Monday, January 30, 2012

The Ninth Victim part 3

It's Monday again, but here's something some of you may have actually been looking forward to. Without further introduction, the conclusion of Jessica Pherson's The Ninth Victim.

(if you missed parts 1 and 2, look here and here)

The Ninth Victim part 3
Jessica Pherson

There it was- on the table, all for her viewing and dissecting pleasure.  She let go of my hand and shot back up from being crouched on the floor. I felt her presence standing behind me as my chest heaved strongly from all the tension being released. Yet, a new sort of tension set in, one that made me uneasy and my guts twist inside. She slowly walked around from behind me until she was standing directly in front of me again, her eyes focused on mine and her lips slightly parted. There was a piercing silence in the room as I sensed she finally truly understood why I was there. It was all making sense to her now. She took it all in, analyzing it in her own way as she stood over me like a statuesque Greek goddess. She was a goddess to me. I suddenly felt as though I had finally found who could be the one, the woman for me. I never do get what I really want.

“You just wanted to what?” She asked quietly. “Kill me?” But, then she answered her own question. “You just wanted to kill me.”

I just stared up at her and let my gaze do the talking. A strange calmness came over me as my stomach stopped churning and my heartbeat slowed down again.

She suddenly let out a sound, “Humph.” She turned to look to the side, her tongue in her cheek and hands on her hips. Betty glinted at her side. Then she shook her head the way people do when they can’t believe what they’re hearing, even though they know it’s true. Strands of blond hair slipped from her ponytail as she did so. “So, what are you then?” she asked as she lifted her head to look at me. “Some kind of serial killer psychopath?”

I inhaled deeply and nodded, almost proudly. I was accepting who I was to another person for the first time. It felt good to admit it, like a release. I was a serial killer. Psychopath, though? Maybe, but not in my mind. This was all completely natural, everything up until this point anyway. Now things were a cross between a dream and a nightmare.

“Wow,” she announced as she smirked at me and nodded again. “I have a fucking serial killer psycho…in my living room.” She clapped her hands together, still gripping the knife. “Now I think I’ve really seen it all.”

“You’re the first person I’ve ever told,” I said to her.

“Well, just paint me tickled pink- did I win the lotto or something?” She quipped sarcastically. Then she laughed an evil sort of laugh. “This is too much…you just made this even easier on me now…”

“What?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.

“Why, getting rid of you, of course!” she exclaimed, actually jubilant. “No one’s going to come looking for your sorry John Wayne Gacy-looking ass!”

I was offended by the John Wayne Gacy comment, and sheepishly I looked down at my stomach. Had I really gained weight? “I fancy myself more for a Ted Bundy, I’d say,” I muttered loud enough for her to hear.

This made Christine laugh. “Your sense of humor’s better than I thought! Hysterical! Too bad Bundy didn’t have a mustache. By the way, it makes you look like a washed-up porn star from the ‘70s,” she said, as she gestured toward my face with my blade.

I shifted in the chair. I was starting to get really uncomfortable, not so much emotionally, but physically; the ropes were really starting to take their toll on my muscles. I twisted my arms about as best as I could and swiveled my hips a bit. Christine noticed and tsked. “Oh, poor baby. Are you uncomfortable? Good.

She stepped towards me then straddled me, climbing into my lap. Her ass cheeks were on my knees and her breath was in my face. She got really close again, peering right into my eyes, her hands on my shoulders, Betty’s blade just centimeters from my right ear. “How many women have you killed already?” she asked me in a hushed voice. She sounded sensual.

I paused before responding, wondering if I should answer honestly. I realized I didn’t have anything to lose as this point, so I did. “Eight.”

“So, I was supposed to be your ninth victim?” she asked in the tone of a statement.

“That’s right,” I replied quietly.

“Huh.” She seemed to ponder over this as her eyes looked to the side. “And what made you come after me?”

I sighed. “Everything, I guess.”


“Yeah, the way you look, the way you move, the way you…just are. I can’t really describe it. I was just drawn to you.”

“In a way that makes you want…to kill me?”

I shrugged as best as I could with my arms tied behind my back. “It’s what I do.”

She stuck her tongue out a bit and curled it over her top front teeth, and narrowed her eyes at me, mulling it all over. “You. Sick. Fuck.” Then she got off of me and sat back down on her sofa and crossed her arms over her chest. I felt like a boyfriend of hers who had just said something offensive right before he was about to get laid.

“Well, what about you?” I asked. “What’s your deal? You’re clearly no school teacher,” I said. Then, reconsidered. “Or are you?”

“Ha!” She said. “You’d like that wouldn’t you?”

