Last Call by R James Turley

Today I’m honored to share a story from my friend, and one of my favorite WordPress bloggers R James Turley.

 

Last Call

by R James Turley 

 

When Suzy Night was introduced on stage, Ron’s mouth dropped open.  She had a walk made for a run-way, and a body that just wouldn’t quit.  Ron knew Kathy was going to hire a new singer, but didn’t know who.  He did now.  Those legs, that long dark hair stretched down her back.  Ron stared at her, wondering what it’d be like to kiss those lushes lips.

“What do you think of our new singer?”  Kathy sat down beside him at the table, two rows from the stage.

“She’s gorgeous,” he poured wine in both of their glasses.  “Where did you find her?”

“She came in on open MIC night, and just started singing,” Kathy lifted her glass toward the stage.

Why couldn’t Ron be here that night?  Then he would’ve met her.  Maybe it’s a good thing he wasn’t.  He might have just made a fool out of himself trying to impress her.

Suzy’s voice was as stunning as she was; soft and smoky.  It carried throughout the room in perfect pitch.  Ron just had to get to know her.  He almost couldn’t stand not being able to touch her now.

He poured another glass of wine for Kathy, “Is she from around here?  How old is she?  Does she have a boyfriend?”

“Easy there, lover boy.  I got the impression she’s seeing somebody,” Kathy sipped her wine.  “Besides, she’s half your age.”

Ron didn’t care at the moment.  He was enjoying fantasizing about him and Suzy.  He wished he could rise up out of that wheelchair, and go on stage to sing with her.  What he wouldn’t give for that.

“You are going to introduce me, aren’t you?”  Ron looked at Kathy with a cryptic smile.

“After she’s done, but get rid of your google eyes.”

“Yes mother,” he laughed.

“Funny,” she said, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.  “You should write comedy.”

In a lot of ways, Ron did think of her as a mother figure.  Kathy was always there for him when he needed her.  She’d helped his mother take care of him when Ron’s father was out of town on business.  And, she helped him get through that rough time when Ron’s parents died three months apart.  Kathy meant a lot to Ron, and he didn’t know what he would do without her.

The scattered Sunday night crowed stood up and applauded after Suzy finished her two songs.  Ron leaned over to tell Kathy something, but she was already headed toward the backstage door.

“She’ll be out in a minute,” Kathy said, sitting back down at the table.  “You want some scotch”

“Please,” Ron nodded.  “Neat.”

“Ah, what is it with you and no ice?”  Kathy waved over the waitress.

“I don’t know,” Ron shrugged his shoulders.  “Never that fond of ice, I guess, plus it waters it down.”

“Hi Kath, how you doing?”  The chipper waitress asked.

“Irene, did you meet Ron?”  She cocked her head toward him.

“Not yet,” she stuck her hand out to shake.  “How you doin?

Taking her hand, “Nice to meet you.”

“Can I have some Ice-water, and Ron would like some Scotch without ice.”

“Scotch neat,” Irene said.  “That’s the way my pappy used to drink it.”

Ron noticed the backstage door open.  Suzy was walking toward the table.  She was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, with her hair pulled up in two pig tails. If Ron was standing, he would have fallen over her beauty.  She stopped at the table next to his, and hugged the guy sitting there.  Ron felt a spark of jealousy,  then he felt guilty for it.  Why should he be jealous?  He didn’t even know her.

Suzy walked over to the table, with her friend right behind her.  “Hi miss Oden,” she kissed Kathy on the cheek.  “How’d I do?”

“I told you Suzy, call me Kathy,” she got up and hugged Suzy.  “You were fabulous.  Suzy, this is Ron, he’s my business partner.”

“Hi,” she smiled at Ron.  “This is…”

“Danny Alm,” Ron said in amazement.  “You were rookie of the year with Portland.”

“I guess you do know who he is,” Suzy giggled.

Ron shook Danny’s hand, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“You a basketball fan?”  Danny asked, looking at the wheelchair.

“A huge one.”  Ron tapped his hand on the arm of his wheelchair, “Play too.”

“Sit down,” Kathy said, pulling out a chair.

As the crowd got smaller, and it got closer to closing time, the four of them just sat and talked, and got more acquainted with one another.  Ron was even more impressed with Suzy, how intelligent and well-spoken she was.

At three-AM Suzy finally said, “We have to go.  I have to take Danny to the airport.”

“You’re flying now?”  Kathy asked, in a voice two octaves higher than she normally sounds.

“I’ve got to be back in Portland tomorrow night.  We had today off, so I just came in to see Suzy,” Danny said, getting out of the chair.  “It was nice meeting you guys,” he through a twenty-dollar bill on the table.

“I’ll see you on TV,” Ron said with a chuckle.

Ron waited for Kathy while she helped Irene clean up, and then walked her to her car. He watched her drive off, wheeled around the corner to his two-story apartment building where he lived on the first floor.

Ron didn’t do much of anything, and tried to conserve his energy, on game days. Even though he was reduced to playing about twelve minutes a game, he wanted to be able to leave it all on the court when called on.  The players respected, and looked up to Ron for what he has done for wheelchair basketball. Both on the court and off, Ron has been an ambassador for the game.  He traveled across the country with the U.S.A. Paralympic team showing off his skills, and talking about the game.

Normally Ron’s focus would be totally on the up-coming game, but he couldn’t keep Suzy from his thoughts.  He turned on the news channel to get his mind off Suzy.

A gentle knock at the door caught his attention.  He wheeled over and looked out the peep hole.  He had to look a second time to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. He opened the door to see Suzy, and all her loveliness, standing there.

“I hope you don’t mind.  Kathy told me where you lived.”

“Not at all,” he said in delight, trying to control his emotions.  “Come on in,” inside, Ron was jumping for joy.  “Would you like something to drink?”

“Soda, if you have it,” she smiled.

Ron nodded, offered Suzy a seat and wheeled into the kitchen.  When he came back Suzy was in the recliner that was facing the TV in the living room, her tote bag on the floor beside her.  Ron couldn’t believe Suzy Night was in his apartment. He felt like a school kid.

Suzy watched him wheel toward her with a can of Coke and a glass in his lap, and a bottle of fruit juice nestled between his leg and the side of the chair.  He opened the can, and poured it in the glass for her.

“Thank you,” she said, accepting the glass.  She took a sip and said, “I have something for you.”

“You do,” his voice rose with surprise and excitement.  He opened the bottle of fruit juice, hoping he wasn’t blushing.

She pulled out a manila envelope from her bag, “Danny wanted you to have this.”

“He did?”  He opened the envelope, “Wow!” pulling out an autograph picture of Danny dunking a basketball.  “This is great.  Tell him thank you.”

“He was impressed when you said you played,” she poured the rest of the soda into the glass.  “How long have you played?”

“Since I was a kid, my mom got me into it.  I guess she wanted me to have something to do,” he chuckled and took a drink of juice. He realized that the anniversary of her death is quickly approaching.  Could it be sixteen years?  “I also got a chance to play with the US Paralympic team.”

“Really!” her eyes grew bigger as she gazed into his.  “You played in other countries?”

“A few,” he tossed his empty bottle into the recycle bin.

“How often do you play now?”

“A couple times a week.  I have a game tonight, actually,” he pointed to his game jersey hanging on the bedroom door knob.

Finishing her drink, “I’d like to come and watch sometime.”

He was glad to hear that.  “Come with Kathy sometime, she comes to a lot.”

Looking at her watch, “Thanks for the Coke,” she stood up, “but I got to go.  I have some running around to do before I meet my mother for her birthday.”

“Okay, let me get the door.”  Wheeling over and opening the door, “Thanks for the picture.  Hope you have fun with your mother.”

“Thanks, I will.”  She gave him a friendly hug.  “Good luck tonight.”

He looked into her brown eyes, “I’ll see you at the club,” and watched her walk away.

