The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Diamonds is my suit for “Contemporary Writers with an Indiana Connection”
The Selection: “Uncle Sack” from the horror anthology “Terror Train 2”, published by James Ward Kirk fiction.
The Author: Murphy Edwards of Brookville, IN, who specializes in Horror fiction with the occasional venture into crime-related work. I’ve featured one of his stories before on Bibliophilopolis, “Strunke City Derail” which was actually a story from the first “Terror Train” anthology. The anthology containing “Uncle Sack” is available on Amazon.com for a mere 2.99. There’s also a Terror Train podcast at https://terrortrain.wordpress.com/ if you’re interested.
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 also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.
“So, The Sack Man, is he like the Boogey Man, or Yeti?” “Oh no,” said Manuel, erupting in laughter, “nothing like that. The Sack Man, he is much worse. Still, you must remember, what I am telling you is just a tale. Nothing has ever been proven.”
Too often in life, it seems that justice isn’t always meted out when and where it is needed. If there were only some supernatural force at work that would make sure this isn’t the case. Enter Portugal’s “Uncle Sack.”
Our protagonist, Cordell Harvey, is on one of Portugal’s regional trains. Seems a train trip through Portugal has been on his “bucket list” for a long time. The leg of his journey related by this story, however, is interrupted by two young “toughs” who are passing through the cars of the train and harassing passengers, including one feisty older lady who keeps yelling “O homem do saco!” back at them. Harvey inquires of Manuel, a fellow (local) passenger, what this means. He feels she is cursing the thugs, but he learns she is trying to warn them.
“Uncle Sack is said to be Portugal’s great equalizer. When someone misbehaves, he steps in to set things straight… At the chosen moment, he transforms into a hideous creature; an insane, psychotic, vigilante murderer. He engulfs his prey and uses the sack to make them vanish.” Harvey is somewhat disturbed by the tale, but is reassured “You have nothing to fear. He preys only on those who chose to disrupt society with their misbehavior.” (actually sounds like a handy kind of superhero to have around if you asked me!)
By this point in the story, an experienced reader will have realized that Harvey will have an opportunity to see Saco de Tio at work, but how will this come about? When he gets off the train in the town of “Porto” he may get the opportunity!
I don’t know if the legend of Uncle Sack exists in real world Portugal or only in the mind of the author, but in my opinion it’s a good one – as any would be that serves to discourage “misbehavior.” Porto (pictured below, from Wikipedia) is a real city, though, near the northern end of Portugal’s western coast. Though it’s not a bucket list item for me, I would also someday like to visit Portugal. I haven’t explored much Portuguese literature here at Bibliophilopolis either, with the exception of the exceptional writer, Katherine Vaz, whose work I was introduced to by some Portugeasan tourists who were visiting the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library a few years ago. See “the rest of the story” in this post about her story “Undressing the Vanity Dolls” here.
Personal note: An inside joke at one of my book clubs is the fact that I have never been on a train trip in my life. Although this didn’t seem that odd to me, for some reason, it has become part of our monthly banter. I’ll have to report back to them that now at least I’m reading stories that take place on trains. What about you? Have you traveled by train? Can you recommend a trip? Can you think of any literary works that prominently feature trains, or rides on trains. (I can think of a few, but I’ll keep them to myself until people have had a chance to comment if they wish.)