One Lovely Blog Award

My thanks to Elizabeth for the nomination.


1.  Thank the person who nominated you.

2.  Share 7 facts about yourself.

3.  Nominate up to 15 people for the award.

4.  Let the people know they have been nominated.


1.  I have the rarest eye color in the world.  So does my youngest daughter.  Only 2% of the entire population have green eyes.  Not only do we have green eyes, we both have central heterochromia iridum.  Our pupils are surrounded by yellow and the outer iris is green.  I also have sectoral heterochromia.  I have a brown spot in one of my eyes.  She does not.
My oldest daughter has the appearance of complete heterochromia, like David Bowie.  Like him, hers is the result of an injury which is technically called aniscoria.  She was hit in the face by a hard kicked soccer ball and one pupil is permanently frozen in a dilated position.

2.  I never had wisdom teeth nor did my mama.  That is a result of a mutation that happens in 35% of the population.  Unfortunately, I didn’t pass that along to any of my children.
There is recent evidence that the suppression of wisdom teeth was a mutation that popped up in China three to four hundred thousand years ago.

3.  My feet are so different, they look like they belong to separate people.  They are also different sizes.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I found out that I was the result of a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong.)

4.  I’ve scared many a neighbor (and still do) by walking down a ladder from my roof, like I walk down stairs.  It never made any sense to me to crawl down a ladder backward.

5.  I can spell complete sentences and have never met but one other person who not only could understand every word I spell, they could respond in kind.

6.  If I care about you and you need me, I would crawl on my hands and knees to the ends of the Earth to help you…but if you fuck me over, you’re on your own.

7.  I really hate to write and I think everything I write is rubbish.


Robert Matthew

True Facts About The Town Of Whisper

Pansy Faye’s grandfather and Elwyn Turner were loosely based on my grandpa.  He was an entrepreneur who owned cafes, fillin’ stations and little grocery stores.  He would let people take a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk or a pack of cigarettes, with the promise of repayment on payday.  Most of them returned.  Some of them didn’t.

Pansy Faye, Leroy, Ron Carson, and Billy Ray were all fictional characters.

Lucy Maes’ character was loosely based on a man who owned a tire place in the middle of town.  My friend and I knew the owners of a restaurant next door and we stopped by to grab a bite to eat.  This man was eating a salad for lunch, started laughing and then started choking.  I thought about trying to dislodge whatever was in his mouth but I was told to stay away.
Since it was prior to 1973, EMS had not yet been established.  I remember everybody just standing around, watching this man choke to death.

My daddy was by no means a Baptist preacher but Reverend Smythes’ reading habits were loosely based on him.  He loved to read Earl Stanley Gardner books and was even known to read a Harlequin Romance Novel.

Ron Carson’s sons’ names were based on the husband of a friend of mine when I lived in Philadelphia.  His name was Paul Peter.  He had a brother named Peter Paul.

Leroy’s mama being carried around in the trunk of his car is based on me.  I carry my mama’s ashes in the trunk of my car and have for nine years.

The airplane crash was based on a crash that happened near my hometown. A large jumbo jet collided with a small private plane.  It was the first crash investigated by the NTSB.  None of the passengers survived and the only body intact was a stewardess found in a tree, still strapped to her jumpseat.  People were combing through the woods, taking jewelry from limbs.

The story about the cats in the well was fictional.

Matt Perkins was a fictional character.

Joshua Beacham was the fictional name of a real person.  The entire story is true.

Chick Larson was a fictional character.

Myrna Brown was the fictional name of a real person.  I did not know her personally but I knew of her through one of my roommates.
She did work at the Whisk A Go-Go in Augusta, Georgia.
Did she really roll one of the most famous golfers of all time while he was there for the Masters?  Yes, she did.
Do I know who it was?  Yes, I do.
Will I divulge his name?  No.

Sherry Plemmons was based on a real person.  The tragic events that I wrote about really happened.

The person telling the story is loosely based on Loser in that he would use any means available, be it charm, lies, hollow flattery or bullying to get information.

His daddy really did tell him to be nice to the ugly girls as well as the pretty ones because the ugly ones would be so grateful for the attention, they would do anything.

Although he fully expected to win a Pulitzer Prize, he never did.

A Town Called Whisper – Chapter Seven

The last name on my list was Sherry Plemmons, a 29-year-old woman from Pawtucket, South Carolina.  Searching her name led to an article written more than seven years earlier.

