My short story, The Snake River Tale, is included in this Old West horror anthology. Go check it out and maybe help out.
My short story, The Snake River Tale, is included in this Old West horror anthology. Go check it out and maybe help out.
Here’s a short story I never had any luck placing. I’m gonna share it here. I should probably try a hundred more times, rewrite it several thousand more times and so forth, so on and yeah, yeah. Mm.
The pic is an old-timey postcard of main street Payette, Idaho. Hint, the story to follow is ALSO set in Payette, Idaho.
DOWN AT THE SPOTTED HORSE
Ginger poured me a stiff one. Long Island Iced Tea but she adds a pinch or so of belladonna, some morning glory seeds, a bit of nutmeg, some datura. I fly a bit, but just enough not to get sloppy, sentimental or too murderous. I’m a goddess, after all. A long-forgotten, exiled goddess but still. She placed this in front of me, her bare arms muscled as a pugilist’s. Nobody messes much with Ginger when she’s at the helm of the Spotted Horse. This ghost can throw a fully grown rhino through a wall when she wants. They don’t make em like Ginger anymore, it’s true. Those hardy pioneer type women were far and few between, despite the myths and romantic hoopla.
“How many boys has he found?” Ginger kept her back to me as she washed bar glasses, her reddish hair in a tight bun at the base of her head. Our eyes went to the badly done Appaloosa water color, created by Tom Smith himself when very drunk. Spot, the horse, had still been alive, as had Tom, a half-Shoshone and half-Shanty Irish human misfit. Ole Spot had won the Vale Suicide Race three times. It was the fourth time that killed both him and Tom. Stuck a hoof down a gopher hole, went ass over teacup, as they say in places that are not Idaho. Or Oregon.
Tom, busted up and broken for good, crawled over to his beloved horse, slit the throat to end the suffering. He also lay there by his dead horse for a long time as everyone thought him just grieving, not dying as well. Nobody much cared Tom lay there dying all that time people were enjoying the rodeo.
That’s how things are and people don’t change. People have not improved in my thousands of years of life. Not one fucking bit.
“Can’t say and he won’t admit to how many boys there are,” I slurped down my drink, mostly because it annoyed Ginger. Her face twitched but she did not tell me to stop making noises that drove her into near fits.
The bar had maybe four or five of our kind there. A slow night but it was Thursday. Velma and her sister, Sadie, enjoyed a basket of onion rings and raw liver strips. Ghouls did like their liver. Both lived locally and foraged where they could. That we had a small colony of ghouls here in Payette, Idaho escaped most, as they had learned to hide in plain sight or just plain hide. They were nearly the perfect monster, without any horns or fangs or long claws–just that unnatural strength, the lust for flesh in all ways and the ability to look like little old ladies enjoying a night out. They kept to themselves. Introverts with the social graces of a malcontent most times.
Barry and Craig played pool but they always did. They’d waft in from their wandering, drink beer, play pool, go away for years sometimes, return as if they’d just been here yesterday. They’d fought the Nez Perce back in the day. Barry kept claiming a squaw with glowing eyes cursed him and Craig. Could have been a Nez Perce woman or a Shoshone or a Paiute. The curse would end when the sun burned out. Meantime, the two would wander the backways of Western Idaho and Eastern Oregon, never find any peace or rest. Except when they stopped at places like the Spotted Horse or met up with others that were not living yet still seemed stuck here.
Just a mean, awful curse and nothing I could do about it. I could rip out guts and twist a head off, but reverse a curse like that, no. If some Idaho witch, enraged and crushed by the US army’s rampage over her own people back in the day, had managed to pull off such a malison, it was not my place to end it.
Mr. Harvey sat at the very end of the bar, fingering his lucky pennies. His shy gaze flitted to me, before he blushed, went back to fingering his copper rounds. Back in the 1920’s, he had casually killed his mother while she bathed herself after a long day looking after her adult son, who lived with her while working at a local bank.
To celebrate his freedom from his awful mama, he had tried to fry himself a steak.
All while he took a nap, exhausted after butchering his dam out like a fall pig. The steak caught fire, the house caught fire, Mr. David Harvey never woke up but he did form into a shy, sad ghost who appeared now and then at the Spotted Horse for a beer and a hopeful wish that someone would be nice to him.
The woman who walked into the bar just now had to be human.
Her hair had been cut short, but an expensive short that framed her triangle face in sun-streaked pale brown spikes. She carried a big, expensive Prada bag and had the air of a douche bag trying to pretend it did not squirt vinegar up your hoo ha.
“I’m looking for a woman called Pearl? I’m a travel writer. Road trips. Unusual, out of the way places, places off the grid, off the map. I write books. I can pay,” her voice said far too loudly.
Heads turned a bit.
