I’m Pretty Sure You Don’t Want To Do That

Buffalo Nickel
Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?



About 17 years ago I lost 50.00.

I was shopping and I’m pretty sure that when I reached into my unorganized purse and pulled out my unorganized wallet the 50.00 dropped out.

Do you know what really made me mad?

It wasn’t that I lost the  50.00- though that did sting. No. What really made me mad was that some lucky ducky found 50.00.

I have never looked down and found anything larger then a penny.

That’s what really made me mad- in my life I have never been that lucky but on that day I sure as Hell made sure somebody else was.

So ever since that black marked day I don’t carry cash.

I use my debit card.

And here’s the reason why.

When I was in high school I went to church with my friend.

Her Church was one of those people speaking in tongues and writhing in the aisles with snakes kind of church.

It was better then any horror movie because  the feeling in that church was dark and oppressive and if something would have reached up through the floor  in an explosion of brick and mortar  and faded plum colored carpeting and pulled us down  one by one and  kicking and screaming and dripping entrails all the way through the gates of Hell..I wouldn’t have been surprised

But on that day they were going on about people being marked with numbers- specifically credit card numbers.

That was how Satan was going to mark us…so whatever you do, don’t get one of those cards.

No problem. I was like 17 at the time. I didn’t see myself to ever be in a position to be ‘marked by Satan’.

It was shortly after I lost that money and made someone else very lucky I remembered that day in the Church- how we would be marked and cursed and turned into Demons doing the Devil’s work for all of eternity  if we got numbered.

Oh really? I thought. Is that how it works? Because I was tired of being the softie who gave in ( most of the time m)  with just about everyone in my life…my kids, my job, holding the doors open for people, and now apparently I am throwing money around like confetti at a New Years Eve Party.

I dug through my desk drawer, found my Debit card, activated it and since then I haven’t carried cash. I’ll be damned ( literally ) if I ever make someone’s day like that again.

I must say though:

When I pull that card out I feel wicked.

Very wicked.

And it feels….good.


My Favorie Part Of The Turkey ( is the skin )

I asked my Sister  if she wanted me to give her a hand this around the kitchen this



She said no.


Who couldn’t  use an extra set of hands when  making a big meal.

So I called her again and said I would love to bake some cookies…how did that sound?

Great she says.

Wonderful I tell her.

I just love to make Gingerbread Cookies I reminded her.

She asked me if I wouldn’t mind making them with heads this time.

I always make them with heads I laughed.

Attaching the gingerbread heads to the gingerbread bodies would be a nice touch she says-and  it would be something new for me, wouldn’t that be nice she asked.

Sure, I think I could really ENJOY baking boring cookies.

So this morning I sent my Sister an e-mail.

I asked if I was still banned from carving the Turkey.

Damn straight, was her speedy reply.


I tell one silly story about a dissection class I  took while carving the Christmas Turkey and I get forced to use plastic SPOONS for the rest of my freaking life at family holiday meals.

Some people have NO sense of humor.



There must be something I could bring to dinner I said to my sister in a phone call this evening

 that would not make

 the people in our family think about things without a pulse and smelling like formaldehyde.

 Not a chance says my Sister says after a very long pause.


I don’t know what your Thanksgiving will be like this year, but apparently


will be dining with a bunch of weirdos.


 What can I say


I hope your

Thanksgiving is as interesting and fun

as mine.



Enduring Bones


by A.E. Housman

(A Shropshire Lad was originally published in 1896. This Web edition is based on the 1908 edition printed by Ballantyne, Hanson, & Co.)


When I meet the morning beam,
Or lay me down at night to dream,
I hear my bones within me say,
“Another night, another day. 

autopsy room


“When shall this slough of sense be cast,
This dust of thoughts be laid at last,
The man of flesh and soul be slain
And the man of bone remain?
“This tongue that talks, these lungs that shout,
These thews that hustle us about,
This brain that fills the skull with schemes,
And its humming hive of dreams,–medical class
 “These to-day are proud in power And lord it in their little hour:
The immortal bones obey control
Of dying flesh and dying soul.dissection class
 “‘Tis long till eve and morn are gone:
Slow the endless night comes on,
And late to fulness grows the birth
That shall last as long as earth.
 bike skeleton
“Wanderers eastward, wanderers west,
Know you why you cannot rest?
‘Tis that every mother’s son
Travails with a skeleton.
victorian post mortem photography 06 
“Lie down in the bed of dust;
Bear the fruit that bear you must;
Bring the eternal seed to light,
And morn is all the same as night.
anatomy class4 
“Rest you so from trouble sore,
Fear the heat o’ the sun no more,
Nor the snowing winter wild,
Now you labour not with child.
dissection class 2
“Empty vessel, garment cast,
We that wore you long shall last.
–Another night, another day.”
So my bones within me say.  
medical class2
Therefore they shall do my will
To-day while I am master still,
And flesh and soul, now both are strong,
Shall hale the sullen slaves along,
Before this fire of sense decay,
This smoke of thought blow clean away,
And leave with ancient night alone
The stedfast and enduring bone.

Mad Love

A Macabre Tale of Love

Photograph(s) copyright Shaun O’Boyle

Jim and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital. One day while they  were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Jim suddenly jumped into the deep end. He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there. Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled Jim out.

 When the Head Nurse Director became aware of Edna’s heroic act, she immediately ordered her to be discharged from the hospital, as she now considered her to be mentally stable. When she went to tell Edna the news she said, “Edna, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you’re being discharged, since you were able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the life of another patient, I have concluded that your act displays sound mindedness. The bad news is, Jim, the patient you saved, hung himself in the bathroom with his bathrobe belt right after you
saved him. I am so sorry, but he’s dead.”

Edna replied, “He didn’t hang himself, I put him there to dry. How soon can I go home?”

Photograph(s) copyright Shaun O’Boyle


Tree Shadow, © Copyright 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater 

In the woods of old poetry
I find lost moments of clarity,
fragments of unabashed emotion.

New lightfall on the thicket
obscures the darkness of self-destruction;
mitigates what only I remember.

Clean verse and clean hands:
meticulously sculpted stories
contain the broken nut of my shell.

Bristlecone-memory is a curse
and a companion.  Its branches
scrape the shadows without compassion.

With compass and cutlass
I inch through the forest:
leaves whisper ugliness and truth in one breath.

Now I gust past rage to finger twigs of wit,
lilt through old poems like prayer:
barely spoken, barely there.

Prostrate in duff, I crack apart the pages,
cast each to the fire as a voice to the wind —
watch the flames finally have their way.

© 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

Fire Snake, © Copyright 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

*     *     *     *     *

Thanks to Anita Marie Moscoso for once again generously sharing her audience here at Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge.  I always welcome constructive feedback on my writing.  To learn more about my work, or to contact me via email, please visit me at Brainripples.

Mark Of The Penny Snatchers

“Mark Of The Penny Snatchers”


dedicated to my husband


December 25, 2008

and to his friends



Class of 68

Dubuque, Iowa

who inspired this tale.

” So you finally get to go on vacation, ” Chesa Appleway’s friend said to her at lunch. ” I can’t believe it. You on vacation. So. Where are you guys going?”

” To Seattle. ” Chesa said into her plate of Chilli-Fries.

” Well. That sounds nice ” Vicky said wondering why Chesa looked like she was going to Seattle for a funeral as opposed to Seattle which was at least six  States  away from work. ” Is it for a special occasion or …” Vicky snuck another look at the expression on Chesa’s face and thought- God, it has to be bad. but maybe it wasn’t so she asked, “I know you’re going to see that volcano- Mount Helen, right?”

” Mount Helen…geeze Vic is that all  you ever think about? It’s called Mount Saint Helens and we won’t be doing anything fun like walking up and down the side of a live volcano on this trip.”

” Oh no. ” Vicky could have pinched herself for being so dumb, of course it was for a Funeral or something like that- Chesa and Norbert never took vacations – Chesa and Norbert owned the biggest, the most well known Coffin making company in the United States. Those two were always working and if they weren’t working they were thinking about working.

” So why the trip? ” Vicky asked quietly, gently.

” It’s Norbert’s 40 year High-school Reunion.”

Both women looked at each other for a minute and then burst into tears.

” Oh God. I’m sorry Chesa. ” Vicky gave her friend’s sagging shoulders a hug. ” I am so sorry.”

Later, Chesa had to admit that the four days in Seattle weren’t her worst days, maybe not the best but they were far from being the worst.

Most of Norbert’s classmates enjoyed telling her stories about the Norbert they used to know and in turn they seemed happy to hear Chesa’s stories which more or less confirmed that Norbert  was indeed still Norbert.

Norbert still liked to read History books for fun, he still sang in a rock band on the weekends and he still drove to slow on the freeways- which meant he still got pulled over a lot because nothing looks more suspicious to a Cop then a sports car going under the speed limit on the freeway.

