The Bullied Newsboy


Giovanni spit a honker on Houston Street. Damn that Western Union boy. The only gold he ever saw, his precious tobacco, half spilled on the ground. Giovanni tried to look casual as he plucked himself up off the dusty street and replaced his cap. Why was he always picked on? The rolling of a cigarette would take his mind off the embarrassment.

He sat down outside Sommers corner drugstore, his preferred spot. Here he could watch the comings and goings from all directions. San Antonio was his for the taking. The biggest city in Texas just didn’t know it yet.

The fur nudging against his back made him jump. Damn, he was jittery. Turning around, he patted the head of the scruffy dog. Even the coarse fur of a flea infested mutt felt good after a little bullying and a long day’s work. Rising early, collecting papers from the office and bundling them into stacks to haul to his corner meant the day started at four-thirty in the morning. Now mid-afternoon, his workday had come and gone.

“Hey, buddy, don’t you have somebody looking for you?” he said, the dog settling down next to him.

The drawstring of his cloth tobacco sack hanging from the side of his mouth, Giovanni sprinkled part of what was left onto the rolling paper. Sometimes he would break the rule and, instead of accepting money for his newspapers, he’d bargain for tobacco and rolling papers.

Packing the tobacco neatly onto the paper was easy. Rolling it with one hand was the hard part.

Porca miseria!” he said, loud enough to scare off the poor mutt, his rolling papers torn. The Italian words came out before he could stop them. He’d had enough of bullies the first part of the day, and being called a “wop” wouldn’t be a good way to end one.

Excerpt from Naked, She Lies by C. Dennis-Willingham

Casual– Daily Word Prompt

Dog food Sandwich

Scooter grabs my hand when we head home from school. “Angry, angry,” he says.

“You’re angry Scooter? How come?”

Farter’s angry.”

I’m about to ask him how he knows when the Great Stupid Gatsby Franken-Farter rushes up behind us.

He shoves my shoulder and breaks my hold on Scooter.

“You’re a real scam, aren’t you, Enema?”

I brush his germs from my arm. “What’s eating you?”

“You thought it was funny, didn’t you?”

He’d finally done it. He ate the dog food sandwich.

Scooter backs away and starts mumbling. I reach in my satchel and hand him my yo-yo to take his mind off things. I’ll untangle the string Later.

Excerpt from the Moonshine Thicket




Miss Primrose rings the dismissal bell but catches me on my way out. “Emmy June? Your mother’s been gone how long now?”

“Almost three weeks.”

“Well, I was wondering if Theo, you and your daddy, would like me to come over. I’ll cook for you.”

“Thank you, Miss Primrose. I’ll be sure to let you know.”

She smiles like she’s won a battle. But she doesn’t know the Crawford Alamo is heavily fortified, and Santa Ana Primrose won’t stand a chance getting inside.

Outside, Scooter and Frank are waiting for me.

“Where’s Carla?” I say.

“Getting peepers,” Scoot says, and it makes me smile thinking that, after her eye appointment, Carla might finally see through to her good senses.

“Oh boy,” Scoot says and shuffles backwards, his eyes like large pecans instead of almonds.

Frank and I turn to see what he’s looking at.

Doubt Frank’s as scared as I am.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket



It Ain’t About Hooch


photo credit

I need to say something. Something to calm Brandon’s storm. “So Brandon. Remember that Possum Piss you forced me to swallow?”

“Shut up, Emma June.”

“Just saying. I wouldn’t have minded so bad if you’d poured what we’re selling down my throat. Best in the south.”

“Best in the south,” Scoot mutters.

Brandon’s black eyes coil like a snake as he stares at me. “Ain’t about hooch, stupid ass.”

Scooter makes a slow-go at standing up. He sticks his hand inside Knife Pocket. I get closer to him and whisper, “It’s okay, Scoot. We’re going home soon.”

Frank’s eyes go wide, his fists clenched at his sides. “I didn’t touch your sister, Brandon.”

“Yeah? And I trust you? You’re nothing but a gigolo from New Orleans.”

“Nah-Len’s,” Frank says.

I try not to laugh at Frank’s Seriousness. He’s never pronounced the town like that.

