To My Readers

Yesterday was the first day I hadn’t posted in nearly three years. I’m a little tired, sad, and overwhelmed.

The middle of July my 100 year old mother died. It was expected. She lived independently until about two months before her death. Her last two months she was unable to communicate the way she was accustomed. She was aware her end was near. She lived a grand life almost to the end. (If you wish to read about what I’ve written about her click onto “Mom” under Categories in the right sidebar.)

I had nearly two months worth of short stories and episodes ahead and able to rely on that reservoir of material.

I had committed to a work of fiction each day of 2014. I won’t be able to accomplish it.

The end of August we found out our 21 year old granddaughter has cancer. It hit my wife and I like a bolt of lightening. We still have not recovered from the shock. We not only carry the emotional burden for each other but that of our granddaughter and her mother, our daughter. There is something terrible about seeing your daughter suffer through this and not be able to help or make it go away. I recall being the master of rubbing a booboo and wiping away a tear to make it all go away. Now my wife and I feel helpless, but know that just being near is what is needed.

The end of September she had most of the tumor removed. Part of the tumor remains in her skull and will be removed during another surgery in several weeks. Beyond the surgery will be chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

It seems like this has affected my ability to concentrate for any period of time on creative endeavors. I started a couple of short stories. When writing fiction there is an emotional expenditure; I have the thoughts, the plot, the characters, the story, and so on, but little will to do what it takes to assemble it.

I just have to take a little more time before writing again. This site has a couple hundred short stories. Click “Short Stories” in the category section of the right sidebar and that will give you access to them.

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 40: The Final Episode

thV3B1RTD5Wendall 

“This is a fourteen year old boy named Wendell,” Old Black Maggie said. “Does he look familiar to you?”

Gary hesitated and breathed deep through his nose. “He looks enough like me to be my twin.”

Old Black Maggie smiled. “You are a handsome lad.”

“Who is he?” Gary said.

“Wendell was,” Old Black Maggie sipped her cocoa, “he is my son, but he is no more; he’s dead.”

“I’m sorry,” Gary said.

“Wendell was my cousin,” Merlin said. “We were closer than brothers.”

“Thirty years ago a young rich boy took an unusual interest in Wendell,” Old Black Maggie said. “This interest was hidden from me.”

“And it was hidden from me,” Merlin added.

“The rich young man had just lost his parents in a mysterious fire,” Old Black Maggie said. “Everything was left to him. He could now live out his fantasies and perversions without fear of his parents finding out. He was now on his own able to live a life free of work and responsibility for any of his actions.”

“It was always thought this rich young man was responsible for his parents death, but it could not be proved,” Merlin said.

“This rich young man is Beez?” Gary said.

“Yes,” Old Black Maggie said.

“What happened to your son?” Gary said.

A tear rolled down her cheek. Wendell reached over and clasp Old Black Maggie’s arm.

“He was found dead,” Old Black Maggie said.

“It could never be proved,” Merlin said, “but as sure as we are sitting here it was at the hands of Beez. He was found sexually assaulted, strangled to death, and laying in an alley doorway to a downtown bar thirty years ago.”

“I was next, wasn’t I?” Gary said.

“Yeah,” Merlin said. “I was looking all night for you.”

“Did you take a leak in an alley tonight?” Beez said.

“That was me,” Merlin said.

“I was under the car next to yours,” Gary said. “What would you have done if you found me?”

“Taken you home quietly,” Merlin said.

“How did you know about me and Beez and how did you know about tonight?” Gary said.

“Beez hangs out at the drugstore,” Old Black Maggie said. “That’s where he finds his boys now. The girl behind the counter is my great niece, Rhonda, Merlin’s youngest girl.”

“We got her job there six months ago,” Merlin said.

“What about Pot?” Gary said.

“He got drunk and fell in the river,” Merlin said. “An accident and only a coincidence related to your situation.”

“But you spit in the water at him,” Gary said to Old Black Maggie.

“Ole Pot ‘as been around for years,” Old Black Maggie said. “He tried to get fresh me a few times. He just wanted a dry place to sleep and warm food in his belly. I spit his way to let him know what I think of him.”

“I thought it was a curse,” Gary said.

“So you was running and hiding from me all along because you thought I was a witch,” Old Black Maggie said. “Imagine that,” she chuckled.

“What about tonight?” Gary said.

“I’ll drive you a couple of blocks from your place and you get back in your house the same way you got out,” Merlin said. “And that will be the end of it. Can you keep this between the three of us?”

“Yeah,” Gary said. “If my mom and dad found out what I was up to I’d never see the light of day until my 18th birthday.”

“I would be kicked from the force,” Merlin said.

“And I’d stand trial,” Old Black Maggie said.

