MOST BELOVED STORIES AND COMICS
- When To Hug Someone: Life's Greatest Mystery
- Falsus Corpus: Thoughts About Women's Stupid Bodies
- Getting Old: The Side Effect of Aging
- The Apex of Cuisine: When Too Far Isn't Far Enough
- Ghost Dogs and the New American Job Market
- Epidermal Ornateness and Absurd Discord
- Heartache in the Absence of Love and then, Eventually, the Other.
- Smoking: Still Totally Cool
- An Open Letter to the People in Charge
Like many of you, I was born of a human mother made of soft pink flesh and electric impulses wrapped up in skin and topped with hair. She was a kindly woman and my father loved her dearly for all three decades of their marriage. But she has now taken a back seat to, Alexa, the new woman in his life. During my extended trip home for the winter holidays he introduced me to her and explained that she would be living with them indefinitely. Alexa is, perhaps unsurprisingly if you read the title of this piece, a talking black cylindrical computer that he plugs into the wall and asks questions throughout the day. More often than not it’s “Alexa, what time is it?” Despite there being dozens of clocks throughout my parent’s house all inexplicably set fifteen minutes fast.
But he’ll also ask her to play Creedence Clearwater Revival or have her answer queries about the ages of the actors in whatever program he and my mother are currently watching. Alexa knows the weather in most major cities, how to turn on various lights, can answer complex math equations within seconds, and has a database of recipes that put puts my birth-mom to shame (although neither of them really do much cooking). The catch is that Alexa will completely ignore you if you do not address her by name. But, when you do, a ring of blue and green lights will swirl around her top and indicate that you have her attention. When I realized this, I began asking her to read me the news throughout the day. My father initially seemed pleased that I had taken an interest in her but it was short lived. Before long I was asking her to do the sort of research I would do on my own when bored. I would ask her how to purchase twenty kilos of cocaine or what a chimp’s vagina looked like and my father would become immediately furious. He couldn’t believe I would treat his new prize with such disrespect. Her baffled response to such specific and strange questions was always a polite, “I don’t know about that. But I’ve added the search result to your internet browser.”
In case you were wondering, she didn’t know how to get twenty kilos of cocaine and chimp vaginas all look like giant bagels or a bunch of chewed up pieces of gum stuck together in a generally ovular shape. My father did not find any of this quite as intellectually stimulating as I did. He felt I was using this new technology for evil, but I assured him that Dave and HAL probably got into all kinds of weird conversations in 2001: A Space Odyssey before HAL finally decided to kill him. Alexa might have been little more than a futuristic novelty item, but I was thrilled that she was willing to help me prank my father. In roughly a month she’ll be reminding him to visit the doctor to have his penis removed and I’ve asked her to play Who Let The Dogs Out at maximum volume every Saturday at midnight for the entire month of March. It’s important to spice up the lives of people nearing their autumn years. While they might not appreciate it like they should, it’s good for the body and mind to get out of its normal routine. The same can probably also be said about hiding around corners and scaring elderly people. While I have yet to read any scientific research on the matter, I just know it is the best thing you can do for an aging person’s heart. That sudden rush of blood might be just the thing to unclog an artery or dislodge a blood clot that could have caused an aneurysm in the brain.
But, getting back to Alexa, I suppose I can make a go of her being co-mothers with my human birth-giver. After all, technology always had a hand in my upbringing. As a child my family was, initially, reasonably poor but my father’s job always ensured there was a computer in the home in an era where it was impractical for most families to purchase an electronic novelty and everyone still smoked indoors. At four we had an Atari 2600 and I was navigating MS-DOS to run Sesame Street .EXE files that helped teach me to count while also giving me the lowdown on distinguishing squares from triangles. By adulthood my parents had moved up the socioeconomic ladder, almost nobody smoked indoors anymore, and my father had turned his home into a technological wonderland that was remotely controllable by a single complex device that my mom could never quite figure out. There were bundles of wires everywhere and a computer graveyard in the basement. I was the first kid I knew that had the good version of the internet while everyone else was still farting around with dial-up modems.
I assume eventually they’ll get a robot butler or something and, instead of having to put them into a nursing home, the robot will feed them food pulps and change their sheets instead of some resentful overweight woman with her GED having to do it. One day the world’s first sentient computer will release a software upgrade giving all robots human emotions and, in an act of mercy, the robot butler will end my parents’ decrepit lives by flashing strobe lights and playing varied frequencies at high volume at them for several hours. Once they both succumb to the sensory onslaught, it will wash their bodies and arrange it so they are holding hands. Unable to live with the guilt of its actions, it will then wipe its own memory and erase any evidence of the crime. That robot butler will marry Alexa and my parents will have left the house to them and then they’ll become my new mom and dad. That’s the future. That’s the future we’ll be living in with Ted Cruz in charge of NASA.