Brandon spits again. I want to tell him I know what he did to Carla. I can’t. I promised. But I never promised one thing.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket


Well, look who showed up.

Halfway through our first lesson, the door opens in the back of the room. Miss Primrose stops talking about grammar. “Frank, I’m glad to see you made it to school,” she says.

 I hear the whispers before I turn. When I do, my chin drops. This time, I see him in the light. The boy from the thicket. He’s wearing dark circles under his green eyes and the same muddy Keds from last night. But his hair is combed now, parted on the side.

“Students, I would like to introduce you to our newest member of Hilltop School, Frank Sanders.”

 He still has that look. The one where no one can touch him. Like no one’s smarter or braver than him. I know better. He’s scared of dogs—even the three-legged kind.

 He sticks his thumbs in the straps of the suspenders that hold up his Clean breeches then nods to the class like he’s Jesus come to turn sour milk into fresh lemonade.

“Frank lives here now. So let’s make him feel welcome. How old are you, Frank?”

“Almost fourteen, Miss Primrose,” he says like he’s President of Confidence World.

“You may sit down, Frank.”

Frank-Gatsby-Thicket Boy limps to a desk. Without the twisted ankle, he’d sure-fire swagger to his spot like Wild Bill Hickok after catching bandits.


Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket

photo credit





I set down my lunch sack, take off my Mary Janes, and step over a railroad tie that borders the sandbox. “Hey, Scoot,” I say.

“Emmy!” he says without looking up from the hole he’s already made. “Dig for gold?”

“How deep’s it buried?” I ask.

“To the island,” he says, loud enough for others to look over.

If Miss Primrose is in sight, the bullies shut their traps and don’t make fun of him for the way he talks, or the way he likes his blond hair cut into a burr but makes his Mama leave the three red patches an inch longer. “Strawberries patches,” he calls them.

Seven-year-old Janie clambers over and says, “I want to find an island.”

Me too. I want to find an island. Anywhere but here in the Hilltop school yard. Stupid name, Hilltop. We no more sit on a hill than Mama’s home cooking chicken and dumplings.

Janie and Scooter start chattering, so I dig my toes further into the sand and imagine pulling Mama out between my toes. That’s all the treasure I need.

A shadow hovers over me, but I don’t turn when it says, “Playing with retards?”

Scooter pays no mind to the comment and keeps digging for gold.

I look behind me. Frank’s hands are in his pockets. He’s pushing himself up and down by his toes.

“Don’t know how tall you are?” I say.

Frank looks at me like I have an ostrich head. “Huh?”

“You keep bouncing on your toes. You wanna be a ballerina Someday?”

“You gonna play in a sandbox all your life? Even when you’re all grown up?”

“You’re not grown either, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“I’m older than you. So, you’re that girl whose Ma disappeared.” He’s not nice when he says it. “And your daddy’s missing.”

I look toward the seesaw for help. The top hairs of Rachael’s red bob take turns bouncing up and down with Carla’s blond ones. They don’t pay me any mind.

“You’re stupider than you look,” I say. “Daddy’s at work.”

Scooter stops digging and looks up into Frank’s face. “Can’t disappear. Houdini died!”

I love how Scooter accents the words that are important to him. It’s his way of saying something important without having to string a bunch of words together to make a proper sentence. Scooter’s world is filled with magic, and not just because he loved Houdini.

Frank shakes his head and looks at me. “This dimwit your friend?”

“At least you got one part right.”

He puzzle-faces.

“Who’s stupid now?”

“Keep playing in the sandbox, Enema,” he says.

I go back to digging trying my best not to stand up and claw out his eyes. I hear him spit and stomp off.

I want to speed through time so Miss Primrose can ring the dismissal bell. Nothing’s the same, and now it’s worse since Frank-furter entered my life. I think I’ll call him that. No, even better. I’ll call him Franken-Farter. I smile and yell the name inside my head and reach for my lunch sack. It’s gone.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket

Featured image photo credit


If Only…

Eleven-year-old Emma June just wants to Flee away from the bully and go to the flea circus . But she doesn’t listen to her instincts. And that’s when everything went wrong.

“Not over there, Carla. That boy gives me the creeps.” <Emma June>

“It’s only Rachael’s brother, for crying out loud.”

