A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Yes, I’m a Loser – Roady Series episode 4

Nothing has changed in town except the dance school has taken over Mick’s barber shop. Guess no one gets their hair cut at a shop anymore but everyone wants their kid to dance. No threat that the Walmart will meet the same fate. The whole town is out shopping, judging by how full the parking lot is.
I’m surprised we don’t get kicked out as soon I walk in with my gaggle of dirty ducklings. I wasn’t about to make them take baths before we went out but we’re getting looks even by the Walmart people.
“Can we get this?” seven-year old Clinton says holding up a huge bag of chips.
“Put it back,”I say. We’re just getting the basics, cheap stuff that will go far. Five boxes of macaroni and cheese, more spaghetti, a few cans of tomato sauce, loaves of bread, a family sized ground beef, and hot dogs. I skip vegetables. They won’t eat them and I’m not their mama. We get two big boxes of store brand cereal and head to get some milk. Just as I’m about to hoist a gallon jug into the cart, I hear a scream of delight.
“Tyler is that you?”

There she is. I was hoping to dodge seeing Linda for the week. Let her hear I was around and leave it at that. But now she’s pulled her cart next to mine. She looks good, put on some pounds but her pretty face just looks healthier with it. There’s a baby blowing spit bubbles in the cart seat and a toddler with a chocolate bar half melted across her cheeks in the cart. “What are you doing here?” She says loud enough that a few people look our way. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming to town? I would have you over for dinner.”
She’s joking right? We haven’t talked since the phone call I hung up on.
“Mom’s in the hospital. Boys need lookin after,” I say but I’m feeling like I’m talking about someone else’s life. I’m not a family guy. I left. My life is not about ‘dinners’ and ‘looking after’ kids. I don’t belong here.
“Yeah I heard,” she says wiping both the baby and the toddler’s faces with a baby wipe from her purse. “Pretty sad that guy got killed.”
“There was a fatality?”
“Yeah, didn’t you know. A motorcyclist in the intersection. He didn’t make it.”
I’m stunned. I put the milk in the cart and don’t even catch that Clinton has added a can of whipped cream. She was high. A man died. Will she be charged? I don’t even want to think about it. My sister is in jail for possession. If mom ends up there too, who will take these kids?
“So how are you?” Linda asks giving me a smile too big for a married woman. “It’s been so long. Did you build a house yet? Go to college? What have you been doing these past few years?”
“Living. Did some things. Working out some plans.”
“Still not hitched, I see.” She glances toward my ringless hand.
“Time enough for that,” I answer.
“Sure. Looks like you’d make a good father though,” she says. The boys are all hanging on the cart waiting for our conversation to end.
“Nope. Just a brother and a half one at that.”
She shakes her head then gives me a ‘I made the right choice not waiting for you’ smile. Makes me feel like the biggest loser ever. My life sucks. She says a polite “hope your mom gets better” and goes on her way.
I see the whipped cream and put it back. Clinton starts to whimper then Jason joins in.
“Dammit! We don’t have enough money for that kind of stuff.” That does nothing to quiet them.
“She used to be your girlfriend?” Junior says. “You’re stupid just like Dad says.”
“Yeah well wait till you grow up, you might get it then.”
As we wait on the check out line, I see Junior pocket a blue lighter.
I go up to him and quietly say, “put it back.”
“Dad needs it,” he says. “He’ll pay for it later.”
“Put it back,” I say again.
“No. Dad told me to get it. If I do he’ll let me smoke his butts. He’ll leave me half of it you know.”
“You don’t steal and don’t be stupid and start smoking. Don’t you know what happens? You make a few dollars and spend it on cigarettes. Not because you want to, because you’re an addict. Is that what you want? Be a thief and craving some leaves rolled in paper?”
He stares at me, arms crossed. I reach into his pocket, and take out the lighter. Then I pick out a pack of bubble gum and say, “Get this. All yours.”
He doesn’t want to smile but I see a light in his eyes.

See previous posts, in the category- “Roady Series” – Find it in the drop down “menu” at the header of this blog. —————————————————————————————————This post is fiction based on the back story of a supporting character in a novel in process by Clare Graith. See for more info in the author.

