Recently, I gave a speech in Junction, Texas. I do that once in a while. Give speeches. Whenever someone asks me to make a talk, I do it. And people ask me periodically, because I have very reasonable rates – I don’t charge anything. Generally, I just collect expense money for traveling to wherever I have to stand to give the speech.
In this case, being as how I had to drive all the way to Junction and back, a distance of around 90 miles, my travel expenses came to about $3000. Hey, I was surprised, too, that it was that much. But not as surprised as the Library Board in Junction, which is who asked me to come and talk. But then, free speeches are getting more and more expensive these days, what with the price of gas and all.
But free speech is very important in America, which is why I don’t charge anything except expense money. Americans have a right to hear free speeches. I think it’s in the constitution, or something.
Anyway, at the end of my talk in Junction I told them, like I always tell people, that they should buy my book. I haven’t actually written a book, but I always tell people to buy it, on the off chance that I might write one right quick, and they might see it in a store. You never know.
But writing a book seems like such a lot of trouble I’ve never done it. I’ve thought about asking people to just give me money anyway, but it just doesn’t seem the same.
And then, a while back, my brother, Steve, told me he had written a book. He’s always rushing around like he’s in a hurry, and never seems to have as much free time as I do, so you’d think I would have gotten around to writing a book before he did. But there you go.
I thought, at first, that he was probably kidding about writing a book, but then he gave me a couple of heavy boxes, full of copies of his book, and told me to sell them. Well. Like I’ve got nothing better to do than sell his books for him. Besides, you don’t get top scores on video games by wasting your time going around selling books, I’ll tell you that. Next thing you know, he’ll expect me to read it.
But then I thought, “Hey, I’m making this speech in Junction, for the library board. Maybe they’ll buy some of these books. After all, they’ve got a library to run.” So I mentioned Steve’s book and, sure enough, they bought some. But not near enough, because I’ve still got the best part of two boxes of these things sitting in my office.
The good news is that Steve is coming to Mason this very weekend, for a book signing at the football stadium on Saturday. I’m hoping he’ll have a good turnout there, so he’ll need these books I’ve got.
The book is called ‘My Search for the Real Heaven.’ After our dad died nine years ago, Steve started a pretty exhaustive study of heaven. He also decided to sit down and write some things about growing up in Mason, and must have gotten a little carried away. This book is the result. I really think Steve did a great job with it, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my brother. I’m saying that because I need to get rid of these books in my office.
The funny thing is that Russell Smith recently gave me a copy of his new book to review. It’s called ‘No Reason to Kill,’ and it’s the true story of the murder of 20-year-old Sheila Elrod. Sheila, a bright, outgoing, friendly girl, was killed during a jewelry store robbery in San Angelo in 1980. It took 21 years and a Texas Ranger who wouldn’t give up to finally catch her killer.
Russell’s background in law enforcement probably gave him the skills he uses to ferret out all the details of a story, not just some of them. After reading his first book, ‘The Gun that Wasn’t There,’ I felt like I knew everything there was to know about the fellow who shot Bill Cooksey. Russell was just as thorough in writing ‘No Reason to Kill.’ The story is just sadder.
I thought it was ironic that I was asked to review two books at just about the same time, one of them about heaven, and the other about a totally unnecessary, senseless murder. Especially since I seldom write book reviews at all.
Maybe there’s some kind of deep meaning to that. Maybe the idea is that we should think about heaven, because we never know when the information will come in handy. I have no idea.
All I know is you need to read both these books. And you need to read mine, too. If I ever write one . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who ignores most requests for book reviews, because he loses the books before he reads them. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org