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First pages

1. STARTING OVER

The rain beat violently down on my mother’s rusty Chevy Citation, as we traveled to Sherbrook, Maine to start our new lives. It had been a continuous downpour since we left Scranton, Pennsylvania at six this morning, and the rain was a depressing reminder of how much I was going to miss my old life. My name is Justin Spencer, and it is June 15, 1988: the day my mother and I decided to run away from our past. Being the stubborn 15-year-old that I am, I protested the move, but Mom ignored my pleas with deaf ears as usual.

How was I supposed to forget the only people I had ever known, and pretend as though the only life I had ever known never existed? On the other hand, I suppose I wasn’t going to miss it all that much.

The only friend that I had in Scranton-or anywhere for that matter—was Alex Reilly. Alex was a boy with a mild learning disability who had lived next door to me. We shared a common interest in old horror comics, such as: Tales from The Crypt, Adventures into Terror, and Dark Mysteries. We would spend hours during our Friday night sleepovers, just reading, and discussing these stories that never became tiresome to us.

Horror comics were our escape from the mundane, but that was about the extent of our friendship. Now that I think about it, I was probably going to miss Alex’s comic books more than Alex, himself. It’s kind of sad really.

I guess I’ve always been sort of a loner. I could tolerate people in small doses, but after a while, they would pierce my ears and nerves with every annoying mannerism that their bodies could conjure. This had been the world that I lived in, ever since I was old enough to think logically. I would put on a fake smile and carry on conversations with those who wanted me to speak, but on the inside, it was a chore that drained my body of all its energy. After such mental exhaustion, my body would require days of solitude and rest to fully recover. I sometimes wondered if my father had suffered as much as I had with being an introvert.

My father died when he was 28, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. I was still an unknown face in my mother’s womb when he passed, but Mom named me after him to honor his memory.

Mom didn’t talk about my father much, but certainly not because he was a terrible husband, who did awful things to her. It was quite the opposite; my father was a good man, who she missed greatly. I would sometimes catch her sobbing late at night, as she looked through old photographs of their wedding day. It killed me to witness Mom during these private moments, and so I avoided them when I could.

Mom wasn’t alone for long though, and she remarried a few years later, to a man named William Jacobs. I was around six years old and still naïve to the world when Mom brought William home to meet me. The idea of having a father figure in my life was something that I only dreamt of, and from that day forward, William became the only father I had ever known. Unfortunately, William was not the sort of dad I envisioned when I thought of role model fathers. I suppose my idea of an ideal father figure was distorted by my beliefs that every head of the household, was like your typical sitcom dad.

Unfortunately for me, the Steven Keaton’s, and the Ward Cleaver’s of the world were only mirages on a big dumb box. William was not the sort of stepfather that would take you fishing, or to watch a ballgame on a Sunday afternoon. That’s because William, was a functioning alcoholic—devoted to working his job as a security officer for the DMV—and drinking just enough alcohol to get him through the day. He didn’t start his real drinking until he arrived home, when he usually downed a twelve pack of Old Milwaukee, while taking shots of Jim Beam and cursing at the Pittsburg Pirates on the RCA.

During his spare time, he was usually emotionally and physically abusive to Mom and me. She finally had enough of William’s alcoholic, aggressive behavior, and asked for a divorce. This made William livid, to the point where his only response was to deposit his fist through the drywall of my mother’s bedroom. Despite a restraining order against him, and being served with divorce papers, he continued to call our house daily, with tear-filled promises of changed behavior. My mother was fearful, and wanted to protect me, and it was the only reason why we were moving away from Scranton.

I just don’t understand why we have to move to Maine. It could have been anywhere else and I would have been happy, but no, Mom had her heart set on Maine. There was no plan in moving, we just packed up what we could fit in the car, and left. My mother had a small savings, which she had been hiding from William, and she was going to use it to get us as far away from him as possible (her exact words). I always pictured myself living somewhere a bit more exotic and interesting. New York City, or even California, but those were just fantasies I had while lying in my bed at night.

To a 15-year-old boy, Maine seemed to be one of the least interesting places on earth; nevertheless, we were on our way there now, and there was no turning back. Mom had been mostly quiet since we left Scranton this morning, barely taking her eyes off the road to look at me—other than to ask me if I needed to use the restroom. The distance between us was unbearable at times, both of us not knowing exactly what to say to comfort the other. I imagine this decision to move must have been a struggle for her, but I know her love for me was the compass that pointed us in this direction. It was just her and I from now on, much like when my father passed away and we struggled to make a life for ourselves. This was the struggle all over again, except this time, we were not just sad, but fearful as well.

We knew William to be a violent drunk—but would he find the determination to look for us in our new town? I felt that him looking for us seemed like a long shot, given his lack of enthusiasm for anything other than alcohol. But, if he did try, in some last desperate attempt to find us, I believe the played-out scenario would be something that I refer to as the three D’S: Drink, Drive, Die.

This comes from knowing that his driving was a reckless endeavor, due to a constant state of intoxication.

I can honestly say, I have never seen William sober since he has been in our lives. Mom did much of the driving for William, and the task of taking him to work, and the liquor store became a daily routine. I was not afraid of him finding us, but Mom seemed to be worried about what he would do if he found us living happily somewhere without him. I tried explaining to her, that he could barely find the balance to aim straight into the toilet, and that he would most likely crash and die, long before he reached the state line out of Pennsylvania. This brought her some comfort, but Mom has always been a worrier, and there was nothing I could say, or do, to change that.

Mom was an attractive woman of forty-three, with golden hair, sun kissed skin, and a contagious laugh, that would cause her nose to snort like a pig when she really got going. An only child, her mother named her Bethany, after her great grandmother, but she preferred to be called Beth. Her parents both passed away a few years ago, so she was alone now—except for me, of course.

I never knew what Mom saw in William, a man with the personality of a dried prune, and a face to match. He was only two years older than my mother, but years of smoking and drinking made him look considerably older. To say that they were an odd couple would be an understatement. It has always been my belief, that when my father died, Mom gave up on finding love again, by settling for the vilest human being she could find. I felt that Mom being with William, was her way of punishing herself for not being in the car with my father on that fateful night.

It was the only reasoning that made sense to me, to explain why such a smart, beautiful woman would ever consider marrying a jerk like William. It sure wasn’t his charming personality that reeled my mother in, but whatever it was, he managed to convince her into marrying him.

I always pictured Mom with someone handsome, such as a Pierce Brosnan, or a Harrison Ford type. I secretly hoped that she would find love again, and that maybe, our new town would introduce her to some new people.

I didn’t know much about our new town, other than it being close to the fishing docks, and that they held a carnival every Fourth of July. Mother was there once as a child, stopping with her family on the way to Acadia National Park for their annual family vacation. Although her stay at Sherbrook was short, she never forgot the quiet beauty of the town. The peaceful sounds of the waves beating against the rocky shore, and the smell of the salty air surrounding the town; at least that’s how she described it to me. I found quiet beauty to be quite boring, and as much as I was not a people person, I still longed for the loud noises that only a big city could bring. Quietness hurt my brain, with intrusive thoughts, and memories of yesterday’s regrets. I know it sounds silly, but I needed chaos in my life, to forget about the chaos in my life.

We have just reached the state line into Maine, and I can feel the anxiety creeping over my body. It feels as though I have been sitting in this car forever, but the watch on my wrist reminds me that it is only noon. Goodbye, New Hampshire, I say to myself, as we leave the state behind. I didn’t actually see much of New Hampshire—other than a dirty truck stop, and what I managed to see flying by my window at 55mph. This is becoming a reality now, and what was once just a blank canvas in my brain a few hours earlier is now painting its landscapes into my mind.

The rain has stopped, and for the first time since we left Scranton, the sun appears to be breaking through the clouds. It was a promising sign, and Mom looked over at me and smiled, while turning the radio dial to some New Wave channel. “Are you getting hungry?” she asked. “There is a diner at the next exit and we can grab a bite to eat, if you’d like?”

It was the first time Mom had spoken to me in over an hour. She seemed calm and at ease, as the sun gleamed through the windows and onto her face, showing her age. Moving to Maine is not something I wanted, but I did enjoy seeing her happy.

“Yeah, I can eat,” I said, “besides, I need new batteries for my Walkman.”

“Ok, maybe we can look for a RadioShack or something.”

My Walkman was my escape from reality. It helped to block out William, on nights, when all I could hear was him shouting at my mother in a drunken stupor, speaking in meaningless rambles, on anything from politics, to the black neighbors who lived across the street. The man had no filter when it came to unleashing his propaganda on the unwilling, but luckily for me, I had my Walkman to block out his dimwitted rhetoric.

Mom pulled off the exit and into the town of Tall Oaks, where we stopped at Luke’s Diner.

The place looked as though it had been erected sometime during the First World War, and probably hadn’t changed much since. The structure was a bizarre shaped atrocity, that appeared to be made from aluminum and tin, with a rusty old sign hanging on top, that read: Luke’s Diner. I felt as though a tetanus shot was needed before entering, but what the hell—I was hungry. It was a quarter after twelve now, and despite the outside of the diner looking dilapidated, I was hoping the food would make up for the lack of curb appeal.

“Are we really that hungry to eat here?” Mom said, with a wary look on her face, as we stepped through the front door. She seemed to be half joking, but I couldn’t be sure.

There was a musty odor to the place. An odor that comes from the smell of water that lay stagnant for an undetermined amount of time. It was evident to my nostrils, that the ventilation in this place was little to nonexistent. Two elderly gentlemen sat at the counter, smoking their Lucky Strikes, and observing us with glassy eyes. The place was humid, with no working air conditioner, and only a small ceiling fan that continued to blow dust and smoke amongst the small confines of the establishment.

A middle-aged woman came out from around the counter and greeted us with a smile, introducing us to her yellow, decaying teeth. “Sit anywhere you’d like, and I’ll be with you shortly,” she said, with a cigarette hanging from her lip. We moved to the back of the diner and found a booth by the window, hoping, that we could somehow avoid the lingering smoke that was circulating throughout.

I raised my eyebrows to my mother, as if to question our decision for stopping at such a place. After about two minutes, the waitress walked over to our table and handed us two menus.

“Welcome to Luke’s Diner,” she said, with an overly enthusiastic tone. “My name is Bridget, and I will be your server this afternoon. Can I start you off with something to drink? Perhaps a soda pop, or a freckled milkshake?”

I’d never heard of a freckled milkshake, and quite frankly, I was in no hurry to find out. My mother looked up from her menu and ordered a coffee, black, and a glass of water with no lemon.

“I’ll have a can of Cola please,” I said to the waitress as she took the orders, and retreated to the kitchen.

I usually ordered my soda in a glass, but I could see no reason to play daredevil in a diner that looked as though it was a former fallout shelter during the war.

“What are you hungry for?” Mom inquired.

“I don’t know, everything looks so appetizing,” I said with a hint of sarcasm. “I suppose anything that won’t make me violently ill.”

Mom smiled, and reminded me of Grandma Millie’s house—where it always stunk of cooked cabbage and cigarettes—but whose delicious meatloaf dinners could turn any hardcore vegetarian into a raging carnivore. God, how I missed her meatloaf, I thought.

“How bout we just give the place a chance; who knows, perhaps this place is a diamond in the rough,” Mom said with a smile.

The waitress returned with our beverages, and asked if we were ready to order. Mom ordered a turkey club with a side of French-fries. I played it safe, and ordered a grilled cheese with tomato soup. It seemed like a dish that even a disastrous cook such as myself would have difficulty in screwing up. The waitress scribbled something down in her notepad, thanked us, and walked away.

The whole diner seemed like something out of the Twilight Zone. A few local oddballs, sitting at a mysterious diner, in the middle of God knows where, seemed like the beginning of a mystery to me. It was a mystery I did not care to solve, and I most definitely did not want to be a part of it.

The men seated at the counter made me feel uneasy with their occasional stares, as they sipped their coffees and made incoherent chatter.

The whole thing was downright unnerving. Mom seemed more focused on her coffee cup, and whether the proportioning of her creamer was off balance with the consistency she was seeking. It seemed to me, that she had a lot more than coffee on her mind, as she stared blankly at her cup.

“Where are we going to stay when we get to Sherbrook?” I said, to break up the silence for a moment.

“I suppose we can stay at a motel for the night, and then look over the classifieds in the morning for a place to rent. I also need to look for a job,” she said with a sigh.

Mom had always been a stay at home Mom, and never had a regular nine to five job—so, I could understand her frustration. She had always depended on my father, or William, to bring home the paycheck, while she worked around the house, cooking and cleaning—not to mention, trying to keep me out of trouble.

“I guess I can try to get a job as a waitress or a housekeeper,” she said, trying to be optimistic. “Besides, those are the only things I have ever been good at.”

“Things will work out,” I said, “the main thing is we have each other.”

She smiled, and put her hand over mine. I smiled back and embraced the moment.

The moment was quickly interrupted by the waitress approaching the table with our lunch.

“One grilled cheese on white with tomato soup for the boy, and a turkey club with fries for the lady,” she said, as she set our meals down on the table. “Can I get you anything else, a refill perhaps?”

“No thanks,” Mom said, without asking if I needed anything. “Well, I have to admit, the food does look edible, and dare I say, delicious.”

I hesitantly picked up the grilled cheese sandwich and inspected it. No moldy breed, and from what I could tell, no bugs in my soup. That was good enough for me. I immediately dipped the grilled cheese into the tomato soup. The bread soaked up the tomato like a sponge, and melted the cheese into a creamy sauce. I took a bite, much too large for my mouth, as cheese dripped from the sandwich and onto my plate.

Mom took a bite of her turkey club, and we looked at each other, nodding in approval. The food turned out to be better than expected, but the people were another story. To say that they were creepy and weird, would be an understatement. I wondered if all the locals in Maine were this suspicious of outsiders.

We finished our lunch, and Mom excused herself to use the restroom. I noticed the men eyeballing her and whispering, as she walked by them.

I couldn’t tell if they were checking her out because they thought she was attractive, or because they were simply suspicious of her character. I guess they would be right on both accounts, I thought, as I sipped the last of my soda. The last slurp of my straw echoed within the empty can, and was loud enough to draw their attention back to me, as I pretended not to notice. I sucked loudly on the straw a few more times, just to tick them off for being creepy old men, and smirked ever so slightly as I did. After a few minutes, Mom walked out of the restroom, and paid the bill. The old men sat there, silently watching like crows on a telephone line.

“Thank you, come again,” the waitress said, as we walked away to leave.

When we arrived outside, Mom looked at me and said, “Was it just me, or were those old men being terribly rude by staring at us?”

I chuckled, unaware that Mom was more observant than I gave her credit for. “I didn’t want to alarm you by saying anything in there, but yeah, they were staring,” I said.

“I’m just glad to be out of there!” she exclaimed, as she rolled her eyes.

“Me too,” I said, as I opened the passenger side door. The sweltering heat that had been trapped inside the car escaped across my body, and I took a step back. I was not prepared for this unique sort of heat that was more suitable for the Caribbean.

“I thought Maine was supposed to be cooler than this?” I said, as I wiped the beads of sweat from my forehead.

“Yeah, it does seem unusually hot for Maine, now that I think about it. You might as well enjoy it while it lasts, because Maine is known for its bone-chilling winters.”

I suddenly pictured myself on a Florida beach, soaking up the sun’s rays. God, I’m dreading Winter in Maine.

“This is the last stop before we get to Sherbrook,” Mom said, as she pulled the map out of the glove compartment and pointed to our current location. “It should only be about 35 more miles, and then we will be in our new city, and starting our new lives.”

It was hard to imagine another city and state making its imprint on my heart the way Scranton had. Scranton was as dull as any other city, I suppose, but I felt a certain attachment to the place—after all, I did invest fifteen years of my life there.

I leaned back into my seat with my Walkman on, when I realized that Bowie was singing slower than usual. “Mom, we need to stop for batteries; my Walkman is almost dead.”

“How come you didn’t remind me when we left the diner?” she huffed.

“C’mon, Ma, Bowie sounds like he is singing in subliminal messages.”

“We can stop when we get to Sherbrook, besides, we only have a few miles to go, so just listen to the radio.” She turned the radio dial to one of her Top 40 stations that I despised so much. I sighed, knowing all too well that I had lost this battle with Mom. Once she made up her mind, there was no point in arguing further. Mom might have taken William’s crap on a daily basis, but she sure as hell wasn’t about to answer to her 15-year-old son. I had learned over time, that it was never a good idea to argue with her, because I always lost—no matter if I believed I was right, or not.

The songs flickered with static and broken verses, as I took in the views from my window. The cars flew by us, as Mom complained about everyone else’s driving. She had this habit of driving slower than the listed speed limit, and it drove me—along with everyone she shared the road with—crazy. Just once, I wanted to see her go over the speed limit.

I lounged back into my seat and closed my eyes, as I listened to the white noise of the radio, quietly whispering in my ears, as I drifted off to sleep.

Mom tapped me on the shoulder, as I wiped the drool from the side of my lip. “What time is it?” I said, as I blinked continuously, trying to adjust my eyes to the sun.

“It’s time to get up,” she said, as she handed me her sunglasses.

I took the sunglasses, fully aware that they were women’s, and put them over my sleepy eyes. “I’m so tired,” I said, with a yawn. I looked up and saw that we had stopped at a motel called the Leisure Inn.

