There Were Dogs In The Trees

My childhood friend died a few years ago.

She lived around the block from where I lived and we used to do the normal stuff that kids do.

We rode bikes, climbed trees, played with our Barbie dolls and roller-skated to the corner store for Slurpees and penny candies.

The other thing, the biggest thing we had in common was our love for dogs.

We had our own dogs, but we didn’t stop there.

If we saw dogs, we asked to pet them. We’d play with the neighborhood dogs and walk them. We would go to the library and check out books about dogs.

We collected toy dogs and wore t-shirts with dog decals and long before it became fashionable we used to wear our dog’s old collars around our wrists or even around our necks.

Then my friend died- it was unexpected and it was a cruel death- I can’t say more then that. Not because I don’t want to, but when I think about how to describe it I can hear dogs howling.

And my heart breaks all over again.


My friend’s childhood home was sold and the profit went to her sons and I guess life moved on for us all. It just moved sort of sideways in my case.

One day I was out walking my new puppy. He was a little guy at the time, so we didn’t go far. Just around the corner and that’s when we met the family that had moved into my friend’s house.

The Mom was a nice young woman, she was around my son’s age and her children were very small. They asked to pet my puppy and we chatted about her new house.

” I think the family who lived here were really into dogs- ”

It seemed best to not say anything about my friend or the fact that her back yard had been designed for her dogs- there was a dog run, a well built dog house, trees to lounge under. It was pretty much a great place to hang out if you were a dog and you owned a few children.

Besides, this family was on the edge of making a life and my new neighbor was so excited to share her story with me.

Me and my friend and her last dog to live in that yard didn’t need to be part of that story- or so I thought.

She went on, ” they must have been big dogs, but it’s great. We promised the kids we’d get them a dog when we got the house and look at that yard. It’s going to be wonderful for them!”

I’m sure of it, I said with real  enthusiasm.


About a month later I saw my now familiar neighbors out walking their two new dogs and we stopped to chat just at the end of their driveway.

She asked the boys to take the dogs in for water and they sort of turned into this mass of fur and barking and laughing  kids bodies all mushed together and they burst across the yard and I flinched just a little when I hear the gate to their back yard click open and then bang shut-still,  it was great.

” I was wondering, ” my neighbor asked ” what you know – I mean if you know anything about my house or maybe knew the people who lived there.”

” Well. Yeah. I do. What’s up?”

” We love it here, don’t get me wrong. But when the people you know lived here- did they ever see anything, I mean, this is going to sound-”

” I know the house is old, so I was wondering if there were any stories about it. ”

It was an old house, but it wasn’t that old. I was curious. ” What kind of stories?”

She took a breath.  ” Did, I know this is going to sound awful. But did any children ever die here?”

” No. And I know that for a fact.”

” Well. It’s just that sometimes in the evening when I let my dogs out for their run in the yard- over there by the trees. I saw, I think I saw a little girl. And then she wasn’t there.”

She could not say it. She could not say the word ” ghost “.

I couldn’t either. I was distracted. I was hearing something- dogs barking- but of course the dogs I was hearing weren’t the ones in her yard or my yard or any of the yards around us.

They barking, I think, from a long time ago.


My friend had passed away in her early late 40’s. She loved her sons she loved her new home which was 60 miles away from her childhood home. I couldn’t imagine her as a ghost coming back to this house.

And let me tell you, me and my friend had very active imaginations where anything was possible. That was an attitude we took into adulthood with us.

” I think, ” I said ” that this was a great place to play and grow up. I think a lot of kids used to come over here with their dogs and they played with the kid who lived here. See those trees where you saw the, um, the little girl? There was a tree house there and somehow the kid who lived here and her friend got a full grown Malamute up there and a year old Retriever. They never told anyone how they did it. The problem was they couldn’t get them down and the Fire Department had to help them all out of the tree house.”

” You’re joking.”

” No. It was actually a big deal. And the four of them were really stuck and I think even the dogs were embarrassed. So they never brought it up with anyone except with each other.”

