Bentley The Bone Picker

 

Photo: A.M. Moscoso

Photo: A.M. Moscoso

Bentley Fremont always had a bone to pick with somebody, somewhere. He was always arguing, he just couldn’t help himself.

One year a co-worker of Bentley’s kept saying that the freight elevator was making a strange sound when it stopped on the third floor- she also insisted that the safety gates on each floor looked like they were hanging funny. Maybe they should get it looked at she told Bentley.

There was no real reason to not get it looked at. The company they worked for had a service contract with a company whose only job was to work on the freight elevator. Bentley told her, even though he could see exactly what she was talking about from a couple of dozen feet away from the elevator doors that she was right.

So Bentley opened his mouth and what came out was, “I’ve worked here for twenty years,”

“Good for you Bentley, but the gates look crooked and when the car stops-“

“It’s not doing anything new Suzy.” Bentley told her “I would have noticed.”

“Maybe it’s because you’ve been looking at it for 20 years that you have not noticed anything new. Maybe it’s worked its way sideways over time.  Who cares? Let’s just get it looked at.”

He winked at her and shook his head. “Nothing is wrong with it Suzy.”

A few days later when Suzy- who refused to use the elevator to ride on- was loading some boxes onto the car and as Bentley was walking on his way to his work station Suzy told him she had called the company to come in and take a look at the elevator. She was tired of just stacking things in the elevator and then walking up after it to unload it.

Bentley laughed at her shook his head and went up to the next floor.

He made sure he was alone in the hallway and then he pulled out his cellphone and called Moore’s Elevator Service and cancelled the service call request.

 bones

It happened an hour after Bentley cancelled the work order.

Suzy was unloading the elevator when the gate broke away from it’s track and came down on the top of Suzy’s head. She bit off part of her tongue and the teeth that did not break apart in her mouth were knocked out of her head.

She lived for about an hour after the accident.

 bones

Bentley went to Suzy’s funeral.

Her coffin was pink and it was trimmed in silver, her headstone was pink granite and it was not marked with her name.

It said:

Bye For Now

“ That’s weird.” Someone said at Bentley’s shoulder as they stood at Suzy’s graveside and watched the coffin being lowered into the ground.

And Bentley said, because he could not help but to argue with anything anyone said “No it’s not.”

 bones

It was right after the funeral when Bentley was getting into his car that he had his first door problem.

He had just gotten into his car and was about to pull the door closed when it slammed shut- it slammed hard enough to shake his car. He grabbed his steering wheel and said:

“That did NOT just happen.”

Harder to argue against but still there was the the problem he had with the door at the bank.

He walked through it and it slammed shut- which is something that those automatic doors never do- they might get stuck open or closed but they don’t rattle and then slam shut. The door at Bentley’s bank did and he wasn’t all the way through when it happened.

It’s a good thing those doors were made from safety glass the paramedics said as they were checking on Bentley.

 “Actually, “Bentley said “ I think I was far enough over the threshold, that’ why it wasn’t worse.”

It was like that for Bentley for the next two weeks- doors would slam shut on his face, or just after he walked through the doorway. His car door was the worst. He had bruises on his shoulder and his hip from that door.

“ You’re having the worst luck with doors Bentley.” His neighbor said the day after he got a black eye from one of the kitchen doors which had swung open all by itself.

“ Oh, I don’t  think so.” Bentley said.

“ Uh-huh his neighbor said “ whatever Bentley. But if anyone asked me I’d say doors don’t like you very much right now.”

If you knew Bentley and  heard him argue against the killer door theory that everyone else had at the moment, you’d think Bentley was arguing because that’s we Bentley did.

The thing of it is- this time Bentley wasn’t arguing just for the sake of arguing .

The doors weren’t trying to hurt him.

Suzy was.

bones

Suzy was there the day of the funeral-standing next to his car in the dress her family had buried her in.

“ I’ve come back to get my revenge on you Bentley. I think I might just kill you. I’m thinking I’m going to like doing that an awful lot.”

Bentley stood there for a minute looking at her.

“ This is for real Bentley. I haven’t even gone to my grave yet. That’s how bad I want to get even with you.”

“ This is not for real.” Bentley told Suzy.

Suzy rolled her dead eyes up into her head and she said to herself, “ Jeeze.”

bones

So Suzy had been there for each door attack- but Bentley wouldn’t admit to himself that a ghost was trying to kill him and the Ghost’s weapon of choice were doors.

