by Devon Fick
Devil’s Hole Pizza and Ribs has been in business since 1972. They operate out of a mean, one-story building nestled in front of a defunct factory on Niagara Falls Boulevard. The parking lot is cracked and worn and the sidewalk in front of the door has nearly returned to dirt. The windows are covered by weather-beaten cardboard and the sign out front was melted by a lightning strike.
“Oh yeah that place has got the haunts”, says Ronnie La Hoyt, who owns and lives above a knives and puzzles shop across the street from Devil’s Hole.”Nobody goes in, nobody comes out. But it’s always emanatin’ like a smell of hot fresh pizza and blood.”
So what the hell is up with this place? Is it haunted, as locals like la Hoyt believe? Or is it just bad? I am Zach El Keebaugh: Investigative Reporter for Channel 9 Buffalo Wz TV News, and I aimed to find out.
First though, I had to get out of my motel room. Easy enough, right? Not so fast. The door of my room was one of those “hingeless doors”, the kind that uses tape instead of hinges. Every time I tried to open it, I could feel something heavy pressing down on the other side. Mattresses. Somebody piled 3 or 4 mattresses in front of the door. Plus they were wet too, man. They smelled like waterfall water. Anyway, it took me twenty or thirty minutes to squeeze my way out of a thin space I managed to budge between the frame and the door. Then, I knocked the mattresses to the ground where they flopped into a puddle. It was depressing. A guy came around to clean the parking lot, and when I asked him about it, he replied, “What mattresses, I don’t see no mattresses.”
“Dude, there’s mattresses stacked up right here,” I responded. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, and continued unloading trash from his trunk into a pile on a wheelchair ramp. How do you even recover from that? I hadn’t figured it out yet.
Anyway, I arrived at Devil’s Hole Pizza and Ribs at lunchtime. The small, poorly-lit seating area was completely empty. Pieces of newspaper littered the floor. It felt like no heat had been on in the place for ages. There was no counter– merely a ragged chasm in the brown paneling that offered a view into the kitchen. A pulpy middle-aged face suddenly appeared in the breach.
“Let’s have a pie! Make it a large, and a rib sub too,” I called out. The pulpy face nodded very slightly and then disappeared. I took a seat and looked over the ancient laminated placemat. There was a little maze on it– you had to lead the pepperoni through the maze to the pizza on the other side. That was cool, that occupied me for a little while.
It was then that I became aware of complete and total silence. Nothing moved through the chasm. It was the absence of sound that stunned me, it was an absence of life as well. They have killed all their customers it suddenly occurred to me. The ovens are inoperable. There will be no pizza. There will be only the end. This is your denouement Zach, I thought.
“Yo,” I called out. It was desperation, more than anything else. The pulpy, expressionless face returned. “Yo, are you making that pizza? That rib sub?” I started backing away towards the door– I could feel the thin strands of sunlight as I drew closer. The pulpy face said nothing. Relax, Zach thought. I breathed. I stared at an old Niagara Falls pennant. It was from the Canadian side. A Mountie was saluting the Falls. That calmed me down a little bit. “Say, how ‘bout a loganberry?”
And then a bag was pushed through the chasm. The bottom was covered in grease. But there was something inside. It was the rib sub (and, as I unexpectedly found out later, the pizza too). An entire pizza pie…shoved into the paper bag. It was eldritch, this pizza, made by phantoms.
I threw a twenty at the chasm. Some change somehow appeared immediately. Followed by a 2 liter of logenberry in a styrofoam container.
“Okay now, enjoy your meal,” the chasm said. The pulpy figure was gone. I looked at the chasm. It grew suddenly grey outside. Nothing further was coming, I knew it. I thought about approaching, thought about trying to get a glimpse into the kitchen. But there was just no way, man. It was over. I had to accept it. The chasm had accepted it. I took one last look at the pennant. It was gone. Nothing but cracked brown paneling.
The pizza was good though. And so was the sub.
That’s what you should take away from this.
For Channel 9, this is Zach El Keebaugh, reporting.