Great Big Boogers Made of Clay, Spooky Stories for Your Day

Man, you know, I think all I really want from life is to have enough spooky stories to tell on Halloween and to be well-known enough for telling them that I just spend all day moving from crowd to crowd, telling my spooky stories. But the internet is the next best thing, right?

So, here you go.

Here’s some stuff that I’ve written that has been actually published.

Here’s “All Heart, No Brains” in reverse order.

Here’s last year’s witches, including the crowd favorite “Bad Maddy.”

The two years that became A City of Ghosts. One and the other.

And last, but considering what’s supposed to happen this evening, if I’ve got everything set up correctly, “Allendale.”

Just a reminder, in case you’ve forgotten, the new and improved version of “Allendale” is going to appear (I hope) tonight at 6 p.m. as a treat for readers of Tiny Cat Pants. I’m also picking up the chapbook version from the printer this afternoon. If you read it and want a print copy, it’ll be $4 and you’ll be able to get it at East Side Story, where he charges sales tax and does things that keep the government off his back. If you are not able to go to East Side Story and get a copy, I’ll send you one. For free. This offer only being good to Tiny Cat Pants readers. How will I know you’re really a Tiny Cat Pants reader? If you’ve read far enough along to learn that you just need to email me your address and you’ve read well enough to figure out how to do that (hint, bottom right), that’s proof enough. I don’t  have an infinite number of copies, so consider this offer good only for as long as I have copies after supplying East Side Story.

The online version of the new and improved “Allendale” will be coming down after a week, so enjoy for all it’s worth while you can.

Okay, I think that’s everything. WooooooOOOOOoooooooo.

Part 22

We landed with a thump right outside the cave. On the one hand, I was relieved. We were all alive and, relatively, in one piece. Sure, I was going to miss my arm, but it was the right one and I’m left-handed, so it’s not that terrible. And the dog looked weird with no back legs and only half a torso but that didn’t seem to have dampened his spirits any. And the cat was fine.

But on the other hand, I had no idea where we were or how to get back home. I basically picked a direction to head because it looked like the easiest way to walk. No big hills, no other caves, just a large meadow with a hackberry tree at the far end.

It took us all day to walk to the hackberry tree, both because it was a long way away and because one animal had no back legs and the other was a cat. But when we got there, Hobs was waiting under the tree for us. Just like always, when I’m at the end of a walk, there’s the orange cat to make sure I get home.

We followed him and, eventually, came to the back side of the tear. He popped through first, then the dog, then me, and finally the new kitty. Back on the right side, we had all our limbs.

I ran to the house and grabbed a needle and thread and the very first thing I did was to mend that tear, which, yes, I should have done in the first place. Then I sat down on the ground, my arms around that big, stupid dog, and I cried until it flooded the creek. Even now, there are backwaters of the Cumberland that are salty from where my sorrow went down my creek, into Dry Fork Creek, into Whites Creek, and then into the river where it has stayed ever since.

But we are all safe now, for now, and that’s what matters.

The dog still likes Bart best, but I think he likes me a lot, these days. At least once I caught sight of him following me in the Trans-Am, head out the window, breeze through his hair, happy as can be. I was just going to the gas station, though, and he had better adventures to be on. So, he passed on by.

The End

Nerves!

I’m getting ready for my TSLA reading tomorrow. And I’m helping the printer put the finishing touches on the physical copies of Allendale.

And the two hard things I had to do this morning got done.

Whew!

Scape-grace

If the Macons weren’t such fuckers, I’d feel almost bad for John Macon, who, in almost every thing you read is described as being not quite as great as his brother, Nathaniel. Though I did learn a new word–scape-grace. John, apparently, was the biggest scape-grace in the county.

It appears to mean something like “rapscallion” or “lout.” And the insults… like numerous books mention that the Widow Macon and her neighbor set up a school so their four boys can go. And then three of them go on to Princeton. I am not a 19th century writer, so I can’t quite get it across, but the way they deliver that “three” just lets you know that John Macon did not go to Princeton.

It’s pretty funny.

