Here's a terrifying tale for you.
Also a tribute to Vincent Price.
The HOUSE on HAUNTED HILL
They begged his mother to
take them to the Avalon. In 1959 they were barely ready for the story up on the
screen. They waited on the curb afterwards, jumpy and checking the street. They
weren’t afraid of Vincent Price, they knew what they would have done. They sat
in the backseat and his mother listened to them bray and when she couldn’t take
it anymore, she turned the wheel and took them the long way home through the
cemetery. With the headlights turned off, every shadow was leaping at the sides
of the car.
A true story about the dog my father had
when he was a boy. Also a flat fable:
Everyone knew that
chasing cars would be the end of that bulldog, but he never learned. He would
hear the motor and the rubber tread and run at the street until he hit that
passing blur, catching as much as he could in his teeth. Finally it happened,
bit to a whitewall, taken round whirling three or four times until the car
stopped and he was flat enough to fold.
Since the publication of my book Florida,
I've been writing hundreds of these short
pieces. There are two more books similar
to Florida coming soon from Good Deed
Rain. This new story I just wrote while on
my break at work, watching the dragonflies
above my bench.
The DRAGONFLY JUNKYARD
A weedy lot stacked with
the remains of old dragonflies. Broken wings are leaned against the fence like rows
of stain glass windows. Motors with the gears pulled out. The long rusted
segments of fuselage. The man who works here says to look around, there are
enough parts about to mix and match and put another dragonfly in the air.
It's been a long time since I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
Still a great book! It was especially fitting
reading this after I read The Westing Game.
Similar feel to them. And those books are
spurring me on to begin work on my 1977
children's book, my next writing project.
He was my first boss in high
school. I went to his house to do landscaping on the set of his spaghetti
western. I became Clint Eastwood shoveling beauty bark all about the
rhododendrons. I got tense and ready to draw every time he reappeared to check
on my work. The second time he appeared in my life was in Reno Town, on a
dead-end street at dawn. Even though the sun was up, no one else was around. I
was pulled along like someone in science fiction when a voice called from a broken
doorway. If I would just stay there, he’d be right back. He had the designs for
a machine that could turn water into gasoline. I could have it, just wait,
don’t move. “It’s all legitimate,” he mumbled. It was only last week he made a
deal with Lee Van Cleef.
When we got back from the
grocery, there wasn’t enough room in the fridge so I brought a few items
outside to the mailbox and put them in there. A can of condensed milk. Some
eggs. A green pepper and an avocado. I thought it was a pretty good solution. Then
at midnight I heard a clatter on the road. I looked out the window and I could
see the big, dim shape of a racehorse beside the opened mailbox. That old nag
has been terrorizing our neighborhood for years.
Since the end of July, I've been writing
a lot of new little stories. They seem to
be about famous people. Here's one that
arrived less than an hour ago:
ANDREW the BIRDHOUSE
Once in shop class I made
up a brother. Some nosy kid next to me kept asking me questions and my brother
grew more and more. Before I knew it, he had a name and a car and a girlfriend.
He even played electric guitar. I could barely keep up with the story. I was
never so glad when it was my turn to use the band saw.