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Dark Poems
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Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Jared built a time machine
It was his pride and joy
He made it with tempered steel
That no one could destroy

He traveled through ancient Egypt
In the time of the Pharoahs
He met a girl named Marissa
She was lovely as a rose

He cared for Marissa deeply
But was prone to wanderlust
He promised her a ring from Greece
And in him she placed her trust

Marissa waited for him
She held on patiently
Jared would return someday
From the blue Aegean Sea

He traveled at the speed of light
And went from place to place
He thought of Marissa daily
The memory of her face

Jared wandered through Athens
A city that was older than time
He flew through Rome and Madrid
The Apennine Mountains he did climb

He landed in western Europe
Before the outbreak of the war
He tried to warn the residents
And felt a duty to implore

His machine went ahead in time
There was a whole new world to see
He landed in America
And met President Kennedy

He knew what he had to do
Although time was running out
Oswald was too quick for him
There was panic all about

In tears, he leapt ahead again
To an old German town
The year was Nineteen Eighty-Nine
The wall came tumbling down

When the concrete crumbled
There was cause for celebration
East and West excited
For their reunification

Jared celebrated with them
Before he journeyed to Africa
He witnessed riots in Cape Town
In a prison he saw Mandela

Then he made one final stop
Before his wedding in Egypt
A woman in the White House
Rehearsed a presidential script

Jared was a fledgling explorer
When met his Egyptian queen
He married Marissa in Cairo
And retired his time machine
Death warmed over.

Post Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:28 pm   View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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It was a sunny, clear day at the end of April. Spring definitely had sprung. Erika Hansen tied her long blonde hair in a ponytail before she walked into her guidance counselor's office at Tristan College. After she knocked three times, Dr. Claire Young opened the door to let her in. They sat across from each other, and Dr. Young started the computer that rested on her cherry wood desk. Erika had one exam left to write in abnormal psychology. After that, she would finally be finished her degree. She could go backpacking in Europe or climb Mount Everest. Or so she thought.

"I'm afraid I have some bad news," said Dr. Young, "It's not something a girl wants to hear in her last semester of college."

"What is it?" asked Erika. "My grades aren't good enough to get into grad school?"

"No, it's not that. Your marks are great. You're just missing a social sciences elective."

"Really? That's not what Dr. Bane told me four months ago."

"Well, Lawrence was misinformed about a lot of things. That's why they fired him."

"This really sucks! I was supposed to graduate in June with my friends."

"Don't worry about it. You can take a class in Spring Session and still make it to convocation."

Dr. Young fished a course calendar out of her desk and handed it to Erika.

"I've heard that Family Sociology is an easy A. I don't know who's teaching it now. Dr. Schaeffer found herself a better job at NYU."

"Swell," said Erika. "I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip."

* * * * *
Erika traipsed home to her apartment in a disaffected mood. It was a block away from the college on the second floor of a sandstone complex called Madison Village. She shared the flat with a brunette named Lina Alvarez. They had become friends while they were working part-time at the Tristan Pharmacy. Erika was taking General Studies, and Lina was majoring in linguistics. Erika had lived with her boyfriend Shawn Gibson until his punk band was signed by a label in Florida just before the beginning of Erika's senior year. After he moved out of the apartment, Lina moved in. She needed some space from her over-protective parents and her bossy older brother, Ricardo.

"Hey, Erika," said Lina. "I saw some awesome grad dresses at Nordstrom yesterday."

"That's great. I just don't feel like shopping right now."

"Why not? Is something wrong?"

"I found out this morning that I was missing a class."

"That sucks. What are you gonna do?"

"Well, the counselor said if I take a spring course, then I can still graduate in June."

"If you took Spanish, then we could practise our dialogue. I'm fluent."

"No, I think I'm gonna take Family Soc. Dr. Young said it was easy."

"Then maybe I'll take it, too. I need something to boost my GPA."

"I checked the calendar. It's an evening class on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

"Cool. Sam won't mind. He can schedule us for day shifts and weekends."

* * * * *
On the evening of the first Tuesday in May, Erika and Lina sat in the front row of a main floor lecture theatre in the Humanities Centre of Tristan College. Their course confirmations only informed them of the room and time of their class. They still didn't know who was teaching it. Ten other students arrived before the class began at six o'clock. They waited a while longer before their instructor finally arrived.

At five minutes past six, a tall dark-haired man walked through the door. He was dressed in a light blue Armani shirt, navy slacks, and black wing-tipped shoes. His cologne smelled like a mixture of mint and lemon water. Over his shoulder, a black leather messenger bag was slung. He dropped it on a table in front of the class, and he wrote his name on the white board with a blue marker.

"Hi, everyone," he said. "Sorry I'm late. I'm your instructor for Family Sociology. Vincent Zito."

"Hey, weren't you the guy who played the organ at my cousin's wedding?" asked a red-haired girl in the back row."

"Yeah, that was me. Not that I would ever quit my day job."

"I thought I recognized you. That's so weird. You're really talented, by the way."

"Thanks, and your name is?"

"Anne Shelley. People always tease me and call me Anne of Green Gables 'cause of my red hair."

Vincent's hands were shaking slightly. Tiny beads of perspiration were forming on his forehead. He started speaking again with a bit of trepidation.

"Getting back to the course. You should pick up the Hammond text in the bookstore. There'll be two exams, a midterm and a final. You'll have a term paper due for the second last class on a topic of your choosing."

"You sound nervous," said Anne. "Haven't you ever taught this course before?"

"No, I haven't. You're very perceptive, aren't you?"

"I don't think he has a PhD," Lina whispered to Erika.

"He can't be older than twenty-five," Erika guessed. "Must be in the MA program."

"Is there something you were wanting to discuss?" Vincent asked the two girls.

"Nope, we're good," said Lina.

"Okay, let's get started on the first chapter," Vincent declared.

* * * * *
The next two days were uneventful. Erika and Lina worked at the pharmacy and went jogging beside the Tristan River in the evening. Like most best friends, they did everything together. Then, at five-thirty on Thursday evening, they walked to the Humanities Centre and sat in their Family Soc classroom. Vincent was on time for his second class. He was gradually developing a routine.

"All right, who read the second chapter?" Vincent inquired.

Half a dozen hands shot up in the air. Vincent looked disappointed, but he continued with his lecture.

"Well, it's crucial for you guys to stay caught up. Today we're gonna talk about the SMART paradigm. Does anyone know what that is?"

Anne Shelley raised her hand. Vincent nodded his head and motioned for her to begin.

"The SMART Paradigm is a framework for sociological research. It stands for Samples, Methods, Attitude of skepticism, Researcher bias, and Thorough understanding of literature."

"Very good, Anne," said Vincent. "It's important for samples to be random. If not, then your research is worthless."

"He sure doesn't mince words," Lina whispered to Erika.

"He probably gets by on his looks," said Erika.

"I bet all his female profs gave him straight A's."

"In a horizontal position."

The two girls started laughing. Vincent looked irritated. He stopped lecturing and pointed at Erika.

"I want to see you in my office after class."

