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At The South Portal

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Photo By: A.M. Moscoso

Photo By: A.M. Moscoso

 

Once I saw a man wearing an expensive business suit and a man in clothes that were torn and dirty – digging a hole together next to the railroad tracks.

I couldn’t imagine under what circumstances these two could ever have met, talked and decided one morning to go out with shovels and start to dig as trains roared and hissed by them, as crows lined the barbed wire topped fence that they climbed-

just so that they could up digging side by side

next to the railroad tracks early one Monday Morning.

When I drove by eight hours later the men were gone and the shovel was resting right there next to the fence.

It was there two days later when I drove by and it was still there a week later and I started to wonder by the third week

about the man in the suit and the homeless man digging side by side next to the railroad tracks.

I went out one Sunday just after sunrise and stood next to the shovel, and then I actually touched the shovel and I wondered about those two men.

And I took the shovel in my hands and laughed and then I put it back and scaled the fence and dropped to the other side and when I did there was a man standing there.

He asked me what I was doing and I told him about the Well Dressed Man and the Not So Well Dressed Man digging through all that rock and hard packed earth.

” Crazy ” said the man.

” No kidding.” I agreed.

” So what do you suppose they were digging for? “

I laughed some more just to show that it didn’t really matter to me.

And then I turned back to the fence and grabbed at it and said, ” We’ll need another shovel “

Photo By: A.M. Moscoso

Photo By: A.M. Moscoso

Written by Anita Marie

June 21, 2009 at 2:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Miss Dables In 4-A

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Back in 1864, exactly 100 years before she was born the hotel that would one day become an apartment house that Mylee Dabbles would one day call home opened for business. 

On that day in 1864 all of its rooms were freshly painted, the doors had just been hung and the floors creaked and popped as they settled into place.

There was nothing extraordinary about the rooms at the Davenport House- except for a small problem in 4-A.

One of the closet doors  wouldn’t stay shut.

It was always swinging open-

all by itself.

Exactly 144 years to the date Mylee Dabbles turned up at the Davenport and she arrived, as she had promised the Manager, just after dinner on September 5th.

Mr. Teachman- Rodney Teachman the Manager of the Davenport and Mylee Dabbles chatted about Mylee’s trip- most of which she had taken by train- and the weather which was unseasonably cold and then she signed the last of the paperwork and gave him a check for her rent and for her moving in fees.

Rodney asked if she would need any help taking anything up to her place and she pointed to her two suitcases in the hall and told him she could manage.

” Well, I mean if you need help with your furniture of anything big like that. Being you’re up on the fourth floor and we don’t have elevators it’s a task but the Assistant Manager’s sons don’t mind helping new residents out and they’re  used to moving things up and down those narrow stairs, so if you need help just let her know.”

” Oh that. Yes, well thank you for the offer but I’ve got it covered.”

Rodney usually took new tenants to their door but Mylee Dabbles reached out for his hand and gave it a small shake and then she smiled at him and thanked him for letting her in after hours and on his own time.

Rodney Teachman tried to smile back and he couldn’t quite do it- instead he waited until she left and then he went into the bathroom and scrubbed his hands until they were raw.

 

After that first night Rodney only saw Miss Dabbles a few more times- he saw her on the stairs going up to the fourth floor and he also saw her once in the courtyard reading a book.

It was called, ” 101 Magic Tricks Made Easy.”

She was laughing as she read it.

 

It only ever took the tenants of the Davenport 72 hours from the time they first moved in to get into the private lives of the new residents.

Except for this time – no one really had a take on Miss Dabbles- all they had  to say about her was that she was so quiet it was like 4-A was empty and that no one lived there at all.

 

It was on Halloween that Mr. Teachman got a call to 4-C. 

4-C was the Bayer’s place and one of the little  Bayers had jammed something into one of the electrical outlets and now all of the power was out up on the 4th floor.

Everyone up there was annoyed-everyone except for Miss Dabbles.

She was taking her keys out of her bag just as Rodney came up the stairs and she moved just as easily in the dark as anyone else would in a well lit room.

He wasn’t sure why he did it, but Rodney was about to shine his flashlight at her door to help her find the lock when he heard a click.

He lifted the light to her face and saw that she was smiling at him with her mouth, and her teeth…

but not her eyes.

Those were as flat and dark as the blackness around them.

 

Worse then that look was the feeling he got she started to talk. Rodney backed up a little at the sound of her voice and when he realized how foolish he must look he tried to step forward and so did she.

She was still smiling.

” Would you mind taking my rent check with you now Mr. Teachman? I’m going away to visit some friends- they’re only in town for a few days and I must fly. “

” Well, I don’t have my receipt book…”

” Just tape it to the door” she said and then she reached out and pushed at his wrist and the beam from the flashlight went over her shoulder. ” If you don’t mind.”

No I don’t mind doing that, Rodney thought to himself, what I mind is standing here in the dark talking to you and I especially hate the feeling that I have right now that you can see my face and the rest of the hall just as easily in the dark as you can during the daylight.

I don’t think you’re normal Miss Dabbles.

” That’s funny, it usually dogs and sometimes cats who feel that way about me. “

” Excuse me? “

” Nothing, nothing at all, now if you don’t mind I would really to take care of my rent- “

YES I DO MIND his brain screamed and Rodney tried to hold his voice steady and he said, ” not at all.”

Just then the lights clicked on in the hallway and  then all of the lights in the apartments came on…all of the lights except for the ones in  Dabble’s place because…

from where he stood, with the door wide open Rodney could see that there were no lamps in 4-A.

 There were no bulbs in the over head fixtures there wasn’t a single piece of furniture in the living room or a picture hanging on the wall and right next to the entrance way to the kitchen Rodney could see Miss Dabbles two suitcases leaning against the wall.

Rodney could even smell the cleaner that the maintenance people used on the carpets and from the kitchen he caught a whiff of the vinegar and water mixture they used to clean the refrigerators.

” I’ll just grab my bag- it’s on the kitchen counter.” 

Just before she got to the kitchen she looked down the hallway to the back of her apartment.” Oh…you’re early, well I sup…”

Rodney watched her turn the corner and he only waited for a few seconds before  he called out, ” Miss Dabbles? Miss Dabbles?” and then he added ” Are you there Miss Dabbles? “

He walked into the apartment and he looked into the hall Miss Dabbles had just walked down and he could see that the bedroom and bathroom doors were wide open and that both rooms were empty.

Empty of any signs of life- and empty of Miss Dabbles.

And then to his right, in the kitchen he saw the broom closet door swing open and then it shut…

all by itself.

Written by Anita Marie

June 21, 2009 at 2:07 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Lost Thought

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Photo By: A.M. Moscoso

Photo By: A.M. Moscoso

 

If you go to the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle you can visit Sylvester.

He’s famous for being a Mummy.

It’s well earned because as far as Mummies go he’s a good one.

But when I go down to the shop I’ll stand there and stare at him-

like I’ve been doing at least 40 years

and I will look to the people standing next to me as they speculate

and ohh an ahh over the Mummy

 and think:

Does anyone see the

DEAD MAN?

Sylvester

Written by Anita Marie

June 20, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Shrunken

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Photo:A.M. Moscoso
Photo:A.M. Moscoso

” Shrunken”

by a.m. moscoso

” That’s  a fake ” Tourist Number 1 said to Tourist Number 2 as I leaned in and took my picture of the Shrunken Torso.

I stepped on Tourist Number 1’s foot as I tried to get in for a shot and I turned around and said without meaning it, ” Sorry about that.”

” Yeah. Obviously it’s a fake.”

I snapped my picture and decided to take a safety shot when Tourist #2 wondered how they made the fake Torso.

Now.

I’ve been visiting the Shrunken Torso and the Shrunken Heads for almost all of my life and I’m 44 now. So that means I’ve known the Torso longer then most of my friends. I like the Shrunken Torso, I used to have nightmares about it and for years I wouldn’t take pictures of it because I thought it was cursed.

The Shrunken Torso is  a wicked little thing and I adore it.

So I guess that’s why I said, ” Yeah it’s a fake. But it’s cool looking don’t you think?”

They agreed.

” But you know, it’s not the Torso that’s the real curiosity. I mean, in itself it’s not the real story.”

” Oh? So what’s the real story? ” Tourist #1 asked.

You bonehead, I thought to myself.

” Well, it was this thing that this Doctor bought when she was down in South America trying to learn about Homeopathic Medicine, which of course is pretty much all they do in the Jungles you know. So like it was like back in the 1920’s and back then well I guess you know how the medical field was back then.”

They didn’t want to admitt they didn’t know so I enlightened them.

Sort of.

 “Her name was Doctor Hazzard and she used to believe that you could cure people by bloodletting and blistering but she was also believed you could cure any disease by Purging the body of toxins and she did that by using laxatives and lots of them.”

” That’s sick.”

” That was science. Anyway Doctor Hazzard finally got around to this technique- she came up with this new method to rid the body of things like cancer and cravings for alcohol and viruses.

” So what did she do?”

” She put her patients on a strict diet.”

“Seriously That was it?”

” Yep.”

” How did it work?”

” She starved the diseases by starving the body.”

” You mean…”

“I mean, she starved her patients to death. Dozens of them. She was Washington State’s one and only female serial killer.”

” You’re kidding. “

” I’m not laughing her, am I. Regardless, that thing…” I said pointing to the Torso ” was hers. I mean it’s a fake. But you know, it was her’s. And it was after her trip that she opened her clinic out in Kitsap”

” No way, that thing was not hers.”

“Well. It could never have belonged to anyone else. I mean think about it.”

And I am I’ll be willing to bet every time they take a bite of food they will.

 

You can read about the Real Doctor Doctor Linda Hazzard HERE.

She didn’t own Shrunken Heads and Torsos.

That was my idea- but hey, it’s a good one.

Dr Linda Hazzard

Dr Linda Hazzard

Written by Anita Marie

June 18, 2009 at 2:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Alley of Unknown in the Grandfather Zone

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Our family used to leave on car trips in the wee hours of the morning to beat the heat. But I ponder the wisdom of beginning a journey on the back of a donkey at midnight. I’m sure Enchanteur has her reasons. I may as well just let go and go with the flow right now.

“That’s the best idea you’ve had since we left,” Drambuie interjected into my thoughts. “You must be sobering up.”

“You talking to me?” Ms. Gigi pokes her head out of my pocket. “Yo, Sal. You OK? Your voice sounds a little deeper than usual.”

“That’s not me, my dear Ms. G. May I introduce you to Drambuie, our guide and mode of transportation?”

Drambuie turns his head. “Hey, Ms. Gigi. Nice to see you again. How are you feeling? Headache? Hangover?”

“Hey, Sal,” Ms. G whispers. Did you see those nice donkey lips? Betcha that would be one nice kiss!” She gives a quiet gecko guffaw. “Good evening, Sir Drambuie,” she says, drawing the words out in her best Lon Chaney voice. “Actually, I am feeling quite fit though a little dehydrated. I think…I’d like to drink your blood!”

“Then assume the mosquito shape. But be warned…I’m pretty good with this tail. One good flick and I’ll strike you dead. Hey, Ms. G…ya scared? You always joke around when you’re scared.”

“Nah. We’re going to where? The Valley of the Bones? Nothing to be scared of there!” Ms. Gigi bravely retorts.”Nothin’ a-tall…”

A cloak of silence has descended upon the entire group. The only sounds are the occasional “pwwwwwft” of the donkeys in their own language and the sound of their hooves upon the hard packed earth. As we ascend a hill, I can sense the forward lean of all our bodies; as though there is a taut ribbon of energy connecting us through our hearts, pulling us forward.  

We crest the hill and stop unconsciously forming a horizontal line; all gazing down into the Valley of Bones. It’s a waning moon, about three or four days past the full.  It’s enough light to reflect off the bleached white of the bones giving the illusion of bones glowing in the near dark.

One by one, in no particular timing or order, we descend into the Valley. I am the last to go. I am not delaying because of fear. Quite contraire. I am waiting until the right moment arrives. Drambuie moves as if on cue when that magical moment appears.

I close my eyes and raise my arms out from my sides, palms out. I consider what I know about bones. They consist of living and dead cells when still covered with living flesh. Bones are brittle but have some elasticity. They are not uniformly solid but have spaces between hard elements. Inside bones are filled with a porous network of spongy mortal remains that allow room for blood vessels and marrow. Bones are calcified connective tissue.

Hmmm…Bones are calcified connective tissue and I feel I am connected somehow to this Valley of Bones. “What’s up with that?” I am past the thoughtful stage here and have ridden by donkey straight to into Alley of Unknown in the Grandfather Zone. I didn’t know either of my blood grandfathers.

My maternal grandfather passed from tuberculosous when my mother was three years old. His family was from France and Scotland. They tried to take my mother away from my Grandmother when Grandfather Ellwood passed away. I’m not sure what happened, but it was ugly. I eventually met the aunts. One of them had a doll hospital. I saw the house where my mother was born in Eureka, California.

There was only one good picture of him, hanging in the house where Mom was born. It still hangs there, now a cousin taking the house and holding tightly to the picture. He refused to relinquish this beautiful portrait of a man to the man’s daughter. (Oh, that’s where my earlier musing came from.) “What’s up with that?!”

I’ve seen an old photograph of Ellwood, my grandfather. It’s from a distance and he is standing near the top of a tree. He was a logger. The details f his face are blurry, but I can see that his hair falls forward and to the front…just as my mother’s hair does…just as my hair does. It’s with sudden realization that I see where one of my physical features comes from. I recently found another picture of him with my grandmother, Thelma, and Aunt, Jeanne. Mom, Bev, is the youngest.

It is with great resolve that I promise myself to get my mother that portrait of her father!!

My paternal grandfather passed with I was two years old. I remember going to the “big green hospital” to see him just before he died. None of his children would speak of him. Story is that Frank married my Grandma Sally and fathered three daughters.

gpa-frankgma-sally-wed-photo1 

At some point in time, he left the family. Then he returned; had relations with my grandmother; and left again. Oops! There was 11 years between the youngest daughter and the only son.  Meet Frank L., my father.

Dad was 12 years old before he ever set eye on his father. My father had become quite ill and was dying. My grandmother tracked down Grandpa Frank living in a tar paper shack. Dad’s first memory of his father was this:

Grandpa Frank sat Dad down in a chair and stood before him. He rubbed his hands together quickly then held his hands about 18 inches apart. Dad said that there were sparks jumping between Grandpa Frank’s hands. Grandpa Frank stood behind Dad and placed his hands on the top of Dad’s head. He rubbed his hands down each side of Dad’s head, ears, neck; and off his shoulders very quickly and flicked both hands in the air flicking his flangies (fingers) as though ridding himself of some invisible liquid.

Suddenly Dad was well again. That’s one heck of a first meeting with one’s father! I heard later that my grandfather was a famous healer in a place called God’s Garden near Bisbee, Arizone. I have the letter that describes his meeting with the Holy Spirit and being told to heal.

I have a picture of my granfather and Flora, my step-grandmother, standing in the garden. There is a golden glow around Grandpa Frank’s head. If you follow his body down to his feet, his body disappears at the end of his legs. I once took the picture to a kinesthesiologist. She held the photograph between her hands and said she felt sparks jumping between her hands.

This is where I received my healing hands, from my Grandpa Frank. He was a complex man who no one would speak of for they had abandonment issues. He had a twin brother who had no children. He also had two other brothers, Emil and Charles. I don’t know anything about them, if there was children…But I know everything about all the rest of the family back to the branch of our family tree that predates those who immigrated to American from Bavaria in the 1700’s. There is still a family homestead in the family and a stained glass window in a spa with the family crest. 

My cowlick and hair falling forward from my Grandfather Ellwood and my healing hands and sense of humor from Grandpa Frank, the scallywag.

Written by Sally

March 28, 2009 at 5:08 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Can Ya Dig It?

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As I walk away from the potting shed, I turn for one last look. It is yet another picture to capture in my heart. The charm of the A-framed mossy roof and the rustic wooden petiteness brought a feeling of fantasy to the structure. The small porch was more of a lean-to; the bottom made of rattan, the top of randomly curved willow branches. I can’t decide if my favorite feature was the dutch door or the window boxes. On second thought, there could be no favorite feature as it was perftect just as it was… picture perfect.

 “That was one freakin’ fine ride home!” Ms. Gigi said in my ear as she jumped on my shoulder. “Do you have to make that slurpping noise when you lick your eyeball? It’s not one of your best sounds, you know.” I complain.

“You used to like it and think it so cute,” she countered. “Oh, Ms. G. You are cute and I do like it. This is just how I show you I love you, by teasing you.” I reach my hand up to my shoulder. She refuses to get in my hand, acting haughty. “You should shapeshift into a peacock, you’re acting so snooty.” I tease her further.

“Oh, come on, Shizma Sally who I found in the alley.” She walks down my arm from my shoulder to my hand and stops. Her creamcicle body turns and she looks at me. “I do love you, Ms. G. In fact, I’d give you a big kiss ‘cept you got no lips on that smiling mouth of yours!”

 “How ’bout I turn into a big pouty orangatang for ya, Sal? Wanna kiss?” Ms. G. attempts to pucker her lipless mouth and sticks her tongue out like a lizard. Oh, I guess she is a lizard. “So, I guess you were thinking a little too much about germinating seeds when you used the walnut shell to teleport. This doesn’t look at all like the ship!”

“Hush, Ms. G. Don’t give me anymore of your lip!” I feign snappiness. It comes as no surprise to either one of us that we were in the potting shed. How often is one truly in harmony with the earth’s cycles?

We walk down to the ferry, catching it just before departure to the Lost Island of Lenore. I can’t wait to arrive as all that time in the potting shed makes me want to walk. Until then, I am more than satisfied with sitting in a shady spot, feeling the fingers of the ocean breeze running fingers through my hair. I do some heart centered breathing and relax.

The water is a bit rough between the islands today. I’m glad I remembered to bring my ginger and peanut candy to suck on so I don’t get seasick. I was a disgrace as a fisherman’s daughter; getting seasick on the ocean. Except for the day we sprinkled his ashes in the water. The boat licensed to do such things was a no show. Another boat happened to be at the dock and took us out. We passed a seal, an otter, then a dolphin. As we began to throw the ashes into the sea, the captain marked the latitude and longitude. We then marked the location with lei’s, strings of flowers, and made tobacco offerings in the way of the Native Americans. It was tobacco that took his life in the form of lung cancer. Anyway, I didn’t get seasick that day in honor of my father. I know he was proud.

“So, Ms. Gigi…It’s your turn. What would you like to do here?” I offered when we reached the Lost Island of Lenore. “I’ve heard for the past hundred years or so about the boab tree. I would love to climb all over it in gecko form. I bet you’ll like it, too. Come on, I’ll tell you all you need to know while we walk.”

We walk down the path towards a signpost. “Wait. How old are you?” I ask. “Hundreds of years?” “I’m old. That’s all I know. After a hundred fifty years, you lose count. You’re finally not the oldest one at the party.”

“What party?” I ask. Ms. Gigi doesn’t elaborate about the party, but I learn plenty about the baob tree and how every part of the tree is used. The end of the lecture finds us at the baob tree. It’s unlike any other tree I’ve ever seen. I walk under the tree and recline in its shade. The earth sinks a little beneath my body and I feel like I am resting on temperpedic foam mattress. I roll over and place both hands in the dirt. It is so soft, so richly brown. I spy a weed marring the perfect velvety patch of earth. It’s got to go. I wrap my fingers around the stem of the weed and pull. I can feel the roots tighten and know I’ve just lost the battle. I let go and reposition my hand, let my energy connect with that of the weed’s. I then slowly begin to pull. I breathe into my heart, pulling with steady pressure, meld with the energy of the weed. I can feel exactly when the roots let go. I sit down suddenly in the dirt and a cloud flies up around me.

