October 13 Preview - Ears Become Eyes
A trickle of seepage invades my blue jeans and I shake a little from the chill that grips and cramps my lower spine, pulls me tight to the dank stench of cold concrete, the stink of mental institution and I wonder if that’s where this sewer leads. Flat on our bellies and sweating like hot-dogs in the narrowing tunnel, my nose brushes Mitchell’s rubber heels and my flashlight falters over his thin shoulder where the beam stops against dark solid air; quietly listening, I’m beginning to have second thoughts. It’s the sound of late after midnight when the house walks and shifts and settles old cracking beams and bones, when echoing rain rumbles high on the roof and everyone you love is wrapped in warm dreams, everyone but you, alone, twisted and fitful in the dark, clutching the damp crooked sheets. And it’s there in the dead of night when you are surprisingly aware, when every sense is heightened and every sound now dons some perverted face with a slanted shape and a writhing purpose, when imagination truly gives birth and your ears become eyes and for the first time you begin to see all the possibilities. Mitchell continues to babble on, something about how this was my idea in the first place and that I should now go first and I want him to shut up and listen, listen because I hear something and it sounds like it’s oozing - - as if you can hear something oozing - - a sticky clop, a detached sound and I notice my jeans are now soaked through. Mitchell’s still talking but all I hear is something coming and I’m thinking I might just back away, inch down quietly and leave Mitchell to do what he does best and that’s to talk this out on his own because he doesn’t have much of an imagination, not like me anyway and he doesn’t see it, not the way I see it.
October’s 13/#1 - Somewhere Between Good and Evil
There are a slew of stories told by long haulers about a stretch of highway between the coasts where they say God and the Devil crossed paths while thumbing through America; it’s a stretch of bad karma, mysterious disappearances, unexplained occurrences where travelers inexplicably up and vanish into thin air leaving no answers or calls… just gone; and what happened at that crossroad, how it went down between God and the Devil… shit, one can only guess but one story went like this.
There may have been a struggle… a reckoning… an old-fashioned duel between madmen. And the exact spot of this encounter, Somewhere USA - - somewhere between fading cornfields and dirt cities, perhaps on a curve of blacktop a few miles outside of your own quaint town, a faulty bend in the road slightly past midnight. Perhaps they played a fun game of chance, rolled the dice and paved the road with the memory - - even number: let you go… odd number: eat you up.
I tend to turn up the radio when traveling, listen to upbeat music and think pleasant thoughts. Hell, I even pray a little as I travel toward the darkening horizon and bleeding sunset.
October’s 13/#2 - Dead Serious
That damn virus killed almost all of America, at least everyone I ever knew and loved, took our dreams and most of our wants. It left some alive… like those healthy slabs of red meat I see lurking behind the glass at the old butcher shop.
I’ve seen what their guns can do; they’re heavily loaded but it doesn’t really matter because there are more of us than the bullets they are running out of. Oh Lord I hunger for the days when we could embrace our old dreams, grab on tight to all this country had to offer. We are still those Americans - - even in death - - relentless and picky to the end, hungry for what we truly want and right now that would be living flesh. And seriously brother, we want you… fresh.
October’s 13/#3 - Once In A Blue Moon
On the slow days in simmering heat, Moe is content to lie in a loose heap and ponder the butterflies and bees that zigzag about, one-eye the few chickens that peck about the untended yard. The warm familiarity of the dog-eared porch is a steady comfort as he waits for the woman to return. There’s not much desire to stir things up, not much need to stretch out bony bones; those days are mostly behind him… but once in a while… once in a blue moon… something will stir…like the other night when that fox came rifling through… he’d jumped to the call, off the porch for the chase and fight, all that play stuff except, it hadn’t been a fox. Something bigger and upright on two feet had swiped at him, blurred on through and left a rake of nail that seared his hindquarter.
The woman hasn’t been around, more than likely down the road closing down the bar like she’s apt to do on a sweltering night like this. Moe’s hip is now a puffy black furrow, the scratch itching hot and personal and an even sweeter itch simmers just below the surface - - the insatiable need for flesh and blood to wet his mouth; he is pleasantly aware how his teeth ache and protrude and how - in drifting sleep - he is comforted with panting dreams that buzz through his head like annoying wasps, only the wasps now roar with the sound of a terrible ripping and he finds himself loping with purpose, faster than the wind, down the blue moonlit road toward light and laughter on the edge of town.
