Tag Archives: Paranormal

Came The Wind

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leavesThe golden, brittle leaf brushed over the top of her shoe, resting  in mid air for a moment. Another gust blew, picking up the leaf and spiraling it away, under a sky filled with darkened clouds. Alice shivered in her coat, the hem overlapping her knee high skirt. She bunched the top together, clutching it closed, having already pulled up the collar. She stared down at the marble and stone work that lay around her, the past staring back up at her. More leaves blew past her and the others, milling around for a moment, then taking off to skitter across the grounds.

The side comments seemed endless to Alice. A few suffered in silence, getting hugged, heads leaning against shoulders for support, comfort. Alice drifted from one group to another, paying attention to the tone of the voices more than the actual words. The elder set, the few who could barely walk, stayed by the cars. They huddled near the aunt who always needed to be the center of attention, her husky voice talking about anything but what lay before them. A few tears, clutched tissues, and a dreary day filled them all.

The service done, the discussions turned to who was following whom, where they were going, who had to leave. Hugs and kisses were passed around, and the car doors opened, and then closed. One by one, the cars pulled away.

Alice looked on. As the last car left, a vortex of leaves swirled together in the spot left vacant, a mini tornado of golds and oranges and browns. Alice turned to watch the receding tail lights pass through the gates.

The leaves dropped to the ground.

Imprint of a Bad Dream

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Three a.m., and Rachel woke suddenly, feeling as if an arm had withdrawn, a body, light,  pressed against her. Her heart pounding, Rachel turned away from the wall and searched the darkness. She should be alone, had been alone, for a long time now. No arms draped around her, no heat generating body snuggled in such a familiar way, no touch, no caress, nothing. Laying on her back, the clock light the only illumination in the room, the only sounds the passing of a car, then others…Rachel was aware of being the sole occupant in her bed.

Why, then, did she still feel like she’s still being held?

Tossing and turning, the night crawls by. Her pulse rate takes its time in returning to a relative state of normal, chest finally relaxing where she no longer feels like her rib cage would expand to bursting. Sleep comes, but is interrupted often by a quick wake up, startled, flipping over, wrapping her sheet around her, kicking off the blanket, putting the blanket back on. Three and a half hours pass this way.

Rachel slams the alarm button, and the clattering noise stops and leaves her hearing her own ragged, panting breath. The left eye hurts, the right one not much better. She rubs them with the palms of her hands, and they tear when she blinks them open again. Massaging her temples, Rachel puts her feet in her slippers and gets up off the bed. It takes a second to balance herself.

Her morning rituals go without a hitch. Rachel is on auto-pilot, showering, dressing and completing all her needs in the correct order, as she’s done for so many years, and while this stabilizes her, at the back of her mind she can not get over the feeling of the arm, the hand, the fingers splayed upon her back. “A dream” she says to herself. “A nightmare.” Shrugging it off, Rachel leaves to, as she sees it, truly begin her day.

It is one disaster after another. Stress piled on top of anxiety on top of belittlement, with a dash of confusion, worry and angst blended in to the mix. The car that cuts her off; the boss reaming her out; the phone call not returned; the splatter of grease from her lunch on her suit; the call that interrupts; her mother; the co-worker; the bill that she thought she paid; the smile not returned; the feeling that she still has not shaken off the nightmare grope, what it meant, why it still is touching her.

She feels as if she carries around an imprint of the appendage from the night, that it is affecting her day by rippling out to those around her. Rachel sees a grasping, a clutching that cuts off anything from running smoothly, the same old same old to the unexpected. It tightens and pulls, runs strangle holds over thought processes, thumps speeds bumps into her path. She was physically exhausted from lack of sleep already; Rachel felt, by end of her work day, completely beaten up, drained of energy, worn out, worthless.

Her briefcase, shoes, stained suit, shirt, stockings, bra and panties are scattered from the front door of her apartment to the bathroom. That was not like the normal Rachel, the put together Rachel, the almost OCD Rachel, the orderly, neat and clean obsessed Rachel. That Rachel had a phantom arm around her throat, constricting her every movement.

The shower head pumps out steaming hot water, the mirror fogs up in seconds. Soon her white skin is pink, turning to red, and it gets to the point where she almost screams that she feels the limb dissolve, melting away in the heat, running down the drain with the too hot water. Rachel presses herself against the tiles, cold on her back, fiery blast assaulting her front. Closing her eyes, she stands there until the pain finally reaches her, and she stumbles to turn off the left faucet, letting icy water race down her torso, genitalia  and legs.

Eleven p.m., and Rachel has finally made her way to her bed. Before this it was  mindless TV watching on the couch, huddled in her pj’s and terry cloth robe, nursing a beer along the way while she downed a few shots of Tequila. Her normal to bed time went by an hour ago, and she knew she could not put it off any longer. Two days of little to no sleep would do her no good, nor would two days in a row of being batted around by others, and herself.

