“The Believers of St. Patrick” is my take on the classic tale of the famous Robert Johnson story of how he sold his soul to the devil. In some versions of the story, you have a young protegie who seeks out either Johnson or someone similar and gets them to teach them the guitar, but with a price. I remember a movie called Crossroads starring Ralph Macchio and Joe Seneca. In the movie, Macchio’s character, Eugene Martone, is intrigued with the legends surrounding exactly how Johnson became so talented, as well as a famed “missing song” that was supposedly lost. In his quest for the missing song, he finds Joe Seneca’s character who calls himself Willie Brown. Martone discovers Brown was a long time friend of Johnson’s and the adventure begins. This movie has stuck with me and I felt another version could be told in an entirely different way.
It was Friday night in April when the storm blew into the mountains of Havensburg, North Carolina. I was rolling out pizza dough for an extra large pepperoni and mushroom pizza at The Pizza House when I looked out the kitchen plate glass window and saw Thomas. He was standing on the street corner in front of Al’s Hardware in a downpour of rain.
Thomas was, I guessed, about 65 years old. He was an old black guy with a grizzled face of facial hair wearing a definitely out of date chocolate brown three-piece suit with winged loafers. Thomas was standing perfectly still. With eyes closed, his face looked upwards at the sky. You couldn’t tell from where I was standing, but I knew he was singing.
Thomas always was singing. With the most perfect tenor voice and a hint of an Irish accent, he would croon to whoever would listen. He could sing anything and knew the words to any song old or current, but he would always make the song his own and sing it his way. People would always stop and listen and enjoy his musical gift. Most would want to give him a few dollars or whatever change they had in their pockets in appreciation for the enjoyment he had given them, but Thomas would always give back the money and pleasantly say, “No thank you.” You could always tell the people who were from out of town. The people from Havensburg would just walk past Thomas and go on with whatever they had planned for that day.
The lightning flashes and I notice Thomas is illuminated in an eerie silver glow. His hair glistens with rain and his clothes are soaked. There are no cars on the street or people walking down the sidewalks. As I watch Thomas, I notice how hard he is singing. I can’t hear the words of the song, but I can clearly see his face. It seems like he is crying.
I pour tomato sauce on the pizza dough, sprinkle on some cheese, and throw a few slices of pepperoni and mushrooms on top before placing the pizza in the oven. I eat a couple of slices of pepperoni and look back out the window.
“Look at that lunatic out in the rain!” said my boss Steve. “Somebody needs to get that guy some help!” Steve walks away from the window and laughs.
I get off work around 11:00 and have to wash my hands three times in order to get rid of the green pepper and onion smell. Thomas had disappeared about an hour ago and I couldn’t help but wonder where he went to. It would make me feel better if he was at St. Peter’s shelter for the homeless. Thomas usually slept at St. Peters and it was the closest thing he could call home. I once asked him if he had any relatives he could stay with, but he told me they were all dead. If we had room at our house, I would insist that he stay with my family; however, my dad is struggling to raise the ostriches, keep our farm in business, and provide housing for a group of migrant workers who have been working on the farm for the past two years.
“What’ cha doing tonight?” asked Paul who is my coworker at The Pizza House. Paul used to be Havensburg High School’s star basketball player until he broke his right leg in a mountain climbing accident last year. As a result, his speed and agility on the court has slowed down because of a bad knee. Even though he was cut from the team at the beginning of the season, he can still beat me in a game of one on one.
“I’m going home to read. It’s too nasty outside to do anything,” I said to Paul.
“School work on a Friday night?” asked Paul. “You’re a senior now David! We’re not supposed to have a lot of school work. We’re supposed to have fun! You, my brother, need to come with me to Havensburg College and do some drinking at my brother’s fraternity. Why don’t you come along with me?”
“That’s okay,” I replied. “Maybe I will next time. I really don’t want to drink tonight.”
I’m basically a boring guy when it comes to social events. As a matter of fact, I really don’t have any friends just acquaintances. I much rather play my guitar with Thomas, read Mickey Spillane novels, or watch Star Trek. I’m counting on good grades to get me the hell out of town so I can go to a real university and not Havensburg College. Now don’t get me wrong. I love Havensburg, but I just want to get a good education. The chances of getting a job with a diploma from Havensburg College is very slim. My plans are to attend North Carolina State University and earn a degree in veterinary medicine.
“Have it your way Dave,” said Paul slapping me on the back. “Bye Steve!”
“Make sure you clocked out your time card!” yelled Steve from his little office in back of the kitchen.
Steve had stacked all the nights earnings into individual piles of ones, fives, tens, and twentys in his office. He carefully added each dollar and coin on a pocket calculator before dropping the money into a night deposit bag labeled Havensburg Savings and Loan in gold lettering.
After we lock up the restaurant, I walk with Steve to the Havensburg Savings and Loan across the street so he could drop off the deposit bag. The rain had stopped, but the sky was still filled with black puffy clouds that partially hid the glow of a full moon.
“You need a ride home?” asked Steve.
“No that’s okay. I’ll walk since its not raining.”
“All right,” said Steve. “Are you working tomorrow night?”
“No. You have me scheduled for Tuesday night.”
“Oh,” said Steve. “Well have a good evening.”
“You do the same,” I reply.
