The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Author: Dennis Page 1 of 124

#TwinCities

One night while closing up the ice cream shop in Hell, Michigan, Sally stumbles upon a social media hashtag of people sharing photos of portals connecting to other cities with the same name. Curious, she leaves work to see if there is a portal in her town.


Mark diligently pushed the mop around the floor. At the same time, Sally was locked in focus to her phone as she scrolled through Instagram while simultaneously turning off the open sign for The Creamatory of Screams. As far as summer jobs went, the two teenagers enjoyed dishing out ice cream in Hell, Michigan. Sally especially enjoyed dressing up in a witch’s costume for work, which wasn’t required. Mark preferred to stick with brown khakis with a black t-shirt and apron.

“Mark, you need to check out the Twin Cities hashtag,” Sally insisted.

“Why?” Mark questioned as he ringed the mop in the bucket.

“Because there are these portals that have started appearing around the world, connecting cities with the same name.”

“What? You’re joking.”

“No, there are pictures of people in Paris, Texas, visiting people in Paris, France,” she scrolled through her feed for another example. Most of the photos featured a neon green portal in the background. Of course, there were food pics too. “Here’s another in Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon. Oh! Memphis, Egypt, and Memphis, Tennessee.”

Curious but skeptical, Mark carefully leaned the mop against the wall and opened the app on his phone. “All under the hashtag, Twin Cities, right?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t see anything.”

“Let me see,” Sally grumbled as she yanked Mark’s phone out of his hand. “Weird. There are tons of photos on my phone.”

Mark gently pulled his phone out of her hands and returned it to his pants. “Let’s just hurry and close.”

Sally looked at her phone. All of the photos of the portals were gone. “Huh. They’re not showing up on my phone anymore.”

“Maybe it’s a government cover-up,” her co-worker teased. “Or maybe you got hacked.”

Sally ignored him. “I wonder if there is a portal here. Maybe it leads to Hell in Norway or the one in the Cayman Islands. Hey, Mark. You won’t mind if I skip out early to check?”

“Well–”

“Thank you! You’re the best!”

Sally grabbed her purse from the back counter and bolted out the door while Mark sighed and continued mopping. The tiny unincorporated town had a few shops, all with a tongue-in-cheek name like Hell In A Handbasket and Hell Saloon. If there were a town portal, she wouldn’t have to cover much ground to find it. As she jogged over to her car in the gravel parking lot, a red glow off to the side caught her attention.

In the center of the mini-golf course stood a neon red portal the size of a car. Except for the color, it looked like the other ones she saw.

“No, way,” she muttered. She pulled out her phone and took a video shot. “I wonder when it goes.”

Sally jumped over the fence to the closed mini-golf course and ran up to the portal. A warm, tropical scent drifted out from the portal. She looked over at the shop and debated if she should get Mark. She turned back to the portal, having decided that the portal would disappear if she went to get him. Her heart raced as she stuck her arm through the glowing red gateway. Her arm felt warm like she was on a beach, and it didn’t hurt either. She took a deep breath and walked through.

Red lights shimmed all around her as she took a few steps through the gateway. The lights washed behind her as she stepped out onto a colossal library with gothic architectural themes. Several dogs with happy wagging tails scamped up to Sally, demanding love and affection.

Out of curiosity last month, Sally researched all of the other towns named Hell. None of them had a library as grand as the one she found. The more she looked around the mountains of books, the more she felt like the library itself was larger than any of the towns.

With no one else showing up to greet her besides the dogs, she finally decided to call out. “Hello.”

In response, a drill of flames erupted from the floor several feet in front of her. The fire dissipated to reveal a tall, slender man in a dark purple suit with red pinstripes. His skin was crimson red with the face of a grizzled movie-star while his hair consisted of a blue flame. Sally couldn’t explain it, but a woman’s voice whispered the name, “Hades,” into her mind.

“How did you get here?” chided Hades as he studied her. Sally opened her mouth to explain, but Hades held up a finger to stop her. “Don’t answer that. You probably don’t know. I’ll look you up.”

