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Friday, August 26, 2011

THE CARDS NEVER LIE copyright2011 m.s.

Emily took the crystal ball in her hand and giggled. Tom placed his hand on top of it. Emily pushed his hand away, shaking her head. Tom frowned, put his hands in his pocket. He didn't like those sort of shops. Shops that sold paranormal paraphernalia. If you looked under the objects those places sold you, you'd most certainly see a sticker stating it was made by Parker Brothers.

Emily turned to the shopkeeper and giggled. “I like this one,” She said, twirled her dark curls between her fingers. “Tom? I like this one.”

“How much?” Tom asked the Shopkeeper.

The tall, bald man smiled a horrific smile, very few teeth and all red gums. “Thirty-five dollars, sir.”

Tom made a face. “For a crystal ball made of plastic?”

“Oh, no sir,” The Shopkeeper was offended. “That's real glass.”

Tom looked at Emily. She giggled, looked away. “Okay,” He pulled his money clip from his pocket, counted out the amount.

“Plus tax---thirty-six twenty.” The Shopkeeper smiled again. Tom threw down two more dollars.

Tom forced a smile. “That's what I get for being with someone fifteen years my junior.”

They were walking down an alley past the mall when Emily saw the sign for Palms Read. The sign was hanging on a tree in the front yard of an old run down house way too small for it's yard. Surrounding the house was an abandoned warehouse where vendors used to pickup their supply of potato chips and bread.

“Oh look!” Emily beamed. She pointed to the sign. Tom stopped in his tracks, his face fell. “Lets go!” She danced around him, tugging at his coat.

“No,” he said. “I don't want to go to a charlatan----why?”

“Oh, don't be such an old man!” Emily exclaimed. “This is going to be fun---”

“I'm not an old man,” Tom said in a huff.

Emily kissed him. “I know your not. Please....let's go inside....”

“They always seem...creepy.”

“I'll make it up to you later.....I promise.” She kissed him again.
“Fine. Just for a few minutes.”

Emily squealed, grabbed Tom by the hand and ran to the house that boldly advertised palms read.

The house had not been painted in years. It was weather beaten and the what little white paint that hadn't chipped away, had turned a sickly yellow. They stood on the steps, Emily rapidly banging on the screen door. A short elderly woman with a red haired wig answered the door. She was stooped over, barely moving at snail speed.

“Um, we would like our palms read---” Emily said.

“You would like your palm read.” Tom corrected her.

“Yes—I would,” She turned and stuck her tongue out at him.

“Come inside,” The old woman barely managed, motioned for them to follow.

They entered the house, which was nicely taken care of. Lots of small trinkets everywhere representing all kinds of pop culture throughout the years. Emily particularly liked the snoopy display. The old woman took them to a room in the back of the house that separated the kitchen from it by hanging beads in the doorway. A woman, middle aged, perhaps, was already sitting at a table, fiddling with a deck of cards.

“You have customers,” the old woman croaked.

The woman at the table looked up. Her eyes were pale blue and had no pupils. Tom and Emily were taken aback. They exchanged glances.

“Come,” The old woman urged them to sit at the table. “Valeria will take care of you.”

They sat at the table, unsure of what was to happen next. Tom grabbed Emily's hand, held it tightly. She was surprised by this action. She smiled. He's afraid, she thought. Tom loosened his tie, he felt beads of sweat drip from his forehead and dribble down his cheeks. He wiped them away with a hand.

Valeria placed two tarots face down on the table. The cards were a strange color of red against the white tablecloth. The woman was obviously blind. She felt for her glass that looked like it was filled with water, but the smell was an alcoholic drink.

“Choose one, “ She said.

“Which one?” Emily asked after a moment of silence.
At this point the old woman came and sat next to Valeria. Valeria made a distressing face. “Whichever one you think best.”

“If your blind, how can you see the cards?” Tom let go of Emily's hand, much more confident now.

“My sister will read them to me,” Valeria said. “The cards never lie.”

Tom smiled at Valeria. Then at the old woman. His face turned red. Tom slumped slightly in the chair. Emily turned over a card. The old woman leaned in and whispered in her sister's ear.

“Let me see the palm of your right hand.” Valeria demanded.

Tom rolled his eyes, and didn't say what he wanted. He knew there was an answer waiting for him. He watched Valeria run her wrinkled finger up and down the palm of Emily's hand. Valeria's lips trembled, opened and closed as if she were speaking to herself.

“ The card was Star in reverse....
“It's meaning: Deception--- A line in your palm runs long like a river across the palm---”

“Now see here---” Tom raised his voice.

Emily patted Tom on the shoulder with her other hand. “It's alright. I'm not offended.”

Tom looked away, grumbling to himself.

“Pick a card from the deck,” Valeria instructed, looking as if she were in a trance.

