Fairytale Endings: Good Night to Angels and Devils Alike

Children, fairy tales were once a very grim thing. Indeed, they were meant to frighten, to terrify. To drive through your thick little skulls the lessons of life that you need learn to survive.

Do not wander in the woods, for wolves shall devour you. Thou shalt not trust the stranger, for it may be a villain in disguise. Do you wish to bring ruin upon your family? I hope not!

As a service to your good-for-nothing failures for parents, the illustrious Jonathan Despair and myself offer unto you, you writhing sacks of foolish innocence, these stories.

Sit still, backs straight, shoulders square, and listen carefully, for it is story-time…

I do so hope God is in your heart, for you will need Him.

Two AM Revelations
—written by: Mr. Jack Happy, with illustrations by Johnny Despair, Esq.

 sank into my usual seat at my usual bar, ordered my usual drink and struck up the usual conversation with the bartender. He smiled like he always did, and I talked about the weather, about how things were just fine. Work is work; Same Old Shit, Different Day.

The red-haired waitress with the hips I loved to watch so much came over and greeted me. Said what is required of a waitress to say, gestured and offered and laughed at my awful jokes, my stupid puns. She was the best friend I ever did know, I think—friend because I never could get her number out of her, no matter how drunk and pitiful I got.

I liked this place, despite it being a total dive. Smokey, dusty, probably hadn’t seen a health regulation since before Reagan could first recall. The waitress, Lucy or Laura (I forget), she mentioned something about an act on tonight. There was a tiny raised stage in one corner, for what I thought was decoration since they hadn’t put any performer on it in the years I’d been frequenting. The owner started rumours of karaoke to attract the Asian demographic, so some half-Japanaese yokels came around long enough to get impatient and leave.

The bartender—he was Hispanic, something like Coata Rican, and real friendly—talked some about how this Bluesman came rolling in one night and played for him and the two other guys in at the time, and the owner heard it and absolutely begged him to come back and perform. His name was Tommy and something you’d expect of Blues musicians—Tommy-something-about-his-stature, Tommy-his-demeanor, maybe some kind of foodstuff-Tommy. Can’t remember anything, now, since I sobered up the next morning.

I awoke in my bed without knowing how I got there. Laura or Leslie wasn’t there. Dissapointment. My clothes were gone. Not the ones I was wearing. All of them. Like, my entire closet had been emptied. And my furniture was gone. The entire fucking apartment was absolutely bare, except for a matchbook from the bar, Wolsey’s.

The night before, the Bluesman came in, Tommy-something or Tommy-another. He was short, came up to my shoulders sitting down, but he stood tall. His clothes were all frayed and tattered like I’d expect from some hobo-musicman riding the rails from gig to gig. It was all quite novel, in this day and age. His hair was white, and he had a scraggly moustache and big ol’ muttonchops. Real caricature, with his pointy hat with its shiny blue band, his Blue suede jacket and matching kerchief in the front pocket.

When he came in, the owner—Lil’ Wolsey, we called him—opened the door to his office and waved to him. They exchanged pleasantries, and I noticed the man had a shrill voice, like a child’s. How he was going to sing the Blues with that tenor was beyond me, at that point, and I remember vaguely asking Carlos the bartender something about that. I recall laughing, but it’s faint. I’m not much amused about it no more.

Tommy-troubador or whatever waddled his tiny-way over to my table—I guess because I was the only guy there, on this hustlin’ Monday night. He pulled up a stool, took out an unfiltered cigarette and said something in that kid-tone of his. I responded:

“Fine. You?”

“Need a nap real fierce,” he said, and tapped his ash off into the ceramic plate on the table. The musicman was old, I noticed, at this point: the lines set on his face weren’t easily visible from a distance, somehow obsfucated by the baby-fat of his cheeks: a stark contradiction so contrary your mind refused the presence of both.