My head turned toward her a bit.
Her eyes went to the badly done watercolor of Spot the horse, framed with sticks tied together to form a square. Ginger sighed visibly. What had she done to deserve some weird random human who managed to find this place? Humans seldom bothered the remnants, the flotsam of curses, murders and forgetfulness.
People had once offered me goat’s blood and child hearts for spring planting luck. Nowadays I just called myself Pearl and got spiffy on belladonna when bored with how long eternity really is.
“I’m Pearl,” I said, when no one said anything and the woman seated herself a seat down from me. Her tanned face lit up, her very blue eyes scanned me in a professional manner. She was doing her job. She meant to have a great night tickling stories out of the dusty locals. She probably had a nice hotel room rented in Boise. She probably thought there was nowhere around to get good sushi. I hated her, I knew her. My amusement with her lasted ten seconds, replaced with resigned boredom. “Whatcha want, hon?”
Her face twitched at being addressed as if three instead of thirty or whatever age she pretended to be. Careful or she’d have to visit a surgeon to refresh that face or perhaps she embraced aging as a hip activity to add to her resume.
“Drink?” Ginger placed her two hands on the counter, that rough hewn face thrust forward.
“A beer, whatever’s on tap is fine.” The blue eyes went to the Keystone, Black Hen and Poison Toad, before returning to Ginger. “Black Hen?”
This particular beer was not really a beer, more a tonic with a sour ale smell. It also contained poisons, bits of marrow from my own special hens and dirt Tom brought back under his fingernails. I made it once a year, the Spotted Horse offered it until they ran out.
I’d given it to one human who had managed to stumble through the front door. He had both exploded and melted. Ginger still complained about the mess.
“No,” I said at once, as Ginger blew out air in real relief. “Get her a Bud. That local stuff is just for locals. Why are you looking for me, hon?”
Why play games? Let’s get this over with and the woman sent screaming out into the night or perhaps turned into just another missing person that would fade from memory sooner than later.
“Ah, yes, thanks! A Bud. Hi, Pearl, I’m Jen Reece, from Dives and Diners. I write for them. Travel books, a travel blog, we have a podcast…never mind. I mostly do out of the way places, dive bars, biker bars, places like the Spotted Horse. I was dared to find this place. I was up there in Miner’s Hole, in Stanley? That’s a rough place, but great people, really interesting sort of folks. A lot of guns. The bartender did some quick draw for me out in the parking lot. She shot a tree. Said she was ready for Jesus to come back and bears. That was her joke. I guess. She said it was but she seemed serious. Anyway! I was told this story by someone who wants to get into the Citadel. I had to look that up. I want to ask why you’d want to live in a walled compound. What are you so afraid of? Might make a trip back up there, a return to Miner’s Hole!”
She took a breath.
I tried to remember even a sentence of what she had just babbled at me.
“That Bud looks cold, gonna be yummy. Anyway– James, no last name, that sort of person. He told me a story about this mysterious dive bar said to be somewhere near Payette, Idaho. Full of monsters and ghosts and werewolves and vampires. I had to check it out, you know? The Spotted Horse, he called it.”
Jen accepted the glass of Budweiser, with the thick white froth. Ginger went back to washing bar glasses, just so she could hear what nonsense was about to spew forth.
Our lives tended to be routine and stale as old crackers.
Except tonight we were expecting ole Tom to ride through, with whatever boy he had managed to find. He used to kill young orphan boys to spare them his childhood miseries. A philanthropic mass murderer. Tom had a good heart in him, despite his solutions to a real problem being a bit kerflooey. Judgment had been reached that he find the lost boys, bring them to the meeting place for lost souls over by Hells Canyon. He’d been riding the night for almost sixty years now.
“Here? About this Spotted Horse? Our little place?” Mr. Harvey dared ask and we all just looked at him. He went back to his pennies, submissive as a beat dog.
“Ain’t the Miner’s Hole that Aryan Nations bar or somethin’? You gotta flash em one of those funny fist bumps to get in the door? You should be careful. They’re crazy.” Ginger kept her face neutral. “You gonna order any food? We got a great burger.”
“Um. I could, sure. A cheeseburger, medium, with fries.” Jen Reece fished her wallet out of her fancy bag, produced a crisp twenty. Ginger grunted, began a tab, told Horace to cook a burger but Horace had already heard. “I did find a lot of…Idaho nationals.” Her eyes darted about but no one seemed disgruntled or ready to shoot her so she relaxed a bit, her perfume floral and light.
“Of course you did, they breed like rabbits,” I replied, slurping more enhanced Long Island Iced Tea. “Why are you looking for me?”
