By O. Lucio d’Arc
THEY LOOK ANXIOUSLY at each other. No one speaks. Carole stands up, and Diz stands up beside her, followed by Scott Free. Magnum continues to sit in the shadows, nursing his bloody broken nose. They wish they had another joint.
“It started …” Carole begins. But how did it start. With her father? Was he or his forefathers in the clan of murderers, rapists and lynchers? It isn’t clear to Carole, rattled as she is, why they are here. She decides to tell them what has happened since she got the call about her father, about what has happened in the Gibson House, now The Doldrums.
Thom Fole beheaded. Adele smothered. Bugs poisoned. The weird writing on the walls.
The Ponders, which the upstairs folks had started calling them, seem interested. “And what is name of that book again?” asks Magla, who it turns out can speak some English. They all can. And then she adds, “Show it to me.”
“I’ll have to get a copy,” Carole replies. “I can get it from the library on my Kindle.’
None of the three look surprised by her words. Apparently they have been paying attention to what is going on over their heads. Kindles they know.
“Can we go?” Carole finally asks. Magla nods her head.
The four of them start backing up to the doorway to the stairs, dragging the now-moaning Silver Boy with them. They start up. Diz is last.
“Hey,” she says, turning back to the diaphanous trio, “wanna come up and spark a bone?”
They look at each other. Magla smiles. They follow them upstairs.
“Every saint has a past,” says Magnum. “Every sinner has a future,” as they return to the first floor of the old house.
The seven sit around the kitchen table. The Doldrummers sip beer and bourbon. The Ponders sip strong tea. Silver Boy is sleeping off whatever happened to him, on the couch in the living room. Tom Waits is on BlueTube. They all puff on a hookah. It is nice. Somehow, sometime, Diz has managed to bake three bluebery pies. The Doldrummers take large slabs and eat them. The Gibsons nibble and make polite remarks.
When the pies are done, each plate had a residue of blue pie filling on it. Diz begins to dabble in it with her finger, creating. When she stops, her plate looks like a circular, unframed MOMA work.
They all start doodling with the blueberry residue. It is mindless, but the Gibsons like it. Can’t blame them. And, Carole guesses, they are a little stoned. Carole is.
Everyone finishes their work of art but bandaged-nose Magnum. He only makes believe, toying with his plate and fork.
“Ca’mon, Magnum,” they urge him. “Do it.”
He diddles around for a minute and then stops. His blueberry art is a blue blob in the middle, with rays coming off of it, like a kindergarten drawing of the sun.
“Now we put these here,” says Magla, picking up the four plates and placing them on the kitchen counter, propping them up against the wall. “Soon they tell us who is crazy murderer. Old country magic.”
“Anyone have anything to say?” asks Magla, looking around. We all stare blankly. Except Magnum.
He walks to the doorway, turns around and says, “I save my small talk for small people.” As he left, he adds over his shoulder, “Texas Funeral.”
We start yawning as the dope begins to wear off. It has been quite a day.
“We will sleep, as we have for so long,” says Magla, and she leads Grivort and Stentil back down the stairs to the cellar and the caverns.
Diz and Scott Free and Carole look at each other. “This will make more sense in the morning,” says Scott Free. And they go to bed, together, in the same room.
They wake up to some strange smells. Stentil is in the kitchen cooking haloupkis in the oven and Magla is deep frying some perogies. They are making themselves at home in the kitchen. Magla is sipping from a glass of hot tea at the table.
You kinda get used to looking through people. Some people. Especially in the morning when you’re still half asleep.
Diz and Carole are in their pajamas – concert tees and sweats – and Scott Free and Magnum are dressed for the day, which isn’t saying much for Magnum. Two-feet-long jeans, boy-size polo shirt, motorcycle boots with the laces open. Scott Free is dressed for a business lunch.
Silver Boy has left during the night, leaving a short see-ya note pinned to the couch pillow. Magnum fills a take-out cup of coffee and, poof, he’s gone, too. Scott Free has cancelled their air flights.
The Ponders toast with tea. They tell them to look at the blueberry art exhibit. All the plates are smashed, but the one that Magnum had made, the child-like sun. Diz picks it up, and turns it over. “Well, well, look at this,” she says, showing it to us.
Someone, Magnum they guess, has written in black marker:
“Don’t come for me, I will be ready,
In the shadows of Upper Black Eddy.”
Oreste P. D’Arconte, who writes fiction under the name O. Lucio d’Arc, is a retired newspaper publisher and a weekly newspaper columnist. His short stories have appeared in the Murder Inc. trilogy of anthologies and he has had his poetry published in several literary magazines. A resident of Attleboro, Mass., he also wrote a hardback history of the Attleboro YMCA in 2017.