“If you hold on too tight, there is resistance. If you let go, then just hold and comfort, the resistance dissipates and it, too, lets go.” I look to where the voice is resonating. Is it coming from the tree? I wait, but hear no more words of wisdom. Ms. Gigi is running up and down the tree, catching bugs, licking water from the leaves. I sit back down and look at the hole left by the root of the weed I pulled. Sticking my pinky finger in, I wiggle it and make the hole bigger. I put my palm back down to the earth. I can feel a pulsing, like a heartbeat. I am inspired to dig.

The velvety softness of the dirt makes the digging so easy there is no need for me to use anything but my hands. I dig and I dig and I dig until the hole is large enough for me to sit in with only my head sticking out. “Remember, remember, remember.” I hear it whispered over and over again. “Remember what?” I ask aloud. “Remember…” the whisper repeats over and over again, softer and softer until the words disappear in time.

“Don’t you hate it when that happens?” Ms. Gigi asks. She is now a millipede; each of her legs kicking can-can style in sequence like the Rockettes. “But whatcha gonna do?”

“Nothing. I’m going to do absolutely nothing but sit in this hole of the finest dirt I’ve ever seen and relax.” True to my word, that’s exactly what I do. Unfortunately, my mind has other ideas. It is still hearing the word ‘remember’ and pondering the thousands of possible meanings. “Your mind has as many thoughts as I have legs,” Ms. G comments. “As if I didn’t know,” I retort. “By the way, what song are you hearing in your empty little head.” Ms. G is still dancing and doesn’t miss a beat.

“Keep On Dancing. Next on the jukebox is something with bongos and other drums. I think I’ll do a conga line.” She’s too funny. NOT! My thoughts float away from Ms. Gigi. I remind myself to let go. Then I wonder why people tell you to let go but not tell you how. Suddenly I remember the one time, long ago, when someone did tell me how to let go.

We were in the mountains learning about the Tree People and Mother Earth. It was the day I officially became a tree hugger. If you’ve never hugged a tree, you should try it! After sharing our feelings about hugging a tree, the assignment was to let go. The instructions were to dig a hole in the ground, lie down next to it, and talk into the hole. Say everything you’ve been holding inside; let all the anger, sadness, negativity, etc. out into the hole. And when you there was nothing left inside you, leave an offering to Mother Earth, fill the hole back in, and walk away knowing that Mother Earth was big enough to handle whatever you left.

I walked into the forest, dug a hole, laid down, let it all out, cried, screamed, cried some more, and let it all out. And then I thought “Oh, piss on it!!” So I did that, too. I peed in that hole I dug then left a piece of chocolate and a feather. I filled the hole and walked back to camp not realizing how bad I really looked. Apparently I had mud all over my face from crying. I had leaves and sticks in my hair from being sprawled on the ground flaying my head back and forth. Nevertheless, when I shared my whole hole experience, I received a round of hugs, a warm washcloth, and everyone helped pick the foliage out of my hair.

Was that what I was to remember? Or was it that when I felt overwhelmed, out of control, sad, angry, etc. to flop myself onto the ground and stay awhile to get myself grounded? Who knows? Who cares? As long as I can remember anything, all is right with the world! Can you dig it?

Written by Sally

March 25, 2009 at 9:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

It’s The Journey, Not the Destination

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the very strange travels of

a.m. moscoso

( and company)

And how was it you came to be here at Lenore?

For me

It began with

The Walnut Incident:

 

schedule

 

Me and Waldgrave- he’s my very unused Journal are sitting at the Ferry Terminal waiting to board and I am determined- no committed to following a map that will take me on a journey to…

” Anita Marie, ” Waldgrave whispers from his place next to me on the bench “what on earth are you doing?”

I am standing at a railing, looking out over the bay and in my hand is a Walnut. I am holding it up towards the sky in my open palm and I whisper back to him:

” Shut the heck up, I’m meditating here This thing is going to tell us what to do next. “

” Oh God.”

I close the nut in my hand and hiss down at him, ” What? What is your problem now?”

” Nothing. Oh. Besides the fact you encouraged your cat to pee on me-  nothing. But let’s be fair here- you don’t meditate, you plot.”

” Har, har, har.”

“Oh come on. Tell me about the walnut and what it’s supposed to – do.”

” It has a message for me.”

” What? ” Waldgrave cries out in what sounds like actual pain and agony.

” Yep. It’s true. It has a message and it’s going to tell us where to go.”

” Anita Marie.” Waldgrave says slowly, cautiously, carefully, “It’s Produce.”

” No duh. But it’s all very mythical so shut the heck up so I can figure out where we’re supposed to go next.”

” Isn’t that supposed to be mystical?”

” What’s the difference? ” I ask.

Waldgrave’s pages ripple all by themselves and then they stop. ” Oh. A big one. But from Muse to Amuse-ee, tell me. You’re going to let a nut drag us off to parts unknown.”

I stop for a moment .

” Waldgrave. That is totally funny.”

” I thought you’d think so, so tell me how this works.”

” I don’t know. Like, I think they had a meeting on the Vulcania or something  about how this is all supposed to work but I was- …visiting Margaritaville and I missed it. But I did find out  that everyone got these nuts that tell them what to do and off they went.”

” I see, and who told you about the talking nuts and the Passengers.”

” The Crew.”

” The Crew you duct taped to their beds as they slept. That crew.”

” That’s the one. “I hold the walnut in my hands  up towards the sun and try my very best to look like the girl in the  Lite Yogurt commercials.

” I wished to the heavens you would stop that.”

” Look. Do you want to stay here until we die, or do you want to get on a Ferry and go somewhere.”

” We could do that anyway- without having to take travel directions from a seed. You could simply go up to the ticket booth and-“

” I haven’t bought a ticket to sail on these things for years”

” You don’t mean you…”

” My bus pass. It’s  a regional  transit pass. What can I say? It’s deal. You can use it for  the trains too. You will save a ton of money if you get one of these things.”

” I can see that. Look, humor me for a moment. Let’s try a new thought. Maybe the Walnut doesn’t talk. Maybe the message is inside of it..”

” Like a fortune cookie? “

” Perhaps.”

” Waldgrave, you are one great Muse ” I say as I put the walnut down on the railing and pick Waldgrave up. ” cause you just gave me a great idea. “

seattlepi-ferry1

The Ferry we took came late at night- it was the right Ferry, but it was in the wrong time.

The people were from a long time ago, and as Waldgrave may have pointed out- had we been talking that we were on a ghost ship.

Which I found pretty thrilling and wanted to talk about …

But we weren’t talking.

The last thing Waldgrave  had said to me was, ” What was inside of it. “

I flicked the mushed up shell and something with one missing wing off the railing and into The Bay.

 ” Nothing. ” I say.

” Nothing.”he says not believing me.

” Nope.”

That was our conversation- and lucky for me Sunset was only a few hours later that the Ghost Ferry showed up because it was pretty darn cold there in the terminal if you know what I mean.

The only thing that got Waldgrave talking again was when a woman in a pink caftan and lots of silvery jewelry with a black eye  and only one arm sailed by us in a huff.

She said as she walked by me, ” You are SO on your own.”

” Oh. Blah. Blah. Blah.” I shot at her back while making a nasty gesture with my fingers at pink gauzy form.

” Anita Marie! What on Earth did you do now ? “

” Hey Waldgrave! I’m sorry this Journey isn’t the perfect Journey. I’m sorry it’s not all about enlightenment and inner peace and so that in the end I can find myself in  field with the golden sun shining down upon the quiet song in my heart.. But the thing of it is, I always have fun. Always. If you like I’ll put you on a shelf and every night at Tea Time I’ll take you out and put meaningful thoughts onto our pages. Imagine that. Me being only writing when I have something meaningful to say. You will be one empty journal and one unheard Muse. But you won’t be challanged or anything. All you’ll have to do is watch. that’s it. You get to watch my world go by. How’s about it Waldgrave? How’s that sound? “

” Very uneventful.”

” Darn straight.” I spat back.

I looked out the window and out there in the darkness I saw a wall of fog crawling across the black water at us. ” This is the way it works- I know we have to find an Island that has something to do with Owls, we have to meet up with a guy who is being haunted by a dead woman and along the way there’s this Abbey where I have a room- it’s been empty for a long time. Sort of.”

” What do you mean sort of? “

” My rooms were in the Catacombs. “

” Of course they are.”

” Problem with that? ” I asked as the fog stopped and then began to climb up towards the sky.

” Not at all.”

I reach down for Waldgrave and zip him up in my jacket and we head up towards the deck.

” What’s going on?”

” I don’t know ” I say “isn’t that great?”

But when we got topside and I looked all around us I saw that the sky was gone, the water was gone

and that the world as I knew it was gone too.

And I had no idea where we were.

What do you know.

After a less then perfect start, I think we are actually on track.

I’ll be darned.

storm

 

Next

 I find out Journeys can be a real hoot:

A White Owl Island Adventure Begins

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” Hey, look Waldgrave, ” I said holding my journal over the railing of our now at drift Ferry Boat- at this point we were alone- even the ghosts were gone ” you can open  your ey- well, you can look now. The storm is gone and it looks just like an TV commercial for air freshener out there .” I say cheerfully as I  jiggle him from side to side.

” See that’s a shoreline, we’re going to make it to land.”

” Aren’t you even faintly curious as to what that storm was that we passed through to get to this ‘air freshener commerical scene ‘ of yours? ” Waldgrave asks.

” Nope.”

” And why not.”

” I don’t want to think about clouds that eat dead people. That’s why. “

” What on Earth would make you say think of such a thing. Honestly. Clouds that eat dead people.”

I pull Waldgrave back over the railing and start to tap him against my forehead, ” gee, I don’t know what would make me think of such a thing…let me think. Oh. I know YOU would.”

” I am so tired of you blaming every single one of your juvenile thoughts on me. “

” Oh fine Mr Muse. I’ll only give you credit for the mature thoughts. Yeah. You can have credit for all two of those.

But from the generosity of my heart I’ll give you a third one-   Those Ghost People came apart at the seams You saw it for yourself – it looked like something was tearing them into bite sized morsels.”

