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Watch Once a Tree’s Haunting Debut Music Video, “Howling”

Short stories for high times #1

At 11:30 on Saturday night, the clouds covered the moon and the whole world was gray. The little box houses sat stiff and quiet with their little box people inside, waiting for the night to end. The streets all led right into each other, so walking; there was no escape from where you just were, for when you walked away, there you arrived again. The cemetery glowed; dimly lit by the obscured light of the moon. The houses that surrounded it backed away to let the square plot of land be what it was without the interference of the moving world.

A car drove onto the skinny dirt road and parked leaving its break lights on. One would like to believe that it was the police, looking for the teenagers and their drugs, but the car’s lights did not resemble those of the cops, and the vehicle moved too slowly, solemnly for a mean white man to be behind the wheel.

“Merle.” The old man sighed as he knelt down in front of the gravestone, just as dimly lit as all the others. There was room on the stone for two names of the deceased buried there, but only one name was chiseled in, for only one body had been buried, for only one had gone, leaving the other to lay down hugging the ground where his dead wife lay, anticipating the day he would lay with her. In the mean time, every now and then he would find his way off the couch and into his car and find himself driving down the road. He did not have to keep in control of these motions, but merely submit to them, his mind in other places. “Merle,” He said again, slowly, content. Now he was squatting on the ground fingering the stone, looking at it like he yearned to love the piece of marble but could not, for it was not what it stood for. “I know it’s late, Merle, but I came here to see you,”

“Edward, dear is that you?”

“Merle?” the old man said confused but delighted to hear a voice so nearly forgotten, for it had been quite a few years, and an old man’s memory does not always hold on to important things like one would like to believe it should.

“I know its you, Edward.”  The woman’s voice said softly.

“Oh Merle I’ve missed you. The house is lonely and the kids don’t stop by like you told them too, Merle. We need you Merle.”

“Oh Edward, now don’t get sad now, Edward, you know how I hate that.”

“I know dear, I’m sorry. I made dinner for the two of us tonight, why don’t you come home now while it is still hot on the table. I lit a candle there in the center like you like, Merle.” He gently begged the woman to come home, for surly there was a burning candle on the table back at the house as they spoke.

“No, no, dear I’m quite content right here but I wouldn’t want you wasting all that food just because I’m not hungry, you go eat that all yourself. Indulge, Edward.”

“Oh Merle,” he said again, as if that was the only thing to say. “Oh Merle…”

“Get on with it Edward I have things to do. What did you come here for at such a god-awful hour on an ugly night like tonight?” The dead woman was wrong, because the night does not have the capability to be ugly. Like a piece of fine art, the night can be peaceful, easy to look at, comforting, or the night can be cold and uncomfortable, dark, mysterious, and threatening, but never ugly. The night is never ugly. The night was a blanket. Wool and scratchy, but it would always be beloved as the night.

“Tommy is getting married, Merle. Little Tommy found himself a nice girl, they’re getting married in July, Merle, its goanna be hot as blazes, but I think they’re happy.”

The old women scoffed at the news, and although dark in the graveyard, you could hear her role her eyes deep inside her head. “I never like him much, it was you that insisted we kept it going. I was hoping I’d out live him. Well, at least I’m not around to have to watch the whole thing go down. Is she a bitch, Edward? I always thought he would fall for some blond bimbo. Is she, Edward?”

“What, Merle?” The old man was confused by her words. “What are you saying, Merle?”

“I wanted him aborted and you knew that! But God forbid your mother should find out we got rid of the little bastard…”

“Merle, I…I don’t understand.” The darkness was blinding now, and the old mans eyes were opened wide, his pupils dilated to their largest circumferences; searching for any smudge of light they could suck in.

“Oh, never mind, Edward, its no use now. Make sure she wears satin and not polyester, its cheep and I wont have that.”

“I’ll make sure of it Merle, I’ll tell her we spoke and what you said, she’ll be so happy to hear from you.”

“Edward,” the woman’s voice was soft, “let me see that cock, one last time before you go.” She seemed to plea with him, using a tone of that a small child asking his mommy for 5 more minutes on the playground.

“Merle I can’t do that, I told you. Come home for supper while it’s still hot.”

“Oh, Edward come on now, you have no idea what it’s like here, I miss you, Edward, I do. Just one last time Edward, for me, let me see.” Her tone had a faint grin to it.

“Oh, okay but then I have to go, I left the candle burning. I’ve got to go blow it out and feed that cat.” The man fumbled with his pants in the dark, and after some anticipation, reviled himself to the night. He stood smiling; like he had just performed a good deed and people all around him were cheering. He smiled like there was a spotlight on him and he stood on a pedestal and the crowd cheered passionately. We sat watching him talk to his wife, in the dark. He lay on the ground stiffly with his pants wrapped around his knees, and his eyes still opened wide, looking for light. He lay stiffly, in every way, and did not move, for the old man was dead. And we watched from the back yard, looking at the soft glow of his break lights, and the man who had just died. We sat and watched as the night grew starry and calm, and the wind slowed to a whisper. We sat and stayed where we had been created. The swing slowed to a stop, and the little boy got off. He shook his head, said goodnight to the darkness, and walked home.