A BARBED WIRE ROSE TAKES ROOT

2016 NYCM Screenplay challenge. Comments and shares welcome.
Prompts were:

Romance

A factory worker.

An apology.

Logline: A hard-edged woman, following a path to self-destruction, makes a life decision to change, and win back the love of her life.

 

EXT. WAREHOUSE DISTRICT – NIGHT

Red and blue neon reflect the words “GO-GO” off a shallow puddle. The street is illuminated by sparsely spaced streetlights. The building’s signs indicate their use. Fleetwood Bedding. Stewart Sprockets. Dyson Logistics.

Muffled, HARD-ROCK MUSIC is heard coming from a beat-up bar, the sign ‘WAREHOUSE GO-GO,’ flashes above the entrance. Half a dozen motorcycles are parked outside.

The THUMP of a large-bore engine is heard over the music.

ANGLE ON: A CUSTOM HARLEY DAVIDSON TOURING MOTORCYCLE.

The fuel tank on the heavily chromed bike has airbrushed roses with I-beams for stems, and flames for petals.

ROSALITA, 35, muscular body, is leaning back in the seat. Tufts of jet-black hair bulge from under her helmet. She is wearing a well-worn black leather jacket. Covering the jacket is a denim vest adorned with numerous patches.

CLOSEUP: PATCH ON VEST.

An image of Mount Rushmore with the words “STURGIS 2009” above. Below, there are smaller patches stacked: 2010, 2011, then two blank spaces, then 2014, and 2015.

Rosalita parks in front of the bar. Studying the sign as she removes a pack of cigarettes from her vest. She pulls a chrome lighter from her pocket, and lights a cigarette.

CLOSEUP: THE ZIPPO LIGHTER.

A pair of intertwined hearts are engraved into the side. One lace, the other barbed wire.

ROSALITA

(Mumbles)We can do so much better than this, Lou. I just hope you can forgive me.

Rosalita walks to the door.

INT. WAREHOUSE GO-GO (CONT’D)

The pulsating MUSIC is louder. Strobes and spotlights aim on a polished hardwood dance floor in the middle of the bar. A bikini-clad woman works the bar. Two, sans swimsuits, gyrate around chrome poles on the dance floor.

Three private booths take up the far wall. The two closest red-painted accordion doors are closed.

ANGLE ON: ENTRANCE

Rosalita enters the smoky bar. Rising from a barstool, the BOUNCER, 30, juiced up body-builder, stops her.

BOUNCER

Ten dollar cover.

Rosalita removes her helmet, her long hair tumbles out.

BOUNCER

Oh, hey sorry. Chicks are free. Drinks are half price too.

Rosalita unzips her jacket exposing her ample cleavage.

The bouncer’s eyes her low-cut, tight-fitting tee-shirt.

Rosalita smiles, drops her cigarette and cruses it out with the pointed tip of her boot. Leaning over, she places her helmet on the bouncer’s stool as she squeezes her bosom for maximum effect.

The bouncer’s leer deepens, his mouth curves into a grin.

In a flash, Rosalita flicks the back of her hand off the bouncer’s crotch. She grabs his throat with her other hand as he doubles over.

ROSALITA

My eyes are up here, bro. Got it?

The bouncer’s attention is now solely on Rosalita’s face, he nods his agreement and she releases him.

The bouncer is rubbing his throat and crotch at the same time, more embarrassed than in pain.

BOUNCER (COUGHING)

Sorry about that. No offense.

Rosalita picks up her helmet.

ROSALITA

I’m used to it, we’re good.

Rosalita looks around the bar.

ROSALITA (CONT’D)

Is Lucia working tonight?

The bouncer shrugs.

BOUNCER

Don’t know. Most of the girls don’t use their real names. She a friend of yours?

ROSALITA

Yeah. Hopefully more, if I can get her to agree to what I came for.

BOUNCER

What’s she look like?

She scans the room. Her nose scrunches at the stench of stale smoke and cheap cigars mixed with the sweat and desperation of the men paying for a moment of attention from women who wouldn’t glance at them in broad daylight.

ROSALITA

Lucia’s Jamaican. Dark skin, heavy accent. Short. Big boobs–

Rosalita sees LUCIA entering the open booth with an obviously drunk, MAN, 45, stocky and overweight, high-school football star decades past his prime.

ROSALITA (CONT’D)

Never-mind. Found her.

ANGLE ON: PRIVATE BOOTH ENTRANCE — LUCIA’S BACK.

Centered above her bikini top string is a large tattoo matching the dual hearts etched onto Rosilita’s lighter.

Lucia is carrying a small purse to hold her tips.

ROSALITA (CONT’D)

I met that guy earlier today. Seems like a douche. Who is he?

The bouncer looks as Lucia closes the booth behind her.

BOUNCER

The dancer is Kaya, and you’re right about that dude. That’s CARL. Thinks he’s King Shit. He’s the foreman at the sheet factory up the block. I think she works for him up there during the day.

The SONG ends and another upbeat SONG immediately begins.

Rosalita steps toward the booth.

BOUNCER (CONT’D)

Sorry, gotta wait. She’ll be done when the song’s over. Assuming she gets the job done in one.

ROSALITA (SIGHS)

A’right. Where’s the deejay?

The bouncer points to the other side of the bar.

Rosalita nods, then walks passed the seated men who, as if part of a wind-up clock, turn when she passes to check out what they see as “new talent.” Rosalita keeps her fists ready in case any of them have the nerve to say anything.

She hears MUFFLED MOANS when she passes Lucia’s booth.

Rosalita converses INAUDIBLY to the DEEJAY, 25, thin in the malnourished way a man who has an affinity for meth and cheap liquor would be.

After appearing to refuse to do what she’s asking him to, Rosalita reaches into her pocket.

CLOSEUP: ROSALITA’S LEFT HAND

Pulling cash from her pocket, she’s wearing identical silver bands, one each on her ring and pinky fingers.

She hands the deejay twenty dollars, he nods. She takes a barstool, and sits by the Lucia’s booth.

SONG plays as Rosalita sits in front of the booth.

FADE TO BLACK.

INT. FLEETWOOD BEDDING LOCKER ROOM – EARLIER THAT DAY

Rows of drab-green lockers line the walls. Lucia is half naked, changing out of her work clothes.

Carl comes up behind her.

CARL

End of another week, ‘eh doll?

Carl swings his hips.

CARL (CONT’D)

You wanna make some overtime for a little extra, physical labor?

Lucia, surprised by his approach, covers her bare breasts.

LUCIA (IN A HEAVY JAMAICAN ACCENT)

What are you doing in here, Carl! Get out before I scream.

CARL (LAUGHS)

Really, Lucia? You got nothing I haven’t seen in the bar.

Carl pulls out a folded wad of cash. He peels off a hundred dollar bill, and waves it in front of her.

CARL (CONT’D)

C’mon, baby? How ’bout a little of that island sugar? You know the game.

Carl points to his crotch.

CARL (CONT’D)

You keep the little boss happy…

Carl, using his thumbs, points to his chest.

CARL (CONT’D)

…he keeps the big boss happy.

Lucia puts on a multi-colored shirt from her locker.

