I’m often confounded and amazed by how TV and movies work on people.
Take the dogmatism about vampires where people will demand, sometimes to the point out shouting that vampires cannot be in sun light, they don’t go out during the day, and even a sliver of strong UV rays will kill them. To which I say, “Yes, yes, unless of course you’re actually reading a book like… oh, I don’t know…Dracula! You know, fucking Dracula, where the whole literary vampire thing got started for all intents and purposes*.” And I’m then forced to explain about the half dozen or so scenes where Dracula is out and about during the day. Those scenes are at the bottom of this lovely Snopes article where they also explain that it’s a kukri and a bowie knife that end the life of the count in the book. (I have a kukri, but no bowie knife. How will I survive being attacked by vampires? Someone should really get me a bowie knife.)
*Yes I know Varney the Vampire was published before Dracula, but Varney can fuck off. Most people don’t even know it exists, much less can claim it had a direct influence on them.
Like wise the character of Tarzan is almost nothing like the popular idea we’ve been given by Johnny Weissmuller movies. While Tarzan does possess the strength and speed of a jungle creature, he’s also very smart and picks up languages quite quickly. He was never the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” thickheaded jock of the movies. Consider also that in the 24 books penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, he fights everything from Russian Agents to mad scientists. Hell, he even fought in World War One in Tarzan The Untamed. And yet, people think that Tarzan is supposed to speak in a slightly less intelligent manner than the average Indian in a mid-40’s western. It’s odd that “Me Tarzan, you Jane” endures so long, particularly since I do believe that actual line doesn’t appear in any of the movies.
Another one that I always find odd is Frankenstein’s monster. A lumbering, bestial idiot, made of equal parts strength and stupidity. A mute, or as someone who can only speak a few words, right? Barely above a retarded child, yes? The depiction in Van Helsing as an intelligent being who is always quoting books and things was ridiculous in the extreme, right? Oh my darlings, are you ready to be wrong again?
Again, we have someone who was badly abused by the movie industry. The monster is an erudite, intelligent, sensitive creature who wished to be accepted into the world, but was universally feared because of his incredible ugliness. He reads books, discusses thing intelligently, and is a portrayal of self-loathing intensified by interaction with other people. The more he learns, the more he despises his own creation. Had the book been written today, the monster would have worn black eyeliner and been into cutting as well. Seriously, give the book a good solid reading and you’ll find pure undiluted emo looking you square in the face.
There isn’t a greater point here, I’m just expressing that I find the fact interesting. Maybe there is some larger point about how people should read more, or at least look shit up on Wikipedia before they talk about shit they don’t know, but it’s buried under my opaque and self-satisfied writing style.
Also, Holmes never actually said “Elementary, my dear Watson.” in any of the books. Just throwing that in there for people who were disappointed that it wasn’t in the new movie.
Came across this today. I still mean this though.
We are a generation raised and taught mainly by the great tubed nanny of Television. TV was our first teacher, our substitute mother and a secret lover, at least as far as Homer Simpson claimed it. I suppose since most of us had our first major crush via the TV screen, there might be something to that. It was certainly late night cable that taught me about sex. The problem is, TV was never meant to be those things. It wasn’t until much later that we would learn what a rapacious whore Television was, and that she was a lying bitch.
Jack & Jill (A Love Story)
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Part Four: Ding Dong Bell
Going through a computer is nowhere near as easy as they make it seem on TV. I wish I were a detective on TV in fact, it would make things so much easier. When you’re a TV detective, you turn on the computer to find a single file open on the computer and it tells you exactly what you want to know. I would have to actually search through the stupid thing and maybe send it off to a hacker that would charge me a hundred dollars an hour to maybe see if there was anything worth looking for.
