Scalp Collecting aint easy, Ya’ll

Scalp Collecting aint easy, Ya’ll

This is an update rant (because the whiskey told me so) about all of my upcoming projects…..Since the buzz is literally in my finger tips, I believe this to be the proper time to sum up all of my work…..

Stories We Tell Our Dead: This is my collection of short stories with a novella (The Glass Spider) included. This was originally suppose to be a serious collection with a lighter tone, but I said fuck that and took it from a nice PG13 to a NC17. Should be out soon!

Scalp Collectors: My free novel that I am releasing chapter by chapter on this blog. It is about 2 guys who live in a wasteland of a world and collect scalps for their government. A dose of spaghetti western, mixed with some apocalypse, and a dash of horror. It only makes the best dark comedy!

A Life on Mended Wings: A story about a 20 something trying to survive in the world. A novel filled with theories, criticism, broken hearts, sex, booze and personal hell. Though the book is fiction, it is all based on real stories from my own life.

A Sliver of the Moon: A horror mystery about a detective who is investigating a town where victims are being ripped to shreds by a beast. Sounds typical but I promise you it is not that simple….

Maybe or Maybe Not: I have tons of material I am working on. A novel about people who are trying to survive against a giant bird, another story about a guy who works as a DJ in a strip club, a story about a museum of monsters, and lastly, a secret novel called, Red Autumn Hill.

Do these sound interesting? Do you even give a fuck? We shall find out! Thanks for reading and keeping it all alive. From the bottom of my lonely heart I do appreciate all my support!

1795735_10201305929604908_2839679191201980940_n

 

 

 

Sincerely Yours

Sincerely Yours

This is the closing story in my upcoming collection, “Stories we tell our Dead.” This is the only story in the book without a dedication. The book will be out this spring. Please read and enjoy!

Sincerely Yours

The dreadful sound came from a tree branch. It scraped and clawed at the window, the wind slapping it around as if to carve its name in the glass. Aiden took no notice as he was in a vital trance of concentration. For the last three days he had locked himself away in his cabin in the woods to work on his latest novel. In the last seven years Aiden has produced two novels every six months. Fourteen books have all been best sellers, award winners, and future movie deals, several which had been green-lit within the past year. In his seventh year as a writer, Aiden wanted to release a third book instead of two.

This was an ample project for Aiden. Most of his work has been produced effortlessly and this was no different. Horror stories were his work, and the words slipped out of his fingers onto the keyboard. Aiden never edited his novels, for it was perfect to every sentence he produced. It was uncomplicated, but a third novel in a year would surprise his fans. It would be a stunning task if he could finish the book before he would take his family on a vacation next week.

The vacation spot in particular was Paris. His wife, Amy had always wanted to see it. Their two children were young, but Aiden would make sure they got whatever they wanted. Their son, Markus was four and the child was only concerned with actions figures that he recently discovered at his last birthday. Melena was only three and laughed at anything colorful. Aiden was positive that she wouldn’t mind Paris at all, assuming that she will have plenty to laugh at.

Stretching back from his laptop he took a sip from his tea cup and almost spit out the contents. The heat was gone and Aiden noticed that it had been over three hours since he first brewed the tea. The clock read a half past ten and he could hardly believe it had been that late. For an early spring night he could feel a chill in the air and he decided to take a small break to build a fire.

He walked over to the fireplace, stretching his legs as he did, and began placing logs within. A few moments later he had a lit fire going and Aiden hurried over to the kitchen to make a fresh pot of tea. As the water began to heat up, Aiden grabbed an apple and bit into it. Amy had constructed a wall of fame for Aiden’s work and he couldn’t help but smile while looking at it.

It was her first idea when the cabin was bought. It was supposed to be their romantic getaway from the world on weekends, and first thing she did to it was place all of his writing awards all along one wall. Pictures of Aiden were in between all the different awards, usually being presented with an award or him doing an open mic reading. She even framed his honorary degree he earned from the college he dropped out of.

Since the kids were born he used the cabin to write and he knew that he only had a couple days to finish the novel before he took off for his trip. So, he needed to buckle down and get it written. Aiden just couldn’t take his smile away from the wall of fame. He looked at the wedding photo of his wife. Amy was just as beautiful today as she was then. He had met her at his first book signing. She was the manager of the store and also quite the fan of his first novel. It has been said to Aiden that some fame even with writers can attract the bookworm female types and Aiden didn’t waste any time. Amy was the first one and the only one. He never let the fame get to his head, he just wanted her.

Aiden had every little thing you could imagine. Money, fame, and all the stuff in between, but the thing he cherished the most was the family he created with Amy. The family was everything to him, his motivation to write the next best seller, to give his children and wife everything he didn’t have growing up. The family Aiden came from was broken with three different fathers, drug abused mother, four half siblings that rejected him. His only friend was his best friend, Dylan Moss. Aiden’s only friend before he became successful. How he wished Dylan could see him today. Dylan had committed suicide a couple weeks before Aiden’s first novel was picked up. Aiden honored his deceased friend by picking up his last name for his pen name.

Aiden Moss. One of the best writers in the world, with the perfect life and family. There was a lot to smile about these days. Dylan’s suicide was the last sad moment in his life. Seven years of great memories.

When the tea kettle started to whistle, he made himself a fresh cup and positioned himself back in front of his laptop. Aiden checked his emails, his blog, and any social media site he had to interact with his fans. He placed a couple lines of dialogue from the new novel for his loyal fans to drool over.

Coming across some old emails, he found a video message his wife sent him. Aiden was about to answer it when his phone vibrated. It scared him for a second because it came across loud and fierce. It was sitting by his cup of tea and Aiden didn’t recognize the number.

“Did you forget?” The text said.

“Forget,” Aiden said. “Forget what?” Aiden typed the response and placed his phone down. He didn’t know the number but he was hoping he could message the person the right questions to get the responses that would reveal to him the person texting. When no reply came, Aiden went back to work on his novel for a couple minutes, almost forgetting the text entirely.

The tree continued to scrap at the window as Aiden tried to think of what to type next, but his mind was blank. This has never happened to him before, not in the last seven years. He could not comprehend why he felt this way. It seemed like his muse had vanished and he spun around in his chair staring at the cabin.

Aiden’s eyes caught the little wooden plaque across the top of the outside door. It read “Home Sweet Cabin.” A terrible phrase, but it was a gift from their neighbor, Bill Hartford and Amy felt it was right to place it in the cabin. Bill was an elderly Vietnam vet who was a little too political for Aiden’s taste, but Amy was fascinated with him. The man did have more than enough stories to tell and most of them were filled with humor that anyone could love. Occasionally a Vietnam story would surface and the humor was gone. Most of the time Aiden just wished the old man would go back inside his home.

These thoughts crossed Aiden’s brain when a knock came from his door. It startled Aiden a bit. He hadn’t expected anyone at all. He climbed up from his chair and walked over to the window to have a look out. The tree branch still made its music against the glass. Aiden made a note to cut that branch down in the morning. Nothing out of the ordinary appeared to him. The outside light didn’t turn on when anyone approached the door, nor was there a car in the driveway beside his own. All Aiden could see was the dark and the forest was illuminated by the moon light.

Suddenly a more forced knock startled him. It was loud enough to shake everything in the room.

“I’m coming!” Aiden yelled and wondered over to the door. He unlocked both locks and pulled the door wide open. Darkness was all he saw, the cool air touched his skin gently. The smell of the wilderness was intoxicating. However, on the ground laid an envelope. Nothing written on it at all. No name, no address, not even a stamp. Aiden picked it up and examined it. The envelope was sealed and very warm to the touch. It was almost too hot to handle. Aiden peered again into the darkness and saw nothing out of the ordinary nightmares. No sounds of footsteps in the dark, no moving shadows nearby. Aiden appeared to be alone, somehow. He shut the door and latched it.

Aiden open the envelope, tearing at the seal.

“Dear Mister Aiden Moss” He read.

