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SADDLEBAGS, Trunks, and Tombs

by Mia J. Mitchell 2 years ago in fantasy
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Cover Art: Mary P. Young

Chapter 9

For some reason I felt like the old man and I were headed on a journey of some sort. I was meant to see this story, meant to write it down and he unfortunately was meant to walk. There was no longer any panic over the changing window. Over the next year I would find that I looked forward to it.

After writing up my notes, I finished my article and poured myself another glass of wine. All time and space would be leaving my world. I don’t remember writing anything but what I saw, but now is not the time to get into that. The journey had begun and it was time to put my all into writing what the window wanted written.

Jackson aka The Walker:

It would seem that I walked forever but if I had, my body was unaware. I was tired of walking, but not physically. I am confused. I have no idea what’s going on. As if in answer to my unspoken prayer I began to have visions of the past, of the day I snuck Martha out of my father’s house and married her. She was such a young, pretty little thing. Outside of my wanderings, she was probably the only thing I had ever loved.

Martha was five years old when I met her. Her mother had come into our service at the manor and had brought her along. She was a spitfire of a sprite and the household immediately took to her. This all happened around my fourteenth birthday and me being the youngest of the Winchester clan, she was like a little sister to me, for a while anyway. My parents had used the little girl as a way of keeping me from going on my adventures. As she got older, though, she ended up being a great accomplice.

Winchester Manor

I went away to New York, five years after she had first arrived, to go to college. I must say, as much as I loved being away, seeing new places, I missed romping around with Marty. By the time I returned home, Marty was fifteen and had taken her place as a full-fledged servant at the manor. It was no wonder, she was a hard worker as her mother had been, before her death, and she was almost considered to be family.

I was twenty four when I returned to the manor. Female friends were a dime a dozen. They bored me with their fancy dress and their fancy talk. I didn’t realize, until I saw her, how much I had missed sitting in the high grass with little Marty, watching the ships sail by, telling her of my dreams to travel the world and see all there was to see.

The young lady I saw now, standing in the line of servants for my welcome home, was not the ten year old girl that I had left but a girl too young for the budding beauty that she had become. As I passed her in the line, she being the one to take my walking stick, I saw a small, impish twinkle in her emerald eyes a moment before her proper curtsey.

(Back to the Present)

I realized that I had been so caught up in the memory that I had forgotten that I was walking and didn’t realize that I had stopped. About 15 feet in front of me was a building, above it a sign that read “REBEL”. I wanted to look around but found myself focusing on a man who looked to be traveling on a strange bike, strange as in he wasn’t pedaling it and it was very loud.

I turned around and began to head, again, for the light that called me. Next thing I knew, I was very near the light. Inside the light was a small, brown bottle. Again compelled, I picked it up. Something told me that I was to place it in my bag, so I reached to do this. As I closed the bag, another tube of light began to shine and I began to walk.

The Watcher:

I feel it is my duty to let you know that from here until the writing of the final chapter, I will be relating the stories as they come to me, not as I see them in the window, but more so how they whisper in my mind. As far as I remember, the story in the window is always ready to play out when I am ready to write. My life continued on but seemed to change as time went by. Well, I guess it’s time to get started. I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you the first thing I saw once our journey began.

The old man looked as if he had been walking for ages and yet he did not look tired. The light we had seen from the place where our journey had begun was just in front of him now.

As he stood just outside the light, he bent at the waist and grabbed something in his hand. I couldn’t see it. I needed to see it! With that final thought, the old man opened the flap of one of the saddlebags and dropped the item in. I caught a glimpse of it just before it fell into the bag. Strange, I could have sworn I heard someone scream.

A Little More

The miniature whiskey bottle wasn’t even covered with the powdery dirt yet. It was probably still warm. As the aged hand reached for the bottle, a small, terrified scream rang out and faded away as the bottle was placed in the ancient saddlebag.

Evan Smith looked at his bare living room. As he walked through his home, he noticed that each room was as bare as the last. What the repo men hadn’t taken, she had. He supposed she had felt entitled. Not only had she taken their things, she had taken their two sons. Annabel did leave him three things.

