Being a History of Redgunk, Mississippi, and its environs, including an Annotated Bibliography of Redgunk Tales, unpublished and published, in sundry and sordid zines, both funct and defunct.

At this writing, Redgunk, Mississippi, has a population of 400-some-odd people, a yellow dog with black, smelly lips, and a mummy. The mummy is real, even if he's just a mannequin from Macy's NY, wrapped up in knee bandages. He makes a nice metaphor for the kind of claim most folks in Redgunk have to reality — maybe most folks generally — and you can still go see him for fifty cents, down at Uncle Joe's Corner Liquor Store and Gas, in the Museum of Science and Egyptology. Redgunk is a place of swamp gas; slimy frogs and bumpy toads singing to stars; and real people, who, like the frogs, attain even in the midst of their most vulgar sounds something like the solemn and ringing, joyous and melancholy singing of the holy.

Here's a list or two of Apocalyptic tales from the South — Blake County, Cornstuff, Blue Falls, Felpham and Redgunk — with brief annotation. Some are published, some forthcoming and others someplace in the process.

1st Group

"How Boy Howdy Saved the World." The first Redgunk story, apparently never making it off a local zine's Xerox machine, and now scheduled to appear in Quantum Speculative Fiction.

Boy Howdy's birth was accompanied by enough auspicious signs to make the ashes of dead Tibetan lamas roll over in their urns, the final reincarnation of his father recently dead from an overdose of airline travel. This is the story of how he gets indoctrinated by Uncle Joe (founder of Uncle Joe's Liquor Store and Gas, including the Museum of Science and Egyptology); shoots up the Mummy; and thereby learns the secret of the Mummy's Brain.

"The Secret of the Mummy's Brain." Appeared in Realms of Fantasy and made the Tangent Suggested Reading List.

In the previous story, the secret of the Mummy's brain is that it is empty. He is really a mannequin from Macy's, New York, dressed up in knee bandages. In this story, he is the narrator. More important than the secret of his brain is — the secret of his heart.

"Lawn Mower Moe." Appeared in Realms of Fantasy.

Iva May Hart came home to find buzzards standing on the corpse of her husband down in the front part of her pasture. He was approximately 63.5% over ideal body weight; he chain smoked and drank Jack Daniels, while he mowed. But it was the wily, wild, wonderful Celtic spirit of the weeds that could not be kept back, which finally killed him off. That's why he returned to haunt the pasture as the ghost of Lawnmower Moe.

"The Rise and Fall of B. Ryan Howdy." The first of Redgunk to be published. In a small literary zine, Epiphany: A Journal of Literature, out of Fayetteville, AR: Spring, 1992.

There was a boy made of light, pure white light — until he slowed himself down and covered himself with the dark muck of the world and took off on tour with the Beergoozers, to appear on the jacket of their first beach album, "Surfin' Mamacita," as the now famous Cal the Coconut Man.

"Roadkill Fred." Look for it soon!

He could hit more skunks on the way to work on any given morning than most men could hit in their whole lives, no matter how hard they tried. He was chosen to be the one and only subject in the big cloning experiment over in the big glass facility north of town. Things went awry, though, when he fell in love with Opaline Redon, down at the Stop, Chat and Tuck. The question of whether a man's clones can share his personal scent, or his soul, becomes more than theoretical.

"The Miracle of Swamp Gas Jackson."

Swamp Gas Jackson was the greatest musician of all time, straight out of Redgunk, Mississippi. Miz Aletha Hamilton saw him at that massive Juneteenth festival down in the city park in Houston, Texas, when she went with Angeline to take Oscar Ray for his finally unsuccessful triple by-pass surgery. There will be a restless bone-man or two walking up and down County Road 63. Miz Aletha's sacrifice will put to rest the bones of her own man, and also will help placate the man who wove together the music of their souls, with his "I got the Wake Up in the Morning Blues."

"Trimalchio's Chamber Pot." Scheduled to appear in Pulp Eternity.

Frank Delashmit, who owned Frank's Place, was a classicist, motivated by the unexpurgated writings of the Greek and Roman authors, whom the world generally had pitifully expurgated. He even took to conjugating Latin in the outhouse out back. When a salesman offered him the opportunity to purchase the actual chamber pot of the Roman hedonist Trimalchio, his life changed. A century-old dramatic struggle between the spirit of Trimalchio's orgies and the spirit of transcendence sprang back to life.

"A God for Delphi."

Otis Onus Zebrowsky was about as famous as a man could get back in Blake County, because on any given day you could see that rear end of his sticking out over the tops of the telephone poles, hanging out of his Redgunk Cable Television uniform. But he learned a thing or two when he went to Greece: the power of something serpentine and subterranean below the classical temples, something primordial that manifested itself in even the most pathetic belly dancer, or in the lively explosion of new sensations in the kalamata olive, Greek cigarettes and ouzo. Take a half-witted cable tech from Redgunk, MS, set him in all his lack of golden proportions before the Sphinx at the omphalos of the world, and we get a god for Delphi.

"A Hermeneutic of Disrespect." Story under construction.

