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NaNoWriMo

So, I’ll be taking a break from writing flash pieces for the month of November to focus on this challenge of writing a novel in one month.  (I know, I’m doubting my sanity as well.)
Wish me luck!

Lord of the Night

So here it is, the last of my Halloween pieces paying tribute to the Universal Monsters.

If you have any interest in the other pieces:

The first was Frankenstein’s Monster, here.

Second, The Wolf-Man, here.

And up third, The Mummy, here.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

*     *     *     *     *

The Night belongs to monsters.

It is the folly of men that they forget this truth, allowing for sleep to come easily with dreams unguarded.

Windows unlatched.

Gu-gum…gu-gum…gu-gum…

He had heard her heartbeat drumming his invitation from the street below.  His lifeless lips parted at the thought of soft, warm flesh; his teeth, instantly aroused.  He knelt to grant his kiss, watching intently as her neck pulsed in time with the beating of her heart.

Gu-gum…gu-gum…gu-gum…

She stirred, ever so slightly as he tended her; heartbeat quickened with the hint of his touch.  He carefully wound his spirit through hers, softly exploring like a gentleman thief as he drank deeply from the source of her.

Gu-gum, gu-gum, gu-gum

He saw in her the beauty of life in the sunrise.  The glow of days yet to come burned a soft flame, all but extinguished by his shadow.

And still, he drank.  Her life raced to him, begging to be taken.

Gu-gumgu-gumgu-gum

He stopped, short of snuffing her flame completely, closing his eyes and his lips as he stood, shaking off that pull of life like an uncomfortable thought.  When once more his eyes were open, their steely gaze returned to her sleeping body.

He listened.

Gu-gum…gu-gum…gu-gum…

He slowly made his way back to the window, stopping to look back only once.

She was his now, as it should be.

As he wished it.

For the Night belongs to monsters.

And he was Lord of the Night.

Rise Again

Another of my shorts celebrating the Universal Monsters in honor of Halloween.

The first, if you’re interested, was Frankenstein’s Monster, here.

Second, The Wolf-Man, here

As always, I hope you enjoy.

 

*     *     *     *     *

 

The gods whisper, ever-present beneath the dunes; though their voices over the eons had become mere wind-strewn sand across the desert floor.

Its face cracks upon the utterance of the incantation, the body’s way of acknowledging Time as master of all things before awareness can even set in.  Wrappings cling too tightly over long dead skin, making simple gestures – the moving of a hand – tedious.

But the flesh will have its way.

And so the wrappings loosen, one end falling to the temple floor.

Sst.

With Time paid its due, awareness gives way to thought, allowing the thing that had forgotten having ever been a man, to remember.

And with memory comes desire.

Sst…sst.

She was his everything, now as then.  Leaving the land of mortal men had done nothing to dull the ache he felt at her absence.  The longing.  He would shadow Eternity if need be, align all of heaven with the dark arts of hell, if that’s what it took.

He began to feel emboldened in his steps.

Sst…sst…sst.

The scroll was nearly his.

Within reach of his withered hand.

Just a few more steps.

Sst…sst…sst…

Change

Another of my shorts celebrating the Universal Monsters in honor of Halloween.  The first, if you’re interested, was Frankenstein’s Monster, here.

Hope you enjoy.

*     *     *     *     *

 

The wind sounds a lonesome tune.

Wshhhhhhh.

Mourning at dusk, the Moon has no wish to incite the Change.  She can’t help that their cycles match.  No one asked her thoughts on the matter.  Does the Moon bring the Change or is that backward?

Everything is still.

Except the wind.

Wshhhhhhh.

Over the years he’s become accustomed to his joints popping; of blood boiling its passage through his veins as the beast’s coat arrives.

Of hearing nothing but heartbeats.

And the wind.

Wshhhhhhh.

But there’s no getting used to his mind’s behavior, as it crests the verge of no longer being his.

How it unfolds, slowly, filling with his heart’s blood until bursting, forcing the beast from the quiet, hidden cave in his mind.

Madness given form, dressed in nightmare.

Wshhhhhhh.

Finally, the Moon can wait no longer.  In her fullness their terms are met.  Would she weep for him, were she able?  Offer a balm for his weary soul?  He wondered sometimes.

But for naught.

For in the end, it is always the beast she chooses.

It is the beast she dances with as it howls.  As it hunts.