A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Something From Nothing – Roady Series 3

Some people get away with being obnoxious. They hold the ticket, “that’s just how he is”. The only ones validating that ticket are the poor people around him who have given up. As I look around the ‘home’ Mom and Stan have made, it’s clear that everyone here has given up and looks to me that my oldest half brother Stanley Junior takes after his pop in all the wrong ways.
“Where’d you get that mangy mutt?” Junior sneers. I haven’t seen him in four years and this is what he says? I ignore him and his father. Roady hides behind my legs.
Little Jason jumps up and puts his arms around Roady, crouching on the floor, also hiding behind my legs.
Stan tries to stare me down but then concedes to his need for me.
“Why don’t you see if you can fix something to eat? I’m all out of cereal.”
Four sets of eyes are now on me, the dog forgotten.
Why anyone would think I can cook, I don’t know. I was left to scrounge for my own meals more than once when I was their age though so maybe I can come up with something. I go to the galley kitchen. Among the bowls, spoons, and cups, are pots with crusted red, brown, and green stuff in them stacked in the sink, on the counters; evidence that at some point more than just the now empty box of Cheerios was eaten.
I open a cupboard and find a box of spaghetti. In the fridge, there’s an empty milk carton, mustard and ketchup, peanut butter, a twelve pack of beer and a bottle of wine. Dried egg yolk on the bottom shelf suggests once there were eggs. In the freezer, ice.
I boil a pot of water and cook up the spaghetti then squirt the ketchup on the whole thing. It’s an instant meal I remember well. They eat it up like it’s the best thing they ever ate.
“You need some food in this house,” I tell Stan who is on his next beer and crashed into a ragged recliner, the television now blasting a talk show with people yelling at each other.
“Yeah, get some. Good idea.”
All the boys look at me with hopeful eyes. I can’t escape that kind of focus. How can I hide that I don’t have a whole lot of cash but I can tell Stan isn’t about to hand me even twenty bucks.
“And take them with you,” Stan adds. “Lord knows I need a break.”

See previous posts, in the category- “Roady Series” – Find it in the drop down “menu” at the header of this blog.

This post is fiction based on the back story of a supporting character in a novel in process by Clare Graith. See for more info in the author.

A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Home Not Sweet Home – Roady Series episode 2

I named the dog “Roady”, short for “Road Kill”. I should have named him Roady Junior with me being Roady Senior since my mad dash to rescue the pup almost cost me my life. When I pull up the muddy driveway of Stan and Mom’s newest house, Roady whines.
“Yeah buddy, I’m not too happy about it either.”
A twisted vine with clusters of green leaves is stretching from a dry, old dogwood to the gutters of the house where it wraps around the drain spout full and bushy. Looks like poison ivy to me. I’m about to get out of my car when a rusty, rumbling pick-up pulls next to me.
“Move your damn car,” Stan yells. “Park over on the grass.”
Grass? All I can see are some patches of weeds gripping the ground, flat and broad leafed between gravel scattered in the dirt. Maybe once it was all gravel. Now it’s hard to see where the driveway ends and the ‘grass’ begins. I pull to the side and get out.
Stan walks right on past me without another word. I follow him with Roady at my heel. Inside, four sets of eyes swivel from the television and fix not on me but Roady.
“A dog!” five year old Jason yells.
Stan comes back from the kitchen with a beer in his hand. “No.”

(This picks up from the previous post -“Life Altering Collision)

A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Life Altering Collision- Roady Series episode 1

It’s like that, you wake up and start a day that will change your life forever.

Driving out of town leaving behind my favorite parking spots, knowing they’ll be no going back to them. My place in the community will be swallowed as if I didn’t even exist. But I am coming back that is for certain. I press on the gas and curse my step-father under my breath. He is the reason I’m Tennessee bound.

I hate putting all these miles on my old Toyota Corolla. I can’t afford to have the car die. I try to contain my resentment. They don’t know the car has been my home for the past few months. It’s not that I’ve kept secrets, I haven’t spoke to Mom or Stan since the Christmas before last. I figured Mom forgot with handling my four step-brothers, the youngest being six.

