Not Quite Alice

by Anita Marie Moscoso

Inspired by the Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt:

Not Quite Alice

vie10im392.jpg

There’s a cemetery called Kilgoar out on Dead End Lane- trust me,  that cemetery is really there and those are really the names of those places and  if you want you can go out there and take a picture of yourself standing beside the street sign that says, ” Dead End Lane”.

Lots of people do.

Most important of all, while you’re out there preserving history you’ll probably want a picture of  tree that in it’s own special way started the Kilgoar cemetery over 80 years ago.

That’s the tree where Gaddelin and Watson found the sign announcing that the “Borden’s Circus Of The Curious” would be coming to town for a special engagement.

The boys, who were 12 and 14 at the time, were amazed that anyone let alone an entire Circus would come to a little nowhere town like Manet.

Amazed but not surprised, odd things were always happening in Manet.

Odd things like those signs- they were all handwritten and they started turning up in strange places all over town.

They were turning up inside of library books, underneath canned goods at Brody’s Grocery Store, inside of linen closets and floating down  the old logging roads people stopped using in favor of the new highways that had gone in a couple of years before- that would have been back in 1926.

Watson had collected dozens of them and when he had a nice little stack he took them to school and started to put them in desks and he folded them up and put them inside of jackets and in the the Teacher’s desk

” What are you doing? ” Gaddelin asked- he had walked into the coat room and thought he saw Watson taking something out of Wendy O’Hara’s coat pocket.

Then Gaddelin saw the folded square of paper sticking out of Wendy’s coat pocket and he went over and pushed it in.

He asked his brother again, ” what are you doing Watson? ”

And Watson shrugged and said, ” I don’t know. ”

Curious, Gaddelin thought and then he let the thought go.

For a little while.

The Circus finally came to town.

Both Gaddelin and Watson felt a little foolish that they were part of the “Circus Flier Scheme” because the ” Borden Circus of  The Curious ” was like all of the other Circuses that made their way around and through those small logging towns in the Cascades.

There were rides, and lions and bears. There was a carousel and a Ferris wheel and a tents that you had pay extra to get into.

The Sideshow was exceptional both boys decided because you didn’t have to pay extra to see it.  The Conjoined Twins were walking around eating popcorn and playing ring toss like regular paying customers, there was a man who was over 7 feet tall that took in the Magic Act headlined by a woman called ” The Amazing Benandanti”  with about 40 residents from various towns in the County. Plus the Circus’  Little People were waiting in lines for the rides with everyone else.

Finally Gaddelin asked the woman who told Fortunes ( she was waiting in line for the Carousel ) ” Ma’am, what’s so Curious about this Circus ?”

The Fortune Teller held her hand out and said, ” My name is Saterlee Chapel.”

Watson reached out to take Saterlee’s hand and instead of shaking it Saterlee turned it over and glanced at it and smiled.

” I can see into the future…can’t see into the past.” Saterlee looked up and shook her head ” That has kept me back from being an honest to goodness headliner.”

” Uh-Huh” both boys said.

” Well, when we were down in Seattle I was working with my crystal ball when suddenly I see a burning wheel and a hundred hearses driving into an empty cemetery.

Now, what do you suppose that means? ”

Both boys shrugged and Saterlee Chapel Shrugged too and when the Carousel came to a stop she said, ” Curious isn’t it? ”

And both boys agreed.

They watched Saterlee choose a place for herself on the Carousel and when the music started they both turned and walked away and as they did they both decided while they were here they might as well have some fun.

Watson Kilgoar reached into his pocket for some money and instead of pulling out a handful of change he pulled out a handful of  little squares of tightly folded paper

Watson showed them to his brother.

In his hand were the fliers.

Gaddelin  Kilgoar  reached into his pocket and pulled out a little box of matches.

Then they stood by the Ferris Wheel for a very long time and watched it turn far into the evening.

Finally they got on.