The team bus came to pick Ron up at five for their game in Tampa at eight.  Ron was one of the last ones to be picked up. His teammates were lost in thought or listening to music.  After Ron got his chair locked in, the coach looked back at him to tell Ron that he was starting tonight.

Ron hasn’t started a game since the last game of last season, and hadn’t been a full time starter for three years.  He had to fight to make the team this year.  He played the game smart, and the coach liked that.  Something must be wrong with Tim, the starting Point Guard.

Kathy and Suzy were in the stands when the team came out of the locker room.  Now Ron was nervous.  He didn’t expect to see Suzy at a game so soon.  Ron missed most of the practice shots he took before the game. He had to calm himself.

He drank some water, and took a deep breath before taking the court for the start of the game.  The tip-off came straight to him, and all his nervousness vanished.  He ran the first play flawlessly, and played like he had been starting all season.  It was Ron’s best game in almost four years with seven points, and twelve assists, in their nineteenth win of the season.

Ron took his gym bag to his room, switched chairs, and wheeled over to Last Call.  Kathy and Suzy were at the bar sharing a bottle of wine at the end of the bar when he came in.  He wheeled up to where the bar was low enough for his wheelchair.  Irene poured a scotch and set it in front of him.

“I heard about tonight, congratulations!”  She bumped her fist against his.  “You want something to eat?

“Just a salad, please,” he said, after sipping his drink.

Kathy picked up the bottle, and her and Suzy walked to the beat of the music toward Ron.  Kathy kissed him on the cheek, and Suzy, from behind him, put her arms around his shoulders. They sat down on either side of him. Ron didn’t know what he was more excited about, the game, or the fact the Suzy saw it.

“Great game Ron,” Kathy said, empting the wine bottle into her glass.  “Where’d that come from?”

Ron shrugged his shoulders, “Don’t know, must’ve been bottled up.”

Ron caught Suzy watching him eat.  He wanted to ask her out, but not in front of Kathy.  He didn’t want to hear her say that it was a bad idea.  Besides, it’s none of her business who he asked out.  She went to the office to check on the beer orders for tomorrow.  Now was his chance.

“Suzy,” he nervously said.  “Would you like to have dinner sometime?”  He took the last bite of his salad.

She grinned ear to ear, nodding her head, and said, “I’d love to.”

“I’m free tomorrow,” she said, looking into his eyes.

“Great! How about around seven?  I’ll cook,” he said, before finishing his drink.

“I’ll be there.”

Ron yelled into the office saying goodbye to Kathy, gave Suzy a hug and wheeled off. Excited about his date tomorrow, he couldn’t sleep.  He wondered what to serve.  Damn, I should’ve asked her.  He finally decided on Chicken Parmesan.   With that settled, he slowly drifted off to sleep.

Suzy arrived a little before seven dressed to kill.  Wearing a short royal blue cocktail dress hugging her body with spaghetti straps on the shoulder, and her hair was pulled up in the back with a white bow.  Ron’s jaw dropped open when he saw her.

“Come on in,” he said, waving her in.  “Make yourself at home.  You want some wine?”

“Yes,” she nodded, and smiled at him.  “Let me help you.”

He wasn’t going to say no, he followed her into the kitchen, enjoying the view.  She got the glasses from the cupboard while he opened the fridge.

“Is white alright?  That’s all I have.”

“Yes. Dinner smells good”

“Thanks. I hope you like chicken parmesan.”

“Yum, I love it,” she said, rubbing her belly.

The dinner started with a fresh garden salad, which Ron ate at least three times a week.  He might not be as fit as he once was, but he was in the habit of eating healthy.

After dinner, they shifted to the couch where the conversation was very nice. Ron talked mostly about his basketball career, and shared some pictures with Suzy.  They talked until almost midnight, and then Suzy got ready to leave.

“I had a nice time,” she said, staring into his eyes.  “I’m glad you asked me.”

Ron was happy to hear that.  “I had fun too,” he gazed back at her.

“Are you coming to the bar tomorrow night,” she opened the door.

“I’ll be over after my game.  We play at home tomorrow so it won’t be that late.”

She kissed him on his cheek, hugged him tightly, and walked out the door.  Ron watched her until she disappeared into to lobby of the building.  He was scolding himself for not taking a chance to kiss her the way he dreamed of doing since the first time he saw her.  It will happen in time, he thought.  I don’t want to push her away.

Ron got to Last Call in time to hear Suzy sing.  He had another good game after his second straight start.  Ron was starting to feel that Suzy was his good luck charm, and he was feeling like he used to on the basketball court.

Looking around the room that was half full, he noticed Kathy sitting with Danny Alm. Danny must have flown in to see Suzy. Ron wheeled over to the table.

“Hey Ron. How was the game?”  Kathy moved a chair out of the way.

“We won,” Ron said, proudly.  “I started again.”

“How’d you do?”  Kathy asked while waving over Irene.

“I had a few points, a couple assists.  I’m getting my game back,” Ron said, locking his chair into place.  He looked at Danny, “Thanks for the picture, I love it!  You fly in for the night?”

“Hi Ron,” Irene said.  “Some scotch?”

“Please,” he smiled at her.

“Coming right up,” Irene turned and headed toward the bar

“We play in Orlando tomorrow so I figured I’d drive down for a few hours,” Danny said, looking at Ron.

Ron saw Suzy come out the back stage door.  Right away he noticed something different, in her face, from last night. Danny stood up from the table, took Suzy in his arms, and kissed her passionately.  Ron felt sick, like someone punched him in the stomach.  He looked at Kathy, told her he’d be back, and wheeled toward the men’s room.

After he splashed some water on his face, he headed back toward the table.  Kathy was waiting for him at the bar.

“Are you alright?”  She handed his drink to him.  “I didn’t know you two had dinner last night.”

“Yes. We had a nice time.  I thought it could lead somewhere.”  Ron took a big gulp of his drink.  “What happened?”

“Danny happened.  They decided to be a couple again, I’m sorry.”

Kathy put her arms around his shoulders, kissed his forehead, and hugged him tightly. Ron asked Kathy to make up an excuse and he left, feeling rejected.  A jubilant night turned into a nightmare.

The next afternoon, still feeling depressed, Ron waited for Kathy to bring him lunch.  He was going to try to eat even though his appetite wasn’t there.  Kathy always knew what to say to make Ron feel better.  But there wasn’t a way to take the pain of a lonely heart away.

A knock at the door interrupted the constant image of Danny kissing Suzy.  He wheeled over and opened the door, not bothering to look through the peep hole.

“Can I come in?”  Suzy stood there with tears in her eyes.

“Sure,” he said, backing up to let her pass.

Even with bloodshot eyes and makeup trickling down her cheeks, she was the most beautiful woman Ron had ever seen.  He hated to see any woman cry, but he’d do anything to make Suzy stop. But, he also wanted answers.

“Why you here, Suzy?”  He mustered up the courage to ask.

“I had to,” she sobbed.

“Had to what?” rubbing his forehead.

“Say yes,” she took a deep breath, and held her left hand out.

Ron opened his eyes wide, “You’re getting married?”

She looked him in the eye, tears watering her cheeks, nose running, and nodded her head. “No one else knows,” she put her head down, staring at the floor, as if she were shameful.

“Suzy,” he said, coming from the kitchen with a can of Coke and a box of tissues. “Explain this to me.”

She blew her nose and took a sip of soda, “My mother said I had to or she would disown me,” Suzy whispered.

“I don’t get it Suz. Why would your mother say that?”

“I don’t know, but she always makes good on her threats.”  She looked at her watch, stood up, and said, “I have to go. We’re going to see Danny play tonight.”

He watched her walk out the door, and maybe, out of his life.  Over before it started.  Was she telling me everything?  He had a sneaky suspicion she wasn’t, but why?

A knock on the door startled him.  “It’s me,” Kathy said, letting herself in.  “I brought hoagies.”

“Set them on the table,” Ron said, sounding serious.

“What’s wrong?”  She looked at Ron with her eyes as big as saucers.

He couldn’t hide anything from her.  “Suzy was just here.”