That wasn’t a huge problem because the one thing you could count on was that the roads Norbert drove on were going to empty because Norbert hated to drive in heavy traffic.

” Good old Norbert ” they said separately and together ” he’s still the same good old Norbert. “

So it was the night of dinner / dance down at waterfront when Chesa, Norbert and some of his friends stopped into a tourist shop that featured a Mummy, a collection of shrunken heads and a machine that flattened pennies that Chesa really did learn something new about Norbert- something that she never thought he would do.

Norbert was a member of a secret club.

 Chesa learned about the Club just after she and Norbert and some of his friends were all looking at the Shrunken Heads collection together. Chesa moved down to take a look at a two headed calf  and when she turned around a few minutes later she saw Norbert, Mark, Keith, Tony and Darren standing there in front of the Penny Flattening  Machine looking slightly embarrassed and a little guilty.

Norbert said, ” well if we had used this thing it would have saved us a lot of trouble.”

” What do you mean? ” Chesa asked.

” I mean, ” Norbert held his right hand up ” I could have been a Piano player AND a singer.

” What do pennies have to do with you not having the tops of two of your fingers?”

Darren looked around and said almost in a whisper, ” we were part of a secret Society called  ‘The Penny Snatchers’ “

” You lost your fingers stealing pennies Norbert ? Good. That was stupid. If you were going to steal money you should have at least gone for nickles. Maybe even…dimes.”

” No- ” Keith took her by her elbow and leaned down and whispered into her ear, ” we used to go down to the tracks on King Street and put pennies under the trains wheels while the trains were parked and right after they flattened them we’d snatch them off the tracks before the next set of wheels came along. They cars were moving slow at that point. Most of the time.”

” That.Is.The. Dumbest. Thing. That. Anyone.Has. Ever. Done.”

” Yeah. Well, we were kids. We were eight years old when we started  The Club. We cared more about that then being in the Boy Scouts even” Darren said as he started to go through the change in his pocket.

” Why on Earth did you do that?”

”  For the dare” Norbert said defensively “and we collected flattened pennies. Those things were valuable.”

 Invaluable ” The Penny Snatchers said all at once.

And then they heartily agreed at the tops of their  lungs with each other and just in time remembered to lower their voices. Fifty years may have gone by since the first official meeting of the Penny Snatchers, but from the looks on their faces it could have been two hours ago.

Chesa rolled her eyes upwards at the comments that followed about bravery it took to be a Penny Snatcher and the cool comics and candy you could trade your flattened pennies for. And as Chesa looked down and considered what to say to that she noticed that Norbert wasn’t the only one of the Penny Snatchers with missing fingers.

” Whose stupid idea was this penny snatching thing? “

Mark raised his hand and smiled. “Guilty.”

Norbert and the other guys – who had indeed bought some flattened pennies from the Machine started to walk towards the front of the store.

Chesa and Mark were left standing alone by the Penny Flattening Machine and a shelf full of soaps set with scorpions and leeches- plastic ones Chesa guessed.

” For real, this was all about collecting flattened pennies?” Chesa demanded.

 Mark held his hands up in mock self defense and Chesa saw he still had all of  his fingers still attached to his hand,  ” I wasn’t there to collect pennies.”


Photo by bledpub

Photo by bledpub

Deveal Pelham’s house is the oldest, strangest house in a little town nobody goes too and that nobody has come from for many years.

If you were to come across Deavel’s house on a drive one evening,  you might wonder if white house  with the peeling paint and the yellowed lace curtains in some of the windows and torn blinds in the others was lived in. If you saw the rusted wind chimes hanging on the porch just left of the leaf filled wicker chair you’d guess it had been abandoned for a very long time.

But as you drove on by- you might slow down a little- then you would probably see that the mailbox was new and the house address was legible and the red flag was up and in the orange box just under the mailbox you would probably see that day’s newspaper.

And the feeling that you would get from these little images that would tell you the house is alive- that someone was actually living in it- would be the same feeling as finding a pulse in an embalmed corpse.

And as you drive away from the house  you might notice that in two of the windows on the top floor were turning red, just the faintest shade of red

and you would know that glow was coming from the inside of the house.

Don’t worry if you felt like a fool, if days later that house was turning up in your dreams and maybe you started to notice other houses like it eventually the feeling  and the dreams will pass.

It wasn’t like that for the people who lived In Cedar Valley.

At first the people who lived in Cedar Valley just took it for granted that every town had an odd duck swimming in it’s pond and it just happened that in their case that duck was Deveal.

Deveal would drive into town and buy groceries that he would carelessly toss into the back of his rusted truck and he would sometimes stop into the post office/drugstore for ‘No Pest Strips” that he would carefully place on his dashboard for the drive home and sometimes he would even buy a hamburger.

Which he did not eat.


Deveal would always say hello and in turn, even though they did not want to, his neighbors had to say hello back.

But the oddest thing about Deveal was his house.

It was only about two years older then the rest of the houses in town and it looked like most of the houses in town and it even had those fancy lace curtains that were in style and hanging from all of the houses in town.

But it always looked older, and it aged faster and the grass and trees all around his house turned brown and stayed that way.

And sometimes the windows on the top floor turned red, just the faintest shade of red and in those days, before the street lights went in and Cedar Valley got built up, you could see that faint red glow for miles.

Pretty soon Deveal’s house was mentioned by almost everyone in Cedar Valley at least once a day, everyone had something to say about it- it was used as a reference point when they gave driving directions, it came up when topics of conversations involved rot or decay or crazy people who made things out of human skin and hair.

One day, Skip Keyes said to his friend Alby Bench ” You know it seems like we never get away from Deveal’s house, it’s always here- right here in the middle of town. It’s like the damn thing is always watching us. It feels like we never get away from it. Why do you suppose that is?”

And before Alby could answer Deveal walked by and as he did Alby and Skip did what they always did in Cedar Valley when their Odd Duck swam by

 they turned to say hello to Deveal.

And Deveal stopped and with the faintest of red glowing from his eyes he said hello back.

When Monsters Kill

…he will be taken from the jail at three o’clock in the afternoon

he will be hanged by the neck until dead

and it is further  considered   by the court

that after the execution is done

your body will be delivered to Doctor J.W. Canfield, a surgeon

for dissection

and may God have Mercy on your soul

That was the price

Antoine LeBlanc

paid for the murders of Judge Samuel Sayres and his family

However, legend says that after Le Blanc was pronounced dead he wasn’t even close to completing his sentence:::

After the execution, Dr. Canfield of Morristown took the body, and with the help of the esteemed Dr. Joseph Henry of Princeton University, passed electrical current through it to see if it could be resurrected. Although they were able to make the limbs contract, the eyes roll, and the mouth grin, the corpse stayed lifeless.



By: L’Aura Muller

So who was the monster and who was the beast and why did a Judge find it necessary to kill a man twice?

Just a little thought for you to turn over in your head on Halloween.

From Weird N.J.


Legend Of The Georgetown Morgue



:::click on the picture below:::

Today I read an article that debunks the story about The Georgetown Morgue.

 I don’t do the haunted house tour thing ( you know, after you’ve worked in a Funeral Home and had to visit real morgues and years later all you can remember is the taste of McDonald’s French fries because you were consistently assigned removals in the afternoons- just before lunch)- Morgues don’t exactly scare me-

 the thought of them now just makes me hungry.

For French Fries.

The super-sized serving.


I thought the setup for the Georgetown Morgue was a fun idea, a very neat story and the building the “morgue” is staged in is way over the top and looks the part.

Most funeral homes, let’s face it, were supposed to blend because they were either near churches or in neighborhoods and people actually lived in them.

However subtle- some of them are they are weird if you know what to look for the weirdness- take a look at the garage doors and back doors which are wider then normal to accommodate you know, things which require a lot room to move through, and though the writer of the above mentioned article does toss in the small smoke stacks at the Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home and how unscary they are but he fails to mention the actual creepy thing is the mirror mounted on the roof and tilted upwards towards the smoke stack.

The Funeral Directors use this mirror to make sure the smoke doesn’t turn dark during the cremation process…see CREEPY.

You just need to know where to look to find it.

However- there’s always an however isn’t there?

 On a visit Dubque Iowa, I saw this amazing funeral home called Behr’s- which looks scary by any measure.

So what do I think about the ‘debunking’ of the Georgetown Morgue?


I’d say the writer who did this didn’t prove anything other then the only story he could come up with was the deconstructing of another writer’s work.

Creating a world and a story and legend for you to follow isn’t easy, placing it in terms that invite readers to want actually walk ( or drive ) to  that door is actual work, bringing a building and people who never existed to life, takes effort, writing a vindictive little hit pieces to ruin the moment for people who wanted to visit the “Georgetown Morgue” ?

Geeze- now that’s just mean spirited.

So visit the setup site for the Georgetown Morgue, it’s actually well done- I thought the way they wove bits of Seattle’s real history into the ‘legend’ was pretty clever – the earthquakes, the hint of the Wa Mee Massacre, the death of a famous local musician wrapped in media hype- made it possible for present day for local residents to ‘relate’ to this building and to the story.

