It all started when Ms. Salinas told us about her third eye. It was home ec., and we were sitting in front of the sewing machines with table runners that we were going to make our moms or yayas do for us anyway. I was pretty anxious about that project.
If I tell you to think about a ghost story, you will probably imagine that it takes place in the dark. Perhaps your mind will conjure up the darkness of a campfire, the scent of wood smoke and burned sugar from making s’mores, the crackle of the wind in the trees.
So if there’s anyone listening at this god-awful hour, tonight’s topic is the same one as this morning, this afternoon, and earlier this evening . . . in fact, it’s the same topic the whole world’s had for the last thirteen days, if anyone’s been counting: Our Loved Ones; Why Have They Come Back from the Dead and What the Fuck Do They Want?
The small island, which lay off the larger island of Daphaeu, obviously contained a secret of some sort, and, day by day, and particularly night by night, began to exert an influence on me, so that I must find it out.
Clutch has killed somebody recently. This goes without saying. For as long as Clutch can remember, he has always killed somebody “recently.” If not within the last few hours, then certainly within the last few days. He may have gone as long as a couple of weeks without, from time to time, when circumstances conspired against him. But never as long as a month, no, not for living memory.
He had six different names. It was Francisco Sponelli on his birth certificate, but even his parents never called him that. They called him Little Frankie most of his life. A kid’s name that, once hung on him, made sure he’d never quite grow up. His father wasn’t even Big Frankie. Dad was Vinnie. Big Frankie was an uncle back in Sicily but who wasn’t called Big Frankie in Sicily; just when people talked about him. Big Frankie never set a goddamn foot on American soil.
I’d used duct tape to attach one end of a garden hose to the exhaust pipe, and the other end of the hose ran in through the crack at the top of the passenger-side window, pumping sweet poison into the interior. I took a last swig from the bottle between my knees, the liquor burning its familiar path down my throat. I closed my eyes and waited for a sleep that would be forever untroubled by bad dreams—for the final closing of the unbalanced account of my life—when something tapped against the glass beside my left ear.
It was just after the twenty-second anniversary of her confinement in Dunlop House Hospital on Glasgow’s Carrick Glenn Road that Plush awoke one night and heard the sound of something mewling, trapped inside the wall. She thought at first it was a young child crying, and, for an instant, it felt as though her heart stuttered to a stop. She lay there, mesmerized by the sound, which wrenched at her guilt-filled heart with notes as keen and piercing as a shard of bone.
Gibbons swigged from his hipflask, driving one-handed as he followed the caravan of carny vehicles barreling along the interstate toward tonight’s show. As the booze burned through him, he bared his teeth, glaring in the rearview at the tarp-shrouded shape of the car hooked to his truck.
We didn’t even notice the calamity and probably slept through it. If a luxury liner takes on a little water, that’s not news; if the ship keels over or sinks, that’s news. If a racecar driver whined to national media about a slight rear-end shimmy at 180mph, he’d be laughed out of the pit, whereas if he crashed and made a fireball, it would be noteworthy on the old daily feed. Most Southern California quakes are akin to one misstep while strolling.