Beginnings – #writephoto

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She awoke to see the beautiful sky. She hardly noticed it. She padded into her kitchen to get a cup of coffee. She didn’t have much time. She wanted to visit the crypt as soon as possible. She had work to do. She had taken care of her second victim last night.

She didn’t like men who hurt women. Or women who hurt women. She had decided, long ago, that she was going to rid the world of them. Her method was so simple it was silly. She got close to them. She was charismatic with a sparkling personality. Then, one night at a private dinner, she spiked their food with a particularly dangerous concoction that stopped their hearts. She managed to load them in her car and drove them to her crypt.

Her crypt was the basement of an old building in town that was easy to access. No one was ever around the old building. It had fallen into disrepair as had so many of the buildings in the small town. The floor of the basement was soft dirt. She dug their graves there.

This second victim was her best friend’s boyfriend who was mean to her. Her first victim, two years ago, had been her own ex-husband. They had never solved his disappearance. She smiled at that thought. She already knew who the third victim would be. It would take some time.

She kept all of her tools hidden in that basement. After she got there, she dug a shallow grave for the man. It wasn’t hard. She kicked his body into it thinking that she hoped he would rot in hell. It was what he deserved. She covered up her crime as well as possible and left. You could hardly tell anything had ever been disturbed. She was meticulous.

On to the third man, she thought, as she left the crypt. It would be a while before she would be back, but she knew this was only the beginning of her career. They say there are no female serial killers. That’s because women are so much better at it.

The Companions

You came to me at four months old, all full of puppy shenanigans. Sweet, kind, and loyal from the start, I couldn’t believe my luck. You were beautiful with the one blue eye and one brown eye. It’s been 20 years ago and I remember what you looked like as a puppy precisely.

You and I were together through some hard times. My mother lived with us and when you were two years old, she passed away. You comforted me more effectively than anyone else could. We lived alone together,  you and I, for seven years, until you were nine years old. I wouldn’t have survived the loneliness without you.

We saved each other’s lives, you and I. You got a chew bone caught in your throat one night and you were choking to death. Somehow, I pried it out before you died. Innumerable times, you woke me up when my blood sugar was low and saved my life. I literally owed you my life.

When you were ten years old, I remarried. I still had to see you the last thing before I closed my eyes at night and the first thing when I opened them in the morning. You were starting to get old. You had fought chronic pancreatitis all your life.

When you were fourteen, you had a tooth abscess. There was no choice but to have your veterinarian pull it. When you came home, you collapsed for two days and the vet came to the house. I begged you to wake up. Finally, you did. You were never the same again. The vet diagnosed you with canine dementia brought on my the anesthesia.

Within six months, I couldn’t bear to watch you go to the closet door to go outside instead of the outside door. You didn’t feel well. When you looked at me, you were begging me with your eyes. I sent you over the Rainbow Bridge and it barely took any medication at all. It broke my heart.

For five years, I couldn’t bear to look at a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. They were all you. Finally, I started to miss having a Cardi in my home and a kind friend was able to find a puppy for me. He is of your bloodline, a great-nephew several times removed. Sometimes, he reminds me of you, but he’s his own little man. I love having a Cardi again.

I don’t expect him to replace you. I can already see signs of him becoming a great companion dog like you were, even though he’s only three and one-half months old. He’s so smart and I see the loyalty building. I wonder what you’d think of him?

He’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night, just like you were. I love you, Eliza, and now I love Tucker too.

https://rosemarycarlson.com

Safe House

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They couldn’t keep the homeless out of the old house. They weren’t really the homeless, but the hobos. Those who were homeless on purpose. They seemed to like to congregate in the old house for a night, a few days, a year. No one seemed to know why the hobos were determined to squat in the old house, but they knew they weren’t inclined to leave.

Her husband was selling the house and property. She wasn’t in favor of the sale. It was all she had of her family’s legacy to her. They argued about it, but he wanted to sell it to a buyer who would renovate it. She wanted to renovate it herself, but that seemed out of the question. He wasn’t having much luck.

The hobos wondered who left the food every morning. It was there when they awakened. A veritable feast. Why would they leave the old house when they had manna from heaven? A man kept bringing people to see the house and they had to scatter. They left the house in poor condition, hoping no one would buy it.

That was why she did it and it was working.

Photo Credit C.E. Ayr

 

Conflagration – #writephoto

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They had been looking forward to their camping trip to the national park. The two of them hadn’t taken a vacation together in a long time. This time together was long-awaited. They both enjoyed the forest, the outdoors, the wildlife, the hiking, all the things they would get to do in the wilderness area of the park. They set up their camp with excitement that afternoon while planning their activities for the evening and the next day.

He went fishing in the river that ran nearby and actually caught fish for their dinner. They were both thrilled. They had brought vegetables from home to complete their meal. They were grilling their food over the campfire when they first noticed the smoke. At first they thought it was just smoke from the campfires of other people. Then they saw a herd of deer and even a black bear and her cubs run past them. He became concerned. There was a low cacophony rumbling in the forest.

