Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chapter 6

So we've completed a round and I have to say this is harder then I expected. That said, I'm definitely pleased with how it's gone so far. Obviously there are kinks, and I wouldn't say we are quite firing on all cylinders. There are certainly places where we didn't line up in voice, tone, or pace, but that's the nature of this very peculiar beast. I think moving forward we will only get stronger and more cohesive, which hopefully will lead to some pretty awesome work.

For Chapter 6 I tried to pull back the reins a little bit and take stock of where we were and maybe set up where we are going. Trying to match up with everything that came before was tough but I did my best. I can't say too much about my motivations as that would be a violation of the book club rules. Enjoy.


Chapter 6: Operation Umbrella, or All Is Not Lost

It’s stopped raining

My phones display reads 91, my finger poised over that final digit.

What would I tell them? This story is so insane. “So I was walking around casually minding my own business, when this mysterious woman told me to get into her car at gunpoint, then she told me to get out and we were at the park where my fiancée Adeline was murdered, so that was eerie, but this time there were no pigeons around, well I mean there were pigeons at my store a few days ago, and I guess that’s an odd coincidence and I might be interested in reading something into it, but it’s not really all that relevant to now, when she was about to shoot me, but then she hesitated for some reason and got shot by this other guy with a gun and then he told me to tase her, and so I picked up the taser – oh yeah there was a taser – and then I tased her and then the other guy put her in the back of his car and drove off.”

Just listening to this rambling mess, even I think I may just be going crazy.

Outside the Mercury Zephyr the rain is weakly protesting the day’s events. Misting. The worst kind of rain.

In the back seat of the unidentified man’s car Rain, blindfolded, gagged, and bound, has regained consciousness, but has yet to move. This isn’t the first time she’s been captured. She knows it won’t be the last. Her thoughts are on the man, Jerry Marston. He’s the first person she’s ever failed to kill. She knows she should feel something – anger, frustration, disappointment, anything really – but she’s numb. She wonders if that’s an effect of the taser.

The man picks up his phone. Dials.

Operation Umbrella is proceeding as planned sir. You’ll have her in less than a week.

I could deliver faster, but I don’t want to. I get my time. That was the deal.

Don’t worry. I have no intention of hurting her.

Her thoughts go to Driftwood as she formulates her escape plan.

I look away from the phone for a minute. A cat is sitting in my lap. Driftwood, is stitched into his emerald green collar. His presence is calming.

“How do you factor into this little buddy?”

He doesn’t answer. It’s odd to admit that I was kind of expecting him to. After everything that’s happened these past few days, why shouldn’t cats talk?

Am I actually going crazy?

I look around the park, trying to get my bearings. The sun is back out, and excluding my own disheveled appearance the park accurately reflects South Haverbrook opulence. The shed, once dilapidated was restored within a week of Adeline’s murder. Another example of the world moving on without me. Ignoring me.

My phone’s backlight has gone off and through the glare I can barely make out the two digits I’ve entered. Calling the police is the right thing to do, even if they’ll never find my abductor, or my savior.

I push the 1.

Moments after hatching the escape plan Rain’s hands are already free of their constrictions. She keeps them behind her back to prevent the unidentified man from noticing.

She envisions the break out in her mind. She’ll wait for a bump in the road when he won’t be attuned to slight movements of her body. Then, she will wrap the rope that had been used to tie her hands around his neck. She thought there was something poetic about that – as the hunted become the hunter, the bounds would become the weapon. She would grab both ends of the rope with her left hand and with her right she would constrict both of his arms.

Her mind shifts gears. She dwells on Jerry once more. And the poem. The poem that had been lodged in her brain, the poem that seemed so important to her, the poem that he choose to say a part of before he died. She realizes that as soon as she gets out of this situation she needs to get back to Jerry Marston.

The car starts slowing, then stops. The unidentified man gets out of the driver’s seat. Rain can hear his footsteps crunching the loose gravel of the shoulder as he walks to the trunk. The trunk opens, something is lifted out, and then it is closed. The door at her feet is opened.

I know you untied my knots. Show me your hands slowly. Good. Now remove your blindfold.

The man is pointing a gun – her gun – at her.

I’m holding the phone to my ear, but I don’t hear anything. I look at the display, 9-1-1. Right, I always forget that you need to push send. I waver once more.

What are the police going to do? There are no witnesses. More importantly, there is no crime. I stare at the screen.

The phone is ringing. Driftwood looks at it and then at me. I answer it.




A faint scratching and flapping noise.

“Seriously? This again? What are there pigeons in my apartment now?”

“No Mr. Marston. There are no pigeons in your apartment. The pigeons were a warning. I suggest you heed it.”

“Are you serious right now? The pigeons were a warning? Why didn’t you just call me and say hey, Jerry the crazy bitch that killed Adeline is coming to kill you? That would have been a much more effective warning asshole”

“She didn’t kill Adeline, and that’s not what the warning was. I can’t explain it all to you now, but things are in motion and you are a part of it. The pigeons were a heads up.”

“Oh great! Things are in motion! That’s an eye opening revelation. What the fuck does that even mean? What is this, Lost?”

“I assure you this is no TV show. You are not in purgatory, or hell or the afterlife. You have not been transported in time or place. You are in South Haverbrook CT, and things are in motion. What those things are, Jerry, is up to you.”

The phone clicks dead. I look at Driftwood. “So. Where do we go from here?”

Chapter 5

Capping off the first round is the Man from Minnesota who single handedly (technically he used both hands because typing with one hand is not efficient, but the phrase does not turn as nicely that way) got me through my first year writing courses in college. Once again I apologize for the spacing. Enjoy.

Chapter Five: The Sun that Parts the Clouds

“Pigeons,” I mutter as I clean the last of the feathers out of my store, three days after it was vandalized. “Nothing good comes from pigeons.” The store was set to open again and I was excited. I had taken the opportunity to repaint and remodel a touch. The bleak maroon walls had been repainted a blue pastel, Adeline’s favorite color, and the old mahogany shelving was replaced with sleeker cedar shelves. The place was clean, but I still scrubbed away at the floor on my hands and knees as if haunted by the pests that had nearly destroyed my store. “I hate pigeons.”

It was pouring. Type #2 rain, unrelenting, pounding rain, one mf my favorites. It gets my blood pumping, my adrenaline flowing. The only time I get to feel the sheer power of type #2 rain is on kill days. I summon Driftwood and pull my Honda into traffic bound northwards from Arlington, VA. I’ll be in Connecticut soon.

100MPH…105MPH…110MPH, I gotta keep pace with the clouds. I swerve and honk my way through the cars; gripping the wheel tight as each time I make a tight pass. I promise myself that even if I don’t scratch the car she deserves new paint and tires after this is over. Its dark up ahead, looks like a big storm. My body is racked with pain, but I know I am close. The pain, the chase, they end today.

Jerry Marston flips the sign on the door from “Closed” to “Open” and settles in for the morning with his coffee and the paper. Instinctively he flips first to the weather section. “Damnit, 72 and sunny again. At least its good for business.” He sips the scalding coffee and swallows deep allowing it burn his trachea and stomach. He loves the burn. He does not look behind him; he does not see the clouds.

The Rainmaker nears South Haverbrook and consults the map she stole from the last gas station. She knows her victim owns a bookstore on Gavin Dr. and knows he is working today because she called to inquire whether the latest Dan Brown novel was in. She knew what she was going to do, she was just looking at the map to figure out the best way out of town.

Keep one-step ahead, you don’t want to arrive in time to see another corpse. She never kills in a house or an alley, always in public. She embraces death and wants others to as well. Jesus this looks familiar. That church with the slightly tilted spire, I was just here, I know it. I pull over and wrestle my laptop out of my bag. S-O-U-T-H H-A-V-E-R-B-R-O-O-K. Jesus, I knew this looked familiar. The pigeons. What the hell was that? I know it was her, but why the pigeons? No matter, the Rainmaker loved comfort. I’ll take my chances with the park.

I flip the sign from “Open” to “Closed,” its lunchtime and I forgot my lunch on the counter this morning. Guess I’ll go grab a quick sandwich and shake from Delia’s. As I close the door behind me I realize for the first time this morning that it its raining. I don’t have a coat or umbrella and I don’t care. I missed the rain and embrace each cooling drop.

I’ll let him get his final meal. I pet Driftwood and check my gun. The rain, type #22, is steady, but not overbearing, it is patient rain.

