Previously on Ghoul….
The short of it is that Ghoul did in fact find a way out, but only for himself.
Yeah. Ghoul left Sam alone, broken, and lost.
Now let me take advantage of that despair and try something fun… something different. We’re gonna follow Ghoul for a bit, see why he had to ditch Sam and hear the story form his perspective.
We’ll also have a new character that will stick around. I promise.
And then this happened….
The first thing I needed to do was get in touch with my sponsor. See if there were any meetings close by.
Then I had to salvage some new legs.
“C’mon, get to the phone, man. I need help,” I dialed again. No answer.
There were usable body parts left in the basement freezer: mismatched thighs, couple of burned calves, a foot; sufficient enough to keep me going.
The needle was manageable enough to clutch with my decayed fingertips. I weaved at the seams the best I could and somehow it held. Wasn’t pretty, though. How does Sam conceal the thread so well, I thought.
I’ll find a way to get you out. I just have to save myself first. You’ll understand… I hope.
My phone erupted with a fierce vibration.
“Richard!” I yelled. “Thank you for getting back to me. What? Yes, of course I know where the Masonic Lodge is. In twenty minutes? Absolutely, I’ll be there. Oh. Terribly sorry. You’re right, I don’t know a Richard; only Kromwell the Magnificent. See you then.”
The dead-head uber driver who brought me home from the K.O.A. was still in the driveway. He was reaching out of the window, up towards the encroaching dusk.
“The pull-string to that light is there, I know it is.”
I think his name was Carey. Definitely wasn’t Jerry, that’s for sure. Either way, the mushrooms I traded for the lift home seemed to have kicked in.
“Hey man,” I said. “Slide over, I’ll drive.”
“Where we going, zombie-brah?”
“Across town, down off Humbolt.”
“You’re going to one of those meetings, right? Where everyone dresses up like… like their trying to hide something, right? I’ve heard of those. Kinda want to try it out sometime. Seems to be really helping you,” whats-his-face pointed to an empty spot on the dashboard. “I’ve never seen a pretzel made out of color. Should I eat it?”
Monsters Anonymous was a support group for cowards who wanted to be brave, even if just for a moment. The idea was to attend in a character that represented your issues or past sins. Having a disguise instilled enough courage to come clean and free. It wasn’t easy at first, standing at the podium, willingly sharing the darkest bits of humanity.
Maybe that’s why it wasn’t working so well for me.
I arrived before Kromwell the Magnificent gave his opening words. He wore elaborate furs with a Ziggy Stardust knockoff bodysuit. Old Richard here, well, he was arrested years back for smuggling endangered animals on the black market. Nice guy and all, but a little creepy.
Yeah, I invested my time into unmasking these weirdos. I had too. When you’re the one true monster around, you need to do your homework.
“Thank you all for coming,” he was of the stoutest variety who employed a nasally twang that cut through stone. “Coffee and doughnuts are at the back. Donations to the Lodge are greatly appreciated. So, who would like to start?”
“Me, me,” I blurted.
“Okay, Ghoul, go ahead,” sighed Kromwell over the vampire who stated–matter-of-factly mind you–that she wasn’t surprised at all.
I stood. “Hi everyone, good to see you,” My needlework wasn’t the best. The thread was slipping away. I needed to keep this short and to the point.
“I’ve been selfish my whole life. I act on my impulses without thinking of how my actions will impact those close to me. Well, I think I messed up big this time. I left my friend in a horrible spot; don’t even know if he is going to live to be honest. Also, two of his fingers are broken and I know he landed in poison Ivy–wait a minute, I am rambling–gotta bring this back to how it effects me and my feelings. Now where was I.”
The usual crowd attended. Martha, the one dressed as a vampire (she’d been leeching money from her mother’s social security since 98′), gasped when I justified my need to take care of myself before others.
“But you said you left your friend deep in the woods by himself. With no food or water. And he is injured. Who would do that to someone?” she said while gathering her things.
“It’s okay, the kid’s tough. It’s important that I get help with my emotions so I can figure out how to help.”
A man in a bear plush quickly rose to his feet.
“I work for the city and I don’t know if I am okay with this at all.”
There was a curious member that I was not familiar with two or three chairs to my left. She must’ve been new or dressed as a spirit. Her hair was more pepper than salt and it flowed with an ethereal flick and her skin was like frigid death. What was odd was the name tag. We never wore one, that was part of the deal. Her’s said Corine and she was laughing before the words left my mouth.
“You’re a janitor down at the town hall, Mike Yonkers, who is also a registered sex offender, so I don’t want to hear your nonsense.”
“How dare you!” Kromwell shouted. “The rules of the group are sacred, Ghoul. I am going to have to ask you to leave. Don’t ever come back.”
I grabbed a doughnut on the way out; wasn’t hungry, just wanted to throw something.
“Dammit,” I hurled the doughnut on the concrete. Powdered sugar dispersed like a dirty bomb. The uber driver was bummed out, said he was starving.
A voice asked, “What are you sorry for?” It came from behind me.
I turned. It was Corine.
“That’s what I came to find out tonight. Didn’t go over to well, though” I said.
“No, that’s not it,” she stepped forward and looked to me with eyes hazel and fierce. “You came because you’re searching for answers that you already know.”
“Good, well, I am glad someone knows, because I don’t. Maybe you can tell me, then, since you’re so perceptive.”
“Are you asking for help?”
Man I wanted to hit her upside the head. She looks like a good fighter, maybe I’ll challenge her to fisticuffs, I thought. I half-remembered what Sam had said, something about walking away before you act so you can have time to think.
Let’s try it out.
I returned to my uber driver, who apparently found the rest of the mushrooms.
“That place Sam is stuck in, it’s an extension of Purgatory,” said Corine. “You won’t be able to get him out on your own. I can help you… all you need to do is ask.”
© Copyright John Potts Jr. 2016 – 2017. All rights reserved.