Lost in Transportation

As I slowed to make the corner, I saw my wife in the turn lane headed in the opposite direction. Each of us had our window rolled down, so we waved vigorously at one another as we’d not seen each other in the past 12-hours.

“I love you!” I shouted as I sped up to match the moving traffic while signaling to merge.

My wife didn’t hear me, but the dude in the large truck did as he shoved his arm out of his window, waved and yelled back, “I love you, too!”

I laughed all the way to work.

Not in the Habit

Ding. It was Reuben’s smartphone announcing that as an Uber driver, he had a guest to pick up at Second and Arlington, in front of the church on the corner.

Within seven-minutes he pulled up in front of the steps leading to the large double doors of the cathedral. Standing to the left of the doors came a tall nun dressed in the traditional black habit of the Order of Saint Benedict.

She stepped, as if floating on air, to the lowered front passenger window and asked, “Who are you here for?”

Her voice was soft and low.

“Sister Mary Francis,” Reuben answered.

“Great,” the Nun responded, “That’s me. A girl can never be too careful, you know.”

She opened the rear passenger door and slipped into the backseat.

“Is 14-oh-75 Mount Vida Street correct, Saint Michael’s?” Reuben asked as he waited for her to fasten her seat belt.

“Yes,” she smiled.

“I didn’t know nun’s were allowed to wear makeup,” Reuben stated as he slipped the car into drive.

“We can,” she answered, “And normally I wouldn’t while wearing such formal attire.”

“Oh,” Reuben said as he studied her face in his rear-view mirror.

He had to admit that she was very attractive and honestly couldn’t understand why a beautiful young woman would become a nun in the first place. Twice he was caught staring at her in his mirrors reflection and both time she smile demurely, looking away.

In less than 20-minutes they arrived at her destination. Reuben got out of the car, rushing to open the door for her.

As she exited, he said, “You know – I’ve always had this secret fantasy…”

“Yes,” she lilted.

“To kiss a nun,” he answered.

“I’m willing to give you a kiss – but you can never tell anyone and only if you’re Catholic and unmarried.”

“I won’t and I am,” he answered all too quickly

She leaned into him and gave him a deep and long french kiss. It was unlike any kiss he’d ever experienced in his life.

“Actually, I lied,” Reuben stated, ashamed of himself, “I’m married and Jewish.”

“I haven’t been honest with you either,” Sister Mary Francis smiled as her voice dropped, “My name’s really Frank and I’m on my way to a Halloween Party.”

Peggy Sue Gensaw, 1958-2019

Peggy Sue Gensaw was born in Crescent City, California on April 26th, 1958 and raised in Klamath, California. A proud member of the Yurok Tribe, she passed away on October 11, 2019 following complications from surgery.

Peggy Sue graduated from Margaret Keating Elementary in Klamath, Del Norte High School in Crescent City in 1976, where she played softball and basketball, and later attended Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. She retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, having worked the Title Nine Program under the 1934 Johnson-O’Malley Act.

Growing up with Peggy Sue was always a pleasure to be around. I knew her (and the majority of her family) from a young age, having grown up in Klamath. I knew, like many others, that she’d have a waiting smile and a witty comeback or bit of wisdom when approached.

We even made the newspaper together, along with a couple of other school mates from Klamath.

In the winter of 1975, we had a freakish snow storm that laid down some six-inches of wet slush on Highway 101 between Crescent City, where we were taking the high school activities bus home, and our destination of Klamath. As we approached what we kid’s knew as the 30 mile curve, our van refused to budge as the damp snow was too much for the vehicle to handle.

Under the direction of the CHP, our bus driver, Shirley Baldwin began turning the bus around by making a u-turn. As we came to a stand still, sideways in the roadway, a pickup truck came from the opposite direction and unable to stop struck us broad side.

Only Shirley was injured and had to be looked at by the staff at Seaside Hospital. I was seated in the front passenger seat, with Debbie Wolcott behind me, and Vickie Billy and Peggy Sue behind her.

Everything slowed down — as in a slo-mo movie — as Debbie bounced out of her seat forward, head down towards me. I remember the top of her head hitting me in the face, bending my brand new glasses, jus’ seconds after Shirley shouted, “Hold on, we’re gonna be hit.”

