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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/blog/bobturn
Rated: 18+ · Book · Tribute · #2222317
Fresh refutations, capitulations and conundrums temporary storage vault.
{def: Manners - 'Man'ly pursuit of what 'ners' the impossible without being obsequious.}
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August 9, 2020 at 11:33am
August 9, 2020 at 11:33am
#990344
“The swamp cooler broke again.”

The words thrown out into the air made Norm Adams bang his head. He wiped car grease into the blood dripping into his eyes, put down the wrench and rolled out to blinding sun. “I’m on it.”

“You haven’t fixed the vacuum like I asked.” Martha Adams added the sin onto the twinge in his back as Norm passed under the kitchen window.

“I can only do one thing at a time.” Keeping up with his wife’s demands receded into the distance. No day was long enough.

Martha found their broken down life excuse enough to never do anything to make it any better. It was always his fault. “You’re the man. You’re supposed to fix things.”

She used it as a club over his head. Had she noticed he was bleeding? When Norm got to the swamp cooler he knew immediately what was wrong. “Cover got loose.”

He could hear something trapped inside trying to get out. “Stink up the house if it drowns and dies.” Norm reached a hand, letting it crawl inside.

The something became a slithering rope with fangs. “Damn. Shit. That was close.” He’d banged his elbow jerking his hand out, hitting himself in the face, starting the bleeding all over again. How had a snake crawled inside?

He grinned at the swamp cooler, patting the hot metal side of his new worst friend. “Feckless bastard.”

His fingers had detected the screw hole. The screw hadn’t fallen out. It had been struck with a hammer and broken out. “Martha.”

A flash of memory came to mind. The pieces of glass in his breakfast. Then another, the shock experienced fixing the wall outlet. The brakes going out when she sent him on that errand. Martha’s passive aggression had teeth.

Two could play this game, he thought. Then he thought again. It would only escalate with who got the knife in the back and when. “What I need to do is put some light on the subject. Catch her in the act.”

“Get it fixed?” Martha said. “Got the knife drawer stuck in the kitchen. Be a dear?”

“Yeah. Why not?” What was she up to now? How to turn the tide? Norm marched in yanking at the drawer. The meat cleaver flashed up and flipped into the sound of an “oof” behind him.

Martha took it like a real camper. She’d solved the problem herself. “Way to go, Martha. Deep inside, you were a real bleeding heart.”
August 8, 2020 at 6:13am
August 8, 2020 at 6:13am
#990227
I been thumb hopping in better places than this. Cars passing by treat me like I’m lost art. No appreciation. Run you down if’n you lean too far into the road with that cardboard sign suggesting some welfare getting you high hoping to where you never been.

You and that loopy eared dog only catching air, took a mind to find out your story, freshen it up while we sit awhile. No bother. No bother a’tall. Put that crazy eyed look to rest and that knife hiding in your pocket which your palm is caressing like a best friend.

You and I, our type learned social distance the first time we got kicked out as being living trash. Now we just tumble along the wind them passing cars assemble in our honor. Hot wind filled with gripes and worries held too long inside.

Figure my job is to let them out where they belong, I’m a caretaker of sorts. Think I’m crazy, don’t ‘cha?

That’s O.K. it being my armor against them worries getting close as they does, otherwise they’d eat me. Ravenous monsters the way they is. What?

Think I’m spinning cobwebs? I got my true believers, let me tell you. One’s let me ride with them got learned my gospel, they did. Last one yawn’n wide enough to fit a football field between cracking jaws. Wanted me to keep ‘m awake and I did.

Should have seen them eyes grow wide as saucers, blink sOs semaphores. Caught the vision, he surely did. Spoke to him like I”m doing to you, brother son. You be young to be trusting to the road for scrapes enough to travel on. Got a match?

Thank ye. Take a puff if you want. No? Look at that Camero. Thinks it owns destiny and all else. Turned us both invisible sitting here. Comfy isn’t it? And safe, no worries at all. Is that some chocolate in your pocket? Saved for a rainy day? Ain’t nothing but sunshine pouring down on us, brother. How about sharing some?

Looky here. I got a bottle of what ails ya’. Spin the cap off and give you some. That pooch of your’n kin stop whining. Ain’t going to get any of this fine broth. Hot isn’t it. Take a swallow. Wipe the snot off your nose, don’t it? Goes down to make friends where none abide.

Chocolate’s good. Thank ye. No I’m not the usual kind of traveling preacher, am I?

Feeling restful, are ye? Yes. I’ll watch your dog. Last car you didn’t notice, slowed for a look see, a tsk and a shake of the head. Soiled goods is what those eyes said. Why don’t we stop being ourselves, be like them? Get a job?

Am I right or right? You ain’t listen’n, son. Off to dreamland in that snooze. It will be more soon. Give you grace, I did. You’n welcome if even you’s didn’t say so. Fate spoke. Said it was your time.

Fate spoke and I listened. Gave the nudge sending you on your way. Thumbs up, young fellow. You needed that rest. Car’s a coming. Slow’n down. Stopping. You did your part. They’s asking if we need help.

I’ll borrow that blade in your pocket. See how good it talks. Just the two of them weary travelers getting out to gawk dressed in that superior look.

Changed those eyes to surprise with one twist of the shiny unused blade. Took the man right up on his toes, it did. Two for two and one to go. Lady all tearful promising any and everything she have to give if I just let her go, go, go.

