The Fisherman

The Fisherman

A story from Adelia Hoff

There once was a fisherman who lived alone by the sea. One night he came across a beautiful woman dancing naked in the moonlight. When he called out, asking if she was alright as it was a very cold night, she swam away into the ocean. The fisherman saw her again and again after that, and every time he called out, asking if she was alright. It was only on the fifth time that he noticed the seal skin draped across a rock, and saw her run to it before swimming away.

There once was a fisherman who lived alone by the sea. One night, the beautiful woman’s skin was nowhere to be found, for she had danced too far down the beach from it. The fisherman saw this, and thought that the ocean would be very cold without it, so he carefully folded it in his arms and brought it to her. When she approached him to take it back, he asked if she was alright.

There once was a fisherman who lived with his family by the sea. Every day he and his wife would take their children out fishing, him in his boat and her in the waters below. When they would get back home, he would hang up his coat and she and the children would hang up their skins, and they would eat their dinner. They all loved each other very much, and when the moon was bright in the sky, they would all go dance together- clothed, of course. It was cold.

 

~ end

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This is where I’d rather be RIGHT NOW.

For more stories from Adelia Hoff click on the links below.

Charade by Adelia Hoff

The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy) by Adelia Hoff  

 

Tangled Tales: Ashes

“I want my ashes scattered in San Francisco Bay,” said my sister Roxanne.

“Do you know how many bodies are dumped in San Francisco Bay every year? You’ll be down there with Laci Peterson’s head,” said Phil.

Jeremy looked shocked. “What?” I don’t know why Jeremy looks shocked at anything Phil says anymore.

“You’re disgusting Phil,” I said. “Why do you even say shit like that?”

Phil didn’t answer. He never did when I called him out about his inappropriate comments.

We kept hiking along the winding path towards the beach, a gray haired foursome of two men and two women. My brothers Phil and Jeremy, and my sister Roxanne and I were finally going to scatter our parent’s ashes.

For years Mom had kept Dad’s ashes in a box in the back of her closet, along with the ashes of our two family dogs Weimar and Clyde. Mom had been gone for two years so it was time.

At 62 I was the youngest. Jeremy was the eldest at 70, with Phil and Roxanne being somewhere in between. We’d spent a lifetime hiking with our parents, each other, then spouses, siblings, children, and grandchildren.

Our family wasn’t one for milestones. Nobody was buried in the ground. Ashes were kept closets or scattered bits at a time on vacations over shots of bourbon. Memorial services were casual. Weddings and major holidays were also hit or mis. The only thing nobody missed were graduations. We were big on education. The one thing we did manage to do was our twice a year all-four-siblings trips to the beach house, which now belonged to me.

As a child we’d camped, but then rented the same beach house year after year. It was in a wooded area with a short path to the beach with a mix of pine and cypress trees. My husband and I purchased the house right after we got married. Our children grew up going there, and we let everyone in the family have time on the calendar.

It was down past the estuary, along the dunes, past the tide pools, and a climb down to the isolated beach that was my parent’s favorite spot.

As we saw our parent’s favorite beach from the trail Phil made one of his uncalled for announcements. “This is where Jeremy was conceived. That is why he was always mom’s favorite. When we were kids they’d come here at night to be alone and fuck like rabbits.”

“Jesus Christ,” said Jeremy.

“Jesus isn’t here Jeremy,” said Phil. “I don’t know what the big deal was about this place. It is cold and hard to get to and it smells like seagull shit. It is like Trump hotel. It touts luxury and uniqueness but it is no better than a best western at quadruple the price with room service that taste like generic freezer burned frozen entrees at best.”

“Shut up Phil,” I said.

“I told you we should have never brought him along,” said Roxanna. “Phil always ruins everything.”

“I ruin everything? Oh Roxy, you are so full of shit. Who was having a boob job when our mother died??”

“It was breast reconstruction surgery after my cancer asshole. Don’t twist things around. I didn’t know Mom was going to die. None of us knew. I was in surgery when we got the call.” Roxanna said. She stood looking like a silver haired goddess ready to strike Phil dead with lightning bolts out of her eyes.

Phil stepped closer to our sister. “You’re so vain. Maybe that song was written about you Roxy. Did you ever think about that? Or were you afraid Chet would leave you for someone else if you didn’t have a full rack?”

Roxanna jumped at Phil with her fist balled up going towards his face. He grabbed her by the wrist and forced her onto one knee. She swung around and hit him in the head with her backpack.

Then it happened. Her pack exploded. Dad’s ashes covered Phil. He looked like he’d just crawled out of a volcano.

Jeremy and I stood in shock. Roxanna sat on the sand, face in her hands and started to cry.

