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Headstones by Rene F. Tyo


               Stephanie Gildon stumbled as she wiggled her butt off of the thick stone fence. Her foot turned awkwardly upon hitting the turf but she managed to remain upright with the help of her boyfriend Stuart. As she had slid forward and off, she had lost her balance and Stu had caught her in his strong arms. His forearms had pushed against her breasts, sending a familiar tingle through her entire body. Steph was not always the most graceful, being of the age of growing and changing it seemed almost daily; she was turning seventeen the next day. Being a little intoxicated didn’t help either.            

               Fortunately she hadn’t injured her foot. She righted herself, leaving Stu’s muscular embrace with some reluctance. She turned to Stu and looking up, gave him her most bashful smile. She giggled, pushed him back with a hand planted in the middle of his chest and dashed away, “Come on big guy, catch me if you can.”

               “Hey wait, help me with this basket of stuff,” he yelled at her.

               “I’m sure that you can handle it on your own.”

               “Alright but you better move fast!” he laughed. Stu leaned over and hefted the wicker picnic basket over the thick granite fence that outlined the perimeter of Stone Acre Cemetery. He turned to see her shapely, jean-clad backside, weaving between the monuments. Laughing, he took after her in earnest.


               They walked hand in hand through the cemetery, meandering among the monuments with no apparent destination. “Why here of all places?” he inquired.

               “I told you, there’s something I want to show you. Now hand me that bottle, mister.”               

               Steph took it from him and turned away slightly. “Hey look, a full moon and the sun still hasn’t set, too cool,” she said pointing it out. He turned to look and set the basket down so didn’t notice as she dumped a good portion of the brandy in the grass behind a monument. I want to fully enjoy tonight, can’t have too much of this, Steph thought. When he turned back to her she was removing the bottle from her upturned mouth. He reached and said, “Hey, hey, easy there, share that will ya.”

               As he pulled the bottle away, a crimson strand spilled down her chin. The sight of it sent an erotic thrill through Stu. He pulled her tight and kissed her fully on the lips, tasting the brandy. As their torrid embrace ended she looked to him with a lustful smile on her face. “Did you bring the, the, you know, the...” she let her question trail off. Stu fished around in the front pocket of his jeans and produced two foil pouches. “Two, are you sure that’ll be enough?” She bolted from him.


               Stuart would be returning to Syracuse university in upstate New York within the week. He was entering the second year of his program at the Falk College of Nursing. He was a serious student and worked hard to maintain his 3.7 Grade Point Average. Stephanie was still in High School; grade 12 was her challenge that coming September. However, she didn’t put the time or effort into school as Stuart did. She was very much a free spirit and that was actually one of the endearing characteristics Stu loved about her. 

               Stuart had been in a funk for some time when they met; his best friend Pete Nataones had run away last summer. They had literally known each other for 18 years. Stu still couldn’t comprehend why his buddy had up and left without saying a word to anyone. It was Stephanie’s spontaneity that helped him recover from his loss. Stephanie could sing and strum a guitar. She had the voice of an angel, strong and strident yet with a certain vulnerability. She had designs of being a pop star and was always dreaming of greater things ahead.             


               “This is the place, what I need to show you.” The warm evening was quickly approaching twilight. They stopped in front of a large mausoleum. Stu leaned against the stone structure.  

               “See what? Why a cemetery, do you know anyone in it?”

               “Shhh...” she whispered at him harshly. “There... do you hear that?”

               “I don’t hear a damn thin—”

               “Quiet," she insisted, “you’ll ruin everything.”

                “Steph, what the hell are you talking about?”

               A low rumble came from behind them from the mausoleum. As Stu turned back to look at it, Steph suddenly pointed to the ground and stated, “There, that’s what you have to see.”

        Stephanie was directing his attention to two headstones. They were mostly covered by dead leaves and grass clippings. What Stu could make out of them made them appear new; they didn’t show the visible wear of the others near them.

               “Clean them off,” she commanded.

               Stu went down on a bent knee and reached to the one closest to him. He pushed aside some of the debris. Stu couldn’t believe his eyes the grey headstone in front of him read:


Stephanie Gildon



               Stu stood up abruptly and looked at Steph, who had a strange grin plastered on her face.

               “Too freakin' cool Stu. A grave marker with my name on it.”

               “Too cool, are you kidding, me? It’s creepy, what the hell’s going on here?”

               “Not just that one Stewie baby, look at the other one.”

               “Have you lost your mind? Too weird, let’s get outta here.”

               “I said look!”

               Something in her tone made him feel obliged. Stu bent down again shuffling his weight to hover over the other stone. He quickly brushed aside the crap. He could fully see what was engraved on it:


Stuart Twildove


               Stuart didn’t have time to react as the heavy bottom of the cherry brandy bottle crashed down on the back of his skull.


         The plunk of a large rain drop spattering on his cheek awoke Stuart. The night had cooled considerably. A strong wind had picked up and howled around them. Thunder was booming and lightning crashed. A full blown thunderstorm had taken over the night.

               He was shivering, laying on the manicured grass. He could hear a sound repeating, ka-chunk, followed by grunts. He managed to open one eye and could make out a shape in the semi-darkness. It was Stephanie and she was wildly leaning over a shovel tossing mounds of dirt, digging a hole. He tried to move but couldn’t. His arms were bound behind him and also tied to his feet. He couldn’t have been more uncomfortable; his shoulders in their awkward angle were screaming at him in pain. He called to her but could only manage a muffled cry. He realized that his mouth was completely sealed shut with duct tape. It was wrapped entirely around his head!

               Stu rolled over slightly and could make out the entire scene. The wicker basket he’d been lugging was toppled over, its lid wide open and the contents strewn about. He could see a roll of duct tape, a small hatchet, worn work gloves and other assorted tools. A small portable work light cast eerie shadows upon the entire area. He strained against his bindings in futility.

               Stuart heard a noise behind him, a scraping, grinding sound. He bent his neck in that direction and could make out the large wooden door of the mausoleum slowly opening on its rusty track. There was movement behind the door. Another bolt of lightning lit up the night. He could see a hooded figure standing within. It shuffled forward and stopped at the threshold. It called out in some unintelligible language.

               Stephanie stopped her manic digging and walked over to the partially open door. The entity and Steph were deep in conversation. Stu couldn’t make out any of what was being said but did hear his last name being used several times. He redoubled his efforts to escape, to no avail. His shoulders felt as though they were going to pull right out of their sockets--he had to stop. Steph turned away from the apparition, nodding her assent. It retreated back into the old stone structure and the door closed with a thudding finality.

               Stephanie turned to Stuart, as another bolt lit the night sky. Stuart could see the maniacal look on her face, hair bedraggled, makeup running. A snarling intensity was projected in her appearance. She said nothing as she leaned over his prone form and rolled Stuart into the makeshift grave. It was barely six inches deep, more a trench. His body was still propped up, his head on the side of the grass. He was staring directly at the headstones.

               His face was on a medium sized jagged rock that had been uncovered.  In desperation, he ground his mouth against it, managing to rip the tape and his lips. “Why, why, what the hell is going on here?  We love each other,” he whimpered to her.

               “Shut the fuck up,” she hissed at him. “This isn’t about you, this is about me. I’m the pretty one, the talented one, the one that can become something. I’ll be a star, The next Aguilera, Swift or Cyrus. I’ll be bigger than this shit hole town. Bigger than any of them, bigger than any of you can ever imagine.” She continued, spittle flying from her lips, “and he will help me,” she said pointing to the now silent mausoleum.

               Stuart’s cell phone rang a familiar tone. It was lying on the wet grass, having fallen out of his pocket. Steph looked down at it. “Mom” was illuminated on the screen. Steph raised the collapsible shovel and brought the spade end down on it, shearing it in half. She flicked the halves into the shallow grave with Stuart.

               Stuart reared back his head and cried out for help, unheard over the din of the storm. The thunder and lightning carried on at an even faster pace. The tempest seemed to be centred over the two of them. Stuart could make out the headstones in the intermittent lightning. Hers read:


Stephanie Gildon


               Then it alternated between flashes,

Stephanie God Nil


               The stone directly in front of Stuart changed several times:

                              Peter Nataones        to            Peter Satan One

                                  2001-2019                              2001-2019

          Followed rapidly by,

                              Stuart Twildove      to           Stuart Devil Two

                               2001-2020                                  2001-2020


               The last coherent thought Stuart had was not my friend, not Pete! The shovel rammed

down again with startling force, severing through his neck with practised ease.


               Stephanie lifted her head to the night sky and let out a howl of triumph. When she looked down to the shallow grave, Stuart's body was slowly sinking into the earth. Within moments any evidence of him being there had disappeared. The grass repaired itself and the headstones were gone. Stephanie collected her tools. As she walked past the mausoleum, she ran her hand against its cold marble exterior. She wickedly grinned and considered how she’d find a man for next year. A man with a name that would fit the scheme insisted upon by the demon in the mausoleum to ensure her success. A name that could be an anagram of “Lucifer Three”. Perhaps she would have to expand her search to include first and last names; she didn’t think that would be against the rules. 

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