::Preamble::First, if you are eighteen years or younger please do not read this post. If you have the sensitivities of someone who is eighteen yours old or younger, I recommend you also pass on this post.
Today's post is an offering to the lore of Halloween. I can't say what you are about to read it true, should you decide to read it. However, I can't say it's not true as I have no just means to measure the veracity of the events in this story. What is true is that this is a story and that it has absolutely nothing, at all, whatsoever, to do with daily life. So, if you're looking for the next humorous or heart-breaking story about a trip to Mexico City, New Orleans or somewhere else then I recommend you skip this entry. Also, if you don't like to read, might I recommend you skip this post. However, if you don't like to read I should have mentioned much earlier that reading will be required. So, if you are learning how to read to find a point where you won't have to read anymore, this would be a fine place to not read anymore.
If however, you like dark stories with mayhem and a fair shade of supernatural all wrapped up in a macabre bow, then perhaps you should continue reading. Not everyone that appears in the beginning of the story lasts until the end, and not all the words within this seasonally dark tale are polite.
:: The Story::Halloween...
Halloween happens as Dusk lays down her roots over the wired and tenacious city of Los Angeles. She settles her roots settle deep into the minds and soil of the expansive city, from the Palisades to Manhattan Beach and out east to Ontario. Every day light rests it's guard over the land and gives the Night free reign to charge or discharge the moments of man and their affairs over fellows, colleagues, friends and family. Where the night allows the day to settle lay beyond the reach of sight, just beyond the horizon, in lands freshly reacquainted with the light of day. Here Dawn uproots the mayhem of the night before, replacing nightmares with the first visions of the rising sun, and isolation with waking neighbors. But this night, in this city, Halloween comes quickly and conspires with Dusk to lay poison in the roots of night's take of the land, from the dying light to the death of last starlight - a moment when the hours stop their clockwise momentum and the eyes of sidewalk passersby twinkle with a curious, livid darkness.
The night is upon us now in the City of Dark Angels as Halloween awakens both ancient, and modern, misdeeds left unresolved. Four people shot dead at Sepulveda and Pico, 1932. Arson at Von Brauerstein's Mortuary, Rancho Cucamonga, 1971. The ghosts of victims and criminals alike awake from the sleep of death for one night to avenge a stolen fate or further seal an untimely end. This is the tragedy of Halloween's poison should a stolen fate remain sealed for the watch o' another year. This is also the redemption of Halloween's trickery providing a night free from death for the slain to seek vengeance in whatever manner required as this night promises no morality nor imparts a righteous requirement for living or dead. Should vengeance for a stolen fate prevail, a soul is at peace and may pass as it wishes with the gift of resolution; whereas the soul of the attacker passes to a place undesired for length of time there is no purpose in explaining. However, it may happen in the reverse where resolution and vengeance is not won this Halloween, where by the hour of the clock moving once again brings starlight and then the dawn, and those left unsettled are pulled back to the sleep of their death waiting the eternity of another human year to rise and try again. There are still those beyond the living and the dead but this night plays no special role except as a night to further the goals of the chess game of humanity when tonight the rules are reversed. This is a night where innocence is defined only by what drives a soul, whether with or without a body, and not by the mistakes of the past.
This Night in Santa Monica...
17th and Ocean Park. Santa Monica, California. Halloween is seen largely as joyously mischievous with no ramifications for the night's endeavors save an eventual dentist's visit a month or two from now. Parents walk hand in hand with their children; both young and old dress up pretending to be cowboys, law suits, sexy fairies, or elf princesses. In LA's famed west side is Santa Monica, a residential combination of trendy, safe, progressive and conservative. The costumes that parents and children wear may not be clearly aligned along age or gender lines. A sexy and demure fairy may walk with her 7 year old cowboy, or a well dressed man may walk alone from a liquor store with a cowboy hat covering his eyes and a bottle shaped paper bag, grasped in his right hand. This man may be a dentist or lawyer by day. Tonight he is the first step for a freed soul hoping to last one more year. This is one of many stories like this in Santa Monica, and similarly of thousands more throughout LA, all on Halloween.
This block of Ocean Park is quiet, gently swept by the constant breeze of the Pacific and snuggles quietly under the cover of night. Along the north face of Ocean Park stand an array of two-level, concrete and stucco dwellings for humans. Each stucco box spans half a block and is unique only in the small variation of count and sizes of glass panes. All dwellings are variations on prefab building codes from the late 50's. On 17th is a soccer and football field, part of John Adams Middle School, paved with AstroTurf and field paint. On the street is an array of cars whose models, years and makes define a collection of students, professionals and an occasional vagabond. Three blocks north of 17 and Ocean Park is Santa Monica College, collegial gate of the world to the land of Southern California, feeding directly to universities like UCLA and USC. Standing on every block for miles around are tall, often elegant, and slightly bowed (either from wind or gravity) palm trees. These trees, their look, and slender, statuesque posture are out of place among the tended urban sprawl and yet we wouldn't recognize these blocks of Santa Monica without them. Just beyond the line of sight from SMC the cowboy hat walks east out from the Korean grocer (who may soon have his own Halloween story should his temper keep its current course) with eyes hidden from the dark cast by the absence of light between the street lamps. His paper bag sways forward and back, keeping pace with his quickening Nikes as the cowboy hat leans forward with the ocean breeze at his back. Two blocks up and waiting stands a collection of bones. At best this specter is a partially complete skeleton, misshapen, ill-fit, leering, and charred. The bones describe a large frame and bulky human when alive. The cheekbones are high and the forehead slope back. Every surface is slathered with mud, crust and dirt. His breath is the rasp of wind over dry bones and his exhale is dust. Merry costumes and the people within walk past, through and around the skeleton, unknowing, unseeing and uninvolved; tonight the devil in the bones fights to stymie 4 lives and needs a living skin-bag to touch reality. The empty eyes fixate on the approaching cowboy hat, staring with a dead smile that only empty teeth and dread intent can create.Though he has the world to see, the skeleton waits for his cowboy hat suitor.
Five blocks down a group of trick-or-treaters pack into a two-door hatchback. Every arm, leg and painted face of the SMC students climb in hand over fist to make room for the others. The sexy spider girl climbs in first. Her legs are covered with enough fabric to maintain decency by the letter of the law. Behind her pile the androgynous Justin Bieber, the lazy trick-or-treater dressed like a broke college student, and lastly the sexy devil at the wheel. The engine sputters to life, begrudgingly, at the behest of sexy devil's turning key. The wheel turns and slowly pulls the car into traffic, heading north and east to Pico and Sepulveda. The turn signal clicks off and the group disappears into traffic. Back on Ocean Park and 20th the skeleton walks from the invisibility of vision, just behind the all-night laundromat awash in the darkness of neon reds, and steps in line behind his mark. Cowboy hat takes a full pull from his bottle shaped bag allowing the skeleton to step inside and ignite a dark glory of purpose. Halloween takes a step forward tonight as both parties are set in motion against each other, vindication versus suffering.
Dark Cowboy Hat walks down the street toward an empty car. The skeleton is a good fit for his host, but not perfect. His legs are now stiff being too long for the physical body. His knees never straighten as he walks for fear of ripping through his host. The must remain in tact our the occupier falls out. His posture leans to the left under the weight of the new skin, muscle and sinew. His arms dangle at off angles defying symmetry from any view. Unable or uncaring to be at home in his new host, the collection of bones walks Cowboy Hat toward a black hatchback with red stripes, a bullet hole and cracked, tinted windows. The car sits ill parked between two islands of light cast by the street lamps. Though it sits motionless with its lights off, the front end is pulled far into traffic waiting for a driver equally matched in its desire for vehicular harassment.
Dark Cowboy Hat opens the door to the mid 80's Mustang and after a few minutes of bending broken or dislocated joints finally reduces his posture enough to fit through the open and rests his bones in the driver's seat. He leans far to his left, unable to raise his arm more than a foot, and reaches for the door handle, pulling it shut. Though matched in menace with the driver, the car is well greased and slides easily with the Dark Cowboy Hat's stiff movements and dry joints. Once in, he reaches for two pair of chopsticks from within his host's denim jacket. He breaks each pair into singles by splitting them at the base. He rubs their split joints together causing splintered wood to flake and fall. As he finishes each stick he lays them gently on the dashboard. Once all are set on the dash, the dread smile stretches out his jagged hand to arrange each stick so the narrow ends point directly through the glass to the street ahead. His hand rolls over each stick until they are spaced 15cm, 35cm and 20cm apart. With no notice to the public, nor requirement of key, the 'Stang pulls into traffic heading East to Sepulveda on Ocean Park. The pair are now out of sight.
