Lucy and the Basement


“I can’t find Rudy!” Lucy whined.

“Where’d you leave him?” I asked, barely paying attention.

“Right here!”

“Well is he there?”

“No, but…”

“Then you didn’t leave him there, Luce.”


“Go look for Rudy, hon. Your Dad’s busy.”

Lucy sulked out of the room. I wondered if it’d be a “good dad” thing to help her look, but I figured at some point the kid would have to learn not to leave her things laying around. Self reliance and all that. Like Thoreau talked about, but with more indoor plumbing.

“Found him!” Lucy shrieked from somewhere upstairs.

“Atta girl,” I called back. “Now c’mon down and finish Moana, then we’ll have some dinner.

“I don’t like Moana!” Lucy pouted. “She’s boring.”

“How do you know that if you’ve only seen the first twenty minutes?”

“I just do.”

Lucy stomped down the stairs with Rudy under her arm. I glanced at him. He definitely needed to go through the washing machine. Lucy’s a sleep drooler, just like her mom was. In the time Lucy’d had him, he’d built up quite a rind.

“I think it’s time Rudy gets a bath, Luce.”

She held him at arm’s length, studying him.

“No,” she declared. “He’s fine.”

“Bring him over and let me sniff.”

Lucy rolled her eyes and walked over. I still didn’t know where she learned that. I figured she’d be at least twelve before the eye-rolling phase. Lucky me.

I took Rudy and put him under my nose. He reeked.

“Yeah, no, sorry hon, he’s going in the washing machine. C’mon, let’s go downstairs.”

Lucy’s face darkened.

Continue reading “Lucy and the Basement”

A Boy Scout’s Secret


I’d spoken to Nate’s psychologist about the times he’d claim to speak with the ghost of his dead father. The doctor would nod his head and say my son had hold him the same thing.

“Just part of the grieving process, Mrs. Hammond. These things take time. But thank you for bringing it to my attention. I never want you to feel like any detail is too small or unimportant to tell me. If Nate feels like he needs to imagine his father and relive some of their moments together in his own context, you should let him.”

It all made sense to me, but it seemed to happen a whole lot. One morning over breakfast, about a year after his father’s death, Nate told me about how he’d been speaking with him just a few minutes before he’d come downstairs.

“What did he tell you?” I asked, mentally taking notes I’d be sharing with his shrink.

“Just the normal stuff,” Nate replied. “Advice and all that.”

“What kind of advice?”

Nate paused. “Things he’d tell me when he was, you know, still with us.”

He started to get teary eyed. I followed suit.

“He talked about Boy Scout stuff.”

I grinned. Ted had been a beloved scout leader for as long as I’d known him. He got along so well with those kids. All kids, really. He had a way about him that was both disarming and assertive – qualities I’ve found all the best teachers have.

“What kind of scout stuff, Nate?”

Nate shook his head. “He didn’t want me to say too much. He said you might get mad.”

Continue reading “A Boy Scout’s Secret”

All horror stories about dolls are fake.


I just want to take a moment and give special thanks to my daughter’s “friend,” Laurie.

Hi Laurie. Thanks. Seriously. Because of you, Jenny refused to sleep with her dolls. That includes the stuffed animals she loved intensely until you had to make up all those stories. That’s right, Laurie. You made a fellow six-year-old too afraid to sleep with any of them.

You’re a terrible little girl.

Not long ago, Jenny told me that Laurie had been making up horror stories about dolls. I didn’t think much of it. There’s a lot of creepy dolls out there, and even at the kids’ age, they’re more than likely going to encounter some of them in the TV shows they watch. It was fine. Whatever.

What pissed me off was when I found out Laurie was making things up about the American Girl ones that Jenny has. She’d tell her stuff like, “Samantha is going to eat your cat” and “Addy wants to kill your dad” and, the one that really got me angry, “Kirsten made your little brother sick and that’s why he died.”

First of all, I don’t know why Laurie’s mother would’ve told her about Michael’s death. That happened four years ago. I was hoping Jenny had been too young to remember the worst of it.

Well, she did. And does. Thanks to Laurie.

