Today's thing is a sequel of sorts to one of the stories in A Creature Wanting Form which should be arriving pretty soon if you ordered it!
I was looking at my phone on the couch when D. looked up from her phone on the couch and she goes please don’t ever open the door for a strange woman if she arrives asking for help. This was the second time she had asked this favor of me in the span of a few weeks and so I figured it must be something going around on her version of the phone that I wasn’t privy to on my version of the phone. The way her world is infinitesimally different from mine and yours is from hers and so on and so on. Next thing one of us is trying to convince the other that they are lying to us about the war.
Not just disputing facts and motivations and conspiracies I mean but suggesting that it isn’t even happening at all.
Even if it’s a woman who seems like she’s in distress D. said and I said I don’t know if I can agree to these terms on a blanket policy level. I think it’s going to have to be on a case by case basis I said. I’ll kind of be freelancing on the matter I said and she said you can say you’ll call someone for help obviously just don’t invite them inside.
I think that’s the rule for vampires not ladies I said and she said vampires aren’t real but this is.
Our niece had slept over a few nights before and she’s at that age where she’s starting to watch horror movies and loves to talk about them almost to scare herself on purpose in the daylight when it's safer. To poke her antennas out into what the frightening world can sometimes be in the way that kids do. She asked me what my favorite horror movie ever was and I thought about it for a minute or two and couldn’t decide on just one like I was worried about insufficiently impressing this child with my refined taste and I said well I will tell you one horror movie that has stuck with me because of how abject and mean it was and that is House of 1000 Corpses. It was made by Haverhill Massachusetts’ own Robert Bartleh Cummings I said and she said she hadn’t heard of it. I thought about pulling up More Human Than Human for her on YouTube to illustrate what the nineties were like for me and her parents more than anything but instead I said have you ever heard of the band Wet Leg and she said what and I said have you ever heard of the band Wet Leg and she said yeah. She said that she had heard of them. D. said what band are you talking about and I sang a little of Chaise Longue with the cute accent and everything and she said oh right.
I don’t think I’ve ever spent any real time in Haverhill despite having a degree in Massachusetts Studies (unaccredited) although I know it’s a decently large river milltown that has probably seen better days even though it was founded something like four hundred years ago. To be frank I imagine the days were worse then no matter what it’s like there now. No one ever says a town has seen worse days it’s always the other way around.
I have been to or at least driven through Lawrence and North Andover and Methuen and Salisbury and Amesbury and definitely Newburyport all of which are basically on the Merrimack river which dumps out into the Atlantic Ocean where they would have been shipping the lumber and whatever else it was they processed in Haverhill for all those decades. I wonder how much it would fuck up the course of human history if I travelled back in time a couple hundreds years and played the good people of colonial Haverhill a few cuts off of White Zombie’s Astro Creep: 2000. Maybe instead of gratitude for introducing them to the concept of riffs they would just kill me instantly with an ax and pretend none of it ever happened and I’d be there bleeding into the soil I was always meant to bleed into much later on going the gag wasn’t worth it. I’ve made a mistake here.
Well why was the movie scary my niece asked and I said it wasn’t so much that it was scary like you’re thinking but more that it was a cruel movie that reveled in its stylized torture which I’d rather not have to watch happening if I had my way in real life or in fiction and then I remembered the plot of the film is set into motion by a woman in distress flagging down a car on a desolate road and asking for help from Dwight Schrute and all them. I guess the actual Dwight Schrute would’ve been fucked in that scenario too although he would’ve known his way around a rural farm a little better than those guys in the movie you would think.
She asked if we could watch Human Centipede later because her dad would never let her and I said no but just as much for me as for her. Well it’s not that her dad wouldn’t let her she said but that he didn’t want to watch it with her either and she was too scared to watch it alone.
Poltergeist I just thought now days later. It’s Poltergeist.
I was younger than her when I saw it for the first time so maybe it doesn’t hold up anymore. The doll and the TV and all of that.
I’m not entirely sure if we’re meant in this scenario to be judging horror movies on their technical prowess as films in terms of acting and story and direction and lighting and costuming and setting and so on or instead just how embedded they get inside of us for the rest of our lives which seems like a stronger metric in my estimation.
Haunted house films have been scary forever for obvious reasons but I don’t think I appreciated until recently how much worse it would be if it were the home you had a thirty year lease out on as opposed to some other random fucked up ghost house that wasn't your problem otherwise. The eccentric guy trapping you there or daring you to stay overnight or whatever. Aside from the ghouls there is the matter of the bank to contend with. I can’t even get my bank to stop charging my three bucks every time I need to take out a twenty at the 7-11.
