Set in the real American dystopia of the Great Depression, The Blind Boxer is the story of a prison inmate known as Harvard who is offered his freedom if he will participate in a mysterious boxing match. Harvard, who is a former professional fighter, suffering from failing eyesight, is joined by two other fighters, but when the Big Fight begins the inmates learn that the rules of prize fighting and fair play no longer count and survival is the name of the game.
About the Author
Jim Lester holds a Ph.D in history and is the author of four successful young adult novels as well as a history of college basketball in the 1950s.
Latch Key Kids, the long-awaited follow-up to Small Town Punk, chronicles the enduring impact one life can have on another.
Resilience and the power of sibling friendship combine into a surprising, ingeniously layered comic novel about a boy inventing himself.
In Latch Key Kids, Sheppard strips the flesh from the bone. He makes you laugh by combining searing wit with keen social observation.
Alsoby John L. Sheppard
Small Town Punk
Publisher: g Publishing
Trapped in dreary Sarasota, Florida in the early 1980s—during Reagan’s “Morning in America,”—going to high school with junior fascists by day, working at Pizza Hut by night, his family a dysfunctional nightmare, 17-year old Buzz Pepper feels that nothing matters in life beyond drinking, drugs and punk rock.
As the country around him is becoming more conservative and corporate, and adulthood seems like the ultimate corrupt existence, Buzz can only find solace within a close-knit group of fellow disillusioned teens, which includes his devoted younger sister, Sissy. As they drive around in Buzz’s beat-up van, encountering redneck cops, mocking the local “geezers,” and wondering if there is any meaning in what seems to be a meaningless world, Small Town Punk perfectly captures how it is to be young, yet feel that you have no future.
In the tradition of Hairstyles of the Dammed and Perks of Being A Wallflower, Small Town Punk is a brutally funny and poignant coming of age story that brilliantly evokes the surging joy, confusionand rage of youth.
Years later, Sissy would say, “You remember. Of courseyou remember. How could you forget?”
“No,” I’dinsist. “I don’t remember that at all.”
The summer we moved to Sarasota, one of the local news anchors shot herself live on television with a gray, little pistol. Bang, went the report, sounding like someone clapping together a pair of wood blocks. That’sthe way Sissy told the story. I don’tremember any of it.
Sissy and I were up early, she told me, eating Cocoa Puffs out of the box, dry. We paused and looked at each other, stopping mid-crunch. Sissy swallowed her mouthful of cereal and asked, “Did that just happen?”
“Did what just happen?” I asked.
That cereal. I remember that. My teeth were sugary rough. I sucked at my molars. But the dead woman. Was there a dead woman? And why did Sissy insist on watching this woman every morning on some public affairs show called Suncoast Digest?
Wait. I remember that part. It was because the anchor was clearly weird, for one thing. Like you knew that one day she’ddo something odd on the air and if we missed it, Sissy would never forgive me.
For another, the anchor had a recognizable accent. She was from our part of Ohio. It was like hearing the voice of home listening to Christine. Christine! That was the anchor’s name.
The picture on the color set wiggled. It made everything orange, or maybe that was the 1970’s. Maybe the 1970’s were particularly lurid. There was this dead woman slumped over in a field of wiggling orange. There was another person screaming. A man wearing a headset ran up. He waved at the camera and then some color bars glowed. They were primary colors. Soon enough, an episode of Gentle Ben came on to replace Suncoast Digest. A boy and his pet bear. Sissy turned the dial, clunking through the channels that we could get from the antenna on the roof. She found nothing satisfying and turned off the set.
“You have so much to learn about life, little brother,” Sissy said.
“I’m your big brother,” I said.
“But I am. I’m almost two years older.”
“Do we have any orange juice?” Sissy smiled, showing off her dimpled cheeks. Adults liked to pinch them. “Do you think she’s really dead?”
“My God, you’re dumb. How’d you get so dumb?”
“I don’t know. I think I got it from Dad.”
“That makes sense.” She stood up, so I stood up, too. She handed me the box of Cocoa Puffs. I rolled up the waxpaperbag inside and clicked the boxtopshut. “That weird anchor lady. You think she really shot herself?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She made a little fist and rapped gently on the side of my head. “Knock-knock. Anybody home?”
“Stop making fun of me.”
“You make it so easy, little brother.” She went into the kitchen and I followed her.
About the Author
John L Sheppard wrote Small Town Punk. He lives in Illinois.
