Saturday, August 26, 2006

CAN I SHARE MY EVENING WITH YOU?

On Friday 25th Aug 2006
My neighbour & friend Angela & I went out to town for an
8pm start to our City Town Hall
A beautiful heritage listed building
It was the opening night of the Victorian Writers Fesival
It was a cold windy night ,we were rugged up well as we climbed onto the tram

Awards night were in 3 sections
Fiction,
Non Fiction
Poetry
Entries totalled over 400
from all countries in the world.
The majority were not happy stories

One caught my eye ,
the winner of the Poetry Prize
Jennifer Maiden -her book- "Friendly Fire"
She told of her love of Prometheus
the mythical figure who stole from the Gods
to give to humanity
She was intrigued by his assertion against the Gods on
behalf of humanity
He stole fire from them to give to mankind
to keep it alive

She writes a lot about war does Jennifer
Titles like " The Problem of Evil"
about the ethics of the war in Vietnam
" Friendly Fire" is dedicated to the children of Iraq

Jennifer works in torture and trauma rehabilitation
and says......
"Toward the end of my life I just want to write poems".
Her education goes on as she studies humanity
She has a degree in English,Geography and Economics.

I came home on the tram in a sad,depressed way and with a hopeless
feeling of the iminent death of the world as I have known it.
Of the wars and killing of not only children
but the air and the water we breath and drink to survive
She says of the children ,they will be rigid and traumatised forever..

Thank you for sharing my night out at the Writers Festival.
Lois (Muse of the Sea) 26.8.06.

Friday, August 25, 2006

WHEN THE SICKNESS IS YOUR SOUL



When Morgan Gamble was 12 he pushed a classmate over a railing when she was trying to collect leaves on a class field trip for a project. The Project was a little booklet of local native plants and the little girl- Ona Crocata, fell to her death to the rocks below the bluffs.

In the spirit of true American Justice the police talked to Darren Marks, the bad kid who lit fire crackers in the bathrooms and smoked his dad’s cigarettes during recess behind the gym, they talked to Crystal Barker who’s Father was in jail and they talked to the Simon Ledbetter, one of the Park Maintenance staff who spent his weekends at Peace Rallies at the University in Feverfew.

The Police were about to resort to using a Ouija Board if need be to talk to a few of the executed criminals who took their last breath up at the Prison in Fallen (the next town over) because that made more sense then to even think about questioning Morgan Gamble, who was not only seen walking up the path to the cliff tops with Ona, people actually saw him running down the path after Ona hit the rocks below.

Morgan Gamble played baseball and was a Boy Scout and his older brother was a first year Med Student and his high school age sister a cheerleader. His Mom’s name was Betsy and his Dad was named Skip and they had two cars and one of the biggest, newest houses built in the newest and best new town of Ransomville.

Why on Earth would you spend time talking to a boy like Morgan who came from a family like the Gambles about the Murder of a little girl with perpetually tangled hair and socks that didn’t match and clothes that her Mother bought at the Neighbors In Need Charity Shops?

In the end a lot of people thought that, so Ona Crocata’s death was ruled a suicide.

After all, it was decided what else could it have been?

The stars that filled the sky lined up for Morgan Gamble: he got to grow up and get married and have a wife and a home of his own while Ona Crocata, wrapped in a simple white sheet and dressed (the dress had actually been carefully draped and pinned around the little girls smashed and ruined body) in her Mother’s best Easter dress turned to dust and bone in her simple pine casket at the Leaning Birches Cemetery in Larkspear.

Despite the fact the Sun and the Heavens smiled down on Morgan his eyes were closed to all of it. He didn’t see it; you don’t need to have open eyes to look into yourself 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Ona Crocata eyes were always opened.

And they were always looking out.

Morgan’s wife was named Ginny and the only difference between Ginny and his Mother were their voices. Betsy Gamble talked high and fast and Ginny Leonard-Gamble talked high and ultra fast so listening to the two of them at the same time was sort of like listening to a table saw running none stop for hours on end.

Morgan didn’t care as long as that high pitched whine wasn’t heading in his direction.

Only last Monday not only did that high pitched intolerable whine head his way it ran down his throat and he almost choked on it. The Whine was magnified a hundred times over and the sound levels could only be compared to standing next to a jet when it takes off.

God, what was that noise?

Then he remembered- Monday night was The Book of The Month Club night.

