No vampires! No werewolves! No boogeymen in these pages. For my readers who want stories with thrills, chills, and surprise endings, but not so horrific to keep them from a good night's sleep, I have selected thirty stories from my "Black As Night" and "Shivers and other nightmares" compilations to rock your world without the hairy monsters.
Price: $2.99 (eBook)
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Billy's Horror Show
The selections include:
The Eye Of the Beholder
Montague and Isabella sat on a white bench in the park. From the moment he first saw her on that beautiful day only four weeks earlier, he knew he would marry her someday. He felt like a man who’d just won the lottery, because by some miracle, Isabella felt the same way about him. They met every Sunday, rain or shine, at the same place, and each time they talked for hours until Isabella had to catch a bus to go home.
He’d asked to take her out to dinner and offered to take her on trips to exotic places, but she said she had to take care of her sick mother until her sister returned from a sabbatical. Her mother’s sisters came to visit on Sunday afternoons, and it was the only time she could get away.
“What will your parents say about you marrying someone like me from the swamps of the bayou?” Isabella asked with her dark eyes fluttering nervously.
Montague smiled warmly and replied, “Once they meet you and see the joy in my heart, they won’t let their old fashioned ways stand in the way of my happiness.”
Like every Sunday, Isabella rose from the park bench at four o’clock. He embraced her and kissed her tenderly. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen with her sensual body, her long, flowing black hair, her pixie nose, and her mesmerizing blue eyes. Nothing would stop him from spending his life with her. With a deep sadness, he watched her head toward the bus stop. She seemed to float on the air in her white dress like an angel on a cloud.
* * *
“Have you lost your mind? A person of your station can’t marry someone who lives in a falling down shack in the bayou,” Montague’s mother, Bernice, ranted.
“I assure you Isabella does not live in a shack. How did you get that idea?”
“We hired a private investigator. We know every thing about the little tramp,” Montague’s father bellowed.
“Enough of this, I will marry Isabella with or without your approval,” Montague said, as he stormed out the front door.
Montague got into his Maserati and drove away leaving a trail of black rubber on the circular driveway. He couldn’t believe what his parents had told him. Isabella had predicted what they would say, and she was right. In his parents’ way of thinking, the rich must marry the rich. Forget about love and happiness. No wonder his father had a woman who fulfilled his sexual desires in New Orleans. He’d bragged about it several times when his mother wasn’t within earshot. He also believed his father had married for money. He loved his mother, but she looked more like a linebacker for the Saints than a beautiful bride in her wedding pictures, and she was dumber than a barn door.
Montague swore he would never let this happen to him. He loved Isabella and with or without his parents’ fortune, he would find a way to make her happy.
Four days later, Jessup, the butler, loaded four large suitcases into the trunk of a yellow cab. Montague took one last look at the massive estate that covered many acres he’d thought would be his someday. As he was getting into the taxi, Jessup informed him his father had asked for the keys to his red Maserati, and he reluctantly forked them over.
So many sweet memories lingered here in the house where he was born. He thought of the Christmases and how it took half a day to unwrap his presents. He remembered how he’d cried his eyes out when his mother confessed there was no Easter bunny. A tear rolled down his face as the taxi wound around the circular driveway and passed through the enormous iron gates bordering the estate.
He wondered what kind of job he could find in the current economic crisis. Finding employment had been the last thing on his mind before he met Isabella; now it was a major concern.
When the taxi driver reached the main highway, he asked, “Where to, Mr. Foxworth?”
“The address is 34 Flambeau Road, Empire, Louisiana.”
When the location didn’t come up on his GPS, he asked, “Are you certain of the address? Do you have a zip code?”
“Yes, that would be 70050.”
The driver rechecked the GPS and verified the zip on the monitor. Montague saw him shake his head in puzzlement.
“Is something wrong?”
“I’m flabbergasted that you would be going to that address. There’s nothing out there, but a few shacks, alligators, snakes, and swamp.”
“You must be mistaken, sir,” Montague said indignantly. “My fiancé lives at that address. Did the butler give you adequate payment for the fare?”
“I’ll say he did. I can take you to hell and back for the money he gave me. I just didn’t know I’d really be going there.”
Montague saw the weird smile in the rear view mirror and decided to be quiet.
When the four-lane highway changed to two lanes, the businesses, restaurants, and gas stations became few and far between until they vanished entirely. Water stood on both sides of the road. An occasional alligator slithered into the muck as the taxi continued into the desolate no man’s land.
Finally, after another half an hour had elapsed, the driver said, “You’re a lucky guy.”
“How so?” Montague responded.
“If the butler hadn’t greased my palm so well, I would never have come out here. Think about it. What if my taxi breaks down? I’d be afraid to get out of my car for fear an alligator might gobble me up, or a water moccasin might take a bite out of my ankle. I haven’t seen another automobile for a half hour, and this is a dead zone for cell phones.”
