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Looks Like Wally Fay

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Looks Like Wally Fay ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

“Did you get a good look at the man?” Officer Miggles asked.

“Oh, yes,” Miss Dragonette said.

“Can you describe him for me?”

“Well, he was kind of heavy-set without being what I would call fat, if you know what I mean.”

“So he was moderately overweight?”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“Did you notice anything else about him? The color of his hair?”

“He was wearing a hat so I couldn’t see his hair. I would imagine it would be dark, though. Underneath the hat.”

“How tall was he?”

“Rather on the tall side. About six feet and one inch, I’d say.”

“What was he wearing?”

“A long brown topcoat that came down to his ankles. Cashmere, I think.”


“Yes, that’s right.”

“Can you tell me anything else about him?”

“He was wearing a brown tie with little yellow birds on it, like parrots.”

“All right. How old would you say he was?”

“If I had to guess, I’d guess late thirties. Thirty-eight or thirty-nine.”

“How would you describe his face?”

“Well, let me think, now. He needed a shave. I did notice that right off.”

“So he had stubble on his face.”

“Yes, dark stubble. The color of the stubble on his face was what made me think he would have dark hair, even though I couldn’t see his hair because of the hat he was wearing.”

“Can you tell me anything else about his face?”

“He looked like that actor in that movie about the woman with a spoiled daughter who shoots the woman’s husband.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, ma’am.”

“I know! It was Joan Crawford!”

“So, the man looked like Joan Crawford?”

“No! It was a Joan Crawford movie. The man looked like one of the actors in the movie.”

“Do you know the actor’s name?”

“No, I can’t think of it offhand. It wasn’t the playboy who was Joan Crawford’s second husband and it wasn’t the first husband, either. It was the other man. The one in business with Joan Crawford’s first husband.”

“Okay, ma’am. I don’t think we’re making much progress here.”

“I remember now! His name was Wally Fay.”

“Whose name?”

“The man in the movie with Joan Crawford. The name of the character he played was Wally Fay. I can’t think of his real name, though. It’ll come to me later, I’m sure.”

“I’m afraid that isn’t much help.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Can you tell me anything else about him at all?”

“He was in another movie where he played Paul Newman’s brother.”

“No! Can you tell me anything else about the man who fired the gun?”

“Paul Newman was married to Elizabeth Taylor and he had this brother they called Gooper. I suppose that was a nickname, though.”

“I don’t need to hear about a movie.”

“Gooper was married to a coarse fat woman named May. She and Gooper had a lot of little kids, and Paul Newman’s wife, the character played by Elizabeth Taylor, didn’t much care for them because they made so much noise.”

“That won’t help us to catch the man we’re looking for, ma’am.”

“Well, I’m trying to remember! I’m cooperating with you. It seems the least you can do is be patient and polite.”

“I’m sorry if I seem impatient but I don’t need to hear about any movie.”

“Where was I? Oh, yes. Paul Newman and his brother Gooper had a rich old father who didn’t like anybody in his family. Well, the entire family was gathered because the father had just found out he had a fatal disease and the two sons—especially Gooper—were worried about who was going to inherit the estate. It was in the South, somewhere. Mississippi, I think.”

“Okay, that’s enough about movies. Can you describe for me what you saw the man do?”

“Well, I was just walking along the sidewalk, minding my own business, on my way to buy a new pair of shoes. I heard a commotion in the street and I stopped to see what it was. I saw a bunch of police cars with flashing lights. It seemed to be something terribly important, but I didn’t know what it was.”

“Then what happened?”

“A bunch of people had gathered along the sidewalk to watch, but I stayed back. That’s when I noticed the man in the cashmere coat come out of an alleyway.”

“What made you notice him?”

“He just stood there, looking very dignified. He wasn’t trying to elbow in to get a closer look, the way the other people were. He just looked straight ahead as though in a trance or something.”

“Then what happened?”

“Well, after all the police cars had passed with their lights going, I saw the big black car of the governor. I could see him in the car smiling and waving—I recognized him from his pictures—and I knew then what all the commotion was about. All the people were trying to get in to get a closer look at him.”

“So you didn’t know until that moment that the governor was going to be visiting here that day?”

“No. Why should I?”

“Don’t you read the newspapers? Don’t you watch the news on television?”


“Go on.”

