In a rustic town in Washington State, a man's death upsets the quiet equilibrium of small-town life. A well-intentioned blacksmith performs a civic duty for the town, ridding it of a pernicious evil that has taken up residence along the canal, but the death of the predator allows a more ancient evil into the waters. The townsfolk find themselves caught a vortex of uncertainty and moral ambiguity as the investigators start to uncover hidden secrets long thought buried.
From the author the Tulsa World says "has patented a hard-edged folksy narrative that conceals within its intricate voice the imminence of the supernatural" comes a tale of the dark side of the quintessential American small town.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Jack Cady (19322004) was an award-winning fantasist and horror writer. During his career he won the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award. He taught writing at various academic institutions, including the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University. He was a conscientious objector during the Korean War, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard in Maine, a truck driver, an auctioneer, a landscaper, and a fervent believer in the value of history as a tool to understanding both politics and writing.
Read an Excerpt
The road beside the Hood Canal runs snaky, the Canal branching from dark waters of Puget Sound and growing even darker as it runs a black furrow east of the Olympic Mountain range. The Canal was carved by the last ice age. It is dolomite and granite-walled; wider than the Mississippi, and darker than a bad man’s thoughts. It runs with geologic indifference before trailer parks, boat moorings, bars, bait shops, and villages. Cresting waves break wild as oceans when our world lies flogged by storms, although on windless days the Canal holds the calm of a black and nigh bottomless lake.
In daylight the road carries locals who are easy in their minds and tourists who are tight-lipped and white-knuckled. Since tourists are accustomed to freeways the road seems to them a narrow path beside a watery hell. There are no guard rails.
Locals know the road and stay off after midnight. Bars and roadhouses close at eleven P.M. Men pack up pool cues, or put away their darts. Wives or girlfriends bundle up against the wind. Everyone gets home before the road “turns ugly”.
During long night hours when the road is ugly a few trucks pass this way, or a traveling salesman, or a tourist who has ventured too far from cities. If the Canal reaches out and swallows a car, or if the road dumps a truck into those cold waters, the people who perish are strangers.
And, sometimes, people turn ugly. More than a few “sensitives” have roamed these parts:
Chantrell George once wore visions at his throat, having made necklaces of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Sugar Bear Smith had a girl’s pretty looks, and a girl’s gentle ways, but those things slipped after he killed a man.
Greek Annie is a witch who talks to frogs and reptiles, and who lately called down storms.
Petey Mullholland and Bertha, of Bertha’s Beer and Bait Shoppe, resemble pool sharks.
And Miscellaneous, which is to say, there’s a scatter of beer drinkers, top fallers, wharf rats, loggers, and other humble but possibly sainted folk; the most inconspicuous being a thoughtful character known as the fisherman, the youngest being a truck driver called the tow-truck kid.
Even some animals act better than they should. Jubal Jim Johnson, who runs with Petey, and who is a blue tick hound, likes to bay cuss words across dark water, raising his snout toward a clouded moon while pretending he is a wolf
There wasn’t a dangerous one among them. Even Sugar Bear was angelic. He only killed a man because that man messed with children. If Sugar Bear hadn’t, someone else would feel obliged.
So, when the road and Canal seemed to get ambition, and took more cars than usual, folks first looked to see if anyone had “gone ugly”. During last summer and fall thirteen cars—at least thirteen we know about—got swallowed by the waters. That was different. Always before the Canal only took one car a year, or at most, two. The wholesale dunking began after Sugar Bear killed the man.
Police divers came up from the state capital. Police, who knew nothing of the murder, swarmed that road, held roadblocks for testing booze, and before it was over lost one of their own.
The best cop of the lot, a nice guy, seemed fated. He was swallowed by darkness; and we learned it was not a person or the road that pulled cars into the Canal and caused drownings.
But, it took a long time to learn that. Everybody waited while traffic experts measured sight distances. Engineers found the only way to put up guard rails would be to sink pilings along the entire road, a job too expensive for dreaming. Then cars stopped drowning willy-nilly and concentrated in one spot.
A crane worked full time. It snaked cars like lifeless fish when divers found them. The cars held bodies, mostly, although two people got free of the cars; a mixed blessing. The Canal is not only cold; it’s hungry.
THE HAUNTINGS OF HOOD CANAL. Copyright © 2001 Jack Cady. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y 10010.