Running Free and Other Stories

Running Free and Other Stories

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Sometimes at night when the wind moves in the trees and the moon skips from cloud to cloud I get to thinking. Where now is Jennifer, or Eileen, or Christina? Why did I do that? Why didn't I do this instead? How could I have been so stupid? I remember faces, names, moods of moment. And maybe another story is born. Most of us remember defining moments in our own lives. That's what I tried to do in these ten stories. Go back. Examine. Wonder. There's regret here, and humor, ugliness, sex. There's the sheer joy of writing. I feel it. I want you to feel it too. "To write -- for me those two words justified everything," thinks 28-year old Larry wandering Europe in my story "A Friendly Game." This juggling of memories and present occurred also in my first volume of short stories, "Good Looking Bloke and Other Stories." But in this volume I think I cut closer to the bone. Hard things happen in "Heartless," "Teresa the Ennobler," and "The Broken Bow." Sex hovers, and plays its role. There's enthusiasm, the joy of adventure. In "So This Is New York," Dave Janssen, 24, on his first trip to Greenwich Village, walks into the San Remo bar on Bleecker Street after a long drive from Virginia. He sees a young man carrying three beers and a lemon. "Hey, you need all those beers?" somebody calls. "Don't speak to me," the young guy answers. "Speak to the lemon." Dave, rapt, feels he as ridden many miles and arrived at the right place. We visit Montana, Vermont, North Carolina, the beaches of the Hamptons. We wander Europe. I began "A Friendly Game" years ago in Paris. "So This Is New York" and "Mountain Music" graduate, with some changes, from my novel "Mountain Girl." I wrote the other seven stories between October, 2011 and August, 2012. Some gestated in memory or as "memos for future stories" for years. We'll see in these pages the Island of Ibiza, raw, before the jet airport and the crowds came. We'll visit the net-stockinged waitresses and coffee houses of Greenwich Village in the 1960s, play football in Montana, join a bridge gang on a railroad in Iowa. We'll walk tobacco fields with North Carolina tenant farmers and court a heartless young lady at Westhampton Beach. We'll hear a fundamentalist preacher troll for money and hike the Appalachian Trail. We'll meet, at a singles party, a young black woman with a cure for what ails a 31-year old divorced Midwesterner beginning a new career in New York. Life. Might we have lived it better? Or we might have done worse. Let's pull back the curtains and tussle with what we see. # # #
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About Ken Byerly

Born on a farm in Stokes County, North Carolina, Ken Byerly came of age in Wyoming and Montana. He attended the University of Montana on an athletic scholarship, played football and basketball and graduated in journalism. As editor of the Tidewater News in Franklin, Virginia, Ken won awards from the Virginia Press Association for editorial, news, feature and sports writing. He worked as a reporter for the Washington Post and at age 28 took ship for Europe with meager funds, where he traveled widely, and lived in Paris and on the Island of Ibiza. Ken specialized in politics and civil rights as a reporter and editor for Newsday in the New York City area. He helped author the sex spoof, Naked Came the Stranger, and wrote the original book for the musical Cowboy, based on the life of Western painter Charles M. Russell. Ken became a stockbroker in New York City, retired early and with his wife, Priscilla, returned for several years to Montana. He and Priscilla now live in Vermont. Ken completed, several years ago, a multi-year hike of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail.
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