Both Vickie and Peggy Sue bounced around in the back seat. It was Peggy Sue who quipped afterwards, “It’s funny how Tommy’s face is harder than Debbie’s head.”

What a laugh she gave us.

It hurts my heart to know that I will never hear her cheery voice, raucous laughter or any of those witty-wisdom’s she was so generous with throughout our years of knowing one another. And I will for always miss that great big and ever-so willing smile of hers.

Keep the beach fires burning Peggy Sue, we’ll be there before any of us know it.

A Quickie

Between sleep and working 60-hours a week, I haven’t had the time to edit what stories I’ve already written. This is not to say that I’m not writing. I carry my trusty notebook with me to work every evening and throughout the night I jot down my inspirations into words. I have written six short stories since beginning my new job last month and several poems (a couple which I did manage to post here,) before we switched shift-lengths from eight to 10-hours. Please stick around as they are some pretty good stories. I can hardly wait to share them.

Space Intruder

Lamont sat quietly at the bar, nursing his bottle of beer. The place was busy and noisy, with one group clacking pool balls around the green felt table and another torturing a karaoke machine.

He had been busy noticing an attractive redhead in the far corner when he suddenly realized someone had taken the bar stool right next to his. Lamont turned and looked at the ‘space intruder.’

Much to his surprise it was a green monster with four large horns growing from its misshapen head, tendril-like whiskers and a single red-glowing, beady but unblinking eye from near its mid-forehead. The scaly beast shook out its leathery, semi-translucent wings before ordering a double scotch.

When the drink arrived, it raised the glass and with a yellowed-fanged grin offered, “Here’s blood in your eye.”

The malodorous oddity tossed the caramel-colored liquid down its ferocious looking snout, then ordered a second one.

“You seem familiar,” Lamont said, before asking, “Do I know you?”

“Yeah, but it’s been a long time,” the monstrosity said, as it held out a grotesquely over-sized green claw, harboring horrifying bony-fingers and massive, dirt-filled nails, “Name’s Zaa-q’ran, but you can call me Ernie and I used to live under your bed.”

The Rubber Maid

Blue eight-wheeled Brute.
Catches what filth the world offers.
Seen but not noticed.
Setting in the corner, out of the way.
It will not stock its prey.
Instead, it waits, it waits.
And the world will come to it.
We think we’re the top of the food-chain.
Human-kind is so easily outsmarted.
Such foreknowledge in a garbage can.

O-C-D

He bares the weight of the world
It shows in his sagged shoulders
Oppressing, compressing, depressing
And it is neither a good feeling
Nor a good look
To throw it off would mean:
great violence
A struggle he’d surely lose
For his burden is stitched
Seamlessly to his bones
Like voluminous, leathery wings
Blackbird to bat
And it is his own fault
For having created his own monster
His design, his being, our horror

Nicotine Fit

Such a tiny woman, such a huge handbag!
She dug and dug through the bottomless pit,
Finally finding what she sought:
A pack of smokes.
Then she tamped the pack down.
Hand to palm, hand to palm,
A certain kind of violent precision,
Pounding all twenty into submission.
Then she tore at the wrapping.
Placing one between her lips to light.
A classic.

Transmission

The engine to the truck slowed to an idle as he pushed down on the clutch.
He let the clunker coast down the slight hill, before pulling to a stop under the orangish glow of a modern street light.
He missed the old mercury vapor lamps.
But then — he was missing a lot of things from back when.
Soon the street would be filled with falling snow.
He wouldn’t miss that.
This morning though, it was simply below freezing.
His cell phone flashed before it began ringing that irritating factory set sound, that he had neither the patience nor the inclination to change.
It was the phone call, that phone call, the one he had been dreading for so long.
“So long.”
It wasn’t like this not very long ago, carrying a phone every place one went.
One more link in the chain.
Now anyone, at anytime could simple reach out and touch you, as the old Ma Bell TV commercial claimed.
He held the device in his hand and let the call automatically go to voicemail.
He tossed the damned thing in the glove box.
At least his truck was still a stick-shift and the heater worked really well.

