Provincial by Stan Hollingworth is a 61-page chapbook with six short stories. They could be considered short tales of down home livin’. From a personal standpoint, I recall some of these days without the least hint of fondness. There are revelations for those unfamiliar with the starkness of poverty. Poverty isn’t fun but a couple of stories in this collection are; the rest is nostalgia.
Road to Nashville Jimmy was sure he was a talented country music singer. Trapped in a small town he had everything going against him. Trapped by family and obligations; he was resigned to going nowhere. Until the talent agent stopped by. Jimmy got in the truck on the way to Nashville drinking bourbon as he went. He would send a message to Sarah later … if he needed to.
Nine Ball The rules for the game of Nine Ball could vary from venue to venue so Bart explained them carefully to the two veteran players, Dick Morris and Al Menkin. Morris, a real estate developer played at Walt’s Billiards enough to call it home. Menkin was a farmer, even after he sold much of his land to Morris. Outside the tavern, Al’s new tractor was parked behind Dick’s Mercedes. Morris was only using it that day because his Navigator was in the garage. The Mercedes was his wife’s. Morris was all about success in his land dealings. Sometimes pesky zoning regulations got in the way but Dick’s wife was on the zoning board. Dick was talented at billiards but even more talented at unsettling his opponents with seemingly innocuous remarks while they were shooting. Al had been practicing at billiards but was not as facile with language. But in this game, Al’s new tractor was in play against the Mercedes of Dick’s wife. The first to win ten games would go home with two new vehicles. It was obvious to the gathered townspeople that Al had been practicing his game. And what the spectators heard about a land deal between Morris and Menkin gave the impression that Al had come more prepared for the verbal battle as well.
Bert, Will, and Clyde The three were brothers, all three close to middle age, and all three failures at life. But at least they could get together to hunt occasionally. This last time was a bit much, though. An important, grave secret had been created. The keeping of the secret raised trust issues between the “boys.” In a quote attributed to many, “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.” How necessary was it to keep this secret?
Dear Jack There had been events in Jack’s early life that affected everyone around him. He was reminded of it every day as the coma made him a captive audience. Just when almost everyone around him died, when his entire life support system almost slipped away, he was rescued. Monday is blue jello day.
Hummer Bea and Evan were just a couple who wanted to defend what was theirs. When Cal and Wayne told them about a local organization they could attend to help defend freedom, Evan was an immediate sell. Bea was a bit skeptical. There would be camping sessions where they would learn survival skills and receive marksmanship training. For Evan, cool. For Bea, a time to watch out for and take care of Evan. At the initial weekend camp, physical training was vigorous. Weapons training could have gone a bit better if they could have gotten some of the guns disassembled for cleaning. The firing range went well except for the destroyed wheelchair, uncontrolled sporadic bursts of fire and the complete destruction of the group’s mascot (see the title of this story). This is a laugh-out-loud story.
Sharin’ This is the funniest story of the collection. It is one story readers can really sink their teeth into.