Part 21

I had to rescue the dog, or at least try. Sure, he appeared to be down a leg and a tail and he had a sizeable chunk missing from his side and I wasn’t sure how I was going to carry him back up to the surface, but, damn it, no Lovecraftian eyeball pyramid is going to eat my dog without a fight. And since the dog seemed too oblivious to put up one himself, it was on me.

I flung myself at the eyeball pyramid.

And it promptly caught me in its tentacles, rubbed me against its eyeballs, which all felt like warm, pulsing olives, and then ate off my arm. I screamed, but I have to be honest, it didn’t hurt as much as I expected. You see dudes getting eaten by things in the movies—alligators, sharks, aliens—and you have to figure that’s a ten on the pain scale, right? But this was more like a two, like that pain you feel when you cut yourself shaving, but you don’t notice it until later and then only because it kind of burns. But then, when you see the blood, oops. It hurts.

So, I guess, if you have to die by getting eaten to death, you want to get eaten by an eyeball pyramid, because it doesn’t hurt that much. I resigned myself to my fate.

But, of course, Pumpkin did not come all this way to resign herself to shit. She leaped into the air and grabbed one of the tentacles. When another came toward her, she swatted at it. She dug her claws into the closest eyeballs and, when the pyramid let out a roar, she arched her back and seemed to shed enough fur for a billion cats.

The fur floated everywhere! It settled on the pyramid of eyeballs in a thick layer and each time the pyramid tried to open any eyeball, cat fur settled right onto the eye. Each tentacle, therefore, had to busy itself trying to pluck fur out of a thousand eyeballs.

The pyramid let out such a cry of despair I almost felt bad for it. But, this meant that it dropped me and the dog. We both slid across the floor toward an exit.

“Pumpkin!” I called. “Here, kitty, kitty!” And she did come with us, as we slid away on what I can only assume was a slick trail of eyeball juice, but, of course, she acted like she was too cool to really be associated with us in anyway.

Oh, I Forgot to Tell You Guys This!

I think the dog lied to me. Yesterday. He got back from his walk with the Butcher and I got up to get something in the kitchen and he saw me and seemed to mull something over. And then he began to act like he hadn’t gotten his customary end-of-walk treat. But it was a little squirrelly. Not quite right.

So, I was like “Did you not get a treat?”

And he looked over at the Butcher. Like he was checking to see if the Butcher was going to narc him out! And, when he saw that the Butcher wasn’t paying attention, he looked back at me like “Yeah, I totally need a treat.”

I’m going to laugh really hard if I end up with a dog that doesn’t understand that not everything that happens to him is good, but somehow understands deception.

One Problem with this Story

This morning, as I was walking the dog, it was so dark and foggy in the back part of the yard that it was like something out of a horror movie, or a story where a woman very much like myself falls into the wrong side of reality, and it was actually kind of terrifying.

So, good job, self. You may not scare anyone else with this story, but you have done yourself.

Part 20

I keep trying to decide where the place with the thing with too many eyeballs was, what real thing you could recognize it was the back side of, but it seemed to be at an intersection of Whites Creek Pike and Clarksville Pike and, in real life, those roads don’t ever run into each other. Plus, there’s no cave and to get to the thing with too many eyeballs, you have to go into a cave there at the intersection, lower yourself down one slippery step at a time.

“I’m going to twist my ankle and not be able to get back up,” I told the cat. She was unmoved. She scampered on ahead and I followed, using my phone as a flashlight as we walked along in the wet dark.

This is the point where, if this were an H.P. Lovecraft story, there’d be something weird, but also kind of hard to be afraid of—like an alien elbow or a whole town full of your cousins, but they have frog eyes, or sleeping squid-headed gods. You know how it is. And this story is the same way. I turned the corner into a deep chamber and there was a gelatinous pyramid of eyeballs. At the bottom of the pyramid was a whole row of mouths all opening their red, lacquered lips. Tentacles—because why bring up Lovecraft if there’s not going to be tentacles—sprouted out from the top. Each eye blinked open and shut at its own rate, so the whole thing had the air of a Christmas tree on a bad circuit, lights flashing, but not quite at the right time.

