Life in the Shadows


Ernie Stump says that from the way the pads on his headphones have worn, it’s obvious that his right ear is stiffer than his left ear. He wonders if he should see a specialist. Curly Dowd says he has the same problem and believes it’s from driving with the window down. “The left ear flaps in the wind, which loosens it,” Curly explains. “The right ear is inside the car, so it stays stiff. You’ll find the opposite in Great Britain.”

John Bleau says Curly Dowd is a liar.

Despite her degree, Allison Keene asks that people not call her “doctor.” She makes exceptions for this columnist and her grandmother.

Willie Fimple, Fimple Furniture and Appliance, says an unknown gentleman with “sinister eyebrows” entered his store last week wearing a black suit. According to Fimple, the man looked around for a moment, sent a text message, and then left the premises. Several minutes later, someone reported seeing him with a snow cone in his hand, driving a black sedan with tinted windows, possibly bearing government plates. Fimple believes the man was from the NSA and would like to know where he found a snow cone in January.

Edwina Dulcet reports that someone wrote a “dirty haiku” on the rear window of her car while she was visiting her sister. She warns everyone against parking on Rindle Street in Castor.

Word is that Milt Bubecker and Prya Lucinski have broken off their engagement after a disagreement over music at the wedding ceremony. “Call me a gynecologist if you want,” Bubecker says. “Women ain’t nothing but trouble.” I believe the word you meant was “misogynist,” Mr. Bubecker. Does anyone know these people? This had better not be a joke, Curly.

Musty Groves wants to know if formication is a mental illness. “No matter how hard I try,” he says, “I can’t stop doing it.” Throughout Sycamore Shadows, people are running for their dictionary.

Shady Glen reports that a woodpecker has destroyed his mailbox. “This is the third instance of woodpecker vandalism at the campground in a year,” he says, “and the town has done nothing to stop it.”

Ada Sanderling wishes to complain of the “provocative arrangement of fruits and vegetables” at Freese’s Grocery. Oliver Freese, grocer, says he intended no offense and that “Miss Sanderling is accustomed to seeing sin where others see produce.” According to Wilson Hahn, “If Ada thinks the fruit display is provocative, she should see my train layout.”

Amos Finch believes that the recent lunar eclipse has changed the speed with which bath water drains from his tub and wonders if anyone else has noticed the same. Does anyone remember a recent lunar eclipse? I don’t.

“When a man didn’t trim his ear hair for thirty years, what right does the undertaker have to do it?” Mabel Blanchard of Castor wishes to know. Otto Hopp apologizes and has given Mrs. Blanchard a free-embalming gift card. “I should have asked,” Hopp admits, “but it looked like a pair of horse tails were growing out of his head.”

Bill Burson says a simple ear-hair release form would prevent future problems.

[Image caption] (Lewis) Tucker Indian Chewing Gum, circa 1930. Found in the papers of Sycamore Shadows author and Tucker descendant, Robinson Hardy. Courtesy of the Museum of Sycamore Shadows.

This column first appeared in the E. Liverpool Review on Jan. 15, 2017.

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