Saturday, November 28, 2020

Back Pain

The heating pad and ice pack are in different places on his back so is the pain in the middle of his back or his lower back? Maybe his entire back is just one big throbbing pain. Anyhoo, I've used the word throb in a description of The Born Loser so enjoy the rest of your Saturday. Bye.

Beloved Parents

 In loving memory
of beloved parents

Elijah Sims was born in 1839 in Clinton County, Indiana. He served during the Civil War, participating in the battles of Murphreesboro, Munfordville, and Shiloh. He remained in Indiana until 1878 when he came to Kansas and started a homestead where he remained until retiring in 1906 to Topeka.

Jeannetta Sims was born to Peter and Elmira DeMoss in 1846 in Clinton County, Indiana. Peter DeMoss also served in the Civil War. Jeannetta passed away in Turlock, California, where she and Elijah had taken up residence. She was survived by her husband and all 10 of their children.

Mount Hope Cemetery, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas

Friday, November 27, 2020

Just Change the Station

It's true. We listened to Christmas song for a couple days about a week or so ago while we were at work. It was nice but I don't need to hear anymore for another week or so. For me, Christmas season doesn't truly begin until I hear Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" and Elton John's "Step Into Christmas".

Thursday, November 26, 2020

God Bless Us...*gravy dribbles down chin*...Everyone!

The Thornapple family certainly cleaned their plates. It looks like those plates weren't even used. It will make clean-up much easier.

I also commend the Thornapples--and ergo, Chip--for having a small, contained Thanksgiving. Here's hoping you and yours are staying safe. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tank N Tummy #21

Dominic and Ryan stood behind the counter wearing masks and gloves. Numerous signs on the counter stated that cash transactions were being limited. A piece of Plexiglas hung from a chain from the ceiling. A customer came up to the counter, also wearing a mask, with some bottled drinks and a cup of coffee. "Have you guys been working this whole time?"

"What do you mean? We didn't close when schools or everything else did. We are apparently essential workers which really makes you think," Dominic said.

"Hopefully you're getting hazard pay or something," the customer said.

"I think Harvey gave us a five dollar gift card to McDonald's," Ryan said.

MaryJane came into the store for her daily 52 ounce drink. She came in without a mask. "'Sup, sluts," she said. 
"MaryJane. Mask," Dominic said.

"Oh, sorry," she dug a mask out of her purse and put it on. "I'm still not used to this."

Dominic noticed that the mask had a hole over the mouth. "MaryJane, your mask has a hole in it."

"Oh, crap. Grabbed the wrong one. This is one of those masks that you can wear and use to eat."

"Those masks are only used for one reason...blowjobs," Ryan said.

"You got me," MaryJane shrugged and laughed. "I'll be right back. I have a regular mask in my car." She left the store.

As she left someone else came in without a mask. "Sir, please put on a mask," Dominic said.

"Eat my ass," the customer said.

"Alrighty then," Dominic responded.

"At least we're doing the right thing," Ryan tried to comfort Dominic.

After the morning rush, Dominic and Ryan were alone in the store. Harvey came in, stained shirt, cargo shorts, and no mask. "Harvey, put a mask on."

"I'm not giving any legitimacy to this hoax. I came to this country from my communist home so I wouldn't have to wear a mask," Harvey explained.

"You came here in 1996," Dominic said. "And you're neither Chinese or Cuban."

"You sound just like the prime minister," Harvey grumbled as he went into his office and slammed the door.

"We're all going to die," Dominic sighed, shaking his head.

“Hey, guys,” Aaron said as he came into the store. “How are you doing?”

“We’re good. Can’t complain,” Dominic replied. “Geez, you look tired.”

“I am,” as if on cue, Aaron yawned really big. “I hardly got any sleep last night. I kept having this weird dream.”

“What about?”

“Well, my room was flooded with this bright blue light and these three strange creatures entered my room and got me out of bed. It was like they wanted to show me something as they kept pointing to the light outside my window. I went with them and started following the light to their spaceship. They then took me onboard and began poking and prodding me. They then removed my clothes and laid me down on this cold metal exam table,” Aaron began explaining. “They began closely examining me like a doctor would almost like they were trying to see what everything did.”

“Then they shoved a metal rod up your butt?” Dominic asked.

“What? No. They did have me pee in a cup which was weird.”

“Did you wet the bed?” Dominic asked.

“No. Why would I wet the bed?”

“Whenever I dream about peeing, I wet the bed.”

“What? What the hell?” Ryan exclaimed.

“Doesn’t everybody?” Dominic looked back and forth between Ryan and Aaron. “Then what the hell is wrong with me?”

Ryan and Aaron turned away from Dominic and looked at each other. “I don’t think that was a dream,” Ryan said. “I think you were actually visited by aliens.”

“What? No. It was a dream. Aliens don’t exist.”

“Sure they do. They’ve been all over the last few years. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of videos of UFOs being caught in the sky,” Ryan excitedly said.

“You believe in aliens and UFOs?” Aaron seemed skeptical. “Yeah. So does Dominic.”

“Now wait a minute. I believe in aliens up to the point that they can travel here. I believe aliens do exist but they evolved over roughly the same period of time as we have therefore they would not be capable of vast interstellar travel.”

“Then what was that flying object in the sky when we were driving to Colorado, Dominic? What was that flying object in the sky?”

