Sunday, October 13, 2013


What I'm gonna say here really happened. This isn't one of our esteemed, weird and wonderful characters, or one of the helpful disembodied spirits. It's 'me'... Billy. And one night, a few years back, I had an encounter with something exactly like the 'hell hounds' in the current story-arc. It was like this....

An April night in Atlantic City. Didn't drive. Got a ride. Played video poker for a few hours at The (at that time) Hilton. Ate a rather good burger in the coffee shop and left. Thought I'd take a bus to the 'Downbeach' area (nice residential stretch... contiguous 'independent' towns ) tourists rarely see and stay over. But A.C. bus schedules, especially in the 'off season' are notoriously speculative. Sometimes they come every five minutes. Sometimes they drift along at a more leisurely pace like corpses on the River Nile. That night, they were few and far between. So I walked back to Pacific Avenue, one block off the Boardwalk and took a 'jitney,' the small, traditional local baby-buses in service for ninety eight years. They run every minute. That's good. The bad part is they stop at the forty eight hundred block and I had to go two or three miles passed that. So I rationalized and thought to myself - Eh, it's not a bad night... fifty two degrees (11C) clear, crisp, a little damp maybe (OK, so it wasn't so crisp), misty... Look, if  I'm gonna tell you the truth it was a little sinister looking, but I wasn't gonna admit that. Clear case of whistling passed the churchyard. I picked up my overnight bag and walked. At first a few cars went by, but it was late (for April) and after several blocks they disappeared. Total silence, save for the quiet sound of the surf. Dark, shuttered houses... cozy bungalows... big, white stucco multi-generational affairs. Some streets were pitch black, brooding stage sets awaiting the arrival of the cast come Memorial Day. I made my way down Atlantic Avenue, first street inland from the beach. Think it's one of the yellow ones in Monopoly. Now every once in a while there'd be a light on in a window. Some old retired lady staying up late to watch Kings Row (which really is a good picture) or maybe HGTV... but they were few and far between. And then I came to a stretch where there were no lights at all save for widely spaced street lights, a few of which had the unnerving habit of winking out as I quietly walked by. Sometimes vibrations can cause that, but I blamed other things.

Thank God I had on sneakers, 'Chuckies' I think, and could pass by on my way without making a sound. But you know how it is. Every quarter block or so you turn around to look behind you, 'cause anything could be there. And the pool of light from the lofty poles is oh so very small.

That's when I saw them... two large, low, black shapes drifting through the shadows.... rather nebulous and undefined and quite possibly hallucinations. At least I hoped that's what they were. No sound. No nothing. Just the quiet, distant whisper of the surf. 

I crossed to the other side of the street. for a block or two I lost them. Then I passed a line of properties bordered by tall, dense hedges. That's when the 'mumbling' started. Something was trailing me. I never saw it. Perhaps there were two? There probably were. But they stayed hidden beyond the hedges, loping along and panting. Then they mumbled, or vocalized some more.... like dogs do when they almost sound human... almost. But quiet... extremely quiet. Occasionally one would get tripped up by a piece of lawn furniture. I could hear it. That was the worst part. Something would bang. Something would creak and the low mumbling would start again accompanied by an even lower, practically sub-sonic growl.

Then I heard the laughter. Well, it sounded like laughter. I didn't know canines (or lupines) could make a noise like that.... all quiet and breathy and sinister. Believe me when I say I didn't make any sound at all. Native American trackers had no lighter footfall. Thankfully the noises stopped. After maybe two dozen heartbeats I forced myself to pivot my head around and look at the hedge.... just as I passed a relatively sparse part. 

That's when I saw them... two, large, unblinking, red-orange eyes, silently stared back.... not as high as mine, but plenty high just the same.... Think I might have moaned a little. Lucky I didn't pee. But that's not my pattern. That's not how I react. If anything, I get stomach cramps. Could I see anything else? Could I see a head? Could I see a face? Could I see a body?... No, just the eyes. And when the hedge thickened up I heard the breathing.

But then I crossed the street, proceeding on to a tiny commercial stretch, maybe three or four small shops, right by the MarVen (how it's really spelled) Gardens neighborhood, which really does exist. A tiny convenience store was still open. Someone walked in. Someone walked out. The next few blocks had more permanent residents and weren't so dark. The spell was broken. I hurried on to my destination, unlocked the door and entered. Then I locked it up real good, checked all the closets and under the beds... peeked behind the shower curtains (a phobia from The Shining) and turned on the TV. Kings Row was still on... and I was never so happy to see the 'Gipper' in my life.

The next morning they found a strange mangled dead thing on the beach. No one could tell what it was, or how it got that way.....

But I knew....

Seashore towns have a lot of  'off season' tales like that, but this one's mine.

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link ~> WELCOME TO THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL ... Twitter ~> @wilkravitz ... please comment. thank you. stay safe. 

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