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Re: [ticket2write] Re: Spring Tears (Albi)

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  • Carol Carpenter
    Albi. Thank you. Yes, I am aware that most conifer trees need fire to melt the sap in their cones in order for seed release. Prescribed burns are necessary to
    Message 1 of 5 , May 2, 2005
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      Albi.
       
      Thank you. Yes, I am aware that most conifer trees need fire to melt the sap in their cones in order for seed release. Prescribed burns are necessary to clear the forest floor for new growth and forest regeneration. Around here, farmers generally burn their field in the spring, which adds nitrogen to the soil and greens the grass more rapidly. My objection here in my poem is in the timing. Why couldn't this farmer (120 acres in CRP) burn his field in February BEFORE the birds nested and had young ones? 
       
      My poem dealt with the overwhelming feeling I got when I walked outside after the fire dwindled, the baby bird's spirits crying.  All those pheasants and blackbirds were so confused.  And as I walked to the back of my yard, I saw lilac petals falling off my bushes like lavender tears. Fire  gives and takes away, but in this instance, I believe it took too much.
       
      Carol

      albiaicehouse <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
      Carol,

      Excellent poem.

      On a non-writing note, I live near an area called the Albany Pine
      Bush.  They have studied the ecology of the area and have realized
      that prescribed burns are the only way to achieve the unique ecology
      which has persisted for eons.  The pine seeds actually need to be
      exposed to fire to germinate.

      So as awful as the death and destruction is for the individual animals
      and plants, it renews life and brings into a special balance that
      would be destroyed if they removed fire.

      Maybe you know all this or in your area the fire is used for other
      purposes?  Or you just wanted to shoe the personal side of the process?

      albi


      --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, Carol Carpenter
      <carol_emt87@y...> wrote:
      >
      > Spring Tears
      >

      >
      > Today they burned the field
      >
      > west of my home
      >
      > that dry tan grass no match
      >
      > for the propane torches they wielded
      >
      > tall April brome
      >
      > crackled like eggs frying
      >
      > in a hot, greased cast iron skillet
      >
      > frightened pheasants and blackbirds fled,
      >
      > abandoning their nests
      >
      > stranding their young
      >
      > to the fire's blistering tongue
      >
      > hawks and vultures surfed the updrafts
      >
      > lifting on warmth, gorging on corpses
      >
      > while in the smoky wind,
      >
      > my lilacs cried.
      >

      >
      > Carol J. Carpenter
      >
      > 4/30/05
      >
      >
      >            
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    • Matt Lamoreux
      ... accepting any more stuff for work shopping, so I thought I d pop this one up here. There s a new movie out about a haunted apartment and having lived in a
      Message 2 of 5 , May 5, 2005
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        ---I am winding up my writing class next week and the teacher isn't
        accepting any more stuff for work shopping, so I thought I'd pop this one up
        here. There's a new movie out about a haunted apartment and having lived in
        a small one room apartment for ten years with my wife I thought, "Heck I
        should know how to write about a haunted apartment." This one that we lived
        in would have footfalls across the center of the floor to the kitchen every
        so often. I just chalked it up to "acoustics." The following is a very rough
        first draft of "Apartment 235." There's still work to do on this but I
        thought I'd get some feedback before I continue.

        ---I've also added a tentative cover picture for "Patient 444," to my web
        site. Tell me if it's "spooky" enough. "Patient 444" includes a rather large
        wolf that is symbolic of the predatory, and is mentioned a lot in the story.
        I hope to have "Patient 444" available in PDF soon, along with another
        assemblage of short story collections, much of which has been work shopped
        here.

        http://www.jmlamoreux.org/index.htm




        Apartment 235


        What is the sound of someone dialing "911?"

        That sound "beeped" in the darkness of the apartment bed room just now. A
        voice answered, "9-1-1, what is your emergency?" But the caller didn't seem
        to be able to respond. She was trying to speak through a split lip sitting
        there in the darkness, bleeding into the cheap carpet.

        "What is your emergency?" the voice asked again.

        "He's killed me," the woman mumbled through painfully swollen lips and a
        fractured jaw.

        "Please repeat that. Are you inured?"

        She turned her head and spat out blood welling into her mouth.

        "I'm dead," she said, feeling herself begin to lapse into waves of
        unconsciousness. She held the phone like it was telling her things she
        couldn't believe.

        From the living room the dispatcher heard a shotgun ratchet a shell in the
        chamber.

        "I know what you're doing in there you bitch!" a male voice shouted from
        there, his voice echoing in the tiny apartment. The bedroom door whipped
        open and the woman on the phone croaked out a wetly feeble "no." Then the
        shot came, and the phone went dead.


        It is three years past that moment now, and Cybil Monroe is unaware of the
        history of apartment 235 as friends from her church help her move into 234,
        no simple task because Cybil is in a wheel chair, bound to it by a car
        accident three days before her 25th birthday. She is fiercely independent
        though (so she thinks), and soon Dale and Brian from the "First Baptist
        Church of the Nazarene" are looking for a quick way to exit, tired of taking
        orders from the "Wheel Chair Nazi." Cybil's furnishings are sparse, and as
        the truck pulls away from the carport of her apartment complex Dale and
        Brian are glad this job was light, and glad it's over.

        Cybil sits next to the large living room window in her wheel chair and looks
        across the street at Hyde Park. Behind her boxes are stacked, most of them
        filled with stuffed animals. (She needed something she could hold, her anger
        and frustration over her disability kept most everyone else away). On the TV
        stand a large stuffed chimp lay drunkenly. He stared at the cheap carpet as
        if there was something incredibly interesting inside its fibers, something
        his little cloth and cotton brain just couldn't understand.

        On the wooden balcony railing a cigarette butt drifted a thin trail of smoke
        up and towards the park. Dale couldn't keep his butts under control, she
        thought. "That pig," she said to herself and wheeled outside to flick it
        into the parking lot. As she watched the butt spin downwards onto the cement
        she saw two boys talking about something by the large jungle gym. Later she
        would realize that she had observed a drug deal, and even later she would
        realize these were common in this area.and no one cared.

        But right now Cybil is dialing on her cell phone to let her mother know she
        has been moved in, and is unpacking all right, and letting her know all the
        other things mothers are concerned about that Cybil will obediently report
        on.

        In 235 next door a spider busily makes a web in the corner of an aluminum
        window frame. Apartment 235 is empty, and has been empty since June, when 19
        year old Elisabeth Slater was murdered with a shotgun by her live-in boy
        friend, 35 year old Emilio Heverra. There are no flies in the spider's web,
        just a lot of sun light.

        Something in the empty apartment listens to Cybil's voice through the wall.

        You've lived the first night in a new apartment right? Your crap is all over
        the place, you're exhausted from the move, boxes are everywhere and all you
        want to do is sleep. Cybil had tried to install her shower grips but they
        wouldn't secure. She had to ask her father to come over the next day and fix
        them. Being in a wheel chair was limiting. It seemed like you needed
        everyone to help you do everything or you had to try to do it yourself with
        restricted results.at first any way. She lifted herself from the chair onto
        the bed dragging her legs onto the mattress, and laid her head on a folded
        coat.

        Outside the whoosh of cars lulled her. She could hear the people in 233
        making supper. Their microwave beeped. She heard dishes rattle. The man was
        talking. She couldn't hear what it was about. The woman was laughing, a
        pretty sort of laugh. Then someone turned on a TV. Cybil began to drift into
        an exhausted sleep. Soon she was deeply submerged in it, her mouth slightly
        open, snores reverberating in the unpacked land of boxes that surrounded her
        on the bed.

        Hours later, (had her alarm clock been unpacked it would read 3:00 A.M.) her
        apartment was dark, the street lights casting amber patterns on the freshly
        painted walls. From the bathroom that shared a wall with the bathroom in
        235, a shadow began behaving not like shadows do. It moved to the sink,
        gelled there for a moment, and the mirrored medicine chest slowly opened.
        Cybil's bottles jittered and jumped around slightly on their own, and the
        Percodan dropped into the sink and remained there. The shadow receded. All
        was quiet after that, until morning when the next day began with a gathering
        of warm, summer light, bringing out the colors of everything, even the beige
        walls of Cybil's new home.


        Cybil's father tightened the bathtub railings. He tested them with his large
        arms and hands.

        "This should work now hon," he said.

        Cybil was putting glasses away, getting what she could in the lower
        cupboards. The upper cupboards were a "No Man's Land" until she could get
        the extension grip she'd ordered.

        "Can I get you some lunch?" her father asked.

