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Shady Lady Ghost Stories of (Mostly) New York and New Jersey
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Doris Lane

Murder in Greenwich Village: A Rafe and Masie Story

The street was very, very dark and very, very empty. Suddenly, Masie felt too alone and hustled out the Bedford Street end of the block. Looking behind her down the short block she had just left, she saw nobody, but felt someone was there in shadow. She could see the lights of busy Bleecker Street, where pedestrians were turning into Bedford, and her fears were calmed, but she wanted to know if she had imagined the whole thing.

Murder in Greenwich Village

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Anna's Rooftop: A Rafe and Masie Story

A short story set in 1970s Greenwich Village and Coney Island.

"Then one day, for some reason, she was restless, and the three green walls seemed to close in on her. In a decisive move, she turned her chair to face north and the Van Gogh apartment building with its many windows. For the first time, she considered how Anna's rooftop must appear to her neighbors; especially at night in lantern light, it was a tiny stage and every event on it an act in a small play. What dramas of the City had the Van Gogh witnessed on Anna's rooftop?"

(Excerpt from "Anna's Rooftop")

Short Story: Anna's Rooftop

Bayonne Bridge 1924-1932

I And My Annabel Lee

A short story of the Great Depression.

It is a beautiful bridge with the perfect shape of a rainbow. Whenever I can get away I like to walk out on that bridge to the middle of the span, and look down. It is always a free, happy moment just then, being high up there in the atmosphere, looking down at life on earth. There aren't that many cars in the world yet to make a disturbance and nobody can buy gasoline to run the ones that are here. The bridge can be quiet and perfectly empty for long stretches of time. I think myself alone at the top of the world. I wish my Mama could have come up with me just once.

Pop was a good provider as long as Mama lived. He had his drinks, but never missed a day's work. Mama would hear him singing his way home along the quarry path on his regular shortcut from the tavern. She'd get up out of bed dressed in her white gown, her long hair streaming to the backs of her knees. She'd open the back door and help him into the house. She'd sit him down in a straight-backed chair near the coal stove. She'd get down on her knees and take his shoes off for him. She'd rub his feet. He'd sing louder and louder. My Mama's name was Annabel Lee and so is mine. There was a poem he'd set to music in his mind and that's what he would sing.

It was many and many a year ago
In a kingdom by the sea
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee

She'd murmur, "Shhhh, Vail, you will wake the children."

He'd sing louder, "By the na-ame of Anna-bel Leeeeee!"

(Excerpt from: I And My Annabel Lee)

Short Story: I And My Annabel Lee


A short story: A young woman's meeting with the father she never knew in a New Jersey diner off the Garden State Parkway.

Themestream Journalist Winner for Fiction

The diner was shaped like an old railroad car. Behind the lunch counter the wall was paneled in diamond-shaped aluminum tiles in an intricate pattern that looked set by hand. The kick-wall beneath the counter was covered in the same aluminum tiles. The countertop and the tabletops were all the same tan color Formica worn soft looking. Men in work clothes sat along the counter on red leather stools with aluminum trim. The glassed-in entrance separated two sections of booths with seats and backs in the same red leather. A family took up the largest booth. That was it for clientele. Ruby studied the green paint on the walls and woodwork. It looked at least 50 years old, but somebody kept it clean.

A song Ruby didn't know started playing, "I was dancin' with my darlin'," and the whole place suddenly erupted in noise. Shouts of, "Oh, no, not again," and "Maryann, shut that thing!" "Ahhh, Cecil!" An old man at the counter hung his head, but it didn't stop the ribbing. Another man said surprisingly, "Cecil, don't mind these heartless ignoramuses who are lacking in romance of the soul." It was all good-natured enough, but Ruby felt sorry for the lonely old man, and imagined his lost love of long ago.

(From "The No-Truck Truck Stop")

The Devil And The Dancing Fool

Themestream Journalist Second Prize for Fiction


A short story in two parts based on the South Jersey legends, the Jersey Devil of the Pines Barrens and the ghost of Joe Mulliner, a Tory bandit hanged in the Revolution.

It is hard to know what makes the night so black here. The night is black as pitch here. They all are here, every night, black as pitch. Look up and the clouds racing across the moon are black. The green grasses at night are black. The water is not blue, but brown, the river the color of tea from the cedar and the iron ore. That river damn near never moves, you know. It is the slowest flowing river, the Mullica. You could float on your back for five months and go nowhere at-tall. The water is very close to the ground here, 17 trillion gallons of it, sitting just underneath the million acres of Jersey Pine Barrens. There are places one wrong step could drown a man in an ocean of tea water.

The trees are low here, stunted and dwarfed, but not too short to hang a man. The lonely sand roads wind their way through the forest of pygmy pine. These roads are forlorn and carpeted thick with pine needles. You should not be able to hear footsteps out there in the night atop all those soft pine needles, but you do. The screams that tear your heart out through your chest, you hear them, too.

(From "The Devil And The Dancing Fool")

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