SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 3.03 – Gun

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

Well, today should prove entertaining … a trip to the police station, then a foray to the gun shop to buy my wife a gun. Life doesn’t get much more interesting than that!
“Hey, Dad.” The French doors to the front hallway opened, and Marty stepped into the room.
He was dressed as any college freshman would be: jeans, shirt tail out, running shoes, his hair a mess.
“Any coffee left?”
“Half a pot. How’d you sleep?”
He paused on his way to the coffee pot to scratch Fred’s ears. “Okay.”
I lit a cigarette in defiance. “Did you hear that guy last night?”
Marty pushed back his thick mane of hair and looked at me with a mischievous smile. “Gettin’ brave, aren’t we?”
“I smoked a couple last night, and Mom jumped on me this morning.”
“I can imagine.” He crossed to pour himself a cup of coffee. “What guy?”
“Then you didn’t hear him?”
Marty shook his head as he stirred his brew.
“Some guy walking down the road, shouting to the top of his lungs, ‘Fuck you. I will survive this.’”
Marty flopped onto the sofa and patted the cushion for Fred to join him. “Probably got dumped by his girlfriend.”
“That was my thought.”
“Yeah,” agreed Marty as he rubbed the dog’s big head.
I stubbed out my cigarette and got to my feet. “Well, I’ve got to get going.”
Marty looked over his coffee mug at me. “Where’re you goin’?”
“Errands,” I lied.
“You could cook me breakfast … like any good father.”
I laughed. “Yeah, right. You owe me two already.”
“We could make it three.” He smiled hopefully.
I shook my head and smiled. “No way … this weekend you make up the other two, and then we’ll deal.”
Marty stretched and yawned. “So you’re going to to send your kid off to school without a hot breakfast.”
“Looks that way.” I grabbed my keys from the kitchen island and crossed to the French doors.
“What time are your classes over?”
“Three.”
“I should be home by then so I’ll see you when you get home.”
“If I don’t die of starvation.”
“Try having lunch. That’ll help.”
Marty waved his hand at me as he reached for his coffee mug. “Go away.”
“See you later.” I closed the door behind me and stepped out onto the terrace. The air was crisp and clean … typical of our country mornings. Above me, the maples were showing the first effects of fall, their leaves beginning to curl and slowly change color. The dew dripped from the lower foliage ran in rivulets down the Oldsmobile’s white, convertible top.

NEXT: SCARED continues.

SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 3.02 – Gun

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

“But that’s not why you want a gun?”
By now, she had picked up her briefcase and was shoving papers into it in preparation for her day. “No … it just occurred to me that we ought to have one.”
“Why now? Trump and his crazies are finally out of office … the pandemic is almost behind us. Things are beginning to look up for a change.”
Setting aside her briefcase, she looked at me. “Well … there’s still so much division and racial discord … they’re even talking about food and water shortages. I don’t know. I just have this feeling that something bad is going to happen. Having a gun just seems like a good idea.”
I pondered the thought for a moment. “Just seems strange for you to suggest it now … I mean,
we’ve been married for twenty-five years, and we’ve never had a gun.”
Chris seemed almost embarrassed. “I know.”
“There are two of you father’s shot guns in the attic.”
“I know,” she sighed, “but I think we need a hand gun, a revolver … maybe two.”
“You’ve really been giving this some thought, haven’t you?” I was shocked. This was not something my wife would ever suggest. What had happened? She had never been comfortable around guns, probably because her father had so many. In fact, that was the reason the shot guns were in the attic. For years, I had kept them in the guest room closet until, one day, she had insisted that I be rid of them. They made her nervous, she said.
Chris shouldered her briefcase and then looked at me. “I think it would be wise.”
Wise … what did that mean? It would be wish … like it was something I had overlooked. I returned her stare and forced a smile. “Okay.”
Then she changed again. She was Chris of the soft voice and bright smiles as she crossed the room to kiss me good-bye. “Have a good day.”
I returned the kiss. “Wish you didn’t have to go.”
“I’m late already.” She headed toward the French doors. “Remember to wake Marty at eight.”
“I will.”
She opened the door and paused. “What’s your car doing parked there?”
I hesitated … wanting to be nonchalant as well as convincing. “It was cold … and dark. I was tired.”
She looked at me suspiciously. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”
Well, there was this fly … instead, I feigned indifference. “I don’t think so.”
“You were smoking last night.” It was an accusation, plain and simple.
I blanched. At least I had remembered to wash the wine glasses. “Yeah, the rehearsal didn’t go well … I was stressed out.”
“How do you think Marty’s ever going to quit if you continue to smoke?”
“I’m trying.”
Chris stared at me. “No, you’re not. There’s no need to lie about it. Just, please, try to keep it outside the house.”
I watched her as she shut the door. So much for that.

NEXT: SCARED continues.

SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 3.01 – Gun

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

“I want a gun.”
The calmness of her voice surprised me as much as the statement itself.
I looked at Chris over the rim of my coffee mug and said nothing. She still looked the same, but something was different. She was dressed, ready for school, sitting in one of the big wing-backed chairs, sipping coffee and leafing through a sales flier from K Mart … just like any other morning. She wore a plaid jumper over a white blouse, flat pumps and no jewelry except her wedding band. Her blond hair was pulled back and tied with a ribbon. Still, there was something different about her this morning.
She looked up from the sales book. “Did you hear me?”
“No.”
“Steven!” as if I was one of her students.
“I thought you were asleep.”
“What?” Her face showed confusion.
“Last night … with the man …”
Allowing the sales brochure to drop to her lap, she stared at me. “What man?”
“The man in the road … last night … or early this morning.” I tried to sound rational. “I didn’t think you heard him. You seemed to be asleep.”
“I didn’t. Did Fred bark?”
I shook my head and took another swig of coffee.
“What was he doing?”
“Sleeping, I guess. He didn’t even rally when I came home.”
“What was the man doing?” Thee was a slight edge of exasperation to her voice now.
“Oh!” I smiled. “Shouting … as he walked down the road … in front of the house. He was
loud at first and then he got louder. Then he began to get softer as he walked away. I was surprised you didn’t wake up.”
Chris looked skeptical. “And Fred didn’t bark.”
I shook my head again.
“What time was this?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn’t look at the clock.”
“Did you get up?”
“No.” I didn’t want to tell her that I had been afraid to get up. “I just laid there listening … waiting for him to go away.”
Chris laid aside the sales flier and stood. “That’s weird.”
“I thought maybe that was why you wanted a gun … that it scared you.”
“No.” She shook her head. “I didn’t hear it. What was he shouting?”
I paused. Did I want her to know? What difference would her knowing make? I shrugged
inwardly. “’Fuck you … I will survive this.’”
“Is that all?”
I nodded. “Yes … over and over again.”
She gave a little shiver. “That is weird.”

NEXT: SCARED continues.

SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 2.02 – Man

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

I struggled up through slumber to find myself bathed in sweat. I felt sick to my stomach. Undoubtedly a result of too much wine. Throwing back the comforter and sheet, I allowed the chill of the evening to caress my wet body. My feeling of discomfort evolved into full-fledged nausea. I was going to be physically sick … it was only a matter of time. My stomach began to cramp, and I curled into a ball. For a moment, I felt better. Fortunately, Chris did not stir.
The sweat seemed to freeze on my skin, but I could not bring myself to pull the comforter back over my body. My stomach cramped again, and my body went rigid. Chris slept on.
I dozed for a few minutes, almost slipping into a deep sleep. Then the nausea hit me again this time with a vengeance.
I jumped from the bed, stumbling down the little ladder and rushing to the bathroom. Dropping to my knees, I threw up the toilet lid and rested my head against my arm. Nothing happened. The ceramic tile was refreshingly cold against my knees as was the to toilet bowl rim against my arm. The nausea passed.
Suddenly, my body was convulsed with abdominal pain, and I broke out in a cold sweat. My gorge followed in a rush. I could taste the sour sweetness of the wine. That only triggered another onslaught, followed by yet another. Finally the pains subsided. I was left exhausted and cold as I tried to evaluate my physical condition.
After several minutes, I wiped my mouth with a wad of toilet paper and tried to stand. For a second or two, my head swam dizzily, then everything came into focus again.
I flushed the toilet and staggered back to the bedroom. Chris still slept soundly. Doing my best, I crawled back into bed and pulled the comforter over me. Even the damp sheets felt comforting. Pulling them close, I buried my head in the pillow.
“Lord, help me to remember that anger, fear and anxiety are but tools of Satan and have no place in the faithful heart.”
I slept once more.

NEXT: SCARED continues.

SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 2.01 – Man

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

“Fuck you! I will survive this!”
I came awake with a start. I stared at the white lace canopy above me while the shadows loomed in the corners of the bedroom. Beside me, Chris slept soundly.
“Fuck you! I will survive this!” The voice was closer now but still a bit of a distance down the road that ran in front of our house. I lay still, listening.
“Fuck you! I will survive this!” Right outside our windows now … someone walking down the road. A man. A man in distress. I shivered under the thick comforter. The fear from earlier that evening had returned. Below, at the rear of the house, Fred did not stir … he did not bark. That was strange.
“Fuck you! I will survive this!”
Should I call the police?
“Fuck you! I will survive this!”
No … not again … not ever again.
“Fuck you! I will survive this!” The man was directly in front of the house … walking east down the road.
“Fuck you! I will survive this!”
He meant no harm. Fred didn’t bark. The man’s simply had a fight with his wife or girlfriend.
“Fuck you! I will survive this!” The man’s volume began to lessen.
I pulled the comforter up to my chest and closed my eyes. This was not a potential incident. No reason to be alarmed. Just some poor schmuck who’s had a disagreement with his significant other. Fred hadn’t given him a second thought.
“Fuck you! I will survive this!” Softer now.
Go to sleep. This doesn’t concern you..
“Fuck you! I will survive this!” Almost gone now.
“Lord Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, abide with us this day and forever more.”
“Fuck … survive …”
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”
“Fuck ,,, “
“Lord, help me to remember that fear, anger and anxiety …”
I slept.

NEXT: SCARED continues.

SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 1.05 – Fly

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

The line went dead, and I drained the wine glass. God, what a fiasco! I should never have called them. I crushed out the cigarette and immediately lit another. Looking at the goblet, I knew I couldn’t place it with the other in the dishwasher. Opening the shiny black door, I retrieved the previous glass and quickly washed and dried both before replacing them in the rack. There. That would eliminate any of Chris’s questions … except for the dull thick odor of dead cigarette smoke. That I would handle.
I crossed the room, paused to rub Fred goodnight and then opened the French doors which led to the front of the house. In the entrance hall, everything was in shadow, illuminated only by the lights in the two curio cabinets and the upstairs hall light which fell softly down the staircase.
As quietly as possible, I climbed the stair, extinguished the hall light and entered out bedroom. Chris had fallen asleep, her book on her chest and her fine, blond hair spread over the pillow. The reading lamp still burned softly.
I slipped into the bathroom to undress, brush my teeth and relieve myself. Entering the bedroom again, I crossed to her side of the big, tapestry-hung bed and gently set her book on her night stand. She stirred and rolled over on her side. “Who was on the phone?”
“Wrong number, “ I lied. “Go to sleep.”
She did not reply, and I knew she would not remember the conversation in the morning.
Crossing to my side of the bed, I climbed the short ladder and fell into the cool comfort of the soft sheets. I pulled the heavy comforter over me, reached up and switched off the reading light. Darkness settled over the room. I closed my eyes and tried not to think of the fly … lying dead in the road. Except it hadn’t been dead. Had it flown away before the police arrived or simply limped off into the woods? Where was it now? What was I going to tell the police tomorrow … what could I tell them?
Panicked, I prayed my favorite litany. “Lord Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, abide with us this day and forever more. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom …”
I slept.

NEXT: SCARED continues.

SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 1.04 – Fly

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

I paused, staring through the panes of glass at the terrace and my car parked beyond. This was silly! What was there to be frightened of? I repeated this routine on a nightly basis without even a second thought. Did I imagine a huge fly would come swooping out of the trees and grab me in its hairy mouth? That was ridiculous!
Gripping the handle, I opened the door and stepped onto the terrace. I stopped and cleansed my lungs with several deep breaths of cold, October air. That was better. The apprehension seemed to wane. I stood for a moment, looking about me. The sky was clear. The moon was bright. And the stars “twinkled”.
Feeling better, I skirted the car and walked the fifty odd feet to the wood pile. The outside lights licked the edge of the wood pile but didn’t penetrate it. Laying the canvas carrier on the ground, I began filling it hurriedly. In the penumbra surrounding the stack of logs, the first talons of fear returned, gently caressing the back of my neck.
There was a sudden scurrying in the fallen leaves behind me. I froze. Probably one of the yard cats who habitually turned up at our door to be fed. Cautiously, I turned to look over my shoulder. The cover of the swimming pool reflected the moonlight. Something could be hiding there … it was a great place to hide … until some unsuspecting person came along.
Throwing another log onto my pile, I hefted the carriers and almost sprinted toward the house. Without pause, I threw open the door and entered, closing it firmly behind me. I was surprised at my exhaustion and the rapid beat of my heart. As the warmth of the room enveloped me, I relaxed and sighed. This was all so ridiculous!
I crossed the room, set the logs on the brick hearth and began stoking the fire. The normalcy of the act made me feel better. When I had the fire burning brightly, I transferred the remainder of the logs to the wood bin and then treated myself to another cigarette. Another glass of wine sounded good, but that was a bad idea. I had a drinking problem of sorts, and another glass was not the answer. Besides, I would already have to answer to Chris for the goblet already in the dishwasher.
The phone rang. Knowing the French phone in our bedroom would be sounding its klaxon, I rushed to answer it. “Yes?!” My voice was breathless if not fearful.
“Mr. Campbell?”
“Yes.”
“Lieutenant Henderson. Troop 3.”
Jesus! “Yes, Lieutenant …”
“I just wanted to let you know that we checked out your report …”
“Did you find anything?”
A short pause. “Well, not actually. There was no animal that we could find, but there was a sticky kind of substance across the roadway at one point.”
“Blood?”
Another pause. “No … what did you actually see, Mr. Campbell?”
I panicked and reached for another wine glass. Pouring a generous amount, I continued.
“Well, nothing … really. As I told you, one of my headlights is out.” When the Lieutenant didn’t reply, I continued. “I know it was big.”
“And that’s all you can tell me?’
I took a deep drink of the wine. It’s warmth bolstered my courage. “Yes … I didn’t stop … I guess I should have.”
“Not a problem, Mr. Campbell.” There was another pause as the Lieutenant seemed to shuffle papers. “Would you be willing to stop into the barracks tomorrow to answer a few the investigating officers might have?”
Shit! I took another swallow of wine and a drag on the cigarette. “Well, I have a very busy busy schedule tomorrow. May I call you?”
“Certainly. If not tomorrow, then perhaps the next day.”
“I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks for your cooperation, Mr. Campbell.”
“Thanks for calling me back.”
“Good night.”

