Tales from the Crypt (Except replace the word Crypt with RAV4)

Bare with me through this lengthy tale friends, and I’d like to believe that you won’t be disappointed. Of course, I also simultaneously believe that if you do take the time to read it in full, that you’ll be disturbed enough to possibly unfollow this blog, cancel your friendship with me via other social channels, and maybe even phone the authorities to have me taken away to a padded cell. I’ll take my chances in the name of keeping myself semi-relevant to you for another week.

If you follow me on Instagram, you likely saw a few pictures of the fantastic place I visited at the beginning of last week. A wonderfully desolate locale known as Alabama Hills. Three days there shooting what I hope we’ll be an amazing thirty second spectacle has left me with many fine tales, but it is the journey home that is the subject of this post. The roughly three or so hours spent mostly alone behind the illuminated wheel of what was formerly my mother-in-law’s RAV4, driving from Lone Pine back to Venice, on the heels of a 12 hour shoot day in the hot sun of a desert not far removed from Death Valley.

Why was I alone in the car with no co-pilot to help guide me or share the responsibility of staying awake to stay alive for one more day, despite having ample co-workers present on set with me? Simple. I had made it very clear that I’m a man who likes to drive at a reasonable speed–and a man who demands that any one driving him also mimics the cruising behaviors of a seventy-year old man. And thus, I was left to my own devices–mostly smokes, caffeine, and the earbuds snaking from my cellphone to the left and right of my brain–to keep me awake and alive on that dark journey back down CA-14.

Fifteen minutes into the trip back home, and despite my best efforts to keep up,  I’d already lost sight of the four souls in the Ford blazing the trail in front of me. “No worries,” I thought. “I’ll just ring Ariele and talk to her for awhile.” I spoke into my iPhone, demanded that Siri ring the Mrs., and believe it or not even my low grumble from time to time results in Siri’s obedience. The phone rang, but alas, Ariele was unavailable to pick up the phone. I left a message, recorded via her voice mail what I surmised might be my last known location on the map and pulled off to what I thought might be the last gas station for quite some time.

In my haste to grab a beverage from the station’s market, I left my phone on the passenger side seat of the RAV4. So when Ariele called me back, she did not find me on the other end either. But, at the moment, I was relieved–as I always am–to know that she was still alive. “I’ll phone her back in fifteen minutes or so,” I schemed. “After I’ve had a chance to drink this diet coke and burn a butt with the windows down.” And that’s precisely the plan I put into action. But, when I finally got around to phoning her again, repetitive rings followed by an almost unfamiliar recorded greeting left me unsure of exactly why we’d been unable to connect not once, not twice, but now thrice.

I didn’t bother with another message. I figured she’d not had the speed to grab the phone before it’s final ring, and was quite certain I’d be hearing back from her within minutes if not seconds. When I didn’t, I put my voice to use again and asked Siri to ring my mother. We spoke for some 40 minutes, and our conversation had certainly aided me in my quest to stay alert while not-quite-speeding down that moon-lit highway. But, in the back of my mind a kernel of concern regarding the whereabouts of my wife began to take hold. “Mom, I must let you go. I’ve got to phone Ariele.” I barked. “I’ll speak to you soon.”

I phoned Ariele again. No luck. I placed the phone back into the passenger seat and assured myself that she’d call me back as soon as she was able. “Perhaps a spot of traffic, perhaps she is consumed with playing with our cat, perhaps her phone died and she doens’t quite realize it yet.” Many logical possibilities were uttered nearly aloud by me, for me, to sooth the twisted mess of a mind that I knew might start piecing together far more heinous scenarios involving my lovely. But my efforts to keep that devious gray beast from betwixt my ears at bay were for not. And within mere moments of having finished the last drag of my umpteenth smoke the very brain that was working to keep me calm with rational thinking, began to paint three distinct possibilities–three scenarios, and only three–that with each passing mile became more and more concretely certain.

Fact: My masters had arranged an after-work cocktail shindig in at Gene Simmons’ joint in downtown El Segundo that evening. I knew this to be true, and I knew via a brief text exchange before I hit the road that Ariele had decided to go. It was a decision that had whole-heartedly delighted me prior to reaching the utterly creepy town of Mojave, CA, as I tend to take great comfort in knowing that Ari gets out and about when I’m not around. Riding into hour two of my now hypnotic journey though, that fact only served as fodder to construct those aforementioned fates.

