Short Story Sunday: Lucky Me

“I took the bus from Los Angeles to Sacramento. At the station I saw an old chum of my brother’s from High School. He said he’d give me a ride, but then he got fresh. I wasn’t going to, you know, I have cash to pay for gas. I’m not… so he dumped me here. I figured if I walked…”

“Get in. You’ll be safe. I promise,” he said. It had just started to rain. “I have a house by the lake. You can stay the night. Where are you going?”

“Reno,” she told him. “I have a teaching job waiting for me. It starts in two weeks.”

He found out she’d left a short abusive marriage. Out of the fire into the frying pan. She was too trusting of people, all bright eyed and perky, even after being left on the side of the road by a creepy pervert.

“I’m Val,” he said holding out his hand.

“Eve,” she said. “Your hand is colder than mine. You’re freezing.”

He smiled. She felt safe for the first time in a long time.

“Val. I like that. Is it short for Valentino?”

“Valentine.”

“I like that better,” said Eve.

They drove for another half hour to a large cabin by the edge of a lake. Cabin was an understatement, this was a 3,000 square foot luxury home.

“Go change,” Val told her. “I have something to show you.”

She went into one of the bedrooms, feeling as if she’d been there before.

When Eve returned, in drawstring pajama pants and a comfy sweatshirt, she found Val sitting on the couch in the main living area with his laptop on the coffee table in front of him. A glass of red wine was in his hand.

“I feel better. Thanks for picking me up again,” said Eve, as she sat down next to Val.

“It’s what I do Eve. Did anyone else pick you up this week?”

“A couple from San Francisco picked me up on Thursday. I had them drop me off in Truckee. Oh and last Saturday a trucker picked me up. He was hauling a load of furniture to Salt Lake City. I went all the way to Reno with him. Nice guy. He told me about his wedding plans. What did you want to tell me?”

Val turned to the laptop. “Your body was found last week by some Cal Trans workers getting the road ready for winter. They found your suitcase. There were also two other young women, both killed and dumped within a couple weeks of you. Both disappeared from the Sacramento Gray Hound station in October of 1987.”

“What about Tom?”

“Tom Turner was arrested last night. He wallet was found under the body of one of the other women. He’d also kept souvenirs. Your purse and heart shaped locket were found in his house.”

“Wow. I didn’t know about the others. Oh Val. Thank God it is over. What happened to the other two women?”

“They didn’t stay,” Val said turning back to the computer. “After the bodies were found reports came in of a hitchhiker in a red leather jacket, with long blonde hair. She’d been seen on the highway for the past thirty years.”

“You know, I don’t remember when I go out at night. Not until they drop me off.”

“I know Eve. It’s ok.”

“I’m glad they arrested the sick bastard.”

“So am I. If you’d told me his name earlier I would have taken care of him myself.”

“I didn’t remember it until now. Val, do you think I’ll go out again?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think I’ll move on? I guess see the light?”

“I can’t answer that, but you know you can stay here as long as you want.”

“I saw some other ghosts out tonight. They’re so lost.”

“Donner Party folks?”

“How’d you know.”

“They’re always out there.”

“What if you go away? Will I have to wonder around with them?”

“I won’t go away. I’ll always be here for you Eve.”

“Lucky me being picked up by a Vampire.”

Val smiled. “Lucky you.”

 

 

A Ghost Story

I’d like to take a break from my stories (true and untrue) and share a ghost story from my friend Rick Turton.  I met Rick online a few years ago when he joined a FB writing group I admin. I was impressed immediately by his sense of humor. He is also the father of my daughter’s fourth grade teacher Nate (one of the best teachers in the world.) Rick is also the author of the moving poem The Eagle Cried.

Thank you Rick for allowing me to share this one too.

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VM_ reaching out

 

A Real Ghost Story from Rick Turton

Like most stories, the beginning is not really the beginning. MY story’s beginning started in 1958 when we first moved into this enormous house. My family moved to the small ocean front town of Manhattan Beach, CA in 1953 from Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley, where my parents grew up.

The house itself was pretty spectacular; a white “Colonial” with three stories, five bedrooms, five bathrooms, three fireplaces and a built-in BBQ in the Game Room downstairs. Also in the Game Room was a full wet bar, an ancient upright piano and eventually a pool table. Surrounded by decks, verandas and patios; eucalyptus, beech and cypress trees abounded. She was the “Grand Dame” of Manhattan Beach, allegedly being the second permanent structure built in the city. The house itself was built out of the rubble of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake and originally had 10 acres of land surrounding it, including horse stables at the bottom of the hill. History says at one point there were 1 million bricks on the property!