Thirty years after their high school graduation, former best friends, Joe and Chad, accidentally meet again in an Orlando hotel. But there will be nothing accidental about the chain of events which lead the middle-aged pair on the run from gangsters, drug dealers and ambitious cops.
Deciding to celebrate their unexpected reunion, Joe and Chad share laughs and nostalgic memories over ice-cold beer but soon the two, feeling low about their less than adolescent appearance, decide to visit a shop specialising in making men look ten years younger. Receiving enthusiastic reviews from their families on their ‘renovated’ looks, the two push the boundaries and continue drinking at a club.
Here begins the set-up of the harmless gents, and they fall into an ever-widening circle of disasters which ensure the men must test themselves… and their friendship.
This story begins way back in mid-fifties America, with the emergence of rock ’n’ roll driven by such enigmatic stars as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and of course the king, Elvis Presley, who brought such an exciting mixture of fashion and sexual energy to his songs and stage performances. This instantly infectious music had all the young guys in America now wanting to be rock ’n’ roll stars themselves, all copying the fashion and definitely the hair styles. Yes, fifties America was now the most exciting place for young kids to be growing up in. The hard times were over, and suddenly there was money and affluence, and teenagers were now reveling in a freedom their parents had never known. In the blink of an eye the music world had been taken over by such an energetic force. Youngsters now had their own dances, their own style of dress, even their own language. Diners or beach parties were now the ‘in’ meeting places, fueled with the potent mixture of rebellious fun, and sexual freedom. The fifties teenager had arrived, and life would never be the same again.
In the county of Jacksonville, in the suburbs of New York, stood Jackson High School, a large modern and spacious building. Inside it was like all other high schools at that time, crammed full of fashion conscious students, and would-be teen idols. At Jackson High there were many wannabe rock stars, all fronting would-be rock groups, but there were two guys who really did have star quality, Chad Dablusie and Joe Randall. To start with, not only were these two young teenagers the very best of friends, they were also the two coolest guys on the campus, great looking, and with enormous Elvis style pompadour. Yup, Chad and Joe were easily the stars of their high school, and being the two most popular rock ’n’ roll singers in the High school you would always find them singing at the local dance halls, or weekend beach parties, with Chad showing off with his unique gift for reaching glass-shattering high notes.
But Joe and Chad were not only just big rock ’n’ roll stars of their school, their athletic prowess made them stars of all college track and field events, as well as baseball and basketball main team players. Making them not just popular with all the girls, but popular with all the guys as well. So every day for Joe and Chad was lived, laughed and loved to the full, in the fast lane of life. Coupled with always gaining straight ‘A’s, in exams, teachers, and even the college Principle would always look the other way rather than upset their two star pupils. Yes, this was the life. Ah yes, this was their life.
But now more than thirty years later, both aged fifty-two, those early years had long gone. Memories which had crystallized over the years were all that remained for these two middle-aged family men. But yes, as teenagers if anyone ever had the world at their feet it was Chad and Joe. But what life giveth, life will eventually taketh away. Never again would they experience the adulation they enjoyed from their college fan club. Gone forever being the local Romeos of their college and never again would they experience singing to a crowd of scantily clad beauties at the summer beach parties.
Also gone, their athletic prowess, and gone forever their incredible youthful good looks. ‘Handsome’ was now definitely not a word you would use to describe these two middle-aged men.
Chad was now pot-bellied and completely bald, while Joe, also overweight, had totally grey receding hair with matching grey moustache. Both of them were now completely out of condition. However, they were now both happily married men, both enjoying idyllic family lives.
Joe, now lived in Ontario, Canada with his wife Stacey and his children: ten year-old Ben, eleven-year-old Samantha, and seven-year-old Lucy. Chad still lived in New York with his wife June and his two daughters, Stella sixteen and fifteen-year-old Katie. Although Joe and Chad had lost contact with each other over the years, they had new friends now, and life was good.
But life can play strange tricks on you. Call it fate, or coincidence, who can say !
Call it what you like, but when a million to one chance reunion happens, it does make you wonder if it was written in the stars, that it was meant to be, that Joe and Chad would meet up for one final time in their lives. This chance reunion happened at the very plush, and very expensive, Cabana Hotel at Cocoa Beach in Florida, the holiday paradise where tourists young and old have their dreams come true, enjoying sun, sea and, of course, Disney World.
