RIP Lamont. Dude Surfs

The sun had barely broken the horizon, but Dude was already out there, waiting, ready. Since Lamont’s death he’d done a LOT more surfing. The museum at the Tar Pits had also opened since Covid had shut things down. Dude was getting out at dawn for a few rides before he had to drive to LA to sort bones and don his Smilodon costume for the kids.

Why Lamont had wanted to go down to Puerto Peñasco when they could have gone anywhere — and, for that matter, they lived on the beach! — was still a mystery to Dude. In a MOTORHOME for the love of God? A rented motorhome, “See America.”

“We’ve SEEN America, wouldn’t you say, Dude?” laughed Lamont as they took the keys from the rental agent. “In four dimensions.”

The next morning, as he was walking on Playa Bonita, pondering life, the universe and everything, Lamont was flattened by a dune buggy. The driver never stopped. Lamont’s last words? “Watch out, Dude. The Reaper’s driving a dune buggy. Well, see you later.” That was it. His life left his body, the vapor of the soul sped toward its next life.

Dude missed Lamont. After all, they’d been through a lot of lifetimes together, a fact that was a consolation but also, in its way, a curse. Who knew if Lamont would be back or when or, worse, as WHAT? Dude thought about that almost every day as he sorted bones. As he was all too aware, it was kill-or-be-killed out there in reality and one day’s dinner was the next day’s diner.

He looked to the west and saw a perfect swell heading his way.

Lamont (RIP) and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have (had) the uncanny ability to remember many of their previous incarnations which gives them an unusual perspective on life, the universe and everything.

Portrait; the Whole Story

“Don’t move Lulu! Hold still!
“Just sit still two minutes and it’ll be over.”
Lulu gritted her teeth and Mom pulled the comb through Lulu’s tangled back hair.
“If you’d let me cut it off neither of us would have this problem.”
“NO!!! I want hair like Rapunzel!!”
“You’ll never have hair like Rapunzel. That’s just a story.”
“But maybe. OW!”
“Hold still.”
“Why can’t you just brush it?”
“I want to braid it, that’s why. It’s not your problem, Lulu. Just don’t move.”
Lulu decided to get even by sitting up ram-rod straight. Mom laughed to herself. If she hurried she could get this done before Lulu wasn’t mad any more.

In another room, Dad knelt in front of Hugo and clipped the bowtie onto the little boy’s white shirt. And in the living room, one of Dad’s friends, a photographer at Dad’s job, was setting up a fancy camera on a tripod. He’d already set up a couple of spot lights so everything would be perfect for an interior shot without a flash. 

“I want a real picture,” said Mom one night at supper. “Not just a snapshot.”

That’s how it happened that the family was putting on Sunday clothes on a Saturday afternoon and combing out tangles in a little girl’s curly hair. 

The ordeal ended in pigtails with red ribbons. Lulu didn’t think the ribbons went with her dress at all but Dad said it was a black and white picture and this wouldn’t take very long, and they could go out to play. Dad was given to non sequitur but what can you do? 

For some reason Dad’s friend wanted Lulu and Hugo to KNEEL in the chairs looking over the back with their arms folded on the back of the chair, their chins resting on their arms. Lulu thought to herself, “Do you know the trouble we get into if we do this?” But Mom and Dad stood approving the whole thing as if they thought kids should kneel in chairs all the time. 

“OK, Hugo, look at the camera. look right here. NO! Don’t cross your eyes. Just look at the camera. Good, hold it, hold it, hold it. Good! OK, Hugo, just one more. This time I want you to smile at me.”

Hugo crossed his eyes and shot a lopsided grin at the camera. Lulu started to giggle. Mom pressed her lips together. Dad grinned. The photographer laughed. The sheer silliness of the seriousness of this moment struck all of them. 

“Do you want me to photograph him, Mr. Callahan?” asked the photographer, wiping a tear from his eye.

“I don’t think it’s possible, Ted.”

“That boy’s a live wire, sir.”
“That he is, Ted,” said Dad, trying not to laugh.

Dad went over to Hugo’s chair. “I want you to sit still and do as you’re told for five minutes. Five whole minutes out of your entire life. When Ted’s done you can go change your clothes and do whatever you want until supper. You understand? Otherwise?” Dad gestured as if he were about the remove his belt. Hugo nodded.

