Saturday, October 4, 2008


Let's change things up here and try something new. I have this story that has literally been sitting in this blog's draft folder for over a year and a half. It's been sitting there so long in fact that I can't really remember just where I was going with this, other than the near destruction of a small Illinois town and that the protagonist was to be a police-dispatcher.

At any rate, take a gander at the thing and give me an idea somewhere just this side of absurd, as to where you think this thing should go. Hell, if you feel like it, grab the reins yourself and turn this thing into a piece of flash fiction-


Some say it takes a village to raise a child and in the case of Lodzes, it took the whole village getting burned down and built back up again. The family surname, Lodz is pronounced 'Lüj and it almost sounds like the downhill sled.

Yet as soon as the first Lodzes arrived in Bluff Creek, Illinois back in 1875, they were called Loads and they lived up to the name, only it was the village that left carrying the burden. They didn't take kindly to compliments and they didn't handle their liquor well. As witnessed in 1876 when during a celebration of America's centennial, just two small cups of potato vodka caused Danuta Lodz to mistake a compliment pertaining to her lips for something else altogether. She flung a kerosene lamp at her would-be paramour and the rest was infamy.

In the space of the next thirteen years, the town was built up and burned down again...twice. Neither times were the fault of the Lodzes. The first fire was actually the fault of a carpenter from Wisconsin that fell asleep while smoking and the second was most likely sparked by grain dust. Yet, with the Great Fire of Chicago so fresh in every one's minds, they became the new "O'Learys."

The town was virtually inhospitable to them and the then patriarch, Aleksy, wanted to move the family out, right then, and there. Knowing that they were pariahs, Aleksy knew that no one would offer the family a fair share for the property in town that they owned, nor would they get a decent deal for the family farm. Aleksy and the family had no choice but to tough it out.

Eventually the Lodzes convinced the Janiaks, a small merchant family from Aurora, to set up a general store. This was in response to the Bluff Creek retailers, whom began to charge an exorbitant rate for the most basic stuffs, in an effort to drive the Lodzes away.

Here it was, a new century around the corner and the town was reverting to feudal states. The Poles who didn't want to be associated the Lodz-Janiak faction, bonded with the Germans and Russians as if the three countries were somehow always best of friends. The Lodz-Janiak faction had taken up a small, but equal part of the town and the irony was not lost on the town's lone Black family who had just fled Louisiana over discrimination and Jim Crow laws, for Bluff Creek.

The Janiaks are where I come in. Shunned by Bluff Creek and all the surrounding towns for doing business with the Lodzes, we bonded with and eventually married into that family. A decade later during the waning days of "the war to end all wars" that decimated two-thirds of the town's male population, all was most. My great-great grandfather Filip Janiak married Danuta Lodz's granddaughter, Karol and this new union moved to the outskirts of town.

Karol's mother felt ashamed for what happened and she raised Karol to believe that the Lodz family name was a curse. Filip felt the same, so their offspring and their following generations were polite strangers to the Lodz-Janiak clan. They worshipped together, celebrated a Christmas or Thanksgiving here or there, but with all the warmth and conviction of a neighbor that you visit on occasion...