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Two Larrys and I

By W. K. Stratton

Two Larrys and I

It was after I moved to Texas that I truly discovered myself as a writer. I’ve drawn from the energy in the literary community to be sure. But beyond that, those Texas writers who write about Texas and certain elements of Texas society have shown me how to write about my own back pages.

A meditation on McMurtryland

This essay by the Mayborn's George Getschow serves as the foreword for the 2015 Ten Spurs book.

An Iranian woman of independence

I tried every day to keep my father’s political beliefs a secret, so I wouldn’t be thrown out of school. In the back of my mind, I kept remembering the teacher at my high school saying, “You’ll never be allowed to teach.” What I was doing was risky, but at least I was learning English. That brought me closer to my dream of America.


Nina fixes her eyes on the road, tensely tapping her fingers across the steering wheel. The tapping produces a discordant sound that seems to accentuate the apprehension swirling inside the car. “I always feel like someone is following me,” says Nina, peeking through her rearview mirror.

Devil child

My father is standing in front of the refrigerator with the door wide open. He turns up a can of beer and pours it down his throat. When he finishes, he tosses the empty container into the trash, grabs a fresh one, and pops it open.

Food truck parks: How to make it in America

The park is full of stories parked behind stories. It’s not that McDonald’s employees don’t have stories of their own, but the customer doesn’t know or care. When you eat at a food truck you directly involve yourself in their story.

If the good Lord lets me in

I wanted to comfort him, somehow, certain that his courage in the face of death had been a facade. I was an atheist, but I would have liked to believe that we “go to a better place,” that this magical land was waiting for us when the time came. My grandfather would do anything to get there, it seemed.

Letter to a commanding officer

Discussion ended. I did not slam the receiver down. Even alone, in an office with the door closed, that would have seemed unprofessional. I placed the receiver back in its cradle and made fists instead, glaring at the wall in front of me. Dammit. Now what do I do?

Promises to keep

She never beat the dog water out of me. She threatened to often. For some reason, I never called her bluff. Something told me she could and probably had beaten the dog water out of someone. Probably a lot of someones in her years.

The heart of the nest

Two Christmases before the cat in the shrubbery incident, a handsome red male cardinal, and his plump grey wife with her orange comb and lipsticked beak came to visit. They often sat at the edge of the yard on the fence while my husband and I watched, enchanted, reading into their visits the most promising of reasons.

The three questions

No vivid colors, no pretty oil paintings of roses or still-life apples. Only black and white images: portraits, cityscapes, formless abstractions, the occasional nude figure, gathered over the years from his travels, depicting every conceivable facet of life, and transforming his office into a living, breathing Rorschach.

What remains

It’s a curious thing, the ways in which a town can die. Wiped out by nature like the history books’ accounts of Pompeii or eerily abandoned like the colonial settlement of Roanoke, suddenly or slowly, a town can be erased from maps or just fade from memories.


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