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

Life in the Shadows

SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio. It is with a sorrowful heart and fond hopes of an estate sale that I announce the death of Miss Helen Fetters, former school teacher and operator of Miss Fetters’ House for Respectable Young Females, who “crossed the Little Rindle” yesterday evening at age 92. She was born in Castor, Pennsylvania on April 28, 1925, the daughter of Hans and the former Fallopia Wertemberger. Miss Fetters never married. Friends may visit the Angel’s Rest Funeral Home tomorrow evening from 6-7.  Minister Westminster of the Church of the Lost Sheep will conduct the funeral service at 10 a.m.… Keep reading

Pirate Prosthetics

Sycamore Shadows’ peg-legged postman, Andrew Bollman, recently gave a short talk on the history of pirate prosthetics and has graciously allowed me to print this excerpt: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, though written as a novel, was the most influential pirate manual ever published, and a great influence on pirate marketing. Before publication of Stevenson’s immortal story, pirates had plied the seas with an imperfect idea of how a proper pirate should act. Accustomed to simply sail, drink, and plunder, most buccaneers remained unaware of the rich potential of pirate life. Had Stevenson done nothing but give pirates their parrots,… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Mayor Chibble says that if someone doesn’t start shooting pigeons soon, it’s going to be 1994 all over again. Charlie Sternwiesse, Sycamore Savings Bank, saw a hamster walking down the sidewalk on Sycamore Street and advises owners of small rodents to check cages. Willie Fimple would like some help lugging an old washer from the basement. Monica Horn asks if it’s true that children conceived during a total eclipse will be albinos. I take it you and Buck missed the astronomical event of the year, Monica? Curly Dowd wishes to announce that production has begun on his magnetic, remote-controlled, electronic bra.… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Greta Goblocks cautions parents not to avoid uncomfortable questions posed by children. Last week, Wooly asked her to explain the world’s oldest profession. Mrs. Goblocks answered that it simply referred to a “woman who labors in the dark.” Two days later, Wooly announced to everyone at the Wednesday evening bible study that his cousin, who works the night shift at a bowling alley in Castor, was a hooker. Kitty Parr would like to remind the public that Castaway Books does not sell self-help books. According to Kitty, “The only people such trash has ever helped are the authors and publishers.”… Keep reading

Musty and the Water Nymph

Sitting in our favorite chairs at the Crawdad Club last evening, Wilson Hahn and I had just begun an interesting discussion of the merits of slate for gravestone carving when Musty Groves burst into the room and collapsed into the chair beside us. “Bring me a Scotch,” he groaned to Wetherbury, our ever-present club attendant. “Is something wrong?” I asked, somewhat concerned. Musty answered with a wave of dismissal. Only after we had watched him finish the first drink and order a second did he began to speak. Wilson and I listened with rapt attention. Like most antique dealers, Musty… Keep reading

Life in the Shadows

Image: Recent photo of the ellipsis mound group, courtesy of the Kentunhe Hill/Ellipsis Mound Group Regional Historical Site. (You may also notice the tracks from Curly Dowd’s four-wheeler, even though he’s not supposed to ride it in the historic area.) SYCAMORE SHADOWS, Ohio. Curly Dowd says that while deer hunting last week he shot at a buck with a pair of men’s underwear—boxers with the Milwaukee Brewers logo—wrapped around its antlers. He cannot imagine a scenario in which such a thing could happen. Nippy Keene says perhaps the deer walked through a yard and ventured too close to a clothesline,… Keep reading

Clarence and the Bearded Lady

Clarence Rinehart, president of the Toby Tyler Circus Collectors Club of Castor and Environs, enjoyed a weakness for slim women and big tops, so it surprised no one when he hopped onto the circus train after falling for the bearded lady, leaving his wife and young son in the Shadows. Tatiana Myshkin was her name, but she billed herself as “Tatty, the Bearded Queen of Sensual Delight,” which should have been warning enough. Maybe the title was only marketing; maybe not. Sensual delight is fine and a body’s bound to have a booming good time for a few hundred miles… Keep reading

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