The 312 Wisteria Park Tapes

         Storytime again, folks.  Horror for Halloween, and it's another evil wicked mean and nasty one, in all ways.   If you need trigger warnings, consider yourself notified.   Everything's funny... until it's not.

          I may manage to type up another story or two before the Halloween month is up, but I am awful lazy so... we'll see.  I have a half dozen or so things already completed, other than revision,  and several more in the working stages, so anything's possible.

As always, if you want more, we have lots of it.   Here's a handy list o' links:

My stuff:
And little descriptions of actual nightmares I’ve had




                                                                The 312 Wisteria Park Tapes


                I know this is every misbehaving child’s excuse, but Eddie and his girlfriend Samantha started it.


                I came home from class and they were giggling over Samantha’s phone, that kind-of-guilty snickering that kids looking at pornography do.  It couldn’t be pornography, though – they did pornography, and I had to listen to it.  I’d even found some they uploaded to YouPorn, because Eddie’s careless with computers.


 I tried ignoring them and started putting together a sandwich, figuring they were either going to let me in on it or they weren’t, and I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of asking.  Eddie’s the kind you want to spite. 


                I tried to find leftover bacon but there’s no such thing, so I used bologna, the last refuge of the scoundrel.  They watched me, giggling like I was juggling the stuff instead of preparing it for consumption.


                Of course they couldn’t stand it and told me before I got the sandwich finished.  They leaned on the end of the bar and Eddie put the phone down and said, “Dude, you gotta hear this!”  Samantha smiled like she was going to bust open and splatter the room with glee.


                “I gotta, huh?”  I said.  “Who says?  Where’s your gun?”


                “I says,” Samantha said, clicking a thumb-and-index at me.  “Here.” 


                “You ain’t bigger than me, bitch.”   She’s not, either.  She’s like five-four, the shortest girl Eddie ever dated.  She made him look tall, and he’s a peesquirt.   She’s also too cute for him.  Every girl is.  How he ever got any I really don’t know.


                “Oh, shut up.  Here, just listen.”


                She poked the screen and I heard muffled conversation in angry tones, some argument somewhere.  From the midst of the babble a graveltruck of a voice rose up and howled, “AISSSS-hoe!  That’s all you are.  A-S-S-H-O-double-toothpicks!  Big ol’ trumpet asshole and the rest of you’s just wrapped around it like a butt-burrito, stuck to it with grime! Grout!  Grackle!  Somebody was to wipe you, you wouldn’t be NOTHIN’!”


                I laughed and Samantha leaned over, laughing so hard she couldn’t make any noise.  Eddie had his back to us but his shoulders were heaving. 


                Another more weedy voice said, “Well, you already ARE nothin’!  Without even gettin’ wiped!  Unwiped nothin’, that’s you and your fat fartin’ mama.”   He made walrus noises, malevolently obnoxious.


                “What is this?”  I laughed.  Eddie had withered to the floor at this point, and Samantha shushed me.


                “What you know about wiping anything?” the first voice barked.  “You just let it dry and WALK it off!  You are DEGENERATE!”  Then it dissolved into crossed voices shouting over each other.   One of them yelled “You are UNSUITABLE!” and then I was gone, laughing as hard as Eddie and Sam.


                I tried getting enough breath to ask again where they got this, but Samantha held up a finger, grinning.  I listened.


                “Least I can walk!”  the other voice said.  “You just… BEH!  You all… just… BEH-BEH-BEH!  Scoot all around like a ol’ SHIT!  Everywhere you go, just UHH-GUH-UH, like that!  Like some damn fuckin’ shit, that’s how YOU are!   Just huh-huh-huh-HUH!”


                I was howling by now, knowing we were missing some visual, but it all sounded so weird and stupid and put ridiculous pictures in my head.   “Right out of somebody’s nasty ol’ granddaddy BUTT!” the voice yelled with crazy anger, and Samantha paused it, then doubled over shrieking.  She was trying to say something, probably repeating what the guy had said, but it just came out as gasping squeaks.


                “Okay, what the hell is that?”  I asked.  “Where in hell’d you get it?   Is that…”  and I pointed.


                “Through the wall,” Eddie laughed, nodding.  “It’s the drunk-druggies next door.  They got in one of their fights, and they’re loaded.   It goes on for like half an hour.”


                “At first we were afraid they were going to kill each other,” Samantha said.  “Once we figured out they weren’t, it started getting hilarious.”


                “They are plastered,” Eddie laughed.  “To’ up from the flo’ up, then back down like a clown.  I think one of them eventually passed out and that’s the only reason they quit.”


                “One yelled at the other for about five minutes even after he passed out,” Samantha giggled.  “That’s hate, buddy.”


                Eddie, wheezing, said, “He called the passed out one a… a… a sleeping horse cunt.”


                Whore’s cunt,” Samantha said, in a tone that said they’d already argued over this.


                “Horse cunt’s funnier,” Eddie insisted.


                “Horse whore’s even better,” I said.  “Eddie lost his virginity to a horse-whore.  Like eight times he lost it.  In one weekend.  Cost him two hundred dollars worth of hay.”


                “Shut up,” Eddie said.


                “Sorry, I forgot I wasn’t supposed to tell,” I said.


                “Quit trying to be funnier than… “ he jerked a thumb at the wall.  “You will fail!”


                “Figured I’d fill in while they were sleeping,” I said, finally getting to take a bite out of my sandwich.  “So what do you plan on doing with that recording, G. Gordon?  Play it for the landlord so he’ll  insulate our cardboard-ass walls?  Or at least know the new tenants are about to kill each other?”


                “And that the old ones are eavesdroppers?”  Samantha said.


                I pointed at her.  “Even worse in my book.  Eavesdroppers are the worst.  Murder I can justify, especially if your roommate’s an unwiped nothin’.”


                “And an unsuitable one!” she said, and I pointed again.


                “Nah, I’m putting this bad boy on YouTube,” Eddie said.  “Going to have to work up some visual for it that’s not just the wall of the apartment.  Plus, we’re in it and I don’t want to be seen.”


                “That’s not what I heard,” I said.  They didn’t know I’d found the YouPorn clips but it was fun to make them wonder sometimes.  If you post video of yourself screwing, you deserve to live paranoid.  In retrospect, I wonder if Samantha knew that footage had been posted?  She never reacted when I hinted, but sometimes Eddie got a look to him.


                “The neighbors might beat our asses if they knew we recorded them,”  Eddie said.


                “Yeah, and if you take your faces out, they’ll never figure out who could have recorded them from the next apartment,” I said.  “Brilliant. It’s a brilliant plan, I’m sure you’ll get away with it.  No comeuppance in your future, no sir.  Too smarty-smart for that.”


                Eddie waved that off.  He always did a lot of waving when he was beaten in an argument.  He’d made the mistake of trying to defend the Republican party to me once and ended up looking like he was trying to flag down a plane.  “I figure I’ll get Pagan to make a cartoon for it.  He’s always wanting something to practice on.  With the right cartoon I bet this could get a million hits.”


                “Just what I always wanted,” I said.


                “No, man, people make money off YouTube.  For real money.  Like that asshole thinks he’s a wizard, that ugly fuck, rabbit-toothed vomit in a black leather jacket, you know the guy.   Or that spasmo with the beanie glued to his head.”   


                I shrugged.  I had no idea who he was talking about, but I’m not a big follower of YouTube.


                “Or that one chick who paid for college with it.  What’s her name, big crazy teeth, always talking about sex.  They’re like millionaires.”