“When the car carrying the governor came about even with where I was standing on the sidewalk, the man in the cashmere coat took a few steps forward.”

“Toward the car?”

“That’s right.”

“Then what did he do?”

“I looked away for a moment and that’s when I heard the gunshots.”

“How man gunshots?”

“Three, I think.”

“Some of the people screamed or ducked down as if they thought they were going to be shot, but I wasn’t afraid because I saw where the bullets came from and I knew they weren’t directed at me.”

“All right. Then what?”

“After the man fired the shots, he just simply disappeared.”

“People don’t disappear.”

“I know they don’t, but that’s the way it seemed to me. He was there and then he wasn’t.”

“Okay. Then what?”

“The governor’s car stopped and all the police cars stopped and everybody was running around trying to find out where the bullets came from. There were more people than ever now crowding around to get a better view. You know what people are like.”

“I suppose I do.”

“Well, the police spotted me standing on the sidewalk and, well, I guess it seemed to them that the bullets had come from about where I was standing, so they asked me if I had seen anything and I said I had and that’s when all these questions started. Can I go now? I’m feeling a little shaky after all the excitement.”

“It seems you were the only one who saw the man in the cashmere coat.”

“Yes, that’s because I was the only one standing back where he was standing. Everybody else was crowding toward the front.”

“As the only witness, you’ll need to make yourself available for further questioning.”

“Please, I’d rather you kept me out of this, if you don’t mind.”

After Office Miggles took her name and address, Miss Dragonette continued two blocks up the street and stepped off the curb between two parked cars. Looking around to make sure she wasn’t being observed, she took the gun out of her purse and threw it down a storm drain from which could be heard the sound of rushing water.

Satisfied that she wasn’t seen, she snapped her purse shut smartly and crossed the sidewalk to a store window where two high-fashion female mannequins in fur coats stood side by side. She looked into the face of the mannequin on the right and returned the artificial smile. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to make your acquaintance,” she said before continuing on her way.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp  

City Dump

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City Dump ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

When I was in the eighth grade, the Dutchman decided our old house needed a new roof. Instead of consulting the Yellow Pages to find a reputable roofer, he decided to save a few greenbacks by—no, not by doing the job himself—but by having a “friend” do it at a cut-rate price.

The price at which the friend agreed to replace the roof didn’t, oddly enough, include any clean-up. That means that pieces of the old roof dating from the time the house was built—boards, shingles, chunks of asbestos, nails, what-have-you—were scattered in the yard on all four sides of the house, looking like the scene of an unspeakable natural disaster. How many houses, I ask you, have a new roof while the old roof adorns the yard in the ugliest way imaginable?

The Dutchman’s solution to the clean-up was simple. He had a thirteen-year-old son: me. I weighed ninety-two pounds but was more than capable of picking chunks of debris out of the shrubs and off the lawn and placing them in a washtub. How many washtubs full does it take to hold the thousands of splintered pieces of an old roof? More than you can imagine.

He didn’t own a pickup truck so he borrowed one from another “friend.” (Where do all these friends come from?) It was an old dark blue truck that had seen better days. It was only a one-day loan, so that meant we only had one day to get rid of all the crap that surrounded the house. I was wishing I would lose consciousness and not regain it until well into the next week. I would rather have thirty hours of gym class than a day of enforced yard clean-up with the Dutchman.

After I got the washtub loaded up with stuff, it was too heavy to lift on my own. “Candy ass,” the Dutchman said. “You’re not worth the powder to blow you to hell.”

“I know,” I said. And I did know, as this phrase had been repeated to me in some form or another almost every day of my life.

The Dutchman saw that I could manage the loaded washtub only if he took the other handle. It occurred to him then for the first time that I didn’t have the strength of a grown man. Who knew?

With about eight tubs full of stuff, we had enough in the back of the truck to make a full load. I had to take a rake and distribute the stuff so we could get more in. Then, when the Dutchman was convinced the truck would hold no more, we headed for the city dump, about two miles outside of town. It felt good to sit down, even if the inside of the truck smelled like an old woman who never takes a bath.

At the city dump, the Dutchman carefully backed the truck as close to the edge of the embankment as he could get without going over the side, and we got out and started unloading. I stood up in the bed of the truck and tossed the stuff over the side but, of course, I wasn’t doing it fast enough to suit the Dutchman.

“Do you want to still be working at this at midnight?” he asked.

