“Whither Now, Adonis” – Chapter One – Part Two

"Whither Now, Adonis" - Chapter One - Part One

That was also the year I met Charles Arthur Casey. I didn’t know him by that name, though, I knew him as Floyd. Floyd’s parents had named him first after his grandfather and second after Arthur Fonzarelli, the resulting combination just happened to be the same name as one of the most notorious outlaws in American history.

His sister, Rebecca, was the first to call him Floyd. Pretty Boy Floyd. To this day Bex says she came up with the name to be ironic in the Alanis Morissette sense of the term. Any real sense of irony ended when he passed the first awkward stages of puberty. After that, the name was more appropriate than anything.

Floyd was a top-row locker kind of guy if I ever met one—tall, good looking and he ran the 400 meters with a grace and power that betrayed his size. He was lanky with dirty blonde hair and a strong chin that suggested he had some Native American blood in him somewhere.

The Mayde High track team had made the cut for regionals that year, thanks in large part to Floyd’s heroics in the last leg of the 400 relay. They say that humans can’t maintain top speed for any longer than 30 seconds due to lactic acid buildup. Floyd was the exception that proved the rule. That day he set the state high school record for a 100 meter leg, coming from a good 25 meters back against the anchor from Cinco’s track team.

I met Floyd one day while I was out on assignment for the Gator Gazette, the high school’s weekly newspaper. High school journalism is laughable, really, especially since Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, though Mary Beth Tinker should have some say in that. At any rate the Gazette, out of fear of the wrath of Principal McCardle, ran only fluff pieces. Not that Floyd’s story was fluff, it just wasn’t the kind of story I would have chosen.
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Whither Now, Adonis – Chapter One – Part One

by Caleb Williams

Little Timothy Busey has punched three people in his life: a linebacker, a marine and a writer. All three probably deserved it. The first punch Busey ever threw was delivered in early January 2003 and landed square in the gut of Trevor Rodgers, the star middle linebacker at our high school.

Rodgers was doubled over before he even knew the fight had begun. The way I first heard the story, Busey’s blow was a cheap shot—he hit Trevor while he was getting his books out of his locker. Busey remembers it differently and for some reason I’m still inclined to believe him.

The builder-grade blue lockers that line the halls of Mayde High are stacked one on top of the other. Though the school administration would never admit it, the upper-tier lockers were reserved for the movers and shakers of the high school—the jocks, the cheerleaders, the student council members and so on. The rest of us were on the lower tier, forced to bow to the kings and queens in their vermilion letterman’s jackets.

The way Busey tells it, while the rest of us fed on the crumbs that fell from the royal tables, Busey was catching something else from Trevor: a history book. There’s a simple reaction that comes from someone who has just taken a hit to the head from six pounds of European history, and Busey was always prone to overreactions. In the verbal scuffle that preceded the fight, the linebacker is alleged to have called Busey a bastard. That’s an innocent enough offense, but to Busey it was a personal affront worthy of war.

The month before, Busey’s mother had broken the news to him that the man he knew as his father had merely adopted him and that he was, in fact, the product of a failed first marriage. This was deeply troubling to Busey and, as payment for the insult, he retaliated in full force, delivering a strike right between the linebacker’s numbers.

That was the only punch Busey landed.

The linebacker landed two. The first was a retaliatory left jab to Busey’s gut, the second, a right cross to Busey’s left eye. Before the linebacker could continue the beating, Mr. Crandall rushed in to break up the fight. Looking back, Busey was lucky the English teacher didn’t punch him, too—his wife (also a teacher) and brought their newborn daughter to introduce to other faculty. As it happened, they were standing only a few feet away when the fight broke out. Both Busey and the linebacker were suspended for a week.
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Profile on Gazmend Syla

The following originally appeared in The Oklahoma Daily, spring 2008.

Gazmend Syla woke up early Sunday in Oklahoma and turned on the news. As the events of the previous night filled the screen, his thoughts were catapulted halfway across the world to a place he calls home.

Syla hails from the newly-formed nation of Kosovo, which broke apart from its parent country, Serbia, Sunday.

For a large part of the day, his eyes were glued to the coverage coming out of his home country.

Syla, a Kosovar journalist who is visiting OU for a yearlong professional development program funded by the U.S. State Department, said he was delighted by the news.

Warren Vieth, journalism professor, forwarded an e-mail to the journalism faculty and some journalism students from Syla with a simple message: "I have a state. It's a nice feeling. I'm happy, extremely happy."

As Sunday progressed, Syla said he called his family, still in Kosovo, several times.

"I talked to my 5-month-old son, and I told him, 'Congratulations, son. You have a future now'" he said, his voice quivering.
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Selected bulletin blurbs from The Village Church

The following are a collection of bulletin blurbs I wrote from June 2010 to December 2010 for The Village Church. In an attempt to maintain a consistent voice and style, we followed style guide issued by The Associated Press, "The Little Style Guide to Great Christian Writing and Publishing" and a consistent time-date-place order when applicable.

Women's Conference 2010: Steadfast Love
On Oct. 29 and 30. At this year’s women’s conference, Lauren Chandler will lead us as we focus on God’s steadfast love and our response to Him. Cost for the event is $25 per person with an optional pre-conference dinner for an additional $15 per person.
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Thanatopsis Rex

The old man stood facing east, the setting of the all-beholding sun casting his shadow long across the grass, a single sinewy wisp of darkness, inky against the rust of twilight.

There was a storm brewing to the south and, judging by the wind and the intermittent rumblings of thunder, the first drops should fall within the next 30 minutes.

Plenty of time, he thought as he dropped back down, stooped and scooped a handful of dirt from the bottom of his hole. Unlike the clay of the cemetery across town, the earth here was grainy and fine and it felt good, he thought, as it slipped through his fingers, themselves worn to dirt. He slipped back on his work gloves, holes were starting to appear near the palm and at the tips of his fingers—soon he would bury these too.

The sky had an ominous look to it—it was going to be a wild one tonight. The old man returned to his shovel, well worn and worked, its once-shiny finish now displaced like so many loads of dirt, by a patina of grime and grit.

Five minutes and his work was done, he shoved the spade of his shovel into the ground and flung his caked glove out of the hole. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a Marlboro, twirling it delicately around his fingers and leaned against the headstone and watched the shelf cloud creep towards him. The smell of burning tobacco mixed with dank autumn air and upturned earth and rotting leaves filled his nostrils. He climbed out of the grave, cigarette dangling precariously from his bottom lip, and tossed the tarp over the hole and mound prepared for Olwhatshisface, oh yeah, Billy Bryant.

“Whisky and fire kinda night,” he exhaled as he walked back to his ’82 Ford, the smoke swirling, rising and dancing away with the wind like the ghosts that surrounded him, he their king and they his loyal serfs.

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