                “If talking about sex paid, you’d not only cover college, you’d own this building and could put microphones right in their apartment.  Cameras, too.  Solve the great mystery, find out if they’re really wiping or not.”


                “Yeah, whatever.  I just figure if we’re going to have to put up with these morons hollering all the time we at least ought to get something out of it.”


                “How gloriously exploitative of you,” I said.  “You know Shut Up Little Man already did this, right?”


                Eddie claimed not to know what that was but I suspect he was trying to cling to the notion that he’d happened on something really original.  Samantha knew all about it, though, and she helped me explain to Eddie that back before the internet these two punk guys had pretty much invented the idea of “going viral” with tapes of their drunken neighbors fighting.  They’d recorded these guys verbally abusing each other and the tapes had been widely distributed on a tape-trading circuit.  Eddie was bummed to find that he hadn’t discovered any new concept but he was pleased to find that the whole thing had led to a documentary and a stage play.  He’s always doing OTB, off-track-betting on dog races and stuff, always wanting easy money, and he has an inflated idea of how much you can make from “going viral.”  Long shots are his plan A and he has no fallback.


                If it happened once, he reasoned, it could repeat.  Lightning could, perhaps, strike twice for the next generation.  Everything now was picked out of the past’s rubble and repeated, anyway.  Half the movies and TV shows were remakes of seventies-eighties-nineties.  People wore fucking fedoras.  Vinyl.  All the bands sounded like Sabbath or Zep. Having a lot of VHS made you cool.  Def Leppard were on more tee-shirts than they were when the drummer still had both arms.  Nobody made any sense.


                And even without the money, for some reason Eddie always wanted to be YouTube famous.  It didn’t seem to matter much that pretty much everyone who was a big deal there was the worst kind of a piece-of-shit, it still seemed like an achievable goal, something he could do if he only found the right gimmick to trip the public’s trigger.  He’d tried doing rants, but Eddie’s not particularly bright and he’s not half as funny as he thinks he is, so that went so ignored as to hurt his feelings.  Then he tried filming his dog (who he’d named Michael P. Reynolds because he thought having a dog with a name like that would be hilarious – see what I mean about him not being that funny?  Don’t try getting it, there’s nothing to get), but Mike’s tricks are fairly pathetic things, like rolling onto his back and showing you his balls, or covering his nose with his paws if you make a fart noise --- shit you’d have to be real drunk to get excited about.  Mike did get more hits than Eddie’s rants, though, which just hurt Eddie’s feelings worse.  You are less than dog balls, it told him.


                I don’t know how many hits the YouPorn vids got but I wasn’t pleased with being one of the few, the ashamed;  some things you’re just better off not knowing about your friends, like that their dicks, like their politics, swing right.


                Anyway, Eddie planned all sorts of things around the recording of the neighbors’ argument, and, like most things that Eddie gets interested in, he didn’t get around to actually doing much about it, and by the end of the week it was forgotten.


                Then the next weekend, the neighbors did it again.


·              *               *


“I ain’t give a shit, I ain’t!”  the voice through the wall roared.  “You watch that shit all the time and ain’t nothin’ ever happens!  Crap on it!  No… climb up a LADDER and crap on it!  FOOTBALL, you shit-fuck!  Hell yeah!  That is what we’re watching and fuck you and…”


                “Hell NO!  Teams ain’t no good!  Who wants to watch them?  Who cares?  It’s like…”


                “I want to watch, that’s who…”


                “… like watching two loaded diapers get smacked together.  And yeah, you’d want to watch that, because you love shit!  Oh, hooray, here’s some shit, that’s for me, I’m happy now, shit!  Mmm-WAH!


                Christ but they were loud.  Eddie rested the phone against the wall and had a hand jammed in his mouth to stifle the laughter.


                “I’m gonna shoot you…” one voice said, suddenly frosty and measured, “…right in your dumb pumpkin face.  And then I’m gonna sit down and watch the game through the hole in your head.”


                “Be the last game you ever watch, too,” the other voice said, not as loud now, actually scared.


                “How come would that be?  What you gonna do, haunt me?  HA!”


                “You’ll go back to prison, you shoot me.  Right back to the penitentiary and you’ll stay there for keeps, like they oughtta done the first time.  The world got no need of you running around in it.  You and your football horseshit whatev…” 


                Back to prison.  Interesting and scary thing to know about the neighbor. Can’t say it was surprising, though.


                “Shiiiiit, ain’t nobody put a man in prison for shooting a thing like you.  Shooting a bucket of shit ain’t illegal.”  He laughed like a triumphant lunatic.  “Don’t even send cops, just a guy with a mop and a thank-you card.  Public service, that’s what shooting you is.”


                “Yeah, you’ll find out.”


                “Bucket of shit!  And ain’t much bucket!  Hell, I ain’t see no bucket a’tall!”


                Eddie was struggling for breath, trying not to laugh out loud and get on the recording.  I wasn’t nearly as cracked up about it because I couldn’t see what was going on in that apartment.  If that one guy had a gun out then this wouldn’t be nearly as funny, despite all the “shits” and rock-‘em sock ‘em diaper imagery.  And this revelation that one of them had done time took a lot of the humor out of the thing.  This could turn into a comedy snuff tape.  Rather than going on YouTube, it might go into an evidence file.  The laughs could end any second with a couple of loud reports.


                Looking at Eddie I had a skin-crawly feeling that, just possibly, that might only make him laugh even harder.


                They shouted over each other, a tangle of hate you couldn’t decipher beyond the stand-out hard sounds of profanity.  They sounded unhinged, and I thought maybe we should call the cops, but – and this felt perverse, because it was team-Eddie – I didn’t want to spoil the recording.  There was a loud crash, somebody throwing something, I guess, then more shouting, -it, -uck, -unt.  The only times I’d heard voices so angry there’d been a hardcore band’s guitars backing them up.  This was post-Slipknot rage.   Despite Eddie trying to mold it into one, this was no performance, it was just dangerous conflict, real hate that could go anywhere.  The responsible thing to do was call the police before it turned into tragedy.


                One look at Eddie’s delighted grin showed me that nothing responsible would be happening.  I wasn’t going to do it, either, and mess up the tape for everybody.  I know, I suck at being a human being, and I’m paying for it, but that’s how it was.


                Things got quiet and then the voice-that-hadn’t-been-in-prison-(maybe) said, calmly and coldly, lust loud enough to pick up on the recording if you jacked the levels, “You finish that drink.  Then you’ll pass out.  And when you do I’ll get a knife.”   Just flat, no blood pressure behind it, not a threat, just the most convincing statement intending violence I ever heard.  Even Eddie stopped his grinning.


                “You would do some bitch shit like that, wouldn’t you?” Mr. Prison said.  “You gonna be a bitch, well, then, I ought to start fucking you.  Tell you what, bitch.  I pass out?  You do what you gone do.  You pass out first, you’ll wake up tied to the bed and your name’ll be Charlene.  And my name’ll be my name and you’ll be yelling it ‘cuz that’s what I like.”


                This prompted more yelling and Eddie was back to laughing again, but I was done.  I went off to my room and I’ve never even heard the recording of the rest of that fight, even though Eddie assures me it was “hilarious.”



·           *      *


Mr. Prison’s name, we figured out, was Randy.  Mr. Knife-You-In-Your-Sleep was Glenn.