Dad’s belt had mysterious powers. Never, ever had it come even within ten feet of a kid’s backside, but the threat! Even if it NEVER happened (and it never would) Lulu and Hugo understood that it COULD happen. What would it be if it happened? Nobody knew, but it wasn’t good. Sometimes Lulu and Hugo would be making ballistic sound effects or singing silly songs in their bedroom when they were supposed to be going to sleep. All Dad had to say was, “You want me to come down there with the belt?” And that was it. The fake war or giggling operetta ended and the kids were quiet.

Hugo settled down and did as the photographer asked.

Then the photographer told Lulu to turn her face to the side for a profile (she did have a very cute freckled little nose) and took that photo, with one braid over the shoulder nearest the camera.

When the pictures came back, mailed to Dad in a big envelope, Hugo looked surprisingly intelligent, even wise. Lulu looked as if she should be running a company. “They’re so good!” said Mom. “Should we put these on Christmas cards?”

“Absolutely not,” said Dad, appalled. He fished down into the bottom of the big envelope and found a tiny contact print. There was Hugo making a face and, beside him, Lulu cracking up.

“But maybe this one,” he said, handing it to Mom.

Wings, Complete Story

“Go outside and find something to do.”

Lulu and her little brother, Hugo, went out the kitchen door that led to the garage and from there to the back yard. There in the garage was the great wonder — a refrigerator box that their parents had left out for trash day. They dragged it out the back door and looked at the slight rise at the back of their yard. Then they looked at the refrigerator box. They felt the November wind push their cheeks back toward their ears, and looked again at the refrigerator box. Yep. Wings. They set to breaking the box apart. Before long it was one flat piece of corrugated cardboard. 

“We have to get some scissors,” said Lulu, thoughtfully. 

Hugo got up from the cardboard and ran into the house. He came out with scissors. Mom’s sewing scissors. “Not those scissors, Hugo. Mom’ll kill you.”

“It’s just this one time.”
Lulu shrugged. Hugo would get away with it if anyone would. 
“I’m not touching them, and YOU tell her YOU took them.”
“I will.”
Soon they’d fashioned two sets of wings from the refrigerator box. 
“Go put them back,” said Lulu, seeing the scissors on the grass.
“You do it.” 

There were no buttons in existence that Hugo wouldn’t push. Lulu picked up the scissors and tried to sneak into the house with them, but as fate would have it, Mom was in the kitchen peeling potatoes. 

“We told you…what’s in your hand? Are those my sewing scissors?”

“They are, mom.” Lulu hung her head.
“Don’t you KNOW better than that?”
“I do.” Lulu didn’t DARE look up.
“Can you explain this to me? Look at me when I’m talking to you!”
“We’re making airplanes so we could fly. We needed to cut the refrigerator box so we could both have wings.” 
“Look at me.” Mom was mad. “What have I told you about my sewing scissors.”
“Never to touch them.”
“We touched them.”
YOU CUT CARDBOARD WITH THEM!!! Did you take them outside?”
“No. Hugo came in and got them.”
“Well that is neither here nor there.” Mom sighed. “Go to your room.”
Lulu thought it WAS “here AND there.” She’d brought them back in and faced this music while Hugo, the one who’d taken them, was getting off scot free. Lulu knew SHE would not have taken them. “But Mom. I didn’t take them. Hugo took them.”
“Nobody likes a snitch. I told you to go to your room.”

Lulu felt like she got off easy. 

It wasn’t long until she heard her mother calling Hugo into the house. “And put that cardboard in the garage where you found it!”

The kitchen door to the garage opened and Hugo came in.
“Hi Mom.”
“Hugo, honey, did you take my sewing scissors out of the drawer?”
Hugo hung his head. Mom wasn’t completely blinded by her golden child, and she recognized guilt.
“Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever do that,” she said sternly. “I need those scissors for sewing. They were expensive and money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“Where’s Lulu?”
“I sent her to her room.”
“We were building airplanes. We were going to fly.”
“Go get your sister,” said Mom who’d never been all THAT angry.

She looked out the window over the sink. She closed her eyes and saw another blond-haired little boy and a dark-haired little girl in braids. They stood on the lip of the small hill in a different back yard. With only one big piece of cardboard between them they had to take turns.

The little boy was smaller than his sister. A moment came when he took off running down the slope, and caught a gust at exactly the right time, exactly the right angle. His sneakered feet lifted two or three inches off the ground. It was only a matter of seconds but long enough.

He flew.

Mom wiped a tear from her eye.

“OK, kids. Take THESE scissors and go build your planes. Next time, ASK. I hate kids sneaking around behind my back. And NEVER EVER EVER take my sewing scissors for ANY purpose at all EVER.”