“Why?”

“I’m not sure I got the whole story, but she told me her and Danny are getting married.”

Kathy looked up from the table with a shocked look on her face, “When did this happen?”

“I guess yesterday before she went to the bar,” he said, wheeling over to the table. “She said nobody knew, and that she had too.”

“Had too? Why?”

“Or her mother would disown her.  I don’t know?”  Ron cut his sandwich in half, “She didn’t seem real happy about it, crying the whole time she was here.”

Kathy swallowed the piece of hoagie, “Now that you mention it, Suzy did seem a little distracted last night.  And she kept rambling on about how happy she was.”

“Maybe she was trying to convince herself,” Ron wheeled into the kitchen for two bottled waters.  Coming out of the kitchen he added, “She went over to Orlando tonight to see Danny play.”

“I know,” Kathy took the water from his hand.  “Her and her mother are staying over, they’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.”

Ron didn’t feel like going to the bar that night, and stayed home, no matter how much Kathy tried to talk him into going.  Every time he would’ve looked on stage he’d be reminded that Suzy was in Orlando watching her future husband play basketball.  He couldn’t take the pain.  He spent the night reading a spy novel.  His new found hobby, temporary as it might be.

The next afternoon Ron got a phone call from Kathy asking him to come over to the bar to talk.  He figured it was going to be a business conversation.  Irene was already there setting up for that evening.  Kathy came out from the office and they sat at a table next to the bar.  Irene joined them.

“I think we may know why Suzy agreed to marry Danny,” Kathy said, looking at Ron. She looked at Irene and said, “Tell him what you told me.”

Irene stared into Ron’s eyes, “I heard them arguing a couple of days ago when he was here. They were outside the ladies room. It wasn’t busy yet, and I guess they thought no one would hear.  But I heard him say if she didn’t marry him, that he was going to hurt her mother.”

Ron felt a twinge of rage build up inside of him that if he stood up, he could walk. He looked at Kathy, “We have to talk to her mother.  See if she knows why they got engaged.”

Kathy’s gaze shifted between Ron and Irene.  “I think she’s coming to hear Suzy sing tonight.  I’ll make up an excuse to take to her in the office, see what I can find out.”

Ron went back to Last Call before it opened for the evening.  He wanted to be there when Kathy talked to Suzy’s mother, Grace.  He was at the bar talking with Irene when Suzy and Grace walked in.  Kathy quickly came out of the office to great them. Suzy went backstage right away, she was the first act that night.  Grace followed Kathy into the office.  Kathy put her hands in front of her so Ron could see them as to say stay there.

Ron made his way to an empty table closer to the stage.  Not close enough to where Suzy would be able to see him from the stage. Kathy and Grace joined him after about half-hour.

“This is my business partner, Ron,” Kathy said, as her and Grace sat down.

“So you’re Ron,” Grace shook his hand.  “Suzy went on and on about you the other day.”

Ron smiled at her, “It’s very nice to meet you.  Did you enjoy your birthday?”

“Thank you, yes.  We had a lovely lunch,” she gazed into his eyes.  “I hear you play basketball, and done some traveling.”

“He’s played all over Europe,” Kathy said, raising her eyebrows toward Ron.

“That’s wonderful,” Grace put her hand on top of his resting on the table.

“Did you have a good time at the game last night?”  He took a sip of Scotch.

She sat back in her chair, “I went more for Suzy.”  She folded her arms and added, “I don’t really care for that Danny. He may seem all nice and sweet, but he thinks he’s God’s gift to the world.”

Kathy sat up in her seat, “Why do you say that?”

“He thinks he’s entitled to everything.  He’s so sure he’s going to marry Suzy,” she leaned forward.  “She has told him they’re only friends so many times I lost count,” she waved her hand toward the floor and stood up. “Excuse me, where’s the ladies room?”

“Around the bar,” Kathy pointed towards the restrooms.  “You want a drink?”

“Screwdriver, please,” she said, before turning toward the restrooms.

Ron raised his eyebrows, “She doesn’t know.  What did you talk about in the office?”

“Nothing, just small talk,” she said, motioning at Irene to come over.  “Talked mostly about how Suzy always loved to sing.”

“If she doesn’t know then why the hell would Suzy say her mother would disown her?”  Ron angrily said, and gulped the rest of his Scotch.  “Should we tell her?”

“No,” Kathy shook her head.  “Let me talk to Suzy.  Find out what’s going on.”

Suzy came out of the back stage door and sat with Ron after the show.  She wasn’t her usual bubbly self after a performance. Ron had more drinks than he normally had, but was still in control.  Grace had been gone for over an hour, and Kathy was in the office doing paper work. Ron had enough Scotch in him to ask Suzy about her engagement.  He figured he better put some alcohol into her if he wanted some answers.

“Ron,” she said, on her third screwdriver loaded heavily with Vodka.  “Even though I haven’t know you long, I wish Danny was more like you.”

“How do you mean?”  He asked, resting his chin on his fist.

“Well,” she set her empty glass on the table.  “You’re so sweet, and don’t seem demanding like Danny is sometimes.”

“Demanding how?”  He set back and folded his arms.

“He just is.  He didn’t really ask me.  He just said let’s get married,” she took a deep breath.

Ron put his hand on top of hers and wrapped his fingers around hers.  “Why’d you agree?”

“Because,” she swallowed. “I didn’t want him to get my mother in trouble,” she said as clearly as she could.  “She has a little bit of a gambling problem.”

Ron noticed Kathy walking toward the table, “How’d Danny find out?”

Shrugging her shoulders, “I don’t know,” Suzy slurred.

“You don’t look like you can drive home,” Kathy rubbed Suzy’s back.  “Come on, I have an extra bed.”

“Okay,” Suzy nodded.  “I have to pee first.”

Kathy watched her walk out of sight, turned toward Ron, “What did you do?”

Ron put his arms out to the side, “What?  I got her to talk.”

“What’d she say?”

“That Danny threatened her mother,” he saw Suzy come around the corner and nodded toward her.  “I’ll fill you in later if she doesn’t.”

Lying in bed, that night, Ron got madder the more he thought about what Danny was doing. He was also relieved Suzy didn’t really want to marry him.  He needed to find out how Danny found out about Grace.  If possible, without Danny knowing.

The phone woke Ron just after noon.  He didn’t fall asleep until around six in the morning.  Thinking about how he could help Suzy wouldn’t let him sleep.  He opened his unfocused eyes and searched with his hand until he found the phone.

He hung up the receiver.  He almost forgot about the game tonight.  His coach called to tell him that Tim would be out the rest of the season, and Ron would be starting the rest of the year.  He was wavering all year about retiring from basketball after the season. Now he was having second thoughts, especially after the last two games.

After a quick shower and something to eat, he called Kathy to remind her about his game. He also wanted to find out if Suzy said anything more to her.

She had taken Suzy home and was at the club, and asked Ron to come over.

“What’s up?” he said, wheeling into Kathy’s office.

She looked up from reading the newspaper, “I know someone up in Holiday, his name is Bill, who owns a strip club.  He also runs a gambling ring.  How big, I don’t know.  I’ve got a message for him to call me back”

“A lot of sleazy clubs up there, I’m sure some have gambling ties.”

“I know,” she said, as she came around the desk.  “But you never know, he could be the one, or someone he knows.  You want some coffee?”

“Always can use coffee,” he flashed silly grin.

She chuckled as she walked out of the office.  “Where you play tonight?” she said walking back in.

“St Pete,” taking a mug from her.  “I’m starting the rest of the year.”

She looked at him like a proud mother would and clinked her mug against his, “That must feel good?”

He bashfully smiled, “Yeah.”

Ron got to the club a little before twelve, not long after Kathy.  Right before he was to be picked up she called to say she was going to the game.  Their third win in a row, and forth in the last five games.  Ron couldn’t remember the last time he felt so comfortable on the court.

“You looked good out there,” Kathy said, as Ron wheeled in.