Emily did so with her left hand, the right one still held by Valeria. Her sister whispered to her. Valeria ran her index finger across Emily's palm.

“Mm... The card is the Moon upright:

“ I see...satisfaction. Success. Love. Happy marriage.”

This pleased Tom and Emily. They both smiled big at each other. Somewhat truthful. She was Tom's third marriage, and most successful. He married her when she was sixteen, and now she was twenty-three to his fifty-five. The other two marriages only lasted two years each.

“Pick another card from the deck.” Valeria said.

Emily was now all but too pleased to do so. She took the card with a giggle, scrunched up her nose. Valeria's sister whispered again. At first, Valeria was at a loss for words. Her hesitation was too long, but then rushed the latter part of the reading. She barely ran her finger across the palm, but sideways.

“The card is......Judgment. In reverse.

Valeria released Emily's hand. She whispered to her sister. The old woman looked at Valeria, confused. The old woman shrugged, whispered back. Valeria nodded.

“Now you turn over the card,” She said to Tom.

Tom laughed. “No, madam, I am not here for a reading. It's only to amuse my my wife--”

“Just do it, Tom!” Emily scolded. He looked at her face and could see that she mean it. He smiled at his wife and turned the card over.

The old woman whispered in Valeria's ear. “Give me your right hand.”
Valeria took Tom's hand gingerly. She ran her hand across his palm. It ran a long ways to the finger next his thumb. She seemed impressed by the look on her face. Tom and Emily exchanged solemn looks.

“The card is Hierophant upright:

Emily touched Tom's arm. He smiled at her, embarrassed. “I already knew that about him.”

The sisters were keen on moving on and showed it by tapping the table with their fingers in unison. Tom raised an eyebrow, cleared his voice.

“Pick a card from the deck,” Valeria said coldly.

Tom slowly drew the card, laid it with the others. The old woman whispered in Valeria's ear. Valeria ran her index up the palm of Tom's hand, only not as high as the first time.

“The card is the Fool in reverse:
“A bad decision.”

Tom laughed. “I've made several in my life.” He shook his head and laughed. Emily chimed in with her high pitched giggle.

The old girls gave a look of dissatisfaction and the merriment stopped on a dime. Tom drew his last card. Valeria received the information from her sister. She moved her finger left, lateral, then up, left, lateral again.

“The card is Hanged man upright:
“Loss...unexpected change...illness or death....I'm, it is that. No, it's only loss. I am sorry I said those others.” Valeria rose from the table and left suddenly.

“What was that about?” Emily whispered to Tom.
“It's all rubbish anyway.” He answered.

The old woman forced a smile, kept looking for her sister. “That will be seventy-five dollars please.”

Tom's face fell. “Your kidding me? For that?!” A vein was now poking through his forehead.

“Just pay them. We can afford it.”

Reluctantly, Tom placed the bills in the old woman's hands.

“Thank you. I will show you to the door.” Her slow pace finally took Tom and Emily to the front door. By now darkness had settled on the streets, and bitter cold blew in. The old woman shut the and turned to find Valeria waiting for her in the hallway.

“I'm sorry I ran out in the last minute,” Valeria said, rubbing her eyes. “Those contacts were killing me.”

“Is that why you said you didn't feel like yourself?” Her sister croaked.

Valeria thought a moment. “No,” She said. “I felt like someone else was giving a reading.”

Tom and Emily strolled mindlessly back to the mall. They were out in a remote area of the parking lot, looking for their car. She'd taken her hands away from his and was writing in the sides of a book bound in leather. Tom stopped, Emily bumped into him.

“Your still fooling with that crap,” He chastised her.

“Yes,” She said and pushed him forward. “The Coven does not see their craft as CRAP, Tom. It's very real.”

“I should have never introduced you to my cousin Beryl. She's absolutely whacky.”

“Beryl is very knowledgeable about spells. And this was apart of my initiation to do something mischievous along with kindness.”

They had found their car by now. But Tom had stopped at the front, grabbed Emily by her arm. A shadowy figure appeared from around the back end of the car and swiftly came into the light. A man in a brown jacket holding a .32 snub nose. He aimed it at Tom.

“Give me all of your money....Now!”

Emily screamed. Tom reached for his wallet inside his coat and the gun went off. Tom fell sideways, landing on the hard pavement. Blood drained from his throat and formed a puddle around him. The man nearly dropped his gun, recovered himself, and ran into the darkness. Emily struggled with her cellphone, as the last bar had faded into a flashing blip, while the light in Tom's eyes passed on.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

THE SWARM copyright2011 m.s.

We were standing on the street corner where the docks were. Lots of Sailors came and went, looking for a good time. Kay spotted one sailor carrying his duffel bag on his shoulders walking past us. She pointed at him, told me to get his attention. I ran to him, using all of my sales pitch I've learned from the other pimps through the years.