“Bite sized morsels” Waldgrave sobbed in frustration, ” Can you consider- just think about it for just one minute- maybe that storm was a half way point to somewhere else, maybe those ghost people were simply moving from one reality to another and it just looked strange to us because we’ve never seen that happening before.”

” Nah. If that’s what moving from one Reality to another is all about our world would be chock full of ghosts because no way would they go through that . Plus, I think something ate them because they were screaming ‘ oh god no, no, no arrrgghhh ‘. I’m pretty sure something very wrong was happening there.”

” I think something very wrong is happening here to, ” Waldgrave tells me, ” Because the engines have just started back up again.”

It was true.

And now we were moving away from the shoreline and back out to storm that had teeth and ate ghosts.

” I guess we’re just going to go back and forth…”Waldgrave started to say

” Unless we die and then of course, you know. It’s chomp chomp time.” I add.

” Anita Marie.”

” Yeah. ” I said as  the ferry came to a dead stop and then slowly began to move away from the shore” I’m trying to inspire you to do something. “

” It’s not working. “

” I thought as much. “

I walked away from the railing and towards the stairs and I told Waldgrave as I reached for the door, ” I think if we don’t figure out what’s running this ship it doesn’t matter where we go, does it? It wants to take us back to where the ghost people died again. I think that’s what it does. I think this Ferry is a trap Waldgrave. “

” I’m really hoping that you are wrong about that.”

” But there’s a plus side. “

” I would love, just love to hear this. Tell me. What is the plus side to our very sad and dire situation.”

I try to think fast. ” Well. If something is on this boat with us, and the clouds didn’t eat it then that thing must be alive just like us.”

” You’re making that up. You don’t believe that at all. You know what? Let’s just jump and swim for shore because I do not like what you’re thinking right now.”

I put Waldgrave back into my jacket and zip it up. Then I reach for the fire ax that’s hanging on the wall in a glass case  ( what kind of idiot puts something you need in a hurry in a glass case? Geeze!) and we walk up- up the steps to the bridge to meet a Ghost Killer.

 

ax

We saw her, standing where a Captain should stand and she was looking out towards the place where the storm was and she never turned around. Not even when I buried the Fire Ax’s head into her back. She just laughed and Waldgrave groaned ( big surprise ) ‘Oh no.’ 

“Did you really think that would stop me? ” she said.

” No. I just wanted to distract you. “

” From what? “

“From when I did this ” I said as I reached around and grabbed her chin and  her forehead and  then twisted.

It died.

Right there at my feet with it’s head turned all the way around to it’s back and barnacle encrusted face and milky blue eyes tearing their way into mine.

And all I could think of were McDonald’s Happy Meals and those little toys you get for free. I wondered if I would ever buy a Happy Meal again, I hoped so.

” What, what was that? ” Waldgrave whispered.

” Sea Witch.”

” How- how did you know-“

” You know why I call you Waldgrave Playfair? “

“Because it’s a ridiculous sounding name.”

“Well. It is, but a long time ago, when I was kid there was a real Waldgrave. He was my best friend and we used to go down to the Pier and buy stuff, you know Salt Water Taffy, comics. Stuff like that Anyway Waldgrave could really be slow off the mark and whenver we did stuff I’d cheat to win and he’d  always say, ” Can’t you ever  play fair Anita Marie? 

Well. One day we’re there buying stuff and I turn around and Waldgrave is gone so I go looking for him so I go down to the beach. I mean, I think I went down there, because I thought I heard him. Screaming.  When I get down there  I can see this woman  and she’s on her knees and the tide is coming in and the water goes around her, but it won’t touch her and…and she’s holding Waldgraves face down in the sand. She’s drowning him on dry land. I didn’t think you could drown a person on dry land. But you can. You really can.

So by the time I get down there, Waldgrave is gone and I see her face. They all look like that.” I say as I tap my toe against her greenish white cheek.

” I’m sorry .”

” That’s very kind of you Waldgrave.  It’ must be rough for those Witch things to go through life looking like a Monkey’s butt. Now-” I pull the ax out of  The Sea Witch’s back  and raise the ax over my head.

” Do you have to do that? “

” Yep.”

” Why? “

” It makes me feel better.”

 

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We started to drift to shore again and as we did I kicked Witch parts off the deck and when they hit the water, the water bubbled and hissed and the Witch Parts burned away in the Sea Foam.

Waldgrave and I aren’t speaking- again. I think he’s mad because he was being serious and I made the Monkey Butt comment. Who knows. He’s fickled if you ask me.

” Must you.” He says to, I don’t know- himself.

” I wonder why that happens.” I say to myself -kind of loud so as to drown out Waldgrave’s conversation.

” I wonder why you care.” Waldgrave continues on with his own very loud conversation

And as we continue to talk to ourselves the Ferry stops it’s sideways trip to the shore and there, close enough to walk to is land.

That really is great until the Ferry Starts to lean to the left and this woman in a big floppy hat starts to scream at us from the beach, ” I don’t know who you people are, but turn that thing around and go…this instant!”

” Huh? ” I yell ” I can’t hear you. The sound of our Ferry Sinking is drowning out the sound of your very annoying voice!”

Wow.

That was fun and I’m inspired ( thank you Waldgrave ) so I’m about to yell more stuff when I accidently kicked the Witch’s head overboard ( yes it was an accident ) and it makes this sloosh sound and the water foams up and turns black and the ooze starts to drift towards the woman on the beach.

” That was totally uncalled for! I mean it now. Turn that thing around and just..scoot. I mean it. The both of you.”

I put my hand against my chest and I can feel Waldgrave, but hey- I can’t see him and apparently this woman can. I’m not sure I like that idea.

Not one little bit.

” You. Old Lady! Quit staring at my chest. It’s giving me the creeps!” I called down to her.

I wished I could have gone on all day with the insult festival I was attending because after all we had just been through I needed a good laugh- but slow as our trip to shore was the Ferry keeled over that much faster and before we knew it me and Waldgrave were on White Owl Island

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Sometimes trips do not always go as planned:

                                                    Till Sunbeams Find You

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Waldgrave and me are being force marched to the one and only working Ferry that makes runs to and from White Owl Island.

My Regional Transit Pass is no good here- me and Waldgrave aren’t going to have to pay a cent to travel and do you know why?

Because we’re getting kicked off- I mean, what do they tell us the second we hit shore?

We find out from that Old Party in the Floppy Hat that here on White Owl Island  dreams are born and that here on White Owl Island they come true too.

I didn’t know what to say to something like that- so I just dive in:

”  I once had a dream that I got turned into a giant Popcorn Ball…and just when I thought I was going to be okay I started to roll down this hill and at the bottom of the hill were all these little kids chanting yuma- yuma -zoom-zoom … and the louder they chanted the faster I rolled and …”

And that was it

The next thing I know we’re being escorted to the  Ferry dock by these tall women with no sense of humor.

” I can’t believe you told that woman about that stupid, idiotic dream of yours.” Waldgrave sounded disgusted. ” I think she’s in charge here, she might be able to help us. Oh wait. Maybe she’s already tried and you took the help she was offering AND TORE IT’S WINGS OFF!”

” I didn’t tear it’s wings off. I just mashed one up a little. Besides she was going on about dreams  and…”

” What?”

” Oh. What. You know what, if I hear it you hear it…”

” But I didn’t.”

So I stop and the Tall Women stop and I say, “That’s not the way it works Waldgrave.”

” Tell me what she said…again…and I mean only what she said. Shut up about the Popcorn Ball…”

Before I can start he adds,

” and the chanting Children”

I roll my eyes up into my head and say, “She said, this is the Island where dreams are born and this is the place where dreams come true- wait, I think she said become. I don’t know. I think she might be fortifying her Tea with a little more then lemon and sugar if you catch my drift because she wasn’t making much sense.”

” Dreams are born here? “

” That’s what she said.”

Waldgrave says, ” Like the ones I’m full of? “

” Oh bloody Hell.” I yell at Waldgrave

Then I yell at the Tall Women, ” When does the Ferry get here?”

Here’s the deal, when I yell and I don’t mean shout, when I yell sometimes the blood vessels in my eyes pop and bleed so the entire area around my Iris turns red. When I was a kid I use to scream my self hoarse to do that on purpose, but you know. I’m not a kid anymore. So I don’t do it anymore.

Much.

 The Tall Women stepped back when they saw my face and I screamed even louder, ” When? When? When does that freaking boat get here?”

” Settle down…it’ll be here soon ” says one.

I hold Waldgrave up, ” He can’t be here. If this is the place dreams are born, it’ll rip him apart. Do you understand? It will dream him away.  Hey! You! Are you listening to me? This place is going to kill him!”

I can’t think of what to do, all I can think to do is to start swimming, we have to get off of this Island, that’s it. There’s nothing else to do, but before I can make for the water someone grabs me by my arms and pulls me back.

” You don’t know what’s out in those waters.”

” Oh…trust me I do.”

I put Waldgrave in my jacket and zip it up and then I put my hand against my chest and I say-

” He’s gone.”

I pull him out of my jacket and hold him up and my red cloth covered  Journal is

just a journal.

I walk with him clutched in my hands, to a bench under a shady tree and start to cry, “Waldgrave don’t leave me…”

The Three Tall Women actually look concerned and even a little touched until I start to pound my journal up and down on the table and start screaming, ” What the Hell am I supposed to do now?”

” Here now…” someone comes up behind me and puts a concerned hand on my shoulder and I turn around with the remains of Waldgrave in my hand…

and slam him upwards.

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 I don’t think they do much in the way of Hiney Whupping on White Owl,  but I’d have to admit they’re pretty good at it because it was at least an hour before I came to after being knocked out cold.

The Floppy Hat Lady is sitting on a lawn chair and I am on the ground and my mouth is full of- oh great, busted teeth.

Yeah. Well. It’s been that sort of a day.

” I tried to warn you and your friend to stay away,”

” In case you didn’t notice, we were sinking.” I say from my place on the ground.

