Daybreak on the Banshee: A Flash Memoir by Marc Alexander Valle

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First published in Potato Soup Journal on October 20, 2019

Daybreak on the Banshee

by Marc Alexander Valle

The women cried and wailed and prayed behind us, and my 7-year-old mind thought the dead body would look like something from the movies. I never saw a dead body before, and I was certain that it would look like a skeleton from a cartoon or at least Freddy Kruger. It would definitely be something that comes out only at night.

I stepped forward with my father and older brother towards the casket. All the conversation and noise in the room became silent inside of my head. I could only hear my thoughts, and all I could think was that I had to let dad step forward first and to be careful.

The toy soldier in my pocket poked into my thigh, and I readjusted it.

“What’s wrong?” my father said.

I looked up at him. “Nothing.”

I peered into the casket, and took in a deep breath.

It was my adult cousin, the one who lived down the street. No skeleton or wounds or blood or winkled skin. Just my cousin. It reminded me of a wax figure. My cousin. Then the silence fell to the back, and I could hear the wailing and the prayers of the woman once more.

“That’s it?” I said to my dad.

“Yeah,” he said. “Quiet.”

I felt compelled to go into my pocket and leave my cousin the toy soldier amongst all the flowers. I didn’t dare.

Death had only been a concept to me. Outside of television and movies, I only had urban legends. There was the time they found a dead body down at the end of the street in tall weeds. My older friend, Vic, said that it was done by a serial killer, who broke free from the Allentown State Hospital. He said that the escapee planned on killing all of the adults and torturing the children to exact some form of revenge. Despite my father’s assurance against this claim, I feared a man was roaming the streets with a gun that night. I couldn’t sleep. They ruled it suicide the next day, and I was relieved.

There was the story of the boy, who drowned in the Lehigh River next to Bucky Boyle Park. They said he swam too close to the whirlpool that swirled in the center, and he couldn’t swim back. For that reason, they told us kids to not even so much as step into the water.

Then there was the story of the boy, who fell out of a window in our former Brooklyn apartment complex. They said his ghost haunted the court yard. I had nightmares about him until we moved.

The wailing and the prayers grew even louder, and it began to make me sick to my stomach. I had enough of looking and standing still.

I looked back up to my father.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” I said.

“Quiet,” he said, then took my hand and we walked away.

Back in the car and on our way home, my father reminded me and my brother that although our cousin was dead in the physical form, he was still alive in spirit. And that spirit is everlasting and although we cannot see him, he’s still with us. The moment he described my cousin, I imagined the translucent ghost of Christmas past from a TV version of Christmas Carol.

“Do you think Freddy Kruger could beat a ghost?” I said to my older brother.

“I don’t know,” my brother said.

“Cause Freddy’s got claws,” I said.

“You’re dumb,” he said. “Nothing can beat a ghost.”

I looked back out the window and noticed that it was a beautiful day. When I got home, I would go outside and play with Mitch. Mitch was fun, and he would let me lead. We’d race and play with our toys, and I’d give him the soldier that was scarping my thigh, and I’d tell him that I don’t think I like funerals.

It was a beautiful day. No clouds were in sight, and I could see a faint moon above, immersed in blue sky. A couple of sparrow streaked across it. A gust of air from my father’s window blew into my face. The sun touched everything. And there was plenty of time before dark.

by Marc Alexander Valle ©2019

My short story, Daybreak on the Banshee, published

My short story, Daybreak on the Banshee, has been published on Potato Soup Journal. Here’s the link: http://potatosoupjournal.com/daybreak-on-the-banshee-by-marc-alexander-valle/

 

The Cloud-eater by Marc Alexander Valle

Reality is a conversation with yourself.

That’s how I was going to start the poem. I became inspired to write it while I was waking up. I had to use the bathroom quick first. It was going to be my greatest poem. By the time I got to the computer, I forgot what I was going to say.

Reality is a conversation with yourself. A conversation full of narrative threads and spider-web worldviews.

I won’t have to worry about being fast enough at age 80. A machine will be in my head with a connection to the future form of the cloud and all my past thoughts will be at my disposal. I will write my great poem.

Reality is a conversation with yourself. A conversation full of narrative threads and spider-web worldviews, born from the fire of existence.

I’ll go to bed that night and have the best sleep of my life and have a dream better than all the dreams I’ve ever dreamt. I’ll revisit old memories intertwined with old fantasies that will turn into new adventures. I’ll get to use all of my collected knowledge to solve riddles and puzzles and unlock the greatest mysteries of the world. Did Socrates exist? Who was Shakespeare? Where was Jesus during the unrecorded years? I’m not sure if I’ll ever wake from that dream that night. No one ever really knows with those sorts of things.

© 2019 Marc Alexander Valle

Published Piece: 34 and Up

34 and Up

by Marc Alexander Valle

     At 15, a classmate, Billy Murphy, was shot to death by his half-brother, Jason Roberts. It was the result of an armed, verbal argument. The altercation started over food, but ended with Billy being fire upon as he watched television. The following day, the high school loud speaker said that counseling was available to all students. Two female friends of Billy were crying in my English class. They were sent to the guidance office.

At 34, I found a former classmate, Sara Rodgers, on an online dating website. We met for a few drinks. She was in that same English class as those two grieving girls.

“Was it really true Billy was shot over a pierogi?” I said.

“Yeah it was,” she said.

“Wow. We were only sophomores, so I hadn’t had a class with him yet.”

“Marc, you did have a class with him! He sat in front of you in that English class for two whole marking periods!”

I still can’t remember Billy sitting in front of me at 15, but a thought started to brew in my mind over the next few months: From the time Billy died until that date with Sara, I’d gotten to experience The Matrix Trilogy, Xbox video games, the discovery of over one thousand new planets, two new presidents, the pleasure of reading Shakespeare, the joy of singing karaoke, performing open mic poetry, my older brother’s wedding, saying “I love you” to a woman, earning my degree in English, camera phones, wi-fi, Wikipedia, podcasts, Facebook, YouTube, google, e-mail, apps, skyping, texting, vining, tweeting, eating the best buffalo wings in the county and figuring out what my favorite brand of beer is.

I don’t know how I blocked out Billy Murphy.

Would he have blocked out me?