Today’s Special

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Five a Day

You’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?

This took me awhile to figure out. But when I did I went straight for my bathroom mirror and kissed my reflection.

:::DRUMROLL PLEASE:::

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I would take:

J sometimes referred to in some circles as G

( old , tough and  probably gristly but  it’s soaked in wine so I’m sure it’s  good for broth making )

C

( definitely good for roasting )

S

( a little of this goes a long way )

T

( Oh, why not)

and of course

E

( no taste at all- for garnish only  )

So is this me being clever?

Do I intend to take as many food stuffs with those letters with me to the nowhere place that I’m going to be sent to?

Uh.

No.

All I can say is, I’m well schooled in human anatomy, corpses hold no fear for me I’m one hell of a cook and I’ll eat like a queen till help arrives.

You know.

Help for me.

Not them.

For them it would be too late.

 tofu turkey

And The Truth Shall Send You Straight To The Principal’s Office

Truth or Dare
Is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy?

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Of course honesty is the best policy.

Honesty earns you trust and respect.

On the other hand, we’ve seen honesty used as a blunt instrument in many a murder of the heart and mind haven’t we?

So, that led me to wonder, are you being honest when you take the truth, twist it around someone’s neck until they turn blue and their tongue pops out of their mouth and they are for sure dead?

I don’t think so, I think at that point you used honesty for your own personal gain that makes it a lie.

 

When I was a kid one of my classmates referred to me as ‘ the black cat sitting on a Cadillac’. It was a TV jingle at the time. But before you knew it I was being called a Black Cat by everyone…she would not stop. So one day I hauled off and punched her in the eye and ended up in the Principal’s office with my Teacher- who was very fond of grabbing me by hair on the top or back of my head and shaking it  from side to side to get my attention.

In fact, that’s how she got me to the office that day. Dragging me down past my classmates, other teachers and a janitor by the hair on the back of my head.

Nobody looked surprised.

So, we get into the office and the Principal and Teacher tell me, in all honesty ( they said )  that it wasn’t my classmate’s FAULT that I was different. I was told -almost kindly- by our Principal that I looked different and what I NEEDED to do was develop a sense of humor about BEING DIFFERENT from everyone else.

And then they brought my classmate in – with her Mother who they called right away ( my Mom got a note two days later) and told me I needed to apologize.

I looked into those self righteous  faces, and into my classmate’s smirking expectant one- and from the bottom of my racing little heart-  in all honesty-  and on the verge of tears said with amazement

” That shiner is a beaut, isn’t it?”

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Good Girl! Good Girl!

When was the last time someone told you they were proud of you?

 

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A few years ago I became weary of people who repeatedly told me how proud they were of me.

I’m not sure why I felt that way, but a couple of people seemed to say it non-stop and it got on my nerves.

 Not that I’m one of those people who say, ‘ I don’t care what people think  of me’ because I do. I care a lot. I guess I’m just a wad of insecurities.

But when I heard, ” I’m so proud of you.” I realized, recently, that I tell my puppy the same thing.

When he does what I tell him to do.

When he performs to my expectations.

I am so proud of him for being what I want him to be.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

Twenty-Five Seven

Good news — another hour has just been added to every 24-hour day (don’t ask us how. We have powers). How do you use those extra sixty minutes?

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I love to watch those tv shows where women are looking for the perfect bridal gown.

My favorite dresses are the ones that Gypsy women wear. They’re big and over the top and the drama behind it all…I love it. And do you know those dresses actually cause them physical pain? Bruises? Cuts?

And they do it anyway because this is the biggest day of their lives.

At least they don’t pretend otherwise. I know a lot of women who have marched down the aisle and when they got to the end of it that was it for them too.

They’ll never admit it though.

But I digress.

I noticed that the women who have a small budget and the ones who aren’t concerned about the cost have the same problem-

finding a dress.

One is hampered by the lack of funds and the other is hampered by their endless choices.

That leaves me with the question- what would I do if I had an extra hour everyday?

I could write, read, shop, eat.

In reality I think I’d sleep it away or do what most people do- I’d still be complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

So instead of having 24 hours to bitch about I’d have 25.

But if I had an extra minute- I could use that.

It only takes a minute to decide to turn left or right- that’s life changing.

And who wouldn’t like to have a chance everyday for that to be a possibility?

When This You Read Think Of Me…

Reader’s Block

What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without reading a book (since learning how to read, of course)? Which book was it that helped break the dry spell?

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I have to have a book on me.

There’s one in my purse, one in my tote bag and another in the backpack I carry my laptop in.

I change them out, but for the most part  I travel with Dickens, King and M.R James.

I won’t say I prefer books to conversations, because I really do like to talk to people. But books, I love to read them. Every chance I get.

When I get my hands on a new book I’ll read it staright through. And whoa be to the rotten books because I won’t stop reading until I’m done.

If I invest that much time in a book, I feel like I have every right to tell anyone who will listen exactly how I wasted “X” amount of time on a piece of junk and how I will go to my grave and through all of eternity regretting the decision to pick up that book ever.

Or I will say, ” I can’t believe an innocent tree died for this piece of junk”.

There are times though when I will read one book for the pleasure of it, because the words are music to my eyes and I will read it slow. One chapter a night ONLY.

That book is Great Expectations by Dickens.

I love the way he uses the language, I love every single character, I love the darkness- both in the characters and the scenes- every turning point takes place in the shadows even when the characters are in full sunlight.

Lucky for me, I’ve never suffered from Reader’s Block…but then again I have had Charles Dickens in my life for a very long time.

That’s probably why.

You And Your Hand

Counting Voices

A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?

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According to the world of Facebook, most people have at least a hundred friends and they share their feelings, their thoughts and what they ate on a daily if not hourly basis.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid my Mom use to make me check in at least once an hour. And could I call in? Oh no. I had to show up say I was checking in and then I was  free to leave.

That is, until the next check in time.

I hated doing that- and I would tell her I did which is why I found myself having to run home to check in instead of calling.

I knew I was on my way to be independent when she stopped making me check in almost hourly to every few hours and then I could call- which I forgot to do.

But in those days we didn’t have Malls or computers or parents who drove us from block to block on demand.

So me and my friends were free rangers, just like the chickens.

Looking back on it, because we were wandering around so much it made sense to have check ins. In a few hour we could easily have ended up a  mile or two from home and not just blocks.

Nowadays people obediently check in via Facebook.

And we what passes for conversation is created by you and your hand and the few words or quips you throw into your status box.

We tell people we don’t really know details about where we are and who we’re hanging out with and what we’re drinking, smoking or eating.

In other words we tell Facebook things our parents would have given their eyeteeth to know…complete with pictures.

If I have anything to say about conversations on Facebook it’s this:

My Mom would have never accepted ” notes ” in the place of check ins.

One’s presence was required at those moments. You know, you had to actually be there for it to count.

It’s a different world now, isn’t it?

It’s A Living Thing

Dictionary, Shmictionary

Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).

There’s something to be said growing up in a family where English was not the first language  on one side  and not exactly mastered ( there are no Grammar Nazis hanging in this girl’s family tree ) on the other side- what can be said is this:

If you didn’t know the meaning of a word or needed one you just asked.

No problem.

But you will always have that one person in the family who will get it wrong on purpose. Because she has mastered the perfect poker face, because she is so focused on you that she will watch you cringe, or try not to laugh or feel embarrassed for her because…

she thinks it’s funny.

And no I’m not talking about myself, I’m talking about my Mom- the slayer of syntax, the butcher of innocent words, the serial killer of complete sentences.

My Mom would have you believe she doesn’t know better, but the fact is in order for you to twist things around like that you really do have to know what you’re saying.

Of course there’s no fun in that so…

My Dad and his cousin built my dog this great dog house and he hardly used it because he was an Alaskan Malamute and we lived outside of Seattle, so the weather never got so bad he had to take shelter in it.

My cats on the other hand loved that house because it was carpeted and warm.

So it was at Thanksgiving and the family is enjoying this great meal and we’re all dressed up when my Mom looks out the kitchen window and says to my Dad and his cousin John:

” Look at those cats, they’ve taken over Sham’s dog house. I’ll bet that’s why he won’t go in it. You know what you should do Bert? You and John should build a cat house. They’d really enjoy it.”

” So would the rest of the neighborhood. ” my Grandma said.