He rolled up to the bar.  Irene poured him a Scotch and got him a salad.  Kathy walked up beside him, and he asked, “Did your friend call you back?”

She took a drink of her bottled water and said, “He did, and he doesn’t know her. But something interesting; he knows Tony, the guy who runs a strip joint called The Play Pen.  He handles bets for one Danny Alm.”

“That’s probably how he knows about Grace to,” he said, as he stabbed the last cucumber with his fork.  He bit it off his fork and added, “I’m betting Suzy doesn’t know about him.”

“That would be my guess,” she picked up a bite size pretzel out of the bowl on the bar, and popped it in her mouth.

Ron did some research, the next day, on Danny’s back ground.  He was reprimanded at Florida State for betting on college and NFL football games, but not to the point of being suspended.  Ron wondered if he also bet on basketball and it got covered up.

He started to dial Kathy’s number when he heard a knock and Kathy’s voice, “Ron, you there?”

“Yeah Kath, come on in.”

She walked in the door, gave him a peck on the lips, and said, “I think I found out that Danny bets on basketball.”

“How’d you do that?”

She sat at the table after getting a soda from the fridge, and said, “I went to see Bill to bet on Portland to win their game tonight.  Wouldn’t you know it, Tony was there.  I guess Tony took a shine to me, cause he tried to warn me how they were going lose to the Brooklynn.  Saying he’s got a source from the team saying they’re too tired.  I figured that source has to be Danny.”

Ron looked at her with a boyish grin, raised his eyebrows, “He also bet on football when he was in school.  Ask Suzy when he’s coming into town again.  I’ll confront him about it.”

“I don’t think that’s a real good idea, Ron,” she sat up and put her hands on her hips.”

“Why not?” he mocked her movement.

Resisting a smile, she said, “Cause you don’t know the kind of people he might know. It could be dangerous.”

“Yeah, I know. He put is arms on the table, “But we have to do something.”

“I know,” she got up and put her arms around him.  “I have to go.  I’ll think of something.  You coming later?  Suzy’s singing.”

“I’ll be there,” he held the door open watching her leave.

Ron waited about a half hour, and called Suzy.  Twenty minutes later she was knocking on his door.  He opened the door and his heart skipped a beat.

“Come in,” he said.  She bent down and hugged him.  It was only a day, but it seemed like years since he saw her.  Ron didn’t want to let go of the embrace.

“How you doing?” she said, smoothing his hair.

“I’m good. Come in, sit down,” he motioned toward the couch.  “You want something to drink?”

She shook her head, “I’m good,” and smiled at him.

“I have something to tell you.”  He swallowed hard, “I know how Danny knows about your mother’s problem.”

A confused look came over her face, “How?”

“Because your mom and Danny have the same bookie.  Kathy met him this morning,” he leaned forward in his chair.  “I don’t think he actually threated Grace.  Did you know that Danny Gambled?”

She shook her head, “I had no idea.  Do you know how long?”

“I was checking that earlier and found out he bet on football in college.  It didn’t say if he bet on basketball, but I wonder.”

“If he did, wouldn’t that be, like, cheating?”

“Yes.  We suspect he might be betting on basketball, or cheating now,” he said in a low whisper.

Suzy stood up, let out a deep breath, and walked to the bathroom.  She emerged five minutes later, her eyes glassy.  It was obvious she was crying.  He wanted so much to hold her, but wasn’t sure if he should. He was surprised when she hugged him tightly.

“Thank you for telling me,” she said, gazing into his eyes.  “Are you coming tonight?”

“Honey, wild horses couldn’t keep me away,” he smiled at her.  “What are you going to do?”

“When he calls later I’ll tell him we’re not getting married,” she playfully yanked on his hair.  “If he asks why, I’ll say I found someone else,” she slipped the ring off of her finger. “And if that doesn’t work, I’ll say I know about the gambling.”  She leaned in and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.

Ron got to Last Call before that evenings show.  He wanted a chance to talk to Suzy before it began.  He stopped at the bar to say hi to Kathy and Irene before he continued to a table.  He saw Suzy peek out of the back stage door, and smiled at her.

“Hi,” she motioned with her mouth, walking to the table.

Ron was awe struck.  She was wearing a purple evening gown with just the right amount of glitter to make it shine, and wavy curls in her hair.  “Hi,” he said, studying her up and down.  “You look fantastic.”

She sat down, leaned over and kissed him, “Thank you.  You look wonderful too,” she whispered in his ear as she was hugging him.

“Did you talk to Danny?”

“Yes. We came to an understanding.”

“Which is?”

“He going to leave me alone, and I’m going to keep his little secret,” she smiled, and kissed him hard.

“What the hell did I miss?” Kathy said, standing over them.

“When did you show up,” Ron shockingly said.

“Just in time to see the kiss.”  Kathy put her hands on her hips, and tried to hide a smile, “What is going on?”

“She’s with me, I’m with her,” Ron pointed between him and Suzy, and cackling like a teenager.

Ron made a decision that night.  He was going to play his last five game of the year, and hang up his jersey, no matter how well he was playing, and was going to take more of an interest in Last Call.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

R James Turley started writing poetry in his thirties. Soon after he wrote short stories with a head full of characters. His work has been published by Yahoo! Voices, and the WPaD anthology’s, Creepies 2: Thing that go Bump in the Closet, Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe, Escape from the Planet of the Deviants, Weirder Tales and Creepies 3.

R James writes from Florida where the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico.

Bjturley.com

Facebook.com/r.turley.7

https://www.facebook.com/R-James-Turley-339204606093122/?eid=ARADDD3lek3bk_p_8yl0rxzF2sRhQE2uKZbZnEc5JKs1dd4Wq5zbyvfc2_B-pXxkjErwmdEobNRPP1pt

@bt1express

wpad poster

Come back for more great fiction from other guest writers. I’ll be featuring a variety of short stories from many genres. Seriously folks, these are some of the best fiction writers currently producing work. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday Romance Marathon: Perfection

This is a story about my brother Max, first posted in 2013. A lot has happened between now and then. But more than that it is a story about trust, and frustration, and friendship, expectations, relationships, and love. Sort of. Nothing much is ever clean cut or easy.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Perfection

Maxwell drove down the coastal highway, roof open under the stars and the cool night air, thinking about his life as a top of the heap alpha male Vampire. It was a good time to ponder.

He didn’t have personal friendships with humans, the way some other Vampires did. He would protect them when necessary but he wouldn’t be their friend – at least not a close friend, not for a long time.

Of course he had human lovers, but that was pure physical need for their touch and their blood.

Vampire woman were another matter. He tended to be a freak magnet when it came to them. The normal ones were out there but they were always involved or off-limits in some way or another.  Or they were too strong and independent. Or in rare moments, years ago, he’d used bad judgement and not seen the big picture. Screw the big picture, he’d grown up and moved on. He was different now.

There were always other men, but right now he had the need for a female of his own kind. Someone safe and easy. Someone who would be there for him after a job that often involved violence and other unpleasantries.

He’d had plenty of friends with benefits.

Camel by the Sea. The beautiful village on the California coast. A place full of artists and rich people and those just wanting some peace and quiet. His Grandmama had lived here when the artist colony was thriving at the turn of the 20th century. He used to visit her and fall in love with the place and everyone in it.

This weekend was the Concourse de Elegance the most prestigious car show in the universe. Everyone who was anyone would be here, including Vampire Hunters. And since Max was the world’s foremost hunter of Vampire Hunters he was looking forward to it. A weekend of perfect cars, perfect women and perfect hunting.

It had been a long day and a long drive. He took his bags out of the car and walked to the door of the cottage he’d rented with 3 of his colleagues. He wasn’t sure who’d be here as it was last notice for him. He’d hoped it would be Pierce and David, two of the best and total car guys. He figured as long as they were there they might as well have some fun.

He used his key and as he opened the door cheers came up. Female cheers.

Elizabeth, Janye and Mehitabel. Vampire women who were also Hunter/Enforcers of the highest order and all GIRLS.