You could see the flames for miles.

ephemmatch1.jpg

Based On A Real Event:

Luna Park Fire– Seattle, Washington

Luna Park Memories: Carroll Mage

History Link Essay

“In 1930, I got a job taking early morning weather observations. One morning, I was on the roof of the Federal Building on 1st and Marion, and I looked across the water and I saw a light in the sky … a flame. I saw big flames shoot up in the sky and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, Luna Park is on fire!’ I knew where it was by its location. It was the building that housed the dressing rooms and the diving boards that was on fire. This great big wooden framed building, three stories high, was on fire. ‘Oh my gosh, Luna Park is on fire.'”

Where Ninebones Cross

vieimamyoneil11.jpg 

by Anita Marie Moscoso

Inspired by The Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt:

The Play House

It’s a pale gray house set off a dusty road in a dead town called Ninebones Cross.

Of course Nine Bones had a real name and of course it’s a real town, but I’ll bet a lot of people wish it wasn’t…

Ninebones used to be called Calaway and back in 1897 when Seattle became the Gateway to Gold some of the more adventurous Stampeders would take the dark roads out of Seattle and head into the town of Calaway to ‘ increase their odds ‘ of getting rich.

The person they all went to discuss this prospect with was a woman named Calabar Felonway.

Calabar Felonway-  that’s what she was called, not Cally, not Miss Felonway, not Ma’am…she was called Calabar Felonway and she used to give advice, for a price, on how to find what your heart desired.

Of course the Stampeders all desired the same thing- and after awhile Calabar Felonway got a little short tempered with the men and women who showed up at her door by moonlight to ask for advice.” Gold ” they’d say there in Calabar Felonway’s Parlor, ” I want to find lots of gold. ”

” Of course you do ” Calabar Felonway would say in her dusty voice in her dusty Parlor by the moonlight trying to make it’s way through her dusty windows.

” You’ll  help me then. ” they’d all say.

” No, I won’t help you. What I provide here is a service, it’s a deal my friend, and there is a contract involved and a fee. So I ask you, shall we proceed? ”

” Yes. ” they’d all say with the same desperate edge to their voice and the same empty look in their eyes.

” Fine, ” Calabar would say and she’d motion for them to follow her into her kitchen and then she’d tell them to take a seat at the table

.They never sat though, they’d just stand there and say, ” I don’t want to sit , just tell me what I have to do.”

They all did what they were told. It’s funny though how they were able to do that when none of them listened.

tree1-51.gif

The cost for advice from Calabar Felonway was a bottle of rum, a fresh kill (as long as it was warm blooded and didn’t come from the Sea) and for that very small price she’d make you rich, she’d make someone fall in love with you, Calabar Felonway would give you what your heart desired.

That’s what she told Dyer Frost one late evening, and after he paid the fee she whispered into Dyer’s ear where he would find the gold and the future that was in store for him.

She threw that part in for free.

He got up and said, ” I’m going to be rich. I am going to be a very rich and happy man ”

” Yes you are. ”

Then as Dyer went back over the words Calabar Felonway had hissed into his ear he found to his horror he couldn’t remember the specifics.

The directions to the vein of gold that would make him that man he saw in his head, the happy rich man, were gone.

Next he could feel the pictures of  his wonderful future framed in pure gold being pulled- thread by golden thread- from his head. 

Before they were gone he said in terror, ” It’s going…God help me I’m losing it all.”

” Now that I have your attention I”ll tell you  how this works,” she told him. “I have to draw you a map and you have to keep it with you at all times. If you lose sight of it even for a minute you’ll forget everything. You’ll even forgot you have a map and you’ll be just like the rest of those sad desperate fools scratching in those mines for gold like those mice scratching away in my pantry over there for food.

So that’s the deal Mr Frost, you can’t lose site of my map even for a second.”

” It’s a deal,” he said.

” It’s a burden, ” she told him.But of course he didn’t hear that.

They never did.

tree1-51.gif

Dyer Frost went out to the edge of Calaway to get his map.

When Calabar Felonway had told him she’d  leave it for him hanging from the Dancing Tree where Ninebones Cross and the blood drained from his face she laughed- she laughed for a very long time and then she said ” Come now,  you didn’t think this was going to be pleasant did you?

“Dyer guessed not and as he turned to leave she said, ” Oh and by the way I’d get there before sunrise if I were you. ”

He didn’t ask why, they never did.

He did make it too the Dancing Tree before sunrise- he ran all the way which was funny because he ran straight passed his horse that was tethered right outside of Calabar Felonway’s house.

There was his map, hanging as promised from the Dancing Tree where Ninebones Cross- the same Dancing Tree where men, women and children met their deaths at the end of a rope.

The same tree where everyone in town knows nine bones buried by betrayal and treachery are caught in the roots of that twisted oak tree.

When the wind blew through the leaves of the Dancing Tree you could hear whispering- that was the story and it was true. It was enough to age a person but during Dyer Frost’s day the only visitors to the Dancing Tree weren’t exactly empathetic to the sounds of Souls in Torment.

They were to busy being consumed by their own when they reached for that map.

Dyer’s Map like all the others were inked and illustrated in a skilled hand. Dyer’s map like all the others-

were tattooed onto the backs of the dead. 

tree1-51.gif

The Party You Are Trying To Reach…

192.jpg

A few years ago someone sent me this picture because it bothered them.

I guess the idea was if they sent it on it could bother someone else and it would leave them alone…and to think this came my way before  ” The Ring ” came out.

Anyway, here it is…this LOOKS like a cat sitting in a shed in front of a table with a cat sized coffin.

It worked…I’m bothered.

Just thought I’d share that

with you.

 

The Scariest Sound You’ll Ever Hear

by anita marie moscoso

door1-7.gif

Inspired by the Soul Food Cafe Prompt

Late, Late One Night

Late, late last night, when the whole world slept
Along to the garden of dreams I crept.
And I pulled the bell of an old, old house
Where the moon dipped down like a little white mouse.

– Zora Cross

Bartsia Butcherbroom lives alone on Wormbark Road and even though Wormbark is sitting on some prime real estate up there in the Cascade Mountains  no one wants to live out there and the reason for that isn’t the road with the funny name.

The reason is Bartsia Butcherbroom.

Bartsia lives in this little stone house with no windows and as far as anyone can tell it doesn’t have a door either- little details about Bartsia’s house are sketchy at best because in the 30 plus years she’s lived on Wormbark no one has ever went looking to knock on Bartsia’s door.

Catching a glimpse of Bartsia working herb garden that grows wild at the side of her is about all anyone wants to see of  her.

If you’re unlucky by nature  you might see her sitting on her porch rocking on her porch swing.

Bartsia sits there whittling little human shaped figures with a long knife with a bone white handle from the wood she collects from around her property .

When she’s done she stands them up along the railing that runs along her porch or she tosses them into the Riversleigh Creek that runs behind her property.

When the little figures wash up along the banks in the city of  Hedon the people that find them dig little holes and push the figures in with their feet. They try to use something else other then their hands and then they go home straight home and try to forget those tiny little figures with the rows of  “X”  marks running across their little eyes.

Maybe you’ll wonder how she makes such tiny cuts with such a big knife, but if I were you I wouldn’t spend a lot of time thinking about Bartsia Butcherbroom.

Especially if you were one of those people who touched one of those little figures with your hands before you buried it- or if as you passed by her sitting on her porch as she whittled and she caught your reflection in that long blade attached to the bone white handle she carves her figures with.

If you your unfortunate enough to be in either position more then likely you’re going to start to dream of her.

Having Bartsia show up in your dreams can only mean one thing.

