Words, words, words, art.

The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

035 Organ


The stretch of houses on St. Louis between Lawrence and the River is primarily brick two and three flats. One of these, a dark red brick two flat with the front porch converted to an enclosed sun room, and blown roses leaning limply against the iron fence, is frequently host to odd music. Passers by notice this music at random hours of the day and early evening, rarely at night. It sounds like a polka played one and a half times normal speed, on an organ. Nobody in the neighborhood plays the organ, and although pedestrians and neighbors pinpoint the music’s location consistently as being this particular house, those within the house claim never to hear it while indoors.

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Secret Chicago/Fiction updates


I’m cutting back Secret Chicago updates to twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I just couldn’t maintain an every day schedule… the ideas clogged up in my brain arteries. The habit of writing at least 100 words every day was a good one, though, and one that I need to continue.

Does anyone have suggestions for short story publications, especially horror, that I can submit actual short stories to? I’ve been doing research on my own, but do you have a favorite magazine or webzine that you read or submit to? If so, please comment with links/info.

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034 Zebra Mussels


In 1988, a Russian vessel mistakenly emptied its bilge into Lake St. Claire. The living contents of that bilge water migrated through the great lakes, some of it ending up in Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

Every few summers since then, residents of Chicago notice that the water, which comes from the Lake, tastes odd. Some describe it as “greenish” tasting, or “almost grassy.” The City issues bulletins and news casters make announcements. The water is safe to drink, the water is perfectly fine. There is simply an overgrowth of zebra mussels, which affects the water’s taste but nothing more.

While zebra mussels are an invasive species that have fundamentally changed the nature of the lake, and while they do have life cycles that rise and fall, it is not the zebra mussels that change the taste of the water.

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033 CTA


It is somewhat surprising, perhaps, that despite the large number of deaths due to accident, murder, and suicide, that the CTA trains are not thickly haunted. Some theorize that the electrified third rail keeps spirits at bay, the live electricity having the same effect running water is said to have on supernatural entities.

Buses, however, are a different matter.

Henry Collins had the night route for the 92 Foster bus. It was a nice night, clear and calm, and ridership was low. He was heading westbound when he pulled over for someone waiting at Pulaski. The passenger boarded the bus, a girl “about 11 or 12 years old,” wearing a red pea coat, dark grey pleated skirt and knee socks, black shoes, and no hat. She laughed and dashed down the aisle, ignoring his “fare, miss.” and taking a seat at the back of the bus. Mr. Collins, a large man, stood up and went down the aisle after her. She startled visibly as he approached her, and to his utter amazement, vanished.

Although he kept his eyes open, Mr. Collins never saw his ghostly rider again on the Foster route.

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032 Knock


The unseen preys most heavily on those who are alone: those who are alone for the night, and those who spend their lives alone. Prey animals are most vulnerable when separated from the rest of the herd, after all.

When alone, one might barely hear a soft knock at the door. The sound is so faint that one will pause and listen again. It is odd, how so faint a sound can carry through whatever else one is doing. The knock will come again, weak, slightly louder. There may be a compulsion to check the door, to check the lock, to check the chain. There may be a compulsion to open the door and see what brushes against it.

Do not open the door.

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031 Dogs and Cats


It is not common, on dark lonely nights, to see the family dog rise suddenly and advance towards an otherwise innocuous spot, hackles raised and growling. Perhaps it is a closet door, a closed door on an empty bedroom, a spot on the wall, the dining room. It is of the utmost importance to pay attention to these occurrences, and to act. Invite a priest into the home to cleanse and bless it. Keep the home well lit. Do not stay there alone, but invite loved ones to spend time with you.

Conversely, a cat acting the same way can safely be ignored.

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030 Laurel


In late November of 1941, Myrna Mitchell finished feeding her 8 month old son, Laurel, breakfast. She left him in his high chair with an arrowroot teething biscuit and a spoon “to keep him occupied” while she went into the kitchen to wash up from breakfast. Halfway through her last load, she heard a small sound. She turned the water off, and heard Larry laughing and jabbering to himself. She went back to her dish washing, wiped down the counters, and swept the floor.

