Pillow Fight

Barry received the ax from G & L Fabrications. Temporary lack of work evolved to an indefinite separation. Unemployment sufficed for basic necessities and Candice paid the bills while maintaining two High Schoolers’ upkeep and the minor needs of their youngest. They made it, and Barry was content, yet Candice felt betrayal sink in like a brooding sickness, eating her alive from within.

“Don’t worry, I’ll do everything before I end another sixty-hour work week.”

Candice paraded her martyrdom while tidying-up minuscule clutter around the living room.

“I said I’d get to it when the kids go to bed.”

“You mean kid,” she corrected. “Beth and James are sleeping over at their friend’s tonight, or did the beer make you forget?”

Barry took a sip, then a chug. “You know we’re getting by fine without the need to work overtime every week,” he leaned forward and placed the empty on the coffee table. “I know you like to spoil everyone, but there is no need for to make yourself miserable.”

“You know who is miserable? You, Barry. All you do is sit around waiting for something to happen. It’s time to realize that they’re not calling you back in. It’s time to move on. And when you can finally do that, maybe I won’t be so miserable.

Her footfalls, deliberate with thunder, crashed towards the far bedrooms. Barry heard his youngest whine, pleading for mommy not to go again, not to leave him alone. That thunder returned, “Maybe you can give your son some attention tonight, or are you too drunk? Just make sure he goes to bed at a normal hour. Can you handle that?”

Rage never allowed him the moment to respond and Barry was fine with that. The front door slammed and the reverberation lingered like a caustic ripple in an acid pool, burning the air and scouring his skin.

Trevor whimpered from the mouth of the hallway.

“Hey buddy,” said Barry. “What’s the matter?”

He rose from the couch. Trevor wiped his nose and sniffled through clogged nostrils.

“Mommy said it’s your fault that she has to work at nights. Why daddy, why?”

“Oh bud, that’s not really true. Mommy is just tired from working a lot and sometimes when grownups get tired, they say things that are silly,” he ruffled the brown tuft of Trevor’s hair. “What do you want to do tonight?”

The squeak of his youngest child followed him into the kitchen, and to the liquor cabinet.

“Petey and I are playing in my room. Do you want to play with us?”

Beer before liquor, never been sicker he mused in his mind I guess I can’t get much sicker than this. Two finger widths of bourbon filled a rocks glass, and he drank.

Barry cleared his throat with another round.

“Sure buddy, whatever you want.”

Bourbon was left out, waiting for him to return, and Trevor reached up, grabbing his father’s hand.

“What are you two playing tonight?”

“Cars and trucks.”

“My favorite.”

And those cars and trucks scattered atop the Nascar playmat Barry bought Trevor for his birthday.

“You want to race, Daddy?”

“Sure thing buddy, let’s take a second to clean up this mess,” he pointed at the unkempt bed and strewn blocks. “It’ll make it easier for us.”

“Okay,” he huffed.

Bourbon swelled his veins, warming body and mind. Recent memories surfaced like vile oils, acrid and hurtful.

“Watch the attitude,” said Barry.

There was no backlash here. No passive-aggressive reminders of his worth nor damning glares to crush him further in the ground like a child squishing bugs out of boredom. Trevor shoved the corner of his comforter in and received a tilt of approval.

“Why are you playing with your cars? Didn’t you hear me when I said bed and blocks?”

“Sorry, Daddy.”

“Blocks, Trevor. Let’s make it happen,” he said. “I want you on blocks now.”

What am I doing? Barry asked himself. This is meant for Candice, not him.

“I’m sorry, Trevor,” this was hard for him to say. He bent down, and moved the cars around on the mat. “You work on that and Daddy will get us a nice race going.”

“It’s okay, Daddy. Petey says that he will help me and play with me,” said Trevor.

Barry took the hint and ran with it. “That’s good, son, that’s good. I’ll come back in a few minutes.”

A blast of invisible air, frigid and menacing, struck Barry as passed the threshold of Trevor’s room and into the hallway.

“Are you cold, Trevor?”

“No,” he said. “Let me ask Petey. Petey, are you cold?” Trevor pivoted to a shadowed corner between bed and window. “He says he is fine; just perfect for him.”

He nodded to his son. The walls and closed doors spun like a lazy tumbler as he shuffled through, turning into the kitchen. Bourbon told him to forget a sweater, drink me instead.

“Yeah, just a little more,” he said to the bottle. “You always warm me up good.”

Lips sucked around the stout glass neck and Barry hauled, chugging until air grasped strained lungs. Gullet burned, scarring with memories of Candice’s poking and prodding. Palpable are his festering sores, oozing with infections left by her hatred. His head swam in those echoes, and underneath was the cutting squeak of Trevor, calling to him from his room.

“Daddy, Daddy,” he said. “Daddy, come play with me.”

Feet heavy, legs woozy. Barry made it, bracing himself for the impact he yearned for, for the fire to soothe and encourage.

“Whaddya want to play next?” Barry asked, teetering at the door.

“Pillow fight, Daddy,” he jumped with joy.

Barry gripped the pillow and allowed Trevor to hit him over and over. He stumbled around the cars, dodging what he could, laughing with his son. Cushioned blows countered at Trevor’s side, pillows danced and danced like puffs of joyous innocence.

And he tripped over the blocks.

“I told you to pick these damn toys up,” he slurred, pulling himself up by his dresser. “Can’t you do anything right?”

He made sure his palm was open on the first strike to his stomach. It dropped Trevor with an umphf. Barry wound the pillow over his shoulder and brought it down, hard. Trevor sprawled over his cars, and wept. Barry couldn’t stop. He imagined Candice with each blow, picturing the pillow as a bat or an axe, bludgeoning and cutting and killing.

“You think you can get away talking to me like that?” Barry yelled. “Always jabbing with your nastiness. Huh?”

The pillow was ripped from his hands by an unseen force. It floated in the air with a drunken blur before crashing into his face. His nose crackled, blood gushed. Barry staggered and his heels tripped over bawling Trevor. He tried to stand, but was pushed back onto the bed. He could only crawl backwards, scooting his body towards the headboard. A weight trapped his hips to the mattress and the pillow smothered his face. Hands flailed, slapping only wall. Legs kicked, hitting nothing but air. Hot, whiskey soaked blood poured choked Barry. He gurgled his son’s name, apologizing with muffled pleads. They never reached him.

Death took him, and Trevor thanked Petey for always being there when he needed him.

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.

That’s a picture of Petey the Pirate. He is my son’s first “stuffy”, a gift for his first birthday. Petey has been there through thick and thin, watching life progress for not only my son, but for my family.

Petey has seen some shit, man. He has witnessed me at my worst with depression and drinking, has seen my wife and I fight over the latter, and was there when I came around to sober up; long enough to function either for a day, or for my long stretches. It sounds confusing, so let me explain: I slipped up a few times during the last five years to equate to roughly eighteen months of drinking, and three and a half years of sobriety.

Speaking of stretches in sobriety, I will be at two years straight without a sip of alcohol come July. Woot! 

My son also has an imaginary friend. The other day when we were pillow fighting (nothing like in the story, obviously) he wanted GiGi to get in on the action. He said that he was just kidding, because GiGi is pretend.

I held out the pillow anyways, and watched it drop to the ground. 

I took a few moments and thought about GiGi. Would he still have relevance if I was drinking, and what would that bond between my son and him (or her, we’ve never determined GiGi’s sex) be today? Would I have been replaced? Would it manifest into something real?

I was Barry at one point; minus abuse of physical nature.