” So the girls in the tree, the  one who lived here- they both grew up. They didn’t, they grew up. Right?”

” Yep. They did. ”

” I know what I saw.” she said firmly this time.

” You know, I believe you. But whoever or whatever you saw- it’s not a bad thing. I think you’re seeing something…I think you’re seeing a happy moment for someone. That’s what I think.”

” I can live with that. We can live with that.” she told me.

And as far as I know- they still are.

Photo A. Moscoso

My New Short Story!

How cool is this?

Modern Creative Life, an E-Zine that features all kinds of wonderful articles about the creative process as well as short stories and fiction,  has published my short story ” Grandmother’s House “.


You know this isn’t a normal story about a normal Grandmother, right?

Check it HERE

Thank you!


Photo A.M. Moscoso



” Tell me a story Mommy”

Violet opened one eye and it found it’s way to the clock next to her bed.

Two in the morning her clock read.

She closed her eye .

” Please Mommy tell me a story. Tell me about the monster in the attic. It’s forever until morning and I can’t sleep.”

A little hand fell to her eye and gently lifted her eyelid open.

Violet looked up.

She didn’t have any children.

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo A.M. Moscoso


By Appointment Only

Morna Barrier Travel Services

Ms. Barrier provides travel services


The Experienced and Seasoned Explorer and Adventurer

By Appointment Only

Photo: A.M. Moscoso

There was no phone number on the card on the back was a handwritten address to a building hiding in the middle of the Warehouse District in Seattle. The building was old and the windows were barred. If you asked the people who caught the bus at the stop not even a dozen steps from the front door, they’d say they were sure it was empty.

There was always a light shining from a brass lamp on in the corner window where Ms.  Barrier planned trips for many clients.

 Morna didn’t advertise on the internet or on Social Media. That didn’t hurt Miss Barrier’s business though, the type of person looking to travel to the places Morna always seemed to find her. Had they not been able to do that, they wouldn’t have been the type of person who would be going to the places Morna sent them too.

One of those  people who found their way to Morna’s office  just before April was Leandro Tullio.

Leandro pushed Morna’s door open just before nightfall.

When a fine mist of dust drifted down from the ornate ledge  above the door,  he stepped back out and pulled the card from his front pocket and checked the address printed on a small steel plate to his left.

He put the card back into his pocket and went through the door, not noticing that the card had fallen out of his pocket.

It drifted for a moment in midair and then it was caught up in a draft and it sailed quietly to the curb where it joined dozens of others just like it in various degrees of decay-  all of them with them waiting to be finished off by the elements with address side up.

Morna’s office was painted pale green and the furnishings were decorated and ornately carved  with lions and sphinxes and birds- all posed in watchful positions.

 There were no travel posters on the walls, no brochures with smiling couples in bikinis and swimming trunks on the end tables, but there were books and had you looked, you’d have seen none of them were in English.

Morna was standing  by the window.” Mr. Tullio.  Thank you for stopping by.”

Leandro smiled a wide toothy smile- ” My friends call me Lenny. You can call me Leandro.”

A joke.

Morna smiled and extended her hand- ” Leandro.”

” I’m just kidding there Ms. Morna. Call me Lenny. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. Cal said I should just stop on by. He said he was sure you’d be in. Good thing too. “

Morna  showed Leandro- Lenny to his friends- a seat in front of her desk and she sat down. ” I’m going to guess you had a free week spring up? “

” More like drop on my head. I was supposed to go on a hunting trip but the trip was scuttled because the Guides were buste- I mean they got called away on a family emergency. You know how it is.”

Morna pulled a desk drawer open and pulled her laptop out of it. ” I hate individuals who don’t keep their word. They should have made other plans for you. I certainly would have. Not that I have ever had a client’s adventure spoiled by a family emergency.”

” I sort of had my heart set on a little big game hunting, but I’m sort of over it right now, you know?  I was ready to take down and elephant or maybe a lion. Probably would have gone for both. I was in the mood, you know?”