Didn’t matter much to me. Why would it? What’s a phone call? Have to admit though, it was the bleakest Christmas ever. There’s nothing about this trip that makes me happy either.

And then I see it, up ahead a dog running straight down the road as though he was on an epic trip. I pull over to the shoulder, jump out of my car and give a loud long whistle. There’s not a lot of traffic right now but that’s unusual. Any minute that dog could be history. He stops at my whistle.

                “Here boy,” I cup my hands and yell. There’s a line of cars and two semi approaching like an army in full battle mode. “Come on,” I plead.
                He cocks his head, wags his tail. I whistle again. The army is almost on us. If he doesn’t come to me, he’ll be crushed. If I run out to him, he could run and we’ll both be crushed. “Dog!” I yell. He’s frozen in place, ears perked up. I close my eyes, say a prayer to a God I never talk to and dash out, scoop the dog up and slam into the guard rail on the other side. Horns go streaming past like sick death calls. The dog is shaking in my arms. He’s a mutt, terrier and something. He licks my face and just like that, I’ve got a friend.

This post is flash fiction based on the back story of a supporting character in a novel in process by Clare Graith.

See “Cold Call from Stan” for context of this post.

This post is inspired by March 6, FOWC with Fandango — Contain – This, That, and The Other

A Day in the Life Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Diner Date

“What can I get you sir?”
I almost fall off the chair. I am way too young for anyone to call me sir. I should be happy to be treated like I’m important, but I know she is just being polite.
It’s a strange thing this habit of acting as though there is respect but, it’s not really there.
I know it. She knows it. I may have a gift card to eat at the diner, but my weather worn back pack and tired looking jacket (that I don’t want to have off long enough to wash so far this winter), give me away; declare I’m not a ‘sir’. Even ‘mister’ sounds too significant a title.
I shouldn’t be called, ‘kid’ or ‘son’ though, so I guess, truth is I am a mister, Mr.Tyler Rowan. I laugh, just as she puts a cup coffee in front of me. She thinks I’m laughing at her.
“I was laughing to myself,” I say. “At myself. Cause you called me ‘sir’.”
“What should I call you then?” She pushes the sugar packets my way then gives me a look. I know that look. Okay so she seems nice enough but I’m seriously famished and I’m not really in the mood to be friendly. Then again a little charm might get me an extra biscuit. What am I a dog; stick my tongue out, wag my tail, give me a bone? Okay Tyler, back yourself off this cliff. Hunger makes me nutty.
“Tyler,” I say. “I’m Candy.” She gives me a big smile.
“I bet you are,” I say. Now that wasn’t very polite but she laughs, no offense taken.
“Okay Ty, how do you want your eggs?” She holds her pad up and bats her eyes. But she called me by Stan’s chopped name. She has no idea why I answer like I’m a stodgy old ‘sir’. She reminded me that Stan expects me to go home. This is my last meal before I hit the road. Even so, Candy turns out to be sweet. She gives me an extra biscuit.

See previous post : “Cold Call From Stan” for context.

A Day in the Life

Opportunity Lost and Found

Opportunity lost, tastes sour in my mouth,
All my food is seasoned with it.
The smallest joy, finding a good book to read,
Is dampened by the knowledge lurking,
Of what might have been.
Regret digs so deep in my veins that I’m sure,
I’m turning to stone.
Hardened against hope,
I stand at the edge of a cliff and wonder,
Is there a next step for me?
What I don’t count on is, another plain,
I haven’t seen, don’t know about it;
Rena the head librarian has offered me a job.
She likes that I always put my books back,
She sees me helping others because I know just where to go for what.
She says I remind her of her son.
She doesn’t remind me of my mom,
That’s a good thing.

This Blog is based on the backstory of fictional character Tyler Rowan in the novel (unpublished) “Kill Words” by Clare Graith. Find out more about Clare at

A Day in the Life

Frozen Feet and Memories

You never think about things the same way once you’re on your own.

Doesn’t matter if your mom was the kind that packed you lunch with little love notes and chocolate chip cookies. Or if she sent you to school with a jelly sandwich on stale bread because she didn’t bother to sign you up for the free lunch you could have had since the family definitely qualified with no adults in the house working. Either way, once you venture beyond those walls called home, nothing fits in the picture quite like it used to.