October’s 13/#4 - Frankly-Doctor-You-Make-Me-Crazy
i-not-think-good-for-nice-words. body-sore-from-needle-holes-and-slice-parts. doctor-say-I-truly-alive. me-grateful-for-all-parts-he-give. only-hate-blue-jolt-he-repeat-send-through-my-being-while-he-laugh-crazy-to-sky. jolt-work-first-time-and-now-annoy-with-fry-brain-and-once-he-finish-with-new-hand-sew-i-help-remove-laugh-from-crazy-him-face.
October’s 13/#5 - Six Feet Under
The Crawley kids are talking to a therapist. I’d be too if I’d found what they did. Joey White and Donald Forrester buried a blood-smeared mannequin’s hand in the kiddies’ sandbox by the park, a cool Halloween prank for sure but the kids ran home crying, got their folks and police involved.
There’s something else going on out there; camera crews are clogging the neighborhood streets and TV reporters are running haywire like it’s an OJ crime scene as the police barricade off the playground, blocking access to the park. My friend Henry’s dad is a cop and he overheard him talking with the other police officers, though I’m not sure Henry heard it right. There’s more to it, something about what those guys didn’t bury… or perhaps did… something about feet… real feet… lots of them… at least three bodies worth.
October’s 13/#6 - What Lies Beneath
October 31, 1947:
We, who live in the small hamlets along the northern territory shoreline may have seen something fall from the sky, crash into the deep bowl that was our lake; if we did see, nothing was said, only whispered.
October 31, 1960:
New housing developments overshadowed our lodgings when investors cashed in on the wilderness and wine colored lake; over the years we listened to their complaint - lack of wildlife to hunt, the poor fishing catch - and we told them it was just the way of nature.
October 31, 1973:
The mysterious disappearance of four boaters and their boats brought about an investigation by federal authorities but the cases remained unsolved as the lake - - a deep crater 2000 feet deep - - left no clues; we who knew left offerings near the water’s edge; the disappearances stopped.
October 31, 1986:
The developments went the way of ghost towns as strange sightings were reported on the lake and in the surrounding woods; several locals went missing and were dismissed as ‘runaways’ but we knew what we’d done; there were no investigations by the local authority.
October 31, 1999:
Only a few families remained on the lake and those who stayed and understood continued to leave what was necessary beside the water’s edge.
October 31, 2012:
Our skates cut the thin veil over the ice pond and we follow the blowing tornados of snow across the glass surface; something wide knifes beneath the ice and I sense the deep water below about to boil but I am not afraid.
October’s 13/#7 – Skittles
He’ll do his part this night, string up the clattering bones and frayed cobwebs, wire the crinkled spiders and worn leathered bats, and light the surgically carved pumpkin. Oh yes, he’ll put the usual work into it, hell, he believes a skull when properly painted can look quite real, almost like it could smile again. Inside the house, he’ll turn out the lights and wait in the quiet knowing that before long the heavy shout of ‘trick or treat’ will land upon his doorstep and despite the darkened windows, the doorbell will ring over and over echoing no answer and the little devils will disappear. Much later, the last of them will trundle by, usually the greedy ones eager to cash in on the last of the sweet things. Shaking the atrophy that tortures his limbs, he will skittle up from the basement, plucking clots of dirt from his swollen features. And when they see him dressed like them in full nightmare attire, they will scream - knowing it’s too late - and try to run and he’ll raise a ruined face to the whitening sky - bulging feelers encircling - and oh yes, the treat will be on him.
October’s 13/#8 - Let It Out
Okay… open your mouth, take a deep breath and let it out. Oh… no, no, no… you call that a scream? Please, try it again and this time really let it go, the louder the better. Don’t worry. No one can hear you. It’s only you… and me… and this most interesting room.
October’s 13/#9 - There’s This Place
Here in the rural outskirt, there’s a shadowed road that weaves like a long black snake through swamp and thicket marked with buckled shanties that sprout like boxwood along its roadside, and if by some mistake you’ve taken this road, found your way down round Wellman’s Bog, you will come upon a nameless trailer park - a ramshackle of disintegrating trailer homes contorted every which way like some abandoned train wreck. There are no streetlights or paved driveways here, no white picket fences or beautiful gardens, no fancy cars or big-wheeled trucks… just a pool of society that has slipped from the mainstream and exist near the bottom; some may have a thing or two to hide but most are simple folk who choose to live quietly, wish only to be left alone.
Down in nearby Mallorytown, there is rumor this place is the Meth-man’s hangout, a zippie-hippie commune, a gypsy camp… a witch’s coven. It is easy to label what is not understood, to mistake what is seen, challenge what is believed… and should one poke around here late after midnight, well, there are things to been seen that may surprise - - turned-over cans and knotted bags of garbage may lean like deformed goblins and jitter in the dark when the wind grabs and tickles them… a smoke stained curtain may move and contort, then take on the appearance of a skillfully dissected face… blackened metal drums, the ‘trash burning’ type might belch a strangely pleasant “cooked” smell.