“Seeing as it’s summer and you’re not going to a job, it’s entirely possible.” Again I attempted to shrug.

She gave me a derisive look. “Well, sorry to disappoint you.”

“So, what are you? Some kind of professional assassin or something?” I snorted.

She looked at me with her eyebrows raised, her eyes serious, a small smile on her lips.

She was an assassin. I had wanted to kill an assassin.

How badass.

“Wow, really?” was all I could say.

“Well, something like that,” she replied as she uncrossed her arms and started playing around with my knife, lightly twisting the tip of the blade into her index finger. “Too bad you’ll never really know, because no one does who isn’t supposed to. And I don’t feel like explaining it all to you just because you just poured your heart and soul out to me- or should I say heartless and soulless?”

“What? You think you’re better than me just because you get paid to kill people?” She looked surprised at my comment, so I knew I’d hit something. “So, it is true? That’s what pays for this house, huh? And all your damn dry-cleaning! And the cheesy art on the walls.” I shook my head a bit. “And you think you’re better than me? Lady, we’re in the same rank it seems, okay?”

She leaped up at that and again brought the knife to my throat, pressing her forehead against mine so our eyes were less than an inch apart. “Look, Tubby, I’m the one holding the knife right now, so I think you should can it on the slick talk, okay? I’m nothing like you and you’re nothing like me, so don’t talk to me about ranks. You came here to satisfy some sick, sadistic urge inside you that probably stems from your alcoholic daddy or your mommy beating you when she caught you jerking off. You don’t get to talk to me about you being anything near to what I am! The only rank you’re in is the one that caters to the slimebags the unlucky souls in Hell walk on!”

I stared back at her, wild-eyed and unsure of how to respond. All I could muster was, “Okay!” It’s funny, I knew I was going to die at her hands- I had to at this time –yet, when death came as close as it just had, I still reacted fearfully and wanting to keep a hold of my life. Survival was still in my instincts. It made me feel human for a moment.

She slowly loosened her grip again and pulled the knife away from me as she stepped back closer to the couch. Then she began to speak again. “I’ve done the things I’ve done because it’s what I was meant to do. Because those were the skills God gave me- to kill people quietly. To do it in a way that makes the world a better place, trust me. I didn’t take away anyone’s darling daughters or loving mothers. That’s what you did though, no doubt. I’ve killed your kind before. The ones who abuse women just for fun. Just for kicks. Just because they feel bad about themselves but are too sick and deranged to even know what to do about it, so they find pleasure in torturing and killing others. I’ve killed the men who give men the bad names they have among women. The corruptors, the greedy, the violent evil ones who think they can stop anyone who gets in their way with a gun or a knife. I do that because it’s what I was meant to do. Not to satisfy any animalistic urge as I’m sure you do.”

I regarded her for a moment, admiring her intensity. She was quite a woman. It really was a shame it had to end like this, without me getting to know her in the ways I was longing to now. Sure, I was getting to know a side of her a select few actually knew. Everyone else who saw this woman day-to-day, like the dry cleaner, the grocer, her neighbors- they had no clue who this woman really was. I didn’t know her either, but I knew more than they did, and that made me feel almost as god-like as she was. I wondered if I was beaming. I still felt I should speak my mind. “But, we are the same, you and I,” I said. “You do take pleasure…I can tell by the way you’ve handled me tonight. You enjoy it just as much as I do. You get off on it just as much as I do. The only thing that separates us is a superiority complex and a paycheck- you have both and I have neither.”

Her intensity increased as I seemed to have a struck a nerve, but it was a nerve that rang true. She knew it was true, she had to. She had been in denial for so long, and I had released her from it, as she was about to release me from mine. We were killers, and we enjoyed it.

“I won’t get paid for my last kill, though,” she said. “This last one is just for me.”

“I’m guessing it’s not Valerie or Randall,” I said.

She smiled lightly and shook her head.

I closed my eyes and bowed my head. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I was just glad it would be done with my own knife, it was fitting. I had been through so much with Betty, and surely you’d want your lover to pull the plug if you were in a coma living off life-support for years and years. I was ready to wake up, to see what was next for me, to move on. I lifted my head again and opened my eyes to look at her. She looked like a shining beacon of light as she stood over me, her golden hair glowing like the sun. Then I closed my eyes for the last time and let the quick darkness wash over me. 


Jessica Pherson is one of the Founders of The Veillee and author of her own blog, Healthy Mommy, Healthy Baby. She works from home part time for an eco-friendly jewelry company/retailer and is also a stay-at-home mom to Lily. This is her first completed short story to be published online.

