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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

THE PRAYER copyright 2011 m.s.

                    Oscar Forrow prayed to God that one day his only son would  be alive again, and when he saw his son sitting in his study the night of the funeral, it was quite a shock for Oscar to discover that God did answer prayers.

THE COLLECTOR copyright 2011 m.s.

                      Sitting in his chair, watching t.v., Gorman smoked the last cigarette in his pack. He watched the woman on screen laugh as a man undressed. Gorman found this bit on t.v. boring, so put out his cigarette and kicked over 19 inch cube. When it hit the floor, the backend fell out and splintered in four different peices. The t.v. sizzleed and then went mute.
                 Gorman stood from his chair and found himself looking out his window.
                  Outside he watched the rain splatter the pavement on the dark streets below. He watched a young woman rush across to the apartment building across from his. Maybe, just maybe, he thought, she would be next.
                       Gorman was a collector.
                And inside his closet was his next addition. A beautiful pair of blue eyes. Just like a wolfs, very deep blue, almost gray. She was from across the hallway, in 6a. At first he thought he was being  too sloppy. Surely someone has missed this young woman. But it's been two days. No one, not even the apartment mgr has been around to ask about her. Gorman often thought maybe these people have no one, no family. But of course, that was a way to ease his conscience, since his love of collecting overshadowed his love for anyone else.
                    Gorman looked at the two jars of eyeballs he had collected over five years. It was time to add one more. He'd taken the jigsaw knife from the kitchen table and moved toward the closet.
                            In an instant, the lights went out. Pure darkness.
                      Gorman struggled to find his way, knocking the two jars to the flor. Glass shattered and spread about as the eyeballs rolled underneath his feet. Gorman lost footing and fell face-first in the shards of glass.
                           The lights came back on. Gorman was on the floor rolling in the liquid that kept the eyeballs fresh and the eyeballs covered the area he lay in.
                            He touched his face, feeling several shards had penetrated the retinas of his eyes. Leaving Gorman forever in darkness.

JILL'S TRIP copyright 2011 m.s.

        After a trip to India, Jill contracted a rare disease that caused several small humanoid creatures to sprout from her body and run rampant through her hometown on a murder spree that lasted one year; in that year Jill overcame her sickness and cared for them as if they were her children----who by now had repopulated the town.

THE CONVERSATION copyright 2011 m.s.


                               Bill laughed heartily. "You think you know everything, don't you?"

                          Jack lowered an eyebrow. "I know what's best for you,"  he said.

"You've been married to Karen for five years and never once gotten what you wanted out of the relationship."

                            Bill nodded. "I wanted kids. At least one. She didn't want to ruin her figure.I wanted to live on a farm in Iowa, she wanted me to keep making money in real estate here in New york."

                              Jack pointed a finger at Bill. "You know about her and Kyle. You knew about the office boy a few months ago. You knew about the money she took from the bank account  to pay off her brother's gambling debts."

                            Bill touched the revolver in his belt. "I guess we do it like we planned it."

                        Jack nodded. "Leave it on the table at the resteraunt when you two leave. Use the .45 in the glove compartment, shoot her twice in the head after she get's in the car.  Go back to the resteraunt to get your revolver, rush back in and say your wife has been killed by a mugger. It's going to work, my friend."

                             "Bill.....?"  Karen appeared in the doorway of their bedroom, with that look of disgust on her face. Bill was standing in front of the mirror, gazing at his own reflection, straightening and restraightening his tie.  "We're going to be late," she said venemously.

                               Bill touched the handle of his revolver that was hidden well by the length of his coat. "I'm ready, dear. More than ready."

                                Karen turned to exit the doorway, when she said, "Who were you talking to anyway?"

                             Bill smiled to himself. "No one in particular. No one at all."

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The statue of the 17th century pirate DARIOUS ARNUS loomed tall above the town of LIVIA, a small island off the coast of Eastern shore. Packard was sent there by his editor to do a story for the Lifestyles section of the newspaper he had worked for ten years. In that ten years, Packard had never had a bad experience covering the crime beat in the Tr i-Cities area. Just four months ago, Packard had a small nervous breakdown.

It could have happened to anyone. He was doing a story on a serial killing in the Asian section of Liberty city, and he got too close to the suspect. The suspect was Lenard Bosely, a white male, aged sixty-one and had had a intense hatred of Asian women. He'd sent a message to Packard, requesting he visit his home. When Packard arrived, the man attacked Packard, dragged him to the basement. Leonard made Packard watch him dissect a young college student.

Anyone could have had a breakdown after that.

So, partly he was there in Livia to write the article on the town's history, but mostly for a vacation.

Take it easy. Take it light for six months. No crime, no alcohol, no bad vibes, or negative thoughts. Relax. Take it light.

First thing Packard noticed when he drove into the town from the ferry, was how much graffiti was written on everything. Especially on the statue of Dario Arius. Six scribes, all spray painted in different colors all over the weather-beaten statue.