Kind of her to pick up a hitchhiker like me. Ain’t so invisible sitting beside her. Knife poking drops of blood from her side. She’s a rare and beautiful breed. Not many left like her on the byways and highways.

Nobody picks up strangers. She’s a nobody, or soon will be for sure. Teaching her that gospel. She’s listening. Sobbing. LIcking snot off her nose. Nodding her head at my commentary while we visit. Doesn’t seem to want to stop driving.

So we’ll sit in the silence until it runs out. See what’s on the other end. Tires are humming maybe a low sounding funeral dirge. She’s shaking her head, not hearing. Taking another poke of the knife. This time deeper.

Maybe soon she’ll show her bleeding heart. Keep’s that husky whispering, let me go. Go. go.

Last longer down the by way than expected. Lost blood faster than lost gas. Pulled off on the hot bubbling tar, leaning on her horn.

Kind of that nice convertible to pull in behind us. Young chick getting out offering assistance. It has been a fine day.

Turning people into invisible trash.

August 7, 2020 at 3:35pm
August 7, 2020 at 3:35pm
#990197
Listening to blog chatter
alliances, affirmations, soldiering on
when prompted to do so

I find myself lost in a storm
of echoes thundering
into my ears and brain

It is time to find shelter
watch, wait, wonder
and affirm in each breath

the lightning striking around me
in a downpour of emotion
are flashes of insight

Will I be burned by being here?
Search some rock to hide under?
Or enjoy dancing in the rain?


In response to a 48 hour community challenge Prompt  
August 6, 2020 at 9:37pm
August 6, 2020 at 9:37pm
#990147
“Sick.” Being a special effects guy for low budget horror movies sucks. Five years ago I told myself I was working my way up to better things. I had my hands on the brass ring. All I had to do was pull myself up. Now, I could barely recognize my own trembling fingers. All they wanted to do was strangle.

Henry Wallace, self styled king of blood and gore, had given me a bad check one time too many. When I got back to the old ShopCo building he’d used for the latest remake to his cult movie, ‘The Witch Of Night Creek’, it was as empty as my pockets. “You’re not getting away that easy.”

The star of the show was a part time stripper actress named Moon Beam who got paid in promises. She liked the way I made her boobs and eyes look bigger when she met Slasher Dasher, AKA Henry Wallace, at the creek. “Keep him busy, honey chile. I’m on my way.”

He’d shacked her up at the ‘Day Glo Inn’, for the ambiance. The place could have changed its shingle to the ‘Bates Motel’ without having to change a thing. Freddie Kruger from the ‘Nightmare On Elm’s Street’ could have switched places without a pause. The place had to have been created and moved from a psycho dreamworld to look as creepy as it did.

The light in the back bedroom was on. Moon Beam didn’t need any horror makeup. Slasher Dasher’s knife had done an exceptional professional job turning her nude and mutilated body into gore. Henry Wallace really believed in his work.

He was tying up loose ends, so to speak. I watched him wrestle the rope he’d used around Moon Beam’s neck on a squeaky pulley to drag her swinging slowly around on the ceiling fan. “Darn fool has the movie camera. Doing his last scene himself.”

Not satisfied with the way the witch looked, the director, owner, turned actor dragged out my makeup case for some final macabre touches on the corpse. “He’ll leave that for evidence, blame the scene on me and I’ll get burned in the chair.”

I realized how sneaky he’d been getting me to argue in front of the bellboys and waitresses hired for bit parts. They’d support the word going out that I threatened him for taking Moon Beam away from me and would show him what he could do with her now that she’d broken my heart.

What really punched my button was his using the same make up techniques I’d shown him and been so proud of. “Cut rate piece of shit.” He was using my own skill as evidence against me. It was time to show him another thing or two. I went nova.

The props used for the movie are real. Blanks are substituted for bullets. The chain, mannacles, the S&M whips, paddles and toys would make any pervert happy. Slasher Dasher always kept a trunkful for easy access and inspiration as filler when he didn’t have one decent idea for a plot.

“My. My.” There was another body wedged in with the goodies, the main financial backer, drug seller, and all around louse, Micky Shore. It gave me an idea for sweet revenge.

I dug Micky Shore out, set him up against the S&M toys so the dead man stayed there and began to do my magic. Undoing blood and gore takes as practiced a hand as creating a good replica. Soon Micky was looking enough like his pathetic old self to make muster. “That’ll do.”

I climbed in behind him wedging a toy or two where they would remain handy and waited. Henry Wallace was never a perfectionist. It didn’t take long. He had dissolved his Slasher Dasher character. The director of horror movies was in full bloom. “Perfect Pitfall. When he shows hunting up his old flame he won’t know what kind of danger I’ve put him in,” Henry Wallace gloated.

I made a moaning sound and raised Micky Shore’s hand to his head using the poked end of a whip stuck into the arm of his jacket to remain invisible. “No way.” I heard the director say. This wasn’t in his script.

There was a crunch of pebbles under his feet as he launched himself forward to deal with this bad actor. “You were dead. Stay that way.”

When the sound of the rush got close enough I pushed Micky left and myself right. Henry Wallace struck head first into the hole in the trunk I’d hidden in. Gas from Micky sighed out of his lungs into an unearthly sigh when he rolled and landed. He twitched making a mockery of his own death, playing the best horror role of the undead I’d seen in a long time.

My own dive and twist out of the trunk hadn’t ended so well. Pain shot through my dislocated elbow. I forced myself to my feet, needing to do the impossible, trap Henry Wallace in his own trunk.