“Look. I run down stories about bars and places. That’s my job. I write up what I find. I try to make the place seem okay to visit. Not the bar in Stanley, obviously, can’t recommend tourists go there. And it’s set way back, on a dirt road and you can’t get there in winter but I can still include it.” Jen turned toward me fully, palms up on the bar counter, friendly as a puppy, slippery as a newly skinned carcass. “Hey, Pearl, I just heard that there’s this bar in Payette, Idaho that serves ghosts and witches, and that a goddess drinks there on occasion. That it’s a bar everyone’s heard of but no one can find on a map or by GPS.” She smiled, let her gaze mark the few inhabitants. “I heard about the ghost of this rodeo rider who shows up now and then looking for his horse? Is it that horse? An Appaloosa? Is that right?”
She gave off just the right vibes. Friendly but respectful. Honest yet hiding shit.
“You from California?” I leaned toward her, my long earrings swinging and swaying.
Jen wet her lips, took a gulp of beer. The sound of her burger frying seemed far too loud.
“I’m from a lot of places but yes, California. That the horse? Of the rodeo ghost?”
“Sure is,” Ginger said, taking the second and last gin and bitters to Mr. Harvey. “Painted by Tom Smith himself. Spot. Won three Suicide races, lost the fourth one by breaking a leg and dying from Tom cutting his throat.”
“Good grief, really? They don’t still run that, do they?”
“Of course they still run it. It’s the best part of the Vale Rodeo. That’s over on the Oregon side of things,” I answered as the two ghouls whispered back and forth, upset to have a human so near, knowing they’d have to restrain in these wicked modern times. People that went missing got missed far faster than olden days, after all. This Jen Reece seemed like she had people who might bother to look for her. The ghouls knew how to pick their victims. Jen Reece would not end up with her liver shared by the two sisters. Or maybe she would.
It might become an interesting night.
“Oh. Sure. So, if anyone has a ghost story they wish to tell me, I’ll pay. I’ll credit your name or not, if you don’t want that known. Here,” she fished out a slick book with shiny covers, flashing it before us like a prize won from a carnival booth. “I’m doing an Old West ghost tales and myths, told by everyday…um, people. I got plans to go to Baker City, to Unity, to La Grande and Pendleton and Burns. Just all over this area, collect some stories, put together a book, feature local places in the best light, of course.”
I flipped through Blood on the Walls and Sawdust on the Floors, a Journey Through the Dive Bars of Nevada. Glossy pictures, clean prose, people’s first hand accounts. A travel book you’d find in an airport convenience store while you were getting some gum and possibly a travel pillow. Ginger leafed through it, as well, nodding at some of the pictures of Real Americans posing by scuffed pool tables or by jukeboxes that still played Sons of the Pioneers.
“You see? It’s flattering yet honest. Good for business.”
Ginger raised her black, black eyes and Jen about bolted. “We’re okay that way but sure, we got stories. Every place has stories.”
The bartender, who had tossed her own two small daughters over the cliffs into the Snake River one windy night, went to collect the baskets from the two ghoul sisters.
“I didn’t mean to insult,” Jen put her book back in her bag, her cheeks a bit red.
“You didn’t. We’re just used to our own here. So, you want the rodeo story or the goddess one?”
“Both and more, if possible. I might not use them all but I’ll still pay,” she offered me a huckster’s smile.
We all heard the distinct whinny of a horse.
Ginger went still. Mr. Harvey beamed at being here at the right place and the exact right time. Velma and Sadie hunkered down. Barry and Craig continued to knock balls around. They had no forgiveness coming for them and no mercy. The rules seemed arbitrary and strange but this wasn’t my district, if you know what I mean. Rules about death and salvation are different in different areas. There isn’t a nice cohesive plan in place that fits one and all. I might be a goddess yet, but I had no hand in the making of this world and no say in the rules that applied or not to a particular place or time. I was pretty low down in the food chain, to be utterly fucking honest.
“Is that a horse?” Jen had to ask.
“It’s ole Tom,” Ginger took the basket of medium burger with a slice of American cheese and fries to Jen, who salted the fries, checked out the limp lettuce, purple onion slice and pale green pickles that made up the veggies offered. No tomato but Ginger
hated them for some reason. No tomatoes were ever allowed near food on her nights to work the Spotted Horse. She set out ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles.
This bar full of ghosts and ghouls and goddess, oh my, looked modern enough to casual eyes. Eating the burger might give you a few bad nights but that could be blamed on bar food or anything else but it wasn’t fit for humans to consume. God knows what Horace used for the meat patties, for instance.
The metal door banged open. We all saw the white horse with the brown spots all over its rump standing by the dead locust tree, nosing at the dead cheat grass. A child sat atop
the beast, clutching the pommel. Wooly head, dark skin, small in size, some long ago orphan that met a bad fate one day. Now found, amen.
