Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Last Sunday

There is a new post over at the DCR and there's some B.C, Cul de Sac, Monty and more. Also, the DCR is still looking for new writers if you are interested. Head on over there.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Polka Dot Pool of Returnage

It's been awhile. My computer died while I was on vacation so I was unable to post. Then I couldn't get it fixed and then my new computer order was canceled then reordered for some reason. Anyway, I'm back now and I am really excited. I hope you are, too.

Mother Gargle doesn't seem to me to be a neat freak. Maybe she figures that since she is so hideous that at least the garbage cans should be neat and pretty.

I don't want to be the one to tell Wilberforce that his father has died of sunstroke, do you?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Origin of Captain Atom

Captain Atom first appeared in Space Adventures #33 in 1960. He was created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko shortly before the latter would go on to co-create Marvel's Spider-Man with Stan Lee. Originally published by Charlton Comics, Captain Atom, along with other Charlton, Quality and Fawcett characters would be added to the DC lineup throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Captain Atom is the inspiration for Dr. Manhattan in the limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The original plan was to use Charlton characters (Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, The Question, Peacemaker, Thunderbolt and Nightshade) but DC made Moore change it as the series would render those characters virtually worthless so Moore and Gibbons created Dr. Manhattan, Nite Owl, Rorschach, The Comedian, Ozymandias and Silk Spectre.

Captain Atom was revived in 1986 and in 1991 it was planned to reveal him as the villain Monarch during the "Armageddon 2001" cross-over but when news of that leaked out, Hawk (of Hawk & Dove) was chosen instead much to the dismay of fans who had evidence that Hawk could not become the villain Monarch.

"Introducing Captain Atom"
Originally published in Space Adventures #33, Mar. 1960
Written by Joe Gill
Art by Steve Ditko
Originally published by Charlton Comics.
Copyright (C) 1960, 2004 DC Comics, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Hate Fake Post Offices

A couple nights ago I had a dream where I was the new boss on The Office. Of course, no one respected me and tried their best to avoid me but it also seemed like I couldn't do anything right. First, I accidentally ran my chair over a group of power cords unplugging Andy and Meredith's computers and then I had to deal with all the viruses, spyware and malware that Michael's old computer had due to all of his nip-slip and AIM sex accounts. I don't know where Dwight was in my dream. Probably off creating a diabolical plan or something.

I do most of my bill paying online now. The only thing I actually use stamps for is to pay rent and the occasional odd letter or bill that for some reason I can't handle online. I'm also wondering if this woman is a real postal employee. I don't care if she does have a light blue shirt with a nametag, it just looks like she's standing in a box she labeled "POSTAGE".

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Little Archie, We Hardly Knew Ye

Back in the early 1990s, Archie Comics realized that its Little Archie series was becoming rather stagnant. Little Archie comics were originally created in the 1950s and the stories weren't holding up to the crazy '90s. So, Archie Comics ordered a complete overhaul of Little Archie to make it more modern, more hip and more in touch with how the kids of the '90s acted. Here's a bit more information from Platypus Comix:
The main man responsible was artist Frank Rocco, who drew the bulk of what was in Issue #1. Issue #1 was excellent, but it must have tired Rocco out. He quit, and they had to find a replacement. They stupidly handed the reins over to supergeek Joe Edwards, who gave the comic a preschool mentality that nearly killed it.
Dan Parent would later take the reins turning The New Little Archie into a decent digest yet again. Sadly, The New Little Archie Digest Magazine would come to an end and replaced with your generic Little Archie from the 1950s. But the new Little Archie, with a more animated look, would be some of the best to come out of Archie Comics and they are my favorite digests, next to my collection of Laugh.

"Moider Murdar Murderr He Wrote"
Originally appeared in Little Archie Digest Magazine #4 (Jan. 1992)
Written by Bill Golliher
Penciled by R. Kevin Kramer
Inked by Ollerenshaw
Colored by Barry Grossman
Lettered by Bill Yoshida
Archie characters created by Bob Montana
All characters Copyright (C) 1992 Archie Comics Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Quarter Quandary"
Originally published in Little Archie Digest Magazine #5 (Mar. 1992)
Written by Bill Golliher
Penciled by R. Kevin Kramer
Inked by Rudy Lapick
Colored by Barry Grossman
Lettered by Bill Yoshida
Archie characters created by Bob Montana
All characters Copyright (C) 1992 by Archie Comics Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Little Jughead at the Bat"
Originally published in Little Archie Digest Magazine #6 (Apr. 1992)
Written by Alex Neidell
Penciled by Chris Allan
Inked by Henry Scarpelli
Colored by Barry Grossman
Lettered by Bill Yoshia
Archie characters created by Bob Montana
All characters copyright (C) 1992 Archie Comics Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Crash Course"
Originally published in Little Archie Digest Magazine #6 (Apr. 1992)
Written by Dan Parent
Penciled by Bill Golliher
Inked by Rudy Lapick
Colored by Barry Grossman
Lettered by Bill Yoshida
Archie characters created by Bob Montana
All characters copyright (C) 1992 Archie Comics Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 11, 2011

