Wednesday, March 10, 2021


I asked Siri if I could make au jus sauce from beef boullion and this is what it heard...

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Hey Rocky!!!

Finally, after five years of working in the salt mines and grist mills of the criminal justice system I am peeking my head out to see if I can still pull a rabbit out of my hat. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - The Cottage

For my final tale, a delicious taste of an old favorite entitled:

The Cottage

"Let's go camping he said…. It'll be fun he said. "

My sarcasm not being lost on him, Harrison glared at me through one partially open green eye. The other eye which was also green, was swollen shut and showed no sign of being able to open, let alone glare.

I glanced up at the darkening sky above us. Being the queen of stating the obvious I quipped, "It's getting dark already."

"We will find our way back to the RV, babe. All we have to do is go North."

It took every reserve ounce of patience I had left not to bop him upside his head.

"And which way would that be, Oh Great Indian Navigator? The closest you ever came to being an outdoorsman was the time you took me hiking in Griffith Park." The one green eye turned one shade darker. "And if I remember correctly, we got lost then too."

I could tell Harrison Michael O'Grady's Irish temper was about to get the better of him as I watched him choke down a nasty remark as if it was a bitter piece of fruit.

"Okay smartass, well, I know it is getting dark and if nothing else we should be able to follow the North Star."

How this Venice Beach born and raised Angeleno might recognize the North Star even if it fell on his big head was beyond me but for the moment I refrained from asking him.

"You mean you want to stay here until it gets completely dark?"

His face turned the color of the poison ivy that had been the cause of his swollen eye, without the shine.

"No Gill, we don't have to wait for it to get dark. I am fairly sure we are going in the right direction already."

Whether or not he noticed my condescending tone, he never said and without so much as a look in my direction, he walked off through the thick web of shrubbery mumbling beneath his breath.

"And besides, the North star can be seen before dark."

Once again I fought the overwhelming urge to slap him.

I thought about sitting down at that moment, right there in a pile of wet, decaying October leaves and just let him go off on his own but the trip to Maine had been my idea after all, although to be fair to myself I had envisioned a queen size down quilted bed in a quaint, and warm, Bed and Breakfast in Portland and not the motorized hotel room that we had driven up in from Boston.

Suddenly it didn't seem so bad, the massive RV sitting back at the scenic overlook, now vacant save for our ten year old Golden Retriever, Mr. Darcy, and our cell phones which Harrison had insisted upon leaving behind.

“We need to unplug, babe. Just leave them here.”

The poor boy was going to be wanting outside soon, luckily I had left enough food and water down for him and even though we might die out here in the Mashapequot Woods, Mr. Darcy would be just fine for a couple of days at least.

Alhough I was quite sure the carpet by the camper door would be a goner if we didn't make it back before long.

Pointing out that fact to Harrison as we were trudging through the dense coppice that appeared to ramble on for as far as we could see, and the fact that his thousand dollar deposit would disappear right along with the carpet, did not seem to be a wise move on my part so for once I kept my over exuberant mouth shut and followed him further into the woods.


"Do you smell cinnamon?"

Harrison crinkled his perfect Celtic nose and frowned. “Not really cinnamon I don’t think.” He looked at the massive maple tree that he was currently leaning against as if he might discover the origin of the smell from within.

“I smell something but I really can't tell what it is." He turned his head around to look at me and I could see the puzzlement in his eyes. "It reminds me of something but I can't quite put my finger on it."

The soft scent reminded me of something as well, something sweet yet rotten like an overly ripe cantaloupe that has just gone bad.

It still smelled good though, good enough to eat you might say, even though it would most likely make you sick and you would spend the next day or so praying to the porcelain God or at the very least, sitting upon his throne.

This knowledge however, did nothing to dispel the urge to indulge in the dark sappy sweetness that was still there even when you knew better.


That was what it was. The smell was tempting you to come forth and eat even when you knew if you did, you were damned.

“Maybe there is a house near by.”

By this time full night had arrived right on schedule and with a thick cloud covering kissed with the promise of rain later on, not one single star, including the great all knowing North Star, was in sight. Not to mention that the blackness that currently shrouded us gave no indication that there was any house in our vicinity, and certainly none where someone was doing some very fragrant late evening baking.

And while all this was true, it did nothing to explain the fact that the scent was still there, even though we couldn’t comprehend where it was coming from or why it might exist in these remote Maine woods to begin with.

“It sure smells… good.” There was a hint of a question in Harrison’s voice that suddenly seemed quite faraway as he if we were talking to me on some ancient overseas telephone line where you can only guess at exactly where they might be.

I shouldn't have asked the question of a man who thought he could follow the North Star to safety but I couldn't help it.

"Do you think you can find where it's coming from?"

"Of course," he said without so much as a second's hesitation. "It's really close I think."

Without another word Harrison disappeared in front of me, slipping further into the darkness of the forest.


"There it is. That is where the smell is coming from I bet."

Now I am from New England and as such I have seen every type of architecture there is but this house was a new one even for me.

It was your basic two story Cape style and at first I thought there was nothing odd about it at all, other than the fact that it was out here in the middle of nowhere.