Tom Smith stalked to the door, his boots loud on the wooden floor. He had a face for radio and a skinny runty body more suited for reality than Hollywood. Black eyes that had never needed glasses but he had died at thirty-eight.
“Whiskey,” he told Ginger before turning to Jen Reece, who had her phone out, ready to snap pictures. I noticed her eyeing the little wonder machine but the camera part would work just fine, except she’d see nothing but a black rectangle if she tried to share them with anyone.
“What are you doing here? You’re human.” He sniffed the air, opened his mouth wide to get her full scent as she tried not to choke on her mouthful of burger.
“I’m a writer,” Jen told Tom Smith, who looked at me.
I nodded, shrugged. What else could I do?
“I got one. He wants potato soup. You got any of that? I don’t know what they have further on down the line.” Tom laughed, slapped his leg, his glee like hearing rocks against a metal plow blade. “Just crying and wanting some potato soup as I dug him up. I remember how hot it was that day. Nevada. Been a long trip.”
Tom turned on our guest and only human. Those black eyes all but spun. “I dug him up, honey. I buried him proper back in the day. Broke his neck clean, buried him. Now I got to dig them all up and bring em home, so to speak. It ain’t like home at all, the angel told me. It’s something else unknown, like a star or love. Aint’ nobody knows what love is. What are you doing here?”
Jen reached in her bag, brought out a notebook. Just a three-ring binder. She found a pen, opened up that notebook, began writing. Old-fashioned as hell itself. Tom sat right by her, practically in her lap so he could read what she scribbled. Jen tried to pretend she was not bothered by some strange man practically trying to get her pregnant but she was. Her cheeks turned bright red, her eyes rolled to me, to Ginger for help in that way women ask other women to assist them against whatever man is bothering them.
“I’m just, uh, taking down some stories. You yanking my chain or what, mister?” She closed her notebook but left it where she could grab it. “I don’t mind. It makes for a funny blurb. I write travel books and I have a blog and a podcast. About road trips I take. I love your horse.”
“Tom,” Ginger indicated he should leave the human alone. Tom grinned with his yellow teeth on display. But he did sit between me and Jen, waiting for his whiskey and Jen relaxed a teeny bit, now that he wasn’t almost draped across her lap.
The child he had dug up wandered into the Spotted Horse, rubbing at his dark eyes with dirty fists. “They have that soup, mister? I’m awful hungry.”
I saw Jen turn pale now as she stared at the child, which had a real transparent look to him. She got a picture of the child, the snick made extra loud in the near silence. Of course I made sure the pic would be blank when she tried to show it to others. It’s how I made sure the Spotted Horse stayed hidden.
My little tricks.
“I got potato soup here,” Horace said and dipped out a bowlful, which Ginger set on a table near the ghouls. “Maybe some milk?”
“I’d sure appreciate that,” said the polite little ghost child.
“What is going on here?” I heard Jen whisper. Tom turned to her, never one to honor space or that folks often just did not want to talk to him.
“Death. Life. Soup,” he answered, laughing so hard the dust flew up.
Horace took the child a glass of milk. He glanced at me to see which way the wind would blow tonight.
“Death,” I whispered and Tom laughed harder but I nearly always chose death. It was just more fun for everyone.
The already damned don’t care about new crimes and sins.
“Give me a reason to mop the floor,” Ginger flexed her fingers.
“Fresh liver,” said Velma, smacking her lips. Sadie drooled.
“The last one was last year,” Craig opined as Barry racked the balls for another game. But they both nodded, promising to join in.
Jen Reece, California-born, writer for slick travel crap, slid off her stool. She rightly read the room. Her eyes hit that door, before returning to me. Her smile had the sincerity of a lioness toward a newborn gazelle. “I guess I can come back. I have a long drive to Burns ahead of me. I got a reservation. I didn’t even think this place existed, it was a snipe hunt or something, you know? Okay!”
She tried to reach the door before shit hit the fan. The child ate soup and drank milk, watching all this with bright, curious eyes. He had been dead, in the ground, waiting to go somewhere else. He had no dog in this hunt, if you will and being a child, no conscience at all.
Tom got there before her.
Jen stopped before she crashed into him. The Spotted Horse had no back door. Her hand fumbled into her Prada bag, the color of overly ripe lemons. She held out a large copper cross studded with turquoise. Real turquoise that almost hurt the eye being so blue and gorgeous. Tom stepped to the side as she waved it at him, as if he were some sort of movie vampire. She waved it at me, but I had not left my seat. She waved it at Craig and Barry, at Velma and Sadie and Ginger and Mr. Harvey, who never participated in the killing orgies. Not once, not even one time. She waved it toward Horace, who sometimes took some raw skin to chew on but otherwise remained aloof.
