Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dead Luke (Part 2)

dontravis.com blog post #269

Sorry, but I can’t help myself! DSP Publication notified me they’ve accepted my novel, Abaddon’s Locusts, for publication, probably in the first quarter of 2019.

This week, we continue the eerie story adapted from a Mark Wildyr short story. He called his Apparition. I labeled it Dead Luke.
Here’s part two of three parts.

*****
Courtesy of infinity explorer
DEAD LUKE
Adapted from a short story by Mark Wildyr

At nightfall, I picked up a book and began reading. At the first pucker of gooseflesh, I stood and faced the darkest corner of the room. Feeling more than a little silly, I announced, “All right, Luke, I know the score. You’re dead, so dammit, go where dead people go!”
An agitated stirring roiled the corner nearest the fireplace. Not noises, not light or shadow, just a stirring. And that high keening filled the room again. It was not exactly a noise, just a sensation of noise. So help me, my flesh puckered again. Every square inch of my body dimpled. My breathing slowed, and I began to sweat. The temperature in the room dropped three or four degrees.
“Stop it!” I shouted. “Dammit, I didn’t do anything to you. Leave me alone!”
There was a noise like a rat scrabbling that stopped my heartbeat. Then from behind me, there was a clink from the fireplace. I whirled, almost falling over. Was that how he fell? Was he trying to engineer an accident for me, too? Was he spiteful? Vindictive?
Nothing stirred on or near the fireplace, but that clink I’d heard was one sound that was clear and definite and real! Not a figment of my imagination.
Irked, I snapped off the light and started for the bedroom but halted when I heard the clink again…once, twice, three times. Until now I had not been frightened. Worried, nervous, anxious, spooked…but not frightened. I turned to face the fireplace.
Moonlight flooded one end of the room; the other was in darkness. At one corner of the mantle, a shadowy, indistinct impression of a form…something cloudy or amorphous hovered over the hearth, clawing at the mantle. Totally freaked, I flipped on the overhead lights. Nothing there.
My heart beating a thunderous tattoo, I was drawn to inspect the mantle. As I laid my hand on a flat rock on the top, something brushed my hand. Frightened, I flinched…and heard a noise. The grate of stone on stone. My mysterious clink!
Swallowing to lubricate my dry throat, I tugged at the flagstone. It came lose in my hand, revealing a hollow with a dusty book inside. A great sigh filled the room. Me or Luke? I didn’t know, but at that point, my nerve failed. I threw on clothes and fled the apartment, spending the rest of the night in a 24-hour diner swigging coffee.
I waited until daylight before returning home. As soon as the door closed behind me, I inspected the apartment from top to bottom. Everything was normal; except for the mantle. The book still rested in its exposed hiding place.
“Crap, Luke!” I whispered. “I opened the damned thing for you. Why couldn’t you just take it and leave me in peace.” The absurdity of my remark was not lost on me.
The book was a dairy. Figuring that he intruded on my privacy, I sat down and stuck my nose into his. Luke Collins started the dairy about a year before his death. I felt like a thief stealing the private life of another, but I couldn’t put it down. He was a bright kid, witty, happy, and homosexual. He was apparently very sensitive about his orientation and had remained virginal. Most of his entries centered on what he one day hoped to find in a man. Then the nature of his writing changed.
I met him tonight!” he wrote. I knew it was him immediately.
Luke Collins met Drew Knighton at a symphony performance at Crandall University. They talked casually at intermission, as strangers do at such things, and arranged to have a drink afterward. Shy, sensitive Luke made no effort to reveal himself that night. That came later.
I can’t believe it! Drew called and invited me to dinner. We got to know one another so well tonight. He’s twenty-nine and an engineer and absolutely marvelous. We talked for hours about philosophy and music and dance, and even sports! He knows about basketball and football and those things. He’s promised to take me to games and teach me things.
A week later, the teaching began. Luke graphically wrote of the way Drew initiated him into a different lifestyle…foreign to him until then. The daily entries went from astonishment to enthusiastic to downright euphoric.
How happy I am! I think for the first time in my life, I’m really happy! It happened, and it was as wonderful as I knew it would be. Drew says it was great for him, too.
I tried to work up some righteous indignation, but instead of being revolted, I found myself strangely aroused. I’ve never been drawn to men beyond an embarrassing tryst with my best friend once in junior high. Nonetheless, I got a charge out of reading this innocent young man’s account of his first real love affair.
I dropped the book to my lap as a thought struck. Why had Luke been so insistent that I discover his personal diary?

