Tag Archives: serial

Shallow Grave (part 1)

Shallow Grave

(part 1)

by  Thadd Presley

The wind blew out of the woods and though the window, ruffling the curtains, heightening my awareness of the strangely warm night. I had been writing for three hours every night for the past week, feeling more at home at my desk than I had in months. I was becoming more involved in my writing and the newest character, Markus, was finally going to escape the town and the evil I’d created for him so long ago in the short stories written in my youth. The writing had suddenly become effortless and each scene fell out of my mind so easily that I didn’t realize I’d slipped back into an ongoing story I never finished. Actually, I’ve hadn’t tried to finish the story and for over a decade I stayed away from it, dodging every scene that formed in my mind. But tonight, the click-clack of the typewriter keys calmed and somehow soothed the story out of me. I remembered a time when the typewriter was the only thing that quieted the voices in my head. The voices and scenes that returned to me tonight  were directly from the origin of my stories which took place in the same fictional town.

Lately, the voices for these long lost stories had become so loud that they were nothing more than a constant noise I couldn’t escape. I’d written nothing new in so long I was beginning to worry. I knew the only relief from the burden was getting the stories out of my head and onto the paper that I hoped would hold them forever.

Being a professional writer, I often took my writer’s curse in stride and learned how to use it to my advantage. I always told myself that I was lucky to have these voices, although it was sometimes troublesome, it was part of being a writer and, knowing that, I welcomed it.

In my work, it never seemed strange to hear voices and write down what they told me. Many of the voices came through as dialog, but others told me about their lives, their families, and I saw it as my job to document what they said. In some ways, in many ways, I was a journalist and biographer for the people and places that resided in my heart and mind. I made it my life’s work to tell the stories of those that lived and died in my head.

Does this seem strange? It might seem lunacy to those who don’t write stories, create music, or perform any other kind of art. Also, I realized that it’s not just artists who hear voices. I think most all of us have a nagging voice in our head. After all, my thoughts come through in the form of a sound. My ideas have never appeared before my mind’s eye on a computer screen. The voices, the people, the words become part of a process that drives the ideas that make  life worth living.

I always heard the voices and for a long time I didn’t mind having these strange people living in my head. It all changed when I was in the seventh grade. It occurred to me suddenly that I didn’t know if the voices were other versions of myself or if they came from somewhere outside of me. I decided I wanted to be a writer around that time and I’m not sure why, but the voices had much to do with the decision.

Whatever reason it came about, all I can say is that it’s become my career and I’ve been very lucky to have a job that I mostly enjoy. After all, not many people get to document the lives and secrets of imaginary people.
My love for writing has been very strong ever since, but I was often hesitant to write about the depravity of some lives and the gruesome themes of others. It was a good friend of mine during college who told me that it was a gift and I’d be a fool to not follow every trail and embrace it, no matter where it took me.

Years ago, before I realized what my future was going to be, I tried to talk it over with my best friend. I’d already told him the story before, but it never came out the way I intended. Perhaps, he thought I was trying to brag about my chance to publish n a back door fashion and that might have been a tad bit true, but mostly, I think, he thought I was lying. Then one night, I finally got it all out to him.

“Greg,” Allen shouted one night while we were drinking in the local college bar, “it’s time to show your talent. Come on and just publish the novel. You said yourself that it’s finished. What are you scared of? You chicken or…” He didn’t want to continue because we were friends and he knew it wasn’t his place to dictate my career, but he knew me well enough to call me on my bullshit.

“I’m not chicken. I just don’t know if I should do it. My mom’ll want a copy and she’ll not understand why I’d write something like that. It’s not my style at all.”

“Do you want to be a big time writer or not?”

“Yes,” I answered. “I want to be published, but I don’t want people to think I’m a weirdo or become someone who thinks of evil shit all the time. It’s bad enough to be typecast as a horror writer when there’s so much more to write about.”

He only smiled at me.

“Everyone knows there’s more to a writer than what he writes.”

It’s always been hard to argue with Allen, because he always knew me so well and I he usually had my best interest at heart. “But, my mom.”

“But my mom,” he mocked. “But my … What the fuck does she have to do with this? You are the writer. She knows the talent you have. Believe me, she’ll understand. I think she’d be more disappointed if you didn’t follow your dreams because of what you thought she would think.” He laughed then. “She knows it’s only a story. It’s not like it’s a biography.” He took a moment to finish his pint. “She’ d want you to publish and realize your dream. She’d want you to be happy.”

But, he was wrong on one point. It was a biography. A biography of someone in my head and that person is part of me. So, in a small way, the stories are my biography. I shrugged the thought off and took a drink of my beer.  “Yeah, you’re probably right,” I said. “I just don’t want her to be shocked when she reads it. For God’s sake Allen, it’s the weirdest story I’ve ever written.”

“But you have a publisher ready to roll.”

“Everybody has a publisher ready to roll. It’s call Amazon. They’ ll publish anything on demand.”

“You know what I mean. You’ve got an income stream waiting to be utilized and you’re…”

“Yeah, I’m behind on rent. Just say it.”

“Damn it, she’d want you to do this. Imagine if she knew you were afraid of publishing a story because you thought she’d not like it. She’s a grown woman and has probably read books just as weird.”

“I know.” My excuses were running low at this point and I needed the money.

“Then quit wasting time. The moon is full and the devil is waiting.”

“Don’t say it like that. The voices are not the devil.”

“Well, then, correct me if I’m wrong. Last time I talked to you, didn’t you say that someone spoke to you out of the darkness and promised you fame and fortune? I think you said that the voice said anything you want could be yours.”

“Yes, but that was just my imagination. I’d been awake for days writing on the novel and probably having delusions. It was probably just sleep paralysis.”

“But, you did it. Didn’t you? You listened to the voice and now the public is waiting to buy your book. Money in hand.”

Slowly I took the knife out of my pocket. “I did it with this, you know.”

“Tell me again. Exactly what you did. I want to be rich too.” He was holding his empty glass up to signal the waiter. It seemed as if he was getting ready to hear the story for the first time.

“I’ve told you twice already. It’s just not something I like to –”

“I want to hear it again. Please tell me.” He ordered us each a pint each and when they were  in front of us we took them to a dark, corner booth. He was waiting for me to begin, so I downed half the pint and began the story for him.

Our Walk (fragment 4)

Our Walk
(fragment 4)
by Thadd Presley

As you may well have heard from your own vicar or sister, as you follow our journey together and learn of our battles, the lives of my companions and myself were given over to our Father God before we were born, whether we admit it or not, making our conception a matter of the Church with nothing to with a husband and wife’s love for one another. Our birth into the realm of Earth put a dual claim on us; God had a claim to our spirit while the Church had it’s claim on our body and we knew from an early age that our short lives would be given back to God quickly, for our paths were to bring before us the manifestation of an evil so fierce and powerful that we would surely die upon setting our eyes on it. Our hearts would fail us at just knowing such a blasphemy, since our hearts were the writing stone of God’s commandments long before our fleshy bodies had been taught the lies which would have led us into sin. We know not what lies ahead of us, only that we are to show no fear, nor even bat an eyelash in the presence of Hell’s most hideous creations. When we stand up face to face with the vilest of acts performed by cruelest of monsters, we know our bodies are nothing but dirt and our souls were never ours. The control we have learned to exercise over our body was just for these moment so we can someday fulfill God’s commandment. It is not our lives for which we should hold dear, because there exists a Salvation that none can rival. The evil which lies before us does not have the power to pluck us from the hands of God, only to deliver us into them. While Satan has tried in vain to plunge all of humanity into darkness, even since the beginning of time, and cause God’s children to falter and turn from their destiny, hasn’t the authority to undermine the truth of God’s promises, which is life eternal with God Almighty, who’s name is Worthy.

Our Walk (fragment 3)

Our Walk:
Fragment 3

by Thadd Presley

I can’t help having this confidence, for it is my belief, although I have walked exactly the path that the Devil drew out for sinners and fell for his traps at every turn, my life is in the hands of God now; and, if it is His decision to feed me to the fires of this place and allow my body to lie here dead, along with my brothers, I still could not back down; for Jesus had to walk this same path, alone and tempted of the same and more, yet He did not back down; for my sake, He gave His life and all of His blood, so that I might make my own decisions and decide to do right or wrong, while knowing that Christ’s blood covers my sins and makes my evilest acts unknown to all, even God; so I am empowered to uphold good, to stand in the face of evil no matter, the form or fierceness of my enemy: the height or the breadth of sin, nor the strength of the temptation that shall come, neither even the pleasures that most sins are promised to bring, I will not back down from this fight or turn back into that blackness that I once called my life.

Our Walk “fragment one”

Our Walk

Fragment One:
The Deepest Stairway

by Thadd Presley

And into hell we went, as close together as our bodies could afford; halfway falling, halfway crawling, barely clinging to the edges, struggling to keep our footing on the narrow edge jutting from the wall, moving slowly and mindfully; for the steps, which led down steeply, would eventually come to a pit; and, if I might add right here, for it must be pointed out in the beginning, the steps were growing steeper as we got deeper and farther from the surface and, being steps like which I had never seen, I must say they were becoming like glass in both color and texture possibly caused by the heat rising from the pit we knew laid below us somewhere in the darkness. The wall itself was of a crumbly nature, a brimstone. I feared that we might, at any minute, find ourselves in the presence of the Devil himself…


Jack’s Apartment (part 5)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 5)

by Thadd Presley

Jack came to, lying on the floor inside the dusty room. His face was inches from wool socks that bunched around the brittle bones of the girl’s feet. He felt very sad for her because she gave her life for an experiment. He wanted to reach out and feel her socks, but knowing they would crumble under his touch, he didn’t have the heart to destroy them. She had been through so much.

He realized then what he was meant to do. He could bring her back. Somehow. Wasn’t that what the man had done; brought his daughter back? Why else would he have gotten to see all he had, if not to help? He realized then that he could see Caroline. He could bring her back.

Then, he found himself engulfed with the knowledge he needed. Something had stuck out to him from the visions he’d seen. He looked around to find what he couldn’t remember. He saw it then and wondered why he hadn’t paid it more attention. It was the old, handwritten book. It had all the information and direction he needed to bring Caroline back. The book held ancient secrets unknown to man, pages upon pages telling of other worlds and gates that lead to them: gates to the dead and how they could be opened.

The book was priceless and held powers that no man alive remembered. He wanted the book. He had to know its secrets if he was to bring Caroline back; to right his wrong, he had to learn the secrets.

His hands trembled at the thought of holding the book. There were other papers on the desk that held the key to unlocking secrets of a forgotten time.

