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Cherry Street

Started by gnimbley, August 06, 2005, 04:43:06 AM

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Friday, August 5

Frederick Mueller staggered out into the humid, hot night. He almost pulled his anonymous escort
service blond to the ground, his grip on her hand was so strong, but they held each other upright.
The girl laughed in an alcoholic daze.

"Fuck them. They had the worse wienershitzel... venerschmitzel..."

The girl put her hand on his shoulder and ran her wrist up the side of his neck. "Yeah, fuck them.
But give us a kiss first, love." She puckered and stumbled towards him.

"They should fucking kiss my ass." He walked off, oblivious to the girl's intent, but still with a iron
grip on her hand.

"Tonight won't be a waste, love. Besides, there's the mini-bar back in your hotel. I'm sure it's got

"Low life, fucking, churls. I bet the place is owned by Jews."

The street glistened from the remains of an early evening shower. Dark yellow light from soot
encrusted street lamps barely illuminated oil stained puddles and deltas of half washed waste. A
man wearing a greasy, tan jacket and dark, faded jeans approached the intoxicated couple.

"Say, listen, buddy, I gots..."

Frederick pushed the man back into a doorway where he tripped and fell against a rough stone wall.

"I ain't gots nothing for you, buddy."

"Say, love. That wasn't nice."

"What the fuck do I care?"

The couple swayed down Cherry Street. Sometimes the girl had to fall behind to keep from
colliding with parking meters and other objects of the urban landscape . But Frederick dragged her
on, his relentless grip compelling.

The street was a procession of concrete steps leading up to stark, metal doors or wooden ones with
iron bars like prison gates and the inevitable array of white call buttons, interlaced with slick,  mold
seeped steps funneling down like storm drains to black spaces hidden beneath the street.

Cold neon light illuminated the wrought iron tables and chairs of a late night deli. As they passed,
the door to the deli opened and a wash of refrigerated air congealed the moisture in Frederick's
clothes, icy fingers pricking the nape of his neck.

The man exiting the deli glanced over the pair. He wore a maroon beret, an open, starched white
shirt, and worn, black pants. Mild distain curled his lip.

"What you looking at, you fuck?"

The man turned away and walked off without saying a word. Frederick glowered after him.

"Come on, love, let's go to your room."

At first the sound seemed to be just part of the undercurrent of street noise, an automobile
accelerating, television spilling through an open window, the barking voices of a domestic quarrel,
footsteps. But here, in the quiet of the suddenly cool air, in the emptiness created by a momentary
distraction, in the eternity that lasts between one thought and the next, the sharp tic, tic, tic imprinted
itself on Frederick's mind.

It seemed to originate from the alley behind him, a dark recess in which only shreds of light dared
enter. Frederick strained hard to see in.

"Come on, love. You don't wanna go in there. The night's still young. Let's go back to your room
and party. What you say?"

Deep in the shadows Frederick thought he saw an even darker figure move ever so slightly, like a
cat stretching its spine, or a ghost taking a breath.

"Who's there?"

The girl yanked her hand out of Frederick's grasp as he stepped into the alley.

"What? Where you going?"

"I'm not going in there."

"Then just wait there 'til I come back."

Frederick moved tentatively into the gaping maw of the alley. Trash brushed against his shoes. A
faint smell of days old garbage, moist dirt, and just the hint of something sweet, chocolate perhaps.

The figure didn't seem move, but the tic, tic, tic was coming from where it seemed to stand.
Frederick stared at where the figure's hands would be and he thought he could just make out a
bony, emaciated hand working something over and over with its fingers.

Tic, tic, tic.

"Who are you?"

A hot, dry voice like a teasing, desert wind asked, "Why are you here?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why have you come to this place?"

Frederick laughed. "I came because Manny Gilbert said that place had good German food. The
little shit. I'm gonna pound his face when I get back to Baltimore."

"That's not why you're here."

The figure didn't move as much as the darkness got deeper, like a shadow when the moon
disappears. Hot, moist air flowed down Frederick's face and dripped off his chin.

Tic, tic, tic.

"You're here because you have a debt to pay."

"Who the hell are you?"

A thin, long strip of polished steel sliced soundlessly through the saturated night air. Stray threads
of light glistened off it like starlight reflecting in a midnight lake. Frederick opened his mouth but
could say nothing. His lungs drew in only the blood gurgling through the slash along the front of
his neck.

Frederick turned back towards where the girl still stood. His eyes saw horror erupt upon her face
and his ears heard her piercing scream, but his brain registered none of it, wondering only why it
was so much trouble to breathe. He fell headlong and crashed to the ground. His blood followed
the same path earlier taken by the rain and pushed some of the alley's filth a little further towards
the street.

The darkness withdrew deeper into the shadows until finally only the sound was left.

Tic, tic, tic.

And then even that was lost in the sounds of that hot, moist, summer night.

Buddha's Ghost Penis



Chapter One

Saturday, August 6

Karen Sorber had a bagel with lox but no cream cheese every Saturday morning at Kelley's
Midtown Deli.  

Mrs. Conner, who lived on the first floor of Karen's walk-up, always ordered a croissant made with
all natural ingredients. She was insistent everything be all natural and quizzed the counter boy about
its ingredients until she was satisfied she wouldn't be consuming some strange bio-toxins a farmer
in New Jersey had sprayed on his wheat field.

Whenever Rudy hired new help for the front counter, Mrs. Conner would ratchet up her all natural
interrogation. Rudy or Gus would patiently explain to the flustered newbie, "Yes. The butter is
organic" and "The eggs do come from free range chickens" and such.

Karen was sure Rudy got his croissants from big bags of frozen pastry that some mega-agri-
business dropped off every Tuesday morning.

Usually, Marie Clarke would join her. Marie had wanted to be a ballet dancer when she was a child
and still had the slender build, but she had panicked during a tryout when she was twelve and never
recovered. Her husband loaded trucks for Overnite Express. She was a bookkeeping assistant for a
Chevy dealer on West 33rd.

Marie came into the deli carrying the huge slab of red carpet she used for a purse, ordered a
cinnamon roll and coffee with too much milk, and proceeded to arrange her space at the table where
Karen sat. Marie picked up the strands of some conversation she had started with Karen, God know
when; not that it mattered since Karen wasn't required to contribute. She sipped black coffee and
watched her friend with amusement.

They hadn't been there five minutes when Billy Brookfield entered to pick up an order his mother
had called in. Billy was a pudgy, fourteen year old know-it-all and Karen could tell from his face
that he had something just pulsating inside waiting to get out.

After he picked up his order, he made a beeline for Karen and Marie.

"Did you guys hear about the murder last night? Some dude got his throat slit in an alley just down
the street. The best part is he was at the restaurant and my mom thinks she remembers seeing him."

"Did she wait on him?" asked Karen.

"Naw. He was at somebody else's table. Mom said that he was there with some hooker and they
both got trashed and got thrown out of the place. I wish I could have seen the guy, his throat all
slashed. I bet it was gross."

"Ew, Billy," said Marie. "I'm trying to eat breakfast."

"That's the third guy this year. I bet we got a serial killer stalking Cherry Street. Isn't this just the
coolest thing?"

"Oh, God, do you think so?" said Marie.

"Oh surely not," said Karen. "It's just a coincidence or something. Some out of town mafia guy.
They killed him here so it would be harder to figure out who did it."

"I worry about Chauncey sometimes, working nights and all," said Marie.

"Yeah, all of them happened at night," said Billy.

"You just take those donuts and get your punk little ass back home, Billy Brookfield," said Karen.
"Go on."

Karen would have slapped the smug smile off Billy's face if he were a bit closer. Billy wasn't sure
she wouldn't anyway, so he hastily left.

"There's nothing to worry about, Marie," said Karen. "The police will catch whoever did this and
that'll be the end of that. Probably won't even make the papers."

Marie packed up her carpet bag, a process that surprisingly took her almost no time at all. "I better
get back. Chauncey's uniform last night was covered in grease. Seems the regular transmission guy
didn't show up and he had to help work on the trucks. It's been soaking, but I probably should go
scrub it."

"You take care of that guy," said Karen. "It's hard to find someone as dependable as him."

"Yes, I'm lucky about that, aren't I?"

Karen trashed the remains of her breakfast and handed her empty porcelain mug, which as a regular
she was privileged to use, to the counter boy.

"It was in the alley that leads to the back," he said.

"What was?" said Karen.

"The murder that boy was talking about. When I came to work this morning there were still some
cops around. If you look in the alley you can see yellow tape. If you look real close, you can see the
chalk mark where they found the body."

"I think I'll skip having a close look," said Karen.

Karen turned left out the deli and she realized she would walk by the alley. The Scholar's Nook, the
used book store where she worked, was at 23rd and Cherry, just a short walk in that direction.

Even though Karen fought it, and felt a little ashamed of her morbid curiosity, she stopped and
looked down the alley. It had the look of all unattended urban spaces. Cigarette debris cluttered the
edges. Litter seemed pasted to the asphalt with grease. Some rusted out barrels waited for a garbage
truck that would never come.

