Above All That Is Random book club discussion

Wrtiting > Kyle's Writing And Poetry

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Here is a sneak peek at my new horror novel:

Here's A Riddle For You

May 1994

Robert James Etchinson scaled the long, narrow staircase leading to the third floor living quarters of the cemetery gatehouse. In his left hand he clutched an ancient book of poems, 'Maurine' by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, it's gilt-edged pages yellow and decaying after years of exposure to the bleak sadness of his mother's bedside. She has presented the rare volume to Robert on the eve of her death, which had come quietly in the middle of a chill autumn night as the claws of a hopeless cancer finally overcame her staunch resistance.

Now, a year after her death, Robert had come to appreciate the book of poems, the flawless rhyme and meter of a bygone era that lulled and consoled him with the gentle reassurance of a mother's caress. Poetry offered the seventeen year old peace...and diversion from the morbidity and frustration that were necessary evils of his thankless role as the dutiful son of a crippled cemetery caretaker.

Robert had risen with the dawn on this ordinary day, his eyes clouded and burning from lack of sleep after completing Homer's Iliad for his English class, and had marched as if to a solemn dirge down the gatehouse steps to the basement crematorium, where he had patiently read 'Maurine' as the white hot fires of the industrial oven reduced another corpse to a mound of chalk and bone.

When he reached the third floor landing, he placed the book on the oak parson's table beneath his mother's portrait and ushered himself through the musty Victorian dining room to the kitchen, where he hastily began preparing his father's breakfast.
Cracking two eggs in the skillet, which his father preferred 'over easy' with a dash of salt and no pepper, Robert winced when he heard the familiar sound of his father's wheelchair, creaking from the adjoining bedroom to the head of the table.

Daniel Etchinson was a stickler for punctuality, and on those rare occasions when Robert had failed to meet the unwavering exactitude of his father's schedule-one that revolved around mundane chores and regular meals-the day had invariably begun on a harsh note.

Why can't he understand I just want to lead a normal life? What's wrong with that? I've got to have a life of my own. I've got to get out of here. Just because he's stuck in a wheelchair doesn't mean I should have to vegetate along with him, Robert mused to himself as he started up the coffee.

"Riley didn't show up this morning," Robert announced matter of factly as he slid the plate and the clinking cup and saucer into position in front of his father. "I had to put the Ferguson woman in myself. God, I hope he's here in time to pack the urn. The service is at ten thirty."

"He'll be here," the old man croaked through thin colorless lips that were drawn in a perpetual frown across his weathered face.

Robert lowered himself into the high backed chair to the left of his father and snatched an orange from the bowl of fruit in the center of the table. Father and son were a study in contrast. The vibrant teal blue of Robert's eyes had, in his father, faded to a lifeless gray, and the square jaw that was once a hallmark of the Etchinson clan had eroded into bags of sagging flesh around the old man's throat.

Robert clearly favored his mother, whose attractive features had endured until virtually the eve of her death. His blue-black hair was thick and lustrous, combed back from his high forehead in soft waves. But it was the awkwardness of Robert's six foot two inch frame that prevented him from being considered a handsome man.

Robert stood a head over his father, whose spinal column had withered four inches after the crippling accident that had relegated him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The accident happened two years ago while Daniel Etchinson was rearranging the artificial grass mats that one of the workmen had carelessly placed over the fresh mound of soil beside an open grave. Cursing under his breath, he stooped down and grabbed the offending mat with both hands. But as he braced his feet on the ground and tugged, the edge of the grave gave way and he found himself catapulting backward into the open hole...where Riley had discovered him, his arms and legs twisted beneath him like a crumpled marionette, only moments before the mourners arrived.

Robert gathered the orange peelings into a small, neat mound on the table in front of him, broke off a wedge, and popped it into his mouth.

"You eat like a damned pig, " his father declared.

Robert winced. "Dad...I've been wondering. What would you think if I got a summer job in town?" Shifting in his seat, he tried to assume a casual expression. "Just waiting tables or something." He shrugged sheepishly.

His father continued chewing, then replied. "There's plenty of work to do around here."

Robert set the orange down on the table and folded his hands in front of it. "But Dad...I want to..."

"What you want to do," his father said with his mouth full, "and what you're going to do are two different things." He lifted the coffee cup to his lips with a trembling hand.

"But I'd be home every night," Robert insisted, a hint of exasperation creeping into his voice. "Nothing's gonna change. I'd still be here to take care of you. You know I'd never-"

"No!" his father snapped. "I need you here."

