A Time for Poncey - And other Stories out of Skullbone

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For book edits or other issues regarding a specific book or books, try the Goodreads Librarians Group instead. Though a general practitioner, he particularly liked seeing the children. He had a natural gift to draw out their love, either with silly antics or the gentle comfort of his touch. Abbie was no exception, and strangely, though he often pierced her arm with a needle, she excitedly anticipated her monthly appointments and luxuriated in his consolations afterwards.

With a head round and fleshy, he might blow out his cheeks like a blowfish, or perhaps make a pucker out of his entire face. His round glasses emphasized his eyes, blue and bright, and his cavalier attitude toward haircuts created a blurred white nimbus around his countenance. I expect to keep seeing you for a long time. You were just so darling.

He encourages her, and makes her so happy.


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Maybe he could find some time for intelligent conversation as he suffered through the insipid business of his mother. So his heart sank at her next utterance. I wish you would watch your language! With a painful grunt, he headed to the winding stairs and made his way up the narrow passage.

The suitcase barely squeezed through. As he looked over the walls, smaller still than he remembered, the things he had left hanging there through high school surprised him — pennants, pin-ups, even childish drawings.

A Time for Poncey

He drew nearer to scrutinize one in particular: It portrayed two figures, one large and one small, bent toward each other, working at abutting desks. The old man would stand in the living room, tall and strong, wrap his arm around Mother and promise. Hector believed it with his whole heart, right up to the day his father ran off with the secretary. Looking back now, the deed made sense to Hector, but at the time it was a shock. He took the picture from the wall and set it upon the floor, propped against the wall, back facing outward.

The bed creaked as he sat upon its edge and mulled his fate. He doubted her holdings could amount to much, probably only a bank account or two, plus the house. Hector swung through his door and around the corner; his head banged into the low part of the ceiling. He cocked his voice to curse, then stifled it to a growl under his breath. Rubbing his hand through the well-cropped shock of jet black hair, he stumbled down the steps and strode expectantly before her chair. The bulbs will be coming up soon. Mother, I moved back here to do important work for you! You used to pick them for me every spring — it was so sweet.

You used to say they were bottle brushes. Hector went out on the porch anyway, just to get away from the conversation. He pointedly ignored the flowers, and instead surveyed the neighborhood as he leaned against the rail. The superficial pleasantry of the clapboard houses reflected perfectly the banality of the people within, and he shuddered to think he might need their help with his mother. The dogwood blooms had peeked open, and Hector breathed in the crispness; the early warmth gladdened him, for summer was on its way. The thought of longer daylight hours turned grimly toward the neighbors, and he imagined them puttering aimlessly in their lawns and gardens, not once thinking of what service they might be to him.

Without warning he realized he was watching a little girl in front of the next house down. Still, he thought, this must be Abbie. Her hair was done up in a ragged ponytail, and she wore the smallest pair of cat-eye glasses Hector had ever seen. On closer inspection, he could see she had a bottle of soap bubbles: Time and again, she inserted the wand, then waved it much too vigorously to make a bubble.

A Time for Poncey

She looked small, but not particularly sick. Perhaps she has some rare cancer, a disease too mysterious for the bumpkins here to recognize, he thought. He imagined an exotic tumor deep within her, undetectable by x-ray but still filling her body with poisonous tendrils. She really is an object of pity, not only so ill but completely ignorant of her condition.


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  • If she knew, at least she could prepare herself; perhaps she could even demand better medical care, he thought. She could force her parents to take her away, take her to doctors who actually knew something about treating the sick. Maybe I can help this child, Hector thought, knowing the truth would help her. Nobody else in town would be honest with her, maybe I can do her a favor. She looked in the direction of the voice, her owlish eyes magnified in her glasses.

    She held up the bottle and turned it upside down. Hector drooped his head and shook it wearily. The door to the house opened, and Mrs. Keep your voice down! The encounter only made him more determined to help the girl. Perhaps he should talk to this Dr. Croswell first, and see if he knew anything. In the spare bedroom he found towering stacks, a collection of old forms and documents, mixed with unopened mail.

    The days dragged into weeks as he sorted through each sheet of paper, and he could feel his interest and energy for the project draining out of him. Despondent, one stormy day he simply planted himself on the porch to watch the downpour. Sitting in front of a screened window, he carried on an exchange with his mother, next to the window in her chair. A stream of rainwater was pouring over the edge of the porch roof. How could you let so much paperwork accumulate? I remember the little shoeshine kit you made in woodshop. The rain came down as the day grew old.

