The Violet Long Light: A Horror Story…Part One

This was the last time, and I meant it. That bastard, Jerome said that

we were going out and he was already an hour late. We were supposed

to be at “The Underground” at ten o’clock and it was already eleven.

My makeup was perfect, but I couldn’t stand up all night, trying not to

get my dress wrinkled.


It had been a rough day. Everyone was coming in and out of the office

with stories about people disappearing. Pets, kids, the elderly, and

some folks who had gone out to shop or jog were simply not showing

up where they were supposed to be. These events had been happening

over in San Francisco, and it smelled like a serial something.


The doorbell rang. My heart jumped a few beats, and then came the

rush of joy and relief, followed by the shame at being happy and

relieved.  When was I going to learn to stand up to Jerome and his

thoughtlessness?


I slowly made my way to the door. It was not Jerome. It was Linda

Wadley. Linda never waits to start talking, talking waits for Linda to

stop.


“You’re coming with us!”  She screamed. “I just knew that Jerome was

going to be a clown, tonight, so we came to get you. You’re not staying

home on a night like this!”


It took me no thought whatsoever. I grabbed my coat from the front

closet, snatched my bag from the sofa and dashed out into the rain

with Linda.  We were screaming and laughing the whole way.  Linda’s

date, Franklin was driving, so I felt safe. Linda drove like a banshee

back in those days, and her car smelled like fifteen kinds of perfume.

Tonight, the freshest layer of perfume was Lair du Temps, for some

reason. She got off on vintage sniffs.


“Do you know that when a…” Franklin started.


Franklin!” We both yelled. Franklin was a Doctor, and a vast,

humanoid repository of every scientific joke imaginable. Once he got

started, there was no hope for the mascara or eye shadow, because the

tears were guaranteed to flow.  Neither Linda nor I could afford his

humor right now because we were bearing a dangerous mascara load.

Even if it was waterproof, a mascara breakdown of that magnitude

could have been fatal.


We wanted to be perfect for “The Underground”.


Suddenly, Franklin swerved and swore. “What the f**k was that?

Sorry, ladies… What the Fuck?”


A lumpy, misshapen figure had bumped into the car, careened off the

front bumper, and was now barreling on through the night.  We had

crossed over the Bay Bridge and had just taken the branch that

headed toward Fell Street.


“Are you all right, Franklin?” we both asked. For some reason, Linda

and I both talked together whenever we were in the car with Franklin

and something awful happened. Franklin was always a bit of an awful

magnet, but this night was proving to be a deviation from the norm.

That moving thing did not look right. No homeless person or druggie

could take a ding from a fast moving car, and then barge off like that.

I waited. Franklin and Linda were talking a mile a minute, but I could

barely hear them.


One minute later, the Violet Long Light came. This time it was

streaking out from a room that was on the third floor of an otherwise

pitch black Victorian.


I didn’t say anything to them, but something made me want to tell

Franklin to turn the car around and go back to Berkeley, where we

could party in peace at Benita’s house. Benita always put on the best

parties, and we would be safe there.


Photobucket Linda was my best friend in the world, but I had

never told her about the Violet Long Light. It always came when it

made no sense. Always, later, sometimes years later, I would discover

that I had been close to something so evil that it was

incomprehensible. I kept my mouth shut and decided that The

Underground would be fine. After all, I hadn’t died yet from seeing

that light.



Franklin was fine, so we moved on, silent, through the wet and shiny

streets. A fog was rolling in, which meant that the rain had stopped.

We could smell the bay and sneak glimpses up into the lit up houses,

wondering if people were having elegant appetizers and cocktails.

We were not cynical enough at the time to wonder if someone was

fucking their brains out with the wrong person up in those elegant and

expensive rooms.


We rolled up to Fort Mason, where the base had been closed, but

where some of the buildings were “available” to those who had the

connections…like the Mayor and the Chief of Police.  There was a

warren of underground bunkers that no one ever knew existed, and

one of them was the killer destination for those who were in the know.


Franklin, Jerome, Linda and I, along with a few others, had been to

The Underground a couple of times. Each time was an event to

remember. One event was so wild that it went on for two days, and no

one even knew it. We knew not to talk about The Underground outside

of our little group. We feared that no invitations would ever come

again.


Tonight, there was supposed to be a special show, so we were

overdone with excitement. I had a conflicting and sinking feeling

about Jerome, and feared that our business was over. It hurt me to

think of leaving him to fend for himself in the world, but it also felt

just a taste wonderful to think of moving on to a life that did not

involve sitting up on Saturday nights waiting for him to stand me up

again.


As we pulled up to the parking area, something caught the corner of

my eye. I jumped and turned to look, but only saw the edge of

something moving quickly through the gnarled trees, and then

disappearing.  I decided that it was a racoon and left it alone.


Until the violet light came, and I knew that something was going to go

terribly wrong, maybe that night. This time the Violet Long Light was

on a boat, shooting far out onto the bay.


“Do you have your gun, Franklin?” I asked, out of nowhere.


“Why are you asking?” Franklin replied, indignant. Franklin was a

doctor and an F.B.I agent. What a wild combination of stuff he was.

Linda could never understand how the F.B.I ever saw Franklin as an

agent of anything but chaos.


“I just have a feeling that it would be good for you to have your gun.” It

was all that I could say. This may sound like a strange exchange, but

Franklin and Linda knew better than to make a big deal of such

pronouncements out of me. I had been right too many times for them

to argue or freak out.

But two Violet Long Light in less than twenty minutes…?

To be continued…

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Ludamae’s Roadside Grill Part I

The highway, built in 1973, ran right past a piece of property that Ludamae inherited from her Uncle’s secret lover, a White man named Darmour Blevins. Now the church people told her that she would save her very soul by donating that scandalous plot to the church for a spiritual tax deduction whenever she would have to account for herself at the pearly gates.

But Ludamae wasn’t anybody’s fool. She knew that that greedy fool, Bubby Lemour, a church functionary, wanted the property so he could open another one of his crooked used car dealerships. The clown had already sold cars to the likes of that serial killer, Teddy Dart, and those “Bonnie and Clyde” wannabes, David and Linda Lee.

The property came with a large, rambling, adobe style house and a sizeable building at the side of the road. Darmour would sell his produce from the building to passers by. He had a large clientele that would drive for miles to buy whatever it was that Darmour determined was suitable for the market on a given day. One week, it might be the agave and fresh chicken eggs that were ready to sell. The next week, the blackberries and the hops that people used to make their homemade beer would pass Darmour’s readiness test.
Uncle Darmour loved to experiment with plant husbandry. After she inherited the place, Ludamae began by carrying on with Uncle Darmour’s produce business and made a pretty good dime from that. Darmour had left the place well stocked with the best seeds, the gardens were easy to tend, and the customers were devoted. She hired some of the locals, and after some brutal lessons in trial and error, settled on a couple of steady, solid workers.

After a year or so, Ludamae added her highly appreciated pies to the list of goodies for sale. Then, her brother, Delmar made a proposition to cook and sell barbeque. Her best friend, Diana, offered to contribute her incredible baked macaroni and cheese. Her recipe has eggs in it and the eggs put the dish into a new world class of mac and cheese.

 

But Diana had lived in Italy with her Army Ex-husband. (Diana had three husbands, all from different branches of the military, so everyone just referred to the “Army ex” or the “Air Force ex” or the “Navy ex”). So Diana threw in all forms of cheese: pecorino, crema del friuli, Bocconcini for melting on the top. Diana was doing cinque fromaggio before even quattro fromaggio became a fad.

 

Ludamae crawled into her attic and hauled out her mother’s recipe books. She found recipes for collards and fried chicken, but she remembered Mother’s meals of Duck With Cherries and her complicated vegetable concoctions with exotic ingredients. For goodness sake, the woman made a paellela that made even those picky church ladies roll their eyes!
Mother was a cook, Grandma was a cook, and Great Grandma was a cook. These women cooked for some of the most nit picky and demanding of the Southern Slaveowners and Eastern Seaboard rich folks.

So Ludamae got an idea to build a restaurant and to have a fixed price “gourmet Night” on Tuesdays! On the other days she would host the locals and provide them with good, reliable home cooked meals.

After a year and a half and a couple of rounds in court, Ludamae got her restaurant and passed her inspections. The very same bureaucrats who gave her the most trouble were the first to make reservations for her gourmet nights as the word spread (thanks to her relatives) to politicians, movie stars and well heel gourmands from all over the country.

Even the Governor became a regular until he was caught flagrante and not so delicto with a youngster while on a fact finding trip to Thailand. But that was not such a disaster. The Lieutenant Governor was ready to step in and take his place at the table.

The work and the time went like water down a dry wash after a thunderstorm in the Superstition Mountains. But who isn’t headed for some kind of trouble at certain points in their life? Just as an older car is goes through one breakdown or another every few years, then runs fine for a few years, Ludamae had had her good years and was now headed for a breakdown in the order of things.
Ludamae’s pending trouble was the kind that takes restaurants from institutions to memories in no time at all.

And so it came to be that on one stormy Monday, while she was planning a menu of home made Ravioli en Brodo, Tilapia Supreme, a Paillaird of Goose With Berries, Brochette of Buffalo, exotic tree ripened fruit and imported cheeses, Gateau au Chocolat and a special entertainment by some members of the Capitol Symphony, Ludamae glanced at the newspaper.

The State wanted to run a highway right past her property! Who was building highways, anymore? At any rate, no one takes just a road sized slice of land. The state would take a hundred foot wide swath of everyone’s property, which would shave off the front of her restaurant and take half of her garden market!

Worse, her brother, Delmar, was up in arms again, angling for a partnership since he and his useless offspring were expecting to inherit if and when Ludamae met her demise. After all, Ludamae was not married and had no children.

Delmar was unaware that Ludamae was expecting her boyfriend, David, to arrive from New York at any minute. David was going to help her run the restaurant. Sighing, Ludamae happened to glance out the window and would up gazing on a unique sequence of events:

Storm clouds as black as ink were headed toward town. Bubba pulled into the parking lot with that useless lawyer of his in the passenger seat.

And Dave rolled up, driving a U-Haul van and towing his Mercedes.

 

TO BE CONTINUED