Dead Tired

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Finally, the end of the longest day of my life was over. The tears of the past months now free to flow yet strangely absent. This old house quieter than ever, the door closing behind me and the true sense of emptiness was now being felt as I never thought possible.

Leading up to my wife’s death, friends, family and of course my daughter were always close by and the grief shared by all. Now the house is dark as I stand in the hallway not wanting to turn on the light for fear of seeing the reality of finally being alone.

The hall was brighter just this morning as the sun rose and my daughter and I went off to the funeral parlor for Liz, my wife’s final service before our trip to the cemetery. The morning was crisp and clear, a distant smell of lilac hung in the air as the cars lined up for the procession.

The route chosen was considerably longer than necessary but a twisty country road in full spring bloom is a sight to be enjoyed, even if it to be the last. The funeral itself was as beautiful as anyone could expect, the morning mist lingered in the new day and the birds serenaded in the background as hundreds of mourners passed to show love, friendship and respect for a truly remarkable person. A woman whom I loved deeply for many, many years but now feeling I never fully acknowledged as a person or professional and was regretting having not expressed it more when she was alive. I hoped she knew of my love and respect for her as a mother and friend, as a physician, scientist and teacher and of course as a very lucky man’s wife.

The next few days a similar sad and hazy blur, I just roamed from one room to the next recalling all the little things that happened in each one over the thirty years living here. Each had a story, a laugh or tear, all where ours, our colors, our furniture, our books and our clutter. Each and every piece a memory and all memories of an instant in time to never be repeated. A life time that was a life’s time in the making and yet gone in an instant.

Life goes on I’m told and I would like to believe that. I’m sure for many it does. For some however it’s just not meant to be. I realized this when the crumpled remains of my car was dumped in my driveway minutes ago. And I never got to say goodbye.

The End

sck061817 / dft

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Sleepy Town

Dusk shrouds foggy walks
Whispers heard when no one talks
The old town hall shines felicity
Its library shares the pageantry

Main Street bristles with conspicuous zeal
Spirits roam unseen when unreal
Tales abound of young maidens kissed
Faces unknown for souls unmissed

Yarns be spun of their tiny cove
Time surrounds, the mind does rove
Behind every door lie stories untold
Life in a village three hundred years old

High on the hill sits a Queen Anne alone
She’s peaks of copper and footing of stone
Her windows boarded to hide the view
Abandoned by the town, seen by few

The home once a school for wayward boys
Most had no families, none knew of toys
A cagey couple was completely in charge
Both small in stature yet looming large

The mistress taught letters with pointer or switch
The master kept numbers making them rich
Gruel’s fed to the students, the master’s meat
The boys froze; the pair warmed by their heat

Ablaze was the furnace ahead of each storm
The lads safely locked in their cold attic dorm.
Their sniffles and sneezes all kept at bay
The masters swept all the sickness away

Each year had runaways, never to be found
Searches end at the edge of school ground
Then came a young man sheltered in error
He promptly escaped and reported the terror

Inquires made, investigations were had
The masters left freely, the mayor glad
The school was closed with little fanfare
The boys sent away with little a care

Rumors lost from days long past
Horrors are hidden all too fast
No more’s said of the young boys plight
And another sun sets on a sleepy town’s night

~*~

sck121115

Spooky House

At the end of my street, quite near,

Sits the source of all that I fear.

Now a horror, once a jewel,

I run fast on my way to school.

`

Looms alone behind a high wall,

Watching me pass, the house sees all.

Hidden by trees most of the year.

But when fall comes so does my fear.

`

Autumn leaves drop, crunch under feet.

Out pops the house that haunts our street.

Halloween comes, chill in the air.

But trick-or-treaters won’t go there.

`

Lights never on, no cars in drive.

Shades always down, nothing alive.

I’ve heard stories, sounds in the night.

Of the house that causes our fright.

`

The shutters bang and hinges creak.

But no one dare to take a peek.

Many a ball lost over the gate.

Remember the score, game can wait!

`

Spooky shadows in the moonlight.

Ghostly shapes in the dark of night.

The vines on the porch creep and crawl.

Been scaring kids since mom was small.

`

Bats in attic, mice in the shed,

Phantoms inside or so it’s said.

Some say it’s empty, some say not.

Either way I’m worried a lot.

`

Off to bed one dreary fall night.

A bad time to turn off the light.

Mom tucks me in, we chat awhile.

She kissed my cheek, left with a smile.

`

My sleepy smile soon fades to fear.

When spooky house dreams soon appear.

I close my eyes and try to sleep,

Ran out of numbers counting sheep.

`

Outside shadows all a quiver.

Howling winds making me shiver.

I peeked from under my blanket,

The darkness said no sunrise yet.

`

I turned on the light to just wait.