“I have come to the understanding that you may have forgotten about our agreement we made about seven years ago. I know you must be busy given your success and all, but we must discuss the outcome of the events that have conspired over the years. Our agreement seems compromised and I wish to speak with you in person if you can find the time in your busy schedule. If you can make time to leave your wife and kids alone I know you can make time for your old friend. Just speak my name and I will be there.”

“Sincerely yours,”

“Del Four (IV)”

Aiden paused and felt a cold shiver slide through him. A memory rose into his head as if long buried in a repressed state. “The wooden chair.” Aiden spoke, his voice broken in disbelief.

The memories flashed through his head, he could almost feel the tears that shed from his face as he sat in the chair. They tasted of salt as they slid down his cheeks and dropped between his lips. The memory was real but long forgotten and Aiden was left in disbelief.

“How did I forget that? It was so strange.”

Aiden reread the message, trying to find links between the lines that told him some kind of secret. The part that bothered him the most was that the writer, Del mentioned his family left back at the house. A sour feeling invaded his stomach and he tried to remember Del Four from that day at the cemetery. What did the IV stand for? His best bet was to let himself type it up. Aiden knew he was a master story teller so he decided to let his muse take a break from creativity and went real life. He turned to his lap top and opened a new document and began to type. Aiden couldn’t believe his fingertips as if they were controlled, typing sentences by the seconds. He couldn’t pull his hands away until they had finished the memory. A sloppy story it was becoming, but it wasn’t a time for creativity, it was a time to solve a mystery. Aiden began to read what was written.

“The rain was far off, but I could smell it coming in the air. I stopped at Dylan’s grave and stared. Flowers lay at the headstone and the dirt was still bare of grass, since his burial was only completed a week ago. Tears rolled down my face and I could taste the salt when it hit my lips. I wiped them away with my hands when I saw an odd chair sitting by the grave. It was a wooden stump with a triangle carved to act as a back. Crude looking but it seemed to be a chair to sit for visitors to grieve over. I didn’t pay the best attention to it, since I was trying to remember the good memories of my friend. I took a seat in it, with my head buried in my hands. That is when I heard the voice say, “I’m sorry about my crafting skills, but I was never the best carpenter.” I looked up to see a man dressed in a black suit standing in front of the grave. I was shocked to see him since I couldn’t remember a man standing nearby. He seemed to just appear out of the thin air. He wore a long sleeved black dress shirt with matching pants, black shoes, pale white skin, platinum blonde hair, and sparkling blue eyes that seemed to have no eyelashes. A curled smirk was displayed on his thin red lips and I was instantly afraid. Wiping the tears away I said, “I am sorry. Is this your chair?” The man replied that “It was always meant for you to find and so you have. My name is Del Four and I am here to make you a deal.” I couldn’t really understand what was being said, so I asked the dumb question, “What?” Del laughed as if I told some outstanding joke. His laugh was high pitched and almost hurt my ears. When he finished he said, “What do you want more than anything in the world Aiden?” I was confused over everything so far, but I was even more confused about how he knew my name.”

Aiden read it all and realized the story wasn’t finished. The memory came back, but was incomplete. “What happened?” Aiden read the last part of the letter again, “Speak my name and I shall appear.”

Aiden waited and contemplated on what he should do. The nearby clocked ticked away, the fireplace crackled against the logs inside, and the dreadful tree branch continued to scream against the window. Aiden took a deep breath and said, “Del Four.” It came out in a voice like a whisper, he almost didn’t hear it himself, but suddenly a sound, loud and thunderous hit the door. It knocked three times in a slow rhythm, and everything in the cabin shook. The lights flickered and the fireplace roared to life as if gasoline had fallen into the flames. Aiden knew that if he answered that door and let him in, then all of his questions would be answered, and that is what he feared the most.

Getting up from the chair was the hardest part. His bones ached as if his body had no desire to witness the man dressed in black. If the brain tried to shut out the memory, then it must have been dreadful for the body as a whole. The floorboards squeaked as he walked slowly across them. It was like the boards were saying, “stop.” Aiden payed no attention as he touched his hands on the latch and unlocked the door. He turned the knob and opened as quick as he could.

Del stood before him, His hands latched together in front of him, legs crossed as if in a pose, the smile sent a nervous twitch through his body, and those blue eyes horrified him the most. They were locked onto him like a snake staring down a rat right before it strikes and coils the life out of its prey. The no present eye lashes brought chills across Aiden’s skin. The temperature of the cabin as a whole seemed to drop several degrees colder, even with a roaring fire to keep it warm.

Seconds had passed and Del’s voice was light and eerie. “Hello there,” Del said. “It is usually polite to invite guests into your home, but I guess this isn’t your home is it?”

“Of course. I’m sorry, come in and have a seat.”

Del didn’t move at first, letting a couple seconds pass, “Oh, how kind of you!” He moved fast and with wide struts with his legs and arms. Del Four’s black suit was shiny and stunning. His movement under his garments was fascinating. The man was like an animal in his body language. His eyes were poised like a panthers, his smile was filled with the white teeth of a shark, and lastly, his garments were like the skin of a black widow spider, moving as if to spin a wed to catch his prey.

Aiden shut the door, not bothering to latch it. He already wanted Del out of his cabin as soon as possible. He turned and stared at Del who was already across the room admiring all the photos Amy had put up on the wall.

“Interesting. Lots of success over the years, and a beautiful family to show for it. Wealth, fame, and all the fine wines to drowned the world in. More of a whiskey man myself. I do find it odd that you have not put up a picture of your best friend Dylan. Why is that? If it wasn’t for his unexpected to death you wouldn’t even have this cabin, wouldn’t you agree?”

The man in the black suit liked to talk a lot. “I guess so.” Aiden replied, basically it was all he was physically capable of saying.

Del crossed towards him saying, “Common courtesy is to offer your guest something to eat or drink when they enter your homestead. As I mentioned earlier, I do enjoy whiskey. Would you happen to have a bourbon of some sort that I could use to quench the thirst I have acquired since I entered the cabin?”

“Of course.” Aiden crossed to the upper cabinet and opened to find an assortment of bottles, “My wife, Amy has kept this stocked. She has always assumed that since I am a writer that I keep myself liquored up while writing, but honestly I only drink when I am being social.”

“Cute of her to think that way,” Del said. “Thoughtful when you really think about it. Amy must be a peach.”

Aiden grabbed the 21 year aged bottle and showed it to Del. “21 years good for you?” he asked.

“18, but who is counting?” He chuckled as he stretched his arms out. “Of course, it is just fine!”

Retrieving a couple drink glasses he said, “What about you Del? Any wife or family at all?”

Del didn’t say anything at first, just watched Aiden pour the booze into the little glasses and when he handed it over to him, Del finally said, “No, not in a long while. I have had my share of a paramour of all shapes and styles, but they never interested me long. You have been married to your wife for about six year’s right? With a couple little ones to occupy the time?”

“Yes, it been crazy how fast it went, but it’s been great.”

Del’s smile widened. “I am happy to hear that. Let’s drink to your family.”

The tapped their glasses together and they both took a sip.

“Now, let us take seats, we have much to discuss tonight.” Del pointed to the two arm chairs by the fire place and they both sat in each one. Aiden took another sip of his drink and felt the smooth aged liquor stiffen him up.

“Now, Mr. Four about the letter you sent me….”

“Hush now Aiden! Let us not get right down to business yet! Let us have a few minutes of small talk before we get into business. Also, please reframe from calling me by my last name. I dropped those dreadful Roman numerals for a reason. Please, call me Del.”

Aiden realized that is what the IV stood for. “Sorry, Del it is.”

Del stared into the fireplace, watching the logs burning. “Tell me about your day Aiden.”

“Fine. I woke up, had a bowl of cereal, and went for a hike, stopped to skip rocks across the lake like I did as a kid. I came back for lunch, took a nap, called Amy and kids, and then I got to work on my latest novel. What about you?”

