The third date was meant to end on a good note. Chet felt his chances inched towards favorable and he wrapped his arm around the innocent prize below him, pulling her close. His status as Point Guard for the University of Southern Maine’s Basketball team enabled pick of the litter ease that Chet exploited on most occasions; he bides his time for Freshman girls, methodically working to achieve the goal of tonight’s standard. They turned down Deering Ave and descended through pale beams cast from streetlights above. Warm ocean air weaved about the city like a steady hand threading a hot, salted needle; the scent allured and fascinated their senses.
“I don’t think I could ever move from this city now that I have experienced its grandeur,” Melanie said.
He wasn’t thinking with his brain and his College scholarship reflected this. The words Melanie uttered equaled High School mediocrity; to Chet they seemed foreign as if he was trying to read a Biology textbook for the first, or fiftieth, time. He played the odds well and knew that agreeing to anything she said increased the likelihood of embracing the sleek curves underneath hip-hugger jeans and ebony blouse. His hand moved south, brushing against her tender skin to rest on firm waist. A berry fragrance mixed with faint perspiration wafted to his nostrils from her blonde ponytail like fumes of sweet inevitability.
But she stopped, and pulled herself away.
“What is that?” She asked.
Her finger shot-out to a hunched body at the Newspaper Vending Machine three streetlights ahead. The figure bent forward, peering inside with hands cupped around the glass like a child gazing beyond the glass of a candy shop eager with voracious lust for decadence before disappearing into a shadowed alley.
“Probably some bum looking for a fresh blanket,” Chet said. “Retarded to boot. Must’ve forgotten that it costs money to try and read the paper.”
Melanie distanced herself a step ahead of Chet as they continued with opposing strides; chilled retreat from obnoxious warmth.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Think about your ignorance for a minute and tell me if judging someone the way you did is appropriate.”
An unwelcomed rush of harsh embarrassment rose to his face like a kettle heated by a lava flow. Chet skipped to her side and pivoted his lanky frame to Melanie’s front, boxing her off from advancing.
“Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that,” he glanced over his shoulder, noticing the figure interacting once more with the vending machine. “I think I’ve heard about him anyhow. It’s a sad sort of story and now I feel awful.”
She distanced herself from his reach.
“Let’s hear this urban legend then.”
“Word around campus is that he was an overnight sensation with a website used for sharing art, stories, poetry—stuff like that. It was a free service for artists and he sold ad-space to make ends-meat. If what I heard is true, the profits were huge. I guess something happened—some say drugs, some say stress—but his mind cracked and he lost it all. During his downfall, the website was stolen from under him by the co-creators and he ended up on the streets and somehow drifted to Portland. Sad, isn’t it?”
“It is… it’s also slightly inaccurate,” Melanie drifted around Chet and down the hill.
“What do you mean?”
“I used Artist Share when it first launched a few years back. Jack Yates was the founder and wanted a platform for alternative views to the underground arts; nothing ever twisted, mind you. He was a devote Wiccan and some say more than that; his left-handed lifestyle was shunned by the masses and he gave us a comfortable voice. He united many together when the site started and those who utilized the platform’s true meaning loved him for his bravery to promote others to rise above their insecurities. It’s a shame what really happened.”
Jack emerged a streetlight ahead of them and performed his routine check. Pale was the color of the moon and that of his skin and ragged layers of patchworked attire rustled as he retreated into the darkness once more.
“So, what happened to him, then?” Perversion claimed Chet’s thought and he knew that humility was the key to bedding Melanie tonight. “And I am really sorry for what I said… that is not who I am.”
His attempted embrace fell across the empty space of night.
“Uh-huh,” Melanie said. “What happened was the website metamorphosed into a grotesque affront to its true meaning. New users flooded in to share unsophisticated memes and gifs that insulted the purpose of Artist Share. People forgot him and his mission, and the founders usurped. Do I need to dumb that down for you?”
“I deserved that, and no, I think I understand.”
“Good… there is still a chance this night can end on a good note.”
Jack appeared from the shadows to the vending machine and the couple stopped in their tracks. He glanced up and asked, “Any change to spare? I think there is something in here that I need to read but I can’t see so well.”
Chet ignored the request while Melanie reached into her pocket and dropped silver into Jack’s outstretched claw-like hand. Hazel eyes widened and teeth stained with decay of prolonged death beamed to Melanie.
“You’re welcome, Jack,” she said.
“You know me? Yes! I am Jack Yates and you know me.”
Chet whispered, “Let’s go, please.”
Melanie sliced Chet with an upwards glare and turned to Jack.
