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If You Can’t Be Civil Be Silent

If You Can't Be Civil image

If You Can’t Be Civil Be Silent ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

“You’re driving too fast, Dick, dear,” mother said.

He ignored her, lit a cigarette and blew the smoke out the corner of his mouth in her direction.

“Why Mr. Grumpy?” she asked. “Are you tired, darling?”

“No, I ain’t tired,” Dick said. “I just don’t like being asked questions while I’m driving.”

She moved over next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. “Aren’t you excited about our little trip?”

“Oh, sure, I’m excited as hell!” he said.

Dick Dubois was mother’s latest boyfriend. He was three years younger than she was and owned his own business. She was always trying to get signs from him that he loved her.

“I just don’t think you care about me at all,” she said.

“Ho-hum,” he said, putting his hand over his mouth to cover a yawn.

“We’re going to have such fun! As soon as we get checked in to our cabin, we’ll go for a little swim.”

“Oh, goody!” Coral Anne said from the back seat.

“I think I’ll just stay in the room,” Sully said. “I’m feeling a little car sick.”

“Oh, you’re such a big baby!” Coral Anne said. “You always have to spoil everything!”

“I have some Pepto-Bismol in my bag,” mother said, “but it’s in the trunk.”

“I don’t need any Pepto-Bismol.”

“Oh, mother!” Coral Anne said. “Don’t you know? He’s just pretending to be sick to get sympathy.”

“Shut up!” Sully said.

You shut up!”

“You both shut up or I’m going to stop the car and put you out alongside the road,” Dick said.

“Don’t you tell my children to shut up!” mother said.

“Oh, I’ll do whatever I want, bitch face!”

She pouted for a minute and then nestled her cheek against his shoulder. “Let’s not have any unpleasantness,” she said. “Let’s just have fun and enjoy ourselves.”

“Is such a thing possible?” he asked.

“Mother, how deep is the lake?” Coral Anne asked.

“How would you expect me to know?”

“It goes down so far it doesn’t even have a bottom,” Dick said.

“There’s monsters that live at the bottom of the lake,” Sully said. “When they see your chubby ass in your red swimsuit bobbing up and down, they’ll grab you and take you down to the bottom and feed you to their young.”

“Mother, did you hear what he said to me?” Coral Anne said. “He’s making fun of me!”

“That’s enough of that kind of talk, Sully,” mother said. “Be civil to your sister. If you can’t be civil, be silent.”

“If I have to be civil to her, she has to be civil to me,” Sully said.

“Woman don’t think that way,” Dick said. “You have to be nice to them but they don’t have to be nice to you.”

“Oh, you!” mother said. “You’re the voice of experience when it comes to women, aren’t you?”

“I’ve been around the block a few times.”

“I still can’t figure out how you got to be thirty-eight years old without ever being married.”

“I’m not giving away any of my secrets.”

“Don’t you want to have some children of your own before it’s too late?”

“Hell, no!”

“Mother, are you and Dick going to get married?” Coral Anne asked.

“You’d have to ask Dick that question,” mother said.

“I thought we were supposed to be having fun,” Sully said.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

Paranormal Horror Anthology

Paranormal Horror Anthology 1

~ Paranormal Horror

(My short story “Without Sin” is in this collection.)

An Anthology of Short Stories by Jessica Lynne Gardner, Katanie Duarte, Matthew Wilson, Jenean McBrearty, Adam Sickmiller, Larry M. Mason, Chris Castle, Hal Kempka, Glen Rolfe, T. L. Sherwood, Arpa Mukhopadhyay, Jim Cagwin, Wendy L Schmidt, Allen Kopp, Gary Clifton, Chris Mawbey, A. A. Garrison. Edited by Elle Pryor.

This paranormal horror anthology features stories about poltergeists, ghosts and haunted houses. There are demons that inhabit launderettes, shops and churches. Grave robbers die in mysterious circumstances. Aliens begin their invasion of Earth. A vampire feasts on a pet dog. Curses, mud and serial murderer’s kill their unsuspecting victims.

May be purchased at this link for $10 a copy:

Paranormal Horror Anthology Two

Paranormal Horror Anthology 2

~ Paranormal Horror Two ~

(My short story “Head in a Bottle” is in this collection.)

