Fort Mystery---A Novel

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Fort Mystery---A Novel

Post by good4somethingbum » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:40 pm

This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the release of my new mystery novel. But---a few words of caution. If you’ve recently been offended by Sarah Michelle Gellar, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving or Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, this book might not be for you.

Why not? It contains more villainy than the front row of Aretha’s funeral. There are double-crosses, cultural appropriations, insensitive insults and even---murder. Every breed of malfeasance lurks behind the shadows of these pages.

Below is the introduction along with the first two chapters. Want more? Of course you do! It’s $2.99…

…if you dare! ... ert+George

Lust for power. Insatiable greed. Jealousy. Lovers from different social stratas. Timeless themes and fertile plots for any play, movie or novel.
And yet.
Teenagers solving a mystery.
That’s one that swims beneath the sonar. It’s the domain of Nancy Drew, The Blob and Scooby-Doo. And my personal favorite as a child, The Three Investigators. It’s low-brow. Opportunities for pretentious subtext are few.
And yet.
The stakes are raised and every emotion is magnified. Teenagers feel like no others. They feel everything. Have them solve a series of eerie murders and the imagination tingles. Horror, romance, humor…all amplified.
I hope that’s what the reader will experience with…

Fort Mystery.

Pt. I

“Sunshine bores the daylights out of me
Chasin’ shadows, moonlight mystery”

The Rolling Stones

Midnight was lactating. Moonlight soaked through a thin blouse of mist above Cochise Cemetery. A soft wind snaked around the leaning stones and through the tall, dry grass until something bid it “hush”. Two headlights like silver eye sockets appeared on the two-lane. The car slowed, blinkered and turned onto a gravel road a tobacco spit’s distance from the neglected bone garden.
The car stopped and the driver killed the engine. The smell of exhaust mingled with the scent of highway carrion in a foul, hoodoo perfume. A shadow stepped from the car, shut the door and fumbled with something in each hand. A murmur drifted through the air and died among the dusty stones.
“Same old shit…”
The shadow shook its right hand and as if by command a beam of light stabbed the darkness, exposing clouds of dust, mesquite and dry, brittle grass. The figure started up the road, sweeping the flashlight to its left along the brush as if searching for something. Its left hand held an old, wrinkled, shopping bag by a large, looped handle. It passed a globe willow then a large prickly pear cactus. Grass crunched behind it, sounding like a skeleton cracking its knuckles. The shadow whirled and jabbed the light in the noise’s direction.
A rabbit.
A deep breath.
The shadow turned, once again sweeping the light along the brush.
“…maybe it’s gone…completely overgrown and buried…or maybe it was further up. Or back closer to the highway…”
Moonlight fashioned ivory crowns for several headstones in the cemetery. A raven landed on one and cawed. The mist thickened, dissolving the crowns like dreams and memories.
“…no, it’s got to be here. We walked that path a million times…”
A few more feet.
Another rabbit.
More crowns were given, then reclaimed.
A slender opening appeared in the brush, like a part in a mop of unkempt hair. The shadow turned left. The old path was at most eighteen inches wide. Thorns and mesquite branches nipped hungrily at the shadow’s wrist and clothing. The flashlight was pointed directly ahead of the shadow’s shoes. The path meandered this way and that, mostly parallel to the highway.
“….I wonder…after all these years..”
Moonlight joined the flash’s beam and the path came to an ancient, giant mesquite with something hanging on one of its limbs. It looked like a huge octopus, upside down, dragging prey toward its maw.
“…I’ll be damned…!!”
The shadow looped the shopping bag around the inside of its elbow, then fished out a tiny Tupperware container. Then it lifted a kerosene lantern off the mesquite branch, filled its reservoir and lit it with a wooden match. The white lantern was bruised a dark brown with rust, its glass caked with dust. The shadow brushed it off with a sleeve, allowing light to feel its way out like it had awakened from a long coma. The flashlight was clicked off and placed in the bag.
The path veered sharply to the right and continued for a few hundred feet. Coyotes yipped and cried in the distance, happy with their kill.
The shadow shuddered at the thought.
“…who am I kidding…we’re all damned…”
More grass crunching. But where?
“…that’s all I need. To be surrounded and mauled to death by those frickin’ things. I know it’s rare but it happens. My dad useta warn my mom when she went jogging,..”
The roof of a decrepit house peeked over the brush. A raven burst from a hole in the shingles. The path swerved left and headed straight for a large, crooked oak. The tree was silhouetted against the sky, its branches spread in supplication like a martyr falling to the earth. There were three monstrous branches on its left, and they held the shell of a decaying structure.
The shadow came to stand before the tree, a peasant before Solomon, begging favor. The lantern’s glow climbed the bent, gargantuan trunk. Fossils of two by fours remained nailed into the trunk. The light kept its footing all the way to the top, then entered a tall, uneven, rectangular hole. A winged creature started at the light and fled through a smaller, semi-square opening to the left. A second hole to the right of the rectangle gave the impression of facial holes cut in a sheet for a Halloween costume. Or a soul vacating a lost cause.
The shadow lifted the lantern far above its head. A thirty-six by twenty-four inch sign was fastened over the tree house door with screws. Two decades before, the sign had been beautifully cut, burned, routered, shellacked and engraved. The light seemed to bore into the timeworn wood, blasting away encrusted mud, dust and termites. The letters were still there.

Fort Mystery

The shape took a step back and saw the scratching below the “O”. Someone had carved a line down from the “O” so that it looked like “Fart Mystery”. After that, someone took a number sixteen nail and scratched over the line. A soft chuckle rippled through the thin fog.
The light moved to the right and found a six foot high post, leaning northeast away from the wind. It, too, was covered in dirt and termites. There were four thin, flat pieces of cheap wood screwed to the post. The shadow knocked some dust off the post with the palm of its hand. Then the light shone on the pieces of wood. The words were no longer legible. They had been shallow carvings, made with a nail.
Long since filled with the grout of years.
One by one, voices sounded in the darkness till they became a ragged, Salvation Army Choir. A hawk, an eighteen wheeler whining down the two-lane, a train on the desert and more coyotes. The shadow turned and the light found the roof. Shingles blown off, wet leaves glued along the peak, a bird’s silhouette perched on the crumbling chimney.
A sigh.
“Someone should be living there. I don’t know who but someone should.”

There’s a stagnation here. And not just a normal torpor like cycles of poverty or crime but a stagnation that’s almost an entity, a living thing. I wonder if that entity sees what happened back then the same as my memories do?

Needless to say, the grapes are seedless today.

Chapter Two

October 1979

The full moon seemed weak with jaundice. It climbed slowly for a few minutes, then paused to rest above Stalking Bear. Dozing Bear was more like it. He was sitting in the dry grass, his back against a tombstone, his hand clutching a tall boy Schlitz. A gas bubble rumbled up from his gut, reached his chest, then birthed a belch like the roar of the MGM lion. He drained the can then tossed it in the weeds. He got up slowly, steadying his drunk ass on the tombstone. The stone read, “Graceful Lynx”. The moon matched his paltry ambitions and crept up with him.
A four-pointed shovel and a pick-axe leaned against the next stone down. Sloth had overcome them as well. They were both wet with some kind of sludge at the bottom. Bear looked around Cochise Cemetery, spit a mouthful of chaw in the grass and commenced to bitching.
“No way in Lucifer’s hell that they’re gonna build a casino here. No way in hell…”
His head wobbled on his shoulders as he looked around the graveyard. His holey thermal underwear was tucked into his dirty, sagging J.C. Penney jeans. His red flannel shirt had come untucked and its tail was flapping gently in the dank breeze. His long, greying hair crawled down his back like it wanted to reach the ground, find a rock and slither under it.
Another belch, then he spun around, surveying the markers and stones.
“Every soul here has been gathered by an arid gust at the sounding of The Spirit’s horn. They sure don’t care if their remains get relocated to a new reservation. Just a coupla miles off I-10…this is a perfect spot to take advantage of Whitey’s vices. Plus, where there’s gamblin’, there’s whores. I’ll bet we’d get a few high class ones, too. From Phoenix even…”
Bear smiled off in the night. The moon rose a little more and grew paler still. Something crunched in the grass but Bear didn’t turn around.
“Damned jack rabbits”, he grumbled.
He looked up at the moon and mused, his thoughts riding a soft buzz.
“…Yeah, a new whore’re two’d be a nice change from that one on the res now...”
“…Hell, I don’t even mind her C-Section scars. Or her appendix scar. Or the moles when y’ get right down to it…”
“…but that damned plastic leg…it’d soften the Rocka Gibraltar. A bright pink leg on a broad with dark brown skin just ain’t natchul.”
Two hands caught Bear’s head in a vice and twisted with all their strength. Bear grunted, his eyes bulging. He twitched and folded to the ground, his fingers snapping back and forth. He grew still and a shadow knelt over him. The figure opened its jaws and ripped at Bear’s clammy throat with its teeth, warm blood dripping down its chin. The shovel and pick enjoyed the extra time they were given to be slothful.

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