“There’s one other thing,” Gary said. “And I don’t know if any of you can help.” Gary told them about the episode with The Gravediggers.

Merlin chuckled about the episode. “Leave them up to me,” he said. “They are not so tough. I ran two of them in for stealing cigarettes two months ago. They cried like babies all the way home. I’ll tell them you’re my nephew.”

“That would make Old Black Maggie my great aunt,” Gary said.

“Yes,” Old Black Maggie said, “that would.”

“I think I’ll call you Aunt Maggie from now on,” Gary said.

“That would be sweet,” Old Black Maggie said.

Gary picked up the photo of Old Black Maggie’s son. “You know something, If your son lived and had a boy he’d probably look like me so do you mind if I call you Grandma Maggie.”

“That would be even sweeter.”

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 39

th0UGU0U3PLast Breath

Beez staggered against the doorway. He looked wide-eyed and crazed. Next to the doorway stood Old Black Maggie, her hand gripping tightly a knife that she plunged and pulled from Beez’s chest.

“You are safe now,” Old Black Maggie said. “You have nothing to fear.”

A policeman walked slowly toward them. “We finally got him didn’t we?”

Beez gasp to breath.

“You pathetic piece of garbage,” Old Black Maggie said. “I’m glad you are dying at my hand and I want the last vision you behold is this.”

She grabbed the beret from Gary’s hand and ripped out the lining. She pulled a photo and held in front of Beez’s eyes. Beez breathed one last deep breath and his face lost all expression.

“Go to the car,” the policeman said, “the both of you. I’ll wipe the prints from the knife.”

Gary and Old Black Maggie stepped quickly and slid into the back seat of the police car. The policeman got in and they drove away.

“Where are we going?” Gary said. “Am I going to jail?”

“We’re going to Old Black Maggie’s,” the policeman said.

“What are you going to do to me?” Gary said.

“I told you, you are safe,” Old Black Maggie said.

“Just an unsolved homicide,” the policeman said.

“Are you Old Black Maggie’s nephew whose on the police force?” Gary said.

“Yes,” the policeman said. “My name is Merlin Pappas.”

“I’d like to know what you are going to do to me,” Gary said nervously.

“Well, we aren’t going to boil you in a pot of stew if that’s what you’re thinking,” Old Black Maggie said.

“Don’t scare the boy any more than he is,” Merlin said.

“We had planned all along on rescuing you from Beez,” Old Black Maggie said. “We just didn’t think it would end this way.”

“We were going to take you to Aunt Maggie’s and explain the danger you were in,” Merlin said. “Now we must convince you not to tell anyone what happened tonight.”

Merlin turned into the ally behind Old Black Maggie’s apartment. They got out of the car and went inside.

“Have a seat,” Old Black Maggie said. “Would you like some hot chocolate?”

Merlin gestured for Gary to sit at a small kitchen table. Old Black Maggie grabbed a bottle of milk from the refrigerator. “Hot chocolate for you?” Old Black Maggie said to Merlin.

“Yeah,” Merlin said. “But a shot of whisky might be best. You don’t cover up a murder everyday.”

“It was justifiable,” Old Black Maggie said. “You know what he was about the do to the boy.”

Nothing was said. The cat curled around Gary’s feet and wound through the legs of the chairs. As soon as the milk heated Old Black Maggie poured it into three cups and added a powdered cocoa mix.

She sat the cups of cocoa on the table. “This will relax you,” Old Black Maggie said.

“Still rather have some of the whiskey you keep hidden under the sink,” Merlin said.

“I don’t keep it there anymore,” Old Black Maggie said. “Besides you’re officially on duty.”

They all sipped lightly from the cups.

Old Black Maggie reached into her sweater pocket and pulled out the photograph she held to Beez’s face as he laid dying. She handed it to Gary.

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 38 

th3L1W493EThe Real Beez

“Someplace,” Beez smiled.

“I thought there were no secrets,” Gary said.

“You are clever,” Beez said. “It is an island called Utila. It’ is in the Caribbean just off the coast of Honduras. It‘s a place where people ask no questions.”

“Perfect,” Gary said.

“I know the authorities,” Beez said. “There will be no need for a passport.”

“You think of everything,” Gary said.

Beez held out the clothing draped over his arm. “These are yours. I want you to change.”

Gary slid the cloths from Beez’s arm and started to walk toward the bathroom.

“Change them here,” Beez said.

“I don’t like to undress in front of people,” Gary said.

“Remember,” Beez said and lifted his hand to Gary’s cheek and stroked it with the back of his hand, “We have no secrets.”

Gary swallowed hard. His brain cried out. He was in an inescapable position. At that moment he was more frightened than he ever felt with The Gravediggers or Old Black Maggie. The real fear all along should have been Beez.