Joe, Stacey, and their three children, Ben, Samantha and Lucy, were sitting in the foyer enjoying a well-earned drink after their long journey having just flown in from Ontario for what was to be their summer vacation of a lifetime. The children had talked about nothing else for the last six months and suddenly they were here, Disney World, home to Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White… the list was endless and the more names they mentioned the more excited they became.
As the Randle family sat in the reception area enjoying their drinks, unbeknown to Joe, his best friend from high school, was arriving outside with his wife June and their two children. Actually young ladies more than children, which was exactly why they had wanted to come to Florida. Sea, sun and surfing, which meant, boys, boys, boys. However, to get their dad and mom to come to Florida they said they would love to see Disney World which was a complete lie, but a lie that had worked, and as they all pulled up in their big yellow taxi, Katie and Stella jumped out, so excited, and just stood there in the hot sun looking up at the huge lettering above the giant swing doors. “‘CABANA HOTEL’. Wow,” said Katie. “I can’t believe we’re here.”
“I think it’s even better than that.”
Stella’s eyes now transfixed on two tanned and very good looking young men leaning up against the cream colored hotel wall, making their tanned and smooth skin look even better. Katie looked quickly in the direction of Stella’s stare, then on seeing them, shyly looked away with a mischievous smile, growing quickly into a giggle.
Looking back at Stella she said to her older sister out of the corner of her mouth, “Don’t keep looking at them, they’ll think we’re too interested.”
“But we are too interested,” Stella replied with eyes lighting up.
“Come on Juney, out we get. We’re here at last.” Chad bursting with excitement eased his plump, overweight body off the back seat and out of the cab, the sun instantly bouncing off Chad’s bald head and his specially chosen, outrageously colored shirt. June, had no such problem alighting from the cab, having managed over the years to keep her slim figure, was still a very attractive lady even at fifty years of age, and with her stylish black hair, looked years younger than Chad who was now graciously accepting their suitcases from the boot of the cab, via the cab driver, in return pushing a more than generous tip into the cabby’s hand.
“Thank you sir, and have a nice day,” said the cabby, having gleefully accepted his tip, now turned on his heels.
Correcting the cab driver Chad shouted to him, “I’m gonna have a nice week actually.”
“Then have a nice week, sir,” the cabby shouted back as he quickly got back in and drove off, filtering back into the busy holiday traffic in pursuit of more fares.
“Right kids.” Chad paused for a second himself to look up at the impressive gold lettering that spelt out CABANA HOTEL. “In we go, and don’t keep giggling at all the boys,” said Chad now using his suitcases like a pair of giant hands to move his girls along. “Alright, alright, don’t push Dad; we’re going in.”
But once inside they all had to stop.
“Wow!” Katie’s exclamation totally summed up everyone’s feelings in an instant, as Chad put down his suitcases and joined the rest of the family as they all stood there gazing around at the sheer beauty, elegance, and size of a hotel which would be their holiday home for the next seven days.
“It’s a palace,” was Stella’s stunned observation.
“Well I’ve got to hand it to you, honey,” June still craning her neck backwards as she gazed up at the ornate angel carvings on the ceiling, circling enormous gold chandeliers, “when it comes to choosing a nice hotel, you can certainly pick ’em.” June stood gently shaking her head in disbelief. “And I’ve never ever seen such a highly polished floor in all my life, or such enormous marble pillars, or such…”
“Hey Juney,” Chad interrupted, “nothing but the best for my family, eh? That’s what I told the lady when I booked it, and that’s what we’ve got,” he said, putting his arm around June’s shoulder. “That is what I wanted for us to have, the very best hotel, for the very best summer vacation we’ve all ever had as a family. So come on gang let’s go and get the key to our apartment, and let’s get started on enjoying our vacation right now,” he said, picking up the suitcases again and marching on towards the reception desk, situated right in the middle of the large reception area.
This slightly overbearing nerve center of the hotel was manned by three impeccably dressed men all in regulation black suits, crisp white shirts, and conservative blue and white ties. Their attire was enhanced by gold cufflinks and tie pins, carrying the hotel’s colorful red and greenshielded crest.
As Chad and his family approached the large, half-moon shaped desk to check in, Chad was in no mood after their long journey to stand about waiting in a queue for their key. So squeezing past other recently arrived families, all standing around chatting and enjoying the grandness of the hotel and obviously in no such rush, Chad maneuvered himself gently up to the light wooden paneled desk with black marbled top, and dropped his cases loudly onto the floor with a resounding bang so as to attract maximum attention and swift service.