Erika and Lina were silent for the rest of the class. The lecture turned into a two-way conversation between Vincent and Anne. After Vincent's exchange with Erika, everyone else was too frightened to speak to him. The class ended early at eight-thirty. While the other students filed out of the room, Erika stayed behind with Vincent. He tucked his papers into his messenger bag, and slung it over his right shoulder. Erika was absolutely petrified. Like a naughty child, she followed Vincent to his office on the second floor of the Humanities Centre. It was a small, sparsely-furnished room with white walls and a tiny window that overlooked the main quadrangle. Vincent shut the door, and they sat in plastic chairs across from each other at his steel utility desk.

"I'm new at this, Erika. I'm trying really hard to get my students to like me."

"I'm sorry I spoke out of turn in your classes. I won't do it again."

"It just feels like you don't respect me as a professor, or as an intellectual."

"No, you're wrong. You're a good instructor. Maybe I don't belong in your class."

"Don't say that. I never wanna hear you say that ever again."

"Okay, I'll do an extra term paper, if you want."

"No, that won't be necessary. I have enough to worry about with my dissertation and all."

"I need this class, Vincent. Otherwise I won't graduate."

"Well, since you put it like that, there is one way you can make it up to me."

"What is it? I'll do anything."

"Have dinner with me tomorrow night?"

"Have dinner with you?"

"Not like THAT. Just as friends."

"Okay, whatever you want, Vincent. Just name the time and place."

Erika gave Vincent her cell phone number. He called her the next day in the middle of her shift at the Tristan Pharmacy. She didn't have much time to talk, so he quickly decided to pick her up at five-thirty. Then he would drive her to the Ortensia Garden in his red Trans Am.

Vincent was a man of his word. He picked up Erika from Madison Village at five-thirty sharp. His black hair was combed neatly, and he wore a beige suit. Erika was dressed in a turquoise dress with a floral pattern and strappy sandals. Vincent parked in the back of the lot. He put on sunglasses so no one would recognize him. Erika went inside a minute before he did. They entered the Ortensia Garden separately because it was against the Code of Behavior at Tristan College for faculty to fraternize with students. Two minutes later, they were seated at a table in the Marquesa Room, which was a private enclosed area in the back of the restaurant.

The Marquesa Room had burgundy drapes and plush carpet. A crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling in the center of the room. Three large bay windows provided a breathtaking view of the Tristan River Valley. Vincent and Erika ordered Chicken Parmigiana with Caesar salad, tomato bruschetta, and white wine. For most of the meal, they ate in silence. In the background, classical music was playing on the restaurant's sound system. Vincent offered to pay for the whole meal, but Erika insisted on splitting the bill.

After dinner, they went to Vincent's apartment in Monaco Park, which was where the grad students lived. It was more prudent than being seen together in a public place. Vincent put on an Il Divo album. He also showed Erika the basketball trophies he won in high school and college.

"So you're a pianist who plays basketball," Erika said.

"Are you surprised?" Vincent asked.

"Yeah, I guess I am. You're an academic."

"Lots of academics are good at sports."

"What are you, six feet two? That's pretty tall for--"

"For a man of my ethnic background?"

"Okay, you got me. I've never been out with someone like you before."

"Can't you just act like you're having a good time?"

"You're my instructor. There's an imbalance of power here."

"You wanna hear some Beethoven?"

"Sure. I don't mind if you change the album."

"No, I meant I'm gonna play it for you."

Vincent turned off the stereo and walked toward the baby grand that stood beside the living room window. He lifted the fallboard gently. Erika sat on the bench beside him as he worked his way through the Adagio and the Allegro Finale of the Choral Fantasy. As Anne had mentioned earlier, Vincent was very talented. Erika wondered briefly why he wasn't teaching music or playing in an orchestra. After Vincent finished the piece, Erika applauded him.

"That was amazing," she said. "You should be performing somewhere important."

"The music industry is a terrible business. I'd much rather be an academic."

"Well, whatever makes you happy."

"It's getting late. I should take you home."

Vincent drove Erika to her apartment in his Trans Am. It was only a two-minute trip, but it was wiser than walking. They would definitely be seen together if they traveled to Madison Village on foot. Their tryst had only just begun, but it already felt dangerous. He tried not to squeal the tires as he pulled up in front of her building. Vincent wanted to kiss her, but he didn't dare. He simply said Goodnight, and drove away.

* * * * *
The next Tuesday, Erika and Lina bought their graduation gowns at Nordstrom. Erika decided on a lavender princess dress. Lina chose a strapless black gown with an embroidered bodice. After they tucked their gowns away in their apartment, they headed to the Humanities Centre for their third Family Soc class. They sat in the front row and waited for the lecture to start. Anne Shelley entered the room shortly after them. She had gotten layers cut into her long, red hair and piled on a little too much mascara and eye shadow. Someone was desperate to be noticed. At six o'clock, Vince strolled into the room and started a discussion of the third chapter in the Hammond book.

"So we have Conflict Theory, Functionalism, Structural Functionalism, and Symbolic Interactionism. Which one is right?"

Anne Shelley immediately raised her hand. She had changed her seat from the back row the second row. In fact, she was sitting immediately behind Lina and Erika. Vincent looked annoyed at Anne. Truth be told, he was getting tired of her.

"Let's hear from someone else today," Vincent said. "What do you think, Erika?"

"Who me?" she asked.

"Yes, you. Now's your chance to make a decision. Which theory makes the most sense to you?"

"Um, I guess it would be Functionalism. It's way more positive and optimistic than Conflict Theory. The family is just like any other system. When it breaks down, the parties attempt to recover and stabilize it until they reach an equilibrium."

"That was very well put, Erika. I couldn't have said it better myself."

Meanwhile, Anne Shelley was staring daggers behind Erika's back. All her efforts to look pretty for her favorite professor had been in vain. Another girl had stolen his attention, and probably his heart as well. Anne was secretly plotting a way to get back at Erika, and to win Vincent's affection.

Vincent later called on Lina and a boy named Tyler James. They debated the pros and cons of the other three theories. In the second half of the class, Vincent showed a video clip about the grudge match between Marx and Weber, who were the two champions of Conflict Theory. When the video ended, he told the class to read the fourth chapter. He flashed an anticipatory smile at Erika when she was leaving. It was an expression that said, "I'll call you."

"I've gotta go to the little girls' room," said Erika.

"Okay, I'll meet you back at the apartment." Lina told her.

Erika went to the girls' washroom down the hall from her lecture theatre. After she entered the first stall, she realized it was her time of the month. Luckily she always carried tampons in her purse. She slipped one in quietly and exited the stall. Then she washed her hands with the foamy white soap in the dispenser beside the mirror. She checked her makeup and straightened her blonde ponytail. At that moment, Anne Shelley entered the room. If looks could kill, then Erika would've been a goner.

"Are you fucking him?" Anne asked her.

"Excuse me?"

"You're sleeping with Vincent, aren't you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't play dumb with me, you bitch."

"I'm not sleeping with him. He's my professor, for God's sake."

"Yes, you are. And after I gather all the evidence I need, you're gonna get expelled, and your loverboy is gonna get fired."

