Posts Tagged 'halloween'

What about?


“Some people swore that the house was haunted.”

First he says, “The mortgage is upside down. There is nothing, let me repeat, nothing diabolical about that.”

She says, “Are you sure?”

He says, “What about the location?”

She says, “What about the creepy noises?”

He says, “What about the views?”

She says, “What about the footprints?”

He says, “What about the economy?”

She says, “What about the murder?”

He says, “What about the schools?”

She says, “What about the babies?” 

He says, “What about the interest rates?”

She says, “What about the banks?”

He says, “What about the appliances?”

She says, “What about the zombies?”

He says, “What about the low-e windows?”

She says, “What about the shadow of the weeping woman?”

She laughs. They stop for coffee.

She puts one pump of classic sweetener in her chai latte and says, “You’re right. There is nothing diabolical about a bad mortgage.”

He hesitates. He says, “Are you sure?”

She says, “Sure. What about the location?”

He says, “What about the howling?”

She says, “What about the recovery?”

He says, “What about the thousands of acres of clearcut and topsoil desecration?”

She says, “Hey, but what about the views?

He says, “What about digging through the gravesites of ancient Indians?”

She says, “What about the low-e windows?”

He says, “What about the blood stains that don’t wash off?”

She says, “What about the low interest rates?”

He says, “What about the incubus?”

She says, “What about the energy efficient appliances?”

He says, “What about the bite marks on the marble countertops?”

She says, “What about the parks and the botanical gardens?”

He says, “What about the sound of heavy footsteps on thick carpets?”

She says, “What about the excellent schools?”

He says, “What about the whispering and the ball that rolls down the hall?”

They park in the driveway and leave the motor running. The wind has died down; all is quiet and serene on this fall Friday in Hallow Park, a gated community.   

He says, or she says, “What about the realtor?”

She says, or he says, “What about the offer? What about this weekend? About 10 a.m.?”

Closing on October 1st, they have one month to pack and paint and have going away parties with live friends, and to announce their relocation on Facebook and Twitter. Everyone is happy for them; the tweets fly until the big day arrives.

Final tweet, October 31st, first night in the new house in Hallow Park:  “Some people swore that the house was haunted.”  Unfriended and seen no more, no one knows exactly what happened. Agreed upon is only one thing:

Nothing was ever the same again after that.



She is at a masquerade ball. She’s dressed as a skunk. Her husband as a raccoon. They pretend they are not together. She is hot in her skunk costume, smelling a sweet musky melon smell rising up from within the costume. I smell like an animal, she tells herself. Her little skunk nostrils flare and her tail rises up, as if to give absolute proof to that statement. She goes to the food table, which is decorated in prison gear, with balls and chains and convict striped tablecloth. She brushes her black and white tail against the table and looks at the food. Popeye is standing next to her, looking at the yam pie and the sweet potato custard. He chooses the yam; she is more interested in the Dagwood pile of cold cuts: salami, pastrami, bologna, ham, pimiento loaf, sweet pickles, hot pickles, cole slaw, iceberg lettuce, American cheese. She builds a mighty fortress of a sandwich and looks for a place to eat where she won’t be seen. She feels ravenous, predatory, nocturnal. Scott walks by in his raccoon coat and she sees that he, too, is sweating, and she controls an urge to go and smell him, rub her scent against his. She is a perfume scientist, blending pretty scents with predatory glands, mixing clove, sage, nutmeg, ylang ylang, lavender with musk, dragon’s breath, graveyard flowers, dirt, the smell of rotting underground. She blends it all together, stirs it with a licorice whip, makes an infusion and douses herself in it for this dead evening. She is someone’s dead relative, she knows that, but not whose, she’s not even sure what species she is now. The fumes she and Scott make rise together and settle over the potluck table, greenish vapors wafting, hovering, dispersing into the casseroles, the pasta salads and the sandwich fixings. The costumed guests wander by, pick at the olives and the little sausages wrapped in bacon. As the perfume settles on them, they fill their plates higher, higher, suddenly ravenous and revolting to themselves, until the entire party is rolling on the floor under the table, mashing foods into their mouths, into each other’s mouths, tearing at the flesh of the melon and the chicken with equal lust, equal abandon, and in the background they could barely hear, through their overpowering hunger, the minor chords of any organ in any moldy cemetery in any old movie with a theme that involves dismembered body parts, oozing bits, and smells that make the innocent turn faint and nauseous. There were no innocents at this costume party, on this Halloween, and all there were fed until they were hungry no more.


scary scaregrow

I will tell you the story of the scarecrow’s birth. He was born in a small deer farm near where the road passes not far from the second hand tire store. He was born in Bull’s Blood Junction, so small a town that pizza was unknown and meat might be jerky, might be carrion, and might not be had at all. An old town, Bull’s Blood Junction. People said in Bull’s Blood the rain runs red, and every man, woman and child in Bull’s Blood is anemic. This was, of course, because of the scarecrow, his sad life, the cutting, the pain, the heartache, the rotting seeds. That scarecrow, who started out in life just a broomstick and a worn-out petticoat, didn’t scare much of anything until his first Halloween, when Red Duncan brought a pumpkin to the house, and a knife, and a fair amount of whisky.