LUCIA

Leave me alone, boss man. I have to take my boy to the sitter.

CARL

Not my problem your roommate ran out on you so you have to work two jobs.

Carl rolls the bill around in his fingers.

CARL (CONT’D)

Speaking of which, I hope you’re working tonight. I told some biker friend of yours you’d be there.

Lucia stops gathering her belongings from the locker.

LUCIA (PAUSES BEFORE SPEAKING)

I don’t know any bikers.

CARL

Well, she knows you. She’s a big broad, I wouldn’t mind getting a taste of that. I like it when they can put up a good fight.

LUCIA (SOFTLY)

Rosie?

CARL

Didn’t give me a name. I told her if she wanted to see you, to come down the bar later. I said you always do your best work in the dark. Thought she was going to slug me. Kind of turned me on.

LUCIA

Careful what you wish for. She’s more woman than you can handle.

Carl rips the hundred in half and stuffs one half into Lucia’s shirt pocket.

CARL

Take this as a deposit for later. Might be another one in it if we can get your girlfriend into the act.

Lucia looks at Carl with disdain. She’s forced to brush against him as she pushes passed him as she leaves.

CARL (CONT’D)

See you tonight, love.

FADE TO BLACK.

INT. WAREHOUSE GO-GO – PRESENT

Rosalita is sitting outside Lucia’s booth.

The SONG ‘Rosalita’ by Bruce Springsteen begins to play.

LUCIA (MUFFLED INSIDE BOOTH)

Lawd Jesus! That skinny white boy knows not to play that song.

Lucia opens the door. She’s pulling her bikini top back over her breasts.

Carl is standing, buckling his belt and zipping his pants.

Lucia’s expression changes from anger at the deejay, to recognition of her former love. She smiles, but it is quickly replaced by anger at Rosalita’s return.

LUCIA

Rosie! I thought you were out of my life. Why’d you come back?

Rosalita is smiling, happy.

ROSALITA

Lou. I’ve missed you. I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I’m ready now.

LUCIA (SCOWLS)

Empty words from you I don’t need.

Lucia shakes her head and starts to close the door.

Rosalita pushes Lucia inside and closes the door.

INT. PRIVATE BOOTH (CONT’D)

The Music’s volume is muffled by the door being closed.

There is a shiny black upholstered couch in the booth.

ROSALITA

Lou, please, I’m serious. I’m sorry I left.

Lucia slaps Rosalita’s hand off.

LUCIA

Don’t you “Lou” me. You lost that right. I’m just another notch in your leather belt.

Lucia looks defiantly into Rosalita’s face.

LUCIA (CONT’D)

Or is it a soldier belt? Which Rosie stands before me today? You like girls again? Want to prove you’re as hard as boys can be?

ROSALITA (HURT BY HER WORDS)

No, it’s not that. I need to be with you.

Carl steps between them.

CARL

Now we’re talking.

Both women face Carl.

CARL (CONT’D)

Hey, don’t let me get in the way of true love, but I wouldn’t mind watching.

LUCIA (ANGRY)

Shut up Carl. This is none of your business.

Carl pulls the wad of cash from his pocket.

CARL

I’ll make this worth your while…

Carl waves the cash in Lucia’s face.

CARL (CONT’D MOCKING)

Lou.

Carl thrusts out his pelvis and winks.

CARL (CONT’D)

C’mon, throw me a bone and I’ll throw you mine.

Rosalita steps to him and punches him in the face.

Carl staggers, a look of shock and disbelief on his face. He drops the cash before falling unconscious on the couch.

LUCIA (YELLING)

Rosie! That man’s my boss. He’ll fire me.

ROSALITA

You don’t need him, Lou. Him or anyone but me.

Rosalita grabs Lucia’s hand.

ROSALITA (CONT’D)

I’m sorry I doubted my feelings. I really do love you. I was afraid of the person I’d become in the shit. Afraid you wouldn’t want me like that. I know you had to make it by yourself. And then, when you had that kid–

LUCIA

You leave my boy out of this.

Lucia tries to pull away but Rosalita does not let go.

LUCIA (CONT’D)

You think I don’t miss the way it was before you raised your hand to go prove what a big, imaginary dick you have? Maybe if you didn’t go fight in a war that wasn’t yours to fight, I wouldn’t have my boy. Then, when did come back, you wouldn’t walk out on us both.

ROSALITA

You know I tried to make it work, but the baby made me feel I would always be second in your heart. I thought I couldn’t live with that. I was wrong, Lou. So very wrong.

Lucia shakes her head, listening but not believing.

ROSALITA (CONT’D)

I wanted to hurt you. Hurt you bad. So I ran. I was trying to bury myself in booze, and girls, and boys, and the road.

Lucia pulls her hand away, her eyes welling with tears.

LUCIA

I don’t need your history lesson, Rosie. I lived it.

Lucia walks to check on Carl. He’s moaning, but still out.

She turns back to face Rosalita.

LUCIA (CONT’D)

Say what you come to say. What reason you come back to play with my life again? I make do for me and my boy. He don’t need no daddy and he sure don’t need half another mommy.

ROSALITA

I was a mess out on the road, ended up in Vegas and met a man.

Lucia scoffs and tries to head for the door.

Rosalita grabs her by the shoulders to stop her.

ROSALITA

No, not like that, Lou. He helped me get sober. Him, his wife and their kid.

Rosalita begins taking the ring off her pinkie.

ROSALITA (CONT’D)

They were a real family, just like we can be. Like we should be. Something woke in me I didn’t know I was capable of.

Rosalita holds up the ring. She reaches out to Lucia’s left hand.

Lucia holds her hand back, but doesn’t retreat.

LUCIA

No, Rosie. Don’t you dare say what your thinking. Why would doing that make this time any different?

ROSALITA

Because I’m clean now. I’m not angry at the world or afraid to settle down and share your love with that little boy. And that means, you’ll share mine with him.

Rosalita kneels on one knee.

ROSALITA

The man I met in Vegas got me into the MMA. I’m a pro fighter now. I’m good, real good. I can make enough money to take care of all of us. You won’t have to work. You’ll stay home, be a mom to that boy like you always were to me. I want us to be a family.

Rosalita takes Lucia’s hand.

ROSALITA (CONT’D)

Lucia Clarke, will you marry me?

Lucia shakes her head, tears streaming down her cheeks. Lucia begins to nod.

LUCIA

Yes. Oh yes, my Rosie.

Lucia vigorously nods her head.

CLOSEUP: LUCIA’S HAND.

Rosalita puts the ring on Lucia’s finger.

Lucia hugs the still-kneeling Rosalita.

LUCIA (CRYING)

My barbed-wire Rose. My Empress. I love you, you stupid, stupid girl.

Rosalita stands. They embrace.

CLOSEUP: LUCIA AND ROSALITA’S FACES.

They kiss.

Lucia begins to gather the cash Carl dropped. She puts it in her purse, removes the ripped hundred, crumples it, and throws it onto his chest.

LUCIA

Here, you pussy-klat of a man. I don’t need your dirty money anymore. My Rosie is more a man than you’ll ever be.

Lucia goes to Rosalita, they kiss. Rosalita opens the door and they walk out.

