Tuesday, April 30, 2013

“The Nature Club”

The Rules of the club called “The Nature Club”

Written one summer years ago by my nieces and nephew.

1)   Go out the exit.

2)   Go in the entrance

3)   Be quiet when the President is talking

4)   Do not sneak off

5)   Go to each meeting

6)   Don’t trash the club

7)   Do what ever the boss says to do

8)   Be quiet when the boss is talking, OK!

I live in the center of a southern University town and my very large back yard backs up to a small creek which has ambled through this city for a hundred years or more and is now used for rain drainage.    Like any creek bank in the south, my land is mostly sand and oak trees with old camellias, azaleas, dogwood and magnolias planted long before I was here.  My nieces and nephews used this yard to fight dragons, lead wagon trains to California and points west, fight pirates coming down the creek at night with only fireflies to light their way, and take turns swinging for hours on the old tire swing held by Bill, the mighty Chinquapin Oak’s, lowest limb.   There is a climbing tree which has been known to house more than three kids at a time, there is a section of the patio under the gazebo called, ‘the dangerous place where angry old people in wheel chairs will jump out and chase little kids with a stick’, and there is a section in the back corner of the fence down by the creek under ancient over-grown gardenia bushes, called the ‘club house’.  This was the favorite place to be once all the other adventures of the day were over.  Snacks were served at this time, many times popcorn or marshmallows and on good days, a dill pickle wrapped in paper towel and always tin glasses of water from the hose. 

The kids would rake leaves into paths going in and coming out of the overgrown haven of the club house. Thus Rule #1 and Rule #2.

Sitting on my porch I could hear the squeals of delight when all were in agreement and the cries of anger and aguish when disagreements occurred. It was usually pretty noisy at one of their meetings. Rule #3.  

When this anguish would persist the youngest would throw the lower lip out of joint, leave the meeting in defiance and come to the porch. Rule #4. 

When a meeting was called, all in the yard had to comply.  Rule #5.

When a marshmallow or popcorn war ensued, you could count on Rule #6.

The loudest niece was always chosen or voted herself in as president or ‘boss’.  Rule #7.

Since the gang wasn’t always happy about this choice of ‘boss’, the boss had to make Rule #8.

The ‘OK’ on the last rule was a compromise the boss made when I suggested she not be so ‘bossy’.   I told her to ask nicely.

These little hand written, badly spelled rules are the dearest thing to me, but if you look closely you will see they are universal. 

The kids now grown into young adults still talk about the ‘Club House’.  It hasn’t changed, there are still ropes hanging from branches, old plastic child garden chairs buried in the leaves and an occasional string of mardi gras beads left from a parade of small kids with wagons full of stuffed animals and dolls marching to the music of a badly played harmonica.

I say to my friends who are just becoming parents or grandparents.  You have ten years.  The first two are baby years, and after twelve, the kids are smarter than you and are toooo sophisticated to be fun anymore.  That leaves three to eleven for kids to be the greatest gift this world knows.  I hope you all have a climbing tree in your backyard and maybe a club house.


Monday, April 29, 2013

The Courtship www.fjwilson.net

The Courtship
     By F.J. Wilson
Every afternoon at four o’clock, Harmon left his job and walked the two miles down the country road to Jewel’s house.  There he would take off his hat, greet her mama and daddy, accept the cold bottle of coca cola Jewel handed him, sit on the porch swing and pass the afternoon away in a well rehearsed courtship. 
“We sure need rain.”  Mr. Flurry said and rocked in the old porch rocker.
“Yep.”  Harmon answered nodding his head and pushed with the heel of his shoe to move the swing.
“I put up fourteen jars of squash and ten jars of corn today.”  Mrs. Flurry said.
“Good, good.  Yours are the best in this county I reckon; mighty fine for a winter’s supper.”  Harmon complimented and took another sip of his coca cola.
“I was thinking about giving myself a perm.”  Jewel said and looked to see his reaction.
Harmon nodded his head and looked out over the freshly mown yard across the street.
“I see the Vanders have a new gate.”  He announced to the three on the porch.
“Yep.  Bout time.”  Mr. Flurry answered.
At five o’clock on the dot, Harmon would thank the Flurry’s for the coca cola, pat Jewel on the shoulder and walk back down the old country road.
At five-thirty, Jewel would put supper on the table and the three Flurry’s would sit to eat.  At six-thirty Jewel would sit on the porch with a love story from her “True Romance” magazine and dream of Harmon asking for her hand in marriage after saving her from marauding Turks or villainous cowboys.  At eight o’clock, she’d get into her nightgown and join her daddy in the sitting room to watch TV until the Star Spangled Banner awakened them at the end of the viewing day.  Rolling her hair in sponge rollers she’d think of Harmon and wonder what he was doing at the very same moment.  Sleep came easy in those days and morning came soon.
Harmon would reach his house, feed the dogs and make himself a little supper.  He’d read the newspaper, watch a little TV and go to bed.  Life was easy and promising.  He had been looking through the Sear’s catalogue for new furniture, but he thought it only fair that Jewel have a hand in choosing it.  He planned to propose on her birthday.
Harmon decided to marry Jewel when he was twelve years old.  He walked her home from school the four years of high school carrying her books and kissed her once after a school dance.  Later he wrote her detailed accounts of the weather and his studies from the Jr. College he attended out of state, and he gave her his college ring to wear on graduation day at which time he kissed her again.  The last four years he had made the same walk every day except Sundays.  On Sundays he would come for dinner after church and leave before nap time around two o’clock.
On a bright sunny Thursday Harmon made the usual walk down the old country road, opened the white picket gate, walked up the brick walk to the Flurry’s porch and greeted Mr. and Mrs. Flurry.  Jewel opened the old fridge and panicked to realize they were out of coca cola’s.  This had never happened and it was mighty embarrassing for her and her family.  She quickly poured a glass of sweet iced tea and walked to the porch.  She handed Harmon the iced tea and sat on her usual side of the swing.  Harmon took the tea and said nothing.  He wasn’t fond of iced tea and he was quite sure Jewel knew this.  He drank a few sips of the strange beverage, kept an eye on his watch and at four thirty he said his good-byes and left. 
Now change comes to every life and sometimes it’s easy and natural and sometimes it is devastating.  To country folk change is only acceptable and natural when it has to do with weather or crops.  Daily habits are set in stone and when changed can cause a major upset.  Jewel handing him the iced tea was so foreign to Harmon he had to think on it.  What did it mean?  What was she trying to say to him?  She had been a little distant lately, was this her way of getting rid of him?  He was in a quandary and he didn’t like it one bit.
Jewel wondered why Harmon left so soon.  Was it something she said?  She went back over the visit and relived every word, every gesture and could find no reason for his early departure.  It couldn’t be the iced tea that was an embarrassment on her part and shouldn’t affect him in any way.   His leaving early threw the whole house off as there was thirty minutes with nothing to do.  The Flurry’s spent it on the porch rocking, drinking iced tea and swinging the old swing. 
“We out of coca colas?”  Mr. Flurry asked.
“Yes, I’ll pick some up tomorrow.”  Jewel said.
At five o’clock Jewel went in to fix supper and almost burned the biscuits worrying why Harmon left so soon.
Harmon didn’t go back to the porch Friday, nor Saturday and after church on Sunday went to the little diner down the road for Sunday dinner and wondered why Jewel had turned his life so upside down.  His brother told him to ask her what was going on, but that would never happen.  Harmon had friends who were dumped by girlfriends and went crawling back begging.  That just wasn’t in Harmon’s nature.  If she didn’t want him around anymore, then by damn, he would find himself another girl friend, but not yet.  He needed time to clear his head and mend his heart.
Jewel was beside herself.  Had Harmon found another girl?  Was he going on with his life without her?  She was four years older than most girls when they got married, years wasted she’d never get back.  How could he do this to her?  She thought she should ask him, but her mama almost fainted and her daddy was appalled that she would even consider running after a boy who was clearly running away.  So life went on in the country.  Crops were planted, nurtured and harvested.  Babies were born, weddings were held, and each afternoon, Jewel sat on the porch drinking a cold bottle of coca cola watching down the road for a gentleman caller who never came.
Harmon found a young woman and got married. Jewel found a few men who would come calling, but none were Harmon and when his wife got pregnant she finally put him in a little box in her heart and began to look for another man to love.  She would see Harmon in town once in a while and they would smile and greet each other warmly.   Over the years, she got over him and learned to be happy. 
Harmon was miserable.  His wife never stopped talking and demanded attention from him he never knew how to give, but as he told his brother, he’d made his bed and that was that. 
On a bright summer morning, Harmon walked into the grocery store and ran into Jewel buying a carton of coca colas.  He tipped his hat and stood behind her at the cashier’s. To appease the awkward quiet, she said.
“Just buying some coca colas, wouldn’t want to run out like I did the last time you visited.”
“Oh shit.”  Harmon moaned under his breath.
The End

