Saint of the Burning Heart

by Julia Robb

Sneak Peak

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CHAPTER ONE

A Mack truck stopped for Nicki and Daddy an hour after Daddy stuck his thumb out, announcing itself with a wheeze and grind long before it jerked to a halt.

The stooped man and little girl waited on land surrounded by grass to the horizon, not a bump, not a swell in sight, dawn sky surrounding them from arch of the world to arch of the world.

“This your kid?” the driver asked, throwing the passenger door open.

“Yeah.”

“Her mother Mescan?”

Nicki stared at the driver with almond eyes. The sun slid up another notch, painting blue highlights in her black hair until it shone like a Yaqui mask.

“Okay, okay, fine, no problem, where you going, fella?” the driver asked.

“Wherever you dump us,” Daddy said, pulling his felt hat down, pretending to sleep.

Daddy didn’t care. The route never varied, from the Panhandle, on the Oklahoma border, down through West Texas, then up again, like a prowling coyote.

Once they climbed from the latest 18-wheeler, or open-bed truck toting cotton to the gin–white flakes sweeping behind them like a blizzard–once they were in Olney or Baird or Hamlin or Borger, anyplace, everyplace, Daddy trudged through the neighborhoods mowing lawns for a dollar each.

Chugging down the two-lane, the truck passed sunflowers stretching upward like long-legged suns, and mesquite trees hugging the ground.

Sundown brought them to rocky green hills covered with lush grama grass then a town square. Evening gold gilded the roofs of the buildings, like a blessing.

“This is Encendido, fella, the end of the line,” the driver said.

If Nicki had been less sleepy, she would have seen two-story Limestone buildings lining a square, like buildings in a cowboy movie, and a red-roofed building squatting in the middle.

But Daddy grabbed her hand and pulled her through the streets toward the edge of town until he discovered the Sunset Motor Courts; separate stucco cabins with parking spaces in front.

“Stay here,” Daddy said, picking Nicki up, crossing the linoleum floor, dumping her on the room’s only bed. She was hungry. It had been a long time since the truck driver gave her the sandwich. The room smelled bad and it was dark.

A monster was hiding in the closet. Nicki covered her head with the grimy chenille bedspread, then dreamed she ran from a hulking thing, chasing her, help, daddy help.

Flinging the door open, Daddy staggered into the room and fell across the bed, waking Nicki.

Daddy did not bring food and Nicki was so disappointed she cried. Her stomach screamed.

Daddy snored, but woke when a man wearing a cowboy hat pushed his way inside the room and hauled him to his feet.

Sticking his hand into Daddy’s pockets, the man hauled out a wad of dollar bills and waved them in front of Daddy’s nose: “Taking this right in front of the bartender was not smart. You’re under arrest,” the man said.

Inside the car, a grill separated the front and back seats. But it was a short ride because the man stopped in front of a building with barred windows.

“You’re gonna have to sleep with my kids,” the man told Nicki, and took her into a room where children cuddled together on a bed like a litter of warm puppies, breath whistling in and out of their mouths.

Yelling woke her. “He’s daid, come quick, he done hanged himself,” a man called, “come on, I don’t wanna stay with no daid man.”

Following the noise, the children found Nicki’s daddy hanging in his cell, his neck stretched by a bed sheet tied to the cell’s top bar, his toes almost touching the floor.

A tall redheaded man leaned on the bars of his cell: “You keeping kids in jail now, Horace?”

The redheaded man’s cell door gaped open.

“Shut up Frank, you’re still under arrest until I find out if that bartender needs a doctor. Stay in that cell,” the deputy said, standing on the cot, cutting the rope from Daddy’s neck.

The hanged man fell like a sack, and Nicki saw his purple tongue bulging from his mouth.

“Daddy, wake up,” she cried.

“Is that his little girl?” Frank asked.

Then Frank flung the cell door open, picked her up in his warm arms, walked from the jail, dropped her into his convertible and drove them through the familiar dark flecked with stars.

Nicki’s eyes drooped in the lulling wind and she slept until the car stopped at a house surrounded by night.

A porch light came on and a tall woman with white hair came to the car, her silver hair floating toward them like a ghost.

“I’m assuming you brought this disgrace on yourself,” the woman said. “The deputy called. He said he’s charging you with assault.”

“Did you call that worthless attorney?”

“I certainly did. But if I could afford to lose you I’d let you rot in jail.”

“Paulita, take this kid,” Frank said, dropping Nicki into the woman’s arms

“I want Daddy,” Nicki said.

“Her father’s worm bait, hung himself. He was just some bum and the kid needs a home,” Frank told Paulita.

“She must have family.”

“Deputy says the man wouldn’t give his last name, has no way to trace him.”

The flashlight blinded Nicki.

“She looks like my daughter. Do you remember what your mother looked like?” the woman asked.

“No.”

“Ana was unhappy with your father.”

“My father spreads misery like horse shit. Why don’t you kick him off this place?”

“We need him.”

“I can run a ranch without him.”

“Forgive him. People do not always marry well.”

