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Sunday, December 11, 2011

SANTA'S BAG copyright m.s. 2011

On a lonely street corner, off Main and 3rd, a bag lay on the opposite side of the trash cans scattered in a dark alleyway. Once in a while a street light would shine it's florescent blue light on the pavement to reveal movement inside that bag. Just tiny inklings that something was definitely inside it. The sound of scratching, and a low growl. But the bag never moved from it's spot.
On other street corners in the city, the hustle and bustle of people and cars making their way to their destinations. On one of those particular streets, Dave Lomax was fighting his way through a crowd outside an Adult theater to find a seat to spend his third night of restless sleep while men in trench coats explored themselves watching people have sex on the screen.

Just as he was sneaking through a side door, a hand grabbed him. The hand belonged to extremely large black man in a leather coat.
"You don't think you were goin' in there without payin', were you, Chief?" He said pushing Lomax into a brick wall outside the theater.

Lomax felt the pain in his back surge. He shook his head no. "I actually got confused what door to go through." Lomax smiled.
The black man's nostrils curled up. He sniffed the air. "Shit, man. Go get cleaned up. Look, I don't want to be a hard on, but you can't keep sneakin' in my house smellin' up the place. You need a place to sleep, I know the Boys club has some beds open for the holidays. If I give you a twenty, you promise not to drink it all up?"
"You'd do that?" Lomax was stunned. The couple months he'd been kicked out of his house by Lisa, he'd witnessed the dregs of humanity. He'd gotten a place at hotel with a roommate, Charlie Day...a real scumbag-drunk---stole the last fifty from him, then kicked him out when Lomax couldn't procure the rest of the rent.
The black man smiled. "Dude, I know what it's like on the streets. I might run a movie house that shows tits and ass, but I still follow the laws of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Here you go. Don't--" He placed the twenty in Lomax's hand, pulled it away, Lomax still had a piece of it. "Don't drink it up. Understand?"

Lomax nodded quickly. "Yeah, yeah. I don't usually drink, just lately--"
The black man shoved Lomax into the gutters. He fell into the icy snow caked on the vents.
"Merry Christmas. Get cleaned up," The black man wagged a finger.

Dave Lomax just sat there. "Merry Christmas," he whispered, his spirit crushed.
Lomax picked himself up and headed down the street the opposite way. He stopped a minute to stare at the many HD Tv's that were in a store window. On the screens was the Charlie Brown Christmas.
Christmas is not what it used to be, he thought.
He shuffled along, kicking snow with his boots, letting some of it ride on the top for a few feet. Before he realized it, Lomax was down an alley that had no outlet. He looked up and he was on Main and 3rd. He heard a noise behind the trash cans. He saw a stray dog sniffing at a yellow bag that resembled potato bags at grocery stores. The bag moved to the left and the dog jumped at it, wagged it's tail.

"I'm not drunk," Lomax said to himself. "I haven't even started. But that's cat in it." He rubbed his tangled, greasy hair. He laughed, walked toward it. "Hey, you dumb dog. That's just a cat in that bag--"

A thin green arm reached out. It's three fingered claw took hold of the stray dog by the back of it's neck and pulled it inside the bag. The dog gave out a yelp and disappeared into the dark opening of the bag.
Lomax stopped dead in his tracks. Stunned, he staggered back a few steps. "What the hell?" He cried out, his voice bounced off the cold dark night.

Lomax looked behind him. No one there. No one saw it. He rubbed his three day old stubble, put a hand in his pocket. His eyes grew wild. He felt in a once empty pocket and found paper there. He pulled his hand out. Lomax was holding several hundred dollar bills. A few minutes before the event with the dog and the bag, he was thinking about having money--lots of money---so much, in fact, his pockets would never be empty. The twenty was still in the other pocket.
Lomax knew this to be strange. I'm not dreaming, he thought. Because he'd just pinched himself. He looked behind him, no one standing there. He trotted to the bag, which was still moving on the pavement. He heard rustling, a low growl. He hesitated at first. Then decided to scoop up the bag.
"Funny," He said. "On Christmas eve I find Santa's bag." He slung over his shoulder and heard the thing growl louder. The stray dog yelped. "Hey," Lomax yelled at the bag. "I don't know what you are, but you be nice to that dog."
He walked to the other side of Main and hailed a taxi.
The hotel room was dingy and smelled of garlic salt. That was because Lomax's roommate , Cedric, cooked everything with garlic salt. Even toast. Lomax didn't need a key to get in, the lock never worked. All he had to do was jiggle the door knob and the door was open.
Cedric was sprawled out in the middle of the floor, a bottle of Jack Daniel in his hand.

The room was a mess. Take-out boxes from various places littered floor along with dirty laundry. The TV was on, the weather man showing a map where Santa Clause was last spotted, Turkey it seemed.
Lomax sat on the torn sofa, bag beside him. He kicked Cedric a few times. Cedric looked like a gulley dwarf from the latest Peter Jackson movie. His brownish-red beard hung past neck, inching toward his chest. He must have grown it to make up for the lack of hair on his head. His round, plump body heaved and he coughed every time Lomax kicked him.

