Friday, January 29, 2016

The Turning

I tugged my bedroom curtains closed and relished the darkness. It wouldn't be long. I counted in my head, 1, 2....3. Then I felt his hands slide around my neck and he moved them sensuously down my bare shoulders. I turned around, my eyes expectant, but I was still alone.
He laughed.
I squinted in the blackness, I knew he was there... somewhere.
“Are you afraid of me?” His voice was smooth and deep, it soothed me.
“Of course not, I... I...” I stammered, I couldn't say it.
“Oh my dear, loving me is dangerous.”
“Why?” I couldn't fathom feeling anything but complete adoration for such beauty.
“Because you won't care about anything else.”
“But I don't care about anything else.”
“Then it is too late for you.”
He grabbed me and kissed me.
And it was all that I knew, because everything else had already been forgotten.
I forced myself to pull away; the need to gaze upon his exquisite form was overwhelming. My eyes fluttered open as if I'd been dreaming, and he had vanished. I folded my arms across my chest and shivered. I hated when he did that. No warning, no good-byes, he was just … gone.
I paced back and forth, my bare toes digging into the plush carpet as I wondered when I would see him again. I picked up my phone from the night table and stared down at it. I had no way of getting in touch with him.
Almost on cue, the phone vibrated in my hand. He had never called me; how exciting it would be to have him embrace modern technology. I swiped to answer. It wasn't him, it was my best friend, Jennifer.
“You're late.” She snarled.
“We were going to see a movie?”
“What?” I asked again, still lost in thoughts of Jared.
“You were supposed to be here at seven. What is with you? Get over here, now.” She clicked the phone off before I could respond. I searched for guilt. I didn't have any.
I dressed unhurriedly and headed to Jen's. The fifteen minute drive seemed like three as my mind played out erotic scenes with Jared.
I rang the bell and waited, trying to focus on being the friend Jen deserved. Unfortunately, she was in lecture mode as soon as she opened the door. She was no fan of Jared. He'd taken me from her.

“I Googled it... I know how it happens. It's called The Turning. First you'll dream about him, once a month, once a week... then it's every night. He will become all that you think about, all that you want. You will become consumed. It's happening already isn't it?”
“No.” I couldn't believe she was going to be like this. She didn't understand. No one could.
“Don't lie to me. Even that is a sign. Deceitfulness. But I see right through you. Just like I saw right through him from day one. He's evil; you have to see it.” Jen paused and turned to face me. “Have you dreamt of him?”
“No, of course not.” I could lie easily now; to anyone.
“Dammit, don't lie.”
She wasn't going to let it go. I had to come up with something else.
“Yes. Okay, okay... yes I've dreamt of him. But it means nothing. He means nothing. I... I don't even....” I was patronizing her and she missed it completely.
She laughed. “Oh my god, you're lying to yourself. He's gotten to you. He's inside you... corrupting everything you are. He's controlling you even now...”
“Don't be so dramatic. No one has the power to do stuff like that. I think you need to spend a little less time watching those B horror flicks. You're confusing them with reality.” I shook my head and turned from her but she grabbed my arm and jerked me back. I glared at her with such force she stumbled backwards and hit her head on the corner of the glass coffee table; then a hard crack as her skull hit the marble tiled floor. I hadn't meant to do it.
“Oh my god, Jennifer.” I rushed to her and knelt down beside her. Blood poured from a three inch gash on the side of her head as her eyes filled with panic.
“Deirdre, please promise me you'll get away from him.”
“Shh, don't talk... everything will be fine now.” I took the scarf from my neck and held it against her wound. I stared at the cell phone on the table next to us.
She looked over at it too, “911” she whispered hoarsely.
“They can't help you now. No one can.”
I loosened the pressure of the scarf and sat with her until she lost consciousness. Then I called 911.
I knew it was too late. I cried. Why had this happened?
Jen had been right. I dreamt of Jared every night. He'd gotten inside me, my mind and my soul.
Now I was evil like he was. And I was happy for the first time in my life.  