Where there was a door, there was Suzy.

She was everywhere.

Finally Suzy showed up at work , she wasn’t wearing her funeral dress. She was wearing the black t-shirt and her beat up jeans and black converse shoes with the little yellow hearts on them that she had died in. She was drinking pop from red plastic cup and Bentley could even hear the ice crackling inside of it.

“ I’ve been here all morning Bentley and do you know what? There’s still something wrong with that elevator. It’s making the same sound that I heard  just before the gate crashed on my head. I don’t think they fixed it.”

“ Yes they did.” Bentley told her.

“ Couldn’t have.”

“ They fixed the gate.” Bentley told Suzy’s ghost.

“ But Bentley I said there was something wrong with the elevator. That’s why the gate was busted.  I think something was wrong with the car. You know that.”

“ Nothing is wrong with the elevator Suzy.”

“ If you say so.”

Bentley lifted the gate and stepped onto the elevator.

“ The elevator is working just fine Suzy, so why don’t you crawl into your grave and make the worms happy.”

” ‘kay.” she told Bentley.

He waved.

She waved back and as the elevator car went up Suzy’s ghost said, ” come on come on….”

The car clanked and hummed up to the third floor and just before the brakes caught hold Suzy saw the safety gates in front of her shake and then she hear something snap from above and the freight elevator car with a very surprised looking Bentley flashed by her.

” See you Bentley!” she called down the elevator shaft.

Suzy put her ear to the gate and smiled.

This time there was no argument from Bentley.

None at all.

Photo: A. M. Moscoso

Photo: A. M. Moscoso

One Night

One Night

I set out on a trip all by myself.

I did not have a map or a ticket I did not know where I was going.

I went alone.

And I stayed alone.

For awhile.

Towards the end of the trip I heard someone coming towards me-

And then I heard someone breathing

just around the corner from where I was was walking

all alone.

And then I stopped.

” Someone there? “

I asked.

No one answered.

” Hey!  Is someone there? ” I called a little louder.

The breathing stopped and the footsteps came towards me

from around the corner.

I closed my eyes tight and put one foot in front of the other and then I flew towards the breathing and the footsteps and the voices that cried out:

” What the hell was that? ” came the voice from behind me and then below me as I took to the darkness above

” What the Hell was that! “

faces-2

Lost and Found

He had a scar on the back of his hand, it was “u” shaped and bone white and it itched whenever he sneezed. Bram Listerfield , who sneezed when he was scared, or angry or laughed  was always scratching the “ U” shaped scar on the back of his hand, he did it so often that he didn’t even realize he was doing it anymore.

And then one day he was at the Magnolia Mall trying to return  a radio that had only worked for about five minutes and cost him fifty dollars.

“ Look, “ he told the salesman “ I could have made a long distance phone call to a Country overseas  and talked for 5 minutes and it would have cost me less. Give me a break here, this thing was expensive.”

“ Well… you don’t have a receipt but give me a second. Let me see what I can do.”

The salesman took off and Bram was left at the counter  fretting over his lost money and the thought of getting another lemon of a radio in exchange when he looked down and expected to see his left hand working the scar on the back of his right hand.

His left hand was on the counter, and his right hand was next to it.

He picked his hand up and looked at the scar- it was bone white and the little red patch that his scratching caused wasn’t there.

Strange.

Bram turned his hand over, looked at his palm and turned it back over and looked at the scar and that’s when he noticed it for the first time- his fingers- they looked a little longer and thinner than the ones on his left hand.

He thought about this for a minute and wondered if maybe his left hand was swollen- he held his hands up side by side and shrugged. Maybe it was an old age thing he thought.

Then the salesman came out from the back room with a smile on his face and Bram figured he was going to get his money back forgot all about the hand thing until a week later.

There was a storm that night- one of those ongoing thunder and lightning storms that don’t happen very often in Seattle- storms in Seattle roll in and then break apart but this time it went on for hours and Bram who hated lightning storms ever since he had been electrocuted at work many years ago was stressed and ready for this act of nature to clear up realized his scar- which should have been surrounded by a welt from all the scratching Bram assumed he had been doing since the first crackle of lighting was

Bone white and the flesh around it a nice healthy pink.

