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Dance With the Devil

One way you could describe your mother, you often did, was as a creature of the night. You remember, standing in the shadow of the hallway, silent as a mouse, trying to get a glimpse of the movie your mom was watching, the one she told you you couldn’t.

You watched, over your mom’s red toes, which hung off the edge of the couch, the glow of the television, as the witches surrounded the young woman, blonde and moussy, and threatened to cook her in their black, steaming cauldron. Their cauldron that sat over a red pentagram, which they had sketched on the ground before saying a prayer to the devil. Their faces, warped and ghoulish, neared the horrified scowl of the pretty, young girl. Your mom’s toes, which had been curling and uncurling in the glow of the television habitually, suddenly stopped, and her head turned to look over and see you there. She could hear you. Your teeth were chattering.

You suffered through nightmares for weeks after that one night. Nightmares that involved you and your mother. Nightmares of shadows, and sickly shades of every color, like a rainbow without cheer or appeal; hair and teeth and eyes looking through holes in walls and the sky. Violin screeches and repetitive noises of nature or inanimate civilization, once innocuous, now underlining an evil in the air and context. Bare tree branches at desperate angles and frightening bridges and second story windows. Whispers and howls. Smiles when there shouldn’t be. Tears being unleashed around the corner from unfamiliar voices. And that feeling, you dreaded it, that you were being chased, and to stop would be to face horror then oblivion.

You would wake up in pools of your own sweat. Sometimes in tears. The night like a blanket. Oppressive, lasting endlessly. You remember that feeling, too sophisticated for any other from that age, that your mom was involved in something she shouldn’t be. Like those movies of hers, the ones she never let you watch, locked up in your room as the muffled noises that leaked in only hinted at their content, were something dark and possessed with an energy unlike any other in this plane of existence. Your mom’s toes curling and uncurling playfully to the backdrop of those horrible nightmares before her occupied your concern like a puzzle you were afraid to solve.

Those films something ghastly to you. They were dark, the product of dilapidated minds, cameras operated by clawed hands, you were sure of it. This horror clung to you through the years, like a crow on your shoulder, tightly at first, then less so, though still prominent, then less so. Then less so some more. Until it was that that feeling was no longer all-encompassing, but was like a puddle that, though still wet, was previously like an ocean to you during the times when you were the size of an atom, back when the spiders and worms were the largest thing in your little mind, looming over your consciousness like a hood that obscured all light.

As you grew up, and you developed, and you learned, and you faced adversity, mostly in the form of bullying at school, and you graduated from said school and became an adult, those years were sprinkled, like an ingredients into witches brew, with an annual activity, spearheaded by your mother’s tender white palm, which gave your life both consistency and flare.

This was your mom’s yearly haunted location adventure. Massachusetts, being one of the original colonies, was full of these locations. The first time was your scariest. Your mom held your hand as you followed along. It was a gift to you that most people your age would find such an activity lame, as you felt embarrassed needing to tightly grip your mom’s palm at the age of 15, and suddenly coming across one of those peers, who so frightened you in the hallways, would mean death somehow to your teenage mind. The attraction your peers had to your mom and her “cute butt” wouldn’t help either. The thought occurred to you that you were gripping the sweet palm that Johnny always made handjob jokes about. Your mom tugged you along the unreal world of the site where 212 colonists from the old world were slaughtered by Abenaki Indians, to a man, to a woman, and to a child, all while the next settlement over sat oblivious to the happenings here.

The vibe intermingled with the oxygen itself, as if you were breathing in the spirits of the violated. Whether it was the crystallized anger of the Abenaki or the resultant rage from the ghosts of your slaughtered compatriots, you felt it as clearly as you could a slight breeze.

As the night passed on, it occurred to you that your mom didn’t take it as seriously as you did. It was as if her ostensible belief or eagerness to come across something haunted was just a put on, something she could psych herself up into accepting for the fun of the season, and then dropping the second real life dallied back into her conscious awareness. It was a dress rehearsal for the life of someone who was superstitious, someone your mom wanted to think and feel like, if just for one night each year. As if she wanted to be one of the characters, survivor or no, in one of her films.

This, to some extent, really did take some of the bite of the night away, an eventuality that you were thankful for, but something about it also struck you as strange. As if what she was doing, in some way, was lacking in due respect. But to who? The slaughtered settlers? The Abenaki whose per-empitive strike against a foreign element they had no reason to trust was being fetishized? Those who were slaughtered in similar attacks? Those who were murdered, period? The violence and territorialism of mankind writ-large. You had no idea who it was you were upset on behalf, or reverential in favor, of, but something sacred or cursed was being disturbed by the careless steps of your mom’s bright red toes over this black earth.

Spirits and incantations shaken up from the disturbed leaves and cold soil. Screams stored within the stillness of the ground shaken from their silence and filling the air with a vibration that could only be felt in the heart. The vapors were so strong, like the fog of night, that you felt like you carried them in the car home with you.

“See,” your mom said as she grabbed your trembling hand with her free set of fingers. “I told you it was nothing to worry about.” And her face lit up from the headlights of oncoming traffic, before her mischievous smile disappeared into the darkness again.

That night you slept uneasily. You dreamt, but the funhouse impressions of the nightmares of your youth weren’t what greeted you this time. It was definitely a nightmare that you had, or something like it, but traded were the shadows and ghoulish grins from frosted window panes. In return were mundanely lit rooms, appearing to be normal or even clinical/professional in nature. Everything was fine on the surface. But with each passing second, some incongruous piece of your surroundings, or the surroundings of the protagonist (as you often dreamed as if it were a movie you were watching), became apparent. It would be a photograph on the wall, or a tool hanging in plain site that didn’t seem to have a function, even in the wildest machinations of an esoteric hobbyist.

Sometimes it would be loose pieces of clothing on the ground, chair, or coat-rack that happened to have one too many arms or was fit for the size of a body you had never seen before. Sometimes it would be an audio detail, like an ice cream truck with its tinny jingle, which was noticeable if one payed attention, but would become hard to ignore after one realized that it was the only sound from beyond these walls, whatever kind they were, that one could hear. And then the jingle would keep getting closer. And closer. And closer. Until you could hear the jingle in the next room, as if someone would walk out with a music box in their hands, but you’d always wake up before that point.

The solitary figure in these dreams, other than you, was your mom, in various states of dress, from butt naked to parka and snow boots, who would often stand in the dead center of the room, or off in a corner, or behind the TV, or at the end of the hallway. Your mom would either be deadeyed and disinterested, or would be failing to contain a smile. Either way, she would be oblivious to, or unconcerned with, the strangeness of everything around her. Her toes, if visible, would just continue to curl and uncurl playfully.

