21 The Woods – Kevin and Jesse (1985) by LV Gaudet

•December 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

1

The boys are rummaging around the house for stuff to throw.  Kevin finds his baseball and bat, setting them by the back door.

“You going to hit it out of the yard?”  Jesse picks up the bat and ball, making as if to toss the ball in the air with one hand and try to swing the bat and hit it.

“Put it down.  You know how Mom is about that stuff in the house.  Come on, stop messing around and help me find stuff.”

Jessie gives the ball a toss in the air, trying to catch it with one hand, misses, and the heavy ball hits the floor with a loud thud.

Kevin turns and gives him a reproachful look.  If Mom was there, they’d both be in trouble.  He frowns.  Mom isn’t here.  They might never see her again to give them trouble.  Tears burn at his eyes, and he rubs them roughly, pushing the tears away.  I’m the man of the house, I can’t cry.  I have to hold it together for Jesse.

He continues the search.  They pile their treasures at the door until he decides they have enough.  It’s an eclectic pile including the bat and ball, a Frisbee, a shoe, a couple books and toys, a few of their dad’s tools, and other assorted items.

The boys stop and look down at their collection, satisfied they have enough for their experiment.

“Okay, let’s do this,” Kevin says.

Jesse swallows and looks at his brother nervously.  “I hope we don’t make the woods mad,” he thinks.

The boys start hauling their loot outside to the back yard.

“Let’s bring it around the side,” Kevin says when they get outside with their first armloads.

They make a pile at the side of the house, on the other side from where they tried to make their escape earlier, ending up somehow in the woods with no idea how they got there.

They return to the house for another armload each, then stand for a long moment staring off beyond their yard, their treasures scattered at their feet.

“Reginald McDonnelly,” Kevin says.

“What?”  Jesse looks at him.

“The house across the street.  Reginald McDonnelly.  We all always thought he was some kind of stuck up jerk with a name like that.  I mean, who has a name like Reginald?  I never liked him.  He was strange.  I saw him, you know, just sitting in there, staring out the window.  Watching us play in the street, me and the other boys.  He just sat there, not moving, like he couldn’t or something.  It was creepy.  Creepy Reginald McDonnelly, the Rennie-aldi McDummy.  We caught him outside alone once on the other side of town.  We beat him up, with sticks and rocks.  He crawled and whimpered on the ground like a beat dog, crying.  He never begged us to stop, you know.  We told him, just beg Dodgy Doggie McDonnelly, beg like a dog, beg us to stop.  He never begged, not once.”

“Did you feel bad after?”

“No.  Maybe.  Yes.  I felt bad.  I couldn’t admit it to the guys.  I’d look weak.  I couldn’t admit it to myself.  It would only make me feel worse.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because, what I wouldn’t give to be able to just walk over there right now, knock on old Creepy Dodgy Doggie Reginald McDonnelly’s door and say I’m sorry.  What I wouldn’t give right now to cross that street and beg him to forgive me.”

“He moved away.”

“I know.”  Kevin rubs each of his eyes once with his coat sleeve, hard, trying to rub away the tears burning there.  He looks down at the junk laying around them.

“Okay, let’s get this started.”  He stoops down and picks up a shoe.

“Wait,” Jessie grabs his arm, holding him back from throwing.  He closes his eyes, just standing there.

“What are you doing, Jessie?”

“Praying.”

“Praying for what?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t know how to pray for something like this.  I thought, now I lay me down to sleep, but I don’t want to sleep.  I’m scared to sleep.”

“Just open your eyes.”

Jessie opens his eyes, looking at Kevin.  “Say something, Kevin.  Please?”

“Fine.”

Jessie closes his eyes again.

Kevin thinks.  “I can’t think of anything.”

“Maybe it’s the thought, maybe it doesn’t matter what you say?”

“Okay, here goes.”  Kevin thinks again.  “Please God, let us live through this and get the Hell out of here.”

“You cussed.  I don’t think prayers work if you cuss.”

“Shut up, let’s just do this.”

Jessie opens his eyes and watches Kevin pull his arm back, ready to swing.

“Wait.”

Kevin groans.  “What?”

Jessie covers his eyes with both hands, taking a deep breath and holding it.  “Okay, go,” he mumbles around his puffed out cheeks, trying not to lose the air he’s holding.

Kevin throws the shoe.  It flies through the air, plopping in the snow on the ground ahead.

“What happened?” Jessie mumbles through his puffed out cheeks and puckered closed lips.

“Nothing.”

Jessie pulls his hands away, looking around and letting the air escape.  “What do you mean nothing?”

“Just that.  Nothing.  Look, it’s just lying there.”

“We got further than that on the other side of the house. It’s still in the yard.”

“I know.  I’m just testing for now, throwing it so it lands in the yard.  Next one I’m going to throw further.”

Kevin picks up another item and throws it.  It flies through the air, plopping into the snow a little further than the shoe did.

“It’s still in.”

Kevin nods. “You try one.”

Jessie looks at him fearfully.

“Come on, nothing happened.  I think it’s just us maybe that can’t leave the yard.”

Jessie looks around at their feet, picks something, and throws it.  It doesn’t even reach the shoe.