Friday, April 26, 2013

String, A Fable www.fjwilson.net

                                 By F.J. Wilson
There once was a young man so thin and so skinny the people in his village called him “String”.  Now String hated being ridiculed and he hated being too thin and ‘scrawny’ as his brothers called him.  His body or lack there-of had ruined his life and kept him miserable. 
The young men liked him as he was no threat to their courtships with the ladies.  The young ladies loved him for his good nature and caring ways.  He was the best young man they knew and the kindest; always caring and supportive of his friends but he would never entertain the idea of a romance as he felt they were appalled by his long legged, boney armed and sunken chested body.  Many had tried to cook for him and bake him sweet cakes and goodies in the hopes of helping him out of his self hatred, but… much to their chagrin he didn’t like food, he didn’t like to eat and he had no intentions of filling himself full of the ‘nasty’ tasting dishes they offered.  His mother, if asked could have told them she had tried for years.  Her larder was full of delicious treats just waiting for him to try, but he was only fond of a stringy beef jerky made by a local man in the butcher’s shop in the village.  He ate the jerky and nothing else.  He ate a piece for breakfast, a small piece before tea, a piece at lunch with a mug of clear well water and another piece at supper.  His teeth had miraculously escaped being harmed by the horribly tough dried meat and he actually had a rather nice smile.  His breath however was a different story all-together and most people avoided speaking face to face with the evil smelling words flowing from his foul mouth.  Usually a person would hold a shirt sleeve over their nose during the conversation under the pretense of wiping a nose or sweaty brow.  Over the years String began to see people as strangely removed and stand-offish when he came near, hiding behind shirt sleeves and handkerchiefs, and some even crossing to the opposite side of the street when they saw him approaching; he assumed it was due to his being so thin and ‘scrawny’.
Life goes on in a village of living, working, laughing people and in time there came to this happy hamlet a beautiful young lady named Esther.  She was so full of life she captured the collective heart of the community.  All, but one young man fell in love with her and wanted to stay near just to hear her tinkling laughter and sweet remarks.  But the skinny one, the miserable, jerky-eating, would-be suitor didn’t love her, he adored her, he worshiped her as his very own goddess and for the first time in his life he knew he had to find a way to change himself and be worthy of courting her.  He asked his brothers what to do and he asked his mother, but they only reiterated what they’d said for years, “Eat something.”  Finally he went to the village doctor and asked for help in overcoming his malady.
After a thorough exam and a million questions the doctor gave his diagnoses.
“You must go to the blacksmith and ask for his magic.  I can do nothing for you.  You need magic.”
“The blacksmith?  Magic? But he is a large sweaty lout with dirty clothes and matted hair.  His very appearance defies any sign of magic.”
“You must look again, String.  This man is the perfect specimen of manhood with his wavy black hair, blue eyes and well developed muscles up and down his body.  Come with me.  It’s starting to rain.”  String followed the doctor out of the apothecary and across the square.  They walked up the steps to the town gazebo/band-stand and sat in the shadow of a large oak tree.  The thunder boomed and the rain fell in buckets and soon the blacksmith came out of his barn without the big leather apron and worshiped the rain.  He threw his arms in the air and enjoyed the cool shower.  Soon his clothes were wet and plastered to his muscular chest, down his strong arms and his mighty legs.  He walked around the square enjoying his shower, running his fingers through his thick hair and washing his face in the cool rain.  He was indeed, the perfect man and very handsome without the dirt and sweat the rain washed away.  String would give anything to look like the ‘smithy’.  This handsome man could easily have magic in his soul.  String felt guilty for judging the smithy’s dirty appearance; a dirty appearance gotten from hard work and dedication to his craft.  He wanted to look like smithy and he wanted to have a job as important as smithy.  He would do whatever it took.
“What do I have to do?”  He asked the doctor.
“Go to him.  His magic will help you if you do what he says.  Many have asked for help but few have followed his wise advice.  String, you must do what he says and never question.”  String promised the doctor two fat hens for his advice and walked back across the square to the blacksmith’s barn.  String had never felt such passion, his life was about to change for the better and he was ready, able… and more importantly, willing.
“I’m told you know magic.”  He asked the big smithy standing over the very hot horse shoe pounding it into shape with his hammer.
“Yep.”  The smithy said.  He dipped the red hot horse shoe into a bucket of water, waited for the awful hissing and spitting to stop and turned to String and looked him up and down, smiled a little smirk and put his tools on the big wooden table.
“You want to win the heart of that new girl in town, what’s her name, Esther.  I’ve been watching you follow her around the square like a skinny love sick puppy.  I’ve seen her look lovingly at you also. If you want to change in order to win her, you may be closer than you think.”  He stood back and watched String’s face waiting for an answer.  String was at a loss.  He didn’t think he was close to winning Esther’s heart.  The smithy was wrong about that; Esther was above loving anyone as skinny as he.  String was sure of it, but he also knew he wanted her more than he’d wanted anyone in his whole life and if he didn’t win her, he’d be miserable forever; he knew it, way down inside, he knew it. 
“I just need your magic to make me strong and handsome.”  He was twisting his coat tail into a strange knot and was surprised when the smithy slapped his hand and caused him to let go of his coat tail.
“You’re not going to win her heart with a wrinkled coat, son.”  He sat on a large saddle draped over a box and addressed the love sick String.
“I can and will… help you, not because I think you are worthy of this young lady’s affections, but because I feel sorry for you.  I too was once a bag of bones, all knees and big feet.  I know how it feels to want to be like everyone else.”
“But you aren’t like everyone else, you are better… bigger, stronger and you know magic.”  String hoped he wasn’t too gushy with his compliments; men like the smithy didn’t like groveling.   “I will do anything you say.  I am ready to conquer a dragon if need be.  I want to be handsome.”
The big smithy laughed and rubbed his chin.  He stood and took String’s shoulders and turned him around, feeling his boney arms under his sagging coat and putting his big hands around the boney thighs of the young man.
“Open your shirt and show me if there is a chest under there, boy?”  String opened his shirt. 
“Well, by George, you have a carpet of hair across the bones you call a chest.  Good, very good.  There is a man here we just have to bring him out into the open.”  The smithy thumped String’s chest and laughed good naturedly.
“We will start today, this very moment.  What have you eaten today?” 
Here it comes, thought String.  More ridicule.  String told the big man about his beef jerky breakfast.
“Fine, fine.  That is a good start.  Now, you will go home, eat a dozen eggs, a ham steak and a boiled potato and come back to me.”
“Oh, but you don’t understand, I don’t eat.  I hate food and I will be sick.”
“Fine, then go away and don’t waste my time.  I’m busy, please leave and don’t bother me again with your silliness.”  The smithy turned back to his work.
“No, I’ll do as you say.  My ma will be gladder than glad.  I’ll return after I’ve eaten the mess, I mean meal.”
“Bring your ma back for proof.  I will not have my time wasted.”  He turned back to his work and String half walked half ran out of his barn.
The rest of the spring and summer, the smithy worked his magic with String.  The young man was told to swim across the lake and back twice a day, he was to climb the mountain with a heavy pack, up and over and back once a week, he was given a small anvil and was told to lift it over his head ten times a day and the magic went on and on.  Each new magic spell, String would balk and the smithy would threaten to stop his magic, but in the end, String knew he had come this far and breaking the magic spell at this point would be a bad thing.  As the summer progressed, String’s mother’s larder was running low on food, and many of the town girls were happy to bake for the young man growing out of his clothes.   They began to bring good food daily for an opportunity to just gaze and swoon over the new muscles and spreading chest, of this old friend who’d been so much fun, but he didn’t notice them and they went away with hurt feelings and felt ignored.  By fall, he was almost as big as the smithy and was apprenticing in his blacksmith shop.  His life had changed for the better due to the smithy’s magic and he was almost ready to approach the love of his life.  
He was now courted openly by the young women of the town including the beautiful Esther, but he turned all offers of walks and dinners away as he was not yet handsome enough.  He was having the tailor make him a new suit of clothes and then he would make his move on his love.  But as each week passed, he wanted to gain a few more pounds, add a few more muscles while he still had the magic. He was a young man on the verge of happiness.  Soon, he would be a perfect man and good enough to approach Esther and win her heart.  Not yet, but soon, very soon.
Albert rode into town on an old brown mule and tied him to the hitching pole of the post office.  He was short and fat and his bald head shown like glass when he took off his hat.  Esther saw him from across the street and ran to him, hugging him around his jovial belly, burying his head in her bosom, and crying with joy.  It wasn’t long before the whole town knew about the strange suitor who’d come from far away to ask Esther for her hand in marriage.  The couple was honored and celebrated all over the area. Women wept at the happiness of the young couple, while men scowled with disappointment at the loss of the beautiful Esther. 
Albert and Esther were married and moved away by the time String returned from a long trek over the mountain carrying his large heavy pack on his broad muscular shoulders.
“Your magic was supposed to win me my love.”  He wailed at the blacksmith in total misery.
“No, my magic helped you build a perfect body.  That is what you wanted and that is what my magic gave you.”  The smithy turned back to his work.
The End

