©2010, 2014 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee
“It should be a nice morning, don’t you think?” The woman called happily in the moonlight. The red maple leaves rustled, some lazily falling to the ground. Through the foliage I could see her straw hat as she attempted to push her way back into the yard. It had a faded daisy stuck in the hat-band up front. She does silly things like that, poking her head through bushes and sticking flowers in her hat-band, looking around surreptitiously left and right with a toothy grin to see if anyone is admiring her whimsical antics. If they notice, she stops smiling immediately.
“It will be nice and cool, my favourite weather, Mrs. Thompson.” I replied, mildly annoyed at her return. I thought she had left for the night, but no.
I don’t like my early mornings disturbed -the time just before sunrise, that is. I read the morning paper if I can find it. The paperboy throws it into the yard from his bicycle, it is a challenge to locate it in the dark at times. Last week it was up in the maple bush, and the day following it was in the wheelbarrow full of red-stained rain water.
Throw the newspaper on the porch, will you, boy? I yelled at him in the dark a couple of mornings earlier. He hadn’t paid attention other than rudely showing me a finger in the moonlight. The next time he parked, balancing, with his dirty gray sneaker on the fence.
Collection day. You’re up very early, Mr. Jason. The moon is still out.
I’m a night person, that’s how I saw you throw the paper in the wheelbarrow. It was full of rain water .
He shrugged. It’s Hallowe’en today, sorry, what’cha gonna do, kill me and eat me? Smirking too –collection day, —and you owe me three dollars and a quarter.
It’s always collection day isn’t it? – my paper was ruined, and about killing you, you never can tell, I am tempted I said. I gave him the coins and he gave me the finger again as he pushed off.
I dislike disrespectful paper carriers.
She shook the bushes again, more leaves fell, but now I could see her pale face and strange gray eyes and slim frame in the moonlight. She pushed through.
“Why don’t you thin these bushes?” she asked.
“Now, Mrs. Thompson, you know my crotchety old landlady would suck the life-blood from my neck if I was to touch a single branch or remove a leaf from her favourite red maples” I said.
“That I would, Mr. Jason,” she retorted, “and I may be next of kin to death but I’m neither crotchety or old, and I expect you to keep this garden neat as a pin, not with shovels and bloody gunny-sacks and wheelbarrows full of bones in sight. As for sucking the blood from your neck, that is an intriguing option, I shall consider it carefully.” She smiled.
“I see you are digging away in the garden again. What were you doing in the middle of the night —as if I didn’t know? Burying something, are we?”
“Digging a hole, —putting grass and trash in the garden makes vegetables grow better.”
“So soon after our midnight delight?” she asked, smiling innocently. “Mr. Jason, come now.”
“It’s cool” I said. “Besides, as you know, —the sun…the morning sun—is uncommonly bad for our skin”.
“I do admire that you’re very calm, you seem to have an answer prepared for everything, Mr. Jason, regardless, I don’t like digging in the yard, it attracts attention, remember there are water pipes, wires, gas lines, and other, shall we say —hidden things .” She smiled mischievously. “Some things are best left undisturbed, perhaps.”
“I am sure only you know what you have buried in this yard over the years, but isn’t it finders-keepers, Mrs. Thompson?”
She looked at me and shook her head solemnly. “Hardly, Mr. Jason, digging disturbs both finders and sleepers at times. —I do not want to have to share our bounty, do you? It’s best to leave the neighbours —shall we say, unaware, for now…”
“I guess I better put everything away before someone becomes too nosy. Like you, Mrs. Thompson, I work best in the early morning while it is still dark.”
“That is why we also have thick bushes, and black curtains, to keep our visitors unaware, is it not, Mr. Jason?
“It is indeed”.
“You’re a man taken after my own heart most admirably” she said. “That is why I rent this house to you, a man of distinction who appreciates fine dining, the dark, dead quiet and nature too. Living things are not so bad, look at the glorious maple leaves, how bloody red they are, even in the moonlight. How romantic.” I nodded in silence. Daylight was almost upon us.
“I must hurry, I still have work to do.”
“Yes, you do, Mr. Jason”.
I shook the paper and folded it carefully.
“Where did that come from?” she asked, pointing at the gray shoe laying on my path. “It looks like a sneaker. Oh, my, how very careless of you, Mr. Jason.”