My Mom fancied herself an interior decorator of sorts and to her credit did wondrous things to the inside of the house. Painting like a mad-woman day and night; my Dad would come home from work and grab a sandwich in one hand and a paint roller in the other to help out! But, growing up, there was always one bedroom in the house that seemed cold to me. The room was on the south-east upstairs corner of the house and always had plenty of light and sunshine, but…it always felt cold. My mom had decorated it in bright yellows and whites with starkly contrasting black accents, a very happy looking room…but it always felt cold.

As I was growing up, I occasionally heard my Mom & Dad talking of The Book that was written using the house as the setting. Because there were “graphic” details, I was not allowed to read The Book. (Remember, this was in the late 50’s and early 60’s.) There was even a movie made about The Book, starring Robert Wagner and Elizabeth Taylor!

Life was good in Manhattan Beach in the 60’s; people were laid-back, relaxed, and friendly. I enjoyed my schooling (as much as any kid could enjoy school!) I grew up there, had great parties through Jr. High School and high school, played a little basketball and then on to college. After college, Uncle Sam requested my presence for a little soirée he was hosting in Southeast Asia. I came home from the War, got married and we even had our wedding reception in the living room of the house.
After a tour in Germany and my eventual discharge from the Army, my Bride and I came back to live in the beach area. It was during this time that my parents decided to take a trip to Europe for several weeks and they asked us if we’d like to house sit for them. Of course, we jumped at the chance!

While we were staying there, I remembered The Book. I looked all through the library shelves and finally found the hiding spot. I pulled it out and sat down to read it. It was a fascinating “coming of age” book about life in Manhattan Beach in the early 30’s. The main character was a young man named Josh who had no real male figure in his life. His mother was a fading Hollywood star who had an alcohol problem and provided no real guidance. One of her (many) boyfriends, Ben, came into young Josh’s life and they connected. He became the “Big-Brother” figure in his life and they became fast friends. The Book itself eventually deals with the tragedy of Ben’s suicide.

I read The Book with great interest because I had grown up in the location and could see the scenes as they unfolded. The author took “literary license” in a couple of areas; the stair banister going to the game room had a wrought iron railing rather than a wooden one with a newel post at the bottom of the stairs for one (this plays an important part in The Book later on).

The life and times of Manhattan Beach in the 20’s and 30’s piqued my interest and the subject of The Book only fueled the flames of curiosity. I decided to do a little amateur detective work and find out more info for myself. This led me to the Public Library in Carson, CA because at that time, remember, Al Gore had yet to invent the Internet and there was no GOOGLE! The library had all of the newspapers in the area on microfiche and you could look up any past history in the actual pages of the newspapers on the microreader.

My research lasted a couple of days and I was actually able to locate the stories in the Daily Breeze, the local newspaper for the beach area. The first article dealt with a male who died of a gunshot wound. It appeared on the front page, below the fold on a Friday and had sketchy details at best, just the What, When, and Where. It mentioned that the Manhattan Beach Chief of Police and two of his officers (both rookies, on their first case) were called out to the grounds surrounding the house to investigate a dead body discovered by “someone”. That was pretty much it for the first article. The second article was buried in the back pages of the Monday edition. All it said that the police were still investigating the event but, at this point, they were still not ruling out “foul play”, however they had identified the body as that of Reid Richard Russell, a twenty-three year old used car salesman who had resided in the neighboring town of El Segundo. The third and final article appeared several days after that and stated that the police had ruled the death a “suicide by gunshot to the head.”

The body was found lying in a hammock suspended between two red eucalyptus trees and was holding a .32 caliber pistol in his right hand. It was discovered by a 12-year old boy who lived on the premises with his mother, actress, Lila Lee. As far as the police were concerned, that was it, end of story. I could find no more articles in the archives of the library.

But that only made me more curious. My parents knew a lot of people in Manhattan Beach, and among them was the current Chief of Police. He was one of the two rookies who were assigned to the case. I unashamedly dropped my parents’ name to get to the Chief on the phone. I explained who I was and what I was doing. When I asked him about the case, he suddenly got very agitated and defensive, “Well…all those records are upstairs in a box and they haven’t been looked at in years…besides that case is closed, we ruled it a suicide! I’m sorry, I can’t help you!” Then he suddenly remembered an appointment he had conveniently forgotten and hung up in my ear.
Wow, talk about getting blown off!