Montague said nothing, but the miles and miles of swamp on both sides of the road were certainly alarming should anything happen to the taxi.
Finally, the taxi slowed, and Montague saw a dilapidated sign almost covered by a tree limb. The word “Flambeau” was barely visible. Turning onto the sparsely graveled road, the overhanging branches thumped against the windshield as they proceeded deeper into the swamp. When the taxi finally pulled off the shoulder along side a small cottage on the right side of the road, the driver envisioned the Big Bad Wolf outside the house where Little Red Riding Hood came to visit her grandmother.
“Are you sure you want to get out of the car? I’m happy to take you to a decent hotel in the city. I’m going that way anyway.”
Suddenly, like a ray of sunshine, Montague saw Isabella, floating like an angel across the green, manicured lawn. She wore his favorite long, white dress. Red roses were nestled in her hair. The moment he saw her, all his fears disappeared. He felt as if he were walking on air. The little cottage with its bright colors stood in front of a huge rainbow in the bluest sky he’d ever seen. Horses romped in the green pastures behind the house, and sheep grazed as far as his eye could see. The birds sang in the oak tree, and the smell of honeysuckle was sweet on the summer wind.
Montague jumped from the taxi and ran to her, lifting her high in the air and smothering her with kisses.
The taxi driver opened the trunk and removed the four suitcases. “ Do you need any help with these?” he asked.
“Just leave them there. I’ll take them in. Do I owe you anything?”
“I’m more than okay. I got the biggest tip in my life. It’ll help put my kids through community college.” he chuckled. “One last time, are you sure you’re okay?”
“Perfect,” Montague said. “I’ve never been better.”
The driver returned to the taxi, and after fishtailing out of the muck along the shoulder of the road, he finally found traction and pulled away.
* * *
Later that night, after returning to civilization from the swamps, Montague’s taxi driver had some brews with a drinking buddy at their favorite watering hole. After knocking down the first draft and refilling the glass from the large pitcher, he asked his friend, who was also a taxi driver, “Do you believe in witches?”
“Never thought about it. Why do you ask?”
“I think I saw one today.” Montague’s driver popped some peanuts into his mouth from a bowl on the table.
“Out in the swamp about fifty miles into the bayou.”
“What were you doing out there?”
“Believe it or not, someone paid me $1,000 to take a young fellow and four suitcases from a ritzy estate on Knob Hill to a falling down shack in the swamps. I swear it looked to me like the roof was about to cave in. The front door was hanging by one hinge. The outhouse was leaning so far over someone took the door off so they could get inside to take a crap.”
The good buddy scratched his head, “A thousand dollars! Who would pay so much?”
“The butler of some rich dude whose son was leaving home to move in with his fiancé.”
“Was the young dude blind, deaf, and dumb or just mentally challenged?”
“That’s what I mean when I say I might have seen a witch.”
“What do you mean?”
“This young man must have been under her spell.”
‘Yeah. He thought the house was something out of a fairy tale where they would live happily ever after. He told the woman he saw rainbows and livestock in green pastures in the backyard instead of the shit storm of derelict cars and junk I saw.”
“She must have been a knockout.”
“On the other hand, she had a grotesque, hairy mole on the tip of her nose and bigger ears than Bugs Bunny. Her mouth was horribly disfigured from a hair lip, and she shambled along like one leg was shorter than the other. Do you remember how Igor, the humpback, walked in Son of Frankenstein? It was something like that.”
“Are you sure he wasn’t blind?”
“He wasn’t blind, but he still couldn’t see what was really there.”
“You’re giving me the creeps. Have another brew, and let’s watch the ball game.”
* * *
Two sisters in their seventies, waiting for word on the condition of their 102 year old father at Presbyterian Hospital, noticed Isabella rise from her chair and head toward the ladies’ room.
The elder sister whispered, “Her husband’s parents died in a mysterious fire at their summer home in the Hamptons. The Post said the estate is worth more than six billion dollars.”
“Really. You sure it was billions, not millions?” the younger sister asked.
“I remember specifically it was billions. The front page had a picture of her getting into a Rolls Royce.”
“Did it say what’s wrong with her husband?”
“A team of doctors from all over the country have been working on him for weeks, and so far they don’t have a clue how to save him. An unidentified virus has attacked his organs, and his immune system is too weak to fight it much longer. I overheard one of the doctors say it would be a miracle if he makes it through the night.”
“I had no idea it was that serious.” Pointing to the chair vacated by Isabella, the younger sister whispered, “she doesn’t look like she’s very torn up about her husband’s condition.”
“The caption below the picture of her on the front page said she’ll be the tenth richest woman on the planet if he dies.”
“I guess six billion would soften the blow.”
“It might even put a little snap in your step on a cold, lonely night.”
They chuckled into their crying tissues.
Watching the door to the ladies room, anticipating Isabella’s return, the elder sister whispered, “Have you ever seen a woman that ugly?”
* * *