Still focusing on the burning logs, Del took a sip of his drink and said, “I woke up and read the morning news. I ate some grapefruit with a side of wheat toast. I usually tried to ignore business as long as I can, but I noticed some debts needed to be paid. Yours being one in particular. I first, however, had to visit my old friend William first.

Silence fell between them for several seconds. Aiden spoke, “Does your friend William have some debts he needed to pay?”

“Not quite, I just had him do a favor for me.”

“What kind, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Oh, back in one of those wars he was praying to whoever was listening to him to get him out of harm’s way. He really wanted to get back home to his wife safe and sound. This occurred after his friend was blown apart in front of him. He almost fainted when his friend’s head rolled between his feet. Since God and the others are dead I guess I had to answer him. I kept him safe as long as he did a favor for me when I needed it. With the amount of horrors he saw during the war I thought this fit right up his alley.”

Aiden remembered his neighbor, Bill was a Vietnam vet. The old man who gave them that awkward plaque, and the last time he saw him was before he left. He offered Aiden a wave as he backed out of the driveway. “What was the favor you asked?”

“Oh, I cannot discuss the agreements I have made with my clients. I am sure you understand?” Del raised his glass and took another swallow.

“But you told me half of the story,” Aiden began. “Your part of the bargain was to save him from the war, that’s half the agreement.”

Del laughed, “I guess you are right. I have been doing this for so long that I begin to wonder if all I have to say is about bargains and agreements.”

An alarm went off in Aiden’s head, but he wasn’t sure of anything. He waved it off as he was becoming anxious to get this meeting over with. From what he learned of Del Four was that the man seemed to have an old fashioned taste with an old school approach to common courtesy. Aiden’s best approach was to present the man with the same common respect.

“Del, not to rush you or anything. You are more than welcome to my cabin it’s just that I am anxious to talk about our agreement.”

Crossing his legs, Del finished his drink and sat it on a small table between the chairs. “I had eleven brothers and sisters when I was growing up. I was the so called, Black Sheep.” Del said, tugging on his shirt sleeve to prove his point. “The real runt of the litter. I never got along with any of the other siblings. Tell me, Aiden, did you ever get along with your siblings?”

Aiden was very aware that that Del ignored the question. “No, but they were all half siblings. I haven’t spoken to them in years.”

“That is right, you had a few step fathers. Your mother was a very busy woman.” His smile was cruel and insulting.

“How was your mother?” Aiden asked, sipping at his glass. “With twelve children, she seemed quite busy.”

Del laughed. “You have me there, Aiden. You have me there. Amy is getting there herself with two kids to begin with. Tell me, which of your children do you believe will become the black sheep of the family?”

“Well, we plan on having more so my answer would be invalid.”

“Do you?” His face grew serious.

“Yes,” Aiden felt uneasy given the stare that Del was giving off. “Melena is too young to guess right now.”

“You could say so.” Del said. He crossed his legs and put his hands together as a gesture of positivity. Aiden wondered how he could be so certain.

“Now, let’s discuss the letter I sent you. I am guessing you have several questions to ask about the contents that I had written in it?”

“Yes, like how did you know I was at the cabin and my wife and children were home alone?”

“Aiden, can you please retrieve the letter and the bottle of bourbon. I have a need of a refill and I would like to look upon my written words once again.”

Drinking the rest of his own glass, Aiden did as he was told and brought the letter and bottle to Del. This time Del poured his own glass up to the top.

Aiden went to return the bottle when Del said, “Fill your own glass to the height of mine and leave the bottle on the table.”

With every command that Del tasked him with, Aiden did quickly, for each order given was a rise and change in Del’s voice. Aiden took his seat and watched as Del walked over to the fireplace and dropped the letter into the flames and they both watched it smolder away.

“To answer your question Aiden, I have been able to follow you since you first sat in my wooden chair at the cemetery.”

“Yes, I can remember the chair. I sat in it and you appeared and we made some kind of agreement. Some agreement I have no memory of. Why was that?”

“Those are the rules Aiden. If you sit in one of my wooden arm chairs you have to make a deal with me.”

“But why? How does that work?”

“Aiden,” Del began. “Why is the sky blue? Why is your hair auburn and your eyes blue? Why is the moon not made of cheese? There is a simple science to all of it, but we are not scientists, so let’s not waste our time on these kind of questions.”

The alarm is Aiden’s mind was really set off this time. Del seemed agitated but never lost the smile or the energy behind his eyes.

“Can I ask about the agreement?”

“Of course.” Del said. He sat down and took a long pull on his drink, sucking half the liquids down in seconds.

“What exactly did we agree on?”

Aiden, I had asked you that I will grant you one thing that you get to keep for as long as you want, as long as you sign over your soul to me after seven years. I offered you the ability to speak to the dead, so then you could keep Dylan in your life. I could unfortunately not bring him back to the light of day. His soul is wondering around in the cold dark for all I know. Look at your life now and tell me what you asked for.

Aiden’s eyes glanced at his wedding ring and he rubbed it gently, “The one thing I never had that I always wanted. A loving family.”

Del exploded in laughter and almost choked on his drink. “No! That’s what you wanted, but you lied to me in the cemetery that day! I could read your heart before your head spoke. You wished to become a famous author, if not the greatest author of all time. I couldn’t tell you why you lied to me that day, but I didn’t care. I just wanted you to sign the contract in blood.”

The story seemed off, but his heart told him true. He lied to Del that day and Aiden thinks he knows why. One thought took him off the most. “I signed in blood?” Aiden said.

“I snapped my fingers and a cut formed on your palm, like this.” Del snapped his fingers and Aiden felt a pinch on the palm of his right hand. Upon inspection, a gash had appeared across the hand and the blood spilled out. The blood or the pain had no reaction to him. Witnessing the blood brought all of it back to Aiden, every aspect of the memory. The smell of rain was fresh for a brief moment.

“You handed me a crow feather, and I stuck the pointy end into my palm and wrote my name in blood.”

“Exactly! Well done! The memory usually comes back with the sight of blood.”

“Why is that?”

Rubbing his chin, Del stared into the fire and said, “Blood, we can lose it, regain it, but there is always a few cells that have been there since the start. It witnesses everything! The slight attack on the body and the blood knows. Why did ancient tribes preform sacrifices and blood rituals? It’s the blood that links life together. Blood is the road to the heart and the heart is the way to the soul.”

Aiden thought this over and sipped at his drink, watching the blood spreading in his hand, as it painted him, wiggling his fingers to smear the blood around.

“Look at that,” Del said. “Booze really does thin the blood. I would propose you get a bandage for that hand.”

“So my seven years is up? You have come for my soul?” Aiden knew the truth even before Del nodded his head slowly, and he felt dread like he never has before, but he remained calm, keeping himself steady. He just hoped Amy and the kids could move on. Aiden had made enough money to keep them going for a long time. The only thing he wanted was for them to be happy, his own death wouldn’t matter if that could be accomplished.

“Is there any chance of a bargain?”

“You can’t bargain what you don’t have?” Del said sharply.

“What?”

“As I told you in the letter, I believe over the years our agreement has been compromised. That soul of yours was no longer in your possession and it hasn’t been in a while. I have been waiting to see if you could get it back before the seven years but you never did and now our agreement has taken a different turn.”

Aiden was baffled. “What are you talking about? My soul is right here, inside me. I couldn’t be talking to you if I didn’t have a soul.”

“Why is it that all of you people think that the fact you are alive means you have a soul? What you have is a life! I am not coming for your life, I want your soul. In some time period the definition became the same for so many people.”

“So you are not here to kill me?”

“I should since you gave your soul away, but I will not.”

The news was bliss in the mind of Aiden, but he knew he was still in hot water. Del looked amused but a bit angry with a dose of hunger than felt cold to look into his eyes.

“Tell me something Aiden? Why did you lie to me that day seven years ago? I know in your heart you know the truth, and I believe I do as well. If you could be kind enough and humor me with your explanation?

