Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Tenant

            “So you’re just going to put your stuff in the hallway,” asked 2015.
            “Yeah, my moving guys are supposed to pick it all up in the morning,” said 2014.
            “Cool. Cool. So, there’s not much stuff there,” said 2015
            “Well, I really didn’t do too much, so there just wasn’t much to put together,” said 2014 as he shrugged.

            2015 stepped around 2014’s tattered brown cardboard boxes. The boxes had strange stains on them in various places. The majority of the stains looked like blood marks to 2015.

            “What’s all that,” asked 2015, pointing to a particularly heavily blood stained box.

            2014 barely looked up from the box he was taping closed marked LOVE LETTERS and sort of smirked.

            “That was mostly summer in Chicago and well, other places around the U.S.,” said 2014.
            “Sheesh, do you think I’ll have any boxes like that after my lease is up,” asked 2015.

            2014 shrugged again and pushed the LOVE LETTERS box out into the hallway. He moved the box marked SEX SCANDALS further down the hall toward the elevators. That was the one he was worried the movers were going to forget. It seemed like everybody forgot those after a while.

            “I saw you had some new mail in the mailbox downstairs,” said 2015.
            “Yeah, it’s probably for all the folks that die before my lease ends. Don’t worry about those, we’ll share them a little,” said 2014.
            “Were you this nervous when you moved in,” asked 2015.
            “Actually, I wasn’t. I was already pretty pessimistic when I took the job so I really didn’t have any anxiety about it. But I am nervous for you. This is going to be a weird one,” said 2014.
            “You think so,” asked 2015.
            “Oh yeah, totally weird. But don't dwell on it.”

            2015 looked around the small apartment. It was dusty and a little dingy. There wasn’t very much light coming in through the large windows that faced the street below. The air was just heavy.

            “You didn’t dust,” asked 2015.
            “Oh, I did. But you’ll discover that that fine layer of dust never goes away. No matter how often you try and wipe it away, it just shows up again. Just try not to let it build up too much or it’ll get into other things and really muck up the works. In fact, that’s my only advice as you take this apartment over, try not to let things get too cluttered. Clutter leads to chaos,” said 2014.
            “Well, I’ll try,” said 2015.

            2014 looked around the room without much concern, patted his pants pockets, found the keys and handed them over to 2015.

            “Okay pal, I’m just about out of here. I’m going to go down to the bar for a few drinks before the lease officially ends. Do you want to join me for a few?”

            2015 took the keys and shrugged.

            “Sure. Why not? I could probably use a few drinks before this gets going,” said 2015.
            “Atta boy,” said 2014.

            2015 turned a light on in the apartment and followed 2014 down the stairs and outside to the bar around the corner.

Monday, December 22, 2014


            The children were screaming and running and far too excited about their Christmas school break. The park was alive with children as Edgar shuffled along its outer rim. Usually on Mondays he could leisurely stroll along the border of the park, feed the squirrels and then head back home before it got too cold. He’d been able to do it a lot more often these days due to the unseasonable warmth. Now that the kids were out of school for their holiday break, Edgar wasn’t even sure he wanted to enter the park. There were just too many kids running around like little maniacs and Edgar didn’t want to lose his balance on his cane and fall if one of the little rug-rats happened to nudge him or just scare him as they ran by. He’d forgotten how much time kids got off from school these days. He remembered back when he was a boy, 80 years ago, he only got Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off from school. Now these kids seemed to have weeks and weeks off.

            Edgar started to turn back from the park and decided he’d head up toward the coffee place that all the young people sit and type on their laptops. He thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so crowded today since it was two days before Christmas. It was always too crowded and he hated going in there, but they had such delicious coffee. He just hated going in there when it was crowded because he hated being the old man that everyone had to wait for. He didn’t really mind being old most days, but when he was in the way of the younger folks, he could just feel their impatience with him burning the back of his neck. He remembered how he had felt when some old coot was in line in front of him when he was a young man. He remembered the impatience he’d felt as some feeble codger was trying to make their way through the checkout line at the store. So he understood that maybe the young folks didn’t have the patience for him nowadays.

            The children at the park screaming with Christmas break joyfulness started to fade. Edgar thought that the lack of any snow must be unfortunate for the kids these days. He felt like all his childhood winters were completely snow bound. He remember years of snowball fights with the other neighborhood boys and girls, the sledding, the ice skating at Miss Jean’s pond, the constant fluttering of snow falling, endlessly falling all through the Christmas season. Now these kids just had muddy, damp fields to run around in without snow. Edgar had heard it had something to do with the climate, but he’d really stopped paying attention to the news after Margaret had died. She was the real newshound, not Edgar. Margaret would pour over the morning paper all day and watch all the TV news shows. She always wanted to know what was going on in the world. Edgar really just wanted to relax and not get too involved in the goings-on of the world. It was going to roll on without him at some point and he didn’t much care to think about it too much. But he did remember Margaret telling him, “one day Edgar, there won’t be any snow at Christmas because of this Global Warming and Climate Change”. Who know then that she’d be right? Edgar sort of smiled as he walked. Margaret was always right, who was he kidding.