"I told you I could find it. We should go and see if anyone is home."

I grabbed his arm before he could move any closer.

"Wait, Harrison. Something isn't right."

"What? Look Gill, we are lost and this is the only house we have come across in four hours."

"There is something familiar about this house. I have seen it somewhere before."

"What do you mean? Do you know who lives here?"

"Maybe. Just maybe."

I snuck up closer to the cottage until I could peek into the window.

"Harrison, come here. And be very quiet."

"What is this siding on here? Is it cork of some kind?

"No, it's gingerbread. Look."

We both stared as the old hag inside twirled and danced around her kitchen. The stove was covered with steaming pots and a large industrial size oven was wide open just waiting for  something to be put inside.

I heard a soft whimper come from somewhere inside the cottage then I heard Harrison gasp.

"She has Mr. Darcy."

The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I froze. I almost asked him if he was sure but from the look on his face, I could tell he was.

"Where is he? Do you see him?"

Harrison gagged. "She has him in a roasting pan."

I couldn't see what he was looking at nor did I care. There are times when instinct takes over and your better judgment goes right out the window, or in this case, right in the window.

I was inside the witch's cottage before you could say Jack Robinson and Harrison was right behind me.

As shocked as the hag was to see us come crawling through her window she wasn't nearly as shocked as I was to see my poor Darcy lying in a large roasting pan, tressed up with baking string like a Thanksgiving turkey.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

I did notice the hag was wielding a very large carving knife but honestly, I didn't give a rat's arse.

I was already five steps ahead of him by the time Harrison stepped in front of me and told me to get the dog.

The witch made the mistake of coming towards me when she should have been much more worried about Harrison. Before she could raise her knife to strike, Harrison tackled her like USCSB football player he was in his college days.

The witch, the knife, and Harrison all went flying but I lost sight of all of them as I tried to cut away the string that had my poor dog bound.

Harrison could take care of himself and I would deal with her when Darcy was free.

Darcy was biting what he could of the string and I was yanking on the rest. It probably took no more than seconds to release him but at the time it seemed like an eternity until he was free and able to jump off the table. Without fear for himself he ran towards Harrison to see if his master needed any assistance.

Harrison did not.

I called Darcy back to me and the two of us stood in the corner and watched Harrison take care of business as he always had.

The nearly unconscious witch was neatly folded in half and popped into the waiting oven. There was nothing at first but after a moment or two the screaming began.

There was always screaming.

"I can't believe we went on vacation and you still had to work."

Harrison refused to look at me as he held the oven door shut until the screaming stopped.


Harrison peeked into the oven and satisfied there was nothing more than ash left inside, turned the oven off. He is a stickler about wasting energy.

"Harrison, did you know there was a witch in these woods?"

When he finally looked at me he had a wild, guilty grin on his face.

"I couldn't help it. You know how hard it is for me to take time off and just relax and I knew you would get ticked if you knew."

He was right about that. The man simply loved his job way too much and getting him to take time off was like pulling teeth.

I scratched Mr. Darcy's ears. "That's all well and fine for you Mr. Witch Hunter, but you nearly got our dog eaten."

Another voice came from outside the front door.

"Darcy was never in any danger, I was here all the time."


The cousins embraced then stood next to each other like two proud peacocks and exchanged fist bumps.

I wanted to belt them both.


Friday, October 30, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - Traditions

A childish tale entitled:


Chris sat down on the front step next to his younger sister. "Are you ready? We are going to this just like last time."

Candice frowned. "Are you sure? I mean.. the last time.. it made such a mess."

"It can't be helped.  We have to do this before they get back. What would happen if we were still doing it when they got home?"

Candice nodded gloomily. "I know. You're right. We would be in trouble."

"Now, get the knife and the plastic trash bag. We can put all the guts in there."

"Sometimes I just hate to do it. She is so beautiful just like she is."

"Candice, we have to do it. It's Halloween."

Chris thrust the knife through the skin, stabbing the pulpy flesh below.

"And what would Halloween be without Jack O'Lanterns."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - The Sisters Van Helsing - Part 4

The final chapter in the tale of two sisters:

The Sisters Van Helsing
Part 4

This was not my first rodeo with the spirit world and it would most certainly not be my last but I have to admit there was a moment of doubt when I saw Richie heading towards me, jaw set, eyes clear, machete raised, but like the Victrola, the steel blade lacked substance in a metaphysical way.

Which honestly, did not make me any less afraid, I had already seen what non-physical beings had done to Mitch and if I didn't want to be jumping right behind him, I figured I had best not let my guard down for a second.

The white cloud from my breath was practically blocking my view as I strode carefully down the hall. My brain was telling me to run but I thought avoiding both Richie and the woman would be the best plan of action for me to retain my sanity. Or what was left of it anyway.

Richard was running but it was more like a slow motion movie sequence to me. He brought down the machete as I easily slipped by him and although that machete wasn't real exactly, I could have sworn I heard the swoosh of the metal as it passed by my ear.

Luckily I was slightly faster than he was. The Van Gogh look was not something I was going for.

