This is a short story written years ago, not exactly sure when. It’s part of a larger story, but I found this piece interesting to show here. Consider it a rough draft. Enjoy.
It was a wonderful night. I was being celebrated at our annual work function party, which usually could be a dreadfully stale occasion. Being a manager has its perks and of course the cons. I won our local area sales awards. Making sales wasn’t a difficult task for me, you could say I have a certain way with people. I loved chatting with people, mostly strangers, and loved wearing these fancy suits. The one I’m wearing now is one of my favorites, navy blue jacket and pants, dark gray shirt. One of our assistants Sally calls out to me, she is a fine secretary, but a bit on the annoying side. Sometimes I can’t stand her, but God help her she’s great at what she does.
“Hey you, congratulations! We’re all so proud of you. Won’t you have a shot with me?”
“Sorry, Sally, I’m retiring early tonight. It’s been a long day and this is a bit too much social interaction for me.” I exhaustedly said. “Alright suit yourself” replied Sally. I went around a hobgobbed with some of the salesman, and women, before I left. No need to be rude, but I needed some special time to myself tonight, I needed to soak up this win and relax. My work weeks gratefully let me work what I’d like and reward me at work, but to support myself I tend to work longer days and seemingly longer weeks. It’ll all be worth it in the end, I tell myself.
Before leaving I, of course, need to stop by to thank the bossman, Jim Talberd. He’s the biggest swine of them all. I’m pretty sure he’s porked Sally on an occasion or two. I am wise enough to play smart with his games and give the ole smile and agree nod whenever I’m speaking with him but truth be told he’s my least liked person at my company and probably one of the worst people. He lives not far from here and tends to walk to the office as I do, thankfully we’re not close to each otherwise I’d elect to move myself across town or i’d be apt to change workplace, which would be impossible to do in this town, so then it’d be just another matter of moving towns. He’s that bad of a human being.
“Linda, have you seen Jim?” She was another salesman, or is it saleswoman? I try to be politically correct as much as I can be, partly because I want to be polite and kind to all people of ethnicity, culture, or sex but also because it’s not very pc to not be pc. It’s all so hectic and gives me a headache. “No clue, he was in the lobby. You’re not leaving are you?”
“Yeah, long day, gonna get home and rest you know.”
She was a hard worker like me and sighed. “Me too, congratulations by the way! Love ya!” I liked Linda. I respected her, she had seniority over me but didn’t and wouldn’t parade it over me. That was nice. She was too kind.
Walking towards the lobby I spot Jim leaving through the doors and I decide it best to avoid him and let him leave. I see him stumbling around and already knew he had a few too many. A few too many, a few too many times I have been there and unlike Jim, I didn’t go home and beat my wife and kids. Jim probably did, but I wasn’t sure. His family never looked happy to see him, but I don’t judge too harshly. I don’t have a family of my own. I wouldn’t want one to disappoint, to neglect, to abandon. So I maintain my path, it’s better this way. Standing there in the lobby there are a few other employees, but nobody I shoot the shit with and nobody I would smalltalk with, not even about the weather. Time to go home.
On my way out I decided to take the long way home. It was a few miles, but a beautiful walk through the town, our little big city. The town was old and felt like even older ancestry that reside here. Many generations have lived and died here. Folks tend to stay here, something about this place keeps you from venturing out too permanently but it’s pleasing nonetheless living here. The bare roads at this time of night, a bit past one a.m., look beautiful about now. There’s nothing like the long way home. My suit blends in with the night shadows, I hope any cars will be able to see me.
After a bit I felt a chill breeze through my spine and I glanced over my shoulder but nothing was there. The streets were empty with not a person nor car in sight. It was perfect, as I preferred it. I wondered walking down the road many things and why I am in the state in life and why I have to work at a place where my time is taken and used so wastefully. I wondered about finding a new job, a new place to start, maybe a new town. But what catalyst would come rescue me and take me away?
The wind whispers to me and continues to tell me that something is not right. I quicken my pace and jump onto the sidewalk, avoiding the crack. I see the tree shadows glaring down deep into me but that’s not quite right I thought, tree shadows don’t stare. They did seem to be bending in an odd direction away from where the building shadows are angled. My mind seems to make a mental note, but I heed no attention and just worry about my work, only a worry worth worrying about, I think.
I pass by Saint Mary’s Church and I never miss noticing the building hasn’t been restored after the fire a few years back. The town has left it half burnt away into ash. Black boards lay on the ground, even local children don’t go picking them up and playing with them. It seems everybody has just ignored it and hope that nobody mentions the burnt up church in conversation. My mother used to take me there when I was little and she was a believer. She is no longer a believer, or as she may say she longer has the faith. It was strange hearing her refer to people as believers and nonbelievers. Nonbeliever’s would burn in hell with the brute force of Satan for all eternity, she would say. I’m unsure where I will find myself when my eyes close for the last time. Churches are naturally creepy places at night and always bring forth these thoughts in my head.