“I’m starting to feel sick,” I said.

By the time we got back to the house to begin work on the second load, it had started to rain the kind of rain you get in November: slow, cold and steady. The Dutchman made me put on a hat—not to protect my health but because he was thinking about how much money it might cost him if I got sick and had to see a doctor.

The second truckload to the city dump didn’t go any faster than the first one and, after two loads, we had made very little progress. This was taking a lot longer than the Dutchman thought it would. There weren’t going to be enough hours in the day. I was happy, maybe for the first time in my life, at the prospect of going to school the next day.

It was when we were working on the third load that an old man from the neighborhood stepped into the yard and motioned to us. The Dutchman stopped what he was doing and went over to him. I was near enough that I could hear.

“I know somebody that will take all that stuff away for you for a good price,” the old man said.

The Dutchman thought about it for a minute and shook his head. “No, thanks,” he said. “I can do it myself.”

“Looks like that boy there’s about worn out,” the old man said. He meant me, of course.

The Dutchman looked at me as though noticing me for the first time. “He’s stronger than he looks,” he said with a little laugh.

My mother came out of the house then in her plastic rain bonnet. “You know somebody that’ll do this hard work?” she asked.

“My nephew and his friend,” the old man said. “They’ve got themselves an old truck and will do little jobs here and there to earn enough money to fill it up with gas.”

“Does your nephew have a phone number?” she asked.

The old man gave the number and my mother said she would remember it without writing it down. She thanked the old man and he left.

“You come into the house,” she said to me, “and get cleaned up before supper.”

“He’s not going in,” the Dutchman said, “until the work is finished.”

“Says you,” she said.

She put her hand on my shoulder and drew me along with her into the house. It was one of the few times I ever saw her stand up to the Dutchman.

I took a bath as hot as I could stand it to get the roof grit off and put on my pajamas. I had the sniffles afterwards and there were some bleeding cuts on my hands, but I was happy and was sure I would be all right.

The next day when I came home from school, all the roof junk in the yard had been taken away. Mother told me she paid for it out of her own money and that it had been a real bargain. I was beaming with satisfaction at the dinner table that evening while the Dutchman looked unhappy and defeated, too dispirited even to complain that the mashed potatoes weren’t the way he liked them.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

She Wants to be a Country Singer

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She Wants to be a Country Singer ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

They gave each other an unfeeling peck on the cheek and sat on opposite ends of the couch. Squeamy sat in a chair across the room, crossed his legs and examined his shoelaces.

“How have you been, Squeamy?” Ouida asked.

“I have this terrible pain,” he said.

“You’d better have it looked into.”

“We didn’t come here to talk about Squeamy’s pains,” Mercelle said.

“Would you like a drink?” Ouida asked.

“No, thank you,” Mercelle said curtly. “We didn’t come here to drink, either.”

“What did you come for?”

“Now that mother has been dead for a month, it’s time we discussed some practical matters.”

“Like what?”

“Since she left the house to you, I think I should get all the money in the annuity, instead of just half.”

Ouida laughed, more with surprise than with mirth “Both our names are on it. That’s the way mother wanted it.”

“We both know that mother could be very unfair.”

“What is it you want, Mercelle?”

“I want you to agree to remove your name from the annuity so only my name is on it.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Because I deserve it.”

“Maybe I don’t agree.”

“You get the house and everything in it. Don’t you think it’s only fair that I get everything else?”

“I was the one who stuck with her and took care of her through all the difficult years,” Ouida said.

“Yes, you never pass up a chance to tell me how terrible your life has been, do you?”

“I refuse to have this conversation with you, Mercelle.”

“She’s been to see a lawyer!” Squeamy said.

“Shut up, Squeamy!” Mercelle said.

“A lawyer?” Ouida asked.

“I can take the house from you if you don’t agree to give me the annuity.”

“On what grounds? Mother had the house in her name and my name. Now that she’s gone, it’s in my name.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”


“I can say that mother was mentally incompetent and always meant to have the house in both our names, but you prevented her from putting my name on it because you wanted it all for yourself.”

“That isn’t true!”

“I can sue you. Tie up the house for years. At the end of all the legal proceedings that I’m prepared to engage in, the entire cost of the house could be absorbed in legal fees.”

“You would do that?”

“You probably think I want the money for purely selfish reasons, but I don’t.”

