Saturday, June 24, 2006
Have you ever been on a road trip, and ended up driving down those dirt roads that lead into the dead empty towns with boarded up fast food places with names like “ Chicken Basket “ or “ Hank’s Hamburger Haven “ and have you noticed there’s always a gas station with those funny tin signs advertising a brand of cigarettes or beer that no one’s seen on a shelf in over 50 years?
No doubt on these trips you’ve seen the houses too, the odd gray houses sitting up off the road.
You’ve probably even seen curtains hanging in the windows and your not sure but you think you may have seen someone looking back out at you as you drove by. Maybe you’ve even seen one of those old time drug stores with the Soda Fountain in the back but you know, you wouldn’t stop there on a bet to check it out because you’ll tell yourself you don’t have the time…you’ve got somewhere to get to.
There, you’ll reassure yourself that sounds good.
But that little voice, it’s it the real reason you don’t stop because it’s screaming at you, “ don’t you dare stop! Hey are you listening to me? I don’t care if you run out of gas! You will not stop in this town because if you do you’re going to have to get out and push. Don’t you even think about stopping here, is that clear?”
Then when you hit the other end of “ Main Street” (which will only take about three minutes) and you’re back on that long empty dirt road that some joker of a map maker called “ interstate 101 or Highway 19” you’ll have forgotten you were afraid.
After a few more minutes that empty little town that scared you half to death will be long behind you and it’ll be like you were never there at all
That’s what the town of Bocksbohne is like; once you leave it you’ll never be sure you were really there.
One summer Audley Frame was driving to Seattle and somewhere along Amorita Pass high in the Olympic Mountains she passed through a town called Turnsole (clearly marked on her map) and after a few miles she was on a dirt highway that lead straight into Bocksbohne.
That’s what the white sign with the peeling black letters read.
Welcome to Bocksbohne
It wasn’t suppose to be there according to the map, it had no reason to be there out in the middle of nowhere but it was there all the same and before she knew it Audley Frame was speeding passed a drive in theatre with a rusted swing set and a fallen over carousel under a weather-beaten movie screen. Across the street from the drive in was Chieko’s Drugstore and further up from that was little brick building with a sign in its window.
She slammed on her brakes and was snapped back in her seat by her seatbelt and she hardly noticed the pain because all she saw was the sign.
It was a simple sign, the background was flat black and the letters were neon orange and the sign simply said:
The window was caked with dust and grime and right there in the center of the window screaming in brand new orange neon letters was the word:
Not help wanted.
Now it just said
Audley’ s foot came off the brake and she let her car roll forward and she turned to watch the window as her car tried to pull itself away from building.
Now the sign read “ HELP WANTED INQUIRE WITHIN “.The letters were blood red and the ink was so fresh it had smudged a little on the filthy glass window.
“ Red Ink” she heard herself say, “ it’s red ink.”
Then her foot found the gas pedal and Audley’ s car roared passed buildings and houses with broken windows and doors that were falling off of their hinges. She ignored the rusty children’s toys abandoned on the sidewalks and she hit a few curbs and before she knew it she was out the other end of Bocksbohne and when she looked into her rearview mirror she saw her dark brown hair had turned white.
She put her hand to the mirror and turned it down, she had no intentions of using it until Bocksbohne was behind her.
Far behind her.
Posted by Anita Marie Moscoso at 8:23 AM
Sunday, June 18, 2006
In Burnstone, Washington one of my favorite places to visit is the Tymbal Cemetery and Funeral Home.
Tymbal is a pauper's cemetery from the old days so it's not great shakes. No fancy monuments, no fancy gates but there are trees and they’re covered with ivy which is nice because the trees have been dead for years and they don’t put leaves out anymore.
The sad thing is everyone forgot the Cemetery was there and for awhile the City of Burnstone Streets Department used Tymbal as a storage place for their work trucks and they used the Funeral home as office space until someone realized all those garbage trucks and lawn mowers and a bunch of other maintenance tools were leaking oil all over unmarked graves.
So before you could say ' desecration ' the City decided to build a new maintenance facility for the Street Works Department and without as much as a backwards glance they left the graveyard to choke on weeds and nettles and blackberry bushes.
Looking back, it was sort of odd the way the weeds came back so fast.
About a month after the big move a young woman named Tamus Bloodroot slammed her car into one of the dead trees near the cemetery entrance and she never left.