Aiden remembered and he gave his best answer. “Back then, before the fame and family I really had nothing. Something Dylan always told me was that if you want something, just take it. Lie, cheat, ruin the system that so many people can be blind to. Sometimes it could be something as simple as stealing a candy bar from a gas station. Dylan and I would both do it. I was different back then. Dylan was the only person I had in my life and I followed his lead. The thing about him was he always dove in head first of the situation. If he wanted something he just took it and ran. I was the clever one. I planned out a scenario and I would pull the strings in the right way to get people to move like puppets. It got to be simple and sometimes people just gave me things because of the lies I would sell. It never worked on my family though. That day in the cemetery was honestly unbelievable at the time. I didn’t believe a word you said. I thought you can’t trick me! No one can. So I decided that if there was a small chance any of this was real I was going to trick you into giving me everything off one simple wish. I liked to write, secretly wanted to be a writer so I asked to be a famous one, because if I wanted a loving family I could just buy one. If someone tells me they love me, I would rather hear a gold digger lie than not hear anything at all.”

“You are not as clever as you think.” Del said slowly, but his face was expressionless.

“How so?”

“Not long after the encounter, you had forgotten the event ever happened, but for some reason you felt the urge to give this woman your all. This woman who loved you for who you are and everything I made you into. You got what you wanted all along and in your wedding vows you never lied. When you held her at night you told her the truth and you never tricked her. Do you remember a line you once told her when you proposed to her, that you later stated in your vows?”

Aiden thought for a minute and remembered the proposal. He took Amy back to where they had their first date. The little quiet sandwich and soup place and they both ordered a Rueben, the restaurants specialty. After they finished, he took her hand across the table and told her many things, leading to the proposal. One thing he said struck Aiden like an arrow in his heart and he said it outload to Del.

“I give you every little thing. My heart and soul as well.”

“Your heart and soul as well!” Del yelled, and sounded angry as he threw his glass of bourbon into the fire place where it erupted. Aiden flinched and saw a smiling look on Del’s face.

“I can’t very well take that away from Amy! There has never been an agreement with her, last year she was visiting her grandma’s grave and I even placed a chair there just to see if she would sit in it and she did not, sadly. I cannot take souls unless you agree to it and you gave it away when you already promised me it was mine!”

Aiden felt good inside. He was still terrified of the man in front of him, but he realized he accidently tricked Del and now he was safe, but if he could cut his hand at the snap of his fingers, Aiden dreaded what his punishment was going to be. Aiden was still confused on one thing.

“I understand what I did and I am sorry for that, but can you at least tell me what a soul really is?”

“It’s a force that drives you to keep on living. You no longer are living for yourself, you are living for your wife. Most people who get married still live for themselves or at least a piece of them is. You are not at all! You are trying to write a third novel this year before you leave for Paris. You say it’s for your fans but you are still lying to yourself. You are doing it so you can spend more time with your family. She owns you, and I cannot.”

“So where do we stand?” Aiden asked.

“You beat me! You want to hear me say that? You beat the bad guy.”

Aiden felt relieved and a smile finally formed on his face. He even laughed a little. It was when he looked into Del’s eyes he saw something that made the room feel chilled. Del was staring into Aiden’s life with frozen eyes.

“Would you like to know what I do with the souls I collect? I take them to the darkest place where I reign as a Forever King. It’s really cold there and I place all my little souls into a little frozen lake and they swim around in the bitter frost, lost in the dark. The energy it gives off is delicious and captivating. It’s what keeps me alive and happy. It’s my life support and the only reason I am alive to this day, and all the other deities died out years ago. My reign will last another eternity or two. Perhaps, even forever.”

“I guess you are one soul less this time.” Aiden said, very aware of the arrogance in his voice.

 

“You feel very proud of yourself, don’t you? You were proud and arrogant for every book you wrote, and for the record, I controlled your hand and wrote every book you have published. Those are Del’s works, not yours. However, you still get to keep on writing. The agreement wasn’t just for seven years. I just claim your soul after seven, you still get what you want till you lay cold and dead. You may go on to be the greatest who ever lived and I still go without a soul! I should just warn you that even with the God you know is dead, you should probably remember one of the deadly sins.”

“Which one would that be? I have never been much for religion.” Aiden said happily.

“That’s why you were ripe for the picking, but what you are suffering from is the sin called, Pride, and that is my most favorite sin!”

“Well I guess you are just going to have to enjoy it this time around. Nothing you can do about it right?”

“Oh you’re wrong. I have already dealt with it, thanks to my good friend William! Remember him? I never did tell you what was the favor he did for me.”

“Honestly I don’t really care now. My worries are gone!”

“There it is again! That pride of yours! Lovely!” Del said happily, taking a flask from the inside of his jacket and started gulping it down. He offered it to Aiden and he shook his hand to refuse.

“I insist you take a drink.” Del said. His voice sounded that it had come from a void of nightmares. Aiden drank from it freely and felt the liquid scorch its way down the throat.

. “He probably wouldn’t want me to tell you anyways! He is already annoyed with me for calling him, William. I guess only his wife is allowed to call him that.”

This interested Aiden a bit. Aiden had always had a simple name and had no need to have a nick name. He remembered one of his stepfathers was named, Robert, but he always went by, Bob. That thought is what made Aiden’s heart sink forever and the cold crept into his bones and froze his pride in place. In that moment Aiden realized that a shortened name for, William was, Bill.

Aiden jumped out of his chair and looked at Del who started laughing into hysteria. The heart in Aiden’s chest was working like it was having a panic attack, dismay flooded his whole body and he had so many thoughts ripping through his mind he felt a hurricane of madness running him down where he stood.

Del stood up, “You know when William Harford looked into the dead face of his friend after the head rolled between his legs, and he noticed the eyes were twitching. Tell me, Aiden, Do you think the eyes of his victims twitched as well when I lead him to kill them?”

“What!?” Aiden’s voice asked, a voice splattered in horror.

“Look into the fireplace, Aiden Moss.” Del’s voice grew dark and sinister. The flames turned blue and a cold came from them. Deep into those cold flames Aiden looked and soon he saw images. Images of Bill walking into his wood shed, grabbing an ax, hoping the fence and entering Aiden’s home from the back door. Aiden saw his daughter crawling on the floor and didn’t even see Bill raise the ax up high, it jumped to an image of Bill walking into Aiden’s son’s room. Little Markus raised his action figure up as if to shield him. It jumped to the last image as a deranged Bill chasing Amy through the house till she was cornered in Aiden’s personal library. She yelled and pleaded but Bill drove the ax down multiple times. Aiden could smell the scent of fresh blood as it came from the smoke. Copies of Aiden’s books fell on the floor, blood splattered across the covers of the books. His stomach was sick and he was frozen in place.

“I didn’t get to have your soul Aiden, but I still had it taken away all the same!” Del said laughing.

“NOOOOOOOO! YOU!” Aiden yelled as he jumped at Del. Aiden went straight through him as if he wasn’t even standing there. He landed into one of the arm chairs and flipped it back, Aiden rolled with it. He jumped up yelling and ran towards Del. His left hook went through Del’s face as if it was air and it connected with the fire mantel, tearing at his knuckles. He swung a thousand more times and never hitting him. Del was laughing as if this was the greatest tragic comedy he ever witnessed.

Aiden finally hit the floor, broken and devastated, fresh tears rolling out of his eyes.

“If you look into the fireplace again. You will see the outcome of what Bill did after. That may cheer you up!”

When Aiden looked all he saw was Bill smashing his face in with the ax in Aiden’s garage. He saw it but didn’t care, the damage was done.  His wife, and kids were dead. As was his soul.