Monday, April 22, 2013

Jazz, A story of a dog. Please visit my website. www.fjwilson.net Leave a comment if you like my stories.


                                                By Nita Wilson

     The little parsonage stood proud and friendly on an old country acre outside a small town in North East Mississippi.  The little family was nestled safely in the loving energy of all those who’d lived in the little dwelling before.  I was a welcomed visitor and made comfortable by the hospitality of the family and the little house itself.  I was out of work having just evacuated from New Orleans and the horrors of Katrina.  Finding myself middle-aged, alone and trying to find work in a career crippled by the great storm and inhabited by fast paced combative young people, I was feeling very sorry for myself.  I’d lost confidence and thought this little out-of-the-way place with my extended family was the best place to be for recuperation.
     The yard was mostly crab grass, gravel and weeds, mowed weekly by the young minister and his son, but the beauty of the place didn’t rely on well-groomed lawns and landscaped shrubbery; it was the yard’s well worn years of childhood’s play that gave it such charm.  
     The property bordered dense Pinewoods; the big trees almost virginal in their beauty and size.  The woods had so much undergrowth and tangled vines that exploring them should have been out of the question but… I felt the call… the pressure… the sudden undeniable urge to investigate this quiet place of such verdant life. I was struck by an intense desire to risk the vines and brambles to see what treasures were hidden in this dark world that wasn’t mine. So in spite of my better judgment, I made it over the broken fence of barbed wire and rotting posts.  Had this fence been put up years ago to keep something in, or something out?   The dense brier and nettle bushes caused stinging scratches to be dealt with later, and most assuredly ticks and redbugs, or chiggers as we’d called them in childhood, but I’d started and couldn’t go back. The ancient layers of pine straw under my feet held decayed bits of forest life and probably snakes and crawly things I didn’t want to encounter.  Moving quickly and hoping to out-step any snake ready to strike, I came to an opening and stopped short.  A clearing in the trees created a small chamber so soft and lovely it could’ve been home to wood nymphs and fairies.  “A clearing in the thicket” was a phrase that came to mind and I felt the souls of all the deer and animals that used this place as a safe haven for sleeping and birthing. The sense of peace was spiritual in its comfort and I saw the reason I was summoned.  Across the clearing and half falling onto the ground in a natural desire to become compost was a wooden grave marker.  Carved out of Oak and rounded in the shape of common tombstones it called out to life passing by; begging not to be forgotten.
          Our Dog and Friend 1936 – 1950.
     There are times in your life when you know something, half tangible, half spiritual.  I saw Jazz there, smiling and wagging his tale, glad to be noticed once again after so many years of not being.  I sat on the ground next to the old marker and asked the questions anyone would ask… questions about his family, his life, his death; there were no answers but I knew he was lying next to me. I felt my own self-inflicted misery lifting as one does when visiting an old friend, and I wanted to put my hand on his grateful old head, lying over crossed paws, happy to be in the company of a familiar being.  I stayed for about an hour and then it was time for me to go back to the little parsonage, back through the brambles and briers, back past snakes and crawly things and suddenly I didn’t want to make the trip back.  But just as sure as I was summoned into the woods in the first place, I watched as Jazz lead the way farther into the woods and I followed.  There were no brambles only pine straw and tall trees and after a short while I walked out of the woods onto an old paved road that led back to the church and the little parsonage from a different angle. I didn’t feel Jazz with me any longer and I realized he had boundaries in whatever world he inhabits and had come as far as he dared and  returned to his lonely existence.
     I told the young minister about Jazz and asked if he’d go visit on occasion.  Thinking this would be a wonderful lesson for his small children I offered to show him the way.  He was kind as he explained that one didn’t ‘go visit’ Jazz, but when Jazz wanted your company he summoned you.  I hadn’t discovered anything new to this little community, they were aware of the miracle of Jazz and his love, long before I came to visit.
     There are times in your life when you know you shouldn’t, but you find yourself envying people.  I envied the people living in this little spot of nowhere Mississippi and their knowledge and appreciation of a wonderful dog that had lived and died but stayed among them. 
          The young minister and his little family will move to other country churches.  They’ll leave their energy in the little parsonage along with the families before them and Jazz will always be there to welcome the new and comfort all who visit.  Thanks, Jazz, you’re a good boy.               
                                        The End

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nelda Rose Please see my web site for my novels at http:/fjwilson.net/ Thank you for visiting my blog. Please leave a comment.

