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FRONT PAGE
HALLOWEEN TALE: BY JERRY LIBSTAFF
SAGE GALLON!
HALLOWEEN GAYLE SLATEN
HELMUT NEWTON RETROSPECTIVE
A HAUNTING ON BUNKER HILL
SAM THE SPIRITS GEEK!
INTERVIEW JOHN INGRAM DRUMMER OF THE CIRCLE JERKS
VITALLY KOSHLYAK, ARTIST, UKRAINE
MAMA TILA'S THAI HOME COOKING
DTLAL POET LAUREATE: GAYLE SLATEN
PHILIPPE MANIER FRENCH ARTIST
THE CONNECTICUT MUSE: SUZANNE CAREY
JOSS ROSSITER: South African Artist
AMY STEWART HALE - ARTIST INTERVIEW
ARNO ANDREY: FRANCE
BY INVITATION: GUEST CREATIVES
HINDENBURG:
GUSTAV MAHLER
KOREATOWN
UK & EUROPEAN UNION BUREAU
NEAL TURNER, ARTIST - FRANCE
BEHZAD BAGHERI ARTIST IRAN
JENN VILETTA: FASCISM IS...
SAGA: UNAUTHORIZED DTLA HISTORY
HISTORICAL POSTER ART: Vietnamese Patriotic Front
WPA POSTER ART: LESSER KNOWN EXAMPLES
OUR RUSSIAN HISTORICAL HERITAGE
DPRK REVEALED
DAVID SKYRIE, ARTIST, CANADA
SLAVERY IN AMERICA
TOM STONE: A WITNESS IN PURGATORY
MAGAZINE COMMENTS
A NEW TASTE
EXHIBITS!
DTLAL MAGAZINE FAMILY ALBUM
CONTACTS
PAST PEEKS
ECOSPHERE RESOURCES
BRIAN BROWN: SOUTHERN HERITAGE
A KENTUCKY STORY
VICTORIAN WOMEN OF COLOR
MAPPLETHORPE & WAGSTAFF
SHARON MARIE TATE
NEW POETS! POETRY CONNECTION
CARNEGIE HALL
A GAY GANGSTERS' LIFE
REMEMBERING RAY BRADBURY
CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

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I first lived on the Key Peninsula in the fall of 1971. I came here to withdraw in self-imposed exile and recover from a time of loss and devastation. 

 

My mother had been terminally ill for some time. I’d left collage that spring and returned home to Renton to help my father. I found a night position at Boeing where he worked days. Medical bills had drained his funds and we shared 24-hour care for my mother. When she passed late that summer, my father became despondent and he surrendered to his sorrow in a car accident shortly after the funeral. 

 

The family house was in foreclosure due to medical bills. On top of everything else the economy forced Boeing to cut back and I was laid off within weeks. I suddenly found myself without a family, a home or a job. Alone and destitute, I had nowhere to go.

 

When all seemed hopeless, an older woman I’d worked with called and told me about a house she had recently inherited in the country. Her grandfather had passed away and left her, his only relative, the home. It was rather distant from Seattle but since the legal process would take several months before she could sell, she kindly offered to let me stay there as caretaker for the winter. She’d arranged for the old man’s personal items to be moved to the basement but the house was still furnished and ready to move in. 

 

That weekend, she led me, and my suitcases the 60 plus miles into the woods to see the old place.

 

It sat at the end of a long, rutted drive, secluded in the middle of 40 acres. She showed me through the three stories. From the living room and kitchen we went up the narrow, steep stairway to the bedroom, and finally down into the basement filled with boxes of her grandfather’s personal items piled next to an ancient oil furnace. 

 

Nothing in the house had changed since the fifties. Her grandfather had preserved everything as it was the day his wife died all those years before. My friend showed me a door in the kitchen that had been nailed shut. Beyond it was a six-foot drop. Apparently, her grandmother, after nagging her husband to repair the decaying porch, stepped out one afternoon and the structure collapsed under her. She injured her back and became an invalid for several months until complications took her. Her Grandfather never replaced the porch, just secured the door and spent the remainder of his years living with guilt.

 

As my friend drove away I bounced the house keys in my hand, a new home and time to create a new beginning.

 

The first week I slept in the bed at the top of the stairwell.  The room was open to abrupt steps without a guardrail. I had to be mindful not to fall over the edge when I woke at night since both the bathroom and the only phone were on the main floor. The house was precarious but my friend’s generosity coupled with the isolation helped sooth my injured soul.

 

The first night, as I slept in the musty old bed, the mattress began to shake. Vibrations started gently but quickly grew in intensity. I woke believing there was an earthquake, jumped from the bed, and tripped down the stairs nearly falling in an attempt to escape. When I reached the front porch all was quiet.  I went back to the living room and turned on the old TV to hear the news. After a half hour without any announcement, I returned upstairs to the bed and lay there in the dark. I decided it was most likely the old furnace pounding and to check the ancient machine in the morning as I fell back to an uncomfortable sleep. 

 

The bed trembled me awake on several more occasions but after a few, I stopped rushing down the stairs to escape.  Try as I may, I could find no explanation for the vibrations and I finally realized, the moment I rose from the mattress the shaking seemed to cease.  I decided to sleep on the couch downstairs. 

 

During a particularly gusty storm one evening, the power went out. I pulled an extra comforter from the closet and began a fitful night on the couch without heat where I tossed and turned in the cold. The storm seemed endless. Night dragged on and much later, I lit a candle to check the time on the battery-powered clock that sat atop the TV. Wrapped in the blanket, I moved close but couldn’t see the hour so I picked up the clock and held it close. It struck me that the clock hands were missing. I glanced over my shoulder into the darkness and chills crawled up my spine. Reluctantly, I returned to the couch, bundled up and sat with the candle burning until an icy dawn filtered through the trees. 

 

In the cold morning light I found the clock hands and the small knob that secured them lying on the floor beneath the TV.  I convinced myself the knob must have loosened during my two moves and finally just fell off. I reattached the hands and tightened the knob firmly. 

 

A week later with power restored and the old furnace warming the house, I just couldn’t sleep. Every loss I’d experienced revisited me and I became crushed by a deep depression.  I imbibed a few glasses of wine and watched The Late Show to distract those thoughts and find some peace. After a long while I finally faded into an uncomfortable slumber but was set upon by a hideous nightmare that forced me awake. I’d left the TV on but when I opened my eyes there was only darkness and silence. I had no memory of turning the set off so I cautiously clicked on the lamp.  When I looked at the clock I froze in disbelief. The hands were missing again. They, along with the knob, lay in a small pile on the floor under the TV. I hunched into a ball on the couch and sat in silence and dim lamplight the remainder of the night.

 

When daylight finally came, exhausted, I threw the clock into the garbage, dug out an old travel clock I’d had for years and wound it. The hands were firmly attached and illuminated so I could see the time even during storms and a plastic cover protected the face.

 

Two months later, on a gray winter afternoon I took a walk in the forest to get some fresh air. I returned home as the sun began to wane, hungry from my hike and vaguely hopeful. Jobs at Boeing were about to open again and I’d been asked to interview. In the kitchen I heated a potpie and poured a glass of wine to celebrate. I took my dinner to the living room to watch the news while I ate. As I turned on the TV, I glanced at the travel clock. On the bottom, inside the plastic crystal, both hands lay detached from their stem. 

 

Some months later after being called back to work, I joined my friend for coffee in the Boeing cafeteria.  I’d just found an apartment and my three-month commute from the Peninsula had come to an end. With legalities concluded, she was finally able to put her grandfather’s house on the market and had spent the previous weekend emptying it for sale. 

 

She leaned in and told me she’d found her grandfather’s journal from the time of his wife’s accident. Her grandmother was confined to the bed at the top of the stairs. Although she was paralyzed, tremors caused her to shake violently. Her husband spent his nights on the couch down below and listened to her bed shudder until the end.  

 

The doctor had told him there was nothing to be done; it was just a matter of time. He said he refused to let her go. Desperate to keep her, he believed she would survive if he could only stop time. My friend’s smile filled with sorrow and her voice became a whisper.  “We found a cardboard box in the basement. It was filled with old clocks. All the hands had been removed.”

 

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