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Friday, March 16, 2012

HELL TRAIN A-COMIN' copyright2012 m.s,

The sun beat down upon my face, my skin frying like a pair of eggs in a greasy pan. My shirt was sticking to me, trapping those damn mosquitoes in a river of sweat. Silky and me were stuck in Alveriz, the most southern part of the southern Alabama, waiting for a damn train. We were here on a scam and a card game. Neither one happened and we decided to blow this sleepy town. Not the best of ideas, two black men in the white part of town. But I damn for sure wasn't walking ten miles to the other side of the county to catch the same train in a black neighborhood.

“Al,” Silky said, wiping liquid from the back of his neck with his handkerchief that had his initials embroidered on them. “We gotta find a new line of work.”

“I ain't goin' back to snooping for Ross, silky.” I snarled. “Gettin' pics of men and women cheatin' on each other for that damn slob. Him keepin' most of the paydirt. No way, Silky my friend.”

“Aw, shit, Al.” Silky kicked a stone on to the train tracks. “We got no prospects, except Ross...waitin for a stinking train with three dollars in my pocket.” He snapped his suspenders.

One thing was true. Me and Silky was good at snoopin'. I just got tired of getting' my noggin caved in over a lousy seventy bucks a week.

I tossed a couple pebbles across the train tracks when blurry figure was creeping up that winding iron boot. “The hell is that?” I said, trying to shade my eyes with a hand.

“Somebody walking the tracks? That's not too bright.” Silky remarked, squinting his already tiny eyes to see who it was like he knew the person.

“They walking funny,” I saw them stumble up the slope, fall to their right side, then catch themselves with a hand.

“It's a woman,” Silky was sneering at first. Realizing what he said, he had a grin on his face like a cat that just got in the fish tank. “Yep. That is a woman.”

I shoved him out of the way. I heard him curse me as I walked the railway to meet the woman. She was a young white woman, hair the color of molasses, knotted up and down her shoulders. Her dress was torn. Stockings in shreds, hanging around her bruised and bloodied legs. Her oval face had deep cuts, the blood had run down her chin and dried.

She was murmuring to herself about being late. I could see in her eyes she was hollow. Long gone.

“Miss,” I said taking her hand and leading off the train tracks. “Are you alright?”

Silky came running, stopped beside me and walked along side of us. “What the hell happened to her?”

“Lord only knows, Silky. Looks like somebody attacked her.” We helped her to bench outside the train station. She was still twitching and murmuring to herself about being late. Appologizing to Jim. Whoever he was.

“Or something...” Silky let his words trail off. Both of were now spooked. Our eyes met, I swallowed dryly. Silky shook his head. “No sir, Al, I don't like this at all.”

I shook my head, wiped beads of sweat from my eyes. “Me neither, Silky. Me neither.”

“He wont like it,” She said. “No, no, no, no...Jim wont like it I'm late..”

“Who is this Jim?” Silky asked, rubbing the woman's bruised hand softly.

“He's the Father of lies....that's who he is. I can't be late for” She said, almost angrily.
Silky let go of her hand. He sighed, looked at me. Silky paced around the bench and the woman.

“What?” He wouldn't answer right away. He kept pacing. “What, Silky? What the devil is wrong?”

He stopped in his tracks. “That's just it, Al.” He said. I smiled at him, shook my head. “Don't smile. That woman is talking about the Devil, Al. I don't like this at all.”

I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned and saw a pale man in a train conductor uniform. He was smiling sideways at me. I felt odd. Happy, sad, angry...all at the same time. I saw on his name badge it said Jim Scratch. I backed away from him, breathing uneasy. His milky eyes had a red tinge that rose and fell with every mood I was in.

“I'm afraid this little lady has a train to catch, friends.” He spoke slowly, yet impetuous.
“There ain't no train yet,” Silky said, standing in between the two of us, protective of me.

“Oh, my friend, that train is just a tick away... now I need for this fine young thing to be on that train.” The train conductor said, waving his hand. The sun disappeared and the night had given birth to a starless night.

“Silky!” I screamed hid behind him.

