Things You Need

Things You Need

By:  Kevin Lucia  Completed
Language: English
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The things we want are so very rarely the things we need. Clifton Heights, a modest Adirondack town, offers many unique attractions. Arcane Delights sells both paperbacks and hard-to-find limited editions. The Skylark Diner serves the best home-cooked meals around, with friendly service and a smile. Every August, Mr. Jingo’s County Fair visits, to the delight of children and adults. In essence, Clifton Heights is the quintessential small American town. Everyone knows everyone else, and everyone is treated like family. It is quiet, simple, and peaceful. But shadows linger here. Flitting in dark corners, from the corner of the eye. If you walk down Main Street after dark, the slight scrape of shoes on asphalt whispers you're not alone, but when you look over your shoulder, no one is there. The moon shines high and bright in the night sky, but instead of throwing light, it only seems to make the shadows lengthen. Children disappear. Teens run away. Hunters get lost in the woods with frightening regularity. Husbands go mad, and wives vanish in the dead of night. And still, when the sun rises in the morning, you are greeted by townspeople with warm waves and friendly smiles, and the shivers pass as everything seems fresh and new... Until night falls once more. Handy's Pawn and Thrift sits several blocks down from Arcane Delights. Like any thrift store, its wares range from the mundane to the bizarre. By daylight, it seems just another slice of small town Americana. But in its window hangs a sign which reads: We Have Things You Need. And when a lonely traveling salesman comes looking for something he desperately wants, after normal visiting hours, after night has fallen, he will face a harsh truth among the shelves of Handy’s Pawn and Thrift: the things we want are rarely the things we need. ©️ Crystal Lake Publishing

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19 chapters
1.How’d I end up here?    It’s a long story. That’s the thing about life, though. Never can tell how it’s going to go. As Woody Allen once said: “Want to make God laugh?“Tell him your plans.”Anyway, I certainly didn’t figure on this being my life’s work. But it is what it is. If you’re interested, I can share how I got here. To start the story right, though, so you can understand my perspective better, I need to ask: You ever get fed up?Y’know, your job sucks. The spouse is a pain. The kids are sucking your life away. Finally, one day, you blow your fuses and think: Hell with this. I’m out of here.Ever feel that way?Sure you have. Everyone gets fed up eventually. Unless you’re a robot. Or a Vulcan, or a Zen Buddha Hare Krishna Weirdo, and those guys have to get fed up sometime. You show me a Zen-bot who never gets fed up and I’ll show you someone with a few interesting ways of blowing off steam.Me, I was lucky—or at least I told myself so. In my
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2.It was my first visit to Clifton Heights Junior/Senior High School. Right from the start, I thought Clifton Heights was a strange town. Nothing obviously wrong with it. Not on the surface, anyway. Place was the same as any of the hundreds of towns I’d visited over the last twenty years. Homey little department and hardware stores, restaurants, and knick-knack shops. A town hall, three churches, the requisite small town diner and two high schools. A library, a lumber mill, and a little creek running past the town, with a bridge over it called Black Creek Bridge.There was a modest lake—Clifton Lake—to the east, and folks referred to the hills as “the Heights.” The clean streets were patrolled often by Sheriff Baker and his deputies. He seemed a decent guy. Certainly not the stereotypical small-town crook, who ran his little kingdom with an iron fist. Trust me; I ran into plenty of that sort back in the day.The students of Clifton Heights High were a bunch of hard-working go-gette
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3.From the outside, Handy’s Pawn and Thrift was like any other second-hand junk store. Random items filled both storefront windows. Old radios, ranging from transistors to stereos with combination eight-track players and tape decks. Rusted old milk cans. An old tricycle next to a plastic Big Wheel. A jumbled assortment of sports equipment—deflated basketballs, footballs, scuffed baseballs and dinged bats. Helmets, a pair of hockey sticks, and a few pairs of old basketball sneakers. Old mason jars filled with marbles, a pile of hammers, saws, another mason jar filled with assorted screwdrivers. A few stacks of old books, and leaning next to them, old records in faded sleeves.Standing on the curb, I saw nothing particularly enticing or remotely interesting. In retrospect, I think it was the sign hanging in the window that sealed it. Maroon with gold trim and gold lettering, it read:Handy’s Pawn and ThriftWe HaveThings You NeedI snorted because from where I stood, Handy’s didn
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The Way of Ah-Tzenul
THE WAY OF AH-TZENULEverything got strange when the new moon cycle started last April. Course, things always get strange when the moon changes. My goats and chickens act up, coon dogs howl more than usual, cows won’t milk. It figures, I suppose. We’re all tied to the moon more than we think. Farmer’s Almanac says so, same as John George Holmnan’s Long Lost Friend. Hell, moon pulls in the tides and such. Makes sense it messes with other things too.I’m rambling like an old fool. Happens when you get my age. Take a seat there on the sofa, son. Didn’t catch your name.Ah. You’re the new fella, ain’t you? Fresh in town from medical school. Pleased to meetcha.Anyhow Doc, I’m much obliged, you coming to see my Betty. Dr. Jeffers, he’s on vacation. He recommended you. Said you was a fine sawbones, which is fortunate. My Betty, she’s in a bad way. Has been since last April. As I said; moon pulls on all of us, but this business with my Betty? Well, that’s something else altogether. Someth
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4.I stared at the reel-to-reel as it fell into a soft hissing click-click-click. After several seconds of listening numbly, I reached out and pressed stop.Silence rushed in, even more oppressive than before. I stuck my hands into my pockets and glanced around the store. No shopkeeper. He must’ve gone, I decided, because there was no way he could still be around and not hear the tape playing.And what had I heard on the tape? At the time I leaned toward an old radio drama of some kind. I’d listened to plenty of those over the years on the road between magazine gigs, on the AM stations. Re-runs of ‘The Shadow,’ ‘Suspense,’ and ‘Inner Sanctum Mysteries.’ They were corny as hell but entertaining. I especially loved how the hosts always shoe-horned their sponsor’s advertisements into the show. “Tonight’s tale about sex, murder, and revenge will give you a delightful chill . . . just like the kind you get from sipping a refreshing Lipton’s Ice Tea on a warm summer da
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The Office
THE OFFICEJohn Pinkerton knelt before the bookshelf in the rear of his office. He searched the bottom shelf for something to read while toying with his old Magic Eight Ball, the quirky fortune-telling toy recognized by any child of the eighties.He’d been searching for what felt like hours. This happened often (more so these days), and he couldn’t honestly say it displeased him. Browsing his overflowing bookshelves presented him with an infinite selection of journeys waiting to be taken. Every book he’d read represented old friends he loved revisiting. The ones he hadn’t, new friends in waiting. Choosing which to read was a pleasing difficulty.He shook the eight ball with one hand, smiling. “What’s it going to be?” he whispered, running his other hand along the spines of books on his tightly packed shelf. “Some ghost stories, today?”The white polyhedron, suspended in liquid turned murky with age, jiggled as it revealed: Future is Hazy.John chuckled as he returned his atte
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5.The white polyhedron, suspended in old, milky fluid, jiggled as it revealed: Future is Hazy.“Story of my life,” I whispered. “Story of . . . ”A chill hand gripped my heart.My throat tightened. I had to swallow hard to open it again. A rush of something filled me. Dread, and fear. I felt lightheaded. I dropped the Magic Eight Ball and it bounced off the counter to the floor. It rolled away into the dark. I sagged forward and barely caught the edge of the counter with both hands, leaning on it for support as my stomach clenched and my knees buckled.I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths. “What the hell was that?”An answer wasn’t forthcoming, but honestly, I didn’t want one. What I wanted was to get out and back to my cabin at The Motor Lodge. I didn’t care what I might do with my .38. I wanted out.Bracing myself against the counter, I twisted at the waist and glanced over my shoulder at the door. I blinked several times, trying to clear my
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Out of Field Theory
OUT OF FIELD THEORYBrian Palmer shivered in spite of the warm noonday sun. “This is it,” he muttered, staring at the picture he’d taken. “This is it. This picture is going to change my life. This. Is. It.”It was about time. All the other pictures he’d taken with his Nikon hadn’t been worth a damn. The first was out of focus. Couldn’t see the barn on Bassler Road for shit. Another was framed wrong, cutting the top off the old gazebo in the abandoned koi garden down the road. As for the brilliant yellow and orange koi swimming in the old pond next to the gazebo? Red and yellow blobs.Some of the other shots? Of Bassler Road curving into the distance? Of an abandoned old truck sitting by the railroad tracks? They were okay, but he knew what Professor Spinella would say: They looked like stock photos in Adirondack guidebooks found in tourist novelty stores everywhere.Which wouldn’t cut it if he wanted his final project for Philosophy of Photography to pass. He needed something uniqu
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6.The video on the camera’s viewfinder dissolved into snowy static. Remembering how it had looped before I picked it up, I frantically searched for its power button. Found it and switched it off before the person in the video could again start whispering excitedly about something changing his life.The viewfinder fell dark and silent. Like the Magic Eight Ball, I wanted to throw the camera away. Didn’t want to touch the damn thing anymore, much less hold it. Instead, I gently turned it over in my hands, my rational mind slowly kicking into gear. There wasn’t anything strange about the video on the camera. Not at all. Whoever had owned it must have been making some sort of low-budget student film (although I couldn’t imagine anyone filming a whole movie on such a small camera) out at this place called Bassler House. Found footage movies were all the rage these days, right? Maybe they’d uploaded it onto their computer, edited it, added a cheesy horror soundtrack, then uploaded it to Y
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SCAVENGINGI started sidewalk scavenging for the extra cash. I lost my teaching job about a year ago, one year short of tenure and in a way guaranteeing I’d never teach ever again. While Clifton Heights is large enough for several churches, a small hospital, two high schools and a zoo, it’s also small enough that news travels fast. The only place willing to hire me was the twenty-four hour Mobilmart outside town, and then only part-time, third shift. I wasn’t crazy about it, but paying rent and utilities provided plenty of motivation.I knew working part time for minimum wage at a gas station wasn’t going to cut it, so I had to take additional measures. For example, once a month a food bank visits Clifton Heights Methodist Church. Though it killed me to accept handouts, it lowered the grocery costs, which helped me pay bills and still eat.I also began collecting cans and bottles along the interstate and side roads, because The Can Man was offering six and a half cents for each
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