I enjoy walking, since my house is only three miles outside of town. I like living in a small town. Its really nice. Everybody knows everybody, just like one big family. I think its kind of neat to see Police Chief Greg Williams walk past each store every evening, shine his flashlight inside the windows, and check to see if the front doors are locked. I can’t think of any other town where a policeman or sheriff checks for locked doors. As a matter of fact, I usually see Sergeant Williams when I get off work, but tonight, however, I didn’t see him at all.
Downtown Havensburg is basically two major streets, Oak Street and Downes Street. Directly in the center of town, where the two roads cross, are the Havensburg Town Hall, the Havensburg Fire & Rescue Station, the Havensburg Police Department, and the Havensburg Library. Businesses, such as The Pizza House, where I spend most of my time making pizzas, Capricorn Bookstore, Sam’s Bar and Grill, The Scissors and Shampoo, Steel Insurance, and the Country Kitchen line both sides of Oak Street. Huge oak trees stand in front of these stores and stretch their limbs out over the road. In the spring time, when the leaves grow out, it seems as if you are entering a gigantic green tunnel. On Downes Street, you can find the Havensburg Herald, Al’s Hardware, Helen’s Dry Cleaners, Ted’s Groceries, the Havensburg Service Station, Family Dollar, Ma & Pa’s Video Station, Susan’s Flower & Boutique, and the Havensburg Baptist Church. A little further down the road is St. Peter’s Catholic Church and shelter for the homeless and the Havensburg Hospital.
Most of the residents of Havensburg work at the only factory in the area called Jackson’s Pride Inc. Built about five miles outside the city limits on Oak Street, Jackson’s Pride makes a popular whiskey that has been made in Havensburg since the early twenties. The whiskey was invented by a tobacco farmer named Paul Jackson in his backyard still. He use to give the whiskey away to his friends until an entrepreneur in Havensburg bought the recipe from him, as well as the rights to use the name Jackson, for a tiny sum of $5,000. No one knows what happened to Paul Jackson, but I think its kind of fitting that his name has established itself as one of the most popular whiskies in the world.
Jackson’s Pride is the Havensburg’s main source of income. Ten years ago, Jackson’s Pride Inc. built Havensburg College on a large plot of land beside the company, as a gift in appreciation for the town’s loyalty. A lot of people in the town objected to the idea of a college being built. They believed Havensburg would lose its small town atmosphere. A lot of fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Roy Rodger’s have been built, but I think the town is still the same.
It was surprisingly cold outside for April. The wind picked up and the chill causes my skin to break out with goose bumps. I then hear the sound of a guitar and follow the music around Downes Street to find Thomas sitting on the street curb in front of Ma & Pa’s Video Shack. He looked tired and his clothes were soaking wet. I listen as he sang:
“I sung a song with the devil
So he wouldn’t get my soul.
I sung a song with the devil
So he wouldn’t get my soul.
Oh Lord! I have to beat that devil
So he can’t get my soul!”
Thomas stopped singing when he noticed me. He reaches into a pocket inside his jacket and pulls out a stick of gum. He offers me a piece, but a politely decline. Thomas unwraps the gum and puts it into his mouth. He then sits down on the curb and begins to fold the paper and tin foil the gum came wrapped in. Thomas looked at me. “Have you ever heard of an ichneumon fly?”
“No,” I reply confused.
“It’s an insect that lays eggs near the eggs of other bugs so that its babies can feed off them. Do you believe in monsters boy?”
“When I was little, I use to think dead people were under my bed,” I said. I sit beside Thomas and smell alcohol on his breath.
“Dead people? That sounds familiar. What if I were to tell you that monsters are real.”
“Depends on what kind of monsters. Are you talking about serial killers or monsters from Dracula’s Castle?
“I’m talking ’bout things in a nightmare.” Thomas waved his right hand in a wide arch in front of him. “There are monsters everywhere. Things we just don’t understand. Every town has a secret boy, an underlining that is not meant to be seen. There’s an evil in Havensburg. A curse has been laying over the town like one of those ichneumon eggs. It’s eventually going to eat us up.”
“What are you talking about Thomas? Why don’t you go to St. Peter’s and go to bed? You need some rest.”
“Can’t do that,” said Thomas. “I’ve got to sing. I’ve got to sing more than ever now.” Thomas then pulled out an 8oz bottle of Jackson’s Pride out his right outside coat pocket, unscrewed the cap, and took a long drink.
The town was eerily empty. It was as if everyone in the town had left. At this time of night, I would usually see at least a few cars driving down the street and hear either a dog barking or even a train whistle. I heard nothing.
To make matters even more strange, I notice the drama teacher from Havensburg High School, Candy Lane, across the street. She is peering inside Susan’s Flower & Boutique. Thomas also sees her.
“Look over there,” I said. “It’s Candy Lane. What’s she doing in town at this hour?”
Candy Lane is Havensburg’s newest resident. She moved to Havensburg over a year ago from Los Angeles to teach drama at Havensburg High School and theater at Havensburg College. When the people of Havensburg found out she use to make X-rated movies while attending the University of California, a small group of parents wanted to kick her out of town. The group called themselves PAP (Parents Against Pornography). PAP said it was immoral to have someone like Candy Lane teaching drama to their children. I guess they thought Candy Lane was going to turn the students into porn stars. The argument was taken directly to the town council and it was decided that PAP had no right to threaten her. They probably felt sorry for her, because she couldn’t find a better teaching job than in Havensburg. I once read an interview with Candy Lane in one of my dad’s dirty magazines. Ms. Lane claimed she made adult movies to explore her artistic freedom.
