so! my journey to a new, better visual artist is coming along swimmingly. last night, i drew a dog that was actually kind of cute! see!
now this lil doggie doodle may not mean that much to yous guys, and of course, it's not great art. but the whole first section of the site i'm learning from, drawspace.com, is about learning to see in order to draw what you see. so basically i can identify simple shapes and transform them into more complex ones. as well as follow simple instructions and make my hand move the way the lines go, more or less. small yay for me. it's my hope to be able to draw from imagination, as well as from sight. oh, that will be the day!
'so why go through all this trouble, Kits, if you're a writer first?' so glad you asked. i've been writing for a long, long time. and while i know my characters inside and out, the outside can get a lil fuzzy when you have to put a work to the side to clear your head on it. i want to be able to do character sketches, maybe important illustration of key plot moments. breath more life into my loves so they live for my audience as much as they live for me.
it's been a long time coming and taken a lot of self talks to be able to share the stories in my head with people other than very close friends. but these stories gotta be told, and i'm finally willing to tell them to the world, damn the consequences or critics. i can never get published if i can't get past the fear or rejection or negative reactions.
it's also all part of fulfilling a desire to live a more creative life. my day job pays bills, but requires ZERO initiative or creativity. eight hours a day of that is absolutely stifling. i write, craft, draw, read, sing to keep that ole right brain strong.
It was a breezy, warm March night. Half sleep, she slipped under the stairs and fumbled with her keys. To her left, a shadow flashed toward her. Joy reeled away from the door, expecting a mugger, or worse. Spring seedlings skittered into the bushes beyond, but nothing else moved. Joy released a huge sigh of relief and almost laughed at her foolishness. But as she turned the lock and pushed the door open, she heard a faint, yet recognizable scream to her left. She looked down and stifled a scream. The stone gray body of a woman lie sprawled beneath the stairs.
Under her open eyes thick, tacky bars of blood rouged her cheeks. Worst, her organs lay pulled out across her breasts and belly. Joy ran inside, crawled to the nightlight inside the door and searched for her cell phone. She didn’t find and realized that in her sleep addled state that she’d left it in the car. With no house phone, she would have to go back for it. Joy steeled herself, cracked the door and peeked outside. The body had vanished.
She swung the door open in disbelief. No corpse, no blood. She slammed the door and turned on the light. Was it a waking nightmare? It must have been. Her fear of coming home in the middle of the night was causing hallucinations. Joy wanted to laugh at her delirium but her fear lingered. She checked the locks again, making sure both bolts were secure before going directly to bed.
By morning, Joy could laugh about the scare the previous night. But the horror continued the next night. Fatigued, she strolled from the car, paying no attention to the space beneath the stairs. Upon putting her key in the door, however, she heard a moan. Just at her feet lay another dead woman. An African American woman, her hands and feet had been severed, her eyes and nose were sewn shut and blood covered her lips in glossy horror. Fear and exhaustion broke her and her world went black.
* * * *
Joy woke to music playing softly. She sat upright and found herself in a strange place.
“You’re awake! Are you alright? I came out to get the paper and you were slumped at the door.”
Joy turned to the man’s voice and saw her neighbor Tony sitting at his easel. Memories of the night before flooded back to her. “The body…” she whispered and began to sob.
“Body?” Tony asked, joining her on the sofa.
“I feel like I’m losing it, Tony. I’m seeing horrible things.”
Tony raised an eyebrow. “Ghosts, Joy?”
She knew it sounded absurd, but Joy related the previous two nights. When she finished, he gave Joy a weak smile and went to the kitchen. “It does sound a little, you know… nutty.”
She shook her head. “I just haven’t been sleeping much.”
“Then take some time off, Joy. Get some rest.”
“I just started this shift a few weeks ago. I don’t want my boss to think I can’t cut it.”
“You should try,” Tony suggested. “But don’t tell anyone else what you told me. The men in the white coats will come and take you away. Coffee?”
“I don’t need anything else to keep me up. I’m going to bed. Thanks Tony.”
Joy cautiously opened Tony’s door and stared at the space next to hers. Only lingering doubts remained there.
* * * *
As a warm March turned into a dry April, the sightings intensified. Four women appeared to Joy sporadically. However, nine days passed without any sightings. Joy thought the nightmare was finally over, until the body of Grace appeared.
After a particularly stressful shift, Joy’s mind was elsewhere. As she neared the stairs, a voice called out, “Please…” Joy stopped and peered through the steps. A head with auburn pigtails wavered on the other side. Slowly, Joy stepped closer and saw an arm extended from the alcove. She rounded the stairs and saw a young woman kneeling. She’d been strangled and her eyes gouged out. A wire bound to her hand to her neck as she attempted to save her life. Joy could see her fingers and throat bleed. “Please,” she croaked again. The girl beckoned blindly with her free hand before collapsing into a scatter of beads. Five of the little pastel beads spelled the dead woman’s name. Joy could only close her eyes and shuffle by to get inside. I just watched a woman die. Joy loved her apartment, but it was time move. But at the moment, she needed a long shower.
As she walked out of the bathroom, she glanced at the floor where the door jamb met the carpet. Revelation washed over her in a panic. She’d seen one of Grace’s beads before. When Joy moved in, she remembered sweeping a bead from a lifted corner of the carpet in her bedroom. The sightings weren’t related to the stairs, but to her apartment! “They were in here!” Joy gasped. She repressed the urge to vomit and ran to her office.
