Stories No. 3 – Chris Okum

Mysterium Tremendum
by Chris Okum

Thomas Hinckley, Governor of the Plymouth Colony (1680-1692), was late for supper, and drunk, but only slightly so. One too many rounds of ale combined with endless bouts of hearty laughter had conspired to make him forget that his wife and children were waiting for him to bring home some savory vittles, as he had promised earlier in the day. Hinckley stumbled outside The Gallowsbird’s Bark Pub. All the shops were closed. Hinckley scanned the town square and spied an old woman carrying a bushel full of freshly killed chickens, potatoes, celery stalks, and loafs of bread. Hinckley crept up behind the old woman. The sun was quickly setting and the shadows looked especially demonic. Hinckley shouted, “Indians! Run!” The old woman, startled beyond belief and in fear for her life, dropped the basket and hobbled away, as did the few others in the vicinity. Hinckley picked up the food and virtually skipped all the way home. When he arrived he was greeted as a conquering hero. His tardiness and sour breath were not only forgiven, but forgotten. Later that night, as he sat by his “hearth” (which was really a fireplace, and the biggest one in Plymouth to boot), and sipped from a tin cup filled with his wife’s glorious whiskey-butter concoction, Hinckley heard a voice in the night say, “In the eyes of the Lord no man is less guilty than the man who provides for his family,” and then realized, as he swallowed the last dregs of brew, that the voice was none other than his own.


Chris Okum lives in Los Angeles. His work has appeared at McSweeney’s, The Olentangy Review, MetazenThe Alarmist Magazine, Opium Magazine, deComp Magazine, and Blue Five Notebook.

June 25, 2014
Photo by: Gessy Alvarez

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