So no- I wouldn’t visit the haunted house- I couldn’t even be bribed with French Fries…however…if someone were to tell me more stories about the Georgetown Morgue– they would have my undivided attention.

After all, this is what we do during Halloween- we spin yarns, tell tales and for one night not only do we get to face the monsters-

we get to face them down.

It’s all part of the fun.



A few of you, more then others…

to have a

Happy Halloween.

Kube93FM Haunted House

The Georgetown Morgue: Gruesome true story or fabrication?


Secret From Under The Bridge

photo by captain oddsocks

photo by captain oddsocks

I have a secret.

I love pumpkins…year round, not just for Halloween.

But that is not my secret.

Let me explain.

I collect pumpkin knick knacks and pictures of pumpkins and I cross stitch them on all sorts of things  and I always have stickers with pumpkins on them and I slap them on anything that isn’t moving.

And if it is I’ll slap one on anyway.

Most people think I like pumpkins because I love Halloween.

In part that’s true.

The truth of the matter is- I like pumpkins because they look like severed heads-

 and when you carve faces on them.



The E-Mail Soul Eater


Yesterday me and my best friend Amihan were shopping at the Mall for hats ( I love those old lady styled hats with fruit and birds on the brim…the one I was wearing that day had little cats dancing around the edges ) when she asked me if I had heard the story about the E-Mail Soul eater and I was very sorry to have to say I had not heard that one.

” Well,” Amihan ” tells me- “the E-Mail Soul Eater is this demon who sits in this Library and sends out this picture and if you don’t pass her picture around she’ll come out of your computer and kill you.”

” Yeah but why…”

” She doesn’t have a Soul, so she eats them to stay alive.”

” Oh she does, does she?”

Amihan opens up her purse and takes out a couple of pieces of paper and I see that one is a copy of the e-mail and the other is the picture and I say to her:

” You have got to be kidding me.”

” No, it’s true. I mean I think it is.”

“Listen Amihan- Demons are old world. They do things the old fashioned way, that’s in their nature -they are hands on and in your face. Please Amihan, e-mails?”

” What the Hell kind of stupid story is that? ” I ask and then I took the picture from Amihan and folded it up in a neat little square and I put it in my back pocket.

 ” I know, I know, I took the e-mail and the picture and if I don’t pass it along the E-Mail Soul Eater will come and get me. Well I hope she does. “

Amihan is near tears and she says, ” Why did you do that? “

” Hey Amihan, don’t worry about it. “

Amihan does look worried so I shrug and say as I pull my hat down over the little horns on my forehead ” Don’t worry about her, Soul Eater, Soul Thief, whatever- all I know is I don’t need the competition.”

:::to read about the real “E-Mail Soul Eater” go HERE:::

Her Eyes Are Wrong

The picture is in a gold frame and

and it is hanging in a basement in a little room with a coal shoot door that won’t stay nailed shut where I used to play as a child.

One year I pulled the picture down, turned it over and saw written on the back in dark red ink:

“Her eyes are wrong- and it’s to late to change them now “

I turned the picture so that it faced the wall.

But the words scared me more then the photograph itself

so I turned it back around

and I never looked into the eyes in that picture again.

But it didn’t matter.

Because those eyes, those wrong eyes, saw me.

I know it.

And I know that they still do.


Out On Birch Road

I have never been afraid of going off road and exploring

empty houses

and empty buildings.

I’ve gone into places with just a flashlight

and when I carried one I would leave my phone in the car.

The only thing I was afraid of was getting bugs in my hair.

I really hated it when that happened.


One day I found this empty house

and I had a great time poking around in there

and for some reason I sat there

on a dusty dirty floor

in what used to be the living room

and I thought:

Anything could have happened here…


Someone could have proposed marriage right on this spot

or somebody could have stood right here and been told that

their Mother had died or that their son was joining  the Army

or their daughter was pregnant or there had been a terrible accident…all of that could have happened right here in this small space I was occupying in this house nobody had lived in for years.

These thoughts were about the familiar safe things in life- which was funny considering where they had come to me.

But when I left, as I walked down the walkway to the path that would take me to my car I saw a shovel leaning against a doorway that led down into a root cellar.

I became painfully aware of the fact that the Sun would be setting soon.

I ran all the way to my car.

3:43 at 5th And Cherry Street

Gemi Ranney catches her bus at 3:43 on the Corner of 5thand Cherry Street Mondaythrough Friday.

You could set your watch by Gemi.

She shows up at her stop at exactly 3:38 and five minutes her bus, the 408 shows arrives and then Gemi gets on and she’s home a half and hour later.

Nothing surprising ever happens to Gemi on that short walk she takes to her bus stop after work.

She sees the same people withthe same expressions on their faces- sometimes they smile and sometimes they don’t and sometimes they say hello- but one day Gemi noticed  it truly was always the same.

Gemi started to wonder how they could do that- how they could smile the same, sound the same when they said hello and even wave the same way to the same people they passed on the street every single day.

Gemi couldn’t stick to any sort of routine, she never wore her hair the same way, she never signed her name the same way, she never made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the same way and she only ever used three ingredients when she did that. 

So one day, because she was early, Gemi took a another route that was a little longer and as she walked towards 5th she ended up walking behind one man she always saw at the Cherry Street bus stop.

He always said ” hey there you ” with a little wink and a click of his tongue against his teeth.

As she walked by she said hello and he turned his head and looked down at her and as he did Gemi saw a little bug run from his ear into his nose.

” I think something… ” Gemi pointed to the side of his head and as she did he said,

” Hey there you ” with a little wink and a click of his tongue the way he always did but this time he said something different.

This time he said, ” Mrs Grayford did this to me. ” and then he took his same place at the bus stop and he pulled a newspaper out of his backpack and Gemi had the feeling it was the same paper he looked at every single day as he waited on the corner of 5th and Cherry.

After the bug in the nose incident Gemi started to walk different roads to her bus stop and every once and awhile she would see some of the people from her stop going through their usual routines.

But now Gemi started to see not only the sameness in what they did every single day she noticed that they were wearing the same clothes and carrying the same books and sometimes from the smell she was sure they were carrying the same lunches and coffee cups too.

And sometimes they would stop and say to her, with dust in their hair and dust in their slightly frosty looking non-blinking eyes and the occasional  bug running across their foreheads or out of their mouths, a little desperately before their eyes frosted over again

” Mrs Grayford did this to me.”

Eventually, of course, Gemi did begin to wonder who Mrs. Grayford was. And when she thought about it too much she realized that doing that probably wasn’t a very good idea until that day at her office.

Gemi worked in an office supply store that sold pens and pencils and old fashioned things like erasers and they even sold business cards that were printed on a printing press and not a laser jet printer.

Gemi’s job was back in the warehouse and sometimes she had to work up in the office processing paperwork- which she didn’t mind because it was a break in the routine that was her work day.

So true to her nature after about 15 minutes of filing and initialing of order forms Gemi switched screens on her computer and typed in Mrs. Grayford and she put in Dearden, Washington.

She learned one thing, there was only one person named Grayford who lived in Dearden and exactly three months ago she opened a Funeral Home just 4 blocks up from Cherry Street.

” Well that’s just creepy. ” Gemi said to Rochelle who worked in Accounts Receivable- and Gemi only started talking because Rochelle was into her numbers and paperwork and wasn’t going to pay attention to anything you said unless it involved an invoice.

So as a rule, Rochelle didn’t talk to anyone at the office, and that especially included the human tumbleweed that was Gemi Ranney.

Now the beauty of this situation for Gemi was that she could say out loud this idea that was giving her nightmares. And the thought was crazy sounding but the person who was about to hear it wasn’t going to be listening to a word she said, let alone care what she had to say.

This brief and short conversation with Rochelle was Gemi’s way of dragging a vampire out into the sunlight and killng it. 

” You know what Rochelle? I think that someone is making Zombies at that new Funeral Home up the street…mindless Zombies that do the same thing over and over again until they fall apart. I’m hoping that I never run into the person that asked for this to be done. I’d rather stab myself in my own ear with a pencil then to be anywhere near a person like that.

 That’s what I think.”

Rochelle didn’t look up at Gemi just like Gemi new she wouldn’t and Rochelle continued to fill in numbers and mark pages that needed to have the date hand written into one box and  her initials written into another and then she started all over again on another form and then Rochelle slid something across her desk towards Gemi and Gemi saw what it was.

It was a pencil.

And then from her ink and paper filled hell Rochelle said said to Gemi

” Mrs Grayford did this for me. ” 

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

This is the very story that made me decide to become a Writer.

I was about 10 when I heard it for the first time.

It was years later that I actually saw the film.

It was fitting then, that the first time I saw it on TV was on the Twilight Zone.

What follows next, before the video posted here, is the Closing Narration from the Twilight Zone, but really, it was the Opening Narration for me.