“I’m going back to my magazine,” Dominic sighed and lowered his head.

“Flying object…”

“About three years ago, Dominic and I were driving out to Colorado so we were out in western Kansas. Dominic was driving and I was looking out the window. I saw this small black disc-like object in the sky kind of hovering, kind of moving. I pointed it out to Dominic but he thought it was a plane or a drone or something military related.”

“It was!” Dominic exclaimed.

“’Sup, sluts,” MaryJane came into the store.

“Aaron got abducted and probed by aliens,” Dominic said.

“No, I did not. I didn’t,” Aaron shook his head.

“Seriously? You have to tell me about it,” MaryJane took Aaron’s hand.

“Aliens and stories of alien abduction get MaryJane horned up,” Ryan said.

“Really?” Aaron raised an eyebrow. “It was just a weird dream. I just dreamt that I was abducted. I definitely wasn’t probed.”

“Could I come over about seven? We can have some dinner and you can tell me about your experiences and I can spend the night and see if the aliens come back,” MaryJane said.

“Uh, I guess so. Like I said, it was just a dream and I don’t think anything will happen but you can come over. Whatever,” Aaron shrugged.

“Great. I will see you at seven,” MaryJane tickled Aaron’s chin and left the store.

“Aaron’s gonna lose his MaryJane virginity,” Dominic said. “Remember when you lost yours, Ryan?”

“We were 23. MaryJane had broken her leg and couldn’t put any pressure or weight on it. I brought her food and kind of helped take care of her and she wanted to pay me back.”

“We’re not going to sleep together,” Aaron discouraged. “Are we? It’s just dinner, a sleepover, and maybe an alien abduction.”

“I have two rules: Everybody gets one—everyone gets a chance to lose their virginity. The other is everybody gets one…time with MaryJane,” Dominic said.

“Does she know you talk about her like this?” Aaron asked.

“It’s fine,” Ryan pshawed.

“When was your first time?” Aaron asked Dominic.

“We were eight. We had had a long night of gambling at this casino in Las Vegas…”

“Neither of them will talk about it,” Ryan said. “They always tell a different story. I sometimes think they haven’t been together and they’re just lying about it. I, personally, recommend sleeping with MaryJane.” Dominic looked at him in an odd way. “What? I do. She genuinely enjoys sex, she’s a very pretty young woman, she’s smart and funny, and not a bad lay.”

“Geez. Why don’t you just marry her?” Dominic said in a mocking tone.

Aaron let MaryJane in. She had a pizza box with her. “I brought pizza. I hope you like meat on your pizza.”

“Who doesn’t? The kitchen is around the corner. You can set the box down on the counter,” Aaron directed.

The two of met in the kitchen a couple seconds later and MaryJane was already digging into the pizza. “Hungry?”

“High. Are we gonna see aliens tonight?”

“I told you that it was just a dream. I don’t think anything is going to happen,” Aaron said.

“Show me your bedroom,” MaryJane took Aaron’s hand and began dragging him toward an open door off the hallway. “This is it?” MaryJane shoved the last of her pizza into her mouth and got into bed. “You were laying down, right? Then what happened?”

“Uh, there was a bright blue light that came in from the window. I heard a loud rumbling and then I felt the presence of someone—two someones—in my room. I didn’t actually see anything and fell back to sleep pretty quickly.”

“Cool. I wonder what the light and rumbling were,” MaryJane questioned. She got out of bed and went over to the window. She peeked out the blinds and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. “And you weren’t probed?”

“No. I’ve never had anything go into my butt,” Aaron replied.

“Okay,” she nodded thoughtfully. “You should try it but aliens don’t do that.”

“They don’t?”

“Why would they? Think about it. If aliens, who have already flown light years across the universe so have already mastered expansive space travel, needed to understand how humans work, wouldn’t they just ask or abduct and analyze us? They could also just kill us and perform an autopsy. They would learn very little about us just through a colonoscopy.”

“That does make sense,” Aaron said. “I guess I never thought about it before.”

“Look, I believe aliens exist. There’s no way we are all alone in the universe. But I don’t believe they have the ability to travel long distances, just like we don’t. But I want them to be real and exist and I want them to communicate with us. Also, I saw this adult magazine with some aliens really giving it to a woman so I’ve always been fascinated with that as well,” MaryJane explained. “Let’s get some more pizza and I’ll pull the magazine spread up on my phone.”

Aaron sighed deeply. “All right, why not?”

“What are you doing?” Aaron asked, watching MaryJane look around in his closet. “You said you were going to the bathroom and I find you digging around in my bedroom closet?”

“I did go to the bathroom. Thanks for your concern. Why do you have a bowling ball?”

“Because I used to bowl. I was pretty good at it, too,” Aaron seemed to take too much pride in his bowling skills.

“I used to bowl, too. My dad taught me. I was pretty good, too. We should go bowling together some day,” MaryJane said, sitting the ball back down on the floor of the closet. “We should probably start heading to bed. It’s almost midnight. What time was the light and everything?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Like I said and have been saying, I was probably asleep or it was sleep paralysis. I wasn’t contacted by aliens,” Aaron explained for what he thought was the fiftieth time.

“I’m gonna go change,” MaryJane said. “Hope you don’t mind that I’m not gonna wear pants.”