“You’re going to tell me you need a life-saving operation?”

“No, it’s Bobbie.”

“Bobbie needs a life-saving operation?”

“She’s in her last year of high school. She wants to get into a really good college next year. It costs a lot of money.”

“I wish Bobbie all the best, but her college education is not my responsibility,” Ouida said.

“No, you never wanted the responsibility of having your own children, did you? You remained an old maid living with her mother and now that the old woman is dead, what does the old maid have?”

“You can insult me all you want, Mercelle, but I don’t have to sit and listen to it.”

“I always thought you weren’t as smart as the rest of us. That you were deficient in some way.”

“Because I didn’t get married and have children?”

“No man ever wanted you because of your peculiarities. You were too much like daddy’s side of the family. Mother always talked about how odd you were and that she would have to take care of you always, until the day she died.”

“She never said that!”

“Not to you she didn’t, but she said it to me and to everybody else.”

“Let’s not talk about the past, Mercelle, or I just might end up ordering you out of my house.”

“Out of your house! I like that! This is just as much my house as it is yours!”

“The last time I looked at the deed, I didn’t see your name on it.”

“Well, that isn’t my fault! I know mother would have put my name on the deed, too, if you hadn’t kept her from it.”

“Why don’t you leave now, Mercelle?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Could I say something?” Squeamy said.

“No!” Mercelle said.

“What is it, Squeamy?” Ouida said.

“Don’t let her bully you into giving her money that isn’t hers.”

“Shut up, Squeamy!” Mercelle said. “You don’t know the first thing about it!”

“She wants Bobbie to go to a fancy Eastern school so she can have something to brag about to her friends.”

“That’s not true!” Mercelle said. “You should just keep your stupid mouth shut!”

“I don’t think it’s right to threaten your sister to get her to give you money. That’s called extortion.”

“Well, Mr. Big! You’re the voice of authority, aren’t you? This is a family matter that doesn’t concern you and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay out of it!”

“Bobbie doesn’t even want to go to college,” he said. “She wants to be a country singer.”

“Every young girl wants to be a country singer at some time or other in her life.”

“With Bobbie it’s different.”

“You’ve always been such an idiot and you don’t know anything! I look at you and I wonder how in the world I could have ever married you!”

“It doesn’t always have to be that way.”

Mercelle stood up so abruptly that the floor quaked. “Well, I’m going home now,” she said, “and you’re not getting into the car with me, Squeamy! You’ll have to find your own way home and if you don’t come home at all, it’s all the same to me!”

“Good night, dear!” Ouida said. “Drive carefully.”

After the door slammed and Mercelle was gone, Squeamy and Ouida looked at each other. Squeamy smiled and shook his head.

“You don’t have to stay married to her,” Ouida said.

“Maybe we deserve each other,” he said.

“I can give you a ride home, if you want.”

“No, thanks. I like to walk. It clears my head and gets the kinks out of my joints. I think I’ll stop off someplace and get drunk enough to slur my words. That’ll make her really mad!”

“Well, thanks for coming by,” Ouida said, “and tell Bobbie hello for me.”

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

If You Can’t Be Civil Be Silent

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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

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

A Mate for the Monster

A Mate for the Monster

A Mate for the Monster ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

The monster is seven and a half feet tall and as strong as ten men. He has a bolt in his neck and stitches in his enormous, flat-on-the-top head. He probably doesn’t know (and wouldn’t care if he did know) that he is made up of body parts from dead people. No matter where he goes or what he does, he scares people without even trying. That’s what makes him a monster.

He lives in a lonely castle on a mountaintop. He has no friends and his days are empty and pointless. His brain is not so addled that he can’t ask himself why he was ever created in the first place. He has recently taken to talking a bit and, when he’s not smoking cigars, drinking wine, or running around the countryside scaring people, he says things like, “Love dead—hate living.” This is not a good sign.

The mad scientist who made him, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and his equally mad colleague, Dr. Pretorius, see that the monster is not happy. He is not fulfilled and isn’t living up to his full potential as a monster. After much thought and deliberation, the two mad scientists decide that the monster needs one thing above all others: a mate who will appreciate him for what he is and won’t be repulsed by the way he looks or by his crude manners. They toy with the idea of creating a male mate but that just doesn’t seem the thing, somehow, so they decide they will create for him a female mate.

