John Sheppard

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John Sheppard served four years in the United States Army as an Illustrator (MOS 81E). He was honorably discharged after Gulf War I. He went on to receive an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Florida, where he studied under Padgett Powell, Marjorie Sandor and Harry Crews. He has worked as a grill cook, web site designer, junk mail writer, small town newspaper editor and civil servant. He lives in Chicago.

John Sheppard
1 Min Read

If you grew up in the Tampa Bay area in the 1970’s, as I did, we had our own version of Krusty the Clown: Doctor Paul Bearer, a chain-smoking cadaver with a glass-eye that pointed the wrong way (and nearly popped out of his head),…

John Sheppard
8 Min Read

Editor’s Note: This novel excerpt first appeared here March 11, 2012.

Picture this: A pair of jump-boots, spray-painted silver, tied together by the laces and tossed up to a power-line umbilicaled to my barracks. Short-timer!

After my honorable discharge, my DD-214 in hand, I walked outside the out-processing barracks and whooped and spun my class A jacket round my head.

Shit, yeah.

I wasn’t really happy. But sometimes you have to celebrate no matter how you feel.
An old-man colonel noticed me and tsked.

In the out-processing barracks, I was issued a new military ID, one identifying me as TDRL, so I wasn’t out of the Army. Not completely.

They wouldn’t bring me back. I would disappear, I’d decided–naively as it turned out. I threw away the plane ticket that would have jetted me back to my home of record, Sarasota, Florida, put on my civvies and walked off post, heading away from official Washington, and Fort Myer and the big depressing cemetery, down Columbia Pike, just another suburban street in suburban Virginia, my duffel bag slung over my shoulder.

Somewhere near Bailey’s Crossroads, a van honked at me and pulled over. I hopped in.