100-Day Challenge – Day 17

For challenge number 17 write a story about how something–be it an animal, a person or a ghost–is literally preventing you from writing. How do you turn them into an antagonist? What sort of things make them absolutely insufferable? How do you eventually win/lose the fight?

Length : 400 words

I’ve never told anyone about my writer’s block. I’ve always pretended that none existed, that I was free to write anything I chose to write, anytime I wanted. But my father, the ghost of my father, has been a force holding me back. He was a bootlegger.

Actually that was his second weakness. His first was being an alcoholic. And like so many alcoholics, he always had a jug at the ready. No matter whether he was dressing rabbits for his Saturday morning store delivery, or cutting firewood for the winter, or reading a wild west story a jug was always close by. Within reach with stretching very far. Of course he didn’t realize anyone knew about the jug(s).

He kept one behind the gas can where he refueled his chain saw. Another was under the pickup seat, handy for a snort or two during Saturday morning deliveries, A third one, a thin half-pint could always be found between the seat cushion and the arm of his recliner. There may have been others.

I suppose he had a fear of running out. And I can relate that from when I was in high school and smoking Camel cigarettes. A close friend and I had discussed the deep-seated fears we harbored. And we agreed that running out of Camels would be the worst possible thing that could ever happen to us. So, like my father, I had extra packs stashed – one in the glove box of my car, another in my bookcase in my room, and a third in the right pocket of my heavy winter coat. This fear I experienced was very real. I worried about it. However, I didn’t begin growing my own tobacco. But  I once knew a man called Henry who did.

My father and I went to his farm one day for something. He took us into his barn, through a horse stall where he kept a great pile of tobacco leaves on the floor. When he opened the door we found three hound dogs sleeping his his chewing tobacco. “GET OUT!” he shouted. The dogs jumped up, shook, and hightailed it into the barnyard. He turned to us and said, “You know, those dogs are gonna ruin this tobacco yet.”

My father must have harbored some of Henry’s deep seated fears. Because later he built a distillery and started making his own bourbon.

He also owned a rabbitry. He raised rabbits and sold them to the grocery stores. He switched from commercial rabbit pellets to cracked corn. The cracked corn was used in the mash, the first step in manufacturing his own booze. When the mash was ready, he transferred it into his cooker , ran it off, and collected the 200 proof alcohol in glass gallon jugs. Then there was the corn left in the still. He fed it to his rabbits. The fact the rabbits were intoxicated much of the time didn’t seem to affect the final product, the rabbit meat he was still selling to the stores.

Because he didn’t have a distillery license and probably couldn’t purchase one, even he’d had the funds to do so, what he was doing was against the law. When the Feds learned what he was up to they arrived on the scene and busted everything up with axes just like in the movies. And when they were finished destroying his liquor business they carted him off to jail.

That marked me, a grade school kid seeing his father’s picture on the front page of the local newspaper with a caption that read: BOOTLEGGER JAILED.,

So now you know about the ghost standing between me and The Great American Novel.

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