Death Stills: A Short Story Part One

The blue flashing lights of four black police sedans are silent in front of the two-story house. Everything seems perfect on the outside, embellished in blue siding with a charcoal colored roof and chimney. Yet, from the open front door, you can see dirt and blood commingled into the rug. Upon entering the foyer, there is a putrid blend of rotting flesh, urine and excrement. There is also bare footprints, of various sizes, going in and out of the house with the trail halting at the door’s entrance. The 35mm camera clicks go off throughout the house, capturing every moment of the past few hours.

The forensic photographer, Billie Adelson, does not blink an eye when he captures the first body on the living room floor. At the foot of the fireplace, the body of a middle-aged and overly tanned man lay face down, except–the neck and head are at an abnormal angle. The blue sweater and khaki pants he wore have no bloodstains, gashes or so much as a wrinkle. The man is wearing dress shoes which color closely resembles his khakis. Billie captures photos of the blood-mud fusion foot impressions smeared in a semi-circle around the deceased. There are no discernible signs of a struggle and a weapon to determine the cause of death. The dead man’s last cloudy gaze fixed directly into the entrance of the dining room and kitchen.

A detective wearing coverings over his shoes, stops to speak to Billie before he enters the dining room area. He motions to the top of the entrance, where the words are written by fingers in ash, “We EAT here?” Billie snaps some shots of the words written grotesquely on the wall and zooms in on the messy script. The detective moves past Billie and walk into the dining room.

The atmosphere is heavy with the blend of stagnant blood, decomposition of meat, and food left out on the table. Surrounding the elaborate dining room table, sat two more corpses. All are motionless and perched in their seats. A blonde woman in her thirties or early forties sat at the head of the table, farthest from the entrance. Her glassy eyes were so wide it seems as though it bulge from her head. Billie gulps loudly and the detective looks at him with concern but said nothing. He nods and Billie continues his tour of photos. The blonde had a black scarf with white and red roses which was made into a bow and wrapped tightly around her throat. Upon closer examination, Billie notices traces of blue-black bruises near her jawline. He also notices her posture seems posed, like a mannequin. As he examines her visually and notices that her hands lay on both sides of the salad bowl on the placemat in front of her. Her palms of her hands face up. On the right side of the blonde is a pallid brunette teen, judging from her development she was probably between the ages of thirteen to sixteen. Taking the time to close in with the focus on his camera, Billie captures the neck trauma and multiple puncture wounds. Her eyes, now glassy and almost colorless, stare downward but her chair was positioned towards the blonde rather than under the table. Her hands were also set with the palms up on the table as the blonde woman. Behind the teen is a large portion of blood that is still pooled on the tiled floor and gathers near the rear corner of the room.

Two detectives, a male, and a female are comparing notes. The female said, “I believe there was post-mortem manipulation of both bodies. I have a hypothesis that perhaps they were killed in or around the room and then were posed at the table for some significance which I am bewildered, but…another instance shows that there may be multiple murderers.” The male detective nods in agreement and moves to examine the slashes in the girl’s neck.

The female detective notifies Billie that there was a final body upstairs, in the bedroom adjacent to the staircase. Before taking the first step to climb the stairs, he sighs. He has been in the business of forensic photography for 12 years now, he is still fairly young in the business. The odors, blood and corpses do not unsettle or irritate him. But today, in particular, it is taking a toll. Just two weeks ago he buried his mother. A week before that he found her alone and dead in her apartment. After all these years seeing strangers dead, seeing a loved one dead that he has emotions and memories attached, gives him a different perspective on the business now. Everyone is someone, to someone else.

Once he arrives at the top of the stairs and looks straight into the room, where the final display must be recorded–the moment, the essence of departure, and what remains. The male investigator was working on lifting fingerprints on a mahogany desk near the window, which was open. The bed is directly in front of the door and a deceased young woman lay face-up across it. In bloodsoaked yellow sheets and comforter, her pearly arms and legs sprawled out to where they resemble a starfish on a beach. As though she prepared to sleep, she wore a nightgown, which was lavender in contrast to her pale white skin. The nightie is long and covers most of her limbs except for her head, thighs, and arms. She had a collection of blood on her dress where her heart rests silently in her chest. Then the camera flash goes off again, documenting the stills of her soft shoulders to her delicate but bloody fingers and feet. Billie shakes his head and then continues to take snapshots of her bloodstained feet. He focus on the possibility that the smeared footprints from the living room and foyer, some may belong to her. But hers are just some of the many barefoot impressions captured on his camera. Numerous footprints are bigger than his and he wears size twelve in men’s shoes.

