Radio Interview

Hey Friends,

Check out my recent online radio interview with Artist First Radio Network. Go to their website-www.artistfirst.com and listen to the hour-long show that aired on 3/12/18.

God Bless,
D.R. Bucy

Advertisements

First Chapter-“The Dark Side of Dixie”

SPRING 

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today:
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year. 

From, “A Prayer in Spring,” by Robert Frost


Chapter 1

“Grandma, what’s a Camel Light?” It had been a hot and humid typical midsummer’s evening in the great state of Tennessee.  The wood door was open with the hopes a cool breeze might find its way through. I sat on the back steps and gazed up at the night sky watching for shooting stars while I waited for my bath water to heat. In the kitchen behind me, it suddenly became deathly quiet. I glanced over my shoulder through the screen-door at my grandma. She had paused in the middle of taking the big, iron pot of boiling water off the stove, and stared at me over the top of her glasses. This was never a good sign.

“Where in the name of all that’s holy, did you hear that?”

From the living room I heard a snort of laughter. That’s where my grandpa sat listening to the radio. “Henry Lee Evans,” I replied. “He said we thought we were better than other folks and gonna be the only ones in heaven, ‘cause we were Camel Lights.”

D. R. Bucy/THE DARK SIDE OF DIXIE 16

“Well, you have to consider the source darlin’. Them little kids haven’t had much of a chance, what with their daddy bein’ the way he is and all. Lord knows their sweet mama has tried. She shore led her ducks to pore water there.”

I had heard the stories that circulated in the community about “Ole Man Evans.” He was the personification of the Boogey Man to me. Never mind the fact he was a real flesh and blood person, and the father of some of my closest playmates. It was said he was mean and worked his older boys like mules. If they didn’t do to suit him, he would whip them with the plow lines. If their mama tried to intervene he would then turn on her. It seemed the entire neighborhood knew of the situation, but no one ever tried to do anything to help. Child abuse and domestic violence were not house-hold words back then. What a man did in his own home with his family was his business. There hadn’t been many folks around who would interfere. There was a time in small isolated areas like Johnson’s Bend, a man such as Mr. Evans, might have gotten a late night visit from a group of, concerned citizens. The other men in town would come together and mete-out a good old fashion “butt whuppin’.” People in these backwoods places liked to handle their own affairs. They didn’t take kindly to strangers snooping around in their business.

“I would bet, if I were a bettin’ woman,” Grandma said. “Course I’m not, that Henry Lee hasn’t been to church a half-a-dozen times in his life. He’s probably heard someone else say that and thought he could insult you by callin’ you a ‘Campbellite’—and there is no such thing. Only mean spirited people who don’t know any better use that word. When you’re older I’ll explain all of it to you.”

Another one of those, ‘when you’re older things,’ I had thought. Sure would be a lot of stuff I would know when I got older. I figured I might end up as smart as Grandma.

D. R. Bucy/THE DARK SIDE OF DIXIE 17

“Anyways, Bobby Ray told him to shut-up,” I said. From the living-room I heard the Carter Family singing ‘Beautiful Home’ on the radio, but the music didn’t drown out the sound of Grandpa’s laughter.

Grandma poured the last pot of hot water into the tub. “Shuck them dirty clothes off and get in, mind you test it first with your big toe.” I peeled off my clothes and climbed into the tub and sat down. “Here, lean back and let me wash your hair, then you can do the rest,” Grandma said. “Where’d you get all this sand and mud in your hair? You been in that creek again?”

“Yes mam.”

“You’re gonna get snake bit child, if you don’t stay outta there.”

“Yes mam. Grandma, what’s it like to have a baby?”

Grandma stopped scrubbing my head. I looked up at her and she looked down at me, over the top of her glasses again. “Now what brought that on?” she asked.

“Henry Lee says havin’ a baby is like a chicken shootin’ an egg out its butt, that so?”