An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge—in two forms, as it was dreamed, and as it was lived and died. This is the stuff of fantasy, the thread of imagination…the ingredients of the Twilight Zone

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – part 1


An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – part 2

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – part 3




The Elevator Ghost

A few days ago someone sent this to me-

it’s one of those Urban Legend stories about a ghost

that shows up on a security camera.

It made me think because

I have an elevator ghost story.

We have an old freight elevator at work

and the repair men who run the inspections- and its always a different inspection team from year to year- tell the same story about a building just two streets over from where I work.

This is a story ( it’s just a story I’m sure ) about a woman who was murdered on a service elevator that wasn’t used very often (she was moving boxes from her apartment to the basement ) over a holiday weekend and her corpse rode that elevator for three days.

Her remains were discovered after the long weekend was over when someone in the building complained about the service elevator running up and down all night long without stopping.

Nobody could get the elevator to stop and apparently the people in the building had a hard time finding a service crew to come in because of the holiday weekend.

So everyone had to listen to those gears and that motor humming and hissing and running up and down on that last night.

 Finally the repair crew made it in and when they finally got the elevator  stopped they were able to open the doors there she was.

Her neck was broken and her eyes and mouth had been sewn shut.

That was done, I learned before her neck had been snapped.

The elevator always had problems after that and no matter what they did they couldn’t fix it, so eventually the elevator was taken out and the shaft was turned into a staircase.

And sometimes, the people in the building say you can hear clicks and hums all night long coming from the stairwell.

So this story may just be an Urban Legend, like this video.

But the fact is as a writer I know that stories, all stories, were inspired by something or somebody

that was alive and real

That is,

until one day….

Nan’s Picture

I should have been writing last night.

Instead I spent a lot of time staring at a picture that  I have hanging on  on my wall.

It’s a print of some fruit (grapes, bananas, plums) in a fancy fruit bowl, but when you look carefully at  you can see that the bowl is actually a hand and the stem under it is an arm.

It’s a subtle drawing with soft lines and it’s full of colors and shadows and all of it works together to hide that macabre message  ( as I think of it )

in plain sight.

Less then subtle in the foreground, where it’s not hiding at all, is something that looks like rose peals scattered on the beige colored linen table cloth below the bowl.

My Great Grandmother- we never called her Granny Or Grandma or Gran- she wasn’t into having her age addressed – we called her Nan- bought that print back in the 1920’s and nobody knows where it came from- it just showed up above her sideboard one day- so the story goes.

Over the years it seemed some of us realized what that was a picture of but no one ever pointed it out- it was sort of like a test- if you saw what was in the picture and told someone who already knew, you were in the club.

That’s what it felt like anyway.

Nan passed away when I was about 6 years old and when I moved out of my Mom’ and Dad’s just before I turned 19 my Mom gave me my Great Grandmother’s sideboard and the picture above it.

I thought it made my new place perfect- and when I invited my friends over I set my house warming buffet on top of it and watched to see who would notice or see what was in the picture.

It was about an hour into the party when I was standing next to the buffet talking to my cousin when I heard someone laugh and then yell, ” Hey Anita…think fast “…

and then this soccer ball buzzed right by my ear and smashed right into my Great Grandmother’s print.

The frame splintered and the glass cut the 60 plus year old print to ribbons and in less then a minute there wasn’t  enough left of the picture to hang on the wall.

I looked across the room to my friend


the first words out of my mouth were “What have you done? “

He cleaned up the remains of the picture and I watched him take the ruined frame and print out to the trash.

But instead of walking all the way down the path to the parking lot where the dumpster was I saw him walk to the flower beds and bury it- and when he came back upstairs he told me, ” that was one weird picture you know. “

He said some more- only I wasn’t  listening because I was thinking to myself the entire time he was talking  to me, ” It’s a good thing Nan is dead- because she’d kill you for that.”

My friend died a week later, he ran his car into the back of a parked truck- he was going over 80 miles an hour when he hit it. 

It happned just down the hill from my Parent’s house.

” He was racing another car ” one of the Police Officers told my Mom. ” One of the witnesses thinks the other driver was a woman. “

What my Mom said will stay with me forever.

She said, ” I wouldn’t count on that.”

So how is it I was looking at that picture last night ?

Was it the same one from my childhood?

Of course it was.

Ten years ago we bought this house from my Mom and Dad and after they moved out she asked my husband to go up into the attic and pull down some furniture that she had room in her new place for after all.

He was up there for just a few minutes when I heard him call down to me, ” Hey, this would look great above your sideboard “

I remember walking to the trapdoor and reaching up and he handed me down the print and I took it, without looking at it and hung it above the sideboard…

where it is right now.

And to this day some people notice it for what it is and other people never do.

Just like this story.

The Late Show

Instead of watching a movie

last night I read this book that is full of stories- true stories- about people were buried alive

It all sounds frightening

and sure I can easily imagine what it would be like.

But as I’m reading it I’m thinking that the common thread in these accounts isn’t the horror of the situation that these people found themselves in in that time before their dark death.

It’s the terror these people felt when they realized

they were going to die alone and that nobody would ever know

what really happened to them.

I think I’m going to keep my light on for awhile after I go to bed tonight.


Denio Litman Gets The Message

On a building near the train station, carved into a wall plastered with handbills and handmade posters announcing the time and dates for concerts and magic shows is a message.

There are only six words in the message and they have been carved very deep into the plywood wall that is starting to sag a little as the sidewalk under it sinks a little each day.

The message reads:

Give It Back To Me Rusty

That was all it said.

Nobody who saw it wondered who Rusty was or what it was Rusty had taken.

Eventually though somebody did notice and that somebody was Denio Litman.

Denio was 42 and in a month he was going to be 43 and the one thing Denio wanted for his birthday was a tattoo. That tatttoo was something he promised to give to himself every year since the year he turned 40.

Last year he had almost made good on the gift to himself- last year he had actually gone into the Tattoo Parlor and looked through the books. That was a step up from the previous years when he hadn’t even bothered to pull into the parking lot.

He did, however, drive by very slowly.

But this year was different.

This year it was really going to happen.

Denio was so certain of that fact that he had started to collect drawings and pictures of tattoos that he liked and he now had about a half dozen books next to his bed about the history and culture of tattoos.

And then one afternoon as he ran by the wall he noticed the message to Rusty and he wondered who would stand there and take the time to carve something like that into wood-each letter was about four inches tall and each letter was starting to splinter around the rounded letters so Denio guessed that not only had somebody put their back into carving the message they must have nearly carved their way through the plywood itself.

Now that, Denio thought, took commitment and that’s when he decided to take getting his tattoo seriously.

A few days later the wall was gone- there was a new plywood wall in it’s place and a boardwalk covering the place where the sidewalk used to be  and hanging from the wall were six posters for the same event which was:

“The Sixth Annual Twilight Tattoo Festival”

Denio stopped to look at the poster because this could be the place where his tattoo could happen-the needles and ink and the stinging could be happening to him…

this Friday.

Well- that was sudden.

Then Denio really looked at the poster and he couldn’t help but to notice that it was covered with lots and lots of women and that none of them had tattoos- though they did have very nice smiles.

Well, it was an Ink Fest alright, but Denio guessed that at this Fest the ink probably washed off with soap and water and that it was probably fruit flavored ink to boot.

Denio breathed something that he would never admit was a sign of relief and when he let that breath go he looked up and saw,  written in blackmarker just above the poster’s top edge was

Give It Back To Me Rusty

of course.

Denio’s birthday came and went and Denio had bagged the tattoo idea again, which was sort of present he had secretly given to himself. However, the people in Denio’s life gave him actual presents and one was a gift card for coffee from Club Earth which was just around the corner from his office.

Denio used his gift card on the day he forgot his lunch and because it was the lunch hour Denio figured the lines at Club Earth were going to be pretty long so he decided to cut through the alley to get over to Bonnie Street before the Office people from further uptown made it down for their hourly fix.

Standing in those coffee lines was a nasty situation- all of those people shaking because they were going through caffeine withdrawals and reeking like designer perfumes.

So to avoid that Denio cut through the alley which only sounded bad- as far as alleys went the one that led over to Bonnie was clean and well lit and it looked like a picture from an old fashioned Christmas card because of the low doorways ( bricked over now) and the cobbled street (paved over in most places) and along the outer walls you could still see the frames that the windows used to be in ( boarded up).

Only now, in addition to that, starting at one end of the alley and ending at the other were the words







The message had been written in chalk and as Denio stood there he could see the little puffs of yellow chalk dust coming up off the letters and he saw it get caught up in the breeze and then he watched it drift and settle all along Bonnie Street.

In the evening, when Denio got home from work he started to pay attenition to the news, he even checked the news services on the Internet and read the papers.

He was looking for Rusty- and unlike his tattoo- it wasn’t something planned to do, he was really doing it.