Cedric shot up, ready to run. He yelled out something inaudible, waved his hands around wildly.
"Cedric," Lomax said. "It's just me. Cedric, It's Dave."
Cedric looked confused, staggered where he stood. Clarity came to him. He looked at Lomax, snarled.
"I kicked you out, you bum," Cedric tried to pick up the bottle twice without falling. The third go was success. But he soon tossed the bottle when he found out it was empty.
"Yes, you did, my so-called friend. I'm here to pay my share of the rent," Lomax threw down a hundred dollar bill on the floor. Cedric's eyes grew big, he leaped for the money, fell on his face.
"Oh, yeah, and tell you to fuck off." Lomax stood grabbed his bag. Cedric held on to his legs. "Get off!" Lomax shook Cedric off.

"Don't go, my friend! Please take care of your Cedric! He will do anything--well almost anything--for you! For you!" Cedric was on his knees, pleading, praying to Lomax. "I don't care how you get financial aid, even if you sell yourself on the street--"
"I don't do that, you idiot."
Cedric's eyes moved back and forth, he was thinking. "No?"
"No. I think it's this bag."
Cedric stood. He only came up to Lomax's chest. he scratched his bald head. "A Santa bag?"
"I thought the same thing when I saw it," Lomax said happily. "I found this bag---I was thinking of money---oh, you wouldn't understand."
"Stay. Explain it to me. I know I could relate--we'll order a pizza. Yes?"
Lomax thought about it. He was hungry. Oh, Cedric was alright.
"Yeah. Okay."

Lomax turned his back to call from Cedric's cell phone when he heard a scuffle and Cedric screamed.

Lomax turned back around. On the phone a voice kept repeating "Hello, hello?" His Santa bag dropped to the floor.
Lomax sighed. "Shit," He said, pressed a button on the cell phone and the voice disappeared. He threw the phone on the sofa and picked up the bag. He heard a low growl from the bag and more scuffling. Then he heard Cedric call out for help.
"Hi," he heard a female voice.
Lomax nearly jumped out of his skin. A short brunette was standing in front of him. She was wearing a blue halter top and and short mini skirt. Lomax dropped the bag. His mouth was hanging open. He couldn't believe it. Just as he was calling for pizza his mind roamed. he began thinking about sex, then his thoughts became a lot more specific.
"You called for a date," the brunette kissed Lomax.

Later on, Lomax just sat in the hotel room, bored out of his skull. It was eleven pm now. The brunette had long disappeared. He was sick of hearing the dog whine, Cedric cry and beg for help, and whatever that thing was in the bag growl and terrorize the dog and Cedric.
"This is shit," He said. He should be with Lisa and her kids, getting smashed, opening presents. He should be with Lisa. Yes. She should not had kicked him out, settled in with Jack. All because he lost his job at the plant and he couldn't handle her taking his spot as the breadwinner.

Well, all that has changed now, Lomax thought. I've got money. Endless money. Now I can take Lisa back, buy her anything she wanted. Jack can be out on the street, like Lomax was.
"Yeah....I'm going over there and bring loads of"

Lomax stood in the driveway of his ex's trailer, the only trailer in an upper-middle class neighborhood. Her father had left it to her, never thought of building a house because he thought it was too much work and a waste of money, he already had a home. The trailer was old, at least twenty years, and the aluminum siding was not silver anymore but a depressing rust color.
Good, Lomax thought. Lisa is home. He could see her Toyota in the driveway, but he also saw Jack's Prius.
"Shit," He said to the thin layer of Christmas lights on the telephone pole. The lights blinked on and off, telling Lomax not to worry about Jack. It told him he was in charge of the situation. Plus, he had two plastic bags of groceries and his Santa bag.
The trailer was lit up with way too many lights, at least ten strands crossing each other. And in the front yard was a snowman missing an eye and his plastic carrot meant for his nose, was now comfortably in his crotch.
Lomax knocked on the screen door.

Lisa opened the front door. She stepped outside on the step, shut the door. Her short brown, wavy hair was stirring slightly in the cold breeze. She was cold, the Christmas sweater exemplified her best assets, but those green eyes always melted Lomax's heart.
"Hi, Lisa," Lomax grinned at her.
"What do you want, Dave?" She said coldly, folded her arms.
"I wanted to see you and the kids," Oops. I didn't get the kids anything. He thought. Trish, 9, Cory, 6, what would I get them anyway? I never took time to get to know them---
"You know Jack is here. And after the last shenanigan you are not welcomed here." She turned to open the door, Lomax touched her shoulder. She shot a cool look his way that was like a knife through his heart. Lomax withdrew his hand.
She was referring to a drunken incident when Lomax climbed through their bedroom window and passed out in their bed. Jack beat Lomax with a baseball bat, thinking he was burglar. After the ER room, Jack was apologetic.
"Who is it, Lisa--Oh, it's Dave. Let him in, Lisa." Jack was the best looking guy Lomax had ever seen and the nicest. That's one of many reasons he hated him.
"He was just leaving--" Lisa's nostrils flared up, and that cold stare--all Lomax could do was avert his eyes.
"Nonsense, Lisa. Come inside, Dave. God, the kids really miss you. They will be glad to see you."

oh yes, they were glad to see me, Lomax thought. He'd been there thirty minutes and the kids said hi, rushed off to bed. Lisa went to her bedroom. Jack was the only one happy to see him. loads of endless fucking questions. It was a slow death. Being with a man who stole your life and he was happy to eat his cake too. The fucker.
"So, what's with the bag? Are you playing Santa this year?" He was smirking. Thinks he can tell a joke. The fucker. "Is my present in there?"

Suddenly an evil grin overthrew a depressing scowl on Lomax's face. " is. Would you like it now?" Lomax stood from the couch and walked toward the corner where the Christmas tree was. Jack followed closely on his heels.
"You didn't have to--yes. Yes. I'm honored....look I really want to be friends, Dave...could that...?"

