Tales Out of School may be purchased from your local bookstore or from
on-line vendors such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
600 Overbrook Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356
Rarely have I read stories that make me
remember being a kid—thinking as, seeing as, imagining as, a kid—the
way these stories do.... Tales Out of School fuses the hypnotic rhythms
or oral storytelling with a poet's sensibility, an irresistible
— Ann Pancake
We're blessed to have this volume of short stories from one of our best
— Silas House
I hoped to show my
students, through my stories, how their lives were major
material for the stories, essays, and poems they would write.
— Ron Houchin
It is as if the over-the-top imagination of a strange Tom Sawyer has
been transplanted into a contemporary Huck Finn.... These deceptive
narratives teeter along the edge of the mater-of-fact and the wonderous.
— Richard Hague
From the book —
swept me out into the neighborhood night, stalking and lurking
about, slinking through backyards and up alleys, terrorizing
dogs with my scent. I would definitely have to stand and piss on
the occasional fence.
took mental inventory of what I’d need. Nothing, I had it all,
as if it was meant to be: off-white slacks, a little loose, a
comfortable gray sweatshirt, several black felt-tip pens from a
kitchen drawer, and white sneakers. Wearing knee and elbow pads
would be nice but would destroy the look. If anything untoward
happened, I knew I’d have to get up and run anyway.
hadn’t considered that my head and face, even with crew-cut
hair, weren’t very catlike. I was not too concerned about
being caught in such a sleepy neighborhood. And I had no tail,
but imagination filled in what reality lacked. Before the night
was over, I’d at least pad out, over crusted snow in my
I turned the sweatshirt inside out to begin making the rosette
spots just right, I pictured myself lying on my left side,
perched on my left elbow, very catlike, surveying the bright
night from under mottled tree shade of our neighbors, the
Meadows’ sprawling juniper.
took almost an hour and a half to gather tools and materials
quietly and make my transformation. I had to be quiet. I had to
get away with it all.
imagined my stepfather looking down at me and over his glasses
at my mother, as I sat at the kitchen table in a ripped and
bloody leopard suit: “This kid is crazy. If you don’t do
something, I will.”
pictured the look of embarrassment on my mother’s face, too,
but mainly I saw myself transformed into a mysterious and
, I was suited up and ready to slip out back. It had taken a
little longer than I’d expected to draw leopard spots on the
fluffy insides of the sweatshirt, and one or two of them
didn’t look quite right. The slacks were smoother, much easier
to guide soft felt tips over. Of course, I left the fronts of
both garments spot free for authenticity with the leopard’s
underbelly. I believe I was sane, if only because I knew that
reality fuels fantasy, and this suit had to be as real as
stood in that dark back room looking out at the almost untouched
blanket of snow over the neighborhood. Fences stitched it all
together like a vast white quilt and trees shaded it with
brocaded patterns. As I knelt and pried my secret door open, the
first tingles of the cold pricked my fingers. I made a quick
trip back to the hall closet to retrieve my leather, fur-lined
gloves. Turned inside out, they made perfect leopard paws.
Refitting the square of wood in place, I was out in an instant.