The Nefarious Dr. Spelov

Lindsey woke abruptly, sat up fast with a rigid back and tried peering through the darkness. She hugged her drawn up knees, straining to hear something besides the constant drip-drip of the water pipe in the far side of the dank basement. She felt a nearly weightless spider cross one set of knuckles, then the other. No Spidersfootsteps crunched the gravel outside, no stairs creaked, no anguished hinges betrayed a slowly opened door. Spelov, her captor, might be away.

Viscous mud had oozed from the wall-floor joints in her sleep period, slick on her bare skin. Day? Night? Pointless to wonder. She leaned forward to place her lands on a dry patch of concrete and heaved up, careful as she stood straight to not let her feet slip. She stooped to dredge up mud and proceeded to smear it liberally across her breasts, down her boney ribcage and past her narrow hips.

Raising her hands and bowing her head she chanted, “P-R-O-B-A-B-L-Y, PROBABLY.” The feeling of the mud transforming into golden armor gave her the confidence she would sorely need.

Spelov clapped his hands and laughed from only a few feet away, his grating voice reverberating. How had she not sensed him so near? She stood firm, not frozen from fright but because of will.

She heard him shuffle closer, feeling his breath as he growled, “Girl, I will break you yet!”

The lights came on brilliantly, blindingly. She blinked and saw him leering from the corner of her eye. In dismay, she realized the gleaming armor she’d created covered only her front. A cookie in one hand, he now reached to place his other hand on her unprotected rear.Oaty in hand

She instantly shifted to face him, splayed fingers extended stiffly to ward him off, chanting, “N-E-C-E-S-S-A-R-I-L-Y, NECESSARILY.”

Bells suddenly pealed at a deafening, head-pounding volume. She fell to her knees and looked through slitted eyes at her enemy. Spelov faded away, laughing manically until he vanished into sparkling cookie crumbs. She had won this round, yet remained his captive. Would the cacophony never end?


Lindsey grabbed the phone off her pillow and touched ‘snooze’. What a weird dream! Trying to recall it brought up memories of last year’s 7th grade effort.  C-O-O-K-I-E, COOKIE. WRONGwrong WRONGwrongWrong! Sirens and howling wolves! CookY! Why? Because we wanted to humiliate you! Injustice and chicanery! Judged using an archaic spelling book! A-R-C-H-A-I-C, C-H-I-C-A-N-E-R-Y. Not this year. She zipped her jeans decisively. Not this year.



Y’all Keep Them Eyes Peeled!

A year ago, Ma and I trolled the cloth store picked out yards and yards of cotton prints for shorts and skirts. Now she sits and stares at nothing, and getting her attention is iffy. Some days are better than others but the good ones are getting further apart. Now at the cloth store she sits at the pattern catalog counter while I look around.July 2013 Circle House Damage 018

I got a” set-up going that looked real smart on paper, but it hurts my ragged heart to have to leave my cabin home real early every Monday morning to get to work in town. I’m still in Kentucky, but have to go from the middle of it to a big town on the Ohio River. Then all through the week I live in a crusty old house with the floors propped up by sticks in the basement. When Ma moved in, I got the running water and furnace fixed. I’m 15 minutes from work, and eliminated all that wear and tear on me and the Subaru. I count the hours until I can get home again.

Anyhow, driving from the cabin to town is a despondent hour or two, depending on the weather. It’s an ordeal to get Ma ready to go so early besides gathering all my plunder. I don’t have time to make coffee and clean up the pot and all, so it’s tough to stay alert. Having a zombie to ride with does not help in the least.

So here I am winding through the narrow rural roads to get to the highway that goes to the Parkway right at Butterfly road 2sunrise. Though I knew it to be a worthless effort, I told Ma to keep her eyes peeled for deer. Then for some reason, I started talking with a high pitched deep South accent, seein’ as she was born and raised on the barrier islands off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.

“Y’all keep them eyes peeled for them there deer. Now if you were a tater, y’all would have eyes too, but if ya peeled them, they’d be long gone. So watch how ya peel them eyes, ya hear?”

She laughed! I mean actually listened to what I said, understood it and thought it was funny. I was so stunned, I almost missed my ramp to the parkway.