“I used Artist Share when it first started. I am sorry for what happened and I just want to say thank you for giving me an outlet to express myself.”
“Well you are most welcome and yes—you know me. Oh how it has been so long since I have been validated. Come, look,” his grasp was lighting and he guided with gentle care to the newspaper vending machine. Melanie was far from alarmed but Chet launched himself forward and grabbed Jack’s arm.
“Get your hands off her you crazy asshole.”
“No, Chet! He is harmless.”
But Melanie was dead-wrong.
Jack yanked his arm away and shoved Chet to the sidewalk in a burst of rage stronger than a blast of muffled dynamite. His head crashed before his body, rendering Chet unconscious. Melanie froze as if her body was fused to the cement by a blast of invisible dry ice.
“All it takes is one person to remember and the rest will fall into place and yes oh yes they will know me once more. The updates have teased and the news will show the truth and yes oh yes,” he plopped quarters into the slot and yanked the metal arm down. The newspaper was removed and lifted to Melanie’s frightened stare. “There! Do you see it? The updates spoke of my second coming and I will return to that place among the great.”
Ink swirled on the front page, transforming the political drabble and world news into a horrid foreshadow that Melanie muttered like a possessed child drifting between reality and demonic arrest. Her disbelief gasped as wisps of a fleeting death rattle escaped into the night, and she said,
“Bloodied cobblestones were found near the two bodies and the killer is still on the loose.”
Jack Yates chanted with a sing-song cadence as he silenced their mortal existence.
“They said my fall would be temporary and I that I would rise from life’s essence of those who remembered—yes oh yes—that is what the updates said and finally oh finally that truth shall set me free; free above the rest and free above the dead. The truth shall set me free.”
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.
I think I have OCD. I will use the reference proceeding this preface to explain why:
I am going to say the word “Politics” and “Political” in the next few paragraphs. Please know that this is in no way a presentation or explanation of my political views. I want this site to be a political-free forum for storytelling and my thoughts. If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I am one) rural American and two) without a platform to have my voice heard so I utilize social media as my megaphone to express my views and feelings.
Collection of Endless Nightmares will stay clear of that, and if a character has a strong view just remember that it is necessary for that character. Same goes for Ghoul Flash Fiction. There may be a time (if the stars align and I publish something substantial) that I may weave my views into my writing, but please be assured that this is not that venue.
Now the reference….
Politics have deep roots everywhere you go, but I never give it much attention until this time of the year when an election occurs. Both sides of the party are in an interesting period that is affecting not only America, but the World in a particular fashion that has grasped my attention once more. I have been finding myself going to my preferred news sources in a ritualistic manner each morning and obsessing over updates throughout the day. I can’t even explain why this is happening. The only guess I have is that this is muscle memory, same as my other habits. I think back to when I was younger and how my habits would focus on an activity until I became disinterested for a period, and then something else would fill the void for a time until the cycle was ready to repeat.
I spent last night with a buddy of mine slinging some vintage MTG (Magic: The Gathering for you non-nerds) and we talked about the music we listened to decades ago when we first met. It was a neutral mix of Bare Naked Ladies, Cake, Grateful Dead and other bands alike. Then he reminded me of the one band and song I played over and over: Orgy’s “Blue Monday” from their first album Candyass. And yeah, he was right. Not only did I listen to that one song but I also played-the-shit out of that album until I became bored with it and moved on to Rob Zombie or Nine Inch Nails.
The other day I was engrossed with political updates and watching C-Span to the point that I actually lost track of time and realized that the day was literally wasted. Holy shit!?! And today I’m all like,
I based Jack Yates off that side of me. This story hints at how obsession can almost seem ethereal and otherworldly to the point that compulsive behaviors can turn into absolute elation when rewarded, paving way for the cycle to begin once more as Jack disappeared into the shadows to be born once more as something he once was: appreciated for just being himself before the masses steal it away again.
Publication writing is slowing a little. I am revising a hard tale of my video game addiction and almost fell into a pitfall of writer’s block along the way. Once I am satisfied with that I will ship it on out. Still unpublished from my other tales, yet I am not deterred by rejection.
I am also planning on starting a Patreon page. Now don’t fear! This site will never go away, but I will only publish Flash Fiction and Excerpts here, along with the resources page while opening the doors for other writers to publish works if they want to. I also plan on releasing Ghoul Flash Fiction’s storyline there as well. This is still in the works but it is something that will be coming soon.
Speaking of Ghoul….
I currently am reading Sarah Langan’s “The Keeper” and expect to move onto “The Missing” afterwards. So far I am impressed! Women in Horror Month rages on, friends.
Thanks for stopping by and stay warm,
John Potts Jr