Anne scowled at Erika before she left the ladies' room. Although she was two inches shorter than Erika, Anne was positively frightening. Erika's hands started shaking and her throat went dry. She exited the facility slowly and cautiously. The hallway was empty. There was no one in sight. The sun was beginning to set as she walked home along Campus Drive until she reached her apartment. For most of the night, she dreamt about Anne of Green Gables brandishing a kitchen knife at her.

* * * * *
Erika went out with Vincent again the next Saturday. They drove out of the Tristan city limits and spent the day hiking in the mountains. Fortunately, no one from the college saw them. After they ate lunch at a Mongolian restaurant, they spent the afternoon on a trail in the back country. They walked for two hours before they sat down on a huge boulder beside an immaculate waterfall.

"I just find it hilarious that an Anne of Green Gables doppelgänger is obsessed with you," said Erika.

"She told me once after the first class that she auditioned for the part in high school, but it went to some other girl. She was depressed about it for months."

"I don't know if that's sad or funny."

"Maybe it's ironic. She looks just like Anne Shirley. Maybe a little too much."

"I'll bet L.M. Montgomery is rolling over in her grave--with laughter."

They chuckled at the thought of Montgomery. Erika fell off the rock and landed in a patch of wet grass. Vincent stood up and helped her back on her feet. Her pale blue eyes were hypnotic. He found himself leaning toward her, but then backed away out of respect.

"Sorry, I shouldn't have done that," he said.

"Don't be sorry," she replied.

The weather was warm, but not too hot. They kissed each other beside the rock at the waterfall. It was a secluded location. There was no one else around for miles. They made out intensely for a whole hour. There was a lot of necking and petting, but no actual sex. They weren't animals.

At three o'clock, they headed back to Vincent's car, which was parked at the entrance to the Tristan Falls National Park. By that time, they both needed to use the outhouse. It was a small wooden structure that resembled a log cabin. Although it was putrid and full of insects, it served its purpose.

It was an hour-long drive back to the city. When there was silence, it wasn't uncomfortable. Erika never felt pressured to make conversation with Vincent. Outside of class, he was slightly reserved and sometimes reticent. He was blessed with a high intelligence, but he never came across as a know-it-all. As Vincent drove along the highway, they listened to an Arctic Monkeys album on the Trans Am's stereo.

"What is this thing anyway?" Erika asked him.

"Why don't we just call it going out? I hate labels."

"I lived with someone until August of last year. I dated several guys after him, but nothing serious."

"Everyone has a past. If you didn't have one, then I'd be worried."

"What about you? I'm surprised you're not engaged or something."

"I was, but we split up. I'd rather not talk about it."

"Maybe we could see each other secretly, but not get serious until the end of the semester."

"We could do that, unless you get tired of me, or you hook up with Tyler."

"Baby-faced Tyler? I don't think so."

Erika turned up the volume on the stereo. "Do I Wanna Know?" emanated vibrantly from the speakers. She put on her Ray-Ban sunglasses and rested her head on padded leather upholstery of the passenger seat while Vincent floored the gas pedal.

* * * * *
Erika did exceptionally well on her midterm in Family Soc. She had some private tutoring at Vincent's apartment the night before. They ended up in bed together, but they didn't make love. It still felt wrong. He was her professor, after all. If they had done the deed, then there would be nothing to look forward to, and one of them might want out of the "thing" that was not quite a relationship.

In the first week of June, Anne Shelley showed up for class with blonde highlights in her hair. On top of it, she also started dressing like Erika. She was in full battle mode. Anne didn't have any friends in the class. When she wasn't plotting or scheming, she was sitting by herself in the lounge on the main floor of the Humanities Centre.

Erika decided to write her term paper on stepfamilies. Lina, however, was preoccupied with sexual assault because she had been molested by her soccer coach when she was twelve. They worked on their papers in the campus library in the last week of the Spring Session. It took a while to churn out twenty pages double-spaced, but they both managed to finish their assignments a day ahead of schedule.

On the day of their second last class, the two girls sat in the back corner of the Tristan College cafeteria. Their papers were bound and ready to be handed in. They ate turkey sandwiches from the lunch counter and talked about backpacking in Europe. Although Lina knew about Erika's relationship with Vincent, they never discussed it in public. Lina was Erika's best friend and confidante. She knew how to keep a secret.

Erika and Lina finished eating at five-thirty. They were ready to go to class. But before they left, Anne Shelley saw them and glared in their direction. She was carrying an empty glass bottle in her right hand when she passed their table.

"Dipshits," she mumbled under her breath.

"What did you call us?" Lina asked.

"Sorry, let me rephrase that. The dipshit and the slut."

"What is your problem?" Erika demanded.

"I don't have a problem. I'm smart, so I don't have to fuck my professors to get good grades."

"You don't know what you're talking about," Lina said.

"I hate blondes so much!" Anne exclaimed. "Why do they always get all the attention?"

Anne started crying. The other two girls didn't know what to do. They had never seen Anne break down in the two months they had known her. For a brief second, Lina considered giving Anne a hug. But before Lina could make a move, Anne broke her juice bottle on the table that the girls' books were spread upon. She held the broken neck of the bottle up above her head. Then she brandished it at them while they gasped in horror. Since it was the Spring Session, there was no one else in the back corner of the cafeteria. Most of the other students were working at their temporary jobs or traveling the world.

"What do you want from us?" Erika screamed.

"You don't know what it's like to be me," Anne said. "My red hair is such an embarrassment."

"That's not true," said Lina. "I think it's very pretty."

"I couldn't get the lead role in Anne of Green Gables, even after everyone teased me about it."

"It doesn't matter," Erika told her. "You were meant for better things."

"Like what? A job at Wal-Mart? In case you didn't know, an arts degree doesn't get you very far these days."

"You need to calm down and put the bottle away," Lina said.

"Fuck you two! Fuck this stupid college! Fuck Vincent!"

Anne plunged the jagged neck of the bottle into both of her wrists. She began bleeding profusely. Her blood was pooling in a circle around her legs. Lina and Erika ran to the security booth on the main floor of the college. They told the guard to call for an ambulance. Anne was rushed to the Emergency Room of the Tristan Memorial Hospital. Two weeks later, she was transferred to the psychiatric ward for an indefinite period of time. She never graduated from college.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, the Dean informed Vincent about his student's unfortunate fate. Vincent discussed Anne's self-destructive behavior with his class in the context of Chapter 16, which dealt with family violence and tragedies. There were high-resource families and low-resource families. Anne Shelley's dysfunctional family belonged to the latter category. Her parents were divorced when she was five as a result of her father's infidelity. Anne's mother raised her and her older sister by herself with little support from her alcoholic ex-husband. Their household failed to meet its members' requirements for communication, nurturance, and emotional support. Those unmet needs contributed to Anne's downfall.

Family Sociology ended two days later. Erika and Lina wrote their final exam and passed with flying colors. After the test, they filled out all the necessary paperwork to receive their degrees. Vincent was almost finished his dissertation, and Anne was in a safe place where she wasn't a danger to herself or her fellow students.

