Saturday, July 14, 2018

Sunset beach.

Hope hurts, it can be like a finger nail aggravating a wound.
I sat feeling the august sun on my face. the sun in its own warming way gave me hope but only as I watched it hang temporally above the horizon. I had made the deal and tonight at 8:42 it was time to pay. The beach never looked so beautiful. So many decisions and roads I could have taken. I sat on my crumbled piece of concrete listening to the waves crashing and staring at the beautiful purple dusk above. I could smell the warm nostalgic trace of faraway bonfires as the cool evening wind picked up. So many ways my life could have been but this was it and it seemed right.

At about eight thirty my sense of place in the universe slipped away giving into a fear that made my heart cold and therefore my blood. Suddenly the comforting beauty and endlessly promising horizon had been engulfed in a suffocating darkness.  The soothing sound of the waves crashing where now a menacing barrage heralding what was coming with each ever more deafening crash. 

About a minute before my toll was due my heart and mind had reached such a state I probably wouldn’t have been worth much from then on anyway. That’s when I felt his boney fingers on my shoulder and suddenly I was ok again. I did not want to look at him, this time I knew he had come to me in his true form.

His grasp reminded me of why I had struck the deal on that rainy day sitting on my knees in the middle of the street. Briefly I remembered how it felt there in surrounded by the musk of street dust mixed with warm summer rain. Sitting hoping an unsuspecting driver would come and take away the pain. 

Now as he squeezed my shoulder I remembered my baby girl shinny and red, her little body bent and broken in that car seat. I also remembered hearing the unnerving snaps and pops as it seemed to put itself back together as he promised. At 8:42 he pulled on my shoulder, backwards and down I fell, my flesh began to burn but all I felt was the warmth of knowing she was going to be ok.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Last trek

The drips of water slowly built up, then would cascade down the glass in little bursts. I stood and watched this little spectacle from the hall just outside the icu on St Meredith’s second floor. The water seemed to snake downward as the nurse spoke behind me.

“it’s time, if you want to speak to her you should now”

Tears began to cascade like the rain drops on the pain I silently waved the nurse away.

I don’t regret my lack of words that day, only not being able to see her once more.

I want to think I raised my boys well they are both doing good financially and have good women steering them straight. John has two beautiful girls. I am sure Gerald will be a great father if or when the time comes. Those boys will be alright.

Funny the way I drank I always figured liver disease would be my drought. But it was cancer for me too. We were connected me and her one last time. Getting up to pee four times a night I guess isn’t always just a part of getting old.

John would have understood but for all his ego I knew Gerald never would. That’s why I never gave either a clue even when it got bad. I was lucky enough with excuses when they came by. Maybe Jeanie was looking out on this. When the time came I took care of my matters and was able to slip out for my last walk.

It was a blue morning with a sun so warm you could feel it before it rose. The air smelt like pine and held heavy with the early day’s humidity. As I started off on the path from my old Chevy pickup I thought of my boys and their family: Gerald’s ornery grin and Johnny’s wife Jen’s angelic smile.

I walked into those woods knowing full well it was my last. I had a lot of experience taking my boys on local day hikes and camping. I also had a good bit of the pacific north’s forest to choose from. I didn’t want my body found if I could help it, if otherwise I wanted at least to leave just scattered bones.

With my truck parked and alibi given I took my walk. Damn that morning sun was beautiful, kinda like Jeanie’s smile

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who could ask for more?

He watched a brown leaf flutter and dance in the autumn air on the way to the ground. The fading sun warmed Stan’s face as a cool afternoon breeze gave a hint of the chilly night to come. Stanley felt lonely; he had wanted to partake in the festivities. Sitting on the ancient brick wall that lined the steps to the old courthouse he surveyed the celebration of Sleepy Meadow’s Fall Festival from a distance.

It used to be called All Hallows Eve celebration. Back when you could still go in the court house. Back when the old redbrick-walled and gabled roofed building was a living part of the town that surrounded it. Now it was just the center of a park. A place seldom used but for festivities like the Fourth of July picnic and of course the Fall Fest. 

A dozen old and knurled oaks stood throughout the park. Some so old people said they were saplings back when old Ben flew his kite. Stan had often wondered what sights these giants had seen over the centuries. Today they gave the hay-bale mazes, hot dog vendors and bouncy houses shade. One grayer and taller then the rest was named old glory. It was said to have held the ropes around many-a-horse thief and some say even a few witches’ necks. 

Stan gazed up at its skeletal-like branches reaching into the darkening sky. While sitting there daydreaming he heard a voice that seemed to be part of the cold autumn breeze.

“You look all dressed up with nowhere to go.” 

She was beautiful but pale like a porcelain doll. Stan felt uncomfortable since he knew what she meant. He had put his best suit on and painted his face that of a skeleton. He did so for his love of Halloween but without little ones or other reason, he felt too misunderstood to join the rest. She was dressed up too. But unlike him she wore a Victorian dress and pale make-up and did so very fittingly.

“I am going to an All Hallows Eve Party, want to go Stanley?” Her voice again was like a whisper on the wind.

“Sure!” he said excited, without a thought as to how she knew his name.
Jumping down from the stairs he took her outreached hand which felt cold under a satin glove.

“Are you sure I’ll be welcomed?”  Stanley asked.

A breeze blew again through the old oaks; it was a bit stronger this time and Stanley shuttered. He looked at his new companion. Up close her eyes were dark, almost black but beautiful. She gently caressed his chin.

“Don’t be silly, come on.”

They walked while the sun set and each house began to light there jack-o-lanterns. Glowing smiles and the smell of burning candles greeted them as they passed. Few words were spoken; Stanley sensed his new friend was just as charmed by the dusk as he was. A bit of hesitation crept in when he realized where they were headed. On the outskirts of town just past the railroad tracks there was a tree canopied dirt road that led up to the old Barton mansion. 

It had belonged to one of Sleepy Meadows founding families. The house had been abandoned for years. The old groves around it had grown wild hiding any trace of what was at the end of the road. The house was almost all but forgotten by town’s adults. Urban legends and dares kept its memories alive and well with the children. Only the bravest youth or drunken teen would cross the fallen wrought iron gate and head up the path for a glimpse. None were ever brave enough to do so at night.

They made their way across the field to where the twisted bits of rust that was once a gate laid half buried in soft earth. A huge hunter’s moon hung high in the sky casting a pale blue on everything. The light penetrated the trees just enough to make the path navigable. The smell of dust and damp rotted wood filled the air. Stanley stopped and gently tugged her hand back. She stopped in one of the rays of moon light and almost seemed to glow. Turning to Stanley she got him moving again with a sweet reassuring smile and head nod.

A few minutes later the road gave way to a clearing and there it was. A giant brick monument to decay. Three stories, each surrounded by windows that held only shards of glass. The windows seemed to be so black even the unhindered moonlight could not breach them or the darkness inside the house. What bothered him more was there were no sounds coming from inside.

“Are you sure this is safe, I thought there was a party?” Stanley said looking up at the silently ominous structure before him.

“Stanley don’t be afraid of what you don’t see, do you want to come to our celebration?”

Before he answered she asked again with those sad but lovely doll eyes.

He said yes.

Her smile became sinister and her blood red lips glistened as razor sharp teeth bit into his throat. She picked his lifeless corpse up. With the dead man over her shoulder she walked up to large wooden doors. Delicately she laid him on the cold stone floor beside one door. Standing she rapped the iron ring of the door knocker. Three loud knocks echoed inside the house and rang like thunder throughout the clearing. 

The door opened, light, laughter and music projected from inside. She felt a boney hand on her shoulder and looked to see Stanley standing beside her.

“Don’t run away it’s only me” Stanley said with a spectral grin.
She smiled back and held his ghostly hand, together they went in to enjoy the party. 

Happy Halloween!

Copyright S Williams 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In the garage.

“Get her in, they’ll be coming soon.“  Those were the first words I remember my father saying, the first I understood anyway. maybe not what they meant, not then.

To be honest all of us kids knew we were sheltered somehow. I know I had more of a childhood than most did, and that it was due to my mom and dad’s efforts. Back then I just thought I was spoiled, you know upper crust. Like somehow I deserved the ignorance that was the true gift they gave me.

I didn’t know it by name then but it was Atonement day that day. The carbon smell of my father’s welder filled my play room and had brought me to the garage. Before that I had been watching my favorite tapes on the TV. Grandma had told me about how there used to be new shows you didn’t need tapes for. Seemed like one of her stories but I was happy with my tapes. Pressing stop, I walked over and opened the door to the garage to see sparks flying. That’s when dad shut the welder off and yelled at mom who I didn’t know was standing just behind me.  “Get her in, they’ll be coming soon.“ he said.

I now know two things for certain. First my father had struggled for an old ideal, that of normalcy, a good wish for a father but it was a false sense of hope and led to arrogance.  And second that my father was a tough sob.

Up until then dad had been caught up in the trading and growing of crops and the dream of a real life for my sister Lisa and me.  Maybe it snuck up on him that year or maybe he was just tired, but Atonement day came.

I remember he screamed at mom to get me inside. I remember that garage where sis and my skates sat on the corner floor, laces collecting dust on cold old concrete slab. My thoughts go back to where dad’s work bench was and it’s smell of rust and oil; smells that both of which remind me of him.

You see atonement day came like it did every ten years. It was the last holy day left to us since the apocalypse. The ones that weren’t called to a better place. It was the day the demons came to separate or take those unsaved and not righteous.

I now know that day in the garage my dad had been getting iron traps ready and perfecting ol Betsy, a gas powered saw thing.  I never saw him again after he yelled at me to go back in that night. I learned to fight that night too, but it was in the morning when I saw on my lawn the ripped and torn bits of demon that I knew the fight could be won.

Do I know if he could have saved mom and sis, I don’t? I know dad tried. I know if it wasn’t for his efforts and possibly those of my own I wouldn’t be here, I am still here fighting. 

Copyright S Williams 2013