Friday, November 17, 2017

Physical Therapy Has Gone to the Dogs!

For those of you who've been reading my blog, you know of our travails with our beloved, recently three-legged dog, Zak. 

Four weeks ago, the worst scenario happened. Zak had blown out the ligaments on his remaining back leg, completely unable to walk. Until our appointment with Zak's surgeon to verify what we knew to be the truth, I spent a long, torturous five days saying goodbye to our pet. We didn't--couldn't--put him (or us) through another "iffy" operation. But...sigh...things change and Zak's now going through the long, hard, nerve-wracking road to recovery and rehabilitation again after yet another operation.

Which is why we took him to a doggy physical therapist. I know, right? Physical therapy for dogs, who'd 'a thunk it? But, hey, why not? We've already taken Zak to a doggy dentist and a doggy ophthalmologist. I imagine it's just a matter of time before he finds himself on the doggy psychiatrist couch (if he doesn't chew it up first). the therapist's waiting room, an assistant drags Zak away. We wait. Finally, the head therapist comes out, grills us, and leads us to our dog. 

We walk around the offices and through this frightening room full of cages. Busy people in all manner of blue and green and white lab coats are toying with the most sinister looking scientific equipment to be found anywhere this side of a Frankenstein film.

I thought, What kinda fresh Hell is this?

As if to answer my question, the therapist invites us into a utilitarian elevator, a grey box, something out of Hellraiser. Old-fashioned and cranky, the elevator drops us down into the bowels of a torturous Hell. I imagine I hear Zak's cries as he's subjected to needles and torches.

The elevator doors crunch open. Again, we weave through a maze of hallways, and finally enter a swinging door depositing us unto the final ring of doggy Hell.

And there lay Zak. Spread out on a mattress as four young women hugged, patted, and cooed at him like concubines attending to their three-legged harem king. The only thing missing were peeled grapes being hand-fed him.
Zak thumped his tail in approval. Stopped when he finally noticed us.

What the...?

This is physical therapy? Sign me up!

After the "Love-In" portion of therapy was completed, the women lowered Zak into an underwater treadmill.  We watched as they enclosed Zak inside a plastic tomb and water started to slowly fill up. Immediately, I thought of Harry Houdini or one of Batman's villain's traps. Then the treadmill started. Aquadog!
Zak's harem of therapists kept reassuring us that our dog would be so tired from his workout, he'd sleep for 24 hours. Hardly. Even with only two good legs, he had more energy than ever that night, ready to chase those damn rabbits outta our yard.

Our dog year continues...

Hey! For the best kind of therapy--laughter!--check out the newest book in my Zach and Zora comic mystery series, Nightmare of Nannies. (See what I did there?)
Clickie to purchase!

Friday, November 10, 2017

"If the cabdriver kills me, goodbye and I love you!"

My wife's final words that fateful day, delivered via an ominous email.
Here...let me run the message by you again...

"If the cabdriver kills me, goodbye and I love you!"

Exclamation point was all hers, too.

What was I to make of this? Had Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver picked her up on a one-way ride to oblivion? 

Immediately I fired back a phone call. Zip. Zilch. Dead zone.

So my wife was dead, slaughtered by a Kamikaze cabdriver on her way home from a medicinal marijuana ("Do they give out samples?" I'd asked her) summit in Denver, Colorado. 

I don't know if my wife is (was?) kidding, if she's alive, if I need to go unpeel her outta a cab in Denver or what.

I mean, what else could I assume?
I really, really hate electronic messaging.
It's nearly as bad as my daughter's text to me earlier this year: My mom just had a heart attack, can you watch my dog?

Wait...what? In a panic, I tried calling her back. I texted (and I loathe texting as I'm still on the ol' flip phone, tap, tap, tapping each button painstakingly three times just to get one letter and that's if I don't screw it up). No reply. Once again, I'm abandoned to the dead zone of drama with no recourse but to FREAK OUT.

Phone calls are good, people. Remember them? There's no mistaking a person's tone whether it's screamed in blood-curdling shrieks or spoken with mild amusement. Either way I'd get the message.