        "No Dad thanks," she said, puling a stuffed bear out of a box on the kitchen
        floor and laying it in her lap. The next thing that came out of that box was
        a school year-book. It fell open to a page spattered with cheer leaders
        posing. She glanced at herself there, during the days when she was active
        and limber.and could walk.and then shut the book abruptly. Her father
        noticed and put his large hand in the place between her neck and shoulder
        blades.

        "Remember Mom and I will only be a call away," he said.

        She glanced up at him and smiled weakly, then reached up and patted his
        hand. He looked at his watch.

        "I need to leave for work now, be sure to call your mother today, she
        worries."

        "Of course," Cybil said.

        He turned and walked out the door closing it quietly behind him.

        We've all been there, at the moment when we "leave the nest." It's hard to
        sever those old ties. We get used to the old bed room, breakfast at the
        table, the commotion, the multiple conversations, the to and fro of "our
        family." And then one day, it ends.

        What's left is silence, your own world in which you pay the bills, manage
        the cleaning, do the laundry, sit alone at a small card table and nibble at
        a thawed frozen dinner while the TV flickers on the wall behind you. Cybil
        was alone in this new paradigm, and was letting it absorb into her now, as
        she began to adjust to it.

        In the shower, on her bath seat, she let the water run over her adjusting it
        as best she could with her newly arrived extension grip. It was awkward at
        first and she gasped as the cold water hit her, but after a while the hot
        water kicked in and she was immersed in its gentling warmth, letting it
        touch her like a sheet of liquid fingers coursing down her body, brushing
        her hair into a wet glaze. She let her fingers move down the scar on her
        left leg that circled her upper thigh and then moved along to her lower
        spine.

        The water continued to warm her.the liquid hands touching her in a sort of
        serpentine way. She soaped her hair and scrubbed her scalp, then rinsed. She
        scrubbed herself using the brush at first, and then her hands. The water
        kept coming, the warmth kept coming, and the sensuality of it touched her in
        closely intimate ways. Alone in the shower where no one could see her, she
        quietly pleasured herself as the water mixed with steam in the hollow
        chamber of the small bathroom. The liquid fingers kept awakening her inner
        juices, images stalked her mind and created even warmer feelings and the
        tension began to grow in her belly and jaw.

        That's when she screamed.

        Something thudded against the wall of the shower. She paused for a moment,
        every part of her listening for more. What was it? Who was it? Then she
        heard a rough male voice barely discernable among the shower noise. Cybil
        frantically reached with the extension and turned off the water nearly
        scalding her.

        She sat there wet and cold, every inch of her "listening," to the space
        behind the shower wall. Who was it? Why was he angry? Should she call the
        police? She used the grips to get her towel, dried herself and then used the
        braces to move her to the chair.

        She nearly fell, the chair turning precariously as she entered it at a
        slant. She wheeled herself naked into her bedroom and dragged her robe from
        the bed struggling into it. Then she sat there for a moment catching her
        breath. She would ask the manager in the morning, if he could tell her who
        lived in apartment 235 and see if he couldn't get them to tame down.

        Later, she would get ice cream from the refrigerator, and watch TV until
        falling asleep in her chair. Hours would pass. Her alarm clock would read
        3:00 A.M when her clothes drawer would open and her underwear leap around as
        if unseen hands were searching for something. Then it would stop. The alarm
        clock would read 3:10. Then morning would come again.


        That was the door bell.

        "Hello Mr. Atwater" she said. "Please come in."

        A sixty five year old retiree in a brown jump suit entered her apartment
        looking about as if he was afraid he'd find something he had to fix.

        "How can I help you," he said. There was a pause. Then he got quite animated
        and asked, "How does the new elevator work for you miss?"

        "That works fine. I just want to talk to you about my neighbors."

        "The Jennings you mean? They work nights. I hope they don't disturb you.
        They seem like a nice couple. Pay on time and all."

        "I can hear them through my bath room," Cybil said, growing annoyed somehow.

        Mr. Atwater turned slightly and looked out the apartment window to the park
        across the street. He grew silent, as if searching for something to say.

        "They threw something against my wall last night, it scared me," Cybil said.

        Mr. Atwater's face grew pale. He looked like someone had asked him to plunge
        their toilet, and something was in it.

        "Mr. Atwater," she continued, "I want you to say something to them today. I
        could have scalded myself."

        No response.

        "Mr. Atwater?" She was insistent. He turned to her and said,"I'll take care
        of it this afternoon. Anything else?"

        "Yes, my garbage disposal won't turn on."

        He went meekly over to the sink and opened the bottom cupboard. He knelt
        down and flipped the breaker. Then while running water in the sink, flipped
        the garbage disposal switch. It gurgled slightly and then roared on. He
        quickly shut it off.

        "Anything else?" he asked.

        "No.thank you," she said. "I hope they'll listen to you Mr. Atwater," she
        added. He smiled sourly, then turned and left the apartment. Cybil wheeled
        herself into the kitchen and began to prepare lunch.


        It is 3:00 AM. Outside the cars hiss on rain slicked streets. The boys are
        making drug deals again by the jungle gym, their rain parkas shimmering in
        the street lights. There is an argument, one of them steps back and pulls a
        gun, three "pops" and the other one groans and crumples to the ground.

        Cybil's phone rings.

        She answers it. There's a woman on the line. She's trying to talk but her
        voice sounds muffled and wet, she is quietly sobbing.

        "Hello?" Cybil says.

        She says it again, and a third time, and decides to angrily hang up when a
        voice comes over the line and says with vowels oily with something she can't
        identify, "He's killed me." Then the phone goes dead.

        Outside the EMT's from the ambulance are trying to find the wounded man that
        a crowd has gathered around, everything is all awash in the ambulance's red
        lights mingling with that of several patrol cars. In a while the coroner
        comes..and then detectives.

        Cybil watches this from her living room, the red and yellow luminous strips
        of color whipping around in her apartment, off of her face and her walls. In
        her mind the voice of that woman keeps repeating, "He's killing me." Cybil
        begins to cry softly to herself.

        In a few days detectives will visit her and they will ask if she saw or
        heard anything, and she will wonder what stops her from telling them about
        the phone call. Somewhere a woman has been murdered and all she can do is
        wonder if she should tell the detectives about a phone call that she can't
        identify the origin of, she can't say who it is or tell them where the
        person called from. And in the mean time the detectives are asking if she
        saw who killed the drug dealer in the park across the street. Of course, she
        didn't know.


        Cybil was boiling rice and watching "ER," or at least, listening to it.

        CARTER
        Hello, Ada, can I look at your arm?

        ETHYL
        We slipped getting her out of the car for church.

        CARTER
        Ada?

        CARTER
        Ada?

        The voices start up again in the apartment abutting the wall to the TV.
        Behind her she can hear the couple in apartment 233; the woman's voice is
        sounding like it's in the throes of passion, the bed thumping against the
        wall in a desperate sort of rhythm synchronized with masculine grunts. But
        behind the TV, in 235, voices begin to argue.

        Cybil hears something like "Give it up now bitch," and then things
        unintelligible. "I don't." in a woman's voice and then the rest she can't
        understand. Then something she can't hear that well comes up and suddenly
        "You whore" and then garbled words and crying, then a series of meaty slaps
        and more crying. "I told you bitch," and then that trailed off melting into
        a crescendo of weeping and then several meaty thuds like fist on flesh.

        This was abuse.

        She reached for her cell only to discover that she hadn't charged it. She
        had gone to cell some time ago to avoid solicitation calls. What could she
        do? Maybe if the man knew someone heard and was about to complain he'd stop.
        She wheeled to her apartment door, pulling it open as the rain clattered now
        in her ears. Outside the air was brisk and clean. The apartment complex
        seemed unusually quiet. There were no sounds, except the incessant rain
        falling on slick streets and car tops in the parking area.

        Cybil wheeled past the window of 235 and knocked on the door. No one
        answered. She knocked again louder. But there was nothing. They were in
        there, maybe she was dead and he was hiding. She balled her fist and pounded
        and in frustration tried the door. It opened.

        She asked the darkness if anyone was home. There was no response. Someone
        was in there though. She could hear them moving around. She pushed the door
        open and sat there framed in the outside lights.

        "Who's in there?" she asked.

        Then from the bedroom a woman's voice said, "He's killed me."

        I'm sure you've looked into a dark room before. You've seen as your eyes try
        to adjust to the darkness, things move. You attribute it to adjustments to
        the light, the variations of shadows; something tips you off if you see
        anything that's really there. Something always tells you that.

        "Who are you?" Cybil asks something standing in the dining area. She waits.
        No answer.

        The shadow pauses for a moment, and then briskly walks towards her; it moves
        like smoke through the square of amber light from the streets reflected into
        the apartment and then two dark hands reach out, grasp the arms of her wheel
        chair and pull her inside before she can scream. She's in the apartment now,
        the door closing abruptly behind her. Breathing excitedly in her terror, her
        eyes flick around in the darkness.

        There's no furniture, nothing.

        Cybil sits in her wheel chair, every sense probing the space of that
        apartment. Her hearing, her sight, her sense of smell, all ramped up to
        excruciating levels. She is a riot of nerves. She is bordering on hysteria.
        Her heart is ratcheting in her chest, her lungs are twin furnaces of hot
        air. In the dining area she hears feet moving across carpet, pacing under
        the ceiling light.

        More pacing, more silence, pacing, silence.more silence, then the sound of a
        shotgun shell being chambered, yet from where the noise originates, in the
        dimness under that ceiling light, Cybil can see nothing. It's what she hears
        that frightens her most, and that is the deliberate movement towards her,
        and the harsh breathing of a very large man.

        "Don't," she said.

        But her chair whirled into the center of the living room and she spun facing
        the wall the kitchen was behind. The chair spun again before she could get
        her breath. She screamed. It whipped around on one wheel and then rolled
        into the wall of the dining room. She cried out in pain. It jerked back then
        plunged into the pitch black hallway and into the linen closet, backed up
        and swung right into the bedroom. She crashed into the door of the walk-in
        closet there and froze.

        There was a rush of words fluttering around in her head, words loaded with
        testosterone and rage. They tried to say things but would curl up into a
        whine of fear, then explode in a firework of bestial rage. They yammered and
        chattered at her, drifting around in the air above her head, clucking and
        shrieking like a bunch of insane birds, then out of the sea of verbal
        madness, an angry voice boomed.

        "I told you what would happen; I told you I told you I told you!"

        A fist came from out of the ceiling and smacked her in the eye with a wildly
        swung, meaty "thud." She burst into tears as it welled up and began to
        swell. Something pulled her hair.hard. In the distance, somewhere submerged
        in the hell she was in right now, she thought she heard a dead bolt draw
        back and a door open.

        The light flicked on.

        Everything stopped.

        "What in the hell are you doing in here miss?" Mr. Atwater said his facing
        squeezing out his excitement and annoyance. "Everyone has been calling me
        about the noise. Do you know what time it is?"

        Cybil just sat in her wheelchair staring into the watery eyes of Mr.
        Atwater, her mouth open but no words coming out.

        "I'm afraid you're going to get an eviction notice miss," he said gently
        turning her around and wheeling her down the hall. Mr. Atwater had left the
        juice on in 235 just in case he could get another set of apartment cleaners
        in there. No one would work there more than a few hours. He was sick of
        dealing with the crap going on in that place. He was tired of trying to
        explain to the other renters what was coming from it at all hours of the day
        and night. He was simply disgusted with the whole damn mess and would type
        out his resignation in the morning.

        "You need to leave here miss," he said as he wheeled her to the landing and
        turned towards her apartment. "You need to leave here real soon."

        Beyond them, in the park, two hooded men exchanged something by the jungle
        gym, while two plain clothes policemen watched them from a parking lot by
        the pond.

        A little later an ambulance will arrive to take Cybil to Clark Memorial
        Hospital where she will be observed for a few days and released. Her parents
        and the church will remove her things to storage and she'll move back in
        with Mom and Dad. She'll opt not to use drugs to deal with her night
        terrors, and therapists will struggle with her demons, one by one unable to
        exorcise them.

        Did you know sometimes ghosts follow you home? They do. But for the most
        part Cybil's room was only addressed once in a while by flickering lights
        and sheets pulled down. For the most part she slept, ate ice cream, and
        slept some more.and never left her parents home long after they had died.

        Room 235 was eventually rented again, the new apartment manager "not taking
        any crap off of no spirits." An IRS agent going through a divorce lives
        there now, and sleeps like a baby until the wife comes with more papers to
        sign. Although sometimes, at 3:00 AM he says, he thinks he hears someone
        between his bed and the closet whisper "He's killed me." But he assumes that
        he's just mistaken what he heard, for voices in the apartment below him,
        turns over and continues to dream about the cute little secretary in the
        district manager's office.

        Ghosts can come and go, like dust balls, or the rising and setting of the
        sun. They can move among us easily, undetected. They can be in a
        shadow-mottled place where the sun just barely seeps, or a busy street
        corner where a child was run down by a drunk driver. I have to imagine what
        the IRS agent thought that morning when he was shaving, just out of the
        shower, and he heard that shotgun ratchet a shell into the chamber as he
        reached for his service revolver to turn naked in the steamy bathroom face
        to face with.nothing.
      • albiaicehouse
        Carol, Ahhh, now I see. Yes it did. Yes. albi ... the sap in their cones in order for seed release. Prescribed burns are necessary to clear the forest floor
        Message 3 of 5 , May 5, 2005
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          Carol,

          Ahhh, now I see. Yes it did. Yes.

          albi


          --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, Carol Carpenter
          <carol_emt87@y...> wrote:
          > Albi.
          >
          > Thank you. Yes, I am aware that most conifer trees need fire to melt
          the sap in their cones in order for seed release. Prescribed burns are
          necessary to clear the forest floor for new growth and forest
          regeneration. Around here, farmers generally burn their field in the
          spring, which adds nitrogen to the soil and greens the grass more
          rapidly. My objection here in my poem is in the timing. Why couldn't
          this farmer (120 acres in CRP) burn his field in February BEFORE the
          birds nested and had young ones?
          >
          > My poem dealt with the overwhelming feeling I got when I walked
          outside after the fire dwindled, the baby bird's spirits crying. All
          those pheasants and blackbirds were so confused. And as I walked to
          the back of my yard, I saw lilac petals falling off my bushes like
          lavender tears. Fire gives and takes away, but in this instance, I
          believe it took too much.
          >
          > Carol
          >
          > albiaicehouse <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
          > Carol,
          >
          > Excellent poem.
          >
          > On a non-writing note, I live near an area called the Albany Pine
          > Bush. They have studied the ecology of the area and have realized
          > that prescribed burns are the only way to achieve the unique ecology
          > which has persisted for eons. The pine seeds actually need to be
          > exposed to fire to germinate.
          >
          > So as awful as the death and destruction is for the individual animals
          > and plants, it renews life and brings into a special balance that
          > would be destroyed if they removed fire.
          >
          > Maybe you know all this or in your area the fire is used for other
          > purposes? Or you just wanted to shoe the personal side of the process?
          >
          > albi
          >
          >
          > --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, Carol Carpenter
          > <carol_emt87@y...> wrote:
          > >
          > > Spring Tears
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > Today they burned the field
          > >
          > > west of my home
          > >
          > > that dry tan grass no match
          > >
          > > for the propane torches they wielded
          > >
          > > tall April brome
          > >
          > > crackled like eggs frying
          > >
          > > in a hot, greased cast iron skillet
          > >
          > > frightened pheasants and blackbirds fled,
          > >
          > > abandoning their nests
          > >
          > > stranding their young
          > >
          > > to the fire's blistering tongue
          > >
          > > hawks and vultures surfed the updrafts
          > >
          > > lifting on warmth, gorging on corpses
          > >
          > > while in the smoky wind,
          > >
          > > my lilacs cried.
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > Carol J. Carpenter
          > >
          > > 4/30/05
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > ---------------------------------
          > > Do you Yahoo!?
          > > Yahoo! Small Business - Try our new resources site!
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Learn more about ticket2wite at http://ticket2write.tripod.com
          >
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          >
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        • albiaicehouse
          Excellent concept. Great dialogue. albi ... this one up ... lived in ... we lived ... kitchen every ... very rough ... my web ... rather large ... the story.
          Message 4 of 5 , May 5, 2005
          • 0 Attachment
            Excellent concept. Great dialogue.

            albi

            --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, "Matt Lamoreux" <jlamoreux@c...>
            wrote:
            > ---I am winding up my writing class next week and the teacher isn't
            > accepting any more stuff for work shopping, so I thought I'd pop
            this one up
            > here. There's a new movie out about a haunted apartment and having
            lived in
            > a small one room apartment for ten years with my wife I thought, "Heck I
            > should know how to write about a haunted apartment." This one that
            we lived
            > in would have footfalls across the center of the floor to the
            kitchen every
            > so often. I just chalked it up to "acoustics." The following is a
            very rough
            > first draft of "Apartment 235." There's still work to do on this but I
            > thought I'd get some feedback before I continue.
            >
            > ---I've also added a tentative cover picture for "Patient 444," to
            my web
            > site. Tell me if it's "spooky" enough. "Patient 444" includes a
            rather large
            > wolf that is symbolic of the predatory, and is mentioned a lot in
            the story.
            > I hope to have "Patient 444" available in PDF soon, along with another
            > assemblage of short story collections, much of which has been work
            shopped
            > here.
            >
            > http://www.jmlamoreux.org/index.htm
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Apartment 235
            >
            >
            > What is the sound of someone dialing "911?"
            >
            > That sound "beeped" in the darkness of the apartment bed room just
            now. A
            > voice answered, "9-1-1, what is your emergency?" But the caller
            didn't seem
            > to be able to respond. She was trying to speak through a split lip
            sitting
            > there in the darkness, bleeding into the cheap carpet.
            >
            > "What is your emergency?" the voice asked again.
            >
            > "He's killed me," the woman mumbled through painfully swollen lips and a
            > fractured jaw.
            >
            > "Please repeat that. Are you inured?"
            >
            > She turned her head and spat out blood welling into her mouth.
            >
            > "I'm dead," she said, feeling herself begin to lapse into waves of
            > unconsciousness. She held the phone like it was telling her things she
            > couldn't believe.
            >
            > From the living room the dispatcher heard a shotgun ratchet a shell
            in the
            > chamber.
            >
            > "I know what you're doing in there you bitch!" a male voice shouted from
            > there, his voice echoing in the tiny apartment. The bedroom door whipped
            > open and the woman on the phone croaked out a wetly feeble "no."
            Then the
            > shot came, and the phone went dead.
            >
            >
            > It is three years past that moment now, and Cybil Monroe is unaware
            of the
            > history of apartment 235 as friends from her church help her move
            into 234,
            > no simple task because Cybil is in a wheel chair, bound to it by a car
            > accident three days before her 25th birthday. She is fiercely
            independent
            > though (so she thinks), and soon Dale and Brian from the "First Baptist
            > Church of the Nazarene" are looking for a quick way to exit, tired
            of taking
            > orders from the "Wheel Chair Nazi." Cybil's furnishings are sparse,
            and as
            > the truck pulls away from the carport of her apartment complex Dale and
            > Brian are glad this job was light, and glad it's over.
            >
            > Cybil sits next to the large living room window in her wheel chair
            and looks
            > across the street at Hyde Park. Behind her boxes are stacked, most
            of them
            > filled with stuffed animals. (She needed something she could hold,
            her anger
            > and frustration over her disability kept most everyone else away).
            On the TV
            > stand a large stuffed chimp lay drunkenly. He stared at the cheap
            carpet as
            > if there was something incredibly interesting inside its fibers,
            something
            > his little cloth and cotton brain just couldn't understand.
            >
            > On the wooden balcony railing a cigarette butt drifted a thin trail
            of smoke
            > up and towards the park. Dale couldn't keep his butts under control, she
            > thought. "That pig," she said to herself and wheeled outside to flick it
            > into the parking lot. As she watched the butt spin downwards onto
            the cement
            > she saw two boys talking about something by the large jungle gym.
            Later she
            > would realize that she had observed a drug deal, and even later she
            would
            > realize these were common in this area.and no one cared.
            >
            > But right now Cybil is dialing on her cell phone to let her mother
            know she
            > has been moved in, and is unpacking all right, and letting her know
            all the
            > other things mothers are concerned about that Cybil will obediently
            report
            > on.
            >
            > In 235 next door a spider busily makes a web in the corner of an
            aluminum
            > window frame. Apartment 235 is empty, and has been empty since June,
            when 19
            > year old Elisabeth Slater was murdered with a shotgun by her live-in boy
            > friend, 35 year old Emilio Heverra. There are no flies in the
            spider's web,
            > just a lot of sun light.
            >
            > Something in the empty apartment listens to Cybil's voice through
            the wall.
            >
            > You've lived the first night in a new apartment right? Your crap is
            all over
            > the place, you're exhausted from the move, boxes are everywhere and
            all you
            > want to do is sleep. Cybil had tried to install her shower grips but
            they
            > wouldn't secure. She had to ask her father to come over the next day
            and fix
            > them. Being in a wheel chair was limiting. It seemed like you needed
            > everyone to help you do everything or you had to try to do it
            yourself with
            > restricted results.at first any way. She lifted herself from the
            chair onto
            > the bed dragging her legs onto the mattress, and laid her head on a
            folded
            > coat.
            >
            > Outside the whoosh of cars lulled her. She could hear the people in 233
            > making supper. Their microwave beeped. She heard dishes rattle. The
            man was
            > talking. She couldn't hear what it was about. The woman was laughing, a
            > pretty sort of laugh. Then someone turned on a TV. Cybil began to
            drift into
            > an exhausted sleep. Soon she was deeply submerged in it, her mouth
            slightly
            > open, snores reverberating in the unpacked land of boxes that
            surrounded her
            > on the bed.
            >
            > Hours later, (had her alarm clock been unpacked it would read 3:00
            A.M.) her
            > apartment was dark, the street lights casting amber patterns on the
            freshly
            > painted walls. From the bathroom that shared a wall with the bathroom in
            > 235, a shadow began behaving not like shadows do. It moved to the sink,
            > gelled there for a moment, and the mirrored medicine chest slowly
            opened.
            > Cybil's bottles jittered and jumped around slightly on their own,
            and the
            > Percodan dropped into the sink and remained there. The shadow
            receded. All
            > was quiet after that, until morning when the next day began with a
            gathering
            > of warm, summer light, bringing out the colors of everything, even
            the beige
            > walls of Cybil's new home.
            >
            >
            > Cybil's father tightened the bathtub railings. He tested them with
            his large
            > arms and hands.
            >
            > "This should work now hon," he said.
            >
            > Cybil was putting glasses away, getting what she could in the lower
            > cupboards. The upper cupboards were a "No Man's Land" until she
            could get
            > the extension grip she'd ordered.
            >
            > "Can I get you some lunch?" her father asked.
            >
            > "No Dad thanks," she said, puling a stuffed bear out of a box on the
            kitchen
            > floor and laying it in her lap. The next thing that came out of that
            box was
            > a school year-book. It fell open to a page spattered with cheer leaders
            > posing. She glanced at herself there, during the days when she was
            active
            > and limber.and could walk.and then shut the book abruptly. Her father
            > noticed and put his large hand in the place between her neck and
            shoulder
            > blades.
            >
            > "Remember Mom and I will only be a call away," he said.
            >
            > She glanced up at him and smiled weakly, then reached up and patted his
            > hand. He looked at his watch.
            >
            > "I need to leave for work now, be sure to call your mother today, she
            > worries."
            >
            > "Of course," Cybil said.
            >
            > He turned and walked out the door closing it quietly behind him.
            >
            > We've all been there, at the moment when we "leave the nest." It's
            hard to
            > sever those old ties. We get used to the old bed room, breakfast at the
            > table, the commotion, the multiple conversations, the to and fro of "our
            > family." And then one day, it ends.
            >
            > What's left is silence, your own world in which you pay the bills,
            manage
            > the cleaning, do the laundry, sit alone at a small card table and
            nibble at
            > a thawed frozen dinner while the TV flickers on the wall behind you.
            Cybil
            > was alone in this new paradigm, and was letting it absorb into her
            now, as
            > she began to adjust to it.
            >
            > In the shower, on her bath seat, she let the water run over her
            adjusting it
            > as best she could with her newly arrived extension grip. It was
            awkward at
            > first and she gasped as the cold water hit her, but after a while
            the hot
            > water kicked in and she was immersed in its gentling warmth, letting it
            > touch her like a sheet of liquid fingers coursing down her body,
            brushing
            > her hair into a wet glaze. She let her fingers move down the scar on her
            > left leg that circled her upper thigh and then moved along to her lower
            > spine.
            >
            > The water continued to warm her.the liquid hands touching her in a
            sort of
            > serpentine way. She soaped her hair and scrubbed her scalp, then
            rinsed. She
            > scrubbed herself using the brush at first, and then her hands. The water
            > kept coming, the warmth kept coming, and the sensuality of it
            touched her in
            > closely intimate ways. Alone in the shower where no one could see
            her, she
            > quietly pleasured herself as the water mixed with steam in the hollow
            > chamber of the small bathroom. The liquid fingers kept awakening her
            inner
            > juices, images stalked her mind and created even warmer feelings and the
            > tension began to grow in her belly and jaw.
            >
            > That's when she screamed.
            >
            > Something thudded against the wall of the shower. She paused for a
            moment,
            > every part of her listening for more. What was it? Who was it? Then she
            > heard a rough male voice barely discernable among the shower noise.
            Cybil
            > frantically reached with the extension and turned off the water nearly
            > scalding her.
            >
            > She sat there wet and cold, every inch of her "listening," to the space
            > behind the shower wall. Who was it? Why was he angry? Should she
            call the
            > police? She used the grips to get her towel, dried herself and then
            used the
            > braces to move her to the chair.
            >
            > She nearly fell, the chair turning precariously as she entered it at a
            > slant. She wheeled herself naked into her bedroom and dragged her
            robe from
            > the bed struggling into it. Then she sat there for a moment catching her
            > breath. She would ask the manager in the morning, if he could tell
            her who
            > lived in apartment 235 and see if he couldn't get them to tame down.
            >
            > Later, she would get ice cream from the refrigerator, and watch TV until
            > falling asleep in her chair. Hours would pass. Her alarm clock would
            read
            > 3:00 A.M when her clothes drawer would open and her underwear leap
            around as
            > if unseen hands were searching for something. Then it would stop.
            The alarm
            > clock would read 3:10. Then morning would come again.
            >
            >
            > That was the door bell.
            >
            > "Hello Mr. Atwater" she said. "Please come in."
            >
            > A sixty five year old retiree in a brown jump suit entered her apartment
            > looking about as if he was afraid he'd find something he had to fix.
            >
            > "How can I help you," he said. There was a pause. Then he got quite
            animated
            > and asked, "How does the new elevator work for you miss?"
            >
            > "That works fine. I just want to talk to you about my neighbors."
            >
            > "The Jennings you mean? They work nights. I hope they don't disturb you.
            > They seem like a nice couple. Pay on time and all."
            >
            > "I can hear them through my bath room," Cybil said, growing annoyed
            somehow.
            >
            > Mr. Atwater turned slightly and looked out the apartment window to
            the park
            > across the street. He grew silent, as if searching for something to say.
            >
            > "They threw something against my wall last night, it scared me,"
            Cybil said.
            >
            > Mr. Atwater's face grew pale. He looked like someone had asked him
            to plunge
            > their toilet, and something was in it.
            >
            > "Mr. Atwater," she continued, "I want you to say something to them
            today. I
            > could have scalded myself."
            >
            > No response.
            >
            > "Mr. Atwater?" She was insistent. He turned to her and said,"I'll
            take care
            > of it this afternoon. Anything else?"
            >
            > "Yes, my garbage disposal won't turn on."
            >
            > He went meekly over to the sink and opened the bottom cupboard. He knelt
            > down and flipped the breaker. Then while running water in the sink,
            flipped
            > the garbage disposal switch. It gurgled slightly and then roared on. He
            > quickly shut it off.
            >
            > "Anything else?" he asked.
            >
            > "No.thank you," she said. "I hope they'll listen to you Mr.
            Atwater," she
            > added. He smiled sourly, then turned and left the apartment. Cybil
            wheeled
            > herself into the kitchen and began to prepare lunch.
            >
            >
            > It is 3:00 AM. Outside the cars hiss on rain slicked streets. The
            boys are
            > making drug deals again by the jungle gym, their rain parkas
            shimmering in
            > the street lights. There is an argument, one of them steps back and
            pulls a
            > gun, three "pops" and the other one groans and crumples to the ground.
            >
            > Cybil's phone rings.
            >
            > She answers it. There's a woman on the line. She's trying to talk
            but her
            > voice sounds muffled and wet, she is quietly sobbing.
            >
            > "Hello?" Cybil says.
            >
            > She says it again, and a third time, and decides to angrily hang up
            when a
            > voice comes over the line and says with vowels oily with something
            she can't
            > identify, "He's killed me." Then the phone goes dead.
            >
            > Outside the EMT's from the ambulance are trying to find the wounded
            man that
            > a crowd has gathered around, everything is all awash in the
            ambulance's red
            > lights mingling with that of several patrol cars. In a while the coroner
            > comes..and then detectives.
            >
            > Cybil watches this from her living room, the red and yellow luminous
            strips
            > of color whipping around in her apartment, off of her face and her
            walls. In
            > her mind the voice of that woman keeps repeating, "He's killing me."
            Cybil
            > begins to cry softly to herself.
            >
            > In a few days detectives will visit her and they will ask if she saw or
            > heard anything, and she will wonder what stops her from telling them
            about
            > the phone call. Somewhere a woman has been murdered and all she can
            do is
            > wonder if she should tell the detectives about a phone call that she
            can't
            > identify the origin of, she can't say who it is or tell them where the
            > person called from. And in the mean time the detectives are asking
            if she
            > saw who killed the drug dealer in the park across the street. Of
            course, she
            > didn't know.
            >
            >
            > Cybil was boiling rice and watching "ER," or at least, listening to it.
            >
            > CARTER
            > Hello, Ada, can I look at your arm?
            >
            > ETHYL
            > We slipped getting her out of the car for church.
            >
            > CARTER
            > Ada?
            >
            > CARTER
            > Ada?
            >
            > The voices start up again in the apartment abutting the wall to the TV.
            > Behind her she can hear the couple in apartment 233; the woman's
            voice is
            > sounding like it's in the throes of passion, the bed thumping
            against the
            > wall in a desperate sort of rhythm synchronized with masculine
            grunts. But
            > behind the TV, in 235, voices begin to argue.
            >
            > Cybil hears something like "Give it up now bitch," and then things
            > unintelligible. "I don't." in a woman's voice and then the rest she
            can't
            > understand. Then something she can't hear that well comes up and
            suddenly
            > "You whore" and then garbled words and crying, then a series of
            meaty slaps
            > and more crying. "I told you bitch," and then that trailed off
            melting into
            > a crescendo of weeping and then several meaty thuds like fist on flesh.
            >
            > This was abuse.
            >
            > She reached for her cell only to discover that she hadn't charged
            it. She
            > had gone to cell some time ago to avoid solicitation calls. What
            could she
            > do? Maybe if the man knew someone heard and was about to complain
            he'd stop.
            > She wheeled to her apartment door, pulling it open as the rain
            clattered now
            > in her ears. Outside the air was brisk and clean. The apartment complex
            > seemed unusually quiet. There were no sounds, except the incessant rain
            > falling on slick streets and car tops in the parking area.
            >
            > Cybil wheeled past the window of 235 and knocked on the door. No one
            > answered. She knocked again louder. But there was nothing. They were in
            > there, maybe she was dead and he was hiding. She balled her fist and
            pounded
            > and in frustration tried the door. It opened.
            >
            > She asked the darkness if anyone was home. There was no response.
            Someone
            > was in there though. She could hear them moving around. She pushed
            the door
            > open and sat there framed in the outside lights.
            >
            > "Who's in there?" she asked.
            >
            > Then from the bedroom a woman's voice said, "He's killed me."
            >
            > I'm sure you've looked into a dark room before. You've seen as your
            eyes try
            > to adjust to the darkness, things move. You attribute it to
            adjustments to
            > the light, the variations of shadows; something tips you off if you see
            > anything that's really there. Something always tells you that.
            >
            > "Who are you?" Cybil asks something standing in the dining area. She
            waits.
            > No answer.
            >
            > The shadow pauses for a moment, and then briskly walks towards her;
            it moves
            > like smoke through the square of amber light from the streets
            reflected into
            > the apartment and then two dark hands reach out, grasp the arms of
            her wheel
            > chair and pull her inside before she can scream. She's in the
            apartment now,
            > the door closing abruptly behind her. Breathing excitedly in her
            terror, her
            > eyes flick around in the darkness.
            >
            > There's no furniture, nothing.
            >
            > Cybil sits in her wheel chair, every sense probing the space of that
            > apartment. Her hearing, her sight, her sense of smell, all ramped up to
            > excruciating levels. She is a riot of nerves. She is bordering on
            hysteria.
            > Her heart is ratcheting in her chest, her lungs are twin furnaces of hot
            > air. In the dining area she hears feet moving across carpet, pacing
            under
            > the ceiling light.
            >
            > More pacing, more silence, pacing, silence.more silence, then the
            sound of a
            > shotgun shell being chambered, yet from where the noise originates,
            in the
            > dimness under that ceiling light, Cybil can see nothing. It's what
            she hears
            > that frightens her most, and that is the deliberate movement towards
            her,
            > and the harsh breathing of a very large man.
            >
            > "Don't," she said.
            >
            > But her chair whirled into the center of the living room and she
            spun facing
            > the wall the kitchen was behind. The chair spun again before she
            could get
            > her breath. She screamed. It whipped around on one wheel and then rolled
            > into the wall of the dining room. She cried out in pain. It jerked
            back then
            > plunged into the pitch black hallway and into the linen closet,
            backed up
            > and swung right into the bedroom. She crashed into the door of the
            walk-in
            > closet there and froze.
            >
            > There was a rush of words fluttering around in her head, words
            loaded with
            > testosterone and rage. They tried to say things but would curl up into a
            > whine of fear, then explode in a firework of bestial rage. They
            yammered and
            > chattered at her, drifting around in the air above her head,
            clucking and
            > shrieking like a bunch of insane birds, then out of the sea of verbal
            > madness, an angry voice boomed.
            >
            > "I told you what would happen; I told you I told you I told you!"
            >
            > A fist came from out of the ceiling and smacked her in the eye with
            a wildly
            > swung, meaty "thud." She burst into tears as it welled up and began to
            > swell. Something pulled her hair.hard. In the distance, somewhere
            submerged
            > in the hell she was in right now, she thought she heard a dead bolt draw
            > back and a door open.
            >
            > The light flicked on.
            >
            > Everything stopped.
            >
            > "What in the hell are you doing in here miss?" Mr. Atwater said his
            facing
            > squeezing out his excitement and annoyance. "Everyone has been
            calling me
            > about the noise. Do you know what time it is?"
            >
            > Cybil just sat in her wheelchair staring into the watery eyes of Mr.
            > Atwater, her mouth open but no words coming out.
            >
            > "I'm afraid you're going to get an eviction notice miss," he said gently
            > turning her around and wheeling her down the hall. Mr. Atwater had
            left the
            > juice on in 235 just in case he could get another set of apartment
            cleaners
            > in there. No one would work there more than a few hours. He was sick of
            > dealing with the crap going on in that place. He was tired of trying to
            > explain to the other renters what was coming from it at all hours of
            the day
            > and night. He was simply disgusted with the whole damn mess and
            would type
            > out his resignation in the morning.
            >
            > "You need to leave here miss," he said as he wheeled her to the
            landing and
            > turned towards her apartment. "You need to leave here real soon."
            >
            > Beyond them, in the park, two hooded men exchanged something by the
            jungle
            > gym, while two plain clothes policemen watched them from a parking
            lot by
            > the pond.
            >
            > A little later an ambulance will arrive to take Cybil to Clark Memorial
            > Hospital where she will be observed for a few days and released. Her
            parents
            > and the church will remove her things to storage and she'll move back in
            > with Mom and Dad. She'll opt not to use drugs to deal with her night
            > terrors, and therapists will struggle with her demons, one by one
            unable to
            > exorcise them.
            >
            > Did you know sometimes ghosts follow you home? They do. But for the most
            > part Cybil's room was only addressed once in a while by flickering
            lights
            > and sheets pulled down. For the most part she slept, ate ice cream, and
            > slept some more.and never left her parents home long after they had
            died.
            >
            > Room 235 was eventually rented again, the new apartment manager "not
            taking
            > any crap off of no spirits." An IRS agent going through a divorce lives
            > there now, and sleeps like a baby until the wife comes with more
            papers to
            > sign. Although sometimes, at 3:00 AM he says, he thinks he hears someone
            > between his bed and the closet whisper "He's killed me." But he
            assumes that
            > he's just mistaken what he heard, for voices in the apartment below him,
            > turns over and continues to dream about the cute little secretary in the
            > district manager's office.
            >
            > Ghosts can come and go, like dust balls, or the rising and setting
            of the
            > sun. They can move among us easily, undetected. They can be in a
            > shadow-mottled place where the sun just barely seeps, or a busy street
            > corner where a child was run down by a drunk driver. I have to
            imagine what
            > the IRS agent thought that morning when he was shaving, just out of the
            > shower, and he heard that shotgun ratchet a shell into the chamber as he
            > reached for his service revolver to turn naked in the steamy
            bathroom face
            > to face with.nothing.
          • Carol Carpenter
            Matt, As usual, you give us a very good story, very spooky with interesting characters and just the right touches of action and sensuality. It’s fun to watch
            Message 5 of 5 , May 6, 2005
            • 0 Attachment

              Matt,

              As usual, you give us a very good story, very spooky with interesting characters and just the right touches of action and sensuality. It�s fun to watch your writing sprout, grow, and bear fruit.

              Also, for the most part, the hesitant language diminishes (yay!! three cheers!!). Good for you.

              I have a "what if" question for you to ponder. What if Cybil couldn�t move back home or Mr. Atwater, keys jingling from his belt, had to keep his job. How would that affect them? Maybe one of them should stay. Just one of those things that drags across my twisted mind.....

              Only one criticism at this point. This sentence: Hours later, (had her alarm clock been unpacked it would read 3:00 A.M.) her apartment was dark, the street lights casting amber patterns on the freshly
              painted walls.

              Nah, just say: "At 3 AM, in Cybil�s (or her) dark apartment, the streetlights cast amber patterns on the freshly painted walls." I would leave out the alarm clock part. It�s very distracting to the rest of your statement.

              One comment on your cover for "Patient 444", which scares the bejabbers out of me (but I actually like to be scared), I would have you soften the image, blend the images right along the cover�s edge, almost like a vignette or something like that. But of course, that�s only my opinion. There are so many layers in there, my eyes never stop and settle in one place very long. Is that intentional because of the different details, different people in the story?

              I really enjoy your work Matt, as always, and look forward to the edited version. Please let me know if I can help with anything. I have "some" spare time now that my finals are over.

              My English professor/advisor wants me to take the history of the English language next semester. The class is only offered once every two years and is required for my major. Luckily, he�s willing to work with me outside of the classroom. My physical science class is held at the same exact time. My professor says I should enjoy the reading. Personally, I think he just likes to read my essays, and that�s okay also. I hope I can come up with the funds for an extra class.

              Carol


              Matt Lamoreux <jlamoreux@...> wrote:

              ---I am winding up my writing class next week and the teacher isn't
              accepting any more stuff for work shopping, so I thought I'd pop this one up
              here. There's a new movie out about a haunted apartment and having lived in
              a small one room apartment for ten years with my wife I thought, "Heck I
              should know how to write about a haunted apartment." This one that we lived
              in would have footfalls across the center of the floor to the kitchen every
              so often. I just chalked it up to "acoustics." The following is a very rough
              first draft of "Apartment 235." There's still work to do on this but I
              thought I'd get some feedback before I continue.

              ---I've also added a tentative cover picture for "Patient 444," to my web
              site. Tell me if it's "spooky" enough. "Patient 444" includes a rather large
              wolf that is symbolic of the predatory, and is mentioned a lot in the story.
              I hope to have "Patient 444" available in PDF soon, along with another
              assemblage of short story collections, much of which has been work shopped
              here. 

              http://www.jmlamoreux.org/index.htm 




              Apartment 235


              What is the sound of someone dialing "911?"

              That sound "beeped" in the darkness of the apartment bed room just now. A
              voice answered, "9-1-1, what is your emergency?" But the caller didn't seem
              to be able to respond. She was trying to speak through a split lip sitting
              there in the darkness, bleeding into the cheap carpet.

              "What is your emergency?" the voice asked again.

              "He's killed me," the woman mumbled through painfully swollen lips and a
              fractured jaw.

              "Please repeat that. Are you inured?"

              She turned her head and spat out blood welling into her mouth.

              "I'm dead," she said, feeling herself begin to lapse into waves of
              unconsciousness. She held the phone like it was telling her things she
              couldn't believe.

              From the living room the dispatcher heard a shotgun ratchet a shell in the
              chamber.

              "I know what you're doing in there you bitch!" a male voice shouted from
              there, his voice echoing in the tiny apartment. The bedroom door whipped
              open and the woman on the phone croaked out a wetly feeble "no." Then the
              shot came, and the phone went dead.


              It is three years past that moment now, and Cybil Monroe is unaware of the
              history of apartment 235 as friends from her church help her move into 234,
              no simple task because Cybil is in a wheel chair, bound to it by a car
              accident three days before her 25th birthday. She is fiercely independent
              though (so she thinks), and soon Dale and Brian from the "First Baptist
              Church of the Nazarene" are looking for a quick way to exit, tired of taking
              orders from the "Wheel Chair Nazi." Cybil's furnishings are sparse, and as
              the truck pulls away from the carport of her apartment complex Dale and
              Brian are glad this job was light, and glad it's over.

              Cybil sits next to the large living room window in her wheel chair and looks
              across the street at Hyde Park. Behind her boxes are stacked, most of them
              filled with stuffed animals. (She needed something she could hold, her anger
              and frustration over her disability kept most everyone else away). On the TV
              stand a large stuffed chimp lay drunkenly. He stared at the cheap carpet as
              if there was something incredibly interesting inside its fibers, something
              his little cloth and cotton brain just couldn't understand.

              On the wooden balcony railing a cigarette butt drifted a thin trail of smoke
              up and towards the park. Dale couldn't keep his butts under control, she
              thought. "That pig," she said to herself and wheeled outside to flick it
              into the parking lot. As she watched the butt spin downwards onto the cement
              she saw two boys talking about something by the large jungle gym. Later she
              would realize that she had observed a drug deal, and even later she would
              realize these were common in this area.and no one cared.

              But right now Cybil is dialing on her cell phone to let her mother know she
              has been moved in, and is unpacking all right, and letting her know all the
              other things mothers are concerned about that Cybil will obediently report
              on.

              In 235 next door a spider busily makes a web in the corner of an aluminum
              window frame. Apartment 235 is empty, and has been empty since June, when 19
              year old Elisabeth Slater was murdered with a shotgun by her live-in boy
              friend, 35 year old Emilio Heverra. There are no flies in the spider's web,
              just a lot of sun light.

              Something in the empty apartment listens to Cybil's voice through the wall.

              You've lived the first night in a new apartment right? Your crap is all over
              the place, you're exhausted from the move, boxes are everywhere and all you
              want to do is sleep. Cybil had tried to install her shower grips but they
              wouldn't secure. She had to ask her father to come over the next day and fix
              them. Being in a wheel chair was limiting. It seemed like you needed
              everyone to help you do everything or you had to try to do it yourself with
              restricted results.at first any way. She lifted herself from the chair onto
              the bed dragging her legs onto the mattress, and laid her head on a folded
              coat.

              Outside the whoosh of cars lulled her. She could hear the people in 233
              making supper. Their microwave beeped. She heard dishes rattle. The man was
              talking. She couldn't hear what it was about. The woman was laughing, a
              pretty sort of laugh. Then someone turned on a TV. Cybil began to drift into
              an exhausted sleep. Soon she was deeply submerged in it, her mouth slightly
              open, snores reverberating in the unpacked land of boxes that surrounded her
              on the bed.

              Hours later, (had her alarm clock been unpacked it would read 3:00 A.M.) her
              apartment was dark, the street lights casting amber patterns on the freshly
              painted walls. From the bathroom that shared a wall with the bathroom in
              235, a shadow began behaving not like shadows do. It moved to the sink,
              gelled there for a moment, and the mirrored medicine chest slowly opened.
              Cybil's bottles jittered and jumped around slightly on their own, and the
              Percodan dropped into the sink and remained there. The shadow receded. All
              was quiet after that, until morning when the next day began with a gathering
              of warm, summer light, bringing out the colors of everything, even the beige
              walls of Cybil's new home.


              Cybil's father tightened the bathtub railings. He tested them with his large
              arms and hands.

              "This should work now hon," he said.

              Cybil was putting glasses away, getting what she could in the lower
              cupboards. The upper cupboards were a "No Man's Land" until she could get
              the extension grip she'd ordered.

              "Can I get you some lunch?" her father asked.

              "No Dad thanks," she said, puling a stuffed bear out of a box on the kitchen
              floor and laying it in her lap. The next thing that came out of that box was
              a school year-book. It fell open to a page spattered with cheer leaders
              posing. She glanced at herself there, during the days when she was active
              and limber.and could walk.and then shut the book abruptly. Her father
              noticed and put his large hand in the place between her neck and shoulder
              blades.

              "Remember Mom and I will only be a call away," he said.

              She glanced up at him and smiled weakly, then reached up and patted his
              hand. He looked at his watch.

              "I need to leave for work now, be sure to call your mother today, she
              worries."

              "Of course," Cybil said.

              He turned and walked out the door closing it quietly behind him.

              We've all been there, at the moment when we "leave the nest." It's hard to
              sever those old ties. We get used to the old bed room, breakfast at the
              table, the commotion, the multiple conversations, the to and fro of "our
              family." And then one day, it ends.

              What's left is silence, your own world in which you pay the bills, manage
              the cleaning, do the laundry, sit alone at a small card table and nibble at
              a thawed frozen dinner while the TV flickers on the wall behind you. Cybil
              was alone in this new paradigm, and was letting it absorb into her now, as
              she began to adjust to it.

              In the shower, on her bath seat, she let the water run over her adjusting it
              as best she could with her newly arrived extension grip. It was awkward at
              first and she gasped as the cold water hit her, but after a while the hot
              water kicked in and she was immersed in its gentling warmth, letting it
              touch her like a sheet of liquid fingers coursing down her body, brushing
              her hair into a wet glaze. She let her fingers move down the scar on her
              left leg that circled her upper thigh and then moved along to her lower
              spine.

              The water continued to warm her.the liquid hands touching her in a sort of
              serpentine way. She soaped her hair and scrubbed her scalp, then rinsed. She
              scrubbed herself using the brush at first, and then her hands. The water
              kept coming, the warmth kept coming, and the sensuality of it touched her in
              closely intimate ways. Alone in the shower where no one could see her, she
              quietly pleasured herself as the water mixed with steam in the hollow
              chamber of the small bathroom. The liquid fingers kept awakening her inner
              juices, images stalked her mind and created even warmer feelings and the
              tension began to grow in her belly and jaw.

              That's when she screamed.

              Something thudded against the wall of the shower. She paused for a moment,
              every part of her listening for more. What was it? Who was it? Then she
              heard a rough male voice barely discernable among the shower noise. Cybil
              frantically reached with the extension and turned off the water nearly
              scalding her.

              She sat there wet and cold, every inch of her "listening," to the space
              behind the shower wall. Who was it? Why was he angry? Should she call the
              police? She used the grips to get her towel, dried herself and then used the
              braces to move her to the chair.

              She nearly fell, the chair turning precariously as she entered it at a
              slant. She wheeled herself naked into her bedroom and dragged her robe from
              the bed struggling into it. Then she sat there for a moment catching her
              breath. She would ask the manager in the morning, if he could tell her who
              lived in apartment 235 and see if he couldn't get them to tame down.

              Later, she would get ice cream from the refrigerator, and watch TV until
              falling asleep in her chair. Hours would pass. Her alarm clock would read
              3:00 A.M when her clothes drawer would open and her underwear leap around as
              if unseen hands were searching for something. Then it would stop. The alarm
              clock would read 3:10. Then morning would come again. 


              That was the door bell.

              "Hello Mr. Atwater" she said. "Please come in."

              A sixty five year old retiree in a brown jump suit entered her apartment
              looking about as if he was afraid he'd find something he had to fix.

              "How can I help you," he said. There was a pause. Then he got quite animated
              and asked, "How does the new elevator work for you miss?"

              "That works fine. I just want to talk to you about my neighbors."

              "The Jennings you mean? They work nights. I hope they don't disturb you.
              They seem like a nice couple. Pay on time and all."

              "I can hear them through my bath room," Cybil said, growing annoyed somehow.

              Mr. Atwater turned slightly and looked out the apartment window to the park
              across the street. He grew silent, as if searching for something to say.

              "They threw something against my wall last night, it scared me," Cybil said.

              Mr. Atwater's face grew pale. He looked like someone had asked him to plunge
              their toilet, and something was in it.

              "Mr. Atwater," she continued, "I want you to say something to them today. I
              could have scalded myself."

              No response.

              "Mr. Atwater?" She was insistent. He turned to her and said,"I'll take care
              of it this afternoon. Anything else?"
                   
              "Yes, my garbage disposal won't turn on."

              He went meekly over to the sink and opened the bottom cupboard. He knelt
              down and flipped the breaker. Then while running water in the sink, flipped
              the garbage disposal switch. It gurgled slightly and then roared on. He
              quickly shut it off.

              "Anything else?" he asked.

              "No.thank you," she said. "I hope they'll listen to you Mr. Atwater," she
              added. He smiled sourly, then turned and left the apartment. Cybil wheeled
              herself into the kitchen and began to prepare lunch.


              It is 3:00 AM. Outside the cars hiss on rain slicked streets. The boys are
              making drug deals again by the jungle gym, their rain parkas shimmering in
              the street lights. There is an argument, one of them steps back and pulls a
              gun, three "pops" and the other one groans and crumples to the ground.

              Cybil's phone rings.

              She answers it. There's a woman on the line. She's trying to talk but her
              voice sounds muffled and wet, she is quietly sobbing.

              "Hello?" Cybil says.

              She says it again, and a third time, and decides to angrily hang up when a
              voice comes over the line and says with vowels oily with something she can't
              identify, "He's killed me." Then the phone goes dead.

              Outside the EMT's from the ambulance are trying to find the wounded man that
              a crowd has gathered around, everything is  all awash in the ambulance's red
              lights mingling with that of several patrol cars. In a while the coroner
              comes..and then detectives.

              Cybil watches this from her living room, the red and yellow luminous strips
              of color whipping around in her apartment, off of her face and her walls. In
              her mind the voice of that woman keeps repeating, "He's killing me." Cybil
              begins to cry softly to herself.

              In a few days detectives will visit her and they will ask if she saw or
              heard anything, and she will wonder what stops her from telling them about
              the phone call. Somewhere a woman has been murdered and all she can do is
              wonder if she should tell the detectives about a phone call that she can't
              identify the origin of, she can't say who it is or tell them where the
              person called from. And in the mean time the detectives are asking if she
              saw who killed the drug dealer in the park across the street. Of course, she
              didn't know.


              Cybil was boiling rice and watching "ER," or at least, listening to it.

              CARTER
              Hello, Ada, can I look at your arm?

              ETHYL
              We slipped getting her out of the car for church.

              CARTER
              Ada?

              CARTER
              Ada?

              The voices start up again in the apartment abutting the wall to the TV.
              Behind her she can hear the couple in apartment 233; the woman's voice is
              sounding like it's in the throes of passion, the bed thumping against the
              wall in a desperate sort of rhythm synchronized with masculine grunts. But
              behind the TV, in 235, voices begin to argue.

              Cybil hears something like "Give it up now bitch," and then things
              unintelligible. "I don't." in a woman's voice and then the rest she can't
              understand. Then something she can't hear that well comes up and suddenly
              "You whore" and then garbled words and crying, then a series of meaty slaps
              and more crying. "I told you bitch," and then that trailed off melting into
              a crescendo of weeping and then several meaty thuds like fist on flesh.

              This was abuse.

              She reached for her cell only to discover that she hadn't charged it. She
              had gone to cell some time ago to avoid solicitation calls. What could she
              do? Maybe if the man knew someone heard and was about to complain he'd stop.
              She wheeled to her apartment door, pulling it open as the rain clattered now
              in her ears. Outside the air was brisk and clean. The apartment complex
              seemed unusually quiet. There were no sounds, except the incessant rain
              falling on slick streets and car tops in the parking area.

              Cybil wheeled past the window of 235 and knocked on the door. No one
              answered. She knocked again louder. But there was nothing. They were in
              there, maybe she was dead and he was hiding. She balled her fist and pounded
              and in frustration tried the door. It opened.

              She asked the darkness if anyone was home. There was no response. Someone
              was in there though. She could hear them moving around. She pushed the door
              open and sat there framed in the outside lights.

              "Who's in there?" she asked.

              Then from the bedroom a woman's voice said, "He's killed me."

              I'm sure you've looked into a dark room before. You've seen as your eyes try
              to adjust to the darkness, things move. You attribute it to adjustments to
              the light, the variations of shadows; something tips you off if you see
              anything that's really there. Something always tells you that.

              "Who are you?" Cybil asks something standing in the dining area. She waits.
              No answer.

              The shadow pauses for a moment, and then briskly walks towards her; it moves
              like smoke through the square of amber light from the streets reflected into
              the apartment and then two dark hands reach out, grasp the arms of her wheel
              chair and pull her inside before she can scream. She's in the apartment now,
              the door closing abruptly behind her. Breathing excitedly in her terror, her
              eyes flick around in the darkness.

              There's no furniture, nothing.

              Cybil sits in her wheel chair, every sense probing the space of that
              apartment. Her hearing, her sight, her sense of smell, all ramped up to
              excruciating levels. She is a riot of nerves. She is bordering on hysteria.
              Her heart is ratcheting in her chest, her lungs are twin furnaces of hot
              air. In the dining area she hears feet moving across carpet, pacing under
              the ceiling light.

              More pacing, more silence, pacing, silence.more silence, then the sound of a
              shotgun shell being chambered, yet from where the noise originates, in the
              dimness under that ceiling light, Cybil can see nothing. It's what she hears
              that frightens her most, and that is the deliberate movement towards her,
              and the harsh breathing of a very large man.

              "Don't," she said.

              But her chair whirled into the center of the living room and she spun facing
              the wall the kitchen was behind. The chair spun again before she could get
              her breath. She screamed. It whipped around on one wheel and then rolled
              into the wall of the dining room. She cried out in pain. It jerked back then
              plunged into the pitch black hallway and into the linen closet, backed up
              and swung right into the bedroom. She crashed into the door of the walk-in
              closet there and froze.

              There was a rush of words fluttering around in her head, words loaded with
              testosterone and rage. They tried to say things but would curl up into a
              whine of fear, then explode in a firework of bestial rage. They yammered and
              chattered at her, drifting around in the air above her head, clucking and
              shrieking like a bunch of insane birds, then out of the sea of verbal
              madness, an angry voice boomed.

              "I told you what would happen; I told you I told you I told you!"

              A fist came from out of the ceiling and smacked her in the eye with a wildly
              swung, meaty "thud." She burst into tears as it welled up and began to
              swell. Something pulled her hair.hard. In the distance, somewhere submerged
              in the hell she was in right now, she thought she heard a dead bolt draw
              back and a door open.

              The light flicked on.

              Everything stopped.

              "What in the hell are you doing in here miss?" Mr. Atwater said his facing
              squeezing out his excitement and annoyance. "Everyone has been calling me
              about the noise. Do you know what time it is?"

              Cybil just sat in her wheelchair staring into the watery eyes of Mr.
              Atwater, her mouth open but no words coming out.

              "I'm afraid you're going to get an eviction notice miss," he said gently
              turning her around and wheeling her down the hall. Mr. Atwater had left the
              juice on in 235 just in case he could get another set of apartment cleaners
              in there. No one would work there more than a few hours. He was sick of
              dealing with the crap going on in that place. He was tired of trying to
              explain to the other renters what was coming from it at all hours of the day
              and night. He was simply disgusted with the whole damn mess and would type
              out his resignation in the morning.

              "You need to leave here miss," he said as he wheeled her to the landing and
              turned towards her apartment. "You need to leave here real soon."

              Beyond them, in the park, two hooded men exchanged something by the jungle
              gym, while two plain clothes policemen watched them from a parking lot by
              the pond.

              A little later an ambulance will arrive to take Cybil to Clark Memorial
              Hospital where she will be observed for a few days and released. Her parents
              and the church will remove her things to storage and she'll move back in
              with Mom and Dad. She'll opt not to use drugs to deal with her night
              terrors, and therapists will struggle with her demons, one by one unable to
              exorcise them.

              Did you know sometimes ghosts follow you home? They do. But for the most
              part Cybil's room was only addressed once in a while by flickering lights
              and sheets pulled down. For the most part she slept, ate ice cream, and
              slept some more.and never left her parents home long after they had died.  
                   
              Room 235 was eventually rented again, the new apartment manager "not taking
              any crap off of no spirits." An IRS agent going through a divorce lives
              there now, and sleeps like a baby until the wife comes with more papers to
              sign. Although sometimes, at 3:00 AM he says, he thinks he hears someone
              between his bed and the closet whisper "He's killed me." But he assumes that
              he's just mistaken what he heard, for voices in the apartment below him,
              turns over and continues to dream about the cute little secretary in the
              district manager's office. 

              Ghosts can come and go, like dust balls, or the rising and setting of the
              sun. They can move among us easily, undetected. They can be in a
              shadow-mottled place where the sun just barely seeps, or a busy street
              corner where a child was run down by a drunk driver. I have to imagine what
              the IRS agent thought that morning when he was shaving, just out of the
              shower, and he heard that shotgun ratchet a shell into the chamber as he
              reached for his service revolver to turn naked in the steamy bathroom face
              to face with.nothing.
                            





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