Smoking With Joshua Hampel

Read the Story September 15, 2005

Truly extraordinary ending. Wow! Wow! Is this a typical Hampel ending?

I would say that the story itself—driven by the conversation and the characters who are normal people that anyone can relate to—is a typical story of mine, the ending is one thing I can never control when I’m writing. I may have an idea of where the story is going but that doesn’t mean it’ll end up there. I don’t fight it, though, I let the story go where it wants to.

I think of that mom breaking down and that toilet he’s staring at and I think, man, you really nailed that moment. Was it hard to capture that scene in which a son finds out about a parent’s death?

It was after I heard that an old friend’s brother had passed away in a car accident, and my girlfriend and I were in a Mexican restaurant, that I thought about how I have never had anyone close to me die before. I wondered what it was like to get the sudden news that a loved one had died and how I would react. No matter how much I thought about it, I just had no idea. I wrote what I felt it would be like, hearing the news and coming to grips with what it meant. It wasn’t hard at all to write the scene, and capturing the moment in a way that anyone could relate to was just pure luck.

How do we do it? How do we get to a point when the “effects of these deaths are lost” and we become people “hungry for Mexican food”?

Time is the ultimate healer. With time comes acceptance and forgiveness; having never been through any major loss, though, I can only guess how we get to that point.

Hey, Josh. How about you?—are you okay, Babe?

Things could always be worse, huh?

What’s up in Wichita, Kansas. Go Jayhawks?

I was told to say: “Yeah, go Jayhawks,” as well as, “Hell no, go Shockers,” but honestly I don’t follow soccer so I really wouldn’t know which one to cheer for.

About the Author:

Joshua Hampel lives in Wichita, Kansas.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.