Grandma’s House (where we all find out where this story was going)

This story was told over the course of four days; now it’s all in one place. 😃

Part One — The wind slowed and the rain began to fall instead of sliding across the glass like a sneaky kid stealing third base. Lulu stared out the storm door and wondered if it was really true that standing at a window during a thunder storm attracted lightning. Right on cue her grandma yelled, “Get away from that door! Do you want to be struck by lightning?” Freckled imp that she was, she stepped back while her grandma was watching, but when the old woman’s head turned back to braiding rags to make a rug, Lulu stepped up to the door again. “I can see you, honey. You can’t fool me. I raised seven girls,” grandma chuckled. “Now you mind me and step back from there or I’ll get up and close that door.”

Lulu was bored, that was the thing. She’d been in the house with a cold forEVER. She felt fine. Her cousins were in the cellar, trapped by the rain. She hated them. Once in a while they’d call her on the WW II Army field phone they’d strung from the cellar to grandma’s kitchen. THEY were having fun while SHE was being yelled at by grandma. Everyone was having fun but her. The whole world was having fun but her. It was summer and was supposed to be fun, but it wasn’t. She went to the back room where she slept and flopped down on the bed, feeling very sorry for herself.

Part Two — You’d probably imagine that the next place for this story to go would be Lulu — who really DOES have a cold — flopping down on her bed, falling asleep and having a dream. You’d be right. She DID go to sleep and she DID have a dream, but I have no idea what it was. Grandma, however, hearing too much quiet coming from the back of the house, set aside the rag rug she was weaving, and pushed herself up from the rough, gray chair beside the window. “That girl,” she muttered, shaking her head. “She’s got a mind of her own, that’s for sure.”

She walked across the living room and through the kitchen to the back of the house. Two rooms had been added long after the house was built. There was a room with the wringer washer, some shelves for home-canned fruits and vegetables, hooks for coats and a pile of overshoes waiting for winter. Off that room was a bedroom where her husband of 52 years had spent the last days of his life. From there he could see everyone who came and went and it was easy for people to come in to visit. Now it was the “guest bedroom” but the “guests” were grandkids. 

“Lulu?” grandma said softly pulling aside the curtain that served as a door. 

There in the shining light of a rain-washed afternoon, across the bright-colored fancy quilt, the little girl lay, sound asleep, with her thumb in her mouth. Grandma chuckled and closed the curtain. 

“Now to see about those boys.”

Part Three — Grandma pulled on her pink sweater and outdoor shoes and went out the back door. At the other end of the wooden sidewalk Jack and them had built for her last year was the cellar. Its heavy door was covered with asphalt shingles. When the old man was alive, he spent many summer days in the cellar where it was cool. 

“Let us put up a new door, mom. That old door is pretty heavy.”

“No, no. I manage fine. Don’t go to any trouble.” But the sons-in-law all showed up early one Saturday morning, ready to work, only to learn that if they tore down that door, they’d have to tear down the cellar. That was more job than anyone was ready to tackle. Grandma made them breakfast and sent them home. 

You’re probably expecting grandma to open the cellar door and find the boys smoking or getting drunk on moonshine, but there weren’t any cigarettes (the boys weren’t interested anyway) and certainly no moonshine (good grief!). Instead she found four little boys shooting marbles on the cellar’s dirt floor under the light of the light bulb than hung from the ceiling. When they couldn’t fix the door, the sons-in-law had electrified the cellar. “It’ll be safer for you, mother,” they said. “Just turn on this switch.” They put the switch on the wall inside the door. Grandma thanked them but said she’d done fine a long while with the kerosene lantern that sat atop the shelf by the back kitchen door. She was sorry they’d gone to so much trouble.

“Why didn’t you just call us grandma? We set up the field phone so you could call us!”
“I’m not touching that thing.” 
“Is it still raining?”
“No, it stopped a little while ago.”
“Let’s get Lulu!”
“She’s sleeping. Leave her be.”
“When’s she going to be well, grandma?”
“Only the good Lord knows that. Supper’s in an hour. You need to come in pretty soon and get cleaned up. Your folks’ll be coming back.”

To be continued — for those of you sitting on the edge of your chair over this story, I honestly don’t think anything exciting is going to happen. Lulu isn’t going to die of a mysterious malady that initially manifests as a cold. The boys aren’t going to set anything on fire. Grandma isn’t going to suddenly clutch her chest and fall off the wooden sidewalk (4 inches — it’s set on 2 x 4s) There could be a game of Red Rover — a game kids are no longer allowed to play — and THAT may be a little sensational, but… I think the deepest question this story will address is “Why can’t we eat honeysuckle berries, Grandma?”