#237: The Final Season

It's been a part of my life for 22 years. I've watched every episode. I can quote, nearly word-for-word, most of seasons 1-10. From "Rubber Baby Buggie Bumper Babysitting Service" to "Mr. Plow, that's my name. That name again is Mr. Plow" to "I'm peeing on the seat! Give me a raise!" I can quote just about anything. It was also one of the few shows I have watched from beginning to end that has lasted longer than four seasons. The Simpsons was a lot of things to me. Most of those things no longer exist. The Simpsons used to be at the top of my list on TV shows. Whenever someone would ask me what the best shows on TV were, my answers would be The Simpsons, All In the Family and M*A*S*H. I chose those shows based on irrefutable evidence that those shows were all good. From season 1, episode 1 until their end. Then I began amending my answer, keeping AItF and M*A*S*H but mentioning The Simpsons seasons 1-9 only and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Now, I can't even bring myself to say The Simpsons because people have either seen the dreck that is seasons 11 to present or because they will be curious and watch those terrible seasons and it will forever sour their Simpsons experience. And, while I hate to do it, I am going to stop watching The Simpsons with their upcoming season. Season 23.

Sadly, this means that The Simpsons will not be awarded the coveted Brian Award that has been awarded to Boy Meets World (1993-2000) and Smallville (2001-2011), the only other shows I've watched in their entirety while they were on the air. So when did it all start going downhill? For me, it was the season 11 opener "Beyond Blunderdome" guest-starring Mel "I will put you in a fucking rose garden" Gibson. Sure there are some good moments in that episode and all through seasons 11, 12, 13 and 14 but "Blunderdome" seemed like a gimmick to me. While season ten's "When You Dish Upon a Star" featured four guest stars I can get past their addition as it seemed more genuine of a storyline. "Blunderdome" just seemed like a "how big of a guest star can we get?" episode. It was also the start of something I have grown to loathe. Guest stars playing themselves.

There was a time where guest stars played one-off characters. Dustin Hoffman played Mr. Bergstrom, Penny Marshall played Ms. Botz, Steve Martin played Ray Patterson. Even Tom Cruise was planned to play Tom before Phil Hartman was cast instead. Characters who the audience would grow to like throughout the episode and then their storyline would be wrapped up and never seen again--or possibly used as a background joke. Even when guest stars would play themselves in early episodes, they would usually play the opposite of themselves. "Homer at the Bat" is a great example. Now we are forced to care about these celebrities as they infiltrate a show where they are clearly not the star but, damn it, they will be the star. On later episodes where the guest plays a one-off character, the character is not established enough for the audience to care. Case in point: Mr. Bergstrom from "Lisa's Substitute" was introduced to be, well, Lisa's substitute. He would go on to make a deep impact in Lisa's life by engaging his students, challenging them, entertaining them and genuinely caring about them and his job unlike every other teacher at Springfield Elementary. When his time substituting is done, Lisa is devastated which devastates the audience because we all know Mr. Bergstrom will be the only teacher to touch Lisa in that way again.

Now let's look at "Once Upon Time in Springfield" from 2010. We'll skip over the fact the episode is dedicated to Eartha Kitt, who guest stars and passed away two years prior in 2008 and move onto Anne Hathway's guest role as Princess Penelope. Penelope is hired to "girl-up" The Krusty the Clown Show which works and more girls watch than ever. Krusty and Penelope find themselves attracted to each other which ends with Krusty proposing on air. Hathaway's Penelope isn't engaging, her actions don't make us care about her or her relationship with Krusty. Honestly, the fact that Penelope is played by a guest star, and a busy one at that, assures us we will never see Penelope again. Why do TV shows do this? I've never understood it. It is also worthy to note that season 2, or more specifically, the episode "Homer Vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment" won the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program. "OUaTiS" was nominated but didn't win, losing to something called Prep & Landing. Hathaway did receive an Outstanding Voice Over Emmy though.

Ratings for The Simpsons are not great. Compared to the other shows on FOX's Sunday night, it's par for the coarse. The cast is signed through season 23 and I hope they decide to say "that's enough" because it is. The Simpsons used to be a force to be reckoned with but that is no longer the case. They used to rail against being a "pop culture meme" but that is ultimately what they have become. While early episodes have entire episodes of genius, current episodes generally have one standout moment that is quickly forgotten the next day. I hope, against hope, that season 23 is the last one. I know it will be my last one. I may be back for an actual final season but until that happens we'll just have to pray that Jebus saves us from this show.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

No. 25: The Death of Tana Whitney

The maroon-colored Mercury Villager pulled up in the alley behind the house with only its parking lights on. From inside the house, Harry shined a flashlight twice at the van then began to leave. He tried to be quiet but the floorboards and doors of the old house squeaked with every movement. He made it out of his room, downstairs and out the back door in the kitchen. He ran toward the van and got in the passenger side. “I was just about to give up,” he said to the driver.

