe in tomorrow, was pushed away by despair. But whatever the day might be, at the end of it Matilda would find him at the top of the ridge, staring at the distant county road for the lone traveler. If he were there, the traveler, looking up, would wave as he turned into the lane leading to the farmhouse.

One fall afternoon, when the sun was in no hurry to disappear behind the trees, when all of nature seemed to stop and breathe before dusk colored the west, he was there, waving at the man high up on the ridge. But the man, the one with sad eyes and the slump in his shoulders, knowing it was not to be, that bitter disappointment was all there was, all there might ever be, turned--disconsolate -- toward the house. 

From:  The Mavericks

"Aw Jeezuz, Cap'n. To hell with retribution. Ye oughta let me and my Osage trackers have 'im for a day or two." The old tracker smiled, his weasel face beaming with the happy thought of random violence. Brown teeth--spaced every other one on the lower jaw and alternately on the upper--meshed like gears when he closed his mouth, pushing his chin to one side or the other. 

Suddenly, he drew his knife, pushing the point against his own throat until a trickle of blood wandered down the blade. "See, Cap'n. This is what I'd do to Iron Jacket. Con nada solo mi puro belduque". (With nothing but my naked knife.")

Captain Edwards knew it well---having seen it before--the kind of behavior he could expect from a man who for weeks kept a severed Indian head in his bedroll to fend off Apaches. 

From: That Time Long Past

Moonlight sifting through tangled leaves wrote cryptic messages on the pavement and across his shoulders.  "The loop" at night was a narrow corridor of nature's noises: crickets and night birds singing in the thicket. Rustling foliage beside the road. At first, it was undetected, just another sound blending with those of the night. But as soon as Phil discovered it, it became intrusive. Distracted him from the rhythm of the run. It was unmistakable. Toenails clicked on the pavement behind him. Something was following him. Something big. And with unusual speed, it was closing in on him.

"Damn!" he exclaimed on a burst of air. "What the hell?" Without stopping, he tried turning enough to see his pursuer. In the moonlight, it was only a long, dark, frightening shadow, moving swiftly. 

Check on Amazon for works by D. D. Tarpenning. They're short reads...you could finish any one of them during your lunch hour. Read one--they're only 99 cents--and let me know what you think. I need reviewers!

© 2018 D.D. Tarpenning

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