Learn more about Jessica by checking out The Matchbox section of this blog! 
If you enjoyed it, please tell us in the comments! We love to hear feedback :) Also, remember we are looking for more read-worthy new work for February, so send your ballads today to

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Ninth Victim Part 2

We hope you enjoyed this week's offerings; we also equally hope you were left as intrigued as you were unsettled. This dreary Friday in New York brings you the second part of titillating short story, The Ninth Victim. When we last left off, our killer had just entered the home of his targeted victim, where the tables have suddenly been turned and he finds himself tied to a chair with his unlikely attacker.To catch up on or read the first part, click here.

Otherwise, enjoy, and please comment and let us know what you think! Keep in kind, we are still looking for submissions for February! Send in your poems, stories, scripts, soliquies, whatever you got! Send them to and see them posted here on The Veillee!

The Ninth Victim part 2
Jessica Pherson 

I felt beads of sweat breaking out on my forehead. Something about her tone made me think that perhaps she hadn’t called the police. But, then what was she planning to do with me? Did she have a husband or lover after all and she wanted him to do away with me instead as revenge for my invading their home with murder on the mind?

Christine shifted in her seat so that she was leaning in closer with her elbows on her knees and hands outstretched in front of her, holding the red mug. She narrowed her eyes at me, trying to figure me out. “Well, let’s not beat around the bush- who sent you?” Her tone went from casual and friendly to sharp and demanding in that single sentence.

I was taken aback by the question and I just stared at her, more confused than ever. What did she think? That someone sent me? Why would she think that? My mind was reeling. I felt  like a mouse trapped in a maze searching for the escape.

“Well?” she said, loudly. “Who sent you?” The volume of her voice was surprising.
I started to open my mouth to say something, but I couldn’t. I can’t explain why, I just had no words and was unsure of how to respond on top of that. Perhaps if she thought someone sent me she had something to hide as well. I was intrigued. I decided to play dumb for a while. I clamped my hanging jaw back shut and exhaled heavily.

“What? Cat got your tongue?” She asked smugly as she chucked her chin in jest at her cat sitting on the arm of the sofa, as if they were partners in on this joke together. I still said nothing, and even went so far as to look away. Her eyes narrowed like little arrowheads in her eye sockets.  “Fine,” she said. She stood up sharply and stood over me, still holding her mug. She regarded me for a moment as I looked up at her, breathing heavily again in fear of what she might do, then she tossed her steaming hot drink into my face. I cried out in pain and clamped my eyes shut from the burning. It had been tea apparently. Green tea. I groaned and clenched my teeth. 

“Who sent you?!” She demanded again, getting louder and firmer, less playful now. I just groaned and grimaced and struggled with the ropes. It did nothing. I was in there tighter than a boa’s prey. I tried to kick my feet and they moved less than an inch.

“You’re not going anywhere until you tell me who fucking sent you!” She nearly screamed. Then she kicked my shin, hard. I cried out again, unable to do anything about the throbbing pain shooting up my leg or the stinging of my eyes. I figured I had better say something. 

“No one sent me!” I snapped.

She said nothing for a moment, and just stood over me quietly. Then she said, “I have more hot water, you know. And your knife.”

I shuddered inside at the coldness of her tone, yet I also felt strangely aroused. Who was this woman? “No one sent me,” I repeated, slowly, trying to sound as truthful and serious as possible. 

“Liar!” She yelled.

Then she was on top of me with Betty at my throat. I felt the cool blade against the delicate skin of my neck as she held it firmly against my neck. I could not get away from it. All I could do was declare my innocence about who she seemed to think I was, although innocent I was anything but. “No one sent me, nobody!”

“Who was it?” She went on. “Was it the Agency? Did Randall send you?”


“Was it Valerie? It was Valerie, that bitch…” She gritted her teeth and snarled like a tigress turning the tables on the hunter.

“No, no.”

She looked down at me in disgust without moving the knife or loosening her grip. “Well, you don’t look like the type the government would send after me, so tell me, dammit! Who sent you?”

“No one sent me!” I yelled as loud as I could, which wasn’t very loud. But, it seemed to be effective since she stopped asking me and just stared into my eyes, trying to gauge whether or not I was telling the truth. She pressed the knife roughly against my neck and I felt it slide into my flesh a little. Then she was off of me and back to standing over me. I could feel a trickle of blood drip down my neck, but she hadn’t cut me deep. I exhaled like my breath was being sucked out of me. My heart beat in my chest like a drum and the blood rushed back to my head as if it had only evacuated temporarily to escape this crazed woman. I breathed heavily, like a fat man on a treadmill, and again began to struggle with the ropes out of instinct, although I knew it was futile.

She stood over me, silently for a moment, holding the handle of the knife loosely, showing me she saw me as no threat. “If no one sent you,” she then began, “then why are you here?” 