I pull out my flask and take a big gulp. This is it, I can’t do this much longer. It ends today, in this park, or I’m done. I screw a silencer onto my USP .45 and wait. Its going to hurt, but I need her alive. I hope I can still make the shot.

Maybe I should “forget” my lunch more often. Damn that raspberry shake was good. Its still raining, I’ve never been happier to see the rain. It helps wash away the deep pain of my loss. Wash away the blood in the grass at the park. Wash away the pigeon crap on the sidewalk in front of my store. “Get in,” I hear a woman in the red Honda that pulled up alongside me say. She is pointing a gun right between my eyes. I can’t run. My legs have betrayed me. The raspberry shake and BLT weighing down my stomach have betrayed me. I get in.

This one is often quiet I think to myself. Usually they are begging at this point. No matter. I hardly hear them now. The rain has intensified. It is type #2 again.

I drag myself up the jungle gym and perch myself next to the slide facing the shed. I lie down and get into shooters position. This is my chance. The pain is incredible, but I need to ignore it. She has one shot and I have one shot. For my sake and this poor soul’s sake I need to shoot first.

I’ve stopped thinking. I am about to be executed like my Adeline. I suppose it is fitting, but I can’t say I understand it. I didn’t know I had any enemies. Neither did she I suppose. I close my eyes and think of clouds, ducks and Milky Way.

“Get out and walk to shed,” said the Rainmaker to Jerry.

Jerry does, not even feigning interest in taking off.

“On your knees and look into my eyes. I want you to watch me kill you.”

I look up and see the Rainmaker draw the Anaconda and cock the hammer back slowly and deliberately. She was obviously enjoying this. I suppose if I am going to die I will at least get to die in same park as my Adeline. A wave of happiness overtakes me. “The pain will end and good will conquer evil. The rain will end and the sun will part the clouds. Adrift in a sea of apathy, I wait for rescue,” I mutter to myself as the gun is leveled between my eyes.

“What did you just say,” shrieks the Rainmaker.

Before he could repeat it the Rainmaker’s slender body crumpled over as a bullet tore through her right knee. The Anaconda and a Taser she had in her pocket went flying out. “TASE HER BEFORE SHE GETS UP,” I hear a voice yell from the jungle gym. Still shocked, I stumble for the Taser and deliver 40,000 volts of electricity into her back and watch as she crumples into a quivering heap.

“I am sorry about your loss,” said the older gentleman who had made his way down from the swing set. I watched, dumbfounded, as he tied up the bloody lady and gagged her with a weather beaten tennis ball he found. He pulled his pristine looking Mercury Zephyr and placed her bloody body in back seat that he had covered with a tarp and what looked like 20 towels. He collected her gun and Taser and threw them into the passenger seat of the car. Finally, he walked up to the Honda she was driving and removed the small travel bag she had in there.

“Forget you ever saw this,” he said to me as he sped off into the parting clouds.

I sat down next to the shed unable to move, staring at a pristine Mercury Zephyr race off. Besides me a grey cat did the same.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chapter 4

The fourth entry was written by Combo. He isn't half as fucked up as the events in this chapter might have you believe. As far as I know he has never... well, I won't ruin it for you. Enjoy


A part of me wishes I had a chance to visit the scene of the crime. Maybe then my mind could be at rest. Rest from the haunting visions of her naked body in the playground of Madahorn park before daybreak. Two Investigators described the scene to me, alternating between pieces of description.

“She was just lying there" a short stocky trench coated man with a lisp explained "on her back, naked. One bullet hole in each scchoulder and one on each schhin.

"The fucker wanted her alive," his partner wearing a tan slacks and a blue tweed jacket added. "Her body was covered with mixture of blood and pigeon shit. Apparently, she was coated with bird feed and the pigeons ate away at most of her skin and fucking shat it out all over her.”

"Her clothes and bag were nowhere to be found" spat the first one.

The news hit me like a malignant tumor. At first, I was in denial. I had spoken to her the night before. We had dinner plans that evening. Her death was too much like a twisted murder novel to feel the pain at first. I was just waiting to get furious with them when they would tell me that they were joking.

They were not. She was killed. Bullets, entrance wounds, exit wounds, her faint heart pumping blood outside of her body. Birdseed. Birdseed. Eaten to death by pigeons.

The tumor slowly grew. The pain became more excruciating by the day. It increasingly dominated over any healthy part of my brain.

I counted. 14 times I missed my bus stop thinking about the mess in the playground that was once my fiancé.

Everyday I visit that scene. On some days her humors looks more red than white, others, more white than pink. Some days she lay there unscathed and I watch the whole scene from the beginning.

Her murderer has a number of faces as well. Sometimes it's a delirious homeless man, black and abnormally tall – hunched over with a limp. He wears a heavy black winter jacket with feathers jutting out of the lining. He watched her jogging through the park every morning. He wakes up in a drunken haze one day and waits for her. As she runs by he aims five feet in front of her hesitates a second to allow her to run into the line of fire. The bullets smacks her in her in the right leg , piercing her leggings. Her momentum carries her another step and she stumbles and falls like a hunted a dear. He limps over satisfies with his aim and starts to laugh.

“How dat feel, Bitch?” I try my hardest to stop myself from conjuring up how he removed her clothes, what he did with her helpless body. Usually I am unsuccessful.

Did she try to fight him? She was always fighter. Where'd the homeless man get the gun?

Other times, the murderer is this Russian mafia man. He is fat and has white hair earlier than normal. He wears a gray suit and a oddly colored bluish-green shirt, convexed from his gut. He was sent by someone, who was sent by someone to kill her in the most gruesome way possible.

"You don't fuck vis us Adelene," he mispronounces her name, the last time she will ever hear it.

“Thees is vut happens ven you fuck vis us." Each sentence begins and ends with the gunpowder explosion in the glock's stainless steel barrel. He rips off her running suit then takes out a plastic shopping bag filled with bird seeds. He doesn't bother untying the double knot and just rips it open, carefully making sure the seeds fall evenly along her torso and thighs.

But what could the mafia ever want from her. She had no real money. I have no real money. What the fuck could anyone ever want from her?

The pigeons always look the same. They come instantly in a cloud of fluttering gray and purple and green and fight for a spot on her flesh. Twenty or so minutes later, they begin to fly away.

And dawn breaks.

Chapter 3

The third chapter in the reverse book club (or book club, but not in the way you'd expect) was written by a friend, who at this time will remain nameless, but I will tell you that he writes for a popular sports related magazine. Enjoy.


Calmly caressing the worn steering wheel, he turned into the packed parking lot, narrowly avoiding a sedan speeding in the opposite direction towards the lot's exit.

Unfazed by the near accident, he continued on for another 30 feet before expertly backing into a spot. It wasn't the first open one he saw, but it was the one that would make for the quickest exit. He knew that probably wouldn't be needed, but you always have to be ready for the unexpected. That's something he'd learned years ago. Experience is the best teacher -- that's what his commanding officer had taught him in corps -- and experience had taught him that "better safe than sorry" was more than just a cliché.

Leaving his lambskin leather driving gloves on, he unfolded his lanky frame, gave his arthritic knee a tough knead and opened the door. He stopped. He contemplated grabbing his umbrella from under the passenger seat; it had been raining since late last night. His knee hurt too much for him to bend over. Plus, it had stopped raining sometime in the last minute or two. He decided to leave the umbrella where it was.

He got out of the car, and eased the door silently shut.

Walking quickly around his ancient yet remarkably unscratched car, he eyed it for any signs of damage. He didn't think his car had been kissed a few moments before, but he loved his old Mercury Zephyr -- it had been with him for over 175,000 miles and 20-plus years -- and had to be sure.

"Fuck," he muttered.

He took two steps and knelt down to get a closer look.

He felt a dull pain in his knee. The recently departed rain had amplified the pain.

He hated getting old.

He gave his knee a thorough rub, promised himself that he'd pick up some scentless Icy Hot later in the day, and refocused.

On the driver side, above the gas tank, a hint of foreign paint was visible, marring the otherwise unblemished two-year-old coat of white he'd polished before he'd embarked on this trip.

He studied the scratch. Paint must have gotten transferred when that other car had sped by, in a rush to who knows where. He wished the damn car had been less generic. He wished he'd seen the license plate. He wished his fucking knee hadn't started betraying him. He knew wishing did nobody any good. So, again, he refocused.