“I don’t care. I figured I’d sleep on the floor or the couch,” Aaron said.

“Oh no you don’t. What if the aliens come in and don’t see you in bed and just leave? You need to be in the bed with me.” When they got there, MaryJane was in a baggy shirt and underwear while Aaron was wearing sweatpants and a shirt. MaryJane requested to sleep closest to the window. “This has been a pretty good evening, Aaron. Even if we don’t see any aliens, I still had a good night.”

“It was fun. The pizza was good and the company was good. I’ll see you in the morning, MaryJane,” Aaron snuggled into the bed with the blanket pulled up to his chin.

“Thanks for indulging my stupid, crazy fantasies,” she said and leaned over to kiss Aaron on the cheek. She rolled over and the two of them fell asleep fairly quickly. MaryJane woke up a soft rumbling a couple hours later. She rocketed up to the rumbling and saw a blue light shining in from the window. “Aaron. Aaron!” she shook Aaron awake.


“A light. There’s a light,” MaryJane pointed to the window. Aaron sat up and saw the light.

“Yep, that’s what I saw. Now I know I’m awake so I wonder what that is. What’s that sound?”

“I don’t know. That’s what woke me up.”

Aaron got out of bed and went over to the window. He pulled the blind slats apart with his fingers and looked outside. He saw a bulldozer of some sort in the parking lot across from his building. It was just idling which was where the noise was coming from. “It’s construction equipment,” Aaron said. “It must have been the light and sound mixed with sleep paralysis that made me think there was someone in my room,” Aaron reasoned.

“I guess that makes sense. I knew it was a stretch that aliens actually appeared here, especially in the bedroom of a close friend,” MaryJane said. “Oh, well.”

Aaron started getting back in bed. When he laid down, MaryJane rolled on top of him. “What’s up?” Aaron asked.

MaryJane kissed Aaron and began removing both of their shirts. The next day, Aaron came into the Tank N Tummy with a smile on his face. Dominic and Ryan looked up from their magazines and over at Aaron.

“Hey, Aaron,” Dominic began, “how was your weird alien sleepo…?”

“Twice,” Aaron exclaimed, smiling.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Paper Swap

Cleveland only has one newspaper--the Cleveland Plain-Dealer which has been published since 1842 so what newspapers are they reading? Don't tell me that Chip--and therefore The Born Loser--live in a world where cities still have multiple major newspapers, which hasn't been true in Cleveland since 1982.

Another question I have is why does Brutus get so mad at someone asking to look at his newspaper? Does this happen a lot and do the people just run off with it? Do people borrow Brutus' newspapers and spoil all the news for him?

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Not a Fan of the Color Though

I commend Brutus for seeing a problem and trying to do something to fix it. I would love to fill out day planners and things like that but I can't ever motivate myself to do those things on a daily basis. I mean, I've been doing a daily Instagram photo challenge and have to play catch-up every three days or so.

Monday, November 23, 2020

By Gee, You're the Only Boss for Me

Brutus, always one to lavish compliments on Rancid Veeblefester, actually gives us the side-eye in today's strip. Even Brutus feels like this was a stretch. It's one thing to force/threaten an employee to say nice things about you but quite another to say "I'm perfect!" about yourself.

Jingo, for whatever reason, is a euphemism for Jesus or God. Why? Well, your guess is as good as Wikipedia's.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Adventures In Television

I just looked at the three things that I use to watch TV and you can't manually change the channel on either one. You need a remote. The TV has no buttons and neither does our Roku box or Chromecast. If our remotes stop working then we are really up Dawson's Creek without a paddle.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Where Are They Going? Thanksgiving Is Next Week

The Thornapples are trying out the new In-N-Out Burger in Aurora, Colorado.
Photo by Sky9 News.

It's refreshing to see Wilberforce in the backseat during this road trip as Brutus and Gladys seem to just leave him at home on their vacations or just outright forget him

The Sherman Plot

Bird D. "B.D." Sherman was born in Ohio in 1855. For a time, he apparently lived in Michigan and moved to Kansas sometime in the late 1800s settling in Hope, Kansas and then outside Solomon, Kansas. He and his family then moved to Topeka. He died of gall bladder complications in 1923 at the age of 68.

Henrietta Fisher Sherman was born in Monroe, Michigan in 1857. She married Bird at the age of 19 and they had 6 children. She died at the home of her daughter Elvira in North Topeka at the age of 86.

Lerue Sherman was born November 28, 1888 and died on his family's farm north of Solomon of rabies after being mauled by a dog while his family was visiting in Michigan. Lerue was originally interred in Prairie Mound Cemetery near Solomon but was moved to Mount Hope Cemetery in 1936. B.D. took the matter of the dog into his own hands.

Mount Hope Cemetery, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas

Friday, November 20, 2020


GAH! Damn it, woman, can't I get through the door before you start yammering about money to me? I don't know why Gladys was so hopeful. Veeblefester continues to pay his employees like it's the 1950s. This is no longer a Veeblefester/Payroll/HR problem and Brutus should really think about getting an attorney involved.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

I Like the Color On Those Shoes

When I first saw today's strip, I just the middle panel and knew that the joke would be something along the lines of "Yeah, but when you wear them then they're loafers!" Anyway, I don't know if I just really understand this comic strip's humor or if it was just low-hanging fruit but now I'm sad and need a Devil Creme.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Is His Ear On His Nose?