Written in a strange, unearthly language, the pages called to him. He saw drawings that depicted those who walked between worlds and the kingdoms in those worlds, which were described in all their glory and detail. The book told how the civilizations of this world and others fell to endless battles… battles that brought evil into the worlds of men. Yes, worlds!

He lifted a loose page from the desk and blew dust into the air. One look at the words and he knew it told of a last battle where man’s fate would be decided. But, once he got it close enough to read, he found it illegible. Frustrated, he picked up another page… nothing. Not even the drawings made sense to him now.

It was the same with the book. He didn’t understand a single word. But, he blew the dust off and looked at it anyway. There was no doubt about the knowledge the book held and the secrets its pages described. Jack’s need to know pushed him onward. He was sure he could learn how to read the book. It was necessary if he was to bring Caroline back. He had to free her. No, he had to free both of them.

They needed him: both the girl and Caroline.

It wasn’t hard to approach the dusty, disintegrating skeleton of the little girl now that Caroline’s life was at stake. He felt like he knew her and she him. He took a deep breath and brought the hammer down on the ring that held her chains. It took two blows before the old, rusted iron broke. He realized then that a chain was also attached to the body under the bed.

A moment later, less time than he could calculate, he was aware of the cold again. It was entering him, blowing into his face, seeping into him, making him weak. Far away he heard the phone ring. But that wasn’t important; there was more work to be done.

We need you, Jack.

He looked at the skeleton girl who was now crumpled on the floor. He started to reach down and pull her bones up, but it wasn’t important…

Read the book, Jack

He suddenly realized he’d done something wrong. An overwhelming emotion of fear fell upon him.

He wanted his Bible. He needed the comfort and protection of his new found faith.

“Jack,” a weak voice wheezed behind him, spinning him away from the skeleton and back to reality.

“Adam, good lord, lay still,” he said, walking toward his friend.

Adam was struggling to get up. “It’s a demon, Jack.” Adam took a deep, rattling breath. “I saw him in my dream. It made him kill his wife and child.” The quilt was filled with blood and Adam had his hand at his cracked skull.

“Dear God,” Jack cried, rushing to Adam’s side and pulling his belt off. “Keep your hands away from your head.” He bound the man’s hands, taking care not to fight with him. “It’s for your own good. You don’t want to dig your brains out, do you?” It was like dealing with a child, a strong child.

During the last year he had volunteered at the hospital and learned that head injuries were often made worse by people poking their dirty fingers into their brain and not knowing it. This was exactly the case with Adam. Jack saw that he had indeed been digging into his skull. Now the bone-white skull was covered with bits of grey, unwittingly pulled out by Adam’s probing fingers.

“Lord, be with us,” Jack prayed.

“It itches, Jack. Give me that screwdriver. I have to scratch it.”

The phone rang.

“Lydia,” Jack screamed into the phone. “Are you on the way?” He listened. “I’m afraid your husband is worse,” he explained to her. “He had a heart attack or something. He collapsed and hurt himself badly.” He listened. “Yes, I called them,” he lied and hung up.

Now he had to call them. He had no choice. If he didn’t it would look very bad.

With a shaking hand and an ever-more unpredictable finger, he pushed at the buttons on the phone.

“Nine-One-One. What is your emergency?” A woman was on the line before the first ring ended.

“I need an ambulance at the Wartzburg Building downtown. My friend has fallen. He has a head injury.” Jack heard her typing. “I’m afraid…he’s…I had to bind his hands with my belt. He’s quite delirious…”

The phone beeped in his ear and a woman’s voice, obviously automated, began to explain about staying on the line until the paramedics got to him. “Damn,” Jack said and hung up.

Adam was still fighting Jack’s every move and was now trying to stand up. Jack held Adam down and tie the his ankles with an extension cord.

What am I doing? he thought. “I’m so sorry, Adam, please forgive me.”

Jack. The voice called to him. It was a man. You can save her.

Don’t listen, Jack,” Adam croaked. “It’s lies.”

You can bring her back. She is your responsibility.

Jack picked up the screwdriver and knew what to do. He could bring Caroline back by sacrificing a life for a life. With a moan he pushed the tip of the screwdriver into his friend’s stomach. The screwdriver did not go easily. He had to use his other hand to hold the skin taunt. Finally, it broke through with a pop.
Adam shook his head and tried to fight, but he didn’t have the strength. “Don’t, Jack,” he said, twisting his body away. The cold steel was deep inside him. “Caroline’s gone. This won’t bring her back.” But, as he said it, he saw that Jack’s eyes were far away.

Jack pulled the screwdriver out and pushed two fingers into Adam’s stomach, just like he saw the man do in his vision. Adam’s insides were much warmer than Jack imagined.

Adam felt a tug and then pain erupted in his head and shot lightening fast through his body, filling his vision with red. He managed to look down at his body and screamed when he saw what Jack was doing.
Slowly, Jack was pulling Adam’s intestines out, loop by loop. They were gray with bits of clotted blood on them.

Black and green filled them in places.

When Jack started chanting, Adam was surprised at the low, guttural voice that he heard coming from his friend. Adam realized what was happening and the idea of death scared him.

Jack had given total control to the demon in the hopes of getting Caroline back.

“Jack, stop. It isn’t too late.”

Jack felt the love he had for Adam escalate. He bent down and kissed Adams cheek. “Thank you for everything,” he told Adam, then started chanting over again.

