Dream Journal #2- The Twenty-Ninth of May

The first thing I remember-  I am standing in a field that is littered with garbage and old machine parts.  I look down and realize that my clothes are all ripped up and muddy.  My fingernails are bleeding and throbbing with pain but I have no idea how I hurt them.

Slight tingle on the back of my neck.  The distinct feeling that I am being watched.

I turn around and discover that there is an old decrepit building about fifty feet away, on the outer edge of the field.  A few of the windows are broken out, some are open.  It looks like an old factory of some kind, but I don’t see any signs or doors.  I’m just turning away from the building when I notice that someone is moving past one of the open windows on the second floor.

At first it looks like a man staring out of the window at me, then I realize that the proportions are all wrong for a normal human.  The head is way too big, the eyes don’t look right and the color of the skin is all off.  The deformed figure draws closer to the window, now staring down at me with one huge eye.

I am frozen in place, suddenly terrified by the creature and the way it is looking at me.

dream journal 2-

Somehow I manage to break out of the trance it has on me.  I turn back around and start running through the field.  I have only traveled a short distance when an siren of some sort goes off.  It is a loud, repetitive “chirping – buzz” sound, ringing out over and over and over…

The image of the field disappears.  Everything is swallowed by sudden darkness.

A moment later I’m opening my eyes.  I realize that I’m laying in my bed and the sound that I took to be a siren is actually the alarm clock.

As I climb out of bed to turn it off the memory of the creature watching me resurfaces and I feel a slight chill crawling up my spine.

dream journal 2 photo 2-

[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved

Reduce to Silence

“Is that what you were talking about?”  Charlotte Altomare said.

“Yes, there it is!”  Her husband, Jack, said.   “It’s a replica of the Liberty Bell.  I’ve been wanting to come see this since we moved back.  I used to come to this park quite often when I was a kid.  Wait until you hear the sound this thing makes!”

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They continued walking along the paved trail that led to where the large bell was located.  There was a metal plaque attached to the concrete just below.  Charlotte leaned over it and read the words on the plaque aloud:

“Dedicated to you, a free citizen in a free land.”  She said.  “The dimensions and tone are identical with those of the original Liberty Bell when it rang out our independence in 1776.  In standing before this symbol, you have the opportunity to dedicate yourself, as did our Founding Fathers, to the principles of the individual freedom for which our nation stands.  This bell is one of fifty-three cast in France in 1950 and given to the United States Government.”

“Wait.”  Jack said.  “Something’s wrong.”

“What’s wrong?”  She said.

“Look, it’s all different!  They’ve placed it on a metal stand so that you can’t ring the bell anymore!”  He said.

“I don’t understand, it–”

“When I was a kid you could come here and ring the bell.  But now you can’t, they’ve changed it!”

reduce to silence 2-

Charlotte quickly realized what he meant.  The large bell was now resting on two long pieces of metal that had been welded into place to keep it stationary.

“Oh my God, you’re right!”  She said.  “Why would they do that?”

“I don’t know.”  Jack said.  “It never used to be this way.”

“I believe you.”  Charlotte said.

*               *               *              *               *

[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved

All that is Necessary …

Jack Altomare was sitting alone in the back corner of the coffee shop.  He was taking another sip of his Americano when he noticed someone approaching his table in the corner of his peripheral vision.

“Jack?”  A man’s voice said.

He swiveled slightly in his chair to see who it was.

“Oh, Frank!  What’s up?”  Jack said.  It was Frank Montgomery, an old friend of his from school.

“Not much, man.  Crazy just running into you after all these years.”  Frank said.  He extended his hand and Jack shook it.

“Yeah, it has been awhile…”

“Care if I join you?”

“No, not at all.  Just killing some time before I have to go to work.”  He motioned with his hand at the empty chair on the other side of the small rectangular table.

“Thanks.”  Frank said.  Jack watched as he pulled the chair out, sat down his mug of coffee and then took a seat.  He looked pretty much the same as he did in high school, other than the fact that he had put on at least one hundred extra pounds and gained another chin.

“So, what have you been up lately?”  Frank said.