We are grateful for the moments that go well for us, that bring smiles and cast away foreboding. We are grateful for raises, kittens, children or a good blow job. We are grateful for the light that doesn't go out as we walk beneath it at night. We are sometimes even grateful for the gift of waking up after night passes, and almost exclusively are we grateful for these gifts - large and small - when the light does go out, when the sex is bad or when our children embarrass us publicly. Almost always are we grateful for everything, including the bad, after a near death experience like vehicular assault. Smelling the foul stench of the airbag, the loud ring deafening your ears, the lapse in memory or culture and the immediate check of body parts after a head on collision. "Get out! Get out!" you yell inside your head. "Can I walk?!" you ask everything and nothing around you and you find only the stench of crunch answer as only they can "Take a step and find out on your own". These moments, when compared to any other day, make the sun brighter and your loved ones far less irritating, if indeed you are lucky enough to walk, crawl or be pulled out alive.
The four trick-or-treaters are recent friends with a shared heritage; they are all from Seoul though they did not know each other then. Each has come of their own accord to California, either by family or personal choice and all are studying at Santa Monica College preparing for their applications to UCLA. By their parent's pressuring three of them will go on to study lawyering or doctoring, except androgynous Justin Bieber. He will be studying computer science hoping to land a job in video games. Ideally he'll be working on "Star Craft," the most popular game in Korea when he was younger.
The group of new friends drive east on Pico over 34th. Just as they are about to pass Trader Joe's, Spider Girl shrieks for the car to stop and turn in to grocery. The rolling, metal beige hangs a sharp right into the parking lot and everyone slides left screaming and laughing. Tonight everyone is grateful to have the security of their friends, creating a little Korean island in a land of round-eyes, hippies, and thugs. The car rolls to a stop in a parking space. The hatchbacked, metallic beige sits in idle as Broke College Student pulls the latch to the door and kicks it open. He pulls his chair forward to let out Spider Girl and watches her legs as she goes. His eyes are relaxed and his smile still persists from the fun so far. Everyone is excited about what additional fun the night will bring and who... will hook up with who. A few minutes pass and the three inside the car are telling what appears to be a series of fabulous jokes. At least I surmise this from the continued exasperations and suffocating laughter, but I don't speak Korean so I can't be sure.
As Spider Girl exits the store she feigns a sexy catwalk strut from the 'automatic caution door' to the sidewalk. Her flame red, knee high, patent leather boot catches a cement crack and she topples forward just barely catching her own fragile weight with her other equally red, knee high, patent leather boot. In the middle of her not-so-life-threatening stumble a bauble of plastic tinkers to the ground with faint scratching sounds and settles on the ground. It catches Spider Girl's eye. She looks quizzically, can't remember having a lighter, then figure's it's probably Broke College Student's. He smokes after all. It's a disgusting habit but she feels a soft-spot growing for him regardless. Maybe she can help him slowly quit. She picks it up and piles in the back. Spider Girl clutches the lighter tightly knowing he will want it and so wants to keep it safe. Maybe he'll even think to appreciate her kindness, hopefully with a kiss. New to the car and hidden in the recess of the hatchback, a pair of four, faint eyes hover in the back of the rolling beige, immobile and watching. The car signals right and off they drive back into the night and to the theater of a destiny created years before their arrival.
A Race to Eternally Patient Fate...
Spider Girl pulls the lighter from her pocket and starts trying to light it. Fwick, fwick... nothing.