“Really?  Is that all you’ve got?”

Jessie tries again, flushing at his brother’s taunting.  He takes a few steps forward this time and he launches the object.  It lands further, closer to the edge of the yard.

The boys spend the next while throwing stuff closer and closer to the edge.  Finally, Kevin throws the baseball a little too hard.

“It’s outside,” Jessie cries excitedly, “Kevin, it’s outside the yard!”

Kevin frowns uncertainly.  Is it really?  Or is the edge of the yard further than he thought?  It’s hard to tell with the snow.  He stares at the baseball.

“Let’s try poking stuff though.”  He bends down, picking up the broom.  Holding it by the tip, the other end sagging down to the ground, not strong enough to hold it straight out, he slowly advances towards the edge of the property, gingerly poking the broom ahead.

“Not too close,” Jessie warns, anxious about Kevin moving forward.

Tense, Kevin steps closer to the ball, reaching out as far as he can without dropping the broom, jamming it forward.  Finally, he tosses it.

“Now that definitely went out of the yard.”

Kevin looks around for something else to try.

“Jesse, bring me your bike.”

Jessie looks horrified.  “Why my bike?”

Kevin puffs out an exasperated sigh.  “Fine, then bring my bike.”

Jessie scurries off, coming back with Kevin’s bike.  “Now what?”

“We push it through.”

“That means getting closer.”

“I’ll take the front, you take the back.”

Together, they roll the bike one tentative step forward, then another.

“Almost there,” Kevin says.  His voice is tight with strain.  “Get ready.  When I say ‘go’ we run five steps and only five, got it?  We’ll count them together.  Any more than that and we risk getting too close to the barrier.  Five steps and we push the bike through with all we’ve got and let it go.”

Jessie stares sallowly at the invisible barrier before them, trapping them here.

 

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Garden Grove: 5 The Coffee Clutch – Coffee by LV Gaudet

•December 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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Another round of coffee was poured in the little kitchen for the four women of the coffee clutch.

“I just can’t take it anymore,” Libby Waterbourne moaned.  “The beeping and constant noise of the tractors first thing in the morning, I swear they start earlier every day and it goes on all day long.”

“And the garbage,” Mrs. Henderson complained.  “Why do they have to just toss their garbage all over the place?  Are they men or pigs?”

Mrs. Henderson was new to the group today.  She’s a long time resident of the small community, but not well known.  Her regal bearing gives her an unapproachable feel and none of the other women have ever given her more than a self-conscious wave in passing.  The kind of wave small town people give other small town people whether they know each other or not.

None of them wanted to come right out and admit to her face they didn’t know her first name, and last names are just too formal for a cozy coffee chat.  So, they just talked around not mentioning her by name.

“You should see the mess they left in front of my driveway,” Barbara added, “big chunks of mud in the road.  I had to move them just to get my car out.”

“Are you sure they aren’t just from your mudslinging with the neighbour, Barb?” Pamela joked.

“Funny.”  Barb eyed her levelly.  She didn’t think it was funny.  She’s had an ongoing feud with the neighbour beside her ever since their kid started walking the dog and letting it poop on her lawn last summer.  The kid never picked the dog’s poop up and it drove her crazy.

“Did you hear that old Mrs. Crampchet poisoned the work crew?” Libby asked.

The women all made the appropriate shocked faces and sounds, even though they’d all heard the story already.  News like this travels faster than a cold virus in a small town.

“I heard they decided she just put something into the dainties by accident, that she has dementia.”

“If that old Mrs. Crampchet has dementia, then I have six toes,” Mrs. Henderson humphed.

They all glanced quickly at her socked feet even though they knew she meant it sarcastically.

They looked up at her face, wondering what she knew.

The constant growl and beep of construction equipment in the background never ceased.  The incessant banging going on at the same time grated on the women’s nerves even more.

Silence fell on the coffee clutch, but it did not last.  They sipped their coffee and talked about old Mrs. Crampchet and the skull discovered on the jobsite.  They all wondered the same thing, although no one voiced it.

Even though the authorities decided it was just an old relic from the days of homesteaders crossing the prairies, they could not help but wonder if it could really be a long ago victim of Mrs. Crampchet’s pastries.  After all, the woman is so old and has lived in her little home her whole life.

They lapsed into silence again.

“I wish there was something we could do to just shut them up,” Mrs. Henderson said suddenly, breaking the silence.

The other women all tried to hide their smirks.

Libby stifled a giggle.

Mrs. Henderson looked around at them, suspicious.

“You know,” Mrs. Henderson said casually, “I heard rumours there’s been a lot of vandalism at the new housing development they’re building.”

She sipped her coffee, looking at the other women over the rim.

Pamela and Libby exchanged conspiratorial glances, trying to hide them from Mrs. Henderson.

“I think it’s a bunch of kids,” Mrs. Henderson continued, “teenagers probably, from the high school.”

“Teenagers,” Pam nodded.

“Definitely teenagers,” Barb agreed,

“You know,” Libby said thoughtfully, “I don’t think the kids have done anything to their port-a-potties yet.”

“That’s good,” Pamela said.  “That would be terrible.”

“Messing with a man’s toilet,” Barb agreed, “that would just be too low.”

“Especially after eating old Mrs. Crampchet’s pastries,” Mrs. Henderson added, giving them a knowing look that did not crack her always serious expression.

They all turned to stare at her.  She made a joke!  None of them could ever imagine this stoic woman would ever crack a joke.

That night four figures skulked around the construction site in the cover of darkness, furtively running from the deep shadows of one hulking piece of equipment to another.

The stoic face of Mrs. Henderson was caught briefly in the pale moonlight as they fled the scene.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

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Creepiest Cases from UNSOLVED MYSTERIES | Blumhouse.com

•December 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Nightmares… of the unsolved

http://www.blumhouse.com/2016/02/18/creepiest-cases-from-unsolved-mysteries/

20 The Woods – Henry and June (1985) by LV Gaudet

•December 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

1

June looks out the window to the backyard.  The snow is tramped down, ugly and mangled, from the many pairs of boots that have walked all over it again and again, fanning out through the woods.  The fields beyond the woods look the same.

She can see movement through the naked branches of the trees.  The searchers are out yet again, covering the same ground they have covered repeatedly.

She feels like screaming at them.  “Why aren’t they looking for my boys?  They already looked there.  Look somewhere else, somewhere new.  Stop wasting your damned time looking in the same places over and over again.”

How many times has she done the exact same thing?  It doesn’t matter what she was looking for.  When her mind came up blank, she’d resort to mindlessly searching the same places in the house again and again.  It never did any good.  It was always a waste of time and energy.

“Find my boys damn it, and stop playing these games.  Looking where you already looked never finds anything.”

She feels filled to bursting with the anguish over her boys, and with the feeling of uselessness forced on her.

She turns away, unable to look anymore, stifling a sob.  “They won’t even let me help look for them.”

It’s the worst torment a mother can have; to know your children are out there somewhere, alive and alone, and unable to know where they are.  Unable to do anything about it.  Unable to help them.  Treated by those who are only trying to help as if you are a helpless child yourself.

The desperate need to save her children has torn a little piece of her soul out each of these mornings she woke without her boys.

The sound of voices from the living room is incessant.  She wishes they would go away, all of them.  “I want my house back, my life… my boys.”

The voices in the other room are too loud. Someone is laughing.  They are not the solemn voices befitting the moment.  It sounds like a party in there.

One of the women comes breezing into the kitchen, smiling.  “How’s that coffee coming, June? Do you need help?”  She glances at the kitchen table, set with dinner settings for four, and briskly stacks plates, glasses, and cutlery, pushing them off to the side.

June glances at the coffee pot percolating on the counter behind her, and back to the woman.  The woman is a neighbour from across town, one she knows by face but doesn’t know.

“There, now we have some room to cut up those dainties.”

June watches her help herself to pans from the fridge, and those sitting on the counter, setting them on the kitchen table.  Getting a knife from the drawer, she starts cutting them up and setting the pieces on the top dinner plate until it’s full, then moving it and filling a second plate.

She briskly walks out with the two plates, setting them on the coffee table and returning to fill the third.

The table bothers June, like an itch that needs to be scratched.  She wants to fix it.

“Junie, you are being ridiculous,” she thinks.  It’s not like they’ve been gone a few hours.  They won’t expect the table to be set for supper.”

She turns to filling coffee cups and setting them on a tray.  She follows the other woman out with the coffee.  She sets the tray on the coffee table to the pleasure of the people congregating there, and returns to the kitchen for the milk and sugar.

With dainties and coffee served, June wanders down the hall to her bedroom, feeling lost and needing a moment to herself.  She closes the door softly, leaning against it, and allows herself to have a mini meltdown.  She can hear them out there, repeating her name.  June.  June.  June.  Looking for her.  All she wants is to be left alone, to have some time to feel the sorrow and fear over her missing boys without having to always pretend to be okay.

“I’m not okay.  Jessie and Kevin are missing and they are not okay.  They’re in trouble and afraid.  I can feel it.”

She pulls herself together, checks her face and hair, puts on a brave face, and leaves the bedroom.

June goes into the living room and notices the comic book missing from the floor.  Her first thought is that someone must have picked it up.

She’s barely in the room and they are on her.

“June, here sit down.”

“Have some coffee.”

“Have some cake.”

“How are you holding up?”

It’s the ever-present gaggle of women who have made it their mission to hover over her during this time of crisis.  The women change, but the gaggle never seems to give her a moment’s peace.

“I wish they’d stop treating me like some broken little bird, some mentally unbalanced injured little creature,” June thinks, putting up with them leading her to a chair, making her sit, and pushing coffee and dainties on her.

She looks down at the little teacup plate with dainties and her stomach lurches.  The last thing she feels like is eating, and the thought of eating these sweet sugary bites is nauseating.

“I can’t believe it’s been three days since the boys disappeared,” someone says.

A few heads turn, glancing nervously at June as if afraid of her reaction.  Someone makes a hush motion at the speaker who violated the unspoken rule of not talking about their reason for being there in front of the boys’ mother.

