Thursday, April 25, 2013

Part III - one

…The dream is not always the same.

Sometimes the man in the black suit enters the room backwards so that I hear him speak before I see the dreadful leer of his face.

There is, in the man in black’s face, something deeply…. unsettling. Beyond the constant expression it wears of mingled derision and sickly, unwholesome smile, there is in the features of the face itself more than the suggestion of deformity. Or maybe distortion, as a scrambled television signal, is a better word.

It is nothing easily identified; a certain asymmetry, perhaps. As if the face had been split in two and reassembled by inexpert hands. Maybe it is simply the dark and deeply set eyes like black holes in the skull, tugging at everything in the room, sucking even light into themselves…

Emma Jason paused, her black ball-point hovering over the page, considering what she recalled from this latest dream of the man in the black suit. He had been appearing in her dreams, and her journals, intermittently for years. Always he spoke to her, in a voice crawling with earthworms and subtle innuendo, and always she failed to comprehend the communication; as if he was speaking not English but some unknown tongue. Or maybe gibberish. The last few weeks had seen an unexpected and unpleasant increase in the dark man’s visits. Last night, for the first time she realized with some alarm, she had actually understood some portion of his sepulchral speech.

Her hand faltered and she rested the ball-point at the end of the ellipsis she had just jotted down... Damn if she could remember what she had finally understood! The words glinted in the shadows at the edge of memory, fading farther back into darkness even as she tried to draw them forth. It was maddening but she decided to let it go, confident it would come to her in time. Not that she was eager to hear whatever it was this sinister figure might be trying to tell her, but she knew it was probably important.

A sudden shrieking of tires somewhere nearby startled Emma to her feet. The sound, for some reason, brought Virginia flashing into her mind. Then she remembered that Ginny was driving to San Pia with her new girlfriend today. What was the blonde’s name? Amanda? Rachel? No… Rebecca! They’d left early that morning, or so Emma believed. She was also fairly certain that the girls would have been driving on the opposite side of Piney Oak to connect with the southbound freeway from their new place on Geometry Street. It was irrational to think that her daughter was in any way connected to the sound she had just heard. Yet, she found herself suddenly worrying about Virginia.

She reached down and closed her dream journal, dropping the pen on top of the black cover. It was quiet now. There had not actually been a collision of any kind, thank God. Only a near miss with squealing tires and, no doubt, copious amounts of adrenaline and expletives. Most likely, airbags had not even been deployed. Suddenly, she cocked her dark head, listening. Somebody was crying. A woman, out in the street.

As upon most weekends, this particular Saturday morning found Emma in the office; or The Stall, as she knew everybody but she called the small, anonymous storefront founded by her father more than half a century before. So it was that she left the desk where she’d been writing (Gordon’s space Monday through Friday) and, exiting the shop, stood out on Oak Street, listening for the sobbing that she still heard, though dimly now.

She looked up and down the street but there was nothing unusual to be seen. Cocking her head again, she determined that the sounds of distress seemed to be coming from her right. It must be fairly close to be as audible as it was. Somewhere on Bonner Avenue, most likely. Making sure the door was closed behind her (no need to lock your door in this town, but keep it closed or risk coming back to find raccoons setting up shop), she started down the block toward Bonner Avenue. As she progressed, the sobbing grew louder in her ears.

Then she paused, realizing quite suddenly that the sound wasn’t in her ears at all! Standing still and alert, she listened anew. The street was actually quiet; the only sound, birdsong drifting from the trees. None the less, she heard somebody crying. Telepathy?  If so, it was the strongest and strangest she had experienced in her nearly sixty years. Sure, she had spoken to Angels and Demons, seen ghosts and UFOs, socialized with psychics of all kinds, but nobody had ever been in her head quite like this.

"Help me, Emma…”

The words rang like a bell in her head, a bell with an English accent! A bell that knew her name! Startled by the sound, or thought, of her name, compelled to move by the plea for help, Emma now broke into a run. Good genes, and the good exercise she got walking around town, kept her fifty something year old corporeal form in good shape. She reached the corner of Oak and Bonner in just a few seconds and still breathing more or less normally.

All sound in her head had stopped now. But there in the middle of Bonner Avenue was the car she had heard, a blue, four door sedan of some kind. In the car, hunched behind the steering wheel, a woman, her shoulders occasionally heaving as she silently sobbed. Hesitating only a moment, she had always been one to take charge in a crisis, Emma moved forward.

