Stories 2 Fall 2014
 
The Argument
 
   by Carolyn Wolfe
 
Dark, dank, positively rank, basement. I walk along the wall, looking for an exit, there is none.
I feel along the wall for a door, a window, an exit. I am completely in the dark. I can see no seam of light, streaming in from under a doorway. I can just feel, afraid, deathly afraid of this total darkness.
I am losing it.
 
I thought I saw something, there in the corner. A shadow against shadows. My heart is beating so hard in my chest that I feel I will burst with fear. The shadow moved, a bit closer. I am, I am , I am not going to give in. I do not believe in ghosts….
 
I am NOT going to give in to my fear. I am an adult. Locked in a basement, by a sadist whom I called Neighbor, up until two hours ago. We were having coffee. Just coffee. And then I felt sick.. And now I am here.
 
Wait no, we were discussing the possibility of ghosts and I said I was not gullible enough to believe in restless spirits that roam the earth. And he turned an angry red face in my direction… and then I went in to get more coffee, and came back and poured it out for the both of us. He had regained his composure completely and even smiled. I drank my cup of coffee, then I felt sick. And now I am here. The shadow and me. As it moves closer I can only think of one thing…
My neighbor really wanted to win this one.
And I lose.
 
Situational Ethics
(A Tales Told Under the Darkened Moon story)
 
    by Carolyn Wolfe
 
Cigarette smoke and stale beer, the hangover was yet to be born and he already had a headache. He liked small, fashionable places to meet and greet, but the man he had to meet here was normally reliable, though of questionable taste in bars, er... dives. He hoped this meeting would be brief and fruitful.
 
Ken had cause to be alarmed, the place was packed and he was an easy target for an ambush. He hated unnecessary risk so he pulled up a barstool closest to the front door. And waited. And waited. An hour later, he was on his third beer, he did not have the stomach for the liquid passing as Scotch at this bar, and he was set to go. He would call it a loss.
 
Then he saw him, across the bar, sitting with a blonde in a very short skirt and a lot of brass. Great, was his first thought, here he is making romantic liaisons with a hooker while I sit here in this dump. Ken left his barstool and sauntered over the couple. To his surprise he was mistaken, this was not the man he was going to meet at all.
 
Could have been his twin though.
 
After excusing himself with an apology, he walked out into the night air. Only to feel his lungs fill with the pollution of the city streets rather than the bar, oh well, six of one... he thought.
.
Then Ken saw him again, under the streetlight, waving him over. He ran over to where the man had just waved, and saw no one. The beer was drugged he thought. He was drugged, that had to be it or else he just needed to go home and sleep. Too long on the job and no sleep, that was his problem.
 
Although home was not the warm and fuzzy place that it should have been. It was austere, it was sterile, it was what was left to him after his marriage had collapsed. So it goes. He hailed a taxi, one seemed to appear out of the dark, but did not stop. He thought about taking a bus and realized that in his condition he would just collapse at the bus stop. He had better keep moving.
 
So he walked, it was fourteen or fifteen blocks to his apartment but he thought that the walk might do him good, clear his head. As he neared his home, he saw the flash of a lighter, smelled cigarette smoke, and saw a shadowed figure step out under the faltering light of a streetlamp.
 
There suddenly, was the man he was supposed to meet. Ken blinked, he had not seen another soul on the street except him, and he was not a man to miss this type of thing. Slowly he walked over to the man standing, smoking, and watching him with seemingly endless patience.
 
"Charlie, where in the hell have you been?"
 
Charlie looked at him and smiled. Then started walking away, and feeling incredibly stupid, Ken just followed.
 
Charlie was not in the mood to talk and obviously wanted Ken to play follow the leader, so Ken obliged him, he would sort it out with Charlie later, maybe with his fists.
 
All the time Ken was wondering what was wrong with Charlie and that creepy smile. Ten long blocks later, Charlie stood under an awning of a building, an antique in this time of modern glass and stone structures. Then Charlie just stood there and laughed. His laugh was high pitched and bordered on hysteria, so Ken was a bit leery about approaching him in this condition. He yelled loudly and repeatedly for Charlie to stop, even asked him what the damn joke was, so he could laugh too, but Charlie just would not quit. Afraid of drawing too much attention to this meet up, Ken finally walked away in disgust.
 
Well this night was a wash, and he was bone tired. After walking a few blocks, again towards his home, his cell phone rang. It was Karen at the police station. He answered it on the fourth ring, he was so not interested in a late night emergency tonight!
 
"Hi Ken, I just got the word, Charlie has been executed. Mob war- truly nasty!"
 
"Karen, I just saw Charlie." Ken said in a bewildered tone.
 
"Not unless you were visiting the morgue." Karen answered slowly. "Charlie's gone, gunned down in front of the old Essex building."
 
"I was just there, I was just," Ken realized he was babbling and got a hold of himself.
 
"I will go and check out the scene, Karen, and see what I can find out." Ken clicked his smart phone off and walked quickly back the way he came.
 
He stood in front of the Essex Building, hunting for some clue as to what he had witnessed. This time he immediately saw the bloodstains on the sidewalk. Karen was right, it had been nasty.
 
Poor Charlie, and if he had truly had a psychic experience and seen the man's shade or ghost or whatever, why was Charlie laughing?
 
Then, in the shadows, Ken saw a movement, the blonde with brass, was hanging on to an older man whom Ken slowly recognized as the mob leader Charlie was going to tell him about. It took a phone text and ten minutes of watching, for the police to arrive. The Mob Boss looked terribly shaken up as he was arrested, and could simply not explain his sheer audacity of coming back to the scene of the crime, that he had just committed a few hours before. He had just ended up there, he said, his mind now a complete blank. His blonde had deserted him upon his arrest. She had realized immediately, what the Mob man now was just beginning to comprehend,  that he was done, all done. And it was all thanks to that two bit bastard, Charlie.
 
It did not take him long to confess and be led away, still shaking his head at this fatally unexpected turn of events.
Ken thought that he could still hear the echo of Charlie’s laughter. Charlie had been a man of situational ethics but he had certainly come through for Ken tonight. He sincerely hoped that wherever Charlie was, he knew that justice had been served.
 
Ken slowly walked back to the bar for a belated toast, to a ghost.
 
 
Bio:Carolyn Wolfe is a free-lance writer, published poet, and author of eight books, which range from poetry to  fantasy and includes children's literature. Her body of work includes writing articles for newspapers and newsletters,  and hosting poetry events in the Winchester area. Her books include two poetry books "Notes From The Shadow Self" and "WhenThe Moon Speaks", a collection of original light fantasy stories titled "The Moonsparrow Collection" and four children's books "The Bedtime Of The Sky and Other Sleepy-Bye Stories", The Unhappy Little Dragon Lessons Begin" and "The Unhappy Little Dragon, Lessons Learned". Her newest children's  book "The Drowsy House" is now available on Amazon.com Kindle. Wolfe also has written a novella  for adult readership "Blade's Magic, full of magic and romance. Carolyn Wolfe lives in Winchester VA with her Husband Scott and many animal companions. Please visit her website athttp://www.whenthemoonspeaks.com/.