Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More Monster Monday ... on Wednesday. Another excerpt from The Man on Little Creek Drive:

A strange noise woke me. Metal on metal, like the time Mama’s brakes almost wore out and the mechanic told her if she’d waited one more week to bring in the car, she could have been killed.

I glanced at the clock; 3:30 a.m. I looked toward the closet door, but it was closed. I got up and tiptoed down the hallway.
Daddy was still passed out in the den, but I could hear the noise getting louder. The kitchen light was on, and I peered around the corner.


She was standing with her back to me, at the back stretch of the counter where she kept the crock pot and the toaster. And the knives.

“Mama?” I repeated, but she didn’t answer. Still wearing a tank top and pajama pants, she must have just gotten out of bed. Her hair twisted around her shoulders like messy brown ropes.

I walked closer. The noise, I realized, was coming from the automatic knife sharpener build into the back of the butcher block, the block that held the sharp knives me and Bailey weren’t allowed to touch.

Who would sharpen knives in the middle of the night? Martha Stewart, maybe, but not Mama.

Something told me to make as much noise as possible as I walked across the cold tile floor. Whatever the reason for early morning kitchen duties, I wasn’t looking to get stabbed by accident if I surprised her. Despite my stomping around, she didn’t seem to notice. Her head cocked at an angle, she stared at the sharpener and she didn’t pay me the least bit of attention.

She held the big knife; the one she used to slice tomatoes, and pressed it to the metal wheel of the stone. The screech made my ears hurt. How could Daddy possibly sleep through this?

“What are you doing?” I finally reached out and tapped her on the back.

My mistake.

She whirled around, holding the knife by its wooden handle out in front of her. The blade was shiny in the bright kitchen light…And about six inches from my gut.

I jumped backwards, waiting for her to say something. But her mouth was closed and her eyes stared right through me, blue and empty.

“Mama, be careful!” I watched as she touched the edge of her finger to the blade, drawing a tiny bubble of blood. She didn’t even blink. She walked past me, holding the blade out at an angle, exactly the way she’d taught me never to walk with something sharp.

I followed her as she headed into the den. Toward Daddy.

“Mama, don’t you want to put that knife away before you hurt somebody?”

She stopped, turned and, this time, she looked in my direction. Not exactly like she was looking at me, but like she’d heard a noise and was trying to find out who made it.

“It’s really late. You should put the knife away and go to bed. You’re working tomorrow, remember?”

Her eye twitched.

Daddy groaned in his sleep.

Wake up, Daddy.

He snored instead, and Mama’s head jerked at the sound. Ignoring me, she took three steps across the carpet.
“MAMA!” I screamed and knocked a vase from the end table, whacking it into the corner of the brick fireplace, where it shattered into a million little green pottery pieces.

“Dan?” Mama glanced down at Daddy, asleep on the couch. Then she saw me and the broken vase.

“EJ! How could you? That was my mother’s. What were you doing?” She started to kneel down, but I pointed to her hand.

“Don’t you want to put that away first?”

Her eyes shifted down, and she gasped at the sight of the knife.

“I don’t…” She stared at me, maybe hoping I could fill her in on what just happened. Yeah, right. She’d never believe me, and she still had a weapon.

“It’s OK, Mama. I’ll clean this up. Just put the knife away. Please?”

Her eyes moved from me to Daddy and back again. She backed out of the room, whispering to herself.

I cleaned up the vase, picking green slivers of pottery from the carpet so Bailey wouldn’t cut his feet in the morning. I hated to break Grandma’s vase, and Mama was going to be way angrier at me tomorrow when she remembered all of this.

Or maybe she wouldn’t remember a thing, I thought, as I heard her crying in the kitchen.

“What’s happening to me?”

If only you knew, Mama. If only you knew.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Who doesn't need a monster on Monday? A little excerpt from The Man on Little Creek Drive...

She sat on a wrought iron chair outside the art gallery, a steaming cup of coffee in one hand. The sounds of jazz spilled out from the white stone building. The opening had been a huge success – as she peered inside, she could see her assistant beaming as he counted the paintings sold.

“Excuse me, Amy?” A man walked out of the gallery, right behind her. She turned, and so did he, leaving her with a glimpse of curling black hair slipping from a ponytail and an expensive-looking suit. As he ducked away, Amy caught a flash of sharp white teeth.

“Yes,” Amy answered, slightly irritated by the interruption.

“May I join you for just a moment?”

Amy nodded.

The mystery man pointed toward the gallery. “You arranged this show?”

Amy felt her face flush. “Yes I did. Did you like it?”

The man laughed. “Like? I loved it. I could hardly tear myself away.”

“In that case, let me introduce you to the artist,” Amy started to stand, but the man averted his face again and gestured for her to take her seat.

“Oh,” she gulped, confused by his furtiveness, “I just thought you might like to meet the person responsible, since you enjoyed it so much.”

The man shook his head, and a few more stray strands of hair came loose, falling over snow-pale skin. “I’m not interested in the artist. I came here to admire your work. The skill and the work you poured into arranging this – it’s obvious how gifted you are. Every little detail was perfection.”

Amy was flattered, but a little thrown by the compliment. Was she good at her job? She couldn’t remember. She used to be good at doing things. People told her so, didn’t they?

The man circled around behind her, murmuring, “You should be complimented all the time, Amy. You were so smart, so clever. Talent like yours shouldn’t be wasted.”

Amy peered at him, and stepped closer. “Who are you? And what do you mean, wasted? Do we know each other?”

The man deftly stepped to the side and began to walk away. But not before Amy reached out, grabbing the soft fabric of his suit jacket. He stopped and turned partially, a pointy white chin and straight nose visible in profile. Then he twisted his head further, his neck swiveling in a movement that looked almost unnatural, and just for a moment, he raised his eyes.

They were red, almost glowing through the tangled strands of black hair falling across his face.

Like headlights in a dark forest.

“Oh, I know you, Amy.”