I remember also a church pastor about forty years ago went insane and butchered his family with a chainsaw. He gathered them in the master bedroom for a meeting and walked right in there, lit the thing up, and went to town on his own family. Two kids. Wife. Even the dog. The paper refused to publish it, no thing like that would help anybody and of course everybody knew anyways. Families wouldn’t buy the paper, they don’t want their kids, who knew and told tales, of what happened at Pastor Richards household. The house was abandoned, never sold, because the event would have to be said. Small towns have a way of hiding their secrets better than cities. In big cities, things like that become news, and shrugged off as quickly as it may have happened. Whereas here, they are a tattoo, needled down until the town dies. Why did Pastor Richards slaughter his wife, two kids, and family dog? Well, he walked out of his house and waited for police to arrive at this door. Pastor Richards was wearing his clerical collar, bible in hand, as I began his sermon to the police officers. They noticed the bloody chainsaw behind him laying in the entranceway and pulled out their weapons. It was just a sheriff and his deputy, both of course knew Pastor Richards very well, they attend his sermon every Sunday morning. Nobody knows if he intended a blue death or not, for it was too late to ask him when he pulled out his dinner knife and slit his throat as slowly as a turtle moving. Church was never quite the same after that. Wasn’t as fun, I would say.
The sidewalk ended and I find myself back on the pavement following the curvature of the trees. I hear a whimper in the wind and wonder what could be making such a noise. Looking over my shoulder behind me I see nothing and maintain my pace moving forward. Other than that I hear just a tap tap from my feet stomping step by step on the ground. Another chill breeze slides through my clothes and another noise curls my attention all around me, not simply behind but circumventing me, confusing my senses. I hear someone.
My pace quickens, I feel a presence watching and maybe following me. I can’t afford to be watched. I can’t stand it. This time of the night there is never anybody on the streets, not an urchin nor street walker. Decidedly to for a sooner return I take a detour through an alleyway and through the park to which my apartment lays on the other side. The buildings seemed to be leaning towards each other and a dark shadow yards in front of me walking in the same direction as if leading me towards my destination. I’m not sure if this was a comfort or a warning, but I maintained my pace and marched forward.
The shadow leading me dissipated upon touching the street, strayed away by the streetlights gleaming down towards the pavement. Across the way was the park, a shadow infested glassland with evenly spaced trees surrounding the area. Have you ever been in a forest and no matter which way you looked at the trees were the same in all directions? That was Palisades park. It was normally a beautiful park, but at night like most things could turn real dark. I felt the presence ever closer though. There are two pathways to cross through, one which is more naturally made, by the park geology and hikers simply walking through over and over, and another of stone and fence made for more casual walkers. It was usually a very nice park. I continue to hear a whisper in the wind, now more a shrill sound of warning. The trees seem to be more bent towards me, the shadows gazing even longing at me and it frightens me. Frightens me enough to pick up my pace to light jog and to escape this place. The trees swirled around me, I fell down to my knees and laid to the side. I think I had fallen asleep.
The next thing I remember is my dream. I lowered my body down and kept my cover low, making sure if whoever is watching is missing the details of my figure. I can already hear the scream. And it’s a lovely voice feeling my ears with fear and loss of hope. It’s a sweet taste.
It took all of about ten seconds to realize nobody was around but one in front of me. I quietly approached them from behind, wrapped my arms around their neck and covered their mouth with my hand and forcefully threw them down on the ground bashing their head onto a rock. Sure there would be blood remaining, but nobody would find the body, not unless I want it to be found. Keeping my hands around their mouth, arms around their neck for several minutes to ensure a passing. It was a gamble to be seen, but I was careful to make sure it was quiet at night and no one was around. Of course I didn’t want the body to awaken at some point and overthrow me, I have to be careful. It was dark. Any witness would not be sure what they are seeing. At this time of the night it could be two lovers going at it in the dark Palisades park. My apartment was only across the street from the far side of the park, another image to be seen would be two buddies with one carrying his drunken companion home from a bar. Not unheard of.
I woke up underneath those trees I fell under. A feeling of wonder and glee overcame me, I felt good. An hour had passed beneath the stars and full moon. I noticed I think, for the first real time something hidden here. Palisades park is a beautiful place. Perfect for bringing a family for a picnic, having a ball game, hiking with a friend, or bashing the brains out of stranger in the dead of night. It was a place known for happy memories, for the bad times were usually dragged away and buried or burned. Unfortunately these voices speaking in my mind are making me lose control, but for now, only in my dreams will I follow you home.
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