The Debt
fiction by Edward Karshner

Southern Appalachia Ohio
July 1953

The storm Eli had followed since leaving Oberlin seemed below him, now, as he made his way down US Route 23 South. And that gave him pause because he was always looking for signs and wonders. And this twisting of space gave him the feeling he was somewhere he shouldn’t be. So, he kept his eyes peeled for County Road 14. 

Just as the rain came, he saw the marker and left the stretch of good road for what was little more than a dirt farm lane. He ran his Harley-Davidson Liberator until the back wheel slid in the greasy clay mud. Eli dropped his left foot to avoid a slide and stopped. From the saddle bags, he took out the surplus poncho and pulled it on. He’d have to push the nearly six-hundred-pound motorcycle up the muddy lane. So, he did until the bike sunk. Then, pulled until the tires popped free. Push and pull. Again and again as the rain fell harder.

He squinted, wiping his goggles with the muddy back of his hand. A weak light swung up ahead in the wind that whispered through the corn. Eli dragged the bike forward, to a long, sloped farmhouse. He put down the kickstand glad to be free of the burden. 

Eli’s first thought was the dry warmth of the barn behind him. Second, was wondering over who had racked the shotgun from the front porch. He turned slowly, hands up. In the pale haint light, he couldn’t make out who held the shotgun he’d heard. 

“I seem to be in need of help,” Eli said. And that wasn’t a lie. He was soaked to his core. His muscles ached and his Colt was field stripped and wrapped in oilcloth in the Liberator’s toolbox. 

“No help for the likes of you,” the male voice from the porch said. 

Eli understood how this looked. A stranger calling in the middle of the night, in the middle of a downpour. 

“I’m lost. Liked to be drowned. I was hoping to seek refuge in your barn until the rain lets up. I can pay,” Eli said. “I ain’t got much. But I can pay.” 

The voice from the porch said, “What are you doing out here?

“I’m looking for the family of a friend. The Robintettes. Like I said, the rain came. I’m lost,” Eli yelled over the rain pounding the tin roof. 

The voice from the porch said, “Who are you?”

“Name’s Eli Sturdahl. 

“Why you looking for…” The question was interrupted by another voice. 

A woman.

“What’s your name?” she said.


“Put down the gun, RJ,” she said. “Mister, you can make use of the barn until morning. But mind yourself. Don’t make me regret my hospitality,” she said.

“No, ma’am. Of course. I’m blessed by your hospitality. Thank you,” Eli said. His neck muscles relaxed as the blurry forms melted into the dark behind the haint light. 

Eli had anticipated the smell and warmth of animals in the barn. But the stalls were empty. The air cold and stale. But it was dry. Parking his Liberator by the door, he hung his poncho on a nail. He wondered about the people who owned this barn, as he stripped out of his wet clothes, and pulled on a dry pair of dungarees and a sweatshirt. But he was tired. He put his canvas tarp on the dirt floor, unrolled and wrapped himself up in his wool sleeping bag. Answers could wait until morning.

Eli woke early and took to cleaning himself. He’d just finished a dry shave when the barn door opened. He quickly pulled on his sweatshirt. The young man in the door, Eli figured him to be around fifteen, seemed relieved to have the Liberator as a barrier as he shifted the twenty gauge to his other hand. 

“Mom says you’re welcome to coffee by the fire,” he said. 

Eli followed the young man outside and took a seat at the fire pit. 

The woman sitting in the other chair, the fire between them, was a little older than Eli, maybe thirties, her hair tucked up in a floral head-wrap. 

She offered him a mug of coffee. 

“I apologize for our rudeness last night. We’ve been a bit jumpy as of late and you kinda 
snuck up on us.” 

“’Better safe than sorry,’ my mom says.” Eli took a drink of the coffee. He could still feel the cold in his bones.

The woman smiled.

Eli said, “I should introduce myself again. My name’s Eli Sturdahl,”

“I know who you are. I got your letters. My name’s Dott Robinette. That,” she motioned to the teenager on the porch, “is my boy, RJ—Randall Junior.”

RJ still cradled the shotgun and Eli allowed him that vigilance. 

“You look like your Pa,” Eli said.

RJ spit.  

Dott pursed her lips.

“What can we do for you?” Dott said.

Eli had practiced this moment in his head for nearly three years. Said the words to himself in the dormitory showers. Now, the practiced cadence was there. The words were not.