The CLOSING STRAINS of SPRINGSTEEN”S ROSALITA rise.

FADE TO BLACK.

EXT. MT. RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL – DAY -6 MONTHS LATER

The SOUNDS of motorcycles revving and idling is heard.

FADE IN:

A banner with the words “Welcome Riders. Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2016” is strung above a parking lot full of motorcycles.

ANGLE ON: ROSALITA’S MOTORCYCLE FITTED WITH A SIDECAR

Arms comfortably around each other’s backs, Rosalita, Lucia, and a small boy stand side-by-side, facing the memorial.

(The SONG ‘KAYA’ by Bob Marley plays over.)

FADE TO BLACK.

The Will to Trust

NYCM 2016  Short Story Challenge.

Round 2, Group 7.

Romance.

Last Will and Testament.

A man with one eye.

Synopsis: A young woman’s accident cements her cynicism with the world, but provides her a way to become a successful lawyer, and break the cycle of abuse.

 

 

The chirping of the awakening birds and the sweet smell of late-spring azaleas accompanied Maria Ruttle as she raced her BMX bike through the neighborhood. She had hoped to deliver the morning’s newspapers before the mere act of breathing caused her to break out in sweat.

Fiery streaks of sunlight cut across the pre-dawn sky, intent upon beating the sun’s crest of the horizon, she sped through an intersection without checking for cross traffic. If she had, Maria might have noticed the taxicab about to run through the stop sign because the driver had been staring at a map.

The impact threw both girl and bike over the car, off the roof and into the street. The collision had spun her handlebars and driven the front-brake lever into her stomach. The damage to her still-maturing uterus was so severe that the emergency room doctors told her she would never bear children.

To Maria, her BMX was more than just a bicycle. Wherever she rode: hot and dry, cold and wet, and every-weather in between, it became her happy place. As long as she had those two wheels and the steady vibration of pedal to chain beneath her, she felt content in the wind away from her home. Already aware, by the age of twelve, that the people who were supposed to care for her could also be the cause of great pain, Maria sought mobile refuge from her abusive family. On that early summer morning she learned a hard lesson: every refuge had a price.

Maria’s parents sued the taxi company. The lawyers handling the case stipulated that Maria’s parents write a Last Will and Testament providing for a trust fund to pay for Maria’s college tuition when she graduated high school. Her parents settled for enough money to pay for a year-long bender, which—to the surprise of no one who knew them—led to their deaths facilitated by driving while blotto. The orphaned Maria was transferred into the state’s foster-care system.

She threw herself into her studies, graduating at the top of her class in both high school and college.

After her accident, she believed that she’d never trust anyone again without fear of betrayal or pain.

For the next twenty years, she was right.

***

Zackary Klein entered the law offices of Dewey, Smith, and Ruttle and approached the reception desk.

Jen Meyers greeted him, “Good morning, how may I help you?” Maria had hired Jen after becoming the youngest woman in state history to be made a full partner in an established firm.

Jen buzzed the intercom into Maria’s office. “Ms. Ruttle, I have a Mr. Klein here for you. He says it’s about the Henderson settlement.”

“He’s expected, send him in.”

Standing when the inner office door opened, Maria said, “Hello, Mr. Klein.”

“Please, call me Zack. No reason to be formal.”

Although they’d never met, Maria had heard of him. She recognized him by the leather eyepatch he wore. Around the local legal circuit, he had the nickname Pirata Per Curiam because he took no prisoners and always returned with the gold. Beyond his reputation as the ‘Pirate of the court,’ she had been warned of his ability to make women swoon. She hadn’t believed the gossip until that moment.

The thought occurred to her, that Zack losing an eye seemed like God’s cruel trick to even the playing field for other men.

“Yes, that’s acceptable. I’m Maria.”

He reached out his hand, “I hadn’t expected you to be so bea—” Zack coughed, “uh young, Maria.”

She shook his hand, a tingle of goosebumps ran up her forearm. A warm rush of blood washed through her. She released his hand and motioned for him to sit.

For the first hour of their meeting—which had been scheduled to take twenty minutes—they spoke about the case between their firms. Since both parties had already agreed upon the terms, there should have only been a few final details in the legalese to hammer out. But as the items on the list dwindled, Maria noticed Zack trying to learn more about her. In the past, she would have ignored the questions, or given misleading answers. She had to be in charge. She couldn’t trust anyone’s intentions, but something about this man seemed different. From the moment he touched her hand, she trusted him. Maybe it was their mutual respect for the law. She didn’t question it, she just accepted it.

They spent the second hour talking about their pasts. Maria talked about the taxi accident and the Will that had provided for her education; leaving out any mention of her family history. Zack told her about his love of riding his off-road motorcycle when he was younger. How the wind and speed helped him escape ‘a difficult family situation.’ And why the loss of his eye cost him more than just half of his sight. Without depth perception, he could no longer ride to escape.

When she asked him about what had happened to his eye, he changed the subject and shuffled the papers around the desk as though he’d remembered some obscure legal point they had missed. They both knew they hadn’t. They were too good for that.

Maria had been stealing glances at Zack across the desk throughout the afternoon. The eyepatch allowed her to look almost to the point of staring without fear of being caught. And a couple of times when she looked up, she saw his head snap back to the desk as though he’d been discovered peeping into a window. She hadn’t looked directly into his remaining eye until Jen asked if they’d be working late and would be needing dinner. When Maria looked at his face for his opinion, the sight of the deep blue of his remaining eye made her sad that the world had been deprived of its twin.

Zack noticed her holding his gaze and said, “How about this? If I make you laugh, we go out to dinner. People eat, and despite what my colleagues say, I refuse to believe that you’re simply a beautiful robot sent from the future to win all the cases you’re given. Deal?”

Maria smirked, outwardly unamused, even though she found the idea charming.

Zack smiled. “I’m not hearing a no.” He cocked his head and pointed to his eyepatch, “I’m winking. You just can’t tell because of the patch.”

Maria rolled her eyes.

“I only have eye for you. Boom-crash.” He mimicked a drummer doing a rim-shot on a snare-drum and hitting a cymbal.

She shook her head, smiled, and laughed.

“Ha!” He raised his arms in a touchdown signal. “Victory is mine. I’ll pick you up at seven; text me your address.” He stood and began gathering his things.

“Wait, I never agreed to your stupid bet.”

“Ah, but you didn’t not agree to it, either.”

“I’ll go under one condition.”

“You want to work out a plea deal for a date? Sure, bring it on, counselor.” He smiled.

Letting her guard down, she studied his face. Looking at his lips, she wondered how they’d feel against hers.

“You tell me how you lost your eye.” She pointed at his chest. “The real story, not the one you tell woman to get them go out with you.”

His smile fell. “Would you believe me if I said that I was running with scissors?”

“No.” Maria crossed her arms. “And may I remind you that you’re still under oath.”

Zack looked around the room. “I’m not sure I was ever actually under oath, but I’ll allow it.”

“Proceed.” Maria expected another cute reply.

Zack settled back into his chair. “Maria, this isn’t an easy tale for me to tell, and even though I don’t really know you, I feel a connection that, frankly, surprises me.”