©2016 Garden Summerland

Friday, January 22, 2016


It was a sticky-wet, steamy kind of night. Storms from earlier in the evening had been replaced by a light mist that settled on my windshield obscuring the clear view I'd hoped for. I'd been impatiently waiting almost three hours. I had both of my windows down, but the street stench was practically making me gag. I was thankful I hadn't eaten.
I'd seen runaways, hookers and junkies. I'd watched patrons getting blow jobs in the parking lot, and a couple of guys left with dancers. But she hadn't appeared; even though she was due off work at two. Now it was quarter til five. Two groups of girls had come out an hour ago, but she wasn't amongst them. It would be getting daylight soon. Where the hell was she?
I'd parked on a side street across from the club. The rental stuck out like a sore thumb. If I'd had more time I would've boosted a car from the discount store across from my motel. But I was working on a time constraint.
It had to be tonight. If I missed this opportunity I'd have to wait another month. The ritual had to be done on the first night of the full moon. And it had to be her. Heaven Starr.
I got out of the car and closed the door gently. I lit a cigarette and walked around to the trunk. There was a homeless man with a full dirty-white beard sitting on the sidewalk and propped up against the building. He looked me up and down. I stepped towards him and he looked away.
"Hey old man, you never saw me, right?" I held out a twenty.
He smiled a toothless grin, nodded and snatched the bill from my hand. He was probably seeing two of me anyway. Nothing better than an unreliable witness. I smiled. My power was slowly returning, and after tonight, it would be full strength. Then nothing could stop me. No cops, no FBI... not even their god.
The right wing religious zealots that have been all over the news this month would take the blame for my work. The media had already given their coalition credit for two of the six rituals I'd performed. I'd left clues to my real identity but the cops were still too stupid to get it. I guess it didn't help that we shared the same initials. I laughed. I loved the irony. As usual, they were worshiping the wrong god.
They needed you to spell it out for them, but I didn't have time to play cat and mouse games.
I had a job to do. I didn't want to be caught. I didn't need to be caught, and I wasn't going to be. I'd been psychoanalyzed by the best of them years ago, and they'd been wrong. It had nothing to do with my mother. I'd been called, and I'd answered. And soon, I would be rid of the filth that had surrounded me since birth, and I would ascend to my true place. And they would all worship at my alters. Sinners.
I'd already caused one of the clubs to close. I'd gotten two girls from that one; I knew that was why. It was always something in the numbers, but that was beyond my comprehension. It didn't matter. You didn't have to be a genius to perform the work of the righteous. And I had been chosen. I'd known it all my life.
Heaven would understand.

I unlocked the trunk and retrieved my gloves and handcuffs. I shoved them into the pockets of the army vest I was wearing, and let the trunk lid down. As I turned around I noticed the old man was still monitoring my activity.
"You don't worry about what I'm doing, okay?"
He mumbled something then spoke up, "I ain't seen nothing Mister. You don't even exist."
"That's right old man, I don't."
I flicked my cigarette into a puddle and got back in the car. Just as I closed the door, she appeared.
There was an ethereal glow around her. She was truly my star. I hated to sacrifice her, but it had to be done, didn't it? I'd meditated many hours about it. And now I sat questioning myself; could she be rehabilitated? Could she believe? She was after all, called Heaven for a reason.
I was in awe of her. She was the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen. I wanted her for my own.
It was in that moment that the course of my destiny realigned; I remade the decision I'd been adamant about only minutes before. Everything changed in the flash of her smile. She could rule by my side as my queen; heaven sent and so named. The vision evolved; I could see it clearly now. Even the lowest among us could be redeemed. I would save Heaven, and maybe by doing so, Heaven would save me. The rest of them would go to hell.

©2016 Garden Summerland

Friday, January 15, 2016

Seven Years Off

Casi tapped her foot anxiously. Two hours had gone by. One hundred twenty minutes she could never get back. It was just like all the birthdays and Christmases he had missed. They were gone unceremoniously and unappreciated. And now the train station was practically deserted. She scoffed. This wasn't her first time and it probably wouldn't be her last.
She rubbed her hands together wishing she'd brought gloves. She tugged at the too small cap she wore. The only thing he'd ever sent her. It was seven years old; she'd been seven when she got it.
Her aunt had called her in from the backyard, and she'd come running... tore open the brown papered package. A pink and white striped knit cap with a huge pom pom on the top of it. It had been the loveliest thing she'd ever seen. And it was all hers. The only thing he'd ever given her, the only connection she had.
She'd worn it for years. Knowing that the very first time she saw him, she'd be wearing it. So here she sat, looking ridiculous with a child's cap on her head. It was just seven years later than she'd thought it would be.
She looked at her watch. It was almost six. The last train would be coming in from the city. She felt her heart slow and her throat went dry. He wasn't coming. Again.
She swallowed hard and searched in her bag for a throat lozenge. She took one out of it's cellophane wrapping and held the sticky square in her hand. Honey-lemon. Her aunt knew she hated those. The cherry ones, those was her favorite.
“Casi?” A man's voice interrupted her inner conversation.
She was afraid to look up. Was it him? Had he come after all? Would she even recognize him? She stared down at the lozenge another few seconds... the man didn't speak again.
Her heart raced inside her chest and slowly she raised her gaze to meet his.
An old man in a rumpled brown suit stood in front of her, motionless; an envelope in his outstretched hand.
She let out a sigh of relief and contempt as she snatched the envelope from his hand. Bitter tears streamed down her cheeks as she glared at him.
“What do you want old man? A tip?” She barked it at him, the hurt and rage building inside her.
Then she noticed his hands; they were shaking, uncontrollably. Oh dear god, the old man was gonna have some sort of seizure right in front of her.
“I'm sorry... I'm so so sorry.” She shoved the envelope in her purse & dropped the lozenge.
The old man watched as the lozenge hit the dirty tile floor and he laughed.
“Honey-lemon? I always hated those. The cherry ones are my favorite.”
Casi froze. Something inside her recognized that laugh. It was warm and familiar and just like her own.
She didn't dare look up again; and her voice cracked when she spoke.
“Daddy?” It was a whisper.
The old man sat down next to her on the metal bench and touched the side of her face.
“Nice hat. Maybe we can find one that fits you better now.”
For the first time in her life, Casi cried tears of joy.

