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:::

drum

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

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.

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.

Be Still My Beating Heart

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It’s October! Do you know what happens to my heart in October?

My heart races, it pounds, it screams out – well it would if it had a mouth, but you get the point.

October, as I was saying causes my heart to go a flutter, it skips beats if it wore pearls it would be clutching them and it would say – you know, if it had a mouth,

“Lord, I am just beside myself. There’s so much to do. Lord take me now because there’s no way I’m going to be ready for Halloween.”

That’s what my heart does in October.

It goes wild.

Sometimes I think it’s going to blow up and then what will I do,  you may be wondering.

Well, let me tell you.

I’ll have to go out and get a new one, which is not exactly an easy job and then I” ll have to wash the jar out that I kept the old one in (yuck) and stick it in there.

Finding a new heart is no small task, but you do what you have to do.

Even though I am strapped for time that’s the way I roll.

So. Be still my heart. I mean it. I do not have time for you.

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

halloween13d

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

toxicbaby

 

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.

French Quater 11-01-12 134

Diary Of Delirum ( More Stories From Riversleigh Manor )

The Spider Enters

The Parlor

livi

When she returned to Riversleigh

the lights were on, the windows were opened to let in the fresh crisp  air and the birdsong and of course the music that Riversleigh River makes as it winds its way by the big grand house.

She stopped before making her way to the door and for a moment, and for just a second  the Sun seemed to fade, the air grew colder the birds stopped singing.

She sighed

looked up to the house with no expression on her shadow enshrouded  face and walked  forward to the door.

She hesitated and then:

She knocked and the sound, that short brief knock, boomed through the halls, it rattled the windows and somewhere in the house- someone said:

” Throw another log on the fire. Winter is here.”

 

The Party You Are Trying To Reach

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A week after his wife, Leah Frost ran over a dog- wich was actually a euphemism between husband and wife for ‘the woman you hit with your car and dragged for almost a mile down a gravel road’  Sal Frost was nearly driven to running over and dragging his wife down a gravel road when Leah  started to hear the ringing phone.

Sometimes the phone- which she said had one of those oldfashioned ringtones- and not one of the new ones that you could download on your cellphone that sounded like chickens or maniacal clown laughter or something by Mozart- rang while she was in the bathroom washing her hair, or when she was reaching for a carton of cranberry juice out of the cooler at the grocery store and sometimes it seemed to come from right beneath her feet when she was in the kitchen pouring herself another glass of wine ( which she did a lot of since she ran over ‘the dog’)

On these occasions, if he was around she would grab his arm and whisper frantically ” can you hear it Sal? Can you hear that phone ringing?

After the millionth, it could have been the billionth time for all he knew at this point, Sal looked at her with a look that shouted, “if I hear about that phone one more time…just one more time Leah I’m going to put you in the same ditch with that “dog”…do we understand each other? Are we clear on that?

They did understand each other. Perfectly. So instead of saying anything about a ringing phone Leah’s eye would twitch like crazy and on some occasions the entire left side of her face would twitch and Sal would glare at her and she would not say a word.

He didn’t care if that drugged out dingbat he was married to went into a grand mal seizure as long as she shut the hell up about that ringing phone.

“Really Sal? “He would ask himself as he would watch his wife  standing by the mail box or smoking one of her several packs of cigarettes a day.

Did you really sign up for this?

And when he considered his wife’s talent for scoring a smosgasbord  of pharmaceuticals on a monthly basis from one of her several Doctors  that had in all probability led her to running over ‘the dog’ and he wondered…

What the hell was life going to be like when she hit 70 in a few years? Would hitting the big seven-oh slow her down? He thought not. In Leah’s universe there was still plenty of time left to run over ‘dogs’ or overdose on whatever the hell she was taking that week and would she do it in the privacy of their home?

Oh no.

She’d probably do it at the Opera like last time, or at the art museum like the time before or the three or four times it happened at poetry readings. For God Sakes.  Who the Hell OD’s at poetry readings?

His wife. That’s who.

Sal looked up and wished he had the nerve to walk into her bathroom and start opening bottles in her medicine cabinet and start throwing the contents back into his throat until what was left of his life was burned out of his bones once and for all.

After one such thought- and there were several like that around the Frost household now days Sal was outside when he heard…faintly from the back yard a phone ringing.

Not one of those new ringtone that sounded like robots or singing birds or cats meowing.

It was an old-fashioned ringtone it was deep and rich and trilled as it ended, briefly before starting back up again.

He walked slowly to the back of his house and he could hear it- it was louder but not by much. He walked all the way to the fence line and there…it was louder here.

It was coming from the house next door.

The old abandoned house next door with among the other messages and spray can artwork on the walls was something written on the ceiling. It said,

” We’re so cold here.”

But he could hear it ringing now, it was non-stop and it was so loud.

So he walked into the house through a side door that led into a kitchen with a sink and a wooden chair in the center of the room and one the window ledge there was of course…

a phone.

And it was ringing.