New Socks

My socks are new, my shoes are worn-out, like my spirit and body.
I’m an honest asshole, you’ve learned this, knowing I come by it naturally.
So should this offend you, you’ll hate me, when in truth:
It’s you that you don’t like and perhaps even hate!
My job as your honest asshole is done, so piss off or peace out.
It’s your choice to make, good or bad, win, lose or draw.
I’m ain’t your conscience and mine is bleach-clean.
The only surrender in me is to that unknowing future.
My socks are new, my shoes worn-out, and I’ll not pass this way again.

History of the Bei’myu-seh Bor’aan

Three known copies, an unholy Trinity, are all that exist of the vile Bei’myu-seh Bor’aan, written by Rabbinical scholar and Ashkenazic Jew, Abdiel Hoenig, who secretly rejected his natural-born faith, instead choosing to worship the cosmic entity, he knew as Zaa-q’ran. The ancient 200-page document he penned and hand-painted, predates the enigmatic Voynich manuscript by more than 11-hundred years as well as Abdul Alhazred’s famed book, Kitab al-Azif, by nearly 900-years, with many sources claiming that both draw heavily from the fallen teacher’s work.

One edition, housed in an arcane governmental ziggurat is rarely viewed and never placed on loan. How it came to reside in the Silver State is a history that has never been recorded, though many believe the answer lies with one of the many visits that Adolph Sutro made to San Francisco while others labored on his never-finished tunnel, meant to drain the effervescing waters of the many failing mines of Virginia City.

It is said that should the wrong hand come into possession of the nearly forgotten booklet, all Hell could be raised and great apocryphal destruction will be visited in manifold on all of mankind. E. Brexley Greaves did not believe in such things and the self-learned man, a one-time college professor, purveyor of artifacts out-of-time, and current government agent heard of the item stored away in safety and decided that he must see this awful thing for himself.

It took him numerous meetings with varying bureaucratic officials within a multitude of state departments, one in Elko, another in Las Vegas, and the third in Reno, before he was summarily given permission to visit the hidden room below a nondescript building in the state’s capital, Carson City. Security was tighter than a requested visit to speak to President Eisenhower in private, so Greaves quickly came to realize that the book must be of even greater importance than he first thought.

Greaves, while having secured very little knowledge of the content of the eldritch tome, knew enough that he wished to read all of its content and not merely view it. To do so, he secreted a newly developed camera in his wristwatch in order to photograph the entire holding.

His escort, a petite, dark-haired, and a not unattractive woman led him deep below the foundation level of the stone building, where they were met by two security officers. There, Greaves was subjected to a cursory pat-down by one officer, while the other unlocked the steeled doors of the multi-pinned, blast-resistant vault.

Greaves entered the chilled chamber. Near the middle of the buffed-steel room, on a lone mahogany pedestal, under bright, yellowish light, rest the most famous but widely unknown codex beheld by man.

After donning white cotton gloves, Greaves began the careful task of leafing through the manuscript. He was dazzled by the bright pigments of the childlike artistry that adorned the many pages and puzzled by the unknown script that lay before him.

Quietly, and methodically, he regarded each page, adjusting himself so his watchband angled appropriately enough to capture images of each panel’s surface. Finished, Greaves slowly thumbed through the leather-bound track, a second, followed by a third time, as he did not want to arouse any suspicion.

Thanking his female escort and the two security officers, Greaves coolly made his way to the surface street some floors above and without haste walked to his car. There he sat for a minute revisiting his secretive actions, before finally turning the engine over and pulling out onto a crowded Highway 40, heading north through the city.

Once back in downtown Sparks office, he developed the film, printed the multiple black-and-white images, creating a singular opus for himself, before sitting down with a half-dozen cryptography books to start the tedium of translating the words, symbols, and pre-Mesopotamian artwork. The entire process would take Greaves 19-days before discovering an ordinary key, a substitution cipher based on the nameless and vulgar Roswellian tongue, thus unlocking the exotic penmanship.

The forward came first: ‘Yug-jeoc meg’koln-yug yug’corh geh’vo-louja,’ and once translated, read, ‘It does not permit itself to be read.’ An elated Greaves had no understanding of the sentence as he continued to delve deeper into the dark script.