Phil gave a whooping war cry and laughed. “I always told you that Dad had me covered,” he yelled. Then he ran into the surf and dove out into the crashing waves.

After about a half an hour I hiked back up to the beach house and called the police for a rescue crew to help find Phil. Jeremy and Roxanna stayed at the beach.

Phil’s body was never found. He was sixty three. His wife Jenny didn’t seem surprised when we told her what had happened. She said she had expected him to die years ago. Jenny was Phil’s 5th wife. He didn’t have any children, thank goodness. A few weeks later Jenny said she was moving back in with there ex-husband and Jeremy took Phil’s old golden retriever Shasta. Despite Phil being such an asshole Shasta was a remarkably sweet and well behaved dog.

The day after Phil presumably drowned we put Mom’s ashes, and the ashes of her dogs into the water. As we watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean we sang Amazing Grace together.

Later this summer, when maybe the social distancing isn’t so much of an issue, Jeremy, Roxanna, and I will meet again at the beach house with our spouses and our children who are able to make it. We haven’t decided if we are going to tell our kids what happened on the beach.

We didn’t have a memorial service for Phil, blaming it on social distancing. In a normal year I doubt if we would have done anything for him. Maybe his asshole friends or one of his ex-wives might do something. I’ll skip it.

Despite all of the crap Phil always put us through part of me still loves him. Not much. I didn’t say it was a big part. I just remember when we were kids all running down the path to the beach laughing together. Phil was always saying funny things. Only later I realized that he didn’t always mean to be funny. He just didn’t have any filters. Or maybe he was just born a mean spirited jerk. I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t really matter.

I decided it was time to remodel the cabin. I took down the old paintings and stuff Mom had picked out. New furniture was due for delivery. The lumpy old mattresses and hard pillows were thrown into a dumpster with the worn out rugs and pitted yellow kitchen cabinets. I wanted everything to be clean and fresh.

On the bookshelf I arranged a display of family photos going back to our parent’s honeymoon on the beach to last year after Roxanne’s daughter Elizabeth had gotten married in the small beach house backyard. I picked up a photo of Phil, taken when he was younger, just out of graduate school. He stood on the beach looking happy with his long brown hair blowing in the wind. I took the image out of the frame, lit a match and burned it in the fireplace. That would be my memorial to Phil, and the final resting place of his ashes.

“So long Phil,” I whispered. “Rest in peace, and may your spirit stay the hell away from here.”

 

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

©June 2020 Juliette Kings / Marla Todd

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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: Playing Dracula

With chips and salsa, a cold beer, and two cats sharing the couch with him Jake studied the script to the yet untitled take on the story of Dracula.

With the sorry assed version of the story now showing on Netflix this play could either make or break his career. This version, written by his best friend Rick DeMarco, would run as a play for six month, then if a success would be made into a major motion picture, with Jake playing Dracula.

This version would take place in the present, in the early 20’s with Dracula portrayed in a sympathetic light, more as a misunderstood victim of discrimination. This be a Dracula who preferred jeans and a tee shirt to a red lined opera cape and tails. He thought he’d lobby for paring jeans with a white button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up as well. Women loved that look.

Of course Dracula would be hot. No doubt the most attractive Vampire ever to hit the stage or screen. Jake shrugged that one off but was secretly flattered.

Rehearsals wouldn’t start in two weeks but since Chloe had left him he had more free evenings. She’d dumped Jake for some guy she claimed was more spiritually grounded than Jake would ever be. Of course the guy was also richer than Jake would ever be, not that Jake wasn’t well off. Rather than party his money away with an entourage and series of huge mansions he’d settled into a comfortable older home in Long Beach a block from the beach and away from adoring fans and extra drama.

He read the script aloud for a few minutes, trying to get the right inflection in his voice.

Van Helsing: You know you must die.

Dracula: We all die eventually, but tonight isn’t a good time for either of us.

Van Helsing: You aren’t going to talk me out of this.

Dracula: Damn this script is horrible. Maybe I’ll just do that romantic Western I was offered yesterday. I grew up around horses. It would be a shoe in for an Oscar.

Van Helsing: You sure won’t get any award nominations with this script.

Jake put down the script and rubbed his eyes. He put up the chips and salsa, then grabbed another beer out of the fridge.

As soon as he sat down the door bell rang. It was 10:00 on a Saturday night. He wasn’t expecting anyone.

At the front door was a vision of loveliness, a Hollywood cliche, a beautiful woman in a short black leather skirt, a cream colored silk and lace camisole top and platinum blonde hair. Stiletto heeled sandals dangled from one hand. A smile was on her red lips.

“Irma. Wow. It’s been a while. Come in.”

Irma Snowberry. Jake had met her at a party a few years before. She was wearing a long silk evening gown the color of pale gold and silver mixed with stardust. Only Irma could wear a dress like that so well. He met her again a year later and taken her home for the night. After a night of incredible sex he slept like a dead man and didn’t see her again. The number she’d given him was out of order. He looked her up and only found obituaries of long dead women.

Irma. He doubted that was her real name. His mom had once made a comment about all of the girls his age having grandma names, but he imagined Irma must be her stage name, or just a fake name she used when she wanted to have some noncommittal company for a night.

“I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by and see you,” she said with a voice as smooth as her pale bare skin. Why was he even thinking this way, like he was in some sort of bad movie or romance novel?

He felt sort of self conscience in his pajama pants and tee shirt that read Cat Dad across the front. Oh well. It was Saturday and he was at home in his own house. Comfort was the only thing that mattered. He didn’t have to look good for his cats.

Jake invited Irma in, offered her a drink, and sat her down on the couch next to the cats.  The tabby cat Willy hissed and ran off. Maggy the black cat hid under a chair and sat with wide green eyes.

“I hear you’ve been offered the role of Dracula,” said Irma.

“Uh, sure. I’m reading the script right now. I’m not 100% sure I’ll take it.” Jake didn’t want to talk about the part. He never liked to talk about his roles until he was either onstage or the movie was out in theaters.

“Do you believe in Vampires Jake?” Irma licked her red lips in a way that was both exciting and kind of weird.

“No. Do you?”

“Yes, I do Jake. I do believe in Vampires,” said Irma.

Jake woke on Sunday morning alone in his bed without his pajama pants or his Cat Dad shirt. He didn’t remember anything from the night before except that Irma had dropped by and he’d let her in. He moved to get up and felt a sharp pain in his neck.

New pillows. I’ve got to get new pillows today, he thought to himself.

The cats sat on the couch curled up together. They both looked up with green eyes then ran into the kitchen for breakfast.

Irma hadn’t left a note or a phone number, or anything except lipstick marks on a wine glass. Next time, if there was a next time, he’d ask her what happened. Or maybe he’d just tell her that he was busy or involved with someone. He had no desire to see her again. She was no doubt a user just like Chloe. On the other hand there was something weird about her. He’d do more research and ask around about her.

The phone rang. It was his friend and Dracula producer Rick.

“So what do you think of the script?” Rick asked.

“You know, I hate to do this to you but I think I’ll pass on it. I just don’t think it is a good match for me.”

“You liked the idea yesterday.”

“I know, but I just don’t feel easy about it. Remember that woman Irma? She came over last night. It was weird, and you know, it has nothing to do with the script. We didn’t even talk about it, but this morning, I just feel uncomfortable with it.”

“Sounds like you need more coffee dude. I’ll talk to you about it later when you’re awake.”

Jake fed his cats and stared some coffee. He thought about Irma and all of the obituaries, then felt the two bug bites on his neck. He pulled on a sweatshirt and sat out on his deck.

The Western was sounding a lot better. Besides he liked horses. He liked them a lot better than bats.

The cats ate their food and Jake sipped his coffee, as the pages of the script were caught by a stray wind and drifted out in the wind over his deck and vanished into the Sunday morning fog.

No, it wasn’t a good time to play Dracula. Maybe it never would be.

~ end

 

tangled-tales

Short Story Sunday at Vampiremaman.com

2020 Juliette Kings

 

Short Story Sunday: Leaving Victor

A new Tangled Tale for October 13, 2019 from Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

Leaving Victor

The Creature watched as the figure in the large overcoat and hat came through the door. The man walked with a slight limp. He smiled at The Creature as he took off his coat and hung it on a peg.

“Igor, you back. Doctor left,” said The Creature.

“Gone for three days. That gives us plenty of time,” said the man with the limp as he took off his hat and shook out his hair.

“Nice do,” said The Creature. “Igor look good.”

“I needed something different.”

“You look like hipster. Short sides. Longer top. Igor look stylish.”

“It isn’t Igor anymore. It never was Igor,” said the man.

“No Igor?”

“Victor called me Igor. It was a derogatory term due to my handicap.” Then he reached around and pulled a pillow out of the back of his shirt. “I won’t be needing this anymore.”

“You straight,” said The Creature.

“Physical therapy. Now I just have to use a cane when I’m on uneven surfaces. But listen, my name is, my real name, is Isidore Rassioli. Some of my friends call me Izzy.”

“Izzydore. I like.”

“You need a name too. That damn Victor didn’t even give you a name. What do you want to be called?”

“Don’t know. Never think I could have name.”

“Well I have.” Isidore pulled out an envelope and set it in front of The Creature. “You are now Corbin Jones. Look here. You now have a birth certificate, and a passport.”

“Corbin. Middle?”

“Andrew,”

“Sound good. I like. Why all this?”

“Because, my dear Corbin, it is time for us to leave. Our servitude is over. For years I toiled under Dr. Victor Frankenstein as his assistant. I did all of the research. I formulated the numbers. I came up with the key ideas, theories, and every thesis. I even wrote his lecture notes. The only reason he has tenure at the university is because of me. All the while he called me Igor and took advantage of my lack of confidence. Well no more. I am not ugly. I am not stupid. I am not a cripple.”

“Looking good Isidore. You smart. I always say that.”

“And so are you Corbin. So are you.

“Passport say American. Why?”

“Because dear Corbin you are a man of an astoundingly diverse heritage. Your body is Italian, built like Michelangelo’s David. Unfortunately the first owner was crushed in an automobile accident. Fortunately we were able to find a perfect fit for a new right arm and shoulder from a murdered Ethiopian gun smuggler. Your left brain is Irish Catholic and your right brain is Ashkenazi Jew. Your head is generic Caucasian, from an American who lost it to an unfortunate run in with a machete. You look like of like Chris Evans, you know, Captain America, sort of but I think better looking. Your ears don’t match, but nobody looks at ears unless they’re unusually large, and yours aren’t.”

“What about her?” Corbin asked, looking over at a closed door.

“The woman? Her body is from a woman who was of English, Welsh, and German decent. She was involved in an unfortunate industrial accident that took off the top of her head. Her scalp and brain are Korean. I’m not sure where those came from. Her heart is First Nation Canadian. Jesus Christ, I can’t make this stuff up. The two of you are true citizens of the world.”

From behind the closed door came a woman. She was striking with one brown eye and one hazel eye. Her long black hair was pulled up into a messy bun on the top of her hair. She wore jeans and an oversized sweater the color of the evening sky.

“Izzy. Did you get my papers?” Asked the woman.

“I did. Here you go Rochelle.”

“Oh my goodness it is good to hear my name. Rochelle. Wow.”

She opened her envelope and looked down upon the birth certificate. Rochelle Patti Smith. She’d picked out the name herself. Her own name. Not Eve or Lilith as Victor wanted to call her, but Rochelle. Patti Smith was after her favorite musician. Rochelle was just because she’s always liked the name somewhere in her distant past that she couldn’t quite remember.

“I have my bag packed,” said Rochelle.

“Good,” said Isidore.

“Where we go?” Corbin asked.

“Orange County, California, the United States of America. I got a job teaching at the Biology Department at UC Irvine.”

“UC?” Corbin asked.

“University of California,” said Isidore. “I have my PhD. This is a great opportunity. Plus we’re not going to be alone. My brothers Sal and Perry own a body shop in Long Beach.”

“They make people too?” Rochelle asked.

“No, cars. They repair cars. Automobiles.”

Six Years Later

Corbin, Rochelle, and Isidore lived in a house walking distance from the beach. It was a good life.

Corbin obtained his GED, took two years at the Community College and got into California State University Long Beach majoring in Political Science. With the help of a speech therapist he now spoke without a trace of hesitation. His girlfriend owned a surf shop and had taught him how to swim.

Rochelle was now in Law School at UC Irvine. She dated a movie producer.

Isidore was a popular teacher. Often he’d walk the beach with his dogs Ramble and Corky, and ponder the meaning of life. Not so much his life, but life in general.

He’d never even thought of making any more conglomerates of reanimated body parts and calling them human beings. Corbin and Rochelle were enough. They were miracles who’d been rescued from spending their new lives shut up in a laboratory to be poked and prodded. Now they were free. Maybe they even had souls. God knows they lived their lives like they did.

Victor had approached Rochelle a few years back, like an abusive stalker waiting to bring his woman back where she belonged. She told him that she’d call the police if he ever approached her again.

Victor had told her, “You ungrateful sewed together bitch. I made you. You belong to me.”

Rochelle said, “No Victor, I made me. I made the women I am today.”

A small note on the online news sites stated that the body of famous biologist Dr. Victor Frankenstein had been washed up on a beach just south of Santa Barbara. Corbin, Rochelle, and Isidore never talked about it. They didn’t need to.

The thought of Rochelle standing up for herself made Isidore smile. He wanted that for all of his students. It had taken years for him to stand up for himself.

As he watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean a peace settled over Isidore.

“Come on boys,” he called to his dogs. Then he stood up straight and planted his cane in the sand. “I’m done with crutches my dear dogs. Let’s go home.”

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

 

 

 

 

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