It was always on such occasions I ran into Bill. We knew each other in a hazy sort of way. We went to the same university, however, we only ever saw each other at parties. I’d be doing a keg stand when Bill would walk in, whip out his dick then wave it in my face as he bellowed, “You suck this next!” Or I’d run up behind him while he was about to do a shot and taze him. And though I don’t believe in Fate, somehow Bill always found me when his benders ensued.
The only thing I didn’t like about Bill was his tendency to ramble on about urban legends, particularly the cities. Those places where the alcoholic is treated like an upstanding citizen, a junkie can and probably should be mayor, hookers are allowed to be proud of what they are, a hangover is a sign of success, and the only real suffering is agonizing over which song to put on the jukebox. Bill believed in the paradises of urban legend, locales that evolved during Prohibition into the shadowy come-as-you-are-,-do-as-you-please towns of America. Everyone knows they exist but not everyone knows where they are. Although, the names at least offer a starting point on the map: Cranston, Illinois, Jefferson Falls, South Dakota, The New York City Burrow. Bill believed in them, and one in particular, the granddaddy of them all Beecher’s Hollow.
In college Bill could go on for hours about his desire to go there, how we should all just steal a car and drive. Aim for the horizon then straight on till morning. He could certainly sell the notion to a drunk crowd. Yet, he somehow never really sold it to himself. He tended to get another beer instead of lead the charge. I suspect a part of him didn’t really want to go, mostly for fear of finding out there’s no such thing as paradise. The trick with faith is never to go looking for proof. That way there’s always the possibility rather than the fact.
On his benders, after the initial hi-how-are-ya pleasantries, Bill always went into long rants about how great it would be to live in Beecher’s Hollow.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like my job all well and good. I’m just saying being good at something doesn’t mean it’s what a guy wants to be his whole life. I’d rather just like -- I don’t know -- sit on the porch with a mason jar of vodka lemonade and watch the days roll by; and you can do that in Beecher’s Hollow. There’s even like booze pipes they run into people’s houses so you got like booze on tap. It’ll be awesome, and I say it will because I’m going. One day I’m going. I’m going.”
Then one day he did. Around his thirtieth birthday, Bill sent me an email that read:
I’m doing it. Beecher’s Hollow here I come! (on ya face!!!!). I’ll send you a postcard buddy. With any luck, someday you’ll make it here too.
Bill Dekker (damn near killed her)
Two weeks later I got a postcard. It featured a tree that looked like it had grown over a sleeping man. Old cracked handle jugs with XXX labels littered the ground around the tree suggesting the slumbering man had been passed out on high grade moonshine. Written across the top in a red calligraphy typeface was the slogan: Come to the Hollow. On the back in a chicken scratch a message read: Fuck you buddy! I made it. Time to love living. Signed, Bill Dekker.
For a week I didn’t believe it. The postmark claimed the card came from Beecher’s Hollow, however, technology being what it is nowadays people are capable of faking a lot of things. A postcard didn’t prove shit in other words. Still, as time went by and no one heard from Bill I couldn’t help wondering if maybe he’d found the actual Beecher’s Hollow. Paradise may have existed after all.
Then about three months after receiving the postcard a package arrived on my doorstep. A note tapped to the top of the box had my name on it as well as instructions to open the box first. Expecting a prank of some kind I opened the box with caution, expecting a cloud of bees to come out, or a deer heart set on a spring to pounce at my face. Instead I found a pile of gritty ashes.
I read the note:
Your friend Bill is a fucking asshole. Here’s his ashes. Don’t worry, we beat him to death before burning him up. We‘re not inhuman. But he told us all about you and your cunt friends. If any of you ever come to Beecher’s Hollow you’ll get the same.
Not long afterward, I woke up in Beecher’s Hollow.