Archive for December, 2021

stormy lake superior 2

ebook only $1.99 – through February 28!

“(Northwoods Pulp Reloaded) Three intensely told stories capped off with a visceral crime novella, this is a seemingly easy escape read, but the writing is smart and deeper than expected, from high-stakes morality parables to and illicit adventures that quickly get out of hand. For any reader who has ever pointed their fortunes north and let their moral compass waver, or loves reading about well-crafted antiheroes, O’Neill’s collection is an intense but entertaining dive into another world.” – SPR review

“Hole in the World” 

I pick up a rock from the little decorator’s row beneath the front windows and peg it at the crow. Not even close. I walk over and he flies off towards the lake. Looking down the stone stairway I see a dock with a big boat covered by a blue tarp. Looks like a Boston Whaler with a high windshield and a small flying bridge, two big black and shiny Mercs on the stern. She’s lifted out of the water but I think she’ll probably go. Even got some downriggers if I feel like trolling. I go down the steps to the dock.

     Someone’s been using it this year already; everything is clean. I know boats. Worked on a fishing boat once, just outside of New Orleans. I was nineteen. Water splashes on my feet as I check her out. Feels warmer than my flesh. The prop looks okay. She’s got a nice electric winch set-up keeping her out of the water. I push the green button on the control box on the cedar post and Lucky Lady settles down nicely, just like a kiddy ride at the fair. I have to admire this guy’s set-up: protected little cove, nice little cliff-side abode and truly first class permanent dockage.

     Once she’s in the water and rocking I unzip the blue canvas cover and jump inside to the controls. Sure enough, the key is there.  I give it a turn. 




     I rip off the boat cover and fling it aside then dash to the stern in a frantic search for the battery. I find it in a covered storage area but the positive cable is unhooked. I put the clamp on the post but it’s loose as a whore’s pussy. 

     My fingers don’t work any more; they are hunks of dead wood.

     There’s got to be a wrench or pliers somewhere. Just calm down and think. 


     Slow down.


     In a corner of the storage area I spot a little gray plastic box with CRAFTSMEN stamped on top.

     Somehow I manage to tighten down that clamp. Somehow the engine fires up. Oh what a beautiful sound, exhaust spitting against the water. Somehow I unhook the moorings.

     Motoring slowly now I can feel the power of the lake building in my chest. Up ahead of me is some angry water. God how I don’t want to leave the safe harbor. God…. 

     There is no God. 

     Eight-foot waves crash against the jagged rocks, roaring like the angry ghosts of a thousand drowned souls. 

     Fear Daddy, fear. 

     God help me.

     There is no God. 

     I push the throttle down and tug at the dark green rain suit I found under the seat. If only there were some dry clothes or maybe a blanket. I keep it a little below half throttle and aim at the center of the breakers. Straight on into the wind. First big one we hit, there’s a heavy crunch and we rock. I’m thinking we’re in trouble, but we hang tight. I just aim it like a torpedo and hold on tight and up the throttle just a bit. Words cannot describe the bouncing, pounding, gut wrenching, bile raising kick of Gitchi Gummi. What does the name mean, Roy? Bad Fucking Lake? Lake that never gives up its dead?


I’m going to beat this lake, this fucking Gitchi Gummi. Been at it about an eternity already. The water seems calmer now. Maybe I’m in heaven. But no, it is calmer. I’m coming to something. The water is brown and muddy and the waves are only rollers now. I can throttle up a little more.

     When I first spot land, I feel like Christopher Columbus—or one of those guys. So what if it’s an ugly red clay shoreline with a raging snowstorm going on and everything is frozen but my gut—which burns like hell. It’s land, beautiful, marvelous land. I love land, don’t you?

     Two hundred yards from the shore the engines gasp and spit, then kick back in for another fifty yards before quitting for good.  The boat coasts forward for a moment then slowly turns about and starts drifting back from where it came.

     Drifting ever faster now. Inexorably returning to the middle of the raging, rocking death ride. Back to that lonely, indifferent place.

     I look over the side and see huge black serpents coiling and rolling in the dark water. I crank and crank on the starter but she won’t go. Gas gauge is stuck on the big E. As the shoreline slowly fades from view, there’s a rock in my gut. For an instant I’m ready to jump. Grab a life jacket and jump. But I never could swim much. And the water looks so cold. I’m sick of cold. What is it anyway? This cold? This wet? This lake? 

     Somewhere the sun is shining. But mighty Casey has struck out. 

     And now it’s too late. 

     I just need some sleep. All those drugs… Ginny… goddamn Stu…


     It’s starting to get going again out here. The black snakes are licking the sides of the boat now. Best thing to do is curl up under the dash and get some heavy rest. Just lie down and dream a little. Maybe, come first light, my daddy will be there waiting….

(End of Hole in the World. Buy ebook and read all four stories!)

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