The bag was gone.
They heard a noise in the hallway to the bedrooms. Something loud hitting the tin floors of the trailer. Lomax and Jack rushed to see, they found the bag there. It was inching across the floor. They heard Lisa's voice, the kid's, of course the dog and Cedric. All of them simultaneously making a horrible mash of noise. Then there was the growling, the sound of something scraping the inside of the bag, followed by them screaming.

Jack backed away from the bag. "What's in there, Dave? You've got the devil there haven't you?"
Lomax didn't know what to say. He shook his head half-heatedly. "I don't know what's in there. I don't...maybe it is...but I don't think it hurts anyone...all I know is it takes things, then whatever you wish for...magically appears..."
There was a knock at the screen door, very loud pounding.
Someone has called the police on us, Lomax thought. Jack ran to answer it. Lomax pushed him out of the way. They found a short, over-sized man in a monk's frock. The Monk bowed, removed his hood.
"I'm sorry to bother you so late. I think you have something that belongs my temple." The Monk said.
Lomax was pushed aside as the monk made his way through the front door. The monk smiled. He nodded. "Yes, you surely do have it."
"Is that the devil in that bag? Your here to do an exorcism, right?" Jack came to the monk, wild-eyed.
The Monk laughed. "No, far from it. Gumar is not a devil...but a poor unfortunate creature that seemingly tricked one of my brothers to take him into the city."

"Will he--does he hurt anyone in the bag with him ?" Lomax interrupted the monk's jolliness.
"No, by all means. Gumar loves to have fun---well his fun is scaring people, holding them in the darkness. He harms no one. He is a bit aggressive. It was terrible for Brother Sella. He apparently was robbed at gunpoint, beaten and left in an alley. He came back to Temple with that story."
" How did you know where the bag was? " Lomax said. "Can you get them out of the bag?"
The Monk shrugged smiled. "I followed the smell. Do you not smell the terrible stench?"
"I thought it was Dave, since he is homeless." Jack said.
Lomax cut his eyes at Jack.
"As far as releasing everyone," The Monk sighed. "That depends on you," He turned to Lomax. "Would like to keep receiving presents from Gumar? Or...give the bag back to the Temple. It's up to you."
Lomax thought a minute. "Yeah...I'd like to give the bag back to the Temple."

The Monk smiled. Lisa appeared, as did the children. They immediately clung to, she hugged them nervously.

Then Cedric appeared, the dog ran from one person to another, happy it was out of the bag.
The Monk threw the bag over his shoulder. Lomax saw him to the door.
"Look, " Lomax placed a hand on the Monk's arm. "I don't get it. Where was my last present when Lisa and the kids were in the bag?"
"Remember," The Monk walked outside. He turned to Lomax, laughed. "You wished this would be over. And it is."

Monday, December 5, 2011

SIN-AWAYcopyright 2011 m.s.

Otis Brinkley walked confidently in the offices of Cromwell Industries, a five story building on Pinkerton ave., demanding to see the head of operations.

The secretary looked at this old tramp with a beat up suitcase and stifled a laugh.
“He's not in Mr...?” Ms. Jeffers fiddled with her blouse lapel with a hand. She kept the other hand over her mouth as so Brinkley couldn't see her smiling at his presence.

The little old man beamed. He pushed the mismatched frame of glasses back on the brim of his nose. “Otis Brinkley,” He said proudly.

Ms. Jeffers cleared her throat. “You can only see Mr. Cromwell by appointment,” She crossed her legs, still fighting back her giggles at this ridiculous little old man.

Brinkley opened his suitcase. He smiled at her, pushed his glasses up on his nose. “I've been exchanging letters with Mr. Cromwell.” He tossed a small stack of envelopes on Ms. Jeffers desk. “We've discussed my new product at length.”

Ms. Jeffers rummaged through the dusty papers, mystified. She opened the first one, unwrinkled the yellow paper.

Brinkley stood briefly. “That one has told me to come to the office....” Ms. Jeffers threw him a look, Brinkley sat back down. He put up his hand apologetically.

“Well, the office is closing in a few minutes as you can see it's nearly five---”

“Mandy!” A man screamed from the adjoining office.

Brinkley looked toward the office, smiled. “He's in after all.”

A second later a man with a receding hairline, dark circles under his eyes and a girth hanging over top of his belt waddled in the lounge. Immediately Ms. Jeffers sprung from her chair and ran in her stockinged feet to Cromwell, still holding one of the letters in her hand.

“Mr. Cromwell, a Mr. Brinkley is here to see you.” She flashed an uneasy smile.

“I don't remember any Brinkley--” Cromwell looked at his digital watch that hung snugly to his wrist. “It's nearly five--”

Brinkley stood, rushed to insert himself between Cromwell and Ms. Jeffers. “We exchanged letters a few weeks ago. To discuss a new soap product?”

Cromwell looked at Ms. Jeffers. “Oh,” She shrugged. “It says it all here, Mr. Cromwell. Your signature is at the bottom and I suppose I forgot to schedule the meeting.”

Cromwell's upper lip curled up. “Oh, for cryin' out loud. Okay, okay.” Cromwell stormed off to his office. Brinkley smiled sheepishly at Ms. Jeffers. She resigned, her face fell.

She walked toward the adjoining office. “If you'll follow me.” She said.

After Brinkley went inside, Ms. Jeffers closed the door. She looked at the upper right hand corner of the letter. The date on the letter was March 15, 1985. She was taken aback.