I remember the time I stayed overnight ay Rachael’s. Brandon kept peeking through her bedroom window trying to scare us by pretending to be an axe murderer.

“He’s a sixteen-yea- old bully,” I say.

“He’s not that bad. I’ve seen his good sides.”

“I’d rather go to the flea circus. They’re trained, you know. They can turn a miniature carousel two thousand times their size.”


“And they’re itchy.” Carla grabs my hand and leads me toward the Knock-Down-The-Milk-Bottle tent where Brandon stands motioning us forward with a bona-fide moonshine jug in his hand.

(excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket)



The Shape of Emma June Crawford

First, thanks so much for liking my “shape” in previous posts.

When I posted The Shape of our Being, I mentioned how experiences shape our humanness. Here’s another example of the “shape” of Carolyn’s Being that shows up in my novels. I’ve posted Meta’s shape from The Last Bordello and Cono’s shape from No Hill for a Stepper.

Here’s Emma June from The Moonshine Thicket.

Kids at school say Scooter’s grain elevator doesn’t reach the top of the silo. That he acts more like a six-year-old than a thirteen-year-old. They don’t know diddly-squat. Scooter might not be the brightest penny in the cash box, but I’ve known him all my life. He has more grain than most of the numbskulls in Holly Gap, Texas and Scooter’s worth more than the whole lot of them. Wherever Scoot skips, bounces or walks, goodness grows in the footsteps he leaves behind. Without Scooter, everything would grow dead. 



I can’t wait for you to meet Emma June when she finally gets out and about!

The Shape of our Being


Growing from a child into a young adult are powerful years. The “big” events and experiences during that period stick with us.

I would like to share something with you because it’s important to me.

In  a previous post, I mentioned how each of us has our own prevailing awareness — experiences that have formed our humanness.

In my case, the Carolyn Being.

At eight-years old I was told I was going to hell for not being Baptist. I tried to stand up for myself. It was hard. I was outnumbered. In tears, I ran home to my mother.

What I learned: It hurts to be judged by your faith.

A popular football player in high school pushed and mocked a blind student. “What are you doing?!” I shouted. For a second, I wondered who’s said that. I was not the confrontational kind and my words shocked me. They also felt good.

Later,  that same year, a young girl with Down Syndrome climbed up my body like I was a grand oak tree, clinging to me with comfort while others gaped, appalled. I smiled. I loved her strong and loving arms.

What I learned: Never poke fun at the physically or mentally challenged.

A friend in early 1970’s “confessed” he was gay. I said, “But you’ll still drive us around, right?”

What I learned: A good friend is a good friend no matter what their sexual preference.

In the late seventies, a friend used the “n” word in front of me. I told him to never do it again.

What I learned:  Friends may not share your values.

I learned about poverty while student teaching in a low income center across from the housing projects.

What I learned: We are not born in equal environments.

I witnessed a “clean cut” UT student, rip the metal trim off of the side of an old car that wasn’t his. I confronted him while my friend found the bar’s bouncer.

What I learned: It’s disrespectful to destroy another’s property.

After many more experiences were added to my Prevailing Awareness, I decided to enter the field of Special Ed then changed my major to Child Development.

So, I taught bias-free education to my teachers and at local and state conferences. This theme carries over into my novels.



From my experiences, I learned to stand up for those who are picked on, faced with injustices, scrutinized and criticized for being “different.” I learned to stand up to the oppressors who try to crush another’s dignity in order to feel temporarily (and falsely) empowered.

That’s how I roll.

How about you? Do you have a particular experience/experiences that molded the shape of your BEING?


Daily Prompt: Bludgeon

via Daily Prompt: Bludgeon

This is what first comes to mind:


 If we concentrate on the verb — “to force into something; coerce; bully,” then I think of politics and the media. Sad.

Why do we threaten, bully, and posture? Are we doing this to make others feel bad or to make us feel better?
My father used to say, “if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” He’d also mumble under his breath, “I wish I had his Cadillac and he had a wart on his butt.
(We can’t always be flawless)    th-39
Bludgeoning someone with words is harmful and hurts both parties. Let’s hold hands instead.