Part Four — conclusion

“Real gullywasher out east, mom. The river flooded down by Pompey’s Pillar.”

“Oh my Lord,” said grandma wiping her hands on her apron. “Could you shell those peas for me, Jo? Those snow peas have been prolific this year.” (grandma wouldn’t say “prolific” but that’s the prompt today)

“Happy to, mom.” Hazel, mother to two of the boys in the cellar, took the colander from grandma and sat down at the table to shell the peas.

“Was Lulu any trouble?” asked Patricia coming in the back door with Lulu’s baby brother in her arms.

“Not at all. I had to make her mind once.”

“Just once?” Patricia laughed. “Do you need a hand with supper?” She set the baby in the high chair.

“Hazel, if you could take those peas somewhere so Patricia could lay the table?”

“Sure thing, mom.” Hazel took her project and her chair and moved out of the way.

The back door opened again and the sons-in-law came in with Rochelle, mother of two of the boys in the cellar. “Where are the boys?” she asked, shaking the water out of her hair in the back room.

“In the cellar playing marbles.”

“Do you want me to go get them so they can clean up for supper?”

“That’s a good idea.”

“Where IS Lulu?” asked Patricia.

“She’s taking a nap in the back room.”

“Oh mother, how long?”

“An hour gone now.”

“She won’t sleep tonight, mother. What were you thinking?” Patricia stomped out of the kitchen heading for the back room. Hazel looked at grandma who shook her head.

What could you do? The boys came in and Greg, the oldest finished setting the table.

“There are a lot of us for supper tonight,” said grandma to one of the sons-in-law who nodded and got the chairs from the dining room. Grandma had a dining room, but no one ever ate there.

“Let me do that, mother,” said another son-in-law. He took the heavy kettle and poured the chicken and dumplings into the large mixing bowl and set it in the middle of the table with the new peas, cooked quickly and topped with butter, a plate of bread, a plate of butter, grandma’s plum jam from last year. Thirteen people sat around the table, seven grown-ups, laughing and arguing, four cleaned-up little boys surprised not to be at a “kid’s table,” one little girl with a cold, sitting in the corner, sleepy-eyed, with her thumb in her mouth, and a baby in a high chair with his thumb in his mouth, smashing peas against the tray with is other hand.

You can’t say I didn’t warn you that NOTHING would happen with this story.

Yung Luv’

“I don’t think he’s going to call me EVER.”

“Probably not. I don’t see you as a pair.”

“What does THAT mean? I thought you said he likes me?”

“Yeah, but not in THAT way.”

“Why not?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“I thought he was your friend.”

“He is but, believe it or not, we talk about other stuff. We don’t talk about you.”

“You’re mean.”

“No. I’m honest. I’m just telling you like it is.”

“Does he have a girlfriend now? You said he doesn’t have a girlfriend.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I’m not with him 24/7. Why don’t you just go find something to do and forget about Keith?”

“I can’t ‘forget about Keith’. I’m in love.”

“Oh god. Again?”

“Kids! Supper!”

“Let’s go in. Mom hates it when supper gets cold.”

What are you kids doing, anyway?”

“Brenda is in love again,” Ryan pulled the bar stool away from the breakfast bar in the kitchen where they ate their meals.

“Oh. Well, it’s to be expected.”

“What do you mean, mom? You’re as mean as Ryan.”

“Honey, you’re fifteen. You’re just boy crazy.”

“That’s not fair! I really LOVE Keith. He’s THE ONE I want to spend my whole life with. Didn’t you and dad meet in high school?”

“You really want me to repeat THAT story?”

“You loved each other, right?”

“Yeah, for a while. But then we didn’t love each other any more…”

“Why did you stop loving dad?”

“Honey I don’t really want to talk about it. It’s over, in the past, we’ve worked out a way we can be here for you, sometimes that’s the best two people can do. Your dad is happier with Cynthia than he ever was with me.” Mom shrugged.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“OK, Brenda, I’ll lay it all out for you. When we’re young hormones rage through our bodies…”

“Everyone blames ‘hormones’. This isn’t ‘hormones’. It’s love.”

“OK, but you asked a question, and I’m trying to answer it. Your dad was cute, I was cute. We were propelled by higher forces toward each other and there was Ryan, so we had to get married.”