” I did notice, and I also noticed that the two of you are an extremely resourceful pair. You could have avoided this place, if you had set your minds to it.”

” Well.”

” Much in the same way I doubt if your friend would let this Island take him away so easily- ” the lady takes her hat off and looks at me- and I’ll tell you, I didn’t care for what I saw in that look at all.

” I think you know exactly where your friend went, don’t you? And I wonder- the two of you seem so devoted to each other- what it is that could make you give him up for dead..after all you’ve been through… so easily.

” It’s not easy, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

” This is the place where dreams are born Miss Marie- even the nightmares, I know yours. They live in every shadow on this Island. They hide here. And one day you’ll have to tell me why.”

I stand up and  shake the dirt out of my hair with my hands.

” I’ve always suspected they’re hiding from you. So please, spare me – this is NOT the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do.”

I reach down for my journal and Floppy Hat Lady knows she has me before I can say a word.

” I need help.” I say gritting my teeth together- and that hurt in more then one way.

” Ah. Yes. Now that is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do, isn’t it? “

I stand there with tapping my book against thigh.

” What is it you need-“

” You’ll help me, and what do I have to give you in return.”

” The next Sea Witch you come across- “

” Yes.” I agree.

” I want you to let her live.”

” Fine.”

” Just like that? ” she asks.

” Just like that.”

” Deal. Now what is it you need?”

” Directions.” I say” Waldgrave has to go somewhere close, someplace where the dream and the dreamer  never changes, he’s in a cemetery. I need to know which one .”

 ” That would be the one on the Island Lenore.”

” How do I get there? “

That’s when I see the Ferry coming towards us.

The Ferry that Waldgrave and I came in on.

The one that sank.

Floppy Hat Lady is smiling at me.

And I smile back.

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and when you’re out there in the world

you sometimes find yourself wondering:

” What If “

tree_200

Oh, hello.

No I don’t mind the company – sure it would be great if you want to walk with me for awhile, you heard it right- I’m going to the house on the bluffs.

Hey, it’s okay, if I could avoid that house I would too. So if you want to just go a little ways with me I’d appreciate it. I guess when I think about it I haven’t really ever traveled anywhere alone.

It’s kind of boring.

I’ve always traveled with Waldgrave. He’s up at that house. That’s right, he’s at The Black House and I’m guessing it’s not called the Black House because of the paint job. I  saw it from the beach. It’s white. White as a bone.

Am I right?

I was afraid you’d say that.

What?

Who is Waldgrave?

My friend.

You want me to be more specific…

Well. I sort of promised him I wouldn’t tell people too much about him-, he’s sort of old fashioned and he has this past. Wait. Look. I like a good story and I can see you do to, so let’s just say what if….

What if a long, long time ago you got hung from a tree because you stole something. What if it was just food. Yeah. Like let’s say it was Apples.

Look. I’m not a lawyer. Convicted means convicted. Innocence isn’t the issue here. So can I go on?

Cool.

So. Let’s say, just pretend that someone- like a Witch – took your hand because she believed that the hand of a convicted criminal who was hung by the neck until he was dead had powers. You know, Power to help you see the future or ghosts or doorways to places you can’t see unless you pass through them first.

What if that was just a story. 

Severed hands from some poor starving chump or a horse thief isn’t going to have supernatural powers.

Unless of course that severed hand was once attached to an arm that was attached to a body that in life had a Mother who was from the Carpathian Mountains and when she wanted to make her only child laugh she could change her skin the way you and me change our clothes. Let’s say. And let’s just say what if your Father was pretty handy with a needle and thread and electricity and had a talent for resurrecting – you know stuff. 

Probably your hand wouldn’t be your normal garden variety hand.

Oh. Look there’s the house, well you’ve walked a little farther then you thought you would so I’ll guess you”ll- you want me to finish?

I guess that’s okay-

There aren’t a lot of what if’s left

 Let’s just say what if one day the Witch who took your hand met a nasty end at the hands of a Sea Witch who cheated at cards and later that Sea Witch drowned a little boy on dry land for his treasure- which were a handful of comicbooks. What if  the dead boy’s best friend you had  tracked you down and found out where you were nesting near the Ferry Docks and that she was pretty darn handy with a harpoon rifle and a book of matches.

And let’s say what if she found this hand stashed among the other treasures the Witch had stolen from her victims over the years and when the girl touched it she saw your last few minutes of life- your real life draining away at the end of rope and that she felt so bad for you she buried your hand- right next to her poor dead friend in hallowed ground and when she did that

what if you had had the chance to go on to rest in peace

but

What if you decided that for now, maybe it would be much more exciting to hang around- even if you are just a shadow that is hiding in a book- with a kid who took her first monster down before she was old enough to drive a car and rewarded herself  later  for a job well done with a Butterscotch Sundae covered with white chocolate spinkles?

Look I’m just saying:

What if.

Well, here’s the door and you really should go- because what if you met  awoman on a long dark road one night who would like to be remembered- if things don’t go right for her tonight-  as someone who just wanted to help her friend out of a jam

and not as someone who – well, what if we just leave it at that.

And thank you for walking with me.

Maybe we’ll do it again sometime.

But you should go now.

I’m serious.

Run.

Right Now.

400549-019

It’s bound to happen.

During the best planned trips

you can be faced with

an

An Unmerciful Disaster

 

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There I was, standing alone in front of a door that was nailed shut from the inside.

What kind of nut job, I wondered as I poked my finger against one of the nails that had made it’s way to the outside of the door, would wall themselves up inside of a house?

Well.

I guess I was about to find out.

So I backed up and kicked at the door- hard- and no I didn’t expect it to do anything dramatic like fly open. I just wanted to give whatever was on the other side to – you know – run.

I’ll bet it wasn’t running though.

I’ll bet it was on the other side of the door laughing at me- and then I thought to myself:

What am I doing here-

I’m going to save Waldgrave- and right now I have to wonder why.  Because,  to be perfectly honest,  I don’t know what he really is- from something I that could be anything- anything with big teeth and knives.

Yeah. I’ll  whatever is on the other side of that door with Waldgrave is very handy with knives and meat hooks because that’s exactly the kind of luck I’ve had for my entire life.

And then it came to me:

 All I have to do is just turn around and walk back the way I came- right now one foot in front of the other and who would ever know?

 I could go back to my nice quiet life as a Funeral Director and wear my sensible dark suits with my black engineer boots ( hey, it’s not like anyone ever looks at my feet- trust me on that one) and in that life dead people are just that…

well

Most of the time.

It would be so easy I told myself to just walk away.

I looked around and slammed my hand over my mouth, to keep from yelling because where the hell did that thought come from?

Give Waldgrave up to something called The Black House and walk away no- slink away like some slinky coward?

I’ll tell you where that thought came from-

it was either from the house or Waldgrave and I’m not sure which of those two things scared me more- that house getting into my head or Waldgrave trying to let go.

I point at the door and say, “It’s obvious you are not going to cooperate. “

Think, think, think I told myself.

I walked to one of the boarded up windows and pushed just a little.

It gave.

Good.

I took a deep breath and this time when I swung at the boards I followed through.

All the way through.

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I’m standing all alone ( please let me be alone ) in this nasty dark house and all I can think to say is, ” Pizza Delivery. “

I roll my eyes up because from down the hall I can hear a familiar voice say,

” You know, people aren’t laughing with you Anita, they’re mostly laughing at you. “

” Aren’t you supposed to be in a cemetery? ” I say to Waldgrave to keep him talking because I have no intentions of opening any of these doors unless I have too.

” There’s a Crypt in the basement- “

I follow his voice to a not so awful looking door- the only one that looks like it ever gets used and I  tap on it and say, before I open it, ” Are you decent? “

” Get it in here you stupid twit, we have a problem.”

Unlike the rest of the house this room is not nasty and dark, but it feel like it all the same. There are lit candles all over the room and I can sort of see that I’m in a library and that there’s a dead man sitting behind a giant desk with about a hundred pictures in little silver frames in front of him.

I don’t need to look to know they’re probably all of  the same person.

” Damn. ” I start to go from one book to the next and I say to Waldgrave, ” Keep talking there’s a bazillion books here- and you could be in anyone of them.”

” You killed him, I think you scared him to death. He thought you were some woman…I think he murdered her. He wanted her to come for him but he was afraid she would come for him at the same time. He dreamed about her  even when he was awake.”

I don’t have anything to say.

And then I think of something, ” Help me out here just a little  which one of these things do you think you are in? “

“Your lack of empathy leaves me speechless Anita Marie, it really does.”

” If only. ” I say to myself- but you know loud enough so that I can be sure Waldgrave can hear me.

” I’m not in a book.”

Waldgrave’s surprised sounding voice is coming from right behind me.

I look and there above desk on a shelf is a statue of some guy’s head. ” You know, I’m not sure how this thing with you works, but if you think I’m going to drag you around like that  you can forget it.”

” Look down. “

I do, right into the face of the dead man and he is looking back at me.

” Oh no.” I say

” Oh yes.” Says the dead man with Waldgrave’s voice.

” Hey. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do that.”

” Hey. I’m pretty sure you’re right. ” Waldgrave is starting to sound a little hysterical.

Just as an FYI- hysertics are contagious because I don’t sound like I’m in full control of myself whe I scream back: ” I thought you said before you could only take possession of inanimate objects.”

Waldgrave points at the dead man’s-well his face and shrieks  ” you can’t get much more inanimate then a corpse Anita!”

” Well, damn Waldgrave get the hell out of there.” I yell at him.

” Gladly. But I can’t. I’ve been trying and guess what? I am  STUCK!”

I run over to the fireplace and grab a poker and when I turn around I tell Waldgrave ” Okay, don’t move.  I have an idea. “

Waldgrave isn’t in the mood to follow directions. Instead  jumps up, runs around the desk and grabs me buy shoulders and shakes me hard- which makes me really angry and he says, like I haven’t heard it a million times already,

 ” I am trapped inside of a corpse!”

” I’m going to fix that Waldgrave. ” I swing the poker at Waldgraves newly acquired head and then…

he reaches out and grabs my wrist and shakes it until I drop the poker.