One evening at the train station, ,  Denio saw someone in a grey hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans facing  the wall that was now stripped of the Twilight Tattoo Festival posters.

Their arm was raised up and he could see  in their hand a can of spray paint.

He could also see that there were two letters under the hand:


“Hey” Denio asked with a laugh- at least he hoped it sounded like a laugh “what did this Rusty take from you?”

The figure’s hand moved slowly from side to side, just a little and then the paint hissed out of the can:


” Come on…what did Rusty take from you? ”  Denio reached out and touched the figure’s shoulder and as he did Denio’s thought to himself:

I really wished I’d gotten that tattoo.

The hooded figure turned towards him and as it did the paint can dropped to the ground and Denio heard it rolling all the way down the steps until it reached the train tracks below and stopped.

It’s probably still there.



When I sit down and think about what it means to be possessed and trapped, all the while knowing that someone can be amused by my panic and that raspy sound I make when I’m so scared I have to force myself to breath I think about Mrs O’Hara’s garage.

In Mrs O’Hara’s garage, stacked against a wall covered with pale green wallpaper are pictures in heavy gold frames and cracked silver frames that range in size from something you could fit into the palm of your hand to ones that could only be moved by at least two people and a pickup truck.

It didn’t take us long to figure out that everyone in those pictures which were turned so that they faced the wall was dead.

Me and my friend Delilah found them the summer we had taken to breaking into people’s garages.

We had broken into every single garage on our street- we never took anything.  We were 11 years old and bored and nobody else would hang out with us because me and Delilah looked ” Arabic ” according to Mrs. Lee and to make it worse we looked like we had ‘some Mexican ‘ in us too ( according to Mr Lee ) and both of us had white Fathers and ” foreign looking Moms” so all we had was each other and because of that me and Delilah learned to make a heck of team.

Anyway we would bust into these garages and go through boxes and look through magazines and books and we use to cover our hands with chalk dust and leave imprints on the floors or sometimes we would get into the parked cars and pretend to drive to ” Arabic ” where apparently everyone looked like us.

Mrs O’Hara’s garage was the last one we broke into and the one we always went back to because every Friday Mrs O’Hara would drive up in her Station Wagon and take a new picture into her garage.

We must have spent the entire Summer trying to figure out why Mrs. O’Hara had pictures of dead people in her garage and it got to the point where we decided to either forget our once a week trip into Mrs. O’Hara’s garage or we find out, once and for all why she had pictures of dead people…

facing her garage wall.

Finally we came up with a plan to strike up a conversation with Mrs. O’Hara and it involved Mrs Swanson.

We were always trying to find ways to get at Mrs Swanson because she wouldn’t let us join her Girl Scout Troop- every single girl in the neighborhood belonged to that Troop and when she said that me and Delilah couldn’t join because we weren’t ” Girl Scout Material ” that put the nail in our social coffin. 

 Services were held shortly thereafter that and we never were accepted by any of our neighbors.

I know- it’s sad.


Every year Mrs. Swanson’s Girl Scout Troop sold cookies- someone would show up in their Scout Outfit with all these badges and pins on their chest and they’d unload boxes and boxes of cookies onto Mrs. Swanson’s front porch.

Right after they showed up me and Delilah would sneak up to the porch and we would each steal once box of cookies from each of the big boxes.

Later, Mrs. Swanson and her little troopers would show up and they would pull out these check lists and figure out they were about a dozen boxes short and Mrs Swanson would go into heart failure because in Mrs. Swanson’s world there wasn’t room for funny looking kids with mismatched parents or for shortages on her order forms.

So she would call in her missing cookie count and then she would race up and down the street trying to find someone who would be home during the day to receive the cookies.

I’ll give Mrs. Swanson this much- she was so focused that she didn’t even notice me and Delilah following her up and down the street with cookie crumbs smeared all over our faces.

So we were strolling behind Mrs. Swanson who was talking to Mrs Parnell about the cookies when I told Delilah, ” if I have to eat another cookie my guts are going to blow. “

” We could give them to your dog “

” Or…” I said as Mrs O’Hara’s station wagon purred by us ” we could sell them to Mrs. O’Hara”

In the end we decided to use the remaining boxes of cookies as bait, looking back at it thinking of the cookies as bait should have told us something about Mrs. O’Hara.

Mrs. O’Hara was late returning home from Picture Day but we were ready for her. We walked up her driveway with an assortment of cookies and offered to sell them to her.

Mrs. O’Hara had this round face and tiny blue eyes and white teeth that clicked when she talked and she said, ” Since when did you girls become Scouts. “

” We’re helping them out. ” Delilah said.

” That’s a relief. I thought you girls had joined them. I was sure you both had more sense then that “

Mrs O’Hara agreed to take the cookies off of our hands for half the price we had asked for and of course we didn’t press the point and after she took the bags of cookies from us she pointed to two small portraits on her back seat and asked if we would take them into the garage for her.

Glad too we told her.

So we each took a picture into the garage and leaned them against the wall with the rest and that’s when we saw that the pictures we had carried in were of a babies with a rose clenched in their chubby little baby fists and even an 11 yeras old kid could pick up on the fact that babies and roses just don’t look right together.

We looked back at Mrs. O’Hara.

“Twins.” she told us and then Mrs O’Hara reached over and turned both pictures against the wall.

” Who were they?” I asked looking at the rows and rows of pictures.

” Those are pictures of dead people. They all died a very long time ago. It hardly matters now to learn their names now, does it?”

” Why do you want pictures of Dead People Mrs. O’Hara? ” Delilah asked.

We turned back and looked up into Mrs. O’Hara’s round pleasant face and she smiled down on us and said, ” Some people believe  that when you take a picture of a person you steal their Souls…and I have stolen all of these…so that means ” she said as she rested her hand on one of the frames ” that means they’re mine now.”

Mrs. O’Hara either laughed or growled- I’m not sure which and then she said in her real voice:

” Mine. “

Far, Far Away

There’s a little post card that Ramona Jinx has just tacked to the bulletin board in the breakroom at work.

It says in orange and red letters:

Welcome To

Hotel de Sol

Enjoy your Stay!

Dwarfing the pen and ink style drawing of the mountains behind the hotel and engulfing the beach and the water below it…

is the Sun.

The sun is trimmed in read and filled in with streaks of orange and crimson and Ramona, whose Grandmother used to use the post card as a bookmark said that she liked having it around because the picture made her feel like she was burning up.

” And that’s a good thing? ” Ramona asked.

” It is when your bones get old Ramona” her Grandmother told her.

At the time that made sense, Ramona’s Grandmother was 97 when that particular conversation took place and Ramona guessed that by that age your bones must feel like ice-besides her Grandmother had  liked things that were ” hot and spicy ” and red…

Red was her favorite color- of course.

So that’s what was the color of the dress they buried her in when she passed away a few weeks later.

After the Funeral Ramona and her Mother were went over to Grandmother’s House to start packing up her Grandmother’s belongings when Ramona found the card next to the lamp on her nightstand.

” Can I have this? ” Ramona asked her Mother.

Her Mother looked at what Ramona was holding and she shook her head, ” I never had any use for that place, Mother could never get enough of it though. Honestly that woman…”

” This place is for real? “

” It certainly is Ramona, and it’s hot there, its hotter then Hell.”

Then her Mother laughed and even though she wasn’t sure why she did it-

Ramona laughed too.


It was on the bus ride to work that morning, when Ramona decided to take the card to work to hang on the bulletin board, that she acutually  saw what was written on the back of the card.

The ink was faded and Ramona guessed that at one time the writing had been done in purple ink. But you could still make out most of the writing and Ramona instanly recognized her Grandmother’s small neat precise block style printing.

The letters were all capitlized and the message read:

Sometimes Wishes Come True

Most of the writing under that was worn away but at the bottom of the message box you still read in part:

Hold This Near and

Fr m The Bottom Of My H art I C n Honestly Say

” I Wi h You W re  here “


Where it’s hotter then Hell Ramona thought to herself and she wondered who would want to go to a place like that on purpose?


Bitsy Freemont was the head Cashier at the store Ramona worked at.

Bitsy didn’t like Ramona.

Bitsy told anyone who would stand still long enough for her to talk too that Ramona dressed funny, and that Ramona didn’t have much of a personality and the worst thing of all-despite of all of her obvious shortcomings Ramona manged to land herself a great fiance.

Bitsy was standing there when Ramona tacked the postcard to the bulletin board.

” Well that’s interesting. ” Bitsy said as Ramona stepped back away from the card “Look how big the Sun is… and the water…is it boiling? “

Ramona put her face next to the card and and then she looked back at Bitsy. ” I don’t think it’s water”

Bitsy turned her nose up at Ramona and she snorted…she actually snorted, ” well what kind of silly picture is it? “

” It’s a picture of a Hotel” Ramona said “it’s a picture of a hotel on the Sun.”

