Monday, August 20, 2012

Flight from the Priestly Father by Rusty Kjarvik

The priest's starkly bleak and violently humorless abode is a grayscale of flighty neurosis. The masculine dread is potent with unsteady failure, lifeless. Blood evaporates slowly. Between the cold, stonewalls, a claustral pressure moves closer and closer. I turn a bend to an outside court.

With video camera in hand, I serendipitously find a friend's father succumbing to a filthy heroin addiction. I video him shooting up and turning pale, with fangs as bloody and lifeless as a vampire's.

In a kitchenette of sorts, a family sits around the table. The small home now mixes in an understated blur of unspoken silence. There is an inhumane heart, stifled and drowned, now turned to meat in our soup bowls, its former life surrounds us quietly.

With a forgiving imagination, I remember a small kibbutz home that I once visited. The kitchen table is cornered in a lonely room. The family is missing the father. I am seated without thought to the discomfort at knowing his whereabouts. He huddles nearby, lowered outside into the dark corners of our collective, impoverished will.

In the night, my room is ambushed by his figure, cloaked in staunch black robe. There is an air of over-religious prayer turned to a nightmarish cursing. He raises a black knife into the air above me. Motionless, I receive a monstrous gash beside my bellybutton. I howl and receive two more along my side and below my left shoulder. Blood streams mercilessly down my side.

A gun is raised to my shoulder, and I receive a fixing blow below my right shoulder. Nearly inert, my mind turns to shade, yet my adrenaline picks me up with full lungs, I worry for my wife, now mere animal and sister of humanity, to be slaughtered by the tortured weakness of an insane mind frothing at the brim of his asylum grave. This house of fleshless waste enslaves me to a pain unknown. I feel life struggling to stand with the rhythmic plan of my heartbeat, calling me to go forth. The beat is ever important as never before; if I falter I could miss a step and fall into the void of the stale, rock floor.

I finally find my wife, covered in the ash of wood burnt to its lowest ember, cursing through a throat densely saturated with blood overfull with pain. There is a spark of wonder at our meeting. “How are we still alive?” I ask her gently, mutually irate.

I am forced, embedded in this sick house, to confront the murderous wraith, balancing life and death on the numb foresight of his insidious night killings. I quickly examine our wounds, and though we are in critical condition, with flesh flayed visibly in touch with our vitals, a swarm of inner heat beckons us to kill the blind culprit. As from a sacrificial muse, I am sent forth into the blackest corner of the most lightless room to fulfill my fear's latent travails over my bloody path. Fated, I walk inside the heavy wooden doorway to flash an upraised knife, buckling down over loosened sinew and the butchered meat of such trivial nightmarish greed. I imagine my blood fall. In distress, shadow-cast over my would-be murderer, I paint the stone floor with our common need to overcome this body of suffering. Locked in deathless love, I flee together with my sister of humanity.  

(C) Rusty Kjarvik

Friday, August 27, 2010

Last Act by S. J. Williams

The moon waits for death
shining through my window,
across my bare legs,
cleansing me with a silver glow.

I'm almost ready.
Washed the little cotton curtains
in the bathtub.

I'll let them dry in the sunrise,
hang them as my last act.
Closing them
so I can't see the rest of the day.

(C) Stephen Jarrell Williams

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Haunted House by Rebecca Dernovish

I was fifteen. Mom and Grandma decided to become partners in a business. The bar business that is. Bluetown Tavern in St. Joseph. MO. Mike, Marian, Judy, Pam, Bill, and Lori, were already living on their own. My Mom, Pops (step dad), Crystal 12, Tommy 9, Brian (newborn), and myself, moved to the small city of St. Joe. Mom purchased a beautiful old three story Victorian home. I'm only guessing, but it must have been built around 1920 or before. The house was empty and ready to move in to. She got a great deal as far as real estate goes.

