A Short Story that takes place in a cemetery
And He Walks
Sylvia insisted on a need for music everywhere and playing the radio loud even today in the midst of a cemetery. Some would consider her disrespectful, for a cemetery is a sacred place and others just consider a cemetery place of ghouls, but Sylvia didn't care what anyone thought she said the music helped her work. The whole day revolved around music in one way or another from the moment our day began. Ruby was beginning to find it all a bit ironic....
Take for example the way her day had started, Sylvia drove up in her black Sebring convertible to the curb in front of the white picket fence that neatly bordered her little white house and honked. Ruby opened her front door, her warm brown curls tumbled over her shoulders.
"Just a minute I'm not quite ready." She was struggling with her jeans. "Dang."
She mumbled to no one in particular. "I know the dryer must have shrunk these things. They fit the last time I put them on."
Lunging low to the floor, she stretched the jeans, pulled them on, and fastened them.
"O.k. that's better."
She pulled on her shirt, put on her tennis shoes, grabbed her purse, and was out the door.
Her sister Sylvia said, "Well it's about time slow poke." She smiled and winked. "Let's hit the musty dusty." Her short blond hair wind blown and tussled, looked good that way.
Ruby jumped in the car and Tracy Chapman crooned, "Give me one reason to stay here and I'll turn right back around..." Ruby reached over and turned up the song.
Sylvia threw a ball cap at her sister and said, "You might wanna put this on." Then peeled down the country road. The brilliant fall leaves painted a beautiful canvas across the hillside. "Do you think you could possibly live any further out in the boonies? That's o.k. it's puurrrrfecto for where we are going today." She squealed around a curve.
Ruby pulled her hair into a pony tail through the back of the ball cap, shouting, "How bout slowing down a little. What's the matter with just soaking up a little scenery?"
"Ready for a little adventure, Ruby.?"
"Anytime I do anything with you turns into an adventure sis. What exactly are we doing today?"
And that's the way it had been as long as Ruby could remember. Ruby credited her sister's wild and impulsive ways to her creativity and lack of discipline.
Sylvia interrupted her thoughts by answering her question.
"Sit back and enjoy the ride. It's a beautiful day and we're going to do a little graveyard snooping. I have an art project in mind for Valentine's Day. Oh, my God I love this song. Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy" have you heard it?"
As much as Ruby loved Sylvia, she made it hard sometimes because of the trouble they got into on these little adventures. Sylvia liked to call them little complications when she broke the promises she made, like, I'll have you back in time for your appointment or your date. Then she'd get so absorbed in what she was doing; or we'd go further than she meant; or we'd have a flat tire in the middle of no where; or we'd have one too many in a place where it's not a good idea to have one too many; or 1,000 other reasons Ruby didn't want to think about right now. Today Ruby knew better than to plan anything else. She couldn't blame everything on Sylvia, she knew her sister and when she went no one ever held a gun to her head. She went because she wanted to and she loved the excitement of these little escapades.
"Yes, I have." Shaking her head and smiling at the pure inability of her sister's mind to stay anywhere for very long.
Sylvia turned up the music even louder.
Ruby thought the lyrics fit her mood at the moment and sang the lyrics. She pointed at her sister in the part as she sang "...I think you're crazy...Just like me." It was a beautiful day for late October in Tennessee. They were both laughing.
At the insinuation she was "crazy" Sylvia said, "Shut up."
Ruby, still looking at her sister, pointed at herself and sang the song again.
"Maybe I'm crazy...Maybe I'm crazy..Maybe I'm crazy..probably.." They both sang now and Ruby waved her arms in the air and swayed back and forth to the rhythm of the music. More in the spirit of the day Ruby said. "O.K. tell me more about this art project you are going to create in a cemetery."
"I've found this really old, beautiful, historic cemetery, connected to an old estate. It has public access and I'm going to do headstone rubbings to transfer to canvas."
"I'm not quite getting the same vision you are. Help me out here sis."
"Haven't you ever seen headstone rubbings?"
"Yeah, I've seen them on paper to get names for genealogy but not in the way you are suggesting. I still don't get it."
"Here's my idea, first, people wrote beautiful poems on headstones in the 1800's that were so much more romantic then than we do today. Second, the writing on them is gothic. Thirdly, I transfer them from the headstone with art chalk to art paper then to canvas."
"What are you going to do with them after that?" Ruby asked cautiously.
"Sell them for Valentine gifts. Great idea, huh?" Sylvia asked excitedly.
"It's an unique idea. We there yet?"
"Almost there. You sound like a little kid. Are we there yet?"
"Here we are."
They turned onto a dirt road, drove until the road narrowed, and then ran out. They entered through tall arched gates into an old cemetery. There was an old Mausoleum in the center and an old two story white house off to the right. Besides being very old, as far as Ruby was concerned it was also spooky.
"What the heck, Sylvia, this place is straight out of Dark Shadows."
"I swear Ruby sometimes you are so melodramatic. Quit being a baby and get out of the car."
"I'm not a baby I just said the place looked creepy. I mean what kind of romantic anything is going to be here."
Sylvia put her radio on a headstone and turned it on. Ruby said, "I can't believe you are really going to play that thing. It doesn't seem right."
"Why? Whose gonna care?"
"I wanna be able to hear if anyone comes around, Sylvia. You can't hear anything, but that music."
"Oh, for pete's sake Ruby. Would you knock it off? Nobody is going to come around and it helps me work."
Sylvia ran to the first headstone. "What did I tell you look these poems are incredible, come over here and look at this one I believe it's Native American."
NON OMNIS MORIAR.
The nightingale, whose simple melody
Breaks on the silence of the deep midnight,
May cease its music ere the morning's light,
And on the turf with blood-stained plumage lie.
As the tree falleth shall it rest for aye
When the flower droops it will not bloom again
Nor shall the bird, by some rude archer slain,
Awake and sing but / may never die!
Ruby had to admit there was a mysticism and beauty to them that had fallen away today. The sun was beginning to set before either sister noticed the lateness of the day. Ruby called to Sylvia. "Sylvia look at this headstone. it's very unusual."
"And, He Walks at Night,
When day has passed.
My love, Throughout Eternity.
Death Came too fast,
But Did not Last.
My love, Throughout Eternity.
And He Walks at Night,
When Day has Passed."
"What do you make of that?"
"I don't know? Maybe a lost lover who went on to the life after and she couldn't forget him. I have no idea but I've got to finish up here. So many other poems and you get stuck on that one."
Ruby noticed one bat, then another fluttered by, pointed it out to Sylvia and said,
"You know what they say about bats Sylvia."
"Sometimes you are such a freak Ruby. That's a legend. You don't really believe in crap like that do you?"
"Behind every legend is some kind of truth Sylvia. Do you remember the time when we were kids and were walking in the cemetery on a full moon talking about werewolves?"
"Yeah and one didn't come out and get us did it?"
"But we heard this howling out in the distance and got really spooked. It sure cut our walk short. I remember that. Look how quick it's getting dark Sylvia. Would you hurry up?"
Sylvia laughed but when a bat flew close to her head she jumped and screamed, "All right I'll finish up but not because I'm worried about any vampires but because I don't think it's not any too smart to be in a cemetery after dark. Other unsavory characters could show up."
As they talked of legends, bats and others things, an icy wind blew across the headstone of "And He Walks". As it happened at that moment the haunting melody of the Phil Collin's song "Feel it in the Air Tonight" floated in the air, Ruby froze in place, her attention drawn by a bat to the top of the steps of the mausoleum. Sylvia rattled on and on; Ruby heard nothing. Her gaze fixed on a tall muscular build, dressed all in black; his long black hair blew in wind. In contrast to the ebony of his black cape, his skin was an ivory white. She heard the line, "I've been waiting for this moment for all of my life," and Ruby new that she had. She didn't know why but she knew it was true. From across the cemetery, his eyes bore into hers and suddenly the spell was broken.