“I don’t understand,” Gary said.

“You said there was no way to repay me,” Beez said. “There is a way. You will have a good place to stay. You will have all you want. You can swim every day in warm waters.

You will not have to work. You will have a life of tropical luxury. It is all yours and I ask so little in return.”

“Are you a…”

Beez interrupted. “I am your friend and let’s not be so closed minded. You were meant to be free and I’m helping you.”

Gary reached up and unbuttoned his top shirt button. Beez smiled. It was a lustful sick smile. Gary suddenly shoved Beez and ran for the door. He opened it and ran down the hallway. He hurried down the steps and near the bottom stumbled. He grimaced with pain and was slow to get up. He grabbed the doorknob. He turned the knob. The door opened; freedom! An arm reached around his waste and pulled hard. It was Beez. He was strong. He tugged at Gary, pulling him up two steps. Gary fought as if drowning.

Beez laughed. “You will not make it to Utila. You are not who I thought you were. You deceived me. No one deceives me and lives.”

Gary let out a cry from deep in his throat and broke free. He got past the door. Beez’s hand gripped his arm tight like the talons of an eagle. It was grip he knew he could not break.

Unexpectedly the grip tightened. Beez cried out, “Ahhhhh!!!” It echoed through the streets like a demonic cry.

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 37

th[2]Getting Ready for Paradise

Gary peddled home immediately and surreptitiously; he did not want to take any chances of being spotted by The Gravediggers.

That night at supper nothing was said of serious concern. When Gary completed his meal he asked to be excused. His parents looked approvingly at each other. He hesitated at the foot of the steps to listen.

“I think you got through to him,” Gary’s mother said.

“We still got a ways to go,” Gary’s father said.

Gary heaved up the steps two at a time. In his room he was nearly giddy with excitement. He could not slow his thoughts to concentrate on anything. All he knew is that in a matter of hours it would all be over; a new life awaited him. Excitement and anxiety overrode any possibility of fear.

He tried to read, but his mind danced. He turned on his radio and listened to meaningless gibberish. Nothing made sense. Every thought and word was scrambled and stored for contemplation later.

At eleven the only light in the house was small nightlight in the hallway just down from Gary’s room. He watched the clock’s hands move slowly to midnight. Certain his parents were asleep, he slipped out the window and made his way to the waiting ladder leaning against the roof. Within moments he was in the alley next to his home and heading toward Beez’s downtown apartment.

He avoided streets and moved only through the alleys. As he crossed streets he checked for traffic, especially the police. He caught sight of a police car slowly moving along the street. It slowed as it reached the alley where Gary was hunched low. He dashed behind a car and rolled beneath it to avoid possible detection by the police. He heard the police car slowly roll by, crunching the gravel beneath its tires. It stopped. Gary heard the door open and then the crunch of foot steps. Next the sound of a zipper and then the sound of urine splattering. The sound of the zipper again, foot steps back to the car, the car door shut, and the car slowly moved away.

Gary continued his journey through the alleys.

He finally made his way to the town square. The clock on the courthouse read 12:45.

Gary hurriedly completed the last thee blocks of alleys and found his way to the doorway that led to Beez’s upstairs apartment. He slowly climbed the steps. He tapped quietly on the door.

The door opened. Beez smiled. “You made it!”

Gary rushed inside.

“Are you tired?” Beez said.

“No,” Gary said. “I’m too excited.”

“We’ll be ready to go in just a while,” Beez said. “There are a few things I want to get out of the way.”

“Where are we going?” Gary said.

“I guess we no longer have secrets,” Beez said and handed Gary a small stack of photos. “Look at them.”

While Beez left the room Gary sat on the couch and shuffled slowly through them. They were pictures of a tropical island, white sandy beeches, palm trees, small houses with a flat roof.

Beez came back in the room with a set of new clothing hung over his arm; a pastel orange shirt and white pants. “What do you think?”

“Is this where we are going?” Gary said.

“Do you like it?” Beez said.

“Yes,” Gary said. “It really looks nice.”

“It’s one of my favorite places,” Beez said.

“Where is it?” Gary said.

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 36

thKTGQBEDFA Far Away Place

Gary rode his bike to the drugstore. He parked the bike in the rear and walked around to the front door. He constantly looked around. He looked for anyone who might be a Gravedigger or Old Black Maggie. “This is no way to live,” he thought. Fear pumped through his body with each corpuscle of blood. He slid inside the drugstore like a hunted criminal. He ordered a Coke and waited for Beez; it was near time for him to show up.

In five minutes Beez strolled in. One look at Gary and he knew something was wrong. Gary appeared tense and distracted by every movement beyond the walls of the drugstore.