On the bare, white kitchen counter was a fifth of scotch, a tumbler, and a note. He poured himself a glass of scotch and read the note, even though the note need not be read. The emptiness of the house had spoken volumes and as he had guessed, she hadn’t gone to visit her mother.

He and his wife had shared thirteen years of marriage and two sons, aged eleven and twelve, a large house in the suburbs, white picket fence, flowers, emerald green lawns in the front and back, basset hound, the whole nine yards and then some. Hadn’t he given her everything she had asked for? Was an occasional drink too much to give himself for all he had given?

He remembered the day she had told him that she was pregnant with their first son. He had just gotten promoted to Jr. Partner at the firm. They had been dating, casually, and now she was pregnant. He never even questioned her and had done the honorable thing after having a quick drink to calm his nerves. From then on, the occasional drink had become his lifeline.

As the years went by, he assumed he had begun to drink a little more. After their second son was born and he had moved them into the house on 63rd street, the house he sat in now, he had needed a little more to take the strain from his tightening shoulder muscles. A little more always did the trick.

The cases he was defending were getting harder to defend, but he was a winner, that’s why the firm kept him, he always won, up until two years ago. Andrews and Beck had tolerated all they could. “Evan, it’s time for you to put down the bottle. You were, are, one of our best and with treatment, that we will pay for, you will be again. Sober, you are brilliant. Evan, you want your job? You need to be brilliant.”

He had promised that he would slow it down. Promised that he didn’t need treatment. He had many chances but, as time had gone on, more near misses. Then he forgot to show up for closing arguments on his biggest and final case in his career. A multi-billionaire was being framed for the murder of a rival. Evan was winning the case, it had been in the bag. On the final day, the day to close the deal, Evan didn’t show. The jury took this to mean one thing: He didn’t believe his client was innocent and neither would they.

The verdict came back, guilty. The innocent went to prison and Evan was swiftly “let go” and soon disbarred. Annabel had begged him to get help. He remembered the night well. He had walked to the corner liquor store, picked up some candy for his boys and a treat for himself. His head had been throbbing, just a little more and he would straighten it all out.

That night had been six months ago. The credit card companies had started calling. The mortgage company had started calling. What they had in the bank was dwindling, quickly. Had he been paying any attention at all, he would have noticed something different about his wife.

She wasn’t nagging him anymore when the creditors called. She had stopped screaming at him when the cars were repossessed. She had purchased a used mini van, cash, and had started working for a local art dealer. There was no more sex but there were also no more fights.

Evan poured a third glass of scotch and wasn’t surprised to hear the voice on the other end of the phone telling him that at this time, the joint accounts had been emptied out by Mrs. Smith. He hung up the phone, telling himself that he would get it all figured out. He sat on the back porch for what seemed like hours. When he lifted the scotch bottle to pour a little more, not even a drop left the bottle. He needed just a little more.

He stumbled to the garage, where he had been smart enough to keep his prized Harley hidden, jumped on the hog and headed off to the Rebel gas station a couple of miles from the house. He needed the ride to clear his head. He never noticed the headlights behind him.

As he parked the Harley in one of the open spots near the door, he felt a change in the air. Due to his current blood alcohol level, the change was lost on him. He never even noticed the elderly man with the saddlebags thrown over his shoulder, never noticed him disappear into the night.

Inside the store he picked up a fifth of scotch and made his way to the counter. “That will be $11.99, sir.” The clerk eyed Evan as if this was a guy who could use a drink, desperately. Evan, having already forgotten, handed his debit card to the clerk. “Sir, your card is being declined.” Now he remembered. He pulled his wallet back out of his back pocket, replaced the card and realized he was cash poor. “I don’t have enough cash on me, damn. How much is that little bottle of Jack Daniels?”