“I owe your husband a debt. And I apologize for taking so long. I got hung up at school. But since I was passing through on my way to see my parents, I thought I’d stop and see if I can’t make amends,” Eli said. 

“You a student?” RJ said. “You look old.” 

Eli laughed. 

“I’m a seminary student. Studying to be a minister,” Eli said.

Dott and RJ looked at each other. RJ looked at the Liberator. 

“A preacher?” RJ said. 

Eli had yet managed to square who he was trying to become with who he had been. 

“A lay pastor, for now,” Eli said.

Head to one side, like she was working a puzzle, Dott drew long, crossed lines in the dirt with the fire stick. She stared across the fire at Eli.

“Well, reverend,” she said.

“Please, Eli,” he said. 

Dott stood up.

“Pastor, you are free to join us for breakfast if you want,” she said. 

Eli sat at the butcherblock table in the center of the kitchen. The oak top was worn smooth, almost like a polish, by years of good use. He remembered something his grandma had said, “A worn thing is a useful thing,” she’d say.

RJ stood by the door with his back to the wall, the scatter gun tucked under his arm. Eli smiled to reassure him while Dott fried eggs and onions in a cast iron skillet. 

“Would you like to join me for coffee, Mr. RJ?” Eli said.

RJ looked at the floor. “I’m good here.” 

There was a cough and a bang from upstairs. Eli jumped, looked at RJ, then looked up. 

“My daughter Linda. She’s upstairs sick,” Dott said.

Eli put down his coffee. 

“Don’t know what it is. Doctor from town says a ‘wasting disease.’” Dott said.

RJ said, “She has crazy dreams. Wakes up mid-day spouting foolishness.”

“A fever?” Eli said.

“Had a doctor from Zanesville come over. He’s never seen anything like it. No money for a Columbus doctor. So, we pray. That’s all we got left,” Dott said.

“Would you like if I prayed over her?” Eli said. “If you think it might help, I’d be proud to.” 

Dott and RJ exchanged looks. 

“I reckon it couldn’t hurt,” Dott said. “Follow me then.” 

Through the kitchen they took the back stairs behind the massive cast iron stove. The girl’s room was at the top of the stairs. And she was just a girl, not more than twelve. Linda was drawn and pale. Her dark curls plastered to her forehead. It was the smell. Eli knew it. From the war. Sweat and the smell of a body stressed beyond what was normal.

Eli pulled up a chair by the bedside and put his hand on her slight, boney forearm. Her skin dry and thin like an onion. A long, angry welt ran down the side of her face. 

“What’s this?” Eli said. 

“The doctor said it’s hives. I don’t know. Nothing seems to work. Always looks worse of a morning,” Dott said.

Eli started with the Lord’s Prayer, a solid context. As the words started, rote memorization lulled him into a fluid memory of words, feelings, acts. The welt on Linda’s face worked through his memories. His granny again. Her words that sometimes you needed something older than Jesus to cure an evil older than the Bible. The Long Forgotten Friend moved through his memory. He could see lines and phrases. Prayers. Charms.

The words came from his mouth, “Beneath thy guardianship I am safe against all tempests and all enemies.” 

Linda’s eyes opened and she grabbed Eli’s hand. 

“Owens. Owens rides me all through the night,” her eyes were wide, white, unfocused.

Eli put his hand over hers. 

Linda rolled her head back onto the pillow. “Help me.” And fell asleep. 

Back in the kitchen, Eli washed his hands in the sink. 

“Who’s Owens?” 

Dott sat at the table, her hands gripping her coffee mug to keep them from shaking. RJ had seen enough and had gone to the woods. The smell of the uneaten breakfast hung in the air like the unanswered prayer in Linda’s room. 

“He’s the pastor over in Stanton. Just over the hill,” she said.

Eli was working a puzzle of his own, now. Trying to find his way to that debt. 

“You say he’s a pastor?” 

Dott nodded.

“Maybe I should go see,” Eli said.

“Why?” Dott said.

Eli finished his coffee. “Why, it’s Sunday. Ain’t it?” 


Stanton reminded Eli of the European villages he’d patrolled in the Fichtel Mountains. Long, narrow streets wound through the hills leading to the stone and timber church that sat on the highest ground of the hollow. He parked his Liberator in front of the bank, the only fully brick building in town, and listened. He could hear the toll of church bells layered over the whispers of fiddles and piano. He followed the music up the hill. 