                Eddie scoured pawn shops until he found a pretty good professional tape deck, a reel-to-reel four-track job like they’d record live bands with back in the good ol’ days.  It came with some serious-business-looking microphones.  It was Eddie’s new toy to help him play with his other new toy, Randy and Glenn.  Now that he’d sunk money into recording them, he felt like he owned them.  It had been a dead-born idea to expect a guy who puts his own most intimate moments on YouPorn to respect anyone else’s privacy, especially if cash or attention was on the table.


                Randy and Glenn were accommodating.  Almost as soon as Eddie set up his rig they started another fight.  This one was about mayonnaise, and even I thought that was funny.  They were always ready to kill each other over anything.


                “Hey, Randy.  Randy.  Did you eat up all the mayonnaise?”  Glenn asked.


                “I don’t know.  I hope I did, though,” said Randy.  “That’d be awesome, all the mayonnaise.  God, think of it.”


                “You musta.  Ain’t none left.”


                “Aw.  Guess you’ll have to use butter to lube up your dildo, then, queer-hole.”


                “When you finish a thing, you’re supposed to write it on the god-damn LIST!” Glen said, getting loud now.  The needles on Eddie’s new old tape deck ticked on the last word.  “I went to the store today and I would have bought more mayonnaise and there’s have been no problem.  Now I’ve already been and don’t wanna go again for a week and we’ve got no fucking mayonnaise!”


                “Use butter.  Or Vaseline,” Randy said, infuriatingly lackadaisical.  “Or just grit your teeth and raw-dog yourself.”


                “I am trying to make a SANDWICH, shitbrick!”  There was  temper-tantrum clomping, probably Glenn pounding the empty plastic jar on something.  “IIIIIIIIIII… AMMMMMM…. TRYINNNNNG!”   He paused, then.  “TO… MAKE… A… SANDWIIIIICH!”   Tick-tick-ticktick.


                “A shitbrick sandwich, got ya,” Randy said, calm enough to barely register.  “And poke a dildo in your ass.  Use butter.”


                I HATE YOU!”  Glenn yelled.  He could have yelled “happy birthday” and the tone would still have made the hate abundantly clear.  God.  “You can’t even… all you have to do, it’s not much to ask, all you have to do is put things on the list!”


                “Well, guess I forgot, sorry.”   Even through the wall he didn’t sound sorry.  He sounded pleased.


                “Well, you can go to the store, right now, and buy the mayonnaise your damn dumb self.”


                “Glenn.  Glenn… honeychile,” Randy laughed.  “Glenn, I just took, like, three of those blue things from Johnny Ray.”  Randy laughed.  “I ain’t goin’ nowhere for the next sixteen hours or so but Alpha Centauri.  Alfalfa Centuar-ity.  Twentieth Century Fox.  Whoo-hoo-hoo-wooooo.  Widescreen Technicolor spacefuck.  Me, there, soon.”


                “The hell!  I’m trying to make a sandwich!”


                “Drop a couple of these blues, you won’t care about no sandwich or what-not.  You won’t know what a sandwich is anymore.   Take one, they’re anti-bitch-ass pills and you need ‘em.  Take, hell, take like fourteen, never come back.”  He laughed.


                “Fuck you, I hate you, I hate you and I hate you, you are a nothing.”


                “Woo-woo, I am the nothing!” Randy shouted, delighted.  “Hey.  Hey, you mad, bro?”  He laughed.  “We cross?”


                “Keep laughing,” Glenn said.  “Go on, keep laughing. I’ll make you a wider mouth to laugh with.  All the way back to your ears, ha ha HA!   Wanna be a muppet?”  There was a clatter; I guess Glenn threw a beer can.  “Let you laugh out of your neck.  How about that?”


                “Hey… you mad?”  Randy laughed.  “I don’t know, you act all mad. You seem mad to me.”


                “Fuck you.  Go on, trip out, go on.”


                “Ain’t gotta tell me, I got no choice.  You take the blue things, you GONE trip.  Take you some.  Here.  I got plenty.  I sold them college squirt-offs most of it, but I saved plenty back.  So many I can waste a few on you.  So here you go.  Be a sport.”


                “Naw.  You just trip.”


                “I am, I am,” Randy muttered.  “Oh, I am, don’t you worry, don’t you fret.  Too late now.  Really, you mad, though?  Don’t be mad.  No sense a’tall being mad at me.  In ten minutes or so I’m gonna be a total stranger.  Dude you’re mad at… ain’t home.  Dave’s not home, man!”  He laughed.


                Things went quiet for maybe half an hour, then Randy started screaming, and Glenn started laughing like a lunatic.  I thought murder was happening, but all Eddie did was start his tape again.  Laughing-and-screaming went on for a while and I had to figure no violence was going on, and Glenn was doing spooky stuff to set the drugged-out Randy on a bad trip.  God, who’d do hallucinogens in the company of either of these mean-spirited psychopaths?  It was unthinkable.


                Randy yelped, crazy shrieks of desperate panic, and Glenn laughed so hard he was wheezing.  Any sadist laughing that hard at my expense would be pure uncut nightmare.  I’d never even seen Randy and he still scared me, but I couldn’t help feeling sympathy for him.  Whatever he was experiencing on the other side of that wall, in his blue-things-from-Johnny-Ray dimension, sounded worse than anything most people would ever live through.   And the degree to which it amused Glenn was very disturbing.  He was putting his friend through hell for forgetting to put something on a shopping list.  Jesus.


                Eddie wasn’t much better.  Smiling like a creep pulling wings off flies, he leaned toward me and whispered, “I would love to see what the hell Glenn is doing!”


                Yeah, you would, asshole, you really would, I thought, wondering if Eddie was really any better than our degenerate neighbors.  Randy’s screaming ticked the needles on the tape deck like flies trying to escape a jar, and Eddie had to be insane if he thought anyone would find this funny.


·              *        *


But they did.  That made it even worse.


                Samantha, to her credit, didn’t find “Randy’s Bad Trip,” as Eddie named the recording, amusing.  That gave me back some of my faith in humanity.


                Then thousands of people on YouTube took it away again, took it away, pushed it off a cliff, and threw their shit after it.   I hate people, I really do.


                Too impatient to wait for his friend Pagan to finish animating the first couple of recordings, Eddie patched together some psychedelic effects from some 60’s druggie horror movies and uploaded “Randy’s Bad Trip” to YouTube.  Within a week it was doing six-figure views and people were “LOL”ing all over the comments section with heartless joy, guessing at what Glenn had done to fucked-up blue-thinged Randy, everything from a rat down his pants to a dick in his face.  It seemed to bring out the worst in everyone, and considering the number of commenters saying “I bet he won’t forget the mayo again, LOL!” they were all on the idiotic side of things.   The spelling was head-injury quality on most of it, and the rest nonsensical 4-Chan conformo-slang, “Based,” all that lameoid wanna-belong-to-the-tribe shit.  It made you want to burn the world down, and I hoped that getting a look at the kind of morons he was appealing to would discourage Eddie.


                Eddie, however, never gets discouraged by attention, regardless of the source.  He was delighted.  It was like he’d won the lottery.  No, more like he’d struck oil;  a lottery you win and it’s done.  Glenn and Randy, though, were a natural resource to keep exploiting.  Pump, pump, pump, drill, baby, drill.  Now there was an audience to feed, and Eddie, Eddie was all giggling ill-will.