Evan handed the clerk two of the three dollars he had in his wallet and pocketed the nickel and the tiny bottle of whiskey. When he got outside, keys in hand, he saw that his Harley had been loaded onto the flat bed of a repo truck that was just pulling up to him. “Pay your bill next time, Mack.” Evan could only stand there, stunned, as the flat bed pulled off.

He started to make his way home or to what was left of his home anyway. Soon the mortgage company would have him removed from the shell of the house he would sleep in tonight. He had walked for about half an hour when he remembered the little bottle in the front pocket of the pants of his Armani suit. He stopped where he was, took the bottle out and bitterly thought out loud, “A little more, literally.”

His chuckle was filled with bitterness that bordered on solid disbelief. As he choked down the contents of the bottle, in one burning swallow, Evan began to sway. He reached out to hold onto something, anything, but there was nothing but air in his desperate grasp as the world began to swim and the air around him began to constrict. Maybe, this time, a little more had become a tad too much. The world went black.

Evan could smell the whiskey. For a little bottle, the smell was strong. He was sure he had passed out and was now aware that he had fallen into something wet and warm. The first thing that came to mind was his own vomit, but he realized quickly that that was not the case and was glad of it.

The smell of the liquor nauseated him. He tried to stand up but slipped. It was as if the ground beneath his feet had turned to glass. He instinctively threw his hands out expecting to find nothing but air, and hit smooth cool walls. Before he could even wonder where he was, his eyes were drawn up. Through his drunken haze Evan thought he saw a large, leathered hand reaching for him. He began to scream as he was tumbled into eternal darkness.

Chapter 10

The Watcher:

What in the world? Was this supposed to be real or was I getting my own personal version of the twilight zone? Looking from a story-tellers point of view, it was good. I had always like sci-fi as a child. Strange, though, I had never thought to write a sci-fi novel. Even though I was the one writing this stuff down, I couldn’t help but wonder where it was coming from and was there more for me to see. Was any of it live? Or was it all just Memorex?

I began to straighten up the living room and was planning on taking a quick nap when the urge to call my mother crossed my mind. We didn’t talk often though I tried to keep in contact. But right now I needed to hear her voice. I didn’t suppose I was what she thought I could have been, not that she complained about who I was.

She had tried to use the old “I want grandchildren” routine until I reminded her that my brothers had given her plenty, legitimate and illegitimate. “Well, I don’t have any from YOU!” And the conversation had ended.

I couldn’t remember if I had ever even wanted children or a family life for that matter. It wasn’t that I was against the idea, it just hadn’t come up. Maybe I was a die hard for meeting the right women. Maybe for me it would just have to happen. A family. Why was I even thinking about this? What was making me question my hermit like existence? I would give my mother a call in the morning. Maybe I just needed a piece of her Dutch apple pie and homemade French vanilla ice cream.

The Walker:

As I made my way through the night desert, towards the new light, thoughts of Martha seemed to creep back in my mind. After my arrival at the manor, talking with Marty had become awkward at best. This wasn’t her fault. She was the same as she had always been and the same friend she had always been. The problem was definitely me. I didn’t see the skinny kid anymore, but a lovely young woman. I found myself going out of my way to catch glimpses of her throughout the day as she went about her work. We did spend some of her free time talking like we used to. Did anyone notice me during this? It’s hard to say.

One evening, I spotted Martha heading for the small pond on the north end of the land. There was a large willow tree there that she had loved as a child and now spent time at quietly reading or contemplating. Over the five months since I had come home from New York I had come to realize that I had fallen in love with Martha. She was familiar, had always been my best childhood friend, even with the age difference, and now she was one of the most lovely creatures I had ever laid my eyes upon. My heart felt as if it would burst as I watched her take down her hair and let it blow in the evening breeze. I began to walk towards the pond, towards Martha. As I drew near, she slowly turned her head and smiled at me. “Jackson, come sit with me. I have missed talking to you.” I was just about to sit next to her and she looked into my eyes. In that moment my world changed. Her smile faded, slightly, as she searched my eyes for the answer to what she saw in them. I had always been her friend, but I know she saw the yearning in my eyes, the yearning that was for her and her alone.