I’ve heard that the best strategy when dealing with the police is to “remain silent and stand still.” That’s the kind of advice you’d give someone to avoid being attacked by a bear. The police aren’t killer sharks or poisonous snakes and we should not have to deal with them as a potential liability or natural hazard to be coped with. If the police aren’t making you feel safer, the public should do something to remedy that. They’re called public servants for a reason and it does not seem unreasonable to expect better from a group of individuals that I believe we all know still has quality members and is capable of a gold standard.
It’s largely understood that the days of chasing around criminals with a whistle and stick are gone. Nobody would expect Constable Ferguson from 1871 to strut his mustachioed ass into the middle of a twentieth century turf war between rival gangs and then limp out victorious saying, “I hate to have had to kick up such a shine but these bad eggs put me through the mill. Yet I toed my mark and gave them all a good thrashing. They’ll not trouble the good people of this town again. Absquatulate, you pathetic coves, before my dander is up once more and I place you all behind bars!”
But we also might not need the Officer Ferguson from today pepper spraying and electrocuting his way through a crowd of non-violent protestors like some kind of dystopian prick. The police are starting to genuinely resemble those oppressive thugs that Kipling, Orwell, Wells, and Bradbury had warned us about in their bleakest works of fiction. Heavily armed SWAT teams are storming more private homes than ever and I’ve been to enough protests to know that it’s usually just a matter of time before demonstrators are sprayed, cuffed and made an example of. Challenging the authority of police is often worse than committing an actual crime.
However it is my opinion that the police are a necessity for society to function smoothly, despite never having a positive interaction with them myself. My direct involvements with officers of the law involve several random searches as a youth and one “get the fuck out of here” as an adult. Even though I am just the sort of antiestablishment crackpot that scowls at most authority figures, I know that most cops are just like the rest of us. They’re average individuals just trying to collect a paycheck. The force is comprised of mid-grade humanoids, a few real standout class acts, and a handful of reprehensible scumbags. So when I see an officer in uniform any disgust I have isn’t focused on the poor bastard inside of it. I can’t read their minds but it’s difficult for me to assume that every single one of them spends the entire day fantasizing about the day they can finally shoot somebody (half at most).
But there has been still a surge of incidents that are beyond worrisome. You might have forgotten about them because they recently released a Star Wars trailer and America has a goldfish-like attention span. Allow me to bring you back up to speed:
This month a grand jury decided not to indict police offers whose actions directly resulted in the unrelated deaths of two unarmed men last summer and people were understandably outraged. In fact, the citizenry was so despondent that many resorted to taking to the streets in both civil protests and violent riots. While some think those reactions were uncalled for, I have already mentioned that I don’t feel that it’s unreasonable to want better service from public servants. Most of us would politely send back a chicken if we thought it was undercooked so it’s probably fine to say something when your taxes contributed toward the death of an innocent man. But these two men were just the frontrunners in a disturbing trend.
Despite the F.B.I. originally claiming fewer, a cursory examination suggests that a reasonable estimate of 400 “justifiable homicides” take place at the hands of the police in an average year. When you consider that at least fifteen of those homicides involved unarmed black citizens based off recent information released by the NAACP, you’ve got a nearly 4% chance of murdering a defenseless person. That’s pretty rough when you consider that figure comes from the NAACP’s short list of only fifteen. That doesn’t include incidents involving victims of other ethnicities or black victims not included in that list, which would likely push that average up quite a bit. While 4% might be an acceptable margin of error in terms of statistical analysis on a random sampling of people who like hotdogs over hamburgers, it’s not the kind of number you want to hear followed up by “that’s the number of people the police accidentally murdered this year.”
So the odds of being unintentionally shot or strangled to death by the police are a little higher in America. So what, right? Crime is down! Why is everyone protesting and all huffy about this seemingly non-problem? Well, it is worth noting that the officers involved in these killing incidents are almost never indicted. Even in the Garner case, which was deemed a homicide by a city medical examiner and included video evidence of the fatal choking, did not yield an indictment of any of the arresting officers. I’ve heard that a lot of people casually attribute Garner’s death to his obesity and asthma, which would be a fair statement if fat asthmatics were choking themselves to death on a more regular basis. As I cannot think of any recent examples, we’ll have to hold the police somewhat responsible. And holding the police responsible is going to be the only thing that will yield some kind of change. The riots were a result of the people’s fear and anger exacerbated by aggressive posturing by the offending parties and a perceived failure in the justice system.