"Dad," Robert protested incredulously. "I'm only talking about a few days a week over in Daly City. You know I won't leave you alone."

"No need to go way the hell over to Daly City. Your place his here-with me"

Robert squirmed and looked at his father defiantly. "I'm getting a job, Dad. As soon as school's out."

Looking directly into Robert's eye for the first time this morning, Daniel Etchinson croaked. "You never done a day's work in your life and now you're telling me you want to get a job?"

"Dad," he said hesitantly, "please listen to me...I'm your son. I love you. I just want a chance to...strike out on my own a little bit...to be like the other kids." He sighed deeply, reached across the table and wrapped his fingers around the back of his father's hand. "Please try to understand me. I've been a prisoner of All Saint Hill for seventeen years. It's like..." His voice cracked. "It's like being dead."

Daniel Etchinson snatched his hand out from under Robert's, curled his bony finger around the edge of the table, and pushed the wheelchair away with a fierce scowl.

"You know what they call me in school Dad? Coma Man. They call me Coma Man! Pretty funny, huh? Well, I am in a coma...I feel like I'm dying." As his father spun around in the wheelchair, turning his back on him, Robert experienced a surge of pity for the man so bitterly trapped in a gleaming mesh of stainless steel and spoked wheels.

Robert placed a hand on his father's shoulder. "Your father worked here...." The words seemed to stick in his throat. He swallowed. "And you worked here...." He curled his fingertips into the soft flesh of his father's spindley shoulder. "But I can't. Don't you understand I get sick every time I see a line of black cars rolling through those gates. I want--"

"YOU WANT!," The old man spun around, his gray eyes flashing. "You want? You want what, you ungrateful little bastard? You're just like your mother. No loyalty! She couldn't wait to leave me."

Robert could no longer hold back the flood of tears. "Mother didn't leave you. She loved you...she gave you everything she had. This place killed her...just like you're killing me!"

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

My Favorite Year

You...reappearing in my mind;
You were right and I was blind-
But that was long ago.

Now...do I ever cross your mind?
Are your memories like mine?
Or have they let you go?

After all the loves I've been through,
All these years-
I had to go so far without you,
Now it's clear:

You were my favorite love,
That was my favorite year.
When we...we were young forever yesterday;
Fools and little children run away,
If we could go back there, would we stay?

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

The Tourist

Cities with their tourist prisons
Offer hypnotizing visions,
As art and history hide behind
A coin-slot with a master mind.
Quaint and pleasant country places
Wonder at the vacant faces
That never really seem to see
The awesome beauty of a tree.
They pack the prejudice of home
And take a trip to ancient Rome;
Its' majesty they cannot see,
But how impressed their friends will be!

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)


Time has always been unkind,
Leaving childhood behind,
Racing through those few short years
Of carefree hearts and happy tears.
Then time gives way to hopes and dreams,
And all of life's ambitious schemes;
The future holds such fruitful plans,
For brilliant minds and busy hands.
The child who goes to bed at night
Becomes a man at morning light;
Then time slows down to help him learn
That childhood days will not return.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Power Crap: One Man's Toilet Struggle

I was on the throne
for over an hour;
grunting and moaning-
I had no shit power.

My ass was wet
from flushing so much
I sure as hell didn't have
the Midas power crap touch.

Then it came
in a great brown rush;
it hit the bowl
and the water it did crush.

The toilet overflowed
with lumps of brown;
What could I do?
Except wipe myself and frown?

I wiped and wiped
and wiped some more;
trying to avoid
the mess on the floor.

I got the vacuum
and sucked the shit up;
Then Dad walked in
caught the hum and threw up.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Are You Really My Friend?

You say, 'Call any time!'
I've left messages,
You don't call back for days.
Are you really my friend?
You say you'll do things that never get done.
You set your guidelines,
And you stifle mine.
Are you really my friend?
We do nothing together outside these four walls.
Is this a problem of yours?
Or is it all mine?
Are you really my friend?
If I'm feeling sad or lonely,
Because you aren't there,
If I go to bed wondering whether you care,
Are you really my friend?
Are you anyone's friend?

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)


We scratch at endless fields of frozen earth,
And claw our way through beds of solid rock;
With bleeding hands we search for roots of worth,
And try to turn the hands back on the clock.
Obsessed with fading memories of the past,
We attempt to find the reason for our being;
And although the possibilities are vast,
It's the terrifying future we are fleeing.

message 8: by Ruth, Head mod (new)

Ruth | 903 comments Mod

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you, Ruth.

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