After that, Jenny came to me and said she didn’t want any of the dolls in her room. Continue reading “All horror stories about dolls are fake.”

Are My Twins Spending Too Much Time Together?


This account was found in a data dump of the now-offline website, It was a site dedicated to alternative medicine and natural treatments of illnesses. Its content was marked by an explicit distrust of modern medical science, claims of vaccine reactions, and corrupt doctors. No timestamps exist for the content, nor have any participants been identified in an official capacity.

Hi Moms! My twin girls, Siobhan and Sharyn, are spending a LOT of time together. They’ve always been close, but it seems like they’ve really gravitated toward one another since they started getting their grown-up teeth. I tried looking to see if Dr. Wheeler’s website had any info about this and there wasn’t much. Does anyone else have experience with this?

Hi Moms! I wrote the other day about my little Siobahn and Sharyn who’ve been spending what I feel is too much time together. I think it’s gotten worse. Now they cry when I separate them. I don’t want to make my girls upset, but they even insist on sleeping in the same bed and going to the bathroom together. I homeschool, of course — I’ve read too many scary stories about vaccines and vaccine reactions that make me want nothing to do with vaxxer kids — but I’m worried that’s making them get more dependent on one another since they’re in the house all day.

By the way, I want to thank the Mommy who replied last time with the recommendation to use that special root extract on the girls’ loose teeth. I was able to find the root in the backyard and it’s helped with the inflammation and pain.

Continue reading “Are My Twins Spending Too Much Time Together?”

The Small-Eyed Children of Cañón del Cristo

mojave desert

The deathbed story my grandfather told was not one I initially believed. He’d been in a car accident. There was head trauma. He was in and out of consciousness for a few days before an aneurysm took him out of this world.

During his moments of lucidity, he talked to me. It didn’t make a lot of sense. The doctor told me everything Grandpa said following the crash could be explained by brain damage, and I agreed. It seemed like he was conflating the old scary stories he used to tell me as a kid with real events from his past.

The real event went like this: in 1980, he was patrolling Cañón del Cristo, a spot in the Mojave that had, over the years, become a place where drug cartels went to dump bodies. Despite no bodies turning up in over twenty months, he still liked to give it a walkthrough every now and then.

“Nice scenery and good air,” he’d claim. “Aside from when I’d find a body.”

His trouble started when a rattlesnake startled him, causing him to jump back and lose his footing. It was a bad spot for that. He ended up falling about eight feet and shattering his knee.

That part I already knew. I had vague memories of him in a cast when I was very young.

He was on the canyon floor for hours. Whenever he tried to move, the pain was so intense he’d just stop and scream. There was nothing he could do. His radio was out of reach. There were no cell phones back then. It was only a matter of time before a mountain lion came by and put an end to it.

It turned out mountain lions were the least of his worries. Continue reading “The Small-Eyed Children of Cañón del Cristo”

The Giggliest Girl


“What do you mean, ‘a little girl died here?’” my wife asked, her voice rising with incredulity. “Don’t you have to disclose that before you sell a house? Isn’t that the law?”

“No,” the realtor replied, eyeing his shoes. “Not in this state.”

“Jesus Christ, Tommy,” Ingrid bristled. Why would you even bring it up then? The paperwork’s already through, for fuck’s sake!”

“Listen,” I interjected, trying to be the cooler head, despite my own irritation. “Hang on. Tommy, seriously, why are you telling this to us? You clearly didn’t have to, but you did anyway. There had to be a reason.” Continue reading “The Giggliest Girl”

Not All Men

dv face

“Not all men are rapists,” my Dad would grunt as he scrolled through his friends’ Facebook profiles and read the articles about sexual assault they’d posted.

“Not all men are abusive,” my Dad would mutter as he did research to disprove the domestic violence statistics that bothered him so much.

“Not all men are like him,” I’d mouth to myself, as Dad threw Mom across the room for having the temerity to contradict something he’d said.

After hurting her one night, he came to my room a few hours later. “You’re a sweet boy,” he told me. “I know you’d never harm a woman, no matter how much she deserved it. Not all men are like me. You don’t have a temper.”

I did have a temper, though. And I seethed. Continue reading “Not All Men”