Lying on her back, eyes wide open, Rachel checked the darkness, looking for any sign of movement. Nothing. She closed her eyes, re-shifted, opened her eyes, tried to focus, closed them, shifted again, and again, pulled the top sheet and cover up to her neck, swaddled her feet, curved into a semi fetal position, and finally…finally….finally…

Three a.m., and it was more careful this time, not wanting to wake her, to distress her, to cause her any pain. It floated its caress around her,  a diaphanous embrace of the night.

Leda and the Swan: National Flash Fiction Day

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Man Ray: Leda and the Swan

A swan walks into a bar…

No, not really.

A God walks into a bar…actually, the once King of the Gods…well, Greek Gods…and not King for a pretty long time…

…and it’s not really a bar, per se, but the bar in a disco, The Metamorphoses.

He’s not really Zeus anymore, either,  having given up that name for quite a while.  Too many just don’t believe in him and his anymore.

Zeus took flight and has  lived a long time as Mr. Swan.

So…A Swan does walks into a bar…

Mr. Swan saunters to the Metamorphoses bar and his burps dissolve into the loud music; his gastrointestinal expulsion is showing  his appreciation of a fine meal. He had just come  from the Olympus Diner, where he had:  an appetizer of Spanokopita; a generous helping of Lamb Souvlaki with rice; and he followed all that by two large slices of Baklava, dripping with extra honey (the waitress was enthralled, naturally, without knowing why). His stomach was happy, well sated. But…the diner had no liquor license (he’ll fix that in the morning). Swan wanted to get drunk…and he was looking for a little bit more pleasure.

The dancers were staying alive on the multicolored lit floor, the pulsating music swarming around the enclosed room. He scooped up a double Ouzo the bartender (a lithe blonde he intended to revisit) had set down, snorted a line of coke that was offered to him, and settled in. Swan scoped the place out, dazzled by the gyrating young flesh moving to a beat that stirred him in a number of ways. Sipping his drink, a smile playing around the rim of the glass, Swan found what he was looking for.

His eyes locked on a tableau: she was tall, curvy, long legged and teased out brunette hair. She had stylish (“for this age”, he thought) earrings, was not chewing gum, and best of all…she was alone. Downing his Ouzo and taking the replacement glass that was immediately in front of him, Swan boogied on down the steps of the bar/lounge area, across the dance floor, and up to his prey’s high top.

Chatting her up wasn’t all that hard, music blaring or not. Her name was Leda, she was a Broadway wannabe, and just had a fight with her boyfriend, Ty. She came with her girlfriends to let off some steam, and why was she telling him this and more, but Leda could not stop, nor could she refuse the copious amounts of Ouzo that Swan ordered for her. They talked, she laughed, he flirted, and they took it all to the dance floor.

If you ask anyone who was there at the Metamorphoses that night, no two stories would be the same, except for one thing: that night was magic. Everyone spilled out onto the dance floor, hours upon hours of drinking and drugging and sweating and laughing, taking things to an extreme that had never been experienced before.

And sex. There was a lot of sex that night.

Leda found herself with Swan in a ladies room stall. She wasn’t the only one that evening, but she was his main event.

Mr. Swan walked out in the early hours of the next morning bedraggled but beaming. He kept the music alive in his head and an arm around the blonde bartender, heading back to the Olympus Diner for some eggs, disco fries, ambrosia,  and the still enthralled waitress (her shift was over when she paid for his bill). The three of them had a fun morning.

Leda found Ty sitting in front of her apartment door. He as ten times ten apologetic, taking all the blame and asking her not only to take him back, but to marry him. He was an idiot, he admitted, and…and…and…

Leda said yes later that afternoon, after the two of them got out of bed and got dressed. They went for lunch at the diner (missing Zeus..um…Swan drop off the waitress by minutes) then got in his car and eloped,  driving to New England.

Nine months later, they had twin girls: Poly and Helen. Leda never questioned, Ty never knew, and the both of them loved to love their babies.

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From the UK comes the first ever Flash Fiction Day (National should become International, but that’s for another time).

What is Flash Fiction? Well, you can read about it HERE or HERE or even HERE.

My working definition: It’s a very short piece of work, not normally considered a short story (which usually has word counts under 7,500 words). Flash is basically considered anything from a few words to one thousand (give or take). It cuts out meandering sentences, extra words, and run on sentences, as you, as the writer, are forced to focus on being as concise as you possibly can. Unlike this explanation. 🙂

Most of what I write here on Tale Spinning has been Flash Fiction (without my announcing or championing it). I really discovered what FF is thanks to Lisa Vooght, author of the aptly named blog, Flash Fiction. She’s also the one who let me on that there was a National Flash Fiction Day. There are many others out there, and it’s been a pleasure finding them, bit by bit. Might be a blog post just on other FF blogs to find, but again…that is for another time.