Kay and I had been together for a long time, inseparable.

She is a very pretty girl, when she wasn't on. That brings a lot bad facial expressions and dark circles creeping up. Her blonde hair down and in waves, angular face accommodating blue eyes, a favorite among johns. Especially in that short black dress.

I caught the sailor. Told him about Kay. He smiled big, said he wasn't sure about the price. I assured him for that price he would get everything he wanted. He didn't need a room, we already had one.

That may have helped with the hook. He followed us back to our place at the end of the street, behind the coffee shop and dealership. He didn't seem nervous inside the room. On the street he kept watching to see if anyone was following. In the room, he was all over Kay.

She took her clothes off, stood by the bed. He asked if I was going to stay and watch. He made a crack about how small I was, called me a dwarf. Kay told him I had to stay close, for protection. He took his clothes off, tried to ignore the situation.

The sailor went to Kay, touched her breasts, kissed each one. He reached up to kiss her when her eyes had went hollow. Her mouth left open as gaping hole. A swarm of yellow jackets exited her eyes and mouth, congregated upon the sailor's body, drilling thousands of tiny holes inside of him.

I covered my ears to mute his screams.

It wasn't long that the swarm had taken bits and pieces of the sailor and stored the nourishment inside their stingers. They headed back to the nest deep inside of Kay's body, via her eyes and mouth.

I removed my hands from my ears, watched the sailor's skeletal remains slump to the floor, every bit of his flesh missing.

Kay sat on the bed, sighed. With her fingernails, she spread apart the skin that covered her breasts and chest cavity. Showing me a dark chasm. I crawled to toward the bed, climbed. She had her eyes closed, so I stole a kiss. I crawled inside of her and watched the darkness envelope me as she closed her skin around me. I waited for the yellow jackets to bring me my food.

Every Mother would do this for her son.

EPITAPH copyright2011 m.s.


William found the box out by the dumpsters on Verona beach. He was tossing bags of trash from the day's work cooking and selling hot dogs out of his and June and Craig's Van. It was just a small black shoe box hidden behind the dumpsters covered partially by sand. Minutes before, as he was carrying the bags, he'd heard a woman's stifled scream. He thought nothing of it,since the beach was crowded, someone was having fun. But he saw a black man in a suit walking a young woman to his Impala and making sure she got in the car. She turned, gave William a look, then sat inside the car. The black man power-walked to the driver's side, opened the door. He stood for a moment, also gave William a look. He jumped in the Impala and sped off.

William picked up the box with both hands. He felt how warm it was. Almost like a living thing. That's when he almost dropped the box, he felt a heart beat. He opened the lid slightly, peaked in. Quickly, he placed the lid back on. He looked around, carried it under his arms as he walked back to the van.

June had already closed the blinds and locked the back where they sell the hot dogs. Craig was outside the van cleaning the windshield. Craig yelled at William and slid down the hood to the ground.

“What do you have under your arms, William?”

“Shh! Get in the van! You'll see!” William said in a short burst.

Craig moved a few long blonde strands from his eyes and scrunched up his nose. “Huh?”

William rushed inside the van, leaving Craig confused. June was cleaning the grill and every few minutes taking a rest to place a hand over her growing belly where her unborn child was restless. It wasn't known at the time if the child was William's or Craig's. It was thought for the best as of then not to know.

“This child is possessed, I know it,” She said to William. She threw the sponge down on the grill and waddled to the bed, sat on the thin mattress.

He just stood over her, not saying a word, almost fuming. She sighed, tied her short brown locks in a ponytail. “Okay, William. What's under your arms?”

The door the van slid open and Craig entered in his stoned manner, standing next to William. “Yeah....William. What's under your arms?”

William ran a hand over his face. “A box,” He said. He sat next to June. She scooted over to find a comfortable spot. “You two will not believe what's in here,” He finally said in a whisper.

“After the last five months, William, nothing could shock me.” June said.

“This will,” He opened the lid. A shimmer of light captured June's small Barbie nose and large hazel eyes in vertical blinds She lift up, looked in. She cupped her mouth in her hands.

Craig's eyes widened when he peaked in the box. “What the hell was that?”

“You saw what it was,” William stood and carried the box with him.

“I know what I saw,” Craig said. “But what the hell was it?”

William became exasperated. As long as William had known Craig he always played the part of the stoned blonde surfer, even before Craig had started smoking weed. He felt a slight migraine in between his eyes. “If you know what you saw, Craig, then you what the hell it is----”

There was a knock at the door. The three of them looked at the door, then at each other. William ran and hid the small black box under the bed. He opened his mouth to speak to the other two, thought about it. There was another knock at the door, he went to it, put his hand on the handle.

William turned to them. “Just act natural,” He told them.