I saw her breath in deeply and because I could do nothing else, I sat as her eyes stayed trained on mine. I opened my mouth to speak as she smoothed out the folds of her cream colored skirt. She drew her feet from the pond, still looking in my eyes, and leaned towards me in recognition. I never had to speak. I never got the chance. My world exploded.

(Back to the Present)

Again, my memories have kept me entranced while I walked to the second column. The physical distance between them was not that far, I don’t think. Somehow, though, I don’t believe my walking is only physical. I’m not tired, though I have walked for many miles. When I reached the light that called to me, I could swear I heard a voice. I saw the item I was compelled to pick up, on the ground at my feet. What in the world is going on with me?

The Hidden

The aged hand reached for the deep brown mahogany statuette. He, who picked up the statuette, gripped it in both of his hands, firmly, held it up to the morning sun and snapped it into two equally sized pieces.

Into his hand fell the ancient black talisman that had been hidden in the center of the statuette for centuries. The mahogany immediately turned to dust, that blew off of his hands, as he placed the smooth, black stone into the ancient saddlebags.

The fertility statue had traveled far from its original land. It was carved by the hand of a dying tribal chief hundreds of years ago, deep in the most hidden parts of the Congo. A spirit was said to torture the land and it was time to save themselves from this demon of destruction and decay, both of their lands and their women.

The statue was carved of the most beautiful piece of deep, reddish-brown mahogany and was just shy of thirteen inches in height. In the very center was a small hollowed out cavern. This is where the talisman would be placed. In the very heart of the statue is where he was to be bound.

The elders had begun to chant. The sun had been down for hours and the only light was from the fire in the center of the village that caused the tall cast shadows of the elders, which seemed to dance against the backdrop of a dark and unforgiving forest. There would be no sounds in the jungle tonight. Tonight the jungle would be still. All that lived was silenced by his very presence, as if silence could save them from him.

He made his way through the forest towards the light of the fire. There was life, abundant life there, but it would be lost tonight. He had been a murderer of the seed since the moment he had been thrown to the earth after the battle had been waged and lost.

He would seek out the living and work his part, in the plans of his king, until the last living thing gasped its last breath. They would lose in the end, this he knew, but the casualties to the children would be great.

Unbeknownst to him, his lust for the kill would be his downfall. His vengeance for being one of the Creators condemned was of a magnitude that was unmatched in the world. The blue light enticed him, intrigued him. New life, waiting...

The dance had begun, the chants rising higher. The earth seemed to move under their feet, they felt his steps roll towards them, the very life force within each of them shuddering. The fire blazed from red to blue. He was here at the edge of the circle, they could all feel him. As the spirit moved towards the blue flames, the tribal chief pulled the statue and the smooth black stone from his headdress.

The spirit began to bathe in the blue flame and the statue and the stone were cast in with him. He never saw it coming, he had been too focused on the blue flame. As the blueness of the flames dissipated into the heart of the stone that had made its way into the statue, a centuries old roar came forth. The fire went out, the tribal chief lay dead and he was trapped.

The hole they had dug to hold him, until the final battle was to be waged, would not hold him. His pull was too strong. The very presence of his essence, lying deep in the ground, caused the roots of the jungle to expel him from its bowels. There would be one, the Maker liked the game of it all, who would be able to free him.

He would find the one and would kill again. It would not be the slave girl who would eventually find herself a captive to be loaded onto a large water vessel, like cattle. It was amazing to him how the human heart found ways to hold on. Somehow, in her nakedness, she was able to hold on to the one thing that gave her hope of rescue, of home. If only she had known. She had been overjoyed to find the statue. She thought it would bring the fullness of life into her belly when she was finally joined in marriage. She would grip it until her last breath as she was thrown, alive, into the raging sea along with the other women. Only death, which came soon, could release it from her grip.

Years would pass as the currents of the ocean would carry him. He had nothing but time. The statue, his prison, would come to wash up on the beaches of what would one day be known as Haiti. He would be found by a young boy, a direct descendant of a slave, born into slavery. The boy had run, excitingly, to his grandmother.

The spirit had tasted her power, but as she looked upon the statue, she remembered the stories. The white men, those that had lived, were retreating in their boats. She would send this death with them. The slaves of Haiti had fought and won one battle, her people did not so soon need another battle, especially against one who they were not strong enough to subdue.

The statue would next find its way to the shores of the colonies. Years would pass by. He would feel the power from time to time, but never the one. There had been stories of the statue and of its movement throughout the land. Stories that the old slaves passed to any who would listen. One day the stories would stop. One day there would be no one left who would remember what had been captured, hidden. Centuries would pass before the hunt would began again. He would only have one chance. He would only need one.

Somehow he could see her. A young woman, late thirties, but young to him, was walking towards him. She stopped for a moment as she noticed the statue lying unceremoniously on the ground. “Beautiful piece”, she said out loud to no one. It was as if it strained a melody to her. For some reason she caught a chill, though not completely unpleasant. “Someone must have dropped this when they were moving in.”

She continued to walk down the road, never having laid hands on the statue, but he had touched her, had felt her power. It was a power she would not have knowledge of and it was strong, so strong that his desire caused the statue to shudder. He had been with her people. The resilient African and the powerful Native American.

The downfall of both, those who she descended from, had been that they loved too much and trusted more. If he was to return to his former glory, this is where he would need to attack. This was the seed that needed to be destroyed. This is how they would overthrow the heavens.

Rick was coming out to do his bi-annual inspection of his properties. To him, this city was a horrid place to live, but people were living here and they needed homes. He would make his money one way or the other. Danielle was one of his newer tenants and he was looking forward to meeting her.

His apartment manager had said how she had come to get the application on foot, and even though she was a nurse and seemed like she should have more, she still walked, him not knowing from where she came or where she walked back to carrying the rental application in hand.

Normally Rick would have found this very odd. There were numerous casinos in town and a lot of people had fallen to gambling. Something about Danielle said otherwise and he would rent to her without ever having looked into her credit history or background.

As much as he wanted to meet her, Rick knew the chance was slim to none. The story she told was that she needed a place to shower and lie her head, that she had a home in Vegas. She worked two jobs and normally there wasn’t an hour between one to the next.

As he hopped out of his truck to knock on her door, he stumbled over the ancient statue. It looked like a piece of African inspired art, but was probably a cheap imitation. He bent over to pick it up and noted the weight of it, the solidness. Maybe it was real. The apartment manager had told him that Danielle was a woman “of color”. Maybe it was hers.

He knocked on her door, statue in hand, knowing there would be no answer. Opening the door with his key, he walked in and began his inspection. Danielle had been made aware that he would, yet Rick still felt as if he were intruding.

After he was finished, he walked out the door and locked it. He opened the garage door to check if it was functioning properly and felt the weight of the statue in his hand. He looked at it one more time and placed it on top of the water heater, in the garage, walked out and closed the garage. The piece seemed like it should belong to her. “Well, if it isn’t hers, I hope she enjoys it.” With that final thought, he headed towards the next apartment.

“What a ride!” Danielle thought out loud as she walked the bike up to her garage. As she opened the garage door and moved inside with the bike, she felt something. Something felt different. She was just about to turn around and walk out when she noticed something sitting on top of the water heater. Even from a distance, she swore it was the same statue she had seen on the ground a few weeks ago when she had come to get and application. “What’s that doing here? Rick must have found it and thought it was mine.”

Danielle had always been very aware of her surroundings. Not as aware as she could have been, though she didn’t know that, but aware enough to feel when things were different. She hated when people made her surroundings different, in any way. “Oh great, I’m turning into my mother.” She remembered, with a small chuckle, the last time she had went to visit her mother and her daughter in California. She had winked at her daughter and quietly knocked he mothers peacock statue over onto its side, knowing good and well it would trip her mother out as soon as she noticed it, it did. She wouldn’t be doing things like that to anyone else anymore.