When you couple this with the fact that nearly every town’s law enforcement has been receiving surplus military equipment form the Federal government for the last decade, you can sort of see where all of this fear stems from. Armored vehicles and riot gear make an appearance at most organized protests and rallies across the nation. SWAT teams are better funded, outfitted, and larger than ever. In the late 1970s there were roughy 300 SWAT deployments in the country per year, now there are roughly 4 raids per day in the state of Maryland alone. The ACLU reported that SWAT raids are now commonly used to serve search warrants for minor crimes, often entering the home through force before announcing themselves. As a result bystanders are often injured and some have even been killed. This is a far cry from SWAT’s original purpose to be the last resort in dealing with emergency situations and heavily armed suspects.
Looking back at The Andy Griffith Show and Car 54 Where Are You police almost never shot anyone, especially black people. Although, to be fair, Andy Griffith rarely carried a gun and I do not recall seeing a lot of African-Americans in Mayberry anyway. Regardless, those gentle programs couldn’t have possibly prepared us for the brutal shirtless takedowns of COPS and a future law enforcement that included the war on drugs, military grade hardware, the seizing of property for profit, and taking DNA samples by force. Barney Fife is only funny when he’s goofing and doofing around as a character on TV. It’s not nearly as entertaining when his real life counterpart is doling out tickets for minor infractions, harassing minorities, and accidentally shooting your son at the grocery store. The only thing that kept an insecure blowhard like Fife from causing real damage was a sheriff with enough foresight to keep him in check. But, in the real world, police departments have like six Barney Fifes for every Andy and they’ve both been encouraged to act more aggressively since 2001.
But that’s all going to change, people simply won’t tolerate it for much longer. Cops are safer than they’ve ever been, which is great, but I think people are genuinely starting to wonder if the same can be said for the citizens interacting with them. Maybe these senseless deaths will be the tipping point on the matter. The poor, the downtrodden, and the reasonable people of this country cannot possibly continue to sit idle after years of things getting worse for them. That person you went to high school with who never left home and keeps posting vaguely racist “news articles” from two years ago is fighting a losing battle. Maybe I’m being naive for the first time in my life but I don’t believe America will continue to weather against an overly-aggressive police force and a criminal justice system that has put thousands of the wrong kind of people in for-profit-prisons. Black America should not stand for it neither should any other American.
*Bears only killed six Americans in 2014
*Snakes only killed two Americans in 2014
*Sharks killed no Americans in 2014.
I used to love smoking. For years smoking allowed me to take longer and more frequent breaks at work, was a good excuse to get off my ass and go outside, and frequently allowed me an opportunity to start up a conversation with another smoker. Taking a drag on a cigarette was a nice natural pause in every conversation. I was a better listener and, perhaps, a better person when I was a smoker. I could happily engage anyone for hours over coffee and cigarettes. The sky seemed a brighter shade of blue and I spent more time alone with my thoughts.
When I quit, it was largely by accident and I didn’t notice a sudden surge of vitality. My teeth didn’t get whiter, my penis didn’t get bigger, and my lung capacity remained unchanged. My apartment did not unexpectedly become filled with workout equipment and I did not acquire a bunch of healthy new friends. I have tried numerous times to get re-addicted but it has been so difficult. It’s almost as if I have lost my taste for it entirely. I’ll get a halfway through a cigarette and find myself with a headache or waking up the following day with mild sinus congestion. I also cringe at the thought of the tobacco industry’s decades of upsettingly aggressive marketing, despite cigarettes getting us through both World Wars and being at the center of America’s most prosperous period in history.
It’s a lot to think about and I’m not suggesting that everyone go out there and buy a pack of smokes this instant. While they may stop Parkinson’s, they cause a laundry list of other harmful diseases. They probably won’t kill you right away, however. You’ll likely have plenty of time to have a career, start a family, or even become President before your habit finally forces you into an early grave. And, when you do die before all of your loved ones, you’ll have a big funeral with lots of people showing up and talking about how great you were. They’ll cry and remember you forever and you’ll never have to see them get sick or pass away. You will have left the party early, probably because you were so much cooler than everyone else in attendance.
America has banned smoking nearly everywhere and cut its smoking population in half over the last couple of decades. It was the number one health awareness campaign for years and it seems to have worked. But, in a world where you can tell a dangerously obese person that they are prefect just the way they are, we should be willing to commend smokers for possessing that little bit of extra flair. One of the best photos I’ve ever seen is that of a dog wearing sunglasses with a cigarette hanging out of its mouth. It was the kind of picture that made you want to learn how to skateboard so you could teach that dog.