“That's ridiculous,” June said.

“Yeah, God, William. You could be such a dick,” Craig said. He was even surprised by what he said. Dirty looks were directed at him. Craig looked away from June and William. The knocking grew louder and rapidly.

“I just mean let me do the talking,” He pointed at them with a finger. They nodded in unison.

William slid the van door open and that black man he'd seen earlier appeared. William was lost for words. The man smiled, lift himself up in the van without being invited. He was intimidating. Standing at Six-seven, and had small piercing eyes that jumped around. He removed William's hand from the handle and closed the van's door. Smiling the whole time.

“My name is Thomas. It's not important if you know if that is my first or last name,” He said, unbuttoning his blue suit jacket. “What is important is that you have something that belongs to my employer.” The black man stepped toward Craig. Craig took a few steps backwards into the grill.

“We don't know what your talking about,” William muttered.

Thomas turned to William, almost laughing. “Oh, no, you stupid fucking hippie. You know better than to lie to me. Give me the box---and before you say what BOX---think about how nice I can be...and how mean I can be.....” He flashed a smith and Wesson in his holster.

“There's a problem with what you just said,” William muttered.

“How's that?” Thomas voice became thicker.

“We're in with her,” William said bluntly.

“You're in with who, boy?”

“I saw you put her in the car earlier.”

“In with who? William---”

Thomas laugh was loud and it echoed in the van. William stared at the man. “If you harm us, you'll never find the----”

“The BOX,” Thomas cut William off. “Your so fucking cliched. Okay. All right. I'll tell you something.....I'm sure all three of you looked in the BOX. Right?”

No one answered Thomas. Their eyes met. Thomas laughed again.

“You saw what was in the BOX. You read the epitaph---”

“What? I didn't see anything written on that---” June said.

“I didn't either,” William's eyebrows lowered.

“You actually didn't take the time to read your epitaph?”

“I did,” Craig spoke up. He swallowed dryly. He spoke to Thomas. “I read it. I read it and---” He looked at William. “ ---I asked you what the hell was it---you didn't seem to see it. Everybody always assumes I'm the dumb one, or always stoned. It's not always true. I just take my time. I always....have.”

“What did you see, Craig,” June said gently.

“I'll show you,” Craig ran to the bed, dropped to his knees and reached under the frame. William screamed at Craig to stop, but Craig already had the little black box in his hands.

Craig was ready to show June when Thomas stepped in front of him. Their eyes met, Craig cradled the warm breathing box in his arms.

“I'll tell you what,” Thomas stroked his chin. “I'll call my employer, tell him I think he should pay you kids something.”

June didn't hesitate. She jumped right in. “Tell your employer we want two more things other than money.”

Thomas smiled. “Sure. I can see your the one who runs things round here, even in your shape.”

“Your employer will pay for all hospital and doctor bills from now on.”
June licked her lips, then continued. “We want twenty-five thousand dollars.”

“Lastly?” Thomas raised an eyebrow.

“We want to know the story behind this.....thing in the BOX. Who was the girl?”

William wanted to speak. But he knew when June was in charge, not to interfere.

Thomas nodded. “Fine. Let me call my employer.” He took out his cell phone.

It was a silly looking contraption. Obviously purchased in the early 2000's, the man never upgraded. The other three watched Thomas leave the van.

“Don't say anything, William,” June barked.

William threw his hands up. “I'm not. It looks like you've handled the situation.”

Thomas reentered the van. “You get the story. Here it is. You ready?”

“Just tell it,” June said.

“Bossy...the way I like my women....means there’s always a chance for a fight and make up.” Thomas clapped his hands together. “That girl you saw with me.” He cleared his throat. It's my employer's daughter. Who had ran away. And took the Box with her.”

“What's in that that thing real?” William asked.

“You saw it. You feel it breathing in the BOX...BOX is moving with it.”

“What about that epitaph?” June felt her baby kick, took a moment to take it in.

“Ah, yes. Well, it's like it tells the future of those that look into the BOX, if they actually look in. That's why my employer wants it back. I think my employer likes to know the future from a day to day basis. You can imagine this ordeal has been driving him nuts.”
Thomas reached into his jacket. “I guess now, I will do as my employer instructed.”

Thomas whisked out his Smith and Wesson and shot June three times in the chest. He leveled the gun to Craig and fired. Craig was already mobile and bumped Thomas in the midsection. His aim was too high and fired into roof of the van. Craig opened the door of the van and jumped out, falling to knees. He hopped to his feet and ran hard. William tried to perform the same act as Craig, but caught a bullet in the forehead.

Thomas stepped out of the van. The sun had set and the beach had already become empty. He didn't see Craig anywhere. He cursed under his breath, made tracks to his Impala.

