Four rows from the screen, four seats in was Sibyl join Vivian at her favorite dine-in theater. It focused on melty, drippy, sludgy, slimy films, served dishes with names like The Crystal Age and The Tender and The Failure Clinic and The Glowing. Sibyl stopped reading, handed the menu to Vivian. Hmm and umm was Vivian consider what to order. The dish came, a bloody-beet burger and fries. The beer was placed on a square napkin. The room went dark. They became immersed.
Carried gallons splish in splash buckets of holy water blessed by living-saint Teen Sorrow trudge bishop and priest haul water across suspension bridge chitchat chinwag “I’m totally into the turn-your-cheek thing. Pacifism. I love it. It’s probably my favorite part of being of the cloth. Better than the wine,” tired bishop adjusted grip on holy water as they spoke to priest “The only people I want to kill are cops,” then movie title spook onto scene
H A U N T
for cathedral-like moment before disappearing then halfway across bridge quit priest and bishop realize they could not carry that holy water anymore because burdened too heavy trudged too weak so bishop told priest to pour holy water over side of bridge but priest protested because blessed divine water then bishop demanded so priest poured liquid off bridge then late in pitch of night waited two full moons in sky above some suit stand on ledge edge of bridge smudged from sludge-cartridge hit as they lived about to leap to death below water glowed then corpse became skeleton so skeleton became clouded drown embrace forgotten gloom so clouded drown embrace forgotten gloom became ghost glowing then two kids played in knee-deep water when tiny shine moved under surface shimmer on glowing-wisp ghost glimmer to kids rejoice both reach after when one kid grabbed sprite and held up wisp about to be excited began sudden crying so they dropped glow and other kid chased disappointed then while asleep-on-job hero napped at booth whirred little sister wait tables at family restaurant until sister slow-down d r o p shatter plate woke hero rush over to help while telling sister to go on let hero cleaned up when sister went into kitchen sudden sulked as cook’s radio echoed movie’s title in grainy voice
H A U N T
finished picking up plate pieces annoyed hero took a break from restaurant walk down to river while in spectral cascades plagued everyone around shore distraught crying but oblivious hero did not notice until someone bumped running past screaming looking up to see an iridescent purple cloud echoed ghost terrorize shore and anyone touched fell into deep deep sadness so then returned from listening to radio found hero’s sister grow curious from chaos outside leave restaurant and ghost grabbed her flew off with her while the hero tried to chase but could not and with arm loads of groceries hero’s mother returned found that ghost took her daughter under hero’s watch bags slow-mo f e l l f r o m h e r a r m s against ground break crash spill knelt in groceries hero begged forgiveness.
Vivian reached over the armrest, and she put her hand in Sibyl’s.
Mother and hero searched while they scrapped lurked skulked linked slinked patrolled hazed mother and daughter share reminisces of taking care of hero’s sister beyond somewhere else in city scavenging girl skulked linked slinked patrolled but got nabbed by ghost too stashed in church’s steeple with hero’s sister neither affected by ghost’s melancholy though as they got closer to each other they began to glow meanwhile family used cell phone tower to track sister’s cell but hero looked up from tracker pointed out that rest of city already tracked ghost to church steeple hundreds of people watch Teen Sorrow shook in front of ghost pushed there by clergy expecting saint to save them but saint bent weak at knees collapsed in prayer as mother and hero rushed past into church inspiring priest and bishop to follow inspiring whole congregation to follow as ghost chased practitioners came in contact with more more more people generated more more more sorrow made ghost growth in size and effect and effect manifested physically when touched people turned to flowering vines with morn warp sprout until transformed total into flowers and hero and mother dodged climbed to steeple reached top but then ghost touched mother burst into vine and flower crumbling hero mourn into loss hugged plant and as ghost reached for her in hero’s eye tear formed dripped as ghost got c l o s e r f e l l from cheek with ghost inches from turning grieving hero to flowers teardrop not only landed on ghost killed ghost slow gradient lingering fade while everyone touched by ghost erupted as flowering vines life life life life to life life life flower to life life flower flower to life flower flower flower to flower flower flower flower wearing sister’s clothes cursed vine and blossom and between mother and sister blooms grieved hero blink.
Vivian squeezed Sibyl’s hand, and the theater came in and out of focus.
Blink scavenging girl stood only other person alive then hand in hand walked two fade into sunset.
When the credits rolled, the lights came back on and the immersion fell away and Sibyl and Vivian stood up and stretched. Sibyl grabbed the napkin from under Vivian’s drink and put it in her bag.
Sibyl said, “I don’t get why they glowed when they got close to each other. And how did the girl survive? And that name dropping,.”
Repeat the title in a monotone voice was Vivian say, “I kinda wish the entire movie was like that
H A U N T
And repeating echoed Sibyl say,
H A U N T