Become a Fan
By William P Haynes
Thursday, August 21, 2003
a lovecraft styled short
THE LAST TESTIMONY OF CHARLES WESTON SMITH
Fires once burned upon the spot where the grey house now rests.["Sometimes it is difficult for me to remember, so much time has passed by."] These were the years of cobbled streets and horses, gas lights and the horseless carriage. They no longer seal letters with wax nor leave the imprint of their seal on that which they have written. I lived in a city then that the gods have called Babylon.
Man named this city, New York and it is of that city I speak. This tale is also of the woman, the one men call Lori Marie. Herein lies the morphine induced dream.
I had ventured forth unto the tavern on Park Street. A faded wooden sign proclaiming the establishment: EARLíS WELL hung above the posts where those lucky enough to own a steed, were tethered. I entered owning barely a coin of the realm and sat down on a chair by the back entrance. The odor of cooking meats drifted by from the kitchen behind me. The smell fed my hunger but I had not silver to eat. In truth, I looked worse the wayfarer with my long coat near tatters, my flowing red scarf soiled by hard life.
The mirror on the wall reflected a tall man whose youth had been devoured by whiskey and absinthe. Before the curtain arose, a waitress fetched the mead I had ordered, taking with her my last coin not gambled or spent.
This was not a haven for good men but a foothold for the wicked. On the sawdust covered floor walked boots caked in mud and dried blood. No questions are ever asked of evil men whose pockets bulge with their misdeeds. It is best to serve and befriend least your own rich blood be spilled upon the dust. They pass me by without seeing, my wickedness seeming greater than their own. This is where we met, where the dancer, Lori Marie charmed souls. The banter of sodded travelers fell silent as the music began to play. She moved, alluring and exotic across the stage. Our eyes met and all of me is lost. Forever trapped in the hazel mystery I behold. There are none left too witness when the last note is finished, none save I and I alone. For me, she has danced and fed the hunger. This lovely dancer sets before my table both mead and bread. I am taken as any man would be. When she motions, so softly with lips of fire, I arise and follow.
The sawdust is undisturbed, the night, young and wet with desires. Beside the kitchen rests a staircase that before I failed to see. Lori Marie has climbed the first few steps and her slender arms reach down for me. A single candle illuminates the chamber ahead as I ascend the stairs.
Time has neither depth nor hold upon me now as we move onward. My name, the ship that brought me passage, all rest on my tongue but somehow cannot be remembered. At the crest, she tells me to wait upon the landing. Her words are not spoken but rather more like random thoughts, floating through my mind like the winds. My wait is eternal as she prepares my arrival. With time she comes for me, the sheets of her bedchamber all turned. Her chamber is not lit for the passion of men and I, like those men fallen before me, am but a fool. Still, I am blind and fueled by lust and drink. What fear has the seafarer of the oceans? What fright does the highwayman have for the roads? I had no terror holding fast to my heart as I viewed her haughty decadence with its shrill cold laugh. I felt not the sharp blade of the dagger driven firm into my heart. I saw only the hazel mystery of her eyes.
How long has been my descent from this hell that has befallen me? What has become of my life? Lori Marie has taken all and left nothing in its stead. I am lost, forever and eternal. I live now in the grey house where the fires once burned. I have left the great city with its deadly charms and music. That is now my past but today I remember the coldness. The hazel mystery of the dancerís eyes.
In this life I know no taverns for I have learned there dark secrets. My past is scrawled in black ink inside a journal, closed forever upon a bookshelf. My doorway is bolted but of no use for she has found me and offers temptation that I find hard to resist. Lori Marie has left a message drawn in blood upon my wall. What I knew, I know remember of the life I lived before. Mayhaps the gods have bade me to take flight , to escape before I suffer again her bewitchment.
It is 7:57 AM and sunlight plays against my blind as I complete anew the journal. The words contained within are the wealth of me. They are meant as warning for all men who dare to journey forth into darkened taverns. Once fallen, the blanket of decades offers up no salvation. I know her knock will come shortly on my door. Her loving hands will rap but three times and I will throw wide the portal to let her enter. I am helpless. I can do naught but what she bids me to do. It has always been thus between men and the dancer.
I had survived the war of masks but was weary. As worn as the plateau where the mountains once stretched toward the skies. Time had been the burden of my youth but today it was a luxury that I could ill afford. Thrice during the wanton touch of night, I almost fell. I, once named, Charles Weston Smith wanted to laugh but could feel nothing. Nothing but the hand of death resting its coldness against my soul.
What sayeth a man to death when its breath is felt upon his neck? I thought of the worth of my life as I stared blankly ahead. Very slowly I arose from the sofa and stumbled across the room. The deeds of my life would not bring me sainthood nor for the matter be a fitting bribe for she who called that hour. I clung feverishly to life as it dwindled away with the sands.
The name, Charles Weston Smith, was my true name, so vividly recalled this hour. I also knew that of she whom I had let enter my home. She had been the ripened fruit of all menís desires when we chanced to meet. Her name is whispered amongst them in the darkness. She that they call Lori Marie. It is only the completion of the journal which sustains me. The journal that must forever be hidden and passed on. It is 8:16 now and the road beckons with the voices of weeping angels. They, like the gods, know the truth but will not help. All is lost of me as I drink the eternal beauty of her.
I stand with one foot upon a step. The stairs are remnants of a forgotten time. It is the winding staircase of Lori Marieís chamber. She is the exotic siren of the tavern where the wayfarer once roamed. Her voice calls, whispers to me so alluring, so blessed with passion that it must be tasted. Men will forever ensnare themselves within her web. I know now I will never complete this journal.
This vixen of the mists and of death has once more enjoined the moment to drift passed us. Her lustful beauty remains but words upon this journal. I have listened to her requiem sung from afar the Elysian Fields. It is now 9:25 a.m. of the finale and tonight she comes at long last. The closing entry upon a page written by the pangs of my soul. For now it surely must be spoken of the days when fires burned and the love of Lori Marie.
Time is the breath upon her lips and she of hazel mystery came unto me, now years past, where this home now rests. I am only a man and was quickly taken by the love of her. It was in the bitterest of winters when my youth was naught but the ash trapped within the hearth that we first met. My lot then was hard, my descent swift. No longer had I wine to forget nor silver too remember. I was both rogue and poet in those troubled times. With the harsh taste of this winter followed the barren fields. All was now lost and doom came upon me as surely as a stray dog upon a darkened road. These were days that tried a manís soul without hint of mercy. Inside my home, before the hearth, I erected a gallows. With my death chanced Lori Marie to call.
I was awakened to the pounding of my troubled heart. My hand had courted this death, this road of egress but to what avail? For now my doom has indeed worsened as I walk this highway alone. I live in the grey house where the fires once burned. And my love has not the odor of roses but of burnt almonds. For the pleasure of Lori Marie, I am truly lost.
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|Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione
|I am surprised you haven't sent this story out anywhere, you're pretty damn good at doing the Mythos kind of horror. Thanx for the review on O.W.I.F. You got a voice with this one, just need to flesh the story out even more.|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|enjoyed the read|