Classics Translated

The Signal-Man

Charles Dickens, first published 1866; translated into Modern English, otherwise exactly the same. 

“Hello! Down below!”

When he heard me calling to him, he was standing at his box’s door with a short flag rolled in his hand. Considering what was said, my location should have been obvious, but instead of looking up to where I stood atop the steep ledge – he looked down the tracks. There was something remarkable about the way he did it, though – for the life of me – I cannot say what. It was enough to attract my attention even though he was hard to see down in the deep trench. I was high above him, blinded by the glow of an angry sunset; I had to shade my eyes before I could see him at all.

“Hello! Below!”

From looking down the tracks, he turned again and – looking up – saw me standing high above him. “Is there a path I can use to come speak with you?”

He looked up at me without replying, and I looked down at him without repeating my question. Then, the earth began to shake slightly, but it quickly grew violent, and a sudden blast of air caused me to jump back as though I were being pulled down. Steam rose from the speeding train and rolled away over the landscape; I looked down again, and the man was re-rolling his flag after waving it at the passing train.

I repeated my question. He paused, staring at me before pointing his flag towards a spot roughly two or three hundred yards away on my level. I called down, “alright” and made my way over. Looking closely, I found an uneven, zigzagging path and followed it.

The trail was extremely deep and unusually steep. It cut through a clammy type of stone that oozed and became wetter as I went down. The walk took long enough for me to recall a reluctant expression when he pointed out the path.

When I was low enough to see him again, he was standing between the rails, looking as if he were waiting for me to appear. His arms were crossed, and his chin rested in his hands. He seemed surprised that I paused and was wondering why.

I resumed my descent and stepped out onto the railroad; as I got closer to him, I saw that he was a pale man with a dark beard and thick eyebrows. His post was in the loneliest, most dismal place I ever saw. On either side was a dripping-wet wall of jagged stone, blocking out all but a strip of sky. In one direction, only a long, crooked view of this great dungeon could be seen, and the other ended in a gloomy, red light. It was the entrance to a black tunnel, and inside the massive structure was a depressing, forbidding air. So little sunlight ever found this spot, that it had an earthy, deadly smell, and so much cold wind blew through it, that I felt a chill as cold as death.

I was close enough to touch him before he moved. Without taking his eyes from mine, he took one step back and lifted his hand.

This was a lonesome post to occupy, and I said so; when I looked down from above, it instantly drew my attention. I suppose a visitor was rare, but hopefully not unwelcome. He merely saw me as another random person with a new interest in the great wonder of railroads. I spoke to him for that reason, but I am not sure of the words I used; I do not enjoy beginning any conversation, but there was something in this man that intimidated me.

He looked towards the red light near the tunnel’s opening in a very curious way – as if something were missing – and then looked back at me. I asked if that light was part of his job.

He answered in a low voice. “Don’t you know that it is?”

A monstrous thought came to me as I studied his fixed eyes and gloomy face; that he was a ghost, not a man. I stepped back, but in doing so, I saw he appeared frightened. This put an end to my monstrous thought.

“You look as if you are afraid of me.” I said, forcing a smile.

“I think I have seen you before,” he replied.

“Where?”

He pointed to the red light he had looked at.

“There?” I said.

Watching me intently, he replied a silent, “yes.”

“My good man, what would I do there? However, I will swear that I was never there.”

“I think I was mistaken,” he said. “Yes; I am sure I was.”

Our demeanors softened, and his answers to my questions were knowledgeable and interesting. He had many responsibilities, but most importantly, his job required him to be attentive and precise. There was practically no manual labor; he only changed the train signal, trimmed the lights, and sometimes turned an iron handle. When I asked about those long, lonely hours that would bother me so much – he simply said it was routine, and that he had grown used to it. He taught himself a language down there – even if he did form his own crude pronunciations of the words he read. He also practiced fractions and tried a little algebra, but he had no skill for mathematics. I wondered if he was required to stay in that damp tunnel the whole time, or if he could take a break to enjoy the sun. It depended on how busy he was; some days were slower than others. In sunny weather, he often did venture out of the shadows, but he never strayed too far from his electric bell, and he always listened for it nervously; it sounded like it was not worth the anxiety it caused him.

We went into his box where there was a fire, a desk for his logbook, a telegraph machine, and the little bell he previously mentioned. Hoping he would excuse the remark about his education without offense – I could not help notice he seemed educated for his position; he observed that men like himself are much more common than I would think. Men like him often end up in workhouses, the police-force, and even the army in desperate cases; he knew of others in the railroad industry as well. When he was a young student of natural philosophy, he attended lectures, but he also ran wild and wasted opportunities. He had no complaints about it – he made his bed, and he was lying in it; he was far too old to make another.

I condensed everything he said quietly in his dark, serious way; the whole time his attention was split between me and the fire. Occasionally, he threw in the word, “sir,” when referring to his younger days. He was interrupted by the bell several times along with needing to send and receive messages. Once, he had to stand outside waving a flag and shouting something to the driver as a train passed. He was remarkably dedicated to his duties – always stopping his answers mid-sentence until each new task was done.

Basically, I would have sworn he was one of the safest men ever employed in that position… except for the two times he fell silent and pale when the bell did not ring; then, he opened the door and looked towards the red light near the mouth of the tunnel. On both occasions, he came back with the same baffled expression I mentioned before and could not explain why.

When I stood to leave, I said, “You almost make me believe that you are a content man.” Though, I am afraid I must admit this statement was not completely true.

“I believe I used to be, but I am troubled, sir; I am troubled.” He replied in the same, low voice as when he had first spoken.

He would have taken the words back if he could, but I responded quickly. “With what? What trouble?”

“It is very difficult to explain, sir, and very difficult to speak of. If you ever visit again, I will try to tell you.”

“But I specifically intend to visit again. Just say when!”

“I get off early in the morning, and I will return tomorrow night at ten, sir.”

“I will come at eleven.”

He thanked me and walked me out. “I’ll use my white light until you have found the way up, sir. Make sure not to call out when you find it or when you reach the top!” He said in his peculiar low voice.

“Very well.” His manner seemed to make the place colder, but I said no more.

“And when you come tomorrow night, don’t call out! Let me ask you one last question. What made you shout, ‘hello! Down below,’ tonight?”

“Heaven knows… I said something like that—”

“Not ‘like that’, sir. Those were your exact words. I know them well.”

“Yes, those were the very words, but I only said them because I saw you below.”

“There’s no other reason?”

“What other reason could I possibly have?”

“You didn’t feel like they were conveyed to you in a supernatural way?”

“No.”

He wished me goodnight and held up his lamp. I walked alongside the tracks with an unpleasant feeling that a train was coming. When I found the path, it was easier to climb than descend, and I returned to my inn without any trouble.


As promised, I arrived the next night when the clocks were striking eleven. He was waiting for me at the bottom with his white light. “I have not called out; may I speak now?” I said when we were closer.

“By all means, sir.”

“Hello, then.” I extended my hand.

“Hello, sir.” He replied as we shook; then, we closed ourselves in his box and sat by the fire.

“I’ve made up my mind, sir.” He leaned forward and spoke in a whisper. “I’m going to tell you what troubles me. Yesterday, I mistook you for someone else. That troubles me.”

“That mistake?”

“No. The other person.”

“Who is it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do they look like me?”

“I don’t know; their left arm was covering their face, and their right arm was waving violently – like this.” He imitated someone frantically waving their arm around and shouted, “For God’s sake, clear the way!”

“One night,” he continued, “I was sitting here when I heard a voice cry, ‘hello, down there!’ I jumped up, looked outside, and saw this Someone standing by the red light near the tunnel – waving as I just showed you. The voice was hoarse from shouting. ‘Look out! Look out!’ It cried, and then repeated itself. ‘Hello, down there! Look out!’ I picked up my lamp, turned it on red, and ran towards the figure. ‘What’s wrong? What happened? Where?’ I called as it stood just outside the dark tunnel. I got closer and wondered why it was covering its eyes. I ran right up to it, and when my hand stretched out to pull the sleeve away, it vanished.”

“Into the tunnel?” I asked.

“No. I ran 500 yards into the tunnel and lifted my lamp; I saw the distance markers and the wet stains dripping down the walls, trickling through the arch. Then, I ran out even faster than I had entered and looked around the light with my own; I climbed the iron ladder to the gallery, came down again, and ran back here to send telegraphs both ways. I acknowledged an alarm was given and asked if anything was wrong, but the answers stated that all was well.”

I tried to shake the chill that ran down my spine as I told him he must have been mistaken. There were known cases where a sickness in the brain could cause people to see things that were not there; some patients were even aware of the hallucinations. They would prove what was real with various tests. I said, “for an imaginary cry, you only need to listen to the wind blowing through this unnatural valley. Do you hear the wild sound it makes with the telegraph wires?”

We sat listening to the wind for a while, and he thought that was all very well, but he was already familiar with the sound; he had spent many long, lonely winter nights there. Instead, he begged that I allow him to finish his tale.

I asked his forgiveness, and he touched my arm before slowly continuing his story.

“Six hours after I saw it, a horrible accident happened on the tracks, and within ten hours, the dead and wounded were brought through the tunnel – over the spot where the figure had stood.”

I shuddered unpleasantly despite actively trying no to. I admitted this was a remarkable coincidence – it is no wonder it made such an impression on his mind – but the fact is, that remarkable coincidences happen all the time; they must be considered when dealing with such subjects. Though, when I feared my words had offended him, I was sure to add, “men with common sense rarely believe in coincidences when it comes to their daily routines.”

He again begged me to allow him to finish.

I again asked his forgiveness for my interruption.

Again, he laid his hand on my arm and glanced over his shoulder with hollow eyes. “It happened only a year ago; I had recovered from the shock after six or seven months, but one morning – while standing at the door – I saw the ghost near the red light again.” He stopped with his eyes fixed on me.

“Did it cry out?”

“No. It was silent.”

“Did it wave its arm?”

“No. It leaned against the light pole with both hands covering its face. Like this.”

I watched as he imitated the scene; it was a gesture of despair. I have seen the same one in graveyards.

“Did you approach it?”

“I came in and sat down – partly to collect my thoughts, partly because it made me feel faint. When I looked again, the sun had risen, and the ghost was gone.”

“But that was it? Nothing else happened?”

He touched my arm with his finger a few times – nodding in a ghastly way with each poke.

“That same day, when a train came out of the tunnel, I saw into the carriage windows; there was a tangle of waving hands and heads. I saw it just in time to stop the driver. He hit the brakes, but the train continued drifting for another 150 yards. I chased after it, and heard terrible screams and cries along the way. A beautiful young lady had died instantly in one of the compartments, and she was brought here – laid on this floor between us.”

I instinctively pushed my chair back as I looked to where he pointed at the floor.

“It is true, sir. It happened precisely as I said.”

I could not think of anything to say, and my mouth was very dry. The wind and wires sounded like a long, sorrowful wail.

“Now – listen to this and see what you think of my troubled mind. The ghost returned a week ago; ever since, it has been coming and going often.” He continued.

“At the light?”

“At the Danger-light.”

“What does it do?”

He repeated himself with even more passion and intensity – making the same frantic gestures that seemed to say, “for God’s sake, clear the way!” Then he continued. “I get no peace or rest; it calls to me in an agonizing way for several minutes at a time. ‘Look out, down there!” It stands there – waving to me and ringing my little bell—”

“Did it ring your bell yesterday evening when I was here, and you went to the door?” I asked.

“Twice.”

“Do you see how your imagination misleads you? I was looking at the bell; I would have heard it, and it did not ring then or at any other time. It only rang when the station was communicating with you.” I said.

He shook his head. “I have never made that mistake, sir. I have never confused the actions of a man for a spirit’s. When the ghost rings the bell, it has a strange vibration unlike anything else, and I never said the bell physically moved. I’m not surprised that you didn’t hear it, but I heard it.”

“Was the ghost there when you looked outside?”

“It was there.”

“Both times?”

“Both times.” He repeated firmly.

“Will you come to the door with me and look for it now?”

He bit his lip – somewhat unwilling – but rose anyway. I opened the door and waited on the step while he stood in the doorway. There was the Danger-light, the dismal mouth of the tunnel, the high, wet stone walls of the valley, and the stars above them.

“Do you see it?” I asked, carefully studying his face. His eyes were wide and strained but not much more than my own were when I looked at the same spot.

“No,” he answered. “It is not there.”

“Agreed,” I said.

We went inside, shut the door, and took our seats. I was thinking of how I could keep this progress going when he resumed the conversation in a very matter-of-fact way. It seemed as if he would not even consider the facts, and it made my argument sound like the one that was incorrect.

“By now, you should understand what troubles me so much; I must know what the ghost means?” He said.

I was not sure, but I told him that I did understand.

“What is its warning against?” he said, staring into the fire as he contemplated. “What is the danger? Where is it? There is danger hanging over us somewhere on the tracks; some horrible catastrophe will happen. It cannot be doubted after what happened before – this is the third time! This surely is a cruel haunting. What can I do?”He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his heated forehead.

“If I send a danger signal, I won’t be able to give a reason,” he continued, wiping the palms of his hands. “I would get into trouble for nothing. They would think I was crazy. I would say, ‘danger! Take care’ and they would ask what and where the danger was. What should I say then? ‘Don’t know, but for God’s sake, take care!’ They would ignore me – what else could they do?

His pain was very sad to see; he was a good man enduring mental torture. The pressure was more than he could handle.

Pushing his dark hair back and rubbing his temples feverishly, he continued. “When it first stood under the Danger-light, why didn’t it tell me where the accident was going to happen? Why not say how to stop it? The second time – when it hid its face – why didn’t it tell me, ‘she is going to die. Let her stay home’? If it only came to show me that its warnings are true, then why not simply warn me the same way now? And I – Lord help me – am merely a poor Signal-man on this lonely station! Why not go to somebody with credibility and the power to do something?”

Seeing him in this state, I realized I needed to help him regain his composure – for his sake as well as the public’s. Therefore, setting aside the question of real or imaginary, I told him that no matter what – he had done his duty well, and that should be comforting even if he did not understand a confusing ghost’s appearances. That attempt was far more successful than anything else used to reason with him. He calmed, and his workload increased as it grew late. I left at two in the morning; I offered to stay, but he would not hear of it.

I looked back at the red light more than once as I climbed the pathway; I freely admit that I did not like it, and I would have slept poorly beneath it. I did not like the two accidents or the dead girl, either.

What ran through my thoughts most was the consideration of what to do now that I was aware of the situation. The man proved to be intelligent, vigilant, and painstakingly exact, but how long will that last in his state of mind? Though it is a low-ranking position, he still holds an important trust. Would I bet my own life on his chances of continuing with precision?

Ultimately, I felt it would be treacherous to tell his superiors what he told me without first proposing an alternative to him; I resolved I would offer to accompany him to the best doctor we could find. He said that the next night, he would be off an hour or two after sunrise and back after sunset. I decided to return accordingly.


Next evening was lovely, and I left early to enjoy it. The sun was not quite set when I crossed the field near the top of the deep valley. I decided to keep going for an additional half hour to give myself a half hour walk back so it would be time to meet the Signal-man.

Before beginning my stroll, I stepped to the edge and looked down from where I had first seen him. I cannot describe the thrill I felt when – close to the mouth of the tunnel – I saw the figure of a man with his left sleeve across his eyes, frantically waving his right arm.

The nameless horror that struck me passed in a moment when I saw that this man was indeed only a man; there was a small group of men standing nearby, to whom he seemed to be making the gesture. The Danger-light was not yet lit. An entirely new, low structure sat against the light-post; it was made of wooden supports and a tarp, and was no bigger than a bed.

With a strong sense that something was wrong, and – cursing myself for leaving the man alone with no one to supervise or correct him – I descended the path as quickly as possible.

“What is the matter?” I asked the men.

“The Signal-man was killed this morning, sir.”

“Not the man who works in that box?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Not the man I know?”

“You will recognise him if you knew him, sir – his face is in good condition.” The man said, solemnly, removing his hat and raising one end of the tarp.

“Oh, how did this happen – how?” I asked, turning from one to another as the tarp fell back into place.

“He was cut down by a train, sir. No man in England was better at his job, but for some reason, he was not clear of the outer rail. It happened in broad daylight; he turned on the light and had the lamp in his hand. As the train came out of the tunnel, his back was towards her, and she cut him down. That man drove her, and he was demonstrating how it happened; show the gentleman, Tom.”

The man wore a rough, dark suit and returned to his former position at the mouth of the tunnel.

“Coming round the curve in the tunnel, sir, I saw him at the end – as if I were seeing him through a telescope. There was no time to check speed, and I knew him to be very careful. He didn’t seem to take notice of the whistle; I shut it off when we were getting close and called to him as loud as I could.”

“What did you say?”

“I said, ‘down there! Look out! For God’s sake, clear the way!’”

I gasped.

“Ah! it was dreadful, sir. I never stopped calling to him. I put one arm over my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see, and I waved this arm until the last moment, but it was no use.”

Without prolonging the story to dwell on any one curious situation more than another – I may point out the coincidence of the train driver’s warning. It included not only the same words the Signal-man repeated to me, but also the words that only I had attached to the gesture he imitated.

Horror Fiction

Born on 13

This story is dedicated to Patricia, the one boss who truly did treat her employees as family; I owe her more than I can express, and I deserved none of it. She saved even more cats than people; if ever a soul truly deserved paradise, it was hers. 


The CreepyPasta

The following was recorded in New York City during a group session on Friday, August 13, 2021.

EIT 0-3-7


JAMIE:

Hello everyone, I’m Jamie—

GROUP:

Hi Jamie! [light applause]

JAMIE:

[clears throat] Um, well… this is my first time… so, I’m sorry if I sound nervous. It feels a bit strange to just stand up and start telling my story to a room full of strangers…

FATHER PAUL:

Take your time; try to remember – everyone in this room has been exactly where you are. You’re among friends, now. No one is here to judge or label – only listen. No one you see here will ever repeat a word.

JAMIE:

Yessir, thank you. Um, I suppose a little background would be helpful. To understand why I’m here, now – on Friday the 13th – you need to know it’s my birthday. I was born in ‘82, just after midnight during the worst storm of the year. My extremely superstitious mother didn’t even want kids, but between her Catholic upbringing and Dad’s actual desire for children – abortion wasn’t an option. My family isn’t from New York; we lived in a tiny town I guarantee you’ve never heard of.

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna bore you with a whiny rant about my childhood – I just want to convey that I was fully aware of the stigma surrounding my birthday from a young age. When I grew into an angry, rebellious teen, I decided to own that stigma. If it was unlucky for everyone else – it was good luck for me, and I made sure everyone knew it. If someone doubted me, I’d step on every crack, walk under any ladder, and pick up all the pennies on tails they wanted to drop.

In reality, nothing actually happened, but when people are looking for signs, they tend to find them – even if they have to create them. Of course, the more attention I got, the more I wanted to pull my own stunts. I’d try anything; I’d steal from a teacher’s desk, cheat on tests, or jump from the top of the monkey bars. Kids would watch me all day. If the final tally indicated bad luck – I made it into a big joke; if it was good – I thoroughly enjoyed a big round of pompous “told you so’s”.

[group laughs softly]

Haha, yea… I was a snarky little thing… Each year, I grew a bit bigger and braver, but not necessarily wiser. My stunts grew out of hand when I was old enough to drive. I won’t bother telling you about the countless times I almost went through the windshield, but I must have used a lifetime’s worth of luck on that alone. Instead, I’ll just skip to the scare that had a real impact on me.

There are only two cemeteries in my hometown – one for the rich, one for the poor. The city council didn’t want another graveyard in their fancy streets – if poor people wanted a cheap place to bury their dead, they would have to find space on their side of town. The only problem was, they were already packed in like sardines; rows of shotgun houses lined every street for miles until there was barely a foot between the last one and the forest. Eventually, volunteers cleared the land to make room for a new cemetery, but free, unorganized labor is rarely impressive.

I wish there was time to tell you the full story behind it, but essentially, they did the bare minimum every step of the way; you can’t blame them, they just wanted a place to bury their dead, but the end result was one extremely creepy cemetery. Since the first volunteers began the work near their own homes – they were very conscientious of how close the bodies would be. Wanting as much distance as possible, they cleared just enough space for a single-lane road before starting the real work. Today, that road is called Cemetery Drive; it’s almost a mile long and has no street lamps.

The whole situation made for a popular local legend. Back in the day, kids were dared to walk down Cemetery Drive with only a flashlight, but it was a little different by my teen years. Then, the challenge was to drive 10mph with the windows down and no headlights. So, on Friday, July 13th, 2001 – that’s exactly what I did. When six of us drove two cars out there, it felt like we were a big group, but I left my passenger behind with the others to do the dare alone.

That was before smartphones or livestreams; I could have cheated, but it gave me a rush to do this simple thing that terrified everyone else. The first half of the drive was exhilarating; the temperature was perfect, and the dim moonlight cast just enough glow to keep my car on the road. The trees were giant, looming shadows – swaying in the wind as if waving me on. As a skeptic, I felt safe in the knowledge there were no actual ghosts, and now, I can equate it to a VR experience. It was the thrill of being in a horror movie without the risks. Unfortunately, in my cliche, child-like naivety – I failed to understand how dangerous the real people around us were.

I should have seen the cemetery gates any second, but I stopped at the sound of footsteps. I couldn’t tell what kind, but I automatically assumed it was an animal. While listening, I realized it was walking at an unusually slow pace – even for something that was frightened… But if it’s afraid – why is it coming towards me? That was my thought process as I sat there, squinting into the darkness. Finally, when gravel crunched not three feet away from my driver’s window – I threw the car into reverse and switched on the headlights simultaneously.

My heart stopped mid-beat; there was a filthy, hairy man right next to me! He was dressed like a bum except for the night-vision goggles, and he lunged for me as I mashed down the gas pedal; the car flew backwards, and I watched in horror as the guy’s fingertips grazed the edge of my lowered window before falling away. When I couldn’t see him anymore, I did the scariest 3-point turn of my life and never looked back.

That night watered all the planted seeds of resentment I’d collected over the years until they bloomed into thriving sprouts of hatred, but I didn’t know how to ask for help. I thought the only way to make it stop was to move away and start fresh. Earning money was my only chance, and I didn’t have four years to waste at some college just for the possibility of a higher earning potential. Besides, I’m not particularly gifted in the intellectual department, haha…

[group laughs]

Whew, I’m sorry this is taking so long, but that was basically it—

FATHER PAUL:

[kind, patient] No, no – it’s your turn to speak, that’s why we’re here. You listened to Ray and Martha tell their stories; surely yours can’t be any worse, can it? Trust us, this is the first step to healing.

JAMIE:

[awkward chuckle] Yessir, of course… Um, [clears throat] right, so, I drove to New York with my graduation money and took any job I could find. I started flipping burgers during the day and bartending at night while sleeping in my car whenever I wasn’t on the clock. Forty days later, I moved in with a guy from the diner when he was looking for a roommate, and life was pretty good for the first time in… well, ever. I didn’t mention my birthday and no one asked; over the years, when it became necessary to show my driver’s license – it was rare for someone to notice the date; on those occasions, I shrugged it off, saying I was born on a Saturday, and no more was made of it.

I had a few relationships over the years, but nothing serious; I’ve always been happier alone, and it let me focus on work and saving money. At 25, I was able to afford my own studio apartment. It wasn’t fancy, but it was a nice, normal building in a safe area. [voice rising] You know how rare that is!

[group commiserates]

[deep breath] I’m so sorry… Would it be alright if I stopped for a minute? I could really use a bathroom break…

FATHER PAUL:

Umm… [clicks tongue] yea… I think we could all do with a little break. Tell ya what – this big, old building can be tricky to navigate for newcomers; let’s see if we can’t get Mr. Sumpter to show you the way. [chairs slide, footsteps echo across the room, and a heavy door creaks open]

[distant] Bill, can you escort our friend to the bathroom, please? Wouldn’t want anyone getting lost! [unintelligible reply] Good, take your time; we’re gonna stretch our legs a bit and freshen up the coffee. [door shuts and footsteps return]

Alright, everyone, take five. [recording stopped]


FATHER PAUL:

Feeling better now, Jamie? You seem to have regained a bit of color. Please – feel free to finish your coffee before continuing; we have all night. [booming thunder] Oh goodness, it sounds like the storm is getting worse, too… Well, all the better that we’re settled-in here, I suppose.

JAMIE:

Yessir… much better now, thank you. [sips coffee and chair slides]

[clears throat] So, umm, I was really proud of that apartment, ya know? I lived there for five years and was never once late with a payment… In fact, I was paying my rent the day the old manager had his heart attack. One second we were having our usual small-talk – the next, Roger was grabbing his chest. I didn’t know what to do – I called 911, but when they were loading him into the ambulance, it seemed wrong to let him go alone.

He didn’t have any family, so I told them he was my father; when the doctors left me in a waiting room, I went through his phone hoping to find anyone who could tell me what to do. That’s when I came across Patricia Birman’s name. I knew she was the building owner; we had met a few times over the years, and she seemed like a kind lady. No matter what, she would need to know what happened. Our phone call was brief; once I told her Roger was in surgery, she was there within the hour. That’s how she was; she’d drop everything if someone was in trouble.

We waited for three hours, talking about anything and everything to pass the time. As it turns out, she also lived in her car for the first few months after moving to the city. One thing led to another, and I emailed her a copy of my resume right there. She made arrangements to stay in town until Roger recovered, and she wanted to hire me at one of her restaurants… That’s when the doctors came to deliver the bad news. The old man had held on for so long, we just assumed he was going to pull through.

In the end, Mrs. Birman stayed on as manager for six months, but she needed help. What started out as answering a few questions turned into me becoming the assistant manager; I quit my other jobs and poured my soul into learning everything I could from Patricia. There was no reason for her to give me that opportunity, but she said it was more important to find someone trustworthy. She believed if someone was really willing to put in the work – they could learn anything; the trick was finding a person still willing to work nowadays, hah. Gosh, I admired her so much… [deep, shaky breath]

FATHER PAUL:

That’s alright, you’re doing great; just take it nice and easy. [thunder] we’re all here for you.

JAMIE:

Right… anyway, after those six months, she started letting me handle the office alone while she traveled – don’t forget, she still had several other businesses to run. I’ve never owed someone so much in my life; aside from a very generous salary – with benefits – she let me move into a single for half its price! I’m sure you’ve all had bosses feed you the same bullshit line I’d heard a thousand times before – “we’re a family here”, am-I-right? That lady – Patricia Birman – you remember her name, because she meant it! [sniffle]

Life was too good; disaster was around the corner – I just didn’t know when or where it would strike. That fear never went away, but the years passed, and I eventually became the manager; I even got upgraded into a two-bedroom! Hell, I even upgraded my car – but I couldn’t let down my guard. Sure, most people wouldn’t think much of my used Nissan and low-income complex, but they were my greatest achievements! If I never accomplished anything else – if I had grown old and died alone in that little apartment – I would have died happy!

For the longest time, I would lie awake at night – wondering when fate would realize I didn’t deserve happiness and bring it all crashing down. Then, three months ago, Patricia decided to renovate one of her other complexes; they were still considered “cheap” by city standards, but they were the most expensive of the cheap places… if that makes sense. They were much nicer than mine – let’s put it that way; the location wasn’t better, but it wasn’t worse either, and that’s good enough. Most people in the city can spend their entire lives waiting for that kind of luck! I really did know better… [sniffle]

Well, the point is that during the renovations, she discovered Margie’s drug stash hidden in the office air vent. When Patricia said she needed an experienced manager, I tried to decline – that’s how sure I was – but then she included more money and a budget for an assistant! She didn’t want to trust a property that large to a new hire; she preferred having me run that one while she trained someone new for my place. She even offered to throw in psych coverage to learn why I’m reluctant to accept good things for myself, hah… [slow exhale]

Who could say no to that? Not someone like me, that’s for sure. I decided just once, I was going to enjoy my good fortune – just once. The first six weeks were boringly standard. Patricia hired Lacy, a single mom, as my assistant; she’s lived at the apartments for over seven years and already knew most of the other tenants. We got along well enough, but sometimes she needed to leave work unexpectedly or bring her son to the office… It made things difficult if we were busy, that’s all. Peter is autistic, so I couldn’t really complain without seeming like a heartless piece of trash, ya know?

[group commiserates]

Honestly, if that was the price for my abundance of good fortune – great – bring it on. My apartment came with appliances, a digital thermostat, and WiFi; I treated Peter like absolute royalty – I wasn’t giving Karma anything she could even flinch at, but I knew it couldn’t be that easy.

Pete was a laid back kid, and his school was due to start back soon; he did alright around strangers as long as there weren’t more than two or three. Overall, things were better than ever until ten days ago when that elusive other shoe finally dropped. I didn’t even see it coming – it just randomly fell from the sky and flattened my sorry ass. The babysitter canceled for some reason or another, and I didn’t even get to sit down before the kid was at my heels. “Do you wanna see a magic trick?”

It took me by surprise; mornings were usually for his headphones and tablet while the office was actually busy, but he and Lacy were both flashing these proud, wide smiles as they waited for my “yes” – as if I had a choice.

“When’s your birthday?” It was almost a whisper.

I just wanted to get some coffee, so I told him… “8/13/82” and didn’t think twice about it… I couldn’t even remember the last time someone asked.

Apparently, the kid is able to tell what day of the week any date is – even a future one. Well – his little eyes went wide, and sure enough, “that’s the bad day!”

[loud] Ho! I knew it, and I said so! “Yep, it sure is, little man! Can’t get much worse, can it?— Oh, wait, yes it can! I’ll bet you didn’t know it was at midnight or during a terrible storm, did ya? Huh?!”

FATHER PAUL:

Whoa, easy there; that’s all in the past, now. Do you need a moment? [thunder] It’s ok if you do.

JAMIE:

No-sir, I’m just ready to finish this; then I want to chain smoke a whole carton of cigarettes, haha…

FATHER PAUL:

It’s just us old night-crew dogs here, I think we could get away with letting ya have a smoke; We’ll call it a reward for how well you’re doing!

JAMIE:

Really? That actually would be a huge help… as long as I wouldn’t be getting anyone into trouble.

FATHER PAUL:

No trouble at all; you guys sit tight, and let me see what I can rustle up. [recording stops]


JAMIE:

[lights cigarette] Wow, thank you, Father; [exhales smoke] I hadn’t realized how badly I needed this.

FATHER PAUL:

I told you, Jamie, that’s what I’m here for; my only job is to help you process what’s happened with as little trauma as possible. Now – when you’re ready, feel free to continue at your own pace.

JAMIE:

[hits cigarette] You’re a good man, Father – better than a place like this deserves – but I’m ready now.

Basically, I made a fine ass of myself snapping at the boy like that; I felt even worse when Lacy agreed with how ridiculous the superstition is, and Pete had already lost interest. I was beginning to think the city people wouldn’t care about a silly date the way the country bumpkins do. I was so ashamed of yelling in front of the kid – I found myself sharing the whole story with his clearly annoyed mother.

I told her about my superstitious upbringing, the kids at school, and what ultimately happened on Cemetery Drive. She seemed unsurprised about the children’s reactions but repulsed by the adult’s behavior. Friday the 13th is something she’d always thought of as a game; I don’t think she was capable of understanding how serious some folks take it. [hits cigarette] That’s why she didn’t see anything wrong with telling her friends about my little breakdown… Still, there’s a reason hotels and planes don’t use the number; it’s not because they’re afraid of bad luck – it’s because they don’t want to hear the customers’ incessant bitching!

By the next morning, everyone in the complex knew, and Lacy had a front-row view of the carnage. To be fair, she tried to intervene at first; each time someone came in to gawk – she sent them away in a less-than-gentle manner. Sure, it wasn’t every single person, but it was at least seventy percent that would quicken their pace or suddenly become very busy with their phones – anything to protect themselves in case I had the audacity to attempt conversation. If someone did speak to me – it was a child, and a horde of their friends were always nearby – pointing and giggling; [hits cigarette] talking to the jinx apparently meant seven years of bad luck which made for a wildly popular dare.

If I had less to lose, I would have given those kids a real reason to be afraid, but my options were rather limited; I had to settle for completely ignoring them which only made the little shits braver. They started throwing rocks and covering my car in toilet paper! I even got a ticket because they covered my tag, and I left without noticing! I came home furious; this was Monday evening, and the whole, miserable week was ahead; I was dreading my birthday to the point I decided to call Patricia and tell her everything. When the groceries were put away, I sat on the couch – finger hovering above the call button when I heard a noise coming from my bedroom. [hits cigarette]

I had started keeping a golf club handy and crept down the hall with it. Pausing at the entrance, I heard my closet door click softly shut; my first instinct was to pretend I hadn’t heard and text 911, but then I began to analyze the situation. [hits cigarette] I believed the intruder was one of the kids who vandalized my car and wanted to deal with them personally. With the assistance of a shotgun app, I stepped into the room – trying to sound intimidating when I made the pumping noise and yelled, “if you come out with your hands up, I won’t shoot through that door!”

I crept closer, golf club raised and ready; I didn’t intend to hit the kid, but I wanted to swing it over his head – just to give him a proper scare. Then Darren walked out, hands raised and shaking with a piss trail running down his pants! That dirtbag was almost twenty and still in high school because it took him three tries to pass each grade! Don’t misunderstand, I’m not mocking him for being stupid; that’s not what made him a dirtbag – his personality did that. Darren was the epitome of bully cliches; he treated everyone like shit – even his parents. I can’t tell you how many times he was brought home by police, or I saw him torturing some other kid around the complex. His behavior grew worse every year; it was only a matter of time before he really hurt someone. [hits cigarette]

When he saw I didn’t really have a shotgun, his pale, frightened face turned to one of rage and embarrassment; he glared at me with a scowl of pure hatred – I know the look well since I’m usually the one giving it. [put out cigarette] I was so angry; my chest went tight, and it was suddenly hard to breathe. I wanted to scream, but he opened his mouth and pushed me past my limit.

“I shoulda known; if a jinx like you had a gun you’d have blown your own head off by now!” The urine soaked intruder screamed indignantly.

I just… couldn’t take it anymore… I screamed something to the effect of, “what the fuck are you doing in here?!” I don’t understand how he had the balls to do anything short of begging me not to call the police…

Instead of answering my question, he tried to walk past me! He was going to leave and just get away with it! Then, I knew what would happen if I called; he would already be at home, and his parents would simply say he’d been there all night. It wouldn’t matter what the cops believed or how much they hated Darren; without physical evidence – he won.

All the rage I’d been holding back exploded… [deep breath] It felt like I was watching everything in a movie; suddenly, the club was swinging through the air, and it connected with the back of Darren’s head. Bright, red blood decorated the wall, ceiling, and my face. I was surprised by how wide the spray actually was; it didn’t seem like so much could come from one impact. On TV, the kid would have been dead already, but he started groaning almost immediately; the bastard didn’t even get to his feet before he started threatening me again! He was cursing me like a dog – saying I’d be in jail when he finished telling everyone how I drugged and kidnapped him! Next thing I knew, the club was swinging again.

When I finally came to my senses… [loud sob] it… it was too late. He was gone, and the whole room was wrecked; I think he tried to get away at one point. I have flashes of him trying to pull himself up with my dresser, and I swung high – breaking the mirror instead… but eventually… I didn’t miss… All that was left was a pile of disfigured meat and bone on a wet, red floor… and my vomit…

Twenty scenarios played through my head as I thought of how to explain myself. There was no way to involve the police without going to prison; trying to get away with it was my only choice. That no one heard the screaming was a miracle unto itself; I took it as a sign and started the clean up. First, I filled two trash bags and took them to my usual dumpster; I didn’t want to be seen making multiple trips back-to-back, and when I took three more several hours later, it was in the opposite direction.

If the kid ran his mouth about what he planned to do, I didn’t know how long it would be before someone came looking, but I couldn’t panic. Every two hours, I flushed small slices of organ and blood down the toilet. There was just so much; you wouldn’t think there could be any blood left in the body, but I was washing it down drains most of the night! I packed the bones in a tote for a weekend camping trip; anything left by then would go to the wildlife. If everyone could have simply left me alone, the last traces of Darren would have been gone when I came back from holiday!

[whimpers] the world is a far better place without him, anyway! I’m not some psycho serial killer; I’m not some wild animal who got a taste for blood! I just want my life back! [hyperventilating]

FATHER PAUL:

Hey there, take it easy; remember – slow, easy breaths. This is why you’re here; if you don’t tell us what happened, we won’t know how to help. [thunder] Believe me, Jamie, all we want to do is help. You’ve done so well and come so far, please don’t quit on us now!

JAMIE:

[snotty sniffle] Yessir; I just… I don’t understand what happened next. I didn’t have time for work, but my birthday was coming up, and I had all these vacation days saved… I knew everything would be ok if I could only make it through the weekend. I might have guilt-tripped Lacy a bit to make her more agreeable, but it was an emergency!

Everything was going according to plan on Wednesday and Thursday, but today— shit, of course it would be my birthday, wouldn’t it? I was making another dumpster run before the public restroom rounds when Patricia called. She wanted me to stop by for a special birthday lunch, hah! I couldn’t say no, either. She knew damn well I didn’t have any other plans, so – I cleaned myself up and went there instead.

I poured my entire being into holding myself together for the visit; I didn’t want to disappoint her after all she’d done for me! [choking sobs] When I got there, she had my favorite cake waiting, and I almost broke, but I didn’t; I held it together for her!

It happened when she was standing over the cake, knife in hand; she got a funny look on her face… It was like one side stopped working and suddenly, she was falling forward. I didn’t even have time to get out of my chair! [whimper] The blade… it went into her… there was so much blood… again! [sobbing]

I didn’t know what to do; who would believe me? Me! I pulled the knife out… I wanted to save her, but I saw it in her eyes, she was gone, man – gone! I don’t remember what happened next, I really don’t. Suddenly, police were there, and they said someone called them because of all the screaming, but that’s a lie; Patricia never screamed, and I said so! Then, they tried changing their story to say I was the one screaming! Can you believe that?

I tried to tell them what happened, but they wouldn’t listen; they wouldn’t even let me speak! Next thing I know, they’re throwing me in here, and I just wanted to go home!

FATHER PAUL:

Yes, Jamie; I can certainly understand your frustration. Also, I’m terribly sorry, but it seems like we’re out of time. [doors open] You remember Mr. Sumpter, yes? He’ll escort you from here. We all wish you the very best! [fast footsteps approaching]

JAMIE:

Wait, what? Hold on, it’s Bill, right? Please, don’t put your hand on me, I can… Wait! [chair falls, scuffle] Wait, what’s going on? I’m not finished! [voice becomes distant] Father? Father Paul?! [door slams]

FATHER PAUL:

Alright, great work everyone; I’ll see you back here on Monday morning!

[group chatters quietly as they leave]


SPECIAL AGENT PAUL CLARK:

This is Special Agent Paul Clark, and that concludes Experimental Interrogation Technique 0-3-7 on subject Jamie Reynolds.

Test Results: Success

Detailed Summary: Though the Subject was hesitant to participate at first – witnessing two undercover officers confess to similar crimes without repercussions seemed to put the Subject at ease. The vital component is believability; the Subject must be introduced to the controlled environment as early as possible after detainment. Furthermore, the addition of thunder ambience did seem to have a positive effect on the Subject’s willingness to remain.

While the Subject did not confess to the murder of Patricia Birman, the Subject did confess to the murder of a young man who was thought to be a runaway. When the autopsy revealed Mrs. Birman died of natural causes, a murderer might have been released back into society had it not been for this special technique. Records indicate the deceased was ill for a long time, but had apparently not shared the news with those close to her. Though, after reviewing her messages, we believe this to be the reason the Subject was invited to her home this morning.

It’s a shame how many killers will walk free when this method is eventually ruled unconstitutional to utilize on citizens… Regardless, it will still see plenty of use, but further studies are required before false confessions can be guaranteed.

[Recording Stopped]

Classics Translated

The Pale Man

Julius Long, first published in Weird Tales magazine, September 1934; translated to Modern English, otherwise exactly the same. 



If you would prefer to hear this tale narrated, my very good friend, Danie Dreadful did another amazing job with this one! Here’s the Youtube link, and if you enjoy scary stories don’t forget to subscribe and check out her other videos!
Cover of Weird Tales September 1934 issue

An odd little tale, about the eccentric behavior of a strange guest in a country hotel

I have not met the man in room 212. I don’t even know his name. He never visits the hotel restaurant, and he does not use the lobby. The three times we passed each other, we did not speak, but we nodded politely. I would really like to meet him; it is lonely in this depressing place. With the exception of the old lady down the hall, the only permanent guests are the man in 212 and myself. However, I should not complain; this complete silence is exactly what the doctor prescribed.

I wonder if the man in 212 also came here to rest. He is very pale, but I do not think it is from an illness; overall, he seems rather healthy. He is tall, has excellent posture, and a brisk, athletic stride. His paleness must be hereditary, or he would tan under this burning, summer sun.

He must have driven here; I am certain he was not on the train that brought me, and he checked-in shortly after myself. After a brief rest in my room, I was walking downstairs when he was coming up. It is odd the bell-boy did not escort him.

With so many vacant rooms, it is also odd that he chose 212 at the far end. The building is long, narrow, and three stories high; the rooms are all on the east side since the west wall is flush with an old business. The dull corridor – with its stiff, bloated wallpaper – smells musty, and the dim light bulbs make it feel like a tomb. Disgusted by this hallway, I insisted on having room 201; it is located at the front and has a southern entrance. The clerk – a disagreeable man with a Hitler mustache – was reluctant because it is usually reserved for his more profitable short-term clients. Unfortunately, my stubbornness has made him an enemy.

If only I had been as assertive thirty years ago! I would be a full-fledged professor instead of a broken-down assistant. The casual way the president of the university recommended my vacation still hurts. There is no doubt he acted in my best interests; the people controlling my poor life always do.

Oh well, the summer’s rest will probably benefit me considerably; it is nice to be away from the university. There is something very satisfying about the absence of graduate students. If only it were not so lonely! I must find a way to meet the pale man in 212. Perhaps the clerk can make arrangements.

I have been here exactly one week, and if there is a friendly soul in this miserable little town, we did not meet. Although businesses eagerly accept my money, they deliberately avoid even the most casual conversation. I fear I will never be accepted by them unless I can arrange to have my ancestors recognized as local residents for the last hundred and fifty years.

Despite my cold reception, I go out frequently – secretly hoping to encounter the pale man. I wonder why he left 212; surely there cannot be much gained by moving one door closer to the front. I noticed the change yesterday when I saw him exiting his new room.

We nodded again, and this time I thought I detected a sinister satisfaction in his gloomy, black eyes. He must know that I am eager to speak with him, yet his demeanor discourages introductions. If he wants me to do all of the work – he can forget it; I am not the type to chase after anybody. The surly clerk’s shyness has been enough to stop me from questioning him about the mysterious guest.

I wonder where the pale man gets his meals. Instead of dining at the hotel, I have been going to restaurants in town. At each one, I asked questions about the man in 210, but no one remembered serving him. Perhaps he knows people living in this town, or he may have found a boarding-house; I must learn if there is one nearby.

The pale man must be difficult to please – he changed rooms again; I am baffled by his behavior. If he is so desperate for a more conveniently placed room, why not move to 202? It is the closest to the front they have available.

Perhaps I can use his relocations as an excuse to start a conversation. I might casually say something like, “I see we are closer neighbors now”… but that is too obvious; I must wait for a better opportunity.

He did it again; he is now in room 209. I am intrigued by his little game; I waste hours trying to understand the point. What possible motive could he have? It must be annoying for the hotel staff; I wonder how our combination bell-hop/maid feels about preparing four rooms for a single guest. If he were not totally dense, I would ask him – but for now, I am too exhausted to attempt such a draining conversation.

I am tremendously interested in the pale man’s next move. He must either skip a room or stay where he is because the old lady lives in 208. She has not budged from her room since I have been here, and I doubt she plans to.

I wonder what the pale man will do; I await his decision with the nervous excitement of a race-track junkie the night before a big race. After all, there is nothing else to do.

Well, the mysterious guest was not forced to remain in 209, nor did he skip a room. The lady in 208 simplified matters by conveniently dying. No one knows the cause of her death, but the general assumption is that she died of old age. She was buried this morning, and I was among the curious few who attended her funeral. Upon returning home from the mortuary, I saw the pale man leaving her room; he had already moved in.

He favored me with a smile, and I have tried in vain to decipher its meaning – it must have some significance. He acted as if there were a secret meaning that I failed to appreciate; though, perhaps his smile was meaningless after all, and only ambiguous by chance – like the Mona Lisa’s.

My man of mystery now resides in 207, and I am not surprised in the least. I would have been astonished if he had missed his scheduled move; I have almost given up trying to understand his eccentric behavior. I do not know a single thing more about him than I knew the day he arrived. I wonder where he came from – there is something indescribably foreign about him. I am curious to hear his voice; I like to imagine that he speaks the language of some far-away country. If only there were some way to trick him into a conversation! I wish I possessed the abundant confidence of a college boy – one capable of introducing himself to distinguished people without hesitation; it is no wonder that I am only an assistant professor.

I am worried; this morning, I woke up lying flat on the floor – fully clothed. I must have collapsed from exhaustion after returning to my room; I wonder if my condition is more serious than suspected. Until now, I have ignored the fears of loved ones. For the first time, I remember the prolonged handshake of the president when we said good-bye at the university; he obviously never expected to see me alive again.

Of course, I am not that sick; nevertheless, I must be more careful. Thank heaven I have no children to worry about; there is not even a wife since I was never willing to exchange a bachelor’s loneliness for a husband’s loneliness.

I can sincerely say that the prospect of death does not frighten me; speculating about life beyond the grave has always bored me. Whatever it is – or is not – I’ll try to get along.

I have been so preoccupied with the sudden turn in my own life that I neglected to make note of an extraordinary incident; the pale man has done something astounding! He skipped three rooms and moved all the way to 203. We are now very close neighbors and will meet more often; my chances for an introduction are much better.

I have confined myself to bed during the last few days and my food has been delivered. I even called a local doctor, though I suspect he is a quack. He looked me over with professional indifference and told me not to leave my room; for some reason he doesn’t want me to climb stairs. This bit of information cost a ten-dollar bill which he fished out of my coat pocket as instructed; a pickpocket could not have done it better.

The doctor was not gone long when the clerk visited; he feigned a show of kindly concern while suggesting I go to the hospital. It is supposedly very modern and all that. With more firmness than I have been able to muster in a long time – I told him that I intended to stay, and his posture stiffened as he departed with a gloomy frown. The doctor must have paused long enough to tell him a pretty story. Obviously, he is afraid I will die in his best room.

The pale man is up to his old tricks. Last night, when I walked down the hall, the door of 202 was open. Without thinking, I looked inside; the pale man sat in a rocking-chair, idly smoking a cigarette. He looked into my eyes and smiled that peculiar, ambiguous smile that has so deeply puzzled me. I moved on down the corridor, not so much mystified as annoyed. The whole mystery of the man’s behavior is beginning to irritate me; it is all so silly and pointless. I feel that I will never meet the pale man, but – at the very least – I am going to learn his identity. Tomorrow, I will ask for the clerk and interrogate him.

I know now… I know the identity of the pale man and the meaning of his smile. Early this afternoon, I summoned the clerk to my bedside. “Please tell me who the man in 202 is!” I asked abruptly.

The clerk stared, tired and confused. “You must be mistaken; that room is empty.”

“But I saw him only two nights ago! He is a tall, handsome fellow with dark eyes and hair; he is unusually pale and checked-in the same day as myself.” I snapped in irritation.

The hotel man regarded me doubtfully, as if I were trying to play a joke. “But I assure you there is no such person here. As for his checking-in when you did – you were the only guest registered that day.”

“What? I’ve seen him twenty times! First he had room 212 at the end of the corridor. Then he kept moving toward the front, and now, he’s next door in 202.”

The room clerk threw up his hands. “You’re crazy!” He exclaimed, and I saw that he meant it.

I immediately shut up and dismissed him. After he left, I heard him rattling the knob of the pale man’s door. There is no doubt that he believes the room to be empty.

That is how I came to understand what happened over the past few – including the significance of the death in 207; I even feel partly responsible for the old lady’s passing. After all, I brought the pale man with me, but it was not I who set his path. I cannot explain the mystery of why he chose to approach me room after room through the length of this dreary hotel, nor why he chose to visit the old woman.

I suppose I should have guessed his identity when he skipped the three rooms on the night of my collapse. In a single night, he advanced until he was almost at my door. He will be coming to inhabit this room – his ultimate goal – soon. When he comes, at least I will be able to return his smile of grim recognition.

Meanwhile, I must only wait behind my locked door.

The door slowly swings open…

humor

That is Not Adderall

A short rant before we begin. I was born in 1988, therefore, I’m quite fond of the number 88. Today, I learned that number is apparently a nazi thing? Fml, are you serious?! Screw that, it’s mine!

Time for another tale of terror from the time we rented the spliced together hoard house outside town. If you haven’t read Rain Showers, I suggest you go there first. You can’t appreciate the horror of this atmosphere without it. This will take place during our second month, before we lost water, but after we lost the dryer. You also need to remember Amy is Hubby’s sister and had a Xanax problem.

Memory Refresher

* I want to include a reminder. This story is almost a decade old, and Amy has not had a drug abuse problem in several years. We get along famously these days and I’m happy to consider her a sister. She has no memory of these events, but she’s a great sport about laughing at them. *

One day, I will get around to how Amy dumped Rob, but that drama can wait. Today, we’re going to talk about after they separated, when Amy’s electricity was cut off. Whether she forgot to pay the bill or used the money for drugs is irrelevant. The important part is that no one would take her in. We were the only family still speaking to her at that time, and we genuinely needed help making the house livable.

With great hesitation, we said she could stay the week if she helped out. To be fair, she did help a bit. As these things tend to, it started off well. She had food stamps and filled the house with groceries. Was it food we ate? Eh, not really, but we thought, well, at least she’s feeding herself. That will save some money.

Wrong! Let me tell you now, most of the groceries spoiled. Hubby worked during the day, I worked from home answering a phone. Every day, when I drove into town for whatever errands, Amy tagged along. Every day, without fail, she asked, “Can we stop at Fast Food? I haven’t eaten today.”

Of course, she only works the months around Christmas so she didn’t have money. She never volunteered the information, instead waiting until it was time to pay. I wouldn’t offer on principle, meaning we had to play out the same long, awkward silence until she asked for money. The worse part was how she counted the wasted groceries as “paying us back.”

Anyway, the point is, she offered us drugs to help cope with the pain. Our favorite pill has always been Adderall, but it’s extremely difficult for us to acquire. They were a rare treat. Imagine our glee when Amy announced, “You like those? I have a whole bottle. My friend has a prescription, but she hates them.”

“Amy, if you have a purse full of Adderall I need you to get it right now.” I said with the eyes of a starving wolf.

We tried to keep our hopes in check, it was Amy after all. Even as she removed the large bottle from her purse I thought it was too good to be true. Then she opened it, placing it on the table before us, and we stared at a mountain of pure white powder. That’s when I called bullshit.

“No, it really is, I swear! She just takes it out of the capsules so she can rip people off, but this is real stuff!” Amy insisted, spreading generous lines of the drug.

Hubby and I were dubious but had to admit it was a common practice. “You’ve done some already?” I asked.

“Yea, it’s fine, watch.” Amy snorted the first line, and when she didn’t have a seizure, we tried it.

It was Adderall! Can you believe it? We sure as hell couldn’t! I know, I know, ‘but what about your title’ right? Hold your britches, I’m getting there.

We had two extremely productive days thanks to the miracle powder. Everything went so well, we didn’t even mind Amy’s Xanax fits like when she asked the same question thirty times or talked through new episodes of Doctor Who. Everything was aces until we left her home alone for twenty minutes.

Hubby and I drove to the gas station and back, no big deal… or so we thought. Upon our return, we decided it was time for a pick-me-up. I retrieved our powder from its hiding place – it’s relevant to know it was hidden well on one of our many bookshelves. It wasn’t left out in a place for anyone to happen upon. I poured a nice healthy pile, and as I began to separate it into lines, I realized huh, why does it look so funny.

“Hey, come look at this… is. Is this salt?!” I asked Hubby in the opposite of an indoor voice.

(This is one of those times I’m going to reduce the cursing by 90%. It was so bad.)

“Because it is fraking salt! That bitch!” Hubby stormed off to find Amy while a monkey named Jonesy ruthlessly clawed my back for that Adderall.

I spent more hours than I want to admit separating the tiny specs with a flashlight and tweezers. I fully understood how pathetic it was, but I had to try. The worst part was, she didn’t have to do it. We weren’t being greedy, trust me she was like a blood-hound. Every time we pulled it out – no matter where we hid – she was there. She wouldn’t ask for it, no. She talked about how tired she was until Hubby offered.

That was fine. It was a huge bottle, and she didn’t get anything in return she wasn’t already getting. I didn’t understand why she felt the need to ruin the entire bottle to cover the fact she used more. My rage was also divided by the fact she thought salt was something to use for that purpose. I didn’t trust myself to speak when Hubby brought her to the kitchen.

I bit my tongue long as I could, but then she started talking. “I just came to see what happened, is there really salt in the Adderall?”

I glared at her, hoping to induce an aneurysm.

“Because Phoebe and that guy came over while you were gone. They just walked in the back door… and they were standing over there by that shelf when I walked in… they left after I told them you weren’t here.” After an incredibly long silence she continued, “So… I mean. I don’t know them, but could they like…”

Let’s entertain her story while we’re here. The notion of Phoebe and her boyfriend coming was ludicrous. She only walked over if they were fighting. When she did walk over, it was via the rock path to the front door, not the mud hole to the back. They didn’t know the drugs existed nor that I decided to hide something on that shelf for the first time ever.

“Do you understand what I would have done to you if I snorted salt?” There it went. The dam broke and all bets were off.

“I really didn’t…” Amy started.

“Please don’t. I’m begging you. If you’re going to do the deny, deny, deny thing, save it for later. Just get away from me for now, I don’t have it in me to pretend to believe you.” I couldn’t look at her, instead I looked at my tiny white specs and begged Jonsey to let me think.

Amy walked away but didn’t stop talking. She continued professing her innocence as she walked to the living room. My memory gets a little fuzzy here, but somehow I came to stand in the doorway, throat sore, staring at her, Hubby standing next to me.

“How about we go for a drive? It’s not like she can do more damage. I’ll help you sort what’s left when we get back.” He offered.

I suppose I agreed because we were no more than a few minutes away when I realized I left my purse behind. “Shit, we have to go back. I have cash in there.” I said angrily.

“Where did you leave it?” He asked.

“In our bedroom, under my nightstand.” I admitted, knowing what he would think.

“Okay, well it’s not like you left it in the open. She won’t go looking for it, she probably assumes you have it with you.” He tried to be reassuring.

“No, I already don’t like this. We gotta go back.” Money aside, I still had (have) only-child syndrome. I couldn’t accept she wouldn’t want to steal my prized possessions.

We turned around, gone for less than ten minutes when we returned. I almost let myself hope when she was sitting on the couch, exactly as we left her, but I knew I couldn’t breath easy until I saw the cash. I went straight to the purse and opened my wallet. It was empty. Can you guess who Amy blamed? Yes! It was Phoebe again! Wouldn’t you know we just missed those rascals!

I was done folks. I washed my hands of it. “You know what Amy? Forty bucks is a small price to pay to get rid of you. You’re going home first thing in the morning, best of luck with your electricity.” I walked away before I said anything truly harsh.

Hubby talked to her for a few minutes, but I had a monkey to feed. We resumed powder picking and saved more than expected, but it was a pittance of the whole.

The next morning I was gifted with Amy’s reasoning for destroying our white gold. She returned our money and a hefty pile of Adderall powder after waking. Apparently she wasn’t happy just doing the drugs, she wanted to sell some when she realized how much people like it. She was too ashamed to ask for it and thought salt would be the best way to hide her actions. She included, “I don’t remember any of it, but this was in my bag so I guess that’s what happened.” To help maintain a distance from true blame.

We took our possessions back and reassured her she was forgiven. “No hard feelings” as it were. Unfortunately she misunderstood forgiveness as “you can keep staying here”, but we were over our limit. You can only have so many angry, mentally disturbed people living under one roof before someone dies. Hell, we were already stretching that number before she came.

So yea, we dropped her off at her apartment. It was really dark in there, she didn’t have windows, but no one else would agree to take her. I really do feel terrible about how bad she sounds in this, but we all pull an Amy at some point in our lives. Whether you were drunk, high, or just plain nuts, you have at least one story where you star as the asshole. We all do, and we should all be the terrific sports about it she is.

Thanks for reading! I wanted to translate a non-horror classic next, but I seem unable to help myself. I want to have a variety of genres to select from, but I keep getting distracted, I’m sorry. The Yellow Wallpaper is coming soon because I’ve always wanted to read it but never had time. I’m going to try to take a few days off in order to clean a guest room out, but we’ll see how it goes.

Stay safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.

Poetry Disclaimer: The below poetry is horrible. Do not read it if you are serious about poetry. It is for amusement purposes only. For full poetry details see Sex, Drugs, & Robbery.

“Everyday Take Away”


28 hour days,
Time trickles, slowly fading away.
Lost, confused, in a daze,
Spinning, twirling, in a haze.

Eyes are the windows to the soul,
But mine is no longer whole.
Rotten, decayed, black as night,
Broken, defeated, screaming in fright.

Love is a useless word,
Spoken but never heard.
No give and all take,
A world engulfed in hate.
Whatever was meant to be,
Is long lost to eternity.


humor

The Boy in Pink

I am excited to say I can now call myself a CreepyPasta author! They posted Deadlands on Wednesday, and I found it by accident yesterday. That’s not a complaint, it’s a happy surprise. It was surreal to see my story on the site I’ve visited almost daily for several years. After this post I would like to complete the next story I’m working on. If I can get a few noticed, maybe Bestie’s husband will take pity on me and help with my domain sooner. In the meantime, it’s back to business.

I had a lot of trouble deciding what to write about next in regards to my personal adversities. There’s still so many to choose from, like wetting my pants in Mom’s office at 12, or puking all over Bestie when I smelled tuna. Then the puke thing reminded me of getting puked on myself, and I thought, yea, that’ll do. It’s funny for two reasons because it coincides with my worst ‘mistaken for a boy’ experiences.

For this story we return to 6th grade, but first, I need to introduce Pumba (named for her amazing personality, not appearance. She’s actual super pretty). She came to our school in 5th grade, but because I was being raised to follow in our culture’s ignorant footsteps, we hated each other that first year. Now, she is the only friend I still have from high-school besides Thelma.

Was I confused to walk into the first day of 5th grade to see my first black kid? Sure I was, but I didn’t care. I didn’t speak to kids who weren’t Bestie, and I assumed she would be no different. I only wanted to sit quietly until class began, but she talked to me first. Before I relay our first interaction, let me remind you I had a the first of two boy’s bowl haircuts, boy clothes, and purple flower flip-flops. Mom told me I would regret he haircut, but I wouldn’t listen. As always, I would have to learn the hard way… except twice this time.

“Hi, why are you wearing girl’s shoes?” Pumba asked, curious.

I remained silent at first, but decided “because I’m a girl” was a safe enough answer. Fool.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were a boy.” Pumba replied. She spoke softly, she wasn’t trying to be heard by others… but she was.

As surrounding children stopped their own activities to laugh, a mixture of anger and humiliation radiated through me. It wasn’t the first time I was mistaken for a boy, but it was the worst (up to that point).

I identified with Naruto so hard purely because people looked at me the exact same way. I hung in there for every annoying “believe it!” catchphrase just to see someone else endure the same thing. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t able to become a ninja.

My little brain grasped for any comeback to turn the tide and settled on, “Why are you going to this school? Black kids go to the public schools!”

“I’m not black, I’m Indian.” She replied, completely unfazed by my ignorance.

I ran to class, too frightened to say “I thought they were all dead.” Clearly they weren’t, and I couldn’t afford to be wrong again. Later, Dad tried explaining the difference between India and the Indians I knew of, but it would be years before I understood countries beyond our own existed. The important thing is, Pumba and I were forced to spend several hours alone at the end of 5th grade and we became close friends as a result.

That’s why, in 6th grade, when our school rented a greyhound bus to shuttle us to a museum over two hours away, we sat next to each other. Two other friends, Maggie and Meg, sat behind us and we settled in for a long ride. Unfortunately, about thirty minutes into the drive, Pumba began to feel sick. We weren’t concerned, she never said it was a nauseas sick – if she had, I would have moved.

As it was, I turned in my seat to talk with Meg and Maggie while she rested quietly, head leaned against the window. I had all but forgotten her when I felt the light tap on my shoulder. I turned to see her sitting erect, eyes wide, one hand covering her mouth, the other pointing to the rear of the bus.

For 11yr old me, it was an almost comical sight. “Ha, what’s wrong, are you…” that’s how far I got before noticing there was something seeping between the fingers of the hand covering her mouth. Then time slowed as I saw she was actively vomiting.

I understood her request too late. As I fell backwards in desperate attempt to get out of her way, the dam broke. Violent jets of vomit threw her hand aside, spraying me as I lay fallen in the center aisle. Large brown chunks covered my torso and legs as I scrambled to roll clear of the chaos. When it was over, teachers rushed to Pumba’s aide, ignoring my primal screams and gags completely.

I ran into the small, smelly restroom to clean myself up. It was no easy task, but I managed to wipe my arms and legs clean. My shirt however, was ruined. I removed the… chunky bits, but the stains and stench remained.

When I came out, a chaperone approached me. “Well, it looks like you got most of it off… I’m sure you can get a t-shirt at the gift shop.” She smiled, lifting her hand as if she were going to pat me on the back, but dropped it awkwardly as she remembered my soiled status. I stared at her blankly until she returned to her seat.

I reluctantly returned to my own upon accepting no better option was available. Thankfully Pumba didn’t get sick again, but I couldn’t help be a little salty over her cleaner shirt. She had a line down the front, but minor drippings compared to the full drenching I received. I stared at my feet until arrival, finding it easier to ignore the looks of disgust as the stench overpowered any fragrance sprayed to combat it.

In my youthful naïveté, I believed they would take us to the gift shop first. You know, so we could buy those promised t-shirts? No. Gift shops were for the end of the tour. It took our first guide’s insistence for a teacher to compromise by going to the gift shop for us. Pumba didn’t bring money, but Teacher bought her a blue museum shirt I would have been pleased with.

With my $20, she purchased a hot pink nightmare with a picture of our state on the front, and list of state facts on the back. It was a size too big and as she handed it to me she said, “I had to cover the tax for you, but I thought you might like to have at least one pink shirt.” I think she expected a thank you, but I was frozen in a state of disbelief.

Instead of reaching for it I asked, “Can I take it back? I hate it so much.”

Obviously she said no. As we walked away to change, I heard the tour guide ask, “Why would you get the boy pink?” I quickened my pace before I could hear any more.

I was forced to change into the shirt, but as I followed Pumba into the girl’s restroom an employee stopped us. “Wait! You can’t go in there! That’s the women’s!”

A teacher had to intervene before I was allowed to enter. For once, other children were the least of my worries. They were terrible, but practically neutralized under public scrutiny. No, the big problem from that point became that special breed of adult who thinks they’re the most charmingly witty souls to ever walk the earth. Every employee who spoke to us and most passing patrons noticed me.

The most popular line was “Hey, it takes a real man to wear pink.” which was almost bearable if not for the playful punches to the arm.

A close second, especially once we made it to the outdoor trails and exhibits, was “I could spot y’all a mile away thanks to this young feller!”

Honorable mentions:

“Well starch my knickers! Never seen a fella love pink s’much!”

“Don’t feel bad, Boy. I had a nephew who was backwards, but he did ok later in life.”

“What’s wrong, Champ? Get dressed in the dark this morning? Looks like you grabbed your sisters shirt don’t it?”

“Scuse me, son. I was just reading your shirt there… sure is pretty.”

When the long day came to an end I was too angry to tell my parents, but I didn’t have to. Apparently my teacher asked Mom to be reimbursed for her tax money. I knew she found out about the shirt by the look on her face. When saw me wearing the monstrosity she yelled, “Is that why she’s wearing that hideous thing?!”

I got really smug. Mom was having an episode and I knew exactly what that teacher was in for. Mom was ushered into a classroom where we could no longer hear what was said, but I knew victory was at hand. The one thing she got really serious about with school was money. Dad wasn’t there to balance her fury, and by time she was done they reimbursed the $20, gave me a school shirt to wear home, and made the teacher keep the pink nightmare.

It was far from a total win. I still didn’t get to buy stuff I actually wanted from the gift shop and my original shirt was in a trashcan, but it ended better than I expected. If anything, finally accepting I couldn’t pull off that haircut no matter how I wore it was the true victory.

For the record, Pumba went on to be our graduating class’ success story. She got fancy enough to have a view of Bryant Park in New York for a time. These days she is settled down and happily married with two beautiful, little poodle dogs. Not literal poodles, but they have that look. The point is, we’re all super proud.

Thank you for reading! Life is going to be busy for a while as we have to travel home for a family gathering tomorrow, and next week I have to clean out a junk closet so Hubby can fix the ceiling. Apparently we had a roof leak that is beginning to grow mold, so. Fun. Aside from finishing my scary story, I hope to start my next classic soon. I’m not sure which to choose yet, but if anyone has suggestions I’m completely open to them. Eventually I would like to do Dracula, but I’m not quite ready to tackle a full length book yet. I think I need to get my domain up and organized before I take on a project that large.

Stay safe out there! Sometimes they really are out to get you.

Poetry Disclaimer: The below poetry is horrible. Do not read it if you are serious about poetry. It is for amusement purposes only. This was written by me as a crazed, suicidal teenager. PLEASE DO NOT HATE ME FOR IT. I have nothing but respect for ALL religions and one like this is rare, but my OCD will go insane if I skip one. For full poetry details see Sex, Drugs, & Robbery.

“Breathe Tonight”



Why is this so ridiculous?
Life is so utterly meticulous.
“Oh God, why me?”
Why say “oh God”?
God is nothing but a myth of a fraud.

People ask forgiveness in prayer,
Hoping life will be fair.
Life is a curse not fit living,
Thinking God is a gift that keeps giving.

God is a bedtime story,
To drown the screams in your head roaring.

The human soul, a myth or a role?
A story untold, waiting to unfold?

There is no salvation,
No hope of revelation.
Live each day, hoping not to suffer,
Lay low, and hope you recover.

No one cares,
There’s no one else,
There is no God, save yourself.
humor

Sex, Drugs, & Robbery

I’m so sad Halloween is over, but I’m more sad we found another kitten. It’s a girl this time, nothing but bones and desperate for attention. On and on it goes. Until one day I finally catch the person doing it. Then you’ll all wonder why I disappeared without saying a word. It’ll be because I’m in jail for murder.

I have been working on my blog layout. I feel like I have too many posts to continue with one menu option. I wanted to let you all know I am aware of this and taking steps to improve. That being said, I’m bombing with the theme options. Ideally, I would like to have four categories:

  1. Blog Entries
  2. LGFN News
  3. Original Horror
  4. Classics Translated (Re-written may give the wrong impression)

I know I have few items belonging to the latter categories, but I’m planning for the long term. My main focus will remain on my original theme, but I want to continue developing our cult. What started as a joke is growing into something beautiful, and I would like to see where it takes us. I don’t intend to write horror or classics regularly, but I have a passion for both and would like to post them when the mood strikes. Again, I can never thank you all enough for your tremendous support.

Today, I would like to properly begin explaining my time living is Rose-yard, a very dangerous subdivision in the middle of my hometown. If you’ve read earlier posts, you may have seen a few references to the “dangerous duplex” already. I briefly mentioned a desperate move after my parents smelled weed in my room, but the details were rushed as they weren’t the focus of our topic. I lived there 2-3 months before Crook and I bought his sister’s house. A surprising amount of drama happened in that short time, but to do it justice let me start by telling you a little about the home first.

It’s been a while since I’ve had an excuse to make a map. I swear, one day I’m going to learn how to do the size proportions correctly.

In case any aren’t familiar with Duplexes, they’re basically one house divided into individual apartments. The one we’re focused on is somewhat well-known where I’m from due to the man who lived there before me. We will get to him in a moment, let’s start with Mickey. He was my coworker at the restaurant, and I considered him a close friend until he robbed me on multiple occasions. As you see on the map, he lived in the left side.

Mickey was an Irish boy with the frizzy, bright orange hair of a true ginger. He kept it braided in a single ponytail which ran down the length of his back, and only wore tight black jeans with plain colored shirts. If he was awake, he wasn’t sober. He was on a cocktail of cocaine, meth, more pills than I can name, and drank heavily on top of it all. I truly don’t know how he survived. His girlfriend (Mona) looked exactly like him; people thought they were twins, but she fed me free donuts so I was fond of her.

On the right side, where I would eventually live, was Booker. Fair warning, his story is tragic. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, but where I’m from they say that for anyone who behaves… well, dangerously insane. The problem with Booker wasn’t solely his mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, he had it rough, but his problems were exacerbated by the copious amounts of meth he injected.

Even more difficult was his financial situation. Meth can be an expensive drug when you need large quantities on a daily basis. Booker, ever the entrepreneur, began cooking his own. For all his quirks, he must have been good at it because he sold a lot and never blew up the house. A small bar opened off the highway next to Rose-yard and it became his office.

As time passed, Booker grew comfortable with his habits. People largely ignored him, considering him a harmless nuisance. One night, he set his sights on a girl at the same time as another local tough guy; only this one was well liked. As the competition grew heated, threats were made, and both men agreed to take it outside. The two exited the bar followed by a crowd eager to watch a fight.

As Booker instead walked to his truck, he was ridiculed. People taunted him for cowardice. No one knows if the insults changed his mind, or if his original intention was always to retrieve a gun. Regardless, he returned to shoot the other man in the head, killing him instantly.

Booker fled the scene, returning home. Police arrived quickly and found him in the attic, attempting to destroy his meth lab. After the arrest, they proceeded to make several large holes in each wall of the apartment. To answer the question of my regular readers, yes. They say the bar and home are haunted now. I can’t confirm the house is haunted based on my time there, but I absolutely could believe it’s cursed.

Skipping ahead to my move-in, we will jump to the part where I ask Mickey to please inform the landlord, “If he lets me move in today, he doesn’t have to fix the holes. And that I’ll pay all cash.” I don’t know how things are done in the real world, but in my messed up corner it’s called “getting shit done.” I was given the green light within the hour and ready to face my next obstacle.

When I go into my crazy place – that mental snap where the world goes fuzzy and my autopilot is stuck on self destruct mode – my brain doesn’t actively think or plan. Instead it understands the Now. The present moment in which we currently live. Nothing exists before and nothing will come after. You do what you must to stay alive in the Now. No more, sometimes less.

New home secured I understood my possessions needed to be relocated. After receiving my keys, I stared politely as Landlord explained there would be no rental contracts; I live there as long as I pay and will leave when I can’t. Pleased he appeared to understand how I live, I paid him to speed his departure. I then emptied my car to maximize space for moving. Preparing to make my first drive, a paranoid sensation washed over me.

I didn’t mind the holes in the wall. I already knew what posters would hang where. What I did mind – and should have expected – was the broken glass in the back door. The shattered pane was the bottom corner next to the doorknob, clearly done to facilitate a break-in. Unable to leave with such a security risk, I repaired it the way I was taught to fix everything – with duct tape. After a few layers on both sides and surprisingly less cuts than expected, it was acceptable.

I made several trips – loading my car to capacity each – all with my mind utterly blank. It wasn’t until I was making the last trip for the day that I realized furniture would never fit into my car. The hour grew late and I wished to avoid confrontation over my coming and going while Dad tried to sleep. I resolved to return with my bed and leave the rest until morning. I didn’t understand my dilemma until I stood staring at the bed, ready to remove the sheets. Unwilling to ask for assistance, I packed my pillows, filled the car once more, and went home to sleep on Booker’s leftover smelly couch.

In the interest of staying honest, I’m going to admit I carried my plan through without hesitation or guilt. We need to take a short recess so I can explain Chris. We shared a study hall the previous year and he drove a large truck. I developed a crush on him as we talked more and more in the classroom, bonding over our shared outcast status. He was probably the sweetest, most innocent guy I’ve ever known, but we weren’t suited for each other. He was a hopeless romantic who dreamed of moving to Tennessee and having five children. Obviously that did not appeal to me on any level. Okay, back to the story.

Last round of unpacking completed, I decided to text Chris. I initiated a ‘just wanted to chat’ conversation that quickly evolved into bragging about my new home. With some carefully phrased questions I learned he was also newly single and feeling the burn of rejection. I lured him into my web with little effort. “You know, if you’re really bored you could come hang out here. First I just have a few more trips to make before I’m finished moving… it’s really hard when you only have a small car…”

“Hey! I have a big truck! What if I came with you? We could finish in half the time!” Chris suggested, all own his own.

“Aw, you would do that? I hadn’t even thought of that! You’re my hero!” I said in my best distressed damsel voice.

Chris arrived within the hour. Not only did we finish in two trips, he stayed with me to assist in cleaning. The house was more disgusting than you imagine. “I don’t mind at all. Dad owns a septic business. It’s going to be mine one day so I’m use to this kind of stuff. As long as I have soap to wash my hands after, I’m fine.” He happily assured me as he scrubbed the disgustingly brown toilet bowl.

Making a mental note to find soap before he realized I didn’t have any, I continued unpacking. As the hour grew late, my brain realized I did not want to spend another horrifying night alone in that place. When you live in a neighborhood like that, in a house where only a thin wall separates you from people who never stop partying til sunrise, everything goes bump in the night.

“Wow, I didn’t realize how late it got. The day really flew by once you were here… too bad you can’t stay the night. I don’t want you to leave now, haha.” My heart hammered as I waited for his response.

“Seriously? You’d let me stay? All night?!” His innocence was adorable.

“Of course. I love having you around.” I genuinely did like and appreciate him. I’m not a complete monster. Yes, I initiated all this so he would help me move, but I liked him a lot. I was normally too shy to be so brazen, but needing him gave me courage.

When he agreed to stay I assumed we would sleep together. Men tend to have expectations in these kinds of situations, and in his case, I was okay with that. I knew he was a virgin, but still expected him to try. We shared a bed and talked a little before falling asleep, but he was too shy to make a move. I think it made me like him even more. We were officially dating before the next day ended, but that is when things turned sour.

As I returned to work and he to school, I learned what true clinginess was. He texted me every second we were apart. The only time he wasn’t texting was when he went into class, but even then I would receive, “I’m out of math now, I miss you so much.” He would talk for the five minute break, then say, “The bell for science rang, I’ll talk to you in 50 minutes.”

At first I thought it was cute, even enjoyed it. No one had ever paid me so much (positive) attention. I assumed things would normalize once we had time to settle into the relationship, but they didn’t. After two weeks things were getting worse instead of better. I didn’t know how to tell him, “I really like you, but I’m losing my mind. I can’t watch tv, play a game, or read a book because there’s never a time you aren’t talking. I can’t keep staying awake all night because the only free time I have is when you sleep.” I was too shy and it sounded cruel. When he mentioned the Tennessee and kids dream, I broke up with him as gently as possible. He took it surprisingly well, but I never saw him again. Now that Chris is out of the way, let’s talk about what being in Rose-yard alone was like.

I was completely alone until Crook moved in later. I only owned one tv which meant there wasn’t one in my bedroom. Sleeping without one proved terrifying and impossible. As I laid in the pitch black darkness on my third night, I heard doors opening all around me. Reminding myself it was on Mickey’s side was useless. I imagined burglars pulling duct tape off the back door and creeping into my room. I stared into the dark opening of the hallway, seeing human shapes there; waiting for me to fall asleep. I quickly resigned myself to sleeping on the couch full time.

Early the next morning, I woke to someone violently banging on my front door. I’m not proud of my behavior, but when I’m rudely pulled from a sound sleep I react poorly. I had no more control over my actions than an alcoholic in withdrawal. All fear of the dangerous neighborhood forgotten, I ripped my door open in a rage. I was face to face with a short, plump, blonde woman; fist raised, ready to begin the next round. I’m not going to type all the curses I threw at her, but if you want a truly accurate account, insert “fuck” after each word I say. I apologize, but I’m a tiny, weak woman. Cursing is my human way of intimidation. I can’t fluff my hair out like cats, but I can curse like a sailor.

“What the hell is your problem?” My voice was low and cruel. I wanted my face to exude pure hatred, and I think it did. The woman hesitated, unsure how to respond.

“I… I’m sorry if I woke you, but I need to talk to Mickey. Right now.” She looked past me as if expecting to see him.

“Yea, you did wake me! It’s 7:00 in the morning and a psycho is trying to beat down my door for someone who doesn’t live here! That is Mickey’s side.” I pointed to the other door as I prepared to slam my own.

“I know, but he won’t answer. I wanted to ask if you could try to wake him. Can you call him or knock on his wall or… something?” She asked me this as if it were the most reasonable thing in the world, but didn’t understand she wasn’t speaking to me. She was speaking to the demon who possesses my body when I’m unable to Adult.

“Hell no you didn’t just tell me that! You know?! What is wrong with you? Do you seriously expect to beat down someone’s door first thing in the morning and have that person help you?” Again, I prepared to slam the door, but she caught my attention once more.

“Wait, please! I’m Tyler’s mom!” She put her hand against the door and spoke faster. “That’s Tyler’s truck parked in your back yard, and I heard Mickey has been selling parts off it. If he gives me the keys and the money he made, I won’t call the police.” The woman misunderstood the situation greatly. The satisfied expression on her face told me she thought I cared if Mickey got into trouble.

I continued speaking with her because I wanted to enjoy seeing that smug expression vanish when she learned the truth. “Lady, I couldn’t care less what happens to Mickey or that truck. The only thing I cared about was sleep, but since you ruined any chance of that let me tell you a little something about Tyler. Do you even understand why that truck is back there? It’s because the girl who lived here before Booker was his girlfriend. When she broke up with him, your little psycho beat the shit out of her. Then when she wouldn’t forgive him, he decided to drive that truck into her kitchen. The house is so high up he went under the house instead of into it. Now the truck is totaled. If you want to call the cops go for it, but if I have to open this door again, it’s going to be with a gun.” I successfully slammed the door on that final note. I didn’t own a gun, but thought it sounded intimidating.

Through the peephole I could see her making a call. She yelled “Okay then, I’m calling them right now.” through the door, but I don’t know if she really did. No police came, but they rarely did in that neighborhood.

When I woke to more knocking at 4am the next morning, I feared it would be routine. This time, two extremely large men stood outside, knocking on both doors. They looked angry and I didn’t open it, but I watched them through the peephole. I tried to call Mickey, knowing he was awake by the sounds coming through my wall, but he wouldn’t answer. Unfortunately I would grow use to the sounds of their tantric sex parties, but my only concern at that moment was to rid myself of the angry men on our porch.

As I typed a message to Mickey, Mona text me first. It read “Stay inside and don’t call the cops no matter what.” That was never a good sign, but I didn’t understand why they thought I would call the police. I wasn’t suicidal (that they knew of), but it became clear when Mickey finally went outside. Since I was awake anyway, I indulged the curiosity, staying at the peephole to watch.

“Look who decided to open up! Where you been at white boy?” the taller one said as they closed in on a Mickey.

“I’ve been right here…” Mickey was more difficult to hear. He spoke softly unlike his friends. Whatever he said, the men clearly weren’t pleased.

“You think you get to ignore us? You think you something special? Like you can just take whatever you want we ain’t coming for yo ass?” The shorter man with gold teeth began poking Mickey in the chest, pushing him back against the house. They stood so close, their noses almost touched.

I could see Mickey, staring at the ground, lips moving, but couldn’t hear his response. When he finished talking he began digging through his pockets. He held out wads of crumpled bills which were promptly snatched from his clutches. Even without physically seeing how much it was, I knew it had to be very little. They were clearly tips from work, meaning the majority were dollar bills.

“What is this shit? I know this ain’t all you have! Where the rest? Up your damn nose prolly. Whatcha think D? Think we can take our shit right out of his nose?” I covered my mouth to stifle my scream. Very quickly, the one with gold teeth grabbed Mickey’s braid, yanking his head back to bounce off the wall.

“It’s all I have. I can get…” is all he had a chance to say. The man called D cut Mickey’s words short with a punch to the stomach. My eyes darted to the door, expecting to see friends rush to his aid, but no one came.

As Mickey tried to regain his breath, the short one threw him to the ground. Both began kicking him all over while D informed him, “This your last warning bitch. Everyday you don’t pay, this is gonna be worse! You hear me?”

Mickey, curled into fetal position, could only shake his head in agreement. The men spit on him before leaving, then his friends came to help. One eye already swollen shut, he walked inside with them. A few minutes later, he returned, gently knocking on my door. Checking to make sure he was alone, I let him in, eager to hear the explanation.

“I just wanted to make sure you were ok…” He stood by the front windows, watching the road.

Only wanting his story, not small talk, I set his mind at ease. “Don’t worry I didn’t call the cops, no ones coming.”

Relief washed over him and he took a seat. “I was suppose to pay them today, but I ran into a few problems. If you ever see those guys again, just make sure your doors are locked and stay inside, you understand?” He said these things casually, as if he weren’t just beaten up on our porch.

“Yea, I mean that kind of goes without saying. But why do you owe them money? Is that their cocaine?” I was surprised further by how calmly he prepared the line he was now snorting from my coffee table.

“Yea, but it’s really good stuff. Here, I thought it’s the least I could do after the crazy bitch from yesterday, and now you had to wake up even earlier because of this shit.” He arranged a smaller line and offered me a rolled up bill with which to snort it.

Being young and upset about missed sleep, I took it gratefully. I couldn’t help but laugh at the $100 bill I was snorting it with. I don’t know how much money he owed those guys, but I can’t help feeling they may have been slightly kinder had he paid with it instead of tip money.

I did indeed see the men once more. Of course it was at a rare time I was genuinely home alone. Mickey and Mona were at work, and my music was playing loudly enough to be heard from outside. It was roughly 5:00pm when the loud bangs sounded at the door. Looking through the peephole I saw them with the same angry expressions and knew Mickey never paid them.

I dialed 911 but hesitated over the call button. If I went through with it, not only would police never arrive in time, but those men would know I was the only person who could have called. I desperately wanted to stay off their radar. I kept watch, deciding if they attempted to enter – I would run out the back door and down the street. Instead, I tried to call Mickey and Mona but neither answered.

The one with gold teeth pounded against my door while D worked on the other. Finally, D kicked Mickey’s door hard enough to break it open. “There we go. Time to make our money back! Stay on that door.” D indicated mine. “If someone come out, take their phone.”

That’s all I needed to hear. I value my phone more than life. I moved the couch against the door, terrified he would decide to simply kick it open anyway. Then I continued stacking everything I could lift onto the couch. I almost threw up when I remembered how easy it would be for them to open the back door. You guys know those paracord bracelets? I use to have one until I used it to tie one end around the door knob and the other to the fridge.

As I did these things, I text Mickey and Mona several warnings and updates, but after finishing the back door I saw the men were gone. Mickey’s door remained wide open, but the men were nowhere in sight. I was too afraid to open the door, but I looked out each window several times and couldn’t find them.

Mickey eventually returned my call. He apologized and thanked me profusely for not calling the police. Apparently he had a large drug cache hidden inside and was desperate to check on it. Thankfully he didn’t want to tell me where, but even if he had I still wasn’t willing to open my door. This incident scared Mona badly enough to borrow money from her father. She paid the drug debt under the condition they agreed not to do business together anymore. Everyone seemed fine with her terms.

A few days after this incident, I left for work in a rush, forgetting to lock my door. Desperate not to lose more time, I called Mickey. He said he would lock the door, but after hanging up I realized I also forgot my cigarettes.

Turning around, I made it home in time to see Mickey exiting my apartment. I only had to wonder why he felt the need to go inside for a few seconds before he saw me and shoved his hands into his pockets. I was still too naive to accept a close friend would blatantly steal from me, but even if I had, I would have been too afraid to confront him.

Had I realized in that moment he stole the amulet I wore to every tennis match I ever played – I would have blacked out and burned the house down with both of us inside, but I didn’t. Instead, I chastised myself for being a paranoid asshole. Sadly it would take loaning him $250 on top of later discovering my amulet was gone before I learned I wasn’t just paranoid that time. He actively stole from me every chance he had, only to deny it later.

Now you should all have a decent idea of what it was like to live there. Next time we discuss Rose-yard I’ll be able to get straight to the good stuff. I’m not sure when that will be, but we’ll get to it eventually. I would like to stop here so I have time to tell you about one more idea I want to implement.

Last month, I mentioned the horrible poems I wrote in high school. I have several notebooks filled with the cheesiest emo girl stuff you’ve ever seen. In the OCD interest of having all my work in one place, I wanted to find a way to post them here without losing all my followers. I think I have found a way to do that. Obviously I can’t post them on their own, but I could write one at the bottom of every normal post.

I feel like that will complete my goal without fear of new readers seeing them first and never clicking on stuff again. I freely admit I know nothing about poetry; not how to write it or how to judge it. With the exception of Poe’s The Raven and Blake’s The Poison Tree, I don’t even like poetry. Mine were simply the byproduct of a sad, depressed teenager who desperately wanted the pain to stop. No more. I strongly recommend you only read the poems at the end if you want a laugh. If you’re cruising for good poems, this is not where you want to be.

That being said, thank you all once again, LGFN forever! Remember, be safe out there. Sometimes they really are out to get you.

Open Mind


You are so predictable,
But god, you just seemed so sensible.
Why shouldn’t I love you?
Why can’t I trust you?
Why not settle down?
Why not take a chance?
Why shouldn’t we hold hands?
You promised you were right,
You promised I was wrong.

I wanted to stop running,
But now the pain keeps coming.
Now the thought of you makes me sick.
Why was it you I had to pick?
Why did you have to be my one shot?
Why was it me you forgot?
Why did you give me hope?
Why did you take it away,
For a reason you’ll never say?

It’s not fair, it’s not right.
Why is it you I have to fight?
You were suppose to be different,
You were suppose to show me how,
But you were wrong, and I’m alone now.

I knew I shouldn’t love you,
I knew not to trust you.
I knew not to settle down,
I knew it was wrong to take a chance.
I knew not to hold your hands!

Why didn’t I keep running?
This pain wouldn’t be coming,
But I did and it is.
Now I’m alone, forever and always,
On my own, for the rest of my days.

humor

Cult Update

I bet you thought I forgot about the cult, but I haven’t! I’ve been putting a lot of thought into it now that we have a few members. I think I’ve come up with something we can all be happy with, but if you disagree, please let me know. I think our final name should be LGFN, let me explain why.

We are all weirdos. This cult is about uniting the outcasts under one metaphorical roof. Seriously, I love you all but I could never live in a group on a farm or some craziness. Think of Weirdos as Hogwarts. We belong to four different houses, but we are all wizards, Harry.

Legal Disclaimer: I clearly don’t own any rights to Harry Potter, but if you thought I did – thanks.

We each possess unique traits but share core ethics and commonality. Whether you’re a Loser with the loyalty of a Hufflepuff, a Geeky gamer with the courage of a Gryffindor, a Freak with the wiles of a Slytherin, a Nerd with the intelligence of a Ravenclaw, or a mixture of each, we are all magic!

Personally I’m 3 parts Geek 2 parts Nerd, but that’s what makes this cult special. We don’t conform to one ideal. We strive to share and celebrate our differences. We admire strange and unusual. We can disagree without fighting because it’s fascinating to learn how other people live and think. Share your weirdness with the world, who cares what the muggles think!

We are still accepting new members. Also, to be clear – I will never live on a farm, but if any of you possess the financial means and have the urge – I support you. Unless you start doing suicide pacts and kool-aid parties. If you start messing around with that kind of crazy, I’m out.

Thank you all for joining this first official meeting of (member name approval pending) LGFN. Be safe out there. Sometimes they really are out to get you.

humor

Because It’s Cool

Of course I peed my pants, everyone my age pees their pants; it’s the coolest! You ain’t cool unless you pee your pants.

Billy Madison

After enjoying the Fear Street trilogy and writing half a scary story, I realized I should go back to basics. I lured you all here under the pretense of crazy and comedy, not horror. Plus, I eat ketchup on steak without shame now because I know I’m not alone. Let’s see what else we can dig up, shall we? Today, I want to share another ridiculous embarrassment that only happened because of my stubbornness.

Reminder: I know some of you tend to feel guilty for laughing at these, but don’t. I’m 33 now and I’ve been laughing at them for years. Yes, it sucked at the time, but you know what? I’d do it all again. It gave me stories that make people laugh, and they honestly are funny. If we saw it on tv, we would all laugh. But most importantly: this kinda stuff happens to teens every day. There are people living their own versions of this who have no clue it won’t matter in a few years. In the thick of it, you can’t fathom a day when your life isn’t ruined. If even one person going through that reads these and it actually helps them get through it - yea, bring it on. I’ll do these all day, I got a million more, just hold tight. 
But seriously, this is the best thing I’ve watched this year. I intend to have the book series before the day is over.

Before I begin, I’ve always had a sort of dream I would like other opinions on. I love classic stories. Poe, Lovecraft, Shakespeare, and so many more, but I hate the old timey speech. What if, someone were to rewrite those classics in modern language? I don’t mean a reboot where some schmuck tries to modernize the story and ruin it, those people should be shot. I want to rewrite them exactly as they are, merely translated to our language. Has anyone else done this? I would love to try it, but no one else has ever shown interest to the notion. Anyway, on to the show.

Let’s talk about a Senior field trip to a museum. A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Only the history class and teacher (Mr. Moore) went.
  2. It was the last class of the day. We each drove ourselves to the museum.
  3. I was dating the high-school sweetheart. He isn’t in this story, but he is relevant as to how I found myself in the following situation.
  4. I was already working at the restaurant from my Queen of the Walk series.

The day of the field trip was hell. I woke to my alarm with a desperate need to pee, almost painful. I emptied my bladder and dressed for school as usual, but as I applied make-up the urge to pee returned with vengeance. I knew something was wrong immediately. I have a boss ass bladder. I trained it to only need attention 2-3 times a day in my plight to avoid public restrooms. Sitting to do my business, I felt a burning sensation as a trickle of urine exited my body.

Terrified, I feared the worst. Was it an STD? Had to be, right? I shudder to think of my reaction had Google not been there to save me. Even back then WebMD identified it as cancer, but admitted an Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) was also a likely culprit. Knowledge is power. I learned it was a common issue which normally resolved itself in a matter of days.

Unfortunately, it listed “frequent intercourse” as the common cause. Normally, I would say “that’s the reason I didn’t tell my parents,” but I’ve never lied to you guys and won’t start now. I wouldn’t have told them regardless the problem or cause. I tried to psych myself up, mentally defeat the UTI, but clearly science doesn’t give a damn about my mental resilience. Telling myself ‘it just feels like you have to pee, but you don’t’ didn’t make it true.

If you’ve never experienced one first hand, I’m not sure how to describe the intensity. Have you ever had a lot to drink before going to bed? Has it woken you in the middle of the night because your bladder was about to explode? If you’re like me, maybe you’re too lazy to get up. Maybe you ignore it successfully and fall asleep, but what did it feel like next time you woke up? Add an extreme burning sensation as if someone heated your urine to the boiling point and you have a decent idea.

After each class – and a few times during – I was forced to use public restrooms. As if I could afford to lose more pieces of my soul. The longer I held it, the more I had and hotter it burned. To make matters worse, I was expected at work after school. Perhaps my years of (almost always) successfully hiding my period made me cocky, but I thought I could pull it off. At least I can say I gave it the old college try.

I kept my problem secret from everyone, including Thelma. Any bathroom related issues in high-school were basically social suicide, and I was already dead in the water far as that went. Needless to say, my mood was poor; but as we drove to the museum, I felt good about making it through the school day. The hard part was over and I believed the rest would be downhill. It’s amazing how stupid we are as children. The urge to pee was prominent when I got in the car, but I was too lazy and sick of the school’s disgusting toilets to go back. I should have gone to the bathroom upon arrival, but again, Past Me was a stubborn dumbass.

As we gathered at the entrance, I saw we had been duped. I love museums and was pleasantly surprised to learn we had one…. but I would describe that place as ‘a large house filled with town history.’ I decided it’s only going to take a few minutes to walk through this place. I can wait until work, it’s just down the street.

I held my bladder as Mr. Moore gave the usual field trip speech, “Be respectful, and don’t touch anything.” He waited until after we were inside and he was blocking the exit to add, “Since we all drove ourselves, this is not technically a field trip. You can go straight home when you leave, but I would like you all to look around first.” He was extremely passionate about history, but his love for our town’s history bordered on unhealthy obsession.

Yes, our town has a lot of interesting parts to it, but I lost all respect for the man after our lessons about slavery. For any fellow John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight fans, you may have seen S07E20, US History about Southern private schools’ archaic history lessons. That was Mr. Moore. He told us things I fear to repeat and he believed them, but the scary part was how many students eagerly adopted his conviction. Alas, I’ll save those for another day. I’ve been working hard to avoid tangents and don’t want to backslide now.

Thelma and I walked through fairly quickly. I did see a few interesting things I would normally have enjoyed, but it was hard to focus when it felt like my bladder was coordinating an armed rebellion against me. As we made it to the final display on the second floor, a new level of urgency struck. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt I could not hold it any longer. All fear of public restrooms vanished as I raced to locate a toilet.

Suddenly, the museum didn’t seem small anymore. After a complete run-through, I failed to find restrooms. I imagined fleeing to my car, preferring to wet my pants privately, but then I saw it. Tucked into a small hallway a beautiful, skirted stick woman’s open arms and expressionless face beckoned me. I ran into her loving embrace and plowed straight through it, into an actual woman who was trying to exit. She cursed and I apologized without stopping.

Somehow, I was lucky enough for the bathroom to be otherwise empty. Had the woman I bumped into been a few seconds slower, this story may have progressed much worse. So desperate was my situation, I couldn’t yet breathe easy. As I ran the last few steps into the closest stall, I began… leaking. I clinched with all my strength, not a drop should have been able to squeeze through. My thoughts as I stood in the stall, next to a clean, functional toilet with piss slowly running down my legs, are impossible to translate.

I’ve never performed well under pressure, not physically. My brain will offer solutions, but even the best ideas are useless if you don’t possess the capacity to execute said solution. I knew I needed to undo my pants and get my ass over that toilet, but my fingers didn’t work. I wasn’t wearing traditional button up jeans, I wore capris pants with a tie-string. I was often pantsed (you know, when they yank your pants down) at school and always utilized every tool at my disposal to prevent such actions. In my haste, I pulled the wrong string, creating a tight knot I couldn’t undo even if I weren’t actively peeing my pants.

I was further distressed to discover it was not the short trickle I’d experienced when returning to the bathroom every hour; it was the full stream of a drunk girl on her second bottle of wine. Adrenaline surged through me as I pulled at my pants and wiggled my hips. I was rewarded with slow yet steady progress. I watched the urine puddle grow and spread into neighboring stalls with despair. I expected someone (most likely a classmate) to walk in any moment, but they didn’t.

No more than 60 seconds could have passed between the time I entered the stall and finished soaking the floor, yet I feel like I experienced hours worth of thoughts. I’m not sure why I didn’t sit on the toilet with my pants up. It’s not that I didn’t think about it, I considered it almost immediately. I even realized it would make a huge difference in the clean up if someone entered.

Each time I imagined the door opening, my stomach lurched and I thought I would puke. When the stream finally ran dry, I let go of my pants in favor of toilet paper. I ignored my pants as they finally fell to the floor, instead concentrating on dropping as much TP as possible. I know “life-threatening situation” sounds dramatic for a pants wetting, but I was 17, a Senior, and finally at a point where boys didn’t spit on me everyday. The prospect of everyone learning I wet my pants on a field trip (while Billy Madison was insanely popular) felt that way in the moment.

I wanted to clean my mess. I struggle for a word stronger than shame; the emotion I felt was so much deeper. My legs and pants were soaked. The puddle spread through my stall, two others, and the open floor. My mind raced for a solution, but there was so little time. I would be lying if I said the grossness didn’t play a part in my decision, but I truly feared I would be discovered any second. I wore a thin, long sleeve shirt over a skimpy tank top. The kind I would normally never wear in public but technically covered the important bits.

I had no choice. I secured my pants once more, removed my shirt, and tied it around my waist. With my head down, I speed walked out the door. I made it to my car without seeing anyone, but wasn’t out of the woods yet. I didn’t know if anyone saw me exit the bathroom which led to hours of paranoid daydreams and a fresh surge of panic with each new text. I also needed new pants if I didn’t want to explain why I was ditching work last minute.

My trunk was basically a suitcase and I hoped to get lucky. I was willing to wear pajamas if it was all I had. I lucked out with slightly stained but acceptable jeans and threw the wet pants into the dumpster at work. I used the horrible bathroom every 20 minutes, terrified of a repeat occurrence, but survived the shift.

That night, I called Thelma. I wanted to think of a way to ask “So, anybody happen to notice pee all over the bathroom floor at the museum?” But Thelma beat me to it.

“Dude! I forgot to tell you! The funniest shit happened after you left the museum! Some lady’s 3 year old pissed all over the bathroom floor.” Thelma paused, laughing hysterically. My heart lifted, but I was too afraid to hope.

I held my breath until I could wait no longer. “No way, you’re screwing with me right? What happened?” I forced a laugh, trying to hide my anxiety.

After a few deep breaths she was able to continue. I feel bad about this now, but admit I was extremely proud and laughed with Thelma when it happened. #Honesty. So, here’s what happened:

The manager walked into the bathroom minutes after I left but never saw me. What she did see, was a mother kneeling in front of her small child.

Manager promptly exited the bathroom, intent to confront Mother. “Excuse me! Ma’am? You cannot do that! You’re going to have to clean that up!”

Mother, taking a few steps back, is confused at first. “I’m… sorry? Um, I think you have the wrong person.” Thelma mistook the lady’s genuine confusion for ‘complete guilt’ and mistook my resulting laughter as genuine instead of guilt.

“No ma’am, I saw you come out of here. I understand children have accidents, but you need to be the one to clean it up.” Manager lowered her tone, aware she was attracting attention.

“Lady, we didn’t go in there, we just stopped so I could fix her backpack.” Mother now had the child’s hand, backing away from the crazy woman.

“Look, I’m sorry I spoke loudly, I was just… surprised. It’s really not a big deal. I’ll get you a mop, there’s one right down the hall.” Manager changed tactics, but to no avail.

Mother looked to the crowd around her with a facial expression begging do you people see this?! But found no support. As Manager walked away, she called after her, “I don’t know if someone has crapped or puked – because we didn’t go in there – but I’m not mopping up someone else’s mess in someone else’s house. Maybe you should hire a janitor if you aren’t capable of cleaning your restrooms.” With that, she scooped up her child and left.

Manager walked to the front windows, watching her until she was out of sight. With a sad, slow shake of her head, she addressed the crowd. “I walked in there right as they came out. And she knows that, but she wants to stand there lying to my face rather than admit her daughter peed all over the floor.”

All agreed with her regarding the sad state the world had become. Anyway, the UTI cleared up within a few days, but the first was unquestionably the worst.

A bonus tidbit you may find amusing: a few years later, Thelma got an UTI and peed all over a dressing room floor at an outlet mall. The only difference is she got caught. She told an employee she couldn’t clean it up, apologized, and never returned.

I just realized this the third story involving a bathroom incident and I’m not even halfway through them. Oh well, this is probably enough for today. Thank you for your indulgence, and I sincerely hope you laughed.

I still haven’t been able to get a photo of Heathcliff, but he received pets this morning! He ran to me for breakfast and rubbed between my legs like a pro so I went with it. In lieu of his photo, I will pay the cat tax another way.

Ari mothered Romulus a lot as a kitten. They remain very close.

Remember, stay safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.

humor

JustNoMil (Pt. 2)

I hope this final installment of the JustNoMil duology finds you well. The week is flying by, so with your permission I would like to dive right in today. We’re going to start with the first Valentines Crook and I were able to spend together. We were two years into the relationship, but he was on a rig for the first one. The second year, he returned from a two week hitch February 13th. Normally I don’t buy into Valentine’s Day unless it precedes the word ‘massacre,’ but we were excited for this one.

Upon arriving, Crook was unable to keep his special plans secret any longer. The fact he planned anything while at work was impressive. “I was trying to surprise you, but it’s harder keeping the secret now that I’m home. I made reservations at Haunted Hotel.” His voice was filled with pride. Securing a reservation anywhere on Valentines was difficult, but he succeeded with one of the best.

If you read Calling All Ghosts, yes. That’s the place. He knew I’m not big on romance, but wanted to show the effort. Hoping (correctly) a spooky theme would make the holiday more enjoyable, he called in a favor to reserve the best haunt-themed food in town.

As if her spidey-sense detected our happiness, Effie called intent to ruin it. “Hey Sweetie, I just wanted to make sure you got home safe.” Her sobs sounded more genuine than usual. I suppose practice makes perfect.

“Yea, I’m fine. What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Crook shifted into worried son mode seamlessly.

I assumed she was trying to force him to feed her animals, but that was only a secondary reason for calling. “Oh… I’m fine… you don’t want to hear me cry about my pitiful life. I’m just so depressed about Valentines Day. I’d rather kill myself than spend another one alone…”

You could tell she was desperate by how quickly she brought out the big guns. With Crook’s blindness to the manipulation tactics I memorized in a month, Effie successfully invited herself to our dinner in under 5 minutes. Was I so angry I nearly blacked out? Obviously. Did I make a scene? No. I knew he would get defensive if I tried to explain what Effie was doing. Instead, I took deep breaths. Reminding myself, you hate this crap anyway. It’s only for dinner, just a couple hours. The rest of the day is ours. We’re going to watch anime, smoke weed, and eat Chinese takeout because that’s what gives life meaning.

That mantra got me through the night and next morning. At noon, my happy place was burned to the ground when Effie arrived, unannounced. I stared at her through the window, willing her to disappear, but eventually I was forced to open the door. I motioned for her to have a seat, explaining Crook was still catching up on his sleep.

Effie was having none of that. She walked straight down the hallway, into our bedroom, and shrieked “Wake up Sweetie! Mommy is heeeeeeeere!”

I remained on the living room floor, struggling to breath as a panic attack consumed me. I became deaf to all but my own thoughts. She went in our room. There’s someone in our room, what’s wrong with you? Get in there and kill it! She’s going to sit on your bed! Move!

Faintly, distant noises began filtering through the static. I heard sounds that were either dresser drawers or blunt force trauma. Realizing the moans of pain were coming from myself, I assumed it was the former.

Eventually, I see them exit the bedroom, arm-in-arm. Crook disheveled and confused; Effie grinning ear to ear, still talking. “I’m so excited we’re spending the day together. This is the best Valentines ever!”

I physically bit my tongue, terrified to speak. I could already feel the angry tears forming. I knew if I tried to talk, only unintelligible squalls would emerge. The one thing preventing a full meltdown was my invisibility. Effie was only interested in feeding her delusion, and I didn’t fit into her script. I tuned her out, pouring all my focus into tv for the next several hours.

We were 20 minutes away from leaving for dinner when another knock sounded at the door. I opened it to be greeted by a dozen red roses; Crook’s last surprise. Before I could react, Effie pushed past me, squealing like Miss Piggy, and took my flowers.

Smelling the roses, she met my gaze. I’m not sure what emotion she mistook fury for, but I still get angry thinking about how she said “Oh Crook, you shouldn’t have! But it’s not fair to buy me all these beautiful roses!” Looking at me as if I were a homeless person begging for spare change, she gave me the card and one rose. “Here, don’t feel left out.”

(This always bothered me, think about it. Since she handed me the card… she knew, right? Deep down on a subconscious level she can never admit to… she had to know, right? I think she knew.)

I looked to Crook, (still naive enough to think he might correct her) but he stared at his feet, tail tucked between his legs. I threw the card (open for all to read) on the table next to Effie, and finished preparing for dinner.

Seated at the only 3-top in the restaurant, Effie ordered for all of us. When I told the waiter to change my order, she glared at me as if slapped. I held my tongue as she requested a vase for her roses, but I finally understood why she insisted on bringing them. It wasn’t enough to claim them, she needed other people to see; they made it feel real. When I didn’t react to her prompts clearly fishing for a compliment, she became sullen.

From that point forward, she complained about the food and service nonstop. The only complaint I had toward dinner was Effie’s company, but I digress. It was the longest dinner of my life, and we still weren’t free of her. Having refused to drive herself “to a date” we were stuck with her until she sobered enough to drive herself home. After the first pot of coffee, I thought she was faking. It wasn’t the first time she tried to spend the night, but it was thankfully the last.

Thus ended the worst Valentines of my life. For the next and last story regarding Effie, I will discuss her arm/shoulder surgery. Do you know what’s worse than a paranoid, codependent hypochondriac? A hypochondriac who actually has something wrong. I don’t have kids, I’ve never cared for one under 7 in my life, but I would take on five toddlers before going near Effie again.

At this stage, we were years into our relationship, and I was savvy to all Effie’s tricks. When we learned she was genuinely in need, I had no problem visiting her in the hospital or caring for her animals. When she was able to finish recovery at home, I was a fantastic sport. I even walked her to the bathroom a few times (it’s not like I had to go in with her).

What I did have issues with, was how she treated us while we were helping. Each day we did our usual chores, and before leaving we asked, “Is there anything else you need? You’re sure? Because we’re about to go home.”

Every single day she said, “No, I’m fine thanks.” Without fail, 10 minutes after being home, she called Crook, begging him to return.

If I had to guess, I think she preferred him to visit without me (I sure did) knowing he would be easier to manipulate. Let me be clear, after the first week, she was fully functional for everything except lifting or certain movements with her arm. We knew she would use us as long as possible, but even if she didn’t have a walker, there was absolutely no reason she could not walk unattended.

With that understood, here’s what happened three weeks into her recovery. As with every other day, we performed our morning chores, asked if she needed anything else, and went home. We only had time to sit down with a fresh bowl before the phone rang.

“Can’t we just ignore her this once? Just until we finish smoking?” I begged.

“I’m sorry, I just need to make sure she hasn’t hurt herself. I’m not going back today, I’m sick of it too.” Crook answered the phone. It was one thing to lie to me, I could understand that, but it was infuriating when he lied to himself. Let me break their conversation down the easy way as we near our conclusion.

Effie: Hey Baby, can you bring Mama something to eat? I finally have an appetite and I’m craving my favorite pizza place.

Crook: But… they’re right across the street. The doctor said you should be trying to get out now. It might be good for you to go.

Effie: I don’t care what that quack said! He can’t feel my pain! I’ll never make it!

Crook: Okay, fine. If you aren’t ready to drive, just have it delivered.

Effie: Ugh, I can’t get out of my chair to make it to the door! Why are you arguing with me? I’m starving!

Crook: Fine! When did they say it would be ready?

Effie: I haven’t ordered it. Tell them to make sure all these very picky details are correct or you’ll send it back. I absolutely can’t eat it if it’s not right.

Crook: I’ll never get all that straight. Could you at least call the order in? Then I’ll just pick it up and bring it to you.

Effie: No, they don’t like me, they always do it wrong on purpose. See if they’ll get it right for you.