He looks at the investigator and inquires, “who is she?”

TO BE CONTINUED…

This original blog post was written and copyrighted by Juana M. Gumbs. All rights are reserved by her in January 2021 (C)

Blog: Is This Working?

I was given a writing prompt to describe eating fruit in four paragraphs, with the absence of revealing the fruit by name or color. I did create four paragraphs for this challenge but, I felt no end in sight. Here is the first paragraph:

“My mouth watered profusely as I stared and waited on the store clerk to peel, cut, and cube the sugary honey-hued flesh. The lush ripen husk bore an overflow of sticky juices that ran down the blade that sliced it. The scene caused a ruckus in my abdomen, pangs for hunger called out of my being. I looked around then consciously brought my hand over my stomach—as though commanding it to simmer.”

I’ve been doing writing challenges for the entire month of January, to improve my writing skills or using writing as a way to explore my talent. Writing prompts have been very helpful and I’m trying to diversify, writing in different genres and styles in order to find a niche.

This week I’ll do journaling instead of fiction. I’m very free spirited and the rigors of writing in a certain context is waring me out. It’s only been two weeks, I’m fatigued. Let me try this writing challenge from a different perspective…

Unfinished Business at Hollow Manor – A Short Story

A few weeks ago my mother was lowered into her final resting place of the EverGreen Memorial Park. My three siblings and I surrounded the hollowed burial place to mourn her passing. As I stood there with glass tears in my eyes, my mind filled with the bittersweet memories that still held images of my mother—her presence, her voice, her hugs, kisses, her love.

After the somber ceremony we went to my mother’s home. She hadn’t moved since we all lived together decades ago. Reluctantly, we walked into the house. None of us wanted to be there, but mom left some loose ends and we couldn’t decide who would be the one to tie them, so we all decided to work together. The house looked as if it was vacant for months—no dishes in the sink, brown house plants, stack of newspapers sitting on the coffee table. None of us were ever really good with keep up with her, so mom’s illness came as a total surprise for us. In some semblance of respect for her, we pooled money together to hire home care nurses to watch her. Some of us—two of us, came to visit on a monthly bases. Her passing was still a surprise, however. We separated and each took a room to complete. The emotions flowed heavily as we sorted and collected forgotten memories of our lives—joys, disappointments, successes and regrets.

By the time we were done going through all the things that once mattered, the feeling of a life long lived seemed to flow about. It was her home. It was our home. Even though she’s gone, It will always feel like our home. We all lived most of our lives there. Some of us grew up, left, returned and left again. Our very beings were forged within those walls. As we gathered in the black SUV, still shedding our tears, our hearts were full. But grief took us in waves. I sat in the passenger seat, watching our home shrink away on the horizon and I smiled through the grief. I smiled as the happiness followed us from behind.

Credit to Jae Davis, as Editor of this story.

This original blog post was written and copyrighted by Juana M. Gumbs. All rights are reserved by her in January 2021 (C)

Poem: Dark and Light

Time has a night and day

In between, I have given all that I can

Especially offered my heart

Which has been eaten as though it was an apple

Masticated, swallowed and digested

Never let that heart fall into the hands

Of someone hungry for theft

But without care for that which they hoard

Love being taken for granted

Left out in the cold

Is the coldest darkest night

This original blog post was written and copyrighted by Juana M. Gumbs. All rights are reserved by her in January 2021 (C)

Blog: Soundtrack Of Our Lives

Music today does not have the same impression on me as the music from the 80s and 90s. It is hard to find inspiration in just booty shaking, clout chasing and corny puppy love songs. Music back in the day was more relatable, it felt real and even inspired you in many ways.

There are a few songs that I would like to add to a playlist for a soundtrack of my life. Songs that still make my heart sing, rave or dance. Songs that remind me of love making, lost love and finding a new love.

