Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween. Heeere's Johnny!

We had our writing meeting of the Headwaters Writers' Guild today and I was inspired to write a short Halloween story that I HAD to post. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thanks to Richard for the many prompt suggestions I used.

"How many times do I have to tell you 'Never run with a sharp cleaver!'" Johnny's mother yelled at him for the tenth time that day.

"For heaven's sake, ma," he said. "I know what I'm doing. I've been a butcher for thirteen years now."

Ma stood in the doorway and glared. The colour combination of her outfit was hideous, but none of her customers seemed to mind. Particularly not the ones she led to the back room into Johnny's lair.

"I'm a psychic," she said. "Don't you think I know what's going to happen?"

Johnny rolled his eyes. "Then how come you can never predict the Super Bowl?"

Ma waved him away. Her gaze fell on the severed hand that still clutched a red rose. "Will you finish cleaning up in here already? I have a ten-thirty appointment and the last thing worn out housewives want to see in my shop is disembodied body parts unless--"

He groaned. "Unless they're bat wings or newt eyes or snake fangs. I know, I know."

The bells of the front door chimed and Ma straightened her black wig. Her own hair hadn't been black since Trudeau was in office. She shot him one last warning glance and disappeared through the black curtain.

Johnny grinned and finished tidying up the workroom. This would be the final guest he would have in the back room of this shop. After tonight, he and Ma would take their act out on the road.

The smell of incense greeted his nose and he held in a sneeze. He hated the stuff, but it added to the aura of the fortuneteller's store front and masked the smell of the blood. Ma murmured to the customer out front. A woman, he knew. Johnny could recite the entire routine in his head. "You will come into money. You will meet a tall, dark, handsome man." The normal schtick. He had thirty minutes from the time their guest sat down until his debut in the waiting area.

Today, however, he was tired of the usual routine. He longed to get on the road and see a different part of the country. For today, Johnny decided, he would go into the room through the black velvet curtain rather than around the building and through the front door. Ma would be angry, but she'd get over it.

A red light flashed above the doorway. It was a signal that he and Ma had hooked up between her seat at the table and the back room. An emergency beacon in case anything went wrong. Johnny watched the light flash once then twice before it remained dark.

"Now what?" he asked the silent room. "Is she in trouble or not?"

He picked up the cleaver and crept toward the black velvet cloth. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed a long-stemmed red rose and pulled aside the curtain. "Here's Johnny!" he said.

A scream shattered the stillness of the night. His mother's eyes were wild. "Run, Johnny, run!"

"Don't bother, Johnny." The well-dressed woman across the table from Ma turned her gun on him. "You're under arrest."

Johnny dropped the cleaver. "Some psychic you are."

Happy Halloween!

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