Great-Grandpa Ned

Alan P. Scott - Fictions

an Appalachian holler horror story

We were talking about hereditary diseases in our families, just the normal kind of conversation young newlyweds have. After we'd gone through hypertension (maybe), diabetes (not) and arthritis (probably later), I couldn't avoid it any longer. I had to tell her about Great-Grandpa Ned.

"There's... a defect. Seems to skip a couple of generations at a time.

"Every now and then, a child is born into our family with thick green, scaly skin and the beginnings of a second head on his shoulders. The last one I know of was my Great-Grandpa Ned."

She kept washing dishes. I plowed on.

"Yeah, he was a wild one. A rebel. Got himself killed young."

"Then where did your grandparents come from?"

"We start 'em young in West Virginia. G'Grandpa Ned got Great-Grandma Pike pregnant when he was twelve--he always did have a way with the ladies, despite bein' green--and moved in with her when he got to be a teenager. Took good care of her and the kids, too, working in the coal mines, goin' down down...

"Well, one time there was a strike on, and G'Grandpa Ned was up a hillside near the head of a mineshaft sunning himself on a rock, just mindin' his own business. One of the Pinkertons up from Florida mistook him for an alligator and shot him."

She looked at me skeptically.

"Surely you don't believe that. This stuff is all from second- and third-hand tales your relatives tell at reunions. You never actually met the man."

"No," I replied, "but I've seen the luggage."

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