Halloween Short Story

Today, like most Wednesdays, will be spent with college related work. I must also pack and prepare for my weekend signings in New Orleans on Friday and Saturday. Thursday will be spent visiting schools and libraries on the way there, doing the endless networking that we authors have to do.

Anyway, since today is Halloween, I thought I’d post a murder/horror story I had written in the past. I set the story in Dallas, Texas. Let me know what you think of it. (rickeyp@bayou.com).


Evil is a true thing in Mexico. It goes about on its own legs. Maybe some day it will come to you. Maybe it already has—Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

I AM LA LLARONA, AND I WEEP FOR MY CHILDREN. For centuries of nights I have wandered along the waters throughout Mexico. And yes, I walk along the banks of your Trinity River. I have strolled along your Turtle Creek, your Bachman Lake and the other waters. You are surprised to find me in your country? Do not be. No, in my lifetime, your land too was once a part of Mexico.

I am a Mexican ghost, born of a desert tragedy. On that dreadful night, when I realized my lover had abandoned us, I blew out the last candle I had lit for him and drowned my two little children, damning myself forever. But as I was a whore in the eyes of all, what else could I have done? I had given this man my virginity, my honor, my future. No one would help us—-not my parents, not the Holy Church, not the residents of our pueblo. I am forever lost now—in the night, in the madness, pain, hopelessness, grief, and loneliness. Ay, mis hijos, ¿Donde Estan mis hijos?
But I have found I am not so alone.

One night, I came upon a couple–shouting, fighting. Two young children clutched each other nearby, watching. A boy and a girl. They so reminded me of my own.
“Jorge, please, take us home,” the woman said. “The children are frightened.”
The man spat at her and threw her to the ground. “No. I do not care where you go, but you will not return with me.” He cursed, then stormed out of sight.
When I came to her, she was weeping. “Why do you weep, querida?” I asked. She shook her head and did not answer, wiping fiercely at the tears on her cheeks.
I lifted her chin with my hand so she would look at me. “What is your name?”
“Veronica,” she said.
“He was your man, was he not? And now he has left you? Answer me.”
“Yes. But who are you? Are you an angel?”
“Yes, querida. I am your angel tonight—your guide and guardian.”
“Oh, thank you!”
She clutched my legs and buried her tear-stained face in my dress. Her weeping tore my heart.
“Jorge has abandoned me. And now who will take care of my children?” She clenched her fists and held them against her face.
I sat next to her and wrapped my arms around her. “I will help you take care of them. I am your sister. Do you not see the resemblance?” I brushed my fingers through her long dark hair and looked deep into the black-pearl eyes. “I understand your pain. Look into the river. The river holds the secret. The river will tell you what to do.”
Dipping my hand into the water, I held my arm up and watched the drops slip back into the river. As she sobbed and stared at the water, I held out my hands to the children. “Come, hijos.” I led them back to Veronica, and we sat together, staring at the river. In the distance I could see the Dallas skyline, and even in our remote location, the sirens, and sounds of the city roared in my head. I knew what the mother would soon do, and so I kissed each of them and left them there by the water, and followed Jorge.

I found him leaning against a tree smoking. He smelled of tequila and beer. I stepped behind him and gently tapped him on the shoulder. Turning, he said, “Jesus, you scared me. Buenos noches.” He attempted to walk away, but I moved in front of him.
“Ah, but you would not leave me so soon? And such a handsome man.” I stroked his cheek and placed my hand on his chest. “Such very fine clothes. Surely you are able to give a woman all the things she needs.”
“So the lady wants something from me, tonight, eh?”
I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek and put my arms around his neck. “I knew a man very much like you once. Why are you here, guapo, my handsome one? You are all alone and along sad waters.”
“I’m looking for a beautiful woman like yourself.”
I could see the lust in his eyes. “Why won’t you marry Veronica?”
He pushed me away. “You know her, don’t you? She sent you? Does she think she can trick me into keeping her? Why should a successful man marry beneath himself? My family disproves of her. As they would of you.”
The arrogance in his eyes enraged me. “But she will have nothing without you.”
“She is no longer my concern.”
“I know you, Jorge, and many more like you.” I clutched him and kissed him hard, biting his lip.
“So the lady wishes to play hard?”
“You have no idea how hard I can play.” I took him by the hand toward the river. “Come, lie with me.”
He grinned. “You will not forget this night.”
“Nor you,” I said.
He struggled to live, but it was in vain. In those last moments, when I held his head under the water, I knew his thoughts. How can a woman be so strong? Will my body be found tomorrow in the dirty water of the Trinity?

