Ewan’s Bloody Shirt

Ewan looked in befuddled amazement as the old washerwoman held up a stick with a wet tangle of bloody tunics dripping from it.

“Here, lots of shirts from strapping young men, what’s been killed in the battle. My, look at this one! Why, isn’t this one yours?”

Ewan felt his blood go icy in his veins. He knew this, suddenly, to be a “Woman of the Night,” a ghost or Shee, bringing an omen of impending doom to himself.

Suddenly, the old woman came forward, her face squinting into a cruel mask.

“If thy darling wife should offer thee bread and cheese from her own hand, thou shalt avert thine own terrible doom. Otherwise, I shall be washing the blood from thy clothes…”

“Ewan of the Little Head” was the son of the Fifth Laird of Lochbuie (Iain Og), and was prompted by his termagant wife, known to history as the “Black Swan” (But, the reader will ask him or herself, “What is in a name?”) to press his father for his rightful portion as a Chief of the MacLaines. (As you might have guessed, we’re in Scotland.)

This was premature, and Lain Og refused him, enraging his son and causing him to erupt in a tirade of petty vengeance. Lain Og, to his credit, was having none of it, and told his insolent, petty brat that if he should like to meet his own army on the field of battle, well, then, by all means…

The whole thing started as a result of the dissatisfaction of the Swan to her husband’s paltry, uncomfortable estate. Where it would end was destruction and bloodshed.

To wit:

The morning of the battle, Ewan MacLaine arose before dawn, going out to the court where he was met by a strange washerwoman.

A bent-over old crone, with a warty nose and green complexion, we might imagine. She was washing bloody clothes. He then recognized his own shirt in the tub. He felt his blood go icy, for he now knew this to be an omen of impending doom. He was told by the Shee, the supernatural washerwoman, that, should his young wife, the “Swan,” offer him bread and cheese by her own hand, he might live. Otherwise–

Returning home, he was dismayed to find that he was offered no such morning repast.

His horse galloped past the great outcropping of rock. Ewan, despite the dire vision of hours earlier, was elated that his men seemed to be winning the battle. He brought his horse to halt for a moment, letting the animal catch its breath. It was then he heard a scuffling above him.

“Aieee!” came a terrible cry, as the shadow of a headsman’s axe fell across Ewan’s forehead. He reached instinctively for his sword, but it was too late.
His head was carried home by victorious soldiers atop a pike.
A black mare gallops past the doomed, crumbling walls of Duart castle. The peasant gardener feels his blood grow chill to see it, as it disappears into a roiling, mysterious cloud of foggy haze. Tall and lean, dressed entirely in black, the phantom rider bodes ill, he knows, for the Chief of the MacLaines–as it always has. It is “Ewan of the Little Head”; or, rather his ghost, come round to haunt the grounds of this ancient dwelling, and foretell of an impending doom come to the family, as a curse. But, the peasant reflects, this name of the “Little Head” was intriguing–maybe even comical. For, you see, the phantom rider hadn’t any head at all!


Lord Krishna’s Mouth


There is a story told of Lord Krishna. When he was a toddler at Brindavan, he liked to steal butter and cream. He was roundly scorned for this, and his mother told him he should take care never to do it again.

So, the next time the little Lord set about playing at the homes of his young friends, instead of making off with the butter, he grabbed a baby fistful of mud, ramming it into his mouth. His young friends, seeing what the baby had done, were offended, and went to tell his mother, Yashoda.

When he returned home, Lord Krishna’s mother said to him, “You awful, unthinking child! I will teach you never to put filthy mud into your mouth again!”

And she started to enact his punishment. Perhaps she was going to make him suck on a sour lemon, or even a cake of soap. We are not told. Whatever the case, though, when Lord Krishna opened his mouth, his mother was treated to an astounding sight:

She saw hills and valleys, trees and fields, rushing rivers, and vast craggy peaks. She saw mountainous rises and shallow dips, the twinkling, starlit array of diamonds in the black, vaulted firmament of heaven. She saw the planets, each with its own life, and the suns burning brightly in wonder, and the forgotten depths of the ocean floors, and even the raging waters of other worlds.

She, indeed, beheld the universe in the suckling infant’s mouth.

Lord Krishna’s mother fell to weeping, as she realized that Vishnu had come to earth in the form of her son.

(We imagine that, after that, he was treated to all the butter and cream he liked.)