There he was shaking his head, wiping the blood from his eyes, snapping the whip I’d left behind. “O.K. You gave it a shot. Change of scene. Act two.”

He was already on his feet, kind of dancing back and forth on them, lips pulled back in a toothy grin. “I guess you saw what I did to Moon Beam.”

“What you did to Micky Shore as well.”

“He was a bloodsucker accountant from the first time I met him. A drug crazed monster thinking he owned me.” The whip lashed out, flicking skin off my cheek before I could move away.

“Wanted me to put him in the movies. Said he was horror star quality. You ever see his teeth?” This time the whip shredded a rip in my shirt where it laid bare my chest. It left a fiery welt raised behind.

“His teeth?”

Something was happening with Micky. More ponderous slow movement and a belch of sighing gas. The force of the expended air forced the corpse to sit up.

“Look.” I pointed. “Micky isn’t dead yet.”

We both watched Mickey slowly rise to his feet, flashing those oversized canines he had. They looked longer and sharper than I remembered. “You can hurt me but you can’t get rid of me. It would take a wooden stake to do that.”

The knife plunged into his chest, pulsed and slid out, falling at his plodding feet. He reached down as the whip snapped overhead.

Fear turned Henry Wallace gray. “You’re not real.”

I’d managed to get closer while he was distracted. My one good arm caught his, numbing it. The whip dropped into a coiled snake writhing a moment before settling on the ground. I couldn’t hold him. He wrenched away but it did the trick. My dislocated elbow snapped back in place.

Henry Wallace stood between me, reaching for one of his trunk toys, and the vampire that was the transformed Micky Shore. “Had to sleep and get my rest. Get my energy back. Black of night is when I’m at my best.”

Seeing Micky come alive yet again was too much of a shock. Henry folded onto his knees, looking up, he mouthed the first prayer he’d probably ever given in his life. I was half hypnotized by the scene myself.

The heart stopper happened next. Moon Beam floated out the doorway. “Did I do right? Micky is going to make me a horror movie star.”

The rope still hung draped around her neck. The toothy smile she gave matched Micky Shore’s. “We don’t have much time before daylight,” she pointed back towards the motel room where the camera was.

“We’ll feast on this pain in the neck while you become producer of our first work together, how’s that?” Mickey asked me.

When I came back, Henry Wallace’s blood dripped from both of their fangs. “He’s good for several more scenes with luck. Micky dabbed at his lips. Moon Beam smeared a kiss, licking a spot of blood.

It was amazing the strength the two vampires possessed. They threw the sleeping Henry Wallace in the back seat where I joined him. Working grave shift nights producing the end of Slasher Dasher isn’t half bad.
August 5, 2020 at 3:52pm
August 5, 2020 at 3:52pm
#990018
It was Tuesday. I took out the trash. Early, early. Most weeks it was a barrel of fun. I enjoyed poking through what my neighborly neighbors no longer needed. Sometimes things got sticky and smelly. That’s why I put gloves on. Today’s effluvium took no sorting through at all before I found a complete mystery. It looked, felt and was a human hand. We shook on it.

Grizzly, you might think. I was glad handed with a wad of money in its grasp. The ring finger glared at me when I shook the diamond marriage band off. Noise from the alleyway where I was but a shadow, bade me disappear, so I did.

Grace, my wife and boss, awaited me with brewed morning coffee. “Have a good time? Took you long enough.” She runs the Grace Detective Agency. I work for her between unemployment checks. Hey. It works out. When I’m not engaged in one of her to-do lists, I write. Nothing too thrilling. I do ghost writing for fun and profit. Mostly the publisher’s profit, not mine. The fun is my wife’s. She likes making fun of me. Say’s I’m her favorite stray pet.

“Blood money,” I replied showing her my new bankroll.

She didn’t bat an eye until I revealed the piece of jewelry. “That’s Harriet Evans. What are you doing with it?” Grace lifted her cell phone, never far at hand, and started giving dear Harriet a ring.

That was my first clue I was in deeper than I thought. When a case gets personal, it can unravel into some bizarre loose ends. I knew better than to string my wife along. It was time to get to the point. “I found these attached to a trashed hand waiting for garbage pickup.”

“What?” Grace gaped at me as if I had lost my mind. "Why didn’t you bring Harriet’s hand back in with you?”

She turned away from me as her phone connected. “John? Grace. Get me Harriet. It’s an emergency.” Grace spun around pointing me back out towards the alleyway while hissing to hurry up under her breath.

I had to hand it to her. That’s why my wife is boss. Sure, I may have fingered the mystery, but she wouldn’t palm it off on me. She was the one in charge. I armed myself with the thirty-eight special we kept hung by the back door and fled into the early morning gloom.

The trash was gone. My mistake. The noise in the alleyway had disturbed me. The second time around was worse. I heard the grunt behind me. Stars exploded in my head and the universe descended into complete and utter darkness.

I woke to blurred vision. Two of Grace blended together like merged twins. A one handed slap rocked my head around. I blinked and then there was one. “You see who did it?” Grace growled. “John’s on his way.”

“You did call the police, didn’t you?” I knew by her look that she hadn’t. It was a complete mystery, what was going on.

“You’re not hurt or you wouldn’t sound that way.” She breathed in and out while getting up to meet Harriet’s husband. The feel of the thirty-eight special was gone. It felt like a ton of bricks in my head, joshing around for position as I stood.

