Joseph A. Pinto

#barflypoet & author of dark fiction


Welcome to Coffin Hop 2013!

While racking my brain trying to decide what to do for Coffin Hop this year, I decided – what the hell, I may as well give away three prizes. Besides the twisted path of prose I offer below, I’m going to pick three winners from those who comment on this post and offer each an e-copy of an anthology I was recently published in. Three lucky winners, three great books, one new home for each anthology. I’ll be picking who gets what, so if by chance you have already won one of these from me, just speak up and an exchange will be made.

anthologies

And not to leave you wanting, here is a bit of depravity to whet your appetite for what these books may hold.  I offer you ‘RUN,’ for those who may not be familiar with my work on Pen of the Damned.


RUN

A run; a run no different from any other morning that had come before. The sun groped with lazy fingers the mounds littering the reed-choked hills. Above the slickened grass, the evening gasped its last breath in wispy tendrils of fog. Boots pounded broken road; dew kicked up against sodden pants. A run; a run with the dirt-laden shovel cradled in his arms. The mounds forgotten at his back.

But on this morning the old-timer sat. Waiting.

He froze, keen to the presence of another set of eyes, sweat in long strands down his cheeks. Tongue darted corner to corner along his mouth, tasting, swallowing. He enjoyed the tang of his toil. Eventually he cocked his head. Saw the old-timer slumped within a rocker, set up on a sunken porch just off the lane. He stared the old-timer down. The old-timer stared back.

“Ayup,” old-timer grimaced, lips pinched by unseen fingers.

Gravel crunched beneath boots; slowly the shovel lowered from his arms. “What are you doing out here?” he uttered, stoic in the middle of the backwoods road.

Old-timer: “Naw much. Jus joyin anotha morn.”

Chest heaved despite his calm; he took a step closer to the old-timer’s ruined cabin. He had run past it a dozen times. Always seemed deserted. He regretted that he never checked. Never bothered to force his way inside. “Too chilly for your bones, don’t you think? A fellow your age should keep inside. Stay warm.”

“Wutha-man says gonna warm soon nuff. I believe in wut tha wutha-man says. Don’t ya?”

He looked around. Chewed at the bottom of his lip until it oozed coppery satisfaction. From the road: “I don’t believe in much at all.”

Old-timer: “Nope, I s’pose ya don’t. I s’pose ya don’t look tha type ta believe in anythin tha wutha-man might have ta say. Ya look a different type ta me.”

“And what type might that be?” The blade of the shovel tapped his boot; fingers squeezed upon its hilt.

Old-timer laughed; a warbled thing like a frog caught in death throes. “Type tha takes mattas into his own hans.”

He propped the shovel against his side, studied his hands. Nails chewed and rimmed with dirt, calloused palms caked black. Intrigued, he looked back up. “Never seen you before.”

“Were ya s’posed ta? Ya do nuthin but run. Run is all ya do.”

His eyes narrowed into slits. “So you’ve watched me.”

Old-timer: “Ayup. Lotsa times.”

He clutched the shovel again, scraped it along gravel in the road. “I enjoy my runs,” hissed through clenched teeth.

“Course ya do. Yer fit as a fiddle. I wus like tha once. Long time ago… long time.” Old-timer shook his head, jostling sparse white hair. “But things change afta long times go by, ayup.”

He stepped closer to the cabin’s decayed porch. “Time changes everything.” No bother taken to disguise the rattlesnake in his tone.

Old-timer, squinting: “Yer him, I’m sure ya are,” then swatted at ghosts circling his skull. “People been talkin bout ya ‘fore tha wutha-man comes on at night. Yer him, yessir ya are. Tha runner.”

Eyes drifted to his boots, laces awash in mud. “I told you, I enjoy my runs.”

Old-timer nodded, pleased. “Ayup, tha runner. Knew it was ya. Just knew all tha time. So tell me, runner, where ya runnin to?”

He stalked deliberately, leaning against the old-timer’s fence post, rotted and crooked as a hag’s nose. Shovel tap-tapped atop his boot. “I’m not running from a thing.”

“Nah, ya wasn’t hearin me. Ya wasn’t listenin careful nuff. Didn’t say ya was runnin from somethin. Asked what ya runnin to.

Doubt lit his eyes. He always had answers.

“Man runnin from somethin is a man in fear. Man runnin toward somethin is a man ta fear. Ayup.”

Tongue slithered inside his mouth, toyed with a pulpy strip caught between molars. He had eaten not too long before; suddenly the urge to eat again seized him. He licked at his lips. “You have something to fear, old man? Maybe something like me?”

Old-timer quipped: “Fear ya? Not t’all.”

He always had answers. Now he searched for one.

Old-timer jerked his head. “Lemme see em.”

“See what?”

“Yer hands, course.”

Hesitation. Eventually he raised one above the fence. Old-timer, eyes sparkling a shade below madness, rose from his creaky chair. Head crooked atop stooped shoulders, old-timer hobbled down the porch steps, across the front path, alongside the fence. “Ayup, tha runner alright.”

“I’m getting tired of this,” he hissed, the shovel slowly ascending above his head.

With deceptive speed, the old-timer sprang over the fence, seized his free hand. “Tha runnerrrrr…” he cooed.

They remained that way, runner and old-timer, hands interlocked like lost brothers now found, eyes fixed and steely. The runner blinked first, noticing the old-timer’s chewed nails, crusty black around the beds, grime etched into wrinkled skin. The shovel lowered.

Old-timer’s hands. So much like his own.

He always had answers. Always, his victims spoke to him. Now he had none.

“I wus fit like ya once. Long time ago… long time ago.”

He jerked his hand back, but old-timer would not let go.

He glanced over old-timer’s shoulder.

“Somethin ya should know. Somethin ya should learn right quick.”

He looked beyond old-timer’s cabin. Glimpsed what had been hidden from his sight for so many runs. Glimpsed for the first time the uneven rows, the shovels pitched crookedly into the dirt, marking each grave.

Mounds littered the hills, both new and old.

“Ya see, I wus tha runner long before ya came ta town, son,” old-timer sang quietly. “And I gots no fear of ya t’all.”

He broke the old-timer’s grasp; shovel clanged to the road. For the first time, the runner ran from something. Ran, boots stumbling across divots in the backwoods road, rising sun looming large in his frantic eyes. Ran from old-timer and his dirty, chewed nails. Ran from old-timer and all the ghosts that kept pace at his side.

“Wus a runner long ‘fore ya came ta town,” old-timer continued to sing. He turned and hobbled back atop his porch. Hobbled into his chair. Sat. Waited. He had plenty of time. Even more shovels. “Be tha runner long after yer gone. Ayup.”

~ Joseph A. Pinto

© Copyright 2013 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.

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54 thoughts on “Coffin Hop 2013, Giveaway & Prose

  1. Ooh…Creepy tale.
    It gave me chills up and down my spine.
    Great post and great contest Joseph!

    Happy Hopping
    – KimK

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Kim! 🙂 Thank you for visiting…and thank you, I so love knowing you got the heebie-jeebies up 8 down your back! 😛

  2. jaimiengle says:

    Very nice. And congrats on the three recent pubs! I also just pubbed in a Kevin Bufton anthology. He’s a great editor. Your work (as always) is beautifully written, even your most creepiest…

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Jaimie, you say the damnedest things to me! lol And thank you…my work has been waiting in the shadows…I have so much material that no one has read, simply because it’s hard to find a ‘proper match’ when it comes to markets…but patience will pay off. In the meantime, I’m appreciative you consider my writing as such. It seems (my writing) to achieve a certain sort of rhythm, even when I don’t try to do it lol

  3. AR Neal says:

    To quote the young’uns: that was da bomb, yo 😉
    I knew there was something about the old timer, just couldn’t put my finger on it…but to he THE runner? That’s rich! Keep ’em coming!!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      🙂 Thank you very much, AR. Perhaps I’ve infected your mind now with my style? I’ve many riches with which to indulge yourself – keep looking my material up on Pen of the Damned (because we do offer it free, after all), and surrender yourself… 🙂

  4. I’ve said it before when this piece ran on Pen of the Damned, and I’ll say it again. An excellent story, Joe. The tension, rythm, and tone are dead on the money. Superb! :}

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you very much, Nina!! 🙂 I’m proud of the fact that RUN is a punch to the gut for readers. And I’m very appreciative that you always take the time to read all my work 🙂

  5. zkullis says:

    Ah, sweet depravity. This story is fantastic. The switch in this story is what sends shivers of twisted delight down my spine.

    It’s great, ayup!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hey Zack 🙂 Thank you very much. I always love to get the zig when you think I’m zagging 😉

      1. zkullis says:

        You do a fantastic job of it. Great zig!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Jessica! Thank you very much 🙂 And happy hauntings to you 🙂

  6. afstewart says:

    Gave me shivers, very creepy. I loved it.

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you very much! Appreciate you taking the time to read RUN 🙂

  7. laughingwolf [tony hunt] says:

    old-timer’s like the old wolf… no need to chase, just wait til the other wears itself out, drops; wander over, then… for the coup de grace! 😉

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hi Tony! Great analogy. My father used to tell me: ‘don’t walk around thinking you’re a bad ass. There’s always someone bigger & badder out there.’ I never forgot his simple advice

  8. Vallan says:

    Great ending! I was afraid it would be his father or a Dread Pirates Roberts scenario–great that it kept me going to the very end. 🙂

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you very much! I’m happy you enjoyed RUN 🙂

  9. blazemcrob says:

    Great story, as all your stories are, my friend! Coffin Hop is way cool. Don’t forget to visit me on my website and at Angelic Knight Press. Win some great books!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you, big guy! I’m on it! 🙂

  10. Anne Michaud says:

    So come tomorrow morning, I’ll think of your spooky tale just before I start my run…

    Happy Hopping:)

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Yes, and if you hear something echoing your footfall, don’t turn around…

      Thank you for reading, Anne 🙂

  11. all look interesting, the covers are amazing… really looking forward to this coffinhop thing as I am new to it!!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you! And welcome! It takes a little getting used to, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time 🙂

  12. Alex Chase says:

    I loved this when I red it on Pen, and I love it here now. Very nicely done, Mr. Pinto!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you, Alex, much appreciated, as is your support, my friend! 🙂

  13. mari wells says:

    Oh, that was awesome. I think I read it over at Pen of the Damned but I was so pulled in. Chilling, to say the least. 😀

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thanks, Mari! Yes, this ‘RUN’ was posted on POTD back in January of this year. I posted it upon my own blog again for the benefit of the many Hoppers who may not be familiar with Pen or my own work. Thank you for taking the time to read again, and of course, your tireless support 🙂

  14. I enjoyed RUN, thanks for posting it. The ending was funny, I thought–black humor of course,

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hey James, thank you very much! I had a lot of fun writing RUN & I think it shows…yes, my twist ending…all written with a sinister smile across my face, a’yup 😉

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you for reading, Julie, and thank you always for your support 🙂

  15. cwlasart says:

    Yay! Free books! Happy Halloween, my friend!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      If it’s for free, it’s for me…er, I mean, you! lol Thank you, Happy Ghoulies to you as well 🙂

  16. Michelle Muto says:

    Super creepy! Thanks so much! Happy Halloween, Joe!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      🙂 And thank you, Michelle – I appreciate you stopping by!

  17. Lori Joyce Parker says:

    I love the “twisted path of prose.” You’ve got that wordy bug that pens magic!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      lol Thank you, Lori! I appreciate it – so happy I’ve ‘twisted’ you! lol

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you, Skye! 🙂

  18. Teresa Henson says:

    Enjoyed the story…glad I found you!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hey Teresa! That’s so nice of you to say! Thank you very much; I hope you stay for awhile 😉

  19. Hey, Joseph. Very creepy. Perfect for just such a season as this one.

    -Jimmy

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      James, thank you very much! I appreciate you taking the time to read & support 🙂

  20. Shadow Girl says:

    MENTAL WARD looks fab! Actually, now that I’m paying closer attention, all three look like must-haves. I’ve just been on an asylum kick lately, haha! (Maybe trying to stay out… )
    Horror-tica… nice word play!!
    I have Dark Side of the Womb queued – I need more time in my life to read!! So many words…

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Hey Becki 🙂 Yes, I know the feeling – if only I had an extra 3 hours per day (see, not being greedy lol), perhaps then I could make up on my own reading list, too lol
      I appreciate all the support you’ve shown me as of late, Becki 🙂

  21. Thanks for sharing RUN with us!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      And thank you for reading, Jolie! I hope all has been well with you 🙂

  22. Daydreamer says:

    Second time reading, but still loved it! Love your work! Hugs!

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you, my dear! You are very kind to me 🙂

  23. Lilith Rose says:

    Enjoyed…very much, thank you again for yet another delicious Halloween treat. Your stories give me chills…of the best kind.

    1. Joseph Pinto says:

      Thank you very much, Lilith 🙂 Your support for me is always appreciated, & the fact that my stories can elicit chills from your already undead state is magnificent! lmao

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