This was an easy story to write. My wife hated it. It hit too close to the recent past, and that abhorrent history is easy to fictionalize, yet hard to stomach. She said it made her sick, and when I heard that, I thought of success. The impact was delivered to what I desired with this tale.  

I want characters that people hate. I want their conflicts and demons and mannerisms and lifestyles to be felt deep within. I want you to relate to them and to know that these creatures I weave have a sense of potential realism. Barry was part of me, and if you’ve been around enough alcoholics, you’ll see that he is a part of them all in some way.

That, my friends, is horror in my eyes.

“The Haunting of Hill House” was a fantastic read! I plowed through that last weekend and would recommend it to anyone. Right now I am reading a Robert E. Howard horror anthology and Sarah Langan’s “The Missing”. I should be jumping back to some graphic novels afterwards. I have issue five of “Chew: The Omnivore Edition” and I am forcing myself to get to it as soon as I can. I’m a slow reader so this is a tricky task. “Chew” is  one of my favorite series as it is both hilarious and extraordinarily unique.

Ghoul’s Ice Skating nonsense continues. It’s a fun mini-series and I think next week will see it’s conclusion.   

I’m back to work come this Monday. A friend reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked me to be one of his supervisor’s at a group home for wonderful folks with brain injuries and personality disorders. I’ve worked in that field for a few years now and I absolutely enjoy it. 

I have enjoyed taking the last six months off to sharpen and energize my craft. I think it was a necessity for my mind and core. Physically, not so much. I’m usually active and have become rather lazy. I’ve accomplished a lot for myself and will continue to work at becoming a full-time writer. Realistically, I would like to work for a couple more years and by then I should have a novel ready or an anthology of short stories. I still plan to post weekly, but the next few weeks may see a delay with posts. I’m going to be right straight out with classes and traveling.

Thank you all so much for being a constant reader, and with that, I bid you farewell….

… Until next week!

John Potts Jr

Rounding Numbers

Jankowski was an odd fellow.

He locked his house at night like everyone else, except when five minutes lapsed—to the second, mind you—Jankowski made an extra trip downstairs to check each deadbolt, twice. Permanent markers stained his bathroom sink so he knew how far to twist each knob; red for hands, blue for teeth. Every third Wednesday of the month a package arrived with his household supplies and paper goods, and when he recycled, his bin was filled with the same three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle that waited for trash day.

Food for Jankowski was ritualistic, and controlled. He bought groceries once a week and prepared most of his meals on Sunday nights for the work week ahead. Lasagnas and casseroles were frozen in his basement icebox; chicken seared and sliced for salads; veggies cleaned and prepped ready to be reheated; egg mixtures sat in milk quarts for scrambled Thursdays or omelet Tuesdays. These were his comfort foods, passed down by parents whom never understood computer programming or how one could work out a bedroom every day.

Eating out was reserved for twice a week on Fridays and Saturdays, divided into his favorite authentic cuisines that hit his palate’s desires. The first and fourth Fridays were of Asian tastes, Thai and Chinese. Never sushi, though. Burgers filled the second and third dates, cooked well-done from the same corporate chain with unsalted fries. On Saturdays, he’d roll an eight-sided die and chose from a prewritten list of circumstances; one and two, his friends decided; three and four, he decided; five and six was a re-roll, and seven and eight was pizza.

He only ordered pizza dictated by his rolls, and he stuck to this rule.

Jankowski would convert the lid of the box into plates equal to those whom ate with him. Most of his friends thought he was a loon, and that was quite fine with him.

And Jankowski never tipped more than the total rounded to the nearest five-dollar interval.

There was a knocking on his door. It was abrupt, and loud like the strikes of a framing hammer on stubborn two-by-fours.

“Must be dinner,” said Jankowski.

Harold did the math for him, and proclaimed without reassurance from a calculator that a twenty would cover the bill, minus the tip.

“Do you have a few ones to throw in?” He asked while fishing in the pockets of his tight jeans for crumpled bills. “Least we can do.”

“I would, but it’s against the rules,” said Frank.

“Rules? What do you mean?”

“It’s Murray’s deal. He’ll tell you when he comes back.”

Frank admired Harold for scoffing, and even more for insisting.

“That’s absurd,” he checked his watch. “It must be the last order of the night and I know that I would feel insulted—deeply insulted—if change was offered. I can’t believe it, I have to say something.”

He rushed to the door, still wriggling a bony hand to produce more cash from his pockets. Frank moved from the couch to the recliner, sticking his head to the hallway like a giraffe observing a mild ruckus nearby. The doorway was crowded by Jankowski’s husky frame and Harold’s wiry attempts to offer the deliverer money.

“Nah, I got you, asshole. Keep your damn money.”

The door slammed and the female shriek continued outside.

“Eighty-six cents isn’t much of a tip,” said Harold.

Jankowski nodded, and shuffled his feet across the living room carpet, disappearing to the rear hall. A vicious click of the deadbolt filled the home.

“Locking it up early tonight?” asked Frank.

“Something like that,” his voice quivered. “I feel sick all of the sudden. I think I need some air.”

Headlights streaked outside and tires wailed their rubber-on-tar frustrations. He checked the blinds on each window with a systematic flick of the blinds, and once satisfied that she left, he stepped outside to his porch.

“I’ve never seen him get angry before, let alone slam a door,” said Frank.

“That wasn’t him, it was the delivery driver,” said Harold. “Where are the plates?”

Frank explained the lesson in maximizing the pizza box and dissected the lid into thirds. I could’ve prevented this he thought as he slid two slices onto his cardboard wedge. A medium would’ve been fine for us.

Jankowski joined them at the breakfast bar of the open kitchen. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” his stout nostrils flared when inhales that skipped like a drummer who failed to grasp basic timing. It was early spring and the nights remained chilled, yet his face and pits stained with contrary splotches of sudden perspiration.

“I’m fine, I’m really fine.”

Hunger grabbed the reigns, and Harold folded the crust while Frank used two hands; one cradled the bottom and the other guided from the rear. Jankowski sat and stared at his makeshift plate, breathing calmer but still, strained.

“You alright?” Frank asked in between chews.

“I hate myself sometimes,” he said. “I hate that I can’t break away from my stupid obsessions and now I made her cry.”

Harold mumbled with a mouth full and Jankowski exploded.

“She was crying!” His fists slammed with an unmatched rage that Frank, nor Harold, knew Jankowski to possess.“She was destroyed, all because I can’t break away.”

“It’s okay, man. And I’m sorry, she is beautiful,” said Harold with a shrug and a wink.

“Do you want us to leave?” Frank asked.

“No, no. I want to apologize to her. I want to find her and give her what she is owed… I just don’t know what to do.”

“Call the pizza place and explain that you short changed her by accident.”

Jankowski was out the door after he spoke with the manager of the store. He explained that he meant to give her an extra five and felt awful that she left upset. “I told him it wasn’t her fault that she slammed my door. I made her upset, and I need to make this right.”

Frank and Harold endured ten minutes of  white-knuckled silence until Jankowski swerved from the main drag and onto the store’s lot.

“He said he would tell her to stay and wait, but he didn’t know if she’d stick around, because he had to talk to her about something. I know I can make this right–I have to.”

“Okay man, just don’t get us killed in the process.”

Breaks squealed and bodies rocked as he forced his four-door to a stop in the dirt parking lot behind the store.

“There she is,” he said. “Oh my, there she is. Now I can make this better.”

He took a five out of his wallet, pressing it down to make it flat and closed the door behind him.