The house . . . It was painted a deep red with black trim, had a wrap around front porch, and a second story balcony. The house by my standards was huge. The 1st floor had a formal living room with fireplace, a formal dining room with a crystal chandelier and a bay window from floor to ceiling. The kitchen was large but warm and inviting, complete with a walk-in pantry and servants quarters. From the dining area was a bathroom and the basement. The basement door was located under the stairs to the 2nd floor. When going down the stairs into the basement, it was so dark and musty. It was scary as hell. I made it all the way down the stairs to the dirt floor only once. I never went all the way in. It was cold, dank, and it felt horribly eerie. A sense of dread, my gut wrenching intuition forced me to run up the stairs as fast as I could. It makes me shiver just thinking about it . . . . The 2nd floor had a comfortable family room, shutters on all of the windows, three bedrooms, and another bathroom. If you looked up from the 2nd floor, the ceiling reached all the way to 3rd floor with another chandelier hanging. Up the stairs to the 3rd floor, a Victorian banister that went up and around and served as a railing to guard you from falling back down to the 2nd floor. You could look down on the family room. The 3rd floor room spaciously wrapped around the railing, with two tall windows to the left, one window at the top of the stairs on the right, and straight ahead, a door to the attic.

Mom, Pops, Tommy, and Brian slept on the 2nd floor. Crystal and I chose the third floor as our bedroom. We set up our two single beds under the two windows that looked out on an alleyway that lead to the driveway. From our driveway, you could enter the house through the kitchen door. The attic room served as our very large closet with three windows that looked out on the front lawn.

So many unexplainable occurrences took place in that house, I hardly know where to start. They were the most bazaar things that have ever happened in my life and quite frankly, something I don't like to remember, or talk about. Believe me, I've had a lot of bazaar things happen to me in life. However, never so bone chilling. Yes, I'm speaking of the supernatural, paranormal, apparitions, noises, sensations of cold, objects moving, and a sense of the presence of evil.

Crystal and I made it two weeks in St. Joe. We stole enough money for bus tickets back home and moved in with our Dad. The rest of my family made it 6 months before moving. None of the neighbors had ever spoke until the day my family was moving. The neighbor told my Mom she lived there longer than most.


We had been in the house for maybe a week; no occurrences at this point . . . The school year was starting in St. Joe. It was the night before the first day of school, Crystal starting a new junior high and me at a new high school. We were excited to a certain degree, but mostly concerned about establishing new friends. This would be difficult because we had lived in the same neighborhood all our lives. We couldn't sleep. Mom, the baby (Brian), and Tommy were fast asleep. Pops was running the bar that night and would not be home until after closing.

Crystal and I, in our beds discussing the first day of school, were not able to sleep. We had a black Labrador, Smokey, a wonderful dog— and my companion. Smokey would always sleep right next to my bed. Crystal had a small bedside lamp on. In an attempt to get to sleep, I asked Crystal to turn off the lamp; maybe this would help us. Crystal did not want to turn it off. Me, being the typical supportive older sister I was, called her a sissy. Crystal had already seen whatever it was. She was the first to witness the apparition. She knew better than to tell me, I would have never believed her. She turned off the lamp. Crystal finally fell asleep. It was just me and Smokey.

I tossed and turned and tossed and turned. I was thinking, if I could just get a cigarette from Pops, (who knew I smoked), it may help me sleep. Suddenly, I heard the car. Through my window, I saw the car lights, the car pull in, and Pops getting out, heading to the back kitchen door. Oh, thank God, a cigarette. Right about then, I started feeling a strange freaky feeling of apprehension. So I grabbed Smokey and made her go downstairs with me. This was unusual because I had to make her. She was never afraid on anything. She was making that little whistle through her nose, you know, a quiet whine. We forged ahead anyway. Hmmm, where’s Pops? I saw him enter the house? I opened the back door, looked out, and there was no one there. NO Pops, NO car...I was shaken, confused, and a bit freaked out. I went back up to my bed.

At this point, I was scared. I laid down, closing my eyes. Ahh, I can't sleep, I thought to myself, and opened my eyes. There, standing over me, a man or something! He was there leaning over my bed, only about two feet away from my face. He almost looked like a Roman statue. He was wearing toga like apparel that draped his thin structure. His skin tone, very gray, he was bald, had a hook nose, and the saddest, big brown eyes I've ever seen. I could sense heartbreak or pain, in that room. He was gazing at me with a look as if I was his long lost daughter. I closed my eyes, shook my head, opened them again, he was there. Closed my eyes, shook my head, opened them, he was STILL there. Again, STILL there. Closed my eyes, one more time. I was confused, scared to death, and questioning my sanity. I opened my eyes, and he was gone.