“Oh, long story.  I was up in the Rocky Mountains for about six years, my wife and I–”

“You’re married?”  Frank said, interrupting.

“Yes.  You?”

“Ah…  Divorced, couple of kids.  Didn’t work out.  You remember Sue from junior high?”

“Sure, I remember her.”

“Yeah, it was Sue…”  Frank said.  His eyes narrowed and he frowned

“Oh.  I see.”   Jack said.

“Anyhow, what were you doing up in the mountains?”

“Running a health store.”  Jack said.

Frank snorted with a short burst of laughter.  “Won’t catch me in one of those.”  He said.

Jack shrugged and took another sip of his Americano.  A few beats of silence followed as they sat on opposing sides of the table.

“On a completely different subject, did you hear about that robbery last night?”  Frank said.

“No, I didn’t.”

“Gas station right by my house on 34th St.  Two guys walked in with shotguns and robbed the place.  Used to be such a good neighborhood–  But with the economy and all, well, the crime has just been exploding.  I heard that they made the employee put his mouth around the barrel until they were done.”

“I stopped one once.”  Jack said.

“What’s that?”  Frank said.

“I stopped a robbery at a gas station once.”  Jack said.

“Really?”

He nodded and took another sip of coffee.

“What happened?”

Jack sighed.  “Well, this would have been about seven years ago now, right before we left for Colorado.  My wife and I were giving my Dad a ride to get a few groceries because his truck was in the shop.  We stopped at Earl’s gas station to fuel up–  You know the one over on the corner of 14th and South?”

all that is necessary-

“Sure, I know which one you’re talking about.”  Frank said.

“My wife and my Dad were sitting in the car while I was outside pumping gas.  It was pretty late and the place was deserted.  My car was the only one at the pumps and a minivan was parked nearby.  Anyway, I’m pumping gas when this Hispanic guy comes running out with a forty of malt liquor in his hand.  He’s pointing back at the building with his other hand and saying ‘Lady getting hurt, lady getting hurt.’ over and over.  Don’t think his English was that good.”

“Go on…”  Frank said.  He had leaned forward over the table, suddenly captivated by the story.

“I didn’t know what to think.  I was trying to talk to the guy but he just hightailed it over to the minivan and went speeding away out of the parking lot.  I remember opening one of the car doors to tell my wife and my Dad what he had said and then I sprinted to the building and went inside.”

Frank picked up his mug and took a sip for the first time.

“When I first entered the store it looked like the place was empty, then I heard a struggle going on behind the counter.”  Jack said.  “I peered over and saw that there was a guy back there.  He had the woman who was the cashier that night pinned on the ground and he was laying on top of her.  Her face was bruised and bloody and the guy had his hands around her neck.  He was trying to strangle her and her face was turning bright red.”

“You’re kidding me!”  Frank said.

“Nope.  True story.”  Jack said.  He paused to drink the last swallow of his coffee.  “Before I really thought about what I was doing I jumped over the counter and pulled him off of her.  I shoved him to the ground next to where she was laying and kicked him once in the face as hard as I could.  By this time my Dad had entered the store and was rounding the side of the counter where the guy was sprawled from the kick.  He walked past the robber and the two of us were helping the woman up to a sitting position when I noticed that the guy was starting to stand up and his hand was reaching into his jacket pocket.”

“Did he have a gun?”  Frank said.

“We didn’t know at that time.  The poor woman was barely coherent and my dad and I were both standing there watching as he reached into his pocket.  There was a mad, crazed look in his eyes and blood all over his hands, his knuckles.  Skinny little guy.  Fear gripped my heart as I watched his hand disappear and his lips move to form a sneer–  Not for my own safety so much.  I was worried that he was going to pull out a weapon and hurt my Dad.  Luckily my wife had stayed in the car.”  Jack said.

“Holy crap!”  Frank said.

Jack glanced down at his watch.  “Oh, I’m late for work!”  He said.

“No, wait!  You have to finish the story!”

