Tag Archives: Kentucky

The Lost Tribe of Levy

appalachian mountains

Benjamin Levy eased the Model T onto the berm next to the sign for First Mountain Baptist Church. He tried to remember whose idea it had been to spend their honeymoon exploring the hinterlands of Appalachia. He blamed his wife—privately, of course. They had spent the last few hours jolting along on dusty mountain roads and now it was mid-afternoon, and they were low on gas and thoroughly lost.

“You sure this is a good idea?” Miriam asked, peering out at the picnic.

“We have to ask someone.” He could feel his heart beat faster. Looking around, the people seemed normal. No white hoods, not even any guns in sight.

A rotund man in a brown suit had spotted them and was ambling over. Ben rolled down the window.

“What town is this?” Ben asked when the man was close enough.

“This here’s Vicco. Where y’all headed?”

“We don’t know exactly. We’re just exploring. Is there a town near here with gas and a hotel?”

“Sure, sure. There’s a couple. Hey, ya hungry? We got lots of food here.”

“No, that’s fine—”

“Oh, come on,” the man said, opening the car door. “You must be famished.” He stuck out his hand. “Name’s Bobby Lindon.”

“Benjamin Levy,” Ben said, climbing out and shaking the man’s hand.

Bobby nodded, pumping Ben’s hand in unison with his head. Then his eyes widened. “Hey, are y’all Jews?”

Here it comes. “Uh, yeah.” Ben’s eyes swiveled, looking for pitchforks.

“That’s great! Come on and meet everyone. There’s no Jews in these parts, but the pastor talks about them nearly every Sunday. Hey Pastor, come meet the Jews!”

A moment later, Ben and Miriam were surrounded by a crowd of eager faces, looking at them like a pair of recently arrived angels. They were seated at a table and plates of food were heaped up in front of them. They looked at each other and started eating. Ben tactfully avoided the pork ribs, even though they been piled extra high on half his plate.

“So, have you been to the Holy Land?” Pastor Gorton said as he sat down across from them, apparently starting a second meal to keep them company. “I’ve studied Palestine for years but it’s a long way away.”

“I’ve never been there,” Ben said. “I’m from New Jersey.”

“Do you know Hebrew?” The pastor’s eyes lit up. He jumped up and returned a minute later with a battered commentary. As Ben ate, Pastor Gorton peppered him with questions about the translations of various words in the Old Testament and Ben wracked his brain to remember Hebrew lessons from a decade before.

Meanwhile a group of young people were trying to get Miriam to sing and dance with a tambourine like the Miriam in the Bible. One went and got a tambourine and set it on the table near her just in case she changed her mind. They seemed disappointed, too, that neither she nor Ben knew how to play a shofar, but they were fascinated with her descriptions of Hanukkah. A few of the boys pulled out jackknives and started whittling dreidels as if they were going to play then and there.

Pastor Gorton brought Ben in to see a Star of David he had on the wall of his office. He came back out to find Miriam surrounded by a group of children, all making choking sounds as if they had fishbones stuck in their throats.

“They wanted to learn some Hebrew words,” she said. “They’re fascinated with that one sound.”

She stood up and grabbed his lapel, pulling him closer. “They want us to stay here tonight,” she said in a fierce whisper. “They’re talking about having a seder supper and making a replica of the Tent of Meeting.” He saw the panic in her eyes. “We gotta get out of here,” she said. “I don’t think I can take much more of this pro-Semitism.”


Much Ado About Kudzu – Visual Fiction

Kudzu.

The Scourge of the South and an emerald-green kraken that spreads its leafy tentacles out to overwhelm everything.

It is unstoppable.

Much Ado about Kudzu

*         *         *

“I think I have a way to stop it,” Dr. Freddie Combs said. He was sitting with a group of scientists at the Kudzu Fight Council. It was, somewhat ironically, located in Alaska. The feeling was that kudzu was so dangerous it was best for the Council to employ scientists who were deathly afraid of it. There was no chance of them sympathizing with the enemy that way.

“What’s your idea?” the Director asked.

“Special giant rats,” Dr. Combs said. “All they eat is kudzu. We set them loose in Kentucky and Virginia and soon all the kudzu will be gone.”

“Giant rats? Are you crazy? No one wants giant rats running around. And how do you know they only eat kudzu?”

“That’s all they’ve eaten in our lab tests.”

“What else have you offered them?”

“Nothing, but—”

“Next!” the Director said.

Much Ado about Kudzu

“I saw we just give the affected area up for lost,” another scientist said. “Let’s build a wall around the area, let the people inside deal with it.”

“Kudzu grows over walls.”

“Well, maybe we could put the giant rats on top of the wall . . .”

Another scientist stood up. “I’ve developed a new strain of kudzu that bursts into flames in hot sunlight. We just need to cross-breed it with the kudzu and the problem will solve itself.”

“These are all terrible ideas,” the Director said. “Do any of you have a half-decent idea?”

Much Ado about Kudzu

“I have one that is fool-proof,” a tall, dark scientist named Dr. Brawn said. He had a crazy look in his eye, which in scientific circles is referred at “that Nobel look”. The rest of the room hushed.

“Super kudzu,” Dr. Brawn said. “It is twice as strong as normal kudzu and as smart a brilliant dog, or perhaps a slightly dim 5-year-old. It is also fiercely territorial, so it will easily wipe out the normal kudzu for us.”

“But then what do we do with all this super kudzu?” the Director asked. “The problem will be worse than before.”

“No, because it is be intelligent,” Dr. Brawn said. “We can negotiate with it, then send it to go fight our enemies. We can turn it into an ally.”

“Does . . . it grow as fast as normal kudzu?” the Director asked in a shocked voice.

“Three times faster. However, it does have a critical weakness. It is vulnerable to bullets. One shot will kill 100’ of super kudzu.”

“That is a good feature,” the Director admitted. “Fine, we’ll try it. I can’t think of anything better at least.

“Excellent,” Dr. Brawn said. He patted the place on his chest where his Nobel Prize would soon hang. “This can’t fail. Trust me.”

Much Ado about Kudzu

*         *         *

Four months later, the continental United States was abandoned. Mexico was considering building a huge fence to keep out the super kudzu scourge. Canada had nothing but its cold weather and even that wasn’t an effective barrier anymore, thank you very much global warming. People tried to shoot at the rampaging super kudzu, but after it began to mimic a whimpering puppy, they found they just didn’t have the heart.

Finally, all the survivors who could afford it gathered in a huge underground bunker on the island of Newfoundland and waited, hoping that the kudzu would die out or simply go away. They waited for years. Their phone and Internet went out because no one wanted to go outside to maintain them.

After three years, the debate began: to go outside or not. Some argued that the super kudzu must have killed itself off by now. In any case, it couldn’t have made it over the water to the island. Some questioned why they were in a bunker at all, but more pessimistic individuals shushed them, reminding them of how quickly North America had fallen.

“It’s probably crossed the Atlantic Ocean by now,” some said.

One boy, though, had had enough. “I’m going outside,” he said. He ran for the hatch and began to spin the wheel to open it.

Outside the sun shone brightly and a single tendril of kudzu crept slowly up the stonework towards the soon-to-be-opened hatch . . .

Much Ado About Kudzu

(You can find more information about kudzu here)


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