Made In The U.S.A.

Posted on January 19, 2016 by

By Jian Huang During the summer of 1997, Timothy McVeigh was tried on television for killing people in Oklahoma. The English stood along the streets outside Westminster Abbey to bid farewell to Princess Diana. And in Los Angeles, our closest thing to Sears – the Woolworth’s on Broadway and 8th — closed its doors after […]

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Posted on September 28, 2014 by

By Jacqueline Gonzalez Reyes

“…Then one day she called home and no one answered.

She called from different phones. Still no answer. She kept calling. She waited six months and went to Mexico. In her town, her mother told her that her kids now ran away from her when they saw her. …”

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Posted on September 28, 2014 by

By Diego Renteria

“…Because it was Christmas, we tried our best to keep our songs cheerful or boisterous to keep with the festivities. We also played songs of heartbreak and loss because we knew they wanted to hear them. Their gritos indicated we were right.

About twenty minutes in, a woman emerged from the house and asked, “Can you come inside and play a song for us?” …

I knew what song they would request and secretly hoped I was wrong. …”

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ONE OF A MILLION: A cockfighting story

Posted on August 11, 2014 by

By Armando Ibarra

“…Usually my father wouldn’t allow my mother or sisters at such events cause it’s no place for females. A lot of foul language and drunk dudes. Why he allowed them to go this time, you would have to ask him. But he did. My mother and sister, Dora, came with us to the Derby. We left the ranch two days in advance to give the birds time to settle in to the new location and weather. …”

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Posted on July 23, 2014 by

By Celia Viramontes

“…The man led them indoors, as Don Luis and his paisanos laid cardboard slats on the ground. For a peso each, he furnished them with a piece of floor. It beat sleeping on the hot Empalme roads, nakedly exposed to passers-by.

The men laid the cardboard in neat rows. Don Luis laid his back on the cardboard. Its hard edges rubbed his spine. He lay next to his buddy. He wanted nothing more than to sleep and dream. It must be two in the morning now. He licked beads of sweat off his lips, salty like the rest of his body. Salty like the lake next to the railroad tracks that he remembered from his first stint as a bracero. …”

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Posted on July 22, 2013 by

“…Then my car’s transmission went out, so I had to take the train to work: The Blue Line to 7th and from there I’d just walk. I had to be there at 6 am.

One day, I was walking to the Blue Line station in Compton, when an SUV with four Latino gang members passed me as I was at the intersection. The passenger held a gun out the window and said, “Don’t move, motherfucker!” They were talking directly to me, as if they knew me personally. …”

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Posted on July 1, 2013 by

By Milovan Pompa

“…In the ninth, I got the first out but the second hitter singled and stole second base. One of their best hitters was up. He had hit me hard earlier.

The count was two and two. It had been a little windy that night, though not anything to notice. I start to deliver my pitch. The wind picked up and a mini dust-devil funnel cloud about two feet tall suddenly spun right on home plate. …”

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WANNA BURRITO? A prison tale

Posted on June 10, 2013 by

By Richard Gatica

“…The absence of water in the toilet creates a powerful vacuum. Air from the cell is sucked into the drain. We do not have to communicate through the vent any more. We can hear each other through the drain, although there is a slight echo and hollow sound. In some places, our ability to communicate through the air vent is poor due to a particular design. In those units, by habit, some people will keep their toilet devoid of water while not in use. …”

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Posted on March 14, 2013 by

By Rachel Kimbrough

“…I got home from work one night to find her sitting on the couch with this weird bemused look on her face. She instructed me to sit on the couch next to her, and then told me that she’d just woken up from a wet dream about me and her only to find a demon on top of her with its mouth over hers.

She said she rebuked it in the name of the LORD and it scampered away. I moved out the next week. …”

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Posted on February 27, 2013 by

By David Chittenden

…So you could dig your hole to China anywhere you wanted. Well, I shouldn’t have said just anywhere. Because when the sewer came down our street, it was free, but you had to pay to be connected to it. Billy Joe’s parents never felt it was worthwhile to pay, for they still had the outhouse there behind the house, and it was working fine. There was a well-worn path from the back door of the house and to the outhouse. Naturally you couldn’t dig a hole to China on the path, or you couldn’t place any obstructions on the path in case someone had go in a hurry. …

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Posted on February 27, 2013 by

By Monah Li

“…Over the years, I train myself to vomit without a noise. In public bathrooms, I sit all the way back on the seat and barf between my spread legs.

I’m envied for my slim figure. But the price I pay for this is steep:

By 45, I have full-blown osteoporosis. My teeth are replaced with implants, for the cost of two houses.

Relentless back-pain, constant fatigue and shame make me suicidal.

I pray for just one day of freedom, but I am stuck. …”

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Posted on December 4, 2012 by

By Alexis Rhone Fancher

I remember listening

to Bob Dylan in Donna Melville’s attic

bedroom, 3 a.m. We were

drinking her daddy’s bourbon, playing

Subterranean Homesick Blues over and over,

memorizing it word by mumbled word.