*****
Aha! One mystery solved, and another on the horizon. Why did Luke…dead Luke…want our hero to find his deeply personal diary?

And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


See you next week.

Don


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dead Luke (Part 1)

dontravis.com blog post #268

Good news. DSP Publications just notified me they’ve accepted my novel, Abaddon’s Locusts, with a tentative release date in the first quarter of 2019.

My fellow Okie author, Mark Wildyr, wrote a story a hundred years ago (well, maybe not that long) that raised chill bumps on my back. He’s kindly allowed me to adapt it to my own way of thinking about things. My version is shorter than his; nonetheless, it’ll take a serial posting. Here’s part one.

*****
Courtesy of Pixabay
DEAD LUKE
Adapted from a short story by Mark Wildyr

The temperature in the room dropped. Goose pimples crawled up my back. My throat dried up, causing me to try to swallow. My heart raced. The thing in the corner was back again.
A shadow? Reflected light? I knew better. Even before I flipped on the table lamp, I knew there would be no bug crawling up the wall, no undulating cobweb to gather shadows. Nothing. There never was.
How my new apartment was different defied rational explanation; I merely knew that it was. Finding a roomy place at a rock-bottom price within two blocks of the campus was likely a warning, but such a bargain called for action, not investigation. I leased it on the spot.
Green House, a modest old white-painted mansion, had been cut up into four apartments. I shared the second floor with another academic a couple of years my senior, an instructor at Crandall University where I was enrolling for graduate work in Business Administration.
As to the strangeness, on my first night in the apartment, I woke convinced I was not alone, although I was. The next morning, as I studied my schedule for the upcoming semester, I’ll swear someone breathed in my ear. Later, I thought I saw someone out of the corner of my eye when no one was there. It called to mind movies like The Amityville Horror except I had no sense of evil or impending doom. Nor was there a feeling of capriciousness that I associated with poltergeists. God! Poltergeists, yet! My conscious mind insisted these things had a natural explanation. The subconscious? Well, that was another matter. Scratch deep enough, and we’re all primitive.
I woke at 3 o’clock one morning to a high, thin keening that came from nowhere and everywhere. Sweating, I sat up in bed. My heart thumped. Chill bumps literally, covered my body. Then I heard a distinct chink from the other room like something had struck a stone in the old fireplace. It came again.
I slipped out of bed and naked edged my way to the door. My flashlight revealed no one, nothing. I flipped the switch on the overhead and flooded the room with light. Nothing. Was there a bat or something up in the old flue? I returned to bed where I covered myself against a sudden chill and tossed and turned until daybreak.
In the light of day, my nighttime anxieties seemed foolish, yet a week of unexplained sightings or near-sightings or impressions of sightings and seven nights of lost sleep were enough!
My across the hall neighbor, pointed me in the right direction when he said I was the third tenant in the past year. I asked if he knew why there was such a turnover.
“Naw. All claimed it was noisy, but I think it had something to do with what happened a year or so ago. Some people are funny about living in a place where somebody died.”
“Someone died in my apartment?”
“Yeah. Don’t remember much, but it was in the papers. Some guy died in an accident or something. Landlady didn’t mention it?”
“Not hardly!” I said with feeling.
“Oops. Am I gonna lose another neighbor?”
I smiled at him. “No way! The deal’s too good.”
After class, I drove to the town’s only newspaper. They had old issues on microfiche. Without much trouble, I located the news items about the accident the neighbor mentioned.
A twenty-one-year-old student named Luke Collins had been found dead in the apartment. At first, police investigators termed it a death under suspicious circumstances but later decided the boy had fallen and struck his head on the fireplace.
The hair on my neck rose as I recalled the distinctive sound of something striking stone last night. The fireplace was flagstone. When I returned home that afternoon, I inspected the hearth carefully and decided that one dark spot was blood soaked into the porous rock. Uncertain as to how I felt about that, I walked to the nearest café and had a blue-plate special while mulling things over. By the time I finished, my mind was clear. The price was right, the location was superb, and I wasn’t about to surrender that apartment to anyone…living or dead!

