The Haunted Truth
This is a portion of one of the books I have available on Amazon. I would love some feedback please.
It was Allen’s thirteenth birthday. A perfectly sunny day and cloudless sky paved the way for a fun party in his backyard with eight of his friends. An average all American preteen boy, he had eagerly awaited the beginning of his teen years. He stood five feet nine inches tall, weighed 165 pounds, and wore a size eleven shoe. Due to his awkward frame, he had earned a variety of nicknames. His mother described him as “awkward,” his friends called him “Twinkle Toes,” and his father called him “Little Oaf.”
It wasn’t long before the sounds of wild boys filled the air. The party went as it should, with plenty of cake, presents, soda, and games.
When it was over, Allen’s mother had a tough time getting the boys to go home.
“Just another thirty minutes, Mom,” Allen insisted.
Soon enough, the party would be just a brief side note of the ominous day ahead.
After all the festivities were over and his friends had gone home, Allen was left alone on the back porch with his gifts. Just past five o’clock, he was about to send his helicopter flying into the air for the umpteenth time when the phone rang.
Allen ran inside to answer it, but his father, who had just arrived from work, had already picked up the receiver. He sat at the dining room table, an old fifties style piece he had restored years earlier. He leaned forward with one arm in front of him, and the other supported his weight while he held the phone to his ear.
Allen poured himself the last of the Coke and sat across from him. He didn’t know who was on the phone and couldn’t hear what was being said, but the shocked expression on his father’s white face and the melancholy look in his eyes would forever be embedded in Allen’s memory.
Allen doubled over, spilling his Coke on the table. He rubbed at the pain that twisted his gut. His father continued to stare, stone cold, at the wall. Allen wondered if the call could be about his brother, James.
James was an only child from his father’s previous marriage. He was twenty years older than Allen, who only vaguely remembered the few times he had come to visit. When Allen was only eight or nine, James had driven from California in his cherry red 1965 Chevy Impala Super Sport. Even though James had only stayed at the house for a few days, Allen never forgot his beautiful car.
Another time James visited, he had ridden up on a pearl¬ white panhead Harley Hog, which rattled the windows of the red brick, single story house Allen called
home. Every time James revved the 1200cc engine, the noise sent Allen’s dogs scurrying under the nearest bed.
The last time Allen saw James, he was making a delivery of oranges to Denver with his young wife, Rachel, and stopped to visit them on the way. He drove a beautiful blue Kenworth eighteen wheeler. Allen had drawn pictures of his brother’s rig and hung them on the walls of his room.
James was a monster of a man. When he stood in a doorway, he filled it completely. At six feet four inches tall, he loomed a good head taller than most men. He was a solid, broad shouldered man with a muscular build, and his wavy red hair swung freely to the middle of his shoulder blades. When James laughed through his crooked, coffee-stained teeth, his sonorous voice resonated throughout the house. His enormous presence intimidated—no, frightened Allen, to the point he would
leave the house for as long as it took in order to avoid James.
Allen’s father was also a big man, but his physique did not quite compare with James’s. Engulfed with
freckles from his neck down, he had broad shoulders, huge biceps, enormous hands, and a receding white hairline. Unlike James, he was always clean shaven. The two things Allen remembered most were his father’s gray, altruistic eyes and his assuaging voice. No matter what happened, his father could calm Allen down with a loving glance and a kind word. Nothing seemed to exasperate him.
Born to an Irish immigrant father and a Cherokee mother in March of 1921, Allen’s father had lived through some unbelievably excruciating times. He had survived growing up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. Working that bucolic farm had made him as strong as an ox, and his grip could bring any man to his knees.
He had also endured the horrors of World War II. When asked about the war, all he would say was, “I don’t talk about that.”
Years later, when they were at a barbecue together, his father had told Allen, “I hate mutton. That’s the only thing they served us outside those damn concentration
He must have endured an array of insufferable evil that no man should ever have to witness—but it paled in comparison to the hollowness in his eyes at that moment when he heard the news over the phone, reflecting the ten long years that were etched into his brow.
Allen watched the life drain out of his father with every tear that dropped from his gray eyes. Soon tears began to form in the corners of Allen’s eyes as well.
After they both sat and stared for a moment without saying a word, Allen’s father slowly stood and walked out of the room. It is said that no parent should have to outlive his or her child—and Allen witnessed firsthand the truth behind that old saying.
Later that night, sleep wouldn’t come easy for Allen. He was still haunted by a nightmare he’d had a week earlier.
Flickering light from the living room drew him toward it. Each step inched him forward. Each exhalation fogged in front of him. He gasped for every breath, and his heartbeat throbbed in his neck. In the doorway, he glanced back at the dark corridor behind him. His eyes began to water, and the stench of smoke burned deep in the back of his throat as he inhaled. He turned forward, struggling for another step, and closed his eyes—but when he opened them again, the lure of the light intrigued him, so he continued.
He stopped just inside the room and looked around. A small table against the wall on the other side of the room drew his attention. Thirteen white spiral candles encircled the periphery, each flickering with a reddish glow. In the middle of the table sat a framed eight-by-ten photograph. The images in the photograph looked familiar, but he couldn’t quite make them out. The window behind the table was half open, and the curtains swayed in the breeze. Beyond the glass was darkness, interrupted intermittently by flashes of lightning in the distance.
A chill like ice penetrated his back, and he was pushed toward the table with a vicious jolt. His feet slid across the
wood floor as his speed increased. He turned his head and winced, stretching his arms out in front of him, prepared for impact.