Gloves still on, he ran his hand along the scar. It couldn't have been more than two inches in length, but it bothered him. Like his body, the Zephyr was old, and scars take more time (and money) to heal now than they once did. For the first time in a while, he wished he hadn't said OK to this job. He wished -- no, he knew -- that he would retire after this. He wished the damn paint didn't have to be so red. It really stuck out, like a single rose growing on a white picket fence.

"Fuck," he whispered again, turning away from the scratch and towards the Motel 6’s entrance.

He'd been studying her ways for some time. He'd come close to catching her before, in Nebraska, but he was a little late, and she stalked and pounced her prey -- an elderly couple, seemingly harmless corn farmers -- before he could get there.

Since then, a lot had changed. She still had the advantage, but he was catching up. He had picked up on her predictably unpredictable routine. The motels, the cat, the Anaconda, and the rain. Oh yes, the rain.

Before he had taken on the job, he had heard rumor of a rain maker living in the United States. It was probably a farce, but he prayed it was true. If there was a rain maker, maybe there was a rain unmaker. And he needed to find that celestial being.

The guarantee of no rain was a pleasing one. Rain did things to his well-being that no man could imagine -- intolerable pain in his knee is just the start -- so who could argue with him for wanting to live in a rainless world? Who could argue with him for assuming the existence of a rain maker ensured the existence of rain unmaker? Who could? They could.

They – a collection of loved ones and friends -- they tried to argue. They told him that these beings didn’t really exist, and that even if a rain maker and unmaker existed, why would he assume that one would know the whereabouts of the other? They made a lot of sense, he admitted. So he had forgotten about the whole thing, the rain maker, unmaker and all. He embraced Advil, Icy Hot and the occasional Cortisone shot. Pharmaceuticals were his religion.

Until he found out that she was the One. Not the unmaker, but the Maker. At that point, he was still hunting her for his clients, but he was also after her for him. They needed her hunted to soothe their souls. He needed her to soothe his pain. Of course, chasing her meant constant agony. The closer he got, the greater the rain, the greater the pain.

As close as he had come recently, as much as intel as he had gathered, he still didn't know the W or the H: the Why or the How. Why did she kill? How did she choose her targets?

Even without this knowledge, he knew enough by now to realize that she was good. Very good. And at such a young age, too. If she wasn't already the best, she had the potential to be the best he'd ever seen. But he was good, too. Or, at least he used to be.

In his day, he was actually better than good; he was the best. After years in the corps and on the job, he never failed. Never let a client down. Never let himself down.

But now he was just an old man on his last legs. And one with a damaged body at that. The job had taken a toll on him. But for his sake, for the sake of his client, he hoped he could see this case through to its finish. See this Rain Bitch caught. Or killed.

But not before she pointed him towards the Unmaker.

With his adequate height currently draped in a black polo shirt and too-tight jeans, snow white hair massaging his scalp and barely a hint of a paunch, he was still handsome. Handsome enough that the young lady manning the front desk nervously toyed with her hair as he approached.

His voice was low and had a unique cadence to it. He spoke in short, clipped bursts, like a man on a mission. Not many men like him – distinguished men – came through the motel’s doors. So between giggles and flips of her auburn hair, she answered all his questions. He started to head towards the elevators. She called after him, noticing the limp in his gait as he swiveled around. She said something cute; a nervous shake was audible in her voice. He offered up a wrinkle-free smile, and promised to say bye before he left.

Heart fluttering, she brushed her hair back behind her ear and picked up the magazine she had knocked over earlier. By the time she looked back up, he was gone.

For a man who just charmed a girl many years his junior, he was not especially happy. He did not like to be noticed. He did not want anyone to remember his visit here. Still, her interest in him silenced some of his earlier worries. Maybe he wasn’t as old as he made himself out to be.

“That’s a comforting thought,” he mouthed. “And an absurd one.” Reflexively, he touched his knee and winced.

He walked to the end of the hall and stopped. The room was near the emergency exit. If she had been here – and based on his experience, and the weather, he was fairly certain she had been – this would have been her room.

He held his breath as he jimmied the lock. Unlike most things, he’d gotten better at this as he got older.


The knob went limp, inviting him into the room.

He took a few steps into the room.

The darkness inside enveloped him. He embraced it. And it returned the embrace.

He ventured further inside.

Gray cat hair was all over. The mirror in the bathroom still showed slight signs of steam. The towel folded near the bed was wet.

She had been here. And recently.

He was on closing in on her.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chapter 2

Hello adoring fans! It's been a while, I know, but here I am again, back and ready to rumble. Following up on Dale's post, here is the second installment in the Reverse Book Club (I'm not sure what is 'reverse' about it. It is more like Book Club: But Not in the Way You'd Think) written by yours truly.

Hope you enjoy,

Chapter 2: The Question

The joke was an attempt to regain her footing. A failed attempt, but an attempt nonetheless. Before Driftwood brought the card to her, before she even saw the name, she heard the voice asking her again: “Do you enjoy killing people?” This threw her off. Residual memories from her last kill were not something that she was used to. Residual memories from just about everything else – faces, snippets of conversation, lines from old movies and books – were quite frequent. But those were from before. A line from an assignment was a first. Once it was finished, once she left the site, it was done. If anything, it provided a sense of closure.

Still, the girl’s words – her voice calm and collected and her piercing blue eyes staring unflinchingly into The Rainmaker’s – were something that for whatever reason, she could not shake right now. This was a question that she has never once asked herself since she first killed a man at age twelve. It’s not that she was avoiding the question, but enjoying something would require certain emotions and she lost those emotions a long time ago. Besides, it wasn’t about enjoyment. It was what about what she needed to do.

This wasn’t the first time that a target said something to her before she pulled the trigger. Hell, this wasn’t the first time that one of them asked her a question. But usually they would ask things like “Why me?” or “Who would want to do this to me?” These were questions that The Rainmaker never thought twice about, because their understanding didn’t really matter. All that matters is that she does what she needs to do. Does the only thing she knows. And what she knows is this: she waits in the motel for the card, tracks down her target, dispatches them, and waits for the next card.

The motels had been her idea. Before she leaves for a job, she reserves room 17 in the closest Motel 6 to the target. 6 for the rain that falls in fat drops that feel like spit, 17 for those warm sun showers that are frequent in the month of May. They have provided her with an apartment, but she can’t remember the last time she was there. She likes the idea of staying in a place that will be turned over and reused by countless people once she is gone. She likes that there is no trace of her presence left behind. Especially when she has seen what the alternative can mean.

She tries to recall the girl’s name, but she knows it is useless. For some reason, the eyes and voice linger in her memory, but the name is long gone. What possessed the girl to ask her that question? She was going to die in a matter of seconds. Rain is puzzled by this. Trying to focus on something else, she flexes the card absentmindedly between her thumb and her index finger. Reaching for the drawer with her free hand, she extracts the gun by the well worn wooden handle. Her fingers run along the barrel, tracing the letters along the side: C-O-L-T A-N-A-C-O-N-D-A. She flips open the cylinder and checks the bullets. She knows that there are five bullets in there, because she knows that she loaded all of the chambers before her last kill, and she only used one bullet. She always only uses one bullet. Still, she welcomes the diversion.

She places the gun back in the drawer and gets out of bed. As she stretches her arms over her head, she catches a glimpse of the scar that runs under her left breast. Rain used to stare at this scar for hours, letting the memories rush in like a flood, but once she began to develop, the scar began to disappear from sight, and shortly thereafter, from mind. She enters the bathroom and turns the hot water in the shower on as high as it goes. Satisfied with the temperature, she steps into the tub and lets the steaming water envelop her.

Water coming from the showerhead doesn’t remind her of any type of rain. The stream falling down on her head is both the most easily controlled and the one she least cares for. Because it is not the same. It is cheating, really. A matter of reservoirs, water tanks, and plumbing. What she does to the skies is a different matter altogether. She can’t explain it any better than anyone else, but she does know that it hasn’t always been this way. The rain started falling around the same time that she got the scar. The legend began to grow soon thereafter, but as is the case with most legends, hers is more fiction than fact.

Stories went around about her being born during the worst storm in decades, of her mother dying in childbirth after being struck by a lightning bolt, her father being a direct descendant of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain. Of course none of these stories were true, but she rather liked the name they had given her: The Rainmaker, so she let them believe what they wanted to and that was that. There was nothing left of her old life, so she was more than happy to become the person that they made her out to be.

