“Mrs. Leeds, quick as a snakebite in a midnight desert, stabbed Mr. Silar again & again; she passed the knife to Mrs. Leeds who, quick as the blood already flowing, stabbed Mr. Silar again & again. The hot gate of Mr. Silar’s life remained, accompanied by screams of repugnant revulsion & terrified fading.”
The proper curls of her perfectly coiffed suffragette style hair bounced in a way eternally becoming on a woman. Her little hat was pinned on tightly, blouse buttoned high up her neck, pretty pearl-dotted gloves blocked any glimpse of wrist. But it was the bounce of her blonde that caught Mr. Silar’s eye as he stood on the train platform, previously more concerned with checking his watch than anything blowing around in the chilling breeze of this Southern New Jersey mud puddle. Mr. Silar’s handsome health attracted women up & down the rail lines, & he was not surprised when the woman’s strong stride crossed the platform directly toward him & his growing shadow.
She thrust a leaflet at him with a stern hand. Her sleeve rode up slightly & a small tattoo caught Mr. Silar’s attention, “Please heed this advice, Mr…” The moment slid until Silar spoke, “Mr. Silar,” he put suitcase down to shake her outstretched hand & glimpse the ink again, a pointed “B”, as she spoke in return, “Mrs. Leeds.”
“I saw these handbills posted on the station walls here. ‘Beware the Jersey Devil’. Ma’am, my business is to travel, so, you see, if I believed every bit of local lore, well, I would have never made it out of Frederick County, Maryland. Ma’am, your arm, may I ask, & sorry to be rude, but do you have a tattoo?”
Mrs. Leeds stood conspirator close & whispered, though there was no one else on the train platform, “Mr. Silar, ever since my husband disappeared, there has been a curfew in effect. It’s been such a scary time, living without my husband. I got this Berkana rune to remember him, strange for a lady, sure, but death is a time for new beginnings.” Mrs. Leeds’ gaze continued directly, while Silar’s swam in a warm sea of fireflies & halogen train tracks growing golden & how the tight curl of her hair would look undone.
Mrs. Leeds continued, “Ah, the lights are coming on & it’s getting chilly; it seems like the last train isn’t arriving. I have a room to let if you want a hot meal & soft bed.”
So Mr. Silar & Mrs. Leeds left the platform together, a handsome pair, whose shadows long behind them intermingled with the darkness that intensified the dense underbrush of the deep woods behind.
Mrs. Leeds gingerbread house charmed the neighborhood with its’ window-lined porch, ornate spindles, & cheery colorfulness. The home inside gleamed chandelier glint on curio & glowed golden out to the autumn evening, bathing the evening with motes of illumination. Mrs. Leeds & Mr. Silar cut a devastatingly classic silhouette of two people interested in getting to know each other. Mrs. Leeds poured from a crystal decanter & Mr. Silar drank deeply, while she ingested nothing she served.
A dark eclipse of a shadowy female figure loomed in the window behind Mrs. Leeds, a black halo of long limbs, watching Mr. Silar take the final sip of his life’s lemonade.
Mr. Silar’s eyes hung as heavy as the harvest moon as his head drooped & his body slumped & thumped off the chair seamlessly boneless. Mrs. Leeds sashayed inside, now a shadowy figure herself.
Mrs. Leeds dragged Mr. Silar through the house: sliding him on a kitchen carpet over hardwood, letting his head bang heavily on every steep step up, & scratching then cracking the crystal of his watch on the crumbling concrete of the attic floor.
When Mr. Silar’s mind began the process of clearing & waking from the drugging, he awoke to the light of a room alive with dancing candle flame, heating the evening air past the comfort of suffocation & into the atmosphere of dancing terror. His eyes open & consciousness untethered; his arms were bound, but bound to what? His eyes rolled like an animal engulfed in a caged inferno: an alter of skulls & body bones, husks from 100 reapings, fruit & fauna: shadows & fire both alive & dead, here & never again, the past & now melting into a primal puddle of anxious black eating itself. Mr. Silar screamed like an animal caught in a trap, calling for the freedom of the steel horse & driving masculinity of his self.