Hades snapped his fingers. A brown leather book with Sally’s name written on all sides in gold lettering flew off a bookshelf and into Hades’ hand. He flipped toward the end and began to read. “Of course. This is all one of those experiment pranks by Loki and Raven.”

Hades snapped the book shut and tossed it over his shoulder. The book bounced and returned itself on the shelf.

“Wait. Am I in Hell, Hell?” Sally stumbled to ask with excitement.

“Yes, that’s one name.”

“And you’re Hades?”

“Yes, that’s one name.”

“Woah. This is so awesome. Can I get a selfie with you?”

Hades sighed. “Fine. But if only you promise to leave. You shouldn’t be here.”

“Okay!”

Hades kneed down so both their faces could be in the shot. Sally snapped a photo of her smiling while Hades made a silly, scary face. Hades shifted his face back to serious as he stood up.

“Thank you!” Sally beamed.

Sally ran through the portal, with it collapsing on itself as she exited.

Hades reached down and petted a golden retriever. “At least she wasn’t constantly crying like the kid from Norway this morning.”


This week’s short story was brought to you by the following writing prompt: “One day, every city that shares a name has a portal open up, connecting them all with each other. Paris, Texas has a great time with it, and many cities celebrate their new neighbors. You, however, live in Hell, Michigan, and things are starting to get strange.”

I laughed out loud when I read this prompt last night. It made me think of my time in Hell in the Cayman Islands. I gave the story some thought and wrote it today. Since this takes place in my universe, I explained the portals around the world that Sally saw on Instagram as something that didn’t really happen. It was all a trick by Loki and Raven. With the corkiness of Sally and Mark working at an ice cream shop in Hell (which does exist as I researched it this morning), I think the setting would lend itself for an indie coming of age movie.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s short story!

3×04 Wagon Trail Tales

It was June before Sam and the Professor saw each other again. The pandemic didn’t stop the Professor from his research and he was eager to meet Art Peters at the Hinton Historical Museum.

Subscribe Tales Unveiled’s Wagon Trail Tales episode via Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or anywhere you enjoy podcasts. New episodes on Fridays!


Tales Unveiled is a production of The Show Starts Now Studios and is produced by me, Dennis Spielman. The voice of Sam Saxton is Dennis Spielman. The voice of Professor Geoff DeRoot is Jeff Provine.

We would like to thank Art Peters at the Hinton Historical Society for the wagon trail tales in this episode. 

If you love what we’re doing, want us to keep being artist owned and patron supported, click here. In return, you can get bonus content, including early access to my other projects.

Behind the Scenes Commentary

As described in the episode, it wasn’t until June before Jeff and I ventured off to record another episode. Jeff had been in contact with Art for his Haunted Oklahoma book he’s been working on.

After the interview, Art gave us a tour of the museum. I got a picture of the lipstick case you mentioned in the episode. If you plan a visit to the museum, be sure to also check out Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park (formerly known as Red Rock Canyon State Park).

State Fair Food Substitutions Vol. 1

In light of the State Fair not happening this year, I visited three different places for fair-inspired food. First up for appetizers there’s the Okie Twinkies from Eddie’s in Edmond, then a turkey leg where the meat slides off the bone from Big O’s Pork and Dreams in Emond, and I end the video with dessert from Contrabandz Ice Cream Lab.

My goal was to have five different places for this collection, but schedules didn’t work out, so I still hope you enjoy this episode! I was hoping to including Philly Home Flaming Hot Cheetos Philly, Mighty Corn Dog, and The Catfish Bayou. I also had a friend comment on the video that FireLake Fry Bread Taco in Shawnee makes the best, best, best Indian tacos.

Thank you to my supporters on Patreon for their continued support of making Uncovering Oklahoma possible! Supporters get awesome rewards, like early access to my episodes. Big thanks to my superstar supporters: Revolve Productions and the Keller-Kenton Family. Join today!

Mother’s Warning

I should’ve listened to my mother about visiting the train tracks alone at night. 