“Shut up, you fucking idiot! Can’t you see what you’re doing? Caroline is dead. She will not come back…” Adam groaned and his voice faded, unable to continue because of the pain.

Jack stopped for a moment. He was going to say something, but Adam didn’t give him a chance.

“Something is doing this to you, Jack. We have to get out of here.”

“They do not want to hear your drivel,” Jack said. It was the other voice again talking through him.
“They have been left alone for too long, waiting to be freed. Now, have a bit of fucking respect.” He jabbed the screwdriver into Adam’s arm. “And let me concentrate.”

There was already more pain than Adam thought possible. The pain in his stomach was terrible, so terrible, he didn’t even feel the screwdriver in his bicep. He knew that he was going to die, and there was nothing he could do about it. Soon, he would go into shock.     “Listen to me, Jack. Caroline is gone.”

Jack’s Apartment (part 2)

Jack’s Apartment

(part 2)

by Thadd Presley

During the meeting with the landlord, she told him that the fourth floor had been used as storage area for years. She talked a bit about her father passing away and leaving the building to her. “My brother got the money, and the yacht, and the hotel. All I got was this run-down place.”

“But, why was the fourth floor empty?”

“He had plans for it, I guess. He was always a dreamer. Fact is, he won the building in a high-stakes poker match during one of the worst years of his life. He lost everything and bet everything he had on a single card.

“As you can see, he won.”

Jack smiled. He liked to hear stories of people making good on a million to one odds.

“Too bad, my mother told him. Looks like you lost more than you’ll ever know with that place.”

Jack wanted to ask about her brother, but she didn’t give him a chance.

“My father was into gambling and drinking. That is… until he met Adam. My dad didn’t go to church much, until the end, but Adam helped him to find God and so much changed after that.”

Jack thought it was a lot of information to be telling a stranger, but then again, they had someone in common. Through Adam, they were far from strangers.

“There could be rats or bats or anything up there,” she told him. “I haven’t cleaned the place or even been up there in over a year.” She looked out over the river that passed in front of the restaurant where they had lunch. “When you get your room finished, we’ll see what we can throw away, but you might find treasures up there.” She smiled. “I think the last tenant of the fourth floor was in his early seventies. He was a bit of a pack rat. He kept everything and I’m sure you will run into it.”

“Treasures would be great,” he remembered saying, assuring her he wouldn’t steal anything; he was afraid if he stole from her or lied to her, drugs and death were sure follow. He wondered what Adam had told her about his situation. “I don’t need anything fancy, mind you, just a quiet place where I can get used to being on my own again.”

She smiled at that and explained again that room wouldn’t be suitable for human occupation until he gave it a bit of love and care.

He liked that she used the word “love.” It gave him a warm feeling of acceptance, a thing he hadn’t felt in a long time.

*     *     *     *     *

We need you, Jack , the voice snapped again, sending a frosty bolt of lightening down his back, calling him back to the present. It seemed to come from all around. Goosebumps sprang out on his arms. The urge to pee suddenly returned, and he quickly turned from the sink, which continued to run nothing but cold water, and faced the toilet.

Once finished, he washed his hands and made his way to the kitchen, only looking into the living room to check the heater. Once in the kitchen, he knew he couldn’t stay and that he was going to call Adam. But, not quite yet. First he made a sandwich from the leftover macaroni and carried it to the warmth of the couch where sat down.

He used his foot to pull his small electric heater toward him and watched the locked door like it was going to crash open any minute. Listening for the voice, trying to steel himself against it if it happened again. He thought if he sat and waited, he would know exactly where it came from, but even before he finished his sandwich, he started to doze.

His dreams began immediately.

*     *    *     *     *

He stood in the stairwell that led up to the fourth floor. Looking down over the metal rail, he mentally counted the flights he’d passed. Was he on the right floor? Each landing looked the same. But, the door which opened on the fourth floor was painted green, where all the other floors had white doors. But, there was no door at this landing. He hadn’t seen a green door on any of the landings all the way up. He was lost, but that was impossible because there was only one set of stairs. He looked up, surprised to see that the stairs climbed higher and higher.

There wasn’t but four floors in this building.

Panic struck him then. Where was he? The wrong building? His eyes filled with hot tears. The feeling of loneliness suddenly encased him and pushed closer and closer, farther and farther into his mind. He was overwhelmed; he needed to find the door to his floor or the door to the street. If he was found in the wrong building, someone would think he was trespassing. The cops would be called and his probation violated.

His mind screamed the fact that he was alone in the world. He’d killed the only woman who’d ever loved him. Being alone had never bothered him before; it was the way he wanted it. But now the desire for someone to care for him, to love him; it overwhelmed his mind and flood his blood with fear. He would do anything to have someone love him, anything for a companion to sit through the evenings with him and read.

The climb up the flights was not a particularly bad one; he enjoyed walking, and this was a source of some much-needed exercise and another good habit he could take up. He assured himself that the next landing would be his. But, the stairs went up and up. They seemed to be never ending.

Before having to stop and catch his breath, he climbed twenty flights and never passed a single door.
He turned and began to start down when he saw the door. But, it wasn’t green, nor was it in the right place. It was one flight below him. He knew it wasn’t there before, but none of that mattered now. As long as it lead to a floor and to someone who would direct him in the right direction.

As he walked down the steps, dread began building up inside of him. By the time he stood in front of the door, he was afraid to open it. He couldn’t just stand there. He had to go through the door. He built up his courage and just as his hand touched the knob, it became the locked door in his apartment.