Craig had already hit the streets. He'd walked in mobs of people, made sure he stayed with crowds. Several street corners turned into business districts. And finally, when the crowds had disappeared, Craig found an empty warehouse to take refuge.

He sat in the darkness. Made sure no one was around before he looked inside the little black shoe box. A glowing light lit his facial expression rather harshly. He saw the fetus of a child swimming in the light, an umbilical cord attached to the box. Upon the child's red, wrinkled skin, was Craig's epitaph written scarred tissue. But Craig could read it plainly.

Keep running. Keep running. Keep running.....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

VERA copyright2011 m.s.

In the ruins outside the city of Hammersmith, were columns made of marble, where many people placed their prayers, dreams, desires, and wishes. Through those crumbling columns led to darkness that housed a crypt. In that crypt, those dreams, desires, wishes, and prayers, were heard, and sometimes fulfilled, at a price.

Ferguson moved to Hammersmith to attend the University there. He enrolled in all the necessary art classes, but had little interest in learning anything they taught. He was only there to appease his Father and use the family's money to become a successful painter.

Ferguson always painted at night, between two and six in the morning. The rest of his time was spent throwing elaborate parties for people who would never become his friends. Something of a class division, as it was explained by his friend Alex, who was always at the cottage Ferguson rented, though he didn't live there. Alex was anywhere he could get a free meal and enough liquor to satisfy his disease.

Alex always had Vera by his side.. Vera became Ferguson's obsession. She was striking. The first time he saw her from across the room, walking side by side with Alex, her long dark hair fell and moved in rhythm with her hips, her long legs seemed to carry her across the room as if she were floating, Ferguson found the person he not only wanted to love----but own.

Vera was Art incarnate.

It was also at this very same party that Ferguson learned of people from the town had went to the old Constantine mausoleum to ask for what was not intended, or out of their reach.

Alex would laugh. “Pathetic, if you ask me. In my opinion, if you want something,” His eyes drifted to Vera. “You should just take it.”

Exactly what Ferguson wanted to hear.

“So,” He poured himself another drink, slightly slurring his words. “If one appears at the mausoleum after midnight and asks for whatever---in the morning----they shall have it. All that is required of one is to wait for the Constantine matriarch to manifest and you give her a kiss. The odd thing is, many of these people, I've been told, keep a scarf or something wrapped around their face. Some kiss!”

“Have you ever tried it, Alex?” Ferguson steadied his eyes on Alex.

“Of course not! I'm not a commoner like these village idiots living in Hammersmith. I don't believe in spirits either!”
“You don't have a scarf either,” Some one said.

Vera whispered in his ear, he pushed her away.

“I think we should take the party to the mausoleum.”

“Ahh...I don't think so, Ferguson.” Alex was the first to protest. Vera had nothing to say, as usual. As a matter of fact, Ferguson was in belief that Alex didn't allow her to speak.

Ferguson turned to Vera. “What do you think?”

She didn't answer him, but kept her eyes on his, the gray-blue drew Ferguson in and would not let him go for several minutes until Alex spoke, breaking the spell.

“She goes where ever I go,” He said with a bit of forcefulness in his voice.”She goes and does as I please.”

Ferguson was smirking. Alex stood and was now inches from his face. Ferguson put his hands up. “As you say, Alex, my friend.”

“Just don't forget it,” He snarled. Then took Vera by the arm and dragged her to the front door and threw her outside as soon as he opened it. He looked back at Ferguson, who was still smirking. He wagged a finger, but somehow forgot to vocal the warning. He exited, slammed the door so hard the windows in the cottage rattled. After that incident, people began to filter out of the party one by one. Soon it was just Ferguson and a bottle of jack. He stared at the rough drawing on canvas of Vera he began a few days ago. He hurled the bottle at the picture, knocking the canvas to the floor, following the bottle, that burst into a thousand little shards on the wood floor.

“I will get what I want!”

He threw himself upon his bed and covered his head with pillows and screamed.

Ferguson awoke in the morning his painting of Vera was back on the easel and completed. He was astonished. When had this happened? In my sleep?

He touched the painting with his fingers, noticed he'd added some background. The mausoleum.

“I don't understand.....” He said. There was a rapping at his door, sounded like bongos. Without thinking of dressing, Ferguson ran to the front door, fully exposed. He opened the door to find Alex and Vera standing there. Vera turned her head, then hid her face in Alex's jacket. Alex laughed.

“I think you should dress, old boy. You'll give the old women next door a scare,” Alex pushed Ferguson aside and Vera followed, still averting her eyes. Alex sat in a chair, Vera on the sofa. Ferguson left for the bathroom and reentered wearing pajama and an old tee shirt.

“I see you finished it,” Alex pointed at the painting. “You did well capturing those eyes.” He smiled at Vera, she blushed.

Ferguson ran his hand through his hair. “I, uh, don't remember painting it.”