My weaving motion saved me from a fist in the mouth. The grunt sounded familiar. “It was you,” I croaked, driving a curled fist into a gut. An ‘Oof’ answered me.

My own thirty-eight special swung up at me. “Damn patsy,” swore John.

Grace held onto his arm. “No, honey. We can still make the setup work. Allen’s fingerprints are all over the bloody money and ring. Harriet’s body is in place. All we have to do is arrange things and call it in.”

So Grace’s detective agency didn’t just handle divorces. It now handled the wrong side of murder. “What a sap.” I rubbed the goose egg on my scalp. It throbbed trying to give birth. “Brother, you sure hold a grudge about my not signing the double-indemnity clause on that new employee life insurance policy.”

“March.” Grace took our gun, assuming being in charge again.

“Harriet wouldn’t agree to a divorce,” explained John.

I led the way through the gate in his fenced backyard. Harriet looked lazily drunk hanging half off one of their lounge chairs. Not a pretty sight. I knew I’d be joining her soon. It was the neighborly thing to do. “Why’d you chop her hand off?” I asked, to keep the momentum going.

“Funny that. It was an accident. I was chopping wood and she wanted to help.”

“The blood money in her closed fist?” I wondered aloud.

"Pay off. Vacation money for time together to try again. I spooked throwing it in the can. Was coming back to get it."

“Shut up,” Grace’s hand waved the gun at John before turning it back towards me.

It was the only chance I had. “Sorry.”

I lurched behind John, turning him into a human shield. The gun popped twice. John grunted in surprise. “Baby,” Grace exploded, firing off round after round.

The man was too heavy. “Dead weight.” I had to let him fall. I heard the click of the hammer hit an empty chamber, looked up to see Grace aiming the barrel at her ear.

What happened next will forever paint a picture of horror in my mind. Grace threw the gun at me. I still have the scar on my face. She stepped back, tripped over Harriet’s dangling arm and hand; fell back tripping and falling on the sharp up ended blade of John’s ax.

I may not be a mastermind of detection. Neither were the cops showing up after my 911. They took me through their paces. The most suspicious thing was finding Grace had signed her side of a new double indemnity insurance policy to match the one she offered me.

It was a nosy neighbor, old Missus Fairchild, who's snooping hobby forced them to forgo charges. the witch had come out to tell me off, seen it all. She still thought of me as trash.

I forgave her. The report she gave about my hunting through weekly garbage for odd’s and ends, seeing me shaking Harriet’s hand and John bludgeoning my head free’d me.

I offered to pay her, but she recoiled against receiving blood money. Got to hand it to her, sometimes you just don’t have a clue who's naughty and nice. I gave up detecting the trash in people’s lives. Grace taught me that. I don’t have the talent.

I find my new career as a private garbage collector quite worthwhile. It is so much less messy and in a second hand way, much easier to sell at better than cost. Harriet's wedding ring went towards my early retirement, once the insurance money comes in.


August 5, 2020 at 11:30am
August 5, 2020 at 11:30am
#989964
This weren’t no picnic, truth tell all. Least wise not the usual kind. Family made it out so, the biggest assemblage of kin ever planned to occur at Granpy’s place. Outdoor tents was to be given their marching orders and staked out in the old cow pasture away from the stone house proper. It lay tranquil now inhabited by ghosts, land now overgrown with weeds and memories of times of yore.

I spose I was one of those memories, only come alive when brooding talk and a curse was followed by a rage infested swat on a child’s behind. “You’ll end up like Uncle Thomas.” It was a threat sent many a young evil deeder’s young owner hungry without dinner to bed. From date of birth we are hot blooded kin.

Some fast growing Aspen trees hid our people’s graveyard which Granpy presided over, him and his fertile long gone bride. Memaw took notions, they said, visiting and haunting dreams. She did like spreading gossip, like seeing the night sweats, the fear moon beams reflected out of wide opening eyes.

At her worst she was a succubus, too fertile for her own good. Grampy had met his match being the vampire that he were, sucking the life out of young virgins lost lin their nightmares. Memaw did her best to keep up with her prowling among bachelor bedtimes riding them hard past exhaustion.

I had a ghost of a chance at keeping up to such as that mischief. I bid my time watching the family picnic preparations take ruefull shape from afar. Many a bottle of homemade spirits were made and bottled up for the festivities. I hid trapped in one. I weren’t the only one. We are a mass of ancestors abiding that graveyard and anxious as sin not to be deprived of our attendance.

Last year lay uneasy, only half buried in many minds. We wouldn’t be kept bottled up for long. Several of recent acquaintance had been delivered then to our side of the dark veil. It were getting cramped among the tombstones, you can be sure of that.

The suggestion among our other worldly selves was we needed space, some branching out. It takes a great deal of spirit to meld into other life forms not wanting our company. Humans with their suggestibility are tamed best. And kin? With our legends stuck between their ears? Fear opens them up, cut like a knife by any shiver brought by a creak of sound or moving shadow.

We are raised to accept ghostly thoughts in our heads, the feeling of vampires and succubus sucking life into death. It would not be a picnic. What I hoped for was an orgy of gluttony in the family gathering.

When my cork got popped I foamed out half drunk with wild anticipation. Imagine my surprise. We ancients had been spirited away, gifts from our families as promises of revelry to others picnics near and far away.

It was hard to swallow. The stranger fellow nearly choked getting me down. Once joined we became highly spirited, indeed. In my exuberance I strangled the life out of the fellow with his own upthrust vomit. “Too soon.” I crooned in what I thought his last breath. And it was.