Inches away from the table, he stopped. The photo came into focus. His chin was pressed deep into his shoulder, and his eyes were glued on the photograph. He exhaled and slowly relaxed as he recognized the people in the picture. Just below the fluttering curtains sat the wedding portrait of his older brother, James, dressed in his tuxedo, next to his young bride, Rachel.
When Allen looked closer, he realized a portion of the photo above James’s neck was blurry. His brother’s deformed face was unrecognizable, except for the outline of the long, wavy red hair draped over his shoulders. His wife was naked except for the glimmer of the wedding ring on her finger. Fire surrounded her. Both held half empty champagne glasses, crossing them at their wrists.
Confused, Allen gazed intently at the photograph. He flinched as the candle flames doubled in size, and the photo started to oscillate. A blinding flash of lightning exploded outside the window, and his hands jerked up to cover his eyes.
As he caught his breath, his eyes refocused through his expanded fingers. The candles dimmed to the edge of darkness, and the image of the young couple was barely visible.
A scream pierced the air, and he clapped his hands over his ears. Ghostly white hands with two-inch-long nails and bulging blue veins emerged from the open window, grabbed the photo, and snapped the frame, breaking it in half. Champagne and glass splinters showered over Allen, drenching his shirt and pants. When he opened his eyes, the pale fists were clutching the photo on both sides. They wrenched it apart, shredding it to pieces.
His parents’ voices drifted from across the hall, dispersing the images of the nightmare. Drenched in sweat, he tried to calm his breathing as he listened to his parents’ muffled conversation.
“I’m sorry, dear, but you should have expected something like this, that he might kill himself. After all, running around with that group of Hell’s Angels could only bring trouble. Don’t blame yourself.”
“No, damn it—it’s my fault. No matter how reserved he was, I should have seen the signs and gotten him some help after he returned from ‘Nam. Why did he do it? I won’t even get to see his face again. The officer said the only thing left is his right ear attached to his jawbone. Why?”
“Don’t do this to yourself. Remember, he was a grown man and brought this on himself.”
“No, you don’t understand,” Allen’s father replied. “After the way he saw his mother die…that bitch…I should have been there for him. I didn’t realize it until it was too late.”
“Don’t start that again. Just let it be. It’s best if no one knows the truth.”
“What should I tell Allen? He deserves an explanation.”
“Don’t tell him a damn thing. The less he knows, the better. Just let it go, woman.”
“Don’t talk to me like that. I’m just trying to help,” Allen’s mother said.
“I know, love. But just leave well enough alone. I’m not sure what to do.”
“Well, your flight leaves early tomorrow morning, and you still have to drive to Albuquerque to catch it. So you’d better at least try to get some sleep.”
“Okay, I’ll try. Now, you go to sleep. I know you’re tired after entertaining all those kids.”
“Good night,” said his mother.
Allen heard the lamp turn off with a click.
Terrifying visions of the nightmare ran through his mind again. The faint echo of James’s laugh haunted the air. Allen covered his head with his pillow and began to cry. When he stopped, a chilly silence filled the house.
At midnight, Allen heard strange voices. He peeked out from under the covers. A faint light flickered from the living room down the hall. He stood up, looked around, and forced himself to take one step toward the door, then another. The hair on his neck tingled. The voices continued as he peeked out of his bedroom. He tiptoed down the hall, squinting as the light grew brighter. From the doorway, he saw his father
genuflecting in the center of the living room, surrounded by candles. He was almost completely naked and chanted some kind of gibberish as he raised his head and looked up, as if through the ceiling. He stopped and slowly turned in Allen’s direction. Red and black paint outlined his eyes, and a crossed out circle symbol was painted in white across his chest.
Allen trembled. This image reminded him of the dream—of James’s wedding photo on the candle covered table. He pressed his quivering body solidly against the wall, slipped down the hall into his room, and dove under the covers.
A few minutes later, his father walked past, pausing for a moment to look in Allen’s room before continuing down the hall.
After his father was gone, Allen got up and turned the closet light on. Then he dove back into his bed, hands clenching the sheets.
It was five a.m. when Allen’s eyes opened. His father was sitting on the edge of his bed.
“See you in a couple of days,” Allen’s father said, “and don’t give Mom a hard time.”
Allen rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “I won’t…but where are you going?” He already knew, but he dared not let his father know all that he had witnessed the night before.
With a tear in his eye, his father stood up, mussed Allen’s hair, and walked out of the room. Allen longed to ask him what he had been doing at midnight, but instead, he stared in silence as the silhouette of his father moved out of sight.
Allen stayed in bed and listened to his father talking to his mother at the front door.
“You be careful—and don’t you dare blame yourself,” his mother said.
“I love you,” his father replied. “I’ll see you and Allen when I get back.”
His father flew alone to Los Angeles and was gone for three days without a single phone call home. His mother never mentioned James’s suicide while his father was gone. But its stench filled the air like the smell of
death lingering in a slaughterhouse.
When his father returned to Roswell after the funeral, he was a different man. Allen couldn’t quite put his finger on it and sensed that his father’s whole being had been altered by the loss of his oldest son. His father remained silent for what seemed like weeks, but in reality, it was only a couple of days.
For the next ten years, Allen’s father wouldn’t mention James, nor would Allen mention his recurring nightmare about James to him. But he always felt his father knew. Every time Allen had this dream, his father would glance at him the next morning with a cold stare.