At least the first looks through it weren’t a complete bust though. She used the password remembering options on her e-mail program and browser, which meant I could get into those with ease. The problem was that even after reading all her e-mail and going through all her book marks I still had basically nothing. There was a guy named Steve, and another guy named Blaine that were trying to woo her ineffectively, but nothing much more beyond that. Reading her responses told me that they hadn’t gotten very far, and reading their messages told me why. It was so painful I almost wanted to e-mail them and give each of them a half dozen pointers, but that seemed to be a bit rude.
The IM programs didn’t have any record keeping software and trying to get into those places is a hassle that I didn’t have time for. I sighed deeply and hoped that if I called my hacker he might not charge me too far up the ass. That didn’t seem too likely though, since I already get the ‘guy who saved my life once’ discount. I looked at the phone number that John Flynn had given me for Tom Stout. I looked at the number for a while, and then thought that maybe I could save myself a few bucks.
I listened to the sound of Debbie’s keyboard clacking softly out in her chamber, like always. After a too brief period, everything was back to how it had always been. No matter what I tried to do, I ended up behind this desk work these cases. Michigan had its hooks in me, and it wouldn’t let go until I was dead. Struggling was simply going to delay the inevitable. I would be reeled into the boat sooner or later, and then I’d be gutted, skinned, and fried with a little bit of oil.
I picked up the phone and dialed the number I’d been given for Tom Stout. After a few rings, and two pleasant sounding receptionists I was patched into his line. When the phone rang I wondered if he was in, it was close enough to lunch for him to be out for the duration. The phone was picked up and I heard another pleasant voice in my ear.
“Tom Stout.” He said,
“This is Jack Collier.” I explained, always feeling dumb when starting a conversation like that. “I’m looking into the Jill Piper situation and I heard you have a problem that might be connected.”
“Yeah.” Stout said. “You might say a problem.”
“I understand those files were wiped.”
“The files weren’t wiped Mister Collier.” He said. “The hard drives with those files were stolen. We’ve lost the call and text records for about six hundred customers.”
“How can someone do that?”
“That’s something we’re looking into.” He said. “If you’ll come down here though, I think I might know a way to help you some.”
“Okay.” I said. “Where are you?”
He gave me an address in Farmington, and told me approximately the best way to get there. I told him I would be on my way and hung up. I switched off the lap top and stuck it into the bag, leaving it leaning against my desk. I told Debbie where I was going, grabbed my hat and was out the door. I got in the car and drove straight there, missing my destination only once, which is something of a record really. It’s not that finding things in Farmington is that hard, but with the traffic you can miss things if you’re not careful because the numbers are messed up down there and the traffic is heavy. You can see your spot just as it’s too late to get into the correct lane and turn.
I managed though and got into the guest lot for the Ding Dong offices. I noticed a couple of unmarked cars sitting in the lot and parked away from them. I don’t like parking the Hudson near other cars and I really don’t like parking near cops. I suppose it’s my own paranoia, since I have no actual proof that cops would deliberately swing the door so wide so as to bang the side of my car, but I also have never given them a chance.
I walked in to the reception area, which was just normal for a place in Farmington, and went to the round receptionist’s desk. I told her my name and was told to wait a moment while she called him. I stood in the office, while the sun shown in through a skylight. The light failed to fall on me, which wasn’t much of a shame because while that makes a dramatic shadow with my hat brim, I wasn’t wearing my hat at the moment.
“Mister Collier?” A man came from behind the receptionist’s desk and walked towards me with his hand out.
“That’s right.” I said taking his hand.
“Tom Stout.” He smiled and gave my hand a single brisk, business like pump. “Come to my office, that’ll be easier.”
We walked around the wall that divided the reception area from the hall and broke up the area if ever they had to defend this place tactically. I noticed a pair of guys in bad suit jackets and ugly ties talking to a couple of guys who had even worse fashion sense in shirts and ties. We walked past them without either of us giving them a glance. I was proud of Stout on that point. It’s not easy to not look at a cop when he’s questioning someone, but I can manage it when needed. Seeing Stout do it must have meant that he’d already seen them all day today.
