Wednesday, December 22, 2010


In accordance with this time of year, the theme was The Christmas Spirit. The prompt was a themed word list: Unearthly, Concealed, Attic and Shiver.

We are all familiar with the stories about the ghosts of Christmas and what effect encounters with them have had on the living. But can the reverse also be true? Can the effect be a mutual thing? Let's see. I present,


Sully Janofsky was pissed. It was Christmas Eve, the sky was going to dump a ton and a half of the white crap, and he had been looking forward to yet another uneventful holiday. But, no such luck. He had been up in the attic in an attempt at a brief change of scenery when he heard them come in. Sounded like a man, a woman, and what the fuck? Was that a kid? Hell. He would take a great deal of pleasure scaring the crap out of mom and pop, but kids were bad luck. They whined and cried and raised such a ruckus, it wasn’t near worth the effort. Maybe they wouldn’t be staying for the whole weekend, what with the big storm coming. Maybe they’re just lost and stopping to see if there’s a phone. Maybe Sully wasn’t really a ghost, cursed to forever inhabit this lousy cabin and roam the bear-infested lot it was on. Oh yeah. And a few maybe’s and a dollar might buy you a pack of smokes.

Sully could hear the man downstairs shouting obscenities at the woman and then he heard what sounded like a powerful slap. Wonderful, Sully thought, he’s a woman beater. A Class A mope. Of all the shit he had done in his life, one thing Sully wouldn’t put up with was a man who hits a woman. If a man really is a man, he should only fight another man. Use a fist, a knife, a .38, whatever’s handy, but whatever the beef, it should be handled man to man. He heard a door slam. Probably the woman went into one of the bedrooms. Just as well. The frames and doors were solid and strong. She’d be safe in there. But what about the kid?

He heard someone coming up the attic stairs and sat down on some boxes. No point in hiding, he thought, the living can’t see me. Sully found he could touch the living though, and pick up objects and throw them around if he wanted to. All that made it so much easier to run folks off. He wasn’t sure how all that worked, but there was no one to ask and he’d learned a long time ago to just use what you got. The door opened and in walked a little girl, probably around 8 or so. Pain in the ass like all kids, Sully was certain, but still a pretty little thing. Problem was, this one had the saddest eyes he’d ever seen. Like her world never stopped ending. Fuck. He wasn’t sure why or how, but Sully felt a headache coming on.

“I knew it,” the girl smiled a tiny smile. “I prayed you’d be here and you are. Are you going to be at my door when I go to sleep to watch over me? Is that how guardian angels work?”

Sully wasn’t sure what was happening here. If this kid was talking to him, that could only mean that she could see… Damn. Guardian what?

“Uh, kid?” he began, “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m not your guardian anything. I’m a spoo…, I mean, spirit, I guess, and don’t go getting all bent out of shape over it either. I’m getting a migraine and I don’t need any noise. See, I’m a very bad man, kid, and this is my Hell, I think, because I can’t leave this cabin or go past the property line. This guy double-crossed me awhile back and I fuc…, I mean, I messed him up real bad and he died. Then his partner, that I didn’t know about, splattered my brai…, shot me dead. I woke up here, this used to be my hideout, and I supposed this was what I got for crossing the line once too many times. Or some shi…, stuff like that. Anyway, this is my place, used to be, and I can’t stand having anybody around, so the three of you can just scram. Okay?”

It was like he hadn’t said a word because the girl just shook her head and there was that tiny smile again.

“It’s alright. I won’t bother you, guardian angel. I go to bed around seven because Richie says I should, so if you could stay by my door, that would be super. I have to go now and make Richie something to eat. That way, Mommy can rest some more after her accident. Love you.”

Why’d she have to go and say shit like that? Damn kids. But, still. Sully didn’t like the images running through his mind. Why does the kid want me to stand guard outside her bedroom door? Maybe this Richie-not-Daddy and he should have a spook-to-prick chat…

Sully waited until after the kid went to bed and he made sure her door was closed tight. Richie-not-Daddy was alone in the living room gulping beer, and never noticed Sully enter the room. Why can just this kid see me, he wondered. Creepy. Richie tossed the empty bottle into the fireplace and put on his coat and hat and went out the back door. Sully decided he’d pay for that move; ever hear of a garbage can? And, what the hell was he doing outside at this hour?

Sully couldn’t believe his eyes. The idiot’s out there with the back porch light on, digging a hole. Deeper and deeper. What? When Richie’s cell phone rang, Sully moved in closer. He didn’t want to miss a word.

“Yeah, we’re here and they’re both asleep. I’m digging a nice deep one out back here for her. Rachel gets up before anybody and gets her own breakfast. I’ll tell her I’ve got something to show her and then get her out here and a quick snap of the neck, into the hole, throw on a few leaves, and I’m rid of that little pest forever. I’m going to tell Rosie a bear grabbed her; nothing I could do. Then, I’ll shoot her up, we’ll come back to the city, and I can turn her out and she can make me some money. She won’t do squat as long as that pesky kid’s around. Okay. I’ll let you know. Later.”

Sully couldn’t believe what he had heard. First, he’s a woman beater. Second, probably a pedophile. Now, he’s going to murder a child? Well, we’ll just see about that. Sully peeked in on little Rachel and then on her mother. Mommy’s entire face was swollen and black and blue. No doubt Richie-not-Daddy had delivered so much more than a slap. Fucking coward.

Morning came and true to his word, Richie waited until Rachel finished her bowl of cereal and then told her he found something special out in the backyard. He took her small hand and led her out the door. Sully could see the child shiver at his touch. The edge of the hole was concealed behind a big pile of leaves. As they moved closer, Richie let go of Rachel’s hand and started to put them on her neck. All at once, he felt his left arm being pulled behind him and twisted, hard.

“What the fuck? Who’s there? What’s going…”

He took a hard punch to the back. Now, Sully was grateful for the being-able-to-touch thing. Rachel looked up, frightened.

“Don’t worry, kid. You go inside now, and get Mommy up and put your stuff in the car and go back home. Richie-not-Daddy and I are going to discuss good parenting practices and then he’s going to have an accident. You’re familiar with accidents, right, bud?”

“Who the fuck are you and what do you want? Are you one of those invisible unearthly things? Please don’t experiment on me. Take the woman and the kid. You’ll have a better time with them. I won’t tell anybody about this, I swear.”

Invisible what? That remark just reinforced what Sully already knew. This jerk double deserved what he was going to get this Christmas. He had prepared a big speech, but decided this scum wasn’t worth the effort. Just a quick snap of the neck and Richie-not-Daddy was tossed, and not gently, into the hole and covered with a few leaves. That way, Sully knew the bears wouldn’t have any problem locating their next meal.

Rosie took a quick peek out the back window after Rachel told her about Richie‘s accident. There was a small pang of guilt--her finally feeling free, and it being Christmas and all, but knowing the two of them would now be safe erased all of it. While she was packing the car, Rachel ran back inside, where Sully was waiting.

“Thank you, guardian angel,” she whispered.

Sully took the child’s face in his hands.

“I told you, kid, I’m no angel. And there’s nothing to thank me for. All I did was remove some trash from my cabin. Besides, I’m a really bad man. Remember?”

“Yes,” Rachel said with a smile. “I remember. Thank you again, and have a Merry Christmas.”

She gave Sully a big hug and ran to the car. Sully thought that for once in his miserable existence, he might be able to do just that.

While he didn’t expect to sprout wings and fly up into some Heavenly light, he did believe that if, in some far off corner of this fucked up universe, his Maker did briefly allow Himself a small grin on Sully’s behalf, that would be just enough.


  1. That was just great, Joyce. It was a perfect Christmas "crime caper" but with a very happy ending. Richie-not-Daddy got what he deserved and at the end we didn't care what Sully had done that was so bad. He was the bad guy turned good ghost!

    Well done, Joyce.

  2. Thanks, David. Glad you enjoyed it. I had fun trying to show the effect the living might have on a ghost!

  3. Excellent story! You know I actually believe the universe works like that in some fashion. Don't ask me how, I just have a hard time believing humanity has figured everything out and I've seem some wild stuff in my time and heard about even more.

  4. Aw heck, I think this is my favorite yet. A story of redemption! Scully's a great character... and now I feel happy, despite my cold! I enjoyed the different point of view, well done. Merry Christmas, Joyce!

  5. That was super, Joyce! I really enjoyed seeing things from the other side. I particularly liked him trying to censor himself.

    Well done!

    Thank you for such a great story. Merry Christmas!

  6. Absolutely brilliant, great atmosphere as ususal and with your subtle sense of humour, and so well told. I loved the ending Joyce.

  7. Hi Beach, Glad you enjoyed my little tale. I totally agree with you. There are things out there we will never understand, and I don't think they're necessarily bad either. I believe at times, maybe, when it's really needed, they serve to even the score? That's a nice thought, huh?

  8. Ingrid, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and I sure hope your cold is gone very soon. Colds at Christmastime are not a good thing. I really like Sully too. Even though what he did might not be considered the right thing, it was still 'the right thing' and I like to think his Maker did smile about it. Just a quick one...

  9. Hi Flannery, A very Merry Christmas to you! The idea of kind of reversing the point of view just popped in my head and I thought it would be cool to run with it. I was happy with the way my characters turned out, and I really like my 'bad man'. He's so bad, he watches his language when speaking to a child. Down deep, big Teddy Bear, I think! Glad you enjoyed it.

  10. Thanks so much, Richard. Glad you enjoyed this. Even the worst of times has to have some humor there. Glad I was able to mold Sully into the kind of character who would find some. No wings maybe, but perhaps a small smile for him? Sure hope so.