Driving around town one day–suburban streets–I come upon a tragic scene in the road ahead: a squirrel has clearly been run over by a car, you see it now and then, awful. But this one, though immobilized, is still alive, its front paws clawing the air pitifully, lower body held in place by on of it’s squashed and glued back legs. It’s kicking and scrabbling and clearly in pain. I can see the asshole that ran him over up ahead of me pulling away down the street in a tan Chevy. Worst of all, a smaller squirrel, probably a female, is standing near the curb facing her comrade, herself torn between staying and fleeing. I swerve quickly to avoid the downed squirrel and, as I pass, glance out the driver’s side window at the rigid female. We lock eyes. And something passes through me. I keep on driving, but the further down the block I go, the more I want to either catch, and beat up the smug prick who ran over the bigger squirrel or turn around somewhere and go back and help the poor thing. But what can I do? It’s leg is raspberry jam. I’m not a damn vet! And, hey, it’s just a squirrel, right? Maybe, but I can’t get the brown, liquid eyes of its companion out of mind…I SWEAR they were watching me, searching or maybe even reproachful. Finally I can take no more–I swerve around the block, head back up the opposite street, swerve again and come back to the crippled squirrel. Too late. The tries if a big Peterbilt
truck have taken care of the rest of the trapped squirrel in a squish of fat read tread mark. The smaller animal has moved to atop the curb, but still woefully waiting for her companion to come back to life and join her. And as I pass, you guessed it, she’s staring at me again… with something like an imploring look.
I look quickly away. Thinking: if only I’d stopped the first time…
Guy is out driving in the burbs at night (many of my books are set in the burbs you may have noticed) suddenly realizes he’s daydreamed himself past his house. He brakes the car and pulls into a strange driveway to turn around. Before he can get the car in reverse there’s a bang at the front door and a young girl comes rushing down the front walk–a vision in blond tresses and white dress. She looks ready for a dance or a party or somehing. On she comes, smiling radiantly, grabs the handle on the passenger side, opens the car door and slides in. She slams it after at her and turns to smile fetchingly at the driver. His heart is in his throat–she really IS a knockout.
The guy behind the wheel is too stunned to answer; the girl of his dreams just jumped into his car. Thank you God, thank you!
“C’mon, let’s go!” she urges. He grins stupidly back: yes, lets!
NOW: if you are a male and you can identify with any of the above there is clearly only one decision–and you KNOW what that is.
Our friend puts the car in reverse, backs out of the drive and starts down the street with his new found angel.
“Brad? The party is the other way!”
Second chance: now is the time to spill the beans: His name is not Brad, nor is he some kind of blind date, nor will he ever let her out of his sight again!
“Uh,” he begins haltingly, “I sorta forgot where the party is…”
The lovely girl jerks her blond tresses in the other direction.
Our hero turns the car around, heads off down the street toward—
Please finish this.
This college friend of mind has rented a big old antebellum house between semesters. It was a steal but he’s beginning to realize maybe why. He seems to hear noises at night. In fact, after a few weeks he becomes almost certain someone–or some thing–is coming up the basement stairs toward his room… He’s all alone, no room mate…and he’s susceptible to suggestion. Still the sounds persists...trump…trump…trump…
As the nights go by and the sounds grow bolder, he begins to play a little game of terror with himself. From the location of the footsteps he divines that the—“thing”–is starting from the area of the dark, massive basement furnace. He goes to investigate. But he leaves the lights in the house out, carrying only a flashlight, believing that the darkness will hide him as well as it hides what ever is treading those basement steps. All alone in the dark then, he descends the cellar steps cautiously, wanders carefully the dark basement floor until he see the humped, darker shadow of the furnace. He takes a deep breath…then walks silently around to the back of the furnace and–switches on the flashlight!
There’s nothing, of course, save cobwebs. But he plays this horrid game every night as if trying to find some lost courage. And there’s ever anything there…except the sound of rising footsteps the moment he climbs back into bed.
One night there are no footsteps.
But there is a rain storm lashing the windows, keening the eves and flashing lightning across his room. Suddenly, my friend abruptly freezes as, above the wailing rain, he hears a knock at the front door downstairs. For no clear reason he is filled with terror. The knock comes again persistently even though it is 2:PM in the morning and raining like blazes outside and the streets are empty. My friend pads silently down the wide stair case to the bottom level and approaches the front door. Another knock jolts him. He reaches tentatively for the knob…then draws back, deciding to side-step to the narrow window adjacent and peer through the slit in the curtains. There in lamp-lit porch light, soaked to the skin, is a naked woman.
Sheer horror engulfs my friends mind.
He turns and RUNS quickly returns to bed–pulls the covers over his head…and listens to the wailing wind…
The first and last story are true. The middle one I made up.
They say stories, like movies, are made up of moments. I agree. But I have, after YEARS of these things banging against my brain been uable to squeeze them into anything vaguely resembling literature. They’re all trying to say something. I just don’t know what.
Some of them just get away…