The Suit: For 2016, Hearts is my suit for stories from Indiana-related magazines or literary journals (most of the stories in Mythic Indy were originally published at Punchnel’s online magazine)
The Selection: “Ransom Place” from the short story anthology “Mythic Indy” featuring stories by 33 local authors who have invented myths built around some landmarks or stories of Indianapolis. Read online at http://www.punchnels.com/2014/03/31/ransom-place
The Author: Corey Dalton (picture above from his website), who I first met through the blogging world about six years ago and then later in person via the Vonnegut Memorial Library here in town (where he once served as the Library’s annual “prisoner” during Banned Books week). Dalton is also the curator of the Mythic Indy anthology, a project for which this blog was among many happy contributors
What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is now also officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.
“‘It’s happening here too…” he murmured. ‘Wickedness is everywhere.'”
Our story drops us off in September, 1901, where Carmine Lupo is an Italian immigrant who, fleeing the anarchy and unrest in his native Italy, where the King has been assassinated, finds himself on the Indianapolis doorstep of the home of Anna and Thaddeus Bryant, begging for work and agreeing to help with gardening chores for wages of “just some food.” There’s another key character in this story, though – the Bryants’ young son Briley, a child whose beauty, both of the physical kind and that of his soul, was making him the talk of the neighborhood.
One day while Carmine is working in the garden, with Briley “assisting” and Anna also outside, a neighbor yells across the yard the news that President McKinley’s been shot. The thunderclap of this shocking news seems to jar loose whatever might have been left holding together Carmine’s patchwork-repaired psyche (though the reader, along with the Bryants, isn’t made aware of this yet).
Carmine decides that the evil spreading in the world is because people like Thaddeus (a non-believer) “are ruining everything,” and takes young Briley into a church starting a hostage situation and saying that a ransom must be paid to set the world straight and back on course again. He has ordered everyone out of the church and will only talk to Briley’s father, who, in the story’s climax, enters the church to try to save his son…
I have to say the final couple pages of this story were quite gripping and almost goosebump-inducing, with hints of a potentially supernatural (or perhaps “miraculous” is the more appropriate word here) resolution of the hostage situation. I won’t spoil the story any further, but will recommend you pick up a copy of “Mythic Indy” on line http://www.secondstoryindy.org/2015/09/pre-order-mythic-indy-and-support-second-story/ or maybe check at Indy Reads Books bookstore Next time you’re in downtown Indy.
Personal Notes: As a long time Indy area resident, I’m a bit ashamed to admit I wasn’t entirely certain where Ransom Place was and had to look it up. Turns out I’ve often walked along its borders, especially when I walk the length of the downtown canal (the blue line to the right of Ransom Place in the map) and am still going strong enough to cut over to the White River Greenway for some extra miles. Also, a twist at the end of the story lands it back at my childhood’s doorstep on Indy’s East Side, where Little Flower Catholic School was a rival of my PS#68 at 21st and Riley Avenue. I still remember being taunted once by a transfer student chanting: “Little Flower has more power, Little Flower has more power!”