“Roll the window down,” said Harold from the back seat. “I want to hear this.”

Jankowski approached. Luminescence, feeble and yellow flickered from the stores outside lights, creating a void of darkness around the lone car and the meager frame of the pizza delivery girl.

“Hi, my name is Murray and I just want to say that I am sorry for—

She bent her fingernails forward in malice, cutting his face when she smacked.

“I got fired because of you. Not only are you retarded, but you’re a damn rat. I don’t want your money, or your apology.”

Frank couldn’t giggle like Harold was. Mild horror crept over his nerves and muscles like cynical frost bite, striking him feeble.

Harold giggled from the backseat but Frank shook his head with mild fear when Jankowski stalked forward.

“Please,” his voice raised to an angered shake. “I’m not like this and you have to take the tip.”

“Get away from me, you prick.”

When he stood upright, he towered over her and she never once backed down. When he placed his hands on her, she didn’t cry. When he covered her mouth with a sweaty palm to hush her, she bit down. Jankowski never noticed pain nor blood. He shook her like a loose body pillow limp from losing too much down and he didn’t stop. The back of her head cracked against the top of her car over and over until her neck lolled to the side.

“What do we do, what do we do? Jesus he’s killing her,” said Frank.

Harold dialed on his phone, whispering to the emergency service that he witnessed a murder, and Frank thought there was maddening beauty when Jankowski shoved the five in her shirt pocket, kissing her head goodbye before he ran in front of the semi barreling down the main drag.

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.

I round my numbers sometimes. Not like Jankowski, though. Working in restaurants taught me to never short change those who handled my food in anyway, shape, or form. It’s Karma, I guess. That feeling of “what goes around, comes around,” will surely catch up if you eat out enough while failing to reciprocate gratitude. Luckily I have avoided shortchanging servers or delivery drivers, and I have tipped the minimum regardless of work quality. 

I bump my bills to the nearest five or zero so I can save a little money as I go. It equals out to be a gain of twenty or so bucks every month, and over a years time, that makes out to a couple of date nights or something for the kids, maybe some books or graphic novels. Either way, I save some loot for when I want it.

When I write (or read) I try to hit my goals for word counts at the end of the week. Sometimes I surpass and bank them for later. Sometimes I fall short (like this week), and realize that I need to work overtime at some point in the near future. I personally avoid beating myself up over lost productivity, and instead, I instill appreciation to the fact that I was able to write anything at all.

I an article last night that talked about forcing yourself to write even when you don’t feel that it can be beneficial. It makes sense, really it does. Writing is a job that pays off later with financial gains, but has instant gratification on your mind. But what if this was a gig that supplied an immediate paycheck. Would I want to show up and not put in the effort? Or should I at least try, and gain some ground along the way?

I’ve had jobs that I didn’t like. I worked them to pay the bills until I found something better, and trust me, I always found something better that would fit my drunk lifestyle at the time. I get restless or complacent, easier than most, and sometimes I just like to start something new or something familiar that may seem fresh at the time. I have to repeat this insanity with writing to keep my energy level at a high whenever I can. I try to minimize this though, as taking on more than I can handle is counterproductive. It’s about finding that happy medium to keep the sparks flying, and hen you are a scattered-brain-goof like myself, it can bite you in the ass if you haven’t mastered balance of workload.

Like myself. 

Damn, that was quite the ramble. 

I am reading Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”. Great story so far! I am a third of the way through it and I see myself finishing it this weekend. I just finished some Sarah Langan and I am going to read some more, but I need to mix it up a bit so I don’t make her horrific writing stale. I am also delving into “The Strange Case of H. H. Holmes” for a short story that I am working on. An episode of Lore Podcast turned me onto America’s first serial killer, and I knew I had to learn more.

His title is arguable though, since there may have been more before him that remain undiscovered.

Ghoul is continuing his Ice Skating shenanigans, and I have decided to make this a three-parter. It’s fun, and his undead antics fills the void in my body like cheap fiberglass insulation jammed around plumbing fixtures. It itches and warms simultaneously and is ever compliant to building codes. 

Or something like that.

Thanks for stopping by, and until next time!

John Potts Jr

Snow Fever

I should get the fire stoked again but I don’t know what else to use. I’ve salvaged everything I could from the recycling bin already. It was preached long ago to recycle, reduce and reuse… or something quasi-pleasant like that. Unfortunately for me plastic is used for pretty much everything nowadays; the labels of milk jugs were too waxy and sleek to spark; all our snacks came in shiny bags with an overabundance of colors; aluminum does nothing except taunt with metallic laughter and I knew better than try to burn it but desperate times call for ridiculous actions.

That’s what I tried to tell him on the second night. Did he listen? Nope, not one bit and I reacted.

The wooden furnishing is of course, gone. Our bed, doors, kitchen shelves and his bookcases served to the hungry fire; the latter brought me much joy. It was easier than I thought to dismantle and how it crunched when the axe head smashed through. And how Robert praised their designs. He was always so proud of his furnishing. They’re all real mahogany and oak he’d beam. It was more of an annoyed bleat, really. I am still surprised I had the strength left to do it myself.

His meat that he saved must have something special in it. Either that, or the book speaks true.

I’ve made my rounds again. The basement is now cleansed of cardboard and those old magazines he saved. The photos, too. Our wedding day and whatever fictional whims led to it; mediocre honeymoon and everything that sped after are all a memory of survival. I’m due to rip out the vanity next. I bet I can just toss it down the stairwell and right into the living room. It’s a straight shot to the hearth and if I’m lucky the impact will take care of further labor.

What good are curtains when you can’t see outside? They sure did prove useful yesterday… or was it the day before then? I’d reference the calendar but I can’t make out dates from riddled ash. Wait, I should note something important here: I can view to the outside. I witness empty spaces betwixt merciless snowfall and the hobbled greens calling for an end. Why oh why did I let him talk me into settling in the sticks? Sure, the woods are pretty and all. Quiet mornings and even quieter evenings. Kids had a safe environment to grow up in and the school was only fifteen minutes away. Sounded good on paper than it did in execution. At least now, anyways. But no, he had to insist on living on a dead end secondary road deep within the fir trees.

Pine needles are good for lighting a fire. That’s all their good for now. I know–oh trust me I know–that you can’t eat them. Near starvation led to that conclusion. I think I am deep into week two of with no real food. Finding snow to boil for water is a simple task. I’ve tried to steep Robert’s meat–my only food left–but it just doesn’t come out right. 

Is the snow still billowing in from the broken window upstairs? Is the roof rattled with creaks and cracks, splinters and woe? Are the drifts banked above the thresholds to this prison? I should ask Robert if these verses constitute the beautiful prose he was so well known for. He hasn’t answered since the second night, so why would that change now? He’s the one who decided to leave on his own terms. I think at the end of the day I will not miss the circumstances nor the shattered experiences. I’ve never thought of it like this: sentimental value is wasted in the face of death and I would’ve been glad to utilize that argument if I knew what to expect.

The weatherman didn’t know what would hit us. Only a half-a-foot! Sure, okay. I hope Tucker Jones dies horribly, but, that is probably a wasted notion as all the pretty ones live fulfilling existences and I bet he will be triple digits when the reaper comes for him. I should stop being spiteful. My energy will be needed elsewhere. But I can’t stop, so, why not give in for a bit? I deserve something for enduring another’s dreams devour my own. Am I jealous the kids were smarter than I to move to warmer clients? No. I am just dedicated… or a glutton for punishment. Make your husband happy mother said. Happy wife, happy life dad chided. Now it’s my turn to be happy, or at least, survive as long as I can to see that fool’s errand glint with mocking eyes once more.