We are waiting, Jack. We need you.

To turn around and start back down seemed impossible. It would only begin his journey all over again, and he knew he couldn’t leave and abandon anyone, not again, especially if someone needed his help. Meaning if he could help them, he would.

“Who’s there,” he called and listened as his voice echoed off the concrete walls of the stairwell.

His hand was still on the doorknob.

We need you, Jack.

He jerked his hand away from the cold brass.

A moment passed, and he knocked on the door, then banged on it. “Hello,” he yelled and then listened as his voice echoed again and again in the endless stairwell. “Who are you? Where are you?”

Help us.

“I will, just….”

Just what, he thought? How could he help anyone when he was the one lost?

Everything in him wanted to help, whether it was the homeless at the food ministry or orphaned children in another country. It was in his nature; at least, it was a part of his new nature.
He put his ear to the door, listening for movement. He was suddenly aware of the silence. The terrible feeling of loneliness returned. He wanted to help them. Whoever they were. He felt, he needed their companionship as much as they needed him. After all, wasn’t he trapped as well? He pressed his ear to the door harder and listened with all his might.

Boom, Boom, Boom

The door rattled with thundering knocks which caused him to jerk his head away. His foot came to the edge of the steps, and he rocked on the edge for a moment; for a millionth of a second he floated there, not knowing if he was going to go over or keep his balance.     Then, as gravity would have it, he tilted too far and started to fall….
The slow, tumbling fall into forever brought him back to the real world with a jolt.

Murder To Save A Friend (part1)

Murder to Save A Friend
(part 1)

Everything about this situation looks so plain and simple from my point of view. John needs to see it for himself, not that it matter’s who tells him, only that he finds out before it’s to late. It’s true that I see things from my own perspective which comes with a certain light that most people are blind to, but it is illuminating and many people, including my friend John, would benefit from it’s intensity, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying he has ever listened to me. He rarely takes my advice, in fact, usually going in the direction I least favor, causing hardship on himself and those who love him.

The situation is so clear and easy, as I see it, but I know I can’t  bring the subject up to John directly. I shall have to leave the task, this minor act of discretion, to my butler, a man we both adore, who is cunning and knowing, and will slip my words into John’s ear without even a hint of force or embarrassment. To say Hamish knows people would be an underestimation of his agreeable talents, to say he knows exactly the right words to use in every circumstance would be a direct hit on his powers. He is a worldly, faithful servant, not because he needs to be, because he wants to be, and he has raised me from a colicky babe into the gentleman and friend I have become today.

John loves and respects Hamish as much as I do. As my constant companion through childhood and business partner in adulthood, we have both drank from the same trough of learning, which was constantly replenished from Hamish’s well of knowledge and wisdom. As close as brothers, we’ve been through thick and thin together, and we’ve never had a bad word between us. That is, until recently.

So, it shall be Hamish who sets into motion the only possible solution to John’s miserable existence, which is to murder John’s wife and liberate my dear friend from the hell he has been subject to these last six months. Even though, as easy as it shall be, I know John will suspect me and fight tooth and nail to bring me to justice. So, to remove suspicion from myself I set my plan into motion a fortnight ago by inviting John and his wife to dinner by way of telegram while they were away in Knoxville.

Of course, they received the telegram and accepted the invitation. John replied with happy sentiments, admitting that after a week of being away with his wife he was looking forward to Hamish’s cooking, writing that she destroyed a pot of Premium Oatmeal by arguing with him instead of watching the breakfast. And while John knows that his life with Rosa is not perfect, what he doesn’t realize is that it will only get worse.
So, because of my vision and from an act of love for my best friend, I have arranged an “emergency” to befall us on the road at precisely 4:45, while we are on our way from the offices to my house for dinner. A robbery will take place that will once and for all remove Rosa from John’s life.

The death will look accidental. I am sure no one will be the wiser once the excitement is over and she is found. To further confuse matters, I have elected myself to become wounded in the performance as well. I believe it will lend an air of reality to an otherwise fake event. My wounds will not be life threatening, I hope, but should be enough to remove all possible accusations from myself and place them on the thieves.

I realize that someone might look at my scheme and think I’m only being a jealous friend who has lost his playmate and will do anything to get him back, but it would be wrong to assume that. If only it possible to see what I see, why that person would volunteer for a part in my production, possibly even maneuver themselves into the position to pull the trigger and set John free by their own hand.

It is hard for me to look upon tonight without some feelings of guilt because it would not have come to this if I would have spoke up in the beginning. If only I had John’s ear and knew how to explain myself, I know I could have saved John and Rosa. But, it is too late now and to say that I knew what was awaiting John the moment we met Rosa is only admitting that I did nothing to stop it.

Rubbish Day (part 1)

Rubbish Day

(part 1)

by Thadd Presley

He watched the Honda in his rear view mirror as it pushed it’s way through traffic and cut it way in front of cars. Every time another car was forced t brake or had to weave into another lane, the two young men inside the offending car laughed. Once, he thought they’d taken it too far when they dove right in front of an old woman and caused her to put her brakes on too hard. The car behind her was too late on the brakes and had to swerve onto the shoulder trying not to hit her. It was all to close for comfort.

When the two men got behind Jerold he was ready for them. He wasn’t a Sunday driver. He loved to drive and he knew how to do it. Cars were one of his life’s passions. Along with his daughter, numbers and maths, cars made his world complete. He especially loved the car he was driving. It wasn’t his only car. It wasn’t even close to his most expensive car, but it was his the one he always dreamed of owning.