“Sorry, it took me a while to get out of the house,” the driver responded. Zeke Hollister put the van into drive, turned on the headlights and drove away from the house. Behind the front seats were Geoff Dorvac and Benjamin Michelson. “Off to Stull!”

The four were all juniors in high school and best friends since Kindergarten. Zeke was the idea man and self-proclaimed leader but was also more of the clown of the group. Harry was level-headed and was the one everyone turned to when they had a problem. Ben was laid-back. Geoff was not as well-liked and was only tolerated by the other three. No one else even liked Geoff. Zeke and Harry had gotten into ghost hunting and while Zeke was in it to actually find ghosts, Harry had started enjoying it because of the history involved.

“Can we stop at McDonald’s first or something?” Geoff asked. “I’m starving.”

“Starving? You said earlier you were eating before I picked you up,” Zeke said.

“Can I help it if I’m always hungry?”

“Yes!” Ben said.

“That sounds like something a fat person would say,” Harry argued. “Zeke, are you hungry?”

“No, I’m good,” Zeke replied.

“See? Zeke’s not hungry and he’s the fattest person I know. No offense,” Harry said.

“Some taken...” said Zeke.

“Fine. We don’t have to stop,” Geoff concluded.

“Well, actually a quarter-pounder with cheese doesn’t sound too bad right now,” Ben said. “I could probably eat.”

“I’ll take some chicken nuggets and fries,” Harry admitted.

“What the hell is wrong with everybody,” Zeke screamed.

“We’re starving,” Geoff said.

Stull lies about ten miles west of Lawrence, Kansas. It is an unincorporated community founded in the 1860s. The hamlet boasts only a few homes, a church and a cemetery. The cemetery was the main attraction as it was reported that the Devil rose there to dance with the dead and that it is a gateway to Hell.

The red minivan traveled down Highway 40 and then turned onto County Road 442. At this point, Harry was driving after he and Zeke did a Chinese fire drill at a red light. Everyone had finished their McDonald’s and were starting to get tired.

“How much further is this place?” Ben complained, adjusting the seat so he could stretch out.

“Another four miles or so,” Harry replied. Everyone sat in relative silence except for the radio which was on a top 40 station. “By the way, Zeke, what’s in the duffel bag?”

“Files on Stull, a BB gun, a couple of knives, flares, a first-aid kit, Bible, a whip, small bag of Cheez-Its, matches, flashlights, extra batteries, and four liters of holy water,” Zeke listed.

“Could someone hand me the bag of Cheez-Its?” Harry asked.

“How is all this supposed to help us?” Ben asked, digging through the bag for the Cheez-Its. “Especially against ghosts and the Devil?”

Zeke stammered to find a good answer but Harry helped him out. “Neither the Devil or any ghosts are going to be affected but we could use them against a disgruntled farmer.”

“That have pitchforks,” Geoff added.

“What’s with the two liters of water?” Ben asked holding up two Dr Pepper bottles that were filled with water.

“That’s the holy water,” Zeke smiled.

“How’d you get a priest to bless two 2-liter bottles of water?” Harry asked.


“What the hell do you think makes holy water holy?” Harry screamed. “Sometimes you really need to think some of these things through.”

“Oh, here it comes. The Zeke lecture. You can save your breath Harry because we all know it by heart!” Zeke said.

“That’s probably because I give two or three times a week! Yet somehow you never learn!” Harry argued.

“Then maybe you should stop giving it!” Zeke yelled louder. “I can take care of myself Harry so I don’t need you!”

“Why don’t you make love to me from behind anymore?” Harry yelled. Everyone in the van was taken aback by what Harry said.

“Are these two gay?” asked Geoff.

“I always knew Zeke’s girlfriend was a cover but Harry?” Ben was surprised.

“I’m not gay,” Zeke defended.

“Isn’t denial the first sign?” Ben smiled.

Stull, as usual, was dead quiet as Harry parked the minivan in a dark corner of the bait shop parking lot. They all got out of the van and walked toward the intersection and looked at their surroundings. Besides the bait shop on the southwest corner, a modern church was on the southeast and to the north was a shallow ravine. Off in the distance was a lone streetlight that partially illuminated the cemetery and deteriorating old church. The four walked through the intersection and toward the cemetery.

The cemetery was almost as big as the little town and the tombstones were showing their age. The old church had definitely seen better days. What was once a thatched roof was gone and left the inside exposed to the elements. All four walls were still standing but all had major damage to them. Loose rocks, bricks and timbers lay cris-crossed on the church floor.

