Family Problems part 2

The agency hadn’t burned down while I was out.  This day didn’t have a bright side at all.  At least if it had I would have the insurance money, or would I.  I don’t remember if I paid that bill this month.  Who do I have to kill to get some money?  I opened the door and made sure no one was there to bother me before I went inside.

The Marshal Agency specialized in getting things done, as long as you paid the bills.  Nothing was too big or too small, or for that matter too shameful that I wouldn’t do it for the right price.  Yes I would do even that, but you better be bringing me a mountain full of cash.

James wasn’t there with the money he said he was bringing by.  Damn, I could have gotten lunch.  Maybe he just dropped it behind the counter.  I look back there and find a whole lot of nothing.  It was only a hundred, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

The agency was a present from my mother.  It had been a small delicatessen that had gotten behind on its payments and my mother had foreclosed.  You figure out what the payments were for.  I don’t want to know.  I had left the lunch counter and the old fashioned register there for nostalgia and working space.  A large desk dominated the rest of the old floor space with plenty of mix and match chairs for clients.  I live in the back where the walk in cooler and storage used to be.  It’s not much, but I have one hell of a kitchen, complete with salamander.  See, I knew you would be impressed.

I plopped myself into my throne and checked the answering machine.  “This is your father. I was wondering if you have some time free if you can mow the lawn for me.  My back has been killing me lately.  Thanks.”  My thumb enjoyed pressing the delete key.  The door opened and it just sounded like money.  It was that click clack of high heels, expensive ones.  How do you know you ask?  It’s my job to know.  How else would I ever get things done?  I looked up to greet my next paycheck.

Fallen From Mercy chapter 9

Dan pulled up to Mina’s and got out of the Camaro.  Ruthie hesitated.  “I thought we had reservations for last night.”

Dan walked around the car and opened her door.  “We did.  I was able to call in a few favors and get another table tonight.”

Ruthie gave him a quick hug.  “You’re awesome.”

Dan winced.  “Actually I’m sore.  The ibuprofen hasn’t kicked in yet.”

While eating their meal, Dan sat back and smiled.  “You know what?  I think it’s time we have the talk.”

Ruthie blushed eight shades of red.  “Dad!  Here?  Now?”

“You’re old enough now that you need to know so you make good decisions.  Especially since you seem to be developing quite the,” Dan said leaning close across the table and lowering his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, “social life.”

Ruthie took a drink of water and looked for a means of escape, but nothing materialized out of the ether.

Dan leaned back.  “Trust me, I’ve been there.  I am reminded about my first one last night.”  Ruthie was looking grossed out, but Dan wasn’t letting up.  “Of course I hope you’ll let me help you pick your first one.”  Ruthie now looked panicked, but Dan went for the kill.  “I do have more experience at the whole thing than you do after all.”

Ruthie was now completely mortified.  “Does mom know about this?”

Dan shook his head.  “No, but she told me a while ago it would be up to me to hold your hand through this experience.”

Ruthie closed her eyes and breathed deeply ten breathes.  “Dad, I hate to break this to you, but I already know about sex.”

Now it was Dan’s turn to look surprised.  “Sex, who is talking about sex?”

“Then what are you talking about? asked Ruthie.

“Buying your first car,” said Dan as his ‘I got you’ grin spread across his face, blinding her with the radiance of its smugness.  “Actually getting a job and saving and then buying a car, but the general point is you and a car together.”

Ruthie went over the range of emotions.  She started at relieved, moved to pissed, on to a temporary stop at happy before deciding pissed was the way to go.  “Working then buying? “

“Builds character and a bank account which protects your mother’s and mine.” answered Dan.  “That’s how I did it.  It didn’t kill me.”

Ruthie didn’t want to build character.  “Are you sure you just don’t want me driving so I have to rely on you and mom to go on dates?”

Dan took another bite of food.  “I never said there weren’t fringe benefits that appealed to your mother and I.”

“Maybe I should show more moves to John Chamberlain.  He has a car.” Ruthie countered.

“You already have your John Chamberlain move,” said Dan.  “My back is living proof of that.  Don’t worry.  Maybe he’ll visit you when you’re working.”