” Is that supposed to be funny? “

And then Ramona understood what the card said, what it did and she put her hand on top of it and then she looked into Bitsy’s pinched up overly made up face and said,

” From The Bottom Of My Heart, I Wish You Were There. “

There in the breakroom one card on the bulletinboard moved around a bit and then it settled back against the board and Ramona went back to work.

Bitsy Freemont- of course-

never did.

Waking Up the Dead Girls

Dead girls don’t have wishes.
They don’t dream like other girls.

They sit at home, and watch the news;
they talk with speechless familiars.

Watch as the jaded line up for coffee
each morning, eyes downcast

searching the dusky corners for
direction;  finding no one.

Didn’t you wish you could
be dead like them?  Slender and

translucent, unsmiling,
unbending to the music:

curled in shadows like spiders,
and weeping for every woe in the world.

Watch as the fading-fast tuck strength away
in silver knots, droplet by droplet,

their prayers lost as spoken:
cast down unknown wells.

Didn’t you ever wander to the bluffs
to look out on the ocean with new eyes?  To

drown indifference with ineffable moonlight,
and draw night into your lungs with a long, low stream…

Dead girls don’t swim either.
They float on hot air and sweat clouds.

Watch as the awkward learn to walk
around broken; to stand split apart in the sun.

© 2008 Jade Leone Blackwater

*     *     *     *     *

Thanks to Anita Marie Moscoso for generously inviting (and encouraging) me to share at Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge.  I welcome constructive feedback on my writing any time.  To learn more about my work, or to contact me via email, please visit me at Brainripples.



Back in the early 70’s I used to watch Cliff Hangers before I left for school in the morning.

I used to watch Flash Gordon

and a few others, but Flash was my favorite.


In the spirit of those Cliff Hangers I invite you to visit Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge and

follow the adventures of

Milo and Jingle Hungerford.

There are no Spaceships or people in capes… or exotic looking women who rule the universe

but that can change.

Stay Tuned for More


A long time ago a young man named Milo Hungerford asked a woman named Jingle to marry him at the Rainbow Beach Drive-In during intermission.

Jingle  said yes just as an army of little popcorn boxes went dancing across the screen  and a soft drink cup wearing a top hat stood on a box of Honey Bits  and invited you to visit all of his friends at the snack bar soon.

” I want to be with you forever. ” Milo told Jingle with tears in his eyes.

Then Milo took Jingle’s hand and put a ring on her finger that he had made for her himself.

Jingle held the ring up to the light from the movie screen and then she held it to her cheek and then  Jingle took Milo’s chin in her hand lifted it up and she said- as she sank her teeth into his neck-

” I am so glad to hear you say  that Milo. “

The Beginning

by a.m. moscoso


In Regards To Tansy Arvensis

In a glass case, on a shelf in a jar, is all that remains

of a woman named

Tansy Arvensis.

How is it that Tansy

– you might ask-

who once performed as

a Fire Breather, a Sword Swallower and Trapeze Artist for a Traveling Circus ended up in a jar on a shelf in a museum?

– In addition –

you might wonder

how is it that all that is left of Tansy is a head in jar with a single horn sprouting from the side of her head?

And you may question

why is it that Tansy’s eyes are sometimes closed and sometimes opened and sometimes her mouth is twisted in rage and her neat white teeth and her dark red lips are pushed up against the glass and at other times she is facing the wall?

How would someone like me

-you might wonder-

an unremarkable woman, living an unremarkable life in an unremarkable town called Mountlake Terrace ever have known a person like Tansy?


how is it that this unremarkable woman came to know what happened to Tansy

on that night Tansy lost her head?

What a silly question.

You should really be asking why is it that an unremarkable woman living an unremarkable life in an unremarkable town

isn’t the one

whose head is in a jar. 

If You Could

If you were to go

through these Halls


and if you could walk under these empty eyes

as they watched your every move

all by yourself

Somewhere in this place

Where death stands in every corner

and waits along the walls

you would find Rosalia Lombardo

who has been here since


and it will occur to you

as you looked down into her glass topped coffin,

that it is still 1920 for Rosalia


She will always be two years old in this place….



Note below from Famous Embalmings

Rosalia Lombardo, who died at age two on 6 December 1920 and was one of the last corpses to make it to the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo, Sicily before the local authorities banned the practice. Nicknamed the ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Rosalia’s body is still perfectly intact. Embalmed by a certain Alfredo Salafia.


More on the

Capuchin catacombs of Palermo



Eye Of The Beholder

by Anita Marie Moscoso




best fiction post




Abney Hawkweed taught music for 25 years in the Caswell School District and those were the best years of her life.

Not that she liked teaching; in fact Abney didn’t even like kids.

But the hours were good, she got the Summers off and at the end of the day not many people go out of their way to pay attention to plain looking women with wire rimmed glasses who know how to play the violin and trumpet and the saxophone.

Which suited Miss Abney Hawkweed just fine.

In the old days, after school was over and Abney was on her way home she used to roll the windows of her fuel-efficient little car down and she use to turn the radio off just so she could hear the honking horns and screeching tires. Sometimes she even got an earful and eyeful of some road raging driver screaming their lungs out and waving their fingers around in nasty gestures.

Sometimes, just for the fun of it Abney would go out of her way just so that she could drive by the Great Mall of Felton Hills.

She just loved to watch people dodge buses and trucks and cars and then no matter how many cars were behind her honking their horns she’d drive slow just so she could see the same people sprint, jog or run across the parking lots with baby strollers and shopping carts- all so that they could get into the shops and the food court and consume anything they could lay their hands on.

It all seemed so trivial and innocent and final.

There was no mystery to life in the suburbs.

You worked, you shopped, you watched TV and then you got to die.

Some people, Abney thought, don’t know how good they have it and that’s a fact.


Abney’s day job paid the rent; what she did at night was who Abney Hawkweed was. She could always find another day job, but there was only one Abney and when the Sunset came she couldn’t be anything else.

So just after dinner she would gather her tools into a little black leather medical bag- the one she inherited from her Grandfather and she turned the little gold clasps counter clockwise to lock it.

Then for luck, just like Grandpa taught her, she would touch the little brass plate that said, ” Post Mortem Case ” three times.

The luck thing was important because she usually needed it.


Like with most family businesses you could either take up the reigns and do the family proud or you could skate by and make them wish they could at least say you were adopted or ‘from the other side of the family’.

The worst you could be neither, the worst thing you could be is mediocre.

And know it.

Abney figured she could get the job done- and that phrase pretty much summed up Abney’s job performance. She wasn’t as glamorous and thin and blond as her cousin Inez and she wasn’t as smart or athletic as her Father Dr Setwell Hawkweed had been.

They were impressive figures at work and well respected.

No doubt, Abney could dig up a coffin pop it open and hammer a stake into the heart of a bloated red faced vampire before it could open it’s mouth and spit blood into her eyes-which is what they did when they were about to attack.

If they got you it was bad news because that mess could make you blind.

That’s how they brought you down.


The problem was it was just plain old Abney Hawkweed in some old decrepit church or over grown cemetery carrying on the family trade.

There was no sense of style about how Abney did her work so she did it quietly and efficiently as possible and then she’d go home feed her cat, listen to a little Mozart and then she’d turn in for what was left of the evening.

She did that for 25 years and she never complained.

She didn’t even complain when she had to go into a house on Halloween (of all nights) and take out a family of Vampires who had been sleeping in their basement and then had taken to hanging from the rafters like water logged Piñatas-dripping blood and purge from their hardly working bowels onto the floor.

All Abney figured when she slipped in the gunk and broke her wrist was that they had done that on purpose.

It wasn’t like the books and comics and video games you know.

Abney learned the hard way that oxygen deprivation at death and then waking up to find you had been turned into a mosquito was enough to make anyone crazy.

Very Crazy.


On the day Abney retired- both from the Day Job and the Family Trade, her work friends had taken her out for lunch and given her some neat gifts and they had promised to keep in touch.

She doubted they would.

And of course they didn’t.

Her family same to celebrate her retirement and of course they promised to stay in touch too- and Abney figured they’d make good on that and of course they did.

Especially when they needed a night off.


As time went by Abney started to play the Violin again for the simple pleasure of it. She never got calls to lend a hand at this Graveyard or that Morgue because the Vampire Problem was a Problem Solved and Abney decided to take up the guitar.

It was at Inez’s birthday part last winter that Inez had told Abney, ” You know in the old days we could never have all gotten together like this. It’d have been too dangerous. I mean, a couple of nutty blood suckers and a can of gasoline and before you know it we’re crispy critters and people are dropping like flies from ‘ the plague’ again.”

” You had a lot to do with that Abney. Thank you.”

And Abney decided right then and there that she may not have been the sleekest of models to hit the showroom floor but she had made a difference all the same.

That was when Abney really felt it for the first time- her life; her simple quiet life was all she ever was.

And she missed it.


When Spring came Abney had decided to take up sketching. She was pretty awful at it, but she had nothing but time on her hands and if this didn’t work she could always try something else.