The first slice in a pumpkin’s head is the worst. It’s like the eyes themselves have been slit open and the first thing they see is the slithering ooze of their own brain’s entrails swimming around behind their eyes. Then with a snap, Red pops out those eye holes and Crow is looking out, scared, into the sight of his own birth. Scarecrows don’t usually have hands, you may have noticed that, but they have the deepest craving for them. Red popped those eyeballs out and wiped Crow’s face with a dampened cloth, wiping away the sweat and the seeds that started running down those new cheeks. Red was a happy man that day, twisting the knife as Crow looked out, looking side to side and down as much as he could, for arms that could reach and hands that could grab. Red’s was enjoying his whisky, and gave Crow a belt about halfway through, as he was cutting a mouth that couldn’t decide whether it was laughing, crying, or snarling. In the background there was the sound of a chainsaw; Grey, Red’s cousin, was cutting wood for the coming winter months. In the kitchen, ma was lighting the woodstove and talking about pies. 

Crow listened, watched and waited for someone to give him a tongue, but no one did. With his nose, he smelled the woodsmoke and the piney air. Blue, Red’s brother, carried Crow’s head out to the field where the last of the corn lay fallow, and put him on top of the old broom stick in the petticoat that’s been there all summer, surrounded by crows laughing, stealing ears, rabbits snickering, stealing spinach, mice stealing grain, foxes stealing chickens.

Crow was born mad, put on this earth to scare nobody but man. That first fall and all through the winter, Crow watched. He watched the harvest moon, he watched the first frost, he sat up through the longest night, and he counted the stars night after night. A scarecrow with a broken heart needs arms, he said, needs legs, and needs a way to get on that sled on a cold winter night and leave. At the end of his first winter, he learned how to curse, and this put Bull’s Blood into a time of sorrow and need, until the day they gave him arms, legs, a hat, a pair of trousers, and a shirt. He waved goodbye as he rode away in a small wooden sleigh pulled by a sawhorse, over the horizon, to that next harvest moon.

Halloween Armadillo Returns – story below

Every Halloween, this story rises to the top of most popular posts on Cuentos, so today I’m front paging the first paragraph for those readers who may have missed it previously:


Armadillo to Zombie

I’ve made vegetarian soup for vampires before. The secret is, don’t tell them what’s in it.

eyeball soup


A group of fingerling vampires came to my house this evening. I could hardly overlook them, although they were short. They fastened their tiny fangs to my shins and ankles and sucked vigorously, but even so I felt the blood puddling up in my shoes for as much as an hour after they took their handfuls of eyeballs and werewolf boogers and moved on to the next house – a recently remodeled mausoleum in the cemetery/crematorium across the street from Quarter’s Barbecue Emporium.  . . . . . . .

……. to read the rest, click here

Don’t look behind you….

Beyond the pale

The medium is wearing a terrycloth turban; voices whisper. Hunching over the ouija, hands touching, they don’t look up at the grinning face hanging silently in the space above the table. From the staircase in the dark behind them comes an unexpected squeak. It is mom, with snacks. The three girls shriek, fall to the ground, wheezing with laughter. Running downstairs, they make cocoa, with marshmallows; mom puts the milk away. They sleep, they dream. As they sleep, the face hangs grinning in the space above the table.

Dream 1:

I’m looking in the mirror. On the other side, the face looks back. I see my eyes, her eyebrows, my nose, her lips. I reach to the mirror to feel the glass. Our fingers touch.

Dream 2:

There is a mouse walking on a cutting board. The mouse makes a noise like a whiffling breath, a scratchy claw sound, and a little squeak. There’s a whomp and the mouse is covered, all is black and hot and then there is running. And running. And running. A tiny shriek, a sweet smell. Then sleep.

Dream 3.

I am a princess. My friends are all princesses. We are all dressed in red with purple accents. We are going on an adventure. The adventure is to find a princessdom and rule everything from now on.

We look everywhere for the map. We find it hanging suspended in space over the table. Where the face was hanging before. We can see letters printed on the map. It is circling in the air. We read:  yes   no  yes   no.  

The window is open, the wind blows through. The paper blows away, like ashes, letters falling down onto the table. We look from a space twenty years away and see a picture of us, in turbans, in long fringed shawls. It is a map. A compass. When we look up now, the face is grinning, fading, gone. 

Armadillo to Zombie

I’ve made vegetarian soup for vampires before. The secret is, don’t tell them what’s in it.

eyeball soup

A group of fingerling vampires came to my house this evening. I could hardly overlook them, although they were short. They fastened their tiny fangs to my shins and ankles and sucked vigorously, but even so I felt the blood puddling up in my shoes for as much as an hour after they took their handfuls of eyeballs and werewolf boogers and moved on to the next house – a recently remodeled mausoleum in the cemetery/crematorium across the street from Quarter’s Barbecue Emporium.  

I strapped a tourniquet on my legs to staunch the flow of blood and staggered through the streets.


hamburger mutagens

hamburger mutagens

Weak, confused, I stopped for a Big Mac to give me strength, slit my finger with a letter opener and squeezed three drops of blood onto the three pickle slices laid neatly on top of the 100% mutilated cattle patty. 

Feeling much better, I resumed my walk through the city, wanting now to find salvation, some spiritual succor.

At the mall, a group of Hare Krishnas congregated, looking displaced. Their saffron robes hung loosely from their withered vegan bodies.

“Have you seen Little Buddha?” I asked them politely. 

“What? Keanu Reeves? Right!” said the eldest Krishna, whose shaved head sagged at the back of his mottled neck. 

I got a cappuccino and a cherry squeeze at the food court and continued my search for salvation in the city of the damned. The undead crowded the aisles at Walgreens. In Kmart, their faces were ashen and tinted as the voices of demons cried out the blue light special again and again. At Walmart, the brains of the enemy were on sale, writhing in a vat of pickled Chinese torture water. The roast beef glistened; its juices squirmed as tenderizer tore its fibers one by one each from its brother. Dried possum lips hung from the checkout stand rack. frog The venom of flesh-eating African frogs was bottled and sold in the sundries department at Osco that day.

I couldn’t stand the sight of them. Sick with loathing, I went to the produce department for yams, parsnips, blood oranges, kohlrabi and teatree oil to make myself a remedy to cure these cursed imaginings.

graveyard At the cemetery, I shared them with a man in black tattered velvet. His headstone read “Justice Not Mercy,” but he would not tell me why.

His hands were long and thin, nails crusted with graveyard soil more than a century old. His teeth were blackened. His breath was foul and sweet. He ate yams and parsnips, but said the kohlrabi gave him gas.

“I was once living, like you,” he said. He scratched his companion, a molding armadillo, behind the ears. The armadillo made a wet snuffling sound, like a pig snorkeling through the carcass of something left dead in the barnyard to rot. The armadillo coughed, and sputum bubbled out of his nostrils and one eye. I offered him a handkerchief.


“I’ve had this armadillo since before I was dead,” the man in the velvet suit said. “My name’s Ned. Ned Hall. He was buried with me.” 

Suddenly, the armadillo began to cry. Green tears the size of quarters ran down his face.

“Armageddon, that’s what it was,” the armadillo said, between huge gulping sobs. “Armageddon, ruination, we’ve all been damned to hell.”

smoking“Give it a rest, would you?” said Ned Hall. He lit a cigarette. Smoke trickled out of his ears.

The armadillo continued to sob, muttering “Apocalypse, death, destruction, second coming – all I need is an open grave,” until at last he subsided, with many hiccups and whimpering sidelong looks at Ned Hall.

“I keep telling him” said Ned. “He don’t have to stay here with me in this goddamn cemetery – if you’ll excuse the expression. It’s no vacation for me either, being buried with this sorrowful dead armadillo. I didn’t know they’d bury the fool with me. I’d a told ‘em don’t bother, if I’d known he was going to whine and moan at me for the next hundred years.”

He pulled an old boot out of the grass on the grave next over and pulled it on, lacing it with a boot hook and then scraping the unhallowed mud off his sole. 

“Where’d that other boot get to?” he said, starting to emit a thick greenish slime that glowed in the darkness as he became more angry. 

“Hellfire and damnation,” he hollered at last. (“Armageddon,” said the armadillo.)

“Resurrect my boot, you bloodthirsty abnormal afterlife pain in the hiney,” he said to the ‘dillo, and the creature did, rooting around in the gravesite with his dead-cold snout.

Leaving the two of them arguing in the graveyard, I went to Smiths, where I found my salvation at last in supersaver double coupons good for anything in the store with an ungodly smell.  I made my purchase and went home alone. Or so I thought, at the time.

halloween face

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