NEXT: SCARED continues.

SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 1.03 – Fly

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

I knew there was something I needed to do, but I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact. I drew again on the cigarette. The acrid taste was a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the wine. Maybe I should simply relax and “rub-a-Rott”. That seemed the most appealing alternative. Still, that
something gnawed at the back of my mind. I swallowed the remainder of the goblet’s contents and closed my eyes in appreciation. What was the old saying? … “If God created anything better, he kept it for himself”?
Giving Fred a final rub, I stood and crossed to refill my glass. As I took another sip, I paused. I had better made the call before I became incoherent. Dowsing the cigarette under the faucet, I reached for the phone, and then paused to light another. Okay. I didn’t want to call 911; this wasn’t an emergency. I grabbed the phone book and leafed until I found the number. Okay. I took another swallow of the calming liquid and then a deep draw on the cigarette before punching the number.
Okay. Get your act together!
I stood, leaning against the counter, waiting for an answer … yeah, that’s what I needed. An answer. Like the State Police were going to be able to supply it. Sure. Right.
“Troop three, Lieutenant Henderson, can I help you?”
“This is Steven Campbell. I live out on Route 42. I was coming home from Phillipsburg tonight … there was something in the road I thought I should report.”
A pause and then, “Yes?”
“Well, if you have a car out this way, you might want to check it out.”
“Okay, Mr. Campbell, what and where was this?”
I took another sip of the wine. “The road just beyond the campground … Evergreen Pond Campground. It’s right off 42.”
“I know where you mean.”
“Well, there’s something there … in the middle of the road. Some kind of animal.”
“A deer?”
“I don’t know. I had to swerve around it.” I paused and then lied. “One of my headlights is out so I didn’t get a real good look at it … but it was big.”
“We’ll check it out.”
“Uh … would you mid calling me back to let me know?” I forced a laugh. “I’m sorta interested.”
There was another pause. “Well … I’ll try.”
“Thanks.” I returned the phone to its receiver. Well, that was real swift. I sounded like an idiot. He probably thought I was some kind of UFO nut or something. Chances were better than good I’d never hear another thing about it … unless, of course, they actually found the fly. What then?
Taking another swallow of wine, I sat in one of the big wing chairs and stubbed my cigarette out in the ashtray. It was a fly. I had seen it. Big, ugly and repulsive, it had simply lay there with its disgusting, dirty feet stretched above it. I shuddered at the memory. What if I’d hit? That was too gross a thought to entertain. Then I saw the humor in it and chuckled. Man killed in collision with fly.
What a way to go.
Finishing my sedative, I rose and rinsed the goblet before placing it in the dishwasher. No need in sitting here any longer. No need to kid myself. The State Police weren’t going to call, and I certainly wasn’t going to call them. I didn’t want them to think me an absolute fool.
I bent to check the wood stove and found it burning low. Of course, there was no wood in the bin. Chris never went out to the wood pile at night unless it was absolutely necessary. She had stoked the fire with the last of the day’s supply. Picking up the canvas carrier, I headed toward the French
doors. Better now than having to restart the stove in the morning.
When I reached the doors, I stopped. The apprehension hit me hard. I didn’t want to go out again. It wasn’t the cold that was preventing me. It was the actual idea of being out in the night … in the dark … alone. I suddenly realized I was scared … not merely apprehensive, but down right
scared.

NEXT: SCARED continues.

SCARED – A Novel. Chapter 1.02 – Fly

Continuing the serialization of an original novel I’ve written entitled SCARED.
-DWD

Chapter 1 – Fly (continued)
I studied the corpse in shock and surprise. It was ugly … that mostly due to its size. It was as large as an ironing board … lying there in the middle of the road, its feet crossed and thrust toward the night sky … with what? I paused and actually chuckled as I thought of my brother, Peter. “With Xs on
its eyes,” he would have said. The legs and snout were actually furry … and disgusting. The eyes reflected iridescent blues and greens in the lights of the headlamps. Its wings lay as so much cellophane against the surface of the road. It didn’t look dead, but it didn’t move … thank God!

Suddenly, I felt sick. The size of it nauseated me. Turning to my left, I spewed forth all I had eaten in the last few hours: the Big Mac I had scarfed before rehearsal, the two beers during the evening, the shot of Sambucca which Will, my assistant director, had insisted upon before calling it “a night.”

When I turned back to the road, the apparition had not departed. It lay there, its multifaceted eyes unseeing, its legs awkward and crossed, it large, hairy body still. It would never buzz again. I gave a strangled laugh and threw up again in front of me. Some of the vomit splashed and clung to the
hairy body. Suddenly, I had the strongest urge to urinate, but I would not allow myself that freedom. I would be too vulnerable. What if it awakened?

In sudden panic, I turned and ran toward the car. Slamming the door, I locked it and reached over to do the same with the passenger side. The car’s warmth enveloped me, and the music tried its best to soothe my fears. It didn’t work.

I gunned the engine and swung the car to the right onto the shoulder. As I skirted the abomination, I closed my eyes. The Kingsmens’ lyric became garbled by my tortured mind. Louie, Loueye …oh, oh, … what a big black fly. Guiding the car back onto the roadway, I pressed the accelerator and shot ahead. When I looked in the mirror, I could see only blackness and the weak reflection of the tail lights.

A quarter mile brought me to the main road. Barely hesitating at the stop sign, I turned left and headed home. Another quarter mile, and the big white farmhouse reared out of the darkness. The outside light was on, but that was all I needed. I was home! Without slowing, I swung the big car
through the tall, white gates and stopped next to the side terrace. No way was I going to brave the darkness to reach the car park behind the house. The light from the kitchen spilled through the French doors onto the flagstone terrace. I allowed myself a minute to regroup and lit a cigarette as The Temptations crooned about their Earth angel. I closed my eyes and lay back against the seat. The smoke tasted good against my raw throat. I wished I had another shot of Sambucca.

What was I to do now? I couldn’t go back … I wouldn’t go back … not for a million bucks! I exhaled forcefully and filled the interior of the car with smoke. Crushing out the cigarette, I killed the engine and opened the door. I ran across the terrace, fumbled with my keys and finally opened the
door. Inside, it was warm. My eyes closed as I leaned back against the door savoring the warmth of the wood stove but most of all the feeling of security. I was home. Thank God!

With a sigh, I opened my eyes and looked around the room. Nothing had changed. That surprised me. My life had changed, but this room was still the same. The dried herbs still hung from the exposed beams, the ship models still sailed in search of a sea, and the Tiffany lamp still bathed the
whole in soft, jewel tones. Behind the eisenglass doors of the stove, the fire burned cheerfully, and our vicious Rottweiler, Fred, lounged sleepily on the sofa. Nothing had changed.

Divesting myself of my coat, I tossed it across one of the six bar stools no one ever used. I was right. The house was quiet. Both Chris and Marty were already in bed. Remembering the Sambucca, I crossed to the liquor cabinet. We didn’t have Sambucca, but there would be something equally relaxing. Drambuie, perhaps … but no, I didn’t feel like sipping. Grasping a wine goblet from the rack, I poured a full measure of port. With a smile, I savored its thick, warm sweetness. Yes, this would do the trick.

Sitting on the edge of the sofa, I rubbed Fred’s thick head and soft, velvet ears. He simply stretched and yawned. Nothing like a good guard dog. I extracted and lit another cigarette. Come morning, Chris would rail against the smell of stale smoke, but this was not a normal evening.

NEXT: SCARED continues.