Candy Lane may be artistically free, but I think her manners could sure use some improving. She always rushes around town with an attitude. I’ve even seen her push people away who have asked for her autograph. I think her mean spirited temper adds to her exotic looks. She is six feet tall, has olive toned skin, long black hair, and heart shaped lips. I know this is sexist of me, but when I see her, I always think of her in the role she played in the adult film Amazon Woman Get Your Gun. I secretly rented the movie when my parents went out to dinner one Saturday night and I haven’t ever regretted it.
“Get up boy,” said Thomas.
“I said get up. We need to go!” Thomas stood and began pushing me in the opposite direction of Candy Lane, towards St. Peter’s.
“What’s the matter with you Thomas? You’re acting as if she is a monster.”
“She is,” said Thomas.
I turn around and see Candy Lane crossing the street. She is coming towards us. “Maybe she wants to talk.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” said Thomas.
“I’m not in a talking mood,” said Thomas. “Get your butt moving.”
“Thomas, I’m taking a drama class with her next semester. I personally don’t know her. Let’s just say hello.”
“No,” said Thomas. He continued pushing me.
“Come on. She’s right behind…“ I look behind me and find that Candy Lane has disappeared. “Where did she go?”
“Move your ass boy!” said Thomas. “We need to get out of here now!”
We both begin a slow jog down Downes Street and I realize Thomas is heading me towards my house. “You got to explain to me what is going on!”
“There are some things in this world that don’t need explaining. This situation is one of them.
I couldn’t understand what had happened to Candy Lane. I especially couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Thomas and why I didn’t see any other people around town.
Thomas and I arrived at my house in no time at all.
“Do you want me to get the car and give you a ride somewhere?” I asked Thomas.
“No, I’ll be all right. You get inside. I’ll see you later.”
I didn’t move. I wanted answers.
“Move now!” said Thomas.
I hesitantly walk to my front door and watch Thomas walk off into the darkness.
Since my parents were already in bed, I quietly enter the house and went straight to the bathroom to take a shower. After showering, I go to my room, put on a pair of running shorts, and fall into my bed. I usually go to the kitchen after working at The Pizza House and eat whatever is left over from my parent’s dinner. But I didn’t feel like eating. All I wanted to do was lay in my bed, stare at the dead bugs in my ceiling light fixture, and try to figure out what had spooked Thomas.
Dead Ostriches and Lycanthropy
I woke up around 7:00 am and found I had fallen to sleep with the light on. My mother was downstairs in kitchen talking to my dad. I could hear bacon sizzling and smell coffee brewing. Saturday mornings are always the same. Mom cleans the house, while dad and I work outside. I either help clean the cow and ostrich barns, fix the tractor, which always seemed to be breaking down, and, if the tractor is running, cut the grass, all 32 acres. I rise out of my bed with a growling stomach and look out the window, hoping for rain. It wasn’t raining. Dreading a work filled day, I slowly dress in some faded blue jeans, a Batman t-shirt, boots, and a Carolina Falcons baseball cap. When I got to the kitchen, I was surprised to see two policemen talking with my parents. The first thing I thought about was Thomas.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Your father found a dead ostrich this morning,” said my mom.
“Why did you have to call the police?”
“Because the ostrich was butchered son,” replied my dad. “It looks as if someone deliberately killed the animal.”
“What time did you get home last night David?” questioned one of the policemen. His name tag said Mark Bishop.
“Around 11:30,” I replied.
“Were you with any friends?” asked the same cop.
“I had just gotten off work at The Pizza House.”
“Did you see anybody strange hanging around town or your house?”
I thought about Thomas and Candy Lane. “No,” I replied.
The policemen hung around the kitchen for a little while longer and then went outside with my dad to see the dead ostrich.
I ate a breakfast of pancakes and bacon and helped my mother clean up before walking out to the cow pasture. My dad was in the barn working on the tractor and I knew he was getting reading to haul away the cow carcass. He had set out some rope and two shovels outside the barn. I could tell my dad was upset at the loss of his cow, because he was slamming his tools into the toolbox. When my dad gets mad he becomes silent for long periods of time and tends to throw things around.
“David take that rope and those two shovels out to the bird. I’ll be along in a minute,” said my dad.
I picked up the coiled rope, threw it over my right shoulder, and carried both shovels out to the pasture.
I would not have been able to tell that the carcass was an ostrich if I had accidentally walked up to it. The ostrich lay right beside the pasture fence and I couldn’t help but pretend it may have died trying to get out. A smell of rotting flesh had attracted hundreds of flies and yellow jackets that crawled around the cow’s mouth and inside its wounds. The ostrich ‘s stomach and intestines had spilled onto the ground and its neck had been torn wide open. It seemed as if an animal or a pack of animals had killed the bird; however, animals don’t make clean cuts. It looked as if someone used a sharp knife. I briefly wondered if the animal had still been alive when it was being ripped up.
