So you can read my books

Monday, August 9, 2010


{“Her lips were red, her looks were free,

Her locks were yellow as gold :

Her skin was white as leprosy,

The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,

Who thicks man’s blood with cold.”


{Samuel Clemens - ghost, your guide here.

Trapped in Victorian London, we are being escorted by Death to a brothel where it is said the men who are Jack the Ripper are waiting for their next victim.

Me, the ghost of Marlene Dietrich and Roland – each of us is suspicious of Death’s offer to lead us back to the present and to the supernatural jazz club, Meilori’s.

Here is Roland’s account of it.}

We walked unnoticed onto the fog-choked sidewalk, packed with dozens of men and women, their faces weathered, wrinkled, and haunted.

I smelled alcohol on most of their breaths. So drunk, yet so plainly unhappy.

Death reached down, tapped the top of my head, and pointed to the dirty red, three story building in front of us.

An ornate but faded sign proclaimed it to be The Princess Alice. There was a hard-eyed redhead at the front door, calling out to each man that passed her.

"Mary Kelly," sighed Death, "where is that little girl of yesteryear?"

And then, without any warning at all, Death, Marlene, Mark, and I started to slide across the cobblestones, up the three steps to the door, and right on THROUGH the door as if it were no more than thin air. I started to shiver.

I looked over to my friends. They seemed unruffled. Apparently, Marlene and Mark as ghosts were used to this sort of travel.

But I wasn’t a ghost. It unnerved the hell out of me.

We slid right THROUGH the milling customers of the brothel as they made their way to and from the bar and the tables clustered all about.

We stopped at the base of the stairs leading up into the murky darkness and the sounds of coarse laughter, badly played pianos, and the squeaking springs of old, worn-out beds.

I turned to the customers. Were these men responsible for the terrible butchering of so many prostitutes? Their hard eyes certainly seemed up to the job.

The women who sat beside them or on their laps looked as if they would happily hand their “customers” the knives. I squinted at them through the gloom. Each table had only one candle … one very short candle.

Some were shorter than others. Some gave off so little light I found it hard to believe that flame could be so faint.

Mark Twain looked up at a somber Death. "What in blue blazes is wrong with this place? Can't they afford their gas bill? Damnation, you'd think this place would make enough money to buy new candles at least."

"Those are not candles, Clemens," Death murmured. "Rather they are the pathetic remains of the soul of each man that sits at the table."

I turned and looked in horror at the men, the flickering light of what little remained of their souls casting weird shadows across their faces. I started to shiver in spasms.

It was too much.

I started to breathe shallow and fast, not being able to take enough air into my lungs.

I started to make thin squeaky sounds deep in my chest. I pressed my hand to my heart which felt like an ice pick had suddenly been stabbed into it.

My fingers and lips felt numb. I was scared, yet felt outside of myself.

Things were beginning to grow dim. What was happening to me? And as soon as I asked myself, I knew.

I no longer thought all of this was some dream or nightmare. This was all real. As real as a rattler that springs up at you from the shadows. And it was all too much for me.

It had been the terrible death of the two year old girl that had been the last straw.

Now, these men burning up what little was left of their souls as cold-eyed women smiled, knowing what was happening and not giving a damn.

No, worse. They were glad of it. The wet squeaks got higher, faster. I leaned on the stained wall, fighting for a breath that wouldn't come.

Marlene took my arm and murmured, “Liebling, if you fall now, who will bring Papa’s killer to justice? You can push this horror to the back of your mind. You can.”

“I - I can?”

Marlene brushed her lips against mine. “I know because I did the same when I stumbled upon horror after horror at the front lines in World War II.”

“B - But you w-went on the front lines … d-despite the death sentence … on your head. Y-You’re a hero.”

Mark and Marlene said it together, “And so are you.”

I knew better.

Marlene leaned forward, kissing me with ghostly lips that had me re-breathing my own gasps. I smiled bitterly. She could have used a paper bag to do it. But this was much better.

Finally I could breathe again.

Maybe it was her kiss. Or perhaps Marlene’s and Mark’s faith in me did the trick. No matter. I could breathe on my own again.

I felt Death’s cold eyes on me.

How long would that breathing go on?


  1. I really loved this line very unique and worth thinking about ""Those are not candles, Clemens," Death murmured. "Rather they are the pathetic remains of the soul of each man that sits at the table."

  2. Summer : Thanks for liking that concept. I thought it appropriate. They were consuming themselves with their actions whether they were caught or not.

  3. Oh my gosh! I just copied my favorite part of the story to paste in the comments before I read Summer's comment:

    "Those are not candles, Clemens," Death murmured. "Rather they are the pathetic remains of the soul of each man that sits at the table."

    That is a powerful piece. I hope our souls' remains are more than the flicker of candlelight- more like a forest fire!

  4. Being led around by the Grim Reaper (Death)could be a bit unnerving. I love storys about out-smarting Death. If anyone can do it, Twain can.

    My favorite Grim Reaper story in media was a Twilight Zone show on TV about an injured police officer trying to convince a senile old lady to open her apartment door to hlep him. She refuses, thinking the officer was the Grim Reaper coming for her.

    Finally, the old lady relents, opening the door to help the injured officer (played by Robert Redford). What lady could turn down Robert?

    But, it turns out she was right! It was the Grim Reaper in disguise, wanting in. Scary stuff!

  5. That's a very spooky, dark, and very creative way to depict some of the consequences of our actions. And what a dark and callous world they're in. Life is so cheap and it's touching (and quite revealing) how he/you are so affected by it. To truly care for the soul of man, especially in these days, is a rare and wonderful thing.

  6. "The wet squeaks got higher, faster." Wet squeaks. Love that. And the candles, too.

    This was wonderful.

    ~that rebel, Olivia

  7. Really enjoyed this, although I usually don't like creepy stories! I couldn't seem to stop reading, though.

  8. Again, a dark sickly scene well done. The descriptions were great. And I could feel you gasping for air. I do not blame you. I hope you and your friends will not be there long...

    Aaaaand, I do not trust death.

  9. Yes, the candles got to me too. I could feel the mens' souls weakening.

    Your writing keeps me reading. And I am, as ever, rooting for Roland and his friends:)

  10. Oh my gosh, where do I even start? I loved the cobblestones, the hard eyed red-head, and the badly played piano. Multiple men as Jack the Ripper and the candles melting away men's deliver.

    My favorite, though, HAS to be the ghost actually stopping an attack like that. Creative and memorable.

    Great post.

  11. Wow! I loved it, especially the way it ends!

  12. I'm just glad Marlene is there to give poor Roland the kiss and breath of life!

    Take care