Saturday, October 24, 2015


It’s that time of year again, when all the ghosts, ghouls, and monsters come out to play.

Some come out to Trick or Treat; others come out to take your sweets.

Some come out to have a fun day; others come out to steal you away.

Some come out to change their appearance; others come out to run interference.


Halloween is the time of year to get silly, to get scared, or to scare, and to get creative. When I was a child running from house to house on Halloween night (back in the Dark Ages) I never even had a costume to wear. I would just grab my pillow case and go, and when I got home afterward, I would count how many apples I had… Ewwww, apples, I know, I know. 

As the years went by, people got a little more caring and started to make Halloween more fun for the kids. Houses got scarier, Jack ‘o Lanterns were carved with artistry, and people bought an assortment of candy to give out. Of course, by that time I was too old for Halloween, so I’d end up sneaking a candy or two after my siblings would go to sleep. (Shhhh, don’t tell.)

When my son got old enough to go Trick or Treating, he wasn’t really into candy, so we would just go for a walk around the block to see how the neighborhood was decorated. Sure, he would stop at a few houses, but he was never really into it.  He never went every year and now, at 15, he’d rather stay home and watch a scary movie. It’s what we’d all rather do. I still decorate my house with a few scary pieces of d├ęcor, and we still carve a pumpkin, but the thing I enjoy most is making (and eating) this:

Here’s what you need:

Your fudge recipe, or if you don’t have one, just use the recipe found on a can of Fry’s brand cocoa. Follow the instructions on the can. This will be your base, or your subsoil.

I usually make the fudge in the afternoon, so that it is thoroughly cooled for decorating later that evening.

While that’s cooling, make a trip to the store for the rest of the ingredients.

Use chocolate frosting to cover the fudge, that’s your mud. Then sprinkle it with Oreo cookie crumbs, that’s your dirt.

Use blobs of Cool Whip for the ghosts and give him Chocolate Chip eyes.

Use Crispy Crunch bars to make headstones, and use a couple of Mr. Big bars, cut in slices, for the pathway going through the cemetery.

Icing can be used to write on the headstones and candy pumpkins can be bought at any grocery store in the bulk food isle.  

Good luck, folks, and, most importantly, have fun.


Thursday, October 15, 2015


Rose and Denise were busy cleaning up after the Thanksgiving Day weekend when Jessie came in with coffee and doughnuts.

“Good morning girls, isn’t it a lovely day?” Jessie beamed.

“Oh, hey, girl, what’s got you glowing this early in the morning? Did Eli stay over again last night? Maybe gave you a little something this morning?”  Denise did a “Jack Tripper” and Rose roared with laughter.

“Ha, ha, very funny, Dee. Well, he did stay over, but he left early this morning.” Jessie put the coffee and doughnuts on the counter and they all dug in.

“Mmm, sour doughnut, my favorite,” Rose said as she raised it to her mouth.

“Oh my god, the coffee is delicious. Rodrigo must have made it,” Denise surmised.

“Yes, you’re right; Mario is gone back home, something about a new baby in the family.”

“Those people, they’ll use any excuse to party,” Denise said, chuckling. Rose and Jessie giggled. It did seem like Mario was always gone away because of some family thing, leaving Rodrigo alone to run the Coffee Culture.

“So, what are we doing today?” Jessie said, as she finished her kruller.

Denise started to tell her about the work she and Rose had done so far, but Randall came in shouting hullabaloo. He rushed in with flowers and gave them to Jessie, “Congratulations, Jess, Eli is a great guy, he’ll be a great roommate.” Then he walked over and gave Denise a kiss, and left to unload the delivery.

“What! Excuse me! What was that?” Denise was stunned. “Jess, you’ve only known the guy four months and you’ve asked him to move in with you? Don’t you think that’s going too fast?  I mean Randall and I have been going steady for a lot longer and we don’t even talk about living together. Are you sure, I mean are you really sure it’s the right thing to do?”

Rose was flabbergasted. She couldn’t believe that Denise was chewing her out like that. Jessie was quiet for a moment. She drank the last sip of coffee in her cup and looked up at Denise and Rose.