The four stopped at the locked gate and shined the flashlights on the signs warning people to ‘keep out’ and ‘no trespassing’. The four immediately began to either climb over or crawl under the fence and walk up the gravel road to the north end of the cemetery.

“So what exactly are we looking for?” Ben asked, whispering.

“A gateway to Hell,” Zeke replied.

“Of course,” Ben responded.

The gravel road curved and went right in front of the old church. The four gathered in a small clearing on the east side of church. “So where’s this gateway supposed to be?” Geoff asked.

“From what I’ve read it’s on the northeast side of the church so it should be around there somewhere,” Zeke said.

“Well, while you three wander around her I’m gonna be in the church,” Harry said and began to get closer to the church.

“We should probably stick together,” Zeke said nervously.

“We are. You three will be there and I will be in here. We’ll be able to hear each others screams of terror,” Harry smiled and stepped through what used to be window.

They each explored their own areas of the churchyard. Harry had to step over the rubble and explored every inch of the old church. Zeke, Ben and Geoff searched the grounds, stepping hard in some places in hopes of finding a place where a door covering a stairwell could be. They all explored the church and land for another hour before regrouping at the front of the church and descending the gravel road back to the gate.

“That was a waste of time,” Geoff complained.

“We’ll have to come back when we don’t have school the next morning. Come on, we should head back to Lawrence,” Zeke said.

It was Harry’s study hall period and he was trying to do his algebra homework. Harry hated algebra. He was getting fed up with these problems and was about to shut to book. “You have to divide the integers,” said a girl who sat down next to Harry.

“What the hell’s an integer?” Harry looked at the girl confusingly.

The girl chuckled then went back to a straight face. “Oh my God. You’re serious. Here, you switch these numbers around and those are your integers.”

“Math is so pointless,” Harry said.

“You’re gonna need math for every job out there.”

“I want to be an author. Last I knew authors didn’t need to know what the hell z equaled.”

“What if you don’t become an author?”

“Then I’d have to kill myself.”

“What about your money? You’ll need to know math so you can keep track of your money.”

“I can do basic math—addition, subtraction, multiplication and division—but this algebra crap is pointless and way over my head.”

“Well,” the girl began scribbling words down on Harry’s notebook paper, “I am getting an A+ in advanced calculus so if you need a tutor or just have a question here is my phone number and IM address.”

The girl smiled big and walked back to her desk. Harry glanced down at what she had written. “Thanks, Tana.”

“So she just sat down beside you and started talking?” Zeke asked.

“Yeah. She started yammering about math then wrote down her name and contact information,” Harry said.

“Sounds like someone likes you Harry,” Ben smiled.

“The girl must be crazy or something,” Geoff said. “I mean look at you.”

“Yeah, thanks Geoff. I don’t know what to do. I mean, I don’t really want a girlfriend so I don’t want to open a door I can’t close. Although she was kind of cute. Maybe I should pursue it. If nothing else, I made a new friend,” Harry decided.

“There’s got to be something wrong with her,” Geoff sighed.

Harry sat as his desk at home furiously writing in a word processing document on his computer. He had stuck Tana’s information in a clip that was attached to his computer. He’d ignored it up until now and had resorted to looking at it every couple of minutes. “I don’t even use instant messenger,” Harry argued to himself.

Harry got online and went to the messenger service that Tana used and downloaded the program. He had to create a username and password which actually took him a while because all his choices were already taken. He typed Tana’s address into the contact field and added it. He began typing into the message field: Hey. What’s going on? and pressed enter.

More than a few seconds passed before he got a reply: Who’s this?

Harry smiled and typed: Harry. From school.

Almost immediately: :) . Then: Didn’t think you’d talk to me so soon.

I was just sitting at my computer writing and my curiosity got the better of me.

I’m glad it did. What are you writing?

Don’t tell anyone but I’m writing a novel.

Cool. What’s it about?

I’d rather not say.

:( Please?

Maybe some other time. What are you doing?

Homework. :P

I finished mine at school.

If it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t have finished your algebra ;)

I would’ve figured it out sooner or later.

Whatever. So do you want to come over tomorrow after school?

Harry didn’t know how to respond. He stared at the question for a while and cautiously began typing. What for?

Just to hang out. Get to know each other better. I’ve tried several times in study hall to get you to notice me. It never worked.

Harry smiled at this. A girlfriend had never even crossed Harry’s mind but something told him there was something special about this girl. I’ll go. he unconsciously typed.

:D Tana responded. We can walk to my place together tomorrow. And don’t worry. My parents won’t be home.

Suddenly, Harry’s nervousness came back.

“How do you eat this thing?” Harry asked as he eyed his tiny fried chicken for a way to pick it up.

Tana giggled as she began to eat her lasagna. It had been a couple months since Harry and Tana became a couple and neither of them had ever been happier. Tana kept smiling as she ate and watched Harry eat his tiny chicken with his hands. “You may try silverware. You’re getting grease everywhere,” she chuckled.