She rambled through a drawer for an envelope addressed to Dave Wyzek, the previous tenant. He hadn’t left a forwarding address. Haunted by dead women, who wouldn’t leave in a hurry? She found the envelope and opened her laptop to find his phone number. An hour later, she found his new address in Jal, New Mexico, but no number. New Mexico isn’t that far… She turned back to the computer and searched directions to Dave Wyzek’s new residence.
By six am, Joy had called her office and prepared to leave. Tony emerged from his apartment to fetch the paper as she got to the car. “You’re up early,” he called to her.
Joy turned and smiled. “I’m going to New Mexico.”
“Taking that vacation? That’s good.”
“No, I’m going to see Dave Wyzek. He lived in my apartment before me. Did you know him?”
Tony’s face clouded. “In passing. Why drive all the way there to see him?”
“I think he must have been haunted by the ghosts beneath the stairs too. It may be why he left so abruptly.”
“I don’t think you should go, Joy. Take a road trip, yes, but forget about Wyzek.”
“I’m seeing these women for a reason. And Dave Wyzek may be able to help.”
“You… why don’t I go with you? You don’t know Dave. He’ll probably remember me. Then we can put all this ghosts nonsense to rest, right?”
Joy beamed. “Yeah, that’s a really good idea actually. I’m ready now, if –“
“Give me 15 minutes!” Tony answered, darting away. True to his word, he joined Joy in a matter of minutes. They got in the car and headed west.
* * * * *
By 12:30 that afternoon, Joy pulled into the parking lot of Wyzek’s motel, a place clearly on the verge of being condemned. Tentatively, she and Tony approached his room and knocked.
“What do you want?” a voice shouted furiously.
Joy stammered, “Mr. Wyzek? My name is Joy and I wanted to talk to you about-“
“Get the fuck out of here!” he screamed.
Joy jumped, but Tony put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s alright, I’m here.”
“Mr. Wyzek,” Joy continued, “It’s about the women at the apartments in Dallas.”
A long silence followed. Joy became certain he had no intention to speak to her when the door jerked open. Dave Wyzek stared out wildly past the security chain. “The girls?”
“Yes, Mr. Wyzek! Can you tell me anything about them?”
His eyes darted to Tony then back to Joy. “All about them…” He faded from view and the door closed. Joy heard the chain being removed and slowly he opened the door.
It reeked of body odor and stale cigarette smoke inside the deplorable and dimly lit room. Joy cautiously took a seat on the edge of an old chair with Tony standing next to her. Wyzek plopped onto a couch crammed between the door and dresser.
“Smoke?” he offered from a crumpled pack.
“I don’t smoke,” Joy said. Tony only stared at Wyzek intently. She talked fast to get out of there quickly. “Mr. Wyzek, you saw those women, didn’t you? At your old apartment?”
“Yes,” he answered dourly. “Four beautiful girls.”
Joy frowned. “Four? Not five?”
“Not the last ‘ne…” he trailed off.
“You are talking about the women under the stairs, right?”
His face turned in confusion. “What stairs?”
Panic filled Joy’s belly something didn’t add up.
Tony suddenly spoke up “Dave, what do you know about all this?”
“I’ll tell ya…” Wyzek said absently. He leaned back and covered his face with his forearms and remained silent for several minutes.
Finally, Joy mustered the courage to ask one more question. “Mr. Wyzek, did you… know any of those women?”
Still reclined, Wyzek answered, “I knew them. Well, I killed them.”
He began naming each of them, speaking clinically of their deaths. But Joy hardly heard. She bolted up and ran for the door.
“Look out!” Tony called to her. As she reached for the chain, she heard the click of a revolver hammer. From the corner of her eye she saw the gun Wyzek had aimed at her back. She turned to face him as he raised the weapon.
“I got no reason,” he said. “They were so pretty. But he kept saying, “They’ll be so beautiful dead.’”
Suddenly, Wyzek put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. For a moment, Joy didn’t fully grasp what happened. Eerie silence filled the room. Tony recovered from the shock first, grabbed Joy by the shoulders and ushered her back to the car.
* * * * *
By one a.m., Joy and Tony finally pulled into the complex. Cautiously, Joy rounded the stairs; tonight, no vision haunted her. Elated, Joy laughed heartily.
“What’s so funny?” Tony asked.
“Nothing, there’s nothing there! Wyzek’s death must’ve freed the spirits or something. I’m so glad! We should probably call the police in Jal, though. But I don’t have the energy to try to explain how I know he killed five women in Texas.”
“Four. He didn’t kill Grace.”
Joy looked at him in disbelief. “I just saw Grace last night. How did you--”
“Dave always was a weak sack of shit. He never could do anything right. Butchering up my beauties. Then, instead of killing you, he kills himself! But you Joy, I think you’re the stupidest bitch I’ve ever met. I told you to forget about Dave. So I’m not going feel too bad about killing you myself.”
Tony took a step forward, but Joy slammed her key in the lock and swung inside her apartment. She peered through the peephole; Tony glared at the door before going back inside his apartment. Joy started searching her purse for her cell phone, but stopped. An out of place order filled her apartment. She followed it and found it emanated from her bedroom. As she took a step inside, unseen hands grabbed her head. Joy struggled, but she couldn’t scream, like cotton lodged her throat. The smell of sweat and cigarettes sickened her and Joy panicked more. It can’t be! Suddenly, a voice rasped in the dark, “So beautiful…”Joy tried furiously to scream again but the only sound was the bedroom door slamming shut.
Copyright © K. Knight 2011
unfortunately no music tonight (only a song reference), as i'm past my allotted time for this post, so i'll double your pleasure tomorrow and hopefully get to show off some more of my arts. night!