Crook: Fine, I’ll be there soon to get the money, then I’ll go grab your food.

Effie: You can’t even buy your mother one meal while I’m starving to death?!

Crook: Yea, sorry.

People, my blood boiled. I could almost see the bubbles under my skin as the heat simmered throughout my body. I stared at Crook in disbelief, speechless, wondering if his balls would ever drop.

When Crook delivered her food, it was indeed wrong. He insisted she asked for olives, Effie insists she said no olives. I don’t know who was correct, I didn’t hear it firsthand, but I have two equally plausible theories.

  1. Crook subconsciously got it wrong on purpose, sick of Effie’s shit.
  2. Effie didn’t have anything else to complain about, and olives were the first thing she thought to use.

As an adult possibly speaking to impressionable teens, I won’t say what I would have done to the food, but if you’re familiar with the movie Waiting, you have a pretty good idea. The important thing is, these stories are home where they belong. There’s still the matter of my notebooks, but as far as online publications go, I think these were the only ones. Now I can spend the week fully submerged in all the glorious horror of Halloween. I think I’ll go listen to some CreepyPastas while I decide what to write next. Maybe I should start taking requests.

Oh yea, can’t forget the sign-off. You all be safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.

Here is Hannibal pretending to be a flower. For cat tax.
humor

JustNoMil (Pt. 1)

Cat Update: #12 has shown me his dingleberries, he is now Heathcliff. He no longer hides under the truck when we go outside but will not receive our pets. There is territory trouble with Percy and Lily, but we’re making daily progress.

If anyone is a fan of the subreddit JustNoMil, this one goes out to you. For those unfamiliar, MIL is mother-in-law, and Reddit has a fantastic community where people discuss their personal experiences. I highly recommend it, they have some gems. Bestie, who has relatable in-laws, introduced me to it knowing Crook’s mother was prime writing material. I posted a four part story about her six years ago, but can’t get into my old account. I want to bring them home to the rest of my crazy.

My only-child syndrome has clearly evolved to a new level. I now see my stories as living things, each in need of my loving protection. Maybe it’s more god-complex or OCD, but either way this needs to be done. They were fairly short, but typed in the subreddit’s speak. Written correctly, they’re too long for one post, but I think I can get it done in two. Back then, I was apparently too embarrassed to admit certain details. That and other deviations will be corrected in this improved telling of my MIL series.

Crook’s mother reminds me of a ginger Aunt Effie from Mama’s Family, so that’s what we’ll call her. We had a traditional meeting, Crook introduced us after our third date. She was kind, seemed normal, asked the usual questions. Was she a little chatty from the wine? Sure she was, but it was Friday night; nothing to raise red flags. By night’s end, I believed we would have a fairly decent relationship. Let’s call it the foolishness of youth.

Effie owned a large, beautiful house (I dreamed of one day inheriting), 5 dogs, and 6 cats. Roughly five minutes from her home, she owned a barn with 4 horses. Like so many others, she too habitually mixed wine with Xanax. As we learned with Amy, that can be a dangerous combo.

The short time Crook still lived with Effie, I gave no thought to him caring for her animals. It made sense; she was older, single, and Crook was being a good son. The first red flag didn’t wave until we moved in together. We transported all our possessions into one home over the course of one very long, hard day. When we finally stopped, we spread a blanket on the floor, plugged in a tv, and laid back, exhausted. Within 10 minutes, Effie called.

“Hey Sweetie, you fed the horses today, right?”

“No, I told you I wouldn’t be able today… remember? We’ve been moving stuff all day, we literally just sat down for the first time.”

“You did not tell me! It’s already dark out, they must be starving! You gotta get over there!” Effie shrieked loudly enough for me to hear perfectly. I was not pleased but remained silent.

“Yes. I did. You’re only five minutes away. You could feed them and be home in less than 30 minutes. I’m over 30 minutes away, and I’d have to get gas. I’m sorry, but do you think you could please handle it?”

“Oh I really don’t feel good, not tonight. I’ll end up hurting myself trying to lift those heavy feed bags…” Effie whined.

It was a long, painful conversation to hear, but at the end, Crook lost. For what it’s worth, he didn’t ride horses, didn’t much care for them at all, but knew they wouldn’t eat if he didn’t acquiesce. Effie rode them a few times, but otherwise simply enjoyed the status of ownership. After returning home, Crook showed me texts he sent, informing her to make future arrangements for the horses. As it were, he could no longer make the drive on a routine basis. He did not receive a reply.

I’m sure most of you have guessed, but she called the next evening with the same question, “Have you fed the horses yet?” Each day they had the same argument with the same result.

I stopped being a good sport after the first day but stayed silent, too timid to rock the boat. That all changed when Effie upped the ante. She grew bold in her demands, adding the cats and dogs to her list.

“Are you serious? It’s bad enough I have to waste time and gas to care for the horses you have nothing to do with but won’t sell; now you want me to come to your house – while your there – so I can clean the litter, feed, and water 11 animals?!” Crook paced, furious. “Well, it’s too bad. I’ve already fed the horses, and I’m not getting back out tonight.”

It was a lie, he hadn’t fed the horses, but she would never know. Each day he still deluded himself into thinking it the last. Never once did he consider feeding them early, as if doing so could further encourage her behavior.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner, but my back started hurting. I can’t handle the animals tonight, I need your help.” Effie cried, complaining of new aches and pains with each excuse Crook gave. She had two litter boxes, neither of which had been cleaned since we moved.

For almost three weeks, this new pattern continued. It evolved into Crook going straight to her house after work, making him 2-3 hours late getting home each night. We began fighting, both our limits stretched to the breaking point. Finally, he agreed to put his foot down. He didn’t have the balls to say a forceful “No!” but compromised by felling Effie we would be out of town for a week.

“I’m sorry, but we’re going to be over two hours away. If you can’t take care of your animals, maybe you should think about finding new homes for them.” Crook spoke kindly, but it didn’t matter.

Effie responded with shock and rage. The tears were instant, her cries deafening. “I can pay your gas. You could just wake up a little earlier and…”

“No! Do you hear yourself, do you know how crazy that sounds?!” He came close to losing his temper but reigned it in. “Please Mom, can you please take care of your animals for a week? I can’t handle this anymore, I need a break.”

We all needed a break. Effie pulled every emotional manipulation in the book, but Crook held strong. After an hour of being called an “ungrateful son whose abandoning his single mother and fur siblings to rot” she finally ended the call with, “Fine, I’m going to call you everyday to let you know everything is done… so if you haven’t heard from me by 6pm, something’s wrong.” She likes to hang up before you can respond. It’s her last line of defense; making poorly veiled insinuations something terrible is about to befall her and it’s your fault.

After no contact all week, she called us the morning we were due to return. “I’m alive, even though you clearly don’t care. I could have been dead and you wouldn’t know since you didn’t check on me once! My back is killing me now, I can’t move anymore. Feeding the horses and bending over that litter is just too much, I need your help. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast yesterday because I can’t get out of my chair except to crawl to the bathroom.” She poured the guilt trips out like they were rehearsed, nary a breath taken.

Her act won her a visit from both of us. I don’t remember why, maybe we had to go somewhere before. Not only did we have to order, pay for, and deliver her food, the house reeked of litter left untouched for a week. I refused to participate in the chores on sheer principle. I almost ignored her when she called for me, but forced my feet to move anyway.

Seriously though, 6 cats, 2 litter boxes, 1 week, the smell. I know my fellow cat servants will all need a moment to shake it off, don’t worry, take your time. We’ll wait… * happy thoughts * … Okay, you good? Great.

She skipped the pleasantries and got straight to business, a trait I normally admire when it isn’t in lieu of delusional rants. “Can you believe he did that to me? Of all the ungrateful! I mean, the one time I need him. You have no idea how much I sacrificed for him! For him to just… I could have died!”

I resisted the urge to point out she was always in need. It was made easier by the fact she didn’t give me an opportunity to speak. She ranted for two hours while Crook tended her animals and cleaned. When he finally finished it was close to 8:00 and my happy place didn’t provide enough protection to stay any longer. Only severe Southern Hospitality Code of Ethics training held my feet in place and mouth closed as Effie tried to prevent us from leaving.

“Oh Honey, please don’t go. I’m afraid of being here alone in this big, old house. What if something happens and I can’t get to a phone? Please, why don’t y’all stay the night?” She cooed like a witch with a poisoned apple.

After another brazen display of emotional manipulation, Crook agreed. With a sad look and ‘what can you do’ shrug, he said “Just tonight.”

I can’t even. “That’s fine if you want to stay.” I smiled wide, careful to keep my voice non-threatening. “But we have animals and things to do at our house too. I’m going home, let me know if you want me to pick you up tomorrow.” I was already walking to the door, desperate to put distance between myself and Effie.

Fearing (correctly) Crook wouldn’t stay if I didn’t, she threw her Hail Mary. “You two should just move here! It makes so much sense! It’s a big house, plenty of room for my future grandkids, and think of all the money you’d save!”

Nothing raises my hackles faster than the threat of extra roommates. It was too much for my rookie, adult brain to handle. “There’s no way that’s happening. If you need any tips on how to handle your household, all you have to do is ask, but I can’t stay here any later. Crook are you coming or staying?”

That was the moment she started hating me, but it was worth it. Crook came home, and the confrontation won us a week of no contact. It seems a week was her max tolerance for accumulating litter.

Now we’re jumping ahead to the first time I went to work with Crook. If there are new readers today, I quit my job to travel with him because I was too codependent to be home alone for a week. Yes, I acknowledge the crazy, but this isn’t the post for dissecting my inability to cope with separation anxiety.

In the time we are skipping, Effie proved herself capable of caring for her animals when forced. For 6+ months, Crook’s drill site was only an hour away, but 12 hour shifts on top of the drive left little room for sleeping or eating. When all was said and done, he cared for the animals his week off, and Effie fended for herself when he worked. Did they try to con me into carrying the torch while he worked? You bet. Did I ever agree? No. Principles and all that.

Keeping in mind Crook still cared for her animals half the time, he proposed Effie care for our two cats while we were away. I had doubts. “I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with the idea of their litter not being cleaned for a week. She’ll say she did, but she still won’t scoop her own… no way she’s going to clean ours. Plus Gambit throws a fit if we’re even a few hours late, he’ll lose his mind if it’s a week!” I was baffled he couldn’t understand the certainty I felt.

Gordy is in front, Gambit in back. They’re old men in this picture, but they were babies at the time of this story.

“She really is getting better. It’s only one box for two cats, just let me talk to her. I promise, if I’m not 100% certain she’ll do it, we can call your parents.” Considering that a victory, I secretly sent my parents a few preemptive texts preparing them for the situation.

Unwilling to trust his “certain” faith in Effie, I listened to their conversation. It started worse than I expected. “Hey Ma, you got a sec? I wanted to talk to you about going to Nice City next week. We would need to leave Saturday and wouldn’t be back until Monday night, but…”

“Oh! That sounds lovely, but who would we get to take care of the horses?” Effie began listing prospects.

“No, wait! Mom, no, not you, us. I need you to feed our cats while we’re gone. You would only need to come once a day, Sunday-Sunday.” Crook explained carefully.

“I know that… I was just teasing. Gosh, you live pretty far to make that drive everyday… What do I get?” She giggled, playfully.

Crook clamped a hand over my mouth as I tried to scream into the phone. “I know it’s far, I have to do it all the time. Remember? I was hoping we could make it an even trade, you know? I do all your animals when we’re home, you do ours when we’re away.”

The silence was thick with tension, but it was my turn to prevent Crook from speaking hastily. By that time, I mastered the art to her manipulations. At first, her silence was genuine. I could hear her brain whirling, deciding what to wish for as she weighed the deed with our need, but she long ago settled that matter. Now the silence was her power. She imagined us sweating, eagerly awaiting her answer. As seconds ticked by she saw us turning worried, anxious, desperate. What else might we freely offer in that moment?

Well, I wasn’t a rookie anymore. We remained silent until finally, after I had to restrain Crook twice more, she sighed deeply, ensuring it was audible to us. “I mean. I guess. You seem determined to hold anything you do for me over my head, so fine. After I struggle my way through all your daily chores at the barn, I’ll drive all the way to your house.” She added a few sniffles for good measure.

“Thank you, I really appreciate it! Please don’t forget the litter, it’s super important, Mom. K-thanks-bye!“ I was genuinely proud of Crook. I didn’t believe Effie would do litter, but I honestly thought she would handle the food and water. We added a second litter box to help delay the inevitable, but Crook would do no more. He was certain she would really do it this time.

Noon Saturday, we settled into our hotel, pleased with the pictures from our scenic drive. While unpacking, we see Effie has text us the same message. “I’m not feeling well today, I’m going to the ER. If you don’t hear from me in a few hours, something bad happened.”

Checking the time, we see the text was sent over two hours ago. Do you see the genius in this? We had to play her game. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t know if she fed our cats. She was very much willing to bail if it suited her dramatic scene.

Crook called, but got voicemail. It wouldn’t be as dramatic if she answered. She wanted him assuming the worst. He tried a text, “How are you feeling?”

Receiving no immediate response, we find a place for lunch. Assuming she would call when satisfied with suspense level, we had a lovely day shopping followed by a nice dinner. Upon returning to our hotel that evening, we had not heard from her. I feared for our cats’ well-being more than hers. The likelihood of that day being the one she wasn’t crying wolf was too minuscule for even my bad luck.

Crook begins to legitimately worry for Effie which angers me further. Her charade was terrible for many reasons, but making your son believe you might be dead was plain cruel. I did my best to reassure him but had to contact my parents. I should have called sooner, but all I could do was not waste more time.

They were understandably annoyed at the late hour, otherwise agreed without fuss. After arriving at our house, they confirmed food bowls were empty. In attempt to comfort Crook, I hypothesized Effie may have fed the cats but wanted us to wonder. Learning she truly had concocted this charade to avoid the task rather than mere attention seeking angered me most. Thankfully, my parents volunteered to assume the weekly duties, ensuring the remaining days went smoothly.

Once I knew our cats were safe and comfortable, my rage faded quickly. I realized we were truly free. For one entire week, I would have no work, cleaning, responsibilities, or contact with Effie to dread. I was so happy, I shot off one last text. “Just wanted to let you know you’re off the hook. My parents took care of the cats and will continue to do so the rest of the week.” I thought it would give me great pleasure to ignore anything she may later reply.

She didn’t wait 10 minutes before calling. I answered, putting it on speaker for Crook to hear his healthy mother. “How dare you be worried about cats when I’m dying! Neither of you care about me at all! I’m pulling onto your street right now, but I guess I’ll turn around. Thanks for making me waste a trip for nothing!”

Taking advantage of her need to inhale, I interjected “How are you driving? I thought you were in the hospital… you know, dying?”

She hung up and we had no further contact until returning home the following Sunday. Against my wishes, Crook answered. Once again she felt bad and needed help with the animals. Also against my wishes, he agreed to go when she turned on the water works.

Do you think she cleaned her own litter boxes while we were away? If you do, you’re wrong. Her cats were finally fed up, they mutinied. Piss and shit were everywhere. The walls, floors, shoes, beds, you name it – covered! Crook cleaned it all. None of the animals had food or water. I’m grateful to my parents. Had our cats been in such a position, I would probably still be in jail.

Alright! It feels good to have those condensed into one. I’ll get the final section out soon. Hopefully in time to resume my struggle in trying to get another Halloween story out before my excuse to write scary stuff is gone for a year. Thank you all, and remember, be careful out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.