So one day she’s at her favorite park sketching her favorite tree when four teenagers went walking by.

Shoulder to shoulder they looked like a little black thundercloud rolling along on the cobble stone pathway.

Their faces were pale, their lips were black and they smelled like the perfume counter at the Bay Side Department store.

Abney watched them for a moment and then she called out, ” You there…are you suppose to be Vampires? ”

There was a chorus of snorts and chuckles and someone tried to growl ” suppose to be ” but his his voice cracked.

One of the little black clouds broke away from the rest and she tried to glide up towards the middle-aged woman with salt and pepper hair ” We’re Goth ” she said slowly with her jaw clenched tight and her black hair falling into her face.

” Is that a new type of Vampire?” Abney asked cheerfully.

” I guess you could say that.” the girl with the pointed white teeth said. Then she tried to stare the old woman down. ” Why do you want to know? ”

Abney shrugged, ” just checking. ”

And as the little black cloud drifted down the path Abney got up, reached for the black bag under her chair and touched the little brass plate three times.

Then she went to work.



Reflection Of My Love

” What are you looking at Jingle? ”  Milo Hungerford asked his wife.

Jingle was standing in front of their bathroom mirror with her hairbrush in her hand and she turned slowly towards him and said, ” I don’t know. “

He came up behind her and stared into glass and shook his head.

” That’s not right Jingle. “

She put her hand to her face and looked into the mirror again and when she turned back towards Milo she started to cry. ” Milo what’s happening to me? “

Milo  pulled Jingle to his chest and turned her away from the looking glass.

” Is it still there Milo? “

Milo held Jingle tighter and said, ” yes. “

” The one in the foyer- let’s try that one too. “

” Jingle- it won’t…” he started to say and then when he saw the look on her face he nodded. “okay, we’ll try that one too.”

Milo held his wife’s hand and they walked down the dark halls to the entrance to their home and together they looked into the mirror there and Jingle burst into tears and grabbed her face.

” Oh Milo- oh Milo what’s happening to me? ” she cried.

Milo looked into the mirror and there in the glass he saw his wife holding her hairbrush, her dark hair framing her face- all alone except for the darkness that was their home and he turned her gently towards him and said,

” I don’t know how it happened Jingle…but I think you’re alive. “

Amlet Kerr Goes For A Ride

Amlet Kerr is a prisoner on a ship that is sailing along side the stars and not under them.

She is all alone- the last of her race in the entire Universe and shortly after the ship Amlet Kerr is sailing on docks she will be taken into a room and her chest will be cracked open and her heart and lungs and stomach will be removed and the top of her skull will be taken off and the thing that kept her alive will be known and the efficiant killing machine that arrived on Earth Halloween Night until it came across Amlet Kerr will be flawless once more.

However, her impending death brings no satisfaction to anyone on the Ship- not even to the Captain of the  War Ship  because Amlet, a short dark woman with half of her face burned to the bone and her hair melted away by the chemical fire his ship let loose on Amlet’s world, the man whose own Mother created the living acid that acts- as the people on Amlet’s word would have learned had they not all been burned alive- just like an army of fire ants.

So the Captain glares at her and his crew avoids her because as far as they’re concerned Amlet Kerr  is already a corpse.

But not everyone on the ship is as practical as the Captain and his Crew.

The Science Officer on the Ship has been trying since they found Amlet to overturn her death sentence so that he could at least study this woman, with only half of her face left on her skull and her ruined eye sunk back into her skull who sits with her hands folded primly in her lap when she should ash sitting on the surface on a dead airless world.

So everyday the Science Officer takes Amlet Kerr from her cell (tomb) as he thinks of it for short walks on the ship.

He takes her to the Observation Deck, to the Collectors Gardens, to the Labs and to the cargo hold where she spends many many hours going over the artificats they have collected.

And one day Amlet turns her head and says with a smile ” You’ve come all this way to rob graves? “

The  Science Officer steps back and then he realizes Amlet isn’t really smiling. Her head is turned and her teeth are exposed on the fleshless right hand side of her face. ” These are artifacts we found when we started our underground missions.” He tells Amlet.

” Those. ” Amlet says ” are not artifacts…those are coffins.”

” Artifacts. “

Amlet shrugs and she reaches out to touch one of the artifacts. She lays her hand on the dirty rotten pine box and with a little push her hand goes through the wood.

She holds her hand up to the light and stares at it for a very long time.

The Science Officer clears his throat and when he asks her name she tells him.

And when he starts to tell her what his name is she says, ” I don’t care what your name is. “

She turns around and with her one good eye she looks into both of his and says ” It doesn’t matter what your name is. Not to me.”

After that day the Science Officer leaves Amlet alone.

He doesn’t like the way she has taken to watching him and the crew members who stop by to make sure Amlet’s uneaten food is taken away and they wonder – all of them why she is alive.

And along with that they wonder if it matters if she’s going to die why don’t they just kill her now?

Because Amlet Kerr’s face is no longer exposed to the bone and her hair is beginning to grow back and she has taken to watching them even when they sleep.

None of them  are sure how she’s doing it…they just know because sometimes when they go by her Cell she will look up at them and say as they pass, ” I heard you dream last night. “

And after those little encounters the Crew and her Captain sleep fully armed and they slept with their lights on.

On the last day, as the Ship was docking,  Amlet Kerr was sitting in her Cell waiting to meet her Death in a lab billions of miles away from her ruined world the Science Officer opens the Cell door and he walks up to where Amlet is sitting and he asks, ” Why is this happening. “

Amlet looks up and touches her healed face and pushes loose strangs of her long dark hair behind her ears and says, ” It shouldn’t be. I’m a long way from home you know.” Amlet looks up and says, ” A window. Can I see outside? “

He takes her out and as they make their way to the Observation Deck the Science Officer asks, ”  First. Where were you from? “

He stops in front of what Amlet thinks is a window and he touches the screen and there is Amlet’s world-  burned and left in ruins with nothing on it now except for the Chemical Fire that will crawl all over until it consumes it’s way to the core of the planet.

She steps back and when she looks at him . ” Life there was always so fragile and it doesn’t last for long. This was over kill, trust me. They were near the end of it when you came. “

” They? ” he echoes.

” We. ” she says in a whisper and then she touches the place where she thinks she was from and when she turns back her face is a mask. ” It’s gone, the mountains where I came from are all gone.”

” You were from here… is that right” he points but Amlet’s hand is in the way and she won’t look at him and the Science Officer turns away and she stands there looking into the darkness that used to be her world- all alone.

The walk to the Observation Decks is short and silent and when they reach it he turns to Amlet and says this is my home…”

He points up towards the glass ceiling and Amlet can see a dark grey world covered with moutains and Oceans of ice…and circling the planet…

” You’re kidding me. ” she says with a laugh. ” Oh, you have to be kidding me! “

” Our world is roughly the same size as yours. Our Sun is further away of course and our Moons one or both are always present in our sky. Not like Earth of course. You only had one moon of course and it went through phases, did it not? “

Amlet doesn’t answer- she has questions of her own.

” Your Moons don’t go through Phases, they are full then? All of the time? “

” Yes. “

And Amlet Kerr, the last Human Being Alive, the only Werewolf that ever truly existed anywhere in the Universe  turned her face to the silver light shining down on the both of them

and Changed.

Another Not Quite Alice Moment


Once I saw a man wearing an expensive business suit and a man in clothes that were torn and dirty – digging a hole together next to the railroad tracks.

I couldn’t imagine under what circumstances these two could ever have met, talked and decided one morning to go out with shovels and start to dig as trains roared and hissed by them, as crows lined the barbed wire topped fence that they climbed-

just so that they could up digging side by side

next to the railroad tracks early one Monday Morning.

When I drove by eight hours later the men were gone and the shovel was resting right there next to the fence.

It was there two days later when I drove by and it was still there a week later and I started to wonder by the third week

about the man in the suit and the homeless man digging side by side next to the railroad tracks.

I went out one Sunday just after sunrise and stood next to the shovel, and then I actually touched the shovel and I wondered about those two men.

And I took the shovel in my hands and laughed and then I put it back and scaled the fence and dropped to the other side and when I did there was a man standing there.

He asked me what I was doing and I told him about the Well Dressed Man and the Not So Well Dressed Man digging through all that rock and hard packed earth.

” Crazy ” said the man.

” No kidding.” I agreed.

” So what do you suppose they were digging for? “

I laughed some more just to show that it didn’t really matter to me.

And then I turned back to the fence and grabbed at it and said, ” We’ll need another shovel “

The Dansing Tree


Sometimes on  my way to Whopperville ( that’s what I say when I’m working on a story…I’m heading out to Whopperville ) I’ve run across some true stories that haunt me-  they give me nightmares or creep me out for days.

At the moment I’m working on a story about a Hanging Tree and in my research I found out that the slang name for these trees were ” Dancing Trees “

I’ll let that visual sort of sink in there.

