It was a nice summer day, my 5-year-old son James was playing outside in the backyard of our suburban home. James has always been a quiet boy, he plays by himself mostly, he never had many friends, but he has always had a wild imagination. I was in the kitchen feeding our dog Fido when I heard what sounded like James talking to someone in the backyard. I’m not sure who it was he could be talking to, could he have finally made a friend? Being a single mom it’s hard for me to always keep an eye on my son, so I decided to go outside and check on him.
When I went into the backyard I was a bit confused, because James was the only person back there. Was he talking to himself? I could have sworn I heard another voice. “James! It’s time to come inside.” I called out to him. He came inside and sat down at the kitchen table, it was about lunchtime so I decided to make him a turkey sandwich. “James. Who were you talking to out there?” I asked. James looked up for a moment, “I was playing with my new friend,” he said smiling. I poured him some milk and continued to pry, as any good mother would. “Does your friend have a name? Why didn’t you ask him to have lunch with us?” I asked. James stared at me for a moment before replying, “His name is Laughing Jack.” I was a bit taken back by what he had said. “Oh? That’s a strange name. What does your friend look like?” I asked a bit confused. “He’s a clown. He has long hair and a big swirly cone nose. He’s got long arms and baggy pants, with stripy socks, and he always smiles.” I realized my son was talking about an imaginary friend. I suppose it is normal for kids his age to have imaginary friends, especially when he has no real kids to play with. It’s probably just a phase.
The rest of the day went by as per usual, and it was starting to get late so I put James to bed. I tucked him in, kissed him, and made sure to turn on his nightlight before I closed the door. I was pretty tired myself so I decided to go to bed not long after. I had an awful nightmare…
It was dark. I was in some kind of rundown amusement park. I was scared, running through an endless field of empty tents, broken down rides, and abandoned game huts. The whole place had a horrible look to it. Everything was black and white, the prize stuffed animals all hung from nooses in the game huts, all with sick grins stitched on their faces. It felt like the whole park was looking at me, even though there wasn’t another living thing in sight. Then suddenly, I began to hear music play. The sounds of Pop Goes the Weasel being played on a squeezebox echoed through the park, it was hypnotizing. I followed its tune to the circus tent almost in a trance, unable to stop my legs from moving forward. It was pitch black, the only light came from a single spotlight shining on the center of the big top. As I walked toward the light the music slowed down, I found myself singing along unable to stop.
“All around the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey though t’was all in fun…”
The music stopped right before its climax, and suddenly the lights shot on. The intensity of the lights was practically blinding, all I could see was a small dark silhouette shuffle towards me. Then another one appeared, and another, and another. There were dozens of them, all coming toward me. I couldn’t move, my legs were frozen, all I could do was watch as the haunting figures drew nearer. As they got closer I could see… THEY WERE CHILDREN! As I looked at each one I noticed they were all horribly disfigured and mutilated. Some had cuts all over their body, others were severely burnt, and others were missing limbs, even eyes! The children enveloped me, clawing at my flesh, dragging me to the ground, and tearing inside me. As the children tore me apart and I faded away, all I could hear was laughter, horrible, awful, evil, laughter.
I woke up the next morning in a cold sweat. After taking a few deep breaths I looked over and saw that a few of James’ action figures were positioned facing me on top of my nightstand. I sighed, James had probably woken up early and put these here. I gathered up the toys and made my way to James’ room, however, when I opened the door James was sound asleep. I just shrugged and placed the toys back into his toy box, and headed out to the living room. A little while later James woke up and I made him his breakfast. He was quiet and seemed a bit groggy, perhaps he didn’t sleep well either. I decided to ask him about the toys, “James honey, did you put the toys in mommy’s room this morning?” His eyes shot up at me for a moment then quickly glanced back down at his cereal. “Laughing Jack did it.” I rolled my eyes and responded, “Well you tell ‘Laughing Jack’ to keep the toys in your room.” James nodded and finished up his breakfast, then decided to go play out in the back yard.
I went to relax in the living room and I must have dozed off because I woke up a couple of hours later. “Shit! I need to check on James.” I was a bit worried, it had been over 2 hours and I haven’t checked on him. I went stepped out into the backyard, but James wasn’t there anymore. I was getting nervous so I called out to him, “JAMES! JAMES WHERE ARE YOU?!” Just then I heard a giggle come from the front yard. I rushed through the gate around to the front of the house. James was sitting on the sidewalk. I breathed a sigh of relief and walked over to him, “James how many times have I told you to stay in the backya… James, what are you eating?” James looked up at me then reached into his pocket and pulled out a hand full of hard candies in all colors. This made me very nervous, “James, who gave you that candy?” James just stared at me not speaking. “JAMES! Please, tell mommy where you got that candy.” James hung his head down and said: “Laughing Jack gave it to me.” My heart sunk, I knelt to look him in the eye, “ James I’ve had had enough of this damn Laughing Jack thing, HE IS NOT REAL! Now, this is a very serious situation and I need to know who gave you the candy!” I could see my son’s eyes tear up, “But mama, Laughing Jack DID give me the candy.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, James has never lied to me but what he’s telling me is impossible. I make him spit out the candy and I throw the rest away, James appears to be fine. Maybe I’m just overreacting after all he could have gotten it from Tom and Linda from next door or Mr. Walker down the street. Either way, I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on James. That night I put James to bed as usual and decided to go to bed early myself.
