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I got this package in the mail from my dad: brown paper wrapping, large but flat, with the word “FRAGILE” written on it in black ink. When I unwrapped it, it was this big, acrylic painting, framed in some sort of bronze-gilded plaster.

The painting itself was of this long hallway full of doors, kind of like you’d see in a fancy hotel. The walls had edging about halfway up, the upper part was painted sort of an off white while the lower half was a crimson red that blended into the carpeting. Between each door was an up-turned light, as well as on the far wall at the end, where the corridor seemed to connect to another hallway running perpendicular to it, disappearing around a corner. Read More »


My father has always been somewhat eccentric, prone to tall tales of his childhood, keeping collections of old knickknacks and assorted antiquities he’d find at auction, and strict adherence to bizarre house rules. Growing up in his home, the same home he grew up in, that was passed down from generation to generation, took a lot of willpower. He would say it “built a lot of character.” My mom would always say he was a character.

So it came as no surprise to me when a friend in the area called to let me know my dad had caught a case of pneumonia after they’d found him wandering around during the season’s heaviest snowfall in just an old pair of jeans and a wife beater. Since my mother had passed away, his bizarre behavior had grown increasingly erratic.

Some good Samaritans offered to drop in once or twice a day, but I didn’t want them to have to deal with my his idiosyncrasies, so I drove up to the old homestead to nurse him back to health myself. I hadn’t been back to that house since I’d finished school back in 1998. It had always been a point of contention between us, but I just never felt comfortable there.

When I arrived, my father was curled up on the couch in the living room, wrapped in blankets and watching old episodes of The Woodwright Shop on the same TV he’d had for thirty years. I gave him a hug which he mostly ignored in favor of sipping at a cup of tea.

“It’s good to see you, Dad.”

“You know, it shouldn’t take me catching pneumonia to get you to come visit,” he grunted.

“How’d you end up with no shoes in the middle of a snowstorm?”

He stared at the television, trying to ignore me.

“What were you doing out there, Dad?”

“If you’re going to stay, make sure you follow the rules. You remember the rules, don’cha?”

I sighed. “Yes, Sir.”

“So let’s hear them.”

“Don’t touch the thermostat. Don’t leave lights on in rooms you aren’t occupying. Replace any food you take from the fridge.”

“And stay out of the basement.”

The basement.

“Because of the Jack Monster,” I said.

My father nodded and sipped his tea. Read More »


As a doctor, I’m bound by doctor-patient privilege to not disclose the specifics of what I’m about to tell you. But as a human being, I feel compelled to share. This is, without a doubt, the most horrific story I’ve ever had the displeasure of being a part of.

It was 2009, and my schedule that day was light. I was just finishing up my lunch when I got a call from a friend and colleague who had his own practice in the same building as me. Sometimes we would send work each other’s way when we knew the other could use it. I was a bit elated at the prospect of him calling me because I had just been going over my books and stressing a bit.

“Are you busy right now? I’d like to send someone up to you,” he said. Read More »


I saw something back in 1990 that has haunted me ever since.

We were a boy scout troop of sixteen boys between the ages of 13 and 17, going on a two-day hike along a trail that ran sixty miles from Richmond to Marion in Indiana. Three adults supervised us the entire way. They gathered us up on the north side of town one Friday after school in late September, checked our supplies and gear, then off we marched.

Most of the journey that evening followed an old, abandoned railroad track through farmers’ fields. We managed to reach a small bit of forested area just before it got dark, and we pitched tents there, gathered wood for a fire and had our meals. After we ate, the grown-ups got out a couple bags of marshmallows to roast and we all sat around the fire where people had a chance to tell ghost stories. Read More »


The door chimes as a punk-looking teenager takes a peek inside. He’s got a stripe of green in his hair, a skateboard under his arm and the words, “MAGNUM OPIATE” splashed across his shirt. I suspect it’s the name of some shitty band.

“Are you open?”

“Yeah, but don’t try anything.”

Behind him, a burning man stumbles down the sidewalk, waving his arms frantically. Nobody stops to help put him out. Normally, I would, but considering the riots and chaos going on today, I can’t really take the chance and leave the store unattended, even for a moment. I already had to pull the metal blinds down when a pair of girls in school uniforms threw a concrete block through one of the windows. I’d spent the next hour cleaning up glass.

“Pack of Newports?” says the punk.

“I’m going to need to see some ID.”

“Seriously? Come on, man, give me a break.” Read More »

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