Fifty-First Street (A Short Story from the Madhouse)
Again, I found myself at the corner of Fifty-First Street and Main, puzzled by an unexplainable need to turn this low-lit corner bordered on both sides by abandoned apartment buildings older than God, Himself. Night after night, I’ve walked the uneven sidewalk here, long forgotten by the city, listening to the buzz of late night neon signs, the roar of passing vehicles, the clicks and chirps of street lights and crosswalk signs commanding the living, and even the distant hum of factories, all slowly fading behind me as it seems I’ve crossed into a place where sound doesn’t belong. Even the heels of my shoes sound muffled, as I pass boarded up doors and windows displaying graffiti like ancient hieroglyphics from people long departed.
“That’s no place for a beautiful, young woman to be walking alone at night,” I can hear Mother’s voice scolding in my head. She’s right, of course, but this place was different.
Understanding why I know this, is the splinter in my thoughts that drives me insane, making the answer to what draws me here so elusive.
I stopped before the old diner at the center of Fifty-First Street, staring beyond broken glass windows and into the lifeless dark within. It was all so familiar to me; this place, this street. Why did I come back here every night, lost gazing into the remains of an old diner that held nothing nostalgic for me? What was it about this place that insisted I had to come back?
Answering me from the darkness across the street, a phone rang from a decrepit, old phone booth, invading the silence much too harshly and sounding foreign in this lifeless place. I wanted to ignore it and let it ring until the night itself swallowed up that desperate sound, for that is what I knew it to be. But I couldn’t turn away, that phone call was for me.
That was why I was here, that’s why I’m always here.
Crossing the street, I felt my heart begin to race. The phone continued to ring like a painful cry from a mangled animal trapped within a standing coffin. As I reached the old door and opened it, the scent of something long dead escaped that musty box. I wanted to run as I reached for that receiver, believing it would strike me dead at the slightest touch.
I picked it up reluctantly and said, “Hello?”
“Oh God!…Thank God!…You have to help me!…He’s coming, and I don’t know what to do!…Please help me!” The familiar voice of a woman pleaded from across the line.
Her terror was infectious as I nearly dropped the receiver. “Slow down, Dear,” I began, “What’s happened to you?”
“Are you the police? Please come and get me, he’s still in there and I’m so
“Try to calm down,” I advised, having a hard time remaining calm myself. “Are you somewhere safe, somewhere he can’t get to you?”
“He’s still in there…I think he’s watching from the window…Oh, God!”
“Can he see you, Dear?”
“No…no, I don’t think so,” the woman’s voice dropped to a whisper. “I’ve hidden in the phone booth. I don’t think he can see me in here, the lights are all busted and it’s dark outside.”
“Where do you see him?” I asked, my own desperation beginning to creep through my voice.
“He’s still searching for me out front. I can see him through the windows…Oh, God! The lights just went out in there!”
“Where are you?” Without realizing it, I crouched down low within the phone booth as if he too could see me.
“Oh, God! He’s coming!”
“Where are you, Claire!” I nearly shouted.
“Who is this? How did you know my name?”
That was a good question.
“Can you slip out of there, Claire? Can you find somewhere to hide?”
“He just exited the diner and he’s looking around. He’s trying to find me. Oh, God! He’s got a knife in his hand!”
I turned as best I could from the phone booth to look back at the old dark diner. For a moment I saw him standing at the broken down front door. Then nothing. “Which diner, Claire? Not the one on Fifty-First Street?”
“Yes! Yes, are you coming? Please tell me you’re almost here!”
As a memory began to surface, I felt my own fear grip my throat. Tears of desperate frustration began to fall from my eyes. “You…you have to get out of there now, Claire. Do you hear me?” I said, “Get out of there now! He’s going to find you! He always finds you!”
“What? What are you talking about…Oh, God…I think he heard me…Oh, God, he’s coming this way!”
“Get out of there now!”
“I can’t! He’s coming right at me…He’s lifting the knife!”
I dropped the receiver as the sound of shattered glass and screams filled my ears. I could do nothing but weep as I heard the sounds of death dangling on an old phone cord. That poor girl was being ripped apart and I could do nothing!
I crawled out of the phone booth and vomited, thankful to be out of there.
From across the street, I heard laughter and looked up in time to see a man, dressed in a dark rain coat, standing just outside the old diner. His face was hidden within the hood of his coat.
“Did you really think it would be any different this time?” The man mocked.
“Yes!” I hissed back. “Now go away! You’re not supposed to be here!”
The man laughed, stepping back into the shadows, and said, “You’re not supposed to be here either, Claire.” Revealing a bloody hunting knife, he finished, “I saw to that myself.”
Again, I found myself at the corner of Fifty-First Street and Main, puzzled by an unexplainable need to turn this low-lit corner bordered on both sides by abandoned apartment buildings older than God, Himself. Night after night, I’ve walked the uneven sidewalk here, long forgotten by the city, listening to the buzz of late night neon signs, the roar of passing vehicles, the clicks and chirps of street lights and crosswalk signs commanding the living, and even the distant hum of factories, all slowly fading behind me as it seems I’ve crossed into a place where sound doesn’t belong. Even the heels of my shoes sound muffled, as I pass boarded up doors and windows displaying graffiti like ancient hieroglyphics from people long departed…
…Unknown to me, this will be the seven-thousand and tenth time I’ve come back here to fail at stopping my own murder twenty years ago outside a long abandoned diner down on Fifty-First Street.
“Fifty-First Street” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr. All rights reserved. From the new book “Madhouse Theater” by Scott Scherr and John Ecko.
Thought I’d share a tale or two from Madhouse Theater. Hope you enjoy.
From the collaborative madness of story teller and poet, Scott Scherr, and visual poet, John Ecko, comes this twisted collection of short stories, poetry, and visual nightmares from the darkest corners of their unbalanced minds. The stage is set, our props have been sharpened and our cast of characters are ready to perform their torture on you, fair reader. Within these pages wait a vast assortment of sickos, maniacs, boogeyman, monsters, myths, ghosts and much, much more. Please, take your seats and welcome to the theater. We hope you enjoy the show…although you’ve been here all along.
Great news! Madhouse Theater is now available for purchase. Please go and check out my new blog to see an expanded preview of what’s inside the Madhouse.
You can also purchase directly at:
This entry was posted on October 10, 2010 at 2:33 pm and is filed under art, ASCII Text Art, calligrams, concrete poetry, Halloween, horror poetry, horror stories, pattern poetry, poems, poetry, shape poems, typography, Uncategorized, visual poetry with tags advant garde, aliens, art, ASCII Text Art, bizzare, boogeyman, caligraphy, calligrams, chainsaws, concrete, concrete poetry, creative writing, creatures, creepy, dark tales, darkness, death, death woes, eckovision, Fifty-First Street, For the Love of All the Pieces, ghosts, Halloween, horror, horror poetry, horror shape poems, horror stories, john ecko, macabre, Madhouse Theater, Madhouse Theater Stories, madness, monsters, nightmares, paranormal, pattern poetry, poems, poetry, psychos, science fiction, Scott Scherr, serial killers, shape poems, signs of life, Signs of Life a book of visual poetry by John Ecko, the undead, thriller, typography, Urban Legends, visual poetry, visual poetry with tags poetry, writing, zombies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.