Sylvia yelled. "What's going on? You deaf or something?"
Ruby annoyed with her sister still said nothing.
"I'm afraid it was my fault I believe I startled her?"
Now Sylvia stared but she was not entranced like Ruby. She seemed more, what was the word--pensive?
"My name is Federico, I live here on the Cemetery grounds. I take care of them. I hope I did not frighten you ladies."
Sylvia spoke first, Ruby still silent. "My name is Sylvia and this is my sister Ruby." She hit her sister in the ribs with her elbow. Ruby looked at the ground.
"I'm sorry I hope you don't mind I'm just finishing up before dark. Were we intruding?" She looked at her sister and through gritted teeth said, "What the heck's wrong with you?"
"Nothing." She looked back at Federico and tried to establish her composure.
"Not at all. I find what you're doing most interesting. I was watching and you picked some interesting headstones. That is my favorite." He pointed to one they had not seen.
Sleep my love your work at last is done,
Rest my love until we will be as one.
I weep my love for your arms I will not feel,
I weep my love for my pain your lips cannot heal.
I rejoice my love for one day your dark eyes I will see,
I rejoice my love for together one day we will always be.
For My Lover Maria
"May I ask what you're going to do with the ones you have chosen?"
"I'm going to put them on canvas and hopefully people with want them for them this time of year for Valentines. A different idea I thought and I do like that one the poem is lovely. Was that a relative? The name is Spanish as well?"
"Yes she was the lover of my great great grandfather. There is a legend her spirit wanders the cemetery looking for him still." He looked right at Ruby as he spoke. Then he turned away, "Of course that is only a legend.” And smiled at Sylvia. "I believe your idea will go over well, though."
"Thank you I hope so. An interesting legend about your relative. My sister and I were speaking of legends as well." And Sylvia cut her eyes at Ruby and smiled.
Ruby glared at Sylvia but before she could say anything Frederico spoke again.
"Sylvia, while you're finishing up perhaps Ruby would like a look around." He looked Ruby directly in the eyes, then turned to Sylvia and smiled.
Ruby nodded yes and never said a word.
"Since my sister seems to have lost her voice it's o.k. with me just don't be too long."
"We won't. Be back before you know it."
Ruby walked off without a backward glance.
When her sister left Sylvia began to get a little uneasy and hurried to finish. The cemetery seemed to be cold and lonely without her. She turned off the radio; she wanted to hear the noises around her. She suddenly wondered why she had encouraged her sister to walk off with a total stranger. She decided she was done with what she was doing when she heard a noise behind her.
Only more of the infernal bats, why did she let her sister go off like that? What was she thinking? Bats were no big deal, she knew that. She never got nervous in cemeteries. It was just getting late and all. She began to gather her things more quickly. She called out, "Ruby." No answer.
Ruby followed Federico through the cemetery and he showed her the house. He had the most inviting eyes she'd ever seen. Ruby was entranced and she thought to herself, I believe I have waited for this night for all of my life. Before she left, he took her into an embrace that seemed to last forever. He buried his face in her neck and she felt as though there was no one on earth but the two of them for that moment. His scent, his touch, consumed her then he released her and left her standing at the top of the steps where he had been what had seemed like only moments before. She seemed to float back to Sylvia.
"What took you so long?"
"Have I been gone long, sis? Now look whose getting spooked?" She traced her fingers over headstones as they left the cemetery lingering by the headstone of Maria.
"Would you come on? I really don't like being here in the dark. I'm not spooked but you never know whose going to hang out in the cemetery after dark. Druggies, thieves, who knows."
"Oh brother. All right, all right."
"What's gotten into you?"