But the girl saw something else. She wasn’t intimidated by “The Rainmaker” or the gigantic, menacing gun pointed squarely between her eyes. She was calm and collected, and she treated Rain like she was the one who had something to answer for. Or did she? Rain wasn’t sure anymore. Maybe she was imagining things, or misremembering. And why did she care so much in any case? Their paths converged because her name was on the card and this meant that Rain needed get rid of her. Nothing more, nothing less.

She forces her eyes shut even tighter, trying to recall the name, trying to make some sense of what she was going on in her head, even though every fiber of her body was willing her mind in the opposite direction. The water scalds her body, searing white-hot pain with each bead that splashes against her pale skin. She reaches forward, turning the hot water off and the cold water all the way on. The frigid water assaults her body and mind – an attempt to jog loose the long deleted memory – but nothing comes.

She hears a scratching on the bathroom door. Driftwood clawing at the wood. Rain snaps out of her rumination and turns the water off. She steps out of the tub and takes down one of the neatly folded white towels from the rack above the toilet. She dries herself off, moving the towel slowly over every inch of her body before wrapping it around herself and pulling her dark hair into a tight bun. When she steps back into the bedroom, her cat is perched on the night table pawing at the chain hanging down from the lamp. Driftwood looks up from his new toy and watches as his owner makes her way to the folded clothing on the chair.

Once dressed, Rain proceeds to her morning workout routine. As she begins doing pushups on the worn out carpet, she listens for the rain and is surprised to hear #55; the intermittent heavy rain that fools you into thinking it has stopped before picking up again right as you put your umbrella away. She finishes her set and lies back on the bed, breathing heavily. Driftwood glides over to her and sits on her chest, rising and falling with each of her breaths. This is one of his favorite activities, and Rain is more than happy to oblige. As she tries to catch her breath, the girl’s question creeps in again, forcing her to sit up. Driftwood is none too pleased, but Rain begins to scratch his belly absentmindedly, and he purrs his gratitude.

Rain picks the card up again, and studies the details. Jerry Marston. South Haverbrook. Connecticut. These are things she can focus on. Concrete things. Things that are in front of her. She takes a deep breath and pushes the voice out of her head. It is time to go. She sits up and walks to the night table where she opens the drawer and extracts the gun, leaving the bible behind for someone who still has a chance to be saved. Putting the gun underneath the waistband of her jeans, she heads for the door and steps out into the downpour. She pulls the door shut, careful not to close it on the cat’s tail.

As she walks through the parking lot, the water drips down her face, splitting down the sides of her aquiline nose. In the rain, it is evident that she is beautiful. Fragilely so, tall and fair with a large forehead and deep-set, almost black eyes. Through those eyes, she sees the car that will get her out of here. It is an unassuming car. A red Honda Accord, maybe four years old, but she knows that the door is unlocked and that the car is well maintained, so she walks over to it and gets in. She fiddles with the wires underneath the steering harness and the engine quickly roars to life. She rolls down the passenger window and Driftwood jumps in. Putting the car in gear, she heads out onto the busy street where the traffic is making its way through rain #22, calculating her options of how to best get to Connecticut.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reverse book club & Chapter 1

So three friends, Wes, and I decided to write a book together, but not in the usual way. The notion is this: One person writes the first chapter and then passes it along with no other explanation to the second. The second reads the first chapter, imagines what a full book would be, and then writes the second chapter and gives it to the third. The third then to the fourth. The fourth then to the fifth. And then the fifth back to the first and the cycle begins anew. At no point do the five of us discuss where the book is going. The only guidance we can give is what we put in the actual chapter. The book has no title yet, but this is the opening chapter, written by me (I apologize in advance for the disastrous spacing, it's some sort of blogspot quirk).

Chapter one: A phone full of pigeons


Damn phone. I’d been dreaming, and it was pleasant. It was one of those dreams that are almost entirely memories, but have one or two fantastical elements. Adeline and I were at the park describing cloud shapes, trying, not to be accurate, but to be as ridiculous as possible – the Milky Way! Octopus giving birth! Duck! (Whereupon she threw a handful of grass at my head) – except in the dream the clouds were near perfect representations of our absurd designations.


I’m tempted to let it ring and just go back to sleep, but I won’t get that dream back. It’s gone, just like Adeline. I’m also curious who would be calling me at 7:25 in the morning.

Still nothing.
“Hello? Is there anyone there?” I say slowly, trying to enunciate as clearly as possible, not that it’s likely someone didn’t understand the way I said hello, but you never know.

Not quite nothing. Within the almost-nothing I faintly hear something. It kind of sounds like scratching, but softer. The noise makes me a bit uneasy so I don’t want to hang up without figuring out what it is.

“Hello? Is everything ok?”

The soft scratching from the other end has picked up it’s pace a little bit, but I still can’t tell exactly what it is. Fluttering?

“Are you in trouble? Do you need help?”

The sound is becoming more distinct though it is still barely audible. There is something oddly familiar about it, something compelling as well. I feel myself drawn to the sound.

Fwoosh, fwoosh, fwoosh.

I feel like I should recognize the sound. I sit up in bed, press the phone hard to my ear and put my finger in the other one. I fix my face into an almost cartoonishly exaggerated focus expression. The sound is still there, quiet, constant, almost relaxing. Calling out, reaching out to me. Trying to send me a message, perhaps. But what message?

Fwoosh fwoosh fwoosh.

It kind of sounds like one of those tapes people buy to help themselves get to sleep. Calming ocean sounds or the like. Could it just be one of those? No. Who would wake me up just to play me music that’s supposed to help me go to sleep? Besides, it’s too discordant. It sounds like it should be relaxing but it’s actually unnerving. The fwooshes are too close together, too out of rhythm, too on top of each other.

I close my eyes. Trying to picture what the sound could be. The fwooshing fills my head, flying circles around my brain. Flying? Could it be birds? It does kind of sound like wings pushing against air. I try to focus even more intently on the sound and let it fill my brain.

I see myself now in the middle of a room filled with pigeons. I’m in a bookstore – my bookstore – and the pigeons are everywhere. Dozens of them perched on shelves and ladders, while a few more pace back and forth on the counter next to the register. The air above this scene is a blur of gray as the pigeons fly in a figure eight pattern overhead, their feathers occasionally catching the light and glinting purple or green. I’m taking this all in when then the room abruptly clicks out of existence. I am now just sitting up in bed with my eyes closed.

The line has gone dead. I lie back down since I don’t need to open the store for three and a half hours. What an odd phone call.

It’s 4:30 in the morning in an unidentified town on the west coast of the United States. It’s raining, and has been for several days. The current rain is the type that doesn’t seem hard when you look at it, but if you spend half a minute out in it you find yourself soaked to the bone. This is the 267th type of rain and she thinks it’s one of the worst, right up there with heavy misting – the 134th type – which can’t be blocked by a hood or umbrella.

It’s still dark and none of the lights in the motel are on. The woman is lying naked on the bed, eyes open, staring at the ceiling. Her breasts rise and fall with her breathing, the rest of her long lithe body motionless on top of the covers. A gray cat with white feet is nestled up against her, unperturbed by her sleeplessness or the rain. The cat is sleeping, it’s breathing, slow and regular as the tide outside the window. The cat’s collar, green with silver lettering – Driftwood – is on the bedside table next to a clock blinking 12:00 in bright red numerals.

She isn’t sure when she fell asleep, but she doesn’t feel tired now. She knows she laid down slightly before eleven with the lights off and the rain – then a heaving, threatening thing, #11 – pounding away outside. At some point she must have slipped into sleep, but the line between asleep and awake is so blurry for her she can’t tell when exactly it happened.

The sound of the rain, like television fuzz at low volume, is almost tangible around her, and it fills the room. She is trying to remember the lines of a poem, but she can only remember the end - adrift in a sea of apathy, I wait for rescue – recalling the rest seems important for some reason, but nothing comes to her. Unable to remember the lines she tries to think who wrote it, but once more draws a blank. It bothers her to have this one line stuck in her head, taunting her, reminding her that there is so much she doesn’t remember or understand about what’s going on.

It’s past ten when I finally get out of bed, my sleeping head filled with pigeons. I look outside, hoping to finally see a sky burdened with dark gray clouds like an occupying army, a clear indication of a massive and dangerous storm on the way, but it’s another perfect day – 72, sunny, blue sky highlighted by bright white clouds. Adeline’s been gone for twenty-nine days and Mother Nature refuses to acknowledge it; every day has been a shining example of South Haverbrook’s finest spring weather – the best Connecticut has to offer.

I decide to bike to the store – I may not like that the weather has been so nice, but I’m not too dumb to take advantage of it. There’s something uniquely calming about biking along the shore, watching the waves brush against the rocks below me. I can almost feel the tranquility wash over me. I bike slowly and get to the store with about an hour to get things ready for opening. When I open the door, a pigeon walks out and I realize I’m going to need a lot more time. The store is covered with feathers and pigeon mess.

I go into the back office to call the police.

“Onatonga County, Sheriffs department, this is Marcy, how can I help you?”
“Hi. My name is Jerry Marston, I own the bookstore out on Gavin drive, and hmm… let’s see… I don’t really know exactly how to explain this, but it seems that in the middle of the night my store was filled with pigeons and you know how pigeons are, so now my store is filled with feathers and pigeon mess”
“Hold on. I’ll connect you to pest and wildlife control.”
“Pest and Wildlife control, this is Dennis how can I help you?”
“I don’t think you can. I called the police because I feel like a crime has taken place in my store.”
“Then why did they connect you to us?”
“Because the crime involved pigeons”
“Hmm. I see, are the pigeons still at the scene of the crime, because if they are we could send someone out to control them for you?”
“No there, all gone. All I have now is feathers and pigeon mess.”
“Hold on, I’ll transfer you to the sanitation department.”
“Sanitation, this is Bill, whatcha’ need”
"I’m sorry Bill, I’m going to hang up on you. Have a good day.”

Deciding that the police probably couldn’t get to the bottom of this anyway I set out cleaning the store.

It’s 8:00 am in the unidentified western coast town and still raining. The sun is blanketed in a thick swath of cloud, and doesn’t seem to be putting much effort into breaking past. The rain has shifted to a spastic driving rain – #36 – where it falls heavy then light, heavy then light on and on.

Inside the motel the woman still lies naked and awake on the bed, Driftwood calmly sleeping at her side. Her clothes are folded neatly and stacked on a chair. She only has one outfit and no suitcase. She has only six other possessions: a Colt Anaconda .44 Magnum revolver and the five bullets within it. At present the gun’s eight-inch barrel is resting alongside the bible in the bedside drawer. Thinking about that makes her smile.

There are footsteps in the hall outside, heavy, purposeful steps. Each footfall bringing the person closer to her door. From the sound of it she can tell that the man is big – between 250 and 280 pounds – and evenly distributed. His walk is stiff so she can tell that he is wearing a suit. She didn’t need to hear that though, they always wear suits. The steps stop in front of her room, toes pointing towards the door. A crinkle of fabric, like the sound of a hand in a pocket is followed by the sound of a man in a suit bending over. A card slides under the door. The feet turn and walk away.

A few minutes pass, the rain changes subtly – #37 now – and Driftwood, gets up, walks over to the door and picks up the card in his mouth without any difficulty, as if he’s done this a hundred times before. He slinks back on to the bed and drops the card on the woman’s chest, purring lightly. The woman absently strokes his head, paying special attention to his ears, without looking at him, her eyes still on the ceiling. His purring lowers into a gentle rumbling of content. She lets out a sigh and picks up the card.

Jerry Marston,
South Haverbrook, Connecticut

“Well Driftwood, I guess we’re heading east. I wonder if it’s raining there.” She say’s with a laugh.


Monday, February 15, 2010


This isn't really a story, but I am working on something bigger an unfortunate side effect of which is that I really haven't had time to work on short stories. What I am about to post basically just happened in a chat between me and Wes a little while ago and I decided it was fun enough to post. Especially since no one reads this.


You're in the office late stuffing envelopes with holiday cards.
Thousands of holiday cards.
The dust, like clouds, forms vague images as it floats through the air.
A duck, a hammer, a hand putting a letter in an envelope.
You're being mocked by dust.
You stuff envelopes.
Your lamp is on and the moon is beaming full through the window.
A trapezoid of pale light is splayed across your desk, spilling over the edges and onto the floor.
The only sounds are paper crinkling in your hands

cards fwooshing into the envelopes

your dry tongue sliding across and priming the glue.

Occasionally there is a muted honk from outside
maybe a yell - someone hailing a cab.

You stuff envelopes.

There is a ringing sound.
It sounds like a phone from the 1950's.

You try and ignore it.

You stuff envelopes.








Was that ring longer than the others?

It certainly seemed longer.

Definitely longer.
You stop stuffing envelopes.
You get up to investigate
the carpet muffling your footsteps
the office quieter now than before


except for the ear splitting 1950's phone ring.

You locate the phone in an office at the end of the hall.

Why is there a phone from the 1950's in your office?

You ponder the phone as the dust dances around it.
A grandfather clock, a smile, the letter R


You pick it up.

On the other end of the line a man speaks

his voice is monotone, unending

you dont recognize the language

it's not gibberish, you can detect the rhythms that indicate language.

It almost sounds like English
but you've never heard this language before.

It seems like he’s been talking for a while

there are strange echoes and warbles in the sound

he doesnt seem to breathe

thinking about it now you realize you haven't breathed in a while either

the whole time you've been listening you haven't taken one breath

something about that doesn't feel right

you inhale

water fills your nostrils

that doesn't feel right either


looking around your entire office is submerged
that’s definitely not right

you swim back to your desk

your panic subsiding because obviously you should already be dead and your not

now you're just confused

a fish swims by wearing a porkpie hat
NOW you're just confused

you stuff a few envelopes
you're not even sure their is a post office under the sea so you stop

you look at the envelope box

warning: licking envelopes may cause hallucinations

Sunday, July 26, 2009

updates coming... eventually


So I know the site doesn't update much, and I know that's my fault, but I am working on something very big, and very different (for me at least) so it will probably take me a while. Rest assured as soon as it is ready enough to be here for all of the no one who comes here to read it will be. I'll also try and put up some smaller stuff if I create anything of quality in the mean time.

As always thanks,

-dale (one step closer to Oprah)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Emerald Butterfly

This story is something that has been brewing in my mind for a really long time. I would say I thought of the basic story 6 or 7 years ago. I first wrote it down 3 years ago and since then it's gone through countless changes. I think it's significantly stronger now than it was then and I hope that in the coming months - and who knows, maybe even years - it will get even stronger. I am going to post the story now, despite its unfinishedness, just so that the land will not lay fallow for so long.

enjoy and as always comments welcome.

Emerald Butterfly

In the beginning everything is white. Blinding light surrounds me, an intense ethereal glowing, as if you tried to photograph the sun with a five second exposure. There is a faint swishing noise behind me, like curtains blowing in the wind.

I turn around and see a radiant green butterfly fluttering in circles, full of seemingly boundless energy, leaving a brilliant emerald wake. It flies in dizzying patterns in front of me, weaving a luminescent tapestry, trying to impress me. As I stare the glow begins to fade, and the world comes into view.

It is midday and clear. The sun is directly overhead, an ever-present flash bulb. There is a soft breeze. The butterfly is excitedly circling a girl who has been in my dreams for years. She is standing in a long white dress with her back to me, her flaming red hair billowing gently in the wind, a tranquil fire rising from her shoulders. She turns her head slightly as the butterfly lands on her left shoulder.

She is now looking directly at me, unblinking. Her jade eyes mirror the emerald wings of the butterfly perched on her shoulder and framed by her blazing hair. She smiles at me, and for a moment I feel perfectly content – there is no where I would rather be.

I try to walk towards her, but I don’t seem to move. I try, but I can't remember how to run. The effort is draining. My body begins to grow weary and I fall to the ground breathing heavily.

The world around me begins to collapse into itself. The light breeze has become a hurricane wind and everything is being sucked out. In just a few moments everything disappears and I am once again alone in whiteness.
“Find me” echoes through the emptiness.

I wake up covered in sweat and tangled in my blanket. That was the fifth time. The light filtering through my blinds in vertical streaks makes my room look like a prison cell. The messiness doesn’t help. I haven’t cleaned it since Jolene dumped me a month ago. It could be the headlining photograph in a new gallery – Solitary Confinement – except I haven’t done any work since she left either. I grab three bottles off my nightstand, each containing some form of pill-shaped happiness. I have been taking the pills for so long now I no longer think about it. Even without water they go down easily.

I stare at the ceiling for about half an hour debating whether I should get out of bed or just sleep forever. I’m not sure if the argument ended because one side mentioned pancakes or because the medication started to kick in, but either way I was out of bed and on my way to the kitchen.

My roommate, Brian, is already sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and munching on a bowl of Apple Jacks. “Ood Orning” he says, his mouth full of cereal, his eyes never leaving the paper. I nod as a response, which I do pretty much everyday since I know it annoys him.

“I had the craziest dream last night,” he says to me, his mouth no longer full.

“…” I look at him expectantly.

“We were at O’Callaghan’s, but it wasn’t really O’Callaghan’s it was just a bar and it looked nothing like O’Callaghan’s but in the dream it was O’Callaghan’s and I knew it, you know. Anyway, we were at this bar, which is and isn’t O’Callaghan’s bar and we were playing pool with a bunch of – shit I don’t know if I should say this out loud, but what the hell – we were playing pool with a bunch of thirteen-year-old girls who were dressed like pirates – not regular pirates either, some kind of really skanky band of pirates.”

(One eyebrow raised)

“Don’t judge me.”

“I’m not.” (Eyebrow still raised) “Just continue.”

“Anyway they were unbelievable at pool, apparently they play pool on their pirate ship, which made sense to me at the time, but thinking about it now it seems very unlikely ‘cause how would a ship be stable enough to play pool on, unless they had some sort of gyroscopic balancing device… whatever it doesn’t matter. So they were really good at pool and I was really sucking, which I guess is pretty close to reality, but you, you were fucking dominating. I can’t remember what the stakes of the game were, but I know they were really intense so it was a good thing you were playing the best pool of your life. And then out of nowhere, Jolene shows up and she is the leader of this band of thirteen-year-old pirate skanks.”

“Then what happened?”

“I woke up, came in here, and poured myself some Apple Jacks. Pretty fucked up, no?”

“Pretty? Dude, I could have you committed for that dream.”


“I had a dream last night too, I’ve actually had it a bunch of times.”

(Expectant look)

I tell him the dream.

“Jolene doesn’t have red hair.”

“It’s not Jolene.”

“Well then who is it? I mean I’ve never seen you even talk to a girl other than Jolene.”

“Well that’s the crazy part, I mean I’m not sure about this, but I think it’s this girl from Meadowbrook”

“From camp? You had a dream about a girl from camp?”

“I think so”

“But, you didn’t know any girls at camp.”

“Well not publicly.”

(One eyebrow raised)

“I never told anyone about Daphne.”

“A red headed girl named Daphne? Did she ride around in a van and solve mysteries with a talking dog?”

“Well we were only thirteen at the time, so I don’t think she had started working for Mystery Inc., but who knows, it would be an interesting career choice.”

“Ah, so I wasn’t the only one dreaming of thirteen-year-old girls!”

“No, you were. In the dream she was our age or maybe a little younger, like early twenties or something.”

“Damn. So tell me about this girl, this Daphne.”

I have never told anyone about Daphne, never even mentioned her to anyone, but Brian is my best friend so I guess I can tell him.

“Well, as you might recall I was not very popular at that time.”

“You were a nerd.”

“I guess you could say that.”

“I did say that.”

“Anyway, I was having a very hard time at camp. I was not making friends, even you weren’t friends with me at the time.”

“You were a nerd.”

“I think we covered that already. Let me tell this story. So I was having a very hard time. I was really depressed and lonely and I didn’t enjoy any of the activities either.”

“That’s cause you were a nerd.”

(Glaring.) Maybe I shouldn’t tell him.

“Sorry… Go on.”

“So anyway, I was really upset and basically just miserable. So at night I used to climb out the broken screen window over my bed and wander around. Just looking for a good place to be alone, just to sit and not be bothered.


“It wasn’t your fault. So remember the night of the talent show? When the counselors did that song, and there was a line about each of the campers?”

“Yeah, that was hilarious.”

“It wasn’t for me. You might remember that the chorus was just them making fun of me repeatedly.”

Brian is looking at his feet. I can tell he feels bad, even though it’s been so many years and it wasn’t anything he did.

“So that night was probably the worst night I had had in the camp. And so I went out to this particularly nice clearing, by the upper tennis courts, where the moon would come through and there was a great view of the stars. And I was sitting there, thinking about how great it would be to be liked, to have friends, a girlfriend, when I saw a butterfly glinting in the moonlight. In the reflective light it appeared to be green, but it could have been any color.”

“The butterfly from the dream?”

“Is that a serious question? Yes, obviously the butterfly from the dream.”


“So anyway, I followed it for a while as it flew along a creek. It was a distraction, it gave me something else to focus on. I even tried catching it, but I could never get close to it.”

“But, wait a second, I thought butterflies don’t go out at night?”

“Well I thought so too, even at the time I thought it was odd, which is probably why I followed it. And after following it for a while I came to another small clearing. This clearing was less well lit, because the moon was obscured by some branches, which actually gave a very cool dark-green shading to everything – something you might do with Photoshop. And there she was. Sitting on the ground under a tree crying. The butterfly, who had been flying away from me the whole time immediately flew over to her and landed on her shoulder, and I just sort of stood there.”

“Did you say anything?”

“Well after about a minute or so I asked her if she was okay, which was a pretty stupid question because she was obviously not okay. So she looked at me, for a few seconds with these huge eyes and I felt like she was just sizing me up entirely, like when she was done looking she would know everything about me. I won’t pretend I wasn’t creeped out. It was eerie, but it was beautiful. And then she just said, ‘I am fine now, thanks.’ Then I went over to her and sat next to her and we talked for a while.”

“Did you see her again?”

“Yeah, we met in that spot five or six more times over the course of the summer.”

“Oooh. Romantic.”

“Actually, yeah. We even carved our names into a tree.”

“No way. With the heart and everything?”

“No it was a butterfly.”

“You’re such a fag.”

“We were thirteen.”

“Still. Anyway, what happened to her?”

“I don’t really know.”

"Didn’t you ever try to find her again?”

“I assumed she would be at camp the next year and so I went to the clearing a few times in the first week, but she was never there. And at this point I was doing a lot better at camp, I had already made a couple of friends and was actually enjoying camp, so I just stopped looking for her.”


“But, I figure Jolene has been gone for a while and finding Daphne might help me get over her.”

“I’m sorry. What?”

I can see that Brian is skeptical – can I blame him? – but I’m sure I can convince him.
“I know it’s crazy, but I’ve had this dream like five times already. I just feel like I need to do something.”

“How, exactly, do you plan on doing this?”

“I don’t know. I was hoping maybe you would have an idea.”

“She could be anywhere. She may not like you. She could be a figment of your imagination. She could be married. She could be dead! There are millions of possibilities here.”

“Does that mean you won’t help me? It’ll be good for both of us. I can use it as an opportunity to take some photos, maybe put together a new gallery, and you can do some writing or something.”

“… Fine, I’ll help.”

There is an awkward silence followed by the rejection of some incredibly dumb ideas – “How about a hit man? They can find anyone!” – and the realization that a private eye is out of our price range.

“Well we could try the Internet,” I suggest.

“Why? Is there a chance she became a porn star?”

“The internet isn’t only for porn.”

“It is for me.”

“You’re ridiculous. There are all these really shady stalkeresque websites where you can find like old high school classmates and stuff. I bet we’ll be able to find her with that.”

“Well if she became a porn star I’d probably already know about it anyway, so I guess we could try one of those websites. To the Darkroom!”

“After pancakes.”

When Brian and I were first looking for apartments together, it was important to me that there be an extra room that I could use as a darkroom. Fresh out of college I harbored my professors’ antiquated notions about digital photography, and felt that a true photo-artist needed to be working with film. This was stupid. Within three months I made the switch to digital photography – a switch that earned me my first show – and the darkroom was converted to a digital photo lab, essentially a room with a computer in it. Brian still called it “the darkroom,” to mock me for insisting that we have it.

Google.com. Search. Daphne Carrol. Click Search. 69,600 results. That’s not helpful at all.

Google.com. Search. Find a person. Click Search. 254,000,000 results. Yellow pages at switchboard.com. Click Find a Person. Name: Daphne Carrol State: unknown. Click Search.

Please Enter a State.

“What should I do, it requires a state?”

“Well let’s just try New York.”


Name: Daphne Carrol State: New York.

104 results.


“How are we going to do this?”

“Can we filter for age?”

“Not on this website.”

Google.com. Search. Find a person. Click Search. 254,000,000 results. Find-a-Person at Peoplefinder.com. Sounds promising. Name: Daphne Carrol. Age: 24. Click Search.

Please Enter a State.

Name: Daphne Carrol. Age: 24. State: New York. Click Search.

5 results. Two are 23, one is 24, one is 25, and one is 74. Can’t explain that one.

“Which one should we check first?”

“Start with the 23 year olds.”

Click Daphne Carrol.

Would you like to buy: Comprehensive background report ($39.95), Criminal record ($19.95), 24-hour people finder limited report membership ($25.00). Click 24-hour people finder limited report membership. Enter Credit Card information.

Welcome to Peoplefinder.com America’s #1 people finding website, please enjoy your 24-hour membership.

“What if she doesn’t live in America?”

“We’ll cross that bridge if we get there.”

Click Daphne Carrol.

Name Daphne Y. Carrol. Address: 33 Birchall dr, Fishkill, NY, 12524. Phone: (845) 867 5309. Education: BA in Physics, University of Vermont.

“This thing is scary.” I am genuinely freaked out by how easy this is.

“Just call her.”

The phone barely rings once before she picks it up.


I’m in a daze. Could this be Daphne?


I still can’t say anything. If it is her, what do I say? Will she remember me? What if she doesn’t? What if she thinks I’m creepy? So many questions race through my mind.

“Is there anybody there?”


“What happened?”

“I got flustered and hung up.”

“So call her back, and this time don’t be such a fucking pussy.”

Again she picks it up in the middle of the first ring.

“Hello?” She sounds irritated. Would Daphne get irritated so quickly?

“Um, Hi… I’m looking for Daphne Carrol.”

“Speaking, who is this?” She is chewing gum while talking on the phone and it is irritating me. Would Daphne chew gum on the phone?

“Okay, so my name is Dustin Ogden and I was wondering, did you go to Meadowbrook as a kid?”

“Who?” The gum chewing is becoming almost unbearable.

“Dustin Ogden.”

“Did I do what?” Smack Smack Smack is pretty much all I hear her say.

“Did you go to Meadowbrook? It’s a camp upstate.”

“I didn’t go to

Click. It wasn’t her, I knew it couldn’t be her, Daphne would never be that unbearable. I try the other three possible Daphnes, leaving out the geriatric, with similarly disappointing results, though thankfully none of them were chewing gum.

Then I try looking for Daphne Carrols in New Jersey, then Massachusetts, then Delaware, and then the rest of the states. Then I try alternate spellings, Dafne, Carol, Carroll, Caroll, among others. I make almost a hundred phone calls to women in their early twenties named Daphne Carrol or some variation and not one of the women I call went to Meadowbrook.

Over the next week I spend all my time in the darkroom. It is all I think about. I try dozens of websites, from Zabasearch to Anywho. The search drives me day in and day out. I no longer need the pills to get out of bed. I have purpose. But the search isn’t going well. Each small success – a new age appropriate Daphne and the hope that comes with it – is ultimately a major failure.

For all I know she could be dead.

Google.com. Search. Obituaries. Click Search. 44,200,000 results. Online Obituaries at eons.com. Click Find a Person. Name: Daphne Carrol Date Range: unknown. Click Search.

Please enter a date range.

Name: Daphne Carrol Date Range: 10 years

26 results. A quick glance eliminates all but two of the Daphnes on age issues alone. Of the remaining two only one even remotely resembles the Daphne of my memory, but according to her obituary she spent her summers in South Carolina.

A feeling of relief runs through me. She isn’t dead.

“Why do you think she wouldn’t come up on People Finder if she isn’t dead Brian?”

“I don’t know, maybe she isn’t real.”

“Maybe the system isn’t perfect.”

“Try looking for yourself.”


“Well if it doesn’t have you, then you know it’s not perfect and you need to try another method.”
Peoplefinder.com. Name: Dustin Ogden. Age: 24. State: New York. Click Search.

4 results. None of them me. I can’t believe I paid 25 dollars for this.

My hope is restored.

“I wasn’t there!”


“Now what?”

“We could hire a hitman?”

“Do you think the camp used to keep records?”

“Shit, I feel like an idiot. How did we not think to call the camp and ask them for records?”

“Hello. Meadowbrook summer camp. Mrs. Levitt speaking.”

The name brings back a rush of memories. Mrs. Levitt was a sweet old lady. I remember she used to keep a bowl of watermelon Jolly Ranchers on her desk that always seemed to be full. In the later years Brian and I used to sneak into the office at night and eat ourselves sick. “Yeah hi, this is Dustin Ogden. I doubt you remember me, but I was a camper there ten years ago.”

“Of course I remember,” she says with a laugh. “You were such a little hellraiser. You and you’re little friend Brian used to pinch all my candy at night. How are you?”

I chuckle. The memory, actually makes me smile. “Would you believe Brian and I actually live together now? And we buy all our own candy.”

(Laughing) “How can I help you hon?”

“Well I was wondering if you could give me information on another camper, Daphne Carrol?”

“I’m sorry hon, we’re not allowed to give out records for security reasons.”

They have the records! “Please. It’s very important.”

“I’m sorry hon there’s nothing I can do, we’re not allowed to give those out except to relatives.”

“Oh, did I not mention that I am her cousin?”

“Nice try.”

“Damn. Well thanks anyway.”

“So nice to hear from you. You have a great day now.”

We used to break into that office all the time. I can’t imagine it’s gotten anymore difficult in the past ten years. Maybe if we’re lucky, Mrs. Levitt will still have a full bowl of candy on her desk.
“Brian, pack your things, we’re going to summer camp.”

The drive to Meadowbrook is a long and scenic one, the type of drive Jolene would have enjoyed. According to Mapquest all we have to do is take 87 north forever and we’ll eventually arrive at the exit for camp Meadowbrook. So we pack up the car – a couple juice boxes, some sandwiches and a crowbar, just in case – and get on 87 north.

It is five o’clock in the afternoon and I’ve been behind the wheel for nearly four hours. Brian is passed out in the passenger seat. The trees up here are so tall and close together I can no longer see the sun, despite the fact that it will still officially be day for a few more hours. In this light I can barely make out the street signs. I am getting very tired, so I wake Brian up and we switch drivers.

Everything is white, an intense ethereal glowing, curtains are blowing in the wind. I turn around and once more the butterfly is weaving its magnificent luminescent tapestry. As I stare the glow begins to fade, and the world comes into view. I am standing in an unlit office. A streetlight outside casts long shadows through the window to my right. The butterfly is excitedly circling in front of the second door in the hallway. Slowly I approach it and turn the knob. Within the door is the clearing. I see the rock where she cried that first night, the tree where we carved our names in a butterfly, and a large white filing cabinet. I open the cabinet and see that there is only one file. The butterfly lands gently on the nametag, illuminating it in a faint green glow: Dustin Ogden.

I wake with a start.

“You ok?”

“Yeah, just tired. Let's eat.”

“We’re almost there.”

As I eat my sandwich I try to snap out of my dream state, my mind still feels foggy. Within half an hour we pass the sign for the town of Meadowbrook – we stop to take pictures. Only a few more minutes until we arrive at the camp.

We arrive at a quarter to seven, and make our way towards the office. We leave the crowbar in the car, something about it makes us feel wrong – it’s one thing to break into the office like we used to as kids, its another to use a crowbar to bust a lock. It doesn’t matter. Getting in proves to be as easy as ever since the door is unlocked.

The only light in the office is coming from a lamppost just outside the front windows. Brian and I are both afraid to turn on the light, so we stand in the unlit office and wait for our eyes to adjust. We are standing in front of Mrs. Levitt’s desk, her bowl full of sucking candies. Behind the desk is a cluster of filing cabinets. There appear to be too few of them for it to be campers, but I decide to check anyway. I remove a folder and carry it over to the window.

“These are employee records.”

We walk down the hallway and arrive at the first door. It is marked Mr. Popkin. Mr. Popkin is the camp owner. It is unlikely that the camper records are in his office, but Brian seems extremely excited at the opportunity to enter this once sacred space. There is only one filing cabinet, definitely not camper records. I assume it is expenses. I step back into the hallway. Brian stays in Popkin’s office, enamored with the trinkets on his desk. The second door does not appear to be marked. I approach it slowly and turn the knob.

Inside I find a windowless room full of filing cabinets. Could these be the camper records? I pull open the drawer closest to the door and with shaking hands grab the first folder. I walk out of the room towards the orange light from the front windows.

Aaronson, Betsy 1973.

I have found the campers. Soon I will find Daphne.

I return to the room and try to estimate where the cabinet for 1993 would be. I pull open a drawer and take a folder at random. Hands still shaking, I walk back to the window.

Bysmark, Jonathan 1992.

Off by one. In moments I will find Daphne. I run back to the room, pull open the next drawer and grab as many envelopes as I can.

I get Brian out of Popkin’s office and together we flip through the newest stack in front of the window.

Campbell, Michelle 1993

Carawack, Jamie 1993

Carraway, Rick 1993

Caruso, Danielle 1993

No Carrol.

How could this be? I run back to the room, turn on the lights and start feverishly going through all the drawers. Maybe she is out of alphabetical order. Maybe it was 1992. Maybe they misfiled her completely. She must be in here. I pull files at random

Frommer, Benjamin 1984

Abernathy, John 1991

Patel, Peter 2003

Brian has already put it together. “Dude, let's go.”

“No. I’m going to find her.”

“No you’re not.”

I look at him. He’s standing in the doorway trying to look compassionate. He can’t figure out how to phrase his next words in a way that won’t hurt me. I don’t give him the chance. I bolt from the room.

I run to our old bunk. Very little has changed. The white paint on the outside of the bunk is still peeling off, the door is still only on two hinges instead of three, and the screen above my old bed is still broken. I stand underneath it and begin walking north, towards the clearing, which I reach in under ten minutes. It takes me a little longer to locate the path to the other clearing because it has been blocked somewhat by branches, and I've also gotten taller in the past ten years. The creek that the butterfly flew along has all but dried up now, making finding the clearing that much more difficult. After some wandering, I arrive at the second clearing.
It is exactly as I remember it. It is as if it has not been occupied since Daphne and I left. I go over to the tree where I first saw her crying all those years ago and sit down. Our names are still carved there, Daphne loves Dustin enclosed in a butterfly. I trace my finger along the names, over an over, until it hurts and I have to stop.

Brian steps into the clearing, and just stands there for a minute.

“Are you ok?”

His presence is coming. “I am now.”

He sits next to me on the ground under the tree.

“Here. I stole some jolly ranchers from Mrs. Levitt’s bowl.”
We both laugh.

In the ensuing weeks, Brian and I work on a narrative-based photo gallery – a first for us. Brian writes the story from my perspective and has me recount the events to him as best I can while I edit the photos – my bedroom as prison, the glowing butterfly as guide, the internet as useless helper. The exhibit is called Emerald Butterfly.

The first picture is of the tree. The trunk is on the left side of the picture, its lowest hanging branches falling around the right, creating a frame around a pervasive darkness. This is the focal point. An emptiness, with presence is an odd thing to imagine, yet there it is. An emptiness so complete that looking at the picture makes you long to fill it. Carved into the side of the tree, moving away from the viewer, two names can be seen, carved years earlier into the bark, enclosed in a rudimentary butterfly. A prayer for the eternal love of its occupants. The photo is called Narcissism.

People mill around the gallery, some take it in proper order – reading the story as they move from picture to picture – others move randomly back and forth – disregarding the narrative. Brian and I make mostly polite conversation with people, tell them about some of the photos or about parts of our account that they find interesting – many people ask about Brian’s dream, which he tells them is a fabrication. It’s not.

The final picture is the only picture that both Brian and I are in. I suggest to people that this is the viewpoint of the imaginary observer as she realizes she is no longer needed. Brian says it’s a tripod. The picture shows the two of us sitting under the tree, laughing. There is a butterfly in the upper corner, its wings a blur, but not glowing. It looks like any other butterfly, and it is.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Prophet

When I originally wrote this story it was supposed to be a graphic novel of sorts. An artist friend and I had begun work on it and had actually created some pretty cool panels, but scheduling became an issue and unfortunately the idea was canned. At the time I really liked the story, but I wasn't sure how well it would work without the illustrations so I shelved it for a while. Recently I decided to write it out fully and I think now it might be stronger than it ever was as a comic. Enjoy.

The Prophet

Let me ask you officer, do you believe in prophecy?

The first thing I notice is the full moon hanging ominously outside the window, just a few inches over a neighboring building. Only after that do I notice the fire. The overwhelming fire, moving like a tiger on the hunt, a blur of orange moving gracefully through the apartment. The fire dances around the room consuming everything in its wake, but there is one thing that is unaffected, a photograph, in a shiny silver picture frame on the coffee table.

It’s a picture of Cindy and me at a carnival; she keeps it on the coffee table in her apartment. It seems impervious to the fire engulfing it. I reach out to grab it, but the fire blocks my way. I try to jump through the flames. I feel my skin burning; I can smell my own flesh. No matter what I do I can’t get a hold of it. Over the sound of the flames I faintly hear sirens.

An axe cleaves the door as I pass out.

That is exactly what I wrote in my dream journal three days ago, Sunday morning, still dripping in sweat from the intensity of the dream. I keep a record of my dreams, because there is no randomness in them; every detail, no matter how small, means something. I started thinking about possible meanings of the dream, though I knew by then that it doesn’t work that way. Dreams are sometimes literal, sometimes metaphorical. You don’t figure out or interpret dreams, you just remember them, and, when the time comes, everything just falls into place and you'll know what to do.

Regardless, the dream haunted my thoughts.

On Monday I was preoccupied at work; I could hardly do my job. Lock picking requires absolute attention and precision and with my mind wandering it was almost an impossible task. My first call that day came from Henrietta Johnson – an old woman who lives over on Christopher street. She has one of these cheap Korean locks that look really impressive but pops open in about a minute when you stick anything in them. On a normal day I could have picked her lock with a toothpick in twenty seconds, but not on that day. Every time I got a pin into place I would lose the previous one, and then when I finally got them all lined up I would fumble the tension wrench and have to start over. It took me nearly half an hour to open the door.

I knew from the full moon in the dream that if there would be a fire it wouldn’t happen until Wednesday, so I decided to close up shop until then. Any one who got locked out of their apartment would just have to wait two days, even if that meant their cats were going to starve. In my apartment I held my copy of the carnival picture and thought about the dream. Try as I might to convince myself that the dream was just a metaphor, I couldn’t shake my feeling of dread. I was concerned for Cindy’s safety; I needed to find out what would happen to cause a fire in her apartment. I knew she would never listen to me if I told her that I saw it in a dream, she hated that stuff.

On Tuesday morning I called her anyway. I didn’t know what else to do. “Hey I’m not home right -” I hung up before the answering machine finished. As the day went on and I was unable to reach her I became more and more uneasy. I looked for her at Old Navy where she works and then at The Great American Health Bar where she generally eats lunch, but she was nowhere to be found. Day became night and my worry continued to grow. I tried calling her again, but again all I got was her voice mail. I knew that there was nothing more I could do, so I tried to sleep. After several hours of sleeplessness I had the dream again.

I couldn’t contact her all day Wednesday, so at about seven o’clock I drove over to her place. There was no elevator in her building, more importantly there was no fire escape, So I walked up five flights to her apartment and knocked on door 5a. There was no answer. I took out my lock pick set and wished I had been wearing my uniform. One of the perks of the uniform is that no one looks twice when you’re kneeling in front of a locked door. Now I had to be quick, I couldn’t be seen breaking in.

I put the tension wrench in place, and inserted my favorite pick into the door. Cindy had an unassuming American lock that told burglars you could probably get through me, but I’m not really hiding anything that great anyway. In truth the average burglar could probably not get through, which is why I had chosen it for her. I heard the last pin move into place with a satisfying click and turned the tension wrench.

I walked in and closed the door behind me. Cindy’s place is a one-bedroom apartment that opens into a small living room with an attached kitchen. I set my tools down on the coffee table next to the silver picture frame. The lights were all on and there was an empty pot on the stove. I checked to see if, perhaps, the burner was on. It was not. I continued to scan the room for possible fire starters.

I walked towards the bedroom to see if perhaps there were scented candles or some other potential fire hazard I could snuff out. When I opened the bedroom door I almost screamed, but I managed to control myself. I silently closed the door, hoping they hadn’t seen me. They hadn’t, how could they? They were too preoccupied. I sat on the couch and looked at the silver picture frame. I was no longer in it. It was a picture of a different couple. Cindy and another man in some undefined place. We hadn’t been apart even a year. I looked out the window; the moon was hanging there just as it had been in my dream.

Everything fell into place. I knew what to do.

Once the fire started, I tried to leave, but the fire had already blocked the door. I saw the fire ferociously consuming the contents of the room. It didn’t have a hint of grace, it was a savage beast uncontrollably devouring everything. The picture in the frame was blackened already. I smiled. As my vision began to blur I could hear sirens in the distance. I passed out as the axe came crashing through the door. They never came out of the bedroom.

So let me ask you again officer, do you believe in prophecy?