some noises…

what was it you heard out there…some kinda dog…a coyote…maybe opossum rummaging through garbage…

you hear strange things at night…somethings you can’t describe…just some kind of noise…maybe it’s ghosts talkin’…

could be…very well could be…spirits speakin’ to us…old spooks from the past…not meanin’ any harm…shouldn’t be afraid…their time has come and gone…just lettin’ us know ’bout it…

you ever seen one…some spirit in the night…maybe lurkin’ ’round the house…checkin’ in on ya…

nope…but I’m not sayin’ that ain’t the case…just sayin’ I never seen one…

that’s ’cause they’re invisible…they make noises though…all kinds of racket…

some say seein’ is believin’…some say that…

sure is some strange noises at night…

yep…sure is…

Body found…

They found her body out on Highway 24 just east of town…tossed aside in tall weeds like a mattress that fell off the back of a truck on moving day…it just laid there all stiff…bruised and cut…people wouldn’t recognize her…I didn’t recognize her at first…took a second and a third look ‘fore I realized it was Tom Paul and Sandy’s daughter lying there in a decomposed state…I’d say she’d been dead for three or four days…

Sandy called her in missing about a week ago…short girl of fifteen with blonde hair and green eyes…skinny as a rail and a pierced left eyebrow…she was last seen at a strip mall over by Lima…drinkin’ a soda pop and laughin’ with friends…that’s where they say they got her…

The young girl tended to live on the wildside a little bit…liked to party with boys much older than her…had been in and out of drug rehabs since she was twelve…liked her meth…she was spotted a couple of times over where she wasn’t suppose to be…over at a trailer park on the Southeast side of town offa Wayne Trace…some said she was sellin’ her body over there too…didn’t have the heart to tell Tom Paul or Sandy…they’d piece it all together if they wanted to…most folks don’t…

And we have the question on our hands of who killed this young girl…stab wounds to the gut…looked like the blade was pretty long…jagged…there’s a lot you can tell from a cut…Could’ve been anyone that did it…names would be thrown ’round as possible suspects soon enough…she hung out with all these homeless dudes…guys who come to town and don’t stay too long…do their business and hop on the next train…leavin’ damages behind…

And I was the one who had to tell Tom Paul and Sandy that their little girl was dead…never liked doin’ that part of the job…who would…

what he wanted…

It was what he wanted…thought he wanted…small living space…rented room filled with books and old jazz albums…a dusty coffee pot alongside notes for a novel that will never get written…old baseball tickets…reminder of Summers…when nights didn’t seem as lonely…

This Autumn twilight falling into Winter…no extra blanket on the bed…a chill from drafty windows is somewhat comforting…he doesn’t miss her…

There is beauty in being alone…a joy in poverty…wondering where the next dollar will come from…spending quarters on glazed doughnuts in the midnight hour…reading a book by Cormac McCarthy…there’s always a hero…

And he feels his skin…how rough it’s gotten over the years…dried out…wanting water…wanting water…

It is what he wanted…thought he wanted…the jury’s still out…

waitin’ onna change…

He walked home from the grocery store facing the wind…carrying bags of peanut butter….cereal…some white bread that was past date…a bottle of Mountain Dew…some Moon Pies… chocolate kind…

Went past the old General Electric building…El Amish Tacos…the 420 store…a tattoo parlor…walked by an old whore house they’d converted into a real estate office…gone were the individual rooms where carnal knowledge took place…shag carpets ripped up and replaced with hardwood floors…red porch light gone…just a dull yellow hue glowed into night…

And the bars along Broadway were still filled with working class joes…men drinking cans of Old Style…avoiding wives and women of all kinds…watchin’ Vanna spin the wheel…

Got to the train tracks and thought of leavin’ town…eatin’ peanut butter sandwiches all the way out to Denver…or Vegas…maybe get lost in the desert…maybe just get lost…

So he sat by the tracks waitin on the Southern Pacific to roll through town…was always waitin’ on somethin’…everybody in town was…waitin’ onna change…

goodbye…

Sometimes…when it’s cold outside…I think of him…,she said…,Think ’bout how he used to pick me up from school on Fall afternoons when the sun was still out…just ‘fore it turned dark…we’d go by Sonic and pick up a chocolate shake…split it…with two straws…said he liked doin’ things together…

And he’d drive me all over town…take me over to the shopping center and let me pick out somethin’ I wanted…, the young girl smiled…, pair of sunglasses…a new diary to journal in…, maybe some shoes if they didn’t cost too much…he was frugal with a dollar…sometimes…, batted her lashes over her pretty blue eyes…