Wait. The electric company in this town isn't a monopoly? You can actually choose where your electricity comes from? I would love to have more than one option for my utilities but that's not the way capitalism works.

I wonder if Bigsby and the other energy company use nuclear power because having two massive nuclear power plants in town would explain why Brutus is holding the phone up to his nose.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

So Tired

"Uncle Ted is asleep again!"

"He's entitled--he's retired!"

"He's not snoring like usual."

"Here, take this mirror and hold it under his nose. If it doesn't fog up, come find me."

Monday, November 16, 2020

How Long Has This Been Going On?

     Do more people grab their toothbrushes by the bristles than I think? I never pick up my toothbrush by the bristled end so I would never know that my toothbrush is wet. For all I know, my wife has been brushing the dog's teeth with my toothbrush for months and I'd probably never know.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Wilberforce Is Interrupting Brutus' Mathing

Pretty bold of Brutus to offer to help Wilberforce with math when he isn't good at it--new or old. I, for one, don't understand this new math. If it helps some, great. But it doesn't help me.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Groceries Again?

All these groceries and they only lasted a week? How is that possible? Wilberforce is rarely seen even eating dinner so it's not because you're feeding three people.



Philip H. Parsonage was born in March 19, 1846 in Liverpool, England and immigrated to the United States in 1852. He came to Kansas in 1872 and settled in Eskridge on a farm. According to the U.S. Census in 1870, Parsonage was listed as living with William Dooley in Palmyra, Missouri. In 1880, he was listed as living in Wilmington Township in Wabaunsee County, Kansas. Philip married Mary shortly after arriving in Kansas with their first child, Flora, being born in 1875.

Philip retired from farming in 1914 and moved to Topeka to 1013 Morris Avenue, now Mulvane Street. His wife, Mary Southerland, was born in 1849 and spent most of her life in the Eskridge area. They had four children: Flora (1875 - 1929), May (1879 - 1972), and Jennie (1882 - 1971).

Their second child, son Elwood, was born February 25, 1877 in Wilmington Township in Wabaunsee County. He became a carpenter and died July 26, 1962 at a Topeka hospital.

Mount Hope Cemetery, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Chair Might Tip Over

How is Hurricane Hattie hanging on that chair? Her legs are even crossed. That is very impressive. Usually she's hanging more over Brutus' head so she's balanced on top of the chair but today's she has her arms crossed and is just hanging off of the chair. Just hanging...

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Thursday Catch-Up


Why is Wilberforce looking through an empty toilet paper roll? That seems very disrespectful and Wilberforce should be hoisted from the tallest yardarm or whatever it is the military does to punish people.

In the comments on the GoComics site, people are complaining that Wilberforce is saluting with the wrong arm clearly not understanding the point of the strip. Chip Sansom had to come in and explain what he was trying to do. Anyway, people are stupid.

Blond-Hair McWhiteGuy shouldn't have to worry about what he says. He's probably just tired of hearing from his purple-haired niece who leans trans and came out as pansexual over Christmas of 2017.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Thanksgiving Plans


Y'all shouldn't be having Thanksgiving anyway what with a pandemic going on. Since we can't seem to social distance or wear a damn mask because muh freedoms then there's gonna be no Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's for anyone.

Anyway, this makes me wonder what the other half of the news is. Wait. Why did Gladys phrase it "bad news and good news"? That's not how it goes--it doesn't flow off the tongue as smooth.

Monday, November 9, 2020

And Frappuccinos. And Skinnys. And Blondes. And Cold Brews...

Ugh. Is this what The Born Loser is going to be now? Brutus seeking some sort of validation from Veeblefester for things that don't matter. If I went to my boss and asked them if I were boring they would be so confused. If I kept going to them asking if I was quick-witted or whatever else Brutus needs stroked this week, they'd probably have a talk with me about my job performance and how none of those things matter when I am at work.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Gross Sunday


I know that this is a family-friendly comic strip that appears in newspapers across the country and is easily accessible online but I seriously thought the last panel would show Brutus giving Veeblefester a blowjob. I mean, you can actually see Veeblefester get hard in the third panel. Why don't you two get a room?

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Grocery Day


What's the joke here? Brutus buying so many groceries? Brutus wanting Gladys to help him carry in the rest of the groceries? That the hat Brutus is wearing looks almost like the hat Harry Anderson was wearing in my dream last night?

Charles and Mahala Munns


Mahala Munns was born Mahala Silliman in New Genegus, Illinois on July 13, 1872. She then moved with her parents to Nevada, Iowa where she attended school, even attending the State College in Ames where she met Charles K. Munns. They married in Nevada on June 24, 1890 and had two children: Clyde Silliman Munns (1898 - 1936) and Lois (1899-2002).

Mahala had a sister, Alice, who married Alexander Jeffrey. The Jeffrey's lived in Topeka where Mahala would visit often. For several months leading to her death, Mahala suffered from a tumor and had two surgeries in Omaha. She died at her sister's home in Topeka on December 22, 1922, and, surprisingly, Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka was chosen for Mahala's final resting place.

Charles K. Munns was born in April 1871 in Corning, Iowa. After the death of Mahala, Charles married Cora Alice Hill in 1924. She died in March of 1949. Charles died in Corning on February 17, 1962 and was brought to Topeka for burial.