When she returned to the dining room, she found a gnawed-on, still damp teething biscuit on the floor next to the high chair. His bib had been removed and placed on the seat of the high chair. The child was gone.

Myrna called the police, who found all the windows closed and the front and back doors both locked. No one in the neighborhood had seen any strangers in the area at the time of the abduction. No ransom note was forthcoming.

One sensationalist newspaper reported that a strange foot print was found beneath one of the dining room windows, and that it was shaped like a goat hoof. It’s true that a foot print was found, and casts were made of it. The police report denotes it as a shoe print, although the cast has been lost.

In December of 1941, one month after Larry’s disappearance, Myrna thought she heard a child’s voice over the speaking tube leading up from the lobby of the two flat she and her husband lived in. She ran downstairs, finding no child. The spoon Larry had been playing with was neatly laid on the bottom step, however; shining gently. Snow had fallen a few hours previously and not yet been cleared away. There were no foot prints.

In January of 1942, again on the anniversary of the child’s disappearance, Myrna discovered the shoes and romper he had been wearing stuffed into the mailbox.

In February, on that fateful date, Myrna discovered a small white envelope slipped in the morning newspaper. It contained a lock of Larry’s hair.

In March, near what would have been his first birthday, Myrna received a package in the mail; it was wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, and had no return address. Herbert Mitchell, her husband, reports that she went very pale upon receiving it and rushed out of the house. She was later found dead in an alley. The package was never recovered; neither was Larry’s body.

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029 Father


One of the most well known ghosts in Chicago, or the world, the apparition known as “Resurrection Mary” has frequently been seen in dance halls and along road sides. People, primarily men, have reported dancing with her, speaking with her, and giving her a lift “home,” although she invariably vanishes from the car before any destination has been reached. “Mary,” who most likely died, young, in a car crash, seems desperate to reach “home,” which more and more seems to be the cometary she is buried in.

Less well known is an apparition that seems to be an adult male. Descriptions of him and “Mary” share common features: hair color, nose shape, a curl to the lip. He is seen on nights when “Mary” is active, pacing along the iron fence of Resurrection Cemetery on Archer Avenue, or standing near the main gates. He acts much like a father, waiting up for his child who has missed curfew; or a pimp waiting for one of his prodigal hookers to return with his money.

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028 Intaglio


There is a ring that floats from thrift store to resale shop to antique store, made of iron, with an amethyst intaglio about the size of a quarter. The intaglio, or cameo, is not a crisp carving. The edges are soft, blurred. However, it seems to depict a woman from the bust up. She has a complicated hair style and her hand, visible near her chest, holds a bundle of something… reeds, perhaps, or arrows.

One who obtains this ring, by purchase, trade, or theft, may wash it in a mixture of almond oil and rose water on the 1st or the 8th of the month. Applying this mixture of almond oil and rose water to the eyes will result in prophetic dreams.

The ring will soon slip away from its owner, to find someone else.

It is rumored that should the intaglio be removed from the iron setting, it will become much stronger, and possible to take permanent possession of it.

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027 Bakery


There is a bakery in Albany Park, nestled between a linen store and a children’s clothing store. It has a closed sign hanging in the door, but the lights are on. If you try the door, you’ll find it unlocked and will be able to enter.

The baked goods are reason enough to visit this particular bakery: the eclairs and cream puffs are excellent, as are the red bean buns and slices of tres leches cake. The real draw, however, is “the special.” It is not advertised in any way, and you must wait at the counter for someone to come out from the back room. After asking for it, they will retreat to the back and stay there for five or ten minutes. When they come out again, they will hand you a small white box tied with string and name a price. Do not open the box in the bakery.

The box contains a tart, slightly smaller than the palm of your hand. The crust is buttery and contains ground nuts. The filling seems to be chopped red seeded grapes in a thick, overly sweet sauce. Eat the entire tart. You may need a glass of water to rinse the sweetness out of your mouth.

After eating the tart, any chronic illness will be alleviated or healed. However, once the tart has been eaten, you will find yourself filled with the longing for a child. You will find that you have been rendered entirely sterile, however, and unable to conceive or cause conception.

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