AND OTHER STORIES
J. REEDER ARCHULETA
Genre: Fiction /Short Stories / Coming of Age
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC
Date of Publication: December 8, 2017
Number of Pages: 132
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PRAISE FOR THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION:
“Punchy, plainspoken dialogue…colorful and charismatic characters…The result is an atmospheric Texas…reminiscent of Larry McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show.” -- Kirkus Reviews
“The universality of Josh’s journey gives it a timeless quality…a rich tapestry…The stories are conveyed in lean, elegant prose reminiscent of Annie Proulx and Cormac McCarthy” -- Blue Ink Review
“Archuleta’s collection offers poignant and hopeful stories of determination in the face of need. Thoroughly engaging…narrated with passion and eloquence…” -- The Clarion Review
From The El Paso Red Flame Gas Station and Other Stories
By J. Reeder Archuleta
The wind started somewhere north of the Oklahoma line and blew southwest across the Texas panhandle and then east over the peaks and valleys of the Mescalero Apache where it seeped into the passes of the Sacramento Mountains and funneled directly south. It picked up speed south of the Sacramentos and was blowing at full strength as it moved over Crow Flat where it gathered up dust from the flats so that when it entered the valley it was no longer an invisible force. It flanked the valley, running to the east over the Salt Flats to the Guadalupes, gathering sand before it hit the mountains. The mountains absorbed the storm’s impact and pushed it south where it gathered more sand and dust adding a sting to its force, masking the granite rise of the mountains from the valley floor.
As it cut into the center of the valley, spreading west, it gathered strength and form rolling over the newly plowed fields, picking up dirt and dry pieces of cotton stalks and hulls which became the sharp edge of its force as it neared the town. The first windbreak of cottonwoods and cypress trees slowed it for a moment but after reforming south of the break, it blew with a new intensity, shrieking at the delay.
Its main force, blowing out of the north, mixed with the eastern flank and began to gain control of the valley.
It covered other windbreaks around farms in the north and howled through open barns and work-sheds, trapping equipment out in the yards. Irrigation pipes and empty oil drums were pushed around the equipment yards and out into the fields. Tumbleweeds bounced and rolled across dry fields until they became tangled and trapped along the fence lines and as the wind blew south toward the town, it gathered more dirt from the fields and pushed it higher until it formed a great dark rolling cloud, gaining speed and dimming daylight. With each new field gained and with the surrender of each farm, it reached higher and blocked the valley from the sun’s light. The sun gained small victories as its light shafted down through cracks in the storm’s momentum, but in a while the sun’s resistance was broken, the storm stealing more and more of its strength until, when it could be seen at all, it was only a small, dull orange disc. As it neared town, the storm added sound to its assault beginning with a gentle hiss, pushing dirt and debris, sweeping over the blacktop of the north road. As it entered the town the hiss took on a sharper tone, lifting the dirt and hurling it through the streets. The wind crashed into buildings, moaning down the sides, shrieking past cracks in windows and doors, seeking entry, changing rhythm, moving dirt and finding new targets.
The green cocktail glass and cotton bale painted on the front window of the Cotton Club Saloon were faded and worn away by years of wind and sun. The green lettering that named the saloon was splintered, melting into a memory of the prosperous years…
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