You’d think, by now, I’d outgrown my fascination with holes. Nope. On the outside I may be a week away from turning sixty-five, but inside I’m still that kid who spent seven magical years growing up on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo — a skinny little kid who loves to find holes in nature.

But finding a hole is only the start. The real fun comes from discovering who, or what, lives deep inside. Not knowing is exciting, but finding out can be even more so … especially (and trust me on this one) if you wake up the occupant who’ll be unhappy you did. I’ll explain.

My favorite holes to find outside are the large, dark, scary-looking ones. Way back on Flamingo, we learned the things that make a home in such a large hole are usually dangerous and don’t like getting poked by sticks held by little boys. That’s why the act of poking was always the result of one of us being on the wrong end of a Double Dog Dare. And, if you grew up on Flamingo, refusing such a dare was impossible.

Last weekend, while cutting the grass at our house, I looked over into the woods, pausing for a moment to take a picture of the way the early morning sunlight was being filtered by tree limbs. It turned out to be a really cool picture and once enlarged will make a fine addition to our collection. But this story isn’t about our ever-growing display of pictures on our living room walls. This story is about holes.

Following the rays to their final destination, I spotted something I’d not seen before: a freshly dug hole. Last time I was this excited about such a large, dark, scary-looking hole was when my three brothers and I found one at the edge of the Haunted Forest back on Flamingo.

The poking of what was asleep inside with a foot-long stick didn’t go well. Looking down at the faded scar on my left hand, I remembered who was on the wrong end of the Double Dog Dare that day and who had to poke the hole and the beast that was lying asleep within.

Now, older and wiser, I can just walk away and let the scary hole be. I’ve matured. No longer would I poke any holes found with a foot-long stick. Since being a kid on Flamingo Street, I know how to be safe. Safe and mature, these were the thoughts I had while searching under the trees in our back yard.

Finally, I found a suitable three-foot-long stick.

Each time I’ve retold the events of what happened next, my injuries have gotten worse and the monster living in that scary-looking hole in our back yard has gotten bigger. Here are the lessons learned from my hole poking experience last weekend.

First, a three-foot-long stick isn’t nearly long enough for large hole poking.

Second, known to be nocturnal animals, possums will wake up in a terrible mood when poked with a stick in the middle of the day. Special note to Readers: possums are fast climbers and excellent jumpers. They can climb up a three-foot-long poking stick and jump faster than you can scream, turn around, and run away.

Third, no one at the emergency room has any sympathy for a sixty-five-year-old man who was injured from falling while running away after he’s poked an unknown thing in a big scary hole. Besides, everyone knows that hole-poking is an activity for little kids.

What was the most important thing I learned last weekend? If you’re going do some hole-poking, a foot-long or even a three-foot-long stick will not do.

Next time, I’m gonna use a four-foot stick.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]


  1. You do know that the saying “I wouldn’t touch that with a 10 foot pole” exists for a reason, right? If you’re going to keep poking sticks into holes…you need at least a 12 foot pole.

    Loved your story!