Tales from the Crawdad Club: The China Set

by Jackson “Happy” Fohl My first wife, Lucretia, a capital woman, was crazy for saving money. She’d skip a meal for a chance at a five-dollar bank deposit. One time I watched her jump into a manure pile to fetch a nickel, then hoist it over her head like she’d discovered the Templar Treasure. Nothing wrong with swelling the nest egg against a rainy day, but an occasional omelet doesn’t hurt, neither. Lucretia would have been a miser if we could have afforded it. Soon after our wedding, her aunt gave her a china set worth thousands of dollars—a family… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio AWE BRA UPDATE: Is there a female in Sycamore Shadows who didn’t wear an Awe Bra while ringing in the new year last week? It seems hard to believe that in a town of 500 citizens (nearly half of them men, most of whom don’t need a bra) Hibb’s Dept. Store has sold 817 bras! Curly Dowd, long considered the town idiot (oaf and buffoon are popular as well), is now lauded as a genius. An anonymous source says Curly may finally gain admittance to the Crawdad Club. (Not while I have a vote.) Curly says his… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio AWE BRA UPDATE: Wilma Flair reports that she attempted to change the TV channel but grabbed her Awe Bra remote instead, with predictable results. Curly says that’s why he specified pink buttons on the Bramote, and that all a person has to do is look before they click. Beginning next year the Church of the Lost Sheep’s bulletin will feature a “Transgression of the Week” column, similar to Henry Barnes’s fondly remembered “Sin of the Week.” Church members will choose the sin by secret ballot and Minister Westminster will provide an appropriate scripture. The sin with the… Keep reading

Sotty Hoff’s Pub

By general agreement, Jackson “Happy” Fohl, the proprietor of Sotty Hoff’s Pub, is the best chef in town, probably the best chef in the universe. When folks who get paid to cook want to escape the kitchen and dine out, they go to Sotty’s, then shake their heads as they waddle away, wondering how Happy does it. Only my Aunt Ada refuses to eat there. She shuns all appearance of evil as a general principle and calls Sotty’s a “den of iniquity,” mostly because it’s dim, as if a person can’t do good works in the dark or sin in… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio AWE BRA UPDATE: Folks, it looks like plenty of people will find Awe Bras beneath their Christmas trees this year. According to Abigail Padden, even young girls several grades shy of needing them are adding Awe Bras to their Christmas list. And Curly? Since the money began pouring in he’s bought three coonhounds, two guns, a new tackle box, and has had his outboard motor rebuilt. Be careful, Curly. Such extravagance will come to no good. Nipper Keene says Greta Goblocks has cooties. If anyone doubts the power of no prayer, Abigail has just informed me that… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

The Fields of Boaz chapter of the Sisters of Ruth Cross-stitch Club will hold its annual meeting on Saturday, November 26th in the Chibble Apartments meeting room. Club president Adelphie Dowd encourages all prospective members to attend. “Let’s get to know each other while eating meatballs,” she says. Happy birthday, Otto Hopp! (Nov. 30) AWE BRA UPDATE: Police arrested two ladies at Hibb’s Department Store on Thursday after they began trading punches, knocking Miss Vivian to the floor. According to Sycamore Shadows police officer Duncan Penrose, the altercation began when both women tried to secure the only remaining Awe Bra… Keep reading


“Is there anything to do in Sycamore Shadows?” Jim asked. “More than you’ll fit into a weekend visit,” I assured him. “Most Saturdays, I write for a few hours, then have breakfast with Wilson Hahn. After that, I go fishing, if I don’t get sidetracked. I’ll grab a rod and head to the creek for a few hours. Some days I’ll row a boat out to Swooner’s Island and read or write while enjoying a cigar, or walk up Sanderling’s Run to the waterfall. If it’s hot, there’s no better place to cool yourself, and if you search under the… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio. The 13th annual “Guns for Kids” drive has begun. You may leave your monetary donation at Ballard’s Guns & Bibles, the Imaginactory, or the Church of the Lost Sheep (during worship hours only). Established by Joe and Amanda Ballard in 2004, the program has given rifles, shotguns, and handguns, along with ammunition and hearing protection, to 142 underprivileged children in Ohio and Pennsylvania. If you see Joe or Amanda, thank them for doing the Lord’s work. Otto Hopp has discontinued the Mourners Club. According to Hopp, the program fell victim to its success. Joe Pye of Joe Pye… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

AWE BRA UPDATE: If the word on the street (and in the boudoir) is any indication, Curly Dowd’s revolutionary Awe Bra promises to be the most sought-after product of the 2017 holiday season. Lloyd Lloyd Chalmers reports that a lady from Pittsburgh purchased five yesterday and promised to return with her niece. “It’s going to be the best Christmas ever at Hibb’s,” says Chalmers, who hopes to remodel the lingerie department next spring. Chalmers also wishes to announce a new line of inkjet-printable men’s underwear, though he regrets that he cannot help with questions about the accompanying software and advises… Keep reading


Nearly two-hundred men stood in a line stretching through the town, shuffling their feet, their arms crossed to keep warm, their breath visible in the October air as they awaited the signal. When the morning light touched them, those standing near Gideon Bowman felt nervous excitement as he raised his gun and fired, the sound echoing through the valley. They moved slowly, beating the brush, looking beneath deadfalls, in hollow trees, under sandstone outcroppings, each of them praying they would find Charity Gribble alive. Charity, the daughter of Septimus and Maria Gribble, had always loved to walk in the forest—in… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio. Several days ago John Bleau told me that he’s getting too old to appear shirtless in public and wants to be a pilgrim for this year’s Thanksgiving pageant. Yesterday, Herman Yoder informed me he would like to be an Indian. An Amish Indian and a Native American Pilgrim. Now, all we need is a duck to dress up as a turkey. AWE BRA UPDATE: Curly Dowd’s magnetic, electronic Awe Bras are now available for purchase at Hibb’s Dept. Store. According to reports, sales are brisk. Could Curly have stumbled onto a good idea after all these years?… Keep reading

Musca: a movie review

“I remember awakening in the dark along highway 48, miles from nowhere, confused and frightened, in the putrid innards of an opossum…” So begins the narration of one of the most haunting films of 2017, “Musca Marsupial: the story of a housefly,” now showing at the Utopia Theater. [Note: Flies do not have last names as we know them. Their surname reflects the location of their larval stage.] The film begins slowly, plodding its way through a brief and admittedly perfunctory overview of the early life of the fly. Once Musca emerges from his post-maggot peccadilloes, however, the film takes… Keep reading

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