Brinkley sat gingerly in a small plastic chair opposite Cromwell's desk. Cromwell sat there in silence, a finger on his lips, sizing Brinkley up. Cromwell swiveled his heavy set body in his leather chair. The chair squeaked in pain.

“So what is it your selling, Brinkley? Make it good, make it fast. I'm almost out of time.” Cromwell snorted.

Brinkley nodded, “Yes, yes.” he opened his battered briefcase and retrieved a a small square cake wrapped in green paper. “This,” He tossed it on Cromwell's desk. The hard shell of the square clanged on the desk, bounced a few times, slid toward Cromwell.

Cromwell picked up the square, turned it a couple of times in his hand. He then unwrapped the green paper to reveal a bar of soap. He looked at Brinkley, scouring. Cromwell laughed heartily. He balled up the paper and tossed it over his shoulder.

“Soap?” Cromwell lifted an eyebrow. “Your selling me soap, buddy? I already own Hand print who makes several scented soaps---”

“My soap is not scented, Mr. Cromwell.” Brinkley adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose.

“Then what can you possibly have to interest me, little man? The market in gutted with all kinds of soaps from body wash to your baby's ass-wash. Soap is nothing new.”

Brinkley waggled a finger. “Oh, my soap only clenses one thing.” Brinkley nodded his head. Cromwell started to get seasick from watching the old man's head bob up and down so much. “It cleans the soul. But only use it three times....or it will be too much.”

Cromwell glared at him for a few seconds, blinking rapidly. His disposition turned sour. He no longer thought the joke was funny.

“Get the fuck out of here!” He railed at Brinkley.

“Wait, hear me out,” the little man put his hands up.

“Don't come in here and tell me some bullshit to con me!” Cromwell tossed the soap at the little man.

“Look, I'm telling the truth. I stumbled on it. This soap---i swear to you, Mr. Cromwell. You have committed a discrepancy of some kind---”

“I did what?” The large man stood from his desk in a threatening manner.

“Only saying it as an example--- bathe in my soap and all is not only forgiven, but forgotten. I call it SIN-AWAY.”

The color of Cromwell's face was a bright red. His eyes were strained, cataracts
and veins were definitely showing. “Get out of here,” He whispered at first.

“Mr. Cromwell...”

“Get out of here!”

Brinkley hopped out of the chair and grabbed his briefcase. “I'll just leave you a sample,” Brinkley said as Cromwell rushed him out of the office. Brinkley scooted past Ms. Jeffers in the hallway. She sniggered and leaned against the wall, watching the little old man disappear around the corner.

Cromwell stood outside his office, wiping sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief. “Can you believe the nerve, tryin' to swindle me.”

“I take it the meeting didn't go so well,” Ms. Jeffers said.

“If I ever see that candy-ass again, I'll break both of his legs.”

Ms. Jeffers reached out, took hold of Cromwell's tie, pulled him toward her. “Shh...” She said. She touched his face with her fingers, touching his cheek and slid down to his chapped red lips. Ms. Jeffers felt Cromwell's hand steal up her skirt. She leaned in and kissed him soundly on the lips. She turned, still holding his tie, led him inside his office.

She was adjusting her skirt, re buttoning her blouse. Cromwell was trying to catch his breath and zipping up his fly. He'd backed away from her, when he realized the best way to have sex with a woman like Ms. Jeffers was to bend her over his desk just he'd done.

The theme to the GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY sounded off, Cromwell's
cell phone lit up.

“Who the hell could that be?” Cromwell tucked his shirt in.
“Maybe it's Don to tell you about Singapore,” Ms. Jeffers rescued the cell phone from under scattered papers and files. Her smile disappeared when she read the name to herself. She sighed, closed her eyes. She handed Cromwell his cell phone. “Delores,” She said solemnly. “A missed call from Delores...”

Immediately, Cromwell panicked. He ran to the window of his office, opened the blinds, looked out. Delores was standing at her BMW smoking a cigarette. She was a tall blonde, dressed to the nines, and although no one could see her eyes for the sunglasses, Cromwell could see she was furious from her body language.

“You have to get out of here,” He swallowed hard, closed the blinds again.

Ms. Jeffers was already playing back the message Delores left on his phone. “Oh, you snaky son of a bitch! I know you and that slut secretary are carrying on in there. You idiot. You didn't think I'd find out---Ms. Jeffers shut it off.

“You better go take a shower. Say your getting ready to come home to take her out,” Ms. Jeffers ushered Cromwell to the Men's room in his office.

Nervously, Cromwell did as he was told. Out of haste, she tossed him the open bar of soap.

Ms. Jeffers ran out of Cromwell's office only to meet Delores in the hallway. Delores back into the office, right into a chair, where she promptly sat.

“I know exactly what's going on, you slut.” Delores actually had forgotten, but ten years before, she was in Ms. Jeffers shoes. She'd been the other woman, working as Cromwell's secretary. She was being screamed at by his third wife. But that didn't mean she would cut the whore any slack, she knew for sure someone was gonna pay for her unhappiness.

“He's not all that,” Delores snarled. “He's a lousy father. All his kids hate him. He pays through the nose to three ex-wives, all of which he's cheated on. You wont be the last if you win him.”

Ms. Jeffers was unemotional. “I don't want to win him.”

“Don't try to sell me on a crap campaign, Missy. I know how good that fat man is in the bed. For what it's worth, he always said I was the best piece of ass---” Delores suddenly stopped speaking. She looked as if she was in a daze. Her thoughts were far off. Then she seemed to loose balance and Ms. Jeffers was quick to help, placing her in a chair.