At first blush some of my friends with more refined literary tastes thought I was making a poetic gesture when I floated the first draft for this story out to them.

You can stop laughing now.

The image that came to my mind about Dancing Trees came to me one night and woke me from a dead sleep.

And there was nothing poetic about it.

I saw a group of people sitting under a large shady tree on a hot day  having a picnic. They were dressed in their best summer clothes and as they laughed softly and admired the beauty around them I knew they are blissfully ignorant to the fact that

…many years ago someone danced…

for their lives

right above t their heads

And when I looked up I could see…

they still were.


I found this article at BBC

It’s about a Hang Man’s Tree

That’s located in…

  Kings Mills, Wrexham Wales

Let The Danse Begin…


Hang Man’s tree

Last updated: 31 December 2007

Bernie Griffiths shares her experiences and spooky encounters at a local beauty spot known as ‘Biniki’ at Kings Mills, Wrexham, and the Hang Man’s tree.

 There is a mill by the river but to get to the really spooky part you have to walk under a bridge. It belongs to the National Trust. Anyway, by the bridge in Biniki there is a tree where events have occurred for centuries.

We normally go there during the summer months and sit on the side by what is called Hang Man’s tree for obvious reasons. There has always been a presence there and I can sense paranormal activity quite easily. That’s why everyone comes with me.

This one night though it got very scary indeed, so much so I told everybody to get up and make for the road. My niece, myself and my husband got across the bridge in time but as we turned to scream for the others they had been blocked off with what can only be described as a distorted shape of mist. It was just floating there and when they moved, it moved.

We screamed for them to run but it followed. They ran through the river but it didn’t cross. As we ran nearly a mile to get out of there it was on the other side of the river along side of us every inch of the way back to the mill where it stayed in the woods. Quite an experience.

I spoke to someone many weeks after that and I asked them when they were younger did they ever experience anything there. They described the same shape even though I had not mentioned it. We have been back there and it has happened a few more times at the same time around about 2.25am.

We have only ever managed to stay there once through the night. This is only one area that has activity. Coming back from there another night we couldn’t stay because it was getting a bit uneasy there. We started to walk back though and got out safe and sound.

However as we passed through the gates on the opposite side of the old mill me and my brother saw a man walking straight at us, we moved apart so he could pass between us. We said ‘hello’ to him but he ignored us.

Anyway we turned to make sure my husband was OK because he was straggling behind. As we turned the man just walked straight through him. I looked at my brother and he looked at me. My husband was oblivious to it all and said he saw no-one there. All I can say is there are many discssions about Biniki but you have to be there at the right time and the spirits seem to love being there when I am. 

King’s Mill Wrexham, Wales



News From A Distant Bridge

Iowa county board gives initial OK for ghost hunters to investigate asylum built in 1855

Iowa county board gives initial OK for ghost hunters to investigate asylum built in 1855

By Associated Press


IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – County officials have given their informal OK for ghost hunters to check out a one-time insane asylum to see if any spirits are lurking about.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors took the initial action on the request from the Johnson County Historical Society, which gives tours of the 153-year-old building.

Brandon Cochran, museum operations assistant for the historical society, said there have never been reports of ghosts or bizarre happenings at the building and that bringing in a paranormal team is “kind of taking the pre-emptive approach.

He wants an Iowa-based paranormal investigative team to come in for one night. Cochran said he hopes they don’t find any paranormal activity and the investigation can put to rest any speculation.

A four-person Carroll Area Paranormal Team will use thermal imaging equipment and voice recording systems, Cochran said.

A date for an investigation wasn’t set and an agreement will have to be drafted releasing the county of any liability before the supervisors formally approve the request, Cochran said.

The remaining wing was built in 1855 and housed mentally ill patients who were deemed insane. It was a self-sufficient 160-acre site with residents growing corn, potatoes, wheat, hay and tobacco.

The building is now called Chatham Oaks, and houses people with physical and mental disabilities. Chatham Oaks officials said there wouldn’t be a problem with the paranormal team coming in as long as it didn’t disturb residents, said county facilities director Dave Kempf.

It’s For The Best Emalee Cupid


Towns and Cities can disappear and die just like people. 

Some small towns disappear because the main highway is moved and that brings on death just as surely as if you sever an artery in you arm or leg or neck.

And some small towns disappear from the world because they want to.

Just like people.

First Down Turn disappeared from road signs and then it disappeared from road maps.

At some point most of the phone lines that fed into Down Turn fell against trees and into ditches with the storms that always hit the Olympics during the Winter and Spring. When the last set of lines came down in 1979 no one from the outside world noticed because by then Down Turn had all but disappeared from the rest of the world.

You’d think that the people living in Down Turn must have planned their escape from the world, that it must have taken them years to figure out how to erase the tracks they left as they moved in and out of Down Turn when they went to work or for drives or on vacations.

Nothing that grand happened in Down Turn.

The town just faded away bit by bit- just like a photograph encased in a frame with a dusty sheet of glass hanging on a wall that takes the sun for hours at a time.

If you lived in Down Turn you wouldn’t have noticed that you were cut off from the rest of the Universe or the main highway which was less then three miles away, after awhile you couldn’t hear the trucks or cars going by when the traffic was heavy anymore.

Nobody noticed.

Emalee Cupid was just like her neighbors and friends and co-workers. She was just like the people who came into the town’s library looking for ‘stories’.

She didn’t question why in over 20 years no children had been born or why no one ever changed their hairstyle or clothing style or had even bought a new car.

Emalee Cupid lived along and worked alone and now that the rest of life seemed to mirror the life she had resigned herself too all she felt was…


One day, it was probably sometime during the start of the week Emalee was fixing the spine on a Stephen King book and she wondered why no one seemed to be writing new books anymore.

The thought was a whisper but it was loud enough to make her wince and that’s when she turned the book in her hands over and saw that the title which should have read

” Salem’s Lot ” now read ” Alems Ot”

” That’s not right. ” she whispered to herself and she slid her thumb over the title thinking there MUST have been something covering the letters.

But there was nothing there- unless you counted the blank spot where the ” S ” and the ” L ” should have been.

Emalee looked around the library hoping that no one else was there to see her mistake.

How on Earth could she have not noticed that the cover of a book that she- the town librarian- had received to stock herself when it first came out had a huge problem like a type error on it’s cover?

She dreaded what she knew she had to do next.

She opened the book and as she flipped from page to page she saw that here and there the page numbers were missing, that words were misspelled and that in some places even the pen and ink pictures that were under the Chapter numbers were only partially visible.

Emalee went to the door and locked it and in a panic she went from book to book, magazine to magazine and found the same exact problem.

So just after lunch Emalee closed the Library and decided she had better talk to somebody- anybody about this awful thing she had let happen in her own library.

For years she must have been buying defective books with the towns money.

There was no hiding this- she had better talk to the person who hired her and that was the Mayor.

Down Turn’s Mayor was Mr Ferndale- the Mayor also owned the little General Store with the post office in the back and he also owned the garage and gas station just across the street.

His Offices were above the Gas Station and that’s where he was the day Emalee Cupid came in with her four defective books and two atlases with entire countries missing from the colored plates inside.

Mayor Ferndale was on the phone and he smiled as he motioned to Emalee to wait.

It didn’t seem right to Emalee to watch him so she went to the window and that’s when she saw the stop sign on the corner.

It was red- like it should be- only the words STOP were…

” What can I do for you Miss Cupid? ” the Mayor asked.

Emalee pointed out the window and found the words she need were …gone.

” Yes. They’ve been missing for a few days now, but really, I think we all know what to do at a four way corner, don’t you? Besides, it’s not like there’s a lot of traffic out there nowadays.”

Emalee walked to his desk and put the books down. ” The words. ” she whispered ” The words are missing. “

” Yes, it’s been happening all over the place. Mrs Carlyle at the Pharmacy is having quite a time adjusting but she’ll make do.”

” This isn’t right. ” she told Mayor Ferndale, you can’t just make do when words start to disappear.”

” Some of us don’t have a problem with it Miss Cupid. Some of us don’t like the clutter that’s made it’s way into our town and into our lives. And words- they’re nasty beasts. Those little monsters suck the very air out of your lungs before you have a chance to scream ” no ” and the racket they make as they tunnel their way into your brain.

It’s deafening. Deafening and messy.

 Really Miss Cupid- think about it, don’t things seem much more quiet  and orderly now?”

” No it isn’t.” Emalee went to his desk and snatched the books up and held them to her chest.Don’t you get it Mr. Ferndale? Those words aren’t clutter, they’re ideas, they’re dreams, they’re voices and if you take them away.”

” What. ” Mayor Fernadale asked

Emalee turned her full attention to the Mayor, she looked him straight in the eyes and when she did she saw the faintest outline of the bookshelf he was sitting in front of looking back at her.

” You take us away too.” she said to the faint outline of Mayor Ferndale.

” It’s for the best Emalee Cupid. You’ll see, it’s all for the best.”