We walked to his office and he closed the door and sat behind his desk. It wasn’t a huge office, but it was big enough for what we needed. He tapped at a computer, which caused the screen saver to switch off and display some kind of tool program. He looked at the closed door and then pointed to the chair across from him. I sat down and waited for him to start, which he clearly wanted to do.
“Some one deliberately stole the hard drives that have the Piper’s use history on them.” He started. “There are three hard drives taken and all three were where those files were stored.”
“So how do we find her?” I asked, looking at his desk and noticing a photo with two girls, one about Jill’s age.
“If she still has her cell phone, I can ping the phone.” He said moving his hands towards the computer mouse and selecting a few things on the screen. “When I do, that will tell us more or less where the phone is. It’ll take a little work to define where the phone is exactly, but I can give you a rough estimate right now.”
“Let’s do that then.” I said and watched as he hit a few of the digital buttons on the screen.
A moment later he was given something that he copied and pasted into Google. That gave us a map that he had to zoom out from for us to tell where it was. As he was typing and searching I happened to notice something on his wall. It was a child sized cape from a superman costume, which had a small yellow post it note attached. I leaned in and saw that the note read “Do not tug” and smiled to myself. I approve of such things.
“Georgia.” He said looking at the screen. “Looks like farm land outside of Atlanta.”
“Can you print all that up?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He said and hit a few more buttons. I will not say computers are a mystery to me, but I always envy a man who can make them do exactly what he wants when he wants them to.
A printer started to hum and a moment later a couple of pages came sliding out onto the tray. He grabbed a highlighter pen and began marking up the most relevant places for me before handing them over. I looked at them to make sure there was nothing more I needed, but he’d thought of everything. I would have offered him a job, but there isn’t room in my office for two and besides he’d be the boss within a week.
“Anything else that I can help with?” He asked.
“Nothing occurs to me right now.” I said. “Can you do that ping thing again? Find out if they move around?”
“So long as the phone has power.” He nodded.
“It wouldn’t be asking too much for you to do it every couple of hours while you’re here would it?”
“Nah.” He shook his head. “I can even have the computer do it for me. Give me your e-mail address and I can have it sent right to you.”
“Thanks.” I said and wrote the address down for him. “If they go much out the way, give me a call will you?”
“Sure.” He nodded.
I thanked him and left, my very first real clue in this case in my hot little hands. There was really only one thing to do with information like that, so I did it. I plugged the headset into my cellphone and dialed my client. I still find that an odd phrase, because I haven’t dialed a number on a phone since nineteen eighty-nine.
“Yes?” He answered quickly and sounded like he’d been sitting by the phone all day.
“Her cell phone has been located by the phone company in Georgia.” I said as I started the car. “Some little town outside Atlanta called… hang on.”
“It is Banbury Cross?” As my eyes fell on the words I wondered just how much trouble we all were in.
“Yes.” I said.
“I have a house there.” He told me. “Our main pepper plantation is in Banbury Cross.”
“Who’s in charge down there?”
“A guy named Cole King.” He said, his voice was shaking now. “He runs the plantation, does all the work for me.”
“Maybe I can talk to him.” I said. “Go down there on some pretense.
“I’ll tell him you’re going down there to look into the labor thing.” He spoke quickly now, making sure he got the idea out as it came. “We’ve had INS on us a few times, looking for illegals. I’ll tell him you’re down there to try and figure out why we’re being singled out.”
“Okay.” I said.
“Can you fly down there tonight?”
“I’ll drive down if it’s all the same to you.” I told him. “I might need a gun and it’s just a hassle trying to fly with them these days. I would also rather not have to try and fly back with your daughter if I have to bring her back under duress.”
“Very well.” He stated. “Will you need me to forward you expense money?”
“I can take care of it.” I told him. “I’ll go to my office, get a few things together and will start as soon as I can. They probably can expect me tomorrow I suppose.”
“I’ll call Cole and tell him then. Good day.” Piper hung up rather abruptly, but I didn’t resent him that. I assumed he’d been having a bad couple of days.