My dad drove the tractor up to the cow and I began helping him dig a hole a few feet away. The ostriches in the pasture next to us seemed edgy and stood close together far away from their eight-foot metal fence.
As I began digging, I noticed the morning sunlight was reflecting off a gold object in the grass. I bend down, pick up the object, and find it is a writing pen. The pen isn’t just any regular writing pen. It is gold plated with the name Mayor Henry Richards engraved on the side. What was the mayor’s pen doing out in my dad’s field? I immediately decide the pen may have been dropped by one of the policemen and put it into my pants pocket.
After helping my dad bury the ostrich I take an early lunch break and tell my dad I’m going into town for a hamburger. I find Thomas next to the fire station. He seems a lot calmer than previous night.
“What was wrong with you last night?” I asked Thomas.
“Hey David!” said Thomas. “I was only a little tired. How’s ya daddy doing?”
“He’s doing all right. Something killed one of our cows last night. He’s real upset”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Thomas. “Your daddy is a good man. Bad things shouldn’t happen to a man like your daddy.” Thomas took a handkerchief out of his pants pocket and wiped his forehead. “He saved my life once you know.”
I was surprised, because my dad never mentioned anything about it. “My dad? When was this?”
“It was before you was born, said Thomas. “Around 1962. I was heading home one afternoon when a tobacco truck came off the road and hit me. Your daddy was in the passenger seat. The driver of the truck took off running. Something about him not having any insurance. Your daddy then took me to the hospital and got me all fixed up.”
Thomas then froze. A frown immediately formed on his face. “I wish that woman would leave this town.”
I notice Thomas was once again talking about Candy Lane. We watch her walk towards us, her hateful stare is directed at Thomas.
“Good afternoon Ms. Lane!” yelled Thomas. Instead of running away, Thomas began singing.
As Thomas sang, Candy Lane closed her eyes and gasped as if she stepped on a nail. At first, I thought it might have been Thomas’s singing that bothered her, but it was something else. It had to be. Ms. Lane stopped only briefly and then continued on her way down the street.
“You can’t even get me during the sunlight!” yelled Thomas between laughs. “The Muse is too strong!”
“What that is all about?”
“She’s one of them boy. Almost everybody in this town is one of them.”
“One of those fly egg things?” I ask.
“Werewolves,” said Thomas softly. I waited for him to start laughing, but he didn’t even crack a smile.
I start to laugh. “Are you kidding? You’re telling me everybody in Havensburg can turn into a blood thirsty wolf during a full moon?”
“SSHH!” said Thomas. He immediately places his hand over my mouth. “It doesn’t have to be a full moon in order for some of these creatures to change. The strongest werewolves, the ones that have been around the longest, can transform anytime they choose, night or day.”
“And everybody can do this?”
“Not everyone,” said Thomas. “Werewolves are hard creatures to find. You can find them by some of the little traits they have. They think they’re hiding, but old Thomas knows.”
I decide to play along with Thomas. “What are the traits?”
Thomas got real close to me. “You must first stare into their eyes. The eyes of a werewolf are usually speckled yellow. The stronger the wolf, the more yellow the eyes. A werewolf usually do not have an appetite during the day, because it always gorges itself on raw flesh at night. In human form, werewolves are always tired and sore because of their vigorous nighttime activities and its skin never sweats, even during the hottest days of summer.”
Thomas’s story was better than most horror movies. I thought about what Thomas was telling me and decided it could become a terrific short story. “Are they around now?”
“They’re everywhere,” said Thomas. “I haven’t quite been able to figure out how many there are, but ever since Candy Lane came to town, they’ve multiplied.”
“Ms. Lane?” Thomas had to be drunk again. “Are you telling me she is a werewolf?”
“She’s one of them,” said Thomas with a stone expression. “She’s one of the powerful ones, the carrier of the seed. Its kind of hard fighting a monster like her.”
“How do you fight monsters like her?”
“With music boy!” said Thomas. “That’s the reason I’ve been playing my guitar for all these years. The magic of the Muse has been protecting this town from the curse. My great-grandmother gave me the power when I was eighteen, after the day Mr. Michael Cox killed my parents.”
“Who is Michael Cox?”
“Mr. Cox was an old werewolf from Ireland. His ancestors are directly related to a man called King Veretius who was once the King of Wales. Veretius was turned into a wolf by St. Patrick because of his heartless rule over the peasants in his kingdom. A lot of people believe the curse of the werewolf began with Veretius and if he is ever found and killed, the curse will be lifted forever. ”
“Are you saying this ancient wolf is still alive?”
“Oh yes,” said Thomas. “That is why there are still werewolves around. If Veretius is killed then the curse will be broken.”
“Okay. Well what about Mr. Cox?”
“Mr. Cox moved to Havensburg in 1930 from Ireland. He was one of the original wolves Veretius made. The residents of Havensburg hardly ever saw any foreigners and were immediately drawn to Mr. Cox’s charm and humor. He said he was a tailor who wanted to escape the harsh conditions of his country and live the American dream. Mr. Cox said Havensburg reminded him of his home in Ireland. The whole town accepted him with open arms, except my great-grandmother. She knew better. My great-grandmother learned about these creatures before she was brought over to the United States as a slave. I would often listened to her tell stories about monsters who would devour babies and children. She taught me a person’s soul could become possessed by the spirit of a wild animal.”
