Black Petals Issue #72 Summer, 2015

The Beach House

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Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Brutal-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Chaos in Corollary-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
In Dreams, There Is No Time-Fiction by George Gad Economou
Nuncapisco-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Ocean Life-Fiction by Lael Braday
Onward Traveler-Fiction by Kathleen Wolak
The Beach House-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Weeping Man-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Poetry & Prose by Alexis Child
Poetry by John Frazee
Poetry by Denny Marshall
Poetry by Jeffrey Park
Poetry by Dr. Mel Waldman

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The Beach House

By Roy Dorman

Friend or foe?

 

 

     Stan Albright is enjoying a glass of white wine with a woman who had been married to a friend of his from high school. Stan could be that friend. Actually, the woman, Alicia Goodman, could be that friend. Lately, Stan feels like he needs a scorecard to keep track of things.

     They’re sitting on the veranda of a little beach shanty on the Dutch side of the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean. The weather is beautiful (and always beautiful according to Alicia), as cruise ships enter and leave the main port, Philipsburg, with their cargoes of mostly American vacationers.

     “So, how long were you and Bobby married?” asked Stan.

     “Well, you were in the wedding, so you remember that summer right after we graduated from college, right?” said Alicia.

     “Yeah, that’s actually the last summer I remember. Could be because that was the last summer I had; I think I died that summer,” said Stan.

     “Geez, Stan, you ‘think you died that that summer’! How exactly do I respond to that?”

     “You don’t have to respond to it at all; I just asked how long you and Bobby were married,” said Stan.

     “We were married for six years and then he went missing,” said Alicia. “That was eight months ago.  It was not long after his parents died. He was an only child, they were rich, and we—I mean he—inherited a bundle. We could have easily lived happily ever after, but then he had to go and get hooked up in some shady business investment. ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,’ is what I told him. Bobby told me that the less I knew about the whole thing, the better. There were a lot of late night, as well as out-of-town, meetings. The last of those were down here in the Caribbean. That’s why I’m here—in case Bobby needs me. I think that the deal he was involved in had to do with diamonds and St. Thomas.”

     “Why not be on St. Thomas, then,” asked Stan.

     “I want to be close, but not that close,” said Alicia. “I think Bobby’s business partners might have killed him. If I’m on St. Thomas, they might think that I know more than I do.”

 

     Stan Albright didn’t like coincidences. In fact, he had come recently to believe that while there certainly could be the occasional coincidence, they were not to be trusted at this point in his life. Anything that even smelled like a coincidence brought his hackles up in a hurry. Just running into an old acquaintance was enough to set him on edge. Alicia just happening to be on the beach he was running on screamed coincidence to him. 

     A few hours ago, he had been in an alley in New York City shooting his way out of a situation he still didn’t know a lot about. Through some marvel of weird science, he had been his long lost father, a small-time thug, and had once again been ambushed by some representatives of a horror story power that wanted to capture him for some diabolical purpose known only to them. 

     So now, here he was, a thirty-something Stan Albright talking to the wife, possibly the widow, of an old school chum. He was on the island of St. Martin, 1700 miles from New York City, with no idea how he got here. He had left the alley in New York City on a dead run to avoid the cops, and, just like that, was running on a beach and saw Alicia waving to him from the veranda. That’s number two of Stan’s recently acquired super powers. (At least he thinks all of this is recent.) He can get from one place to another in the blink of an eye.

     Stan’s memory of his life history is very sketchy. It’s sort of like some elderly folks who have dementia; they can tell you all about a birthday party that they were at when they were twelve, tick off the names of all the kids who were there, but can’t remember their own kids’ names.

     The good news is that he thinks that there is a power on his side in this whole mystery. Sometimes when he’s been a little slow to respond to the danger he’s in, a voice in his head, not his own, will yell “Run!” Running seems to be the key to his ability to travel distances instantaneously. That he has been someone else entirely when he gets to the end of the run seems like it should be impossible.

 

     Sitting here right now with Alicia, Stan didn’t feel like running. He felt that he needed the recovery period. Episodes like the New York City thing drained him physically and emotionally. The sun was a big orange ball at the waterline, just minutes from setting. Alicia was just as beautiful here today as she had been in college. However, he found himself watching her facial expressions as she talked to pick up anything that wasn’t quite right. So far, she was just what she seemed to be—an old friend from his “real” past. 

     He saw her gaze move from him to the sunset and then to the beach thirty or forty yards from the shanty. He thought he caught a look of expectation covered quickly by an overly wide smile.

     “Want to go inside and have a salad or something? I don’t have a lot in the fridge because I usually walk up the beach to one of the little restaurants when I’m hungry,” she said. “But I do have the stuff to make a nice chef’s salad.”

     “Sounds good,” said Stan, following her inside.

     Later that night, the shanty was quiet as Stan lay on the couch unable to sleep. Alicia was in the shanty’s only bedroom, since he had insisted that the couch would be good enough for him. She had not behaved suggestively toward him and he was glad of that. His life was complex enough without adding a sexual relationship to it. He got up a couple of times and looked at the beach out of the small picture window in the living room. The waves rolled in and out as they had been doing for millions of years, which should have had a soothing effect on him. Instead, he watched each wave come in with the expectation that something nasty might roll in with it.

     About midnight, still awake, a voice that was not his own spoke to him inside his head. “You will have to run soon, Stan, but maybe not for a day or two. Since the woman is asleep, we’ll use this time to talk. She is who she says she is, but she has been influenced by those who want you. She may be able to overcome their conditioning and be of help to you…to us...or maybe not. We know that you wouldn’t want to kill her, but you may have to. You wonder why you are being pursued by these others. You are important to them because you are the only one in this dimension who has ever had the abilities that you have.”