It seemed odd that she would be at her father’s place in the south, particularly since I was going on the kidnapping idea. It might have been a run away and she packed things differently than I would have expected. Maybe kids packed different things than I thought. I supposed it could be, I was getting old after all. I thought I remembered the teen years well enough though, I thought I had a handle on it. It didn’t matter though, I would have to get a few things and go south and find her.
1. I feel bad that so much time has gone by since a 5 thing entry, since a proper poll, since I talked about waffles and since I shouted Shwanekee. However, since I know about these things, maybe I can do something about them.
2. I know Young Einstein is a dumb movie. I know it’s just montages and music videos with a little bit of plot scattered between them. I still like it though.
3. I am not back to my full creative capacity, but I think I know which direction to travel in. I’ll get there.
4. I’m not sure, but our wowway.com email addresses may get shut off, or bumped for a few days. We’re trying to look into that. You can still get me at my gmail account though.
5. Ookla the Mok was right when they said “Everything’s so complicated”
You know why I have to stop drinking cola?
When the caffeine and sugar wear off, the downward slope is really bad. Like, really-really bad. Like deep, dark funk bad. Like a funk so funktastic that only George Clinton could find me in all that funk. Except George has got other things to do today and can’t come to rescue me.
You know, that reminds me, I need a copy of Graffiti Bridge. The world has gone without my review of this seminal classic for too long. Someone go onto my Amazon Wishlist and buy me a copy so I can review it. No, really. Go on. I’d do it myself but I spent my gift card on a copy of a Time Album and Simply Mad About The Mouse. I wish I was joking, but in a way, I’m glad I’m not.
I’ve been reading The Completely MAD Don Martin and I’m really enjoying it. Yes, it’s just a great big comic book, but I still like it. We didn’t pay anything like the price Amazon wants for it though. We found it for about $25 at a Barnes & Noble during the holiday season.
You could get the Absolutely MAD DVD and have everything in these books though. I own the DVD, and I read the magazine on my computer from time to time. I like the big edition though, makes me feel good to have it.
*I used a Kindle recently, and I found it to be an amazingly easy to use machine. Syd’s getting a Nook next month when the silly thing ships and I expect that to be very easy to use as well. I really like not having to hold the book open, I like not having to find a piece of paper to mark my place, and I liked being able to change the font size to match how tired my eyes were. We’ll see how I like the Nook, but it and the Kindle have almost (but not quite) identical specs, so it will probably be the same for me.
When sacrificing a virgin to your dark gods in exchange for unholy powers, always remember the young lady in question may not be familiar with all aspects of the ritual. If you’ve had the girl retrieved from a nearby village the moment of blood shed may in fact be the first she’s hearing of the while thing. You need to always be patient and understand that any screams for help are only as a result of her lack of understanding for your mad need for power.
Never shout at the virgin or make her feel that her reluctance to give up her life is in anyway causing you the slightest bit of difficulty. Just because you’re going to rip out her heart and rape her corpse, that’s no reason to cease being anything but a gentleman.
Jack & Jill (A Love Story)
A Jack Collier Story
By Brett N. Lashuay
Part Three: Just a Room
I had to drive two hours north on seventy-five and another half hour after that to get to the Piper’s big hunk of land, which sprawled across one of those counties you only think about when you’re driving up north and you try and decide if you’re going to stop before Flint or after Flint. Because you don’t want to actually stop in Flint, that’s for damn sure.
The house was big, ugly and dull. Just a big box that sat on an expanse of land. It had probably just started out as some plans for a house half that size that they got an architect to upscale for them. Getting into the house made me wish that I wasn’t so cynical, because it would be nice not to hear myself say I was right so much. The rooms were big and empty looking, because they had enough money to build big square rooms, but not enough money to hire proper decorators or a sense of style. The place looked like a typical American house that had just spread out and become larger without doing any real work towards presentation.