Now I really need to delve further into this! From my notes, I looked up the name of the other officer involved in the case and set out to track him down. As it turned out, he has just retired from the California Highway Patrol. Several phone calls later I was able to speak directly to him. I again explained who I was and what I was doing and, after assuring him that I was NOT a reporter in any way, he was very happy to take my call. We had a great conversation! He recalled vividly the case because it was his very first one. He always felt that it really didn’t turn out the way it should have. If it was in fact murder, it would have been the very first murder in Manhattan Beach. Since Manhattan Beach was a tourist destination town at that time and relied heavily on tourist dollars, the effect would have been devastating and crippled the economy. The first curiosity was that there was no suicide note found. The second oddity (and perhaps most damning argument) was the pistol was a .32 automatic and no shell casing was ever found at the scene. He was very candid with me and felt that not finding a suicide note and ESPECIALLY not finding a shell casing had always bothered him. He said that in his mind, this was a murder; but since there were mammoth political pressures to call this a suicide, and he was ‘just a rookie, after all’, that’s what it became, a suicide. By calling this a suicide, the town’s economy would remain unharmed.

As the week rolled along, I had a conversation with my friend, Dan. Dan was very into Hollywood. When I mentioned that there a movie actress involved, he suggested that we call the William Morris Agency, the huge talent agency in Hollywood. Perhaps they would have some information on Lila Lee. We agreed that Dan should do most of the talking (because he’d know the questions to ask and that’s one thing he does real well, talk!) and that I’d listen in on the upstairs extension. (Remember, this is in the early 70’s and phones were still hard-wired to the wall!) After getting through the main switchboard operator the phone conversation went something like this:

Wm Morris: Good morning, William Morris Agency, how can I help you?
Dan: Good morning, I’m trying to do a little research in an actress from the 20’s and 30’s named Lila Lee. Did your agency represent her? (Keep in mind this is all the information Dan has provided)
WM: One moment, let me look her up for you…
WM: I’m sorry; our records indicate that she was not represented by our agency. (Pause) But…you did say Lila Lee, right?
Dan: That’s right, why do you ask?
WM: Are you calling from a big, white house? In Manhattan?
Dan: (Warily) Yes, how did you know?
WM: Well…I probably shouldn’t say anything, but last week, my OUIJA group talked to her. She died in a car crash, in front of a restaurant called “The White House”, in Manhattan, NY.

By this time, things had transcended rapidly into the bizarre. Both of us were so blown away by her announcement we could think of nothing else to ask her. We thanked her and quickly hung up. I came downstairs and we just sat there, looking at each other, not sure what to make of anything that just happened! “Well…”, he said, “Umm…THAT was weird!” I quickly agreed and we both just kinda’ chuckled a little; you know? That uneasy laugh you have like when you’ve just ‘seen a ghost’? That, whistling in the graveyard kind of stuff! After that, there didn’t seem much more to say so we filed it away in our minds under “Just Weird”.

Later, that same week, I was sharing with my wife some of what I had learned. Then I remembered that we had a OUIJA board around somewhere. I finally found it in the front closet that doubled as game storage. We turned out the lights, lit several candles and, armed with a couple of glasses of wine, sat down to play on the OUIJA board. We sat in front of each other, knees touching (my favorite part!) with the board between us on our laps. We asked the board several trivial questions and got favorable responses. About that time, two of my wife’s friends drove up and we invited them in. I explained to them about my quest to find the mystery of the house and a little of what I’d learned, including the phone conversation with the William Morris Agency. We all laughed about that and went back to the living room. We offered wine to our friends sat down. Our friends spied the OUIJA board and we returned to using it. We asked several questions with our fingers poised lightly on the pointer. The pointer slowly moved towards the answers, and the answers were correct each time. Now, there are those who would scoff and say it was the person’s own sub-conscious mind actually making the pointer move. With that in mind, we asked our friends to sit down and I would tell them the questions to ask.

The questions I was instructing our friends to ask were very minuscule details of the current research I’d just completed. These were questions that I had not discussed, even with my wife and we hadn’t seen our friends until that evening! And the board kept providing the RIGHT answers! EVERY. SINGLE. TIME! Now, I will admit, we were getting caught up in the moment, but I asked our friends to ask the board, “Was it a suicide?” The pointer slowly circled and slid off the board, indicating an unwillingness to answer. “Was it a murder?”, and again, the pointer circled, then slid off the board. “Was it a crime of passion?” The pointer started towards the corner where the “Yes” was located, but then purposely slid off the board. Then it dawned on me that we had no idea to whom we were speaking. Since our OUIJA friend from the William Morris Agency and sent us down this path, I asked them to ask if we were speaking to Lila Lee. The pointer slowly but emphatically slid to “No”. Then I had them ask, “Who are we speaking to?” The pointer slid to R…R…R! Reid Richard Russell. The twenty three year old victim! Again, we asked if it was suicide and yet again, the pointer slid off the board. We then asked if it was murder and as before, the pointer slid off the board.