Morna tapped a manicured nail against her eye tooth.

” So wherever I go, I don’t want it to be a resort. I want it to be-“

Morna stopped tapping. ” Dangerous? Forbidden. Strictly. Off. Limits.”

” Right. You got me Miss Morna.”

”  You know Leandro I think I do.”

Photo: A.M. Moscoso

Morna opened her laptop and started to tap on the keyboard. She looked up at Lenny and winked. ” I’ve got it, here.”


” It’s a cave.”

” Mr. Tullio. This isn’t just a cave. It’s the entrance to one of the most important archeological discoveries of our lifetime. Priceless artifacts,the rarest of creatures waiting to be won,  all of it waiting for an intrepid explorer to brave the risks and claim the prizes there for his own.”

” You’d think the Government or Military -”

” I can assure you, they’d rather pump this cave’s entrance full of concrete and call it a day. I won’t sugar coat it. It’s extremely dangerous. The question is. Are you willing to risk it where this entrance will take you?”

” Well. I mean, if I -”

” Discover ” Morna said.

” My discoveries are mine to keep. ”

Morna looked slightly offended. ” Of course they are. That’s the entire point of the service I provide. But you realize of course when I see there are all manner of creatures waiting to be tracked and won, I mean all creatures.”

Leandro leaned back and Morna leaned forward, with disgust fighting for a place on her face with amusement.  She put her hand on the top of her laptop and was about to shut it when Leandro ” my friends call me Lenny” put his hand on top of her’s.

She stopped smiling and Lenny sat up straight. ” I’m in. I’m that seasoned Adventurer you cater to Ms. Greer. I’ve taken down the biggest game and the rarest game you have ever laid eyes on. My women wear jewels buried with god damned royalty from places that haven’t existed for thousands of years. I have art hanging in my bathroom that those big deal galleries would sell me there Mothers for. So you sign me up Miss.”

Leandro reached into his jacket and pulled out his wallet. He pulled a credit card and slid it across the desk.

Morna looked at it.  She hit a key on her still opened lap top and a printer started to work behind her. She winked and reached for the paperwork and set it in a neat stack in front of Leandro.

” Your itinerary.” she slid the top pages to one side.

” And this must be the bill-” Leandro said, pretending not to look at it.

There were no numbers on the sheet of paper. Just a line for him to sign.

” And what are the fees for this adventure?” he asked.

Morna handed him a pen. ” You, Mr. Tullio are going to set the price. What would you give me to send you on an adventure to a place where are  accountable to nothing, to nobody  but your own desires. What will you give me?”

Leandro took the pen and signed. Then he said, ” You drive a Hell of a deal Morna.”

And she said, ” I sure as Hell do Lenny.”



Writers Write January Prompt: At The Bar

To Grandmother’s House We Go



” How come we only go to Grandma’s house at night?” I asked my Mom a very long time ago.

My Mom and I were in my room,  We were standing in front of my open closet and chosing which dress I should wear to Grandma’s.

” Do you want to wear the red one or pink?” she asked me.

I looked into my closet and pointed to the pink dress.

” Grandma likes it that way, that’s why.” she said. ” Go chose out you socks.”

” Do they have to match?”

” Each other .” my Mom told me.

I ran to my dresser and pulled open my sock drawer and pulled out purple knee socks. ” Here. I want to wear these.”

My Mom shrugged.  ” Okay.”

” Mom, come on. Why can’t we go during the day? Grandma doesn’t have a tv and I’ll miss my shows.”

” It won’t kill you to miss  Love American Style every once and awhile. God, I’d like to know what you see in that show anyway, you’re six years old”

” No monsters.”

” Are you kidding me?”

I hopped up on my bed and started to jump up and down.

” Will you stop that?” Mom tossed my dress at me.

I watched it land near my pillow.

” No. It helps me think.”

I kept bouncing.

” Ok. I’ll bite. what are you thinking about?”

