The Holiday Issue - December 2014
Happy holidays from Barrelhouse! As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, many people take time to pause and reflect on fond memories with dear friends.
We decided that it was time to catch up with some old Christmas movie pals. What happened to these characters after the cameras stopped rolling and the days got longer again? We invited some of our favorite writers to share these stories.
My son is afraid of zombies. He runs into my room at night. They're going to eat my brains! They’ll come in through the windows while we’re sleeping and eat our brains!
My mom says not to fall in love with a car. She coughs up into a tissue wrinkled in her hand. There’s blood in it. It’s dark and I’ve committed myself to going to bed at the drop of the hat of darkness. But I want to finish watching the movie with my mom. The red car, full of sex, runs over a greaser. We don’t see it but it’s implied.
As I sit here at my computer writing this story, I don’t see any fiery sunrises or dark clouds looming, or sense some aura about me, and I didn’t wake up trembling when the alarm went off or any of that nonsense. I am up early, as usual, after one of “those” dreams, of which I’ve had so many over the years. The same dream.
Even now in the dawn of the seventh grade, you know that you’re taking a risk. But this is Hannah Jordan’s Halloween sleepover, and she’s popular and lives in one of those neighborhoods with its very own sign: Chestnut Ridge. The streets over there are like little poems, invoking stately places with equestrian flair: Ford’s Carriage Path, Abbott’s Arbor Run, Rock Ridge Trail. The streets in her neighborhood are gently curved, and lined with large colonial homes that rise from manicured lawns with kidney-shaped flower beds hugging all the trees.
When you died everyone came home
to fill up the church. We spilled over
into the parking lot. After the service
we went to Whataburger because it was Sunday.
I walk into the confessional booth.
I haven’t been in at least a decade,
and, between you and me, I should confess
I’m not entirely sure how this whole
thing goes anymore. But I hope it’s like
riding a bike—you know, something I thought
Saw kept his eyes closed but imagined opening them, seeing night. The sun would have set, everything gone dark. The clouds would be gone, the sky a dome of deep blue, and shining through the darkness, the full moon, a flashlight on their diorama of a world.
When the zombies came, they were kinda lame.
Slow, yes. Unthinking, of course. But also limited to a vague sense of touch.
Limited in numbers, too.
One of the things Peter liked most about nights when the moon was full was that under its light he turned into a woman. For twenty-eight, twenty-nine days of the lunar cycle he was something boring, just another insurance agent in Downers Grove with a wife and three kids, a certified pre-owned vehicle, an MBA, and a manageable amount of student loan debt. Normal, in a way. Like how people who lived like Peter lived defined normal. Better Homes & Gardens normal, had Better Homes & Gardens not been supplanted by HGTV, which was also about normal homes and gardens for the less moderate of Peter’s peers in the upper-middle class.
Ghost of Hunger
the ghost is a presence defined by negative space, a nothingness gripping your leg, your waist, your lungs, your throat, your tongue, creating a silence surrounded by static.