It means that you’re going to be out one night and that you will hear the scariest sound anyone can imagine hearing.

Trust me, there are a lot of things out there in the black night that comes from the Cascades that sound bad. People with small “X” marks running across their closed eyes and pleading as they stumble through the woods ” Please wake me up, please wake me up ” is pretty bad in itself.

But the scariest sound you ‘ll ever hear are the words, ” What was that? ”

You’ll be saying them-  and they will be the last words you’ll ever hear as you turn around and come face to face with Bartsia Butcherbroom who lives on Wormbark Road in a house with no windows or doors.

sep2.jpg

Almost There

It’s what you almost miss in this picture that caught my attention.

On the left hand side of the picture is a little kid leaning against the railing and she’s staring off into a different direction from the rest of the kids.

The funny thing is the kid is only almost there.

 It’s true:

A single picture IS worth a thousand words.

and sometimes

they’re only worth

one

 long blood curdling scream

A.M.M

Tilly Playfair Gets Ahead

by Anita Marie Moscoso

Inspired by the Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt

The Lonely Ones

435229-103a.jpg

Tilly Playfair’s Grandmother ( who lived with the Tilly and her parents ) belonged to a Senior Citizens Activity Group that use to meet every Tuesday and Thursday.

At least once a month they’d  take a three day trip to the Ocean ( during the Spring and Summer ) or to one of the ” Art Colonies ” up north passed Seattle ( during the Winter ).

Everyone in Lydia Playfair’s Senior Group had some sort of talent they’ve developed after they joined the group. They say things like, ” isn’t it a shame I didn’t have the time to do this when I was younger ” or ” I just didn’t have experience to do this kind of work before…”

After hearing that for years Tilly Playfair knew she was luckier then most people because she found her true talent when she was only 13 years old…it sort of put her head and shoulders above the rest of us.

435229-103a.jpg

It was August, it was about eight in the morning and it was already 70 degrees and climbing. Most people in the Playfair’s neighborhood were getting ready for another scorcher and they were already getting short tempered just thinking about the heat… but not Tilly.

Extreme weather didn’t bother Tilly.

Only on that Tuesday morning she did mind because Tuesday was garbage day and it was her turn to drag the trash cans to the curb.

Those three cans were heavy and everything inside of them had been ‘cooking’ over the weekend and boy did they smell.

They didn’t stink, or simply offend the nose.

Do you want to know how bad it was?

Tilly’s eyes started watering the minute she came around the corner of the house…that’s how bad it was.

With grim determination Tilly grabbed one can by it’s handle and took it to the curb. However, by the time she had come back for the third can she was cursing God and her family and every single jerk who had ever generated trash anywhere in the world.

She was so caught up in her own drama at that moment that the can tilted and juice…this brown runny water sloshed up and over the rim and onto her hand.

” My hand!” she screamed ” my hand! ” This was the hand she used to eat with and pick her nose and pet her cat and now it was covered in trash can ooze.

Tilly let go of the can and it innocently righted itself…it was just as safe and sound as ever. It would never know  the agony Tilly was feeling at that moment.

And that wasn’t right…it was unfair and unjust and Tilly decided to do something about it.

She stepped back, pulled her left shoulder forward and then she with over 7 years of soccer experience under her belt she drew her right  foot back and kicked the can over.

435229-103a.jpg

Tilly left the fallen beast on it’s side and she pushed most of the trash back into the can with a snow shovel. Then with the shovel still in the can she pushed the can upright and turned to pick up the lid.

It was gone of course.

She was about to scream…not yell but scream when she saw it under the Holly tree at the side of the yard. She went over to the tree got down on all fours and had just reached under the tree when she felt something roll and hit her hand.

Curious  she grabbed the lid and tossed it towards the curb and then she parted the lower branches and looked in.

And looking back up at her was a face with no nose.

The face didn’t have lips or ears and at first it looked like the eyes were gone but they had simply sunk back and had collapsed into the sockets.

