Story-making

The house, like Darnell, was all settled in for the night. Helen was in the kitchen finishing the dishes. Darnell was ready for his daily writing session. Two hours to work on the novel he’d been at for some time. The writing was going well. The monsters were gathering for the attack on the fort.

One of the dogs barked outside. Growl had a habit of doing most of the barking. The other two ignored his barks. They knew he was just showing off.

Helen brought Darnell a cup of tea. She sat it down next to his computer. Then she kissed him on the cheek. “Is it going well?”

Darnell returned from his imagination. He was a bit bothered. It was like he’d been woke from a deep sleep. He smiled, not wanting to let his emotions get the best of him. He looked up and said, “Yes. It’s going well.”

“Will you have some pages for me to read soon?”

“I think so,” he said, back in the waking world.

Growl made another bark. “That dog,” she said. “Will he ever stop?”

“When he stops,” Darnell said, “he’ll be done for.”

“Guess you’re right. Well, I’ll leave you to your story. Don’t let the monsters drag you away.”

“I won’t,” he said as she slipped away. Then he asked himself, “Just what did she mean by that?”

He began a new paragraph. The first sentence came, then a second, and soon the paragraph came to an end with the words: “The dog had stopped barking.”

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Gold Fever

The old Indian woman tried to dissuade the two men from crossing the river and going into the mountain. “There is evil up there,” she said in her native tongue.

Roscoe answered her in the Indian dialect, “We’re going, Maria.”

Delmore didn’t like what he was hearing. He didn’t like the tone he was hearing in either Roscoe’s or Maria’s voice. “What? What did she say?”

“She warned us not to go into the mountains. There’s devils up there.”

Delmore smiled and touched the gun hanging from his belt. “I ain’t afraid of no stinking devils.” Delmore was a realist, a practical man who only believed in his five senses. And he didn’t believe in no devil. Or ghosts either, for that matter. What he and Roscoe believed in was the gold.

The two men finished loading the burros and climbed on their horses.

Roscoe turned and tipped his hat and bid her farewell.

Maria looked up at him. She did not smile. “Adios,” she said. There was sorrow in her voice. She had done her best. She had given the two Americanos a warning. Like the others, they did not listen. “Miguel,” she called for her son.

A young Indian man came outside from the small store. “Si?” the son said to his mother.

“Get out the devils.”

As the weather vane turns

This one is a horror story for Halloween.

From a distance,  the ancient two-story house with its dozen rooms looked like it was a grand mansion. The image of the rows and rows of garden fooled folks. It made the old home place seem to be the best of houses. In fact, it was the worst of houses. It was haunted. It didn’t mean to be haunted but it was.

As the wind rotated the weather vane outside, it sounded like screaming coming from a distance. But the screaming was closer. It was inside the house and the screams came from the basement. That was where the old man kept the bodies of his mother, his sister, his wife, his two boys. He went on a rampage one night. At the end of the night, he was the only one left alive.

Why didn’t he get caught? When people came to the door, he shushed them away. The town nearby came to the conclusion that the family was strange and crazy and the townsfolk left them alone. That was best.

The old man went into town only rarely for supplies. He didn’t talk much, just bought his goods, then he went back to the house. It was only after six months when no one had seen him that people began wondering. Finally, the sheriff went out to check.

The old man’s corpse sat in his large chair. The chair was facing the basement door. He held an axe on his lap. On his face was a scream. Down in the basement, the policemen found the rest of the family, chopped into small pieces, their heads laid out on a table. On their faces were smiles. It was as if they had brought about the old man’s death and they were rejoicing.

Funny thing was. The wind carried no more screams.

Leave well enough alone

Windmills. Don Quixote saw windmills. He fought windmills. He lost to windmills. What would it be like to live under a windmill? It wouldn’t be quiet. Every time the wind blows there would be a constant whirling. Yet Jasmine wanted a windmill.

Chris tried to talk her out of it. Nope. There was no talking her out of it.

“Why do you want a windmill?” he asked her.

“I had a dream when I was a kid.”

“There you go. You and your dreams.”

Time and time again she brought up her dreams. When they first met, she had dreamed she was going to marry an engineer. Chris was an engineer.

They bought cars based on her dreams. They went on vacations to places that appeared in her dreams. One time they even had sex based on a dream. It was a position she saw in the dream.

Now this. They were going to spend a fortune for a house underneath a windmill. And it wasn’t even that good of a windmill. There were parts of it falling down. One blade rested vertically in the ground. It was older than the house. An older house had been torn down and replaced by the current house.

That night Chris had a dream. And it scared the hell out of him. Initially he had chalked the dream up to worry. But it came back three, four times. As long as Jasmine wanted that house, he knew the nightmares would not go away.

He told her his dreams. She just laughed. “I’m the dreamer in this family,” she said.

“Well, I’ll buy the house. But I’m not living there.”

“You have to,” Jasmine insisted. When she insisted, she usually got her way.

So Chris bought the house. That first month, no dreams for Chris. Nothing happened in the house. Then Chris began work on the windmill while Jasmine worked on the house. Chris took six months off from his job to do the work. He hired an architect, a contractor and several men to do the work as he oversaw things.

The blade stuck deep in the dirt needed to be pulled out and remounted. Chris wasn’t sure how that the blade had ended a third deep into the ground. It must have been a strong force that plunged that blade into the earth.

The architect, the contractor and Chris sat over plans for several days, discussing ways of getting that blade out. They brought out a bulldozer and mounted a chain to the blade. The blade would not move.

Jasmine came out to where the men worked. She took one look at the chain and the bulldozer. She took Chris aside. “Don’t,” she said.

“Don’t what?”

“Leave the blade alone,”

“Leave the blade alone?”

“Yes,” Jasmine said.

“But it’s got to go. Without a new blade, the windmill will not rotate properly.”

“I don’t care,” she said.

Chris went back to the others. “Okay, guys. Leave the blade be.”

The work continued on the windmill for another month. But Chris was continued to be concerned about the blades.

One morning, over coffee, Jasmine said, “My mother’s sick.”

“Is it serious?”

“I have to go and see her. The doctor says she only has weeks to live.”

“Then you should go.”

Chris watched his wife drive away. Then he went back to the windmill. The stairs and the floor were almost done. For the next three days, the work went well. Chris worked from sun-up to sunset. Each night before he went to bed, he talked to Jasmime about  the windmill, telling her of the progress he was making.

The morning of the third day, he looked at the blade in the ground. He decided the blade had to come out. The next day the contractor brought in the bulldozer and a pulley. The first time they tried, the chain snapped. The second time, the blade moved, then a second chain snapped. Finally, the third chain held and the blade gradually pulled loose.

When Jasmine had not heard from Chris for three days, she began to worry. Her phone calls were not answered. Then it hit her. He had gone ahead and pulled the blade loose.

“Oh, no,” she said. “He let them out.”

A Spooky Kind of Marriage

Ken and Kendra chose Halloween for their divorce. It made perfect sense to them. Their marriage had been one long horror story since their wedding reception. With costumes, no less. Ken’s Uncle Irving showed up at the wedding reception drunk. Later they found Kendra’s aunt, Alice, in the closet with Uncle Irving. It was not a pretty sight.

On the way to their honeymoon, the car had four flat tires all at the same time. The bed in the inn where they were staying broke during their first sexual encounter. And these were simply omens of things to come.

During the honeymoon, Ken got food poisoning, Kendra was bit by a rabid dog. While they shared a hospital room, their nurse was the spitting image of Nurse Ratched. And she behaved like her as well. It was becoming pretty obvious God did not want them to have a honeymoon.

Finally, they came home. And found that burglars had broken into their new house and trashed the place. Ken went back to work and was told to pick up his walking papers. Kendra was given her pink slip too. “Cut backs,” she was told.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Kendra’s favorite aunt, Hortense, died. At the funeral, Ken couldn’t help himself. He laughed out loud during the eulogy. Kendra pinched him hard. He had a sore spot from the pinch. His dermatologist told him it was cancer.

They started looking around for help. They went to a gypsy, Drina, and she supposedly removed the curse. Then they saw on tv that she was arrested. She was impersonating a gypsy and didn’t have a license to impersonate a gypsy. Who knew you needed a license? They went to a Catholic priest and he suggested an exorcism. Instead of delivering them from a demon, the exorcism invited more demons in.

They went to a Rabbi and he pronounced that the couple were Canaanites and worshippers of Baal. Then he said, “Let my people go.” Turns out his name was Moshe and he was practicing his lines for a new version of “The Ten Commandments”.

The procession of bad events during their marriage was like a Mardi Gras parade on steroids. After two years of broken legs, broken arms, poison ivy, legionaire’s disease, the swine flu, and poor employment prospects, they both decided they had had enough. They loved each other but enough was enough. They were not meant to be together. And they were definitely not soul mates.

They went down to the courthouse to receive their final divorce decree from the judge. They waited and waited, then they were told the judge was running late. By the end of the day, it was announced the judge had died. From food poisoning no less. As they walked out of the courthouse, the stone arch above the door pulled loose and fell, missing the two of them by six inches.

At that, Ken looked at Kendra. Kendra looked at Ken. Kendra said, “You go east, I’m going west.”

“Fine with me,” Ken agreed.

And off they went running in opposite directions.

Six months later, Kendra’s mother received a short note from her daughter. “Mom,” it began. Kendra always called her mother Mom. It seemed the right thing to do. “I arrived at the Mombai airport on April 7. And I am catching an Air India flight to Nepal. Love, Dra.”

She gave the ticket taker her ticket, crossed the boarding walkway, ducked and entered the small twin-engined air craft. She looked around for an empty seat. She saw one at the front and headed for it. She took her seat and buckled her belt. Then she looked at the man sitting next to her. It was Ken.

Later, in the day, CNN, Fox News and the other news organizations announced that an Air India plane had disappeared. The flight had last been seen flying somewhere over the Himalayas.

All one announcer could say about the ill-fated flight was this. “Let’s hope they landed in Shangri-La.”

Happy Halloween everybody.