Presently, Jerold’s car collection stood at eighteen. Most of them were custom built just for him. But this car was in it’s original condition. It was his cherry and he meant for it to stay that way.

He could have driven any of his cars, but he chose the Porsche because he was on an important mission and the Porsche made him feel like he was in charge.

When the Honda suddenly made it’s move to pass Jerold cut it off. “You shall not pass,” he said to no one and laughed.

The Honda sped up and tried to stay right on his bumper, but it was easy for Jerold to pull away from them.

The games were played back and forth. The Honda would try to pass and Jerold would not let it. They would sped up as if he ram him and then either slow at the last minute or Jerold would leave them in a cloud of black smoke.

Then came a move too close to call and the Honda spun out.

That was enough for Jerold. He slowed to normal speed and put his mind back on the task at hand. He was going to visit his daughter in Crossville and it was going to require a bit of decisive action.

Tears blurred his vision as the anger welled up in him.

Suddenly, the Honda shot around him and it sounded terrible. Jerold looked over to see the passenger holding up both middle fingers. Anger flooded his veins and fire filled his head.

“Fucking punks,” he yelled. “God damn fucking punks.”

The Honda’s driver saw his reaction and laughed.

There was not many cars on highway 27, as Jerold reached over and opened the console between the seats. The cold metal cooled him down a bit. He wasn’t going to let a pair of punks cut him off and get away with it. Not today he wasn’t.

He gunned the Porsche and passed the Honda, flipping them the bird just as they’d done to him. Perhaps they would get cocky and follow him. Fuckers didn’t know what they were in for, though, not today they didn’t. Today they were going to get their fucking reward.

They did exactly as he’d hoped. The Honda quickly caught up and began to follow along, hoping to intimidate him.

After all, why wouldn’t it be intimidating. They were young and he was a middle aged, balding man who probably couldn’t fight worth a piss because his belly was beginning to stand out a bit too far. Also, they out numbered him. But, Jerold McCleary wasn’t afraid. He was not going to be scared of anything anymore. He’d been Mr. Nice Guy for far too long.

Assholes, especially assholes like these two punks were used to pushing people around and expected everyone to cower in fear because that’s what people usually did, had to be taken out. The world had forgotten how to be strong and now it needed someone to step into place and do what everyone else was afraid to do.

Jerold had been thinking of the world and the state it was in for a few days and he was prepared to do what was needed. It was obvious to him that the world needed someone with guts. The world was in desperate need of a pair of balls. There was just no other choice, he had to do what was required and he was more than happy to do it.

It was the only way to make the world a better place. Currently, the world was over run with assholes who were used to getting their own way, creating a life of hell for the average person. Jerold was going to fix his part of the world and kill the stupid bastards that he found. He looked into his rear view mirror.

He didn’t want to become a murderer, but what choice did he have?

By standing up and carrying out this one simple act of charity, the world would quickly become a nice place to live. Just by eliminating the two assholes behind him, everyone would be better off and there would be less trash on the corner of people’s lives.

Jerold was sure the Honda was going following him, so he slowed to a crawling thirty-five miles an hour. Then he put his blinker on and slowly turned into the Outback Steakhouse parking lot.

At 9:00 AM he knew the restaurant parking lot would be deserted.

He slowly pulled around the building, as if he were lost. He didn’t want the punks to think he was leading them to a trap or to tip them to the fact that he was going to stand up for himself.

He pulled to the back of the lot where a big blue garbage dumpster sat next to a smaller black container used for old cooking oil. He began to back up, but the Honda pulled close behind the Porsche, so to block him in, but Jerold knew there would be room to pull out when he finished cleaning up the world.

The two punks didn’t lose any time getting out of there car and Jerold realized they were both men and not teenagers like he’d first thought. The driver stepped out of the car and started toward him.

Jerold also got out of his car and stood to face the man coming toward him. “What’s your fucking problem fat boy,” the driver yelled and looked back to check on his passenger. Sure enough, his buddy was just getting out of the car.

“Two on one?” Jerold asked and pulled the 38 Special out before he could respond. “Alright, we can do that.”

The first bullet entered the driver’s chest, and the passenger ducked.

Jerold watched as he turned to run. Jerold smiled and shot him in the back. He approached the driver to see if he was dead. When the man looked up at Jerold, another round turned his brains into jelly. Jerold finished the whimpering passenger the same way.

He figured there would be cameras trained on the parking lot, but who cared? More important was the fact that two assholes were killed and their earthly stupidity was brought to an end. Why wouldn’t he be thank him and the surveillance footage be used as a training video for people who were tired of living in a world of assholes.

Both the world and everyone in it owed him big time.

Back in his car, he calmed himself by breathing in the smell of leather.

After a moment, he started the car. The perfect purr of the engine reminded him of the reason he left the house. The car reminded him of much more once he thought about it. It reminded him of home, of being safety planted and free of worry, of the power every man should have over his own life. It reminded him of security and freedom all at the same time and it was a great reminder. It brought everything into focus. Where his energy and thought had been diverted onto the two assholes, it was now back on the reason he woke up and got out of bed.

