The Hooverman

A Memoir Short
The Hooverman, A Short Fry

The crisp clean scent of creosote was drifting through the open picture windows of my bedroom. It always reminded me of the smell of rain in the dessert. Which is an odd sort of thought, since it just didn’t rain in that particular dessert very often. El Paso was a dessert city. It butted up against the very end of the Rocky Mountains and stretched out wide, rather than reaching higher into the open sky with skyscrapers. Everything was the color of old terracotta and I constantly had grit in my teeth from the wind blowing around the sand. But it was home and I was happy. 

I had been put to bed ages ago, but the neighbor was having a party and my curious eight-year-old brain found it impossible to tune out the mix of mariachi and laughter. Nearly forty years later I can close my eyes and comfortably navigate the familiar shadows of my childhood bedroom. Memories are peculiar things, full of vibrant recollection, yet still seen through a distorted lens, much like an influencer with a favorite filter. One thing was certain though. In all this time since, even with the demons of alcoholism lurking behind every recollection and grief that can still bring me to my knees at the loss of my father, that house on McKinley Avenue was the last place I remember being comfortable in my own skin, something I’ve been working hard to remedy.

Memories are peculiar things, full of vibrant recollection, yet still seen through a distorted lens, much like an influencer with a favorite filter.

G. H. Fryer – The Hooverman

My dad was the sweetest disaster. I wish you could’ve met him. He was tall and handsome, with broad shoulders, and a ruddy complexion from a lifetime spent working in the sun. His brilliant blue eyes actually sparkled when he smiled. He cared about everything, too much. He cared about what his greedy family thought of him, always conspiring to declare which of them was the most influential. None of them were. He cared about the leeches he called friends, all of whom were also alcoholics. I often wonder if any of them are still alive. 

Throughout his short life, the two relationships he struggled with most were with his own father and God. My relationship with God is complicated and messy. My daddy issues are rooted in my childhood memories of my dad. The night of that party stands out among them. I always look back at my dad’s insanity on full display and felt the familiar warmth of happiness. There is a kind of fondness in my memory for those moments when our family dysfunction was out for everyone to see, that is until I became a parent. I would be horrified if one of my daughter’s favorite memories of me was of me in an out-of-control drunk tirade at a gathering of my neighbors.

The cool hardwood floors greeted my toes when I crawled out of bed to investigate the commotion outside. Down the short hallway and the phone tucked into its little cubby with the fifty-foot cord. Cordless phones were only a luxury for the wealthy and we most certainly weren’t wealthy. Peering around the corner, I saw my mom standing at the front door. The heavy wood door was open and the rod iron screen door was the only thing between her and the night outside.

My dad was the sweetest disaster. He cared about everything, too much. He cared about what his greedy family thought of him, always conspiring to declare which of them was the most influential. None of them were.

G. H. Fryer – The Hooverman

Her back was to me, but I could feel the tension in her posture. Whatever she was watching wasn’t making her happy. There was a difference between the way my parents got angry. When my mom was angry, she was likely to drop the occasional PG-rated profanity, stomp her feet, and sigh. Daddy was different. His anger manifested differently depending on if he was sober or not. My mom’s spine was stiff, but I could feel the sigh from across the room.

“Bartlett,” she scolded, “you get inside this house right this second,” it was strange to hear her mom chastise daddy like he was just a kid, but in hindsight, it made sense. I approached her silently and stood there, staring outside into the night. I couldn’t see much, but some headlights approaching cast daddy in a peculiar silhouette. He looked strange, I remember that.

“Have it your way!” Daddy bellowed. He stomped up the sidewalk. His head hung lower than usual, almost as though the weight of his rage was pulling him down. Daddy approached the door and mom just pushed me back out of the way. She was very protective of me, always trying to shield me from the worst of his temper. She didn’t open the door for him, which was telling at just how mad she was. 

I wasn’t quite sure what to worry about first; the fact that my parents were having another fight, or that my dad had just from outside and was only wearing underwear. It was the mid-eighties, so whitey tidies were the norm.

“Assholes are gonna pay for what they’ve done!” He grumbled as he walked past.