I bit down on my fork and the evidence is my still slightly chipped front tooth. My brother slapped his forehead- hard- and my Dad and his cousin both enthusiastically   agreed a Cat House was a good idea.

” The girls could make curtains for it- ” my Mom said referring to me and my sister- she led us to believe ” and put little beds in there…”

I couldn’t stand it anymore.

” Mom! Do you know what a Cat House is?” You do right?”

My Mom shrugged. ” Of course I do. It’s where Cats live.”

” Ma! It’s where Prostitutes live…”

One of my other cousins enlightened us all ” Oh, I think they just work there,  they don’t live there.”

” Well,” my Mom went on as if she hadn’t heard us say a word. ”  I always said the best cat to have around is one that works hard- you know catching mice- so why shouldn’t they have a nice bed to sleep on and pretty curtains? “

” Mom! A Cat House is a Whore House. You know what they are right?”

” Of course I know. And I also know you weren’t listening to a word I said.”

It took me awhile to figure out what she meant. She was right. I wasn’t listening to her, I was listening at her. I knew exactly what she intended to say. So why didn’t I let it go?

So now when someone twists a word around I sort of go with it. And when I use the wrong word- it’s no sweat.

But when my Mom does it I just stand there and drop what I’m doing and watch the carnage unfold right  before my eyes.

It’s like looking at nine or ten cars right after they’ve rear ended each other on the freeway- there’s broken glass and bits of cars and Fire Engines and First Aid Cars and Police  cars all over the place- and I know I shouldn’t- but I’ll look. And then I’ll stare. I’ can’t help myself.

My Mom and her impact on language have the same effect on me.

Fish Sticks, Pirates and Me

Ready, Set, Done

10 minutes. You and your keyboard (or smartphone. Or tablet. Or pen and paper). No pauses, no edits, no looking back: it’s free-write time!

When I was little I had two goals- I wanted to write, and become a Pirate.

On most days I saw no reason I couldn’t do both.

 I was eight at the time.

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Out of my two life goals the Pirate gig seemed to be doable and practical.

I could see myself sailing a ship, bossing around a crew of scurvy sea dogs and kicking heinie  in all of the Seven Seas and a few lakes and rivers to boot.

I didn’t care so much about finding treasure, but the idea of sneaking up on another Pirate ship in the middle of the night and stealing their flag and crew?

My little old heart would race with happiness thinking about what kind of things I could do as a Pirate.

I would go to church just so I could pray like crazy for God to please make me a Pirate.

Please God, I’d pray, I don’t want to be a stewardess or a waitress or a Mom. I want to be a pirate and sail a big black ship and have other Pirates be so scared of me and my crew that they’d all stay home and I would have the Ocean to myself.

And for some reason I had it in my head that I’d leave the Ferry Boats alone and probably fishing boats too.

Fishing boats because I used to love fish sticks and unless someone went out there and fished  I figured  I’d probably starve to death and as for the Ferry Boats? Well. Back in the day my family went to Victoria BC so I didn’t see any reason to give up on  my great family vacations  – so for sure the Ferry Boats wouldn’t have to worry about me or my wicked crew.

Nowadays there are times when I’m riding the bus home for work, or when I’m in line at the grocery store and I remember those days when anything seemed possible and I thought one day I’d be a Pirate.

And after a moment or two, I think…you know…anything is possible.

After all, I did manage to become a writer ( of sorts )

So anything is possible.

Anything at all.

Time Out

One-Way Street

Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?

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If I could visit anytime, anywhere if I could leave right now I’d go into the future.

When I was a teenager I had a terrible nightmare that I woke up, covered with dust and the ground under me was solid rock and under the thin layer of gray dust it sparkled like it was covered with frost. I looked up and the sky was orange, and the sun was gigantic red and bloated. The moon was huge- it filled the sky.

The Moon hung in the East and the Sun was in the North.

I tried to scream myself awake when I realized I was in my own yard and the world was dead.

Dead and barren and airless.

And freezing cold.

Nothing was alive, not even me.

That was the future I dreamed about and to this day that image of a dead world and a dead Sun and the Moon, which was never alive was turning the wrong way.

I couldn’t tell you if  it was a million years in the future or a hundred years but to this day I wonder if that’s what the world will look like after everything is dead and gone.

So if I could time travel I’d want to go into the future. All the way to the end of time. And then I’d want to see what happens next.

Does everything start over? Or does it die and just stay dead forever?

I can’t see myself going into the past.

I know how that story goes.

But the Science Geek in me has would probably want to go to one minute before the Big Bang.

I’ve heard that it was truly a hellacious event.

Think about it.

It was quiet and dark and then all of a sudden the Universe is ripped apart and it’s guts fell out and  ta da!

Here we are.

But that minute before. Sure. I’d like to see that.

Not a minute after.

One minute before.

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I’ve worked with the dead, with loss and grief.

To me the past is a freshly dug and filled grave. I’d no more visit the past then I would take a shovel and dig up a coffin and pop it open.

But the future, all that uncharted territory, the not knowing what’s going to happen next. The surprises. The dreams that were realized ( good and bad ).  I figure sneaking a peek at the future is a lot like sneaking a peek at your Christmas presents- sure you know what you’re going to get on the BIG DAY.

But you still have to wait for the BIG DAY to get your hands on the presents.

The upshot is, I’d rather hope then go to a place where there is hope. To me the past doesn’t offer that.

The future is bursting with it.

And that’s where I’d like to go.

Once Upon A Time

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Fictional Intruder

Go down the rabbit hole with Alice; play quidditch with Harry Potter; float down the river with Huck Finn… If you could choose three fictional events or adventures to experience yourself, what would they be?

Oh where to start.

Where to Start.

If I could choose three fictional events to participate in I would:

Want to be  with Father Merrin in the Exorcist when he is standing in the desert in Iraq and he’s looking at the statue of Pazuzu and he knows that dark days are ahead.

I’d have loved to have been there with Scrooge in the graveyard when he sees his name on the tombstone  and

I’d really have liked to have taken that carriage ride with Johnathan Harker to Dracula’s Castle in the Carpathian Mountains.

I’m going to be honest here.

I would want to be that Statue of Pazuzu and have been able to have looked into Father Merrin’s eyes…I would have invited him to run, but of course I would have hoped he wouldn’t

and I’d like to have been the Ghost who took Scrooge to the cemetery to see his lonely grave and I would have told him to relax. All graves are lonely and eventually they are all forgotten

and I’d have liked to have taken those reigns and taken Harker on the ride of his life through the Carpathian Mountains. By the time I was done he would have  walked all the way back to England and Dracula would have been a different book all together.

Those are just moments in a story but I’ve been there over and over again and those moments feel like a lifetime.

There’s No Place Like ( A Funeral ) Home

Ready, Set, Done

Our weekly free-write is back: take ten minutes — no pauses! — to write about anything, unfiltered and unedited. You can then publish the post as-is, or edit a bit first — your call.

 

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When I worked at a funeral home, my view on the death penalty changed

It changed the day I walked in and we were back logged and every cot and table were full. I saw all those dead people and thought:

” Why would anyone create one of those on purpose? Nature seems to do well enough on its own.”

People commit suicide in cemeteries. I’m not sure what their reasons are but this is how I felt about the Funeral Home in general.

The living  just visit there- to me it felt like a reception area to the next world, but in the end we didn’t belong there. No way would I want that to be the last place I saw before I go one to  meet my maker.

I always felt sad when I heard those stories, because cemeteries are lonesome places. Terribly beautiful but sad.

I used to eat a lot of Pez after I embalmed a body.

I still haven’t figured that one out.

Strange as it may sound, I did have a fun day at work now and then. Like the time I had to go do a removal at a retirement center.

It was a huge industrial looking place- and as we do in most places we go through the back door.

This time there were two old guys sitting there in lawn chairs when I came out with the deceased.

They reminded me of crows- at first.

” Hey.” said one old guy, ” he was my friend.”

“Was he?” I asked, sensing that these two guys would not appreciate polite banter. So I stopped for a little chat.  ” How long did you know each other?”

” Long enough to know ” his friend sitting next to him said slapping his knee ” that this is the only time in his life he was taken out by a beautiful woman”

” Oh come on now. “

” Look, promise me this when I go come and get me. Or if you got a good looking friend at work send her. But no matter who it is, wear that dress.”

I didn’t laugh…I roared with laughter. ” Hey. There’s laws about harassing women like this you Wolves you.”

” Yea. Sure. Whatever sweetheart. I was an attorney and he was a cop and our friend there did time for robbery in his young day. You’re surrounded by them.

I considered this. ” Ok. But you should know that nobody can hit an artery faster then me.”

” Marry me . ” said my talkative friend. ” Marry me now.”

I used to visit a grave in the children’s cemetery that we called Babyland. My baby cousin is buried there. He died from SIDS back in the late 60’s.

A row down from him is the grave of a baby who died on the year and the same day I was born. For each holiday that rolled around someone came out and put out seasonal directions.

I wonder if I would have ever met him had he lived.

Remember the Tall Man from the Phantasm movies? Angus Srimm? I had a picture of him and Anubis on my desk. And wind up lady bug toy that was the size of a quarter.

I used to find my pictures on different places on my desk because people would pick them up to look at them.

But they never touched that lady bug.

GPS THIS!

Back to Life

After an especially long and exhausting drive or flight, a grueling week at work, or a mind-numbing exam period — what’s the one thing you do to feel human again?

 

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 Just before I turned 49 one of my cousins died, my Dad died, both of my dogs died and  for the first time since I began writing at age 9 I honestly could not write a word because the inspiration, the joy of it all was just gone.

Losing my ability to write was the hardest thing that happened that year, it was hard because I had always seen myself as being the person who wrote.

So with my identity in the crapper and on it’s way to wherever raw sewage gets sent ( oh sure…it ALL gets sent to a treatment plant I am SURE) my entire life came to a screeching halt.

I felt less then human on so many levels.

The first thing I tried to get back was my Writing Mojo.

Do you know the world is full of advice on how to do that? They write books about it, you can go to lectures about it, ” All you have to do, ” I was told over and over again ” is just sit down and write.”

” Oh really? ” I remember thinking. ” Wow. That’s SO obvious. Why the heck didn’t I think of that?”

Well of course it wasn’t that easy.

Most of the time I wrote snarky obituaries for people who thought it was so simple, all I had to do was just ‘sit down and write’. You know what I wanted to do? Tell them I took their advice and show them what I was writing. I remember thinking I’d lose some friends but there would be a few less red wagons in need of fixing out there in the big bad world.

So in the end, as it often is often the case, I found my own way,  sat down and started to write again.

I didn’t read advice books, I didn’t go to a meetup and talk to other writers about not being able to write.

One day I sat down here at my blog and started to read my stories.

The older stories were the first stories I wrote- and I left them as is because over the years I thought it would be cool to see how I grew as writer. I’d do a lot of them different, but why mess with the work of a writer who worked that hard? As it was, I loved those. I’m proud of them. Even if they are far from perfect.

 And then I got to the more recent ones and I couldn’t believe they were mine.

It made me want to write again so I picked up on these daily posts at WordPress. I looks forward to doing one ( or two ) a day.

Of course I don’t think I’m doing them exactly right, but what’s the worst that can happen? I can’t get fired for not following the rules and nobody is going to die over it.

 My responses are what they are.

In  the end I felt human again, like Anita Marie the writer again because I went back and found myself lost there in the weeds and ruins- and there in that mess was my writer’s voice just waiting for me.

I think I was lucky this time.

May we never part ways again.

And Nothing But The Truth

Truth Serum

You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?

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You know that saying, ” It’s funny because it’s true?” I like the truth when it comes at me like that.

I hate it when people use the truth like a mallet and bash your brains out with it and then say…”I’m only telling you the truth because I care.”

Oh really.

Anyway.

I’d use my little vial of truth serum on one of those people ( and we all know a few of them, don’t we?) and I’m sorry but I’d skip the asking part. I’d dose them and turn them loose in let’s say, I don’t know where is the last place anyone wants to hear the truth?

Oh got it.

At a funeral.

Second to that, weddings.

Funerals and Wedding are planned, they are arranged and we know how to behave and what the steps in the process of each are. We even know what we’re suppose to wear and what to say when we talk to each other.

Do you know what happens when you don’t observe the ritual as agreed upon?

You not only get voted off the island, you get sent to another island where you are buried up to your neck in the sand, your face is smeared with honey and then you are covered with ants and bees.

Nobody wants to know ‘the truth’ at these events and much in the way of reality tv I don’t expect to hear it there either.

So using this truth serum would be like lighting the fuse on a bottle rocket.

You know, you stick the bottle rocket in a bottle ( or a beer can ) then you light the fuse and wonder- is it going to go up or just blow up there on the ground and in your face?

It would be fun just like that.

Yes.

Without a doubt.

That’s what I would do- and that’s the truth.

 

 

HELP!!!!! Wanted

Ready, Set, Done

Our free-write is back by popular demand: today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less

 

I was reading one of those articles that they aim at people who are either just choosing a career path or maybe they’re looking to go on a new one.

My day job is great- there isn’t a lot of money involved, but I like the company, my co-workers awesome  and  and I like what I do.

At night I write.

Life is good.

But that article made me think outside the box. The thing of it is when I think outside the box I end up far afield. I might not learn a lot and I’m sure I’m not using the information provided as it was intended but at least I can say I enjoyed the heck of the article.

So here it is, if I could chose a dream job- if I could be anything in the world…get ready for it…

I’d be the Headless Horseman

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 I’m not particularly enchanted with the idea of getting my head cut off, but in the  past I’ve worked at jobs that broke my spirit and made me feel small and stupid so how does a little decapitation compare to that?

 Exactly.

It doesn’t.

In addition I like to be out at night- the darker the better, cold enough to rattle your bones? I’m good with it. Big plus here-  I’d get to ride a wicked horse and that takes me right back to the days when I rode motorcycles – wow- be still my heart- I’d probably get to wear leather again too.

 And of course the fun part- chasing people around who like to tempt fate and pooh-pooh what they don’t understand,

I tempt fate now and then, but I don’t wait for it to turn it’s back and then sucker punch it in the back of the head. People who act like that manage to hurt everyone around them so I think it wouldn’t hurt them to get chased across a bridge on a dark, foggy night by a demonic horse and someone who really and truly loves her job.

And as for the Pooh-Poohers?

They’re the  one’s who think they know it all because they are so enlightend of heart and intellect that they can tell themselves in all honesty that  they’re not ramming their view point down your throat because they’re actually the most vicious and intolerant human beings to walk the face of the earth and are only listening  to you talk long enough so yes…they can pooh pooh what you say..

I’d like to introduce you to my not so little friend who was created to chop off limbs and is not known for making  surgical style incisions.

Of course I’m sure there are great benefits like-

I am sure you get to travel or maybe fill in for other Headless Horseman on other Bridges or Roads. Or maybe you get to chose. That would be great.

Halloween must be awesome. I’ll bet you could arrange a take your kid to work day. Of course my kids are grown up but I do have a few cats who would probably love the ride along experience because who wouldn’t?

You get to set your own hours. From what I understand the Headless Horseman pretty much show up when they want to. Awesome.

I’ll bet the Headless Horseman get to meet some cool monsters like Werewolves and Mummies and Ghosts. My guess is that they hang out in cemeteries which is fine with me because I actually used to work in one.

Indeed.

This could be the perfect job for me.

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I’ve heard a bunch of different legends for how The Headless Horseman came to be.

But.

I think  ( at least I hope ) that somewhere there’s a piece of paper nailed to an old tree and written in dark brown ink ( because that’s what happens to blood when it turns old ) that says:

Do you have dedication, skill, flexability and determination to complete  your task at hand? Are you a self starter and self motivated?

Do you like horses and  are you willing to work late hours?

Then wait here.

We’ll be along shortly.

Open Up And Say ” Ouch “

Handle With Care

How are you at receiving criticism? Do you prefer that others treat you with kid gloves, or go for brutal honesty?

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Really? There’s a choice?

Because in the past when people have tried to help me be an all around better writer they used brutal bare knuckle honesty because hey- they care.

I would prefer the kid glove treatment but does anybody really do that?

In my experience: No.

I was in a class once where my grade on an assignment went from average to A PLUS!

How?

Well, I listened to my critics and wrote the story exactly the way they said it SHOULD be written in order for it to be CORRECT.

