The Book 2

It occurred to me that I don’t have any favorite Joel Olsteen moments. So on with the story!

He dozed off during the next day’s staff meeting. He hated being verbally reprimanded, especially by his principal. The principal, Joseph Eubank, was a handsome bachelor around 45. All the female teachers, married or otherwise, fawned over Eubank, especially Claire Cosca the English teacher.
Dick had harbored an unrequited love for Claire for five years. He’d never had the guts to ask her out. All he could muster was covertly riffling through her things, his rat nose twitching, searching for any sign of her scent. So far, he’d collected an empty perfume bottle, a battered blurry pic of her and some other guy (Dick cut out the other guy’s likeness out and replaced it with his own) and a Kleenex she staunched a bloody nose with which he’d dug out of the trashcan. These treasures he adored and lovingly doted on nightly in his own twisted ritual of zealous devotion. Dick swore he’d have Claire, even if it killed him.

Mr. Eubank did have the balls to ask Claire out and she joyously accepted, thus beginning an ongoing love affair. Richard had watched from afar, the little seed of jealousy growing into a full-fledged hate tree. Dick hated Eubank, more than he hated any other person, living or dead, beside his father.
That night, he dragged his cot downstairs and put it near the front door next to the big window. He decided to drink his beer before he went to bed, hoping to spend the night in alcohol soaked unconsciousness. He almost succeeded. He’d just plopped down on his cot when an audible voice said,

“Richard. Are you there?”

Dick bolted upright. “Who is it? Who’s there?” His face twitched nervously as he listened. He heard the skittering of tiny feet on tile. The roaches! He grabbed a can of spray and sprayed a barrier around the perimeter of his cot. He checked his box to make sure Claire’s things were safe. Satisfied he fell back onto his pillow and closed his eyes.

It was his own screams that woke him. Roaches had breached his poison barrier and were crawling up his arm. He shook them off as he jumped to his feet. The roaches retreated quickly into the room’s darkest corner. There they joined a mass of roaches shaped vaguely human.

“Richard,” said the form in a distinctly masculine voice.


“God damn, son. You’re a disappointing sight.”

“You should talk. You’re crawling with roaches.”

“I’m dead. And a lot better off than you from the looks of it. What does your mother say?”

“She still loves me more than you ever did. I’m still her favorite.”

“And Charlie?”

“He’s on the East Coast. Doing alright.”

“So what are you doing here, Richard? What do you want?”

“I’m going to sell the place,” said Dick defiantly.

“No! Never! Don’t you see? There are things more precious than money. Idiot!”

“Oh yeah? What kinds of things?”

The roach-ridden spirit refused to answer. “Look, fix the place up. Live here if you must. But never, ever sell the house! And for godsakes, quit flirting with the goddamn ghost!” The mass of roaches dissipated by degrees until only shadows remained.

Dick spent the rest of the night in his beat up Toyota pickup.
He took off the next day and drove to the foothills. He hiked for miles, lost in his own thoughts. He hadn’t been especially close to his father. Adam Tortellini was a brutal and distant man. Any doting to be had was had by his older brother Charlie. As a result, Dick had always been a momma’s boy. He was never good enough in his father’s eyes. And as a final insult to Dick, his father had left him nothing but half the house in his will. Charlie had become the executor of the estate and managed the family’s substantial finances. Dick had always wanted to dig his father’s corpse up and kill him all over again for that facetious blow. And now it seemed that Adam’s ghost had come back to haunt him. But that didn’t sit well with him. Dick had never believed in ghosts and didn’t see any reason he should start.

He rationalized that his encounter must have been the result of exhaustion mixed with alcohol. Nothing more. Being alone in the sunlit wilderness restored his energy and whatever gumption he possessed. With his rodent’s features twitching, Dick returned home. And this time, he intended to do damage. He stopped for some heavy-duty roach bombs and spray and prepared for his assault. He figured the best place to start was where the wall was hollow in the hallway. Using a sledgehammer, he knocked holes into the wall, his flimsy muscles quivering from the effort.

Decades-old sheetrock crumbled around him revealing a hidden stairway into a sizeable room furnished with only a desk and chair. In the center of the room was a white circle made of salt and in the center of the circle lay a book. The floor was carpeted with roaches that advanced on Richard with purpose. But he wasn’t unprepared. He lobbed two roach bombs into the room and raced downstairs. He imagined he could hear their collective scream as they choked and died. And he wasn’t disappointed.

The hidden room’s floor was a mass grave of roaches. Their bodies crunched beneath his feet as he descended the stairs. The desk was littered with papers scribbled with strange symbols and formulas. Most of it was gibberish to his untrained eye, written in a language apparently dreamt up by a psychotic. A search of the desk drawers revealed a jeweled dagger and sheath, a stone mortar and pestle, a branch of white oak about 13 inches long, and a hooded robe. Touching these items made Dick uneasy, so he put them back and turned to the book.

“Step lightly. Don’t disturb my circle,” whispered the book.

Though confused about the source of the ethereal voice, Dick did as he was asked and picked up the heavy tome. It was bound in human flesh bleached white. On its cover was a pair of deep red lips with a keyhole in their center.

“The key goes here, Dick,” said the lips and puckered.

Dick squealed and dropped the book. He raced frantically from the room and out the front door.

He returned the next day, against his better judgment, face twitching spastically. It took every ounce of courage he had to descend into the room. As he did, he could feel a negative force trying to stop him.

“It’s not going to work you mean old bastard!” he called aloud.
The presence thickened so much as he entered the secret room he could’ve cut it with a knife. Dick’s face was twitching uncontrollably, messing up his vision, but he pressed onward. He crossed into the circle and the presence ceased.

“Now what are you going to do?” Dick challenged.

In response, roaches poured from the cracks in the wall.

“Take me, Dick,” pleaded the book, “Take me now!”

He snatched the book and bolted from the room.


About That One Guy

Jason lives, laughs and loves in the Land of Enchantment. He has been many exciting things in his life, but his title has always been "author." His book, "The Ruined Man," was a finalist in the 2017 NM-AZ Book Awards. Follow him on Facebook at: Twitter: @infinityjones and Instagram @theruinedman and don't forget to check out his blog at

Posted on February 20, 2012, in Author, Fiction, Religion and Spirituality, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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