Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Boys

THE BOYS, coauthored by brothers Ron Howard and Clint Howard, is a great coming-of-age memoir about growing up and trying to survive in the grueling world of show business. I’ve always enjoyed both brothers’ work, so picking up this book was a no-brainer for me. Overall, it was a heart-warming read that I would recommend to anyone.


Saturday, June 5, 2021

My Brother's Flag

This is an excerpt from the short story, "My Brother's Flag," which can be found in the collection "Where the Gravel Lane Ends."


A slight breeze pushed against the surface of the lake as JW sat in a chair along the bank with pole in hand. A walking stick lay on the ground beside him. He no longer needed the crutches. Reflecting the sun, the water rippled out from small coves like tiny rolling diamonds. The waves traveled across and interrupted the stillness of JW’s line and his red and white bobber. The day had been a pleasant one for JW. Forty-five minutes had passed and he hadn’t had a single bite, but he still enjoyed the weather and the company of a cardinal cheeping over in a pine tree. He was thankful to be right where he was.

Across the yard, up toward the house, Jake was shooting baskets in the driveway. He rebounded a shot, dribbled out, squared-up, and released. The ball came down and sank the bottom of the net. JW watched him take a few more shots. He missed one then made two in a row. He had nice form, he thought. If he stayed with it, he’d be a decent player by the time he entered high school.

JW turned his attention back to fishing. The water had stopped rippling and the bobber remained undisturbed as ever. He no longer heard the cardinal and as he thought of looking over to the pine tree his bobber bounced twice then dropped out of sight. He yanked the pole and set the hook. He held on tight and cranked the reel. The pole bent double as the fish on the other end dived toward the bottom of the lake.

From where he stood, Jake watched the action unfold. He saw JW crank the reel a few more times. The pole flexed in and out. The fish was giving a good fight. Without thinking, he dropped the ball on the grass and headed toward the lake. By the time he got down there JW was reeling the fish out of the water.

“That’s a good looking fish,” said Jake.

“Thanks” said JW. He wrenched the hook from its mouth. By the bottom lip, he held the fish up to the sunlight. Gills opened and closed. “What do you think? Four pounds? Maybe five?”

Jake studied the fish. “I’d say closer to three.”

JW nodded and grinned. “You want to toss it back?”

“Nah, go ahead.”

JW shrugged then tossed the bass back into the water. The fish splashed and swam away. From an old peanut can, JW plucked another worm and rebaited his hook. With a sidearm swoop, he cast the line back out into the water. “You should grab a rod and reel from the barn and join me. It’s a nice day.”

Jake turned away, looked to his ball lying in the grass, and then turned back. “I’ll probably go shoot some more ball.”

“Don’t you like to fish?”

“I don’t come down here much anymore.”

“I see.” JW thought on the matter. He didn’t want to be pushy, but he wasn’t giving up either. “You don’t have to fish, but you’re still welcome to join me.”

As always, the water gave Jake a bad feeling, but with reluctance, he sat beside his grandfather. Together, they stared across the water. Neither one was saying anything at all. A cloud came over and blocked the sunshine. More silent moments passed and JW finally said, “I know how you feel, Jake.”

The words shook Jake from his foggy thoughts. “What do you mean?”

“You may not know this, but I once had an older sister.”

“You did? What happened to her?”

“When she was about your age she was riding her bike to the grocery store. It was a beautiful day, just like today, when a man driving a car dropped his cigarette in the floorboard. He went to reaching for it and when he popped back up, the car had drifted onto the sidewalk and struck my sister Joanne. She died later that afternoon in the hospital. I miss her still to this day.”

Jake imagined the incident. He knew that grief. The never-ending heartache that the loss of a brother or sister creates. It wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair. His family had always been good people. So why did this have to happen? Why did Frankie have to die?

“I don’t understand any of it,” said Jake.

JW knew his grandson’s meaning. “I’m not sure there’s an answer, son. But even though we can’t see them anymore, they’re still with us. I still feel my sister with me every day. I keep her right here.” JW tapped two fingers on his heart. “We’ll never forget them, Jake.”

“I know I could never forget Frankie.”

The cardinal tweeted in the pine tree. They both turned to watch.

“He’ll always be with you,” said JW. “Where ever you go, he’ll be there. Never forget that.”

Friday, May 8, 2020

Forsaken Land is Live

Forsaken Land: Selected Stories is now live. 
So why release this book? 
There was a lot of crossover in the two previous books--characters, setting--so I wanted to bring those stories together. I chose seven stories - which I feel are the best - from Hard Luck and seven from Chicken Liver Blues, and one new story, Beach Life, which was originally published in Cowboy Jamboree Magazine. Fifteen in all. The best of two books rolled into one, in my opinion.
So, if you're new to my work, or you didn't read the two previous collections, then may I suggest picking up a copy of Forsaken Land

From the back cover:
FORSAKEN LAND brings in fifteen selected stories by Jeremy Perry from his books Hard Luck, Chicken Liver Blues, and other online publications. In this collection, you’ll dive headfirst into the underbelly of a fringe society in rural America that often forces many to live by their own rules. These are people who live in an environment saturated with drugs, crime, and other evils that destroy lives every day. This culture believes you need to get what you can, while you can, before the forsaken land comes calling. These are stories of crime, rural noir, and hillbilly gothic. 

Selected stories:
King of the County
The Way of the Culture
The Fight
Looking for Action
Your Bird My Cat
Blaze of Glory
Chicken Liver Blues
Twenty Dollars
Jubal Grimes
Beach Life
Forsaken Land
The Monsters
One Step Closer to Heaven

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Wishing Lantern Finds a Home

Recently, my story “The Wishing Lantern” found a home at Hello America, a literary magazine that publishes work by rural and small-town authors.
The story itself originated from a writing prompt from another online magazine a few years back. I preened and edited the story and performed some small re-writes off and on over the last couple of years. After receiving a dozen or so rejections, it finally landed in the virtual pages of Hello America, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
If you’re a rural or small-town author, send your work to Adam Gnade, who runs Hello America, and who’s always ready to hear new voices from the rural writing community.
If you’d like, you can read my story here.
Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Kindle Unlimited and Short Stories

For independent writers and publishers of short stories, I believe Kindle Unlimited is a feasible platform on which to release your work. And let me immediately say I'm talking about single short stories.
For those who don't know, Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon program which monthly subscribers can read as much as they want as long as the stories and books are in the program.
It's no secret that short story singles are a hard sell when full-length works are in and around the same price. However, with KU, the playing field seems evened up a bit. Readers may feel less threatened, monetarily, when they've already paid their monthly KU subscription and come across a short story that sounds inviting.
And from a writing and publishing standpoint, an entertaining short story is a great way to spread the word about a writer's storytelling ability and maybe influence readers to seek out the writer's other works.
If you're writing short stories, make sure they are the best stories you can write, get them proofread by someone in the writing and publishing business, and try publishing on Kindle Unlimited. It's worth a shot.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Fight