I gutted – and I will admit was a less then perfect but fun read-  and made it like any other piece of crud, done to death, predictable horror story. But hey that was the RIGHT way to tell that sort of story.

I moved from the back of the class to the front ( metaphorically speaking ) when I crafted little ditties that could have been written by anybody EXCEPT for me.

That’s right, my work was recognized for being great as long as I removed any trace of Anita Marie from it.

I finished the class and this is what I learned.

If you ask for help, consider it when it is given.

If you want to ‘help’ someone take the ” I would have”  You should have ” and the infamous ” This would be better if…” out of the conversation. When it comes to writing there is a lot of technical things involving structure that we should know, so that kind of advice  is gold. And in my quest to be a better writer ( which I work at everyday) I pay attention when that advice pops up on my radar.

But I do filter it out because in my mind telling somebody how to be a better writer or  how to tell their story in a ‘better way’ (which for some reason always turns out to be their way- I know weird right? ) , verges,  in my opinion on telling them how to be a better person.

I don’t view writing as something I do, it’s who I am. So with that in mind I’m always open to finding unique ways to tell a story, different styles of writing . And I’m careful that when that criticism wanders off into the weeds to treat it for what it is- grandstanding.

So I will smile and nod hold my tongue and remember I’ve been doing this for about 40 years and remember what my Grandfather used to say when  the Kid Gloves come off and the Everlast Gloves come out.

” There are always going to be some people who are harder to love then others. “

ever

Life And The World Of Secret Handshakes

Litmus, Litmus on the Wall

If you had to come up with one question, the answer to which would determine whether or not you could be friends with a person you’ve just met, what would it be? What would the right answer be?

This question might be harsh, but if you’re going to write you can’t be afraid to be harsh, to kill off your favorite character if the story calls for it or to face some painful truths about yourself.

So I’m going to give this prompt a go:

No matter how I phrase it, the question is

Would you want to be Captain of the USS Enterprise

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or

Battlestar ( Galactica )

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I’m old school, and adventurous and I really do love the strange, the campy and the unique.

The Galactica  and it’s crew are streamlined, sexy, edgy, and dare I say desperate?

Well.

Yes I do say that.

I could see myself in the world of the Enterprise, but in the Galactica  world?

I’m not sleek, sexy or dangerous. I don’t have a great set of boobs and a High IQ. I do think I look good in a mini-skirt and I’m no genius but the smarts that I have I use well.

So I’m not saying I wouldn’t make friends with someone who sees themselves as Captain of The Galactica. But I can see myself hanging out with someone who can be great in a fight and has a bunch of weird and wonderful friends.

So Beam me up Scotty and let’s go for it.

Something Wicked

Autumn Leaves

Changing colors, dropping temperatures, pumpkin spice lattes: do these mainstays of Fall fill your heart with warmth — or with dread?

 

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What’s there not to love about a dark and dreary night?

How could you not love a bitterly cold foggy morning? Or better yet a foggy night with dead dry leaves crunching under  foot as you make your way home to a fire, something warm to drink  and your favorite novel, ( or in my case for sure ) a little something by Mozart.

I do love the Spring, I love the green and the fresh cool air. It’s full of promise. It’s open and free.

But Autumn is secret and sly. It’s the bad boy in the leather jacket  who plays the guitar or rides the motorcycle- the one you’re Mom warned you about because guess what. She probably met the bad boy’s acquaintance before too.

When the Fall shows up  those flowers you planted seem to just disappear one night, the leaves on the trees turn slowly from gold to red and fall off one by one until boom! They’re on the ground and being carried away to wherever  it is winter lives.

This is the time of year  when take out our dark clothing and we put on  our hats and scarves and cover our faces. We make our way, wrapped in our shadow friendly clothing, through a world covered by low dark clouds, full of snow or rain. Now is the time we blend easily almost naturally  into the shadows and doesn’t that just make you feel…just a little wicked?

People are alive during the Spring and Summer.

But I believe during the Fall and into the Winter

Everyone wakes up.

Absolute Beauty

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We’ve all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? is all beauty contingent on a subjective point of view?

One of my friends told me about a conversation he had recently had with a woman about beauty.

She said men age with grace and that women turn into hags.

Hags.

Hag is such a bitter angry little word.

When I was young I was told I didn’t have much going for me in the face department so I should probably think about developing a talent.

I chose writing. And resigned myself to wearing a bag over my head- actually I spent a lot of time looking down. Same thing.

But on my worst day I don’t think I’d compare myself to a Hag.

Besides, I did spent a lot of time doing things where I didn’t have to worry about my lack of good looks.

I write, which is something that I do love to do. I rode motorcycles, I worked in a funeral home, I traveled. So I guess that was good. But I did most of those things alone.

But there has been a down side to my way of thinking and it’s a strange one.

I hate mirrors. I loath them. It doesn’t suprise me that there are so many superstitions about them:

… Mirror Superstitions:

  • To see your reflection in a mirror is to see your own soul, which is why a vampire, who are without a soul, have no reflection.
  • If a couple first catch sight of each other in a mirror, they will have a happy marriage.
  • If a mirror falls and breaks by itself, someone in the house will soon die.
  • Any mirrors in a room where someone has recently died, must be covered so that the dead person’s soul does not get trapped behind the glass. Superstition has it that the Devil invented mirrors for this very purpose.
  • It is bad luck to see your face in a mirror when sitting by candlelight.
  • Before mirrors, in ancient societies, if you caught sight of your reflection or dreamt of it, you would soon die.
  • Someone seeing their reflection in a room where someone has recently died, will soon die themselves.
  • Babies should not look into a mirror for the first year of their lives.
  • Actors believe that it is bad luck to see their reflection while looking over the shoulder of another person.
  • To see an image of her future husband, a woman is told to eat an apple while sitting in front of a mirror and then brush her hair. An image of the man will appear behind her shoulder

I bought my first full length mirror a month ago- and I’m almost 50 years old.

Mirrors  creep me out. I hate them. I hate that I get judged by a reflection they capture – be it the one I see myself or the one other people see.

What angers me is that the image I cast determines who will love me, if they’ll be kind to me or not, if I’ll be treated with courtesy or disdain.

Because of a reflection.

Years ago I had one of those scream myself awake nightmares.

I was walking through my house and it was full of mirrors. There were heavy ornate mirrors, cheap ones, mirrors with no frames broken dusty mirrors and hand mirrors.

I went from mirror to mirror and I saw…nothing…I didn’t cast a reflection. I couldn’t see myself in any of those thousand of mirrors.

I started ran from mirror to mirror in a panic and I was shouting, ” I’m here. Why can’t any of you see me…I’m here!”

I was trapped in this house with mirrors and because I didn’t have a reflection I felt like I wasn’t real.

Like I didn’t exist.

Is it possible to be less of a person when nobody ‘beholds’ your beauty? Do you get to be real?

More real then a reflection?

I wonder.

Me And The Toxic Baby

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If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

A few years ago my husband sent me a series of pictures he took  around New Orleans.

Most of them were tourist shots- the St. Louis cathedral, his lunch, a  Voodoo shop where you’re not supposed to take pictures ( he sent me a picture of the sign ).

And one was a picture of a bottle.

And the bottle was full of something called a Toxic Baby.

I was fascinated with that picture. I kept looking at it. Wondering about it.

I had no interest in what was inside of the bottle- I just liked the name

Toxic Baby.

So a few months later I booked a flight to New Orleans ( just in time For Halloween ) and went in search of the Toxic Baby.

When I got to New Orleans I didn’t google Toxic Baby. I didn’t ask my husband where I could find it. I just spent the week haunting the French Quarter.

I hung out at the  Saint Louis Cemetery on Basin Street, where among a lot of other history I learned you might not want to wear flip flops because what was once inside of those crypts in some cases ended up outside of the crypts and bone looks like sand when it gets smooshed and you might not want that stuff stuck between your toes.

And I also learned that when a cab, a horse-drawn cab and bicycle cab meet in an intersection and none of them can decide who has the right of way you can learn about a hundred new ways to use over used swear words.

Just in case you’re curious- the end the horse-drawn cab will win because they have whips.

If you want your Tarot cards read you can get it done right to the left or right of the cathedral doors almost on the steps themselves.

But not in front of the Cathedral itself.

You can also go to confession and end up in a bar in less then twenty steps.