An Anthology of Short Stories by James Cagwin, Allen Kopp, Wendy L. Schmidt, Katanie Duarte, Jenean McBrearty, Gary Clifton, Chris Mawbey, Daniel Davis, John Haas, A. A. Garrison, Diane Arelle, Jerry G. Erwin, Ed Ahern, Matthew Wilson, W. K. Erwin, David Perlmutter. Edited by Elle Pryor.

This sequel features pizza loving vampires, revengeful werewolves and stuffed humans. The devil steals souls and supernatural beings possess the living. Meet the demons inhabiting underground caverns and cellars. Wander through haunted houses. “Paranormal Horror Two” is the sequel to the popular “Paranormal Horror” anthology. These chilling tales will haunt you for a long time.

May be purchased at this link for $12 per copy:


Autumn Morning ~ A Painting by John Atkinson Grimshaw

Autumn Morning by John Atkinson Grimshaw

Autumn Morning by John Atkinson Grimshaw

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) was an English artist of the Victorian era known for his landscapes and city night scenes.

By and By

By and By

By and By ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp 

The Cemetery of the Holy Ghost was sprawling and composed of many parts, reflecting different eras in the history of the country. There was the very old part that contained the bones of people from so long ago that some of them had fought the British and had laid eyes on George Washington. And then, moving on to the more recent past—but still long ago—there were bones of those who had fought in the Civil War, including a famous general or two and their wives and offspring. After that, there were the rich industrialists and beer barons of the 1890s who built their elaborate mausoleums at great expense, looking like small gothic churches, to house their remains and those of their families. From there we move on to the boys who fought and died in the First World War and, farther along, the Second World War. Mixed in are some famous writers, a mistress of a president or two, a long-forgotten North Pole explorer, a famous operatic tenor, and on and on, not to mention the tens of thousands who never did anything to distinguish themselves while they were living and certainly had no plan to do so while they were dead.

Somewhere between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, one might find the grave of Reginald Maxim Winfield, known to his intimates as “Reggie.” He was born in 1886 and died in 1896 at the age of ten years, five months and eighteen days. The cause of his death doesn’t matter, except to say that he wasn’t sick more than a day or two and didn’t feel much of anything when he passed from the realm of the living to the realm of the dead.

At Reggie’s graveside service, his mother, still not quite believing he was dead, moaned softly behind her veil. Just before the coffin was lowered into the earth, she bent over and, placing her arms around it as though she meant to pick it up, whispered a few words in the region close to where Reggie’s ear would be. When asked later what words she had spoken, she claimed she didn’t remember, being mollified by her grief as she was.

Several lifetimes passed by, the world changed as much as it had ever changed in a hundred and more years, and Reggie’s spirit still remained in the Cemetery of the Holy Ghost; still hadn’t moved on as it should have done. Reggie was lonely, waiting behind, but only doing what he believed he had to do. Certain living people had seen Reggie’s restless spirit over the years, but those people were few and were uncertain, after the fact, of exactly what they had seen. After a couple of startling encounters (startling for Reggie), he assiduously avoided any contact with the living people who, for whatever reason, found themselves in the cemetery. He was a shy spirit, as most spirits are, and believed that nothing good—for him, anyway—would ever come of anybody who still had a beating heart.

When he first laid eyes on the young girl, though, he didn’t run away as he usually did because he wasn’t sure if she was alive or, like him, dead. She was dressed in filthy rags and her skin, what could be seen of it, was caked with layers of dirt. She was so wan and pale and appeared so underfed that she was, he deduced, one of those unfortunate living people who didn’t have a home and who ended up in the Cemetery of the Holy Ghost because it was a good place to hide and also because she had no place else to go. If she wasn’t a spirit yet, she would be one soon. That’s why he felt a connection to her.

The second time he saw her, he made sure she also saw him.

“Have you seen my mother?” he asked.

She stopped and looked at him, not certain if he had spoken to her. “Who are you?” she asked. “I haven’t seen you before.”

“I’ve seen you,” he said.


“Right here.”

“Why are you dressed in such funny clothes?” she asked.

“They’re not funny.”

“They look funny to me. A little bit out of the run of normal fashion for boys.”

“Getting back to my original question,” he said, “have you seen my mother?”

“What does she look like?”

“She’s tall for a woman. She has hazel eyes and auburn hair and always dresses stylishly.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody like that in my entire life. What is her name?”

“Dorothy Abbot Winfield. She’s married to my father, George Herbert Winfield.”

“No, sorry.”

“How long is ‘by and by’?”