They walked down the trail to the car and Ruby reveled in every sound and savored every smell of the evening.
Sylvia stopped suddenly. "What the heck?"
"I left the top down on the car and now it's up."
"Are you sure you left it down?"
"Yes I am."
Ruby walked to the car with no fear. Sylvia called out, "Ruby! Come back here!" Ruby turned around. "No worries."
She got in the car and was no longer visible. Sylvia heard a muffled scream. The car began to shake violently, when the shaking subsided, the passenger door opened slowly. Sylvia her blood like ice, heart hammering in her ears, froze in her tracks.
Her sister's limp head and shoulders fell from the car and then Ruby opened her eyes and said, "BOO!" She laughed hysterically and said "You should see you face."
"Damn you! What the hell's gotten into you? You scared the life out of me!" Sylvia started towards the car and then stopped. "I don't understand. Why is the top of my car up?"
"I did it before we left. In case it rained."
"How could you? I had the keys." She looked for the keys and they were missing. Ruby dangled the keys in front of her face.
"I'm not laughing." Her sister stormed towards the car and stopped again.
"Oh come on. You're usually the one that has all the fun and I'm the stick in the mud. I'm sorry I didn't mean to scare you.----Nooot!" And she started laughing again.
"Give me the frigging keys!"
"O.K." She tossed the keys to her sister. "Geeeezz. When you're the one playing jokes it's different."
"I would never try to scare the living daylights out of you. I thought you were being attacked."
Sylvia got to the car, stood there a minute, looked in the backseat of the car, and then got in. She started the car and took a deep breath her heart rate was beginning to slow to a normal rate. She looked at Ruby, whom she could freely kill at this moment. She was smiling in a way she had never seen before or maybe Sylvia had just never really paid attention to before.
Ruby said, "Look I'm sorry I didn't mean to scare you, really. Let's get going." Ruby looked ahead and there was a tall shadow at the end of the road. She looked at her sister and said. "Do you know what He told me about her?."
"He told you about who?"
"It's him you know."
"Him who? What are you talking about? Are you all right? You're spooking me?"
"The one who walks at night. And she waits for him."
"Ruby you're not making any sense. You look awful." Her sister had gone deathly pale agains the passenger door.
"Ruby you look awful. I'm worried about you. We need to get you to a doctor."
"I'll be fine. I just need to stop for a minute and get out. Please. I'm going to get sick."
"Can we go just a little further Ruby I'm feeling a little uneasy, I want to get a little further down the road. You're not acting like yourself."
"No I can't Sylvia I'm serious!"
Sylvia looked over at her sister and she had grown terribly pale and did look sick. She pulled the car off to the side of the road. "What wrong Ruby? You look awful..."
"I'm not sure. I feel really weak but I feel as if I'm going to be sick. Would you help me out of the car?"
Sylvia came around to Ruby's side of the car and put her arms around Ruby's waist. Ruby reached up and put her arm around Sylvia's neck and her head fell onto to her sister's shoulder. She leaned against her sister for support. "Ruby are you o.k. You're frightening me."
"We'll awaken her tonight you know." she whispered.
"What are you talking about Ruby?"
"It's all right Sylvia you'll understand soon." A deep voice soothing male voice spoke. Sylvia screamed, startled and almost let Ruby fall.
Frederico said. "Shhhhh, It's gonna be all right." He took Ruby from Sylvia and lifted her up. Sylvia could hear a Rod Stewart song floating to her from the car, it seemed to meld into what He was saying. "Tonight's the night, it's gonna be all right" said Frederico.
Rod Stewart sang, "Cause I love you girl ain't nobody gonna stop us now...." She heard, "Spread your wings and let me come inside...She felt her arms opening wide and a searing pain in her neck, then ecstasy... Reality slipped away..... That's the last thing in this world Sylvia remembered. Yes music had always been an important part of any creative event in her life. How fitting?
He walks at night, when day has past, my love throughout eternity.