1. Doo Wop (that thing) – Lauryn Hill

2. Bitter Sweet Symphony- The Verve

3. Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill

4. Waterfalls – TLC

5. Truly, Madly, Deepy -Savage Garden

6. This is How We Do It – Montell Jordan

7. Don’t walk away – Jade

8. Gonna Make You Sweat – C+C Music Factory

9. All Around The World – Lisa Stanfield

10. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-lot

Baby Got Back is a favorite at Karaoke bars all over. So don’t give me the stick eye for that one. You’ve heard the song before, you cannot deny how catchy it is and even of you can’t rap, you’d still singalong.

All of my soundtrack tunes have significance in certain parts of my life. What are your top ten songs that make up the soundtrack of your life?

This original blog post was written and copyrighted by Juana M. Gumbs. All rights are reserved by her in January 2021 (C)

TOUCH HUNGRY: CHAPTER ONE – SHORT STORY

Frankia Krane collected the small shovel, potting soil and a terra cotta planter pot set from the garden supply shop. She took her time looking at all the indoor plants in the nursery. There was a vivid array of selections all about her and every time she passed a plant she wants that very one, then two steps ahead she would fall in love with another plant.

She finally came upon a plant that was very unique from the others. The leaves were similar to that of a snake plant or Dracaena Trifasciata. Snake plants usually have speckles of green and cream colors, naturally detailed in natural waves and ripples with long, tall blades for leaves that look as though they want to reach for the sky. The only difference is that the other plant bared leaves with a texture like that of a lizard or reptile, with splotches in spectrums of browns and greens, with varying tones commencing from the very tips of the leaf to where it connected to its roots, hidden in the rich dark brown soil. The tag on the pot read, Dracaena Valiveal, also known as the Sliver Leaf Plant.

As though the plant’s leaf was charmed, Frankia instantly became compelled to caress the Sliver plant’s leaves. The texture of the leaves instantly incited an emotional response from Frankia. While she stood there near the table, stroking the leaves of this two-foot tall plant, she did not care if anyone was watching her. Though not far in distance, the store clerk, an aged woman stood watching her as she smoothed and massaged the plant’s blossoms. A cooing sound escaped Frankia’s lips, and a calm and nurturing feeling washed over her mind and body. She was not consciously aware of herself in this moment. There was also a cautionary note below this plant’s name that read, “please do not touch.”

“Excuse me ma’am, can I help you” The older woman who was on staff at the garden shop offered.

“I was looking for a new houseplant…and I think I found the perfect one!” Frankia responded.

“Well,” said the employee, “This one is a new species, similar to the snake plant that its origins are from the Congo Basin.”

“Congo? You mean in Africa? Well…”

The clerk spoke abruptly. “Oh yes. They both have origins in that region of Africa but the Sliver Leaf grows specifically in Equatorial Guinea, deep in the rainforest…growing wild, but still very rare.”

Frankia only blinked, then her attention went back to the plant.

“Oh and please do not touch it. Just water occasionally and we have a specific liquid…serum that helps with its nourishment. If you would like to purchase it, I’m available to receive your payment.” The little old lady said then motioned towards the direction of the cash register. Frankia immediately picked up the plant pot and followed the little old lady to the front of the garden shop.

TO BE CONTINUED…😬

CLICK HERE FOR CHAPTER TWO

This original blog post was written and copyrighted by Juana M. Gumbs. All rights are reserved by her in January 2021 (C)

All What It Seems -Poetry

Camera poised for poses of smiles and laughter

Concealing a union’s sunset

In a horizon of demise

Portraits foreshadowing tragedy

The fights that brewed and rumbled before

The capture of curled lips with crooked intentions

Memories to play the perfect role

For an audience of none

All rights go to Juana M. Gumbs as her original poem. 01/04/2021

Blog – Behind The Mask…The Hidden

Our bodies withhold organs and things. Fluids, secretions and bacteria all at work to keep us from meltdowns and combustion. We grow from babe to adult and neglect what is within us…apart from the known, the spirits we harbor. The Hidden, the one watching through our eyes that witness all and everything, collecting all data within the black box which is our subconscious. You can access that knowledge.