            The coffee shop around the corner was one of those chain coffee spots, but the prices were pretty decent. Edgar walked in and was immediately oppressed by the very loud Christmas music blasting from the store’s overhead speakers. It was The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, if you wanted to go completely deaf apparently. Edgar stood at the doorway for a moment and look up toward the smiling cashier girl at the counter. She had said something to Edgar but he couldn’t hear her because of the loud Christmas music.

            “Pardon me,” he yelled.

            The girl at the counter frowned at him. He hadn’t expected her to frown. Maybe she hadn’t heard what he said so he said it again, louder.

            “Pardon me young lady,” he shouted.

            She was still frowning but pointed at Edgar to get in line; which was only three people deep. Edgar nodded and limped slowly with his cane toward the back of the line.  He was glad the place wasn’t crowded. The middle aged woman in front of him, very wide in the hips, so wide that he big winter coat appeared to have tiers, turned in front of Edgar and smiled. Edgar smiled back. The music was still far too loud for Edgar but he was sure he saw the middle aged woman say something to him. She looked at him and then pointed at her own ear and said something again. It struck Edgar why it was so loud. He had his hearing aid turned up way too high and it was emitting a terrible peal. No wonder The Most Wonderful Time of the Year was so unbearable.

            Edgar took out his hearing aid and turned the volume down to a normal level and put it back in his ear.

            “Sorry, I usually turn it up when I go for a walk so I can hear all the traffic and such,” said Edgar apologetically.
            “No problem, my mother does it all the time,” said the Middle aged woman in front of Edgar.
            “Thank you for telling me it was squealing so much,” said Edgar.
            “No trouble at all. Merry Christmas,” said the Middle aged woman as she turned back toward the counter.
            “Yes, Merry Christmas to you too,” said Edgar.

            Edgar felt like a stupid old man suddenly. He let himself fall into that fantasy where he wasn’t 88 years old, but he was still young. He didn’t feel old. He didn’t feel like this would be his 88th Christmas on this Earth. He looked at his gnarled knuckles on his left hand as it gripped his cane with such tightness. His hands didn’t feel weak, just his knee really. That why he got the stupid cane, plus he’d always wanted a cane like those proper English gentlemen he’d always read about with their classy walking sticks. His cane was from Walgreen’s but still, it was black and Edgar thought it did the job.

            “Sir? Sir? Can I take your order,” asked the young girl at the counter.

            Edgar looked up from his hands to see that the two people in front of him were gone off to the side, waiting to get their coffee orders. At least there wasn’t anyone behind him to tell him to hurry up or to, “move it old man”.  Edgar stepped up toward the counter.

            “I’m sorry,” he apologized, wondering why he was apologizing just for getting old, “I’ll have that middle size mint chocolate coffee please,” said Edgar.
            The young woman looked a little surprised that Edgar knew what he was talking about as far as flavors of coffee and sizes. He’d studied the menu before and had heard other people order in the past so he knew how it was done.

            “Name,” asked the young girl.
            “Edgar,” he said.

            She wrote his name on the mid-sized cup. She took his four dollars and twenty five cents and then she smiled at him.

            “Thank you,” she said and she turned to the barista.

            Edgar smiled back a little and then shuffled toward the front windows and sat down at one of the tables with a view of the street and the park. The shop windows were decorated with various Christmas lights and garland and were actually pretty tasteful. Edgar looked out toward the park; over his head Frosty the Snowman was doing something on the speakers, the noise of the coffee machines blending things together. Edgar leaned forward a bit on his chair and cane. It had started snowing every so lightly outside. The small flakes were drifting down gently, almost so you wouldn’t notice. Edgar leaned back in his chair, he thought about Margaret and how beautiful she looked all lit up by the Christmas tree lights glow. He thought about rolling around in the snow with her before their first daughter was born. He thought about how the house would smell of gingerbread and pine tree at Christmas time.  He thought about the snow piling up, burying the city, deeper and deeper until no one could get anywhere and all they could do was just enjoy the things they had.

            “Edgar,” called the young woman’s voice.

            Edgar rose slowly from his seat and picked up his coffee from the counter.

            “Merry Christmas,” said the young woman.
            “Merry Christmas to you to,” smiled Edgar.