                When the animation was finished on the other recordings and posted later in the week, it only got worse.  The YouTube hits went way up, even though I thought Pagan’s animated parts weren’t much of anything; he’s good at technology but hasn’t got much sense of humor or imagination, and thinks memes are “witchcraft.”  Pagan brags that he has Asperger’s, even though Eddie thinks he fakes it.  Regardless, Eddie felt like the next Walt-frickin’-Disney and became more obsessed with the Glenn-And-Randy-Show than ever.  He lost sleep watching his YouTube hits climb.  Probably courted carpal tunnel from hitting refresh.  He started multiple Twitter accounts to post links and obsessed over his “likes.”


                For their part, Glenn and Randy didn’t cooperate that much that week.  There was only one argument loud enough to hear through the wall and it was brief and of the fuck-me?-no-fuck-YOU variety, nothing quotable or even interesting.  It’s a little hard to describe on paper, but prime Glenn and Randy fights aren’t just funny lines, but also include an element of terror.  You feel like things could escalate to violence at any second, and all it will take is the wrong word being said, the wrong look to trip a trigger, and then, blood.  


                Randy, at least, had done some prison time, apparently for something violent, and Glenn’s mind always seemd to come back to murderous fantasies.  And a whole lot of booze and drugs were laying a lot of black ice on the highway these two trucks-with-bad-brakes were speeding down.  Some scary shit seemed sure to happen, you just couldn’t be sure if this time was going to be the time.  And, in some sick way it’d take a psychologist to unknot, that makes it funnier.


                I’m not sure Eddie was bright enough to pick up on that undercurrent.  Of if he was a good enough person to care.  All it did was excite him, think of it through the view of his sick audience, and made him giggle at their rage and misery.


                Maybe he even hoped for violence.  Maybe the kinds of people who viewed Glenn and Randy as comedy would view the death of one or the other as just the big boffo punch line to the whole joke, the slapstick punchline to the skit.  It was hard to feel much sympathy for either of the toxic creeps.  There was no one to side with there.  They were both miserable and part of the humor – or at least the satisfaction – was that they were both assholes who probably rated no better than their shit lives.  They’d probably be happier apart, but that likely meant they’d each find a victim.  There were no real victims in their current living arrangement;  they deserved each other.


                God, I hoped Eddie and I didn’t.


·            *      *


           There was a lot of cross-talk on the tape and then Glenn shouting, “…better hope she’s got other pills besides the kind you sold her is all I’m saying, ‘cuz the two of you would make some ugly-ass, ass-ugly babies.”


                “How you know?  You ain’t even seen her,” Randy said.


                “Don’t need to.  If you’re involved in the engenderment process…”


                “Hooray, it’s Mr. Dictionary, come to pay us a visit with his fancy words!”


                “…in the engenderment process…”


“He done got at the big-word store!”


                “… then the babies are gonna be ugly as botoxed sin.  Like crapping in cake mix, whatever else is in there, still nobody’s gonna want a bite.  Good god.  Even if the girl looks like Farrah Fawcett-Majors, which she don’t or she wouldn’t have nothin’ to do with a shoe-scraping like you, them babies would come out looking like the business part of somebody’s butt.”


                Randy said something low and unintelligible. 


                Glenn interrupted him with “Hell, Farrah Fawcett-Majors has been dead a long time now, maybe she does look like her now.  Bet she does.  And smells half as nice.”


                “Farrah was what, bicentennial?  You need to update your list of pretty girls to compare to.  ‘Boy, that Clara Bow was some fine piece!  Marlene Dietrich!’   Don’t fart no dust on me, Groucho  You been hangin’ out with Moses, I bet.”


                “I’m two years older than you.  Two.  So you can take Moses and put him in your hat, and sit on him.”


                “And don’t even know how a hat works, either.  Jesus.”


                “Works that way for you because you don’t know your head from your ass, no how.  Which nobody can blame you for since the faces and breath are the same.”


                “Well, anyhow, she’s coming over tomorrow night and you are gonna be polite or you’re gonna be bleeding real bad, you understand me?  Real bad.  You wanna see some red lights all over, just you act rude.”


                “Ah, fuck you, I’m always polite,” Glenn said, and then there was a huge BRONK! fart noise that I hoped he’d done with his mouth, but if he did, boy, he sure was talented at it.    Just hearing it made me want to change my pants.


                “Well, you’re gonna be tomorrow night, or blood.  Blood everywhere.   Randy hissed the last word and I got a chill.  Even though it was standard Glenn/Randy banter I felt sure Randy was capable of it, almost hoping for an excuse.


                “Yeah, yeah.  Don’t worry, I’ll be nice to your old ugly girl.  Just point me out which end I’m supposed to talk to, so I’ll know.”


                Eddie shut off the tape, grinning like he’d hit a Lotto number.  “Randy’s got a girrrrlll-frieeeend!!” he sang, shaking gleeful fists.


·              *       *


             The next night Eddie staked out the hallway, determined that he was going to get a look at this girl and film her with his phone.  I warned him to back off from meddling in these people’s miserable-enough-already lives, but that was like spitting at a housefire.  Eddie would not be deterred from being a turd.


                He was about as inconspicuous as Richard Spencer at a bar mitzvah, loitering in the hall half the afternoon with his phone held to his head like he was having some trouble getting a signal in the apartment.  He collected three false-alarm snippets of other neighbors minding their own business, entering their own apartments.


                But, finally, persistence paid off.  And if you were looking for the kind of curdled awfulness that Eddie was looking for, Randy’s girlfriend – her name turned out to be Tammy, which was damn near perfect for Eddie’s purposes – was central casting.


                Tammy dressed like she had no clue how ugly she was.  I found it hard to believe anybody in the company she kept hadn’t told her, so I guess she didn’t believe them.  Or maybe their standards were super-low, or it was just really dark under the rocks where they congregated.  Her hair wasn’t just teased, it was bullied, and had been through enough peroxide to outfit a M*A*S*H unit.  She didn’t have shoe enough to stub out a cigarette with, and her body looked like a blind man had picked out clothes from a K-Mart fire sale and stuffed them with pudding.  Nothing was the right size, all tight as the skin on a sausage, with her top riding up and spilling bare pale moley flesh like a cracked-open tube of chocolate chip cookie dough.  And she didn’t let the fact that she didn’t even seem to have lips stop her from wearing way too much lipstick, in a color usually limited to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  She appeared to be takes-a-lotta-pills-and-smokes-three-packs-a-day years old.  She looked like somebody’s comedy wrestling gimmick.


                And her looks were the best thing about her.


                I wondered if she knew she was being recorded, because she was more than accommodating with the volume.  If she said anything that wasn’t stupid I missed it…and you couldn’t miss it, no more than you could miss an air-raid siren crammed in your ear like a Bluetooth.  Jesus fuck.


                Eddie was delighted.  He also got footage of Randy, who stepped out in the hall like a gentleman to escort her in.


                After seeing Randy I really wanted this escapade to stop.  He was around six-two and looked like he’d done nothing in prison but lift weights… and it was a long stretch.  His shoulders crowded out his neck.  His face was all squat and squinty and cat-like, hard enough to strike a match on, with a ratty Fu Manchu mustache.  Somebody’d really dug a groove in his forehead with something sometime, leaving a scar that pulled in shadow.  His hair was gray-streaked black and hung limp and greasy to his shoulders.


                Randy would have to settle for nightmare-fuel like Tammy because any woman with any other options at all would have found him terrifying.  There was Sasquatch DNA in there somewhere.  I still hadn’t seen Glenn but I knew if he was bad-enough-ass to even play with the idea of arguing with this monster then he wasn’t going to be someone I wanted any part of, either.  Jesus Christ, if Eddie was sane at all, the sight of Randy would shut down the Glenn ‘n’ Randy YouTube Funtime Hour right goddamn then, right goddamn there.  Shut it down and pull the re-runs.