His eyes were the colour of sky around last call, and they seemed dead behind the reflection on his cornea. The man moved like the living dead, like George Romero was directing his choreography and his diet was strictly no-carb grey matter. Something about seeing this guy made me think in poetry, I recollected.

Wolsey stepped up and begged the little old guy to perform. He had produced a coronet from nowhere, when I wasn’t looking. I was busy trying to covertly ogle Leslie or Loulabell. She had this magnanimous ass somehow contained in shorts shorter than I could’ve asked God to make ‘em in my most fervent prayers.

I really wanted to go to bed, all of a sudden.

Tommy-trumpeter was atop the stage, perched on a stool that seemed only slightly shorter than he was tall. He placed wrinkled, chapped lips on the instrument and out came noise like from Miles Davis’ love affair with Duke Ellington in the heated alleyways of New Orldeane one midsummer night’s eve.

He played, and seemed to sleep, all at the same time. His eyes shut and never reopened, in my memory. The music was his dream, and we were but figments in his subconscious. I would have had the rest of my drink, but the rest of my drink had me, first.

The owner danced, in the awkward way that white folk do when they can’t help themselves. Some byproduct of too many generations removed from soulful living, I suppose. The waitress joined him, and that’s when I couldn’t help but do so, too, followed by the bartender and I don’t even know when those kids came in off the street.

When the bar was at capacity, the police came. To dance. Tommy played his coronet—shrill, halting notes almost off-key, but perfect in their melodious malady, the pain was the birthing of some unforeseen energy, unbeknownst to us.

And he sang:
When the cattle crawls,
Through the cornstalks;
The livestock we ain’t,
Not the farmers a’night.

When the meadow grows,
The fleece, oh, the fleece;
Fleece the forty winks,
Rob that ol’ Sandman blind.

Walk the tall grass, darlin’,
Find the lamb, again, son a’none;
He ain’t my shephard, I say,
Can’t herd my dreams.

And await the Seventh Seal,
When Gabriel doth blow, sweetheart;
First came Cowboy Ron, yee-haw,
The second was a grey September in One.

Lil’ ol’ Kim’s stomach rumbles after three,
Po’ boy fightin’ a po’ atomic wa-wa-war;
Four flus, why you still askin’, son,
Won’t be long, oh no, it won’t be long.

Meanwhile, deep in the Heart a’Darkness,
Six-hundred souls suffer number five;
They sing—
‘O, fall on us, hide us, face us,
From the wrath of Mary’s little Lamb,
For the great Day hath come,
An’ who, who, who can stand?’
An’ at six, the tropics have shaken,
Boy, are you still not yet awaken;
Where is he, who tends the flock,
Will you wake ‘im, son?

O Lord, not me, not me, Lord,
Surely he will not like it;
And cry, and cry, and cry…
The echoes of his coronet and thin, child-like voice bounce in my head, intensifying the hangover. My empty apartment is but a mere reflection of my empty self. My limbs feel heavy, moving them is like navigating a thick, mucky liquid. I move about the bedroom, find the bathroom, find no relief there and empty myself further than I already feel.

I find myself talking to myself, as I clutch the lid of my toilet, “Will I wake him?”

The Unwhole Story
—written by: Mr. Jack Happy, with illustrations by Johnny Despair, Esq.

hen they showed up at my doorstep, they had nothing. They had eaten hardly anything in a week, and looked the part. A sad sight, for certain; of course, we took them in.

Here at Safehaven Behavioral, we have all sorts of in-patients: broken, destitute people with nowhere to go and clearly no one to care for them. Mostly, the senile and the poor ended up at our facilities, but we were the charitable sort. Opened in eighteen-eighty-one, the plaque on the foundation cement said, by Doctor Jay Grimstone, my great-great-great uncle.

They put their names as Geal and Donn, a fashion of nomenclature for children with which I was wholly unfamiliar. One had lengthy brown hair with an oddly fresh sheen; the other had jet-black hair like the finest silks of the Orient. Too poor to eat, but not for professional-grade shampoo? I questioned their status as sisters, to which they only blinked and looked hungrier in response.