He opened the church door as gently as possible, but it popped like dry wood in a fire as he pushed it. A few parishioners turned to look and then slowly, with disinterest, returned to their silent prayer. An usher, an old man with his right arm taken below the elbow, tried to guide Eli upfront. Eli shook his head and slid into the last pew by the door, close to the aisle. The old man looked at Eli, squinted, then his face softened, and he patted Eli on the shoulder and took the same seat on the other side of the aisle. 

The prayerful silence was broken when a stout man with flaming red hair leapt from the alter and yelled, “Hallelujah!” 

It had been years since Eli set foot in a mountain church with its unique Appalachian theology and practice. Somewhere between high mass and medieval morality play, the service was now directed toward the unseen by the boisterous theatrics of the pastor who washed the congregation with the energy of participation. It was noisy. It was kinetic. It was rapturous. It was a world away from the tedious slog through theology that his seminary training demanded. 

One was no better than the other, just different, he reminded himself as Pastor Owens called a young couple to the front of the church and placed them in the chancel before the altar. Pastor Owens patted each one on the shoulder and turned around, spreading his arms wide, placing himself so he was juxtaposed on the cross hanging behind him.

“Behold brothers and sister. I give you a miracle,” he said.

There was a murmur through the church and then applause. Owens dropped his arms, the tattered black Bible in his right hand slapped his thigh. 

Owens paced in front of the couple. The young man stared at the polished floor. The young woman smiled nervously looking over the heads of the congregation, to the door, and Eli thought, way beyond this building and into the hills. 

“You know these young’uns. Known them since they was knee high to nothing. And you remember when they was married three years ago.”

The congregation nodded. There were whispers. 

Owens continued, “We were going to grow God’s army. New souls to transform an old world. Remember?”

Some women in the front throated a “Yes.” 

Owens nodded. Said, “But no matter how hard they tried,” the young man looked up grinning.

“The blessing wasn’t there,” the young woman’s eyes fell. Owens shook his head. 

There was a murmur of disapproval from the left side of the church. 

Owens stopped his pacing. Putting his hands on his hips. His head dropped toward the floor. He made a sound in his nose. A disapproval. 

“Well, they finally run the devil from their pride and come to see me,” Owens said. 

Someone up front ejaculated a “Yes.” 

Owens pointed at the couple with his Bible. 

“They came to me as a last resort. Why is the Lord always a last resort?” 

The usher across the aisle nodded. 

“So, I laid hands on her. Opened her womb so the Lord could get up in there. And,” he paused, “Billy will you tell us?”

The young man, Billy, stepped forward and away from his wife. Her forced smile replaced with, Eli tried to figure it, humiliation? 

“Pastor Owens has given us a child.” Billy said.

“Praise God,” Owens said. 

The congregation erupted in applause. 

Owens raised his hands, “Just as the Lord came into Mary, so have my prayers entered young Lizzie’s womb. Amen.” 

This spectacle closed the service and Eli sat dry mouthed, his coffee slowly rising up from his guts. As the gathered walked past him through the door, Pastor Owens stopped and tapped his Bible on the pew in front of Eli. 

“Not from around here, I suppose,” Owens said.

“No, sir. Passing through. Thought I’d take in some of the word,” Eli said.

Eli imagined Pastor Owens was used to intimidating people, his parishioners, the towns people. The Robinettes. A man used to 
getting his way with station and cruel silence. 

Pastor Owens was older up close. A wild head of red hair with a shock of white twisted up from his forehead and pale blue eyes in a sunken, weathered face. Not the face of the eastern kids at Oberlin studying for the ministry. Pastor Owens had the look of a man who’d had plenty of lives before this one. 

Owens shifted the Bible to his left hand, and they shook. “I’m Pastor Owens. This is my church,” he said. 

“Eli Sturdahl.”

“Where are you from Brother Eli?” Owens said. 

“Originally from Red House, Putnam County. I’m at college in Oberlin,” he said. 

Pastor Owens raised an eyebrow.

“School? Seem a bit long in the tooth for that,” Owens said. 

“I had a detour through Europe,” Eli said.

“Ah,” Owens said. He took a seat and stared at Eli with a thin, straight smirk. 

Eli imagined Pastor Owens was used to intimidating people, his parishioners, the towns people. The Robinettes. A man used to getting his way with station and cruel silence. But Eli saw nothing cruel in silence. He relished it. He sought it out in the gardens and easy fountains on campus. A motorbike trip on Route 2 along Lake Erie. Sitting under a pine tree in Tappan Square at midnight. He smiled and leaned back into the pew. 

“You’re welcome to join us for a noon meal,” Owens said. 

They stood and shook hands. 

“No thank you. I promised the Robinettes I’d join them for dinner,” Eli said.

“The Robinettes?” Owens said.

“I’m staying with them for a spell,” Eli said.  

Owens said, “That’s unusual.”

Eli said, “How’s-a-come?” 

“Races mixing, as such, is, well, irregular,” Owens said. “Those people don’t belong here. Never did. We tolerated them because they knew their place. After the war, though, they got ideas. Probably from smart fellers such as yourself.” 

Owens stepped into the aisle and started for the door. He paused, put a hand on Eli’s shoulder and said, “Shame about that little one of theirs. I suspect the longer they stay, the worse she’ll get.”

The words soured in Eli’s stomach.

“If you got it in your head to help, you pass that along,” Owens said leaving Eli alone in a building devoid of any semblance of what he had come to understand as holy.


Eli ate with the Robinettes under the shade of a thick oak. He had been living on cafeteria food at college, which was fine, he guessed. But it wasn’t his food. With each bite of fried chicken, fresh salad greens and his favorite, fried taters and onions, Eli found himself closer to himself. When they’d finished, Dott took a plate to Linda who was still in bed sick.

“She won’t eat,” Dott said. “But I gotta try.” 

RJ sat by the fire pit whittling a stick. With hard, angry strokes he swiped the shavings into the fire. He was wrapped tight and ready to explode. 

“When I got here last night, I was surprised to see you had no animals,” Eli said. 

“Had to get rid of them. They was costing us money rather than making it after we started to parcel out,” RJ said.

“When did that happen?” Eli said.

RJ whacked a chunk off the stick he was working on. 

“About four years ago,” he said.

“About the time Pastor Owens showed up?” Eli said.

“How’d you know?” RJ said. 

“A guess,” Eli said.

RJ turned the stick around to work on the other end. 

“We’re the last of the hold outs,” RJ said.

Eli leaned forward. 

“Him and the folks down in Stanton run everyone off but us.” RJ dug the knife deep and twisted it. “My people, free people, settled here after the Civil War. We, I, ain’t going nowhere.”

“What’re you men talking over?” Dott said. She placed a blue enamelware percolator on the fire. 

“RJ says you’re the last of the original homesteaders, here about,” Eli said.

Dott made a noise in her throat.

“Care to help me in the kitchen, Mr. Sturdahl?” she said. 

In the kitchen, Dott motioned for Eli to sit at the table. 

“RJ has a lot of man fantasies about protecting the home. He doesn’t need encouraged,” Dott said.

“I’m just trying to put together the big picture, here,” Eli said. “I want to help.” 

Dott said, “We’ve had the kind of help that leaves more trouble after. No thank you.” 

“I made a promise to Randy. I intend to keep it,” Eli said.

Dott gave him a long, hard look. 

“The promise you made to Randy,” Dott shook her head. “If my Randall was here, he’d tell you the same. Don’t go making more trouble when you got enough already.” 

Eli listened to the oven ping in rapid bursts as it cooled like the Jorstadelva rail iron he could see twisted in his mind. 

I think Owens is making your daughter sick,” Eli said. 

Dott put down her coffee cup. 

“Like poison?” she said.

“Like magic or something worse,” Eli said. 

Dott raised an eyebrow. “Magic?” 

Eli realized how it sounded and said, “I saw a lot of strange things over there. No reason they can’t happen over here, too.” 

“When they told me about my Randall,” she said, “I’d go to Stanton and see the other soldiers. The ones who came back. I felt like I had a debt to pay, too. Some had that look. Like you. Half in and half out.”

Eli sat back, “I’m not shell shocked. I’m talking how she reacted to the prayers. The mark on her face. Owens has something odd about him.” 

“We don’t have to talk about it,” she said standing. “All the same, I think you need to be thinking about moving on.” 

“I have some work to do this afternoon,” he said. 

Dott said, “Don’t let me stop you. Get done what you need to do and be on your way. But take some biscuits with you.”


Eli spent the day cleaning the mud from his Liberator. Even though the crankcase breather had been modified to keep water out, he knew that it was always a possibility. Satisfied, he next ran his finger along the front fender wiring tube to make sure debris hadn’t wrecked the wiring to the front blackout light. He flipped the switch. The diffused glow was swallowed up in the daylight of the barn. It would be enough, at night, he thought. He’d trained for it. Looking at the disassembled Colt still wrapped in oilcloth, next to his school bag of seminary books, he wondered which he was better prepared for.  

By the time holler dark had seeped over the homestead, Eli had piled feed sacks in the barn so he could lean into them, upright, close enough to the wall that his feet pressed against it. It was uncomfortable. That would keep him awake. And the awkward position put his line of sight right at a space between planks—a straight line of sight to the Robinette’s porch. 

His attention was on the illuminated triangle cast by the haint light. It was always the waiting. His body buzzing with anticipation. His eyes focused. His ears hearing every mouse scratch. The chatter of a hungry squirrel. The soft rush of wings. 

He’d waited so long that he figured it must be past midnight. The quiet of the not quite morning at odds with the electricity running in his legs and arms. 

There was movement on the porch, and he leaned forward into the silence. He squinted. It was Linda still in her night gown. He could see her eyes wide, and her face was slack. Her body moved awkwardly, but efficiently, down the three steps and stopped.

Linda was looking right at Eli. Through the gap he could see she wasn’t blinking. Off to the right there was the sound of boots on gravel. A soft crunch that started, stirred before it was squeezed silent by the still of the night. 

He leaned forward, turned his head, tried to get an angle to see. Only more barn lumber. Eli sat back and fixed his eyes on 

No surprise. Still Eli ground his teeth until he could feel it in his temples. 

Pastor Owens walked into the yellow haze of the haint light with something long in his hand. A rope? Whip? 

Owens turned Linda around so her back was to him and bent her over. 

Eli unhooked his legs and came up on his knees as Owens unfurled what was in his left hand. Pulling the puukko from its sheath, Eli stood. His eyes still focused through the slat. 

And he saw the faces of the women in Passau, Hof, Weiden. All of them. Crimes, he was told, that weren’t crimes. Just part of the pressure release of moving from war to peace. What was it his captain had said? “Women have always been the spoils of war.” 

Eli’s teeth ground harder. He reached for the barn door.

It was a bridle. Owens leaned over Linda to slip it on. 

Eli rounded the rough door just as Owens tossed his leg over. . . not Linda but a small, strong, dark quarter horse. Owens adjusted himself on the horse’s back and kicked its flanks and they disappeared into the woods. The sound of the horse crashing through the trees drifted up and out until there was only darkness. 

He gave the Liberator a rolling start. At a quarter throttle he kicked the bike to life and let it lurch into the woods. Before the trees were too thick, he shifted into second. No reason to run hot. Owens was wearing a grey topcoat that shined silver under the first quarter moon. Eli wasn’t overly worried, either, that Owens would spot him. He would either follow him to where they were going and deal with him there or if he overtook them, then justice would just come sooner rather than later. Eli had no preference. 

Up ahead Owens was slowing down. Eli downshifted and, as the woods got more rutted and uneven, he stood up on the footrests letting his knees take the shock. Then, Owens vanished. Eli slid the motorbike to a stop and shut the engine off. He slipped his hand inside his leather jacket and unsnapped the retention strap on the tanker shoulder holster. He tapped the butt of the Colt for reassurance. 

He’d go on foot, now. 

Owens had dropped over a ridge, taking a narrow path, just wide enough for the horse to wind its way down. At the bottom, a sagged roofed shed, maybe a barn at one point, was lit up inside and Eli heard voices. Smoke twisted up from a stove pipe, hitting the damp air of the hollow bottom, then spreading out like a ghost in the faint glow of a gas lamp hanging off the front porch.  

Eli slid his way down until he was separated from a low window by the branches of a sugar maple. Moving as fluid as he could, he inched to the window and looked in. He recognized most of the men from the church. They had been the ones clapping for the miracle and there was the young man, the father to be, sitting smugly under a swastika flag. And he wanted to make them all hurt. 

He heard a horse snort. 

Keeping low and to the shadows, he worked his way to the back of the barn where the quarter horse was tied to a tree. Eli started across the open field and froze when he heard an explosion of laughter from inside. Looking toward the back door, he saw it was partially shut. A thick smear of light escaping out into the dark. 

He moved quicker, now, until he was next to the horse. It couldn’t be. He knew what he saw—Owens slipping the bridle onto the girl and, then, riding this horse into the woods. 

But it couldn’t be. 