Now, as I was standing there, watching in amazement as the board was sharing its information, I felt a hand on my right shoulder, an icy cold hand resting lightly but decisively on my shoulder. I turned and, of course, no one was there. I startled and they asked what was wrong? I said that I’d tell them in a minute! But first, the OUIJA board goes away, the candles are blown out and ALL the lights in the house are turned on! After that was done and only after that, did I tell them about the hand.
There were just way too many coincidences to be ignored…

Reid Richard Russell

Richard Russell Turton

Used Car Salesman

Destined to spend the better part of my adult life in automotive parts sales on used cars

His middle name My first name

His last name My middle name

That REALLY cold bedroom in the corner of the house, I mentioned earlier? Further research unearthed that room was Reid Richard Russell’s bedroom…

I have no idea about how you feel about the “Other Side”, but me, I knocked on that door and it opened! That cold, cold hand was inviting me in…

I have not touched another OUIJA board since that night, and if anyone else brought one into the room, I would leave…

I ain’t gonna knock on THAT door again!

Authors Note:
• The Book? “There Must Be A Pony” by James Kirkwood Jr. He later co-wrote “A Chorus Line” and several other books, including “P.S. Your Cat is Dead”. He won a Tony and Pulitzer Prize for his works.
• The works of James Kirkwood Jr. have been associated with at least one other coincidental death in the acting industry:
o Sal Mineo – Stabbed to death in West Hollywood while acting in the play, “P.S. Your Cat is Dead”
• Several years later, I discovered that Lila Lee died in 1973, of a stroke in Saranac Lake, New York. (But what a door THAT opened!)

Richard Turton
August 26, 2014

Short Story Sunday: A Mysterious Stranger on a Hot Dry Day

Standing on the hill among the wind swept oaks blanked with mist from the lake she imagined herself in a billowing skirt, hair blowing in the wind, romance in the air. She was in a Gothic novel. She was transported to another time, another place, another life…

“Rex,” she called out to the old dog of unknown breed. The large black dog continued to sniff the dry grass. “God damn it Rex. You’re going to get fox tails up your nose.”

Leash in her hand she made her way down to the dog. The billowing skirts and romance was gone  as the middle aged woman in crop pants and a baggy tee shirt grabbed her dog by the collar and gently nudged him out of the weeds.

She pulled her should length hair back with an elastic tie to keep the sweat off of her neck. What a beautiful day for a walk despite the heat.

Woman and dog made their way up the hill. They stopped above the lake and watched down on the rowing teams below.

A sudden cold breeze felt so good. Cold turned to ice and she turned around to see him standing there.

“Kristen, dear lady.”

The man wore clothes of the 1850’s. His hat was in his hand, his hair ruffled by the breeze. A smile was on his handsome and distinguished face.

Rex perked up and wagged his tail.

“Uh, hi. Do I know you?” Kristen felt the chill again and thought of running, but knew she’d slip on the steep rocky trail.

The man smiled. “Not yet. Or at least not in flesh and blood.”

“Who are you? What are you doing here?”

“We will meet again soon. Until then…” and he kissed her.

“Wait. Are you a ghost?”

“Look at the boats,” he said.

She turned to look at the lake and the air turned hot again. He’d vanished.

Leaning against a tree she caught her breath. Glancing at her own hand on the rough bark she  noticed the chipped pink fingernail polish and blue veins. The sun caught her wedding ring making the gold sparkle and shine bright.

“If I lived back in his time I’d probably be dead by now,” she told Rex. “So would you.”

As she walked home her heart pounded, almost in a panic. Then excitement. Was he a ghost? Was he in a time warp of some kind? Was he real? Would he come back?

She didn’t know and maybe never would. Then again, maybe he would.

 

Tangled Tales

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Sunsets and Ginger Ale

I’m delighted and honored today to feature a story from my friend and fellow WPaD author Jade M. Phillips. Enjoy! 

 

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Sunsets and Ginger Ale

“What do you miss most about life, June?”

I turned to look at Harold, his face an exact replica of how I’d always remembered him: kind, loyal, trusting. I played with the hem of my dress in thought.