Take ice for instance. Ice used to mean, sliding across the pond in treadless sneakers, feeling the cold air rush past my face, the thrill of speed until slam, right into the frozen mud on the other side. The trick was to time jumping so that instead of getting twisted up in my own legs and landing on my butt, I leapt onto the bank and sauntered away. Took me a few years to perfect that.

Ice meant single pane windows frozen with prismatic patterns, making nose prints until frostbite threatened, watching the sun come through trees glistening with diamonds, thinking how if I could just get to the high branches, I would be rich. Spending hours dreaming of what rich would be like, making a game of it. A bike, a new bed instead of the creaky metal one, all the Milky Way bars I could ever eat, whatever Mom wanted, a television for my room…the list went on until the sun melted the diamonds and my hope of a treasure dripped away.

But now, as I wake up to an ice encased car, I think only how damn cold it must be outside and that my feet feel like they are crusted with ice even though my sleeping bag is supposed to be warm to minus ten degrees. The frigid air needles my brain suggesting maybe it is time for me to stay in the Shelter. All this is irreconcilable with the strings of memories that ice used to pull into my mind. I pull the bag over my head, hoping to sleep off the homesickness I feel for a place that never felt like home.

FOWC with Fandango — Irreconcilable – This, That, and The Other (

A Day in the Life

It Happened by Accident

It’s dangerous out on the streets. I’m not talking about the crowd I walk with, I’m talking about the street streets. Where the cars are. I was walking to a job site, temporary work, paid under the table, gutting an old townhouse. Yeah, that’s right instead of building, I was tearing down. But cash is cash, besides I made some good connections. When they get around to doing the remodeling part, I might get some more work.
So I was on my way, minding my own business because you know, if I get involved in every situation I see going on, I’m only going to end up in a heap of someone else’s trouble. But there are times, when it’s my turn. It happened that way. I was almost to an intersection. It was morning rush hour, cars streaming in both directions up Main Street, getting backed up with every light, then lurching forward as soon as it turned green. I saw this tiny car, bright yellow, zip through the red light at the cross street as though because it was so small, it was okay, like it’s a bike. But a bike is nimble and truly able to slide between cars. I know because once I had a bike but it was stolen on account of I didn’t have a decent lock. A chain might as well be made out of linked pretzels if it isn’t made out of titanium. Found that out the hard way. Not getting another bike until I can afford a Kryptonite lock. (Note- That’s not a Superman metal lock, it’s the real deal, one of the best on the market). So, the Mario-kart headed through the intersection while a SUV and a delivery van hit the gas pedal to make it through the next light, which is possible if timed just right. Everyone knows this. The lead car always tries. That little car ricocheted off the oncoming traffic like a hockey puck. Then it flipped over and damn near landed at my feet. Couldn’t walk past that. When the car stopped spinning, I saw an arm flop out of the window. I could smell gasoline and oil. Two men nearby backed away in a hurry. But that arm, would not let me consider that squished metal bug as a potential bomb. I ran up to the dented door, pulled on the handle. I heard a groan from within. Sirens started blasting. The smell of gas choked the air right out of my lungs. My eyes stung. I saw a stream of liquid flowing and pooling. The door wouldn’t open no matter how I yanked on it. I heard a police officer calling out to me. “Son, you’re in harms way, you need to get out of there. Wait until the fire department gets here to neutralize that gas.”
But that wouldn’t work. I could not watch someone burn alive and ever get that out of my mind. I wasn’t ruining the rest of my life, that door had to open. I braced my foot against the frame and pulled with all I had. I’m no wimp. I can throw a good solid punch when needed but I felt useless when it wouldn’t budge. Another cry came from within. “Help!” That was enough. There’s something about life and death that pumps up superpowers. Next time I pulled, the door not only came open, it came off. I ripped the door off! It was one of my crowning moments. I pulled the driver out. The next thing I knew I and the driver were being dragged to the sidewalk, just as flames shot out from under car. While the whole thing was hosed down, the paramedics started working on the driver. I brushed myself off and walked the rest of the way to the job.