Bram went into his bathroom, flicked the light switch on and held his hand up  and looked at it- just as he thought- there was something different about his hand.

The fingers on his right hand were longer, the nails neatly trimmed and the flesh on his hand was tanned.

He held his left hand up, his pale worn out hand and smiled at it- that was a hand that had built model airplanes in his youth  and had been worked harder when his right arm had been broken when he was sixteen.

He looked at his right hand and he knew for sure- no he was positive- that  pampered , coddled right hand with the Florida tan on it- and no “ U “ shaped bone what scar

That was not his hand.

So he wondered, as he flexed it and watched as the imposter hand responded to the message from Bram’s brain just a tad bit too slow – where was his own hand?

Now there’s a question not to many people have found themselves asking Bram thought to himself.

 dancing skeletons

Bram tried to not do anything to draw attention to his right ( Ha!) hand.

He was afraid people would begin to notice, that they may ask questions, worse what if they thought he was some kind of freak? Because not only was this hand not his but one morning Bram woke up to find his left eye had been taken.

It was the same color, but it looked brighter than his right, younger maybe.

He sat on hard on the edge of his bathtub and screamed into his left hand because he wouldn’t put the right one anywhere near his body if he could help it. When he was finished he brushed his teeth, got dressed and went out to look for missing hand and his eye.

 dancing skeletons

It took a month but he found his hand  on a man at the train station.

Bram, who never liked the idea of trains or train stations for no real reason,  thought on the day he was reunited with his hand that it would be a great idea to walk through the one down the street from where he caught his bus home.

He was halfway across the lobby when he saw the man, sitting on a bench and hanging at his side was Bram’s hand.

Bram didn’t know what to say.

He walked up to the man, cleared his throat and said “ I think you have something of mine.”

The man looked up at Bram and then he looked at Bram’s right arm and his eyes traveled down to Bram’s hand. “Well. That was easy…this time.”

 dancing skeletons

The two men sat side by side on a bench in the middle of the Prefontaine Station and watched commuters and travelers running and walking to and from their gates. Some were smiling others were frowning and some of them wore dull flat blank expressions on their faces.

“ So what do you mean…it was easy this time?” Bram asked Jed- Jed being the man who now had Bram’s hand attached to his wrist.

“ About a month ago I was shaving and I noticed my ear- it was sitting wrong on the side of my head. It was bigger to. It took me a few days to figure it out. And then I got it, it wasn’t my ear. “ Jed touched his left ear. “ I mean, it was a shock you know? I’ve heard of people getting their kidney’s stolen and the like. But who the heck steals an ear and replaces it with another one ? Aliens? Psycho Doctors? Who? Can you answer me that?”

Bram shook his head.

“ So the short version is this- I was at a ball game and I’m going to my car when I see this guy, and he’s got my ear stuck to his head like it was no big thing. I mean, he didn’t look like he woke up one morning and found his ear missing. Come on, it freaked you out when you noticed your hand was gone, didn’t it?”

“ I’ll say.”

“ Well, I follow the guy to his house and the next day I come back as he’s leaving for work and I try to talk to him. He was in complete denial of course. I figure the shock was too much for him. I couldn’t reason with him. I couldn’t even get a word in edgewise. So I took matters into my own hands. If you get what I’m saying.”

“ I think I do.” Bram said.

“ Hey. It was my ear. MINE.”

Bram nodded. “ I’d say you handled it pretty good Jed. “

They both looked at each other and then they started to laugh.

 dancing skeletons

It had been one of those home improvement accidents Bram and Jed told the Police and the Doctors, sure it looked weird- both of them getting their hands cut off on that table saw in Jed’s basement like that. But they had both watched the same show about making bookshelves and it had looked so easy.

They were sticking to Ikea Furniture  from now on they promised.

 dancing skeletons

So Bram figured he could live with that imposter eye in his head after going through all the physical therapy and the endless questions about the saw and Jed and the both of them cutting their hands off but then one morning as he was walking out to his car he stepped out of his shoe.

He looked down at the foot in his black sock, he went back and stepped into his shoe and then he got into his car and instead of driving to work he drove straight to the hardware store.

carving

Something About Opal Fotherby

ghost02 

Opal Fotherby couldn’t believe she was afraid of ghosts and doors that opened and shut by themselves and pale skinned people who wore black and only came out at night and smelled liked the mildew that grew on the walls in her basement

She couldn’t believe she was intimated by just the thought of traveling down unmarked roads that ran through and around abandoned towns and that she was terrified of wandering through dark rooms in abandoned houses.