                Eddie, alas, was not sane.  “We’re never going to get caught,” he’d argue.  “You think those people even use the Internet?  Come on.”


                I argued that Randy had learned about Clara Bow somewhere, but Eddie never listens to shit, he just did more of that waving-off thing he does.


                The audio of this session started with an obnoxiously loud screech of “How YEW?!” from Tammy that Eddie would imitate at least once an hour for the next week and which I feared would become a permanent thing.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly a “how YEW?!” can wear out its welcome when one isn’t dead-set on finding every damned thing hilarious.


                “Fine, and how’s yourself?” Glenn said in a way I found actually rather gentlemanly, but Eddie thought very mockable. 


                Then there were at least ten tedious minutes of where-I’m-from, where-you’re-from (with far too many highway numbers and directions, as if they were actually going to drive there) and do-you-know-so-and-so’s that even Eddie couldn’t pretend was any funnier than crib death.  Eddie paced and frowned like a director whose actors were forgetting their script on opening night.  His little puppets were being boring normal people and it was nearly throwing him into a panic.


                Randy took great pride in having made spaghetti.  All he’d done was brown ground beef, add a jar of sauce (“the good Paul Newman kind”), and boil the spaghetti, but apparently this was quite a feat of “cooking” since most of his meals came from cans or frozen dinners.  “Ah eat frozen dinners, but Ah’m fancy about it!”  Tammy yawped.  “Ah take them out of the tray and put them on a plate so it’s nice!”


                “Well law-dee-dah at you!” Randy teased, and she cackled, and Eddie snorted like he’d finally struck gold.  I rolled my eyes; none of it was that funny, and the eavesdropping on this pitiful attempt at the most meager of happiness just seemed mean.


                “Ooo, and you got the cheese,” Tammy said.  “Par-mee-zi-an.  Ah love cheese on spaghetti!”


                “I like cheese on about anything but birthday cake,” Glenn said, which Tammy seemed to find very witty, and which Eddie found hilarious because it wasn’t.


                “Cheesecake!”  Tammy said.  “Ah don’t think that’s really cheese.  Cream cheese.  That ain’t cheese.  More like puddin’.”


                “Now, pudding I’ll put on birthday cake,” Glenn said, and there was a bunch of crosstalk and they may have gone into another room because it wasn’t loud enough to hear them for a few minutes.  They were remarkably loud people and we had terrifyingly thin walls but Eddie – ever since our burden had turned into a marketable commodity – was vexed by how much we missed of this noise-that-had-formerly-been-an-annoyance-to-us.  He’d have bugged their house if he could have, and in fact planned ways to do it as his obsession grew.


                When they became audible again they were discussing some racist shit I’m not even going to repeat; let’s just say that nobody in Eddie’s little fishbowl was anyone you’d want to have to claim as a relative.  Eddie, who wanted them detestable so there’d be less guilt involved in laughing at them, treated it as if he’d struck more gold.  Tammy revealed that her “Christmas job at the WalMart” (Eddie thought the “the” was just funny as a grandmama’s poot and quoted it from then on) put her in contact with a bunch of non-whites and “foreigners” and that was “almost enough to make me hate Christmas if the Lord’ll forgimme.”   Randy talked about a construction job and how he hated “people who don’t hate ‘em” almost as bad as he hated ‘em.  How this shit made Eddie giggle I don’t know; I wanted a shower, and another state to live in, and a rain of nukes dropped on this one.   Strangely, Randy was more open-minded about “fags,” at least for a guy who used the word “fag.”   Maybe it was from interacting with gays in prison.  Tammy, however, had no tolerance for them and said some awful shit, a lot of which she claimed were quotes from the Bible.  They were not; I checked.  She was just co-signing God to her own narrow-mindedness to make it not be a sin.


                In any case, they were a group who seemed happiest talking about what they hated, and I could imagine Eddie writing the YouTube comments in his head.


                Dinner was served and Tammy made a big deal about the spaghetti and Glenn was on his best behavior and it was all so boring, so mundane that I almost laughed watching Eddie bounce in his seat and gnaw his lip listening to it, waiting for the next “You are UNSUITABLE!” sound bite to arrive.  It never did.  Sometimes even assholes just have a pleasant boring evening and we wasted around two hours straining to hear it.   After dinner they argued over sports but it wasn’t heated and generated no interesting lines.


                It was kind of fun seeing Eddie so bummed out, even though I wasted a night, too.


·             *      *


            “I am going to separate you!”  Randy howled.  “They are going to find you dead in every room of this house!”


                “Big talk,” Glenn said, although he sounded scared.  It’d be impossible not to be.  “Big fuckin’ ta….”


                “You better like talk!”  Randy yelled over him.  “Yo’ ass better love you some talk, because when I stop talkin’ I’m gone start cutting and you know what I can do!  Don’tcha?  You remember Lawford, right?  Remember him?  Yeaaaah-heah, I bet you remember him!  I bet you don’t sleep so good from remembering him!  And Gordie?  What I done to his eye? And you piss me off any better than you have been and I’ll make you look like Lawford looks like Cinderella!”


                Glenn, smarter than we gave him credit for, went silent.  I guess he did remember Lawford and Gordie, whoever they were, and whatever Randy had done to them.


                “I’ll gut you and use you for a canoe,” Randy rumbled, breaking something.  “I’ll need one because there’ll be a river of blood!”


                The fight, as well as I could piece it together, was over the TV listings from Sunday’s newspaper.  Randy thought Glenn had thrown them out, even though Randy bought the paper “pacifically” for them, and Glenn claimed drunken-drug-ass Randy had misplaced them somewhere “or wiped your ass with ‘em for all I know, but probably not since you never learned such things as ass-wiping.”   In any case, it was a totally reasonable thing to plot murder over if you were Randy, torqued on whatever Randy had swallowed or snorted.


                Eddie wasn’t even home, but I had started the recording for him, hating myself for doing it.  Now I was thinking it might be something to show to the cops.   I was thinking of calling them, but if they didn’t take these guys away permanently then they’d know who called the law on them and Randy’d be over here next.  I didn’t want to blip that guy’s radar.  And I’m not proud of it but I almost hoped he’d go ahead and cut Glenn up so he could be safely sent to prison.  It was like living next to a bomb, regardless of how excited Eddie was about his YouTube hits.


                “I ain’t gotta listen to this shit,” Glenn said.


                “You gotta listen to whatever I say you’ll listen to.  Shit, you’re lucky I ain’t fuckin’ you.”


                “Fuck yourself,”  Glenn said, and the door to their apartment slammed.


                Randy yelled a bunch of stuff and I peeked out the window to the street and got my first look at Glenn.  He was a short fire-plug of a guy, short legs, big square hands, stout but solid.  He’d gone bald without accepting it, and the hair on the sides of his head was rather bushy, while what little was on top  hung over him like smog.  His shoulders were broad and his head was squarish like a cinderblock and stuck forward like a semi-hunchback, and he had a bit of a limp that made him sway to and fro while he walked.  His face reminded me of a catcher’s mitt, battered and scarred but tough.  Punching it would do nothing.  He looked like a guy who you’d not want to get his hands on you.


                Yep, there goes Glenn, I thought, that fits.   He was scowling so hard it was probably carving grooves on his skull.


