Before peace on earth, there was hell.
Strange, this work is over 25 years old, and looking back on it, I get why it never sold. But damn, I'm proud of it. Check out a sample, here.
The television flickered against a backdrop of closed curtains late in the evening, reflecting off used glass tumblers and overflowing crystal ashtrays. A small red light blinked as the answering machine sat quiet on an end table. Across the room a pale light washed out from a cased opening, brushing only the first few feet of the living room.
A bulb under the stove hood flickered, then burned out. The darkness covered the used dishes piled in the sink and those randomly stacked about the kitchen counter. Many with a green fungus growing over whatever food had been left to rot in the open air. Further down from the sink, across from the countertop, a pair of slated bifold doors were wedged open by a pile of laundry that was home to a mixture of minute, crawling creatures.
Back out in the living room, Jonathan rolled over on his stomach, tucking his hands under his belly, frowning in his sleep. Not wanting to watch the dream which was playing out in his mind, he fought against what he knew was coming.
Nickelodeon blared, mixing with Catherine's voice as she stood talking on the phone. Her bright face framing a light dancing in her blue eyes as she lovingly glanced over to Tim who was engulfed in the television. The aroma of coffee brewing, not in a cheap Mr. Coffee, but perking, was rich. Through sliding glass doors, Jonathan stood busy over a Weber, prodding burgers to tenderness. Playing with a quarter pound of ground beef, Jonathan laughed as he caught Tim out of the corner of an eye wearing a huge smile. Pressing the spatula over a patty, Jonathan heard the juices sizzle as they dropped into the hot coals.
Lifting the long handled spatula, Jonathan watched his own eyes widen, and moaned in his sleep. A burned out human heart lay broken in the beef's place as the flames leaped up through the blackened grill to wrap what was left of the heart in hues of orange and red.
Jonathan turned to look into his house and saw only Timothy setting with legs crossed and the telephone dangling from its cord, swinging in broad silent arcs.
A scream from the basement and Jonathan watched himself run towards the wail, wishing in his sleep he had told Tim to stay put. He did not, and Tim went unnoticed as he ran after his father.
Jonathan rolled over on his back, flinging an arm off the couch.
Each tread of the stairs bounced and squealed under his weight. Reaching the bottom step, he stopped and dropped his mouth open. Catherine hung suspended from a joist, twirling as the rope unwound, her bare feet mere inches off the floor.
"Da... ddy." was a wail from behind as Jonathan realized his son stood behind him. Turning to grab him, to whisk him away from this place, Jonathan found only empty space.
"Da...ddy." came again and Jonathan turned back to his wife where Tim hung beside her with a gentle sway to his own rope.
"Noooo" Jonathan tossed his head from side to side, "No more. Please." was muffled as he turned to drive his sweating brow deep into a couch pillow.
And the dream started again.