i am working on two stories for this anthology, actually. one is a collaboration, and one is by only me. i’m in the editing process of this one, having completed it some weeks ago. i’ll be finishing up editing it by tonight (i hope) and sending it in. we’ll see what happens; i’ll find out in august or september.
meanwhile, i’ve been working on my own full-length novel (top secret) and gathering content for my poem book. and feeling somewhat out-of-body.
here’s an excerpt of one of the ghost story’s i’m submitting to a small publication, it’s called “those nocturnal hours”
The ad reads: “Come spend an hour with our Lord! Seeking volunteers willing to attend to the perpetual adoration for those nocturnal hours.”
The list was nearly every hour ending in an A.M., and he sits there staring at his old computer screen, a laughable fragment of a bygone era that has somehow managed to live beyond its life expectancy, like a snapshot of lonely insomnia pulled from a dark movie.
It’s a catholic church he’d walked past on his nightly rounds; nightly rounds, meaning his restless walks around the neighborhood, unable to sleep. He’d noticed the lights are always on in a tiny window near the back, if you can call what emanates from it ‘lights.’ They’re candle flames diving around in the musty silk of shadows, and shimmering off golden ornaments that he can spy through the anonymous red eye of the stained-glass, but what goes on in there? He’s never been religious, he has no one to ask, and he never talks to anybody anymore. He’s also too anxious to ask anybody, and would feel foolish for asking in the first place.
So he did what his kids always had when they needed to verify information before embarking on asking potentially foolish questions, he looked it up on the Internet. With his large, true vintage wire-framed aviator prescription glasses that have come back into fashion, and an amusing scrunched up nose and opened mouth to help him read better. He hasn’t been to the eye doctor for at least a decade, the dentist either. The little room he saw with the candles he came to find out is called the ‘perpetual adoration of the Eucharist’ and he learned that it’s a quiet room where people only go to pray. That’s it.
He’s been an insomniac ever since his life went upside down; in fact, he can’t remember the last time that he really slept, or even the last time he had a dream. When he sleeps now, it’s just forever black. And he wakes up as if his eyes shutting were a time machine to the burning illumination of morning slithering through his bedroom windows. The morning reminds him of how when he sees his ex-wife now, and she’s walking just a bit ahead of him, what it was like to reach out and hold her hand. He can never do that again.
His name’s John, people call him Joe. He’s never gone to church in his life, except those few times he and his mother went to socialize, to feel normal after his dad committed suicide when he was nine, but he needs something to fill the vacant space he feels in this house and inside of himself at night. At night, when he lays back staring at the ceiling from the couch downstairs, the television yammering on in the background about an item no one would’ve ever thought they needed, imagining the faces of all those he’s ever met, wronged, or were just found memorable, he relives every detail he can muster. His mothers face when she would weep at the table, cigarette in her hand long and white and thin like her fingers, ash falling onto the kitchen floor, his daughter’s face when she was just born screaming for the first time with her gummy mouth, his sons face when he fell out of the swing he’d made him on the tree out back. He replays these memories, good ones, and bad ones, rewrites them sometimes as if they’ve evolved into his own screenplay that he can direct, yell cut. And he apologizes or takes the chances he didn’t when the events were actually occurring, like kissing his ex-wife instead of yelling at her. Listening to the things she asked him to do instead of thinking she was nagging; she only asked him to clean up after himself, and with having to clean up after him and the kids, she was over-burdened; he sees that now. He could’ve helped, but he didn’t. He was too drunk, too unhappy.
They fired him from the job he’d had nearly all his life, made good money, honest money glazing, making screens and glass. A man’s job, breaking his back all day in the sun, gave him wrinkles and bad skin. They fired him and he got injured shortly thereafter due to the injuries sustained on the job, lucky for him, they paid him out. He doesn’t even have to work because of disability, at least for now. He can get by because the house is paid off, bills are cheap, and he doesn’t eat much besides ham sandwiches and pizza, can’t drink anymore and doesn’t smoke except for when he’s real lonely. Something was eating him from the inside back in those days he was working; smoking, drinking, trying to claw its way out, and he didn’t know what it was. Some people never do. For him, it was a life full of hurt. A life he’d buried, but always seemed to resurrect itself, no room for god in a life like that, not even now. He’s hesitant to volunteer, to answer the ad and just sit there and do something for others, quietly, without a pat on the back, which he likes. The world’s an awful place that he’s seen too much pain in to believe in god, but the place is quiet, he’d be helping people without even having to speak to them.