And should a hand touch your shoulder while you’re poking about, be glad that it’s only me because I’m mostly harmless, somewhat of a discarded scarecrow you might say that’s lost a bit of its stuff. I cannot tell you how long I’ve lived here but if you come in, stay for a spell, I will gladly show you why.
October’s 13/#10 – Nightmare Girl
She calls well after midnight, tells me she’s going to be late. “Please don’t be mad,” she pouts. “It’s been so busy tonight.” Truthfully, I’m not mad, just spoiled and lazy after all these years. My girl will do anything for me; she’s a nurse down at the county hospital. She knows what I am and bless her heart… actually believes she’s saving lives by delivering what I crave.
October’s 13/#11 - Little Horrors
For Fletcher Chapman, the little horrors of Halloween night are pure joy. He eagerly answers each knock, drops handfuls of candied treats into the outstretched bags, and savors the shrieks of ‘Trick or Trick’ and ‘Thank You!’ that echo around him in the October night. He is almost brought to tears as he watches them rustle away across his lawn like tumbling leaves.
Tomorrow is only a few hours away. Fletcher knows that in the morning, the real horror will begin. In the glare of new light, he will need to endure the torture of strangling traffic on his way to work, a monster of a boss lurking over his shoulder, his mummified secretary Betty’s clawing voice, the office trolls that scurry from the elevator and flow darkly down the halls, Connie’s poisonous cooking waiting on the dinner table, the silent zombies pretending to be his children and most of all, the specter of another year trapped in life’s suffocating nightmare.
October’s 13/#12 - In Our Town
No one goes out this night. Here, the earth binds and bends, gives up its contents in oily vomit, wet worm stench and all. Building exteriors blister and boil, statues and facades exhibit carvings of sutured faces bathed in blue moonlight, avenues of blasted trees stretch like black boned fingers, their silhouettes clutching and grabbing at the maw of night. Unspeakable monstrosities loll in every corner, slither over bridges, coil and cut along the gutters and walkways. Windows burn orange in blackened sockets and bristling lawns stab and carve, the waning moon, a rolling eye. Any other night though, it’s quite pleasant for an evening stroll… really.
October’s 13/#13 - Mixed Bag
It’s a mixed bag on our street but we’ve got it sorted out. The trick is to start with the Richardsons across from my house because they’re loaded and not chintzy with the sweets and buy nothing but Ghirardelli chocolate and oh man, it’s all King Size. Then it’s next door to the Shrewburys who are professional Christians but goddamn amateurs when it comes to trust and they naively leave their bountiful offerings out on a chair next to a pumpkin where we happily load up our bags to start the evening. From then on we take our chances, for it’s a ‘grab and run’ fest as we head around the block.
I’ll tell you, it’s hard to say if it’s a scarecrow that answers the door or just old Mr. Finn in suspenders yelling, “you damn kids get off my yard!” but we know he tends to be loose in his thoughts so we’ll wait patiently until he dribbles some candy into our bags though last year he dropped two cans of Campbell’s tomato soup in mine… then we’ll slide next door to Dr. Mullin’s house which is no problem as he is happy to dump handfuls of sugary loot into our bags being our family dentist and all… then it’s two doors down to Joey Perdomo’s place which smells like cabbage and Joey’s old man, Mr. Perdomo, will yell something like ‘those little fags again’ from his broken recliner … then we’ll drift back across the street, through the hedge, where we’ll skip the young couple at number 113 because they never answer the door though we’ll stop to take a peek because last year I swear I saw the woman standing at the living room window with her bare snacks on display… then it’s over to the Wilfords where no matter how good my disguise, Mrs. Wilford will squeal through her clown makeup, “that’s a super costume William!” while she doles out homemade bullshit like wooden cookies and teeth-breaking toffee which she’ll say are “healthy alternatives” or some crap and we’ll smile and shout, “gee, thanks Mrs. Wilford!!!” then grenade them into old man Finn’s yard on the way home…but not until we’ve hit the Docklees, Crabtrees, Neidermiers and Chans who are all pretty generous with the candy and compliments, though the year I wore my Zorro outfit and lost my moustache and hat, Mr. Chan made the mistake of thinking I was some sort of a black-caped Ninja or something and everybody laughed at me. One thing for sure, we’ll skip the houses where we know the loners live because there’s no need taking a chance on getting poisoned or ending up in Emergency with a razorblade lodged between your teeth and gums… I mean it’s no way to end the night unable to bite into all that pure sweetness.