THE WAY IT WENT DOWN: WATER TOWN

There are entire towns under water, there since the thirties, down, drowned, in the dark. I grew up on the lake next to one and never knew it. Grandy told me, out at his trailer, after his fourth bottle was chucked and smashed at the tin wall covered in chicken wire. About Danvers and the Donnels, and the devil.

Danvers lake was called Danvers Arkansas back in the day. Then the WPA showed up and blocked the Tuft river with the dam. The Donnels ran booze, and guns before that and had a bunch of money stashed in the town. Gold. Silver. That was the rumor. Anyhow, the sheriff buddied up with the Feds and ripped up a bunch of the town as it was evacuated, all the while waiting to scoop up the Donnels if they showed. They didn't. And the sheriff didn't find shit.  

The town flooded, treasure and all.

Before the war, Tommy Donnel drowned out there, in the lake; looking for his gold. His brother Taft quit the town and joined up and spent three years in some Pacific hellhole. He come back and built a shack out on the lake. I grew up looking at that tar shack from my window. I'd see the man who lived there from time to time. Strange. Big and gangly and without age. Bald and slick like a seal.

He'd swim out there in the lake, and dive. I remember this clear. He's dive and not come up for minutes. Always in the same place. Straight across from my house. Gold down there in the dark, waiting. 

Once Taft Donnel shook his fist at my dad when he was a boy, and grandy went out there with a shotgun and had words. Grandy says Donnel lost it in the Pacific. That he was soft. Donnel told him the devil was named TULU and that his time was at hand. Nothing could stop the devil who would work his ways on him.

Taft Donnel died like he lived, drinking paint thinner. Years later, when I was like, ten, they found him. The county buried him. His shack was knocked flat by Moe's pick-up truck and dragged off. No great loss.

I dream now about spires and doorways and empty windows alive with fish. Of murky water floating in what were once kitchens. Winding staircases that lead up to, but never reach, open air. Green waving plants growing from the peaks of roofs like waving hands, barely touched by dim green light. Walls and boxes and safes, filled with gold in the black.

I can hold my breath a long time now.