The wires were neatly coiled next tot the phone and  the receiver was off the cradle and yet…it was ringing Sal noted with wonder.

Sal walked over to the phone lifted the receiver to his ear and a calm, cool women’s voice asked hin if he would accept the charges.

” Wh-what?”

” Person to person call from Riversleigh Manor to Mrs Leah Frost, will you accept the charges?”

” Who is this? “

” Sir. I have a person to person call from Riversleigh Manor to Leah Frost. Will you accept the charges?”

Sal looked around the kitchen, could see the writing on the ceiling in the next room and the phone, the dead phone sitting on the window ledge in front of him. ” My, my wife isn’t here. This isn’t our house. I…I…”

” Sir. I have…”

” Fine I heard you. But how can a house be calling my wife person to person?” It occurred to Sal nobody should be able to call into a dead line and nobody should be able to answer it. But at this point Sal wasn’t tracking those little details.

” Sir I have a person to person call from Riversleigh Manor to Leah Frost. Will you accept the charges.”

Sal nodded. ” I mean yes sure. I’ll accept the charges.”

” Thank you sir. Riversleigh you may proceed with you call.”

Sal never saw the face of the person who rammed their fist through his back and into his ribcage. Never felt the hand yank his heart out and let it fall to the dusty floor.

And Sal was way beyond seeing anything anymore when  a small foot, a woman’s booted foot stepped on it.

” I’m sorry Riversleigh.” The Operator said over the dead receiver. The party you are trying to reach is no longer on the line. Shall I try again?”

And then a voice, neither male or female, cool and dry whispered over the line.” No. No that’s fine. I’ll try again later. Only next time I do believe I’ll call direct. “

 

The Riversleigh Stories

are Inspired by

The Soul Food Cafe

Adventures

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.

Dehiscent

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.

A Lesson Learned In The Twilight Zone

For me- as a writer- this closing scene from an Twilight Zone Episode titled

” Will The Real  Martian Please Stand Up”

taught me to not only look under the bed or into the closet to find the monster so that I could write about it

it taught me to get under the bed or into the closet and THINK like one.

Enjoy.

During a snowstorm, two state troopers are investigating a crash and are led to believe that it was a UFO. They follow footprints leading from the crash site to a diner, where a group of passengers from a bus to Boston are waiting for word that a bridge up ahead is safe to cross. Though the only patrons of the roadside eatery are bus passengers, there is one more diner than there were people on the bus. There is mutual suspicion among the stranded travelers, as the passengers each try to guess which among them is the alien. When they get permission to go across the bridge, however, they all leave.

Shortly, the businessman played by John Hoyt returns to the diner and tells the cook that the bridge collapsed and the bus and police car fell in killing all aboard the bus and the policemen. As the cook wonders how the businessman survived, he also notes that his clothes are not even wet. Soon the businessman unveils his third arm and stirs his coffee with his third hand, telling the cook that he is a Martian, and revealing that Mars plans to start a colony on Earth. Laughing, the cook tells him that he’s too late, and by taking off his paper hat and revealing his third eye, reveals that he is from Venus, which has already started a colony, and that the Martian invasion force has been intercepted.

Episode no. Season 2
Episode 64
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Montgomery Pittman

 

Once Upon A Nightmare

” Once I had a nightmare ” my friend Bonnie told me ” about this witch who tried to break into my house “

” Okay, ” I tell Bonnie thinking this sounds like a good story to kill that long bus ride home from Seattle ” so how did it go? “

“Well, in my dream I heard my dog crying and in my dream I woke up and went and looked out my bedroom window. “

” And your dog was…”

” Hanging from a tree. “

” Like Hell you say. “

” It’s true, so I tried to run down my hallway to help get her out of the tree but the floor was gone and all I saw where the floor should have been was this dark pit filled with people with snake’s eyes and they were talking to me in a language I couldn’t understand.”

” I really hate it when that happens…” Bonnie looks at me a little strangely and I say ” you know… in my dreams.”

” Well sure.  So anyway I go back to my bedroom and crawl out my window and then I fall into my rose bushes. “

I turned that image over in my mind a few times..

Bonnie isn’t into breaking a sweat for any reason- she wouldn’t run wouldn’t run from Lizzie Borden  swinging an ax to save her own  life so I couldn’t begin to imagine her crawling out of a window.

I smiled and encouraged she went on.

” When I get outside there’s this woman standing by Tippy and she’s got her back turned towards me. As much as I want to help Tippy I don’t want her, whoever she is, to turn around.”

” No. ” I tell Bonnie. ” You certainly do not want that.  It’s a psychology thing…”

” Yeah well, she doesn’t turn around. She just reached up and grabs Tippy by her neck and yanks down. “

” Damn. ” I say ” So what did you do?”

” I run back to my front door and just as I run through it, the door slams shut and I throw myself against it…and I can feel the knob turning in my hand and just before it opens I lock it.”

” Good for you. “

” It didn’t matter, because the door swung open and pushed me back and then the Witch came in with Tippy. She was dragging Tippy by the rope and then Tippy opened her eyes and- she wasn’t Tippy anymore.”

” What was she? “

” Dead.” Bonnie says sadly. ” And I started to cry and scream for Tippy not to leave me and then I woke up.”

” Look, it was only a dream right? I mean Tippy isn’t really dead and the Witch didn’t get you.”

Bonnie looks at me and I look at her and Bonnie asks me if I think she’ll have that awful nightmare again.

 ” Bonnie”  I say as I  pull a rope from out of my pocket ” you’re not awake yet.”

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:::

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.

a.m.m.

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

 

 

 

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

and

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.

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.

I Was 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.

Well.

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…

anything.

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 where I was standing in this house nobody had lived in for years.

These were random thoughts about normal,  familiar and safe things that happen to us all 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.

Stream of Thought

I have spent Summers and Winters up in the Mountains of Washington State

where

I have followed trails

and ridden on old logging roads

on horseback and by motorcycle.

And sometimes

I would follow

Creeks

and Rivers

and small streams

by foot.

Alone

I would follow the running water from the safety of the river banks

which always smelled like rotten leaves and wet dirt

and I would try to ignore the way the water would be loud and talkative one moment

and completely silent the next.

I have even gone on rafting trips and taken canoes out onto the water with my friends

and in the pictures that have been taken I am never smiling.

 My mouth is always set in a hard straight line

and

I am grimacing in every single shot spanning over  30 years.

Today I thought about the Rivers and Streams, the Creeks I have explored and when I tried to picture one-

any one of the many I have been too

the only image that came to me

was

one of

a hand

gently moving the black laughing water from side to side

and that hand

…was not mine.

 

Intermission

 

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.

So.

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.m.

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 The Mind Of The Beholder

When I was a kid I was fasinated by stories about Head Hunters.

My favorite was one about an Island where the trees were so thick that the sunlight never reached the ground and the people that lived there were so firece that Soldiers and Pirates to this day leave the Island off their maps and if they sail by it for any reason they make sure everyone is awake when they do.

Now in this particular story I learned the important part in taking your head was the Hunt- it was very important that you never see the Hunter coming, that you never see your body falling away from you, it was important you never realize you were dead.

After a month of prepartions ( you never do realize you’re dead ) the Head Hunter would  take your shrunken head and hang it from a tree that is grown especially for this sort of thing.

For a little while if anyone walked under your freshly shrunken head they would be abe able to see hear your nightmare or dream people walking around under the trees lost and calling for their dreamer so they could go home again.

Eventually the person who took your head could wake you up and your dream people when they wanted to- it was like turning a radio off and on.

The Head Hunter, when he or she got bored with you, could use your dreams to find other heads and it was bad news for you if one of those Head Hunters found you because it was only a matter of time before you ended up on that Island under those trees where the sun never reached the ground.

Like I said, it’s just a story that I learned when I was about six years old from my Grandfather.

” What did the Head Hunters want from those heads? ” I asked once.

” They wanted what was inside of them. ” he said.

” Their brains? ” I asked.

” No, what was inside their brains…their stories. “

I considered this and then asked, ” so if you have lots of stories? ” I asked with my hand up near my neck.

My Grandfather looked very serious and said, ” the Head Hunters have lots of stories too- if you are brave enough to go and take them. “

In case you’re curious

I am

anita marie moscoso

Eye Of The Beholder

by Anita Marie Moscoso

PROUD WINNER OF THE

CELLULOID BLONDE

AWARD FOR

best fiction post

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

Anyway…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Dansing Tree

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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…

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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

LINK

LINK

It’s For The Best Emalee Cupid

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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…

calm.

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.”

A Macabre Thought…or Two

There’s one thing I just can’t admit to people I know- I actually like some of Woody Allen’s films. I don’t know why, because I shouldn’t like them. 

My brain isn’t wired to like movies with brittle shrill characters who couldn’t find their own back sides if you gave them a map, a book called “Backside finding for Dummies” and a Backside Finding Search and Rescue team to help them out.

 I like movies with Pirates and Ghosts and Demonic kids that stuff babies into wine caskets and Mad Scientists that drip honey on people while they sleep and then turn bugs loose to devour the victim alive.

That’s me, that’s what I’m all about, and though I won’t cop to liking “Hannah and Her Sisters” I will say without a moments hesitation and lots of enthusiasm that one of my favorite movies of all time is Donovan’s Brain.

I like it for the ending.

At the ending of the movie the brain escapes from it’s tank and flies around the lab, chasing the mad scientist and his friends. The best part is Donovan’s spinal cord is still attached to the brain and the spinal cord is whipping around the place just like the creature in ” Alien ” would end up doing with it’s tail over 20 years later.

All kidding aside, I liked Donovan’s Brain because somebody had a story and they told it and exactly the way they wanted to tell it. They didn’t pretend it was anything other then a story about a killer brain that could fly.

That’s real story telling and that kind of story telling takes guts.

I keep that in mind when I write my own stories. 

Donovan’s Brain-  food for thought.