“The things full of bones, how am I supposed to use silverware?” Harry asked and the tiny chicken slipped out of his hands. He cleaned his hands with his napkin. “How’s the lasagna?”

“Everything is delicious,” Tana responded.

“These potatoes are to die for,” Harry took a bite of the potatoes. “You mean a lot to me, Tana.”

Tana looked at Harry. “What are you saying?”

“I know it’s only been a couple of months but I feel a real bond with you. When I’m with you I don’t need anything else in my life. Tana?” Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He opened his eyes and looked deep into Tana’s eyes. “I love you.”

“I love you too. The last couple of weeks all I could think about was spending my life with you, Harry. You are amazing and everything I could ever hope for in a man,” Tana said and actually started to cry.

“Wow,” Harry said. “I like your confession of love better.”

“So you said tonight was going to be a special night. What else do you have planned?”

“I just confessed my love for you and you want more?”

“You love me. I expect you to give your life to me,” Tana smiled at Harry and felt herself fall even more in love. Harry reached over and softly rubbed her cheek. She closed her eyes and leaned her head to feel more of his hand.

“We’ll finish eating and we’ll go on the second part of the date,” Harry said.

Harry pulled into his driveway, got out and helped Tana out of the car. "Oh, that movie was terrible," Harry laughed.

"I'll admit, it wasn't the best movie I've ever seen," Tana agreed. "It's dark in your house. Is your mom home?" she asked.

"Doesn't look like. My mom tends to work strange hours," Harry said. "You want to come inside?" he asked.

"Well, you did drive me here," Tana pointed out.

"True," Harry blushed slightly. "Zeke and I saw a terrible movie last year. Just awful. I'm still working to get his money back."

Harry let Tana into the house and turned on some lights. "So did you have an ulterior motive bringing me here tonight?" she smiled.

"No. I may have overheard my mom saying she would be gone tonight but nothing has to happen that you don't want to happen," Harry reassured.

"Hmm, I am intrigued at having you all to myself, alone in this house tonight," she put her arms around Harry and they kissed.

The moaning sounds from both Tana and Harry disrupted the quiet of the rest of the house. Tana had started to cry when Harry put himself inside her, taking her virginity. She had her arms constantly hugged or holding Harry, keeping his presence close to her naked body.

“I love you so much, Harry. I never want this to end,” Tana gasped between his thrusts.

“I know but I’m afraid it has to,” Harry said as he moved faster and harder causing Tana to moan louder and him to orgasm. He continued thrusting slowly as he leaned down to kiss Tana. They lay spent in each others arms for a couple minutes then Harry pulled out. Tana rolled over and turned on the bedside lamp then watched as Harry took off the condom.

“I thought you came,” Tana asked, noticing the lack of sperm in the condom.

“I did,” said Harry.

“Then shouldn’t you have semen or something in the condom?”


“You don’t!” she pointed.

“Huh. That’s odd,” Harry said, tossing the condom in the trashcan.

“You should get that looked at,” Tana said. “Make sure it’s not serious.”

“I don’t want to go to a doctor.”

“Please? For me? I’ll go with you. I’ll get a blood test done or something. It’ll all be okay,” Tana smiled.

“My tests show that you are perfectly healthy, Mr…? You forgot to put your last name on the form,” the doctor said.

“Just call me Harry,” Harry said and Tana stifled a laugh.

“Okay, Harry. Well, I see you are perfectly healthy, don’t smoke, drink or do drugs, testes are fully-grown and descended. There are a couple more tests to look at but from what I can tell you have aspermia. A condition where you just don’t produce semen.”

“So what does that mean? I’ll never produce sperm?”

“If you do have aspermia then yes. Other than that you are perfectly healthy.”

Harry looked over at Tana with a solemn face. “So I’ll never have children?”

The doctor looked at both Harry and Tana and sighed. “You’re both still young. And there are alternatives such as adoption and sperm donors,” he suggested.

“But those aren’t as fun,” Harry said. “So there’s no cure or something that’ll help?”

“I’m sorry but no,” the doctor concluded. “But I will run those blood tests and make sure nothing else is wrong. You can go ahead and get dressed. If you have any further questions, please call.”

“Doctor?” Harry called and pointed to Tana.

“Ah! Yes. Thanks for reminding me,” the doctor grabbed a syringe and needle from the boxes on the counter. “Ms Whitney, please hold out your arm.”

“Damn, so close!” she cursed.

About a week had passed and Tana, along with her parents and Harry were back in the doctor’s office. “Thank you for coming with me, Harry,” Tana said, shaking because she was so nervous. “What do you think they saw in my blood test?”

“It’s probably nothing. Just want to be cautious, that’s all,” Harry answered. He hugged Tana and kissed her forehead. “I’ll always be here for you. Right beside you just like you are with me.”

