A Memorial in the Middle of the Park

Maddie sits with her grandparents in their parlor. They smile sweetly at her and she twists her red hair.

This room isn’t big enough for the three of us she thinks.

The bright afternoon is suffocating.

Is your mother doing well then Grandma Lan asks.

Yes well Maddie answers.

Good. Good. All so good.

Maddie wonders what is in the big wood chest under the window as she sips her ice tea. Granddad stares at her fingers as they twirl her hair.

Nervous about something he asks.

No.

Your chi is out of whack. You need to center yourself.

Yeah. Maybe.

Granddad has a long beard and smokes pot. She thinks he may be propositioning her some and stops twisting her hair.

What is in the chest Grandma Lan she asks.

Oh this and that. Mementos I have collected and saved over the years. There are some things that are for you after I pass away.

Maddie finds this disturbing but thanks her grandmother anyway.

I’ve got to go. For a walk she says as she stands and walks over to the door to put on the boots she just removed fifteen minutes ago. I need some fresh air and want to look around the neighborhood.

Would you like to help me prepare dinner when you come back Grandma Lan asks we are having BURR – REE – TOES.

Maddie takes note of a picture on the wall by the door of her father as a boy in a soccer uniform and leaves without answering. The air is hot and white. A moderately intoxicated man down the road wears sunglasses while driving his lawnmower.

The outside smells of corn and sulfur. Each house is distinct from the last that she passes, and all in various stages of care. She is stifled by all of the green that she sees.

There is a sense of familiarity that permeates the town. It feels to her as if she is living through a reoccurring dream. One that she always forgets the moment she wakes up.

Entering the commercial district Maddie dives into the entry way of a boarded up post office. She lights a cigarette. There are the voices of several teenagers nearby. Wanting to avoid them she decides to change the direction she was going to go when she leaves.

She ends up in a park located nearly in the center of town. At the bathrooms she buys a bottle of water from a vending machine.

There is a memorial in the middle of the park. A stone dome with ionic columns and a hole in its roof. Some people say the hole was caused by a meteor that crashed through the roof. Others speculate it was a piece of a doomed aircraft. The newspaper stated it was an unknown object that fell from the sky. Whatever it was it was removed long ago. The hole was left as a curiosity and town attraction though. Now none pay it any attention.

Maddie spots the teenagers that she heard back at the shutdown post office. She can tell them by the sound of their voices. There are three boys and two girls. They notice her and she knows it and straightens her skirt. She regrets her choice of shirts. A tight bright blue t-shirt.

Two weeks Maddie thinks two weeks and then…

And she doesn’t know. She does not know if it even matters.

You have another one of those Granddad asks appearing behind her. Not even aware she lit another cigarette Maddie offers him one by holding the box out. Thought you might want the company. Probably wrong though.

No. You’re not wrong.

Maddie lights his smoke and they are quiet for a while. The teenagers are at one of the park picnic tables. A boy jumps off of it. He splays his legs in a mock stage jump. He is wearing a green shirt with a Chinese Dragon which Maddie finds ridiculous.

It’s been a long time since you have been here. You were ten I think.

Eight.

Right. Is it a lot different Granddad looks into her eyes. She looks away. At her fingernails.

No. Not different at all.

Suppose not. Things don’t change here much.

Gazing back up to the hole she studies its jagged sharp edges. There is a reddish hue to them. It contrasts the pale white stone of the building.

Know what caused that Granddad asks.

A meteor.

No. The devil.

A devil fell from the sky she asks incredulous.

No. THE devil fell from the sky.

She laughs Why would the devil come here.

Who knows. Some believe he’s here still. Granddad puts out his cigarette on the trash can lid and smiles at her. Let’s go get some of Grandma’s burritos.

Maddie smiles back.

The girl’s shadow came alive
one afternoon under the spell
of an April sun.

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This is a short piece that I have planned to incorporate into a larger work of fiction I am writing. I have posted on here writings from that work in The_Creature_Wakes, and in The_Deerfields, but I kind of like this as well as a stand alone poem.

Buying a House – A Short Story

“So it is serious then?”

“Well, we bought a house.”

“Does it have a large lawn?”

“It does, yes.”

“Then that is serious. And fortuitous. Congratulations! I am sure the two of you will be very happy with long lives and whopping big children. Maybe they will all play basketball.”

“Thank you! But I am not sure about the basketball part. I am afraid we are both a little on the short end. And we like soccer better.”