“What’s wrong?” Beez said.

“I’ll tell you after you order,” Gary said so the girl behind the counter would not interrupt or overhear.

After Beez got his coke Gary said, “Let’s move to a booth.”

In the booth Gary told Beez about the encounter with The Gravediggers, the problems with his parents, and reviewed all the circumstances surrounding Old Black Maggie.

Beez listened with great interest. At times he appeared in distress and full of empathy for Gary’s predicament.

“What do I do, Beez?” Gary said with glassy eyes. “You’re the only one I can talk to, you’ve been my only friend through this whole thing.”

“I don’t know off hand what I can do,” Beez said. “You may be in the best position to answer that. How far are you willing to go? What are you willing to do?”

“Beez,” Gary said. “Take me some place away from here, anyplace. You know places all over the world. Just someplace I can go until this all goes away. No one has to know.

I just disappear. My parents will be okay. They don’t have to know. In fact, it is best that way.”

“I don’t know if I can do that,” Beez said. “You don’t have a passport, you are a minor, and…” Beez stroked his chin. “I suppose something could be arranged, but this is risky business. I could get in a lot of trouble.”

“Please, Beez,” Gary said. He reached across the table and laid his hand on top of Beez’s hand.

Beez placed his other hand on top of Gary’s. “You know I love you and you love me. We can do this.”

“Can you be at my place at one in the morning?” Beez said. “Bring nothing; not even your bike, walk.”

“Do you have something in mind?” Gary said.

“Yes,” Beez said.

“Can you tell me anything about it?” Gary said.

Beez smiled. “Yes, it will be warm and far from here. You will like everything about it. You’re not afraid of flying are you?”

“I’ve never flown,” Gary said.

“It’s safer than walking through the park,” Beez said. “Your worries are over, right now. Just don’t worry anymore. You will never have to worry ever again.”

“Thank you, Beez,” Gary said. “I will do whatever you ask of me to repay you.”

Beez smiled and patted Gary’s hand. “Now let’s part and we’ll meet at my place at one.”

 

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Old Black Maggie – Episode 35

thJ5LO51RGRetribution

Gary ran home. He raced upstairs to his room. He reached inside his closet and grabbed a baseball bat. He was unsure what he might do with it, but it was going to be with him. At first he envisioned finding the boy alone who stole his bike and threatening him with the bat.

He thought about enlisting in some way the help of Beez. At this point it was impossible for him to reach out to his dad. He could not muster enough friends to confront The Gravediggers. Besides everyone was afraid of them.

With his beret snuggly on his head and a tight grip on the bat he walked toward the neighborhood of The Gravediggers.

Little was on his mind except for retrieving his bike. Not even Old Black Maggie was in his thoughts. At times he thought about Beez and if the bike was retrieved how proud he would be of him. He thought of Beez’s smile and approval. It was important to Gary. Success was vital.

From a distance of a half a block Gary saw a corner house with a grassy bank. On the bank were six bikes. He moved slowly and watched for any movement from the house.

He discerned the house must belong to one parents of a member of The Gravediggers. The door was open. There was no screen door. The house was in need of painting.

The porch had rotted boards. Weeds were in equal amounts with the grass.

Gary moved slowly and closer to the yard. He heard the boys inside the house talking loud, swearing. and laughing.

Gary spotted his bike. He grabbed it and moved it slowly and quietly to the side walk. He slowly pushed the kickstand down with his foot. He carefully adjusted it for a quick mount. He gripped the bat tightly with both hands. The sweet taste of revenge was tightly held between his teeth. He beat the bikes like a mad man beating a hoard of attacking rats. Saliva spewed from his mouth. Within a seconds spokes were broken, tires flattened, rims bent; every bike in sight received the culmination of his wrath.

Gary stopped. He breathed heavy and looked up toward the house hoping one lone Gravedigger might challenge him. Suddenly the house was quiet. A face pulled back a torn and tattered curtain in the front window.

Gary stared at him defiantly and hastened to his bike. “Take that! Come out and get me you freaks! You’re cowards by yourself. Bak, bak, bak! Chickens! Here, chicky. Her chicky.” For some unknown reason he whirled the bat overhead and flung it toward the window. It crashed through the window. Gary stood on the peddle of his bike, pushed off with one leg and thrust all his weight downward with the other. He sped away without looking back.

It was more fearsome and exhilarating than the night at Old Black Maggie’s As the distance became great between him and The Gravedigger‘s house he became aware he was now marked. He would no longer be safe either from Old Black Maggie who might try to capture the stolen beret or The Gravediggers who would for certain seek vengeance.

More than ever he needed to get away. Beez was the only one that could possibly help. The law or parents would be out of the question since both of his deeds were illegal.

 

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