For morning to come, that’ll be great.

Awoke to good news, called my friend.

Our sleepless nights where soon to end.

`

Someone bought the spooky old place.

Hopes to restore its former grace.

House got painted, bushes cut down.

What a great home, what a great town.

`

Windows fixed fresh grass on the ground,

Sunshine and flowers all around.

New families in, kids galore.

And I’m not afraid anymore.

`

We play in the yard, ride the swing.

We make up rhymes for us to sing.

Now my favorite place to be.

But once I thought the house spooky.

`

The End

Sck091914

Hurricane Minnie

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 The wind had picked up since my last smoke break. A few others were huddled in the alley, all talking about the storm, no doubt. When I returned to the office everyone was sitting, glued to their cell phones, checking the latest forecast or talking with someone. The most recent prediction showed the hurricane turning toward us. Which would be apparent if anyone dared to look over their cubicle walls and out the window. The view was pretty ominous from the forty second floor. Figuring we would get off early I quietly shuffled some stacks of paper while watching the manager’s door. It didn’t take long before Herb burst from his office, then instantly collect himself before announcing the coming storm. As planned, I was first out.

 Unfortunately the minute or two saved upstairs made no difference once on the street. The sidewalks were packed with frantic people trying to get home before the hurricane’s landfall. I could see the masses heading for the subway, the aggravation didn’t seem worth it for a twelve block ride, so I decided to walk. After the first few blocks the rain started falling and I knew walking was a mistake.

 After almost an hour of battling the wind and cold rain I was finally home. I’m not usually too excited going to my twenty eight hundred dollar a month rent controlled studio. When I finally did get off the elevator I felt a strong sense of relief. But for a cat the hallway was empty on my floor. I assumed the cat must be Minnie’s, an elderly former actress from the forties and fifties. She had lived in the building for nearly sixty years and had the last remaining undivided apartment. In nearly fifteen years living here I had never seen the inside of her apartment nor has anyone else I know of.

 As I walked toward my door the cat greeted me, as if they knew me. I walked to Minnie’s main door and rang the bell. After a few moments of silence but for the purrs I went to her service door on the side. The door was slightly ajar when I got there. With a gentle push it opened all the way giving me my first glimpse in her apartment. The cat however was not impressed and stayed close by, rubbing their head against my leg. I started feeling uncomfortable snooping on poor old Minnie so I rang the bell again. With no response forthcoming I reached in for the door handle to close it. Before the door closed entirely I felt a tug and the door opened and there before me was Minnie. I asked if she was missing a cat?  

“I don’t know” she said “But since you’re here, perhaps you wouldn’t mind helping me with a little something?”

 Still confused by her sudden appearance at the door I answered without the slightest thought or hesitation “Sure!” I said.

“Could you help me cover my plants on the roof” she replied as she walked quickly toward the stairs.

 Damn! Is she chipper for someone in their nineties, I thought to myself hurrying to catch up. I’d never been on the roof before, I didn’t know you could. She fumbled around a bit while we both huddled together on the small landing at the top of the stairs. Reaching behind the fire extinguisher she found the key she was looking for and unlocked the door. “Grab the stick in the corner” she said “and put it between the doorway or we’ll get locked up here.”

 I did as she ordered and followed her to a makeshift potting shed behind the chimney. “Before we start perhaps a bit of refreshment” she laughed, reaching for a watering can on a shelf. Reaching into the can she pulled a half full bottle of vodka and took a plug. “ Ahh that’s refreshing.”

 She then passed the bottle to me. I haven’t drank hard liquor in years, but this seemed like a special occasion. I took a small sip and passed it back.

“We’ll save the rest for later” she said mischievously. “Now grab those tarps and follow me”

 We headed to the far end of the roof where a pair of perfectly sculpted azaleas danced in the breeze. The rain was now beginning to get heavy the sky graying and the hurricane appearing evident. We carefully covered the plants then ran back to the stairs, giggling like children as we lept over the puddles.

 Back at the door we found the wind had blown it shut and we were locked out. I banged and shouted for a few minutes in absolute panic. Minnie just laughed and said “I think it’s time for another drink”

 We returned to her bench and made a makeshift shelter with an extra tarp. Once settled in and feeling very cozy, out came the bottle. With each swig her stories became more personal and revealing.

 I woke wet and cold, the sky still gray, I didn’t know what time it was exactly, but it was surely morning and we survived. Peeling the wet tarp from my stiff and hungover body I realized Minnie was gone. Did she get up early and made her way downstairs or something more dreadful. Frantically I called out to her, each syllable loudly echoing in my head. After searching every nook and cranny on that roof top I could only conclude she somehow made her way back downstairs. I went back to the door, which was still locked, but I could hear voices below. First I knocked gently as to not rattle my brain further. Then from fear and impatience I began kicking the heavy metal door and screaming for help. It didn’t take long for someone to answer. Surprisingly it was an EMT that answered. The corridor below was now bustling with activity and a horrific stench.In addition to the EMT there were firemen and police, all hovering around Minnie’s door. I asked one of the officers if anything was wrong. Before she could answer two men rushed past pushing a gurney with a zippered body bag strapped on top. “Is that Minnie” I asked.