“I would never have thought that. I mean, you I can see are, as you said, a bit on the small side. Though I would say petit would be a more suitable word. But him I vision a tall, masculine man with the grace of a cat. Like he was a lost child of Ginger Rodgers.”

“He is graceful. You have that right. But just not that tall. Actually, he pretty short.”

“A short, graceful man? You don’t say. Very peculiar.”

“And the back yard is large. The house, I mean. It has a large back yard.”

“And the front?”

“Quite small. Almost non-existent.”

“Hmm.”

“What?”

“Well, there is something about a large back yard only. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say it would be perhaps a need to hide something.”

“Do you really think so?”

“I’m sorry, but yes. It is all very psychological. Who chose the house?”

“Well, we both did. But he found it.”

“Did he?”

“Yes, and he said I would love it.”

“Do you?”

“I did. But now I don’t know. What could he be hiding?”

“It is hard to tell. Maybe a past event. Perhaps a secret lover. Or it could be a behavior he wants to make sure is not found out. Not knowing him better, I cannot really say.”

“Oh, but it all sounds too awful no matter what it is. What a terrible position I have found myself in.”

“Yes, you might want to take care.”

“I will. I will. But I don’t know what to do. What would you suggest?”

“Well if it were me, I would make sure to keep him away from liquor. And monitor his computer use. Does he use his phone much?”

“All the time.”

“Yes, that would have to change too.”

“That all makes sense. Except the liquor. He never drinks.”

“Really?”

“No. He will not touch a drop. He is very astute and serious. And he says drinking causes him to bloat and have gas.”

“That does sound sensible on his part. If that is the case, I would have him start to drink. It could be the thing to open his defenses and start to root out all his hidden secrets.”

“Of course! What a brilliant plan. You are a genius, you know. I mean it. With how you style your hair and all. It is like you are George Orwell and Margaret Thatcher all in one.”

“You are too kind. Such a tender compliment as I respect both with the utmost of satisfaction.”

“What drink should I start with, do you think?”

“I would go with something light, subtle, and demanding. Not vodka. It is too brutal. Oh, I know! Tequila! Yes. Specifically margaritas. Those will tempt the demon from him.”

“I hope it is not too dastardly a demon. I don’t think my heart can take it.”

“Oh dear, I am sorry to say but dastardly or not your heart is not safe. Demons of any size feast on the human heart. I would rather it be a large demon to have my heart be devoured all at once, instead of slowly like those little shit ones will do.”

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So this would be my second short story I have posted that is dialog only. They are fun and enjoyable to write. Sometimes I want to break in and add more narrative, or descriptions, but then I think it will spoil the story, so I keep myself in check. Hope you enjoyed and thank you for reading.

Stanley – A Short Story – Part I

The following is the beginning to a short story I wrote a while ago, but was unsatisfied with and never finished. I have revised the first part and am planning on doing the same to the rest and finally finishing it. I will be posting it in weekly installments as I finish each section. That is the plan at least. If I am able to get it in direction I like. So, hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading.

Stanley – Part I

Washing his hands, Stanley watches the water turn a piss colored yellow as it runs over them and into the basin. He wonders if something is wrong with his health. That maybe he should make a doctor’s appointment. He sticks his head under the faucet to wet his hair down. Likes how the heat of the water streaming out of the faucet contrasts with the cold that has seeped into the house with the overnight chill.

Drops trickle down his neck as he towel dries and then brushes his hair. He checks his reflection in the mirror. Something catches his eye. Perhaps it is a sudden flash of insight into some lingering desperation. But not being able to place it, he quickly dismisses it, pushes it out of his mind, and moves on to brushing his teeth.

Down the stairs he walks quietly so as not to wake up Sophie. He goes to his study and takes a gun out of his desk. A pistol with a dull black handle. He removes the clip and does a quick but meticulous inspection. Reloads it. Puts it in a holster at his breast.

From the family room he hears the TV turn on. Cartoons playing. His youngest son, Pete, has just woken up. Stanley says good morning to him as he passes by the room on his way to the front door. Pete does not reply. Stanley puts on his hat and coat and whistles for Baxley. The dog walks casually up to him, and they go outside.

An early morning frost tickles the air. Clings to the grass. Burns his lungs. He surveys his property from the front porch. A long stretch of tree covered hills in an area once populated by loggers. The nearest neighbor, Mike Rinaldi, is a quarter-mile downhill. A good distance. Mike is a mechanic who Stanley trusts, and they have become friends over the years. Both enjoy the rugged solitude of the area. And they both appreciate the good fishing found in the lake that borders their properties.

Marcello’s Revenge – Chapter 10 – Mustard Seed on Mars

Here is the last chapter of Part I of Marcello’s Revenge. This will conclude my postings of the novel. I am working on part two and hope to have it finished by the end of the year. I hope you enjoyed it and thank you very much for reading it. Feel free to comment as feedback is always welcome and appreciated. You can find all the chapters:

HERE

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I was in the common room of the Galloway Treatment Center. A large spacious area with rows of plastic folding tables with benches, and chairs lined up by large windows for their clients to enjoy the scenery. It was, all in all, a dining area, but called the common room as people would socialize there, play games, meet guests or family members, or just spend some time to themselves reading. There are no televisions in Galloway, but there is a centralized radio with speakers mounted in the ceiling of the common room and in the hallways, and over it The Circle Game was playing at a low volume.

A bright, nearly blinding white light caused by the morning sun reflecting off of the newly fallen snow and white clouds hanging heavy in the sky illuminated the room. There was only one occupant, an elderly woman I guessed from her short gray hair, sitting in an Adirondack chair, looking out a window with her back to me. I approached her, and at reaching her side found it to be Sophia. Her face was youthful, smooth and lovely as when we were just married, but her hands were wrinkled and marked with liver spots and thick blue veins, as aged as her hair. A plaid, woolen blanket covered her from the waist down, though it was quite warm in the room. Continue reading

Marcello’s Revenge – Chapter 9 – Bedtime Poetry

Here is Chapter 9 of Marcello’s Revenge, and the second to last one for part 1. I will be posting the last chapter of this part shortly. This chapter contains a poem which I have posted on this site as well titled Drinking My Boyfriend.  Other installments can be found:

HERE

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It turned out that Emma was something of an amateur artist. In her purse, which was really no more than a large white bag, she had three notebooks full of her writings, sketches and doodles. Well, two were full, the third was about three-quarters complete. Mainly they contained poems she had written since leaving her boyfriend a year prior. Being her only true possession, she carried them everywhere and never left them behind. She wrote a poem that day, and read it to Francine and me after Detective Porter had left.

The meeting between me and the inspector went well, a friendly discussion that, unfortunately for him, did not reveal any more than what I had already previously stated to the police on the scene. He is a nice man, bald and dark-skinned, on the short side with a graying goatee, and he kept the knot of his tie loose, the top button of his shirt left unfastened. Francine greeted him kindly when he arrived, and nonchalantly escorted him to the back patio where he and I alone conversed, sipping ice water and eating baby carrots and celery. Emma was in what had been the spare room, but on that day officially turned into her own.

The detective attempted to probe me a couple of times, rephrasing a couple of questions in a different fashion in an attempt to see if I would trip up, seeking for anything that I or the initial investigation may have overlooked. Yet I had left my story simple, that I went into the room to use the bathroom, discovered the body, and called the victim’s father. I proceed to call Emergency when asked to do so by Jacob.
Continue reading

Marcello’s Revenge – Chapter 8 – Julie and the Alligator Man – Part II

Here is the second part of Marcello’s Revenge Chapter 8. I began it with the last line of my previous post for reference. Other installments can be found:

HERE

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“Well,” Francine said turning to Julie, “will you tell us what happened? You don’t know who it was that murdered Matt, do you?”

“No,” Julie replied looking down into her empty coffee cup.

“Perhaps Julie would like to have a little time, love.”

“Yes, you are quite correct, Robin. I am sorry Julie. That was terribly rude of me. It was such a terrible event, and I was just so excited for any news. I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, I don’t mind. It’s ok. It might even be nice to talk about it to someone, and I don’t know who else I would be able to tell. I don’t know who the murderer was. There were four men, but only one did it. The rest just stood around. All of them in long black robes, like the kind you see kids wear at graduation. And they all had animal masks on.”

“Animal masks?” Francine asked.

“Yes, plastic animal masks. There was a lion, a bird, a pig and an alligator. And they also had hoods on so that their hair was covered. All I could make out were their shoes. And one of them had a gold watch.”

“Why did you go down to the basement? Did they bring you down there?” I asked.

