King of the Jungle

In old Africa, in the big jungle between the two mighty rivers, a crowd had gathered.

Chimpanzee huddled under a copse of trees whose limbs tangled together under the higher green canopy. Hippo watched the proceedings from the banks of the bog. Tiger prowled near a big stone that had been in that spot since the beginning of the world, even before the jungle grew around it.

Man crouched behind a log, half-hidden by a tree. Only Tiger noticed him at first. Licking his lips, he invited Man to come closer. “You will not be harmed this day,” Tiger promised. “Come closer. Father Crocodile has passed. His family mourns. We choose our new king of the jungle together.” Continue reading

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Dive of Faith

Darius Hansen was allowed into the Daniel S. Gumpter Memorial Community Center in Uptown Oakview at any hour of the day, specifically the swimming pool, and even more specifically, the diving board. He even had his own key.

Darius was the town hopeful, a sure-fire Olympian. And he needed a place to practice his diving. More to the point, it was hoped that Darius’ success would mean the success of the whole town.

pool

image: Jacob Haddon

Once, Oakview  was a middle-class haven that also hosted a strong working class, too. It had once hosted an airplane seat manufacturing plant that employed most of the town; line workers, administrators, and middle managers, too. But, that was a few years ago. Since then,  the plant closed down and relocated to China. If you had a dark sense of humour, you could say the town was grounded.

The only thing left in Oakview was anaemic strip malls, unemployment lines, the crumbling Gateway Bridge over the Spencer River where a guy committed suicide a few years ago, and the desperate search for a way out alive. Continue reading