                “Kill that bitch,” Randy was chanting.  “Kill that bitch kill that bitch KILL THAT BITCH!”  He was so mad I could hear him breathing.    The wall between us felt about as much of a safe barrier against his rage as a curtain would.  Sheetrock ain’t more than fog to a real psychopath gone cranked up.


                After a while he went quiet, so I stopped the tape.



·               *        *


              When Glenn came back, about four hours later, carrying a case of booze, all the animosity was forgotten and he and Randy were laughing  about something.  I don’t know if the booze was intended as a peace offering or counted as routine groceries, but it settled Randy down.  Or maybe he’d just decided it was no fun to be mad.


                Out of nowhere he announced, “Tammy’s got a tight pussy.  You’d think she wouldn’t, but she does.”


                “Aw hell no, you gotta be joking,” Glenn said.  “She’s like a truckstop… a, what, lot lizard.”


                Randy laughed hard.  “I know!  But, she does!   Hard to push in there more’n a dozen times before ya spout.”


                “Cripes, she’s had, what, six kids?   She kept naming ‘em…”


                “Two,” Randy said.  “You probably got misconbobulated with all them dogs and cats she won’t never shut up about.  She only had two kids.  A boy up in Pelican Bay, and she had a girl died when she was a baby.  Went toxic or something.”


                “Went toxic?  How do you go toxic?”


                “Hell, I don’t know, some baby disease they get, some infection.  I don’t ask her about it because it’s a sad thing.”


                “Hell, I guess.  My momma’s be pretty bummed out if I hauled off and went toxic.”


                They laughed at that.   Eddie would, too, I was sure.  Eddie was more like them than he’d want to admit, all the nastiness and trash but without the menace.


                “What’s the boy in Pelican Bay for?”  Glenn asked.


                “Aw, some robbery shit went wrong, shot a couple people.  They didden even die but he got a shit lawyer and a hardass judge, caught the whole book, just like if they had died.”


                “Well, they might still.  They might go toxic!”  More laughing.


                “We ought not laugh about that, you know.  It’s sad,” Randy finally said.


                “Yeah.  I just think of a baby going bad, like a peach with a  bad spot on it.  Can’t help it, that’s funny shit.”


                “I reckon.  Just don’t say nothin’ about it to Tammy, though.”


                “Aw, I ain’t.  I ain’t no asshole.” 


                Randy and I both snorted at that.


                Glenn continued.  “Anyhow, Tammy’s alright.  ‘Bout pretty as a mud fence, but I wouldn’t wanna hurt her feelings none.  Especially not now that I know… you know.”


                “Hey, it’s tight for me.  For you it might be throwin’ a hot dog down a hallway.” 


                “Fuck you,” Glenn said, but laughing.  “Anyhow, you can have it.”


                “Yeah, I can.  Yep!”  Didn’t take much to make Randy smug.  “And on that note, think you could go someplace Saturday, so I could bring her here?  I’d appreciate ya.”


                “Aw, shit, now.”


                “Come on, now, just ‘til midnight or so.  Go see a couple movies or something.”


                “Hell, I oughtta be able to find something better than a movie to get into.  Hell.  Okay, but you owe me.  Mark it down.”


                “It’s marked, it is marked.”


                Turns out Eddie, no respecter of privacy, marked it, too.



·              *        *


        I left pretty soon after it started.  No way was I going to listen to Randy and Tammy clapping uglies or watch Eddie giggle while they did it.     

He got a whole lot of YouTube hits off of “Randy Gets Him Some!” but it was over the line for me.  I did go to the movies.  I didn’t listen to the tape, either, other than bits that were forced on me.  They were off in a bedroom so it was almost too faint to hear, other than Tammy calling out for God and Jesus and a whole host of saints at one point, and Eddie found that funny as hell.  It wasn’t.  It’s just a thing people do and I didn’t see much comedy in it.  It meant Randy was a good lay, if anything.  Samantha hadn’t hollered like that for Eddie when they made their porno, and she knew she was on camera.  Probably.


                Randy and Glenn were okay to laugh at when their interactions were forced on us, when they had no concern for bothering the neighbors, but when they were trying to be private, I said to let ‘em.  But they were just Eddie’s lab rats now.


                And you know what you do with lab rats.


                Eddie started messing with them about a week later.


                He came up with all kinds of dodgy terms for what he did but what it is is breaking and entering.  Yeah, using a “bump key” you learned about on the internet technically doesn’t “break” anything, but come on, man, it’s a semantical difference at best.  Eddie went in their damn apartment without permission.  Technically he didn’t steal anything, just re-arranged some stuff, but it amounts to criminal activity.  Eddie’s attempt to label it “creepy-crawling” after what the Manson family used to do only made it worse if you ask me.  Manson’s a bad go-to for prettying up a thing.


                I don’t know what all Eddie did, but I heard the resulting arguments.


                “You losin’ your damn mind or something?”  Randy asked.


                “What?”  Glenn.


                “You done put your damn shoes in the freezer.  Right on top of the hamburger meat, too, which is real hygenious.”  (Eddie thought this was “high-genius” which is an instance where Randy seemed more intelligent than the guy mocking him).  “What is that, something dumbshits are doing now?  The new thing among dumbshit culture.  ‘I’m gone put my shoes in the freezer, hey now, that’d be smart.   Ever’body will admire me, yeah boy.’  Shit.”


                “I don’t know what’n hell you talkin’ ‘bout.”


                “Scamper over and take you a look.”   I guess Glenn didn’t scamper because Randy said, “I said scamper, damn ya!”  (Eddie quoted that for days).


                “What you doing putting my shoes in the damn freezer for?”


                “I didn’t put ‘em there.  Last thing I’m out for is TV dinners that taste like your rot-ass feet.  You put ‘em there.”


                “You’re crazy.  I didn’t put them there.  I don’t want frozen shoes.”


                “You don’t want anybody to know you want frozen shoes.”  There was a racket that was probably Randy tossing all the ice into the sink.  Hygenious.  “You trying to soothe your bunions or something?”


                “I didn’t put ‘em there, I’m telling you.”  Glenn sounded madder than you’d figure.  “You must’ve put ‘em in there when you was high.”


                “Son, they don’t make high high enough to go playin’ around with no shoes of yours.  I don’t remember everything I mighta done when I come back from Pillsburg, but I know I didn’t do no shit like that.  Besides, I ain’t tripped since I bought that hamburger.”


                “Well, I didn’t do it, for sure and no shit.  Maybe Tammy.”


                “Tammy ain’t been over since I bought that hamburger, either.  Also, she ain’t crazy looneytoons.”


                “Well, we got goddamn ghosts, then, because I didn’t put my shoes in the fuckin’ freezer,  I wouldn’t put ‘em in there because I don’t want ‘em in there!  Might ruin ‘em.”


                “Them’s already rurnt.”


                “Well, they kinda is, but I ain’t put ‘em in there, whatever!”


                “You sure get mad when you get caught being a weird-ass.”


                “I… DID… NOT… DOIT!


                Glenn apparently threw something because there was a bunch of shouting about don’t-be-throwing-stuff, I’ll-snatch-a-bone-out-of-you-and-whup-you-with-it, lots of scary-ass Eddie-pleasing stuff that I really hated to hear because it meant he’d hit pay dirt and was going to keep lab-rattin’ these psychotics.  Anybody who wasn’t laughing too hard could see trouble coming.