He took a deep breath, exhaled and began. “I had been riding my dirt-bike in the woods behind my house. The longer I stayed out, the less time I’d have to spend at home.”

His words echoed Maria’s memory of her childhood. She knew how painful that life could be.

“About a mile out, there was a shack where an old homeless guy lived with his dog. A big old mutt of a black lab. He was smart and friendly—the dog, not the guy.”

Zack laughed, but didn’t smile. “I’d bring him food and he’d follow me around when I rode the trails. I made sure to never go too fast for him and always brought him home. He was my bud.”

Zack stared off in the distance, his mind drifting back in time. “I bought him a bright-blue collar, and I’d rub his big, bowling-ball sized head and he’d wag his fat tail. It was heaven being out there without worrying about—” He trailed off.

Although Maria knew it had to be the lighting, the tear that ran down Zack’s cheek appeared to be the same shade of perfect blue as his eye.

Zack coughed and wiped his cheek. “Well, my pop found out about me hanging around the shack and that old ‘flea-bitten mongrel,’ and he said that I brought parasites back to our house. The next day I rode out to the shack and it had been burned to the ground. The old man and his dog were gone. I didn’t know what happened to them, but when I found the blue collar in the rubble of the fire—”

Zack fidgeted in the seat and clenched his fists. “I flew home, smashing through branches and over rocks, didn’t care if I wrecked. Found Pop outside on the porch smoking God-knows-what. When he saw me, he just started laughing. I’m not proud to say it, but I was just a kid. I lost it. I grabbed a monkey wrench and ran at him. He knocked me down, took it away, and yelled that he’d teach me ‘if I was gonna pull a weapon, I damn better well use it.’ He swung for my head and I tried to dodge it, but he caught me in the face and ruptured my eyeball. He raised the wrench again, but as he swung, that old lab came out of nowhere and latched onto Pop’s arm and pulled him off me.”

Zack’s breath caught in his throat. “Pop was a strong, mean drunk and he threw the dog off. I was screaming and half blind, I couldn’t stop him from using the wrench on my friend, the only real friend I ever had who never asked me for anything. I was only twelve. What was I supposed to do?”

Zack inhaled twice in short choppy breaths. “Social Services finally took me away for what he did to me, but I’d trade my other eye if I could have saved that old dog. Hell, I never even gave him a name and he saved my life.”

Her vision blurred by tears of her own, Maria stood, walked around the desk and embraced him. “I’m sorry, Zack. I didn’t mean to make you upset.”

Maria sent Jen home, and then told Zack the rest of her story, details she’d never shared. They stayed in her office for another hour before finally going to eat the most satisfying meal either’d had in a long time.

After that first dinner together, they shared dessert, and a kiss.

Less than a week later, after their third date, they shared his bed.

For her wedding gift to him, she arranged to have a custom prosthetic eye made that matched his unique blue so that their family pictures didn’t need a patch of any kind. And they had many family photographs that included more than just the two of them, because the universe provided a wedding gift to them both. She became pregnant.

In the decades that followed, Maria and Zack lived, loved, and trusted each other in ways neither had thought would ever be possible.

End

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A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 9.2

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 9.2

By: Wayne Hills.

‘Coming to you from Warner Brother’s studios…’

 Sidekick Andy Richter begins another nightly episode of, Conan, the same way he has for decades in the living world, as he will for eternity in ours. Sitting in my familiar recliner in the living room of our home, chubby dachshund Lola on my lap, apprehension overwhelms me as I glance toward my wife. Why I am afraid of what I might see puzzles me. Inexplicably, I’m relieved to see that Suzie is knitting her endless ball of yarn into the ‘Never Ending Story’ of sweaters, just as I expected. The garment never got bigger, the wool never smaller, but I can tell she’s content just working away.

But I’m not content; something pulls at my memory.

Why do I think her project is never going to end?

I watch as her hands nimbly work the long slender needles in her fingers; the soft but surprisingly strong digits I’ve held a thousand times. Her right index deftly pulls the yarn from the ball, slips it over the top of the shiny pink needle, and then quickly, almost imperceptibly, transfers it onto the left hand tool to become a knitted stitch. Or a pearl, one is over the stick, the other under I think. She knows, that’s all that matters to me. Her happiness, her safety, that’s all I care about in life.

Yet there’s something more, a tinge in the back of my mind. Something isn’t done, I have left something incomplete. There’s unfinished business outside.

 Outside? Why would I need to go outdoors?

I stand and walk to door.

I look back at my wife; her gaze alternates between the work in her hands and the TV screen.

“Suzie, I need to check on something outside. I think I left the hose running.”

I don’t know what else to say. I have to go to finish what I’ve started. Even though I’m not sure what it is, I can’t ignore it and stay.

At least I know Suzie will be safe and happy.

Why would I think otherwise? It matters that I feel this way, but I don’t know why.

“I’ll be back my love, don’t worry about me.” I say as I reach for the doorknob.

“OK dear.” She replies without looking at me.

My hand hovering over the knob, I stop, turn, and go back to her. I kneel before her so that she has to look into my eyes.

“Suzie.”

“Auggie?”

“You know I’ll love you always and forever, don’t you?”

“Of course Auggie, don’t be weird.”

I kiss her and hold our lips together for one long breath. I lean back.

“You’ll be all right without me for a while. I’ll be back.” I mean it and know in my heart it is true, but at the same time I am afraid. I don’t know why I have to go or what it is I will do once I leave. I just have to leave.

“I told you not to be weird,” she smiles as she reaches up; I feel the warmth of her fingers touch my cheek. “You know I love you too, I’m just not a nerd about it. Now go shut off that hose, Conan has some good guests tonight.”

She returns to her knitting as I walk to the door.

As I step through the opening, a thought occurs to me, ‘I wonder if Doc’s found his eye yet. ‘

——-End———

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 8.2

A Ghost’s Story: 8.2

 I have a plan, not a great plan I’ll admit, not even a whole plan I’ll confess, but I have to get Rita away from my home, and give Doc some time to literally pull himself back together.

I begin by talking to Rita without any intent other than denying her the opportunity to interrupt, I side-step away from my bubble in the opposite direction from where we had come.

“I’m willing to help you but I don’t know exactly what it is you expect from me. I’m obviously out of my league here, and you have this all figured out. I’m just concerned with what would happen to my wife, Suzie. She doesn’t know anything about what’s going on out here.”

“I told you alread…” Rita tries to cut me off; I keep talking.

“Yes, I know how you feel about marriage and death, but she will always be my wife. After all we were put here together, just like Roger and Lucy were. That must mean something in the grand scheme of things.”

The mention of Roger strikes a nerve, she raises her blade. Quickly, I change the subject.

“It’s crazy here isn’t it? I never was a religious man, didn’t believe in life after death. Still don’t really, I mean this isn’t really life is it?”

I continue to talk, trying not to babble or repeat myself. I go on about her and her love, and how similar they are to Suzie and me. I talk about what it’s like for us in the bubble, being careful to leave out the details about how we got there. I don’t ask any questions, or say anything that will require a reply from her. Amazingly, it works and she follows me away from my home, and the slowly dispersing Roger and Lucy. Rita turns when I turn, walks where I walk. Somewhere along the way, her silver blade reverts back to normal and her demeanor lightens. Maybe all that time waiting for her unnamed lover made her lonely for some regular conversation.