Quite suddenly, there were people running by them, screaming at them to leave, to run, that a conflagration was heading toward them. They picked up a few necessities and got in their car.

When they got out on the road, they quickly saw they couldn’t escape by driving. The  cars were backed up for miles. They could see the glow of blaze behind them and could tell it was getting closer. It was time to abandon the car.

They felt like they had run, along with everyone else in the same tourist town, for miles. She fell to her knees over a lump in the terrain. When he stooped to pull her up, they both heard a grunt and they thought she had fallen over a person. They started frantically searching the ground and found the body….of a large pot-bellied pig. He was digging himself as deep into the ground as he could. They knew they couldn’t help him and jumped up and ran on. The fire was practically licking at their heels.

When it was all over, they had reached safety, but not everyone had and not every animal in the beautiful park had escaped. Later, they found that the pig was a family pet that knew to burrow into the ground. He’d been rescued and was recovering at the nearest veterinary hospital. It would take longer, much longer, for the national park to recover from the fire that the young boys let get out of control. Some families would never recover from the loss of their loved ones at all.

Dedicated to the victims of the fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2016

#SoCS – 5/26/18 – Appalachia: Memorial Day

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It’s Memorial Day weekend and that’s an important holiday in Appalachia. It’s a holiday that honors lost loved ones, whether they were lost in war or died of natural causes, in this region of the U.S. In Appalachia, it’s a weekend where families reunite, have large meals together, and decorate the graves of their deceased relatives with flowers. Across Appalachia, Memorial Day is most often called Decoration Day.

When I was growing up, and even now, the family would congregate where most of the relatives were buried. In my case, that was at my grandparent’s home in Magoffin County, Kentucky. Every nuclear family within the extended family would bring beautiful flowers to decorate each grave. Often, that would involve going to three or four cemeteries.

Memorial Day at the cemetery was also a social occasion. Families who seldom saw each other would have a chance to talk and catch up while decorating the graves.

After decorating the graves, everyone would go to my grandmother’s house for a large meal and a visit with each other afterward. It was one of the most important family holidays of the year.

We still honor our lost loved ones in Appalachia in much the same way. Families are smaller. There are fewer large family meals. Instead of meals in grandma’s kitchen, they are often prepared on the grill. You will still find people hunting flowers a few days before the Memorial Day weekend to decorate gravesites. They will still enjoy visiting with family and friends in the cemeteries. It’s getting more difficult to find children who know what “Decoration Day” really means and who it honors.

Appalachia: Pearl Harbor – #100WW

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The news ran up and down Burning Fork and Birch Branch roads in Magoffin County, Kentucky faster than the water in the creeks. The family ran into the house to turn on the radio, their only means of communication with the outside world. The address by the President of the United States was playing. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the U.S. had entered World War II.

The young man from Michigan enlisted in the Navy. He was to be sent to Kentucky where his fate would intertwine with that Appalachian family because of this Great War.

100 words

Picture credit to @Bikurgurl

Turrets – #writephoto

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How did he ever convince her to visit this God forsaken castle in Turkey, of all places, Rebecca wondered to herself as she and Patrick stumbled down the crumbling, stone steps in the portion of the medieval castle that was still standing.

This trip to Europe had been filled with difficulties. Patrick was determined to make this one last stop in Turkey and she saw no reason, cultural or otherwise, for it. The ruins weren’t particularly noteworthy. The tour group was small. The surrounding area contained little of historical significance. It was also completely off their tour route. She didn’t understand why they were there and Patrick seemed unable and unwilling to explain. He’d hardly even spoken to her as they toured the ruins.

He was walking far ahead of her down the steps when she felt herself stumble. There was nothing to grab onto. She started to tumble down the stairs and landed at the bottom. The remaining two people behind her rushed to her, but she assured them she was fine. They wandered off.

She wasn’t fine. She’d turned her ankle and as she tried to get up, she found she couldn’t put her weight on it. By then, the two other tour group members were gone and she was alone. She called out for Patrick, but after waiting a few minutes, it was clear he didn’t know yet that she’d been left behind.

Rebecca suddenly heard a woman laugh, an evil-sounding laugh. She looked up and on the stair rail stood a creature. A female-looking creature with piercing blue eyes and a long black robe. Rebecca started scooting across the floor away from it.

The creature spoke and said, “My name is Ramona and I am the Dark Fairy.” Then it just tapped its toe on the stair rail.

”I’d make you my pet, but it would be more fun to make that man you’re with my pet.”

Rebecca finally found her voice and said, “What are you talking about?”

”Don’t you know anything? Dark fairies make humans their pets and the humans do our biding.”

Rebecca felt herself jerked up, her ankle painless, and the Dark Fairy fluttered beside her.

”Now get up. We’re going after that gentleman friend of yours. He’s been trying to do you harm.”

#SoCS – 5/19/18 – Stories of #Appalachia – The Postman and the Dog

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Up until I was in my 20s, my uncle lived deep into the Birch Branch hollow  (pronounced “holler” in the eastern Kentucky dialect). He lived in a cabin and with him lived his female Doberman Pinscher, Gertrude. For awhile, he also had a male Doberman Pinscher named Sue, after Roger Miller’s song, “A Boy Named Sue.”

But this story is about Gertrude. My uncle was a postal service worker in Magoffin County, Kentucky. He delivered mail and Gertrude accompanied him. Mail carriers in rural areas tend to drive slowly between stops and my uncle certainly did. One reason he drove slowly is because of where Gertrude rode in/on the station wagon that he drove. She rode on top of it. My uncle and Gertrude were something of a legend in Magoffin County because this was quite a sight to passers-by.

My uncle passed away in 1974 and left poor Gertrude behind. She was old then and very bonded to him. She lived the last years of her life on my cousin’s porch, in a cushy dog house, undoubtedly grieving for my uncle. She was bonded and there was little to do for her although my cousin certainly tried.

A man and his dog.

Stories of #Appalachia – Birch Branch Today

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My grandfather’s farm, in Magoffin County, KY, USA, located in the heart of Appalachia, is no more now in 2018. It was located at the intersection of the small dirt road, Birch Branch, and a county road that was only a little more well-traveled, Burning Fork. My grandparents have been gone now for many years and the farm sold off. I only have one reason now to go back to Birch Branch and that is a much-loved cousin who still lives in the area. I guess a second reason is to gaze longingly at what used to be the farm and wish for things that used to be. I feel less and less able to do that and more likely just to remember it in my heart and mind.

Today, unless you can remember Birch Branch and my grandfather’s farm in what used to be lovely eastern Kentucky, you wouldn’t recognize it. The road is the same, dirt and some gravel. But where my grandfather’s and great uncle’s farms were beside it, now there is a trailer park. Not a well-maintained trailer park, but trailers with neglected little children running around in dirt yards and dogs tied out in the heat on chains. Usually, there are men sitting on the steps of the trailers, during the day when they should be working. There are no jobs. The unemployment rate in the county is upwards of 33 percent. They either don’t think of it or don’t have the means to travel to find a job like generations before them did.

You’ve heard of the opioid problem in the U.S.? You’re looking at it when you view what is now where my grandfather’s farm used to be. Instead of working, these men are taking pain pills. OxyContin, Percocet, Hydrocodone, any of the codeine or morphine=based drugs they can get. Most of them aren’t just temporarily high because of some sort of problem. They are the long-term addicted. If they ever had job skills, they lost them long ago. Generations of men just like them lost them long ago. It is the cycle of poverty and drug abuse.

Such things had never been heard of when my grandfather farmed this land. If you couldn’t find a job around home, you joined the military or you left home and worked away. You didn’t give up and sit on the steps of a trailer stoned out of your mind day after day after day. I find these people and this lifestyle disgusting.

The creek is still there, filled with trash. I can still envision the part of the land that was my great-uncle’s. He had a beautiful collie dog named Lassie who I played with as a child in the green pasture land. The horrible drug trailers populate that land now.

Some of you may think that the loss of coal mining is responsible for this problem. Not so. Magoffin County is not a coal mining county. The loss of self-respect and the availability of drugs is responsible for the problem. When I visit, I want to scream at these people to get in their cars and find a job. It wouldn’t help.

Politicians can discuss the opioid problem, but until they can find jobs for these people, the opioid problem will remain. It may, right now, be too late. I hate to sound cynical about an area that I loved so much, but I don’t expect this social and cultural problem to be solved in my lifetime. Magoffin County, KY is certainly not the only county in an area as big as Appalachia to have exactly the same problem.

#Avenue – #writephoto

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Against her own will, she takes a different route than usual for her morning walk. It is bright and sunny outside. One of the first sunny days after a brutal winter. It seems that the weather has jumped from the dead of winter right into summer. It even seems hot. She vows to cut her morning walk a little short.

Then she sees a tree-lined avenue to her right. Its beauty astounds her. Her feet take her toward the avenue and she spots park benches all along the way. She craves the shade-lined portion of the avenue. She sits on one of the benches. Recently, she hasn’t enjoyed the sun. She feels the sun reveals too much about her. The tired face, the slumped posture, the aging. Those are private things. She doesn’t want anyone to look too closely. They might figure her out.

Beyond the shade is the wondrous sunny part of the avenue. It’s lined with cherry-blossoms. The scent wafts toward her and is sweet. People are meandering along the sunny avenue admiring the cherry trees. She doesn’t feel she has a right to the cherry blossoms, to the sunny portion of the avenue. That is for the young, the people with life ahead of them. Those who still have hopes and dreams. Not someone like her. Someone whose hopes and dreams have been stolen away.

She sits and enjoys the shade for a while. She pulls herself up and starts for home. That’s where she belongs. Behind the draperies. Where the sun doesn’t shine.

Thanks to Sue Vincent