“Tennessee Nathan and the Ghost of Dragon Roost Road” Short Story

A/N: To be honest, this piece was written entirely as a joke. In fact, I had a hard time taking myself seriously with every word I put on the page. My good friend told me a “creepy” story the other night, which instantly provided inspiration for the title. From there, well, the rest is history. This piece is inspired by and dedicated to my old and dear friend, Tennessee Nathan Amerman. Dragon Roost Road is a fictional place, and somewhat an inside joke, but was the perfect setting for a ghostly misadventure.

“Tennessee Nathan” turned out to be quite the farce. I just needed an exercise of my own to do between editing jobs that didn’t involve getting too immersed in one of my major projects. It was silly and absurd, but I had fun. So why not share it? And who knows? Maybe the character, along with his trusty whip and hat, will make another goofy appearance somewhere down the line.


Tennessee Nathan was not afraid of things that go bump in the night. In fact, when he first heard the sound from the woods, he was immediately on the alert for adventure. He only paused before investigating to retrieve his trusty hat – given to him by an old friend – and his trusty whip – that had itself become an old friend.

The woods along Dragon Roost Road clustered together like a gossiping clique. They whispered otherworldly words amongst themselves and harbored shadowy secrets. Trying to peer through the shadows only made evident more shadows. Even straining his eyes, Tennessee Nathan could see no source for the strange sound.

A twig snapped loudly underfoot, and he winced at the betrayal of his position. The rustling grew louder, more agitated. Cautiously, his grip tightened on the coiled whip at his side and he stepped further into the trees. The rustling sounded uncomfortably like the shuffling of feet. Of course, there was always the chance that this could just be an average animal: rabbit, raccoon, fox. The daredevil in Tennessee Nathan hoped it would be more.

Suddenly, the shuffling stopped. Tennessee Nathan stopped with it. When there was no sound for the next few moments, he inched forward again. The animal loomed up out of the darkened brush before him. This was no ordinary woodland animal; this was a beast.

The hulking beast let out a spine-shaking roar and glared down at where Tennessee Nathan stood. It’s eyes burned the red of dying coals. It’s humped back was lined with jagged spines. It was a monster straight from the most horrid of nightmares.

Without further hesitation, the beast swung a wicked clawed hand toward Tennessee Nathan. He threw his whole body into a dodge, rolling away through the detritus. As he sprung to his feet, he reached for his whip, only to find that it was gone. Panicked, he looked around. There it lay in the rotting leaves where he had stood moments before. And there beside his trusty whip was his trusty hat.

“Confound it,” Tennessee Nathan muttered.

The beast’s growl rumbled in it’s caged chest, furious that Tennessee Nathan had avoiding it’s attack. Tennessee Nathan was no stranger to tense situations. Using his honed adventuring mind, he fumbled to find something in the woods around him to use as a weapon. He wandering hands clasped on a think branch and, with a handsome feat of strength, he ripped the branch free.

With a grunt, he hurled the branch at the beast. The wood passed right through the monster’s head, just between the eyes. Of course, it was a ghost beast. What else was to be expected in the woods this late at night?

Thankfully, his whip was also endowed with ancient magic. If only he could reach it.

The beast swung another large fist at Tennessee Nathan. If the adventurer had any window of opportunity, it was now. He spun from the massive hand, then launched himself above the beast’s arm. Tennessee Nathan recovered in a roll mere feet from the twisted claws.

Before the monster could move – it’s reflexes were absurdly slow –Tennessee Nathan yanked the whip from where it lay on the ground, cracking it once to show he meant business. Then, casually, he stooped to pick up the hat, placing it fluidly on his head. Now he was ready.

With the trained, elegant grace of an expert whip-wielder, he cracked the weapon around his head, sending sounds like gunshots echoing through the trees. The trees ceased their whispering. Even the shadows turned to watch the events unfold.

With a mighty snap of his wrist, he sent the whip flying forward. It curled around the creatures arm and pulled tight. As Tennessee Nathan pulled, the whip began to glow. As the whip began to glow, it also began to sever the beasts ghostly flesh. The arm tore off and vanished into a cloud of ethereal smoke.

The beast bent to Tennessee Nathan’s height and roared, pained and agitated. He looked like he meant to charge Tennessee Nathan in a final show of strength. The gust of air from the roar alone almost knocked Tennessee Nathan off his feet. It certainly knocked the hat off his head. With a cluck of his tongue, Tennessee Nathan commanded the whip to return to him, only to send it flying back towards the monsters neck. It only wrapped once, but once was enough.

As Nathan yanked back on the whip, the ghostly beast exploded into purple smoke that dissipated into the shadows. A gasp echoed from the trees. Tennessee Nathan bent down to pick up his hat. Patiently, he dusted off the dead leaves from the brim. Then he rolled he hat back where it belonged and walked casually back to the house, undeterred by any other malicious creatures of the night.