Each eye was more disgusting than the last. Not in some gross medical-trauma-porn way, but just in that it seemed likely that the thing could squirt four or five eyeballs right in your mouth or something. I don’t know how I sensed that the pyramid might be a malicious eyeball flinger, but there was no doubt.

I wanted to turn back. But, as I crept around the side of the pyramid, a thousand tiny eyes and a few of the big ones all on me, tongues flickering in my general direction, I saw the dog. Rufus. My idiot.

He was wrapped in this tentacle horror’s tentacles and it was, with some of its mouths, eating him. He seemed oblivious. He was grinning and enjoying the head-scratches only a thousand tentacles can provide.

“Oh, shit,” I said and, though I cannot be sure, I swear Squeaky, still by my side, may have said, “Oh, shit,” as well.

Well, This is Some Kind of Exceptional

I feel like I have the general non-Jewish American feelings about Nazis. They are bad.

I remember watching Shoah in college and finding one part, where Lanzmann interviewed an old Nazi (secretly) who, in the grainy footage looked like he could be the brother of my grandfather. That grandfather.

Which means that, in my mind, the problem of what to do with men who were evil a lifetime ago is kind of linked both to historical evil and to familial evil (which, yes, are often the same things).

I, personally, don’t find even my parents’ belated admissions of ways they fucked up to be that satisfying. I don’t want my dad now to be sorry for standing idly by while I was stalked. I want my dad then to have stood up. To me, this is one of the great terriblenesses at the heart of living–that there is no real justice, no real restitution.

For me, seeing a 90 year old man discovered to be a Nazi in hiding in the U.S., even if he’s put on trial and lives out the rest of his life in prison, it seems to me so too little so too late as to be practically meaningless.

However, I am not all people and I am certainly not someone whose families were annihilated by people like that. So, my feeling on the matter is that, even if I would not find tracking down ancient Nazis satisfying, if that’s what even a few of their survivors want, then that’s what we should do. My feelings in this case are mostly beside the point.

If that’s what even a few of their survivors want, then that’s what we should do.

But, it turns out that we, America, are Nazi collaborators. After the war, the ones we thought would be useful we brought here and gave jobs. Not just in the space program, which we already knew, but as spies for the CIA and the FBI.

So, all those Nazis that we find living in the U.S. and make a big show, no matter their age, of deporting for trial, those are just the Nazis who aren’t our friends. It turns out that America faced an ethical question similar to the one I outlined at the beginning–if we don’t think it’s that bad to keep some Nazis around, is the anguish of their victims more important than our feelings?

And we decided, apparently, that, no, the anguish of their victims was not that important to us. We’d throw them a bone every so often by finding a Nazi every now and then who wasn’t useful to us, so that they’d believe we actually gave two shits about finding Nazis. But we’d keep our Nazis safe and sound.

I guess I’d find this less upsetting if we didn’t still run around acting like we have the moral high ground all the damn time. But we never look the terrible things we do in the face. We never say “Yes, we acknowledge these are our bad people, our wrong-doings, our evil.” We always make excuses and go back as quickly as we can to ignoring and pretending we are always on the side of right.

Part 19

I was really low leaving the faerie king. I had directions to this place with too many eyeballs written on my arm and a nagging feeling that Rufus would have been eating whatever he found the whole time he was here—let’s be honest, who among us doesn’t think he snacked on baby mastodon poop?—so I might not be able to get him back even if I did find him. And, even if I did find him and get him back, just how in the holy hell was I supposed to find my way back to my house?

I walked along feeling sorry for myself when I felt something brush against my leg. I looked down, fully expecting it to be something unrecognizable—a parrot with the body of Hulk Hogan, a centipede with Hot Wheel cars instead of legs, an open wound that could quote Shakespeare, a piece of cake that looked like a dachshund, a foot carrying an umbrella, Shoeless Joe Jackson, but with shoes—but it was Pumpkin. Just regular Pumpkin, who must have come looking for me because Bart never remembers to feed her breakfast.

