By Anita Marie Moscoso
From The Soul Food Alphabet Project
|And if your hand or foot offend you,|
|Cut it off, lad, and be whole;|
|But play the man, stand up and end you,|
|When your sickness is your soul.|
A Shropshire Lad
When Morgan Gamble was 12 he pushed a classmate over a railing as 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.
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 her now because he had the feeling that was all he would be looking at for a very long time.