This was not what he was expecting. Not at all.

They exchanged warm greetings (he didn’t show his true feelings about the situation) and he left to shower off the weariness of the road. As he was drying off he could hear the girls talking. He stopped rubbing his hair to listen.

Janye: I can’t believe the choices Max makes. His last girlfriend was one of those types who always looks perfect and helpless. A total control freak.

Elizabeth: Total bitch. She just used him and he was too stupid to know it. Oh my God she had fangs like a saber tooth tiger, no it was more like a rabbit. And she was always telling everyone how attractive she was. I wish she’d done us all a favor and gone down with the Titanic.

Mehitabel: She used him. Most of them just used him. He wouldn’t know his perfect match if she slapped him across the face.

The women went on talking about his physical attributes (excellent), his professional attributes (excellent), his qualities as a Vampire (outstanding) and his relationships with woman (pathetic.) Great, this was going to be a wonderful weekend.

He’d known all three of them for years, over 100 but he’d never heard this side of the story. Damn. Was he that ridiculous? No, it had to be them. Women were so skewed.

He’d always been friends with Elizabeth and Jayne. It wasn’t like the movies or books where Vampire women drop their clothes and crawl naked all over their dominant male counterparts. Besides, these two were like sisters.

Then there was Mehitabel. Beautiful and strange, at least to him. He couldn’t stay away from her at one time, but he couldn’t be with her, not in his heart. She was too easy for him to use. He’d never love her, but he’d never met a woman so sexy, who could drive him so insane with desire. But she wasn’t the one. He made that clear from the start. It would never be.

The women helped him bring in the weapons and they sat around the table with bottles of wine, Bourbon and blood. They laughed over old times, new times and everything in between.

Despite his first impression he knew these three Vampire women were at the top of their game and would be loyal and true with him. And in turn he would do anything to protect them. They’d be a good team. They’d get the job done.

Beside that, he knew they’d like the cars.

They were excited to show him their dresses. Elizabeth, the most outgoing, a California blonde of the first order, had a red-flowered strapless sundress of silk with a wide skirt and strappy red heels. Jayne had a royal blue halter dress that looked like it had come right out of Grace Kelly’s closet. A redhead with an attitude, Jayne had a fierce sence of humor and a fierce sence of the fight. Mehitabel had a black sheath dress with a pattern of leaves woven into the fabric. It was form fitting, which was good since she had an extraordinary form. She’d wear it with a long strand of real black pears and matching earrings. She’d wear her brown hair sleek and long.

Mehitabel was as odd and unusual as her name, but he had always liked her. He was drawn to her humor and her matter of fact ways with a touch of something sad that he could never quite figure out.

He’d also had a history with Mehitabel. She knew his every move. And in turn he knew every move she made, every inch of her body, everything she had to give him and then some.  But she wasn’t the one. She wasn’t the girl of his dreams. She was different. Max wasn’t looking for different. He was looking for perfection. But that was a long time ago, at least 90 years, maybe more like 100.

As the night went on he thought maybe he’d relive some of the magic of days gone by. It would be a way to get off some of the tension before a week of dangerous work.

“I’m going to go to the beach. Anyone want to join me?” He asked that as he looked at the women.

“Sure,” said Mehitabel, “I’ll go.”

They walked along making small talk. It seems so comfortable and so right. Old friends forever, just like old time. As they came to the beach on the edge of the Pacific Ocean Mehitabel became silent.

“You’re quiet tonight,” Max said, ready to make a move on her. One kiss and she’d be his for the week. The others wouldn’t care, unless it was pure envy.

Mehitabel stepped away. “It was never friends with benefits or fuck buddies or whatever you want to call it with me Max. I loved you but you never wanted it. You just threw it away and treated me like some common girl that needed to be slut shamed. I loved you for so long and now I don’t know. I’m not perfect enough for you. You want a woman who will break your heart into a thousand shards and I can’t do that for you. If you had spent some time with me, some real-time and looked past the imperfections…”

“I never said that…” Max protested.

“You didn’t have to. You used me Max. You used me so I had to let you go. Don’t you understand?” Mehitabel was now angry, something he’d never seen.

He tried to take her hand, “The last time we saw each other, I mean romantically, you were the one who turned me away. You told me to go.”

She stepped away again. “To go back to your girlfriend. I wasn’t going to be with a man who was cheating on another girl, especially another Vampire. I told you that. Remember?”

Max remembered too well. She’d always been so friendly and compliment about his relationship rules.

Mehitabel continued her rant. “And there had been no romance. Sure we’d talked into the night. Sure we had some sort of weird connection where we could read each other’s thoughts, excuse me, I could read your thoughts, or at least I know when you’re thinking about ME, but it was never romance. Not with you it wasn’t. You did everything you could to talk yourself out of caring about me.”

“I’ve been thinking about you a lot,” Max said gently, trying to calm her.

“I know that.”

She was right. She always knew. There was some sort of strong connection where she always knew when he was thinking about her. It was spooky.

“Why didn’t you contact me?” Max was almost feeling hurt that she’d think of ignoring him after all of their history.

“Why didn’t you love me Max?”

“It wasn’t like that Mehitabel. I was just looking for something else.”

“What? Oh right, perfection. Well Max, I might be among the most elite hunters on the planet but I’ll never be anything but an imperfect slut to you.  I’m never going to let you break my heart again. Do you understand that Max?”

“I’m sorry.”

“So am I.”

She walked down the beach alone. He wondered if she was crying. He’d find out later.

Over the years he’d taken down Werewolves, Vampire Hunters with fire blowers, Ghosts, Rogue Vampires and Zombies. He’d seen it all. He was Maxwell August Todd, one of the greatest Enforcer/Hunters of all time, but this was one battle he couldn’t win.

“Mehitabel, I’m sorry,” he called after her.

Then he remembered something his mother had told him, one of those things that he wished he’d remembered earlier. “Max, my darling boy, remember, if we were all perfect then life would be so boring you’d hardly be able to stand it.”

Looking down the beach at the woman walking along the edge of the night surf, he suddenly realized he was in love and this would be the most difficult fight of his life.

He called her name again. She turned and yelled “Go to Hell.”

“Yes,” he said to himself out loud, “to hell and back.”

Short Story Sunday Romance Marathon: The Hunter

The Hunter

“We pumped quite a bit of blood out of your stomach. We’re not sure where it came from.”

She heard the words but was the noise in her head was still loud…

“Your heart had stopped beating. You weren’t breathing. You were cold.”

A hospital bed. She was in a bed hooked up to equipment. Her throat hurt.

“We still can’t get your body temperature up to normal and your heart beat is extremely slow.”

She’d been found in a room of an abandoned house wearing nothing but a black silk cocktail dress and black high heeled sandals. The nails on her hands and feet were painted silver. Aside from that there was no jewelry, no purse, no identification. The man she’d been with had received minor injuries and would be in soon to see her. He said he was her boyfriend. Panic started to set in but she didn’t show it.

“Do you remember anything?”

“Not a lot.” She lied. She had remembered almost everything, despite the headache. The man called Austin had wanted to show her a house he was remodeling. He specialized in renovating Victorians and older historic homes. It was charming. It was haunted. “Is Austin alright?”

“He had a few stitches in his forehead, but yes, he is doing fine.”

“We left the club where we met. I mean, it wasn’t a hook up, we’d been seeing each other for a while. We’re friends. He told me about his work restoring old homes. I own some property I was thinking of having restored…He took me to a house he owns. It’s old, nobody lives there. A Queen Ann style Victorian. Beautiful. He showed me around and we ended up in an upstairs room.” She didn’t tell him of the phantoms and the screams that nearly burst her ear drums. She paused, and glanced at the needle in her arm. “Alright, we did fool around some. But we both started to feel really sick. He passed out first. I tried to wake him. I think we were drugged at the bar. Is he ok?”

“I’m fine sweetheart.” In the door stood a man with a bandage on his forehead. His brown eyes met her blue with almost a spark of both passion and hate. He smiled at the doctor.

“She’s a vampire and I’m a vampire hunter. I had no idea the house was haunted when I took her there. Sorry, it’s along running joke between us. Isn’t it Elizabeth?”

Her eyes met his again. A hunter hunting the huntress. “Is that all I am to you?”

He sat next on the edge of the bed and took her cold hand. “You need to warm up dear or they’ll never let you out of here. I know, it takes a lot of effort to keep your heart beating for those machines. You don’t want them thinking you’re dead.”

To think she was starting to fall in love with this man.

“I thought you were going to kill me last night but you saved my life. Why’d you do that Elizabeth?

Doctor Davis spoke up. “What is going on here?”

Austin smiled and spoke in a quiet calming voice. “I’m sorry for the confusion. We have our own language. We had a fight. She wasn’t going to kill me. Just an expression. She was angry. You know, I’m a typical guy. I did typical stupid guy stuff. We went to the house and like she said, we were both feeling sick. Then someone came in and mugged us. She saved me. I don’t know how, but she defended me. It was too dark to tell what was going on. We had a tumultuous relationship but we’re not violent, just a little dramatic.”

“He’d never touch me.” Elizabeth looked back at Austin. “The ones who attacked us… I had no idea. I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

“I thought you’d know.”

“I don’t.”

“Huh. Interesting.”

They both talked to the police about what had happened. Their story was the same. They’d gone to a house he owned, it was unoccupied, they were attacked. They both had traces of an airborne toxin in their systems.

Elizabeth was released into Austin’s care. She’d told him she’d call a taxi but he insisted on bringing her home.

On the way he talked. She sat still, feeling sick, trying to regain her energy. The morning sun burned her eyes even through the fog.

“So my building, the house we were in last night is haunted. Those were ghosts.”

Elizabeth glanced over at him, then looked away. “Yes, they were ghosts. I know someone who can get rid of them for you. He’s good and his prices are reasonable.”

“You know Elizabeth, I’ve found at least a dozen of your kind, vampires, in the basements of abandoned old buildings I’ve purchased for restoration. They weren’t like you. They were like rats.”

“I’m not like them. I don’t live in the shadows or in a crypt. I don’t sleep in a coffin. Most of us aren’t like your rats. We live normal lives.”

“When were you born?”

“1834. I’ve been a vampire since 1853. How did you know?”

He gave her a mean smile. “Call it a 6th sense. My grandfather hunted vampires. It’s in my blood, no pun intended.”

They arrived at her house. He was impressed. A beautiful craftsman style, maybe 2,500 square feet, nice old neighborhood. Inside the woodwork was beautiful. Her decorating was a combination of period and modern. Nice.

“You can go,” she told him.

“Show me around. This place is great.”

“I’m the original owner. 1905.”

As she showed him around Austin noticed a diploma in her office. “You didn’t tell me you were an attorney. Go figure.”

“I told you I consulted for the Justice Department. There is no shame in what I do.”

The house was impressive as was the vampire who lived in it. “Was that my blood they pumped out of your stomach?”

“Most of it. Don’t worry, you won’t turn into a Vampire. I just took maybe a pint.”

Austin noticed a mirror on the wall. He took Elizabeth by the shoulders and turned her around to face it. He could see his own reflection but hers was just a dim shadow.

“Look at my eyes, in the mirror. Look at my eyes,” she told him.

Their eyes locked in the glass. Her image became clear. He laughed. It wasn’t the sarcastic bitter laugh she’d heard all morning. This was joy.

“Elizabeth, will you be alright if I leave you?”

“You aren’t going to kill me?”

“Not today.”

“Then when? When will you be back to cut out my heart and cut off my head.”

“Do you want to go out sometime on a real date?”

“You’re scaring me Austin.”

“I know. I’ll pick you up tomorrow around 8:00. It should be dark by then. Wear something nice.”

She watched through the window as he drove away. Her heart had stopped beating. She wasn’t breathing. In the refrigerator was a bottle of blood. She was starving. Her head was light but that was because of him.

Austin drove away with a smile on his face. What a rush. He wasn’t sure what tomorrow would bring. Either he’d kill her or he’d marry her. That is, if she didn’t kill him first.

Short Story Sunday: I Hate Valentine’s Day

I Hate Valentine’s Day

“I shouldn’t be alone today,” thought young Randy as he sat brooding on a rock, on the beach at 5:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. His heart was broken. The girl, a Vampire girl he knew he was going to fall in love with had given her heart to another and left him in the dreaded friend zone.

And it wasn’t as if she’d left him, or chosen another college student. Sure the guy she’d fallen for looked like he was twenty-one but he was born in freaking 1902. What did girls see in these older guys?

He was jolted from his thoughts by a “Hi. You’re Randy, aren’t you?”

A dark haired girl stood in front of him. “I’m Alexis. I’m in your Organic Chemistry class. I’m a Vampire, but you knew that. I know you are too. Small world.”

“Oh, right. Sure. Hi. Have a seat,” said Randy, glad for the company now.

“I hate Valentine’s Day,” said Alexis.

“Why do you hate it?”

She sat down on rock next to him. “My parents were borderline Shadow Creepers, you know old time Vampires who stayed in the dark most of the time. Nobody knew we were Vampires but everybody including the other school parents thought my parents were weird. I got picked on a lot at school. I was like quiet and small. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I didn’t dare try any of my Vampire stuff on anyone. I was afraid if anyone found out they’d kill my family.  Anyway, every Valentine’s Day we’d have to make stupid boxes and bring Valentines. I always made something pretty with roses and flowers and stuff, all pink and nice. I always But I never got any Valentines. Maybe from one of the girls who felt sorry for me. Everyone had full boxes except me. The kids all started to laugh at me. I wanted to rip their throats out but I couldn’t. You know, Vampire code.”

“Sure, don’t show them what you are, no matter what. Did your mom and dad know?”

“I never told them anything. We didn’t talk much at home. But I got my revenge.”

“Revenge?”

“I told the teacher I had to go the bathroom. Of course the boys started to make jokes about how I’d stink the school up. They were mean like that. Always. It never stopped. So like the teacher said someone had to go with me to make sure I wouldn’t spend too much time in there, cause sometimes I’d just go there to get away from it all. She said that Ashley should go with me. Ashley was the most popular girl.

She started to pout and complain. So a girl called Emma volunteered. Emma was the only kid who gave me a Valentine. She was kind of overweight and sometimes the other kids would say mean things to her too, but she was the smartest kid in the class so they didn’t say too much.

When we got out of the classroom she said she knew I didn’t need to go to the bathroom. We walked around for a bit, then went back to the classroom. But we didn’t go in.

“You can make them pay for what they did. I’ll help you,” said Emma. “I’m a Witch. I know what you are.” Then she smiled in a way that even scared me.

We didn’t go in. The door locked. The room filled with smoke. The other kids started to scream. They couldn’t get out. Everyone started to claw at their faces and arms. That is except the teacher who kept trying to open the door. We ran to the office to get help. You know, we had to keep up appearances.

By the time the fire department go there and knocked down the door, the smoke at gone away, but the smell of sulphur was still in the room. Some of the kids had clawed out their eyes and made huge gashes in their faces and arms.

Then Emma whispered in my ear, “they’ll never call you ugly again.”

Hey, even I was shocked. I never did a thing. It was all her. Both of us ended up going to another school. In high school I made a lot of friends. They all thought my parents were cool Goths. The rest of the kids are still all scarred and screwed up.”

Randy looked at her feeling sort of numb. “Where is Emma now?”

“She got into swimming. Lost a lot of weight. Turned blonde. She’s at UCLA now. So Randy, why don’t you like Valentine’s day?”

“A girl I liked started seeing another guy.”

“Bummer. Sorry to hear that.”

They sat in silence for a while, listening to the waves. Randy didn’t know what to say. He and his best friend had been the two most popular boys at their high school. Their lives had been happy and relatively care free. Their parents were modern Vampire in every way possible.