Suddenly I was woken up by a loud bang coming from the kitchen. I sprung out of bed and hurried down the stairs. When I got to the kitchen I was horrified. Everything on the counters had been thrown on the floor, and our dog Fido hung dead from the light fixture. His stomach was cut open and stuffed with candy, the same type that James was eating earlier that day. My shock was quickly broken by a sharp scream coming from James’ room followed by loud crashes. I quickly grabbed a knife from the drawer and moved up the stairs with the speed that only a mother whose child is in danger could have. I burst through the door and flicked on the lights. Everything in the room was knocked over and tossed on the floor, my poor son in his bed crying and shaking with fear, a pool of urine staining the sheets. I scooped my child up and ran out of the house and went next door to Tom and Linda’s house, luckily they were still awake. They let me use their phone and I called the police. It didn’t take them long to arrive, and I explained what had happened, they looked at me as if I were crazy. They searched the house, but all they found was a dead dog and 2 trashed rooms. The officer told me that someone had probably gotten into the house and done this right before making a quick escape when they heard me coming up the stairs. I knew it wasn’t true. All the doors were locked and none of the windows were open, whatever was in my house didn’t come from outside.
The next day James stayed inside, I didn’t want him to leave my sight. I went into the garage and found his old baby monitor and set it up in his room if anything comes into his room tonight, I was going to be able to hear it. I went to the kitchen and grabbed the largest knife from the drawer and put it on my nightstand. Imaginary friend or not, I’m not letting anything hurt my little boy.
Soon enough night came. I put James to bed, he was afraid, but I promised him that I wasn’t going to let anything happen to him. I tucked him in, kissed him, and turned on the nightlight. Before closing the door I whispered to him “Goodnight James, I love you.”
I tried to stay up as long as I could, but after a few hours, I felt myself drifting off. My baby would be safe for the night and I needed to sleep. Just as I lay my head on the pillow I heard a soft noise come from the baby monitor I had put on my nightstand. At first, it sounded like interference, like the kind a radio would make. Then it turned into a soft moan. Was James asleep? Then I heard it, the laugh from my nightmare, that horrible laugh. I sprung up from the bed and grabbed the knife from under my pillow. I rushed over to James’ room and creaked the door open. I tried the light switch but it wouldn’t come on. I took a step in and I could feel the warm thick liquid on my feet. Suddenly James’ nightlight came on and I could see the absolute horror laid out in front of me.
James’ body was nailed up on the wall, the nails piercing through his hands and feet. His chest was cut wide open and his organs hung down to the floor. His eyes and tongue had been removed along with most of his teeth. I was disgusted, I could hardly believe this was my baby boy. Then I heard it again, the soft desperate moan. JAMES WAS STILL ALIVE! My baby, my poor baby, in so much pain barely clinging to life. I ran across the room and vomited on the floor, but my sickness was interrupted by a horrible cackle coming from behind me. I spun around while still wiping bile from my mouth, then out of the shadows emerged the fiend responsible for all this horror, Laughing Jack. His ghost-white skin and matted black hair hung down to his shoulders. He had piercing white eyes surrounded by dark black rings. His twisted smile revealed a row of sharp jagged teeth, and his skin didn’t look like skin at all, it almost looked like rubber or plastic. He wore a patchy, black and white clown outfit with striped sleeved and socks. His body itself was grotesque, his long arms hanging down past his waist and the way he was poised made him look almost boneless, like a rag doll. He let out a sickening laugh as if to let me know he was pleased with my reaction to his ‘work’. He then turned around slowly in front of James and began to laugh even more at the horrific sight he has laid out. That was enough to shake me from my terror, I snapped, “GET AWAY FROM HIM YOU BASTARD!” I rushed at the monster raising the knife above my head and stabbed down at him, but as soon as the knife touched him he disappeared in a cloud of black smoke. The knife passed right through and pierced James’ still-beating heart, splashing the warm blood on my face….
No… what have I done? My baby, I killed my baby! I immediately fell to my knees, and I could hear sirens in the distance growing louder… My boy, my sweet baby boy… I promised mommy would protect you… But I failed… I’m sorry James… I’m so sorry…
Police soon arrived to find me in front of my son, still wielding the knife covered in my baby’s blood. The trial was short, insanity. I was placed in the Phiropoulos House for the Criminally Insane, where I have been for the past 2 months. It’s not so bad here, the only reason I’m awake now is that someone is playing Pop Goes the Weasel outside my window… I’ll talk to the orderlies about it in the morning…
I suppose the weirdest thing about what I’m about to do my good Gentle Readers, is that I am mapping this all out in my head 12 hours before I do it. It’s a little after 9 on Friday night, I probably won’t be writing down what you’re reading here until well, you can do the math.
