Slow Moving Dreams
Publication Year: 2011
Tom Hardy’s new novel, Slow Moving Dreams, tells the story of Tom Carter, a city man who is forced by the death of a cousin to return to his rural roots in West Texas. Hardy takes his readers along two journeys in this novel: the first is the physical journey that Tom takes as he drives to the funeral in Alpine, and the second is an exploration of Tom’s life as a child growing up in the country that the adult Tom is now passing through. But not all of those memories are happy ones, as Tom and his cousins soon find out. The funeral starts to unravel a dark secret that could change everything Tom thought he knew about his family.
Hardy breathes life into all of his characters with his witty dialogue and nostalgic memory sequences. Slow Moving Dreams is a story of homecoming and family bonds that, in this age of consumerism and technology, is a refreshing change of pace. For those familiar with the lifestyle of the modern cowboy, the life Tom Carter remembers is a reminder of the old days, when nature provided everything one could ever need. But all readers, new to the cowboy’s world or not, are in for a fun, heart-warming tale as they follow Tom’s exploration of his past and realizations about his future.
Published by: TCU Press
Title Page, Copyright page
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Table of Contents
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I’d like to thank the following friends, associates, and institutions for their help and assistance during the writing of this novel: Gary Rolls, Susan Grant, Ken McAllister, Judy Krohn, Norman Cosper, and Kim Worley. Their willingness to read multiple drafts, provide constructive comments, inspiration, and guidance was invaluable. My gratitude knows no bounds. ...
Chapter 1: 4:00 PM, Friday, November 17, 1961, Texas Panhandle
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There were three men and a boy in the car, cruising just below posted speed limits on a long, straight, almost flat highway in the Texas Panhandle country on a cold, overcast, blustery day. Winter had not fully taken hold yet, but it was always windy in this flat country, and the wind made it seem colder. During particularly strong gusts they could hear grains of sand speckling the...
Chapter 2: 6:30 AM, Saturday, October 2, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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The morning sun had not quite cleared the mountains when the man stepped onto the covered front porch of the small frame house. Blowing into a mug of coffee, he walked to the end of the porch and leaned against a support column. He sipped the hot coffee and stared out at a wide valley. To the left side of the valley as he looked out at it, a small town against impressive mountains was waking, electric lights glowing in ordered symmetry in the...
Chapter 3: 2:00 PM, Tuesday, October 5, 2004, Austin, Texas
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Thinking about my childhood in rural West Texas was not something I had ever really done much of. To begin with, I did not have the type of personality that would lead me to contemplate my navel and ponder introspectively about how my experiences growing up had shaped my grown-up outlook on life. Nor did I have much awareness of, or interest in, my family history. Having consciously decided to leave what had been...
Chapter 4: 10:00 AM, July 1958, Alpine, West Texas
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“Who wants to go first?” Son asked. At twelve, he was the oldest of the seven male cousins gathered on the hillside. Being the oldest gave him the authority to make the final decision. He was a slender kid, long limbed, brown hair cropped close, a straw cowboy hat on his head. “I do,” Charlie quickly spoke up. Charlie was Son’s youngest brother, ten that summer, the best athlete of the group and the usual champion of almost...
Chapter 5: 2:45 PM, Tuesday, October 5, 2004, Austin, Texas
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“Mrs. Robinson,” I said as I bounced into the outer office, “I’ve changed my mind. I am going to my cousin’s funeral. I’ll be back in time for the board meeting on Monday.” “Yes sir,” Mrs. Robinson smiled, making no attempt to conceal her pleasure at my having finally made what she considered to be the correct decision—no doubt because of her insistence. ...
Chapter 6: 4:00 PM, Wednesday, October 6, 2004, Texas Panhandle
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A man was filling portable gas cans from a large storage tank behind the barn. The tank sat on a welded frame six feet above the ground. Gravity was all that was required to drain gasoline from the storage tank into the cans which were sitting in the back of a pickup truck, but it was a slow process. The man waited patiently as each can was topped off, ten in all. Then he took...
Chapter 7: 9:00 AM, Thursday, October 7, 2004, Austin, Texas
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At nine o’clock on Thursday morning I pulled out of our driveway in my red Dodge Ram pickup truck, and headed for West Texas. The truck had been my middle-aged crazy present to myself. I did not realize at the time that it connected me back to my rural youth in West Texas. It just seemed more manly than the minivans and sports cars driven by the other executives...
Chapter 8: 8:30 AM, Monday, July 23, 1956, Alpine, West Texas
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“Wake up sleepy-head! Are you going to sleep all day?” My mother’s voice roused me from a deep and comforting sleep. “Is Daddy still here?” I asked as I rolled over to look sleepily at her. I loved to sit at the kitchen table with my father while he drank coffee in the morning before leaving for work. “No. He left almost an hour ago. Get up and I’ll fix you some breakfast.” Since my father was already gone I was in no hurry to get up. ...