He looks down guiltily, silencing.  The search command center has been moved to the local community club the day after the boys vanished in the woods.  These are the people who are here to keep June company.

“My babysitters,” she thinks.  “They’d be more use out there looking for my boys and leaving me alone.”

The talk awkwardly resumes, chattering about nothing significant.  June bristles inwardly every time someone laughs.

“Kevin and Jessie are going through hell and they’re having a party in my living room,” June thinks.  She looks around the room blandly, tuning them out, trying to keep a composed façade.

The comic book keeps eating at her.

“Where is it?” she thinks, now scanning the room for the missing book.

No one notices her fidget, the anxious little movements of growing distress.  While the women gossip and fuss over their broken little bird, and the men talk around the forbidden topic of the cruelty of a world that allows two boys to vanish from their own back yard, June’s distress over the missing comic grows and everyone is oblivious to it.

“Where’s the comic?”  June looks around the room.

No one noticed her speak.

June starts standing up and one of the women is on her before she makes it fully upright.

“Sit, June, sit.”  She leads June back down to a sitting position.  “Relax June, just sit.”

June looks around in disquiet, uncertain what to do against this well-meaning woman. “I don’t want to sit,” she thinks.  “Why can’t I stand up?  Why do I have to stay sitting all the time?”

Standing over her as if standing guard to make sure June remains seated, the woman’s attention is already off her and back to the conversation.

“I’m like a child to them,” June thinks.  “In the room, mostly invisible, and they assume I’m oblivious to their conversations.”

She looks around the room again from her cushioned prison.  Satisfied she’s staying obediently put, the woman moves away to be more involved in the conversation.  She still doesn’t see the missing book.  It’s digging at her nerves.

“Where is it? Where is Jessie’s comic?”

She looks at the other people anxiously, feeling the need for help.  She has to find the comic.  They are oblivious to her.

“Where’s the comic?” June asks again.  They completely ignore her.

She asks again, louder.  “Has anyone seen the comic?”

“They can’t hear me,” June thinks, looking around at the men and women eating and drinking coffee and laughing at a joke in her living room.  It feels surreal.  “Will I be flying next?  Rushing to something or trying to escape?  This feels like a dream, a God-awful bad dream.  My boys are missing, scared and alone, and they sit here having a party like they don’t even know I’m here.”

She stands up, staring at them.

“Where’s the comic?” she asks more loudly.

Conversation stops and they all turn to her in stunned silence.

“Where’s the comic? Where is Jessie’s comic?”

They just look at her, confused.  She stares back, looking for an answer.

A long moment passes before one of the women finally answers hesitantly.

“Uh, I saw Boyxx with it, Momxx’s boy.  He was here with a couple of searchers who stopped in.  I think he was reading it.”

June looks at them in stunned shock.  Her face twists into a pained expression.

“He just took it?  He came into my home and just took it?”  Her mind has trouble wrapping around it, how this boy could come into her home and just steal Jesse’s comic.

Everyone is watching her with concern.  The woman who spoke tries to defend the boy.

“I’m sure he wasn’t stealing it.  He just borrowed it to read.”

June shakes her head in disbelief, her voice rising in pitch, getting very upset.

“It’s Jesse’s favourite comic, The Thing.  He just bought it. Where is it?  He didn’t just read it, he took it.  He stole Jesse’s comic.  At a time like this, Jesse and Kevin are out there, while you all sit here gossiping and stuffing your faces and drinking coffee instead of looking for him, and…and…and this kid comes into my home and steal’s Jesse’s comic.”

“June, calm down,” one of the other women tries, “it’s just a comic.”

June is stunned.  It’s not just a comic.  It’s Jesse’s.  It’s his favourite; he was so excited about getting that comic.  And it’s new.  It’s Jesse’s.  It’s Jesse’s and he’s going to come back any time for it.  And now he’s going to come back and it’s gone.  What if he doesn’t come back now?  She says nothing, just looks at them.

People are talking to her, but she doesn’t hear them.  She starts moving around the room, moving things, looking under and in things, her agitation growing. “Where is it?  Where is Jesse’s comic? He’ll be looking for it, I have to find it.”

“June, calm down, it’s okay.  We will find the comic.”

June keeps searching, ignoring them, muttering about the need to find the comic, inconsolable.

“Go get Henry,” one of the women whispers to one of the men.  He hurries out and the rest sit there watching in stunned shock while June continues her search for the missing book in an agitated state they’ve never seen before.  They make some attempts to get her to calm down, to sit down, and she just keeps on.

When Henry comes in, the man who went to fetch him following, he stops and looks at June with concern.  Embarrassment flashes across his face and he glances quickly at the people sitting around watching June and doing nothing.  His expression turns to anger.

“How could you let this happen, let her get like this?” he growls at them in a low voice.

Looking worried now, Henry hurries to June, taking her gently by the arms.

“June, Junie, it is okay.  Tell me what’s wrong, we’ll fix it.”

“The Thing, It’s gone.  Someone took it”

Henry is confused.  “The thing?  What thing? What can’t you find?”

“The Thing.  The Thing.  That boy, Momxx and Dadxx’s boy, Boyxx.  He stole it.”