            He went back to his table, sat down, watched the snow start to thicken on the sidewalk and did indeed feel like his 88th Christmas might be a merry one. Indeed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Half steps and Half measures,
half cups,
half thought out,
half wits.

Half tries,
half assed,
half way,
half moments.

Half made,
Half empty,
Half full,
half caff.

Half dollar,
Half cent,
Half time,
Half sense.

Half a second,
Half a moment,
Half after,
Half pay.

Half way,
Half closed,
Half open,
Half shown.

Half is a crazy
appearing word after
you type it over and
over again.

But that’s just one way of
looking at it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Late Monday

Fold it up,
Put it away,
Close the drawer,
Put papers in order.

Get your coat,
Get your hat,
Get your scarf,
Get your umbrella.

It was dark when
you arrived,
It is dark while you

Shuffle in the crowd,
Weave through the masses,
Find your space, your seat,
your car, your train.

Close your eyes,
Dwell on it,
Let it go.

Play your game,
plug in the music,
Read the words,

Don’t think about
all the time spent thinking
about time spent thinking about
the time it’ll take.

It’s late Monday
and Tuesday will
come with fresh torments
or joys whether you want
it to or not.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

They Go Together

             “I think I want to see other kinds,” said Peanut Butter.
            “What,” asked Grape Jelly.
            “I mean, it’s just a big world out there and I just feel like we’re not who we used to be,” said Peanut Butter.
            Jelly put down his coffee mug and stared at Peanut Butter. She looked away from him and down at the bread on her plate.

            “But, we go together. I mean, we just… go together,” said Jelly.
            “I know how you must feel but I just wonder if there’s more out there than just grape,” said Peanut Butter.
            “More than just grape?”

            Peanut Butter stood from the kitchen table in the breakfast nook they had decorated together. She went to the sink and put her plate down. She looked out the window.

            “I asked you what more is out there than grape,” asked Jelly.
            “I didn’t want this to be so hard,” said Peanut Butter.
            “Just tell me,” said Grape.

            Peanut Butter turned and faced Jelly. She wiped her soft hair offer her forehead.

            “I mean, we’ve been the same for so long. We’ve just done it over and over again without any variation. I don’t think I can do it anymore,” said Peanut Butter.
            “What? I mean, do you want to try Rye maybe,” asked Jelly.
            “I don’t know. Maybe Rye would be a nice change, but it’s probably more than that,” said Peanut Butter.
            Jelly rubbed his chin and pushed his hair back.

            “Where is this coming from,” asked Jelly.
            “It’s just time,” said Peanut Butter.
            “I can change. I can be different for you,” said Jelly.

            Jelly moved toward Peanut Butter but she pulled away.

            “You can’t change. That’s just it. You’ll always just be who you are and can’t be any different,” said Peanut Butter.
            “I want to be different for you. You’re everything to me. Without you I’m just nothing,” said Jelly.
            “You need to get out there too. Try new things,” said Peanut Butter.
            “I don’t want to try new things. It’s us; it’s Peanut Butter and Jelly. That’s how it is,” said Jelly.
            “It doesn’t have to be. What if I want to try Strawberry or orange or even apricot,” asked Peanut Butter.
            “You’ve been talking to Strawberry,” asked Jelly.
            “No. No I haven’t been talking to anyone. I’ve just been wondering what it might be like to be with someone else,” said Peanut Butter.

            Her eyes were dampening with tears and she looked away from Jelly. Jelly sat back down at the table and felt his heart beating heavy in his chest. He felt at a loss for words. He felt that the thing he’d trusted and believed in for so long was being pulled away from him.

            “What do you want me to do,” asked Jelly.    
            “I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I am leaving by lunchtime. It’s just what I have to do. I’ve tried so hard with us, but it’s always going to be the same,” said Peanut Butter.
            “I don’t want you to go,” said Jelly.
            “It’s hard for me too. Harder than you can imagine. But I really think it’s what’s best for the both of us,” said Peanut Butter.

            Peanut Butter wiped her eyes and wiped her hands on her pajama bottoms. She looked at Jelly, sadly sitting at the table. Defeated. He was slumped forward. Fighting the urge to start bawling.

            “I’m sorry it has to be this way,” said Peanut Butter.

            Jelly looked blankly at the kitchen table. He couldn’t find anything to say. He was just lost in memories and smiles and all the wonderful times they’d had together. He felt an anger bubbling inside but he swallowed it, knowing to get angry with Peanut Butter would only make things worse. He looked up from the table toward Peanut Butter.

            “I understand that you need this. I’ll be here when you’re ready,” said Jelly.

            Peanut Butter sobbed slightly under a heavy sigh. She turned to the doorway and walked out of the kitchen. Jelly picked up his coffee mug and took a cold, bitter sip.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Who Said What

"Sometimes I'm torn between art and reality," he said.
"Sometimes I'm torn between the reality of art," I said.
"Sometimes I'm torn between art and money,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between money and cigarettes,” I said.

“Sometimes I’m torn between cigarettes or food,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between food or booze,” I said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between booze or friendship,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between friendship or love,” I said.

“Sometimes I’m torn between love or sex,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between sex or sleep,” I said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between sleep or TV,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between TV or reading,” I said.

“Sometimes I’m torn between reading or pornography,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between pornography or laundry,” I said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between laundry or dusting,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between dusting or sitting around doing nothing,” I said.

“Sometimes I’m torn between sitting around doing nothing or…,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m torn between, wait… what did you say,” I asked.
“Sitting around, I think I can totally sit around and do nothing,” he said.
“So, you just want to sit around,” I asked.

“Sure, I’m actually pretty good at it,” he said.
“Son of a… what happened to art,” I asked.
“Sucks to art, my couch is comfy,” he said.
“Surely you can’t believe that,” I said.

“Sometimes I sit, and do nothing, and believe it’s art,” he said.
“Sometimes I want to punch you,” I said.
“Sometimes you should,” he said.
“Sometime, I will.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Empty Fridge Mockery

Food, oh, food,
where have you gone?
In my belly?
To the trash?

Chilly reception
as I open the door,
light flickers on,
exposing bare racks.

The grumble of my
stomach and the insistence
of my brain that I eat.
Eat, damn you, eat!

There’s milk,
there’s water,
there’s three pieces of bacon,
there’s a hot dog.

Lots of eggs though,
so many eggs. I could
make omelets or eggs
over-well. Or an egg sandwich.

Half used onion could have
potential, there’s mayo,
there’s some bread,
maybe the fridge isn’t so barren.

Old Mother Hubbard
has raided my cupboard
and my fridge is really bare.

Wait, I found salsa verde,
never mind.  Joke's on you fridge,
joke's on you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Handle With Care

Contents are delicate,
do not shake,
or otherwise.

Contents are vulnerable
to pressure,

Contents may include:

Contents are dangerous,
Do not use near open flames or
Keep out of reach of children and
small animals,
Rose colored glasses may be required
for operation.

Contents may cause:
Exhaustion, frustration, confusion,
misunderstandings, fear,
happiness, joy, peace, rage and

Refer to manufacturer for any quality
issues or replacement parts.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


To get there on time,
to keep the rain away,
to meet the right one,
to show the right path.

To make it good,
to make it right,
to make it worth and while,
to make it easy.

To do the best,
to avoid the worst,
to be loved,
to miss the scorn.

To find the way,
to hide the bad,
to expose the good,
to finish.

To start,
to handle it,
to welcome,
to be welcomed.

To enjoy the moment,
to forget the past,
to live fully,
to pass easily.

To pray that prayers
are answered.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It Is That Day to Remember

             November 5th is perfect date for the political unrest now rearing in the United States. It is no coincidence to me that it’s Guy Fawkes Day in Great Britain. “Remember, remember, the 5th of November. The Gunpowder Treason and plot; I see of no reason why Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot”. As we all know from the movie V for Vendetta, (and maybe a history class or two) Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament and King James I but was stopped when he was arrested before he could carry out his deed. The motivations for this attempt were likely varied, but according to Guy’s confession, it was his hope to kill the King, install his daughter Elizabeth as Queen and return England to a Catholic country rather than Protestant.

            He’d managed, before being caught, to place 36 barrels of gunpowder under the Palace of Westminster. I’d say that’s one heck of a bold plan to restructure a government, but the point was certainly made. The people of England remembered the fifth of November and Guy Fawkes as a sort of symbol against the possibility of tyranny and it’s been celebrated ever since 1605.  Even if his efforts were slightly horrifying and misguided.

            I don’t mean to draw any direct parallels to Guy Fawkes or his attempt to blow up the government of England, but I can’t help but feel similarly let down by the Mid-Term election results from yesterday.  In what I would consider a very shocking turn, most Governor seats, U.S. Senate seats and House of Representatives seats went to the Republican Party, or as more commonly referred to as The G.O.P. (Grand Old Party if anyone was wondering). This was a shock to me because in the last 30 years I’ve seen the Republican Party go from the party of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower turn into a strange amalgam of special interest, financially motivated, old white men, with a strange belief that the United States can somehow stop the future and return this country to 1950.

            I don’t believe that going backwards a reasonable or rational way to plan for the future of this country. We cannot go forward as a society, as a people, by hanging on to the images, philosophies and vestiges of the past. I had hoped the Democrats would have been smart enough to present a clear idea of a future in which all Americans really do have access to the greatest healthcare in the world and at a reasonable cost. I would have hoped they could have presented their platforms of equal pay for women, prescriptions for birth control, minimum wage increases, assault weapon bans, job growth and economic stability more clearly to the American people. They didn’t and the Republicans took advantage of that with muddy messaging and fear mongering. No one is coming to take your guns away. No one is coming to restrict your right of free speech. No one is coming to take your right to worship away. These are completely imagined fears. No one is practicing Socialism. No one is attempting to impose Sharia law over us. Those thoughts, those beliefs, are misplaced.

            I’m scared that this Republican controlled government will pull back from the equal rights of homosexuals, minorities and women that were so hard fought over the last 20 years. I am a fan of family values; I think they are important in the raising of any child. However I don’t want my government telling me what family values I should have. Or even, what a family is.

            I don’t want my government overwrought with religious fundamentalists, be they Christian, Evangelical, Protestant, Muslim or Rastafarian. I agree with the Founding Father’s that Church and State should be separate. I don’t like it when either party representative, Republican or Democrat, says anything about God, or praying on what to do next, or trying to emphasize that America was founded by Jesus and science isn’t real but what’s in the Bible about creation is the only true version of history. That scares the crap out me. I don’t like the anti-intellectual movement within the Republican Party. I don’t like that they seem to have their own facts about everything without any of it being remotely true. There’s almost a culture of scientific denial within the Republican Party, from denying Evolution to Climate Change, regardless of what the thousands of respected scientists and doctors with immense amounts of data say.

            That sort of denial, based out of the fear of change, really scares me and it makes me feel slightly hopeless. It makes me worry for the future of our Country and the educational advancement of our children. If a Senator from Kentucky (I’m not specifically picking on Mitch here) says the Bible is the only true version of history, then I don’t need that engineering degree and can just put my faith in God that everything will totally work out. That’s just irresponsible leadership if you ask me. Any sort of closed-mindedness in leadership is a terrible idea; being closed to other ways of thinking leads to a stagnation of ideas, growth and progress.  It’s a rote acceptance of the status quo.

            I don’t really mind that you own a gun but I don’t think a civilized nation should really need to conceal and carry them. I don’t think a nation of civil people need high powered automatic weapons to settle their disagreements. I think there should be more legislation to keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally incompetent or psychologically impaired through a nationwide system of background checks. I’m not saying you can’t have a gun, I’m saying you have to prove you’re sane enough to use it responsibly, if you can, great, have as many as you want. I don’t expect you, the sane gun owner, to go and shoot up a school or their place of work. In fact, the idea of using your gun for anything other than home defense makes you want to throw up. I fear however, that under Republican leadership, the gun restrictions that have been established, like the old Brady Bill, will be swept away through the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups.

            I still believe in the United States of America. I am a law abiding citizen. And yet, I’m afraid of the less moderate members of The Republican Party. I know not all Republicans are Bible beating, war mongering, greedy, anti-intellectuals. There are always exceptions to the generalities. It is however, those individuals as described above, that do scare me. They scare me enough to write this piece and liken this recent election to Guy Fawkes near attempt to destroy a government he felt had lost its way. It’s almost how I feel about this American experiment of Democracy within a Republic. We’ve been scared enough to think that going backwards, to old policies, to old ways of thinking is the safest way forward. Well, I don’t think it’s safe. I think it’s foolish.

It’s easy to stay safe and not try something new, the other guy’s idea. Being a Liberal takes some guts. It takes guts to want equal rights/equal pay for all Americans; it takes guts to stand up to the antiquated notions of the past and demand a cost-effective healthcare system in the most powerful nation on Earth. It takes guts to try something new, a new approach to things. It takes guts to step back and say, “Hey, maybe I should hear this guy out before yelling over him because I fundamentally don’t believe in what he believes. I’ll listen”.

And I guess that’s why I’m disappointed, much like Guy Fawkes, I’m sad that fear and money won this election over new ideas and hope. I can only hope, under the Republican controlled House and Senate, and even within a lot of State Legislations, we can keep an eye on the future of this country and not one looking backwards. I can hope that the diversity of American beliefs proves to be our greatest strength and the goals of this great nation, for the good of its people, can be accomplished.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just November

November’s knuckles
were gnarled and raw,
knotty and bulbous,
resembling a garlic bulb.

November was left out
in the rain, in the cold wind,
stumbling through earlier

November’s hunched shoulders
and drooped arms under
the bitterness of grey

November’s barren arms,
empty of any reaching,
blown clear by emerging
sharp and frosty breezes.

