the rearview, Seth could
barely make out Palmer’s high cheekbones, his elephant trunk neck, and matted
brow line. Uncle Palmer, a back seat blind-spot, seemed to peer out into the
glassy darkness. Seth felt relieved. After all, it was only a facial outline, a
sketched profile of electricity in the receding lightning. In the sizzle of a
second bolt, there was only a window, washed in aquamarine, as viscous as
Now a junior at Mississippi State,
Starkville, Seth calculated he had only 79 miles.
wasn’t easy growing up a
bull’s eye for his uncle’s fists. It’s the kind of hurt that is nearly impossible
to scar over. His Uncle Palmer was nothing but trouble.
Seth’s father’s tragic
love affair with Crystal M., his mother’s revenge was to elope with his dad’s
shotgun. It fell on Aunt Melissa to finish raising Seth, who was only in
the years, Seth was forced
to sit, in a front-row seat, at Uncle Palmer’s sociopathic circus. There,
he witnessed his uncle’s big tent acts
of violence, debauchery, and pedestrian mayhem. To know Palmer was to bear
Aunt Melissa and Seth,
survival invented a simple plan, Sweet southern tea, and Ethylene Glycol.
Biloxi autopsy: Death from
Hep-C complications, ostensibly from Uncle Palmer’s pension for low brow,
the return of the empty
back seat, Seth’s impish smile returned. Once again he fixed his eyes on the
wet pavement ahead.
could almost taste the hot
cross buns, drowning in ghee, and the bronzed goose-pimpled turkey breast. And
of course, there would be the early morning, sleepy trip to the fridge, and the
finger dip into the heart of the bowl of cold gravy and giblets. This is the season
he relished the most, the ingestion of death— in celebration of his
well-deserved nightmares. It was the one time of year he felt grateful.
over the double yellow
line reminded Seth of when he swerved into the age of thirteen. He’d wanted
whiskers in the worst way. He’d crashed into the beginning of manhood, shaved
his face rare, been told by more than a few ruffians at school, “The more you
do it, the more it grows.” In a running panic for first aid, Seth skidded on
his back, in the sticky blood he’d splattered on the bathroom tile, clear into
the beige carpeted hall. He’d stained his best Sunday shirt. Worse, his mother
sent him to mass that way.
the steering wheel jerked his
car to the left, Seth’s long-dead mother viciously tugged at his right elbow,
just like she did when she jerked him up from the hall carpet. Only, in the
noisy deluge and lightning, he couldn’t see her face. Of no surprise,
since her tragic death, she had none.
was the approaching fire-bolt
that walked toward him on voltaic stilts, and the back-cracking thunder, that
made him nearly slip off the road in the unctuous rain. When Seth looked
sharply to his right in panic, his mother vanished. She’d left him nothing
again, except a sore elbow.
couldn’t believe his
increased heart rate, hell he’d read the best of King and Oyeyemi. He loved a
good scare after all. Now, even the fear in those stories faded, unlike the
pressure and pain in his throbbing forearm.
thought it ironic that all the
passenger seats were not taken. Mockingly he muttered to himself, “If I’m going
to party, I’ll invite them all.”
the black silk sky tore
sheets, Aunt Melissa re-arranged the two place settings. Oh, how she loved her
some Brahms, especially the classic lullabies. There was something about
the Mephistophelian memories they conveyed.
Concerto Number 2 was her
favorite, with its assemblage of Stradivarius violins fluttering their wings
off. It reminded her of when Seth trapped all the Monarch butterflies in
his smothering jar. Somehow the frenzy was calming.
Melissa woke precisely at
3:00 A.M., her face on the table. She was still seated at the formal dining
room table, as Brahms looped in the Bluetooth JBL speaker. The Wi-Fi veins in
her neck pulsed with fear and agitation. Standing straight up, like a Cossack
Russian soldier, she dismissed herself away from the elegant place setting.
Then she was off to the darkening salve of her bedroom. From somewhere very
tired inside, she knew her seasons would never be the same.
I’m Randy. Of course, it was
a coincidence Seth died on my birthday.
rarely been in Seth’s
thoughts; after all, he had a whole family of ghosts to attend.
has been fifteen-odd years
since my accidental drowning at the old Rocklin Quarry. Since then, I’ve had so
much to occupy my time. I almost convinced myself my death was an accident. Bad
memories can live outside you that way. But in time they take on a life all
their own. Eventually they want in.
car was discovered, sunk
in a bog, not far from a rainy sharp curve. It was empty.
the years, Seth’s accident
evolved into folklore, a real who-done-it, with the mystery of his death “too
complicated or too simple to solve,” they’d say. If Seth knew he’d become a
legend, would he have found it pleasingly sardonic?
summer, around campfires along
the Mississippi River, young campers trade true stories. Some claim Seth died
of a heart attack, deep in the woods. Elisa likes the ending where Seth’s
bowels were removed, with the precision of Edward Scissor Hand’s. But of
course, Jimmy is absolutely sure, “When they opened his mouth, quarry grass,
mud and moss was shoved down his throat.”
these true stories, of
course, guarantee new campers next summer, and all the summers that
A. Cardoza’s poetry, nonfiction, and fiction have met
international acceptance. He has an M.S. degree in education from C.S.U.S. Most
recently his work has been featured in Black Petals, Brave Voices,
Dissections, Cabinet of Heed, Cleaver, Coffin Bell/2019
Anthology, Dime Show Review, Entropy, Gravel, Liquid
Imagination, New Flash Fiction Review, Poached Hare, Spelk,
Thrice, and Vamp Cat.
Darren Blanch, Aussie creator of
visions which tell you a tale long after first glimpses have teased your
peepers. With early influence from America's Norman Rockwell to show life as
life, Blanch has branched out mere art form to impact multi-dimensions of color
and connotation. People as people, emotions speaking their greater glory.
Visual illusions expanding the ways and means of any story.
Digital arts mastery provides what Darren
wishes a reader or viewer to take away in how their own minds are moved. His
evocative stylistics are an ongoing process which sync intrinsically to the
expression of the nearby written or implied word he has been called upon to
View the vivid energy of IVSMA (Darren Blanch)
works at: www.facebook.com/ivsma3Dart,
YELLOW MAMA, Sympatico Studio - www.facebook.com/SympaticoStudio,
DeviantArt - www.deviantart.com/ivsma
and launching in 2019, as Art Director for suspense author /
intrigue promoter Kate Pilarcik's line of books and publishing promotion -
SeaHaven Intrigue Publishing-Promotion.