The nearest receptionist to Chad was the reception manager, a very slim, upright, middle forties gentleman who looked over his glasses in the direction of the loud thud, the lights highlighting the grey flecks in his hair.
Now as we get older our appearance can change dramatically, but our personality will always stay the same. So Chad’s fun loving and excitable exterior positively exploded with happiness, as he and his beloved family having had at last reached the hotel’s reception desk. The euphoria following the realization that they were now, at last, starting their summer vacation was almost too exciting to handle for Chad as he proceeded to get louder and louder.
“Ah, just the man!” Chad instantly announcing to the manager’s glare. “We are the Dablusie family, this is my lovely wife June and my two lovely daughters Stella…”
“Be quiet Dad,” Stella whispered.
“… and Katie.”
“Shhh, people are looking Dad,” said Katie, smiling apologetically, like her sister, to everyone.
“Let them look. Who cares? We are on vacation, and for the next seven days, the Dablusie family are going to have fun, fun, fun.”
“He’s been a bit over-worked of late, you understand,” explained June to the man behind the reception desk who had now walked over to them, but appeared to be so miserable you wondered how he got such a job in a holiday hotel.
“Cheer up Mac, it might never happen,” said Chad, still jesting.
“Dad, just ask for the key,” Katie, with her head bowed whispered quietly.
“Okay, okay,” agreed Chad.
Now fluttering his eyelids at the receptionist as he asked, “Can you pleeeease… and I want you to do this without smiling…” said Chad to the now more miserable-then-ever desk clerk, “do a little spin-turn and give us our apartment key?” unable to resist adding a ‘whoopee’ on receiving the key.
A small distance away, sitting quietly, waiting for a hotel porter to help carry their luggage to their room, Joe, having casually observed the scene at the reception desk, quipped to his wife, “You know Stace, some people just get so easily excited. Now you take that fat guy over there at the reception desk. He’s been making more noise on his own than a busload of tourists.”
What Joe didn’t know was that he was about to be stunned by fate’s ‘stungun’.
“Porter, take Mr Dablusie’s luggage up to room 203 please.”
“Mr Dablusie,” Joe thought quietly to himself. “I know that name… nah… no way… nope, no way could that be Chad Dablusie, my best buddy from Jackson Junior High, but could it be?” Joe had to find out.
“What’s up Dad? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
Joe was startled back to reality by his son’s high-pitched inquisitive voice.
“Yeah,” joined in the girls eager to get moving and start having fun. “Nah,” thought Joe yet again, “it just couldn’t be.”
“Joe, what are you muttering about?” asked Stacey, sitting up in her easy chair getting herself ready to make a move.
“Well, you see that guy over there with the colorful shirt standing by the elevator with his family? Well, I think it just might be Chad! I mean, I know it’s been thirty-odd years, but… no, no,” Joe began again mumbling to himself.
“Na, Chad was really slim, and he had a big mop of jet-black hair as well.”
“Well he wouldn’t have a big mop of jet-black wavy hair now, after all these years would he?” explained Stacey.
Then in an unrehearsed chorus, Lucy, Samantha and Ben all shouted out,
“Wait a minute,” said Stacey. “When we first met and started going steady you used to talk all the time about a Chad. You and Chad did this in high school and you and Chad did that. So are you saying you think this is the Chad of all those years ago?”
“I dunno Stace. No, no it can’t be.”
“Well there’s an easy way to find out, honey. Come on.”
Stacey, instantly getting to her feet and picking up her handbag.
“Hell, Stace I only heard the clerk say Mr Dablusie. I mean, I don’t know if this guy’s name is even Chad!”
“So let’s go and ask the clerk at reception right now and sort this out once and for all. Come on kids.”
“Yeah,” was the chorus back.
Stacey led the family military style straight up to the reception desk.
“We’ll sort this out and then get on with our vacation.”
About the Author
My name is Mick J. Clark; I am a singer/songwriter. I am on the Sonorus Record Label. I had 500,000 Streams on my songs last year. I have written over 60 songs, of which 54 of my songs are being played by Emerge Music in shops. I have two songs on an album, ‘Goa Chillout Zone Vol 9’ which reached No 1 in the iTunes Electronic Chart. I am played on many Radio Stations. Three Albums and three E.Ps, called ’Notes 1, 2,3,4,5 and 6, Rock, Ballads, R&B, Dance, Latin and Country.
Last year my summer song, ‘Anuther Sunny Hulliday’ getting over 100,000 streams and my Christmas E.P. over 200,000 streams on my three Christmas songs.