Alex shrugged. “Sure. You were drunk.”

Ferguson nodded. “Yeah. Maybe.”

“We all were, old boy.”

“So what are you here for. I seem to remember you left here mad.”

“Yes. I was. I'm sorry about that. Jealousy and alcohol doesn't mix well.”

“You, Alex, shouldn't have either. Drink too much, think too much.”

“I agree.”

“ Your not going to loose Vera, unless you wise up.”

“Point taken.”

Ferguson looked at Vera. There was silence. “Don't you have anything to say?”
She just batted her eyes. “Don't say much do you?” Still, she said nothing, just batted her eyes at him. “What do you two want?”

Alex smiled slightly. “I'm going out of town.”

“So.” Ferguson went to the bar, fixed him a glass of vodka, then poured Alex some rum. He motioned for Alex to take it. “Let me guess, Vera doesn't drink or eat.”

“Oh, your wrong. She does both.” Alex drank down the rum in one gulp. He sat the glass down on the bar gently. “Look, I'll be gone for a few days. I'd like for you to take care of her.”

“I don't know. I'm kind of busy.”

“For the sake of our friendship.....”

“No,” Ferguson sighed.

“I know, old boy, you're ass-hurt about last night. I'm really sorry.” Alex patted Ferguson's arm. “Please do this for me.”

“She can't take care of herself?”

“Vera...get's lonely.”

Ferguson burst into laughter. “All right. I'll do it.”

“Great! Take her to Bridges. She love's that restaurant.”

“A steak place? Not an expensive cafe or....”

“Just take good care of her.” Alex went to the front door, opened it.

“Your leaving now?” There was panic in Ferguson's voice.

“You'll be all right.” He was gone.

The two of them stared at each other for a few moments. Ferguson sat on the sofa beside her. She stood and moved over to the chair. Ferguson nodded.

“That was fun. Now what do we do?”

Ferguson came to. He'd been lying on the floor of the restaurant, blood all over his shirt, his hands stinging with horrible. He sat up, touched his pounding head. Vera was kneeling beside him as was the manager of the place. He saw tables turned over, chairs tossed aside, several people staring at him with fear. A man was laying in a pool of blood, his face battered. He wasn't dead, but barely conscious.

“What happened?” Ferguson tried to stand, feeling dizzy he held onto Vera.

“You don't remember? You had words with that guy.....passed out.......then jumped up and wailed on him......passed out got anger problems----I don't want you in here again....”

Ferguson moved quickly. He took Vera by the hand and they trotted out of the restaurant. The manager called out to him, told him to stay, the cops were on their way. Ferguson was already in his Fiat powering through side streets. He drove out on the Interstate, then back on a dirt road. He didn't know why, but something told him to do it. He ended up at the Mausoleum.

The air was thin out there. The moonlight became as bright as if it were day.

He and Vera walked through several graves hidden behind a mist. She led the way. With each step she seemed to blend with the mist. As they stopped at the mausoleum, Vera disappeared. Shocked, Ferguson reached out for her, felt the air. He clasped his hand over his mouth. He felt a presence. In an instance a woman in a white shroud appeared. It covered most of her face and extended into a frock of some sort draped over her body.

“Speak it,” He heard a voice inside his head. “What you wish, what you desire.....”

Ferguson opened his mouth, but no words were spoken. She heard them inside her head. The woman bowled her head. Without even walking, his body was pulled forward. He was face to face with apparition.
She reached out, touched his trembling face. The woman leaned in, her lips parted. Then expanded. Her tongue slithered outward like a snake and a separate set of large teeth protruded and caught Ferguson by the lips and bit. He tried scream, it only came out as loud whine.

He awoke. He was in his bed. Naked. Beside him was Vera, she too naked. The morning sunlight murdered his vision, but was kind enough to give it back. His face hurt immensely. He stood, heard someone in the living room. He stumbled there, knocking the painting of Vera off the easel. He saw Alex sitting on the sofa, having a drink.

Alex turned, chuckled. “You look a wreck, old boy.” He drank down the last of whatever liquid and sat the glass in the coffee table. “Oh, well. I'm here to gather my sister.”

Confusion contorted Ferguson's face.

“Oh, you didn't know? Silly of me not have said. Thought you knew we were Constantine's.”

Vera appeared, fully dressed. She took Alex's hand and out the door they went. Ferguson tried to speak, nothing came. His jaw was in considerable pain. He placed a hand over his mouth. He ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror.

His face was misshaped, his mouth and right side of his jaw had been eaten away.

Monday, August 15, 2011

WHAT'S IN THE BOTTLE copyright2011 m.s.

They saw him coming up main street kicking up dirt behind him, doing a sort of power walk. Leonard was the first to notice the man in the checkerboard sports jacket, ball cap, and tennis shoes with holes in the sides. He was coming up fast past the barber shop and the school house, when Bob noticed something around his neck, swinging back and forth with every step the stranger took. Sol pointed out that the man must had been on the road a long time.

“See the dust flying off of him,” Sol said.

“Pitiful sight,” Bob shook his head, rocked a little more in his rocking chair as he whittling on a stick he'd been working on for a week.

Leonard laughed. “He could be one of your cousins, Sol.” Bob joined in, his laughter more like a squeak.

They were the eyes, ears, and mouths of the town called Leering. . Always gathering at Sol's store at two pm til six, sit on the front porch and spin stories and gossip about the town's residents. All three had lived in the small town all their lives, all three never once set foot outside the state of Virginia.

Bob ran the garage, was a grease monkey from the age of twelve. Leonard called himself a farmer, but never really grew anything, made his money doing odd jobs around town and once in awhile did maintenance on the school house or football field.

“Look at that idgit go,” Bob shook his head.

“Where in the hell did he come from? “ Leonard posed the question to the others.

The three of them exchanged looks, shrugged their shoulders.

The stranger came closer, stumbling as one foot tangled with the other. He fell to the dusty street in front of the store. The three of them jumped up, ran to the stranger's rescue.

“Whoa....buddy,” Leonard put a hand on the man's torn jacket, lift him up by the shreds.
Bob helped by pulling on the bottle, which was attached to a gold chain. The bottle fell from the chain with ease, hit the pavement. The bottle bounced, rolled to Sol's feet. He bent down, scooped it up. Sol made a face. In between that time, Bob and Leonard were in a heated exchange about clumsiness.

“Weird,” Sol said, turning the silver bottle around and around in his hands. “This thing is warm...feels like a beating heart....”
Bob and Leonard left the stranger in the middle of the street to see what Sol was talking about.
The stranger laid down, turned his face skyward, and gave out a long sigh, promptly ceased to exist. Bob and Leonard rushed over to the stranger.

“He's dead.....” Bob gave Leonard a confused look.

“What the hell?” Leonard shook his head, a long whining whistle came from his lips. “I never in my life.....Sol, this man is dead.....Sol?”

Sol was still intrigued by the silver bottle. He held it up in the sunlight. He read an inscription that had been engraved in old English lettering.

“Who so ever holds this bottle, once owned by COMTE SAINT-GERMAIN, will live as long as he is the curator and vie √©ternelle.”

Bob and Leonard looked at each other. “What did he say?” Leonard made a face.

“You okay, Sol?” Bob rushed to his old friends side, Leonard trailed him. Bob took Sol by the elbow. “Let's get you out of this heat, old boy.” They pushed him forward a few steps.

“What about the dead guy?” Leonard looked.

“Go tell Bill about him,” Bob yelled out.

Leonard stood paralyzed for the moment by confusion, then as if it just came to him, he ran across the street to the jailhouse.

Later that evening, after Bill, the town sheriff, took care of the stranger and all of their statements, Leonard, Bob, and Sol gathered at Sol's store. They sat out on the porch, watched the sun set. It was Leonard and bob doing the talking mostly. Sol was on the other side with the empty beer kegs, mumbling to himself. In an instant, Sol let out a blood curdling scream. Bob and Leonard jumped from their seats. They held onto each other.

Sol's face was frozen in agony.

His mind was taken back in time. A stone hammer pounded nails into a hand that was now bound to one side of a wooden cross. A flash came and the imagery changed. The cross had been driven into the ground hours ago. The glaring sun cast a shadow on the man's body as clouds darkened the sky above. Below, on the ground, a woman holding a silver bottle caught blood dripping from the cross.

Then Sol snapped out of it.

“La vie √©ternelle,” Sol said.

Bob and Leonard were bewildered. When they finally noticed they were holding each other tightly, embarrassment came over them. They pushed each other away.

Sol got up and left.

They watched him scuffle down the street toward his house, kicking up dust behind him.

“What in the world......” Bob scratched his head.

“I think Sol is sick, Bob.” Leonard sighed.

“What's Jane going to think of Sol and his bottle?”

Leonard looked at Bob, cleared his throat. “I have a bigger question for you.”

“What's that, Leonard?”

“What's in the bottle?”

Bob and Leonard were at Sol's store. Bob tried the front door, exasperated. “It's still locked.”

“Ain't seen him in two days. I'm worried, Bob.”

“Me too, Leonard. Me too.”

“Hey!” Leonard screamed, pointed to a man shoveling his feet through the street, cars dodging him. “It's Sol!”

Leonard started off the front porch of the store, Bob grabbed hold of his shirt, pulled him back.

“We gotta get him!” Leonard cried out, shook off Bob's grip.

Bob shook his head. “Let him go,” He said. “He obviously has something important to do.”

