Eight blondes with brown eyes
nod at working men nearby.
Sunflowers rule the sky.
Eight blondes with brown eyes
nod at working men nearby.
Sunflowers rule the sky.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Deep within the South, read about the magickal folk who haunt the woods, the cemeteries, and the cities. Within this grim anthology, eighteen authors will spellbind you with tales of hoodoo, voodoo, and witchcraft. From this cauldron mix, readers will explore the many dangers lurking upon the Natchez Trace and in the Mississippi Delta. They will encounter a bewitched doll named Robert from the Florida Keys, and a cursed trunk that is better left closed. In the backstreets of New Orleans, they will become acquainted with scorned persons who will stop at nothing to exact their revenge. These hair raising tales and more await you in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. Read if you dare.
Authors: Alexander S. Brown Angela Lucius H. David Blalock C G Bush Della West Diane Ward Elizabeth Allen Greg McWhorter John Hesselberg Jonnie Sorrow Kalila Smith Linda DeLeon Louise Myers Melissa Robinson Melodie Romeo J L Mulvihill Robert McGough Tom Lucas Southern Haunts: Magick Beneath the Moonlight is the third title in the Southern Haunts Anthology Collection
The "tone" of southern life comes through very well in these stories. I'm from Mississippi, and it always bothers me when the south is portrayed in books and movies by someone who doesn't know the culture and uses stereo-types, often negative. This is NOT the case in this book. I could easily tell that the authors were familiar with the culture of the south, and this came through quite well. Overall, I highly recommend this book, and plan to pick up the first two in this series. Spooky stories, set in my native culture? What's not to like!! I actually bought and paid for this book, which is something I don't do very often these days.
One of many problems Marjorie has had in life is poor banana management. She has always purchased too many bananas and half of them rot on her kitchen table before she can eat them. Only fruit flies in summer prompt her to throw the rotten ones out. But since she hates to throw anything away, there are bananas, in different places, all over the house.
This is not the kind of problem a renowned artist like Marjorie should have. Not only are her paintings on display at major modern art museums but she also holds a doctorate with high honors in philosophy from Yale. She is an accomplished woman, still attractive despite the passing years, the kind of woman a distinguished widower might turn to for companionship after a graceful mourning period had been observed.
Banana management, however, is not Marjorie's only problem in the real world, as she calls life outside her studio and classroom. Marjorie also has a problem putting gas in her car. Putting the hose in the tank evokes thoughts of rape, even though she herself has never come close to being raped.
After many years Marjorie knows certain things are too much for her. Banana management and filling gas tanks are but a few of the many things she fears. These things, however, continue to grow in number and threaten her mental and emotional balance in a serious way.
She knows she needs professional help but has yet to pick a therapist to consult. In a small university town, everyone knows everyone. Marjorie is a respected woman as indeed she deserves to be. No one, except for me, has any notion of her problem.
I know about the problem because she explained it to me at great length one day in the break room. We have been teaching at the same small but prestigious university for many years. Although in different disciplines, we know something about each other's work and often talk about our experiences, both good and bad.
As a zoologist, I work with hamsters, and for the last decade that work has been rewarding but at the same time very frustrating and I have shared my frustrations with Marjorie many times. She is a good listener.
She knows that hamsters do well on a treadmill but otherwise there's no predicting what they may do. And there's no shortage of them, either, in my laboratory. I have cages and cages of them. They reproduce almost as fast as the rabbits I worked with in preparing my dissertation.
I am no longer involved with rabbits, however, since losing my position at another university when an animal shelter came to my laboratory and took my rabbits away. Hamsters have been the focus of my research since finishing my doctorate. So far no one has called an animal shelter to check on my hamsters but the cost of food alone is killing me.
With regard to Marjorie, however, I suppose one reason she took me into her confidence is that decades ago we had courted and even talked of marriage. No wedding came to pass, however. Marjorie never married and I married someone else a few years later. Marjorie didn't seem to mind.
I listened carefully to everything Marjorie had to say that day in the break room. I knew about her banana management problem but her gas tank situation was new to me. After bringing her up to date on my hamster research, I thought it might help if I told Marjorie that Pablo Picasso once said "there is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality."
I suggested to Marjorie that Picasso's idea, properly applied, might help her adjust to things in the real world. I suggested that she reverse his approach and deal with things first in the abstract--as a philosopher to get to the essence of things that bother her. And then as an artist she might commit those same things to canvas in a way she would not find intimidating. The process might help her, I said, come to grips with things as they are and not as she now found them to be. Perhaps she could remove the terror involved in throwing out rotten bananas.
