Monday, March 5, 2012


“Bob, there’s something in my apartment.”
Bob raised an eyebrow.
“You’re gonna think I’m nuts…”
“I already do, so go ahead,” Bob said. Karen didn’t even crack a little smile that worried Bob.
“I think… no, there is something…”
Karen hesitated for a moment.
“You know… like a ghost of something? That or I’m starting to crack up? Nobody believes me when I tell them what’s happening… I am starting to doubt my own sanity.  Bob, I know that you believe in these things… you told me your story once… or I hope it wasn’t all bullshit?”
 Bob gave Karen a queer look, he could believe of all things she would ask him about something like this… but then again?
Bob had indeed squared off with something once and it still made the hair on the back of his neck stand up when he thought about it. It was when he lived in New Orleans before Katrina… he was working in a very old bar off the French Quarter across from Preservation Hall; the place where musician played old time jazz for the tourists. Whatever it was… would fuck with him and his bar staff… throwing glasses, pushing people and attacking them in general for good reason. The final straw came when it cornered one of his favorite waitress Kelly in the storage room. As the bar's team leader Bob had gone to task with whatever it was in various ways… and finally something paid off and the attacks subsided. But that was many years ago, before Katrina. The last he heard, it was back at the bar, and up to its old tricks. Oddly now, the haunting at the dingy little bar was a tourist grabber and its current owner was making bank on it. That old adage … people love to get scared… or so they think?
“Karen, I don’t know what I could do? I mean, what I told you did happen to me…  I know that it’s possible… but I was half drunk and a little fucking crazy back then… I was in a pissing match. I was stupid… thought I was Bill Murray from Ghostbusters or something?”
Bob could see Karen’s hope in him starting to fade.
“Where are you living now?”
“I’m in Culver City, I’m in an apartment building off Washington Blvd... it’s kinda older,” she said.
Bob let out a sigh.
“Well, I have the afternoon off … so let’s go take a look; shall we?”
Bob got in his car and followed Karen in her Toyota back to her place. It looked like your average run of the mill apartment, Bob guessed it was probably constructed in the 1940’s…maybe 50’s, when Culver City was booming with studio jobs at MGM and RKO Studios. In the warm California sunlight, it looked harmless enough.
Karen parked her car and got into Bob’s car. They sat there and she filled him in on the details.
“It’s crazy, I’ve lived here for three years, with no problem… then all of a sudden a few weeks ago this started. The noises, things breaking. It’s affecting everything. I took a sick day today… and I took two last week.”
Karen lifted her glasses and to reveal the dark circles under her eyes.
“I can’t go to work looking like a crack-coon.”
“Karen, this thing ever attack you?”
“Once, I felt like I couldn’t breathe… like it was trying to smother me.”
“Damn Karen, you’re pretty tough, hanging in there like that,” Bob said giving her a playful tap on the chin.
“Not really, that was last night… that’s why I called you this morning... who ya gonna call... you call Bob.”
And there he was now, stuck in Karen’s bedroom with something that did not want him there. What the fuck? Bob thought, he was no priest! He was a bartender; He mixed spirits... He didn’t make a living doing battle with them! Bob liked Karen, thought she’s a good person and an old friend, but this kinda shit isn’t like helping someone move or set-up their home theater… this was bad juju as they used to say back in Nawlins. But in truth, as much as Bob hated to admit it, he was kind of sensitive to such things, and had been for as long as he could remember...
That noise… what the fuck was that noise? Bob’s mind was in a thousand places all at once. It couldn’t be anything other than what he thought it had been… and that’s what gave him the chicken skin… it was a laugh… a laugh of a woman and she didn’t sound pretty like Julia Roberts. Bob sucked it up and moved to the bedroom door and tried to reach for the knob. He felt like he was being slowed down and smothered, he was having a hard time moving. Bob didn’t panic, instead he dug deep and concentrated and though of the most macho fuck that he could conjure up his mind; Teddy fucking Roosevelt! He just blanked every thing out of his mind and concentrated on kick ass, Teddy Roosevelt to come charging into his rescue.
Sure Bob was just clutching at straws… he was just going on instinct, one thing he knew was, that in his heart he was stronger than whatever was in the room with him. Amazingly, Bob suddenly felt the energy shift in the room, from dark to light; he was fighting off whatever force that was keeping him there. And Bob could have sworn for a fucking spit second; he saw the Bull Moose himself, dressed in his uniform from the Battle of San Juan Hill… like he was standing in front of him pushing whatever force back, and giving him safe passage across those five feet to the door.
“BULLY BITCH!” Were the two words that came out of Bob’s mouth.
The door flung open; Karen was standing on the other side of the door bug eyed.  Bob fell forward to the ground, he stayed there on his stomach, resting on his elbows.
He was breathing heavy, and looked cold and clammy.  “Mother fucker,” Bob muttered.
The door tried to close by itself, but Bob’s legs blocked it from happening.
Karen ran over and pulled Bob out of the doorway, allowing it close.
“What’s bully bitch? Was that you who said that, cuz it didn’t sound like you at all? It was freaky,” Karen said.
Bob rolled over on his back, his mouth was a gape trying to suck in as much air as he could… he looked up at Karen and laughed.
