Mudcat Café message #2726401 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #113933   Message #2726401
Posted By: Lonesome EJ
18-Sep-09 - 08:44 PM
Thread Name: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar
Subject: RE: Fiction : The Dead Man's Guitar
Michael began to open the car door, but paused before the dome light snapped on. Two figures in sheets, holes cut for eyes, were running toward the doorway. By their size and their quick and limber movement he judged them as boys, maybe 12 years old. Behind them, he saw the tall figure of a man, their father, standing on the edge of the sidewalk beneath the elm tree from which a hanging spook, clothing stuffed with paper, swung slowly in the chill breeze. In the scattered illumination of the street lamp, the man's shadow lay in a black orb around his feet. Sheila appeared in the doorway, gave the both of them candy, and they quickly trotted off, swinging paper grocery bags, but stopped short by the garage door. When she had closed the door, one of them crept back to the porch, seized the jack o'lantern, ran past his Father and smashed it in the driveway. The man remained, stock still, as the boys dashed off down the street.
Michael stared at this figure, his impatience growing, until at last the realization hit him, sending the laughter spilling out of him. Like the specter in the tree, this was a Halloween prank, a mummy or scarecrow bought from Safeway for $19.99. Because it stood in the shadow of the tree, he hadn't seen it until the trick or treaters ran past it.
Michael pulled the door handle and stepped out into the street. The wind against his lips had the taste of snow in it. A glance in both directions revealed no children, no movement. He crossed the street, keeping to the shadows. He approached her driveway, the tall figure just 12 feet away. He crept closer to it, prepared for the motion sensor to engage, for a canned voice to cackle and greet him.
The lamplight filtering through the leaves was slow to reveal the thing, but Michael was surprised, swallowed hard, as he took in the fact that the figure was not wearing a vampire chintz tuxedo, but a Nautica sport shirt with a dark vest and pleated trousers. The dark shadow that circled its feet now shone in the light. Like liquid. As he watched, the right arm made a sudden jerky mechanical movement, raising something shiny to its face. The light was wrong for him to make out the features, but he saw that the shiny thing in its hand was a Pabst Blue Ribbon can. And now he could see that it was not a vest the thing wore. It was a wide swath of something dark that had spilled down it's chest. The hand dropped, and Michael heard the slow crackle of the can collapsing in its fist. When the thing spoke at last, it gave no comic Halloween greeting. The voice was guttural, gasping, as it croaked "did you think that Knights always wore armor?" Despite the grotesque voice that gurgled from its crushed throat, he knew who it was before the thing took the slow step toward him that brought the lamplight onto its face.
"Hello, Mikey," said the corpse of Dave Ruben.