For example, she might start with green bananas, first in the abstract and then on canvas, and then graduate to bananas rotting on her kitchen table. I did not tell her, however, that decades ago when we were talking about marriage the reason I backed out was her ineptitude in banana management. Dinner at her house was intolerable immersed as I found myself in the stench of bananas in various stages of decay.
I did not tell her either that the woman I married has never once in 40 years let a banana rot in our home. I had told my wife-to-be before we got married that if she wanted to buy bananas, good for her, but not to expect me to provide any help in eating them. I also told her that if I ever saw a banana rotting anywhere in our house I would leave her for another woman, one with no history of eating bananas.
I have had a wonderful marriage. This underscores for me the importance of good banana management in any marriage. Of course, from my point of view, the best banana management is no bananas.
After our talk in the break room, I told Marjorie that if I could be of any help in the future in resolving her difficulties not to hesitate to call on me. After all, she once adopted several of my older hamsters and gave them a home even though I told her they had no history of eating bananas.
I simply wanted to return the favor and listen to whatever else Marjorie might want to say. After all we have been through together, I might have some insight, however serendipitous, into the problems she is living with on a daily basis. I was there at the start, I reminded her, when the bananas first became a problem.
Marjorie thanked me for my kindness in listening and then asked if I could give her a lift home. She had run out of gas. Her car would be fine in the faculty parking lot, she said, and she would call the auto club tomorrow to bring another can of gas.
In the meantime, she said it might be nice to make a big bowl of banana pudding. She admitted she always has a taste for banana pudding but usually forgets to make it in time. I said that might be a good idea but politely declined her kind offer to make an extra bowl for me.
If he were to come today
I have no idea what I would say
except to admit I have been
expecting him, just not today.
Then I would join the sheep
and the goats and wait for him
to point the way I should go.
It would be too late, I know,
but, yes, I would pray.
It isn’t a flophouse
where Fred lives now
but he calls it that
a month after moving in
and seeing his fellow
residents with whom
he has something in
common, little money.
But most of them
never had much money
unlike Fred who once had
wads of money, but
by decree of the court
he gives most of it now to
the mother of his children
for alimony and child support
and will do that for years.
Sitting in his hotel room
drinking instant coffee
brewed with hot water
from the bathroom tap,
Fred remembers telling
his parents 20 years ago
he had met the woman he
was going to marry.
That’s nice, they said.
They were happy for him
but his sister was not.
Fred had called her Fatso
most of their childhood.
He even called her Fatso
in front of her friends.
She told Fred she would
call his fiancée and tell her
not to marry him and she did
but the woman married Fred
anyway and they laughed about
the phone call for years.
But 20 years later Fred’s wife
called his sister and said
her brother was worse
than she had ever imagined.
The marriage was over.
She had divorced him,
had custody of the children,
was given the house
and most of their assets,
alimony and child support.
Fred got one of the cars.
Now he sits in his hotel room
and drinks instant coffee
brewed with hot water
from the bathroom tap and
his sister sends him emails
on holidays chock full
of smiling emojis.
She signs every one
Grandma and the Starlets
They’re starlets Hollywood
has yet to discover, two nice
young ladies who assemble
sandwiches at the Subway Shop
Monday through Friday at noon.
Workingmen come to see them
and the manager likes that.
Herb doesn’t like the noon crowd
so he arrives early in the morning
and takes a sandwich to work.
Grandma waits on him and her
sandwiches are bigger than any
the young ladies have made for him,
more meat, cheese and veggies.
Grandma waits on Herb
three days a week and offers
no small talk unlike the young ladies.
She just asks if he wants chips with that.
He has never said yes.
One day Herb pays his tab and
tells Grandma her sandwiches
are so good she should be at
the counter making them at noon.
Grandma hasn’t shut up since.
Now Herb's sandwiches are
missiles ready for launch,
not something for lunch.
Mike Was Never a Stanley
Mike’s old now.
His mind is somewhere
in the Fifties.
Every few weeks
one of his kids takes
Mike and his recliner
to another place
to live with a different
son or daughter.
He has 11 kids,
all with families,
none of them rich.
They feed him well
and take him to the doctor
but pills don’t help.
When they talk to him,
he sometimes answers,
especially when asked
what’s your name, Dad.
He shouts Stanley but
Stanley was his father’s name.
His father was a fireman who
worked 24 hours, had 48 off
and never met a man he liked.
He whipped Mike as a child
with his fireman’s belt for faults
his mother could not recall
but she was quiet like Mike.
His father would tell Mike
not to cry during a whipping
because only girls cry.
When Mike cried at times
Stanley would thrash him again.
Mike's kids will tell you, though,
their father was never a Stanley.
Henry Showed Wendy His Paintings
Henry and Wendy Throckmorton had been married a week when Henry took Wendy to his garret 100 miles south of their estate in posh Kenilworth, a suburb of Chicago. Wendy thought she was going on a delayed honeymoon. Henry had never told her that he was a painter by avocation. She knew only that he was a successful patent attorney and had a large, profitable practice.
There was a heavy snowfall that evening and it made the trip for Wendy, looking out the window of the car, all the more beautiful. They arrived at the garret around midnight and walked up three flights of stairs in the dark. It was good that Henry had brought his flashlight. He used three keys on a long silver chain to open three locks on the steel door. Once inside the garret, Henry turned on the light with triumph.
"Voila!" he said as he turned slowly in a circle with arms outstretched.
Wendy was certainly surprised. There were paintings all over the walls. Other paintings, half completed, sat on their easels waiting for Henry. He explained to Wendy that she was the first person to see his work--his work of a lifetime. He had never shown his work to anyone before but now that they were married, he felt she had a right to see it.
"Wendy, you are the one person I know who is qualified to see my work and I am very happy about that."
Wendy had been curator of several art collections at prestigious museums in a number of cities. As soon as she was settled in her new home, she planned to seek similar employment in Chicago, perhaps at a small private gallery so she would have less pressure and more time to make a nice home for Henry who had been a bachelor for a long time.
Wendy was an expert in watercolors, Henry's medium of choice. With his encouragement, she walked around the garret slowly, looking at every painting on the walls and even those on the easels before she said anything.
Finally, choosing her words carefully, she told Henry his work was "interesting." She did not praise or condemn any particular painting. She spoke quietly, trying her best to say something nice when her professional assessment told her just the opposite--the work was mediocre, mundane at best. Later on, Henry thought to himself that Wendy had looked bemused after reviewing his life's work.
Henry Throckmorton earned his living as an attorney but that was simply to buy the time necessary to paint. Before marrying Wendy he had spent weekends, holidays and vacations at his garret, painting night and day for many years. He had done well as an attorney but painting was his passion. He knew now, however, that the canvases he thought so highly of had failed to impress his young wife.
Henry drove home alone that night and told everyone at work the next day that Wendy had left him without notice. He called her parents and cried on the telephone about her sudden departure. He begged them to ask Wendy to call him if they heard from her and he said he would call them if she called him. He asked her mother if Wendy had ever gone off on her own before and she assured him that Wendy had not.
No one ever saw Wendy Throckmorton again. Over the years, her parents had died, still worried about Wendy. Since she had been an only child, there were no siblings to ask about her. It was obvious to the staff in Henry's office that he was in no mood to discuss her. They felt the man was brokenhearted.
Once again, Henry was spending weekends, holidays and vacations at his garret painting in watercolors. No one since Wendy had seen his work nor had anyone else visited his garret. Paintings were still everywhere, their number increasing as a result of Henry's ever-increasing frenzy for painting.
A wonderful cook, Henry still stored a few steaks in a small refrigerator in the kitchen but he no longer hung big cuts of beef from hooks in the walk-in freezer at the back of the garret. That freezer had been a selling point when Henry bought the place from a retired butcher many years ago. But now Henry never went into the freezer. In fact, he didn't know where he had put the keys to the locks he himself had installed on the freezer door after Wendy had disappeared.
In addition to being good at the law and enjoying painting, Henry Throckmorton had always been handy with tools. He had hoped some day to try his hand at ice sculpture but he would have to do that outside now and not in the freezer as he had once planned.
Two new crutches and two double shots of Bushmills Irish Whiskey enabled Joe Faherty to move from the back seat of Moira Murphy's 1976 Buick into Eagan's Funeral Home for Tim McGillicuddy's wake. At 87, Joe was in bad shape, only a tad better than McGillicuddy who looked splendid in a rococo casket.
The way the funeral home had painted McGillicuddy's face, he looked better than most of the folks who had come to say good-bye. Many of them were in their eighties. Even Moira, who still had her driver's license, was creaky at 75.
McGillicuddy was 90 when he fell off his horse out in the country. Until that moment he hadn't been sick a day in his life. Never drank and never smoked. Women were his passion. He was calling on a couple until the day he died.
Few folks knew that McGillicuddy had been expelled from Ireland by the British in 1920. He was 18. He had been captured at 16 bringing guns to older IRA rebels who were fighting the British. A few rebels with rifles caused the British occupiers a lot of problems.
For two years they kept McGillicudy in prison. They finally agreed to let him go to America. Why not, McGillicuddy thought. Life in America had to be better than prison.
In the funeral home, however, much to the disgust of Joe Faherty, the priest had come to the wake early. This meant Joe didn't have time to grab his crutches and get to the bar next door before the priest started the rosary. The custom at Irish wakes was that the priest would arrive at 6:30 p.m. and all the men would have made it to the bar by then. The women would say the rosary with the priest.
But this was a new priest and there he was in front of the casket saying 15 decades of the rosary. Not the traditional five, as was the case at Polish wakes.
Joe figured it would take the priest an hour to finish. Then he'd ask Moira to take him home. He was too tired to go to the bar. Besides, he had had more than the two double shots of Bushmills he had mentioned to Moira.
Moira drove Joe home. She waited until he was inside the house. She wanted to make certain his new crutches wouldn't result in a fall. Joe waved good-bye to Moira and shut the door but didn't lock it. He had to let the dog out.
Although he hated to turn on a light--he lived on Social Security--he turned on just one because it was as dark inside as it was outside. He planned to buy some candles.
As soon as Joe turned on the light, he saw McGillicuddy in his favorite recliner wearing the same fancy suit he had on in the casket.
"What the hell are you doing here," Faherty asked. "Why didn't you stay where you were. We got through the rosary so why do this. They'll come here first, considering all the years we've been friends."
McGillicuddy didn't say a word.
"Well," said Faherty, "if you aren't in the mood to talk, I'll have another Bushmills till you decide to say something. You don't look dead. In fact, you never looked better."
McGillicuddy maintained his silence.
"It's too bad you don't drink. You could join me in some Bushmills. It's as good today as it was back in Ireland."
Down deep Faherty didn't know what to do with dead McGillicuddy in his favorite recliner. How long, he wondered, would McGillicuddy stay. He wanted to be friendly but there was a limit to his hospitality.
"Let's watch the news on television," Faherty said, turning on the set. "Maybe they'll explain how I've come to enjoy your company.
"You didn't drive, did you? If you need a lift I'm sure Moira will come pick you up. After all, you two almost got married. I think she's still fond of you.
Still, not a word out of McGillicuddy.
"I'm going in the kitchen and call Moira," Joe said. "I'll be right back. We can talk about which way you're going, up or down, if you know what I mean.
"The bets were about even on you. I told everyone you'd be in heaven before they embalmed you. Except for the women, you probably didn't commit another mortal sin in your life. Of course, you were dead when the priest gave you the Last Rites. Don't know if they work on a dead person. Let's hope they do."
Faherty hoisted himself out of the guest chair, got on his crutches and headed for the kitchen to call Moira. He stumbled a bit on the rug because he wasn't used to the crutches or all that Bushmills.
"Hello, Moira," Faherty said when she answered the phone. "Could you drop back here for a minute. I've got an unexpected guest who needs a lift. I think you'll be happy to see him. I have to go to bed. We've got McGillicuddy's funeral Mass tomorrow. Wouldn't want to miss that."
Moira said she'd be right over. Faherty, heading back to the parlor, tripped over his dachshund. The dog had slept through all the commotion with McGillicuddy. Joe landed with a thud on his forehead. He never moved.
The next day Moira blamed Joe's death on his crutches and indeed that was part of the problem. No mention was made of the Bushmills, however. Moira, who had found the body, found the half empty bottle and took it home.
As Joe's driver for three years Moira thought she deserved the liquor. But she wondered who the guest was that Joe had called about. When she got to his house, there was only the dachshund snoring next to the body.
My Heart Ripples
I lost time with you. I busied myself into oblivion, and now I hurt. Countless hours squandered for no good, but I see only you. I realize only you: how beautiful you are and how perfect you are.
I am flawed and I am jealous. I speak in codes because I am embarrassed. Don’t you understand, my arrow missed the target and pierced me where it hurts, my heart.
Now my heart weeps and a sad flood consumes me. I’m drenched. My mind can’t escape it. Heartache springs profusely; my heart sheds its tears.
But it’s not because I lost time. It’s not because I busied myself into oblivion.
And it’s not because I squandered countless hours.
I made a choice. You were not it…
But you’re okay. You did well. You chose right. And you have a love, a deep connection. And I am jealous. I want that too. But you reap what you sow.
And my heart ripples.
Edited by: Maddy D.