(third in a series of ghost stories)
He always locks it when he leaves on business. I know it’s off limits. But I can’t help wondering what hides there. I searched the key many times, curious worm darkmawing my chest. But always empty handed.
I’m glad when he leaves town for business, a hurricane here, a revolt there. Massacres too. He assures me there’s always a demand for his skills and one day I’ll take over the family business.
When he comes home he’s so tired, his hands feel of stone. I glance up into his eyes, lost. Can’t seem to find him in shadows. His cheeks move higher on his face.
“This job is killing me,” he sighs. He brings home a dark air, some long wind foreboding and I shiver. He dusts my hair with a withered hand and I gasp. A sinking deep. A feeling to run. To scream, but my body too still. too still.
He opens a beer. Sits mute on the table. Unharmed. Tie flung aside and sunk into the recliner. His bones, a heap. Fingers dripping over arm rests. And I can’t see who I am looking at. I have forgotten.
I notice behind him the door to his room sliced open.
That dark wind swirls me. To the closet door standing – cracked. No heart in my chest. I see into space Dusk outlined souls and glint of sicklesteel and fire. Fear and trembling and teeth scattered round. My teeth falling. Then vast nothing
of no end
“I hoped you wouldn’t see this, yet”
I jump- skin out of pocket, arms tight held around me. The darkness horrible and bright. Faint smells of matches extinguished and scentless nothing.
“This is the family business?”
And his eyes stone sink back into a fleshless skull. my father, now the mask of Death.
“soon this will all be yours”
(Second in a series of ghost stories)
Her half-child back and half-full sack turns, (the sagging sun too tired of the day) and sees a gloaming shade at the field’s far edge. Trudges over to lay down under winded branches, a sleeping bed of white frogfruit. To forget she’s alone. To forget her fingers purple cracked.
An owl hoots at the secret mouse and she wakes in a pool of moon. Shivers. The field spreads a dark stain. A truck forgot, she and the half picked bag. Forgotten. Someone should come for her, of course they should. Of course they would.
Panic chews at her mouth. Closed night all around. Darkness in her eyes and shivers heat to scream.
Only blind woods hears. Hearing
a melodic strain, low and thin. Silver keys thread the dark. Is it a waltz? She turns shadow eyes to a glow. Follows the music through undergrowth. Scrape and claw. She stumbles and pitched to ground, looks up in the foil moon.
Filigree door swinging open and seated on the velvet – a crystal slipper. Diamond bright. Leather tuft interior glows pearl. Melody grows with her breath
so close in.
Steps into the coach, how lovely the shoe.
Wedges foot in. Wrought toes pained. But, her hands soft, now French manicured. Her lips pout, red and full. Money rustle of silk and wrapped fur. The smell of rich and clapping for the belle of the ball.
Click door shut.
Glass shoe cold. And colder. Colding and happy and pain. Coursing up and down and into her blood, turns her breath hard. Crystal prisms. Symphonic volt and tympani drums.
Two mornings from now they find her body – chill. Toes broken back. Officer suspects foul play. An old glass slipper inside an overlarge pumpkin rolls away. A belly full of blood.
(First in a series of three ghost stories)
He married her in candlelight. A silver ribbon round her neck. Their love in flame. And the house and the cars and kids and the silver ribbon never left her neck. Silked velvet ribbon. Crushed in places, held high on her neck with a clasp of bone. He knew because he studied that ribbon, over coffee, over date night, over her making love. He could tell its everly crease and how the light softened over edge.
Him asking her, take it off.
“You’ll be sorry.” She says. Sometimes hazeleye laughing, sometimes eyes in storm.
Times he demanded, angry. Blood shot through eyes.
“You’ll be sorry,” clear grey tears. Fall like hourglass seconds.
PTA meetings go by, and the days. Going by. And cereal bowls rotate through the sink. He watches her ribbon to plot and scheme against it. This ribbon, a steel rebellion against him. He must have it.
Take it off – the years of denial crush in his throat.
“You’ll be sorry.” Her eyes pearl.
And the clouds hang dead, pale shroud the bulging moon. The branches scrape, scrape against night fall. Across the bed her breath rhythms the universe and he reaches. Reaches across to pull the clasp and her eyelash quivers,
The ribbon limp in his fingers.
A long sigh
as her head
the night hush whisper y o u’ l l b e s o r r y
Her soft lips vanish into burgundy dark.