“You two are like my sisters, my true friends. We have been through thick and thin and I love you both. And you’re right, Denise, it’s too fast, but something just feels so right. I feel so comfortable around him, like I’ve known him all my life. He’s turned out to be someone I can rely on, someone who respects me, and someone who sticks up for me. I love being around him and I can be myself with him, and he is just himself with me, there’s no act, no false face that people usually put on when they first start dating. It’s like we weren’t even dating, it’s more like we’re an old married couple, just content to be together. So, ya know, I’m not expecting anything from him or this relationship. All I know that right now, it’s good, and I’d rather see where it goes than to let it be. I mean, come on girls, we’re not getting any younger here.”

The room was quiet as Rose and Denise contemplated what Jessie had said. Jessie was a smart woman and she had learned and had grown up a lot since her last broken relationship, and Denise and Rose knew it.

“Well, I guess there’s nothing left to say, except, when’s the Housewarming Party!” They all laughed at that in a group hug. You didn’t have to be blood related to be family in this group.

Randall finished unloading the order and the girls got ready for Halloween. It was a busy day with customers, phone orders, and a funeral, but they managed to get the Halloween decorations up and stock the fridge with the fresh flowers. The Little Shop of Flowers had grown quite a bit since Jessie had first opened its doors under her management, and the regular customers stayed loyal. They had loved Charlie, he was a kind and gentle soul, and they knew how he felt about Jessie, and when he passed and left her everything, they were happy for her, so they remained, they did not want to see the shop close, for it had been there a very long time.

It was almost closing and Randall had already picked up Denise. Rose was waiting for Alex; they were going to see Mazerunner at Orion Gate. Jessie finished up the paperwork and Rose was heading to the front door to lock it. As she was turning the OPEN sign to CLOSE, she screamed. Jessie caught a fright and as she was getting up, tripped and fell to the floor. She jumped up and ran to the door. A familiar face was flattened against the glass. And then crazy, hysterical laughter came from behind the glass. Rose and Jessie blurted out in unison, “Phil, you crazy bastard!”

Rose opened the door and punched him in the arm. “You scared the crap outta me, you damn fool!” She was laughing heartily. Jessie wrapped her arms around her brother and gave him a big bear hug. “Where the heck did you come from?”

Phil was still laughing at the girls. “I just got off the plane. I’m heading to Calgary. A buddy of mine got me a job in the fire restoration business. Anyhow, I thought I’d stop in for a few days and see how you’re doing, sis, catch up, have a few beers.”

“Well, come on in. We were just closing up.”

“And how are you doing Rose? Been a long time.”

“I’m good, and yes, it has been too long. Jeez, I haven’t seen you since the Rib N Roll last May. You sure loved those ribs!” Rose laughed remembering the good time they had at the yearly event in Gage Park. Phil always knew how to have a fun time.

Jessie motioned them inside and locked the door. When they got to the back door, Alex was waiting for Rose. Rose gave Phil and hug, “We have to get together before you go,” she said. Phil agreed.

Alex drove off with Rose, and Jessie and Phil got into her car and headed to her place. “So, how the hell have you been bro? Haven’t heard from you at all, not since last Halloween. You know, since that night, I only went back there once or twice; the place gives me the creeps now.”

“Boy, when I first went back home I thought about it a lot. I told no one what I saw. I’m too afraid people won’t believe me. I just mostly try to forget it. But, I digress. I’ve been good. I met someone and lived with her for a while, but she smoked too much weed and I had to end it. Then I met a guy at a party one night. He just came from Calgary and he was working with my buddy, Bobby. So, the guy gave me his number and so I called him. We got into a big conversation over the phone and by the time we were done, I had a new job.”

Jessie was happy for Phil. Not only was he going to make a new start, but when he got settled, she could visit; she always wanted to visit the West Edmonton Mall; funny how things work out.

Jessie told Phil about Eli and Phil seemed a little nervous; he didn’t want to feel like a third wheel. Jessie told him he was being silly. She parked the car and Eli’s van was parked in the visitor’s parking lot.

“Gee, that’s funny, I thought he was moving in tomorrow morning,” Jessie said. “Come on, bro, let’s get a beer. You hungry? I’ll order us a pizza.”

“Sounds good, wings too, I haven’t eaten since this morning.” Jessie smiled, remembering how much pizza and wings they had eaten throughout the years. They walked up to the apartment arm in arm, chatting and laughing.

When they got into the apartment, Eli had a few boxes piled up in the kitchen. Phil threw his bag on the floor and went to the fridge for a beer. Eli came out of the room and gave Jessie a hug and kiss. Jessie put her purse down and began to introduce him to her brother.

“Eli, I want you to meet my brother, Phil.”

Phil turned around. The beer he was chugging suddenly tasted like moldy barley in his mouth and he choked, spewing froth all over the kitchen floor.

Jessie chuckled and went down the hallway to fetch some paper towels. When she got back Phil and Eli were looking straight into each other’s eyes as if in a trance.

“Hey, what’s wrong with you two?”

And as quick as that, it was nothing. Eli moved toward Phil with an outstretched hand and Phil shook it. “Nice to meet you, Phil.”

Phil shook his head, trying to focus. “Yah, nice to meet you, too. Sorry, I must be a little tired from my trip.” He took the paper towels from Jessie and helped her to clean up the mess.

While Jessie got the bed in the guest room ready, Phil and Eli sat around the table getting acquainted. Phil could not help feel that he had seen Eli somewhere before. Eli’s eyes were the kind that you looked into once and didn’t forget. As the night went on, Phil became obsessed with the feeling, but did not let them see. The pizza and wings arrived, and shortly after they ate and Jessie had cleaned up, Phil retired to the bedroom. He was exhausted, but the feeling that he knew Eli remained, and in the wee hours of the morning he saw Eli in a dream. And under the covers, his fingers flicked at an imaginary lighter in the darkness.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


I woke up early this morning after having a terrible dream where I was being attacked by a big, red-headed girl with eye-brow tweezers; she was trying to pluck my eyeballs out. The dream was so real that I ended up getting up out of bed to check my eyes in the bathroom mirror. Fortunately, they were both still in their sockets. I peed then went back to bed. But I couldn’t get back to sleep. I looked at the clock: 3:45. I turned over. I tossed and turned for about another half an hour, then got pissed off and got up, trying not to wake my partner since he had to get up for work. I decided a walk would be nice, especially this time of day when it’s quieter. I looked at Lady—I always take her, for protection—but she’s just getting too old for longer walks. Her hips are not what they used to be. So I went out the door and to the car.

I drove up to White Spruce Trail Park. I don’t really know why I drove there. I just ended up there without thinking. It’s not a very long trail and the area is just a small grove of woods with a gully here and a ravine there. I parked the car and got out. All was quiet. There were no other cars. It was just before daylight, when everything is gray.

I didn’t follow the trail going to the tennis court and leash-free dog park. Instead, I crossed the field to another trail hidden among the tall trees. As I was nearing the end of the field I heard voices. I turned around and saw two cops on bikes heading up the road. I ran to the woods and hoped that they didn’t see me.

A low mist filled the woods, but I was able to see. I took some deep breaths and enveloped myself in the healing properties of Mother Nature. Robins started to sing and squirrels rustled in the trees. The images of the dream faded away and I began to feel relaxed, endorphins began to rush my body.

I strolled along the trail, looking for racoons and possibly a deer. Along one part of the trail, in the gully to the right, I saw something move. Being the curious person that I am, I moved in closer and saw a giant crane. It was just standing there on one leg. What a beauty! I wished that I had brought my camera. I moved on and came to the dog park, but I didn’t go in, I walked along the trail outside of the fence. I could see more clearly now and the mist was almost gone. I came upon the tennis court and spotted the cops’ bikes. I stopped. I have no regard for cops. In my opinion, they are…well, that’s not needed here. I got down and hid in the brush and waited. I listened and waited. I spied, I listened, and I waited. After a few minutes, I got impatient and was going to go back the way I came, but a crackling in the woods behind the tennis court made me stop. I got down again and watched and waited. The cops trudged out of the woods and stopped by their bikes. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but after a few minutes, they got on their bikes and left. I waited some more. After I was pretty sure that they were gone, I walked over to the part of the woods they came out of. I was in luck, a muddy trail. Fall is a great time of year for tracking. I followed the tracks. I had been to this park before, but I had never been to this part of the woods.

As I walked along the side of the trail, being careful not to leave visible footprints behind, I speculated why they would have gone in there. The first thing that came to me was of course, they’re gay and they were getting some. Then, I thought, drugs. Then, I thought, maybe stolen merchandise. It was fun playing detective. It was still a little misty and I wasn’t paying attention to the trail and the next thing I knew I was falling.

When I came to I felt cold and wet. My head ached. I placed my hands on the ground and pushed myself up. I was a little dizzy, but held my footing. It was full daylight now. I could hear a light flow of traffic on the road. Saturday had begun. I touched my head where the pain was and looked at my hand. No blood, but a big bump. No other pain, so I guess I was okay. I had fallen into quite a steep ravine. My back side was wet, but not soaked. Leaves had already fallen from the trees and had made a bed for me. I looked around at the top of the ravine, trying to figure out where I had fallen from. I did a 360. I had fallen into a crater full of deadfall and leaves.

I took a moment. I looked around again doing a circle. I sighed. I should have stayed in bed, I thought. I finally picked a place that had the most vines and rocks and started to climb. The dirt under the leaves was like oil. Every time I placed my foot to try and hoist myself up, I slipped. There was not much to hold on to. I spotted a rock here and there and tried to step on that, but the rock would just slide down the side of the ravine and I would end up in the pit again. I tried every side of the wall and could not get up. At one point, I thought I was going to make it. I grabbed a vine, but when I pulled, it ended up coming out of the ground. I lost my footing and down I went, landing on my back again. This is crazy, I thought. I felt like I was in a movie. The Twilight Zone or, The Outer Limits.

I got back up and sat on a fallen tree. It was still a little misty and damp in the crater and I spotted a few squirrels on the rim of the hole looking down at me. Well, it seemed like they were looking down at me. I felt strange. I was dirty, I was thirsty, tired, and my stomach was growling. How the heck am I going to get out of here? I thought. I didn’t bring my phone, I didn’t bring any water. Then I remembered something. I checked my pockets, my keys were missing. What else could go wrong? I rested my face in my hands and sighed. I just sat there with my face in my hands and tried to calm myself down by taking deep breaths. After a while, I felt my face get wet, and when I took my hands away from my face I became aware of my hands. They were filthy with what I thought was mud. I fanned my fingers and really looked at what was on my hands. It looked like blood. I can’t describe the fear that suddenly arose within me.

I stood up and it was all over me; blood, red blood…all over my hands, all over my clothes, all over my shoes. I looked up. I saw blood on the leaves, on the rocks and vines that I had touched. It was everywhere. The whole crater was covered in blood. I lost control. I ran to the wall of the crater and I dug into the dirt, into the blood, trying to get a footing to get out of the trap. Trap! That’s what it was, a trap! I stepped back away from the wall and looked up at the rim.  More squirrels had gathered. I looked up at the sky, the branches of the trees, and the leaves. Then I saw something that I hadn’t seen before. The leaves on the trees were mostly green, but the crater was covered in orange, red, and yellow leaves. I picked up a red leaf and examined it. It wasn’t real. It was like plastic paper mache. I screamed, “What the hell is going on here!?”

I shouldn’t have done that. The moment I screamed I felt tremors under my feet. The ground was shaking; the fake leaves began to move. Something was coming to life. Something was coming for me! I ran to the wall, digging and crawling, and screaming! Then I felt it, I felt its shape, its shadow reigning down on me. It was big, it’s breath smelled like a thousand years of death. I stopped, I didn’t want to move, but it was compelling me to turn, to turn and look into its evil eyes. I fought with all my might, with all my soul, I prayed to God, don’t let me look! But there was no reprieve. No one was going to save me. I turned and faced my demise.

When I woke up I was in a ball of sweat. I looked at the clock: 4:30. I turned around, cuddled up to my partner, and went back to sleep.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Jacob Kendall, Age 9

IT WAS 1487 in the small village of Bridgetown. It was just like it was a year ago in the leafy, green, damp forest. It was dark and gloomy.

Suddenly, something went “SWOOSH!” It was Tom, a loving red-headed eleven year old boy, busting through the brush. He was finally able to go to the old bridge that crackled loudly when you walked on it. No child under ten was allowed on the bridge. As he walked up to the bridge, he spotted a sign on a tree that said “Beware of Troll.”

“Master Tom!” shouted somebody behind him. Tom turned around quickly.  It was his maid, Suzy. “The mistress wants you home now for supper.” 

“Can I grab a rock?” Tom asked Suzy. 

 “Yes, Master Tom.”

 He picked up the nearest rock. When he got home, he put the rock on his small table of rocks, ate supper, and then went to bed.

The next day at noon, Suzy started to dust, for extra coins from Mr. and Mrs. Handball, for her pay. The family had a pet mouse name Kim and a pet cat named Gilbert, so there was always lots of dust and hair. As she was dusting the stone, some smoke came out and Suzy fainted. The smoke went throughout the house and Tom and Suzy went into a deep sleep.

Early the next morning, Kim whacked Tom in the arm until he woke up from his deep sleep, and Gilbert pounced on Suzy until she woke up from her deep sleep. Suzy told Tom what happened; Tom was not mad, he blamed himself for bringing the rock home.

When they both went downstairs there were two statues in Tom’s parents’ place. Both Tom and Suzy screamed very loud. They both went outside and what they saw was incredible. The whole town was full of statues. They both ran like the speed of wind around the whole town. Everywhere they looked all they saw were statues. It was very creepy.

Tom knew what he had to do. He had to find Miss Kiwi. Miss Kiwi was a very knowledgeable elder who lived in the middle of the Dark Forest. So Tom and Suzy talked it over and decided to go find her. They packed bread, water, warm blankets, and a few coins. They packed light, but packed enough for a few days' trek. It was going to be very difficult to find her house in the damp, dark, scary woods, especially for Tom since he had never been in that part of the woods.  Suzy picked berries in it every other day. She knew the area well, but she had never seen Miss Kiwi’s house.

They walked to the edge of town and over the bridge. It creaked as they walked over it, and they heard whispers, but that was all. They walked for miles through thick brush and wet marshes. The trees were tall and willowy, and they creaked and cracked as the cold wind blew. It was getting dark and they had to make camp soon. All the while they walked they could feel eyes on them. It was as if there were shadows with eyes everywhere. They came to a clearing and set up camp. They had gathered just enough firewood for the night before the sun went down and it got completely dark. A fire was made and they ate bread with jam and drank tea while they spoke of their journey. After a while they decided they would take turns on watch. They hoped that whatever was watching them would not attack.

The next morning was warm and sunny. The sunlight’s rays swept through the forest floor. Tom had tea waiting for Suzy when she woke up. She washed up in the nearby creek. As she was bent over looking into the stream she caught a reflection in it that made her scream. On the other side of the creek was Miss Kiwi’s house. Tom ran over to see what the matter was. Suzy pointed at the house.

They ran up to the house and knocked loudly on the wooden door. Miss Kiwi answered. She was an older woman with glasses and long white hair. She was holding her cat, Sphere. Miss Kiwi was very rich, but very lonely. She invited Tom and Suzy inside for something to eat. They toasted their bread and sat at the table for some breakfast. Miss Kiwi has fresh eggs, homemade pancakes and fresh milk from her goat. It was as if she was expecting them. Suzy minded her manners but Tom ate very fast until Miss Kiwi told him, “Dear, you are going to choke if you don’t chew.” 

After breakfast they told Miss Kiwi what happened back in town. Miss Kiwi gave her Monster Book to them right away. Suzy looked up “Trolls.” It said, “Trolls are the nastiest of monsters. They have the power to curse people or small towns.  The only way to get rid of them is to…” the rest of the page was ripped out of the book. Suzy looked at Tom, and they both looked at Miss Kiwi. What were they going to do? They spoke for a while longer and Miss Kiwi advised them to leave before it got too late; crossing the bridge in the dark would be dangerous.

A few minutes later Suzy and Tom left. They did not notice that sphere was following them. It was easy going back because everything looked familiar.  When they got to the bridge they heard the troll’s scratchy voice. It was chanting, “The curse cannot be broken for I am evil,” over and over again. Tom tried to sneak up on it when Sphere meowed really loud. The troll heard it and spotted them. It started running after them. The cat ran up a tree. The troll was very hungry so he decided he was going to eat the cat. The troll started climbing the tree. At that moment, Tom saw a shiny stone fall from Sphere's mouth. He picked it up off the ground and threw it at the troll. The stone started sucking up the troll. The troll started screaming and then it started melting. Then there was a puff of smoke and then nothing. Sphere looked at them and winked, then turned around and headed home.

Suzy and Tom were amazed at what just happened. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Sphere had saved them! By the time they got home everything had returned back to normal and people were running around wondering what had happened. Suzy and Tom were relieved to find that everyone was back to normal.  When they got home Tom’s parents were sitting at the table. They did not know what happened, but they were certain that something extraordinary had occurred.

Tom and Suzy just smiled. That evening they went to bed early because they were so tired from their long journey.