I know why the willows weep, and if you come here you're mine to keep.

Kenny Valley didn't know why those trees had droopy branches until he had entered a grove full of them. What could be so scary about sad-looking trees? he had once thought. He found out why the hard way.

That dusky night in the midst of April of 1996, Kenny and Amanda, his girlfriend, were making out on a sliding board on the playground of Weeping Willows Park. It was somewhere in south Jersey, and some called it the depressed twin of the Pine Barrens, which was supposed to house the infamous New Jersey Devil. About the size of a golf course, Weeping Willows Park was only safe where the sad-looking trees didn't stand—even at night.

There were signs posted in front of the forest that clearly read:


and people rarely entered. Kenny was one of those that listened to all signs—he was very cautious and proactive. If more brown-haired and brown-eyed teenaged boys were like him, his kind would make up more of the world's populace.

Amanda was allowing Kenny to slip his fingers in her panties when a dull sob filled the shady April dusk.

"What was that?" she inquired. Her vivid auburn eyes were the size of saucers.

"Huh?" Kenny said. His tongue was at work on her neck, barely noticing what she uttered. It was unlikely for a timid guy like him to participate in risky escapades such as getting laid on a playground at night, awaiting anyone to catch him and his sexual partner "doing what comes natural" (as his drunken father had once said) at anytime. But it was Amanda's saccharine scent that had him entranced.

"I heard something."


"Can't you hear, Ken? I said I heard something."

The sob grew a speck louder, and Kenny's skin vibrated like a La-Z-Boy. He was always mindful of his surroundings, always ready to act on impulse from impending danger.

"It sounds like somebody's crying," she inferred.

Kenny's hormones had shut down entirely. The sob was coming from their right—where the weeping willows miserably stood, somehow frowning at them. He rose from Amanda's bosom and frowned back at the forest. Never did he realize the glum aura surrounding weeping willows until then. Moreover, the whole forest was blacker than it was green, which made Kenny's stomach turn a little.

Amanda stood with him in her tight denim jeans and her sky blue t-shirt. Kenny just couldn't keep his gaze off of her breast, those juicy and bouncy jugs. While his eyes were reveling over the mammary spectacle, Amanda's gaze was securing itself on the willows. He hoped that she hadn't gathered ideas about going in. It wasn't that she was more valiant that he was; he thought it best to be safe than sorry. Why go somewhere you didn't have to go?

The sob persevered. Amanda began to wander towards the willows.

"What the hell are you doing?" Kenny asked.

"I'm trying to see who's crying," she replied. "Come on."

Kenny jogged to the steel four-foot sign with the green letters, looked at her with a frank face, and put his hands next to the sign as if it was on display at a wax museum. She cackled, rolled her eyes, and kept walking.

"I see the friggin sign," she exclaimed. Her back was turned, which filled Kenny's mind with ideas pertaining to her buttocks. "But don't you hear that? Somebody could be in trouble or something. We have to help."

We don't need to help, Kenny thought. Who does she think she is? Wonder Woman or something like that?

But he tagged along after her anyway.

Before they knew it, they were in the forest. After about twenty paces inward (Kenny was annoyed by all of the branches that fell in their path), they were in a small open field. Their sight could only reach as far as streak of moonlight that ran through the willows would allow; and, besides the hanging trees and the calf-deep grass, the only thing growing there was fungus. Mauve mushrooms, which were so massive they could easily hold a family of six with a dog and as tall as NBA stars, were everywhere. A rancid stench filled the field, and Kenny thought of a large flower in a record book that smelled of rotten meat.

The sob sounded uncomfortably close when a faint shadow outlined in front of the mushroom closest to them. Amanda went to walk towards it, but Kenny put an arm out in front of her.

"Why are you going to the danger?" he questioned. "You don't have to prove to the whole world that you have super-heroine powers."

She ignored him and called out, "Hello? Is anyone there?"

What they weren't aware of was that they were already in danger.

Two figures about Amanda's height were swishing through the high grass. The first halted in front of the moonbeam, the other stepped into it, and Amanda's jaw crashed like a kamikaze airplane. Kenny turned around—then his jaw crashed. The first figure was a teenaged boy who was naked from the waist up withred hair, freckles, and no arms. His shoulders were squirting blood in all directions, and his intense turquoise eyes were in sockets that had blackness all around them.

The second figure was tall and hearty man with dazzling lime eyes costumed in a black gardening hat, a loose black turtleneck sweater, and silky tan khakis. Jet-black hair hung to his earlobes, and an ominous and oversize grin (which revealed all thirty-two teeth) hung below his pencil-pointed proboscis.

"I know why the willows weep, and if you come here you're mine to keep," the man sang with melody. In his off-white face was the ice pick of terror that kept chipping at Kenny's heart. The man was carrying two severed arms in his hands until he dropped them to his glossy shoes; blood stained the grass.

"You can call me Periculum," he uttered as he came closer inside the moonlight.

Just as Kenny rotated his waist to dash (dangerdangerdangerdanger), a thick emerald vine spat out of Periculum's arid palm and bound itself around Amanda's ankle (who was frozen solid from dread beforehand). The man tugged the vine and Amanda landed in his arms with blinding speed. Kenny received the message and paused like a fighter in a video game. Reluctantly, he locked eyes with his girlfriend's captor.

"You are not pondering of escape, are you?" Periculum smoothly asked. "Take a look at Mitch here." The armless teen was still wailing in that eerie way that Kenny never heard before. "He tried to leave Weeping Willows without my consent, and now he doesn't have the arms to move those sinking branches out of his way next time. Now Kenneth—you wouldn't want anything thing unspeakable to happen to Mandy here, do you?"

The man was correct; Kenny didn't want anything unspeakable to happen to her (how did he know our names?), but his legs and feet hadn't been concerned about her in the slightest bit. The exit of the forest was a huge magnet, and his body was a scared piece of scrap metal.

"P-Please," he stuttered, "Mr. Periculum, sir! Please! Don't hurt her! Oh man, what did she do?"

"You don't have to worry about me hurting her—" Amanda struggled and screamed with all her might despite the man's inescapable grip."—but she is mine now, and so are you, Kenny."

Periculum put that horrid smirk on his face again and used his athletic arms to snap Amanda's jerking neck. Her head dangled feebly on her shoulders for a few seconds while Kenny stung his throat with screaming; blood streamed out her nose and onto her upper lip. As Kenny glanced at her lifeless russet eyes, Periculum elevated her corpse by her blue shirt and flung her in back of him; her body resembled a torn doll as she soared like a punted football in the night.

"Mitch," Periculum said serenely, "make sure that brown-haired faggot doesn't leave Weeping Willows, will ya?"

Kenny darted for his life. As he speared through trees, he heard Periculum's demonic laugh and Mitch's sob behind him. He ran and ran, crying like a newborn infant. Finally he was out of the forest, but he didn't stop there—he ran across the playground he once thought was a closed bedroom all the way home to his own bedroom.

I know why the willows weep, and if you come here you're mine to keep.

That ghastly tune rang like a thousand telephones in Kenny's head ever since, eating away at his consciousness and his sleep. He occasionally rode by those melancholic trees and tears fell out of his eyes, the cries and moans and wails haunting his ears. Everyday after that night, Kenny was reminded why those sorrowful willows wept.