In three long strides I reached the door to my room and grabbed the knob to go in.

Unfortunately, the door I had left slightly ajar was now shut and locked. And the key was on the other side.

"Damn it!"

Yes, I cursed again.

Ramirez and the woman laughed behind me.

While I was pretty sure the Very Odd Couple couldn't hurt me physically, 'pretty sure' wasn't something I was willing to bet on at the moment. Forgetting all hotel manners and propriety, I began to scream and bang on the  door to our room praying that my sister hadn't stuck in a pair of earplugs while I was gone on my quest to silence the music.

She hadn't.

"What the hell, Dee?"

"I forgot the key."

"Why would you leave the room without the key? It's a hotel for heaven's sake."

I thought perhaps the hallway with a deranged satan worshiping serial killer ghost coming after me wasn't the best place for this conversation so I pushed her back into the room, slammed the door, and locked all four locks.

I don't know what I thought that was going to do against someone that could clearly walk through the door, locked or not, but I wasn't thinking clearly.

"Put some clothes on. I need your help."

Lori took one look at my face and didn't argue for a change.

She pulled her jeans and shoes on and asked me what was going on. I gave her the Reader's Digest version.

"Okay. I am not too worried about the couple in the hallway. They sound resourceful but they would have hurt me when they locked the door if they could have. "

"And the Black Dahlia?"

"Her, I am a little more worried about. She has gotten inside his head and Lord knows if I can turn that around in time."

She grabbed her purse and the velvet pouch that she was never without, tucked the room key into her pocket and took my hand as we stepped back out into the hallway.

Richard Ramirez and company were gone for the moment and we hurried down the frigid hall.

The door to Mitch's room was now completely frosted over as if a winter storm had just dropped by for a visit and when I knocked, it burned my hand.

No answer.

"Do you think he already jumped?"

"No, I think we would have heard sirens if he had. Step back."

Lori and our brother Abe both have a multitude of natural abilities that for some reason I do not. They were born with them, I was born with a love for reading and black and white horror movies, along a tendency to get myself into trouble.

Lori pulled a tiny vial from the pouch, whispered what I guessed was a prayer of some sort, then sprinkled the door with the contents of the vial.

The frost immediately disappeared and when I knocked again, Mitch opened the door.

He looked worse than before, pale had faded to nearly transparent and haunted had become gaunt and dead like,  however he was still standing and was still in this physical realm which was preferable to the alternative.

Lori didn't even flinch when she saw the figure on the bed. "Your music is too loud," was all she said to her.

I bolted past all of them, keeping one eye on the ghost and the other on the guy I was currently attracted to and slammed the window shut. I figured that would give us all a couple of minutes anyway to sort this all out.

Now, I would have gone for the nasty ghoul on the bed first but apparently Lori had had enough of Nat King Cole for one evening. She walked over to the still playing Victrola ghost, spritz some holy water on the thing and it disappeared mid-chorus.

Like I said before, Lori knew her stuff.

The moment the music shut off, Mitch collapsed onto the floor and the room began to warm.

I might have expected some screaming or tantrum throwing from the spirit but there was nothing. I watched her face as I brought Mitch around and noticed she took on the pallor of melancholy where I had seen only anger and hostility before. Lori walked over to her and whispered something I couldn't hear. The girl smiled a bit, shook her head and faded into the bedspread she was lying on as if she had never been there at all.

"Remind me never to lie on the bedspread here again."

"Remind me never to let you make the reservations again."

I laughed at that. As always, my sister was right.

It took Mitch several minutes to warm up completely and come around to what I suspected was his normal self. I told the small fib that we were with the hotel and someone passing by had heard him pass out and fall inside his room. He didn't remember any of it and it was just as well.

I'll tell him the truth later. Much, much later.

He introduced himself to me as Mitch Ryder, but not that Mitch Ryder, and we both laughed at his comic genius.

I think he will fit in just fine with this family.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - The Sisters Van Helsing - Part 3

The third part in the tale of two sisters:

The Sisters Van Helsing
Part 3

You would think that the source of blaring music at midnight in a hotel would be an easy thing to find but you would be wrong about that.

The entire hall was filled with music as if it were coming from the hotel walls themselves. It could easily have been coming from any one of the rooms on the fourteenth floor. Or even another floor. I couldn't be sure.

I may have been affected by the cold or by the fact that I was  in serious need of sleep but I inadvertently blurted, "Jiminy Christmas its friggin cold in here," and immediately wished I hadn't said that aloud.

Whatever was residing in these rooms, I knew I would be better off if it wasn't aware of my presence just yet.

I took a few tentative steps across the hall and carefully pressed my hand on the door. I wasn't exactly positive of what I was expecting but the door felt, well, like a door. Nothing special, it wasn't even particularly chilly which was odd seeing how cold it was in the hallway.

When you are exhausted things seem funny that really shouldn't and, "This isn't the door you are looking for," flashed through my mind nearly setting off a fit of  giggles in spite of it all.

"May the force be with me," came next and I continued  my search down the hall.

I tried the next three doors and found them all to be relatively normal save one that looked newer than all the other doors in the hotel. I pondered for just a second what might have transpired in that room as to cause such a remodeling.

