It all started when someone called an African American toddler "cute little niglet." White Trash was created in tribute to this unknown child. It has a hilarious cast and shocking storyline based on real people and true events in a small rural town in Texas. When Thia Franks returns to her home of Granby, Texas, the very place to which she’d vowed never to return, Granby’s worst and best elements force the new single mother to face both her past and her destiny. At first, it seems that nothing has changed: Chester Kennedy’s goats continue to run rampant through the town, Officer Tina Wolfe stands accused of racial profiling the growing Hispanic community, Thia’s gun-wielding neighbor believes a squirrel has it in for her, and the town’s local newspaper owner prints only what she believes the citizens should know. But when a young black man—an upstanding and popular citizen of the small, east-central Texas town—is brutally murdered, everything changes. Everyone is being watched. Everyone is being judged.
White Trash is a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud book that also serves as a bitter social commentary on American hypocrisies and prejudices. As Thia Franks comes to terms with the murder, and the small police department works the biggest whodunit in Granby history, a startling underworld of domestic abuse, gunrunning, drug use, illicit sex, and child molestation is revealed. While the murder is horrendous and some of the citizens of Granby are appalling, many stand up for what is right, and the total package is endearing. You’ll want to read White Trash more than once in order to capture all of the tale’s insights as it neatly summarizes the reality of every American small town peopled with neighbors you can’t get away from, you can’t stop talking about, and you may not want to leave.
Got Your Goat?by Alexandra AllredDon’t ever look down your nose at someone because you have no idea what you’re looking down on.A lot of people ask me what my deal is with goats. Why goats? Why, they wonder, would I be so preoccupied with smelly, ill-mannered animals who poop on everything and eat garbage. First of all, the business about goats eating tin cans is more myth than fact. “Normal” goats don’t eat that. Goats are cool. They were the first domesticated animals that humans used for survival. But I understand the intent of the question.The truth is, I was the typical arrogant American in that I just assumed I had it so much better than anyone in a Third World country. I wrongly assumed that my mere station in life put me at the higher advantage. When we traveled overseas people would typically guess that I was German, Italian and then, ahhhh, Americana! Funny that it never occurred to me that this peasant or tribesman was fully prepared to speak either German, Italian or English with me, not even his own native tongue, when all I could do was speak English. But I could see the appreciation in his eyes when he realized I was American. This meant I had money and in my young, stupid years, I took this to mean that I was somehow better than he. As we traipsed through Central Asia, Africa, Russia and Europe, people trailed behind us, begging for money or simply longing to speak to us in their broken English. I was alllllllll that and a bag of expensive chips.It was when we were in Tunisia that I was exposed to goats and a healthy dose of reality. We were headed to the Mediterranean to see the ancient ruins of a Roman coliseum when we were forced to the side of a road by a goat herder. Out of nowhere, what seemed to be a hundred goats suddenly covered the countryside and promptly stopped. For a moment, there was no herder in sight. Our driver got out of his car and began yelling. (Tunisians do this a lot. When in doubt, just yell in any random direction until either the problem is resolved or you just feel better). Minutes ticked by and so we all stepped out and began looking around for the wayward goat herder. Big mistake. Goats are a curious and social bunch and before we knew it, we had a hundred new buddies.As we tried to fend off nosey goats and squelch the fear of being rammed to death, a man, his dog and a few more goats appeared. Instantly, our driver yelled at him. Then, he yelled back. It’s what they do. In the meantime, however, no one was going anywhere. I don’t speak goat, goat herder or Arabic yet somehow through the arm waving and yelling, I understood it all. Our driver had told the man that we were on our way to the ruins when his goats stopped us. The goat herder saw this as a perfect opportunity to teach Goat Herding 101 and