“I’m not sure. That was so long ago. I hardly remember what it was like to be alive. But I guess I’d have to say the sunsets.”

Harold nodded.

“I remember sitting on the veranda and watching the sun sink below the mountains. How the clouds would turn into soft vermillion and rose-petal pink and the air would become still. I miss the calm and the purity of that moment. I guess I’d have to say sunsets is what I miss most about life.”

I turned again to my husband. He was perched on his favorite stuffed chair in our living room staring out into the darkness. His wrinkled hand laid lax on the arm rest.

“Why is it that we cannot see the sun anymore Harold? Like we only exist in perpetual darkness? It is as if we just cease to exist during the daylight hours. I find myself sitting in this same spot as though I’d always been here. But I know that cannot be. I know that day turns to night and night to day. Why do you think that is Harold?”

“I don’t know June. Probably because we are dead.”

“Mmm,” I mused.

I tried my hardest to think of how it used to be. I knew that there was more than the omnipresent blackness. I knew that we used to have a life, children, and friends. I knew that I used to cook and clean and do other common household duties. But the harder I strained to recall those details, the harder it was to remember. I sighed and looked to my love. “You?”

“What?” Harold asked.

“What do you miss about life?”

“Ginger ale,” he answered without hesitation.

I snorted. “Ginger ale?”

“Yes,” he replied. “I miss the first sip of a cold Ginger ale over ice. The way the bubbles would tingle my tongue and the fizz would make my eyes water.”

“Yes. That was lovely,” I agreed. “I miss that too.”

“Harold?”

“Yes, my love.”

“Would you mind turning on the light? I get so sick of the darkness sometimes.”

Harold weighed my request and stretched his neck. “You know I cannot always do it. But I can try.”

“Please?” I asked.

“Of course.”

I watched Harold’s face. I could tell he was concentrating very hard, his eyes burning straight into the brass lamp that sat on the side table. The light flickered but did not fully turn on. Harold dropped his head.

“I’m too tired tonight honey,” he said as he glanced my way. I knew he could see the disappointment in my face.

“Why don’t you give it a try, June?”

I flinched. Wow. I’d never thought of that. I just always assumed that I could not turn it on. I wondered why that was.

“Okay,” I agreed. “But… how?”

Harold crossed one leg over the other and adjusted himself in the seat next to mine. “I suppose it has something to do with energy,” he replied. “Just try to direct yourself into the light. Focus all of your thoughts, memories, everything straight into the lamp. That’s what I do.”

“Oh. Okay.”

I leaned forward a bit and locked my eyes on the lamp. I took everything that was in my mind and imagined all of my thoughts, dreams and memories combining into a white ball. It took all I had to keep them there together. I strained to focus, my body tense. Once I felt confident enough I gave one, hard, mental shove and sent that ball to the lamp. To my wonderment the light flickered on and stayed that way.

“Righto!” Harold exclaimed. “Great job! See. I knew you could do it my June bug.”

I giggled with excitement and gazed around the room, enjoying my accomplishment.

“Harold?” I asked, my nose wrinkled in confusion.

“Yes, my love.”

“Where did my mother’s chaise lounge go? I don’t see it anywhere.”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“And that piano? It has moved places. It used to be against that wall over there.” I pointed across the room.

I could feel myself getting upset. I loved that chaise longue. My mother would turn in her grave if she knew it had gone missing. And the piano. It looked much better where it had originally been.

“Probably the living,” Harold guessed.

I leaned back in my chair and rested my head against the back. “I suppose.”

“Honey!”

Harold and I froze at the deep male voice that echoed down the hall.

“That darned lamp has turned itself on again.”

A tall man entered the room in a long grey robe. Harold and I exchanged glances as the man leaned over and clicked off the light.

“We’ve got to get rid of that thing,” he mumbled as he exited the room, leaving us in pitch black again.

Harold leaned over his chair and grabbed my hand, sensing my sadness.

“It’s okay. You can try again tomorrow night.”

“I suppose,” I sighed. “I suppose.”

***

“What do you miss most about living, June?”

Harold was sitting in his same favorite chair that he always sat. His eyes wide in thought.

“Gosh, I’m not sure, Harold. That was so long ago, I hardly remember a thing. But I guess I’d have to say sunsets. I miss the way the sky would turn to different shades of orange and golden yellow. The way the pastel clouds would dust the tops of the mountains. That’s what I miss most.”

Harold humphed in agreement.

“Harold, why is it that we cannot see those sunsets anymore? Why have we been in darkness for so long?”