She never left because no one ever found her.
They found her car, they found the door open and they found a large pool of blood about three feet away from the crash sight.
But they never found Tamus.
The day after they found her car stories about an injured woman, who was identified as Tamus, asking for help at the side of the road started up. Some people said they actually stopped for her and picked her up and talked to her and she always said the same thing, “ can you help me now. “
When they turned to reassure her that’s what they’re doing she’d be gone.
You can imagine Tamus Bloodroot's family was pretty upset that they're daughter had become an urban legend and people were suppose to be talking to her ghost.
" I doubt " her Father had screamed into the face of a reporter doing Halloween stories for the evening news one year, " that if my daughter could come back from the grave she'd spend all of her time asking drunken teenagers for rides to the hospital."
That was true, in life Tamus wasn’t the sort of person who asked for anything, she’d tell you exactly what she wanted and if you didn’t come across…heaven help you. The girl had a temper and the holes in her bedroom walls and her trail of broken relationships were solid proof of that.
Life went on after that… even Tamus Bloodroot went on, people never stopped seeing her and they all knew she was out there asking for help.
Bryony Middleton and his family live out on Cemetery Road. He’s lived out there his entire life
And he knows that stretch of road so well he could drive it with his eyes closed.
That’s something he did almost every Saturday night after and evening on the town with his friends. He’s sort of famous around here for that, you might not know Bryony’s name or anything about him but you’ve heard of the ‘ guy who drives passed the cemetery in his sleep on Saturdays’.
Anyway it was one of his 10 or was it 12 kids that said to him after finding him and his truck at the end of their driveway one morning " if you're going to drive when you’re sleeping Daddy, at least wear your seat belt."
Not to be mean, and Bryony loved his 10-12 children a lot even if he forgot their names and didn't know exactly how many of them there were, but on more then one occasion Bryony was heard to say, " Geeze, my kids, you know they're okay as far as rug rats go but they sure aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, if you get my meaning."
But this time Bryony’s kids were right and on that winter evening out on Tymbal Cemetery Road his kids were the sharpest tools to be found in any shed anywhere on the planet.
The roads were iced over when Bryony left the " Corner Tavern " only he didn't notice. I mean he was sliding and tripping a lot...but you know he'd chalked that up to the liquid refreshments he'd indulged in for the past four hours.
So Bryony got into his truck and tried to buckle himself in, but he couldn't make the lock work so he put the belt on and tied it closed and then he took a roll of duct tape and somehow managed to tape himself to his seat.
I'm not kidding I wish I were. Like I said, Bryony loved his kids and he'd do any for them even if they only had a handful of brain cells between them.
Then he turned the key in the ignition (he always left it in because it was pretty hard for him to fit that key into that little hole after a long evening out) and he took a sloppy left and turned out onto the unlit road, marked as Old Burnstone Highway but known unofficially as Cemetery Road by the locals.
He was halfway home and nearly asleep when he came to Tymbal Cemetery and saw the Funeral Home with the tape on it’s cracked windows. Bryony mistook it for his house and in a panic he jerked the steering wheel and sent his truck into the ditch that surrounded the cemetery.
Like I said, Tymbal’s is a Pauper’s Graveyard and there are no frills about it. The people out there were forgotten in life and they were forgotten in death too.
So the residents of Tymbal's have numbers, not names and they have pine boxes made at the Prison in Fallen not fancy caskets with brass handles. And there is no fence surrounding the cemetery just a ditch cut into a “V” shape and it's lined with jagged sharp rocks that were once the face of an old Mansion that burned to the ground about 100 years ago.
The Old Mansion was wasn't a good place and it’s owners were sort of an embarrassment to the City so after the fire Burnstone hauled off a mountain of debris and they decided to put it to good use.
Anything they could salvage went into the construction of The Tymbal Funeral Home and Cemetery.
The " fence" is what Bryony hit that night. His truck went into the ditch head on and then it flipped and rolled and finally stopped almost in the middle of the graveyard.
Taped and tied to his seat Bryony was bruised and beaten and good thing he was sitting upright because if he'd been in any other position he'd probably have choked on his own vomit, of which he apparently lost a lot of that night.
When he was done he considered his options.
He could cut himself loose but more then likely he'd end up stabbing himself to death because at the moment one of his eyes was swollen shut and the other, well you know Bryony should probably be wearing glasses but he doesn't.
Plus the crash had done nothing to sober him up he wasn’t sure he could find the business end of the knife if he wanted to.
" Poor Daddy, " he could actually see one of his many children saying to his unborn grandchildren " he survived the worse car accident ever and he ended up stabbing himself to death trying to cut himself loose from his car seat. No, he wasn't trapped. Somehow he taped himself to his seat. No I can't explain it. I loved my Dad but he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed if you get my meaning."
So Bryony figured all he could do was sit there and more likely then not someone would see him from the road in the morning. Resigned to a long cold smelly night he was about to try to catch some sleep when he saw the woman standing next to his car.
She was facing away from him and the way she was standing was wrong. Her shoulders were twisted and one of her arms seemed to be hanging a little lower then the other. At first Bryony thought she was tilting her head to the side like she was listening for something, but then he realized her head wasn't tilted it was flatter, much flatter then the other side of her head.
All Bryony could think to say was, " heck of a night, ain't it? "
" Can you help me now? " she said to no one " can you help me now?"
She started to turn and Bryony knew, he just knew that the front of that woman was going to look worse then the back and he didn't want to see that.
So Bryony did all he could think of to do. He turned the key, gave his battered truck some gas and there is a Heaven because it screamed (more then likely it was Bryony doing the screaming) to life and Bryony drove it blindly through the cemetery and towards the road…and the fence.
Only he never hit the fence, he never even made it out of the cemetery because before he hit the ditch he hit a tree and when he did the world around him exploded.
It was three of Bryony’s kids that found their dad and his truck the next morning. No, he wasn't dead; Bryony is made out of tougher stuff then that. Plus, I'm sure that with his dietary habits of fried food and alcohol he's pretty much preserved himself alive.
Which was good because Bryony had a story that people from all over the county wanted him to tell over and over again.
First of all the woman in the Graveyard, Bryony figured, wasn’t saying " Can you help me now " she was saying " Can you help me down " and he figured that out because on the night Tamus Bloodroot hit the Tymbal ‘fence’ she wasn't duct taped to her seat the way Bryony was so she smashed through her windshield and was thrown up and out of her car...
And straight up into a tree covered with Ivy.
That’s the story of Tamus Bloodroot and that’s how it ends…with parts of her raining down onto the hood of Bryony Middleton's truck.
The story about Old Burnstone Highway hasn’t ended. Earlier this year it earned this label as the most dangerous stretch road in the entire state of Washington.
It’s not a main highway and you can’t find it from any major roads but over 300 people have died along it this year alone. I mean, people from Arizona and Texas visitors from other countries in rental cars have met their end out there an if they don’t die in the wreck they can’t explain why they were there…at dark.
They never say though that they were lost.
Funny, isn’t it?
Posted by Anita Marie Moscoso at 12:06 AM
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
The Grave of Calisaya Stoneroot is lost back up in the hills of White Ash Mountain here in Washington State and not a year goes by a story doesn't show up on the evening news or the front page of a local newspaper with the headline:
" Remains of Hikers Found "
And somewhere in the story you will find that these Hikers weren't going to White Ash to admire the scenery. They’re out there looking for the grave of the infamous Witch of White Ash Mountain.
I know this story by heart and here’s how it goes…
Rocella Coffin was the law in White Ash back in 1964, she was short and dark and bad tempered, as most of the Sheriffs in the Duwamish Bay area are. To be specific none of the Sheriffs in Ballast County are known for their sense of humor but at times they do laugh and some joke and some smile all except for Sheriff Coffin.
Sheriff Coffin held her spot as the Ballast County" least likely to be amused by anything law enforcement official " with a grip so tight it’s unlikely anyone would ever be able to pry the title from her hand.
That title, however, became Coffin’s for all eternity when Avery Bowen showed up the day after the execution of Calisaya Stoneroot.
Avery pulled into the Sheriff's station and forgot to stop his truck. It only stopped because the Sheriff’s car (her own car, not her patrol car) was in the way. Avery wasn't hurt but he was bleeding and he was sort of running around in circles and no matter how loud she yelled he wouldn’t stop.
Sheriff Coffin didn't even read him his rights.
She just pulled her gun and shot him right between the eyes, right there in the parking lot in front of the Sheriff’s Station. When she was done Rocella stood over Avery's body and said down at his pale white face, " I told you to settle down, now start over. "
Avery looked up at her and said, " she's back Sheriff, and I saw her walking up the road not even an hour ago. Calisaya Stoneroot is back."
Rocella dragged Avery into her office and pulled a pair of tweezers from her desk drawer. She took a look at Avery's wound and dropped them back in and he saw she had a crochet hook in her hand. " Sit still " she told him.
Avery obeyed and he felt Rocella pull some of his skin away from his wound with her fingers and then with one smooth move the hook was in and out and in her hand was a small piece of mashed gray metal.
" Tell me what you saw, and I suggest you don't fool around with me because the next thing I'm pulling out are the silver bullets. Got it? "
Avery tried very hard to focus his eyes and he nodded, " I saw her down on Middleditch Road, walking kind of slow and funny and …”
If Avery hadn’t been so distracted by picking at the bullet wound in his forehead he would have found it a little amusing that Calisaya had been hung just the day before on November 5, 1964 at dawn for Witchcraft.
You read that right. Not 1664, 1564, 1264.
1964: That was the year Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in Prison and China detonated it's first atomic bomb and US Surgeon General Luther Terry affirmed that cigarette smoking caused cancer.
You read that right, it was 1964, and back in the hills of White Ash Mountain a woman died laughing with a noose around her neck and she was buried with that terrible wide grin on her face and her mouth was stuffed with garlic and her eyes had been sewn shut.
Not that anyone in the town thought it would do them any good; they'd figure Calisaya would be back before dawn.
They were right.
The towns’ people of White Ash had for the past 20 years tried everything to rid themselves of Calisaya Stoneroot.
First they tried bringing in that Priest from Seattle.
The Sheriff from Duwamish Bay and two of her friends that worked the Sideshow came to watch Father Thomas bless the Cemetery the Witch and her Demons were living in and Sheriff Coffin thought it might actually work; the Witch and the demons rode out of the Cemetery Gates like the Devil himself was chasing them.
Later Sheriff Coffin realized Sheriff Blitzer and her friends snorting and snickering and stupid comments were probably what really drove Demons and the Witch away.
Four days later Stoneroot was back.
Another year they even tried to burn Calisaya at the stake and Blitzer and a woman with bad skin actually brought Snow Puffed Marshmallows and skewers and handed them to Rocella and her Deputy with the advice, “ you might as well get something out of this cause that won’t work either.”
Calisaya, over the years, went from tormenting farm animals and turning the water in the wells to blood and making the crops and the fruit trees go bad (which turned out to be a favorite of hers) and casting curses and playing petty tricks on the Towns People to grave robbing.
That was the last straw as far as Ballast County was concerned.
They sent word down that White Ash cut out the theatrical executions and do something about Stoneroot or they (Duwamish Bay, Fallen, Ninebones Cross and Abandon) were going to do something about them.
The Valleys and Mountains if Ballast County were full of barren dead places where it could reach over 90 degrees in the summer and it didn't matter because it was so cold you'd get frostbite if you weren't covered up.
The ground in these barren places are full of a fine heavy dust that’s almost impossible to wash from your clothes and if you aren’t careful it’ll work it's way into your skin and cause a nasty infection that acts like leprosy.
That dust is all that’s was left of the people and the places that Ballast County 'did something about' when things got out of hand.
Sheriff Coffin had no intention of letting the town of White Ash become another open grave.
No matter what it took.
Even if it meant going to Duwamish Bay itself.
The Duwamish Bay Curiosity Shop is famous for a lot of things: it's genuine Egyptian Mummy, it's collection of shrunken heads, it's electric chair (you could sit in it and get your picture taken) it's " funeral tools from across the ages” and it's jars.
People drove from all over the state to look at " The jars" which where kept behind a door riddled with bullet holes.
Inside of those jars are things like the three headed cat, an alligator with human face, tumors and eyes and brains and limbs and hearts and medical experiments gone bad.
Most infamous of all in this collectoin is the 'devil baby”.
The Devil Baby not only had horns and a tail but an eye in the center of it's forehead and sometimes that eye opened and sometimes it was shut and no matter where you stood in the store you knew it was watching you.