All of it saying SCREWHEAD WAS HERE.

Very strange. Must be an art thing, Packard thought. Just like SAMEO in New York in the late seventies and early eighties. Packard even asked Mrs. Helms, the woman that rented the room to Packard.

She just shrugged, laughed. “I have no idea, Mr. Packard. I don't know anything about art.”

Packard became obsessed over the graffiti. He went out every night, different parts of the city to see if he could find the person writing SCREWHEAD WAS HERE. In spite of watching from his car all night, for two weeks, Packard saw little or no action save for a few homeless people and Johns with hookers.

On a Wednesday, the third week of his investigation, at three in the morning, Packard saw a six foot tall rabbit in a gray suit carrying black medical bag walking down an alley on sixth and Hyper ave. Packard quietly left his car and followed the rabbit. He saw the rabbit walk to a an apartment building, ring a doorbell. A woman in a robe opened the door and the rabbit forced himself inside, slammed the front door shut.

Packard watched through an open window.

The rabbit had dragged the screaming woman to the dining room table, held her with a hand, with a hypodermic needle in the other hand, introduced the woman to unconsciousness.

In less than ten minutes, the rabbit had the woman's chest open and removed her heart. It carefully placed her heart in a glass jar. For a minutes more, the rabbit gazed at the woman's heart in the glass jar, shaking the jar to watch the heart jump around. Then the rabbit pulled a new, shiny quarter from it's pocket and put it where the heart had been. He took a needle and surgical thread, sowed the deceased woman's chest in one nice long stitch.

All the while, this rabbit had a permanent smile on it's face.

The rabbit put the tools of it's trade back into the small black medical bag, washed it's hands in the kitchen sink, and left by the back door.. Before the rabbit left the woman's backyard, it spray painted it's message on her backdoor in hot pink. Then examined it's artwork and clapped it's hand. Packard was too petrified to follow this monster anymore that night.

He walked in a daze back to his car. As soon as he opened the door to his Ford Taurus, a police siren made it's presence and two cops had their weapons drawn on him, screaming for him to place his hands on the top of the car.

Packard sat at a plastic table too small for him or the police detective who sat across from him. The table looked like they had stolen it from a child's playhouse, right down to the colors of purple and green on the legs. The detective said nothing, just as the beat cop that stood by the door, both of them grinning at Packard from ear to ear. Whenever Packard tried to speak, the Detective would shush him.

At that moment, another Detective walked in carrying a plastic bag with two aerosol cans of spray paint. He sat the bag on the table. Leaned in, smiling. He was a large black man with no neck, and lots of chins.

“Would you like some coffee, Mr. Packard?” He said.

Packard nodded yes

The officer by the door left, giggling. Packard was already scared, traumatized by what happened earlier, but this, with the weird smiling, giggling, really threw him for a loop. Packard folded his hands in one another to keep them from shaking.

“My name is Jennings,” The large black man said. He pointed at the other Detective. “That's Miles, my partner.”

“I witnessed a murder---” Packard tried to say, Jennings held up his hands to quiet him.

“We know,” Jennings said. “We read your report.”

Packard nodded. “So why am I still here, three hours later?”

Jennings eyes became slits, anger rising up in him. “Your not screwing with me are you?”

“I'm sorry, I don't understand----”

“You know what I'm talking about!” Jennings voice boomed inside the small room. Packard felt his ears pop slightly. “You were at the scene of a viscous crime, boy. And we found these spray cans in your car. Got witnesses say that you were at the house of Mrs. Collen Furgh. That's the woman that was killed.”

“I didn't do it. I'm a journalist working on a story----”

“We know who you are. We know a lot of things. Nothing...and I mean nothing....get's by without us---the police dept. here in lovely Livia, city on the north beach----without us knowing about it.”

“I saw who did it!” Packard screamed, bawled up his fists.

Jennings shrugged. “Okay,” He said condescending. “Who was it? Who did you see?”

Packard looked away, sighed. It took him a minute to gather his thoughts. He was afraid to say it. So he said it in a burst of sputter, hoping they wouldn't understand him.

“A rabbit.”

Jennings and miles looked at each other. The smiles were no longer on their faces.
Calm, almost blank faced, the two of them. Packard couldn't read their expressions. Jennings nodded.

“So,” He said slowly, his lips formed the words as if he were blowing a bubble. “You know the pattern. Why and who he kills?”

“Yes. I 've been reading the local paper. Tourists. Never a resident over a year. It's been reported a coin---a quarter--- is sewn inside the victim, where the heart used to be. The why is is the key to who he is, the killer.”

Jennings smiled. “The why is that he's crazy. Who he is, you say is a man in a rabbit suit.”

“No,” Packard’s brow narrowed. “I didn't say he was wearing a rabbit suit. It is a six foot rabbit. A real one. With a furry tail.....Large feet....”

