The Ironic Reality of Being Distinguished

Pikeville (Ky.) High School

My voice mail notification showed a new message. The text version of the recording my phone produces automatically after wouldn’t have won any awards at the annual transcription convention. It read, in part:

“Good morning chasing. This is ran deed robbers. I called to share a mess mitten. The dikes spill are high in school bum has unanimously selected you and __________ others for the 2021 distanced lum night ward.”

What the message actually said was, “Good morning, Jason. This is Randy Roberts. I called to share a message with you that the Pikeville…

It’s not normal human behavior to mace yourself. But you just don’t understand the extent to which I will go to fuck with Stewart.

Stewart Theodore Davis, or as I call him, STD, is wiry thin with frozen turkey skin. His bulbous forehead protrudes from a dome with no chin and hair wrapped from ear-to-ear around the back. The gleam of his bald top is the look leather shoes dream of.

And a leather shoe is about the only thing that would dream of Stewart. He’s like Mr. Rogers, only condescending and fidgety. Well, the neighbors say he’s only fidgety…

The physical manifestation of Milton’s strength ripples just under the skin on either arm as he pulls a metal file toward his chest. The bureau nearly finished, and perhaps his greatest handicraft to date, it only needs those last few strokes to round off the empty circle that will hold an antique mirror Estelle found at a yard sale.

A toothpick dances between his lips, looping and lunging from one corner of his mouth to another, his tongue peeking through with encouragement. Though his laser eyes pierce the soon-to-be rounded corners of maple, perhaps a magical softening technique, you can’t…

Died-in-the-wool rednecks and Southerners are hard nuts to crack. The explanation lies mostly in that when focused on the cracking you forget the requisite circumstance: They’re nuts.

The first words Merle said to me were, “Hey man! You ain’t queer or nothin’ are ya?”

I should have known then my neighbor across the street was either going to be a lot of trouble or a lot of fun.

Merle and Vickie moved to Hickory Hollow in 1983 when the first house went up. Theirs’s was a 1,200-square-foot ranch on a concrete slab. It was a proud day in Merle Williamson’s…

“Your presence is respectfully requested,” read the letter. But Stewart made it abundantly clear there was nothing respectful about it.

“If you fail to appear, our next course of action will be to subpoena you, Mr. Patterson, and, well, then you’ll have to appear.”

“Got news for you Stewart,” I said. “I will appear at your neighborhood association meeting next Thursday night, just like I’ve appeared at the previous three neighborhood association meetings I’ve been ‘respectfully’ requested to attend. You numb-nuts have never had to subpoena me and if you did, that would just be fuckin’ stupid. …

I’d never been to Cut Bank, Montana. Why would any one go there? It’s about halfway between Great Falls and the Canadian border, which is to say, it’s a good place, depending upon the time of year, to freeze to death or be eaten by a moose.

In August, it’s not such a bad little town. Quiet, unassuming, sparse. Kinda what you’d expect from Northern Montana, which is an area of the country I normally refer to as, “Southern Canada.”

My pal Levi was getting married, so I was there. Always felt sorry for him a bit. He was half…

(This is a backlog story written in March 2020.)

I cried real tears today. Crocodile tears.

A couple false starts trickled in this morning, then again halfway through the movie I was watching to pass the time. But then, just before the movie ended, I paused it and sobbed. It was a good, long fit — maybe 15 minutes. I just cried and cried and cried like a dam behind my forehead burst.

My melancholy is rather inexplicable. My antidepressants work. They don’t make me happy, but they make me not sad. I’d just finished off a five-day stretch with…

There’s no better place to read a good book than in front of a fireplace. That might be the only place in the world where I feel like I belong.

That notion hit me recently as I finished reading Wright Thompson’s parallel paths essay about Julien Van Winkle, the caretaker of one of the most sought-after bourbon brands on the planet. Pappyland was touching for me since the story really revolved around fathers — both the author and Van Winkle’s insatiable desire to protect the legacy of their’s, respectively.

As the story wound down, thoughts of my father tapped my…

About a month ago I asked my doctor to help figure out what was wrong with my brain. I felt bad. Depressed. Sometimes hopeless.

Life changes, hitting 40, being a tired, overextended father of an 8 and 4 year old … I just felt run down. And I knew it was more than my physical health.

So my doctor said he’d like to run some blood work on my hormones before just blindly trying antidepressants. Turns out I’ve got a weird imbalance of estrogen and testosterone brought on by many factors, including obesity, lack of exercise, etc. …

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Stephen Pressfield’s book The War of Art discusses the challenge of overcoming resistance — the critical element to pushing past all distractions and excuses to write. I read the book a few months ago and immediately thought, “This is going to change my practice of the craft! I will now know how to fight resistance. I’ll look for it and defeat it when it rears its ugly head.”

So much for logic.

High hopes are called such because of the low executions that follow. I’m still not writing more. I’m still finding excuses. …

Jason Falls

Away from work, I’m a writer of things. These are my stories. Hickory Hollow tales are fiction and told from the perspective of protagonist Logan Patterson.

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