“No. Matt said he had to meet someone down there.”

“Do you know who?”

“Only that it was supposed to be a guy named John. I thought it was his supply guy or something.”

“How do you know his name is John?”

“Because that is the name Matt used when we got to the room. We came in and there were three guys…”

“I thought you said there were four?” Francine said.

“I did. Hold on a minute. So we came in and there were these three guys. One of them stood near the door and closed it after we were in. He was wearing the bird mask. Then Matt said ‘What the fuck is this shit, John? Who are these guys?’ Kind of laughing, but I could tell he was a little nervous. The guy in the lion mask said ‘Shut up and get over here.’ You could tell he was trying to disguise his voice. Making it all gravely and rough. Matt walked over, confident, like nothing was really wrong. He went right up to the lion man and said ‘Who the fuck are you? Where is John?’ Then the lion man drew a gun from his robes and pointed it at Matt. ‘Shut the hell up, and stand right there.’ Matt backed up against the pool table. ‘You girl, come over here and stand here next him,’ the lion man said to me. And I did. Then the door to the bathroom opened and out walked the fourth masked man. He had the alligator mask. All he said was ‘Turn around’. And we did.” She stopped. “I’m sorry, but could I have another one of those?” she asked, and after I passed the pack to her, she took a smoke out and drew a deep breath before lighting it. Fresh smoke curled and twisted in front of her face.
Continue reading

Marcello’s Revenge – Chapter 8 – Julie and The Alligator Man – Part I

Here is part one of chapter 8 of Marcello’s Revenge. A chapter I am not altogether satisfied with, to tell the truth. A necessary installment, but one I think rushes the narrative a bit. Though I am a bit undecided on how to edit and in an attempt to qualify Julie’s ease with Robin and her willingness to divulge information, I have attempted to rectify this, but feel more is needed, and perhaps a complete rewrite depending on the course of the narrative as it develops. I think it will eventually come down to it, but at this point am hesitant until I am more aware of the course it takes. But anyway, for those who enjoy long reads and have been following the story thus far, here is the first part. Hope you enjoy  and thank you for reading.

Earlier installments can be found:

HERE

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 Julie was in the shadows, between the light that spilled out of the open bedroom door and that which filled the front room. There was a heavy awkwardness, her schuncy eyes staring at me and the highball glass I carried where the unserviceable remnants of ice cubes and the pimpled green skin of a lime wedge gleamed. “Good morning,” I said in an attempt to ease the uncomfortable tension.

“Morning,” She said hesitantly, looking around and noting the location of the front door. “Where am I?”

“My house.”

“And who are you?”

“My name is Robin Mentor. And you are Julie Stills, correct?”

“Yeah, that’s right. How did I get here?”

“Francine and I brought you. She is the one who took you from the party out to our car. Oh, it was also she who got you ready for bed when we got here. If you should have had any concerns.”

“Who’s Francine?”

“My girlfriend.”
Continue reading

The Creature Wakes – A Short Story

Deep under the house, with its dark halls and rooms filled with the nostalgic talismans left by past occupants, the monster was woken. A creature whose shadow, hate and despair had years ago seeped down into the foundation and clung to the walls. With foul, venomous breath it infected the air as it took shape, grotesque and unseen. It rose, called by a desire to devour the love it felt had invaded its domain. Up the stairs it crept to the master bedroom and out to the balcony overlooking the long yard with its crumbling wall. There it spied the two girls playing near the fountain with their father sitting and writing at a table on the patio, and its heart was filled with an awful lust. But, as it lifted its gaze to the bordering woods, it saw a fox sitting in the shade of the trees. The fox’s eyes were fixed upon the creature with a curious smile twisting along its mouth. And the creature knew then the fox, yet it was too late to prepare a defense. Three piercing barks shot forth from the animal, and the creature felt its body dissipate in their wake. Its form shattered. However its spirit, potent and still dangerous, could not be undone, and it settled over and filled the house, hungering in the dark for death and disease. The fox, with a satisfied air about it, looked over to the girls, catching the older one’s gaze, and they became transfixed on each other

“Dad it’s a fox. Look!” the younger one yelled.

But before the dad could see the fox spun about and ran quickly off deep into the woods.

 

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This is really a scene I wrote which is a part of The Deerfields, and both belong to a longer piece I am writing. To read The Deerfields, you can find it here:

https://marcellosrevenge.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/the-deerfields-a-short-story/

Coffee and Crakers – A Short Story

“We are out of time and out of rice.”

