Trying to stay out of it didn’t work.

My father was in prison when I was born, and my mother eventually got shot by god-knows-which-one outside a Wal-Mart in Norman. My dad was killed in prison about eight years ago. My grandparents didn’t want me because they had this—probably correct—idea that I was leverage to whoever it was trying to disappear that day. Court ordered them, and that’s where you got that massive shooting at the courthouse in Woodward which ultimately led to the now-infamous “Woodward Incident” which made Waco look like a Tupperware party. Despite what you may have heard, that whole thing wasn’t a “lone wolf” incident at all, but ultimately the result of my grandparents murder. Madame Musket’s men busted through the door and unceremoniously gunned them down. When I got off the bus that day and saw the door cracked and saw that red slithering across the cream-colored carpet from a distance, I took a guess and ran away. I’ll give myself this one: I was a really smart kid.

It turns out that ghosts are not omniscient. I’ve been able to stay on the run as long as I have because ghosts still need to track people the same as we do. It’s actually worse for them because they have to go through an intermediary and then incentivize—or threaten—said intermediary to continue working with them until the end. I’ve always rolled my eyes at that thing you see in movies where a ghost is able to follow their target haunt to the ends of the earth. I mean it’s interesting if that’s the whole point, like in that movie a few years back “It Follows”. I really liked that movie. It might seem odd that I spend so much time wrapped up in horror fiction and film, and I could give the classic excuse and say “it’s research” with a reasonable amount of justification actually. I don’t think that’s the truth though. I think that the truth is that it’s the only way I’m able to connect with any of my family anymore. I know that’s kind of fucked, and I’m not going to waste time explaining the sick curiosity. I’ll just leave it at the fact that when you grow up with evil, you soak it in. I’ve got about an hour left on this earth, so I need to prioritize this message for whoever comes and sweeps this gross little apartment. That’s if they find it, which is a long shot that depends a lot on response time.

The Seadog and Madame Musket saga started over two pounds of sugar about 300 years ago. To be fair, sugar was king back then from everything I read, but there was a hell of a lot more than two pounds of it lying around. If it had been say eight shiploads of it, then I might be able to attach the around 25,000 death toll attached to it to something that vaguely made sense even if utterly disgusting. Pirates back then didn’t do what they did in the movies where they bounced around on islands and dug up chests full of gold. Pirates captured ships and sold them, but more than anything back then they took good cargo. The free traders in any given port in the Caribbean or Spain would gladly buy sugar and other high-profit delicacies regardless of who it came from or how sinister their eye patch looked. It was a time in human history seriously lacking in certificates of authenticity.

The specific details are pretty majorly boring. Ask Seadog’s group—my family—and they’ll say that Madame Musket, true to her name, shot him dead and he took the first revenge. Ask their family and they’ll say that Seadog deftly deflected the shot, or ducked, or that he just drove his sword through her quicker than she could raise her gun. Yes, any given idiot from either “family” will tell you whatever version of this story fits their mood or their paranoia level just right there and then. The curse of course being that this chain of revenge is, near as I can tell, infinite. I remember a guy at this circus I once worked for, major conspiracy nut, but knew at least a couple of things about economics. Through all his bullshit that summer, he did manage to teach me about the concept of exponential growth, or as he called it “the guiding force of evil”. I think he might have actually been onto something there: when the ghost have to continuously go through intermediaries and hitmen and find creative ways of getting them paid and their very contact results in even more ghosts, well that’s what you got, ain’t it? “Exponential growth”.

There have been “breaks” in this cycle, but it always comes back to a flashpoint, each one as I can tell it worse than the last. The last cycle before the Woodward Incident? That would be the good ol’ Texas City Disaster. Industrial accident my ass, and that one actually involved ships, which was unusual as this has been almost strictly a landlubber conflict for over one hundred years now. The only thing that’s remained consistent is the bloodlines. There are plenty of people involved in these killings outside the family realm, don’t get me wrong. Timothy McVeigh was hired by Madame Musket when she ran out of options, and that little piece of white trash probably doesn’t even give a second thought to his divorced parents. I’m blessed and cursed with being a true Seadog boy. Blessed because I can say that at least it’s not my fault, cursed because I’m stuck in it, know the story completely, and I know that I can’t change a damn thing. It’s only going to get worse.