*****
Why is Luke…dead Luke…haunting the apartment where he died? And what can he possibly want from our protagonist?

And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


See you next week.

Don


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Fraternal Twin

dontravis.com blog post #267
  
Deep into 2018... and it’s already time for a new post to dontravis.com. I dug down and came up with another piece of flash fiction. Romance seems to have been on my aged and failing mind, so let’s continue the theme with this week’s piece. Hope you enjoy.

*****
THE FRATERNAL TWIN
What… a… life! Eighteen. College frosh. Cool. Handsome and sexy, at least according to my new girlfriend, Doreen Hadley. She’s the best girl I’ve ever had… well, almost had. Getting close. Just t h i s far from home. Should be there before midterms. I can tell Reenie—my pet name for her—wants it as much as I do… and that’s a lot.
I stood outside the Student Union Building after last class and watched Reenie’s fraternal twin brother head my direction. Durell Hadley is a mystery to me. Downright strange sometimes. He’s a freshman like Reenie and me but doesn’t run with my crowd. He’s tennis and swimming; I’m football and soccer. Right now, from halfway across the quadrangle, he’s moving with this unusual grace; nothing girlish, but it’s...well, it catches the eye. Weird! Crap, what did he want? He waited until he was right in my face to speak.  His eyes were big and chocolate brown like Reenie’s. Her eyes were her best feature.
“Kilgore.” He blinked a slow, deliberate blink. “You’re screwing my sister, and I want you to stop.”
I met the moment with maximum casual. “Not yet, but that’s up to her.”
“No!” Durell said in a firm voice with a finger on my chest, his nose virtually touching mine, and those big Hershey’s orbs gazing straight into my eyes. “If you’re gonna get a Hadley, it’s gonna be me!”
My voice rose an octave. I’d braced for a sucker punch, but not this one. “You mainlining, smoking, or popping, man?”
“You want a Hadley, it’s gonna be me. Me or nobody.”
“Screw you!” I put a sneer in my voice.
“Exactly,” he said with a gentle smile before striding away. “We’ll talk about it later.”
Flabbergasted, I wondered if this was his squirrelly way of putting an end to my dating his sister. Weird way of doing it, but like I said, Durell was passing strange.


Looking back, that seemed to be the moment my life went screwy. My next date with Reenie flopped, probably because I was nervous about her brother showing up. One day, I took a shortcut past the swimming gym and paused to peek through the window. Durell Hadley stood at the edge of the pool, casually drying off with a towel as he talked to someone in the water. The bastard had good shoulders and long arms roped with muscle. His deep chest was as bare as a baby’s bottom. Not a hair. He didn’t exactly have a six-pack, but the abs were visible. I could have almost put my hands around his waist…not quite, but damned near. Good hips, cute bubble butt, and long, trim legs like his sister’s. He raised his towel to his head and swiped at a black mop that went curly when wet. Recovering my senses, I moved on, wondering why I had been standing there gawking in the first place. Cute bubble butt? Where the hell had that come from? My laugh echoed down the hallway.
Well, I’d had a personal invitation, hadn’t I?

*****
Has this ever happened to you? Confession time. Hey, tell me your ending to the story. Did Kilgore keep to Reenie or switch gears and go after Durell. They both seem available. That's a thought! Could he have made it with both of the fraternal twins?

And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


See you next week.

Don


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

One Pair of Leopard-Skin Briefs

dontravis.com blog post #266



Hard to believe another year has fled into our past, isn’t it? They seem to be picking up speed lately. By the way, I received the galley proofs for The Lovely Pines from DSP Publications a couple of days ago. That means we’re getting closer to a release date for the novel.

Also, I completed and submitted the manuscript for Abaddon’s Locusts, the fifth book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series.

Now, how about another flash fiction piece this week?

