Most of the people in these stories are at least tangentially based on real humans. Big Dave was a fellow I worked with many years ago and his description in the stories is accurate. The reader should also notice that all these stories start and mostly end in a bar somewhere. I don’t play adventure games but, I am told that most of them start in bars as well. There are still several Big Dave stories to be told, and I am working on them, but I just couldn’t get them done in time to come out in this book. Many elements of these stories are true. The fun and the trick is to figure out what is true and what is fantasy.
We stood for a couple of minutes, and I finally called out, "Okay Vasquez, where-in-the-hell are ya? You want yer pud back, come and get it!"
Dave started shushing me. "What are you trying to do, get us arrested?"
"I'm just trying to prove to you there ain't no ghost." That's when I noticed Rita wasn't with us anymore. "Where'd she go? She's the one got us out here. What'd she do, run away?"
Out of the dark, Rita called, "Oye! Come here you two."
I couldn't exactly see her, but we followed the sound of her voice toward another part of the formation I knew pretty well. I used to bring my wife Michele up there before she was my wife. It was a nice private little place like an amphitheater scooped out of the solid stone with a wide bench at the back. It was away from the main part of the park, and on nights when the moon was bright, it was a pretty romantic spot. We'd park outside the gate, climb over and…well, you can guess from there.
When we got around the rock and inside the niche, it was so dark I couldn't see anything. "Where are you Rita?"
"I'm here. Come and sit down."
Annoyed but still willing to play along with the joke, I felt my way back to the bench with Dave right behind me. We sat and suddenly it was as though the dark little cavity in the rock had turned into a deep freeze. A silvery dot of light grew from a pinpoint to door size as though it was an aperture opening in the fabric of the night to let in an eerie crepuscular light.
I don't know what big Dave was doing, but I started shaking with more than cold and it was 'feets don't fail me now!' time, only my 'feets' did fail me. I couldn't move! I felt frozen to the bench with the supernatural cold. My eyes were bugging out as the spectral light coagulated into the figure of a man, tall and lanky, with a mop of jet-black hair and a huge drooping moustache. He probably would have been handsome except his head seemed crooked on his neck and his face was twisted with pain. He was dressed like a Mexican vaquero and was holding his wide round sombrero in front of him as though to shield his loins.
Fear was squeezing my chest so that I could hardly breath, but I managed to ask, "Who…who…are you?"
From somewhere, "Rio Rita" Vasquez stepped into the glow, was part of the glow! She lifted her hand and touched the tortured face of the ghost. "Te quiero Tiburcio," she said. Her voice was like the edge of a chisel drawn up my spine.
The ghost opened his arms to embrace her, and in doing so he moved the wide sombrero from his loins. The sight made me cringe with empathy, and I heard Dave gasp with the same emotion. The crotch of Tiburcio's brown pants was blood stained from his belt line to his knees.
Rita looked at us and her eyes turned my insides to water. "Bring it," she commanded, and her words lifted me from the bench to my feet. I stretched out my hand holding the jar, and Tiburcio took it from me. His touch was icy and malignant, and numbed my arm from fingertip to shoulder. I was being pulled into the glowing aperture and I was struggling to pull back when I felt big Dave's hands on the collar of my shirt and the seat of my pants, hauling me back from the supernatural trap. He dragged me out of the niche, and just outside it, we took off at a dead run for the car. We jumped in and did not stop until we were in Lancaster.
A few days later, Dave and I went back out to where The Hole in the Wall had been and found the place had burned down. There was nothing left but some charred sticks, and truth be told, they looked like they had been there for a hundred years.
What really happened that night I do not know, though Dave and I have talked it over a lot. Did we really see the ghost of Tiburcio Vasquez? And what the hell was Rita? Was she a ghost too? Maybe the ghost of Rosaria Leiva? But if it was Rosaria why didn't she just take the jar down to Vasquez's Rocks herself?
"Maybe she wasn't able," Dave said. "Remember she never touched the jar. You got it down and you picked it up from the bar to look closer at it and you carried it when we went up there. She never touched it."
Maybe he's right. Maybe she couldn't, or maybe it was some kind of ghost conspiracy to catch a couple of live ones and she was the bait. At any rate that's the story and it still scares the bejesus out of me when I think about it, but every time Dave and I have talked about it since it happened we always end up saying "Too bad The Hole in the Wall is gone though. It was a great bar."
ALSO BY G. LLOYD HELM
ALSO BY G. LLOYD HELM
Review by C. L. Kraemer
Dragons Of The Ice
Serpents and Doves
G. Lloyd Helm
This tale drops the reader into the boiling mess of the 1960's; Vietnam, integration, and the rush to adulthood for many of us. The main character, Stephen Mitchell, is a normal, albeit, religion-based teenager who is jolted from his California upbringing when he heads off to college in Tennessee.
His view of life is vastly opposite of those living in the deep South and he learns, quickly, what he believes can garner him mountains of trouble.
G. Lloyd Helm has put his finger on the feel of the era, bringing the angst of the War and confusion of Civil Rights to the forefront. As a girl who was uprooted from California and thrust into Alabama a month after Dr. Martin Luther King's march, I empathized with this character. I, too, grew up with myriad nationalities. My father was a career Marine and in our household there was only one color—green. I spent my time in the south in a state of confusion and silence.
I highly recommend this book. It is well thought out with lush characters and visuals of the surroundings. Anyone who might have wondered about the turbulent times of the sixties will get a great insight with this read.
The title “Serpents and Doves” comes from the warning Jesus gave to his disciples as he sent them out to preach the gospel, knowing the dangers they were going into. He said “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Stephen Mitchell learns first-hand what that warning means when he goes to a Tennessee church college in the midst of the turbulent sixties. He learns about friendship, war, protest, the sexual revolution, and civil rights.
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When an author writes a story, creates a world and the creatures in it, does the literary world actually come into being in some parallel universe? Joshua Gordon, creative writing professor and writer of pulp fiction thinks so and is in fact so convinced it is true that when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness he sets out to find a protégé who he can convince to take over as the creator god of the world. He finds that protégé in the person of John Fisher.