Then I decided maybe it was best not to know.

The next to the last door on the right held some promise I thought. I knew there was serious cold emanating from the inside as the metal door knob was completely frosted over.

"It looks like we have a winner," I whispered softly and knocked.

I am not sure what I expected to open the door, a ghastly spirit or a nasty demon but I am quite sure I wasn't expecting Mitch Ryder.

Oh, just for clarity, not that Mitch Ryder.

He was a tall drink of water as my mother would say, at least six foot four to my estimate as I stood there in  the doorway.  Due to the fact that I am vertically challenged, I had to strain my neck up to see his face properly. He stood there looking at me, expecting me to say something as I was the one who knocked, but I was so captivated by his looks that for once, I was at a loss for words.

Thankfully he wasn't.

"Can I help you?"

This was a good looking guy. Well sort of, except for that whole pale, terrified, haunted thing he had going on. His pale blue eyes were  slightly glossed over, his black hair was somewhat disheveled, and he appeared to not have showered in a while, but other than that, he was gorgeous.

It was possible that he was a drunk or even an addict considering where he was staying but since I had the distinct impression that the music was coming from his room, I guessed it was something else.


Okay, so I couldn't think while I was staring into those satiny eyes and was suddenly more concerned about whether or not  my makeup had failed me hours ago.

He looked at me expectantly so I thought I had best say something.

"The music... it's just a little loud. That's all."

His eyes suddenly grew and he practically dragged me into his room.

"You can hear it?"

"Of course I can hear it. I just said it was  a little loud."

"Can you see her?"

He pointed into the room behind him and lying on the bed was a woman.

I use that term loosely however.

It was a woman. Or had been. At one time.

Now it was more like a ghastly reflection of one. Even so, I was jealous.

"You have company. Sorry."

His eyes cleared up suddenly and instead of a dazed look now they had more of a glare of annoyance. They were still stunning.

"What??? No! I do not have company! She doesn't belong here!"

Okay, so I needed to do something. The music was still blaring.

I found the source of the blasting music inside his room as I had suspected. Lori was right, it was an old Victrola playing. Except it didn't appear to be quite as solid as one might imagine it should.

"Is that your record player?" I wasn't sure what else to say, I was pretty sure it wasn't his.

"No, it just showed up when she did."

Sentimental Reasons started over again, all on its own I might add.

Terrific, a ghostly Victrola on top of everything else. How the hell do you shut it off?

I walked towards the figure on the bed. She should have been able to see me but she was too wrapped up in smoking her cigarette which was no more corporeal than she was. Did they bring everything from the other side with them?

I attempted to get her attention. "Miss? Can you turn the music down?"

Now the guy was looking at me as if I had lost my mind. To be fair, he really didn't know who I was at the time, so I forgave him. I can forgive just about any man that looks like that.

Regardless, the woman ignored me and went on smoking what appeared to be a Pall Mall.

I took a better look at her and from what I could ascertain from the remains of what appeared to be a lateral dissection, it was Elizabeth Short. Or a kind of "repaired" version of her.

I had seen photos of the Black Dahlia of course, but truth be known, I wouldn't know her from the Blue Dahlia. The injuries are what clued me in to who she was and that 1940's hairdo which I have to admit, she carried off pretty well.

Elizabeth Short had been cut in half at the midsection and while I could plainly see that she was pretty much still in two separate pieces, the edges of the wounds had been softened and blended to the point  you almost couldn't tell what happened at all.

Apparently they can Photoshop you once you are dead. I must admit, that bit of information gave me no small amount of comfort. I could now look forward to an afterlife sans cellulite.

Then she spoke.

"Mitch, honey. Get rid of this broad. We have things to do."

I didn't really want to think about what they had to do, even for me that sounded pretty obscene and I accept an awful lot on faith. But what concerned me more was that the glazed and dazed look had returned to Mitch's eyes.

"Sure babe. I'll get rid of her." His voice had a tone of resolution and something else I couldn't quite put my finger on.

"You need to go."

It was just about then that I noticed the window in the room was wide open and I had a sinking feeling of what good old Liz had planned for Mitch.

"Yeah, okay. Well, just keep the music down and have a nice night."

Mitch didn't hear me or if he did he didn't answer. He was back under the spell of the Black Dahlia.

And I needed help if I was going to save him.

He shut the door in my face and I decided that it was time for Lori to get up. She wouldn't be happy about it but I wasn't happy thinking about tall, dark, and handsome being splattered all over Main Street either.

I reluctantly gave Mitch and Liz some privacy and turned around to return to my room.

The hallway was still freezing as when I first entered it but I wasn't alone in it  any longer.

About half way down the narrow hallway and between me and my hotel room door, stood Richard Ramirez.

He was slashing at a woman with what appeared to be a machete although I had never actually seen a machete before and I was just guessing that was what it was.

Thankfully, for me at least, the woman was already dead and had been for the last thirty years or so.

I couldn't hear them for some reason and I might have even had time to consider why that was so, if it wasn't for the fact that Richie had stopped his attack on the woman and had turned his attention towards me.


