Old Haunts by John Wentworth Chapin

The Ancestors confront The Writer. “Why do you write filth?” they howl – the very timbers quake.

The Writer drinks in their longcoats, sabers, powdered hair. It’s not… well, not all filth.

“April 12, 1986!” thunders a corseted woman with an eyepatch, waving folded yellow legal paper: “Fellatio, drunkenness, bestiality, and six blasphemies!” A man in black frock with buckled boots nods, glowering.

That was a fake letter, a joke…

“He thinks it not filth if a joke!” The gentleman in dingy Civil War-era military garb hisses, the blue or gray faded to a judgmental charcoal. Someone belches fire somewhere; brimstone and sulfur creep hot down The Writer’s throat.

Uh… yeah, that one was filth.

The Writer’s mind races. Nothing he has written comes forth; all he remembers is sitting with a pencil, a pen, a typewriter, a laptop, an iPhone, words and images spilling over the lip of his mind like so much lava, too hot to touch but oh so tempting. He thinks of houseplants blooming in January, doe-eyed pets on his lap, lovers in blissful repose. Dappled sunsets…

“Well?” croaks a woman in rags, shaking her fists. “You think we have eternity?”

The Writer begins to object… Every time I go to write about beauty, I hear you scoffing at my weakness. He doesn’t speak a hurtful truth: I write about your weakness.

The Writer clears his throat: “You have written yours. Be still.”


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Filed under John Wentworth Chapin

9 responses to “Old Haunts by John Wentworth Chapin

  1. Whoa. This one packs a punch, John. Love the back and forth, the writer’s theory.

  2. Randal Houle

    I write about your weakness…. I liked this a lot. Ancestors can be loud at times.

  3. I *really* enjoyed this!

  4. At least your ancestors bitched AFTER the words were thrown down. Mine keep me silenced before the act.

    Lots of levels on this, really tight. Peace…

  5. “words and images spilling over the lip of his mind like so much lava” I love this writing! And all the watching and confronting by the Ancestors… real stuff. Thanks!

  6. The reparte is so strong here, relatable, and the writing strong. The Ancestral voices and how they affect us…um…nuff said.

  7. Pingback: Week #35 – Loose connections | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  8. Kim Hutchinson

    Six blasphemies! That’s impressive! And these ancestral voices are well-done and enormously fun. Loved the last line.

  9. guy

    Why aren’t these old preverts reading Goodnight Moon or the bible or something?

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