Cromwell appeared, drying what was left of his hair. “Hello girls,” He said with a nervous giggle. “Talking about anything interesting.” He was ready to face the firing squad named Delores.

“I don't think she feels well,” Ms. Jeffers said, taking a few steps back.

“You okay, Delores? What happened?” Cromwell pretended to be concerned.

“I felt faint is all. I don't even remember why I came here.” Delores put hand to her forehead and massaged.

“You don't?” Cromwell and Ms. Jeffers said together.

Delores blinked a few times. “No...I don't. Someone called me and in no time I was in my car driving here...for what...I'm not sure of.”

Cromwell was confused for a minute. It dawned on him and a big ugly smile crawled on his face, the kind that frighten children. “Ms. Jeffers, tomorrow, get a hold of that nutcase I saw today. I think we can do business.”

“Are you sure?” She said.

Cromwell shrugged. “Yeah.. I'm sure. In the meantime, I'm taking my wife out to dinner.”

On the other side of town, through the heart of the city of iron and steel, high rises and subway system; was a broken down house with no windows and the top floor almost completely gone. Cromwell stood in the middle of the street staring at the weather beaten black house, avoiding a game of stick ball. He approached the house with much disparagement. His phone went off.
“Hey, sugarlips...what? Some men...police...oh. Yeah. They in the room with you...good....your in the toliet...oh, yeah, don't let them hear this. I did move some funds from the company bank account to my account. Yes, I know that's stealing from the company. It doesn't matter. Look, baby, with this soap all my sin's will be washed away. Yes. I do believe it. You saw what happened...Delores forgot about us...yesterday morning hit someones car and drove off. That afternoon I fired Benchley's son---yeah I know the twirp is on the board of directors....everything will be fine. In the morning we can hop a plane and off to the Carribean, baby! I gotta go.”
He stood on the porch, briefcase in hand, stepping in a black oil slick of some kind. Cromwell cursed under his breath. The door swung open. The little old man peeked out. He was delighted to see Cromwell.

“You came!” Brinkley stepped out on the porch. He pointed at the oil slick. “Watch your step. Another interested party tried to steal my soap and was caught in the rain.

“Did I have a choice?” Cromwell snarled. Brinkley ushered him inside the house, slammed the front door shut. Cromwell looked around the drafty house. Cobwebs at every corner, very dim lighting. Cromwell felt uneasy.

Brinkley locked the door. He smirked at a surprised Cromwell. “Can't take any chances.”

“Chances?” Cromwell looked around himself.

“Someone stealing my ingredients. No one can know the recipe...” Brinkley laughed. He took the stairs to the top floor, Cromwell following close behind.

“Where are we goin', pop's?”

“To my lab—where I make that wonderful soap.”

Cromwell stepped in the dank room. Half the floor was missing, one could see the downstairs. Ceiling was coming down, the beams were barely holding it up. Books littered the floor, several animal parts lay on a counter beside a knife stained with crimson. Jars on shelves lined the walls all around. He could only guess, but Cromwell wasn't sure, more animal parts. In the middle

of the room was a large black cauldron, steam rising from the top. A black book was next to the cauldron on a stand, opened to right page.

“You gotta be kiddin' me,” Cromwell said. “This is a joke.”

“No, Mr. Cromwell. This is serious business.” Brinkley looked into the cauldron,began stirring with a wooden plank as long as his arm. The water simmered, boiled to the top. It turned an orange- white when he popped in what looked like the foot of a dead dog.

“Oh, no,” Cromwell shook his head. “This is bullshit. You can't mass produce this soap this way.”

“I'm afraid this is the only way to make my soap. No other way, Mr. Cromwell.”

Cromwell rubbed his face with a hand. “I guess we can start slow. Go for the Organic market. Specialize in small shops first.” Cromwell opened his briefcase. “Get these signed. How much you want for this?”

“Two million.”

“What?!” Cromwell screamed. “We're not that big of a company..” It wasn't true, he was just cheap.

“I guess I could take it somewhere else..” Brinkley was smirking at him. “For my troubles.”

“What troubles? Hey, you never said where you came up with this--”

“No, no, Mr. Cromwell. I didn't come up with anything. You see, this recipe is an old family recipe...thousands of years old...I believe Jesus knew one of one of my family members.”

“Your crazy...but I think I can make something of your product. I need to know what does the trick.....tell me the recipe.'

Brinkley laughed again. This time the sound cut right through Cromwell. His face grew even more red with the look Brinkley was giving him.

“Your small mind wouldn't even comprehend it's concoction.”

“Your gonna tell me, you little fart.” Cromwell grabbed Brinkley by the throat with both hands. He squeezed as the little old man struggled to finish the last of his merriment. He squeezed until Brinkley's lips had released his last sigh. Cromwell let go of the old man, his limp body hit the floor.

Cromwell stared at the cauldron. Then at the book. “Shit,” He rubbed his face with a hand. “He's right. I don't understand it. Should have let him finish more soap, then killed him. Oh, well. Just hire someone to finish it.”

Cromwell's phone went off, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly echoed throughout the house. It was Ms. Jeffers. He answered it quickly.”I'm comin',” He said.

Cromwell walked through the offices, through the lounge, past Ms. Jeffers and a plainclothes officer with two uniformed policemen. Ms. Jeffers tried to speak just as the all three policemen, all simultaneously. Cromwell put his hand up for quiet. He went into his office, smiling at them. They followed him in.