Which is just one of the many reasons I still haven't gone Smart Phonesque. I like hearing peoples' voices. I like the lost art of phone calling. And I don't want to end up like those restaurant people who don't communicate with the person they're eating with but instead teppity-tap away on their phones while slurping soup.

Ain't no smart phones in Peculiar County. Lots of other weird stuff, though. Click here to discover.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Let's hold up on the senior discount a bit longer...

Just like Winter on Game of Thrones, old age is coming.
Writing's on the wall and, man, I'd sure like to scrub it off.

The other day I took my mom to get her hair cut. In front of Great Clips, I kicked her out of my car, parked the vehicle, then ran inside to make sure she hadn't started some sorta race riot or something. Everything seemed relatively peaceful, so I took off to run an errand.

When I came back, one of the hair stylists (are they "stylists" if they work at Great Clips?), mumbled, "Welcome to Great Clips, can I help you?"

Well. One look at my shaved pate clearly supplied the answer. But things got worse. MUCH worse.

One of the other "stylists" said, "He's here to pick up his wife."

A great big A-OOH-GA horn blasted my skull to bits. A firing squad unleashed a torrent of bullets into my heart. My chest clenched up like a mean, coiled fist.

"Um...she's my mother," I squeaked, very much a cartoon mouse voice.

The offending stylist took a long, gawping look at me, then my mother, highly amused with herself. Doubtful looking even.

Good Gawd a'mighty! Do I really look like a doddering old man? Have I turned into my mother's peer overnight? Will I ever be able to scrape the horrific ramifications of what the anti-stylist said from my brain?

Mom, of course, was oblivious to the entire exchange. Just sitting in her Great Clips chair, with her Great Clips bib tucked beneath her Great Clips chin. When I later told her about the nightmare, she hooted. Loved it. Went on to brag about how someone couldn't believe how old she was the other day. She missed the sheer terror of it all completely.
  Several nights prior, I went to a movie with a buddy of mine. The ticket girl asked my friend if he wanted a senior ticket. He took offense, corrected her. As it didn't pertain to me (at the time), I laughed it off, chucked him in the shoulder, said, "Does that really bother you?"

He said, "Not really, but let's not rush things along."


Apparently Karma decided to rush my comeuppance for teasing my pal. At Great Clips, of all places. Stupid Karma. Karma probably even gets her haircut at Great Clips, too.

Kids today think anyone over say, 30, is ancient. And they can't be bothered to try and make an accurate age assessment. Just too much darn work.

Great Caesar's ghost! I didn't realize how late in the day it's getting on. I'm gonna miss the early bird supper down at the Shady Ache's home if I don't get my electric scooter in gear!

Nothing old about my newest book, the third in the Zach and Zora comic mystery series:

Do an old man's heart some good and click to buy.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Cursed Cat-Trail House by Catherine Cavendish

This week--and just in time for Halloween--I'm turning the blog over to excellent horror author Catherine Cavendish where she'll walk you through the haunted streets of Venice, a place about as far from Kansas as you could get. Here's Cat...
My latest novel – Wrath of the Ancients – is largely set in Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital and surely one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world. Its streets teem with culture and its proud residents are almost fiercely protective of their enigmatic, sometimes quirky, and endlessly fascinating homes, where everyone from Strauss to Klimt and Freud lived and worked.

Many buildings date from hundreds of years ago and undoubtedly, a number of them guard their secrets well. Few can have such a bizarre reputation as the former looming, sinister-looking Katzensteighaus (Cat-Trail House) at the corner of Seitenstettengasse 6 and Rabensteig 3. There has been a building on that site since at least the sixteenth century and to say it nourishes a chequered past is an understatement. According to legend, a woman who had committed adultery wanted to kill the wife of her lover by poison, but accidentally took the potion herself and died in agony.
For her sins, she was cursed and condemned to prowl the night as a white cat – her territory the roofs of the houses in that neighbourhood. Anyone who caught a glimpse of her would be pursued by bad luck.

Certainly the house seems to have heaped its own share of bad luck on a succession of owners. In 1522, during the total lunar eclipse of September 6th, a fire erupted from unknown causes and the owners, Christoph and Dorothea Pempfling lost their home and all their possessions. A man called Bonifaz Wolgemut rebuilt the house but it collapsed in the earthquake of 1590.

Over the centuries, the house did, of course, change hands many times – and was rebuilt more than once - but seems to have brought grief to anyone brave or foolhardy enough to own and live in it. The present building dates from 1825 and long stood out, simply because of the grimness of its fa├žade, in stark contrast with the buildings around it. 
Its empty black windows, decayed and looming presence stretched high above the curious passer-by who may have felt suddenly cold, sad and despairing. Broken window panes, crumbling plaster… The Vienna Ghosthunters held vigils there. There is no conclusive evidence to support the legend of the White Cat ghost but clearly the place had been unoccupied for many years. Below street level, some of the cellars have been partially bricked up, although no one could understand why. Also, they discovered a winding vault, leading under the road, but why it as constructed no one knows.

It is now surrounded by a seething night life – the famous bars and restaurants of the Bermudadreieck (Bermuda Triangle) and with any luck, the house’s morose and gloomy past is behind it. It has been completely renovated and part of the building houses the Vienna-Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies.

It remains to be seen what new stories this extraordinary, ordinary-looking building will write in the future.
Destiny In Death
Egypt, 1908
Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Vienna, 1913
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Wrath Of The Ancients
Available from:
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy - Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle CurseSaving Grace Devine and many more. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

You can connect with Cat here:

Friday, October 20, 2017

One Black Hair...

I'm extremely follicularly challenged. I have been since college.

Fair-haired, near a red-headed step-child, my hair loss was more the obvious for it.

My dad, a fellow member of the follicularly challenged team, used to try and coax me into applying the ol' trusty comb-over, something that fooled no one. But I just couldn't do it. No more than I could wear my pants up to my nipples, another strange peccadillo of my Dad's. But I digress.

Anyway, I said the hell with my hair loss, embraced it fully. I shaved the donut of hair off. Slick as a baby's bottom and proud of it.

I was just fine with it. Even got compliments. At Walmart of all places, some fellow baldist asked what I waxed my head with to get such a sheen. I said, "Um...sweat?"

But then Fate, the quirky, mean ex-girlfriend that she is, decided to play with the status quo. 

Recently I woke up with a single black hair poking out of my ear.


Not only have I never had black hair, but now I had a strong, sharp wire growing out of my ear lobe! Huzzah! A miracle! Better than pizza slices that resemble Jesus.

Except...not really.

What if I turned into a human porcupine, prickly black hairs sticking out everywhere? May as well sign up for the traveling freak show now. Or I might transform into a Chia headed creature, something out of a '50's horror film! 

With my fair complexion, I'd probably look like a freaky Bond villain.

(Me: "You see, my dear Mr. Bond, it's my intention to unleash my porcu-hair bomb onto an unsuspecting world!"

Bond: "Not if I have anything to say about it, Prickly-Ear!"

Me: "Oh, shut up, Connery! Everyone knows you wear a toupee!")

Bah. Hair's overrated.

For even stranger aberrations, click here for my newest book, Peculiar County.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Dumbening...

Sounds like a new, dreadful, direct to SyFy channel horror movie, yeah?

Wrong! It's me waxing not so eloquently on BWL Publishing's release of the goofiest Zach and Zora comic mystery yet (#3 if you're counting), Nightmare of Nannies!
The thing is, the book didn't start out to be goofy. No, I had grandiose plans to take the series into a more mature level (uh-huh), have Zach, my nincompoop "male dancing entertainer" protagonist grow in surprising ways (yeah, right).

Sigh. But these books pretty much write themselves.

When I started the book, I wondered what might happen if Zach fell in love (*Gasp!*). How it'd change him, wise him up, ground him in reality outside of a Baywatch fantasy. As a result, he'd be forced to grow up.

After all, it's what his sister, Zora--the no-nonsense sleuth-- would want.

But before you think I'm gettin' all weepy up in here and turning the Zach and Zora series into a Hallmark movie or something, consider the chapter-length foot chase involving Zach, a serial killer van, a kid on a skateboard, a mob, a mariachi band, an irritated bus driver, and of course, Zach's favorite tear-away pants.

Needless to say, Zach's never been one to heed the inevitable call of fate. Murder ensues, bedlam rains down, and silliness floods.

As they say, the road to maturity is pocked with pimples. Or something

And speaking of verbose folks, here's what comical mystery writer Heather Brainerd has to say about Nightmare of Nannies:
"I’m a big fan of the Zach & Zora series, and this is my favorite so far! Between Zora’s hilarious brood, Zach’s mariachi-fueled chase scene, and the marvelous sibling squabbling between Z & Z, this is a super entertaining read. With a fantastic cast of supporting characters (The hippie parents! The singing detective! Crazy nannies galore!), this book is fast, fun, and full of thrills."

So if you love the book, great! If not, I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, a kazillion times sorry...

(Order the madness by clicking here!)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemennnn...the Amazing Mr. Balloono!

I'm dieting right now. And it's sheer agonizing hell.

Not too long ago, while dressing, I called out to my wife, "Honey, my clothes are shrinking! Did you change the detergent or something?"
All of my life I've had a history of ballooning, then deflating again. I've gone from one extreme to the other more times than I can remember. Once, when I was younger, I lost close to 100 pounds.

That's a lotta weight to carry around and lose. But I did it. In a short span of time, too.

But apparently, I was a lot younger then. Hmph. The pounds don't seem to be shedding as quickly now. 

For seven long weeks or so, I've pretty much starved myself. I've forced myself to eat kale salads (does anyone truly like kale? Tastes like cardboard, but not nearly as good.), and other things a rabbit wouldn't touch. Every day I get on the treadmill and walk anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour, kicking into high speeds 'till my bad knee starts squelching and catching in the back. By the time I fall off the treadmill, I'm drenched in sweat, smelling worse than a men's locker room. I can't even make it to the sofa, panting and wheezing like bagpipes.

Worst of all, I've had to give up beer! (Well, at least in the fashion I used to enjoy it.) The horror! Can you imagine? What's next? Giving up oxygen?

All of this hard work and sacrifice for a lousy eleven pounds.

Frustrated, I asked my wife why I'm not dumping weight like I used to.

"Because it's harder to lose weight when you get older."

Huh. Of course. My shelf life for fast weight loss had expired. 

The other day my wife asks, "So, when you lose all of your weight, what kind of clothes do you want to get?"

"Well, since I'm an old man now," I snapped, "I may as well start dressing like one. Lessee...I need trousers long enough to reach my armpits, yet crawling up the ankles. Suspenders, maybe. Nice, sensible shirts. Black socks pulled up to the knees, with sandals on top. Ready? Let's go to Sears."

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Artistry of Outhouses with Author Suzanne de Montigny
My pal, author Suzanne de Montigny, has delivered a novel in BWL Publishing Inc’s Canadian Historical Bride series, Fields of Gold Beneath Prairie Skies. It’s an extremely entertaining book, lovingly recreated, and well-written. Let’s chat Suzanne up, shan’t we? (Everyone pretend like you’re sophisticated, hoist a pinky finger, and lift a glass of tea).

SRW: Suzanne! Welcome again, my friend. Tell everyone what Fields of Gold… is about.

SDM: Well, here’s the blurb:

French-Canadian soldier, Napoleon, proposes to Lea during WWI, promising golden fields of wheat as far as the eye can see. After the armistice, he sends money for her passage, and she journeys far from her family and the conveniences of a modern country to join him on a homestead in Saskatchewan. There, she works hard to build their dream of a prospering farm, clearing fields alongside her husband through several pregnancies and even after suffering a terrible loss. When the stock market crashes in ’29, the prairies are stricken by a long and abysmal drought. Thrown into poverty, she struggles to survive in a world where work is scarce, death is abundant, and hope dwindles. Will she and her family survive the Great Depression?

And here’s the book trailer in case you’re too lazy to read the blurb.

Fields of Gold Beneath Prairie Skies trailer!

SRW: Am I right in assuming this is based on your family lore?