“You weren’t even MARRIED when you made me?” Ryan almost tipped over his barstool, laughing.

“No, we weren’t married. It made things very very difficult. I had to drop out of school to have you. Your dad had to go to work while he finished school. We weren’t kids any more. Life changed from one thing to another thing, a very serious thing.”

“Why didn’t you use a condom?”

“Buying a condom in those days was embarrassing. You had to go to the drug store and ASK for one.”


“Listen, kids, the world doesn’t stay the same. Something changes every day. Anyway, as time went by, I got my GED, dad went to community college, Brenda came along, we got a house, and, sometime in there, we realized we had nothing in common. Your dad was already sleeping with Cynthia. He didn’t want to break up our family, but… So, Brenda, when I say ‘hormones’ I mean ‘hormones’. When I see your dad now I wonder what I was thinking. In fact, I wasn’t thinking.”

“There you go, Brenda. If Keith isn’t calling you, it’s not because he doesn’t like you. It’s because his hormones don’t.”

“Pretty much,” said Mom. “You want more Tuna Helper?”


“He said he’d call.”

“They ALWAYS say they’ll call. That’s their way of saying they’ll never call.”

“But I thought he liked me.”

“Didn’t you and I go see that movie, He’s Just Not All That Into You? That wasn’t based on fantasy, Doris. If he doesn’t call right away, he’s ‘just not all that into you’. Forget about him. Move on. There are other fish in the sea and another one will be by in 20 minutes.” Trina laughed.

“Very funny. You HAVE a boyfriend. In fact, everybody has a boyfriend. Everyone but me.”

“That’s true,” Trina acknowledged. “Stop checking your phone!!!”

“I was checking the weather.”

“We’re OUTSIDE idiot! You’re IN the weather!”

“Doris? Is that you?”

She turned around to see a skinny, bespectacled man in a white polo shirt and black jeans.


“You remember me!” The man’s face turned bright red.

“How could I forget,” Doris’ voice was flat. This was the last person she ever thought she would see again or wanted to see again.

“I think about you all the time,” he said, blushing a second time.


“Do you think about me?”

Doris shuddered inside. “Frank, it’s really nice to see you, but we’re in a hurry.” She grabbed her friend’s arm and started walking down the street as if they had somewhere to go.

“What was that?”

“High school.”

“High school?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Is he???”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it.”


Party On

“Babe, let’s go home.”

“But I’m having fun. You never want me to have fun.” Cora’s eighth apple cinnamon martini sloshed over the glass. OO7 she wasn’t.

“Cora, sweetheart, your left tit is just about outside your dress. Your lipstick is smeared down to your cleavage. I’ve had to hold your hair back three times. The heel broke off your shoe when you fell down the stairs, seriously, hun, it’s time. How is this fun?”

“Go home by yourself.”

A lightbulb lit in Travis’ mind. “You got it, sweet cheeks,” he thought.

He made his way through the crowd of guests all in various stages of inebriation, and opened the front door. The night was cold and clear. The sky held the infinite promise of the Milky Way.


“What if I shaved it off?”

“Your moustache?”


“It’s your moustache.” She shrugged, pulled her turtleneck over her head then pawed around the bed to find her glasses.

“I’m going to do it.”

Marcy went to the kitchen and made coffee. This was one hell of a hangover. Saturday nights were wildly fun, but this was a pretty high price to pay. It wasn’t long before the coffee was ready. She filled a cup for her and a cup for Paul.

“Marcy?” Paul called out from the bathroom.


“Come and see. I want to know what you think.”

She took both cups to the bathroom. “I made you coffee.”

He was turned away from the door, facing the shower wall.

“Paul?” He turned around slowly.


Marcy set down her coffee and looked thoughtfully at Paul. He was — had always been — one of the handsomest men she’d ever seen. Lapis eyes, brown hair, warm and friendly smile, strong chin. Until this moment, he’d also, always, in her life, anyway, worn the heavy moustache of their time in history. Without it?

He looked at her as if he were a child looking for approval. She wanted to cradle him in her arms, tell him everything would be all-right forever, erase all his doubts with a certainty that existed no where on earth.


“It looks good, Paul.”

“You hate it.”

“No, no, not at all. I like it. It’s good.”

“What does ‘good’ mean?”

Marcy sighed. “Paul, if you don’t like it, you can grow it back.”

“See? You hate it.”

Marcy understood then that HE hated it.

She went home. She was dehydrated from drinking and dancing the night before, exhausted and psychologically worn. This whole day would be given over to recovering enough to go to work on Monday. A shower helped clear her brain and she thought…


“Hi babe. Whatcha’ got?”