I think we all turned into stunned statues. Not a single time had someone waved a too-large decorative cross at us, hissing under her breath the Lord’s Prayer. A sort of Catholic meets Protestant moment. It shocked as well impressed us all, in a way. Anyone crazy enough to flash a useless bit of jewelry at us, while expecting us to melt or whatever, had our undivided admiration for a hot second. As well as our blessings toward whatever life they wished yet to live.
Jen got to the door, got it open, her eyes bouncing around the room, that cross held out in her shaking hand. Out she got but Spot got her. We all heard Tom Smith’s beloved horse get a good kick in before Jen got into whatever vehicle she had brought here. The thud of hooves against metal, the scream of that engine, the scratch of tires against the gravel of the driveway.
Tom dared open that door wide, so we could all see Spot still kicking and fussing, still hear the screech of the engine as Jen escaped.
He calmed his beloved, the horse puffing and blowing as it rested the long roman-nosed face over Tom’s shoulder.
“I hope she comes back,” Ginger said, and pulled out Jen’s wallet from under the counter. We all started laughing; we had fun, ate food, spoke of the old days and carried on until morning. The ghosts faded, Tom took his found child to the meeting spot and I walked home. I fed my rabbits and collected eggs from my black hens before I lay down to sleep. I might venture over to Burns to see if Jen would be there but that was a mighty long walk to further torment some Californian. Might be better to let the Oregonians have a go at her, and hear the exaggerated stories later on from the inhabitants at the Wall of Whiskey, yet another place like my beloved Spotted Horse. You could find it out near Riley, Oregon if you knew where to look. I’d have to go alone, but sometimes you have to when you want to know the rest of a tale. You have to go seek it out, sometimes on foot, and return home much later than you wanted.
It’s snowing. The huge storm predicted actually arrived over half of my state.
Yesterday was a hell day at work, starting with me spinning about on some ice. As in my car spun about like a big deadly sled. Just bumped against the curb, no damage but still…and then work turned out to be hellish, crushing and gut-punching but hey, normal in these modern times and olden times and times not named. Huzzah.
I am not sleeping that well. Probably why I’m up writing this little blurby thing.
It’s already been a long December. Winter has arrived here in Eastern Oregon and I suspect plans to stay around. We usually get a bit of snow, it melts, it’s spring.
Going back to bed. I’ll put on an old comfy movie and wake up later on to marvel at the snow level outside. Don’t have to go anywhere, or be anywhere and what a nice sensation that is.
Hope your December is going better than mine. I haven’t even put up any decorations nor really plan to. I might wrap a garland or something about the cat just to be festive and because it would annoy her.
Writing-wise. I have been submitting a bit but am just taxed out that way right now. Might need to take a break, paint rocks or knit, something else that’s not writing. I feel crushed and untalented and unable to produce anything but dreck. Normal writer stuff, right? Yeah.
I might need some Hallmark Christmas fare to perk me up. My depression has been slapping me about lately, compounded by shitty job. Might be why I’m only sleeping in about three to four hour blocks, if that. Might be end of year doldrums where you just wanna stay in bed drifting along, rather numb and used up.
But hey, got paid. I might order those avocado green platform boots because you only get one life something something. And because they’re avocado green. There’s that, too. That’s 70’s shade that so delights the eyes. Mine, at least.
Snowy night. All is quiet and hushed. The dogs and the cat are snoozing away. Should I make myself some coffee or actually just go back to bed? I don’t have to chance the roads of death tomorrow to get to work by seven. I can stay up all night not writing and try to take a nap, feeling guilty I’m not producing magical works of art that will lift me out of poverty and despair…
This is our fourth or fifth snow, by the way. Winter might be a bad one this year. Or good, depending on your view of snow and needing it for that decades-long drought hereabouts.
I have books out. I have short stories in many an anthology. I have people doing my plays. I have stuff out there. I’ll end this ramble there. I have stuff out there.
Welp, had to drive to work yesterday in fog so dense I nearly drove off the road, twice. Fun.
It finally rained here in Oregon East. An actual rain. We plunged into near winter temps! It might snow in the valleys! Nah, not yet but winter wants to pounce.
I want to enjoy Halloween and all its orange, black and sparkly glory, but the American midterm elections throw a giant moist pall over everything. Moister than moist. Dripping wet with racism, sexism, fascism and all the other crappy isms imaginable and then some. Who is taking all these polls? It does not seem to reflect anything but what is expected– that the Gross Old Perverts sweep everything and Biden gets made to look like a doddering, shitting himself in public, gibbering fool. Um? And yet so many people registering to vote and yet…mmm.
I just want this all over so I can start breathing again and plan accordingly. Do I still live in a ‘free’ country or do I have to practice my salutes, wave a flag with savage frantic grins plastered across my frozen face? Shout randomly, in public, about eagles and freedom and no more open borders? We don’t have open borders, what the fuck is that noise?
