One Dead Sucker

No doubt about it: Larry Warren was dead.

“What happened here, Mrs. Warren?” Mountie Hodgins said.

“Well, It’s a long story. Larry there inherited this land from his Grandpa. So he says to me, ‘Julie, Parkland in Alberta is a great place to start over,’ so we moved here from Winnipeg. Me! A city girl!”

“That must have been quite a change for you.”

“You bet your shiny buttons it was. Anyway, we were walking out in this field yesterday, and we discovered this abandoned well pit. It was making sort of a blowing sound. Larry picked up some loose dirt, threw it in, and it blew right back out. Weirdest thing you ever saw.”

“Go on.”

“Larry wanted to go down into it and check it out, but it was getting dark, so I convinced him to wait until I could do some research. Well, he agreed. I looked on the Internet and found out it’s called a ‘Sucker and Blower.’”

Hodgins nodded. “I’ve heard of them. Sometimes they suck, and sometimes they blow, depending on the barometric pressure. The old-timers call it ‘black damp gas,’ and it’s usually found in a well pit or a root cellar. They’re deadly.”

“That’s what I learned on the Internet. So we came back here today.

‘Please don’t go in there, Larry,’ I said.

‘I’ll be okay,’ he said.

‘There’s gas in there, dear,’ I explained. So he lit a match and threw it in.

‘See? Not explosive,’ he said.

‘No, but Darling, you can’t breathe it, either!’ I told him. ‘It’s 90% nitrogen, and nitrogen doesn’t explode! It’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless!’

‘Don’t worry,’ he said.

‘Don’t worry?’ I said, ‘Larry, at least six people have died in these things.’

‘I’ll be careful,’ he said.

‘But Sweetheart,’ I said, ‘the deeper you go the less oxygen there is!’ Believe me, I was at my wit’s end.”

“But he went in anyway, eh?” asked Hodgins.

“No,” Mrs. Warren replied. “I just got tired of arguing with him and hit him in the head with a rock.”

Ω

Randall A. Martin is former President of District One of the Kansas Authors’ Club. His flash fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and his short stories won Second Place and Honorable Mention in the 1st Annual Kansas Writers’ Association’s Scene of the Crime Competition in 2006. He has earned both a BA in East Asian Languages and Cultures and an MA in Education from Kansas University. A former adjunct instructor at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, he taught English as a second language for five years and Japanese for two years. He is working full-time as a technical editor while pursuing a BA in creative writing at Washburn. He lives in Topeka with his wife, Linda and their cat, Rosie.

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