Hands joined from behind, one into a fist cracking a rib with a heimlich. The fun was just begun. We had our picnic after all. Cast free, I searched for my next victim. Everything seemed relative around me.

Why were we being not sampled? Why the taped up heavy cases. What was this about being thrown in the back of a van? Kidnapped? Usurpers? At gunpoint? It made my vacuous alcoholic liquid want to boil.

I could see the reflection of other spirits awash in the bottles being flung nearest me, agleam with the same hot desire. All we needed was to have one of wobble a little more. Instead, one of the interlopers sneered at the captive picnic throng. Making a pert young lass dance to the tune of his gun spitting dust on her toes, Face swollen with mirth and the hot sweat dripping across his lips he shot his last bullet.

It was no wobble but it would do. He popped the cap of what he thought to be delicious brew. The spirit he swallowed brought instant surprise to his eyes. It looked like he had seen a ghost. Turning white as a sheet his hands shot around his own neck and squeezed.

There was a murmur growing into amazed reprise among the stranger picnic folk. That came to the attention of the three other thugs. One dropped me and the rest of my boxed companions into a shattered glassy mess.

We were free to return home. Not before releasing bottled up mischief. While the picnickers ran from the sight, we more spirited souls took turns making our recent captors breathless, gasping, passing out, then dead. I and my ghostly kin had been a bit too rambunctious.

Back home among the tents and earthly relatives we were cursed when making our grand appearance. They’d had but water to spell their thirst except for vengeance. Cursed beyond belief, each of us, instead of being honored, were cast back to our graveyard and six feet under.

We have a year to make a mischievous plan, sleep and dream. Beware beloved kin. Life may be less of a picnic after brewing our plots.

I’m not saying be careful what kind of spirits you may drink next year at our annual celebration. Just know that one of them just might be me.






August 4, 2020 at 7:08am
August 4, 2020 at 7:08am
#989843
They hired Jenny Thomas for the Skeleton. It was a fifty year old white painted and wooden bolted together monstrosity that creaked, groaned and moved during the ride. “The original and first roller coaster in this part of the country,” Amos, the park caretaker said, brandishing a wrench too big for his small hands.

At sixteen, jobs of any kind were difficult things, first to discover, then to understand. “Your job is to stand there looking pretty. Flirt with the boys and tease the girls. You’re pretty enough. Just like the Skeleton, promise but don’t deliver.”

Amos showed her the lever. When squeezed and pushed to the point of breaking it got the roller cars moving or stopped them when pulled back. That was the front end of the job. Easy enough for a two year old. “The Skeleton’s got good bones. Probably last forever,” Amos winked his one good eye.

“People are crazy,” he said. “Watch out for the ones with the mad eyes. There will be at least one a season takes the jump. This rickety old thing manages three stories high at the top. Suicides don’t sell tickets. Well one did.”

Jenny’s look followed the arthritic bony knuckle Amos pointed with, at the white wooden cross with the RIP and 1951 printed in black on it. “The first.”

The park was named Lagoon. That part now looked like a sewer. It was another leftover attraction from the past. “Worse n’ piss. Used to ride boats on it when the park opened, would you believe," said Amos.

Jenny did. The wetland became part of her chores, a growing list never written down on her job description, was checking the level of water. If it rose beyond the white painted notch on the pole stuck in the goo, Amos used a backhoe to clean muck damming the exit grate.

“Got it, girl?” Amos didn’t wait for an answer, maybe too feared it would be ‘no’, a shake of the head and another new employee would refuse the honor, quit and be gone.

“Yeah,” Jenny found herself saying. There was a private reason for her agreement. That first suicide was part of her family history. There was ponderous disagreement about whether her great-grand uncle Melvin Thomas had been pushed to his young death. If his ghost haunted the Skeleton, Jenny meant to find out from the source.

“Dead stinking rat.” Jenny fished the bloated cat sized corpse out of the lagoon now sewer pond. The thing popped from the goo with a smell so horrible it brought tears to her eyes.

“That was me, they said.” Jenny turned to the voice after stuffing the thing into a big black garbage bag. “I worked here, opening season. I was the rat going to tell on them no good doers.”

The apparition though faint in the air looked like it could be Jenny’s brother, the one her mom said died at birth, the dead twin. “Murder’d you, didn’t they?” Jenny found herself saying.

“Took me for my last ride, inspecting it they swore. Rode the front with me up to the top of the world.”

“Then what? And who did it?” Jenny wanted to know. Her blood was up with the discovery and the ghost was fading fast. She didn’t know much about such things. Her gut told her the moment wouldn’t last.

“Still here. Mad about it too. My first haunt was to fright Eldred Evans to death, the bully. Now he stalks the Skeleton riders for easy prey. He knows you’re here,” and the apparition disappeared.

Accidents started happening. Amos declared half seriously it must be a poltergiest. Jenny knew better. “You’re bad luck, girl. Never had bubbling gases rise the Lagoon water higher before. Third time this season I’ve had to backhoe.”

The wash had softened the wooden underpinnings of the Skeleton making the ride more of a thrill. Word spread among riders and Jenny had her hands full of ticket holders. Word from the top, Amos said, was they might shut the thing down.

Greed won. Money talks, changed hands between inspectors and Lagoon Park staff. None laced the palm of Amos who threatened to quit. Something in Jenny’s eyes brought hesitation instead. “Got to ride ‘er daily before anyone, Jenny girl, both you and I. Don’t trust just one to keep an eye on things.”

