Black Petals Issue #89 Autumn, 2019

Grandad's Legacy
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Mars-Chris Friend
BP Artists and Illustrators
A Tale of the Dark Web-Fiction by Blair Frison
Drop, Pt. 2: Help Thy Neighbor-Fiction by Michael Mulvihill
Gas Stop-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Grandad's Legacy-Fiction by Jan Cronos
Hive-Fiction by Dan Cardoza
My Nighttime Parents-Fiction by Malik Mandeville
Orphans at the Dark Door-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The News that Night-Fiction by June Driver
The Raft-Fiction by Stephen Caesar
The Voice from the Dark-Fiction by Scott Kimak
Dear Pneumonia-Two poems by Michael Mulvihill
The Well-Poem by Jason Rice

bp89grandads_legacy_h_lyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2019

Granddad’s Legacy


By Jan Cronos

A gambler’s bargain 

 

 

“Stop draggin’ the child out at night. You’re poisoning his mind.”

Grandfather’s eyes were vacant ovals. “Boy’s getting big, aren’t you, sonny?”

The small boy stretched up straight and tall. “Sure am, Gramps.”

 “He needs to be around a man.” Grandfather shook his fist and his gold ring glinted hard and cold.

“You still blame me for Don’s death, don’t you?”

Grandfather bared his teeth like fangs. “You sucked the life from my son. You drew the manhood right out of him.”

She covered the boy’s ears. “I bore him a child. You crippled him.”

“I want to go with Gramps.” The boy pulled away from his mother and took Grandfather’s hand. His green eyes were almost black in a bright pink face.

“Child, please.”

“No. I hate you!”

Grandfather tousled the boy’s wavy hair. “He’s got his own mind like his Gramps.”

Mother wrung her hands. The nails were chipped and dry. “I don’t want you dragging him to those horrible places. You best take care of him, old man.”

Grandfather clucked. “Sure will, right, sonny? You’re no Momma’s boy, are you?”

The boy stuck his tongue out at his mother. She flushed as he and Grandfather strolled from the house. Soon the old man and the boy headed towards the parkway.

 

The stars were faint, timid eye blinks in utter blackness. Hazy halogen lamps hung from steel pillars. Cars roared by, their swollen headlights scaring shadows that fled like wraiths. The old bench was worn, an isolated cripple surrounded by stocky wooden companions who’d yet to feel the acid rain.

“Can’t we sit on the new benches, Gramps? This one smells funny.”

Grandfather chuckled. “I’ve known this bench a long time. It’s old, but so am I.”

Under baggy clothes, Grandpa’s flesh hung loosely, as if vital fluid was drained by Time’s vampirism. His glazed eye sockets glimmered.

“What happened to Dad,” the boy asked, “did Mommy hurt him?”

 “Not now, boy.” Waving his hands, Grandfather muttered strange words the boy couldn’t understand. “Hold my hand tight. Take-off’s a little rugged, but you can take it.”

There was a rumbling noise as the bench jolted, then lifted into the air. An icy wind froze the boy’s cheeks. “I’m afraid.” He squeezed Grandfather’s hand as his guts churned. The world around them blurred. Time stopped. With a jolt, the bench landed.

“No worries. I’m here. Now, quick boy, tell me what you see,” Grandfather ordered.

The darkness receded gradually. “There’s lots of people only they…”

“Tell me.”

“They’re…not people…exactly.” He shivered. “Gramps, I don’t like it here.”

“What are they doing, boy?”

“Sitting around a table.”

 “Has it got green felt?”

“Yeah.”

“Plastic chips too?”

“I think so.”

“Ah, now we’re talking.” Grandfather rubbed his hands together. “Take me there, sonny.”

The boy took his hand and led Grandfather. His small hand was icy in the older man’s warm one. At the table, a fat, gray-faced man with skeletal fingers was dealing cards.

“Where you been, old man?” He wet his bony finger with a shellacked tongue and continued dealing. “That your boy?”

Grandfather shook his head. “My grandson. Son’s dead.”

“Right. Call.” The man threw a few red chips onto the table.

“I’m out.”

“Me too.”

Two specters rose and left.

“What are they playing, Gramps?”

“It’s called Galactic Hold ‘Em.”

“Sit down, sit down!”

The boy and his Grandfather sat down and a waitress came over. She wore a tank top with three cups and her two noses were both pierced. An upside down cross dangled from her pierced chin. She placed a glass in front of Grandfather and thrust her spongy crimson lips against his ear.

“This one’s on the house, old man.” Her voice rattled.

“I’m blind, not deaf,” Grandfather retorted, grasping and fondling her with spindly fingers. “Nice. None for the boy—he’s still too young.”

“Then what did you bring him for,” she muttered, striding off in a huff.

“Deal me in,” Grandfather urged.

“You’ve got enough for the buy-in?”

“You betcha,” replied Grandfather, taking off his gold ring and tossing it down. He patted the boy on the head. “It was your Father’s. I give it to him; took it back when he passed. And I plan to win big.” He patted the boy’s head and grinned. “He’s my lucky charm.”

The boy glowed at these words and leaned against his grandfather.

The waitress returned and placed a huge pile of red chips in front of the old man, whose face lit up as he fingered the smooth plastic.

“Read the cards to me, boy, read ‘em quick,” Grandfather whispered, “but whisper so they can’t hear.” His hand gripped the boy’s arm so hard the boy yelped.

“Sorry, boy,” he said, “but I need you.”

“I love you, Gramps,” said the boy, after he whispered the names of the cards.

“Ten thousand,” the gray-faced man muttered, tossing a handful of red chips onto the table.

“I’ll see ya,” Grandfather said, “and raise ya five.” The old man squealed with glee. He won the first pot and the second. But, after an hour, Grandfather had no chips left.

“You’re short,” growled the gray faced man, “ante up.”

“Wait,” Grandfather yelled as a serrated murkiness surrounded him.

“Leave my Gramps alone,” the boy screamed.

The shade shimmied around Grandfather. “He has no eyes,” it wailed.

The gray-faced man jabbed a finger.

Silent smokiness enveloped the boy’s face. With a thud, two round green objects fell from his sockets and rolled onto the felt. The boy cried out and fainted.

“No!” Grandfather yelled. “Please! That’s my grandson. Give me a chance to win ‘em back. Double or nothing.” Grandfather’s lips were tight and his hands trembled.

“Okay, but we take his soul and your damn ears too if you lose.” The ghoul laughed.

Grandfather nodded.

“I’ll read the cards for you,” the waitress offered.

“Thanks.” He rubbed her bare arm. “Bring me luck.”

“I’ll try,” she said, jiggling her jugs. “But you can never beat the house.”

The gray-faced man shuffled and dealt.  

The waitress spoke softly in Grandfather’s ear. His nose twitched.

“What you got,” Grandfather demanded.

“Four aces.” The gray-faced man smirked.  “Now gimme those ears.”

“I got you beat, alien demon,” Grandpa retorted. “Straight flush.”

The gray-faced man slammed his fist down. “Crap. Give back the damn eyes.”

With a sigh, the old man gently carried his unconscious grandson to the bench. When they landed back home, he carted his grandson into the house.          

“What did you do?” exclaimed the boy’s mother.

“Sorry,” the old man mumbled, as she stared at her little boy in horror.

Grandfather blinked. His new eyes shone like emeralds.

The End

 

Jan Cronos, mindgrin@gmail.com, who wrote BP #89’s “Grandad’s Legacy,” writes in the NYC metropolitan area. Genres include science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Formats range from flash fiction to kindle novellas.

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