Are there any books left? Probably. I’ve only set foot in Robert’s study when I need to since that night oh so long, long ago. Let’s go check—I doubt he will mind.

It seems the Bible and Robert’s hardcover collection of King and Gaiman are all that remains. Well, all except for the one that has kept me alive so far. He always had a strange interest in reading and I guess I should thank him for that. Thank you, Robert.

See, I can be grateful in such horrid moments.

Now here’s a question: Is it okay to burn the Bible? I think most of the early King and Gaiman are first edition and signed, so I’ll save those for last. They should sell for a pretty penny if I make it out alive and I’ll need some fast cash to restart my life. I think Robert would appreciate that. He said he loved me, after all. Till death do us part, right, Robert? I keep asking knowing it will fall upon deaf ears. I’m the optimist, after all. Another question: Would God—if there is one—smite me for torching the Bible? Or would the correct form be smote? I think in my circumstance it might be the latter.

No—no, no, no I will not let those thoughts consume me.

I remember mother freaked out once when I used the back page to twist a joint. It was one of the maps of whats-his-face’s journeys and God didn’t strike me down with vengeful wrath then. So what’s the risk now, right?

I am not afraid anymore.

Well, the vanity did slide down the stairs just as I thought and boy does thin grade paper catch quick!

I miss having substantial sides to go along with Robert’s meat. The canned food is long gone; so are the dry goods. We lost power on the second day and oh what a day that was. I remember dipping into Robert’s study and finding his stash of booze. He said to have quit, but I knew better. He was pissed to learn that I invaded his space, but, I think he was mad when he caught me drinking his rum. Robert tried his usual approach of punching first and talking second whilst bruises and breaks healed. He sure did silence fast when I brought the axe—

Better not write it here. I should leave those memories tucked away if I do make it out.

‘Officer, oh officer,’ I’ll say with great theatrics. ‘He went out into the storm and never came back. He mentioned he wanted to shovel the mouth of the driveway, but that was a week since now! Please—please find him for me he is my love and my moon and everything that I live for.’

How does that sound, Robert? Convincing enough?

If I am reading this paragraph correctly, I should cut just below the pelvis and only the width of the boning knife. Then stop just above the… well, I know where to stop. Did you, Robert? Did you know when to stop when I apologized for drinking your rum? Or when you tried to hit me for betraying your privacy? You struck first, and I, well, I just defended myself as you wouldn’t stop. Luckily for me you kept that axe there for a reason; sharpened, and ready. But I’ll never know the true meaning as to why. Maybe it was for this very moment. Did you foresee this? I know I didn’t. Thankfully your rage broke the rear window, making the study a perfect freezer for your meat.

And that’s when you left—you went right out that front door to cool off, never to return.

I can believe that and you know what, so should my hopeful rescue if ever they show.

And that’s all that matters.

Well look at that; this book is dead-on. Your meat is browning and crisping perfectly.  

Are you proud of me, Robert? I know I am.

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.

Short afterthought today.

I wanted to take a spin on the concept of Cabin Fever with this tale. I myself usually have it around this time of year. Living in Maine can bring dismal stretches of Winter that drag on and on like a never ending blizzard. Well, we’ve had something close to that here in the month of February. Five storms in a nine day span has brought well over three feet of snow.

I thought it was never going to end.

For my first decade of life I lived in Northern Maine in a quaint city called Presque Isle. Would I call it a city? Yeah, I think it qualifies as one. Anyways, I had experienced substantial snow up there; then again, when you’re pit-sized to nothing important, a dusting seems like a blizzard. But this–well, let me tell you–this relentless pounding of Nor’Easter then blizzard and finally, more blizzards. This was enough to make a new goal of mine to become a young snow bird. 


That is a road, I swear! It is closed off anyways during the winter but you can tell how much snow we have had. 


And that’s me, standing among the trees on the snow wall my plow guy made.

I wanted to take the idea of my situation and transform it to the never ending blizzard for a couple trapped in the woods. My in-laws live in a similar location and I wanted to take their setting with characters that  embodied a unique history of abuse and abuser. Finally our main character had enough, and she saw her chance during a heated moment. She’s a survivor, and Robert, ended up the meal. 

Ghoul dealt with his parking ban this week, and next week I imagine will be a couples skating competition. Patreon preparation is going strong. I have every story on this site now edited and revised, and next is Ghoul’s home. Here are some things to expect with Patreon when I launch it:

  • A new Short Story Monthly.
  • Ghoul’s Storyline. 
  • Newsletters
  • Possibly Audio Reads
  • And more!

I am taking my time with this for the reason of proper execution. I am shooting for sometime in March to launch it officially, like second week. My son has been on vacation and that means family time comes first. I guess where I am going is that I wanted to launch this on the first, but I would’ve felt awful to stay up in my office all day while he is on his first vacation. 


John Potts Jr

A Gift of Forgiveness

Danny had been shot before. He’d tell you it was only once, but that’d be a lie adapted to keep his wife calm around that dismal memory. Two rounds slammed into his chest on the same night from the same man and Danny knew what type of gun fired in the shadows. Semi-automatic pistols have distinct sounds—a low pop or a dull pah—that follow the barrel’s flash and those bullets strike quicker than a swarm of aggravated wasps; stingers ready to kill.

He had been lucky then, and this morning’s impromptu stop on his way to the office proved a far cry of that near miss years back.

There was no midnight alley way nor backup within arm’s reach and his atmosphere illuminated enough to see a revolver held by youthful regret.

“My god, what have I done?” Stammered the shooter.

Funny, Danny thought I got right back up when I was last shot… that’s right; back then I was on the beat and I wore my vest every damn day. Maybe taking that detective position wasn’t for the best after all.

His body never reacted like an action movie’s cliché climax. Absent was the outrageous theatrics a firearm’s impact and the staggered waltz of drunkards didn’t linger when the bullet crashed into his abdomen. Danny just tottered backwards as if he was shoved, tripping over complacent doubt and into a display of candy bars. He slumped to the ground while packaged treats rained atop his head and the pain settled in stronger than a burst of intestinal spasms.

And the shooter followed suit, mimicking Danny’s decline with an impassionate show of mirrored pain. He rocked on his knees back and forth, muttering over and over inaudible gibberish mixed with abhorrent sobs.

“Gut shot,” said Danny to the shooter. “Don’t think I am gonna make it without an ambulance. Do you have a phone? Left mine in my truck.”

“Oh god, oh god, oh god.”

“God isn’t here, son. It’s only you.”

The shooter brought his boney hands away from his covered face and stared in confused awe. Just a stupid, stupid kid.

“What did I do? Oh my lord what did I do?”

His voice was muffled behind a bandana designed with stereotypical blue paisley and the black hood of his sweater pulled down, concealing most of his face except for bloodshot green orbs filled with tears.

“You shot me in the damn stomach, that’s what you did. Now do you have a phone or not?”

“No sir, no I don’t.”

“Smashing that phone from the cashier you knocked out does me no good now, huh?”

“No sir, I suspect not.”

A gnarled vise cranked his ravaged innards, twisting and twisting beyond excruciating horizons. He guessed it wasn’t long before unconsciousness came to take him under and glancing down affirmed this thought. The young man slowed his rocking and calmed his breathes. “I’m sorry mister, I really am. I’m sorry oh god am I sorry.”