    In the horizon the canopy of dark clouds broke, and the setting sun burned the sky red. Next door, Abbie Fish came out to play in the warm showers.

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    She stood with her head pitched backwards, feeling the drops patter upon her face. She was wearing a baggy pink one-piece swimsuit, with cartoon kittens all over it. He moved his chair to the edge of the porch. The piles of papers turned into endless calls to local bankers and insurance agents.

    Hector felt trapped, in a staring match with the same deeds and contracts day after day, trying to discern some hint of how to cut through the legal tangles. Finding delinquency letters from Internal Revenue did not help his mood, and tax forms haunted his dreams, blowing in the tumbling wind just out of his reach.

    His resentment toward the weight of responsibility grew, and he longed to pursue only his own interests again. Filial service, once a mere annoyance, now seemed futile and a complete mockery. His grand dreams of high-rise offices and power lunches sank into illusion, the exaltation over his fellows becoming a ruinous downfall. Gazing in the mirror, he thought creases had begun to draw down his chiseled face, and gray had sprouted within his hair.

    I have to get out of here, he thought, I have to break out. He first must confront the hollow peace that folded over this town, crush its vacuous resistance to plain-spoken reality. A slow vibrato shook his cry, and his knees supported the horn as sobbing tones fell muted by the sidewalks. Still he played, refusing the silence that might also mean safety. The travels returned his clothing to the rags he remembered so well, and wore his shoes down to paper-thin shreds.

    These things mattered little, as he searched the sun and sky for new reasons to hope, dappled light cutting through the waving shade of leaves overhead. Invisible song fell like rain, birds well-hidden within the branches, not caring what had passed and what might come.

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    They left no trace of existence except their song, and he could hear it and know them to be birds, though he could not see they were birds. His art could not be stilled, nor either his humanity. Stirred again within, the grace of his muse returned, the supernatural inspiration that makes more of one than what he is returned, as he weighed the vain valuations of the world.

    Brassy melodies again flowed from him like a rushing stream, bumping smoothly over unexpected nuances, forever bubbling along with glad anticipation. The music spoke with new authority, with new purpose toward not just accommodation but enlightenment as well, a new light to shine upon a forlorn land. And on one day he found his audience again, the audience that would truly listen, and he lifted his voice before an immense crowd gathered around still waters, gathered to hear Jericho Jones preach.

    Stones, cold stones laid one upon another make a wall, as do hearts of stone. And he played before the giant stone image of a white man, on an early April Sunday morning, he played before the temple, and his song rang out over the people. Craig Davis was born and bred in Memphis, the land of Elvis and pork barbecue, though neither ever did him any good.

    After earning journalism degrees at the University of Missouri, he worked in newsrooms for 20 years, then turned his attention to writing fiction in His contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here. The good Doctor started a new series of posts this week. Read more here , and check out the first post in our National Trust Archive series below. In our new series, we take photos from the British National Trust Archive and create short fiction around them. Read more in our first piece: To submit to the National Trust series, email us at snakeoilcure[at]gmail[dot]com, and include a link to the photo that inspired your piece!

    He frequently exhibits and enters competitions to spread to share his universe. He is influenced by movies and the Belgian surrealism that surrounds him. His other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure are here. New York City provides the backdrop. Gregg Chadwick is a Santa Monica-based artist who has exhibited his artworks in galleries and museums both nationally and internationally. His submissions to Dr.

    The fish on the plates symbolize her femininity and fertility. She has participated in numerous exhibitions in Ukraine, Spain and Israel. I found this doorway in Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland. Leslie Hawes is a Tucson, Arizona-based artist who has worked exclusively with colored pencils for over 30 years. She is self taught.

    She recently published a book of her Street View drawings on Blurb Books. Belgian surrealist Gaetan Vanparijs is back, with more bizarre art. These images articulate without words the difficulty and emotional impact of this process. All posts tagged art. Jericho Jones The only name he still knew was Jericho Jones.

    Enough to bring down the walls of Jericho.

    A Time for Poncey - funny book excerpt

    They turned, three men in all their finery, and the dim lamplight revealed the teeming menace. He raised his face to the light, prepared to witness death. He fell to the sidewalk, propped upon one arm, reconciled to fate. Man, you should hear him jam!

    Tagged art , Davis , fable , fiction , jazz , Jericho , Jones , music , race.