I stared up at her, not sure of what to say. Betty’s blade flashed me in my eyes as Christine turned her wrist gently. The neckline of the over-sized T-shirt she was wearing had slipped down, revealing her bare lightly bronzed left shoulder.

“I…I…came to rob you,” I muttered.

To rob me?” she replied. She didn’t sound like she believed me.

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “But, I’m very sorry, and, if you let me go, I will leave and never come back.”

“Well, how nice of you,” she said, smirking.

I looked at her hopefully, but what a false hope it was. Clearly I had chosen the wrong woman to slice up that night.

“I-I shouldn’t have broken into your house, ma’am, and I am very sorry, and I have learned my lesson. I never did this before, but I’m down on my luck as so many of us are right now…and you have such a nice home. But, but that doesn’t mean I should rob you, so I’ll just be on my way…”

“What makes you think I haven’t called the police?” Christine asked, crossing her arms over her chest like a precocious little girl.

“Well, I don’t know that, ma’am, but I think that if you had, they would’ve been here by now, seeing as I must have been tied up for quite some time now.”

“And how do you know that?”

“How do I know what?”

“That you’ve been tied up for ‘quite some time’. What makes you say that?”

“Well, it just feels that way, judging by how bad I feel and how you were asking me if…” My voice trailed off, as I suddenly realized what she was actually asking me.

“Asking you if what?” She said.

“If I was…sent by someone.”

“And you say you weren’t, right?”


“You came here to rob me, as you said.”

“Th-that’s right.” The beads started pouring down my cheeks again.

“But, then I asked you who sent you, which means, maybe I’m not just some random woman you’ve been staking out for weeks- ten weeks and five days to be exact –maybe I’m more than that, hmm?”

I felt the color drain from my face. She had known I’d been stalking her? How?

She smiled again, reading my face like an open book. “That’s right, buddy-boy. I knew you were coming. I’ve been waiting for you. I’ve got a memory for faces like a hooker has for her johns.  I first saw you at the book store on highway 97 and you followed me home with the carefulness of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but you didn’t consider this one thing- the only one who can detect a wolf in sheep’s clothing is a wolf herself.”

She started to pace a bit, not taking her eyes off of me. “Now, the thing is, I wonder,” she said, pausing to lightly touch the tip of my knife’s blade to her lower lip and roll her eyes up toward the ceiling. “Would someone who simply wanted to ‘rob’ me stake me out for so long? It seems a bit ridiculous to me. I mean, I’m not rich, now am I? Judging by my home, I clearly have money, but I’m not rich enough for you to take such a long time to come after me, right? What do you think?”

I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.

“I mean, I’m not in the burglar biz or anything, so maybe you all have some type of protocol that I may not be aware of, but I do know a thing or two about stalking people, and normally if I want to make sure I get someone, I stalk them for a fairly long time- a few weeks or a month at least. And then I would prep up with certain items, like things to pick a lock with and some rope in case the person I was robbing happened to wake up and a knife is a good idea to defend myself with in case I should need to do that…” Her voice trailed off as she fiddled with Betty for a moment, drawing attention to the fact that I fit the bill for the type of person she was describing. Then she continued, “But, a plastic sheet? Chloroform? Hmm…that’s a bit more professional I think, and for some reason, you don’t strike me as a professional robber. No, no. Something about you is…a tad bit more sinister than that.”

She leaned in closely to my face. I could feel her breath on me; it was warm and had the faint aroma of honey on it. Her eyes were even deeper and more beautiful up close and I was truly regretting everything I was now missing out on because of my carelessness in choosing a victim that did not fit my normal MO. What was there left for me to do now? Christine was no ordinary woman- if Christine was even her real name. I felt she was going to kill me no matter what I did or said, so I decided to take this as a sign from God that my number was up, and I could confess my sins to this demonic angel or deny it until my death that would likely be much slower if I continued to evade her questions. Either way I was going to die, and this did seem like the fitting way for me to go- at the hands of a woman, a woman who could’ve been my trophy, rather than the other way around.

I gulped a big gulp of air and saliva, taking it all in as if it would be my last time doing so. Then I looked her right in the eyes and said, “Christine, I came here to kill you, because that’s what I do.”

She just stared at me for a moment, then rolled her eyes. “Okay, we’ve already established that, so now tell me who you’re working for!” She grasped my throat with one hand while holding my legs down with the other and stared straight into my eyes with the look of some type of wild and demonic creature. She had a strong grip. I gasped for air and she let me go, but not before socking me across the face.