“It's okay, Al. Don't be scared. He ain't nothing. He takes orders, not gives them.” Silky kept his eyes on the train conductor the whole time he spoke. “He probally is nothing but a toad stool down there.”

The train conductor laughed, tipped his hat up. “That, my friend, was a millenium ago. Eons. It really don't matter what I am. If I I don't get this soul on the train, I have to take two more.”

“Well, I have something to say. My Aunt Mim taught me this: "And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried..."

The train conductor extended his jaw, a new line of sharpened teeth protruded as his face contorted to inhuman proportions. His eyes were a fire red, his skin a sickly yellow. But it was all show. In just seconds, he'd evaporated into the air.

I didn't handle things so well. Screaming, I had fallen to my knees and began crawling backwards away from the demon and Silky. Silky was as steady as a rock. He faced that thing as if it were a ninety pound old woman.

I got myself together. Brushed the dirt from my suit. I walked up on Silky, said, “He's gone.”

“Oh, he'll be back. Trust me.” We both looked over at the bench. The girl was gone. She was a few yards ahead, stumbling back towards town. We ran after her.

“Miss!” I screamed at her, my forty year old body can take so much running, but I got to her before Silky 's slow ass did. “Look,” I panted when I stopped her from walking. She was looking all around, frightened like a baby doe alone in the woods for the first time. “You can't go running off like that. Something bad is going to happen—you need a doctor---”

“Do you hear?” She said abruptly, threw her hands over her ears. “It's coming!” She screamed and fell to her knees.

“She's crazy, Silky,” I hollered to him. He finally reached us, out of breath.

Silky held on to me for dear life, panting hard like he's just ran the Boston marathon.”She...ain't..crazy..Al..she's scared....”

“It's's coming..” She sobbed.

I put my hands under her arm and gently lifted her up. I hugged her, told her everything was alright. Silky tapped me on the shoulder.

“Al?” he said in a shaky voice. “I wouldn't do that if I were you.....”

“She's human, too, Silky. Even white people need comforting---”

Then I saw why he was warning me. A gray Chevy pickup pulled up beside us. Two brutish white men in jeans and checkered shirts was standing beside that Chevy. The bald one came from the driver's side, sporting a baseball bat. The shorter, dark haired man had bicycle chains in his hands. These fellas looked awful angry.

“Look here, Sirus. We got two niggers here assaulting a white woman,” The bald man said.

“Justice is got to be served, Dave. Right here, right now, before God's eyes.” The dark haired one started twirling those chains.

I sighed, shook my head at Silky. Silky shook his head. I showed them my switchblade I inherited from my older brother when he was killed over a card game in Frisco ten years ago. I wasn't thinking of using it any time soon, but always had a feeling I was going to need it.

“You fellas don't understand,” Silky held his hands up. “This lady is in trouble, not from us.”

They laughed. “Why is her dress torn, she on her knees, boy?” The bald one said. “Looks ain't deceiving, not in this case.”

“Ain't no cluing these fuckers, Silky. Might as well fight if you gonna die anyway.” I told him as the two white men circled around us.

The young woman screamed again. “It's here.” She whispered. Then she stood, started to run, the dark haired man caught her. “It's hereeeeeeeeee!” She screamed.

“Oh my,” The train conductor appeared, a smooth, larcenous grin on his face. “I love a fight, especially if death is apparent.”

“Where did he come from?” The bald one said.

“I've always been here,” The train conductor said.
The dark haired man, dropped his chains. “Look at his eyes...they are, I tell you!” He staggered backwards, stepping on his friend.

I heard wheels coming to a halt and saw steam rise into the air. Sure enough, that train had arrived. A long black train with cars that were attached for miles upon miles. I saw movement in those cars, heard their moans. I knew what those passengers of that train was. Souls of the damned. Just what Silky had been hinting at. I put my blade away. Somehow, I knew I didn't need it anymore.

That young woman ran to the train. “What are you doing?” I yelled at her. “You wanna go to hell?” I saw what she was doing. She opened the gates on the cars. Lost souls stumbled out. Soon the train station was littered with hundreds of people wandering around.
“I heard the two of you,” The train conductor took hold of the bald man by his collar. The man's baseball bat turned to tree shavings in his hands. “You were wanting that young woman, I suppose you'll take her place then?”

The dark haired man tried to run, the train conductor laughed, flicked his fingers and the man's legs turned into a puddle of liquid, just leaving his torso laying on the ground. The train conductor pulled the bald man closer to him.

“Look at me, see the heat rise in my eyes, friend.”

The bald man screamed as the sockets of eyes became two blackened, charbroiled holes.

Silky smacked me on the arms, he pointed at the gray Chevy. I grinned. “Good thinking.”

We drove by the train conductor screaming at at those lost souls to get back on the train. We were heading out of town, the lost souls were populating it.

Silky was driving fast, his foot glued to that gas pedal. I looked at him laughed.

“What are you laughing at?” He grinned.

“That train conductor is gonna have to start all over, ain't he?'

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

THE CAT'S PRIVATE EYE PT 6 : THE EYE copyright2012 m.s.

That was a first. I've never been able to transport exactly I want to. We were in Mr. Lim's living room obviously in the middle of feeding time. His Butler a chimp with a voice box, was serving Mr. Lim and all of his fifty cronies, tuna casserole. The smell made me want to puke. Being a floating head in a spirit cabinet may not be the best plan, having to float in my own sick.

“Oh, great!” The Butler moaned. “More guests! I only have two hands and these hands can't make another casserole any time soon!”

“Shut it, Binky. They aren't eating. Now go fetch me my whiskey sour, like a good boy.” Lim demanded. Binky scowled at Lim and gave him a Zelig heil. Lim rolled his eyes.

“A chimp as a butler, very strange,” Roberte said, resting on the sofa, two of Lim's kitty comrades sniffed his digits.

“As if you should talk. You're a hand without an arm or a body, for that matter. Okay, Johnny, I see you've brought me the package. Now cut the psychic line and ease her down in front of me.” The black cat said, wiped some tuna from the sleeve of his smoking jacket.

“As you wish, Mr. Lim,” I commanded my spirits to perform that act and Coletta lay gently on the floor.

She woke, still groggy, murmuring about Calvin. Mr. Lim ran up to her and snatched the necklace from around her neck. He held it up, the milky eyeball shimmering in the lights.

“At last,” Mr. Lim exclaimed and promptly bit into the eye, chewing it carefully. Coletta screamed, reached out for the necklace. It was too late, Mr. Lim had swallowed the last bits.

“You monster,” She sobbed. “It was all I had left of my Father before you caused the accident!”

“He was working on a lovely potion to help me become human again,” Lim explained.
“The last drop of potion survived as it splattered in his eye. Delicious.”

In mere moments, Mr. Lim had a violent change to his body. He had become human..only in body, though. His cat head survived, as did a tail.

We couldn't help but laugh, all of us, even his Cat friends.

Mr. Lim sighed as he caught his visage in a mirror across the room.

“Oh, shit,” He said. “Oh, well. You can't have everything,” Mr. Lim drank his whiskey sour.

“Very Tacky,” Binky remarked and rolled his eyes.


I'd just recovered my spirit cabinet at a disco thanks to a redheaded Siamese twin and removed my head from the body I had been apart of for last two days. It felt right being inside my spirit cabinet. Just as I was getting comfortable being a floating head inside my cabinet, I saw Coletta Bare sitting at a table across the room. Now was the time not to let her get the edge on me nor Calvin the hand without a body that was her assistant the brother of Roberte another hand without a body. I summoned all of my spirits and sent them to the table. Coletta was bound by the spirits in a trance levitated in a thought bubble. Just then a knife whizzed by my head and stuck firmly into a post in the disco. A gun shot rang out and I saw Calvin lying on the table bleeding from a wound in the palm below his digits. Smoke from the barrel of a gun held by Roberte.
“Life's a bitch” Roberte said. “Then you die.”
With that statement, I called upon the spirit world to transport Roberte, coletta, and I back to the real world to see Mr. Lim.


