Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pepe Must Die


All right, here's the set up.

Kelli Dunlap and I had only gotten back from an incredible trip to NECON a few hours before. We were sitting on the porch reading random twitters and having a little pow wow as that was her last night before flying back home.

As we were sitting there, we heard noises close to my barn and heard something pulling on the raspberry bushes. A flash of white and it disappeared. I ran behind my barn and listened, heard more rustling in the bushes and I clapped my hands a few times.

This is obviously a sound that Pepe does not like because he came barreling around the barn, tail raised high, prepared to use his ass strength to obliterate me.

I'm not too proud to say that I screamed like a school girl and cussed like a dock worker as I ran back to the porch.

Kelli, my wife Jen and I shared a giggle and they both noted they didn't know I could run that fast. Neither did I.

** side bar:
Later on, Jen went to bed and Kelli and I watched a truck pull into the cemetery next door. An old man got out, leaving the truck's headlights on, and walked to a headstone. Moments later a young boy of around ten years old got out too and they talked. The man put something on top of one of the headstones, then they both got back in the truck and left.

This left our muses freaking out with many questions, so we of course grabbed a flashlight and went next door to see what the hell that was all about. We explored for a bit and talked about dead priests and some freaky spots (told ya Kelli, didn't I?) in the cemetery and wandered back to the barn.

No sooner than Kelli had spoken a few sentences about a mausoleum on the far corner of the cemetery then we heard rustling in the bushes behind us.

It was then that I witnessed the patented Dunlap levitation trick. Somehow she was beside me talking one moment, then in a split second, levitated completely behind me, grabbed my shoulders and was using me as a human shield.

This maneuver does not bode well for my future if she and I are ever in a hostage situation together and has thus been duly noted.

At this point, we didn't waste time getting back to the house.

Last night was largely uneventful, but tonight, after the kids were in bed, Jen and I were outside on the porch talking. It was dark and in the shadow line of our porch light, I saw a small patch of white by the kids swingset.

This was less than ten feet away from us.

Pepe... is NOT respecting the circle.

Okay... now let me paint a picture for you.

Me in the dark with a small flashlight and a pistol I haven't shot in roughly seven years trying to shoot a moving target that could make me stink enough to knock a buzzard off a shit cart.

I came around the side of the barn with the flashlight and saw him there.

He looked at me.

I looked at him.

I drew.

I fired.

And emptied the entire clip into the dirt as he danced like Michael Jackson into the field.

At this point I realized I'd broken the cardinal rule... always.. ALWAYS have a spare clip on you.

I ran back to get my spare clip and by the time I got back, he'd hauled his stinky ass to the woods at the far side of the cemetery, safely out of distance.

He has made himself a nice home behind the barn. It's dry from the rain and he has a good close supply of berries and grubs to eat.

But Pepe must die.

I cannot have this.

Pepe has not respected the circle.

Stay tuned. Hilarity will ensue.

Monday, July 21, 2008

This week on The Funk of Skunk

I was going to write a NECON report tonight and talk about meeting the many incredible people there, the really bad food, the amazing restaurant that we ate at and me kicking ass in foosball.

But since I got back, the wildlife around my house has gone insane. The doe is snorting like a mini-steam train in the cornfield next door. The Junebugs look like flying Volkswagens. There is a huge pile of bat dung in my garage since Fester has taken residence there for a summer home, and apparently the groundhog gave up the hole behind my barn and subleased it to a Skunk who has decided he's comfortable enough with the lay of the land to use my back porch as a toilet.

I'll tell the entire tale of this and then follow with NECON, but right now my legs are trembling with the prospect of getting sprayed with Eau d' Pepe Le Pew, my wife's heel is punctured and bleeding and I've decided to throw in the towel. Tomorrow will be better and I will continue then.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Real Life with a Twist

''Horror is an unknown actress, perhaps the girl next door, cowering in a cabin with a knife in her hands we know she'll never be able to use.''
- Stephen King

The Strangers, Liv Tyler:
''Why are you doing this to us?'' she whispers.
To which the woman in the doll-face mask responds: ''Because you were home.''
- -
And from two amazing screenplays by Kevin Andrew Walker:
8mm, The Machine talking to Detective Welles
"What did you expect? A monster? You want to know why I do this? Daddy didn't beat me. Mommy didn't neglect me. I do it because I like to do it."
- -
Se7en, Detective Somerset, Detective Mills, and Police Captain talking..
What about the trace on his bank account
and the guns? There must be something to
connect him with a past.

