Sunday, October 31, 2010

one for halloween

A swatch from a story called "Ghost Writer" which is part of a connected series of stories from a collection entitled Leesville. This particular story is largely nonsense (the others are rather serious) and concerns the arousal of a ghost from a grave precipitated by the vandalism of two naughty little boys--Timmy and Tommy. Seems they were going around switching grave-site flowers--a no-no as it turns out. For their misdeed, they are cursed to never sleep well again. The man whose spirit haunts this story is Wallace Persons and he figures prominently into the the rest of the series. The language here and throughout the tale is intentionally absurd--vacillating willy-nilly from archaic to juvenile to, at times elsewhere, dead serious. Pun tolerated

. . . and next the vitriolic specter swooped like a hawk, icy rain and howling gale no matter, translucent except for seething, vermillion eyes aflame from the effrontery of the switched flower; and it found Timmy huddled weeping by the cloven dogwood and Tommy running like a coward toward the church, and it snatched them by their napes and dropped the two boys on top of each other beside his erstwhile tomb. The naughty boys held each other, crying a thousand pardons of the perturbed spirit. To paraphrase, they cried:

“Stay your wrath most mighty and least worm-desiccated ghoul of beauty and pathos. We are but sheep who have gone astray and would pledge perennial servitude wouldst thou but grant such a delicious wish and wouldst not make a delicious dish of two humble, yes naughtiest of the naughty, but reformed childes. Once eternally soporific now boundlessly honorific spirit, hear our pleas, witness our compunction, grant our lives though already so cursed ne’er to sleep well—though curse it may sound, ne’er such a blessing would it be if bestowed in the stead of tortuous devourment or worse, shudder e’en to speak it into this terrible night lest words come true by mere virtue of their utterance, a thoroughgoing ass spanking. This we beg, though justice weigh against us, with extreme faith in thy mercy howeversomuch our wretchedness dost recommend our asses to be thrashed, our ears a’boxed, our nipples tweaked now to port now to starboard—we beg.”

All this petulant palaver Timmy plead on behalf of the both and he fancied that he was winning over the ghost’s beneficent nature until Tommy, poor bubble-headed waif, added, “Can you walk through walls and stuff?”

The ghost looked wanting to speak. And might have if not for the bubble-headed one’s brash inquiry. The ghost of Wallace gave it a go against the east wall of the church and bounced a goodly distance from whence he came. The ghost looked wanting to swear. And might have had not the bubble-headed one suggested a try at the window. The ghost gave that a go and as sure as a moment before he was on the outside looking wanting to swear he was now on the inside feeling wanting to applaud himself for such a neat trick. (Seems windows and not walls are the ticket for ghost transference. Might make a mental note, those of you who take cigarette smoking lightly.)

The spirit’s spirits now jollified, he rejoined the two boys in the graveyard. He handed the not-so-special flower to the young one and told him to go fetch the special one and give it back to him—the fair and rightful owner. The young one made the re-switch as he was bade but the original deed could not be undone. Wallace Persons was awake and raging. Well, not so much raging as a bit miffed but awake—he was awake. Wallace Person’s ghost said, “You two run off to bed and sleep as well as you can. Sorry about that curse but I think it’s gonna stick whether I repent it or not. If I figure something out I’ll come back and reverse the curse. Ta-ta.” And he walked away scratching his head but before he got too far he turned and added, “For starters, quit being so naughty, though.”

The gale lessened to a stiff wind. The pounding rain softened to a reasonable shower. Once again it was simply a dark and stormy night.

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