As she approached, the woman in the driver’s seat stirred and gazed in her direction. “Oh, thank God…” The voice, English accented, in her head again. “Please tell me what to do, Emma…”

Emma, circling around the front of the vehicle now, nearing the driver’s door, wondered what she was getting herself into here. She suddenly recalled the Tarot spread she’d thrown for herself two nights ago. The lightning struck tower. The Devil. Gripping the door handle, she gazed in at the tear stained woman in the driver’s seat – small, fine featured, coppery hair – and smiled. If this dainty creature was driving with The Devil, then perhaps Emma should take the wheel.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Part II - twelve

Nine to ten hours later, Ginny was back at the house on Euclid Street, her black Malibu packed for their trip down the coast and idling in the pale light of the new day. From the driver seat, she spoke to Rebecca, sitting with her slim hand on the passenger door handle. “Just go around the left side of the house, “she began.

“The left side,” Rebecca interrupted, “if I’m facing the house?”

Ginny smiled. The direction seemed so obvious to her. In anybody else she might have found the question a dumb one. Coming from Rebecca, it was simply endearing. “Yes, my sweet,” she continued, “face the house and go around the left side.” She gestured through the window toward the house, growing more substantial by the moment as Saturday morning brightened around them. “Head back toward the creek until you come to a large hedge.”

“How large a hedge?” asked Rebecca.

“Like a wall,” Ginny replied without pause. “But just a couple of feet or so past where the house ends and the hedge begins there is a gap, an opening big enough for one and a half of your beautiful selves to get through.”

“Ok…” Rebecca smiled. “And what if the books aren’t there?”

Ginny grimaced briefly. “Just come back, I guess, but I think you’ll find them.”

“How can you be so sure?” Rebecca wondered.

Ginny glanced through her side window to the front door of the house, surprisingly white in the early light. “Because my note is gone.”

Rebecca, her hand still on the handle of the door, leaned across the middle console and planted a kiss on Ginny’s mouth. “I’ll be right back,” she said. Opening the door and stepping into the bright new morning, she smiled and added, “I hope!”

The passenger door swung shut with a soft thud and Ginny chuckled, watching the way Rebecca’s hips swayed as she walked away from the idling car. She hated sending Becca for her journals, but not as much as she hated the thought of running into Gordon.  

Rebecca turned and waved as she rounded the left corner of the house and passed out of sight. From the driver seat, Ginny returned the wave. Glancing at the clock in the dash, she saw that it was just about a quarter after six. In a few minutes she would have her journals and her girl back in the car; neither, she hoped, the worse for wear. Looking at the clock again, she calculated the drive down south to San Pia might take two or three hours. Unconsciously drumming her fingers on the steering wheel, hoping she would like Rebecca’s family at least half as much as she liked Rebecca, Ginny gazed at 61 Euclid sitting whitely in the clear light of Saturday morning, and waited for her lover to return.
Editorial note: See Part I, chapter eight, for the results of Rebecca's trip through the hedge.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Editorial Note

Coming soon... Part II, chapter twelve, in which Rebecca prepares to retrieve Ginny's journals.

This will be the final chapter of Part II.

Coming sooner or later, Part III, Chapter I!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Editorial Note

 As always, the next installment of The Blue Dog Journal is imminent. While we wait and see in which direction the narrative will next take me, I offer this selection of poetry from part II, chapter seven. As true readers will recollect, the following piece, O Chocolate! My Chocolate, was written by Ginny and appeared in The Broken Heart Review.

O Chocolate! My Chocolate

When I was young
you were the only one
to kiss my lips
and tickle my tongue.
Now I’m older,
my body has changed,
and things can never
be the same.
I used to love
your bars and chips
but you broke my heart
and went straight to my hips.

– Virginia Jason –

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Part II - eleven

Though retrieving her journals from the house on Euclid St. had been foremost in her mind for most of a week, ever since she’d discovered them missing, it had taken Ginny most of that week to work up the nerve to return to the house. She really did not want to see Gordon. Now, here she was the night before she and Rebecca were leaving for San Pia, heading over to 61 Euclid afraid of how he might react. She’d wanted to give him as much space as possible in a small town. She knew in a way that stroked her ego, she was ashamed to say, that Gordon would need time to get over her. As it turned out, she needn’t have worried. Ginny would not see Gordon again for quite some time.

Partially to save gas and partially to clear her head of wedding logistics, she had decided to walk to the house at 61 Euclid Street. It was only a few blocks, at most, but by the time the house rose gray in her view the evening had begun to darken around her. She hadn’t expected night to fall so soon. As she approached the porch at the front of the house a dim light above the door flicked on. The motion detector which activated the dim bulb after dark was sensitive, she knew, and she was glad for it as she ascended the creaky steps to the door.

As part of her effort to sever the relationship as cleanly as possible, Ginny had returned her key the day she moved out. So it was that she found herself knocking at the front door of 61 Euclid, and waiting in the deepening dusk for a reply. When no answer seemed forthcoming she knocked again; and again before deciding that nobody was at home. She wasn’t sure of the time. Maybe Gordon and Darby were still at work. Or perhaps, and she found this unlikely, they were out partying somewhere. It was just as well, in any case. She would leave a note for Gordon. She and Rebecca could pick the journals up on their way out of town tomorrow morning.