Idaho, by the way, is almost an Ida-don’t go there, stay away, avoid avoid avoid. We do have scary states here in ‘murica and that is becoming one of the scariest.
The Aryan Nations that used to be a joke, who used to live under rocks and only appear if you whispered something overtly racist near an open sewer…have now virtually taken over that state. It’s sad and tragic and awful. Aryan Nations meets QAnon nonsense, has weird disgustingly awful sex, produces a mutant baby and here we are!
And my state, by the way, has a trumpian Gross Old Pervert running for guvvie. I just. No. No!
I do have scary movies lined up, as the midterms causes eye twitches, drooling, screaming when a leaf drops from a tree too near me. It’s tense here, y’all. Tense. Golly, vote for sane people or batshit trumpfucks? I mean no offense to actual bats, who just wish to live their bat lives in peace.
I have had a few acceptances roll my way, but mostly, lately, it’s been rejection city. Sigh.
Need to sacrifice something to Satan, I guess. Maybe he’ll accept an IOU? Will hand over the flies stuck to the fly strip. They’re already dead and am just gonna toss that strip otherwise. Why be wasteful? Satan? Hello?
Oh, my fellow babies and compatriots for this thing called life– it’s the happiest month of the year. For me. Cause. Halloween.
Pumpkins. Pumpkin patches.
Ghosts and goblins and ghouls, oh my.
Creaky vampire movies with capes and crosses.
American Werewolf in London time!
The weather cooling the frack down.
The Halloween baking competition with its black garlic cupcakes and four-layer oozing lime basil cake with Italian buttercream something or other. Make entire scary scenes from cake, pumpkins, rice crispy treats and sugar work!
Oh yes, oh please, amen.
I have pumpkins about ready to be plucked. I have gourds. I want to make bread.
I feel energized and ready to watch scary movies with all the lights off.
I have the original Night of the Living Dead tucked away. There’s a compulsion within to find the DVD and WATCH IT the old-fashioned way. On my television through a DVD player. No streaming. No computer involved. Old-fashioned out the disc in, push play when prompted. With a big cup of ho-cho in hand.
Of course, it’s still rather hot here in the day. The nights have cooled off a bit. I now need at least a blanket. Kitters has even taken to napping a bit on me so it must be getting cold outside or she misses me as I’ve been working. I call my cat Kitters, though her official name is Jaws. As she showed up with a broken jaw a couple Halloween’s ago.
So. I hope TCM shows horror movies I’d like to watch. I hope hope hope they show the Abominable Dr. Phibes, with Vincent Price. Where he speaks only through a record. It’s so acid-trippy, weird and satisfying. I’m so glad no one has ever tried to remake this one. Why would you? It’s perfection. From that first scene with the bats to the bitter, bitter end. Dang. And there’s sequels, which I hear, are not as good but still. I will also probably watch the silent Swedish made up documentary on witches, because it’s just so good. Haxan or something like that. 1923 or hereabouts. It’s on Youtube. As are a lot of silent horror movies. Like M or the Cabinet of Dr. Caligaleri. [Spelling?]
Halloween month. It’s the happiest month of the year for me. From baking to horror movies I’ve seen a gazillion times already to new horror films I might discover. I do like discovering some offbeat, nobody’s heard of it, frightfest. Like the Blood on Satan’s Claw [Satanic children, 70’s] Or even something like Only Lovers Left Alive, with Tom Hiddleston as a mopey vampire. It’s a gorgeous film, by Jim Jarmusch, and also boasts a sparkly performance by Tilda Swinton. It’s as slow as frozen molasses and it’s not so much a horror movie as a test of your patience but hey, it might hit a sweet spot or two.
Hey, speaking of Halloween and spooky stuff and scary things…I have two recent novels out that deal with zombies and cannibal bikers. Yay!
Aftermath: Boise, Idaho— where Hannah kills herself to escape death by zombie horde only to wake up in a world run by sentient zombies.
There’s also The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane, where three elderly sisters hiding out in a small Nevada town after a catastrophic world war nuclear event, become embroiled with the decimated cannibal biker gang that’s limped into Fallon.
There’s also Oregon Gothic. The opening tale, Bailey, is about what a real vampire is like and the costs of thwarting that vampire’s will. There’s also the necrophilia-smeared love story of Prince Charming Finds His Sleeping Beauty, which will be in an anthology coming out this year.
Halloween month. Pure joy filling my soul right now. Just pure happy wonderful joy.