Like my sister, I can swear on occasion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - The Sisters Van Helsing - Part 2

Another chapter in my tale of two sisters:

The Sisters Van Helsing
Part 2

The silence was killing me. I hate it when Lori gets all "big sister' on me and scolds me like I'm a child but the silent treatment is worse.

This was worse.

"Aren't you going to speak to me, Sis?"

"At some point, Dee. If we live long enough."

I caught the sarcasm in her voice but she was right about that. We had seen two ghosts in the hotel inside of thirty minutes of our arrival and it hadn't even been dark yet.

Ghosts don't hurt people. Well, not generally anyway, but with serial killers and psychotic murder victim ghosts, who knows?

Later that night as I was lying there in my bed at the Hotel Cecil, I started thinking about all the dead that might be roaming the hotel's hallways in addition to the ones we had already seen, counting them like one might count guests at a birthday party.

Like Richard Rameriz, there was another serial killer that lived here, Jack Unterweger. And while he didn't die at the hotel either, he did kill several prostitutes in these rooms. Perhaps after he committed suicide, he might have been attracted back to the hotel for some reason..

Murder victim, Elizabeth Short aka The Black Dahlia,  was rumored to have been here as well. She didn't die at the Cecil as far as anyone knows but that doesn't mean she isn't hanging around here.

Another murder victim,  Goldie Osgood was actually killed in the hotel so she might be a permanent fixture here as well.

There have been numerous suicides but  Pauline Otton was one that was reported and that I remember clearly. Plus the guy that Pauline landed on down on the street below, Gianni or somethin like that,  I can't recall his name but that brings the number up to seven and those are just the ones I know of.

There is really bad energy at this hotel, You can feel it in the air you breathe.

"What is that?"

There was music coming from somewhere outside.

"It's music I think. Someone is playing music this time of night?"

"That's not just music, Dee. That is a record playing on an old Victrola."

I listened again. "Is that Nat King Cole? Sentimental Reasons?"

My sister grunted beneath her covers. Clearly she was not pleased.

"I don't feel like playing Name That Tune with you, Dee. I need to sleep. Can you please tell whomever is playing records at midnight in a hotel that this is not proper form and they need to shut the hell up and go to sleep!"

My sister is cranky when she is tired. Or when she is hungry. In fact, she is cranky most of the time.

Come to think of it, I wasn't too happy either. "Alright!" I snapped a little louder that I probably should have.

I crawled out of my twin bed and pulled on my jeans attempting to be somewhat quiet while letting my sister know how annoyed I was to have to  go out into the cold and yell at someone. I didn't want to endure another lecture from her about how this was all my fault, blah, blah, blah however, so I kept most of my annoyance to myself.

 I didn't bother with the room key either, I figured I would only be gone a second or two since the music seemed to be coming from right outside our room.

As a note of future reference, never leave your room key behind when you are spending the night in a hotel haunted by serial killers and murder victims, it can never end well.

It was colder than I expected when I stepped out into the hallway, I could tell because my breath was already there, hanging out in front of me like a white mist.

This should have been my first warning to go back inside my room and bolt all four of the locks on the door.

But I didn't want to risk the wrath of Lori for a third time that night so instead of doing what my instincts were telling me to do, I softly shut the door behind me and tiptoed towards the music.

To Be Continued...

Monday, October 26, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales ~ The Sisters Van Helsing - Part 1

I got a little hung up on the characters so another tale of two sisters entitled:

The Sisters Van Helsing
Part 1

"Are you sure this is the right place, Dee?

Lori's distrusting tone set me on edge and we had only just arrived.

"Okay, so it's not the Ritz Carlton but it's cheap and it had some decent reviews on Yelp."

Alright, I might have been fibbing about that part a bit. There were a couple of not bad reviews but a whole lot more of DON'T STAY HERE reviews. Fortunately for me Lori isn't that keen on the internet and with four kids she hardly has the time to browse.

The fact was, I wanted to stay here because of the hotel's history. I mean, serial killers, suicides, and strange murders?? Who wouldn't jump at the chance?

"Someone just asked me if I was 'holding'.  Holding.  What do you think he meant?"

Yes, so it's a place frequented by junkies and drug dealers as well. I didn't think we looked like either one so I thought we would be okay. Yeah, I guess Iwas wrong about that.

"Who knows? Let's go get checked in. I can't wait to see the inside!"

Lori was still scrutinzing the addict sitting outside when I opened the door and we stepped inside the lobby.

"God Dee! This place is gorgeous!Are you sure this is the right place? Are you sure you got the price right?"

Even I had to admit that the lobby was stunning, a beautiful throwback to the elegance of the early 1900's when it was built. You could imagine Carol Lombard and Clark Gable strolling across the gleaming tiled floor on their way to check in after attending some Hollywood bash in the ballroom downstairs.

I was more than a little disappointed.

"Yep, this is it. The Cecil Hotel."

I heard Lori giggle slightly, irritating me even more and I snapped. "Let's just go get checked in, okay?"

My sister's tone  changed immediately. I should know better than to show my hand too early with her.