SDM: It is indeed. It’s a story that’s been calling my name for quite some time. My dad spent the last ten years of his life writing his memoirs, and much of this novel is taken from those memoirs, though I do get fanciful at times and throw in things that never happened.

SRW: “Napoleon” is the lead guy’s name. Seeing as how he doesn’t really give heroine, Lea, much leeway in his marriage proposal, and how his namesake brings to mind a famous dictator, is Napoleon a short man? Does he suffer from “Little Big Angry Man Syndrome?”

SDM: Hahaha! Actually, he was a tiny man, but the sweetest guy you could ever meet. In general, most French-Canadians are a little on the short side. And Napoleon was a very popular name in Quebec around the turn of the 20th century.

SRW: Napoleon’s hardly a character in the first half of the book, almost a non-existent “Charlie Brown Adult.” Was this intentional? I mean, it's Lea's tale, after all.

SDM: Well….believe it or not, he really was like that. It was hard to find anything wrong with him. He was just a nice, even-tempered guy, though he succumbs to pressure later on and gets a little grumpy. Why, he even raises his voice a few times.

SRW: Suzanne, I think you have a writerly masochistic bent. Not since Alice went down the rabbit hole has a heroine suffered so much. Your protagonist, Lea, loses a number of babies. Yet her determination carries her through the day. Was this much more commonplace back in the ‘30’s when the book took place?

SDM: She lost three babies within a couple of months after their birth. Two of them were identical twin girls. But yes, it was really normal to lose babies back in the day. Take Mozart, for example, his wife had 6 kids, and only 2 survived. And Bach had 20 kids with only 10 surviving into adulthood. And both my grandmothers had 10 kids, losing three each. I think losing a baby was a lot easier back in those days as it was rather commonplace.

SRW: And the agony continues! Poor Lea trawls on through locusts, dirt storms, poverty, and lots and lots of potatoes. LOTS of potatoes. Potato soup, potato casserole, potato bugs. Even dresses made from potato bags. And that scene of plucking feathers from a chicken is nightmare-inducing. Worse, Napoleon builds his wife an outhouse made out of iffy material. Explain, please. (I’d like a drawing, too, as I want the readers to relive the outhouse agony).

SDM: Ah, the potatoes. Yes. And regarding the bathroom, not to gross anyone out, but they used to go out to the barn to do their business. After all, if the animals could, why not them? But in the winter time when it was 40 degrees below, they had this bucket with a cover in the house. Apparently, it stunk to high heavens. So Nap decided to build an outhouse using clay and straw after several years of this torment. First he had to mix it up, and then he had to slowly build the walls, waiting for the mud to dry before he added another layer. When all was ready, he made the roof from barn lumber, filling the hole he left in the barn with the same mud mixture.

SRW: Clearly the drought affected everyone worldwide back in the ‘30’s. It’s amazing this family persevered. I can’t imagine trying to hold down the fort while tons of dust is blowing inside your house. Wait… Let’s go back to that outhouse. That was based on reality, right?

SDM: Yes, it was. And if you really must know, it toppled down pretty quickly. And yes, apparently the dust storms were awful. They’d cough for days afterward not to mention the prairie had turned into a grey moonscape.

SRW: Okay, cool, just wanted to clarify. Anyway… I love the very odd way Lea decides to handle her kids’ out-of-control behavior near the end of the book. Extremely contemporary in feminist psychology, yet disturbing. I have to say it’s a very fascinating final dramatic scene. Defend yourself (without spoilers, natch).

SDM: Hate to say it, but that’s how people disciplined their kids back then. Lots of fire and brimstone, the strap, and threats. They weren’t alone. And you’ll be glad to know that Pol grew up to be a really kind, compassionate doctor. As for that last dramatic scene, well I exaggerated just a little.. well, okay, a lot.

SRW: Lea was a true trailblazer, a fiery sort who just wouldn’t take no for an answer, a heroine to be admired for…

Hold on, hold on. Wait. Let’s back-up a sec…

So…that outhouse was sanitary?

SDM: Umm, nothing’s sanitary on a farm.

SRW: And people actually used it? And didn’t die?

SDM: They thought they were living in the lap of luxury every time they used it. They were really disappointed when it fell.

SRW: What’d they use for toilet paper?

SDM: Pages of the Eaton’s catalogue. (Kind of like the Sears catalogue.)

SRW: Sorry, sorry, I’m getting sidetracked. I know Africa and China were particularly plagued with locusts throughout history. So was Canada, as in your book. Is this a fear factor for Canada’s future?

SDM: It’s certainly possible. Whenever there’s a heat wave in May/June.

SRW: Uh-huh, mm-hmm, that’s fascinating… 

Suzanne, did the outhouse toilet seat form-fit to anyone's bottom in particular since it was made of pliable material?

SDM: I think maybe that part was made of barn wood.

SRW: Splinters! Did the seat reshape after usage from different family members?

SDM: I hope not.

SRW: The picture you paint in your book isn't pretty. In the '30's, women didn’t appear to have many choices in life. Was it war-bride or starve?

SDM: Well, put it this way: People were stuck on the farm where they could at least grow a garden, so being married to a farmer was a good thing.

SRW: Did wealthier women in '30's Canada have indoor plumbing? Sorry, sorry! I keep getting derailed. Let’s get back to…

No! Forget it! I want to know about the outhouse! Was there ventilation?

SDM: Of course, silly. All outhouses have a little moon in the door.

SRW: That's what that moon's for! Have you ever used an outhouse?

SDM: Of course!

SRW: Maybe I'll get to use one some day. Keeping hope alive. Sigh… 

I liked your book lots, Suzanne. A fascinating, well-written tale recommended to history fiction buffs. Tell us where readers can find it.

SDM: Click here to purchase Fields of Gold Beneath Prairie Skies!

SRW: Now tell folks where they can find outhouses.

SDM: There are plenty of them up here in Canada.

SRW: I hear you’re giving one of your earlier novels for free?

SDM: Yup. Here it is.

Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy  FREE!

SRW: Thanks, Suzanne, for dropping by. Anyone else have any interesting outhouse anecdotes?

Friday, September 22, 2017

I'd Rather Have a Dumb TV...

Recently, we bought a new TV.

Not until we carted the sucker home, unboxed it, steadied it on top of an extraordinarily hard-to-put-together TV stand ("Aiiieeeeee, I broke my finger!") did we realize the model was  a "Smart TV."
How smart is it? Well, it's tons smarter than me. I can't even figure out how to turn the volume up. Sure, the instruction manual helpfully takes me through the steps of MacGuyvering a bomb made out of oatmeal and paper clips, but try finding any advice on how to turn the damn sound up!

The enclosed manual was no use. Tastefully done in nothing but simple, verbiage-free illustrations (probably to cut down on having to print four languages), I couldn't make heads or tails out of the drawings. Cavemen hieroglyphics. The picture of the two men on the floor next to each other, legs up bicycling, still has me mystified.

Occasionally, a robotic voice blurts, "For volume control, please see online manual." Course I can't figure out how to access the mysterious online manual. And if it's just pictures again, why bother? 

It makes no sense whatsoever. At random times, the annoying robot voice hollers out things like, "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

Think you have the answer? Fine. Go confer with my smarty-pants TV. Go on! I'll wait right here...

See what I mean? Stupid TV's smarter than me. 

The characters in my new book, Peculiar County, are smarter than me, too. They never waste time watching TV. 
One click away from shudders, laughs, thrills and tears.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Horror of the Beeping Basement

For months I've cowered in my house, afraid. Shaking and shivering like latter-day Elvis. Beneath me, in the basement, unspeakable horrors await. Horrors too awful to mention. (But I'm going to anyway.)

My basement beeps.
Several months ago, when it first started, I rolled my eyes, told my wife, "Stupid sump pump's acting up again." Wasn't the first time. Get this...when the sump pump runs a while, doing what sump pumps are supposed to do, it beeps a warning sound. Really dumb manufacturing flaw. So I head downstairs, cursing, then unplug the two cords (why two?) and take out the battery. Sure, the basement might flood, but at least it won't beep.

The sound stops! Huzzah! Problem solved, I head back upstairs. I sit, relieved. I know what I'm--


"Great Caesar's ghost!"