“You don’t say. Look Paulita, I want this kid, be like having a puppy.”

They walked to the house, Doña Paulita’s flashlight wavering in front of them, like a lighthouse searching for lost ships.

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Where Does The Government Get Money?

by Holli Carter

Some people seem to think that the money the government spends comes from some random magical place like unicorn nostrils or something. They talk about “the government” as if it’s a person, and it’s a nice one at that.

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“OH, look,” people say, “that nice government is giving money to the poor!”

Well, that would be nice, if the money DID come out of thin air…or angel ear wax…or whatever, but the reality is, it comes from YOU and ME.

Now, it comes from you and me in the form of many, many, many types of taxes, and at all levels of government (state, local, federal), but in this post, we shall deal only with federal and only the income tax, for simplicity’s sake.

You have to realize that the money the feds take arrives to them because if you don’t pay, you will go to jail and they will come for you with guns.

Even if you owe a smallish amount, but don’t fork it over, they will take ALL your stuff. Your house, your car, your furniture…and sell it at auction to get their money. They are not kidding around. They are like the mob, but legalized.

Okay, so we know where the money comes from. Frederic Bastiat was a French writer who told us how to check and see if the government is doing right or wrong with the money it squeezes out of you this way:

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn’t belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

To translate: if a law allows those in government to take what belongs to one and give it to another, and it would be illegal for a regular citizen to do it, then it’s theft. Let’s do an example.

Let’s say I see some poor people on the street. I want to give them money but I have none to give. So, I take my gun and hold up someone on the street, take that money and give it to the poor people. Is that illegal? (Hint: YES) Then, it’s illegal for the government to do it, too.

Now, some (I can hear you saying it!) will say, “That’s like Robin Hood!” No, no, dear reader, it’s not. Remember, Robin Hood was taking back the taxes the evil king had squeezed out of his subjects  and giving them BACK to the peasants. Once again, it was the government that did the plundering!

Let’s go back and look at the initial scenario of the government taking money from YOU and giving it to ME because I make less money than you. Uh-oh. Looks like plunder…

So, the next time you hear on the news that the federal government will “help” by giving money to some “cause” or “invest” money in something, aside from national defense or one of the other things listed in the US Constitution that they are allowed to do, understand that they only got it by stealing it.

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How to be a Transplant Texan (Bless your Heart)

by Mike Cheney 

              It’s amazing how a phrase said in one part of the country can mean something totally different in Texas.  The one phrase that immediately comes to mind is “bless your heart”.  When growing up, my grandmother would tell me that when I did something good. Be it eating everything on my plate; clean my room without being told or holding the door for my sisters, I was sure to hear “bless your heart” as a term of endearment from that dear woman.  Little did I know that in Texas, it usually means something totally different that if you don’t know what it really means is a compliment whereas those that really know what is implied will make everyone in the room snicker under their breath.

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                To a Texan, saying “bless your heart” to someone is usually associated with “you’re a meathead, aren’t you?” or something very similar to that effect.  Being that Texans are polite, they have an amazing ability to know when to use tact and when to come out and say what they are thinking without holding punches back.  If a Texan tells you “bless your heart”, they have already decided that in the company they are in, the tactful approach was the best avenue to use.  Odds are, it’s a lady that will tell you this phrase.  And most ladies here seldom swear in public, so this phrase is used frequently.

                I remember an incident where I was at a friend’s mama’s house and she used the phrase.  I had just learned what it really meant to a Texan.  As we were sitting their talking to mama (who was an absolute picture of what a Texas lady was mind you; she has since passed away) my friend said something that actually drew the phrase out of mama.  As she said it, I was drinking something and nearly spit it out across the room laughing.  Needless to say, mama knew that I knew absolutely what she was getting at and she gave me a smile that meant the world to me.

               

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How to be a Transplant Texan (And not look like an idiot)

by Mike Cheney

When I moved to Texas in late 2005, I really didn’t quite know what to think.  Having spent the previous 12 years in rural Missouri and growing up in rural Michigan really didn’t prepare me for what I was moving into.  It was a bit of a shock, really.

Sure, I knew about some of the music (didn’t really know about the regional music until I stumbled upon it) and we all are taught about the Alamo, oil and the cattle that dot the landscape in grade school. But, the beauty that the land holds from the top of the panhandle to the bottom by Laredo is unmatched.  It’s something that can’t be taught with pictures. It has to be witnessed firsthand to truly get the grasp you need.

The most interesting part of Texas is that no matter where you are, the natives look at transplants a little differently.   I’m not sure if it is good or bad thing, really.  One thing I have learned is that if you try to change the culture or how they think, you’re going to be shunned as if you questioned Tom Landry’s commitment to the Cowboys.  If you’re here and you want to be even remotely accepted, sit back and watch.  Ask questions about things, but don’t be overly nosy.  It takes an observant person about 20 seconds to learn that Texans are polite, but not overly friendly.  If a Texan wants to show you something or how it is done, you can bet they are proud of it.  If you accept them as they are and don’t try to change every possible thing in creation, they might actually like you.