By F.J. Nita Wilson

Nelda Rose stood on the train station, listening to the whistles and cat calls from the young men going off to war.  The radio in the little stationmaster’s office played “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”, but she could barely hear it for the roar of the train going into the future without her.   From the crowd of men and boys, hanging out of the windows reaching to touch the skirt of her dress she saw a boy… maybe eighteen. He was standing still and handsome in the cross section between two cars; his eyes looking into hers, asking questions she couldn’t answer… would she wait for him?  She watched him until the train passed down the track and even after. She could still feel the questions from those eyes and wanted so badly to say, “Yes”.  She was awakened by a baby’s cry.
            The sun was already up; she’d overslept. She dreamed this dream for the hundredth time but in the cold light of day, there was no baby crying, as there were no babies left to cry.  They were all grown and gone.
Nelda Rose was the oldest of twelve children born to tired parents on a tired piece of land in the heart of pine trees and wild sumac in the woods of Mississippi.  She’d never had a childhood or girlhood nor had she ever been to a dance.  She didn’t remember a time she wasn’t carrying one of her mama’s babies on one hip, and pushing another in a hand-me-down stroller so worn out and wobbling from so many walks, it was a miracle it moved.  Her one solace… as she got bigger the babies got smaller but there were always more.
When she was seventeen she was carrying her own baby on her right hip and one inside of her, and her young husband had left to live in the bottom of a whiskey bottle.  His eyes; unlike the eyes of the young soldier on the troop train, had never asked the questions.
She moved back home and finished raising her mama’s babies and her own babies and her mama’s grandbabies until the last grandbaby left home at fourteen to follow a bad man with a carnival up to Memphis. 
Nelda Rose turned thirty-nine without a baby on her hip for the first time in her life.  But this year God blessed her with ‘pretty’. Truth be told, she’d always been pretty, but no man ever said the pretty words; just the young soldier’s eyes declaring her beauty in her faded memory and recurring dreams.  Discovering she was pretty came swiftly and unexpectedly.  She’d gone to town to send a package to the daughter in Memphis, and twenty dollars to pay the gas bill.  She saw her reflection in the window of the little post office; a beautiful woman standing ghost like, trim and willowy with soft curls falling around her face. She walked around for days looking in mirrors, window reflections, and the lids of old coffee cans seeing if the pretty was still there or if it’d passed like the man on the train.  On the evening of the third day Nelda Rose approached her mama shelling peas on the back porch.   
“Mama, I think I’m pretty?”
“Speak up girl; I can’t hear you when you mumble so.”
“I said, I think I’m pretty, Mama.”  Emotion and embarrassment crept into the second saying, restraining a need to run up to her mama and fling her arms around those strong shoulders, but she stood still… waiting to see the reaction.  Maybe she’d been wrong, maybe her mama would put things right and she’d go on as before. 
Mama put down the pan of half shelled purple hulls and looked up at her oldest and prettiest daughter.  The only child left at home now, her right arm, her constant and sweetest companion… the child who hadn’t had a childhood, very little love, no attention but… never complained. How had this sweet soul gotten to be this old and not known she was the prettiest woman in the state of Mississippi? 
“Nelda, baby you know you’re beautiful. What’s all this about?”  Mama was so proud of her for not letting her beauty turn her head by the devil’s vanity.
“I didn’t know it, Mama. I think maybe it just now happened.”  Nelda Rose had considered that possibility.  Maybe God decided to make her pretty one day, and in his infinite wisdom bestowed the gift of beauty on her; a modern miracle so small nobody but herself would notice, but what was she to do with it?  The only miracle was… Nelda Rose had time for herself. There was time to see herself in the stove hood while heating the coffee pot, and God knows she even had time to put on a little lipstick instead of biting her lips for color on her way to church.
“Honey, I just don’t know what to say.  Are you tell’n me you didn’t know you was pretty?”
“Yes.” She sat on the porch swing next to her mama. 
Mama had always envied her daughter her good looks, and looked for the same in her own face, but too many years and dirty floors had taken any resemblance of pretty she ever had. 
Of all her children this one should have had beaux bringing bouquets of Zinnias and wild honeysuckle on those long, sultry summer nights.  There should have been men walking up the long sandy driveway carrying gifts with promises of love and happiness; suitors with handsome good looks and good jobs.  There was never a one except that no-good husband of hers that came down the lane for a couple of years to use her up like a bag of rice and then move on to the next bar.  This girl had no time for life; she had no time for romance and she had no time to dance, and the guilt of this sat on mama’s shoulder like a big black crow.
Mama went inside and brought out a framed picture. Nelda Rose looked at the little girl close up for the first time. It was she with long brown curly hair and large honest green eyes. There they were; perfect features for the face of a budding young beauty.  She actually existed before this moment; even before yesterday when she discovered her new self.  She was a laughing, happy young girl.  She must have enjoyed her life; she was happy in the picture. Nelda Rose was dumb struck. Where had her life gone?  Had each of the babies taken part of her and left her soul naked?  She did have one memory of herself though.  It had turned into a dream that was visiting her almost every night now.  But it was the memory of the event itself that so filled her with joy, she couldn’t give it over to the light of day for years.  She was sent to town to sell eggs.  She must have been about fourteen with a figure twice her age and on the way back she stopped for a passenger train going through town.  It was a troop train full of young boys standing and sitting chock a block in those train cars looking all the world like a muddy box of used crayons… too many greens and browns stuffed into the box helter skelter.  The whistles and calls from the boys headed to parts of the world she would never see filled her head and ears for days.  Those young yearning voices bellowing the eternal call of the male heading into battle leaving the young maidens unattended and untouched, still filled her mind.  But there was one among them who stole her heart and took it with that train.  She remembered those eyes staring into hers causing her body to awaken and yearn.  After her young husband ran off and she was lonely for the touch of a man, she’d remember those eyes and yearn again… still wanting to say, “Yes”.  She wondered if that boy on the train remembered her and if so where was he now?  How many of those boys lived through the war?  How many slept in shallow graves so far away from home.  Did he remember the pretty girl on the platform?
“Sometimes baby, life just goes so damned fast and out of control that it runs over people. Then when you try to gather all the broken parts of the one you hurt, and repair the damage…”  Mama searched for the right words for her apology.  “The person’s soul has already started healin’ and all you can do is just set back and ask Jesus for forgiveness.”
“Mama, why are you feeling bad… because I discovered I was pretty?”
“How can a mama never at least tell her girl she’s pretty?  Was I that unknowin’ of you, child?”
Nelda hadn’t meant to make her mama feel bad.  She’d been through so much. If Nelda had to take care of all those babies, Mama had to carry them for nine months wondering if her husband would send money that week or just show up for dinner one night and complain about the noisy kids.  Mama leaned into her daughter and traced her face with two fingers gently, like a moth with half a wing. 
“Nelda Rose, you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever saw and if it gives you pleasure to know that, I’ll remind you ever day.”  Mama got up off the swing with the picture held tightly to her breast. Nelda saw her painful progress down the hall to the bedroom.
The light was wearing out and dying under the big magnolia trees down by the creek. Birds were calling obscenely for each other to come to roost and Nelda was discovering the beauty around her.  She felt as if she should run in and start supper but there was no one to feed.  She wasn’t hungry and mama would probably eat a bowl of cereal in her room while listening to the radio. 
Nelda couldn’t believe how beautiful the old place looked this time of day.  How come she hadn’t seen it all these years, and how come she didn’t put some time away for herself in all those days of all those years?  How come she was so blind to the world around her?  She’d have trouble taking time for herself even now.  Wasn’t she just itching to make supper?  Wasn’t she even now wondering if the clothes were folded from the last batch off the line?  This was going to be hard; maybe Celine would come back and let her keep the baby.  The baby would sure be a lot better off with her and mama than God-knows-what was going on with Celine and her bad news boyfriend in Memphis. 
Her thoughts were interrupted by the scream of Mr. Flurry’s peacock. She could just see it through the trees; strutting its full plumage out by his barn.  There it was, just spreading beauty, like a fine perfume… a blast of ecstasy up against the browns and grays of the old cypress barn; bringing color to the world of dirt, horse manure and tractor tires.  Not a place for such a bird and his pretty feathers.  It was needed though, it had a job, the very presence of the bird reminded everyone that there was great beauty in the world to be appreciated and enjoyed. 
Mama turned on the radio and the strains of “The Tennessee Waltz” were floating around the porch gathering momentum and building a romantic desire in the lonely young woman.   Nelda Rose had never been to a dance.  She wondered again where the young soldier was. Where had he taken those eyes and his questions that she needed so badly to answer?
Jeb got off the train in Magee and stood on the old platform looking around to get his bearings… tall and slim, still nice looking, his shirt tucked and pinned under the stub of his left elbow.  He was still not sure he was doing the right thing but he wouldn’t stop now even if he thought he should.  He’d left his heart at this very station many years ago. The sight of the young girl saved him during the war. Her face and generous green eyes came into his head like spring on a bad winter while he tried to sleep in muddy trenches. Her eyes came out of his dark unconscious… waking him up and bringing him back from death after he was shot. Those eyes appeared sometimes out of nowhere during his life since the war, giving him hope, courage and the will to go on. 
Before his wife, before his children, this phantom girl was his imaginary love and lover.  His wife knew it; she lived with it for years and she died knowing it.  She had stopped… relinquished her space on earth and vanished into the world some call death… freeing him to seek what he needed and could no longer live without.
He felt it, the pulling, the knowing that he’d make this trip to find her.  He knew he’d find her; hadn’t he answered the need to be here?  Yes, he’d find her. This wasn’t the first time he’d loved her; he felt there were other lives and other places, but in this life he’d find her and she’d be ready for his touch and know him. Oh, yes she’d know him and his touch, and she would fit well against him in the dance.
He walked across the street to the little newspaper office.  He asked the questions of the old man sitting behind an ancient typewriter.  It was easier than he ever imagined it could be.  She was known as Nelda Rose and she was within walking distance.  He half walked, half floated out of the little newspaper office.  How electric this strange and happy feeling, like the first remembered Christmas, when you dream of a thing and there it is, real and touchable. But with the anticipation of love, the happiness turns to thunder bolts in your gut and you think you may die from having to contain the turmoil.   He needed flowers.  A gentleman caller didn’t walk down a country road to his ladylove without flowers.  He stopped by the side of the road and picked a handful of honeysuckle and wild jasmine. 
Nelda Rose was on the front porch watering the ferns she nurtured in the big clay pots.  There was someone coming down the long dusty drive.  Some vague feeling of remembrance touched her hairline,  crawled into her scalp and across her head as she took off her apron, and smoothed her hair.  She bit her lips to create color and became aware of her heart beating.  Would he ask her to dance? 