“Hey,” Cromwell said. “Can you give a guy a little time in the john?”

“Mr. Cromwell, I need to speak---”
Ms. Jeffers said, following him to the bathroom.

“Don't even think of any funny stuff--” The plainclothes officer said.

Cromwell slammed the door shut in every ones face. There was the sound of water running from the shower.

The plainclothes officer sighed and folded his arms.

“Mr. Cromwell needs several showers a day,” Ms. Jeffers flashed a smile.

“I'll bet he does,” One of the uniformed officers said sarcastically.

Cromwell screamed. They rushed to the door. Ms. Jeffers banged on the door, called out for him. The plainclothes officer nodded to the other two policemen. They brushed Ms. Jeffers aside. It took three tries, but the bathroom door was Jarred. The officers went inside, opened shower curtain, turned the shower off.

“What the hell?” One of them said.
Ms. Jeffers rushed in. Cromwell was no where in sight. Ms. Jeffers peered in the shower. All she could see was a large oil slick spread out on the shower mat.

Wide eyed, she threw both hands over her mouth to stifle a scream.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LITTLE TUSK copyright2011 m.s

Emma hated yard sales. Her Mother, younger brother Ben, were dragged to a yard sale the week before Thanksgiving by her Aunt Flora.

They had to move in with Flora while Father was away stationed half-way round the world. Flora was alright, just a little odd, too odd for Emma's nine year old sensibilities. She cooked breakfast for supper almost every night, and played opera music while taking a shower. Even dressed her Pomeranian, Gus, as famous presidents. Flora had a strange habit of videotaping Cooking shows she never watched. She said she was saving them for when she had more time to study the Chef's expertise.

Evert item they came across Flora would sigh or become over excited. Emma's Mother talked Flora out of buying these items. If she hadn't, the car would've been full of Tupperware and Man’s clothing. Ben also showed enthusiasm for boardgames. Already he'd spent five dollars of his allowance, which he'd saved thirty-five dollars since last spring. That really irked Emma. She couldn't save a dime. Emma always seemed to buy too much Goobers or buy the newest video game for her DS.

Mother only bought a red scarf. Emma could tell she missed Father. Mother had several red scarfs, and always when Father was away. Emma heard Mother a few nights before telling the story of how she met Father. She was standing on a bridge watching the moon reflect off the water when the wind blew her scarf from her hair and she chased it until a sailor caught it for her. That sailor, of course, was Father.

They were almost out of the Yard sale when Aunt Flora saw the item that made her heart skip a beat. Emma was first to the car when she heard Flora cry out. Emma put a hand on her head and made a grunting noise.

“I can't believe I found it!” Flora exclaimed. “I need this for my collection.”

She held in her hands so delicately was a porcelain Elephant with white tusks. Yes, Flora did have a very large collection of porcelain figures, mostly of animals or circus related items. The worst of those were the clown figures. Emma hated those things. They unsettled her. Once in awhile when she was in the living room by herself watching Animal planet, she would climb on top of the couch and turn the clowns around facing the wall. Flora always asks who did that, no one would answer. Flora also had a terrible habit of naming her porcelain figures.

Aunt Flora placed the porcelain Elephant on the mantle next to her two porcelain circus tigers. She stood back and admired it. She looked at Emma and said, “Little Tusk. That's what I will call him.” She cackled and Emma plugged her ears with her fingers. Then Flora saw that her collection of clowns were facing the wall again. She was infuriated. “Who did this?” She exclaimed, her eyes shifting to all in the room. No one said a word. “One day,” She said. “I will find out who does this—this--terrible act!”

The next day, Emma awoke to a car hissing by her window. It sounded like a cat trying to sing. She wandered into the living room, eyes half closed. She stepped over Ben, who was lying in the middle of the floor eating brownie cakes and watch IRON MAN cartoons on TV. The house was very quiet. Emma spun around, trying to find the source of her confusion.

“Mama's gone,” Ben said, entranced by the screaming voices and exploding cars and buildings.

“Gone where?” Emma said in a drone voice. She was making her way slowly to the kitchen for a bowl of corn pops and raisin bran mixture. Emma was a genius of creating new cereals.

“Last night Daddy called. He said his boat--”

“You mean ship, doofus.”
“Ship—whatever!” Ben raised his hand at Emma, then continued. “His SHIP, was close by. So Aunt Flora is driving Mama to the airport.”

Emma placed her hands on her hips. Her eyebrows lowered, her lips tightened up. “Why am I always the last to know everything? I'm the oldest. She always forgets to tell me first! It always comes from you—and wait! If his ship is close by, then why is she catching a plane to meet him?”

Ben wiped crumbs from his mouth. He said calmly, “Why your always last to know is your always late home or always asleep, and your a brain fart. I don't know why she has to catch a plane. They didn't tell me.”

Emma walked up to Ben, placed her dirty foot, which she hadn't washed in a day, in his face. She held it, began to push, while he screamed as if he had just been stabbed. There was the sound of keys rattling in the front door. The door swung open and Gus ran inside, immediately peed on the floor. Aunt Flora stepped inside and slammed the door shut.

“Ah hah!” She screamed. Emma quickly removed her foot from Ben's face and jumped away from him. Ben wiggled around on the floor sputtering and moaning about germs in his mouth. “The adults are away and we can play!” Aunt Flora bellowed, then cackled.

