How do you find these things TWITCH? How?
A 28-year-old Winder man called 911 on Feb. 17 and said he was invisible. Paramedics with Barrow County Emergency Services and a deputy with the Barrow County Sheriff's Office responded to a Chancey Circle residence following the 911 call. According to an incident report, when the deputy arrived at the location he was advised by first responders that the caller did not need medical assistance and this was the fourth or fifth time paramedics had been to the residence in the past couple weeks...
The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions)
Here Comes The Sun
Al Bruno III
It was on the morning of that insane day, the day of Dr. Flesh and the serendipity spirit, the day of monsters and masseuses that the most infamous member of the Lunt family awoke in his office with a hangover and blood under his nails...
Jack Diamond snored himself awake, stretched and then threw up in one of his wastebaskets. It wasn’t until he was finished that he realized he’d used the wicker one. He had a good chuckle about it as he rose unsteadily to his feet and made his way into the bathroom.
It was here at the top floor of the Mangiafuco building that he did the work of the Kuen-Yuin and the Greater Eastern Council of Mystagogues. He had a mansion on the outskirts of Attacotti Street but most nights he slept here, there was always so much to do.
He took a quick shower, put on his best seersucker suit and slicked his hair back with a fist full of pomade.
Ready to face the day he headed back to his office and threw the curtains open wide. The sky was pink with the approaching dawn. He lit a cigar and watched it for a time, suddenly whispering to himself “Here comes the sun.”
Jack Diamond frowned, wondering why he had said such a thing. Shaking his head he called for his secretary.
Edith was always right outside the door, always ready with his daily itinerary. She read off the list of people that had to be contacted, the spirits that needed to be summoned and crimes that had to be overseen. As he finished his cigar Jack mused that the poor girl was losing her looks. She was twenty-nine years old but looked almost twice that.
Not that she hadn’t been warned. The rewards of being his secretary were considerable but she had to keep the same hours he did, participate in the vilest of rituals and master the art of making a damn good cup of coffee.
“Just a damn minute here,” he said, “how did your nose get broken?”
“You did it last night,” she winced, “you took an eyedropper full of mescaline and thought I was a moose.”
The first few hours of the day sped by, partially because Jack loved his work and partialy because of the meth he had taken with his coffee.
Just as he had finished ordering the family of a young and overeager constable to be ground up and delivered to his home in a cardboard box, there was a knock at the door. Jack Diamond let his hand come to rest on the sawed off shotgun he kept bolted to the underside of his desk.
“Come in,” he said.
The man that stepped through the door was tall, Chinese and dressed in robes the color of smoke. His name was Wu-Han but he liked to call himself the Gray Mandarin. He and Jack had been doing business for years. “Good afternoon,” his voice was a lisping purr, “I hope you don't mind I took the liberty of coming to see you in person.”
“I'm always glad to see you,” Jack said, his hand momentarily and longingly tightening around the trigger of the sawed off shotgun.
“Do you know about your cousins?”
“Yeah they're all assholes.”
A pained expression crossed Wu-han's face, he held out a sheaf of official looking papers, “Seven of them have died today.”
“Something must be up,” Jack flipped through the pages, some faces and names were familiar, some were not.
“Now by way of payment I need you to call up a demon of if.”
“Why can't you do it?” Jack asked.
“I have my reasons and you forget your place.”
Sighing with resignation Jack started pulling the necessary components from his filing cabinets. Wu-Han was a Preceptor of the Third Circle of the Greater Eastern Council of Mystagogues, he could do something like this in his sleep. That meant this was one of his petty tests of loyalty.
Once he had the hundred year old candle, child's tooth and raven's feather laid out on the desk Jack asked, “What do you want me to put it in?”
Wu-Han tossed him a phial of red tinted glass, “How long will this take?”
“Just a few minutes,” Jack arranged the components in the proper order, “Wait outside with Edith would you?”
“Thats' Edith out there?” Wu-han boggled “What happened to her?”
“I thought she was a moose.”
Once he was alone jack opened one of his wrists with a flick of his overlong pinky nail and dripped blood along the spaces between the components. The layers of reality twisted, tore and spat out a mewling shape that was half-ghost half-flesh. Jack used a q-tip to jam it into the glass phial. He wasn't gentle.
He sealed the phial with a layer of wax and called out that he was finished but there was no reply. Jack frowned knowing that it meant Wu-Han was buggering Edith again. Jack ground his teeth and vowed that someday Wu-Han was going to have to do his own dirty work- and get his own damn secretary.
Returning to his desk Jack started flipping through the sheaf of papers, he noticed for the first time that all the deaths had occurred on the same street, Route d'abbaye, the longest street in the whole damn city. That was more than a little odd.
Lighting up his fifth cigar of the day Jack Diamond decided this was something he had to personally investigate, especially since there was a whorehouse down there he hadn’t visited in months. It was run by an old pimp named Mustard and catered to rubber fetishists in need of therapeutic massage.
“Yeah,” Jack Diamond smiled to himself, “Route d'abbaye here I come."
The initial story, "The Repairer of Reputations" takes us into 1920's Manhattan, introducing us to the play and the madness it causes. It begins with a delightful creepiness, and then descends into a madness that makes you question much of what you have already read. The main character is Hildred Castaigne, who believes himself to be the heir to the American imperial crown. There are other oddities as well, and knowing what is supposed to be the "real" future may just be the ravings of a madman. The second story, "The Mask" goes backward in time a bit, to the Paris of an indeterminate year. In it an artist has created a solution that will turn any living object into marble. Again, the narrator is driven mad by the play, "postshadowing" events in the first story. Third, "In the Court of the Dragon" is the shortest and perhaps eeriest of the four. It also takes place in Paris. Its temporal relationship to the first two is undetermined, though is obviously before "The Repairer of Reputations" as that story mentions the play being banned in Paris. Last is "The Yellow Sign" which is last in the timeline, as the narrator mentions having known Castaigne...
THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday November 8, 1994
The classical music station filtered through the room; there was a series of framed diplomas on the marble mantle. The desk in one corner was stacked with files and books, the stacks were neat and orderly. Tristam had always suspected they were alphabetized. Dr. Butterfield was balding, with a nose that seemed too pronounced for his small face and a neck that seemed too long for his body. He always reminded Tristam of a bird, a predator bird; the kind that would wait and wait for the right moment to pounce.
“Your mother tells me you had a conflict in school today.”
They were sitting less than a foot apart in a pair of comfy and expensive looking, high-backed chairs. Tristam tended to stare at his knees for most of the sixty minutes a week he spent there. “I got in a little fight, no big deal.”
“Just a little fight. I didn’t start it if that’s what you’re asking.”
“How did it start?”
“I talked to a girl I shouldn’t have and I got hit for it. No big deal.”
“Your former peers are still ostracizing you?”
“Well, what can you expect?”
“What about your new friends?”
“Them? They’re OK I guess. They’re someone to talk to but sometimes I have no idea what they’re talking about.”
“I think we all have friends like that.”
Tristam wasn’t sure if that was meant to be a joke, so he just shrugged.
“Tell me,” Dr. Butterfield leaned forward, “would you go back?”
“What do you mean?”
“If your old pier group welcomed you back, what would you do?”
“That won’t happen. You can only fall down at Blessed Heart.”
“I said ‘if’.”
“If I could have my old life back?” Tristam shifted uncomfortably, “I would yeah, I don’t think it would ever be the same though.”
“What about your new friends?”
“What about them?”
“Would you whole-heartedly abandon them?”
“Yes and no. I mean I wouldn’t hang out with them any more but I wouldn’t pick on them either.”
Dr. Butterfield paused before speaking again, “Were you and your former girlfriend Monique sexually active?”
“Considering that my ex-girlfriend is probably being ‘sexually active’ with someone else right now I don’t think it matters.”
“That bothers you doesn't it?”
“It makes you angry doesn’t it?”
“Yes.” These sessions made Tristam want to pull his hair out, it was like walking in a minefield. What was he supposed to say? What was he expected to say? What did it take to get certified as normal and shown the door?
“What did you do with your anger?”
“What you tell me to do.”
“Good. You have to learn not to let your anger build up, otherwise you might have another dissociative episode. You have to separate yourself from your anger but you have to own your anger. You have to view your anger from outside yourself.”
You must feel the force flowing through you. Tristam thought with a laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“Something I said must have amused you.” The classical music faded, the on air host began politely asking for donations.
“Well, this is going to sound weird, but I’ve been having dreams like that.”
“You know where I’m flying... outside of my body.” Tristam tried to sound casual, but not too casual.
Dr. Butterfield’s brow creased, “How long have you been having these dreams?”
“I don’t know, since October maybe?”
“Why have you never mentioned them before?”
“They’re just dreams.”
“Sometimes our subconscious tries to send us messages through our dreams.”
“And sometimes we just dream. Everyone dreams of flying. Don’t you?” Tristam tried to sound bored but not too bored.
“I don’t remember my dreams.”
“What? I thought that kind of stuff was mandatory in psychiatry school.”
Dr. Butterfield frowned, “No. I’m afraid not.”
“What do you think my dreams mean?”
“They could mean many things. I think the strongest theme is that you want to cast off the situations you find yourself in. You want to escape the pain you’re feeling.”
“Should I be worried?”
“Am I gonna go bonkers like Jeff Hayes?” Tristam made pretend guns with his hands and fired off a few rounds.
“You’re no Jeff Hayes, Tristam.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve read a great deal about the case and Jeff Hayes had a highly dysfunctional home life and was suffering from psychotic delusions. You are not psychotic and you have a family that loves you.”
Yeah right. Have you met my sister and, if you can find him, my Dad? Tristam crossed his arms over his chest, “You seem pretty sure that you can fix me.”
“I can’t do anything, you have to want to fix yourself. You have a choice that Jeff Hayes never had.” He checked his watch, “And I’m afraid that will be all for today. I’ll see you next week.”
As always Dr. Butterfield timed his sessions so he had the last word. Tristam stood and headed out into the lobby where his mother was waiting for him.
Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
The Creep On The Borderlands
Five days later I saw her.
She was in the self help section of Ivanhoe Books Incorporated, she had soft curves and long brunette hair. As I checked her out I thought to myself that I had never knowingly gotten to third base with a brunette. I approached her, “Hi there.”
She looked my way her gaze lingering over my name tag and my smock but completely missing my broad shoulders and doughy pecs, “I don't need any help. I'm just looking.”
“So am I,” I grinned.
“Uhm... I mean I couldn't help but notice how pretty you are.”
“You know, attractive,” I quickly grabbed a thesaurus off one of the shelves, “pleasing to the eye. Beautiful...”
The lovely brunette frowned, “Are you hitting on me?”
If there was one thing I had learned in my brief foray into the dating world it was that if a girl has to ask you if you're hitting on her you've utterly failed at hitting on her. I cleared my throat, “In a manner of speaking...”
“I came here to shop not to have some jerk try to get me into bed,” she shouted.
“Actually, I was just trying to get you to go to Denny's with me. I didn't even think going to bed was on the table,” I was bushing furiously now, everyone was looking at us, “not that there are beds on the tables at Denny's. How would you eat your Grand Slam Breakfast.... heh... you're going to complain to management about me aren't you?”
One complaint to management later and I was completely demoralized. Here it was, another Friday night without a date. Kevin and my other friends were always going to see movies or shoot pool but I didn’t feel like either. Thing was I didn’t want to be home either. I thought of calling Tallulah but talked myself out of it.
I spent the remainder of my shift moping around and feeling sorry for myself. I suppose what I did after work was inevitable in a way, I just got in my car and let my subconscious take me to the only place I felt I had left to go.
“I think Benny Hill is funny,” Will said.
“But he’s not.” Norm replied. “He’s got five maybe ten jokes that he stole from vaudeville and he repeats them over and over again- just in different formats.”
The argument went round and round as we waited for the new player to arrive. I was back at Norm’s, with its crowded upper floors and oddly empty lower level. Daniel was splayed out on the loveseat, Curtis, Buddy and Will were crowded on the couch. I sat in a folding chair- I had brought it with me.
Will was still hard at work defending the chubby man from Britain, “I don’t think that’s very fair. There’s nothing wrong with a little repetition, it makes people comfortable and sets them up for new jokes and stuff.”
“It’s laziness and a sign of a comedian with his best work behind him,” Norm said.
Curtis stroked his mustache, “You gotta admit those Hill’s Angels were pretty sexy. Total Junior High stroke fodder- especially that Sue Upton. Oh baby.”
Daniel’s face curled up in disgust, “You know the names of Benny Hill’s dancing girls? I didn’t think it was possible but I respect you even less now.”
“By the way Al,” Norm said, “I’m very glad to have you back.”
I set my dice and pencils down on the coffee table, “Thanks. I figured what the Hell you know?”
“Our new player should be here soon. You’ll like him he’s been gaming with me off and on for years now,” Norm handed me my character sheet, “I told you Eddie won’t be here for a while right?”
“Yeah, where is he?”
Will answered, “The Monkees came to town on their reunion tour so he decided to follow them cross country.”
My jaw dropped, “That is utterly insane”
Norm nodded, “I thought so too.”
“I mean Mike Nesmith isn’t even with the touring band.”
I heard the door open and the echo of footsteps coming up the stairs. Everyone got quiet for a moment then Norm grinned at the sight of the person at the top of the stairs, “You made it.”
The blood drained from my face, “YOU!”
And I said it just that way in all caps with italics. How could I not?
“Oh.” Norm said, “You two know each other.”
“We go back.” Orville’s smile was smugger than smug.
It was Orville. Yes, that Orville, the stealer of girlfriends, unprovoked grabber of asses and all around bastard.
“You game?” I said. “I would think you were too cool for that.”
“Oh I game,” he said. “But I don’t just game. See the difference?”
“This is gonna be good.” Darren chuckled.
“Shut up you,” I said back.
Norm cleared his throat, “Well now that introductions are behind us, let’s get started.”
The game picked up pretty much where we had left off, deep in the Caves of Chaos, deep in Kobold territory. “By the way,” Norm said, “since we didn’t know if you were coming back the other players looted your character’s belongings.”
I shrugged, “Well now that I’m here I’m sure I can get them back.”
Daniel laughed, “The only way your character gets his stuff back from my ninja is if he can survive the five challenges of death. Those challenges being his fingers wrapped into a fist.”
“Meaning of course that he could kill you with his bare hands.”
“I got that.”
“His. Bare. Hands.”
I groaned then asked, “What is your problem?”
Daniel snorted, “One more player means less treasure and glory for the rest of us.”
“But...” Will said, “…there’s strength in numbers.”
Buddy looked up from mixing a screwdriver from the different plastic bottles in his backpack, “You know what else there’s strength in? That mesh they have in the back of the police cars that keeps you from touching the officer.”