Mount Hope Cemetery, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas

Friday, November 6, 2020

Thursday, November 5, 2020

He Didn't Call You Slow-Witted, He Called You a Slow Cooker


Okay, now Brutus just deserves all the insults he gets. He should know better than to set up Gladys like that. He should know.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Slow Cooker Food Is Good


Should've kept the smile on Brutus' face and added a fourth panel. *six hours later, Brutus shoots straight up in bed* "Hey!"

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Be Prepared


Brutus should know if they have aspirin and where it is.

I have to dope myself up before work these days, too. I am in constant pain.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Good Trick


I haven't been paying attention but I guess The Born Loser takes place in an alternate universe where there is not a pandemic going on. "I'm gonna draw masks on all my characters," Chip screams as he continues to draw characters roughly a foot away from each other.

Did Hattie trick or treat on Halloween and she's just trying to get a second round of candy or did she skip Halloween in an attempt to maybe get candy that's going to be thrown out?

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Back to Work

It's been hard for me over the last six months to get anything done in the way of writing. As the pandemic and the shut downs began, I did really good posting 21 things over the course of about two months. I don't know if it was just burnout or if I hit a wall with my writing or research either by running out of easy-to-do ideas or just becoming engulfed in pandemic depression. Maybe a little bit of both. Anyway, I need to find a way to get back into the spirit of writing so I am returning to commentating on Born Loser comic strips. I don't know if this will be a permanent thing or just until I get other posts written. There are a few that will coming over the next couple of weeks so be sure to look for those. I am also trying to do more things on social media so check out my Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram to see new things. If you would like to support my writing or research, you can buy me a cup of coffee over on Ko-fi.

I did yardwork yesterday too. It's the last time this year that I'm going to mow and I purposely waited until most of the leaves were off the trees so I could kill two birds with one stone. It's quaint that Brutus still lives in a timeline where you have to change the covering on your windows depending on the season.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Liberty Horror #4: Ghost of A. Chantz

Ghost of A. Chantz

Dominic, Ryan, and MaryJane arrived at the historic Chantz Mansion where a van with 107.3 FM emblazoned on it was sitting in the yard. “You the contest winner?”

“I am,” Dominic said. “These are my friends, Ryan and MaryJane. They’ll be spending the night with me.”

“A threesome with two men in a haunted house. It’s a dream come true. Again,” MaryJane said.

Everyone looked at MaryJane. “O…kay…The rules are pretty simple. You have to stay in the Chantz Mansion for 18 hours. From three this afternoon to nine a.m. tomorrow morning. We will pay for pizza to be delivered at 7—three pizzas, one for each of you. As long as you stay in the house then you win the $1,000 each,” the radio guy explained.

“Sounds easy,” Dominic said. “It’s not like this place is haunted anyway.”

“Innit,” a gravelly voice said from behind them. “I been caretaker of the Chantz Mansion for nigh on twenty years. I’ve seen mysterious lights, bodies in the window, footsteps on the floor, heartbeats in the walls, and the smell of death in the air. It’s enough to drive a person insane.”

“But you seem fine,” Dominic said. “Can we go in the house now?”

“If we’re murdered by the caretaker does that void our winnings?” MaryJane asked.

The Chantz Mansion was a beautiful brick house on a hill overlooking the river. It had been built by a milliner in 1879 and abandoned since the 1940s. As the house became more deteriorated, the more people thought it was haunted. The great-grandson of Alexander Chantz was trying to rehabilitate the house and reopen it as a bed and breakfast, AirBnB, or museum. The radio station gave him several thousand dollars in exchange for allowing this contest to happen at his house.

“This place is beautiful,” Ryan said, aghast at the fancy woodwork, marble, and brick throughout the interior of the house.

“It is now three o’clock. You three are now required to stay in the house until tomorrow morning. We do have cameras placed throughout the house and yard to watch you. The caretaker will be in his house and also keeping an eye on you,” the radio guy explained.

“Oh, good,” Dominic said sarcastically.

“Just give me your pizza order and that will be delivered at seven.”

They exchanged information and the radio guy left leaving Dominic, Ryan, and MaryJane alone in the Chantz Mansion. “What are we supposed to do here?” MaryJane asked.

“Do we just spend the next eighteen hours on our phones? Is there a TV? Books? Is there even electricity in this place?”

The wood in the fireplace suddenly ignited. They all jumped and looked at the fire. “Well, the fireplace works,” Dominic said.

“Who lit it?” Ryan asked.

“Maybe there was already a burning ember…” MaryJane said “…and it got hot enough…or the ghost was getting a little chilly, I don’t know.”

The three had been in the house for a few hours with no incident. They decided to wander and explore the house. Most rooms were empty but were strewn about with dust, rodent feces, and some debris. The wallpaper was faded and peeling in some places. A deer head hung on the wall which went good with the stuffed bear in the corner of the living room. There were no lights anywhere so they were relying on whatever natural light that came through the boarded-up windows.

“Where are the bathrooms?” Ryan asked.

“I think there is just the one downstairs,” Dominic said.

“What’s in here?” Ryan asked, grabbing a doorknob and trying to turn it. “It’s locked.”

“Probably just storage,” Dominic said.