Dirty Ball by Cassandra George Sturges is the third book in the fantasy fiction mythological series Jungle Beauty Goddesses, preceded by book one, Pretty Blue Ball, and book two, Aquatic Ball. In this installment, the Jungle Beauty Goddess Afar is the star as her journey goes from youth through her evolution as an independent and dynamic deity—Goddess of Earth—and how she wields such an extraordinary responsibility and uninhibited power. As she sculpts and molds and creates, she finds that the one thing she cannot control is the free will of her creations…not their emotions, not their hearts. She also steps back and lets her children (the people of Earth) rule themselves, watching as they rise and fall by color and continent alongside her reluctant partner, Mada.
Solution: We, the merbeings /mermaids/merfolks, are on the side of the Jungle Beauty Goddesses. We want to preserve the natural beauty of Earth and all of its life forms that are capable of adapting to Earth’s natural environment causing the least amount of damage to the cosmos.
We, the Mermaids, do not need to me be monitored like humans. We do not need the assistance of other worldly guides, angels, or higher order omnificent beings to exist and coexist peacefully with like-minded beings on planet Earth.
We will not use or create industrialized products or services, technology, or substances that will destroy the Earth’s natural resources. The Earth, as it is, without alterations, machines, or chemicals creates the prime and ultimate living conditions for our species.
We are the natural evolutionary heirs to planet earth bequeathed by the hands of destiny. Planet earth is rapidly becoming an aquatic planet designed for life forms which can adapt to a water-only environment. If you sign planet Earth over to us for safekeeping—you will never have to worry about this planet being selfishly exploited for its resources. You will never have to come here again and you are free to live your life as you please.
With the deepest Respect and Love,
By signing this document, you are collectively agreeing to give Planet Earth to Mermaids who would graciously take domain over all life forms in this world.
About the Author
Cassandra George Sturges is the author of “A Woman’s Soul on Paper,” “Success & Beauty is an Attitude,” “The Illusion of Beauty: Why Women Hate Themselves & Envy Other Women,” and “Why Racism is a Mental Illness.” For many years, she was an advice columnist for Today’s Black Woman Magazine and is currently a full-time psychology and sociology professor at a college in the mid-west. She is a high school dropout who graduated with her General Education Diploma and eventually earned five college degrees including two masters and a doctorate degree. In her late forties, she began making life-size fabric sculpture, cloth dolls that turned out to be the main characters in her Jungle Beauty Goddesses coming of age, modern creation Nubian Mythology fantasy fiction, sensuous, romantic series. She is the mother of two adult children, a grandmother, and for over 20-years has shared her life with her twin flame.
Sonny Galas is an only child being raised by his mother-a widow—and the loving help of his grandfather, also widowed. Living in a Santa Monica apartment complex owned by ‘Grandpa’ all is well and average for this close-knit family until a certain French family come into the picture, in need of a place to rent. They soon show their colors in various ways, topping it off by slapping a suit on their patient, kind landlord. Sonny’s family sees no better option than selling their only asset-the apartments-and getting far away from their Lawyer-packing tenants. Far, as in ‘leaving the country’, and this is where their true adventure begins. South of the border becomes their new home.
From their journey through third-world narrow roads, small towns where no English is spoken, to long, hot unending desert roads and through humid coastal towns they continue toward their big city destination, Guadalajara, where their life begins and they encounter everything and everyone from kind helpers to con-artists and crazies and from strangers to good friends, both Mexican and American. From young boy to teenager, as the years pass, Sonny sees it all: his family’s ups and downs, the country’s ups and downs with its own political third-world corruption, and his own transformation from a simple boy in a new country to a growing youth, fully fluent in Spanish; a devilish yet fun-loving teenager now with roots firmly planted and sprouting happily in his new home, his new country. From the adventures and joys of boyhood with his friends and pals to the wild days through grade school, junior high and high school with the opportunities given him as a bi-lingual kid to living through the set-backs that could trouble any family-Mexican or American-even scare of the faint of heart, he takes it all in; after all, now he’s Mexican. The fiestas, the friends, the awesome busy modern streets of Guadalajara in the early Seventies to the early Eighties, Guadalajara, the country’s capital of Mariachis.
“I sat in the backseat, staring behind at the apartments as we took off in that little lemon of a car we had–a 1970 Ford Pinto–that gave my mother trouble at least once every other week, to the point that even the mechanics had given up on it. In any case, we puttered off southbound toward the international border…” (chapter 3)