1) Being the lightweight that she is, two drinks had been too many. (I have no idea why this woman who I know to only have typically one drink, all of the decided to have two, but dammit that’s what she’d had). And thusly, one her way back from El Segundo to the sublet we currently call home, she’d had an accident. Likely on the backroad home along the Pacific. Likely end result: She is no longer with us or horribly crippled.

2) Perhaps at some point in the three days I was away I’d said something that had been misinterpreted by her own brand of crazy as something spiteful, unappealing, or hurtful. The lives of couples frequently separated by the rigors of their profession are filled with phone conversations that walk the fine line of sadness and madness due to the additional strains of having to cope with the daily routine without your favorite companion. It was a possibility, though I could not recall any exchange that’d we’d had that had ended on a less than high note. Even so, option two had me surmising that perhaps some younger buck had wooed her, and they were off to do the devil’s business.

One and two, and they came in that order, seemed highly unlikely. And yet, I’d still received no phone call back. With these two options decidedly difficult to approve by even me, my brain focused on the third far more likely scenario.

3) Ariele had left El Segundo after not even a whole alcoholic beverage, had made it safely back to Venice, had put off calling me back while in the car as is required by the law, had parked a few feet down the road from the entrance to our cottage and while fumbling with the keys to enter the gate due to the extreme darkness of the street had been put to sleep by a chloroform soaked rag in the hand of an abduction van driving lunatic. After all, from the moment I checked into our sublet many weeks ago I was suspicious that the difficulty of working the key in the nearly faulty gate lock would allow for such a tragic event to eventually occur.

And so there it was: the most obvious ending to what come September would have been just over four years of our amazing journey together. Even as I assured myself that this was probably not at all the situation, I began to run through my own fate now that she was likely on her way to being forever tortured in a dark basement somewhere or, if I was lucky, found in a ditch a few months from now. A deep darkness descending upon my car. True, I was relived to know that there was no way that I could be blamed for foul play, with my being so very far removed from Venice that day, but with this knew knowledge I began to wonder what was next for the kid.

If I knew her to be dead, with one-hundred percent certainty, wouldn’t the next right thing be for me to intentionally drive the Rav-4 off the next available mountain cliff? And if I did, could I really be sure that the tumble the vehicle would take would end my own life instead of just leaving me permanently disfigured and facing many hardships ahead? What other options did I have? A life spent in search of my soul mate ala Kiefer Sutherland going after an almost unknown Sandra Bullock was certainly an option. Head spinning, lungs filling over and over again with the bizarre combination of my own poisonous smoke and the rush of clean desert air, it occurred to me that on the plus side–with me dead or living, the relationship we’d forged (our very existence together) might possibly be held up as legendary. Future errors and indiscretions, miscommunications and temporary set-backs were no-longer a possibility. The future, the one baking in my skull, would be filled with phrases like, “They were such an amazing pair, tragic–who knows what a love like theirs might have accomplished down the road? We can be sure of one thing, no man and woman on earth ever loved each other quite like they did–Princess Bride style love that was.”

This was the tarnished but still slightly silver lining to it all. Ironic yes, as I’d not just a few minutes early temporarily placed her with another, but I’d had to have had that thought in order to get to the truth! Before I could commit to anything brash, I decided one last text or two was necessary to remove all doubt. “Text Ariele,” I barked into the phone. After I voice texted one last request for some sort of response to relive my growing panic, I simply assumed the next text I’d receive would be from that maniac–something along the lines of, “I’ve got her. LOL.” Or maybe even, “MLOL” which would be some sort of text version of “Mooohoooohahahaha.”

A brilliantly dark curve loomed ahead–the clock was ticking, and the phone did ring. I picked up thinking, “Oh this psychopath is a brave one. Calling me back to deliver his news via his own voice. That’s some 80s type psycho-old-school shit there,” I thought just before Ariele’s voice rang out into my ear, “Hey babe. I’ve called you like four or five times. It went to voicemail, the one you’ve still not set-up, every time.”