” Why do we have to go to Grandma’s at night.”

My Mom handed me my dress and told me to stand still. She tied my hair back into a ponytail and started to pick at my bangs.

” Because she’s a Devil during the day. You know that.”

My Mom flicked some loose hairs out of her way as she fixed my hair and then  gave a quick little rub to the tiny little horns that were just starting to bud from the sides of my forehead.  “Get dressed. She’s making your gingerbread men  for a treat tonight. You know how they taste funny when they start to cool.”

Photo A.M. Moscoso

Photo A.M. Moscoso

JNW’s Halloween Challenge: Party

Midnight At Riversleigh Manor

JNW’s Halloween Challenge: Monster

 This is one of my favorite monster stories- I dug it up from my archives just

for you.



There’s something buried in the Gardener’s Shed and why would someone bury something that wasn’t dead yet?

The thing in the shed isn’t buried very deep, so if you were to crawl over the dead fall in front of the door and were able to push your way through he matted cobwebs and you didn’t mind the smell of rotting leaves and small unburied creatures you’d find  there under the window a slightly raised mound of earth.

Were you to look at the raised mound long enough and the light somehow managed to find it’s way through the little panes of glass covered with dust and dirt you’d think someone was lying there on their side with one arm cradling their cheek and the other laying comfortably on their side.

Wouldn’t you?

If you brought a flashlight and the beam was bright you might think you could see something wrong with the entire left side of the sleeping figure’s face. You might think that maybe that the face was gone, smashed in by something like that shovel in the corner.

Isn’t that right?

They might wonder what you were doing back there in a rotting shed behind the Manor House in the dead of Night, they might see you take the shovel and try to smooth and pound that little raised mound of Earth flat.

That’s what they’d see wouldn’t they?

So I must ask you again, why would you bury something that is not dead yet?

Go ahead you can tell me.

Just keep your hands were I can see them.

Photo: A.M Moscoso

Photo: A.M Moscoso



Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt


” What are you looking at Jingle? ”  Milo Hungerford asked his wife.

Jingle was standing in front of their bathroom mirror with her hairbrush in her hand and she turned slowly towards him and said, ” I don’t know. “

He came up behind her and stared into glass and shook his head.

” That’s not right Jingle. “

She put her hand to her face and looked into the mirror again and when she turned back towards Milo she started to cry. ” Milo what’s happening to me? “

Milo  pulled Jingle to his chest and turned her away from the looking glass.

” Is it still there Milo? “

Milo held Jingle tighter and said, ” yes. “

” The one in the foyer- let’s try that one too. “

” Jingle- it won’t…” he started to say and then when he saw the look on her face he nodded. “okay, we’ll try that one too.”

Milo held his wife’s hand and they walked down the dark halls to the entrance to their home and together they looked into the mirror there and Jingle burst into tears and grabbed her face.

” Oh Milo- oh Milo what’s happening to me? ” she cried.

Milo looked into the mirror and there in the glass he saw his wife holding her hairbrush, her dark hair framing her face- all alone in the  glass except for the darkness that was their home and he turned her gently towards him and said,

” I don’t know how it happened Jingle…but I think you’re alive. “

Vilhelm Hammershøi,
Vilhelm Hammershøi,

Cats On Leashes


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Photo: A.M. Moscoso

Photo: A.M. Moscoso

They looked like a nice middle aged couple, sitting there on the bench at the Bothell Lake Park as all sorts of life passed them by all of them being carried along music you couldn’t hear but that you could feel.

The man watched with a smile, the woman smiled with her mouth but not with her eyes as bike riders whirled by, people walking their dogs and babies and even a few cats on leashes strolled by all them with their faces tilted up slightly to the Sun.

” I’m really enjoying this, Juno.” he said ” we need to get out more, see more, experience more.”

” You’re kidding me right?” she asked. Her mask of a smile fell away and her eyes narrowed and now it exactly matched the the way her lips curled up over her lips. ” You drag me away from my nice morning at the River for this- this inner circle of suburban Hell? ”

She leaned forward and looked up and down the trail. She flicked at his ear with her well manicured nail and pointed. ” That is a cat on a leash.”