“Hello Mister Collier.” A small woman, probably from when this was a two room ranch house, said to me as she opened the door. “Mister Piper said to expect you.”
“You would be?” I asked,
“Polly, the cleaner sir.” She shook her head. “Shall I put the kettle on? Would you like some tea?”
“No, I won’t be here long enough for that Polly.” I said.
“Shall I take you to Jill’s room then?” she asked, trying to please.
“Yeah.” I nodded.
Jill Piper’s bed room was a mess, as I feared, but there was an orderliness to the mess. A careful viewer could tell what she thought was most important and what things were to be ignored for another week or two. I saw a small glass unicorn that had been knocked over, but the thin layer of dust that had settled on it and around it told me that it had fallen over some time ago. A less skilled gumshoe might have missed the layer of dust and decided that it had been knocked over by a careless kidnapper. I was a more skilled gumshoe though, and so I decided that I could ignore it.
There was a basket of folded clothes near her bed, a few things had been ransacked but for the most part left alone. The drawers of her dresser were open and bits of clothing hung over the edges. The drawers of her desk were closed and the smaller dresser, where I assumed her undergarments were kept was also closed. I looked at the basket, then at the clothes drawers. That looked wrong. When I was a kid, I would often leave clothes in the basket instead of putting them away. I would rarely put things into the drawers, leaving them half empty most of the time. An adult wouldn’t think like that though. An adult would look in the drawers. An adult in a hurry wouldn’t bother with keeping the drawers neat, expecting that kids are already messy things.
I must give Polly credit for not hovering over me like a hawk the entire time. I looked at the smaller bureau and decided that I wasn’t going to get my answers by being coy about it. I opened the smaller set of drawers and found what I thought I would. An assortment of bras and socks that had been matched and rolled in one drawer, neatly folded panties in the next drawer. I closed the drawer without further examination. I’m not sure I know of anybody who would leave town without their underwear, unless they were compelled by a pretty frightening force.
Her computer was a lap top, which was helpful at least. I looked at the lap top and glanced around the desk, and saw the black nylon bag. I picked up the computer and slipped it into the case, checking that the power cord with its brick half way up the length were in there as well. There was a large yellowish pillar candle on the desk, I picked it up and gave it a sniff to confirm that it was vanilla scented then set it back down.
I couldn’t help but feel I was missing something here, that there was something I wasn’t seeing. I lifted the mattress and found a small leather bound book. Nothing good could come from a book that had been shoved between the mattress and the box spring, but I had to look anyway. It would either be her diary, or a book of things she thought were deep and insightful thoughts.
It was worse than either of those choices. It was a hand written tome of erotic poetry. She wrote poetry. Bad poetry. Bad erotic poetry. Reading through it gave me a perfect insight into how it would feel to watch two teenagers fumbling around in the back seat for the first time. To them it’s quite sexy and adventurous, but to me it was a litany of mistakes.
Her verse structure was a bad imitation, like someone trying to kiss the way they’d seen Hollywood stars kiss in the movies. Her descriptive phrases were as sexy as a boy’s clammy hand reaching for his first undershirt grope in a movie theater. She probably thought it was impressive and she probably thought it was quite sophisticated. I thought I was pretty hot shit when I first put my hand up Suzy Jenkins’s shirt during Batman Returns, and only saw later how dumb that had been.
I closed the book and slipped it into the computer bag. I might need it later and it would be good to say that it had been with the bag I was expected to take anyway. I tried to think of anything else that might be of importance to look at, but I was pretty sure that as a modern kid she would have everything on her cell phone and her computer. I would have to call Ding Dong and get them to give me her text records, and then start to hack through the computer before I’d know anything. I closed the bag and left the room, taking one more turn to look at the mess before I left.
