Stories 2 Fall 2019

 

 

The Halloween Treat

      by Carolyn Wolfe

The harvest moon shown distantly on this cold autumn night. It had shed its earlier golden hue and was  now bone white. The moon light that filtered through the mist was soft and as fragile as a first kiss. It shimmered onto streets that were still slick from the late evening rain. Splashes could be heard from those in their cars rushing to get kids from house to house. Parents driving with children laughing in the back seats, all of them decked out in clever, scary or comical costumes. All too soon the kids were begging to take their coats off so their costumes could be seen! The young always seemed so immune to the cold breath of the coming winter, so their parents shivered but eventually relented.

The trick or treaters spilled out into neighborhoods all across town, running and squealing with their flashlights or light wands brightly shining, and having the time of their lives.

Halloween- a kids feast of the senses!

But in one neighborhood, the moonlight shown only in fractured bits onto sidewalks mixed with mud. The houses on this street were in various stages of severe distress and the blood red condemned sign told the tale of their immediate future. These houses were about to be torn down, deemed worthy only of immediate destruction. Come the morning all the homes would be rubble and those who slept in this tumbledown district were faced with the agonizing future of being homeless once again. The residents who stayed in these dwellings were called bums, squatters or worse- trespassers, and no one gave a damn that their temporary homes would be destroyed, and that they would face the long winter with no shelter at all.

 On the steps of one of these houses was a young girl named Emily. School was a distant memory for her, though she would have been in 7th grade this year. She had been unable to attend school  for the last couple of years as her family moved from shelter to shelter just to survive.

 On this Halloween night she had no costume, no treats, just the terrible knowing that tomorrow she would once again have no shelter for her and her family. She wanted to cry as she listened to the faraway squeal of the trick-or-treaters, because it seemed like there were only tricks for her and her family that night.

Emily wondered where the next step of their journey would take them. Her father's job had been eliminated over two years ago.  His company had been bought out and the new owners decided to “clean house”, leaving the former employees jobless with no notice. Her Father losing his job and then over the next year losing all hope of getting another one, had started the downward turn of events that led them to trespassing in a condemned housing area.

 Tonight, her parents had encouraged her to go to the other neighborhoods to trick-or-treat, even wanted her to wear a mask, maybe have a little fun before leaving in the morning. But the idea of going trick or treating struck such a false note in her heart that she said she was just too tired to go.  As far as she was concerned going out to get candy when she would be homeless in the morning was ridiculous!  She could not stand pretending to have a good time. Could not bear simply going from warm house to warm house with a bunch of kids who did not have to worry about what the morning would bring.  

She just would not do it!

Emily sat looking at the moon through the mist and listened to the sad sound of the leftover raindrops dripping from the gutters.

She had a very strong imagination, and began to daydream about what the houses looked like when they were new.  Following this train of thought, she imagined the currently shabby line of rowhouses, freshly painted in shades of blue, dark green, and grey.  How they shone in the bright sunshine!

She imagined herself taking a warm bath, instead of rinsing herself off in the dirty shower stall, with the cold water her mom bought at the store. Running water was just a dream in their household. She also imagined cooking in the kitchen on a pristine stove, or making coffee, even heating up biscuits in an oven that worked. Oh, to sleep in a bed and not on her sleeping bag on the floor, or to enjoy a TV show, turn on the radio, or on cold nights like tonight, to have a nice hot cup of cocoa to warm her up. These imaginings made Emily restless, so she got up and began walking down the empty neighborhood street. Looking down she began following the moonlight reflected on the pavement and in muddy little puddles. The moon was white, so white, then a muddy white. As Emily continued to walk the moon’s reflection began to have an orange hue to it and looked suddenly fat with promise! Emily stopped walking. ”What on earth?” she thought as she looked up at the orange moon that now danced in the sky. She began walking quickly back the way she came, her steps sounded very loud on the now dry pavement. There was no longer any hint of rain!

 Suddenly she heard voices loudly coming toward her. Hoardes of trick-or-treaters were invading the neighborhood, laughing loudly as they passed her in order to run to the row of houses that she had just left behind her a few moments ago. But those houses, the houses that she knew so well, were gone. In their place were blue, dark green and grey warmly lit and welcoming homes, their doors that were all decorated with Fall wreaths or smiling pumpkin images, opened up to the children with folks inside handing out bags filled with candy! The squatters were squatters no more! They were now transformed into laughing, happy families eagerly greeting the kids as they came up the steps to their homes! Emily barely recognized these folks as the normally unhappy people that had tenanted the condemned homes.  Now they were neighborly and filled with holiday excitement.  Emily simply did not understand what she was seeing. Suddenly afraid, she ran back to the house that her family had taken shelter in. Standing in its place was a townhouse, regal in structure and freshly painted a sky blue.

