Frank’s Blind Date

Frank’s Blind Date
~A.F. Lamonte~
 
Monster Mash was playing loud and clear from the jukebox in the corner of The Witch’s Brew Diner. Eligible bachelor, Frank, and his two chums, Drac and Wolf, were enjoying their plate of steaming worms and the conversation had turned to the usual: Frank’s failed love life.
 
“I just don’t understand it,” Drac said, pausing to take a sip of blood from a waterstained glass. He gestured to Frank. “You were made from only the best-looking of gentlemen, and you can’t get a single date.”
 
“He’s too quiet,” Wolf answered. “He ought to do more howling. Ladies love it when you howl.”
 
Frank adjusted the bolt in his neck. “I don’t really mind being single,” he said. “I enjoy the solitude, really. No one to screech at me, like that banshee I dated last year. No one to slip love potions into my drinks like that witch from two years ago.”
 
Drac studied Frank quietly, his yellow eyes trying to see right through him. “My sister has a friend from work,” he said finally. “Her name is Mummy. Sis says she’s pretty sweet.”
 
“What does she look like?” Wolf asked. “You don’t want to stick poor Frank with some zombie again, do you?”
 
“No one’s seen her without her bandages.” Drac wiped his lips, rose from the booth, and dropped a wad of cash on the table. “I’ll talk to Sis.”
 
“Really, it’s fine,” Frank said, following his friends out of the diner. “I’m happy by mys—” He stopped when he saw a black cat crossing in front of him.
 
“You superstitious?” Wolf teased and then turned to the cat and let a bark, making the cat flee across the street.
 