                                                The End


Thursday, April 18, 2013


By F.J. Wilson

Violet lived in the cemetery.  Not a little house outside the fence, not a small cottage inside the fence, but on and around her family vault.  Before she died and as she died, her papa hired workmen to refurbish, rework and polish the old marble of the vault, and commissioned a statue of a beautiful angel with large open wings to stand and keep watch at the door… the very angel on which her papa leaned to cry too many tears for too many nights after she was laid to rest inside.   The vault was very pretty and many of the souls still loitering in the old burial grounds were envious as theirs were not nearly so nice.  Some of these souls had gathered around as her papa came to visit each night… some had gone to the other side of the cemetery to give him privacy, and some approached Violet offering comfort as she grieved for her papa in his sadness.  All remembered their own family’s grief at their passing and became saddened themselves.  In time her papa stopped coming and she wondered where he was. 
Violet watched through the years as families came to bury loved ones or clean the graves and decorate tombstones and crypts for All Saints Day.  Since her death in 1917, styles changed, people changed and a person grieving a death one year would return a few years later to be buried, adding a new soul to anxiously filter into the society of souls waiting to go into a light that frightened rather than comforted them.  Many souls did go into the light, and were never seen or heard from again, but the ones who chose not to enter the blinding force were full of questions and begged the older souls for answers none had to give. Once she thought she saw her papa enter the big gate and go straight to the light without looking for her, but she couldn’t be sure it was him.  Violet was shy around the floating people in her world, they were either kind and clinging, or sad and weepy and neither was to her liking so she spent the months, years and decades around the big angel on her crypt watching as the living came and went not knowing they were surrounded by souls.  Large houses were going up outside the cemetery and things were changing.  Crypts were being torn down or moved and bones were being collected by descendants and taken out of the little cemetery.  Some graves were left intact but their tombstones removed and hauled off in trucks.  Souls were powerless to stop their stones from being taken, and this gave them more reason to be whiney and confused. 
The one soul Violet befriended was a young soldier killed in France in 1944, but his body wasn’t shipped home for decades, so he was new to her world and buried in the crypt next to hers, making them ‘kindred souls’ as he liked to joke.  His name was Jedediah and he asked her to call him Jed.  He was funny… light hearted, full of mischief and played pranks on the older souls cranky from years of being ignored by the Universe.
 “They’d cry in their beer if they could drink”, Jed liked to say about these cranky old once-living-now-dead ‘people’. He was not well liked by the sad souls lingering and mourning their own passing and the destruction of their final resting places, but he was a favorite among the young frightened entities looking for something to make death worth living. 
Violet had never been brave… even as a human she was a follower, not a leader and would not have made a pioneer of any kind; had it been up to her the country would end at the Mississippi River and the rest could be Mars for all she cared.  Her death had not given her courage, or peaked her interest in the unknown, so she was content to watch other people go into the giant orb as she stood to the side frightened by the bright entity she didn’t understand.  She was taught in Sunday School God would be at gates made of pearl when she died, but there had been no gates and no God, so she waited.  She waited for God and she waited for her papa to tell her what to do, but neither had been forthcoming.  
Jed said she had to find her own way; it was her destiny to finish her life and make it to the next one and she should have faith.  The very thought was so frightening she would change the subject when he started his ‘stuff and nonsense’ about going into the big light.  Over the next few weeks he convinced many of the old souls to go into the brightness, but some like Violet hung back and found other things to occupy their time.  Of late, Violet was counting the stars to see if their numbers increased as souls left her world.  It was a hopeless cause and she knew it, but she wouldn’t let Jed know it.  She did wonder though why he didn’t go into the light he professed was so wonderful.  She was working her courage into asking him.  Lately, souls had been released into the cemetery and went directly into the light, holding Jed’s hand and smiling, recognizing him as an old friend as they went.  He seemed to be the shepherd and they the  sheep, but were they going to be slaughtered or moving to a better pasture?  Besides, he wasn’t a shepherd; he was a soldier, a man soul like all the other man souls in the cemetery.  How could he know so much about the light? Finally Violet and Jed were the last two souls in the cemetery and it was time to go into the light or stay alone in the dark.  Jed walked toward the light and reached his hand back to her.  She shook her head, ‘no’ and shyly hung back close to her crypt.  He waved and smiled as he went into the light, but he left a message in her heart as he left.  “It is only the first step and the fear of being happy that will keep you from entering.” 
The world of the cemetery turned dark, the men came to take her
angel away in a big van, the bright light was gone and she knew she had made a terrible mistake.  Suddenly she had a great desire to be with Jed and her papa and as she stepped to where the light had been, she saw a spot of light in the distance becoming larger; she had a second chance, thank you dear God, another chance, maybe even a last chance to show her bravery and find her papa… this time she would be brave, she knew it… maybe.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Another Ghost Story, I'm really getting into these. This one has been re-worked for your enjoyment.