Erika continued to see Vincent after the conclusion of the course. He attended her convocation in June. They consummated their relationship two hours after the ceremony. It happened in the bedroom of his main-floor apartment in Monaco Park. He was a gentle lover. She was on the pill, but he still took all the necessary precautions. It felt like the first time for both of them, even though it wasn't. Waiting was a wise decision. It made the adventure all the more pleasurable. As with most life-changing events, it was the journey that mattered, not the destination.
Death warmed over.

Post Sun Apr 19, 2015 7:42 pm   View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Puffy, Scruffy, and Duffy were trolls
They lived on a grassy old Hill
The three of them dined on pork poutine
And draught beer from the Barley Mill

Puffy was dressed in beautiful clothes
Her outfits were fit for a queen
Scruffy doted on his ponytail
And Duffy was on the small screen

They lived a very pampered life
Full of parties, trips, and yachts
Scruffy and Duffy played with cars
Puffy liked forget-me-nots

Their expenses were always paid
By the good people of the land
They never lacked for anything
Their cottages were really grand

Puffy fell out of favor
When reports made it appear
She travelled to Rome and back
A hundred times in one year

Scruffy was a sleazy drunk
Who was known for truancy
He missed many gatherings
His seat had a vacancy

At one time, Duffy reported
He was a man of the news
Then his elders promoted him
Unaware of his flawed views

The trolls were mired in scandal
In time, they all fell from grace
The people of the land voted
To banish them from the place

Puffy, Scruffy, and Duffy left
They sailed away in a yacht
Their sins will live in infamy
The disgrace no one forgot

Death warmed over.

Post Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:45 am   View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Finished with another year
Brady decided to unwind
The carnival came to town
All the attractions were aligned

Brady went to the ghoul house
He entered with his mates
It was a spooky dwelling
With creaky, rotted gates

Cobwebs and rubber spiders
Were strewn from all the walls
Brady and his mates shuddered
As they walked through the halls

Then Brady encountered Pain
She was a female ghoul
Her pallid skin was peeling
She sat on a bar stool

Pain brought only misery
Decay lingered on her breath
Brady put her behind him
To avoid the stench of death

Chains lay on a bed of nails
Iron cuffs bound his wrists
He was a sight to behold
With his tight, writhing fists

Though Chains desired liberty
Someone to rescue him
Brady found him revolting
His appearance was grim

Brady was all by himself
His mates nowhere in sight
He moved on to the next room
It was a dreadful night

Malice sought out his revenge
His heart was made of stone
He uttered threats constantly
While seated on his throne

Brady ran away from Malice
As fast as his legs would go
There was no happiness in there
It was a dismal freak show

The next ghoul he met was Sin
She was neither ugly nor pale
In fact she was enticing
She offered seduction for sale

Sin was a beautiful girl
Who wore a dress made of gold
Adorned with many diamonds
Her manner frightfully bold

But Brady could never love Sin
She was evil like the others
He searched high and low for his mates
They hurried home to their mothers

Death warmed over.

Post Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:37 pm   View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Jonas was a charming man
He had a beautiful smile
It could heal a thousand hurts
And captivate a red mile

Jonas was never frightened
In victory or defeat
He had boundless energy
And was fast on his feet

One day Jonas was challenged
By a group of wacky ducks
The birds were truly vengeful
They launched a flurry of pucks

Jonas was quite disciplined
His confidence was great
At one time they were allies
The tables turned by Fate

The pesky ducks were relentless
Jonas stopped all their slap shots
But the fowl would not surrender
Games tied like Gordian knots

Yet Jonas never worried
As the ducks lay in a row
He battled them one by one
And he became a hero

Then when the series ended
Jonas handled it with style
He removed his shiny mask
And flashed his magical smile
Death warmed over.

Post Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:15 pm   View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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In the Old West, there was a legend
Where Wild Bill took his final stand
He was shot down while playing poker
Before him lay a Dead Man's Hand

On the poker table were found
Diamonds, eights, and black aces
The gunmen fled in a panic
With spooked looks on their faces

This legend was adopted by sports
The story spread through the land
And it continued for many years
The curse of the Dead Man's Hand

Black Aces came to represent
The extras enslaved by destiny
They completed their assigned chores
As they recovered from injury

The wounded and punished players
Waited for a chance at the puck
They carried on the tradition of
The rebel who ran out of luck

The Black Aces worked very hard
As they carried out their duties
Ready on a moment's notice
To fill in for the casualties

They practised mostly by themselves
And they cheered from the sidelines
They never lost hope that someday
They would transcend their confines

The Black Aces were always known
For their élan and dedication
When they were finally called up
It was a cause for celebration

They skated as fast as lightning
Black Aces were a unique band
With the spirit of a rebel
The legend of the Dead Man's Hand
Death warmed over.

Post Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:35 pm   View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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A champion holds his head up high
He doesn't stare at the ground
He inspires all of his teammates
Whenever he is around

He knows his own worth
But he is still humble
He picks himself up
When he takes a tumble

A champion respects his foes
He doesn't start a fight
He knows he has himself to blame
When he has a bad night

He is a role model
Never lazy or late
He blooms where he's planted
That's what makes him so great

A champion is fierce
He never quits or crumbles
And he doesn't talk trash
He isn't one who grumbles

His parents are proud of him
They cheer his victory
Then he accepts his award
with class and dignity

Death warmed over.

Post Fri May 01, 2015 6:46 am   View user's profile Send private message

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Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Alexander the Great was an explorer
Through Anatolia he wound
Onward he ambled toward Phrygia
Before Gordium burned to the ground

In the city was a chariot
Tied to a pole by an intricate knot
The bond was only to be undone
By the prophesied ruler of the lot

Alexander faced the challenge
He withdrew his silver sword
The son of the serpent lunged
And simply sliced through the cord

He was taught by wise philosophers
And he never lost a single battle
He christened cities after himself
Then seduced a woman with his prattle

Alexander used fragrant body oils
Persian clothes he preferred to don
Though his death remains a mystery
His corpse was embalmed in Babylon

He was an impetuous warrior
Always restless but well traveled
And so the prophecy was fulfilled
The Gordian knot unraveled]
Death warmed over.

Post Mon May 04, 2015 6:42 pm   View user's profile Send private message

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Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Brian grew a wild rose garden
He was born with a green thumb
He had red hair and freckled cheeks
That made him very handsome

One day he entered the garden
And he received quite a surprise
Orange weeds sprouted all around
A blight appeared before his eyes

The orange weeds were a menace
They occupied a lot of space
Every time he pulled one out
Another cropped up in its place

The intruders were hawkweed
They had long and hairy stems
The result of disturbed soil
They caused all sorts of problems

The plants twisted like rattlesnakes
They strangled the pretty flowers
Then the roses began to wilt
As the weeds became lofty towers

Brian hunted high and low
He looked for a solution
He would save his rose garden
And stamp out hawkweed pollution

He drove to the hardware store
And he bought a herbicide
Something to poison the weeds
Before they reached far and wide

The formula was toxic
On most dandelions and thistles
Brian sprayed it on the weeds
Like a warrior launching missiles

But the herbicide was too weak
The hawkweed resisted its bite
So Brian drove to his college
In search of a cure for the blight

He found his old chemistry professor
Who was mixing a special solution
The formula could make orange vanish
And eliminate the weed pollution

Brian thanked the wise scientist
Then he covered up his wild roses
He doused the weeds with the fluid
That was dispensed from rubber hoses

Brian was all tuckered out
After he sprayed the tall weeds
They were evil from the start
The product of demon seeds

The next day Brian woke up
His resolve began to harden
The orange weeds had vanished
There was peace in the rose garden
Death warmed over.

