Canned Green Beans

Canned Green Beans

I don’t much like sleep. Every night I spend hours awake in bed, dicking around with my cheap laptop on message boards and chatting up old acquaintances on IM. Of course, my friends, well, they do like sleep. The first one usually logs off around midnight. The second is gone by one. Within an hour or so, the chat boxes go blank, everyone idle or disconnected. And I dread that moment. I don’t want to be alone, with him.

See, my dad died when I was real young, too young for me to have many memories of him. I don’t know what kind of guy he was. Hell, I don’t even remember how he died. I was too little, and mom doesn’t like to talk about it. The one thing I do know is that he loved to eat green beans. Seems like mom’s always heating up a pan of the stuff. And she’s always sighing, over the nasal whirr of the automatic can opener, that a can of green beans was all it took to make dad happy.

I don’t care for them myself. Dunno, I may have liked them once. I mean, you’d probably learn to hate filet mignon if you had to eat it at every other fucking meal. I always groan at the table when she sets down that steaming bowl, always wrinkle my nose at the earthy aroma.

Then her eyes shoot downward, and she starts to sniffle. So I relent. I even grab another helping after I manage to get the first one down. Makes her smile like nothing else. I try not to gag on the split-end threads as they congeal in my throat, but it’s tough. If I swallow forkfuls down like a pill, without chewing, it makes it easier. Sometimes they don’t go down the whole way, and I have to swallow again, quick, before I take my next breath. I always make it to the bathroom before I puke. I look into the mirror, my face straining as it all fountains out. It doesn’t even bother me anymore. It’s the same as pissing or shitting: just some normal, somewhat pleasant, intimate bodily function. But what does this have to do with why I don’t like to sleep? You’ll have to excuse me. I’m a bit tired and my mind tends to wander.

When I do fall asleep, I go into the same continuous dream I’ve had for the past fifteen years. The only dream I’ve had for the past fifteen years. I’m still in my bed, my room mostly unchanged from the one I fell asleep in. The only difference is the thin line of light underlining the base of my closet door. Thing is, my closet doesn’t have a light in it. It’s pretty small, and the clothes and hangers within can easily be seen by the glow of my bedroom lamp. But the closet’s always lit up in my dream.

At this point, I can either go to the closet door, or I can sneak past to the kitchen. If I try to do anything else, I wake up. And I’m not sure exactly how it works, but if I’m too loud in my dream, mom and my sister Jenny wake up.

Sometimes it wakes him up too. He starts moaning, but my family can’t seem to hear him. I sure as hell do. Sometimes, he screams. It really pisses me off when he screams.

So I walk quiet, ball-heel, out to the kitchen. I grab a can of green beans and one of those hand-crank can openers. I get the lid off the can and plop the beans in a bowl. Then I grab a spoon and a pile of napkins with one hand, the bowl with my other, and head back to the room.

Each movement through the hallway is completely controlled, and I usually get back to my room without anything happening. Sometimes, I get the scream. It startles me, and I drop the bowl or knock it against the wall. God I hate waking mom and Jenny up. If they wake up, I wake up. I’m a very light sleeper. And when I fall asleep again, the dream just resumes at the spot where it left off. Makes it tough to get back to sleep, knowing that the scream is there, waiting.

Sometimes, I’ll tap on the closet door before I go into the hallway. Then he shouts and cries the whole time I’m gone. It’s annoying, but that way I’m not startled when I creep back from the kitchen.

I juggle the bowl, the spoon, and the napkins as I reenter the room. Then I shut my big plank of a door, speeding and slowing it at just the right moments to minimize creaks. After that, it’s just a few steps to the closet. My room isn’t very big.

Every night I open the closet door and every night he’s still there, all shackled up. The ceiling is draped with thick chains that drop down onto manacles encircling his wrists. Another set of chains snakes up out of the ground, constricting his legs and strapping him down to the metal stool he sits on. His arms rise upward, permanently in a champion’s celebratory pose. When he catches sight of me, the drool starts to gather around the edges of his haggard pioneer’s beard, and his good eye goes wide.

He can’t move, so I have to feed him. He seems to appreciate it, though he can’t say anything. He hasn’t had his tongue for a long time now. His eye, well, I can’t remember when he lost that. It’s hard to remember every little detail of a dream.

Feeding him takes time. His missing tongue makes chewing difficult, and he can’t swallow food like a pill, the way I can. I only give him one or two pieces at a time. I drape the beans across his back molars, and he chews them with small movements of his jaw. I can’t give him too much too quick. It takes a while, so I tell him about my day, my dreams, the news, whatever. He seems to be interested, but I can’t tell for sure. At least he doesn’t scream when I’m in there.

Sometimes, he throws up. Even when I just put one strand carefully in the side of his mouth. Even when he chews it fifty-seven times first to fully savor that godawful flavor. Fuck him. I sacrifice my sleep for this sack of shit. I don’t even get a goddamn choice in the matter. Do you know what it’s like, to have to feed your dead dad food that makes you retch on sight? And to do that for hours, every night? Sometimes, if he’s taking too long, I wolf down the beans right there in front of him, puke it up in the bowl, and force him to drink that down. I’ve even vomited it straight into his mouth when he’s pushed me too far. If he throws it up again, I catch it in the bowl, then hold it to his face until he finishes. I gag the whole time, but at least that way it’s over quick.

Once the feeding is over, I pat him down with the napkins. Then I talk with him a bit longer, try to stay with him until he falls asleep. When that’s done, I open the door and start my day.

I bet you’re wondering why I cut it off. It was in the dream where he confessed he’d always hated green beans. Fucker went on to say that the only reason he’d ever made a fuss over them was to make mom smile. I got so pissed, I grabbed the steak knife I’d brought in with his dinner and carved that waggling tongue right out of the bastard’s mouth. How dare he leave us with that lie, when she only ever cooked them to make him smile? He had his chance to tell the truth, and he wasted it.

That’s why I decided he’d eat nothing but green beans every night, until he’d learned his lesson. He still hasn’t. I can tell. Fucking prick.

——————————————————

Between the misfortunes and the crunch time of the lit mag and my collecting/selling “job thing,” I haven’t had time for much else. Except Bloodborne, which is very likely the greatest game I’ve encountered in my nearly thirty years of controller lobbing.

So I’m going to spam some older work until I get my blogging in order.

This first piece of spam might not be the tastiest, but it has a place in my heart nonetheless.

I wrote it a few years back after housesitting for a relative when he went out of town. During that time, I was not allowed to have anyone over, so it was just me and a few of his pet things.

One of those pet things was a half-dead lizard that lived in a closet on a towel under a heat lamp. Each day I force fed the thing spoons of goop from a Gerber jar in addition to little worms I would have to squish until they died and was supposed to shove in its mouth and force it to swallow with strategic throat and belly rubs.

I hated every minute of it. Of course, I can only imagine how if felt like for the poor lizard thing.

I channeled the experience into a side story for a novel I was writing at the time which I’m terrified to go back to. That world, a kind of alternative universe, has been a kind of home for many of my more horrorish/paranormal short stories.

It also ended up being my first attempt at a Creepypasta kind of thing. I’m not sure if it’s 1spooky, let alone 2, but whatever.

-Bearshaman

Laura’s Woods

They were her father’s woods by day, but at night, they were Laura’s woods.

In the darkness, she could just make out the smoky shapes which twisted in her vision’s corners. She called them shadow’s shadows, and they waved her onward down the path.

The every movement of her legs was deliberate, brought about by a fierce concentration in her mind. Her body had stopped being capable of quiet, instant response to unthought commands some time ago. She felt truly awake, truly alive—and so did the oaks.

By day she would sometimes look up from this very spot and see unearthly trees above her, floating in languid suspension across oceanic sky. By night, their scabby limbs writhed in activity, restless under the pagan stars.

And they spoke to her, in violin tones of suggestion. They didn’t speak outright, through the mouth, the way a human spoke. Instead, their music swelled up in her mind, inspiring distinct and separate thoughts which she identified as originating in the oaks.

More walk.

The air at night just made sense. It discarded harshness and hung calmly in the air, a pond unrippled by the rocks of a waking humanity. Her toes rubbed themselves, the forest debris that had gathered between them squelching. She closed her eyes, sinking into that cool pond of air, letting it cover her up.

She sighed and stepped forward carefully, again and again, up until the moment the violin strings began to snap across her mind.

No good. No good. No good. Over and over, a hundred voices in her head. There was something else, something in her forest. Her secret shattered.

She caught sight of movement in the distance. Something was coming towards her. The trees seemed to bend away in a circle around it as it came down the path.

She turned around to run, to run away from whatever had come to get her. And though she didn’t want to, didn’t mean to, she ended up catching a glimpse of it out of the corner of her eye as it came around the bend, something barely visible the moment before her head turned away.

It was something human, only too skinny and too pale. Something that looked as if it were dragging itself towards her on stilt legs.

Laura ran away, she ran and she ran and she prayed to whatever God had created her forest, prayed for it to save her from the thing.

When the something grabbed her shoulder, Laura stopped, but did not turn around. She waited quietly, shaking, shrinking away when it placed another hand on her other shoulder.

“Laura, turn around.”

She didn’t want to.

“Goddammit, Laura. What the hell are you doing out here? Trying to give your mother and I a pair of heart attacks for our anniversary?”

“No. I’m sorry.”

“Laura, why are you out here? Turn around. Now!”

She didn’t want to, but she did, though she never looked him directly in the eyes. “Dad, I’m sorry. The trees, they told me to come.”

“Laura, we both know trees can’t talk.” His tone softened. “Honey, how many Ambien did you take tonight?”

“One. And then it didn’t work, so five more.”

“You can’t do this, Laura. You just can’t do this.”

“I’m sorry! The Adderall makes me stay up, and the Ambien is the only thing—”

“I know baby, but you can’t—”

“Shut up!”

“You cannot come out here anymore, Laura! You are not allowed, not if this is what’s going to happen.”

“No!”

“From now on, you are going to stay inside the house.”

“You’re not my dad!”

“Not this again. Laura, I am your father.”

“You’re not my fucking father!”

“Okay, then what am I, Laura?” The thing with her father’s face canted its head, smiling. “If I’m not your father, then what am I?”

She didn’t want to say.

—————————————————————–
Been busy but I wanted to post something on the blog so I dug this up from a year or two back.

Honestly cannot wait for this semester to be over.

Forest With No Trees (Writing Exercise)

In the hills outside of town there is a forest with no trees. Since the last fire, the shrubs took over. Manzanita, mostly. It’s impenetrable terrain, unless you’ve got a chainsaw or a big machete and a strong arm. People hear strange noises there. Probably pigs. The wild ones get big and mean. That’s probably why they find bodies out there too. Pigs will eat everything, even bones, fingerprints, and anything that might get matched against dental records.

Everyone in town knew all about the forest with no trees. Jim did. What Jim didn’t know was why he was holding a severed leg in his hand. It didn’t make sense. Also didn’t make sense that he couldn’t stand up, break free of the twisting bark that seemed to bury him no matter which way he turned.

Only, the shoe on that leg looked too familiar. Oh, that made sense. Why he couldn’t stand up. Why it hurt more around his right knee than everywhere else.

Jim clubbed at the branches enclosing him with his own severed leg. Throughout the sympathetic ghost pains and the gritting of the teeth he kept a rhythm. Thwak. Thwak-thwak. An hour or so later his leg no longer looked so familiar. But Jim was free.

Jim threw himself at the top of the manzanita. It didn’t break, and he rolled atop it for a moment. Every jab and every poke felt more like freedom than his own destruction. Or so he told himself.

But Jim was not alone. There was something else in the forest with no trees. Something moving towards him. Something that seemed darker than the rest of the night, visible but invisible.

“If I were you, I’d scream.”

—–

The writing prompt was to spend a few minutes describing each of the following in the order posted below:

-A setting
-A character in the setting
-The character leaving the setting
-The character encountering someone else
-One piece of dialogue.

Talkin’ ‘Bout B’barns (Writing Exercise)

The Man in Black (The Bad)

The word dilapidated can only be fully expressed when applied to a worn-out old shell of a barn—like the hovel just off the side of I-80 a quarter mile up past Cherry Glen. That barn has more holes than timber for walls now, but in some forgotten past, livestock and freshly harvested foodstuffs must have been safely stored inside. A far cry from the few oversized splinters that remain. With all traces of goodness and color washed out ages ago, what is left is the color gray—all fifty glorious shades. No need to get the Big Bad Wolf—this tinder pile’s bound to blow down any day now, under the slightest huff and puff from Mother Nature. This barn, this practically-begging-for-a-demolition pile-of-sticks, is the especially gossipy type, spreading rumors about the things buried deep down underneath, and has managed to collect a colorful variety of nicknames such as “Zodiac Shack” and “Body Barn.” So when the local news anchor mentions that a corpse has been found in an old shanty on the outskirts of town, this hovel is the default mental picture. And a good half the time, that mental picture lines up perfectly with the real picture as well.

Eastwood Style (The Good)

But this barn is also the first piece of shelter runaways stop at after fleeing home—the cops find the lost kids there every time. And the Zodiac Shack is the séance capitol of the tri-county area—a real Winchester mystery hovel—just perfect for tourists on a budget. The thing practically reeks of old country charm; new barns are pretty much like new housing tracts, all looking and feeling the same. But a piece of history like this barn can only grow more unique as the days go by. Sometimes less is more, and what’s more minimalistic than a run-down former barn structure off the side of the freeway? Sure, no horses or pigs or piles of hay have sought shelter inside for half a century, but there is still refuge to be provided. When an owl screeches outside of a house in town at midnight, the hatchlings chirp back from up in the time-tested rafters of the barn just outside of town. And more than one deer has birthed a fawn under those same rafters, which half obscure a perfect golden moon.

—-

The prompt was to write about a barn: once in a positive manner, and once in a negative manner, without using pronouns.