“Probably because we are dead my June bug.”

“Yes,” I nodded. “I guess that would be it.”

I tried to recall anything other than the darkness and Harold and sunsets, but it was like a long forgotten memory that I could not grasp. I sighed and let it go.

“What do you miss most about being alive, Harold?”

“Ginger ale,” he replied.

“Ginger ale?”

“Yes. I miss how the bubbles burn my tongue with the first sip and the fizz that goes down my throat. Delicious.”

“Yes. Ginger ale was nice,” I agreed.

“Harold?”

“Yes?”

“Could you open the window? It gets so stuffy in here sometimes.”

Harold adjusted himself in his seat and uncrossed his legs. “I can try. But you know it does not always work.”

“Thank you, darling.”

I watched Harold concentrate his eyes across the room to the window. His face was strained and focused. The wooden window panes creaked but it did not budge. Harold collapsed against the back of his chair. “I’m sorry June. I’m too tired tonight. Why don’t you give it a try?”

“Really?” I looked at Harold in surprise. I’d never thought of doing it myself. I guess I’d always just assumed that I wouldn’t be able to. “But… how?” I queried.

Harold shrugged. “I just focus myself, everything that is in my mind and soul and I direct it at the window.”

“Okay…” I wriggled my toes and leaned forward, directing my eyes to the window. I pulled every thought and memory from my mind, all of my emotions and dreams and pushed them together. I mentally shoved them towards the window, hard. To my astonishment, the panes creaked and the glass slid open just a few inches.

“Good one, June! I knew you could do it!” Harold smiled.

I leaned back, pleased, and watched the curtains ruffle in the breeze coming through the now opened window.

I sighed. “That’s better.”

“Yes,” Harold agreed. “Very nice.”

“Honey?”

Harold and I froze at the male voice that rang down the hall. “Did you open the window?”

“No!” A female voice replied from what sounded to be upstairs.

A tall man in a robe trudged through the room and closed the window. “If I wasn’t mistaken, I’d think we weren’t alone in this house,” he muttered and then left the room in haste.

I huffed my annoyance, but Harold reached over and squeezed my hand.

“It’s okay, my love,” he soothed. “We’ll try again tomorrow night.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “We will.”

***

“Harold?”

“Yes, darling.”

“What do you miss most about life?” I asked my lovely husband.

“Ginger ale,” he replied without missing a beat.

“Ginger ale?” I asked.

Harold was staring out into space, a concerned look upon his face.

“What is it Harold? Are you alright?”

“Yes, my love. It’s just… I heard the living talking the other night.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. They want us to leave.”

“Now why would they want to do that?” I scoffed. “This is our house!”

“Probably because we are dead.”

“Oh yes. I must’ve forgotten.”

“They said they will be sending in a priest.”

“A priest?”

“To exorcise us.”

“Now what in the world does that mean?”

“From my understanding it means that the priest will set us free.”

“Oh,” I mused. “But where will we go Harold? This is our home. The only place I’ve ever known.”

Harold sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know, June. I don’t know.”

“What will they do with all of our things? Our furniture?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Don’t you think we should’ve been acknowledged in this decision? They can’t just kick us out. Why wouldn’t they ask us first?”

“Probably because we are dead,” Harold replied dryly.

“Yes. I suppose.”

“When do you think it will happen?”

Harold shrugged again.

Just then the tall man entered the room and Harold and I froze. But he was not wearing his grey robe as usual. He was dressed in a sweater and slacks. A man in a black robe followed closely behind him.

“The priest,” I whispered in horror. Harold nodded.

“This is the room,” the tall man said, gesturing around to all four walls.

“Yes, I can sense it,” the priest said. “Now if you and the misses will please leave me with the house, I will make sure everything is right before the time you get back.”

“Thank you.” The tall man left.

“Harold, what is going on?”

“I believe this would be our exorcism,” Harold said.

The priest opened a fat book that he had been holding in his hand. The bible, I assumed.

He withdrew a folded piece of paper, cleared his throat, and began speaking.

“In the name of Jesus Christ by His blood, I declare His dominion over all base entities. I humbly request that you appoint sacred angels to keep me from any tactics of the adversary created to oppose this petition for release.”

At the priest’s words, I began to feel numb, my transparent body tingling and buzzing.

“Harold,” I rasped. “I don’t like this.”

I watched the holy man pace the floor. He now held a small vial and sprinkled the wet contents about the room.

I looked to my love for reassurance. The place where my heart would’ve been thumped wildly with panic. “Harold. Where will we go? Will we be together always? I don’t know what I would do without you.”