It’s not that I haven’t done this before, it’s just that I feel that I could have a more honest writing experience if I can bypass my fingers and put it directly from my brain on the page, and recording my voice allows me to do that. I can go back and fix the inevitable typos and miswordings, but I can never get the raw ideas back that I don’t get in that first draft, at first blush, that first time something leaves my head.
Yesterday, I wrote about thankfulness, mind you, it was a scathing rebuke of an idiot on the internet, but I suppose it was about thankfulness nonetheless. So, lying here in the cold comfort of my bedroom, an entire night to compose something in my head and not have to worry about screaming children and watching college football, think maybe I’ll list a few things in the world that I’m thankful for.
The first has to be My People. Tribe. Circle. Group. I have long screamed their collective wonder to the vastness of the internet. I told you about how they saved my life, I told you about how they saved my sanity, maybe even told you how they have forcibly made me into a better person even when I was too stubborn to realize that I had to do it on my own. I suppose what I haven’t told you were the softer things, the gentler things. The moments when they listen to me when I’m babbling, the simple hugs that mean so much, the fact that they let me lift them and spin them around in a circle because it’s kind of a thing I like to do. They welcomed me into their homes, they come into mine, I’ve met their children, they’ve met mine. They’re My People in as many ways as my Blood is not.
Second, on this list, but never in my heart, are the three absolute wonders that I get to call my children. My Ducks. The oldest who is so goddamn smart, my middle guy who’s laugh could make the fiercest demon weep tears of happiness, and my little guy who is such a wonder as he learns new things day after day that they told me he would never, ever, learn.
My Naomi. Gone but never forgotten. Not with me in flush but forever in my heart, my mind, my soul. The woman who finally taught me what love was, who taught me that not all women were the sideshow horse that I grew up with. The woman who put up with me during the absolute worst, and was single-handedly responsible for the absolute best parts of my life. True, she was taken far too early, but for all of us that knew her, she’s never truly gone.
That’s what I’m going to write, for now, there are more specific things that I will be addressing in the next few days, specific people that I want to laud to the stars and beyond. First I need to ask them a few questions, acquire a few permissions, and let this one sit and let people know that this isn’t just about writing. This isn’t about how many words I can get off in a certain amount of time, this is truly about how thankful I am about these people who have made such massive changes in my life that I’ll never be the same person again, and praise be the goddess for that.
You read the title, you know what it means. If you don’t, then welcome to the happiest Bear Cave on the internet. I am your host, Bear, and today we will be listening to me because of my crippling reliance on others for any form of self-esteem whatsoever. I am working on it but like all things, it’s a process that is not achieved overnight by any stretch of the imagination.
I recorded this last night and the only editing I did was to make sure it wasn’t as deafening loud as the recording conditions in my bedroom make it. I talk about being happy and what it means when I tell you that I love you.
However an event this morning has tried very hard to undermine the positive attitude of the weekend and I will not allow this at all.
So, listen to this, then read the after for an addendum.
Do you know what I love you doesn’t mean? It does not mean I am there to be your emotional jizz-rag. It does not mean I am solely responsible for your happiness. I refuse the charge. Yes, I said I refuse. So, as I tried to be gentle before, I am harsh now. I am done and I will not engage further.
Other than that, enjoy the fucking weekend, ENJOY IT ALL.
Saturdays are always a weird day for me. Don’t get me wrong; I love the weekend as much as everyone else, I just get thrown off routine with the kids being home. This is mitigated somewhat by football and its routine, but it is a weird few hours at the beginning of the day is all. Plus, and sadly I must say, I drink much less coffee on the weekends when you think I would drink more.
Today is a simple day of sorts, there are plans for noon onward, so I have to deal with life from now until then. I had a decent night’s sleep, I suppose, I woke up a bunch, but not in the terrible ways I do from time to time as of late. Just waking up, staring at my phone and then saying fuck it, rolling over, closing my eyes, and then getting another half an hour, r even an hour at a crack.
Writing will be pretty halted over the weekend, and I am happy to take the time away and let the creative juices flow. Even if I am not writing, I am always thinking about what comes next in both the stories and the other projects I have lined up.
Before I leave for the day, I wanted to post a thing I recorded lying in my bed last night. It is pretty all over the place, but some people like me to talk into microphones and say the things I have to say. Oh yeah, it’s unedited too.
Now that you have heard that, Uhm, yeah, have a good day and stuff?
P.S. I have no idea why I went with the Nirvana smiley face. Imean, Long Live Cobain?
Remember, if you ever want to support, go ahead, and Buy Me A Cup Of Coffee, and I will be eternally grateful for all of your help.