Dead Men

sp__last_stand_of_dead_men_by_chaos_walking59-d6881t2

I’m not gonna lie to you. I’ve been alarmed for a number of weeks now. It’s the year 2014 and three Fridays ago when I woke up I was sleeping next to a dead body. You can image my response when after rocking his world the previous night for several long hours to wake and find his body cold as ice, his color drained to a pallid gray tone, and he was as still as stone. I sat up in the bed and screamed several times long and loud. Of course you can’t imagine my surprise when he sat up quickly and grabbed me by my arm and asked, “What’s the matter?”

I threw myself backward from the bed and sat there shaking for several moments before I apologized and told him I had a terrible nightmare. He comforted me and got up to prepared to leave.

He seemed like a really nice guy, but after that morning I wasn’t certain I would ever hear from him again. He wasn’t my man. I was still in the dating process looking for a nice man I could consider for a longstanding relationship that might lead to marriage, kids and the whole nine yards. I’m not particular about race or ethnicity, but if he happened to be my own race that would be okay.

But after that morning I’m not certain if that was going to happen. For the last few weeks I had been really looking at men and I noticed something strange. Something I had never noticed before in the city in which I lived. The majority of the men were all dead.

Walking, talking, breathing dead men.

At first I was horrified, and then I realized it made perfect sense. The Black men had been tortured to death through systematic abuse, either due to financial inequity, police brutality, social injustice, or just plain racism. They had probably given up a long time ago and nobody noticed. There were laborers, students, thugs, and even professionals. I saw handsome corpses dressed in tailored suits wearing sunglasses and carrying briefcases. They had more money and supposedly better lifestyles, but they too were as dead as doornails.

I thought given this realization that I would have to find a mate among a different race of people. But as I looked I realized. There were corpses walking among these men too. Money grubbing corporate corpses with hollow dead eyes, crazy ignorant bigoted corpses with wild rolling eyes, young handsome ambitious men who were just beginning to show signs around the eyes, and even teens with sunken sad eyes who had been subjected to the teachings of the dead men they were raised or mentored by. It was horrible to see something so young dying already.

It was funny how the more affluent they were the more apt they seemed to be wearing expensive designer glasses with tints. I wondered, “Did they know? I was afraid to ask.

Dating suddenly became a nightmare. I was an attractive girl and got propositioned all the time. How could I tell them I didn’t want to go out with them because they were dead? Just the thought of having one of them trying to touch me, sent me into violent waves of uncontrollable gagging. If you remember I had already slept with one or many if this problem went back more than 3 weeks.

I searched for another few weeks hoping to find some that were still alive and I was successful, but I was not happy to see their condition when I located them. The living that still existed seemed tormented and would soon die from the despair of living among the evil dead, and with them would die all of the things that gave us the right to call ourselves humanity. Love, compassion, creativity, ingenuity, common sense, and intelligence would all be things of the past.

These dead men seemed incapable of understanding things like protecting the environment, strengthening the family, eradicating poverty, improving the health of society, the importance of affordable education, shelter and food, or even the need for companionship. They were illogically bent on consumption, unconcerned about the effects of their actions on the environment, generally disrespectful to women, and the bottom line seemed to be their only goal. They continued their destructive course gradually killing every man near them either by including or excluding them. Those that died of inclusion became the walking corpses that continued to contribute to the death of other men. Those that died of exclusion simply lived lives of desperation until they finally gave up and allow their body to give out and be committed to the earth.

When the living men died, they actually died, saved from becoming the aberration created by the social injustices of mankind.

I watched for several more weeks. I learned that women contributed to this, having succumbed to the greed infested society, becoming gold diggers, opportunists, and shallow materialistic snobs. I began to wonder what was wrong with me. Why could I see this? How was this information available to me where others seemed completely oblivious?

Or were they?

I imagined an army of evil dead men, with dreams of ruining the world. They who could neither enjoy the beauty, or manage the emotion necessary to be happy experiencing interaction with mankind. This was all just conjecture, a supposition based on my recent observations. I had no real way to know if this was how things were actually happening.

And then I met him. I was attracted to him immediately. He wasn’t any of what would have been standard or classic, but I couldn’t take my eyes off him nevertheless. He smiled at me, a real smile. And his gaze was intense and penetrating. When he looked at me longer than a few moments I could feel the heat under my skin. More than a blush, more like a flush really, all over and constant. I felt intimidated.

He laughed and said to me, ”Don’t be afraid, that’s the way a women is supposed to feel when she is attracted to a man, warm and alive; Thinking of the magic of their interaction and not just the technical orchestration of their possible joining. We weren’t given emotions by accident, and it was no mistake that those feelings were chemically enhanced by our physiology. Those dead men have lost this, and though they still continue to breed, all they bring into this world is contempt. They teach their spawn to breed hatred and malcontent so they can continue down their road to the destruction of the world. They don’t know the magic of creation, nor care if what they breed will be able to survive in what they will eventually leave behind. And no matter how they try what they create will never be as good as the things they have destroyed.”

I looked at him still riveted and understood exactly what he meant.

He wasn’t there to become my mate.

“Are there other men like you?” I asked.

“There are others, and if you look you will find them. You will know them by how you feel. But I am not her to find you a man I am here to warn you of what will happen to women who breed with them. Their children die young. They have neither mercy nor compassion. They are not all corrupt, but empathy is not in them. They can only contribute to the death of the world. Those born that way will never be human, but those dying can be revived. The dead ones will never live again.”

“But why are you telling me this?” I asked.

“So you can teach other women who want a living man what to look for and what to avoid. You will recognize these women by their confusion. I know that it is a lot to expect, but you have a responsibility because you know. And they will not believe you unless you show them.”

He turned his back to me and said,”By the way, thanks for the compliment.” and smiled before walking away.

Since then, I for no other reason than not knowing what else to do, have casually been alerting women to the reality of the dead men around them. A few were startled nearly to death and have taken up the same torch, a few have gone into hiding. I have assured them it’s not the “Dawn of the dead” in the literal sense of the term, but if we didn’t stop this madness it very well could be.

Some corporate guys has been eyeing me, not in a government watching you kind of way, but I think he knows I am aware of things. It’s only a matter of time before all women are aware, but by then it may be too late. Until that time I plan to continue to educate and alert women. They can help their own cause by not contributing to the problem, not accepting the ills of the world just because dead men have money, and not having children by dead men who will later become the very things they fear.

I’ve learned this is not an easy job. But the responsibility is not mine alone. One day soon if we are not all careful, every women in this world would wake up next to a dead man.

 

Dead Men  © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

Ponds

succubus_by_arxfatal-d5snzv8

People like to believe they have depth like the ocean. They’d do well if they could be consistent like a river, or natural and clean like a stream, or bubbly and pleasant like a babbling brook. But most are like ponds, cloudy at the bottom, murky, not much depth, stagnant, predictable. You could be certain that unfavorable things were living at the bottom, or worse that they were hiding something.

On a daily basis I investigated people who were like this in my work, shallow, inconsiderate, inconsistent, with a potential to be ruthless or dangerous. Oh, my work is nothing glamorous, I’m not a paranormal investigator, or a detective; mostly I investigate the behaviors of people who care for elderly and children. On a daily basis I have the misfortune of coming in contact with some of the most awful individuals living among what is considered to be civilized society. Shit some of them weren’t even a pond more like a puddle, with a grease slick on the surface, and nasty stuff on the bottom you wouldn’t even want to get on your nice work shoes.

On one occasion I found myself wallowing in the shallows of what might have been the remains of golden pond, some cranky rich bastard who hated everything and everybody. Reports had said he locked his mother in a dark closet, and denied her food for days. He was verbally abusive to everyone within hearing, and I had been told that if one stepped within reach he was as likely to be physically abusive. He had been allowed to be this way two-thirds of his life, and now that he was in his dotage, he was not likely to change.

His mother was eighty-eight, a quiet southern raised woman who had neither directed nor contradicted his upbringing. She had been a beautiful talented graceful debutante, with qualities that two-thirds of all woman would admire even if they didn’t have the balls to desire them. She had not gone away to school when it was suggested, rather married the first big wallet that proposed to her, and began providing heirs to his fortune.

She was forced to raise her children in a particular manner, and she accepted it the same way she had accepted her own. That was fine until she was a victim of his childhood beliefs. In his world infirmity meant weakness, and catering to one meant vulnerability. He was not going to fall for that ever.

But in my work I had met worse than him, and it was not likely that he had ever had the pleasure of company like mine. I was far older than his mother, though I had ceased to age a long time ago when the Americas had become a pit of living cesspools. I didn’t need to hunt to keep my beauty; my rivers were fed by pools of inequity. On a good month, I fed often enough to keep my beauty for a century, on a bad one I could still last for years.

Humans had forgotten that I even existed. Nothing more horrifying than themselves could possibly inhabit the earth; at least that is their belief. How arrogant of them to think that they were at the top of the food chain.

