So I have this novella. It’s a pretty good one, and it’s been through a few versions in the span of its short life. Mocha Memoirs Press has done an outstanding job bringing it to life. Between Michael’s top of the line editing and Nancy’s beautiful cover, I’m absolutely thrilled to see it out and about in the world.
It’s scary.And I’m going to let y’all read a little of it.
Oh, and its cover looks like this:
When Bobby Gaston walks into a diner and orders a beer with his breakfast, he can’t quite remember why he needs the fortification. While he wants to remember, he’s pretty sure he doesn’t want to know what happened. He strikes up a conversation with the cute little waitress, Sheila, who offers him a ride back to the house on Normandy Road where he claims his ghost-hunter friends are sleeping after a night of exploration in the spooky old mansion.
Only, Bobby knows his friends aren’t just sleeping. He inherited the house from his grandfather, and while his memory is hazy, his unerring knowledge that something evil lurks inside makes him hesitate. But with the spunky and impetuous Sheila by his side, the darkness doesn’t seem so bad… until she leaves him hanging.
Bobby is left with two options: turn tail and run, or face his personal demons while fighting against the evil that waits for him.
“I’ll have an egg-white sandwich with a side of sausage. And a beer, if you’ve got one.”
The waitress couldn’t have been more than sixteen. She looked at me strangely for a moment with her faded blue eyes, shot a sideways glance at the clock, then shrugged and turned to call in my order. It was a greasy spoon, and it was deserted, save my ragged presence. From the girl’s reaction, nobody had come in here asking for a beer in nearly two years.
“Hey Rick!” she called to the guy on the other side of the pass-through. “Do we have any beer?” Either I was sitting too low, or the guy was really short, because all I could see was the tip of a greasy, white paper hat.
“You know you’re too young to drink, Sheila!” he called back. “But for a fee I’ll see what I can do for you, hon.” I could hear the sarcasm and sleaze dripping from his voice. He had been trying to get into this girl’s pants for a while now.
“Not for me, jackass!” she snapped and punched her hands against her hips impatiently. “You know I can buy it any time I want! This guy wants a beer.”
“At six in the morning?” he asked, sounding dumbfounded. I suspected confusion was a typical state of mind for him. “Check the blue box in the closet,” he replied, his voice much flatter than before.
The girl, Sheila, smiled weakly over her shoulder at me and disappeared behind a grimy, unplugged jukebox. While she was gone, the heavenly scent of frying sausage filled the dusty air of the little diner, and though I wasn’t particularly hungry, my stomach started doing backflips.
After what I’d been through, what I could remember of it, I doubted I’d ever be able to eat again.
Sheila reappeared a moment later, her oily pigtails bouncing alongside her ears as she skipped back toward the counter. She blew a thick layer of dust from around the bottle cap, and the telltale blue ring of PBR caught my attention.
“Sorry if it’s a little old,” she said, nodding her head slightly as she popped the top, “but we don’t get much demand for beer around here.” She handed the bottle to me, and from the moment my fingers touched it, I knew it was not only flat, but skunked. It didn’t matter; I needed the fortification.
I held my breath and took a long draught from the bottle. It was every bit as disgusting as PBR should be, and then some. But it was beer, and it wasn’t overly hot. Despite the bile creeping back up my throat to dispel the ghastly taste, the alcohol grounded me slightly. My fingers ceased their shaking a little, and my vision didn’t seem like it was confined by quite so long a tunnel.
“What’s got you drinking beer at six in the morning, sugar?” Sheila asked me, though she couldn’t have sounded more disinterested. “You act like you seen a ghost or something.” I cringed at her horrible grammar, but kept the comments to myself. Suppose I did tell her I’d seen a ghost; would she believe me? Not likely.
“Just a kick start,” I lied, and fought to swallow the beer that was steadily rising in my gullet. I washed it down with another long swig. “Long night.”
“So, who’s the lucky lady?” she asked, turning those pretty blue eyes back to me. Now she was interested, which was strange. Nobody ever paid attention to me unless I’d done something wrong.
“No lady tonight, hon,” I replied and tried to smile. It must have worked, because she smiled just before her lip turned downward into an apologetic pout.
“That’s too bad,” she said with returning disinterest. Not really, I thought. “What’s your name, darlin’?”
“Bobby,” I said.
She nodded, and I could see the gears in her brain turning to process the new information. She looked me in the eyes again, this time with building curiosity.
“Well, Bobby,” she started, but Rick quickly cut in with a smack to the bell in the window and a loud shout.
“Order up!” he called a little too loudly into the emptiness of the restaurant.
“Jeez Louise, Rick!” Sheila snapped, turning her attention to him. “I’m standin’ right here!”
“Just wanted to make sure ya heard me, doll.”
“Can it, dickweed!” she snarled, her pretty little pink mouth curling downward into a sneer that could have stopped a truck. Something about the shape of her lips as the word fell from them was disturbingly erotic.
She lifted one perfectly-manicured hand to pick up the plate and turned back to me with another of those flashy smiles. She was definitely too young; her teeth were still too white and too many to belong to an early-morning waitress. She was as dingy-looking as the establishment around her, but that radiant grin could cut through any layer of grime.
“So, Bobby,” she repeated and set the plate in front of me, shooting a dirty look over her shoulder I was certain Rick wouldn’t be tall enough to see, “what brings you into The Breakfast Bowl so early?” As she said it, she motioned to the empty building. “We usually don’t see customers until after the sun comes up.”
Normally I wouldn’t have had a problem answering that question. This morning, though, was a different story. I picked up my fork and toyed with a sliver of egg hanging off the toast. The night had been one for the books, no doubt. I couldn’t really remember much of it, but I knew there had been blood. Lots of blood. The memory of it nearly brought back the stale beer.
“Just headed home,” I said over the rampage of my own memories, and the sudden eruption of gastric juices settled.
“Where ya from?”
“Wellington, just on the other side of Wichita.”
“Well, what’re you doing in Newton at this hour if you’re from Wellington, Bobby?”
I discovered I couldn’t answer her. The events of the night – the clear parts – were still too surreal for me, though when the sun came up and the house was discovered in its current state, it would be all too real. I knew the police would come for me, even though it wasn’t my fault.
“Waiting for my friends to wake up,” I heard myself say, though the sound of my own voice was distant and alien, “so I can catch a ride home.”
“Where are your friends?” she asked.
“Well, what are they doing over there?” she asked, wide-eyed and innocent. In the kitchen, I could hear Rick grumbling about something and slamming dishes. All I could gather was he was angry over my presence interrupting his attempt to woo her.
I hesitated in answering her again. I couldn’t just announce what they were doing on Normandy Road was lying dead in someone else’s home. That would scare her for sure. No, I definitely couldn’t tell her that.