“Why did Mr. Cox move to Havensburg?”
“He was being hunted by a group of people from Ireland called the “Believers Of St. Patick.” The members of this group were dedicating themselves, in the name of God, to wiping out all things evil. Mr. Cox had escaped from a prison in Ireland, where he was scheduled to be put to death by the “Believers Of St. Patrick.” He eventually found his way to North Carolina and decided to settle in a quiet town where he could lay low and gain strength. The seclusive location of Havensburg attracted him.
“Several members of the “Believers Of St. Patick” found their way to Havensburg, two years later. By that time, the pack had become incredibly large. Those days were dark times. Mr. Cox had grown powerful and practically ran Havensburg, after buying the recipe for Jackson’s Pride from Paul Jackson. My great-grandmother helped the “Believers Of St. Patrick” kill Mr. Cox.”
“Music. She explained to me how the magic of music can subdue a wild creature. She said the power of the Muse is like the songs of angels. A person who harnesses the Muse can halt the march of evil and even destroy it.”
“The Muse is a power?” I asked. “I thought it was just a phrase.”
“Oh no,” said Thomas. “Haven’t you ever listened to a song or watched someone sing and it made you happy or sad?”
“Yes. Sometimes when I hear you play.”
“That’s because I have the magic,” said Thomas. “The magic of the Muse! Mr. Cox was hunted down with the same power and shot with a silver bullet.”
“What happened to the other werewolves?”
“They were also shot with silver bullets. Without a pack leader, they were confused and easy to kill.”
I was now very interested in what Thomas had to say even though I still didn’t believe him. “Are there any other ways to kill a werewolf?”
“A werewolf can be killed in three ways,” said Thomas. “You could kill Veretius, as I stated earlier, trick them into devouring the pedals of a rose, or use anything made of silver.”
“How do roses kill a werewolf?”
“Remember, a werewolf is an unholy creature. The rose resembles the blood of Christ and its thorns are like the wreath of thorns Christ died wearing. Keep your eyes open boy. You may have to help me. Do you feel like playing a song?”
“Not really,” I reply. “I got to be getting back to the farm soon and finish helping my dad. Are you hungry? I’m going over to Sam’s and get a cheeseburger.”
“No thank you,” said Thomas. “Had a big breakfast at the church this morning. You go eat and I’ll see you later.”
Sam’s Bar and Grill is famous around town for making a cheeseburger with three think patties of beef called the “Sam’s Triple.” The restaurant is fairly small with only two small dining rooms and a bar room off to one side. Sam’s is a sports bar that has become the local hangout of the HavensburgCollege students. Photographs, shirts, baseball bats, caps, and hockey sticks of different sports heros hang on the walls, such as a photo signed by Larry Bird and a cycling cap signed by Greg Lemond. Sam Eastman, the owner of the bar, is always traveling to a big sporting event with the purpose of getting something signed. I personally think over half of the autographs are fake.
I walk directly to the bar so I can give the bartender my take out order.
“Hey David!” said Mike the bartender. “Have a seat!”
“Thomas is acting rather strange today Mike.”
“I’ve noticed that too,” said Mike. “He told me a story about Havensburg being full of werewolves! Isn’t that crazy?”
“He told you?”
“Sure did,” said Mike. “I think he’s told over half the town.”
“Man, I’m beginning to worry about him Mike,” I said. “He told me he used music to control werewolves.”
“That kind of sounds like Greek mythology,” said Mike.
“Yea. I know what you mean. I can’t understand him either.”
“No,” replied Mike. “It sounds like a story from Greek mythology. Have you ever read about Apollo?”
“No,” I said. “I only read a lot of Mickey Spillane novels.”
“You must try reading some Greek mythology. Those stories are really entertaining. Apollo is the god of music, medicine, and poetry. He had a son named Orpheus whose power of music was even stronger. Orpheus also had a special interest in stringed instruments. Whenever he played the lyre, wild beasts succumbed to him and trees would uproot themselves to be closer to the music.”
I smiled and shook my head. “You are a true bartender Mike. You know everything!”
“I just read a lot.”
“But really. I’m worried about Thomas. As long as I’ve known him, he’s never acted like this.”
“He’s just getting old,” said Mike. “My grandfather use to rant and rave about leprechauns trying to steal his money. Hey, you want a “Triple”?
“Sure do,” I replied. “With everything, including jalapenos.”
“Are you going to eat it here or is it to go?”
“I’ll eat here.”
Mike takes my order and then goes back into the kitchen to deliver my order to the cook. I turn around and watch the big screen television sitting against a wall in the corner of the room and see that a tennis match is on. There is only one other person in the bar. Sitting in the back of the room is Candy Lane. She has an open newspaper laying on the table in front of her.
“Hello David,” said Candy.
“How do you know my name?”
“I’ve heard your name mentioned around HavensburgHigh school,” said Candy. “Your friend Paul is in my class. He tells me your interested in drama.”
I walk over to her table.
“Please sit down,” said Candy.
Pulling up a chair, I sit down. Candy Lane folds the newspaper and puts it under her chair. She is wearing a blue skin tight mini-dress and leather sandals. Her long black hair is tied up into a ponytail. She is not wearing any jewelry and doesn’t have on any makeup. Her dark skin is incredibly soft looking, almost sleek in appearance, and I notice her eyes are green with bright speckled spots of yellow.
“I am interested in taking some drama classes.”
“Do you want to be actor?”
“No ma’am. I’m more interested in medicine. I’d like to study to be a veterinarian.”
“A vet!” said Candy. “How appropriate. I know a lot of animals who can use a good doctor. Would you like to open a practice here in Havensburg?”
“No ma’am. I kinda want to get out of this place if you know what I mean.”
“Please David,” said Candy. “Don’t call me ma’am. I’m not that old! You can call me Candy.”
My heart begin to race just a little. “Are you hungry? I’m getting a hamburger.”
“No thank you,” said Candy. “I had a big dinner last night.” She smiled at me.
“What are you doing inside a dark bar? Its a beautiful day outside,” I said.
“Yes it is,” said Candy. “It’s a wonderful Second Sabbat.” Candy smiled.
I wanted to find out what a Second Sabbat was, but I decided to ignore it.
“I come here a lot to get out of the sun, have a seltzer water, and read the newspaper,” said Candy. She moved her shoulders a little and rubbed them.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’m fine. I just exercised a little to much this morning and I’m a little sore.”
“Hey I apologize about last night. Thomas can act kind of crazy sometimes.”
Candy Lane stared at me.
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
“Don’t you ever mention that fool’s name in front of me!” said Candy.
“I’m sorry I made you upset,” I replied. “But Thomas is my friend.”
“Listen David,” said Candy. “I’m sure he has told you about me and his mission in life. You tell your friend its my turn to seek revenge. Take my advice. . .” Candy grabs my left arm and pulls me toward her and whispers in a harsh tone. “Stay out of my way!”
I couldn’t break her grip on my arm. Her eyes became more yellow and I could have sworn I saw fangs.
“Here’s your burger David,” said Mike. “Did you want ketchup with it?”
Candy let me go and got up from the table and left the bar.
Mike sat the burger on the table. “What did you say to her?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “She’s in a bad mood about something.”
“Hey your arm is bleeding!” said Mike.
I looked at my arm and saw that Candy’s nails had made three deep gashes. Blood was beginning to trickle upwards. I took some napkins and pressed it on my wounds.
“I’ll get you some band-aids and antiseptic,” said Mike. “I will never understand women.”
Mike gave me a first aid kit and I fixed up my arm. After eating my hamburger, I paid Mike and went outside.
“Hey!” yelled Mike. “You forgot your guitar!”
“Thanks for telling me Mike. I’ve got so many things on my mind.”
As I walked out of the bar, I could have sworn I heard Mike wishing me a good Second Sabbat.
The sky had grown dark once again and the wind picked up. I saw a large crowd of people across the street and heard Thomas’s guitar. The first thing I thought of was Thomas must really be playing something good. I wasn’t expecting to see him in such a bad condition.
Thomas had terror in his eyes and spit was forming at the corners of his mouth as he yelled a jumble of words and sentences. People were pointing and laughing. I immediately ran over to Thomas and tried to get the crowd of people to leave him alone.
“What are you people staring at? Go away!”
I put my guitar on the sidewalk and took Thomas by the shoulders and began to shake him. “Thomas you’ve got to straighten up!”
He started to scream.
“Thomas please!” I pleaded.
Thomas still screamed and then he suddenly stopped.
“I can’t stop them,” said Thomas. “The wolves are coming!”
Two Deputy officers from the Havensburg Police Department, Patrick King and Mark Bishop, eventually came around the corner in their police car. They dispersed the crowd and put Thomas in back of the car.
“Are you arresting him?” I asked.
“No,” said Deputy King. “We’re taking him to the hospital. He’ll be fine.”
Deputy Bishop put Thomas’s guitar in the case and put it in the trunk of the car and then said to me, “Have a nice Second Sabbat.”
I watched the police car drive off. What in the hell is a Second Sabbat? I thought.
I was both embarrassed and scared for Thomas. It hurt me to see a friend in such emotional pain when there is nothing you can do about it. I then felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to see Mayor Richards standing behind me.
“We’re going to get him lots of help,” said the Mayor.
“Good afternoon Mr. Richards,” I reply. “I’m really worried about him. You wouldn’t believe what he thinks.”
“What does he think?”
I looked at the Mayor and noticed his eyes were a bright yellow.
“Is there anything wrong?” asked the Mayor. “What does Thomas think?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “I forget.” I then remember the pen and pull it out of my pocket. “This belongs to you. I found it earlier this morning in my dad’s field of all places.”
Mayor Richards quickly took the pen from my hand. “Thank you David. I better be going now. Tell your dad I said hello and have a good. . .”
“Second Sabbat?” I replied.
“Why yes!” said the Mayor. He smiled and walked away.
The wind felt as if it suddenly had gotten colder. Standing across the street in front of Sam’s Bar and Grill, silently watching me, was Candy Lane. I increased my walking pace and began paying more attention to the people around me.
It rained all afternoon and began hailing when I sat down for dinner at the kitchen table with my parents. The phone then rang and my mother got up to answer it.