“Tell me, now! Who are you? Who sent you? And how do you want to die? Because tonight is certainly going to be your last…”

I coughed and heaved and felt an erection throbbing in my pants. I never knew I could get so turned on by someone torturing me, as I have always been the torturer. Christine must’ve noticed, because she started to laugh.

“Ha! You like being beaten by a woman, do you? Well, we could do this all night…” She said smirking and cracking her knuckles. I was starting to think I might be dreaming; I had been so careful. How could she have known I was following her? Who was this woman? This woman who I was so desperate to have under my knife’s blade, to have her bound and gagged and ready for me to do with as I pleased…I found myself admiring her, how she stood over me with such confidence, the way she spoke was so carefree, so uncaring that a man had come her to kill her, probably rape her too depending on how things went. Here she stood, in her over-sized T-shirt and cut-off cotton shorts and little pink slippers. She knew she had me and that there was no way I was going to escape. What choice did I have but to simply tell her the truth? Or better yet, make up a complete and total lie? Which action was more likely to establish my freedom, if either would? I thought quickly…

“You’re right,” I mumbled, hanging my head in shame. “Someone did send me.”

Christine leaned in close to me, putting her hands on my knees. “Who?”

“Someone who wants you dead…because you’ve wronged them.”

Christine looked at me peculiarly. “Could you be a little more informative? Like, by giving me a goddamn name!”

I gulped. A name…a name? Shit. “I-I can’t tell you.”

“Why? Because they’ll kill you? I’ll be doing that anyway, so you may as well fess up.”

“Worse than that,” I went on, just saying whatever words came to mind. “They…have my family.”

“Funny,” she said, eyeballing me. “You don’t seem like the family type.”

“Well I have a wife and two kids!” I exclaimed. The truth was, I did. But, they weren’t being held hostage anywhere. “And he said he’d kill ‘em if I told you who sent me. So, you may as well do me in or…”


“Or, we could work something out. Like…a type of deal. I could tell him I killed you and he’d stop coming after you, and then we’d both be free.”

“You mean to say,” she said after considering my words carefully. “If I let you go, you’ll go to whoever it is who hired you to kill me, and tell them you went ahead and did it- even thought you didn’t, and you won’t– in exchange for my letting you go?”

“That’s right!” I said as seriously and coolly as I could.

“Hmmm,” she said looking up with her eyes and puckering her lips. God, she was sexy. “Sounds like it just might work…only, what if he wants to see a body?”

My heart sank. Duh, I thought. “Uh, well, he just trusts me so much I know he won’t ask, and you can relocate if you have to, that way we’ll never find you.”

She looked at me, her eyes narrowing again, obviously thinking about all this. Then she said, “It was Bill who sent you, wasn’t it?”

Bill? Should I go along with it? Why not? Unless it was a trap. I considered it for a moment, but she appeared to be genuinely asking. Bill was a common name after all, I could work with it somehow. I decided to pretend like I didn’t want her to know she had guessed right, then to play it from there. I tried to look equally surprised and confused, then replied, “Bill? Who? No, it wasn’t Bill, I really can’t tell you, ma’am.”

“C’mon,” she said digging her grip into my kneecap. It really hurt. “It was Bill, wasn’t it? Only he’s foolish enough to send such a sad sack of an assassin to get me. He really underestimates me all the time, which is why I don’t work with him anymore. He’s also jealous about me not wanting to be with him.” She rolled her eyes. “He’s just not my type, you see. Too cocky, in all the wrong ways, if you know what I mean.” She smiled.

“Ma’am, I’m sorry I really don’t- OW!” She dug some very sharp fingernails into the tendons behind my knees. “Okay!” I cried, as if giving up. “It was Bill, it was Bill! But, I’ll handle it and he’ll leave you alone, I promise!”

She released her grip on my poor knee after one final squeeze then stepped back from me. “I knew it,” she said proudly. “He never could get over losing what he could never have anyway.” Then she said, “Okay, let’s do it.”

My eyes popped out of my head, I couldn’t believe my relief. “Really? I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? This way, we both win and he’ll just leave you alone.”

“Yes, it really does, I mean…Bill’s an idiot anyway, and he’ll probably just take your word for it, like you said.”

“Yes!” I couldn’t believe my luck, even though a little voice inside my head was sounding a very small alarm that my feeling of relief just couldn’t focus on at the moment.

“Yes, as long as you promise to leave and never return and tell Bill I’m a goner and he doesn’t have to worry about me anymore.” She pointed a long slender finger in my face.

“Yes, of course! That’s the deal.” I tried to calm down so I didn’t sound like such a goon and more like a professional, since that’s what she seemed to think I was.