I explained to her my whole situation and showed her the directions on my arm. I waiting for her to say something or to sprout wings or anything that would suggest that she’d been changed by her time here on the back side of reality, but she just blinked up at me and walked beside me, occasionally darting between my legs to rub up against my other ankle, which caused me to almost trip, repeatedly, but, again, this was her usual behavior.

So, I went on and she came with me.

Sleepy John

I wrote about him and it’s published!

And I sold a story this weekend. Some day, when I’m feeling more certain that it’s not some huge faux pas, I’ll give you a sense of how grueling it can be to find the right market for a story. It’s hard enough to know when a story is good. But say you do know. You can know a story’s good and still it’s hard work to find the editor who loves it.

I will say this for rejection, though. It is ongoing. It’s a thing you can get used to. Whereas the thrill of being published is like fireworks–beautiful and wonderful and over too quickly.

My niece has a mullet. Very, very short, fine hair all over her head except in the back where she’s got a curl.

Yesterday, I took some friends on an informal tour of Mt. Olivet. It was really fun and some women drove by and tried to get in on it!

And then there was a thing on NPR about a guy who’s written about occultism and rock & roll. I feel like this review will give you a great idea of why I’m dying to read it.

And we may even have Thanksgiving plans that make sense. So, score one for a nice weekend.

A Story in Four Pictures

Part 18

I was in the far field now, the houses along Lloyd still recognizable, but the great trees in the distance were unfamiliar. I saw ahead of me a great structure, like a stained glass window, narrow and rainbow colored, shimmering. I didn’t know how to understand it. It jutted at such a strange angle out of the tall grass, and it seemed to move in the breeze. Just as I was right about on top of it, a man stood up.

Oh, a wing! A great, dragonfly wing. And this was the King of the Faeries.

“You’re Rufus’s friend!” we both said at the same time. We laugh and said, “yes,” and then laughed again.

“Have you seen him?” I asked.

“Last Sunday, when we played cribbage,” he said.

“Oh, well, damn it. See, he’s here and—”

“Here? But this is a terribly dangerous place for an unaccompanied dog. You know what happens to anyone who eats in faerie-land.”

“They’re stuck here forever?”

He scrunched up his face like he was about to tell me something true, but then thought better of it.

“Not exactly. But it’s still best to not eat anything here.”

“Okay, but it’s Rufus we’re talking about.”

“True, true.”

“I just want to get him home. Do you have any idea where he could be?”

The King of the Nashville Faeries made a circle in the grass as he walked and thought.

“He will, of course, be in the last place you look.”

“Well, obviously. I’ll stop looking once I find him.”

“So, the question is, where are you least likely to look? And that will be the last place you look.”

I sighed. “Well, I’m not really that familiar with your world, so I don’t know where I wouldn’t look.”

“What don’t you like?”

“I kind of find eyeballs gross and too many of things gross, like, if there’s a place where something has too many eyeballs, I would avoi—”

“There is such a place!”

“Oh Christ.”

Who Does to and Who is Done to

This week I read about two different instances where football teams were shut down due to sexual assault–on younger players. As a part of hazing.

This, I think, is the hardest thing to fight about rape culture. I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. We live in a culture where power is sustained through doing things to others they do not want done to them. The football coach tells you to run up the hill and you don’t want to, but you do because he said so. He has power over you. But you don’t have to be powerless. You can stick a broom up a 14 year old’s butt, even though he doesn’t want you to. You have some power.

I don’t know how we undo a culture like this by only insisting men stop raping women. They are only doing to us what’s been done to them.

It’s depressing.

Part 17

When I got across the river, I was faced with an odd sight.

Ahead of me, maybe fifty feet in the distance, was my house. There was the garage and the rose we transplanted, and I could even see my neighbor sitting on his back porch, drinking a beer. I looked behind me and there was the rest of my back yard. I was home.

Except not.

As close as I was, I found that I could not walk toward the house. I didn’t see a barrier but, as soon as I hit it, I could feel it, soft, with a lot of give, but not enough to actually let me into my back yard. I was still not in ordinary reality, but at least I could see I was very close. I felt around for the barrier and proceeded as if I were in a maze, keeping my right hand on the invisible wall between myself and my world, I proceeded to follow the wall, as it were, hoping that it would, eventually, bring me to a door or something. I despaired of ever finding the dog and seeing the house made me so homesick I could barely stand it.