I approached the house without hesitation. On this day I found his mother sitting on the veranda. She was smiling and sipping tea. As I approached her she seemed to be waving and beckoning to me.

“Have you come to have tea with me?” She asked.

“No, but I will sit with you for a moment if I may.” I said.

“Of course,” she answered and went back to sipping.

“How often does your son lock you in with no food,” I whispered.

She glanced around and whispered, “When I am upset, or having a hard time. He seems to believe punishing me for being weak will make me stronger.” she giggled a little, but there was a passing sorrow in her eyes. “He is not the person I thought he would grow up to be. His brothers and sisters live in fear of him and as long as he lives I will never be able to do anything for them.”

“As long as he lives you say. I can help you with that.” I said quietly.

“But, I thought you were the lady from the agency? They said they would be sending you. What can you do?” she asked.

“I am that lady, but I can also help you. I have helped lots of people with difficulties like these but you must promise me that no matter what you hear inside you must stay out here and do not look. You promise?” I said.

“Yes, I promise.”

As I enter the house the son approached me.

“Who the fuck are you and what do you want?” he bellowed.

“I wanted you to stop torturing you poor mother, but now I just want to drain you of your life force and put an end to your terrorizing.” I said.

He laughed, “You ain’t got it in you to stop me. I’ve seen shit like you before.”

“Really,” I said, “If that were true you would not be here, and I would not need to intervene on your family’s behalf so that they could live and prosper. I plan to give them everything you have.”

“Over my dead body!” he laughed sarcastically.

“Suit yourself.” I said calmly.

He sprinkled me with holy water, and dangled wolf’s bane at me. The motherfucker even had the nerve to flash his crucifix.

It was my turn to laugh, “I’m not a goddamn vampire you asshole, you don’t even have the good sense to know who’s eating you!” I yelled.

“And I don’t give a fuck!” he screamed, “Do you best!”

He brandished a walking cane and approached me with a loaded pistol.

“Very well,” I said.

Then I drained him, and left his nasty residue exposed to the open air so it could disintegrate and be swept away.

As I departed I spoke to his mother, “Don’t fret or regret, some bodies of water are destined to flow into the sea and others simply serve their purpose for a time and dry up. You have a family to see to.”

I touched her aged hand and life flowed into it. She wouldn’t be like me, but she would live long enough to see her family prosper.

I walked down the driveway to my car and checked my phone messages to see where I would be wading next.

Ponds © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

A Prelude to Hyde (A story of Hub City)

dancehall1

 

I spent all morning asking myself, “What was I doing here?”  It was a 1920’s dance hall converted into a modern event center. Its’ owners had taken great pains to keep it in its’ grand original condition.  Lots of people said he had been there to remember, but most people considered that to be urban legend, nobody had ever been known to live that long despite what ancient government rumors and outdated media propaganda suggested.

Falcón Gionetti was an old world restaurateur, enamored with movie stars, high rolling gamblers, aristocrats, and Mafioso of the past.  He wasn’t a crime boss himself, but it was obvious he admired the lifestyle. Some said that Capone once dined here as well as Hollywood Stars, and dignitaries from around the world. It still boasted lithographs of 20’s movie greats and grand dances with magnificent ball gowns plumed with feathers and lace and glittering with gems and sequins made from sho-nuff real fish scales.

But that was long ago, before Hub City was built. The skeleton of the building was made of some unknown flexible material which withstood the super storms that had leveled the previous territories upon which Hub City was now built; it was safe to say that not much else was left standing, intact.

I watched the echoes of gleaming light from the crystal chandeliers bounce off of the bubbles in the sparkling water as I poured them into plastic champagne glasses.  It was hard for plastic to mimic the elegance of this place. As much as the clients were spending to rent it, you’d think they’d have used real glass.

Working here, it wasn’t hard to daydream about what it must have been like to attend functions in this grand relic from a past I would not have been allowed to participate in. Blacks in the 20’s didn’t attend balls in this hall. They were servers doing just what I was doing now. Only then it was champagne pouring and cocktails.

I had been working here for some months, thinking it was a non-complex way to add a couple of hundred dollars to my monthly income that wouldn’t require much brain power.  Hub city rotations had allowed me to learn many skills associated with management of staff and kitchens, though it was not directly related to restaurants.

What I had not counted on was being promoted to Maître D, and assuming the responsibilities of scheduling and orchestrating the daily activities. It wasn’t time consuming, but it was sometimes very stressful.  Many of the other staff members resented my being promoted after only being employed here for such a short time, but after months of cleaning up scheduling, reorganizing the kitchen, and actually taking the initiative to get to know everyone, I eventually grew to be liked even favored by the staff.

That is of course except for Raymond, a half-black half something else throw back from the 1950’s who claimed to actually have family once connected to the original owners of the place. Which was hard to believe since he seemed to have such difficulty both managing his money and his own personal affairs. The only thing that seemed to have been connected to the past was his way too superior attitude.  He may have been the next in line for Maître D had I not so conveniently shown up to take the position.

I had been here since 10:00 am. The reception for some big wedding wasn’t scheduled until 4:00 PM, but it was my responsibility setting the tables, ushering in the decorators, and making certain each place setting had been poured a glass of sparkling water minutes before the guests were scheduled to arrive. Timing was everything.  But in my reverie I had not noticed the time. It was half past the hour of 4:00 PM, where was everyone? A hundred place settings with sparkling water, each with one cube of ice would not stay sparkling for long.  Water and ice were expensive, extravagant especially in these quantities; fines for waste in Hub city were exorbitant, I didn’t want trouble if the guests arrived late.

I delayed the final tables and the dais, and went to make a phone call.  After a short conversation with the owner, I returned to the ballroom to resume my duties. I was assured by my employer I would not be held accountable for the delay. I filled the last of the glasses and took my station at the front to begin ushering in and seating the guests when they began to arrive.

It was 5:00 PM when the first of the guest began to trickle in. The wait staff and servers including myself had begun to get bored and irritable. I finished an opened bottle of sparkling water and proceeded to seat the first of the guests.  A middle-aged woman in awe of the magnificence of the place looked around as if to discover any item not nailed down that she could collect as a souvenir. I notified the staff to watch her.

Next to arrive were the bridesmaids and groomsmen, a collection of either very fat or very skinny unattractive women, paired with a group of unmemorable gentleman in nicely tailored tuxedos. Had I a greater experience with weddings, I would have mentally prepared myself for the Bride. However a novice in these matters, I was shocked when upon entry, she stomped up to me fuming and announced loudly to the entire room, “This is not sparkling water!”

Embarrassed by her loud unruly behavior, I managed still to feel a bit resentful, having poured all hundred glasses of sparkling water, and feeling rather disrespected and unappreciated for the care given to her tables I responded handing her the bottle, “Yes ma’am, it is, and I’m certain it would still be sparkling had your party arrived at the time you specified.”

Her reply however singed my ruffled feathers. “Look waitress, if you can’t manage water, maybe you should call the owner and see if he can find more competent wait staff.”

I held in my angry response and called for new bottles to be opened, assisting the other wait staff to replace the flattened drinks. What did I care, she was paying by the bottle and would pay the fines for the waste, the owner would make certain of that.

As I poured glasses for the guests I began to experience an intense feeling of being observed, as if two pair of eyes had been following me at each turn. One set connected to a ruggedly handsome and charming middle aged man who seemed oddly menacing below the exterior of his mild mannered countenance.  The other set obscured from view. That made me nervous, timid.

I smiled and thanked the guests for their patience, and maneuvered my way through the tables, inching my way ever closer to the piercing gaze that had continued its observation of me from the moment it set eyes on me to the present.  What was he looking at?

“You stick out like a sore thumb in here.” He said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“That’s funny,” I responded, “I thought I fit right in amongst all this old-world elegance.”

He laughed a wild magnificent sound to hear. “I meant surrounded by all these uncouth, rude and unruly people, I wasn’t referring to the building, although you seem too young to fit in to the time to which these premises belong as well, unless you’re telling me you’re just well-preserved.”

I laughed.

Moments later Bridezilla returned complaining that she had nowhere for her additional guests to sit.  “As much as I am paying, I should at least have seating and food for my additional guests.”

“I am sorry ma’am, but the arrangement was for a hundred guests, as it is we will have to cut your cake remarkably thin in order for each of your guests to have a slice.”

“Look waitress, that is simply not acceptable, I want to speak to the manager.”

“As a matter of fact, ma’am, I am the manager, also the Maître D, so, if you have any complaints you may take them up with me, but be aware, your fees cover the cost of the hall and all extra services including catering, servers, and valet are contracted extras to which you specified at cost per person, and per hour. My employer will not appreciate any breaches of contract, if there are extra guests for whom food and seating have not been arranged it is because you did not specify any in your contract, therefore they were not and will not be accommodated for.” I was losing my patience.

The Bridezilla looked tearfully at her new husband and pleaded with him to do something.  “Look here lady, you’re spoiling our day and…”

I cut him off mid sentence.

“Excuse me Sir,” and I used the term loosely, “I am not trying to spoil your day, the arrangements for your day were made by your Bride, if she had anticipated changes or additions, she should have conveyed them before today, in these economic times, we do not prepare food or provide accommodations that have not be accounted for in advance, your wife said one hundred and that is what she got, anything outside of what was contracted will not be made available.”

The Bride bounced away with veiled threats under her breath of kicking my ass. Let’s see her try it, with her fat ass in that too tight dress.  I held in a laugh at the comical vision, and turned to see what the pair of eyes viewing the scene had thought. But when I turned to look he was not sitting in his chair. He was speaking with a gentleman in the foyer.  As I looked at him, I noticed something that had apparently been forgotten.

When I went into the kitchen Raymond was sitting on a stool with his foot against a shelf. “There’s trouble here, that man upfront is the police.”

“What kind of trouble?” I asked too shocked to even be surprised that Raymond was engaging in conversation with me.  He looked destroyed, like he’d lost his last bit of cash at the horse races and was preparing to lose his house.  And then I heard it, a scream like one of those you see in those 1920’s mystery thrillers.

I turned to run out but Raymond caught my hand.

“Don’t go out there miss, I’m sorry I know we haven’t gotten along well, but this is going to get ugly, I feel it.”

Something about the look on his face warned me that what he said was true, but how he knew this bothered me only momentarily.   In my few short months working here I had learned that when Raymond said anything about the future or alluded to upcoming events it was better not to question him, he seemed always to be right. That is unless it was some scheme he was working on for himself.

I called the owner instead and warned him that something was up and urged him to hurry down here.

As I was cradling the phone I felt him before I turned to see him there. Raymond eyed him curiously, not exactly with fear, but a mixture of wonder and respect the way you might view a lion in those zoos without bars.  I looked at him again and found my mind envisioning dancing with him in the ballroom with his arms wound tightly about me. It wasn’t like me to daydream about men I saw at events, or men at all for that matter.  I reminded myself that I was here in an employed capacity and shook the daydream out of my head.  I remembered again the thing that had been forgotten earlier.

“Come with me,” he said, I’ll need your help,” and then he looked knowingly at Raymond at  said sideways to him smiling, “and you clairvoyant, you had better make yourself scarce, the agency shouldn’t find you here, they won’t know you by your employment records, but they may recognize you  despite your seasoned appearance.”

Raymond nodded acknowledging his order and returning his smile he stood, collected his things, and departed immediately.

“You should pack up your things and be ready to go when your employer arrives.” He said plainly.

“How did you know I had already spoken to my boss, and why would I be leaving, I thought you needed my help?”  I answered in response to his request, or was it an order?   I suddenly had the feeling of being naked and I could feel the color rising to my cheeks.

“Let’s just say I have a way of knowing certain things about people. Like you for instance, manage your anger well, blush when you are embarrassed, and seem to be able to instinctively read how people feel or appear.” He said in a matter-of-fact manner while looking around the kitchen.

There was that color again.

“And as far as needing your help, I do, and I’ll be leaving with you, but I need to attend to something with the police first. They should not find you back here.”

“What did you mean by clairvoyant and how did you know,” I asked.

“That will have to wait until later. Can you find a simple ball gown here on the premises to borrow?” The man spoke in riddles. Didn’t the police already know I worked here and that I was on the premises? And for whatever should I need with a ball gown?

He looked at me and answered the questions in my mind without blinking, “I meant they shouldn’t find you back here with me and the gown you will need for where we will be going.” He smiled a knowing kind of smile and ushered me out.

I proceeded to the ballroom to await the police and my employer and stopped momentarily at the desk to gather my personal things to stow in the alcove nearest the exit. I suddenly had a feeling I would later need to depart inconspicuously and I wanted my belongings to be where they could easily be reached when the time came.

As requested, I located a ball gown, a fine silk lame gown I wasn’t sure was intended for a figure like mine, curvy, voluptuous.  I also found a fabulous pair of antique slippers.  Once everything had been stowed, I returned to the front to meet the impending arrivals and noticed again that the entry hall drapes had been slightly closed.  I first noticed it when I’d seen the gentleman speaking to the police chief in the foyer, and recalled it a second time when we were speaking in the kitchen.  How had those drapes been closed again, when the staff had aired and opened all the drapes hours before the reception?

Apparently the body of Lysander Archess, a prominent alien official had been found propped up at a table in one of the other ballrooms. That nosy old woman from the wedding reception had been wandering in search of something to lift and had discovered him sitting at the table and spoken. When he did not return her greeting she approached him and found that he was not moving.

In front of him was a plate trimmed in gold, a crystal goblet half filled with what may have been champagne, gold plated flatware, and a silk napkin. When she went to touch him, the head that had been until that point staring straight, fell into the plate. The resulting scream could be heard throughout the building. In her petrified state I guess she had forgotten the lovely place setting as potential souvenirs and ran screaming into the grand ballroom.

The Bridezilla overwrought with attitude, threatened to gather up her guests and leave but at the very moment she was conjuring up enough cheep sentiment to move the hearts and asses of her guests, my boss and the police arrived and refused to let anyone leave before questioning.  I was questioned first.  Detective Peters was the questioning officer.  I assured him that the premises had been thoroughly cleaned just this morning and that no ‘body’ had been there prior to 5:00 pm when the guests began to arrive. In fact,  both the cake and the photographer had gone into that very ballroom upon arrival and the Bride and Groom had taken pictures in the entry way while the cake was being set up for display and consumption.

The police questioned each of the guests one by one. The general consensus was that the gentleman had not arrived with the guests but had been installed there in the last hour. No one admitted to having seen him come in nor were they even certain he was among the wedding guests at all.

The Bridezilla’s father however insisted that he had been at the wedding, and had been a friend of the family for many years. A business associate of Archess, he had been in negotiations with him hours before the wedding. He found it very disturbing that none of his daughter’s guests were willing to come forth with information.  How could no one have seen him arrive?

It was then that I softly mentioned to Detective Peters that someone had partially drawn the foyer drapes after the arrival of the guests.  When he examined the foyer, he also noted that the outer ballroom doors had been closed. That had been done since the discovery of the body to avoid further alarming the guests and to prevent anyone from disturbing possible evidence.

I could feel the penetrating pair of separate gazes as Carlucci entered the room.  Detective Peters nodded his salutations to Carlucci as he crossed the ballroom floor.

“Evening Detective Peters,” he responded as he returned the nod.

I could tell from his mannerisms that he greatly respected this officer. I did not get this impression when he spoke to the police chief. I did not however ponder this long, being suddenly interested in the investigation taking place.

The body’s temperature was still warm as if it had been living only moments before discovery, and despite its severed head had maintained its temperature and avoided blood loss due to having congealed to a taffy-like state. What could have caused such a condition? I was too curious to be revolted by the dead body and peered over the shoulder of Detective Peters directly into the open neck of the body.

Carlucci stared directly into my face and asked, “Ms. Spires is this room exactly as it appeared prior to the arrival of guests?”

I looked around and attempted to notice any changes in the room.  A crystal knob was missing from each of the entry way drape tiebacks, no doubt the 1st souvenirs of our busybody guest which may have answered how the drapes were suddenly closed. This may also have been why the other guests hadn’t noticed his arrival. With the drapes slightly drawn, only those seated directly in the middle of the ballroom would have seen out into the foyer.

 

But this somehow seemed too easy an explanation.  How could anyone have known someone would take the tieback knobs? In addition, the place setting was not among those owned or used on the premises, if it had belonged to the owner I had never seen nor used it and I certainly would not have set out such expensive items so openly at any table among so many questionable guests. In addition to this, no champagne had been delivered for today. Where had the champagne come from?

The police officers questioned each of the staff and made inquiries about staff not present noting several names on the staff roster including Raymond’s.  I told them Raymond had not been scheduled to work today and two others scheduled were out sick.  I wasn’t certain why I suddenly felt inclined to lie, but I had a feeling that it was important not to mention that Raymond had been on the premises, I had yet to get answers to that clairvoyant thing, and I was certain I was protecting him somehow.

I could feel those two pair of eyes watching me again and caught a sideways glance from the pair in the room as he noted my fabrication.  Detective Peters took down the names of those present and allowed my employer to dismissed the staff.  Carlucci motioned me to the door.

I rose to leave, and then turned to Detective Peters, “May I go now?” I asked.

He smiled, “Certainly Ms Spires, we’ll be in touch if we have any further questions.”

I retreated to the alcove and dressed quickly in a storage closet located behind the curtains there, stuffing my work clothes into my bag, and draping my coat gently around my shoulders before passing through the alcove exit doors. A car was waiting for me there.  Carlucci tossed my bag into the compartment and ushered me quickly in. As soon as the door was closed I wanted answers to questions?

“Alright, Ms Spires, may I call you Cassidy?”He continued without waiting for my response “I suppose some explanation is in order.”

Gionetti is rumored to be greater than 200 yrs old, and though there is no documented proof, he is suspected to be an alien that landed on earth during the 1920’s. Though he’s able to manifest human appearance, he has never been able to change the appearance of his eyes, and through some in depth research I believe there are powerful people who have discovered his secret and are interested in the key not only to his longevity but the very nature of his existence.   As for Raymond, he too is not what he seems.  His family is connected to the Gionetti family and through some strange fortune he has inherited both limited longevity and his father’s ability to view the past, the immediate present, and the possible future.

He used to work with the department to hunt down serial killers and such, but got involved with some mob scams trying to make some fast money during the early 20th century and found himself labeled as a snitch. During those turbulent times it was not an ideal reputation to have and he suddenly found himself a target from both directions. The police no longer trusted him and the criminal element felt threatened by his gift, uncertain if he was feeding information to the authorities.  He was forced to go into hiding and might have had to stay there if the super storms hadn’t destroyed this entire area.  He remained here after discovering the family business still partially standing and offered to help Falcon to restore it.  His biggest problem now has been avoiding the Agency, since they have been hunting down and destroying all clairvoyants, fearing their gifts and feeling them too dangerous.”

 

He did not explain how he knew Raymond and would only say that he had run across him during some very high profile cases.

He continued, “A criminal element outside of the city who has been attempting for some time to get into Hub City had been blackmailing Gionetti trying to get him to use his influence with prominent wealth to find a way into the city. Although he’s not directly related to crime in the city, many of the rich and powerful respect his influence. Archess was simply a negotiator but I believe he discovered the bargaining tool used to persuade Gionetti and got greedy making him a liability.”

Hub city did not tolerate criminal activity from outside. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of crime in the city, but it was regulated by criminals in the city and outsiders were dealt with severely.

“We’re here, he said changing the subject, “I hope that was a good enough amount of information to appease your appetite, it’s all I can give you for now. “

As we stepped from the car a valet relieved him of the vehicle and a door person escorted us into the magnificent high rise. “Where are we? I asked but he only responded, “Don’t ask any more questions and for goodness sake don’t answer any.”

 

We entered a room filled with stylishly dressed people, and I felt a bit self-conscious about the antiquity of my dress. Truth be told its elegance fit in nicely with its present day counterparts, and on my body itcassidydress

probably drew acclaim it had never experienced before having been worn originally by toothpick thin flappers and debutantes of the 20’s.

One young lady eyed the dress with envy and asked, “Where do I get material to copy that?”

I responded,” In the time machine,” and giggled softly to myself.

“Dance with me,” Carlucci said catching me off guard. “Having fun? Don’t be too brutal, the young rich ladies have a difficult time as it is adapting to young women their own age. It’s  probably quite difficult having someone like you come in wearing what you’re wearing and looking like you’re looking wearing it, taking all of the attention in the room.“

I blushed and allowed him to sweep me around the dance floor.   I could feel the intensity between us increase as we moved from one corner of the room to another.   Simultaneously I felt a feeling of déjà vu and alarm. A gentleman who had been watching for quite some time now walked up to us on the dance floor.

“A woman like you could lead a man around like a sheep to the slaughter,” James Ekyl said and laughed almost wickedly. “May I”, he said taking my hand.

I felt myself being swept away for a second time without having had the opportunity to even consent.  I suddenly felt like a rope during a tug of war between two evenly matched opponents, but my instinct told me not to waiver into the direction of this handsome gentleman who now gracefully maneuvered me around the dance floor.   My instincts were seldom wrong.

He eyed Carlucci and masked a sneer as a smile. If I didn’t know better I’d have thought it was jealousy that fleeted momentarily across his gaze before returning to his all too aloof stare.

“They say you are known by the company that you keep,” he smiled, ‘that makes you, mysterious, intelligent and possibly dangerous.”

From his inference I assumed he was referring to Carlucci who eyed him casually from the edge of the dance floor.

“Sheep are not dangerous,” I answered and smiled provocatively at Carlucci as we floated past his edge of the floor.

He raised an eyebrow but otherwise did not seem perplexed.  As the music changed, James Ekyl lead me back to my escort and made several contrived attempts at flirting with the women at the bar all the while keeping his eyes riveted on Carlucci and me.  Curling my arm in his he swept me from one area of the room to the next, entertaining me with fascinating commentary and anecdotal narratives of the history of Hub City.

Within his casual chatter he included discreet references to Ekyl which told me the reason for my reservations. He’d use any method available to him to establish some relationship that allowed him a greater report with Gionetti and closer access to Raymond.  I attempted to ponder these ideas when a warm sensation caused by his palm at the small of my back began to be quite distracting.

I sultrily eyed Carlucci mentally sizing him up but could only maintain the gaze momentarily foiled by an intensity I had not expected to be there and suddenly I felt flushed.  He smiled acknowledging my failed attempt at seduction and lifted my face to meet that intensity head on. Smiling again he whispered against my cheek, “Careful little lamb, I am not a sheep.”

My head was spinning in circles the entire evening as I was pulled back and forth between the two gentlemen.  I began to notice a lopsided competition between the two, one that seemed desperately irritating to Ekyl but didn’t seem to disturb Carlucci in the least.

“What is it with you two?” I asked curious.

“Nothing, James wants anything he thinks might belong to me, it amuses me, but it’s not serious. Never the less be careful what you say to him. ”

I could feel his hands possessively holding my waist.   I was beginning to feel a level of attraction I had not considered possible.

“Shall we go?” He said.

“Yes,” I found myself answering knowing full well what he was asking.

“Wait here, I won’t be gone long.”

He walked over to Ekyl and they disappeared behind large polished parlor doors.  A short time later he reappeared and silently escorted me to the elevator. He walked with me to the vehicle and quietly drove a short distance before asking, “You don’t mind if we go to my place?”

“No, not at all”, I answered.

His flat was in an area I had never been to in the city. Clean and organized but somewhat tussled as if he frequently left in a rush.  He took my coat then kissed me deeply for several minutes, afterward taking a deep breath.

“I’m sorry; I’ve been waiting all evening to do that.” He said when he had breathed in again several more times.

I realized for the first time this evening that both pair of eyes I felt watching me were viewing me from the same source. Scrutinizing and evaluating like a test subject in an experiment as well as stalking and sizing me up like some large predator anticipating its attack.

“I won’t let them hurt you, but you may need to take this off now,” he said lightly fingering the delicate fabric of the dress, “I can’t be held responsible for what may happen to it if you wear it much longer.” As he said this he slowly slid the straps down my shoulders.

I looked up into his eyes to find a tenderness I had not expected nevertheless it was match by a spirit of urgency that almost made me lightheaded.

I was surprised to find myself at the mercy of a man who was capable of almost anything.  Or maybe I shouldn’t call it mercy.  Had he actually been willing to give me mercy or had I actually been looking for it under the circumstances, that may have been another thing altogether.  Under the influence of whatever thing this was in his spirit, he handled my body with complete abandon.  Each controlled stroke of his hands seemed a desperate insatiable manipulation just short of clawing, had we not been so enraptured I was certain that he could have torn the flesh from my bones.

Sweat streamed from him as he lifted me over and over.  The look in his eyes nearly consumed me.  Each penetration into my physical being seemed like a desperate attempt at connecting to me on a deeper level.  What was he trying to reach, besides orgasm?  My brain was too occupied to be asking these questions, I was being ravished by a man whose spirit was just short of an animal.  As he grew closer to orgasm I could feel a power striving to control him, but whether it was a power trying to escape or him attempting to subdue it at the time I could not tell.

A single hand crept to my throat and grasped me firmly around the neck with gentle but increasing pressure.  My eyes widen and I grew afraid but he did not let me go.  I opened my mouth to scream, but the pressure from his hand increased preventing enough air to escape from my lungs to allow sound.  I clawed desperately at his shoulders and begged him with my eyes to let me go.

At that moment he was at the height of his orgasm, and from his throat came a sound that was a mixture of the howl and a groan.  The sound of it vibrated the walls.  The hand at my throat released the pressure allowing me to intake breath. I gasped and cursed him as waves of orgasm overtook me, shaking my body from head to toe.

“What did you think you were doing?” I scolded with tears running down my cheeks.

He pressed his finger to my lips, his other hand gently stroking my hair and said, “Sh sh sh,  There are many things you do not know about the man you think I am, I would never hurt you but there are limits,  watch what you say.”

This was not a chastisement, but a warning.  My inner instinct told me not to be afraid, but how could that be, how different was he from the man who had been strangling the prostitutes in the street?  What separated him from the madman that was running around murdering unsuspecting women for no apparent reason?

Still I trusted my instinct.  I knew this man was not someone for me to fear, not in the sense that he would harm me nevertheless it was important for me to be very careful. As we lay there still, his spirit now seemed calm and he casually stroked my skin and we talked about the evening, its highlights, and its purpose.

“James will likely come to see you, but you shouldn’t get involved with him.  He’s a genius, but he cannot read minds, he mustn’t see us together too often, and never tell him anything personal, especially about us. He and his brothers are ruthless and dangerous.”

“What do I do if SIX comes to the event center?”I asked in concern.

“Never call him that again, many people know and refer to him that way, but few except his brothers have ever called him that to his face. People have died just being heard making reference to him using that name. Don’t say it again.”

Thoroughly chastised I moved on.  His face wore a snide grin as he noted my lack of acknowledgement to his rebuff and continued my conversation.

To accentuate the point he asked, “Did you hear what I said?”

I obediently answered only, “Yes.”

“He will likely lose interest as long as he believes you have no interest in me.” He then grew quiet and closed his eyes. I could feel the energy growing again. Round two.

A few weeks later James Ekyl (SIX) strode into the event center.  He was wearing his charm like his well tailored suit in the manner of a cultured gentleman, and though I was aware of him I made no effort to make any recollection of him.

After speaking briefly with my boss, he walked directly over to me. “Good afternoon Ms Spires, or May I call you Cassidy?”

The staff buzzed around as if the King had just come back and had decided he was hungry. They busied themselves serving him expensive dainties and cognac in a bottle I had never seen before. He invited me to sit.

“I really do have work to do?” I attempted to decline.

He motioned me to sit and insisted in gesture saying only, “Please.”

“What can I do for you?” I asked as much without feeling as I could muster.

He began to make small talk telling me of his business and himself and at length posed the query he had come to address.  “So how long have you known Carlucci?”

“I don’t know him at all, I attended the party with him as a favor, in fact I met him on the night of the party right here at my job. “

“That’s funny, from the way you danced I assumed you two had known each other much longer and had a much more intimate relationship.”

“Oh no,” I responded,” I don’t have any relationship with him at all. Besides I’m working on my career and seldom have time for relationships of any kind,” I said.

“Really and what are your plans for the future?”

“I plan to be a manager.” I answered.

“What of the city, interested in power eh?”

“No”, I said, “an events manager.”

I could already feel he was beginning to get bored. His initial cat and mouse game had been foiled and as his intrigue waned so did his interest. His final question put the icing on the cake. “What you don’t find men like Carlucci fascinating?”He asked.

“Actually I prefer the marrying type.”

A Prelude to Hyde (A story of Hub City) © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

written-for-30 (3) copy

The Devil’s Property Part 2

deadlynightshade

Two gentleman were fighting over a beautiful woman and swore that even if they had to fight to the death that they would win the woman’s hand. Both were handsome but aggressive, highly egotistical, and neither had even considered if the woman was interested. But the eldest of the two was a coward and in the end decided he did not want to risk dueling with the younger man for fear he would actually lose and decided he would instead invite him to dinner and poison him.

In choosing poison he had heard that the deadly nightshade was very potent, but he had also heard it was the property of the devil. At first he had thought to steal the herb but decided against it fearing to get caught so instead he went during the day to the certain grove where it grew in abundance. He approached the door and knocked rather sheepishly.

“Don’t be afraid, I shant bite you. Come in, and do close the door. You wouldn’t want to risk being seen here would you?” asked the young man.

“Are you the devil?” The elder gentleman asked.

“Oh goodness knows not, I have never met his person.” answered the young man, “But the master of the house knows his bidding and does it, what shall I say you wish to do?”

“The man thought for a moment. “At what cost the nightshade if I should wish to poison a man to prevent him from pursuing a woman I want?”

“The cost for the berries is measured by the piece, by the pound and by the parcel, for each piece you must endure a pain, for each pound you owe a service, and for each parcel you must provide a bounty of the type which the container normally holds. How many will you wish, and in what will you carry them.”

“How many will it take to kill a man?” he asked the young man.

“How shall I say, I do not even know the man. How much it takes to kill him perhaps depends on his size, his tolerance, how they are introduced.”

“Perhaps I will have them baked into a pie, and when he dies the devil may have his soul into the bargain. I will fill this grain bag with two pounds.” said the older gentleman.

The young man gathered the grain bag onto his scale and counted until the measure read two pounds. Eighty berries filled the bag.

“What do you normally use the grain bag for?” he asked.

“To carry the grains of wheat that I have grown and separated to sell; It is how I have grown prosperous” the man answered.

“Then for the parcel you shall provide the master of the property a grain bag filled to the brim with wheat, the best of your harvest.”

“That’s absurd, it’s nearly a quarter of my current harvest.” he protested.

“It is your request. You have chosen both the parcel and the weight, not to mention you’re the one wishing to relieve the man of his life. I am merely facilitating your purchase, you have set the terms.”

“Fine then, what else?” the elder gentleman asked.

“For your pounds you must provide the master with two individuals willing to do for him a service.”

“That sir will be the easiest, for I know many people I can convince to do things.” he bragged.

“Then you should find the cost of your pieces to be a piece of cake. You must choose between a nut, a bolt, or a screw.”

“I don’t know what you would need with such things alone without the other, but I’ll wager the screw is the most necessary.”

“As you wish, bring the first of your two people with you along with the grain and I shall arrange for your berries to be ready for pickup.”

The next day he delivered the grain and the first person he chose was his housekeeper. She had been with him for many years and it was she who would make the pie. She was herself a comely wench and might have been approached by the older gentleman herself if she had been in a higher station. Alas she had been forced to settle with occasionally warming his bed, and once he was married she wasn’t certain he would continue the practice. Though she did not really think the young lady suitable for her employer, she did not want to kill the brash young man either.

She agreed as her service to the master based on her on position to clean his entire house. It took all of a day and was spotless when she finished. When she was done she asked if she might make a deal of her own.

“Might the majority of the berries be substituted with benign berries so that pie might only make the young man sick rather than kill him?” She asked.

In exchange she would like for her employer to lose the contest but not die, in order that he would stop pursuing the young woman.

“I have no way to determine what amount would kill him, it is my duty only to deliver what was agreed upon, but if it is your choice to make him only sick, rather than the deadly nightshade use some other less potent herb in the pie and use all regular berries. As to the outcome of the contest, the master of the house does not dabble in relationships. Perhaps you would do well to speak with the young gentleman yourself.” the young man suggested.

She was grateful for the advice and did just that. But when the young gentleman heard that the elder gentleman would rather kill him by trickery than to contest him in an honorable way, he grew angry and went to see what deal the master of the property would make with him.

When he arrived he requested to have only enough of the berries to poison a bottle of wine, a handful that would fit in his pocket handkerchief. The young man explained the rate of exchange to him, but since he requested so few exempted him from the service because he had far less than a pound. Eight berries, merely a tenth of what the older gentleman requested. It was apparent he did not intend to kill the older gentleman merely incapacitate him. For his pieces he bid him choose the same as the older gentleman.

“A nut holds the assembly together, that is my choice.” he answered.

“And for what do use this handkerchief?” he asked the young gentleman.

“Merely to keep a token of my lady close to my heart.” he answered.

“Very well then, the master of the house will take only for his prize a token from the lady.” the young man answered.

The young gentleman was shocked, but felt it was only fair to inform her of what he had done. He went to tell the young lady. She was furious threw the young gentleman out and then stormed to the Master’s property. The blooms on the deadly nightshade were captivating, but she was too angry to be moved by their loveliness. She banged hard on the door. When the master of the house opened the door and she saw how handsome and charming he was she was disarmed.

“How may I serve you?” he asked.

She told him of the unwanted pursuit of both the gentleman and explained their wicked behaviors. He smile and he seduced her. For the next eight days she stayed with him. In each of those eight days he spanked her milky soft flesh ten times until it was rosy and his lust was at its maximum. He put the screw to her penetrating her each day one time eighty carefully done strokes until climax. She had satisfied both the requirements of each contract, taking both the screw and the nut. He allowed her to go saying she could return at will.

Meanwhile the foolish older gentleman had unwittingly drunk the poison wine and ending up ill for several days. When the young woman returned home she called for both men, explaining that she was now the mistress of the Master of the grove and would no longer see either of them.

Angry they both returned to the house.

The young man stopped them at the gate. “Both of your agreements have been satisfied. The young lady has provided your second service to the master, he has spanked her 80 times, screwed her eight time, eighty stokes each. She has provided the master of the house with a token of her affection, and in return he has given her eight of his. What else can I do for you?” he asked.

The gentleman both grumbled and turned away saying “You tricked us.”

The young man responded, “Never assume if you have a conflict between you and another person that the devil will take your side, never believe that you are the only one evil enough to want to strike a deal with him in the first place, never offer him anything that is not yours to give, and always remember if there is a prize worth winning in a deal that the devil will keep it for himself.

I suppose that it’s true, that all who make a deal with him must give the devil his due.

The Devil’s Property Part 2 © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

written-for-30 (3) copy

The Devil’s Property

deadlynightshade

In nature everything has a color. Many times the more dangerous things are colored so beautifully one might assume that they are harmless thinking that nature would make them unattractive in order to protect other living things, but in many cases that is not the truth. Belladonna or deadly nightshade has some of the most inviting berries found on a poisonous plant. It is said that the plant is the property of the Devil so anyone picking the berries had better be prepared to meet him face to face.

Well on a not too dark night in old Europe, a young witch dared to sneak into a grove filled with the plants and waited to pick the most succulent of these berries. She watched in fear as she began picking and placing them into a basket she had buried under her cloak. In moments she had nearly filled half of the basket and was delighted she had gotten away clean. But as the basket neared three quarters of the way full she heard a noise behind her.

“What might you be planning to do with those?” asked a male voice behind her. “You do know that those are deadly poisonous, and you might come to harm if you decide to use them in any untoward way. Not to mention the price you have to pay for simply picking them.”

“Are you the devil? I’m told that this is his province and that those who venture to pick it should be prepared to meet him, but how does one prepare to meet the devil?” she said to stall for time.

“I do not know I am sure, I have never met the man myself. Never the less I am required by the owner of this land to say thus to those who would pick the berries and risk inviting his presence that they must pay for the berries by the piece, by the pound, and by the parcel. For each piece you must endure a pain, for each pound you owe a service, and for each parcel you must provide a bounty of the type it normally holds.

“Couldn’t I just give you money for the berries and pretend I was never here?” She asked.

“Not if I am to live to tell the next young woman who ventures here to gather the beautiful ladies.” he said.

“Then what would you ask of me?” she asked.

“Let me see what you have.” he said.

The young witch withdrew the small basket from her cloak. The man poured the berries into a handkerchief and counted them into the basket, there were forty all told.

“What do you normally carry in the basket?” he asked.

“Bread and butter, wine and cheese.” she answered.

“Then for the parcel you must bring the master of the house a good wine, a loaf of bread with butter, and beautiful cheese.” he said first.

He weighed the basket and with the berries inside it weighed two pounds.

“For the master of the house you must kneel and service his manhood two times until he is satisfied.” he said.

The young woman started in horror. “That is an awful price to request of a young virgin girl.” she said

“Ah then you will hate the price per piece. Your choice, a strap, a whip, or a stroke.” he said.

“But I don’t know what that means!” she shouted.

“Never the less you must choose.” he said. “All you get is the choice, I have no further information than that.” he said.

The young witch said, “Fine I choose the stroke. It cannot be much more painful than either the strap or the whip.”

“As you wish, you must go there to the house to make your payment before you can remove the berries from the premises or risk the devil himself.” said the man.

The young witch thought to leave and not come back but she could not leave without the berries. After thinking loosely of a plan she agreed. She plotted to poison the master of the house and leave free after having obtained the berries. She placed several poisons into the wine and put it in the basket with the bread, butter, and cheese. She would encourage him to eat and drink first, to avoid the other payments and after he was sick or sleep which ever worked first she would then leave with her basket.

But when she arrived the master of the house came to the door with whip in hand.

“But I did not ask for the whip, I requested the stroke.” she said.

“And so you shall have it,” he said and tied her hands from behind and lifted her skirts. He stroked her nakedness until he reached twenty and penetrated her for the last twenty reaching climax just at forty. He then put her on her knees and positioned himself between her lips, reminding her it was death to bite. When he had climaxed twice he set her free. She was thirsty and tired and he offered a drink which she swallowed with gusto to wash out the taste. He handed her the basket and opened the door for her. She was beginning to feel sick.

“I’m sorry I ever came here,” she said to the young servant as she passed him in the courtyard.

He replied,” Never count on which seed the devil will sow first, no matter which instrument of punishment you choose it will almost always be the most painful, and if you dare to offer the devil fare containing poison make certain it was not intended for you.”

As she approached the outside gate she stumbled and fell lying in a forgetful sleep the berries lying beneath her. When she woke they lay nearly crushed upon the ground. She recovered those that were left intact and left the village never to return.

The Devil’s Property © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

 

written-for-30 (3) copy

Choose Your Own Poison

8379663496

 

Choose your own poison was something people said to you when you were out and about doing things you probably shouldn’t, partaking of substances, or foods, or drinks that might have consequences. The people who said this often knew of the consequences and wanted to remove responsibility from themselves. I wasn’t certain where the saying came from, but I was certain if I had to partake of a poison I at least wanted to be the one choosing it. I noticed when I drank, or when I ordered dessert, and even when I was gambling with friends, this phrase was repeated often.

So what if I didn’t want a poison, I thought to myself in a room full of people who claimed to be my friends. I stared at each one of them. Lonnie was a banker. He had worked at the bank for twelve years. His wife was a glorified secretary, though she called herself an executive assistant. If she was assisting her boss with anything it was head on a regular basis. We all knew she was fucking him. That is everybody but Lonnie. She flounced in every day with her overdone make up and kissed him on his banker’s cheek asking what he wanted for dinner. And he’d say some outlandish shit like duck la ronge, and she would cook it.

But everybody didn’t have a wife with those kinds of skills. Gary’s wife could barely put a meal on the table. I mean she could cook, but between what they made financially, they barely had money for bills let alone food. His wife was a capricious sort, whether or not there was food on the table depended on how she felt when she came home. Thank goodness they hadn’t had any kids yet.

Roberta, Tony’s wife was a different sort of bitch from an affluent family who claimed she didn’t need him or his money and she could do what she wanted. Tony was henpecked, and mostly just happy to get out of the house four nights a week so he could get away from her.

My own wife had characteristics of her own. She was smart and resourceful. She didn’t bug me but she had moments when she probably wanted to take me out back and shoot me. If I wasn’t the only person she could trust to hide a body she might have done so long ago. Our twelve year old twin boys were old enough to hold their own without burning the house down so on the nights I went out with the boys, she made them pizza or something quick, made certain their chores and homework were done and found things she wanted to do for herself. I appreciated the way she didn’t give me grief about spending time with my friends. She liked Gary’s wife and sometimes they would do things together if she had a little extra and she knew Gary’s wife would enjoy having an outing. She didn’t care for Roberta and after hearing that Lonnie’s wife was cheating she didn’t want to have guilt by association. It didn’t take long for stuff like to get around the neighborhood. She didn’t think it would be long before Lonnie knew. She wasn’t certain how things would turn out once he accepted that it was true. On the nights we were out we were certain Lonnie’s wife used the time to rendezvous with her lover boss, and Roberta was out wasting Tony’s money that she claimed she didn’t need.

On Saturday the boys would come over to my house to play cards. We didn’t even like cards, we just wanted to drink and spend time together. We had a day at each house so we could give our own wives a night of respite away from our daily madness. My wife normally took a long bath and waited for me to come upstairs drunk so she could take advantage of me. As we sat down to the card table one of the fellas would say it, “Okay choose your poison and unpack a bag of liquor with everything from beer to whiskey.

I wasn’t a real drinker but it was fun having the opportunity to try a variety of different things in the comfort of my own home just in case I didn’t respond well. A couple of those times I woke sick as a dog and my wife just walked over me and shook her head.

But on this particular Saturday, Lonnie seemed strange. “If you were gonna kill yourself, what poison would you chose?”

That wasn’t the standard way the prompt was usually made. The others jumped right in and outlined their morbid death wishes. But I didn’t feel like playing this game. Lonnie looked serious and I wasn’t certain I wanted to buy into my own death just yet. He emptied a bag which appeared to contain a variety of different shaped bottles with labels I had never seen. Each of my friends grabbed a bottle and poured the odd-looking liquors into their glass.

“You been telling us for months to choose our poison I’m giving you the opportunity to actually do so.” Lonnie laughed, but the look on his face didn’t seem to look like humor I thought.

Tony tossed back his glass and immediately poured another. Gary was reluctant seeing my hesitance and looked at his drink more closely. He read the bottle. It was a sleeping drought which stated more than a glass might cause a deathlike sleep, but in small amounts could induce a sleep like euphoria that could last for hours. Gary poured a tiny bit into the glass and tossed it back to taste. I looked at the bottles and decided I would try one if I could find one that didn’t seem as if it would really kill me. The bottle that Tony drank from was marked Curare Infusion, though he had taken his third shot it was not a straight version of the poison. In its natural form it caused paralysis and death due to immobilizing the diaphragm, but in its present form the quantity necessary to cause death would have taken the entire bottle. There was no risk of Tony finishing the entire bottle, he was having difficulty moving and was out of breath. In moments he lay sprawled out in the chair unable to move anything at all except his eyes and breathing like he had run a marathon and was having difficulty catching his breath.

I loved my life and loved my wife, if I wanted anything it was just an opportunity for things to be lively every now and then, you know for life not to be predictable. Lonnie handed me a bottle. It was said to be an aphrodisiac, but it also said in small print in too large a quantity it could stop the heart. I literally took a drop. I didn’t mind rocking my wife’s world later if everyone else lived to go home. If not I would spend the night masturbating and trying to revive my stupid friends.

Lonnie had a bottle of Jack Daniels, only a bottle I had never seen. It must have cost a fortune. Into it he put two drops from a black bottle marked nightshade and returned the top.

“All of you are stupid selfish morons. The poison you chose is indicative of the type of lives you lead. Tony here is paralyzed in the same way he is in his daily life, allowing his bitch of a wife to spend every cent he makes, talk to him crazy and treat him like shit. All he really needs to do is grow a fucking spine and tell that bitch how it ‘s going to be and if she doesn’t need him or his money she can go,” said Lonnie.

Tony had tears in his eyes, he couldn’t move but we could tell that what Lonnie had said had hurt his feelings, all the more because it was the truth.

He looked over at Gary who was now hallucinating strange ideas about how to increase his financial success. He was wandering around the room sounding like an inventor on an idea high. They may have been things he had thought of in his waking hours but he was too settled into the job he had and was afraid in this current economy to take any risks.

Lonnie shook his head again. “You gonna sit around and think about it for the rest of your life, while your pretty wife either works herself to death, loses her mind from the stress, or leaves you for some dude more capable of taking care of her. Or you gonna get up and try some of those ideas you keep having that you don’t do nothing about? You sitting around scared to live, watching your relationship die a day at a time, that’s just plain stupid.”

He was on a roll, and he did not stop when he got to me. “Don’t think you’re getting off the hook because this is your house. You got a good life, a good wife, two beautiful boys, and all you do is sit around and complain about how you wish things could be more interesting. That must mean that you’re a boring fuck cause if it was me I would be the one keeping it interesting. You don’t need no alcohol or no spirited elixir to give your wife a run for her money. She’s a beautiful girl. If she was my wife and I had gotten bored, I’d be somewhere thinking up shit to excite her, and there’s plenty you can do to make life fun for your sons. But if you want to sit there and let the time pass, by all means, go ahead.” he said a tear in his eye.

He wiped his eye and stood to leave. He cleared the bottles from the table. Y’all don’t need these, all you need to do is take control of the lives you have and make them what you want them to be. I’m the only one got some shit I can’t fix. That was the first thing that he had said this evening that had given me a clue that he had somehow discovered the truth about his wife. But he did not confirm this only left by my patio door. I tried to follow but that tonic was taking affect and I was not going to be able to do anything else but obey my own body tonight. I corralled Gary the “walking dreamer” and made him help me get Tony into the car to take them both home. My next door neighbor Dan agreed to ride with me, “Looks like you guys had a harder night than usual,” he said, “he’s breathing kind of funny, he gonna be okay.”

“Yeah, he’s just upset and he had too much to drink. He’ll be okay in the morning. ” I said.

“Gary seems kind of out of it too but not in a bad way.” Dan said.

“Some sleep should improve his current state.” I said uncertain.

Tony’s wife had not yet arrived home. We put him to bed and then dropped Gary at his house.

His wife looked at him funny, “What’s wrong with him?” she asked.

“Nothing a good night sleep won’t fix, help him take a bath and relax and put him to bed tomorrow he’ll be himself again.” I told her but I was wrong.

I drove back to my house and spent the rest of my evening quietly and contentedly seducing my wife. She was amazed at my attention to her every detail and fell asleep beside me smiling. She had done that before, but it had been awhile. I sat up afterward; the effects of the elixir were wearing off. I wondered what it would have been like if I had taken more. I hoped the guys would be okay. I was trying not to allow my attention to wander to Lonnie. I did not know what he had put in the Jack Daniels or why and he sounded like he had decided to do something drastic. I didn’t want to imagine what, especially since I had allowed him to leave in that state.

I woke the next morning to a wonderful breakfast. My sons were at the table ready to eat and anticipating some outdoor activity. My wife smiled and sang as she moved about the kitchen. My sons giggled and said, “Whatever happened to mom yesterday needs to happen more often, we like her this way.”

I laughed with them, I liked her this way too.

At noon, Tony’s wife called. “I’m sorry to bother you on Sunday,” she apologized, “Tony seemed to think I owed you and your wife an apology and would not let it wait until tomorrow so I was calling to say I’m sorry that I’ve been so terrible, I hope you’ll forgive me.”

I stood frozen at the end of the phone with my wife asking, “Who is it?” in the background.

“It’s okay, Roberta we’ve been up awhile, Tony okay?”

“Well he’s not himself, but he’s not sick or anything if that’s what you mean.”

That morning Tony had risen, packed his wife’s belongings and told her he was tired of her mistreating him and if she wanted someone else she was welcome to find him but he was no longer taking her shit or wasting his money. She was free to leave and go back to her father’s house whenever she was ready. She had looked at him in disbelief at first, and attempted to utilize her previous tactics, to which Tony replied, “Let me call you a cab.”

By the time the taxi arrived she realized it was not a joke. He put her bags into the trunk and gave the driver her father’s address. He handed her a piece of paper. “You’ve been nasty to my friends, if you decide you have anything you want to say to me ever again then maybe you should call and apologized to him and his wife. They’ve never been anything but nice to you.” He closed the taxi door and sent it on his way and turned and went back into the house. He cleaned it from top to bottom, fixed himself some breakfast, and laid down for a nap.

Gary too had woken in a different state. He discussed getting a better job, suggested his wife cut her schedule to part-time, and consider going back to school so she could work somewhere she earned better pay doing something she liked. In the meantime he had some ideas he had been working over in his mind that might generate some extra financial support until he could get a better job. She stood like I had, mesmerized at first waiting for him to laugh or let her know it was a joke or in some way she had been dreaming. That never happened.

It was a week before we found out what happened to Lonnie. I had called to make sure he hadn’t killed himself and was ecstatic to hear his voice when he answered the phone. But he sounded serious and said, “I’m in the middle of something important, I’ll have to call you back.”

A week later having skipped all of our regular outings, Lonnie showed up at the door, bag in hand. Gary and Tony arrived half an hour later. Lonnie put the bag on the table. We all sat quietly staring at the bag, and wondering if Lonnie was going to share with us what happened. He looked down at his feet for a long time.

When he looked up he said, “Sometimes for people to admit they’ve done wrong they have to get caught first. My wife had gotten that expensive bottle of liquor from her boss. I know she tasted it because it was open when I found it. I didn’t ask her about it and she didn’t say anything about it. I simply gave her an opportunity to come clean. I wiped it off and put it back where she left it. When she went to find it I followed her and asked her what she had. She tried to lie at first, saying it was a surprise, but when I asked where she got it she fumbled and stuttered until finally she admitted it was a gift from her boss. I told her she had to give it back, that it wasn’t appropriate for a man to be buying such expensive gifts for someone else’s wife. She tried to behave as if it was the first time and that she didn’t know I would get upset about it and agreed to return it.

But since it was one of our nights out she decided they would get together and drink it. They were in an expensive suite at a downtown hotel and had probably just started to have sex because when the paramedics found them they were still naked joined convulsing lying on the hotel room floor with the room door wide open. How the door got opened no one was certain but many people had passed the room and seemed to think they were in the throes of passion. A concerned visitor notified the front desk. The manager went to the room and when he found them he called the paramedics and the police. When the police called me to the hospital, I had no idea where she had gone and was genuinely surprised to learn they had found her in the middle of a sex act having convulsions. I asked why she would be having convulsions. The police suggested according to accounts that they had been sneaking around for some time and they had been given information to suggest that she was going to call it off. A coworker had said they’d had a loud argument about her husband having discovered her hiding a gift and made her return it. Apparently he was angry but was later overheard asking her to meet him at the hotel. The police think he tried to kill her to avoid having his wife find out. They found an empty bottle from some expensive liquor, it had residue of deadly nightshade. Both were very ill and hospitalized. The police want to know who put the nightshade into the liquor. Both claim they did not, but suspect the other. However neither is pressing charges against the other. Also some scandalous photos have surfaced. Our family lawyer says the bank president’s behavior is actionable. I am waiting to see what my wife will do.”

“So fellas choose your poison,” he said and took several bottles of beer from the bag.

Happy to see it was just beer, everyone took a bottle and said nothing. I was the only one who had seen Lonnie put something into the Jack Daniels bottle but even I didn’t know what. He had never mentioned to his wife knowing that the bottle was open, and she had not told him she had tasted it.

The following week, the bank settled out of court. Though she was completely at fault Lonnie’s wife asked for a divorce, he requested half the settlement for his pain and suffering, his wife and the judge agreed.

On Saturday Lonnie showed up at our door the same as always carrying a bag of liquor which I emptied onto the table. My happy singing wife had made snacks for our card game and gone to the show with Roberta and Gary’s wife. My sons sat on the floor playing Monopoly with Uncle Gary and Uncle Tony making bets on who’d win.

Roberta and Tony were seeing a marriage counselor and he had not let her come home but she had been told by her father that she had chosen her husband and she would have to work it out, she wasn’t a little girl and she couldn’t come running home every time she made a mistake.

“Choose your poison,” I said loudly.

“Gladly,” said Lonnie picking up a bottle, “as long as I can choose the consequences that go with it, I’m okay with that.”

That was the last time I remember saying or hearing that, until my sons graduated from college and were having friends over to celebrate. I stood at the patio door, and through the screen I heard them say together, “Choose your poison.”

Choose Your Own Poison © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

written-for-30 (3) copy

 

A Drink and a Smile

p1000146

A tale of Clifford Engram, Paranormal Investigator

“Two fingers, Gin, neat.”

I hate Gin. I never drink the stuff unless I am going to talk to a Dweller-in-the-Darkness. They hate it more. I discovered this quite by accident, but I never let it get far from my thoughts when I am about to make a deal with the devil.

The pub he wanted me to meet him in was just shy of a complete dive. You know the place, a redneck bar where everyone is wearing plaid shirts, blue jeans, shit-kicker boots and every third person shaves their head close, wears white tee-shirts and swastika tattoos. A place I wouldn’t normally want to be caught dead in.

Considering my Black face, it’s the kind of place I might only be caught dead in.

There are fifteen people in the place. The bartender called it a slow night when I got here an hour ago. The people seem amiable enough, they drink their drinks, they hit on the waitresses, they flirt with the local girls who are here trying too find someone to spirit them from this one horse town called Desolation, Oklahoma.

Why does he want to meet here, you ask? Something about a nexus of pure evil that runs through this town making it easier for him to manifest. Whatever. The sooner I get out of here the sooner I get back on my case.

I get up from the bar and stretch, noting the quick but covert glances from at least three of the biker types who came in earlier. My cane is propped against the bar, but I don’t actually need it anymore. My injuries were completely recovered. I could move my right hand and left leg easily. I could still feel the enhanced strength in the binding sigils in my right hand and left leg. With them running down my back, my strength was twice what it had been in the past.

If he didn’t get here soon, a fight was liable to break out just because it would improve their evening.

I could see the patterns. They were circling me, sizing me up. Two of them had already walked behind me to see if I would respond to their presence. The third was coordinating two others who were “smoking” out front.

I feigned being overheated and took off my long coat draping it across my seat. No need to get blood on everything I was wearing.

I make eye contact with the barkeep. “Another, and keep ’em coming.”

The gin slid down the bar and down my throat with equal facility. I stretched in preparation. I was looking forward to this.

We were all poised to begin our dance when a woman wearing a skin-tight red dress walked into the bar. She looked and smelled like every sexual dream you’ve ever had. Her movement was fluid, rhythmic, her eyes, green and luminous, lit up even darkest corners of the room. Everyone turned to see her.

Every eye that met hers felt the come hither electrical attraction. Until she got to me. I got nothing. No energy, no electricity. Only the stench of the grave. She walked up to me and kissed me on both cheeks before waiting for me to pull her stool out for her. I obliged, noting her arrival seemed to, at least for a moment defuse what was surely going to be a brawl to remember.

“Scratch.”

“Ingram. Are you going to buy me a drink?” Her voice was a breathy contralto, with a soft country burr. She might have been from around here, but not for a long time.

“You know that’s not my name.” I noticed the intonation on the “i” instead of the “e”.

“I know you don’t like me to use it.” She batted her eyelashes as if to say make me stop.

“Bartender, a gin for the lady. Neat.”

“No need to be rude, Clifford.”

“Tell me what you know and I may find it in my heart to buy you something more palatable.”

“How about that tall one over there, with the swastika on his forehead?

“Once I’m gone. Knock yourself out.”

“Why so hush-hush? You know you can trust me…”

Only as far as I could throw her…

“Nicolas, less flirting, more talking. Or I may forget our arrangement.”

She pouted. A lovely turning out of that luscious lower lip. “In this body, please call me Natasha. As for your inquiry, They’ve been here. They’ve been through town time several times. Each time to take on a small group of renegades and their human flunkies and disappear before sunrise.”

“Renegades?”

“You know all of us are not created equal. Some of us are naturally beautiful, like moi, others of us are gifted with other capabilities. Renegades have a gift for…violence, shall we say. They also have a knack for not following orders, so no one wants to work with them. They are beyond the standard level of violence for my kind, branding themselves renegades from The Cause.”

“Your people are still trying to take over the world? Have you learned nothing from the beat-downs the Agency have delivered on you decade after decade?”

“We are ever hopeful, ever watchful and know you’re all quite mortal. Where you have been diligent, your descendants might not be. Probing the defenses from time to time is how our operatives maintain their edge.”

“And how you get rid of the chaff and undesirables you don’t want or need to be feeding.”

A quick hair flip, she turns and leans in. “You have been quite rude this evening. What’s come over you? We used to be so good together. I remember when you were so friendly a decade or two ago. Now you treat me like a spurned mistress. What could have changed you that much?”

She leans in and sniffs my neckline. “Clifford, is that a woman, a human woman, I smell on you?” Another sniff. I don’t bother to push her away, if she doesn’t want to go, I would have to get supernatural to move her. “Hmmm. I smell nature and plants, she’s older than you. Magical, too. Strong magic. Voudoun, I am guessing. Is that a thigh I smell on your cheek?”

She smiles and leans back into her drink, taking the poison in one strong gulp. “And to think I went out of my way to find something special for you.”

“Where are they, Natasha?”

“They haven’t gone far. They would have come here tonight to deal with this group, but I decided I would handle them myself. They are waiting for you in town. Be careful, Clifford. Demonic cars don’t escape Repossession for long, but while they are free, they raise Hell on Earth. He also has a young man working with him.”

“Have they already made a Pact?” A blood pact would make them only about ten times more dangerous than a lone demon car.

She leaned forward onto the bar, breaking the final bonds with her human host. A pool of inky darkness formed beneath her chair. It undulated barely perceptible to the human eye.

“Yes, but I wouldn’t be too hasty. I think you might be able to turn them, if you’re nice enough. Like you used to be. Now go. I will take care of the riff-raff here.”

“No waitresses, no bartender, I know they’re clean.”

“But they have murder in their hearts.”

I looked at the bartender and his two waitresses. What she said was true. They were capable of murder and considered it on more than one occasion. Working in Desolation, Oklahoma, who wouldn’t? “Thinking of murder and being a murderer are two different things. Do what you want with the rest, but if I come back and find anything but a happy establishment, there will be hell to pay. Got it.”

“Party-pooper.” The inky darkness started to spread.

“What’s wrong with her,” the bartender asked, curious.

I reach into her purse and pull out a roll of cash, nothing but hundreds. I throw it to the barkeep. “Get out and take your girls with you. Don’t come back till sunrise. As a matter of fact, don’t even look back now. OUT!” The waitresses run to the bar and the barkeep grabs a shotgun on the way out. I like a prudent man.

I stand up and put on my jacket. “They’re all yours.”

“Bye, Clifford, come around more often. I miss you.”

I walked past the pool table and the large fellow with the swastika on forehead swung his pool cue with lethal force. I put up my right arm and let my connection to Fenrir loose. The cue shatters into toothpicks, some of which fly back into his face penetrating his flesh deeply. Unpleasantly.

He screamed and jelly from his eyes, along with copious amounts of blood splashed behind his hands. He never saw the spear of darkness that penetrated his upper torso and pinned him to the wall. Spears of darkness whirled around chair legs chasing the rest of the less savory fellows who weren’t quite sure what was happening yet. The more aggressive drew weapons, knives and the poorly cared for things they called guns. One fellow even got off a shot missing due to his terror of the black tendril coming right at him.

I didn’t even have to bother deflecting his bullet. The two from outside rushed in and before I could do anything stepped right into Natasha’s shadows. One fellow, he was a bit quicker on the draw than the other managed to get a cross out his pocket.

Unfortunately for him, he fumbled and dropped it. It landed on the ground and the darkness spread around it without touching it, like a drop of soap in a oily sink of water. Dwellers hate those things.

It was the closest anyone came to a victory tonight. I hope he enjoyed it. Because when Natasha’s done, he’ll wish I had just snapped his neck.

Now I have two problems to contend with in this town. Renegades and a demon car already in Pact mode. Normally I would let them take care of each other but that isn’t possible without a lot of collateral damage. While Desolation is a nexus of unrepentant evil, there are still plenty of good people caught in the crossfire.

That is, besides Natasha and her clan. They’re an evil I can manage.

I’m so glad I stopped dating her.

A Drink and a Smile – Fenrir and Phoenix © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved

written-for-30 (3) copy