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My First Foray in Serial Longform Journalism Part One

A Survey of Rural American Summer Festivals

            Every year, around late August, the small town of Borris, located 50 miles West of Uttica, holds quite possibly the most interesting festival in America called ‘Chxcktzz Fest’. Spoken aloud it resembles the gutteral fricatives of Yiddish or Klingon. The residents of Borris, however, pronounce it by rubbing their bare legs together, which emits an eerie hollow rattle, then their eyes recede into their sockets. Then small hands reach out of the sockets and grab my hair and I wake up and it’s late evening and my clothes are gone.

            The people of Borris form an insular nucleus within the sprawling farmland of upstate New York. Only one highway leads in and out, so newcomers are few and far between. But when the Chxctzz Fest banners are raised above the main street, Borris’ population almost doubles. As such, a hotel industry thrives in the peripheries of the town. I had a room at a Hilton there, but I’m staying in the basement of a local now, I guess. I can’t tell because it’s pitch black and I’m chained to a brick wall. The dirt floor is littered with open Mason Jars.

            To pass the time and to maintain my mental acuity in the darkness, I write dirty limericks. To sustain my body I lick away at the inside of the Mason Jars that jangle at my feet; morsels of peaches, rhubarb and strawberries stoke my bodily furnace. I find an unopened jar, heavy with fruit. I open it and reach in and pull out a small pickle, maybe. At that moment the basement door opens and daylight pierces my eyes and reveals my jar of pickles to be a jar of human fingers. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess, so I eat my snack.

            I’m led thusly upstairs by captor, who turns out to be the proprieter of a bed and breakfast, lovingly furnished, stylistically petrified from the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder. A cross-stitching hangs on the wall espousing an unfamiliar country edict, ‘There’s no place like Alpha Centauri’. I ask my captor what this means, but I can’t hear him over the chirping of grasshoppers that spill from his mouth.

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