The feeling that pervaded these dreams was one of a dead certainty that something was coming. Coming for her. Escape was impossible, somehow. Vaguely. Hiding made no sense, there were no obscure places in these barren white, beige, or brown rooms. No shadows or enclaves. And there was nobody coming to help. There was just your awareness, your mom’s lack thereof, and then a sudden glimpse at a shadow or a pantleg, from some corner or crevice or doorway before the dream was pulled away from you, or rather you from it, in the moment of awakening. The last thing you’d remember seeing every time was your mom’s toes in that final second finally going still.

These dreams happened periodically from that night at your first haunted locale. They happened in varying frequency at different points in the year, but were at their least pronounced spread in the period around October, when your mom was in the process of chewing over what her haunted adventure would be this year. The most intense and “real’ dream would always happen the night of this event.

You took this picture of your mom. The location being Salem. Something about your mom’s style of dress really rubbed you the wrong way. In a place famous for its persecution of innocents for the crime of allegedly being witches, your mom’s deliberately witch-like style of dress made you feel sad. You weren’t like this normally. You weren’t against a dark joke or two. It wasn’t even that you had any explicit reverence for those who were tried and killed here. It was something that was so hard to put your forehead against the meaning of, never mind the tip of your tongue.

Luckily for you, the vibe here, though still frightening, wasn’t like it was last time. That was through no fault in the location itself. There was more than enough here to keep your overactive imagination in a state of phantasmagoric stupor. But the fangs of horror had been dulled by your last encounter with what was purported to be haunting phenomena. To subtract from the aura further, the men, many of whom held the hands of their girlfriends or wives, who looked over at your mother, enjoyed what they saw, and took the effort to look over at her often.

The sex instincts, especially of men, the way they manifested themselves in truth, rather than in books or movies, had that way of demystifying anything that may have brought you out of this world. You felt yourself squarely in a world dictated by cause and effect in those moments, and only once you and your mom found some obscure corner of the town could any sense of aura or tension build upon itself.

This photograph here, again taken by you, was from the Franklin farm, a haunted location famous for the murder-suicide by Brutus Franklin, a young man of 20 who shot his father and mother in their bed, shot his brother as he ran up the stairs in response to the sound of gunfire, and shot their servant as he tried to run out their front door. He did this all before shooting himself on the front porch.

The artificial nature of the attraction, and that was the right word, further demystified any potential horror. But you still felt a superstitious sense of reverence for the crimes that happened here. Your empathy extended almost one hundred years through space and time back to the night of the occurrence, like a warm blanket over the rich soil of this place. Your mother gallivanted over that blanket and soil with her boots. Something in you cringed at it. Like watching a grave-robber penetrate the bricks of a tomb in Egypt to emerge with what the ancient family, now dust themselves, left with their loved one for the next life.

Your mom shook the spirits from the hay bails, creaky machinery, and stocks of corn. All of this under a full moon. How could one do as much and not expect the forces that exist in all things, big or small, light or dark, loved or unloved, to strike back in some way? Was such a thing not real, or was there a capital being built in the currency of your mom’s actions, just waiting for its moment to repay her with interest? In what language did that offended tongue speak?  How did one convert that which was being done, to that which would be done in turn?

You could laugh at yourself in theory in that moment, but the laugh didn’t come naturally. The graveness of this moment to you was as heavy as a tombstone, or as pressing as a noose around a neck. Your mom put her white and elegant neck into the prop noose that hung over the cold tree branch by the barn. She laughed and asked you to snap another picture.

Satan worship again came into the picture the following year. This time the witches might have actually been real. To be clear, those involved in this incident believed they were witches. You had no reason to believe that it were actually the case. But the nature of their crimes, their jagged ferocity and cruelty, was as good as witchcraft. Or, rather, as bad.

Your mom huddled up in the oven where the most famous act of that dreadful night happened. The place where they shot that one scene (often referred to as “that scene”) in that otherwise mediocre movie filmed here. The child actress in that scene died 2 years afterward in a plane crash.

The relative obscurity of this place brought back some of the Druidic mysticism of earlier locations. Your mom’s garrish smile, arrogant to you, innocent and exciting to most others, didn’t help. You half expected some horror to happen right then and there. Of course, it was all in your imagination. You imagined her naked body, either dancing like the perpetrators, or writhing in ropes on the leaves like the victims. In either case, her pale flesh unconstituted for this terrain or season. She wasn’t supposed to be here. It didn’t want her here.

It? you thought after thinking it.

The year before this it was the site of the massacre during the Revolutionary War, where a small contingent of 41 patriots were gunned down by an ambushing force of 63 redcoats who clung to the trees like ghouls. This location was actually the most obscure yet, though many people were there. The ambush was an obscure moment during that historical period, one that most history books skim over. Strangely enough, your high school textbook managed to touch upon it, filling you with a distinct horror that only nostalgia could provide when your memory was jogged by your mom’s excited description of the event, which she told to you through her half open door as she changed into the nude and back again in her bedroom. Her red toes bright in the sinking sun, curling and uncurling, as she slipped on stockings.

It just so happened that a Halloween event, tacky and cheap, was coincidentally being held over that very spot. You and your mom were likely only two of a dozen or so of the hundreds of people there who were there for the reasons you were there for.

A prop graveyard, by some sick synchronicity, happened to be placed on the exact patch of land where the massacre happened. Your mom stood there with a smile on her face, soaking in the irony, tempting fate as she stood between two open graves. Her leggings bringing insult to injury in some strange way you couldn’t describe. Something about the cheap set, making mockery of the founding of your republic, and your mom’s current visual state and headspace screamed Starbucks to you. Like she was some ingrate, sitting on the shoulders of giants, those who died to hoist her that high, as her feet hung off and her toes twinkled carelessly as her devilish grin prettied the air without shame or reservation.

Though no fear of harm has lasted after all these years, the fear that something sacred was being violated and torn from its alcove of dignity, which its obscurity once afforded it in a world where nothing was sacred, filled you with a spiritual terror like nothing else before. And with that terror came a vague disgust. And when you saw your old classmate, you having being freed from those hallways for countless seasons, his nudging and whispering to his friend, as he made a less then subtle motioning to your mom with the nod of his head, instead of making you feel embarrassed or angry, as would normally be the case, it sure was back then, instead felt like it was justified. Like her sacred place as your mother, and her dignity as a woman, had been foregone by her sacrilegious actions. An eye for an eye.