And there it was. Ah, yes. The reality that I most often choose to forget: AT&T is shit.

Advertisements

The Squeaky Wheel Gets It

I can only surmise that a big part of why many of society’s ills remain, by and large, unchanged is that there exists a general fear of unmanageable retaliation. We don’t all know one of the many martial arts that might equip us to thwart the blind aggression that might ensue if and when we point out the perverse behavior of another human being, or for that matter, a corporation. We share our personal stories about all that bothers us at our dinner parties, amongst friends on nights out fueled up on our trusty truth serum, and from behind the only seemingly cloaked key strokes of our home computers. But how often do we stand up for what’s right in the actual moment?

Easier to let things slide. Less hassle to pay an extra dime here or there and not have to do the infinite amount of leg work required to right a painstakingly obvious wrong. “Unbelievable,” we might mutter as we watch a woman drop a dirty diaper from her SUV and into the gutter of an otherwise pristine Brooklyn brownstone block–true story that one. And I did watch a braver soul attempt to get her to pick it back up, I believe her response was, “It’s not even soiled.” You see, a pee-peed diaper is just fine.

Rare is the day that I don’t encounter a situation that if put into perspective becomes crystal clear in its wrongness. That might be the net result of being a city dweller, an avid walker, and a guy who always has his peepers scanning left, right and back again for potential thuggery–and that’s regardless of the city street I find myself on. I doubt anyone has ever given the quaint sea-side town of Mendocino, CA a more thorough examination, or painted so many possible, though not probable, acts of pure evil onto its ocean-air-fresh canvas.

As tends to happen when I abstain from blogging for a period of time, I’ve made a mockery of getting to the point. I suppose on this evening, when I am looking back at many of the things that actually occurred to me, or in front of me, over the course of the last four or five weeks, I am wondering–when was the last time I made a fuss over something egregious in an effort to end it, better the situation for others down the road, or at the very least point out its absurdity publicly in the hopes that others might see it for the farce that it is. What was the last incident in your life that you took the extra time to do the same?

 

 

Customized Abduction Vans for any Occasion

It goes without saying that right now, as you read this, somewhere out there in those United States of America, at least one van is being used as what I–and I’m sure many others–have coined, Abduction Vans. Yep, if you do the math, and I haven’t, but if you did the math, I’m sure you’d come to the same conclusion. Below is a collection of all sorts of Abduction Vans that predators, mafia, kidnappers, the world’s most twisted souls and those who aspire to be them, might be using right now for a whole host of different reasons. I was kind enough to scribe at least one reason that each of these Abduction Vans is special underneath each photo representation. It was my pleasure, so sincerely, no thanks are necessary. I take great comfort in knowing that you’ll now join me in never being able to see a van as simply just another van. Oh, and yes, it goes without saying that each shot snapped put me into harms way, even as hundreds of hipsters were milling about the same streets of Williamsburg. No predator likes his methodology of abduction photographed, and they certainly don’t care for the careful analysis of the reason or reasons for their choice of vehicular man-slaughterers.

With the exception of the industrial locks (a must) and the extended cab (a nice touch for the abduction of more than one) I’d say this is your standard everyday run-of-the-mill abduction van. Complete with creepy, almost-useless, tinted circular window that comes standard in most AVs.

This darker colored model comes complete with an almost completely illegible company name, in this case for a supposed Locksmith. Nothing says, “I’m totally not trying to throw anyone in my van for later-date-torture,” like faded/peeling low-brow blue-collar Americana signage. Nothing.

This sinister ride comes complete with not only the decoy signage, but also a heavy-duty gate lift for those predators who prefer bigger-boned folks to quench their blood thirst.

The truly bold fiends apparently aren’t beyond telling the world exactly what they’ve done, or perhaps announcing their intentions. This predator has either already taken 7 Ricks, plans to Take 7 Ricks, or is only allowed to Take 7 Ricks in total or all at once.

If you are only planning on ever committing one abduction, than perhaps it is best to just pay $19.95 for a one day rental, possibly two, rather than spend a bundle on something you’ll never use to abduct ever again. Don’t kid yourself into buying a van for just one abduction by pretending you’re going to redo your backyard deck, and lie to yourself with fibs like, “It will come in handy later for making trips to Home Depot.”