I thought that was hilarious.

So I got distracted. I was there to look for the Toxic Baby and I had made no effort to even ask about it.

On my last day in New Orleans I decided to visit the Cathedral one more time ( it seemed like the right thing to do after all the time I spent in the cemetery)  and as I walked out I turned the corner of St Louis Cathedral and I found myself a few doors down from the  Pirates Alley Cafe.

Really? Pirates went to Cafe’s? Oh why not. I thought. Pirates have to eat to right?

I decided to go on in.

 None of the customers  were dressed up like Pirates that day but something about those dark walls, that long worn wooden bar and brick walls made you feel like you were a pirate.

So I head up to the bar-and there it was.

Waiting for me.

The Toxic Baby.

I took a picture of the bottle. I walked from side to side and took it in- the simple label and the promise that the drink tasted worse than it looked.

I found it, I thought.

I found the thing that brought me from Washington state all alone during Halloween.

It called to me and I went. Just because I like the way something sounded.

I remember standing there looking up at the ceiling and wondering how many other people ended up so far away from home because they liked the way something sounded.

Toxic Baby.

It’s a wicked tasting drink I’ve been told. I wouldn’t know. I don’t drink.

It was two years ago that I ended up in search of and finding The Toxic Baby.

I hung out in a graveyard. I explored VooDoo shops and toured a VooDoo museum that was housed in an actual house. I wandered around the French Quarter and ate pizza by the slice and wrote stories and took pictures and did I mention I hung out in the cemetery a lot?

I’m a suburban housewife  from a small suburban town and that  year some of my friends  to Disney World, some went on cruises others ended up in Hawaii.

I ended up in New Orleans staring at a bottle of The Toxic Baby.

And if I could get on a plane now and go back tonight-

I would.

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Home Scream Home

inter_tuber“Turn away,” the dark man groaned with a desperate look in his haunted
eyes.

She was standing next to him in that hallway that led to the basement in his own home. His own home. What a laugh. How could he have not known that monster had been under his feet for all of these years?”

That room and it’s dog- the woman standing next to him- had been master of his house all along.

” I don’t think so Chuck.”

” You’re going to kill me. ” he said. ”  The very least you could do is not look like you’re going to enjoy it so much.”

” You’re a fine one to lecture anybody about murder Chuck. And I’ve been at this way longer then you. Guess what. I wasn’t aware there were rules. Did Emily Post write a book on the subject? Because I LOVE Emily and I don’t see how that one could have got passed me.”

” You truly are evil.”

” No. I’m more of a concept. Now that basement of yours. Wow. That truly IS evil. I mean. Oh boy. It’s bad. Seriously Chuck. Did you think you were in charge of what happened down there? Really?

Because let me tell you. Do you really believe  someone who started off in this life with hurting small animals worked his way up to helpless women and children all by himself? Come on. Really. Think about it.”

” What’s down there. ” Chuck wondered out loud.

And then Chuck insisted, his voice choking tears  ” It was me. It was me. I did all of those things…me. Nothing is down there. Just me. It’s was all me.”

” You were a nightmare Chuck. ” she opened the door and pushed him through and down he fell ” Meet the dreamer.”

Good Neighbors

Writing Challenge: 

Late one night the neighbor knocked on the front door and asked……….

” Did you see what Fremont Kevlin has done this time? ” Mr Bexley howled into my face before I opened my front door all the way. ” Did you see what he has wandering around in his Apple Orchard?”

” No. I don’t like apples.” I said.

“What?”

” Don’t like apples, I have no reason to be back in his apple orchard. What were you doing back there Mr. Bexley?”

” Retrieving my property. That’s what I was doing and that’s when I saw…”

” What property?”

” My gall danged wood chipper Mrs. Baker! He backed up his truck and took my wood chipper without permission and now he’s using it to-“

” Chip wood? ” I offered.

” Were that it was that simple Mrs. Baker. Do you really think him with the bars in all of his windows would be using a wood chipper to chip wood?”

” I suppose not.”

” That man. That inconsiderate son of a- pardon my French Mrs. Baker. But he helped himself to those bags of lime from the Green’s garage, the rope and copper wire from the Henderson’s place. You said yourself your shovels seem to grow legs and wander off and my wood chipper. My son of a bitching wood chipper is gone AGAIN.

” And now he’s got that thing wandering around in apple orchard- but ugly as it is I’m sick of that man just helping himself to our private property. He’s a thief and he took my damn wood chipper-“

” Without permission. I get it. I’ll go talk to him. Again. “

I went over to my coat closet and pulled out my jacket. My hat, my gloves. I reached up onto the top shelf and pulled down hammer and wooden stake and threw them into my leather carry all case.

” Okay. Let’ s go get your wood chipper back first. I have a feeling we might be needing it tonight.”

24

Lurking in the Deep, Dark Forest

Prehistoric Gardens, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

Attention writers, bloggers, and artists of all media: if you’re looking for a prompt or a bit of inspiration this month, consider looking for what’s hidden (or lurking) among the trees.

This September Arboreality will host The Festival of the Trees issue 39 on the theme of Secrets, and you’re all invited to join me, Jade Blackwater, and bring your friends too!

The Festival of the Trees is a monthly blog carnival featuring trees and forests.  For the September Festival, our theme is Secrets:

“Forests, farms, gardens, urban trees, and ancient-rock-clinging-wind-whipped Bristlecone pine stands can be an escape, a place to hide, a space to rest, a home for buried treasure. This month, I invite you to reveal a small glimpse of a secret among the trees. Consider the quiet spots you go to sit, the trees which have stood in silent observation of the events of your life, the aromatic memory of the garden from a place you have visited. With word, image, sound, or otherwise inspired creation, give us a peek at what you see, or what you can imagine.”

Grab your free-wheeling creative license (and maybe a big, heavy club) and reveal what’s hidden in the dark, mutable forest.

Then post your creations online at your blog, photo album, or other web-based resource, and send me the link:

trees[at]brainripples[dot]com

Deadline for submissions is August 28, 2009.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Drop me an email.

(Don’t forget to drop breadcrumbs along the trail as you go!

…..wouldn’t want to get lost out there.)

Prehistoric Gardens, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

[Photos taken October 2008 at the Prehistoric Gardens]

PS – We’re still seeking volunteers to host The Festival of the Trees #40 and beyond! This is a fun way to broaden your audience, and of course – have fun in the trees.
To learn more, contact Dave (bontasaurus[at]yahoo[dot]com) and Pablo (editor[at]roundrockjournal[dot]com), and visit the Volunteer to Host page for details.

PS – We’re still seeking volunteers to host The Festival of the Trees #40 and beyond! This is a great way to broaden your audience, and of course – have fun in the trees.

To learn more, contact Dave (bontasaurus[at]yahoo[dot]com) and Pablo (editor[at]roundrockjournal[dot]com), and visit the Volunteer to Host page for details.

Doors

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Photograph(s) copyright Shaun O’Boyle

Inspired by The Soul Food Cafe Prompt:

Personality of  A Front Door

Have you ever stood in a dark hallway in a strange building all alone with a flashlight that you found rolling around in the trunk of your car?

It worked fine when you first flicked the switch on and it worked fine when you were with your friends but it was not fine when you broke away from the group to check out those doors- those doors that were shut when you first pointed your flashlight in their direction.

But you were sure that with the last weak beam of light you saw one door ajar- and you were just as sure when you turned around and the last of the light died away you saw the rest of the doors standing wide open.

What kind of things, you thought to yourself, would chose to live in the darkness- what kind of creature would wade through fetid water and be able to listen to the echoes of screaming rusted hinges that go on for ever and ever.

And what kind of monster, you thought to yourself, could stand next to those wide open doors- with the blackness streaming out-

And like it?

for more haunting and moving experience visit Shaun O’Boyle’s

Insane Asylum

In The Woods Behind Riversleigh

Inspried by ” Sybil In Wonderland” a Riversleigh Adventure

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Never get lost in the woods behind Riversleigh Manor- it wasn’t exactly a warning; it was more like a statement.

Never get lost behind the woods of Riversleigh Manor.

Juniper Pringle had heard those words her entire life- her Mother would say them to Juniper and her sisters before they left for school in the morning, her Father would say the same words when they went out to play in the evenings and Juniper Pringle would say them one day to her own kids.