I wasn’t sure if they could speak until the second day, when Donn—the darker-haired sister—asked timidly to speak with me. Her eyes, of hue matching her head, danced with such fright and desperation that I had no choice but to comply.
—“Yes, dear?”
—“You can never let us out.”
—“Oh… Why is that, Donn?”
—“He will never marry us.”
—“Well, you are welcome to stay as long as you wish.”
Poor thing, her psyche was shattered from some kind of traumatic experience, rendering it a pile of paranoid delusion; commonplace at Safehaven, unfortunately, but never not depressing to witness. One in-patient swore that cyborgs stole her organs, and I wish I was joking or making this up.

Sometimes, at night, I consider my grasp on reality and say a little prayer of thanks.

On the third day, while in the common room, Geal and Donn sat and stared at the floor, hours just gazing downward. Their complexions had improved slightly, after a good three square and a couple showers. New patients find the reintroduction to regular hygiene to be invigorating typically, and the routine gives their minds temporary respite.

One patient brushes his teeth every seventy minutes on the dot, without exception or fail. He hasn’t had a cavity, yet.

During day four, Donn put Geal’s long hair up in a complicated bun and weaved in some long white ribbons with which a nurse had provided them, then adorned it with a huge dirty plume produced from where I am unsure. I supposed they must’ve had it on their person at check-in and shrugged mentally.

One of the other patients, a gentle rotund, elderly man named August who suffered from Alzheimer’s and halitosis, complimented Geal in passing, which caused the frail woman to start and shriek. Donn spent the next hour hugging Geal’s quivering form close to herself; August was pretty put-out, himself.

When it came to chores assignment, there was an interesting altercation with the two sisters. They absolutely refused any chore whatsoever. We had found in the past that giving the patients responsibility helped make them feel more normal, more at home; however, they were having none of this tomfoolery.
—“Scrub the floor! Wash the dishes! Scrub the floor! Wash the dishes!”
Geal quietly chanted to herself for the next half-hour, with an inexplicable menacing yet empty look on her face. Like she was only intimidating out of habit, intimidating an imaginary servant like how she was taught to do.

On the fifth day, Donn had her own spat with August. The poor old man had spent all morning trying to find his slippers, and then found them in Donn’s cubby. He had confronted her about it, shaking the ratty old faded-red bedroom shoes at her. She came back with the most vile things I had heard since I was briefly in the Navy and attended a George Carlin performance while on leave.

It was after this that I noticed that Geal only ever wore one shoe on her left foot, while the right was always bare, black with dirt and debris. Throughout that day, she would occasionally angrily glare at her bare foot, and kick it against the wall, eventually so hard that it bruised and swelled purple.

We started her on sedatives after that, it took the remainder of her life away.

On the sixth day, with Geal medicated, Donn became nastier and nastier to the other in-patients. She attempted to order every single one of them around, and became quite unruly when nobody complied—the reactions were a mixture of confused, indignant, and oblivious. We had to restrain her to her room for awhile, to calm her down, while Geal just rubbed her foot and stared at the floor.

August’s large family visited that day, all six of his siblings.
—“So, Doc, how’s old Gus doing?”
—“Mert! Don’t act like he’s not right here.”
—“Yeah, sure, Blossom, he’s right here.”
—“Hasn’t been in ages, you know it.”
—“Did you bring the cheese, Jaq?”
—“Perla was bringing the cheese.”
—“No, I brought the string.”
They bantered for some time, me in the middle. August, for his part, scornfully glared at Geal. I think he liked her, but his foggy old mind couldn’t handle the emotions anymore. He gave her his dessert at supper, which she ate heartily without a word, giving him a shy smile in return.