Why bother securing a facility to store your abductee or bringing him or her back to your spiffy, OCD-clean apartment? Maybe you like Mother Nature and are feeling like performing your cerimonial amputations in the great outdoors. You’ll need a Camper Abduction Van for that. Heck, you can scoop someone up and hit the road for quite sometime–putting ample distance between the two of you and their loved ones as well as the search party they’ve surely formed back home. ROAD TRIP!

A sure fire way to keep suspicion of your misdeeds to a minimum is to perform your abducting in a van too stupid looking for anyone to suspect anything other than the notion that you have abysmal taste in modes of transportation. Nice play Ol’ Boy!

This one might appear to be just another fake-company van, but it is actually soooo much more! A van that features a wonderful word, in this case, “Majestic,” plants a subliminal brain-clouding worm of doubt, creating feelings associated with the meaning of lovely words, before potential worry-warts can even get their paranoia going–leaving them feeling fuzzy and wonderful inside even after you’ve snatched them!

Interested in grabbing tons of tikes off the streets or old relics of bygone eras that are fans of The Partridge Family? Or Both? This is the abduction dream you’ve been waiting for!

Maybe you just want to try a few first with tiny dogs or cats before you make the big leap and pricey, but necessary, purchase to go after bigger game. Why not a make a few bucks advertising local businesses on the side of your pre-human-serial-killing-exploits dream machine?!

And finally, and exactly how I’d roll personally–if I had any intentions of joining the time honored tradition of People Hunting for Sport–the Abduction Van that absolutely screams, “I am an Abduction Van,” so loudly, in fact, that any passer-byers will immediately dismiss it as far too obvious without ever giving it a second thought. Though, I can assure you I certainly gave it one, if not two, or possibly six more thoughts before I got home.

The Person You Most Suspect

I have been sitting on a particular subject for a post for quite some time now. I guess when you are really postive that a certain someone is quietly observing you and everything you do–which would only naturally include punching your name into a Google search box in order to inform themselves about you–the idea of blogging about them and what you think they are up to as it pertains to you, could have dire consequences. The most probable consequence might be nothing more than their hurt feelings, though I might suggest hurt feelings can be the impetus to a whole slew of scenarios that unravel because  you’ve mischaracterized some soul who wasn’t up to anything close to what you’d been surmising–other than the part about plugging your name into that big-brother search box. On the other hand, maybe you make the post, as I am now, and that person reads it and decides to put their plan to enslave you, own you, torture you, and finally eat you into supersonic hyperdrive.

Yes, if you read that carefully, you could distill this episode down to one simple paranoid thought: Is this person basically Hannibal, and is he or she currently engaged in the time-honored sociopath’s orgasmic ritual of allowing me to go on living.

You see, the thrill isn’t just in the capture, the pain, and the kill–no, if what I’ve read about some of history’s best and brightest regarding serial killers is true–then a big part of the plan for you (or in this case me) is them watching you go about living your life like normal, all the while delightfully relishing in the not-so-misguided belief that it is they who are ultimately allowing you to keep doing just that. Sick as that sounds, if they are committed to their cause, then ultimately it isn’t really untrue is it? If someone is actually sitting around, debating the date they will put operation extinguish-your-existence into effect–well, unless you yourself have identified the individual and are making preparations to combat them on that fateful day, it would seem to me that they do, in fact, deserve to feel like they hold all the power.

So, let’s say you are near one-hundred percent positive that an individual, who in some social sense you “know,” is mapping out the remaining days of your life in their own-blood-ink onto the pages of a diary wrapped in the human skin of some, but not all, of their previous victims. Hold that thought for a second, and then answer this question: what are you prepared to do about it? (Not sure what movie that is from, but Morgan Freeman’s voice comes to mind).

If you are me–and thankfully for you, you are most definitely not me–you walk the line of believing your gut and dismissing it as just another one of your schizo internal ramblings; a fabrication based on bad films, nicotine, and the over-consumption of chocolates and aspartame infused beverages. And nearly every single day you lean in favor of the seemingly logical notion that anything so perverse couldn’t be true of anyone, and that your imagination is simply getting the better of you. Thus, you do very little about it. You ignore the gut feeling that nature gave you in order to sense impending doom so that you may run as far away from it as possible. You write a blog post about it instead, believing that airing that particular scenario to the world will somehow fortify the more sane notions in your skull that suggest that anything your gut might be telling you can’t be believed–and that your life is not a movie, and fiction, despite what they say, is still stranger than the truth.

And maybe, just maybe, you sit back and hit the publish button on your blog–in the hopes that admitting to all of the above will be seen by said person, and that he or she will become disillusioned with you now that they know that you know and thus some of the thrill of the sport of it all has been diminished for them.

After all, would you still eat a pig if right before you went to slaughter him, it said, “I knew you were going to eat me all along.” If your answer is yes, then perhaps you are the very person my post served to foil, though apparently most miserably.

The Scent of Evil

If memory serves, and previous stories might suggest it doesn’t always, I haven’t worn cologne since I was a wee adult–let’s say seventeen or eighteen roughly. Back then a little Drakkar Noir was all the rage. I can’t say it did much for me. I don’t recall having washboard abs, an attractive woman on my arm at all times, and anything better than a twelve dollar haircut. I could tell you that I simply haven’t needed it as an adult, but am open to the idea that someone out there might vehemently disagree with that assessment. And, to be sure, I’ve dabbled in power scrubs, shower gels, and for a short period of time wasn’t a stranger to taking toothpaste and using it as soap on my hands in an effort to remove the sweet stank of cigarette smoke.

I’ve got friends that wear various scents–male friends I mean. And I suppose since I think I know them pretty well, I don’t tend to lump them in with the remaining male population that walks amongst us. Most of the time when I catch a whiff of an approaching male, the very first thought I have is, “What is this guy trying to hide?” You might think I am referring to simple body odor, but you’d be wrong. Logically, I can make all sorts of rationale as to why that is the most legitimate reason for bathing in the stuff–but, for some reason lately–and maybe it’s because quite a few of the most recent interactions I’ve had with these walking roses have also included awkwardly friendly salutations–I find myself surmising that the wearer has something far more sinister about him, something that he is trying to camouflage with microscopic atoms of smell-goodness.

In my book, some far more likely reasons for seemingly having drenched oneself in artificial flavorings are the following: The guy is most definitely an alcoholic, and without more than a little splash of Polo, he’d be caught vodka-tongued at his day job. (My own solution to this type of pollution had been AXE Snake Peel Scrub. That and a sick-sized wad of breath mints.) Or, maybe he wears it all the time so that should he cheat on his spouse or girlfriend, pick up a bit of a prostitute’s scent in the process, he can then douse himself in his brand to cover up any trace evidence his lovely back home might be able to detect with her sniffer. Finally, I could be mistaken, but I do seem to recall from some readings on serial killers and the disposal of bodies that many of the chemical substances used to breakdown human remains–bones, skin, organs, etc.–can leave a fella quite pungent with the stink of crimes most foul. If I was chopping and dicing bodies in my bathtub, I think I’d give some serious consideration to a quick spritz of CK One before leaving the house in search of my next victim. At least that’s how I’d go about it.

Thusly, if you are a gentleman, and you smell real, real good–don’t be surprised if you overhear my inner thoughts say, “I’m on to you buddy. You smell just a little too good.” And if you are hearing my inner dialog about you, then I probably have much bigger problems to resolve–but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised, as I’m told the various spawns of hell, the real flesh and blood demons that walk amongst us, smell absolutely grotesque.

Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dead

By most accounts, yesterday was one of those perfect NYC pre-summer, summer-like spectacles of weather perfection. And like most, I was not unmoved by its powerful suggestions of its-all-gonna-be-all-rightness. Yep, it was simply magnificent out there. The kind of day where you want to stroll around, feeling the sun on your face, while absorbing the positive vibes of an overpopulated community breathing a collective sigh of relief. The prior week or more of near constant gloominess had more than made up for a relatively tame winter season, and had done a good job of setting up the last two weekend days as the saviors of what I’m sure might have been many a suicidal guy or gal. While I wouldn’t count myself as one of them, I will say that the general dreariness that early May had bestowed upon this fair city was working my mood in the direction of near unbreakable case of the blahs.