“Wait here, I’m going to book us a room for the night,” Mom said, as she stepped out of the car.

The once white paint on the walls of the motel had succumbed to the elements, and were in desperate need of a fresh coat. The place needed a full renovation, or maybe just a bulldozer. Two cars were parked outside, most likely belonging to the staff. Who in their right mind would want to stay at a place like this? I wondered.

A few anguished faces peered from their windows, as if they were uncomfortable to see new guests arriving for something other than sex or drugs. I hated the thought of sleeping on a bed, where numerous acts of God-knows-what had occurred. I pictured a floor covered in used syringes, and empty condom wrappers, left from Johns, and women looking to make a quick dollar.

I knew money was tight, but couldn’t Mom find anything better than this?

After a few minutes, Mom walked out of the motel office, smiling, and dangling the keys of our new room in her hand. I reluctantly walked to the back of the car and removed my two burgundy suitcases, as I followed behind her.

“Here it is,” she said, as she pointed to the door.

I looked up at the door, while trying to adjust my eyes to the blinding sun, and noticed it was room thirteen.

Oh God, I thought. Thirteen has always been a bad omen for me. I was born into this world fatherless, on the thirteenth day of October.

Thirteen was the number of students in my Science class that I failed miserably. And on my 13th birthday, William came home drunk from the bar and decided I was old enough at thirteen to challenge him in a game of drunk boxing—except this was no game. It was a match that had left me with two black eyes, a busted lip, and my body looking like a Smurf for two weeks.

He insisted it was a rite of passage into adulthood, and believed it would make me stronger—it didn’t. When he sobered up, and saw the results of his actions all over my beaten body, he laughed. He then threatened, that if I ever told Mom about what had occurred, that her bruises would make mine look like mosquito bites. When Mom awoke the next morning, and saw me struggling to walk, she was livid. I had to lie to her, and made up some elaborate story, about a gang of neighborhood kids who had jumped me for $2.50, and my brand-new pair of Adidas shoes that she had recently bought me for my birthday. God, I loved those shoes, and it killed me to toss them into the dumpster for my lie to seem believable.

To this day, I never told her the truth about the incident, and I am sure she would have picked another room if she knew about my poisoned relationship with the number thirteen.

Mom eased the key into the lock and turned the doorknob, as I closed my eyes, imagining this was some five-star hotel resort that catered to the rich and famous. I shook my head and followed behind her as we entered the unlit room.

“Open those curtains and let’s get some sun in here,” she said, as she tossed her suitcase on the bed.

I yanked the curtains open, as the sun projected a sea of dust particles that seemed to dance throughout the room like little fairies making their escape from Neverland.

“So much for leaving a tip for the housekeeper,” Mom said, trying to make light of the situation. I collapsed onto my bed and suddenly jumped back up, realizing that I hadn’t checked for bed bugs. I recalled the story of young Jonathan Baily: a boy in my English class, who spent his Christmas vacation at Lake George, New York, and came home with a suitcase full of bed bugs. A notice was given to the students and faculty, after someone observed one of the insects around his book bag during lunch. Due to health hazards, he was banned from school until his parents hired an exterminator to get rid of them. When he finally returned to school after two weeks, his story had spread like wildfire throughout the halls of Scranton elementary. Once a semi-popular boy, who was starting to rise through the ranks of popularity—now he had become the target of constant ridicule and bullying. The bullying eventually had gotten so bad, in fact, that his parents had to send him to a private school out West, and I never heard of him, or his bed bugs ever again.

I have never been one to care about what others thought of me, but nevertheless, I did not want to start off my reputation in a new school with a label associated with bed bug infestation. I saw first-hand what that sort of thing could do to someone’s school status, and I was not about to become a victim like the unfortunate Jonathan Baily. I have always managed to stay under the radar, and I preferred not to draw any unwanted attention from bullies just looking for an excuse to start trouble.

I carefully looked over the white sheets and blankets that appeared to have surrendered to the elements of the room’s past tenants. Mom looked at me as if I had two heads, as I cautiously made my way around every inch of the mattress, while being ever so careful not to miss a spot. Dried drops of blood, cigarette burns, and what looked to be semen, or mucus, were scattered throughout the bed like a bullet-ridden blanket of human waste.

“I cannot sleep here. I have no idea what’s on this bed, but I am not sleeping in it,” I said, as I flung the sheets on the floor. I pointed to some dried-up spots of God only knows what. “This here is a breeding ground for parasites just looking for a host to attach itself to.” Having literally read hundreds of comics about insects and parasites that had taken over entire cities, I believe I had enough knowledge to know, that it never ends well for the humans who have the unfortunate luck of running into them.

“C’mon Justin, work with me here. It’s one night and that’s it. I promise, no dirty motels after tonight,” she said to me, as she gave me those damn puppy dog eyes.

Damnit, I hated when she gave me that look. She did that to me, knowing damn well that it gets me every time. “Fine,” I said hesitantly, “but It doesn’t mean I’m going to like it.”

“I don’t expect you to like it. I certainly don’t, but we both have to start making sacrifices until we can get on our feet.” Mom, grabbed a metal ice bucket lying on the floor, and handed it to me.

“What do you want me to do with this?”

“Go outside and see if you can find us some ice, and if you can’t, then go to the office and ask the manager.”

“Come on, Mom, can’t it wait until later?”

She gave me this stern look and started to open her mouth to speak, but before she could say another word, I just said, “fine,” and walked out.

I looked to my left and then to my right, to make sure that the path was cleared of junkies and weirdos. I heard some muffled bickering between two people, as I made my way slowly past the rooms of the motel. I noticed that each door was painted a different color, and that some of the rooms were missing the numbers on the front. “What a dump,” I grumbled under my breath, as I made my way around the building.

The sun was especially unkind on the other side of the motel, where there seemed to be less shade, and less paint on the walls. It was a simmering heat, that caused me to sweat profusely from my forehead, and drip into my eyes. Hot enough to make my shirt stick to me like scotch tape. I don’t know why I expected Maine to be cooler, maybe it was something I read in a Steven King novel, I thought.

“You lost, boy?” a raspy woman’s voice called out to me, as I walked aimlessly in search of ice.

“Excuse me,” I said, as my eyes searched for the source of the voice.

“In here, boy, room 21,” the woman’s voice called out once more.

I approached the room slowly, where I noticed the door slightly ajar, and a woman’s eye gazing at me from within. “Don’t be afraid—I don’t bite,” she said. Her iris, a cloudy grey, surrounded by puffy dark circles, and crow’s feet radiated from the outer corner of her eye. “What’s your name, son?” she said, as she opened the door slightly more.

“Justin,” I said as I stumbled backwards a bit. “My mother and I, are staying on the other side of the building in room thirteen. You wouldn’t happen to know where I could find an ice machine around here, would you?” I held up the empty bucket and the woman gazed at it for a moment before opening the door. The smell of burning incense lingered through the breeze, and rushed up through my nostrils, causing me to bellow out a hefty sneeze. “Aww Choo.”

I looked up to see a mahogany skinned woman standing before me, her best days far behind her, with a black eraser size mole on her left cheek— that I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off. She clutched her ebony cane with her weathered hands, that appeared to have seen their fair share of hard labor throughout the years. A faded tropical Mumu, embraced her disproportioned body, as she leaned in like a hunchback to greet me.

“My name is Amelia,” she said. “Now what can I do for you?”

“Huh… but you called out to me,” I said, slightly confused.

“Yes, but you’re lost. I can tell when someone is lost. It’s the kind of thing that sort of becomes second nature when you been around as long as I have. Why don’t you come in for a moment, and we will discuss your problem. I might have the answers that you seek.” And with that, she turned around, and headed back into her room without saying another word.

“I really can’t stay,” I said. “If you could just point me in the direction of the nearest ice machine, I sure would appreciate it. My mother is expecting me any minute now with some ice, and if I’m not back soon, she’s going to give me hell.”

“She can wait, Justin. What I have to tell you is far more important than a bucket of ice.” She motioned for me to come inside, almost hypnotically.

I gradually walked in, with my curiosity leading the way. I was intrigued enough by what she wanted to tell me, and curious, about the candles and tarot cards placed on her table, that I managed to get a glimpse of while rubbernecking over her shoulders.

“Close the door, and let us have some tea,” she said, as she looked back and smiled.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Brian Rush lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he spends his time writing, playing guitar, and singing hits of yesterday and today.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
I was inspired to write the book many years ago but I wasn't sure where to begin. Then one day it came to me in a dream, and the rest is history.
Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
I am a huge horror and mystery fan, and I was inspired for my love of both to write this novel.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
Falling in love with the characters, and not knowing what they are going to do next. It is as if the characters have a mind of their own.

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