“Okay, let me untie you.” She got behind me and started working the ropes on my wrists. I started to breathe normally again, although my heart still raced. Was I really getting out of here alive? Furthermore, was I still going to try and kill her anyway? Because I was greatly considering it. Even though I was all amped up from terror, it is a fine line between horrified fear and ecstatic arousal. I tried to think quickly as she started to free my hands. Should I kick her in the face while she untied my feet? Or should I go straight for the throat once my hands were free? She would probably be expecting something like that, so a swift kick to the-

All of a sudden I was feeling shooting pains in my right hand. I screamed in agony seemingly out of nowhere and tried to kick legs in the chair. She had broken my middle finger.

“What kind of idiot do you take me for?” She demanded.

“Wha-what?” I panted.

“There is no Bill!” She said. “I made it up, and you took it hook, line, and sinker. You are clearly too dumb to be a pro! Who the fuck are you, why are you in my house, why have you been following me, and why are you here to kill me?”

“Because I just want to, okay?” I yelped.

End of Part2

(Check back Monday for Part 3!)

Jessica Pherson is one of the Founders of The Veillee and author of her own blog, Healthy Mommy, Healthy Baby. She works from home part time for an eco-friendly jewelry company/retailer and is also a stay-at-home mom to Lily.

Learn more about Jessica by checking out The Matchbox section of this blog! 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


So, Robert Burns is one of my favorite Romantic poets. Reasons? 1.) He was Scottish, and proud of it! 2.) He was a down-to-earth farm boy, unlike so many of his lordly contemporaries, and saw beauty in life's humble things. 

In honor of his birthday, I'm posting this poem/song -- one of my favorites -- which happens to share a name with my good friend, Jess!

M'Pherson's Farewell
By Robert Burns

Farewell, ye dungeons dark and strong,
The wretch's destinie!
M'Pherson's time will not be long
On yonder gallows-tree.

Chorus.-Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,
Sae dauntingly gaed he;
He play'd a spring, and danc'd it round,
Below the gallows-tree.

O, what is death but parting breath?
On many a bloody plain
I've dared his face, and in this place
I scorn him yet again!
Sae rantingly, &c.

Untie these bands from off my hands,
And bring me to my sword;
And there's no a man in all Scotland
But I'll brave him at a word.
Sae rantingly, &c.

I've liv'd a life of sturt and strife;
I die by treacherie:
It burns my heart I must depart,
And not avenged be.
Sae rantingly, &c.

Now farewell light, thou sunshine bright,
And all beneath the sky!
May coward shame distain his name,
The wretch that dares not die!
Sae rantingly, &c.

(Click here if you'd like help with those crazy Scottish words, or if you'd like to read more of Burns' work.)

Some Poe-etry (Continued)

Good morning, Veillee readers! Today we bring you a lovely pair of Poe-inspired poems to compliment this mid-winter Wednesday.


By Jessica Ray

The clock on the wall keeps ticking, ticking,
And with each beat it is slowly picking
Away at my dark soul.
For it knows when my time has come,
That I shall return to where I came from --
The ugly, cold dirt.
Then no longer will I hurt.
But the clock on the wall keeps ticking.

By Francie Hemmings

Bury me,
In the weight of you,
In folds of cotton and feathers.
Bury me low in the curls from your head
And whisper things only we know.

Bury me.
On a hill of green,
Near a brook, and a tree full of dew.
Bury me down, my forehead to yours,
In a pine box made for two.

Bury me.
Tightly and firmly
So the sea in your heart
Does not toss me out
When that change in your glance stays for good.

Bury me,
And all of me,
Every last inch of my soul.
Bury me
So I may never see
Your hand in the hand of another.

Bury me.
Bury me deep where no one shall find me,
Not Desire nor Love nor Affection.
Bury me standing in the walls of a crypt
Where the bones of those passed will remind me –

Some things, at least, do last.

Bury me.
In Hades’ dark lair
Where sunshine may never enter.
Where even he, and his flowery queen,
Will look on my face and have pity.

Bury me,
And all of me,
Every last inch of my soul.
Bury me
So I may never see
Your hand in the hand of another.

Jessica Ray is currently based in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she loves to cook with her daughter, spend time with her husband, and visit Starbucks far too regularly. 

Francie Hemmings is a student of Creative Writing at Brooklyn College and likes to Jazzercise in her spare time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Apprentice

We hope you all enjoyed your weekend! Now, in continuation of our collection of Edgar Allan Poe tributes, we bring you a tale that takes us inside the mind of a disgruntled transit worker, ready for retirement, but not before he takes care of a few things first. Ladies and gentlemen, here is the debut work of fiction from The Veillee's very own Em! Enjoy...

The Apprentice
By Emerald Nash

It started with the economic downturn, this mass hiring of young people. The stock market plummeted, the vice tightened on the middle class, and suddenly even college shoo-ins flocked to the Police Force, the Army, various construction jobs, and of course, us.
     Hell, even college graduates found us. Their fancy degrees, useless in the stagnate economy, were expensive, unpaid for, and still accruing interest.
     I would’ve felt bad for the sorry lot, except you can bet if I’d had the chance to go to college, I’da gone to be a doctor or a lawyer or something useful. None of this filmmaker/fashion-designer nonsense kids waste their money on these days.
     Now don’t get me wrong. The Transit Authority’s no stranger to young people. Way it used to be, once in a while they’d onboard a handful of green boys, or maybe even a young lady or two – usually single girls with babies at home. Always tugged at your heart to see that. The difference is: back then, the kids joining our team were here to work, to make a life. They had families to support. Couldn’t afford to keep running to the next best thing, and there were no illusions about that.
     Young people just can’t accept their lot in life the way they used to. In their heads everything ought to be better than it is.
     That’s just my observation though. And that’s certainly how it was with this particular kid. My apprentice, my protégé, my charge. He was a straight-up fool from the beginning. First day of work he says to me:
     “All right gramps, boss me around all you want. I’m just here ‘til my record label takes off.”
     Record label. They really give diplomas for dreams like that, huh?
     I couldn’t get over it. My total years of seniority were greater that his total years of life.
     He was always slouching and shuffling, all the things my elders used to harp on me about; can’t really fault him for that, I guess. Sometimes a man’s got to grow into his body. But the lack of eye contact, the casual way he regarded me – his superior! And the foul language – to say it irritated me would be an understatement.
     And he always had those head phones jammed into his ears, constantly emanating crazy rhythms -- which didn’t sound too bad if I’m being honest, it was just the audacity with which he wore the things that got me.
     I’m telling you, I could have dealt with those unsavory qualities had it not been for that damn tic. It was just too much. Always a sudden and startling seizure of the muscles on the right side of his face, the spasm made it seem like he was winking at me. And to make matters worse, it always happened when he got wound up, so any time he and I had an argument it seemed he was punctuating his sarcastic words with a smart-assed wink. I knew the physical action was involuntary, but it was fuel for the fire nonetheless.
     Ninety days with this kid. How would I manage?
     One afternoon my supervisor sent word (along with congratulations on my new eligibility for retirement) that they’d be walling up the unused public restrooms at the south end of the station. I’d been a booth agent at that location for the better part of 30 years and never before had anyone expressed an interest in doing something with those old toilets. The neighborhood is slowly changing, I guess, and the new crowd probably don’t like the thought of what bums, addicts, and horny teenagers get up to in there.
     I was in favor of the improvement; one less thing for me to keep an eye on. I wondered, though, why wouldn’t they just tear the thing down instead of plastering over it? Budget cuts, I figured. A quick fix instead of a permanent solution. It was then that the idea hatched in my mind.
     Just a spark of inspiration, I dismissed it all at first, but with each passing day I began to realize that a perfect, foolproof plan had landed in my lap. And each day that tic pushed me closer to my resolution. Finally, I decided to do it; I would just need to time everything exactly right. Waiting would be the hard part.
     When the day arrived I found myself calmer than expected. The kid came shuffling in as usual, twenty five minutes late for our 4:00pm shift. Eyes bloodshot,lids heavy.
     “You’re late,” I said.
     “Easy, gramps. You’re just jealous cause I’m gonna be a famous filmmaker and you’re gonna be here ‘til you die.”
     “I thought you were gonna be a famous DJ.”
     “Record producer. And I changed my mind.”
     “What a shame. And you went to school for it and everything.”
     “I told you, my degree’s in media studies. I can do all that shit.”
     “Still don’t excuse you being nearly half an hour late – every day.”
     No response.
     Excellent. So far, it was shaping up to look like a perfectly normal day. I was pleased with myself.
     Our shift passed as usual: me answering passengers’ questions, him commenting on the females that passed. At 12:45 I surprised him by standing and stretching.
     “I got to head out early tonight. Some things to take care of.”
     He looked at me for a moment then said, “What've you got to take care of at this hour, old man? If that were me leaving early, shit…”
     “Just make the rounds like you’re supposed to. And don’t forget to hang them signs I gave you.”
     “Yeah. I got it.”
     I picked up my jacket and bag and turned to go.
     “Oh, and don’t forget to check around the bathrooms. I found old Carlos in there two nights ago.”
     “Should get better locks.”
     He winked.
     I stared him down.
     “It’s the last time we’ll have to do it,” I said. “They’re walling it up tomorrow.”
     “Yeah,” he said. “I got it.”
