Death in My Veins – Roland Yeomans

I’ve recently had the great opportunity of getting to know my next guest in the 13 Days of Horror. His writing is remarkable and there is good reason: mixed with natural talent and love for the written word, he also has a deep history of triumph and sorrow, all rooted in the heart of the French Quarter. Please give a warm welcome to my next guest, Roland Yeomans and his magnificent tale, Death In My Veins.

Death In My Veins
By Roland Yeomans

Stroll the streets of the French Quarter long enough, and you will hear of the jazz club of the damned, MEILORI’S, and its owner : the man with Death in his veins.

How did that happen? Story of my life and undeath : the wrong place at the worst time. Case in point : me being in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Now, the night after, tales had come to me of rape and murder in the Convention Center.

Death calls to death so here I was sloshing down the flooded street to the Convention Center.

As I waded along into the night, the black mists curled and creamed in the humid darkness like an unspoken fear trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness.

A trick of the thick air, the moon of blood leered down upon its reflection on the dark waters of the flooded street. Ripples of its long bloody image flowed from the floating dead body of a cat, looking like fingers caressing its kill.

The cat’s death apparently hadn’t been pretty nor was its corpse. The night became colder than it should have been. Much, much colder.

Rind, the Angelus of Death, whispered in my blood. “At night the dead come back to drink from the living.”

I didn’t need Rind to tell me that the night was not my friend. Too much death had happened too recently.

Spirits, lost and angry, were walking beside me. Torn clothing. Hollow eyes of shadows. Sharp, white teeth. Long, writhing fingers slowly closing and unclosing.

Because of Rind’s blood in my veins, I could see them slowly circling me, hear their trailing, splashing steps behind me, feel the heat of their sunken, hungry eyes upon my back and throat.

Were they soul-echoes, mere refracted memory of a will? Or were there such things as literal ghosts? Just because I could see them didn’t mean that I understood what they were.

I turned the corner and came upon the startled, fragile grace of a too-white egret standing alert in the middle of the flooded street, staring back at me. Its long sleek neck slowly cocked its sloping head at me.

Then, gathering its huge wings, it launched itself into the air with its long black legs. I saw the spirits of the dead around me longingly stare after its curved flight of grace and freedom into the dark sky.

I felt a tug on my left jacket sleeve. I looked down. My chest grew cold. The dead face of a little girl was looking up at me.

Or rather the face of her lost, wandering spirit, her full black eyes glistening like twin pools of oil. Her face was a wrenching mix of fear and longing. She tried to speak.

Nothing came out of her moving lips. Looking like she was on the verge of tears, she tugged on my sleeve again and pointed to the end of the block. I followed her broken-nailed finger. I shivered.

She was pointing to her own corpse.

I took in a ragged breath I didn’t need to compose myself. The Convention Center would have to wait. I had sworn a long time ago that no child would ever ask my help without getting it.

A haunted singing was faint on the breeze. Somewhere the dead had found their voices.

I nodded to the girl’s spirit and waded to her corpse, the force of the rushing flood waters having washed it up onto the sidewalk and against a store front where it slowly bobbed in place. I saw the girl’s spirit out of the corner of my eye, studying the shell of flesh she had once worn.

Her head was turned slightly to one side. The expression to her face was sorrowful and wistful at the same time. She pointed again.

I followed the trembling finger. A rosary all wrapped up in the balled fingers of her left hand. She gestured sharply, then looked at me with eyes echoing things I did not want to see.

I nodded again and kneeled down beside the girl’s swollen corpse. I pried the rosary loose, wrapping it around the fingers of my own gloved left hand.

I looked up at the girl’s spirit. She just stood there frowning as if in concentration. Her brow furrowed, her tiny fists balled, and her jaws clenched. I could swear beads of sweat appeared on her ghostly forehead.

I jerked as suddenly guttural words were forced from the long-dead throat of the corpse at my boots. “T-Tell M-Mama … peaceful now.”

And with that, she looked up into the night. I followed her eyes. She was looking at the retreating body of the egret slowly flying into a filmy, billowing cloud. I looked back to her spirit.

She was gone.

“I promise,” I said to the empty night.

2010 © Roland Yeomans

BIO: One of my customers at my bookstore I owned and ran for 15 years said, “Gee, Mr. Roland, you’ve been everything but a pirate.”

Alas, he didn’t know that to support myself in my university days, I worked at a tax preparation agency — so I have been a pirate … of sorts.

I have been a high school English teacher and then a counselor. Cancer striking my mother caused me to open my own bookstore so that I could leave with her for her treatments whenever necessary.

When she died, the reason for my bookstore died with her. Hurricane Katrina and Rita hit, evacuating me out of Lake Charles. Luckily, my best friend got me employment with the local blood center, who ferried me away to Baton Rogue where I was a courier for rare blood to that city and to New Orleans.

My experiences on the grim, apocalyptic streets of New Orleans were the seeds for my urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE. I am working as a sort of Pony Express for Blood still.

41 thoughts on “Death in My Veins – Roland Yeomans

  1. What a great story, Mr. Roland. I was waiting for something horrible to happen: the little girl pounces on the narrator, or a throng of zombies devours him. Instead, you took something that could have been cliche (which can be hard to steer away from in ghost stories) and turned it into innocence and beauty. P.S. I love Lake Charles. Camp Wi-Ta-Wentin anyone?

