She lived a life that some would describe as being on edge. She wouldn’t have had it any other way. The long grey car nosed to the curb in front of the theatre. ‘The Spirit of Ecstasy’ leaning forward, in anxious anticipation, atop the grill.
She spotted the ticket taker hurrying out to her car and spun on the seat, unfolding her long, lean legs as she stood, and then looked downward to check the way her white silk gown hung and clung.
Smiling, “Thanks, Teddy,” to the doorman, “See ya later, Arthur,” to her driver.
Breezing through the ornate brass of the entry, and past the show-bill with her picture, she shook the nickels she clutched in her right hand and slid them back and forth between her thumb and index finger. She remembered when she had told her daddy that she was going to be a dancer. He’d told her that she would never have two nickels to rub together.
I watched the vulture looking at me hungrily as I lay on the ground bleeding and injured. Something wasn’t quite right though. The perspective was off, wrong somehow. I looked up at the bird. I looked down at myself. I couldn’t remember what had happened. Eyes closed tightly, I thought back.
I remembered watching the old man, who called himself Drummer, as he untangled the lines and folded the silk.
I remembered standing on the wheel cover and holding the stay; thumbs up to Daniel as I let myself drop backwards into nothing, the void.
I remembered the sound of falling, a loud WHOOSH slipping past my ears, and then I remembered the ground – the suddenness of the ground.
I remembered what had happened. All of it. And, I kept my eyes closed.
Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest. Roger had never been in a forest before. In fact, right here, right now, Roger was further from his TV screen than he had been in the last 14 years and he was frightened, he was conflicted; but he was doing it for love, he was doing it for Irene.
He and Irene had met at Chess Club in high school. They both felt the chemistry.
He and Irene had gone to State together. They fell hopelessly in love and wed immediately after graduation.
He and Irene had played Wii and X-Box together; but now she wanted to try hiking. She had already slipped between the trees. He could hear her giggling in there. He was expected to follow.
Now this is living the life of Riley, thought Tom, stretching out on the silk brocade cushion that was placed to take advantage of the sunlight streaming in through the window.
But Riley doesn’t live here anymore, he thought. Three nights ago Tom had seen to that. Coyotes don’t care how mean a cat is, they know they’re meaner. Tom was now the Fat Cat at Missus Murphy’s. That was her name, Missus Murphy, but the cats who lived here just called her “She”.
Tom believed that “She” had been appointed by the goddess Bastet to care for all cats. She had even tried to care for Riley, and nobody even liked him. He always hogged the tuna that “She” brought. He always hogged her lap too.
Tom wouldn’t be that cat. He would take the pillow, sure, because it was so nice and he would share his tuna with that sleek Persian, Priscilla. She was nice too.
Few knew about the castle hidden inside the island, but Jim Rickerts knew. The Rickerts’ had always known.
His boys would learn tonight, all three of them.
They ranged in age from four to eight and it was time for them to meet the rest of the family and begin their training.
Sarah wouldn’t be too happy ‘bout them going away, but it had to be.
Jim Rickerts was many things. He was a lake tour guide using the paddle wheeler to keep watch over the island. He was the youngest of three brothers, and chief guardian of the castle. His brother John ruled the castle. His oldest brother Daniel had been killed in the coup when John had seized power.
John had no sons and his wife had passed on when the princess was born. That meant Jim’s boys were next in line. He supposed, at some point they would have to fight it out.
The A&B Building was made entirely from driftwood. At least that was what they said, but I was skeptical. I questioned the structural integrity of driftwood.
Now, I don’t want to brag, or anything, but you usually gotta get up pretty early in the morning to pull one over on me so, I stationed myself across the street from the A&B and studied the building. I wanted to expose the lie. I wanted to rocket to fame, and cement my place in the halls of investigative journalism. This A&B scam was going to be my launching pad.
The first thing I noticed was glass in the windows. Then I saw the electrical drop. That clinched it.
But I was wrong. The A&B spokeswoman responded to my tell-all article in “The Tattler”.
I had never heard of transparent trees. Trees that folks seldom notice because, well, they’re transparent.
She lived in a mango tree. Ramiro had helped her build their new home after they had left Bridgid’s loft on C Street. Mandy spent her days bringing him herbal teas and hasenpfeffer. She would entertain him by reading stories from books checked out of the library while he sat on her shoulder gazing out the window; watching the world go by. He particularly enjoyed stories of Pendle Hill, Salem, and North Berwick. They reminded him of the old days.
Life was good until Mandy brought home a young man, named ‘Dude’. She begged Ramiro to let her keep him. He was scraggly and skinny, with long dirty hair. He wore only board shorts and flip flops.
“But of course, you may keep him, dear. If he makes you happy, he is welcome to stay. Let me first turn him into a centipede.”
Mandy watched in horror, as Ramiro waved his wing and it was done.
From her small balcony, the witch watched the world go by. Bridgid McGillicutty had lived in this house near the shore with her familiar, a black bird named Ramiro, since it was built.
For the most part she was content to watch the parade on C Street while Ramiro fetched her herbal teas and hasenpfeffer, on command. Ramiro though craved something more. He could be a randy bastard and he loved to chat up the young girls on their way to the beach. Sometimes this could cause problems.
“Mistress,” he had said just that morning, as he introduced his latest bikini clad acquisition, “this is Mandy. She followed me home and I intend to keep her. She’s quiet, doesn’t eat much, and she’ll stay in my room. You’ll find her very non-interruptive.”
“Absolutely not,” Bridgid said, “turn her out immediately or you’ll find yourself in my cauldron.”
The pair turned and walked dejectedly back downstairs; Ramiro muttering away under his breath.
As her mount shifted uneasily under her, she grasped the brim of her old felt Stetson, gazed upwards and remembered Jean Pierre.
He had been a fur trapper, a rough man who should have stayed in France, a man who was not afraid to die. Indeed he had told her as much right before they locked eyes and she slid her blade between his ribs. Belle had held him as his life slipped away and his soul departed. There was something uniquely intimate about killing a man that way.
“Peace be upon you Jean Pierre I grant you freedom from this tortured life.” She had intoned as he breathed his last and collapsed on the rough hewn floorboards above the saloon.
She wiped her blade clean on his chaps, dressed, snuck down the back stairs and took his horse.
Her bruised ribs ached as she rode west, always west. She had to put some distance between herself and Laramie.
The cemetery spread along the area known as Devils Abode. Melinda and I strolled among the headstones reading names and epithets. The list of the currently interred could go on forever but notables included:
1910 – 1934
It’s much better than being caught.
Idi Amin Dada
President for Life
1925 – 2003
Arizona Donnie Barker
1873 – 1935
1925 – 1998
Susan “Sadie May Glutz” Atkins
1948 – 2009
1878 – 1953
1934 – 1976
Protest is when I say this does not please me.
Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me occurs no more.
Bad King John
1166 – 1216
1906 – 1967
1758 – 1794
Some that we expected to see we did not. Caretakers told us, when we asked, that a lot of the monuments are stolen by souvenir hunters. There is still plenty of room there. Let’s hope it stays that way.