“Hello?” said my mother. “Hi Cindy. No. I have not seen him. Let me get David and ask him.” My mother then put down the phone. “David, Paul’s mother is on the phone.”
I answered the phone. “Hello?”
“David have you seen Paul?”
“Not today Mrs. Jacob. The last time I saw him was when he left work last night. He said he was going to a party at HavensburgCollege with his brother.”
“Yes. I know. Jim said Paul left the party around 12:30 am. He never came home and I thought he may be with you.”
“I’m sorry Mrs. Jacob, but I haven’t seen him at all. I’ll keep my eyes open.”
“Thank-you David. I’m just getting worried. I could kill that boy!”
“I’ll call you soon as I know anything.”
“Your welcome Mrs. Jacob.” I hung up the phone and returned to the kitchen table.
“Where in the world is Paul?” asked my mother.
“You got me,” I replied. “He’s probably found a girl or something.”
“I remember the last girlfriend he had,” said my dad.
“Now Ben behave,” said my mother.
I took a bite of my pork chop and saw an ostrich walk by the kitchen window. Running behind the bird were several migrant workers desperately trying to catch it.
“An ostrich is out again!”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” said my dad. He saw the ostrich run by the kitchen window and jumped up from the table.
My mother got two raincoats out of the closet and caught me before I left the house. “Tell your father to put this on and both of you be careful. I don’t feel like taking either one of you to the hospital and have explain you were kicked in the head by an ostrich.”
“No problem,” I replied.
When I got home from the hospital later that night, I called my mother at the hospital room where my helped my dad was staying. He had to get 28 stitches in his forehead and a broken arm set. The doctor had told us there was nothing to worry about, but she did advise us to get rid of the ostriches.
“Do you think dad will sell the ostriches when he gets better?”
“If he doesn’t, I will,” said my mother. “Those things have caused nothing but trouble. Don’t expect me home tonight dear. I want to be here when your father wakes up and tell him how stupid he is.”
I started laughing. “Don’t yell at him too much.”
“I won’t. I hope he’ll be able to get some sleep tonight. There’s a lot of commotion going on around here. It seems your friend Thomas left the hospital without being released. He must have really been sick to get the entire hospital staff so wound up. What did he do this afternoon?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Mom, does any of the hospital staff have yellow eyes?”
“No,” said my mother. “What does that mean?”
” I’m just talking. I’ll see you tomorrow. Love you.”
“Love you too. . . and have a nice Second Sabbat David.”
I immediately slammed down the phone and waited for my mother to call back and ask what was wrong, but she didn’t. Walking to the bookshelf, I took out the dictionary and looked up the word Sabbat.
Sab•bat, n. WITCHES’ SABBATH. [1645-55; sabbat SABBATH]
“What in the world does that mean?” I said to myself. I then read the definition for Sabbath.
Sab•bath, n. the first day of the week, Sunday, observed by most Christians in commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ.
I was still confused.
I went to the living room window, sat down in my father’s Lazy-Boy chair, and watched the lighting make electrical patterns in the sky. Each flash illuminated the entire backyard in a soft gray light. I then saw a figure running across my backyard. Between the shadows of an apple tree and the toolshed next door, I saw Thomas running towards the woods directly behind my house. It looked as if he was chasing something. I sat still for awhile, until my curiosity quickly took over and I quickly got dressed. Grabbing a raincoat and flashlight, I ran out the house after Thomas.
I knew, if I didn’t run as fast enough I would probably lose Thomas in the woods. The beam of my flashlight bobbed up and down, piercing a fog which hung low over the wet ground. Besides the sound of thunder and the wind, there were no other noises.
I tripped over fallen trees and roots that lay under thin coatings of branches and pine straw and soon found myself in an area I knew well. When I was a small kid, I use to come out this way and play at an old, abandoned church. It was called The United Methodist Gospel Congregation. The church burned down a few years ago and I remember the difficulty the local fireman had in getting back to the church to put out the fire. The entire structure was now a burnt skeleton of cinder blocks, broken windows, and rotten wood. I didn’t have to look hard before I found Thomas hiding behind a clump of overgrown azalea bushes.
“Thomas?” I asked crouching low to the ground. I shined my flashlight directly into Thomas’s face. “Thomas, what in the world are you doing?”
The old man squinted in the beam of light. “Get down boy! Turn that damn flashlight off!”
I got on my knees and stared at the old man. “What are you doing Thomas?”
“I’m hunt’n boy. The wolves run abound in Havensburg and it’s going to take a tired old man to get rid of them. I’ve tried to avoid this, but avoiding something this big is like trying to leave a rotten tooth in your mouth.”
Thomas put a hand on my shoulder and held me firmly. “Slowly look over the bushes towards the church.” Thomas let me go and ushered me upwards with his hands.
I peered through the bushes and saw the burnt remains of the church. It had been a simple single room church with a small steeple and a graveyard located off to the side. In the middle of the graveyard was a circle of six naked people holding hands around a fire.
“Who are they?” I asked.
“I’m surprised you don’t know who they are,” said Thomas.
I continued looking at the people and immediately recognized them as Thomas proceeded to name each person.
“One of them is Police Sergeant Greg Williams,” said Thomas. “Father Grant; Miss Smith, the librarian; the math teacher at Havensburg High, Ms. Cox; Mayor Richards; and the leader of the pack, the theater director, Candy Lane.”
The people I knew since I was a child were dancing nude in the woods behind my house. I wanted to laugh out loud, but looked in horror as Mayor Richards began rubbing what appeared to be a dark shining liquid over his chest and between his legs. The Mayor smiled as the goo dripped down his skin.
“That is disgusting!” I said.
“They just made a sacrifice,” said Thomas.
I turned to look down at Thomas and saw that he was holding a handgun. Thomas began loading the weapon with bullets.
“If you focus your attention down at their feet, you’ll see a body,” said Thomas.
Thomas was right. It looked like the body of a boy. The entire corpse was a shiny red. Mayor Richards picked up the body and held it out in front of him as the other people took turns biting it. I saw that it was my friend Paul.
“My God! Its Paul!” I started to get up and run towards the church, but Thomas held me.
“There’s nothing you can do boy! Now stay still!”
“But he’s my friend!”
“I know,” said Thomas. “But its to late to do anything. I’ve got to hurry, they’ll be changing soon.” Thomas stopped loading his gun and looked at me long and hard. “Those are the people I’ve been protecting this town from for almost fifty-eight years. I’ve been doing this for a long time and my concentration has grown weak. As a result, the evil has returned.”
“But why here?” I asked. “Why Havensburg?”
“Do you know what day it is?”
“It’s April 30th,” I replied.
“Yes, but its also the second great Sabbat of the year for witches, demons, and werewolves.”
I thought about my parents.
Mr. Cox, the werewolf I told you about earlier, is buried in that cemetery. I believe they are attempting to raise him from the dead. Werewolves have always been in Havensburg, but they were just too afraid to come out, until Candy Lane arrived.
“You see, I had an older sister named Michelle. She was very promiscuous. She never paid attention to my parents and was always out with a different boy. Michelle became attracted to Mr. Cox and started hanging around him. As time went on, they fell in love. When my great-grandmother and the “Believers of St. Patrick” killed Mr. Cox, they forgot to go after Michelle. Mr. Cox had given her the curse. She escaped town. Both of my parents had been slaughtered by Mr. Cox, but my sister felt no sadness. She only wanted revenge for the death of her lover and has now been able to return to Havensburg because my magic weakens. My dear sister Michelle is Candy Lane.”
“How can she? She’s so young,” said David.
“Cursed people do not grow old boy,” said Thomas.
“Why do you care for Havensburg so much? Why didn’t you let the werewolves have the town and just go somewhere else?”
“Because I was afraid they would come after me. I didn’t want to be running away from them all my life. My decision to stay in Havensburg was to protect this town and at least make it a real haven.” Thomas poked his head up above the bushes. “Heads up boy. They’re moving.”
As I watched, all six people began moving in various contortions. I noticed their bodies were changing. Their faces stretched, arms became elongated, backs bowed outwards, and howls emerged from hairy throats. They were becoming werewolves.
“Listen boy and listen good,” said Thomas. “You need to carry on the power of the Muse.”
“You were planning for this all along weren’t you?”
“Yes I was.”
“But I can’t sing! I can’t protect this town by making sure the werewolves stay docile!”
“You need to try,” said Thomas. “Please.”
“Thomas, I’m scared. I think my parents have been changed.”
“Then sing my boy. That’s all you have to do. Sing.”
Thomas places his hand on my forehead. I thought about resisting and pulling away, but a strange calmness over came me.
“I pass the power of the Muse on to you,” said Thomas. “Bless you son. Remember me.” Thomas then stood up and handed me a cross. “This cross is made of silver. Keep it with you at all time so that you will not forget this evening. These creatures have a way of making people forget. I don’t want you ending up thinking this has all been a bad dream. Now run boy.”
Thomas opens his jacket and takes it off. A gun holster is strapped to his chest. He removes a hand gun and checks the barrel. “I’m going to give you some time and try to shoot as many of those things as I can. Do not look back if you hear me scream.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” I said.
Thomas pointed his gun at my face and pulled back the hammer. “Get the hell out of here. There’s nothing you can do now. This is a family matter.”
I took off running. I had to get help and let the whole world know.
Gun shots rang out into the night air and the voice of a dying man followed.
As I ran, I started to cry. Why did this have to happen to me? Who exactly could I trust in Havensburg? When I got home, I called the police and left an anonymous message about a murder at the old United Methodist Gospel Congregation.
Thomas was not able to kill any of the werewolves. Evidently, he wasn’t as good of a marksman as he was a guitar player. However, the news about Thomas’s and Paul’s death at the United Methodist Gospel Congregation was reported in the Sunday edition of the Havensburg Herald and on the Charlotte television news. Authorities believe Thomas and Paul were murdered separately by the same person and later dumped at the church. I knew better. I knew the truth or at least I thought I did.
I woke up early the next morning, dressed, got my guitar, and walked into town. After picking a street corner in front of the HavensburgTown Hall, I began playing my guitar. A few people stopped their cars and stared at me; people with yellow eyes. I thought about the possibility of staying in Havensburg for the rest of my singing songs and taming werewolves. The thought seemed ridiculous. The werewolves could have Havensburg. I quit playing, decided I needed to buy a dozen roses before returning home, and went to McDonald’s for breakfast.