The Eyes of Texas

The following is an excerpt from my novel in progress, The Eyes of Texas. 13-year-old Dallas native Jolene Purdy skips school to watch the President and Mrs. Kennedy in Dealey Plaza. What she witnesses not only changes her life but the entire world.

My daddy never had boys. I was his only child. He took me deer hunting one season and had me shoot one. He told me not to shoot it in the head because he saved the heads to mount them in the cabin up north. I guess he and his buddies had some kind of competition to see how many deer heads they could decorate their cabins with. I found it disgusting.

Daddy said the reason we went deer hunting was to control the population. If we didn’t the deer would take over the woods. There’d be dead deer lying all over the place and deer wandering into town looking for food like cats. I said, “Yeah, but we don’t kill cats and mount them on the wall.”

He said, “That’s because they don’t have pretty antlers.”

But I wanted to please Daddy so I tried to kill one and, of course, I shot it in the head. When we got up close, the bullet tore through his skull like a piece of bloody carpet ripped up, flap hanging and all. There was no way Daddy could ever mount that and show it off. I thought he’d yell.

But he didn’t say nothing. He just looked at it, tied its legs and said, “Jolene, you shore made us a lot of venison for tonight!”

On November 22, 1963, I was right to the side of President Kennedy when he was shot. He looked just like that deer.

The Jewel – Dallas, 1963

The following is an online writing assignment. We used the first sentence to see where the jewel took us. The book Dallas 1963 influenced my writing. With racial tension in the news lately, I thought it appropriate to take a trip back to see what segregation was like over 50 years ago.

She found a jewel down inside herself and she wanted to walk where people could see her and gleam it around.


She thought this time people are gonna see it, not like last time when she swallowed the goldarn thing, You know how hard it is to pass a daggum jewel after it travels the happy highway?


First, she’d walk by all the snooty girls in English class and sit by the sunny window. Then a ray would hit the jewel and blind them all so bright it’d burn all the hairs on their heads, ruining their bouffant hairdos.  She bet Johnny Taylor wouldn’t ask any of them to Homecoming then!


After that, she’d take the bus with her friend Violet down to Neiman Marcus. They’d shop in the art department and buy paint brushes and sketch pads. Then they’d go down to the lunch counter.


The waitress would say, “I’m sorry, I can serve you but not your friend here.”


She would say, “But she bought something. Why can’t she eat here?”


“That’s just how it is, Miss.”


Then she’d shine that jewel right in that waitress’ eyes and hypnotize her into taking Violet’s order. Not only did that waitress serve her, she didn’t charge her neither!


She and Violet would walk out Neiman Marcus that day and anyone that stared got a real good look at that jewel.

a tongue-twisting tale of terrific terror

Catherine Cummings contracted a condition called cowpox;

she coughed the color of carbuncle and cut a contusion from convulsions.

She caught cankers and cold sores and cavities from caries,

cataplexy from collywobbles,

and cholera from chronic colitis.


Christopher Columbus came cruising along,

he gave her chlamydia, crabs, and the clap.

She concussed and collapsed into a coma.

Catherine’s cousin contacted Columbus to crack the code

of Catherine’s casket of commodities.


Columbus quickly cracked the code of Catherine’s casket

only to see a clear, cold curse:

May he who cracks this code contract cowpox, convulsions,

caries, collywobbles, cholera, colitis, chlamydia, crabs and the clap.

miss muscle beach contest

August, 1951. Jack takes a break from Congress in Washington, D.C. to judge the first Miss Muscle Beach Contest in Venice Beach, California. After much deliberation, the judges choose a gal with Greta Garbo legs.
miss muscle beach 1951

Jack surveys the line of beauties to decide which ones to collect phone numbers (what the hell, why not all of them?). He walks over to the newspaper stand and starts reading about the Korean Conflict when he bumps into Marilyn.

‘Excuse me,’ he says as he lingers for a while.

‘That’s quite all right,’ she answers in a breathy voice. She continues her conversation with a man in horn-rimmed glasses. She’s a vision in a frilly two piece polka-dotted bathing suit.

Marilyn and the man both look at Jack who is standing there pretending to read trying not to look awkward.

‘It was nice meeting you, Mr. Bradbury,’ she says as she turns to Jack. They walk along the sandy shore and palm trees.

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cut your conversation short,’ he says in his Boston accent.

‘It’s okay, I had been talking to him for a while now. In fact, I was on my way to the Miss Muscle Beach Contest but he was so interesting. He’s a science fiction writer and I study literature at UCLA. By the way, you don’t sound like you’re from around here. On vacation?’

He doesn’t answer right away. He’s in a daze from her voice. Then he snaps himself back. ‘Yes. I’m a congressman.’

‘A congressman? Oh my. Do I call you sir?’

‘Nah. Just Jack. Wanna swim?’

‘Of course!’

The water is cool against the Los Angeles heat. It feels good against the wrenching back pain he got from saving men’s lives on the PT-109 in the war. Marilyn jumps up and down laughing in the waves. She glistens like a mermaid, she belongs in the water.

He thinks about his father pressuring him to marry. He’s 34 years old and needs to run for the senate if he’s going to run for president. He can’t do that as a single man.

This was his older brother’s job but he died in the war. Jack was supposed to do what he wants like sun on the beach, swim with lovely blondes and judge beauty contests. He wasn’t supposed to settle down and run for president.

Dad will never accept Marilyn. Besides, she’ll never want to be a boring senator’s wife in Washington. Jack can’t see her going to tea, stuffing those boobs into a suit jacket as she chats with other senator wives. Imagine her trying to talk to Mother about sending the kids to boarding school. Not in this lifetime.