“You were in a mental institution six months ago in Hampton roads, am I correct?” Jennings thumbed through a file.

“And?” Packard said with venom.

“That's why you saw a six foot rabbit cut out that woman's heart. A real furry rabbit, not a man in a rabbit suit.”

Packard was silent. His eyes met Jennings. The officer reentered carrying a pot of scalding hot coffee and no cups. Smiles returned to the faces of the policemen.

The officer walked over to Packard and Miles took Packard by his arms and Jennings held Placard’s nose. Packard’s mouth immediately opened wide. Thew officer began pouring the hot coffee down Packard’s throat.

“Here's your coffee, sir,” The officer laughed as Packard screamed tried to spit the steaming liquid out. Packard pulled from Miles, the rest of the coffee was dumped in his lap.
Miles kicked Packard so hard, his front tooth flew from his mouth, blood flowed from his mouth like a river. Jennings placed his size fourteen hush puppy on Packard’s throat, bore down half of his weight, making Packard gurgle loudly.

“Get out of my town,” Jennings grit his teeth. “And if I see any of this or your six foot rabbit murderer in the papers, I'm coming for you. We have an understanding.”

Packard wasn't given a choice to answer, because it wasn't a question, it was a statement.

Packard was dumped in his car after being cleaned up by the city jail guards. He wasn't kept there, just cleaned up enough to so the outside world wouldn't dream that their wonderful boys in blue would beat a suspect.

At this point, Packard had clearly lost his mind. He was sitting in his car, watching the street, the business district of Livia, proudly show her citizens as they truly were. Very large humanoid rabbits. He was not afraid anymore. Two nights in his car filled with nightmares of these large humanoid rabbits feasting on members of his family, dead or still living, was enough to make anyone's brain implode.

It was settled. He was going to rid the streets of Livia of these horrible creatures. He wanted revenge as well on the cops. He decided to confuse them. It was the best way. A copycat killing, or a few even. He was going to be the new SCREWHEAD.

He watched the bus station. Picking out his victims was not the easiest thing. But he saw a drifter who was perfect. Yes, a drifter, not a mother with two children, a business man, or a young woman hoping to make a new life. A drifter that obviously had no luggage and no intention of staying in this city by the Atlantic ocean

The drifter was a lean young man with short golden hair, not very well groomed. Possibly because he had been on the road for awhile. He was wearing the only thing of worth on his back, a vintage WWII bomber jacket. It was weather-beaten, several rips in the leather sleeves.

Packard followed the drifter all day, and well into the night. The drifter would often work an alley and street corner, accepting money for sexual favors. That's where Packard got the idea to lure the drifter to an abandoned alley by an old warehouse. The drifter was given three hundred dollars and more than willing to do the things he and Packard discussed. The drifter was actually happy. As he followed Packard, he told him he only made thirty dollars all day. He told Packard he was trying to raise enough money to get to Texas to live with his aunt. She owned a bar and was promised a manager's job.

They reached the end of the alley behind a trash container. He turned and smiled at Packard. “What do you want to do first?”

At that moment Packard had lift the tire iron high above his head. It came down on top of the drifter's head with such force, the top of his head sank in. The drifter's face was instant pain and shock. Blood oozed down his face. The drifter fell on his back, his lips parted, as if he were going to say something.

To Packard's surprise he actually enjoyed it. He bent down and touched the drifter's neck for a pulse. There was none. Packard took from his jacket a scalpel and immediately sliced the man's chest open. Before he could go further, he heard shuffling of feet on the pavement. Packard dropped his scalpel and ran. He hid behind the warehouse. What he thought was little beads of sweat rolling from his forehead, was blood from the drifter. He tried to wipe it with the sleeve of his jacket, but made it worse. A long red streak across his cheek appeared.

The rabbit was there, kneeling over the drifter's body. There was no reaction on it's face, a frozen, toothy grin on it's face. But somehow, by it's robotic movements, Packard could tell it was confused. The rabbit finished the job that Packard began. He opened the the drifter's chest more, reached inside and removed the heart with it's scalpel. It opened it's little black medical bag and extracted a jar. It opened the lid of the jar and dropped the heart inside. The rabbit gazed at the heart a moment. Before stitching up the drifter's chest, the rabbit pulled out a coin from it's jacket. It wasn't a quarter like Packard had read, but a gold coin, 17th century, with the queen of Spain representing her nation. Packard knew now.

A theory more or less, but just maybe, just maybe it was a spirit, a murderous spirit...the spirit of a pirate...the spirit of Darius Arnus... paying for the privilege to kill visitors to his port...just like he'd read a few months back about the pirate. The Spanish authorities looked the other way. Just like the cops in modern day Livia.

The rabbit got up, began waddling out of the alley. After a few steps, it turned to look around. Confident there wasn't anyone, it picked up it's pace to a speed walk.