No, Tennessee Nathan did not fear things that go bump in the night. Things that go bump in the night fear him.

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#hashtagforeverything – RGADC

There was a time when the hashtag was still merely a pound sign.  Now though, hashtags permeate the minds of the millennial generation. Not only do they appear on phone screens, but they also worm their way into conversation. I’d say I think of them because I’m a social media intern, but that’s not really true. There’s just a #hashtagforeverything.

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Here are some highlighted hashtags from the trip so far:

#ShouldaGoneWithGaston

  • This is my personal favorite, and the hashtag I use by far the most frequently. My friend and I were on the way back from Evita on the metro when a handsome man walked up to us and asked for the bathroom. Of course, there was no bathroom, so he stayed and talked to us while we waited fifteen minutes for the next train. His name was Gaston, he was Chilean, and he spent a lot of time trying to persuade us to go dancing with him. But on a Thursday night after a show with work on Friday? I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I don’t know what was wrong with me. I’m supposed to make the most of this time in my life; I’m supposed to go out dancing with a hot Chilean man on a Thursday night if I have the chance. But I didn’t because I wanted to sleep. I regretted it as soon as I got home. Still think I #shouldago    newithgaston.

#AOTUSlol

  • AOTUS = Archivist of the United States, a position appointed by the President. The current Archivist is David Ferriero, and he’s basically in charge of everything Archives. He also makes really good pancakes (with chocolate chips). He’s kind of like our governmental celebrity here. Every now and then he’ll walk past our desks or our education center and we’ll all exchange looks and make a big fuss over the AOTUS. “He waved at me!” etc. The actual hashtag though came from a misread text but it felt fitting. #aotuslol

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(That one time the AOTUS made us breakfast. It was such an important moment.)

#TheBradyBunch

  • Tier 1, as my friend group jokingly calls each other, has been hanging out since week one. It’s a little bit of an odd concoction of friends, and we willingly adopt anyone who comes our way, so our numbers fluctuate a lot. But it’s a comfortable friend group and feels so natural. Early on in our DC stay, we were eating at a hole-in-the-wall taqueria when a man, who we suspect may have been homeless, came up to us and told us “we looked like the f—ing Brady Bunch.” He proceeded to name us all after the characters and never asked our actual names. I was Carol Brady and my lovely friend Joachim was deemed my Mike. For about thirty minutes he just stayed and told us story after story, suggesting bars, and only ever calling us by our Brady Bunch names. I could barely understand him, but it was one of the most entertaining and strange encounters I have ever had. We never saw him again, but we all walked away afterward happily singing The Brady Bunch theme song. “That’s the way we became #thebradybunch!”

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(Some of the “Brady Bunch” [Tier 1] at Halloween. I’m trying not to smile, since it messed up my makeup, but that’s really hard when you’re having fun.)

#JournalLikeJefferson

  • Did you know Jefferson journaled daily about the weather conditions? Yeah, well we didn’t either, but our boss at the Archives is a wealth of information. He wrote the weather in his journal consistently and continuously. For fifty years. He recorded and studied meteorology  That’s commitment. Have a daily habit? Really, I need to write more every day. A set word count or the like. Maybe I’ll finally start the habit and #journallikejefferson.

#InternHell

  • There are a couple things we’ve been warned not to do as interns, primarily to never think any job is below us. However, if any of us mess up, we joke that we are going to #internhell. “Was that you who jammed the printer? #internhell.” “Don’t fall asleep on the job. #internhell.” You get the idea. Some interns in the program have really bad experiences, but our supervisors are very understanding and forgiving. So, thankfully, #internhell remains a joke alone.

#TexasTakeOver

We’re contagious. Apparently. A Texan in DC is hilarious to begin with. We are fascinated every time it rains. I’m praying to see at least one snow here. The changing leaves are mesmerizing, and apparently they aren’t even as beautiful here as they are other places. We also rub our “y’all”s off on the people around us. Honestly, I think I use it more now that I’m away from Texas than I did before. It’s as if I’m honoring my home by sticking to my “y’all”s. Now our friends have caught themselves on a y’all every now and then. We make a grand joke about “y’all” scaring strangers away. We just can’t help it. It’s almost like we get into their heads. It’s a full-out #texastakeover!

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(But really, look at those leaves. Everything turns brown so fast in Texas.)

Truth be told, I really am missing Texas right now. I will desperately miss DC when I leave, since I’ve really fallen in love with living in this city. But I’m missing my home – especially in the midst of NaNoWriMo when I want so badly to be writing with everyone there. Of course, I know once I get there, I’ll miss everyone here, like #thebradybunch. It’s sad to have one such wonderful, but busy, semester, and then see everyone disperse at the end of it. Now there’s only a month left, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I don’t want my time here to end, but I also can’t wait to be home. This semester has been incredible, but there is only so much time left to it.

So I’ll leave you with one more hashtag that’s both sad and hopeful: #behomesoon.

“That of the Moon” Short Story

So this has nothing to do with D.C. except in that I wrote it on the plane ride here. It is inspired by and dedicated to my good friend, Nick Koontz. Much love goes to him from up here, and I’ll be so glad to see him again in December. While I had said half-jokingly that I was going to write him a short story, it ended up being such a fun writing exercise so I’m glad I did it. Though I hope the piteous amount of sleep I got before the flight doesn’t affect the quality of the piece. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to leave a review!


The silver of his hair was that of the moon. Though the silver disk never dropped below the surface of the ocean, he’d long stared at it and admired it’s might. The ocean obeyed the moon, and so did he. There was an awesome power the moon possessed that moved the waves toward shore and churned the currents in the depths of the sea. Every night he glimpsed it, he reached out his hand to touch the hanging medallion, but it always eluded his fingertips.

Air stung harshly against his gills, even on the peaceful nights like these. His trips to the surface were few, far between, and only to witness the glory of the night sky. The sounds were different up here too. Instead of muffled noises of an underwater world, this side of the sea was stark and clear. Waves danced against each other with quiet splashes of delight, making him long to join them. Once, he’d even heard the tremendous crash of thunder on a stormy night. Though, admittedly, it had terrified him then, he reveled in the memory now.

The world above held little appeal for him. Water was his comfort; when it enveloped him, he felt at home. He put up with the stinging air, but he hated it. He admired the sounds, but no more than the familiar song he heard under the sea. No, the only reason he visited the sky at all was to see the glorious moon.

With his face upturned, he offered a short prayer. His hopes were not grand, his faith not sure, but that didn’t matter. The moon would listen, and that alone was enough. Webbed fingers brushed his lips and raised the kiss in farewell to the sky, the waves, and his moon. With a last forced breath, he combed his hand back through his silver hair and dove again beneath the black.


Love you, Nick! Hope you liked it! Stay genuine!

Bubble Shows – RGAT

While showing me several video clips on YouTube, my Chinese friend Karen asked me if I like bubble shows.

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Lately, she’s been showing me all of her favorite Thai, Chinese, and Taiwanese dramas and introducing me to some of the actors she likes.

“You think he’s cute, yeah?” she’ll ask.

Of course, I’ll agree. It’s hard to argue that some of these men are very attractive. I’m not gonna argue if a handsome Asian man is walking around without his shirt on. (Sorry, I’m single. No regrets.) Every time I admit the man is attractive, she’ll tell me, “You have yellow fever, huh?” Sure, Karen. I have yellow fever. Really, I just think attractive men are attractive men.

I digress. Once I began to think about the clips she’d showed me so far and she hesitantly added the word “opera,” I realized what she meant.

“Soap opera!” Karen and I both died laughing when we realized the misunderstanding.

It’s been amazing to get to know all of the interns that I didn’t know before the trip. Especially the foreign ones. Karen is Chinese, Mit is Malaysian, and Mahya is Japanese. P’Ball and Na are both Thai, though Ball isn’t exactly an intern. We just all live together in the same building. Which is good and bad.

It’s like having a roommate or, I suppose, a spouse. There’s always someone who leaves the dumplings out on the counter, or doesn’t refill the toilet paper when they use the last of it, or something, et cetera, et cetera. (Please enjoy that King and I reference. I am in Thailand, after all.) We’re also getting closer and closer to each other. We’re enjoying the bonding time we have and growing into our spiritual gifts. We take silly pictures and have inside jokes (especially when Karen says something hilarious, like “bubble shows”). We are all working together for the service of others.

However, two months is a long time to be with a select group of people. We’ve only gone two weeks. Before I came overseas, my dad wrote me a letter that reminded me 5+ times to avoid drama. It seemed like an easy request, and I still think it is entirely possible. I’ve just begun to realize that traveling so far from home can bring out unseen characteristics in others. This is good! You get to know all of their traits! But it can also lead to tension over time when traits don’t coincide well.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s drama among the interns. They may read this and think, “What the heck, Renee?” But that’s not what I mean. This is more of a post about thoughtful prevention. I just know that drama can tear a close knit group apart in seconds flat and I don’t want any of us to feel like we’re stuck in the middle of a bubble show. We head out to displacement camps in Mae Hong Son tomorrow and will basically be roughing it for four days. Not to mention, cramming 17 people and their luggage in to a truck for a trip through the mountains. These are the exact conditions that make for a brilliant bubble show.

Bubble shows are hilarious to watch: tense, overdramatic, and often intriguing. Real life drama, on the other hand, can quickly be devastating. This intern team has a positive purpose in Chiang Mai and should not be brought down by negativity even for a moment. We have too much to do to waste any time bickering. We have too many blessings to spend time complaining. We are on an adventure together and need to maintain our joy, camaraderie, and friendship.

Drama always has negative consequences. I hope we continue to stay away from real life bubble shows.