November’s neck, sore from
trying, feeling the weight
grow ever heavier, the pulse
of cooling blood throbbing.

November shuffles from one
foot to the next, standing in place,
trying to remember what warmth was,
what sunshine and sapphire skies were like.

November’s cheeks, ruddy and pot marked,
sand and dirt blasted, eyes bloodshot,
foggy and muddled.
An ache lingering everywhere all over.

November is November’s nightmare.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Decorated - The Halloween Story

             The table was decorated with all the Halloween finery Jim could muster. Spider cakes and Gummy Worms, Spaghetti brain salad, baby back ribs, Frankenstein Jell-O mold, monster napkins and party cups and a ratty looking Old Miss Havisham table cloth and candelabra. It was lit under a blood red light fixture draped with spider webs and gooey looking drippings. The dining room was festooned in black and purple bunting and the orange and black streamers coiled along the ceiling. The family photos on the walls were replaced with eerie holograms of phony ghostly old world photos.

            The front room was decked out in similar creepy fashion, severed limbs for arm rests on the couch, a bed sheet ghost hung carefully in the corner above the little smoke machine. A thin mist rolled along the front room floor up to a bubbling cauldron of punch. Jim was quite satisfied that his Halloween party would be the best one of the year. He’d spared no expense on little frights throughout the house. He even managed to find little sensors with motion activation speakers that screamed whenever someone went into the bathroom. He was sure it would be hilarious. He checked his watch and still had two hours before any guests would arrive. Plenty of time for him to get ready in his headless horseman costume. He’d gone to an old Opera house’s costume sale and he purchased one of the finest made costumes. It was all gold epaulets and blue velvet. It looked like it was straight out of Sleepy Hollow.

            The vampire clock in the kitchen hallway chimed the six o’clock hour with a sinister laugh. Jim chuckled and rubbed his hands together with excitement. He had no doubt whatsoever that this Halloween party would be the one people talked about for years to come. Whenever people thought about Halloween they’d think of his awesome party. He knew it would be great and all the sexy costumed girls would be ready to drop their panties for him all night, either out of fear or totally drunken compliance. It couldn’t be better.

            Jim went through his scary music collection by the stereo and removed all the terrible Halloween songs, Thriller and the Monster Mash would not be included in his party. He’d downloaded the music from the Exorcist and other terrifying movies, but not that ridiculous Michael Meyers music though. He hated that one. It was so over played at Haunted Houses and people got bored of it very quickly. He’d play chilling songs that slowly escalated into more danceable tunes. Tunes the scantily clad costumed women would enjoy. Jim loved Halloween for giving women permission to dress like complete sluts. He also enjoyed the scare factor, but seeing a woman’s bosom smashed into a sexy corset was an added bonus.

            Jim went on Facebook to check the invite status of his guests. The majority had accepted, with a few maybes. He’d invited mostly women to the party to create a three women to one man ratio. A Halloween party just isn’t a good party if it’s all dudes drooling over the one slutty Zebra or Bumblebee.

            Jim went to the kitchen to check on the hors d’oeuvres of lady fingers that looked like fingers and the cheese shaped like a severed head when there was a heavy knocking at the front door. Jim checked his watch and hoped that no one had come earlier than the expected time. He wasn’t even in costume yet and he didn’t want it to be ruined. He put the severed head cheese back into the refrigerator and went to the front door.

            “I hope it isn’t a guest, here too early,” said Jim as he opened the door.

            He pulled the door open expecting an early guest with some sort of appetizer and an offer to help with the set-up, or maybe it was Julie to surprise him with a pre-party quickie. That would be an awesome Halloween start. Sexy Julie in her barely there toga. That would be awesome. She was a knockout babe. Blonde and sexy, but she had little boobs, but Jim guessed her sexy pouty mouth made up for that.

            Jim looked up at the towering stranger at the door, red burning eyes, mouth open exposing rotting teeth and emitting an odor of burning death. The stranger’s white skull was exposed above his left eye and a worm could be seen wriggling just at the edges of the scalp.

            “Whoa, that’s a great costume! Are you trick or treating or here for the party? If you’re here for the party you’re just a bit too early as I’m not nearly ready,” said Jim.

            The stranger looked down at Jim and groaned and a beastly tongue poked out between his teeth.

            “So trick or treating then. No problem, I have tons of great candy. Hold on a second,” said Jim as he laughed slightly. It was a great costume this guy had.