What are you looking at D. asked me and I swiped away from a picture of Pete Buttigieg eating a shredded up Cinnabon like a buffalo wing and lowered my phone and said nothing and she didn’t say anything to follow up so I picked my phone back up and pulled up the picture of Pete Buttigieg eating a shredded up Cinnabon like a buffalo wing again. Then I swiped to a story that said Harvey Weinstein was being sentenced to sixteen years for his various crimes and at the trial his lawyer tried to bargain with the judge going “Mr. Weinstein did a lot of good for a lot of people in a fifty year career. He produced hundreds of films that were a joy to millions of people,” the guy said. “He was a man that many famous movie stars would thank in their Oscar speeches,” he said. “He gave generously to charities and political causes.”
Why did you tell me not to let a woman into the house I asked D. a few days later.
I didn’t say don’t let a woman into the house.
What did you say?
I said that just so you know if a woman ever runs up frantically to the door and is knocking on the door saying she’s in danger and she needs to come in call the police immediately and then tell her that you called the police and they’ll be there in a minute and don’t let her into the house. I think that it could be a scam and you could be putting yourself into danger.
What is the scam though?
Well you let her in and she’s like armed and then there’s like a guy or two outside and she like you know she’s like gonna let them in and then who knows what they wanna do with you. Kidnap you. Murder you. Tie you up.
Why is it funny?
I don’t know. It’s not really.
But where did you see all of this?
I’ve heard a few different stories. Probably mostly on TikTok. But true crime sort of stories like now let’s learn about the horrible fate of blablabla. There are true things that happen. It can also happen when you’re in your car like you can be driving along in a desolate area and you see a woman in the street and she’s like waving you down like please help. So you stop and offer your help and it turns out there are a couple of villainous men nearby that come out and they all have their way with you whether they want to murder you or you know steal your car or you know…
Like in a movie.
No like in real life.
Do you think people are gassing themselves up a little bit too much with this shit? People on TikTok who have seen too many true crime documentaries…
Personally I’ve never done any research but I think you could look into it and find out that this has actually happened to people.
I’m sure that it has happened but… It’s also possible that someone might hit a golf ball at the course we go walking by and it shoots off in a weird direction and hits me in my head and my pants fall down and everyone sees my little penis. Do you ever worry about that?
There’s really not much you can to prevent that! The thing I’m talking about all you would have to do is go I’m very sorry but I can’t help you because I could potentially be putting myself into danger. I don’t know you. I don’t trust you.
I guess it has something to do with me being a man and you being a woman right?
Yeah. Absolutely. 100%. There is that. You know as a woman I have to or I have a lot more fears about my bodily autonomy and my safety and you know... Although that woman and her accomplices? It doesn’t matter. They could still hurt you if this were to happen to you.
Well obviously I could be overpowered…
The reason I tell this to you specifically is that you always want to help people and I just want you to know that it’s good and kind of you to want to help people but you also should make sure you are protecting yourself. And me.
Yeah that’s fine.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to help. I would be like oh my god I’m calling the police for you. But I would not open the door to a stranger that was knocking on the door in the middle of the night. And I would not want you to either.
I didn’t know this was all happening in the middle of the night.
What’s the scariest horror movie you’ve ever seen?
Um well for some reason The Babadook scared me a lot. I don’t know why. I think it was the night we watched it. It was a scary night. And you fell asleep instantly.
It’s about grief.
Yes I know that. I couldn’t sleep and there was a creature in our room when I tried to sleep. Waiting there. Midsommar too. The end of it.
That was really creepy. Look at these bombed out Ukraine buildings I said gesturing toward the muted TV.
That’s awful. A year it’s been.
These poor people.
There were some guys on my phone today trying to convince each other that none of it was happening.
I don’t know. To feel something. To feel different. Listen to me though I said. I don’t know... I think I’m gonna do it. Let someone in.
Then you’re putting me in danger because you want to try to be the savior for someone. You know bad things happen to people that are trying to be kind all the time she said.
Is she hot?
The girl at the door.
I don’t know if she’s hot.
What if she’s very old? That could also be a motivating factor.
You just can’t let anybody into the house.
What about a repairman?
If you called them that’s fine!
What about… The Hangman?
No don’t start that…
What if it’s ol’ Jack the Smiling Hangman himself coming round rattling his bag of teeth?
No. That’s a no brainer. That’s a closed door scenario.
What if he’s very charming and he just wants to show me I don’t know…
That’s how they get you!
…his set of knives.
No! I don’t even open the door for anyone. This summer someone came and knocked on the door and they wanted to talk to me about electricity or something and I said no thank you. I was mad. It was a guy. Men should realize we’re not comfortable opening our doors to you. But also don’t do it for a woman either.
What if she has really big tits?
No! That’s even worse. But you know what… Someday I could be in really big trouble and I might have to go run down the street and knock on a door…
And they won’t let you in! How do you like that?
I know. I’ll think about this conversation and then I’ll be dead. The zombies got me because they wouldn’t open the door because that person’s wife told them don’t ever open the door. So… You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I feel like I’m pretty street smart you know. You don’t have to... Why are you laughing?
I think you’re street smart too. I just thought this was one thing you might not know about.
Why are you laughing?
I don't know why! I just thought you might not know this is a thing that uh… bad players do. They get in a little group and usually the woman because women are less threatening will act like she’s in danger and flag someone down or knock on their door and they will just do terrible things.