” I know.” He laughed.

She leaned against him, her hair blew over her shoulder her lips touched where his earlobe met his jaw.

” That is a cat on a leash!” she roared into his ear.

” Tell me you’ve seen that before.”

” I can’t” she hissed.

” What? What did you say? I can’t hear anything in that ear, try the other one.”

She raised her hand, spread her fingers apart and then lowered all but one in his face.

He leaned back and draped his arm over her shoulder. ” Do you know why I love you Juno? Of everyone I have ever met you make me laugh every single time. Go on. Tell me you’re not enjoying this.”

” There. Are. Cats. On. LEASHES!”

” Come on Juno. I wanted to get you away from home, from work for just a few hours. I worry about you sometimes.”

” You worry about me all of the time. And why should you? If I’m not working, I’m enjoying myself on my wonderful riverfront property, or I’m at work, or I’m playing my Violin and working in my garden.

“I love it when you play. You’re very good.”

“Then why are we here?”

” Because Juno, I want you to see more of the world, I want you to be a bigger part of it. I hate it when you isolate yourself. I want people to see you the way I do. The way I always have-”

Juno turned he face up to the sky. A real smile caressed her lips. The sunlight filled her eyes  and  they turned a bright golden brown. Her thick brown hair fell away from her face gently as a small cool breeze rolled past them and exposed the small horns on her forehead that glowed pearly white against the skin on her smooth dark forehead.

” No one ever will”  she said as she touched his face and stood up. ” And that is okay, you know that.”

” Sit back down Juno. Stay here with me for just a little while longer.”

Juno was looking down the trail at the backs of the Cat walkers. ” We have all eternity for that. So we will.   But for now there’s going to be Hell to pay.”


Undergrowth With Two Figures- Vincent Van Gogh

Undergrowth With Two Figures- Vincent Van Gogh

Tea With Miss Venka

Unexpected Guests

You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next.


” Miss Venka! “

The middle aged couple- were both as pale and watery as the sunlight that was filtering through my somewhat clean windows and into my small cool sparsely furnished sitting room.

I didn’t use it often because I don’t do much entertaining.


He rose from the settee and put his slice of cake- I noted with dismay-  on the end table to his right.

She stood and did the same to her slice of cake.

The portrait that hung behind them looked down in disapproval.

Then the tall thin watery couple both reached out to me with their pale bony hands and smiled, ” It’s so good to meet you at last Miss Venka ” they both said together.

” I see you enjoyed the cake- ” I waited for them to introduce themselves.

” Oh. Pardon us. Britta.” The woman said with tears lighting up her eyes ” Britta and Rasmus Rundstrom.”

 ” We hope you don’t mind . The man who answered the door invited us in.  He told us to make ourselves at home. And then he left. Just like that. Well, we saw that delicious cake and the plates and forks.” Rasmus began the thought and then Britta finished it:

” We honestly couldn’t help ourselves.”

I sighed and shrugged. ” It’s fine really” I said not meaning it.

Our compliments to the baker Miss Venka.” Rasmus said ignoring the ice in my voice.” It was quite delicious.”

I ignored his compliment.

“That was my Father at the door. That Devil. He should have offered you some tea and almond cookies instead of leaving you with just that cake. It’s terribly sweet. The cookies would have been better.”

They didn’t say a word. They stood there expectantly.

” They’re imported.” I added. ” They’re quite good.”

I walked over to the sideboard where my now butchered cake was sitting.

I took up the cake knife and wiped it clean on a napkin.

” So what do I owe the pleasure of this nice…” I looked down at my cut up cake and sighed. ” Visit.”

” We’ve heard that you are a wonderful baker Miss Venka. Your sweets and pastries and cakes are famous.

I was confused. ” Famous for what?”

” From what we’ve tasted, it’s true.” Rasmus went back to the table and picked up his slice of cake.

He plunged his fork into this partially eaten slice and took another bite.

I winced.

” It so sweet it touches your soul. It overwhelms your senses…” he sang out.

I stopped him before he went over the edge and lost his sanity.

” Thank you. I took the plate from him and sat it down on the little table. ” But I don’t cater events. I don’t  bake for other people.”

” We can’t persuade you?” Britta asked. ” Are you sure? Money is no object and we are having a very important party. Your cake, it would be the highlight of the evening.”

” Very sure. I’m sorry. But my answer is no.” I said.

” I’ve never tasted anything so fine. It touched my soul Miss Venka. Truly. It’s the finest cake I have ever tasted.”

I thanked my guests and saw them out.

Then I went to the kitchen, which is light green and empty all but for a set of knives hanging from the wall and a single chair in the middle of the room.

I walked to the back of the kitchen and opened the door that led down into the basement.

” That was my favorite cake!” I yelled down into the darkness.

The door pulled itself out of my hand and slammed shut with a bang.

I walked back into my sitting room, which was dark now and a little chilly.

There were two new soulfully delicious cakes sitting next to my beautiful cake which fully restored to its uncut state.

I sighed and rubbed my eyes in relief.

I wondered when Mr and Mrs Rundstrom would be back, begging for more cake. I wondered if they would ever figure out why they, like the others would say they’d be willing to give up their souls to the Devil himself for another bite.

And my Father who lives in my basement would take them up on that deal.

He collects souls the way other people collect stamps.

Of course. I don’t collect souls.

I dabbed a little frosting from one of the new cakes on the tip of my finger and touched it to my tongue.

I closed my eyes and swooned a little.

I put them to better use than that.


The Bantam Scripter

Soul Food Cafe

Chocolate Box Prompt

Creatively Conjuring


When I was little and began to write stories, my teacher asked me where I got the ideas for my stories.

He invited me to sit across from him at his desk.

It was recess.

Our class had two recesses a day and I spent one of them writing at my desk while the rest of the class was playing outside.

” From the monsters” I told him.

” What monsters?” he asked me with a little laugh ” The ones that live in your head?”

I considered that.

“No. They don’t live in my head. They like to hide. But I know how to make them come out and talk to me.”

I went to my desk lifted the top and pulled a piece of paper and a pencil.

I sat back down across from him and drew a little circle.

” It’s in there, the monster. “

I erased part of the circle.

” And now it’s out.”

” Where did it go?” he asked me.

I looked around the room.

Under the desk.

” I don’t know.” I said as I began to panic” I don’t know where it went. It should be here. “

Mr. Orton looked  looked concerned. ” Hey. Calm down, it’s ok.”

I looked back under the desk.

When I looked up Mr Orton was straightening his tie.

It was a red tie and he hadn’t been wearing it a minute before.

” I think I found it.” I told Mr. Orton.

 He slid the paper away from me. He held his hand out for the pencil.

I shook my head.

” It’s my story and I’m keeping it.”

 ” Give me the pencil now.

I shook my head.

” Some monsters might not want to be scribbled down on lined notebook paper by an ugly little girl with no friends and dirty hair. Now give me the pencil.”

I looked at the pencil and then I looked at Mr. Orton’s outstretched hand. Mr Orton’s green eyes were now blood red eyes that matched his blood red tie.

They were on fire and they were burning into my face.

” Can I keep the other stories?” I asked with a tiny sob in my voice.

” All the other ones, just not mine.”

I nodded in defeat. I held the pencil out and when he reached for it I turned the sharpened end down and drove it into the palm of his hand.

” Now talk to me” I said as I slid the piece of paper from under his hand.

” I don’t have too. ”  Mr Orton said in surprise.

” You will.”  I said as I gave the pencil a little twist as I pulled it out of his hand. I wiped the blood from the pencil tip on my shirt sleeve.

I began to write with Mr. Orton sitting across from me with blood running down his arm.

” They always do.”