the next thing I knew I was herding. Well, sort of. He was, I think, yelling at me to push the goats this way, then that way, then this way. I obliged. Sort of. The goats were NOT cooperating and this was, apparently, super funny.Stupid goats! They scattered. It was as if they sensed instant terror at the idea of me being in charge. The man yelled at me again with more arm waving, as if to say, “Well, go on! Get them!” Uh, okay! And I began running around trying to catch them.Pause.Have you ever tried to catch goats?Have you ever tried to catch lots of goats?Have you ever tried to catch lots of Arabic speaking goats?They do not listen. I know this because after “here goats, here goats!” didn’t work, I tried to sound like the goat herder had sounded. This wasn’t just funny to the two men, this was knee-slapping, uproariously funny that I was such an idiot I couldn’t even control a bunch of goats.Mercifully, we parted ways but my day wasn’t over. I would slid down some rocks, get turned around in the coliseum and, basically, turn out to be this feeble idiot who had to be watched every ten seconds. Flash forward to almost 14 years later when I was standing in my own pasture thinking, “Huh. It’s raining!” Odd. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Then, to my horror, I looked across the pasture to see that my billy goat had pee-ed on me from a great distance, marking me as one of his own and I realized that I STILL can’t control a bunch of goats.Man! How did that guy just stroll along the countryside with one little stick and totally control all those goats? Before I had come on to the picture, all the goats were so calm and happy. Ten seconds with me and they went nuts.Then, I learned the meaning of the term, “to get your goat.” Goats are calming animals (who knew?) and were often paired up with horses. In particular, racehorses were believed to perform better when paired in the barn with a goat so competitors would steal the goat friend in hopes of agitating the racehorse and throwing the race. Thus, getting his goat.As WHITE TRASH came to be, brimming with racism and gossiping and intolerance, the goat had to make an appearance. It is the metaphor for one’s state of peacefulness and in the town of Granby (and in my life), boy, oh, boy, is this ever needed!
Fox and Wolfe who were sitting at the light between Main and Huber, on their way to the funeral home, watched it all play out in slow motion. The cable popped, the latch gave way, and Chester jumped back, trying to keep the gas nozzle from spilling all over the pavement.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Wolfe said as Chester returned the nozzle to the pump’s hook and the back gate swung wide.
Sunlight filled the otherwise darkened trailer, and the amazing Tennessee Wooden Goats decided to make a break for it. Bill Parker was out of his truck and making faces of shock and surprise, pulling his ball cap off and rubbing his hair as Fox cranked the wheel. She dodged Lewis something- or-other in his pickup and pulled to the side of the road.
The leader of the fainting goats was surprised or shocked or whatever it takes to make the genetic muscle-locking alarms sound off, and he promptly passed out dangerously close to where some gasoline had spilled to the ground.
Chester, horrified, rushed forward and began to half-lift, half-drag the frozen creature to safety.
The scene was upsetting enough to the other goats that a frenzy of fainting ensued.
“Shit!” Wolfe yelled, climbing out of the car before Fox had stopped. “They’re dropping like flies! Look at ‘em. They’re dropping like flies! What the hell?”
Fox smiled. Wolfe had not read the article and did not know they were simply fainting.
Wolfe was out of the car and adjusting her gun. “Chester? What’s going on? Were they hit?”
“Just help me get them back in—”
“I didn’t see ya. Shit, Chester, I’m sorry. I never saw ya there!” Bill was standing in the melee of stiff-legged goats scattered about the street. One of the older goats was leaning heavily on the side of the trailer, another against Bill’s truck.
“Stop yelling!” Chester yelled. “You’re upsetting the goats! You’re upsetting the goats!”
“Upsetting the . . . Chester, what’s going on?” Wolfe stared down in disbelief at a goat that had fallen against her boot.
“They’re just fainting, is all,” he told Wolfe, laying his hands on a baby and wrestling it into his arms. “Just help me get them back inside the trailer. They’ll calm down when they’re back inside the trailer.”
“Fainting?” Her voice was one of such shock that Fox couldn’t stop the shout of laughter from escaping.