September. It’s almost over. The weather here is finally cooling a bit. I’ve rescued the same toads from the dog pool many mornings now. The big one that squeaks at me if I handle it too much, the smaller ones that pretended they were frogs, so I’d leave them alone. That was when the water levels were much higher. I dug a giant hole to put the rubber tub into, and it has this valve that keeps turning so all the water leaks out. Why would you put such a valve into a tub designed to hold water? Oh sure, to drain it but still. It’s entirely too easy to brush against it and turn it the wrong way. I blame liberals for this. Is that how that works?
Snark, sarcasm and hissing gently from the shadows. That’s me!
Job? I don’t know. Nobody cares so let’s move on.
Road trip. I am going to go to Mountain Home, Id-eee-ho, for a literary event. I know!! It’s for the Whistle Pig Literary Magazine launch, held this year at the Mountain Home library. I even got myself a hotel room so I wouldn’t have that long drive back, in the dark, with the extra bright lights in my eyes. I probably need to go see the eye doctor about that…yikes.
Or just deal with it because, hey, who has insurance?
Rimshot! I’ll be here all week, try the chicken.
My story for the Whistle Pig is called Lovesmoke. I based it off a short play I wrote ages ago, about a nearly mute man who’s in love with his brother’s girlfriend. She just wants to get married, have a normal life as her boyfriend is about to lose everything due to bad cattle prices and the bottom falling out of that market. The brother in love goes about collecting rocks and such to sell at the various festivals in and around the Western states. If you’ve ever been to small town festivals, with booths– that’s the type of person Salinas is.
In my prose version, I set it in Weiser, Idaho, with the about to lose everything brother having already run off and the other brother crossing the Rubicon, so to speak, by declaring his love for Lily. It’s bittersweet and it seemed to write itself, once I found that balance between manipulative monster versus clumsy overtures of affection toward another. I sort of blended the two extremes of puppet master and hopelessly bad at romance tropes, so to speak. That happy medium? Eh.
I did play with having them end up together but it just didn’t gel, it just didn’t flow, it just didn’t…yeah.
Rewrote a short story in the last couple days, turned it from vague woman-empowered claptrap to murderous psycho monster baby claptrap. Wheee!!!! I also realized my lead character is the least of my three in that story. I need to, ahem, punch her up a bit. Or not. I also need to look at the ending. It might be awful or okay, depends on mood, weather, snack consumption and coffee levels. The title also needs changing. Willa and the Mist to perhaps Baby Lamb or The Graveyard Baby or something equally provocative. Two On A Meat Hook? I’d have to add a meat hook. Dang it!
I’ve been reworking short stories that keep getting rejected. It keeps me busy and out of prison, so that’s good.
Oh, for those panting to know– I have pumpkins. I also have three giant gourds growing away. I’m so excited! I researched and it said to wait for first frost to collect them. We are nowhere near a first frost. I’m also watching the pumpkins closely, looking for that all-over orange color. Still a bit green underneath. Small sugar pumpkins, for pies but still so gorgeous. I do love the color orange.
Halloween is close. I have a happy feeling somewhere close by. And then the drudge and stress of the ‘holidays’. All those damn turkeys to bake. God damn it. I’m already sick and tired of turkey. I just want to buy a bunch of frozen dinners, call it good from here until next January. Want a fancy meal? Here ya go– Hungry Man Salisbury steak!
Oh my, I should adjust accordingly, eh? Holiday season hasn’t even officially started yet. Not until Hallmark starts constant Christmas movie rotation BEFORE HALLOWEEN USUALLY. Notice that?? I noticed that last year. Syrupy cookie cutter movies that bring numbness and a sort of Zen blankness if you watch too many in a row. Lifetime, also, has a host of these things.
And the Halloween Baking contest is back. Happiness is oozing icing the color of infected flesh dripping down over a rotted pumpkin face chocolate cake. Or pies with top crusts that look like tortured human faces. Happiness and bliss.
Started new job. Training. I suck. I feel very stupid and incapable. Never done this kind of wok before so maybe I should go a bit easier on self? Huh. Hotel work. Yeah.
Rescued four toads this morn from sunken dog pond. They were very cold and sluggish. I need to put something in there that wildlife can cling to or climb aboard if I don’t get out there in a timely manner.
Trying to get stuff written and submitted.
Oh hey, I have a new book out. The Adventure of Grumpy Odin and Sexy Jesus. It’s a fun, breezy read. No, really, it is. There’s some gore, violence, a bit of sex, even…I know!
That’s all I got. My brain is a blank hunk of quivering jelly.
It’s July. Hot. It’s hot. Ugh. Hot.
With that out of the way!
Been applying for jobs. I suck at finding jobs. I suck beans. Don’t know what that means but it sounds keen.
All attempted rhyming aside, it’s the waiting that is truly abysmal. See title!