“Ha! I think I startled it?”
Bob laughed a bit.
 “Using a catch phrase used by our 26th President; I guess? By the way it sounded like you got some kinda old woman in there… a mean one,” Bob said.
That news really creeped Karen out. Then Karen looked at Bob stumped; he could see that she was still trying to think who the 26th President was?
“Teddy Roosevelt… burly guy, buck teeth… always pounding his fist on stuff… I though I saw him in there with me for a second?” That’s why that man had always been his favorite President, Bob thought.
“Oh, right…. I’m sorry, I barely know Obama right now.”
Then Karen thought about what Bob said for a moment.
“Did you say, you saw Teddy Roosevelt in my bedroom?" Kare though a bit longer... "shouldn't you have prayed to Jesus? You're stranger than I thought?”
“Yeah right? I guess, I just like to work my way up the chain of command... I don’t know what happened? It kinda had me in there. And I just thought of toughest dead son of a bitch that I could think of, and mentally screamed for help. It's kinda fuzzy after that? And who knows maybe Roosevelt did show up and save my ass? I felt someone helping me in there… whatever happened… it pumped up my nuts enough to get me out of there… I was fucking paralyzed. You got a cold beer?
“Good, I like how you’re prepared; I think I’ll work better at this with a buzz going.”
Bob picked himself up from the floor.
“How long was I in the bedroom?”
“Maybe, less than ten,” Karen said.
“Boy, it felt a hell of a lot longer… like forever and a day.”
Karen walked over and gave Bob a bottle Stella Artois. Bob looked at the closed door to the bedroom and took a long gulp.
“Do you need anything else,” Karen asked.
Before Bob took a drink of the beer, he put the bottle in the air, as to toast.
“To Colonel Teddy,” Bob said truly meaning it, the took a swig.
“I could use that ass of Isabel’s right about now,” Bob mumbled, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
“Ah nothing, the gal I was… with last night… she had some kinda Harry Potter bullshit tattooed on her ass. “Goblet of Fire” or some shit? We could use some of that magic on her ass right now; that’s all.”
“Speak for yourself… Harry Potter? How old was she?”
“I don’t know? We carded her… wait a minute, wait a minute, we don’t need Harry Potter, what we need is some real magic; we need Mama Basco.”
“Who’s that,” said Karen?
“Who dat? She’s the juju lady who helped me with that problem at the bar in NOLA. Look Karen, you’re not crazy… you defiantly got something in this apartment.”
Bob finished his beer.
“Got another?” Bob said with a belch.
Karen went to grab him another beer.
“You can’t stay here tonight. Do you a have any place to crash, till we figure out a game plan?
“I will not stay at my mothers.”
“What you’d rather stay here and deal with this? Are you kidding me?”
“I’m just sayin’, Mom’s is not an option for me,” Karen said.
“Right… well you’re gonna sleeping on the couch. Grab your toothbrush and your tampons or whatever? I gotta be at work in a couple hours. I’m closing tonight. We’re gonna have to regroup on this problem of yours."
For a Friday night it wasn’t too crazy at The Townhouse, where Bob tended bar and closed most nights. It was the oldest bar in Venice, and located on Windward AvenueThe oldest standing part of tobacco tycoon Abbott Kinney’s fantastic dream resort, which he modeled on Venice, Italy. It was once called; The Coney Island of the West Coast at it’s height at end of the 19th Century. The Townhouse saloon had always been there, through all of Venice’s, springs, summers, falls and winters. So far it had stood the test of time… it even boasted of a basement that was once a speakeasy during prohibition. Venice was the only place that seemed to have a little bit of the color and strangeness the kind that Bob enjoyed in The Big Easy… and Venice was his hometown. The only thing that Bob didn’t like about the Townhouse was that the crowd drank mostly beer and easy cocktails like run and coke’s and Red Bull and vodka. Bob missed using his mixing skills… every night he’d make himself something like  a Sazerac or a Boston Ritz Fizz for him and whomever he’d enjoyed chatting at the bar with that particular night. One other thing about the Town House that none of the staff really spoke about was… it was haunted as well. But the spirits at The Townhouse weren’t shits like the one at his bar in New Orleans… so everyone just pretended that they weren’t there… but Bob had felt their presence… sometimes when he’d close up, he could feel someone touch him or hear someone say goodnight as he turned out the lights.
It was 3AM when Bob walked the several blocks to his apartment of Speedway. He found Karen out on his couch. The walk from the bar, gave Bob time to think of his Karen problem. He’d make the call to Mamma Basco later that afternoon, but now he felt pretty dead himself. Bob stripped down and hit the bed hard, it had been a damn long day… he closed his eyes and soon found himself somewhere in the Caribbean with Miss Leoni, his old junior high school English teacher. The first woman that he’d truly been enamored with. In his dream she had not aged, she was in her late twenties… and he was in fact in the dream, now older than her. Miss Leoni was just was as beautiful as he’d remembered, the vivacious brunette with an iridescent smile.  She wore a pink bikini with white polka dots which she filled out to perfection; the two frolicked, laughed as they drank out of coconut shells in the crystal turquoise water … and then Leoni flung her coconut in the ocean and kissed him.

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