“June, what thing?  I’m sure the boy didn’t steal it.  Just tell me what it is and we’ll find it.”

June turns to him, frustrated and angry, in disbelief at how he just doesn’t understand.

“The Thing, Jesse’s comic book.  He just bought it and now it’s gone.”

Now it clicks for Henry.  “We’ll find it, Junie, okay?  Calm down, come and sit.  We’ll find it.”

She bristles at his attempt to get her to sit.  “Sitting, I’m always sitting, stupid and useless, everyone expects me to just sit here and do nothing about finding my boys,” she thinks.

“I don’t want to sit,” she says.

“Okay, you don’t have to sit.  What do you want, what do you want to do?”

“I want them to leave.  I want to be left alone.  I want Jesse and Kevin.”

Henry’s heart cracks, a physical pain ripping through his chest, and he looks at her.  He puts his arms around her, leading her out of the living room to their bedroom.

“Come June,” he says softly.  “Why don’t you get some things together and take a shower while I get rid of them.  Then we’ll go out looking for our boys, you and me together.”

June nods, letting him lead her into the bedroom and leave her there.  He closes the door on his way out and she leans against it, listening.

Henry returns to the living room, looking at them with a mix of apology and exhaustion.

“It’s time for you to all go home.  June needs some time to herself.”

The men get up, grateful for the chance to escape the awkward situation.  Two of the women look like trapped animals, giving him alarmed looks.

“She shouldn’t be alone at a time like this,” one of the women says.

“She’s not alone.” Henry says, ushering them out the door.

“That’s the problem, she’s never alone,” he thinks.  “Never a moment to herself to grieve, to come to terms with what has happened.”

With the door closing, June finally ventures out of the bedroom.  Henry turns to look at her in the hallway and she gives him a small thankful smile.

June has a hot shower, allowing herself the luxury for the first time, and dresses in slacks instead of the usual dress.  After towel drying her hair and brushing it and tying it up, she finally comes out.

“Ready?” Henry asks.

“Ready.”

He helps her with her coat and they go out, searching for their boys.

June stops and looks around the back yard, expecting to see her boys and fighting off the grief and loss pressing in on her, trying to overwhelm her.

“Where do you want to look?” Henry asks.

“I don’t know.  Where do they think they went?”

“They don’t know.  The woods most likely.  There were boot prints that fit the right size.”

“They don’t go very far.  How far did the boot prints go?”

“Not far.  To an old rotten stump.  Then they lost them.”

“They just kind of quit,” he thinks, but doesn’t voice.

“We’ll search the woods then.”  June looks through the trees, trying to spot that old stump.

June goes to the edge of the yard, pausing at the barrier where yard turns to woods, looking up at the bare branches of the trees.

The brooding woods are lifeless and quiet, dead looking leafless skeletal branches in an ugly tangle that look like they belong in a darker and more sinister world.

“The world of the dead.” June almost voices the words.

The clouds hang low in the sky, heavy, dark, and grey.  June feels like they are suffocating this small piece of the world with a thick blanket of gloom.  It was like this the day her boys vanished from the yard, and every day since.

“The woods have sucked all happiness from the world when they took my boys.”

“What was that June?” Henry asks.  She said it too quietly for him to quite catch.

“I’m just wondering which way they went.”

Henry looks through the trees.  “It’s impossible to tell now.  They tramped in all down.”

Feeling like she is treading where she doesn’t belong, June takes that first step past that barrier.  She imagines a dark feeling slithering over her as she does, filling her up on the other side, bearing down and pulling her down.  She steels herself and takes another step and another, making her way through the trees; unknowingly taking the exact same path her boys did three days before.

Henry follows behind.  He’s not there to look for the boys, only to help June feel like she is.  He knows it’s pointless.  They won’t find them because they aren’t here.  Wherever they are, they are not in the woods.  “They’ve been thoroughly searched,” he thinks.  “We would have found something by now.  Some sign they were here.”

June looks around at the ruined snow as she goes.  It still lies heavy and wet here where it takes longer to melt away, crystalline flakes shrinking and melding into a dirty slush as the temperatures slowly warm. It’s warmer today than the past two, and the trampled snow is more slush than snow.  Soon the snow will vanish and be replaced once again by the murky stagnant melt waters that will take a few months to dry up.  She looks down at her feet, already feeling the wet soaking through her boots. “Should have worn rubber boots,” she thinks.  Then she thinks about her boys.  They don’t have their rubber boots.  It makes her want to cry.

June pushes on, Henry following.  She stops before the fallen tree.  Something about it draws her.

“They were here.”  She doesn’t know where the thought came from.  “Mother’s instinct,” she tells herself.  “I’ve heard of that before.  I’ve never really believed in it.”

She looks up, wondering why the woods are so quiet.  Where are the squirrels?  The birds?  There isn’t a single chirp or chirrup.

“It’s like they know something is wrong.”

She places her hands on the fallen tree to steady herself as she carefully steps over it.  She feels the sponginess of the once sturdy tree.  She sees a hollowed out place beneath the tree.  “That would fit a boy lying under it,” she thinks.  “Hiding?”  There are digging marks on the ground and in the soft rotting wood of the tree.  Some animal, she decides.

She moves on, deeper into the woods.  Behind her, Henry steps over the fallen tree.  “The boys would have had to almost climb over it,” he thinks.

June sees an old tree stump ahead.  She walks to it, stopping to examine it.

It is the rotting remnant of a once proud older fallen tree that has long ago rotted to dirt and been consumed by the insects and plants of the woods. The stump remains, standing stubbornly and defiant beyond the other fallen tree now lying discarded and tangled in the woods.

The stump feels oddly threatening to her. Sharp splinters and points of shattered wood stick up as though waiting to impale any foolish boy who tries to climb it and falls. The image comes to her, uninvited, of a boy climbing the stump.  She can’t tell who he is.  He clambers up, standing on top of the stump to get a higher vantage point, surveying the woods around.  His foot slips, he tries to correct and get purchase.  It’s too late.  He falls.  He doesn’t cry out, but she can feel his surprised shock although she can’t see his face.  He hits the stump awkwardly, his ribs catching on the two higher points sticking up jaggedly.  His weight and the force of his fall pull him down.  He slides down, those protruding pieces piercing him like a pig on a spit.  Surprisingly little blood comes from the impalement.  He coughs. He tries to catch his breath and coughs again, coughing out little spatters of blood.   Crimson oozes down the stump like sap turned to blood.

June feels cold.  She pulls her coat tighter, puts her hands to her mouth.  Nausea washes up through her and she is sure she’s going to vomit.  It doesn’t come.

“No,” she whimpers almost silently, “it’s not them.  It’s not Jesse or Kevin.  It’s not their clothes.”

She looks at the stump again.  It feels strangely empty without the body that was never there.  Its wood is soft and crumbly with rot, the sharp jagged edges incapable of impaling anything.  If a boy did fall on it now, those points would be pushed down like a stiff sponge.

“The stump is impotent,” she thinks.  She can’t shake the horrible chill of the image of the other boy, not her boy, but someone’s.

She is startled by a touch.

“June, are you alright?” Henry is looking at her, worried.

June looks at the sad impotent crumbling stump again, then at Henry.

“The stump,” she pauses, trying to sort out the image from what is real, “it’s the kind of thing that would draw boys, isn’t it?  I think they would have wanted to, I don’t know, check it out?  I think they were here.”

Still worried over June’s strange behaviour of late, Henry looks at the stump.  He has to agree, it’s the kind of wicked looking thing that would have attracted his interest as a kid.

“June, I think you’re right.  The boys would have come here.”

They both look around at the ground surrounding the stump.  There are footprints in the snow, but there is no way of knowing.  So many feet of all sizes have tromped through these woods looking for the boy, it’s impossible to know now if any belong to Kevin and Jesse.

June looks at Henry.

“I’m tired.  I don’t think I can do this.”

Henry nods.  “That’s okay.  We can look again.  Lots of people are out looking.  We’ll find them June, we’ll find them.”

They return to the house, and just remove their coats and boots when the doorbell rings.  They exchange looks that are a mix of fear and hope.  Henry answers the door.

Momxx is at the door.  She hesitates before taking that shy step in, looking guilty.

“I’m sorry Henry, June.”  She holds out the comic book, The Thing, its cover all orange and green with The Thing battling a many armed green monster.  The comic is a little rumpled, the corner bent.  “He didn’t mean anything by it.  Boyxx was just bored and it was just sitting there.  He wasn’t stealing it or anything.  He just meant to read it.”  She hesitates, looking down, looking shamed.  “I didn’t think it would hurt any if he just borrowed it.  He was going to bring it back.  I mean, it’s not like-.”  She stops, realizing her mistake.  It’s not like the boys need it or anything, since they’re missing and not around to miss it.

“I’m sorry.” She awkwardly thrusts the comic book out for Henry to take. He takes it and she turns quickly, scurrying out the door and away from the house.

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

 

Garden Grove: 5 The Coffee Clutch – The Watcher in the Woods by LV Gaudet

•December 1, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

I can see you out there, with your chainsaws ripping into the gnarled bark of the old oak trees, tearing their wooden flesh apart until they teeter and crash to the ground.

You just can’t leave well enough alone, can you?

I’m so sleepy, so tired.  I could just sleep again and might have, but you woke me again with all your noise, your activity.

The loud growling of chainsaws, banging of large metal tractor buckets against dump truck boxes, and the frantic pattering of terrified squirrels fleeing the roaring and trembling of their homes being felled.

They are cutting down more of my beautiful trees, my glorious prison.

The squirrels who I have been watching so frantically collecting nuts are going to have to start all over again.

They’ll probably starve this winter.

The wild turkeys that come in the spring will have to find a new spring roost.

The calm solitude of the sound dampening trees will be gone.  Soon the winds will tear through here like they do the empty fields surrounding this little piece of old growth woods.

