I’m enjoying these Friday Flashback trips back in my blog- it’s interesting to see where I’ve grown as a writer. Also, I’ve noticed that after a lot of us swarmed to Social Media, my stories got shorter because I became aware that most people read on their phones and they just don’t stay in one place long enough to want to read through a story that’s longer then 500 words.
I should probably care less about that and go back to my original word count of 1000 words or more. It takes more time to write those stories and I’ll probably loose traffic but that’s the way the cookie crumbles-
now on to
” The Cemetery Stop “.
Photo By J.M Moscoso
Cilla Breck works as receptionist in a Funeral Home, her husband is a Grave Digger for the County and Cilla’s only other living relative beside her husband is distant cousin named Georgina who until her appeals run out will be sitting on death row in a State that has never executed a woman before.
Cilla wakes up hoping that the world will not start paying attention to her next and so far it hasn’t.
That night she stood alone at the bus stop, which was locally known last the ” Cemetery Stop ” where she waits for the S-4 and where she always sits alone at the back of the bus.
Cilla does not say hello to the driver she does not from left to right and it’s debatable that she actually focuses on anything in front of her as she makes her way to the last seat.
Like most nights, Cilla set her backpack on her lap and looked out the window and began to wonder what she should make for dinner, or maybe she should have a Pizza delivered when she felt something bump her elbow.
She looked over and sitting there right next to her was a man in a blue suit.
He smiled at her.
She did not smile back.
“ Chilly tonight, isn’t it?” he asked.
She did not answer.
She was busy thinking, he didn’t look familiar so he wasn’t a regular rider. She guessed he was a new rider.
And a chatty one.
Cilla hated chatty bus riders.
She was looking out the window when a thought crept up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder.
“ Cilla, did you see this guy at the bus stop?”
No, Cilla told herself.
“ Did you see him when you were walking to the back of the bus?”
Can’t say I did.
“ Doesn’t that bother you Cilla?”
Does what bother me?
“ Well, first of all that you don’t seem to focus on anyone-which seems to be something a lot of people are guilty of. But look at this awful position you’re in because of that. Some guy came out of nowhere and touched your elbow. He got that close to you Cilla. He touched your elbow. And he’s talking to you”
Cilla ended her one sided conversation and looked at the man from the corner of her eye and then she then she looked out the window.
She saw him sitting next to her.
He was looking out the window and that’s where their eyes met.
Cilla turned back to him and stared into his face for moment.
And then she turned back to the window.
She never saw him change seats.
Now he was close enough to touch her
and now he was staring at her.
“ I don’t think I’ve ever seen you on this bus before.”
“ I ride it every night. “ he told her.
“ This bus?”
“ This bus.”
Cilla pulled her shoulder away from the man and she said bluntly. “ I’ve never seen you before.”
“ I’ve seen you.” He said.
Cilla did not doubt that.
“ I’ve even sat next to you a few times. “
Cilla looked straight ahead.
“ I’ve even gotten off at your stop with a couple of times.”
Cilla wondered if anyone noticed the two of them talking.
“ But mostly I get on at the stop on Second and Washington.”
Cilla clutched her backpack to her chest.
Nobody used the stop on 2nd. Cilla didn’t even use it. She walked around the block to the front gates of the cemetery and used the stop there.
That stop was located by the Southwall at the cemetery – back in the old days that’s where the John and Jane Does were buried.
Traditionally the women were buried in simple dresses and the men…
In Blue Suits.
I am sitting next to a ghost, Cilla told herself. I am sitting next to the ghost of a dead man.
He knows that I know what he is and people are looking right at us and they don’t know what they are looking at.
She looked ahead as the bus pulled up to a stop and when she turned to look at the Dead Man in the Blue Suit…
He was gone.
She looked out the window and she saw him at the bus stop standing next to a woman talking on her phone and a man reading a book.
They were looking around the Deadman and right at the Deadman and Cilla guessed they weren’t actually seeing the Deadman.
I dug down deep for this one! Its dated 2009 but I think it was actually a Halloween story from around 2000 that I wrote at the Soul Food Cafe. Anyway being that it’s Friday the 13th I thought a story about two unlucky people was called for.