The Returning

                                 By F.J. Wilson 




A spirit was released the day the huge virgin pine was felled.  Dislodged from its nesting place in the three hundred year old tree; the spirit emerged slowly and followed the great tree as it was floated down the Pascagoula River to the lumber mill twenty miles away.  Large muscular men hauled the giant log out of the water and deposited it on the riverbank. The spirit; confused and angry hovered around the dead thing that had been its home. It watched other souls coming out of the water, lingering and mingling around trees that were living one moment and dead the next.  The big spirit gathered those souls into itself and grew.  It grew in strength and it grew in anger and it vowed to stop the men who destroyed its nesting place.  Some spirits felt the evil and escaped its power by going back into the big woods to find new trees and new lives.  But the great Pine spirit was not as easily assuaged as the young and began to take his revenge on the humans who were murdering the trees on a daily basis; ignorant and uncaring of the souls being displaced and abandoned.  These men, blind to the devastation of the land, and the little universes living among them, continued making a living off the misfortune of these unseen worlds. 

The Pine spirit’s first victim was an old man, carelessly working the great saw after too many years.  It was an easy job for the angry spirit; it took no energy at all really, just a quick breath of evil and the old man, lost in his own reverie of collard greens and corn bread for supper, looked up too soon and became part of a lady’s dresser. 

The funeral was sweet and conventional and only the little widow truly mourned.  No one suspected foul play.

“It was bound to happen sooner or later, and don’t we all have to go sometime?  He was too old; he should’ve retired years ago.  I warned him, but he wouldn’t listen.”  The old man’s boss told everyone at the funeral.

The young strong workers thought nothing of an old man’s tragic death.  It made morbid stories, telling of the blood and body parts strewn around the mill yard.  The story was told again and again over beers down at the local juke joint, until a wreck on the highway captured their sick attention and the old man became a bar tale forgotten.

So the little mill continued to kill the beautiful trees and the young men took over the saws from the old, and no one noticed the number of accidents produced by the big saws and the logs.  No one noticed that the young men were dying as well as the old, and their wives were dying in childbirth taking the babies with them. 

As the years passed, the Soul Eater Vigilante as the other trees named him lost his soul to the essence of evil.  What once was revenge was now a way of life.  His evil continued to grow and continued to be joined by the souls of other trees, especially the old and confused big virgin Pine, who didn’t make a quick transition from death to eternity, but were caught unaware by the evil. Their goodness trapped by their own fear, within the large evil.  The young Pine souls made quick their leaving; in the presence of such powerful hate, any good strong spirits that could’ve helped to release the caught souls, were swept away into the Universe to come again as young innocent saplings, but all remembered the Soul Eater even in their reincarnations.

Over the years, even the furniture and lumber made from the original Pine of the Soul Eater took on an ominous feel and began to rot and fall apart; floors began to sag and in the end, all became compost for a landfill.  But the huge evil kept growing until it spread passed the little mill, long since deserted due to the countless accidents and tragedies, and into the surrounding countryside.

Crops began to fail and farmers moved away, selling their small parcels of land to the modern developers to be used for large gaudy Mac’mansions.  Little communities and towns talked of the Pine Evil, and scared children into being good, but only a few believed its true powers.  The little communities became deserted and the young moved into the cities. The old community became known as ‘the country’. 

The evil liked the solitude he’d created.  Going into the cities for his mischief was too frustrating.  The evils that lived in the great cities were more powerful, and made fun of his country anger; so he found his victims among the campers and hikers who dared enter his woods and vowed vengeance on the evil spirits in the cities.  Some of his victims lived to tell the tales of his work, but most found death to be a sweet release from the torture he gave in large helpings.  The Soul Eater was good at his work. Getting into the minds of his victims, he would discover their fears.  He could produce death by fright in a heartbeat, or in most cases a stopped heartbeat.  Only the very ignorant could escape his mind play as their minds were too removed from the spirit world to fear it, but they became easy victims of their own carelessness… around snakes and old well’s hiding under thick carpets of pine straw and dead leaves. 

Lizzie bought the little deserted farmhouse in the piney woods so she could have quiet days and nights for her painting.  She’d been six years in New York, and had loved the energy, and taken advantage of the excess.  Everything anyone could want she’d had, but she had to work every minute of every day, of every week of the year, just to keep herself in the fast lane she’d chosen.  The last year was hard, over bearing and senseless. Her creativity had stopped and nothing inspired it to start again.  She came home for her father’s funeral and to mend a broken heart by a man who’d taken advantage, and mistreated her.  For the first time in six years, she realized how badly she’d abused the beauty of her roots and how returning to them could mend the spirit.

 Her soul had to recuperate and the little farmhouse was the perfect haven.  She bought it with the money left to her by her Father.  She knew he’d have loved it here in the shadow of the tall Pines, they both loved.  His stories of the evil Pine spirit that roamed the area terrified her as a child, making the “boogieman” seem harmless in comparison.  She’d bury her head in his chest when hearing the last moments of a man’s life being filled with the odor of pinesap and fear.  But, with her face buried in his chest, all she could smell was ‘Ole Spice’; his last cigarette and safety.  She’d forgotten these stories of so long ago, but moving into the little house brought them all alive to her again, and she thought she might paint the woods and capture an image of the horrible spirit in the trees. Lizzie always knew there were souls wandering the earth, but she’d never taken the evil Pine spirit as truth. It was just a local legend to scare children, and make little girls feel safe in their daddy’s arms.  Other people believed it though; enough to move away and start new lives elsewhere. She’d started a new life, but she came from elsewhere to start it here. 

Lizzie used her painting as a catharsis for her pain and she depended on it to help her now.  She was left by her lover, bewildered and deeply hurt, not understanding how a man can say such wonderful things from his heart; make you believe you are loved, and then walk away.  Times like these a girl could use her dad’s chest in which to bury her face.  Maybe if her mom hadn’t died so young, Lizzie would‘ve known better how to live in a relationship, how to watch for the pitfalls, recognize red flags, and know how to tell when a man lies.  But her mom died young and her dad was not the sort to give advice on romance, so she’d muddled along on her own, getting hurt more times than not.  Her father used to worry that she was too vulnerable, but he was her dad, he was supposed to worry.

Maybe this little house was just the place for her.  It’d already begun to smell familiar. The smell of pine straw and a faint odor of old cigarettes from the last owners wafted around her head as she walked down the hall, or as she was going to sleep.  She knew she should have the walls cleaned to rid the old house of the nicotine, but she didn’t want to just yet, at this time in her life she needed the smell of her dad.