But Harold could not reply before the priest began again.

“I ask you to order all those demons and diabolical angels appointed in opposition to me to vacate the premise.”

“But Harold. We are not demons, nor diabolical.”

Harold locked eyes with mine.

“No June. No we are not.”

I studied my husband’s kind face. He looked tired. So very tired. But he smiled at me reassuringly. Just like Harold. He was always calm and soothing in the face of the unknown.

I gasped as the priest raised his voice to a higher pitch, his words ringing out through the room loudly. “Dear God, I request that you erect a prohibition to all loitering spirits to end their duties and be banished.”

I looked down at my hand on the arm rest of my chair. And where it used to be pure white, I could see the quilting of the chair through it. I was fading. And Harold was fading.

“Harold. I cannot lose you,” I moaned, feeling my words drawl more slowly than usual from my mouth.

The priest was preaching and flinging his hands up in the air excitedly. It made me all the more nervous.

“Harold. Hold my hand. Please. I’m scared.”

Harold reached over and grasped my hand in his cold one. It was not like holding hands with the living, but more of a dim sensation, an unseen connection between the two of us. We sat there, holding each other, watching the priest pace and shout as though being at a movie theatre unable to control the actors on the film. I whimpered helplessly.

“I’m here, my love,” Harold cooed. “It’s going to be alright.”

My mind became foggy and I could hardly remember my own name as the priest continued his ritual.

“Jesus Christ, I beg you to banish them where they cannot vex me. I submit to all of the plans you have in this spiritual warfare I am surrounded by.”

“Harold!” I cried out. I could feel my husband fading from my side, my heart breaking to pieces and floating away with him. If I had been alive enough to form tears, they would’ve been pouring down my face.

Harold’s voice echoed out from far away. It was as if he was at the end of a long dark tunnel. “It’s alright June bug. I love you. Always.”

“Through Jesus Christ I pray, who was crucified for us so that we may have an opportunity to live. Amen.”

Darkness again. Always darkness.

I closed my eyes and was blinded by the bright lights behind my lids. My body felt soft and light and calm. Nonexistent. I was floating. I drifted into the pastel clouds dusting the mountain. I became golden yellow and rose-petal pink. I became vermillion. I became the sunset.

And I supposed, just for a moment, that Harold was out there somewhere sipping happily at his cold, fizzy Ginger ale, the bubbles tickling his tongue.

 

___________________________

For more of Jade’s work visit her blog at jademphillips.com

Jade is the author of the wonderful Mer series. Check it out (CLICK HERE.)

 

q9er

 ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Feeling Like a Blue Moon on a Red Moon Night

I walked through the massive building feeling like I was in a cattle yard or an insane house of horrors or just lost.

The years have taken me through market places all over the world. Places of odd smells and sounds with weird paths and turns that have had me lost for hours.

Yesterday I was in a fog under ceilings with strange gray light, thick air, narrow isles and too much for me to take in or want to take in.

I was bringing flowers to a friend in the hospital. I needed a vase. I stopped at a HUGE Wal-Mart by the hospital. It was two stories and it was nuts. I never get hot. In fact I tend to be cool and level-headed at all times, but with the temperature almost 100 degrees F outside and me… well, me being a creature who naturally shuns the bright lights, I started to feel flushed in my own weird way and not quite in a panic, but I thought of a panic and how easy it would be to get lost in this place for hours on end. It had to be one of the most unpleasant places I have ever been.

I stood looking for a vase in obviously the wrong section of the store and suddenly realized that nobody there was like me.  That isn’t all that unusual. It just was. It didn’t matter. I just needed  pretty vase that would hold tall red, purple and yellow flowers that would brighten up a light mint green hospital room.

A woman offered to help me at checkout isle 8. She said the other checker near by was too slow. She could help 5 people in the time the other could help 1. She was friendly as I commented that the store   near my house was a fraction of the size. The huge store near my house seemed charming and quaint compared to his huge whale belly of a store that had swallowed me up.

Outside the temperature was near 100. Hot for October, even for here. Even in the evening when it should have been cooling off it was hot like the desert. I thought about rest stops in the middle of the Mojave Desert between Barstow and Las Vegas. It was that hot.

Once at the hospital the hallways were cool and the light low. Nobody made eye contact. Nobody looked around. Down the hall towards the emergency room I could see a few ghosts lingering around. They needed to move on. They needed to leave this place. There is nothing here for them. I could feel the cold air off of the ghosts coming down the hall for me. They knew I could see them and knew what they were. It creeped me out and at the same time broke my heart into a million shards of something awful.