But…there was never a time I felt unsafe with him…no sir…I did not…he’d drop me off at home and tell me goodnight…give me a hug…kiss on the forehead…always asked if there was anything else I needed…asked if mom was taking care of me…told me to let me know if she ever got out of line…she used to bring home strange men every night…think he knew that…

Haven’t heard from him in awhile now…a couple of months…thought he’d forgotten ’bout me…thought maybe he’d just gotten tired of everything and just left town…used to complain a lot…said life wasn’t worth livin’ much anymore…, the blonde haired girl teared up…, said he wasn’t gonna be ’round much longer…felt it in his bones…didn’t think he’d go off and do somethin’ like this…where’d ya find him at…

Found him in his pickup truck…out by Highway 30…parked alongside the road there ‘fore the retirement community…

Oh…I see…well…goodbye daddy…goodbye…hope you’re happy with your new home…

keys…

He was always wantin’ to drive off somewhere…always wantin’ to go…just leave in a moment’s notice…not tellin’ anyone…not even packin’ a bag…wearin’ clothes he’d had on for days…dandruff speckled his red plaid shirt…sat in that Lazyboy and stared into space…just dreamin’ of takin’ off…

They’d hid the keys from him…the old Ford pickup truck sat out in the driveway as a constant reminder of what he would never be able to do again…he blamed ’em for his downfall…said the kids didn’t keep his mind active enough after momma had died…said it was all down hill from there…

Momma and him would go for long rides…up into Michigan…or…over to Ohio…never stop just drive the whole time…maybe get out once for a bathroom break…grab a Pepsi…bag of corn chips they split ‘tween ’em…but by and large they’d just drive…leavin at sun up and not comin’ home til there were stars in the sky…

This is how their retirement was spent…doin’ what he wanted to do…they were a Christian family…she was subserviant to him…if he wanted to go for a drive then they went for a drive…if he wanted steak when all they could afford was chicken then they found a way to have steak…he was king of his castle…

So…he started gettin’ a little funny in the head…began to forget things…forgot that his wife had passed away at times…thinkin’ she was always in the back room gettin’ ready for them to go on a drive…that back door never opened…just sat closed…he’d sit there callin’ out her name waitin’ for a response…lookin’ all over the small house they’d built for those keys…

And he’d curse up a storm…sayin’ when he found those keys to the truck he’d never come back…was gonna be gone forever…’ventually he’d quit lookin’ for the day…only to wake up the next day and look ’round the place again for ’em…

He wanted those keys…would call his eldest son everyday and ask two things…where was mom…and where were the keys…

Couldn’t take no for an answer…

And that’s all they had left…

She woke up early to fix him breakfast…same as always…a pot of coffee..two fried eggs over easy…bacon and toast with grape jelly and butter smoothed over the browned bread…paper was there by his place setting…local headlines…high school sports scores…Ann Landers…

He was never in the best of moods come mornin’…seemed as though he was always just gettin’ to sleep when the alarm clock would go off at five…forcing his way outta bed and into the bathroom to take a long leak…splash water on his ruddy face…brush his teeth and jump in the shower…there was never any singin’…

As always there were work clothes laid out on the bed for him…placed there by her…pair of Dickies…a long sleeve shirt with his name placed on the left in black…a washed pair of white underwear and a tee-shirt as well…it was a uniform he’d worn for the last thirty years…it was all habitual…routuine…sky was still black as he looked out the window…

They talked very little at the breakfast table…spoke very little in general…years had past since they had a real conversation…’bout anything…their time together was always in silence…had nothin’ to say…had been that way since their son took off and left one night when he was still young…they blamed each other for it…she said he didn’t love him…he said she loved him too much…said she spoiled the child…couldn’t correct him anymore…the kid became uncontrolable…

In a way he was glad that the kid was gone…got tired of his sassin’…his violent threats…constant talk of wantin’ to kill himself…they tried to get the boy some help…but nothin’ worked…in and outta hospitals throughout high school…runnin’ away all the time…phone calls would come in the middle of the night from down at the police station…some kinda outburst in the mall parkin’ lot…a disturbance at a party…drunkin’ behavior…breakin’ into the church and pissin’ on pews…it was always somethin’…

So they sat there in silence…each and every day…he didn’t kiss her goodbye…she didn’t say have a nice day…they both had their functions…he made sure bills were paid and she kept meals on the table and the house was clean…some things are just better off left alone…kept quiet…no yellin’…nor screamin’…or kickin’…just quiet ‘tween two people…

And that’s all they had left…