I’m sure I look just as confused as he does.

 With one hand pressed against his shoulder to steady him I reach slowly out for his neck with my other hand. Waldgrave flinches just a little but he figures out what it is I’m going to do and lifts his chin up 

 I put my fingers against his neck.

Then I put my hand on his chest and snap it back.

You are in so much trouble Waldgrave. “

Waldgrave agrees with me, ” Yes we are.”

ravens

And  Now Part Four Begins at

The Fork In The Road

I am traveling through a place called The Valley of The Bones in a bright red jeep with with my friend who was stitched together from body parts stolen ( it’s not like they give them away you know ) from a cemetery by his parents and until very recently his ghost haunted my somewhat unused and much abused empty journal.

In any case, I guess my friend’s parents  really wanted a kid.

I’ve always really wanted a dog but look- unlike some people I have limits for what I would do to get one.

Anyways, for years his ghost was haunting my journal and I’ve been calling him Waldgrave… but after the  last trip we took  he went from being a ghost, to you know- whatever he is now – and I discovered his real name turned out to be….

” Milo. I can’t believe your parents named you Milo.” I make sure to snort and laugh extra loud- even though this stopped being funny about 600 miles ago.

” And I can’t believe you had parents. With you I see some sort of spawning scenario.” Milo is shading his eyes- I guess the light is hurting them. I don’t feel bad.

That spawn comment was mean.

” Hey. That’s funny. You want to hear something funnier then that?” I ask as I reach into my under the driver’s seat where I store important stuff like breath mints and lip gloss and my Pez Dispensers.

” No.”

” Well, this is supposed to be a magical journey and wouldn’t you know it-” I say as I pull my favorite sunglasses from under the seat and toss them on Milo’s lap. ” This Jeep is not magic. We are getting low on gas.”

” I know something funnier then that.” Milo tells me.  The donkeys were magic- didn’t hear what they told you at that Tavern? Oh no wait. You couldn’t have. You were- oh how did you put it- you were resting your eyes on the bar. Anyway  those things are guides. We needed one and you find…”

I ignore all of that.

” It’s a Mule, I’ve named it Tomo. It’s close enough.”

” God.”

” It’s doesn’t talk.” I point out to Milo then I turn on the radio. ” It does that instead. Pretty neat- don’t you think?

” What am I doing here?” Milo looks like he’s about to jump out of the Jeep and take his chances with the a giant scab of land called The Valley of The Bones when we go up and over a hill and there right in the middle of the road- is a Diner called.

” The Fork In The Road.”

There are gas pumps out front, an old fashioned Soda  Pop Machine with motor that was working extra hard because of the heat and a tin sign that was being pushed back and forth in a breeze of wind that was not there.

” Well. This is convenient.” I say to Milo.

” Yes. It is.”

” We should probably just keep going.” I say.

” I think so.”

” Pump or Pay?” I ask

Milo reaches over and I hand him some cash and then he goes, all alone  to

The Fork In The Road.

coke-sign

After what seemed like hours ( you stand there and pump gas in over 100 degrees, I promise you that minutes will indeed turn into hours and hours in a matter of seconds ) the Jeep’s tank was full, I wanted to leave and I could see Milo through a dusty window talking to a woman in a yellow and white dress with a cap on her head, and I’m not thinking waitress when I see her- I’m thinking

…Nurse…

and on the heels of that thought I start to see keys…keys and locks and doors that only lock and open from the outside and then I run straight into the diner before I can change my mind.

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 Milo is looking at the Woman and the woman is looking at him and the Diner is cool and dark. There is only one table and two chairs in the entire diner and the menu on the wall behind the cash register says:

TODAY’S SPECIAL:

YOU!

Welcome To The Fork In The Road

breakfast served all day long

Brother I think to myself  as I read the sign -would you like some crackers  with that CHEESE?

” Hey Milo, did you pay up? We have to go…”

The Waitress ( Nurse, it’s a Nurse  but I won’t let that thought live in my head for to long ) says to me while looking at Milo ” You’re friend was asking me if we had a map. Of course what you need in a place like The Bones is a guide.”

” So I’ve heard.” I practically shout at Milo’s back.

” This one, ” she says to me ” stinks of the grave and one doesn’t have to look very deep to see how flawed it is.”

“It- he has his moments.”

” He’s no guide of course…but…”

” Time to hit the asphalt Milo, let’s get a move on- ” I grab Milo’s arm and pull him away from The Waitress ( Nurse ) and when I look at him I can see his glasses are off and…

” You took his eye! You sick piece of work, give it back!”

The Waitress pulls a lace hanky from a pocket in the front of her apron and she dabs the corners of her mouth with it and then she delicately folds it and puts it back.

If she burps, I’m going to pull her heart out of her chest with my bare hands I think.

Instead of burping she says:

” Leave it here.  Leave it here and I will guarantee your safety anywhere in this Valley- even beyond it. I can do that. Let’s sweeten the deal- being as you were kind enough to make an delivery to my establishment- I think that is in order. Let’s say  I’ll even find  something more proper to guide you.  What do you say?”

” I say that the day I need help from a nasty  grave robbing  Ghoul  that’s the day I go back to my house in the suburbs, paint it pink, get married and get a dog named Spot. That’s what I say.

Milo. Door. NOW.”

I reach down and grab my sunglasses off of the floor and as I do I catch a familiar scent coming up from the floor.

I know that smell, I used to smell it everyday for over 20 years at work at the Funeral Home.

 I know that smell.

It’s embalming fluid.

And

The Fork In The Road

Diner-

the diner that serves breakfast from dusk to Dawn

 reeks of it.

12

Milo and I are standing next to the Jeep I have named Tomo and he’s saying we need to just get in drive and I tell him, ” I know how to get rid of that thing. “

The Waitress is in the Window looking at us and by the time the sunsets she will be on the in front of the window and by the time night falls on The Bones she will be out on the road doing what Ghouls have always done.

” She took your eye and ate it Milo.”

“Well, technically it wasn’t my eye to begin with.”

You know- Milo does have a point.

” Look. Just tell me. Why do you want me to let it live. Just answer me that. That Ghoul  is one nasty piece of work and if this place were to burn to the ground with her the world would not miss either one of them.  In fact, it might just be a better place for it.”

Milo gets into the Jeep and takes the sunglasses off and as he wipes the dust off of them with the tail of his shirt he says, ” Yes, and it will be a more  normal world. Won’t it.”

He looks right at me and I look into Milo’s empty eye socket and I agree.

I climb up into the jeep and turn the key.

And then we drive away.

 

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In

Part 5

We Visit a Place Where

” The Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day “

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” We’re not campers.” Milo says as I pull up to a bright yellow gate with a sign over it that reads:

 MLT Happy Family Campground-

 WELCOME!

” I know that.”

” We’re not exactly going to blend in here you know. I’m missing an eye and you can’t walk through a room without acting like you’re running for  Mayor or killing something. “

” You know, for a guy with one eye you sure are observant. Just hush up there and let me see…here it is.” I pull some cash out of my back pocket and cruise up to an easy stop where a woman has walked out of a little shed that has a fake thatched roof and a sign on the window that tells you how much it costs to visit the Happy Family Camp Grounds.

She is smiling.

Milo is not smiling.

At the gate I give my brightest smile to – according to her name badge- Misty. Misty has cartoonish happy campers stenciled on the front of her t-shirt and when Milo sees that he groans and starts to rub his forehead.

” Is he okay? ” Misty asks me

” Oh yeah…he’s just feeling like the walking dead today. You know how it goes. Sometimes these long trips  make you feel like you’re falling apart.”

I don’t look at Milo, I know exactly what I’d see if I did.

“I’m sorry about that Sir” she tells Milo ” If you stop by the commissary you’ll probably find something that will help you pull yourself back together”

Okay. I could not keep myself from laughing at that.

However, much like Milo, Misty chose to ignore me and she went on:

 So, what will it be for you folks? Do you have a  Tent or would you like to rent one of our Cabins? “

” No fooling, you have cabins available?”

” Just two and they’re pretty small and pretty far out back but…”

” That’s perfect. Really. We’ll take them.”

Misty looks confused and she says, ” Them? I thought you were…oh well, sure if you want them both…I’m sorry I  thought you were together.”

Milo and I both look at each other and start to laugh. that’s when  he reaches over and pinches my cheek and tells Misty, ” I’d rather eat my own tongue then be together with this woman.”

I reach back lay my hand on Milo’s shoulder and pinch him so hard I can see water coming down from his one good eye. ” One Cabin will do us just fine Misty.”

 

We followed Misty’s map to our cabin- and I think there were rules and a history of the Campground on the other side of it, but I wasn’t as interested in the facts as  I was in telling my version of what campers did at campgrounds to Milo.

” Look Milo, people come to places like this to sit around on lawn chairs drink beer and eat marshmallows. I think they sing some too. And while they do that we can find you a new eye.”

 I drop the map at my feet  and hope that Milo understands this conversation is over now.

He doesn’t.

” You’re going to find me an eye…here..”

“That’s the idea.”

” From one of these- Happy Campers-“

“Please. As if. We have ghouls, Sea Witches and who knows what else chasing us up and down the highway now. Like I want local law enforcement on my tail to. Geeze. Give me a break would you?”

“I’m glad to hear it. So. What is it you have planned?”

” Well. That Waitress Ghoul Thing probably isn’t the only one out here and I’m willing to bet they just love to hang around places like this. You know how many campers and hunters go missing every year?”

” No.”

” Lots. Lots and Lots. It’s a fact. So all we have to do is wait and hey presto you get an eye.”

” So you think we should just sit around here and wait for- someone to eaten by a Ghoul? That’s sick- even for you.” Milo sounds disgusted and that in turn makes me wish he was a ghost in book again so I could go back to the old days when I dropped him into puddles – on accident.

” You are such a whiner.” I tell him.

” It just doesn’t seem fair, that’s all. These, Happy Campers are here just to be-” Milo looks at me and shrugs ” Happy.”

” Yeah. It isn’t fair. And you know what else isn’t fair? You go into a store to buy gas and get your eye pulled out by a Ghoul. That’s not fair either. Life is not fair and nobody knows better then us Death isn’t fair either. It cheats. Or did you miss that part of the program Milo?”

I pull up to our cabin and it is small and by small it also means that our neighbor’s cabin is about 10 feet away from our front door.

Our neighbors are a husband his wife and their son and daughter who are sitting on pink and white lawn chairs staring into their hands where I’m sure their cell phones used to live.

I can see the wife is wearing lipstick.

That’s right.

Lipstick in the middle of nowhere in a campy ground managed by a woman named Misty.

If  Milo doesn’t start to act a little more appreciative of my efforts very soon he can go find a new eye on his own.

When we get out of the Jeep the woman sort of glides up from her chair and sails up to Milo on a cloud of hairspray and and perfume. I’m willing to bet she is giving off enough chemicals to eat a hole in the Ozone the size of Canada.

And then she bats her mascara caked eye lashes and says to Milo, “So you must be the neighbors.”

Milo stands there and then he turns his head and I can see him mouth the words, ” Help me.”

I shrug and busy myself with reading the rules on the back of the map that I had left on the floor of the jeep and after I learned you can’t play loud music or dig up plants  or ride around the hills drunk on ATVs I can hear the woman say to Milo…

” Brenda, I’m Brenda Parnell, this is my husband Roger and these are our children Carrie and Conner.”

I laugh into the map and as I do I hear the boy say, ” When are we leaving?”

I don’t offer the kids an answer and then Milo stammers, ” Well, I’m Milo and this is my…”

” Sunny.”

Milo looks at me and his mouth drops open.

” Sunny Longyear…so named because when I was born my dad said he knew I was going to do nothing except bring light into everyone’s life. It’s great to meet you” I tell Brenda and Roger and their offspring.

I look at Milo and I think he’s saying something- or he could be choking. It was sort of hard to tell right then. But he sort of slinks away from Brenda and when he’s standing in front of me with his back turned to them he says under his breath, ” I don’t know what it is  you’re doing but cut it out.”

” I plan on it. ” I tell Milo

Then I push Milo aside and ask our Happy Camping Buddies what is there to do round the Valley for fun and as they’re filling me in about Nature Walks run by the Parks Department  and activities at the Recreation Hall here on the Camp Grounds in the evenings when Milo grabs me by the back of my shirt an, pulls me back and hisses into my ear:

” Sunny? So named because you do what?”

I smile, ignore Milo and ask the Parnelss if they do campfire things like singing and roasting marshmellows at the Rec Hall but Milo will not be ignored.

He’s back in my ear and at it again.

” You are such a big fat liar.”

Okay.

That was it.

I jerk my shoulder up, pull away from Milo and with both hands shove him backwards, “You take that back you jerk.  I. Am.Not. Fat.”

The Little Parnells are looking like me and Milo are the best thing to happen to them in years, Brenda is looking at Milo from her Ozone Eating Fog with a little glimmer in her eyes  and Roger says to Milo:

” Buddy. You start using the “F” word like that to the little lady and you’re going to be a single man before you know it.”

I put my face right into Milo’s and say, ” Yeah.” And then I walk into our cabin and just as Milo comes up to the door behind me, I turn around and kick it shut and yell through it for him to go roast something.

The truth of it is I had plans to make- plans that I know Milo will not like and what Milo doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

I hope. 

 

 

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In Part Six Sunny Asks

Witch Promise?

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Milo is sitting, all by himself on a pink and white lawn chair in front of a dieing campfire. He looks, sad a little forlorn dare I saw lonely for his best friend?

Good.

That’ll teach him to call me fat.

” So where are you are new best friends? “

” Shut up.” Milo mumbles.

” Okay, fine. I’ll shut up. Guess you aren’t interested in hearing how I got this.”

I toss a little jar with a faded label onto Milo’s lap and start to walk away.

He looks down and looks back up at me, ” where did you get this?”

I stop, turn around and I point to my face and say, “see- this is me shutting up- ” just to twist the knife a little more I look over Milo’s shoulder at the Parnell’s cabin and smile- just a little.

” You didn’t” Milo looks back at the Parnell’s cabin in alarm-

What did he think? On cue a wave of one eyed Parnell’s were going to come running out screaming my name?

” Not on your life” I say ” they’ve all got green eyes. Nothing should have a green eye in it’s head unless it says meow and eats birds that wake normal people up at the crack of dawn.”

” your priorities are just wrong Sunny…you know that don’t you?”

” Yeah, but if I keep it that way nobody asks me why I do the things I do for fear I’ll tell them. It’s your basic great plan. Pretty much I can do what I want without peole asking me a bunch of stupid questions.”

Milo holds the eye in the jar up. The eye is brown and the little gold flecks were very pretty if you want my opinion.

However,  Milo did not my opinion he wanted answers.

 “Well I’m asking and I want an answer. Where did you get it?”

I say, ” Well, that is a story to be told by a dieing campfire all right.”  I pull some dental floss and my sewing kit- from out of my jacket pocket  ” But first tilt your head back, I want to see this little charmer in it’s new home.

Milo sniffs and asks me, ” Can’t you use something else for once besides bubblegum flavored dental floss?

” Uh. No. It’s my favorite- you will not believe how many bodies I embalmed that I closed back up with this stuff.”

Before he can answer I tell him:

” It smells like summer Milo, it’s an alive smell.”

 Milo, shrugs. There is no arguing with a point like that. So tilts his head back and I set my kit on his shoulder and tell him all about

Witch Promise?

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I was pretty mad last night- you know that. And I had every intention of doing more then taking a Parnell eye, those people really are despicable Milo. Did you smell what they were barbequing when we drove up? And after scarfing down Hitch Hikers on Hoagies and toasting marshmallows they go off and sing Camp Fire songs down at the rec hall. I don’t know about you, but that sort of thing is just gross.”

” Mrs. Parnell is a pincher too.” Milo said.

” Now that is just rude and very unlady like behavior. What kind of example is she setting for those kids of hers?” I ask as I prep Milo’s empty eye socket.

” Well. I’ll bet you’d never guess who probably brought the groceries to camp- you know, as it were.”

” No. Why, those things are just little, well what are they exactly? Do you know?”

” Garden variety psychopathic cannibals. “

” Still.”

I open the jar and ask Milo, ” you know I’m just guessing if I put this thing in your -um- unique Anatomy and Physiology will take care of the rest.”

” I suppose it will.” Milo says a little to sad for my liking.

” Okay…” I say into Milo’s eye socket “open up and say….”

 

For the next few minutes I wasn’t sure this eye was going to work- the eye just sort of sat in Milo’s face looking dull and flat. But then it sort of started to twitch and Milo started sneezing and as I was yelling at him to watch it. I didn’t want him to blow it out of place on accident he looked up at me- and that’s when I saw he was looking at me with that look he got when I irritated him in a very bad way.

 It’s the one where he looked  like he was forever catching me sticking my fingers into light sockets just to hear the buzz in my ears

but the plus side was

he was looking at me with both his eyes.

So what if they didn’t match exactly- one was brown and the other was blue.

” Wow. Those look great. I had a Husky that had a brown and a blue eye. I always liked that combination.”

” You found this, ” Milo pointed to his face ” so that I would look like your dog.”

” He was my favoirte dog Milo. His name was Tristan.”

” Where did you get it from.”

” Um. A Witch.”

” Oh Sunny…you promised that woman in the hat you wouldn’t kill anymore of those things if she told you how to find me.”

” She said I couldn’t kill the next one I saw.”

Milo is not looking amused.

“There’s this Craft Store- that this Sea Witch ones right in the middle of the Valley.”

” And you know that how?”

” From the waitress back in the diner.”

” You didn’t.”

” I did. Anyway, she’s a real piece of work. All I had to promise her was to not burn her stupid diner to the ground. I have never seen a Ghoul so attached to a building before…admit it, that is very curious.”

” Actually, ” Milo says ” it is.”

” So anyway, she tells me about this Sea Witch and the stuff she sells…you know hands, eyes-” I look at Milo and say carefully, ” books.”

So, I go to this blue house on Blue Bow Road and there it is the most normal looking house on the most normal looking country road in the entire world with a blue and white sign directing you up to May Delilah’s Craft Store and I go on in and this little bell above the door jingles and the entire place smells like…”

Milo winces and I shrug and say: ” Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies.”

“Well. I knew what I was looking for wasn’t going to be right out front with baking cookies smell and your basic everyday must have supplies for your everyday crafting needs.

I go to the kitchen, where by the way nothing was baking in the oven- I don’t even think that house was wired for electricity and behind the kitchen in pantry was where the real Craft Store was.”

” Was?” Milo echoes.

” And up there on the walls are mirrors, old ones cracked ones with wood frames some with silver or gold frames, you couldn’t see the walls for all of those mirrors Milo. It was truly the most heinous soul catching trap I’ve ever seen. Who knows how many she has stashed in  there? But Milo not only did she have those mirrors she had hands and eyes stuffed into jars and I’m guessing she did that so that her victims could see…you know from inside the mirrors…”

” Those creatures truly are vile.”

” No kidding, but a promise is a promise and all I wanted was an eye and all I had to do was reach out and choose one. But I couldn’t. I mean Milo I just couldn’t. But then that’s when I saw her. “

” She was standing right behind me Milo sniffing at my hair and oozing slime all over my shoulder and that’s when I knew I could keep my promise to The Hat Lady, kill myself a Sea Witch and get you an eye.”

” So I turned around and pushed the Sea Witch into one of her mirrors and it came apart, just like she had fallen into water and when it came back together she was you know- apart.”

” So right after that happened ever single mirror in the place turned blue, and then they cracked and whe they broke they didn’t sound like glass. It sounded like when you walk across dry leaves.”

Whatever was in those mirrors was gone and so was the Witch.”

” And how, exactly is that you keeping a promise?”

” Well, cause the first Sea Witch I saw in the mirror and I didn’t kill it did I? The second one was fair game so…”

Milo grabs his face and looks horrified, ” this wasn’t hers was it?”

” Get a grip. No it wasn’t. Right after the Mirrors came apart everything in the jars started to dissolve. Except for that. I figure, you know maybe it was a gift from the Mirror People.”

” It’s a really nice eye Milo.”

The last of the campfire was starting to die and just before the last of the flames sunk down into the ashes Milo says to me, “I am so glad you’re on my side Sunny.”

” You’re  welcome Milo. ” I said into the darkness 

 ” Anytime.” Says he.

 

In Part Seven

Be Advised

Look Down

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 You know that saying: nothing good lasts for ever?

Well  if that is true then I’m pretty sure the last place that will be standing long after the rest of the Universe has turned to dust will be the Happy Family Campground.

 

The morning after I found Milo a new eye I was getting out of  my Jeep to find Mrs Parnell wearing a darker shade of red lipstick waiting for me  in front of the cabins.

She was also wearing heels.

” Good morning Sunny.” she said without meaning it.

” Drop dead Mrs. Parnell.” I said meaning every word.

One of the most disturbing things I will ever see  for the rest of my life will be Mrs. Parnell smiling at me with that red, red lipstick caked on her lips. ” Oh now, that’s no way for neighbors to talk to each other, is it?”  she asked me as she walked around the Jeep to where I was standing.

” We’re not neighbors Mrs. Parnell” I said walking around to meet her and when we were almost nose to nose she said:

” Be that as it my Sunny, it doesn’t hurt us to be neighborly to each other does it?”

” Yeah well, as long as you don’t take to pinching me too I guess it wouldn’t.”

Mrs. Parnell smirked and put her hand on the hood of my Jeep and just for  that  alone I could have snapped it off at her wrist.

” I’m curious Miss Longyear, where a Funeral Director could be traveling to with a Walking Deadman.”

” He’s not a Deadman.”

” Oh, I have the feeling that is something that figures into his feature- very prominently in fact- if he continues to follow you.”

” Very funny. And get your hand off my Jeep, I just washed it”  I lied.

The birds, which had been singing up until now stopped and the cool morning breeze which had been blowing pleasantly until that moment stopped and it was just me and Mrs. Parnell and my Red Jeep.

” What is it exactly that you want Mrs. Parnell?”

” Your head roasting on a spit Sunny Longyear and your Deadman’s Bones made into” Mrs. Parnell holds her hands up and gazes at them adoringly ” jewelry.”

” You have got to be kidding me…that’s it? Are all cannibals as unimaginative and boring as you?”

” Yes, well, I’ll have to admit, me and my family’s taste for the better things in life maybe meatloaf to your Aged Fillet Steak, yours however cannot be dressed up with a little ketchup, can they?”

“Your taste.” I tell her.

” What?” she asks  me.

 I point to the back of my jeep and the boxes that I have packed back there.

” You know Mrs. Parnell, ” I put my finger against her forehead and push her back  to where she can see through the rear window ” Mrs. Parnell I want to give you some friendly advice- it’s possible that it could add years on to your life. So here it is: When you and yours mess with people they really, really needed to know to watch their backs.”

Mrs. Parnell looks into the back of my Jeep  and she can see the various sized packages wrapped in butchers paper and then she really looks at me and says ” that was uncalled for.”

” Sure it was.” I say ” Sure it was.”

I start to walk towards the cabin to get Milo when Mrs. Parnell tells me, ” I think it’s good manners that I repay you somehow for showing so much concern for my- well being- so here it is- when you’re here in the Valley sometimes to save yourself…remember…look down Miss Longyear. It’s for the best.”

I turn and keep walking and I can hear her opening the Jeep and then I hear the sound of her lifting the boxes out and by the time Milo and I are packed and walking out the door I can smell the barbeque in front of the Parnell Cabin warming up.

” Look down Milo. ” I tell him ” whatever you do, look down and don’ t look up.”

Milo looks at me  curiously with his mismatched eyes and I say, ” It’ll be for the best.”

  

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In Part Eight

Sunny and Milo Hit Deadwood

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I am standing on a beach looking out across the water and Milo is sitting on the ground next to the Jeep, with his back resting against the tire but he’s about to get up and start pounding his head into the hood because:

” Do you have to do that? ” he asks me.

” Nope.” I say with my face and palms turned up at the blackening sky.

” Then why?”

” Because it makes you crazy, plus it helps me think.”

” Do you know what Sunny? One of these days a bunch of people who take things like meditation are going to see you making fun of them in front of the entire world and-“

” And what?”

I turn around and I put my hands on my hips and I go to town, ” People who take mediation seriously sit around all day coming up with new recipes for new things to do with Lentils, plus they’re not violent. It’s like against the law for them. It’s sad when you think about it because if there are a bunch of people who should indulge in physical violence it’s people who sit around and make bread from crickets. The world must be a very hard place for people who do things like that.”

” I’m speechless. ” Milo says.

” Yay. Now shut up, I have to figure something out here.”

Milo sits back and I go back to the water’s edge and after a few minutes he asks:

” Is it working?”

” Nope.”

“Do you honestly expect for that to work?”

” Nope.” I say as it starts to rain.

And after it’s been raining for awhile and I’m sure Milo is soaking wet I turn around and tell him ” you have to give me points for at least trying.”

” I’m out of here.” Milo stands up and before he can move an inch I say,

” Oh go ahead Milo. Hey I know. Take the Jeep. Go ahead, why not? Oh yeah, I know why not. You can’t drive. The last time you were mobile it was back in the horse and carriage days and even back then the horses hated you.”

” They didn’t hate me.”

” Well, afraid of you then, it’s probably because of your unique body chemistry. Still, maybe things have sorted themselves out between the time you were a ghost haunting my Journal and you were reunited with your reanimate-able corpse. “

” My what? God, the things you can do to the English Language. There has to be a price to be paid for all  you’ve done to it.”

I go back to the Jeep and open up the door on the drivers side and as I reach under the seat I say, ” I have an idea. To bad you’re not going to be around to see it. Later Milo.”

Milo looks at what I have in my hands and then he watches me walk to the water’s edge I turn around smile and reach down and touch the edge of my book into the water and from across the water came a crackle and a hiss and then in the distance a boom of thunder.

” Cool, isn’t it? Must be some kind of residual energy thingy.”

Milo rolls his eyes up and turns away and before he can start walking I say, ” go ahead then take it, take the Jeep. Just climb on in and sit down and the turn the key and off you go.”But if you’re scared I understand.”  I lean over and touch the Journal to the surf and I can feel the hair on the back of my arms start to raise up.

” Do you know what? I think I will.”

” Ain’t no time like the present. So long Milo and remember the first law governing the Clutch Driven Universe we live in, if you can’t find’em grind’em.”

Milo reaches out for the jeep and just as he touches the door handle I drop my journal into the water and then there’s a boom and a hiss and the black skyover us turns white and the water  is glowing blue.

When the light fades Milo is standing there with his hand on the Jeep and his eyes are full of flames. ” Was that really necessary.”

I point out across the water and in the distance is one of those old time steamships and as it comes closer we can hear music. ” I wanted to make sure they saw us.”

” Did you. “

” Yep.”

” You could have used a flare, in fact you could have used a half dozen of them seperately or even all at the same time.”

” We have flares? ” I asked.

” Yes we do. They’re in a big white box in the back of the Jeep. You know, the one marked ” Traveler’s Emergency Kit.”

” I did not know that.”

There are two life boats making their way towards us on the tide, further out  we can see the ship and we can see the lights from it twinkling on top of the calm black water.

” Hmmm. Wow. I guess that goes to show you I am not a detail orientated person.”

” Of all the tall tales you have told, that one has to be the tallest.”

I’m not listening to Milo.

I’m thinking about a ship full of people and a boatload of questions as I walk around to the back of the Jeep and pop open the white box marked ”  Traveler’s Emergency Kit. 

 And then I said to Milo as I take out the flare gun and walk to the water’s edge and point it  up.

 ” Milo. I haven’t even started yet.”

 

N.B.

 

morguefile.com

The tall man with the mismatched eyes was looking down at Valaria and when she looked back up at him she thought, for a second about her brother.

Two years ago, before Valaria joined the crew of the SS Vulcania her brother had died backing his car out of her driveway.

When she went out to him, when she got to him the only way she could- by climbing through the shattered windshield- she got him to open his eyes- which were awake but empty.

He died a few seconds later.

She looked down and busied her hands with her computer keyboard so that she could busy her eyes.

” Excuse me. ” he said the man- in a voice which did not match his eyes and Valaria found she could look up- a little.

” I’m looking for my friend, I was wondering if you could help me.”

” Why, yes I can. ” Valaria laughed at the simple request. ” We can page her.”

” No. You don’t understand. I’ve already looked for her…”

Valaria didn’t wonder why the man didn’t seem to understand what page meant- English was not exactly a dominate language on the Vulcania. ” I mean Sir, I can call out for her on the intercom – there are speakers on each deck- we can call her name and have her meet you, well, here for instance unless you’d like to meet her someowhere else.”

” So everyone on the ship will hear her name?”

Valaria nodded encouragingly, ” that way if she doesn’t hear the page someone else will and…”

” Everyone will hear her name, she’d like that.” he muttered. ” Okay, yes if you will please have Sunny meet Milo-“

Valaria was reaching for the intercom button. ” Milo Tillanghast?”

” Yes that’s me.”

” Actually Sir, there’s a message for you hear already.” She walked back to the wall where the mail was kept and slid a note out of space 471.

Her hand shook a little, all on it’s own as she handed it across the counter and Valaria noticed the man saw it. She also saw that instead of looking confused or even a little offended at her reaction to getting any closer to him he only sighed.

” Thank you. ” he said as he turned away and unsealed the envelope.

Milo.

the note read

Run.

And for Godsakes, stay out of the Cargo Hold.

Are you running yet?

I’ll bet you’re not, I’ll bet you’re just standing there.

It doesn’t matter where you go.

Just do it.

NOW.

S.L.

ps you’re going to be great.

Written by Anita Marie

March 22, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized