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The Woman Who Made Everyone Equal

tomb76:

Edited a bit.

Originally posted on Passages:

Once Upon a Time, there was a woman who had three little tots. This woman was not very bright. In fact, she was rather stupid.

To demonstrate just how ignorant the poor woman was, one fine day, when she was out and about the cottage, picking flowers with her children, she said to herself, “Oh! I am so lucky. My children are all happy, even if they are not all equal. For, one of my children has bright, flashing eyes, and another has dull vision, and can barely see. And one of my children has a beautiful voice, and yet another croaks like a toad. And still another child is fleet of foot, and another is slow.”

After a few minutes of contemplating such thoughts, the silly woman began to feel rather alarmed. She put her fingetip to her bottom lip, and peering left, then peering right, said to herself…

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Harvey Murray Glatman

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Harvey Glatman had a sort of Howdy Doody visage. Or, at the very least, he seems to have had such a visage in the famous picture we’ve seen of him. Another character he calls to mind is the hapless nebbish Seymour Krelborn, the unwitting slave of the man eating plant in the cult horror classic Little Shop of Horrors. In short, he was something of a nerdy little fellow.

As a young boy, born in 1938, he was always fairly orderly and normal, even well-behaved, with only the small eccentricity of having a bizarre fixation with ropes. “I always seemed to have a rope in my hands,” he would later confess. He was, naturally, the knot-tying champion of his Boy Scout troupe.

Sometime around the age of twelve, obviously in an experimental mood, young Harvey repaired to the upstairs attic with one of his ropes. Hanging it about his neck, he committed an act of self-mutilation which left tell-tale scars around his neck. His mother dismissed this, later, as his way of getting “satisfaction.”

(One might call to mind the old saying about “denial isn’t a river in Egypt.”)

Young Harvey had other strange, irritating foibles, like stealing his female playmates’ little purses and running away cackling. He would then turn and throw them back to them. Odd behavior for a sexually-developing teenage boy, we think.

Harvey would graduate to much more dangerous games later.

He accosted a woman in a parking lot, using a toy pistol to frighten her into disrobing. After she began to scream hysterically, he panicked and fled, being captured by police soon after.

Released on bond, the last thing Harvey wanted to do was wait around for his trial. Making his way east, he ended up in New York, lying low for a little while, only surfacing to commit the most mundane robberies.

It was this that finally lead to his imprisonment. He spent two years at Sing Sing, emerging a seemingly changed man. His new era of reform saw him heading west this time, toward the sun baked shorelines and steaming asphalt jungles of LA. It was here that young Harvey made his attempt to “go straight,” becoming a modest businessman specializing in TV repair.

For six years Harvey kept the inner demons at bay, going about his business in a quiet, mannerly fashion, never socializing, but always (we must assume) fighting the inner struggle against his personal will toward destruction. It was a fight in which he most certainly WOULD NOT prevail.

He began to practice amateur photography, perhaps not even himself aware of the final objective of his sudden new interest. Of course, as a “photographer” he could, more easily, have access to young women, women hopeful to begin careers as fashion models, or just tempted by Harvey’s offer of a quick fifty bucks to pose.

(Note: Decades later, Milwaukee maniac Jeffrey Dahmer would use a similar ruse to lure young men and boys to his abode.)

He found a willing prospect in the person of the recently-married Judy Ann Dull, an attractive nineteen-year-old girl who had the great misfortune to call for Glatman when her television went on the fritz. Glatman casually mentioned that he was a “freelance photographer,” and that he was on assignment for a detective magazine.

“The usual bound and gagged type stuff,” he confided in her. His mind must have already been filling with sordid, perverted desires.

He promised fifty dollars. She acquiesced. Whatever possessed her to do so, her guardian angel must have been out that particular fatal day.

She willingly got in the car with Glatman, who quickly produced a gun and warned her against screaming. He drove to his apartment, ushered her inside stripped off her clothing, raped her repeatedly, then did the “typical bound and gagged stuff” while she sat helpless in a chair. He photographed her a number of times, hustled her back out to the car, and drove out to the desert.

He found a secluded spot, dropped her there, took more photographs, and, suddenly realizing he couldn’t very well leave her alive to identify him, strangled her with one of his ropes. He covered the body with a shallow layer of dirt, but it was found by hikers only a few month later.

He was now beginning his new avocation in earnest, feeling at the top of his game. Though no one can be certain, of course, what goes through the corrupted consciousness of an individual like Glatman, we wonder if their actions seem almost like the actions of a sleepwalker or zombie. In other words: Are they sometimes outside themselves, watching themselves perform meticulous and often baffling actions, so clueless as to the motives and meaning behind their bizarre actions and behaviors that they might as well just be passengers along for the ride? Are we giving too much credence to the belief in possession?

Whatever the case, the next victim was obtained when Glatman took out an advertisement in a lonely hearts advice section in the newspaper. It was here that he met Shirley Ann Bridgeford, a thirty-year-old woman recently divorced. He told her he was a plumber.

He made a date to take her dancing. She obviously wore formal dress, and be began to drive out toward the desert, until he explained that the club was “out a ways.”

Soon, they were in a spot he decided was sufficiently secluded to spring his true plans on the tragic young woman. Glatman later told investigators he had already decided to kill her before he even got her tied up and undressed, but that he used the bondage photos of Judy Dull to convince Bridgeford he was only going to “shoot some pictures.”

He commenced an act of rape, dispatched the woman in the same manner as his first victim, and left the body exposed to the elements. Now, he must have felt like a man a thousand feet tall; as if he were invincible, we assume.

The final act of madness in the Glatman drama would see him finally apprehended and imprisoned. Fighting with what would have been his fourth victim at the side of the road, he was seen by a passing patrol car.
The jig was up for the nerdy little fellow.

We would like to have dragged this chapter out in our customary habit of enlarging and expanding everything we do, to give YOU, the Faithful Reader MORE, MORE, MORE…in the words of Stephen King, we are sometimes afflicted with “literary elephantiasis.” Alas, about the nebbish little Seymour Krelborn serial killer, there is not much more to say: he died at San Quentin, September 18, 1959. He was 32.

In an interesting aside, he is believed by some investigators to also have been responsible for a hit-and-run murder, the killing of a young woman known for fifty years only as “Boulder Jane Doe,” in Boulder, Colorado. The woman has been recently identified, through DNA, as being Dorothy Gay Howard, who disappeared at the age of 18. Glatman is believed to have mowed her down with his 1951 Dodge Coronet. But, of course, at thislate date, who can positively say?

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You Broke MY Aeroplane!

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Null sat down with his father at the long table. The place was bustling.

–I usually try to avoid buffets.

He said gloomily.

His father didn’t reply. Null supposed he shouldn’t have said anything at all.

–We’re supposed to be meeting them here.

–Cousins? I don’t think I’ve ever been introduced.

His father fiddled with a menu. Null wondered aloud why a buffet restaurant bothered printing menus, until something large and vaguely pink and unappetizing was thrust in front of his face.

He had heard the dismal whining upon first entering the place, but had no idea it would have any association with himself. He thought, A mentally impaired child.

He couldn’t see, through the milling crowd, where exactly it was coming from.

He looked up in wonder (and slight horror) at the swollen, deformed appendage that was suddenly hanging, suspended in mid air, before him. That enormous, swollen, pink appendage was thrusting itself from a delicate short shirt sleeve, attached to the most svelte, adorable little body he had spied in a long while.

Horrible arm attached to a beautiful young girl, he thought in wonder. Quite a paradox.

The arm looked like it might belong to a giant, fleshy crab; the hand was a misshapen thing, fingers grown together into a large,

–Fin or flipper, as Frederick Treves might have said about Joseph Merrick’s hand.

Indeed, as far as he could tell, both arms seemed nearly identical, as if this young girl (cousin?) was simply stricken by fate to carry around the macabre arm of the Elephant Man.

She was so petite and delicate, so pale and princess pretty, it was hard to believe the pathetic, warbling speech impediment she was cursed with gave the chiefest indication of her mental handicap. At any rate, she sat down and continued making pathetic noises, which Null found grossly irritating. She fiddled with a peculiar toy, a sort of plastic aeroplane painted light green. She whined and wailed, a noise that set Null’s nerves quite on edge as he waited to begin eating.

–Only a vegetarian now, he thought. Suddenly, on impulse, he picked up the toy, flinging it across the room. It smashed into the wall opposite; but it must have been made of jade or something, because plastic doesn’t break into pieces. For some reason, Null found himself remembering a series of crime scene photos he had once seen, an old case from the Thirties.

A Japanese businessman had murdered his wife, and then committed a particularly grisly ritual disemboweling of himself. Before he had committed suicide, though, he had placed a jade plaque upon his wife’s breast. To be fair, he had committed suicide in the bathtub; no mess for anyone else to clean up. Or, at least, this is how Null remembered it.

The girl leaped from her seat, ran across the crowded restaurant, picked up the pieces of her toy, began to wail. Null wondered if he hadn’t, inadvertently, mistaken a religious object for a toy.

But:

–You broke it! You broke it! You broke my aer-o-plane!\

Null supposed that that was true.

Just an incident…

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Art, Books, Dreams and Nightmares, Experimental, Famous Serial Killers, Fiction, Ghosts, Hauntings, Humor, Murder, Short Stories, short-short, Urban Legends, Weird, Young Adult

Really, Liz

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The place was only opened at Halloween time. It was a two story Victorian of monumental ugliness. It had, from the appearance of the street, a sort of box-like, rectangular visage, like a long square stone head at Easter Island.

The windows were vacant and eye-like rectangles of black. Long black eyelets peering out into the world.

Of course it was supposedly haunted. Sure enough, it was opened as an attraction by a local women’t group every Halloween. This was to secure additional funds for the domestic violence shelter.

The lot of them trooped in–four children and two adults–and felt the first few tinges of excitement at the perceptibly cool air, the deep, rih aroma of must and age, as they stood, looking up at the bottom of the stairs.

As always, the theme was the Lizzie Borden Murder House. They waited a few minutes in the foyer.

“She seems so life-like,” said one of the little girls, examining a mannequin dressed in an ancient Victorian hoopskirt, black, with long frilly sleeves.

The dummy was holding a candleabrum. When the dummy spoke to them, the adults froze, worried looks crossing their faces. The children shrieked and laughed excitedly.

“Welcome to our humble abode, the abode of the Borden family of Fall River, Massachusetts. Or should I say, Fallen River? [sinister laugh]”

The mannequin, which had become a tour guide (who had played the part of a stiff very well, thought one of the adults) came forward, and, holding out hand as if to say, “Follow me,” said “Follow me! Enter freely of your own will, and leave some of the happiness you bring. Here in the parlor, we have the late Mr. Borden. As you can see, someone has left quite a mess in here…”

One of the adults wondered if children should really be allowed to see such sights, but the others were thrilled and delighted to enter the parlor and view the wax mannequin with its surfeit of blood and what looked like raw hamburger covering its collapsed face. Blood was spattered dripping from the wall behind the sette upon which the elder Borden reclined. the room itself was an authentic museum display, but rough around the edges; it was assembled in a hurly burly fashion, by folks that apparently had taken great delight in stuffing it full of every antique they could find, whether or not it belonged, logically, to a living room ensemble.

There were an old-fashioned organ, a number of tables spilling forth with Daguerrotype photographs, various end tables with frilly, doily coverings arranged in a haphazard, even careless manner. There were actual mannequins, faceless embodiments of a bygone age, wearing stiff Victorian costumes, positioned about.

In an alocove, an old-fashioned photographer bent, his head covered by a funereal black cloth, at the massive box which was his insrument. Posing stiffly for him, another faceless mannequin forever posed in her massive, ponderous dress.

“Faceless dolls. So creepy.”

“Yeah, it really gives me the willies. Say, was this here last time?”

Her companion, a woman named Jill, pointed to a huge green stove that now rested in a corner of the room. It looked like an ancient cook stove.

“They really ought to put more thought into this place. Who the hell keeps a kitchen stove in the living room? Er, kept, I mean. Past tense.”

Her companion smiled a tight little smile.

“Yeah, but the kids like it. And it is Halloween. Oooh, aaah!”

She put her arms up in front of her face, her fingers splayed out.

“C’mon, we’re going to have to get going if we’re going to get them trick or treating before the night ends.”

“Sure. But, we still have to see the upstairs.”

Her friend looked down at Mr. Borden. The hamburger or whatever the hell it was they had spread on his face along with the stage blood was going to start stinking pretty soon. She wanted to be gone before it did.

Suddenly, Jill’s friend Jen looked up, noticed their illustrious guide (who had been explaining the details of the murder: “…Lizzie went to the door, told the neighbor woman, ‘Fetch help. Someone’s killed father.’ Of course, most likely it was Lizzie herself.”) was vanished. Another Halloween trick? She wasn’t sure, but she suddenly went out into the hall, saying “Miss? Miss? Excuse me?”

She looked up at the top of the stairs. A lonely figure was standing up there. Another Victorian. Their tour guide.

She went back into the living room for her children and friends.

“Ready for the upstairs gang?” she asked.

“Our guide is waiting.”

(It has been noted that the upstairs of the actual Borden home is a monumentally bizarre collection of rooms and no hallways, bedrooms opening into eachother. What psychological effect this living arrangement had on the subsequent tragic events can only, for the reader, be a matter of conjecture. We suppose in this particular spook house reproduction of the upstairs rooms, the death scene of the unfortunate stepmother Abbie Durfee Borden was recreated with a kind of macabre panache.)

They walked out into the vestibule, to the foot of the stairs. Jill fell behind while the rest of them followed he dark, ponderous shape up the curving staircase, which was lost in shadow above.

Jill suddenly realized someone was standing behind her on the stairs. She turned, her heart racing a little.

A large woman with frizzy hair and a dark, sheer skirt, too small for her ample backside, presented herself cheerily. Smiling, she held out her hand.

“Hello. Pleased to meet you. I’m Lizzie Borden.”

For some reason Jill found herself saying, as if to reasure herself, “You mean, you’re an actress. Supposed to be LIzzie Borden.”

To which the woman replied, with a little confused downturn of her mouth.

“No. I’m Lizzie Borden. Lizzie Borden. [Pause] You know, history doesn’t lie.”

To which Jill replied, “So, you’re an actress, playing Lizzie Borden. Must be fun.”

And now the woman looked as if she was getting a little steamed. Her ears burned bright red, and she thrust out her hamhock hand again to shake, saying, “No. I’m Lizzie. I’m Lizzie Borden. I’m really LIZZIE…”

Jill felt she might be in the presence of an insane person.

“You know,” said Lizzie, “history doesn’t lie.”

Red droplets fell from her clenched fist to the carpet below. Jill wondered if the woman had, inadvertantly, crushed a sprig of grapes.

“So…you’re an actress?”

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No Answer

So here we are, working these shit jobs. And I mean, man, it is literally a shit job. It’s a kitchen in back of a pizza restaurant, and it must have been a large mens’ room at one point, because it looks like the place was barely refurbished to make it a kitchen.

So Josh is washing dishes at this sink way too small, so some of the spillover has to go into this bathtub-like sink…it looks like an old-fashioned, grey, rusted bathtub. And shit, literal liquid shit is dripping through the pipes and rolling down the wall like liquid tobacco streaks, and we’re trying to make pizzas and the owner, who is this fat man with a weird white mane of hair comes wisping out at odd angles on the sides of his bald pate, sticking up at comic book angles, comes in chomping a cigar or whatever, and says, “I have just been informed the Health Inspection Board is on their way. Get this damn place cleaned up! It stinks like a toilet–”

And just as he says this, he looks down at the tub sink, and liquid sewage is spilling out of the faucet, all over the dishes, and he turns as white as a sheet of paper, and the heat and stench in the place is boiling, and I say, “Let’s go out in the loading dock for a minute, catch a smoke before we start this shit.”

And Josh agrees. We go out on the cement loading dock, and back here it smells like the dumpster, like plastic trash bags and rotting meat, and lying on the dirty, gravel-strewn lot, in an oil slick, is what looks like a dead body.

“Jesus, is he drunk or even alive?”

“It’s probably some homeless guy. Maybe he crawled into a dumpster to keep warm.”

Josh looks at me with incredulity painting his puckish features.

“And then crawled back out to die Like a roach? He could keep plenty warm out on the sidewalk. It’s a hundred and ten around here at night. Hot as Hell.”

I point with the end of my cigarette.

“Look. He’s got an apron on. No bum. He’s a former employee.”

It was a few minutes later that a guy in a biohazard suit comes out carrying something in his arms.

I turn, flick my cigarette away. I think he is holding a bushel of rotten bananas or something. Then I gag. My stomach churns.
He throws the thing off the end of the loading dock. It lands beside the body of the former employee.

“That’s not bananas, is it Josh? Josh?”

No answer.

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The Woman Who Made Everyone Equal

Once Upon a Time, there was a woman who had three little tots. This woman was not very bright. In fact, she was rather stupid.

To demonstrate just how ignorant the poor woman was, one fine day, when she was out and about the cottage, picking flowers with her children, she said to herself, “Oh! I am so lucky. My children are all happy, even if they are not all equal. For, one of my children has bright, flashing eyes, and another has dull vision, and can barely see. And one of my children has a beautiful voice, and yet another croaks like a toad. And still another child is fleet of foot, and another is slow.”

After a few minutes of contemplating such thoughts, the silly woman began to feel rather alarmed. She put her fingetip to her bottom lip, and peering left, then peering right, said to herself, a little fearfully, “Why, what will happen when the one child with the dull vision realizes his brother has bright flashing eyes? Will he not become jealous, and angry, and seek revenge against the world and God because he was not so blessed? What good is it to have three wonderful children if they are not all equal?”

So, an idea immediately popping into her silly noggin as to how she should remedy this situation, she called to the child with the bright, flashing eyes, and said, “Oh! Gunther, kommen sie hier! Mama has something for you!”

And the dutiful child, his pockets bulging with the flowers he had picked, came trotting over to where his mother sat in the shade of the bushes.

She said to him, “Gunther, you have such bright, flashing eyes, such excellent vision. It would not do for you to lord it over your brother Hans, who can barely see. So, I am going to make the both of you equal!”

And with that, she picked up a sharpened stick, and poled little Gunther in the eyes.

The boy let out a terrifying cry and clutched his bleeding eyes. He was now blind.

“Well, that settles that,” said the foolish woman to herself. But, after a few moments, she began to be worried. She said to herself, “Hans has such a beautiful singing voice, but little Victor croaks like a toad. What will happen if Hans begins to be puffed up and lords it over Victor? Victor may become melancholy, or even angry, and may run away and join the circus! Oh! This will never do! Once again, I shall have to make everyone equal!”

And so the woman (who must have really been quite mad) called to her little tot, “Oh Hans, kommen sie hier bitte! Mama has something for you!”

And little Hans trotted over. His mad Mama said, “Hans, you have such a beautiful singing voice, yet your brother Victor croaks just like a toad. It would not do for you to lord it over your brother Victor, who cannot sing a note. So I am going to make everyone equal!”

And with that, she produced a cup of lye, and forcing open Hans’ mouth, made him drain it to the dregs.

He clutched his throat in agony as the lye burned his vocal cords away. He would have screamed from the pain, but now he could not produce even a peep.

“Well, that settles that,” said the woman to herself, wiping off her hands. After a few moments of reflection though she, once again, began to feel sorely troubled. She said to herself, “Little Victor is so fleet of foot, so fast, but his brothers are slow and rather clumsy. What will happen if Victor begins to lord this over his other brothers? Will they not become bitter and resentful at Victor’s amazing speed? Is it really fair that Victor is so fast and agile and the others so slow? Hm. Yet again, I am going to have to go out of my way to make everyone EQUAL.”

And so she called to her little son, “Victor, kommen sie hier bitte! Mama has something for you!”

And young Victor came trotting up. Mama said to him, smiling, “Victor, you are quick and fleet of foot, yet your brothers are slow and clumsy oafs. It will not do for you to lord it over your brothers, who may come to hate and resent you for it. Therefore, I am going to make EVERYONE EQUAL.”

And so she smacked Victor on the kneecaps with the back of an axe. The boy shrieked in pain, and held his hands over his bleeding leg. He hobbled away, crippled now for the rest of his life.

The stupid woman smiled to herself, put her hands on her hips, and surveying the carnage around her, said, “Well, that settles that. NOW they are all equal!”

Just then, the woman’s husband came home from chopping wood. When she saw him, she ran up to greet him. Throwing her hand about his head, she said, “Oh my husband! I have done the most wonderful thing. I have assured peace and tranquility in our family by making everyone equal. For, Gunther had beautiful eyes and good vision, and Hans did not. So I poked Gunther in the eyes. And Hans had a beautiful voice, and Victor did not. So I made Hans drink lye. And Victor, of course, was fleet of foot, yet his brothers were awkward and slow. So I hit Victor in the knee with this axe. And now, now, they are ALL EQUAL. Oh my husband, am I not the most diligent and thoughtful of wives?”

And the man, seeing the horrors inflicted n his sons, spat “Woman, you’ve ruined us! Now we have a lame man, a blind man, and a mute to care for for the all of their lives!”

And, because justice was meted out pretty harshly in those days, the agonized woodsman swung his mighty axe and chopped the stupid woman’s head clean from her body.

And the moral of this story is: don’t lose your head trying to make everything equal. Some people are blind, lame, unpleasant and stupid, and others are not. But dragging one down to the level of the other will only ensure both become a misery and burden.

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An Unseemly Pose

Originally posted on Passages:

An Unseemly Pose

As I was stepping out of the department store, I spied a strange man crouched down on one knee, with his hand in his pants. He was clearly fondling himself. His other hand was over his eye. “That,” I said, “is an unseemly pose.” The man was quite clearly cupping his privates. The bulge in his pants testified to that.

Was anyone else going to do anything about this bizarre vulgarian? “He’s clearly mentally ill,” said my friend. “Just ignore such people.” I turned to walk away, but, as I looked back over my shoulder, I could see that he was as frozen as if he had been made of stone. Also, he seemed to be wearing a short, plastic cape, like something he took from a Halloween costume. I’m sure the police took him away. Or, perhaps there was a hidden, candid camera I could not see.

Sometimes, our…

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