Chapter 9: 10:00 AM, Thursday, October 7, 2004, Texas Panhandle
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The two men had been driving mile after empty mile for almost four hours and they were still in the vast Texas Panhandle—flat, almost featureless country except for windmills and telephone poles. They had risen before dawn, eaten breakfast, and left home just as the sun was coming up. They had been traveling in thoughtful silence. ...
Chapter 10: 11:00 AM, Thursday, October 7, 2004, Texas Hill Country
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My mind wandered back to the present as I drove through the small town of Junction. As I continued westward, steadily gaining altitude, the land began to change rapidly. I was now in the transitional area between the wetter Hill Country behind me, and the arid western part of the state still ahead. In the Austin area, as much as thirty inches of rain could fall in a year, but in the semi-arid regions of West Texas, total rainfall could be...
Chapter 11: 1:00 PM, Saturday, July 28, 1956, West Texas
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“Last one in the water is a rotten egg!” Charlie shouted as we began to emerge from Uncle Ray’s old Chevrolet in the parking lot of the Balmorhea State Park swimming pool. “Slow down. Slow down now,” Uncle Ray said. “Everyone grab something before you go. Everyone has to carry something.” He went to the rear of the car and opened the trunk. ...
Chapter 12: 4:00 PM, Thursday, October 7, 2004, West Texas
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I experienced an involuntary shiver as I remembered the day I had stared into the deep water abyss. The physical act of the shiver woke me up—so to speak—from my memories of the pool. I left the small West Texas oasis behind and turned south on State Highway 17 toward the Davis Mountains. The Davis Mountains were remnants of a vast volcanic field that at one time covered thousands of square miles in Texas and Northern Mexico. These rugged volcanic rocks gave the Davis Mountains a distinctive character, ...
Chapter 13: 5:30 PM, Thursday, October 7, 2004, Pecos, Texas
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The two travelers from the Panhandle were passing through Pecos, a small, dusty farming town. They had turned onto Interstate 10, the main east-west artery across Texas after finally getting out of the Panhandle, and followed it westward to Pecos. The freeway allowed them to avoid most of the town as it hurried on west to El Paso. Just outside Pecos, the two turned off the freeway onto a smaller state highway heading southwest toward...
Chapter 14: 6:00 PM, Thursday, October 7, 2004, West Texas
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The roar of a large diesel truck barreling by on the highway next to the roadside park startled me back to real time. Reluctantly leaving my memories, I pulled my truck back onto the highway and soon arrived in the small mountain town of Fort Davis. Fort Davis was another of the forts built to protect the stagecoach route and settlers from Indian raids, an effort that was mostly ineffective. In addition to the Comanches, the Mescalero...
Chapter 15: 10:00 PM, Thursday, October 7, 2004, Davis Mountains, West Texas
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The two travelers were tired and looking for a place to stop and sleep. “How about that little roadside park we just passed?” the older man, who was still riding passenger, said as he noticed a small park on the edge of their headlights’ illumination. “It looked like it had several campsites. Maybe one of them will be isolated some.” “Good idea,” the driver said as he braked. They pulled off the road and made a U-turn, then drove back to the small park. There was no other traffic...
Chapter 16: 8:00 AM, Friday, October 8, 2004, West Texas
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“Tom, I’m starting to get really concerned. The protest by the OB/GYN physicians seems to be gathering support,” was the recorded warning from Robert Blake. Before pulling out of the Indian Lodge parking lot Friday morning, I had used my cell phone to check voice mail at the hospital in Austin. Blake’s message continued, “I’m getting requests from more and more doctors in the department wanting to attend the meeting to support...
Chapter 17: 11:00 AM, Friday, October 8, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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“Hello Cuz!” the man slapping me on the back said cheerfully as he sat down next to me. “Man it’s good to see you, even under these circumstances.” It was Billy Rex. He was approaching fifty now, a successful banker in a small Hill Country town. His thin blond hair was turning gray. He still wore the thick eyeglasses he’d worn most of his life, and at five foot ten, Billy Rex was showing some middle-aged banker’s thickening. He was now...
Chapter 18: 5:00 PM, Friday, October 8, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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After dropping Billy Rex off at his car, I was suddenly lonely. Going nowhere in particular, I drove west toward Twin Peaks. After a few minutes of allowing my mind to simply follow my hood ornament down the street, I glanced off to the right, and several tall metal poles supporting banks of lights towering above the one-story houses captured my attention. It was the high school football stadium, and I turned my truck toward it out of...