Johnny’s in the basement,

mixing up the medicine, I’m on the pavement, thinkin’ ‘bout

the government… Donna passed me the bottle.

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STOCKTON STORIES: One Morning in Dominica

Posted on November 26, 2012 by

By Theresa Asiedu

“…The sun was shining, the fresh mountain breeze was gently touching my skin and I still had the scent of pink blossoming hibiscus flowers in my nose.

My stepfather popped in and out of our lives trying to maintain control of our family. He would yell at everything, from the house that was never tidy enough to the food that didn’t suit his taste. I would find myself holding my breath when he spoke, my body tensing with every word he uttered, his voice leaving goosebumps on my skin. …”

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STOCKTON STORIES: Something more than/less than human

Posted on November 26, 2012 by

By Matthew Garcia

“… I hear the screech of the tires and the smell of rubber burning. My head then hits the windshield and my sight goes black for a second. My body flip upside down as if I were on a roller coaster. The car isn’t done with me. It is as if the car grows arms and grabs me and spins me around — just as in wrestling where after being spun around you get slammed into the ground. My body is tossed to the side. Silence. The car takes off.

‘’Don’t leave me here I don’t deserve this,’’ I say. …”

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Posted on November 9, 2012 by

Recently, I did writing workshops with students at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. The results were powerful, if sometimes even disturbing, stories of real life and real moments. Read “Joe,” a startling story of a misplaced word and its effect on a man…

By Gina Reyes

“…Joe was my shoulder to cry on. He was my companion to keep me occupied. He was there for me to kill time and help me keep my mind from getting stuck in a rut. We would lie around making jokes, laughing, playing spades over and over, and having a fun time together to pass time.

In the time we spent together, we built a stronger bond that turned into a love that was unmistakably precious.

He was willing to accept me and my unborn child, as well as the child I already had. He was willing to support us knowing he was not the father. …”

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Posted on November 9, 2012 by

One story that emerged from the Tell Your True Tale writing workshops I did with students at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton was “Saturday” …

By Alexandria Hendon

“…That year we moved in with him, he and I were inseparable, but it hadn’t always been that way. He denied me as his daughter several times. He had come and gone as he pleased. Each time he decided he wanted to be around my mom, my brothers, and me, he stayed around for a week or so. In that week, he would take us to dinner, zoos, and riding in go-carts. Then we wouldn’t see him for months. Every time he left, I would lose a dad all over again.

As I grew older, I learned that every time he left, he had gotten some girl pregnant. As far as I know, we have four half brothers and one half sister. My mom and dad would always fight, mainly because of his cheating, but for some reason, she would always take him back. …”

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Posted on October 29, 2012 by

Earlier this fall, I did a writing workshop with students in Pedro Ramirez’s composition class at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.

The results, I think, were terrific, if many of the stories were a bit grim. I’m publishing a few of them over the next few weeks. Here’s “The Last Day”….

By Christian Lockwood

I once had a house with a white picket fence. In it, I lived with a wife, and two children. Life seemed pretty good. But the shell shock from a tour in Libya fighting the war on terrorism tore me up, and drugs and alcohol became a way of life from which I could not free myself.

That is how one warm August day in 2009, well into my self-medication, I awake on the seat of my pickup after another night of no place to rest my head. My pickup, my dog Batman, and my cell phone are all I have left. My wife and kids have been embarrassed by me for the last time. …

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STOCKTON STORIES: The Light That Night

Posted on October 29, 2012 by

Another story from a writing workshop with students in Pedro Ramirez’s composition class at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.

Many of the stories were great. Among them, Darshay Smith’s story of one night years ago when her mother was shot and wounded. Check out her piece, “The Light That Night.”

By Darshay Smith

“…My mom and I were reunited nine days after her release and she was excited to see me.

From the surgeries her vocal chords had gotten deeper. Her voice was like a grown man’s and it would take a year and a half for it to get back to normal. She picked me up and held me tight. I screamed because I didn’t know who she was. She couldn’t let me go. She cried every day until her voice came back and I finally recognized her….

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Posted on October 19, 2012 by

By Jeffrey Scott Hunter

…One morning, while laying on this one bank, I watched the manager show up first and go inside. Five minutes later, she removed a plant from the front window. At the time I thought nothing of it. The next day she did the same thing, only this time I was in a different spot getting a better view and saw a cop car sitting across the street in a gas station. After she removed the plant, the cop drove off.

I went back every day the following week, and each morning within a couple minutes of the manager arriving, she’d remove the plant. Sometimes the cop would do a slow drive-by, and it was always at the same time. …

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Posted on October 6, 2012 by

By Rachel Kimbrough

For four years, I could not remember what my son looked like alive.

If I shut my eyes and focused, I had one vague memory of him laughing–the second and last time he ever laughed, immediately before the nap from which he would never wake. But I couldn’t remember his face. My one vivid memory of him was what he looked like when I found him dead, SIDS having somehow drained the life out of him–his blue cheeks, purple lips, spiderweb-like something spreading on his tongue. Thoroughly limp, all the infantile will to remain fetal completely gone.

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