Danny heard what he needed behind the shooter’s trembled call.

Underneath his fear was an honest cry that pleaded for acceptance.

“I’m gonna forgive you for some reason,” Danny said. “Goes against my better judgement but I’m gonna do it. Now snap out of it and listen to me.”

“Yes sir—just tell me how to save your life and I’ll try my best.”

“I need to put something on this,” he nodded downwards to the entry wound oozing through his soaked button-up. “That bandana on your face will do for now. Give it over, if you’d be so kind.”

The shooter didn’t hesitate with pulling off his robber’s mask. His hood lifted back around his neck to reveal a tuft of short brown curls dirtier than his scabbed face.

Definitely a junkie and one that’s on the prowl for a fix Danny thought as the compress was applied.

“What’s your name, son?”

“Kenny, sir.”

“That’s good, Kenny. Now go on out to my truck and get my phone. You can’t miss it charging on my dash. I’d say go ahead and call for me, but I doubt you’ll get my code right. No offense, but I made it hard to unlock.”

“Yes sir, I can do that.”

Kenny was out the door and Danny knew there wasn’t much time. He slid forward as much as the pain and blood loss allowed, pulling with heels and pushing off with his free palm to the revolver. The tips of his sneaker inched out and touched the metal. Torment brewed and palpitating anguish shot throughout his body as he nudged the gun forward to his thighs, and eventually, to his grasp. Danny groaned as he rammed the revolver into his waistband and sighed minor victory as he noticed the security camera overhead.

Now I just need him to come back.

The door buzzed and chaotic shuffling morphed into the frantic shape of Kenny. Danny’s vision was blurring, and fast.

“Here you go, sir. I got it just like you said,”

Kenny fumbled the phone and it slipped from the sheen of sweat on his hands like the revolver had. The screen landed flat in the pool of blood rippling underneath Danny.

“Well… shit,” said Danny.

“I’ll fix this sir, I promise,” Kenny snatched the cellphone and wiped the glass surface on his sweater. At least my blood is on his sweater if I die. “Look, it’s all clean.”

Blood smudged into the cracks of the screen and the light emitting was tinted crimson. Danny’s thumb swiped and swiped until the phone unlocked.

“You did good… Kenny. You did good. Now come closer and help me with one last thing.”

The compress lifted, his fingers jammed a speed dial, and the revolver came out, pointing straight at Kenny. Before the voice on the other end picked up, Danny fired, and Kenny fell to the floor, grasping at his stomach.

“This is officer Danny Mitchell… I’ve been shot at Sunoco on Twenty-two south… just off of exit 38… suspect is down… send two ambulances.”

Screams filled the early morning hours and Kenny bleated why? Why did you lie to me?

“I still forgive you… and maybe… you can take that gift… and forgive yourself.”

© Copyright John Potts Jr. All rights reserved.

The one thing I am struggling with is forgiving myself for being the kind of alcoholic that I was. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over and it is this: Recovery for me will change to the past tense when I die. Luckily I have been able to abide by this grim outlook and it keeps the bottle far away.

It works for me and that is all that really matters in the end.  

I have mountains of regret and shame that I still haven’t been able to shake off from my drunk years. It all encapsulates with my stubborn inability to forgive myself. I use to be worse than I am now and I have come to realize that I was the self-sabotaging critic of my own demise. I’d find myself in fits of anger over my mistakes and in the end I dug that hole deeper and deeper until it turned into an oubliette; bottomless and absent of all light or warmth.

That’s life sometimes.

Thankfully the light has returned over the years and I have found new guidance and purpose. I think being a father helps. Some of the goals of being a parent–at least from my perspective–are to teach children how to avoid past mistakes. If history is going to be repeated, lets at least make it positive experiences and not the shitty ones.  

I am absolutely, one-hundred percent starting a Patreon page. First I am going to prepare.

My Drill Sergeant taught me a great acronym I try to use today, and its the Six P’s:

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. 

I am taking my time with the roll-out for this as I want to execute it’s delivery and continued success with careful preparation. 

I have spent time going through some of the stories posted here and I have given them a harsh once-over. It was needed. I am huge on progression and I always want to reflect on what I can and will improve on as a growing writer. Like I mentioned in my last afterthought, I will still have this site and Ghoul Flash Fiction opened and will continue to post weekly on both. Those platforms will work as my portfolio so far. I want to give hopeful Patrons a sample size and that must be high quality. 

Ghoul went on a double date for valentines this week, and next week, he is dealing with a parking ban. He’s a busy guy, ya know? 

I’ll catch you all next week, and if I am fortunate, I’ll have a break from the snow.

John Potts Jr

Talking Updates

The third date was meant to end on a good note. Chet felt his chances inched towards favorable and he wrapped his arm around the innocent prize below him, pulling her close. His status as Point Guard for the University of Southern Maine’s Basketball team enabled pick of the litter ease that Chet exploited on most occasions; he bides his time for Freshman girls, methodically working to achieve the goal of tonight’s standard. They turned down Deering Ave and descended through pale beams cast from streetlights above. Warm ocean air weaved about the city like a steady hand threading a hot, salted needle; the scent allured and fascinated their senses.

“I don’t think I could ever move from this city now that I have experienced its grandeur,” Melanie said.

“Me neither.”

He wasn’t thinking with his brain and his College scholarship reflected this. The words Melanie uttered equaled High School mediocrity; to Chet they seemed foreign as if he was trying to read a Biology textbook for the first, or fiftieth, time. He played the odds well and knew that agreeing to anything she said increased the likelihood of embracing the sleek curves underneath hip-hugger jeans and ebony blouse. His hand moved south, brushing against her tender skin to rest on firm waist. A berry fragrance mixed with faint perspiration wafted to his nostrils from her blonde ponytail like fumes of sweet inevitability.

But she stopped, and pulled herself away.

“What is that?” She asked.

Her finger shot-out to a hunched body at the Newspaper Vending Machine three streetlights ahead. The figure bent forward, peering inside with hands cupped around the glass like a child gazing beyond the glass of a candy shop eager with voracious lust for decadence before disappearing into a shadowed alley.

“Probably some bum looking for a fresh blanket,” Chet said. “Retarded to boot. Must’ve forgotten that it costs money to try and read the paper.”

Melanie distanced herself a step ahead of Chet as they continued with opposing strides; chilled retreat from obnoxious warmth.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Think about your ignorance for a minute and tell me if judging someone the way you did is appropriate.”

An unwelcomed rush of harsh embarrassment rose to his face like a kettle heated by a lava flow. Chet skipped to her side and pivoted his lanky frame to Melanie’s front, boxing her off from advancing.

“Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that,” he glanced over his shoulder, noticing the figure interacting once more with the vending machine. “I think I’ve heard about him anyhow. It’s a sad sort of story and now I feel awful.”

She distanced herself from his reach.

“Let’s hear this urban legend then.”

“Word around campus is that he was an overnight sensation with a website used for sharing art, stories, poetry—stuff like that. It was a free service for artists and he sold ad-space to make ends-meat. If what I heard is true, the profits were huge. I guess something happened—some say drugs, some say stress—but his mind cracked and he lost it all. During his downfall, the website was stolen from under him by the co-creators and he ended up on the streets and somehow drifted to Portland. Sad, isn’t it?”

“It is… it’s also slightly inaccurate,” Melanie drifted around Chet and down the hill.

“What do you mean?”

“I used Artist Share when it first launched a few years back. Jack Yates was the founder and wanted a platform for alternative views to the underground arts; nothing ever twisted, mind you. He was a devote Wiccan and some say more than that; his left-handed lifestyle was shunned by the masses and he gave us a comfortable voice. He united many together when the site started and those who utilized the platform’s true meaning loved him for his bravery to promote others to rise above their insecurities. It’s a shame what really happened.”

Jack emerged a streetlight ahead of them and performed his routine check. Pale was the color of the moon and that of his skin and ragged layers of patchworked attire rustled as he retreated into the darkness once more.

“So, what happened to him, then?” Perversion claimed Chet’s thought and he knew that humility was the key to bedding Melanie tonight. “And I am really sorry for what I said… that is not who I am.”

His attempted embrace fell across the empty space of night.

“Uh-huh,” Melanie said. “What happened was the website metamorphosed into a grotesque affront to its true meaning. New users flooded in to share unsophisticated memes and gifs that insulted the purpose of Artist Share. People forgot him and his mission, and the founders usurped. Do I need to dumb that down for you?”

“I deserved that, and no, I think I understand.”

“Good… there is still a chance this night can end on a good note.”

Jack appeared from the shadows to the vending machine and the couple stopped in their tracks. He glanced up and asked, “Any change to spare? I think there is something in here that I need to read but I can’t see so well.”

Chet ignored the request while Melanie reached into her pocket and dropped silver into Jack’s outstretched claw-like hand. Hazel eyes widened and teeth stained with decay of prolonged death beamed to Melanie.

“You’re welcome, Jack,” she said.

“You know me? Yes! I am Jack Yates and you know me.”

Chet whispered, “Let’s go, please.”

Melanie sliced Chet with an upwards glare and turned to Jack.

“I used Artist Share when it first started. I am sorry for what happened and I just want to say thank you for giving me an outlet to express myself.”

“Well you are most welcome and yes—you know me. Oh how it has been so long since I have been validated. Come, look,” his grasp was lighting and he guided with gentle care to the newspaper vending machine. Melanie was far from alarmed but Chet launched himself forward and grabbed Jack’s arm.

“Get your hands off her you crazy asshole.”

“No, Chet! He is harmless.”

But Melanie was dead-wrong.

Jack yanked his arm away and shoved Chet to the sidewalk in a burst of rage stronger than a blast of muffled dynamite. His head crashed before his body, rendering Chet unconscious. Melanie froze as if her body was fused to the cement by a blast of invisible dry ice.

“All it takes is one person to remember and the rest will fall into place and yes oh yes they will know me once more. The updates have teased and the news will show the truth and yes oh yes,” he plopped quarters into the slot and yanked the metal arm down. The newspaper was removed and lifted to Melanie’s frightened stare. “There! Do you see it? The updates spoke of my second coming and I will return to that place among the great.”

Ink swirled on the front page, transforming the political drabble and world news into a horrid foreshadow that Melanie muttered like a possessed child drifting between reality and demonic arrest. Her disbelief gasped as wisps of a fleeting death rattle escaped into the night, and she said,

Bloodied cobblestones were found near the two bodies and the killer is still on the loose.”

Jack Yates chanted with a sing-song cadence as he silenced their mortal existence.

“They said my fall would be temporary and I that I would rise from life’s essence of those who remembered—yes oh yes—that is what the updates said and finally oh finally that truth shall set me free; free above the rest and free above the dead. The truth shall set me free.”

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.

I think I have OCD. I will use the reference proceeding this preface to explain why:

I am going to say the word “Politics” and “Political” in the next few paragraphs. Please know that this is in no way a presentation or explanation of my political views. I want this site to be a political-free forum for storytelling and my thoughts. If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I am one) rural American and two) without a platform to have my voice heard so I utilize social media as my megaphone to express my views and feelings.

Collection of Endless Nightmares will stay clear of that, and if a character has a strong view just remember that it is necessary for that character. Same goes for Ghoul Flash Fiction. There may be a time (if the stars align and I publish something substantial) that I may weave my views into my writing, but please be assured that this is not that venue.

Now the reference….

Politics have deep roots everywhere you go, but I never give it much attention until this time of the year when an election occurs. Both sides of the party are in an interesting period that is affecting not only America, but the World in a particular fashion that has grasped my attention once more. I have been finding myself going to my preferred news sources in a ritualistic manner each morning and obsessing over updates throughout the day. I can’t even explain why this is happening. The only guess I have is that this is muscle memory, same as my other habits. I think back to when I was younger and how my habits would focus on an activity until I became disinterested for a period, and then something else would fill the void for a time until the cycle was ready to repeat.

I spent last night with a buddy of mine slinging some vintage MTG (Magic: The Gathering for you non-nerds) and we talked about the music we listened to decades ago when we first met. It was a neutral mix of Bare Naked Ladies, Cake, Grateful Dead and other bands alike. Then he reminded me of the one band and song I played over and over: Orgy’s “Blue Monday” from their first album Candyass. And yeah, he was right. Not only did I listen to that one song but I also played-the-shit out of that album until I became bored with it and moved on to Rob Zombie or Nine Inch Nails.

The other day I was engrossed with political updates and watching C-Span to the point that I actually lost track of time and realized that the day was literally wasted. Holy shit!?! And today I’m all like,

“Meh, whatever.”

I based Jack Yates off that side of me. This story hints at how obsession can almost seem ethereal and otherworldly to the point that compulsive behaviors can turn into absolute elation when rewarded, paving way for the cycle to begin once more as Jack disappeared into the shadows to be born once more as something he once was: appreciated for just being himself before the masses steal it away again.

Publication writing is slowing a little. I am revising a hard tale of my video game addiction and almost fell into a pitfall of writer’s block along the way. Once I am satisfied with that I will ship it on out. Still unpublished from my other tales, yet I am not deterred by rejection.

I am also planning on starting a Patreon page. Now don’t fear! This site will never go away, but I will only publish Flash Fiction and Excerpts here, along with the resources page while opening the doors for other writers to publish works if they want to. I also plan on releasing Ghoul Flash Fiction’s storyline there as well. This is still in the works but it is something that will be coming soon.

Speaking of Ghoul….

That fine gentry will be on a double date for Valentine’s Day, so make sure to stop by and envy his prowess with the ladies. This week he hit the slopes and received a tune-up. Busy man, I tell ya!

I currently am reading Sarah Langan’s “The Keeper” and expect to move onto “The Missing” afterwards. So far I am impressed! Women in Horror Month rages on, friends.

Thanks for stopping by and stay warm,

John Potts Jr

Independent Contractor

Open Door policies meant what they stood for; come on in if you ever needed anything from your boss. At High Speed Marketing, there was a pecking order required to follow before conversing with the head-honcho himself, and Casper Graves knew this better than anyone else, but the man in the ruby tie and purple eyes reassured that it was ‘quite alright for an exception every now and then’.

Who could say no to that?

The strangers charisma rivaled that of a young Elvis resurrected from the grave only to sing him a fresh tune meant for the Gods and Casper didn’t even know his name, let alone what he wanted. He ignored the primal pleading that whispered from somewhere deep in his subconscious mind and rushed through the executive archway like a man attempting to flee the Devil himself.

He’d find out later that this stranger was far beyond the mortal grasp of his redundant logic, and the Devil was the least of worries now.

Icicles clung from the secretary’s avoidance and the tapping of her keyboard increased with an annoyed ferocity.

“Does Mr. McFayden have you down to speak with the Mr. Cornwell?”

“No, but this is important,” said Casper.