Tana smiled and the doctor finally came in. “Hello, Ms Whitney, Mr…Harry,” the doctor said. “Are these your parents?” the doctor asked and extended his hand.

Tana’s parent exchanged pleasantries, “So why did you call our daughter back down here, doctor?” Tana’s mom asked.

“I got her blood test back and there is something wrong with it. The preliminary results have concluded evidence of cancer.”

“Can...Cancer? What kind?” Tana began panicking.

“Right now we’re not a hundred percent sure that you have cancer, we’ll need to run more tests but the evidence is there. With luck we caught this early and will be able to stop it before it spreads,” the doctor scribbled something on a pad of paper and gave it to Tana. “You can go to the imaging department at the hospital and they will run the additional tests needed. I suggest going as soon as possible.”

5Three months later, Harry and Tana lay in her bed. It was almost midnight and Tana had been crying nearly non-stop for the last week. Harry held her tightly as she sniffled into his shirt as she pressed her face against his chest. “Tana?” Harry tried to get her attention by pulling his hand through her hair and lightly pushing her away but she clung close. “Tana?” he said more sternly.

She sniffed, “What?”

“Why are you listening to the doctor? He gave you two weeks, a month at the most but you are still as vital and alert as you were when we first met. You are going to beat this and we will live happily ever after. I promise, Tana.” Tana calmed down a little and pulled away from Harry. She laid back and looked up at the ceiling. She took several deep breaths to stop crying. Harry sat up a little and looked at Tana who didn’t look at him. “Tana?”

“Yes?” she sniffed.

“You know I would give my life for you. I would gladly and unquestioningly give you any remaining years I have and more if possible. I would give up everything for all this to be over for you,” Harry said.

“I know, Harry. You’ve been so strong for both of us through all of this that I have no idea how to begin to repay you,” Tana started to cry again.

“I do,” Harry took Tana’s right hand and looked at her. “I don’t have a ring but Tana Whitney, will you marry me?”

Tana cried and looked at Harry. She got up and sat on top of Harry. She took his face in her hands and leaned down close to him. “Yes, Harry. I will marry you. That is all I want at this moment is for you to be my husband,” Tana began kissing Harry and they slid under the covers and began removing their clothes. Tana pulled Harry into her and the two began making love for the first time since becoming fiancees.

A week later, Tana wasn’t at school. Harry walked around like a shadow of his former self. Normally humorous and sarcastic, Harry barely said anything as he worried about his fiancee who had taken a turn for the worse. Zeke saw how hurt and depressed Harry was and tried to console him but with Geoff and Ben around it was sometimes difficult.

“How was Tana this morning?” Zeke asked Harry as they sat down together at lunch.

“She...” Harry fumbled around the words and rubbed his eyes with his finger and thumb. “She didn’t look so good.”

“I know how much you love her, Harry. I wish I could help.”

“I wish you could, too. I don’t know how this could happen. It’s so unfair. I mean, she has her whole life in front of her and it’s viciously being taken away. I’ve had her for eight months and it was the best eight months of my life. I want more. I want her to have more,” Harry said.

Zeke was silent. He couldn’t help. No one could. Zeke watched his best friend hold back his tears and his entire world came crumbling down. Geoff and Ben came up to the table and sat down their trays. They were talking about girls in gym class and laughing loudly.

“Hey, Zeke. Hi, Harry. How is everything going?” Ben asked, in an upbeat way.

“I’m fine but Harry’s seen better days,” Zeke said.

“Tana not doing so well, huh?” Ben asked, sympathizing. Harry nodded his head softly.

“I can’t believe you proposed to her. You two barely know each other,” Geoff said. “No way you two could’ve fallen in love that fast.”

“Geoff!” Zeke scolded.

“When they started dating, Harry thought she was some crazy stalker girl. Frankly I think since you started dating her you’ve changed,” Geoff continued.

“Geoff, will you shut up? Tana’s dying of cancer so you could be more sympathetic to Harry’s feelings,” Ben said.

“I’m just saying that they rushed into things too quickly. Especially with the engagement. Luckily you won’t have to stay engaged to her for too long. Then you can start playing the field. I know a couple girls in my biology class who find you rather attractive,” Geoff said.

“Geoff, if you’ve ever had a respectable girlfriend or relationship then I might listen to you. I do love Tana more than anything in the world and I hope everybody in the world will someday feel the love I feel for her. She’s the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, that’s the one thing I want most in the entire world. And I can’t even have that,” Harry said.

“Harry?” asked a voice from behind him. Harry spun around to see one of the secretaries from the office standing behind him. Harry could tell why she was standing there and immediately began to cry. “You have a phone call in the office. It’s about Tana.”

Months had passed since Tana had passed away. Harry still constantly thought about her. Still visited her. Still pictured how the wedding would’ve looked. He and Zeke had gotten jobs in the food service department at Baker University. It was decent work for decent pay.

“Harry, come on, we should do something tonight!” Zeke suggested.

“Like what?” Harry asked without looking up from his magazine.

“There’s a cemetery in Alma that’s reportedly haunted. We could go there. It’s only a couple hours away,” Zeke smiled.

“A cemetery?” Harry asked. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’d feel quite right traipsing around a cemetery at night anymore.”

“Okay, I’m tired of this. Harry, listen. Tana would want you to move on. She wouldn’t like seeing you like this. She’d want you to hang out with friends and drive to strange towns and trespass in old cemeteries. She’d want you to do everything you did before and during your guys’ relationship. If she really loved you like she constantly said she did, which by the way got really sickening, then she would want you to trespass in this cemetery.”

Harry continued looking at the magazine. Zeke stormed to the back, frustrated but returned a few minutes later to find Harry in the same position reading the magazine. Zeke sat down with Harry at the table and sighed. “So why is that cemetery haunted?” Harry asked.

Zeke perked up and smiled. “Well, apparently back when the town of Alma was founded, this old man owned the land that the town wanted to use for a cemetery…”

“And the town couldn’t find another piece of land to use?”

“I don’t know. I only know what I got off the Internet. Anyway, the old man refused to sell which made the townspeople angry and so…”

Zeke continued to tell the story as Harry listened and occasionally interrupted with questions or actual facts that disputed the story. Soon Zeke and Harry would start arguing and everything would really start getting back to normal.

Tana would be happy.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Stull #19

Jen found herself in the abandoned house. It smelled just slightly musty, dust covered every inch of the floor but it was well lit, despite it being nighttime, and had a couch in the front room facing the big window.

“Hello?” she cried.

No one answered and her voice echoed forever.

“Hello?!” she yelled louder but still no one answered her. She went into the front room and saw the back of Frank’s head sitting on the couch. She walked up to Frank. “Frank? Glad you are here. What are we doing here?” she asked but got no reply.

She walked around the couch but could never catch a glimpse of Frank’s face. She looked out of the window and saw that it was storming. Trees were blowing in the wind, branches, sticks and leaves floated across the ground and lightning lit up the sky every few seconds although no thunder could be heard.

“Frank! What is going on? What are we doing here?”

The front door flung open and a white horse galloped in ridden by a young girl in a tattered grey dress. The horse circled Jen twice and then stopped. The girl stared at Jen. The horse rose up and whinnied before galloping off again.

“Frank!” she turned and saw the couch was empty. “Frank! Where are you!”

Lightning flashed and the front window shattered.

Jen jerked awake and moaned, “Frank,” she rolled over and looked at her boyfriend, Chris.

“Are you okay? You were moaning pretty good,” he said in a soft, drowsy voice.

“I’m fine. Just a nightmare,” Jen settled back into bed but it took awhile for her to fall back to sleep.

Frank was asleep in his chair at his desk. He had just finished rewriting the Stull book and decided to sleep in his chair. He was awakened by the sound of gunshots going off. Bullets came through the newly replaced door window and through the window to Frank’s office striking Frank’s desk and chair.

“What the hell?” Frank bolted up and sped to the window to see a car speed away down Ohio Street.

He went back to his desk and called 911. “Hello, there were just shots fired at the Rock Creek Township Historical Society.”

“All’s Well”

“Do you know of anyone who might have wanted to do this?” Detective Bilko asked.

“Well, Jarvis Houk came by the other day and told me not to publish the history of the End Road Massacre,” Frank said. “I decided not to but he doesn’t know that yet.”

“Looks like we got our first suspect then,” Detective Bilko said.

It was mid-morning and it was starting to get hot. John, Matt and Jen came in, saying hello to Detective Bilko. “What’s going on?” John asked.

“The building got shot at,” Frank said. “A bullet shattered the window we just got replaced.”

“That sucks,” Jen said, trying not to make eye contact with Frank.

“Do you want to come with me to question Mr. Houk?” Detective Bilko asked.

“Can I? I didn’t know victims could ride along to see suspects.”

“I feel all this can be straightened out with talking,” Detective Bilko said.

“Okay, just a minute. Matt, John, Jen, you’re going to check out the old town well, correct?”

“That was the plan,” Matt said.

“The old town well?” Detective Bilko questioned.

“I’ll explain in the car. Okay. I will see you guys later this afternoon. And be careful. We all know the story of the well,” Frank said and he and Detective Bilko left the Society.

The old town well was located a couple hundred feet west of the intersection with 10th and Hickory Streets. It was well documented that when the town of Stull wanted to build a town well, they tried to find a spot with a lot of water. They found that the land north of Ohio Street, west of 8th and east and south of Captain’s Creek was flooded with water and they wanted to build a well right in the center of it.

The land was owned by Hiram F. Volland who refused to sell the land to the city. Volland was a mean and abusive man who was one of the few slaveholders in the area. He would watch his slaves work from a tower that he had built and shoot at his slaves just to keep them on their toes.

The town tried several times to acquire at least a portion of his land but Volland kept refusing. Then one night, while he was asleep, someone snuck in and bludgeoned Volland with a hatchet. Volland’s slaves, upon hearing this, ran away. The town quickly took over his land, buried his body in Stull Cemetery, tore down his giant house and watchtower and began constructing the well.

The first person to disappear was just a month after the well opened. And it seemed as if a person went missing at the well every year. The disappearances slowed down in the 1850s into the early 20th Century but continued. A rash of disappearances occurred between 1910 and 1955 and have been nearly non-existent since.

Most citizens claimed it was Hiram Volland’s ghost sneaking up on people and dragging them down to Hell with him. A few rational people just claimed that these people fell into the well but a massive search in the early 1900s found no evidence that that is what happened. The well is fenced and nearly forgotten but it is still open and still gives water even in the driest of seasons.

John parked along the side of 10th Street and he, Matt and Jen got out of the car. They could see the fence around the well from the road and began walking through the field toward the well. When they arrived, they saw that there was a gate to the fence and that it was locked with a chain and padlock.

“How are we supposed to get in?” Jen asked.

“I got the key from the town hall,” Matt said. He unlocked the padlock and took the chain off of the gate. “Alright, ready?”

John and Jen nodded. They approached the wall of the well and peered down. It was a massive hole walled with limestone. Except for the locked fence, the well was completely open to the elements.

Matt sat on the edge of the well. “Okay,” he breathed. “You guys turn around and be completely silent. Let’s see if I’m dragged down to Hell.”

Jen and John turned around and waited for a couple minutes before turning back around.

“So you were not in Stull early this morning?” Detective Bilko asked Jarvis Houk.

“No, I was in town at the diner. You can ask the waitress,” Jarvis said. “I’m sorry I threatened you the other day, Mr. York.”

“Please, call me Frank. It’s fine. I thought about what you said and while I still finished rewriting the book, I am not going to publish it. I’ll keep it in my archives so people can request it if they want to read it,” Frank said. “And I really didn’t think you shot at the Society but you are the only suspect who makes sense. So I’m sorry, myself.”

“It is strange,” Jarvis began. “How many other people know that you have the book?”

“Besides my staff, Detective Bilko and you? The person who gave me the book and that’s it.”

“Perhaps it’s the person who gave you the book,” Jarvis suggested.

Frank and Detective Bilko looked at each other.

Half an hour later, Frank and Detective Bilko were in Irving, sitting at the diner Jarvis had mentioned. “So we can run the fingerprints that would be on the book, right?” Frank asked.

“We can,” Detective Bilko said. “But now the prints of you and your staff are on the book so finding the person who sent you the book might be difficult. And there is no one else who would want to hurt you or the Society?”

Frank thought for a moment. “Not that I can think of. When we get back to the Society, I’ll give you the book so you can the prints on it and hopefully that will lead us to the person who sent the book.”

“It’s worth a shot,” Detective Bilko said.

“You’re still here,” Jen said when she and John turned around.

“Yes, I know,” Matt said. “I think people just fell down the well and their bodies were never found. They were probably washed out to the Ohio River or Lake Erie or something. Frank wants us to see if the foundation to Hiram Volland’s house or watchtower are still around.”

“I’m going to stay here,” Jen said.

“Okay. We’ll be back in a bit.”

Matt and John left the fenced-in area and went behind the fence and toward the land between the well and Captain’s Creek. They saw a rise in the different with a couple good sized trees. They walked over and saw the stone foundation. Matt took a few pictures of the foundation and the trees surrounding the creek in the distance.

“You leave soon, don’t you?” John asked.

“Yeah,” Matt answered. “First stop is a hotel in Wisconsin then a house in Minnesota.”

“How’s Katie taking it?”

“She’s doing fine. She’ll miss me. I’ll miss her, too but I need to get away from here. Even if it’s for a short period,” Matt explained.

“Is Frank going to hire someone else in your place?” John asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. If he does it may just be an intern or something,” Matt said. “Come on, let’s head back.”

They walked back to the fence and the well. Jen wasn’t waiting like she said she would. “Damn it,” John said. “Did she walk back to the car?”

Matt got out his cell phone and called Jen. The phone rang several times and never went to voicemail. “She’s not answering. I’m not even able to leave a message.”

John walked over to the well. “Jen?” he shouted. “Jen! Where are you?”

“Jen!” Matt also began shouting. Soon they were shouting in unison as they began to split up to look for Jen.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Morning Night

Snoopy and "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night"
by Charles M. Schulz
Published by Holt Rinehart Winston
Lucy's Jacket Art by Mark Knowland
Copyright (C) 1971 United Feature Syndicate. All rights reserved.