Surely Bart would understand about me losing the dog once he’d heard the strange lengths I went to find Rufus.

I walked around my yard, following the unseen labyrinth, through gardens that didn’t exist on my side of the barrier, past thickets of trees too old and dense for my world. Eventually, I heard a great grunting and snorting noise and, as I walked back toward the old cow pasture, I came upon a great mastodon and her calf. The mother seemed agitated and I noticed that the baby’s head was wet.

The mother looked me straight in the face, her great eyes blinking slowly, as if she were examining my very soul. I didn’t know if I should be frightened or not. I had no idea if she was real or if I even was. Her giant eyelashes swept down and then back up and I found myself mesmerized by the slow, rhythmic movement. “Oh, mama,” I said. “Why is your baby’s head wet?”

I was overwhelmed by déjà vu. Was it not this very summer when I rested my face on Rufus’s head and, finding it damp, asked Bart why the dog’s head was wet? And had not Bart answered me that, when Rufus and Monty go to the park, one of the other of them eventually gets peed on? Why? Bart couldn’t explain it. It’s just a weird thing the dogs do at the park together. And here was this baby mastodon, large, but not that much larger than the dog. Small enough that I could imagine the two of the wandering through the field together. I could also imagine the baby mastodon putting his head down to see something more closely or to rest a moment with his new friend, and, then, yuck. Rufus had been by here, and recently enough that the baby was still wet.

“Which way, mama?” I asked, but she just snorted. I kept my hand on that weird barrier and set back to walking.

Curses

When I think about my family, I’m struck by what a haunted house it is. Scary things go on in every room, but the noises from the other rooms make you afraid to venture out, for fear there’s worse than what’s happening to you.

It’s apparent to me now how these things go on for generations, how people get shaped into things as children and then shape others as they get older. How many fingers on how many arms would I need to point to everyone who bears some responsibility for yesterday’s debacle? And that’s not counting the people, I’m afraid like me, who sit back and do nothing.

I mean the almost nursery-rhyme level of if my father had not scared that girl and my grandpa had not beaten my dad and if my great-grandmother had not terrorized my grandfather and if whoever did whatever to her… on and on.

It feels like a curse, like a terrible thing that just comes with our family like blue eyes and curly hair. You might be a monster. If you aren’t, you might not know how to love anything but a monster.

Here’s the other thing that I can’t quite let go of. I love my Grandma A., rest her soul, with my whole heart. My dad’s mom. Every memory I have of her and me is one I cherish. I loved going to her house. I loved being spoiled by her. One of the hardest times of my life was watching her waste away but not being able to die, thinking that God had abandoned her.

And my dad also adores his mom. Doesn’t have a bad thing to say about her. Frames himself as a kind of protector of her from his dad. That gibes with my memories of her.

One of the things my brother’s girlfriend said on the phone is that it really bugs her and makes her feel like my dad is constantly comparing the two of them the way he goes on about how wonderful my sister-in-law is. My sister-in-law. A woman so vile I can’t even get into it because, if I get started, I won’t be able to make it through the day–the cigarette burn on my nephew’s forehead, the taking him to the fucking strip clubs when he was a baby, the time she threatened to kill my dog, the shitty things she does to my nephew now, and how much he loves her anyway, because that’s what kids do, the refusal to divorce my brother, etc. etc. etc.–a woman who is not allowed to know where I live and who I will probably end up assaulting at my father’s funeral, because I know she will come and try to sit with the family. Just like she tried to take my dead grandmother’s stuff after her funeral, a woman she did not know, because she was “part of the family now.”

And yes, my dad does talk about her like she farts sunshine. And he sends her money whenever she asks for it. And it is completely insane. She is objectively terrible.

It taints my opinion of my grandmother–that my dad so adores this terrible person. It makes me worried that my grandmother was terrible in some way I don’t know about because I was too young to see it when she was alive and he’s successfully rewritten history now that she’s dead.

And that kind of pisses me off. That I can’t even be sure that I really knew the people I love most.

Part 16

Andrew Jackson, or the bird of him, set me on firm ground and pointed me toward a faint light.

“Just head toward that, Miss Betsy,” he said and I admit, the way he said “Miss Betsy” made me understand something about Rachel that I hadn’t previously. It was an understanding one carried for the rest of her life deep in her core. No, lower. A little lower. Right there.

Hee.

Anyway, I walked toward the light, which, though it seemed impossibly far away, ended up being rather close and small. It was, upon further examination, a tiny campfire surrounded by dejected fleas. Some of them were tossing protest signs onto the minute flames. One of the signs said, “Baths are for Commies and Bad Dogs.” Another said, “Take Back the TV Remote.”

Damn it. These were Rufus’s fleas.

“Why aren’t you guys with the dog?” I asked.

They rolled their eyes and pointed beyond the fire. Though it was still dark, I could just make out water ahead—a river.

“Did he swim across?” I asked. They nodded.

I’ll spare you the details of what I saw on that shore. But I will say this: as much as I hate fleas, something about seeing thousands of their corpses washed up on the river bank made me sad.

Still, I waded into the river and, when it got deep enough, swam across, after my stupid dog.

It Continues to Go Well

My brother called to say that his girlfriend–the mother of his youngest child–is upset because she thinks my dad doesn’t like her, because he’s being so mean and nitpicky and keeps saying nice things about my youngest nephew’s mother, in a way that makes her feel like he likes the middle kid’s mother better than her..

So, I called her. She was crying. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t have that long to talk because I was at work. But I assured her that he’s just a jerk to everyone and that he likes her fine and that she’s not doing anything wrong and that his love for the middle child’s mother is inexplicable.

I told her she was doing fine. I told her I was going to call him and tell him to shape the fuck up. She asked me not to. So, I guess I’m not.

The Professor advises I just wait until I see him acting like a jerk to her and then call him on it. So she’s not “tattling” and he shapes up.

It’s making me feel so heartsick and almost dizzy. My brother brought this young stranger into our house and exposed her to this?!

And I’m mortified that my dad would behave this way. It’s bad enough he pulls this shit on the family. But some poor gal who’s not related to us? What in the ever-loving fuck?

I want to cry, too.

I had hoped he would mellow as he aged.

But here we are. He’s always so angry at what a mean-ass motherfucker his brother is. And yet, here we are.

“Turns Out It’s Hard to Be Governor and a Werewolf”

Okay, so we’re having a pre-order party for The Wolf’s Bane on November 8th from 6 to 8 p.m. at East Side Story. I think I’ll be reading promptly at 7, but you can come hang out earlier, eat some treats, look at some stuff, and buy a copy of Allendale, which will be for sale there for either $4 or $5 depending on what my costs to print it end up being (which I guess I should check on). There will also be some other cool take-home things, I think. And there’s going to be a book trailer!

Boogie, Man!

Last night, I went over to the East Side Storytelling which was Sara Harvey reading and Bill Davis performing. Sara, though sick, was great, as always. Bill Davis was a hoot and his music was fun and his voice was lovely. He’s got a cool Halloween song, which he played acoustically, but which you can hear in it’s full, silly, wonderful glory here.

The venue is another story. Everyone’s food was not good and they basically abandoned our server to handle thirty people who all sat at once. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so bad for a server. And there were few people inside. They could have sent another server outside to help keep order.

The weirdest thing, though, is that it smelled like a horse barn. Like horse poop and hay. Which seems like a weird smell for a restaurant.

That place is in a good spot and I know people go there and love it and never have any problems. But every time I go there I end up wishing they could get their acts together so that I could go there more often.

Part 15

Even in the thick fog, the tear was sharp and easy to make out. I approached it cautiously, calling for Rufus the whole while, hoping he might just reemerge.

Of course, he didn’t.

I stuck my head in the tear in reality and felt the by-now-familiar breeze. I looked down, but I didn’t see any bottom. I honestly didn’t see anything at all. Below was as black and empty as above.

I stepped in anyway. It felt like I imagine stepping through a slightly-electrically charged rain shower would feel, or like walking through static. For a second, I felt I was standing on something. I turned back and saw my own back yard, hazy through the fog but familiar, and then like the cartoon character who realizes too late that solid ground is an illusion, I fell.

Down, through the blackness, down through the never-ending slightly cool breeze, down through silence like the grave. I fell so long that I ceased to be afraid of falling. It was obvious to me at that point where Rufus was—somewhere beneath me, falling as well. Possibly we would just slide down the backside of reality forever, until we starved and death ended our travels.

Hours went by and still I fell. I passed the time wishing I had left a note for Bart, wishing I had told him I loved him, and then reassuring myself that a brother never doubts a sister’s love. I felt sorry for myself that I would never see my niece grow up. I felt deeply ashamed at what I was certainly about to put my parents through.

They would give me a Christian funeral. I hoped my friends would have sense enough to read Whitman in my honor later.

I cried, too, in part, just to give myself a noise to hear. But eventually, I grew tired of the sound of my voice and I fell silently.

That’s when I realized I heard something, a faint whooshing sound. I strained to see if I could hear it better and in front of me, as if someone had turned on a light switch, was Abraham Lincoln, illuminated with his own inner glow.

No, not quite Abraham Lincoln. It was the head of the Great Emancipator, but his body was absent. In its place was the body of a vulture. He regarded me with some interest.

“President Lincoln?” I asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered.

“Are you falling, too?”

“My dear, I fly on the wings of liberty!” He responded, giving his great wings a slow, majestic flap, which caused him to bob up out of my line of sight for a second.

“Is there firm ground somewhere?”

“Of course, my dear,” he said. I wondered how he put on his hat with wingtips instead of hands.

“Could you fly me to it?”

The great man wrinkled his brow and pondered my question. Then he frowned.

“No,” he said, but mostly to himself. “I don’t think I can handle the burden of another woman.”

“But Mr. Lincoln…” I objected. It was too late. He had already flown off.

Various other presidents came to check me out—Hayes, Garfield, Teddy Roosevelt, Johnson, both Adamses. None of them would help. But then Jefferson came by and who ever knew him to pass up a chance to get his hands on a woman?

“Mr. Jefferson!” I cried out, but even he ignored my plight.

I continued to fall until finally, the scraggliest, most broken buzzard you’ve ever seen made its way over to me. The head on the bare neck of that great bird was a scowling madman with a shock of white hair that was all cowlick.

“Ma’am, I heard you could use some help.”

“Andrew Jackson! Yes, thank God. Please. Help.” Because say what you want about Andrew Jackson, he’s not going to leave a fat woman in distress. He grabbed hold of me with his giant talons and began to carry me off. I cried out in relief. “Why wouldn’t anyone else help me?” I asked.

“Ma’am, I believe they mostly feel that the modern world has become strange and unsympathetic to them. They shy away.”

“But you helped me,” I said.

“To me, the world seems little changed in that regard. I don’t hold it against the current crop.” We flew on. “If you don’t mind me asking, miss, why are you here?”

“I’ve lost my dog.”

He seemed to be relieved that my answer was so simple.

“Big and yellow? Likes to chase rabbits?”

“That’s him.”

“I can point you in the right direction.”

So, That Visit Went Well

My mom thinks the Butcher needs counseling. My dad accused him of being on drugs. He accused my dad of being a rape apologist. My mom complained that, since I’ve asked them not to read Tiny Cat Pants, she couldn’t read the October story. My dad scoffed that it was “probably just as bad as everything else she’s written.”

And now I have this twitch in my eye that is rather unpleasant.

But I am relieved to have said tick, because, frankly, I feel fine. All this nonsense and my internal happy-o-meter is set to content. No wire sticking out of my boob? How bad can it be? And I’m starting to feel like maybe it should bother me that things don’t bother me. I mean, that can’t be right or healthy to just be like “Whatever!” about everything.

But here it is! Evidence that some part of my brain, and hence my body, is actually quite stressed out about things. So, normalcy will return.