I should’ve listened to my mother about visiting the train tracks alone at night. As young as I can remember, she was strangely persistent that I “never, ever go alone to the abandoned tracks on the outskirts of town at night.” The few times I asked why she would only tell me that it wasn’t safe. However, when I was a teenager, there was this one time that I felt extra rebellious, and I edged her on about it. She threatened with losing ten years of my life if I ever did go there. I felt terrible after provoking her, so I never brought up the subject again. Over time, I just kind of forgot about the tracks.

If it weren’t for my dorm mate igniting my curiosity, I probably would’ve never gone. With Halloween approaching, we got into a casual discussion about urban legends, and I brought up the abandoned tracks. After some goading, I drove out there at about 11 p.m. 

From inside my car, the two sets of tracks looked ordinary enough. With my phone fully charged, I walked on them, looking for anything unusual or creepy.

But there was nothing.

Not even graffiti or trash or even strange noises. There was a faint smell of a wood fire burning, but no smoke or flames. After about an hour of walking alone, I made my way back to my car when the rusty metal railings I was on lit up in bright purple.

I jumped off to the other set of tracks when a giant shimmering disc made of a fiery reddish-orange light sparked to life over the tracks down where the purple glow stopped. A solid, white train burst out from the disc, passing me faster than a race car, into another red disc down the way. Despite the train’s size, the train itself was relatively quiet. The only noise it made was from it slicing through the air. 

Before I could process what happened, the track that I moved to lit up purple. Recognizing it as a warning, I leaped completely off the tracks as the train sped out from a disc to another disc.

With my car in sight, I ran toward it. A red disc of light appeared on the ground beneath it. The train erupted from it, sending my car flying as the train drove into the sky through another disc. My car landed upside down.

“Fuck!” I screamed. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

A fiery disc appeared not far from where the car landed, and the train leaped out of it, like one of those monstrous worms in a sci-fi movie. I rolled to the side – the train narrowly missed me. I got back up and continued running. I repeatedly looked over my shoulder, watching for the portal to appear. Then I looked at my arms and noticed a red glow. That’s when I looked up and realized it had opened above me.

I closed my eyes as the train smashed into me. I felt my body being tossed around in a metal box like a ball in a washing machine. When the pounding sensation stopped, I opened my eyes. I was lying on the floor in the middle of an aisle inside a modern passenger train car, unharmed. The smell of the car made me think of brunch. There were no other passengers. Outside the windows were stars and rolling hills of forests. 

A chime dinged over the speakers, and a cheerful voice announced, “We will arrive at our next destination in 10 years.”


This week’s short story was brought to you by the following writing prompt: “Your mother told you to never go near the train tracks alone at night. You should have listened.”

3×03 The Stage is Set at Constantine Theater

After getting a fortune from one of those old Zoltar machines, Sam and Geoff visit with Garrett Hartness at the Constantine Theater interview for the history of Pawhuska and stories about the theater. 

Subscribe to new episodes of Tales Unveiled via Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or anywhere you enjoy podcasts. New episodes on Fridays!

Inside the theatre - photo by Dennis Spielman

Tales Unveiled is a production of The Show Starts Now Studios and is produced by me, Dennis Spielman. The voice of Sam Saxton is Dennis Spielman. The voice of Professor Geoff DeRoot is Jeff Provine.

We would like to thank Garrett Hartness at the Constantine Theater for setting the stage with great stories within this episode. 

If you love what we’re doing, want us to keep being artist owned and patron supported, click here. In return, you can get bonus content, including early access to other shows from The Show Starts Now Studios!

Thank you for listening to Tales Unveiled!

Behind the Scenes Commentary

After spending the first half of our day in Bartlesville in the previous episode, Jeff and I visited Pawhuska in the afternoon. In reality, we started our visit with Garrett’s interview. After our interview, Jeff and I walked around and found the fortune-telling machine. I thought it would be fun to record what it said for the podcast. My equipment was in the car, so I used my phone for it, which worked out fine. We are incorporating elements of the fortune for the season, so you’ll have to stay tuned to find out how it all comes true.

We stopped for some treats at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, which were delicious. It wasn’t my first time there so I knew they had some good stuff. From there, we drove back home.

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