I was glad to be alone in the elevator with the vase of pink roses and maiden hair ferns. My bag felt heavy on my shoulder.

I hate hospitals. Yes, there is a certain segment of the Vampire population consisting of ghoulish individuals who enjoy hospitals and places full of sick and injured people on the brink of death. I find it nauseating, like the smell of rotten food. Who wants to eat rotten food?

My friend was in her room, a book on her lap, her eyes closed. She’d been in an accident and had come here to have metal rods put in her bones and skin sewed back on  and glass taken out of her shoulder and arm. I couldn’t believe how cheerful she was in such a place. She couldn’t see the ghosts or smell the smells that made me almost sick. But this wasn’t about me.

I was there for a little over an hour. We talked about everything under the sun and moon and stars. My friend would be home by next week with her family, pets and friends. I marveled at her attitude.

On the way out a ghost stood in the elevator with me. He wore an expensive suit and not a hair was out-of-place, but only half of his handsome face was still on his head and he was missing an arm.

“You ought to go,” I said. “There is nothing here for you.”

“You can see me?” He looked truly surprised with his half of a face.

“Of course I can see you. Please, you don’t want to be a ghost unless you’re going to do it all the way. Even then, you don’t want to be a ghost. Your loved ones have moved on and grieved for you. They will never stop loving you. They will never forget you. But you can’t be part of their lives. You have something else waiting for you. You need to go.”

“How do you know.”

“I’m kind of dead myself, well, undead. Anyway, I just know. I can feel it. Trust me.”

Now I wish I could say I saw a bright light and he waved me good bye and his body was whole again, but it didn’t happen that way. The elevator stopped and he vanished. I didn’t feel his presence anymore. I could only hope he’d moved on.

I’m sure I’ll eventually go online or ask around about him. Maybe not. It just depends on how depressed I really want to get.

In the car home I sang along to Runaway Train. I ran through the stations looking for songs I knew then turned it off and sang Runaway Train again on my own.

At home I half expected to have a ghost waiting for me. The Ghost. Nigel, the ghost who lives near my house but he wasn’t there. I wondered if he’d ever been like the ghosts who seem so lost and hopeless. Nigel is more alive than most live folks I know. But he is one of those ghosts who is in it for the long haul.

I know enough about the world of ghosts to know that it isn’t Lincoln’s ghosts haunting the White House. I know the miners from the Gold Rush sit on the bluffs over the river when the moon is full (like tonight) and wonder if they’ll ever see the elephant. I know that if you speak to a ghost and give it permission to move on that it will move on – at least half of the time. For you see, most ghosts shouldn’t be here. They just got confused and took a wrong turn. They don’t know what to do. Nobody met them at the gate so to speak.

I poured a glass of wine and picked up my Nook. I knew that later I’d watch the lunar eclipse. I did and it was lovely and sort of playful in the way that lunar eclipses can be.

So I don’t know. Just thinking out loud and feeling like singing sort of sad songs. And wondering about ghosts and music and missing my child who has gone off to college.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Just a disjointed day. Sort of like a blue moon on a red moon night.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

vm

 

 

“Runaway Train”

Call you up in the middle of the night
like a firefly without a light
you were there like a blowtorch burning
i was a key that could use a little turning
so tired that i couldn’t even sleep
so many secrets i couldn’t keep
promised myself i wouldn’t weep
one more promise i couldn’t keep

it seems no one can help me now
i’m in too deep
there’s no way out
this time i have really lead myself astray

runaway train, never goin’ back
wrong way on a one-way track
seems like i should be getting somewhere
somehow i’m neither here nor there

can you help me remember how to smile?
make it somehow all seem worthwhile
how on earth did i get so jaded?
life’s mysteries seem so faded
i can go where noone else can go
i know what no one else knows
here i am just drownin’ in the rain
with a ticket for a runaway train

and everything seems cut and dry
day and night
earth and sky
somehow i just don’t believe it

runaway train, never goin’ back
wrong way on a one-way track
seems like i should be getting somewhere
somehow i’m neither here nor there

bought a ticket for a runaway train
like a madman laughing at the rain
little out of touch, little insane
it’s just easier than dealing with the pain

runaway train, never goin’ back
wrong way on a one-way track
seems like i should be getting somewhere
somehow i’m neither here nor there

runaway train, never comin’ back
runaway train, tearin’ up the track
runaway train, burnin’ in my veins
i run away but it always seems the same

 

by David Pirner (Soul Asylum)