“Sex dungeon,” MaryJane said.

“I think that would be downstairs in the basement,” Dominic said.

“Mine’s not,” MaryJane said.

“But you live in an apartment.”

“I need to find a bathroom,” Ryan said. “I’ll see you downstairs,” Ryan walked away and headed downstairs.

MaryJane turned to the locked door. “Why does this sex dungeon storage room have a giant window in it?” As she asked herself that, a mustachioed face appeared in the window. The eyes had dark circles around them and tight curly hair. The face stared menacingly at MaryJane. She yelped and turned to Dominic. The face disappeared.

“What’s wrong?”

“A face. In the window.”

“What? There’s nothing there,” he looked and saw nothing. “It was probably just your reflection.”

“I don’t have a mustache,” MaryJane said.

“Well…” Dominic shrugged.

“I. Don’t. Have. A. Mustache,” MaryJane repeated, hitting Dominic with each word.

“Maybe you turned your head too fast and it was your hair…” he pulled her hair around her face, bringing a lock of it under her nose.

“No,” she shook her head.

“Maybe…” he began to offer another explanation.

“No,” she cut him off. A high-pitched Joker-esque laugh echoed through the house. Dominic and MaryJane looked at each other. “Feets, don’t fail me now,” she said and began running downstairs.

“It’s probably Ryan or something,” Dominic said. He slowly followed her down the stairs.

MaryJane got downstairs and turned, running right into Ryan as he was leaving the bathroom. They both screamed loudly in each others faces.

“Quit screaming. You’re both acting like idiots,” Dominic said. “Show a little decorum!”

“The laugh clearly wasn’t Ryan. Then who was it?” MaryJane asked.

“Probably the radio station playing a trick. It’s so they don’t have to pay out the $3,000,” Dominic said. “No matter what, we do not exit this house.”

The deer head on the wall suddenly fell and rolled down the stairs. As the deer head came to a rest, the laugh echoed through the house again.

“We may not get a chance to exit this house,” MaryJane said.

A little after seven, the doorbell rang, a simple chime from a bell connected to a turnkey on the porch. MaryJane and Ryan jumped a little as they sat on an old and kind of damp couch. “It’s the pizza,” Dominic said and stood up. He walked over to the door and opened it. The caretaker stood on the porch with three pizzas.

“Your pizzas are here,” he grumbled.

“Why are you delivering them? Where’s the delivery person?” Dominic asked.

“The pizza boy met with an unfortunate accident shortly after entering the grounds,” the caretaker said.

“That’s too bad. Want to stay and have some pizza?” Dominic asked.

“No. Thank you. I have to call the pizza place about the pizza boy so they can call his next of kin,” the caretaker began walking away.

“What a cool guy,” Dominic said, closing the door.

“What’s going on?” Ryan asked.

“Pizza’s here. I think the caretaker killed the pizza boy.”

“Oh,” Ryan nodded his head. “Great.”

“Wanna eat this at the dining room table?” MaryJane asked, referring to the large table in the fancy dining room just off of the living room.

“Yeah. Let’s do that,” Dominic agreed. “It’ll be nice. We can light the candles on the table and get really fancy with our pizza.”

The three of them went to the dining room where a giant table was in the center of the room. Two candlesticks sat on the table—one on each end. They put the pizza down on the table and Dominic went into the kitchen. MaryJane pulled a lighter out of her pocket and lit the candles. When Dominic came out of the kitchen, he was holding a pack of matches. He saw the candles were lit and stopped in his tracks.

“Who lit the candles?” he asked.

“They just lit on their own,” MaryJane said. “It took all our power to not run away in fear.”

“Weird,” Dominic looked closely at the candles. “I wonder how they did that.”

MaryJane and Ryan rolled their eyes at each other.

After dinner, they heard footsteps upstairs and banging on pipes in the basement. They went to investigate both and saw nothing. This happened several times and each time they went to investigate. “You know, it’s ten o’clock,” Dominic began. “We should all just go to bed and get this night over with. It’s not like there’s anything to do anyway.”

“That’s a great idea,” MaryJane agreed. “I’d rather be murdered in my sleep anyway.”

The three of them went upstairs to the bedrooms. By the time they all got ready and into bed, it was a little after eleven. “I’m glad you all agree with me to just go to sleep and end this night,” Dominic said “but there are enough beds that we don’t have to sleep together.” Ryan and MaryJane were in Dominic’s bed, snuggled up close to him.

“But this is how it is in all my stories,” MaryJane said.

“Do your stories feature three grown adults sleeping in the same bed with their clothes on?” Dominic asked.

“At the beginning…” she replied.

“I’ll go to another room but I’m gonna make sure your name is scrawled on the wall with my blood,” Ryan said as he got out of bed.

They fell asleep quickly when they each got settled down. A loud thud woke Ryan up and then he heard the sound of what sounded like a chain being dragged across the floor. Ryan got out of bed and went to door. “I’m probably going to regret this,” he sighed and opened the door.

MaryJane awoke to a scream—a long, almost ear-piercing scream from what sounded like everywhere. MaryJane hopped out of bed and ran to Dominic’s room. He was also awake but was still lying down. “How can you just lie there when a ghost woman clearly wants her baby back?”

“It’s just a recording,” Dominic said. “Or Ryan on the toilet. It could be Ryan on the toilet.”

“It must be Ryan on the toilet because he hasn’t run in here yer.”

“That is odd,” Dominic threw the covers off and got out of bed. “Don’t tell me he’s in his room soundly sleeping.”

The two went down the hallway to where Ryan was sleeping. They pushed open the door and saw Ryan wasn’t in the room. The screaming had stopped when they both got in the hallway. Both looked around the room for a place where Ryan could hide. “Where is he?” MaryJane asked. “I’ll check in the bathroom.”

“I’ll stay here in case he comes back,” Dominic said. MaryJane went off downstairs. Dominic leaned against the door jamb to the bedroom and crossed his arms and waited. Five minutes passed. Then ten. After fifteen, Dominic shouted. “What’s going on down there?”

There was no response.

Dominic sighed heavily and followed MaryJane’s path downstairs. Dominic approached the bathroom and saw the door was open. There was no sign of Ryan of MaryJane. “Well, crap,” he said.

For nearly an hour, Dominic sat alone and silent in the house. In two more hours, the sun would be up and then three hours after that he’d be $1,000 richer. He thought for a moment. He wondered if he could get Ryan and MaryJane’s money if they had left, gone missing, or were murdered.

A clanking sound began from the basement. “Nope,” Dominic began. “It’s just someone in the basement banging on a pipe with a hammer or something. It doesn’t scare me. In fact, it makes me want to go back to bed. I think I’ll do that. Go back upstairs and back to sleep.”

Dominic got up and went upstairs. He passed the locked door then paused. He took a couple steps back and tried the knob. It turned and the door popped open. Inside, was an old-timey glass doll sitting in a rocking chair, completely naked and missing both eyes. There was a crack in the doll’s head and the doll, somehow, was holding a giant knife.

Dominic closed the door. “That is not a good use of that room,” he said. “But it doesn’t bother me. I’m still going back to bed. And I know it may seem like me narrating what I’m doing and talking to no one might look like you have driven me insane, but I assure you that I am not. I’m just making sure the radio people, the caretaker, and my so-called friends know that I am not scared.”

Dominic went back into his bedroom and got back into bed. He heard stomping up the stairs and down the hall, passing in front of his door. Dominic covered himself with the blanket and closed his eyes.

He woke up to thunder. Out the covered window, he saw that the sun was coming up. The thunder boomed again. “That’s odd…” Dominic got out of bed and went to the window. He peered out of the boarded-up window and saw three people in black robes and hoods standing around a fire underneath the window. “The hell…?”

Laughter echoed throughout the house. Dominic’s hair stood on end and goosebumps appeared on his arms. There was a loud, slow knock on his bedroom door. Dominic didn’t know what to do. Keep an eye on the possible cult members outside or see who was at the door. He slowly approached the door. They knocked only once. He opened the door and stuck his head out and looked up and down the hallway.

Darkness there and nothing more.

There was a knock on the front door. Slow and loud like the one on the bedroom door. Knock……knock……knock. “Probably the caretaker,” Dominic chuckled to himself. “Leaving Ryan and MaryJane’s dead bodies on the stoop.” Dominic went downstairs and opened the door. Three robed people stood outside the door, similar to the ones that were out back. They began approaching the front door with their hands leading the way. “I already know about Jesus,” Dominic said and slammed the door.

He turned around and saw three hooded figures enter the living room from the dining room. The front door flew open and the other three figures entered the house. “Well, this certainly didn’t end up on my list of ways I’ll probably die.”

The six figures surrounded Dominic and moved closer, boxing him in. The figures were silent then stopped when they were within a couple feet of him.

“It’s time to give your soul…” one of the figures said “give your soul to 107.3 FM—the city’s rock alternative!” the hoods were taken off and the radio guy was standing there along with the caretaker, Ryan, MaryJane, and two guys Dominic had never seen before.

“What? This is all a bit? For the radio?” Dominic asked.

“Yep. And you all passed with flying colors. We were streaming the whole thing. I have to admit that I’m shocked you weren’t as scared as Ryan and MaryJane.”

“He’s a emotional robot,” Ryan said.

“So what happens now?” Dominic asked. “There’s still three hours until nine.”

“You all get the money. This was just a fun little idea we had to drive people to our website,” the radio guy said.

“I just think it’s so cool that everyone but me was in on this,” Dominic said, a huge smile on his face. “My best friends, the radio guy who I trusted, the creepy caretaker. You two I’ve never seen before.”

“This is our producer, Milton Saunders, and our prize patrol head, Scott Geiger.”

Dominic pointed to Milton’s mustache. “Hey. Mustache,” he turned to MaryJane. “Mustache.”

“Told you I didn’t have a mustache,” MaryJane replied.

Everyone sat in the living room, eating breakfast ordered in. “So everything was accomplished with hidden speakers and random people hiding in dark corners?” Ryan asked.

“Yep,” the radio guy said.

“Somehow creepier than if there was a murderous ghost haunting this place,” Ryan said.

“Okay. So you explained how you did everything but how did you get the candle to light?” Dominic asked.

“Candle?” the radio guy was confused.

Ryan and MaryJane looked at each other.

“I looked all over that candle and couldn’t find any way to light it from a distance. How’d you do it?”

“Candle? We didn’t do anything to candles or lights. It was too expensive,” the radio guy said.