Post Sat May 09, 2015 10:38 am   View user's profile Send private message

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Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Vous ne pouvez pas dire à quelqu'un de vous aimer.
Death warmed over.

Post Tue May 12, 2015 5:10 pm   View user's profile Send private message

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Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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The color of bricks
That form a foundation
The color of flags
That stand for a nation
The color of blood
Of roses and wine
The color of life
And sunsets divine
The color of fire
The bright flames that burn
The color of desire
Your fortune will turn

Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Brian Jean
Death warmed over.

Post Wed May 13, 2015 4:58 pm   View user's profile Send private message

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Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Gaia is an immortal goddess
Her body is the planet Earth
Born at the dawn of the universe
She openly reveals her mirth

The goddess is so terrifying
Whenever she expresses rage
She disrupted evolution in
The Permian–Triassic Age

Satan tried to lure Gaia
He spun a web of deception
Though he was more powerful
She escaped his interception

Gaia lives on to this day
In volcanoes and on flood plains
Still prone to fits of anger
Her energy drives hurricanes

She breathes into the distance
Causing blizzards and earthquakes
And she laughs most wickedly
As the concrete pavement shakes

The planet is raped and spoiled
All the ancient rivers run dry
But as long as the Earth lives
Goddess Gaia will never die
Death warmed over.

Post Tue May 19, 2015 7:31 pm   View user's profile Send private message

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Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Hunter was breaking down
Fear and loathing of aging
There was no avoiding
The tempest that was raging

Signs of his years appeared
From his head to his toes
He was forgetting things
Sometimes his brain just froze

Although he was middle-aged
He saw himself as twenty-one
He listened to hip-hop jams
And he flirted with everyone

He was living in the past
The skateboard he displayed
He dwelled on his glory days
The pranks that he once played

His brows knitted together
Wrinkles formed around his eyes
Love handles were emerging
His molars were in demise

A shell of his former self
He had less energy
He was really slowing down
Not what he used to be

Signs of doom were all around
His faithless wife had left him
His children were using drugs
Their future looked very grim

Everything spun out of control
The world weighed upon his shoulder
He was powerless to escape
The fact he was getting older
Death warmed over.

Post Sat May 23, 2015 10:41 am   View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Dermot was only passing through
On a journey with his new wife
Although an accomplished artist
He lived a rather simple life

James Bay was uniquely elegant
The Inn had a rich history
It stood in downtown Victoria
The Inner Harbour they could see

They arrived at the end of June
The sweltering summer had begun
The lobby bustled with tourists
Amid the setting of the bright sun

Dermot found a room for a song
The staff was friendly and polite
The night clerk handed him the keys
And wished the couple a good night

The room was beautiful and adorned
With a polished hardwood floor
He carried her across the threshold
And then gently closed the door

The act was an ancient custom
The alibi for a wife's chastity
Some seers thought it prevented
Evil spirits from bringing tragedy

Dermot was a charming Irishman
A dutiful, attentive husband
And they made love until midnight
The happiest couple in the land

They lay beside each other
He cradled her with his arm
But suddenly the phone rang
It was a cause for alarm

Dermot picked up the receiver
And uttered a quick "Hello"
Yet no one answered his greeting
His face became white as snow

He hung up the receiver
And shut the ringer off the phone
His bride drifted back to sleep
Then he wandered the halls alone

Dermot suffered from insomnia
It was unwise to disturb him
He took the stairs down to the lobby
The amber lighting was so dim

The walls were hung with paintings
Landscapes by a Victorian artist
Dermot loved the pristine scenes
He had always been a perfectionist

He stumbled on a forest clearing
Then he touched it with his right hand
And a spirit appeared before him
The ghost of the artist first-hand

Emily Carr approached Dermot
And she held out her pallid hand
He was too afraid to touch her
The apparition was too grand

Emily led him through the Inn
Till they reached the dining room
She invited Dermot to sit
While she ambled through the gloom

He heard all the dishes rattling
While she fumbled in the kitchen
The ghost was preparing something
She whistled a tune now and then

Emily took her precious time
Then brought Dermot a surprise
A still-beating heart on a plate
Appeared right before his eyes

Dermot jumped up in his seat
And he ran away from the ghost
He sprinted back to his room
To the woman he needed most

His bride was startled awake
She was having a nightmare
Emily was in her dream
With her dark, disheveled hair

The desk clerk was fully aware
Why the newlyweds left so soon
And they would always remember
Their horrid, Gothic honeymoon
Death warmed over.

Post Tue May 26, 2015 8:15 pm   View user's profile Send private message

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Posts: 398
Location: quantum meruit
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Krystal Grace had a charmed life. Everything always seemed to work out perfectly for her. Blonde and twenty-five, she had the world in the palm of her hands. She lived in a second-floor apartment with a software developer named Scott Kepler in Simenon, which was a close-knit community in the Rocky Mountains. Scott was the president of a small company called Kepler Tech that he started with his brother Sebastian.

Krystal was an award-winning painter who specialized in public art. She worked on several murals with an old schoolmate named Daniel Knight. They had been good friends for eight years, but many people who saw them painting together assumed they were a couple. Even Scott was jealous of their close relationship at times.

On a Monday morning in May, Scott awoke amid the chirping of birds outside the apartment. Sunlight trickled into the bedroom through the diaphanous drapes that covered the windows. He rose from the king-sized mattress and took a warm shower. Then he toweled himself dry and made coffee in the kitchen. Krystal was just waking up when Scott appeared before her wearing a dress shirt and polyester slacks. He smelled like a mixture of Dove Aqua soap and Dior aftershave. His short sandy hair was neatly combed with not a single hair out of place. He held a ceramic mug painted with a happy face in his hands.

"Sorry I didn't wake you up," Scott said. "I have a lot to do."

"That's okay. You software engineers have to stay ahead of the competition."

"Are you still working on that bridge mural?" Scott asked.

"Yeah, but it's almost finished," Krystal replied.

"I've gotta be at work by nine. Version 2.0 is launching today."

"Did you eat already?"

"Yeah, I had some corn flakes."

"Good luck."


Scott put on a grey blazer and kissed Krystal on the cheek before he left. Then he drove to the downtown office of Kepler Tech in his silver Chevy Equinox.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, Krystal made herself a cup of coffee and brown toast. She watched the morning news while she ate. There was another election looming and more civil unrest in Baltimore. As history repeated itself, politicians and celebrities weighed in on the chaos. There seemed to be no immediate end in sight.

Krystal finished breakfast while Janice McBride from SVTV revealed the weather forecast for the Simenon Valley. Then she switched off the television and got ready for work. After she took a bath, she put on her painting shirt and jeans. She had to meet Daniel at the Lions Bridge at ten o'clock. They were putting the finishing touches on their Centennial Mural, which was commissioned by the Municipal District of Simenon.