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The Miracle of Self-Trepanation

There is a legend about a movie, called Heartbeat in the Brain. The movie was made by a grad student in London, in the sixties, who was deeply involved in the occult.

It was featured in the book Apocalypse Culture. At any rate, this grad student, a woman, actually made a film of her trepanation–that is, she drilled a hole in the top of her head, so she could see God.

They say the film doesn’t exist anymore. They say all copies disappeared after it was screened to shocked audiences at a film festival. I don’t know. I’ve only seen purported bits and pieces of it.

Anyway, the story I have to tell is about someone who drilled a hole in their head, clean through to their brain. Because they swore they heard a heartbeat–a tell-tale heart, pounding away in their skull. And that it was driving them mad.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

A woman that was dying of cancer heard about a new treatment, south of the border. Something that wasn’t legal in the US. In desperation, she went down there, and was unenthused when she realized she’d stumbled into the filthy hacienda of a psychic surgeon–a person who, reportedly, could heal terminal illness with psychic powers and rusty scissors.

She was dubious about the whole thing, bit, deciding she had come too far to turn back, she let the man do his stuff.

He made her lie down on a table, and, making some strange passes over her, and uttering weird incantation-like phrases in Spanish, he put his fingers on her forehead, and, seeming to dig into her very scalp, began to retrieve the tumor.

She could feel a cold, wet feeling, like pouring blood and fluid course down her cheeks. But, there was no pain. Finally, the surgeon stepped back from the table, and held up a dripping lump of grey matter that looked like a little slab of beef liver.

“Here is your tumor,” he said simply. “Now, you will live.”

He stepped forward, his fingers going to her forehead again, to “seal up” the wound, and then she was directed to get up. She did so, carefully cleaning the blood (which she secretly thought might actually be chicken’s blood) off of her forehead with a rag.

She left Mexico, and, upon returning Stateside, waste no time in seeking out a doctor to see if, indeed, her tumor was really gone. To her shock and amazement, the doctor gave her a clean bill of health, adding that it must have been a miracle.

The woman, overjoyed at the news (for she had been told she had only a short time to live) wept tears of gratitude,a nd vowed never to doubt the powers of the occult again.

But, unfortunately for this woman, her story most decidedly did NOT have a happy ending.

You’ve heard of the “hum”, right? That sound that some people claim they can hear, that nobody else can hear. I haven’t actually heard anyone talk about it for years, but scientists theorized it had something to do with Ultra Low Frequency tests caried out by the US military. Skeptics predictably claimed it was all hokum. At any rate, the woman began to hear a weird, thumping sound. It was tiny at first, like the ticking of a clock.

“It’s like the beating of a baby’s heart. In my head,” she told her husband. It seemed to make the top of her head throb. Soon, she could hear it all the time.

It grew louder and louder.

She tried taking painkillers for the headache–it only helped a little. She tried stuffing cotton in her ears, wrapping wet towels around her head, and tying pillows to her–but the beat-beat-beating of the hear persisted.

She started drinking. Her eyes became red, bleary; she was always pale, and she thought she might be losing her mind.

That was when she started clawing at the thumping drumbeat in the top of her head. At first with her fingers, ripping out chunks of her hair. Then, with a pick. Finally, with a pair of scissors.

One day her husband came in and found her crouched ina corner, sobbing and clawing at her bloody, barren scalp, screaming and gnashing her teeth and ripping at the flesh of her head. Chunks of skin and locks of hair clung to her bloody fingers, as she cried, “It’s in there! Oh, dear God help me, it’s in there! It’s beating, clawing, desperate to get out! To be BORN!”

He called an ambulance. She was heavily sedated. It was only a matter of time before she was confined to a sanitarium, in a padded cell, where she continued to pound her head, insensible, tortured, driven to agony, her eyes twin pits of suffering, her mouth hanging open, dripping saliva and blood where she bit her tongue and gnashed her teeth.

Exploratory surgery found nothing that could account for it.

Finally, the woman died. An autopsy revealed a hitherto undiscovered mass. It was of an unusual nature. Doctors swore it seemed to be made of fetal tissue.

It was shaped like a tiny, sleeping infant.

Like Pallas Athena was born from the cranium of Zeus, was this IT waiting to be born from the woman’s head? How will we ever know?

Her body was cremated. The incident was swept under the rug, forgotten, by all but a few.

