Them That Rut Will

THEM THAT RUT with colors

Four boys found naked in Flint City.

Alcohol is suspected.

Spring came hard to Flint County and the high school boys were rutting. What snow remained from the long winter melted faster than anyone expected it would—as it did every year—and transformed the earth into a boggy ground that gave way and squeaked beneath each of the boys’ fevered footsteps. Little green buds dotted the trees and green grass grew in patches on the thawing ground. But even the new grass could not hold the soil together and the rutting high school boys left trails of the soil stabbed through with green new shoots wherever they walked, fallen in moist clumps from their boots, scratched in a thick paste on stoops and pickup truck running boards. Nights were cool and a little overcast, but the long gray winter was finally giving way. The high school state basketball tournament, March Madness, was just around the corner and summer would be just after that. The high school boys were out at all hours, all wearing tight t-shirts tucked into slightly looser jeans even though it was cool enough for jackets, silver belt buckles, baseball caps so new that they looked starched, and they were spending every night (even school nights) racing around Flint County in a desperate search for girls and beer and for anything that might shock them back to life after a long, gray winter.

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The Congregation of the Elephant

Congregation of the Elephant

Flint City circus goes off without a hitch!

Local boy becomes hero in the aftermath.

A nameless circus appeared without an invitation on the edge of Flint City in the remote part of Illinois on a morning afternoon in 1980. They parked their trucks and trailers on the open fairgrounds beside the railroad tracks on the south side of the village, just east of the horse track and north of the railroad tracks. This would have been a normal unimportant October day except for the uninvited clowns and midgets and snaggle-toothed men in overalls. Flint City was just about 1000 people and not much happened around there, so Mayor Tom Landrum noticed right away that a circus had moved into the fairgrounds. Landrum had been mayor for only a year at that time and he was closing in on 60 years old. He was on his way to a job in Smithville, just south there of Flint City about 10 miles, when he pulled off the highway in his rusted and sputtering Chevy pickup into the fairgrounds.

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How To Judge a Book By its Cover

A lot of thought and work goes into designing a beautiful and effective book cover. I wrote an awesome book that’s now on its third cover, so I think it makes a decent case study for examining how important a book cover is. Let’s look at the evolution of covers for By Men or By the Earth.

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