“That’s pretty much it–  Two cops came charging in at that precise moment with their guns out.  Turned out the woman had hit the silent alarm when things started getting out of control.  They handcuffed the guy and had an ambulance sent out for the woman.  Turned out that he didn’t have a gun, but he was reaching for a knife in his jacket pocket when the  cops showed up.  They also found crack on him, which explained the crazed look in his eyes.  The cops interviewed my Dad and I briefly, but they didn’t really need much from us because of all of the security cameras in there.”

“Unbelievable!  No offense, but that was really stupid just running into that situation.”  Frank said.

Jack shrugged.  “Maybe so.  Didn’t even cross my mind while it was all happening, though.  Sorry to cut this short, Frank, but I really do have to get going.”  He stood up from the table.

“Hey, we have to go grab a few beers sometime and continue this conversation, man.”  Frank said.

Jack nodded.  “Okay.”  He said.  He pulled a business card out from his wallet and placed it on the table.  “My cell number is on there.”

“Cool.”  Frank said.  He picked up the card and looked at it.

“Things are probably going to get pretty crazy for the next couple of years, Frank.  The crime is probably going to explode even more as the economy continues to stutter.  But I would like to leave you with a thought, it’s an old quote from a guy named Edmund Burke– ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.'”

Frank nodded and smiled.  “Yes.  I know what you mean”

*               *              *               *              *

[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved

The Mind’s Eye and the Ticking Clock

Jack Altomare unlocked the front door of the condo and stepped inside.  His wife, Charlotte, was stretched out on the couch in the living room reading a book.  The hinges on the door squeaked as Jack closed it and she lowered the book to look across the room at him.

“Oh, hey.”  Charlotte said.

Jack smiled and turned the deadbolt back into place.  “Hi.”  He said.

“How was work?”

He rolled his eyes and dropped his keyring onto the small table next to the door.  “A waste of time for the most part, still don’t have any new leads.”  Jack said.

“That sucks.”

“I know.  How’s the new book?”

“Eh.  Not what I expected.  I get so sick of fiction sometimes.”  She had moved to a sitting position while folding the corner of the page down where she had left off.  She closed the book and slid it onto the coffee table.

Jack crossed the room to where she was sitting.  He reached out and gently pinched her left earlobe.  “You look about as cute as a bunny eating a dandelion.”  He said.

Charlotte chucked.  “Um, thanks, I think.”

Jack leaned over and kissed her on the forehead, then turned and walked toward the hallway, the bathroom.

“Missed you!”  She called.

“Missed you too.”  He said.  “I have to jump in and out of the shower, it’s already a hundred degrees out there and I was sweating the whole way home.”

She could hear him turning on the water and getting a towel out of the cupboard as she walked over to the open bathroom door.  He had already removed his shirt and socks and was just unfastening his belt when he realized he was being watched.

“Would you like to join me?”  He said.

“No.  But I did want to show you something when you get out.”

“Oh yeah?”  He winked at her.

“No, nothing like that.  I was going through some old boxes in the art studio today and I found something that I think you’ll get a kick out of.”

“Why were you going through stuff in there?”  He moved the cloth shower curtain back and stepped under the water.

Charlotte shrugged.  “I get bored on my days off and it was too hot to do anything outside.”

“Okay, be out in a second.”  Jack said.

She switched the overhead fan on and closed the door.

*               *               *               *              *

Jack found her sitting at her computer in the makeshift office they had set up next to the kitchen.

“What is it you wanted to show me?”  He said.

“Hold on a second.”  Charlotte said.  She paused the game she was playing on the computer before standing up and leaving the room.  She returned a moment later and handed him a photograph.

“Whoa.”  He said.  He took hold of the photo and looked down at it.

minds eye 1-

“That was in a box with a bunch of old papers.”  Charlotte said.  “I sat and looked at it for a while.  Brought back a ton of memories.  That taken around the time that we first met, right?”

“Yeah, it was.”  He said.  “Jeez, look how young I was!”  An expression of sadness flashed momentarily across his face and then quickly vanished.  He stood in silence and studied the photo for a full minute and then handed it back to her.

“Pretty crazy, huh?”

