You don’t have to be alike to get along.

Getting together in front of Rusty's in downtown Vicksburg. From left to right, Bert Carson, Christina Carson, Caleb Pirtle, Stephen Woodfin.
Getting together in front of Rusty’s in downtown Vicksburg. From left to right, Bert Carson, Christina Carson, Caleb Pirtle, Stephen Woodfin.

BERT CARSON is a better man than I am.

And Christina Carson is a stronger woman.

They look at life, see the wrong and try to fix it.

They see the right and faithfully follow its dictates.

They don’t eat sugar.

They don’t drink coffee.

And caffeine will never stain their lips.

They don’t drink alcoholic beverages.

They don’t eat meat.

They run every day of their lives.

It may be raining.

It may be storming.

The summer in Alabama may be blazing.

The temperatures may be soaring past a hundred.

It doesn’t matter.

They run.

They run late at night.

But they run.

God bless them.

If I didn’t run my mouth, I wouldn’t run at all.

Stephen Woodfin and I drove to Vicksburg, Mississippi, for a genuine face-to-face, sit down get together, Southern-styled lunch with Bert and Christina.

They are writers.

Stephen and I throw a word or two on paper from time to time.

We had talked by phone.

We had hung out together on Google Plus.

We had emailed.

Bert and Christina both blog for Caleb and Linda Pirtle.

We showcase their books.

We have read their books.

We have reviewed their books.

But, for the most part, we were simply faces, voices, words, and signatures.

It was good to put flesh and bone on everyone.

We met at Rusty’s, one of Stephen’s old hangouts in Vicksburg, down near the shoreline of the Mississippi River.

Bert and Christina had driven down the Natchez Trace a day earlier from their home in Huntsville.

They had run the night before.

Dark streets.

Unknown streets.

But they ran.

I had slept.

Not once did I have to dodge the headlights of a Mississippi River barge.

Stephen and I sat at Rusty’s and ordered Bloody Mary’s.

Bert and Christina abstained.

Stephen and I ordered tea.

Bert and Christina ordered water.

No caffeine for them.

Stephen and I ordered meat.

Bert and Christina pecked around on the menu until they found enough side dishes and salads to fill up a good vegetable plate.

When we finished lunch, we all sat around the outdoor table at a coffee shop.

Stephen and I drank coffee.

Bert and Christina abstained.

Caffeine, you know.

We all have our sins.

Some indulge.

Some abstain.

None of us condemned the other.

And that made us friends.

We shared stories.

We shared writing ideas.

We discussed writing techniques.

Stephen writes legal thrillers.

I write suspense noir.

Bert and Christina write mainstream fiction.

I write pulp fiction.

Their work is on a much higher and sometimes mystical plain.

But, jointly and separately, we appreciate it all.

It’s not the writing that counts.

Nor the style.

It’s the story.

And we all tell our stories in our own way.

We said our goodbyes and drove off in opposite directions.

But we said we’d meet again.

I left with one commitment in my mind, and it had nothing to do with writing.

I’ll still drink my bourbon.

I’ll still drink my coffee.

I’ll still eat my meat – fried, barbecued, baked, or grilled.

But I am cutting out sugar.

Bert’s a better man than I am.

And Christina’s a stronger person.

But I’m catching up, one sugar cube at a time.

Please click the book cover image to read more about Caleb Pirtle III and his books.

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