·             *        *


              Putting a teddy bear (or as Glenn called it to Eddie’s delight, a “titty-bear”) in Randy’s bed was just dumb.  It was a dead giveaway that   outside forces were messing with them, because even Randy knew Glenn wouldn’t bother going out and spending drug-booze-and-maybe-pussy money on a stuffed animal.  Even Eddie figured out it’d been a too-cute-by-half overreach and it was the first time I saw him looking a little scared by what he was doing.  I thought maybe he’d quit.


                But Eddie drinks, too.  And fear’s the first thing that drunk-Eddie forgets.  Eddie’s one of these guys who, once his blood alcohol level gets around you-better-not-drive, starts thinking MMA fighters really aren’t all that tough and that a bigger dude’s size advantage is just a matter of him not having been kicked in the side of the knee yet.  A lot of get-your-ass-kicked faith, that’s what beer gave Eddie.


                Damn thing is, what started him drinking was being nervous.  Talk about the wrong medicine for the ailment?  Yeah. 


                So he gets brave, and dumb, and greedy, and he went in to do some more “pranking” of his lab rats.  


                And that’s how he eventually learned that even career criminals who seemed as stupid and primitive as Randy and Glenn had extensive, expert knowledge in the area of security cameras.


·             *      *




            Eddie wondered a little what they were doing over there when he heard a drill going, but it made him curious instead of suspicious, and that was his problem.  I say all of that like it means Eddie was super-stupid but I’ll admit I didn’t get too paranoid about it, either.  So maybe I’m stupid, too, but in my defense I wasn’t breaking into some druggie ex-cons’ apartment, so the price tag on me being stupid wasn’t nearly as high.   But I should have been more paranoid on Eddie’s behalf.  Or on my own, since I lived with the dumb bastard.  Maybe I would have if I hadn’t been getting so annoyed with him at the time.


                I don’t know where Randy and Glenn set the cameras up, I just know they did.  We’d dismissed them as dumbasses who’d never catch on and who we could outwit if they did, but what can I say, monkey use tool.   Must’ve hurt them to part with some booze-and-dope money, but curiosity’s a demanding bitch.  Let a “titty-bear” just show up in your house and see if she doesn’t put the spurs on and mount you up.  They knew they were getting fucked with and, God only knows why, but guys like Glenn and Randy have their pride.  Especially when breaking and entering was their game.  Eddie might as well have been at a stoplight, revving his engine at Dale Earnhardt.


                It would’ve all been moot if Eddie had just stayed the hell out of there, but there’s a reason he has a scar for damn near every cut he’d ever gotten:  he picked at scabs.  He had to.  He was one of those guys.


                He went in to steal some of Randy’s dirty underwear (briefs) and hide them under Glenn’s (boxers) bed in an easy-to-find shoebox with a tube of Vaseline in it, framing Glenn as some sort of sexual pervert with a thing for Randy, lighting the fuse of a highly-implausible bomb that Eddie was sure was going to be hilarious when it went off, and would provoke all kinds of exploitable dialogue if it didn’t just trigger Randy to rape Glenn or maybe cause a homicide.  Eddie was willing to gamble it, of course.  Anything short of murder would probably go viral.


                When that didn’t get a reaction fast enough, Eddie broke in again to smear mayonnaise on the remote control.  Then he broke in again and planted gay porn.  Then again to take a shit and leave the toilet unflushed.  He may have done more I don’t know about.  Too bad for him that bump-key thing worked as well as it did, since it made it all too easy.  Add learning how to do it to the list of ways YouTube fucked him.


                Eddie couldn’t figure out why none of his provocations were getting a reaction.  Not only were they never addressed, but Glenn and Randy were getting along better now, getting along like guys with a common enemy.


                Yeah.  And we thought Glenn and Randy were the stupid ones.


                Eddie should have put it together.   I know it made me nervous, but I wasn’t being listened to at that point.  I was a naysayer, bringing him down when he was down enough.


                Then this other guy showed up, and he really scared the hell out of me.  I don’t know why, and I don’t know what role he played in everything that followed, although in retrospect I have my suspicions.


                We saw him in the parking lot, where Glenn and Randy met him.  He drove a huge black pickup truck, brand new, everything black, black rims that looked like gunmetal, everything.  His name, I made out, was Jojo.  He was unusually tall and emaciated like a suit of fancy dark clothes stuffed with broomsticks.  I don’t’ know if Jojo was albino or just super-blonde but he had this very thin silvery towhead hair that was cut in very high bangs in front and a mullet in the back, all so limp it was slicked to his head like he’d just emerged from some swamp.  His resting face was a sneer and keeping his crooked teeth covered took effort.  There just wasn’t enough meat on his face; his cheekbones looked like they might slice through.  He wore tinted shooting glasses and exuded creepiness like it’s radiation.  Even his movements were slow, lizard-slink.  He looked like any time you frisked him you were going to find a straight razor and what-else.  Maybe some candy for the kids.


                Even though Jojo probably couldn’t lift more than sixty pounds and you could snap him across your knee, he was somehow scarier than Randy, even.  Randy and Glenn certainly seemed awed by him, like they could slap him around but if they did he’d summon an army of rats.


                Jojo, you knew, was a guy with connections to the Great Darkness.  A mover and shaker in the Land Of Horrible Stuff.


                Randy and Glenn likely wouldn’t bother dealing with anyone who wasn’t a criminal.  They definitely wouldn’t defer to anyone who wasn’t.  And they walked around Jojo like he was nitroglycerine.  They looked toward our apartment, making me cringe, then got into Jojo’s giant truck with him and sat there an hour behind the black tinted glass.


                Draw your own conclusions.  I sure did.


                Eddie, the idiot, didn’t.



·            *       *


             Can you imagine being grateful for a kidney stone?   Well, I am.  I got a kidney stone that wouldn’t pass, and nothing ever hurt me worse  and I’ll never be more grateful for anything, because if I hadn’t had it I’d have been at home that Thursday, when Glenn and Randy came and got Eddie.


                It was serious enough that I was in the hospital overnight.  When I got home, the house was a wreck.  There were a few drops of blood on the floor of the kitchen and some more in the bedroom, where I found a Magnum condom wrapper that I know wasn’t Eddie’s.   I’d seen the YouPorn and it’d fit him like a ball gown.  I thought of Tammy hollering for Jesus-God-Archangel-Gabriel, and the fear got so bad it felt like a punch.


                That apartment was thick with bad feelings, a lot bigger than the little spots of blood and the condom wrapper.  It was as if the devil had just been through and you’d just missed him, the echoes of his cloven hoofed steps were still in the air.  I wasn’t sure what had happened there but I had strong suspicions, and they froze me, put me in a vice.  I had to get out of there, I knew that much.  I didn’t know where to go but I had to be somewhere unguessable, immediately.


                I quickly gathered up some things.  I’d taken almost nothing with me to the hospital, had barely avoided going there in an ambulance to begin with.  It’s an odd thing nowdays, but I’m not a big phone guy, I didn’t take it everywhere.  It was in the bathroom drawer where I keep it, and when I picked it up I noticed a missed call, from Eddie’s phone.  I brought up the voicemail and then my terror went into hyperspace.  We’ve all been scared, and you probably think you know fear, but that’s a pale shade to what it can be.  It’s like drinking a few beers and thinking that now you have a pretty good idea what heroin’s probably like.  You don’t.


                What was on that phone was heroin.


                I recognized Randy’s voice instantly, even though it was the first time I’d heard it unfiltered by sheetrock. He was talking low and breathing hard.


