by Anita Marie Moscoso
based on the Soul Food Cafe Chocolate Box Writing Prompt
Gianna Guzman never met Mrs. Gavets son- none of the kids who lived on 51st Pl SW Street over the past 25 years ever did
Kids like Gianna didn’t know that Mrs Gavet’s son was two days away from getting his drivers license and his first girlfriend and that he was going to get a new stereo for his birthday because two days before all this neat stuff happened to Mrs Gavet’s son-
None of those kids would remember seeing Mrs Gavet and her Mother driving away from 51st a year later just after dinner time. Mrs Gavet was wearing black and her Mother was wearing a hat with fake fruit on the brim.
And none of those kids were there, just before Easter, when Mrs Gavet’s family from Oregon showed up and cleared out her house and how everyone on the street remembered how the family wore black and how tired they looked and how slowly they moved – even the young ones- as they moved boxes from the house to the moving truck.
Right after they left a sign went up selling the house- and it read ‘ for commercial zoning ‘.
Then a few days after the ‘sold’ sign went up a wrecking crew came by and Mrs Gavet’s house was torn down and an apartment complex called ” Gavet’s Place ” went up in the lot where a light blue house with cherry trees in the front yard and a duck pond in the back yard used to be..
It really did happen that quickly.
Mrs Gavet’s disappearance was always tied to her Son’s- and it was assumed by everyone in the telling of Mrs Gavet’s story ( which was told mostly at Halloween ) that the police were probably about to arrest her when she and her mother drove off that afternoon.
So this dark story about a Mother who killed her son two days before his birthday because he yelled at her about the color of frosting on his birthday cake circulated around Chaplin Harbor for years and years until they put a new bridge up over Old Creek Road.
And down there in that rock filled gully, which was choked with dead trees and nettles they found Mrs Gavet’s Car with Mrs Gavet and her Mother and parts of them still buckled into their seats.
From what I understand they even spent some time digging around down there thinking maybe they’d find Mrs Gavet’s son.
But they didn’t find him-
not in that Gully anyway.
Mrs. Gavet’s son was suppose to be out on Old Creek Road, trying to flag people down to give him a ride home- ” It’s my birthday ” he was supposed to say to the people who stopped for him.
Then Mrs Gavet’s son would get into the back of the car and you’d drive for a little while and then you’d heard coughing coming from the backseat.
When you’d turn around there would be Mrs Gavet’s son with a knife in his chest and blood flowing from his eyes and ears and nose and he’d say, ” please get me home, it’s my birthday.”
Lots of people believed that story and why shouldn’t they?
It’s a good one and it’s a great story to tell around a campfire or when you’re driving passed a cemetery in the middle of the night and you want to make yourself and your friends laugh so that you don’t have to think about all those bodies turning to dust in their graves.
Stories are safe, even the scary ones as long as you can tell yourself they’re just stories.What happened to Mrs Gavet’s son I’m sorry to say isn’t one of those safe stories.
Two days before his birthday Mrs Gavet’s son cut through the Chaplin Harbor Junior High-school so that he could get home before his Mom did. he knew she was getting him a stereo for his birthday and he knew it was in her closet and he knew she hadn’t wrapped it yet.
Plus it was a tradition- she bought the presents and then he peeked. And then he pretended to be really, really surprised. It was a dumb game but Mrs Gavet was one of those people who never smiled or laughed without a reason and her Son took a lot of satisfaction in knowing her could get her to do both things when he wanted to.
Mrs Gavet’s son was part way across the field when he saw Donna Gamble and Cheryl Headwall tearing out of the school parking lot in Donna’s beat up silver car with the little pink feet stickers in the rear window.
Then he saw the car speed up and drive right into Mrs Green’s brand new car parked at the edge of the lot.
He was close enough now to see into the car and Donna and Cheryl weren’t hurt they were angry- Donna jumped out of the car and was shaking something from a baggie onto the grass and Cheryl was screeching about how Donna didn’t even have a license and that they had just hit a teacher’s car then they both saw Mrs Gavet’s Son standing there looking right at them.