     “But who are they, and just as importantly, who are you?’ asked Stan. “Why should I trust you? I know they’re out to capture me, and I know that they want to take me alive, but what’s your interest in me?”

     “You want to know if we’re the “good guys” and they’re the “bad guys,” right? Well, I’m the one who’s given you a nudge when you needed it before one of those monstrosities could grab you. Am I right?”

     “I’ll give you that. In both of the instances that I remember, their representatives were pretty ugly,” said Stan. “So what do I call you, anyhow? Voice-In-My-Head?”

     “Voice will do for now.”

     “So they’re ugly and want to use me. Now, back to my original question: who are you?”

     “Well,” said Voice, “we are beings who are against what those others stand for, and they oppose us. Think of it like your Yankees and Red Sox fans, only on a much larger scale. We are living in another dimension, parallel to yours, and can make short visits here when necessary. I’ve been here quite often. That’s how I know about the Yankees and the Red Sox. A lot of your unexplained phenomena throughout history have probably been due to a visit from us or them. With a lot of practice, we both have become pretty good at tidying up after something goes awry.”

     “But that still doesn’t tell me why they want me?” said Stan. What can I do for—?”

     “The woman is waking. I must leave. Even though she cannot see or hear me, the others could sense me through her. You may not have that day or two I mentioned earlier.”

     “Stan, are you awake?” asked Alicia.

     “Yeah, but I was just starting to drift off; see ya in the morning.”

     Alicia walked into the living room carrying a large revolver. “I need to talk to you about something and it’s very important.”

     Just as she finished speaking, there was a hurried scratching noise from outside on the wooden porch. With an explosive force, the front door was ripped off its hinges and a creature with a face that only a mother could love burst into the living room. Easily seven feet tall, it was built to cause a lot of trouble. Following the first intruder was one of the skittering things that had attacked Stan in New York. They attacked in silence except for the skittering noise the smaller one made on the polished pine floor. Alicia raised the pistol and managed to shoot each one twice before they overpowered her. Stan was up in a hurry and clubbed them both over the area that passed for their heads with a fireplace poker until they both appeared to be dead. His aggressive pounding had splashed their sticky amber blood all over Alicia.

     “Yuck! Get ‘em off me, Stan. That sticky shit is fucking awful!” yelled Alicia.

     “Alicia, how did you know that they were coming?” asked Stan, pulling the dead beings from her. “Are you one of them?”

     “No, I’m not, Stan. They did something to me and arranged for me to be here when you got to St. Martin from New York, but with John’s help I managed to shake off the spell they had over me.”

     “How did you know about New York?” asked Stan. “Wait a minute; John, like in ‘John Doe.’”

     “John was just here a few minutes ago and warned me that those others knew you were here,” said Alicia. “I have no idea how he got here, but I do know that John and I are playing for the Yankees now, Stan.”

     Stan now knew a little more, but still felt that he was acting in a B-Movie without a script. Alicia was in the shower washing off the monster juice. Ichor, thought Stan. Monsters have ichor for blood.  

     He was deciding what, if anything, he should do with the two corpses. He didn’t have to wonder long. While he was looking at them they began to self-combust and give off a thick, acrid smoke, just like the one in New York City. 

     Stan hadn’t waited around long enough in New York City to see if they traveled in pairs, but now he knew that they did cooperate. He felt it would be wise if he didn’t wait this time to see if these two had additional back-up. He did think, however, that how many at a time might be sent to get him would be helpful information to have. Also, he really didn’t want to leave Alicia here alone. But it was him they were after, and a heightened sense of self-preservation told him he should leave. Apparently John had escaped in New York City; he could only hope that Alicia would escape too. He’d like to see more of her.

     He left the shanty on a dead run and soon found himself slowly jogging down what appeared to be a hospital corridor, dressed in a hospital gown complete with disposable slippers. While running, he had toyed with the idea of allowing himself to be captured sometime soon to find out more about what the others were all about.    

     He slowed to a walk, turned a corner, and entered a room. Stan felt like he was a hundred years old. There was a man who looked to be about seventy sitting on one of the beds.

     “When’s lunch around here? I’m starvin’,” the man asked Stan.

     “Oh, they’ll be around to us in a bit…usually about 12:15. So, what ya in for?”

     “I fell on my basement stairs and broke my hip. I was all the way down to the second-to-last step. Bad luck, I guess. At our age, a broken hip is a big deal, practically a death sentence. They say I’ll be here a month before I can go home. At least Medicare picks up the tab.”

     “I’ll be here that long, too. I guess we’re roommates ‘til one of us gets sprung. I’m Stan Albright, by the way.”

     “Nice to meetcha, Stan, I’m George Sanders.”

     “I went to school with a George Sanders back in the day. It was at Vilas Elementary in Madison, Wisconsin. I was there for the first four grades, until my family moved to Chicago.”

     “Now that’s really odd; I went to Vilas, too, but I don’t remember a Stan Albright. Hey, here’s lunch.”

     “How about ‘Hey, Stanny Notbright’? That mean anything to ya?”

     “No, I don’t think …hey that’s my burger! Whaddaya think yer doin’?”

     “How about ‘Tell anybody and you’ll be sorry.’ That mean anything to ya, George?”

     Stan knew he’d have to be on guard for this additional coincidence but figured a hospital would be a good place for his necessary recovery period. One question nagged at him. Who the hell was he this time?

 

The End (?)






Roy Dorman, roydorman@yahoo.com, who wrote BP #72’s “The Beach House” (+ BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites,” BP #70’s “Borrowing Some Love,” and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good Help…”), is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Burningword Literary Journal, Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Lake City Lights (an online literary site at which he is now submissions editor), Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun Honey, Theme of Absence, The Screech Owl, & Yellow Mama.




 

 


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