Jenny could feel the bones of the Skeleton shake worse each time they rode the first car up. There was a black cross at the top painted for warning to keep hands inside.
Seatbelts had been added over the years to keep the crazies from standing, but many were lost or broken. Those in the front car looked to have been cut apart. She’d found buckles rusting during cleanup down below where heaven ruled.

The bully appeared as a ghostly freak mad house skeleton up there in mid air. Jenny lost her lunch. Amos lost his balance, caught at her for purchase. Their screams filled their ears. “Hold on,” the wind whispered in the voice of Jenny’s long dead kin.

Something went wrong right then. Some said it was an accident the way the lever slipped, pushed itself into high gear. The front car broke off from those behind it with a bone crunching sound. All Jenny knew was she was learning to fly in an open metal casket with Amos paralized beside.

Wind whistled as their flight gained speed. Amos regained motion, trying to claw his way outside of gravity and failing. Jenny could hear the roar of a spectator crowd as she arched overhead. “Hold on,” spoke the wind in her ears. “It’s not going to happen again.”

Amos and Jenny made splashdown in the soft wet muck of the sewer pond once called a lagoon. The rise in water level saved them from more than a jaw splitting jar. Amos took a gut punch from a falling piece of Skeleton board. Knocked him unconscious from seeing what happened next.

Only Jenny viewed two ghostly apparitions winking into sight within shards of light as the Skeleton fell roaring apart. Beams of old broken white painted wood speared the muck around her. She watched in a fear heightened daze that only lasted minutes but seemed to go on and on.

Her car began bubbling and sinking, taking Jenny with it. “Walk the planks,” she heard a voice call out.

She couldn’t. There was Amos to take care, the spectacle of two ghosts having at it, like dark storm clouds filled with fire and lightning. The leftover still standing wreckage of the Skeleton began to burn.

The bully had enough, and attempted to flee. Jenny felt the stink of the sewer rise about her saving her from the flames and Amos too. “Hold on.” It was Jenny’s great-grand uncle doing so, refusing to let the bully go. She watched as they became swallowed up in a cloud of writhing thick black smoke.

It didn’t take long once the rescue party got started, to fish Amos and Jenny back to solid ground. There were still smoke signals in the air but none inhabited. The bully and Jenny’s kin disappeared along with them as the cleanup went on from daylight into the dead of a full moon lit night.

The marker white painted wooden cross was gone. Jenny left soon after with promises made to Amos to stay in touch. Both knew that wouldn’t happen. No more than they would receive lost pay for the rest of the season. Each was fired, let go, right on the spot.

Jenny went back home with her story. Some of her family believed her, others scoffed as was their will. She figured they were envious of the media attention making Jenny momentarily famous. All kept the words secret from outsiders. “Hold on,” was what Jenny learned from the experience. It proved to bode well. There’s not much between a ghost and a guardian angel when it comes down to it, but that.

“Hold on,” when things got tough made Jenny a stronger person, helping the weaker along the way. Some have jobs, that was Jenny’s career no matter what else came along. When she became not much more than a skeleton with cancer bullying her body, mind and soul, she began looking in her mirror seeing a ghostly image of her reflected self.

Some said the black smoke from the Lagoon ride had sunk into her lungs, festered and eaten there. Jenny just smiled. There will always be bullies, she guessed. Never enough heroes to hold onto.

When Jenny passed, three and a half years after working at Lagoon, she’d made many a memory to hold onto for those she left behind. Some say when she went up in smoke at the crematorium, a whisper went up with her carrying her to the clouded sky.

“Let go. Soar and fly.”


August 3, 2020 at 8:32am
August 3, 2020 at 8:32am
#989770
Nobody reads anymore. Newspapers can’t make a buck. Bookstores are folding. There are no second chances for print these days. I’d given up on my local Walmart’s one shelf of best sellers, found myself rocking heels at a Salvation Army second hand store. The paperback offerings from the 1950’s balanced next to the 60’s and 70’s petering off into more recent times.

Max Brand met Frederk Pohl. Robert Parker chinned about private eye and cop stuff with Ed McBain. All ghosts from a past much friendlier to hands such as mine that liked turning pages.

“You drop this?”

Startled out of my muse, I couldn’t help but look at the book thrust at me. The face appearing above it could have been born in the imagination of Stephen King, Clive Barker or with a few more wrinkles perhaps H.P. Lovecraft, himself.

“Nope.” I don’t like strangers. I have no friends except for books. Once you find an author you like they stay alive long after people say they are gone. You visit whenever you want. Henry Kuttner is like that for me. If you’ve ever read ‘Cold War’, you know what I mean.

“It wants you,” the stranger said. He sounded urgent, kept thrusting the book at me.

I hate scenes, can’t stand being in groups, and this dude was acting strange. Time to placate. Get lost. “Obliged.” I had to take the paperback or wear it. When I did the dude evaporated into thin air.

Sometimes I see things. The book was real. The man might have been, might not. I thumbed the pages rippling the edges against my hand. The cover spoke to me. The author’s name was mine. I’d seen that before, mine’s not uncommon. It still gave me a start. The graphic and title blended together in my mind. I heard myself croak, “The Screaming Meme.”

I knew what those were. Nervous, hysterical jitters. I fought a nervous giggle from jumping out of my mouth. It was time to boogie. Coming to the attention of store personnel never turned out O.K. for me.

