" My Ex-Wife took everything from me " Corrin Ails said to no one in particular as he waited in line for the doors to the Village Place Mall to open.
"She took my home and my record collection and she even took my old photo album.
All that I had in there were pictures of me with my pets and dressed up at Halloween and I think there was one of me a holding a Brady Bunch lunchbox when I was 9 . Oh, and there were about four pictures of me on my first bike.
She told me I was an ugly kid. So what did she want with my childhood pictures?"
The woman standing in front of Corrin turned around and told him " I cut my wedding dress up and used it to scrub the kitchen floor the day I found out my ex-husband was getting remarried. I made that dress. Then I mailed it to his new wife. She slapped me with a restraining order and now I have to take anger managment classes. People do weird things when the realize a relationship is truly over."
" She burned that album on my front lawn " Corrin Ails went on "then the fire spread and burned my house down and she even killed me dog with rat poison. She used him to start the fire."
" No way. " the man standing in back of Corrin said.
" 'fraid so- three fire fighters died trying to put that thing out. "
" I heard about that, " the woman said have they caught her yet? "
" No. "
" I'd like to catch her " the Man in front of Corrin said, " I'd like to catch her in the headlights of my car if you get what I mean."
The Woman in front of Corrin said " she sounds like a bad woman."
" Her family used to call her Tiny Tina Dahl...just like that. It was her nickname...and no one seemed to care that it sounded like some freaky Special Edition collector's toy you get for buying something really big and expensive. Tiny Tina Dahl...she's so sweet and great with poisons and fire. Get your free Tiny Tina Dahl with your next purchase."
There was a chorus of snickers and Corrin went on. " Tiny Tina Dahl would take anything she could get her hands on...your house, your clothes, your money the Twinkies you keep hidden in your desk drawer at work for munchie attacks."
" Wow, she wasn't bad she was just evil. " someone further down the line said.
" Yeah " Corrin said " she was pretty good at taking things...she even stole my heart and she left me with nothing."
" You seem like a nice enough guy " the Woman said " you'll find someone new. You certainly won't find anybody WORSE."
Corrin reached for the top button on his shirt and said as faint as a dieing man's last breath, " You don't get it she stole my heart and left with me nothing "
Mattie Greaves sat across from Mr. Sawyer Day, the owner of a small and all but forgotten funeral home in Seattle, Washington and together they were quietly discussing a suitable coffin for Mattie's husband Tabor.
" My husband is a practical man " Mattie told Mr. Day " and he wouldn't like anything with those fancy gold handles and he certainly wouldn't approve of things like this " Mattie was pointing at a catalog opened to a glossy page of coffins painted blue and gold and even black with ducks and eagles flying around their edges.
" I understand " Mr. Day said " and I have several models for you to consider that are more traditional. I'm sure we can find one here that your husband would approve of. "
Mr. Day is almost 65 and he had taken over Morning Ridge Funeral Home from his Mother's family right after he had turned 30. He had started working there right after he turned 16 so that means that for over 50 years Mr. Sawyer Day had heard and seen it all.
So when Mattie Greaves asked if the traditional model she was looking at came with a comfortable pillow Mr. Day didn't even look up. " From what I understand it does, however in the past some of our families have brought in their own blankets and pillows. "
" My husband is very fond of candy as well. " Mattie whispered. " Now his doctor told him he needs to give up sweets but you know, he's along in years and he's been through so much. I ask you Mr. Day how could I take away his salt water taffy?"
" My Mother was the same way, she was fond of her Cuban Cigars. Not only did she refuse to give them up we could never figure out how she got her hands on them to begin with. In the end, we just let it go."
" So of course I can..."
" Of course you can Mrs. Greaves, whatever you think would have made your husband happy."
After going through a few more books Mattie decided on a solid oak model with bronze handles and a lovely cream colored liner. She passed on the flowers.
" He's allergic " she told Mr. Day.
Mr. Day and Mattie went through numbers and she was about to pull out her check book when Mr. Day said, " We're almost finished Mrs. Greaves all we have to do is discuss your choice of a grave liners..