"Dee, What's going on? You selected this place and now you don't want to stay here?"

"No, of course I want to stay. It's beautiful isn't it?"

"But that isn't what you expected was it? What exactly were you expecting, Dee? Tell me why you picked this place right now."

I walked away without answering, leaving her behind as I went up to the front desk and checked us in before she could change her mind.


"This place is pretty awful, Dee."

Lori was right. While it was pretty much as clean as any other hotel I have ever been in, it was absolutely prehistoric. When was the last time I saw a television with a tube in it? Fifteen, twenty years before? I couldn't remember but it had been a long time before today. It was shocking but not nearly  as shocking as the fact that it still worked.

The ancient television was mildly interesting but it was the cold that got my attention.  Lori called down to the lobby about the coldness of the room only to discover our phone didn't work either. She declined to return down in the elevator by herself and we suffered until we figured the thermostat out by ourselves.

All in all, it was a old room but I knew that wasn't what Dee was referring to when she commented about it being awful.

I noticed it first in the elevator, the bone chilling dampness of the place. I know Dee noticed it too, her teeth were chatteirng loud enough to wake the dead but since we weren't alone as we rode up to the fourteenth floor (actually the thirteenth but who is counting?) she had the common courtesy not to mention it in front of the other hotel guests.

As we stepped out onto our floor the doors closing silently behind us, my sister whispered,"Dee, who was that in the elevator?"

"How would I know? I don't know anyone else who is staying here."

"They looked familiar to me. I don't know why."

I knew why. Anyone who watched the news in the last fifty years knew why but I didn't want to say just yet. However, as usual, my silence was like an alarm going off in Lori's head and she wasn't letting it go.

"Dee? Who were they? Why are we here at this hotel?"

Damn it. I could have tried to lie a little bit longer but it seemed less than worth the effort..

"It's supposed to be haunted. Remember the Elisa Lam disappearance and the weird video?"

"Christ, Dee. This isn't that hotel, is it? Tell me it isn't. Tell me that wasn't her in that elevator!! Tell me!!"

"Okay, well, I can't tell you that. But we did already pay for two nights so we are staying."

Lori stopped walking and was silent for a moment.  Then she asked me what I hoped she wouldn't.

"Deidre,who was the guy with her? I recognize him too. I have a feeling I should know who he is."

Like I said, I knew the history of the hotel.

"I think it was Richard Rameriz."

"The Night Stalker?"

Well, I was hoping she wasn't aware of who he was but I probably should have known better.

We are Van Helsings after all.

To be Continued...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - The Secret

A clever tale entitled:

The Secret

Sarah hid in the small cupboard beneath the stairs, her ears and eyes strained on the visitor that had come to speak to her Mamm. 
"Mrs. Beiler, I don’t mean to offend but perhaps Sarah's sister would be more suitable to raise the child." 
 Hannah Beiler shook her head solemnly and looked out of the kitchen window.
"No Bishop, that simply would not do, Mary is already overburdened.  I cannot ask that of Mary and I certainly would not ask that of Sarah.  No matter what, the child is a child of God and shall be cared for."  She turned and looked directly at the Bishop. He looked tired and the birthmark beneath his ear became more prominent the more irritated he became.
"Well, perhaps someone in another town then." His words were caring but his eyes were cold.  Bishop Miller looked at Hannah and realized he was fighting a losing battle at the moment.  He rose from his chair and touched Hannah’s hand. "Of course we will do as you wish but please give this some more thought before you make a final decision.  I will help in anyway that I can but a fatherless child, well Hannah, you know the church's opinion on that matter." 
Bishop Miller gently patted her hand and turned towards the door.  He leaned over and spoke to Hannah gently.  " I will speak to you at the Church service tomorrow and you can let me know what will be done." 
Hannah looked at his face and smiled sadly.  "Thank you Bishop, we will speak to you then," and she closed the door behind him as he stepped out into the afternoon sun. 
Hannah turned and walked slowly into the family room.  She sat down in her rocking chair, pulled the worn quilt around her and wept quietly as the afternoon sun warmed her.
 Sarah slowly opened the closet door.  She tiptoed down the hall and peeked in at her mother sitting in the oversized chair.  For as long as Sarah could remember that chair had been a place of solace and comfort for all the women of the Beiler family.  Her mother had rocked Sarah and her sister Mary until they were too big to fit on her lap and now all three enjoyed taking turns in the chair in the afternoon when the sun shown most brightly through the large picture window, warming whomever was seated there.  It surprised Sarah to see her Mamm crying and she didn't know what to do.  She wanted to go and comfort her but she did not want her Mamm to know she had been eavesdropping in on her private conversation, especially when Sarah was the topic.
She turned around and slipped quietly outside.
The short walk to the barn seemed eternal that afternoon and the large doors seemed extra heavy.  Once Sarah was sheltered in the cool darkness she sat down to think.  The same two questions kept going around and around inside of her young mind.  What is so terrible?  What could be done about it?   Sarah contemplated for hours until her head hurt.  Then she contemplated some more.
  The next day was Sunday and the weekly church service was to be held at the home of the Gustafson's.  Sarah awoke very early and dressed carefully in her best Sunday dress.  She pulled her new prayer kapp from her closet and placed it gently on her head.  She quietly opened her bedroom door, tiptoed past her parent's bedroom and with a prayer under her breath that they were still asleep, she slipped out the door.  The sun rose quickly and Sarah knew she had to hurry, so much needed to be done.