Before she even notices what’s happening, we’re back by her bubble. I steal a glance behind, and as I hoped, Doc’s disjointed mass has followed us.

His pieces have come together to form a semblance of his normal shape. Although there are a few pieces that seem to have not found their way back in place, he has the overall look of a broken vase that had been glued back together, badly. Gaps between his extremities make it obvious where Rita’s sword had sliced him. His right eye, chin, and left bicep are missing; although the rest of that arm seems to be floating in generally the proper position. It also appears that several pieces of his legs are swapped onto the wrong side. They don’t seem to bend in the right directions, he appears bowlegged.

When Rita finally notices where we had walked, her reaction isn’t what I expected.

“Auggie,” she says with surprising calmness. “Are we back at my home?”

“Yes Rita.” I see no point in lying about it. “I brought you home. You were at peace in there don’t you remember?  That’s all any of us want isn’t it.”

I try to stay calm, soothing. I need to maneuver her into a position near her bubble in order to get her inside. I have to convince her that she wants to go back.

Yet another glaring hole in my plan that has yet to have a plug present itself.

“Rita, do you remember how you were when I first met you?”

“Yes, I was waiting for a client. That person turned out to be you.”

“That’s right. I came into your home,” more like a lair actually. “And you greeted me as if I should have known why I was here. But what I meant was, how were you feeling? You seemed calm to me, happy almost, isn’t that right? You were serene.”

She thought about this for a moment before answering.

“Yes. Yes, I liked it in there.”

“And now that we’re all out here, you’re life, sorry, existence is in chaos. Don’t you want to be at peace?”

She appeared to be thinking about it, but it’s taking too long.

I glance sideways, trying to get a better look at Doc. I’m shocked to see him running towards us. At first I thinks he’s going to try to push Rita into her bubble, but at the last second he turns towards me!

“Doc! What the hell?”

I move just in time for him to miss me, he bounces off Rita’s home and falls to the side.

“You missed him Doctor!” Rita screams at him as he’s lying on the ground. I knew you were useless. Her silver arm is back, although this time it has the shape and size of a samurai sword. She easily decapitates the remnants of Doc’s head and kicks it away from his flailing body.

“His purpose has already been fulfilled, he delivered you to me. I kept him around in case he could be of some use, I guess I was wrong.”

Turning back to me, her arm revert to normal.

“That was a very nice speech, Mr. O’Neil. You’re right in that I was peaceful. But only because I am very patient; have been my whole existence. The anticipation of the fun we’d have together would rip me apart otherwise.”

“You knew I was leading you here, and you still came, why”

“I don’t know, just toying with you. I also wanted to see what that quack doctor would do. I’ve had him on my hook for thirty years. Wanted to see if he’s still loyal.”

She starting laughing at the fallen doctor. He managed to find his head and had placed it back in its proper location. He was trying to stand, but his mismatched legs weren’t cooperating. He slid around on the ground, each attempt at rising thwarted by his inability to get solid footing. His outstretched hand is floating in mid-air, reaching towards Rita for help. Disgusted, I walked over to him.

“Stop, where are you going?” Rita screamed.

“I’m going to help him. Whether his intention was devious or not, I can’t let him suffer like this.”

“He was going to end you. If he pushed you in, you’d be trapped.”

If she just wants to finish me, she could chop me up like Roger and Lucy.

An idea came to me. Everything I’d learned in this realm, told me she was wrong. Doc had been right about me being unique. I could enter and leave other bubbles, and still come back out. I had to call her bluff.

“Why does that matter Rita? Why do you want me locked in your home?”

She hesitated. It wasn’t a long pause, just enough for me to detect a line of bullshit was imminently approaching.

“Because that’s the plan, always has been. You get locked in there and I can go back.”

“Really, go back to the living? I don’t see how that’s possible. You’re dead, I’m dead, Doc’s all hacked up, but still dead. I think you’re lying Rita. I don’t think you want me in there, I think Doc went rogue, and you were just as surprised as I am that he tried to push me.”

I jumped in to her bubble. As I dissolve through the surface, Rita’s screaming confirms I made the right choice.

Back in the tidy basement, I’m not sure what will happen next. I decide I need a drink as I wait so I pour a shot of Rita’s firewater and sip the burning liquid.

I’m surprised when I hear Doc knocking and calling to me as he had when I sat in my own home with Suzie.

“Calling the spirit of August O’Neil. This is Doctor Jordan Bukowski, are you there spirit?”

What the hell is he doing? He’s knows I’m in here.

I stomp my foot once, same way that we started all our conversation back when I was in my own home.

“August O’Neil, come outside and see me.”

I have no doubt that this is a trap. I wonder if Doc’s whole face is back, or if his tongue is just flapping around in the ether. The only way I’ll be able to tell for sure is to go out there, and that’s not going to happen. But maybe I can take a peek?

I move closer to the wall, as I hold my hands and face close to the surface, they start to dissolve. As they begin to move towards the outside, I carefully shift my weight, I must maintain my balance inside Rita’s room.

I’ve always just stepped right through bubbles without pausing, this time though, I’m going to try to slide just my face through. If I’m right, I’ll be able to see what was going on out there.

As my eyes begin to melt through the swirling wall, I’m surprised that although my vision is blurry, I can still see fairly well. I hear the doctor’s voice calling to me as my view of the outside world clears.

The Doc is still lying on the ground, where he’d fallen when his attempt at knocking me into the orb had failed. He still didn’t have a jaw. The voice I heard calling to me was coming from Rita. She’s able to imitate the doc’s irritating séance voice perfectly.

Nice try bitch.

She continues to try to draw me out using Doc’s voice. Even though I can see her, she doesn’t notice that I’m here. The missing part of my plan finally presents itself.

As she moves around the bubble calling for me to come out, I wait for her to get close to where I’ve stopped moving through the thin wall between us.

When she passes by me on her way around, I reach out and grab her long overcoat by the lapels, and yank her back into the bubble with me.

She tries to struggle, but my surprise attack prevents her from stopping the momentum and she falls in on top of me. We tumble onto the cool linoleum. I slide across the floor ending up by the bar under the stairs; she stops with her back against the bed. We stare at each other as I wait in fear of her sword’s reappearance.

“Where are my manners? Would you like a drink handsome?”

Holy crap, it worked. She’s forgotten everything.

I quickly jump to my feet and rush over to help her up, hoping the gentlemanly gesture keeps her in the moment.

“No Miss, I have another engagement, thank you so much for the offer.”

I walk towards the stairs as I say goodbye.

“We’ve had a wonderful time; it’s been a very memorable evening. I wish you all the best.”

She tries to protest, to stop me, but I hurry up the stairs and back into the outside world.

 

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 7.2

A Ghost’s Story. Chapter 7.2

 The events of the next few seconds occurred so quickly my mind couldn’t process them fast enough to comprehend what was happening. I was frozen in place unsure of what to do or whom to help. 

By the time I regained my wits enough to counter; Roger and Lucy were embers evaporating into the sepia tinted air around me, the tear into our side of the ‘life/death’ wall had closed, what appeared to be bits and pieces of Doc were floating about, albeit in a more stable state of disarray than our other two companions, and I was standing between Rita and my bubble guarding it like a besieged goalie on a 5 to 3 power play.

She was holding the shining blade to my throat, and with her this close to me I could see the weapon originated at her elbow. Replacing her forearm, wrist and hand, was a double edged flat foil that gleaned in the otherwise dull atmosphere.

Not knowing what tact to take, I decided on belligerence.  “I’m already dead, you can’t hurt me, you psycho,” I spat at her, a pointless gesture considering nothing came out of my mouth but a grey puff of dust. “Your knife will sting but I’ll come right back.”

“Is that what you truly believe August?” She asked slowly, seductively. Trying to make me doubt what I hoped to be true. “What really happened to that little whore Lucy and her giant man Roger?”

Sliding the blade slowly down my body, she rested the tip just under the worn elastic top of my loose pajama bottoms. Leaning in close to my ear, I felt her tongue dart out and touch just inside the opening. Her voice erotically low, soft, and moist, “Roger had a huge cock y’know.” Another quick wet lick sent shivers through my body. “I cut it off; do you want to see it?”

The urge to push away almost overwhelmed me; knowing I’d fall back into my own bubble taking her with me just barely kept me in place. Doc was still no help, his form continued to slowly merge back together. The shock of the caped man’s brief appearance on this side of the, surprisingly porous, wall between our worlds was still with me. The ease at which he seemed to have moved between them and shred Doc wasn’t something I thought was possible.

I needed to get her away from here; I would rather risk losing my soul forever than let her take Suzie.

I changed my tune; I had to buy time for Doc to recover. Not that I expected much help from him at this point; he seemed to have missed this potential scenario completely.

“What do you want from me?” I was petrified at her response.

“You darling,” she said in that low smoky voice that in another setting I would have found enticing, “are my future. Our future, my lover and I.”

“What are you taking about? Who’s your lover?” I had a feeling I might know who she meant, and it frightened me.

“Oh you’re smarter than that.” She said with a wink and a nod towards the spot the opening had been. “Doc’s demon of course?”

I was relieved and confused. I assumed she meant that I was predestined to be with her, the thought of which was scary even before the events of the last few moments. I couldn’t fathom why she and the caped man would ever be together.

“How could that be?” I said, “He killed you,” I was trying to make sense of what was happening. “He murdered all of us.”

She laughed deeply as she stepped away, “he’s killed more than just you four. As for me,” she spoke as she walked towards Doc’s swirling cloud and began playfully stirring the dancing glitter with her normal hand, “he released me from that wretched life. This is where I belong, this is where I’m alive, and he’ll join me soon. That’s why we need you and that boring creature you’re keeping inside that precious bubble of yours.”

“She’s innocent in this,” I jumped towards Rita, “leave her out of it.”

She spun back to me, razor sharp tip pointed at my chest, “Innocence is an archaic concept. Nobody is guilt free, your precious Suzie included. Everybody is guilty of something, some transgression, some sin.”

Not backing down I continued advancing, I stopped when the thin tip of her blade pierced my chest. It burned as it pushed into me.

“Cut me up, go ahead.” I wasn’t bluffing, “Slice me to pieces like Doc or mash me into oblivion like the others, I don’t care. You’ll never get to Suzie.”

She smiled as she took a step forward driving the blade through me. The white hot silver blade easily slid through me. When her elbow touched my chest she leaned in close to my face.

“Don’t be so chivalrous August, you really have no idea who or what you’re dealing with. Do you really think you’re the first soul we’ve used like this?  Does all of this seem like the work of a couple trying to figure this out as they go along?”

She laughed again in a guttural chortle that reminded me she isn’t human. I needed to buy time, to get her away from my home, from Suzie.

I suddenly felt a greater need, a desire to help not just my beloved Suzie from being pulled into this nightmare, but to save others in both worlds from eternal damnation because of this demonic pair.

I had to stop her from reconnecting with her love as I tried to reclaim my own. Even at the cost me my own soul.

A Ghost’s Story: Chapter 6

A Ghost’s Story: 6

As I pass through the shell, my ‘body’ disperses as it did on my previous passages through my own home to talk to the Doc. Disintegrating into hundreds of tiny sparks of light; it filters through the surface of the globe. I reconstitute inside of a well-lit, uncluttered room. I see a wooden stairway against the wall to my right leading upwards with a small wet-bar built into the underside of the stair riser. There is a blacked out transom-sized window high on the opposite wall with a large round bed beneath it taking up almost half the room. I decide that it’s a cellar, an odd one, but it’s definitely someone’s basement.

The wall to my left is painted black with metal rings and belts hanging off it at seemingly random locations. There are at least a dozen small doors built into the surface, each with a small round silver ball for a handle. The floor is white linoleum imprinted in a grid-like square pattern; above me is a matching white grid acoustical tile ceiling. Standing in the center of the room is an attractive, middle-aged woman wearing a shiny black trench coat and matching patent leather pumps. I’ve seen the hair and style of makeup before but cannot quite place where. Her shiny long black hair is styled so that the loose curls hang past her shoulders with straight bangs dangling almost to her thin, equally dark, eyebrows. The black hair accents her pale skin making it appear almost ivory in comparison. I’ve definitely seen the look before; kind of turns me on a bit in a subconsciously primitive manner.

She’s looking right at me, almost as if she were expecting me.

“Hello,” she says in a deep but feminine voice. “Where did you come from?”

“Sorry if I startled you,” although I really don’t think I did. Doc gave me a script to follow that he said seems to work out the best in these situations. The telling someone they’re no longer among the living when they think everything’s just hunky-dory kind of situations. “I’m August O’Neill; my friends call me Auggie. I’m hoping we can talk a bit, do you mind?”

“Not at all Mr. O’Neill,” again in that sultry voice, it excites and scares me at the same time. “I’m game if you are.”

Odd thing to say to someone who just appeared in your cellar while you were… hell I have no idea what she was up to.

“What should I call you?” I ask warily. ‘Why am I afraid to ask her that?’ Something here has me losing my nerve. Not enough for me to bail and leave, yet. I have the option to just pop back out. the spirit inside will revert back to whatever she was doing before I arrived and not even remember me being here. That’s what Doc says will happen. In theory I can just fizzle back outside, come back in and then simply start this conversation at the top. No harm, no foul, GO TO 10 and rerun the program.

“Mr. O’ Neill,” she says deeply as she walks towards the bar by the stairway, “I think we need to get to know each other a little better before I start giving out personal information, don’t you?” Stopping with her back to me, she opened a satin black ice bucket sitting on the dark wood bar top.

I begin to speak, “I thin…”

Turning suddenly she silenced me by holding a deeply red polished fingertip up to her similarly colored lips. Satisfied I’ll hold my tongue; she gives me a smile and returns to her business. Using a set of small silver tongs, she picks out and drops several ice cubes into a pair of tumblers, places the utensil on a pure white towel on the bar, then fills each glass halfway with a clear liquid from an unlabeled triangular bottle.

