“The House on the Hill”
So there we were, me and Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox
walking down a cold dark road somewhere between
St. Louis and Cape Girardeau.
Cold we were, and wet, with not a cent in our pockets,
bound for new Orleans.
After a half-hour walking down this dark road
we saw a house, up on a small hill, a big house,
three stories high,
with the lights warm and bright in the windows,
and with spires and gables and widow’s walks
and chimneys breathing smoke into the starry sky.
“Let’s go up there,” said Paul.
“Maybe them people
will take pity on us.”
“It’s worth a shot,” said Babe.
“It sure beats walking down this cold
dark road all night.”
“Let’s do it,” I said.
So we went through an unlocked cast-iron gate
and up a winding path to the house,
then up the steps of the porch,
which was almost as big and as broad and wide
as a hotel porch.
Paul went right up and banged the iron knocker.
No one came right away, so he banged it
a few more times.
“Paul,” I said, “I’m sure they heard you
the first time.”
“Yeah, Paul,” said Babe. “Don’t be obnoxious, man.”
“Sorry,” said Paul.
Pretty soon the door opened.
And there stood a pretty young woman,
holding a candle.
I mean to say
she was both pretty and young,
but also pretty young,
maybe eighteen or so.
“Who are you and what do you want?” she said.
“Now wait a minute, little lady,” started Paul,
but I quickly interrupted him.
“Excuse us, miss, but we have been shipwrecked.
Our riverboat sank some miles upriver,
and we managed to swim to shore, but
we are cold and wet, and, unfortunately,
penniless. We were wondering if we might
prevail upon your hospitality just until
the morning, even if it’s only to sleep
in the coach house or a tool shed.”
She looked us up and down, slowly.
“Very well,” she said at last, “come in.
But mind you scrape your muddy feet first.”
We scraped our feet on the mat,
and entered the foyer,
the young lady holding the door,
And when we were all in she closed it.
“Follow me, please, gentlemen,” she said.
We left the foyer and followed the young lady
into a large sitting room,
where two other young ladies sat,
“Gentlemen, these are my sisters,
I am Felicia.
And you are?”
We introduced ourselves,
and the sisters bade us to dry
and warm ourselves by the roaring fire,
which we did, and they brought us
a jug of whiskey, which we proceeded
to drink, and before we knew it
we fell fast asleep in our chairs
by that cozy fire...
...and when we awoke, God knows
how many hours later,
we found ourselves locked in the
cold and damp dark basement
of that accursèd house!
We had been tricked --
Paul Bunyan, Babe the great blue ox,
and me --
tricked and drugged by those
three diabolical sisters,
who, as we were soon to discover,
had taken us prisoner for the purposes
of satisfying their own base lusts.
illustrations by danny delacroix and eddy el greco
artistic supervision by rhoda penmarq
"a penmarq production assures the 'marq' of excellence!"