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Stories for the Long Silk Road

Monday, December 3, 2012

M.N. O'Brien: Mr. Bennett's Holes

Robert Bennett arrived in Jefferson some years ago, wearing a navy blue suit and round red spectacles. He had purchased a sizable plot of land of twelve square acres in the remote part of town, south of the railroad. Since his arrival, Mr. Bennett had caused quite a stir of gossip in the small New England community. It was not his high-end attire that caused the commotion, though it likely accumulated some ill will towards the man at first; the town was quite poor economically, and such a well-dressed man is bound to be observed with tempered speculation. The main concern of the town involved Mr. Bennett’s use of the land he acquired.

The plot of land was fertile and ideal for farming an impressive array of crops. As various planting seasons came and went without produce being grown from Mr. Bennett’s land, the townspeople came to wonder why a lucrative investment opportunity was going to waste. Then one day, Mr. Bennett walked out upon his land in denim overalls and red flannel shirt and started to dig.

The townspeople quieted down for a respectable amount of time, rationalizing that Mr. Bennett was finally going to put his land to good use. After several weeks had passed from any ideal growing season, Mr. Bennett continued to dig holes all over his property. Rumors spread across town as to the reasoning behind Mr. Bennett’s holes.

Theories grew across town from both sides of the tracks. Mrs. Williston hypothesized Mr. Bennett was digging holes for graves for a future apocalyptic war or famine. Harold Bridges son, Jack, thought Mr. Bennett was trying to dig for oil. Dr. Jamieson, the dentist, believed that Mr. Bennett was constructing a minefield. Some people thought Mr. Bennett was digging for fossils, others thought he was some sort of geologist, and conducting a study of the area, for some scientific reason. The townspeople became divided into schools of thought in regards to the purpose of Mr. Bennett’s holes.

Several more bold speculators inquired Mr. Bennett as to what he was doing. Jeff Higgins would stop by every few days, lean on the rickety old post-and-rail wooden fence that bordered Mr. Bennett’s land from the road and shouted inquiries and offers to aid him in his task. Higgins would jokingly ask Mr. Bennett if he was trying to get to China. All the inquiries went unanswered by Mr. Bennett. Though the townspeople were frustrated with the man, it was only when Mrs. Everett came home from the supermarket one day when anyone from the town felt threatened by Mr. Bennett’s peculiar actions.

Mrs. Everett had finished putting her groceries away and was about to call her son Bill to get ready for dinner when she spotted him in the backyard. Bill was digging a hole. When asked by his mother what purpose he had digging a hole in the backyard, Bill replied, “Why not?”

Soon, several of the children of began digging holes in their parents’ lawn. The trend caused such a significant outcry from members of both the church and the PTA, that the town had a meeting at City Hall to discuss a possible solution, and cast blame on the responsible party. Mr. Bennett was not in attendance.

Mrs. Howard, head of the PTA, told members of the council in a firm voice that Mr. Bennett was having a negative impact on Jefferson's youth, as well as Jefferson’s image by ruining the town’s aesthetic quality with a bunch of holes. Several uproarious citizens shouted in agreement. One person shouted the suggestion that the whole community go over to Mr. Bennett’s house and fill all his holes. This created laughter among the children who were in attendance, but the adults found the laughter more reason to dislike Mr. Bennett. Another concerned parent asked what right Mr. Bennett had, keeping his head underground all day.

After several more outbursts, the committee issued a cease and desist order to Mr. Bennett. The order forbid Mr. Bennett to dig holes that were not going to be used for crops. In addition, Mr. Bennett was to fill the existing holes on his property. The order was delivered to Mr. Bennett’s house through mail, as none of the local authorities wished to confront Mr. Bennett, as curious as they were to witness the man’s reaction.

Within two weeks of receiving the order, Mr. Bennett filled the holes on his property and sold it back at a fraction of the price. It was presumed that Mr. Bennett had returned to where he came, though it is unknown if he knew the reason why he was ordered to fill up his holes. The citizens couldn’t care less. The town of Jefferson returned to its life without any holes.

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Silk Road Mantra

by Suchoon Mo

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road

I go and go

from west to east

I go and go

from east to west

bury me not

in the lone Silk Road


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