What he learned, left the otherwise steely-nerved Greaves frightened and highly agitated. Quickly, Greaves lit a match and burned each photograph, the every negative and all of his research, knowing that the perverse danger he found contained among the nefarious pages of the Bei’myu-seh Bor’aan were too much for a single man and perhaps even for an entire government to evenly descry.

In the end, the former U.S. Army paratrooper, code-breaker, spy, now a current member of the Central Intelligence Agency, refused to discuss his visit to the secret vault, understanding that to do so, could cost him his life and the lives of anyone near him. Instead, E. Brexley Greaves would spend the remainder of his life quietly monitoring from his official position, the baleful actions of the federal government, knowing it wouldn’t be long before another agent, one less scrupulous that he, would come to relieve the state of Nevada of its blasphemous holding.

Knuckle Ball into a Change up…Strike!

Baseball analogies, euphemisms and the game itself have always been favorites of mine, but I hardly ever get the chance to use them in my writing. So, even though they have nothing to do with what I’m sharing at the moment, I decided to use baseball pitching terms in my header.

Anyway, I first must say that I’m sorry that I haven’t been paying much attention to what you have been writing and posting for the past couple of weeks. You see, after six-years of unemployment, I suddenly landed a full-time, albeit temporary job.

My position as a photographic image editor begins officially at 1700 hours, Monday through Friday. Some days I work eight hour, others are 10 hours and soon there will be 12 hour long, or longer days.

Aside from not taking the time to read your work, I’ve kind of allowed my own writing to slide. Instead of sitting at the computer keyboard, I’ve been handwriting stories and other things into one of my many notebooks when time affords.

This situation promises to continue through the end of December. From that point, depending on whether I am asked to join the company permanently or not, visiting WP, reading your materials and my writing and posting will be a hit and miss affair.

So, thank you for understand and I pray that you’ll have the patience to stick with me and this transition I find myself wandering through. In the meantime, I will do my very best to catch-up and eventually read everything you post.

For a Final Spin

Beyond the mystical hills of the Pine Mountains of Douglas and Lyon Counties, Nevada roam a strange band of now-wild ponies. Shiny and crass of color, they can only be glimpsed under the cover of darkness and then only when the gibbous moon shines across the barren and open landscape.

Once the delight of a thousand children, they found their valiant escape in the deep summer night of a long ago state fair, when put away for the night. How it happened is rumored at and speculated upon, yet not one person has willingly come forth to end the debates until now.

A nameless, but youthful Shoshone medicine woman has learned the answer, but has granted only one interview on this unusual subject. That is because she comes and goes at will through the pine nut tree that stand long the many hillsides of that lengthy range that hides the ponies.

And only this reporter has managed to remain patient enough to await her return from the Land of Nye.

“A moon, gibbous and bright, brought forth the greater god, Zaa-q’ran and after seeing the ponies, tethered strangely to the circular platform, granted each their one wish. Freedom to roam,” she explains.

Then quietly she beckons me with the bending of her pointer finger to follow. I do.

We crest the rise before us and there on the other side, in the hollow of two hillocks, dance the free roaming beasts of a once fabulous carousel, a carousel now devoid of its splendor. That lost splendor now resides in the mystical hills of the Pine Mountain and the vague Land of Nye.

One day, I will return and patiently wait – wait for my final spin on those uncirculating and antiquarian carousel horses.

Darkness of Sun Mountain (Part 5)

Soon the underground cathedral was empty save for the wafting smoke from the burnt gunpowder and the five dead men lay on the floor of the place. Howard, deafened and blinded from the blast of his Colt’s muzzle, sat paralyzed, waiting and praying for his senses to return to to him before the horde returned and ripped him apart.

His eyesight drew accustom to the semi-darkness faster than the return of his hearing and the continued internal reverberations. He crawled over the bodies and to the altar, grabbing the radiating gem and starting to smash the crystal idol, but the sound of movement from somewhere deep in the recesses of the dark cave, necessitated his withdraw.

And because he could see again, the mistiness of the gun smoke as it found its way out of the grotto, marked an avenue of escape. He crawled in the direction of its exodus, leading him to a passage and eventually the same secreted door venting to the outside, over looking the lighted town below Sun Mountain.

Staggered by what he’d witnessed, Howard stumbled down the now familiar path, with barely enough glow from the gibbous moon, throwing down on the ground so he might find his way off the mountain. The path led to the red-light district, vaguely quiet following a night of lessening attention.

Still Harold stumbled forward and to the lavishly adorned crib of Mademoiselle Julia Bulette. He toppled hard against her door frame and then rolled into the pathway beneath her stairs.

Having heard the sound and felt the vibration at her door, she opened it with a once-concealed derringer in her palm. See that it was the Marshal, and that he was half naked and shoe-less, she without thought sought to render the man her aide.

It would be hours before she could make sense of his rantings, those that came in fits of screams and still others, in the mumbling of a mad man. Julia did her best to nurse the disheveled man back to his mind and physical self.

“I know that it’s hard to believe,” he told her, “but I’m not insane. I know what I saw!”

“I believe you,” Julia said, trying to comfort him, “But honestly, no one’s missing.”

“I have proof,” he excitedly claimed, “The red gem stone.”

“Gem stone?,” she asked, adding, “My poor man, the only thing you had was your gun.”

“Then someone stole it!” he frantically exclaimed.

Harold clambered from the bed and began searching for the missing rock. Quietly, Julia sent for the doctor.

Soon a number of citizen came to the district to hear and see for themselves the wild actions and ramblings of Marshal L.C. Howard. This included the once missing Thurlby, who smiling, asked, “Are you alright, Guv?”

Howard eventually slipped away, unnoticed and on foot, down into the valley, deep into Six-Mile canyon, as far as he could to escape the horror captured in his shattered mind. He spent his final years. drunk on cheap whiskey, searching for proof of what he’d seen, of the wild images and that odious chant, “Voquulo Zaa-q’ran,” which had been so thoroughly pressed into his damaged mind by the beings that continue to dwell underground.

Old timer’s say he could often be heard sloppily muttering the meaningless phrase, “Should’ve smashed it to pieces when had the chance.”

Darkness of Sun Mountain (Part 4)

In the gloomy darkness, moved dwarf-like humanoid creatures, skulls peaked and flattened on the sides, with no ear holes, and reptilian eyes, large and round, and protruding jaws with two pointed fangs. Their hands and feet appeared unnaturally sinuous; bodies – if one may call it that – were unclothed, and possessed of a whitish skin, not unlike that of the under-belly of a viper.

Within the movement came the dragging noise which soon revealed the lifeless bodies of the five missing men. Howard felt a shudder of cold terror vibrate throughout his entire body and he nearly gagged.

He watched in helpless silence as Thurlby’s stiffened body was raised to the altar, face up and one of the creatures, adorned with a golden circlet on its head, crawled and laid on top of the body, placing what appeared to be a mouth against the corpse’s mouth. As this happened the voiceless gathering began to chant and writhe to the sound of a single drum beat.

Again the voices came, wailing, “Voquulo Zaa-q’ran,” from within Howard’s skull and as he battled to close out the noise, he watched in great fear as the body atop the dead man, seemed to transfer part of its spirit into the lifeless form below. Then much to his relief, he saw the body roll from the altar and drop to the cavern floor, still dead and unmoving.

Again and again the ritual was repeated, with each time the being laying on the dead body and appearing to breath life back into the rotted corpse. And each time the still dead body failed to reanimate, leaving Howard certain that the gruesome ceremony had not worked.

Then it happened, the first of the five bodies jerked violently and drew itself up and onto its hands and knees. In the red glow, Howard could see the refraction of the light as it shine off the dead milky eyes of the now-extant thing.

He shrieked in terror as the first one was joined by another, then another and until all were writhing to the soft thumping of the drum. Howard pushed himself to the right, attempting to avoid the malformed congregation, with their undulations and clammy skin, chilling to his touch.

That’s when he discovered his holster, still encumbered with its revolver. Excitedly, he drew it out, lifting and aiming for the glint of gold he saw as the gem’s glow cast itself on the frightful headband.

Howard squeezed and the thing with the unholiest of halos, vanished from sight. The subteranne exploded in pandemonium as yet another bark of the gun shattered along the stone-walls with a violent echo upon echo.

Darkness of Sun Mountain (Part 3)

From where Howard stood he could tell that the night would be a fairly slow one as it was the middle of the week and most men had used up what money they had at the beginning of the week. He set off back up the hillside, retracing his steps along the dark path that led to the most recent vanishing.