” Hey can you come here a minute? ” Cheryl cried ” Okay? I think I’m hurt…”
So Mrs Gavet’s Son went to the passenger side of the car and looked in and Cheryl said, ” we can’t get into anymore trouble man, you know?”
Actually Mrs Gavet’s son had no idea and then Cheryl looked over his shoulder and Mrs. Gavet’s son turned around and straight into the knife in Donna Gamble’s hand.
It was that sad, and that stupid and that tragic- Mrs Gavet’s son died slowly in the back of a car that reeked like perfume and beer and vomit because two girls didn’t want to get into trouble for hitting a teacher’s parked car.
The two girls took his body and jammed it behind a huge rock that little kids liked to use as a Pirate Ship at this park that’s behind- of all places- the Chaplin Cove Police and Fire Department out there on 51st.
Gianna Guzman was one of those little kids- she was out at that rock every single day playing Pirate Ship.
Gianna was famous in the neighborhood for setting up the best games for Pirates- no one could come up with the monsters and villans and demons to fight like she could.
Pretty soon the kids that were coming to play Pirates were showing up to hear Gianna’s stories and sometimes a few adults would hang around and wonder where this kid was coming up with her wild stories that always seemed to end right here at this rock and in this park.
She’d start in a cave or graveyard or out on a battlefield with knights and and devil dogs and sooner or later all those characters would end up standing right next to you and then…
Gianna grew up she took a job in a Funeral Home and as she worked she’d tell her Pirate stories to the dead.
She probably could have writtent them down and made a ton of money off of them but that just seemed wrong to Gianna- those stories never really felt like her own so she never sold them.
To be more specific, she did sell a couple of her stories but she never cashed the checks.
As each one came through she held it up and sort of enjoyed the moment and then the words ” grave robbing ” came from nowhere and she put them in a drawer and never looked at them again.
Last winter Gianna was out at the Police Station – her friend Archer Ward had just been assigned there and just before they said goodbye Archer said, ” Hey Gianna, want to take a look at your old Pirate Ship?”
Gianna was wearing her work clothes and she almost took a pass and then she said, ” Yes I do.”
They walked out to Gianna’s Pirate Ship and of course- as it did in most conversations the story about Mrs Gavet’s Son came up and then before long there was Gianna’s Ship- covered with graffitti and surrounded by coke cans and squashed cigarettes.
Gianna put her black folder and purse on top of the rock and gave it a little pat, ” it’s still pretty great ” she said and she almost didn’t hear what Archer said next because suddenly Gianna was watching a man with a knife following a girl down a street and…
” Hey Gianna…” Archer was laughing ” Earth to Gianna…”
Gianna took her hand away from the rock and said, ” Hmmm? ”
” I said are you going to …”
Then Gianna watched in slow motion as her purse and folder slid off the rock and back towards the fence.
Archer went to reach for her things but Gianna waved him back, ” Don’t worry about it Archer I got it.”
Gianna went to the other side of her ship, leaned over and got her purse first. Then she reached for her folder and after she lifted it up she saw, tangled in weeds and grass the smooth white skullcap of Mrs Gavet’s Son.
Like I said, Mrs Gavet’s son isn’t out on Old Creek Road, and he doesn’t haunt the apartments that stand on the lot where his house used to be. He’s not out on the road asking for rides home so that he doesn’t miss his birthday party.
I think Mrs Gavet’s Son is in a place where people don’t get knives stuck in their chest for stupid reasons, I think Mrs Gavet’s Son is in a place where ghosts and monsters and every nightmare you’ve ever thought was just a story is real. I think Mrs Gavet’s Son found someone a few days after his birthday who could hear him talk about all of the things he sees now.
But I’m just a writer and it’s my job to think about things like this and wonder…and if you don’t mind I have to leave now
I think Mrs Gavet’s Son just took a seat and I have work to do…