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Fantasticoe 1995

The Mouth
Lynn Morton


     Yesterday I went to visit my father at the hole again. He doesn't physically live there, but that is where I saw him last. I never would have thought that I would be visiting my father at the hole. I always feared that he would be visiting me, for he always warned me not to go near the "mouth" as he called it. I generally listened to my father because his punishments were frightful enough to scare any adult, and since I am only eight, you can imagine how they made me feel.

     For some reason though, the fear of my father expired when I first came across the hole in the ground. Perhaps my curiosity of the hole led me to disobey my father. But let me say this was not an ordinary hole, it wasn't natural. Or I should say it wasn't made by a gopher or a mole. As a matter of fact I have never seen a hole like this one. The opening is perfectly round and nothing seems to grow near the hole; only sand surrounds it. One time I tried to look down the hole with my flashlight, but when I leaned over an odor came rushing into my nose and went down into my stomach and suddenly I began to feel sick. My body became so weak and heated that I thought I would fall in. Fortunately I made it home. Father wanted to call the doctor because he said I looked green but I told him I just ate a green tomato. Luckily he didn't ask me where I got it from.

     There is an orange tree that lives beside the hole. I climb on it often and try to throw oranges down the hole to see how deep it is. I have never heard an orange hit the bottom. My first theory to this problem was that the oranges didn't weigh enough. So last summer, I brought my dog, Preacher with me to the hole. Since Preacher was a Dachshund, I thought he would want to go down the hole. But he didn't, he didn't want to go anywhere near it, but I was determined. I got Preacher as close to the hole as I could and began to push on his rear. This didn't work very well because Preacher would quickly turn and run. Finally I had to pick Preacher up. He must have known what I was going to do because before I dropped him, he turned his head and latched his teeth on to my arm so hard that I had second thoughts about dropping him into the hole. Unfortunately for Preacher and fortunately for my arm, he could only hold on for a few seconds and then down he went. Although I didn't hear him hit the bottom, I did hear him hit the sides of the hole. At least I think he hit the sides, for every other second I heard him let out a yelp and a scream.

     Since I didn't hear Preacher land on the bottom, I couldn't accurately judge the depth of the hole. This became a problem because I didn't know how to get Preacher out. I most certainly didn't have a rope long enough to reach him. Maybe I should have tied a rope around him before I dropped him. Anyway, it was too late. I then needed to think up a believable story about how I lost Preacher to tell to my father. Oddly enough the absence of my dog didn't seem to affect my father. Thank goodness, because I had reservations about telling him that Preacher only went for a walk and would be back tomorrow.

     I must admit that my father knew something was up because the following day he had some people dressed in green suits fill in the hole with dirt. To our surprise the dirt disappeared the following week. My father complained that a thief stole the dirt but I never saw anyone around. Of course I couldn't tell him this because I wasn't supposed to be around the hole. Later my father had the hole filled in with cement. It must have not been mixed properly because it disappeared too. After that, my father didn't try to waste any more time tying to fill in the hole.

     Just this past spring, we began to hear loud noises like moans coming from the hole. At first we thought that someone must have fallen in, but it wasn't a human voice. It couldn't have been Preacher either, for he had been down there since last summer with nothing to eat. Nobody knew what the gruesome sounds were but they sure were terrifying. My father decided to go down the hole and make sure nobody was down there. Our neighbors strapped a rope around his waist, gave him a flashlight, a mask for the odor, and a hard hat, and began to lower him down. The noises didn't quit with my father's entrance, they only grew louder. My father talked his way down the hole to let us know he was all right. "More rope." he would say. "I need more rope." Within a matter of minutes my father began to scream hysterically. I have never heard anyone cry the way he did. I began to tremble and started to yell for him but he didn't answer. I only heard his voice shriek with fear.

     "Pull him up!" I yelled. "Pull him up now!" My neighbors were already hard at work pulling on the rope. Sweat immediately drenched their foreheads and clothes. Not that my father weighed that much; it was the cries he let out that made them sweat so. By this time I was in tears. I got down on my knees and bent over the hole. "Preacher! Let him go!" I don't know why I yelled to Preacher, I knew it wasn't he who had him. I began to feel sick from the odor that was coming from the hole. My father was still wailing loudly and the rope began to jerk. "Preacher, let him go. I promise you I will get you out of the mouth! Just please let him go!" Again, I had no one to yell at but my dead dog, but somehow yelling at Preacher seemed to help.

     I could finally see the top of my father's head. His hard hat was missing. As they pulled him completely out of the hole, I noticed all of his gear was gone. Next, I checked his limbs; they were all there and to my surprise seemed to be unharmed. They laid my father on his back while my neighbor ran to phone for a doctor. My father looked terrible. His skin was white and he was definitely suffering, maybe even in shock. His body was quivering and he kept letting out wails that hurt my ears. We couldn't get him to calm down, but we did everything we could until the doctor came.

     My father spent two months in a hospital. I was not allowed to visit him. When he came home he was different. He would hardly speak to me and he never went back to work. He only lay in bed and stared out the window as if he were a zombie. Once I walked up to him and asked him what happened in the hole. The only response I received was the word, "Mouth." No one has ever been able to get my father to tell what happened in the hole. There are a few times however, that he tried to talk about it but his words were too insane to understand.

     It has been three years since my father lost his spirit to the mouth. Tomorrow, like every Sunday, I will go visit him again at the hole. I don't drop oranges down the hole anymore, instead I bring books to read to him, and tell him how I am doing in school. Although my father doesn't physically live in the hole, I once thought I heard him yelling from the hole, but I can't be sure. Maybe tomorrow I will drop a few of his favorite magazines. This will give him something to do until my next visit.
 

Acknowlegments - These people gave me important advice and suggestions for improving this story: Terry Heller, Joe A. White.



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