First Published (?) at the Soul Food Care May of 2009
John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) Forge Valley, Near Scarborough, 1875
” Whatever you do Hendry Coin, don’t look up. I mean it. ” his Father told him when he was a boy. ” If for any reason, any reason at all you have to cut through the woods behind the house don’t look up into those trees.”
“Cause the Witch will get me right?” Hendry said.
” If you’re lucky she will only get you to cut her down and then she will only chop you up and cook you in the big iron pot she keeps just for that reason in her kitchen. The problem Hendry is if you see her first. You will start screaming and you will keep screaming until every star in the heavens burns out.”
” That’s sounds like a long time Dad”
” It certainly is Hendry.”
The grim story about the trees behind the Coin House is that they used to hang people from them. And the thing of it is, the people they used to hang were accused of witchcraft and out there in the town of Stonecrop, unlike in other towns were innocent people were hung or burned at the stake for witchcraft the people out in Stonecrop were witches.
These witches, however, were not wise old crones, they were the type of people who would cut deals with the Devil and in most cases they won.
And in the cases were they did not they would end up hanging from a tree behind the Coin’s house where they would swing from their ropes until one of the other witches got a hankering for some Witches bread and decided to save the trip to the town cemetery and head over to the woods to get the spice that gave their bread that something extra the witches enjoyed so much.
So Hendry, who was a good kid and did as he was told not because he was afraid of ending up in a cast iron pot slowly simmering over a fire but because Hendry adored his Dad never would have never done anything to disappoint him. That was the reason he never had a bit of trouble back there in the Woods.
Over the years he saw weird things and heard strange sounds but nothing bad ever happened to Hendry or his kids ( he grew up to have seven of them ) or his Grandchildren ( 10 of those ).
One year Hendry decided to cut through the Woods to get to the new road that led into town when for the first time ever he found himself in a bad spot.
Hendry was walking along when he heard a creaking sound and then a little popping sound and somebody said ” hello there ” in a dusty sounding voice.
Hendry turned around but he did not look up- however there was no looking away from what in front of his face.
There were feet hanging in front of his face, and the feet were encased in worn black leather boots and were tied together at the ankles with heavy white twine.
He reached out and grabbed the feet to stop them from swaying and turning which was creeping him out because there was no wind, no breeze in the woods.
There never was.
So Hendry was standing there holding the black leather covered feet in his hands when he heard a voice, a woman’s voice from above his head say:
” Cut me down Hendry Coin and I’ll make you a meal you will never forget. Well. One that I will never forgot anyway. I am so hungry Hendry. Cut me down. Cut me down and anything, your darkest wish your brightest hope I can give that to you. A pound of flesh Hendry, that’s all we’re talking about here. That is all it would cost you. I’m quite handy with a needle Hendry. I could even put together a little something for you to slip into once you’ve paid that nominal feel. The rewards Hendry- think about it.”
Hendry told the witch, ” You know, in all these years of walking- and to be perfectly honest in my younger days I would run through these woods- I never had any problems. I figured I never had any problems with the tree witches because I always did what my Dad told me. “
“Is that right Mr. Coin? And what did he tell you?”
” Don’t look up, whatever you do.”
” And why did he tell you that Hendry?”
” Dad said that if I saw the witch first something really bad, something worse than death would happen to me.”
” That is the dumbest thing anyone has ever said in these Woods Hendry. And let me tell you. Some very strange things have been said in these woods…but that is hands down the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to a hanging witch. Honestly old man, do you really believe there is anything worse than death? Because let me tell you. And I am speaking strictly from experience here, there is nothing worse than death.”
” I suppose you’re right. My Dad was a good guy, a very kind and practical man but he wasn’t what you would call overly educated.”
” Well. There you are.”
” Yes. Here I am and there you are and what the heck is that above you head?”
He felt the Witch’s feet push down she looked up and Hendry couldn’t help but smile a little when the screaming started.
John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836 – 1893) Near Hackness, a Moonlit Scene with Pine Trees , 1875