Oh you Monday. With your redrush urgent,
your orange streak, next-in-line, get-it-done-before-lunch.
I’m yellow drifting in a little late, weekend hung over
deskchair heaped, haven’t checked emails yet.
your high hot list, citadel efficiency
Staff mtg doesn’t start for another 5 min.
Ninety Freud paintings at the Modern FW devoured me. But I live to tell the tale.
And yes, I was very inappropriate at the museum.
“He’s such a virtuoso with the texture here,” I pointed out to a young man. It was kinda uncomfortable because we were discussing a penis juxtaposed with a rat’s tail. And I was using nice museumy language to soften the image of rat tail and penis laid together, side by side, central to the painting. The young man winced as a woman walked up to him. I laughed (inappropriate).
“You brought your mother to the Freud exhibit?” (Very inappropriate) They walked away.
I didn’t mind, we all skulked around, eviscerated, swallowed in a flesh sea. Stunned looks and furtive eye contact, what the hell is this? Too big heads, too little heads, too big hands, too big eyes. Contortions and legs, naked, bare. A flesh-eating exhibition pulling no punches. Clashing angles pushed hard against each other and bodies truncated, not fit in their painted rooms. As they did not fit into my head.
I approached the teenage docent, “So are you shell-shocked?”
“It was hard the first week,” he admitted. “They started to rotate us, so I’m ok now.”
My favorite – the last painting of the show. The unfinished one of Freud’s assistant David.
“Disturbing,” murmured a passing Dallasite.
Damn right and it should be. Why be subjected to these horrors of flesh? Because I extrovert beauty and introvert truth. It’s too bright, too hard, too loud, too flesh. I admire Freud for drawing me in with beautiful paint strokes, daring emotion and pushing me away with awful contortions and rooms that defy balance. It’s the pushpull between loveliness and grimy street truth. It’s unfinished business for me.
(overheard – Queen Elizabeth II on cell talking to her stylist of eleven years, Stewart Parvin about the acquisition of the Warhol prints)
Stewart, when you come up, bring a gin and that beastly pillbox.
Yes, yes. I’m fine. Just reading up on reviews of my Diamond Jubilee. It’s just the bees knees. Don’t you think it’s gone swimmingly so far? The paracute out of the plane at the Olympics was genius. And that Daniel Craig – brill.
Don’t forget the updated wardrobe spreadsheet. I need to approve next month’s ensembles. I do believe we forgot to log the Hermes scarf I wore yesterday. Bollocks – these readers!
I saw it on the tele, yes – I’m absolutely cheesed about Harry’s naked bum pictures and Kate’s as well. Brings down the Royal brand, of course. PR is casting about for a new image to release for the media to bandy about. Preferably one that’s clothed.
Oh the Warhol prints? Those were ages ago – 1977 as I recall. My he was a cheeky monkey.
I don’t know, Stewart. I think the colors are quite too garish. Do you think the public will like to see them at Windsor?
But I’ve run through my art allowance this year. I could approve a petty cash expenditure.
Oh, alright, they are modern, sigh. Send up the Royal gallerist.
Don’t forget the gin. And Stewart, I won’t wear the cornflower blue pumps until Lilly breaks them in again. They still pinch.
If you haven’t papercut your pinky on the slim corner of sanity, then maybe you aren’t pushing the life envelope hard enough. Or maybe you have solid mental health genes (also good). This painting reminds me of the daily tip-toe tripping of the mental health wire and our need to balance out these “wiggles.”
The background color – this minty pea soup green – is also the color of the walls of the mental hospital one of my best friends stayed in. Checked in to that facility to get the wiggles out. But it’s very routine in there, no wiggle room. Only pills, clocks and talks. If you have the dough. The bill alone could drive you nuts.
I have the distinct impression that these deep purple wiggles will not be worked out. Are the green walls giving structure to the wiggles, lending a stable hand? Or are the wiggles encroaching on the green walls in a slow-mo land grab? Is it a stalemate, a writhing truce with ground being lost and gained in equal measure. Or a protracted battle of attrition with sanity as the long shot?
Don’t miss the red dots which could be game changers. Stabilizers or trauma points? Although they may just be ticklish.
I just found out wriggle and wiggle aren’t interchangeable (though I did it anyway). Wiggle is a back and forth movement. Wriggle is a turning twisting movement a.k.a. to squirm.
So there is wriggle room in a wiggle room. But not the other way around. Drives me crazy.