RED HOT WOODPECKERcopyright 2011 m.s.

I needed a fix and I needed it bad.

It had been two days and I was ready to drill a hole in somebody's head. Been shooting' speed the past six months and the highs are getting' lower each time. A drag. A real long drag. Once upon a time this red hot woodpecker could get anything he wanted by blowin' his horn and ruffling his red-headed cowl was as as easy as 1,2,3. The lil' chicks dug me, in spite of my beak and God-awful laugh. At one time, baby, I was king cock here in Universal city and my Bebop was the boppiest bop you could bop to. I was it, baby.

Until speed crashed this roadster.

Now it's hard for a woodpecker to live in the city. I blow my sax almost every night in Lantz Ritz club, owned by a real gone cat named Desota. A real horror show beast with a penchant for small animal dissection, especially birds with a red and blue suit of feathers.

Before I went on to do a set, I saw that Walrus in the audience, sitting at a table too small for him. He'd been coming to the club every night this week. Always in the same gray suit and polka-dot tie. Always sitting there, holding a hat box close to him, sippin' on a beer or two. I leaned over to my drummer, asked him who the Walrus was. My drummer took a long drag from his cig, “That guy? That's Wally. He knows Desota.”

Sure enough, after Suzie, the one armed stripper was through with her show, Desota came and talked to him. I saw Desota put a hand on the hat box. The Walrus moved the hat box closer to him, shook his head.

I knew what was in the hat box. I've run a few numbers for Desota. It has bread in it. A payoff for protection, more than likely. Suddenly a devil of an idea hit brain central. I bet I could pay off what I owe Desota, get a fresh hit, make the highs high again.

Get out of Universal city.

So I played my set. Blew my horn, wailed, screeched, stammered, sputtered, sang like a twelve year old boy with no nuts-----the audience just stared back at me. I turned to my bass player, shrugged. Somebody screamed at me, “Stop steppin' on Coltrane's shoes, ya bum!”
We went into our vibe, playin' the pop charts crap....audience mellowed out..seemed to dig it.

I was glad the shit was over. I needed a hit bad, I felt like I hadn't slept in a hundred years, and my drummer started callin' me Bela—or Lugosi---cause the dark circles under my eyes.

I waited at the bar, drinking tonic water cause that Panda bear bar tending bastard wouldn't cut me some slack on my tab. At about twelve thirty, the Walrus left his table, waddled to the bathroom, that hat box under short stubby flaps. I waited five minutes, followed as inconspicuous as possible. I passed by Desota's table. He was busy with Suzie using her good hand on him under the table.

When I got to bathroom, I could see under the stall that he was sittin' on the toilet. He was talkin' to himself in Italian. Weird. He was doing his voice and a woman's voice, but I couldn't understand what he was sayin'. Now I knew from first hand experience that Desota never put locks on the stalls. He sure was a cheap bastard.

I watched him finish his business, pulled up his pants. I burst into the stall. His back was to me. The Walrus screamed. I pecked his head several times, keepin' him from turning round to see me. Then I pushed his huge head into the toilet---my god what a big head that joker had. I smashed his head twice on the seat. First time, I broke one of his tusks. The second time, I busted his left eye. The third time, his head dunked into the smelly, black water. I held him in it for awhile, even flushing a couple times. I could hear him gurgling, cursing in Italian, when I let him up momentarily.
I flushed one more time, and he didn't get move. He didn't even make a mousey sound.

But he had a death grip on that hat box.

So I pecked at his flipper a few times, then it was free.

I know, I know. It's bad luck to leave a dead man face down in a toilet. But what are you gonna do. I made way for the exit of the club as fast as I could, protecting the hat box under a wing. I flew down the dark alley until I saw my building. I landed in the park. Got myself together. I walked the rest of the way, steppin' over Tricks and their Johns, winos having a knife fight. I snuck through the lobby, hopin' the old lady wouldn't hound me for bread.

Finally, three floors up. I safe in my nest. I sat at the kitchen table, took a swig of bourbon. I stared at the hat box. I toasted it. “Here's to you, baby. You're gonna get me back on track and outta this stinkin' city.”

I unraveled the pink ribbon that bound the top to the box. Tossed it aside and began to laugh, but shut myself up. I lift the top and threw it aside. I reached in, felt something completely mad diff from flat green paper. It was cold, fleshy. Then I felt something like string----no.

It felt like hair.

I saw head inside the hat box. A woman with large blue eyes, mouth open wide open and tangled blonde hair. She was staring up at me. Asking me why. Or was she yelling at me. no. She was screaming for help.

I sat back in my chair, took another swig of bourbon. I began to laugh uncontrollably. A loud maniacal laugh. So loud the neighbors were poundin' on my walls and screamin' at me.

It's all I could do, was laugh. It's just too funny.