What was that home invasion movie? Funny Games? Where they tie the family up and torture them? Did you watch that?
No that would be terrifying to me because I have a huge fear of… Everyone in my family … my kinfolk all have a fear …
For some reason it sounds racist when you say kinfolk.
Haha sorry. Well my family growing up all had a fear of home invasion.
But nothing ever happened?
Well nothing yet. Not until you came onto the scene!
I’m opening the door to every wastrel who comes along. Motel 6 ass.
Haha that’s right.
Like in that show we’ve been watching. The monsters pretend to be somebody you know
That’s exactly what I mean.
Let us in dear I’m your old granny. Or the one where she’s like I just want to kiss you to the guy and he gets horny and lets her in and she kisses him for a minute then bites his face off.
Well that’s why I was asking about the situation with her tits. I don’t think that’s going to happen in this town by the way.
Something bad could happen anywhere. Look at where I grew up. The past two months two horrible unthinkable crazy violent tragedies have happened. We never would’ve thought that was going to happen. But the truth is bad things can happen anywhere. And just think about the other day when I was walking home from the car shop…whatever it’s called.
The garage. It was in broad daylight and a man was harassing me from his car following me. I never thought anything like that would happen.
That was fucked up. I gotta fucking find that guy.
The other day I thought I was going to see him somewhere. At the gym.
I’m gonna invite myself into his house.
Don’t! It works both ways. You don’t let people in and you don’t go in.
I’ll put a wig on. Like Bugs Bunny.
Alright what was your horror movie besides Babadook?
Well I don’t watch a lot because they scare me and I can’t go to sleep at night then you always fall asleep before me. Which actually would be a good thing if someone came knocking on the door because then I could handle it!
I would know. I would sense it. Come on in!
I know you would! This is why I tell you because this is how it plays out in my mind. I am in my slumber and you wake up to the knocking and you go down and you of course let the person in and they’ve got a gun on you and they tie you up and let in the other people then I wake up like didn’t we talk about this? This is the one thing I told you not to do!
Ok fine I won’t do it I said but I was sort of lying and the matter being settled for now we got quiet and I looked out the window and there was a young girl walking down the street that looked like my niece and I thought she was coming up to the front door but she wasn’t she was just walking with her family down the road. All of them bundled up for the cold. Going to wherever it is people end up when you can't see them anymore.
Wait. It was Fire in the Sky I said. I just remembered. Nothing was ever scarier to me than that. Did you see that one I said and she said she hadn't.
I picked up my phone and there was the picture of Pete Buttigieg eating a shredded up Cinnabon like a buffalo wing and I felt uneasy about it like it was following me around. There should be a way to mute a photo I thought.
I looked out the window again and no one was there.
Then I saw that they were having some kind of blizzard in Los Angeles for the first time in forty years. My buddy posted some photos with the palm trees in the foreground looking California Normal and then there emerged the mountains in the background covered in snow but in a way that was slightly different than a mountain is usually covered in snow I guess is what he was trying to convey and it made me think not for the first time in my life that California isn’t real. I could probably convince people of that on the phone if I wanted to.
After that I saw a picture with the caption “Boy cleaning slaughterhouse in Nebraska. Photo provided by Department of Labor investigators. He was employed by PSSI, a cleaning company owned by Blackstone private equity firm,” and they have his face blurred out in the post because it’s considered bad form to share pictures of children online. You wouldn’t want them to be exposed to harm like that. There was another boy in the story who was thirteen years old and it said he worked twelve hours a day six days a week on an egg farm in Michigan.
“I’d like to go to school, but then how would I pay rent?” the boy told the newspaper.
It didn’t say if either of the boys had a favorite horror movie.
Next thing was I saw a tweet from some random guy that had posted a picture of some tents on the sidewalk in San Francisco and this guy wrote for God and everyone to see “We live down the street from this encampment. They are still there and have shown no signs of leaving. Meanwhile, people pay $30k for their kids to go to school with these people looking on…” and I thought one of these things is more profane than the other.
Sometimes I feel like I was born with all of the regret I was meant to have gradually accumulated over the course of my entire life already fully loaded into my software. A WeTransfer file someone dropped into my crib when my mother wasn’t looking and my fat little baby finger downloaded it.
I don’t know how to do computer metaphors but you understand me right?
Maybe it’s getting the bill before you’ve even eaten the meal. And with that the knowledge that I could perhaps prevent some of the regret by altering my behavior but with a stone unwillingness to do so. Like the chef comes out and tells you the entree you’re about to order will be raw and undercooked and will likely sicken you but you don’t believe them and are hungrier than ever for the worm meat now.
You take a little picture of the worm meat on your phone and the lighting is off so you try one more time.
D. was over there on the couch looking at her phone and laughing. No one was outside. No one was knocking at the door.
What I said and she goes it’s nothing really just a funny picture. Here she said and she was texting me the link and I already knew what it was going to be.