I’ve always had a fascination with old, abandoned places that have nothing left but their deteriorating memories and the ghosts of decay that haunt their empty halls and rooms. Perhaps no such structures retain the twisted tales sealed within the coffin of time more than institutions where people go in but can’t come out—at least willingly, that is. Old mental institutions and prisons are haunted, haunting places indeed, so I combined the frightening best of both worlds in the second story in my new short story collection The Knife and the Wound It Deals. “The Champ” tells the strange tale of an old fighter who isn’t ready to step out of the ring just yet. The setting is in part inspired by the historic Danville State Hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania, where both of my parents worked for a time in the 1980s. In fact, the rocking chair incident in the underground tunnels actually happened to my mother, who decades later still tells the tale with a quiver in her voice.
|Vintage Postcard of The Danville State Hospital|
For more information about the Danville State Hospital, click here to visit Phil Thomas’ excellent web site, which includes a timeline, history and much more, including a photo gallery filled with intriguing original and historic images.