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  2. This story grabbed me with the way you layered horror on top of horror. From the small grotesqueries like the dead cat in the moonlight, to the description of the child, this was just gripping.The ending was so perfect, it was like finally letting out a breath you didn't know you were holding. Really, really great story.

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  3. Gorgeously dark prose, vivid atmosphere and all around awesome, as always. We expect nothing less than the best from you Roland and you always deliver.

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  4. The subtle horror builds, and one thinks something terrible is going to happen, and in a way it does withuot the hack and slash. When you mix lovely and horror together, a sort of poetry happens. Nice twist, and the atmosphere jumped off the page and darkened my room.

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  5. Yup, this is a grand piece. Like everyone else, it grabbed me with the kind of horrors that seem far too real and haunt long after reading. Your descriptions mixed with questions to the self and the dark night, really enhanced the mood and sent chills through me!Fine penning, Mr. Yeomans.

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  6. Very atmospheric, and I loved the setting, which is just ripe for horror and sadness. Like others have mentioned, the layering of horror upon horror was masterful, building to a great moment there at the end with the egret.

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  7. Good job, as usual. I seem to recall something similar on your blog, but I could be wrong.You are such a prolific writer. You make it look easy, and to you it probably feels easy, but what you do with scenery mixed with sharp wit, that ain't easy. – Eric

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  8. Everyone thanks for the very kind words. They mean a lot to me in the dark of night when only silence comes from the agents. Erin, I went to the blog of each of those who commented, thanking in as personal a way that I could.Your turn, Erin. Thank you for giving me such an opportunity to present my work and to meet such great fellow authors. You are a gem. And your insightful words made my evening.

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  9. Hi – thanks Erin Cole for hosting this and thanks Roland D Yeoman for this story. I found it very sad and moving – the horror is poignant and very emotional! Well done you! Take carex

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  10. Lily, thanks for the kind words. Perhaps one day my FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE will make it to the silver screen. Sigh. Hey, we writers are the ultimate dreamers, aren't we?Kitty, thanks for visiting and for the gracious comments. I'm happy you believe I scored a hit on what I was aiming for.Madam Z, I've visited your site, and it is haunting and evocative. Thanks for being taken by my entry.Daniel, your comment had a lyrical poetry all its own. You have true talent. If you like my entry, then I must be doing something right.Amanda : You have a true way with words and poetry in prose yourself. Thanks for the kind words about me.

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  11. Wonderful story Roland. You write with such elegance and depth. My mother is going through her own cancer journey and I am her caregiver as well. Perhaps these dark times are what help us create the words we write. I have no idea. Love your work.

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  12. "Then, gathering its huge wings, it launched itself into the air with its long black legs. I saw the spirits of the dead around me longingly stare after its curved flight of grace and freedom into the dark sky." This is one of my favorite passages, filled with a haunting, melancholy beauty. And Sam is the best kind of monster-I'd be honored if he were my friend….

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  13. Loved this from start to finish. Beautifully crafted, haunting with an evocative ending. Kudos, Roland. You do an amazing job of capturing the dark spirit of the city that care forgot.

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  14. Rachel : My prayers will be with your mother and you as well. Being a caregiver to someone struggling with cancer is exhausting emotionally and physically. My email is in my profile. If you need a shoulder or a fellow traveler to vent to, I am here. Thanks for the very kind comments on my story.Words Crafter : It's Sam who's honored to have you as a friend. The passage you liked is perhaps my favorite in my story, too.VR : Thanks for such kind words. New Orleans is still hurting and bleeding from Katrina. But she is yesterday's news to most except those suffering in the shadows. Perhaps if FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE is published, it can raise public consciousness about the needs still unmet in that beautiful, haunted city.

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  15. Erin, thank you so much for posting this excerpt from Roland Yeomans. It is profoundly shivery, even as it rips my heart out.Roland, you are a master storyteller and weave with words what a wand does with magic. You make me care about a dead cat and an egret that gives a dead child wings. You make me care about a city that lay dying and forgotten. Under water. And worse.You make what should be ugly and abhorrent, human and somehow beautiful in its awfulness. How do you do that over and over again, no matter your character, no matter how horrific the setting?My horror here lies in the truth, a truth I experience as I slosh down that street in Sam's boots, knowing that more horrible things await around the corner.Happy Hallows, that rebel, Olivia

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  16. Great story, Roland, written with passion and a depth of feeling that touches this Louisianian's soul. Few understand like you do how the Big Easy's layered. Your story captures one of those foggy, below sea level layers.

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  17. Anne : It's never too late to hear from a friend. Thanks for the kind words.Jules : I'm glad you liked my story. It means a lot.Anthony : New Orleans certainly is fun to write about. Thanks for dropping by and enjoying my story.Kittie : That I managed to touch a fellow Louisianian's heart means I did something right in my tale. Thank you for liking it enough to comment.Olivia : Wow. Your own prose has a lyrical poetry to it. You make me want to read my story all over again, seeing it through your eyes. Thanks.Christi : You make me smile with your kind words. Thank you.

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  18. Really liked the descriptive world-building that you had, especially taking recent history and your own experiences with the floods. I really want to know more about the New Orleans that you’ve created!

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