The Shop was also famous for it's Soda Fountain but on that day Sheriff Coffin wasn't in the mood for a Strawberry Phosphate. She looked over the menu tacked to the wall and next to it on pressed tin sign was a sign that read
OVER 2000 AMAZING ARTIFCATS
25 ARE GENUINE FAKES
FREE SUNDAES FOR A YEAR
IF YOU GUESS RIGHT
“ Want to take a guess?” Ignancia asked
“ No. “
“ Go on, take a guess…I got all day and from what I hear you don’t.”
“ The Baby…”
“ Nope, you’re wrong. Everybody wants that baby to be fake. That’s how come we don’t have to cough up the free ice cream. It’s that baby bless it’s dark little heart. Nobody wants that baby to be real.”
It was true; Rocella felt her chest tighten when Ignancia told her about the baby. “ Look Mrs. Guzman, I need to get rid of a nasty tempered Witch who’s developed some weird culinary habits. Can you help us?”
Ignancia looked up at the ceiling like she was reading something up there and Rocella had to fight the urge to do the same.
Finally Ignancia said, “ Oh, this is going to be good, come on follow me, we have to go into the Workshop”
Rocella followed Ignancia behind the Counter and they went back into her Workshop and as the door clicked shut behind them it occurred to Rocella the door had been there a minute ago.
As Rocella drove back up to White Ash she went over the instruction again, “ You can’t write these down you know. You have to memorize this so don’t blow it. “
“ You know why Calisaya is bothering you all up in White Ash and not us down here in Duwamish?” Ignancia asked
“ I don’t know she likes the View?”
“ Don’t be stupid, it’s because you’re all old world up there. All that garlic and chanting and potions. She’s a modern woman and none of that is going to work on her. You have to think, how do you trap and kill a modern witch? “
Rocella shook her head, “ Come on Mrs. Guzman, the Sun is going to set soon and the Auditors will be heading up soon. “
Ignancia handed Rocella three sheets of what she thought were paper. But as the Sheriff took each one from Ignancia’ s hand she saw what they were, she could feel what they were and worse they were still warm. “ I don’t want to know “ Rocella said.
“ Don’t be such a baby. Now listen. You go to that tree by your courthouse. You go up on a ladder this has to be at least 7 feet up and you nail this first…”
“ Spells? I thought you said the old world…”
“ It’s not what you think. This is strictly modern and legal. Don’t look at me like that … it is. See, this is a Summons for her to appear, the minute this goes up no matter what she has to come forward. This is a warrant for her execution you nail this up second. This time I think you’ll find your rope will do it’s job and so will fire. I’d go with the rope it’s so dry out right now you wouldn’t want to start a forest fire, would you? Now, this little puppy is the dealmaker. This is her death certificate. You just sign here and there and here “ Ignancia said as she flipped the heavy pages up one by one and I think you’ll find yourself short a citizen before morning.
But if this comes down, if someone is dumb enough to pull the nail out and this paperwork is disturbed. Well, it won’t be good for White Ash. Won’t be so hot for me either.”
“ Fine, you got a pen or something cause I have to be going…Oh let me guess” Rocella said as she sat down hard on a wooden barstool and tilted her head to the side. “ Don’t get any of it on the Uniform. I just had it cleaned.”
Ignancia pulled a scalpel from a little black bag and as she found Sheriff Coffin’s artery and nicked it open she asked, “ so Rocella, how’s the family?”
So did it work? You’re probably wondering.
Well, White Ash is on the Map, and you can go there if you want and see for yourself.
It’s small and old fashion and the Sheriff is bad tempered and has this funny scar on the side of her neck that bleeds at the wrong time (birthday parties, funerals when she’s in Court and swearing and using profanity isn’t something you don’t want to do at the tops of your lungs)
As for Calisaya Stoneroot, you know there isn’t a Halloween that’s gone by for the past 40 odd years since her execution that a bunch of weirdos from Seattle and as far away as Bellingham don’t descend by the hundreds on poor little White Ash looking for the grave of the Witch of White Ash.
Was she real?
If proof is all you want all you have to do is go to the tree besides the court house and look up and there on one of the branches is an old frayed piece of rope still gray and covered with moss and further up still are three pieces of something that looks like parchment nailed firmly to the tree’s trunk.
Just make sure you leave White Ash before the sunsets.
And before the residents of White Ash start thinking about dinner.
Posted by Anita Marie Moscoso at 10:42 PM