Denise Marks was driving approximately fifty-eight miles per hour down the road. She was going to meet her best friend, Alicia, whom attended a college in New Orleans, Louisiana. Denise attended a university in Charleston, South Carolina and had an internship near by her school. Denise was majoring in Writing and for her final project she had to write a horror screenplay. Denise could write anything but, horror and science fiction just weren’t genres she cared to dabble in. Since Denise felt the stress becoming an enormous weight, she decided to take the weekend off and spend it with her best friend. Despite her internship, Denise was still a broke college student and couldn’t afford to fly. This resulted into Denise having to drive to New Orleans. Denise was driving through Georgia when suddenly her phone lost service.
“Dang it.” Denise hit her wheel.
None the less, Denise carried on down the road and disconnected her aux cord. She turned the radio on and snapped her free hand to the beat of Outkast’s ‘ATLiens’. Pretty soon Denise arrived to a crossroad. She couldn’t remember if this was apart of her directions or not but it was clear she became lost. Denise wiped her eyes when she thought she saw a figure direct her to the right side of the cross roads. And then another dark figure seemed to direct her towards the same passage way. Denise put her left signal on and prepared to turn left onto the concrete path but, something just came over her. Denise turned right even though her left signal was on. Even though the right passage way was a dirt road, Denise saw big and bright city lights. Denise wondered how one path was concrete and the other was a dirt road. None the less, she continued on.
Denise had been driving for an hour and a half and still hadn’t reached the big bright lights nor any turns to turn off on. She would have turned around but, the road seemed to have caved in and she only had enough room for her car to keep forward. Denise went to change the radio but absolutely no gospel station would catch the air waves. She wouldn’t admit it out loud to anyone but, Denise was shaky and a bit scared. Finally, Denise reached a road where she could turn off. Denise wasted no time turning off and came to a road filled with gravel. Denise didn’t press brakes or do any motion to stop the car. Unwillingly, Denise’s car cut off.
“What the hell man?” she mumbled.
Denise got out and checked her tires. They were all good. She popped her hood next. Nothing seemed out of place, even though all she knew was how to put oil in. Denise got back in her car and checked her phone. Still no service. Denise closed her eyes and silently prayed her car would start. When she opened her eyes, she saw a black crow sitting on a tree branch eating the head of a snake. But that’s not what spooked Denise. It was the fact that the bird was staring right into her brown eyes. Denise started her car and everything seemed to be normal. The car started to move. Denise wasn’t pressing the gas. She slammed her foot on the brakes. Her brakes wasn’t working. Denise tried to open her door once she saw the car quickly moving towards the lake. The doors wouldn’t open. The windows wouldn’t bust either when Denise wrapped her hand in her cardigan and tried to bust the window.
Denise’s car crashed into the lake and she went through the windshield. Her head was bleeding and she was being dragged down quickly to the bottom of the lake. The bright city lights she once saw driving, were approaching quickly as she neared the bottom of the lake. Denise’s body lost consciousness but her spirit traveled toward the bright city lights and landed in SugahVille. SugahVille was a small town that housed many poor ethnic groups in the early 1900’s. It was a town built off love, strength, pride, and worship. And because of those things, that’s why the town failed. It went from a city of paradise to something like the city of Sodom. And only two men caused the destruction of that whole town.
“And I’ll see ya’ bright and early Sunday mo’rning David. I hear pastor pose’ to blow the roof off with his message. Tell the Missus I asked ‘bout her.” Mrs. Peterson smiled.
The July sun beat down on the dark skin older woman. Sweat trickled down the older lady’s forehead, due to the store being as hot inside as it was outside. The wooden door was open for air to come in but, it was no good. The only job the screen door had was keeping flies out. And it wasn’t doing for very good job thus far. Mrs. Peterson waved as she walked out.
David smiled and waved but, mentally he wondered how Mr. Peterson handled Mrs. Peterson. Mrs. Peterson was a very heavy woman and was almost twice the size of Mr. Peterson. Now David understood why Mr. Peterson went to work, home, gave his whole check to Mrs. Peterson to put up, and only stayed out with the fellows for an hour and a half. Mrs. Peterson played no games about her family and home life. Mr. Peterson wore the pants, but Mrs. Peterson was the boss.
David owned the conventional store in SugahVille. He was also the mayor since he helped build up SugahVille. The people thought he was the most fit since he had helped established divine law of order for SugahVille as well. David was married to Sarah and they shared a daughter, Mary. A girl walked in the store that David had never seen.
“Can I help ya’?” David asked.
“Where am I?” the girl questioned.
“SugahVille, Georgia.” David explained.
The girl looked over herself and then around the store. David wasn’t sure if something was wrong with the girl, but he walked around the counter and up to her.
“Is it something wrong Miss.?”
“What year is it?”
“Is ya’ okay Darlin’? It’s 1927 in SugahVille, Georgia and everywhere else in the states.”
David was going to ask another question but, something caught his eye. It was a man on a horse so shiny, the stallion looked to be gold. The man riding the horse had his jet black hair waved all over and his light skin tone didn’t even tan in the bright sun. He had pearly white teeth that he flashed in his grin.
“Lawd, all mighty. Look at that high yellow man. Great day in the mow’ning he sure look good. Who ya’ reckin’ he coming to see?” Betty Mae whispered to Fannie.
“Yes, Lord. Betty Mae you might can’t see but, you did good that time. My first two husbands was high red…and crazy.” Fannie replied.
The two elder women sat at David’s store everyday gossiping about whatever under the Georgia sun. The man pulled his horse to David’s store and sitting behind him on the horse was a woman. She was tall and had long black curly hair going down her back. Her dress was modest but still left her cleavage for anyone’s imagination. She was very beautiful.
“Ya’ reckin’ that’s his wife or lover?” Betty Mae asked Fannie.
“My associate, assistant, anything I need her to be pertaining to my business. No disrespectful harm ladies. What I meant was, she works with me and I am a record recorder. This here,” the man pointed at the woman, “is Hunee.”
“And your name suh’?” Betty Mae asked.
“Fannie, let’s get hell from here. These two high yellows carry bad temptations. We ain’t got to go home, but to hell with this here.”
The two elder women got their belongings and hurriedly left David’s store porch, and down the steps.
“Well, Walter, nice to meet ya’. What can I do fore’ a big time record recorder like ya’self?”
“It’s more like what can I do for you.”
David was like an open book to Walter. Walter was a man who knew everyone’s desires and pleasures. He just needed permission to come into your life and take over.
“What do ya’ mean?” David questioned.
“I’m just a old fiend passing through, hoping to make somebody’s dream true.”
“You got a slick silver tongue young man. Sounds like you can sell water to a fish, and honey to a bee.”
“Well,” Walter laughed, “let’s start with your poison. I can provide it.”
“Oh no, I don’t have any.”
“Drink?” Walter offered.
“Smoke?” Walter raised his eyebrow.
“Bad lungs as a baby.” David explained.
David thought for a quick moment. And Walter had caught that.
“God’s gift to the world and love em’ but, I’m married with a daughter.”
Walter was cut off by the harmonizing sound coming from a harmonica. Walter saw emotions run through David’s eyes. Jealousy and anger.
“Excuse me,” David lightly smiled. David turned around scolded the group of young men that were playing checkers and listening to music being made.
“Jimmy Lee, take that harmonica and play it else where. I done told you that a million times. Nobody want to hear that fuss. And I don’t want it on my stoop today, tomorrow, or never.” David fussed. “And you best be leaving Mary alone after church too.”
“Don’t like my music, fine. But Mr. Marshall, I do like your daughter. Miss. Mary is a very smart and kind young lady. And Mrs. Sarah done approved for me to come to dinner Sunday.” Jimmy Lee replied.
“Well, it’s for certain I know two things. One, you ain’t coming to dinner Sunday and two, you better be unliking Mary. Mary ain’t gonna’ waste no time with a no count having musician like yourself. Ain’t got a pot to pee in, nor a winda’ to throw it out of. Never mind what my wife say, this is what I say.” David walked away leaving Jimmy Lee heartbroken.
Walter had figured David’s angle. The man had a poison alright.
“Sorry ‘bout my hospitality.” David, again, excused himself.
“No problem. Tell ya’ what, how about dinner tonight and finishing up this conversation? I’ve got to find a boarding house near by for Hunee and I.”
“None sense. Naturally, we done exchanged names and ain’t strangers no more. You’re my neighbor and I’m inviting my neighbor to my house for a nice and hot home cook meal. Your assistant too.” David said, pointing to Hunee.
“We’re there. And very much obliged.” Walter said, mounting the horse where Hunee was still stationed.
David smiled because he thought he gained some friends. Walter smirked because he just caught a victim. The girl who didn’t know the year nor the place had also vanished.
Dinner was over at 7:30 that night and David couldn’t have been happier. Sarah, his wife, hadn’t stopped nagging him about the feeling she caught from Walter and Hunee. Hunee was sitting on the porch rocking in the rocking chair David made. David made sure Mary was in her bedroom and sleep before confronting Sarah about her invitation to Jimmy Lee to Sunday’s dinner. Sarah noted her liking for Jimmy Lee as a match for Mary. However, David’s word was law. Jimmy Lee wasn’t coming over for Sunday dinner.
“Dog-on-it Sarah, if the boy had to come over then why did it have to be Sunday when you cooking my roast? You know how I feel about my roast. And that Jimmy Lee ain’t worth having some of my roast.” David explained, before walking out to the porch where Hunee and Walter were.
Sarah told David to take Hunee with Walter outside because she wouldn’t stand for that woman to be anywhere near her kitchen. Walter and David were talking on the other side of the porch man to man. Walter was smoking a cigar, while David nursed a glass of Sarah’s ice tea.
“You’ve got an hellva’ woman David. That Sarah is something sent straight from above.”
David was sure about that but, Sarah had a temper. She was patient and very level headed but, it was certain things that ticked her off. She didn’t mind visitors but, Walter and Hunee weren’t any company Sarah wanted.
“Oh, she’s something.”
Walter laughed and continued.
“That daughter of yours too. Mary. She takes right after her Momma.”
“Lucky for them both.” David nodded his head.
“So, have you always wanted to be domestic?” Walter questioned.
“Now I love my family and you pose’ to take care of your family by the sweat of your eyebrow. And I do that and take care this town. I don’t think it’s nothing domestic about that.”
“Touché David. No harm meant. It’s just, you are taking care of everyone else and I wonder who is taking care of David? What are David’s dreams? I know you hate music.” Walter laughed.
“Actually, no, I love music and passionate about it. But that Jimmy Lee just ticks my clock. The boys good but…he is a cocky sucker.”
“So you do like music?” Walter laughed.
“Love it. Never been good at it though. But how I wished I was. Before owning the store and being mayor of SugahVille, it was my dream and desire to be a blues singer.” David dreamily said.
“Tonight is your lucky night. I’m willing to make that true.”
“Oh no, I don’t chase that dream anymore Walter. Gave all that up to do what I do now.”
“I applaud you David. Because no one in SugahVille would do the same for you, as you did for them. Respectfully, may I say neither would Mary nor Sarah. It’s not to late to look out for you and your dreams. I’ll give you a hit record and make your name last through generations. In return I will need anything I ask for from you, if you just shake my hand and give your word. Just trust me.”
Up close David took a long good stare at Walter. As Walter rode in SugahVille, he looked untouchable. But now, up close, in the dawn of night coming he didn’t. During the night, Walter seemed to have aged rapidly. He didn’t look to tall as he did earlier either. His wrinkled face didn’t drip in sweat. This was the hottest SugahVille had ever been and still no sweat dripped from Walter’s old pores. His face now seemed like he carried thousands of years in only a few hours. What the big question was however, how wasn’t Walter sweating. He had to be used to this kind of burning heat.
David knew he should have consulted Sarah but, Walter was right. He was making sacrifices daily and no one else did. He had to look out for himself. But the good was on one shoulder and the bad was stationed on the other. Walter sensed this, and smiled.
“Think about it. If you all will have me, I’ll be back tomorrow for dinner.”
“Like hell.” Sarah mumbled, from the kitchen.
David nodded and Walter and Hunee hitched their horse. While traveling to their next destination, Walter looked back at Hunee and smiled.
“Sweetheart, why don’t you start convincing David into a partnership with me. I know he’ll be happy to talk to you. And I’ll be happy to talk to his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Mary.” Walter smiled.
“Understood.” Hunee nodded.
Three and a half weeks. That’s all it took for David to be convinced by Hunee. Three and a half weeks was all it took for David to cheat on Sarah with Hunee. Three and a half weeks was all it took against Sarah’s wishes, for David to shake Walter’s hand. Contracts and all that jazz wasn’t necessary. David had verbally gave himself to Walter’s demands when he agreed to Walter’s terms. Three and a half weeks was all it took for Walter to start taking from David.
Walter had a series of things he wanted and the first, he asked for was David to take a drink of alcohol with him. To celebrate their partnership. The next day, he asked David to smoke a cigarette and cigar with him to discuss what would happen in their partnership. The day after that, Walter asked David for a penny. Then he asked for a dime. Next, Walter asked for a quarter. It didn’t stop there. Walter, each day needed something new. A dollar, three dollars, five dollars, ten dollars, twenty dollars, fifty dollars, and one hundred dollars. Each day, the price increased. David didn’t have this kind of money, Sarah didn’t have this kind of money, nor anyone David knew. More time passed.
“This business takes money David.” Walter explained.
“But it’s money I don’t have.”
“Of course you do. Listen David, I’m just the middle man here and listen, I’m not even making money myself. Tell you what, how about giving me the store? That should cover the money trouble a while.” Walter explained.
David’s store meant a lot to him. It was the heart of SugahVille. It was how David took care of his family.
“It’s just a small bump in our road on the way to paradise David.” Walter said. “Remember your dream. Don’t give up on it.”
David gave Walter the key.
“The store is yours.”
Walter raised prices in the store and hardly no one could afford anything. He taxed packages that came in the mail, and there was no credit given anymore. When David asked Walter for the store back, Walter said no.
“You can’t go back on your word. I haven’t went back on my word and told Sarah about you and Hunee. Plus, you already signed it over to me. Remember it’s only a small sacrifice for your dream, and to help the people of SugahVille. You’ll be the hero. They will serve you one day.”
Sarah was furious but, David assured her this was best. Walter asked for more things and David granted it to him. So much that, David and his family barely had a home. Almost everything in it, Walter took.
“If you want me to save your family David, I’ll need something. Apart from my daily fee. Now, it’s not my fault you can’t handle your finances nor assets any better David. So, I can only feel so sorry for you. Hey, Hunee and I have only been here two months and still we maintain. To keep you in shelter and food in your family’s stomach. I’ll need Mary’s hand in marriage. She seems to be a well rounded girl with the attention of every suitor in SugahVille. Now it may not be much I can do for Sarah and you, but at least your Mary will be taken care of. I’ll see that Sarah and you are surviving though.” Walter smiled.
When David told Sarah, Sarah immediately disapproved. Once again, David granted Walter wish. Mary wed to Walter. Mary went from being happy everyday, to crying everyday. Walter still collected something from his father-in-law, David, everyday.
The people of SugahVille demanded a private meeting with their mayor and excluded Hunee and Walter, saying they were long term visitors.
“You ain’t nothing to worry about. Haven’t I, David, slayed any ‘Walter’s’ that came our way? Any problems we have had have been taken care of by me. Don’t worry about SugahVille, Walter, or Hunee.” David assured.
“But we ain’t seen ya’ in a month of Sunday’s in church to talk to ya’, and the store is so expensive. And that be our lively hood.” Mrs. Peterson explained.
Everyone nodded and agreed. David just shook his head and assured the people of SugahVille they had nothing to worry about.
It was the next day and what Walter asked for shocked David. David had given up everything he loved and still he had no record nor was a star. That’s why he couldn’t understand why Walter would ask for something like this. Walter asked for David’s wife. He asked for David’s wife, Sarah, to serve him. David couldn’t believe Walter’s request and the way he was treating his daughter, Mary. Mary cried daily about her unhappy marriage to Walter. Walter was very unfaithful through his marriage to Mary. Mary was so depressed until she stayed in her bedroom looking at the pealing white wall. All she did was cry and no one could make her come out of the state she was in. David told Walter no, he couldn’t grant this.
“Thing is, in this arrangement David you can’t say no. If you do then I’m afraid our business ends here and I can’t return anything.” Walter said, turning away.
“But I would hate for Sarah to find out about you and Hunee, David.” Walter smirked, turning around.
In light of that, Sarah was Walter’s servant. She cooked and cleaned for Walter’s household and did whatever he asked at the store. Walter lusted after Sarah, but Sarah was a married and faithful woman. Walter didn’t care though. He kept his promise and wouldn’t enter Sarah’s life unless she invited him in. The next day Walter’s greed grew, if to David seemed impossible. But again, David was proved wrong.
“I got a plan for SugahVille. It could be built up into one of the biggest cities in the States. And don’t cha’ know that here, SugahVille could be the folk blues music capital? In fact, I’m already turning the back storage room in the store into a place to cut the records. Hell, maybe a place for the radio. And you David, you could be the first to do it. To make this happen, I’m gonna’ need something. I’m gonna’ need two things actually. I need your position as mayor over SugahVille, and I need that gold pocket watch.” Walter smiled.
“I’ve gotta’ draw the line. Now this is it, Walter. You got my money, wife, daughter, store, my land, my house, my animals, my-”
“Well David, our business is concluded then if you can’t follow my request.” Walter said, walking away.
Three days passed by and Jimmy Lee was a star. He had records everywhere and people sung his songs all over. No one, especially David, had seen or heard from Hunee, Walter, nor Jimmy Lee. But David’s jealously was at an all time high. He bashed Jimmy Lee but, Jimmy Lee had become successful. Mary was still in her state of just crying and looking at the pealing white wall. Sarah didn’t smile anymore and was depressed. But David didn’t see this. He wanted Walter to come back and make him bigger than Jimmy Lee. And so, when Walter arrived back, David handed his treasured authentic gold pocket watch and position of mayor to Walter. The gold pocket watch was a gift of appreciation from the people of SugahVille, Sarah, and Mary. Everyone chipped in to buy it for David.
The day after that, Walter asked David for two more things. David had nothing else to give. Everything that meant something to him was gone. Everything he once owned was now all Walter’s.
“I want your soul and word to be mine and you do as I say. You spread my message through your music. Just like Jimmy Lee had been doing.”
“And I’ll be bigger than Jimmy Lee?”
“The biggest.” Walter agreed.
To Walter, it seemed silly that David, thirty-three, was jealous of a nineteen year old Jimmy Lee. But Walter didn’t care as long as David gave him what he wanted.
“Okay.” David agreed. “What happened to ole’ Jimmy Lee? He ain’t never came back ‘round here.” David asked.
“He was found dead after he didn’t want to continue singing my songs and spreading my message. He gave me everything he had and had no family, so he just roaming around by the grave yard next to the crossroads.” Walter said, leaving.
David was confused because, Walter just said Jimmy Lee was dead. How could it be, David wondered?
Later that night Walter came and got David. Walter and David moved some old instruments David owned into Walter’s horse and wagon. Walter then took them to Jimmy Lee’s old shack by the SugahVille grave yard that was by the crossroads. Walter’s light toned complexion seemed to turn a midnight dark complexion almost instantly. He was unrecognizable. Walter tuned David’s guitar, harmonica, and piano.
While David was recording Walter songs about hell hounds on his heels, Walter sold SugahVille to himself and all the evil wonders. His first order was tearing down the church. The people couldn’t do anything about it. Mrs. Peterson fell dead when she saw this happen. Her body shriveled up and people were distraught. The people who didn’t want to move stayed and fought for SugahVille to remain their town. They wanted to over throw Walter as mayor but, they didn’t have the physical will power. Walter turned SugahVille into a town of broken promises and sin. It was a place of gambling, sex, illegal alcohol, and much more corrupt and evil things.
Walter lied to David. He only had one popular song. A song about hell hounds coming to collect souls on the heels of men. David gave up everything and everyone he loved. He did things he swore he wouldn’t do, just to have his dream achieved. He now seen Walter as a liar and tricked him out of everything. Against his wishes, Walter forced David to have a drink of alcohol with him. Walter got David drunk and David went walking down a back road, when he started to feel funny. Unknowingly to David, Walter poisoned David’s alcohol. David staggered around before falling dead onto the dirt road. David’s spirit couldn’t be laid to rest until he found out who murdered him. He was in what the elder people of SugahVille called the in between. David’s spirit roamed all over before he found that Walter had murdered him and cheated him in their deal.
But it was to late when David found out. It was nothing he could do. He was damned. His, family, him, and the people of SugahVille. SugahVille was now a thriving town of sin under a big man made lake.
A man made lake was built not far from the crossroads that would effect many lives passing through what use to be SugahVille. Many people even after the year 1927, people like Denise Marks, continued to be haunted and never found. Graves were dug up and people were killed for not giving up their land. SugahVille was buried deep at the very surface of the lake. And all the bright city lights that looked so pretty and appealing were actually lost souls waiting to trap a new soul that came across the lake. It was the lake of death. Spirits roamed the town that was buried at the bottom. Souls were haunted and never laid to rest. Because of David’s greed, which he lied and told himself was selflessness. He turned a town of love and laughter, into a damned city of lost souls. It was nothing anyone could do in SugahVille. Meanwhile, Hunee and Walter’s damned and lost souls of their own, roamed to the next town for the immoral years that came, searching for their next victims.
Away from the haunted lake and crossroads, there was a special news report. News of a missing young woman named Denise Marks was lost and reported missing. Alicia was scared and searched desperately for Denise. She had made up her mind, she would trace every last step she knew Denise made from message updates. But Alicia had no idea her best friend was dead and her spirit was roaming a haunted dead ghost town, located in a damned lake. The lost young woman in David’s store who didn’t know the time or place was Denise Marks. But Denise had all the time in the world to start getting acquainted with all the spirits of the infamously damned SugahVille and the lake of the cursed.