Monday, May 2, 2011


This is Zebulon talkin' now. They got some big spiritual-educational hoo-haa goin on over in the Old World, or some place just over the rainbow from the Old World, so everybody's busy over there. Tonight, they ain't talkin'. You got me. Things are quiet here in Chestnut Hill. You know how it is  around Philadelphia this time a year. Sometimes you get a day when the sweat and grease just runs right off you. And other times everythings all nice and cool and ever-so-slightly damp. Today was one of the 'other' times and tonight was even better. Sky was calm, overcast, but calm. Twilight birds chirpin' away. Crickets playin' their little, squeeky cricket fiddles. Shame they only know one or two different tunes. Edith was sittin' out back. You see, they got this real nice, little patio off the kitchen with brick pavers, high priced, white lacquered metal patio furniture, some real big potted plants. There's a little fountain over by the corner and you can hear it gurgling even when you ain't lookin' at it. Think I saw that Martha Stewart woman on tv puttin' together somethin' just like it. What was Edith doin' out there? I don't know exactly. We had different vegetables when I was last in the flesh. But I think she was 'shellin'' some beans or somethin'. You know, they still had to buy food for the humans. wilkravitz ate. Edith ate. Them Red Paints (I think we got three now) know how to polish off a platter or two. Sometimes one a Papa's business 'familiars' will come by to talk money or something. You gotta offer 'em a cup a coffee and a piece a babka. Luna likes to try her hand in the kitchen when she feels like. Oh, she don't try to eat none of it. And she's better than the Old Woman (remember her?) and Annie used to be, or them elves used to be. Guess she still thinks about the stuff they used to feed her over at the Anti-Enchantment-Bureau.

But this time, Edith was all alone. The life-eaters were out alley-cattin' all over the place. The Red Paints were takin' one a their long, silent walks up and down Germantown Avenue, not talkin' to nobody (maybe they'd nod) and lookin' in the shop windows.It got dark, real dark, real fast. She didn't put no outside light on. What leaked out through the French doors was enough. Bugs weren't bitin' much. Reminded her of the Pines ('cept there the bugs never hold back). See, this part of Chestnut Hill, back by Glengary Road, got lotsa trees. And some a the big lots back up onto more trees. Think there's some kind of a park or an arboritum or somethin'. They say the park land snakes all the way through this municipality, till it peters out by Center City. That's why you see skunks and bobcats sneakin' 'round them fancy high-rises sometime. And it is also why certain Center City creatures occasionally show up in Chestnut Hill. This town is funny that way.

Edith was hummin' some old Piney hymn...'Source of Peace,'  I think it was. We had one like it back in Babylonia when I was a boy. 'Makor Shalom,' (Source of Peace) we called it. Tune was a little different though. She wasn't peelin' them beans no more. That bowl was sittin' on a table. Edith was just breathin' in and breathin' out, enjoyin' the night air. But that's when the shadows started playin' tricks with her. First it was a funny kind a shakin' out by the dogwood tree. Maybe a bird? Then it transformed into a skitterin' up on the conservatory roof. Raccoons sometimes did that. Finally she felt a little tickle-breeze on the back of her neck. She batted it away. Coulda been a moth. But the night spooks were gettin' to her. Bad enough sharin' a house with them refugees from some Abbott and Costello movie. She didn't need 'em out in the Lord's good fresh air too. So she hoisted herself up and made for the door. But before she could manage even two shufflin' steps, that God damned light in the kitchen went out. Just went pffft! Just like that. How come they never give you no warning?.......Shit - whispered Edith......Shit - whispered something right behind her. That caused her not so young heart to skip a beat. She called out for wilkravitz. She yelled - Wil! Wil!...But he warn't home. I think he was out on the Avenue too, maybe buyin' a magazine or somethin'. I know he's been talkin' 'bout goin' on horseback rides or pony rides. But I don't think they're open at night. So that thing behind her crouched down and grabbed her 'round one of her swollen ankles. She almost died. But it wasn't death. It was just one a them upper stomach hernias. Still, she did  lose her none too stable balance and smacked down real hard.  What a cryin' shame. Scrapped her chin, her palm, her elbow, right on the rough bricks. Edith tried to get up, only she was shakin' so bad and cryin. That's when the 'thing' sank its cold, sharp teeth right into the meat of her lower leg  A pathetic, visceral fear gripped her so hard, she couldn't even scream. But she did manage to raise her head a bit. And there on the shiny, starlit  surface of the glass panes on the French door, she could see it. She could see that boney Johnny Jump Up thing rippin' out chunks of her leg....  And them crickets never once stopped fiddlin'......

No comments: