My dog wouldn’t stop barking and pawing at the basement wall.


For the whole day, he stood in the same spot, sometimes with his paws up on the concrete, barking wildly and scratching the rough surface with his nails. I tried to get him to calm down. I had to use his favorite treats to coax him out of the basement. Once I did, I locked him outside.

I put my ear to the wall he’d been obsessing over. I heard a few faint scratches, but I wasn’t particularly bothered. I’m not a superstitious man; you won’t catch me worrying about poltergeists or ghosts. If anything, I was concerned about bugs getting into the foundation. I made a mental note to buy some insecticide at Home Depot.

The following morning, I looked out the window and saw the dog had started digging a hole up against the side of the house. It was right above the spot he’d been so focused on in the basement.

Now I was starting to get pissed off. He was ruining Martin’s marigolds. Continue reading “My dog wouldn’t stop barking and pawing at the basement wall.”

Missing Mousetraps

dead mouse in trap

(Horror stories about mice.)

About two weeks ago, a new couple moved in across the street. Julius and Bill. I was surprised the house sold, to be honest. It was a hell of a fixer upper. I guess they really liked the place.

It’s an old farmhouse built in 1712 or something. Looks it, too. I mean, it’s better now since they got all the garbage out of the front yard, but the curb appeal is still seriously lacking.

Not long after they moved in, I invited them over for dinner. I figured they’d want to know that their new neighbor was, well, neighborly.

Plus, I was curious.

I’ll come out and say it: I’d never really talked to guys like them before. Maybe I’m old school, but in my day, I wasn’t exposed to those kinds of folks. Even though I know it’s supposed to be a different world nowadays, I still have a hard time believing two men would make the choice to be what they are. I mean, what kind of man looks at another man and says, “hey, let’s be florists?” Continue reading “Missing Mousetraps”

Something horrible is happening to me on Grindr.

(A scary story about social media.)

So. Many. Penises. Since Eugene left me, I must have looked at a thousand of them. Cut, uncut, black, mocha, tan, pink, beige, thick, thin, long, hairy, shaved, trimmed, veiny, smooth, micro, macro, and even the elusive gargantuan. I’ll be honest with you, though: it’s not even like I was open to the idea of a hookup at that point. It was still too soon. The emotions were too raw. That said, I wasn’t going to be ashamed of myself for looking at pictures of dicks to help pass the time. I like dicks.

After a few weeks of browsing, I started involving myself in actual chats. You know, more than the basic “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” type of stuff I’d been doing. Most guys didn’t really want to talk about much; they were more interested in meeting up and banging. I wasn’t ready for that, though. I was polite enough with my rejections, and most of them were cool with it. Not all, but most. Continue reading “Something horrible is happening to me on Grindr.”

Pretty Little Bugs

As one might imagine, a degree in Film doesn’t immediately lead to job offers. At the age of 23, I was desperately looking for a job – any job, really – but if I could find one that used my talents and my passion, I’d be ecstatic. When I refreshed the job section of Craigslist and saw, “Cameraman Wanted” with an email address, I shot off an email as fast as I could and within an hour I heard back.

After a brief email exchange, the next day I ended up interviewing with a thin, well-dressed man in a beautiful midtown apartment. The man, who introduced himself as Andrew, was polite and straightforward. “Do you have any moral issues with homosexuality and filming homosexual acts?” he asked, studying me for a reaction.

Continue reading “Pretty Little Bugs”

Tiptoeing the Line of Consent

“No,” I insisted. “Absolutely and unequivocally. No.”

I studied his face. It looked like he was prepared to accept what I was saying, but somewhere in his eyes I saw what I’d been hoping for. Something I barely wanted to admit, but nonetheless what I wanted most of all: he understood that behind my protestations was a plea to be convinced.

He opened his mouth and I studied his tongue. It was pink and firm and marked with tastebuds. The sheen of saliva on the muscle was both inviting and repelling; I loved how it felt inside me. I enjoyed the sensations it produced. But it left things behind. When he pulled away, I would feel the air on the wetness it deposited. It was cold. Discomforting.

I met his mouth with mine and let his tongue slip between my lips. It brushed against my own and I tasted his saliva. His mouth was still salty and slightly bitter from our earlier acts together. Not altogether unpleasant, but still noteworthy. I assumed mine tasted similar. Continue reading “Tiptoeing the Line of Consent”

Death Looking into the Window of One Dying


As Andrew got sicker, he’d point to perceived smudges on our bedroom window. Nothing discernible to him. Not at first. But the decline in my partner’s health brought with it a growing realization. “It’s a face,” he told me. “It’s someone’s face.”

