Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Twenty

Yet another chapter of my continuing blog fiction...

by John L. Harmon

Chapter Twenty

    Two questions hang in Stickler Woods unsatisfactorily unanswered.  “What yearbook?” from Clyde and “Seriously, who is Old Man Stickler?” from Christine.  Samuel, nudging up his black frames and holding the equally black gadget, simply suggests they walk while they talk.

    Sheriff Benjamin Straker, for the sake of the out-of-county scientific duo leading the way, begins with who is Old Man Stickler.  He explains that the Stickler clan was one of the first settlers in the area.  The fact they settled in these woods barely needs touching upon, but Ben doesn’t want to neglect this information.  While he cannot run through the extensive and wealthy Stickler family tree, he can name the last known branch.

    “Eugene Raymond Stickler.”

    “Our local boogeyman,” Clyde interjects his previously stated opinion in a disgruntled tone, “that no one has seen hide nor hair of in decades.”

    Ben, admitting he never really paid attention to the outlandish stories concerning Old Man Stickler, gives what possible facts he knows.  That Eugene Stickler was a genius in his youth.  That after losing his parents in a car accident, Eugene Stickler spent less and less time in town and more time in his home in the woods.  And that Clyde is right; no one has seen Eugene Stickler in at least two decades.

    “Probably dead,” Christine theorizes practically.

    “Hopefully dead,” Clyde states, giving his childhood fears a voice.

    The Chief Deputy goes on to explain how parents and other authority figures use Old Man Stickler as a warning to make children behave.  He purposely neglects any personal insight into such trauma.  There doesn’t seem to be any point of dredging up his drunken father’s threat of Old Man Stickler will get you, boy, or how then young Clyde would be forced to listen to precisely what Old Man Stickler would do to a short, chubby brat like him.

    “As far as I know, there has never been an official death report,” Ben mentions, unaware of Clyde’s childhood emotional abuse, “which means Eugene Stickler may still be alive.”

    After a few feet of silent contemplation, Clyde asks about the yearbook again.  Ben describes the empty house of Lawrence.  Empty, except for an old yearbook and the note to Ben.  Then the Sheriff explains how he flipped through the pages last night and saw a spread about that year’s science fair, and how first prize was awarded to Eugene Raymond Stickler.

    “What was his project?” Samuel inquires, curiosity peaked.

    “According to the yearbook, he physically changed the color of a sturgeon.”

    The scientific duo stop dead in their tracks and turn, nearly causing a bodily crash with the law enforcement duo.  Nothing is said as the four stand, facing one another, digesting this odd piece of information.

    Suddenly, and quite loudly, Ben’s cell rings, making them all jump.
Click CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,



  1. Twisted crime and mystery... a cozy read for cold winter nights. Like the 'cliff hangers' at the end...(no spoilers!)