She never told anyone she lived alone with three black cats and that wasn’t any food in her kitchen- she didn’t even have water or electricity in her small apartment.

It has been years and years

since

 she has

breathed

a

word

 to anyone.

Wax Teeth

vintage3

” Do you have Wax Teeth? ” the old man asked the cashier at the Halloween Megamart.

” Excuse me?” she asked as she touched her fingers to her lips.

That was the problem with working in a Halloween store- you had to dress up every single day and sometimes you forgot about the devil’s horns on your head or the pirate patch over your eye.

” Wax teeth, the ones that look like Vampire teeth. I’ve been instructed not to buy the was Ghoul teeth or the Ogre teeth, but specifically the Wax Vampire Teeth- the edible ones.”

” The edible ones. “

” Yes, the edible ones- mind you,  not the bubblegum ones, not the peppermint flavored ones but the Wax ones that you can chew into a wax ball the size of Barbie Doll’s head.”

” We don’t have those, I mean I think we sold them a long time ago. But now you can mold your own fangs and re-use them…like false teeth.”

” False fangs?” the Old Man said to himself.

” And then we have the hard candy fangs and glow in the dark teeth…”

” but not the wax ones…”

” Nope, we don’t have anything that will leave you with a mouth full of something the size of a doll’s head.”

” Well. I can’t say I’m disappointed to hear that. So let me see…” he opened his jacket and took a list from out of his front pocket ” what else I’m supposed to ask about. Oh here we go. Do you have Witch’s Costumes?”

” Sir, we have nothing but Witch’s costumes. ” she pointed to the wall behind her and the old man leaned forward and started to read the labels on the packages.

” Kissy Witch, Glamor Witch, Sassy Witch…my goodness. Are all of the costumes cut low…you know in the front?”

” Pretty much.”

” I see I see I see. Heavens. Well let’s hope we have a little more luck with with this one.”

He took a deep breath,  looked up from his list and winced. ” Werewolf  masks? “

” I think you’re in luck. On that wall in the back of the store we have Pirate Werewolves, London Werewolf, Psycho Werewolf and I think we still  have some Werewolf Wench masks- that one is popular with women. It comes with the Werewolf Wench costume.”

” You don’t say.”

” It looks great with boots or heels.”

” Well. I guess that’s the fashion now days-Sassy Witches and  Pirate Werewolves and the like.”

” Yep. It’s been that way for a while.”

” So if one wants to fit in during the festivities that’s the way to go.”

” Yeah.”

The old man shrugged. ” Well. That is the idea. Let have two sets of Vampire teeth-the ones you can make yourself and the glow in dark ones, let’s go with the Sassy Witch, The London Werewolf and if you have anything that could help me look like a Mad Scientist I think this could work.”

The cashier neatly stacked the costumes on the counter between them decorated with bats and palm sized walking brains. After she did that she went over to the accessories wall and started to pull little packages off the pegs and as she did that she mentioned different Halloween Parties that were opened to the public. They were family events she mentioned guessing that’s who he was buying all this stuff for.

She saw the Old Man writing something down in a little notebook with an actual pencil and she told him she had flyers and would put them into the bags. That way he could take his time chosing which ones to go.

 She bagged each costume seperately and when she was finished Old Man that there were no refunds on the costumes.

” You’ve been very helpful, ” he told her as he took his packages.

” Well you’re welcome and have a Happy Halloween.”

” Yes, well…here’s to hoping.”

He walked out of the store, down the street and turned the corner and waiting for him  at a bus stop was a tall thin man, a woman with long black hair and sitting on a bright green bench was another man with mismatched eyes-one was icy blue and the other was dark brown.

” How did you do?” the woman asked.

” I think this should do it. I think these will work. “

He handed them each a bag with dancing pumpkins on the front.

The man on the bench looked into his bag and looked up. ” London Werewolf.” he said

” It was either that or something called Psycho Werewolf. It came with a knife. Please, please don’t ask me why Marley.”

The thin man reached into his bag and took out the glow in the dark teeth and he asked, ” this is what Vampires wear now days?”

” I got expert advice in the matter Lorne.”