On book club night Ginny and her friends sat around in their living room and talked about plot lines and drank some wine, they talked about character motivation and then they drank more wine by the time they got around to talking about what the book meant they were all blasted which was good because the only thing worse then listening his wife’s book club talk was listening to them talk sober.

At least this way they were sort of amusing.

It made up for the screaming headache Morgan got when they were around.

Morgan managed to make it from their indoor garage with minimum pain when two little words drifted up from the living room to the entrance way as he closed the living room door.

“Dog Girl”

His face turned red and he looked up and around to make sure he wasn’t the one who had said those words out loud.

Then he heard it again only much louder this time, “Dog Girl”

He followed those two words into his living room and smiled his best toothpaste ad type smile to his wife and her friends and said, “You all sound like Junior High school girls…what’s this Dog Girl talk?”

“It’s our book of the month “Ginny tried to say “it’s a ghost story.”

“About a Dog Girl? What is that some kind of New Age Hippy Chick in search of her inner animal or something?”

They all laughed like they were suppose to and Morgan preened like he was suppose to and then Mr. Good Humor Man left the room, “No really, what kind of story is it?”

Ginny saw her husband’s face turn to a cold hard mask right in front of her friends for Pete’s Sake, how could he? So she tried to focus her eyes and get serious so she could get him out of the room.

“ It’s about this little girl who was murdered, when she comes back as a ghost she doesn’t know she’s dead and when she figures it out she kills her murderer.”

“Really.” Morgan held his hand out for the book. “Why is it called Dog Girl” was she ugly or something?

Ginny shook her head and the motion almost made her get sick. “No, that’s what he called her before he shoved her over the railing…Dog Girl.”

Morgan looked at the book and on the cover was a Walnut Tree growing over the edge of a cliff. “ No one could’ve known that, what it felt like to put his hand against the small of her back and feel that little push… no one except for Dog Girl and …”

“Morgan!” Ginny shirked as Morgan quoted the book “you’ve done it, you actually read a book!”

“How does she kill him?”

“He starts to see her everywhere, at the Park, playing with his children, in the Mall. She becomes as real to him as anybody and it makes him crazy.”

“Sees her?” he asked

One of Ginny’s friends chimed in, “He sees her everywhere. So he goes out to the Cemetery to find her grave and dig her up and it’s gone. Dog Girl is gone and so are her grave and tombstone and all.”

“ So, “ a high pitched voice grated against Morgan’s brittle nerves “ he goes out to his garage closes the windows and puts rags under the doors and such and starts his car and dies from carbon monoxide poisoning.”

“And just when he thinks he’s finally free of Dog Girl he sees her through the exhaust just outside of the driver’s window and he knows just as he dies it’s only the beginning. Dog Girl is never going to leave him…ever.”

Morgan nodded and for the first time in years, maybe for the first time in his life he looked outside of himself and all he saw was Ona “Dog Girl “Crocata.

He decided it would be best if he got use to it now because he had the feeling that was all he would be looking at for a very long time.

THE 477



We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea

-The Garden of Prosperine
by Algernon Charles Swinburne


Clover Boonan takes the bus to work, she's taken the same bus..the 477 for the passed ten years. Before that it was called the "S-4" but it was the same route and much like the town of Larkspear it hadn't changed much in a very long time.

She tries to sit somewhere in the middle and she listens to tapes she recorded herself; they don’t follow any musical style or artist. They’re just sounds and voices and phrases that the Mortician likes to fill her head with before she turns the key to the Prep Room at the Funeral Home she’s worked at for over 20 years and disappears from the world of the living into the home of the dead.

When she was about 12 Clover wanted to be a writer, she wanted to write about demons and ghosts and cemeteries and the living dead. She wanted to dress in black and never smile and she wanted to live in one of those old Victorian style Mansions on Basam Hill.

Then one summer, after she turned 18 her Mother’s friend offered her a job at the Leaning Birches Cemetery in Larkspear.

Had Clover thought it was cool in those days to smile she would have.

Instead she looked up from her book (must’ve been something by Anne Rice…of course) and she shrugged, “Sure.” Was all she’d said from under her heavy black shadowed eyelids. “ I think I’d fit in there.”

That of course turned out to be so far from the truth it was a joke.

The Morticians Clover worked for were two brothers that inherited the Funeral Home from their Father.

Hunter and Calvin liked to sing Elvis and Frank Sinatra Songs while they worked, they attended every single Science Fiction Convention to come to town and they always dressed up as the bad guys from a show called “ Doctor Who”

“ You know Clover, “ Hunter suggested one day “ you’re looking a little pale around the gills. Why don’t you go out and walk through the Memorial Park? All that sun, all that white marble. That’s put some color on you really fast.” “ No thanks” Clover said from the supply cabinet where she was taking inventory.

“ Hey Clover” Calvin said with no room for debate “ why don’t you go out to the Memorial Park and do some maintenance? Rake up the leaves, clean up the dead flowers. That sort of thing. In fact, you should probably hop to it before you loose the Sun.”

Then Calvin opened a package on his desk and pulled out a little toy space ship that hoped you would live long and prosper when you pushed a little button on its underside.

He held the toy up to his brother, “ Score.” He said with awe.

Score. “ Hunter echoed back with reverence.

Clover was odd and pale and wore too much black but in the end it was got hard to be around Hunter and Calvin Larkspear and not end with some color in your life.

It took a few years but Clover made it all the way through Mortuary College, she attended Comic Book Conventions and she even got it into her head that she might start writing some day.Mysteries were her thing now and the only horror books she read anymore were true crime novels.

Over the years she couldn't read or watch a horror movie with out laughing out loud, so she have them up ages ago.

But when she put her headphones on and took that bus ride to work it was music she thought about. She loved the way the notes went together and the stories the songs told and she loved the voices, those lively colorful voices that wanted to tell you their secrets.This was the world she was in the day the lady in the gray linen shirt dress got on the bus.

The woman dropped some change into the fare box and carefully made her way down the aisle as the bus pulled away from the stop. As she walked towards Clover Boonan, something about the dress yanked out of her day dream of rock stardom and to the little black belt that circled the woman’s dress.

It looked like one that Clover use to own.

The edges of the belt were finished off with purple thread and because of that the belt had been considered flawed and she had bought it for less then dollar.And the dress…that dress looked like one of four shirt dresses her Mother had donated to the Funeral Home last winter. They had a closet full of donated clothes that they dressed Jane and John Does in. Jane and John Doe were people the County brought to Leaning Birches, which had some years back devoted at least 20 acres of the Cemetery to the surrounding cities less then fortunate citizens to be buried.
Calvin and Hunter had started the “ Closet” because the idea of burying people in sheets and plastic bothered them. “ I’ve buried Gold Fish with more dignity then this, “ Hunter had mumbled one day as he prepared John Doe 21704 for his casket.

The next day the brothers brought in some clothes and the closet grew from there.

Clover decided it was nothing, the belt and the dress weren’t unique. But the thought raced around her head all the same, “ no they’re not unique but those things are yours Clover. You know it…that’s your Mother’s dress.

The woman took a seat across the aisle from Clover and she smoothed her dress out before she sat down and Clover just knew the woman was going to look over at her and smile.

She snapped her eyes forwards and tried to concentrate on her tape where a man was growling into her ears that he could do dirty deeds for cheap.

Clover could smell the faint sweet odor of Jasmine, her Mother’s perfume. The thing of it was Clover’s Mom has worn that scent for so long she can’t smell it on herself anymore and she has a tendency to wear too much of it now.

So all of her Mother’s clothes, no matter how many times you wash or dry clean them the always smell like Jasmine Delights by Lucia.

Lots of ladies that age wore that scent, Clover told herself, lots of women that age wore that style of dress and lots of them had that hair style too. Clover did hair and makeup at the Funeral Home and of all the things she had to do that was the task that worried her the most.

“ It’s cinchy Clover,” Hunter explained on the afternoon she had finally run out of excuses for not doing hair “ it’s a pretty basic style just take the small barrel curling iron and make three curls on the top, two on each side and brush it out.”

It was called it the Granny Brush Out and even though it turned out it was an easy do Clover usually had to cheat and use bobby pins to hold the waves above the ears to hold the hair up.

Clover’s eyes shifted to her right, and of course right above the woman’s ear were two crossed bobby pins with a tiny bit of cream colored thread to hold them in place.

As the bus slowed down and pulled over to the next stop Clover hoped the woman would do what most of them did when someone got on the bus, the seated passengers looked out the window. And the Grey Lady was no exception. She turned her head too as the next passenger started towards the back of the bus and when she did Clover’s eye went to the woman collar bone.

Just under her white linen collar it was there, just like clover knew it would be because she was the one who put it there.

The little line of puckered skin held together with string.

Clover had made that incision herself and she had gently reached inside of this woman and found the artery .

And then Clover embalmed her.

She was sure of it as the woman turned and looked at Clover and smiled and when she did Clover decided she knew this woman.

Clover after all had shaped the woman’s mouth into a small smile with her own hands and she had brushed her hair and put blush on her cheeks and colored her pale lips with a soft shade of red.

The Gray Lady was a dead Lady and she was riding the bus with all of the other morning commuters like she belonged there. She fussed a little more with her dress and her hair and then she reached up and pulled the yellow cord and the bus slid to a stop.

She got up and before she could pass Clover, Clover reached out and touched her hand, still bearing traces of the power she had dusted on to give the woman’s hand’s some color. “ Where are you going? “ was all Clover could think to ask.

The Gray Lady looked down at Clover and smiled and she leaned towards Clover a little and said, “ I’m just visiting dear, just like everybody else.”

“ Just Visiting. “

Thursday, August 10, 2006

INTO AN ETERNAL NIGHT

Inspired By The Soulfood Alphabet Project:

“ D” Is For Descent Into The Underworld

http://www.dailywriting.net/Alphabet/D.html




Tory Devenish was eight years old when his Father married Cascara Pomeroy. Sixteen years later, to the day, Tory Devenish would be sitting in a pale green room eating his last meal and sitting across from him in a chair that was bolted to the floor was Cascara. She didn’t say a word. She just looked at the clock, turned her face back to Tory and smirked.

“It should be you at the end of that rope Cascara not me…it should be you.”

Cascara laughed until tears ran down her face but she didn’t make a sound.

Tory use to enjoy it when Cascara came to the house to visit. Tory would wait for his father to leave the room and then he’d whisper “I hate you Cascara” and then he’d stick out his tongue.

Sometimes he’d even try to spit at her but Cascara would look down at him and smile that dark empty smile and she never said a word.

“I told Cascara I hate her,” Tory would tell his Mother on one of her infrequent visits.

“You did?” Mara Beth asked, her eyes wide and sparkling and with a wider and even brighter smile.

“Yeah, then I did this…” Tory stuck his tongue out and shook his hips from side to side and Mara Beth laughed and swept Tory up in her arms. “You’re a silly boy Tory Devenish.”

Tory looked into his Mother’s face and that’s when the thought came to him for the very fist time. “I think Cascara is a Wicked Old Witch.”

“She’s an ugly old witch!” Mara Beth laughed in agreement.

Tory’s heart warmed and burst and his Mother’s smile flared and burned bright and golden and consumed him until there was nothing left of him at all.



It was after that visit that Tory really let Cascara have it. Cascara’s dog disappeared, her herb garden died over night and the dry soil smelled like liquid laundry detergent long after the dead plants were cleared away and Tory would mouth the word “Witch” when his Father’s back was turned and he’d screech it out at Cascara when he wasn’t home.

“Are you accusing me of being a Witch?” Cascara asked him once and Tory stuck tongue out and sang over and over again, “Cascara is a Witch, Cascara is an ugly Witch.” Cascara never got mad and she never yelled. She looked at him with her slightly crossed dark eyes and smiled at him with all of her teeth and she laughed. She laughed and laughed and she never seemed to take a breath.

Years passed and Tory went from being spiteful little boy to spiteful teenager and one day he turned into a spiteful young man with a nose ring and jet black hair with blue and gold stripes above his ears.

“You know Tory, “Cascara said on that last afternoon he would be a free man “since you came into my life I can’t remember the Sun. Isn’t that funny? It’s like I’ve been locked in a dark room since my Wedding Day.” Cascara seemed to be talking more to herself then to Tory “since I married your Father you have buried me alive in your bile and spite. Why, I’d go as far as to say you’ve killed me with your poisonous nature. I’ll bet there isn’t a court in the land that wouldn’t find you guilty of my murder.” “Now there’s a thought.”

“What?” he snorted.

“You at the end of a rope, twitching away with a hood on your head. Wow, it would almost and I mean almost makeup for the years of Hell you brought into my life.”

“You’re sick,” he said.

Cascara went to the phone and he saw her hit the speakerphone button.

A flat impersonal voice asked for the nature of the emergency and Cascara screamed, “It’s my Stepson…oh my God! He’s got a kni-“Cascara jabbed the off button and walked out of the sunroom and into the kitchen.

Tory could see her lean over the sink and when she came back into the sunroom he saw the knife in her hand.

“ Put that down you crazy old bi-“he started to say.

“You said it yourself Tory, I’m a Witch, and I’m an evil old witch. Who’d have thought that a vapid little worm like you would have noticed or cared about anything outside of himself.” “I’ll be damned.” She said with genuine surprise. “No, “she said “I take that back…you’ll be damned Tory Devenish.

Then his Stepmother pulled the knife across her neck and as the blade whispered against her flesh Cascara was looking at something behind Tory and she winked at it.

Tory spun around to see what it was that her dead eyes where taking in and he saw what she saw. It was her plastic cat clock with the tail that was supposed to move from side to side.

It was 8:25pm.

The Police collected dozens and dozens of statement that seemed to tie Tory to Cascara’s murder. After all, he had spent the past 16 years telling anyone who’d listen he wished Cascara was dead. “ He was preoccupied with Cascara,” a neighbor said “ he couldn’t stop talking about her and how much he hated her guts and he wouldn’t shut up about her being a witch.”

There was a trial and his Father died from a heart attack right before the verdict was read. Tory hadn’t his seen or spoken to his Father since the night he was arrested for Cascara’s murder. He hadn’t seen his Mother either, he hadn’t for years.

So in the end all he really had was Cascara.



Tory is waiting in the pale green room with the stainless steel table bolted to the floor and he’s eating his last meal (cheese pizza and Buffalo wings) and sitting across from him is Cascara Pomeroy.

It’s 11:30pm and the executioner is at the door Tory stands up as the door swings open and Cascara leaps to her feet and she looks back at the clock and smirks. Tory watches the clock flip back minute by minute until it reads 8:25.

Tory looks down into his plate and back up at Cascara and she starts to laugh her dark silent laugh and it descends and echoes forever into an eternal night.

Cacciatore Luna















Such a lovely, golden hunter's moon tonight - here's a little story to go with it.


"Eloise, how good of you to come - yes, just drop your coat there, it’ll be fine.

What a lovely dress. It looks like a designer label. Paul bought it for you, didn’t he? No, don’t worry about it, I know his taste. I have a wardrobe full of dresses he chose for me.

Would you like a drink? How about a Martini? Paul’s favorite - but I’m sure you must know all his little ways by now.

Yes, this is a lovely room, isn’t it? I did all the decorating. I chose everything. Paul just signed the checks. There used to be a most charming lamp over there, but it got broken. We bought it on a trip to Italy. A wonderful little shop in Florence.

What do you mean, you’re embarrassed? We’re adult women, aren’t we? Just because Paul is my husband, and your lover, there’s no need to be embarrassed.

Oh yes, I knew about you. Bless your heart, dear, I knew about all of them.

Just a moment, I have to check on dinner. Do stay for dinner. Doesn’t it smell wonderful? It’s Italian - Cacciatore.

What was that, Eloise? What do I mean by ``all of them"? Oh but, surely, you didn’t think you were the only one, did you?

There’ve been so many other women. It started on our honeymoon, he was supposed to have stayed out all night on the crap tables, and it turned out he’d been with some cigarette girl.
What did I do about it? Oh, I cried and threw things, and he swore he would never be unfaithful again. And that’s how it was, every time - I’d find out, I’d cry and throw things, and he would promise faithfully never to do it again.

Did I do that when I found about you? Yes, I did - in the last few years I had calmed down about it, you know, but this time he said he was leaving me. He never said that before. You must have had quite an effect on him, Eloise.

Would you help me set the table? Just put those napkins out for me, there’s a dear. Yes, it’s just the two of us.

Nonsense, dear, there’s nothing wrong with us having a nice meal together like civilized people. There’s so much to talk about, isn’t there? It’s very important for me to get to know you. After all, Paul fell in love with you. I don’t think he was ever in love before, even with me.

My, you’re so thin. Do you eat properly? I’ll give you an extra helping of cacciatore. Nonsense, that’s not too much. Paul likes women with a bit of meat on their bones, or so he always told me.
That’s the way, tuck in. It’s a pity we never had children, you know, I’m sure I would have made a good mother, I love to cook.