Eli thought of the welts along the young girl’s face as he worked his hands up under the bridle. Working widdershins to how he’d seen Owens, he gently removed the bridle from the horse and Linda fell into his arms. 

Her eyes were wide, and she was breathing shallowly. 

“Who are you?” she said. 

Eli picked her up and looked up at the incline of the ridge. 

“I’m a friend of your mama. I’m taking you home,” he said. 


Owens should have noticed that the haint light had been unscrewed, putting the whole of the Robinette’s porch in the dark. Still, he slipped quietly to the steps.

“That’s a neat trick,” Eli said from his place in the shadows. 

If Owens was surprised, he didn’t show it. 

“Thank you. It’s the only one I have,” Owens said. He turned slowly. 

Eli stepped closer, the Colt in his right hand. The bridle in his left. 

“Where did you get this?” Eli said. 

Owens synchronized a shrug with a deep breath. He looked at the bridle and licked his lips. 

“From a witch of course,” he said.  “How’d you know?”

“Saw you this night do the trick,” Eli said. 

Owens nodded. “When I first came to Stanton, there was an old woman up in the hollow. She was terrorizing this whole community with her evil. So, I killed her. Took this bridle. I was fixed to burn it,” Owens ran his tongue over his lips. “But why waste an opportunity for good?”

Eli was losing patience as the heft of the Colt in his hand and the weight of the night disoriented him.

Owens said, “Every once in a while, there is a need for a purge. When the Lord looked down and saw that…” 

“I’m not in the mood for one of your sigoggled sermons,” Eli said.

Owens nodded. “Fair enough. But there’s work to be done. So, do what you gotta do or get the Hell outta my way.” 
Eli thumbed down the safety and Owens winced at the sound. 

“Eli, no.”

Eli shut his eyes at the voice. Soft, commanding. Unwelcome. 

“Mrs. Robinette, go wait inside,” he said. “You can’t be a part of this.” 

“I think I am part of this,” she said. “My daughter. My land.” 

“You don’t know,” Eli said.

He felt Dott move next to him. She said, “I didn’t believe my baby. I thought you might be crazy. What he said, what I heard, is beyond my imagination but not above my beliefs. I know what this is. I know what he is.”

“Then go inside. Let me finish it,” Eli said.

She put her hand on his wrist. 

“There’s another way. The curse can also cure,” she said.

Eli found himself ready to listen. 


It was early morning and RJ walked around the Morgan, his hands stroking its muzzle and the white tuft of mane sticking out from under the bridle. 

“Where did you get this horse?” RJ said.

Eli said. “I told you I would pay for my stay. He’s an old horse but still has some work in him.” 

RJ put his hands on his hips sizing up the Morgan like an expert horse trader. 

“I’d be careful. He’s ornery. I wouldn’t advise taking the bridle off either. Keep the old boy in line,” Eli said. 

“Should get him gelded at some point, too,” Dott said from the porch where she sat with Linda, still frail, pale. But able to walk down the stairs from her bedroom to take some air. 

Eli put the last of his gear in the Liberator’s saddle bags. 

“In a month’s time, I’ll be back this way. I could stop and check on things,” Eli said.

“Could,” Dott said. “But shouldn’t. We’ll be just fine.” 

Eli understood. 

It felt good to ride the road he’d only recently pushed the motorbike up. The farm lane dried in the July heat and was as smooth as if it was paved. He throttled onto US Route 23 and considered that he’d long become a stranger unto himself, first the Army, now college. Both, in their own way, a means to direct his attention. Maybe the debt owed was to his own self. 

Eli thought that if he traveled directly along 23 all day, he could be home by supper. A day early. Surprise his folks. Or he could take a wrong turn and find more wonders to surprise himself. 

He could. So, he did. 

Edward Karshner, Associate Professor of English at Robert Morris University, teaches courses in writing and Appalachian Literature. His short fiction appears in the anthologies Haints and Hollers, Shelved (both from Mountain Gap Books, 2019 and 2020) and It Came from the Swamp (Malarkey Books, 2022). His creative non-fiction appears in the anthology Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy (West Virginia University Press, 2019), the Appalachian culture blog Blind Pig and the Acorn and the on-line magazine Reckon Review where he is a columnist. A 2022 Summer Research Fellow at Berea College Special Collection and Archives, Karshner was also a featured presenter at the 2023 Amesville Writer’s Workshop.

home               return to fiction