The yellow tape was stretched across the middle of the alley. If she hadn't been looking, she would
have passed on the sidewalk and never seen it. The tape crisscrossed the alley and a stretch seemed
to disappear down its length.

Karen took a few steps in. She couldn't have said why, only that there was something about what
she was seeing that wasn't right. Things have a certain amount of sides. Edges meet and joints link
up. There was something in the alley that didn't make sense. Something defied her sense of
rightness. Something was out of place.

The first patch of yellow tape set off a square that was half as wide as the alley and twice that as
long. Some white scratches, undoubtedly chalk, crudely defined a man-like shape on the ground.
Some things, like the rusty barrels, had been moved. Most everything else looked just like she
imagined an alley would look. Trashy. Neglected.

It was the second set of yellow tape that didn't make any sense. It seemed to have depth, but no
width from where she stood. She moved closer, puzzled as to why she couldn't understand what
was wrong with it. She knew that once she figured it out, it would be obvious. But her mind just
could not grasp the significance of what she was seeing.

The police had laid out the tape for several feet, like they were marking one side of a square. But
there was only one side. The other three sides were not there. It was like they had wanted to cordon
off only a slice of the alley, just a fraction of an inch in width, but several feet long.

They had tied the tape up, off pipes that protruded from the wall. The center bowed down. She
stared at the center of the tape and at the alley beneath. But she couldn't see what possibly could
interest the police.

She looked up at where the tape was tied off. The tape didn't end at the pipes. It continue up the side
of the wall and came together some twenty feet in the air. The police hadn't cordoned off a section
of the alley. They had marked off a section of the wall.

That's where she saw it. About fifteen feet off the ground. A dark impression, a negative image, like
a frozen shadow on the wall. The image of a man. A man with wings.

Buddha's Ghost Penis




Chapter Two

Monday, August 8

Kevin was perusing a friend's entry on LiveJournal when his roommate, George, popped into the
room and said, "Mondo's got beer."

"Yeah, just a minute."

George changed into a tacky, pink Hawaiian shirt full of bare breasted mermaids. As he headed
back for the stairs he saw that Kevin was still sitting at the computer. He knew how to get his
roommate motivated.

"I saw Karen heading up there."

Kevin was trying to think up a witty retort when he heard the front door slam.

Kevin tried hard to keep his interest in Karen a secret. But he couldn't help that his eyes betrayed
him. It wasn't that she wore really low cut blouses or anything. But they were cut just low enough.

Karen wasn't a spectacular beauty. But Kevin's skin would flush when he got too close. That was
something else he tried to keep secret.

Sometimes he thought he should say something. Sometimes he thought he should buy a bus ticket
for Denver.

Kevin shut the computer down. He grabbed an open bag of pretzels - one shouldn't mooch
everything - and headed for the roof.

Kevin and George lived on the fourth floor of a five story walk-up. There were two apartments per
floor. Kevin and George shared the floor with a spooky guy named Roberts who always kept a
fedora slouched over his eyes. George thought the guy was a crack head. Kevin thought he just did
it to be mysterious, like he was playing spy or something.

Mondo was the rangy, old dude who lived on the fifth floor. He worked at a factory on the east
side. Every so often, never on a regular schedule and always without warning, Mondo would bring
home some beer and ice, cart them up to the roof, throw everything into a washtub, and proceed to
drink until the beer was all gone.

George was the first to discover Mondo's drinking habit and he had no qualms about asking
Mondo for a beer. What had started as a six pack had now grown into a couple of cases. Everyone
in the building, except for the Epsteins, the elderly couple who lived on the first floor, partook of
Mondo's beer. Even Mrs. Conner would join them once in a while.

On the roof, Kevin discovered the party in full bloom. Marie and Chauncey were there. Chauncey
would probably have only one beer since he worked nights. They were talking to Sharon
Brookfield who lived on the second floor with her son, Billy, who was trying, and failing, to
nonchalantly listen in on Karen and Roberts, who were animatedly talking about some book Karen

George and Mondo were sitting in lawn chairs with Rupert and Orrin, also who lived on the fifth
floor. George referred to them as the "ghey brothers" - you could actually hear the "he" in George's
voice - when he though no one but Kevin was around.

Kevin picked up a beer and drifted over to Karen.

"It could have been an ectoplasmic discharge. An energy spike that sprayed the wall," said Roberts.

"But this was distinct," said Karen. "Wouldn't some kind of energy discharge be all blurry?"

"Not necessarily. It could have been focused. Or parallel beams, like a laser."

"What are you guys talking about?" asked Kevin.

"I saw something the other day," said Karen. "Kind of hard of explain. A discoloration on a wall.
Just trying to figure out what it might be."

"Karen saw what killed that guy in the alley Friday night," said Billy. "She thinks it's some kind of
dark angel."

"I didn't say that," said Karen.

"You're kidding," said Kevin. "The guy that got knifed?"

"They said he had his throat slashed," said Billy. "He bled all over the place."

"Billy thinks it's all gross and cool," said Karen.

"What did you see?" asked Kevin.

"Just a discoloration on a wall, that's all," said Karen.

"It was some kind of avenging angel, come down to kill the wicked, like the Crow," said Billy.

"You saw Brandon Lee? Come back from the dead?" asked Kevin.

"No," said Karen. "I saw what looked like the outline of someone on a wall. It was dark and about
fifteen feet up. And it looked like the guy had wings."

"Wings?" said Kevin. "Was it some kind of painting?"

"I don't think so," said Karen. "It looked more like soot than paint."

"Artists will use most anything," said Kevin.

"It was in an alley, where nobody would notice it," said Karen.

"You saw it," said Kevin.

"Yeah, but that is only because the police had marked it with yellow tape," said Karen. "If they
hadn't done that I never would have seen it."

"This was where they found the murdered guy?" asked Kevin.

"Yeah," said Karen.

"Then it's simple," said Kevin. "The murderer and the artist are the same. He did the killing to draw
attention to his painting."

"Who would kill someone to publicize their art?" said Karen.

"I don't know," said Kevin. "Some artists are daft."

"I think it is clearly something supernatural," said Roberts.

"I don't believe in that stuff," said Kevin.

"That's not what George says," said Karen. "He says you believe in some Greek god."

"You mean Eris?" asked Kevin. "That's just a joke."

"A joke?" asked Karen.

"Yeah," said Kevin. "Something to pass the time. What's the book you have there. It looks old."

"It's Edelson's Bestiary," said Roberts. "Kind of the poor man's guide to supernatural creatures.
There are more definitive resources, but they are expensive, hard to find. There's a lot of errors in

"Well, if it's about supernatural beasts," said Kevin, "I imagine it's all in error."

"Mr. Hawthorne down at the book store gave it to me," said Karen. "I asked him if we had anything
about dark angels and he gave me this."

"Dark angels?" said Kevin. "That's what you thought you saw? A dark angel."

"Well, the impression of one," said Karen. "Maybe."

Mondo came by just then to collect them because they weren't drinking enough beer. He put his
arm around Karen and said, "If the world is my oyster, you are the peaches," the kind of thing you
would expect someone named Mondo to say.

Karen excused herself shortly. Kevin laughed at the Rupert's stories and George's jokes and
pondered Mondo's inscrutable adages.

When the beer ran out, everyone when back to their apartments. Kevin didn't go to bed right away,
even though his buzz wanted to. First he googled "Edelson's Bestiary." Later he left a post for some


Sweet. Thanks, gnome.
I love the dark type writing.
just like in a dream
you'll open your mouth to scream
and you won't make a sound

you can't believe your eyes
you can't believe your ears
you can't believe your friends
you can't believe you're here

Buddha's Ghost Penis



Chapter Three

Tuesday, August 9

For this one, you will have to click here.

Apologies to Bella, but your sweet little icon didn't seem appropriate.


What sweet little icon? :twisted:
just like in a dream
you'll open your mouth to scream
and you won't make a sound

you can't believe your eyes
you can't believe your ears
you can't believe your friends
you can't believe you're here


you are fucking brilliant
Coito ergo sum
O! Plus! Perge! Aio! Hui! Hem!
"You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy,the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the U.S. of arrogance, Germany doesn't want to go to war, and the three most powerful men in America are named Bush, Dick, and Colon.  --Comedian Chris Rock


just like in a dream
you'll open your mouth to scream
and you won't make a sound

you can't believe your eyes
you can't believe your ears
you can't believe your friends
you can't believe you're here

Eldora, Oracle of Alchemy

Quote from: gnimbleyChapter Three

Tuesday, August 9

For this one, you will have to click here.

Apologies to Bella, but your sweet little icon didn't seem appropriate.
That looks like a bit of work, and thank fluffy for the yeahright page, hehehe :lol:


Not as much work as it seems. Copy and Paste is your friend; along
with Find and Replace.

BTW, In Somnis Veritas means "In dreams there is truth."
Just thought you'd like to know.


Quote from: gnimbleyBTW, In Somnis Veritas means "In dreams there is truth."
Just thought you'd like to know.
Thanks - I thought it was something along those lines.
just like in a dream
you'll open your mouth to scream
and you won't make a sound

you can't believe your eyes
you can't believe your ears
you can't believe your friends
you can't believe you're here


What makes it so? Making it so is what makes it so.