Grahame Taskill was sitting at his Grandmother’s kitchen table; he was rubbing his left eye to stop it from twitching.
Grahame’s eye always began to twitch a full week before he went home to see his family for his annual week long visit and for the entire visit his eye never stopped twitching for longer than a few minutes.
He spent so much time rubbing his left eye that he would have nightmares about it popping out of its socket and running down his face where horror upon horror it would run into his mouth and when he woke up he would practically break his neck ( he had already broken his big toe ) because for some strange reason when he would dream about his runny eye he would run straight for his bathroom to get a towel to put on his face to keep his other eye from popping and without fail in a desperate effort to save his eyes he always ran into the wall right next to the bathroom door.
“So Nan, you want this ghost guy-“
“ His name is Mr Bibas and he’s a very talented psychic Grahame, he can actually reach ghosts. They understand him. They listen to him.”
“Okay. You want this psychic to come out here on Saturday to talk to Aunt Leatha “
” Because she refuses to talk to you now. “
Grahame took his finger away from his eye and it actually stopped twitching, for about an entire minute. “Uh-huh. Nan, you and Aunt Leatha never really talked when she was alive. So. I’m just wondering why you want to talk to her now. If I remember right you put a bird bath up next to her grave.”
“ Wasn’t she deathly afraid of birds?”
Nan was the picture of innocence itself. “ You’re acting like I danced on her grave Grahame.”
“ I’m thinking the only reason you haven’t done that is because of the poison ivy that’s growing all over it. It’s funny Nan, nobody can figure out where it came from. Nobody remembered there ever being poison ivy up here until it showed up on Aunt Leatha’s grave.”
“ You don’t say.”
“ I just did.”
“ Well. I just want her to know that we need to let all this silliness between us go. The entire family will be up this weekend and I think it would be good for everyone to see me and Leatha bury the hatchet-“
Grahame ignored the way his Grandmother forced herself to keep from grinning when she mentioned her sister and the word ” hatchet” .
“ It really is as simple as that Crackers.” She said calling Grahame by his childhood nickname.
“ Let it go Nan, let her go. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s bad enough you and Aunt Leatha hated each other, but you two enjoyed hating each other way too much. Does it bother you even just a little that most of us know how to poison, dismember and hide a body because of the way the two of you used to talk about each other? “
Nan nodded . A wave of gentle sympathy and empathy showed up on her face and too bad they didn’t bring a map and a camera because , as Grahame would tell you, Nan’s face was unfamiliar territory to those two particular emotions.
“ It was a disgrace the way me and Leatha carried on in life. Besides, look at what that did to you kids. You’re all a bunch of twitching eyes and stutterers and when the family gets together the pharmacy in town runs out of antacids and I have a sneaky feeling I know where it’s all going.”
“ So. Mr. Bibas is going to come out on Friday night and have dinner with us and after desert he’s going to hold a little séance in the library and me and Leatha are going to patch things up.”
“ There is nothing to patch up. She has moved beyond this stuff and you should too. “
” Mr Bibas knows what he’s doing. He talks to ghosts all the time and they listen to him. ” Nan argued.
To emphasize her point, she slammed her hand on the kitchen table. In the old days Nan could have made he plates and cups dance, but of course all her hand did now was pass through the table.
“ Forget it. “ Aunt Leatha said from the hallway as she strolled by the kitchen door and through the wall next to it to the dining room . ” Tell your Nan I have nothing to say to her.”
Both of Grahame’s eyes began to twitch uncontrollably.
Lots of writers and artists have stories about that moment that they became a writer. This is my moment:
I used to walk home from babysitting jobs when I was a kid.
It was always dark and in those days we didn’t have sidewalks, so you had to walk along the side of the road and in some cases you had to jump over a ditch ( if there was water in it ) or step down into it ( if there wasn’t roadkill in it ) to avoid cars.
At this time girls were going missing around Seattle- the missing girls all had long dark hair, like me. It was a scary time.
So to comfort myself on those lonely walks, I would play in my head, over and over again the cold open to the TV series, ” The Night Stalker ”
Here’s a clip, so you’ll get the idea:
So as you can see I may have looked like I was on the wrong track because as I walked along I could hear Kolchak saying something like:
After a long night of playing board games, watching TV and popping corn Anita, Babysitter to the unbabysittable made her way along the dark road to her house. She hated kids but she loved comic books and records, that night she had made an extra dollar and had big plans for her night’s earnings.
Too bad she never got spend that money.
( This is when the monster of the week would make it’s appearance.)
Sometimes though, as Carl would say, The Monsters just don’t appear on TV sets.
One night as I was walking home from a babysitting job a car was coming up behind me, so I jumped the ditch and kept walking.
The car pulled up along side me and I saw the dome light go on. A man and a woman were in the front seat. The woman rolled the window down. ” Hey. Want to party? ”
I kept walking.
” Come on, want to party?”
I stopped. I walked to the edge of the ditch and I said:
” You don’t want me to get into your car. I could be anybody. Anybody at all.” I said, thinking about the missing girls with long dark hair and Carl Kolchak and his monsters.
The looked at each other, they looked at me. I heard the woman tell the man, ” What a freak.” The light went off, the window went up and as I walked the rest of the way home, in my mind’s eye something crawled up out of the ditch and followed me.