Packard followed. He saw the rabbit turn on King's way, then left on Corinth street. Finally, the two of them ended up at a bungalow behind the preschool. Packard looked at the address on the mailbox. 332 Corinth and Main.

He watched the rabbit go through the front door of the bungalow. Packard stayed well hidden in the bushes. He was afraid to go further. But something was pushing him forward. Adrenaline, excitement.....pure mental inadequacy.

Packard quietly went through the unlocked front door of the bungalow. It was a neat and very tidy place. Lived in normalcy. With the exception no modern machines, no TV.'s or radios or computers. Everything was strangely decorated in the color white. Just like the pirate Darious Arnus fashioned all of his outfits in white.

Packard moved from tiny room to tiny room, den to bathroom to kitchen to bedroom. The rabbit was standing next to a bed, it's back to Packard. A head, a human head was laying on the bed beside the rabbit head. He was without a head attached to a metal round cylinder where it's neck should be.

Packard drew in air, held it a moment, then exhaled. He was stunned. Now he knew he really was crazy. could this thing be alive, and walking without a head attached......? It was a fairy tale his brain made up.....his brain was definitely fucked.

The rabbit turned swiftly to face Packard. Packard's breathing alerted it. It took hold of Packard by his throat and squeezed. Then everything went black.

Miles and Jennings stood over top of the two bodies that lay disjointed at the end of the alley in front of the trash container. Miles shrugged, wrote something in his little notebook. Jennings turned over the first body with his left foot. It was the drifter. He turned and looked at Miles. Miles raised an eyebrow and shook his head, touching the cold lifeless body that belonged to Packard. On the trash container was spraypainted SCREWHEAD WAS HERRE.

“I bet we find a gold coin inside both of their chests.” Miles said.

“He's changed his M.O.,” Jennings said. “Two for one. Don't remember this happening. Ever.”

“Me either,” Miles scribbled something else. “ Now he's leaving wounds on the bodies?”

“No,” Jennings thought for a few seconds. “Nope, Detective. The male in the leather bomber is a copycat killing.”

Miles nodded. “You think so?”

Jennings smiled. “I know so.”

“Hey, you going to Farley's birthday party tonight?” Miles said, his face beaming.

“Sure,” Jennings headed to the unmarked vehicle. “Can you pick me up?”

“Yeah....what's the address again?”

Jennings turned swiftly to Miles. “332 Corinth and Main.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A SACCI FOR SALE copyright2011 m.s.

(SACCI---Pronounced “SACK-SEE”)

It was two-thirty in the morning and Barry was still on GARAGE SALE.COM. Lily awoke, saw the quick flash of light on their darkened bedroom wall from the computer's monitor. She sat up, eyes barely in focus. Her blonde hair was matted to the left side of her face. Lily rubbed her eyes, yawned.

Barry was shirtless. Lily saw mounds and mounds of hair on his back, each strand waving at her because the central air working overtime on such a hot summer night. She watched him nod his head and began typing fast. Lily rose from the bed and stood, the strap from her nightgown slid from a shoulder and momentarily revealed her right breast. She coughed to get his attention, but Barry was caught up in something. She rolled her eyes and placed her breast back into her nightgown.

“What are you doing?” Lily said, annoyed by the small amount of attention from Barry.

Barry jumped at the sound of her voice. “Nothing,” He squeaked. He retrieved his man's voice and said again, “Nothing, honey.”

Lily walked over and peered over Barry's shoulders. “Oh,” She said disappointed. “I thought I would catch you looking at porno or having an online affair like normal people.” She walked to the bathroom. He could hear running water in the toilet. “Instead,” She appeared again in the bedroom after a loud flush. “I find you still on GARAGESALES.COM bidding on crap we don't need.”

“Its not crap,” Barry stretched his arms, bones cracking like incidental music from a scene in a movie. “I'm a collector, Lily. Everything I buy is classy pop culture.”

“ Ernst Borgnine's underpants he wore in the movie ICE STATION ZEBRA.”

“Don't mock me. I did find a buyer for that item.”

“Old Mr. Coleman down the street gave you five bucks for that

“So. He's a collector too.”
“Barry, he's a seventy-five year old gay man who talks to a photograph of Truman Capote.”

“That’s not normal?”

Lily stared at Barry for a moment. “There's no getting through to you is there?” She wearily climbed back in bed. “We have a garage full of stuff we can't use, will not use, no interest in them other than you bought them from GARAGESALE.COM. You will be alone, divorced, weirdo trying to sell a comb once used by Danny Devito for pennies to buy your next meal. I'm just warning you.” She removed her nightgown and threw it to the floor. “Now get in bed and screw me silly and I wont divorce you.”

Barry's face fell. He sighed, turned the computer off. “Okay,” He said with the enthusiasm of a man about to be hung from the neck at the gallows.