Ben had crawled all over the living room floor, coughing and spitting. He was pushing the cushion from the couch and bumped the couch, which bumped the wall and shook the wall. The shelf attached to the wall above the couch rattled. Aunt Flora's statuettes moved slightly, several hung on to the edge of the shelf. Flora screamed as if something cataclysmic was happening. Emma smiled. Ben was about to get into trouble. Serves him right for calling a brain fart.

Ben saw the porcelain elephant fall from the shelf. It tossed and tumble through the air. He placed both hands out, just as he'd seen a wide receiver in a football game on TV. The elephant fell directly in his hands. He cupped the statue in both hands and rolled across the couch.
Ben looked up and saw Aunt flora was in pieces. Then she ran to him and knelt down to kiss him.

Ben had saved the day!

Emma snarled at him as Flora dotted on him. Telling Ben he could have all the candy and soda he wanted. Ben smiled hugely at Emma.

Ben turned the porcelain elephant on it's back in his hand. He eyed a few words that were not recognizable. “Timbur...Ork...Roknal?”

Suddenly, the elephant jumped out of Ben's hand. It landed on the couch, upside down. Ben looked down at it. He noticed the elephant was moving. It's trunk wiggled. It's eyes blinked. It's mouth opened and closed as it's tiny legs kicked in the air. Now it was right side up, standing. Ben bent down, eyes wide with disbelief. The elephant sounded off in his face. Ben fell over backwards away from it.

Flora dropped to the living room floor. She passed out cold. Emma ran behind the TV set and peeked from behind it, watching the tiny porcelain elephant sprint back and forth on the couch. It was stuck, thinking at first there was no outlet. Gus took off to Flora's bedroom to hide under the bed.

“This is the craziest thing I've ever seen!” Emma exclaimed.

Aunt Flora regained consciousness just in time to witness the small elephant scale down the arm of the couch, walk across Ben's head, neck and arm, to the living room floor, where it promptly pooped.

“Oh, stop that thing!” Flora cried out.

Ben threw both hands out for it as he leaped at the small elephant. The elephant sensed the position of Ben's hands and thrust forward it's tusks. One of the tusks pricked Ben on the palm of his right hand. Ben yelped and withdrew. The wound only bled slightly, but he felt a surge of pain that caused him to weep buckets of crocodile tears. Ben ran to Flora, hoping for motherly attention, only to receive expressions of confusion.

“Look!” Emma said, pointing and laughing.

The elephant was using it's trunk to swat the TV remote control like it was hitting a hockey puck with a hockey stick. It was running wildly up and down the living room, all four powerful small legs pumping furiously. It was moving so fast it became a blur. Finally, as it approached Ben and Flora, it took one last swat, sending the remote high in the air. The remote caught Aunt Flora right between the eyes. She fell on her back on to the floor, once again loosing consciousness.

“You jerk-head!” Ben screamed at it. He began chasing after the small elephant. Lamps, books, DVD's, pictures from the wall....after the great chase, the level of destruction the two amounted was impressive. Even the TV, which was hiding Emma somewhat, was overturned. The chase headed to the kitchen, where loud crashes of dishes falling to the floor along with pots and pans. Back into the living room, more destruction mounted. The two chairs were pushed over. Aunt Flora's collection of statutes were among the victims. The circus animals, even her beloved clowns. All fell to their porcelain grave.

Emma had found a new hiding spot behind the couch, had a terrible vision of Ben and the pint-sized elephant in her room causing all kinds of chaos and destruction. She had an idea. She called over to Ben. He stopped in his tracks, turned to her, huffing and puffing. She reached over at the hat rack where her mothers new red scarf dangled from a wooden hook.

“Here,” she tossed one end to Ben. “Grab hold of that and drop to your knees when I say go.

The elephant avoided hitting the wall for the thousandth time and turned right at broken vase. He was heading right to Ben and Emma. The elephant put it's head down and gained more speed.

It was right there at the point and Emma screamed out go. Ben and Emma dropped to their knees. The scarf formed goal of sorts like in a soccer game. Ben smiled at Emma, Emma smiled at Ben. They knew they had the elephant.

The elephant rushed through the scarf, it's tusks cutting the scarf in two pieces, like a ribbon being cut to introduce a new building. Ben and Emma's looked in bewilderment at the piece of material they hand in their hands. The elephant passed by them several times, still running at full speed.

Emma stood and threw down the shredded scarf in anger. “That's it, Elephant,” She said. “No more Mr. nice guy.” Emma had a backup plan. She wasn't sure if it would work, but it was worth a try. Her eyebrows lowered. “Timbur...Ork...Roknal!” Emma yelled.

The tiny porcelain elephant stopped dead, it's legs froze up. It blinked it's eyes, then they froze up. It raised it's head and froze up. It stretched it's trunk out, sounded off, stiffened up

Emma sighed, flopped down on the couch. She felt something squishy under her bare feet. She knew what it was, but were afraid to find out for sure.

Aunt Flora awoke, raised up, saw the damage. She was fine until she saw all of her porcelain statuettes were in pieces. She placed her head in her hands and burst into tears. “All gone.” She said. “All gone.”

Ben slowly approached Aunt Flora. “Well...” He said in a consoling voice. “You still have Little Tusk.” Ben handed the porcelain elephant to her. Flora shrugged and accepted the gift. She hugged Ben, turned to Emma.

“Now we have to clean this mess up,” She said.

DEVIL BY POSSESION copyright2011 m.s.

The Palace of Humbert was clean. Joad turned to Father Goar and smiled. “I'm done your Holiness. May I eat now?”