Dr. Frankenstein sends his hunchback assistant, Fritz, out on a midnight graveyard run. From the graves of the newly dead, Fritz will get the body parts needed to cobble together a female mate for the monster. He knows just the place, he says; leave everything to him.

Now, Fritz has never been overly scrupulous about where he gets what he needs. He isn’t above going to the village and, seeing a lone woman standing on a corner singing a song, hitting her in the head to subdue her and then strangling her. When he makes sure she’s dead, he puts her in a burlap bag and throws it over his shoulder and goes back to the castle. He knows Dr. Frankenstein will never ask questions as long as Fritz delivers the goods. The woman was just a nobody anyway. She’ll never be missed.

Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius spend about two weeks creating what they think is a perfect mate for the monster. They take as much time as they need without rushing; they want to get every little detail just right. When the next violent thunderstorm occurs, they will be ready to harness the lightning.

They don’t have long to wait. All day long the next Saturday the sky is turbulent and dark. Finally, at night, a fearsome storm comes down the mountain, tearing at the castle walls. The wind howls and the rain falls as if a spigot has been opened in the sky. The lightning seems to be exactly on top of the castle, as if made to order. The two mad scientists place the as-yet lifeless body of the female mate on a table, connect the conductors that will attract the life-giving lightning, and hoist the table upwards through a hole in the ceiling.

The monster knows what is going on in the laboratory and paces his chamber nervously. Dr. Frankenstein has told him he must stay away until they are ready for him to see his mate. He combs his hair; he tries on several suits of clothes but nothing seems just exactly right. He fears that his mate will be afraid of him and will try to get away. He wonders if he will have to tie her up or club her in the head to be able to get a kiss from her. He lies on the bed and watches the storm out the window until there is a knock at the door; it’s the hunchback Fritz telling him that Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius are ready for him to come to the laboratory.

When the monster sees his mate for the first time he is a little disappointed. She is standing between Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius and she’s swaying from side to side as if she might fall over. Her hair is very high off her head and frizzy as if electrified; white strands on both sides resemble bolts of lightning. Dr. Pretorius has dressed her in a flowing white gown that goes all the way to the floor.

She tries to pull away when she sees the monster standing in the doorway, but Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius hold her by the arms. As the monster walks across the room to her with a welcoming smile, she screams a piercing scream that rattles the castle to its very foundations. The monster is not put off by the scream but advances toward her. When he is face to face with her, Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius let go of her arms and withdraw to the dark recesses of the room. She surprises the monster by hissing at him like a snake, which he finds very arousing. When she screams again, he puts his enormous hands around her throat to get her to shut up. And so begins a great romance.

Dr. Frankenstein proposes a toast and they all have a friendly glass of champagne. They break the champagne glasses in the fireplace for good luck and then Dr. Pretorius, who is also an ordained minister, marries the monster and his mate so there won’t be any question of immorality going on in the castle.

They all live happily for many years to come in Castle Frankenstein on their mountaintop. Eventually Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius—even Fritz—all die because they are just ordinary men. The monster and his mate, however, live on and on. Through studying the writings of Dr. Frankenstein—and also Dr. Frankenstein’s father and grandfather—the monster has learned how to prolong his life and that of his mate for a very long time. The next thing he is working on is how to resurrect Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius from the dead. If he is able to do that, there will be no stopping any of them.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

When He Saw They Were Dead

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When He Saw They Were Dead image 1

When He Saw They Were Dead ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

His name was Edgar Delong and in 1921 he was fifteen years old. He had an accident in his sleep and they wouldn’t stop laughing at him. They called him baby and said he ought to be ashamed of himself. They kept it up all day. Finally he went and got a shotgun they didn’t know he had and, at seven minutes after four in the afternoon, he shot both of them in the chest, his mother first and then his father. When he saw that they were dead, he went up the stairs in the old house to the attic. He found a rope, climbed up on a table and tied one end of the rope to a rafter and the other end around his own neck. After pulling on the rope to make sure it would hold at both ends, he stepped off the table into the void. As he strangled to death he said, “This is the thing I’ve always wanted.”

It was written up in all the newspapers. People loved talking about it, recounting and embellishing all the details. The house where it happened stood vacant for years and was said to be haunted. Weeds grew up in the yard. Small boys threw rocks at the windows. The front porch began to sag. People claimed to hear demonic laughing coming from the house, gunshots and screams.

Finally a man bought the house and fixed the sagging porch, the broken windows, the missing shingles and the peeling paint. He lived with his large family in the house for more than twenty years. Then there were other families after that to put their imprint on the character of the house. The day would come when the only people who remembered Edgar Delong and what he had done were the superannuated.

Edgar Delong still existed, though, in the world the living cannot see. Every day in the house his mother and father laughed at him and every day he went and got the shotgun they didn’t know he had and, at seven minutes after four in the afternoon, shot both of them to death, first his mother and then his father. Every day he heard the startled cry from his mother right before he shot her and the strangled shout from his father. Every day he climbed the creaking old stairs to the attic, tied a rope around his neck and hanged himself. Every day he relived the whole thing, even though he was dead. Every day the same, the days unending.

More than eighty years after the death of Edgar Delong, a writer named Charles Delong rented the house for the summer. He was the grandson of Edgar Delong’s father’s brother and, so, a cousin of Edgar Delong. He had grown up hearing the stories and, when he began researching and writing a book about sensational murders, he knew he had to include a chapter in the book on the Delong double murder and suicide. He believed that by living in the house, if just for a few weeks, he would feel close to Edgar Delong and would understand him a way that no other living person could.

The house proved a wonderful inspiration to Charles Delong. While he didn’t believe in ghosts, he did believe that something of Edgar Delong remained behind in the house. Using newspaper accounts and photos of the day, along with family reminiscences and his own grandfather’s diary, he wrote an inspired and chilling account of the crime, to which he added a personal slant. “I am related by blood to the murderer,” he wrote, “and am writing about his crime in the house in which it occurred.”

He finished his book ahead of schedule and was sure it would be a success. He sent it off to his publisher and began working on his next book, a novel and a complete departure from crime. He still had a couple of weeks on his lease in the Delong house—which technically hadn’t been the Delong house for decades, although he still thought of it in those terms. He stocked up on groceries and planned to spend a quiet time alone.

Except that he wasn’t alone. Edgar Delong, his murderous young cousin, was there in the house with him, watching him, standing behind him, sometimes touching him on the shoulder or the back of the head. Edgar Delong would make himself known to Charles Delong when he believed the time was right.

The house had a soporific effect on Charles Delong. He took to taking naps on the couch in the afternoon, hearing only the ticking of the clock, the wind outside rustling the trees or the faraway barking of a dog. One afternoon during one of these naps he was made to see the thing that happened every day at seven minutes after four. He thought he was dreaming as he saw Edgar Delong emerge from the back of the house bearing a shotgun and walk with it toward his parents as they sat in the room they called the parlor. His mother drew back instinctively and gave a startled cry when Edgar shot her. His father began to stand up and emitted a strangled shout as the bullet entered his chest.

After he had killed them both, Edgar Delong turned to his cousin Charles Delong and said, “It’s always the same.”

Still believing he was dreaming, Charles Delong said, “I don’t understand.”

“Every day the same. They laugh at me and I keep killing them but I can’t make them stop.”

“None of this is real,” Charles Delong said. “You’re a figment. You don’t exit.”

“Maybe it’s a figment to you. To me it’s real and I can’t stop. I want to stop. I want you to help me to stop.”

“How can I do that?”

“Let me come into your body so I can have the means to leave this house.”

“No, I would never do that! It’s impossible!”

“I can make you see it every day. Live it every day. As I do.”

“No, it’s out of the question!”

“You wanted to know what it was like to be me.”

“You’re a murderer. I don’t want to be you.”

“We’re cousins. We’re the same blood.”


“I’m going up to the attic now and hang myself, as I have thousands of times before. I want you to come along and watch.”


“I think we’ve reached the point where there’s no longer a choice,” Edgar Delong said and raised the gun and shot his cousin Charles Delong squarely in the chest.

The body of Charles Delong wasn’t found for five days. When the police were called in to investigate and were unable to find a murder weapon or a motive, they deduced that the murderer was somebody that Charles Delong knew and had willingly admitted to the house.

And so it continued. Every day at seven minutes after four in the afternoon, Edgar Delong shot and killed first his mother and then his father, after which he climbed the stairs to the attic and hanged himself from a rafter. The only difference now was that he had his cousin Charles Delong there to experience the whole thing with him. Without end and ad infinitum. 

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp


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