Hannah and Jacob arrived home that afternoon, slightly disturbed but somewhat relieved.  They had been spared another conversation with Bishop Miller for now but they both knew it would be just a matter of time before they would have to speak with him again.  The Bishop had not been at the service this morning and there were whispers that he had been taken ill.  What also bothered the couple was that their youngest daughter had not arrived for the service either.  It wasn't the first occasion Sarah had gone out into the woods, lost track of time and shown up hours later dirty and hungry but because of her daughter's delicate condition Hannah worried more than usual.  There was a chill in the air this afternoon and even though it was only October, it felt like there could be an early snow.
Sarah walked slowly towards home, the wind whipping her long skirt about as she struggled to keep her shawl around her shoulders. Her braided hair was coming out in long unbridled strands and she shoved the wayward pieces roughly behind her ears, cursing it with each step. She'd lost her prayer kapp again and her Mamm would be real angry with her. The dry autumn leaves went swirling about her feet as she walked and Sarah remarked to herself that there were far too many leaves on the ground already. She walked slowly thinking of the Bishop’s words of the previous day when he’d said she was too simple-minded to care for a baby.  Sarah had proven him wrong of course.  He discovered that she is clever, very clever indeed.  Her stomach growled and she thought of the freshly baked cookies that would be waiting for her, Sarah pulled her shawl tightly about her and started to run.
Winter came early that year.  By Thanksgiving there was almost a foot of snow covering the Pennsylvania hills.  Sarah began to show and she positively gleamed with motherhood.  Her mother and her sister began to make quilts, clothing and kapps for the baby and Jacob worked on a cradle for his newest grandchild.  A new Bishop arrived at the end of October without explanation and by Christmas everyone stopped wondering what had happened to Bishop Miller.  His belongings were packed away in case he returned for them and a prayer said for his safety.   Winter turned into spring and Sarah's baby was born, a beautiful baby boy whom she named Thomas after her grandfather. Everyone thought Thomas was perfect so no one took any notice of the small faint birthmark under Thomas' left ear. 
Time went by and no one worried where Sarah went when she disappeared for hours at a time. Nor did anyone ever notice the large pile of dead leaves placed carefully in the middle of woods next to the river.  
If someone were to notice or take the time to look there and brush some of the leaves away, they would see the faint, white remains of some bones, and entangled within the bones, a small faded piece of fabric.  
The type and color of fabric that one might find in a girl's prayer kapp.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - Just Desserts

A crushing little tale entitled:

Just Desserts

Would the others come for it?

Kara contemplated the stale piece of wedding cake in her hand and wondered.

Perhaps if they knew she had it they would. If someone had seen her take it that night. That was a distinct possibility but then again, most of those people were dead already.

Saturday. Had it been eight days already? Eight days since her wedding? Eight days since she became a widow?

She shook her head. No, she mustn’t think like that. Mason could still be alive, was probably still alive.

She had no proof that he was alive, but she also had no proof that he was gone either. Kara didn't think God could be that cruel.

Kara recalled those first hours after the shaking began and the building around them crumbled. Most of the people had eaten dinner already, the bridal party and the two family tables for sure, maybe even one of the other tables as well. She couldn't be sure now.

The rest of the food from the reception had been carefully rationed out to each person that remained, enough to last several days they thought. They weren't really worried about it lasting any longer than that, they foolishly believed someone would be coming for them long before it was gone.

And there had been sounds that first night into the following day. Denise, her matron-of-honor, thought she heard someone yelling the next evening as well but there had been nothing since.

How bad had the earthquake been? Is it possible rescuers couldn't get to them and had left them all to die a slow death in this dark grave?

Eight days they had been trapped in here and the last piece of wedding cake was sitting in her hand. Probably the last of the food. She could make it last two or three days if she was careful, if no one saw her eating it and took it from her.

Kara heard raised voices coming from the other room, someone was talking about eating the dead again.

She glimpsed at the cake in her hand and smirked. "Let them eat the dead, I'll eat cake."

Marie Antoinette would be proud.

Friday, October 23, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales ~ Easy to Forget

A chilling tale entitled:

Easy to Forget


I just wanted to get away. Just for one night to clear my head.

I had a fight with my husband Hank and I ran out on him. For the first time in eighteen years, I was afraid.

Not afraid of Hank of course, he is a sweetheart, but afraid for our marriage.

I knew the rumors of the Cecil Hotel, living just down the street how could I not, but it was cheap and close and I had been drinking so driving wasn't an option.

I walked the eight blocks, or was it ten? I can't remember now. Things are different here, time is different here.

I didn't hesitate, I walked right into the lobby and checked in without thinking. They asked me for something, I don't remember what now, maybe payment or maybe something else.

Someone keeps knocking at my door but I am afraid to open it. I don't know what they could want, they have already taken everything.