” Sassy Witch.” the woman said.

” I know Hester.”

” Sassy. Witch.” she said with her eyes closed.

” I know.” The old man said sorrowfully.

” Well.” said London Werewolf ” I’m willing to give it a try.

Lorne opened his mouth and his glow in the dark teeth smiled at them.

” Sassy. Witch.” Hester said again.

” Look. I’m a Mad Scientist. How amusing is that?” he asked the three of them as he reached into his bag and pulled out a little jar full of eyes bobbing in red liquid.

” Well. As long as we fit in that’s all that matters. ” Sassy mumbled darkly. “For one stupid night. I hate candy corn. Do you guys know that?”

The Mad Scientist ignored the dark cloud that was forming around Sassy’s head.

Marley pulled the Werewolf mask out of the bag and held it up and sighed. ” It’s a little obvious, isn’t it? I mean put this on and they can see you coming from a mile away.”

” What difference does it make Marley?” Hester asked ” We were bad at this the first time around. In fact at the end of the day we ended up becoming laughing stocks. Look at this stuff, will you? I mean really look at it.”

Hester grabbed Lorne’s bag turned it upside down and a black cape and pair of blue spectacles fell out and landed on the green bench. She put her hands on her hips and looked at her friends. ” Go on. Say something.”

” We were losers” Lorne sighed.

” Keep it coming guys.”

Marley shrugged, ” We never got into a fight we could win.”

Hester tapped the side of her nose and pointed at Marley”s crestfallen face.

” Stop this Hester.”

Hester looked at the old man and said one word. ” Benji.”

” Not Benjamin, but just…Benji.” she sneered.

” You are cruel Hester.” Marley said.

” No Marley. I am a Witch. And may I remind you, if it weren’t for me none of us would be here right now.”

The three of them looked at her and she shrugged.

” Let me refresh your memories which may be a little foggy. In case the three of you have forgotten we weren’t very good at doing the things we were supposed to do. In fact, I’d go as far as to say we were absolute failures in our given fields. I mean if I hear ‘ hung from your neck until you are dead’ one more time I am seriously going to lose what is left of my last nerve.”

” I got staked to the ground…” Lorne whispered ” my best friend thought he was doing me a favor by releasing my soul.”

” Shot.” Marley sadly said more to himself then anyone else ” by my own Father.”

” Burned in my lab…” Benji shook his head ” It wasn’t the greatest work but it was all I had after losing my family- they died during the Plague you know. I worked for years to bring them back…but like you said Hester. We were failures in our given fields.”

Hester looked at her friends and realized she had done what the experts had been trying to do for centuries. She with just a few words had killed what was left of her friends great though somewhat dark Spirits.

” Yeah well, it was bad. Like you’ve been saying for almost a month now Benji it’s only for one night. I mean one night where we can actually enjoy being who we are”

Hester looked down at the ground below her feet and kept them there.

” You would actually go along with this. ” Lorne asked her.

” Well.” she mumbled in reply. ” For one  night.. I guess it wouldn’t kill me.”

Marley  held the mask up to his own face and said with a little lift in his voice, ” London Werewolf.”

” Psycho Wolf…don’t forget. There’s such a thing as a  Pyscho Werewolf now.” Lorne said with admiration.

” Well  hey now. ” Marley said ” Look at this” he said tapping the coffin-shaped box in Lorne’s hand that held the fang making kit. “Wow. People make fangs on purpose now. Back in the old days having a set of those in your mouth could get your head chopped off”

” I suppose after all we’ve been through ” Benji said ” we’ve earned one night of fun .”

” I suppose- but these costumes Benji.” Hester argued.

“But Hes. London Werewolf..”

” You’re from Girvin Marley.”

” Yeah.” Lorne said, ” Yeah that’s true but this stuff is….”

” Freaking awesome.” Marely roared as he pulled the mask onto his head. ” I’m doing it. I am going for it. Hester you can either be yourself or you can be a little more and have some fun doing it. Come on. It’s just for one night. Let’s do it.”

” Be ourselves for one night.” she let the words swirl around her for a moment and she looked at her friends and told them, ” Okay I’m in. And who knows? “

They looked at her and she was relieved to see their eyes starting to burn a little brighter as the Sun started to fade and the stars started to shine,

 ” If we can blend in for one night, we may consider blending back into all of the others.”

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….