Authors: Richard Laymon
Tags: #Fiction - Horror
“I’m not sleepy.”
“You’d cramp their style, kid,” Dave explained.
“No I won’t.”
“It’s fine with me if she wants to come along,” Steve said.
“Sure,” Debbie said, rubbing the girl’s hair. “This is a big night for her. Wouldn’t want to spoil it now.”
Dave and Joan looked at each other. Joan shrugged. “It’s okay with me. If you’re sure.”
“We’ll have her home in an hour or so,” Steve said.
“Maybe we should
go to Pete’s,” Dave suggested.
Kerry looked up at him and shook her head. “You’d crump our style.”
“Besides,” Joan said, “I want to take a stroll on the beach.”
Dave caught the look in her eyes. “Me too.”
They stood together and watched their daughter walk away with Debbie and Steve.
“Two lovebirds and a duck,” Joan said.
“She’ll have fun.”
“They sure won’t get much smooching done with her around. Speaking of which…”
She faced Dave.
He looked up and down the boardwalk. It appeared deserted.
He put his arms around her, pulled her close, and kissed her mouth. While they embraced, the lamps went dark.
“Let’s go down to the beach,” she whispered against his lips.
They strolled along the boardwalk, Joan cuddling against his side. At the bottom of the stairs they stopped while Joan shook open her blanket. The beach was pale with moonlight. Beyond it, the ocean looked black except for the white froth of combers rolling toward shore.
“Want to share?” she asked.
They draped the blanket over their shoulders and pulled it closed in front. “Nice and snuggly,” Joan said.
“And private,” Dave added, slipping a hand under her sweatshirt. He caressed the sleek skin of her back.
“Privacy from whom?”
“You never know.”
Joan looked over her shoulder. Toward the darkness under the boardwalk. Dave felt her back stiffen.
He snapped his head around.
He saw no one.
“Now you’ve got us both spooked,” Joan said. Smiling, she slipped a hand into the seat pocket of his corduroys. “Creep.” She gave his rump a squeeze.
“Come on.” He led her forward, anxious to put some distance between themselves and the black area that stretched under Funland.
some derelicts under there, Dave thought. Boleta Bay still had its share of them. Not many, though. Not nearly as many as there’d been before that night so long ago.
Trolls had fled from the Funhouse even before the police swept through it in the early-morning hours. By noon there was not a troll to be found near the boardwalk or beach. Many were spotted on roads leading out of town.
Some who didn’t flee fell victim to outraged citizens. They were beaten, taken for rides to the city limits, even murdered. In the weeks that followed, the bodies of fourteen trolls were discovered: in alleys, dumpsters, under the boardwalk, in the woods outside town. All but three of the corpses had been left with hand-printed cards or signs that read, “Greetings from Great Big Billy Goat Gruff and Friends.”
The killers were never apprehended.
Soon, not a troll could be found within miles of Boleta Bay.
Jasper’s Funhouse and Oddities were demolished that winter. The first event to take place in the amphitheater erected in their place was the June wedding of Nate and Robin.
To Dave the wedding had seemed like an exorcism—a holy ceremony that banished all remnants of evil from the place where so much horror had been.
That summer, a few drifters and beggars began to appear. They met no harm at the hands of the townspeople. Indeed, they seemed different from those who had haunted the area in the days of Jasper’s Funhouse. Somehow, they seemed less threatening.
Less threatening, but the sight of one never failed to remind Dave of the night in the Funhouse, never failed to send chills crawling over his skin. Joan, he knew, had the same reaction.
When they reached the shore, she glanced back again, as if to make certain they hadn’t been followed.
“Is the coast clear?” Dave asked.
She opened her side of the blanket as Dave eased against her. He lifted her sweatshirt above her breasts. He caressed them. Her skin was pebbled with goose bumps, her nipples standing erect. She moaned softly. “Let’s find a place to spread the blanket,” she whispered.
“Right out here in the open?”
She looked up and down the beach, then pointed at the lifeguard station a hundred yards or so to the north. “It’s dark under there,” she said.
Dave kissed her breasts, then drew the sweatshirt down. With the blanket wrapped around themselves, they walked over the hard-packed sand toward the patch of black shadow.
“It’s going to be cold,” Dave said.
“It’s your job to keep me hot, fella.”
“Well, I’ll sure try.”
“And I’ll return the fav—”
A dark shape rose like a hump on the deck in front of the elevated lifeguard shack. Joan pressed herself hard against Dave’s side. Her hand tightened on his hip.
The moonlit form dropped to the sand, stumbled, went down on its knees, then stood and began to shamble toward them.
“Oh, shit,” Joan muttered.
It was a man. A troll. His wild tangle of hair and beard shone like snow under the pale moon. He wore a dark overcoat that looked many sizes too large for his skinny frame. The cuffs of his baggy trousers were rolled up. His white ankles were bare. One of his ragged sneakers had no laces, and flopped under his foot as he staggered closer.
He held out a hand.
“Let’s get out of here,” Dave said.
“Gimme a quarter?” The voice was harsh and whiny. It sounded too young to be coming from a white-haired troll. “Jes’ a quarter? How’s ’bout it, folks?”
“Give him something, Dave.”
Dave’s hand trembled as he took out his wallet. He felt sick, frightened, and angry that this damn intruder had ruined things. But he felt a little sorry for the guy too. He took out a five-dollar bill and gave it to the troll, being careful not to let the scrawny hand touch him.
“God bless ya! God bless bote a ya!”
He whirled away and scampered up the wooden stairs of the lifeguard station.
Dave and Joan hurried over the sand toward the distant stairway to the boardwalk. He could feel her shaking against him. “It would’ve been nice,” he said.
be nice. In our own bed.”
“We can spread this old blanket on it and pretend we’re on the beach.”
“Leave the windows open.”
“Let’s take some sand along and make it authentic.”
Five whole bucks. Five smackaroonies.
God bless ’em.
He wondered who they were. They’d looked a little familiar. Maybe he’d seen them around someplace.
Could be, the gal’d been one of his nurses at the funny farm. He tried to picture her dressed in white, smiling and giving him pills.
Maybe that was it.
He shoved the bill into his shirt pocket. Dropping to his knees, he squinted at the boards of the platform.
He knew the spiders were there. He just couldn’t see them.
Too dark, even with the moonlight.
From a deep pocket of his coat he took a can of insect spray. The white mist hissed from its nozzle. He crawled along, sweeping it back and forth, trying not to miss an inch of the deck.
“That’ll getcha,” he muttered. “Yeah! No way y’gonna get ol’ Duke.”
When he was sure it was safe, he slipped the can into his pocket. He took out a bottle of red wine. Holding it up to the moon, he shook it.
Still a few good swallows in there.
He popped the cork and began to drink
FRIDAY NIGHT IN BEAST HOUSE
THE WOODS ARE DARK
THE MIDNIGHT TOUR
THE BEAST HOUSE
INTO THE FIRE
COME OUT TONIGHT
TO WAKE THE DEAD
DARKNESS, TELL US
NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER
THE MUSEUM OF HORRORS
IN THE DARK
THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW
AMONG THE MISSING
ONE RAINY NIGHT
A LEISURE BOOK®
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Copyright © 1990 by Richard Laymon
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