Like Krystal, Daniel Knight was also an award-winning artist. He was twenty-five, six feet one, and somewhat athletic. His dark blond hair was very curly, but not long enough to tie back. He also had a small beard which he kept carefully groomed. His pale blue eyes were haunted and smoldering. Although he wasn't technically a bad boy, he had a bit of an edge to him. He was pensive but mostly charming toward everyone he met.

The bridge was a famous landmark with two meticulously sculpted lions at each end. The cats were eight feet high and twelve feet long. Made of concrete, the proud beasts rested on top of supporting kiosks. There was a majestic feline facing each quadrant of the valley. The lions guarded the entrance to Simenon day and night. Although they were hollow, the giant cats weighed thirteen tons each. The bridge on which they stood was resistant to precipitation and erosion, but not to vandalism.

Krystal and Daniel used an acrylic exterior blend to paint the stone foundation of the structure. Their supplies and labor were fully paid for by the local government in an attempt to discourage unsightly graffiti. Krystal carried the paint and brushes in a wooden crate. The artists worked with black-and-white photographs of Simenon's pioneers who had settled in the valley during the late 1800s. One by one, they painted the detailed portraits carefully on the side of the hundred-year-old alabaster bridge. Now and then Krystal would stand on top of the crate to reach the uppermost edges of the mural. Daniel, however, was tall enough to reach every corner without a boost. The finished product was seven feet high and ten feet wide. Daniel snapped a picture of it using his cell phone camera. He would later upload the photo to his website.

After Krystal and Daniel finished their mural, they put their supplies away in Daniel's Volkswagen Golf hatchback. Then they went for a walk in the woods on the north side of the bridge. It was getting hot and the sun was beating down on them. Ultraviolet rays reflected off the Simenon River in bright yellow bands. They hiked for an hour before they sat down on the riverbank. Krystal had brought bottles of spring water, green seedless grapes, and trail mix from home. They had an impromptu picnic while they reminisced about their college years.

* * * * *

It was almost four o'clock when they heard it. Something was moving in the trees beside the river valley. Although the creature was several yards away from Daniel and Krystal, its presence startled them. The black, hairy being was at least seven feet tall. Its red eyes glowed like neon lights. Krystal began to tremble with fear. Daniel put his arm around her shoulder to protect her. Then the creature extended its monstrous wings and ascended effortlessly into the air.

"What was that?" Krystal asked.

"I don't know, but it looked like a giant moth," Daniel said.

"We should get outta here. What if it attacks us?"

"I have a hunting knife in my knapsack."

"You better find it quick before that thing comes back."

"Hey, I think I heard something about it on the news last week."

"Is it an animal or a supernatural creature?"

"No one really knows. Some paranormal researchers nicknamed it Marco."

"Let's go home, Dan. I'm really scared."

"Me too. It's a good thing the mural is finished."

* * * * *
Later that same day, Krystal and Scott ate barbecued steak for dinner. After the meal, they watched an action movie on Netflix. There were lots of superheroes, villains, and bone-crushing fight scenes. When the show was over, they washed the soiled dishes that lay in the sink by hand.

"Isn't it cool that we finished our projects at the same time?" Krystal mused.

"It's awesome," replied Scott. "But sometimes I wish it was me who got to work with you all day."

"We'd probably get tired of each other if we spent every waking moment together. Are you jealous of Daniel?"

"No, but it seems like you spend a lot more time with him than you do with me," said Scott.

"That's ridiculous. We live together."

"You can't blame a guy for being possessive of his gorgeous girlfriend."

"Are you trying to get me into bed?"

"Maybe. I think it's time for us to celebrate."

"What do we need to celebrate?"

"My software is breaking sales records, and your mural is gonna be seen by millions of tourists."

* * * * *
Scott carried Krystal in his arms and walked toward their bedroom. He laid her on the king-size bed and began planting light, feathery kisses on her forehead, cheeks and lips. Then he unbuttoned his Armani poplin while she removed her chambray shirt and unhooked the front clasp of her lacy pink bra. Playfully he traced circles around her breasts with his tongue. When her nipples hardened he sucked on them until they turned from pink to red. He gradually moved downward and licked her navel.

While he worked his magic, she removed her blue jeans and the pink thong she wore underneath them. She spread her legs for him, which he saw as an invitation to sample her nether regions. His tongue was soft and moist against the folds between her smooth thighs. Her genitals tasted like a sweet nectar. He knew exactly how to get her to relax. All the tension of the day seemed to evaporate until it faded to a distant memory. As he explored her, she held onto his biceps. She screamed in ecstasy when he found her erogenous zones. He was like an animal in bed.

Half an hour later, they were completely naked. They made love twice that night. Like a lock and key, they fit together perfectly. Toward the end, they were both moaning and breathing heavily. They always came at the same time. Their four-hundred-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets were thoroughly soaked with their sexual secretions. They fell asleep within seconds of each other just after midnight. While Scott dreamt of overtaking Microsoft, Krystal was having visions of marriage and tiny little feet. Although they had been together for three years, they had different priorities.

Then at two o'clock in the morning, Krystal awoke to the sound of howling behind their apartment building. It startled her so much that she fell out of bed. She landed on the plush carpet with a thump. A full moon was casting slivers of white light onto the walls of their bedroom.

"Did you hear that?" Krystal asked Scott after she shook him awake.

"Hear what? Is there an intruder in our apartment?"

"No, but I heard a wild animal outside."

"Maybe it was a grizzly or a cougar."

"Bears don't howl like that, and there are no cougars in the Simenon Valley."

"It's probably just your imagination. Go back to sleep, Krys."

"It wasn't my imagination. There's something out there."

"What do you want me to do? Attack it with a steak knife? We don't have a gun."

"Well, maybe we should get one."

"It's two o'clock in the morning. I don't have the energy to chase a wild animal."

Krystal walked toward the window and stared at the woods behind the apartment building. There was nothing moving through the elm trees. Whatever had woken her up had disappeared. She concluded that it must have been a dog, and immediately went back to sleep.

* * * * *
The next morning, Krystal decided to make blueberry pancakes from scratch. It was an old recipe that had been handed down from her Grandmother Wilhelmina. She mixed the batter in a steel bowl and poured it into a cast-iron skillet. Then she heated some beef sausages in the microwave and served them on plates beside the pancakes. She had been trying to teach Scott to cook for months, but he was a reluctant student.

If it weren't for Krystal, then Scott would've driven to Tim Horton's almost every morning for breakfast. He was reading the Simenon Valley Star at the kitchen table when she dropped a plate down in front of him. The pancakes were generously covered with butter and maple syrup. A small dab of ketchup lay beside the sausages.

"So what have you got planned for today?" he asked her.

"I have a meeting at the Celiac Disease Foundation with Daniel."

"What's Celiac Disease?"

"It's an autoimmune disorder. People who suffer from it can't have bread, pasta, beer, or anything else with gluten."

"What an awful disease! I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."

"Celiac patients just have to learn to adapt. They can still eat fruits, vegetables, and meat. It's not fatal."

"But it sounds like a terrible way to live. No pizza or pasta. They probably can't have French fries either."