“Seed catalog. It’s my first one EVER. I feel so grown up!”

“Uh, that’s not your name,” said Josh, looking at the mailing label. “I think that’s the people who lived here before us.”

Spring was still a long way off, but the catalogs arrived well ahead of time to prime the atavistic urges of the snowbound denizens of the far north. Kira took off her boots and set them by the door.

“It doesn’t matter. We’re here now. We have our own house, our own yard, maybe a garden in summer. This proves it!” Kira held up the catalog with it’s WAY too brightly colored flowers and photo of bi-colored corn on the cover. “Isn’t this pretty? We can grow corn!!!”

“‘If you build it…'”


“Never mind. Whatever you want honey.”

Josh was thumbing through a catalog that had arrived at the same time, one that also had the previous occupant’s name on it. In it was the photo of a shiny, new, rototiller. Bright red handles and bright sharp blades. A chill went down Josh’ spine. “I don’t want to think that,” he thought, shaking the disturbing image from his mind. He turned the page and there was a beautiful, big chain-saw. “Good god,” he thought. “Is that how I really feel about Kira?” He set the catalog down on the coffee table, but the images persisted. He got up, took the catalog and threw it into the recycling in the kitchen, but the disturbing pictures remained in his imagination.

“Is this what I’m REALLY like?” his heart beat 100 miles an hour. “I LOVE my wife!”

The kitchen recycling can was clearly not going to do the job. He took the catalog out to the alley and lifted the lid on the big recycling bin, but as he was about to toss it in, the neighbor two houses down started up her chainsaw, the little one she used for cutting branches.

“I’m a homeowner now. I’m going to need this stuff.” He looked around the neighborhood. Sam had rototilled his yard last year. There was Mrs. Jamison, using a chain saw to cut back her lilac bush. This wasn’t about Kira. This was necessary to maintain the value of his property. He wasn’t evil to want power tools. No.

He stood in the alley and thumbed through the catalog again, this time a large vice caught his eye. He saw Kira’s narrowing head and bulging eyes. “Do Mrs. Jamison and Sam have thoughts like these?” He dropped the catalog into the cavernous realm of the recycling bin, and as he did, he saw Kira rotating wildly in the garbage truck’s hungry maw.

More Things Going Bump in the Night

“Jordan, sweet boy, I”m right here. I’m right here. Tell me about your dream.” Tom lifted the little boy out of his crib. Jordan needed to have his crib converted to a toddler bed, but Tom had put it off. “I’ll do that tomorrow,” thought Tom, holding his son to his shoulder. Jordan’s sobs slowly subsided and he put his thumb in his mouth.

“Look under the bed, sweetheart,” he said to Miranda. “See if there’s a door.”

“I might not be able to see it, Daddy, if it’s Jordan’s door.”

“Good God. You can’t expect me to believe that trolls have some kind of exclusivity in the construction…” he stopped. He was talking to his five-year-old daughter, not arguing with his wife.

Just then Joan’s nurse — a brisk, cheerful Filipino woman — came out of Joan’s room.

“She’s sleeping, sir. You want I go home?”

“Yes, Blessica. Thank you again.”

“What wrong with Jordan?”

“Bad dream.”

“Those duendes, they…”

“What? Duen… WHAT?”

“Bad men come in the sleep. Maybe live in this house a long time.”

“We built this house, Blessica. Just three years ago.”

“That doesn’t matter to duende Mr. Tom. The world is older than your house. Who knows about the ground you built your house on?” Blessica shrugged.

“Trolls, daddy. I told you.”

“Night horse,” sighed Blessica. “All the children have them. Maybe closer to old times. We grown ups? We far away. You want me stay, Mr. Tom?”

Suddenly Tom felt totally overwhelmed. How in the world had his life gone sideways like this? A wife with a fragile brain. Her Filipino nurse offering to spend the night to protect them. Trolls building doors under the beds of his children. His little boy crying on his shoulder. His little girl giving him advice — from direct experience — about supernatural beings that lived under the ground and invited children from the surface to tea parties.

“Blessica, take the guest room for tonight. I’ll pay you to stay in case…”

“OK, Mr. Tom,” she said.

“…something happens, and this is more than a nightmare, my wife…”

“I understand, Mr. Tom. I will go get my overnight bag from my car.” As a mental health nurse, Blessica was always prepared.


Here is a link to all the other five episodes of this saga… Backwards, unfortunately…