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Wheatley's Last Wish Chapter Two
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Wheatley's Last Wish Chapter Two
Drakeman Robert Kincaide
Drakeman Robert Kincaide has a unique way of tapping his creative reserves: his dreams are hauntingly real. He has only begun to strip-mine the surface; perhaps what lies below, in the deepest shadows of the most primitive part of the brain, are best left in forgotten corners... or perhaps not.
Kincaide lives at the edge of an ancient woods in the heart of Amish country in Ohio. An old farmhouse, with three cats as his only companions and shadows dancing on the walls from crackling flames voraciously devouring applewood, is where he calls home.
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Wheatley's Last Wish (Short Stories) Continuation to previous entries. [3,119 words]
Wheatley's Last Wish Chapter Two
Drakeman Robert Kincaide
The entire conversation with the portly old man seemed surreal in the filthy world under the bridge, and Gus felt an unnatural cold creeping into his soul.
"I don't know who you are, you damn fool, but I'm out of here."
Gus started backing away, never taking his eyes off the old man.
"Just leave me alone, you weirdo."
The old man's eyes seemed to glow with fiery red dots as he led the walking stick with the ram's head closer to his face.
"Apprehensive of a crippled old man? You say your prayers to God and you invoke demons from the bowels of hell to take you away from a dour existence, yet you back down when the opportunity presents itself."
The eyes in the ram's head were blazing red and the stranger's eyes captured the reflection. Red dots glowed fiercely in the old man's eyes.
"No wonder you're such a gross washout, Gus Wheatley. You're nothing but poltroonery under that thick skin of yours."
"Okay, old man," Gus said, rubbing his eyes, "okay."
He moved closer to the stranger, defiant with rage.
"Go ahead, give me a heart attack, if you're so mystical. I'm sick of you taunting me."
The old man cast a sinister smile as he lowered his walking stick and sniffed the contents of the mysterious bottle again.
"Seven days, Gus Wheatley. To get your affairs together, you understand. Buy some life insurance, perhaps; enjoy yourself. Run up some hefty credit. In seven days, all your worries will be innocous to you."
Gus nodded at the stranger.
"Yeah, right. And what's in it for you, old man? Do I sign my soul over to you or something?"
The old man sniffed the ancient bottle again and hobbled closer to Gus.
"Heavens, no," he said in a companionable tone this time, "I am merely a granter of wishes. No strings attached, Mr. Wheatley, I assure you."
He poured some of the viscous liquid out of the bottle into his hand and deftly slapped Gus's face with the fragrance.
"Hey! What in the hell are you doing, you old coot?" Gus jumped back.
Instinctively, he rubbed at the peculiar fragrance with his gloved hand.
"You're nuts, you dottering old fool, you know that?"
The man capped the bottle and slipped it into his sweatshirt.
"I'm impressed the way it permeates your skin," he said in that jocular tone again, "rather like a symphony that begins loudly, then soon slides into subtle, entangling developments that grow on you. Yes, indeed, I like that very much."
"Why did you do that to me, old man?"
"Why, I'm just marking my territory, Mr. Wheatley," he said.
His voice metamorphosed into something bizarre; something alien; something out of this time.
"I marked you just in the unlikely event you attempt to quail from our agreement; after all, it is your own wish now, isn't it? Death, I mean."
A sudden chill crept back into the very marrow of Gus Wheatley's bones again, and uncontrollable tremors wracked his body. The old man grinned and his apple-red cheeks glistened in the rising sun. He turned and looked up at the mass of steel and concrete of the I-280 bridge and pointed his thumb and forefinger at it like a chimerical pistol.
"Bang, bang," he said aloud, wiggling his thumb. From out of nowhere a blackbird landed at Gus's feet and he almost jumped out of his shoes.
"What the hell?"
Gus was shocked by the dead bird's appearance.
"Damn," the old man chuckled, "I didn't know it was loaded."
He released a generous belly laugh and his rancid breath smelled like garlic and sulfur. Gus stared up at him now in abject fear and his chest began to tighten. He was unable to breathe.
"Seven days, Gus Wheatley," the man gruffed, "seven days from this precise moment. Eleven in the morning, next Wednesday. We shall meet again, here in this nexus that connects to both your world and mine."
Suddenly, Gus heard a thunderous rumble and he turned his head towards the sound. A massive Norfolk Southern locomotive snorted and rumbled to life, causing standing water puddles to quiver. It lurched forward, tugging at a processian of Canadian National boxcars. Steel wheels began to screech and howl, and the locomotive screamed even louder with yet another roar. Nearby, two men suddenly emerged from a thicket, each carrying small caliber rifles and dressed in khaki with hunter's orange vests and matching knit caps.
"Hunters," Gus said with a smile, "they must have shot the bird. Well, so much for your loaded finger," he said, turning back to the stranger.
To his surprise, the old man disappeared without a trace. Crippled by arthritis and quite obese, Gus wondered how he could have moved away so quickly. He scanned the desolate landscape, but the stranger vanished.
Gus looked at the locomotive again. A blue caboose followed the train until it disappeared. A semitrailer rig rolled past, through a "No Trespassing" gate, towards a blue hillock of road salt. Across the wide stretch of the Maumee River, billowing clouds of steam pumped out of the stacks of Riverside Mercy Hospital. there was no sign of the old man. Gus stared down at the dead bird. He squatted and picked it up. The creature was still pliable with the last vestiges of life, and he stroked the jet black, glossy feathers. Gus couldn't find any wounds on the bird as he flipped it around in his hands.
He dropped it, and stood up. A strong fragrance of the odd cologne was still on gis glove. Who was he? Gus couldn't understand how the old man knew about his wish for death. He never mentioned it to anyone.
Gus was shaking; he needed to bum a drink from someone. The stranger did not proclaim to be a supernatural entity and he did not try to claim Gus's soul. He called himself a wish-granter.
"What the hell," Gus said as he thought about it, "if what he said was true, then all my troubles will end forever in seven days."
He laughed about the incident and shrugged his shoulders.
"So be it," he said, looking up at the I-280 bridge.
"Old man," Gus shouted, "you've got a deal."
End of Chapter Two
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"What can I say? Hmmmm be constructive. Yes, best thing for you to do is do the world a favor and don't give up the daytime job!" -- Melissa, portland, OREGON, US.
"I found the adjectives quite rich in detail, and a very interesting story plot developing here. With regard to "Melissa's" deroggatory comment, she would NEVER make it as a literary critic (inexperienced beginner)." -- Valerie, Mackinaw City, Michigan, USA.
"Would you please add another chapter? I want to know how this story will end! It's not bad and I agree with val, but i think melissa has a hard-on for you, sir, so watch out." -- Lawrence Putnam, Phoenix, Az, United States.
"hey I gots experience so dont make funa me and jeep your day jobs!" -- Melissa, portland, OREGON, US.
"Your writing style is very much like your son's, who correct me if I'm wrong has work posted on here too? MBJ" -- Mary Beth, Holland, OH.
"Great Story" -- Carol Healy, Australia.
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© 2002 Drakeman Robert Kincaide
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