It's Saturday now and I wish I could leave.


I wanted to write all this down so someone would know what happened. Maybe it would help someone else, it cannot help me.

What day is it now? How long have I been here?

It doesn't matter. There was a song about a hotel. Maybe you know it. I think it was about this place.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

I have a husband but I can't remember his name now.  Can you please tell him to come get me?


I wish I could go home but I don't remember where that is.

Why am I here?

Someone is calling me.

I can hear them clearly.

I just need to open the window and step outside.

Tell him I love him.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - First Impressions

Today's tale is entitled:

First Impressions

"Listen to them, the children of the night. What sweet music they make."
Brenda glared up at her latest First Date. "What the hell does that mean?
"That's from Dracula, remember?"
"Yes, of course I remember but what does that have to do with your car not starting? Besides, that was a dog barking, not a wolf howling."
"Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't."
"Shut up, Christopher. I am not going to let you scare me."
"I'm not doing anything. I just wanted to point out that there may or may not be wolves in these woods."
"This is Los Angeles, Chris. Not Montana. And not even Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Just plain old Los Angeles."
"Okay, Brenda, you go on thinking whatever you wish. But I think there is a wolf nearby."
So this is the game he wanted to play? She laughed in spite of his attempts to frighten her. "A wolf in sheep's clothing, more likely."
"Are you talking about me? I can assure you, madam, that my intentions are quite honorable."
Christopher seemed like a sweet guy but honorable? Brenda wasn't quite so sure about that. The way he ogled her sometimes, like she was the main course in a three course meal. And this whole car breaking down routine? Wasn't that just in the movies that men tried that ploy?
Then this ride to “view the beautiful Los Angeles skyline” which did not impress her in the least either. No wonder this guy didn’t date much. Her idea of a good time was a movie and dinner at Tam O’Shanter, not a ride into the wilderness. She decided that from now on she needed to be much more choosy about the men she accepted a date from.
"Okay Sir Christopher. How do you plan on getting us out of this mess? We're in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone coverage and your car won't start. And I’m starving!"
"Never fear Lady Brenda. We shall be dining before you know it. A kiss before I depart?"
Brenda felt more like smacking him than kissing him but she kissed him anyway. Anything to get him moving.

She felt the change begin before she opened her eyes.
His eyes narrowed and darkened as he glared at her.
"Christopher, what is the matter?"
Brenda felt her heart skip inside her chest and she wondered if it could burst from fear. Christopher was gone and in his place, something else.
"What's happening??” she squealed.
Fear gripped her chest as her confused brain tried to rationalize what she was seeing.
A voice she did not recognize came from the mouth of the beast. "I told you my intentions were honorable. You should be quite honored to be my next meal."
Brenda did not have time to scream before dinner was served.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

31 Days of Halloween Tales - Mr. Bubbles

A childish tale of make believe entitled:

Mr. Bubbles

He'll bubble your nose and bubble your chin,
It's so much fun when you hop in with.. Mr. Bubble.

"Why can't you see Mr. Bubbles, Mom?

Beth grinned to herself as she finished tucking in her son for the night. "I don't see him because I am a grown-up and I'm not supposed to see your invisible friends."

Jeffrey wasn't quite sure that was the truth but he wished his mom could see Mr. Bubbles.

Jeffrey played enough of the War of Worlds video game to be able to recognize a supernatural creature when he saw one and he was pretty sure that Mr. Bubbles was in fact, a water goblin.  Either way he wasn't invisible and he most certainly wasn't any friend of his.

Mr. Bubbles lived under the sink in his bathroom and liked to cause trouble.

Bad things had been happening since the appearance of Mr. Bubbles. His parents believed they were just having a run of bad luck but Jeffrey knew better. He tried to tell them about Mr. Bubbles and for a time they even pretended to believe him. Jeffrey knew however, they weren't taking him seriously.

At first Jeffrey tried to ignore Mr. Bubbles and for awhile he managed to do a pretty good job of it. Or at least until their dog Hero suddenly became sick and nearly died.

That was too much even for Jeffrey and he decided it was time to do something, dangerous or not.

That night, after everyone went to bed, Jeffrey snuck a pair of his dad's dirty socks out of the hamper and set the trap.


Beth smiled as she watched her son digging outside in the yard. He was burying an old shoe box out near her flower bed.

"Buried treasure no doubt," she said to her husband. "At least he's outside getting some fresh air instead of playing video games for a change."

Rich watched his son spitting on the mound of dirt and wondered exactly what was in the box his son had buried in their yard.

He thought about the socks he saw in the laundry that morning. They were a light gray, old and faded. He had worn them on Monday he thought and then thrown them in the hamper when he got home that evening. And he was pretty sure they were fine when he tossed them in there.

But this morning when he took the clothes out to the laundry room, he could swear that he could see what looked like several tiny bloody footprints on that same pair of gray socks.

Footprints that didn't look exactly human or exactly animal. Footprints like he had never seen before.

He thought about asking Jeffrey about them and about the box in the yard but as he watched his son spit on the mound again, he decided he probably didn't want to know after all.