            Jim turned back toward the stranger with some Kit-Kats and Starbursts. He offered the candy out toward the stranger. The stranger lifted his right arm and drove a hatchet into Jim’s face. Jim screamed as the blade pierced through his forehead and severed his nose in two. He staggered backwards against the hallway table, decorated with eyeballs and witches, knocking it to the ground. The stranger stepped over Jim and struck him again with the hatchet, separating Jim’s lower jaw from the rest of his face. The lower mandible hung sickly as Jim gurgled on his own thick blood. The stranger picked Jim up from the floor and flung him into the front room onto the couch with the severed limb arm rests. Blood splashed the floor and the couch as Jim smacked into the furniture.

            The monstrous stranger stepped further into the house and slammed the door behind him. Jim reached up to his mangled face and tried to put his lower jaw back to where it had been prior to answering the door. He felt the warm blood on his hands and smelled the coppery scent of it. He tried to scream but the blood was too thick in his throat and he started to choke. The stranger loomed over him, hatched raised to deliver the last bloody blow. He brought it down hard on Jims remaining face and caved in Jim’s forehead. Jim’s last thought was of Julie in her sexy toga. Why hadn’t it been Julie at the door?

            The stranger pulled the hatched from Jim’s dead face and sat down next to him. He pulled Jim’s body close and started stroking the bloody remnants of Jim’s head as an elderly woman would stroke a pet cat. The stranger drooled over the late Jim through a lipless mouth. He pulled Jim’s body over his lap and used the hatchet to cut into Jim’s abdomen. He pulled out Jim’s organs and splashed them around the couch and the front room. He stood and pulled Jim’s body through the house by his large intestine, spilling blood and bile and stomach acid across the previously polished hardwood floors. The red-eyed stranger then hung Jim’s body in a closet and shut the door.

            Julie arrived at eight o’clock on the dot. She wanted to be the first one at the party to flirt with Jim a little before the other sluts got there. She knew Jim was popular with the ladies, especially since his promotion to vice-president of finance at the brokerage house he worked at. She wanted to get in on that sweet VP money if she could and maybe she’d learn to love Jim after that, but that breast augmentation surgery wasn’t going to be cheap.

            Julie walked up Jim’s front porch carefully, her toga costume was very short, and one miss-step and the whole neighborhood would have a clear view of her private parts. She didn’t really want to give some little eight year old trick or treater a puberty forming treat unintentionally. She got to Jim’s door and rang the bell. A witch screamed and it sounded cheap to Julie’s ear. Too electronic to be scary. She waited a moment and then knocked. She hoped Jim would be ready for her. She straightened her top and tried to look sexy in the doorway.

            The door creaked open and she looked up at blood red eyes staring at her from the dimness of the foyer. The smell was unbearable and Julie took a step back. A hand reached out from the darkness around her throat and pulled her inside. The door slammed behind her. She strained to wriggle free but she was off her feet and she could feel her windpipe being crushed. She opened her eyes in the face of the rotting monster. The beast growled at her and stabbed her in the chest with a butcher’s knife. The beast pulled the blade down her body and opened her up to her legs. Blood poured out of her, flooding the floor like a biblical red sea.

             The monster tossed her body across the room where she folded awkwardly backwards. Her head on the floor next to her bottom. Her legs splayed in front or her. There was no last second gurgle from Julie. No last thought of Jim or his money for new boobs.

The stranger/beast/monster/thing from Hell’s nightmare breathed heavily and waited. It waited for the rest of the guests to arrive and give them the Halloween party they’d never forget for as long as they lived. However brief that may be.

                                                 The End?

Happy Halloween everybody!!!! Be careful who you answer the door for!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Noise Upstairs

             Connor pulled the blankets up to his chin and squeezed his eyes shut. The noises coming from the living room on the floor above his bedroom were getting worse. The thudding and the screaming were louder than other nights. It was constant and aggressive rather than the occasional thud or bang or half whispered yell. He wished it would stop so he could just get to sleep. Connor heard something break, something like glass and the shouting and shuffling stopped for a moment. Connor took a deep breath and hoped it was over. He hoped the glass breaking, or whatever broke would be the end of it. He heard a door slam and heavy footsteps pound down the front stairs outside. He heard a car start and it squeal away down the street.

For the moment at least, it was over. Connor sighed and relaxed a little bit. He thought he could finally get to sleep and stop being so scared. Tomorrow was the big fourth grade Halloween party and he wanted to be well rested for it. He was dressing up as a cowboy, complete with a cap gun and cool cowboy hat. He hoped it would impress Mary. Connor had such a crush on her. She was his little blue eyed blonde hair gal and he wished they could just run away together and live in peace somewhere in the woods. He’d build them a little wood cabin and they could live together in love and kindness.

