Artists to Authors is an exploration of the how art influences authors. Artist Grey Cross has opened his entire portfolio to any author who would like to choose a piece of art and create a short story around it. You can find more information on the project at:
The fountain was old, dirty, dark and gray. The color of dust and shadows. It’s appearance is what first drew Jeff to it months ago before he knew it’s secret.
To anyone else the fountain was just another decorative sculpture that sprayed water into the air. A place to toss coins into then forget about. Jeff knew better. He knew what to feed the fountain. It wanted what you loved, your sentiment. Only then could you truly make your wish. No mere coins could do that.
Over the next few months the fountain became his drug dealer and he it’s addict. He was more then willing to part with what he had too in exchange for what he wanted. And like any good addict, he wasted it all on small term gains.
He used the pocket watch his father gave him so the Gas n Go would lose the footage of him driving off without paying. His brothers war medals got his neighbor, the one with the loud dog, evicted. And Most recently, he gave the last know photo of his Grandmother so The Two shots, his local tavern, would lose his bar tab in a small fire. All quick fixes and wasted wishes.
But now he found himself staring down the barrel of a bad situation. Last week, like most nights, he had gotten dead drunk. He followed a young woman home where he attempted to assault her. She had gotten free and escaped to her boyfriend, a guy named Hog who happened to be with group of bikers in the area. The kind that broke knees first and left cries of mercy to deaf ears.
Months of wishes has left Jeff with nothing personal left to use for another wish, sans sentiment he called it. The only thing he found was a necklace that belonged to an ex girl friend of his. Such a trinket would not get him out of this problem. It was expensive but this made no difference. He would need something more. Something with sentiment to spare, one with heart, soul and blood. The necklace dangled in his hands. What was her name again?… Cassi.
He didn’t love her any more that much he knew, but where there was a pile of burnt ashes lies potential for a fire. He would call her and invite her over. Set aside the past and focus on the future, His future.
“I’m surprised you called me.” Cassie said “I mean I haven’t heard from you in years. You use to be a such slacker.”
“Use to be.” Jeff said “People do change you know.”
“I guess so.” She muttered while she wondered around his place.“Is this all you have?”
“What, not good enough for you?” Jeff said. He tried to hide his annoyance.
“It’s not that, it’s just so impersonal. No family photos or anything that makes a place a home. It’s like a showroom at one of those discount furniture rental places.”
Jeff ignored her observation. A day earlier he had used his autographed Kirby Pukkett Baseball card so the Rent-to-buy store would pull his name and he would win free furniture for six months. “Maybe that’s why your here.” He said
“You want to me to warm your cold impersonal life.” She said
“Now who’s the cold one.” he said. “Maybe I miss seeing you. I Thought you know, that maybe we could try to rekindle that old flame we use to have.”
“Is that so.” She said with a half smile. “And what if I don’t want to be back with you”
A sly grin creped across his face. “there must be some reason you accept my invite.”
She shrugged. ”So what is it you propose we do then?”
“How about diner to start with? Catch up on old times.”
“Ok… Oh hey, I just remembered there is a full moon out next week.” A blood moon, might be nice to take a walk together to check it out.”
“Sure, it’s a date.” He said
“Just don’t expect me to fall for you like that.” She said snapping her fingers. “Takes time to earn my love.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.” It’s not earning your love I care about. He was the one who had to fall for her or at the very least be fond enough so the fountain would accept her. Until then he had to be nice enough so she stick around until that happened.
Jeff had seen Casie every day since he had called her. He hoped for a break. Time for him to think about his situation. He was desperate to find any kind of love or affection towards her to make the sacrifice work. Soon Hog and his biker buddies would find him and that would be the end.
His phone came to life and rang. Cassi’s name popped up on the called ID “Damn it.” He said to himself. He took a deep breath and pushed the ACCEPT button. “Hey Cas, whats going on?”
“Um I’m not sure. I don’t know if I’m being paranoid but I think there are two guys following me.” She sad in a half whisper. “They were on motorcycles. They always seem to be where ever I was today.”
“Go home and lock your doors. I’ll be over soon.” Jeff said. He knew that they were either looking for him or were going to punish him by hurting Cassi first.
He pushed the END button. She did not deserve to get hurt for his sins. He thought of how he might never see her again or feel her warmth next to him while sleeping or even hear the sound of her voice. His hands trembled and he dropped his phone to the ground.
That’s when it hit him like a moment of clarity that all of the AA classes kept talked about. He not only developed feeling for Cassi but he would get his wish after all.