His fist, and its up and down motion, making you look down at your mom’s hands, the hands he was imagining being put to use over his swollen and invited nether-region, was the final cherry on that sweet sundae. You rode home with your mom smiling that night. Feeling like finally some pushback had been achieved on her trouncing on the graves and hallowed grounds of others. She was smiling too, but smiling at the trouncing and skipping, thus further making you secure in your sense of justice.

That night, you couldn’t sleep. You knew what would come to you the second your heavy eyelids met. But with each second you kept yourself awake, the heavier they became. They finally fell together as you watched Halloween on the couch, and there you were. In a small hut, surrounded by woods. Your mom, dressed in bunny ears and nothing else, stood upright on the wooden floor in the center of the place. It was broad daylight.

Her toes curled and uncurled and she just smiled at you, saying nothing, moving little. Her pink nipples were soft in spite of the chilly air. That was the first incongruity. The next one came when you realized that her breathy exhalations, which slipped through the gate of her rosy red lips, weren’t visible, even though yours were. The third thing you noticed was her bush. You had only seen your mom naked once, from behind, her bare butt crack delighting and thrilling you, but you knew that there was no way her pubic hair looked like that. It was black, like the hair of another woman. And it was far from out of control, but also thick and wild in a way that your just somehow knew your mom wouldn’t allow. Almost pagan in a way.

Outside, the leaves were a beautiful array of colors. This should have alleviated the mounting terror, even if a bit. But that was just it. Outside. There was nothing out there. Not a sound at all. Not a sound anywhere. Not even from your exhaling breath. The only sound you could hear was the sound of your mom’s red toes on the creeky floor.

And as soon as you realized that, you saw It come into the frame of the window, and just then your mom’s toes stopped.

You woke up sweating, and gasping for air. On television was Halloween 2. A woman stood in a bathtub with her bare breasts free to the sight of the camera and her masked stalker. You shut off the TV and you collected your bearings. You couldn’t bring yourself to shut off the lights in the living room, to do so would be to give you no light to walk back to your room with, so you left them on as you slunk back down the hallway and to your room. As you passed your mom’s room, something caught your eye.

You looked in to see her lying there on her side away from you, her body, nipples, and muff, whatever they looked like, completely covered. She was completely still. All of her except for at the very edge of the bed, where her naked feet peaked out at you from the covers. You clenched your jaw tightly. Even as she dreamed, her toes curled and uncurled.

Another year had passed, and not a friendly one. The dreams became more intense in their lucidity and therefore in their eerie unbearability. So much so that the start of every day felt tainted by their sickly afterglow. Your mom, your best and only friend in many ways, was the mom you knew and always loved, but somehow, the version of her you saw when you caught her viewing horror movies now, was more upsetting to you than any version of her you beheld previously. The movies themselves also became terrifying to you again. Re-awoken as such, as if back from the grave themselves.  It was as if you were a kid again, and you could no longer see the seams, the hokey costumes and props, the dumb characters and the clunky or effective language of film that stretched itself out through the script and mis-en-scene. 

It was now as if, as it was before, each film was some dark sabbath, some jubilee of dark deeds or happenings practiced by some long gone pre-Abrahamic tribe in some other form, but now repurposed and hidden in plain sight through a modern medium. Like something conjured rather than created. Conjured from where, you didn’t know. You didn’t recognize Kevin Bacon or Johnny Depp or Jaime Lee Curtis or even Jenifer Aniston for that matter, on that screen any longer. These were all real people, people about your age, you were watching being devoured up there, just beyond the window that was the Television glass. And your mom watched on, smiling, enjoying it. Washing herself in the glow of those dark arts.

And as the days ‘til the annual event widdled themselves down, and the days went from being long to short, the shadows stretched further in earlier periods of daylight, the dreams got worse. So much so that you didn’t think you’d be able to take it any longer. Those white walls being conjured up by the walls around you. Uncanny recollections that you’d do much to avoid. Too much.

You would see your mom periodically on her laptop at the dining room table, red toes curling and uncurling underneath and in its shadow, looking for her next adventure. One you were free to avoid, but one that you couldn’t.

And as September ended, and the leaves became pretty, as pretty as your mom herself, and then dropped from the branch, you started to notice something strange. Your mom hadn’t mentioned anything to you about this year’s adventure. Hadn’t she found something yet? If she hadn’t, it clearly wasn’t for lack of trying. 

And it wasn’t until the 13th, on Friday night, that she brought it up to you that she couldn’t find anything worth gallivanting towards. The distress on her face was palpable. The relief on yours was apparently invisible to her, but it felt so intense to you. Like a consistent, violent vibrating of all things, and all things that supported those things, had all at once ceased.

And with each day passing, nearing the big day, the distress on her face faded and faded, and her toes were still, even during the purple-black light of her favorite horror films. And the dreams, as if following in the spirit, also became less intense and less real, until at some point you woke up not remembering them at all. That was on the 23rd and 24th.

On the 25th, you came into the house to see your mom watching The Stepfather. On the screen was a young woman in the bathroom, disrobing, letting her bare ass show before stepping into the shower. As you went to pass by, not wanting to distract from the tension of the scene for your mom, something about her caught your eye. Something that caused your stomach to drop.

You looked over, and there she was, sitting still in anticipation for the next jump and sting of the soundtrack, completely inert. Completely except for in one place. Her red toes, which curled and uncurled.

Suddenly they stopped. At the exact moment when the that violin string was tugged violently in the film’s soundtrack, she turned herself to see you standing there. You, startled and weak in the knees, stood there waiting for her to say something. She was smiling from ear to ear.

“I found this year’s haunting,” she exclaimed, excited to share the good news with you.

You both stood outside the gate, waiting for the line to move. Somebody, a middle-aged man with his family, was arguing with the booth worker. You looked passed them at the dayglo wonderland of laughs and screams and lights that blinkered in and out. Calliope music repeated itself ad infinitum from loud speakers and otherworldly voices amplified by megaphones urged young men to step right up and win their young girlfriend’s a teddy bear or t-shirt.

The man’s issue must have been settled while you were distracted by the bread and circuses of it all, as the line had finally started moving again. The girl at the booth, in spite of being screamed at, seemed bored more than anything else. Definitely not upset. She took the money from your mom’s white hand and placed two tickets within her fingers. Your mom turned back and smiled at you and you both walked in.

“I like it, sweety,” she said as she turned back to you.

This was a new one for her. It was the first time she had chosen a location that wasn’t purported to be haunted at all. This was just a patch of bare land by the river. She didn’t bring you here for the land. She brought you here for what had come and settled itself on this otherwise empty and secular piece of land. It was the fair. The Northeast Exhibition, as it was called, traveled around the Northeast through Spring, Summer, and Fall, at irregular intervals.