Ruthie put out her pouty lip.  “Dad, you suck.”

“Happy birthday sweetie.  I love you too.”

100 Word Story #3 Allergic to Zombies

Another dismembered head rolled by as Conner sneezed.  Being allergic to zombies was great for knowing when they were near, but fighting them, not so much.  “Why not grass,” he thought using his chainsaw to mutilate another animated corpse.  His itchy eyes watered so bad a dagger wielding zombie almost struck home.  A bit more chainsaw work and it was no more.  And the headache was almost too much.  One of those almost migraines that felt like his brain was going to split in two.  Which is why when the axe wielding zombie cleaved his skull, Collin almost felt relief.

Family Problems part 1

Despair had its claws into my heart, bleeding me dry of hope.  Does that seem a bit melodramatic?  Maybe so, but when you’ve been kicked in the teeth by life so many times that you’ve lost your lower jaw. then you’re allowed to be a bit melodramatic.  At least this time it was just a punch in the gut by my cousin.

“Larry, you disappoint me.  Why don’t you have my money?”  Cousin Antonio punctuated his sentence with another punch that would have sent me to my knees, if it wasn’t for his two associates who were kind enough to help me remain standing by pinning my arms.  “You’re family, but I can’t let you just walk over me.  I want my five Gees.”

We may be family but I doubt anyone would be able to tell without coming to one of our Family get togethers.  Or was that family get togethers.  I always get the two confused, but of course both he and I were both.  I was six foot four and wiry, brown hair grown a bit wild and shocked to attention every morning.  I was my dad if you put him on one of those racks and pulled real hard, which might explain the hair.  Well except the piercing blue eyes that mom gave me.  Now Antonio, he had the short dark hair, was as wide as he was tall, and had a chip on his shoulder that allowed him to tower over me right then and there.

I spit out a bit of blood from where I had bitten my lip.  “You caught me at a bad time.”  Of course anytime was a bad time since I didn’t have the money.  “Just give me a couple more days.”

Cousin Antonio lifted his chin and his associates released their hold.  Unfortunately for me, gravity didn’t see Cousin Antonio’s cue to let me go and I fell to my knees.  Damn that hurt.  “Only because I love you Larry.  Get it to me by Thursday.  Otherwise I might not be in such a generous mood.”

Generous, yeah, that’s what I was thinking.  “Thanks a lot cuz.  I mean it.”

Cousin Antonio flipped me the bird.  “Tell my favorite aunt I said hi.  Come on boys.  Let’s go see a man about a horse.”

“I hope everything comes out okay.”  That earns me another bird, but it’s worth it.  If you can’t get a rise out of family then why bother living.

I collect what I can of my dignity and head back out of the fine alleyway that Antonio had deemed needing to redecorate with my bodily fluids.  I checked my watch to see that all thoughts of getting lunch had gone to hell.  Oh well, Sheryl was telling me I needed to lose some weight.  I mean come on, you can still see me when I turn sideways.  That can’t be healthy.

Fallen From Mercy Chapter 8

The next morning found Dan not looking much better, though the swelling on his hand had gone down considerably from the night before.  He could at least move all his fingers and nothing seemed to be broken.  It didn’t even hurt to brush his teeth, much.

“Hurry up in there.  I want to shower before we go,” said Ruthie through the closed bathroom door.

“Just a minute.”  Dan looked at his razor and then thought better of it.  “Besides, we’re going to go spar.  Why shower before you go?”

“Just because you don’t mind smelling like dirty hobo feet in public doesn’t mean I need to,” said Ruthie.  “Besides, without it I won’t feel woke up.”

Dan opened the door and stared at his daughter.  “Won’t feel woke up?” he asked.  “We can’t have that.”  Dan slid out the door past Ruthie, allowing her to slip in.  “Especially if that cutie, Roy, is going to be there.”

“Dad!”  With that the door slammed and the shower was turned up on high to prevent anymore discussion on that topic.  Dan smiled.  Roy was a good kid, especially since he knew Dan would break both of his arms if he tried anything.  Being a third level black belt did have its advantages.