The first night in the house, she dreamed of her mom’s funeral.  She was walking up to the front of the church, so large to a four year, the box the adults call a coffin is so big and her mom so small, there must be room for her to get in and go along too.  Then the black lapel with the white carnation bends down and picks her up and lifts her over to say good-bye to her mom.  Her mom is asleep and pretty in her beautiful white satin gown and robe that was for ‘special’ times. She is lying in white satin on a little satin pillow, and someone has placed red roses around her dark hair. Her grandma’s gold cross and chain are entwined in her hands, folded over her chest, like she’d sit up and put it on, as Lizzie had seen her do so many times, sitting at her old pine dresser.

Then her dad’s voice.

“Kiss mama, Sugah.”

Lizzie’s dad can hardly speak for the tears… love… and death, in his throat; all caught there, not knowing how to escape and release the pain that has settled and made a permanent home.  He lowers his little girl over the side of the open box into the arms of her smiling mom, who takes the little girl and kisses her over and over, laughing and squeezing her tightly.  Lizzie can feel the smooth satin of the robe and the loving arms of her mother, but she can still smell the elegant, fresh scent of her dad’s carnation mixed with the fresh smell of his clean suit, and once more, her life is good and blessed like it was a long time ago.  Then the dream changes and she melds into something resembling a lost fog, seeping through damp matted pine straw covering the ground in an old woods and she knows it has something to do with death.

When she woke the next morning, she expected to feel better.  Such a beautiful dream about her mom should soothe any pain, but she felt worse, somehow empty for the remembering.

Lizzie began to write each morning in her journal about her failed relationship, and the first few days the pain was heightened by the attention it was getting, but then over time… a soothing release, as the memories began to fade and she could face the wind of a new beginning.  She looked forward each morning to having her coffee on the little porch, writing in her journal and letting the truth unfold from her heart.  She knew she had made a wise choice in coming here, close to her roots, close to the Pines and their soothing whispers in the wind.

She’d been in the little house a few weeks when the dream came again, but this time she was in the coffin and a little girl was crying over her, tears falling onto her face and ruining the make-up so meticulously applied by the undertaker’s assistant.  She was irritated that the make-up was itching and running onto her pretty satin pillow.  Then her dad was looking down into her face with so much worry and pain that she woke immediately and turned on the light.  She hardly had nightmares, but the look on his face had really knocked the breath out of her and she needed reality in huge doses.  Lizzie turned on each light as she made her way to the kitchen.  Her heart still pounding, her hands shaking, she reached up into the liquor cabinet and pulled down the brandy.  She picked a juice glass out of the strainer by the sink and poured it half full.  She had all intentions of downing it in one swallow, but the fire that came with the first taste held her in check for a single sip.  The second sip was easier, and the third was beginning to do the trick.  Not enough Xanax in the world to calm what she just felt from her father’s face, only the liquid power in the brandy bottle. The soothing smell of the carnation on her dad’s suit came up from the bottom of the juice glass as she downed the last bit of brandy.

Sitting in the little rocking chair on the front porch of the little house feeling the effects of the drink, losing the effects of the dream, she began to form another painting of this place as she’d been pleased with the first one.  As she rocked, she wondered if spirits still lingered and why.  The breeze moved the old swing on the porch and it took on a slight and ominous sway that was not of the breeze, but she was too lost in her ideas and brandy as she rocked and thought.  She noticed neither the breeze nor the evil that sat so close to her, there, on the swing, next to her rocking chair.  The moon frowned at the mist of the bile colored Pine evil moving the old swing,  smiling and playing with Lizzie’s  very soul.  How many would have to die before the moon could look down and not see pain on this land?  But, the moon and the smell of the woods and the brandy had done their jobs, and Lizzie could return to sleep and dream again.  She had not noticed the Pines had stopped whispering days before.

So, the weeks passed and the dreams came more frequently and the ghost filled paintings found a good market, and were sold.  She painted more and more and the paintings became so terrifyingly real that the public went crazy over them and couldn’t get enough.  She began to write instead of paint and over the years, the books were made into movies and they all had the same ending; evil always won.  People said it was a new expression, a new art form.  Lizzie didn’t know anymore what it was; because it’d been so long since she’d had a thought of her own, she wasn’t sure she was writing. She felt she was just the fingers on the keyboard.  The computer had taken on a life of its own.  She didn’t know when or why, but she was as much a slave to the little gray box as she’d been to the lover who abused her and made her so unhappy. 

But Lizzie wasn’t unhappy anymore, she was ecstatically happy.  She lived in a state of euphoria, in love with a feeling that came so naturally and so lovingly to her bed each night; she trusted it with her soul.  It made love to her in her sleep; a handsome succubus, and kept her drugged with pretty words, beautiful images and good feelings, and promises of more.  She had no reason to eat, and no reason to take time for anything but writing the books on the wonders and sexual beauty of evil. 

There were bad things happening in the world relating to her stories and books.  Young people unhappy in their own lives from body and mind-changing hormones began to act out from the written evil in the books and on the screen.  The evil was so lovingly portrayed and promised a better world to these loved starved teens that many were killing their parents, because one of her characters told them to. They were killing their classmates, because the books said, “Yes, do it.”  The parents became outraged at the irresponsibility of the writer; the schools banned her books; and the churches banned her movies, and her sales doubled.

Lizzie was very rich and very ill and no one could contact her.  She stopped answering the phone and wouldn’t answer the door. She hadn’t bathed nor combed her hair in weeks and she was down to ninety-eight pounds.  Her teeth were rotting and her fingernails were misshapen and broken.  The house smelled of rotting food, urine and un-flushed feces.  The cat died from starvation and was lying halfway out of the bathroom window, decaying and awful.  The bedroom, however, was pristine white with an un-worldly quality of freshness.  Her beautiful white satin sheets and pillows were perpetually clean and fresh with the sweet smell of pine, as was she when she entered the room.  She became a goddess for the evil spirit, just for the walking over the threshold. She was cleansed and made beautiful again each time she entered the room, the sweet vestal virgin going to her rape, surrounded by the sweet intoxicating smell of fresh pine and the safe smell of carnations.  Each time she left the room, she became, again, the scum of her own undoing.

          Her publisher was frantic to hear from her.  Other than the manuscripts and movie treatments that kept flooding into his e-mail, he’d had no contact with her in months.  Her friends gave up months before, assuming in her newfound fame and fortune; she had snobbishly ‘outgrown’ their friendships.

The great evil Pine soul was happy living in the little gray box on the filthy desk in the little house by the big Pinewoods.  He’d found a home to replace the great Pine he was forced to desert and he was winning over the city evil which made fun of him hands down.  He could reach more people through this system, and all he had to do was keep this human happy and satisfied in her own unhealthy need for romance and abusive love.  He could enjoy this vessel, but she’d been getting weak and her fingers were not as strong as before.  He doubled his attempts at seducing her, he’d even added her father’s carnations to keep her off her guard, but she was getting weaker in the beautiful bedroom he preserved for her.  He had to get her to eat more food, but the rats and birds he killed and brought to her made her sicker.  If he could only get her to eat something, he could continue his work.  He’d have to think on this and decide what to do, and he knew he’d have to do it fast.  But the great evil had not counted on God’s wisdom and mysterious ways of fighting his nemesis.

The Baker family had lived in these Pine woods since deserting the militia in the Revolutionary War.  Two brothers, John and Arnold ran through Virginia and across the mountains of Tennessee in their desire to get away from their responsibility and the fear of being shot by the British.  They hadn’t stopped, except to sleep and eat, nor looked back until they were safely hidden in the great Pine forest of South Mississippi.  They found wives among the Choctaw… propagated, and became known over the generations as fore fathers of the country and veterans of the Revolutionary War.  As their fore fathers before them, the sons came down in the bloodline, thieves, deserters, cowards and drunkards until the last generation had I.Q.s lower than the catfish they tried to raise and couldn’t.

Jake and Zeke Baker were double first cousins and brothers.  No one asked what that meant for fear of the real answer.  Suffice it to say, they were the two stupidest men in the world.  They’d taken Zeke’s car on this particular venture driving up to see what mischief they could find at the little deserted house on the edge of the woods.  Neither knew why, nor questioned the strange need,  just felt strongly compelled to take this little journey.  Jake wanted to take his pick-up since there could be things to sell from the little house, but he asked while Zeke was cutting his toenails with his big hunting knife, the one he used on people who crossed him, and would hear no more on the subject, so Zeke was driving.  Zeke’s trunk was full of junk and stolen contraband, all cluttered in together for so long, some of the sellable items had rusted and ruined and blended in with the old food cartons tossed in with his fishing gear and the old clothes picked up on the sides of highways.  Zeke was always defending the things in the trunk, as valuable and worth a lot of money.

“Things back thar is valuble, and I don’t want’um stole out the house while I’m gone.  Now shutup bout my things.”

Which usually brought about the end of the argument, as Zeke outweighed Jake by a hundred pounds.

“You aint got no clue what’s in ‘arre.”  Jake whispered to himself as he spat a long stream of tobacco juice out the window at a stray dog on the side of the road.

Zeke drove half way up to the little house and turned off the engine to coast the rest of the way into the neglected yard.  Jake got out quietly first.

“Jesus God, Zeke, whatchu been a eatin?  You rotten.”

Zeke laughed, thinking Jake was trying to blame him for one of his own horrible just-ate-possum-yesterday, farts.

“First hen that cackles, Jake.”  As he stepped out of the driver’s side door, the smell nearly knocked him down.

“Damn, Jake, what’s that smell?”

There is no danger more frightening to a stupid man than the smell of death and rot.

Lizzie had crawled to the bedroom door before she died, just two feet from the beauty and love waiting for her in the wonderfully sweet smelling room. One hand reaching for the illusive love and safety that she’d sought all her life.  She died looking up, seeing her mother lower the lid of the beautiful white satin coffin over her, safe in her mother’s love.  The evil one had been thinking of his next book and hadn’t noticed that she hadn’t been near the desk in awhile.  He knew how to summon her when he needed her though.  He wasn’t worried; he just needed that next plot, the next great American novel, the Pulitzer Prize that had eluded him until now.  He knew this next one would bring followers and the prize.  He just needed the right venue.

Zeke went around back to see what was dead.  Jake went up on the front porch, both men frightened of finding something that’d make them vomit.  Dead bodies couldn’t scare them as they both knew ghosts didn’t exist; they had robbed enough fresh graves to know that.  But a rotting corpse, now that was different, that could make you lose a nice lunch and a few beers to boot.  Jake walked in the front door and called to Zeke.  The smell was the house itself, the fresh body stunk from being unwashed and the death stink hadn’t settled in as yet.  Zeke came around to the front door pulling his shirt tale over his face and stepped inside.

“Jesus, some people sure live like pigs, look at ‘is mess.  Anything  worth takin?”

Jake didn’t want to take anything.  This smell would linger on anything in the house for a long time and he was already beginning to gag.

“Naw, man, let’s get the hell outa here ‘fore they blame us for that.”  Jake pointed to Lizzie lying almost in the bedroom. 

“What’s a matter wit at?”  Zeke was looking into the fresh clean bedroom and comparing it to the rest of the house.

“I donno man, but I’m gonna puke if ‘n I stay here.” Jake was out and taking deep breaths before Zeke even crossed to the desk.

The computer was sitting open and idle with the moving stars saving the screen, keeping life going in the machine.  He reached down and typed with two fingers, searching for the right keys.

“M,Y,  D,O,G, H,A, S, F,L,E,A,S, hey this could be fun.  C’mere Jake, look at this computer.  I myte just tek me a lesson or two one day.”  Zeke closed the little lap top computer and reached for the plug; pulled it out of the serge protector and wrapped it around the little gray box.  

The great evil, fearless and strong felt, before he saw, someone other than Lizzie handling the computer.  He released the toxic odors so familiar for driving off unwanted visitors.  But they came back on himself; there was no escape for the smell.  It’d been trapped with him in the box.  Just as in the great virgin Pine, he was encased again, but with no escape and no power over this man who was so impertinent as to handle him and entrap him and defy his great evil.  The great soul, was dazed, how had this happened?  Where was Lizzie?  But his powers were fading, becoming soft and wispy; he couldn’t remember who Lizzie was or why he needed her.  He was drifting off to sleep.  He’d come back, as soon as he got out of this box, he’d be back.  Someone would open it and he would be…

Zeke stepped over Jake vomiting over the side of the porch and opened the trunk.

“I got myself a ‘puter, Jake. I’m gonna take some lessons.”  He tossed the gray box into the back of the trunk where it landed next to an old typewriter, with no keys; that he was going to fix and sell one day. 

“Get in Jake, and try not to hurl.”  The two drove down the lane and Jake wondered if a beer would make him feel better.  He picked up an old flannel shirt from under the seat and blew his nose, trying to get rid of the smell in his nostrils.

The state of Mississippi took Lizzie’s estate, which was considerable.  The National Fan Club bought the little house from the estate and made a museum: The Elizabeth Wallace Museum, but there was always the question of Lizzie’s computer.  It’d been reported missing from the house the day they found her body.  The board of directors of the little museum knew there must be other stories and even a novel left in the computer, so they offered a large reward for its return and advertised it for a solid week on the local TV and Radio stations.

Zeke was drunk again, watching the news on the Friday of the last announcement of the lost computer, and had just raised himself on one elbow to see what the reward was about when his wife came in from the bedroom (the resemblance between the two was uncanny, they looked like twins, though no one ever mentioned it) and stood in front of the TV. 

“Hey,” she screamed loud before his head could adjust to her volume.

“Don’t you ever wanna screw me nomore?  You just gonna set round an drank the rest of yore life?”  And with that, she turned off the TV and went back into the junk filled, filthy bedroom and shut the door.  Zeke, farted and went back to sleep.

The first blast of thunder didn’t wake Zeke or his wife.  The rain came down like water poured out of a bucket.  A tall Pine sapling swayed and bent almost double in the wind in Zeke’s yard.  It swayed so hard it finally snapped and hit the old car, crushing the trunk.  The rain began to pour in on top of the little gray laptop which in turn began to fill with water puddling in the floor of the trunk.  The storm stopped soon after and the whole woods felt clean and safe.  The moon smiled.

Zeke eventually took the computer to the museum for the reward, but the rain had destroyed it.  Once again in his life, he was the object of ridicule and laughter for trying to pass off this mildewed mess as Lizzie’s valuable computer holding stories not yet published, never knowing he was a hero to the world for the stealing.


The End