He wasn’t just going for a morning drive. No. Jerold was on a mission. He had left his house nearly two hours earlier and began his journey to Crossville where to he would find his daughter and once and for all make sure she was safe. He’d made this trip before with the same intentions, but that was all in the past when he was trying to be Mr. Nice Guy. Well, this time he was not going to saving her for a day, he was not going to threaten to call the cops. He had only one option now, which would remove the threat from her life permanently.

He gunned the engine and smiled. Then he wiped a tear from his eye and popping the clutch, causing the wheels to squeal and then screech. Black smoke poured from the whirring tires, lifting the car. As if riding on air, it moved around the parked Honda in a perfect, sweeping arc.

The Porsche’s tires then grabbed onto the tarmac, straightening the car so fast it rocked sided to side as it moved forward.

Jerold smiled.

It was a relief to be out of Wartzburg, it was a relief to be rid of two assholes, it was a relief to be on his way to see his daughter.


My Daughter Dearest.

I’m on my way.

A Band of Black (part 5)

A Band of Black

part 5

by Thadd Presley

“So, you were talking about psychedelic mushrooms, right?” He nodded. “I can’t wait to try one. I mean, I’ve heard of them for years, but never had the opportunity and I’ve always wanted to have a natural trip.”

Ozzy was watching me closely when I spoke. So close that it had an effect on my thinking. I realized, it was my accent that made him have to pay close attention to what I was saying.

“Psychedelic mushrooms are perfectly natural, aren’t they?”

“Yes, natural. Nick has an organic set up.”

“We have all the acid and ecstasy anyone could ever want back home, but no mushrooms. I’m sure with Nick at the helm of my trip through America.” I smiled.

“Pun intended,” Ozzy chimed in.

I knew we would get along. “I’m sure I’ll get a taste of my first American party, soon enough.”

“But first you should rested and meet a few more people.” He walked further into the house.

It was obvious that Ozzy was going to take me on the tour. And the first place he stopped was a poster hanging on the wall. This place was paradise. And just as all others, it had rules that had to be followed.

On the wall, written in large black letters was the “House Rules” followed by seven serious rules. The rules were written on a large piece of cardboard and sticky-taped to the beautiful marble walls of the foyer. It all seemed funny. The cardboard on marble was like a joke, but Ozzy’s body language and tone in his voice told me otherwise.

I glanced over the rules and smiled. All of them seemed sensible. Well, almost all of them. I had no intention of breaking any of them. Two of the rules stuck out immediately as probably not as important as the rest. Rule #3 was “No Females Allowed in the House” and Rule #7 “No Alcohol in the House.” I was surprised at these rules, but said nothing.

Ozzy did not read them to me. I’m sure he didn’t want to come across as one who lays down the law. It was as if he were saying “The rules are right there and if you are a wise man you will heed them.” Then, he opened the foyer door and continued the tour.

We walked from the marble foyer into a larger, more beautiful room where a stunning staircase rose gracefully from the floor up and up to an open, second story landing bordered only by a lovely and dainty wood and iron handrail.

Ozzy spoke in a normal volume, explaining how Nick was currently responsible for the house and essentially had become King of the Castle until Fall Semester, but as we passed from the marble foyer into the open room, the size of the room caused his voice to fall to a hushed whisper. The foyer door closed silently behind us and a quiet calm came over me

It was a feeling that told me I was in the right place for once, that coming to America had been the right choice.

I slipped my shoes off before walking onto the carpet. Although I’d never removed my shoes at the door at my own home and did occasionally when it seemed necessary at someone’s home. This house was different. It demanded respect. It was built and arrayed with upper-class values and manners in mind.

I asked Ozzy to tell me again how Nick had come into such a nice place and he laughed. “Yeah, crazy as hell, but it’s Nick’s for the summer. He’s fallen into graces with the Frat. The Alumni love and have high hopes for him. It was their decision to have him come to Tennessee.He has lived here since day one. When summer came and most of the student were leaving, the council voted him as a temporary Sargeant at Arms to watch over the house. Trust me, he’s got his hands full. It’s more of a curse than a blessing.”

“And he’s going to school?”

“Of course, he’s taking a full load. Chemistry and Physics and Botany. That where he got the strains for the mushrooms. It’s all done through the University as research. He’s growing them for use in the labs.”

“Just like back home. He’s always had this way of getting things other people could only dream about having.”

“Yeah, you’re pal Nick is smart as hell.  He came over here and took over the frat house and is now teacher’s pet to most of the important professors. He blows my freakin’ mind man.”

Ozzy was ahead of me and heading for the the stairs and I couldn’t see his face, but I could tell he was smiling.

Once we got to the top of the stairs, he pointed to a closed door. “That is your’s and Nick’s room. He wanted to bunk with you like in the old times back in…”  He thought.  “Where did you guys come from?”


“No man, I mean, what town?”

“Oh, we grew up in different places. He is from Dartford, close to London, and I’m from Eastbourne, close to the Channel.” I opened the door and looked into the room. A set of bunk beds were against one wall. “Yeah, it’ll be just like old times. We slept in bunk beds while we were in a school.”

“You had beds at school?”

“It was a boy’s school. We lived there.”

He smiled again. “We call it reform school here.”

“No, no. It weren’t nothing like that. In England some of the children go away for school and stay until they end of the year. It’s like private school.” I looked around, noticing a pile of dirty clothes crammed into the front of a drum set. “Where is Nick now?”

“Um, today is Thursday, so he’s in school most of the day. He has at least one class everyday, except Tuesdays. But, he’ll be home in a few hours.”

I walked into the room and he didn’t. “Look, if I were you, I’d get some rest. You’ll need it to be ready for when the group gets home. I’ll show you the rest of the house later.” He turned to leave, but quickly turned back. “And remember, Tuesdays are band practice. So be ready.”

Band of Black: part 4

A Band of Black

(part 4)

by Thadd Presley

I stepped out of the cab in front of a huge, two story estate complete with four high-rising pillars and a circle drive big enough for ten cars. It was a brick house with six tall windows on the second story and eight on the ground floor. Eleven wide, concrete steps lead up to the front door where Ozzy was standing.

He had just opened the door when the cab came to a stop.

I imagined him looking down from one of the second floor windows at the immaculate yard when the yellow cab turned into the driveway.

Now we stood face to face and his smile was beautiful.

I already knew his name was Gerald Osbourne, but everyone called him Ozzy. I shook his hand and thanked him for meeting me.

“You have luggage?” He pointed to the car. “If not, he’ll still want a tip.”

“Not much. I have a little in the boot.”

“Money to boot or a trunk full of money?”

I looked at him confused.

He smiled. “My, you Australians really know how to…”

“No, not money, just a bit of luggage.” I walked to the boot, which was opening, and removed my bag. I then quickly walked to the driver’s window and handed the driver the fare and turned away. He drove away, knowing to keep the extra for himself.

“And not Australian, although I do appreciate you meeting me. Seems Nick has forgotten his manners.” I took a step back, now that the cab had gone, and looked up at the second floor windows. “This is truly a beautiful place.”

“It belongs to the University. Nick totally knows how to talk to these authoritarian types. He’s got the run of this place for the summer.” Then he looked at me again. He was certainly a beautiful man. He had perfect white teeth, blonde hair, a real tan, and blue eyes. It was so American of him. “It’s really good to finally meet you. Nick has told us so much that we feel like you are already part of the family.”

“That’s great of you to say. I’ve been quite nervous about all this.You really wouldn’t believe the emotions I’ve had.”

“Hold on!” Ozzy said loudly.


“No, no. Noel.” He pointed to his ear. “Sara is on the line and I…” He put up his hands as if in frustration. “Sara, you just made me yell at Noel and he’s trying to tell me about his emotions.”

He listened.

“Yeah, he’s right down your street.”

He listened and when he did I faintly heard Sara’s voice.

“He’s here in front of me and I’m trying to give him…” A moment of silence passed, while Sara’s tiny voice continued. Then he caught a second and spoke. “Yeah, well these English folk need to be greeted properly and you are interrupting our chat.”

It was then that I noticed a small black and blue plastic piece in his ear. It was smaller than a hearing aid.

“Sara says ‘hello Noel’ to you and you can’t kiss anyone. She says that she wants to give you the first kiss you get in America.”

I smiled trying to be cool, as if this was just another part of being me, but I felt my cheeks getting hot.

“And,” Ozzy continued, “don’t eat the ‘shrooms before she gets to properly introduce herself.”

I was beginning to feel very self-conscious. I didn’t know where to put my hands or where to look. I picked up my bag and set it back down again. I couldn’t help but wonder how she really felt about me.

“She says she wants you to play for her.”

“Play what?”

“Hell, I don’t know. The national anthem I guess.” He shook his head at me. “Look, I’m not being the messenger between you two.”

I heard her tiny voice raise a bit and then laugh. Ozzy joined in.

“You’ll have to wait until you see him to tell him that.”

I was extremely happy that Sara wanted to see me, but I didn’t want it to show, so I looked up at the house again. It was really a mansion.

“Sara wants to know if you will really play for her. The piano. She says please.”

“Yeah, but how did she know?” I began t ask, but I didn’t need an answer. I knew Nick told her.

“He says he will. Now I’m going.”

He listened.

“Yes, I will. Now, his majesty needs to be shown to his room.” There was another pause. “You can tell him all of that yourself. Bye. Do it when you get here. Bye.”

I didn’t see any obvious way he disconnected with Sara, but I could see the relief on his face. When he began speaking to me, it was in his normal voice again. “Ok,” he said, “I’m supposed to keep you off the ‘shrooms and show you around the house a bit. So, first we are going to the room where you can reset your jet lag.”

“Shrooms?” I asked.

“Yeah.” Ozzy smiled. “Oh, yeah.”

“Are they any good?”

“I’ll put it this way. Everything here is good. This has been the best summer I’ve ever had and it’s just beginning. We have some really great gigs coming up and with you on bass.” He smiled again, showing his teeth. “I hear you can really play the hell out of a bass.”

“I picked up a few things here and there.”

“So I’ve heard. Oh, and just so you know, the band is me, Nick, Sara and you. In case you’re asked, you’re not replacing anyone. Just come on board and do what you do. The band is called ‘Black’ but the fans usually referred to us as ‘A Band of Black.”

“I like that better, actually.”

“You do, do you?”

“Yes,” I said as a matter of fact.  I had a great reason to push against using “Black” as a band name. It was mine and Nick’s old band name, from our punk days in London and it didn’t seem right to use the name again. Of course, I didn’t tell Ozzy this small piece of history.

“Well, Nick wants the band to be called ‘Black’ and you know how Nick is when he wants something.”

Yes, I did know. I also knew that I liked ‘A Band of Black’ better than the one word. But I simply nodded and smiled, allowing the moment to pass without further comment, and followed him through the door and into the fraternity house.