            Connor rolled over onto his side and adjusted the covers over his shoulder. It was now very quiet upstairs yet Connor caught himself straining to hear. The sudden silence had started to gnaw at him. He opened his eyes in his dark bedroom and quieted his breath. He could hear a very faint sobbing drifting from the floor above him. A terrible mournful sobbing that filled him with regret for his selfish wish that they’d just stop so he could get to sleep so he could be at his best to impress Mary. Mary, who didn’t even know that Connor had such a huge crush on her, would probably be dressed as a princess. She’d be a beautiful princess and Connor wanted so much for her to notice him. He figured a rough and tough cowboy costume would be that way.

            His mother had suggested he be a robot or Groucho Marx, but Connor wouldn’t hear of it. A cool cowboy was what he had remembered was what Mary liked. So she helped him make a cowboy costume from one of his father’s old flannel shirts, a little brown vest complete with a tin sheriff star, a plastic gun holster and a silver cap gun six shooter with a plastic white handle, made to look like ivory. It was really cool and Connor was sure tomorrow would be the day that Mary would fall madly in love with him.

            A brushing noise came from the floor above his bed along with the glassy tinkle of something being swept off the hardwood. Connor looked up at his ceiling and cringed. He wondered what had been broken. He thought that maybe he should investigate but that might get him into trouble so staying bed would probably be best. He hoped once that sweeping noise was over it would remain quiet and he could get to sleep and hopefully dream of Mary and their cabin in the woods. There wouldn’t be any noises like the ones upstairs in their little wooded cabin. It would always be peaceful and quiet. There wouldn’t be any stomping or screaming or crashing in their home. It would be warm fires in the hearth and quiet conversation all the time. Connor nestled down further into his pillow and tried to ignore the rest of the world so he could finally get to sleep.

            The stomping on the front stairs snapped him from his nearly asleep state. The door unlocked and the stomping over his head started again. There were a few more muffled words. He could never make out what was being said. He could only pick up on the tones. They were almost always angry sounds.  There was more shuffling as the terrible sounds escalated followed by some muffled shushing. It was like living in a haunted house for Connor. It was all noises and sounds of foreboding but he could never actually see what was making those noises. He imagined some long gone argument being reenacted by some lost souls, forever cursed to have the same fight for all eternity.

            The stomping about over his head continued, as if two people were dancing badly at some wedding because they’d had too much wine. It was more balance than actual dancing but no one ever seemed to fall. There was no music either. It was just the hushed words batted back and forth between awkward sounding thuds and bangs. Connor closed his eyes tight again and wished the noise would just stop. Just please stop so the house would quiet down. It was unbearable to hear these sounds almost every night. He longed for laughter or even the gentle hum of the television beaming some dampened tin can laugh track into the house.

            Connor wondered what was going on up there. He wanted to know yet didn’t want to know. It always made him so scared. So scared that he wished he and Mary really could just run away to the woods so he’d never have to hear that awful racket ever again. He wondered if she would go with him, once she realized how totally in love with him she was. It would be so nice to just get away from the noises upstairs.

            A soft clacking sound emanated from above him, as if something was tapping on the floor. It sounded like long, sharp claws rapping on the wood. It beat a rhythm of terror in Connor’s chest and he felt his heart beating hard. This was a new sound. It was unfamiliar. It sounded like something was coming to get him this time. It was persistent and reminded Connor of the terrible story his father had read him from that Poe guy, about the body buried under the floorboards and the murderer hearing the dead man’s beating heart. He wished his father hadn’t read him that story now. A Tell-Tale Heart was the story. Connor regretted asking his father to read it to him.

            The clacking continued, but its beat slowed. Connor shivered in his bed and cowered under his blankets. He hoped it would stop soon. It was getting so late, almost ten thirty, and Connor just wanted it to end. He heard more stomping over the clacking. He heard a deeper muffled voice, a pleading sound. He heard two loud thuds, like someone dropping to their knees followed by more begging sounds. The clacking stopped suddenly.

            A lighter muffled voice, followed by lighter sobbing, and followed by lighter thudding. He listened as the thuds trailed off toward somewhere else above him. They disappeared somewhere in the back of the upstairs floors and then stopped completely. He guessed his parents had finally gone to bed. She'd forgiven him again or just decided to give up. He let his blanket fall from over his head and he peeked out into the darkness of his bedroom. He listened. He held his breath. He sat up on his elbows and listened as hard as he could. It was quiet.

            He could hear a freight train rattling along the train tracks a few miles away and the faint echo of traffic from the streets, but the noises upstairs had stopped. He lay back and let his breath out in a long exhale. He felt so tired; so exhausted by the scary noises upstairs. He felt himself slipping into sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He felt himself dreaming of the silence in the woods, with Mary in his arms, not worrying about money or food, rain or winter.