“It’s no problem. I’ll just run out to the store.”

“No. No. It is a missed opportunity. The kids will be awake soon. And anyway my apron needs a washing.”

“You have at least a dozen aprons. Are they all in the laundry?”

“You are hopeless. We will never understand one another.”

“That’s true. We are too alike, perhaps. I didn’t really want to go to the store anyway.”

“Well at least the coffee is done brewing. We have that still don’t we? Would you like a cup? I have some fresh cream. And cherries.”

“Cherries just are not the same to me anymore. But I will take some coffee. Black please.”

He goes to the cupboard that smells of nutmeg. There is sugar and a loaf of bread, but he takes some crackers. They are dry and salty. She is thinking to herself, and it shows in the wrinkles by her eyes. Suddenly there is a knock on the door.

“Don’t answer it. I don’t think I can handle the news.”

“But what if it is only the postman trying to deliver a package?”

“Then he can leave a note.”

“But that is rather silly, isn’t it? I am sure he knows we are home.”

“It’s not the postman, and you know it.”

“I don’t care. I just want to drink my coffee and eat my crackers.”

“They will make you fat, you know.”

“Which one?”

“The hell with you. And that damn knocking. Fuck it. I am going to answer it. I cannot go back to sleep with all the coffee and excitement.”

“It is good to confront your fears. They help you to grow.”

“Fear keeps us safe, and makes us cowards. You more so than others. If you owned any type of bravery you would be the one answering the door.”

“But no longer be a coward. It would ruin your opinion of me, and then what would I be?”

“I don’t know. Something. Which is at least better than what you are now.”

“I see.”

“Do you?”

She answers the door and it is James. He shuffles his feet and will not meet her eyes, stumbling about with his words like a madman, trying to find the most delicate way to speak with her. It was his fault, he says, or she translates from the confusing jumble.

“James, please.”

“But…my wife…kids, they are everything to me. Please, you must know. How do I put it? I have been a wreck. I can’t sleep with her anymore. I am on the couch. There is a TV nearby so I watch commercials at two in the morning. I feel like I am drowning.,,”

“James, seriously. You sound drunk. Are you? No, don’t answer. I don’t really care. But you are embarrassing yourself. This is all too much, and is an awful bore. I have nothing to say to you. Go find yourself a gentle patch of grass and watch the trees grow for a while. That might give you some perspective.”

“Is Daniel home? Can I talk to him?”

“Oh yes, he is, but he will not want to speak with you. He is busy, you see, with crackers and coffee.”

“Well, will you tell him I am sorry?”

“No. Oh, I mean I am sure he heard the whole thing and is very indifferent to the affair. He means to paint, and is entirely wrapped up in that endeavor. This leaves him no time for the citizens of this world, like us, dangling by our knitting and our frailties. Now please, go away. I cannot take too much more of this. Come back to me, when your mind is right.”

“But..I…Oh, Helen, please. I…”

“Goodbye James.”

She closes the door and walks back to the dining room. Daniel has finished his crackers and is sipping his coffee softly watching the light on the grass, admiring the shades of yellow.

“I am not painting. Or even thinking of doing so. Why say such a thing?”

“James is threatened by you. He feels you are superior to him so I play to this indulgence of his.”

“An interesting tactic. What do you hope to gain from him?”

“Compassion. And he bears it. The poor fool. He feeds me his compassion and I drain him of it so soon he will be nothing but a cocoon with a rotting caterpillar inside. Oh, don’t look at me that way. What you have done is worse by far.”

“And what is that?”

“Destroyed me. I watch the kids sometimes. I love them. But I watch them as if I were outside myself, with my eyes vacant and my heart empty. No feeling. And it is because I am no longer here. And the pity is they don’t know it. They hug me and cannot feel the cold corpse that I am. It is funny. I thought about suicide, you know. Seriously considered it. But I knew that it would mean nothing. That here, now, I am dead. A void of life that can only look to others to destroy in turn.”

“And you blame me for this?”

“For everything.”

“Then why stay?”

“Because you do. You stay and it gives me the opportunity to kill you.”

“Love. Blind and fruitless.”

“And why do you stay?”

“I suppose it is due to the fact there is nothing else out there. Where would I go? It would all be the same and pointless.”

“There is Jenny. I better start breakfast for her.”