The fair was like any other fair, and though there were some horror related sideshows, just in time for Halloween, nobody would think of this little event as being scary or ominous in any way. The fact that many here were draped in the rags and trappings of costumes was incidental. It was Halloween after all.

It took someone of your mom’s caliber in some areas, or lack of respect and prudence in others, to see something of note here. Something that lent itself to her macabre preoccupation. Something that evaded surface analysis.

Because what your mom had discovered about this tacky sideshow, sticky with cotton candy and discarded gum, was that every Halloween, in every example she could find, the place where that fair had set up would have some strange occurrence or happening. It happened once in Boston where a fireworks factory lit up on the other side of town, killing three people. It happened once in a small town in Maryland, where a screeching train crash occurred downriver from the fair’s location, visible from those on the top half of the ferris wheel. Events like this were apparently manifold, both consistent with the seasons but diverse in their details, at least according to your mom, but the one that caused you most distress, and the one that brought you to the end of your seemingly infinite rope - which you had only been made aware of by your mom as you sat listening to her strained and euphoric voice in the passenger seat, her face illuminating in oncoming headlights and disappearing back into the dark as she spoke- was of the disappearance that happened in Cremona, New Jersey.

Something about the carelessness with which your mom referenced this event was like the final chisel blow to mortar that brought the city walls down. Her sensual glee at the eeriness of it, her thrill from the suffering of another, whether she saw it that way or not, that lit up her pretty face. The image of your mom standing there, in the corner next to that bookcase where each book on each shelf had its title printed on its binding backward, as she stood there naked, the ceiling fan making a strange rattling noise, with her nipples dark brown and her toes doing their usual song and dance, rekindled itself in your mind.

That was your dream from the night before. And in this dream you heard it. Heard it for the first time. The laugh. It laughed before it arrived. And your mom just smiled on. And in one small moment of horror, a hand, of some bright and unnatural color, though which you couldn’t remember, came in from the doorway and grabbed her inner thigh. Her toes stopped curling. You woke up. Woke up dreading the night to come.

Your disgust made you silent. Your mom asked you if you would like popcorn or to play the wack-o-mole. You responded with a Laconic “no,” and “I don’t think so,” masking your anger in the drag of indifference. It amazed you how much you could dislike her. Grievance upon grievance mounted too ambitiously, and the tottering from side to side had started. Even as she bumped into your side when the two of you walked, something that you used to find comforting and would lean and wobble into, you now felt burdened by. You thought about that hand reaching out and grabbing her bare thigh. And that was the only thing that pacified you. That horrible hand. You remembered it now as clear as day. It was red. Her white thigh. Her big toe still. And then whatever it was that came next coming. Finally coming.

Your thoughts were interrupted by a larger than life voice penetrating the night air, the kind of voice you expected to never hear outside of television.

“Step right up young man and win your girlfriend here one of these exquisite plushies!”

Your mom giggled next to you. That’s when you realized he was talking to you.

Your face went red, not accustomed to being made the center of attention, at least not for a long while now. Feeling secure in your obscurity since graduating high school, and never more being caught in its hallways by one of those goblin-like peers of yours, who took delight in making you small in front of an audience, eviscerating you on the sand in front of stands of Roman masses. That and the end of presentations or being called to read in class by a teacher who delighted in the notion that they caught you while you weren’t paying attention. But now here you were, colored over by orange and red lights affixed to the tent of the man before you, while others looked on, waiting for you to turn his monologue into a dialogue.

The man was big, with jet black hair and a bushy beard. He motioned to the back wall. “All you have to do is shoot these pretty blue jays from their perch and any of these wonderful bears or seals or turtles could be yours.“ He motioned to the pyramid of plushies with his other hand.

You turned to your mom, not sure what you were expecting. “Go ahead,” she said, and smiled to you.

“May I just say, son,” said the man. You turned to meet his gaze. “This girl is way out of your league. At least as far as looks go.”

Your mom giggled again. “No, no, I’m not. He’s a handsome young man,” she insisted. “In any case, I’m his mother.”

“Oh!” the man said. “You could have fooled me. Okay son, earn your mom an early mother’s day gift. Maybe she’ll trade you some of her looks if ye do.”

You turned back to your mom again, who smiled a smile so syrupy sweet that it was strangely off-putting. “Go ahead she said,” and she subtly nudged you forward.

A plastic rifle was offloaded into your hands. “Go ahead son, shoot. If you miss, you’re still among the stars.”

Your mom’s hand, the hand, was on your left shoulder. You put the gun up to your right shoulder and aimed down the sights. The first wooden bluejay that passed you shot for it.


“Wow, son. Did you serve in Okinawa? Great shot! Take another.”


“Good job, honey!” Your mom pinched your shoulder with her full palm.


“One more son, and I’ll have to give you the plushy of your mother’s choice. It would be a joy to give it to such a pretty lady. I’m rooting for you, boy.”

Just as the final bluejay rounded the bend and you lifted the rifle to take your shot, something caught your eye.

Something red.

You turn your head toward a gathering of onlookers standing off to the side. There eyes all on you. But your eyes instead were focused on the only person there to be looking somewhere else. Someone was standing there, among the rogue’s gallery of ghouls and superheroes, wearing a bright red devil mask, detailed with a goatee and snake-like eyes. And instead of looking at you, he was looking a little ways behind you. You followed his gaze while the music played incessantly and filled the moment with its jingly circles, and as you did, you felt your body turn to meet the task. Your jaw clenched, your hand compressed.


Your mom was at the end of your eyes’ path, cheering. “Wow!”

“Great shot! You seen that, folks,” said the carnival barker behind you. “Right dead in the center. And he wasn’t even looking. What a showboat!”

“You did it, sweety!” said your mom and pinched your shoulder.

“So son, what will it be?”

You turned to your mom.

“Umm,” she said, looking past you. “Oh, that one.”

You turned to see which one it was. The man grabbed it off the pyramid stand, amid its seating place of its Gethsemane with its cotton friends. Your eyes narrowed when you made out what it was. What the man lifted from its inanimate position was a little red devil. It had a tail and pitchfork. A smile crossed its face, mischievous and knowing. The style of it was vaguely Japanese, or at least fashioned itself that way.

The man handed it to your mother, who held it close to her chest, hugging it tightly as if it were a puppy dog or white bunny rabbit.

You looked over to your left again. The man in the devil mask was gone.