So far it's all dead ends. No credit
history. No employment history. His bank
account's only five years old and it
started as cash. We're even trying to
trace his furniture, but for now all we
know is he's independently wealth, well
educated and totally insane. We may never
know how he got that way.

Because he is John Doe, by choice.

- -

There's an excellent article by Stephen King in this week's Entertainment Weekly (thanks for the heads up, John) about horror and what it really is, and why Hollywood Studio Suits should put the crack pipe down and get back to the nuts and bolts of what scares the shit out of people.

You can check it out by clicking here

But I've been thinking about it a lot lately myself and the things that have made that odd little tingle go up my spine. Not just in movies, but in real life - because that's the basis of things that work in horror books and movies.

It's real life with just a tiny little twist... looking at reality with a pair of shades on. When I was in Philadelphia going to college and for a good while after I graduated, I used to clip out newspaper clippings of bad crimes or oddball stories.

I've got one about some guy in Milwaukee that police arrested on charges of cannibalism and "as yet unconfirmed necrophilia." Some swell guy named Dahmer.

The things that I've seen that have unnerved me?

When I lived in Philadelphia in front of my apartment building.

A four inch piece of leather belt from some guy on a bicycle that was run off the street into a plate glass window. The blood was washed off the street but somehow the cops and the clean-up crew forgot that little piece of sliced belt.


One of the first homeless people I saw in Philly; some girl, looking all of maybe fifteen, sixteen at the most. Her face was a little slack and you could tell mentally she wasn't quite together. Her face was dirty and she held a flannel blanket tightly at her side as if it was life itself. The expression she held was one of immense confusion and she looked about as lost as anyone I'd ever seen. It was the expression you see in Emergency Rooms at three in the morning when someone has just been told their husband or child is dead. That look of not knowing what to do next.. not now... not ever again.

I slipped her a few bucks here and there for the next few weeks - always on the same street corner. Sometimes she was awake, others she was sleeping near the steam grate. And then, suddenly, she was gone and I never saw her again. I often wonder what happened to her.

If that happened now, I'd most likely try to help her.. steer her somewhere so she could be taken care of. But back then, I was a young stupid 19 year old living in the largest city he'd ever been in before.

I often wonder what happened to her and worse, how she got there in the first place.

- -

On my honeymoon, my wife and I drove back through alligator alley and up into Georgia on our return trip from Florida. I didn't realize that major routes on Rand and McNally maps sometimes turned into dirt roads in Georgia. I also didn't realize that many homes in that region are built from nailed together warehouse skids, their bottom edges gradients of rich red Georgia clay.

I don't think - even while traveling through the gypsytowns of West Virginia - that I've ever been as sketched out while on a trip. I had a healthy fear - a legit one I believe - that if our car broke down, my long-haired self would have been in some dire jeopardy.

In the city, gangstas will shoot your ass.

In the sticks, hillbillies will turn you into the family pet.

- -

The summer after I got out of seventh grade, my parents decided to move to Pennsylvania from Maryland. Like most of my friend's parents, they were hard working blue collar stock, and moving to the cheaper land prices of Pennsylvania meant they'd be buying their first house.

To say it was a fixer-upper would be putting it mildly. But my mother saw opportunity. My father saw a lot of busy weekends with a power saw and a 16 oz carpenter's hammer.

The property was just shy of three acres if I remember correctly, and beside the main house that we were going to live in, there was another house, a medium sized work shop/garage, and two small mobile homes.

There was a man there by the name of Jack Lease and he was insane. I've got to go back through my blog archives, but I'm pretty sure I may have mentioned him before and the pranks of my mother while cleaning up Jack's utter messes. The remnants that he left behind... to imply that they were the rantings of a very disturbed mind would be a huge understatement. It was like reading the journals of Satan with a hangover. There were very logical statements mixed with absolutely ridiculous sentences. Ramblings with a list of names with large angry underlines with the words "These can be disposed of" beneath them.

50 Gallon oil drums dragged into the trailers. A small campfire circle of cut off telephone poles. Canned tomatoes, stewed vegetables. Dirty forks and steak knives with odd stains on them. Correspondence from strange companies. A few nudie magazines and piles upon piles upon piles of dirty clothes. Jack had no legal right to be there. He was a squatter. Came upon the place - abandoned - one day, and decided it might be a nice place to live. He was known to ride around the property on a lawn mower with a pair of overalls and a wool Elmer Fudd hat.

Crazy. Absolutely bugfuck crazy.

But I remember thinking what in the hell was wrong with this guy? What happened in his life to make him like this? Was he born like that or did some tragedy happen? Was he in a war? Post-war stress? A little Agent Orange cocktail turn his mind into silly putty?

This unknown, this person who I'd seen but didn't know. This unstable frame of mind freaked me out. At least I knew where vampires and werewolves stood. There were rules man... silver bullets and holy water... full moon, sleep in a coffin. They were predictable.

Not this guy. He'd as soon mow a lawn for you as do a little Ginsu magic and put you in some canning jars for a long cold winter.

After he left and we moved in, I'd see him from time to time in town. He'd see my grandfather drive in to pick up feed from the grain mill or else I'd be riding my bike and see him walking around. He'd look. And I knew he remembered me.

Worse than vampires or werewolves. Worse than that queen bitch Alien dripping acid blood. Worse than Freddy Krueger messing with my dreams or
the serial killer wearing a pale white William Shatner mask wanting to snuggle up to Jamie Lee Curtis...

Jack... was real life with a twist.

And that made him freak me out more than anything Hollywood could pump out.

So.. what does horror mean to you?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tattoos and Dead Men update

Okay... as it turns out, it was just two high school kids getting stoned and playing stinky finger.

I told them to beat feat if they didn't want the cops to bust their ass because the bars just let out and they patrol the cemetery. They thanked me profusely and didn't waste any time driving their Subaru the hell out of there.

But never mind all that... it gave me a hell of an idea.

Welcome to the fucked up beautiful way a writer's mind works.


Tattoos and Dead Men

It's late as I write this... well, to be honest, sort of average for me. It's 12:45 and of course I'm still up. This year, I'm doing the exact same thing I did last year at this time... I had a glass of wine and went out in the cemetery earlier to watch the fireworks go off on all surrounding sides of the hillside I live on. Those of you who know me, know that the hillside I speak of happens to be a cemetery. It's peaceful there and I've walked there countless times in the dead of night. Aside from a close call with a skunk and a near hit-and-run with a pissed off doe, I've never felt threatened there.

But I just got back from walking around moments ago. While I was walking - speaking out dialogue to myself for a story I'm working on; not at all uncommon for me - I saw headlights pull into the north side of the cemetery. Thinking it may be a cop wondering what sort of freak would be walking around a cemetery this time of night, I sidestepped and went among the graves themselves to disappear.

The car pulled in and cut its lights and after a few moments, I saw a thin LED flashlight bobbing around, going row to row. Searching.

I hid behind a mausoleum, sipping wine and watching the entire time. There were two figures there walking around, talking quietly with each other, though I couldn't make out any of the words.

After a few minutes, I felt they were getting too close and I skirted along the ridgeline of trees and made my way back home.

And all the time, my muse was kicking into overdrive.

Thinking about what would make someone go into a cemetery this time of night to search for something. What would be that important?

I also thought about how long a tattoo would survive on a dead man's skin.

A tattoo of a map that would lead someone to a shitload of dirty money.

And once that map was dug up again... would there be two people getting back in the car... or would the grave hold the bodies of two people instead?


Hope you're all enjoying your Holiday weekend.