Sewing the Devil’s Shroud


Once, there was an old woman much given to boasting and gossip. She sat all day in the market, trying to sell her wares to passersby, for she was a seamstress. She had many takers, too, for she was, indeed, very good at what she did, when she was not busy wagging her tongue.

One fine day, a tall, handsome stranger happened by, and, seeing the old woman at her place in the market, approached her, saying, “I have heard it said, here and about, that you are the finest seamstress in all the land, and that you can do any job anyone sees fit to hire you for. Is there any truth to this?”

And the old woman, full of pride and not a little foolhardy bravery, said, “Oh indeed, sir! I am the finest seamstress in all the land! Why, there is none finer than me! I work diligently, sunup to sunset, and the clothes and curtains and other fine things I turn out always fetch top price! Why, I fancy I could please the Devil himself, if given half the chance!”

At this the man laughed gleefully, his strange, dark eyes turning black inside his pale, skull-like face. He said, “Well, it appears you are going to get the chance to prove what you’ve just said! You see: I’m the Devil.”

And at this, the entire market place was shrouded in shadow, and the old woman, suddenly not so brave, took to a fit of trembling. She stammered “But, what dost thou want from ME, oh Son of Iniquity? I am but a poor, humble seamstress in a small market town!”

And the Devil laughed again, nodding his head, saying, “A seamstress thou art. But, humble? Methinks not. Ah well, Madam Seamstress, we have a little chore for you, to test the truth of your own boastful claims. If you succeed, riches and a long life are ahead of you. BUT, if you fail…I shall take your immortal soul.”

And the old woman, confused as to what to do, and not a little awestruck by her famous visitor, said, “What, oh Prince of Evil, wilt thou ask of me?”

At this the Devil said, “Ah, it is simplicity itself. I want you to sew for me a shroud, a burial shroud. And it must be the most excellent burial shrould ever conceived. Sound like a bargain?”

And the old woman, who had sewed many a burial shroud in her time (and who, at any rate, was so full of herself she couldn’t possibly refuse a challenge) said, “Why, all I have to do is sew a burial shroud, and I might attain all the riches I want, and a long life to boot? Why, I think you have yourself a bargain, oh Dark Prince of the Underworld!”

And the Devil smiled, put out his long, talon-like fingers (his nails were razor-sharp), and shook the old woman’s hand. Then, pulling at his beard and laughing to himself, he said, “There is, however, just one catch. This burial shroud, you see, is to be the biggest, grandest, most incredible burial shroud ever sewn together by human hands. It will be long enough to bury everyone ever killed in any war or famine! So you must sew, without ceasing, every day, and every night, for forty days and nights!”

And the old woman, now realizing just what she had agreed to, threw up her hands in horror, and implored, “Oh, Fallen One, I beseech thee, release me from this unworthy task. For, it is not in my meager power to accomplish it!”

But the Devil would not relent, and, stamping one foot in the dirt, said, “Quiet, thou fool! A bargain is a bargain! I will return in forty days time, and, if thou hast not woven for me the most magnificent of all burial shrouds, I will take thy soul with me to Hell, forever and ever!”

And then the Devil disappeared, in a puff of smoke and a strong whiff of rotten eggs. The old woman was left weeping and moaning in despair, but, seeing no way out of her predicament, went immediately to her little hovel and began to sew. And sew. And sew.

It was not long, however, before she began to feel very sleepy. Of course, she knew she could not stop sewing the Devil’s shroud, so she kept going, keeping her eyelids open with toothpicks.

Suddenly, she conceived of an idea.

“I know! I shall get one of the neighbor children to come in, and sew for me, and I will use the time to get some rest and sleep. And, when I awake, I will be able to begin sewing where I have left off!”

So, with both of her hands still busy, she leaned her old, grey head out the window, and, seeing a fat little boy walking across the weed-choked yard for a shortcut, she called, “Oh! Little boy, little boy! Come and help your old Mama sew this immense burial shroud. For, if you do so, there is surely a klopin in it for you!”

And upon hearing this, and imagining all the candy he could buy with his single klopin, the little boy came inside the hovel, and straightway began to sew the shroud in the old woman’s place. And the old woman was so tired she fell immediately to sleep. And the poor little boy was tasked to weave, day and night, and not stop, while the old woman slept.

The old woman had warned the boy, “You must sew and sew this shroud, while I get some sleep! And you must not stop for anything, lest the Devil come and take thy soul to Hell!”

And the little boy, suddenly terrified, did as he was told.

Soon though, tired and in tears, the little boy summoned his courage, and roused the old woman from her deep slumber. In a torrent of tears, he exclaimed, “Oh Missus, I am so tired, and my little fingers are so sore! Couldst thou not rouse thyself from thy slumber, and take my place here, sewing and sewing this accursed burial shroud?”

At hearing this, and being roused, the old woman grew exceedingly wroth, and, without thinking, smote the little child upon the head; whereupon, he fell into the great folds of the shroud.

The old woman was horrified, but, not for a moment daring to cease the sewing of the shroud, straightway sewed the corpse of the little boy into the folds of the shroud–like a fly caught in the web of a great spider. And she began again to sew.

Soon, she was again very tired, though, but she thought to herself, “I know! I shall get one of the neighbor children to come in and help sew, while I rest! I have done it before, and I can do so again!”

And so she did. And, while the unlucky little chap sewed and sewed furiously, she slept. But, first, this time she laid out a plan so as to allow her to sleep the rest of the forty days and nights until the Devil came.

She baked three blueberry pies, and laid them, one after the other, upon her porch. Soon, the delicious aroma of the pie drew a fat little boy to her porch, investigating what it was that smelled so good.

“Oh, Missus, pray tell what is it that smells so delicious?” asked the little boy.

“Methinks it is this delicious pie, my little friend.”

And to this, the child asked, “May I not have a taste of this delicious pie, Missus?”

And to that, the old woman replied, “You may. But first, you must come inside and visit me awhile, my little friend.”

To which the child replied, “Okay, I will come inside and visit thee awhile, Missus, and then you will give me a taste of your delicious pie!”

And so the rosy-cheeked little chap went inside, and the old woman fell upon him, and, grabbing him about the throat, exclaimed, “Now you must sew, and sew, and sew this shroud! And you must not stop, or else the Devil will appear and take thy soul to Hell!”

And so, weeping, the little boy began to sew the shroud; and the old woman slept. And, when she awoke, the little boy, frantically begging her to come and take his place, so infuriated the mad old woman that she smote him on the head, just as she had done to the one before him.

He fell over, stone dead. She was not at all concerned this time, however, for she simply began to sew him into the shroud, as she had done previously, and in no time, his little body was hidden in the massive folds.

She smiled to herself (a hideous sight to behold) and, carefully laid out the other two pies, in no time attracting more children to put to work sewing the shroud. Soon, she had little slaves working day and night as they wept, and she was able to lie down and get her much-needed “beauty sleep” (not that it would have helped her looks very much).

Well, forty days and nights passed rather more quickly than what she expected, and the shroud grew and grew until it spilled out of doorways, and across the yard, and into the woods, and down the hill…until there was hardly any room to move.

Noting that it was now the fortieth day, the old woman busily went about preparing for the Devil’s visit. She took a great rolling pin, and, sneaking up behind each of her little slaves, forthwith pounded them on top of their noggins, until each fell bleeding into the shroud. Then, she sewed up their bodies in the immense cloth, and busily sewing up the last few stitches, then sat herself down to wait.

Well, it was a matter of only a few minutes before the dogs in the neighborhood began to howl dismally, and the room grew colder, as the wind outside grew hot, and a curious smell of rotten eggs pervaded the room. Suddenly, in a flash of light and a puff of smoke, the Devil appeared, dressed in his long, flowing black cloak and cap.

“Well, have you done as I instructed, and sewed for forty days and forty nights, unceasing, and made for me the finest and largest burial shroud that the world has ever seen?”

And at this the old woman smiled, and folding her hands under her chin as if in prayer, she said, “Oh yes, Prince of evil, I most certainly have! Why, just look and see for yourself how enormous this shroud is, how it spills forth from every doorway, and out the house and across the garden, and down the hill, and all the way to town!”

And at hearing this, the Devil smiled, and said, “Very well! it appears as if you have done exactly what I asked. For such devotion and loyalty, riches and a long life shall certainly be yours!”

And the Devil began to take up the folds of his great shroud when, suddenly, a weird, whimpering cry could be heard from within the cloth.

it was one of the children! The old woman had thought she had brained them all, but she was mistaken. One was till alive, and had woken up, sewed tight into the shroud.

it took only a bare minute for the Devil to realize what she had done. He howled in a terrific rage, his face growing dark, “Accursed fool! You tried to trick me into thinking YOU had sewn the shroud by yourself, when, in reality, you kept these children your prisoner, and made THEM do it for you. And then, MURDERED them to boot!”

And, though the old woman tried to deny it, she knew she was done for.

“Fool! Do you know that you can NOT TRICK THE DEVIL?” He raged, and stamped his foot, and, outside, the dogs sent up a torrent of howls, and birds dropped dead from the sky, and huge blast of rotten egg stink blew in with the wind.

He then calmed himself, and said, “For your cowardly, dishonest act, you shall pay with your immortal soul. And worse! Now, prepare thyself for unending PAIN!”

And with that, he took immense sewing needles and jammed them in the old woman’s eyes, and jammed more into her fingers. He then produced two iron boots, red hot, and put them on her feet, so that the pain was incredible.

Then, gathering up his shroud and his captive, he set the old woman’s hut alight with a snap of his fingers, and disappeared back to Hell, where he and the old woman are down to present times.

And the moral of this story? Could be, “Watch out what you boast about,” or “Put your money where your mouth is.” Or, if you want to consider it from the viewpoint of the children, lured by the promise of a klopin and blueberry pie, it might be, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” or “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Or, taken from the perspective of the Devil, it might be “Never trust a braggart,” or, “Always be wary when people make fantastic claims about themselves.”

Or YOU might think of another moral for our little tale. We simply wanted to tell the tale. Really, can YOU think of what it all might really mean?

The Murder Kit

The woman was headed to her class reunion. She was dolled up prettily, and not looking any the worse for wear despite the twenty-five years of time that had elapsed. “Besides,” she reminded herself, “half of the people who show up are going to be old, fat, and fifty. On the whole, I think I’ve made out okay. Whaddya say, toots?”

She smiled at herself in the rearview. She, indeed, was not too bad a looker for her age. Still had all of her teeth, a full head of lustrous, black hair, and not many lines or wrinkles around the eyes. Yet.

“It’s because I use an exfoliating gel scrub,” she reminded herself. She turned into the filling station and decided he needed a quick jolt of something for the drive ahead.

“Just go for a Diet Coke. That’s the ticket,” she said to herself, parking at the double glass doors, rummaging through her purse, and preparing to exit her vehicle. It was just then that she realized there was a rather handsome young man holding a brief case and standing just a few feet from her car.

He had an infectious grin, was well-dressed. Otherwise, she thought he might be some young drifter.

Neither of them spoke, then, each started to speak at the same time. The boy laughed. She thought, My! He really is quite good-looking!

“Hi, my name is Chris. I’m, well, my car is in the shop, and I really need to get to an…appointment. Mind if I?”

At first she didn’t know how to respond, or even realize what he was asking her. Then she said, “Well, I’m on my way to a class reunion, but…”

He suddenly burst into a radiant, relieved grin. He threw up his arms, and exclaimed, “Wow! You know, so am I! Wow, what are the odds we’d both be headed to the same place? Wow. Say, mind If I catch a ride with you while my car is being repaired?”

She put her hands to her lips uncertainly. But she was not one of those people who could easily say no. And he was so young and charming!

“Well, I suppose…” she began, perplexed as to how to respond.

“Great!” he exclaimed. Here, just let me go an straighten things out with the mechanic–”

And he opened up her car door, putting his briefcase in the backseat. He then said, “My, it really is a stroke of good luck, me finding you, and both of us going to the same class reunion! What are the odds?”

And, smiling, he turned and walked back to ward the garage, gesturing over his shoulder that he would be back in just a minute.

Anxious and a little excited, she got back behind the wheel. And waited. And waited. But, the young man must have been tied up on some minor business detail with the mechanic. At any rate, she started thinking to herself that the whole thing seemed fishy. He was much too young to be going to her class reunion, she surmised. And, well, you could always be charmed by a snake…

She started up the car, put her foot to the gas, and headed on her way.

Later, after the affair was over; after dinner and drinks and dancing, and reminiscing with old friends that were now married, fat, bald and well past their prime, she was headed out to the parking lot to get on the road home (she had soberly stuck to non-alcoholic punch all night), and, getting in her car, she spied the young man’s briefcase.

Oh my! she said to herself. “I’ve run off with it. And I don’t even know his name!”

She reached in the back, retrieved the briefcase. She was vaguely aware, in the back of her mind, of some small chatter that had gone on during the reunion, something about an escaped inmate…but she had been having too much fun to pay any real attention to it.

She got the briefcase out, put it on the hood of her car, snapped it open.

Inside, she found a roll of duct tape.

A length of rope.

A mask.

A few rags that looked as if they might be used as gags.

A bloody knife, some locks of hair…


The body was tossed to and from in the surf. Diometes paused for a moment, listening to some vast inner calling, some crystal voice out of the blue; perhaps out of the black.

Slanting rays of sunlight painted the cascades in rapturous color. Time stood still for a moment. For him time must always stand still.

He approached slowly. The thing was bloated in the surf, filled to bursting with salt water. Yet, stills supple, still exuded the elusive quality of coy humanity that must have marked her in life. In truth, she could have been a pale blue doll tossed to an fro on the gentle tide, , washed in salty brine and sand, spied from above by the beady, hungry eyes of suspicious gulls.

She was still shrouded in her sopping robes. Who was she? Who had she been? Had she been a wife, a mother? He didn’t know. His mind peered over the lifeless, bloated visage, into the unseeing eyes, seeing for a moment, another image, an image that was dear to him, and hateful to.

“Your daughter has been unfaithful to me. And with her own flesh and blood she has worked that which is unseemly. Whatever are we to do?”

He spoke calmly, serenely to father Troezen, his careful, thoughtful words underpinning the old man’s shame.

“I shall…”

But the old man’s lips quivered and his brow fell heavily in pained anguish. The sun rose and the sun set, illuminating the world and then casting it into shuddering darkness. The days failed to grasp his consciousness very tightly; he surmised he was simply insulating himself from the pain of regret, of rejection.

The old man beat Evopis fiercely, her shrieks of protestations and cries of abuse ringing throughout the household, shuffling servants bowing their heads low over their toil, trying as best as they could to ignore the shouts of accusation, the tears of protestation, the sounds of the blows falling.

The brother and lover simply skulked in the shadows, a look of shame and dishonor crossing his brow. Soon, he would go into exile, ride away on a donkey, cover his face with his cloak. He would go about the world to seek absolution for his sin. But, he was already wondering: could those without shame, truly find forgiveness. Inside, he felt few regrets, except, of course, for the crime of being found out.

Dimoetes had walked in on their mad embrace. His eyes had bulged and his cheeks had flushed hot at seeing the brother thrust himself between the ample thighs of his own sister, Dimoetes’ sweet little Evopis. The maidenhead burst like a grape. And this was not an act of rape, as her clinging fingers and cries of sweet, remorseless passion gave testimony to. Both of the shamed lovers tried to hide themselves from Dimoetes’ baleful stare, and the brother ran into the shadows.

But he had seen. He knew.

However, like so many other recent images, it faded into the obscurity of rememberance as just another scene, void of feeling and emotion, as cold and flat as a fish out of water, a portrait plucked from the storehouse of recent memory, almost like an image from a dream.

The feet of a corpse are never beautiful. Staring upward, he could see her hanging there by her scrawny neck, her hair, now shot with streaks of white, falling over her pained, pinched, inert face; the face of a battered and bruised doll. She had ended her life when her lover left, when their taboo romance was discovered, when she was threatened to be turned out into the streets like a dog, cast away like a leper in disgrace.

But with her dying breath she had cursed the man who did this to her. No, not the seductive brother, but her own HUSBAND, whom she died despising as a traitor, an usurper of passionate, if forbidden romance. Or so the servants whispered.

His cold lack of affect shocked others, but he confessed that, at this point, “I cannot allow my self to feel. The pain is too great.”

To which the old servant woman, who he knew loved him passionately, replied, “Go then. find your soul, your destiny. But, in the fullness of time, come back to us.”

And so he went. And the dreamlike days passed. and it was then that he found himself walking the coastline, staring at the thing washed up from the depths, the thing that should, by all rights, repulse him, but did not.

He carried the thing home. It’s sopping garments, its burial shroud acted as a sort of pulley by which to manage the dead weight. But, as light as the poor thing was, it was nothing for him to, eventually, pick her up in his powerful arms, take her back to his dark, dank abode.

He uncovered her face His private angel, his little doll, his vision of heaven. He remembered the dead, corpse feet of Evopis, her swinging form suspended like some grim lantern from the ceiling of the bridal chamber.

Ah! Here was a fulfilment, then, of the promise of his wedding. His black wedding; his marriage to the dead.