“For breaching our contract, Aiden, I hear by sentence your punishment as living in the cold your soul never made it to. For now until you die at a very old age you will live your life accordingly. You will still write my books, collect your paychecks, and talk to your fans, but you will never love again, nor will you have any desire to live, but you can’t commit suicide, because I will be there to keep it from happening! Maybe a crazy fan will try to kill you? No, I will be there to stop it! You will die old and alone in your bed, with no desire but everlasting peace. Every single day that you wake up will be the greatest torture of all. No taste to food or drink. All the drugs and alcohol in the world will have zero effect on you. With no soul your life is a blank void, and a smile on your face will tear every muscle under the skin. This is a permanent state, and not even a gold digger will want to touch you for your skin is too cold to the touch. It will hurt after a while, as if your skin is burning from frost bite, but you will have no wounds, only pain and soon you will come to know my cold. In time you will think of it as home. I can be in a thousand places at once. I will be watching and smiling with all the pride I took from you!”

Aiden stared only at his hands, silently crying. He watched the beads of crimson roll off his fingertips. The warmth and happiness was leaving with the blood. The sun was setting in his heart and he could feel the cool of the night coming for him. The night was going to be lingering and frigid.

“Well, I best be going. It was so grand of you to let me into your lovely cabin and show me hospitality. Honestly, I would have killed for some roasted almonds, salted peanuts or something. I have a soft spot for edible seeds. It is much like eating the children of Mother Nature. Wouldn’t you agree, Aiden?”

Aiden stood up and walked to the door, opening it slowly, only looking at the floor. Del walked happily towards it and turned back and said, tell me, who did you think was the Black Sheep out of your children?”

“Melena.”

“You sure know your children…. or did! You will see me again, but it will be a long time from now. I’ll be at the end waiting for you and perhaps, maybe you will take my hand as if greeting an old friend at last. Sincerely yours Aiden Moss! Sincerely yours!”

Aiden shut the door and latched it accordingly. The branch still scraped against the window, but Aiden took no notice. The only thoughts on his mind were the images of his wife and kids. He strolled over to the fire, which has since returned to normal and he placed his hands into the flames. His hands did not burn, nor did the fire felt hot, it was cold to the touch. Aiden took his hands out and went back to his computer. When he sat down he look at his emails and saw the one Amy had sent him earlier. He opened the video message and watched the playback.

It showed Amy and his children in front of the camera. “Hi, Honey!” She said to him. “Kids what do you want to tell Daddy?”

“We love you Daddy!” Markus said and Melena attempted to speak it.

“Come back to us soon Aiden. I love you!” She blew him a kiss and the video was over.

Aiden started crying worse than ever, but silently, as if he could not release all his grief at once. Aiden knew he would never be allowed to. He sat watching the video on repeat, his finger leaving a red fingerprint on the key as he kept tapping.

My Apologies

My Apologies

Ronnie Queen loathed January as much as I do. He loved his dog like I do. Buffalo chicken horseshoes and whiskey are common for the likes of us both. We both brood in the shadows suffering from a sickness with no name.

As you can see, the protagonist of my novel has pieces of my soul, which is why I lay here on a makeshift bed on my floor, feeling the heat coming from the furnace. In a world where Trump is the president, and we can now eat a naked chicken chalupa, I realize my errors in my novel as I notice the faint scars across my face. There is no such thing as fulfillment which means there is no such thing as perfection. Even if a thing such as perfection could be achieved it does not exist in the novel The Devil in the Details.

Looking over the final draft, I see the sentences as childlike, and a lack of understanding of exactly what I was trying to accomplish. The errors rip me apart more than anyone could possibly understand. I knew this then, I believe, but I let my ego get the better of me. I ignored all and sent a broken piece of my soul off for the world to see. How I loathe that I did this and the regret makes my heart fall off rhythm like the rest of my world.

I apologize for the errors and that I rushed the editing of the said novel. The magazine sized copies are enough to laugh about. I am angry at how they turned out and I will fix that along with all of these errors. I cheated myself to all of you and I deeply regret that. So, I will clean these wounds and stitch myself back up, in hoping that these pieces of my soul can actually have a proper place to be looked at.

To all that bought a copy, I appreciate it and am deeply sorry for my mistakes. The redraft will available soon, I promise.

For fucks sake….. T.W. Lycan

 

Tusk (2014) Movie Review

Tusk (2014) Movie Review

I hate this fucking movie. Do not ever watch this piece of filth. If you have a friend who likes this movie then it is time to get better fucking friends. I wanna slap Justin Long and Johnny Depp in the face for agreeing to this. If this is the reason Amber Heard divorced Depp then I am totally 100 percent on her side of it.

Kevin Smith, please quit. You made some great movies….then you made this…..Was it meant to be funny?…..Justin Long constantly screaming AAAARRRGGG! ARRRRGGG! AAAARRRGGG! Boy, what an oscar performance….side note get better CGI for the boy cutting his leg off……..(It breaks my heart because I really liked Red State)

Depp…what the fuck man? That scene with you talking to the killer/redneck canadian was one of the worse things I have ever seen in cinema…seriously….I wanted to drive a fucking drill into my skull…I like many of your films, but that does not save you from this fucking garbage…..I noticed you did a spin off of this and I will never see it.

Haley Joel Osment….Desperate are we?

There you have it 0/5 stars. First film I have ever given a 0 for.tusk

What the fuck is this?

The Devil in the Details

The Devil in the Details

After 2 years and so many drafts, I finally finished my first novel. I technically finished the last draft a year ago but I let it sit before I made final touches. You can find it through Amazon in print and digital…….

https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Details-T-W-Lycan-ebook/dp/B01H4PSS66/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467175804&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Devil+in+the+Details

 

In late 2013 I was ice fishing with my dad when I saw this massive tree just hanging over the ice. I began to wonder what would happen if the tree just fell into the water? On January 1st of 2014 I began to write a story.

Honestly I had no fucking idea what I was doing. I had only written short stories to this prior. The idea of trying to pen up 80,000 words was insane for me. So when I was not writing I was planning. Every free second I had I kept envisioning chapters and building new characters and it all became a confusing mess….then I quit.

Let me backtrack a bit. The previous summer I went through some hell. Tore up some heart strings, had a bit of a mental breakdown, followed by a month bout of Mono that lead to vicodin lucid nightmares…..I was a bit of a mess…on the inside. So fast forward to that winter and all that stress was still eating away at me. Add the novel on top and I fell apart. I quit. I never wanted to write.

In the past I had placed in young authors twice (Disqualified once) and even helped making a script that one critic’s choice at a film fest. I knew all these things but just felt like a broken boy. Any dreams that I had, any love, any trust, or ambition was all just ashes in the air. I felt like a failure….and the only thing i had was whiskey.

Drinking. Now this lead me down a path of destruction and peace. It was an awkward balance and I spent most days with a hangover and most nights I just drank it away. On one of these faithful barstool nights I started chatting with this bartender a couple nights a week. For months I kept my hate all bottled up inside…..and for some reason I told her everything…..Not that it was weird (She told me a lot of stuff too) It was nice to tell someone who didn’t know me on any other level except as a customer. (I think)

She picked me up. Her words were wisdom that I took to heart. (Carpe Magicus) She taught me the definition of perfect and to look at things from a brighter point of view. I took from it to go back to all of that hate and put it in words. After writing it all out…..I was ready to go back to the novel. November 2014 I began a brand new draft. By May 2015 the whole book was written. I let it sit for a bit and went back to it, revised it, then published in on Amazon.

It took me awhile (Mostly because I hate editing) But I got it done. At the same time I read a bunch and wrote a few stories.

I do have some issues with it. Grammar errors. You just can’t find all of those pesky pricks….. Also I did a bad job of separating chapters in the paperback. (I’ll figure it out soon!)

Warning: To anyone who knows me really well…if you find anything in the novel that reflects my real life it is probably a coincidence….or maybe it is not. I honestly don’t fucking remember.

I have a hidden joke in my novel…it’s very dark and so far no one has caught on to it…..if anyone has any guesses…let me know!