It would be a joy to give it to such a pretty lady. It echoed in your head as your mother bumped into you, holding her little devil close in her delicate fingers and against her warm chest. You thought of that man, the barker, with his powerful voice, and you imagined what his large body looked like without clothes on. About his penis while erect. And you imagined what he would be like in your home, naked in bed next to your mom, the pretty lady, as he called her.

Your mom bumped into you again, but this time her arms went around your waist suddenly, pressing the devil you won her into your ribs. “A haunted house!” she exclaimed, and pointed ahead. There it stood, big and garish. It was too expensive looking for it to not be a staple of this carnival all year round, but its presence held special weight at this time of year.

As your mom egged you to go - “come on, let’s do it.” - her little devil, with its rascally smile, looked up at you. You knew that swimming through the dark purple waters of your mom’s mind was the vision of that missing woman, bare arms and legs kicking through the darkness. Your jaw clenched together. You just nodded your head.

The entrance was guarded by a bored 18-year old with fake fangs, who waved you in without effort. As you entered into the dark of the place you were greeted by a wax dummy, who looked much like a ghoulish mockery of a butler. Your mom grabbed you by your sides from behind and pushed you in further, almost hiding behind the shelter of your back. As skinny as you were, she was smaller, so this arrangement somehow worked.

As you rounded the corner, you could see the path ahead, as well as where it curled back on itself on a platform. A couple was walking down that direction, the man dressed like Jack Sparrow, and his girlfriend like Alice from Alice in Wonderland. As she walked, they stepped over a metal grating, which shot air upwards. The girl’s dress blew up. But before anyone could see anything, her boyfriend shifted forward dutifully, barring her skirt from lifting to the point where any part of her, any part she (or he) wouldn’t want to be seen, could be visible.

Behind them, a young man about your age, secure in the weight of his gathered posse of friends, responded to the boyfriend with a “booo!” The boyfriend turned back and gave them a dirty look, but they both continued. The girl’s face and thighs were red with embarrassment.

Your mom giggled behind you. “Those guys almost got a show.” Your teeth clenched tightly in your mouth.

You continued on, over the grating, which blew your mom’s hair up as she giggled, and passed the Frankenstein monster and Wolf Man who both stood with their arms outstretched, as if built cosmetically separate upon the otherwise identical mass produced mannequins or anthropomorphized towers of wires. You passed the ventriloquist dummy and the devilish looking clowns playing poker, and their painted faces and maniacal settings which mixed the jovial with the frightening. Your mom ooh’d and ah’d to all of it. The cheapness of the place, rather than downplaying the vibe it gave you, amplified it. The cackles and the moans and the howls, all decrepit and crackly, penetrated some central part of you. All of this while your mom’s soft, white hands pinched into your sides with each thrill. As if she was at home here. A creature of the night.

Eventually, you felt a chill. It was that uncanny feeling, the one everyone knew but could never put their finger on or explain, but you knew somehow through some sense out of many available to you that you were being watched. Ahead were the rowdy young people facing away towards the direction of the path they followed, each one daring the other in whispers to go up and lift Alice’s skirt. So instead, by process of elimination, you decided to look behind you. You peeked over your mom’s shoulder.

And there, standing between the clowns and the dummy was the man from earlier. The man in the devil mask. He just stood there, staring. His arms at his side, and his legs symmetrical in pose.

Your mom looked back, then back up at you. “What, sweety? You scared?” She smiled devilishly.

You just kept looking at him, not knowing what to expect. Not even sure what you wanted to happen next. There was no conceivable thing he could do, including continue to stand there and do nothing, that would put a chill down your spine.

That was proven when he broke from his static position. He started walking forward. Your throat went dry, almost all at once.

She looked back again. “What are you looking at? You want to see the clowns again?”

“No,” you said. And you turned around and kept walking forward at a slightly rushed pace.

“Slow down,” your mom said, after a bit.

You turned around to see him there still, following, staring ahead. Staring at the two of you.

“I want to feel the vibe here,” she said. “It feels spooky. I bet you this is where that girl disappeared.” She pinched your hip playfully. “She’s probably trapped in here. Maybe she was one of those displays back there. And she’s looking at us through desperate eyes, hoping we’d notice and save her. But we just walked on passed. Everyone does.” She giggled at her macabre imaginings. “’Look at this cheap display,’ they say, and pay her no mind. And leave her there in the dark by herself, waiting for the next chance. Waiting forever.”

The feeling of those hands on you, the evil of your surroundings, your mom’s giggling words, the smells of cotton candy and styrofoam, and, not least of all, the man behind you all came together and you now wanted to be free from the oppressive air of that place immediately, not that you ever even wanted to enter in the first place.

As you rounded the corner, the path was now openly visible, as it snaked over a slight dip on a platform off to the left. The lights and the sounds of the outer world were now visible and audible through the exit, which stood there as if beckoning you. If this place were a little more high budget, and a little more ambitious, you’d expect that to be a fake exit into a fake outdoors, the thought of which was intolerable to you.

The couple, just about to make it through, with the boyfriend in front guiding his girl by her hand, suddenly were blasted by a gust of air from below. His girlfriend’s skirt flew up, and her big butt cheeks, still red with embarrassment from the earlier dress rehearsal for what just happened now, were visible, visible for only a moment, but a moment was enough.

The young men between you and them cheered and hollered at her, the red on her cheeks, all four of them, only pushing them further.

“Alright!” your mom said quietly from behind you as if she were one of the boys.

The couple, flustered and red-faced rushed through the exit. The young men, hooting and hollering continued on. One of them looked back, saw your mom behind you, and kept his eyes on her for a bit, before turning back around and continuing on with his friends.

You turned around to see the man behind you still there. Still walking. Still looking ahead. No twist in his line of sight to see any of the objects of note on either side of him. Disinterested in all but what lay before him.

This time he, though it took you a moment to be sure of this, was closer than before. His red-gloved hands hung, only moving slowly as he walked forward. You grabbed your mom’s forearm’s at your sides, and you rushed on in somewhat of a power-walk. You rushed on until you were at the very hind of the group of young men. The one who had turned around previously did so again, and this time he was startled by something in your face. You turned around to see the man behind you closing the distance.

The exit was nearing, but the path was blocked by the young men, who were moving at a snail’s pace, pushing and prodding each other with frattish camaraderie as they went. Just as the man in the mask got closer, close enough to lunge and catch you if it were indeed his prerogative in this moment, the last of the young men cleared the exit, and you grabbed your mom tightly and slipped through the gap between them and the front of the doorway.

You were out. Out into the night where hundreds walked to and fro around you. You could breathe. You inhaled deeply.

“Wow,” your mom said. “You really were scared.” She giggled.

You exhaled, your breath like a spirit incarnate in dust before you.

The night air was salutary. It cleansed the vapor of fear around you and made you feel clean. Your throat loosened up and your dry mouth was cooled by the embrace of the slight breeze.

Your mom pointed over your shoulder, the crook of her elbow resting next to your neck. “You think they serve drinks there?”

You looked ahead. There was a tent sitting there, somewhat of an eyesore, which was lit red as if it were a darkroom. You could imagine the graceful steps of Jessica Harper through that light as a progressive rock soundtrack played. Maybe that’s what they were going for. Maybe that’s what drew your mom to it.

She stepped passed you and stared listfully at the landmark, then turned and looked up and into your eyes. “I’m thirsty,” she said.

You smiled down at her. “I guess we can go see.”

She turned around and started walking. “Besides,” she said, and looked back at you. “I have a feeling that the bad thing might happen there,” and she winked at you and turned around. Something about her walking before you made her contemptible to you. Her blonde hair, peaking out from beneath her beanie in pig tails, and her entitled steps over the grass and concrete of what she thought, wanted, and expected to be tragedy, was all too much to bear. You were a frayed knot now. A platform hung beneath you carrying years worth of unspoken grievances in decrepit crates that would shatter on impact with the ground stories below.

You turned back to see the man standing there by the exit of the haunted house, staring. Motionless. Without any piece of him available to read or extrapolate from. Just a mask and red gloves. Limbs still. The eye holes on that mask, wherever they were, pointed in your direction, without variation or distraction. You turned back to your mom. She went underneath the overhang of the tent, and was immediately bathed in its red light. Just before you took your step within, you turned around and looked at the haunted house exit again. There was nobody standing there. You stepped under the tent.

Your mom took a sip of her “Witch’s Root Beer.” She looked around. “I wonder who it’ll be she said,” and looked back at you.

You just stared in her eyes, not sure what to say or what she meant.

“The one who will go missing, I mean.” She turned back around. “That girl in the corner there is pretty. It has to be her. The spirits here only want the pretty ones.” You could hear her satisfaction in the scenario she cooked up. You looked at the back of her head, beanie and pig tails, and you felt a great loathing, something which the compact gorgeous nature of her only added to. It was as if you could feel her toes, restless within the shelter of her boot. Her jacket and leggings cover for what she really was underneath. Just ass. Dancing in the macabre, a playful and safe shadow of evils that were genuinely real, given a specter or added curse, a shade that sidestepped the common cause and effect of physics in order to make her quiet suburban life a little more extraordinary.

You thought about the decadence of it all. The tampering with of spirits, though not real, meant something in the hearts of those who couldn't afford to be glib with life and death itself. Generations passed, in a world much darker, nights without any light but for the reflections of the moon, and the desperate reach of stars, which peaked like pinholes into a world of wolf-tooth and enemy spear which glimmered vaguely in the night.

Your mom stepped on it all. Her inclination towards such thinking, a gift of a million years worth of trial and error on our species, saving us from distant catastrophe through near mythology and moral tales. The surrounding world, claimed to be circled by monsters, and pierced from below by hell, because it held more deterrence in effect than truths equally as dangerous, but with none of the vivid flashes of monstrousness. Wolves became hounds of hell. Outsiders hiding in treelines, camouflaged for ambush, became devils and witches dancing under the jagged branches of the woods where one should not tread.

Your mom, fallen ass backward on the cushion that was modernity, with her cute pink butt, unblemished, played with these pieces of grand importance, like a colonist’s fat child in his estate, while he watched the locals through his window, as they prayed in horror for rain, or for the bores and gazelles to come back from whichever piece of earth had swallowed them in jealous anger; all while the sun set on the savanna behind them.

“Maybe it won’t be a disappearance this time,” she said. “No. It has to be something different. It always is.”

And then the thought flashed in your mind: Did superstition have to be false? Or could it be that the same unique lining up of the planets that was the modern Occident, the bubble which it was, edges so shiny they cast only reflection in on itself, was as much a shelter from the truth of incantations and oaths, light or dark - emotions, tangible and reverberating through time without body - as it was a respite from want and tragedy? You thought of your mom’s foot, secure and warm in that boot. Not only secure from the nipping physics and chemistry of the cold, but from the tongue of ice imps or long gone jilted lovers which licked at the exposed flesh of the living they so begrudged.

Was this an epiphany born of clear thought or a delusion born of wishful thinking? Your mom’s capital with the black universe, where light was an anomaly, not a feature, had accrued. She was about to receive what she paid for. You could feel it though you didn’t believe it. Whatever it was that that meant.

Even among the bright red, all swallowing, you saw it in the corner of your eye. You looked up over your mom’s shoulder, and in the middle of the crowd, in the open area between the benches and the bar, you saw It standing there, almost as if it were floating in mid air. Though it was certainly affixed to that body. You had just realized now that you hadn’t even seen His back. And something in you told you that you never would, at least not until you stood with him between you and your mom. And even then you weren’t so sure. Maybe he could face both directions at once. Why not? The ancients wouldn’t think it so ridiculous. And when you looked back down on your mom, eyes on the corner away from her watcher, pointed at the pretty twenty-something she built an entire movie around in her head, you realized you had no reason to believe the ancients were any more ridiculous than that. If anything, they were much wiser.

Suddenly, without much warning, you felt the need to relieve yourself assault your lower body. You looked over and saw the line for the portable washroom. Only two people were waiting. Within a minute it could be much more. You looked back up over your mom’s shoulder and the man was gone.

“I’m,” you started, apprehensively. “I’m going to the bathroom, mom.”

She turned around and looked back up at you. “You’re supposed to say ‘I’ll be right back.’“

You looked down at her, unsure of what she meant.

“Like in Scream,” she explained and giggled. Then she pulled on the arm of her plushy.

“Oh,” as you stepped out and over the seat. “In Scream...” You walked off clenching your jaw as you did.

Red light shone through underneath the outhouse door. You looked in the mirror and noticed you looked about a decade older. Your eyes were ringed from stress. Had the year worth of bad sleep, or no sleep at all some nights, done so much to you and you were only realizing it now? Or was there something about this night that made you into what you were now? Whatever it was, would its effect pass when the night does?

The sounds of carnival music, rotating in its artificial circles under the door, along with speeches and wild beckonings through megaphones and screams from roller coasters and dead drops, snaked their way in, a cacophony under the door, interwoven with the red rays. You stared down at it, suddenly feeling apprehensive at the thought of opening the door. The music became menacing, and the loud voices crackled with an evil intent, while the screams grew and grew, and became less the product of thrills to your ear’s recollection, and more like the bemoaning chants you imagined as the product of pain and horror beyond imagining.