The Hidden is of an energy that is indestructible, that can only be recycled in a process called reincarnation. Hindu, Buddhism, Taoism and many ancient cultures believed in this universal law where as energy cannot be destroyed but converted or transferred. The Hidden divinity extents itself beyond the five senses of our physiology. That sixth sense, the ability for us to sense danger and consciousness through self realization.

Now, this is not a supernatural tale, it is real life. The reality of us all. I don’t want to suppose that perhaps the you, you think is you, was perhaps someone else. Or you are the creation of an entity beyond your comprehension. All this time as you grew, you were experiencing all as though it was your very first time. Your first bike, your first kiss, your first job and so on, believing every bit of it and accepting your limitations as a body bound entity.

One way to reach out to this conscious and aware entity is through meditation. In this state, the Hidden is eventually revealed through time and practice. Please research more on meditation on your own. I practice different meditation techniques through my religious practice. But at first meditation can be difficult. Do not give in, you can achieve this access to your inner self. One technique is to shut the world out by sitting quietly, upright in a chair, listening to your heartbeat and breathing from the diaphragm slowly. Allow yourself to focus on your breathing alone. Now in some cases you can chant, but in most cases the focus on the breathing should be enough. I cannot say when the Hidden will reveal itself to you, because everyone’s experience will be different. Eventually, you will engage with this higher consciousness and in that union all will be revealed to you.

The Start Off…Go!

I’m writing in a place of rawness and genuine excitement as this is the 1st day to conscious living for me. I’m in the bed still of course…had a night at a party (which reminded me of how much of an introvert I am) and it definitely showed me a lot about myself. One thing being that I’m usually nervous or aren’t open to meeting new people or letting them easily into my life. As of now, I really want to life a life consciously, meticulously analyzing what I do and why. Today’s a start to live with less fear and more grit to take life in a different direction than before. I am the only enemy to myself at times, the only one stopping me, is myself through setting limitations, self sabotage and allowing distractions to wrench me from my own greatness. I discovered that I have the tools, but their inactive mostly.

Everyday should be an opportunity to make changes to oneself, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s like having all corners of direction about you , such as East, West, North and South. I want to add to myself in each direction daily. Lately, I became aware that just existing is not enough. Being that I can sometimes be flighty, unpredictability predictable (more on that another time) spirited away easily by distractions and always extreme with love and laughter. I need to consciously provide balance to myself. I’m standing on my feet now and the next move is on me.

Let’s see how this living consciously lifestyle works this month. My challenge is to live and live with steps to getting up and what happens after I walk of the door into unlimited possibilities.

NOTE: It is good to try something new and it is not always set by a particular instance. First step is on you.

Blog – How I Plan on Saving Myself #2: Failure and Picking Yourself Up Again

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” -Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Macbeth is my favorite Shakespearean play and we know what end came to the character, though he had goals and with his goals came failure and ruin…but with goals most of us do not prepare for failure. Most of us, our goals don’t end in ruin but yet we do not plan for those obstacles that may impede our path to accomplishing success. We visualize what must be done and by the end of day one, we are ready to either quit and/or exit promptly. Have you encountered this before?

So, I fell off last week with my first “how to save myself challenge” on meditation. Yes, I felt like Macbeth in that soliloquy, acknowledging my failure but I am working to recover this week. Getting back into the discipline of meditation is not quite as easy as it was over 8 years ago when I practiced diligently. At that time, meditation was also a part of my practice along with my spirituality. I have lost my path again even with that (looking into the vast nebula which is made of me).

Moving forward and getting back on track towards that goal is often put off for another day. Then you try again and feel empowered that the next day you have accomplished what you set out to do with laser focus. A week has gone by and you haven’t skipped a day of your dedicated purpose. Your pace is as steady as a heartbeat, not erratic or slowed.

At first, with your goal set, you then decide attainment and timeframe. Such examples are saving for three months for a new car or reduce that belly fat to a sexy midriff for summertime or build-a-business using these successful tips and steps to financial freedom. In any case, no one leaves room for the fumble, the failure or the agony of defeat. Nobody realizes that they can fall and get back up again, tomorrow. And it is alright. Trust me when I say it is and don’t stop getting up after it all.

These are my original thoughts…life lessons and fumbles. I’ll being posting on my journey. Please subscribe for original content and leave a comment if you like!