He swept his electrified eyes across the face, drank in the deathly pallor, caressed the cold flesh.

bending, he placed the first few kisses upon the cold, shriveling cheek. He began to play the folds of the burial shroud, his heart hammering in his chest at the blasphemous taboo he was transgressing, the social bond he was breaking. In his mind, he endowed the cold husk with voice, with gaiety and warmth, laughter, romance and love. He entered her, thrusting in mad passion against entropy, seeding the rebirth of a romance that could defy death and time. (Or, as one would put it, “putting his loaves in a cold oven.”)

He built a life for her in his dreams, endowing her with all of the attributes of a living, breathing woman, a woman that could never be, the “Bride of the Black Wedding,” the image of perfection–even as she rot and lie stinking in his bed, drawing vermin.

It was not long that, like sands flowing through the fingers of a desperate man, all attempts to resurrect the image of her, to make love to the one yielding perfect (because silent, malleable and inert) romance of his life, that he realized her woman hood had become to rotted with corruption to accommodate his lust any longer.
Indeed, she was now a putrefied, degraded thing, a thing that stank abominably, that was too rotted to be enjoyed, to be mocked-up in a fantasy vision of inviolable, perfect, and dream-like romance.

“I shall build for you the perfect crypt, oh my sweet, my dearest one. It shall be a bridal chamber the likes of which no one has ever seen before, or shall ever see again. And I will stay with there, all the day and the night..”

(One is here reminded of Annabel Lee, whom Poe vowed he would “…all the night tide, lie down by the side, of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride…” Also of the short poem by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester which has the words: “Stay for me there: I will not fail / To meet thee in that hollow vale.”)

And so build it he did, a tomb in the side of a cliff. And if it was but a hollowed cave, a poor specimen of what he, in his fevered imaginings, had intended, it was no one’ fault, but merely his isolation and poverty. But, in his mind’s eye, the walls were smooth, perfect, engraved with proclamations of his great love, forming a stone screen for the images of his hot imaginings.

Yet, he knew it for what it was: simply another version of the lifeless, dead womb, a huge, confining prison-like womb that would never birth new life, but merely contain the seeds of one brutally and unceremoniously ended, the last vestiges of material life as it seeped into nothingness, forgotten.

And so, falling upon the sarcophagi n a fit of terror and shame, his emotions finally giving vent in a torrent of grief more powerful than any he had ever felt before, a deep metaphysical anguish that felt crushed beneath the futility of life and time, the dissolution and inevitability of entropy, decay and death, he plunged his sword into his breast up to the hilt, and, pouring his life’s blood across the stone floor of the crypt, died beside his love, and is with her still.

This One’ll Kill Ya!

Okay I got this story but nobody gonna believe it, dig? I heard it firsthand from a friend of my neighbor’s wife. There was this funeral home–yeah, you know, that one on the corner down by Madison? That may be the one, I can’t really remember. Well, anyway, turns out the funeral director had this little son. Well, maybe he wasn’t so little, maybe he was thirteen or fourteen.

Anyway, he gets this gag where he likes hiding in the showroom coffins in his pop’s funeral parlor, and maybe he covered his face in corpse paint, and when he’d invite his little school chums over, he pops out of a casket. Scares the you-know-what outta ’em.

Anyway, so the little troll gets himself a casket fixation, all the time is messing around in the showroom with his pop’s showroom models. Well, one day, this casket comes in, and its a special model from some foreign…some sort of export. Real high-end, real expensive.

So Pop’s tells his son, “Don’t you go messing around with that coffin! That one I can’t afford to have anyone touch. Man, that sucker costs a pretty penny, junior!”

And so the kid says, “Solid, Pop!” And maybe Pops shows him the price tag or catalog or whatever.

But, as soon as Pops is down in the prep room, embalming the bodies or whatever, junior takes it into his head he’s gonna give that new casket a whirl, see? So he climbs in, and lays down, and it’s got that satin lining, and is real comfortable, and he starts feeling a little sleepy, so, in a short amount of time, he’s nodded off in this damn casket!

So an hour later a couple of workmen come in, and neither one of them is ever going to get elected a member of Mensa, if you know what I mean; and they take one look at the boy in the casket, and what do you think they do?

Slam the lid of that sucker shut, that’s what!

And one of them says, “Does this heap go to Mourningside or Gardens of memory?”

And the other one says, “Nah, this ain’t no burial, ya mook! It’s a CREMATION.”

Ha! See I told ya this one’ll kill ya!