"Nope. No fries, cakes, cookies, processed cereals, or commercial salad dressings."

"Yuck. So what does this have to do with you and Dan?"

"We're gonna do a series of paintings for the Celiac Foundation. They'll be auctioned off and the proceeds will be invested in the charity."

"So you're working for free now?"

"It's not as bad as it sounds. Just think of all the exposure we're gonna get."

"You're lucky you have me, Krys. Someone's gotta pay the bills around here."

"Don't be so negative, Scott. I'm raising awareness for the Celiac Foundation. And when all those important people see my work, then I'll probably get lots of commissions in the next year."

"It's good that you're so optimistic," said Scott, "but you've gotta watch your craft."

Scott finished his pancakes and drank the rest of his coffee. Then he put on a suit before he drove to Kepler Tech. Ten minutes later, Krystal was still feeling hurt by his disparaging remarks about the Celiac Project. She traipsed to the washroom in a funk. After she brushed her teeth, she filled up the glossy white tub with medium-temperature hot water and took a lavender bubble bath.

* * * * *

Later that same day, Krystal Grace was sitting on a metal stool in Daniel Knight's studio across the street from the town hall. It was a small space on the second floor of a red brick building that used to be an old campaign office for a local politician. They were beginning an ambitious set of oil paintings depicting nature scenes from the Okanagan Valley. All the canvases had to be ready in a month. The two young artists had a lot of work ahead of them.

"So I take it that Scott doesn't approve of our charity work," said Daniel.

"Of course not. He's a programmer, but he's also a businessman."

"I still don't know how you ended up with him. You've got nothing in common."

"Scott can be very sweet when he wants to be. He's not a Type A asshole."

"As long as he makes you happy, I guess. Let's get started."

While Krystal set up the easels, Daniel brought in an old stereo from his Volkswagen hatchback. He had bought it for five dollars at a garage sale. It fit nicely on the granite counter in the kitchenette that occupied the south-facing corner of the studio. He plugged it into an electrical outlet and turned it on to the Virgin radio station. The morning DJ was playing a cute little torch song called "Everytime."

Daniel and Krystal worked from photographs that Daniel had taken on his last trip to the Okanagan. Their canvases were stretched and tacked to wooden frames. They used Winsor & Newton artist quality pigments mixed with linseed oil. From time to time, they applied a thinning agent to their palettes when their paints started hardening. They finished their beige underpaintings in ten minutes and sat down on a plush brown futon while their canvases dried.

"I'm going to the Tiger Lily Festival on Sunday. Wanna come?"

Daniel's eyes lit up at the prospect of going to the major fair, which was the only event of its kind in the Simenon Valley. Krystal, however, had a serious look on her face. She shook her head to indicate "No."

"That sounds like a date," Krystal said.

"It's just hanging out. Having fun."

"I don't think Scott would approve."

"Just tell him we're going to the studio to work on the project."

"You want me to lie to him?"

"Well, if we stopped by the studio after the festival, then it wouldn't be lying."

"Hey, that's a great idea. I've never been to Tiger Lily. Scott hates things like that."

"Of course he does. He doesn't appreciate culture...or nature."

"Scott doesn't have time anyway. He works from home on Sundays."

"Remind me again why you're with him."

"I hate it when you say things like that. Let's just get back to work."

* * * * *
Scott was very anxious that evening. His brother Sebastian had discovered a problem with Version 2.0 of the Keplerware program. Scott anticipated having to work the next three evenings and most of the weekend to get the glitch fixed.

"What am I supposed to do when you're working all the time?" Krystal asked.

"I thought you were volunteering to help end Celiac disease."

"I can't paint 24/7. I need work-life balance. Can I come to your office?"

"And do what? Distract my staff? No one would get any work done with you hanging around Kepler Tech."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You're too gorgeous for your own good. That's why I lock myself in the den when I need to work."

"Don't be silly. I need to get some laundry done."

"Can you throw my Nike tracksuit in there while you're at it?"

"I guess so. Not that you ever use it anymore."

"I don't use it because it's dirty."

Scott kissed Krystal on the forehead before he went to the den to repair his software. Meanwhile, Krystal took a white plastic basket of soiled clothing to the laundry room on the main floor of the building. She went jogging around the block as the washing machine did its job. After an hour, she transferred the clothes from the washer to the dryer. While the laundry dried, she returned to her apartment and watched a rerun of Smallville.

It was eight-thirty when Krystal took the laundry out. Scott was still working in the den, which was actually just a spare room. She decided not to wait for him and fell asleep at nine. He crawled into bed beside her two hours later. She was breathing softly and didn't move when he put his arm around her. It was only a matter of time before they drifted apart.

* * * * *
The Tiger Lily Festival was held every year on the last Sunday in May. People flocked to the Simenon Valley Park to hear bands, have their portraits done by local artists, and buy crafts. The riverside park was decorated with hundreds of balloons and bouquets of tangerine-colored flowers. An inflatable tent was also set up for children to bounce up and down. It was a sunny day with not a single cloud in the azure-blue sky. The setting was picture perfect for a spring festival.

Daniel and Krystal entered the festival grounds shortly after noon. They both wore t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. Because it was slightly windy, Krystal tied her hair back in a ponytail to keep it out of her face. They weren't a couple, so they didn't hold hands. Now and then, Daniel put his arm around Krystal when the winds picked up and threatened to blow away her tiny little frame.

In the Artist Alley, Daniel ran into one of his painting instructors. He decided to catch up with the professor while Krystal went to visit a psychic's tent beside the Centre Fountain. The medium's name was Steffi Nish. She had long, wavy blonde hair and wore an ebony shawl over a vintage black lace dress. Krystal paid Steffi twenty-five dollars in cash to have her fortune told.

"I use colored stones in my practice," said Steffi. "Choose one for each of the important people in your life."

"Sure. This is neat. I can't wait to find out my fortune."

Krystal picked out three different stones from the clear glass bowl on the psychic's table. They were bright red, light blue, and pink.

"Who's the red rock for?" asked Steffi.

"My boyfriend Scott. We live together."

Steffi touched the rock and closed her eyes. A minute later, she revealed the meaning of the stone.

"I sense conflict and a great deal of anger."

"Are we gonna break up?"

"It's possible, but the end result is up to you. Things can be fixed, but it's gonna take some work."

The medium returned the red rock to the bowl and moved on to the light blue one. She furrowed her brow as she shut her eyes. Steffi was deep in thought. Krystal tried not to interrupt her while she was concentrating.

"And who did you choose this one for?" Steffi inquired.

"My friend Daniel. We're both artists. We work together, and we've known each other forever."

"You're not just friends. You won't be a year from now."

"How do you know this?"

"Honey, I've been at this game for over forty years. Trust me."

Steffi placed the light blue stone in the bowl. Then she held the pink one in her hands and smiled.

"It's your mother, isn't it?" Steffi asked.

"Yeah, it is. I haven't seen her in a long time."

"But you will. Sooner than you think."

"I guess that's the last rock. Thanks."

"Anytime, Krystal. Have a fabulous day."

