"A Home Place"
Herb Miller Interview


James Tracy
Magical Realist

Art Renaissance

Liars Bunch

Believe it or Else!

Liars Bunch

Temptation of Cain

Allie Gator was a tough old bird. She ran her boarding house, Der Gatorhausen, with an iron claw. She nailed a sign by the front door that said:

No smoking.
No drinking.
No swearing.
No spitting.
(The list had grown longer through the years.)
No soliciting.
No proselytizing.
No pets.
No food in the rooms.
No greasy hair oils.
No devil worshipping.
(This after a Jaina railroad expediter denied the existence of the Supreme Being while eating dry biscuits one supper. She didn't have to tell him to leave. One look was enough to freeze him like a ripe plum in a cold nitrogen bath.)
And especially:
No women visitors.
(This was repeated and underlined.)
No women visitors!

But the food was good and the price was right and there were always a few traveling salesmen, circuit lawyers, backwoods politicians and plein air artists wandering through the meticulously kept day room with its high backed chairs and the hard, thinly padded couch that was little more than a bench. And no liars sat on this bench—couch—either, because a small framed sign on the end table next to it proclaimed: No Liars.


In battle never attack a line formed in a crescent set.

— Sgt. Ooka Brown


Cain Fisher was a rumpled man in a suit. Soft and flabby, his strongest muscle was the one he used to lift his fork. He had an unkempt mustache, like a bristly wire brush. His hair was parted in the middle; his eyebrows shed excessive skin flakes. Women took little notice of him and he of them, blessedly easy once the fires of youth were gone. Oh, he'd been married once or twice, he couldn't remember how many times exactly because his second wife had been so like the first that he had never been able to keep them separate in his mind from the third.

He occasionally passed through Nedville for his job as district manager of the Lost Inca Phone Company, party lines, serving Mackerelville, Nedville and selected parts of Lincoln, Burr and Vinegarroon Counties.

As there weren't exactly drinking establishments in Nedville (Vinegarroon County being neither "dry" nor "wet" but "damp") Fisher retired after dinner to the lounge of the Wayward Inn two dark blocks away where he schmoozed with the artists that lived there like Adolph "Meat" Tenderizer, Marie Gruff and V.J. Karaoke.

It was with a young artists' model somewhat associated with Karaoke, a tempestuous, jealous man, that Fisher found himself with later that evening, his reserves laid to the side by a little too much of Mrs. Fritter's applejack.

"Later wouldn't be as interesting," the woman replied, brushing her hand along his collarbone. Her eyes had that dangerous look he associated with getting a whipping as a lad. How he had gotten himself into this situation he didn't know. He did know that he couldn't take her back to Allie's but he tried anyway and had almost succeeded in getting her up the stairs when they were confronted by an enraged Allie Gator holding her broom aloft and quivering like an angry bulldog's jowls, ready to bite.

"Perhaps, my dear, we should retire elsewhere," Fisher said, turning, only to see to his distress that Karaoke had stealthily followed them up the stairs carrying what looked to be a shotgun.

"I will kill you both!" he cried, aiming the weapon.

A loud explosion followed, the recoil of the deadly weapon knocking the slight, well-dressed Karaoke back down the stairs, giving him a frightful nosebleed. An indifferent shootist at the best of times, Karaoke killed Allie's broom,

scattering shredded straw from one end of the building to the other.

"Oh, Veegie, you do care," said the young woman, tenderly wiping the blood from Karaoke's lip before they tottered off into the night.

Cain Fisher was never seen around Nedville again although Allie looked. Oh, how she looked. In the morning she cleaned the straw from the stairwell, scrubbed blood off the steps, and arranged for the plasterers to fill the hole in her wall.

That's when Allie added the second "No women" to her sign. And the underlining.

Back to Top

Features | Yellow pages | Photo gallery | Calendar | Creative outlet
Send us comments | About Our Brown County | Subscribe | Back issues | Contents