“Don’t do anything stupid, for heaven’s sake,” mom yelled back at him. How much more stupid could you get after walking around in nothing but your underwear for everyone to see? I wasn’t usually embarrassed by daddy. I’d grown up only knowing the alcoholic, so everything horrific was simply normal, but even I was embarrassed by him in his underwear. The only problem was that it got worse from there.

BANG! SLAM! The sounds of daddy throwing heavy objects around made me jump. I looked up at my mom’s face hoping to find reassurance that everything was alright, but those moments, in a household with an alcoholic and a chronic conflict avoided, were rare. Daddy burst out of the hallway carrying our enormous olive green Hoover vacuum cleaner as if it were weightless, tucked under his arm like a football.

“Don’t you dare!” Mom said, to herself mostly. She pinched the bridge of her nose and shook her head. I was fascinated. What could he have been planning to do? My young brain just couldn’t put the pieces together and there was no way to stop the inevitable social train wreck. Out the front and across the patchy lawn he went, carrying the vacuum under his arm. Mom and I followed him out.

The party next door was spilling out the front door of the neighbor’s house. There weren’t a lot of lights along our street and I can’t recall if there was a moon shining down on us that night, but the faces were familiar. The branching family and friends of our Hispanic neighbor were always around. They were like another set of parents to me. It was hard to misbehave when so many people kept watch over you. There were a few startled faces, but they seemed more amused than anything.

The amusement didn’t last long. Apparently, someone from the party had thrown a rock and it had landed directly through the windshield of daddy’s truck windshield. This wasn’t going to end well. There was nothing else to do but watch the show unfold. Daddy, still only in his bright white briefs, stomped out across the lawn, raised the vacuum up, and began the most outrageous display of unbridled rage I had seen in my young life. He braced his feet wide and swung the vacuum up, and then began barking out machine gun sounds. GA-KA-KA-KA-KA! The vacuum lurched in his arms like recoil as he aimed invisible bullets at the party goers spread out on the neighbor’s front lawn.

The music stopped. Mouths fell open. And my mom buried her face in her hands in absolute embarrassment. Everything played out in slow motion like an action scene from a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Daddy’s body shook with every pretend round escaping his makeshift fully automatic assault vacuum. I can still remember my confusion and amusement. I wanted to jump up and down with joy. I wanted to laugh. Instead, I just stood rooted to my mother’s side. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew it wasn’t right. Our neighbor, Mario, stood in the middle of his front lawn, his expression drawn and angry. His friends and family spread out behind him, prepared to do whatever was necessary to get the crazed madman away from him.

The strangest part was that the incident resolved itself as quickly as it had bubbled up. Daddy dropped the business end of the vacuum to the ground. A small cloud of dust rose up around it reminiscent of the smoke curling out of the barrel of a gun. He turned around and dragged the vacuum behind him, slouched back into the house. Everyone else was left standing there dumbly, wondering what we had all just witnessed. 

It’s such a strange notion that some memories can fade with time, while others are vibrant as the moment they happened. The memory of my first kiss has faded. It was unremarkable anyway. But my body melts into the full sensory immersion of this bizarre moment from my childhood, full of the fresh scent of creosote in the dessert and mariachi in my ears.

The End

Edits, Edits, and More Edits!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve popped in here, but I’ve been doing what writers do…editing. That’s the thing about writing. getting the story out of your head and down on paper is the easy part of the job. The real grit comes when a writer has to edit. This process can make even the most ardent creatives run away in madness. I have done three major rewrites, several smaller rounds of rewriting, and more micro edits than I can remember. Editing can often be the most important part of writing a book. This version of, The Arsenic Box, is a completely different story than the one I initially set down on paper, but I’m so much more excited about it. It’s enticing, engaging, mysterious, and at times, dangerous (depending on which character you are). I can’t wait to bring this story to you. I can’t wait for you to sink your teeth into the tale I’ve woven just for you. There’s still plenty of work to do, but for now, I get to wait for my beta-readers to give me some feedback. What will I do while I wait? That’s an easy decision. I’ll start working on the next delicious tale, a young adult Gothic horror. Don’t worry, mystery lovers, there will be more deadly adventures for you too.

Short Fries

Today’s the day! I promised you all quite a while ago that I’d start regularly sharing some short stories, and here we finally are. While I plug away at the long (and completely worth it) journey to becoming a successful author, I’ll be giving you lovelies a collection of tales as eclectic as I am. Some will give you a taste of my own personal writing style, some will introduce you to the characters in my larger projects, and some are just for fun. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading them as much as enjoy writing them. Cheers!

Image Credit: G. H. Fryer | Bad Intentions: A Short Story by G. H. Fryer

Bad Intentions: A Short Story

Nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is the quaint town of Perish, Colorado. Surrounded by large cities, Perish was a perfect example of how a few exceedingly wealthy people can sustain a collection of picturesque clichés through their sheer stubborn refusal to move along with the times. The streets were lined with oaks whose full branches formed a canopy of shade during the hot summers and an articulated filigree lattice through the bitter winter. The manicured lawns, freshly painted picket fences, and smiling faces perpetuated the vintage atmosphere. Perish was sustained by the wealth and magnetism of its local celebrities. Sunny, Sarah, Samantha, and Taylor were all well-established and successful authors. They each held the captivation of their own groups of fans, many of who pursue unhealthy devotion to the writers. Every Sunday the four women gathered together for a circle round of sorts. It was a chance to critique each other’s work, commiserate with comrades in arms, and work on a story they’ve been writing together. The blending of four distinct voices was not an easy task, but they relished the challenge.

The late spring sunlight cast dappled shadows through the windows of Sarah’s cottage. The shadows wavered gently across the round table in the open dining room. Sarah’s painted fingernails clicked away on the keys of her laptop as Sunny and Samantha dictated the story aloud.

“The empty chair at the table was a stark reminder that someone was missing from their usual quartet.” Sunny said in a dreamy voice full of honey as she leaned back in her chair. She let the story they crafted form in her mind.

“Ooh, I like that, Sunny.” Samantha cooed.

“Rebecca cut the foil on a new bottle of wine and worked the corkscrew until the cork relinquished the bottle of fortitude.” Sarah said as she typed.

“Speaking of fortitude,” Sunny said, “this bottle is empty.” She sprang up and sauntered over to the nearby wine rack and squatted down to read the labels. She hummed a sassy ballad as she pondered which bottle to open next. Sarah was fairly sure it was the latest Sia hit, but she wasn’t certain. Sarah’s own taste in music ran more vintage, and she usually spent her private writing time listening to Judy London or Ella Fitzgerald. Sunny was a romance writer. She was round and bouncy, and full of mischief. Sarah was jealous of her full lips and golden hair always coiffed in the perfect blowout. The woman might not have the same figure as the fashionable skeletons of Hollywood, but Sarah couldn’t deny the sex appeal that radiated from Sunny.

Sarah wasn’t what you’d call a beautiful woman. Her shoulders were too broad, her jawline too pronounced, but while Sarah couldn’t find beauty in her own reflection, those people whom she interacted with were pulled into her gravity well by her inquisitive mossy green eyes and a smile that hinted of repressed sexuality. Sarah wore her dark brown hair pulled cleanly back into a bun at the base of her neck. Her fair skin and dark hair were offset by the bright red lipstick she wore. She didn’t put much effort into her makeup, but she had learned a long time ago that, although she didn’t have particularly full lips, her mischievous mouth was an asset that shouldn’t be wasted.

“I’m parched, Sunny.” Samantha called out. “Hurry up and pick a wine already.” Sarah smiled. Samantha was always parched, but Sarah thought that if she’d burned through as many husbands Samantha had, she would probably need an intravenous supply of alcohol to sustain herself too. Sunny slid a bottle from the rack of wine and brought it to Sarah to open. Sarah pushed the laptop across the table to Samantha and proceeded to open the next bottle of wine. The three women were silent as she filled each of their glasses. The only sounds in the room were the clicking of keys on the laptop as Samantha began typing, Sunny’s fingernails tapping impatiently on the table, and the soft comforting sound of Sarah pouring wine. She could almost imagine a babbling brook cutting through a forest glade if it weren’t for the suburban amenities all around her. The rich ruby liquid caught the light like the stained glass windows of a cathedral. The center of the table was a collection of spent wine corks, a half-empty plate of charcuterie, a collection of pens and highlighters, and a single untouched wine glass. Mirroring the recent addition to their story was an empty seat at the table. Taylor had not shown up for today’s writing group. 

I’m parched, Sunny.” Samantha called out. “Hurry up and pick a wine already.” Sarah smiled. Samantha was always parched, but Sarah thought that if she’d burned through as many husbands Samantha had, she would probably need an intravenous supply of alcohol to sustain herself too.

“It’s too quiet with her gone.” Sarah said eventually. The other two women glanced at the vacant seat at the table. Sunny’s brows pinched slightly as she tried to avoid looking.

“We could always add a few lines into the story for her,” Samantha said, “you know, something like…”, her voice trailing off in thought.

“The cowboy straightened his hat as he casually marched down Main street.” Sunny said in an overly deep and dramatic voice. The corners of Sarah’s mouth twitched and her eyes flashed mischievously.

“His stormy eyes seeing only the revenge he yearned for.” Sarah added breathily.

“His fallen love, her life cut short by the insatiable lust of the local magistrate.” Samantha added, clutching at her own heart dramatically. The three women dissolved into a fit of laughter that lasted far longer than it should have. Anxiety could do that to even the most stoic of women. The small cottage seemed to brighten as the women released the tension that had been building for weeks.

“What utter nonsense.” Sunny said between fits.

“It’s going to take us weeks to clean up this manuscript.” Samantha added breathlessly.

“Patience is a virtue, ladies.” Sarah reminded them between breathless bouts of laughter, clutching at the sharp pain in her side as she tried to get herself back under control.

“I’m not a virtuous woman, Sarah.” Samantha chimed. Their laughter renewed at this gaff. None of them were virtuous women. They had only recently discovered how dangerous they could be when left to their own deviant tendencies. Their laughter filled the small but luxurious cottage. In this safe space, the three women cast off the ideals of the outside world and embraced who they truly were, dangerous women. Sarah tried to regain some semblance of control.

“We should probably get back to work.”

“Where did we leave off?” Sunny asked.

“I was just thinking,” Samantha started, “what if we took turns going through the story and Taylor’s contributions.” She tapped a fingernail of the keypad thoughtfully. “At least that way we could break it up a little.”

“I’d be alright with that.” Sunny said.

“Sounds great. I’ll take the first few chapters.” Sarah said. “When I’m done I’ll forward it on to you, Sunny, if that’s alright?”

“Yup, sounds perfect.” Sunny said, reaching out her manicured hand for her glass just as the doorbell rang, startling all three women into silence. Sunny lurched and swore as wine sloshed out of her glass and onto the paper draft of the latest chapter. Samantha froze, suddenly frightened by the unknown. Sarah watched as the red wine spread across the table. She thought briefly of how much it looked like blood. Her thoughts drifted to the macabre scene they had crafted together at the posh little apartment at the other end of town. She wondered if it would all go according to plan or if she would have to think on her feet. Her own blood hummed with excitement. The very real danger of being caught was exhilarating. There would be time to relish all of this later. For now, she was the anchor for the little group of writers and she had a job to do. She pulled her shoulders back, took one slow deep breath, and rose from her place at the table to go answer the door. She opened the door and found herself staring into the youthful face of a local police officer, one whom she knew personally. He was nearly half her age, exceptionally fit, and wearing a rather apologetic expression on his face.

The very real danger of being caught was exhilarating.

“I can always spare you some time, Andy.” She said. Was he blushing? “Please, come in. You’ll have to pardon the mess. We’re in the middle of working and it can get a little naughty.” Oh, he definitely blushed. Good, Sarah thought. She could work with this. The two of them stood in the little foyer of Sarah’s cottage. A small invisible current charging between them. “What’s going on?”

“Well, we’ve had a missing person report filed.”


“I know, pretty strange, but we’re following up on it.”

“Absolutely. How can I help?”

“Um, well,” he hesitated, “you’re actually a known associate.”