“No,” Frank sniffled. “The man whose sinuses I got was allergic to cats.”
 
~~~
 
Eventually, at Drac’s insistence, Frank gave in and agreed to meet Mummy, and he had to admit, when he saw her, he was glad for this blind date. He showed up with a bouquet of dead daisies at The Crypt, the hottest new restaurant in Sleepy Hollow, and through the window, he could see her sitting at their table, in a gown of bandages that cascaded from her head all the way to the floor.
 
“Mummy?” he asked, stopping beside the table. He felt a tickle in his nose, but he sniffled it away.
 
“You must be Frank,” she said, and he could tell by her voice that underneath her bandages, she was smiling.
 
“Yes.” He took a seat across from her and then handed her the bouquet.
 
“Oh, how thoughtful.” She held the bouquet to her face and took a sniff. “These are my favorite dead flowers.”
 
“Drac’s sister said you were fond of them.”
 
“Oh yes. I was buried with them in my tomb.” She lifted her menu. “I haven’t eaten in a thousand years. You’ll excuse me for diving right in to order some food, I hope.”
 
“Yes. I’m famished, myself.” Frank sniffled again.
 
“Hm. The fish bones look good. I might have those, with a side of rotten vegetables.”
 
“I think I might have a—a-aachoo!”
 
“Goodness, Frank. Are you okay?”
 
Frank sniffled. “I think so.”
 
Dinner was wonderful, but by the end of it, Frank could hardly breathe. He’d held in so many sneezes, he thought his nose might shoot right off his face. That had happened before and it wasn’t pretty.
 
“Would you like to come back to my tomb?” Mummy asked as they stood outside the restaurant. “Maybe have a couple glasses of wine? I have some that’s been aging since 46 B.C.”
 
“I’m sorry, Mummy. I think I’m coming down with a cold. I’m going to head back to my crypt and lie down.”
 
“Oh, what a shame.” Mummy sighed. “Well, will I see you again?”
 
Frank smiled. “I think so, Mummy. I really had a nice time with you.”
 
“Might we kiss goodbye?”
 
“Well…sure. Why not?” Frank approached her slowly, ready to kiss the bandaged face, but Mummy stopped him.
 
“Hold on,” she said. “I’d like to do this right. Let me remove my bandages.” Slowly she unwrapped her face, and Frank looked on in horror when he saw the pointed ears, black fur, and golden, almond eyes.
 
“Mummy?” he choked and broke into a fit of sneezes.
 
“My real name is Cleo. I was a pharaoh’s cat.” The almond eyes widened to saucers. “Good heavens, Frank, what’s wrong?”
 
“I’m sorry Mummy,” Frank gasped from his struggled breaths. “It’s not you, it’s me. We can’t see each other anymore.”
 
“But…why not?”
 
Frank muffled another sneeze. “I’m allergic to you!”
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The Pinwheel

The Pinwheel
~A.F. Lamonte~

There was once a woman named Martha Turner who lived in the town of Shaver. The young woman married her childhood sweetheart, and then four months later, her beloved marched off with the Union Army in the Civil War, which was at that time called The War between the States. Shortly after he left, Martha discovered she was pregnant. Her joy over the news was cut short when she received a notice from the Union army that her beloved had been killed in the war.

Now a widow, Martha delivered her daughter, Anne, alone in the cabin her husband had built for her. Lost without the man she’d loved almost her entire life, Martha lived for their little girl. But tragedy struck again when Anne, at just five years old, succumbed to dysentery.

Widowed, childless, Martha was alone in the cabin for the remainder of the winter with the body of her daughter wrapped in white linens, waiting for burial in the spring. She spent that winter holding the cold, tiny hand of her daughter and wept every night.

It was a sunny morning on March 24th, after the ground had thawed, when Martha was finally able to bury her daughter beside the memorial marker she’d erected in honor of her husband who had never returned from war. That evening, Martha crafted a pinwheel out of paper and wood, which was an activity she’d once enjoyed with little Anne. She left it between the memorial marker and her daughter’s resting place and then, as the sun was setting over the hills, Martha walked to the bridge that overlooked the creek nearby and jumped off.
It was over a week before neighbors found Martha’s body, and they laid her to rest beside her daughter. By the time of Martha’s burial, a terrible windstorm had broken out, and Martha’s pinwheel had blown away.

A year later, on the anniversary of the day of Anne’s burial and Martha’s suicide, Shaver locals were mystified to find a freshly crafted pinwheel between the memorial marker and Anne’s grave, exactly where it had been placed the year prior. If any neighbor had left it in tribute, no one admitted to it.

Winds again blew the pinwheel away, but the following year, another pinwheel appeared, and the year after, and so on. No one could figure out who was leaving the pinwheels, but neighbors began to theorize it was still the grieving widowed mother, returning from the grave to visit the two people she’d loved most in the world.

To this day, even though the town of Shaver has long been abandoned, even though there is still no marker for Anne’s grave, and even though no one is around to even remember little Anne Kent and Martha Turner-Kent, the urban explorers who visit Shaver and locals from the neighboring town are mystified to find a freshly-made wood and paper pinwheel quietly spinning in the breeze every March 24th, right in between a faded, crumbling memorial marker and a grassy unmarked grave.

When Walls Talk

“I was someone’s piece of heaven on earth.
Someone’s dream come true.
This peeling gray exterior of mine
once was a joyful blue.

See this dead tree next to me?
Tied to it was a swing.
See this dried-up ditch behind me?
This once was a nice, clean spring.

In my yard, young children ran.
Laughter rang all day.
Games like Simon Says and Hopscotch
were what those kids would play.

One day they packed what they could carry,
piled in their car and were gone.
They left me all alone,
staring out at my dying lawn.

Vandals went from room to room
tearing out my fixtures and walls.
One day a lightning bolt struck me
and fire ripped through my halls.

Yesterday my stairs collapsed,
then the second floor came down.
Water damage from the rains
have rotted my carpets brown.

I thought one day they would return.
I guess now I was wrong.
I’m an old decrepit house,
and I won’t be standing long.

Someone’s dream has turned to dust.
Time is such a thief.
The sand in the hourglass runs out for us all.
Sadly, life is far too brief.”

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Blue Light’s Out

“Attention shoppers, attention shoppers!
Please make your way to the back of the store.