The wind serves as their tempo.

Wshhhhhhh.

Almost There

The large man walked up the staircase towards the open door.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

His coat itched along the back of his neck, right at the hairline.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

It had been such a long, hard day at work, he longed for the comfort of bed.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

His coat would need mending, he knew.  People in the village, always with their torches and pitchforks.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

Where was all the hay? that’s what he wondered.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

And after doing the math at $1.60 a torch, that was some action he wouldn’t mind getting in on.

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

So close he could nearly feel the cool pillow on his face.

“Dear,” his wife said, already cozied up under the blankets, “you forgot to put the cat out before coming up.”

Thump.  Thump.  Thump.

White Lies

I thought I’d make up for going over with last week’s flash by keeping things very short this week.

Hope you enjoy.

*     *     *     *     *

I’ve run with the bulls in Pamplona, Jenny thought to herself as she slowly swirled her spoon into the murky broth, I can surely pull this off.

Dorian fidgeted, waiting for Jenny to taste his latest attempt in the kitchen.

“It’s okay if you don’t like it,” he repeated, straightening Jenny’s napkin on the table a third time, “I can take it.  Just tell me the truth, Sis.  Honest criticism was what we said.”

“I know, D, relax.  What is this called again?” Jenny asked as a carrot – at least, she hoped it was a carrot – floated to the top momentarily.

“Curried sweet potato and pea soup.” Dorian announced proudly as he refilled Jenny’s water glass, “It’s Ugandan.”

“Sweet!” Not a carrot. “You know I love an adventure.” I’m going to die.

Jenny took another drink of water.

“You don’t want to try it, do you?” Dorian moped, “You keep stalling, drinking water.”

“Not at all!” I wonder if I faked a stroke or a cramp. “It’s just, I had some spearmint gum earlier and I don’t want it to interfere with tasting your soup.” Not sure I can sell a stroke.  “That’s all.”  And it would have to be just a ridiculous cramp in order to knock the table over…

“Jenny, just try it.”

Jenny spooned some of the soup up and slowly lifted it to her lips.

Let it taste better than his risotto, that’s all I ask.  I still can’t look at cauliflower the same.

With the spoon three inches from her mouth, she closed her eyes.

Please, please, please, please.

“Oh for cryin’ out loud, eat it!” Dorian yelled.

Jenny held her breath and stuck the spoonful of soup in her mouth.

Is it supposed to be crunchy?  She gagged a little but hid it well.

“So?” Dorian smiled, excited.

Jenny tried to swallow it down without further having to taste it.

“Mmmmm.” She attempted to playfully smile.

“Are you okay?” Dorian asked, concerned, “You look like you’re in pain.”

You can’t cook. “No, no.  Just shocked at how this tastes.”  I don’t know what you do at cooking school while the class is going on.  “I’d say Mom has invested well, paying for your cooking classes!” I’d like to take the money she’s spent, roll it up and smoke it, just to get this taste out of my mouth.

“Phew, what a relief!” Dorian said, going back into the kitchen, “I didn’t really stick to the recipe.”

“You don’t say.” I need to move away completely, a different country.  “You’ve got a gift.”  I want to burn your kitchen to the ground.

“Ya know, I think I really might have.” Dorian poked his head back in from the kitchen.  “Go ahead and eat up, there’s plenty more!”

Jenny looked around for a suitable place to dispose of the soup.

“Hey, where’s Rodger?” That dog will eat anything.

“Oh, he’s with Joanne ‘til next Tuesday. She says I’m making him fat with all the people food I’m giving him, so she’s taking charge of his meals.  Strictly dog food for the poor guy this week.”

“The lucky bastard.”

Dorian peeked his head back in.

“What?”

Did I say that out loud?

“Oh, uh, nothing.  Hey, I’ve got a bowl that needs topping off here!”  Jenny said, regretfully.

“You got it, Sis!” Dorian headed back, smiling.

Jenny quietly put her head down on the table and pounded it repeatedly.

Sour Mutters

My buddy Clint writes roleplaying games and Don’t Walk In Winter Wood is one of his latest ones.  It’s brilliant, as some of us discovered last night (though, we had a Wine and Winter Wood party, so we may not have fully discovered just how brilliant as, wine being what it is, we finished the wine before the game).  It’s not like a D&D type game, no.  It’s a story-telling game.  About spooky stuff.  If you’re anything like I was as a kid, you loved hearing ghost stories.  Well, in this game, we all sat around by candlelight and shared in telling a ghost story.  This is what came of it.  I cleaned it up and streamlined the scenario I wrote for the group a little, but this is the nuts and bolts of what happened. (Er, well, would have happened.  But, like I said.  Wine.)

It’s too long to be a flash piece, I know.  Apologies.  Hope you enjoy anyway.

*     *     *     *     *

Few ventured into Winter Wood.

Every villager, from childhood, knew the stories of those who crossed into that shadowy forest.  Legends grew in the telling, of demons and angry spirits, unseen observers and strange noises.

Of monsters.

Fear would not take Thatcher Drummond, however.  At thirty-five, nearly an old man in those days, Thatcher singlehandedly hunted Winter Wood for the good of the village, keeping their larder filled in preparation for New England’s harsh winters.

“I’m charmed!” he was fond of saying, “No evil thing, neither living nor dead, dares bar my path there.  Winter Wood holds no fear for me!”

Until the winter of 1738.

Two weeks before the snows were to arrive, rats had infested the larder, devouring the village’s source of life in the harsh cold.

Thatcher looked on it as a challenge.

“I’ll go this very morning, into the woods.  I’ll see to our survival.”

Gathering his equipment and accompanied by his faithful hound, Beauregard, Thatcher made off into Winter Wood, whistling a tune as he went and promising to return by day’s end.

Three days went by.  Thatcher had not returned.

Natalie, Thatcher’s sister, convinced herself that she would go into Winter Wood and look for her brother.  She called a meeting with the village elders to get their blessing and to see to it that someone looked after she and Thatcher’s place while she went to find her brother.

“I’ll come with you.” Benjamin, the blacksmith’s apprentice spoke up.  Natalie thanked him and turned to leave.

“As will I.” Josephine, wife of the town drunk said, standing up.

Confused but happy for the extra support, Natalie agreed and the trio left for Winter Wood.

The forest was cold as they entered, the bite of the cold on exposed flesh only heightened by the smell of dried, dead leaves on the forest floor.  The noise of their footsteps the only sound to be heard, the small group tightened their cloaks about them as they warily wandered down the only path they could make out.

Hours passed.

Natalie could feel someone watching her.  She turned her head quickly, trying to catch whatever was at the corner of her eye.  She saw nothing.

Josephine’s eyes darted back and forth, scanning the wilderness in front of her for sign of Thatcher.  He was always kind, Thatcher.  Not like some of the other villagers who mocked Josephine for being married to a drunk.  When Thatcher smiled at her, she felt warmth spread through her.  That warmth was the reason she kept the things that she and Thatcher did, in the dark, in the hidden, a secret.

Benjamin halted the group as they reached a creek, flailing his arms out to his side and stopping short, his eyes locked across the ice-filled brown water.

“The Lost Sisters.” He whispered.

There, at the water’s edge across from the trio, stood two young girls.  Only, not girls.  They were pale with moldy, peach pit eyes, set too far apart on their faces, and dirty rat teeth smiles that chittered.  Their too spindly arms twitched as they twisted their heads on too spindly necks like confused dogs, staring at the travelers.

Watch for the little one. She bites.

“Who was that!?” Natalie screamed as she looked at the madness across from her.

“Who was who?” Josephine turned, asking Natalie.

“I – I heard someone.  A whisper.”

Benjamin turned to Natalie only for a moment, but when he turned back, the Lost Sisters were gone.

“Sour Mutters.” He said, still looking across the creek, “Voices.  Whispers without bodies.  They mimic what they’ve heard here.  Try to ignore them.  No good can come from listening.”

They walked on as the path in front of them gradually disappeared.  Deciding to make camp, each ate their provisions quietly.  Natalie kept first watch, sitting by the fire and praying for her brother’s safe return from those wretched woods.

See you.

Natalie prodded the fire, trying desperately to listen to anything beyond the Sour Mutters.

Hiding, waiting.

Hungry.

Josephine dreamed.

In the dream she was back in the village, just outside Benjamin’s cabin.  She could hear someone speaking in an angry voice.

You know.  Everyone knows.  One mustn’t walk in Winter Wood.”

Josephine dared a peek into the window of Benjamin’s cabin in her dream, seeing a young, beautiful woman standing before a roaring flame in the fireplace.

“But I allowed him passage,” the woman continued, fuming, “to be the hero of his village, to feed you all, because he said he was mine.  That we belonged together.”  She pulled a burning log from the fire with her bare hand and turned toward Benjamin who, in Josephine’s dream, lay asleep in his bed, “He lied.”

As she watched the woman walk toward Benjamin, the flame on the log growing bigger, brighter, Josephine tried to wake up.  She didn’t want to see what was about to happen.  Couldn’t see it.  Wouldn’t see it.  She just wanted to wake up.  Benjamin screamed in her dream as the flames danced about his face, his hair.  The fire was a living thing, carving his flesh with burning, white-hot teeth.  The woman laughed.

Josephine retched as the smell of Benjamin hit her and then woke up to find Natalie trying to shake Benjamin awake.  He screamed the same scream she had just dreamt about.

Finally, Benjamin lay silent, lifeless – smoke from an unseen source poured out of his eyes, nose and mouth.  Natalie sat dumbstruck over his corpse.

It was then that Josephine saw Thatcher.  He was looking at her from just outside the firelight.  He looked lost. Confused.  He turned to stumble away into the night.

“Thatcher!” Josephine shouted, running into the woods after him.

“Josephine, wait!”  Natalie turned from Benjamin’s body as Josephine stepped out of sight, into the dark.

Josephine ran toward shadows that looked like Thatcher, only to turn and see him lumber off in a different direction by the light of the moon.  If she could just catch him.  Just get him home.  She heard Natalie shouting her name but dismissed her.  She would save Thatcher on her own.

Within minutes of leaving the fire’s light and with no moon to see by, Natalie had completely lost Josephine in the forest’s shadows.  She continued screaming after her in a vain hope that she could call Josephine back, but to no avail.

Natalie was alone in Winter Wood.

Josephine followed Thatcher by the full moon for what seemed like hours as he stayed just out of reach.  Finally, they came upon a rock face and in it, a cave.  Josephine could make out firelight as it danced within and she watched as Thatcher stumbled inside.

“We’ll get warm in the cave,” Josephine thought, “I’ve saved him!”

As she stepped into the cave, Josephine saw a woman, sitting with her back to Josephine, warming herself by the fire.  She didn’t know how she knew it, but she knew this was the woman from her dream.

“Come in, child,” the woman said, her voice cold now, ancient, “warm yourself.”

Josephine looked around the small cave.  The rock walls were covered in red.  Covered in meat.

“Yes,” the woman spoke again, “he said we belonged together.  He said he was mine.  But he lied.  He laid with another.  He laid,” the woman spun around, “with YOU!”

Josephine’s scream echoed into the night.

Bowwrow!

“Beauregard!” Natalie yelled, hearing her brother’s dog just through the trees, “You’re never far from Thatcher!  Thatcher!” She yelled into the moonless night, “Thatcher!”

Bowwrow!

Natalie ran toward the sound of Beauregard’s baying.

“Thatcher!  Beauregard!” she tripped, uncaring as she hurried through the trees.

Bowwrow!

Natalie came into a clearing suddenly.  She could hear water.  Suddenly she felt hands all over her, pulling her down as she screamed.  Chittering rat teeth sank into her face.

Watch for the little one.  She bites.

Seems like a lot of people are trying their hand at all dialogue pieces so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

****************************

“Hey, Alisia, you got a minute?”

“Yeah sure, Griff, what’s up?”

“I’ve got news.”

“What is it?”

“Broden wants you to do the nine o’clock.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

“No way.  Seriously?”

“Jesus, yes!”

“No, it’s just, I’ve never really thought about it actually happening before.  I mean, not really.  I

didn’t even – Mr. Broden knows my name?”

“Well, he said ‘the leggy blonde’.  I just assumed he meant you.”

“Hey, buddy, if you’re only messing with me because we broke up, I’m –”

“He said you, Alisia.”

“He honestly did ask for me?  Wow.”

“That’s all you’ve got to say?  I thought this was your dream.”

“Well, give me a second, alright?  I’ve gotta walk.  I can’t breathe, can you breathe?  I can’t

breathe.”

“You’re freaking out.  Calm down.”

“Screw you!  Telling me calm down – you calm down!  I am so not freaking out.”

“Clearly.”

“In the future, if anyone asks ‘Did Alisia freak out?’ you’ll tell them I remained perfectly calm.”

“Who’s gonna ask?”

“I don’t know!  I’m just thinking out loud, now shut up while I think.”

“Just sayin…”

“Shut up!”

“Shutting up.”

“And I hate that, ‘Just sayin’.  It’s too overused.  It’s an annoying, unfinished sentence.  I just

want to hit people who do that.”

“You’re kinda cute when you’re losing it.”

“I will kill you.  I will kill you with my car.”

“Alisia, I’m just trying to lighten the mood.”

“Run you right over, you condescending son of a –”

“Okay!  I take it back.”

“Wait a minute, the nine o’clock?  That’s when –”

“The Norwegian, yeah.”

“Stop interrupting me!”

“Alright, already.  Here, take this.”

“What’s this?”

“If you don’t know, Alisia, the nine o’clock is going to go very hard for you.”

“I know what it is, why are you giving it to me?”

“That’s what Broden wants you to use.  Why, how’d you think this would go down?”

“I dunno.  I thought – doesn’t Desiree usually use something, ya know, a little more

exotic?  Speaking of which, why isn’t Desiree doing this?”

“Hey, I usually just hit people, what do I know from Broden’s business?  He asked me to tell

you, so there.  You’re told.”

“Look, I don’t mean to be snippy.  It’s just, I’ve never done one before.  Support, sure.  Help

clean up after, I’m your gal.  But being front and

center, out there like that.  It’s wild.”

“Hey, at least you don’t have to do that head of a lamb thing.  That’s just wrong.”

“Smalahove.”

“What’d you call me?”

“No, that’s what the head of a lamb thing is named.”

“Yeah, okay, small whatever.  At least you’re not doing that.  That’s what we in my business call

a bright side.  Look, I gotta go.  You’ll do fine.

Have a little faith.”

“Huh, okay.  Hey Griffin?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.  You’re a better guy than you pretend to be.”

“Yeah, I’m a peach.  See ya.  And good luck.”

Inadvertent Watchdog

When my dog woke me up at three in the morning, I couldn’t have known why.  Who knows the mind of a dog?  I certainly didn’t.  She whined and whined from her kennel until I finally had to get out of bed and go check on her.  I got to the living room to find…nothing.

She had seemingly whined at the nothingness in an empty room.

So, of course, I started to paint every homicidal maniac from every horror flick I’ve ever seen into the dark.  Restless spirits, demonic visages and monsters from an era before Man were all tucked away, watching me from the shadows, lit as I was by the ambient light of a flashing radio clock, like I was an appetizer at a Things From Nightmare convention.

I quickly turned on the light in the living room, followed by the lights in the den and kitchen.  I wandered around the house turning on every light in every room (except the basement.  I figured that, like Mikey did when he left the plate of gold untouched in deference to One-Eyed Willie in The Goonies, if I respected the boundaries of Whatever might be down there, they might not come upstairs) until I was certain that it was just me and the dog in the house.

Just then she whined again from the living room.

I don’t know why, but I tiptoed back, slowly making my way and peeking around corners before rounding them like a careful member of a SWAT team.  What if whoever was making my dog whine had calculatingly followed the progress throughout my fruitless “turning on the lights” endeavor, staying just out of sight until I dropped my guard?  That’s how it worked in the movies.  Just as the audience relaxes, the onscreen victim gets fricasseed.

Finally, I made it back to the living room.  My dog was still whining.  There was nothing for it.  I had to bite the bullet and go in.

This time she didn’t look to me as I entered, instead merely kept whining at something outside her kennel.  That’s when I saw what had caused this a.m. uproar.  A piece of her treat, a strip of duck jerky that she gets at bedtime, had fallen outside of the kennel and, evidently, the little piglet had only just noticed it as it sat out of reach.

Grumbling, I picked up the treat and tossed it in to her.  She gobbled it up and then put her head down, looking up at me expectantly as if to say “Any way we could turn these lights out?  I’m sleepy.”

My feet landed heavily as I retraced my steps, turning the lights back off again and making my way back to bed, questioning just how much having a dog meant to me.

Just as I was about to go to sleep, grumpy thoughts filling me head, I heard it.

A whispered voice filtered through the vent, coming from the basement.

“I think they’re down again.  It’s quiet. Let’s do this.”

I reached for the cell on my nightstand and dialed 911, yelling at the operator so those in the basement could hear, “Yes, 911 police operator, there’s someone in my basement!”

I could hear the ruckus in the basement as whoever was down there hurriedly escaped out the basement door.

After the cops left, I went to my dog, a fistful of duck jerky treats in hand, and let her out of her kennel.

“Who’s the best dog in the whole wide world?” I asked as she inhaled my early morning Thank You.  She just took a deep breath like a sigh and laid her head in my lap, sleepily closing her eyes as I scratched behind her ears.

Mr. Pop Top

Sometimes the guy knew.  Sometimes, he didn’t.

I can’t say what the difference was, what changed about things from one night to the next, but it was our nightly ritual.  I’d come out the front door from the apartment complex, headed wherever, and there he’d be, invariably on the stoop, surrounded by empty cans.

“Hey, Mr. Pop Top,” that’s what I called him.  Hell else kinda name should I give him? “Where’s she at tonight?”

He’d squint up his eyes real good for a second and, on the nights he knew, say, “Playin’ checkers off 7th”or“Singin’ Bessie Smith ‘tover at Sugars.”  Nights he didn’t know, he squinted real hard and then just shrugged.

I don’t know if he’s crazy or what and I don’t know who She is.  Our routine is the only communication that I’ve ever gotten out of him.  He’s just kind of a character in my life, doing his thing while I do mine.  We’re cool with it.  I’m not one of those people who need to analyze everything.  Sometimes a mystery in your life is a good thing.  Not for solving, just to keep things interesting.  Lets me know that I and no one else have all the answers.

But tonight, something set him off in an entirely different direction.

“Yo, Mr. Pop Top, where’s she at tonight?”

He stood up in my path.

“I want to come.” He said matter of factly.

“I, uh, I don’t think that’s a good idea.  I’m going to a club.  Ya know?  Loud music, dancing, drinking.  It’s not – I’m just saying, I don’t think you’d like it.” I dug around in my coat, looking for any reason to break eye contact with him.  I found some gum.

“I want to come.” he repeated.

I slowly opened a stick of gum and popped it in my mouth.

“Look, hey, you do what you wanna do.  You dig clubs, too.  Okay, I get it.  Alright, I’ll – I’m just gonna walk this general direction,” I gestured with a head nod, “and you feel free to come along.  Or not.  Whatever you want.”

We started walking.

Two blocks down and he hadn’t turned around.  Mr. Pop Top was coming to a club with me.

“So…are you an R and B guy?” I asked, pushing my hands down deeper into my coat pockets, “Or, how about – any hip hop?” He didn’t answer. “Probably not.  I’m good with all kinds of music, really.  Play a little.   Keyboard.  Mostly Techno.”  I was running out of small talk.  “I was at a rave once a few years back – this was when raves where cool – anyhow, and this dude told me that my playing spoke to his colon in waves of neon Kool-Aid.  I’m not sure what that meant, but I took it as a compliment.”

Mr. Pop Top just walked along beside me, looking down at his feet.  We were six or seven blocks from the club.

“Hey, so, who is this She that you always talk about?”

No answer, just kept his eyes down.

“I only ask because –”

Suddenly there were two guys in front of us.  One had a gun.

“Money.  Now.” The gunman said.  His buddy took a step toward Mr. Pop Top.

“Hey, easy –” When I tried to get between them, the gunman brought his gun level to my head and slapped me with it. I fell to the ground, hard.

The second mugger grabbed Mr. Pop Top by his coat.

“Are you deaf, old man?  He said give us your money.” The gunman kept his gun on me.

I’m not sure what happened next.  I mean, I know what happened, I just don’t really understand how it happened.  The gunman’s gun kind of…dissolved into his hand.  His scream was piercing.  The smell was worse.  He ran back into the alley.  The other mugger, the one who had grabbed Mr. Pop Top, he just sort of…flew away.  Straight up, into the night.

Mr. Pop Top was looking up into the sky after him.  I sat there on the sidewalk for a few minutes.  This kinda thing, you don’t just – can’t just, witness and go on your merry way.  I had to wrap my head around it.  I know, I just got done telling you that sometimes a mystery in your life is a good thing, but I finally asked,

“Mr. Pop Top?” he looked down at me, “Where’s she at tonight?”

He looked back up into the night sky.

Smiling.