Suddenly the door started to boom. You backed up into the mirror with your hands behind you. Your teeth beginning to chatter like the old days, when you stood in the dark of the hallway, watching that screen.

“Hurry the fuck up, man! I’m going to piss my pants.”

And with that, you quickly made for the door and opened it, and for the first time in your life you rejoiced at seeing a young man in your age group, much bigger than you, and angry. A lineup of six others snaked behind him, all annoyed with you. You wanted to drop and kiss the soil. You would take anger at you over the phantasms that cooked within the cauldron of your fevered mind.

As you got out of the way. You looked back within the red glow of the tent to see your mom there, smiling at you. There was a warmth in it. A warmth that was always there but was invisible to you for a while now. Not just tonight. But for months at the very least, if not years. It was as if she were genuinely happy to see you, though you were only gone for a minute. Was she always this happy to see you?

You smiled back, genuinely and without push from behind.

Just as you did, a red, redder than the dyed light-bulbs under that tent, came into your view from the right. He moved at a constant pace, just behind your mom along the walking path between benches. His arm lifted up over the rim of her glass and then fell back down. And just before he disappeared from sight, he turned his head, his blank snake eyes on you. And then he was gone, hidden by the flap of the tent.

Your mom’s drink bubbled for a second and then stopped. You looked back up at her face and she was still smiling. Smiling her gorgeous smile.

When you got back to the bench you sat down.

“Did you fall in?” she asked, amused.

“No,” you said, answering as if it was a real question.

“I thought you were going to be the one to go missing this time.” She smiled at you. Then she lifted her drink to her face and began to sip it.

You just watched her as she did. Her lips along the cool frost of the glass. She sucked up a piece of ice with it, and in turn, she exhaled a breath that matched the temperature of the surrounding air, making it invisible.

You looked over her shoulder. Nobody was standing there. No devil that is. Just more souls bathed in red, all voices intermingled in an incomprehensible smorgasbord of thoughts and cliches, all equal in their meaninglessness and distance from the here and now of your current predicament.

Your mom took another deep swig of her glass.

A darkness swarmed over you. And then, just as suddenly, the thought occurred. It was happening. Your mom had done it. She had pushed too hard against the veil of something unknown and without name, and it was pushing back.

He was pushing back. You knew who He was. Everyone knew who He was.

You looked down at the devil, all stuffed with fluff, with his back against your mom’s chest, smiling up at you with his knowing grin.

Your exhalation floated before you in ecstasy as your mom’s glass emptied itself down the pipe of her throat, down into the void and shadow inside her.

She was the prettiest one here. She should have known it would be her.

The two of you sat there not saying much. And you waited for Him. He would know what you were thinking. He knew everything about you. He had danced along the edges of your ironies, and came just as they became all that there were left. He would come now. Come just at the right moment and take her from you as you sat there and watched. He would do it because it would be perfect. And that was the revenge of the spirit: perfect. Because it was without reference to physics or math. It lived in a realm of art and theme alone. It had no rules except for the rules which dictated the ultimate ends. Human in shape, but infinite in extent.

You and your mom sat there for another unit of time. You couldn’t keep track any longer, whether it was the circumstance or the red light, time didn’t feel like it stepped forward at a constant rate anymore. It was more like a dance, making circles along the floor.

Your mom looked up at you. “Let’s go look for some more fun.” She grabbed her little devil and went to get up.

You looked behind her and you saw nobody there still. You looked behind yourself and saw the same. A pang of worry floated through you, but then disappeared under the chariot wheel of another thought: It will happen, no matter its form. There was a magic in that bench seat that propelled your mom’s soft butt upwards and in motion. Everything within this place worked toward the same end. You knew it.

The world of color engulfed your mom again, making her hair blonde, her cheeks pink, and her eyes as black as the night itself. You continued on through the wasteland of sounds and light, clashing and commingling in a soup around you. It wasn’t until your mom press herself into you again that your eyes focused on something that took coherent shape.

“A hall of mirrors!” she exclaimed, excited. She clutched onto your arm and looked up at you. “I hear if you look deeply enough into the furthest reflection you can make out, you can see your soul.” Her eyes went wide playfully. “Come on, let’s go.”

The girl who worked there graced the entrance with her tired and blank face, in keeping with everything else here. You both stepped in, and continued through the black hallway. As you rounded the corner, a world of infinite you’s came to be. You’s from every angle. Your mom’s face from each side, looking at herself in the back of her head the way you had, and you seeing yours. You always saw yourself as small and non-imposing, but next to her, you looked formidable, both in stature and character.

The rings around your eyes were gone. The devil in your mom’s arms repeated infinitely along with you, its smile visible from every angle of itself. You felt through the maze with her as she giggled. At one point she said “wait,” stopping you from continuing. Then she threw her plushy underhandedly at the path before you, to which it stopped midair, shaking existence itself and fell to the floor. “They polish these mirrors like pros,” she said, evidently impressed.

At some point, possibly at the halfway mark, it was hard to be sure, she stopped moving. “Wait,” she said. You looked over at her, staring into space. “I can see it.”

Your mouth and throat were dry. “See what?”

“My soul,” she said. And she approached the mirror next to her. She stared into it intently. The mirror was at such an angle, that infinite hers appeared in it, each one smaller than the last, and they twisted slightly counter clockwise as they went deeper.

In that moment, you saw a flash of red snap up from all directions. It hadn’t occurred to until just that moment that you had been alone, the two of you, all this time. As your mom stared deeply into the mirror. You saw the red mask, somehow facing you in every reflection, of which there were countless. You backed up reflexively, teeth chattering, and you noticed, with the freedom of your heel, that you had a clear path behind you.

Suddenly, your mom fell forward, her shoulder now pressing against the glass before her. Her plushy fell from her arms and rolled on the ground towards you. And He hovered in closer from all angles. You knelt down and picked up the plushy. And just then, all at once, your mom collapsed to the ground below, a moment that was repeated simultaneously and infinitely in the mirror before her.

You turned your head and saw it. The exit. You turned around again and saw Him nearing closer. Your mom breathed slowly on the floor, cherub like and peaceful. Her pig tails strewn on the floor in both directions. The toes of her boots facing away from her. Her cute butt up in the air.

The image of her now contrasted itself in her mind with her under that red light earlier, smiling at you, happy to see you. The warmth in your chest like a distant memory. One that you lunged toward.