Now that I know what I am doing…the next novel will be out much sooner! (Maybe)

13262239_10208081413304643_1710563521_o

 

(Nick did a great job on this!)

Finding Dory, A life in Review

Finding Dory, A life in Review

Today began like any other day….You toss and turn all night, feeling sick and horrible, with a solid dose of nightmares that rip your innards out, and waking up to an email saying your novel was published. Yeah….just any other day….

The day consisted trying to setup an ad campaign for selling my novel (I was very pissed) I realized that I missed every fucking meal except the dinner I was suppose to go to with family. Throughout the day my phone was blowing up with notifications about my novel, people reposting it and etc. I was am very grateful for all of it, but I am mentally exhausted from it all and want a few days off (I can’t fucking do that) A vacation sounds nice…

All I wanted today was to watch Finding Dory….

After a good dinner at Olive Garden with some of my family, (All the carbs) I met with Andrew and Haley at her house to watch Finding Nemo before we saw Finding Dory. We were just a few 20 somethings sitting in a basement watching Disney movies……

Finding Dory

The film was interesting because it was a mix of a prequel and a sequel. Pixar never ceases to amaze me how strange, funny, and heartwarming they make their films with still a predictable ending. The film was spontaneous (Like Dory)  with the the plot twisting around, with many new and awesome characters joining them. The humor was the best part. It was funnier than the first and was overall more enjoyable. Even the ending credit scene was worth it. Sequels are usually a disaster for films, yet Pixar seems to do a great job with them. (I am talking about Toy Story 3 more so than 2)  I don’t want to spoil anything because it’s so new, just go see it….which I know everyone will do because it’s Pixar. When has Pixar ever failed? (Brave?)

Side Note: I noticed at the theater that it was mostly 20 somethings. No children! So, now I feel better about the Disney movie in a basement comment.

What’s Next: Book stuff, Buffy review, and a heartwarming message about best friends and how it shapes and mold our pathetic existence of life! (Maybe)

Right now….I need to find some food and get myself well rested. Tomorrow is a long day of work followed by some sophisticated socializing with my peers. (Beerfest)

Peace!

 

 

Sample Chapter: One Day Sober

Sample Chapter: One Day Sober

Alrighty….This is a chapter for my upcoming novel (The Devil in the Details) I am polishing it up and making last minute changes, but most people don’t really know what its about or the feel of it. Here is a taste……..

One Day Sober

 

For once in his life, Hoagie’s sleep was undisturbed. Tossing and turning, waking to the sweat stained pillow, fresh tears rolling into his white beard. His wife Meryl would wake up and try to comfort him on those nights, anything from holding him to small whispers of reassurance. Meryl was a strong woman and that is why he married her, but he found it hard to believe she never had a nightmare about their dead daughter.

He laid awake trying to remember what part of the dream lingered in his head the night before. Willow, his only child. Hoagie saw her in his dreams most nights, usually they consisted of how he found her, blue face submerged in the pool. She was only eight at the time and nowadays she would have been 34. The dreams he tried to repress but last night’s had got him thinking.

“Did you have a nightmare?” Meryl said. The sun was coming through their bedroom window and lit up her bright face. Hoagie could still see traces of the young woman he fell in love with in college. Her hair was blonde with many gray streaks, but her light brown eyes still showed so much life. Meryl’s cheeks were wrinkled now but the smile still powered through all of it. Hoagie pulled his arm around her and cradled her in their bed.

“Wouldn’t call it that,” He said. “I did see Willow though.”

“Tell me about it.”

Hoagie knew that Meryl loved to hear his stories, he had always been a story teller and his requests were famous. When he is drunk at the bar he will go on about anything, some people did see him as the town drunk, but everyone seemed to love him anyways. Hoagie loved people and wouldn’t harm a soul and some of his stories came straight out of his heart.

“She was standing across the room playing with the pictures on the desk. She moving them around and I watched her and I didn’t think I was dreaming. Willow had her hair tied back and she was wearing this little yellow dress. I had never seen that dress before. When she looked at me she was smiling. She came over to the bed and kissed me on the check. I wrapped my arms around her and felt the cold. I grew scared for a minute but then she reassured me. ‘Don’t worry daddy. You can come see me real soon. I won’t be cold anymore.’ I wanted to speak but no words would come out. Her face was just a beautiful as it was all those years ago. Still our baby girl. She walked to the doorway and said, ‘I will see you soon daddy.’ She walked out and disappeared and that’s when I woke up.”

“That’s much better than the usual dreams,” Meryl said. “Did you drink a lot last night?”

“I wondered that for a minute, but what was strange is, I caught a drink with Ronnie last night, but only one. When I came home you were already in bed and I pulled out that 18 year scotch and had a single glass. Normally I can’t sleep without a buzz, but I did last night. It was like something in the air didn’t want me to have a hangover.”

“Maybe your drunken dreams are why you have nightmares all the time, you know?” Meryl said turning to him. “You are a good man to the bone and even your drunken self is still likeable. You know I have never been hard on you for your drinking. I think maybe you are just growing old.”

“I think my white beard and hair already prove that. I don’t think that’s it.” Hoagie said. “I think I am going to quit drinking.”

“When?”

“Today. My drink last night was the last one. I have always had thoughts that maybe my drinking with Ronnie had really helped push him to the bottle.”

“You can’t put that on yourself,” Meryl began. “That boy had been through hell with his momma dying and his dad’s accident last year. You know better than anyone that Gary Queen wasn’t afraid of that bottle. He could drink a case of beer to himself and he wasn’t the happiest of drunks.”

“No, I think I kind of hated that man a little bit. I would have never have treated Willow the way he treated Ronnie.”

“I think it’s great you look after him.” Meryl said smiling. “He is like the son we never had.”

Ronnie Queen was a boy in his twenties that Hoagie has known his entire life. After Willow died, Hoagie and Meryl moved from Champaign, Illinois to the riverside town of Talon, Illinois right by the border of St, Louis. His first week here he met a man at a bar known as Gary Queen. A mean Texas drunk who had a scar down the side of his head. At the time his wife, Joanna was pregnant with their first and only kid. Hoagie and Meryl have seen Ronnie grow since he was a baby and into his mid-twenties now. Ever since Gary died last year, Ronnie moved into his dad’s house with his dog and became really reclusive. Only Hoagie visits with him and he only shows his face in public when he’s working or down at the bar.”

“Is Ronnie going ice fishing with you today?” Meryl asked.

“No, boy’s working. Sucks too, because the weather for ice fishing this year has been shit.”

Meryl got out of the bed, “Well, I’ll make you some breakfast and some lunch to take with you.”

“You’re the best, you know that right?” Hoagie said.

As she walked towards the doorway she turned and said, “You couldn’t do any better.” Her smile matched Willow’s. She headed down the stairs. Hoagie sat up in bed and looked over at the pictures Willow had been playing with. He stretched and heard all his old bones pop as he stumbled over to the desk. His legs weren’t as good as they used to be.

What Hoagie did notice was that Willow had moved Ronnie’s picture from the back towards the very front right next to hers. Those photos had never been moved and now Hoagie could see a dust line from where the picture used to sit. Ronnie’s photo was angled so it blocked a photo of him and Meryl from their wedding, Now, Ronnie’s photo stood out with Meryl and Willow around him.  He did not have the urge to ask his wife if she had moved these. No reason to fill her mind that their daughter was a ghost.

“I will see you soon daddy.” Her voice still echoed in his mind. He kissed her picture and sat down, but still left Ronnie’s where Willow had left it, blocking Hoagie out of view point and in that moment he saw the faces to the three people he cared about the most, Meryl, Willow, and Ronnie.

Hoagie wondered into the upstairs bathroom and brushed his teeth. He admired the fact his eyes weren’t bloodshot and that he didn’t need to throw up. When finished he got dressed and headed downstairs where Meryl had already got some bacon fried. “Did you want any eggs to go with this?” she asked.