“Hey, man. You gotta’ pay for that.”

The book was frozen in my grip as I’d started plunging through an exit door. I’d blanked. Didn’t even know in my frenzied escape that I still held it. Or it had a hold on me. “Sorry. Here. Keep the change.” Guilty as charged. The fresh greenback result of my cashed social security check blossomed a smile on the security guard’s lips.

“Idiot.” I lashed myself with the pejorative word. I’d meant to spend no more than fifty cents for some old fiction. What was I going to live on for a month?

It was interesting. I began reading and time flew away. When I looked up it was into a formless cloud surrounding me. Vague sounds emitted within the gloom, questions as to who was the hunted and prey? “What the?”

What was going on? What passed for air was cloying, wet, sucking at my lungs with every breath. I slammed the covers of the book closed. A popping sound exploded against my ears. I blinked at the sight of normalcy returning to my gaze, except for one thing. There was a severed tentacle writhing at my feet with drips of gore where it had been attached to the insides of the book.

“Almost got me.” The gorge rose in my throat, bitter as my thoughts. “That stranger had something to do with this. “His, ‘It wants you.’” flashed into my mind. Whatever words I had been reading were lost in their place.

One works with what one has. The book has been useful. People don’t read anymore. Not the one’s I meet. They can’t be found at all. I hear them sometimes in the fog. That’s what I call it. That place I find when I open the covers and begin to read outloud. The spell it casts on the person closest by is amazing.

They may not read, but they listen. They come along for the ride.

I never stay long in that other place. Too dangerous for me. Getting more dangerous all the time. It only takes a moment to strip companions of a purse or wallet. I no longer worry about needful things and I am back. They aren’t.

It is about time for me to give the book to someone else. Those chilling sounds I hear are more frequently calling to me. Me who brings them their sacrificial offerings. They know me better now, than I seem to know myself, are waiting for the book covers to open.

Yes. It is time for the book to exchange hands. I’ve had enough. Maybe just once more? How hungry am I? Hungrier than what waits inside? I’ve had plenty of second chances and got away Scott free. How lucky am I?


August 2, 2020 at 11:13am
August 2, 2020 at 11:13am
#989720
Stealing things wasn’t a habit, Eddie Hightower reasoned with himself. Sure it was an instinct lurking for expression in everyone, but? This had always been a fallback position before now.

The mint first issue of ‘Weird Tales’, dated March 1923, stuck against his liver, had both J. C. Henneberger and J. M. Lansinger’s autographs scrawled on the cover. "Give me the heebie jeebies, seeing that."

It was the bee's knees finding the mad rag tucked away in old Mister Peterson's everything store. Eddie thought he would have traded his soul for it. Mister Peterson's sharp eyes and sharper tongue wanted more.

There was a long drawn out sticky silence that clung to Eddie Hightower. Somehow, Eddie managed the struggle of swallowing dry spit. He gulped down his Adam's apple along with the fear of being found out. Eddie replied, "I was going to buy it. Serious."

Mister Peterson pointed a bony finger at the sign above the adult section of shelves. It read. 'Fondle it. You buy it.' "Now, son. What do you think that priceless piece of living artifact is worth?"

The old goat pulled a baseball bat out from beneath the top of his counter. The light dimmed as his feet shuffled in front of the shop's ancient front door. "Not taking your claptrap. I've had enough shenanigans of you young folk turning me for a fool, stealing me blind. I'm going take the purchase price right out of you, youngster. Leave what pain is left in your broken bruised body for the police and an ambulance to find."

While the artsy-fartsy idiot sang his tooty-fruty song and bounced his baseball bat end off the floor, Eddie made his play. He used the only weapon he had, whipping his belt loose he snapped the end looping and bringing the bat within reach. "I think you should pay better attention, old man. Now I think I earned what's already mine. I'm taking it with me. Stand aside."

Mister Peterson hung a wad of greenish phelm on the floor. "I read that mag, boy, cover to cover. Best take a look at that first horror story inside before you commit anything rash."

The shop owner didn't look beaten or even non pulsed. "In fact. The truth be told? Ever hear of Deja Vu? We're living it." A scraggly claw adjusted the man's spectacles in front of black owlish eyes.

"Just the first page ought to do. I'll give the mag free if you do, We'll be palsy walsy." Mister Peterson leaned against the wall, allowing light to stream into Eddie where the Weird Tales top had poked out in place.

Eddie nodded, broke open the pages and read. There in plain sight was his name and Mister Peterson's made main characters. Eddie read on, breathless, heart racing on to the next page then stopped.

He could tell by the look in Mister Peterson's eyes, the way the horror story would end as the bat rolled itself across the floor.





July 31, 2020 at 8:57am
July 31, 2020 at 8:57am
#989578
“What you looking at?”

Jeddy Waudups stopped playing with the rubik’s Cube and moved over to look at NBC news. “Another serial killer? Jesus. The 80’s will be known as the serial killer years. They are becoming as common as flies.”

Karen Waudups fingers twitched, hiding the notepad and pen. Nothing went unnoticed by her husband of two years. “Gimme.” She did, automatically cringing, waiting for the snap of his fingertips against her ear that stung like a bee when they whipped.

“What the F***?” His pale gray eyes widened. “You keeping track?” His callused hard fingertips caressed the limp yellow lined paper as he read the names on each line.

Larry Eyler. ...
. Joseph Christopher. ...
. Richard Ramirez. ...
. Doug Clark and Carol Bundy. ...
. Jeffrey Dahmer. ...
. Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole. ...
Carol Bundy had been underlined. It was the only female name on the list. Underlined in lipstick red. “Dumb F***.” He said. Must be a mistake.

But she had proven her point. When Jeddy stopped chain smoking Chesterfields long enough look, there the woman’s name was. “Fourth worst serial killer of the decade so far and climbing higher.” He read on the same kind of yellow notepad paper his wife used.

This one had been given him by some broad entrenched behind the local library’s information desk. She’d smirked when he asked for the head librarian (a male) to double check. A dim crack of curiosity appeared behind Jeddy Waudups widening eyes.

“I’ll have to beat the S*** out of her. Find out what’s going on.” His fingertips twitched in their familiar pattern of whiplashing, stinging, leaving fresh pink blush wherever they touched. A week didn’t go by without putting Carol Bundy, no what was he thinking of, Karen Waudups in her place.

The name slip bothered him. Karen had already ruined his lunch hour, taking away from him on this errand. His fingers drummed on the steering wheel of his Ford Escort. She’d cleaned the blood off her shotgun seat. That time his hands hadn’t stopped.

‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson played on the car radio. “You got it brother. Mighty white of you to remind me.” Things in the marital department had escalated lately. He couldn’t seem to get it off without . . . A slow smile curled Jeddy’s lips. He licked them, feeling a stir of excitement down below.

“F*** it. And her.” He’d call in later. Tell work it was a little emergency at home. “And it will be. God knows.” Make up the time later. Karen would pay for making him feel like this.

“She loves it.” The front of his pants were getting wet. “Macho Man. Beat it.” His fingers did just that between his legs. The car horn blaring at him as he slid towards it into the next lane startled Jeddy out of his trance.

“God D***,” His foot kicked the brake like it was a dirty whore. Too late. “Mother F*****.”

Seatbelts were a mandatory thing now. Jeddy was still fighting it. The quick stop had snapped his tongue between his teeth, wrenched his neck into a fireball. He swallowed blood, gulped it warm and wet down his throat. The anger coming up spun him out of his side door like a hurricane.

“Jesus.” He stood on the balls of his feet staring. “The boobs on that rack.”

“Howdy, pardner.” A sultry low voice breathed at him. “We’ll have to trade license information.” Gray eyes flicked at him up and down, noticing the bulge in his pants. The smell of sex coming off him. “And maybe trade a little something else, big man.”

Why couldn’t Karen look and act like this wide awake dream? Jeddy’s fingertips fought themselves, jerking his wallet out of the seat of his pants. He handed it over without saying a word. Not noticing the long tipped red fingernails scratching at his palm.

“Here’s mine.”

Jeddy couldn’t take his eyes off her cleavage. When the woman breathed, her nipples popped vividly in place. He took a strangled breath, gulping it down, sucking on his injured tongue. All the anger in him drained out of his face leaving pure blushing hot lust.

“Poor thing. Balls exploded, didn’t they. Jeddy Waudups.”

Why couldn’t Karen talk like that instead of praying for him to stop while laying under his missionary position. No wonder he treated her . . . here was a real woman. Jeddy felt his snake stir into an iron rod.

Vapor from his steaming radiator swirling around them went unnoticed as did the small ghostly crowd gathering around. All he felt was the tall blonde’s hand unzipping his crotch, squeezing him out right here on a public street, pre cum dripping on her fingers. “Oh, my. I think I’m having a crash crush.” She rose on the tip of her four inch stiletto high heels to force her tongue in his mouth.

“Thanks for the souvenir. I think I have all the information I need. You’re the one for me.”

Jeddy Waudups arched up on the tips of his own toes, eyeballs trying to pop out of his head. She smothered the scream by sucking it in where their lips met. The hand squeezing, tightened, sharp red fingernails digging in. They sliced, diced, came out with his balls handed back to him. “Nice meeting you, Jeddy Waudups. Tell your wife hello for me, if you can. I”ll check back later to see how you are doing.”

It was more a moaning wail ending in a high pitched screech that sent the crowd scattering. Jeddy Waudups rocked, curled up in the same fetal position he’d been born in after leaving his mother’s womb.

The calling card left stuck to his bloody front pants had the name Carol Bundy printed on it. His wife’s name Karen Waudups was hand printed on the back.

The news leaked out into the evening papers, on radio and TV. Everywhere. “Heard you met someone interesting,” Karen Waudups had brought flowers to the hospital room. Jeddy didn’t feel like talking. Carol Bundy had taken the tip of his tongue along with her.

The police had let Karen see her husband before taking her into custody, the crimes yet to be formally made. When her husband wouldn’t even look at her, the cops led her away. No additional information had been gained.

There was not enough evidence to charge her. Karen eventually found herself let go. The name of a stranger was written on the calling card waiting from Carol Bundy stuck in the mailbox back home.

“Wife beater.” Karen’s head nodded. That had been the payment Carol Bundy required when connecting with Jeddy Waudups wife after his last abusive attack. Women gossip. Neighbors tell secrets. The network wasn’t one including F****ed up men.

The number of castrated husbands across the country never made the headlines. Macho men don’t like that kind of news spread. They don’t like anything at all, except for saying “Yes ma’am,” to their wives holding whips over them. Beating their buns. It was how they liked it.

They’d better. Carol Bundy’s group of admirers would make sure that happened if by some small chance it wasn’t already obvious.

The crash course Jeddy Waudups had, ended well.






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