Mattie dropped her checkbook on the table and looked at Mr. Day for almost two minutes before her face turned a little red and tears welled up in her eyes., " Oh my, that sounds so final."
" Mrs. Greaves, I'm very sorry. I don't mean to rush you. If you need more time to go over..."
" No Mr Day...you've been very kind and patient with me. It's my fault. I'm the one who has been doing the rushing. I should have explained...my husband just needs a coffin until the one he normally uses arrives from back home."
Blaze Godfredo lives out on Old Creek Road- most of the Godfredo Family have lived out on Old Creek Road long before Washington became a state and if you want to hear any stories about the infamous ghost town called Fallen you can ask Blaze.
His Great Grandmother, Tanis Blaze won the town in a card game back in the 1920's but that's another story.
So when he was a kid Blaze used to play on the grounds of an abandoned insane asylum haunted by the Black Monk of Fallen and to add along with that interesting bit of family history you might be interested to learn that Blaze's Great Great Grandmother had the dubious honor of being the one and only woman on the West Coast too be hung for Witchcraft.
" That's a rotten shame Blaze " some people would say when he would tell that story.
" Oh heck, what can I say? It was true..Bartsia wasn't one of those poor creatures that they burned at the stake on trumped up charges....no Sir. Bartsia was an honest to goodn-well, Bartsia was the real thing. She was a fire and brimstone demon conjuring type of gal and she'd just as soon cut your heart out and feed it to her cat as look at you."
Old Creek Road was where they hung Bartsia from the infamous Devil's Tree. The tree is where Bartsia was supposed to have done her deals with the Devil herself
The people of Fallen hung her there ....twice.
In order to rid themselves Bartsia some of the people who lived in Fallen had to do some deals themselves at that tree and it was about another 100 years before they got that mess with Bartsia worked out.
Afterwords Fallen was a ghost town and no one in Snohomish County will go near it let alone admit it's still up there.
Of course you can find it if you want.
There's this town called Cascade Ridge that you have to drive through to get to Fallen and that's where Blaze lives out on Old Creek Road where he runs his business right out of his home.
Whenever someone in Cascade sees cars pull up to Blaze's house where a sign says, " Blaze Godfredo's Haunted Washington Tours " they just stand there and cry and wonder how much longer that old man is going to live for.
That's how Blaze makes a living and no one has ever considered telling him to stop the flood of people in black clothes and show up in droves during Halloween. On a practical note it goes without saying that no one really wants to mess with a man who has a genuine Witch buried out on his property
Anway, that's what Blaze does.
He takes little groups of people up to Fallen and to Old Creek who are ghost hunters and people who fancy themselves to be Vampires and Witches and he tells them all about Fallen.
Some of them just get angry at his stories and the rest just get scared but nobody walks away feeling like they'd been had.
One year this writer from Seattle took the tour and as Blaze walked her back to her car she stopped and asked, " You know Blaze, these stories of yours are top drawer- but I'm curious. All these stories about The Creek, they're about other people. You've lived out here your entire life and except for that trip to Hawaii you told us about on the way up to Fallen it doesn't sound like you've been much more the 100 miles away from here. You must have seen or been through something yourself. Come on Blaze, where do you fit into this story? "
Blaze shrugged, " Well, it's my family's history you know and I'm not the adventurous type and on the whole I'd have to say my uneventful life would affirm that sad fact."
" Yeah, sure Blaze...come one what's your story? "
Blaze held his arm out and the writer, a woman named Honor took it and they walked up to Blaze's porch and he told her about what happened to him 40 years ago out on Old Creek Road.
" No doubt about it, my family has a dark history- and the one thing I know about darkness, it creeps from the corners. Think about it there, nothing bothers people more then the things they see from the corners of their eyes. It's because the things you see there have creeped up on you.
And then they either creep away or just disapear and then you get that trickle of sweat running down your spine...You know what mean don't you."
" Back in the 1960's there wasn't any lights out on the highway that hooks Old Creek up to Snohomish County and the rest of the world. But that didn't stop people from driving their cars like the Devil was chasing them...well, you know sometimes....but for the most part people were just careless and stupid or drunk and stupid and they'd miss the road that leads to bridge over the Creek and they would end up smashed to pieces in the ravine."
"So one winter we hear about this car full of college kids that disapeared on their way back from Seattle- they were headed up to Everett and they never made it."
" Well that year my wife gets it in her head that she wants a fresh cut tree for Christmas and I'm the good guy right? I actually do it, I take an ax out into 30 degrees of ice and snow and go and cut her a tree. But that wasn't so much to do for a woman who was willing to live out here just to be with me. She was a good Gal " Blaze said with a smile " Really Good...and kind. Anyway I go out and find her a nice blue spruce and I'm on my way home when just before I get to the bridge I hit a dog and it bounces off my hood and takes a dive right over the bridge into the ravine."
" Wouldn't you kno it? Just as I get out of my car that dog comes flying up the bank and with a busted leg it's got it's tail between it's legs and Honor...that dog is screaming, not howling- it's screaming. "
" So I go over to the railing and look down and I see this black patch- it's perfectly square and black and I realize what I'm looking at his the undercarriage of a car and I figure out the screaming I'm hearing didn't come from the dog- it was coming from the car."
" I slide and crawl down into that Ravine the best I can and just as I come up on the car I start seeing what look like body parts scattered all of the place and I figure the animals have been visiting the car for a snack or two and then I see this hand come from the window on the passenger side and I'm about to pass out when I hear someone say, " please get me out they're getting closer....please get me out."
" Sure enough there was a lady still alive in that car and I figure she'd been down there for almost four days with those dead bodies."
" God " Honor whispered.
Blaze looked up from his memories and the look on his face was confused. " Oh no, no, no God was down in that Ravine, wasn't nothing down in there but death and if you know Death you know how it doesn't like to share space with anybody or anything...."
Honor shrugged. " I'll give you that. "
" Anyway, I reach down and grab the hand and that woman just slides out on a trail of blood and ice and I'm pretty sure she cut herself up pretty good when she came out. But before I could help her up she turned over and got up on her knees and was holding herself up with one arm and she was holding her other arm to her chest. Then she jumps up grabs my hand and says, " come on, we have to get out of here. I can hear them....let's go!"
" Who? " I ask her " who is coming? "
" Those animals!" she screams at me and then she starts running and she was one sure footed Gal because she didn't slide or slow down as she drags me all the way up the bank to the road.
When we get up to the road we both look down into the Ravine and I can hear something all right. I can see something too. Only it wasn't animals, it was little lights and and the sounds were voices and they were saying something about "picking up tracks here..."
That's when I can see, right there out of the corner of my eye that woman spit something out onto the snow and what lands there are four little red and white lumps and I know those things are teeth.
Then she looks down at her hands and I hear her whistle and say something like, " I guess I won't be playing the piano for awhile."
After she gets done talking I see her from the corner of my eye pull a long blond hair from the corner of her mouth and no it wasn't her's because the woman standing next to me had long black hair. It was so black it almost looked blue.
It was just seconds later that she walks away down that road like she wasn't cut up and bleeding and hurt- I'm not sure but I think she may have been whistling.
Well, a few minutes later a bunch of people come up over the bank and they've got dogs and guns.
" Hey there " says this man " are you alright?"
" Course. What's up? " I asked.
" There's a wolf on the loose, it tore apart a bunch of dogs and horses and even a cow at on Maltby a few days ago and we tracked it out here- looks like it was spending some time down in that car. I'm not sure but it looks like it went through the windshield and got itself stuck. Then it got itself unstuck."
" How? " I ask.
One of the men drops something at my feet and there it was...this wolf's paw with fur so black it shined blue.
" I don't know who that woman was or where she went - but she should be easy to spot . After all, she only has one hand."
Honor sat back and smiled, " that was a good one Blaze...you really should- " and then Honor's smile sort of froze and faded and she turned her head a little and she said to Blaze " I thought I saw something from the corner of my eye...sorry where was I?"
Did you ever have one of those days when everything went wrong?
Maybe you knew it was going to be bad when your alarm went off 20 minutes too early and to make it worse it was one of those nights where you woke up every half hour and when you got out of bed you knew, you could feel it was going to get much worse.
Veta Trella had a night like that.
After she got out of bed she went to take a shower and as she stepped into her tub she slipped but was lucky enough to break her fall with her knees.
That was okay because Veta wasn't the kind of person anyone paid attention to so if she had to limp and shuffle no one was going to notice.
That was the only lucky break Veta had for the rest of the day.
When Veta dried her hair she was distracted by the sizzling sound the wires made everytime she turned her wrist and just before her hair was completely dry some blue sparks flew out of the wall and all of the lights in Veta's house went out and stayed out.
She guessed all of those black scorch marks all over her walls by the electrical outlets she saw on the way to her basement to check her fuse box was not a good sign.
When Veta finally made it out thedoor she looked down in time to see her that not only were her shoes not tied, they were different colors and just as she turned to go back into her house the door swung shut and she knew that not only was the door locked she had never taken her keys out of the candy bowl she kept them in.
But none of that mattered for very long because as she took a step she tripped on her laces and went face first into the door.
It was only a matter of seconds- not minutes before her nose started to swell and she could feel her lips start to go numb. She poked at her face and sighed and then Veta walked around to her back yard.
She walked slowly up the steps to her back porch and when she reached down to pick up a little clay flowerpot to break the little glass window in center of the porch door she felt her fingernail peel back and then it came off with a sting.
She held her hand up, looked at raw finger tip and sighed.
Veta made it through her kitchen safe enough but when she got to the living room she scared her cat Blitzer right off of the couch he knew wasn't suppose to be on.
Veta didn't have the heart or energy to yell at him because she shouldn't have had to break into her own house and put herself in the position to scare her black cat into running straight across her path.
In fact, he was so startled by her that he jumped straight up onto the mantle piece above the fireplace and sent Veta's antique mirror crashing to the floor where it didn't just break.
It smashed into millions of little shards and a cloud of dust and glass wafted up and into Veta's face- Veta's bruised and swollen face that was now in the process of working it's way into a full fledged allergy attack.
" Oh, why the Hell not " Veta said and then she sneezed and her nose started to bleed- all over her brand new white blouse.
When Veta made it to her bus- well it wasn't her usual bus because she missed her regular bus- she almost tripped over a woman who had suddenly stopped to pick something up off of the ground and that sent Veta and her things flying in about four different directions.
Veta sort of shuffled and cringed all the way to the back of the bus and when she sat down it was on something wet and sticky and she closed her eyes and when she opened them she looked up and then down and then from her left to her right and then slowly behind her. When she was done she slouched down and held her belongings to her chest and tried to make herself breathe.
She thought if she concentrated on doing just that she wouldn't start screaming.
Then the woman Veta had tripped over took the seat right in front of her and she was jabbering and laughing and chatting away to the very good-looking man next to her.
" Can you believe it? " she sang, " first I find a hundred dollar bill right there on the curb on the very morning I'm thinking I'm going to for sure miss my bus and then..." she leaned towards her seat mate and nudged him with her shoulder " you ask me out and look! "
She was holding her phone up and the man read the text message and he congratulated the woman on her promotion and then he moved a little closer to her and put his arm over the back of her seat.
" I mean, I don't know where all of this is coming from. I've never had luck like this before!"
" My Grandma would have said you have the luck of the Devil " he told the woman happily.
And then Veta reached over she tapped them each on the shoulder.
When they turned around they were looking straight into Veta's bright yellow eyes which were ringed with bruises and they saw the little white horns she normally hid under her blow dried hair and then her forked tongue shot from under her broken nose and swollen lips and she hissed " your Grandma is liar."
Daisy Cutting was not normal- her parents knew it, her brothers and sisters knew it and her dog knew it too.
That's why Tarzan lived under the porch instead of above it and if they could have the rest of Daisy Cutting's family would have followed Tarzan under the porch too- but there wasn't enough room for all of them.
So the rest of the family was forced to deal with their world with Daisy in it in their own way. The Cutting Family learned to be invisible- which was easy when all anyone really noticed was Daisy.
She was very hard to ignore no matter how hard you tried.
