Chapter 3 What He Thought About in the Dark

Gregson never let anyone drive his car; it was a classic 911 Porsche Turbo. Mechanical, none of this electric bullshit. But Liz was different. He gave her the keys; he was in no mind to fight traffic, let alone a woman.

Liz opened the car door and two golf balls fell out. Your balls are rolling away,” Liz said.

“Don’t I know it.”

Gregson thought about the gym. He thought about Liz. He thought about the shotgun in the duffel bag.

“You’re awfully quiet, Liz said. “You got a girl?”

“Uhhh,” Gregson mumbled. He was 50; he just didn’t have the time, energy, or money to keep pace with a younger woman, or any woman for that matter.

“We need to work on your communication skills,” Liz laughed.

Gregson smiled. He was looking forward to his warm bed, a glass of rum, his pipe, and one of those books, so boring he’d be asleep before the second chapter.

Liz parked and looked into his starry eyes. “You’re not a fighter, are you?” She said. “You’re a lover.” She kissed him. Gregson didn’t understand women. “Thanks for the ride,” he said. “This is for your taxi fare.” He gave her a couple bills.

“Aren’t you going to invite me up?”

“Maybe some other time; when my head doesn’t hurt,” Gregson said.

“Then take care of yourself old man.” Liz gave him a hug and flagged down an Uber. Gregson climbed the steps to his apartment, one at a time. Then he puffed his pipe in the dark. It wasn’t his fault that women found him more attractive the older he got, but his priorities had changed. It wasn’t women that he thought about all night; it was solving crime; the thought of it kept him warm under the covers.


Chapter 2 Muscles and Thongs

Every place has an energy; it comes from the way people talk and the dreams they still hold onto. Gregson walked through the glass doors of Muscles and Thongs. It was like entering a fishbowl and the fish were greedy. They wanted the gold in each other.

Gregson couldn’t understand why people at the peak of fitness still worked behind a counter. Many lives were lost, standing around, waiting for the shift to be over, dreaming of sex, and thinking about favorite TV shows.

“I’d like a membership,” Gregson said to an attractive brunette. She looked at him, like she knew more than he did. “I’m Liz. What are your fitness goals?” She asked.

“I want to become a lethal weapon,” Gregson said.

Liz giggled. “You’re cute. We do have a Jujitsu class, but you might need to shave a few pounds to improve your performance on the floor.”

“Performance has never been my problem,” Gregson said.

Liz blushed. “Do you have a personal trainer?”

No; how much do you charge?”

“Your first session is free with me; then we can talk about money.”

“I’ll get ready,” Gregson said. He went into the locker room. Men with enormous muscles were walking around in the nude. Gregson found a tiny corner and started to stretch his body into the singlet; it was like wrapping himself in a slingshot. Any action could cause his fat to fly off in all different directions, but when he was done, he looked 50 pounds lighter. His rolls molded into a barrel shape, giving him a power lifter look.

Liz was waiting for him on the mats. Her pink sports bra and yoga pants were pure sex. Gregson felt 20 years younger.

“We’ll start with the butterfly stretch and move into the downward dog,” Liz said. Gregson followed her every movement, trying to make his body do what hers could do. In 20 minutes, he felt like a rubber band, stretched to snap.

“Now I’ll turn you over to Jackson in the Jujitsu class,” Liz said. “Follow me.” Gregson followed her curly brown hair and curvy legs through sweat and iron and agony. Her smell kept him going, even though his joints jiggled.

“If you want a private tutor, here’s my card. I know a little Jujitsu. We can wrestle on the mat during my off hours.” Gregson took her card in disbelief and walked into hand-to-hand combat.

Jackson had muscles the size of tree trunks and he was throwing suburban moms across the room. They all had silly smiles on their faces when he wrestled them to the ground or pinned them in submission holds.

“You’re the new guy, huh?” Jackson said.

Gregson nodded.

“Well, we’ll pair you up with somebody who can teach you a few things.” Gregson followed him to an enormous mom who was meditating. “Karen, I have a new guy for you to break in.”

She opened her eyes and shook Gregson’s hand.

“Positions,” Jackson shouted.

“Wait, I’m not ready,” Gregson said.

“There’s no such thing as not ready! Show him the torpedo.”

Karen screamed in martial arts and dove toward him like a battering ram.

Gregson’s eyes got really big and then everything went blank.

When he woke up, the gym was empty. There was a hot compress on his forehead and a cup of tea next to his limp body.

“I’ll take you home,” Liz said. “You did good today.”

Gregson felt like squash. When he made it to the parking lot, Jackson was putting his duffel bag into his Challenger. Gregson noticed the outline of a shotgun inside. He had come to the right place.

The Life of the Party

The life of the party

is not for me

it asks for things

I don’t want to be

I like walks with mom

visiting places

that visit me


with just the woods

and friends who allow me

to be

The party

wants me

to make noise

when I don’t want to

and go places

I’ve already been

I keep my words


and let them out

where I find them

always waiting

just for me.