And the secrets those gnarled twisted old trees hide won’t be secret much longer.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

19 The Woods – The Buyer (2015) by LV Gaudet

•November 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

1

It’s later than he planned when Cody walks into the house from the bar in the next town.  He stumbles around in the dark of the unfamiliar room, bumping into the coffee table, and finally finds the box he brought in earlier.  Rummaging in the box in the dark, he finds the lantern, turning it on.  It doesn’t put out enough light to light the room well, but it’s enough to see by.  The batteries will have a limited life, so he has to conserve them.

Putting the lantern on the coffee table, he settles himself on the couch, looking around the room tiredly.

“Electricity would be nice.  So would a T.V.”  He stares blankly at the dark lifeless old tube T.V.  “Tomorrow, I see about getting the electricity turned on.”

With nothing else to do, he leans forward and turns the lantern off.  Lying down on the couch, he closes his eyes and is soon asleep.

It would have been more comfortable to sleep in one of the beds, but that would just feel weird.  It would feel like sleeping in someone else’s bed, because he would be.  He isn’t an invited guest in the home of this family from thirty years ago.  He’s a stranger.

He has a fitful sleep, the couch making him stiff and sore and his sleep restless.  More than once, he wakes thinking he heard noises in the house.

“Just the strange sounds of an unfamiliar place,” he says, closing his eyes again and going back to his restless sleep.

Cody is woken from a deep sleep by a loud thud.

He sits up groggily, startled, looking around the dark room.  The moonlight glows in through the living room window, cold and pale.

He looks around confused and disoriented.

“Where am I? How’d I get here?”  Then he remembers.  The house.

He looks around the dark room, trying to figure out what made the noise

“What the hell, it sounded like it was right here, right behind me.”

Turning on the lantern, he still can’t identify what made the noise.

“Must be the house settling?  I’ve never heard a house bang like that.”  A sense of unease clings to him.  He can’t shake it.  He looks at his watch.  “Three A.M.”

He gets up, taking the lantern, and moves silently through the house, checking out each room and looking out the windows, ending in the kitchen staring at the closed basement door.

A cold dread tickles at the back of his neck at the thought of going down there in the dark of night.

“What, are you a kid?” he mutters, shaking his head in disgust at himself.  He opens the door, peering down into the blackness below, half expecting something to jump out at him.  His arm is already reaching for the light as he steps down the first step.

He pulls his arm back. It was a reflex to instinctively search out safety in light.  There’s no electricity yet.  Descending the stairs carefully, lantern in hand, Cody makes a quick sweep of the basement and quickly returns to the safety upstairs, closing the door behind him.

He returns to the living room, looking around, puzzled.

“Seriously, I could swear it was right there.  Right behind the couch.”

Cody returns to the couch, turns off the lantern, and settles in for a restless sleep for the rest of the night.

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

 

Garden Grove: 4 Sick Workers and Senility – Mrs. Crampchet by LV Gaudet

•November 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

A police officer knocked on the old lady’s door.  He waited, knocked again, waited.  Constable Timothy Berkham is a young man and new on the job, having graduated his training only six months ago.

She didn’t come to the door.

Constable Berkham walked around the outside of the little old house, looking in the windows, and saw movement somewhere deep inside past the old yellowing age-stained lacy curtain of one of the windows.

He went to the front door and knocked again, calling out.

“Hello!”

He knocked again.

“Hello, Mrs. Crampchet?”

He peered in through the window by the door.

“Mrs. Crampchet, I know you’re in there,” he called out.  “I can see you.”

He knocked again.

“Mrs. Crampchet, it’s the police.  Please come to the door.”

He heard movement inside.

The old lady did not come to the door.

He tried the door.  It was Unlocked.

The door creaked loudly when he opened it.  The worn hinges were long overdue for some lubricating.

Constable Berkham took a step inside, nervous.  He paused just inside the front door, looking around and leaning to look through an interior doorway to the rest of the house.  The front door opened to the living room and from there he could see a short hallway with an entrance to the kitchen.

The idea of walking unwelcomed into the residence of a suspect and knowing they’re in there but they won’t come to the door made him very nervous.  It’s a dangerous situation where the suspect could be hiding anywhere, just waiting to strike before fleeing.  It was his first time having to actually do it outside of a training exercise in his class.  Normally he would have waited for backup.

But this was a different kind of nervousness and this is a wellness check, not a criminal arrest.

This is a frail little old lady, possibly a very confused old lady who may be in some stage of dementia.  And, from the poisoning of the work crew, may herself have been poisoned by her own baking.

Young Timothy Berkham had never entered anywhere uninvited before.  He felt like a burglar, an unwanted and unwelcome intruder, not a police officer.

“Mrs. Crampchet,” he called out.  “Hello?  Mrs. Crampchet?  Police.  Can you come to the door please?”

He heard the sound of movement from another room, muttering, and then the heavy clunk of something being dropped.  It sounded breakable and very heavy, china or some kind of pottery maybe.  It didn’t sound like it broke.

“Mrs. Crampchet?”

“Yeah, yeah,” the old lady croaked back, her voice frail and wavering.  “What do you want?”

“Uh, Mrs. Crampchet?  I’m Constable Timothy Berkham.  I just want to make sure you’re ok.”

“I’m fine, I’m fine.”