Mr. Silar thrashed & kicked & did not think or see the shadows filled with the black souls of the empty skeletal holes. Mr. Silar’s mind crossed the threshold of discord & was seated at the bloody right hand of madness & focused on the stygian stillness, trying to see through the shadows that surrounded his suspended body.
Mr. Silar felt the power of Mrs. Leeds watching him deep within the space between the candle dance & eternal darkness. Her fairness wept into the darkness & she wore only white silk & shimmering underthings, substantial as a wisp of smoke in a room of rusty lust.
Mr. Silar’s eyes & reality fluttered & there was another women in the room, slippery in lace; the women slid in & out of flickering fire. Both women’s hair was coiffed for an evening out, rouge lips & cheeks hot & bright in the murky heat.
“Mrs. Leeds,” Mr. Silar slurred through thick lips, sleeping tongue, & heavy body.
“Which one,” the women replied in unison, silk worms spinning a fabric of terror.
“You’re Mrs. Leeds,” Mr. Silar gestured toward the woman he thought he knew.
“We’re both Mrs. Leeds,” said the strange woman, whose Clara Bow lips were a hatchet kissed with the blood of a single chopped limb, the silver shine on a knife blade gripped by the bone handle, the blade sharp & smooth as the other Mrs. Leeds’ cool voice, “We are the wives of The Jersey Devil, like his crone of a mother, like so many women who love The Devil, we bear him fruit & tend the garden of lust that keeps him from ever feeling hunger.”
Mrs. Leeds slid Mr. Silar’s tie off & while the other Mrs. Leeds unbuttoned & untucked his shirt. The Mrs. Leeds chanted to their Devil, repeating in whispers, growls, & ecstasy as they thrust astride Mr. Silar’s manhood, words & bodies blurring together in a world of terrible pleasure from the dusky place of lust.
“With one heart, we pump blood & life
With one body, we sow wombs to provide
Welcome, Child of Darkness, Nourishment, Decimation, & Life”
The knife ran over Mr. Silar’s skin, letting rivers run wild into his shorts & smearing blood & silk, flesh & mind. Mr. Silar shook in a spasm of fragile faculties & failing organs.
Mrs. Leeds, quick as a snakebite in a midnight desert, stabbed Mr. Silar again & again; she passed the knife to Mrs. Leeds who, quick as the blood already flowing, stabbed Mr. Silar again & again. The hot gate of Mr. Silar’s life remained, accompanied by screams of repugnant revulsion & terrified fading.
Mrs. Leeds placed the bloody knife of the altar, in exchange for a lovely feather, & rejoined Mrs. Leeds next to the body of the man who had planted his seeds. Mrs. Leeds trailed the feather in the blood & painted fertility runes on their skin’s canvas, & signaled to Berkana in pointy ‘B’s’ for new beginnings, sliced siguls for their dragon & deep cuts for conception. The fine feathers’ plumes bristled apart, yet clung together, similar to the ragged rising & bubble of breath that connected Mr. Silar to the evil babies growing in the bloodlust wombs in both Mrs. Leeds, already hungry for desire, starving for fertilization, looking to quench their maidenhead & marriage bed with blood & baby. The knife that dripped with the blood of death, would soon enough drip with the blood of the new lives. The Mrs. Leeds hoped to have a succulent dinner of discordia prepared for their Devil when he arrived on wings & loins supple from his wives’ reaping & slaughter.
In the distance, past the madness of Mr. Silar’s mind & manhood, & blood of his body, the train whistle blew with metallic flair, as the Mrs. Leeds were fortified, knowing men would never stop travelling through Laurel Springs, with lifelines & train lines intersecting forever.
Photography: Victoria McConnell
MUA/FX: Jamie Leigh Matteucci