Chapter 8 An Experiment that Went Bad

Eternity is tempting for those who love life and an obsession for those who fear death. -Intellectual Shaman

McMasterson pulled a stick of dynamite from his jacket. “Hey, can I get a light?”

Standish extended his torch.

“Don’t, you fool,” Gregson whispered. “He’s still on the drug. Sometimes monsters are made and sometimes they make monsters. McMasterson has always been and will always be. Grab him.”

Standish grabbed at McMasterson, but the old man was too fast. He scurried into his cabin and locked the door. Screaming and thrashing followed. Wallboards flew into the swamp, disturbing the water.

Gregson pulled his six-shooter from his pocket and gave the first tentacles lead poisoning.

Darla jettisoned from above like a bird of prey and Standish leaped into the swamp. Retreat was their only option, but they couldn’t turn their backs on the beasts.

Murphy was firing at anything that moved, but now the swamp was crawling. A tentacle grabbed him by the leg and pulled him halfway in. Gregson couldn’t see where to shoot as the mist was getting thicker and thicker, but through the fog emerged a hound, grabbing Murphy by the collar and pulling him to safety.

“That’s my suspect,” Murphy laughed. He got licked twice in the ear. “Knock that off.” It was all they could do to outrace the creatures and pretty soon they were back at the bar.

“Where’s the barkeep?” Gregson barked. In response, a Gatling gun sounded-off from the roof. Sirens wailed as squad cars bounded up the lane. Tentacles and human flying monsters, and poisonous toads, and enormous snakes were trying to crawl out of the bush, but got mowed down. The police took cover and began to lay on the lead.

“This is Detective Murphy; yes, I need a helicopter near Chessfield. Napalm… lots and lots of napalm. In a matter of minutes, helicopter blades chopped the air and the fireball that erupted was so large God could have roasted a hot dog from outer space. Everything burned; the creatures, the water, the bush, and an experiment that went bad.

Chapter 7 Into the Primordial Swamp

Gregson trusted his revolver, petting its trigger like a rattlesnake in his pocket. Even the police, with their automatic weapons, were no match for a well-placed shot. Shrieking labor pains cut the cold air with palpable terror.

“It’ll be every man for himself,” Bob said. “I’ve got Billy-Boy here to save my bacon.” The squat balding man clenched a double barrel shotgun.

“That’s only got two shots; this here’s what I carry,” bragged the fat man. “My grandpa gave it to me— left over from World War II. He held up a BAR that hadn’t been oiled in 50 years.

“That barrel is rusted up, certain sure. When the Misses has one of her tentacles up your pant leg and you’re defending your manhood, you’ll want one of these.” Standish buried a bowie knife into the wooded table. He looked like a monster at 6′ 4″.

“Gentlemen, wait for the police. Otherwise, you’re liable to kill the neighbor’s dog,” Murphy said.

“What do you know, city man?” Standish yelled. “It sounds like the monsters out there are multiplying. We’ve got to hunt this thing in the swamp before it decides to knock on the front door.”

Bob looked at the floor. The fat man cringed. Gregson was amused. The barkeep wanted to sell everybody one last drink before his customers got eaten.

“Alright, I’ll follow,” Murphy said. “Anybody with a gun is welcome. Let’s go kill this thing.”

Standish took the lead with his knife in his fighting hand and a torch in the other. Everybody walked where he walked; the swamp was more dangerous than the creatures in it. One false step and it would suck you in like an oatmeal raisin pudding. The water was like black volcanic glass, glinting in the moonlight with razor sharpness ready to emerge. A shadow past and then another. The horrific bird song was silent; only the wind or the creatures in the wind could be heard.

Up ahead, a lonely cabin was propped out of the water between two trees. What looked like glowing blood dripped into the swamp.

“Chemicals. That loon, McMasterson has been experimenting again; gone and woke the hounds from hell and a few other creatures. What was he trying to do?” Standish asked.

“What any man wants who hasn’t lived his life long enough,” a voice rang out. “Eternal Life.” A canoe cut through the water and McMasterson stepped onto the dock.

Obvious and Invisible





like pollution

through the nose of wisdom.

We discuss

what people


to keep hidden.


is obvious,

being obvious

is hiding.





Monstrous phantasms

or pleasant illusions



to be known.



is in your blood

floating to your fingertips

flushing your face

changing currents


catapulting you to dizzying rage

circulation low

under the dreary sky

then circulation high

above the hurricane

it escapes

in unpredictable ways

an argument

when you were too tired to speak

or a drawing

when you didn’t have the will

to sign your name

it’s moving inside

like a river

that flows upstream

or a rainstorm

that rises

when the grass is too green.