Oh - you and Paul plan to have children, do you? How nice. Eat up, there’s a dear girl. I’ll give you the recipe if you like. This is Paul's favorite dish. Cacciatore means hunter, you know - I suppose it was originally made with game, like rabbit or deer.

Paul never wanted children with me. He always told me he would make a poor father. That’s so typical of a man, isn’t it? They never know what they want.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cry. I can’t help it. I keep thinking of all those wasted years - and the lamp. I didn’t mean to break that lovely lamp. I shouldn’t have hit him with it, but it can’t be helped now.

Never mind, eat up. That’s what I always loved most about Paul, in spite of his faults.

He’s so tender. "

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

DEVILBIT LAKE

By Anita Marie Moscoso

Inspired By "B is for the Blade of Grass"

at the Soul Food Cafe:

http://www.dailywriting.net/Alphabet/B.html




Baneberry Troublefield use to live out on Down Turn Road back when Down Turn was the only road going though Feverfew County. Now days you know that Feverfew is this historical place and people come from all over the world to see Devilbit Lake because it happens to be the deepest lake that exists anywhere in the world.

To be precise Devilbit Lake is bottomless and cold and shines green no matter what color the sky above it is and it still shines at night. The last Space Shuttle that went up took pictures of it and in the picture you can see the oval shaped lake staring back up at you as green and bright as a cat’s eye in the dark.

I’ve heard that Scientists think it’s some weird kind of algae that makes the Lake glow like that, but as much as I respect science I’d have to say in this case it’s a bunch of hooey and they WISH it was algae. If it were true then that would mean that Baneberry Troublefield was wrong and that would restore order to anybody’s universe after hearing Baneberry tell his story.

Baneberry was about 10 when his family moved out to Feverfew, his Father was a Doctor and his Mom was a nurse and they both worked at the Feverfew Sanatorium. They treated patients with these incurable diseases like TB and Leprosy. Feverfew Sanatorium wasn’t a bad place you know. It was just sad and lonely and packed from the basement to the attic where the Chapel was with people who never expected to leave its walls alive and most of them didn’t.

The Patients at Feverfew spent their days in beds or in little rooms with dark hardwood floors and windows that were never opened. But all of those windows looked out on the Lake because it was suppose to help remind the patients that the world was still out there.

Most of them asked, after a while for the curtains to be drawn because they didn’t want to see the Lake anymore. One of them told Baneberry’s Mom “ Nurse Troublefield, it’s that Lake. It feels like it’s watching me. And that awful man who sits on that rock…” they’d shudder and say, “Please shut the curtains"

After awhile Nurse Troublefield hardly ever opened them anymore.

No one asked why.




One day when the ward was empty and being made ready for the next group of unfortunates to be brought up (by train in those days) she found herself idly staring out the window when she noticed the lake was perfectly still. There wasn’t a wave or a ripple or as much as a cat’s paw making it’s way across the bright green water. She reached up for the cord to pull the curtain closed and the perfectly still green lake…

Waited.

That was it, Devilbit Lake was waiting Nurse Troublefield decided, to see who would move first. Only the lake was a body of water so how could it be waiting? She knew it was true, the Lake was waiting, who would move first?

The air around her got warmer and she could feel the sweat start to run down the back of her neck, she could feel it under her arms and her mouth was dry, dry and dusty. She wanted to itch her nose in the worst way but she refused to move and just as she was about to turn away the lake shifted just a little and she reached up and pulled the cord so hard the rod came down on her head.
After that day it was War.



Nurse Troublefield made it her business to chart the Lake just like she would one of her Patients. She saw Nurse Martinez who was standing with her back to the window and talking to one of the Patients look over her shoulder several times in just a few minutes before she walked away from the window.

She watched Dr Grayford staring out the window for the longest time and when he turned around his pupils were so large that his eyes almost looked black and his skin was pale.

“ I thought I saw a man down there, sitting on the rock” Dr Grayford said “ but he wasn’t really there. I mean, “ he looked back out the window and back at Nurse Troublefield and then he walked out of the ward.

Dr Grayford rode the Corpse Train that night to the next town of Sherry and never came back to work again. Nurse Troublefield heard later that he left medicine all together and took over his family's dairy farm.

It didn’t take long for Nurse Troublefield to fill almost 400 pages in her logbook with notes concerning the affect the Lake had on the staff and the patients at Feverfew. She spent all day going over them and then she decided it was time a closer examination.



Nurse Troublefield went down to the Lake itself and stood as close as she dared to it's edge. The water was dark green at the edges and the further out towards the center it was lighter.

It was very quiet and pretty and she started to feel silly. After all, she’d let herself get worked up over water. It’s not like it had teeth or claws or could rob you at gunpoint. It was just still, quiet water.

That's when she saw the man at the edge of the Lake for the first time. He was sunning himself on a rock and fishing. His hat was pulled down over his forehead and she thought he was whistling but then she realized the sound she was hearing wasn't coming from him...it was coming from the Lake.

It hummed and echoed in on itself and the thick green water turned slowly in the center and the little spirals reached out and then were pulled back down again.

The man noticed Nurse Troublefield and stared back at her and sat there as still and as unreadable as the Lake.

Nurse Valaria Troublefield was use to that look, that emptiness, it was a death’s mask and it didn’t throw her off balance for a second. It’s a lovely day to fish, isn’t it? “ She said.

The man said nothing in reply but he didn't look away either.

“ You’re not here to catch fish though, are you?”

The man lifted his head and she could see his burned peeling lips and the dust and grime around his cheeks and mouth. He smiled and turned back towards the water.

“ My Patients at the Sanatorium up on the hill, they think the Lake is watching them, that it wants them. Some of the staff has seen things that have made them run away from their jobs and homes without a second thought.”

“ I think those are the smart ones. They’re the ones who got away. Aren’t they?”

The pole fell not with a splash into the water but with a small hollow click, and as the man stood up his movements were more spider like then human.

He turned to the Nurse and said to her, “ Come on in, the Water’s fine.”

Then he walked off the rock and was pulled down into the water and Nurse Troublefield thought of Quicksand as the water closed over the man’s head.

There wasn’t as much as a bubble, a ripple or a sound from the Lake but if it could have the Nurse was sure it would have been laughing. Worse yet, she really believed him…she really believed the water was fine and she almost followed him in.

Almost.



As the days and weeks wore on it wasn’t just the people at the Sanatorium that began to notice the Lake. Stories about the Fisherman started and he began to not only show up at the Lake’s edge he started to show up on the Feverfew Loop Highway.

People would stop to ask the old man if he needed help and he would lean into the car and tell them, “ Come on in, the Water’s fine. “ and then he would straighten up and somewhere on the car would be a watery handprint that would be visible for days no matter what you did to wipe it away.

The rest of the people he talked too just disappeared and all they ever found of them were their cars or bikes or shoes somewhere near the lake.

So the question most people ask Baneberry Troublefield is, who is the Old Man and what is his connection to the Lake? Did he die there? Is he a ghost?

Baneberry has his own theory and I’ll take his word for it.

“ That old man, he’s a Bimini Twist” He'll tell you.

“ A what?” You'll ask.

That’s a non-slip double line fisherman have to use when they go for game like big billfish. Anyway that’s what he is. He’s an honest to goodness Bimini Twist; I don’t think he’s the bait. That’s what the Lake is. That Lake, it gets your attention. But the old man…he’s what brings you in.”

“ So who’s out there fishing Baneberry?” you’ll probably laugh.

Baneberry will laugh back at you and say, “ Why don’t you go out and see for yourself, I’ve heard the Water is Fine.”

That will stop you from laughing and trust me, it will stop you from pulling your car to the side of the road to offer help to little old men with fishing poles in their hands.

I hope.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

THE UNQUIET GRAVE OF IRIS WINTERBARK



Behind the building called the school house, under the hanging tree is the Unquiet Grave of Iris Winterbark. She was supposed to have been the teacher in that little schoolhouse and the twisted rotted oak tree out back is where she was suppose to have dispatched her more unruly students by hanging…either that or she was suppose to have hung them by their heals and burned them alive.

This particular story came from a town called Deuil right here in the Olympics of Washington State…and morbid story about a demonic school teacher aside the real mystery is why, in what was considered a good sized town, there was there only one grave and no cemetery.

When Deuil was founded there were 30 families living there- and it was exactly 30 families that were to disappear from there one day.

No one could tell what day that was, or what year or if it happened slowly or all at once because nobody in the surrounding towns really had much to do with the residents of Deuil .

For the most part they were shunned because most shocking of all to the somewhat narrow of mind and narrow of spirit of their neighbors was that some of the men and women of Deuil had taken Indians and other dark skinned people as their husbands and wives.

And worst of all, no request had ever come from the Town of Deuil for a Minister to come out and visit them.

It’s very famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, and most of the stories you’ll probably come across aren’t true, but the one about Iris Winterbark is.



Iris Winterbark showed up to teach school in April, she was small and thin and nobody liked her. It wasn’t because she was strict and she kept the razor strop on her desk that she could snatch up with lighting speed that you’d never think a woman her age was capable of, no it was because of something no one could put there finger on because it wasn’t easy to notice but it preyed on your mind like a starving wolf all the same.

Iris Winterbark never seemed to take a breath and she never blinked.

She would spend her teaching days looking out at her few dozen students with disgust because they were filthy little creatures that smelled like they never bathed and she would hiss out history lessons and math lessons and spelling lessons and geography lessons.

The rest of the time her gaze and face was as slack and expressionless as a corpse’s face.

That is until some unfortunate student made a mistake. Then those flat blue eyes would suddenly spark to life and her face would crack into a smile and bang!

The strop would be in her hand and some poor slow pupil would be bleeding and Iris Winterbark would be at her desk again prim and still as a marble statue in a cemetery.

Now every class has its odd student out and in this class it was a boy named Petty Morel.

Petty had a hard time studying because he’d been sick for most of that spring and when he got well he wasn’t the same.

He’d glare at his classmates and he’d glare at his parents and he’d glare right back at Miss Winterbark hardest of all. After failing an arithmetic lesson and after writing the correct answer 500 times on the blackboard and after Miss Winterbark had administered the strop Petty stood at the front of the class and dripped blood all over the shiny wood floor and said, “ you’re just an evil old witch.”

And Miss Winterbark had said, “ There are no such things as witches Petty, but I’m very real and I would be very careful of what you said if I were you.”

“ Then you’re not a witch? “ Petty had asked as a wide beautiful smile crossed his face.

“ I most certainly am not.”

“ I’m glad to hear that Miss Winterbark, I really am.”

None of his classmates were paying attention to anything Petty and Miss Winterbark were saying. They were too busy watching the blood pool at Petty’s feet.


The next day Petty Morel walked up to Miss Winterbark’s desk after class and he asked her, “ is it true you hang people out behind the school house and they come back to life when you want them too.”

“ No it isn’t.”

“ Do you bury people alive?”

“ I most certainly do not!”

Petty almost looked disappointed, then he sighed.

Petty stood in front of Miss Winterbark’ s desk with his hands folded behind his back and was about to say something more when Miss Winterbark slammed her hand on her desk and made Petty jump about six inches off the ground. “ I have never a group of such dull slow witted children as I have in this town. And look at those nails and your hair…. dirt and leaves in your hair. My goodness, what do you children do, sleep outside with the rest of the animals?”


“ I don’t sleep outside in the open, my Parents would never let me do that Miss Winterbark. Its not safe you know.”

Then Petty watched the sun sink behind the window and he said with his sharp pointed white teeth “I’m so glad you’re not a witch Miss Winterbark, I really am. “



Petty wasn't really worried about how angry his Mother was , he could deal with her being angry. It wasn't the same this time because his Mother was furious and she shook his arm so hard it made his teeth rattle. “ Who on earth is going to clean up this mess Petty Morel? “

“ I am mother, “ he said. He around the blood spattered walls and what was left of Miss Winterbark on her desk and what was left of her under the window and over by the door and he sobbed, “This is the biggest mess I’ve ever seen in my life! It’s going to take me all night to clean up!”

“ Well, being that you already ate all I can do is deny you dessert and playtime with your friends. This is very serious Petty, do you know how hard it is to get a teacher to come out to places like this?”

“ I don’t know why we have to go to school at all, I don’t see why it matters anymore.”

“ Listen to me Petty Morel, we maybe living out in the middle of nowhere in these godforsaken mountains, but our family has been well educated since we left our home in Transylvania and I see no reason now why that should stop. Do you understand me?”

Then she handed him a shovel, gave him a good solid whack on his backside and she sent Petty out back to dig the only grave they ever really needed in the little town called Deuil.