The Old Weird South
This collection of twenty four new stories explores the supernatural side of the American South. Stretching from the Civil War to the present day, these stories visit mysterious bingo parlors and meet devils at the crossroads; they see battles in Florida’s citrus orchards and explore haunted bed & breakfasts. The authors included here speak with as many voices as the South itself, sometimes with great literary skill and sometimes spinning yarns from the front porch. The Old Weird South showcases the eerie, spooky, macabre, and supernatural that is an essential part of the character and literature of the South.
Edited by Tim Westover, The Old Weird South includes my short story, Railroad Bill. In rural Alabama, John's family is near starvation. Is Railroad Bill a legend or the answer to John's prayers?
Excerpt from Railroad Bill
John hunted the black sheep for three days, through the piney woods, across the railroad tracks and back to his farm. Hunger ached in his stomach like somebody had took a shovel and dug a hole in it. That ache wouldn’t let up and musta made him addle-brained. Every time he got close enough to the sheep to take his shot, seemed like it up and disappeared on him.
Now the black sheep stood in the middle of his cotton field and dared him to shoot it. The weevils were there too, covering every stalk, laying claim to all his hard work, having themselves a fine time eating up his life.
The sheep was downright fat, like it’d feasted on fine grain. Wasn’t nothing like the walking bags of bones that lived in these woods ‘fore they all got et.
One clean shot would take the sheep down. One shot to that round speck of white smack dab in the middle of its forehead taunting him like a bulls-eye. One shot, and he could feed the chillun something besides mud cakes. With only three bullets left and no way to get more, one shot was all he could spare.
“Don’t know where you come from, Mr. Sheep, or how you got so fine and fat, but you ‘bout to die.”
He crept closer, careful not to step on a root or anything that might make a noise and spook it. The dried pine needles proved a fair cushion. Took a long time to set up his shot. Wanted to make sure he didn’t miss. Finally, when he had the sheep dead to rights, he sent a bullet right to that white patch. Dropped that sheep right then and there. Least he should have. When he got to where that sheep shoulda laid stone-cold dead wasn’t nothing there ‘cept the weevils.