It’s our blue light special today.
We’ve got accessories galore!

To your right, the snacks and drinks.
To your left, the toys!
We’ve got dolls and matchbox cars,
everything for the girls and boys.

Go over to the apparel department.
You might find something you like.
Be sure to visit the sporting goods section
And go get yourself a bike!

Attention shoppers, attention shoppers,
We have bad news you should know.
Times are getting tough for us
so everything must go.

Our franchise here will close its doors.
Our shelves will be bare.
Our windows will be boarded up,
They’ll block off all the stairs.

They’ll take down the big red K
and put it away for good.
This building will be left
to the mercy of the neighborhood.

Attention shoppers, attention shoppers.
Thank you for coming today.
Please make your way to the exit doors
and put your shopping carts away.

We hope you were happy here.
Customer service is what we’re about.
It’s been our pleasure to serve you.
The blue light’s now gone out.

-Dedicated to Kmart, and also dedicated to my grandma who is probably the only reason the Sprague Ave Kmart is still around. She would take me there and let me pick something out whenever I would spend the night with her.

Thank you, Kmart, for the memories.

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Game Over

In honor of “America’s Game” today:

Game Over

Listen very closely
and you will hear
the crack of a bat
and a chorus of cheers.

“Popcorn! Popcorn!
Hot dogs, too.
Sunflower seeds
or a cold beer for you?”

Squint and you’ll see
the crowd file in.
The umpire calls
“Let the games begin!”

The fans find their seats.
They excitedly chatter.
Players take their positions
And here comes the batter.

He stands by the dugout,
takes practice swings.
The pitcher lobs throws,
The waiting crowd sings,

“Take me out to the ballgame.
Take me out with the crowd!”
Years have gone by
and it still echoes loud.

Gaze out at the field
and what do you see?
Deserted stands,
a fallen tree,

An overgrown field,
A dugout in shambles.
Home plate has been lost
in the grass and the brambles.

But see with your ears
And see with your mind.
The sound, “Batter up!”
comes through walls of time.

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The Babysitter’s Ghost

The Babysitter’s Ghost (this was originally published on a friend’s blog, but I wrote it)

A.F. Lamonte

“Ghosts aren’t real.” You hear that all the time, but what do you do when you witness with your own eyes something that isn’t supposed to be real, something that defies all you know to be true and rational?

I was eight years old when I saw her on my grandma’s neighbor’s staircase. She was in tinted color as if her appearance had been dimmed somehow, like in an old photograph. Her eyes were milky with gray-white irises. She had no pupils. Her skin was a pasty peach. Her hair, probably a vibrant honey blond at one time, had a faded ashy blond appearance. She wore brown high waist pants and a white blouse, the very clothes she wore when she was shot and killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend in the living room of that house in 1964. My late grandpa, her neighbor, had been the one to identify her body to the police the night it happened. He did it so her mom wouldn’t have to.

My grandma is the oldest person in the neighborhood. She moved into her house at the age of ten and when her parents died, they left it to her. She remembers plainly the night the girl who had lived across the street was killed in the house next door where she had been babysitting the two little boys that lived there at the time.

A few days before her murder, the young woman (whose name I will withhold because she still has living family members) had broken up with the ex-boyfriend after suffering weeks of abuse at his hand. He knew that she was babysitting at that house that day and so he came by to beg for her to come back to him. As the ex-boyfriend later admitted, she had told him at the door that she had just put the boys to bed and he was to leave the house immediately. He went back to his car and she closed the door behind him. He came back with the gun he had pulled from his car and tried to break in. With no idea he had a gun, she opened the door after hearing him jimmy the handle and he pushed his way in through the house and shot her with one bullet to the chest.

The remaining details of this tragic night were told to me by my grandma. After they heard the gunfire from next door, my grandpa raced out of the house brandishing his own gun and saw the ex-boyfriend running up the street; apparently in his haste to get away he completely forgot about his car parked along the curb. My grandma called the police who were stationed at the kiosk a few blocks up the road. This is where the police caught him. His panic caused him to stammer out his confession right away and he didn’t resist his arrest.

My grandpa hadn’t bothered to chase after the ex-boyfriend as he knew my grandma had already called the police. His main concern was the babysitter, and he hurried into the house to see if she was all right. It was devastating for him to see her dead on the floor, a girl who had grown up across the street and who was just a few years older than my aunt, but he knew it was better he confirmed her identity than her distraught mother.

With absolutely no knowledge of what had transpired in the home thirty years earlier, I at the age of 8 in 1995 had gone over to the house next door to my grandma’s to play with the little girl my age that lived there at the time. We had our Barbie dolls strewn all over the blue carpet of the living room floor. Back then, the staircase overlooked the living room, though now it has a wall built over it and a door that opens up to it. It was in the middle of this staircase where she stood statue still. Both my friend and I saw her. She didn’t move, she didn’t blink, she just stared.

At the age of 8, my first thought wasn’t ‘that’s a ghost.’ I didn’t really know what they were. My only experience with ghosts at the time was seeing cartoon white sheets on TV, and she looked nothing like Casper.

My friend wasn’t afraid. She acted as though this was an everyday occurrence and simply went back to playing with the dolls. Because she wasn’t frightened, neither was I. I was so ignorant of what I was seeing that I didn’t really know or think to be afraid, or even think to be confused. I was indifferent to the presence before me. The only thing I remember thinking when I saw this young blond woman was ‘that’s not my friend’s mom’ as she was a complete contrast in every aspect of my friend’s mom. Her main difference: her bottom half was opaque and I could see the wall outlet through her shin. At eight, that didn’t strike me as bizarre. Now that I’m older and just revisit this experience in memory, it’s downright unnerving.

The tinted, cloudy form of the babysitter looked in our direction but she wasn’t seeing us. She descended the staircase in a way unlike I’ve ever seen anyone walk down a set of stairs. I wouldn’t even call it floating. It was more like her legs were fused together but her feet somehow were getting her down the stairs. When she disappeared in front of us, it wasn’t a fade out like you see in classic ghost TV shows and movies. It was a pop like she was a balloon. I didn’t blink. I saw her pop-disappear. The best way I can describe it is how a balloon floats along through the air and then it pops and completely vanishes from your sight. Sometimes you don’t see the balloon fall. You just see it and then it’s gone. The only noise that lets you know it popped is the sound. She, on the other hand, ‘popped’ silently. I never saw her again. I came home and told my grandma about a lady being over at my friend’s house and my grandma probably never thought anything of this, as I didn’t exactly mention how the girl looked. I also didn’t tell her how she disappeared, as once again, I didn’t know better to find that strange. Childhood ignorance was bliss.

A few years passed and in 2001, a new family moved in; a mother and daughter. The daughter, now an adult, has since left but her mother still lives there, and she is a wonderful neighbor to my grandma. They became very good friends, and after feeling as though she could trust my grandma not to think she was crazy, the lady began telling my grandma of some bizarre occurrences that took place on a daily basis in her home, mostly the same old you hear with any unexplained appearance; lights turning on and off, doors moving on their own, objects moving on their own. She’d never seen anything but she said that her daughter, who slept in the bedroom that used belong to the two boys who lived there in the 60s, was talking of seeing the ghost of a blond woman roam around the house, most frequently appearing in her bedroom. Even though she too had experienced unexplained phenomena, she told my grandma she was worried her daughter was making up a ghost story for attention and she figured the disturbances were in her imagination from her daughter telling her every day about this ghost she was seeing. When I was hanging out with the daughter, she described the woman I saw on the stairs years earlier.

After hearing the exact same description of the ghost, I finally told my grandma what I’d seen. Hearing my description of the young woman made my grandma’s face drain of color, especially when I described her clothes, and she told me I’d seen the babysitter. She then told me several people in the neighborhood had also seen her and had been seeing her since mere hours after her death. The two boys she babysat swore she was still there. They kept asking their parents why she wouldn’t leave. Families constantly moved in and out of that house until 2001 when the mother and daughter moved in. Once, very late at night when the house was up for sale and should have been empty, two policemen saw her figure moving through the house and called it in as a possible squatter situation. They found no one in the house. When they were walking back out to their car, they saw her again in the same room they’d seen her, the upstairs bedroom where the boys had slept.

Those who have seen her actually move through the house say that it’s like she’s seeing the house as it looked when she was babysitting there in the 60s. It’s been remodeled several times since her death. Walls were built where entryways used to be. A wall was built over the staircase. She is seen reaching for doors that are now walls, or she walks straight through the walls as if they aren’t even there, likely because, in her time, they weren’t. Saddest of all is what the daughter of the woman still living there has said. The babysitter’s quiet footsteps will sound briefly on the stairs. Just a few steps and then silence. The door to the bedroom moments later will move. Sometimes it will open and the ghostly face of the babysitter will peer in through the door and glance in the direction of where the boys used to sleep, as though she is checking on them as she would have done in the 60s.

Occasionally she will be heard and not seen. I personally have never heard her, but the young woman’s garbled voice is said to be heard every so often, speaking a sentence no one can understand. Chantilly sometimes announces her presence when she’s not able to be seen or heard. Her mother who is still living (which is why I have not mentioned names of anyone involved) has been through the house a few times and tried to talk to her. The only response she ever received was one whiff of the Chantilly perfume her daughter always wore.

Everyone who has seen the babysitter’s ghost, including the police from the kiosk, believe that she’s there, and we’ve all agreed that it seems she still thinks she’s babysitting and can’t move on, or maybe she has and what we are experiencing is some sort of time loop replay of her that is strong enough to manipulate the environment somehow. Whatever reason she is still here, I sincerely hope the babysitter finds her way home.

It’s one thing when the ghost is of a stranger who has passed on so long ago that no one who even remembers them is still living to mourn their loss. It’s quite another when it’s someone you know, or in my case, feel like you know because you’re surrounded by people who actually knew that person when they were alive and well, living and breathing and simply babysitting at the house next door.

Even though I’m a writer of fictional stories, every word you’ve read in this testimony is completely true. Seeing her touched me in ways I can’t explain through words even if I tried. This rare privilege I was given to be a witness to the unexplained taught me that there is definitely something else that happens after we die and I can say with full honesty that as soon as I realized what she was, this young woman is the one and only reason why the paranormal is one of my favorite subjects to read and write about. Her appearance and traits that I was able to notice the most, especially those of her eyes and the way she moved, greatly inspired the appearance and traits of my fictional character, Lucian Cole, the main character of a paranormal series I’m soon to be publishing.

The few moments I saw the babysitter’s ghost were enough to last a lifetime, and she is proof that one mustn’t be too quick to simply dismiss that which cannot be scientifically explained. There are many things we now see as normal which at one time were thought to be sci-fi.

-A.F. Lamonte

Spokane Wash, USA

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