“Afraid not. I think every ice fisherman in town knows this may be our only day to fish this year. I can’t wait around too long.” Hoagie grabbed a piece of finished bacon, crisp and nearly burnt. Hoagie’s favorite kind of bacon.

“I got a turkey sandwich for you on the table right there. Make sure you grab a bottle of water to take with you! Don’t forget your tackle box this time!”

“I know. My head wouldn’t be screwed on right without you, dear.” Hoagie said, shoving more bacon into his mouth.

“It still isn’t but I can manage with a few broken things.”

“Love you too.” Hoagie said, wrapping his arms around his wife. “Seriously, I do.”

She turned and grabbed Hoagie’s bearded face and kissed him deeply. “I know you do. That’s why I chose to stick around so much.” Her smile warmed Hoagie’s heart. He saw so much of his daughter in her face. Some beautiful things could be hidden in the deepest places. It was in these moments that Hoagie could sense his daughter was still alive. Her spirit was in their love, the very love that created her in the first place. It was a constant cycle, a rotation that his heart went through with his family. He knew that when they all are dead and buried, they would find each other in another life and live through all the pain and joy again. Hoagie wouldn’t trade anything else in the world.

Hoagie knew Ronnie was haunted by the deaths in his family and what the boy never understood was how Hoagie always tried to explain it to him. The only way he got over Willow’s death was by the love he shared with his wife. He saw the pieces of his daughter fall from their companionship like a massive puzzle he could put together. Ronnie shared no love with anybody and the only girl that ever loved him was thrown away after his dad died. This angered Hoagie and Meryl to death. Ronnie and his ex-Stephanie were together for so long. They almost saw her like another daughter. It was these tragic turn of events that bothered Hoagie the most about Ronnie. Some things you just couldn’t teach certain people. He always tried to tell Ronnie, “It takes life and death to help us break free.” But he never understood. Hoagie guessed that he would have to keep telling the boy. At moments he wanted to tell Ronnie to do some real soul searching.

Willow’s death still haunted Hoagie’s dreams, but that is only because he found her dead and those images can’t leave his mind. In his nightmares he still feels guilty for an obvious accident. It’s nothing he could have been prevented. It’s the dice God rolled for their family. That is what Walter, the pastor used to say. Walter was no longer the pastor these days. He recently stepped down to spend more time with his family. Hoagie didn’t blame him.

The bacon was scarfed down in minutes, washed down with coffee. He grabbed his supplies and was heading out the door. Meryl grabbed his arm, “Bring back dinner.” She kissed him and Hoagie went on his way.

He felt the sun touch his face and Hoagie wanted to get lost in it. Most January days were always so gray. The sun could always help represent a good day and he knew Ronnie was kicking himself for missing this. Work was important in some matters of Hoagie’s life, but he would drop his job if his life needed a change. When Willow died he quit being a teacher. The drive and the passion was lost because of this invisible veil that was thrown around a room of teenagers. He knew one day she would become a teenager and he might have been her teacher, as the years would grow closer to this it began to drive him crazy. So, Hoagie quit and moved himself and his wife into Talon for a new start. Meryl worked as a florist in town and Hoagie took a job down at one of the factories down by the river. He mostly did assembly line work with little trinkets like pens and such. As the years past he took a shift manager position which worked out well when he would roll into work with a hangover. Then a couple years back he took over as the lead floor head, where he mostly just managed the place for the owners. Paperwork at a desk felt good for Hoagie. His aged body just didn’t have the strength it once did.

This beautiful Saturday wasn’t going to make him think about work. Hoagie jumped into his car and drove down to Crowclaw Lake. A strange lake with it being the shape of a bird’s foot. Talon was a town full of abandon coal mines, now they were deserted tunnels, some of which were turned into a lake.

Crowclaw Lake. Hoagie had heard people around town referring Talon as Crowclaw. He assumed there wasn’t much of a difference. The town had its share of a strange past. Hoagie looked into a lot of it in his early days when he was curious to learn of the strange town. Native Americans had left the area for unknown reasons. They were quoted as saying the ground had gone sour. This was a lost to the white settlers in the area, since they were able to grow crops a few miles away from the shore of the Illinois River. The river itself was full of fish and the land was full of wild game. It wasn’t until the town began to grow did it all become a little strange. It started with a man who killed his entire family with a pitchfork, before locking all of his life stock in a barn and burning it down with a barrel of gun powder. He revealed to the town that a mysterious man in a fancy suit had told him to murder his family and his livestock for they were “tainted.”

When Hoagie had discovered a hidden pond known as “The Pit,” he had to investigate its history. That was when he learned about the witch burnings that occurred in the town. Children had apparently gone missing and the town went insane. After the mining was finished and the lake was filled, the mayor at the time was found dead by the water. A crow’s foot was stuck in his throat, he had apparently tried to eat the bird. It was then they began calling the lake, Crowclaw.

The mayor’s widow was so upset she drown their children in the lake and hanged herself from a tree nearby. They eventually cut the tree down when they built a park there and it became known as “Widow’s Park.” Hoagie thought of how fascinating and creepy the town’s history was. Talon had blood, thick, red, and dripping in the pages of the town’s history book. Every time he walked passed Widow’s Park, he had to stop and think about all the dark history in that very place. He almost wished the tree would still be there. It would almost be too real for him.

Yes the town was dripping in red. A few times Hoagie borrowed some books from the library to take home. He would sit in his favorite easy chair, with a drink and read all the horrible tales the town had. There was the disaster in 1874, where a Ferry boat exploded right out by the riverside when travelers got on. It was loaded and ready to go when it erupted, killing everyone on board. They said barrels of bourbon were in the storage and maybe a small flame from a lantern may have erupted them. The school burning on 1901 was a fascinating one. 57 children were burned up inside. No reason for the flames was ever given. Hoagie’s personal favorite of the dark tales was the one of a giant bird. A giant bird had attacked a small child in 1904. A boy was walking to the newly built school when a bird flew down and picked him up. Reports say the bird had a wingspan of over forty feet, with a black body, a white ring around its neck and rows of razor sharp teeth inside of its needle sized beak. The bird had flown off into the woods with the boy and his body was never found, nor was the bird ever seen again in Talon.

A recent thing that Hoagie had experienced was the missing girl, Marissa Lynch. A girl in her late teens that was seen ice skating around different frozen water holes in Talon. She had been seen everywhere, from little ponds that farmer’s owned, to Crowclaw Lake, and it was rumored even at The Pit. Hoagie had seen the girl many times before she vanished. A real pretty girl he thought. The town seemed more devastated by her loss than most. Her family moved away out of depression. The same way Hoagie and Meryl moved away when Willow died. The pressure could be too much to handle and the only cure was an escape from reality. The body was never found and the worse was feared. Her family declared her dead and a tombstone was erected in the Talon Cemetery. Just another reminder of a missing girl, so gone that even the ground was estranged of a body. Hoagie shuddered at such thoughts. These memories led to him thinking of Willow, decomposing in a tiny little casket.

Hoagie’s mind tended to wonder. He always had to retrieve it or the depression would sink in and he would become thirsty. Today was the first day sober so he had no intention of breaking the seal so early. Never in his life did he ever think that he would be trying to get sober. Meryl never pushed him to, and no one ever said he should. He did have a reputation as a town drunk, but even Hoagie knew he was a fun town drunk. He did do some things that he was glad he couldn’t remember, like the time he pissed in the corner of a bar as he apparently said, “To mark his territory.” He was banned from that bar but that didn’t seem to bother him much since the owner was arrested for apparently having some involvement in some sex trafficking. The bar was closed and reopened as “The Talon Pub.” Terrible drink prices, so Hoagie never went back.

Usually, Hoagie went drinking after a day at the lake. Today was not that day. Ronnie will probably be a bit confused that he quit drinking. He wouldn’t see as much of the boy now. He would have to have Meryl invite him over for dinner soon.

As Hoagie approached the lake he grew excited. This place was his sanctuary and his home of a good time. The lake was vast and a popular fishing place for everyone in town. Hoagie had pretty good luck with the walleyes out on some of these points. Three years ago, he caught his biggest walleye through the ice. Gary Queen laughed at Hoagie trying to wrestle the fish out of his hole. It seemed rare at times to see Gary laugh. Normally he would just complain. If there was one thing Hoagie could clear up about the late Gary Queen was that man spent most of his talking in the field of complaints.

If Gary was still alive he would be out there for sure. That man never passed up a good Saturday for ice fishing. Gary told Hoagie that the only reason he moved to Illinois was for the different weather seasons. He claimed the deer hunting and fishing was much better in Illinois over Texas. Hoagie didn’t have much of an opinion on it. The outdoors were ways of dealing with stress, something he used to do with his grandpa when Hoagie was a little boy. He just enjoyed doing it as a hobby, plus Meryl was an extremely good cook with wild game. He could appreciate a woman who could take a simple rabbit and make it into a fine dining quality dish.

The drive took Hoagie off from the city and farther into the country where it was mostly farmland and wilderness. The roads whipped around with tight curves, whitening the knuckle of every driver who flew around the curves. With not much reaction time Hoagie usually got a kick out of this. The adrenaline of his youth still flooded him to take things to the limit. It did feel good to be young some days. Today was the perfect day to feel like this. Passing the sign that read, “Widow’s Park” Hoagie pulled into one of the parking spots, trying to be extra careful parking in between the lines since the snow and ice was still thick in some parts of the spot.

Getting out of his truck he walked towards the ice, noticing the several cars in the parking lot and seeing the ice shacks out in the middle. That was fine by Hoagie because he was going to take one of the points instead. Stepping on the ice Hoagie walked, almost following some coyote prints that have left their mark in the fresh powder that was still on the ice. The trail took him to the point he wanted to be with the prints heading off onto the bank. Hoagie wondered if the wildlife every really benefited from a frozen lake. Easy access for a predator on the hunt, but what if they little guy just fell in? He doubted it happened often, but couldn’t be sure on the survival. Falling through ice was something Hoagie had never done before and he didn’t plan on starting it at all.

Hoagie dragged his ice shack behind him. It slid easily on the ice, his auger and bucket were sitting on top. Sometimes he found it difficult to put the shack up by himself. Gary and Ronnie usually just sat on buckets even on the coldest days. You could envy someone like that, Hoagie thought. Gary Queen was especially good in terrible climates. He got hurt a lot but he could sit for hours in the pouring rain. The outdoors never seemed to bother the man, just everything else that was around him, like his only child.

Ronnie was a lot like his father. He seemed miserable for a good amount of the day and he spent a lot of his free time in the outdoors. There were times where Hoagie was thrown off guard by how Ronnie could swear and drink like his late father, they even looked alike for the exception of Ronnie’s dyed hair and his eye color. Hoagie would say Ronnie had his mother’s eyes but Hoagie saw something else in him. They weren’t as bright as his late mothers were. They were a dark green, almost the color of evergreen leaves in the heart of the summer

Ronnie also had something else different from his father. He had heart, something Gary always took for granted and the one thing his mother broke. No matter how much shit occurred in Ronnie’s life, Hoagie knew there was a brilliant person inside of him. It came out during the times he was most comfortable. Hoagie attended both his father and his mother’s funerals and he never saw the boy cry. He mourned on his own time he guessed but the thoughts did cross his mind. Is something hiding deeper within him? What is he holding in? What is behind those eyes?

Meryl treated him like her own son and Hoagie always appreciated that. He was a good kid with an even better head on his shoulders. Gary and Joanna Queen went to their graves without ever knowing who their son truly was, but that’s because they weren’t his parents, Hoagie knew Meryl and himself were. They gave him the care he needed, but something’s they could never fix.

When Hoagie was a teenager, he got angry at the world when his grandpa died. He once spent an entire weekend hiding in the woods. He had no food and was drinking out of a nearby creek. Hoagie did a lot of soul searching that day and really found himself. He would feel and hear his grandfather’s voice telling him how to live. It was like a vision quest that Native American’s used to do. He wondered if Ronnie should attempt the same.

It seemed as if a heat wave had fallen across the lake as Hoagie began nearing his position. It felt hard to breathe like the air was thick and heavy beads of sweat was glistening down his face. Unbuttoning his coat, he pushed on trying not to sweat too much. As soon as he lays still the air will freeze it too him. He wished Ronnie was here at that moment to take the load off of his back. Stopping for a minute hoagie sat on the shack and took his bottle of water out of the bucket and slammed half it down, a little bead of water had fallen into his beard. Hoagie wasn’t feeling much better as his stomach tossed and turned the liquid. When he stood up he felt a bit dizzy, but he kept on, marching to the next stop. A chore it became for him to lift each leg up to take another step, a process he has done a thousand times before that was becoming a hassle.

“Boy, I sure am getting fucking old.” Hoagie said. He tried to never swear around Meryl. He never understood why men swore around women at all.

A slow aching pain was occurring in his shoulders and began to grow rapidly. Hoagie still trekked on with nothing but his desire to fish to help motivate him to his destination. The dizziness was growing worse and the pain in his shoulders was moving to his chest. Feeling weak all over Hoagie could feel himself falling before it happened. He fell face first down onto the ice of the lake. Fresh powder of snow greeted his left cheek when he landed. Hoagie tried to pick himself up but he had become short of breath and the dizziness was worse.

He tried calling for help but he couldn’t spare the lack of oxygen to get his voice going. The pain in his chest was becoming fearsome and he rolled over to get to his little cell phone that was laying in his bucket. Hoagie almost never used it, but he was going to need to get to it to call for help. Dragging himself up onto the bucket, he knocked it over, spilling the contents out onto the ice. His poles rolled and his tackle spilled all around in front of him, the sandwich Meryl made him, and his phone slid the farthest away from him.

Hoagie launched himself at the phone, it was a black flip phone and he opened it to turn it on but couldn’t remember what the button was. By the time he got the phone’s logo to appear on the screen, Hoagie could no longer read it, his vision was blurry and he could barely breathe. His chest was made of fire as it felt like everything was collapsing inside of him. Hoagie had to lay his head back down on the ice, not because he wanted to, but because he had no choice too. He closed his eyes wishing Ronnie was here to help him. He was such a good boy.

“Daddy what are you doing? Wake up!”

Hoagie opened his eyes to see Willow standing over him. Hoagie jumped up and wrapped his arms around her, feeling her soft skin, smelling her beautiful hair, he kissed her warm cheeks multiple times. “I told you I would be seeing you soon daddy!”

“Oh, Willow!” it was all Hoagie could say. The image of his daughter made him unaware that the pain in his chest was gone or that all of his strength was back. His little girl was in his arms after all these years.

“Daddy can you teach me how to fish?”

Hoagie was shocked by this. “You really want to fish? You never wanted me to take you before.”

“Yeah, well you have to bait my hook. Worms are gross.”

Hoagie stood up and held her little hand. He almost couldn’t believe she was real. “Let me grab my stuff and I will show you how.” Hoagie said, sobbing wildly as he did.

“No, daddy!” Willow began. “This way! I know a better place. We can catch fish all day, but you have to bait my hook and take the fishes off my pole. Fish are gross!”

“Anything you want sweetie. Anything you want.”

“Is Ronnie gonna be alright, daddy?”

Hoagie was taken back for a second. Was he dreaming? Honestly he couldn’t tell. “How do you know Ronnie?”

“You’re always with him. You think about him a lot.”

Memories of Ronnie flooded back to him, the boy had heart and could conquer anything. “He is going to be fine sweetie. You don’t worry about him. He will find himself, he just has to.”

“This way daddy!” Willow yelled as she ran, tugging on Hoagie’s arm. He ran and they both laughed as they ran into the bright distance. Hoagie had no idea where he was, but Willow was with him and he had never been happier.