Me: “Looky there at them there RAIN clouds, you see that straight up gray in the sky over yonder?”

Ma: “Yes, that must the RAIN.”

Me: “That’s right, pourin’ down in great torrents. Ye doggies! Did y’all see that lightnin’?”

Ma: Ooo, I’m afraid of lightning.”

Me: “Aw, ain’t no cause for y’all to fear the lightning. Ain’t no way for one of them there bolts to get to the your scrawny little body. Ye kitties! Did ya see that one, haaaw!”

Ma! “That was a big one!”

Me: “They so danged purty, those glorious swords from heaven. They use those swords to chase out the stray animals Dog Puzzle 2that get up there; they don’t care for the dogs howling with the choir. You know if it’s stormin’ cats and dogs, y’all gotta keep them windows rolled up tight as we got enough dogs and cats already. Unless there’s a calico that is, ‘cause I could make you a fine summertime nightgown out a nice bit of calico.”

Ma conversed like a regular person, like she would have a year or two ago. She really participated and was interested. The magic had vanished by the time I came in from work. She sat on the screened-in porch in her rocking chair until very late, eating her supper out there. She didn’t recognize any questions unless I asked them three times, louder each time. She couldn’t remember my name.

It was grand while it lasted.


A Gift Must Be Given

Kenny hated birthdays. All a birthday did was let the city know you needed to renew your tags. Each one for the past several years, since Ginny died, emphasized to him that nobody cared about him, that nobody could be bothered to remember his birthday, that nobody probably even thought of his name anymore. He looked deep into the water, his toes gripping the wharf edge, then to the horizon. ‘No probably to it. Everybody loved Ginny. I ain’t worth shootin’.’ The flip-flops he’d thrown had floated pretty far out, bobbing in the swells.

Holland 357The water enticed him, a siren’s call. He relaxed his worn muscles. His innate will to live that had served him so well through war and disasters drifted away like the wispy smoke from a burnt out fire. With the tide going out, all he needed to do was fall.

A shadow intruded on the water. He frowned and turned to see a pair of hideously large purple sunglasses at eye level, topped by an equally hideous floppy straw sunhat with some sort of garland on it.

“Hi there! Do you think you could help me find an earring? They’re heirlooms and I shouldn’t have been wearing them so of course I did. They have real amethysts in them, for you see I adore violet and…oh, I’m so sorry, are you meditating? I’m disturbing your meditation. I tried that and it always put me right to sleep.”

He waited. The sunglasses didn’t budge. “I have not seen your earrings. Yes, I was meditating.” He turned back to the water, now tensed up all over again.

“I love a southern accent, the way you say you’re A’s and I’s is so sweet! Texas?”

He took a deep breath and blew it out hard as he turned back to the intruder. “Kentucky. I’m from the boonies of Kentucky.”

“I am so sorry, I can tell I’m annoying you.” Her brilliant smile disappeared. “I didn’t actually lose an earring. I was getting depressed and thought it better to drum up a conversation to get my mind off of it.” She turned away, head bowed.

Without thought, he called out, “To get you mind off of what?”

Her sunhat swayed in negation.

Vexed, he walked briskly past her and stopped in front of her. “To get your mind off of what?”

She removed her sunglasses and smeared tears away with her thumb. Looking up, her face expressed such eloquent sadness he nearly choked up.

“It is my birthday. It’s been so long since I had a real conversation with anyone, I tried to take a gift. You can’t take gifts, they must be freely given to be worth a thin dime.”Sack

“Is that credit or debit?”

A faint smile appeared. “Oh yes, and there’s ‘do you want that in twenties or smaller denominations?’.”

“I have direct deposit and do all my bills online. I get ‘sign for this’ a lot because I get my medicine by mail.” He thought for a moment. “My computer used to tell me I got mail, but it quit doing that a long time ago. I kind of miss it.”

“Heck, I miss the old ‘Paper or plastic?’; do you remember that one?”

He moved by her side and thrust out his rusty elbow. “It’s my birthday, too. Would you like to get a lemonade?”

“Only if you tell me your name. I’m Shirley Jean.”