But not yesterday, no sir. Even as I was aware that the city’s sidewalks would be clogged with other whistling dixies, I couldn’t wait to set forth on my own walkabout around Brooklyn. My suspicions were right–it was as if every city dweller had made a simultaneous break for it, sneaking out from various studio-sized prisons all around town to have a taste of what was outside. Unfazed, I soldiered on through the masses and found my thoughts turning to a fellow I had just recently come to know, H. H. Holmes. If you aren’t inclined to take the time to read about Dr. Holmes via my link, let me just sum it up for you: he was quite possibly America’s first serial killer, at the very least the first documented–and Boy Howdy, did he love a crowded fairgrounds for preying upon! Miles of souls, wandering about, heads so far up the asses of good times and hopeful dreams, whose guards were down due in large part to the spectacle that lay before them, The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. A spectacle, both Holmes and the fair, retold supremely in Erik Larson’s The Devil in The White City, that I’m sure coaxed even the savviest Level Niners out into the open for a spell–not unlike yesterday’s siren song of summer.

Like too many times before it, I wasn’t worried for my own safety. I sort of operate under a rule of: if i am thinking about it, it can’t happen to me. But while I waltzed around to various places looking for the perfect, small, used outdoor table for my deck, my mind became increasingly preoccupied with the notion that amongst all these revelers–with guards down, many imbibing at a furious pace, and wearing grins that would only serve to silently enrage a man like Holmes–there was likely one or two gentleman performing an entirely different kind of dance. A Spider and the Fly type of thing, with a choreographed intensity that I believed I might be able to catch in the eyes of the lead if I were to put my efforts against it.

But even I couldn’t be bothered with such nonsense yesterday, at least as it pertained to the safety of others. Too much sunshine, too much good times, and perhaps an ice-coffee too many had left me uncharacteristically nonchalant about the whole possibility. And so perhaps this morning, I owe an apology to some poor soul who is just waking up for the first time since yesterday, chained to a wall in a dark cellar deep beneath the impenetrable concrete, brick, and asphalt paths our collective happy feet will use to skip to work this morning–still oozing with optimism. My oh my, what a wonderful day.

One-Fifty-Four vs. Beelzebub’s Best

In general I don’t fear mythical beings or deities – I’m not a non-believer in demons, ghosts, and beasts of otherworldly origins, but it’s the monsters lurking within human forms that give me the most unease. Dahmer, Albert Fish, Bundy and the two-hundred or so active serial killers an article I recently read suggested were currently running amok around the country. These men, and sometimes women, represent an evil that is far more believable – the number of missing persons reported on a daily basis, an exact tally I forget, also factors into my constant concern for my attractive better-half.

Running with her, on trails and streets, is a real delight. If she didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t do it, and vice versa – each day one of us guilts/encourages the other to get on with it, and the runs are the best part of any morning we do them. My mile-time is just a fraction less than hers, and so it isn’t unusual for me to have gained a fair amount of distance between us by the twenty-minute mark – I am usually just close enough to still hear her signature steps, but from time to time I find myself out of earshot, and once in a while, too far away to even see her.

When this happens I tend to pause, run in place, and wait for her to reappear – in those few seconds before she does, I am always quite certain she has been nabbed right off the trail by one of the world’s not-yet-monikered killers at-large. The more statistically obvious scenarios involving bears, random mountain lions, tripping sticks, or bee-swarms don’t really enter my noggin. Until she reveals herself again, I am always operating under the notion that she has been abducted and begin speculating that had I just stayed closer it would have never happened.

But here’s the thing: I know no karate, I didn’t wrestle in school, I don’t exercise with a concealed weapon, and even my shouting-for-help-voice is probably not great, I doubt the baritone nature of my vocal chords would carry for shit. One hundred and fifty-four pounds vs. the drooling, machete toting, unfeeling, born-from-the-seed-of-demons-soul hellbent on turning her into first-prize country fair beef jerky – it makes little sense and I’m quite sure I’m no deterrent.

We tend to run during the hours I let my mind believe these hellions are sleeping – early in the morning. They are a lazy sort, and our only advantage is being up before noon. Rosch – 1, Beelzebub’s Best – o.