Jeff waited until dark before he went to see Cassie. He drove around the block a few times before he parked his car. He did not see any bikers around. He knocked on the door and waited.
“Hey Cassie, ready for our date?” He said when she opened the door.
“Do you think its safe to go out?” she asked “what if those men are still out there?”
Jeff didn’t want her to worry, that might put an end to his plans. “I think your worrying over nothing cas, I drove around the block a few times and didn’t see anyone on motorcycles, besides I’ll be with you.” He held out his hand to her.”I’ll keep you safe.”
“Um, I guess its ok, besides I really did want to see that full moon tonight.”
“Full Blood moon.” He added “And I know just the place to see it best.”
Ten minutes later they arrived at the park.
“Isn't the Blood moon gorgeous. You know there won’t be another one for at least sixty more years.”
If the bikers find me, he thought He would not be alive for sixty more minutes. “U-huh.” He scanned the area glad that the park was empty this time of night. No bikers and no witnesses.
“Whats wrong You seem off in your own world again.”
“Huh? oh just nervous I guess.”
“Nervous, Whats there to be nervous about?” she asked
He had almost made let it slip about the bikers. If she knew she would want to home right home and he couldn’t have that. “About giving you this back.” He reached into his pocket and brought out the necklace. “Don’t know what I was nervous about, maybe its then moon huh.” He said trying to laugh it off.
“I though I had lost that years ago.” She said
“Found it myself the other day.” He lied. “Turn around, let me put it on you.”
She smiled (one of the things he was so fond of) and turned her back to him. She lifted her hair revealing her bare neck.
Jeff hands started to shake then sweat. His heart pounded like a large bongo drum. He tried to tell himself that she was just another sacrifice Like the photos and cards and childhood toys. This was not murder, this was an exchange and nothing else. If worked he would be free of his troubles. If it didn’t work then he was dead anyway.
He placed the necklace over her head and around her neck then clasped it into place. He did not let go.
“Having troubles back there Hon?”
It was now or never. “It’s all good back here Cas.” He said. His fingers formed into a tight fist around the necklace. He began to pull back on the makeshift noose.
“J-Jeff, wha are yo… dat hur-” her words malformed by the pressure against her neck. Her fingers tried to worm their way between the chain and her neck but it was to tight. She tried to pull away to kick her feet backwards and struggle free.
Her body began to go limp. Jeff held tight. He kicked his boot into the back of her knee. She collapsed to the ground. Her arms clawed at anything that would free her from his grip. Moments later her struggle would be dimmed to a flutter and then nothing.
Jeff didn’t think she was dead yet but close. He could finished her off in the fountain, drown her then toss her body in.
He hoisted her near dead body up and placed her over the edge of the fountain just above the water line. Just finish her off and be done with it He thought. His hand pressed against the back of her head down.
Life reemerged in her as She fought against his grip. Water slashed over his face and into his eyes. “Damn it Cassie, let it happen!” he yelled.
A kick to his shin sent him down on one knee. He stumbled to regain his composer. Cassi slumped back falling to the ground. A jagged rock in front of her.
Jeff stomped his feet onto her back. “Now stop moving.” Again he picked up her body. “Drowning is an easy death Cas, be grateful for that.”
Again he let her body fall on the ledge of the fountain. Her hair waving in the water. He leaned in close. placing his hand on the back of her head again he pushed down this time with more force. “I guess the saying is true.” He said mostly to himself. “You always hurt the ones you love.” He let out a laugh as he defended off her attempts to backhand him.
In the distance the sound of loud engines broke through the night, the unmistakable sound of trouble. “Now how the hell did they find me?” he said as he looked up. The distraction was enough to allow Cassie’s arm to break through his defense. It held a jagged rock. The water slowed the impact of hit but it still was enough to stun Jeff.
A spear of pain ripped through him. His hands shot to his face. “Damn you.” He yelled. Drops of blood dripped into the water. Cassi brought the rock down on the back of his head over and over again. The blood filled water soon matched the blood moon above. Jeff fell forward and into the water, his body sank.
Cassie fell to the ground exhausted. “Why would you do this to me Jeff I so loved you?” she muttered. The sound of motorcycles faded away in the distance. She looked up to the moon, glad that she might never see another one just like it to reminder her of him. “Never mind, if there is a hell, I wish you would just burn there.” The water in the fountain bubbled and then stopped. In the wind she heard a faint sound of a man screaming, then it was gone.