Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guest Writer: Salvatore Buttaci


The call came at midnight. We were certain of the time because, almost in unison, we lifted up our bowed heads to the wooden bird stepping out the mechanical door of Mother’s clock, cuckooing the twelfth hour.

All around the dining room table six of us held hands in near darkness. Only a small incense candle burned, its flickering flame stretching human shadows to the high cathedral ceiling.

Just as the clock door slammed shut on the cuckoo, Madam Shasta’s timid, tremulous voice revved into a strong baritone.

“Oh, my God! It’s Robert!” said Mother, quite recently, Father’s widow. We recognized it too. We had heard it since childhood. Heard it till a month ago when he collapsed and died.

“Where are you?” We had heard Mother ask him that same question down through the years. “Robert, where are you?” and Father would toss out another Middle-East archaeological dig, and then as she berated him for his never being home, wept like a spoiled child, Father would hang up the phone. Now, through the Gypsy medium, Father was calling again, this time from beyond the grave.

Father had devoted his entire life to disproving Christ’s divinity. As an archaeologist he excavated his way through Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Cana, even to the shores of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. “When I find that preacher’s bones,” he had said more than occasionally, “I will wave them in the face of the whole world!”

Now the call had come. The moment of truth. Madam Shasta puffed up her ample chest, reminiscent of proud Father during one of his rantings, then exhaled a vociferous growl that caused all perspiring hands to shake loose of the séance circle. The connection, however, remained intact.

“I was wrong,” we heard Father say in between the snarls and howls and gruntings of the beasts now echoing in the room.

The candlelight illuminated Mother’s beaming face. “There is a Heaven!” she said, clasping her hands in seeming prayer.

Then the snarling beast spoke to Father in a human voice. “Move along. You had your say.”

“Robert! Robert!” Mother cried out, but like in days of old, Father did not respond.

Madam Shasta clutched her red-scarfed throat like a woman choking on fire. Her tongue lolled out the side of her open mouth, then coughed her lungs clear of brimstone ash. When at last she spoke, it was her own accented voice consoling Mother. “Oh, yes, I can assure you, Mrs. Carr, there is a Heaven.”

© Salvatore Buttaci 2010

Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer who writes everyday. His collection of 164 short-fiction stories, Flashing My Shorts, is available from or from

FLASHING MY SHORTS (by Salvatore Buttaci)


  1. Ahh! Very nicely twist. Good work!

  2. Short and very noir -- just the way I like it.
    And of course, I am so happy for Mother.

  3. Sal, this is you at your finest! Excellent job!

  4. Sal, I bet you have a million of these treasures stored away in your brain just waiting to pop out.

  5. Wherever I go, the name Robert haunts me. And here it is again. How the hell did you know that, Salvatore Buttaci? Now I am worried but also, entertained.

  6. Well done, Sal! Spooky!

  7. Thank you all for reading my story and leaving a comment. There is nothing like praise to keep a writer spinning yarns.

  8. D'you know - I'll probably meet him one day ...
    Great read, Sal

  9. I've read this several times, and each time I'm caught up in the experience of how real it feels. Not a great believer in seances and that mystical stuff, though I enjoy reading the genre, here Sal pulls me right in to have a care about Mrs. Carr and her husband, who although deceased, appears very much alive and eating crow. One of the best.

  10. Sal, you are a compelling storyteller. You built the suspense to quite a twist at the end.

  11. I love Sal's short fiction. Had the great honor to write a cover blurb for his new collection, Flashing My Shorts.


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