On the day her parents found out they were expecting a baby their house burned down, on the day Daisy was born the sky above the hospital turned black.
Not from thunderclouds- from birds.
The noise they made was deafening and the smell was bad and then while they were in mid-flight they died and fell with soft wet thuds for miles around.
Mrs Cutting saw the rain of dead birds from her hospital window and she raised her baby to her lips and whispered into Daisy's ear, "what have you done Daisy? "
Of course Daisy couldn't answer because she wasn't even an hour old but she did laugh and that's when Mrs. Cutting saw Daisy already had teeth.
" Well, " Mrs. Cutting said " at least you don't have horns too."
Then Daisy laughed some more.
The funny thing about Daisy is that she never really laughed again after that day- she just smiled.
Daisy Cutting had a normal life- she had her own room, she had her own toys and she got two full grown black cats from her family on her 12th birthday.
Her cats, Potato and Chips didn't hide under the porch when they saw her. Everyone including Daisy figured they hung around just to see what sort of odd thing she would come up with next but that was in the nature of cats and the Cutting Family understood that.
That's why they got them for her.
So at least now Daisy had a couple of friends- which is what her family wanted. Daisy, if they had asked, would have told them she busy for a social life because Daisy was always busy working on her collections.
-like her Bug Collection.
To be specific Daisy had a Bug Zoo in her bedroom.
Her bugs were in jars and plastic containers and in front of each little cage was a card with their proper scientific names and dietary habits.
Daisy also collected yo-yos that she displayed on her bookshelf and under her bed was Daisy's Grave Collection- it wasn't as organized as her bug zoo or her yo-yo collection.
Daisy collected those little candy boxes- the ones that 6 different pieces of chocolate come in. She'd buy a box or two a month, toss the pieces to Tarzan under the porch ( he buried them ) and then she'd take the empty boxes to her bedroom.
What Daisy liked about the boxes were the little pictures of smiling cherubs on the lids.
It worked for what Daisy put in them.
At least once a month Daisy took the bus to Morning Ridge Cemetery in Duwamish Bay and she'd go from grave to grave snapping petals and leaves from the Grave Flowers.
She always did it in a way that didn't disturb the arrangements- then she'd take the flowers home, dry them and put them in the little boxes.
Each box was numbered- Daisy had a map of the cemetery in her desk and when she got home she took the numbers and not the names from the Cemetery Map and copied them onto the inside lid of the boxes.
Daisy's room was full of her collections.
One Summer Mrs Cutting was in her kitchen reading the paper and drinking some juice when she looked down into her glass and saw two flies drowning in her lemonade
She took a deep breath because she was about to yell for Daisy- and how fair was that? There were two black blowflies in her juice and the first words out of Mrs. Cutting's mouth weren't going to be "yuck".
She was about to scream, " Daisy!"
Instead she took the glass outside and threw the entire mess into the garbage can.
The next day Mrs Cutting found four blowflies in the refrigerator, two in the toilet and instead of yelling " Daisy" she went to the store and bought some No Pest Traps.
It didn't work.
In fact, it got worse.
By the third day there was family meeting in the Cutting home that didn't include Daisy or her cats but did include Tarzan the Dog.
The result of that meeting was Mrs Cutting was sent up to Daisy's room to see if the newest members of the Cutting Family had something to do with Daisy's Collections.
Mrs Cutting took a deep breath and before she knocked she her her daughter-sounding flustered and a little angry- which was something Daisy never did. Daisy never got rattled- so Instead of knocking she put her ear to the door.
" Hey you guys...give those back this minute...I've got you ...let go of that Potato! Chips you're next hand it over....come out from under there you two- I mean it.
You guys are in so much trouble"
Mrs. Cutting looked back down the hall and almost called for somebody- anybody to go with her into Daisy's room.
But this was her daughter- and Mrs Cutting wasn't about to forget that. To be honest, Daisy wasn't the type of person you could forget even if you wanted to.
So Mrs Cutting took a deep breath and knocked on Daisy's door.
From inside of the room came a meow, a couple of hisses and a lot of growling and then she heard a door slam.
Daisy called, " come on in Mom."
Daisy's room didn't have a few flies buzzing around the way they were in the rest of the house.
There were hundreds of them and when one landed on Daisy's face and crawled around and flew off without Daisy flinching even once or trying to brush it away Mrs Cutting lost her temper.
" Flies Daisy? You're collecting flies now? That's...that's... Daisy that's not interesting, that's just stupid. What were you thinking? Look at your room...look at the rest of the house. Young lady you are in so much trouble!"
Daisy was standing next to her closet door and from the inside Potato and Chips had started to shove their paws out from under the door and were trying to pull it open.
" Let them out Daisy...and answer me, what were you thinking?"
Daisy bit her lip and shrugged.
" What were you thinking Daisy? Answer me or did your cats get your tongue?
" No Mommy, " Daisy said " they don't have my tongue..."
Idell Galina tells fortunes and casts spells from her little store on Eastlake Road.
Of Course Idell can't really see into the the future and she can't really cast spells but she can tell a good story and she's got a very winning smile and looks good in velvet so none of that really mattered.
Until the night Denae Colquite came in and asked for a Reading- then what Idell could or could not do mattered very much.
Denae Colquite took a seat on the little wooden chair Idell offered her and she kept her purse in her lap. She even kept her jacket on, refusing to take it off when Idell asked for it. " I know this is all- um, subjective. But I'm at a loss Miss-"
" Madam Galina " Idell extended a long hand over the crystal ball that sat on the table between them.
Denae looked down at Idell's left hand and then she looked back up and said, " Miss Galina. "
Idell shrugged pulled her hand back and slumped a little into her chair with her arms crossed over her chest and the air sucked out of her lungs. " What exactly can I help you with ..."
" Denae my name is Denae Colquite and I'll get right down to it Idell- I need to know if one can escape their fate."
Idell felt her Sea Legs come back, and she said " Our fates are..."
" Yes, yes, yes, written on the sands or wind or something like that but Miss Galina the upshot is my fate is about to ruin my life and I'd like to escape that. So, can you help me or not."
It wasn't a question and it wasn't a demand but Denae expected an answer all the same.
And it was obvious she wanted it now.
So Idell reached over to the counter to her left for a candlestick and she placed it next to the crystal ball and struck a match. Then she looked down into the reflection cast by the small yellow flame and as she did Denae put her forehead on the table's rounded edge and started to bang it up and down.
" Yes or no Madame Galina can you change a fate that's been cast. Do you really need to look into the future to answer that question? Because if you're that unsure of your present I don't see how you can help me with the future."
Without raising her head from the table Denae reached into her handbag pulled out a small box of playing cards and dropped it on the table.
" Here, it's all in here. My Grandmother did a reading for me 10 years ago when I got married. It's all there, in those cards. I need to know if I can escape it."
Idell smirked a little and wiped it off her face as Denae looked up. " Our futures, our destiny are constantly being rewritten, I see images, impression of things that could be. That's what I can offer you in the way of help and guidance."
Denae dropped her head back onto the table and mumbled, " Well, damn. It's starting to look like there is no way around this. No way at all. I mean the one person who can really pull this gig off was like a thousand percent right. You know, she was the real thing.I've been to hundreds of you people for the past ten years and all you guys have been less then...er talented then she was. Everyone said Grand was one in a million. I guess that was just the simple truth. She was one in a million."
Denae got up and sighed " How much."
" An offering of 20.00 is appreciated."
Denae got up and and put her jacket on. Then she opened her purse and dropped the offering on the table.
" Oh your..." Idell picked the box up.
" Cards- you can keep them I don't need them anymore. I know what they say. They've been saying the same thing for 10 years now."
And then as Denae walked towards the door the little flap on the bottom of the box slid open and the cards spilled out onto the table and the floor at Idell's feet.
Idell reached down and picked up one of the cards. She could see they were ordinary playing cards with something written in spidery red script across their faces.
She held the card up to the light and she could see written in old fashioned script, " My Granddaughter is going to kill you, run Miss Galina "
Idell looked up in time to see Denae throw the deadbolt on the door. " Don't bother, I told you...it's all in the cards."