The house didn’t have much furniture in it and no decorations. She carried the statue into the house, cleaned the dust off of it and decided to put it in the guest bathroom for the time being. There wasn’t really anywhere else to put it for the moment.

The pulse he felt when she touched the statue nearly nauseated him. When her hand had closed over the heart of the statue, his prison, he knew it would only be a moment, in his perspective, before he would be free. He wasn’t sorry to have to close her womb, bad enough it had already been opened once, but it was vital. Strength like this would be vital to the opposition. Maybe he could turn her. There would be no victory for him, but he would take his solace in her demise. He would take her, have her and destroy her.

Danielle had known, since she was a child, that there was a “knowing” in her. It was weak, and would remain so as she had no desire to even think about it, but it was there. It had taken her thirty five years to even truly acknowledge it and at that point she had had to, to save the lives of herself and her child. The “knowing” had been what kept her moving when she realized their lives were in danger. The “knowing” had been the force that helped her put her only child on a plane, without her, and send her to safety. It was the “knowing” that helped her make her escape a month later.

As she sat on her couch, taking her sneakers off, she heard a whisper in her mind, “Be careful what you bring in your house. You don’t know where it has been or whose it has been.” This she had heard screamed at her numerous times from the man who she had allowed to torment her, for love. The man she had run from.

Something was out of place. Something was wrong, she could feel it in the air. She began to walk down the hall toward the bathroom, the closer she got, the thicker the air. She picked up the statue, now barely touching it and almost fell trying to run down the hall and out of the front door. She made it to the dumpster, lifted the lid and threw the statue in. That statue had no place in her home. It had no place anywhere lest Hell itself took it in.

The trash truck came the next morning. As it lifted the dumpster and turned it upside down to collect the garbage, the statue bounced off the side of the truck and fell to the ground. The game was not over, not by a long shot. He would get his chance at freedom, sure that the Maker was the reason he lay here on the ground now. Even if he had to call to her very soul, HE WOULD BE FREE!!

He felt someone coming towards him. Someone was moving very near and he knew whoever it was, they were coming purposefully towards the statue. He felt power, but it was not the girl. The power was different. When the statue was snapped in two and the talisman freed, he felt as if he would suffocate. Before he could get his wits about him to detach from the stone, it was dropped into darkness, as darkness that even he could not escape from.

Chapter 11

The Watcher:

The talk with my parents was nice. It had been too long. My mother filled me in on all the dealings of my brothers and their families, not once mentioning my lack of either. I told her about the articles and about the antique box I had purchased. We were on the phone for a good hour or so with me promising, at the end, that I would come home to visit, soon.

My mother also told me that she and my father were enjoying the articles that I was putting out. Turns out that the old man Googles my name from time to time to keep up with my writing. I had no idea!! I promised to save them the trouble and make sure that they were sent copies of whatever venue my articles would turn up in so that they could have them in print. She was delighted.

When we hung up, my spirit was lifted. I looked out the window, the river flowing lazily, deciding to get out of the house for a while. I rarely went into the city, but this seemed like a nice day to just be out in it all. Just as I was planning my day, the phone began to ring. “Hello? Hey Ken, what’s up?” “Yeah, it is a nice day. I was just planning on driving into the city, maybe hit the waterfront.” “Well, you know that’s not my norm, but hey, why not? I’ll meet you there in a few hours.”

The Walker:

From the day I followed Martha to the tree, the day she saw my heart and allowed me to claim her for my own, I floated on clouds. For the first time in my life I had no desire to “see” anything else. Everything to entice my eyes was in front of me.

Unfortunately, even though my family had known Marty since she was a child, she was still a servant and a servant would never be good enough to be a Winchester. I courted her, strongly, but in secret. Fortunately for us, my father did not see it as odd that we would spend time together, talking, laughing or spending time in the stable with the horses that she so dearly loved.

One day, while I was in town, I passed by a shop that sold trinkets and such from around the world. With Marty on my mind, I stepped into the shop and began to look around. In the far corner of the shop were trinket boxes. As I glanced through them, I noticed one in particular, that was of the deepest mahogany with horses etched into the top. This I would give her with the promise of my heart and my name.

As I situated the saddlebags on my shoulder, a new tube of silver light began to shine in the distance. I guess there was something to being not totally alive, the walking never really made me weary. And the memories were so vivid, it was as if I were wherever I was remembering at the moment.

As much as I wanted to slip back into my memories, it was time to continue on the journey that I hoped would not be endless journey. I know I had done wrong, but to spend an eternity picking trash off the ground, what a horrid thought. I admit, this is mostly bitterness speaking, even I am not so dense as to believe that I am a walking street cleaner. I just want to know why. What has happened to me? What have I become that is so different from what I was?

The next thing I know, I am on the edge of a park, maybe a manor? It is hard to say, but one thing is for certain, the light from the sky is here and there is a white ball on the ground, the reason why I am here, I’m sure.

The Watcher:

Before I could get out the door, it seemed as if I had some writing to do. Fortunately for me the stories aren’t taking as long to write. Maybe it’s because I have accepted this fiasco as part of my life. It seemed as if the story and I had come to an understanding, but of what I did not know.

This is the third place our journey has taken us. A third life we are intruding upon. As I watch him, it doesn’t seem as if he is aware of the stories attached to the items he picks up, seems led to. And yet every time he touches an item, its story flashes before me. Maybe I am the only intruder. Not only on the people attached to the things that he is led to, but also to him.

As he places the golf ball in his bag and begins to move away from the course, I almost don’t want to see what happened this time. I don’t want to know about the lights, or do I?

Hole in One

The aged hand picked up the smooth, white ‘Ultra ll’ golf ball lying on the edge of the golf course. The flashing red and blue lights reflected off of the ball as he dropped it into the ancient saddlebag.

All week she had gotten numerous dinner invitations for Thanksgiving. People were not only offering dinner, but rides to their homes and then to work afterwards. Marceline had accepted an invitation to her boss’ home knowing good and well she would not be going. The group at the doctor’s office, her day job, spent a lot of time and energy “helping” her and trying to give her things they felt she needed. She knew it would drive them half out of their minds if they knew she was spending the day alone without a turkey dinner. They didn’t, couldn’t understand her need to be alone right now.

Marceline had lived in Half Moon Bay for just under a year. The night job at the hospital ended up being very lucrative for her. Lucrative was what she and her husband needed to get their fledgling business up and running. Unfortunately, her husband and the business were seventy miles away.

There had been many sacrifices on both their parts to get this going. Many times, they had both wanted to throw in the towel and live a regular life. She would not be the only one spending the holiday alone. They vowed to each other that this would be the last.

On Thanksgiving morning, Marceline prayed for her husband. She knew that being apart would be harder on him, today, then if would be on her. That afternoon, around two o’ clock, the call came asking if she was ready to be picked up for dinner. The previously prepared lie fell from her lips quicker than she had thought it would.

“I just got off the phone with my husband. He is on his way, right now, to pick me up for dinner. Thank you very much for the invitation, though.” “Well, we just wanted to make sure you didn’t have to spend the holiday alone. See you on Monday and have a good weekend at the hospital.”

What the people around her, here in the bay, failed to realize was that even if she were in a room full of people, her heart was with her husband and without him she would continue to be the one thing they were trying to prevent her from being, alone.

As it neared time for Marceline to find a ride or prepare to walk the three and a half miles to work, something in her had already prepared to make the walk. She was blessed to have so many people willing to help her. Today she would give them the only gift she could afford, the gift of time. A little more time with their families. Families and time, two things most people took for granted, of course until both were gone. She would be going to work with God today and spending an hour in true Thanksgiving.

Five minutes or so into her walk, Marceline spotted a golf ball lying on the ground. “You sure are far from the course, it must have been a heck of a hit that got you here.” Smiling, she picked the smooth, white ball up and held it in her hand as she continued toward the hospital.

She was walking and smiling to herself thinking about all of the blessings and trials that she and her husband had endured over the past year. Soon they would have the coffee house up and running and they would be back under the same roof. Soon she would be the housewife she had always wanted to be.

Justin was itching. It had been a long while and he was starting to get irritable. If he didn’t get what he needed soon, he was going to blow! He was gunning his large, white truck up the street when he spotted the woman, in hospital scrubs, walking alone down the road.

Her hair was tied back, covered by a light blue bandana and she had a black and gray backpack on her back. He continued to rev and brake, rev and brake, as he got closer to her. It looked like his itch might finally get scratched after all. Slowly he rolled past her, going the opposite direction than she was walking. She had a very thoughtful, content look on her face and a more powerful stride. Just across the street from where she was walking were two Hispanic men, one older than the other, probably relaxing after a big dinner. Just as he passed her, he gunned his engine once more and flew up the quiet residential street.

“Idiot”, she thought out loud. Men and their toys. Did he even care that he was playing around on a residential street? A street where at any time children might have been playing outside? Probably not. Men like that were rarely careful, until it was too late. Then they were standing there, with tears in their eyes, telling the police that they hadn’t seen the child run into the street after the ball. How many times had she heard that line as she covered up a tiny victim in the ER and prepared to tell his or her parents that he was gone? How many more times would she have to give that speech? Being a housewife again would be a saving grace.

“NO EXIT”, the sign blared out. She had taken this unknown street as a detour off of the main road so her friends wouldn’t have the chance of spotting her when they finally headed off to work. Now she was stuck. “Which way now?” she thought as she spun around looking at her options.

Going back to the main road would definitely take too long. Marceline decided to make a left on Ponderosa and then a right, a block later, on Mt. Charleston. Hopefully this would get her to Red Butte, the one street she knew would take her to the main highway and then to work.

Justin watched her make the turn onto the far side of the golf course. It would only be a matter of time, with even a small amount of luck. When would they ever learn to stay on the beaten path? Hopefully for him, never. Women.

“Okay, I’ve done it again,” Marceline spoke aloud. She seemed to be the queen of short cuts that turned into scenic routes. She had made numerous turns and had even ended up crossing a few man made dirt roads. Finally she could see a street in the distance that looked like it might be Red Butte.

She heard the engine revving. A truck or maybe a motorbike, hard to tell from the distance. This place was the perfect spot for dirt bike riding, as anyone would be able to tell by looking at her shoes, there was definitely a lot of dirt!

She would just step to the side of the road as whatever it was got near enough to pass. This was the norm, whether she was walking or riding her mountain bike. Drivers, especially now a days, didn’t pay enough attention to bikers and/or pedestrians. She had learned to be cautious.

She was in his sights now, nearing the far end of the golf course. There were a few houses back here, but it was a holiday, no one was out. Soon, he too would be giving thanks.

The roar of the engine was getting closer. Marceline instinctively moved to the side of the road and continued walking forward. She wasn’t worried, as she was used to the drivers by now and was maybe ten yards away from the paved walkway, on the back of the course that would take her where she needed to be.

The engine was closer now and soon it would pass. She turned, more out of curiosity, and stared into a black abyss which were the eyes of the driver, protected by the windshield. God would again bless her and later, thanks would be given that she was already dead before her crumpled body landed in a sand trap, twenty yards away.

The Watcher:

I watched the white ball roll from the woman’s lifeless hand. I watched it come to rest near a stretch of reeds where the blackbirds were screeching. As the flashing lights from the police cars followed behind the silent ambulance, moving slowly away from the golf course, the walker stepped from the shadows, looked down and reached for the ball. I really hope these stories are just that, stories.

This was impossible. For the sake of my mind I have decided that they are just stories. There is no way this could be real! So it looks like I have lucked up on some serious sci-fi! And now for my day away from the pen!


About the author

Mia J. Mitchell

Writing is my breath~ I write in every spare moment I have... blogs, books, short stories... I can't NOT write!



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