Holding one of the glasses towards me she says, “Here you are Mr. O’Neill; it seems like ages since I’ve had a guest in my home.” I know she said home, but the word ‘lair’ pops into my mind. “What can I…,” pause…, long slow sip of her drink…, wry smile…, “do for you?”

‘Holy shit.’ I think. ‘I’ve walked into something really weird here.’

“Thank you for the hospitality, really,” I say trying not to sound nervous. I need to get through this. She’s got something in mind and I’m certain it will change when she finds out she’s dead. “Whatever you think I’m here for, I promise you, it isn’t that. I don’t know how else to say it given the current situation.” I look down at the glass in my hand; I can feel the coolness of the liquid in my fingers. ‘What the hell,’ I think as I drink the contents in one shot. “I-iii <cough-cough> Whoa, what the hell is in there?” I manage to croak out between hacks.

“Just a little, pick me up.” She says with a sexy wiggle of her body that seems to start at her leather clad feet and end with a flourish of her free hand’s crimson nails.

“Well no more of that thank you,” I say as I hand the glass back to her. I press on through the pain of the liquid burning up my throat. “Again, I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. Look I’ll just say it straight out. You’re dead. I’m dead. We’re all dead here. This room is your final resting place for eternity unless I can convince you to come with me.”

OK, so I went off the script Doc told me use when explaining the facts of life, or lack thereof. This is not one of the scenarios we discussed before I came in here.

“I’m dead?” She says in a surprisingly calm voice, still low and seductive, but not unbelieving. Almost like an improve comedian would do if given an odd situation by an audience member for a sketch. ‘So we’re all dead, and in a post office, and we have to mail a camel to Alaska…’

“Yeah, you don’t believe me do you?” I ask.

“I’m not saying that,” she replies as she walks over and returns the glasses to the bar. I was ready to stop her from refilling them before she turned back to me. “But if I’m dead, why are you here? To help me, ‘move on’ as they say.”

“Not really,” I reply slowly shaking my head in an apologetic manner. “I’m a spirit just like you. If I had the ability to move us on, the Mrs. and I would be long gone ourselves. I need your help. We need your help.” I say with a thumb point behind me.

“We?” She asks looking behind me at that wall of her basement. “There’s nobody with you.”

“They’re waiting just outside the bubble; out there” I half turn this time and point towards the wall maintaining eye contact with her.

“Bubble? What are you talking about?” She sounds as if I’m starting to lose her. “Out there is my back yard with my garden and behind that is Spruce St. If they are out there I’ll just go invite them in. We’ll pour some more drinks, make it a real party.” She started walking towards the steps.

Moving further into the room I block her way, “Wait; don’t go up there. If you do we’ll have to start all over.” She paused, her expression switched to the confused look I expected when I told her that she was a ghost. “Look, your world, your ‘bubble.’” I used air quotes to emphasis the word, “Is this cellar. The place you were most comfortable in life, is where you are stuck when you pass on. That’s how we were able to find you. To spirits in the outside world, this looks like a big shiny ball in the middle of nothingness.  If you try to leave before you’re ready, you’ll revert back here without any memory of why you were trying to leave. Same thing would happen if I left the way I came in. We’d have a whole Groundhog Day situation. You’d be standing there, I’d introduce myself, you’d pour a couple glasses of lighter fluid, and I’d tell this story. Eventually I’ll figure out how to get you to believe me. Any chance we can skip all that and go right to the trust?”

“Maybe, we’ll see. I’m a very trusting person; have to be in my line of work.” She was eyeing me slowly up and down, deciding whether to really believe me or not. “Then why are you, a person I’ve never met before, here in my cellar in your pajamas?”

She had a good point about my attire; I actually thought she’d ask this sooner. I took it as a good sign because it meant she was following me. “I was in my living room with my wife and our pets in my home ‘bubble.’” Again I did the finger motions. “It was where we both were the most comfortable in life; so in death that’s where we ended up. I just happened to like watching TV in my recliner wearing old PJs.”

“Doesn’t explain why you’re here in my ‘bubble.’” She mimicked my air quotes using her long slender perfectly manicured fingers in a way I could only categorize as sarcastic.

“Well,” I scratched my head and shuffled my feet, “this is where the trust comes in. Evidently I’m special.”

“Oh, that you are Mr. O’Neill, that you are.” I was right; she was being full-on sarcastic. “Got your own special short yellow bus and everything I’m sure.”

‘Busting my balls, another good sign.’ I thought. “Please call me Auggie, everyone does, I prefer it really. And what should I call you? Or is that still too personal?”

“Rita.” She said smiling at the understanding of my reference to her earlier comment. “Just call me Rita, my last name is Stachelrodt. I had enough trouble trying to get people to say it properly when I was alive, I won’t put you through it now that it doesn’t matter to anyone.”

‘Acceptance, nice!’ That was actually easier than I thought it would be.

“Outside my little bubble of reality, how many other people are you wi…” she trailed off. “I mean ghosts, or spirits, or specters? I don’t even know what to call us.”

“There are three of us Rita,” I began. “And to answer the second part of your question; with the exception of the names, people or person, we use any of the above. We also use souls, beings, apparitions, whatever makes you comfortable. Not that there are written rules about it you understand, but we tend to reserve those other words for the living.”

I knew what would come next thanks to Doc’s tutoring. She asked me why she was here alone, where was her family, why weren’t they here if I had my wife, where was she if this wasn’t heaven or hell, what made me so special?… Every question I had a ready answer for. All except one.

“Can ghosts fuck?” She asked this as bluntly as any of the others in the standard 20 question game the Doc prepped me for.

“Yes, actually we can.” I answered the query in the same matter of fact tone she used to ask it. I knew this for a fact because Doc and I have had to walk away from Roger and Lucy on several occasions when one of them had an itch that needed scratching.

I continued, “We can touch and feel each other but not living people. Although when we walk through them out in the open; it feels warm, the only warmth out there actually. It’s like swimming through someone’s pee in a swimming pool to be blunt. There may be some of us that can feel the living, but none of our group. If you don’t mind me asking, I didn’t expect that particular question, why do you want to know?”

“Because I need to get laid Auggie; don’t you?” She asked this as she started unbuttoning her coat. “I’ve asked you a thousand questions that you obviously expected; your answers were all perfectly practiced and succinct. But you haven’t asked me why I’m in my cellar, why I’m alone inside my home wearing a rain coat. And why I was perfectly happy just standing around in a brightly lit basement. Aren’t you curious at all?” Her question ended with a sly smile, only the thick black belt around her waist was left holding the glossy garment closed.

“Ok,” I replied taking a step back in the direction of the wall through which I had entered. Not in fear of anything physical, but in anticipation of running back through the bubble. I was never good with sexual innuendo when I was alive; being dead didn’t suddenly make me the suavest dude around. Although at this point she probably could follow me and retain her memory of our chat, I’m a little out of my comfort zone here and I’m trying to not let her see it.

I asked slowly, “OK, you’re right, what and why to all of what you said.”

“I’m a professional dominatrix Auggie,” she let go of the belt and the coat opened to reveal a painfully tight black latex corset. The top of which crushed and pushed her breasts up into the cone shaped cups of a bra that were made from the same shiny material as the rest of the outfit. “Look around you. All these closets, a big bed, hooks in the ceiling and walls, none of this gave away the room’s purpose?”