She shuffled out from a bedroom in the back of the house.  A large heavy vase lay on its side out of sight on the floor behind her where she had dropped it.

She moved down a short hall and through another doorway to the kitchen.

Berkham saw movement.  The old woman appeared in the hallway where it met the living room and kitchen doorways and went into the kitchen.  He could just make her out as she came and went from sight, doing something in the kitchen.

“Would you like some tea dear?” she called out.

“Uh, no thank you ma-am.  Mrs. Crampchet?  I’d like to talk to you.  Can I come in?”

He paused.

She didn’t answer.

“Mrs. Crampchet?  I’m coming in.”

One of the first things he learned was to always announce yourself before entering an uncertain situation.  Do not surprise the occupants and do not make them panic.  A panicked suspect acts without thinking, making the situation less controllable.

He approached the kitchen cautiously.  She was out of sight now but he could hear the old woman moving around.  He found her there preparing for tea.

“Mrs. Crampchet?” he said as he entered the kitchen.

“Hello dear.  The water is almost ready for the tea,” she said.

An old kettle sat on the burner of an old stove.  The light isn’t lit to show the element is turned on, but the knob is turned.  The plastic covering the light is yellowed with age and turning brown, a sign it is likely burned out, charring the plastic when it went.  A faint wisp of steam trailing up from the spout and the slow ticking and hissing of the metal kettle heating up told him the stove element is in fact working.

Delicate little teacups teetered dangerously on their dainty little saucers as the old woman shuffled to the little table carrying them.  The cups rocked and tinkled against the saucers, almost tipping over as she put them down.

“Mrs. Crampchet, can you tell me about the pastries you brought to the men at the Garden Grove construction site?” Berkham asked.

She shuffled over to the cluttered counter, picking up a tin canister and spoon.  She shuffled back to the table and struggled with the lid for a moment, paused, then held the tin out.

“Would you mind dear?”

He looked down at the offered tin before reaching to take it.  He didn’t move to take the tin.

“Uh, Mrs. Crampchet?”

“Hmm?”

“Mrs. Crampchet, that’s not tea.”

“Oh?”

She looked down at the canister in her hands, turned it over.

“Coffee” it said.

“Oh dear,” she muttered, shaking her head and tut-tutting to herself.

She shuffled back to the counter and changed canisters, bringing back the one marked “Tea” this time.

After having him open the canister, complaining how hard it is with her arthritic hands, she spooned some of the loose tea leaves into the little cups.  She shuffled back to the counter to return the canister to its place.

As he watched, Berkham wondered why she didn’t use a teapot like people usually did with loose tea leaves.  It couldn’t be good with all the leaves in the cups.

“Mrs. Crampchet, I need you to tell me what you put in those pastries,” Berkham said.

“Would you like some sugar, dear?” she asked, shuffling back to the table with another canister.  Putting down the canister, the old woman carried the kettle to the table using an old folded tea towel and poured it into the cups.

The water had an unhealthy looking yellow color.

Returning the kettle to the stove, she shuffled back to the table, opened the canister, and started spooning the white powder into one of the little cups.  The fine powder floated on top in a clump before finally beginning to sink.

“Sugar?” she asked, ready to spoon some into the other teacup.

“Uh, oh-no thanks Ma-am.”

He looked at the canister she held.

It said “Flour”.

“Mrs. Crampchet, about those pastries,” he tried again.  This was getting nowhere.

She looked at him as if he’d just shown up and she’d never seen him before. Confusion furrowed her brow.  Then a smile creased her age withered lips.

“Johnny?” she asked, a little unsure.  “Johnny?  My Johnny!”

She rushed over as fast as her arthritic shuffle could and threw her arms around him, trying to pull him down to kiss him.

“Oh Johnny,” she cried.  “You’re here, you’re here!”

She looked toward the door, and then looked back up at him, clinging to him.

“Your father will be home any minute now Johnny.”

He gently extricated himself from the little old woman.

“Uh, Mrs. Crampchet, I have to go now.”

He made a quick getaway.  His report would show that the poisoning of the men at the Garden Grove Meadows construction site was accidental in his opinion, based on the old woman’s failing mental faculties.

A visit by a social worker would be requested to make sure the woman’s needs were being looked after and to determine if she should be put into a care home.

Following the young officer to the door, she called out to him in her feeble age withered voice.

“Johnny, don’t go.  Come back Johnny, dinner is almost ready.”

He looked back once at the confused old woman staring at him from the open doorway.  Her look suggested she wasn’t sure if he was coming for a visit or leaving.  She gave him a little uncertain wave and he beat a hasty retreat to his car.

She closed the door behind him and turned, humming, and shuffled back to the kitchen to dump out the ruined tea.

A smirk creased her aged lips.

 

GARDEN GROVE IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE AND IN PAPERBACK ON AMAZON

 

 

Available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon:

Garden Grove Cover - McNally - front cover

The McAllister Series

where the bodies are

 

Where the Bodies Are

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm

HuntingMichaelUnderwood - final - media copy

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

 

 

the-latchkey-kids

And  for the teens and middle years kids who like middle years/teen drama and monsters, a fantasy psychological thriller.

 
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