“Yeah, those were the good old days.”  Jack said.  “It really wasn’t that long ago, but a lot has changed in the last fifteen years.  That was before there were security cameras everywhere.  Before drones and spy blimps and control freak crap like that–  When the economy was good and a job was easy to find.”  He looked down at the floor and frowned.  “We really took our freedom for granted back then, I guess.”

Charlotte shrugged and sat the picture down on the desk next to her computer.  “Well, at least we lived it up.”  She said.

Jack chuckled.  “Good point.  I just get so tired of all this fear casting a shadow on people everywhere.  I just want to see them snap out of their trances and start acting like free Americans again.”  Jack walked to the refrigerator in the next room and grabbed a can of iced tea.  He popped the top and drank half of the can’s contents in three long gulps.

“These guys at work, you wouldn’t believe it–”  He said.  “They are all grown men and they’re constantly talking about all of these comic book movies that are coming out!  Constantly, they’re obsessed!  Like kids talking on the playground.  They have to turn to fictional heroes because they can no longer identify any in reality!  How sad!”

“Yeah, seems like a lot of the guys are having difficulty ‘manning up’ these days.”  Charlotte said.  “Not you, but you know what I mean.”  She had joined him in the kitchen.  The old photo was clutched in her hand again.  She used a magnet to hold it in place on the side of the refrigerator.

“I thought I had lost that photo.”  He said.  “That was around the time that I first started selling artwork and living on my own.”

“You were around seventeen then?”

“Yep.”  He smiled.  “What are we doing for dinner?”  He said.

“I was going to make that one pasta dish you like with the mushrooms and something  to go with it.”  Charlotte said.

Mmmm.  Sounds good.  You know what?  I have tomorrow off and I think I’m going to sit down for a few hours after we eat and work on my novel.”

“I was wondering when you were going to pick it back up again.  We’re not exactly getting any younger, you know…”

“That’s true.”  Jack said.  He suddenly realized that was standing under the clock on the kitchen wall and that he could clearly hear the tick – tick – tick of the second hand as it moved.  He twisted around and squinted up at it.

the ticking clock

[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved

Dream Journal #1- The Fifteenth of May

Strange, painful moaning sounds from somewhere within the bedroom.

I am laying alone on the bed in the darkened room, laying flat on my back, naked under the sheets.  For some reason I cannot move my arms or legs.  I cannot move at all.

The moaning turns into a high-pitched wailing sound.  It seems to be coming from underneath the bed.  For a moment I wonder if it’s one of the cats. Then I realize that a cat could not possibly make a noise like that.

Then I see it, the thing slowly raising up at the foot of the bed, just between my feet.

dream journal

I am still frozen in place as the creature drags itself up onto the bed and begins to slither up one of my legs.  It leaves a thin layer of cold, wet slime on the sheets as it works its way up to my exposed neck.  I feel a row of sharp little teeth ripping and tearing into the side of my neck.

And then I wake up

I am laying on my side and have kicked off the covers.  The sun is shining through the window and I can hear my wife listening to music in the next room.

I reach up and touch the side of my neck just to make sure…

[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved

Postmeridian

1)

Despite the fact that nearly everyone in the city was busy earning or spending green paper on that Friday afternoon, Jack Altomare had decided to spend his time walking about and taking pictures with a camera.  The day was unusually cool for May in that area of the country.  As powerful gusts of wind passed between the large buildings downtown he found himself regretting the fact that he had not brought a jacket.

postmeridian 1

2)

Jack pounded the pavement with his steel-toe boots for over an hour in search of an artistic shot, but only found one that he was truly happy with-

postmeridian 2

3)

For the most part he encountered rows of nondescript office buildings.  Block after block, more of the same.

postmeridian 3

4)

He drifted away from the downtown area and toward a more industrial part of town after realizing that security cameras [The real eyes of the city.] had been observing and recording his every move.

postmeridian 4

5)

After walking for another twenty minutes or so he passed by a pile of trash and discarded metal left near an abandoned steel mill.

postmeridian 5

6)

And then stopped to contemplate an old faded sign across the street that did not make any sense-

postmeridian 6

[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved