Ghoul Babysits

Never been on a blind date before. Honestly, I didn’t even know that was a thing until Ghoul suggested it.

“Yes Sam, you can still have your sight to go on one,” he said.”Don’t worry, Old Ghoul will set you up good. I think I know a girl who you’d like, and I am sure she will find something to like about you.”

Her name was… Joleen? Sounds right. She picked me up that Saturday night. I dressed just above mediocrity and fumigated myself with a foul aerosol; think it was called Hatchet. The plan was to have a decent diner at a regurgitated corporate eatery that opened within a fortnight down the road and then go home, nothing else. But Joleen brought an unexpected surprise with her to my front door.

“Hope you don’t mind if they just chill here while we go on our date, or whatever.”

Two pudgy kids burst through, screaming and wailing in ghastly tone as they tore into the living room. The end is nigh, I thought. Pure evil has descended upon us and we are all doomed.

“Back, demons! The holy spirit binds you! Have at you, I say!”

Ghoul emerged from the hallway. He was chanting scripture at Joleen’s boys, who were chucking throw pillows and coffee table books across the house like unholy fireballs.

“Um, I didn’t know you needed a babysitter. This is… unfortunate?”

Joleen wasn’t necessarily an eyesore. Trashy, yes, and black doesn’t slim every part of the body, but Joleen gave no mind. She had a deep cough, too. I heard smoker’s lungs and learned later that her chest was dry from cleaning asbestos for a living. Ghoul didn’t tell me that she was in her forties, or that she had at least two filthy children that were feral as a pack of wild mongrels.

“Boys, knock that shit off!” she barked, then turned to me. “We going or what?”

“But whose going to watch the kids?”

I looked to her children. One was certainly larger than the other. He had curly red hair and was pulling the carpet’s threads out with his teeth. The smaller of the two had a five-o-clock shadow and was trying to order unsavory pay-per-views.

“I got this, you kids go on and enjoy your date,” said Ghoul.

“Are you sure, man? It isn’t a bother if we have to reschedule the date.”

Joleen pulled me to the door. She said, “Come on skinny, the meter is running,” and I shot Ghoul a concerned stare.

“We’re going to be fine. What could go wrong?”

The bill for the cab fell in my lap that night. Along with the overcharged meals, Joleen’s outrageous bar tab and the return fare home. And of course, once we pulled in to the driveway, she confessed that she didn’t have any money for the sitter. Joleen swore she could find a way to make it all better but I was too exhausted and in no mood for sloppy dessert.

“Don’t worry, I’ll cover for that too,” it felt good to say that, knowing Ghoul would refuse any money and Joleen appeared genuinely hurt.

I opened the front door. Turned on the lights, then stood, aghast at the horrors before my eyes.

“What in the hell happened here? Boys!” Joleen cried.

A wild variation of red, glossy and thick, splattered the walls and floors and furnishings like paint thrown from a crazed artist’s brush. The flat screen was busted, strewn across the living room floor. Wall portraits were destroyed, Ghoul’s collection of vintage paperbacks were ripped to shreds and the worst of it: my salt water beauties, gone. All gone.

I couldn’t move or speak. My morale was lower than whale shit and here is Joleen, though, traipsing around the ungodly mess and straight to the kitchen. Horrific images flashed in my head: Ghoul had enough of their unruliness and snapped. He probably butchered them, then portioned their bits for weeks, months even.

Ghoul and I stayed in touch during the disaster that was my date and everything seemed fine. But there was something in the last text he sent before going silent, something about fixing those two little pukes right for the world.

Joleen screamed and I feared it was too late.

Chunks of glass crunched underfoot as I surged forward. It was over, I thought. Shouldn’t I be running the other way? Hiding? Finding a lawyer who can make sense of an undead monster slaughtering awful children? I turned the corner, gasping, ready to say farewell to my sanity and face the terror of it all.

“Still didn’t get it clean. Keep scrubbing, you,” Ghoul threatened the two kids with a small whip, something like a horse jockey would use. There was a gruffness in his tone and I could tell he was pissed. “Little bastards just didn’t know when to stop. I hope that ketchup comes out.”

“Mommy,” cried the one with the five o’clock shadow.

“Can we please go? He gives me the creeps,” begged the one with carpet fibers stuck between his teeth. “He showed us the trick that grandpa does with his thumb, but his really came off and he said he was going to eat us in a Cobb Salad if we didn’t clean up this mess. Can we please just go?”

Ghoul enjoyed long pig in salads, so I knew he was not only pissed, but serious. I ushered the terrified children and one extremely befuddled Joleen (now I am starting to think her name was Patricia) to the door.

“I am never doing that again.”

Ghoul maneuvered beyond the mouth of the kitchen, slightly in the living room.

“Remember that you were the one who asked volunteered; no one held a gun to your head.”

“Oh I know: I’m an idiot. But never again,” said Ghoul.

“Not a problem. Hey – can you show me how to do that thing with your thumb real quick?”

There it was: Ghoul’s happy smile.

© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017

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