Bill Parker stood helplessly, still running his fingers through his hair, looking perplexed and sorry at the same time. All he needed to do was seize up and fall over. It’d be perfect. Just then three goats unlocked, stood again, and ran down the road.
“Well, hell, Bill, don’t just stand there!” Chester nodded toward the street as he tried to shove a stiff goat into the trailer. “Go get ‘em before they pass out in the street and get run over!”
Amber Hirsh managed to remain confined in her shirt and wrangled up a small, stiff baby goat. Jay Smith came out from behind the counter of his store to lend a helping hand while Wolfe and Bill Parker ran down the road. No sooner had the three goats laid eyes on Wolfe and Parker than they seized up again, legs in the air. Wolfe and Parker worked together, grabbing two front and two back hooves, and carried the first one back to the trailer. Adam Emerson and his wife pulled over and began the same strategy as Wolfe and Parker, picking up passed-out goats and carrying them back to the grateful Chester, who began doing a head count as he put them back into his trailer. One older goat made it as far as the door to the Town Pump when Jay
Smith had to run by it to go inside to ring up a customer. The goat locked up and leaned against the building. But given a few minutes to recover, Fox watched the goat travel another twenty feet, and she wondered what it might be thinking.
When the sound of wind causes you to pass out, where do you run?
She gave Teague a nudge with her elbow and pointed her chin in the direction of the runaway goat. As she did, she picked up a rock. “Watch this.” She threw the rock in the direction of the goat, just missing her and causing her great surprise and shock.
Down she went.
“Hey, Wolfie! You got one over there,” Chief Teague yelled, and the two giggled to themselves. The sight of Wolfie would not soon be forgotten. She was hot, sweaty, frazzled, and handling the very animal she loathed most. While goats were busily passing out up and down Main Street, Granby’s finest was on the job protecting the good citizens from these derelict goats.
“I’ve got another? What the hell, Chief? When did this become my job . . . and what the hell are you doing still standing there, Fox?”
Amber captured another small goat, which created a sensation of its own. Bill Parker rushed over to help, abandoning Wolfe.
“I’m directing traffic!” Fox shouted, still leaning against the cruiser. Wolfe’s shoulders fell.
“You piece of crap!”
“She’s talking to me,” Chief Teague said, struggling to keep his voice neutral. Again, he pointed to the goat. “Better hurry before she stands up again.”
“You know, wouldn’t it be great if criminals had this problem. We could just yell, ‘Stop, police. Don’t run or I’ll frighten you,’ and they’d drop like cement blocks?” Fox turned to Teague.
“I can’t get that goat by myself,” Wolfe yelled, looking around, hoping to get someone’s attention. “Shit, what do I care? Yeah, I’ll get that damned goat.” As she strode toward it, she drew out her pistol. Fox and Teague both pushed away from the cruiser but not before Chester was at a full run across the pump area.
“Oh, God, no! She’s my best goat!” The goat stirred. “She’s a menace to society, Chester,” Wolfe yelled back over her shoulder, already taking aim. The goat rolled up on to its side, ready to stand and make another brave move toward freedom. “Officer Wolfe!” Chief Teague pushed away from the cruiser and moved toward Wolfe. “I swear, Chief, I’ve hauled my last goat!” She put away her weapon as
Chester flung himself across the goat.
Alexandra Allred’s writing career began following a stint on the US women’s bobsled team. After being named “Athlete of the Year” by the United States Olympic Committee, she became an adventure writer. While writing for a variety of national publications, she test drove the Volvo Gravity Car, donned a dog attack suit, played professional women’s football, and even outran a beefalo mix (that’s a buffalo/cow mix to you city folk).
She turned to fiction writing using her rural Texas homestead as fodder for storytelling. When not writing, she lobbies for healthy children. Allred lives outside Dallas, Texas, with her husband, children, and a plethora of animals.