No Exit

Jimmy exited the 4th floor elevator, making his way to the vice president’s office. Writing for a men’s magazine was not what he envisioned. He believed he was a poet; he wanted to be a poet; at a time when most dream of money, Jimmy wanted to write words that couldn’t be unwritten. He was skinny; dressed in a cheap suit that was too big for him. Dress at Maximum Magazine was a part of company regulations and a way of measuring the worth of employees. He was worthless by their standards but he had words inside. He opened Mr. Bills’ office. It was shiny, the way mahogany and silver look when they’ve been polished.

“You’re late,” Bills said. “You’ll arrange copy for our magazine so we can distribute.”

“I thought I was going to write something.”

“You’ll write your resignation if you interrupt me again. My assistant will help you with the particulars.”

Jimmy felt anonymous; it was the kind of invisible feeling one gets in the presence of others. He left Bills’ office a little bit weaker than before. Jimmy walked to the elevator and got on. Before he pressed the button, Bills shouted, “Wait; hold that elevator.” The big man put his hand between the doors and squeezed in. His suit was shiny, like it had been polished; it was really expensive; you could tell, just by looking at it. He stank of expensive cologne and a lingering cigar.

On the third floor, the doors opened and an attractive woman got on. Her blazer covered her obvious curves, and Jimmy looked at the back of her head in the way boys do when they dream. She was a magazine model. On the second floor, the janitor pushed his cart in.

“Don’t they have corridors and freight elevators you can use?” Bills asked.

The janitor didn’t say anything. Halfway down the first floor, the elevator stopped.

“This is just great, I’ve got a meeting to be at in 15 minutes,” Bills said.

The blonde turned around. She looked like she hadn’t slept in two days.

The janitor shrugged his shoulders and Jimmy picked up the emergency telephone. “It doesn’t work.”

Then the lights went out. “Oh God, really?” Bills complained. “This can’t be happening. It was blacker than black.

“Let’s hope the air conditioning still works,” the janitor said. “Nope; that’s out too. It might get really hot in here.”

Somebody will find us. Wait… do you smell something?”

“It’s burning plastic; probably an electrical malfunction,” the janitor said.

“Can you fix it?” Bills ask.

“I can try, but I’m not an electrician.”

“What good are you if you can’t fix it?” Bills complained.

The janitor ignored him.

“I’m just going to sit down for a bit; I don’t feel well,” the woman said. She was invisible in the dark and Jimmy thought her voice sounded different; it was vulnerable.

“To override, we have to cross the wires,” the janitor said. He started stripping off plastic with his pen knife.

“What happens if you cut the wrong wire?” Bills asked.

“We’ll be stuck here until someone breaks through the wall.” CUT. Nothing happened.

5 hours later…

“I can’t breathe,” the woman said.

“There’s smoke in the elevator.” Jimmy couldn’t see it in the dark, but the smell was unmistakable.

“You suffocated us, you damn fool,” Bills yelled and then coughed.

Jimmy was light headed.

Bills was angry.

The woman was unconscious.

The janitor failed to save them.

And moments past. Suddenly, light shifted above them. “Anybody in there?”

“I’m here,” Jimmy said.

Everybody else was dead.

Chapter 6 The Creature Cometh

As Darla transformed, her painted nails became talons; sensuous skin cracked; pouting lips became poison; and blue eyes washed into white. She was blind, sniffing the air, searching for meat. Darla aspired to be a fitness model and years of repressed hunger was unleashed. Her claws opened the refrigerator and she ate three steaks.

McMasterson inched towards the stairway. He hoped his infrequent bathing made him undesirable, but dogs will eat anything, and lizards… well lizards will eat their own kind. Darla turned to McMasterson. “Yes, I know you are there. You really should keep your chemicals locked up.”

“You’re not going to eat me?”

“Look at you… skin and bones, old and too tough. No; I have a taste for that PI who stopped by. What was his name? Gregson?”

“Would you prefer beef or pork?”

“No; I want a man who eats daily donuts. He’ll have sweet meat.”

Darla walked out of the house on two legs; her back expanded. Two enormous wings erupted from her scales and she sailed off into the mist.


Gregson and Murphy swapped jokes at the bar, pretending there weren’t monsters in the fog.

“What do you call a man with no arms and no legs floating in a swamp?” Gregson asked.

“Bob,” said Bob. “That’s a good one.”

Creature noise rang out, silencing their laughter. Everybody took another drink.

“If I’m going to die, it won’t be sober.” The fat man said. “It sounds like there is more than one monster out there.”

“It’s just your imagination,” Murphy replied.

“Perhaps you’d like to go for a walk and check?” The fat man asked.

Murphy rolled his eyes. “Pour another. The police will be here in 30.”

The Body

The Body

wants to lie in bed

and listen to the rain


is too much work

It’s browsing

to consume

It doesn’t want more

it wants less

It’s not impressed

with normal food.

“You’ve lost weight.”

“You’re looking good.”

But that wasn’t my goal

I want to eat something

that feeds me

Otherwise, starvation

will go on

My body seeks comfort

under thick blankets

reading things that have not been read

in 20 years

It longs for a word and a moment

waiting for the rush of warm air

and the silent satisfaction

from the storm.