Grandpa continued to laugh loudly from the other room. I wondered what was so funny on the radio. Grandma got up from her knees and went and closed the door between the kitchen and the living room. I didn’t understand why she had done this. Grandpa never came in while I was taking a bath. He said I was a young lady now and it wouldn’t be proper.

“It appears Henry Lee was an over-flowin’ fount of information today,” Grandma said dryly, and went back to washing my hair.

“Ow Grandma, too hard,” I yelled.

“Sorry. You know, you may have to quit playin’ with the Evans kids, if Henry Lee can’t

D. R. Bucy/THE DARK SIDE OF DIXIE 18

keep all his worldly knowledge to himself.”

“Yes mam, well, is it?”

“Is it what?”

“Grandma!” I exclaimed in exasperation. “Is havin’ a baby like a chicken shootin’ an egg out its butt?”

Grandma had thought for a moment. “I suppose there’s a similarity of sorts, but you don’t need to worry ‘bout that now. When you’re…”

“I know, I know, when I’m older.” Down in the bottom, a whip-per-will called. A few moments later from farther away, I heard another one. It had seemed like a good time to change the subject. “Grandma, why do the whip-per-wills make that sound every night ‘bout this time?” Finished with my hair, Grandma sat back in her chair watching to see that I washed everything else to her satisfaction.

“They’re talkin’ to one another,” she said. “When they get home at night they like to sit on their tree branch and tell each other about their day. Like we set on the front porch and visit with neighbors sometimes.”

I looked back at Grandma and thought she was only funning me, but she looked serious. “But they all sound alike,” I replied.

“To us maybe, but not to the other whip-per-wills.” I had guessed Grandma was right. I knew she did know everything, Grandpa had said so every day. 

Final teaser before the book’s release later this summer.

 

Introduction to “The Dark Side of Dixie”

DEDICATION 

This novel is dedicated to all my neighbors, the hard-working God-fearing people of the South.

 

The Bible says there’s a time and season for every purpose under heaven. This is the way I think of my life growing up in the South, like the seasons of the year, each new phase important and necessary in order for me to grow and move on to the next one. Some people view the South as portrayed through the eyes of Margaret Mitchell, in what is in my opinion, one of the greatest novels ever written, Gone with the Wind. Perhaps the novel isn’t totally realistic, but a beautiful story of a much simpler time when the hearts of men swelled with chivalry for their fair maidens pure and fragile as a Magnolia blossom in bloom. A time when family had meant everything and people willing to lay down their life for the land they loved. That time, if it ever did truly exist, is gone with the wind. Reality is rarely ever that beautiful or romantic, and along with it had gone the innocence of a people steeped in family traditions and a false sense of entitlement due to the color of their skin. The Civil War had put an end to the atrocity of slavery, but what remained in

D. R. Bucy/THE DARK SIDE OF DIXIE 4

its wake, a dark side of Dixie many would like to forget. It heralded the beginning of reuniting the country, but for the people of the South, a precursor to years of devastating poverty, racism and illiteracy, and sparked the re-birth of something there all along, the making of “moonshine whiskey.” This ancient art had gotten its start in the mountains of Appalachia in the 1700s when the Scotch-Irish began pouring into America. The regions of Tennessee and Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina were well known for the practice. Making moonshine and being poor wasn’t the only thing these mountain folks had in common. They had despised anything to do with the federal government. They were a proud and a tough lot and never gave up or gave in, and when prohibition was passed in 1919, these rugged mountaineers found for once they had something the rest of country wanted, alcohol. They dug in their heels and began making this illegal potion to sell for cash. They were simply trying to survive the best way they knew how.  I believe they may have drunk a lot of their product too.  Alcohol has always been the most abused substance known to man, and unfortunately, it seems to be passed down from one generation to the next. Not all the people involved in the illicit whiskey business were “good ole boys” or poor farmers trying to provide for their families. Prohibition brought about a considerable increase in the price of alcohol, and anywhere lots of money is to be made, you’re likely going to get a large criminal element, and more often than not, that spells trouble.

Some people have said the South would never rise again, not after Lee surrendered that April day at the courthouse in Virginia. That’s a matter of opinion also, and according to which side of the Mason-Dixon you reside. For the people who lived through it, and for the ones of us born into it, we cannot forget—nor should we, it’s our heritage and in part, our legacy. We must change the things we can and learn from those things we cannot.

Keep watching. In the next few weeks the Prologue to “The Dark Side of Dixie.”

 

 

 

 

Short Story-“The Ghost Dog of Mason Road”

We lay on the balcony telling ghost stories when we heard it, the sound of a chain jingling in the distance. I was nine years old that summer of 1959 and staying over with my cousins, Kitty and Libby, one of my most favorite things to do. A warm night, little breeze stirred on the outskirts of the small west Kentucky town of Hazel.

“Did you hear that?” Libby asked.

“Yeah, I heard it,” I replied.

Libby huddled next to me with Kitty on my other side. Kitty sat up and turned her head in the direction of the sound. “I think it’s comin’ from the creek bottom,” she said.

My cousins lived in the perfect house for anything that was scary and spooky. Huge and old and more than a little rundown,like something Alfred Hitchcock would have come up with for one of his mystery thrillers. In a child’s mind it was everything a good haunted house should be. The house was built in the early 1900’s by a prominent couple in the community named Mason, both were doctors, and at the time of its construction, it had been labeled the “Mason Mansion.” Even the road that ran by the house bore the family’s name. The house had remained quite impressive in this rural area for many years, but now referred to as the “Ole Mason Mansion.” As the badly weathered clapboards were in serious need of a good coat of paint and parts of the fancy wood scroll work along the high dark eaves had rotted and fallen off. Since my aunt and uncle only rented the place, I’m sure painting this monstrosity had not been high on their list of priorities.

Across the front of the house twin balconies hung side by side, one of which had become unsafe and access to it sealed off. My cousins and I lay on the other one, and it happened to be situated directly over my aunt and uncle’s bedroom, so we had to whisper. On the right side of the house next to the road, an L-shaped porch ran the entire length of the dwelling. From it two doors led into the main house, one into a formal dining room with a beautiful chandelier and the other into a small kitchen in the back. The large, airy rooms were finished primarily in the dark tongue and groove wood and featured high ceilings and lots of shadowy corners. On each side of the immense family room, massive wooden staircases ascended to the second level hallways that led to the balconies and to the spacious bedrooms and to a smaller room used mostly for storage.

“You think it’s comin’ from the creek?” Kitty asked, and glanced at me.

“Yeah, I think so,” I said.

The sound grew louder and fast approached by way of the road at the rear of the house. Beneath us the aged boards creaked and groaned, as if the house heaved one last sigh before it settled for the night. Jingle, jingle, jingle, closer and closer the sound came to our open porch accommodations, and without realizing, my cousins and I had stood and were leaning out over the balcony railing peering down at the road. The faint smell of Honey Suckle lingered in the night air and mingled with the stronger, more pungent aroma of horse manure from the barn lot, and if I tried really hard, I could smell the sweet, June apples on the tree below. It had made my mouth water. Our listening ears had then picked up another sound, the pitter patter click click of animal paws striking the hard-packed dirt road.

“Oh, it’s probable only one of the Gibson’s coon dogs that’s broke its chain and now’s out runnin’ around,” Kitty said, and appeared to lose interest.

The sound drew level with the house and we leaned further over the banister and strained our eyes to see the dog,or some four-legged beast, come trotting by, but nothing did. The sounds of the jingling chain and the steady pitter patter, click click, of animal paws proceeded unabated past the house and on down the road. The three of us followed its progress with our ears, but no dog, or anything else, passed before our waiting eyes. My cousins and I looked at one another in astonishment. How could this be, the road was as plain as day? The big yellow moon hung in the clear night sky like a huge, ripe melon. Nothing larger than a mouse could have passed that way without being seen.

“Did you see anythin’?” Libby asked hesitantly. Kitty and I nodded we hadn’t.