Monday, March 12, 2012


His name was Roberte and his left handed brother was the bastard that helped push me out of a window. Mind you, at that time I was just head in a spirit cabinet. My spirit cabinet is lost, maybe even destroyed. When I fell through that dark void, I had no idea I would land on someone else body in a bar in a city called Coma.

I realize why the city is called Coma. Apparently all the inhabitants are deep in sleep. I noticed this when Roberte, a hand without a body, like his brother, took me to the city streets looking for my spirit cabinet.

“Was it always like this?” I asked, my body clutching him close to my chest. The fingers on Roberte moved restlessly.

“As far as I can remember. Although I suffer a lot of blackouts. A malady I have for the loss of my body.”

“How did you get here?”

“That's funny you ask. My brother and I were fighting over a blond. They threw me out of a window.”
Suddenly, I felt a jolt. My spirit cabinet was close. The spirits were out of the box, I could feel it. I told Roberte. We were in front of a disco, and the beats were louder and louder. My eardrums were bleeding. Roberte jumped out of the grip my body had on him. He ran into the disco, lost in the crowd jumping up down in unison.

I followed, calling his name, until I saw Robete sitting at table with a Siamese redhead. She had my cabinet beside her and all of my spirits were dancing around her, enjoying the music.
“These are the Fowler sisters,” Roberte said.

“Hello,” they both said. They were beautiful, both of them, sharing the same body dressed in tank top and mini skirt; and sharing the same tatoos from head to toe.

“They've agreed to sell me your spirit cabinet.” Roberte said, chuckling.

“But it's mine not yours to sell,” I said with sharp tongue.

“Who cares? Your getting it back. But you have something the sisters want.”

“What's that?” I yelled over the loud music.

The Siamese twins stood, walked toward me. The knelt, unzipped my fly. A hand reached inside and produced a long mechanical machine with button that lit up. At the end of this machine was a glass jar filled with stardust. The sisters looked up at me and smiled. Their fingers danced across the colored buttons and a window opened. Their faces were littered with sparkling stardust.

In mere moments, all of their tattoos had disappeared.
They stood, wiped stardust from their lips and kissed me. They tasted like sour apple gum.

“The cabinet,” they both said sitting back down. “And the spirits are yours.”


Saturday, March 10, 2012

THE CAT'S PRIVATE EYE PART 3: COMA CITY copyright2012 m.s.

I fell through the dark void wondering if I should have called that dumb black cat, Mr. Lim's bluff. He'd threatened my life if I didn't take the job of bringing to him a woman Colleta Bare, who incidentally, pushed me out of a window. I was falling fast, just my head.  My spirit cabinet had already hit it's mark down below. I was wondering when this day would be over, so I can go home, enjoy an issue Highlights magazine and a can of Schlitz.

Just as I was fretting, I too hit my mark. Tearing through three ceilings. The last was a bar, filled with the strangest people I'd ever seen. Siamese twins, people with toasters for heads. Four legged strippers dancing around spiderwebs. A guy with his dog attached together by an umbilical cord. And the Frankenstein monster serving at the bar.

Of course where I landed, didn't make me any more normal. It seemed I, Johnny Zero, had landed on a headless body. Now I'm stuck. He sure was happy. His hands kept feeling me up. He was sitting at the bar, pouring beer in my mouth, turning a matchbook over and over in his hands. COMA CITY, it stated on the cover.

I was drunk. I was pissed. And I was worried about my spirit cabinet. I turned to the man attached to his dog , “Where the fuck is my spirits?”

The dog laughed, smacked his knee. “That was the best joke I have ever heard, buddy.”

I snarled at him. “Sometimes the kind of people in these places, make me sick.”

The man and his dog pulled out a knife.

I smiled. “Hey, you wouldn't cut a floating head, would you?”

They lunged at me with both knives. Suddenly, a hand smacked one blade out of the man's hand and in an instant later gave the dog two right crosses. The man and his dog whimpered and and ran out the bar with their tails between their legs.

