Tag Archive: mystery


This was my life

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*As seen on HD wallpapers All rights to owners*

Time is the invisible thing that makes life worth living.  The large typeset font standing out almost black against the aged marble headstone drew Len forward in the cold misty morning.  Len liked his mornings quiet and calm so unlike many of his friends he strolled through cemeteries rather than pound pavement.  To him these were just thoughtful places with an eery beauty. As none of his family had ever ventured this far West Len didn’t even make a habit of scanning the stones, but those words had more than just caught his attention they had pulled him off the gravel path.  So standing before the stone with wet shoes and damp socks Len read the sentence again before walking around to see the name Alden Paxt.

Alden Paxt, as it turned out, had died 89 years young, according to the stone, in the year 1927. Len looked the marker over somehow unsatisfied. Then it dawned on him, the epitaph. There was no line honoring Alden as a loving husband, a caring father, or a cherished friend. Immediately Len envisioned a funeral empty except for the priest and grave diggers, and without ever knowing this man his heart broke for Alden. Then confusion set in; what kind of man plans a funeral, buys a stone, engraves that sentence, and then forgets to leave someone behind to care that he is gone?

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

With only a small amount of difficulty Len managed to find the grounds keeper and convince him to check the files for any information about Alden or his headstone. The scowling grounds keeper came back from his office file in hand brow even more furrowed.

“It’s just a stone guy.”

“What?”

“No one is buried there; lot number 803 is empty.” Len’s mouth hung at a rakish angle as the man continued. “Yah…that’s what it says.”

“But the stone?”

“Oh that? Nice line right? Yah, it was commissioned…back in October of ’42 same day the lot was purchased.” The grounds keeper looked up as he shut the file.

“You mean to tell me that a stone and lot were purchased in 1942 for a man who died in ’27?”

“That’s what the file says guy.” With a shrug the man walked back towards his mower pocketing the folded manilla folder.

“Thanks,” was all Len managed as a response.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

All day long the mystery of Alden Paxt ate at Len creeping into his consciousness while he waited for red lights, coffee shop lines, and printed spreadsheets. So when his coworkers invited him to dinner that night Len politely refused wanting nothing more than to spend the night glued to his computer until it gave up whatever information there was to find on Alden.

By 11 pm Len’s bloodshot eyes and mound of soda cans attested to his night long search for Mr. Paxt online, but nothing else. There had been no record of death in 1927 nor any birth certificate 89 years earlier for an Alden Paxt. While there had been some unusual headlines between 1838 and 1927, including a pregnant woman, in April of 1838, who was hit by lightning one stormy night and woke up childless. However, no mention of Alden the mysterious. Scrolling through pages of the archaic Langston Township Chronicles, a local newspaper that had been around since the early 1800s, Len stopped on a page of birth announcements to read one titled “Baby Moses” which read almost like a lost puppy add.

Child found in shack off the Long River. Aged at least three years. Sick. Looking for mother or mother’s whereabouts. Please contact the Langston Township Police Force or Sister Mary Agnes of Saint Ivo’s.

Len knew the LTPF was still in working order, sadly understaffed with retirement aged officers, but he could not remember ever seeing or hearing of Saint Ivo’s. In a last ditch effort to make his night of skulking around the internet worth while Len began looking into the second most mysterious person whose name he had read today “Baby Moses”.

Much to his dismay no church in Langston was now, or ever, named St. Ivo’s as far as he could tell, the only convent in a three town radius was called Saint Cathrine’s, and none of the Catholic schools had names anymore exotic than Thomas Aquinas. Stumped Len typed Baby Moses Langston Township into the search bar. To his surprise he found St. Ivo’s Orphanage listed as an official “safe haven” under the Baby Moses Project in Michigan. As soon as he read the words orphanage his mind went into overdrive… abandoned children wouldn’t have birth certificates.

Len closed his laptop resolutely tomorrow he would go to the orphanage, and perhaps find his answers.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

Standing in the gravel parking lot Len felt more than a little unsure of himself. He knew it was a long shot, but between Alden Paxt and Baby Moses Len had more questions than he could abide. So he made his way to the office regardless of his misgivings.

“Yes,” the receptionist said curtly.

“I was wondering if a Sister Mary Agnes was still here and available to talk.” The woman hiked an eyebrow causing Len to run the math again. It was possible but not likely that she was still above ground. Still the receptionist picked up the phone motioning to a bank of pseudo comfortable chairs.

Nearly ten minutes later a motherly looking sister greeted him, “Len? Welcome to St. Ivo’s. Would you care to walk with me?”

“You couldn’t possibly be Mary Agnes.”

The sister laughed out loud and threw a wink at the receptionist, “No, no I’m Mary Louise. Come let’s talk.”

This time Len didn’t even pause.

“What did you want to talk with Mary Agnes about?” The sister met Len’s silence head on. “Well my dear I know you never knew her personally because she joined our little family at the turn of the 20th century, so… I must admit I am curious.”

“It’s probably going to sound crazy,” Len started not making eye contact, “but I’m here because of Alden Paxt.” The sister was staring at him shaking her head. “I mean… God dam.., ah dang it. Sorry sister.”

“Who is Alden Paxt Len,” Mary Louise asked as a smile colored her words.

“He’s the proud owner of a very interesting unused tombstone from 1942 or ’27, its not important, but um because of him I came across Baby Moses’ add in an old copy of the Chronicles.”

“Really? Well Moses is worth the trip I suppose.”

“You actually know what I’m talking about?”

“Of course. I took over for Mary Agnes in ’68. Moses was perhaps our most intriguing occupant. He was such a miracle, and a mystery…”

“Did they ever find his mother?”

“No. You know he nearly died. No matter what they did that baby seemed to get smaller and weaker, a few years after he had been found he still couldn’t eat solid food or even hold his tiny head up. Then out of no where he started to thrive. Agnes hadn’t even bother giving him a proper name she was so sure he would die. Everyone just kept calling him Baby Moses till one day he looked her right in the eye and said something along the lines of its Moses darling.”

“What? How old was he?”

“There was no telling, he always was a bit of a runt, but the name stuck. From then on he was Moses Darling. That boy always had such an intense look about him, an old soul people use to call it.”

“You mean you knew him,” Len couldn’t believe his luck.

“During this teenage years, yes sir. He always had an opinion and an amazing story for any situation.”

“Where did he end up? Did he get adopted?”

“No, he didn’t have any interest in finding a family actually. Which was odd. All the other children without family ties seemed to crave a home and roots more than anything, but not Moses he wanted to wonder and learn. He even wrote an essay that won him a scholarship out in New York City.” Mary Louise paused laughing to herself. “He wrote that story and then disappeared off into his future. Only thing I know for sure about Moses Darling now is that he wrote a book, because he sent a copy to Sister Mary Agnes for our library.”

“Is there any way I could borrow it sister,” Len asked brimming with hope.

“Oh I’m sorry, see she was buried with it, Agnes, we never even put it on the shelf.”

Knowing that his luck had to run out eventually Len took the news in stride, thanked the sister for her time, made a donation to the orphanage and left.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

Weeks later Len had made his way back through his rotation of beautiful cemeteries to stroll in, and found himself excited to visit Alden Paxt’s grave stone once more. So much so that his walk was really more of a jog. While he made his way through the immaculately manicured lawn Len thought about how much the Mysterious Mr. Paxt had changed how he walked through graveyards. Now he read each name and date, even kept a journal dedicated to the ones that seemed intriguing or had great quotes. Len felt more aware or perceptive, and he liked it.

That is, perhaps, why he noticed the book from such a long way off. Sitting on the aged marble stone sat an old paperback novel so well loved by its previous owner that the pages curled back nearly touching the spine. Len looked in every direction but could find no one. So he moved closer, and tentatively reached out to grab the book. His hand trembled slightly fully aware that he was intruding on something deeply personal. Never before had he dared to bother mementos left by the bereaved, but today not even proper etiquette could stop Len.

The author’s name was undecipherable on the broken spine but the gold foil title My Time could still be made out. Len not even bothering to walk toward the nearby bench turned to the first page and began reading.

Time is the only thing that makes life worth living, and for me the clock started with a flash of lightening…

Len felt his eyes widen as he reread the first line. It was the quote. Slowly the realization that he now held the only clue to who Alden Paxt was in his hand dawned on him. So fast he nearly tore the page Len flipped to the title page. There in bold black typeface were the words; My Time by Moses Darling copyright 1972.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

Some how Len had made it to the bench before he collapsed. Sitting there head between his knees, heart racing, taking what he hoped were deep calming breaths Len tried to make sense of the book. He could have seen the headstone and liked the quote same as me, was his first thought. They were both from the same area so it wasn’t too far of a reach. Maybe it was a famous quote and he had just never heard it before Len thought, but that seemed to be a bit more of a stretch. Nervously he opened the book again to the last page hoping for a blurb about the author instead he found an oddly placed dedication page.

Now the name Alden Paxt will never be forgotten.

That decided him. Len didn’t fidget while he read, take coffee, or even bathroom breaks he read My Time as if it might dissolve away in the breeze if he stopped. Hours later he began to feel a slight itchy sensation that told him someone was watching, but he ignored it. It wasn’t till the light started to fade that he finally looked up.

“So what did you think” the the man leaning on his cane asked.

“I… I loved it. Um, have you heard of it,” Len said as he turned the cover towards the stranger who made a noncommittal shrug. “Well you see its a story about a man who lives twice. Once in reverse where he gets younger rather than older, and then once moving forward.”

“How would that have happened,” the man asked as he sat down on the other end of the bench.

“That part is never really explained actually,” Len said flipping the pages of the book, “but the life he lived.” He sighed audibly looking over at Alden’s stone. “It was worth living.”

“What’s that now?”

“Sorry I just meant, I know its fiction but the character in this book he really lived his life. He made mistakes as much as he got it right, but he didn’t let fear stop him. He just kept going like he knew he would get to do it again, like… I’m not doing it justice,” Len finished rather lamely.

“Like all his ends were actually beginnings,” the man offered while staring into the sunset.

“Exactly! Odd place for that kind of realization huh?”

“Why would that be son?”

“Well,” Len said motioning to the rows of grave markers, “we are literally surrounded by ends.”

“Oh, yah,” the elderly gentleman said goading Len. “What about that one there,” the man said pointing, “how is his story over?”

Len followed the man’s outstretched finger. “Alden Paxt? Good example… he kind of exists as a middle I don’t know his beginning or end just the dates.”

“Ha!” The man’s bark of laughter cut through the evening air. “Your holding his beginning there son. The end though is sure to be up for interpretation.”

“How would you know that?”

Len watched as the skin crinkled around the man’s dark deep set eyes and a smile broke out upon his kind face. “How did you know Alden Paxt?” Without meaning to his question came out more like a demand.

“Don’t be so surprised son, as it turns out life is often stranger than fiction. I think you should keep that copy… It suits you, and that way neither of our names will be forgotten.”

“But I don’t know your name,” Len said confusion obvious in his voice.

The man slowly stood cane in hand, “I cannot say I ever had a proper one but friends have been known to call me Moses.” And just like that the man started to walk away. Len stood and would have followed him, but the man’s voice blew back on the building breeze. “Or Alden. There was a time when people knew me by that name too.”

Len sat down hard without having meant to staring after the kind man’s silhouette as it melted into the growing shadows. “Stranger than fiction,” he asked in a whisper, “talk about an understatement.” The book suddenly felt very heavy in Len’s hands like a story that spanned nearly 200 years should.

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My Time (Part 3 of 3)

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Weeks later Len had made his way back through his rotation of beautiful cemeteries to stroll in, and found himself excited to visit Alden Paxt’s grave stone once more.  So much so that his walk was really more of a jog.  While he made his way through the immaculately manicured lawn Len thought about how much the Mysterious Mr. Paxt had changed how he walked through graveyards.  Now he read each name and date, even kept a journal dedicated to the ones that seemed intriguing or had great quotes.  Len felt more aware and perceptive and he liked it.

That is, perhaps, why he noticed the book from such a long way off.  Sitting on the aged marble stone sat an old paperback novel so well loved by its previous owner that the pages curled back and nearly touched the spine.  Len looked in every direction but could find no one so as he moved closer tentatively he reached out to grab the book.  His hand trembled slightly fully aware that he was intruding on something deeply personal.  Never before had he dared to bother mementos left by the bereaved, but today not even proper etiquette could stop Len.

The author’s name was undecipherable on the broken spine but the gold foil title My Time could still be made out.  Len not even bothering to walk toward the nearby bench turned to the first page and began reading.

Time is the only thing that makes life worth living, and for me the clock started with a flash of lightening…

Len felt his eyes widen as he reread the first line.  It was the quote.  Slowly the realization that he now held the only clue to who Alden Paxt was in his hand dawned on him.  So fast he nearly tore the page Len flipped to the title page.  There is bold black typeface were the words;  My Time by Moses Darling copyright 1972.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

Some how Len had made it to the bench before he collapsed.  Sitting there head between his knees, heart racing, taking what he hoped were deep calming breaths Len tried to make sense of the book.  He could have seen the headstone and liked the quote same as me was his first thought.  They were both from the same area so it wasn’t too far of a reach.  Maybe it was a famous quote and he had just never heard it before Len thought, but that seemed to be a bit more of a stretch.  Nervously he opened the book again to the last page hoping for a blurb about the author instead he found an oddly placed dedication page.

Now the name Alden Paxt will never be forgotten.

That decided him.  Len didn’t fidget while he read or even take coffee and bathroom breaks he read My Time as if it might dissolve away in the breeze if he stopped.  Hours later he began to feel a slight itchy sensation that told him someone was watching, but he ignored it.  It wasn’t till the light started to fade that he finally looked up.

“So what did you think” the the man leaning on his cane asked.

“I… I loved it.  Um, have you heard of it,” Len said as he turned the cover towards the stranger who made a noncommittal shrug.  “Well you see its a story about a man who lives twice.  Once in reverse where he gets younger rather than older, and then once moving forward.”

“How would that have happened,” the man asked as he sat down on the other end of the bench.

“That part is never really explained actually,” Len said flipping the pages of the book, “but the life he lived.” He sighed audibly looking over at Alden’s stone.  “It was worth living.”

“What’s that now?”

“Sorry I just meant, I know its fiction but the character in this book he really lived his life.  He made mistakes as much as he got it right, but he didn’t let fear stop him.  He just kept going like he knew he would get to do it again, like… I’m not doing it justice,” Len finished rather lamely.

“Like all his ends were actually beginnings,” the man offered while staring into the sunset.

“Exactly!  Odd place for that kind of realization huh?”

“Why would that be son?”

“Well,” Len said motioning to the rows of grave markers, “we are literally surrounded by ends.”

“Oh, yah,” the elderly gentleman said goading Len.  “What about that one there,” the man said pointing, “how is his story over?”

Len followed the man’s outstretched finger.  “Alden Paxt?  Good example he kind of exists as a middle I don’t know his beginning or end just the dates.”

“Ha!” The man’s bark of laughter cut through the evening air.  “Your holding his beginning there son.  The end though is sure to be up for interpretation.”

“How would you know that?”

“I’m the one who left it.”

Len watched as the skin crinkled around the man’s dark deep set eyes and a smile broke out upon his kind face.  “How did you know Alden Paxt?” Without meaning to his question came out more like a demand.

“Don’t be so surprised son, as it turns out life is often stranger than fiction.  I think you should keep that copy… It suits you, and that way neither of our names will be forgotten.”

“But I don’t know your name,” Len said confusion obvious in his voice.

The man slowly stood cane in hand, “I cannot say I ever had a proper one but friends have been know to call me Moses.” And just like that the man started to walk away.  Len stood and would have followed him, but the man’s voice blew back on the building breeze.  “Or Alden.  There was a time when people knew me by that name too.”

Len sat down hard without having meant to staring after the kind man’s silhouette as it melted into the growing shadows.  “Stranger than fiction,” he asked in a whisper, “talk about an understatement.” The book suddenly felt very heavy in Len’s hands like a story that spanned nearly 200 years should.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

Thanks for reading!  I hope you liked it I spent quite a while making Alden’s life come to life, and I’m happy with it but there is always room to grow.

Please leave any comments to help me make my stories better.  Could you see my ending coming, where my attempts attempts at humor silly, or my dialogue stiff? I want to know.  Thanks in advance!

My Time (Part 2 of 3)

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All day long the mystery of Alden Paxt ate at Len creeping into his consciousness while he waited for red lights, coffee shop lines, and printed spreadsheets.  So when his coworkers invited him to dinner that night Len politely refused wanting nothing more than to spend the night glued to his computer until it gave up whatever information there was to find on Alden. 

It was 11 pm and Len’s bloodshot eyes and mound of soda cans attested to his night long search for Mr. Paxt online, but nothing else.  There had been no record of death in 1927 nor any birth certificate 89 years earlier for an Alden Paxt.  While there had been some unusual headlines between 1838 and 1927, including a pregnant woman, in April of 1838, who was hit by lightning one stormy night and woke up childless, but no mention of Alden the mysterious.  Scrolling through pages of the  archaic Langston Township Chronicles, a local newspaper that had been around since the early 1800s, Len stopped on a page of birth announcements to read one titled “Baby Moses” which read almost like a lost puppy add.

Child found in shack off the Long River.  Aged at least three years.  Sick.  Looking for mother or mother’s whereabouts.  Please contact the Langston Township Police Force or Sister Mary Agnes of Saint Ivo’s.

Len knew the LTPF was still in working order, sadly understaffed with retirement aged officers, but he could not remember ever seeing or hearing of Saint Ivo’s.  In a last ditch effort to make his night of skulking around the internet worth while Len began looking into the second most mysterious person whose name he had read today “Baby Moses”.

Much to his dismay no church in Langston was now, or ever, named St. Ivo’s as far as he could tell, the only convent in a three town radius was called Saint Cathrine’s, and none of the Catholic schools had names anymore exotic than Thomas Aquinas.  Stumped Len typed Baby Moses Langston Township into the search bar.  To his surprise he found St. Ivo’s Orphanage listed as an official “safe haven” under the Baby Moses Project in Michigan.  As soon as he read the words orphanage his mind went into overdrive… abandoned children wouldn’t have birth certificates.

Len closed his laptop resolutely tomorrow he would go to the orphanage, and perhaps find his answers.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

Standing in the gravel parking lot Len felt more than a little unsure of himself.  He knew it was a long shot, but between Alden Paxt and Baby Moses Len had more questions than he could abide.  So he made his way to the office regardless of his misgivings.

“Yes,” the receptionist said curtly.

“I was wondering if a Sister Mary Agnes was still here and available to talk.” The woman hiked an eyebrow causing Len to run the math again.  It was possible but not likely that she was still above ground.  Still the receptionist picked up the phone motioning to a bank of pseudo comfortable chairs.

Nearly ten minutes later a motherly looking sister greeted him, “Len?  Welcome to St. Ivo’s. Would you care to walk with me?”

“You couldn’t possibly be Mary Agnes.”

The sister laughed out loud and threw a wink at the receptionist, “No, no I’m Mary Louise.  Come let’s talk.”

This time Len didn’t even pause.

“What did you want to talk with Mary Agnes about?” The sister met Len’s silence head on.  “Well my dear I know you never knew her personally because she joined our little family at the turn of the 20th century, so… I must admit I am curious.”

“It’s probably going to sound crazy,” Len started not making eye contact, “but I’m here because of Alden Paxt.” The sister was staring at him shaking her head.  “I mean… God dam.., ah dang it.  Sorry sister.”

“Who is Alden Paxt Len,” Mary Louise asked as a smile colored her words.

“He’s the proud owner of a very interesting unused tombstone from 1942 or ’27, its not important, but um because of him I came across Baby Moses’ add in an old copy of the Chronicles.”

“Really?  Well Moses is worth the trip I suppose.”

“You actually know what I’m talking about?”

“Of course.  I took over for Mary Agnes in ’68.  Moses was perhaps our most intriguing occupant.  He was such a miracle, and a mystery…”

“Did they ever find his mother?”

“No.  You know he nearly died.  No matter what they did that baby seemed to get smaller and weaker, a few years after he had been found he still couldn’t eat solid food or even hold his tiny head up.  Then out of no where he started to thrive.  Agnes hadn’t even bother giving him a proper name she was so sure he would die.  Everyone just kept calling him Baby Moses till one day he looked her right in the eye and said something along the lines of its Moses darling.”

“What?  How old was he?”

“There was no telling, he always was a bit of a runt, but the name stuck.  From then on he was Moses Darling.  That boy always had such an intense look about him, an old soul people use to call it.”

“You mean you knew him,” Len couldn’t believe his luck.

“During this teenage years, yes sir.  He always had an opinion and and amazing story for any situation.”

“Where did he end up?  Did he get adopted?”

“No, he didn’t have any interest in finding a family actually.  Which was odd.  All the other children without family ties seemed to crave a home and roots more than anything, but not Moses he wanted to wonder and learn.  He even wrote an essay that won him a scholarship out in New York City.” Mary Louise paused laughing to herself.  “He wrote that story and then disappeared off into his future.  Only thing I know for sure about Moses Darling now is that he wrote a book, because he sent a copy to Sister Mary Agnes for our library.”

“Is there any way I could borrow it sister,” Len asked brimming with hope.

“Oh I’m sorry, see she was buried with it, Agnes, we never even put it on the shelf.”

Knowing that his luck had to run out eventually Len took the news in stride, thanked the sister for her time, made a donation to the orphanage and left.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

Hope you are still with me and enjoying the story.  Part 3 will be up tomorrow.

My Time (Part 1 of 3)

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Time is the invisible thing that makes life worth living.  The large typeset font standing out almost black against the aged marble headstone drew Len forward in the cold misty morning.  Len liked his mornings quiet and calm so unlike many of his friends he strolled through cemeteries rather than pound pavement.  To him these were just thoughtful places with an eery beauty.  As none of his family had ever ventured this far West Len didn’t even make a habit of scanning the stones, but those words had more than just caught his attention they had pulled him off the gravel path.  So standing before the stone with wet shoes and damp socks Len read the sentence again before walking around to see the name Alden Paxt.

Alden Paxt, as it turned out, had died 89 years young in the year 1927. Len looked the stone over somehow unsatisfied. Then it dawned on him, the epitaph.  There was no line honoring Alden as a loving husband, a caring father, or a cherished friend. Immediately Len envisioned a funeral empty except for the priest and grave diggers, and without ever knowing this man his heart broke for Alden. Then confusion set in; what kind of man plans a funeral, buys a stone, engraves that sentence, and then forgets to leave someone behind to care that he is gone?

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

With only a small amount of difficulty Len managed to find the grounds keeper and convince him to check the files for any information about Alden or his headstone. The scowling grounds keeper came back from his office file in hand brow even more furrowed.

“It’s just a stone guy.”

“What?”

“No one is buried there lot number 803 is empty.” Len’s mouth hung at a rakish angle as the man continued. “Yah…that’s what it says.”

“But the stone?”

“Oh that?  Nice line right? Yah, it was commissioned…back in October of ’42 same day the lot was purchased.” The grounds keeper looked up as he shut the file.

“You mean to tell me that a stone and lot were purchased in 1942 for a man who died in ’27?”

“That’s what the file says guy.” With a shrug the man walked back towards his mower pocketing the folded manilla folder.

“Thanks,” was all Len managed as a response.

⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳⌛⏳

I hope you enjoyed this post part 2 will be up tomorrow.  Comment or like I adore feedback 🙂

Lochlin, Shona, & Barlow

Much thanks to the great Tim Burton who created such wonderful characters. All rights to owner.

Much thanks to the great Tim Burton who created such wonderful characters.
All rights to owner.

“Did you hear that they are making a movie about Maple Lane,” Janine said with just a touch too much excitement in her voice for a Monday morning.

“No. That can’t be right.”

“Swear to God Lynn.” Janine looked around to make sure her slightly raised voice was carrying. “You know I watch The Morning Cup news religiously because Teddy, the lead anchor, is just cute enough to get out of bed for. Right? Well he was interviewing some hag in a bad skirt suit this morning, and she said that our community would be playing host to some real life Hollywood producers.”

“Why,” Shelly asked.

“Well why else,” Janine said pausing for dramatic effect. “The Maple Lane Massacre.”

“The what?”

Janine sighed and then rolled her eyes over to Lynn. “Look I know your new-ish to town Rob, but really. The Massacre is the only movie worthy thing to have ever happened here. Just, at least, tell me you’ve heard of the Tough Triplets.”

Rob’s shrug and the various head shakes throughout the group only bolstered Janine’s showmanship. “Lock, Shock, and Barrel?” Janine had asked the question innocently and acted aghast when there was no collective head nod of understanding. “You guys should really bone up on your local history. I mean, don’t you think it would be important to know that only 50 years ago three of the Tough family’s hoard went on a killing bender up and down Maple just becu…”

Janine’s voice dropped off as she made eye contact with the latest edition to her audience, Jackson Tough.

Rob was the first to turn and see what had stopped Janine. “No way! Jack?” The hurt in Robs voice was obvious as he asked, “Is this true?”

“Don’t let me stop you Janine,” Jack said his eyes never once leaving hers, “I recall how much you use to love telling this story.”

“We would all love to hear your take Jackson, at least, I know I would,” Janine said to his back as he passed her by. “I’m such a sucker for back story and… the inside scoop.”

“Would it be the facts or the story your after Janine?” Janine barely had time to purse her lips before Jack continued. “Facts? Lochlin, Shona, and Barlow Tough, not Lock, Shock, and Barrel, were arrested and charged with the murder of 13 people on October 30th, 1948. They were found guilty. Lochlin was sentenced to death by hanging as an 18th birthday present and Shona died in prison last winter. Barlow is still serving his life sentence.”

No one even coughed as Jack spoke either too mesmerized or too afraid. “The story,” Janine asked as she made a give me gesture.

Jack took a deep breath. “On the day before Halloween, over 70 years ago, the three youngest Tough family children were searching for decorations in order to festoon their front porch.  Flour sacs were found for ghost faced masks and the scarecrow was misappropriated from their mother’s garden, along with a gourd or two.  While Barlow worked on his Jack-O-Lantern and Shona her mask Lochlin went off to see what he could find in the attic.  When he returned it was with a large egg crate labeled All Hallows’ Eve.  The three eagerly examined the contents, which must have belonged to the house’s previous owners, and were happily surprised.  Inside were handmade costumes complete with painted masks.  Some were beautiful others horrible to behold, but all of them painstakingly crafted.  The crude sac masks forgotten, each child picked their favorite outfit and tried it on.

The pieced together theory on what happened next was that the three had gone trick-or-treating sparing those who treated and killing those who required tricking.  Whatever actually caused the incident though is still as mystery because all Lochlin, Shona, and Barlow have ever said since that night is…

             Trick or treat,
              Smell my feet,
              Give me something good to eat!
            If you don’t,
             Please beware,
             Else all will know, that we were there!

No one knew what to make of it really.  Maybe if they had chosen to be the friar, puppy dog, and angel rather than the witch, devil, and skeleton nothing would have happened.  But they didn’t and something definitely happened.  Thirteen people died that night and16 lost their lives. ”

Janine had no follow up and as she tried to think of anything to keep her co-worker’s attention she realized Jack had won, if you can call it winning, because she was never going to be able to tell that story again.

Becoming one of my little secrets

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I don’t exist, well…technically I don’t exist.  What I mean to say is that no one who has ever met me would admit to it.  Which is basically the same thing.

It is an interesting state of being, namelessness.  It offers amazing amounts of opportunity to those creative enough to make use of it.

Let me explain.  People notice things, but not a lack of the same thing.  For instance…your car being repossessed surprises and upsets you, but its lack of repossession elicits no response.  Now more specifically dead bodies, when found, cause quite a stir.  Question after question. Was it natural, murder, suicide?  Who was this person, and how did this happen?  Who could have done this, and why?  These questions can echo out into unforeseeable situations.  However, if no body is found then no one reacts.  Of course there are exceptions, but the number of people who make as many waves by being missing as they do by being dead is relatively small.

I make the latter happen.

Do you regrettably, have a little problem that needs disposed of?  I just might know of an open grave that could be of service, a foundation ready for concrete, or a half full barrel of sulfuric acid.  And for the right price your little problem can become one of my little secrets.

So if you find yourself in a sticky situation you better wish upon a star that I find you and your bank account worthy…because Jiminy Cricket ain’t got nothing on me.

To Die a Natural Death

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I know what kills me. 

Strange isn’t it.

Have you ever thought of how it is that deaths are considered natural.  I mean if anyone over the age of let’s say 75 is found to have expired in the night there are no sirens or even questions really.  They are dead and if its a surprise its not shocking, but natural. 

Well I am much younger than 75 and I can hear my sirens coming.  If only they could ask their questions to me.

As it stands they will not be able to, but you, you, can know the story of me.

Let me start with the basics I am 23, a college graduate with all the bright promise of a future extending before me in all directions, and I have always fancied myself as fearless.  Now I don’t mean that you couldn’t scare me, because I very easily startle, I mean that I go for things other girls I grew up with wouldn’t.  I left to go to school, out of state, I am not yet married with children, and I live alone.  Now I’m brave not stupid.  I lock my doors, use my security system, and sleep with Sweetums, my Irish Wolfhound.  So some of my fearlessness is born of others, but still for a 5’8″ transplant from the Midwest I think I’m doing pretty good here in Philly.

So in case you need a better visual reference I am one of those girls you would walk past.  Though I am tallish I consider myself rather plain.  As a matter of fact -ish might be the best description of me I could give.  For instance at 5’8″ I’m tallish, my shoulder length hair is brownish, meaning that I would never pass for a true blonde or brunette, and I have hazel eyes which tend toward being greenish.  I have a moderately athletic body type which I give credit to Sweetums for, as I must run to keep up with him and use my upper body strength to keep him from the food vendor’s wares.

Well there you have it nothing special about me so, why the death? Good question.

My fairly small group of friends consists of my two former college roommates, Ashley and Maria, the four other interns who I share the “bull pin” with, Greg, Tracy, Raj, and Lynn, their significant others, and finally Mark.  Mark is my version of an ideal boyfriend, he has classic good looks, dark blue eyes and sandy blond hair, he likes my friends, and takes me serious though he can be a complete goofball.  We met by chance on one of the SEPTA buses, I was on it to get to the airport and he was on it to get to work.  I was reading, one of my favorite past times, and crying as one of the main characters had just died.  He offered me a klenex and asked if I was okay.  When I explained the tears while suffering from both a drippy nose and an extreme blush he laughed, a lot and loudly.  By the time we reached his stop I had his number.

Over the next three months we talked and met up casually for drinks or coffee then Mark asked me on an actual date of dinner, a movie, and dessert.  That was all she wrote, from that point on I was hooked.

So you must be asking yourself, simple life, small group of friends, no red flags right other than living by myself in a city such as Philadelphia.  You’d be right too.

Everything had been going great I had a job, friends, and a guy in my life.  Only hiccup was that Mark was next in line for a promotion at work which would result in his relocation to Boston.  So I had become the sad depressing friend who brings everyone down; alternating between teary silences and angry outbursts.  Mark hated that I was so upset but with the upcoming move he had more on his plate than a sad girlfriend, so my friends picked up his slack.  I was invited to girls nights, movie marathons, and any other event they could scrounge up.  Surprisingly Greg and Laura were my biggest champions in any moment of emptiness I could call them up and never feel like a third wheel.

Mark left, I was proud and happy for him.  We had decided to stay together, he wold have to come back to Philly at least once a month and there was no time like the present to visit more of the Northeast, in my opinion, specifically Massachusetts.  It would be hard, but it would work.  So after a tearful goodbye I took the SEPTA back home.  Everyone had wanted to meet up for drinks, but I bowed out as gracefully as I could promising next weekend would be better.  Instead I opted for a long hot shower, where tears could fall freely without judgement or notice, and the unopened bottle of moscato wine.  I’m not proud of myself, drinking alone while watching t.v. in the dark was not a very mature way of dealing.

Sometime after I had finished the bottle and started watching bad reruns my doorbell rang.  It was Greg, a very upset Greg at that.  I opened the door immediately.  He told me about some trouble he and Laura were having and that she had given him his walking papers.  I told him there was no way this would hold up they were great together she would calm down just wait it out and see.  He shook his head so violently my head ached in sympathy.

“No we’re done.”

“How can you think that, Greg?  You love each other.”

“Not for a long time now.  I’ve just been waiting for the right moment to tell her.”  He looked right at me then my mouth hanging open in my haze of wine and surprise.  “I love someone else.”

“That’s some low shit Greg,” I said sitting next to him on my couch, “How could you do that to Laura?”

“But now I can be with the person I love, and you can be with me.”

The sentence didn’t even register until he had jumped on me pinning me against the couch, kissing me hard, hands everywhere.  I bit his lip and slapped his face.  “What the hell Greg?” I was now standing and backing away from the living room.

He stood and looked out the window as he gingerly touched his bleeding lip.  “I’ve waited for you, was always there for you…”

“As a friend,” I interrupted frantically.

“You are mine now, screw Mark and Laura they could never hold a candle to us.”

He jumped forward slamming my head back into the door frame, pulled me up the stairs to my bedroom, and threw me on the bed.  As he pushed Sweetums out the door I tried to make it to my window.  It over looked the street and a very large oak tree I was quasi sure I could shimmy down.  I never made it to the window though Greg was on me in an instant.  I fought with every ounce of strength I had cursing the wine and my need to lick my wounds alone, and praying that Sweetums could get past the locked door somehow.  He was still trying to make some kind of move on me because when I lashed out to hurt him he just tore at my pajamas or tried to force my mouth to his.  In our awkward battle we lost balance and he came crashing down on me, smashing the back of my head against the edge of my antique foot board.  I fell as if my strings had been cut. 

He was on me having his way never noticing the blood.

After, as my eyes were starting to go blank and my body continued to go numb all he said was “You should have loved me.”

He was gone, I heard the alarm tweet distress as he left, felt Sweetums lay beside me and worry my face with kisses, distantly I thought I heard sirens, then velvety darkness.

At 23 they would never call my death natural, my murder, but it was love that killed me and what could be more natural than love.

Closure

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     After two hours at her computer Ann still had no idea why Peter would be the target of grave robbery.  He had died in a car accident not even a month ago after a dinner meeting with then partner Daniel Strauffer.  The hour, after 9:00 pm, and location, The Flats, had made the hit and run a no contest drunk driver casualty, leaving the Widow Saunders with little to no closure.  The case was closed and on a shelf before it even opened, but in light of recent events Ann thought it might be time to talk with Strauffer.

Exhumed

    
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In the grey watery light Ann stood toe to toe with a dark chasm which reeked of two things fresh dirt, faint in the dew laden morning air, and decomp, a smell nearly impossible to miss.  Thinking of how the delicate wording of the dispatcher paled in comparison to the reality Ann radioed in, “Someone exhumed Peter Saunders.”  But why?

Note to Reader-

I am trying something new and hope you will help me along the way.  I am trying to build a story around a series if flash fiction episodes, however much more interesting to me is that I plan to do this one word at a time.  The title “exhumed” is the word I started with.  I am hoping for you, the readers, to provide my next word.  In this way writing the story will be as much of an adventure as I hope reading it will be.  Thank you in advance for participating, and as always please leave comments so I know if I’m still on the right path.

The four sided triangle

…Ring…Ring…

Operator:  911 What is your emergency?

Caller:  I…I need help.

Operator:  Sir, I can barely hear you, did you say you need help?  What is your emergency?

…Rustling sounds…heavy breathing

Caller:  He’s fine sorry to trouble you…

Operator:  Oh, no trouble, um…first responders have been alerted and will arrive at your address shortly.  Please stay on the line until they can asses the situation.

Caller:  That’s a bad idea. 

Operator:  We take all 911 calls seriously…wait, why would that be bad?

Caller:  We are indisposed at the moment, you were not supposed to be called…

Operator:  Can you describe your current, um…situation sir?

…Distant sirens…thunk…soft crying…

Operator:  Sir,  are you there, are you alright?  I can hear the sirens are the police there?  They have been alerted to a possible hostage situation…

…Squish…thud…gargled breathing…

Operator:  Sir can you get to the phone?  Are you…

…Crack…thud…loud sirens…”Hit the lights, Jesus…clear the house…

Operator:  Sir…can you hear me, are the police officers there?

…”Clear”…”Bedrooms all clear”…”What the hell is, is that a, triangle…”

Operator:  Pick up the phone!

…”Did you hear that?”…”Is this phone on?”…

Caller:  This is Officer Mathis, who is…

Operator:  I’m Vicky with 911 what happened, I couldn’t tell, it sounded…

Caller:  Ma’am, please, what can you tell us about what happened?

Operator:  There were two men one seemed scared, the other…calm.  The second one said not to send anyone but the background noise were so…questionable.

Caller:  Are you sure there were two voices miss, is that what you said?

Operator:  Yes, why.

Caller:  Because we have a man here…he was locked in, sitting in the dark, and

Operator:  The other guy must have heard the sirens and left.

Caller:  The house was locked from inside, but…well we think he killed himself.

Operator:  What, you think what…

Caller:  He’s…God, just read the report tomorrow huh?

Operator:  Tell me!

Caller:  Alright, just…I warned you, okay.  A man was found sitting in a kitchen chair, a triangular shape was drawn around said chair in what appears to be blood, said man’s eyes were placed on the line at his right hand side, said man’s ears were placed on the line to his left, and we believe it is the man’s tongue which was placed on the line directly behind his chair.  So…are, are you there?

…Thud…distant sobbing…

Caller:  Miss…Vicky…shit!

…Dial tone…End transcription.

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