Not much longer than two or three weeks after Brother G. Kilpatrick Ryan's now famous Sermon on Disrespect (based on a literal understanding of a verse in the KJV of James, Chapter 2), the sight of people spitting on one another in the stre!ets of Redgunk was pretty common. The best of friends could be seen kidney-punching each other instead of shaking hands, and the Christian Ladies of the Auxiliary spread nasty rumors about each other without waiting for the proverbial back to turn. Because of the Disrespect message, the pews of the First Mount Zion Christian Church of Redgunk were packed to overflowing, and Vernon Potter — who was the custodian of the building — had to set up all the extra folding chairs the church had stored in the basement. Brother Ryan's discovery that the real Biblical message was to disrespect all persons turned out to be the biggest thing to hit Redgunk since the Dancing Mania of 1861. People from as far as Blue Falls started pouring into Redgunk on Sundays, and folks from Cornstuff, taking the preaching to heart, would come even on weekdays to live out the Word right there in Redgunk, coming down to spit on anybody they could. Whole delegations from some of the other churches would visit for a chili supper, say, and rip up the tablecloths and spill chili on the carpet in the sanctuary and not flush the toilets. It was the biggest revival of religion in the history of Blake County.

"Encounter in Redgunk." In Amazing Stories. Honorably Mentioned by Gardner Dozois.

Orange Decker wasn't sure how long he'd been on the UFO. He only knew that when he pushed the big red button, whatever he asked for materialized somehow before him. And a lot more. A story about the careless destruction of a man, forgiveness and redemption, Redgunk-bodhisattva style.

"Homesickness." In Amazing Stories.

I don't think when the aliens made him that they intended to bring Boy Howdy's duplicate back to earth. But they found a yearning in the pit of his stomach, a hurtful longing for home at a depth of desire that they hadn't expected and that their sensitive natures could hardly tolerate. They'd seen it before in all the earlier abductees; which is why they duplicated Boy Howdy instead of just yanking him clean off to some far away galaxy: pain in the rear, those earthlings with the homesickness.

"Harriet." Look for it very soon.

Howard Treble's little sister Harriet was abducted by a UFO — at least so said his parents when Howard was seven. But his mother kept looking up at those stars from the plain concrete steps of their mobile home and whispering, "Believe me, Howie, she's in a far, far better place now; a far, far better place than this earth could ever be." The truth has a lot more to do with how Howard grows up to be a Easy-Listening Singer in 2-bit lounges, and with what water-witching in Redgunk, MS, has to do with infinity.

"Meadow Song." In Realms of Fantasy. Electronic reproduction in Pulp Eternity On-Line. Was scheduled for a Year's Best audio collection (Greenberg/Rusch) which, unfortunately, went defunct.

You remember that the Beergoozers had their first hit in '63. It was a special sound, a generation of kids singin' "Surfin, Surfin Mamacita — " Now the bald old farts are having a Woodstock-like reunion, as an aging widower tries to pay his land-tax, and learns the Orphic power of music to set a spirit free — freed, again, for early morning coffee and walks in the woods with his cherished wife.

"Plain Female Seeks Nice Guy." Recently sold to Science Fiction Age.

The Redgunk romance game hits its height when you drop your tailgate and sit with your paper-bagged Jack Daniels, out on the strip or down in the parking lot of Burly Bob's Bar and Grill. Mina felt she might have outgrown that scene, so she wrote her first Personals ad, ever. What she got back was what you'd expect in Redgunk, where the swamp gas and the stars converge.

"A Dragon of Conspiracy." In Realms of Fantasy.

Bobby Moe Garvey's outhouse was silhouetted and permanently transfixed by the tangle of kudzu plants that welled up from behind his tar paper shack there past the edge of Miz Opaline Redon's field of ratty cotton, two miles southeast of Redgunk. It was there that he conjured a metaphysics of paranoia (refusing to become part of the city water/sewage system) and countless problems of heightened sentience, while denying and neglecting his daughter, a pregnant prostitute down at Burly Bob's Bar and Grill. It is there that he weaves together a sewer-dragon of despair and fear and, finally, forgiveness.

"Unicorn Stew." In Realms of Fantasy.

Once upon a time a unicorn ran through the black kudzuey woods. Drunken hunters, without knowing why, intentionally missed their 6-point bucks and went home empty-handed for the first time in their hunting-lives. That boy with his hand under his girlfriend's pink sweater stopped inching his fingers upward, withdrew them and, instead, caressed her face with the strange and awesome gentleness he now felt for her for the first time. Some anonymous artist living in the woods off of County 63, who painted those unicorn faces on the black velvet tapestries that still sell at Uncle Joe's Corner Liquor Store and Gas for $5.95, without knowing she had been passed by a real unicorn and had breathed in the crystal-clear air of his passing, she painted a unicorn face on the velvet that this time she could not bring herself to sell, that, indeed, would be priceless if anyone else ever saw it, though no one would. And at the unicorn's presence, the wild geese honked across the sky with a celebratory passion from their fast moving V, and the kudzu itself twittered in the unicorn-breeze, and children — not only children — lying in their gentle nap-consciousness in the curtain-darkened rooms of their mobile homes, heard the clippity-clippity-clippity of the hooves rushing by, not really touching the earth, and they went to sleep only to wake up some years later as great men, great women, full of a kind of genius that was somehow beyond them and yet simultaneously identical to their true nature, artists and peacemakers and scholars in spite of their upbringings and failings, in the Consolidated Schools of Blake County and in Redgunk, Mississippi.

Group 2.

These stories are Redgunk tales, too, published or in-progress, though they each have a slightly different flavor than those in group one. If you're interested in hearing more, just drop me a line.

  • Wizards of Communication
  • Andrea Trulene
  • Camera Chiara
  • Cloud Run
  • Like Dreams of Eagle Fire
  • Lizard Queen
  • Peach Boy
  • Redgunk, Texas (recent sale to LC-39)
  • Resurrecting Priapus
  • The Shadow out of Redgunk
  • Lichen Theology
  • Brother Absalom's Devil
  • The Actual History of his Skin

And always more.......Peace, from Redgunk.

Redgunk Tales, Invisible Cities Press, May 2001