One day as Juniper said them to her son Tennyson she really heard them and Tenny really listened and he asked, ” Why? “

And those words that rolled so easily from the tongue to the ear finally came together and Juniper said, ” The trees are alive. “

Tenny Pringle nodded as if what his Mother had just told him made all the sense in the world and as Tenny Pringle walked out of his Mother’s house and into the wood behind Riversleigh she knew that was the last she’d ever see of her son.

And she was right.

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Juniper Pringle drove out to View Ridge a month after her son disappeared.

The Ridge is where Juniper went to a Mom and Pop Country store that still sold Soda Pop in glass bottles and that’s where she bought matches and gasoline- two can of gasoline to be exact.

Mrs. Country Store wished her a nice day and Juniper turned around and smiled and when Mr Country store saw that woman’s face he almost reached down for the gun he kept under his cash register and that awful feeling that woman gave him that afternoon never really left his bones.

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All right, Juniper told herself as she walked away from an almost certain death  that morning- it wasn’t like people hadn’t been warning each other for years about the Woods.

It wasn’t like nothing bad had ever happened back they’re before; it wasn’t like someone from Bindweed walking into the woods and not walking out was something that happened ” Once Upon a time “

It happened all of the time…over and over again.

It’s just that sometimes- and it was simple…some  people just never learned.

Like the people right here in Bindweed-

They all knew how bad those Woods could be and what did they do?

Did they try to figure out why the trees were bad or what the woods wanted or exactly why they put up with those trees taking them one by one whenever they felt like it?

No.

Not once-

Juniper went into the woods and came out the other side…on the Bindweed side and when she came to the outskirts of her own home town she took her matches and her ax and her cans full of gasoline out of the back of her Jeep.

Later she wondered- as the trees in Bindweed lit up like torches- if the flames would spread into the Woods Behind Riversleigh-

She wondered at last.

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Devilbit Lake

 

Inspired By The Soul Food Cafe Alphabet Writing Prompt:

 “B is for the Blade of Grass”

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Baneberry Troublefield use to live out on Down Turn Road back when Down Turn was the only road going though Feverfew County. Now days you know that Feverfew is this historical place and people come from all over the world to see Devilbit Lake because it happens to be the deepest lake that exists anywhere in the world.

Devilbit Lake is bottomless and cold and shines green no matter what color the sky above it and it shines brighter by moonlight.

I’ve heard that Scientists think it’s some weird kind of algae that makes the Lake glow like that, but as much as I respect science I’d have to say in this case it’s a bunch of hooey and they WISH it was algae. If it were true then that would mean that Baneberry Troublefield was wrong and that would restore order to anybody’s universe after hearing Baneberry tell his story.

Baneberry was about 10 when his family moved out to Feverfew, his Father was a Doctor and his Mom was a nurse and they both worked at the Feverfew Sanatorium. They treated patients with these incurable diseases like TB and Leprosy back up there in the hills because that little town wasn’t even on the map and no one seemed to be in a hurry to tell the rest of the world it was there.

Feverfew Sanatorium wasn’t a bad place you know. It was just sad and lonely and packed from the basement to the attic where the Chapel was with people who never expected to leave its walls alive and most of them didn’t.

The Patients at Feverfew spent their days in beds or in little rooms with dark hardwood floors and windows that were never opened. But all of those windows looked out on the Lake because it was suppose to help remind the patients that the world was still out there.

Most of them asked, after a while for the curtains to be drawn because they didn’t want to see the Lake anymore. One of them told Baneberry’s Mom “ Nurse Troublefield, it’s that Lake. It feels like it’s watching me. And that awful man who sits on that rock…” they’d shudder and say, “Please shut the curtains”

After awhile Nurse Troublefield hardly ever opened them anymore.

No one asked why.

One day when the ward was empty and being made ready for the next group of unfortunates to be brought up (by train in those days) she found herself idly staring out the window when she noticed the lake was perfectly still. There wasn’t a wave or a ripple or as much as a cat’s paw making it’s way across the bright green water. She reached up for the cord to pull the curtain closed and the perfectly still green lake…

Waited.

That was it, Devilbit Lake was waiting Nurse Troublefield decided, to see who would move first. Only the lake was a body of water so how could it be waiting? She knew it was true, the Lake was waiting, who would move first?

The air around her got warmer and she could feel the sweat start to run down the back of her neck, she could feel it under her arms and her mouth was dry, dry and dusty. She wanted to itch her nose in the worst way but she refused to move and just as she was about to turn away the lake shifted just a little and she reached up and pulled the cord so hard the rod came down on her head.
After that day it was War.
 

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Nurse Troublefield made it her business to chart the Lake just like she would one of her Patients. She saw Nurse Martinez who was standing with her back to the window and talking to one of the Patients look over her shoulder several times in just a few minutes before she walked away from the window.

She watched Dr Grayford staring out the window for the longest time and when he turned around his pupils were so large that his eyes almost looked black and his skin was pale.

“ I thought I saw a man down there, sitting on the rock” Dr Grayford said “ but he wasn’t really there. I mean, “ he looked back out the window and back at Nurse Troublefield and then he walked out of the ward.

Dr Grayford rode the Corpse Train that night to the next town of Sherry and never came back to work again. Nurse Troublefield heard later that he left medicine all together and took over his family’s dairy farm.

It didn’t take long for Nurse Troublefield to fill almost 400 pages in her logbook with notes concerning the affect the Lake had on the staff and the patients at Feverfew. She spent all day going over them and then she decided it was time a closer examination.

Nurse Troublefield went down to the Lake itself and stood as close as she dared to it’s edge. The water was dark green at the edges and the further out towards the center it was lighter.

It was very quiet and pretty and she started to feel silly. After all, she’d let herself get worked up over water. It’s not like it had teeth or claws or could rob you at gunpoint. It was just still, quiet water.

That’s when she saw the man at the edge of the Lake for the first time. He was sunning himself on a rock and fishing. His hat was pulled down over his forehead and she thought he was whistling but then she realized the sound she was hearing wasn’t coming from him…it was coming from the Lake.

It hummed and echoed in on itself and the thick green water turned slowly in the center and the little spirals reached out and then were pulled back down again.

The man noticed Nurse Troublefield and stared back at her and sat there as still and as unreadable as the Lake.

Nurse Valaria Troublefield was use to that look, that emptiness, it was a death’s mask and it didn’t throw her off balance for a second. “It’s a lovely day to fish, isn’t it? “ She said.

The man said nothing in reply but he didn’t look away either.

“ You’re not here to catch fish though, are you?”

The man lifted his head and she could see his burned peeling lips and the dust and grime around his cheeks and mouth. He smiled and turned back towards the water.

“ My Patients at the Sanatorium up on the hill, they think the Lake is watching them, that it wants them. Some of the staff has seen things that have made them run away from their jobs and homes without a second thought.”

“ I think those are the smart ones. They’re the ones who got away. Aren’t they?”

The pole fell not with a splash into the water but with a small hollow click, and as the man stood up his movements were more spider like then human.

He turned to the Nurse and said to her, “ Come on in, the Water’s fine.”

Then he walked off the rock and was pulled down into the water and Nurse Troublefield thought of Quicksand as the water closed over the man’s head.

There wasn’t as much as a bubble, a ripple or a sound from the Lake but if it could have the Nurse was sure it would have been laughing. Worse yet, she really believed him…she really believed the water was fine and she almost followed him in.

Almost.

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As the days and weeks wore on it wasn’t just the people at the Sanatorium that began to notice the Lake. Stories about the Fisherman started and he began to not only show up at the Lake’s edge he started to show up on the Feverfew Loop Highway.

People would stop to ask the old man if he needed help and he would lean into the car and tell them, “ Come on in, the Water’s fine. “ and then he would straighten up and somewhere on the car would be a watery handprint that would be visible for days no matter what you did to wipe it away.

The rest of the people he talked too just disappeared and all they ever found of them were their cars or bikes or shoes somewhere near the lake.

So the question most people ask Baneberry Troublefield is, who is the Old Man and what is his connection to the Lake? Did he die there? Is he a ghost?

Baneberry has his own theory and I’ll take his word for it.

“ That old man, he’s a Bimini Twist” He’ll tell you.

“ A what?” You’ll ask.