The crowd was enormous and everyone who was anyone knew that it would be. This was what everyone was talking about, this fight. The magnitude of methheads, potheads, general dopers, rednecks, conjoining, so to speak, in this small, etched away piece of backwoods used to wreck faces and ribs and to party down, was unlike any assembly I’d ever seen before, including prison.
I didn’t personally know either fighter, but I felt a deep connection within me, a tie that only a person who had been mauled, bitten, chewed, swallowed, digested, and expelled by the graciousness of life could understand. I wasn’t of this place anymore, this small southern Indiana town, but I knew its people, these younger folks that piled in, gathering for what was sure to be a good fight, or at least they had hoped it would be. We all did.
I’d heard about the fight through an old buddy of mine the other night at the tavern. We discussed the old days when we were growing up trying to make a name for ourselves by talking tough and seeking out and challenging the craziest motherfucker that we could find. And he’d said, “They’re still doin’ it.”
“What?” I said. And he continued on by telling me about the bare-knuckle underground fighting circuit and the two crazy sons-of-bitches that were fighting today.
This backwoods venue, I was told, was called The Pigpen. The brawl was to begin at six o’clock. We rumbled in on our bikes around five and there was a blonde in cut-off jeans and a tight black tank top collecting a five dollar admission charge at the start of a long, dirt road that led back to the where the fight was taking place. She possessed a hard, eye-pleasing figure, but her face was lined, worn, and toothless.
“Hey, darling,” I said to her as Jerry and I paid our money.
“Hi,” she said and gave us a wide, toothless smile.
We rode on and eventually parked. It wasn’t long and Jerry and I settled in among the downtrodden and damned. My arthritic hands strained to unscrew the cap off an unopen bottle of Evan Williams. Another twist and the cap came free and I turned the bottle up and let two swallows roll down. Hard time and hard labor had taken its toll on me after twenty years. I extended the bottle to Jerry, but he declined.
The party was well underway before the fight had begun. Someone had said that people had started arriving before noon and others had been here all night, never sleeping and probably not thinking about sleep. A young couple sat on a tailgate passing a joint. In fact, many were smoking weed. It was all around us, in the air. Another couple in plain sight fucked next to a tree. People cheered, played music, snorted unknown substances and did just about whatever they wanted to.
The fight wasn’t to start for another half-hour and I wanted to check this place out. I told Jerry to come on and we set out through the crowd. I drank from my bottle, offered Jerry a drink, and again he declined. We broke through the people and in a grassy field came to a scattering of tents where in the middle a large grill smoked slabs of meat. A topless group of women sat in lawn chairs drinking beer. The Evan Williams was kicking in, so I told Jerry we should go over and introduce ourselves, and admire some of the lovely ladies.
“Sounds good to me,” he said.
We walked over and they all looked at us and then went back to talking and drinking. There were others gathered around. A woman next to us chopped a line of something across a mirror. These people were free as they could be, or fucking stupid. They had no guard up to anyone. She offered her drugs and I shook my head and pulled Evan from my vest pocket.
“No thanks,” I said.
Jerry shrugged. “Fuck it,” he said, and stepped up and snorted a bump. While Jerry became acquainted with the woman, I sipped my whiskey and looked again to the naked women. If I were in charge, one or two of them would be granted the right to go topless. For the others, they wouldn’t be allowed to go outside with or without clothes—ugly bitches.
I looked around and realized this place hadn’t changed that much over the years I’d been away. It was the same fucked up people in the same fucked up town. It started to depress me.
Jerry and I walked back to where we’d originally come in and finally the fighters began entering the makeshift ring. The energy of the crowd lifted ten notches. They tightened in, encaging them, like two Roman gladiators that were forced to fight and quit only when one had killed the other. I retrieved my bottle and my arthritic hands strained again. Another twist and I got it. A large balding dude with gut hanging over his belt announced the fighters. One was named Jesco Morgan and the other was Johnny-Boy Clark. I didn’t know who they were at first, but then Jerry told me that I did. After he explained who they were, who their daddies were, I sensed an even deeper connection to these two. I had been away for so many unraveling years and forgotten so many that their names had slipped away, as unused memories often do.
“How they doin?” I asked of the boys’ daddies.
“Dead,” said Jerry. “Both of ‘em. Bill Morgan died of lung cancer. Not sure what got Browning. Even Jesco’s momma, Louise, just died. Overdose is what everyone’s saying.”