Immediately, I turned on the bedside lamp, shook Crystal, and started stammering and babbling, attesting to what I had witnessed. She then admitted she had seen the same man by the balcony near the stairs. Simultaneously, we sprang from our beds, ran down to my Mom's room, and jumped in bed with her. Abruptly, Mom awoke wondering why her 12 and 15 year old girls were doing in her bed like small children. We spat out our stories with her looking at us as if we were crazy, while trying to soothe us at the same time. Shivering and shaken, we both snuggled up to her and finally was able to sleep.

I'm sure Mom was thinking it may have been a nightmare. But was it? How could we both have had a nightmare about the same man, thing, or whatever? There would be several more, except the following incidents would include the other family members as well.


Four different occurrences . . . .

Mom, Crystal, and I got back from the grocery store. Mom's friend was at the house babysitting Brian. Crystal and I never told anyone about the ghost. Mom felt compelled to tell everyone. As we were putting the groceries away, Mom started telling her friend all about our ghost. The woman replied by saying she hadn't seen anything. Just then, the diapers levitated off the table and sailed about two feet over and fell to the floor. The woman was speechless and considered the possibility . . . .

My mother has a step brother Russell. Two of his sons were over visiting. They were about Crystal and I’s age. Of course, Mom starts telling them all about the ghost. Crystal and I were so embarrassed. They thought it was the biggest line of crap they had ever heard. They were soo tough, they weren't scared. Regardless, Crystal, me, and my step cousins, went up to the third floor to sneak a smoke. We opened the two windows on the east side of the room to let the smoke out. One of my step cousins said, "If there is a ghost, why doesn't he show himself?" Right then, simultaneously, both windows SLAMMED shut! You should have seen those boys run for their lives. I have to say, it was the only time the ghost made Crystal and I laugh.

One of Mom's friends, Donna came over to store her kids Christmas presents at our house. It seemed the place where the ghost resided, was in the attic room that Crystal and I used for a closet. Where did Mom tell her to put the items? Hmmm. Crystal and I helped her carry all of the presents up to the third floor. We were approaching the attic door . . . the handle on the door turned and the door opened wide. Donna dropped all the presents and yelled, "Beat feet!" We all ran down the stairs.

I was in the 2nd story bathroom getting ready for a date. The rest of the family were downstairs watching television. I was bent over with my hair flung over my head blow drying my hair. Do you remember those old pointy toed tennis shoes from the fifties? They were Keds with a pointed toe . . No one in the house even owned a pair of shoes like this . . . So, I'm blow drying away and an old, white, dirty, point toed tennis shoe somehow was tossed into the bathroom and hit me in the back of leg. It didn't hit me hard, but it hit me. I knew it had to be Pops. He didn't even believe any of us about the ghost. So he would mess with us from time to time. I came out of the bathroom. "Pops? I know you're up here. Where are you?" I looked everywhere including the bedrooms. No one was there. I went downstairs and everyone was watching TV. Pops came walking out of the 1st floor bathroom. I can remember thinking of just how weird all this really was.


All the small occurrences kept happening; at that point, scary yes, but not terrifying. Everyone in the house had witnessed these occurrences except for my step dad Pops. He thought we were all crazy. He even thought it was funny. So, Mr. Funny decides he is going to scare the hell out of us. Mom and Pops had dabbled in the witchcraft. Pops finds a book on witchcraft and a tape recorder. He picks some scary incantation out of the book and records it. He then leaves to work at the bar that evening and calls us. "Hey, I've taped something on the recorder I want you to hear," he says laughing. Tommy and Brian, tucked away in bed, me, Mom, and Crystal were awake. We didn't know, so we played the tape. Over the recorder, the incantation started. In a low pitched, methodical voice, Pops' voice was heard. I don't even remember what he recited. I don't even think it was in English. All that I remember was hearing the word "Beelzebub (devil)" mentioned two or three times. Oh yes, it scared us. A chill came over all three of us. All of us looked at each other in dismay and couldn't believe he did this. I thought it was sick and twisted. To this day, I feel this opened some door and invited God only knows what kind of evil into our home.