You think I’m cruel. A murderer of my own children. A malevolent spirit. Perhaps. But I am no more cruel than your society, which drowns your little ones in violence, in drugs, in neglect. It is a terrible thing to lose a child. If you listen in the quiet of the night, you will hear me weep for my children, and for yours. They are all my children now. I want to save them, but I don’t know how. Ay, mis hijos, mis hijos. ¿ Donde estan mis hijos? And Dallas has many drowning children for me to cry for.

Mason’s Halloween Preparation

Meet my grandson, Mason Alexander Shelby. He will be three in January. I predict he will receive lots of books in his life as gifts. He calls me popi, a term of endearment I borrowed from my Cuban friends when I lived in South Florida. He finally decided on his Halloween costume. Here it is:

mason 023

New School Booking

Today, I booked a program with Cypress Point Elementary School in Monroe, LA. The librarian, Ms. Jackie Ford, also purchased two copies through the school. That program will be Dec. 6. I also took a load of books to Geneva Academy, a great private school here in Monroe. The rest of the day has been spent with book business related tasks. Boring stuff, but it has to be done.

Here so little now, I find I have more and more chores to do around the house. I especially need to clean and organize my office. I’ve got tons of paper stuff to cull through, file, or throw away. Magazines and books that need to be shelved correctly. Some piles of junk items that need to go. If I haven’t used it in three years, I suppose I never will, so they are dispensable. I need to have a yard sale, but that takes time too. Like I said, boring stuff. We’ve got a nice large and older house, and if I could put in the time and work and expense it needs, it would look first class. But, since I’m still working in a survival mentality with my new career as a full-time writer, the fixing up of the house will have to wait.

I love Halloween, though I missed all the local parties this year due to weariness and my self-imposed hyper-extended schedule. I hope some good horror movies are on tonight and tomorrow. Nothing like blood and gore and psychological horror on Halloween to lift the spirits. My favorite in the past was an hour of 60-second horror movies. I want to make a few of those before I die, and I’ve already started some scripts for them. The idea of a film using a minute’s scene of total horror seems so cool. I plan on doing a search of some 60 second films on the Web later tonight.

To post something worth reading, I decided to post a Halloween poem I wrote last year.


The moon is waxing full on
Our first Halloween,
It’s supposed to be a frightening night,
But now it’s only beautiful.

Since I was a child,
I’ve always felt the night’s
Magic, mystery, and madness,
But, this year,
Knowing and having you
Made me see its full power.
This night, the lines between the
Living and the Dead are thin,
One sees things he couldn’t before,
The two realms merge.

I see how tightly our hearts are joined,
How, you had saved me from the
Dark side of this day,
From a drunken, tales of
The crypt type life,
In which I felt as lonely as
Frankenstein’s creature.
We really are like two
Characters in Gothic fiction.

I wish we were sitting together,
Eating popcorn and
Watching horror movies,
Clutching each other,
And talking of the films
We watched as children.
I woke nearly every hour
Last night, thinking of you.
And all day, I’ll think of
My little witch who has
Not ceased to work her magic
Since I first really saw her.

New Book Idea:

Fall is officially here, and with it the promise of winter. I can feel the cold creeping into my house a little more each day. Today, is university day, from 1:00 until nearly 9:00 pm. I’m going to spend a couple of hours writing on my play this morning, and then prepare a lesson on the Harlem Renaissance for my English 206 class at ULM.

Thanks to Bonnie Barnes, my Texas friend and technical media specialist, my personal Web page has a new look! Please let me know what you think about it.