Chapter 19: 6:30 AM, Saturday, October 9, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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The sun coming up over the mountains to the east roused us from the pickup bed. After changing the flat tire and driving into Alpine, Pecos, Pudgie, and I ate breakfast at a truck stop on the edge of town. We then went back to the football field house where I showered and changed for the funeral service. I had agreed to meet Billy Rex at the church. He and I both arrived at the First Baptist Church a few minutes before one o’clock and parked across...
Chapter 20: 2:00 PM, Saturday, October 9, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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My original plan had been to visit with relatives at the Cable house after the funeral. Good manners in West Texas dictated that, after a funeral, friends and family congregate at the bereaved’s home to commiserate, visit, and eat a meal if the timing were appropriate. To not do so would be a breach of etiquette. I had figured I would visit for only long enough to be considered socially acceptable, then leave and drive back to Austin, stopping...
Chapter 21: 5:00 PM, Saturday, October 9, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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I drove back to the church so that Billy Rex could retrieve his car, and he followed me to the hotel on Holland Avenue, in the center of town. The hotel took up most of an entire block on the north side of the street. It was a three-story building—the first floor was brick, and the two upper floors were stucco facade. A portico roof supported by two large columns extended from above the front entrance, covering the sidewalk to the street. ...
Chapter 22: 8:00 PM, Saturday, October 9, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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The Casa Blanca was a combination Mexican restaurant, bar, and dance hall. An Alpine landmark, it was frequented by an eclectic mix of cowboys, college students, and townspeople. It was generally referred to simply as the Casa. The restaurant was located one block south of the railroad tracks that divided the town, in a sort of cultural neutral zone. Alpine was split in half by the railroad in more ways than just geographically. North of the tracks...
Chapter 23:1:00 AM, Sunday, October 10, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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The drive from the Casa back to the Holland Hotel was less than ten city blocks, back across the railroad tracks and down Holland Avenue, and only took a few moments. Charlie, Robert Earl, Billy Rex, and I arrived back at the hotel almost simultaneously and walked from the parking lot to the front entrance of the hotel together. It was well after midnight, and we appeared to be the last people in Alpine still awake and about. ...
Chapter 24: 8:00 AM, Sunday, October 10, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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Having slept little, when my Sunday morning wakeup call startled me awake I felt as if I had not been to bed at all. After grudgingly arising, showering, shaving, and packing, I trudged down the stairs, still half asleep, in the same trousers I had worn the previous evening, a hunter green knit golf shirt, and cross-trainer athletic shoes. I stopped on the second floor to pay my bill, and then went downstairs to the restaurant. We had agreed to...
Chapter 25: 9:00 AM, Sunday, October 10, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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Before I got to my truck, the pager on my belt erupted in shrill repetitive beeps. Looking at the tiny screen, I saw that the call originated from Robert Blake’s home number in Austin. I toyed with the idea of ignoring the call, but curiosity and habit were too strong. I dialed Blake’s home number on my cell phone as we all pulled out from the cemetery in a caravan. Charlie led, Billy Rex next, then Robert Earl, and I brought up the rear. ...
Chapter 26: 12:00 PM, Sunday, October 10, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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“Daddy drove most of the morning that day. I sat up front with him, but we didn’t talk much. Daddy was mad at me and I was afraid to ask any questions, so I just sat and watched the country go by. It was cold and windy, and most of the plants were bare, so there was not much to look at. The farther we got from Alpine the flatter the country got. It would have been depressing even if I wasn’t already...
Chapter 27: 12:00 PM, Sunday, October 10, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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Starlene paused in her reading. I let out a long breath, discovering that I had been holding it in. No one at the table had said a word since she began. We were all thunderstruck by what we were hearing. “Jesus Christ!” Billy Rex exclaimed. “I’m almost afraid to hear the rest of this.” “I never had any idea that any of this happened,” Robert Earl shuddered. “I’m afraid of what’s coming.” Charlie voiced all our fears. “But let’s hear...
Chapter 28: 4:00 PM, Sunday, October 10, 2004, Alpine, West Texas
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After the two intruders had gone, we stood looking into the fireplace, silent as we watched the leather whip burn to an unrecognizable lump of charcoal. I tried to take stock of my feelings. The first realization was that I felt ashamed. I was ashamed of feelings I had had about my father—of thinking that he had somehow done less than he should have about the abuse he and his siblings had endured. At the same time there was a feeling...
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About the Author
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Tom Hardy is a native Texan, the son of a father who left home at thirteen to become a working cowboy and a mother of Cherokee lineage. He was born and raised in Fort Stockton and Alpine in far West Texas. He attended Sam Houston State University on an athletic scholarship and majored in business administration. After ten years as a teacher and coach...
Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2011