At that moment, the two women rose from their folding chairs. Steffi gave Krystal a hug and handed her a light green business card with black Gothic lettering. Krystal took the card and smiled shyly at Steffi before she left.

* * * * *
A minute later, Krystal found Daniel sitting beside the Centre Fountain. He was tossing nickels and dimes into the water.

"Did you make a wish?" Krystal wondered.

"Of course. That's what fountains are for."

"Well, what did you wish for?"

"It's a secret."

"You're such a tease."

They strolled to the edge of the park and took a walk beside the Simenon River valley. It was almost two o'clock by then. They approached the woods, which consisted of oak and elm trees. Something was moving furtively ten feet away from them. As it came closer, they recognized it from the day they finished the bridge mural.

"Holy shit!" exclaimed Daniel. "Marco's back."

"Let's get out of here!" Krystal shrieked.

They ran away as fast as they could, but the creature followed them. Daniel had parked his car at the north entrance, but it was on the other side of the park. The crowd near the fountain was starting to thin out. Most of the people who remained were listening to a loud alt-rock band and didn't hear the commotion caused by the giant furry insect.

Daniel had to think fast. He found a branch on the ground that had broken off a giant oak as a result of a tornado that had devastated the region a year earlier. As Marco rushed toward him, Daniel waved the branch at the monster to indicate that he was not afraid. Krystal cowered behind Daniel as he brandished his makeshift weapon. The creature opened his mouth to reveal dozens of sharp yellow teeth. His red eyes glowed brighter than a set of ambulance lights.

"Go away, you creature from Hell!" Krystal screamed.

"I've got him, Krys. Marco's gonna be mincemeat."

Marco swung his hairy arms at Daniel, but Daniel beat them away with the oak branch. The creature received sliver-encrusted gashes in his monstrous limbs. He howled like a devil in pain. It was then that Krystal realized he was the animal she heard early Tuesday morning. Marco had been roaming in the woods behind her apartment building.

Daniel fought Marco for five minutes. He beat the giant insect's head and torso with the branch. However, Marco was relentless. His wounds healed instantly. He was obviously a supernatural entity. No ordinary animal could regenerate that fast. With his enormous gossamer wings flapping behind him, Marco charged at Daniel one last time at breakneck speed. But before Marco made contact, Daniel drove the oak branch like a stake into the animal's heart. It was a lethal blow that sent the creature tumbling to the ground.

"I think he's dead," said Daniel.

"He was an evil monster," added Krystal.

"I guess I'm a murderer now."

"No, you're a hero. My hero."

Krystal put her arms around Daniel. He held her tight as a gentle breeze blew through the trees all around them. At four o'clock, they walked to the north entrance and found Daniel's Volkswagen. They drove to the studio and talked about their ordeal in the park. Neither of them felt like painting. They just sat together on the brown futon while they listened to the Virgin radio station. It was playing "We Found Love" by Ed Sheeran for their benefit. Krystal felt more at home in Daniel's studio than she did in her own apartment.

* * * * *
Scott barely noticed when Krystal returned home. He had been working in his den all day. At five o'clock, he was eating a sandwich and plugging away at his computer. When Krystal knocked on the door to the spare room, there was no answer. Scott's work often made him oblivious to the world around him.

Krystal burst through the door an hour later and found Scott sleeping at his desk. He wasn't married to Krystal, but he was married to his job. She turned around and shut the door behind her. Then she watched a chick flick in the living room on Netflix. At nine o'clock, she went to bed all by her lonesome.

The next morning, Krystal woke up at seven. She had slept alone for the first time in three years. As she walked to the den, she put on a pink robe and matching slippers. When she opened the door, she found Scott passed out on the floor. He had apparently fallen out of his chair while he was sleeping and landed on a stack of old magazines. She startled him when she shook him awake.

"Oh my God, what happened?" Scott asked.

"You fell asleep at your desk. Then you fell on the floor. You're lucky you didn't hit your head."

"What time is it?"

"Seven o'clock. Happy Monday."

"I can't believe I slept so late."

"You still have an hour before your weekly meeting."

"I should get going. I need to look over my agenda."

"Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure. What is it, Krys?"

"I can't do this anymore. This isn't working, Scott."

"What isn't working? My schedule?"

"No, I mean us living together."

"Do you wanna get married? Is that what this is all about?"

"No, I don't wanna get married. I just need a break."

"So, does this mean you're moving out?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna stay at my mother's house until I figure things out."

"It's because of Daniel, isn't it? I'm gonna deck him."

"No, it's nothing to do with Daniel."

"Are you sure? I'm not an idiot, Krys."

"No, you're not an idiot, Scott. You're the most brilliant engineer I know."

"Can I still call you every day?"

"Of course, Scott. I just need some time to myself."

"Okay, Krys. If that's what you want. Don't let me stop you."

"Goodbye, Scott."

"Goodbye, Krystal."

Scott hugged Krystal for an entire minute before he got ready for work. They had been together for three years. It was hard for him to let her go. Then he took a lukewarm shower and picked out a suit for the office. While Scott was getting dressed, Krystal started to pack her clothes in her Tommy Hilfiger blue polyester suitcases. They went about their tasks in silence until Scott closed the door behind him.

With a stern frown on his face, Scott drove his silver Chevy out of the parking lot. Unbeknownst to Krystal, he cried for the first time in his life on his way to work. He quickly wiped away the tears with a silk handkerchief before he walked into his Monday meeting. Although he was a brilliant software engineer who could manipulate most computer programs, there were some things he couldn't control.

* * * * *
The next morning, Krystal Grace was sitting on a white wicker bench on the Peruvian teak deck in her mother's backyard. She was listening to the song "Everytime" on her iPod. Shortly after she had moved into the pink stucco townhouse, she added the haunting torch song to her playlist. She had the volume cranked up loud. Her headphones were embedded firmly in her ears. This being the case, she didn't hear the young man who walked across the patio deck and sat down beside her. He yanked the headphones out of her ears with one swift motion.

"Hi gorgeous," Daniel greeted her.

"I didn't expect to find you here," Krystal said.

"You weren't answering your cell, so I called Scott. He told me what happened."

"Was he really angry? I bet he called you every name in the book."

"No, he was actually very civil. I guess he's expecting you to come back to him someday."

"It's not in the cards. I don't know why we were together to begin with."

"I shouldn't say I told you so, but I told you so."

"I knew you'd say something like that. You're so predictable."

"Why did you do it, Krys? Was it something I said?"

"No, it was a culmination of things. We were just drifting apart."

"I may be insensitive for admitting this, but I'm glad it happened."

"You're glad I broke up with Scott? Why would you say that, Dan?"

"Isn't it obvious, Krys? It's because I love you."

"You love me. How long have you felt this way?"

"I think I've known it all along, since the day I met you."

"You should've said something sooner, before I moved in with Scott."

"I was scared to say it. I didn't wanna ruin our friendship."

"I'm glad you told me, Dan."

"Why? Do you enjoy watching me grovel like this?"

"No, because I love you, too."

Krystal leaned in and kissed Daniel for a long time. The couple didn't do any painting that day, but they connected like never before. They were two soulmates, and soulmates were meant to be together.
Death warmed over.

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