Tilly guessed she should have hollered or fainted or run for help. If she had flown into hysterics no one would have blamed her. It was sort of like a get out of jail free card.

Only this card said, ” have the screaming willies as loud as you want ”

Instead Tilly reached out and with one finger she poked at the head and watched it roll a little from left to right.

Right then, as the severed head rolled from side to side, she named it Ernie. The she got up dusted herself off  and went into her house to start the day.

435229-103a.jpg

For the next couple of weeks Tilly stopped by the Holly tree to visit Ernie. On some days Ernie looked about the same and then all of the sudden he just sort of came apart.

Then September rolled along and it started to rain so Tilly went and found an empty paint can and a pair of gardening gloves in her garage.

She went back out to where Ernie was and she popped him into the can and with a few taps along the rim with a rock she closed him up in his new home and she took him into her house.

For awhile she kept him under her bed, then she put him into the lowest and tallest drawer in her vanity and on some days she even took him outside and put him under the Holly tree-

for old times sake.

Then one day Tilly came home from School and was surprised to find her Grandmother at home and not out with her Seniors Group doing ” art”

Instead her Grandmother and another little old lady were doing some ” Spring Cleaning” as a surprise for Tilly’s Mom.

She was going to be surprised alright considering it was October Tilly said and both the old ladies laughed at Tilly’s joke and invited her to run along unless she wanted to ‘help’.

Of course Tilly said she had homework and then on her way to her room an awful thought came to Tilly. She ran up the stairs to her bedroom, she dove towards her bed she reached under it and…

Ernie was gone.

She went to her closet and looked on the top shelf, she pulled open her vanity drawers and she even opened the top ones that were way to small for Ernie.

Then she fainted.

When Tilly tried to stand  she was so light headed she almost fainted again. All  she could do was stand there doubled up and she trying  to force herself to breathe normal when her Grandmother tapped on the door.

Tilly tried to say ” Come in ” but all she could do was wheeze.

The door swung in and there was her Grandmother looking grim and angry with the paint can in her hands. ” Next time you want one of these young lady…get your own.”

So Tilly decided to do just that.

In the end she was  famous for it.

 

aniskull1-6.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales From The Bridge

by Anita Marie Moscoso 

When I was about 14 I had this radio that was shaped like a coke bottle and I use to carry it to school with me every morning so that I could listen to this show called ” Stranger then Fiction”

The deal was you had to decide if the stories were true or made up and the tag line was, ” the truth is always stranger then fiction because fiction has to make sense. “

That’s true- I’ve learned that here on this blog.

I can make up whopper stories but they have to make sense.

Real life doesn’t have to make sense; which is why true stories like these are hard to believe.

eyes1-2.gif

About 10 years ago my husband and our three kids moved back to Mountlake Terrace. When we moved to Terrace we moved into a brand new Apartment Complex, I think there had been less then a half dozen renters in the place.

So it was new and spiffy and energy efficient.

About two weeks after we moved in I was in my bathroom brushing my teeth before bed.

It had been raining and thundering all evening, so when I started to see flashes of lighting it wasn’t exactly a surprise.

Anyway, I was looking into my bathroom mirror- I saw myself, I saw my bedroom window over my shoulder and then I saw blinding white light in the mirror and then my teeth slammed together and there was this deafening roar and all I could think was, ” I’m in trouble. ”

I wasn’t in trouble- but the tree outside my bedroom window was.

 The next day we found out it had been hit by lightning and you could see the scorch mark down one side and two of its limbs were blasted off and another was left dangling.

The kids played and tugged at the damaged tree limb until it came off. I remember them dragging it around for a while and the maintenance man broke it up and threw it away.

It was shortly after that  when the ghosts came.

eyes1-2.gif

My youngest son is a social animal.

At the age of  7 and after only a few weeks of living in our new place he knew everyone. By that I mean he knew names and who lived where and what they did and their pets names and millions of other little details.

Don’t ask me how he did it.

Then he changed.

It was a gradual change-  my son started to sleep a lot during the day,  he started getting dark circles under his eyes and when he started hiding his favorite toys around the living room I thought that maybe the move had affected him after all.

One day I was pulling his collection of Ninja Turtles from out of my bookcase (he had hidden them behind the books) when he went walking by with his skateboard under his arm and said he wanted to take a nap.

It was about 2:00 in the afternoon and enough was enough.

I asked why he was so tired and he said, ” this little boy comes into my room at night and plays with my toys and he’s keeping me awake.”

” Is that why you’re hiding your toys? ”

” Yeah. ”

 Is it working? ” I said trying to play along.

My son shrugged and went into his room and took his nap.

eyes1-2.gif

It was a little while after the toys in the bookshelf incident when my Sister came over for a visit.

My kids had insisted on a pet hamster because not only did their Mom have a cat she had pet rats and the boys decided pets shouldn’t be something only Moms got to have.

They named  their new pet Scooter.

My Sister and I were alone in the apartment- the kids, my husband and her husband were all out buying pizza.

We were in the kid’s room playing with Scooter.

We put him into one of those little balls hamsters  can run around in and I remember my cat was sitting in the doorway and I was going to push the ball with the hamster in it towards him.

My cat had been raised with my rats and he had this thing were he wouldn’t go for rats or hamsters and my Sister didn’t believe it.

So we both look up to where Wolfgang had been sitting when this little boy ran right passed the bedroom door and down the hall towards my bedroom.

” Who’s that? ” my Sister asked.

” Probably a neighbor kid. They walk in all the time. ”

I went to get the kid when my cat sort of slinked around the corner and he looked up at me and growled.

I don’t mean that cat growl- it was big and deep and his ears flattened against his head.

I went to push him out of the way with my foot and he reached forward and grabbed my ankle with his teeth. Then he started to  jerk backwards with these little snaps to his neck and the entire time he’s doing this he’s looking up at me and growling.

Then he sort of turned without letting go and tried to pull me back into my kid’s room.

My sister was yelling, I was screaming  because my cat was holding onto my ankle and the blood was starting to run and no matter what we did or how loud we yelled he wouldn’t let go.

Then his ears went back up; he let go of  my ankle and he walked out into the living room.

” There’s no one in the apartment except us…is there? ” my Sister asked.

I remember I couldn’t answer because I didn’t know.

eyes1-2.gif

I’ll leave you with this final ghost story-

Out of a dead sleep I woke up at exactly 1:45 in the morning and standing beside my bed was my Grandfather.

I was really glad to see him- it had been about 14 years since he had died. He’d missed my Wedding and my High school Graduation and a million other great things.

Now I was going to get the chance to tell him all about it and I remember trying to wake up more so that I could get my husband to wake up and meet my Grandpa.

I was surprised- but not that my Grandfather was there but that he looked so young.

He looked like he did in his late 30’s- I’d only seen pictures of him in those days and I wasn’t sure why he looked like that and not like the man I’d known.

But that was okay- all that mattered was that he was here now.

This went on for a week- I’d wake up at the same time and there he was standing by me looking happy and relaxed and pleased to see me.

At the end of the week my Grandfather’s sister passed away.

I was heartbroken- she was a great lady and she use to tell this great story about performing in a childrens choir ‘back in the day’ for Prisoners in an honest to goodness Prison.

They were singing for genuine convicted killers and robbers.

I use to ask a million questions about what it was like inside of a Prison and she was happy to tell me.

Plus she could whistle through her teeth.

She had a great life if you ask me.

Anyway, I never asked what time she died- I was sure I already knew.

 eyes1-2.gif

So there are my stories- are they true?

Did they really happen?

Don’t worry if you can’t figure it out- after all of these years I haven’t figured it out either.

amm