I jump out of my recliner. Rush downstairs like that father in A Christmas Carol. As I tumble down the steps, the noise stops. Mid-beep. Taunting me.

I say (because I'm in the haunted basement and it helps to hear my voice, any voice), "Huh, that's weird. Just a fluke, though. Pretty sure I resolved the issue. It won't beep again."

Upstairs I settle once again into my recliner. Relaxing. Basking in the peaceful meditative--


"Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!"

It's not the sump pump. Clueless, I get tough. I decide to ride out the storm, figuring the infernal sound will tire after a while. It does.

Until three in the morning.

"Sweet Christmas!"

The shrill, incessant beep wakes me. Every 45 seconds, Swedish clockwork. Pillows over my head don't help. Copious amounts of alcohol just intensify it, transform it into a nail-driving drill.

Sleep deprived, the next morning I head back into the dungeon. Determined. Angry. Half crazy.

Seven steps down, the beeping stops. As usual. Making it impossible to track the source.

"Why me? Why have you forsaken meeeeeee?" I cry to the cobwebs. I forget I'm too tall for the hobbit-made basement, stand straight in my drama.


"Ow! Dammit!"

I unplug everything that's plugged in. Wipe my bleeding head, sigh, pat myself on the back for a job well done. Upstairs, I snuggle back into my posterior-conformed recliner to write and...


"Holy mother of pearl!"

I'm back on the hunt. I check high, I drop low. It's a dirty, gross job, but the heinous beeping source will be found! I pull out the tubs of my daughter's childhood toys, denude all the Furbies and other automated varmints of their batteries. Anything that's suspect, anything of a battery-driven nature, I gather in a box to take upstairs where I can keep an eye on it.

For I will solve this exasperating mystery, I will!
Beeeeep! Beepity-beep-beeep!

"Cheese and crackers on Matlock's grave!"

Down again I go, down, down, down. Farther than before, down into the depths of hell itself. I tear everything apart, look in every box, poke every water-damaged cranny, knock things over, pick them up, and do it again. The narrator in Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart has nothing on me. Except I haven't killed anyone. Not yet. But the skeevy sales kid banging away on the doorbell comes close to being my first murder victim.


"Jimmy Hoffa's pantaloons!"

Internet trolls aren't any help.

"Hmm. Do you have any enemies?" someone asks.

"No," I write. "Well, there's my high school bully and that dumb neighbor who won't talk to me for whatever reason and my grade-school friend who I kinda dumped because he wasn't giving me the hallway cred I sought but I--"

"Someone's planted a bomb in your basement."


"Shoehorn of the devil!"

I race downstairs. The sound stops again. A demon with a vicious sense of humor. 

I cover every square inch of Hades. On my knees, I crawl. On chairs, I teeter. I'm covered in grime and cobwebs and great heaping dollops of defeat.

Until...until... Celestial trumpets poot!

There! Something I've never seen before! A weird device hidden by the light-bulb screwed into it! I undo it. Smoke detector. Figures. I take it upstairs. Set it next to my wife's mail like a trophy, a savage beast I finally bagged after a lengthy hunt.

Satisfied, exhausted, I retire.

Yet, I still hear beeps. Phantom beeps. Beeps in the night that wake me up, a faint ghost of a beep, a reminder of hauntings past. But it's not my imagination gone wild, it's...

Beeeeeeeeep, dammit, beeeeeeep!

"Bea Arthur's bunions!"

Drowsy, woozy-eyed, I concede defeat to my wife. "I give up. It's still beeping." A sudden teensy-tiny ray of hope strikes me, though. "Wait...what'd you do with the smoke detector?"

"Threw it away. In the kitchen trash."

Like a bag lady, I go scrounging. Past chicken bones and other unmentionable detritus. There it is. Beeping!

I take it to the garage, toss it in the bin.


Like a cockroach, the device can survive even nuclear Armageddon. I roll the bin out to the street. Let the neighborhood deal with it. Finally--finally!--silence.

But I know it's still out there... Waiting...lurking...laughing...beeping...

For more obsessive behavior over ghostly hoo-hah, click here to read!