Emily’s Mother came to the door and said she had been looking for her, saying she had Emily's costume ready. Her Mother looked as she did when the family was in their old house, happy and blissfully unaware of the events that would turn their lives upside down.  Now dressed in a scarlet sweater and black pants, her Mother looked as if she was ready to go to a party. “Mom what is going on?” Emily asked, as she heard her father's voice in the background telling her brother to get ready to go trick-or-treating. “It’s Halloween honey and you forgot your costume.” Her Mother answered and appeared as if nothing was amiss.   Terribly dazed and confused Emily walked up the steps and asked her mother what costume she was talking about. Her mother smiled and reached behind her for the bundle that was on the last step of the stairway (the brand new and glossy stairway) that was now fully repaired somehow, and handed Emily a blue robe with stars on it and a conical hat. The costume was that of a magician. Emily began to realize that her life had just taken a huge and very magical turn for the better. Deciding not to tempt fate by questioning this good fortune, she ran to put on her costume.  After all, it seemed that Halloween decided to give out one more treat that night to this neighborhood.

 A fresh start.

Bio: More about Carolyn can be found at : http://wolfecarolyn.wix.com/carolyn-storyteller

 

 

SUMMONED

 by Tom Sheehan

What am I supposed to do now? Stars being acetylene. Exploding all around His head, so much so I can't find His eyes though Hekeeps staring at me, I think. There must be oceans or mountains locked deep and away  in them. Is it tidal, all this pulling at me, ormoons/ash? Are they to be climbed because they are there, more than Alpine, Andean?

 

Are such mountains coveted? I didn't kill any- body. I didn't steal from a widow or an old lady. I didn't rob a bank or embezzle or steal some-body's cache. I didn't walk away from a crime. I didn't refuse to help not even all those times I was lazy or being put out of place. He keeps staring at me, I think. I think His eyes are brighter than hot rivets a new building waits for with open mouths. They have weight and presence, they are deep and long with a mild brooding, and yet come at me.

Nothing I did deserves this, this silence more than mere silence, this loneliness more than mere loneliness, this being stripped bare as if I don't even have any underclothes on.

What does He want from me? He must know I am sorry for anything, whatever it is, that I have done.

What hangs above everything is the silence. Even my ears hurt. My heartbeat sounds a watch 's soliloquy, each tick a gong.

This I never dreamed, not a bit of it. If I look up, will it burn me? Will His stare burn through lens and retina and rods and cones and rhodopsin and vitreous humor? Oh, for God's sake, knock off the crap! like everything you ever learned was something special, was worth all the time you spent learning it! You could have done something worth-while. Saved a life. Given your hand to somebody deep in trouble, aching for another hand, a small grasp, a clutching at any other time, at least shook a hand when you absolutely didn’t want to.

You could have been warm, or at least smiled when it hurt. wear it. Even the silence.

Remember the fly ball that got away from you way back there, how the sun took it, hid it, how silence ranked down on you.

Remember the silence all along the sidelines, through the stands, how it came over you more tidal than a wave? Even the runner didn't make any commotion, just head down he went and heading to second as you scurried no place at all. How that silence roared in your ears, dense and thick as death itself, at least how you think of it sometimes.

Remember how long you  believed it was still  up there, hanging in space, hanging in place, and sometime, like now, as if all things  are coming together or falling apart all the  way back to some beginning, you'd find a glove in your  hand and you'd  turn the right  way and it would be there right  in that glove? And it'd be all over. All that bad part, and the other bad parts, would be over, over forever and done with, right back to the beginning.

He can't blame me for that! I've carried that forever, knapsack heavy, omnipresent, the game lost, the silent jeers I knew were always just outside my hearing, the looks coming my way all those games later whenever another flyball wanted to come back down to earth.

Was it the dollar bill I took from a sleeping aunt tor mere candy when I was six or seven and sweet of tooth? How long have I toted the weight of that minor currency?

Now He moves His eyes. He looks away. Does He separate me now? Does ball or dollar bill do it, or is there something else to all of this?

Bio:Tom Sheehan, in his 92nd year, has published 44 books, latest being The Grand Royal Stand-off at Darby’s Creek, and Small Victories for the Soul VII. Submitted are Valor’s Commission and Beneath My Feet this Rare Earth Slips into the Far-side of Another’s Microscope. He has multiple works in Rosebud, UK’s Literally Stories (120 pieces)Linnet’s Wings (Ireland, 89 pieces)Rope and Wire Western Magazine (262 pieces), 16 Pushcart nominations. He graduated from Boston College in 1956, and served in Korea 1950-52.