Father Goar held out his hand and the boy kissed his ring. “As you pass by, check in on her Ladyship.”

“As you wish Father,” Joad quipped and rose to his feet.

It was in the bottom floor of the Palace that they kept quarters. Above them were mostly servants taking care of near empty Castle. After king Leon died of the plague, it was decided upon by all concerned, his rooms left for sometime so that the disease could leave on it's own accord. Father Goar was happy to stay at the bottom of the Palace for the Abbey and the Library were next to each other, as well as a makeshift kitchen.

Father Goar turned to face his desk. He picked up the letter from the Cardinal. It read that he was sending Father Syl to take over his post and he was to relocate to Quam. Father Goar was not happy about that. He had kept this post at the Palace for five years. He's been instrumental in keeping king Leon's death a secret. He felt the church owed him something and sending him to a plague-stricken village was not what he counted as gold in his purse.

Joad passed by Lady Seriphine's bedroom door. Her Ladyship had not been feeling well for the past four months. Ever since she joined father Goar and Joad in the Palace. Joad hadn't understood anything that was going on since her arrival. Why was she not with Lord Florentine? Where was he? The civil war between the land has been over for a year. Barely any mention of Lord Florentine or his troops.

Joad stopped at her door. “Lady Seriphine?” He whispered. He heard rustling. “Lady Seriphine?” Still no answer. But there was heavy panting and a muffled cry. Joad touched the door knob, it was ice cold. He withdrew his hand quickly. Joad took a few steps back. He turned to leave, thought better.

Joad flew open the heavy wood door. Lady Seriphine lay on her canopy bed, writhing about, her back arched up, her skirts around her waist. She was thrusting back and forth. Joad was no fool. He was seventeen and had one sexual encounter with an older servant woman and he knew the position.

Lady Seriphine was in the middle of lovemaking, but had no lover upon her.

Joad backed away from the door, watched a moment more, then ran down the hallway calling for Father Goar.

The Royal surgeon was called in by Father Goar to have a look at her Lady Seriphine. At the moment, her Ladyship was resting, and Father Goar was not allowed to question her.

“It is apparent that I speak with her soon, Doctor Hera.” Father Goar placed a hand on Hera's shoulder. The small thin man pulled away gingerly, half-smiled.

“I'm afraid something terrible is happening to Lady Seriphine, Father. It's not spiritual I assure you.” Hera walked along the long corridor, Father Goar followed.

Father Goar looked confused. “But, Doctor, my assistant saw her in a state of repose...”

Hera clucked his tongue and wagged his finger. “A boy's eyes in such a lonely, dark place as such. Often one can see things that aren't real.”

“You are not a believer, are you, Doctor?”

“Yes... I believe enough.”

“Enough as your soul will not be eternally damned. I see.”

“Let's move on to our Ladyship, eh? She has scratches and bite marks. I can see she has been with a man.....she also has been beaten.....rather savagely.” Hera stopped to ponder this. “Well, I'm not altogether sure she did not enjoy her...time of this event. However, she is very much distraught. She does not seem to respond well to conversing with others. Anyone comes near, she flinches. What is troubling, is she has more than likely experienced this more than once.”

“It is the first I have heard of this. I only spoke with her that morning. All was well....though....she longed for Lord Florentine.” Father Goar stopped Hera, showed him his room.

“ one has heard from him...another strange event.” Hera opened the door. The musty air of the room tickled his nose. He sneezed. Father Goar blessed him.

Lady Seriphine lay in her bed looking at her own reflection in the mirror beside the dresser. She was feeling slightly better than before. She touched her long flowing strawberry blonde hair and wished she could cut it all off. She touched her full lips and wished they were slack and droopy. She wished her green eyes were crossed and the her backbone uneven. She wished her supple breasts were small like a twelve year old boys. She wished she could join the Sisterhood with all the other unlucky women in society.

Lady Seriphine closed her eyes. She'd grown tired. She hadn't even dressed for bed, nor asked for a new pot. She reopened her eyes for moment. There was movement in the mirror. It was quick. But there was something scattering back and forth through the mirror. She sat up. She looked behind her. Nothing there.

Lady Seriphine sighed. She felt a chill run through her body. Her eyes drifted back to the mirror. Her gaze was transfixed.

She saw it. It moved slower this time. It's milky skin naked to the world. A scaly face with mismatched features. It was staring at her with small red eyes and sneering, showing all of its tiny sharpened teeth grinding together.

Lady Seriphine tried to rise from the bed, but something was weighing her down. She panicked. A scream became a murmur in the back of her throat. There it was, the thing from the mirror, sitting on top of Lady Seriphine's abdomen, swishing it's prickly tale back and forth. A purr and a growl intertwined in a high pitch voice. It lowered it's arm and took hold of her by her long swan neck, it's nails scraping at the clean white skin.

Hera had been passing by, he heard the rustling in Seriphine's room. The grunting, the panting...the growling.

The door to her room flew open. Hera was shocked. The creature had hold of Seriphine, it's claws deep in her breasts. It turned quickly and looked at Hera. It bounced off Seriphine and scurried inside the mirror. Hera reached down and picked up the brass piss pot. In one sweeping motion, the brass pot shattered the mirror, several pieces of shard filtered the air, littering the floor.

Hera heard a scream.

He rushed out of Seriphine's room into the hallway to find Father Goar laying in pieces, like broken glass. Hera bent down, picked up a piece with Father Goars mouth. He felt the last of Father Goar's cold breath on his face.