Suddenly, something in you bubbled up. You shot forward. And just as suddenly, you stopped. You couldn’t move any further. Because standing before you was glass. A copy of you stood in it at 45 degrees. He was now there, in that very glass, a one-to-one reflection where your mom lay on the ground, blissfully unaware of all, you were sure of it. As you pressed the glass in front of you, then looked around for the real her among dozens of copies, it hit you.

“This is it,” you murmured to yourself. A sudden rush overcame you. A thrill through your body.

You turned around, and just before stepping toward the exit, you stopped. Then you turned to the right to see the real exit, not its reflection, standing before you. You turned around, and the last thing you saw before you stepped up those stairs, and you saw it from every angle at once, was His red glove descending towards her body. It grabbed her thigh.

The night had wavered, the masses thinned, the lights dimmed, and the moon was engulfed in clouds. As couples and families streamed out into the lot and drove off into the night, there was a house just half a mile from the carnival itself. It was surrounded on three sides by deep woods. Infinite blackness within them. Half on the driveway, half on the lawn was a red van. The lights were on for a bit.

A young couple passed by, still embarrassed by earlier happenings. But even in the stew of their embarrassment, something about the house grabbed their attention. They hadn’t remembered seeing it on their way out here. And that was when the sun was still out. Something about it felt like it didn’t fit. Like it had just rose up from the dirt below, here only for this horrible night, and then it would be swallowed again once some evil moment came to pass. They both stared at it without saying a word. That was until the lights were extinguished within. They continued on down the barren road towards town.

An empty clear plastic envelope sat on the couch in the darkness. On it, a cardboard piece displaying a pretty woman in a maid costume. The sounds from the stairway into the basement reverberated upstairs into the darkness. The impressions of the living room half visible through slats of moonlight.

The lights in the basement exploded into life, and then buzzed endlessly, the only sound other than those footsteps. In seconds, He walked down holding his new housemaid in his arms. She was naked but for her new costume. He looked ahead as He reached level ground. Then He walked on into the opposite corner. When He got there, He let her drop from His arms onto a couch.

She writhed around as He disrobed. She stared up at Him, and He down at her. Her eyes, even through their hazy greyness, the product of His tampering with her drink, she still had much more character and wherewithal in her face than the face of His plastic mask, which stared down at her without change. Underneath, His skin, which was exposed everywhere except for his face, was almost as pink as hers. His erect cock stood out, strong and firm, like the expression on His mask.

He knelt down and put His middle and ring finger within her and felt around. Her pubic region was completely shaven and her nipples hard. He felt her stomach, hips and thighs with His white hand. He then looked down at her peaceful face through the holes in his mask and slowly inserted His cock inside her wet mouth. He began thrusting in and out until He got a good pace. His balls made it all the way to her lips.

Her tongue carelessly danced around her mouth, and in doing so, delighted His cock in many places.

That was enough. It was time for her sweet fruit to be bit into. He flipped her over onto her sides and lay down next to her. And then he slowly pressed His cock into her. His static devil face stared at her as he did. When his balls met her guch, he pulled back. Then he thrust forward. Then he pulled back. And thrust forward again. Then he hit a rhythm which went up in pace with each pump.

His body, pelvis and balls started to sweat. Her nipples, which were previously hard, had now totally gone soft from his body heat. Suddenly her arm shot up reflexively and hit his mask, which was pushed halfway up his face. He grabbed it with his white hand and pulled it off.

“Oh fuck! He said,” and threw the mask across the room. It landed behind another couch. “This pussy is so good! So good. So good. Fuck!”

Your mom’s butt cheeks slapped against his rugged pelvis.

He thought about the girl in the Alice and Wonderland dress and her perfect ass. He had only picked your mom over her because he feared you less than he did Alice’s boyfriend. But even still, he knew he made the right choice. He had never had a pussy as sweet as your mom’s. It was as if the sweet look of her face, cloned itself with a tactile sensation, and inserted itself in the hole between her legs.

He had almost quit this yearly tradition after last time. He was lucky he didn’t. The fair came in September that time. He had targeted two college-age girls, and had succeeded in taking them home, both barely conscious, doped up delightfully. One of the two girls woke up in the middle of his fun. He was infuriated. Luckily he had kept his mask on that time, and he blindfolded her and dropped her off with her unconscious friend on the outskirt of town opposite his. After finishing his fun of course. That always came first. Just like now.

This time he had upped the dose. Why leave anything to fate? All of this happened because he made it happen, not through any invisible hand that just so happened to sit on his side. What force would choose him anyway? He worked at a gas station and lived with his mother. He lived half of his paycheck, and half off skimming her retirement fund.

He was living the life as far as he could tell. Just seven years of violating ass through will and planning alone. This was his seventh year and ninth victim. Getting laid only once a year was well worth it when his yearly victims were always well out of his league and were, well, his victims.

“Lucky your boyfriend lost you in that hall of mirrors,” he said. “Or I wouldn’t be taxing your ass now.” He leaned in and started kissing her face all over. Her lips and nose and eyes. Her forehead. Everything. “You’re a solid ten,” he said, reminding himself of the glory of the moment proudly. “A solid ten.”

She was pretty enough to date, he thought, but why date? This was so much more fun. Just a yearly tradition, the same but different each time. Everyone needed a yearly tradition. He wondered if she had any. He would never know. The only thing he’d know about her is the feeling of the deepest parts of her body. And that was all the mattered. The flesh. For what else existed, really?

When he was done with her, done only after hours of use, every part of her body seeing every part of his, he loaded her into the back of his van of his. All her clothes, her purse, and everything in it, including her wallet with her credit cards, sat inside, where they’d stay. He got into his van and started driving. Given the dose he gave her, he felt brave enough to drop her in city limits. That would be fun.

As he got into town, he headed for what he knew to be the roughest neighborhood there was. Your mom, occasionally mumbling sentences that roughly sounded like Celtic chants, but only to the untrained ear, jostled around back there with the careless turns of his steering wheel.

As he neared the roughest street he could find, he saw four homeless guy huddled around a fire like witch’s of old. He stopped along side them, a smile forming on his face.

Your mom sat in the back, one of her stocking ripped. Her toes, anointed in red, curling and uncurling through them, while the light of the moon filtered through the narrow back window on them and on nothing else. 

He got out of the driver’s seat and slammed the door behind him. He disappeared as he veered left. From within, only his steps alongside the van could be heard, as your mom’s toes danced in the moonlight in their usual two step. His finger traced along the side of the van, and his steps curved until they could be heard from the very back. A hand grabbed the backdoor handle. The door swung open.

Your mom's toes stopped.

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