She was just fourteen, not even old enough for a learner’s permit yet. She would have been a high school freshman if her mother had let her go to school. Someone was holding her, somewhere out there. I worried that while I was fucking around in her room, reading her bad poetry, someone was doing unspeakable things to her. I couldn’t help that though, I can only go as fast as I go. If I went faster I might miss things and then she might be killed. I’d gotten a lot of people killed in the past, almost always the person I had told not long before that everything would be alright, that I’d take care of it. I really didn’t want or need another notch on my belt of death.
I walked out of the room, thanked Polly and left the house. When I got into my car I sat for a while. I looked at the house and then at the steering wheel and had another one of those moments I’d had ever since coming back to Michigan. I had one of those moments where I ask myself why exactly it was I decided to come back to this state. I know the answer of course, but we’re not going to go into that right now. I had a reason, let’s leave it at that.
My phone chirped and I picked it up and answered it with my normal routine. Since I was waiting for the call, I wasn’t too surprised by who it turned out to be. Piper had said he’d get him to get in touch with me.
“Mister Collier?” The pleasant voice said. “This is John Flynn at Ding Dong.”
“Oh hello.” I said, leaving the car waiting while I talked. “I suppose Mister Piper told you what I would be needing?”
“Yes.” He agreed, but sounded like something was wrong. “There is a problem though. All the records for the Piper family up until yesterday were wiped from out computers.”
“What, all the texts?” I asked, knowing it would be more than that.
“Everything.” He said. “All the calls for all three phones, all the text messages, all the wireless internet usage. Everything.”
“I see.” I tired not to let my dejected feeling enter my voice, but I may have failed in this endeavor. “I don’t suppose the accounts have been canceled or anything?”
“No, just the records have been wiped clean.”
“Okay.” I said. “Thank you. If I can think of something else I might need, I’ll let you know.”
“I wish there was more I could do to help.” He said. “Jill is like my own daughter.”
“Who is in charge of you IT department?” I asked, deciding that sometimes the CEO is one of the worst people to talk to. “Maybe if I can talk to the IT people I can work out a way to undelete the old records or something.”
“I’m not sure that would help.” Something odd entered his voice there. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him all the sudden. “We’ve got our people working on it as hard as they can.”
“Yes.” I agreed. “But there may be something more that can be done.”
“Very well.” He agreed, but I could help but feel he was doing it to try and make me not think about the tone that was in his voice. “Our IT head is Tom Stout, shall I have him call you?”
“Why don’t you give me the number?” I said. “I’ll have to do a few things before I’ll be ready to call him.”
“I’ll tell him to expect your call.” He said, and then gave me the number.
I thanked him, hung up and started the engine of the Hudson. Something was already starting to sound wrong, something had already gone wronger than it should have. I should have been able to pick up her records in five minutes, even have them e-mailed right to my desk, but they didn’t exist now. They had been removed, which raised the level of complexity quite a bit. This wouldn’t just be an ordinary common garden variety snatch and grab job then. It would be something someone planned and possibly used Jill to help plan. I worried that someone had decided to make her part of her own kidnapping.
As I drove long the street, I passed what looked like a birthday party, or possibly a graduation. There were balloons taped to the mail box and a few had fallen to the side of the road. I saw a blue balloon get caught up from the side of the road by the air stream from the car in front of me. It danced through the air, carried on the currents of the road. It zipped around my car and I sort of hoped that I didn’t roll over it with my tire and crush it. When I glanced in my mirror I saw that it was still around, and was caught by another car going the opposite direction. It then spiraled on the dying current of air and settled neatly on the other side of the road.
I wished it well, hoping that its journey was complete and that it had got to where it wanted to go. I hoped it was going to be picked up and tossed back and forth across the road until it was finally smashed under a tire it couldn’t get away from. One of us, between me and the balloon, should get to where we were going without having to be crushed.
I got on the highway and started back to my office, wary of what I would find on the computer when I opened it up and got a good look. I knew that a lot of the time it turned out that these girls were run aways, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t still in danger. It would mean that she could be harder to find though, because she wouldn’t want to be found and might have covered her tracks.