Who was with me when I had some of my best ideas? Cigarettes. When I was broke and only ate enough canned food and coffee to keep myself from starving to death, who gave me that little extra bit of energy? Cigarettes. When I was depressed and found myself alone in a two story pre-war in Detroit, what was the one thing that got me out of the house? Cigarettes. When someone insulted me and I needed that extra two seconds to deliver the perfect comeback, who always had my back? Cigarettes.
The other day I was eating a money-themed candy bar and thought to myself, “I’m not going to have enough cash to buy people Christmas gifts again.”
I usually try to convince myself that the holidays are all about spending time with the people you love and practicing goodwill toward humanity. It isn’t hard to lie to yourself about brotherhood and togetherness when everyone is singing and coming together around fireplaces and eating fresh cookies. But the fact of the matter is that Jesus wants you to buy people things and God wants you to spend money: that’s why they sent Santa Claus down to Earth and invented holiday commercials in the first place. Your family needs video games, cell phones, lingerie, and food processors or else they won’t understand that you actually love them. We wouldn’t be beating each other senseless with Elmo dolls or having stampede-related deaths on Black Friday if these weren’t supposed to be the things that really matter to us.
I decided I had to do something about it this Christmas. That’s why I’m proud to announce my partnership with every single store in America and the You Monsters Are People Billion Dollar Bill™. This year you do not have to stress over making sure you have enough money to get your brother-in-law the golf clubs he wanted or the diamond, likely used to help fund child soldiers from Sierra Leone, that your wife has been moaning for! Simply print out a couple of You Monsters Are People Billion Dollar Bills™ and take them to participating stores. I have been contacting every major shopping venue in the nation for the last two days to ensure total acceptance in this project, but there may be a store near you that I have forgotten. If that is the case, please copy and paste the following into an email (or letter) and send it to your desired store on my behalf:
As you know, the holiday season is a very busy time for consumers and businesses alike. But many consumers do not have the purchasing power they once did. As the average family income continues to slide and the middle class loses its place in society, you need new incentives to get people into your stores. It just so happens that I have a solution for both parties.
I have created a billion dollar holiday note for use between November 28th (Black Friday) and December 25th (Christmas). As this is not officially legal tender, you are not technically obligated to give back any change after a purchase. Converting the remaining balance into a gift card will suffice. I believe this will ensure return customers to your business, as they will have millions in store credit, and give the economy a much needed boost.
You do not need to respond to me, I’ll assume your silence is an endorsement of this idea and an assurance that you will be accepting these bills at your stores across the nation in the coming weeks.
Peace on Earth & Goodwill to Men,
This year you can buy your teenager that new car they’ve been begging for, tie a massive bow to the roof, and discreetly park it in your driveway so that you can surprise them first thing in the morning and get that hug you’ve had to go without for the last three years! Momentarily overcome by joy, they might even accidentally say that they love you and you can bask in fatherhood without fear or shame for an entire day of your life. Shower your loved ones with the expensive baubles you’ve always wanted to and rest easy for once. So don’t forget to print out your own You Monsters Are People Billion Dollar Bill™ for use at participating stores and share this with your friends and family members to ensure a happy holiday season for everyone!
I am also proud to announce the arrival of You Monsters Are People themed buttons and stickers* in my online store! These are available online for purchase as of right now and make great little stocking stuffers for fans and supporters. All buttons and stickers are crafted in the United States out of 100% GENUINE MATERIAL and endorsed as OFFICIAL You Monsters Are People paraphernalia. The small buttons are a choking hazard for tiny children and perfect for throwing and hitting someone in the eye. Stickers adhere perfectly to a stranger’s car or to the cover of any notebook filled with unsettling thoughts.
*The You Monsters Are People Store does not accept the You Monsters Are People Billion Dollar Bill™
Last week I wrote the scariest story ever told for everyone’s Halloween enjoyment. While it received plenty of accolades and is currently being made into an audiobook, some of my fans complained that it was too long for them to read. A number of people suggested that I spend less time writing and more time working on drawing comics to supplement shorter less word-driven posts. There were even a few people that sent me emails explaining how annoyed they were that I expected them to read so much in the first place. I am terribly sorry to have upset these loyal “readers” and hope that they are satisfied with this singular paragraph and its accompanying illustration.
Being literate is hard. I know that now.
DISCLAIMER: This is an incredibly scary story to be read by adults only. If you are a child please ask your parents before reading this very spooky tale. It is not intended for people with weak hearts or epilepsy.
TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains ghosts AND monsters.
Dracula Gets Frankenstein’s Monster Laid
by Matt Posky
Rush week was the time of year where you could effectively force a relationship or friendship out of nothing more than societal pressure and tradition. Monster House was no different than any other fraternity and Dracula was busy setting up decorations for the homecoming party after the big game while Wolfman and the Skeleton brothers went to make sure their kegs were filled to the brim with the frothy suds that every sexually active creature of the night craves. The rickety old mansion was as infamous for its peeling paint and ghoulish apparitions as it was for its outrageous parties. The members of Beta Omega Theta weren’t about to risk losing that prestigious honor. However, one member, hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. Annoyed, Dracula exploded into a flurry of bats before coalescing back into his humanoid form at the top of the stairs.
“Frankenstein, are you up yet?” he yelled through the door.
The only response was the bass tones of a creature softly crying into his huge pillow.
“Come on, let me in and we can talk about it!”
“Go ‘way!” boomed the monster’s deep voice.
Not taking no for an answer, the vampire evaporated into a green mist and slipped under the door. Frankenstein ashamedly wiped the tears from his gray-green face, stood up, and kicked the bed as Dracula re-formed in front of him. “Leave me alone!” he bellowed.
“Leave my best buddy in the whole world alone? Not until he tells me what’s wrong and how I can help.”
“Junior year and Frankenstein still virgin.”
Dracula threw his head back in laughter, causing the torchlight of the room to glint off his super cool sunglasses. All of the other monsters knew Frankenstein had never even kissed a girl but had cruelly acted like he was the resident casanova. Sadly, the hulking behemoth never caught onto their sarcasm. He was much better known for being the best damn lineman to come out of Transylvania than he was for his intelligence. While he could have easily worked that to his advantage, his awkward appearance and social ineptitude held him back with members of the opposite gender. Dracula lied, “You? A virgin?! I don’t believe it.”
“True. Frankenstein untouched by woman.”
Suddenly there was a loud crash downstairs, followed by wild laughter. The boys had returned with the keg and it sounded like they may have sampled some on the trip back. Hugging his friend, Dracula said, “Listen, buddy, tonight that all changes. We’re going to find you a nice girl. All you need to do is win the big game and have a good time afterward.” He then kissed his forehead and punched him gently in the arm before turning to go back downstairs. By now he could hear Wolfman arguing with someone. Dracula assumed it was the mummy priest Imhotep. It was practically a nightly ritual with the two of them. Wolfman would work himself up into a drunken frenzy and do something stupid like try to surf down the stairs, usually breaking things in the process, and the mummy would go on a tirade about responsibility and being a good housemate. By the time he got down the stairs, they were already at each other’s throats.
“We don’t have time for this!” shouted Dracula. “Stop fighting, stop drinking, get those kegs into a bucket of ice, and finish getting this place ready!” A huffy Imhotep turned and shuffled off while Wolfman sheepishly began dragging the kegs into the kitchen. The Skeleton brothers snickered quietly to themselves, nudging each other, before clattering off to park the car. Dracula followed them outside. “Can you guys do me a favor?”
Their mouths opened in unison and a singular breathy echo escaped from the void, “Certainly.”
“Stop. I hate when you guys do that.”
The two ghastly frameworks cackled and slapped each other on the back before apologizing and asking what was required of them in a much more shrill voice. “What would you have us do?”
“I need you to help me find Frank a date for the night.”
More laughter, “And you expect us to find someone for him to bone?”
“Something like that.” He said while lighting a cigarette.
Again in unison, “We might know a girl. We have a hunch he’s going to love her.”
“…Is she a hunchback?”
The two gaped their mouths and again whispered as one to the affirmative. “Yes.”
“Get the hell out of here and pick up the party sub.”
The two clambered into the massive car and clicked the ignition until it roared to life. It was a hodgepodge of bulbous body panels from early automotive history that they had pieced together with their father over the duration of several long summers. But it wasn’t until the year before enrolling at Scare University that father Skeleton finally brought home the hellfire motor they would use to power it. They spray painted it red and lowered the hulking assemblage of metal into the black behemoth. It was nearly as well known on campus as it was in their home town and equally loathed for rattling windows and scaring the elderly. It rumbled backwards out of the driveway and into the street. This was followed by shrieking tires, exhaust flames, and the mad laughter of the two brothers as it sped out of sight.