Quietly, he stood near where Thurlby had been standing. Howard looked down the long hillside, gazing at the lights of the city, and lost in speculative thought when he heard a faint noise from be hind.

He started to turn, to look behind, when he felt himself suddenly jerked from his feet and sucked into an inky darkness. Howard tried desperately to struggle, to free himself, but whatever had him, was too much for him to escape from and he felt himself squeezed until he slipped into the other kind of blackness, that of unconsciousness.

Howard opened his fogged eyes upon an otherworldly darkness, finding himself laying face-down on a worn and glass-like polished floor of what he assumed to be a natural cave. Nearby, stood a low altar, adorned by a large red-glowing gem, whose illumination was jus’ enough to cast the cavern into vague shadows, and a close-by crystalline statue carved into a hideous and obscene snake-like, bat-winged figure, which gave off the appeared of being alive in the gems luminosity.

Slowly Howard rolled over, sat up, only to realize he was missing his pants and boots. As quickly as the thought came to his mind, it disappeared and he found himself in the throes of agony as his brain felt like it was about to explode.

Then he heard a voice cry out,“Voquulo Zaa-q’ran,” followed by many voices and each seemed to come from inside his head and therefore he could not escape the unearthly and grotesque chanting. With the chanting came visions of unwholesome thoughts and images, that lead to a piercing, guttural and reverberating scream of agony from the lone man.

Then…silence.

Howard tried to stand, but the ceiling was far to low. Instead, he could only crawl on his hands and knees.

As he searched for a way out of this hellish nightmare, if indeed that’s all it were, he heard the scurrying of inhuman feet and the soft scraping sounds of a something weighty being dragged. Finding no way out, he turned and placed his back against the wall of the cave, prepared to fight whatever was coming towards him.

The shuffling and the dragging grew closer and closer. Howard wish that he had his Colt, but along with his pants and boots, it too was gone.

Darkness of Sun Mountain (Part 2)

As the years passed, the cho’er-ja koe’kro became less dependent on the outside world, developing ways of growing and gathering food from the Earth’s interior. Meanwhile, their bodies adapted to the dark: to change physically, becoming more bestial, shunning sunlight.

Far below the budding mining town, and hidden within Six-Mile Valley by the eons of time, shifted sands and regenerating sage brush, the ruins of their abandoned above-ground din’ee lay decayed and fallen. As for the valley it remained shunned and unsettled by the Paiute and Shoshone tribes, but it soon became well populated by White settlers, expanding into Nevada.

The cho’er-ja koe’kro transformed the caverns into a semblance of those buildings they long ago had abandoned; upper reaches lines with shaped stone, similar to the ruins. But as they drove passages deeper and deeper, the stone work fell away to a more primitive design, finally ending in rooms crudely hacked from the surrounding stone.

Howard spread the map out across his small desk and weighted down the corners. Next, using the stub of the only pencil he had, he marked each place a missing person had last been seen, then he stood, studying the results.

“Nothing,” he grumbled, though he still couldn’t remove himself from the thought that each disappearance might be related.

Marshal Howard needed a drink, so he rolled up the map, set it aside and headed out the door and into the street. He noted that the shadows were growing longer in the east and that nighttime would soon be over the town.

“Well, howdy there, Marshal,” came the genial address of Territorial Enterprise newspaper hack and chief freeholder of The Monumental Liars Club, Sam Clemens, “Anything worth gossiping about?”

“Nope, not yet,” Harold smiled.

“Lemme buy you a drink anyway, my good man,” Clemens offered as he got up and took a seat across from the law officer.

Slowly, Clemens drew out the concerns of the law man, until Howard was explaining the details leading up too each disappearance. Finally, Clemens took a gulp of his drink, brushed the damp from his mustache and quipped, “Do be disheartened, lots of things disappear in this God-forsaken land – gold and silver, water, people and eventually even virtue. Most can be found again – save for virtue.”

The pair nursed their glasses for about two hours. By then Clemens was regaling Howard with tall-tales of his youth spent in Missouri. Eventually, Howard pushed back his chair from the corner table, excused himself and strode out onto the wooden walk way leaving the news man to find someone else to share his verbal conjuring with.