That’s a non-slip double line fisherman have to use when they go for game like big billfish. Anyway that’s what he is. He’s an honest to goodness Bimini Twist; I don’t think he’s the bait. That’s what the Lake is. That Lake, it gets your attention. But the old man…he’s what brings you in.”

“ So who’s out there fishing Baneberry?” you’ll probably laugh.

Baneberry will laugh back at you and say, “ Why don’t you go out and see for yourself, I’ve heard the Water is Fine.”

That will stop you from laughing and trust me, it will stop you from pulling your car to the side of the road to offer help to little old men with fishing poles in their hands.

I hope.

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It Started Here….

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Here are some links to Story Starters that inspired me

to write the stories you can find here at Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge

FYI

They weren’t ‘strange’ until I got my hands on them…

 trust me…anybody can use them

so

!HAVE FUN!

Story Starters

Ceremony Of The Mirror

Descansos

The Deserted Farmhouse

Walk Inside A Painting

Not Quite Alice

The Lonely Ones

Soul Food Cafe Home Page

Below The Bridge

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What would bring you out to Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge so late at night?

How strange, you sat in your car and waited for the the sunset.

You waited for hours.

Which makes me wonder

What did you come looking for here in the darkness under Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge?

Evidence of Misdeeds? Dark Secrets? Murder? Mayhem?

The Devil?

Me?

How interesting… how puzzling…how amusing.

Under the Bridge is bad enough by daylight- in the evening it’s Hell on Earth.

Sometimes I go down there for stories and it’s days before I can sleep through the night again.

Days.

So I think I’ll wait for you in your car, where it’s dry and warm and dark.

When you get back we’ll chat.

It’ll be a scream.

amm

Say Goodnight

Welcome to Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge Oscar, I think you’re going to feel right at home.

amm

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Cat predicts deaths of nursing home residents

By Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours.

His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

“He doesn’t make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,” said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one,” said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He’d sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.

Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. “This is not a cat that’s friendly to people,” he said.

Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill

She was convinced of Oscar’s talent when he made his 13th correct call. While observing one patient, Teno said she noticed the woman wasn’t eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.

Oscar wouldn’t stay inside the room though, so Teno thought his streak was broken. Instead, it turned out the doctor’s prediction was roughly 10 hours too early. Sure enough, during the patient’s final two hours, nurses told Teno that Oscar joined the woman at her bedside.

Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, gray-and-white cat are so ill they probably don’t know he’s there, so patients aren’t aware he’s a harbinger of death. Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.

No one’s certain if Oscar’s behavior is scientifically significant or points to a cause. Teno wonders if the cat notices telltale scents or reads something into the behavior of the nurses who raised him.

Nicholas Dodman, who directs an animal behavioral clinic at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and has read Dosa’s article, said the only way to know is to carefully document how Oscar divides his time between the living and dying.

If Oscar really is a furry grim reaper, it’s also possible his behavior could be driven by self-centered pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person, Dodman said.

Nursing home staffers aren’t concerned with explaining Oscar, so long as he gives families a better chance at saying goodbye to the dying.

Oscar recently received a wall plaque publicly commending his “compassionate hospice care.”

 

Remember That Time We Thought We Were Dead?

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When I was 18 ” Twilight Zone- The Movie” came out.

Can’t say I LOVED it but Dan Aykroyd ( he had the part as the ambulence driver ) was a favorite actor of mine so I enjoyed it- but what I really liked was the last line he had in the movie- which you can see here…in a minute.

This little snapshot of my life takes place a couple of weeks after I saw the movie.

My friend and I were stopped at a red light in his car when a drunk driver rear ended our car and my friend and I both ended up in the same ambulance together.

It was not a good scene…there was blood there was fear and both of us thought the woman in the car that hit us was dead because we never saw them take her out of her car.

We never saw another ambulence show up and we never heard anyone call for one.

And I felt like I was drowning on dry land.

The Paramedics told me I was having trouble breathing  because my ribs were probably cracked 

My friend is scared out of his mind  and going through his own Hell because for some reason he couldn’t see out of his right eye (to this day he still can’t see out of that eye and they never found out why).

And if this wasn’t enough my ears are ringing so bad I’m about ready to have a serious hissy fit when the ambulance driver turns around to reassure me it’s going to be okay…. and he looks just like Dan Aykroyd.

Swear to God…

Here’s the part where you have to watch the clip to the end and you’ll hear what I said and you’ll see what I saw and you can go ahead and laugh.

My One-Eyed Friend and I do…

but there’s an Ambulance driver out there somewhere who probably talks about that time this kid turned to him with blood running from her ears and said…” Hey Man…-“

go ahead, hit the arrow and find out.

 

Via 2nd Ave Extension South

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This is 2nd Ave in Seattle, Washington.

It’s more then just a street…

I find stories here all of the time.

Strange ones.

a.m.m.

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Second Avenue Before The Fire

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During The Fire

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 after the Fire

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and what lies beneath

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Photographer’s notes: “Mineral palace Great Northern Celebration July 8 1893” “Pavilion Pioneer Square. Celebration of Completion of the Great Northern Ry July 3 1893”.

I put this here because my Grandfather told me that a man was buried under those steps alive (of course) in vault after he was caught cheating in a game of cards that didn’t involve money.

 Grandpa told me he was sure the man could probably hear the construction going on above him but that no one could hear him screaming-

so my Grandfather claims.

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 In 1903 The Ringling Brothers Circus came to Seattle and elephants walked down  2nd Ave.

That’s another story I grew up on because some of my family members were there that day and they saw those elephants and the Circus Performers walking down the middle of the street that I now cross every day to catch my bus.

100 years almost to the day I hear a story from who woman sees the Ringling Brothers train come through Seattle.

 The train is pulling empty animal cages and travel cars and Big Top rigging on flat beds. She remembers lace curtains in the private cars and the faded circus logo painted on anything that could hold paint.

She says she still doesn’t know how to explain the feeling she got when she realized she didn’t see one person moving around in the passenger cars or in the engine car or getting on or off the train the entire time it was stopped right off her loading dock.

Not a Soul.

True story.

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( Luna Park )

The Luna Park Fire– if my Grandfather or Aunt told me a good ghost or murder story they always tied it to the Luna Park Fire and DIRECTLY to the Famous Looff  Carousel.

After years of being scared out of my mind by those stories I was glad ( in a very malcious way ) when they came to the part when the Park burned down- but the part that always haunted me was the part about how the Carousel gets away.

        Specifically, how it always seems to get away.

The Carousel’s Weird Story starts when the famous Carousel craftsman Charles Looff built it in 1906. The Carousel was supposed to be sent to an amusement park in San Francisco- but it was re-routed to Seattle because of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.

(Escaped was the word my Grandfather used) 

It was installed in Luna Park in 1907 and it was the only thing to survive the Luna Park Fire in 1911.

(Escaped was the word my Aunt used and she insisted they moved it at dark)

 It was purchased by a private collector in the 1970’s and put in storage in New Mexico- Roswell, New Mexico and I am NOT making that up.

That Carousel is still around- it’s in San Francisco and I wouldn’t go near it for neither love or money.

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So there’s my 2nd Avenue in Seattle-

some of these places I’ve told you about are on it

or under it or just a few blocks down

from it.

That Street

 haunted me and inspired me for my entire life and I guess that should make sense because

 I was born in Seattle

and I know she has

strange and weird ways

 of speaking to you

and

of claiming you

and of making you her own.

Which is not a bad thing at all.

amm

Saturnina Hits The Deck

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Back in 1947  when I was a kid, I saw that thing they pulled out from under The Bridge.

You know- that thing they wrote about in all the papers.

They pulled it up from the Creek late at night, when they thought no one would be out there- and if anyone was passing by they wouldn’t catch much because back then there were no lights as opposed to the three street lights they have there now that burn out every other month.

So anyway, I’m standing there with my Grandmother who shot the thing with her rifle and with her Sister who was the reason we had ‘ that problem with the thing under the bridge’ to begin with.

” The problem with you ” my Grandmother hollered –  she had to yell because all you could hear was screeching and swearing coming from below-  ” Is your drinking !”

I could see Tia Saturnina smirking, ” What? I can’t hear you! ” She yelled back over screams and people shouting, ” it burns, it burns!”

” And your gambling. So which is this time? Both? How did you end up with that? ” my Grandmother jabbed her finger down towards the dry creek bed below.