     I stepped out of the booth, closed the door behind me, and ascended my favorite set of stairs at the northeast corner of the station. I breathed the crisp autumn air. The moon was full and round in its opalescent glory, hanging low over the brownstones. Savoring the late night silence, I walked the two blocks above ground to the other end of the station and down into the cavernous depths. Swiping my card, I moved through the turnstile, just like a regular old passenger. It was deserted. Not a soul in sight, nor would there be for hours.
     Arriving at the decrepit washrooms, I paused for a moment and considered that this would be the last night I’d see the old station exactly as it was when I started all those years ago. It was the end of an era.
     No time to waste though. I quickly unlocked the men’s room and slipped inside, leaving the door slightly ajar. That would guarantee success. One thing I had to give the kid, he wasn’t a coward. He loved knowing that he might discover something exciting or dangerous in those bathrooms. He lived for finding the broken padlocks, investigating, and, if he was lucky, getting to call the cops.
     I checked the time on my cell phone: 12:56. He would be here soon. I removed all necessary materials from my backpack and steeled myself for the moments to come.
     Soon enough, I heard the tell-tale shuffling of the young underachiever heading my way, keys jangling at his hip. The sound stopped just outside the bathroom and slowly the door eased open. Harsh florescent light flooded the room.
     “Who’s there.” A demand, not a question.
     With that I pounced! And within seconds had the little bastard bound by wrists and feet – mouth clumsily, but effectively gagged with a wool sock. He barely had time to make a noise. Woulda been fine if he had; no one to hear him at 1:00am in this god-forsaken corner of the borough. I switched on the workshop lantern I’d strategically placed there days before. His face was twisted in fear and confusion. Then, upon recognizing me, it softened in relief.
     Hands under his arm pits, I scooped him upright. He had trouble balancing, but succeeded in spitting out the sock.
     “The fuck you doin’, man? You scared the shit outta me!”
     His face was convulsing wildly, his eye blinking out of control.
     I helped him lean against an old pipe, which extended from floor to ceiling. He seemed grateful for the support and began breathing a little easier.
     “Seriously, man,” he said. “Good prank. Untie me now.”
     I didn’t respond. I simply gathered the chains and began wrapping them in an intricate pattern around his body, securing him to the pipe.
     “Hey, man. Stop this!” His pitch was beginning to escalate.
     I snapped the padlock shut, and stood back to admire my work. It was beautiful in a way. Another spasm seized his face. Between tics I could see the terror in his eyes.
     He screamed repeatedly now, struggling hopelessly against his bonds.
     I found the sock lying on the ground, picked it up and stuffed it back into his mouth – this time securing it with several layers of duct tape.
    His muffled cries were pitiful, but I gathered my things and faced him.
     “Goodnight, kid,” I said, and switched off the light.
     Closing the door behind me, I felt the strangest sense of relief at knowing the blinking eye, the twitching face, would be gone forever. I locked up the room for the last time and finally went home.
     The next morning men came with bricks and mortar and tiles. In 48 hours the whole thing was done. No more restrooms to check. And still no sign of the cops.
     After five days, I called my supervisor and told him the kid hadn’t shown up all week. He instructed me to give it another day or so before calling the police.
     I knew the kid had no family. Only a mother he didn’t speak to often; she had moved down south some years ago. And I figured a girlfriend was out of the question for his skinny, twitchy ass. No one to ask after him, no one to suspect.
     I eventually did call the authorities; they came and asked questions. I answered, I lied. They said there was no sign of foul play at his apartment; if anything violent did happen, it was probably drug related. Before long they stopped coming around, stopped asking questions. But I knew the smell would soon be a problem.
     And it was. I managed to thinly cover it up for several weeks with cinnamon scented air freshener, but people began to ask about it. The stench of human decay is distinct, and powerful. So I knew my time was running short. But I wasn’t worried. By the time the cops came back around, I’d be on a bus to the border with my retirement money in pocket.
     I wondered who would take my place.
     Probably another failed DJ or something, just waiting for his big break.
     And the kid? He would go down officially in the books as another statistic. One more example as to why this new generation is one big turn-over risk – the dreamers, the unemployable, the good-for-nothings. The kid still is good for nothing; he just ain’t around to bother me no more.


We hope you enjoyed this tale, and that you will provide your thoughts on it below. Stop back Wednesday for some more poetry, and for part two of The Ninth Victim on Friday. It's going to be a tantalizing week!

Emerald Nash is currently based in Brooklyn. She studied performing arts at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and received her B.A. in Literature and Screenwriting from The New School. Her current day job at The Explorers Club involves brandy-sipping adventurers, a plethora of dead animal trophies, and one really cool live cat named Lowell.