Short Story: There’s a Hole

There’s a hole in the swamp where you can toss anything and it’s gone forever. Most people know about it and have used it one time or another. It’s behind Clarke’s Bait Shop on the levee road right before you get to the turnoff for LA 96. You’ve been there. We used to go as kids.

Behind Clarke’s the ground slopes down into the swamp and the soil begins to turn to mud. That’s where the hole is, about 15 feet in diameter, near the water. Even on a sunny day if you look into it there’s nothing but blackness – as black as you can imagine. Blacker than black. We used to throw rocks into the pit and listen. We never did hear them hit the bottom.

A while back they say Martin Theriot threw his wife down there. She went missing. Never was found. Some say she moved in with her mother in Shreveport, but no one’s seen her, even Dr. Kyle who goes to Shreveport on the regular. He said he even knocked on her mother’s door once and no one answered. She’s in that pit – in that hole. Still never hit the bottom, I’d bet.

But mostly people throw trash in there. The dump only takes construction waste and no one wants you dumping trash on their property. They used to do that in the old days, before they found the hole, I think. I don’t know. Maybe it’s been there forever. Anyhow things like paint buckets and big pieces of furniture and mattresses are a pain to leave out for the trash trucks. You’ve got to put them out on certain days and who can keep track of which day. If you miss it you’ve got a mattress sitting out in front of your house, junking up the curb, probably getting wet. It’s a lot easier to just toss those things in the hole.

Or at least it was. Last weekend Joel Lang was walking the levee with his dog. I don’t know what happened – a squirrel or something caught the dog’s attention and next thing you know it’s down the hole. Joel just moved here last year. He doesn’t know anything so he called to the dog. He got some treats and hung over the edge. Next thing you know there goes Joel.

Now they’ve put up barricades all over behind Clarke’s Bait Shop. No one can get near it. There’s a backhoe and some other equipment. All week they’ve been trying to fill the hole in but of course the dirt goes in and it’s gone forever. I heard the plan now is to put plywood sheets on top then cover those with two feet of dirt. That way no one can fall in. Of course if you need to get rid of anything you’ll be out of luck. The trash trucks come on Monday but next week is a holiday. Anything you put out is gonna be there a while. 

Short Story: My Father’s Face

When my father was dying of cancer, he told me he was at peace with it. He sat most days in the sunroom, surrounded by his books and plants. He said at age 84, he’d seen enough – not that he was satisfied, but it was enough. It wasn’t enough for me.

I went to see the Rabbi because I had an idea. We’d always been told the library under the synagogue held many old texts. Books about anything you could imagine. Secrets. Old secrets. I asked the Rabbi if anyone had searched the texts for cures. Of course they had, he said, but I was welcome to go see for myself. He was humoring me. I knew it, but I didn’t care, so I went down the dusty stairs and looked.

It wasn’t a library so much as a storeroom. It took up the entire basement beneath the synagogue chambers – the main worship room and all the side vestibules – everything. Books were over-stacked on shelves, piled onto large tables and piled underneath too. If there was a system of organization, it had been long abandoned. There was no order, only books, which made it even more exciting. Anything was possible.

I looked around for medical texts, religious texts, anything that caught my eye. I found a few that looked interesting. I carved out a small space where I could sit and thumb through them but on that first night I didn’t find anything.

When I got home my father was still in the sunroom, staring at the stars. It was a cold night, but it was clear and you could see the tip of the Milky Way.

“What were you doing so late?”



“I was looking for a cure for you, in the sacred texts. I was at the synagogue.”

He smiled. He was always happy when I went to the temple for any reason. He didn’t seem to mind it was on a fool’s errand. He seemed agnostic toward my reasons. He put his hand on mine and looked back to the sky. I looked too. It was obvious that’s what he wanted.

The next few evenings I went back to the library and on the fifth night I found something. It wasn’t a book but a door. It was hidden behind stacks of books which I’d cleared in a half-hearted attempt to organize those I’d already inspected. I pushed the door open and a stairway led down, into darkness. Of course I went down those steps! If a secret stairwell in a dusty library under a synagogue doesn’t beckon you then you’re probably not worth saving.

After some time there was a light and I followed it down a narrow hallway to a small room. A candle was burning and there was a stone pedestal. There were books all around but there was one sitting open on the stand. It was a medical journal. It took some time but I found the cure for the kind of cancer my father had. It was his pancreas, if I didn’t mention it already. I ran out, excited but also dubious. What were the chances that I would find my answer – and so soon?

Unfortunately, the M7 bus waits for no news. I’d missed the last of the night and it was over 30 blocks home now. I could cut over to the subway but despite the cold I decided to hoof it. When I got home my father was asleep.

The next morning I found him in his sunroom. I told him I’d found a cure but he didn’t seem to care. His alocasias needed water. After lunch I went to him again but this time he was napping. The afternoon sun lit the side of his face. White stubble was there if you looked close, but from the doorway he looked young. I remember when my mother was still alive, not that long ago. When the sun hit the room like this they’d dance in it. Then my father would threaten to put on a record and my mother would shoo him away. It was like that with those two. Now my father lay still. I’d try him again, but for now I’d let him sleep. What was the hurry?

The Patriots: A Dungeon Crawl set after the American Revolution

In the midst of the American Revolutionary War, as George Washington and his men sought refuge from the British in the wilds of the Allegeny Mountains, they began to hear stories of an ancient underground city. Built by the ancestors of the Susquehannock, Shawnee, and Iroquois, this network of chambers was once populated by tens of thousands of native people until they were run out by “the sickness of the land.”

Desperate for supplies and any advantage, Washington detached a contingent of men, along with their Indian guides, to find an entrance to this underground network. Only one man returned, reporting “the depths of those dark chambers were filled with nothing but witchery, and the monsters and demons of ancient evil.” In 1790, Washington, now the first president of the United States, was once again desperate for resources, this time to run his fledgling American government. In a letter to Ben Franklin, Washington wrote “I do not know what riches we may find in those primeval depths, but we cannot build this nation until we have cleared these lands of danger. The foundation must hold.” Washington assembled an eclectic group of soldiers and mystics to once again locate and explore this underground network, rid it of any dangers to the Republic, retrieve valuable items, and seal the place up forever.

What they found was both surprising and more deadly than anyone had imagined.