Will I get an interview nod, at the very least? Will I get the form rejection letter, months later, that says they’ve passed on me? Will there be a black void of ‘we couldn’t even be bothered to send you a form rejection notice’? I have better luck placing my pitiful darlings [short stories] than landing a job. Unless it’s health care and they just need a warm body.
I’m also waiting for November. That’s the midterm elections for ‘murica. I am waiting in absolute dread for that one. Gonna be…? It could go either good or very very very bad. I’m thinking bad because Americans have no capacity for learning, history, showing up to vote or pretty much anything but screaming about how great ‘murica is while waving the nation’s flag that has a Confederate battle flag stamped on the back of it…mmm.
And then sobbing over how awful everything is while blaming the wrong set of people for all of it. Yep.
Okay, I’ll end this very short scream on something uplifting.
My yard toads are thriving. They like to shelter under these two pieces of bark I have placed by the old red rose bushes. It’s right by the drain for the washer, which is how they get into the house. Clever little demons. I can hear them croaking in the pipes in the house. You know spring is coming when you start hearing the toads calling from seemingly inside the walls.
I find them all over my small bits of garden. I often get startled by one as they blend so perfectly with dirt and dead leaves. They’re not big toads. They fit in the palm of my hand. Yes, I’ve picked them up. I have no squeamishness when it comes to frogs, toads or yes, snakes. Have not seen my yard snake this year yet but I’m sure he or she will work its way into the grass eventually.
There’s just something magical about toads. At least to me.
I did attend the Nyssa Thunderegg Days festival. Got some neato rocks. Got out of the house. I am nearly at the point where I don’t want to leave my surroundings even to go to town. It often takes me days to get up the oomph to drive about ten miles to go buy some milk. Days. I’ll go tomorrow. Oh it’s too late now, have to go tomorrow.
Waiting to hear back on jobs, toads and turning into a hermit cat lady.
Thank you as always for reading and hey, go check out my books, short stories, poetry and plays. That’s my strong-arm sales pitch.
I slog onward, wanting to give up all the time now. I slog onward…
Here are two short stories of mine. Circle Salt, about a seance gone very wrong, and Everything Is Normal Here. That’s a straight up ghost story about a young woman dealing with a particularly persistent and frightening new paranormal visitor.
World of Myth. Horror Zine. Thank you for taking such care with my work.
So! Two ghost stories for some summer reading.
“Why does it have to be tape?” Callie clutched the only picture she had of her mother as Xu kept a lookout for bears. The dead oak tree on the old Pearson property had not seen bears for twenty-three years, but one never knew.
“It can’t hurt the tree,” Xu answered, her face turning this way and that, the snow dancing past her suspicious eyes searching for objects to cover and change. It had not snowed for near three years. Not really. The sky seemed bloated and too gray-white for Callie’s comfort. “The tree’s magic won’t work. That’s the rules. What was that?”
Both peered toward the tilled field, where corn had stood in military precision until just a few days ago. A rather large blurry object bumbled toward them. “That’s the stray dog. The St. Bernard Mr. Kelly tried to shoot. Said it was eating his chickens. So I tape this to this magic tree and my mom comes back?”
“There’s words and stuff,” Xu offered, her crisp black hair covered with a raspberry beret. “It don’t always work. Like real magic. That’s how you know it’s real. When it doesn’t always work. That is a big dog. Tape it already. Duct tape, right?”
Callie pulled a long bit of scotch tape, heart beating too fast, eyes dazzled by tiny snowflakes waltzing past. “You didn’t say that. You never said that.” She stepped back, the picture of her mother in her high school cap and gown flapping, threatening to fly off. She heard panting. The St. Bernard, skinny as the old barn cat, Mrs. Mouse, looked at both with one mournful eye, the other gummed shut and leaking yellow matter. Matted auburn and ivory coat and one ear shredded, swollen. A more beat up, unhappy dog Callie had never seen. Xu backed away and it shadowed her. “It’s just an old dog.” The picture tore free, zoomed into the air, upheld by the growing wind. “Damn it!”
“No, let it go. Now say, dance dance, tree tree, come back to me. And your mom’s name.”
“What? Okay, whatever. Dance dance, tree tree, come back to me, Vivian Thomas. Oh her middle name was Jane.” Callie’s bare hand touched the back of the giant, emaciated dog. It leaned against her legs with a sigh. A collar? She removed it, the dog shook its entire body. Lady had been etched into the cracked leather. “Come on, Lady. You can live in the barn.”
“It’s probably got worms,” Xu trailed behind, always wary about bears but quite good with magic. Callie took the picture of her mother, put it in her coat pocket. “No! It has to remain near the tree. The dog stinks.”
The picture spiraled upward. Lady sniffed at a clump of weeds. Callie headed home, with her best friend Xu grumbling about it might not work now in her ears.