“Seriously?” Dominic got up. “Feets don’t fail me now.” Dominic took off out the door.

“What’s this about a candle?” the radio guy asked Ryan and MaryJane.

“He thinks there was a candle that lit itself,” MaryJane said.

“MaryJane lit it with her lighter while Dominic’s back was turned,” Ryan laughed. “So we just let him believe something supernatural lit it.”

The radio guy laughed. “Are you going to tell him?”

Ryan and MaryJane looked at each other again. “No,” they said in unison.

“He’s needs to be knocked down a couple of pegs anyway. He’s been absolutely terrible since that whole Ryan’s car was trying to kill him thing,” MaryJane said. ▩

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

New Beginning, Part 3

I am one of those people who tend to gain a respect for things if I have to spend a lot of time with them. I guess it's kind of a form of Stockholm Syndrome. It happened with The Born Loser and it's happened with New Beginning. For years, I've been detailing my awe at this little independent comic book that I got in a $1 grab bag of crappy comic books. I first wrote about issue #1 back in 2010 and then issues #2 and #3 back in 2016. I am happy to announce that the fourth and final issue has come into my possession. Thanks, 4mjolnir from eBay for having an additional set of New Beginning comics after someone outbid me just minutes before the auction ended (there's someone else who wants this crap?). Sadly, I now have 2 copies of issues #2 and #3 and 3 copies of #1. Anyway, let's get into it. The death-defying fourth issue of New Beginning!
Seriously. What am I supposed to do with these?

A quick recap: While hosting his high school reunion, Terry saves most of his high school chums from a nuclear holocaust when the Russians initiate World War III. After emerging from their safe house, they begin driving across the countryside to see if anyone is still alive. They run into a few decent people and members of a strange cult who want them to join and if they don't, they will be sacrificed. Terry and his crew are then reunited with Terry's estranged brother, Gerry. We left off with Terry and Gerry in the middle of a battle between the cult and the normies.

We resume our story with Terry, Gerry, Sue, Debbie, and the rest fighting with the cultists. Terry is unfortunately knocked unconscious which means everybody has to save themselves without any help from the star of the series. They are able to put some distance between themselves and the cultists so Bruce, Debbie, Sue, and Margaret go one way to try to get to the truck so they can escape. Unfortunately, again, they find the truck with tires slashed and on fire. Seeing the blaze, three other guys show up, Captain Dave and two guys whose names I don't think we learn. Maybe Gary and Paul? Turns out there is a foot bridge and Captain Dave has a couple vehicles on the other side. But the two teams are separated by the cultists so they don't have a way to let Gerry and his team know about the bridge or vehicles.

Terry thought of everything...except making
his truck fireproof.
Shut the hell up, Human
Dave figures he can outrun the cultists and make it to where Gerry and the rest are camped. It goes about as well as you would expect. Dave is speared in the back and is unable to run. Jim shows up and rescues him and thanks to Jim's arrival, the gang is able to reunite. Five minutes later, they begin their move to the bridge. A couple nameless grunts are killed but without them, everyone is unsure if they would be able to cross the bridge because the cultist are still hot on their trail. Gerry offers himself and his team as cover so everyone else can cross, then he'll cut the ropes and everyone will be home free. As Howard, Debbie, Margaret, Sue, Bruce, Dave, and Tank, carrying Terry, make their way across the bridge, Gerry, Jim, and two other mooks--maybe Gary and Paul?--Gerry made stay behind, take on the cultists. The two mooks decide that they aren't heroes and turn to make their way across the bridge against Gerry's orders. Both are slaughtered by cultists.

The others make it across the bridge and Tank returns to cover Gerry and Jim as they cross the bridge. Tank is out of ammo and the three of them fight as best they can but the cultists are on their heels. "It is a good day to die, Colonel," Tank says. Gerry agrees and cuts the rope to the bridge. Jim is able to hold onto the bridge and is rescued but there's no sign of Gerry or Tank in the waters below. The remaining survivors of the Class of 1978 are safe and sound but Terry is still unconscious and Debbie(?) wonders what's going on in that head of his?

Terry, put your shoes on. We're home.
And there were have it. The story concludes on a close-up of Terry's unconscious face. On the plus side, we get to speculate what issue #5 entails. I imagine that all of this is a dream. Terry never went into the Army, never lost weight, never inherited $11 million, never hosted his high school reunion at his $8 million mansion. There was no World War III, no nuclear holocaust, no cult. But that's probably not what the real Terry had in mind. According to the inside front cover, where Terry discusses the work being done on the book, they've started work #5 and changing how they produce the book so it comes out more regularly. It was pretty sporadic: #1, September 1988, #2, 1989, #3, 1990, #4, 1992. I think it would be interesting to know how the series was going to continue. As far as I know, this is the last issue but if not, please let me know.

This issue also features a lyric contest where if you correctly guess all the lyrics that Jim sings, then you could win $100. There are also pin-ups drawn by readers of the comic book. New Beginning was published by Unicorn Comics. Unicorn Comics is a real comic book store located at 216 South Villa Avenue in Villa Park, Illinois. If you are ever in the area, stop in and say hello.

If you would like to support my writing or research, much of which will be moved to my Twitter after this post, you can buy me a cup of coffee over on Ko-fi.