Alexis bumped her shoulder gently against Randy’s. “I hope you don’t think I’m weird.”

“No. Well, maybe just a little.”

“Looks like the storm is coming in. Wanna get coffee? No pressure. It’s not like I want to be your girlfriend or anything like that. Just you know, like just a couple of Vampire friends.”

“Sure,” said Randy.

As they walked up to the street he put on his sunglasses against the morning sun. Well, stranger things had happened.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Chloe’s Face

A new story to maybe give you the creepies, or make you feel all warm and fuzzy in a twisted romantic kind of way.

Tangled Tales

Chloe’s Face

 

“I wasn’t alone. It was at a party for God’s sake. You saw how many people were here.”

“You said you went to the beach before the tide came in.”

“It was coming in. I told the police officer, the first one to arrive there.”

“You don’t seem frightened or upset. Most women would be crying at the sight of all of those body parts.”

I looked him straight in the eye, “Detective, I don’t appreciate your condescending attitude. I’ve been spending the past hour comforting my friends over this. If you continue your misogynistic tone I will report you to your supervisors, and I’ll put it in my blog.”

“I didn’t intend it that way. Your eyes look yellow. Are you alright?”

Oh now he was concerned. I wanted to say sure my eyes are yellow, I’m a fucking goblin. My eyes always turn yellow when I’m angry or upset. But I didn’t tell him that. I took a deep breath and brought back the baby blues in their shining glory.

Sure I might look like a beautiful woman in a silvery silk evening gown, and I am, but deep down inside my blood runs green, and my soul is the color and texture of charcoal briquettes, and I was in no mood to be grilled by some SOB who was one step from a hard on.

This all started when I walked down a path to the beach, wine glass in hand, with a couple of extremely shallow women whom I found quite refreshing.  We’d take off our heels and started running, while we laughed all the way. Hey, if I can find kindred spirits I take advantage of it.

So we get to the beach, just as the sun starts to set, and the tide is just coming in for the night. Is it the pretty picture we expected? Absolutely not.

Jackie, a tall brunette with high cheekbones wearing a backless red dress, catches her breath and drops her wine glass, then backs up a few steps.

Mags, a short busty blonde in a fabulous blue jumpsuit, and I stop.

“What the fuck?” Mags says as she stops and stares.

“Don’t go any closer,” I said.

Jackie starts to whimper like a puppy. Mags downs the Martini she brought with her and gets an extreme grimace on her face. I picked up a stick and poked the thing. Of course it didn’t move. I looked closer.

“There aren’t any bones. His bones are completely gone.”

What we were looking at was the naked body of a man with no bones. He didn’t even have a skull.

Mags looked closer. “Is it real?”

I put out my arm to stop her from getting closer. “Yes,” I said. “It is absolutely real.”

Looking out to the beach and incoming waves I saw something just as interesting and unusual. The beach was covered in body parts. There must have been a hundred or more pieces of, well, people. This wasn’t like random shoes washing up with feet in them. I saw feet, legs, arms, torsos, organs, and faces. No skulls. Just faces.

I’m usually not at a loss for words but I had no words for this.

“Maybe there was a plane crash,” said Jackie.

I guess it could have been, but when I looked at the closest group of parts, an arm, what looked like a butt, and a face, they all looked like they’d been surgically removed. The edges were clean. The bone wasn’t fractured. Then I noticed the butt had a tag attached with a red ribbon threaded through a perfectly round little hole.

On a triangular laminated piece of parchment looking paper were the words,

 

You were a pillow

For her body

A place to sit

Pleasure for a man

To fondle

With desire and lust

A whore

Deserves more.

 

This was both fascinating and repulsive in a sexist nasty kinky kind of way. Hey, I’m a goblin, so I get a pass at not getting all sentimental about these things. I wouldn’t cut anyone’s butt off, but I’d love to know who did it and why. Seriously, what would motivate someone, a human, to do something like that? Or humans. One person couldn’t have dumped all of these parts on the beach in a matter of a few hours. I was out on the beach earlier in the day. I didn’t see anything but birds, a couple of shells, and some crab parts.

“It wasn’t a plane crash. We would have seen something, or heard about it on the news. I don’t know what this is.”

A couple of guys in suits came down the path from the party. They were laughing and yelling funny stuff at us. That didn’t last long.

They were horrified too. One of them called 911. Then the police showed up.

Before the authorities arrived I lifted up my dress and tied the hem in a knot just above my knees so I could walk around and take a better look.

About half of the body parts had the cleaver little labels with cryptic free verse or other weird descriptions. I have to admit the labels were pretty imaginative.

A male face, with fashionable stubble, laid face up, looking surprisingly handsome. You know, in a weird sad way that dead things look. I hear the Victorians were really into that kind of stuff, but back to now. His note got me thinking.

 

Those lips

Brushed against

Sun bronzed skin

Not mine

Never mine

Too

Bad

For

You

 

Were these revenge killings? I was trying to tie my brain around it. I was looking out over a hundred body parts. A man with no bones was dumped at the trailhead. One person, male or female couldn’t have done this alone.

I turned to see my four human friends huddled together about twenty feet from the boneless guy. I dropped my shoes, put down my wine glass, and took my phone out of my bra, then started to take photos of the tags.

The tag on a hand only had two words.

 

Poison Pen

 

On a heart and lung set was another romantic tag.

 

You took my heart

You took my breath away

So I shall do the same

To you

 

I’m a goblin so I don’t get too romantic, not even with other goblins. We’re not like that. We just laugh, and fuck a lot, and get all nasty with each other. We bond, but not in what you’d call a sweet way. I looked at that note and wondered what the hell had happened with that relationship. Had she cheated? Did she walk out for no reason? Was she a casting director who didn’t give some asshole actor a part he thought he deserved? Did someone not get into medical school and wanted revenge? It could have been anything. I wanted to know. I really really wanted to know.

Goblins, as a whole, cause a lot of grief. That is what we do. It is in our nature. That said, no goblin that I know would ever do anything like this. We definitely wouldn’t leave notes behind. We don’t exact revenge. We’re too self assured and confident to even think about revenge. Also, we might be different but we don’t do body parts. No way.

I looked down on a torso. It was the top half of a woman, from the shoulders down to the navel. She had a tattoo of a butterfly on her left shoulder. On the right breast was some sort of flower thing. The ink was beautifully done. She’d paid a lot for her ink. Gold rings pierced her nipples. The cuts were clean, and her organs were in tact. Her label was just as random as the others.

 

Lovely to

Look at

Lovely to hold

But it you break it

Consider yourself

Sold

 

Even I have to admit that was creepy.

A few days later, a couple of hours up the highway, I was sitting on the deck of my own beach house, wrapped in a blanket, and wondering about those body parts and the boneless man.

I heard someone come through the side gate. It was the detective I’d spoken to at the scene of the crime. I waved at him. He tripped and fell on the gravel pathway. I smiled. After all, I am a goblin and I can do all sorts of mean things if I want to, and I always want to.

He got up without me offering to help, then brushed off his clothing. He was one of those tall sort of ex-football player types who thought he was hot shit in high school and college, and never lets anyone forget. Fuck him.

I thought about telling him to have a seat and making the chair break but I decided against it. There was no need to make him remember me more than he had to. I didn’t offer him coffee or tea.

My tail involuntarily twitched. I adjusted myself in my seat and pulled my blanket closer, and quieted my backside appendage so he wouldn’t see it (I just like saying that, you know, backside appendage.)

“Ms. St. Marie, I couldn’t get you by phone. I have some more questions I need you to answer,” he said.

“Gloria. There is no need to be formal.” I said. “I already told you everything I know.”

He walked up the steps onto my deck and leaned against the rail. “Gloria. Do you have time to talk?”

“Does it look like I’m doing anything? Sure, it isn’t like you’re going to go away.”

My brain quickly ran through ways to make him cry. I tried not to smile.