She had successfully battled and beaten death before but it had been a Pyrrhic victory.

According to the report, she and her eighteen month old daughter were traveling down a winding, mountainous road.  A semi-tractor trailer drifted into her lane, causing her to swerve.  She lost control of her car and it flipped over several times, coming to rest at the bottom of a steep embankment.  Her daughter was thrown from the car.

Sherry suffered serious injures but managed to get out of the car and crawl up the hill.  When she reached the top, she saw her daughter sitting in the middle of the road, apparently okay.  Her daughter saw her, raised her arms and called for her.  Before Sherry could get to her, another car came around the bend and ran over her little girl.

Her subsequent depression took its toll and it would be years before she would recover.  Not only did she have to suffer the loss of her daughter, she had to suffer the loss of her husband.

He could never reconcile in his mind that somehow the loss of their child had not been her fault.  He left her and she plunged into an even deeper depression.

With the help of family, friends and years of physical and mental therapy, she slowly began to recover.  Understanding that the death of her child and the failure of her marriage had not been her fault had been a long, arduous journey but she had persevered and emerged triumphant.

“The light in her eyes,” as her parents said, “was starting to come back.” She began to socialize and had even started to be comfortable riding in a car.  Driving a car again however, was a hurdle she had yet to conquer.

One day while out shopping with friends, on a whim, she bought a raffle ticket from a local high school booster club.  The grand prize was an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas.

When she won, although vehemently denied, it was suspected that the drawing had been rigged in her favor.  It was the first thing she had ever won and she was determined to go and go alone.  He parents begged her to ask a friend to go along but Sherry reassured them by saying she needed to get used to doing things by herself.

As she was ready to board the plane, she laughed and said “don’t worry if you never see me again.  It’ll just mean my ship came in.”

Many of us associate death with some sort of Divine intervention or design. I believe we need to, in order to make sense of a loss that simply cannot be understood or readily accepted.  We don’t want it to be final.  We want to know that there is something after.

None of us will escape death but when it comes too soon or by what seems to be unjustifiable means, it calls into question, at least for me, the motives of this so-called merciful God.  It makes us question His motives.  It challenges our faith.

There are five stages of death.  Acceptance is the final stage.  Some people reach that stage, while others never do.  Those who can’t or won’t are left with a gaping wound in their hearts and become frozen in a world of unanswered questions.

As a reporter, it is my job to tell a story and leave the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the basic who, what, where, when and why.  Why has been a question asked by people throughout the ages.  For some, the answer to why is the only road to acceptance.  We ask but sometimes, acceptance is only realized when we understand that there are and never will be any answers.

The remains of Whisper were slowly and methodically put to rest along with the townsfolk.  An entire town was gone, leaving only a footprint of what used to be.  A large granite boulder, bearing the image of an airplane and all the names of the victims was placed in what was once the center of town.

These people are gone but they will be remembered.  They once lived and loved and laughed.  That will be their legacy and it will withstand the test of time.

My stories of just five of the lives lost on that day was reduced to four, as I chose not to include Joshua Beacham.  My stories were meant to put into perspective the fact that these were more than names on a victim list.  I wanted readers to know them intimately.  I wanted readers to question why their lives were extinguished in such a violent manner.  I wanted readers to mourn for them as if they knew them personally.

I put the town of Whisper behind me, along with the souls who met their fate that day.  I have never returned to the site but I have heard stories of visitors who swear they hear chatter where Leroy’s barber shop used to stand and smell fresh-baked cornbread wafting through the air.

My story of “The Town Of Whisper” won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism and I became the youngest recipient to date.  I now work for a large metropolitan newspaper, where my special interest stories are published weekly.

That event changed my life forever.  I still ask why but now I am a little more at ease with the difference between the burning need for answers and the simple act of acceptance.




A Town Called Whisper – Chapter Six

Myrna Brown was a 42-year-old woman from Augusta, Georgia.  For years, she had worked at a local bar in the heart of downtown, called The Whisk-A-Go-Go.  It was a franchised branch of the original Whiskey A Go-Go club on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.

Myrna could hold her own, looks and figure-wise, against any twenty-five year old around and not many people knew her true age.  She had seen many things and done and heard many more.

Since the Masters were held in Augusta every year, she had been privy to the lives of the rich and famous visitors and the even more rich and famous golfers. During the tournament and after the match of each day, those rich and famous folks would pour into the Club and a good time was had by all, especially Myrna.

She was not one to stand on ceremony when around these men.  Their celebrity didn’t elevate them to any sort of superman status but it did afford them a certain je ne sais quoi.

The year before, one of the most famous golfers of all time “strayed” and he paid for it.  After a night of drinking and carousing around, he passed out. Without a second thought, the “courtesan” promptly rolled him.

Everybody knew about it but it was kept out of the local and major newspapers and other outlets for the protection of his reputation and to prevent embarrassing his trusting and unsuspecting wife.  One newspaper, The National Enquirer did not bury it but that paper was considered to be nothing more than a trashy rag.

Nobody paid much attention to what was written about the incident…but I did.  The courtesan was interviewed with the promise of anonymity but through my aforementioned charm, I was able to acquire the name.  It was Myrna Brown.

Myrna must have known that the odds of her ever “consorting” with another golfer were going to be pretty slim.  According to one of her friends at the Whisk A Go-Go, she sold everything she owned and was headed to Las Vegas.  She was hoping to find a job in one of the casinos and knew that her profession was also legal there.  She knew at her age, competition would be stiff so within a week of her arrival, she had an appointment with a plastic surgeon to give her a brand new set of firm twins.

Ms. Brown’s lifestyle may have been questionable, but was she on the plane for atonement?  Was she on the plane to pay for stealing from the golfer?  Reverend Smythe would say “vengeance is mine.  I will repay, says the Lord.”  If that is true and he was repaying Ms. Brown, when will the man she stole from pay his penance?  Where was the justice in this one-sided punishment?  She suffered a violent end and he lives to commit adultery another day.  How could this be fair?  Again, as Reverend Smythe would say, it was not for me to question the decisions of the all-knowing and all-powerful God.•


Chick Larson was a good-ole-boy from Asheville, North Carolina.  He had just celebrated his 75th birthday and was on his way to headline at the Las Vegas Sands Hotel.

For years, residents had enjoyed listening to Chick stand in the middle of Pritchard Park and tell his outlandish tales and gut-splitting humorous stories, including how to land a “real mountain wife” and how to “quietly” get rid of her, “if’n she weren’t no good at cookin’.”

Chick had driven a city bus in his early life but he liked to drink a bit and would sometimes doze off while waiting for passengers to board.  He was eventually fired, became homeless and instead of turning his anger outward, he developed a remarkable sense of humor.

He slept under a park bench unless it was raining or snowing.  In inclement weather, he would nestle inside the alcove in front of Gentry’s pharmacy. Chick always marveled at the over-sized mortar and pestle replica in the storefront window and when he was inebriated, it was even more fascinating.

Chicks’ lucky day came when a representative from the North Carolina Film Board, named Ben Sawyer was looking for local talent and caught one of his performances.  Through his connections with a pal in Las Vegas, he arranged for Chick to have a one-time shot at fame.  When Chicks’ age was questioned, Ben said “don’t let his age fool you.  He is hilarious.”

On Ben Sawyer’s word alone, Chick was signed as the opening act for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.

Chick had never been on an airplane nor had he ever owned a suit.  When the townsfolk heard the news, they all threw in and bought him a custom-made tuxedo that would have made any highfalutin movie star green with envy.

I smiled when I heard about the suit and the free shave and haircut the local barber gave him.  I imagined that’s what the good people from the town of Whisper would have done.
Chick was leaving nobody behind except the people of Asheville, who he had entertained all those years.  They, like I would be asking the same question.  Why?  What was the reasoning behind letting a man finally get his shot at stardom, only to have it taken away before he ever got the chance to shine?
I was not liking this God that Reverend Smythe defends so staunchly.



To be continued________________________

A Town Called Whisper – Chapter Five

My editor approved the time and expense that my investigation would entail and thought it could be presented as a weekly “human interest” story.

I didn’t look closely at the list.  I just did a quick scan and randomly put a check-mark beside five names.

I didn’t know what I was going to find but what I expected to find was normal everyday people, living normal everyday lives, cut short by a tragic event.

It was going to be a long, tedious procedure and in order to obtain information, some of it long ago tucked away in the archives of the courthouse, I was prepared to use any means available.  That’s what a good reporter does.

Those tactics could range anywhere from pretending to be a “newby” cub reporter to wooing everybody with my innocent and irresistible Southern boy-like charm.

When I was just a “pup,” my daddy said “son, don’t just be nice to the pretty ones.  Be nice to the ugly ones, too.  They’re so desperate for attention, they’ll give you anything you want.  They’ll even break rules if you make them feel special.”

He was right and although I didn’t necessarily echo his particular sentiments, I did find his advice to be helpful.  I quickly discovered which employees would succumb to a wink and a toothy smile and I knew which ones would fall for any form of hollow flattery.

Armed with time, an expense account, a notepad, a pen and the house wine of the South, I began pouring over documents.  Day after day after day, I scoured the catacombs of microfiche, yellowed with age and the warped and torn pages of heavy, dusty binders.

“My five,” as I came to call them, had lives and stories and I was going to tell them.  I was still questioning the “whys” and I constantly reminded myself of Reverend Smythes’ belief that “we all leave a mark.  We all leave a legacy.”

Whether remarkable or insignificant, these people had once lived and had left a mark.


These are their stories.


The first name on my list was Joshua Beacham, a 31-year-old man from Hickory, North Carolina.

Mr. Beacham had recently left his home town of Hickory and settled in Goose Neck Hollow, Kentucky.  Why he was going to Las Vegas is anybody’s guess.

Tax records showed that he drifted from job to job, mostly involving manual labor.  I could find no evidence of him ever having been married, divorced or siring any children, however I did find an arrest record from just one year earlier.

Most of it had been redacted, with the exception of the date, city and state of the infraction and the final verdict, which stated the charges had been dismissed.  I checked the microfiche of the local newspaper in Hickory and found that days’ edition of the newspaper.

Sometimes, you regret looking too closely into somebodys’ past and this was one of those times.  What I discovered, literally made my blood run cold.

According to reports, Mr. Beacham had savagely raped and murdered an eight-year-old girl from his neighborhood.  He had been seen following her home from school in his car and was the prime suspect when she disappeared.

They found her broken little body in the woods adjacent to his house and a manhunt ensued.  When he was stopped by the police, they found her clothes and bloody underwear in the truck of his car.

While on trial, his attorney brought forth the fact that the arresting officers had not asked permission to open the trunk, which constituted illegal search and seizure.  Therefore, the evidence was inadmissible.  Without that evidence, there was not enough to convict.  The judge reluctantly concurred and the case was dismissed.

Mr. Beacham smiled at her parents as he walked out of the courtroom, a free man.

As a reporter, I am supposed to be unbiased.  I am never supposed to vocalize an opinion but I found myself struggling with wanting to end this segment of the story by applying a disgraceful epithet to this monsters’ name and delighting in the fact that his body had been justifiably torn apart.


Matt Perkins was a 37-year-old man who hailed from Nashville, Tennessee.  He was the top salesman for The Royal Typewriter Company. He was on his way to Las Vegas to promote the newest model called the “Royal Skylark.”  He had snagged an audience with the publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, probably hoping to persuade him to equip the newsroom with the newest electric typewriters.

He was married and had three daughters, aged 10, 12 and 14.  By all accounts, he was a regular Joe.  He paid his taxes, was an attentive husband and father and enjoyed his work.  He was highly thought of around his hometown and was liked by his friends and colleagues.

I ran across an anecdote quoted in his hometown paper, as told by his boss at the funeral.

“Matt Perkins was beyond excited about the new Royal Skylark.  It had some weight to it and apparently not realizing this, he dropped the prototype he was to take to Las Vegas and broke it into several pieces.”

“A quick call to the company guaranteed another one would be waiting for him at his hotel.”  His boss’ voice cracked when he said “before he left for the airport, I told him it was a good thing he wasn’t going to be carrying the typewriter on the plane with him.  You might drop it and make the plane crash.”

If his boss felt somehow responsible, he didn’t voice that belief nor did anybody else.  Still, that phrase “you might drop it and make the plane crash” had to weigh heavy on his mind.

I’m sure Reverend Smythe would dismiss any feelings of responsibility and offer a platitude along the lines of “it was just his time to be called home.”
And he would say that it wasn’t up to me to question why God would take a loving husband and father away from his family.  He would say that but I could not justify to any degree, the death of this obviously good man.



To be continued________________