POP! Goes the Weasel by Robin Dover

 

Pop! Goes the Weasel by Robin Dover
Pop! Goes the Weasel by Robin Dover

Jacob brooded over the old wooden jack-in-the-box. His stare was fixed. His breathing was deep and slow while grinding his teeth. His father walked into his son’s bedroom and stared at him leaning against the door of his walk-in closet.

“It’s broke again, Dad. Fix it.”

“Son, you’re obsessed. Get out and play instead of secluding yourself inside. You’re eight years old. Besides, that’s an antique. It’s not really a toy.”
The aged jack-in-the-box was made of strong, treated mahogany edged in metal and covered by obscure, multidimensional faces with offset eyes.

Jacob screamed and threw the jack-in-the-box across the room, “Fix it!”

John picked up the box and attempted to turn the crank. It wouldn’t budge. He sat it on the floor in front of Jacob and gently took hold of his son’s shoulder. “Learn to think outside the box.”

“I don’t want to! I want to think inside the box! Mom wouldn’t fix it! You do it!”

“I fixed it once. You’re too rough. No wonder it’s damaged.”

“Where’s Mommy?” John said.

“She’s gone!” Jacob replied.

“It’s my fault. It should be in a museum. It’s time to grow up, Jacob.”

“I don’t want to! Fix it!”

“Son, you could fix it. It’s not broken. Look closely. The crank is bent. I’ll tell you what – show some initiative and fix it – and I’ll let you keep it.”

The boy nodded and picked up a hammer.

“No. You need a pair of pliers,” John said.

Jacob struck his father in the head several times.

“I wanted you to fix it!”

He searched for the pliers, but to no avail.

He removed the hammer buried deep in his father’s head and began beating the jack-in-the-box.

He dented the top corner and grazed the side of the crank straightening it back into its original position. But the dented metal edge over the top blocked the door from springing open. The faces on the box changed.

The boy turned the crank. Pop! Goes the Weasel played frantically as Jacob feverishly chanted. He turned the crank faster and faster. Every time it reached the point when the top should spring open, it didn’t. He screamed and threw it across the room again, slamming it into the wall.

Jacob stood over the jack-in-the-box – hammer dripping in blood – and began to sob. “I want to be with you! I kept my promise!”

He opened the door to his closet. “I killed them all!”

A butcher knife glistened beside his mother’s stiff body. She was in a pile of dirty laundry, head on a pillow.

“You’re not finished, Jacob. There’s one left. If you really want to be with me, do it. Do it now.”

Jacob began pummeling his head with the claw end of the hammer.

The crank began turning on its own. The old nursery rhyme filled the room.

Jacob lay still beside the box, his vision fading.

Pop! Goes the Weasel – and the top of the box sprang open.

Jacob stopped breathing.

The jack-in-the-box fell over beside the boy’s head, allowing his blood to creep into the box.

Book Review: A Respite for the Dead by Lucy Taylor

A Respite for the Dead cover
A Respite for the Dead cover

A Respite for the Dead by Lucy Taylor

Published by Omnium Gatherum

Guardians

‘…I sniffed the air and caught a faint but sharp scent of burnt weeds. Not the clean, crisp aroma of the autumn leaf burnings I recalled from my childhood back east, but something malodorous, pungent – There were no dates and nothing except the photographs to identify the dead. The only evidence that anyone had been here were a few bunches of flowers, the blooms withered and brown like a pharaoh’s mummified fingers – Guzman gazed into his empty wine glass like a sorcerer looking at entrails, but when he spoke again, I knew he’d had no revelations, divine or otherwise – I turned down the volume, called out “I’m home”, and was greeted by thunderous silence – “Oh.” I nodded like this was normal and fine, but I could smell my own rage, and the earth underfoot looked like baked blood – The distress in her eyes felt as gratifying as a standing ovation on the part of wronged husbands everywhere. I drank it in like a shot of hard whiskey.’

 

Lucy Taylor has once again made it quite evident that her brilliance as a writer is due, to some extent, to something far beyond her exquisite agility with prose. Her courageous exploration into cutting-edge perspectives regarding esteemed subject matter continues to captivate. Being a resident of New Mexico, I personally relate to this dark story. I know the descansos – those unique, roadside relics of remembrance spotlighting the point in space and time where the now deceased drew their last breath – that final moment before meeting with death. These are indicators – signposts directing our next thoughts into images of cemeteries and crypts – into the residual grief that always lives on after death – and into consideration of the various possible causes of these sudden and frequently violent deaths.

In A Respite for the Dead, Lucy Taylor explores outside-of-the-box potential differences between one dying peacefully in your sleep with a standard follow-up burial in the family plot versus being abruptly taken, very often brutally, and that act being immortalized in glory within a roadside memorial that time and again seizes the attention of unwary travelers. She explores our attitudes toward the dead – unseen thoughts we share with the deceased – and things the dead could possibly be sharing with us. We’re reminded of separate realities – realities that some of us more sensitive types, those occasionally in touch with altered states, as well as those of us who flirt with insanity, often chose to push back into the darkness from whence it comes. The frayed edges of these unseen separate realities, sometimes, cross over and manifest before us. We may discover that because we choose to reject what may seem to be so unbelievable, unrealistic and even absurd – by sending away these apparently incomprehensible messages bleeding over from the other side – we may be missing something very important, indeed. You may experience a facsimile of success in avoiding acknowledgment or acceptance of these messages, but inevitably, they return, because often, the message is for you.

In this tight work of fiction, Lucy Taylor lures you into the darkness to consider one additional possibility for what a respite for the dead could entail. It may be something that forms just at the edge of your peripheral vision…

5 STARS

Book Review: Heroin in the Magic Now by Terry M. West

Heroin in the Magic Now Book Cover
Heroin in the Magic Now by Terry M. West
A personal and very dark tale from West.

Heroin in the Magic Now by Terry M. West. Publisher: Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc.

5 STARS – Due for release on 8/31/2014, but available for pre-order here.

More Misery and Darkness than Frank Miller’s Sin City

In Heroin in the Magic Now, Terry M. West has turned the writing of the novelette/novella into Reality Composition. Every character is holding an unseen camera, recording the privacy of a life that goes on everywhere behind the scenes. Although Terry comes through strong with his unique voice that is unmistakably Terry M. West, once again, he proves to deliver something distinctive. When I started reading Heroin in the Magic Now, I took a deep breath and sighed – it provided the Fix I was looking for.

Terry M. West’s writing is addictive. I highly recommend it over alcohol or heroin. And – utilizing Hardcore Crust as an intro into Heroin in the Magic Now creates a seamless ooze into the seedy world that sets your teeth on edge. I enjoyed this more than Frank Miller’s Sin City, which is one of my favorite movies exploring darkness and misery. I want to see this on celluloid – digital is also acceptable with the right attention given. Although sick, edgy, and filled with heartache and broken dreams, Heroin in the Magic Now also taps into heart and hope. It’s filled with real-world perspective from the shadows, masterfully crafted with just the right touch of fiction and fantasy. I loved it when I wasn’t able to discern reality from fantasy.

Oh, wait – I found a lot of that – which kept me on the edge of my seat, turning page after page. Terry M. West has to know these vampires, zombies, ghouls, werewolves and human monsters… I mean… they have to exist… at least in his mind. And everyone knows our world is full of them. I can’t speak for Mr. West, but I can remember back when I was a child – the greatest thing I could ever imagine becoming – was a monster. As I grew older, that only changed slightly. I learned how to manifest the monsters into the heroes I always believed they were when I was a child. That’s what I get from Heroin in the Magic Now. I just love the gris-gris bag the lead character Gary Hack carries. I had something similar when I was twelve years old. It was a small doll from Haiti stuffed with gris-gris seeds. I can still smell it. Gary Hack was constantly learning.

Heroin in the Magic Now banner

As I read Heroin in the Magic Now, I sensed a deep metamorphosis taking place within me and then an awakening. I had to stop a moment because I was having flashbacks of aspects of my own life that were painful, heartrending and hopeless. It’s tough when you don’t want to surrender and decide there isn’t another choice. You’re locked into that moment of helplessness and start to play the game: Things will get better – it will all somehow change – the tide will turn. And you wait for years. And sometimes, you just throw yourself out of an airplane or put a needle in your arm or drink yourself into the blackness and wonder how you made it to this point in your miserable life and you finally just give up. And in that moment of surrender everything changes – although you have no idea until that moment of déjà vu – and you awaken to the realization that you have just learned something very important. I’ll be reading this again. God – this is going to be a great movie.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Heroin in the Magic Now by Terry M. West

Heroin in the Magic Now

by Terry M. West

Giveaway ends October 31, 2014.

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