“Damn,” I said. “Addiction never was prejudiced to age.”
Then, after a moment he added, “Pass the bottle, Leon.” I handed it over and someone struck a cowbell. I glanced around to see no one milling on the outskirts of the crowd. The young couple that was fucking by the tree was gone. The tailgaters had disappeared. All eyes were on the fighters.
The young men were of equal size and build. Their hard, lean, and shirtless torsos squared up in the center of the ring. Their personal history with each other I did not know. Sometimes a personal vendetta helped materialize an event such as this one. And other times, as I mentioned before, it was to see who was the toughest in all the land. That was in the old days. Now it was about money, about trying to survive in this God-forsaken shit-hole town, and that was okay. One had to change with the times.
A jab to the jaw of Jesco got the action underway, and he countered with a booming uppercut to exposed ribs. As I understood them, the rules were the use of fists only. No biting, gouging, kicking, head butting or grappling. A straight up bare-knuckle match, just like the old days. All skill, stamina, and physical and mental toughness.
The two men retreated a step or two after gaining a better understanding of the other’s punching power. With fists raised, chins tucked, and intense focus, they stepped in unison, mirroring each other. These determined men, with grit in their eyes and fire in their souls, got me to thinking about the time I was up against not one crazy drunken maniac, but two that wanted to slice me open at the navel, and let my innards fall to the gravel parking lot, outside the bar where we’d spent all day drinking and snorting cocaine in the bathroom.
One of the hombres had been trying all evening to dance with my old lady. Every time I had gone to piss or gone to the bar for another round of beers, the stupid, yet determined asshole ventured over to our table. After the third or fourth time, I’d had enough of his shit. While he sat at his table laughing, telling jokes from his rotten, toothless face, at my expense I’m sure, I walked up behind and grabbed him by the back of his greasy hair and bounced his head off the table in front of him. Immediately, I headed toward the door, which was a few steps away and waited in the parking lot.
There was daylight left in the sky when he came out flashing the blade he’d pulled from somewhere. I thought he was scared or just fucking crazy. Maybe both.
“I’m gonna make you bleed, you fuckin bitch!” he said and came at me. One of his pals followed him out the door, he too brandishing a blade.
Now, the bar my old lady and I drank at that day wasn’t our usual hangout. This shithole was on the opposite end of town from our normal bar, so the people that fled out to watch didn’t know me well enough to jump in and even the odds. Sizing up my dilemma, I increased my chances of winning by pulling from my waistband, my tucked away .38 Snub nose.
The first bruiser with a knife saw my intentions and ducked behind a pick-up truck. Smart man. The second one pulled a gun of his own. I wasted no time. I fired. He fired. He missed. I did not. I received forty years for killing that man. I did twenty. A rush of adrenaline in a survival situation can make a man do things he never thought he was capable of doing. And I knew these two facing off in these backwoods were undoubtedly fueled by that same human instinct to survive that I had all those years ago.
The crowd of townies and backwoods misfits cheered as the two traded strikes and blows. Johnny-Boy had a bleeding gash under his left eye, and Jesco’s nose leaked red down and over his lips and off his chin. On light feet, Jesco pivoted, reared, and struck, all in the blur of single motion. The blow was heard throughout the crowd. Connecting with the side of his head, Johnny-Boy fell under jellied legs. He gave no indication that he could go on. He lay lifeless. The fight was over.
I’d been in many fights, as a prisoner and a free man, and I knew what both men were feeling at that moment, as the victor and the defeated. Many years passed me by before I realized that life would be a series of wins and defeats. I’d come to understand this reality in prison when the quiet, lonely nights consumed my being. And they may not understand it now, the two younger men who had just gone head to head trying to prove who was the tougher of the two, trying to collect a sizable payday, trying to survive, but they would understand that life would become better, if not in a financial capacity, at least in a mental one if they allowed it, if they opened their minds to it.
Some of the crowd yelled its pleasure for the fight’s winner while others jeered the outcome. I had no financial stake. I saw Jerry collect his winnings from a disgruntled young man standing next to him.
“Maybe next time, old man,” said the boy.
“Come again,” said Jerry, tucking the bills away in his pocket.
After some time, Johnny-Boy collected himself and the two in the ring cleared out and people went back to partying and raising hell and never giving a second thought to the young men who’d just sacrificed a little of themselves. The crowd saw the fight as being no more than part of the entertainment.