Before the sound could fade away, Kitty, always the tomboy of the family, slipped over the balcony railing, shinnied down the porch post, and shot across the yard in hot pursuit. Libby and I chose a more conventional way to exit the balcony. I was to chicken to slide down the post. We tiptoed down the stairs and eased the screen door open and shut and then leaped off the porch and ran after Kitty. We managed to catchup with her at the end of their long drive. Together we raced down the road after the fast moving, elusive sound. The jingling chain and the pitter patter click click of animal paws were plainly heard and stayed right ahead of us, but nothing came into view for our eager eyes to see. I felt the source of this enticement was so close I should be able to reach out and touch it. For a moment I imagined I could see a magnificent white dog—stretched out and running full tilt with a broken chain dangling from its neck. Truth be told I couldn’t see a blessed thing, and faster and faster we ran, the sound always right before us. Suddenly it stopped, the sound heard no more, and we stood at the edge of town by the road into the city cemetery. As we gasped for breath my cousins and I looked around and listened for the sound to begin again—but absolute quiet. Even the night birds were silent. The full moon glistened off the headstones in the cemetery and cast eerie shadows around them.

“Where did it go? Kitty asks. “Can you still hear it?”

“Naw,” I said, “I don’t hear anythin’.”

“I can’t hear it anymore either,” Libby confirmed.

We stood motionless for several minutes and listened—hoping to catch any further sound from the mysterious, unseen, traveler in the night. At last we had given up and turned and walked slowly home. Not a word had passed between my cousins and me, each lost in our own thoughts for the possible reasons behind that night’s turn of events.  At the house fearless Kitty once again  scampered up the porch post to the balcony while Libby and I quietly opened the screen door and eased up the stairs. After we settled once more on our pallet of quilts, we began to ponder all the different scenarios for what might have just taken place.

“I think it was just a dog runnin’ so fast we couldn’t see it,” Kitty had said.

The only thing I could say to that. If that be the case, there would never be a greyhound born that could outrun this dog.

“Do you think it was—a ghost?” Libby whispered.

“I don’t know,” I said. “But I know I heard it—and I know it was right there in front of me—and I know I didn’t see a thing.”

At the tender age of nine, I hadn’t made up my mind if I really believed in ghosts or not. I suppose like any kid I liked the thought of the possibility. Naturally I had no real concept of what that would entail, and the Old Mason House only added fuel to the notion of their existence. My daddy had told me there was no such thing. My mother on the other hand, believed in things not seen and the unexplained sightings of the dearly departed. She was of true Irish decent and came from a family steeped in superstitions and creepy, hair raising stories. I had believed something special and out of the ordinary happened into our midst that night. And at the time, I hadn’t felt the need for a logical explanation. My cousins and I was in absolute agreement about one thing, we each heard the sound, but none of us saw anything. We didn’t have a scientific explanation on hand, but that hadn’t kept it from being real, it’s what happened.

Kitty and Libby and I never spoke of that night again, and I have always wondered why. Maybe to talk about it would have been to somehow diminish the wonder of it all, and as far as I know, the ghost dog—or whatever it was, has never revealed its presences to anyone else. Many years have passed since that summer night when my cousins and I shared this great adventure. I have lived long enough to realize, there are many things in this world I don’t know. Even more I can’t explain, but there is still enough of the little girl in me that I want to believe. I would like to think this had been the lingering energy of a faithful, old, canine companion making its nightly trek to visit the final resting place of its master. Or perhaps the loving memory from a child of long ago for a cherished pet that lingered and happened to cross our paths that starry night.  An unseen and harmless apparition returning home after a day spent wandering in the woods. I will be the first to tell you, I really don’t know. Simple another of the many unexplained wonders of God’s great universe—and that’s all the explanation that I need.

THE END

Update

Hi Friends,

Wanted to give you an update on my journey to publishing my novel “The Dark Side of Dixie.” It is in its final editing, and then the search for an agent and publisher will begin. Thanks for the many kind words of encouragement, will keep you posted as the process unfolds.

My Best,
D. R. Bucy