Augusta Jane Evans: A Famous Civil War Author

While in Mobile, I came across the grave in Magnolia Cemetery of the South’s most famous woman novelist, and certainly Mobile’s most famou, during the Civil War. I took a photo of that sacred spot. It is posted below. There’s a well-written article written by Mobile’s John Sledge you should go to for more information on his author: http://www.americanartists.org/art/article_augusta_jane_evans.htm I have a copy of her biography and a copy of Macaria, or Altars of Sacrifice, written in 1863. According to Sledge, the novel was published “in true Confederate fashion in Richmond, the novel was printed on wrapping paper with wallpaper covers. Macaria was popular among both rebels and Yankees. Union officers banned the book and burned confiscated copies.” Though admittedly the novel was a propaganda piece, I admire her spunk. The novel was a wartime best seller, and was dedicated to the Army of the Southern Confederacy. After the war, she was active in the movement to erect Confederate monuments. Drew Faust, in his introduction to Macaria, says that she continued to publish “almost until her death in 1909.” I think more should be written about her.


Return from Texarcana

I had a wonderful, though very tiring, trip this weekend. I spent a long day at the Books-A-Million in Texarcana, but it was a sell-out and that’s what matters most. I’ve already been invited back with my next books. I spent the night there in the Holiday Inn on State Line. A state convention of the teachers for the magnet schools of Texas were also at the hotel and they were having meetings today. Ironically, the hotel for the Texas teachers was in the Arkansas portion of Texarkana. It must be awkward at times to live in a city that is in two states. I drove back to Monroe this morning, wrote a TGIF article on the Civil War in Indian Territory and tended to some emails. Of course, I came back to the UNFINISHED work and chores I meant to get done before my trip. Below is a photo taken at my Texarcana signing. On easels I have the framed poster that Pelican Publishing made me and a copy of the only actual photo in existence of Jim Limber.


Egg Shell Thin

 I woke early this morning with much to do before I drive to Texarcana. Thankfully, the rain has let up and there’s a beautiful moon in the sky. I thought today I’d write about another writer, Karen Harmon. She is the head of the English department at Delta Community College here, and she has been very patient with me and a great help in my teaching at Delta. Besides that, she is just a great person.  A good writer in her own right, she is fortunate to have studied writing under James Lee Burke at her university. Here is a summary of her novel that recently was published. I think it will do very well. This is the short description on the back cover.


Adrienne Hargrove has always been aware that humans are fragile creatures
walking an egg-shell thin line between innocence and deviance. Her own life
is a chain of guilt from poor choices she’s made. But as a private investigator in
the Deep South, she thought she had seen it all. That was before she was
hired by Catriona Kirby, wife of Galen Kirby, a doctor in a small Louisiana
town. Adrienne knew she was looking into the possibility the doctor was
involved in a drug scam with the sheriff. She even knew there was a possibility the doctor was involved in the murder of an ex-girlfriend. What she never
imagined was that Dr. Galen Kirby was a serial killer deeply involved in a baby
black market scheme. And in their wildest nightmares, neither Adrienne nor
Catriona could have imagined that he was producing his own babies to sell.

KAREN HARMON is the liberal arts coordinator and
an English professor at a junior college in northeast
Louisiana. She studied creative writing at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. Her hobbies include raising horses and traveling.


Texarcana, Texas Signing

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the Books-A-Million in Texarcana, Texas. Will be another sell-out, I’m sure. Hopefully, I can get a bunch of teacher contacts for future programs.  I tried working the phone on that, but I started too late today to do it effectively. Most writers don’t realize how hard it is to network and how much time it takes.  It requires several hours of work for every hour of signing you do. Today, I finished up an editing project, and did more research on Jim Limber, running down more primary and secondary sources.
Tonight, I decided to post a couple of good quotes on writing and writers. Here is one by Faulkner:

“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.”

Charles Colton said, “To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author.”

More on Hemingway

Today has been spent researching and preparing for my college classes which I must go teach in just a few minutes. My office is trashed. I’ve got to get myself organized. I’m spending too much time looking for stuff! Anyway, in today’s entry I wanted to share the fruits of my research this morning: some quotes of Ernest Hemingway that I gleaned from Hatcher’s book, Papa Hemingway. Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy are without a doubt my favorite writers. I’ve read everything in print by both authors–and more than once. It was because of a reading of “A Clean Well Lighted Place” in my college 102 class that I became an English major and plunged headlong into literature and into writing.

“Every man’s life ends the same way, and it is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguishes one man from another.”

“[W]riting is the only thing that makes me feel that that I’m not wasting my time sticking around.”

“Writing at its best is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone, and if he is a good enough writer, he must face eternity or the lack of it each day.”

“How the hell can you bleed over your own personal tragedies when you’re a writer? You should welcome them because serious writers have to be hurt really terrible before they can write seriously. But once you get the hurt and can handle it, consider yourself lucky—that is what there is to write about and you have to be as faithful to it as a scientist is faithful to his laboratory. You can’t cheat or pretend. You have to excise the hurt honestly.”

“Life is short and the years run away and you must do everything you really want to.”

“Only three things in my life I’ve really liked to do—hunt, write and make love.”

Mobile, Alabama

This Friday, I’ll be at the Books-A-Million in Texarcana. Hopefully, it will go as well as my other BAM signings have gone. Today, I finished another children’s book, The Little Confederate’s ABC Book, and sent it to my publisher. Along with my other books, it should do very well.  Below is a letter/flyer that I’m going to send to every teacher in Mobile, Alabama before my four days of signings there, Nov. 15-18. I’m using Mobile as a model for how an author can conquer a city. Wish me luck.

Author/Educator Events:

Featuring Rickey E. Pittman, author of Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House and Stories of the Confederate South, both published by Pelican Publishing.

Mobile area educators are invited to the author events in the Mobile area listed below: (Remember to take advantage of your educator’s discount! Contact the store for times.)

Thursday, November 15: Books-A-Million 6850 Highway 90 Daphne, AL 251-625-8644
Friday, November 16:  Barnes & Noble, 3250 Airport Blvd. Mobile. 251-450-0084
Saturday, November 17: Barnes & Noble, 30500 State Hwy 181 Spanish Fort, AL 251-621-3545
Sunday, November 18: Books-A-Million, 3206 Airport, Bell Air Mall, Mobile 251-471-3528
Sunday November 25: Books-A-Million, 3960 Airport Boulevard, Mobile 251-341-0133

Information at each signing will be available on the teaching and musical programs Pittman presents for schools—the Civil War, Creative Writing, and the Scots-Irish. A short bio and description of his books are below. Thank you, and Pelican Publishing wishes you success in your very important work of teaching.

BIO: Rickey E. Pittman, Grand Prize Winner of the 1998 Ernest Hemingway Short Story Competition, is originally from Dallas, Texas.  The author and freelance editor earned a BA in New Testament Greek and an MA in English from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. After moving to Monroe, Louisiana, Pittman was added to the Louisiana Roster of Artists in 1998. Working closely with regional art councils, he was commissioned to write historical plays for Franklin (1997) Madison (1998) and Webster (2007) parishes. In addition to his freelance journalism, editing, and nonfiction writing, he has published short stories, poetry, and a novel, Red River Fever. Pittman loves the South and sees himself as a Southern writer.  He has a short story collection, Stories of the Confederate South and a children’s book, Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House, both published by Pelican Publishing. Another children’s book, The Scottish ABC book, will be published by Pelican sometime in 2008.  Pittman is an active member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp Thomas McGuire, West Monroe, Louisiana; a Civil War re-enactor; and a public speaker on issues and topics related to writing and to the War Between the States. Pittman is also an accomplished guitarist/singer, traveling and performing original and period music relating to the Civil War and the Scots-Irish. Pittman is a certified Secondary Gifted English teacher and currently teaches freshman composition at Louisiana Delta Community College and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Other Awards:
*Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal, May 13, 2005. (Presented by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in recognition of excellence in research and writing in published writing.)
*Bonnie Blue Society, May 26, 2006. (Presented by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in recognition of scholarly research and published literature.)
*Meritorious Service Medal, in recognition of exceptionally meritorious service through writing to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, July 26, 2007.

Contact Information:
Rickey E. Pittman 1105 N. 8th Street, Monroe, LA 71201
318-547-2906 phone (cell)
Author’s Website: http://www.rickeypittman.com/

Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House.  A touching and true story of the first black American to be a member of a presidential family. Jim Limber’s parents were free people of color in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. After their death, Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, legally adopted their child. *An Accelerated Reader Program Selection.

Stories of the Confederate South is an anthology of short fiction presenting a variety of Southern characters, events, and issues that capture the spirit and passion of the South. Pittman carefully researched diaries, biographies, historical events, and social trends and presents an unforgettable collection that tells the story of the true South during and after the Civil War. Though much has been written about the Civil War, Rickey E. Pittman offers a refreshing new Southern perspective on the war that changed history. (*Available after November 8).