In the morning, Lily was awaken by Barry's cries of joy. She bolted upright in bed. Looking around, expecting something other than her husband glued to the computer monitor laughing and high-fiving the cat. “I did it!” Barry screamed and the cat ran off with it's tail in a question mark.

Lily crawled out of bed and put her nightgown on. She heard herself say it, but didn't want to ask him, “What did you do?” Knowing that was a mistake.

“I won a SACCI!”

Lily shrugged. “What the devil is a SACCI?”

Barry tapped his forehead with his index finger and thought a moment. “Well,” He started.” Thought some more. “It's a......”

“God, Barry. Don't strain yourself.”

“Ha-ha-fucking-ha, Lily.”

“You don't even know what you bought, you idiot,” Lily angrily sashed into the bathroom.

“I do too know what I bought!” He called out to her.

Barry looked at the computer screen. It read:



Lily looked at Barry, stone faced. “You are an idiot, Barry Hughes.”
She clicked off the screen for GARAGESALE.COM and signed in to her e-mail.

“Why would you say that?” Barry was puzzled. “We could use this.”

“Barry, this kind of thing doesn't exist. Just like Ewoks, Leprechauns, and unicorns---”

“Unicorns did exist,” Barry exerted. “They died out with the dinosaurs. I saw their definition in the dictionary.”

“Why did I Mary you?” Lily checked her e-mail. Several from her Mother she didn't wish to read and far too many Facebook comments on a picture she uploaded of the cat.

Barry thought a moment, then he spurted out, “Because you love me,
that's why you married me.”

Lily scoffed. “I wouldn't go that far.”

“Lily......I need some gas money,” Barry said softly.

She sighed. “Get my card, honey.” She went back to answering the
e-mail to her Mother. “Try to have a nice day at work, okay.”

Barry placed his clip on tie, made a sour face. “Today is ten percent off for senior citizens at the store. Those blue-haired old ladies creep me out when they get too fresh.”

Lily laughed. “That's what you get when your cute and assistant manager at a grocery store.”

“Yeah.......they sense my power.”

Barry leaned over Lily's shoulder and kissed her goodbye.

“I'll have dinner ready for you when you get home,” She called out to him as he went out the front door of the apartment. Barry waved to her and closed the door.

Barry came home at about six that day. He managed to pass through front door of his apartment and plopped down on his chair. Tired hands reached for the remote, but dropped it a few times. Retrieving the remote control the last time was when Barry noticed the old naked man lying on the couch. The old man was blind, his body no longer obeyed his brain's commands to move. His hands and feet were drawn in from horrible arthritis. Breathing was very difficult for his inflamed lungs.

Barry stared at the old man, which was lying on his back, breathing heavily. The old man sounded like a vacuum cleaner with a golf ball stuck in the hose. It didn't register in him who it was. He remembered that Lily said her Father was dead, so that's not who it was. Ditto for his Father. Was it the homeless guy from down the street that kept badgering Lily for cheese? Who was this old geezer and why did he smell like a goat?

“Lily?” Barry called to her. There was a rumbling from their bedroom and she appeared in the doorway of the living room.

“Yes, dear?” Lily said with a smile on her face.

Barry hit a button the remote and the television turned on. Immediately he began to channel surf. Watching the screen as visage of changing faces and body parts along with different locations and products appeared and disappeared, Barry never once took his eyes from the glowing box.

“Who is the old naked man on our couch?” He said calmly.

“What old naked man, Barry my love,” Lily folded her arms across one another.

“The one right there,” Barry pointed the remote to the old man who was now coughing and spitting something up, then swallowing it back in, repeating the process several times. “That old naked man, Lily.”

Lily clucked her tongue. “Ohhhh......yeah. Him.”

Barry moved his eyes to meet Lily's cold gaze. “Are you going to tell me who he is?”

“It's your package, dumb shit.” She walked back to the bedroom and slammed the door.

Barry dropped the remote and jumped out of his chair with childish enthusiasm. He rushed to the old man and looked him over.

“Your kidding me,” Barry cried out, laughing wildly. “This is awesome! Fantastic! Have you tried him out yet?”

Barry noticed she wasn't in the living room anymore. He searched for the box the old man was shipped in. He found it behind the couch. Barry shrugged. “Hmmm.....not as big as I would've thought for a man shipped in.” He found a note hand written.


“Of course,” Barry shook his head.

Lily appeared again. “Why did you do this?”

“Because I always wanted someone to grant me wishes.” Barry said matter of fact.

“You used my credit card,” Lily said.

“How else would I get this wish master?” Barry grinned at her.

Lily stepped forward and raised fer fist to hit Barry. “I wish I had a thousand dollars every time you did something stupid-----”

As she her fist popped Barry in the nose, several bills from treasury dept. appeared in her balled up hand. Barry fell on his backside, hard, realized his wife had just punched him out.

“Barry!” Lily screamed, her voice cracking at the last syllable. “Did you see what just happened?”

Barry was shocked. He felt the pain his bloodied pulsating nose attacking every one of his senses. “I saw my wife hit me,” He said in that hurt little boy voice he uses when he's upset. “My fucking wife hit me with her fists.”

“No! Money appeared out of thin air in my hand.” Lily helped Barry to his feet. He ran for the bathroom. “Oh my God, “ Lily was writhing in joy. “I can't believe this is happening.”

Barry darted back in the living room, holding a towel to his nostril.
“You didn't have to hit me!” He exclaimed.

“Sit down, honey.” Lily took Barry by the arm and placed him in his chair. She cocked his head back and held the towel to his nose herself as she sat on the arm of the chair.
“I'm sorry, baby. I got carried away. You know how angry I get at simplest things. I don't mean to hurt you. You know I never intentionally mean to hurt you.”

Barry thought a moment. He sighed. “It's okay, I guess.”

Lily rubbed her hand on his shoulder. “Your a real sport, Barry.”

He nodded. “Yeah.....too much of a one. So, you think the old man granted the wish?”

Lily shrugged. “You said he was a -----”

“SACCI,” Barry said.

“Right,” Lily stood, touched her lips with towel, then threw it at Barry, hitting him in the chest. “A SACCI. There's no restrictions on how many wishes you can have?”

“Yeah,” Barry said with affirmation. “That's what GARAGESALE.COM said.” He said, began following Lily as she paced the room.

“No,” She said. “There's no way you could get all that without a catch.
No way, gotta be a catch somewhere.”

Lily stopped, turned to Barry. He lifted an eyebrow.
“Why can't we just enjoy the wishes and not worry about consequences that may not exist.”

Lily looked at Barry incredulously. He drew in air and held it, waiting for Lily to down size him for the statement. Then she smiled. Shrugged her shoulders and laughed.

“ Yeah,” She said. “Why not enjoy it.”

“Yeah,” Barry repeated her. “Why not enjoy it.”

“I wish I had the most expensive bottle of wine on the dining room table,” Lily stated. They walked to the dining room. There, the bottle sat, already uncorked.

Lily and Barry burst into laughter at the same time. They hugged each other. Barry took her by the hand and placed her at the table. He kissed Lily softly. She turned red in the face and turned away from him as she always did after he kissed her like that.

“I wish a steak dinner and shrimp was on the table.” Barry said.
And they were not surprised when it appeared on the table.

As they cut into their steak dinner, Lily looked into Barry's eyes and told him she loved him.

Barry awoke in the morning in a frenzy. He stumbled out bed, his vision severely diminished. He felt his way from the bedroom to the living room, shouting for Lily. In his trek was a lot of things they wished for and a lot money laying around, TV.'s , stereos, different foods, a Cadillac outside parked where his van was. Clothes from the best designers in the world. Jewelry for him and Lily. Twenty miles away a three story mansion belonged to them as well.

Barry crawled on his hands and knees, calling for Lily. He was stopped cold when he felt a man's leg. It was the old man, dressing in one of Barry's suits. He heard Lily moaning. She was laying on the couch, completely naked because clothing hurt every part of her body. It was difficult for her to breathe, the air was difficult to catch, her lungs inflamed. Her tongue was ravaged with cancerous sores. Her hands and feet were drawn up from intense arthritis.

The old man helped Barry up, hugged him as he spoke in broken English. “Greed,” He paused, laughed. “It destroys the body, eh?”

The old man left Barry standing there in almost complete darkness.
“Where did you go?” Barry screamed over and over, weeping. Lily still moaned, tried very hard to put sentences together. Her broken body would not obey her brain's commands.



Monday, June 6, 2011

AT SUNDOWN, A SHATTERED WORLD copyright2011 m.s.

Jim Dimble stared at the tiny graves on the hill a few yards from his farm. It was near sundown, the sky above was a palette of pinks and blues. Jim hated sundown. His world was something he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy. He looked back to his small house he'd built with his own two hands. It wasn't much, but it was a roof over he and Helen's heads. He saw Helen looking through the window at him. She saw the disappointment on his face and drew the curtains.

Jim turned, scoffed at his world. A shadow loomed over him. He looked up, found it was the scarecrow. He heard blackbirds calling to each other as two of them flew to the scarecrow's shoulders. Jim's eyes returned to the tiny graves with no markers. Why give them names, Jim thought. They didn't even last the night, all four of them. Wasn't even sure what sex they were.

Jim carried himself slowly back to the house, bitterness and all.

“Supper's on the table,” Helen told him as soon as he walked through the door. She turned toward the bedroom.

“You gonna eat with me?” Jim said.

Helen stopped in her tracks. She shook her head no. “Not hungry,” Helen went to the bedroom, shut the door.

With no expression, Jim went to the sink, washed his hands, then his arms.
He sat at the table, placed a piece of bread on his plate. He took a spoonful of peas, placed it next to a small piece of chicken. “Nothing's gonna change,” He said drearily. “Unless I do the changing myself.”

Jim chewed his food slowly, the image of the scarecrow overshadowing him deep in his mind.

He heard the noises coming from the bedroom. Jim tried to eat, hoped his teeth grinding the food would drown out Helen's sounds. The sound of the bed springs bopping up and down, creaking, bodies writhing in the sheets. Helen's breathing becoming more and more shallow. There was a low gurgle from a stranger. Jim closed his eyes. Tears fell from his cheeks. He chewed faster, faster, rhythm with the bed springs, shallow breathing, gurgling.

Jim grabbed the table with both hands, turned it on it's backside. The dishes and food slid off. A loud crash caused dead silence.

Helen rushed out the bedroom, her hair a mess, sweat poured from red face. She was fastening her robe in a hurry. She stood, looking at the mess, then at Jim.

Nothing was said as there eyes met. Contempt between the two of them.

The sun beat down on Jim as he plowed the fields. The corn had already began to grow, the other side of the hill he planted tomatoes. Here, below them, he thought of putting to the ground potatoes.

Jim had decided to take a break when he saw a red pickup pull in at the house.
He watched a short man in his late fifties get out. Jim got off his tractor, walked down the hill. The man saw Jim, turned on his heels, waved.

“Jim,” He said. “Didn't think anyone was at home.”

Jim met up with the short man in a suit and fedora. It was Garret Barnes. Barnes owned most of the farms in the tree-counties and was recently on a buying frenzy. He'd been after Jim's farm for three years running.

“What can I do for you, Garret?”

“Just came for a visit, Jim,” Barnes smiled. He removed his fedora, fanned himself with it.

“Can I offer you some water,then?” Jim poured water from a cooler into a plastic cup.

“Thank you,” Barnes drank the water quickly. “Getting hot now.” He looked around. “Hows the far comin?”

Jim sipped his water, keeping his eyes on Barnes. “It's comin',” He said.

Barnes nodded. “Expecting a good crop.” It was a halfhearted statement. Barnes knew the answer as the question meant nothing to him except a sale, which at the end turned into a statement.

“What do you want, Garret?” Jim blew air through inflamed nostrils.

“You know what I want, Jim,” Barnes threw his cup to the ground. “Your not doing too good. Let me help you.”

“I'm not selling,” Jim turned his back on Barnes.

“That would be a mistake, fella. If you sell this to me, I can help you and Helen. You can move into town.”

“Into one of those shanty's you own, Garret. Get a job at the factory your brother owns. Go to church where your son is the minister. Buy groceries from the store your cousins own. And what will Helen and me have?”

Barnes shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe.....peace of mind. No more worries, Jim.”

“I think you ought to go, Garret.”

There was silence for a beat. “Look, Jim-----”

“Get off my land, Garret.”

Barnes nodded. “Tell Helen I said hello.” Barnes ambled to his truck.

Jim watched the red pick up speed off. He looked at the house, Helen was watching from the open door. “What did he want?” She bit her lower lip.

Jim grunted, saw the clouds roll across the sun. The shadow of the scarecrow stood long.

“He wanted me to sell the farm to him,” Jim told her. He stared at the shadow. Anger rose up in him momentarily. Jim shook it off.

“What did you tell him?” Helen had her hand over her heart. She was worried what Jim's answer would be. She couldn't leave the farm now. Not right now. No matter how bad things got.

“I told him he was wasting his breath,” Jim said.

Helen's mind was at ease. She smiled. Jim heard her sigh. He turned to her. Helen was off again, lost in her thoughts. Her face was radiant, a glow like a schoolgirl in love. “Get my lunch ready, woman.” His voice broke her trance. Helen went back inside, slammed the front door hard.

At sundown, another dreaded sundown, Jim was at the dinner table, trying to eat.
He heard Helen moaning, the sheets and bed springs making a melody. Jim's face was flushed with anger. But his mind would get lost in curiosity.

He sighed, pushed his chair back. Still listening closely, Jim rose from the table. He trekked to towards the bedroom. Stopping every few steps, Jim would put a hand to his brow. I shouldn't----he told himself. Helen wouldn't-----Helen----she belongs to me. She belongs to me!

The door creaked open slightly. The setting sun shone on two bodies on the bed, covers and sheet on the floor. Helen had her dress up around her waste, legs wrapped around the man's shoulders. The man thrust harder and harder. Helen kept her hands on his waste to make sure he didn't leave her writhing body. He had his head buried in her breasts that hung out from her open dress.

Jim watched. His eyes grew wilder and wilder. He licked his lips, his mind wandering in and out of fantasy.

A few months passed by. Nothing changed much, except Helen being pregnant again. Jim resented the situation. It was not his child. He wished he had not visited Mrs. Ville. She was a self-described witch. Had a sign that said she sold charms and told fortunes. That was why Jim went back to see her.

Inside her musty shop decorated with dead animals and masks from all over the world, the old woman smelled the air and looked in Jim's face for lies.

“You speak the truth,” she mumbled.

Jim made a face when Mrs. Ville fed a scaly creature in a glass bottle the eyeballs of a dead cat.

“I told you I was here to talk about the last business I had with you.” Jim said crossly.

“There’s nothing more to discuss. Whats done is done.” The old woman stated firmly.

“You have to undo the spell. I'm going out of my mind----” Jim caught himself. He inhaled, then exhaled a few times, trying to keep the anger down. “You have to help me.......”

A few beats of silence passed. Mrs. Ville shook her head. “You knew the chances. You wanted a child so badly, I warned you.”

“None of them lived more than a night!” Jim sputtered.

“You know what must be done. A life for a life.” Mrs. Ville pushed Jim aside to retrieve a few bottles of green liquid.

“No, “ Jim shook his head. “I'm not giving up Helen's life.”

“It's not specific,” the old woman croaked. She coughed, spat out flem on the floor.”The spell only said a life for a life. Anyone would do.”

Her back was to Jim. The thought, one the old woman placed in his head, ran amok.

Jim picked up a poker that sat by the wood stove. He looked at the poker, touching the pointed end with his hand. His upper lip curled. He raised the poker over his head.

Then he stopped in mid-air. He put the poker down. He rushed out the shop.

“I knew you wouldn't do it,” Mrs. Ville said to no one in particular.

Jim was on the hill, staring at the four tiny graves. Barnes appeared, huffing and puffing. Walking up a steep hill was too much for the older man. “What are we doing up here, Jim?”

Jim looked up at Barnes. “You got those papers?”

Barnes nodded.”I didn't expect you to sell, Jim. You are a complicated man.”

Jim shrugged. “Suppose I am, Garret. Seemed I was always simple. The world is complicated.” Jim took the ten finely typed pages and flipped to the areas that needed his initials and signature.

“Don’t you want to read it?” Barnes was startled, then amused.

“Nope,” Jim said, went back to staring at the graves. “Look at it, Garret. They were once living beings.”

“The hell you say,” Barnes chuckled. “You drunk, boy?”

Jim shook his head no. “People, Garret. Little babies.”

Barnes' mouth opened and closed in silence. He didn't know what to say.”Who's babies.....?”

“Each one born three months from each other. All this year, Garret. “

“Did Helen....? What in blazes-----no. Your pulling my leg-----your dead serious.” Barnes looked down at the house. He shook his head, backed away from Jim before turning on his heel. “Well, thanks Jim. I'll be in touch. T---tell Helen I said hello.”

Jim said nothing. He was lost in his thoughts. Barnes practically ran down the hill to his truck. Jim heard the truck speed off, never once looking away from the graves.

He stood watching the graves for a few more minutes, when the sun setting stole his attention away. Jim heard two crows cawing. The crows spoke to each other in their language, then one crawled inside the long gray trench-coat on which the scarecrow wore. The other one shook hos wings free of any bad feathers or dirt, curled up in a ball, formed the face of the scarecrow. Two more crows flew inside the trench-coat. One became the left arm, the other crow became the right arm. Jim was in awe, mesmerized. Two more crows flew to the scarecrow, formed it's legs.

The scarecrow lept from it's podium that held him there in the daylight. But every evening, it is free to bring itself down from the two poles fashioned together by rope and forced into the barren ground a few yards from the graves. His face was black, feathery, mysterious black. It's eyes glowed yellow. Possibly the eyes of the crow. He walked as if it's limbs were weighed down by weights on it's feet.

The scarecrow walked past Jim as if it didn't know Jim was there. Jim knew what it was going to do and where it was headed.

It was headed toward the house, to Helen.

This angered Jim. No more, he thought. He was sick of being sick to his stomach whenever he thought of Helen with this thing----this unnatural being.

Jim felt for the .38 in his belt. He drew the pistol that was meant for Garret Barnes. Jim fired, the bullet tore through the scarecrow's midsection with ferocity, it brought it down to it's knees. Hay fell from it it spurts to the ground. It looked down at it's wound. In an instant the hay found it's way back inside the scarecrow. It stood in one clumsy act and continued on to the house.

Jim screamed. He was on his knees. The gun now lay on the ground beside him. Blood poured out of Jim's midsection, flowing like river in his hands. His face showed confusion.. The shadow of the empty podium where the scarecrow makes his home enveloped Jim in his last few moments of life.

One month later, Helen moved into a house on the edge of town, a house that had seen better days. She sat in the kitchen at the table, her baby drinking from her breast. She looked out the window and saw the sun setting. Helen smiled.

“Your Father will be home soon,” she told the child, pulled it gently from her erect nipple. The baby opened it's yellow eyes and made a slight sound from its thin-lined lips. Helen touched the child's black feathery face with a hand. “I love it when the sun goes down.”