Recently paroled convict Emmett “Blue” Blumenthal hitched a ride as far as Noxtub, and walked the rest of the way under the summer sun. The field, the elm, the fence…it was all as his friend Tim had described in prison.

It was a long, low wooden fence with a big old elm tree about halfway through. Tim was right; it was like something out of a poem by Wordsworth. “It’s where I proposed to my wife,” Tim had said before his escape. “I need you to make me a promise, Blue: if you make parole, if you escape…find that tree.”

Blue followed the fence and then paused near where it passed by the elm, as crickets and katydids jumped before him. He poked around in the roots, looking for what Tim had described…a piece of wood, West Indian mahogany, that had no right to be among Massachusetts alfalfa.

Luckily, mahogany withstood the elements better than most woods; Blue found it, mossy and wormy, and pried it up. “I buried something under that wood,” Tim had said in prison. “It’s something I left just for you.”

Sure enough, there was a Zeppelin-brand cigar box there in the soil; Blue pried it open, shooing away pillbugs and earwigs and a Massachusetts Jumping Spider. Inside was an envelope with some cash and a letter.

Dear Blue,

Hopefully you’ve gotten out and are reading this. I hope that, since you came this far, you’ll come a little farther. I could use your help on my new project.

You remember the name of the town, don’t you?


Blue stared at the piece of paper, even turning it over to make sure there was nothing else on the other side.

“Aw, shit,” he said. Tim had told him about that town over ten years ago, once. Blue had no goddamn idea what it was called anymore.

With apologies to Frank Darabont and Stephen King.

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