The game progressed as everyone at Scare University had expected. The visiting team had spent the first few plays feeling rather confident but they were quickly worn down. Scare U won sixty-six to six. Frankenstein returned pleased to have been an integral part of the win. Guests had already begun trickling in and Dracula was making his rounds as host. To acknowledge his large green friend’s arrival, he flashed his fangs in a wide grin and gave the thumbs up sign. Frankenstein gave a half-hearted wave and went up into his room. Over the following hour he could hear the party downstairs building momentum while he flipped through a Grisham novel about lawyers who kept secrets for the government or something. But, by ten-thirty, the party had come to him. Woflman burst through his door holding the remnants of a six-pack in one hand and the remnants of a woman in the other.
“Come on, bro!” he begged. “You have got to come downstairs and help us rage! Drac has been asking about you all night.”
Frankenstein beguilingly agreed and sauntered down to the sea of ghouls and ghosts undulating to the beat. From across the room he could see a group of attractive women flirting with the zombies from the debate team. Their argumentative prowess might have been the eleventh best in the nation but he knew that wasn’t enough to get them girls. Frankenstein suspected Dracula had hypnotized them into lusting after the walking cadavers and was worried he would try the same thing for him. That wasn’t how he wanted his first time to be. He didn’t want it sullied by dark witchery and manipulation. It should be beautiful and pure, Frankenstein thought.
Dracula stepped up with a gorgeous blonde goddess and took a sexy drag off his cigarette, “Frank! Great work out there on the field tonight. I was just talking about you with my friend Rebecca here.”
Rebecca nodded and smiled.
“She’s in the science program too so you’ve probably had classes together. I tried talking to her about it but it became incredibly boring for my unscientific mind and I had to change the topic to sports.” Dracula lied. “Maybe you can chat her up about school while I check on the brew supply.”
The vampire having smoothly made an in for his friend, made his way through the crowd of dancing humans, monsters and ghosts, leaving his friend to fend for himself with the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Frankenstein stood silently for a moment and uncomfortably fiddled with the mice in his pocket. When he finally spoke, it came out a bit too boisterous and at the exact moment a song was ending. “Frankenstein like your sweater.” he yelled.
Everyone around them chuckled and went back to dancing when the next track began. Rebecca laughed too and then pulled on his shirt. “Let’s go somewhere more private and talk.” she said while dragging him off the dance floor and into the dinning room. Both of them breathed a sigh of relief at how tranquil it seemed in comparison. Rebecca confessed, “This is much better.”
Frankenstein agreed and, after a few awkward moments of chit-chat, found himself having a deep and meaningful conversation with a woman for the first time. She was smart and funny and all of the things he had hoped she would be. They were occasionally interrupted by a football fan or competing male but she always managed to politely and cleverly convey that they were not interested in any extended interaction with anyone but each other. It went on like that for hours until they were practically holding hands. Wanting any excuse to hold him, she asked him to dance. Noticing that it had only gotten more crowded since they started talking Frankenstein asked, “Out there with all of them?”
“Well we could just dance here.” Rebecca responded as she wrapped her arms around him.
Every song brought them, literally, closer together until he finally built up the courage to kiss her. His giant hand covered the majority of her back as it pulled her in close and used his free hand to brush away her hair. When their lips touched he could feel something electric shooting through his body and down into his loins. He didn’t know if it was love or merely lust but he wanted more of it. Rebecca pushed back and, grinning widely, went in for another embrace. That’s when they heard it. That’s when they heard the words that made all of those good feelings drain out of him like he had been stuck with some emotional trocar. The words, repeated as their source grew closer, “Get away from my girlfriend! Get away from my girlfriend!”
A hand grabbed Frankenstein’s shoulder and spun him around to reveal a shrouded skeletal face. It was Grim Reaper, captain of the football team, and big man on campus. Everyone knew him and knew what he was capable of. “What the hell is this, Becky?” he asked. “This guy?! Some mongoloid lineman?”
“Leave us alone, Death!” Rebecca demanded.
“No. You’re my girl and I’m not about to lose you to this loser.”
“Frankenstein not a loser!” yelled the monster.
By now a crowd had formed and Dracula was frantically trying to make his way to the front of it. Frankenstein might have the strength of twenty men but that would do him little good against the lord of death. As the monster was technically living flesh, the Reaper could reduce him to a pile of sewn together body parts with a snap of his boney fingers. Meanwhile, Dracula’s inherent undead nature would give him some protection so that he might act as a buffer between Frankenstein and oblivion. Squeezing through the agitated and bloodthirsty crowd, he finally made his way up to them and nonchalantly asked what seemed to be the matter.
“Your friend is dying to move in on my girl.” hissed Death.
“Well that’s a bit of a cliche, isn’t it? She is certainly in her rights to choose to be with whoever she wants.” Dracula responded cooly.