                “Hey, sport.  Chris Meachum, ain’t it?  That’s who your roomie says you are and I know he wouldn’t lie to us.  Ol’ honest Eddie.  Howdy, neighbor!  Heard any good jokes lately?  Yeaaaaaah.  Sorry we missed you.  Your roommate can’t come to the phone right now.  He can’t talk so good.  We kinda put a charcoal briquette in his mouth, after we cooked that piece of his leg we sliced off for his dinner.  Don’t worry, we’re letting him keep his tongue, because Tammy likes it.  Pulled his teeth, though, ‘cuz Glenn and me don’t.  He was able to gum down that eyeball we pulled out.  Seems to wish we’d pull out the other one so he didn’t have to see some other stuff we done.   Just can’t please some people, I guess.  Anyhow, don’t you worry about him none, we’ll look after him real good, keep him alive for years and years.  Gotta be able to keep making videos, ain’t that how it works?  Pretty soon maybe you and him’ll be roomates again.   Find that girlfriend of his, too.  Y’all could all get back to making videos together.  That’ll be funny, right?  He gave us your email address, so check out the movie we made, it’s hilarious.  Ha.  Ha.  HAAAAAAHHHH!   See you around, buddy, see you arounnnnnnnnnd.”   


                He went quiet and I could hear some squeals of pain in the background before the call ended.


                I could hear my heart beating in the silence after that finished.  I’m pretty sure I could see it, my pulse vibing in my eyes. 


                I needed to do several things fast.  One was get ahold of Samantha.  I didn’t know her phone number.  I liked her okay but we weren’t really friends, she was just Eddie’s girlfriend and they hadn’t been a thing but for a few months.  Nobody puts up with Eddie for more than a few months except, God help him, possibly Randy and Glenn and Tammy.  Samantha was in the same danger I was.  


                I also needed to get the cops on this. 


                And I needed to get gone.  


                I was fairly sure Randy and Glenn wouldn’t be showing up, because they’d know the cops were looking for them.  But that Jojo guy.  I was pretty sure that Jojo guy was able to send out anybody, people we wouldn’t recognize, and they’d grab us up and take us to where Glenn and Randy were.


                Randy had said something about my e-mail.  I’d turn that over to the cops immediately.   I certainly wasn’t going to watch it.  I had a good idea of what it’d consist of and that was something I never wanted to see.  But I grabbed my laptop to give to the cops.


                I knew what apartment complex Samantha lived in but not the apartment number, so that was as good as not knowing anything.  So I’d see the police first, let them sort that out.


                As I piled stuff in the car I noticed a big black truck with tinted windows across the street.  It wasn’t Jojo’s but I still felt instinctual fear at the sight of it.  And down just a bit in the parking lot was an old Mustang with two guys in it.  Both wore ball caps and sunglasses.  One had big teeth that he was showing me, but I don’t think he was smiling.  Warm weather for gloves, I thought, noticing his hands on the wheel.


                A little ways over a guy and his daughter were watching their dachshund piss and then kick grass over it.  The fact that they were there as potential witnesses was probably the only reason I was able to get into my car.


                I threw my armload of stuff into the passenger seat, locked the doors, and backed out.  As I left the parking lot the black truck fell in behind me and stayed with me until I turned into the police station’s parking lot.  Maybe that was a coincidence, but I seriously fucking doubt it.  I was shaking so badly when I got there I could barely get out of the car.


                I stayed at the police station for hours, sitting and waiting, because once they opened the video clip I’d been e-mailed they called the FBI, knowing this was something too big for them.


                From the name and apartment complex I gave them they figured out where Samantha lived.  She wasn’t there, though, and her lock had been busted by someone who didn’t give a damn about hiding their work.


                Samantha was never my favorite person but the idea of Randy and Glenn having her made me want to vomit.  I cried about it some, and about Eddie, even though I was also hating him.  Even if the creeps never caught me, my life was over, sure as if I were dead, all because Eddie had to play his stupid games.  That Jojo sonofabitch, I was certain, had guys everywhere.  He, like Eddie, wanted fame by recording people and posting it on the ‘net, and he’d charge a lot per customer.  The Feds told me Eddie was probably on his way to Europe or Asia or somewhere, and Randy and Glenn, too.  They’d recognized that some of what Eddie had recorded and posted – mentions of selling “the blue things” to college kids, things Randy’d done with a knife to “Lawford” and “Gordie”  -- were enough to put them back in prison for life.  Both of them had long records for all sorts of shit, a lot of it violent, and honestly, shouldn’t have been out.  The FBI agent who talked to me said they were suspected of involvement in far worse things than they’d been nabbed for, but it couldn’t be proven.


                Well, they’d sure have something on them now.  But they’d likely never catch them.


                Tammy “had problems,” the police said, but apparently went with them for fun.  Or maybe she didn’t have a choice, either.  Anyway, Eddie’s little YouTube adventure had taken their domestic bliss, such as it was, away from them, too.


                We talked about witness protection programs but I wasn’t really a “witness” and there wasn’t a lot they could do for me.  I didn’t get a lot of sympathy from the cops or Feds, really;  I guess they didn’t buy it that the recordings were Eddie’s thing, not mine.  His recordings weren’t really illegal (although going into their apartment was) but the authorities have enough to deal with without people looking for trouble.


                Samantha finally showed up around 3 a.m.   Or not “showed up,” really – no one’s seen her since, but she sent me an e-mail saying that she’d gotten the footage Randy and Glenn sent and she’d left town and was not going to tell me where she was because if they caught me they’d get it out of me.  No one she knew was ever going to hear from her again.


                And no one has.  I hope somewhere she’s out there, alive and as okay as she can be, which I know isn’t really okay because I’m not going to be okay anymore, either.  Not ever.  You can’t sleep with this on you, you can’t get comfortable.  Nobody I know’s ever going to see or hear from me again, either, because Jojo’s not a guy, Jojo’s an organization.  And you never can know who’s in it, which is how and why it works.


                Honestly, they probably don’t even care anymore, probably aren’t even chasing us, but you can never be sure.  And if you’re wrong, you get what Eddie got.  Or, God help him, is still getting.  So I move a lot, change names a lot, don’t dare to get anything permanent going.


                Most of all I keep hoping Eddie’s dead.  According to the Feds, though, he isn’t, because the videos keep coming out.  Eddie, you see, finally went viral.  When the story hit the national news,  people got fascinated.  Hardly anything on the web’s been viewed more times than Eddie’s recordings, now known as The 312 Wisteria Park Tapes, after Randy and Glenn’s apartment number.  Now, though, I don’t think anyone listens to them for laughs.  They have, however, become a thing to exploit.  Eddie made himself a commodity, so they keep him alive, to keep him in their movies.  Such films rarely have a famous “star.”   Now that they do, they’re going to get every dime out of it.  As long as there’s something left to cut off, he’s valuable.


                So now there are a lot more Wisteria Park tapes – the same ones Randy kept e-mailing me, and new ones from time to time.  I’m assured that Jojo’s making a ton of Bitcoin off of them from morbidly curious creeps who collect them like sick baseball cards.   Randy and Glenn are probably rich men, off in Belarus or Crimea or Argentina or someplace.  Maybe they’re happy, in retrospect, to have been Eddie’s lab rats.


                These new tapes, which the Feds seem helpless to stop, are buried on the Dark Web somewhere and I’ve never seen them and I don’t want to.  I just keep hoping that some day they’ll stop.  God, please, let them stop.





                                                                                                                THE END


No comments:

Post a Comment