The Well – Eric Thralby

There is a well with the voice of an older man. No one is sure
how long he’s been in there.
I’m stuck down here, he says.
A pair of boys find him in the woods. They are the first in a
dozen years.
Does he crawl out at night? Does he crawl around like an eel?
They have a rope. They lower down into the well.
They feel their way around.
The walls are made of stones.
The man stirs and at first they cannot find him.
They see him in the low light.
I’m not well dressed, he says.
He looks ashamed.
That’s ok, say the boys.
May we take a look around?
Be my guests, he says.
The older man leads them into a sub-tunnel within the pit.
They are maybe sixty feet below ground.
Along here is where I live, he says.
He shows them the few things that he has.
Some things have a crank. Some have a retractable part.
It’s not lonely, he says.
He allows them into two opposite tunnels, each boy a tunnel.
Are you here? they say.
Yes, I’m here, he says.
Inside the tunnels, they could see their mothers.
Each boy watched his own mother drinking.
Eventually, they crawled into bed with their mothers.
And eventually they crawled back out from their tunnels.
Are you going to visit me again?
The older man’s hands were wet, but not unlike a mother’s.

Captain by trade, Cpt. Eric Thralby works wood in his long off-days. He
time-to-time pilots the Bremerton Ferry (Bremerton—Vashon; Vahon—
Bremerton), while other times sells books on, SellerID:
plainpages. He’ll sell any books the people love, strolling down to library and
yard sales, but he loves especially books of Romantic fiction, not of risqué
gargoyles, not harlequin romance, but knights, errant or of the Table. Eric
has not published before, but has read in local readings at the Gig Harbor
Candy Company and the Lavender Inne, also in Gig Harbor.

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