“It is an old sneaker some wild teenagers threw into this yard without permission, of course, I found it by the fence” I said. “It must have been last night, I heard a car on the road, I didn’t see who it was. Did you not hear tires screaming?”
“You’re not a very convincing liar, Mr. Jason, you must be more careful, or you shall be found out in a flash, —but come to think of it, the screaming, I did think it might be the tires or tomcats at it again” she said, and winked.
“Tires screech and traffic whizzes by at such speed, one must hurry so, one cannot cross the street safely without losing a shoe, I found a sneaker last month, too, remember?” she asked slyly.
“Yes, I recall.” She came closer. She was unusual, but not an unattractive woman. Her cat-gray eyes reflected the copper-red moon .
“By the way, that spot in your garden is sunk in a bit, it needs some top-fill,” I said. “I noticed it has been settling again.”
“Burying things does that” she said thoughtfully. “You shall find next spring you’ll have exactly the same problem. I build a heap on top with composted pumpkins, chopped corn stalks, I shall add leaves, too, bags of them are available up and down the street, it being Hallowe’en. A large compost heap covers unsightly messes and fills in settled spots in the garden admirably and distracts, it kills more than two birds with one stone, does it not?”
“Oh my, it is late. Mr. Jason, have you seen our paperboy this morning? She asked innocently, and then feigning anger. “That lazy boy did not leave me a paper, I must complain”.
“No.” I said. “That will attract too much attention, take mine”. I handed her my paper.
“That no-good boy —just like his brother when he had the route, insulting, never on time.” “That one came to some harm last year, that’s what gossips say —but they’re very nosy down at the paper, they need something to prattle on about.”
“I’m afraid we’ll need a new paper boy again, I do hope the new one is a bit fatter”.
“They keep sending new ones” she said. “New flavours, how delightful!”
“This last one said his young sister was going to take the route.”
“Oh, my, that would be a nice change in diet would it not, Mr. Jason?” She laughed.
I peered into her yard. “What do you have there? I pointed at her tree.
“Oh, that skull, I use that, they all think it is made of plastic, I drilled a hole on top, and inserted an eye hook to hang it, isn’t that clever? I put a candle inside for effect, it is Hallowe’en, after all, and see, there’s his sneaker. Brown.”
“Genius, and those dried eyeballs will scare children too. Fresh ones would add to the effect, don’t’ you think?”
“Bait, too” I said. “Eyeballs are the best bait, even for fishing”. She laughed.
“Oh, my, Mr. Jason, you have a fine sense of humor, —but I was thinking, the sneakers, we now we have a pair, Mr. Jason”. She pointed at the new running shoe and smiled. She stepped closer and lowered her voice.
“It might be wise to hang them together, no one shall notice a pair of sneakers hanging at Hallowe’en, even if they were two left feet and different colors.”
Her very long eye-teeth glinted in the light. She caught me watching and closed her mouth.
“Damned teeth” she whispered hoarsely, they betray me every time.” she giggled.
“They’re not so bad” I smiled and bared mine. She examined them.
“Now I don’t feel badly Mr. Jason.” She rubbed her neck, leaning closer to kiss my cheek, “your teeth are so long and sharp and white in the moonlight.” She backed away. “– But there is not much time.”
“Wash the table, Mr. Jason, the sight of blood on picnic tables makes day-folk queasy…those bloody bones in the wheelbarrow won’t help either.”
“Yes, Mrs. Thompson, I shall have to hurry, it is almost sunrise.”
“I shall feed my cat and go to sleep”.
“Yes, I must do the same, good night, Mrs. Thompson, until midnight tomorrow, then, it was lovely, —and remind me, we must make sausage and freeze the rest.”
“Wonderful! I shall bring sea salt, and rosemary and sage from the garden, he shall be extra spicy, won’t that be lovely?”
“Perfect, Mrs. Thompson.”
“Thank you Mr. Jason, – I so enjoyed our dinner, let’s do it again tomorrow” she called back as the blood-red maple bushes closed behind her.
“I better hurry now” I reminded myself, looking at the brightening sky.
Is that Incoming I hear?
photo by Jusben (Morguefile)
tags: Hallowe’en, sneakers, short stories, fiction, incomingbytes.com , vampires, cannibals