I guess I was kind of at the end point of one of those breaks. Eventually people try to run from the ghosts and live something that they could call a “normal life”, and my parents tried to do that I guess, but they too met the fate of most of us in the end. When one of the ghosts from the last act of violence comes along, they basically wheedle at you. They talk and talk and talk and simply do not shut up. They follow you into work. They follow you into the fucking toilet. They wait until just about when you go to sleep at night and then screech at you and scare the shit out of you. They might even go a week leaving you alone, and that’s even worse. The entire week you’ll be looking over your shoulder, dreading opening a kitchen cabinet for coffee, but it seems they’ve gone. And just when you think you’re done, that they’ve given up on you and let you free, there they are all over again. Like that resurfaced hiccup after you’ve held your breath for a solid two minutes and slowly let it out erupting from your throat and shattering that little marble of hope you had. “You’re not free, boy. You’ll never be free until you scar your soul for me”.

When the ghosts inevitably reappear, you do have an option. You can run…again. The ghosts can’t move faster than a dead sprint, and like I said before, they need outside help to track you. I ran from my grandparent’s house and was satisfied that if the police couldn’t find me—and I saw myself on mil cartons and Wal Mart pin-up boards as far north as the Dakotas—then nobody ever would. I’ve never killed for them and I’m not going to. I’ve worked on the road here and there and now I’m in Alaska reeking of fish I pack into cans and reading old paperbacks in my time off because I really don’t want to use the internet and take the risk. In the end it didn’t matter, and I wish I did know how to use the internet because it might make this spread a bit further. I keep up with the latest news through Leslie and Jake, two other runaways I encountered not too long after I ran away from Woodward. We write one letter, one from each of us to other two every six months, always with changed names as I’ve done here. It’s the only lifeline I have, and the extent of my involvement. I suspect Jake might be the reason I’m sitting here now, but I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. There’s good reason that Leslie might have caved under pressure as well. Either way I don’t wish them any ill will. I won’t put them at risk by discussing this further though, on the off chance that they’re still active and alright.

That it was my dad who found me, I guess I’m not surprised by. It’s kind of been odd hearing from for the past week or two though. Torturing me the same as he did everyone else. First two days, I thought maybe I could ignore it, even if I knew better. There must be something to being one of the bloodline and carrying out the act of revenge that grants something above and beyond being able to move on, but I don’t know what that might be. I’m too tired to speculate on it either. It just seems that ghosts, at least when it comes to the killings, try to hire their own as much as humanly possible. I kind of feel like I’m outside that though. I mean the blood seems to have some power for the ones haunting us, but my dad gave in and killed god-knows-who for my great grandfather, so far as it was told to me. I’ve never known him, so as curious as I’ve always been he’s just another case study like I’ve read about or was told to by my grandparents. As far as I can mentally be, I’ve made myself an outsider. The grandparents taught the bulk of what I do, disguising it as family Bible study. They played at being fundamentalist Pentecostals as an excuse to hole up and not talk to anybody, but that only worked for so long. They had a great run of it though; I mean not only were they were on a target list, but they were left to be hired out to take blood themselves. Living a full life in this family, or even getting close to that is a very rare accomplishment.

I’ve only got one choice left. It’s the choice I have to not give whatever started this what it wants. It might not even work. I don’t know how suicides play into this, but I haven’t heard of a suicide ghost having a revenge target, and I don’t even wish ill on anybody that’s done anything. I just know I’m not going to kill for my dad.

We all give in in some way, eventually.

Selective Focus Photography of Miniature Ship on Table

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