I saw nothing.

I sat with Andrew through it all. Every sleepless night. Every shriek of terror as nightmares tore through him. Every sobbing declaration that he wasn’t ready. In the mornings, the smudged face would be there, ever clearer to him. He was terrified of it. Still, I saw nothing.

Continue reading “Death Looking into the Window of One Dying”

Sex in the Cemetery


My girlfriend and I were crossing through a graveyard when she abruptly stopped and grabbed my arm. She grinned. I knew that grin.


“Here? In a cemetery?,” I asked. It felt a little weird. Disrespectful, too.


“Mmhmm,” she mewled, and pulled off her shirt.


I looked around. It was obvious we were alone. Even though it’d stopped raining an hour earlier, it was still misty and cool. New England autumn was in full effect. The ground was covered in dead leaves. The place looked creepy.


“We’re gonna get soaked,” I complained, but I started taking off my pants.


“I already am,” she whispered. I thought about making a joke and telling her that she should’ve brought an umbrella, but I figured it wasn’t the time or place.


We did what we apparently needed to do. She seemed to enjoy it, at least. Afterward, I was trying to pick leaves and grass off and out of myself while she grabbed our clothes off the headstone.


“Recognize the name?,” she asked.


“Whose name?”


She pointed. My eyes widened.


“Rudolph Jans Mendelson is f*****g buried here?!,” I exclaimed. She grinned.


“I wish I could’ve met him,” she complained.


“Um, you know he would’ve killed you, right? Like the others?”


“No, I don’t think so. We would’ve gotten along just fine.” Again, she grinned. “I probably could’ve given him a reason or two to keep me alive.” She grabbed my crotch, as if I didn’t get what she was talking about.


The late afternoon dimness was giving way to full dark. Fog joined the mist and it crept down the hill into the cemetery like a shroud. My girlfriend looked enthralled.


“I’m getting chilly,” I told her. “It’s probably time we head back.”


“Hang on a minute, let me just take this all in.” She pulled her phone out of her pocket and started snapping pictures of the headstone. “I want everyone to see where we were.”


She got a couple shots, then gave me the phone to hold. Thick, cold raindrops began to fall. “Yeah, that’s probably our cue to leave,” I insisted, and started to walk away.


While I was pulling my sweatshirt over my head, I heard her gasp, then moan. “What’s wro–,” I started to say, but then felt the blood drain from my head as I saw what was causing her to make those sounds.


A hand – a cracked, skeletal hand – had burst from the ground and was gripping her ankle. I shouted and grabbed her arm, but she pulled away. Blood wept through her denim as the hand gripped ever tighter, and after a second, I heard the bone crack.


She didn’t cry out, though. Her face took on an expression of intense discomfort, but she refused to shout. I didn’t refuse. I yelled and kicked at the hand as profound horror forced adrenaline through my body.


Again, I tried to grab her arms. She struggled, but I held tight. I pulled as hard as I could. As I did, a hideous rotting corpse was dragged from its grave. Rudolph Jans Mendelson.


“Let me go!,” she finally screamed. “Let me go!”


I was sobbing now and expending all the effort I could to pull her away from the corpse. His misshapen head seethed with maggots and his eyes and tongue bulged out like some benthic atrocities that had never been exposed to light.


“Miiiiiiiiiine,” he groaned, and his other hand reached up and grabbed her back; his nails sinking into the flesh and using it to pull. “Miiiiiine!”


“Let me go, let me go, let me go!,” she continued to scream. My eyes were closed now as I pulled with singular purpose. I felt teeth sinking into my arm and my eyes flew open as I shouted with pain.


In that moment of agony and surprise, my grip loosened. My girlfriend fell back into Mendelson’s grip and he squeezed her against his rotting, pulpy body. His swollen tongue passed over her neck and face. She wasn’t struggling anymore. She just watched me and watched my reaction. Mendelson squeezed harder and I heard his ribs splinter as my girlfriend’s body was pulled inside.


“Thank you for helping me be with him,” she said to me, as she was drawn deeper into his putrid carcass. “I always knew we’d be perfect together.”

Unsettling Stories is on Facebook.