Her eyes sliced like heated daggers towards Casper. He didn’t mind, as everyone knew in the office that she was a self-entitled curmudgeon who little power and more bark than an ailing poodle on its way to an overpaid, weekly grooming session.

“I’d expect the head of Human Resources to know that you need to clear with your boss before you disturb everyone’s boss. Let me shoot Mr. McFayden a quick e-mail to let him know that you’re here unannounced before we get ahead of ourselves.”

“That’s not necessary,” said a smooth drawl from the executive entrance. “Why don’t you just let old James know I’m here. He should be expecting me.”

Casper sighed with deep relief at the sound of the stranger’s voice. He strutted with a nonchalant gait, tapping his midnight wingtips across buffed tile the color of fresh cream in a comforting cadence that brought an otherworldly tranquility to the atmosphere.

“What’s your name, sugar?” Asked the stranger.

Those who were intended company of the stranger knew to fear his purpose; those along the way could only revel in awe at his grandeur.

“Kathy,” she said. “And who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?”

She raised from behind the crescent desk and beamed with a lustful glee to the stranger who rested his elbows atop the finished surface. The suit he wore was a blue closer to ebony, and his hair was a trimmed, burnt umber like waning foliage of deciduous sentinels in the north. Kathy’s crimson lips sucked-in and she bit down with a playful nibble. Her cheeks flushed, bringing about a color brighter than her strawberry shoulder-length hair.

“Certainly sir, I will let him know.”

“Thank ‘ya kindly, hon,” he said. “Casper, come here a minute, I gotta talk to you—lean in close.”

He wants to talk to me? Casper thought to himself I don’t know if I am worthy of his company; I better not screw this up.

“Yes sir, what can I do for you?”

“See now, I’ve come to collect what’s owed from James. Him and I go way back and I want you to sit in with us and watch how I work,” he paused, and pulled a Kleenex from Kathy’s desk and handed it to Casper. “Now git-a-hold of yourself, son. No need to be blubbering up a fit before we get to it.”

Casper sniffled and nodded with silent admiration for the gesture. The suit was a tattered tweed of fossil grey and his stubble crept upon like gluttonous Kudzu.

“Excuse me, sir, what is it that you actually do?”

“Well… how do I put it: I’m an independent contractor of sorts. I come in, make a deal that we all can profit from, and then I collect when its time. Sometimes I am later than I intend, but I always collect. Simple enough, right?”

“Right—I mean, yes sir.”

“No need for strict formalities, son. You can call me Carter, or, if you’re so inclined to maintain these courtesies of yours, I imagine I’d be able to settle on Mr. Goodhue. That work for you?”

“Yes, Mr. Goodhue.”

Kathy emerged from the stained double-doors handcrafted from custom oak and pressed her skirt flat before she approached Mr. Goodhue.

“He said that he didn’t have time to meet with anybody,” her grin was sly and provocative. “But, we do have an Opened Door policy here, and as you can see, the doors are wide open.”

“You’re a charm, hon. Here,” he handed her a folded piece of paper. “Write a company wide e-mail and let these folks know that the new Chief Operations Officer Casper Graves demands they all come on up and give a visit. Gonna be a busy day for us, I imagine.”

She stammered an obligatory confirmation and sauntered to her seat and Mr. Goodhue continued his nonchalant gait through the double doors, with Casper at his heels.

“James! Sorry I’m here later than I meant,” said Mr. Goodhue. “Now where the hell you going; sit your ass down.”

He was not a small man by any sorts. James Cornwell stood nearly six-three and weighed closer to two-sixty, and his body crashed into his seat like the roars of a thunderclap ten-feet above their heads.

“Looking for this?”

Mr. Goodhue held a chrome revolver in his hands when James opened his top draw of his L-shaped, mahogany desk. The fluorescent glow radiated from the ceiling’s circular fixtures and the seventy-two-inch flat screen silenced with a snap of Mr. Goodhue’s fingers. Visible sweat cascaded from the top of James’s bald head, making his stern, muscular face resembled a pale balloon caught in a Sun shower.

“You bastard,” he spat.

“Now that isn’t nice, is it? Hold on a second,” he turned to Casper. “Take a seat over yonder on that couch and just watch. Now where was I… yes, that’s right. Name calling to the one who gifted your success is a little childish. Honestly, I feel that it’s downright despicable. Don’t you think, Casper?”

“Yes Mr. Goodhue, very despicable.”

“He’s a smart one, he is. Think I’ll keep him along for a bit and show him the ropes. Kid has a good soul, he does… heh, now speaking of that. It’s time for me to reap what is owed, James.”

The flash a deafening light was gone before Casper knew it, and Mr. Goodhue plopped down in the leather high-back office chair.

“I’ll have someone come for this later,” he kicked the body clear across the room and the lifeless husk of James Cornwell rested in the corner like soiled linen. “We got some work to do today and then we’ll fly through the stars of twilight together with a few friends of mine. Does that sound good?”

Casper had only taken a few flights in his life, and he thought that’d he’d like nothing more than to embark around the world, and possibly, beyond.

“Yes Mr. Goodhue, I’d like that very much.”

“Excellent! You’re a Yes Man and that’s what I want. Now I think our next appointment is here. If you’d be so kind and get the door, son.”

I can relate to Mr. Goodhue. I’ve worked in a plethora of fields and most jobs had been independent gigs; to an extent. I certainly didn’t barter with the universal currency that are Souls, nor did I have this aura of radiating charisma that stopped others dead in their tracks. 

The one team orientated job I did have was in restaurants. It was easily the funnest and most grueling position I’ve ever had. I mostly ran a broiler–steaks, chicken, ribs, seafood. I enjoy grilling and I loved the intensity of fast paced cooking. 

I have yet to embrace myself in a writing community or group. I think that is going to be a realistic step in the future for myself. Writing is a solo gig, but I am learning that my input–and my opinions–alone may hinder my progress. 

Thoughts on Mr. Goodhue? He is a long running antagonist of mine that will be showing up from time to time. 

Women in Horror Month is upon us friends! Make sure to show your love and support on the Book of Faces and Twitter. 

I read Mercedes M. Yardley’s “Little Dead Read” last night, and I have to say, 

“Dammmmnnnnnnnn that was fucking awesome!”

It really was.

Not only did she win a well-deserved Bram Stoker for her novella adaption of this classic tale, but she also solidified her spot as an elite addition to the ranks of modern horror writers. She has other books and short stories that I can only imagine are as magical and frightening and raw like this tale. I certainly look forward to reading more of her work. 

Back to writing independently…. 

Working on your own is mentally taxing, and between self-promotion, finding suitable publishers, engaging in a community and editing on your own can seem like a mountain at times, right?


It’s a fucking unreachable peak sometimes, and all we can strive for is ascension beyond those seemingly endless plateaus along the way. 

But when you pace yourself, juggle the workload, and utilize the right tools available, you can ease some of those anxieties and gain ground towards the end goal of self-publishing or becoming published in the traditional sense.  

I created a new page on this site for anyone to use. It is a growing Resource! that I will be adding to that gives a bevy of information and links to a number of things and stuff, like:

  • Publishers in short fiction.
  • Writing communities. 
  • Social media aides for the shameless (like me!).
  • Formatting for proper manuscripts.

And more! 

Ghoul is hitting up the slopes tomorrow. I’m undecided if he is going to ski or board, but I am sure it will be silly nonetheless.

Thanks for reading friends, I hope you have a good one,

John Potts Jr

Tin Roof

“Old man Jefferson is up on that staging again, working away all by his lonesome,” said Mrs. Audibert to her husband. “I’d bet he could use a hand. Why don’t you go on over and help for a bit, Paul?”