I felt a little stupid; I hadn’t even noticed the ceiling hooks. It was kind of obvious now that she mentioned it.

“In my defense,” I replied as I walked in a circle trying to keep distance between us as she approached; her boob pyramids threatening to impale me in their mammoricious splendor, “I barely looked at the room when I first entered.” This was true, well tru-ish to be perfectly honest. “I didn’t really think about it, I wouldn’t question what makes a soul happy.”

“I’ll show you what’ll make me happy right now.” I was surprised that she didn’t pursue me around the room; instead she walked to a set of floor to ceiling double doors that were behind me the whole time. These I really didn’t see; I had walked right through that wall when I entered her basement bedroom, her baseroom…, bedment…. Now I was just getting flummoxed, didn’t know what to think.

Opening the closet exposed what looked to me like instruments of torture but apparently gave her quite a thrill. I watched as she caressed leather whips of various sizes and construction, silver chains with clips and latches, hand cuffs, both chrome and fur covered, ropes of different dimensions and textures. I was beginning to regret telling her we could feel pain inflicted by our own kind.

“Look, Ms. Stack, Stock, Sti…, look Rita.” I said trying not to sound nervous, “I’m not really into this kind of thing. And I’m married remember!?” I said pointing to the gold circle on my left ring finger.

“Marriage makes my best customers Auggie. Besides, we’re dead. Or did you forget the, ‘till death do us part clause’?”  She laughed as she picked up a brown leather whip with a fur covered handle.

<SNAP!> effortlessly, she unrolled the long string of leather and produced a sharp report that echoed in the cellar. Although I was sure the room had the same dimensions that it had when I walked in, it suddenly seemed much smaller.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea!” An obvious ‘out’ popped into my head, “let me introduce you to Roger and Lucy. You’ll like them and they will loooove you. All they do is screw, you three will get along famously.”

She pouted. “I really do scare you that much do I?”

“Nooo,” I held up both hands in protest. “I’m a ghost too, I’m already dead. What would I have to be afraid of?” Yeah, I was bluffing. If I could shit or piss myself I probably already would have. She seemed to buy it; good thing I couldn’t sweat either.

“A threesome you say?” Gently, she put one slender finger to her full lower lip, pulled it down and released it producing the most seductive little popping sound as she mulled over the decision. It looked very sexy but I had to put that thought out of my mind. The Ménage A Roger-Lucy idea did seem to intrigue her. “Ok, let’s do it. Can I bring a toy?” She was already rummaging through the full closet.

I sensed an end to this ordeal, “Sure, just one though, we have to travel light. Why don’t you button up your coat there and we’ll be off to meet the team.”

Unfortunately in my haste to depart I failed to ask, or even bring up, any of the details that Doc had made me swear I wouldn’t forget to find out before inviting her along. Little things really, insignificant in the grand scheme of our quest; things like how she died, what connection she may have to the demon we were pursuing, telling her why we had to stop him. In hindsight I really should have. It ended up costing most of our team their souls.

Ghost Story: Chapter 5.1

Ghost Story: 5.1

The big twin’s deep repeating thump echoed off the brick facades of the warehouse district.  Reflected neon flashed off the wet street as the big Harley weaved its way down the pothole riddled dead end.

As the lone witness stood as still as a cemetery angel watching over ancient graves, he studied the large patch on the rider’s cut as he rumbled by. Sandwiched between ‘Dead Horse MC’ on the top and ‘Passaic NJ’ on the bottom rocker was the club’s emblem, the silhouette of Fredric Remington’s ‘End of the Trail’ sculpture. Barely perceptible through the dense night, the corners of his thin mouth curled up in a grim smile; his prey had arrived.

The dark man didn’t move as he watched the chopper pull up next to the entrance of ‘Dolly’s Bar-No Grill’. This was Dead Horse MC’s clubhouse and front to lauder the cash made from their trifecta of illicit activities, liquor, drugs and sex. He stood and watched; there was no hurry, everything that was to happen had been preordained. His only compulsion was to complete his portion, his blood soaked and savage part in the future history of this place.

The bartender, prematurely aged and thin from years of substance abuse, looked up as he heard the raucous sound made by the heavy metal door’s rusty hinges. He watched through perpetually bloodshot eyes as the immense biker stooped as he passed through the doorway more from habit than necessity. When the invisible beam of the electric eye guarding the entryway sounded its electronic chime, the bartender calmly snuffed out his butt and stuffed a half empty fifth of Jack Daniels into his back pocket.

The big man sauntered up to the bar, and as the two men exchanged a few short words, the grizzled barkeep handed the larger man a thick envelope. His nightly duties complete, he picked his threadbare denim jacket from a hook by  the end of the bar, staggered to the door, and accompanied by the sensor’s chime and screech of the door, checked out from his final shift.

Outside Dolly’s, the night’s cold fog enveloping him, he pulled a familiar red and white box from the breast of his coat and a scratched Zippo from the change pocket of his worn and faded jeans. As he lit the cigarette and inhaled that first long pull of a fresh stick, a cold thin blade sliced open his throat. He didn’t see the stranger standing by the doorway waiting for his departure from the bar, didn’t hear the man move silently out of the shadows and step up behind him, nor did his dulled senses alert him the danger, the death waiting to release him from this world and move him into the next. He wasn’t as fortunate as others that passed on by this same dark mechanism of death; there was no safe and cozy place for him waiting in the ether, he was damned. His destiny was sealed many years before; he just didn’t know it until this dark and damp night.

Inside, as a freshly lit cigarette was sizzling itself out in a pool of dirty water and blood, Roger looked across the room at the small dance floor positioned behind the dark wooden bar. Lucy was staring at him, waiting to be noticed, this was part of their nightly ritual. To the club, he was their Sargent at Arms and treasurer; she was just another dancer and whore. To each other they were soul mates; fated in this life and the next to be together. His nightly visits were part of his responsibilities with DHMC, being able to see Lucy every night she was working was an added bonus. Truth is, he would find another reason to ditch his old lady and head down to the bar, such was the pull she had on him.

He smiled, this was her signal that they were alone and it was safe for them to be together. She scampered across the small dance floor, jumped up onto the bar and leapt into his massive arms. He didn’t even flinch, her tiny body weighed less than a third of his; he caught her in mid-air and pulled her to him, their lips met. They had no way of knowing this would be their last mortal kiss.

Behind them, mere seconds after the thin, grey haired barkeep left, the normally noisy door opened silently, and the electric eye chime didn’t chirp as the cloaked stranger walked in and approached the couple locked in a lover’s embrace. As they parted for breath, Lucy opened her eyes. Before she had time to comprehend what the small black box being raised to Roger’ neck was and warn her love, the taser jolted the big man. As his arms went rigid and Lucy began to fall, she smelled Roger’s flesh burning beneath the jittering weapon. As she hit the floor she saw the tiny red dots, like LEDs in the darkness, emanating from the caped man’s skull.

She wouldn’t remember any of the next twelve hours until years later; the night a nerdy Doctor called to them from beyond Dolly’s black door.