– Ono Parisi




Soggy Hill

On this particular October day, Soggy Hill was covered in fresh rain and nobody including me wanted to go hiking, but Mrs. Limper wasn’t having any of it. She never gave us a sailer’s chance, as she jumped from the car like a St. Bernard and began running to the top as if it were a race. The squishy ground beneath her swollen feet bemoaned with each intrusive step. When she reached the top, she inhaled the last remaining oxygen and snorted like a wild pig. She seemed overly confident standing there all high-browed, with swollen eyes scanning out over the Pennsylvania countryside. She stood fixated, as if on a ship’s bow searching for land, but then she slowly turned to face us. The wind was blowing her dark hair across her face and then she cupped her sweaty hands around her open mouth and shouted,

“Come on up. It’s beautiful.”

As she began to shift her feet back around she was startled by the screech of an owl perched close by inside the rotting hollow of a Hemlock tree. Her durable feet suddenly gave way to the saturated earth beneath. She stumbled ungracefully in our direction and we witnessed her plunge headlong over her feet. Her body fell down the steepest embankment. She looked like a pail tumbling down the windy side of a pyramid. Soggy Hill seemed to resent her, making sure to introduce her to every obstacle it had in its armamentarium. As if to say,

“Get the hell off of me.”

I knew from the first full rotation that Mrs. Limper was not going to make it. I thought she was going to break her neck for sure. I was horrified at the thought I might have to carry her not so slim corpse down the hill, so I turned away from the tragedy unfolding before my virgin eyes. With a quick thud, the earth stopped shaking and Mrs. Limper stopped moving. It was dead quiet. As quiet as a humming bird on heroin. I could not resist. I had to see if she were still alive. My eyes slowly looked up the hill, trying to focus in on.the blood, but to my great relief, her right hand began to move. Slowly upwards at first, then backwards toward her right ear and then out of sight behind the back of her neck. Mrs. Limper grabbed an apple-sized chunk of muddy grass from the nape of her neck and violently threw it to the ground. Then she stood up atop her one good leg, and began removing the mud and grass from her hair and clothes, when suddenly she cried out,

“It’s a girl. A little girl.”

The sound of her voice made my hair stand on end. Mrs. Limper looked for life in the girl’s profiled face but the tinge of gray said it all. She was dead. As if being wrapped in a plastic garbage bag wasn’t enough.


City of Slayton

Everyone in the parking lot that day, except maybe Mrs. Limper, knew who that little girl was. It was that Cooper girl from Slayton. She’d been missing about a 3- or 4-days now. Never made it home from school. Little Susie’s mother Joyce gone mute ever since. Johnny Cooper, the dad, well he gone straight crazy. Ain’t stopped looking since it happened. He went round the whole town and opened every single trash can. Now he knows where every stray dog lives, where the cheaters cheat, and who they cheating with, but he don’t know where his little Susie’s at.

“You and I know though don’t we Charlie?” I asked.

Charlie nodded in the affirmative.

“That’s Susie lying up there. I knew straight away when I seen that Trinity insignia on her book covers. There’s only one 7 year old girl missing from Slayton and there’s only one girl missing from Trinity Lutheran. Who else could it be?  Some of the cops ain’t so sure about Johnny. If Johnny is at the lake, Slayton PD is at the lake. Wherever Johnny goes, they go. He don’t even look the same. He cries all day. Asks everybody if they seen Susie. He shows them that picture of her on the pony with a smile bigger than Texas. This news is gonna kill him. I know for sure it will. I’m getting sick just thinking about that. This is a bad thing Charlie and I feel weird about it too. I never really cared much for Johnny, him being an embalmer and all. It’s a creepy job and I even smelt him once in Romero’s pharmacy over on Redder Place. You know Romero’s, down by Tony’s deli, next to the brook. Johnny he smelt like dialysis.”

“You ever smelt dialysis Charlie?”

“Nope never have.” Charlie replied.

“Well, Charlie, you ain’t missing much. It’s kinda like mixing Mr. Clean with wasp killer and then inhaling it up your nose.”

“It smells chemically. It’s got a special stink to it.”


Detective James Beam

a.k.a. Detective Jimmy

The detective’s bourbon colored Crown Victoria was parked in between the two Slayton ambulances. The furthest one had Mrs. Limper and Detective Jimmy inside, cause her ankle got all twisted when she fell into Susie. Charlie and I had to help her down Soggy Hill. I’m sure glad Mrs. Limper lived.

“I know Detective Beam. I seen him twice. Once when he gave a speech at high school about drugs and the other time when he arrested Mrs. Black at Benjamin’s house. Remember, Benjamin the kid who lived by Holy Family. The jewish kid who lived next to the church.”

Charlie nodded in the affirmative.

“Mrs Black’s husband, Buddy, he left her the year before. Since then she buckled under the strain. Her brain went straight side ways. I guess Benjamin reminded her of her husband or their dog, because Mr Black he took the dog too.

“You ever seen that dog Charlie?

“Nope, don’t think so,” Charlie replied.

“Sure you had. They had that low rider dog, you know that yellow Corgi, with the short legs. He used to break out and run around the Holy Family parking lot. Benjamin he got short low rider legs too. Well Mrs. Black went completely nutzo. Benjamin was maybe 12 I think. He came home from school and found Mrs. Black vacuuming his bedroom and wearing his underwear on top of her head. The funny part is, Benjamin didn’t give it a second thought. He just went back downstairs and made a sandwich. He didn’t say nothing, not until his mother got home. He didn’t want to get in any trouble he said. So he just waited in the kitchen. When the cops arrived, Mrs Black was still vacuuming. I heard she was wearing his underwear when they put her in the cop car, but Benjamin never said that. I heard that at school. Whatever it was – it was weird. I never looked at a vacuum cleaner the same. Funny thing is Benjamin got famous for that. You know, just for coming home. He didn’t do nothing at all. Just got famous.”

“You know what else I heard, Clarlie?”

“Nope,” Charlie replied.

“What I heard was that Mrs. Black still carries his underwear around in Willowbrook sanitarium. That’s what’s so damn funny. They moved her 10 blocks away from his house. She’s closer to Benjamin now being in the nut house than she was before she vacuumed his room. She really made out. She don’t have to walk her dog no more. A cook makes all her meals. She gets to watch TV all day and she gets to have Benjamin’s underwear on her head whenever she wants. She also gets to watch him play baseball every Saturday because his league plays at Willowbrook park right next to the sanitarium. You have to admit Charlie, that if you tried to make a crazy plan you couldn’t a made one better than that.”

“You’re right Ono, it’s a good one,” Charlie replied.

“Damn right. It’s perfect. She’s crazy like a fox. She’s probably getting alimony too. This may be the smartest woman who ever lived.”


Agent Seymour

Evidence Response Team