©2016 Garden Summerland

Friday, January 8, 2016

Spoke Too Soon

It had been seven days since she'd seen him. And she'd cried every one of those days. A whole week of tears, and for what? To ease her guilt?
She had no one to blame. She's the one that had broken things off. No contact. That was what she'd said. And now she was miserable.
But it wasn't because she was lonely. She'd never been lonely. A husband, two jobs, a lover and two best friends all vying for her attention. Only now, she didn't have the lover. She'd known that it would eventually come to this.
It had to be him or the husband. Had she made the right choice?
She wasn't even sure how she and Sam had gotten romantically involved. It had started innocently enough. David was the one that had introduced them. Sam was one of his childhood friends, and after Sam's divorce, he'd moved back to town and reconnected with David. Then there was the end of summer barbecue, and Sam came alone. He shook her hand when David introduced them and it made her go weak in the knees.
Carly and David had been married for eleven years, and she loved her husband. David was a traveling salesman and although he was gone three weeks out of the month, she knew she couldn't use that as an excuse.
She was fine being alone, that wasn't the problem. She was restless and bored. And she needed the excitement that Sam brought into her life. Late night rendezvous and clandestine meetings. It made her heart race and her skin tingle. Just thinking about him made her giddy. He was tall and muscular, with blond hair that fell into small curls at the nape of his neck. He had deep blue eyes and a Southern accent that made her melt.. He was everything David wasn't.
But then... David got fired. Now he was home all the time, and her unexplained outings were being scrutinized. She had grown weary of the dishonesty. It had been different when he was away, but now she had to face him, look into his eyes and lie. It was more than she could bear.
They had been happy once; years ago it had been David that gave her butterflies. She longed for those times again. But she feared it could never be recovered. She had tasted the forbidden fruit of Sam and now she realized there was no turning back the clock. No matter how much her guilt ate away at her soul, she couldn't shake the emptiness she felt since she'd decided to walk the straight and narrow.
Sam had been her secret pleasure. Not even her best friends knew, and she wasn't about to tell them now that it was over. No, she was going to have to face the facts, and try to rebuild her relationship with her husband. Of course he had been the logical choice, the only one that made sense. And yet... she couldn't help second guessing her decision. She thought it would be easier to say good-bye to Sam and never look back. But looking back was all she'd done. She missed him. And soon the cold hard realization began to sink in. She was in love with Sam.
There was nothing to be done. She was going to have to tell David. Then there would be a messy divorce, and she would lose everything she'd struggled for years to maintain. And for what? The reality was, that life with Sam might not be as thrilling as it appeared. But there was only one way to find out. Was it worth the risk?
She decided it was.
She would come clean that night. She would pack her things, and confess her sins. And by next week, she'd be with Sam.
On her drive home from work, she got everything straight in her head. She would be honest, and succinct. He could have everything, she just wanted out.
Upon her arrival, she found David sitting in the living room in the dark.
“What's going on? Why are you sitting in the dark?” she questioned as she turned on lights in the foyer. He sat motionless in his recliner.
“David? What's... what's the matter? You're scaring me.”
She flicked on the lamp next to him, illuminating his red face and swollen eyes. He'd been crying.
He reached his hands up to her, “Carly, come here.”
She took his hands and knelt at his feet. He must've found out about Sam. She hadn't wanted him to hear it from someone else. This was going to be harder than she thought. But she had no choice now but to come clean. The sooner she got this out of the way, the sooner she could start a new life with Sam.
“David....I...I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry. I wanted to be the one to tell you. And we never meant for it to happen... it's just... you're gone so much... and Sam... Sam has been there for me. And we...”
He jerked his hands away.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“David... Sam and I have been seeing each other for about a year. And.... and I want a divorce. He loves me, and I love him.”
He laughed. Not just a chuckle, but full on raucous laughter.
“Carly... you fool. You are so self-centered, you always were. If only you'd kept your mouth shut. There was a horrible accident out on route 5 this morning. Sam is dead.”

©2016 Garden Summerland