I’d seen enough. Jerry and I settled on our bikes with our buzzed minds. We hit the dirt road and eventually the highway, riding away from the booze, the drugs, and the town I’d left twenty years before, the town that I now rode away from, forever.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this story, please consider heading over to the Tip Jar and tossing in a few coins. It would be much appreciated. Thanks again.

This story is included in the book HARD LUCK.

Sunday, February 3, 2019


We saw the old man standing on his front porch. From a bag he dumped cat food into a dish. We called him Horseshit. Kevin, a neighborhood kid, had given him the name and it had stuck. I had never called the old man Horseshit to his face. I said it only in private and mainly around Kevin. I didn’t know the old man’s real name.
We zoomed past his house on our bikes and Kevin yelled out, “Hey, Horseshit!”
Horseshit bent to pet the cat that ate out of the dish. He looked up and said, “Go on. Get out of here, you little assholes! I’ll get you one of these days!” He shook his fist in the air, in our direction. “You little assholes!”
“You’ll have to catch us first,” Kevin responded. And we peddled on down the road.
We jetted around the corner and eventually into my front yard where our back tires skidded sideways, tearing through grass and mud.
I jumped off my BMX. “You think he’ll ever get us?” I asked, a little winded.
“He’s too old and slow. He’ll never catch us,” said Kevin.
“Yeah, you’re right. Let’s go play Nintendo.”
An hour later, after we’d had our fill of video games, we set out on our bikes again. Dusk was nearing and I had to be back in my yard before the street light came on. A bike ride around the neighborhood was common; no direction, no common goal, only cruising to see what we could get into. We turned the corner heading down Horseshit’s street when a bad feeling struck me. “You think this is a good idea?”
“What?” said Kevin.
“Riding past his house.”
“Don’t be such a pussy. He’ll never catch us. He’s too old and slow.”
“I’m not a pussy,” I said, and kept peddling.
We approached his house and I prayed that he was inside. If Kevin saw him, I knew what would happen, the same thing that had always happened. Kevin would yell out “Hey, Horseshit!” and the old man would throw back some threats and curses and we’d ride on like always. I had never yelled anything to the old man and I’d always hoped that he took note, but being that I rode with Kevin, he probably associated me with being the kind of asshole Kevin was. But I wasn’t anything like Kevin.
We came up to his house and Horseshit was nowhere in sight. What a relief. I saw Kevin eyeing the front porch, hoping to catch another glimpse of the old man and I kept silently praying that he was inside his house. When we finally rode past, the old man was nowhere around. But still, that didn’t stop Kevin from yelling out, “Hey, Horseshit! What are you doing in there? Jacking off? Thinking about little boys?”
Even though I didn’t see Horseshit I peddled faster. This was too much. I was embarrassed. “Shit, Kevin,” I said. “Take it easy.”
“Don’t be such a pussy,” he said to me again.
“I’m not a pussy!” I called out, and about that time Kevin screamed out in pain, grabbing his leg, nearly wrecking his bike.
“Jesus fuck!” he said.
At first, I didn’t know what happened to Kevin, but then I heard Horseshit yell out from his upstairs window. “I got you! I got you! You little asshole!” He was shouldering a gun. Later I found out it was a BB gun when Kevin’s dad had to dig the pellet from his leg. “You little assholes. That’ll teach you!”
I started peddling faster than I’d ever peddled before. I didn’t look back. Racing home, I skidded my back tire into the yard. By the time I jumped off and made it to the front porch, the street light flashed on. I saw Kevin limp off his bike and up to his front door. That night, I hardly slept a wink.
The next morning was Saturday so I hopped on my bike and hit the streets. I didn’t wait for Kevin. I thought it safer to cruise alone. As always, my curiosity consumed me and I rode toward Horseshit’s street. In the night, I had imagined Kevin’s folks calling the police. I’d ride by in the morning and there Horseshit would be, being stuffed into the back of a cop car. I had to see what was going on.
I turned the corner on Horseshit’s street and heard the sound of a lawnmower. Nothing unusual about that except when I neared I saw Kevin push mowing the old man’s lawn. The old man sat on his front porch. He petted the cat in his lap, looking on with pure delight.
I rode up and Kevin cut the mower’s engine.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I told my dad what happened last night and he went to have a talk with Ernest.”
“Ernest,” said Kevin and motioned with a head nod in the direction of the old man. “I thought my dad was gonna come down here and really give him a good what for…you know…since he shot me with a BB gun.” He looked to the ground, seeming embarrassed. “But it sort of backfired.”
I shook my head, appearing to show a little empathy, but what I was really feeling was a sense of justice for the old man, for Ernest.
“Tough break,” was all I said, and peddled away.
I heard Kevin yell, “Hey, you want to help me? This high grass sucks to mow, especially with a bad leg!”
I looked back over my shoulder and yelled out the only words I could think of.
“Don’t be such a pussy!” And I went home to play Nintendo.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this story, please consider heading over to the Tip Jar and tossing in a few coins. It would be much appreciated. Thanks again.

This story is also included in the book HARD LUCK: STORIES.