“I said, how long is ‘by and by’? My mother told me to wait for her here and she would be along ‘by and by’.”

The girl closed her eyes and opened them again, putting her hand to her forehead as though she might faint. “I’m not sure I’m even seeing you,” she said. “I haven’t been feeling well lately.”

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

“Uh, I don’t think so.”

“So you haven’t seen my mother?”

“I haven’t seen anybody since…oh, I can’t remember!”

“If you see her, tell her I’m waiting here for her.”

“If I see anybody answering to that description…wait a minute! You’re a ghost, aren’t you? You lived a long time ago.”

“I thought maybe you were a ghost, too,” he said.

“What year were you born?”

“Why, 1886,” he said. “What difference does that make?”

“What year was your mother born?”


“There! That’s it! You are a ghost and your mother came and went a long time ago and you missed her.”

“That can’t be,” he said. “She told me to wait here for her and she would be along ‘by and by’.”

“I’m sorry,” the girl said. “I’m afraid I can’t help you. I don’t think you’re real, anyway, but if I see your mother I’ll tell her you’re looking for her.”

When she started to walk away, the boy put his hand on her arm. “What’s your name?” he asked.


“What are you doing in the cemetery? You’re not just visiting somebody’s grave, are you?”

“I’m staying here for a while until I find a better place to stay.”

“You’re not afraid?”

“What’s there to be afraid of? There’s usually nobody here but me. It’s peaceful. I like it.”

“Where do you sleep?”

“That’s enough questions,” she said. “If anybody should be asking questions, it’s me! How often do I get a chance to talk to a dead person?”

“I’m as alive as you are, just on a different plane.”

“I’m sure it’s all very interesting,” she said, “but you’re not even here and I feel a little foolish talking to nothing.”

She went to the nearest large tree and sat down with her back to it; put her head back, closed her eyes, drew in her legs and seemed to go to sleep. He stood looking at her for a while and then moved on to continue his search for his mother.

The next time he saw the girl she was sleeping in a pile of leaves between two very large gravestones. He didn’t want to wake her but as he approached he saw her eyes were open.

“It’s you again,” she said. “I know now you really are a ghost because you walk on the leaves without making a sound.”

“You look sick,” he said.

“I think I’m dying. Somebody needs to come along and put me under the earth. I wouldn’t mind a bit.”

“Maybe you can help me find my mother.”

She laughed. “How do I do that?”

“I don’t know. You’re alive and you seem to have a facility for communicating with ghosts. Maybe you’ll see the ghost of my mother and if you do you can tell her where I am.”

“I’d like to help but I don’t think I can.”

“Why not?”

“I have to get out of the cemetery today and go back to the city. There’s going to be a purge tonight. They’re cracking down on the vags, like me.”

“What’s a ‘vag’?”

“You’re looking at one.”

“Oh, I see. It’s a bum, a wayward person who doesn’t have a home.”

“Yes, that’s me. A girl bum.”

“You had a home but you left it?”

“We won’t go into that now. Maybe some other time when I’m feeling up to it.”

“I think my mother is close by. I can feel it.”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “We all have our troubles. You have yours and I have mine.”

“Will you help me find her?”

“Right now I don’t think I could even find my nose.”

“You need a doctor.”

“If you see one, give him my regards.”

“I think maybe you are my mother. That’s why I’m seeing you and you’re seeing me.”

She gave a weak, snorting laugh. “I’m nobody’s mother,” she said. “I’ve never even been married.”

“No!” he said. “You don’t understand. I think my mother’s spirit is in your body. Same spirit, different body.”

“I don’t think so, but if it makes you feel better to believe it, then I guess there’s no harm in it.”

He heard voices and thought someone was coming, so he ducked out of sight. A little while later when he went back to the pile of leaves between the two grave stones, the girl was gone.

That night he heard the commotion of the purge, screaming and rollicking laughter, the tromping of feet over the hallowed ground. He hoped the girl had left in time and had gone to some safe place.

In the morning just as the sun was coming up, he found her, bleeding and barely breathing, hiding in some bushes. One of the night watchmen had hit her in the head with his night stick and split her head open. He knelt beside her and put his face close to hers.

“Why didn’t you leave when you had the chance?” he asked.

“No place to go.”

“You’re hurt bad.”

“Have to get out of this place,” she said.

She struggled to stand up but her arms and legs wouldn’t work.

She died with the birds singing in the trees over her head. He stayed beside her and then when the end came he wasn’t too surprised to see the spirit of his mother, Dorothy Abbot Winfield, rise out of the girl’s body. She wasn’t dressed in mourning but was wearing a beautiful brown dress for autumn and looked exactly as he remembered her.

“Mother!” he said. “I’ve waited all this time!”

“Reggie!” she said. “I knew you’d be here!”

She wrapped her arms around him, held him tightly and kissed his head.

“You told me to wait, that you’d be along ‘by and by,’ and I did wait and now you’re here.”

“I’m so glad!” she said. “So happy!”

“Where are father and Jacqueline and Edward?”

“They’re waiting for us just over the hill.”

He took her by the hand and together they walked into the radiant light of early morning. Nothing would ever keep them apart again.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

Vintage Halloween

~ Vintage Halloween ~ 

After we get “older” we remember what Halloween was like when we were in grade school before the world got so messed up. We went trick-or-treating without adult supervision (even when it rained), accepted candy from strangers, and nobody I ever knew was poisoned.

Vintage Halloween 1

Vintage Halloween 2

Vintage Halloween 3

Vintage Halloween 4

Vintage Halloween 5

Vintage Halloween 7

Vintage Halloween 8

Vintage Halloween 12

Vintage Halloween 13

Vintage Halloween 9

Vintage Halloween


Crimson Peak ~ A Capsule Movie Review

Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp 

Crimson Peak is the kind of new movie we don’t see very often, a costume drama set in a long-ago time (early 1900s), when the automobile was a novelty and a lot of the streets weren’t paved yet, at least in America. It’s a combination gothic love story, Victorian ghost story and horror fantasy, with touches of Henry James, Edith Wharton and Charlotte Bronte thrown in.

Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) lives with her well-to-do father, Carter Cushing, in a beautiful house in Buffalo, New York. When she is ten years old, the ghost of her mother appears to her (a black, horrible, decaying ghost) to give her a warning about “crimson peak.” She doesn’t know what it means but she knows it has some meaning that will be revealed to her at a later time. Fourteen years later she is an aspiring novelist who has the usual problems that novice writers have—she’s not writing about what she knows or feels and she can’t get a publisher interested in her work. She has an old friend named Alan McMichael who is an ophthalmologist. While Alan is romantically interested in Edith, she doesn’t seem to reciprocate his feelings. Then along comes a handsome aristocrat from England. He’s a baronet and his name is Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). He’s in America with his forbidding sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain), trying to get funding for a machine he has invented that extracts clay from the earth that is used in brick-making.

Edith’s father doesn’t like Sir Thomas Sharpe and, not only does he turn him down for funding for his machine, he has him investigated when it becomes apparent that Sir Thomas and Edith are becoming romantically involved. The investigation turns up some dirt on Sir Thomas and his sister, but it’s no less than Edith’s father suspected. He gives the Sharpes a sizeable check to leave America and go back to England, thereby breaking Edith’s heart and insulting her writing in the bargain.

Soon Edith’s father is brutally and mysteriously murdered, leaving Edith the recipient of all his money. Just when we thought Sir Thomas had gone back to England with his sister, he turns up again. With Edith’s father out of the way, he is free to marry Edith and take her to his family home, a decaying gothic mansion that sits on top of a clay mine in an extremely isolated region in England. The place is in such disrepair, we learn, because the once-wealthy Sharpe family is now poor. Edith’s money is going to come in very handy here.

Edith is visited by another hideous ghost in the Sharpe mansion, delivering yet another warning. (It turns out to be the ghost of Sir Thomas and Lucille’s mother, whom Lucille murdered). In a series of startling and distasteful revelations, Edith discovers that she is just one in a succession of “heiresses” who have fallen prey to the Sharpes. She also discovers that Lucille, who has always been too eager to have her drink a cup of tea, has been poisoning her. That’s why she hasn’t been feeling very well lately. Soon, however, her admirer from America, Dr. Alan McMichael, shows up unexpectedly. Will he be able to rescue Edith, or will he also fall prey to the Sharpes’ machinations?

Crimson Peak has a throwback-to-an-earlier-time feel to it, so, for that reason, a lot of people probably aren’t going to like it. If you are one of those who can suspend disbelief and put away your skepticism for a couple of hours, you might enjoy it. Besides ghosts, there are some fabulous sets and period costumes, and who can do evil better than Jessica Chastain? If you don’t want to kill her when her back is turned, well, you’re just not a very feeling person.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp


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