For once, her approach was direct, and Paul appreciated the absence of passive-aggressive hints which normally persisted like a trapped cat in heat. He steps next to his wife, peering beyond the pane and fine mist of an afternoon Sun shower to their neighbor’s Neo-French style home across the road, and Paul sighs in heavy resentment.

“Alright, alright. I’ll see if the old curmudgeon needs a hand, then I’m coming back for kickoff either way, dammit.”

“That’s my Paul.”

She steps on her tippy-toes and pecks Paul’s cheek before he leaves with a disgruntled stride to their garage.

Blessings come in all forms, and the fact that the bed of his rusted Ford work truck contained the required tools necessary to mend an ailing home brought little solace to Paul. Every neighborhood has a grouch, and Kurt Jefferson held that position since 84’. He fires-up the Ford and backs out. Tires splash through dirty remnants of the early morning downpour and he lurches across the road and into Mr. Jefferson’s driveway.

Paul doesn’t get right out. He keeps the engine idling beside the staging and formulates a plan while that grouch climbs on all fours up the slopped pitch of his lower roof.

I ain’t getting out. He’s a nasty dickhead and I’m gonna just roll down the window and see what’s up.

“Hey,” Paul yells over the banging of metal on metal. “Mr. Jefferson, you hear me?”

The clawed end of the framing hammer clangs at the roof’s seams with a patang, tang-tang sound over and over. Paul steps out of the vehicle and reaches in with his hand, giving the horn a quick honk. Mr. Jefferson responds with a look of alarm; far cry to what Paul expected and this sends shivers over his fresh and unwarranted goosebumps that crawled like Kudzu injected with a cocktail of growth hormones, steroids, and high-grade fertilizer.

“Jesus, you jumped me,” said Mr. Jefferson as he slowly rests the hammer by his knee. “What can I do for you?”

Paul hesitates to answers. He knows the weary man atop that roof is Mr. Jefferson, or at least a grim specter-like version of the normally wiry and tough-as-nails older man who would greet folks with inhospitable finger profanities and shrewd, degrading remarks. Clouds parted above and the greyness of the late morning sky nearly dissipated in full, revealing more of the Sun and less of the it’s now fleeting shower. Paul gets a better look at Mr. Jefferson and notices that he is soaked, and guesses that it is from his strenuous labor.

“I came to see if you needed a hand, that’s all.”

“What I need is for the rain to stop. Can you do that?”

“I believe it already has, Mr. Jefferson.”

“Maybe from where you’re standing, but up here and in there,” he picks up his hammer and points inside with its head. “It is downpouring; always raining and raining and raining. Shit—everywhere I go it is the same. Can you make it stop? If not, then I don’t think there is no need for you to be here.”

I’d trade this crazy version of Mr. Jefferson for that old asshole any day. Oh well, can’t say that I didn’t offer. Time to get out of here before I catch whatever nonsense this old grouch has.

But Mr. Jefferson wasn’t done.

“And do you know what the worst of it is?”

“No I don’t think I do, but I’d best be—

“It’s the suffocating sound made from this roof. That’s all I hear; even in my sleep. Sure, it was pleasant—and had been for a time since I built this home with my own two-hands,” he raises those weathered and pruned hands to his face, then shakes his head and erupts in a low, cynical chortle. “But the rain never stops! I’ve been listening to the deafening madness for the past three months now. I even took my hearing aids out, thinking that would bring about some audible reprieve; only made it worse, I tell ‘ya. I’ve got a plan, though. Won’t be long now.”

Paul turns his head to the bulge covered by blue tarp adjacent to the staging and spies a bundle of shingles protruding from the bottom.

I can’t believe I am about to do this… shit.

“Hey I tell you what: come on down from there, take a break for the rest of the day, and I’ll replace that roof for you this week. You can help if you want, but I can get one of my boys to help. We’ll figure out the cost and I promise to do you right, Mr. Jefferson.”

He ponders the offer for a moment, and says, “I haven’t asked for any help in sixty years now and I don’t reckon I’m about to start. I appreciate the offer Paul, but you’d be smart to get on home now. Rain’s picking up again and I want to get as much done today as I can.”

Mr. Jefferson returns to his ceaseless patang, tang-tang and Paul goes home.

“Well, did you help him or not?” asks Mrs. Audibert.

“Nah, old fool’s stubborn as a tree stump. Can’t say I didn’t try, though.”

Nightfall engulfs the land, and the insufferable patang, tang-tang resonates throughout the neighborhood while the EMT’s load Mr. Jefferson’s body onto the stretcher, and into the ambulance. Newspaper calls it a heart attack brought on by over-exertion, and Paul can’t shake the idea of Mr. Jefferson drowning in rains gifted from the grave or those dark, otherworldly places that whisper nothing but ill tidings to mortals across the land.

Paul rips the tin sections of his own roof and begins to lay new shingling.

© Copyright John Potts Jr. All rights reserved.

I’ve had the pleasure of living in homes with metal roofs. Tranquility pulses in silent ripples with every rain droplet and I always look forward to that soothing cadence. My office has one above and  one right outside the window, so I am embraced by surround-sound awesomeness when it rains.

Poor old Mr. Jefferson, though, couldn’t find his happy-medium.

Fact is stranger—if not more powerful—than fiction.

My father-in-law is hands-down the strongest man I’ve known, and I would be surprised to meet another like him. He is traditional, fierce, and as tough as they come. Above all else he is a dedicated family man who has more love than you would expect behind that grizzled visage and harsh tone of his; he doesn’t mean either to be offensive, as that is just how he is.

When he was sixteen, he worked construction, and had an accident that would change him forever. He stepped into an open gearbox of a running excavator, and needed to have half of his foot amputated. That never stopped him, and I honestly don’t know what could.

With his foot-and-a-half, my father-in-law erected houses from start to finish, (he finished roofs, that’s for sure) built boats, and even when times became stressful and money slim, he’d hitchhike to town to shuck shrimp for a seafood company. He once told me—and this is not an alternative fact, either—that he fell from a roof, shattered his hip, and drove home first to burn one before going into the hospital. I guess it is a rite of passage to be a carpenter of his skills, as I have yet to meet his equal.

I asked his permission to merry my wife years ago, and I can honestly say that moment still reigns as the scariest five minutes of my life. His granite slate never waned and I for sure thought an ass-whoppin would’ve happened as I stammered in fear the entire time. He simply crushed my hand with his vice-grip handshake and I nearly fell to my knees in pain as I left with his blessing, and my life.

He cracks a smile ever now and again, and I bet I’ll see him up on a roof or splitting his own firewood at some point soon.

I have been busy with my short stories for publication. I am writing a piece called “That New Game Hype” for a horror podcast that I listen to and I hope they accept it. It deals with video game addiction and of course, monsters.

“A Good Thing” is in second draft and deals with a character who willingly broke the rules for his own advantage, and a dark stranger (who you’ve recently been introduced to) won’t leave until he hears why.

There will also be a new Ghoul Flash Fiction post tonight. I may get around to finishing why he gets his palm read, or I may not. Either way, look for that nonsense later on.

I talked about a free eBook containing “The Storm Within” and other tales posted here. That is soon to come, I swear. I am focusing on wrapping up the two short stories first, and I am shooting to have that released in a couple of weeks. I wanted to get it done this weekend, but I totally lapsed on the short window Psuedopod has for submissions and that is priority number one.

Until next time,

John Potts Jr