November’s Full Moon Story: The Hello Man

This month’s Full Moon story is inspired by a true event. The beginning of “The Hello Man” is a super-creepy experience I had a few years ago.

With crystal clarity I heard someone say “Hello” and it jolted me out of my sleep. I was disoriented and for a moment thought someone was in the room. Then I thought they must be outside the window. I went to the kitchen and peered through the window to see if I could see someone next door.

To this day I’m still not certain if I heard someone on their phone in the carport next door or if it was a dream. I assume it was a dream, but it was eerie and scared the shit out of me. The fear, I think, came from the moment of believing someone was standing next to me as I slept.

The rest of the story is completely made up.

The Hello Man

“Hello.”

He spoke clearly, in a conversational tone. In an instant I awoke completely. A muscle in my back tensed and I shivered.

“Hello.”

I pulled my exposed, cold foot under the blanket, and arched my head to look to the end of the bed. I could barely make out the figure of our dog Abbie sleeping on her dog blanket.

“Hello.” The voice wasn’t loud, but it was clear. And close.

Jessica snored softly next to me, curled on her side, her back to me; her shoulder softly illuminated by the streetlights outside our house.

The man’s voice disoriented me. It sounded as if he were standing right beside me, but as my head cleared away the sleep I determined the voice must be a neighbor in the carport speaking on his cell phone. Our bedroom window is only a few feet from our neighbor’s carport.

“Hello.”

The voice was calm. It occurred to me he might be speaking to get my attention. I pushed myself up so my eyes peeked over the bottom of the window. I inched back one of the white curtains and did my best to look outside. The ambient glow of street lights and porch lights was enough to make out shapes. I saw no one.

I slipped back into the bed, pulling the blanket over my shoulder. I was fully awake. Jessica rolled on her back and mumbled something. She was dreaming.

“Hello.” The clarity and closeness convinced me I must be hearing a neighbor in the carport speaking to his phone. He probably stood on the other side of the cinder block wall.

I looked at the clock. 5:33. Still a half-hour before the alarm went off. I turned the alarm off and quietly slid out of bed. I could tell by the silhouetted tilt of her head that Abbie watched me, hoping for an early breakfast. I pulled my robe from the back of a dining room chair we kept in the bedroom and moved to the kitchen to make coffee. I was happy to get a jump on the day’s work.

The kitchen door looks out at the same carport as our bedroom window. Before I turned on the kitchen light I pulled the curtain back and looked boldly outside. I was up. If someone wanted my attention I could give it to them. I saw no one.

READ THE REST HERE

Full Moon Story for October: Takumi Gets a Job

This may be the most impressionistic and least plotted story I’ll publish in the Full Moon series. It started out with a lengthy outline that had to do more with the mystery of the owner of the estate than Takumi. For whatever reason I couldn’t bring myself to follow that outline. Instead I’d add a sentence or two to this piece once every month or so. That means it literally took years to write.

Before the outline it started with a vision of a late-middle age Japanese man sitting on a low crumbling concrete wall in a decayed urban core just before sunrise. When I saw him in my vision I knew a lot about him immediately. Maybe that’s why the story would never follow the extensive outline I built to go with it. This was always meant to be Takumi’s story and no one else’s.

***

It had been more than a week since Takumi’s last job. He was the first to arrive at the street corner, as he was most mornings. It was an hour before sunrise, but the street was well-lit. In addition to the street lights lining the street, the corner where the day laborers waited every morning held one giant halogen light shining down on the bare lot.

The corner where they waited once aspired to be a building of some sort, but the project had been abandoned decades ago. It was in an impoverished part of town, and so had remained there, neglected and half built. At some point it became the place for day laborers to wait for bosses to come hire them. Takumi sometimes wondered how this spot had been selected and not another. How long had it been here and how long would it last? There was no authority who singled out this place for the homeless, and nearly homeless to wait for work. It was largely self-regulated. Sometimes men fought and someone called the police, but mostly it was quiet and no one bothered them. Almost everyone was gone from the corner by 9 or 10am. If they had no job by then they knew no one was coming by mid-morning, and so they moved on to the rest of their day.

The young, strong, and uninjured were the first selected. Takumi was old and walked with a limp. A short concrete wall separated the lot from the sidewalk. The lot, the wall, and this part of the city was neglected. All except the lights. Takumi took his favorite spot at the end of the crumbling wall. He nodded to the regulars as they began to arrive, and poured himself a cup of tea from the thermos he carried. When the weather was nice this was his favorite time of day. It was still early enough to have hope for a good job. It was quiet. Soon the lot would fill with anxious men, hiding their anxiety and blustering through their hangovers with jokes and insults.

Takumi did not initiate conversation with the others. Nor did he avoid speaking to people when spoken to. Other than the desire to work he had little in common with the other laborers. He did not drink. He did not smoke either cigarettes or pot. He did not gamble. Or, at least he did not join the gambling games that broke out among the bored men as they waited for construction bosses to drive by in their pick-up trucks. And, he was often the only Japanese man waiting. Many years ago, when Takumi first started as a day laborer, he assumed all the men were from Mexico. He quickly learned there was more diversity among the Spanish-speaking men than he initially assumed. The men came from Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, Texas, California, Argentina, Nicaragua, Cuba, and on and on. Many were Indians. Many were US citizens. Occasionally white men and black men joined them. They tended not to stay long. They either got hired into more permanent positions, or went to prison, or begged in the streets. Occasionally an Asian man might appear. Depending on the man he might approach Takumi or ignore him. Takumi did not care. He liked his solitude.

***

Late in the morning, after most of the men had been picked up, a well-maintained, but old model Cadillac, pulled up to the corner next to where Takumi stood.

READ THE REST HERE

September’s Full Moon Story: A Home for Old Familiars

Here is a story that needs to be re-written from snout to tail. There is so much wrong with it I’m not sure where to begin.

I love the premise, though.

The title came to me one day and I understood immediately what kind of place it was, and that it fit perfectly into the world of Abdera, Florida.

Unfortunately, I never got any traction on any of the characters. So, the story has been put back into the vat to allow it to marinate a little longer, but for this month, here is the first shot at a story that will look substantially different when it’s fully cooked. Regardless of its flaws I hope you enjoy!

***

A Home for Old Familiars

A piercing scream brought Abel upright and immediately out of his nap. A cacophony of animal noises followed. Whatever was happening had drawn the attention of every creature on the estate. Abel reached for the shotgun he kept in the gun closet and limped outside as quickly as he could manage. Dogs barked, cats wailed, the cockatrice crowed, and dragons roared. Abel’s entire universe overfilled with noises of alarm. Some creatures ran toward the intruder, some away, and some froze. Abel followed the dogs toward the disturbance.

A large black dog, burning with blue flame, crouched over the bloody corpse of the basilisk. It growled at the approaching dogs, but continued to feed. When Abel saw what was happening he let out a loud whistle.

read the rest here

August Full Moon Story: Denny Goes to Heaven

Here’s a new story for this month’s full moon. This is a long one, clocking in at over 12,000 words. I hope you like it!

Denny Goes to Heaven

This is another Denny story (see last month’s Denny Hitches a Ride), which takes place in my Abdera, Florida universe, but this one has more depth to it, and reveals a little more about swamp ape culture. Denny is a swamp ape, one of the clan of cryptid apes that include yeti, sasquatch, big foots, etc. Denny is also a ‘shaver’ a derogatory term used by the apes for someone who passes in human society by keeping themselves more-or-less groomed to be acceptable to humans.

I love stories where the characters end up in Hell, but it seems like stories where characters end up in Heaven are under-represented. I think this is because Heaven sounds boring. What do angels do in paradise all day? This story takes a look at the idea of paradise, and finds that maybe it’s not as awesome as it sounds.

Denny Goes to Heaven

“Angels are dicks.” Denny nursed a beer at the El Diablo Bar and Grill in the heart of a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon.

“Give ‘em a break, Denny. They’re dead.” Tomas sat at the end of the bar smoking a cigarette and doing something with his smart phone. The bar was dimly lit and quiet. Denny was the only customer and Tomas the only staff. The front door stood open to let in the bright Florida sunlight, and catch whatever breeze might accidentally slip inside. “You’d probably be partying all the time too if you were dead and became an angel.”

“First of all, I’ll probably never become an angel, second, I don’t like to party, and third, why the fuck did they have to move into my trailer park?” Denny had already been through this with Boris, Tomas’s father who had opened the bar for lunch, but had yet to exhaust his complaints with Tomas. Boris left after the brief lunch rush to run errands, leaving Tomas behind to pour Denny’s beer and listen to his tales of woe.

“Being an angel is better than being the other thing. Besides, you party all the time, Denny. And why wouldn’t angels move here? It’s beautiful here.” Tomas had known Denny since he was a child. He grew up in this bar. For as long as he could remember Denny had been a regular. He was almost like an uncle. An abnormally large, shaggy uncle.

“Drinking beer and smoking pot is not the same thing as partying, Tomas. These guys are doing fucking karaoke all fucking night.” Denny finished his beer and contemplated ordering another.

“Yeah, but they sing like angels.”

Denny had to give him that. Apparently becoming an angel made you the best possible version of yourself. Whether or not you could sing in life, you could sing as an angel. You were also transformed into the most beautiful version of you possible. The big mystery was why they were back on Earth. Not even the angels knew. They were plenty unhappy about it, so they said, but it was hard to tell from their non-stop carousing and fornicating. They were used to Heavenly indulgences and most weren’t interested in giving them up just because they were back on Earth.

Denny decided against another beer. He’d been drinking out too much lately to avoid the angels and money was getting tight. He paid Tomas and shambled his way to his shitty Toyota truck. He was too large to fit inside his truck with the seats in place, so he’d removed the truck seats and replaced them with a simple bench. Even with the seat removed he could barely squeeze himself inside.

Denny stood six foot six, slouched. Average height for a swamp ape. Denny was a shaver, a derogatory term used by swamp apes, yetis, bigfoot and their ilk for those who kept their hair trimmed so they could pass among the humans. When harassed by his cousins Denny would hold up a closed fist and intone solemnly while slowly opening his fingers to reveal an empty palm. “Here in my hand is how many fucks I give.”

READ THE REST HERE

Full Moon Story for July: Denny Hitches a Ride

In autumn 2014 I was fishing around for a story to write for that year’s NaNoWriMo. I knew I wanted to write a story with mythological creatures in a contemporary setting, but I didn’t want to write about vampires or werewolves.

When it was the swamp ape’s time to be considered I had a vision of the character and a name. Denny. Big hairy guy with a gap-toothed smile. In that moment I realized all giant ape cryptids were part of the same species. And, with some judicious shaving and hair-cutting, some of the great apes passed in human society.

I wrote a short novel about Denny in 2014, and from that sprang the world of Abdera, Florida. I wanted my own cities with magical histories mingled in with Florida’s mundane cities.

In 2015, when I was writing a lot of short stories I returned to Abdera and to Denny. One Denny story, “Denny Hitches a Ride,” is the one posted this full moon, and I think I might post “Denny Goes to Heaven” next month. I’ll have to pull it out and take a look at it.

An Unhaunted House,” posted earlier this year, takes place in the same world, though in a different fictional Florida city.

Here is “Denny Hitches a Ride.” Hope you enjoy it!

The drive west was hot. Denny sat in the back of a battered pale green ‘67 Chevy truck. The wind blew through his long hair, which was good, but there wasn’t a cloud in the August sky and it was brutal under the burning Florida sun, sitting uncomfortably on top of the scalding metal of the truck. The bed of the truck still reeked of the bales of marijuana it had been hauling, which wasn’t so bad. It had been used most recently to transport the bales from a small marina outside Miami to Daytona Beach where Denny had been spending the weekend with his cousin Stink.

Denny was hitchhiking back home to Abdera on the gulf side of Florida, and Reedy said he’d give him a ride as far as Kissimmee. Reedy pretended Denny didn’t sit up front because of his size, but they both knew Reedy wouldn’t allow a black man or an Indian to share the same cab. Reedy wasn’t exactly sure what Denny was, but he sure as hell wasn’t white.

Reedy pulled over when they got just south of Kissimmee on the Old Tampa Highway. Reedy leaned out the window and told Denny not to take any wooden nickels, laughed at his joke, and drove away. Denny said nothing. After a few moments he flipped off the dwindling back of the truck. He turned around to face traffic and stuck out his thumb.

He started walking backwards. Like most of his clan Denny was a gifted walker. If he had to he’d walk the rest of the way home. He sincerely hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

He’d trudged backwards for nearly ten miles when the cherry-red Cadillac convertible with a creamy white interior pulled over. Denny smiled. It was perfect timing. A bank of black clouds were moving in from the southwest. Before long a thunderstorm would be washing over the highway tarmac.

Inside the caddy was a young woman wearing a tie-dyed scarf holding her hair in place.

“Hey, big fella. Want a ride?”

Denny considered leaping over the door, but instead opened the passenger-side door and eased his six foot six inch two hundred and eighty pound frame onto the white leather seats.

“Thanks. This is one sweet ride,” said Denny admiringly.

“What’s your name?”

“Denny.”

“Hi, Denny. My name’s Cherry. Where ya headed?”

“Abdera.”

“Hey! Me too.” She pulled out onto the highway. Denny noticed she did not use the mirror or look behind her. He was pretty sure he heard the squeal of brakes, but refused to look back. “Except I got to stop over at my brother’s house first. Wanna come with? Then I can take you all the way to Abdera.”

“Sure. It beats walking.”

Read the rest here.

Third of the Way

The goal is 90,000 to 100,000 words and today I passed the 30,000 mark. Yay!

I’m behind where I wanted to be at this time, but I’m happy to see that I am persisting.

At this point, however, it’s clear that abundant re-writing and editing will be necessary. So, what I’m doing now is really creating material to re-write. It’s a bunch of clay to shape.

Full Moon Story: The Night Parade

It’s another full moon and time for a new story. This month it’s “The Night Parade.”

You’ve never seen anything like the night parade, and you probably never want to.

The Night Parade

Lily knelt and listened intently. She’d never seen anyone around the building and felt confident it was abandoned, but she’d learned the hard way you can’t be too careful living on the streets.

The police had been hanging around her usual sleeping place under the bridge. She didn’t stick around long enough to find out why. She scoped out this abandoned building weeks ago for just such an emergency. She couldn’t tell exactly what it might have been in the past. Some sort of business, maybe a neighborhood bar or small restaurant. The fact that it wasn’t raining, it was a full moon, that she’d located this place previously, and that she’d seen the cops before they’d seen her was all good fortune. She’d had worse nights. Much worse.

Read the rest here.

Full Moon Story: The Thanatourists

It’s another full moon, which means it’s time for a new story.

Ghosts are real and science has discovered a method of revealing their presence. The tourism industry takes advantage of this new discovery and a young tour guide meets a ghost different than the rest. Back at home her mother is dealing with death in her own way.

***

The Thanatourists

Ghosts aren’t supposed to know other people’s names, but Ndidi knew mine. She said I “talked different” than the others, but she couldn’t explain how. After giving tours I would look for her on a little ledge overlooking a kelp forest not far from her shipwreck. She said it reminded her of sunset even though the sun didn’t sink this deep into the ocean. The company set up artificial lights so the tourists could see the wreck and the ghosts. Ndidi found a spot where the light source silhouetted the tall swaying cords of artificial kelp. It looked like a permanent underwater sunset wrapped in liquid sapphire.

I called her Dee-Dee, but that wasn’t really her name. I spent days trying to pronounce her name correctly, to learn how to speak with her with the translator off. Every time she’d laugh and say it again. It sounded to me like I was saying exactly the same thing, but she’d laugh and say it again.

I asked her about her life before she died and her life as a ghost. She asked me about the world since she died and wanted me to describe and explain everything. The first thing I had to explain was drones. She said at first it was weird to talk to a little metal animal, but not any weirder than being a ghost. The second thing I explained were ghosts.

She told me about her death.

Read the rest of “The Thanatourists” here.

Full Moon Story: An Unhaunted House

It’s another full moon, and time for a new story. This entry is a comedic tale about real estate agent Country Rose Wiley and her attempt to sell the only unhaunted house in Miliwata, Florida. Every home in Miliwata is haunted except for the old Miller place, but Country Rose has a plan.

Read An Unhaunted House.

***

Boyd Fester was a man who loved quiet and cherished the moments when he could find it. Early mornings at the real estate office, before anyone arrived, were his favorite time of the day. He drank his coffee, looked out the window, and listened to the distant thrum of cars on the highway. When he heard the door slam he sighed. Quiet time was over.

Country Rose Wiley marched into her boss’s office without knocking. Boyd could judge her progress precisely by the sound of her heavy walk. Everything about Country Rose was loud, including her clothes, her hair, and her footsteps. And her voice. Especially her voice. “Boyd, I want the Miller house.”

Read the rest here.

Full Moon Story: Blissful Skies

It’s another full moon, which means it’s time for a new story. This moon’s story involves a peculiar celestial event as the earth passes through a field of cosmic debris that creates periodic meteor showers. But, really, it’s a story about a little boy that hates his grandmother.

Blissful Skies

Through his bedroom window Rolando watched the cascade of shimmery lines sparkle on and off across the horizon as the tiny fires lit up the night sky. He knelt on a wicker laundry hamper his mother rescued from a curbside years before, his arms folded on the window ledge, his head pressed against the screen. He was small for his age and the fraying wicker felt sturdy under his knees. The meteor shower sent a literal shiver of delight up his spine.

“Close your window.” He was startled by his abuela’s sudden presence behind him. She reached over him, slammed the window shut, locked it, and let down the blinds. Rolando’s abuela, his grandmother his mother always corrected him, could barely reach the window over the hamper. She wore a threadbare and stained floral nightgown, her parakeet Prettypretty perched on her shoulder.

“It is not safe when the meteors are falling. Go brush your teeth, it is time for bed.” Without a word Rolando carefully slipped from the hamper, then moved quickly to the small bathroom to brush his teeth with a Mickey Mouse toothbrush he’d used as long as he could remember.

Read the rest here.