*****
Courtesy of Bangood
ONE PAIR OF LEOPARD-SKIN BRIEFS
Everything unraveled the day I found a pair of silk, leopard-skin men’s briefs atop a pile of our folded laundry. I wear tidy whites, so it didn’t take a lot of brain power to figure they weren’t mine.
Sharon and I married right out of college before either of us knew who the hell we were. We both had a career—nurse and construction foreman, respectively. We probably were in love at one time but emerged from that exalted state a while back. Not a bad record among my generation: four years of bliss followed by two years of indifference, drifting toward hostility.
“Care to explain this?” I asked coldly, prepared to disbelieve whatever outlandish story she came up with. Our sex life was lacking something—a scrap of fake leopard-skin, apparently—but I never dreamed she’d be unfaithful.
Her neutral look frosted into something more hostile. My wife’s full lower lip, once her sexiest trait, shot out in exasperation. “Do I need to?”
I gave her my phoniest smile. “If you found a pair of women’s panties in the car, wouldn’t you expect an explanation?”
She turned nasty at least five or six caustic remarks ahead of schedule. “Not especially. I’d figure they were yours.”
Low blow. Dirty fighting. “Funny!” I held up the briefs. “Maybe you’ve gone butch and are wearing men’s underwear now.”
She looked down the long nose I once thought so cute. “Might make a functioning sexual unit if I had. After all, it takes two to tango. For your information, darling, I bumped into this man at the Laundromat and we spilled our loads—”
“Define ‘loads’ for me, will you, sweetheart?”
She stamped her foot and sprayed locks like that bratty kid Margaret in Dennis, the Menace. “Cute, coming from the man who has trouble delivering one. Do you want an explanation or not?”
I twisted my face into a frown. “I think I’ve got it. Some guy’s stuff got mixed up with yours. Right? Oh, by the way, define stuff, will you?”
“You argue like a girl, did you know that?” She arched an elegant eyebrow at me. “But my explanation happens to be the truth. Anyway, it’s the only enlightenment you’re going to get. And by the way, if you fixed the damned washing machine, like the man of the house, I wouldn’t have to go out to clean our clothes. From now on, you do it!”
“I don’t have time—”
“And I do?” She spun on her heels and stomped away, leaving a pair of men’s silk underwear decorated with faux feral cat roundels dangling from my fingers.


I ran out of clean clothes about the same time I ran out of marriage. By then we were merely an economic unit sharing living space and expenses. Sharon didn’t speak to me any more than absolutely necessary, and I held my tongue around her. She fixed her own meals; I fixed mine…well, the cafeteria down the block did. She had her bedroom; I had mine. She did her laundry; and I, apparently, was to do mine.
It was late spring and our busiest season at work, so I hadn’t had an opportunity to look at the washer. Consequently, I loaded the clothes basket with my soiled rags, pointedly ignored her dainty things, and headed out the door for the Zia Laundromat half a mile down Montgomery Boulevard from our house. I took along that stray pair of underwear in case I found the stud who Sharon apparently felt was more of a man than a life-long construction worker.
The Laundromat was big and airy and damned near empty this early in the evening. Everything was stark white… walls, machines, tables. A couple of women sat in chairs lining the east wall, probably comparing notes on what wusses their husbands were while washers in front of them chugged and gurgled and groaned, emitting vapors of bleach and detergent and other earthy odors I did not care to contemplate.
I spotted a young fellow fussing around on the west side of the building, so I figured that was the men’s section. I hadn’t been in a Laundromat in ten years, and the machines bore little resemblance to the ones out of my distant past. I must have looked confused because the stranger stepped up and showed me how to set the machines. After swallowing an ungodly amount of quarters, the washers—one for whites and one for coloreds like my mama taught me—pissed and glugged and chugged doing the labor of a dozen washerwomen of yore.
“Hey, you forgot this!” the guy said, snatching the clean leopard-skin from the bottom of my basket. Then he did a double take. The good-looking, fair-haired young stud of around twenty-three or four held up the underwear by the elastic band.
“Man, where’d you get these? I slipped them into a chick’s basket after we bumped into one another. Figured she’d look me up to give them back. But she didn’t.”
I couldn’t decide whether to slug the son of a bitch or go the bar, get drunk, and mourn my marriage. Hell! Why not all of the above?



*****
I hope none of you have reached this point in your relationship. But it does happen, right?

And now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. There are a lot of you out there with something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


See you next week.

Don


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.