We all went to bed and all was quiet. Then, Pops came home after the bar closed. He was in his bedroom getting ready for bed when all hell broke loose. It woke us all from a sound sleep. All paranormal activity was taking place on the second floor. I woke up to the shutters on the windows rattling and banging loudly. It sounded like bowling balls were being rolled across the floor. When you looked out the windows on the second floor, it was raining and storming outside. The noises were deafening and violent. We all came out of our rooms terrified. Pops? What was he doing? He came jaunting out of his bedroom in his underwear waving his 357 around trying to find something to aim at and shoot. I remember Mom asking him, "What in the hell are you going to do, kill it?" We all went downstairs. It was the strangest thing, it wasn't storming outside on the first floor. The night was calm....back upstairs, storming....down stairs, calm. Quite frankly, I do not recall how the night ended or when everything quieted. I think we all ended up sleeping in the same room.

The time line of when things happened is fuzzy from here . . . Maybe two days later, we were all going out to dinner. We were in the first floor living room waiting to leave. Pops came walking out of the first floor bathroom in his green leisure suit. He didn’t make eye contact or even speak to any of us. He just walked to the front door, opened it, and walked out. We all looked at each other oddly and Mom said, "Okay, I guess we're leaving." We got up and followed. Out the front door we went. We looked around and no one was there. Where did he go? He was nowhere to be found outside. Suddenly, we heard something inside and it was Pops coming down the stairs. "Are you guys ready to go?"— What do you do? How do you react? All of us afraid in our own home, but of what? What was it? How did it do that? Why did it do that?

Crystal and I slept with Tommy in his room after that. All of the bedroom doors on the second floor were louvered doors. You could hear everything going on out in the house. Nothing ever happened in the bedrooms. We never saw any apparitions after the first sighting Crystal and I had witnessed. Everything after was noises, moving objects, sensations of cold, and a sense of the presence of evil. I can remember going to bed at night scared to death. We would close the bedroom door and it would begin. You would hear the attic door open, footsteps coming down the stairs and then horrible noises. Books being thrown from the book case, the sounds of bowling balls going across the floor, shutters rattling. You would work up the courage to open the bedroom door and look out, and everything would be perfectly in its place.

Maybe a few more days went by and Crystal and I devised a plan of escape. I called the bus station, found out how much the tickets were back to Kansas City. We stole the exact amount out of Pops’ billfold and moved in with our Dad. We just could not deal with the uncertainty of our life, sanity, and safety in that house.


The Hanging Man by James Eric Watkins


A figure appears
in and out of a cloud
of foggy morning air
night air: What is real . . . reality; I don’t know

This mud is in-between
my toes, my weightless toes
those-squishy toenails froze

My old brown shoes
blow breath and stitches
onto moist dirt socks with chewy feet centers
I wore those thirty-year-old
shoes just yesterday

and I walk . . . into the foggiest fear

fogustphere . . . I am here . . . is this August, dear?

Separate the smoke-like gas formation: a hanging man

Should I scream?
I am sixteen in a dream
standing on the primitive brown glass
bank of Sand Creek River
the cold air
and the rotten
of the man
pulls out of my guts a shiver, a quiver

Somehow my mind is me . . . wiser me
walking in long-haired

I smell . . .that smell again
and sandy-brown locks flow in the wind

Eyes shift from the now colorless ground
Toward sky and fear my gaze is found

The decayed wind blows his body around
and the old cellar door’s screech is now the ropes new sound

I know I am close
but my vision channels
me back as if I am far
Suddenly, it’s hard to move
It’s . . . like my feet are covered in tar

The face
of this man shows not to me
I~~~can~~~ not~~~ see

Thoughts race
erase, embrace
the enigma of who
the deceased could be

I’m walking to see the face of the man
and now, I’m running as fast as I can

I can’t believe
this fucking horrible fantasy
with a familiar face
in a desolate, dark place

The man who hangs
from the tree, clearly now . . . is me

My face in my hands
tired, cold, defeated I am

Me the boy
cries at the feet
of me the man