If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

My re-kindled love affair...with words.

I once had a dream.
It shone bright and clear.
I followed it
if only briefly.

Some days I remember,
what it was like.
To dream...
To wonder as a child does.

Those dreams,
they push
and they prod
and they also itch.

A dream has patience.
It knows when to sleep
and when to wake.
It also knows when to scream.

The itch never goes away.
It only masks itself,
under layers of confusion.
A wet, woolen blanket of self doubt.

Do you hear the screams?
Do you feel them itching?

The room is dark, the scent of cinnamon and pine linger in the air and tickle my nose.  I can't help but think of Norman Rockwell paintings when I smell the aroma.

Darting in between these is the strong smell of fresh brewed coffee.  Its sharp contrast makes a welcome addition to the Rockwell.

I sit here thinking, "Can I do this again?"  It has been so long.  I miss it dearly.  Baby steps, ironically.

I think I have to.  I believe I have lost my way.  Such grand and important things stole my attention, or so I thought they were. 
Who am I now?
I know what happened and I watched it as it strolled down the sidewalk and I even apologized as it tripped me on the way by.  So gullible.

So here is to the new and upcoming year.  May it be promising and fruitful.  May all of your dreams come true and if they do not let us hope that they at least keep itching.

Here, Kitty Kitty
A short story by J.W. Bushman

I first heard it when I was going down the stairs.  I was six beers into a 12 beer night and so I dismissed it as nothing. 
The next day, head hurting and mouth dry as a cotton patch in Georgia, I trundled down the stairs and again, I heard the noise.  I stopped and my pulse quickened, if only just slightly, which made the blood in my head pound even more at my temples.
"What the heck was that?"
The cat, had to have been the cat.

Later that day I awoke form a much needed nap and I couldn't stop thinking about the noise I heard coming form under the stairs.  After 6 years of living in this house I had never heard anything like it before.  What I had dismissed as the cat, I knew, was not true.

This house and its staircases.  All linked together and zig-zagging their way up and down.  Ugh!  I've been up and down them a million times I think.  I swear I'll buy a Ranch if we ever move again.
All that wasted space under them too. 

I remembered the day we moved in and I opened the door that leads under the stairs.  It's just one of those cheap wooden louvered bi-fold closet doors.  The ones that are always coming off the track and are awful to paint.  A quick glance under the stairs revealed just open space.  A few wires and TV cables were strewn haphazardly across the top and down one of the adjacent interior walls.  I could see the back side of the drywall and the lumber studs.  I distinctly remember laughing at the nails sticking through where the builders had missed the stud when they installed the drywall.
Funny how your mind remembers little things like that.

In the very far back of the closet there was a half full box of leftover laminate flooring.  A mental note was made.  Beyond that the closet made a left turn and went under the first set of the zig zag stairs.  Another mental note was made.  I could shove the stuff we never use back there.

I never did though.  Shove stuff back there.  Maybe I should have.  I don't even know what is back there.  That is where the sound is coming from though.

It was easy to dismiss it as the cat.  His litter box is under those stairs.  It was my attempt to quell the unmistakable smell of kitty litter.  I have an unmistakable hatred for kitty litter and sometimes for the cat who uses it. 

We make it know quite well that we hate each other.  I kick him every chance I get and he bites me when I least expect it.  It seems as though every time the litter gets changed he purposely dumps on the floor just to spite me.  I hate him.  I'm pretty sure he hates me too.  He is a foul smelling wretched beast who belongs in a pit of demons, which I'm pretty sure is where he came from anyways.

It is for just that reason I have never been back under those stairs.  That is his lair.  His dumping grounds and I refuse to enter into the feline outhouse.

But that sound.  I can't get it out of my head.  I've heard it a few more times since then.
Mostly at night.  I awaken, drenched in sweat and I hear it.  A sound that resembles someone or something screaming and chewing at the same time.  My wife does not hear it.  She says I'm crazy and I drink too much.  Sometimes it's the only way I can sleep.  12 beers and a few shots of whiskey keeps the chewing at bay for almost an entire night.

It's getting worse.  I am going to have to look.  Today is the day.  The wife is taking the baby to her Mothers for a visit.  I'll do it then.  That way if I scream, no one will hear it.

It stinks in here.  Not just like kitty litter but like rot.  The nasty rot you smell when the potatoes are left in the cupboard too long and you walk around the house for days trying to figure out where the smell is coming from.  That kind of rot, with meat.

I shove the litter box to the side, I can hear the spilled litter grinding under my slippers.  I should have worn my shoes.  A few year's worth of old coats block the entrance to the back of the closet.  We should have donated them to Goodwill but they smell like litter now.  "I'll burn em," I think to myself. 
Beyond the coats and the piled up Christmas ornaments and old photo albums I spy the leftover laminate flooring.  Still sitting in the exact same spot.  Dust bunnies have taken up residence and reside there in all there cobwebbed glory.

The smell is getting worse.  I pull my shirt up over my mouth and nose.  I can almost taste it.
I have to get down on my knees at this point.  I didn't think to grab a flash light so I use the dim light on the face of my phone.  Crawling across the box of flooring I begin to wiggle my way back into the recess of the first staircase.  The dreaded left turn.  I see a dark shape on the floor.  It looks like a wet spot.  If that damn cat is peeing back here I swear I'll ki........

That's when I saw it.  Before I could even think the last word.  A red glow began to appear in the middle of the wet looking spot and as it got brighter I could see that it wasn't a wet spot but a hole.
Judging by the looks of the ragged edges it seemed to have been chewed through the floor.

Impossible I thought.  That floor is concrete but all the same I was sure it was chewed.

I crawled closer and the closer I got, the brighter the spot became and it began to open.
I can hardly describe it but it was like a mouth.  With those chewed concrete lips and red throat. 
It grew ever slightly bigger with each little wiggle as I edged closer and closer.

I began to sweat and as it trickled down my face it began to itch.  I swiped at the drops and my shirt fell down from around my mouth and nose.  The smell was more than I could bear and I could hear the faint screams and chewing coming from the hole.  I vomited.  Right into it.

I don't remember much after that.  The hole seemed to be chewing at my vomit as it slid down into its depths and the screaming and chewing grew so loud I thought my ears would bleed.

The last thing I remember is that God forsaken cat clawing its way up and out of that hole.  Its limbs were stretched in disproportionate configurations and the skin was pulling away form his face.  The hole wasn't quite big enough for him to climb out of yet but it was growing fast and he wasn't waiting.

I scrambled back fast and in doing so I smashed my head into the staircase above me.  I saw a flash and stars and I knew if I blacked out I was a goner.  He would drag me down into that hole and he would chew on me until I began to smell like the rotten potatoes with meat. 

It was the laminate flooring that saved me.  In my mad scramble to get out of there I kicked the half full box and it slid right into the hole.  Effectively plugging it up long enough for me to get out of the closet.

I blamed it on the Christmas tree lights.  When the wife arrived home the Fire trucks were just getting there.  The house was a mad blaze of fury.  You could hear the pop and sizzle of the wood and the plastic as it burned. 

I watched until the last flame was out.  A smile on my face.

If you listened closely and knew what to listen for you could hear the screams...and the chewing.


1 comment:

  1. Your short story was really intense and scary; had me on the edge of my seat. Nice that you are writing a bit again!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!



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