Door Number Four (Fridays Free-for-All) Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Don tugged at the brush and pressed his face in to the opening, completely oblivious to the pricks coming from the thick briars. When the first two numerals were visible, he sneered,
“This is it and there is no one here to stop me.” He steadied the flask against his numbed lower lip and sucked the last drop of Benadryl and bourbon from the stainless steel container. Hurriedly he shoved it back into his rear pocket and resumed his mission.
When he had burrowed out a space big enough to accommodate his shoulders Don Crowley scrambled through to the clearing to the other side.

The land bore no resemblance to his fond memory. He studied the bleached bovine skull that hung before the forgotten alley, the alley that would lead him to the entrance of his dreams.
The door was not near as beautiful as she had once been. The paint was all but gone and so was much of the wood. Termites had loved the timber as well, though not in the same way Don did. The brass appendages were tarnished and blackened, the frame was mildewed and rotting and she looked naked without her gable to shade her from the elements. But her lips were still a bright red.
The man ran his trembling fingers over the smooth rounded lines of cherry color and whispered,
“Hello door number four. I’ve thought about you for a long, long time.” He gently petted the mottled brass before curling his fingers into a fist then paused, “I don’t have to, but it seems only polite.” Holding the cold sticky metal against the tips of his fingers he savored the moment, inhaled deeply, wet his lips then, Clink… clink… clink.
The dull tapping brought tears of joy to his eyes, tears mingled with watery mucous because Don was allergic to mold as well as every other spore and pollen in the universe.

He stood on the cement landing, shaking his head in confusion. Was it the antihistamines and allergens causing him to imagine the voice or did Mr. Levin just invite him in?
Don stared down at the swaying concrete… the old porch had been a pier and beam foundation with a beautiful terrace above… could it be possible he had the wrong house? Looking back up he assured himself it was the right house, but so much had changed. He caressed the painted numerals to calm his fretfulness.
“It’s you… it has always been you.” he said placing his mouth against the deteriorating surface.
Bolstering his courage, he pulled back, stood as straight as he could and wiped the mustiness from his mouth.
Blood? He mused at the crimson wetness in his palm before wiping again. Paint? The iron taste confirmed his first guess and the dripping number revealed its origin. “What the hell?” he stammered bracing himself against the framework of the once glorious mansion.

“Wake up Donald.” The familiar voice commanded.
“I can’t see you.” Don moaned as he struggled to open his pus-filled eyes, “Where am I?”
“Exactly where you wanted to be.” Came the answer immediately followed by the sound of p’thu-p’thu “Now rub that in.”
“Did you just-” His words were cut short by an icy cloth slammed against his swollen face. It felt like a dozen hands on him, rubbing the warm spit into his eyes, pressing the cold rag to his lips and reaming his nostrils with ointment.
“Shut up!” the voice ordered pressing harder against his mouth, causing him to snort and choke as he inhaled the vapors of the salve.
Don briefly considered fighting the man that stood over him but there was no desire to. Despite the fact that the fellow had spit in his eye, forced a wet rag into his mouth and shoved something up his nose, he felt grateful. Frankly, he could not recall the last time he had felt so good, so calm and never in his life had he felt this strong and healthy. Don submitted and let the smell of tar and green mint carry him away.
When his breathing was slow and steady he felt the once chilled rag lift and the voice commanded him, “Pull yourself together and come on in to the kitchen when you can see straight.”
“Yes Sir Mr. Levin.” Don replied as he sat up and watched the man exit the dim parlor.
Slowly he scraped the thick balm from his face, picked the bits of crushed mint from his teeth and sniffed at the medicinal material.
“What’s in this?” he asked, studying the white cloth with nothing visible other than a few green specks caught in the cotton fibers. “You ought to sell it to one of the pharmaceutical companies.”
Mr. Levin never acknowledged the question or the suggestion but quietly shut the door without looking back.
Donald stood and stretched, marveling at the smoothness of his own skin and the indescribable vigor he felt.
Testing his newfound health he spread his legs, sprang upward and swung his arms over his head. He counted with each clap and two hundred jumping jacks later, his pulse and respirations were unchanged. Though dust covered everything in the area, he was unaffected.
He skipped around the massive room oblivious to any cares until the kettle whistling distracted him and he remembered Mr. Levin was waiting.
“This place is amazing,” he yelled toward the kitchen, “There must be a million dollars’ worth of antiques in this room alone.” Donald waited but the old man gave no response. If he had spoken, the younger man would not have heard as his focus darted to the nineteenth century Bosendorfer standing quietly in the corner. Don migrated to the antique piano and caressed the aged wood before letting his fingers come to rest on the ivory.
“Uh-uh!” The voice playfully warned before he had a chance to strike the key. It was her. Donald turned in every direction but there was no one to be seen. IIII flashed before his eyes and seemed to smile. The red lips over glossy white teeth, the IIII he remembered from his youth. But this smile was a cautious one like a mother gives her child; like the warning that precedes punishment.
“Yes ma’am.” He muttered as he shook the chill from his spine and hurried to the kitchen.

The room was just as he remembered it. Though he had spent only seconds inside before being chased out, the image had been stamped on his brain like a photograph.

“She called you didn’t she?” Mr. Levin asked without looking up.
Don understood the question but avoided answering and watched as the old man rubbed the rim of his cup. “I thought you were just a nosy little brat. Heck, you had snooped inside every house in the county; it weren’t like you were in love.” His voice trailed as he shifted in his seat; “Guess I should have saw it coming. Would you like a cup?”
“You haven’t aged a bit in fifteen years.” Donald answered staring at John Marcus Levin, “How is that possible?”
“I haven’t aged a bit in over fifty years boy, that’s part of it.” He answered dryly, still refusing to make eye contact.
Don watched the hot black tea flow as if in slow motion from the tarnished pot. He could count the drops as they splashed against the walls of the white china cup one at a time and without hurrying. He was totally mesmerized by the collapsing molecules of what was steam a millisecond ago; so much so that when the table shook he nearly fell out of his chair.
“Look! Look at yourself!” Mr. Levin growled banging his fist against the table and pointing toward the silver platter that held the tea set. “Do you like the way you look?”
“I have never looked better.” Don smiled stroking his flawless face and admiring the healthier version of himself. “No puffiness, no hives… I always wanted a smaller nose but yes, I like the way I look.”
“Good.” The old man replied in a softer tone, “Because that is the only face you’ll ever have.”
“Hell you make it sound like bad news when most people would give anything to stop the aging process. Do you know how many billions are made in the cosmetics industry every year? ”
“There’s no way to make you understand, not today anyway.” Mr. Levin sighed, “Not in my life time but in fifty years or so you’ll start to wonder and when the wondering fails to amuse you, you’ll grow weary and you’ll wish…”
Mr. Levin shook his head slowly, his loose flesh rippling with each turn until a bead of moisture broke loose from his cheek. Don studied the tear as it hovered then followed it to the table where it exploded on impact leaving a microscopic rainbow where it landed.
“I’ll wish what?” he asked, gently tilting the man’s face upward.
“You’ll wish you never loved her.”

Get the rest of the story from your favorite e-book store for only 99¢ USD

The Final Friday of April * Farewell NPM & Hello Mice

There are a few days left in April but this is my farewell to 2017’s National Poetry Month.

(Cue the mice in the attic!)animated-mice gif

Thank you to everyone who participated and to everyone who endured the participants.

If you have read, written or shared a poem this month congratulations – you have truly expanded your mind as well as your horizons. Now [for me and the mice] it is back to the surreal world. Speaking of mice (urrumm) this is one of my favorite scenes from August Wolf which happens to be zero dollars right now. Yep, $0.00 April 28th – April 30th.

Excerpt from Chapter 3

“What do you think he meant?” Dale asked, running his thumb over the mouth of a half-empty bottle. “What could they do to you that would be worse than killing you?”

“I can think of a few things.” Jason answered, as he slowly pushed away from the table. “Any number of things.” His eyes remained fixed on a dim corner of the kitchen while his hand quietly seized the shooter at his side.

“Like what?” His friend asked, following the bead of his gun.

“Oh, they could…” Jason slowly cocked the pellet rifle and braced it against his right shoulder. “They could lock me up and throw away the key.” He squeezed the trigger and the pellet landed with a dull ping, leaving a miniscule hole near the baseboard.

“But your record was wiped clean. The bogus charges are gone, the punk that caused the trouble is gone and heck Jason, I think the judge is a goner too.”

“That doesn’t matter. They have more punks and more judges – they always have more.”

Dale craned his neck in the direction of the shot. Between the barrel of Jason’s gun and the hole, lay a small brown mouse. The creature immediately rolled onto its side; its tiny chest rising and falling; its caviar eyes staring frantically at nothing while its front legs scratched hopelessly at the air. Jason propped his rifle against the chair, and walked toward the mouse.

“They could cripple me.” He said solemnly as he picked up the tiny crippled mammal. Jason stroked the mouse with the pad of his finger, studying the wound he had inflicted. “They could torment me.” He clasped his palms around the animal and pressed. “They could mess up my mind and lock me away in a nursing home… just like they did August Wolf.” Dale watched the color drain from Jason’s face, saw his eyes glaze over with tears as squeezed until the panting and twitching stopped. Jason snorted, cleared his throat and regained his composure. He gently laid the mouse inside the garbage can. “I can imagine a lot of things that are worse than being dead, old pal.”

Okay, that was just one mouse but you know there were more lurking in the shadows – or the attic. There’s always more…

You should hear S. Scott Berger narrate the story! He is very entertaining. Hey, you could get the book free [April 28th -30th] and read along as Scott tells the story.

So Here’s What I’m Gonna Do (A Poem & A Picture by Me & of Me)

I have received like 13 emails suggesting I should offer Getting Me Back FREE during National Poetry Month. I could do that – and do you know how many downloads it would get? Probably about… hmm… I would guess thirteen.

A dozen others said I should be posting my own poetry and a handful of gun-ho NaPoWriMo writers invited me to participate in churning out a poem every day.

My inbox looks like a suggestion box right now but you know what? I love that people are so involved and enthused.

So here’s what I’m gonna do.

For the next four days Getting Me Back (The Voices Within) will be FREE. During these four days I will also post a poem I have written and heck, we’ll do A Poem & A Picture by Me & of Me but forgive me guys I cannot handle the pressure of NaPoWriMo, not at this moment in time. I’ll just have to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Getting Me Back

(the poem)SMILING PHOTO OF ME.jpg

Tissue thin transparent bits and pieces

by the millions I gave to you…

To be received, to be tended or

to be rendered useless as you deemed fit

old inhabitants of terra firma.

Slivers of my soul….

What did you do with these pieces of me?

Where are the misplaced microscopic stars of

my spirit, where are they laid?

Did they dissolve beneath a soft autumn rain?

Or burn in the heat of a cruel summer day?

Were they consumed by the dust mites of fate?

Giving me away was easy….

Getting me back seems nearly impossible.

I saw a fleck of glitter this morning,

caught in an abandoned web of time.

I retrieved it ever so carefully, pulling away

the tiny choking strands; polishing it in the palm of my

hand till it shone bright like a

minuscule star… exploding… and

I recognized it as the twinkle I once saw

in a smiling photo of me.

A Small Token of My Appreciation

 

#1Unconsecrated Visions Savannah Dawn 2017 cover

Savannah Dawn (Unconsecrated Visions)

As a small token of my appreciation for you all the e-book is free this weekend at Amazon AND it looks like the audiobook is marked down to $1.99 right now. I have no say in the audiobook price but I will tell you Kelley Mack does a great job narrating this weird little short story.

P.S. If  you want to leave an honest review it won’t hurt my feelings.

P.S.S. Feel free to share the love.

Sonny Came Home

Nearly every day, in every direction  there is a field burning or rolls of hay spontaneously combusting around here. Texas is a tinderbox.

As I drove through the smoke this week (and snapped a few quick pics) a song popped into my head. Things that pop into my head are not always appropriate, but that’s how my wheels roll. Dang, I wish I had written those lyrics.

Last but not least, folks, please be careful with your embers and watch out for your neighbor. A huge thanks to the firemen of the world.

Oops, My bad (The Consolation Prize)

It has been brought to my attention that I did say I would offer a consolation prize for those not winning the giveaway of Behind the Rage in trade paperback by running a free kindle promo of said title. I realize [now] that the giveaway was over in May and I have had more than a month to list the free kindle version.    I won’t insult you by saying I thought I did or with excuses of how busy I’ve been or that I’ve had a debilitating sinus infection although I do have a doctor’s excuse and receipts for Kleenex to prove it. I won’t bore you with my short term memory problems or the possible onset of dementia…

I’ll just say Oops, my bad, I’m sorry and I’m gonna do it right now. It should be showing up on Amazon as $0.00 starting Tuesday July 10th – Saturday July 14th. If not then just go ahead and shoot me with your nerf gun.

And seriously I want to say, Thank you all for your support and patience.