Friday, October 7, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Couple of Horrors

It’s not my fault we live in the middle of the woods. It’s not hers, either, but I can use this. We finish Nightmare on Elm Street around 2:30 AM and hustle to get it in the mailbox before the morning mail. That is a quarter mile trek under an overcast of clouds and boughs, so I bring the flashlight. An actual fog rolls between the trees, making Lita shiver despite her coat and long skirt.

“I don’t know why they remake classics,” I say, depositing the Netflix envelope. I close the lid and flip up the flag. “You know, why not just remake crappy movies? Ones that will benefit from new effects or re-writing?”

She inhales through her nose, loud and elegant, and we both know that no matter how many flaws I can find in this remake, she’ll be afraid to go to sleep tonight. It’s not my fault. Not hers, either, but I can use this. I eye the distance to the edge of the road. About three steps. When we get far enough from the mailbox, I shut off my beam.

She hollers, “Turn it back on!”

“Let me find the switch. I’ve lost it.”

“That’s not funny!”

She knows because I’ve done this before. I shamble the three steps to the edge of the road, out of her reach. I can hear her fumbling around for me. Probably for my neck.

I ask into the middle of the road, “What are you afraid of?”

Her reply is stillness. She’s not walking forward anymore. Though it’s dark, I think I see her outline folding its arms. The queen is displeased.

I offer, “This flashlight is old. The batteries might be dead.”

“That is not funny,” she says in a tone that would express ‘That is not funny’ even if it were saying, ‘Please pass the lime jell-o.’

“Come on. You think Freddy is out here?”


“Because he can only get you in your dreams.”

“He’s not real.” She unpacks her sentences one word at a time. Very intimidating when she can look me dead in the eye, but not so scary out here. “He’s in a crappy movie. Now turn the light back on.”

I feel air rush across my forehead as she swipes to catch me. I shamble a few paces up the road.

“Maybe Wolfman?” We watched two of the Universal classics last week. They still make great jokes. “Are you afraid Wolfman is out here?”
“It’s not Wolfman,” she says too hastily for me to be sure she’s honest. “Your bad knee. You could twist it and go right back into a wheelchair.”

“You’ve got three inches on me and you know Judo. If Wolfman is out here, you’d kick his ass.”

“There is no Wolfman. Turn the light on now!”

Another swipe of fingers, this time against the corduroy of my coat. I try to edge further away, but she’s in range. Fists curl in my lapel and haul me into the center of the road. My cheek mashes into her chest, one of the nicest things I could possibly find out in the middle of the wilderness. Then she elbows me in the ribs and gropes around for the flashlight. I stretch my arm as far from my body as I can.

“Quit it!”

“Quit what?”

It’s hard not to do this. She is the one who doesn’t flinch when we open the bills, but she’s also the one whose grip left welts on my arm at Paranormal Activity 2. 2! God, I love her.

My arm trembles, then fails and bends under hers. I try to worm away, but that arm winds up pinned behind my back.

There’s a click. We can see each other again. There is no burned serial killer or lycanthropic monster. Only a frowning woman with a green scrunchy in her hair.

I actually lean up to kiss her, but she keeps my arm in the hammerlock. That’s fair. It only takes her one arm to pin mine. Her free hand raises to tap the side of my head with the flashlight.

She commands, again unpacking that sentence word-by-word: “You don’t do that.”

“No. You’re right. I should have been much further away before I turned it off.”

Two broader beams illuminate us from around the bend. They advance until she releases my arm, and we stand aside as the Saab passes us up the main road. Its headlights shine on our right sides. Her right side looks so cordial, though her hand still threatens to break my wrist. So I ask.

“You think Wolfman learned to drive?”

I think most girls and women would have said something dismissive. All the ones who got me best, all two of them, would have said, “You’re horrible.”

Lita doesn’t. She gives up my arm and leans down to press a faint smile into the stubble of my neck. The potential for a one-liner is thick in the atmosphere and goes unbreathed. We return to the house chatting about the logistics of a Wolfman Vs. Freddy movie.

I will do this again. I will deserve what comes to me and it won’t be that bad even if I deserve worse. This is because I’ve done it before, when we watched The Descent, and 1408, and Wait Until Dark. And every time when we leave the house for the mailbox and the pitchblack of the woods, she lets me hold the flashlight.


  1. Very sweet. I smiled the whole way through.

  2. Even though I thought I knew nothing creepy was going on (I mean, Freddy doesn't actually exist. Right?), you still had me on the edge of my IKEA swivel chair. I totally thought it was someone else who had him in the arm lock. Nice work.

  3. Nice. The best part of any scary movie is the sex afterwards.

  4. I love this John! I too thought it was a monster that had hold of him but so glad it wasn't. Having her whoop him is so much better.

    This line: "She unpacks her sentences one word at a time." is very telling of the dialogue - fantastic work!

  5. TS, glad it caught you. I figured I'd show my soft side once this October.

    TVS, right? Do you have one in your life?

    Scribbler, welcome back from abroad. You really got that tense for him? That feels like an achievement. Thank you for letting me know.

    Michelle, thanks!

    Tony, the movie itself has always been the highlight for me. May be why I have such trouble with romance.

    Deanna, I've definitely some women (and one woman in particular) who talked this way. Have you ever pulled it out on somebody?

  6. Always a fresh twist on language with you - "The potential for a one-liner is thick in the atmosphere and goes unbreathed." - stuff like that. Love it.

    I like the addition of the strong girlfriend too, funny, and the ending is perfect.

  7. I loved this. Absolutely loved every word.

  8. The last paragraph wraps everything up nicely. It's the game they enjoy playing between the end of the movie and bedtime…

  9. This was awesome and I hope it's true.

  10. So much love and romance in just one scene. This rules.

  11. What a meanie! But she stayed strong. :)

  12. I would have brought my own flashlight (big, to hit him with.)

  13. Worra woman!! And worra totally fantastic relationship, these two were definitely meant to be together.

  14. Cute, funny, extremely well-written. I kept waiting for a zombie or a vampire, or whatever is current trend, to come creeping out of the darkness, and was so glad none did. Nice, fresh, genuine story told in a great voice by a gifted storyteller.

  15. A good slice of life, John. Like Deanna, I enjoyed the "upacked" line. A cool way to describe how something is said.

    One sentence stopped me, though.

    "They advance until he releases me arm..."

    Did you mean she and my instead?

  16. It's fun that they do this often, and would make a nice set up for a future piece in which something unexpected does happen, an appearance from Freddy or Wolfman or some other bad guy? I hope you bring these characters back for a new twist, I'll be on the lookout.

  17. Erin, I do get worried when my language feels too conventional. Part of the self-examination process, I guess. Glad that lined clicked for you!

    Bev, did you love any words in particular? Regardless, glad it elicited that reaction.

    Larry, you betcha!

    Madison, it is actually closer to truth than fiction.

    Raven, thanks! I figured I should bust out the slightly softer side for at least one day of October.

    Tiyana, I think if she wasn't strong, he wouldn't behave that way. He probably also wouldn't be spending his nights walking with her.

    Danni, it's the only kind I've got.

    Sonia, you'd make a good movie monster, you.

    Steve, they are definitely lucky to have met each other.

    K.D., wow, this comment bowled me over. Thank you so much for the ecstatic praise.

    Stephen, thanks for catching that. It was an artifact of a previous draft, and not me writing in a pirate voice.

    Liminal, sorry if their slice-of-life bored you. I'm afraid they live in a world without so many Freddies and Wolfmen, and this will probably rest as a one-off. Stories will get more outlandish and active soon, I promise.

  18. The most telling part of this the story was that she always lets him hold the flashlight. Very good work. for a moment I thought these two were mother and son, but then it resolved, despite the darkness, into these two movie buffs and made for each other movie buffs.

    Perhaps their low key banter helps keep the real monsters away on the long walk home.

    Good job.

    Doug (Ironwoodwind)

    (Google Blogger is mad at me for defecting to WordPress and I never know if it will let me sign in as me. thanks for bearing with me.)

  19. Nicely done Mr Wiswell - truely lovely piece

  20. Lovely interactions between them. Bills are horrifying truly!

  21. A)I said "awwww" when he said she always let him hold the flashlight.
    B)Glad you didn't run them down with the saab.

    Cuz then it'd be a saab story.

    [yeah, I really tried not to say that]

  22. Loved this so much, and then I got to the last line and it got EVEN BETTER. I adore this story and these two people.

  23. You had me expecting creepy throughout this. I really like the way you paced this through the dialogue and the action / thoughts in between that amped up wondering whether something would appear out of the woods.

  24. This felt really fresh and different. I love happy endings and they're hard to find this time of year!

  25. Aw John, this reads like a true story, a sweet one at that! Love it!

  26. Lucky man he has an understanding woman!

    This story made me smile John.

  27. This made me miss you more than anything. *hugs*

  28. Doug, really, when did you determine them as mother and son? And what made you change your mind? Any specific points?

    Haze and virginia, so glad you liked it! Thanks!

    Karen, why do I have to be the Saab driver?

    Jemma, it just wouldn't work without the ending. I hope the meaning there had been implicit to some degree all along, but it needed sewing up.

    Aidan, now is it my reputation, or the prose execution, or something else that left you thinking they were doomed?

    Peter, that's a good point about happy endings. I don't think there will be one in the rest of my October #fridayflashes, so it's good I got one in now.

    Harry, it is closer to non-fiction than fiction! But I say no more.

    Helen, lucky to find anybody this understand!

    Vanessa, I miss you two. You ought to visit some time, you know?

  29. It didn't bore me, I enjoyed it! Sorry if my comment seemed to suggest otherwise.


Counter est. March 2, 2008