I knew that hand. He helped Colleta throw me and my spirit cabinet out the window.

“I would thank you, but your the reason I'm here---remember you tossed out a window.”

“I'm afraid you have me mixed up. Sounds like my brother, Calvin—a left hand! Open windows are his forte.”


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

THE CAT'S PRIVATE EYE copyright m.s. 2012



 "Johnny zero," The cat said, licking his black paws, and sneering. "We have you cornered. there is no  way out."

It was true. They had my back up against a brick wall down a lonely alley. There must've been about fifty of those fuckers and all of them were at the whim of their master, Mr Lim. He was an old foe of mine back in the days at college when he could change into human form any time the wind blew.
Those were different times: The poets studied rules of verse and the ladies rolled their eyes--
wait a minute; that's Lou Reed talking. Sometimes his spirit invades my mind. It's hard to control, like turrets. Any ways, I hadn't become a floating head in a spirit cabinet yet. We had a lot of classes together. We became friends. He confessed to me in secret he was man that could change into a cat, and a couple of homosexual encounters.  All he had to do was swallow a pill each month and his human form was easy to retain. By accident one drunken night, I spoon fed a monkey that was passed out in my dorm room(the drunken monkey is a long story).
Years later, after my own freak spiritual accident with Houdini's spirit cabinet, I met Mr. Lim at a Celtics game. Talk about  uncomfortable.

And here we are.
 "What do you want, Mr. Lim?"  His friends came closer to me. The wheels on my cabinet were stuck in a groove in the pavement. They kept turning and turning.

"I know you are a private eye," He said, cleaning his ears with his paws now. "I need you to find someone. her name is Colletta Bare. Pinky! Show the floating head her picture." he ordered a tabby to approach me.
The cat took both paws and slid them into his mouth, pulled his jaws open. His head split like a ripe melon. A piece of paper fell out to the pavement. In the picture was a blonde with fat red cheeks and large blue eyes.

"I want you to find her and bring her to my castle. i believe you know the address. I've taken the liberty of paying your debts and buying you a subscription to Highlights children magazine," the black cat hissed.

Damn. I forgot i confessed to him my love for Richard Scary stories.

"And if I refuse your offer?" I asked, smiling.

"My friends will use their claws to scoop out your eyeballs and pour catnip in your empty eye sockets."

                               END OF PART ONE

Thursday, March 1, 2012

LOST IN THE GARDENcopyright m.s. 2012



 I have a ways to go and at every corner of the hedge, there is  new beginning.
I came to visit my Uncle Nave at his brilliant residence, Hobart Manor. When I arrived, the four story mansion was empty. No Servants, no uncle Nave.
I wandered through the place finding doors open and attics locked. The furniture had all been stacked upon each other as if they towers or ladders. Windows in the house were open and would not let me close them.
uncle Nave 's study was bare, contrast to last visited.  None of the paintings he'd been working on were there except the one of the garden.
But there hadn't been a garden at this house for years. Since Aunt Lana died. The garden had been her obsession. She had built the garden with her designer from Argentina. Soon after the garden was built, the designer disappeared. Aunt Lana struggled with the upkeep. Son the sickness came. Everything died in the garden. Soon Aunt Lana passed. the Servants spoke of the garden as if it had been alive. Said it drained Lana of her life.
I didn't believe any of it. until this morning.
I touched the painting Uncle Nave had done of the garden. I heard my name being whispered. The watercolors were warm, breathing. My eyes were failing me, but when they came back from the blur, I was inside the garden that Uncle Nave had cut down years ago.
I walked for miles, seeing the same apple trees, dogwood and hedges nicely clipped. At ever hedge I turned a corner. A new beginning. I could hear voices calling to each other, crying out for help. I recognized a few as Servants belonging to Uncle Nave. I heard Aunt Lana 's voice as well. She told us we would never be apart again. Just as I had entered the garden at first, I thought I saw Uncle Nave walking ahead of me, leading me to every new hedge.
When I turn to find the footsteps behind me, I  would catch a glimpse of a man watching, following. Then he would disappear.
I continue my journey to find the end of the garden.