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stories & essays


mykel d. myles
poet, short story writer and essayist mykel d. myles is a native clevelander. he is the winner of the 1999 dogwood tales magazine humor fiction award; lakeland community college poetry award for 2000; and the paul lawrence dunbar poetry award from the detroit black writers guild. he is the former editor-in-chief of cleveland's own african town crier.



"There he is! Hey, how you doin', my buddy?" Stone said, laying his cigar in the ash tray on the bar, and reaching to shake my hand.
"Pretty good, Stone," I said, seating myself on the stool next to him. "How are you today?"
"Oh, pretty fair for an old man, Danny, pretty fair.""Age is all in the head, Stone."
"Not no more. Most of it is in my back these days."
"The usual, Lucy," I said to the bar maid. "How about you, Stone, can I treat you to a beer?"
"Make it two, Lucy," I called, heading for the cigarette machine.
"Ain't no Kool Milds in there," Lucy said. "That cigarette man didn't come again today. I don't know what's wrong with that man. I told the boss, though. I'm sorry." She wiped the bar in front of us, and poured our beers.
"Oh, that's all right," I said, and she treated me to a glimpse of her dimpled smile, before heading back to the opposite end of the bar to watch her soap operas.
"I probably smoke too much anyway," I said.
"Here," Stone said, pulling a long cigar from his shirt pocket. "Have one of these, buddy. Come all the way from Cuba."
"Cuba?" I said, as he sipped the head off of his beer.
"How did you get cigars from Cuba? America does no trading with Cuba these days," I said, accepting the offer.
"Got 'em 'cause my brother sent 'em to me," he said, and took a puff from his cigar, adding, "Cuba's my home."
"Cuba is your home?" I said. "Stone, I thought you said you were from Alabama?"
"Am. Ain't come up here 'til after the war."
"Well," I said, "If you are from Alabama, how could your brother send you cigars from home in Cuba if home is really in Alabama?"
"'Cause my home is in Cuba," he said, and took another sip of his beer before adding, "Cuba, Alabama that is - Sumpter County, d'rec'ly 'cross the border from Toomsuba." He looked at me with his head tilted knowingly to one side, and squinted his eyes from the smoke rising from the cigar that dangled casually from the corner of his mouth.
"Toomsuba?" I asked. "Come on, Stone, what the heck's a Toomsuba?"
"Toomsuba, Mississippi?"
He nodded. "That's where I worked as a young man," he said, placing his cigar in the ash tray. "Toomsuba, Mississippi. Then I got changed over to a farm a little way down from there in Whynot." He sipped some beer. "That's when I left, and joint the army. After Whynot."
"Whynot what, Stone?" I asked incredulously.
"Mississippi," he said, matter-of-factly.
"Whynot, Mississippi?" I asked.
And he answered, with the smile of a trickster, "'Cause I ain't like it there."


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