“I believe that’s her name” responded the officer “are you related.”

“No, no just friends”  I said. Then asked when she passed?

“It’s impossible to tell without an autopsy” she replied “though judging by the decomposition, I’d guess about a week, maybe less”

 She then asked me several questions about our relationship and when I saw her last. I didn’t mention last night, but did admit to not knowing her well.

 The odor was now overwhelming and my nausea must have been noticeable because the officer urged me to go home without asking for more information. Feeling very sick and confused I headed back to my apartment.

 I fumbled with my keys a bit rushing to open the door. Once in everything looked normal except for the wet leaves and scraps of paper stuck to my window, until I saw the tiny kitten on my bed.

Sck092716-dft

Left Behind

~

Lost in a wandering state of mind,

returning to memories I thought left behind.

A campground awaits from decades of yore,

There’s a lake nearby and nature galore.

 

Summers there filled with family and friends,

as the specter of youth unknowingly ends.

The journey’s now short to a time long past.

My cabin soon appears while the sun fades fast.

 

The sky was clear, blues deepened to black.

The stars shone bright, they welcomed me back.

I relaxed on the porch and sipped iced tea,

my friends due tomorrow the night was for me.

 

With waning moon the damp mist rose,

crickets serenaded, eyes started to close.

Blissful sensations then the start of dreams,

when startled was I by familiar screams.

 

Dolly, Dolly, Dolly! was all she ever said,

her childhood taunts now flooding my head.

She’s the ghostly remains of horrors we’d share.

The truth is haunting when better a nightmare.

 

She would scratch at the screen above my bed.

I’d shriek and shiver and cower with dread.

Mornings would come, I’d report of my fright,

“that little girl’s ghost came to take me last night”.

 

My brothers would tease and mom consoled,

dad says they’re figments of tales I’ve been told.

But when evenings cool and crescent moon high,

dense fog rose and that child would cry.

 

Dolly, dolly, dolly is all she would say,

Her bony hand summoned and pointed the way.

Never dared I answer her mournful request.

Silently I’d wait, ignoring my guest.

 

It’s been many years since last we met.

Time I’ve tried hard, but to never forget.

Now I’ve matured and conscience will decide.

Am I to seek or again shall I hide?

 

I know not what of this phantoms despair.

Yet together there’s grief we seemingly share.

Her woe is death while mine’s the living.

Each is assured though neither forgiving.

 

Our paths have crossed, all have an end.

My choice is made by this spirited friend.

With eyes open wide follow I must,

forsaking not, that lost child’s trust.

 

I rose and leaned forward, held out my hand.

Our fate’s to obey and to command.

We dashed through the field and into the woods.

A moment imagined of pleasant childhoods.

 

Each step echoes with brittle twig snap.

Till the shadows of trees soon overlap.

To guide my way mere slivers of light,

pursuing my phantom into the night.

 

Thicket and bramble claw at my skin,

bleeding the courage from deep within.

The worn paths end at fresh fallen leaf,

this forest beyond, beyond my belief.

 

Spirits roam free where the living don’t tread.

My friend had returned to her life of the dead.

I wished again to hide safe behind closed eyes,

trading this vision for dreams of blue skies.

 

The girl then pointed at boulders stacked high,

interwoven with brush to hide from the eye.

All layers of shadow, grays deepened to black,

foretelling the depth of crevice and crack.

 

Her hazy glow grew brighter, eyes more intense,

repeated cries for dolly now making sense.

She’s lost a dear friend and I’m chosen to find.

To abandon now this child was beyond unkind.

 

Exited are we, our quest’s nearly done.

‘Twas a test of persistence, both surely won.

My mind’s now a flutter, heart beating proud,

grasping in darkness through thick thorny shroud.

 

Our search going well till that last step was taken,

the ground then vanished, I was tumbled and shaken.

I awoke sometime later to whispers, mumbles and cries.

My new friend stood close as I opened my eyes.

 

I saw Dolly held tightly and a bustle nearby.

Mourners had grouped where still bodies lie.

While both lifeless figures familiar in size.

The live too are familiar, all saying goodbyes.

 

The little girl thanked me for my many good deeds.

As slowly she faded having found what she needs.

I begged to be taken for I’ve been truly kind.

When last she said “You need first find needs left behind.”

 

 

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Sck021616