Donn came out of her room on the morning of the seventh day. She had cried out loudly sometime around daybreak, afterward one of the nurses had come to me.
—“Doctor Jacob, I… Well, I don’t know where, but she, uh, found some toenail clippers.”
—“And, Nurse Tremaine?”
—“She took off all of her toenails, there’s blood everywhere…”
—“Jesus! Really? All of them?”
—“She seemed to be trying to actually cut off her toes with them, I think…”
Her feet were bandaged up, and she limped over to the couch where Geal was curled into a ball. The two of them sat together and stared at the floor all morning, not eating, speaking or moving. August kept hobbling by and glaring at the pair, muttering to himself about his missing slippers.

After dinner all the patients were mostly gathered around the television—except for the young woman who thought the people inside the “Teevee Box” were going to use radio-waves to brainwash her into sending them all of her money, and the two sisters—I remember distinctly the sound of a startled yelp, followed by a gruff voice choking out a raspy scream.

The staff all raced down the hall to where the sound came from and found August standing in front of one of the patient quarter’s open entrance, holding his hand to his throat in the universal sign of distress. The first nurse who made it to him turned and saw what he did:

Geal was hanging from the ceiling fan in her room, a bedsheet-noose around her swollen, blackened neck. Donn was on the floor, sitting cross-legged, clutching one of her feet; from which she had removed the bandages and was gnawing off her big toe, blood spurting out of the open wound and into her mouth and down her cheeks, dripping from her jaw onto her nightgown.

I helped one of the orderlies wrestle Donn to the ground, who kept gurgling, kicking and screaming, bits of the flesh of her toe in her mouth dribbling out. “She isn’t supposed to be at the ball! No! He was supposed to pick us! No! How can she have been there?!”

After restraining her and injecting her with a strong sedative through a needle in her neck, I have a vivid memory of looking up, while knelt on the floor by Donn’s sagging body, positioned nearly directly underneath the swinging pendulum of the dead Geal. I felt something cold brush against my scalp, and saw first the tattered, old shoe Geal had never removed from her left foot beside me on the carpet.

I looked up slowly and there hung Geal’s unclad left foot: half of it had been severed—only a stump remained, her flesh having grown over the apparently old wound and scabbed up in black lumps. It horrified me for some reason I could never find words to describe, as Donn murmured and drifted into a chemically-induced dreamstate.
—“We were supposed to be at the ball, not that wretched filthy cunt…”

* * * * *

—“Doctor Jacob, what happened to my sister?”
The question belonged to a wisp of a woman, her blue hair done up in a ridiculously huge bee-hive style and her eyes sunken so far back into her skull that all I could see were shadows, beneath them a pair of pursed, thin blue lips.

One of my least favorite duties as overseeing healthcare-provider at Safehaven was this: the next-of-kin was always distraught, appropriately in an amount of grief and mourning, but they all carried this… relief… I found so disheartening, as though a great burden had been lifted from their shoulders by this death.

It was after days with those types of meetings that I drank at night.

She was different. Geal and Donn’s other sister, allegedly. She introduced herself as “Cindy Sharmon,” and presented her hand in the out-dated fashion of royalty. I shook it, thinking of nothing better to do with the extended offering.
—“Well, Miss Sharmon—“
—“Lady Sharmaine…”
—“Right. Well, her sister… your sister… Donn, she… She mutilated herself quite horrifically.”
—“Hm. Dreadful. Just awful. But, you said on the phone this was in regards to Geal, did you not?”
—“Oh. Yes. She… she has, well… taken her own life, I regret to inform you.” (I was never good at this part.)
I nervously fidgeted in my seat, and I swear to this day I saw something in the shadows where her eyes should be gleam.

…And thus concludes the time for stories, boys and girls. What have you learnt? Much, I hope, to carry home to your cozy little houses, in your tranquil little neighbourhoods, outside your vile little cities full of Godlessness.

Those of you who talked amongst yourselves while I read are required to stay after for disciplinary prayer sessions, unfortunately.

Mr. Happy

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