You have 16 more days to read my Swan Rise series before it comes down on June 1st. Click HERE for all the links to the 26 stories. (and no…this story is not part of Swan Rise).

Ashes

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Even after reading about all the possible side effects, Jean wore her mother around her neck daily. Others complimented her on her memorial diamond pendant, with many commenting about it afterwards, not all in a favorable light. Compressed into a stunning jewel, strung and embraced in an array of silver filigree,  the late Mrs. Deidre Ann Cabochon glared from her daughter’s chest.

Cremated only a month previously, the ashes were mixed with snippets of her hair, and all was distilled to the carbon left behind. These were sent into a press, to duplicate the forces of nature. Extreme heat, 1,000,000 p.s.i., and time…and from the passing of the deceased came a new jeweled existence.

Or so Jean thought, even though the price was high on many levels.

Her husband, Paul, disagreed to the cost, both financially and emotionally. He was never fond of Deidre, a woman he found narcissistic and shrewish, and if he had been honest with anyone he would have loudly pronounced how glad he was that his mother-in-law was dead. Paul saw how Jean suffered during her mother’s long lingering illness, how she put “that woman!” on a pedestal, even while being ordered about and verbally demeaned at every turn. Jean just turned the other cheek, said it was the woman who gave her birth and raised her, and that was that.

Paul moved out the day after the jewel was delivered.

When she got the package, Jean cried as she opened it, and cried as she held it out to examine it. Jean asked Paul to attach the clasp for her. He went behind her as she moved her hair aside and did as she asked. There was a soft “snkt” sound; Jean let her hair down and turned around to give Paul a hug. She held him, lowering her head onto his right shoulder, pressing her body against his, tears leaking down, which he felt through his shirt.

Paul also felt the diamond pendant digging into his chest. Uncomfortable as that was, he felt…more. There was something emanating, a negative grasping, and it hurt on a much deeper level then the prick of the necklace pressed against him. Pushing away was hard but Paul moved a few feet backwards, seeing the pain in Jean’s face but he found himself unable to answer her question of what was wrong.

She needed comforting the rest of the day, and each time Paul’s horrible feeling deepened. He felt lethargic, and depressive thoughts flayed him, making deeper cuts as the day progressed. By the time they went to bed-Jean still wearing “her mother”-Paul was ready to slash his wrists. In her sleep Jean rolled over to the edge of the bed, as Paul, awake, did rolled to the opposite side. There was a lessening in his chest, and things felt calmer as he went to the bathroom (down the hallway), and still when he went downstairs to the kitchen for a cold drink.

Sitting at the kitchen table until dawn, Paul went back upstairs. Each step was agony, and when he got to their bedroom door, he knew. Grabbing his clothes, he woke Jean up.

“Get rid of that necklace, Jean. Let her go, or I will…”

“You’ll what?” she said, belligerently, rubbing her eyes, up on one elbow.

“I’ll leave. That thing…something is wrong with it.”

An argument ensued, words were said, many that could not be taken back or apologized for, many that Paul had heard from Deidre’s mouth only months before. Jean came towards him in fury and tears; Paul bolted with his clothes, changing in the car before running away.

Jean grieved doubly now. She started to lose interest in eating, slept poorly, wandered aimlessly, and while all around her said she was in the grips of depression, none would say so to her face. She would talk about her mother in one breath and be scathing in ridicule in the next, tearing apart friends, family, and co-workers alike with a viciousness that was “not like her” (or so they said).

Hollow eyed, sallow skinned, Jean played with the jewel almost constantly. She shortened the chain the one time she removed it, making it a choker, in so many ways. Her belligerence became so brutal that she was told to leave her job, that she was creating an unhealthy work environment. She spat in her bosses coffee when she got up to leave, gave her the finger, and slammed the door on her way out.

Jean sat in the dark, in her living room, gripping the arm rests of the chair she had inherited from her mother. She contemplated many things, but they were about the others, what they had done to her, nothing was her fault, and why were they all crazy? She had bought a 1.4 litre of Irish Creme, Deidre’s favorite, and killed it in one sitting. Feeling queasy, Jean left the house to get some fresh air.

She thought getting in the car for a drive upstate was a good idea, at the time.

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Author’s Note:
There is more to write about Jean. 845 words is not enough, but it’s enough for me, today.
There actually is a business of putting the ashes of the deceased into jewelry. Some of it is done as described in the above story; the rest are hollow receptacles for the cremated ash. I was told about this by my SO, who loves medical and scientific things, and it has been filtering around my noggin…
until a short Associated Press piece caught my attention: “South Korea has seized thousands of smuggled drug capsules filled with powdered flesh from…”
….well, the rest would be telling where I want to take this whole thing. Suffice to say, reality is just as bad as fiction, n’est pas?

Click here to read The Complete AtoZ: Swan Rise Apartment Series

Only available for free until May 31st, 2012

A to Z: The Complete Swan Rise Series

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Open House: Trespassers Welcome

Swan Rise Apartments went out like an exploding lamb; it came in like a sleeping lion… but the building, and its inhabitants, did not always remain so. They lived lives that were hungry, playful, sleepy, lusty, fearful, agitated and on the prowl; they reared their young, and did what they needed to survive in this vertical village.

Welcome to… Swan Rise Apartments

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…and so, the story unfolds. 26 interlocking stories set in the world of Swan Rise Apartments, all written for the A to Z Challenge that ran throughout April 2012.

You’ll find links to all the stories below; each one stands alone, but many have roots and connections in other chapters.  As a whole, it tells a story of the lives that swirl around apartment building life.

Each Sunday, I’ll re-post these links in case you missed any and for your ease in finding them.

The stories will remain up only for the month of May. As of June 1st, I will be taking all of the stories down from Tale Spinning so I can work on a larger second draft of the work. Some of the earlier pieces need fleshing out, and discoveries I made along the way need their roots dug deeply in the beginnings.

May 30th will be your last chance to read, and comment, on these stories. Hopefully, you’ll eventually hold an expanded version in your hands.

Comments are always welcome no matter when you read the story.

Week #1: A to G

All, Tumbling Down

Basement Boogie

Children in the Hall

Doggie Doings

Equivocation Elite

Fire(escape)

Ground, Breaking

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Week #2: H to M

Holidays, Haunts and Hearts

Imaginings of Love

Jung, @Heart

Kindred Spheres

Laundry Room Mafia

Mrs. Beatty

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Week #3: N to S

Not What They Seem

One Man’s Ceiling…

Pollination in the Parking Lot

Quack, Quack

Retraction of Gravity

Super, My Super

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Week #4: T to Z

Thieving Ways

Underneath It All

Vertically Challenged

Weather Man, Oh

Xanthippe

Yeah…Life Goes On…

Zenith: Arising

Zenith: Arising (#AtoZChallenge)

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The A to Z Challenge : 26 Stories during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building: Swan Rise

(For Links to ALL the previous stories, CLICK HERE

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Goodbye…

The wrecking ball wrecked, the explosives exploded, and all the debris was carted away. Stone, bricks, glass, wood, metal piping, aluminum, copper, brass, steel, plastics, rubber hoses, cables and…among the detritus there were also bits and pieces of lives mixed in: slivers of dolls and toys; charred papers that once were whole books,  someone’s thesis or love letters, wills, documents, pictures; cloth that, in some pieces, you could see patterns that illuminated a sun dress or once expensive curtains; some bones, those of the pets that were never found. So much life mired in destruction.

Swan Rise Apartments was no more; really, it hadn’t been for months. The property was condemned: the damage from the explosion and fires were too great. Part of the foundation was in shambles. Inferior piping was found to run through the remaining section of the building, and some of the landings were precarious in any hope of their holding up. The majority of the building inhabitants were not allowed to retrieve their belongings. They all settled, out of court.

Swan Rise fell in November of 2005.

That winter was fierce, and building anything was held off for months as ice storms and heavy snows blanketed the area. There was also litigation for wrongful deaths, finger pointing, bribes not paid, fines not paid, union disputes, haggling over bids, and planning…lots of planning. The real estate was too valuable to leave an empty lot.

Construction began in the early fall of 2006.

The wild life that floated up and down Swan River ignored all the doings. They lived too far away to be inconvenienced beyond the initial blasts. They’d fly over for the morsels that were tossed from workers meals, carelessly done so in the already made squalor. The birds let their presence be known in a number of different ways, many times being cursed out by a construction worker who was “hit.”

For close to two years the area morphed from gravel, dirt, weeds, and the past into a new edifice of metal, concrete and glass. Swan River Road was bustling with traffic, the sprouting of other buildings and businesses growing substantially from 1960. New construction always brought gawkers around, rubberneckers ogled the cranes bringing girders to be placed, and the welding and gluing and mortaring and tarring  brought things to a standstill all too often, much to the chagrin of the other inhabited area.

2008, and a new renamed building was erected, zoned for two extra floors, standing seven stories tall. Taking far longer than anticipated, the building management was chomping at the bit for all the lost revenue. They made it a condo, and had nice down-payments in the bank for all of the apartments by the time the construction was complete. There was a waiting list, and would continue to be one in the years ahead.

The tenants of Mallards Crossing Condominium moved into their new residences.

Hello…

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Author’s Note:

April 2012 comes to a close and this year’s AtoZ Challenge with it. 26 posts about Swan Rise Apartments and its residents. 24 stories; two poems (one free form; one sonnet).

If you were wondering, I wrote 18,032 words during the month; if you add in The Whistler is Dead, it is 18,493 words in length. Not too shabby.

Please note that these stories will be left up only through May 2012.

I will then take them offline as of June 1st, as I plan to put this whole thing through an editors pen and a second “draft.”Quite a lot of the early ones need some fleshing out, especially the two poem posts, so I hope  to bring it over 25,000 words; more, if I get really ambitious.

From there, it will be query letter time.  If an agent or publisher only sees this as tainted goods (already published) then I WILL go the self publishing route, but there will be a lot that was never intended for the AtoZ that I had in mind and little to no time to write. The reaction on the comments and in emails has been so positive that I’d be silly to let this just lie here solely on a blog.

Thank you to all of my readers. You’ve been my “beta” testers, my writing cohort, as I’ve explored this story as you have: day by day. I made many discoveries along the way, and very few of the original titles I “planned” out remained. I never knew there was a murder in the building until I wrote it into one of the stories, a throw-away line that had a life unto itself. Mrs. Beatty was only a small dot to me when I wrote the first story: she became a loved character to many of you (and me as well). So many others in the building took on more weight (Amy came out of nowhere, and I’m glad she did), and a few will get some expansions when I work on this over the summer months.

A big Thank You goes to Lisa Vooght for being my sounding board, playing editor and  finding some of my outright mistakes, and for all of her support. She is an amazing writer in her own right and you should check out her creative fiction blog, Flash Fiction.

I also want to thank Arlee Bird (founder of the blog fest: click on the logo heading this blog post to go to their site) and his co-hosts for running this and giving over 1500 bloggers a chance to spread their wings (and go a little crazy in the process).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of interwoven tales. This was both tiring and exciting for me as a writer.

Comments are always welcome, no matter when you read the stories.

Did you have a favorite of the 26? I’d like to know which one(s) were for you and why.

That’s always a big help and a blessing for a writer: feedback.

Thanks all!!!

Stuart

Holidays, Haunts and Hearts (The #AtoZChallenge)

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Welcome to the A to Z Challenge during the month of April

Welcome to… The Apartment Building

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Do you remember walking into your parents or grandparents home during a holiday, and the smells that engulfed you as you opened the door? Close your eyes and think about that for a moment. Take it in, remember the smells that made you salivate, wanting the special meal to be ready right now instead of “sit, drink, mingle, How are you?” small talk. Take the hugs and kisses, take off the coats, and take in the aromas that drift about.

Now, imagine that smell times fourteen:  the elevator doors open and you walk onto the apartment building floor. It doesn’t matter what floor you walk onto: the aromatics pounce and you breathe them in, letting the deliciousness find its way to the pleasure centers in your brain. If you were a cartoon, you’d be able to see the tendrils of this olfactory desire pick you up and float you to your destination. Your stomach would growl in anticipation, gurgles that needed to be sated, and soon.

During the first three decades of Swan Rise Apartments, the scents were a mixture of Italian, Jewish and some Irish. Everyone celebrated St. Patty’s Day: boiled cabbage left its special tang throughout the building and out onto the parking lot and street. During the other main holidays you had a bouquet, an olio of cooking meats, sauces, gravies, spices, all spilling out into the hallways, melding into a gastronomic dance.

People moved on, one way or the other, over the years, and the traditional smells seemed to decrease as the building found new salivary accompaniments: Asian, Mexican, Island, Southern and more entered the aroma grounds, replacing some, adding overall to the party.

Some say the building was haunted, and more so during the holidays.

Meredith in 5G, and her guests at her first Seder, heard the tinkling sound of dog tags by the front door. Her beloved pup, Pooh, had been gone for two years now, and she couldn’t face up to getting another dog after a fourteen year bond. She would not let anyone open the door for Elijah, cup full of wine or not.

Mrs. Clarke would feel her mother when she was baking Christmas treats, especially when she was making their favorites. She felt Mama with her, helping her mix the bowl, drop the cookies onto the baking sheet, and in all the years since her passing Mrs. Clarke turned out perfect cookie after perfect cookie…just like her mother had.

It was the small noises that creeped Mrs. Beatty out the most: the window blind’s light clanking against the pane or the glass, when there was no wind, no window open; the creaking on the ceiling (she lived on the top floor); the kitchen cabinet door that squealed when it swung open on its own;  the taps, mutters, growls, scratchings, whispers, thumps…all of these things preyed upon Mrs. Beatty. She did not need a holiday to fear them, they just seemed worse to her, then.

Scott and James felt the spirits enter them on most holidays, and most weekend nights, leaving them worse for wear the mornings after.

The holidays also produced a lot of joy in the Swan Rise over the years. So many marriage proposals happened during these hectic days, or announcements were made at the family gatherings. Cheers rang out from behind many apartment doors, and the good will and sentiments spilled out around the building  in the days after, passed around in the elevator rides and the laundry room gossip and waiting for the mail.

Smiles were produced on an ongoing basis as the children grew up and found themselves starting their own families. Many ended, many more stayed together, and many produced new little feet to run down the hallways.

James’ older sister, Katherine, went into labor during a holiday. Went into labor AT the Thanksgiving dinner. Little Sara did not want to wait for her father to get the car, nor for any fancy machinery or her mother’s protestations of OOohhhs and Gahhhhs and other squeals of through-gritted-teeth pain. Her grandmother had been a nurse, and that was good enough.

Sara’s grandfather said, upon seeing his newborn first granddaughter, that she looked like a small naked turkey. His wife smacked him in the arm and shooed him out of the room.

The fragrances of the many Thanksgiving dinners wafted into the apartment to greet Sara, welcoming her to a world of vast sensory caring. Sara’s parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts milled around, stirring the fragrance pot.

If they hadn’t been cooing and ahhing over Sara, they would also have heard the sound of the tinkling of a dog’s tags and the rapid swishing of a tail, all by the front door.

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Author’s Note:

I apologize to all who read The Apartment Building series for being so late in posting today. MY holidays got in the way, and I found myself doing a lot more traveling than anticipated.

I hope this story makes up for it, and I’ll do my darnedest not to let this happen again.

Velocity

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Jim made a right turn at a red light, at a corner with two signs saying “No Turn On Red.” His tires left tread as he barreled through the intersection. No cops, just a couple of honkers annoying him.  The Beamer behind him was blistering the air with a staccato of horn blasts. Jim just gave him the finger and sped up, passing through the next light before it turned.

Previously, he had outraced four Yellow “Go Faster!” lights, blew through five Stop signs, crossed over the double yellow lines (to get around the “old farts”) three times, and came close to hitting two cars, and one woman with a stroller crossing in the crosswalk (who had the right of way, but Jim didn’t see it that way at all: he ignored anything that even hinted at “right of way” rules, as his was the only right of way he believed in).

His H3 Alpha had two and a half tons of pure motion in his hands and under his feet; a weapon of the streets, and he aimed to drive as if Hell was on his tail.

He was partly right.

After more almost mishaps, Jim made it home from his beer run. Braking hard, he careened into his spot, barely missing the cars parked parallel to his. He slammed the driver’s door shut. With six pack in hand, he sauntered across the parking lot to the apartment building. Banging open the door, he was confronted with the angry glares of the daily laundering ladies, sorting their whites and colors and silently condemning him for his loud music, his caps on backwards, his wife beater Tees, and his baggy drooping pants.

Jim sneered a Hello to them, walked down the hallway, and danced onto the elevator, which luckily for all was waiting to take him up to the seventh floor.

Unlocking his door, Jim stopped in his tracks. Envelopes were strewn all over the foyer floor. Cursing, Jim kicked the door closed, went to the kitchen and put a six pack in the fridge. He cracked one open, and while swigging it down he went back to get the “under the door garbage.”

Expecting menus or advertisements, he opened one and found a traffic ticket: $150.00 fine for going through “No Turn On Red” signs. There were pictures on the page, clear and damning, of his car, his license plate, him behind the wheel. Shouting out expletives that were heard by the neighbors, Jim picked up the rest and headed to the kitchenette table.

Thirteen more envelopes later, Jim had a stack of traffic tickets in front of him. All had high fines, all had shots of him supporting the fines. He stared at the pile, growling as he set tightly gripping the bottle of cheap lager. He looked them over one more time, then tore each one in half. Crumpling them up one by one, he tossed them into the trash. Out of character for Jim, he took this garbage pail, only half full, not overflowing,  out to the trash chute at the end of the hall. He stomped back to his studio apartment, slammed the door, locked it, and went off to polish off the five remaining bottles in the fridge.

The next morning Jim found fourteen more traffic tickets on the floor by his front door. All the fines were doubled, in large red letters. Again, Jim tore them all up. On his way out, he met the super and complained about someone getting into the building, leaving things under his door. The super waved him on while he continued to mop, having something to gossip about later with his cronies in the building.

Jim’s traffic transgressions were doubled this day, anger seeping out of every pore. When he got home from work, he was greeted by forty-two envelopes, all splayed out on the floor. He tore into them as he threw off his faux leather jacket, opening the refrigerator for the first of cold brews (having replaced the empty six pack with a fresh one in the morning).  Plopping down in his La-Z-Boy, Jim opened, read, and then tore up all the violation warnings. He threw them into the waste basket next to his chair, most of the pieces winding up on the floor. They stayed there.

Waking up from an hour and twenty minute nap, Jim though he had heard a noise by his front door. Getting up to check, he saw more white rectangles littering his floor. Jim ran over, unlocking the door and yanking it open. No one was near his apartment. He ran to the elevator, which was stopped on the floor above, then checked the stairway. Mrs. Elway, widow, garbage bag in hand, saw Jim in his frantic ways, had been going to the chute to dispose her daily waste. She quickly waddled back inside her apartment, locking it, to wait out Jim.

Once back inside, he ripped open the flaps. All the fines were doubled again. The bright red “Warning: Do Not Disregard or Tear Up These Notices” was stamped on every single one of the sheets, top, bottom and the back. Jim wanted to shred them all. They sat in a pile on the table, in place of where he’d eat.

The next morning, another round appeared. Jim called in sick (his boss not believing him and started the process of replacing Jim once they hung up) and waited until 9:00am to call the traffic division. He demanded to talk to whoever was harassing him in such a way. The phone receptionist, taking only so much bad language, disconnected him. And again, first apologizing for being disconnected. Jim called a few more times, finally realizing he was going to get no where.

His drive to the traffic court was sedate, for Jim. Only three infractions, but they grew after Jim spent two and half hours of hurling insults and almost getting arrested for his behavior. His drive home made the local evening news, as people were recounting the dangerous driver who tore through the city streets “like it was his own personal Daytona 500” (said one onlooker who said he barely got out of the way in time).

More envelopes. More doubled fines. More “Do Not…” warnings. Opening up the calculator app on his phone, Jim tallied a staggering amount of fines. His savings and checking account combined wouldn’t even make a dent in what this added up to be.

Jim put his head in his hands, closed his eyes, and tried to calm his racing heart. He heard a sliding sound, got up, and by his door was one envelope. He picked it up: white like the others, but it had stamped on the outside “Last Warning, Jim.” Looking through the peephole, the empty hallway loomed before him. One of the overhead lights went out while he was peeping.

Going to his once comfy chair, Jim plopped down, examining what he held before carefully opening it. The paper was slick and shiny,  coated so that there was a slight glare off the page, reflecting the now fading sunset. A definitive sum headed the ticket, with a list of all of his driving misdoings. Jim read them all, carefully, the bile in his stomach churning with each and every misdeed. This carried on onto the back of the “rap” sheet, ending in a list of terms. Two:

  1. Pay the full amount by 3:33 am (or)
  2. Surrender yourself for full punitive justice

Jim had to look up the word “punitive.” Looking up at the clock on the wall, he had just about ten hours to find the money, or…

Grabbing what he could, Jim tore through the building, out to the lot, and into his SUV. He hit the road, running, and made it to the highway. He drove for hours, going south, then south east, then north for a bit, taking one connective road after another. No plan, no destination, just driving.

3:10 am, and Jim found a Denny’s (it was always open).  Ordering a Grand Slamwich(r) and a cup of coffee, Jim settled back in his booth seat, staring at the clock on the wall. He was on his second cup of coffee and only two bites into his cold sandwich when 3:33 am came. He clutched the mug, not noticing it wasn’t burning his hands.

3:34 am.

3:40 am.

3:45 am, and nothing happened. Sighing, wiping the sweat off of his hands on the booth seat, Jim paid the check and went out to the parking lot.

Leaning against his ride was the biggest cop Jim had ever seen. All in blue, helmet on with faceplate down, his badge radiated golden light, pinned to a massive chest. Raising his right arm, the officer beckoned Jim to come over with one crooked finger. Seeing this, Jim turned and tried to bolt.

He couldn’t. Against his will, Jim turned and walked towards the figure swathed in dark blue. He was within a foot when Jim was spun around and hard, cold metal was clamped around his wrists. He was manhandled into the back of an official looking van, but it had no insignia that Jim could see. Before he could say a word, the van took off, tossing Jim headlong into a bench seat.

Finally getting his bearings, Jim was shoulder pushed into an open spot. He looked around: the van, larger looking on the inside, held a lot of others, both sexes, all ages…well, all above driving age (except for that one girl who looked like she was twelve). Jim tried to shout, to ask what was happening, but nothing came out. Some weakly smiled at him, the rest ignored him. He tried a few more times, but the only sound he heard was the whine of the wind as the van picked up speed as it sped off to it’s final destination.