“Oh. I see.” She said, letting a blend of curiosity and worry play across her face. “Can I ask who’s…” She started to ask who it was that was missing, but she turned towards where the other ladies were sitting at her dining room table and the realization of that complete thought struck her. “Taylor.” She whispered more to herself than to the young officer standing before her.

“How did you know?” 

“Taylor?” Sarah asked, her hand reaching to cover her mouth in an unconscious feminine expression of shock. “Has something happened to Taylor?” The young officer stared at her red lips for a moment before meeting her worried gaze.

“Sarah, she didn’t come home last night and her husband filed a missing person report.”

“Oh no!”

“I was wondering if I could take some of your time and ask a few questions?”

“Oh yes, absolutely.” Sara said. She stepped aside and let the officer into her home. “She’s supposed to be here now and we’ve been so worried about her.”

“I’ll do everything I can to find her.”

“I know you will. It’s just that it’s hard to imagine this stuff happening in real life.” Sarah guided him to the dining room where the others were waiting.

“Ladies, something has happened to Taylor.” Sunny and Samantha were just as shocked and welcomed the officer to join them at the table. They cooed exclamations of worry and concern. Sarah stood just behind the young officer watching as her friends put on the show of their lives, their murmurs of desire to help in any way possible reminding her of the choreographed murder they conspired to perpetrate in order to spare the literary world of some epically horrible writing. Her lips curled up slightly at the corner as an expression of something akin to pride took root. She was definitely not a virtuous woman.

The End

Banishment Besties

Hello my lovelies! I hope you are all safe and content. I know there are plenty of literal and figurative evidence that our modern world is on fire, but I hope each and every one of you has the chance for even a little time and peace to read something that moves you, entertains you, or challenges you. As for me, I’ll be spending some time this week reminding myself that censorship in literature is still something that concerns us all and that just because we don’t like the message a book may be trying to say, we shouldn’t stifle a voice because we don’t appreciate the message. Today more than ever I have to remind myself that to keep in an open mind and take the time to listen to others, especially if I don’t necessarily agree with their point of view. So how do we celebrate the fight against censorship you say? Well we celebrate Banned Books Week, of course.

Photo Credit:

If you head over to then make sure you take the time to read about the American Library Association’s list of the top banned and challenged books of the last ten years. I’ll be getting reacquainted with my copy of, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. What are you going to be reading this week?

Sharpies and Sticky Notes

After a frazzled, frenzied week, a sweet bouquet of flowers is a treat.

Hello again, my lovelies. I hope you are all well and safe. Another week has passed and although it was a bit emotionally taxing, I was rewarded with a sweet quiet of flowers from my daughter. I’ve decided that even the most terrible book deserves some credit for the grueling task of managing a re-write. Working on a rough draft is a passionate endeavor. It’s full of big ideas and scene writing marathons. A re-write, on the other hand, is tedious and full of big deletions and micro-edits. Although I’ve only made it through five chapters so far (twenty-two more to go), I still feel a sense of accomplishment. My editing process is full of Sharpies and Sticky Notes and dog eared pages. I made a second outline, so my edits would stick to the trail of thoughts I created after reading my rough draft. Here I gladly work one chapter at a time to hopefully bring you a story you’ll love, because ultimately writing is not only for me, but for you. So, while I continuing to spend my days being my best self at my day job, enjoying my family, and plugging away at my writing career, I wish you all an amazing week.

Hello there, lovelies

Good morning. I hope your Sunday morning is much like my own. Sundays are my “me” days. With the exception of a few domestic duties (laundry, pick up groceries, etc.) Sundays are my day to treat myself to the tasks I love doing. I usually do a fresh manicure, take a bubble bath, enjoy a nap, and also crank out a lot of writing. I don’t usually get uninterrupted writing time during the week as work tends to get in the way, but someday my writing will my job, and that’s where this blog comes in. I’m inviting you to join me on this wild adventure as I work my way towards becoming a successful author. I am looking forward to connecting with my readers (that’s you) in a meaningful and fun way. This is where you’ll be able to read about everything from what I’m working on, what I’m reading, or what I’m currently obsessing about. So, lovelies, enjoy the rest of your day.