Monday, June 11, 2007

The Chair II

It's funny how a vivid memory can inspire a novel. Looking back, I remember the three of us standing in front of the ominous monument, the moon casting its light through the waving branches above us. Splatters of moonglow danced across the ashen tombstones like small ghosts. Years later that memory became a key scene in The Healing Place: Christine Butler, the twelve-year-old preacher's daughter, and her two friends, Joshua and Billy, mounted the hill at midnight and faced The Chair. Josh and Billy chickened out, but Christine challenged the curse and sat on it. The next day she disappeared.

When Mike, Bruce, and I climbed the church's driveway and faced The Chair, I was the one who chickened out. Mike, always a little impulsive, declared he'd go first. He placed his hands on the scroll armrests, leapt, and spun in the air, his rear end landing on the seat. He threw his head back and cackled at the moon, possessed by some devilish spirit.

Mike slid off, whooped, and hollered, "Who's next?"

Bruce hated to be outdone. "Outta my way, Bozo. I ain't afraid." Lanky and blond, Bruce extended his thin arms and positioned his hands on the seat. Up he jumped, planting his butt on the stone slab. Like Mike, he tossed his head back and yelped with glee, the moon flashing off his black-rimmed glasses.

After Bruce dismounted, he and Mike stared at me. All the courage I had gathered on the journey to the graveyard drained into the inky tones of the shadows at my feet.

"Well, Joe, what're ya waitin' for?" Bruce said.

Just then the wind whipped through the dead branches above us, clicking and rattling the dry wood. A large limb broke off, fell, and landed on a nearby tombstone, splintering into a thousand pieces.

"I dunno, boys," I said. "Those branches are breaking off that tree. What if a big one would fall on me?"

They badgered me, but I wouldn't do it. They hooked their thumbs into their armpits, flapped their elbows like chickens and buck-buck-bucked. Didn't faze me. I refused to sit on The Chair. Finally they gave up, and we headed down the driveway.

On the way home, jogging along Scotch Ridge, my two friends gloried in their courage, but I noted a hint of insecurity in their voices. I wondered if I was a coward or a wise man. As we plodded along I heard rustling noises in the tangled greenery along the road.

"Stop," I said. "Did you hear that?" When we stopped, the noises stopped.

"Can't hear a thing," Bruce said.

We started again and the rustling resumed. This time Mike and Bruce heard it. "Hold up, boys," I said. "Bruce, shine your dad's flashlight into that patch of woods."

When he panned the light into the weeds and trees it seemed like a hundred eyes lit up. Then growls and barking erupted. Adrenaline charged my body, and I bolted down the dirt road.

There are sounds in life that make eternal recordings on the tracks of our memories. I will never forget the blood curdling screams of my companions as I left them in my dust.

I wrote my first novel, The Healing Place, to see if people would enjoy my writing. I self-published about 700 copies. They sold out. At there is one used copy for sale. The guy is asking $98. That's a high price to pay for a 6" x 9" trade paperback. Good luck selling that one. But one of the most chilling inspirations for that novel was the screams of my friends. Funny where we get our inspirations, isn't it?

I'll try to post Part III of The Chair tomorrow, hopefully. As you know, our tomorrows are never guaranteed.

Talk to you later,

Joe C. Ellis

Here are some links to my novel, Murder at Whalehead:CLICK HERE to view video trailer
Link to front cover: CLICK HERE (Click on cover to enlarge)
Link to back cover: CLICK HERE (Click on cover to enlarge)
Link to first eleven chapters: CLICK HERE
Visit my website at

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