Just as Ginny moved to swing her small black backpack from her shoulders, to retrieve a pad of Post-Its and a pen, the bulb above her head snapped off. Or perhaps it should be observed that just as the 25 watt bulb above her head snapped off, Ginny moved to access her backpack, thereby activating the motion detector, which flicked the light on once again. Hoping it would remain on long enough for her to jot down a quick note, she knelt on the porch and rummaged briefly through her bag, removing a pad of blue Post-Its, a roll of scotch tape (because, though she loved the sticky notes, they often just weren’t sticky enough) and a black pen. 

As she put pen to paper, the sound of Stony Creek splashing along its course behind the house came dimly to her ears.

Gordon (she wrote)

Just as well you're not home, I'm sure. I came for some
stuff, personal, upstairs in the closet. Do us both a favor - throw it in a bag and leave it by Turtle Rock 'round back. I'll send Rebecca by to pick up.

Be well,


The light timed out just as she finished. Rising, she activated the dim glow once more and taped the note to the pale white door. In the feeble illumination of the dim porch bulb, the little square of blue paper seemed to glow, faintly. Ginny remembered picking this particular pad of paper because it was nearly the same shade of blue as the dog she had been trying to conjure. The dog she had conjured. She smiled. It was the blue dog journals she had come for tonight. She could still see them up in that closet, so clearly in fact she didn’t understand how they had missed being moved.

Again she heard the creek splashing along behind the house, the liquid chatter almost a silver stream running through the night itself. Throwing her supplies back into her bag, she heard movement in the yard behind. Or thought that she did. When she turned, there was nothing but the empty yard and the night ripening beyond the dim border of the porch light. A couple of street lamps had flickered on out there and even now their yellow sodium lights were growing brighter.

With a final look at her note glowing blue on the door, Ginny swung her backpack over her shoulders and darted down the steps, so fast they didn’t make a sound. She decided to take an alternate route home and so headed out across the small field at the end of Euclid Street. It was dark but she didn’t have far to go to the pedestrian bridge that would take her back across Stony Creek and, ultimately, home. Behind her, 61 Euclid sat in the new night, porch light dimly burning. The thin hedge which hugged the front of the house shook and rustled a moment, too violently for the whisper of a breeze that blew through the night, and then was still.   


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Editorial Note

Again she heard the creek splashing along behind the house, the liquid chatter almost a silver stream running through the night itself. Throwing her supplies back into her bag, she heard movement in the yard behind. Or thought that she did. When she turned, there was nothing but the empty yard and the night ripening beyond the dim border of the porch light.

- Part II, eleven coming soon! -

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Part II - ten

Rebecca, walking home from The Rolling Bear, where she had tendered her leave of absence to a more than understanding Melinda, was fairly buzzing with excitement about her cousin’s wedding. She and Ginny would have to leave for San Pia in about a week, she figured. That would get them there in time to get settled and attend the single rehearsal before the rather hasty nuptials. That would also give them time to pack and get organized on this end.

By the time she got home, she had begun several mental “to do” lists, and was realizing the need for another as she walked through the door to find Ginny turning their new apartment upside down. Standing agape as Ginny ransacked the sofa, she asked, “What’s going on?”

Seeing Rebecca standing there all quizzical, Ginny paused with a couch cushion in her hand. “I don’t believe it, Becca…” she exhaled and returned the cushion to the couch, “but I think I left something at Gordon’s…”

Rebecca slipped her purse from her shoulder, placed it on the back of the couch, as she noted for future reference, and approached Ginny. “A journal?” she asked, knowing already that it was a journal.

Ginny nodded. “A couple of them, I think.” Now she shook her head. “I just don’t understand how I could’ve forgotten them. But I swear I can see them in that big old closet.”  

“Me too…” Said Rebecca, “and I’d swear we left that closet empty!”

The lovers looked at each other.

“Well,” said Ginny, “I’ll go see if I can find them… They’re in an envelope, I think.”

“Manila,” offered Rebecca.

Ginny chuckled, knowing that Rebecca saw the same manila envelope, stuffed with composition books that she did. “You’re spooky sometimes, baby…”

Grinning, Rebecca replied, “That’s why you love me, Virginia.”

Ginny wrapped Rebecca in an affectionate hug, gripping the younger woman’s blue-jean clad backside in her hands and smiling. “That,” she replied, “and your beautiful eyes, your bright smile, your sweet, sweet…”

Rebecca silenced her lover (and what Ginny had intended to be a lengthy litany of Rebecca’s assets) with the first of many kisses; and so it was that Ginny was delayed, for several days as it turned out, in the search for her missing journals.