147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 8

New horror fiction. 

 

Chapter 8

 

“Hello!” Dae called from the doorway of the house. Carolyn shuffled around the corner, draped in layers of flannel, with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

“Hey,” Carolyn said.

“Damn you are a sexy bitch,” Dae said. She held up bags. “I used my key. Hope that’s okay. And I brought lo mein, about twenty spring rolls, tea and wine. Oh and porn. Something in here should help.”

“Thanks,” Carolyn said. “Just…put them in the kitchen. Or wherever.”  Carolyn walked slowly to the living room and dropped into a chair.

“So…” Dae said.

“So,” Carolyn answered.

“What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it bad?” Dae asked.

“Maybe. I don’t think so,” Carolyn said. “But they don’t know. I’m supposed to see him tomorrow. Talk about the tests.” Carolyn rested her head on the back of the chair. “Shawn is crushed. Not that he’s acting like it”

“Why?”

“He is brighter and shinier than I’ve ever seen him. Hanging out with friends. Going to hear music. He started taking pictures again. Has more clients than he can book. Hasn’t had a seizure in a year.”

“No, sweetie, not why is he acting, like, some white frat boy. Why is he crushed?”

“If we go to the appointment, and it’s bad, then my uterus is officially off the market. Yanking it off the shelves. Expired. Done.”

“Shit,” Dae said, looking at the floor.

“Nothing’s definite.”

“But if you go in there tomorrow and they say, that’s it, baby is off the table– are you…”

“I didn’t know if I ever even wanted a baby,” Carolyn said. “I didn’t think so. You know that. I’m not a mom. Now, all I see is babies. All I hear is kids. Singing. Screaming. I can’t stop them.” The sound of tinny carousel music came from the next room. “See? My phone.”

“Oh. Go ahead,” Dae said.

“No,” Carolyn said.

“I can go get it,” Dae shifted to stand.

“I said no,” Carolyn demanded.

“Ok.”

The women sat without talking. The music marched on for a few more seconds and then stopped. Carolyn hung her head.

“I hate to bring this up,” Dae said.

“Just say it,” Carolyn said. “I know that’s why you came.”

“It’s not,” Dae said. “I wanted to see you.”

“Bullshit. What did they say?” Carolyn said, picking up her head and staring pointedly at Dae.

Dae breathed. “They’re taking you off all your current projects. Raj is going to call you on Friday to formalize it.

“Fuck,” Carolyn said, letting her neck go slack and dropping her head to the back of the chair.

“They’re not firing you,” Dae said. “He is absolutely clear on that.”

“Sure as hell sounds like it,” Carolyn said.

“I’m sorry,” said Dae. “It sucks. But…”

“But what?”

“I don’t want to sound like a bitch. Yeah, I’m your manager, but I’m your friend first and after. The work still needs done. The ad buys are slowing down and we need the content. And besides all that, I think you’re a fabulous woman. But you weren’t getting it done when you were there. I’d rather you be here and get better.”

“He’s a massage therapist, Dae. You know what he makes, what we have. How are we supposed to make it on one salary? In New York?”

Dae pulled out an envelope and handed it to Carolyn.

“What?”

“Pay me back when you can. I probably won’t be there much longer anyway. Looking at some new companies. Maybe try something on my own. When I do, you come with me.”

Carolyn hung her head and tears filled her eyes. “I can’t cry. It hurts.”

“Then don’t, you maudlin, moody bitch.”

Dae crouched down to the floor and wrapped her arms around Carolyn. They smiled. Then, Carolyn wept.

“I hate you,” Carolyn.

“I hate you too,” Dae responded.

Carolyn trembled as she exhaled in spurts and cuts.

“You’re okay,” Dae said. “Promise. You’ll get better and figure this out.”

Carolyn said nothing. Her tears stung her skin when they rolled down her cheeks. There was a twinge in her stomach. Then another one. And then a faint flutter. As soon as she felt that, she stopped crying. She knew what the tests would show. And she knew that they would be wrong. Only she knew what was happening.

If you enjoy these literary ramblings, my new suspense novel Drowning Above Water is available at Amazon. 

147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 3

 

 Chapter 3

 

The apartment door slammed shut, but she didn’t hear the deadbolt. He always turned the deadbolt. Even if he was just grabbing the mail or picking up their Thursday night avocados. Or limes. He never, ever remembered to get limes. This was something that was adorable at first, then bugged her to no end months into to their coupling. She had eventually accepted and come to find endearing that he would forever forget the limes. Because he secretly didn’t like them. But he always remembered to bolt the door.

“Baby?” she called. Their place was not exactly the biggest. Their place. She still stumbled over that one. Their bed, in their place, was at the top of an unforgiving ladder that could only be called “stairs” in the most generous of circumstances. But for two bedrooms in the East Village, you made compromises.

It was quiet. Maybe it wasn’t their door she heard slamming. Probably the Indian couple next door. Those boys could bang some doors. She leaned over the bed, remembering this time that she couldn’t stand fully erect to put on the clean pillowcases, or she would bruise her forehead on the slanted back wall. More East village compromises. Then she heard the door close again. Definitely their door. And then their lock clicking. She put down the still-naked pillow and walked downstairs. As she cleared the last two steps, facing towards the wall and clinging onto the railings on both sides for support, she heard the door unlock and swing open.

“Shawn?” she called. But she knew he wasn’t there. No way. She walked toward the door. When she got within two steps, she felt the air exchange inches from her face. She realized she was sweating. Phone. Needed her phone. It wasn’t in her back pocket. Bed. Pillows. Upstairs. She slipped and cracked her shin against one of the steps. Blood dripped on the dark, faded wood. Get upstairs. Get the phone. She finally got to the top. It wasn’t by the pillows or anywhere on the bed. Then she heard it vibrating from downstairs. Back down, slipping on the last step. Finally upright, she ran across the room and grabbed the first and biggest thing she could hold. Smashing his guitar over the head of whoever was opening and closing her door wouldn’t do much, but she felt better having it in her hand. Where was her phone? She heard it vibrating. Maybe on the counter but the door, she ran to it and grabbed it. She looked up when the door slammed shut again. Full-view, eyes open. She saw the door. It was closed but then it independently swung open, paused as if someone stopped it with their foot and then kicked it shut. Her phone stopped vibrating. And it was suddenly in her hand. Everything was quiet. Then her phone rang.

It was a song she knew, but couldn’t name in this moment. Old and tinny. Something from a black and white movie with fainting girls and men in fedoras and waistcoats. Then it faded, the notes dimming. They were replaced with the sound of a child, young, when boys and girls have the same voices. The child was talking. The same accent as Shawn.

“Hello. Are you there? Someone? Can anybody hear me? I don’t know where I am. I’m…I need my mummy. Is she there? Mummy?”

Carolyn stared at her phone. The screen was black. Nothing. She pressed the power button, the home button, nothing. The phone stayed dead.

“Mummy, I’m so tired. I want to go to sleep in your big bed. Rub my hair so I can go to sleep. Tell the scary goblins not today. Mummy…sleepy…” The child’s voice stopped.

“Carolyn,” she heard, and she finally looked up from her phone. It was the same accent, only a grown man’s voice. She jumped and screamed when she felt the hand on her shoulder.

“Love, what are you doing? What’s the trouble?”

She spun and saw Shawn standing over her. She grabbed him, wrapping her arms around him and squeezing. “Someone’s here. In the house.”

“Who’s here? One of your work mates. Is it Dae?”

“I don’t know. I can’t see them. They are here. And there’s a little boy on my phone.”

He took the phone from her hand and examined it. He pressed the home button and the screen lit up, showing apps and a wallpaper photo of a rosemary scone she had baked in their kitchen. Like there always was.

“There’s no boy on your phone,” Shawn said. “And I don’t think anyone is in the flat.”

Carolyn grabbed the phone from him and put it down on the table. She rubbed her hand on her leg after she dropped it.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Why don’t you go lie down? I’ll bring you in some tea.”

“Fuck your tea. I’m not staying here,” she said.

“Lynnie…”

“No,” she said. She walked past him to the next room. He heard her scoop her keys up from the table. Then he heard them drop onto the floor. She swore again and picked them up. Pushing beyond him in the doorway, she walked past the table where her phone was lying. She looked at it, but refused to touch it. She didn’t feel Shawn pulling at her hand as she rushed out the door.

 

Thumbing the Scales. And crap.

Not the actual scales that one stands on. Because, just no. I’d like to report that I put value on myself for my actions and intentions. But, again, just no.  There’s always going to the that part of me that always feels less because of what I see in the mirror. Brilliant words on a page should mean more than the number on the tag of a dress. Should. Really should. But that might be more about hormones and not acting jobs. For today anyway.

During times when what you want to do is so far away, and nothing is on the horizon, it’s so easy to lose sight of everything. I will forget in an instant every accomplishment, every victory, every progression. But I will manage to trap in steel every insult, every coming-up-short, every universal and encompassing failure. It’s a gift, really. I don’t know how confident people do it.

But I’m trying. I am a planner. Trying to wade though a snarled life like mine, you have to be. For me, that means lists. Lots of beautiful numbered and bulleted lists. That I will lose. And then have to write again. But it helps me sometimes to see, full-frontal and exposed, where I am. Where I need to go.

So, let’s list what happened lately that did not combust into iridescent, sparkly, sticky suck:

On the most important front, there were good mom things today. (Also, Lots of awful things.) But, some things I can legitimately call good without embarrassed,

  • He practiced piano. With less than a 15% eye roll noted.
  • He ate actual food. Asparagus and grilled chicken. That came from my kitchen and not a drive-though window.
  • We shared green gum balls at the bank. Okay, that one might not technically fall into the “good” column. But, it was fun. And that sure as hell should count for something.

And speaking of hell, while getting our irritated drive on during our after-school errands, I mentioned a bothersome wicket that was causing, as a bright blue Tank Engine once said, “confusion and delay”.  He laughed out loud.

“YOU SAID A BAD WORD!”

Did I? I raced through the tape on the last thirty seconds of our conversation. What the hell did I say? I hope it wan’t about the train. He loved that train as a baby.  I was indifferent. But, I did love it when George Carlin did that narration. And on that note, back to my bad word.

“Oh? What did I say?”

Silence.

“Mommy, you said the ‘c’ word!”

Silence. Oh. Shit. Silence. There was no way I said the “c” word, right? Right?! I mean sometimes you do, because sometimes you have to, because sometimes there’s just no other bloody choice. But, now? I said it now??

“What…what “c” word did I say, honey?”

CYS? As in the Children and Youth services that will be paying me a visit?

“Silly Mommy. You said”…

*looks around…looks around again… whispers*

“Crap.”

I truly snorted.

“Yeah, ya got me , Copper.  I did say the “c’ word. I said crap. I’m sorry.”

He giggled, out of control.

“Mommy! You said it again!”

Yeah. It was good.

With me, person me and not mom me, other stuff is pretty thickly stalled. But, I’m looking for and trying to remember the victories. More lists:

  • Crap. I’m listing it again because that shit was funny.
  • I have 1,688 words of a horror story that I didn’t have a few days ago. It’s not for anyone but me. Better to have words than to not have them.
  • I pulled out a monologue from the bowels of a decade-and-a-half-old desktop computer. It just might be performed in an upcoming show.

For reals.

Photo courtesy of: Long-ass time ago.  I think Cordelia and Wesley used this in Angel's office.

Photo courtesy of:
Long-ass time ago.
I think Cordelia and Wesley used this in Angel’s office.

I was an IT god for finding that things from the depths of my cyber closet. Looking back at the piece,  I was really happy with it when I wrote it all those years ago.  And i’m still okay with it. Looking ahead,  I’d be tickled to hear it onstage one more time. (Note to self: past victory. File that one away accordingly, please.)

  • Oh, and I got a really groovy book about psychic vampires. Pretty convinced I am one. That’s about all for that topic. I like weird books.

So, no. Not doing much right lately.

But, I did say crap.

He he.

Sometimes it’s not the crap, but the laughs we get from it that tip the scales in our direction.