After Ruthie’s ritualistic shower was complete, they both wolfed down a light breakfast before piling back into the car for the short drive to the dojang.  Dan had gotten Ruthie interested in taekwondo when she was ten and she was progressing quickly, reaching brown belt just last month.  Of course that progress had slowed down lately since teenage life had many more commitments.  Now she practiced with Dan only on the weekends, but Dan knew she worked through her forms during the week since he saw progress during their short time together.

The dojang that Dan and Ruthie belonged to was aptly and simplistically named The Taekwondo Club.  Its founder, Saseong Nam-Seon Park, believed in keeping things simple and straight forward.  His teaching style had been the same.  Saseong Park had recently handed the teaching duties at the dojang to his son, Jungsoon Park.  Dan and Jungsoon went way back, so it was weird for Dan to call him Saseong, or grand master.

Jungsoon greeted Dan and Ruthie at the door.  Dan and Ruthie bowed to show their respect which Jungsoon returned.  Jungsoon was definitely of Korean descent, but he usually held his body like an American country boy, right down to the thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans.  When he took those thumbs out and settled into a combat stance all the American in him flowed away leaving a pure Korean grand master in its place.

“Good morning cowboy.  Looks like the bull beat you up mighty fierce,” Jungsoon said with a smile.  “Or is that a new face first technique you’re developing?”

Dan smiled and made sure to squeeze Jungsoon’s hand a bit harder than normal during their handshake.  “You should have seen the twelve other guys.”

“Yeah,” chimed in Ruthie giving Jungsoon a quick hug.  “The one who got him was like what, ninety.”

Jungsoon smiled and lead the way into the dojang.  “I hoped you would be here early.  I wanted to get warmed up before I taught and I wasn’t in the mood to be running through the forms on my own.”  Jungsoon stuck a thumb at Dan.  “Besides, I know he needs a bit of tuning up if he’s going to test for the next level soon.”

“Your old man won’t let me test yet,” said Dan.  “It’s only been about six months.  It’s against his religion to…”

Saseong Park the senior came around the corner.  Even at seventy he moved like he feared no one even if he looked more like the ideal honorable grandfather giving advice from on mountain top.  A group of robbers thought they could hit the off track betting office that Saseong Park went to, his one vice though he claimed to never lose any money.  Unfortunately for them he was there to pick up his winnings and by the time the police had shown up Saseong Park had disarmed them all and tied them up without a single person getting hurt, except for the thugs of course.  Dan loved that and never let the others at the precinct forget that case.

“It’s against my religion to do many things Dan-child, but sometimes it is more fun to poke the gods and see if they get mad.  Is that not so?” asked Saesong Park.

Dan bowed as low as he could.  “Yes Saseong Park, though I believe the gods are less caring about the stick than grandfather bear could be.”

Ruthie waved at Seasong Park.  “I’m going to change while dad tries to fit in his other foot.”  With that she was off to the woman’s locker room.

Saseong Park smiled and barked a short laugh.  “You are in trouble Dan-child.  You’re daughter is wiser and smarter than you.”

Dan stood up and nodded.  “Smarter, yes, but I’m not sure about the wiser part, at least not lately.”

Saseong Park replied, “This coming form a man who just poked a stick at the bear hoping to get honey.”  Saseong Park pointed at where Ruthie had gone.  “At that age wisdom is a flickering candle.  As she gets older the flame will get stronger and steadier.  Yours on the other hand might get blown out any minute now by that angry bear.”

“I am truly sorry Seasong.  It won’t happen again,” Dan said.

Saseong addressed his son.  “Work this child hard enough he doesn’t have enough energy to pick up the stick, much less poke me with it.”

Jungsoon smiled.  “Consider it done.”  He slapped Dan on the back.  “You heard the bear.  Go change and I’ll meet you on the floor.”

By the time Dan got out to the floor Ruthie and Jungsoon were already warming up by stretching.  Dan joined them and as soon as Jungsoon felt they were ready he began to lead them through the first form.  The flowing of it from one position to another, the precise control of one’s body, the forms seemed, at times, to have an almost dance like quality to them.  He could lose himself in the movement if he wasn’t careful.  He wondered if ballet dancers felt the same way.  Of course probably most ballet dancers couldn’t break through ten boards, but he couldn’t pirouette so they were even.

The first form complete they moved through second and into the third.  The balance of control and grace mixed with power and explosiveness, which usually Dan was a master of, seemed to elude him today.  Numerous times he could catch Jungsoon glancing at him trying to figure out what’s wrong.  For some reason this annoyed Dan throwing him even farther off.  Then he was getting annoyed at getting annoyed.  The cycle kept feeding itself until the third form was done and Jungsoon stopped.

“Is there something bothering you Dan?” Jungsoon asked as he wiped away the sweat from his forhead.

“I’m fine,” Dan grunted.  He was trying hard to keep his anger in check.  Jungsoon picked up on this and held his tongue, but Ruthie didn’t.

“That’s the worst I’ve ever seen you do that,” Ruthie chimed in.  “You looked like total crap.”

“And are you the Saseong?” Dan asked, his voice going hard.  “Last time I checked you’re just a kid who thinks they know their head from their ass and get it wrong fifty percent of the time.”

The look on Ruthie’s face gave Dan the double take he needed to break the anger cycle.  “I’m sorry Ruthie.  I don’t understand what got into me.  I couldn’t seem to stop getting more and more pissed.”

“But what did I do?” Ruthie asked.

“Absolutely nothing.  It was all me.”  Turning to Jungsoon he bowed deeply.  “Forgive me to Jungsoon.  I can’t seem to find my center.”

“Maybe you’re the one who needs to find out which is your head and your ass.”  Jungsoon broke out in a big grin.  “Then maybe you could land more on your ass and not on your head.”

Dan smiled and nodded.  “You have a point.  So do we have time for one more form?”

Jungsoon shook his head.  “Nope, I need to get to class.”

“What about you, Ruthie?” asked Dan.

“And have you take my head off?” Ruthie asked back with full female teenager swagger turned up to eleven.  “No way.  I’m not going there.”

“Then how about a bit of sparing.  This way you can try to knock my block off for being a dumb dad.”  Dan gave her his best car salesman grin.

Ruthie ignored it.  “I don’t think you’re a dumb dad.”

That stunned Dan a bit.  They weren’t going to give him the gold medal of parenting, especially after the last twenty four hours,

Ruthie finished, “I think you’re a dumb ass.”

Dan smiled.   That’s what he had been expecting.  Ruthie returned the smile.  “Okay, I deserve that,” Dan said, “but you didn’t answer my question.”

“I’ll take a chance to kick your ass any day of the week,” Ruthie said.

“Young lady, watch that language.” Dan said as he pulled on his head protection.  “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

Ruthie didn’t justify that question with a reply.  She pulled on her head protection, slipped in her mouth piece, and waved at Dan to come and get her.

Dan popped in his mouth piece.  “Nope, reap your vengeance young lady.”

No sooner than Dan had said those words then Ruthie was upon him, kicks and punches mixed together, keeping Dan on his toes.  He matched every attack she made with a defense, but it was getting harder.  She really was a natural and would be testing for her next belt soon.

Suddenly instead of striking with her punch she looped her arm around his and tried to throw him over her shoulder.  The move surprised him so much it almost succeeded.  He just managed to get out with a short hop, and then he took out her legs with a quick leg sweep.

Dan reached out to help Ruthie back up.  “Where did you learn that?”

Ruthie waved off Dan’s hand and flipped up from her back to her feet in one smooth motion.  “John Chamberlin.  He takes jujitsu. We were talking one day about stuff, and after a while we were showing each other some moves.”

“I hope that was all you two were showing,” said Dan crossing his arms in his solemn fatherly duty.

Ruthie blushed.  “Dad!  It’s not like we were doing it naked.”

“Trust me, he wanted to.  I know boys,” Dan said emphatically.

“Is that what happened to you and Mom?” asked Ruthie.

Dan knew he just walked into that one.  Here was a minefield he never got to walk out of.  One of these days he was going to misstep and kaboom, there would go the legs of his relationship with his daughter, and that was if he was lucky.  He feared worse.  “No.  Your mom and I had something special.  It just didn’t work out the way we had planned.”

Ruthie had a skeptical look on her face, waiting for something more.  Dan decided to sidestep the issue.  “So I think I know what move John was trying to show you.”  Ruthie was beginning to look less pleased.  “No, I mean the jujitsu move.”

“What do you know about jujitsu?” Ruthie asked.

“I learned a bunch of it while in the military,” Dan said.  “Terry Templeton and I would play around with creating a new style by combining the two disciplines.”

“And Terry was a?” Ruthie fished.

“Guy.  Don’t worry. Anyhow, neither one of us were far enough along in our particular art to really do anymore than goof around.”

“That’s what John and I were doing.” Ruthie restated.

Dan sighed.  “Let’s not go back there.  When you spun to begin your throw you straitened too quickly.  You never pulled me completely off my feet and onto your back.  You need to get me off balanced completely before you twist and try to send me to the floor.  Otherwise I hop out like I did and you’re in a bad position to counter.  Try it again.”

Ruthie threw her punch again and looped his block.  This time she used her momentum to lift Dan off his feet slightly before twisting and sending him to the ground.

Dan smiled from the mat.  “That was much better.  See what I mean?”

“Yeah, though I’m still bummed I didn’t flip you the first time,” Ruthie said.

Dan got up and shook his arms.  Time to go from zero to hero in dad points.  “I can show you a throw that you can surprise John with next time you two spar.”

Ruthie’s eyes lit up and she did a little clap with her hands.  “Really?”

“Just this once,” Dan said.  “You have to be careful though.  You don’t want to mix styles while you’re still training.  They might mingle too much and when you’re under the strain of testing or competition you might resort to things you shouldn’t.  Understood?”

Ruthie nodded vigorously.  “Yeah.  Now show me.”

“Okay.  First the scenario.”  Dan moved behind Ruthie and placed an arm around her throat in a mock choke hold.  “Your opponent thinks he has the upper hand on you.  Use their superiority against them.  What you want to do is grab my arm with your hands and pull away my hold slightly to give you a bit of breathing room.”

Ruthie did as Dan instructed.  Dan continued.  “Now the next few steps you do quickly.  First you drop to your right knee and place your right foot on the outside of your attacker’s right foot.  Go ahead.”

Ruthie dropped to her right knee, but lost her hold on Dan’s arm, which caused her to choke herself instead of getting ready to throw Dan.  Dan let her down to the floor and then helped her back up.  “It’s hard not seeing what you want,” Ruthie said.

“Perhaps the young lady would like to see a demonstration.”  Dan turned to see Saseong Park watching their sparring intently.

“Saseong, I appreciate the offer,” Dan began, “but what I was showing her.”

Saseong Park interrupted him.  “Is appropriate for a young woman to learn no matter what style she chooses to fight with.”  He could see that Dan was still trying to politely decline.  “I too have learned more than what you think.  Please grab me from behind.”

Dan moved into position, but his hold was loose around the teacher’s neck.  “Hold me tight or I will make you regret it.”  Dan responded by tightening the hold to a proper choke.  Immediately Saseong Park dug in his hands into Dan’s arm, pulling him down.  He then dropped to his right knee, making sure his foot was outside Dan’s right foot.  While keeping his right hand pulling on Dan’s choke hold his left hand darted to the front of Dan’s shin.  With a quick tuck, Saseong Park took his head towards his left knee a the same time he pushed with his left hand forcing Dan to roll over his back and onto the floor, breaking the choke hold in the process.

Dan looked at Saseong as he lied on the floor with a goofy hurt smile on his face.  “I thought you said I would regret it,” Dan said.

“Maybe I should have said you would regret it more.”  The Saseong’s face showed he had enjoyed teaching them both a lesson.  “Now young lady, you should practice this until it feels natural.  Your father will volunteer to assist you.  I’m sure he won’t want to stop until you have mastered this particular technique.”

Ruthie smiled an evil grin.  “I think it will take a while.”

Saseong Park smiled the same way back.  “That is what I assumed.”

Dan dragged himself back to his feet.  “Don’t I get a say in this?”

“You were the one who started this lesson Dan-child,” Saseong Park said.  “You must learn the role of a teacher is along the path of sacrifice.”  With that Saseong Park left leaving Dan to his torture.

“You’ve got to love father daughter bonding time,” Ruthie said.

Dan shook his body loose and walked behind her.  “I just wish it didn’t include father floor bonding time.”

After an hour of repeated falls Ruthie finally admitted she had the throw down pat.  Dan thought she had mastered it a half an hour earlier, but had been overruled.  What Dan thought had ended his torture was the fact that Roy had shown up and Ruthie wanted to go into a practice group with him.

Dan stood and watched her without letting her catch him.  These are the moments where he could see how grown up she was, and how soon he would be the secondary man in her life.  It made him both proud and sad to see it happen, but he accepted it with what little grace he could summon from his jaded soul.

Sariah’s Story Chapter 14

Kegan walked with Asopt out of the shop.  “I’m not happy not knowing why Lyda went after us,” said Kegan.

“Agreed,” Asopt said.  “Want me to see what I can find?”

“Yeah, but let’s keep this between the two of us.  I think Sariah is worried it would distract her.  If we can handle it without her, we will,” Kegan said.

“Is that smart?” asked Asopt.

“Probably not,” Kegan said.  “Kicking a wasp nest is never smart, but I would rather do that then have the nest surprise me.”

Asopt laughed.  “Did anyone ever tell you you have a way with words?” he asked.

“No,” Kegan said.

“Good, you haven’t been lied to,” Asopt said.   With that he left leaving Kegan stunned with how well he had walked into that one.  After contemplating how hard it would be to hit Asopt with a small tripping spell at that range he decided to head back inside.

There he found the store empty.  Kegan moved into the back room and found Sariah working over the small pot he mixed his signature purple.  “Please don’t play with that,” he said.

Sariah stirred the contents a bit more with a heavily colored stick.  “You really do need more iodine.”

Kegan reached over and took the stirrer from her.  “I don’t need it really at all.”

Sariah slapped Kegan’s hand to make him release the stick.  She caught it deftly before it hit the floor, all this without getting a drop of the dye on herself.  Kegan, on the other hand was not so lucky.

“Really Sariah?” Kegan asked as he quickly cast a small cantrip, forcing the ink back out of his shirt and onto the floor.

“You were the one whole rudely took my stick,” she said.  Sariah went back to stirring the dye.  “I’m confused.”

“Why are you confused?” asked Kegan.

Sariah held up the bottle of iodine.  “I added more of this, but the color hasn’t changed.”

“I told you, I don’t need any iodine.  As long as I have some of that dye there I can add anything.  I crafted the pot to change any liquid into my dye,” Kegan said.

Sariah looked at the pot, then at Kegan.  “You were that lazy?”

“Creating a unique magical item that transmutes any liquid into the dye that makes me quite comfortable financially is lazy?” Kegan asked.

“Okay, if you put it that way, probably not, but still, why did the color shift?” she asked.

“The color is still the same,” Kegan said.

“No it’s not,” Sariah countered strongly.  She stared him down, daring him to disagree again.

Kegan sighed.  “I created the pot, but I made one slight miscalculation.”

“What did you do?” Sariah asked.

“I didn’t realize I had to use so much ink to infuse the pot, so I kind of used all of the original ink to make the pot.  I had to whip together a new batch to begin producing new ink,” Kegan said.

Sariah waited, but Kegan wasn’t adding anything more.  She decided to push the matter.  “And?”

“I ran out of iodine.  I figured the purple was close enough,” Kegan admitted.

“Ha!  I knew it,” Sariah said.

“That’s nice Sariah, but I would be more concerned how you are going to arrange for an accident for a certain someone,” Kegan said.

Sarah stopped stirring the dye.  “I have a pretty good idea how to do it.”

This time it was Kegan’s turn to wait, but Sariah didn’t say anything more.  Finally he caved in.  “Okay, how?” he asked.

“We need to go to the river and see someone about some slime,” she said.

“Great.  Slime,” Kegan said.  Sariah nodded.  “What are you going to do, make him slip to death?” he asked.

My Personal Demon

I look my demon in the eyes without flinching, much.  My demon could sense my trepidation, taste my fears.  “You will never be a success,” my demon says.  “You don’t have the fire inside to do it.”

I shake my head.  “I can do it,” I say, but it sounds whiny in my ears.  “I can change.”  My demon smiled even more, his eyes throwing daggers at my resolve.  “Really.”

“You are a wanna be,” my demon says.  “Remember that time you wanted to ask Renee out, but instead you just babbled for like five minutes, making you sound like an idiot before walking away?”  I look at my feet, but that doesn’t stop him from continuing.  “You said you could do that too.  But don’t worry, you will never be alone.  You are a loser, and I will always be here to remind you of that.  That’s how great of a demon I am.”

I begin to walk away, but stop.  “You know something,” I say, “If I am such a loser, that means you must be one too.”  I turn and look him in the eyes again, this time without flinching.  “I mean, why would you be my demon if you didn’t suck at being one.  I mean, if you were awesome you would be plaguing Tom Brady or Beyonce.  Instead you’re stuck with me.”

“Boy, get out of here with that,” my demon sputters.  “Without me being so awesome you would be kicking butt and living the good life.  I’m one of the best demons there is.”

I smile my own grin of daggers as my demon realizes what he had done.  “Thanks, now I know I’m awesome.”  My demon watches horrified as I walk away from the mirror.

Fallen From Mercy Chapter 7

Dan could tell he was dreaming, but instead of a tropical bikini clad woman inviting him to hula on a small isolated island he was in his living room and someone had left the front door open.  Dan crossed the room to close the door when he noticed that  the door hadn’t been left open, but had been smashed open.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I let myself in,” Reverend Sean said from behind Dan.

Dan whirled around and there in his galley kitchen was the Reverend smiling at him. Dan did closed his eyes, willing the Reverend to disappear and bring back the bikini, but when he opened them back up the Reverend was still there.  “Let me see what you have packed away in here,” Reverend Sean said.

Dan muttered, “I knew watching those movies would screw me up.”

The Reverend began opening the kitchen cupboards and among the Shredded Wheat and Fruity Pebbles he pulled out a very large photograph.  He placed it in the air between himself and Dan.  Dan recognized the scene.  He was seventeen and just had bought his first car.  It was a beat up old 1975 bleached out blue Chevy Camaro that he had promised his step mom that he was going to fix up with the money he was getting for working at Bert’s Burger Boutique.  Mrs. Farmworth had decided to sell it after her husband had left her for some stripper.  Dan couldn’t remember taking that photo.  Reverend Sean reached out and gently touched the car and the scene came to life.

 

Dan turned the key, and the car rumbled to life but then quickly stalled.  Mrs. Farmworth slapped the top of the car.  “Old thing is like her old owner.  She doesn’t like to start and when she does she stalls out just as fast.”  She laughed at her own joke, but Dan ignored her and coaxed the car back to life.  It had a hole in the muffler.  He could smell the aroma of fresh exhaust and he liked the bouquet.  It rumbled so bad he could feel his stomach rumbling in harmony. 

Dan smiled and reached into his pocket and took out his wallet.  “I want it, but I only have three hundred.”  That three hundred represented a lifetime of work, but it was worth it.  He placed the twenties one at a time on the top of the door.

 Mrs. Farmworth looked at them and smiled. “I was really hoping to get four fifty.”  She took the money and tucked it into her bodice.  “How about you work the rest of the money off doing yard work for me this summer?  You can mow, weed my garden, and wash my car once a week till you go back to school.”

Dan hated giving up even more of his precious summer, but he knew he had to have that car.  Dan revered the engine and it ground to a halt.  Mrs. Farmworth patted his arm through the open window.  “A fine boy like yourself should be able to make her purr like a kitten.  I’ll even let you use the tools in the garage to work on her if you want, at least until my ex husband steals them like he did his golf clubs.

 Dan turned it over and it came to life again.  This car spoke his language.  He nodded his head enthusiastically.  “Deal.  Thanks Mrs. Farmworth.  You won’t regret it.”

Mrs.  Farmworth laughed at a private joke. “Nope, I don’t think I will, but Mr. Farmworth on the other hand…”

 

Dan blinked his eyes after the images stopped moving.  Reverend Sean crumpled up the picture and threw it in the trash.  “That was a waste of my time.  There has to be something juicier around here somewhere,” the Reverend said.  Dan could feel the memory of his buying the car fading away.  He quickly retrieved the picture and smoothed it out on the counter.  What he remembered wasn’t as clear anymore.  It was sort of rough, like the crinkled picture he held in his hands.

“What are you doing?” Dan asked.

Reverend Sean opened the refrigerator and began rummaging around.  “I’m here to learn about the new member of my flock.”

Dan grabbed the door and slammed it shut.  “This is my dream and it ends here.”

Reverend Sean smiled a toothy smile and it seemed like his teeth grew bigger and sharper the longer he smiled.  The apartment began to dim, all the light getting sucked into the void that was the Reverend.  “This is my dream.  You are mine, mind, body and soul.  You belong to me.”

“Then here, you forgot something,” Dan said as he threw a right hook to the jaw of the Reverend.  Pain smashed through Dan’s mangled fist, down through his arm, and into his back.  Reverend Sean cheek didn’t even move.

“Everyone tries to rebel at first.  Hell knows I did at first.  Nobody likes to find out they are lower than they thought on the wheel of life.”  Reverend Sean reached out with his left hand and grabbed Dan by the neck and lifted him off the ground.  “Understand now that your life is in my hands?” the Reverend asked.

Dan hoarsely whispered, “This is a dream.”

Reverend Sean seemed to grow a foot as he pulled Dan close.  “No,” the Reverend said, “this is a nightmare.”  With a shrug of the wrist Reverend Sean flung Dan into the counter and after hitting hard, Dan fell bonelessly to the floor.

Suddenly a woman screaming something seemed to be coming from the room all around, but the exact words were too jumbled to make out.  Reverend Sean chuckled and walked to the door.  “Till next time.  Tell Ruthie I said hi.”

Dan got to his feet unsteadily, holding his side.  “Go to hell!”

Reverend Sean laughed and walked out the door.  The door flew shut on its own and the room began to spin.  Dan sank to his knees and closed his eyes as the woman’s screams became louder and louder.

The screaming continued and he opened his eyes to see Ruthie holding onto his shirt, shaking him.  “Dad, what happened?  Are you okay?”

Dan looked around and he was in his bedroom.  It looked like the wall near his bed had a nice hole in the drywall.  He looked at his right hand and sure enough it was covered in white powder and hurt like hell.  Just his luck, he must have hit a stud.  He was still wrapped in his covers, but he had fallen from his bed.  He shook his head again to shake free the cotton in his head as well as to banish what he experienced back to the halls of sleep.  “Just a bad dream.  I told you we should have went after speeders, but did you listen to me?  No, not your old man.”

“Dad, stop joking.  Are you okay?”  Ruthie had real concern in her eyes, not the teenage superficial change the world concern.  Dan was proud of her right then.

“I’ll be okay once I get cleaned up and get some more sleep.  Take this as a lesson young lady.”  Dan struggled out of the sheet and stood up.  “Happy kids movies will rot your brain like candy does your teeth.  We should have watched a Saw marathon.”

The all American teenager came back out.  “Whatever!  I’m going back to bed.”  She then paused and gave Dan a hug and kiss on his cheek.  “I’m glad you’re okay.”

Dan went into the bathroom with a smile on his face until he saw himself in the mirror.  Between the cut, his hand swelling and bruising and the goose egg growing on his temple and the early onset of a black eye he looked pretty frightful.  “Maybe I can have a part in the next Saw movie.”

Walking on the Dark Side

Short post for tonight.  Was working on trying to get one of my computers to be happy on the network.  This took so long I was left with no time to work on a post for tonight.  I tried to write a few things, but I kept going into very dark places very quickly.  That left me with a good question.  As a writer I try to get inside people’s minds and put their essence onto a written page.  This can be fun, but it can also be disturbing.  Some of my characters scare me.  Some of them make me want to punch them in the face.  Others come off as arrogant or untrustworthy.  The question is when you visit that place inside of you to find where those characters live, do you bring them closer to the surface?  Do they begin stalking your persona, trying to dominate, or threaten your current mindset?  I am sure my dark storytelling tonight was because I am tired and I should be going to bed, but since I am tired and ready to go to bed does that leave me more vulnerable for that pace of foulness to come out.  Interesting things to dream on.  Stay writing my friends.