In the morning at Denny’s, the day shift manager found Jim’s H3 in the parking lot, keys on the hood. “Not mine,” was the answer he got from all inside. The manager waited out his shift and then called for the SUV to be towed away. Two months later, the gas guzzler was police auctioned off. The funds helped, as there was a recent drop in speeding tickets.

 

You Are Mine! (A Tanka Poem)

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YOU ARE MINE!

Something comes at night
Holding breath; no creaks, no sound
Covers drawn up tight
The moon peers in my window:
It, illuminated so

Saying: “You Are Mine!
From this night forward, believe
We are meant to be.
To the underbelly, fly
Nothing wicked to deny.”

Covers off, so tossed
A soft sprinkling of dust
Anticipation…
My mattress far below me
A smile lights up my being.

Out the window, soar
Swoop and laugh forever more
Reach the stars above
Quick! The morning sun comes fast
What is left behind?

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Author’s Note:

From Wikipedia:

Tanka consists of five units (often treated as separate lines when Romanized or translated) usually with the following pattern of onji:

5-7-5-7-7.

The 5-7-5 is called the kami-no-ku (“upper phrase”), and the 7-7 is called the shimo-no-ku (“lower phrase”). Tanka is a much older form of Japanese poetry than haiku.

About 1300 years old (I’ve seen 1200 too, so..why quibble), A Tanka has been hitting the poetry rounds lately.

This is my first Tanka, and I based it on a well loved story (see the tags if you don’t see what I was playing with).

ADDENDUM:

This is what cosmic synchronicity is about: I got, on Friday morning (the day after I wrote this), an email from The Purple Treehouse that their poetry prompt to express a different poetic form,  this week  to write a “WAKA” for you to think within 5-7-5-7-7 syllables and let your love know, how much you love…  or, one of its’ forms:

Chōka consists of 5-7 Japanese sound units phrases repeated at least twice, and concludes with a 5-7-7 ending.

The Tanka, as described above, which allowed a bit more expression

“There are still other forms of waka. In ancient times its moraic form was not fixed – it could vary from the standard 5 and 7 to also 3, 4, 6, longer than 7 morae part in a waka. Besides that, there were many other forms like Bussokusekika, Sedōka, Katauta etc.” (copied from The Purple Treehouse)

So, now I’m linking this piece up to their site and poetry blog hop. Please click on The Purple Treehouse link and take a look at the other poets expressing this poetic form. I Hope you like it.

Too Much, Succubus (The Obsidian Journal)

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The Obsidian Journal (part one)

It Was a Bad Day (part two)

Manifold Destiny (part three)

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Too Much, Succubus (part four)

Journal Entry:

~Lilith Entry~

Aw…you ARE using the journal I gave you. You shouldn’t just leave it around, you know. Go off to cause mischief of one kind or another, and leave your Lilith all alone in bed? Mmmmm…I’ve read through what you’ve written so far.

You really think that, of little o’ me? ~~~sizzling smooch, you old devil.~~~ I mean, Devil. Sir, yes SIR.

Mmmmm…we didn’t have much time for talking when I got back from my little trip topside. You were having fun in your Diablo, and me? I was have big fun in my ride. On my ride. Under my ride. All ways, as you well know.

Should I tell you about how I went dancing around the world, wearing that way too short black dress you like so much, killer boots with heels (well, boots made in Hell…what else were they supposed to be?)…and yes, that’s it…and I attracted the attention of some club roving predators. Both sexes, and them not knowing they were not the top of that particular food chain? Tsk Tsk! They got on my bus with a whimper, but oh…they roared, later. :::smirk:::

Should I tell you about being pulled over by  six state troopers in upstate New York? Sillies…they first stopped me from speeding, then they wanted to arrest me for “Indecent Exposure”! They joined the party celebration on the bus. You could say they had Cop-ulation!

Should I tell you about how I came this close to getting a button pushed, how it would have spewed death and destruction across the orb you and HE play so many games across? How it would have ruined many of YOUR plans? How things would have gone too far in such a very, very short time? (It’s more fun-for now-just letting you know I could have.)

Do you want to know about how easy it was to raise lust in so many mortals? Do you want the details, oh Lucifer…oh, my dark Lord? Do you want to know how they would do anything, and I mean anything, I asked of them so they could “please” me?

Oh, Father of Lies; oh, Abbaddon, oh Morning Star, Mr. Scratch, Old Nick, Son of Perdition, Mephistopheles, Father of Murder, oh…Satan. Oh,  my wicked one…

You left me alone in bed, and I’m bored. I think I’ll go incite some more pleasure for myself.

Bite me, Lover.

Again and again and again…

Lilith