Approaching from the south where Ocean Park and Pico merge a black mustang peals down the road, long past Cloverfield and Bundy. He is not the loudest machine on the road this night as a group of daytime accountants, dressed in denim, chains, beards, and skull face paint, roars westbound on their Harleys. The volume of the exhaust stealing their own dignity while throttling an engine designed to choke for air and never get enough. The 'Stang heads over 32nd, 34th, 38th, running each red light. Faster and faster Dark Cowboy Hat pushes his steed, kicking the clutch in and downshifting to 3rd reaching 75, 80, 85. The four chopsticks are aligned as before at 15, 35 and 20 cm apart and aimed at the open road beyond the windshield.
The 'Stang takes a series of two soft rights where Ocean Park empties on Pico and crosses scantly over Exposition. Through the first corner the mustang almost swipes a rolling beige vehicle then turns abruptly away southeast on Exposition.
Fwick, fwick... nothing. Fwick. Spider Girl smiles, leans forward and wraps one hand around Broke College Student's eyes. With the other hand she reaches the lighter to a space next to his ear and tries lighting it again. Fwick, fwick. Startled, he jumps an inch, turns around and grabs for the source of the noise pulling the lighter from her hand.
"Where'd you get this?" has asks.
"It's yours, right? I found it on the ground."
"Well it's mine now! Perfect timing. I needed a smoke!"
"Not in the car!" yells Sexy Devil.
"Relax! I'll roll the window down."
Fwick, fwick... nothing.
Driving south east on Exposition, Dark Cowboy Hat slows to 50mph and searches for street signes. Up ahead, and soon to be passing by, he sees a sign that reads "Sepulveda." He immediately cuts the wheel to the left, pulls the e-brake, and steers into the skid sliding to the east curb of northbound traffic on Sepulveda and Exposition. The car revs down and when the smoke clears from the shredded tires, a woman with a seeing mouth and empty eyes sits motionless at a bus stop. Her bald spot turns to look at Dark Cowboy Hat, followed immediately by her seeing mouth, agape and staring at him through her jaws. Her eyes stay as they were, looking south at a rabbit and a lounge singer walking together and bickering, but still holding hands.
The driver's right arm raises slightly, bent at the elbow and flicks two fingers back, gesturing the woman and her seeing mouth. She walks over, eyes still on the rabbit and lounge singer but mouth gasping slovenly for air as each fat-leadened leg steps forward. The driver in the hat raises a single finger and twirls it. The sausage finger of the woman's hand excitedly points to a chopstick. Dark Cowboy Hat exhales dust in a low moan and turns his head from one side to the other. She points again at the chopsticks, this time reaching for one. Dark Cowboy Hat grabs her finger in mid theft. In a single twitch he flips her figner backward, beyond the crack of bone, the pop of broken cartilage and snap of torn sinew, breaking or tearing everything inside.
"Well I guess this is as good a time as any to quit smoking."
The metal beige nears Sepulveda after being stuck at every other traffic light. K-pop plays loud on the worn speakers. Sexy Devil and Spider Girl are singing along as androgynous Justin Bieber drums on the back of Sexy Devil's head rest.
The eyes in the back are still in the back. They are still and still they are waiting.
An unlit cigarette hangs from Broke College Student's mouth, begging to be lit and smoked.
The woman hobbles back to her bus stop, groaning while trying to breath and see. For her trouble she has lost an egg while gaining the skin-bag's wallet, which is useful even for the dead. She's given up trying to reset the backward finger and instead rifles through Cowboy Hat's unadulterated wallet.
Dark Cowboy Hat takes his newly acquired egg, places one end on the dashboard while his fingers hold the other end up. For one moment he is still, and then with a twist of his fingers sets the egg spinning on end.
Sexy Devil sits at the light in the right hand lane and flicks the lever that starts the turn signal. Androgynous Justin Bieber pulls a comb through his hair; his heart pumps stronger at the thought of tonight's party and the girls and boys he'll flirt with. Will they like his costume? Spider Girl leans forward and begins whispering softly to the back of Broke College Student's head rest. The walk sign for pedestrians turns orange and counts down from 10 seconds.
Anticipation begins. The journey is less than a block from ending. The skeleton master pushes Cowboy Hat's left foot on the clutch. He uses his host's other heel hold the break while throttling the gas with the toe of his Nike. The egg wobbles slightly but is still spinning and somewhere in the back of the physical brain Cowboy Hat thinks to fight his usurper, but too many years of drink combined with the last swig of bottle shaped paper bag adle his resolve.
Inside the mustang Dark Cowboy Hat pulls of his hat and throws it on the seat behind him. A cool slick darkness covers the mass where a face should be. It smiles then raises its head to howl, stretching its neck. It bellows a deep, guttural howl, gravelly and course. The spinning eggs decelerates and starts to wobble. One more year of freedom is about to be sealed.
The pedestrian light flashes and counts down: 3, 2, 1. Sexy Devil begins to turn and accelerate. Halfway through the turn she slams on the brakes when a four ghosts in matching Sketchers and empty eyes walk in front of the car.
"Haiii! You almost killed those people!"
"I didn't see them okay?!"
The tallest ghost lights a cigarette as the quartet walks past.
"Oh man! Not fair, I want a smoke!" he reaches within his pocket for the lighter and Sexy Devil begins again, slowly. As the car sheepishly rolls out, the ghosts in their cool sneakers are gone and the desperate eyes have returned to he recesses of the beige vehicle.
The Mustang's engine now roars in unison with the driver's sick humming. The host's lips now show sign of disease because bodies only last so long without their entwined owner. The egg slowly winds down...
and finally falls over.
The driver releases the clutch and brake while slamming the gas. The tires peal then catch and the black stallion shoots out into the street.
Sexy Devil accelerates the beige and in a flat out run, the car just reaches 20mph heading south on Sepulveda. Up ahead, a pair of headlights drive up and over the median then go dark. Back in the beige, the backseat trick-or-treaters are busily singing along to K-Pop as their heads bounce on or near the rhythm. Broke College Student feels a the itch and the pulling allure from the cigarette hanging in his mouth. He pulls the lighter out and holds it to his mouth.
The mustang crosses the meridian and is now seconds from colliding with the beige. Each chopstick is aimed at one of the passengers in the approaching beige just seconds away from...
"OH My God! You Ass!" Sexy Devil sees the lighter ignite and the and cigarette tip start burning. With her left hand on the wheel and her right reaching out like a frantic feline, she grabs the cigarette from his mouth and the lighter from his hand in a fit of three to five swipes then throws the whole set out the window.
The demon driving the Cowboy Hat skin-bag which is driving the mustang sees the world slow down in this moment of exhilarated pandemonium like the world slows down for all the living in the moments before, during and after a collision. As the white paint lines race into the grill and are consumed by the vehicle the fell demon loosens his grip on the wheel and relaxes.
The owner of the body registers his death only moments from now just as Sexy Devil throws the lighter and cigarette outside the window.
"Hey! My cigarette..."
The four eyes from the back of the beige launch forward the moment the lighter and cigarette reach the outside air. The eyes fly toward the lighter and cigarette.
Suddenly the car is flooded with white light from just outside the open window.
"GGAHHHH!!!" The car fills with shouting. Sexy Devil reflexively pulls the wheel away from the noiseless explosion and toward the right. Her hands are rigid vices at the wheel and her blood becomes as battery acid from the torrent of adrenaline. In this car everyone is sharing the same adrenaline rush as the mustang approaches.
Mustang, Skin-bag and Demon alike see the explosion but only skin-bag attempts to slam the brakes; he is overridden by both demon and mustang. In the blinding light the demon makes one last correction to the right. He slams his fist on the dashboard sending the chopsticks flying forward. They explode through the windshield leaving four small holes behind with small crumbles of broken glass. They are flying into the brilliant white light ahead. Through the explosion come four pairs of eyes reaching out with a force. The mustang is too alarmed to register the intruders; they pass through the windshield with no difficulty and reach into the skin-bag. The mustang races forward with the drunk human, leaving behind the eyes and the skeleton in their grasp.
The car races through the now dying burst of light and drives straight into a tree back in the meridian.
The rolling beige passengers are screaming for the desperation of this moment and they hope that God, any God, will bring sanity or quiet. Their car rolls to the right and quickly decelerates as the aging brakes fight to keep up with the hunk of rolling metal they're attached to. The car pops up on the curb and rolls into a bus stop bench then rolls another 25 feet before coming to a stop, in an empty administration parking lot, a few feet from the glass wall of Park, Hyatt and Burke.
Cowboy Hat sees the tree approaching and has .1 seconds to begin crying before ...
A horrid wreck of metal explodes against a tree as fenders crunch over door panels, a battery explodes, glass ruptures and is pushed forward by the skin-bag flying through the windshield, head first and body broken as it passed by and mangled the steering wheel and dashboard.
The chopsticks are buried six inches into the tree trunk just below Cowboy Hat's facial impact.
25 feet back, on the lane lines in the middle of the southbound lanes of Sepulveda, three pair of eyes are standing around the skeleton as the fourth pair of eyes is still strangling the limp set pf bones. In fury and passion, and from years of torment the fourth pair of eyes forces every last bit of passing breeze from the air that was once Skeleton's throat. Wringing the bony neck, his hands clasping tighter and tighter, and convulsing under pressure, tears form in his rage-red eyes, hate pours through his hands and creating enough pressure to spin a frail spider web of red veins in his eyes. His pupils dilate. Skeleton's vertebrae start popping. As the grinding sound of dry bone compressing against dry bone becomes audible to the others in this Halloween quartet. The eyes shoot quick glances at each other; dispassion becomes concern in their raised eyes. They look down at the fourth, choking a dead skeleton. The pale shapes of what could be their bodies flutters in and out of visibility with the strength of their growing worry. Skeleton looks up one last time and is met by Fourth's fist across the bridge of his nose, now broken. Fourth beats him a few more times but no amount of fists or force will remove the dead skeleton's malivious smile. Fourth is now leaning on top of him, crying and howling wildly, beating his decades old adversary with both fists lost in rage, in an animalistic orgy of violence fueled by suffering.
Sexy Devil and Spider Girl are the first to lift their heads, bloodied from minor scratches. Sexy Devil has the worst facial injuries where the airbag pushed her glasses into her face lacerating the skin around her nose and eyes, but leaving everything relatively undamaged and nothing major injured. Broke College Student is leaning forward and starts rubbing his neck, after he stops screaming. Tomorrow he'll have muscle problems in his neck. The lap belt kept him from sliding forward while the shoulder belt kept his upper torso from flying forward hinged at the lap belt, which would have otherwise severely damaged his spine, if not broken it. Androgynous Justin Bieber put his hands up in a defensive position just before impact where his head then slammed into his fingers breaking three of them and bruising his face.
Back on the cement, as Fourth reaches the climax of his tortured and violent outburst, outline of a square traces itself as a small, thin depresseion of the surface gravel. The thin line traces back to it's origin, becoming a square the about 4 feet wide and long. The cement beneath the skeleton opens. The demons bones separate as the hole widens, each sliding in until the skeleton as a whole dwindles to nothing. Fourth begins to fall forward with the last of the skeletal remains. Fourth's rage turns to panic as balance slides out from beneath him. Before he falls in completely he is grasped and suspended by the remaining trio.
The door closes and the skeleton is gone. The passengers in the beige are safe and have begun walking out of the car, stumbling like zombies without the sense to look for brains.
The four pair of eyes and their souls are free this night for all nights. This night has seen the positive change of fortune in one story long needing the relief of justice and of suffering ended. Sometimes by miles and sometimes by minutes the quartet has missed this triumph.
Halloween on this night has brought the chance for people to end their suffering, should you deign to call the dead people. But, we all know that we are more than our bodies, more than our brains, and are more than the collection of actions and thoughts that filter through our physique and mind. We are all and each a presence with an intention and a will to bring action and change to the world before and around us.
Dawn will come soon. Clocks will restart under the black sky and Halloween's poison recedes from the land and those souls whose untimely ends are left unresolved begin disappearing. The woman who watched the world from her open mouth has succeeded in avoiding the hole in the Earth for one more year.
Day comes and brings no comfort to those fortunate children whose worst problem was eating too many sweets. The light of the sun fixes many problems and sets many things to rest but has yet to counter the powerful effect of industrial strength sugar consumed in large quantities.
Hug the person next to you. Give them your affinity and generosity. Be grateful for the Life you have before fortunes shift and the only thing you have left are memories of things you forgot to be grateful for.