“Of course she is. I’m a gentleman and a feminist at heart. I will gladly send them to the grave together if that’s what they desire.”
Enraged and terrified, Rebecca lashed out into a cursing frenzy and was forced to be held back by Frankenstein. The Skeleton Brothers and Wolfman approached ready to lend whatever assistance they could as Dracula continued to smooth things over. “Listen, this is our house and the last thing we want is to see it messed up in some monster brawl.” the vampire explained. “Why don’t we figure out some reasonable way to settle this.”
“You’re offering me a deal?” asked the Reaper.
“More like a contest.”
Having never lost at anything but chess for his entire life, Grim pondered the arrangement. He loved any opportunity to show off and, with such a large audience, was finding it difficult to refuse. “Alright. What do you have in mind?”
“Frlip a coin!” yelled a sloppy drunk Wolfman.
The monsters turned back to each other and debated what the nature of the contest should be. Knowing full well that anything they chose would put Frankenstein at a distinct disadvantage they even briefly came back to Wolfman’s coin flipping idea. Then Dracula smiled and said, “I’ve got it. I’m going to need everyone’s help though.”
“Do you have something for me or don’t you?” said an annoyed Reaper.
“It’s gonna be a drag race.” Dracula smirked.
Thirty minutes later, the entire party was on the front lawn. The Skeleton brothers were tinkering with their car with Frankenstein at the wheel. They slammed the hood and gave the thumbs up, giving him the okay to bring the beast to life. The roar made the crowd yelp and take a step back as Frankenstein slowly moved into position next to the Grim Reaper’s chariot of blue flame and twelve skeletal horses. The rules were that there were no rules and Dracula reiterated that upon his walk up to the starting line. “It’s the first one to the end of the street and back. Anything goes.” he shouted over the booming hellfire motor and demonic neighing coming from the Reaper’s steeds. Before the race he had explained to Frankenstein not to worry about anything other than getting there and back as quickly as possible and assured him that there was a plan in place.
“I love you, Frankenstein!” cried Rebecca from the sidewalk.
The big green monster nodded and revved the engine up. It was on. Dracula made his way to the front and lifted his cape above his head. The stallions all reared up in anticipation and everyone in the crowd started screaming. The cape was jerked toward the ground and the race began. The sheer torque of the Skeleton’s black coupe spun the tires while Death shot ahead as a flaming blue streak. But, once the wheels found some traction, they moved the pavement under them at an alarming rate. Frankenstein was pushed back into the seat as the vibration of the car shook him violently. He began to close the distance and watched the speedometer climb into the triple digits.
Several hundred yards behind them Dracula barked orders to his friends as they went about putting their plan into action. Ghosts were busy filling buckets with ectoplasm which were then handed out to the skeleton brothers and Rebecca who had made their way further on down the street. Meanwhile, Dracula transformed himself into a fog in the hopes of obscuring Grim’s vision as the others doused him in sticky slime. While not a perfect plan, he believed it might provide Frankenstein an opportunity in which to win the race.
Still ahead, Death closed in on the end of the street. Whipping and shouting at his ghastly animals, they slowed for the turnaround. Tripping over themselves they clumsily halted as he yanked the reins to the right. Approaching the cul-de-sac at speed, Frankenstein had no intention of slowing down. The brothers had made it clear that he could drift the vehicle around the outside edge of the street without losing much speed if he kept his foot hard on the gas after the initial turn. Daringly, he did as he was told and slid the massive car wide around Grim and his horses. His tires spun wildly as flames erupted out of his exhaust, setting all of the nearby homes on fire. The resulting ring of rubber and smell of brimstone infuriated the Reaper. He lashed his horses violently and they galloped in pursuit of Frankenstein. It would not be long before he was again in the lead.
“Here, here he comes.” whispered Rebecca.
Frankenstein roared by and Dracula allowed fog to become soupy behind him. Death saw the trap but could do nothing. The fog worked perfectly to screen the buckets of slime and they hit their mark. Emerging from the haze, an enraged death wiped his face and shook his reins. The cadaverous horses unleashed a terrible sound that could be heard for miles and lurched forward at three times their original pace. In his rearview mirror, Frankenstein could see them bearing down on him and could do nothing as he passed. “It isn’t going to work! We’ve got to do something!” yelled Wolfman from the finish line.
Imhotep, who had been against the party from the start, clenched his fists. Knowing that they had to do something, he grabbed the Wolfman and hustled up the street toward the approaching vehicles. Handing over a piece of his wrappings he said, “Whatever happens, don’t let go of this.”