“So,” I said, “Detective Howard. Or should I call you Ian? Why are you here?”

“What is your relationship with Anthony James Berkins?”

Well, that was out of the blue.

“We’re friends. Friends with benefits. Excellent benefits. Why are you asking about Tony? He’d never kill anyone. Sure he killed them with words, but he’s a gossip writer. Damn good at it too.”

“How about Chloe Elizabeth Anderson?”

“Chloe? I adore Chloe. We’re friends. Great friends.”

Chloe was such a bitch. She had a snarky comment about everything and everyone. The C in her name stood for more than just Chloe, and I loved her for it.

“Within three days after you and your friends found the body parts on the beach sixty people in California, Nevada, and Oregon were found dead in their homes. All were single. All of them were found with parts of their bodies missing. Only three were still alive.”

For one of the few times in my life I actually felt like I might have lost something precious. “Tony and Chloe. Are they dead?”

Ian Howard looked at me with almost a symphetic gaze. I wanted to make a gull fly by and crap on his head (and I can do that) but I just waited for him to say something.

“Your friend Tony is alive. His sister found him before he bled to death. That hand you found with the poison penlabel was his. He doesn’t remember anything about what happened.”

“Chloe? Is she alive?”

“No. Her heart, face, and breasts were taken.”

I said nothing, trying to process it all. I felt numb. I never feel numb. It was weird.

“Do you know if Chloe was involved with anyone?”

“Chloe was seeing everyone,” I said. “She’d never give her heart to anyone. Fuck. I didn’t mean to say that.” I really didn’t mean to say that.

The detective pulled up and chair and sat across from me. “Gloria, you always seem to show up when bad things happen.”

“What do you mean by bad things?”

“Accidents. People fall into pools and almost drown. Kitchens catch on fire. Car accidents happen near you. People trip and fall a lot when you’re around. You’ve also been at the discovery of three other murders.”

“That wasn’t my fault. How was I to know a dumb ass real estate agent was going to show me a house with a body in the living room?”

“I’m sure it wasn’t your fault when you found a body in the trunk of a car you rented. It also wasn’t your fault when you witnessed an arson fire where three bodies were found.”

“No, it wasn’t my fault. The other accidents were not my fault either. Shit happens. People are stupid.” Actually the accidents were my fault because I make shit happen. I’m a goblin. That’s what I do. But I had nothing to do with the murders. Goblins don’t kill, we just make people miserable.

“Do you know who would hurt Tony or Chloe?”

“No. Listen, Ian, I read the notes. I took pictures. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It looks like the body parts, the removal of parts, was part of a revenge service. I know it sounds sick and twisted, and it is, but I can’t think of anything else. Sixty people. Holy shit. Poor Chloe. You said Tony will be OK?”

“He’ll recover, at least physically.”

We talked a bit more until I was too annoyed to take it anymore and asked Detective Ian Howard leave.

A year later he came back with some more questions. The case was never officially solved. I seduced him, but didn’t let him see my tail. Then I made sure he had a flat tire on the way home just for the fun of it.

I’m still trying to figure out how that one guy was deboned. His bones were found in his bed. If that isn’t weird I don’t know what is.

I still have drinks from time to time with Megs and Jackie. They’re still freaked out by the body part ordeal but neither one has lost her magic snark touch. I worry about them though. What if the killer is still out there. They’d be perfect targets the way they spread gossip and break hearts.

Tony and I are still friends with benefits. He has some very interesting and fun attachments he can click into where his hand used to be. We’ve spent hours trying to figure out who cut his hand off. We’ve come up with exactly nothing.

I still couldn’t walk on a beach without thinking about Chloe. Who cut off her face?

My friend Magnus, another goblin changling like me, had his theories about the killers.  It was obvious to us that the killers were hired to do what they did. From what I read on the notes all of the killings must have been revenge based.

A few nights before we found the body parts on the beach, before the owners of said parts were found, my friend Magnus had an interesting experience. Being a goblin, he didn’t think much of it due to the fact that he tends to be unpleasant to be around. The night was nice so he opened his windows and sat down to watch some mindless TV. He’d fixed his favorite snack of stir fry red crawler worms with sweet and sour sauce, with an ice cold beer, and just as he was ready to dig in he heard the sliding glass door that went out to his backyard open.

Like any goblin he turned and yelled, “Fuck you asshole.” The door slammed, and the two guys in his dark backyard were plummeted by flying garden tools, then drenched with motor oil he driained from an old car he was restoring.  By the time he got out on his porch the visitors had jumped the fence. The curious thing about the event was that on his porch he found a red ribbon. It was exactly like the red ribbons used to tie the notes onto the body parts found on the beach.

“I’m sure they would have been put off by my green blood, not to mention it would have burned their skin right down to the bone,” said Magnus.

“Only if you wanted it to burn them,” I said.

“Oh sweetie pie, you know I wanted to burn them. I always want to burn them. I know you do too,” he said with a wink.

“Do you think they were the murderers?”

“Of course I do,” said Magnus.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?”

He leaned back and gave me a big smile, his eyes glowing yellow green. “Because you never asked me.”

A few hours later I called Ian Howard and asked him what was on Chloe’s tag.

The detective seemed surprised I’d called. About an hour later he called me back with an answer.

 

Mirror Mirror

Blank and Cold

You’re beautiful face

Will never grow old

You don’t deserve

Your beauty

Or your cold unfeeling

Heart

I’m setting you free

And setting you apart.

 

Then he told me Chloe had been mutilated before she died. Even my twisted burned out soul couldn’t help but feel for her. I made a list of everyone I knew she’d been seeing or crossed. Nobody stood out as her killer, or the person who might have paid for her torture and death.

I called Ian and hold him about what Magnus had told me, omitting the part about Magnus being a goblin. Not that it mattered because Detective Ian Howard said, “The killers were stupid to go after a goblin. Not just because it is dangerous but because you regenerate damaged flesh.”

“Goblins? What are you talking about?”

“I know you and Magnus are goblins. I knew the first night I met you on the beach. We watch for your kind.”

Your kind?It sounded sort of racist to me, but it didn’t surprise me. So much for jumping through virtual fiery hoops to hide my tail.

“I pegged your for an asshole the first time I met you,” I said.

“Do you mind if I come over?”

I wanted to say something mean but just said, “whatever.”

The police never found out who killed Chloe and cut off Tony’s hand. They never figured out who hired them. Ian promised me that he’d never tell anyone I was a goblin. Later that night before he drifted off to sleep in my big comfortable bed I kissed him and thought of the note tied to the empty wrist of the boneless man.

 

Spineless

Unable to stand up

Betraying

My trust

And

Showing

Your true

Shape.

 

I heard a noise outside and went to check it out.

The next morning Ian took a cup of coffee out to the deck.

“Gloria, come out here,” he called.

In his hand he held a piece of paper and a note.

I looked at the paper.

 

Unholy union

Man and Demon

She seduces

He comes to her

Without hesitation

We will

Take

Them

Apart

 

“Look out on the beach Gloria,” Ian said.

The tide was coming in, washing away body parts. The cuts weren’t as clean as the previous case, but it looked pretty efficient. I could see a head rolling out with the last wave. I was fascinated with the way it moved.

“Do you know anything about this Gloria?”

“Let me refill your coffee for you,” I said giving him a kiss and taking his cup.

And you know what? We more or less lived happily after. Imagine that.

 

 

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette Kings / Marla Todd, ©March 2019

Headless (a romantic Halloween poem… sort of)

jakc shaving

Headless

He stood in front of me

his neck a stump

without a head.

In his hand was a note

on expensive stationary

scrawled in rough cursive.

It said

I need

a HEAD.

 

 

To his delight

I took a gourd,

a pumpkin really,

and with a knife

carved a face

with eyes fierce

with pride

and a mouth

that smiled

not with joy

but with spite.

 

 

I put the pumpkin on his neck

then lit the candle within

and told him

“Go find another. I’m tired of loving a man who is always losing his head over nothing.”

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman