The Lid of Hell

Joseph Fazio


In the backyard, in the middle of a mound, there was an iron lid on hinges. One day, the tiny curly-haired boy from around the corner came over. He had a whiny way of speaking and occasionally shat his pants. We were often cruel to him for these reasons and others (his father was belligerent, his mother was confined to a wheelchair, and so forth). We called him Little Professor because of his thick black eyeglasses.

"What's that?" he asked.

"It's the lid of hell," we answered.

Little Professor bent low and peered into the dark hole. "It's smells awful."

"It's hell," we said, "what do you think?"

"There's no such thing," Little Professor said.

"How do you know?"

"My father told me."

"Your father's an asshole."

He spit in our faces then. It got in our mouths. Poison. We punched Little Professor in the ear, held open the lid, and shoved him into the hole. Little Professor fell with a splash. He sloshed beneath the earth and let out a shrill, rattling scream, as a police whistle might make.

"All right, already, shut up." We propped up the lid with a stick.

We rummaged in the garage but couldn't find any rope. There wasn't any in the basement either. In the kitchen, we stopped for a drink of fruit punch and ate the remains of a stale bag of potato chips. Then we had an idea: we could use a garden hose instead of a rope. We unscrewed the green rubber hose from the spigot on the front of the house and dragged it into the back yard. The lid had fallen shut. All was quiet. The end of the hose dripped old water, very warm.