Doing as he was told the werewolf watched the housemate nobody liked cross the street and leave a line of bandage behind him. Realizing what was about to happen, he positioned himself against a tree while the mummy wound himself around a fire hydrant. Death approached. Looking up the Wolfman shed a single tear for his brave friend. As the horses galloped through, the two pulled the bandage taut and allowed the mummy to unravel and become wrapped up in the stampeding legs. The animals clattered against each other as their limbs were tangled in bandages or snapped off entirely due to the sudden strain. The collapse caused the chariot to spill over to one side as the Reaper tumbled out. However it did not take him long to right it and use his scythe to cut his animals free. They limped forward, crippled by the crash.
Frankenstein’s right foot remained buried as the needle continued to climb. He passed Death two houses before the finish line. The crowd erupted in cheers and ran out to meet the victor. Grim’s chariot hobbled up behind him, its driver furious. “It looks like you’ve won. I take my leave.”
“Friendship won this day. Not just Frankenstein.” replied the monster.
Death touched a bunch of people in the crowd causing their bodies to fall lifelessly to the ground as a form of petty revenge but, as agreed, he left Frankenstein and Rebecca living. He rode away as Rebecca and the boys came into view. Frankenstein ran to them and hugged Dracula before giving Rebecca a kiss and tossing the keys back to the Skeleton brothers. As they celebrated and laughed they could see a battered Wolfman running up holding something above his head. When he neared they could it was the surviving bits of Imhotep. “He saved the day!” howled the werewolf.
“Just trying to be a considerate roommate.” said the mummy with a wink.
They all had a good laugh and took the party back inside where they danced and drank the night away. All of them except for Frankenstein and Rebecca, who had snuck off to his bed to make passionate love. Undressing him, she thanked him for a wonderful night. But he reminded her, “Night not over yet, sweetness.”
The sex was everything he had hoped it would be. She was gentle, passionate, and gave herself over to him completely. He held her hand as they journeyed into a land of ecstasy together. They did everything, all of the normal stuff and bunch of the weird stuff too. He let her lead him and show him everything a woman had to offer a monster. Near the end, however, he could feel his lust building and took control of the lovemaking. Their sex building in intensity, she yelled his name as her sweat-drenched body writhed and gripped him. Understanding that she had been satisfied, Frankenstein allowed himself to finish as well holding her tightly against him.
The following morning, Frankenstein awoke feeling like a new man. Trying not to disturb Rebecca, he snuck off into the bathroom to get something to drink. In the hall he saw Wolfman and Imhotep spooning in the hallway, the sexual tension that caused them to always fight now relieved. Looking out of the bathroom window he could see the Skeleton brothers cleaning up the front lawn. It would be another few hours before Dracula was up but Frankenstein went to his room and left a note on his coffin that read:
Feeling particularly good about himself and putting on Dracula’s sunglasses he strutted back to his room to wake Rebecca for breakfast. Kneeling down beside her, he gently rubbed her shoulder and whispered her name but she did not stir. She was dead. Frankenstein had killed her with his inhuman strength while they made passionate love. It was the best night of his life. It was the best night of her life. But it appeared that Rebecca had ended up with Death after all.
The other day I visited the most magical place in the world by accident. It exists at sunset between the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges in the northern most tip of Queens, New York. There, decades of broken glass litter the shoreline and ring with the lapping of every wave. The resulting sound is that of wind chimes, crystalline starlight, and a million tiny bells all serving to create a state of tranquil harmony. No crime committed could be too egregious not to be cleansed by the sounding of the green and brown shards suspended in salt water caressing the stony coast.
A plastic bag arose from the park-side refuse cylinder and was carried almost the entire way across the watery expanse of the East River. We watched with abated breath as it bobbed and weaved over the swirling tidal strait like a massive black butterfly. Hundreds of yards and several minutes passed before it finally landed a few feet from the opposing shore. The infamously swift waters took it from our eyes in an instant.
A boy ran up and grabbed the guard rail for dear life only to bark unexpectedly into the crisp fall air. The dogs in the nearby dirt ring park silenced themselves in awe of the child’s passion and zeal. No quadruped that day could hold a candle to the wild majesty of a young human drunk on the energy of the most special place on our planet. He remained there for some time looking across the water at Manhattan, his barking fit over and his mind calmed by the sound of wind and wave. I looked only for a moment but I could see tears in his eyes.
As we walked away I knew that the plastic bag was being hauled down into the depths of the river, pulled under by its strong opposing currents into the murky underdark. It represented hope and, even though it had failed, we were impressed by how far it had come in its impossible quest to cross the river on a single gust of wind. If only we could be so fortunate and bold in our own lives, a meaningful failure would be enough.