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american gothic redux: dead of night
by robert a. melos

American Gothic is an ongoing series of vignettes giving the reader a glimpse into the lives of the people in a small New Jersey town. Don't miss the earlier entries, as they all tie together.

Todd Benzinger filled his lungs with the cool evening air. Spring was almost over, as was high school. Just a few more weeks until he would be college bound, and Taft would be a faded memory to be denied once he went pro, he thought. No one knew of his plan to get out of his small town hell except for himself and Amber Krakowitz, and she only knew of it in the abstract.

He smiled to himself at the thought of the word abstract, and doubted Amber even knew its meaning. It didn’t matter to him what Amber knew as long as she understood they would go their separate ways once they split from Taft. A cheerleader, even one with a bodacious body like Amber’s, Todd reasoned with himself, was just too much baggage for a hot young stud on the fast track to the pros.

He drew in another deep breath but still felt as if he were being deprived of air. “What are we doing here?”

Amber pressed her back firmly against his chest, and drew his arms around her. “Isn’t it wild?”

“It’s a cemetery, and it’s creepy,” he said, copping a feel before withdrawing his arms from around her body.

Amber whirled around. “I think it’s hot. Don’t you find it exciting?”

“It’s a graveyard,” Todd replied, as if that should’ve been enough.

“Yeah, and it makes me hot. It makes me even hotter to know whose grave we’re on,” she whispered.

Todd looked down at the ground beneath his feet. He saw the small metal marker, but it was too dark to read. “Whose?”

Amber laughed. “This is Coach Richmond’s grave. Now doesn’t that turn you on?”

Todd scrunched his eyes closed tightly willing the image of Tom Richmond’s blood covered body from his mind. “Why would I be turned on by the thought of my dead basketball coach?”

Amber giggled and wrapped her arms around him. “Because he can’t interrupt us this time.”

Todd opened his eyes and a grin crept across his face. “Oh baby, that is sick.” His hands ran up and down her back as he press his lips to hers. Their kiss only broken by the wailing of a siren in the distance, Todd drew in a deep breath once again. “I’ll bet the old man never imagined anyone having sex on his grave.”

Amber slid down to the ground and pulled Todd with her. “The thought it makes me crazy,” she hissed. “Imagine how angry he would be if he could see us. He hated my seeing you, and distracting you from basketball. What a great way to get back at him.”

“Yeah,” Todd said, as Amber stripped off her sweater. “Old Richmond told me I should keep focused on basketball, but I knew what he was really saying was, ‘I should dump you.’”

“Well, he’s down there, and we’re up here.” Amber sat on top of Todd as he lay back. “Do you think he’s like a ghost watching us from somewhere?”

“I hope not,” Todd said, suddenly feeling as if he were being watched. “I’m not good at performing in front of a crowd.”

Amber laughed. “Just think of me as a free throw.”

Todd’s mind raced. In a few weeks he would be free, of Taft, Amber, and his father. “Yeah, a free throw,” he muttered.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


when good girls go bad
ap news the way i wish it could be
by robert a. melos
topic: writing
published: 12.8.04

a father, a son, a drink
american gothic redux chapter 17
by robert a. melos
topic: writing
published: 9.16.05


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