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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. 

     Nothing. 

     Again. 

     Nothing.

     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. 

     Look. 

     Slow down.

     Goddamsonofabitch.

     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…

     Roy. 

     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!)

ebook only $1.99 – through February 28!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

 

 

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blizzard 1

ebook only 99 cents – through December 31!

“(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” 

     Then they stop dead in their tracks as they come upon the two bodies and the occasional snowbound Treasury note. I jump up and cut loose. Hit the one with the rifle and he goes down screaming and writhing, starts crawling toward the ditch. He doesn’t make it; bullets travel faster than flesh. The other prick is moving fast down the road now and I do the same—in the opposite direction. 

     It’s the name game. 

     A little later, adrenaline wearing off, I notice how cold I am. Terrible cold. Terrible wet. Teeth chattering. Heavy duty shivers. Toes stinging.

     Got to keep moving and thumping. My eyes sting so bad I can’t look into the wind anymore so I have to walk backwards. It’s hard to breathe, there’s so much snow in the air. And where’s Roy? No one drives by and I know this is a good thing, given the carnage on the road behind me, but still I crave for the sight of headlights or maybe someone on a snowmobile. Those things must be all over up here….

                                          

I don’t have a clue how long I’ve been out here. I am crawling on my hands and knees now, head bent down to the slushy, heavy snow. My knees sting terribly and my toes are numb. Thankful for the wool socks I bought at the Holiday station. Sometimes I try to stand up but the weight of it all pushes me back down. Only money left is what I could stuff in my jacket and pants, plastic bag long since jettisoned. I think the cash keeps me warmer but it seems so heavy. I realize I can’t go any farther without a rest. I stop and wrap myself up in a ball on the side of the road, my back turned to the wind. I’m so sleepy… maybe if I close my eyes for a while… Where’s Roy? 

     I jerk awake to a fierce growling. It’s coming from another world. But then it’s the same world and there’s a large wolf standing about six feet away from me. Blood and gore and bits of blue cloth are stuck to the sides of its toothy snout. A beautiful creature, coat full and gray, almost white.

     “Go away, or I’ll kill you,” I say, reaching in my jacket for the pistol. I can barely hear my voice. Then something in the animal’s posture makes me stop. He growls again, showing me his impressive teeth.

     “FUCK YOUUUUU,” I yell, fear stoking the last bits of adrenaline I have left.

     Seems like it almost laughs at me. I watch it trot by, up the side of the road and into the forest.

     I stuff the Glock in my jacket pocket and something gets me up and moving. Isn’t too long before I’m walking downhill. Now I can actually see a few yards ahead through the blow. I’m nearing the lake, on the final downgrade. I’m feeling giddy, home free, almost warm. But there’s ice on the legs of my jeans and my ears are on fire and I haven’t felt my feet in a while.

     The closer I get to the lake the more numb I become. I keep on moving. No sign of an automobile anywhere. I keep my hands over my face, pinching and twisting the flesh in an attempt to get the blood flowing. The road is just as impassible down here but the snow is slushier and the pelting from the black sky is wetter. I’m soaked everywhere except under the leather jacket. It’s funny, because I’m getting hot underneath there now. My thin leather gloves soaked through long ago. I’m praying to whatever god or spirit or deity that might listen. And what about Roy? He’ll probably be coming right along in the Cadillac, all warm and dry, some good tunes pumping out of the radio; not that crazy, goddamn “Name Game” shit. Shiver, Shiver, bo pivver, banana fana fo fivver… ah, Jesus. I regret the day I ever met that crazy bastard Roy Hollinday.  He’ll be the death of me yet. Ha Ha. You like that? Be the death of me yet. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha…. 

                                          

Finally at the highway that will lead me back to hell, a.k.a. Superior, Wisconsin. There’s an ungodly roar coming off the big lake and the stuff coming out of the sky has the texture of bird shit. I’m thinking maybe I should hitchhike. There’s been someone through here; I see drifted-over ruts in the road. They’d probably try and take me to a hospital or something. I think my face is bleeding. I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Or one stump in front of another, come some sunny day if the creeks don’t rise. Roy is due any minute now…

     You ever heard the sound of a crow on a mild spring day and thought to yourself what a nice sound it is?  How things seem more right with the world when there’s a crow up in a tree cawing down at you? That’s the feeling I’m getting from this big black sonofabitch up in that tree across the road. He’s about fifty yards down and making the sweetest sound. It’s sure not a nice day but the wall of pine trees provides some protection from the wind. Big crow’s perched up there ruffling his feathers and flexing his wings.

     Now I’m thinking I should take my jacket off and go after that crow. It’s all of a sudden so nice and warm here. But that can’t be right. Something wrong with my head, I guess. Maybe the crow can explain all this….

     I get near the tree and the crow takes off, spreads his shining wings and flies down another twenty-five yards or so and lands on top of a mailbox. I go after it again. Maybe I can throw salt on its tail, there’s so much of it lying on the ground now.

     A mailbox? 

     A driveway?

     Looking down the drive, I see the corner of a house around the bend. A big warm house on a cliff overlooking the lake and there’s a light on above the door.

     I’m so thankful when I knock on the metal storm door. I’m saved. A little porthole in the door opens up and I see the face of my savior, a decent looking broad of about forty. 

      She takes one look at me, slams the door and starts screaming her lungs out. I hear her yell, “Call the sheriff, Steve,” behind the thick door. Then I hear a crow making a sound remarkably like the yuppie bitch’s yelling, turn my head and see the bird perched on a cedar railing that runs alongside a stone stairway leading down to the shore of raging Lake Superior. 

(To be continued)

ebook only 99 cents – through December 31!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

 

 

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