” Things went a little sideways for me in a card game and so what? it happens to the best you know.”

My Grandmother’s jaw dropped and then her eyes got all narrow and squinty and before I knew it  my Grandmother shoved her Sister over the railing.

Saturnina went overhead first and the only reason she didn’t wind up down in the gully with a broken neck was that my Grandmother had her by the waistband on her jeans.

” That thing down there? Where did it come from? ”

” How the Hell am I suppose to know? What do I look like to you? God Damned Howard Koch? Let me up you crazy old bi-”

My Grandmother yanked and Tia popped back up. When she stood upright on her own Tia Saturnina’s eyes rolled up into her head and then she spun around and got sick over the railing.

When she was done a few minutes later, she said as she was still hanging over the railing, ” Wow, there was three of them? ”

” There were seven but guess who ran into the other four out on Old Creek Road? ”

” Uh-oh.”

” Get them back into the truck, get them out of here and then do something about that mess they made under the bridge. It’s making people sick.”

” Oh, and what about me? It’s not going to make me sick?”

My Grandmother handed me her gun and she put her nose right up to Tia’s and she said ” Now Saturnina…move it now.”

“Fine. Whatever you say. Now. Is that right? Now not later?”

“That’s right.”

 My Aunt started to walk away and then she stopped and walked back to us. When they were toe-to-toe again she gave my Grandmother a long and grim look and then she took my Grandmother’s gun from out of my hands and headed down the road.

From behind her back I saw my Grandmother pull out a small revolver and I heard her mumble over someone yelling for his Mother and Jesus ” Just stop and mouth off one more time…please…”

I don’t know if she actually heard my Grandmother because there was this long metallic screeching coming from something being dragged up the other side of the rock lined gully but Tia seemed to raise the shotgun up in reply and was almost swallowed by the dark at the end of the Bridge when it occurred to me that this time she might not come back to wherever it was she was being sent to.

I couldn’t count how many times she had climbed in through our windows in the middle of the night with her hair either cut or dyed or both and how many times she’d drop her purse or jacket and a gun would go off or a knife would open up and get stuck in the hardwood floor or make a hole in the couch.

This time it seemed that it was more possible then all of those other times that Saturnina might not come back with presents from places like South America or Egypt or those little Islands in the South Pacific where she and my Grandmother were from.

I might not get anymore shrunken heads (of course they’re fakes she’d say as she’d toss a few of them to me over the dinner table) or dolls with pointed bits of broken bone for teeth and real human hair.

And worse then not getting the presents or hearing her great stories about card games that took place in graveyards and ghost towns and morgues was the thought she could disappear right now and I’d have no idea where it was she had left for on that night they brought pulled those things up from under The Bridge.

So I ran until I caught up with her and when I did she didn’t slow down and she didn’t even pretend to care how upset I was.

” Tia, Tia,” I asked “where are you going?”

” Your Grandmother is sending me out to rid the world of one less problem- never mind this could spell the end for me because that woman thinks I’m the source of all that is evil.”

I stopped and then Tia stopped and looked down to where she thought I was standing. She looked back and boy was she disgusted. ” No-of course not.”  she snapped ” not ALL of it anyway.”

” When will you be back?” I demanded.

She sounded like she knew, but she also didn’t like the tone in my voice so she said ” Don’t know, when I’m done I guess.”

” Come on.” I said trying to sound hurt and defenseless ” please tell me I’ll be worried.”

” Brother…if we could bottle the BS this family spews we’d be the richest fertilizer company on the planet.” Tia looked up and said, ” Somebody screwed me in that game kiddo and there’s gonna be Hell to pay. When I’m done collecting I’ll be back. I promise.”

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Saturnina came back a month or so later with presents and a story about how she settled up a score over a game of cards that went sideways for her in a little town called Roswell.

 

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Based on the Soul Food Cafe

Writing Prompt

The Watsons

Snapshot

Inspired by The Soul Food Cafe Story Prompt

Walk Inside A Painting

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” Somebody will find out, won’t they? ”

” Not a chance ” he told her.

” What we did was awful, wasn’t it?” she asked.

” I’ll say.”

” We can never go back. You know that don’t you? ”

” I figured as much.”

” Are you sure, are you positive nobody will ever find them? No one will ever find out what we’ve done? ”

The man told her, ” Nobody is as sick as we are, no one will ever figure out what we did to them.”

” I can promise you that.” He said. ” I can promise you that.”

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 ” That’s a weird picture ” Livia’ s niece said as she handed the small tinted photograph to her Aunt.

They were rummaging through a box of old pictures and postcards at the Curiosity Emporium where Tia sold the antique books she collected on her travels.

It was a nice shop- it was quiet and a little messy and even though the air was dry it there was always the smell of mold and freshly turned earth coming from the backroom.

Livia took the picture from Akela and as she did their fingertips touched and Akela tried to not yank her hand away.

Tia Livia killed a man in a poker game once- it was a story that floated around at picnics and barbeques the occasional baby shower and other family events.

Akela wasn’t sure if she was hearing the same story with different variations on the theme, but it seemed like there were lots and lots of stories involving Tia Livia creating lots and lots of dead bodies.

Once Tia Livia heard her brother telling the poker story to some of his friends as they were roasting hamburgers and Tia came up from behind them and practically screamed that was a lie.

” Tell the story right Leo or don’t tell it at all ”

She had killed two men and a woman, Livia said between bites of cheeseburger ” Trust a man to underestimate the power of a woman ”

” She B.S’s all the time. ” Leo told his friends ” don’t believe her. Sure Liv. Two men AND a woman. At the same time. God, you are such a fibber.”

Tia spat a chunk of her burger out onto the ground and Leo smirked and went back to his barbaque.

Akela doubted Livia would ever hurt any of her own family but sometimes when Akela looked at Livia’s scared and slightly mashed hands she always felt a little trickle of sweat run down her shoulder blades.

Livia looked down at the faded picture and said with a laugh ” Well don’t those two look like they know where the bodies were chopped up and buried? ”

And as Livia let the picture fall from her fingers back into the box of photos the sound it made as it rustled into place almost sounded like someone whispering,

” You promised.”

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That Daughter Of Yours

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” That daughter of yours- she’s a quiet one, isn’t she? ” The 6th Grade teacher at Old Creek Elementary School said to Mr. and Mrs. Erbin at the last Parent- Teacher Conference” I don’t think I’ve heard her say more then four words in the entire time she’s been a student here. “

Mr and Mrs. Erbin looked at each other and before Mr. Erbin could open his mouth to reply Mrs. Erbin snapped, ” And whose side of the family do you think that problem came from? “

” Like I was the one responsible for wiring her brain.” Mr. Erbin pushed his face staight into his Wife’s face and they glared at each other.

” Really Mr. Erbin- nobody in this room had the sole responsibility for-” Mrs. Snodgrass wasn’t sure if she was repeating what she heard correctly so she said with a little hesitation ” for wiring Cynbel’s brain.”

Mrs. Erbin shrugged and looked up at the ceiling and smirked, and that one little gesture seemed to push Mr. Erbin straight into Angersville Population 1 where he became the Mayor upon arrival.

” We both had a hand in our daughters development Mrs. Snodgrass. We studied and observed, we took classes and tests we asked questions and attended more lectures until we were positive, confident that we could raise a healthy, intellectually superior child. And do you know what we have here?”

Mrs. Snodgrass was too polite to say what they had here.

” Cynbel eats bugs, she only takes a breath once every six hours and one of her eyes is permmantly shut. I’m sure that you’re  aware she won’t the touch the food on her plate unless it’s moving. Do you know what it’s like to have to sit next to your child and jiggle her plate so she’ll eat? “

” Go ahead and tell her who came up with that nifty little idea.” Mrs Erbin muttered.

” It worked, didn’t it? “

Mrs Snodgrass looked at both of the Erbin’s and shook her head- just a little.” Mr Erbin…we have the means to help your daughter -“

Mr. Erbin shouted, ” Our daughter is beyond help Mrs. Snodgrass because our daughter is like a science experiment gone horribly wrong. You must be able to see that.”

Mrs Erbin looked liked she was going to pick something up and hit her husband with it.” Anybody with eyes in their head can see that you insensitive fool. Go ahead and tell her whose project it was. “

 

 

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inspired by the Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt

Duende