And I Watered It, With Tears was originally published in serial format in Lamplight Magazine, 2012-2013.
“The Time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things.”— Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found ThereLewis Carroll“The Thing, they whisper, wears a silken mask Of yellow, whose queer folds appear to hide A face not of this earth, though none dares ask just what those features are, which bulge inside.”— H. P. Lovecraft
ARCANE DELIGHTSMain StreetClifton HeightsSeptember 15th, FridayIt’s two in the afternoon when Cassie Tillman emerges from the store’s back room, wiping her hands and saying, “That’s it, boss. Sorted through all the recent donations except the box on your desk. Anything else? If not, I’m calling it quits. Got the graveyard shift at the Home tonight and the evening shift at The ‘Lark tomorrow.”I look up from sorting tax-deduction forms at the front counter and smile. Boss. Cassie’s only worked here for two weeks, but she’s already tossing around ‘boss’ casually. Hell, she acts as if she’s in charge, half the time.Which, of course, is one of the reasons I hired her on the spot when she inquired about my ‘Help Wanted’ sign a month ago. Her confidence radiates from her like ambient energy. She’s at ease in her own skin, content to be herself, uncaring of what others think of her . . . yet, she has class. She’s polite, friendly and respectful. Maybe a little sarcastic, but she to
SUFFER THE CHILDREN COME UNTO ME1.He shields his eyes with his careworn Bible as he approaches a sandstone hovel on the village’s outskirts. The sun’s rays are bouncing off the hovel’s tin roof, casting a harsh glare that stings his eyes. He pushes on however, despite the sun and the cold unease souring his guts.He wants to run away. He knows he should, on some primal level. But he can’t. He’s come here so many times, and no matter how hard he tries not to, he knows he’ll come here again.Because this is where everything changed.This is where he learned True Evil exists. It’s also where his faith was exposed for a lie.As he approaches the hovel’s rectangular entrance, a darkness oozes toward him like a viscous black slime. Cold air wafts from the doorway, rippling across his skin, smelling of death and rotting things.He steps closer, muttering prayers which sound like meaningless gibberish, clutching his rosary tight. He hears the screams. The thrashing body. He hears prof
YELLOW CABMost kids grow up being afraid of the dark, or of spiders and snakes or of the monster hiding under their bed. When they get a little older they’re afraid of not fitting in, or zits, or they have nightmares of standing naked in front of gym class because they forgot to get dressed before leaving the locker-room.Me?Far back as I can remember the only thing I ever feared was letting my parents down. Failing. Not being able to handle things like they’d trained me to. Disappointing them by being a nobody.Well.If they could only see me now.I drive a taxi, which I guess probably doesn’t meet their original expectations. But I’m somebody. I get things done. There’s that, at least. I like to tell myself they’d be a little proud. After all the time and effort they invested in me, I’m the type of person who handles things.And on some nights? It helps me sleep.Some nights.***I don’t think anyone counts hitting bottom as one of their future goals. Driving a taxi in a
ADMIT ONEBobby Maskel’s socket wrench slipped off the bolt he’d been trying to loosen for the past twenty minutes. His knuckles slammed against metal. Pain flashed across his hand. He cursed, barely stopping himself from tossing the wrench against the wall, remembering at the last second Mr. Greene’s lectures about “respecting the workplace and the tools with which we make our living.”“Living my ass,” Bobby mumbled as he clenched his hand into a fist, examining the damage. “Only one making a living off this shit is Greene and his dumb-ass son.”After a brief inspection, it was clear he’d done nothing worse than scrape his knuckles. It stung all the same. Still pissed but calmer, Bobby regarded the dismembered snow-blower on the work bench, glaring as if he could lay the blame for his life’s misfortunes on its engine block and chassis.He was working ‘The Pit’ this month. He hated working The Pit. Greene’s Metal Salvage accepted all kinds of scrap metal and paid competitive rates.
AND I WATERED IT, WITH TEARS1.He sits in his idling truck, staring into the rain-streaked night, feeling the engine’s throb in the seats. Rain hisses against the cab’s roof while wipers smear water across glass with sliding thunks.He presses his iPhone against his ear.Listens.Sighs “Goodbye.” Hangs up, drops the iPhone onto the passenger seat, sits back and closes his eyes, feeling the engine’s throb.***“Andrew. I signed the papers this morning.”“Rachel . . . please. Let’s keep trying. Just a little longer . . . ”“It’s been a year, Andrew. We tried. And I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore.”“Rachel . . . ”“The papers. Sign them. Don’t drag this out. Please.”***Thursday5:55 PMStanding at the end of a line which hadn’t moved for thirty minutes, Andrew McCormick pulled his iPhone from his pocket, slid his thumb across its touch-sensitive screen and groaned softly at the time.5:55 PMThe New York State Electric & Gas payment center closed at 6:00 PM. His
ARCANE DELIGHTSI slowly close the journal, settle it in my lap and gaze at its black leather-bound cover. I rub its pebbled surface lightly, thinking.Only stories.These are only stories. Fantastical stories. A little more fantastical than I usually prefer, though well-written, by someone with a much greater command of the craft than I yet possess. The vivid characterization, meticulous attention to detail and a surreal sense of place makes me want to believe these stories happened, but I know they couldn’t have, and am ready to dismiss them as nothing more than fiction . . .Except for Father Ward’s story.Father Ward, priest at All Saints church and headmaster at All Saints High. Casual childhood friend and more recently: my former boss.The story depicting his return from military service overseas supposedly took place eight years ago, when I was still teaching at Seton Catholic in Binghamton, so I wasn’t around when those events supposedly happened. And by the time I came t
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:Kevin Lucia is the Reviews Editor for Cemetery Dance Magazine. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, and he is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, the short story collection Things Slip Through and the novella duet Devourer of Souls. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. Visit him at: www.kevinlucia.com or add him on Facebook at either www.facebook.com/kblucia or www.facebook.com/authorkevinlucia.