Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Rest of 2012 in Movies

There are only four months left in the year, but that doesn't mean there aren't that many good movies left. Quite the opposite, in fact, considering a lot of the movies the studios hope will score big at the Academy Awards aren't even released until Thanksgiving, at the earliest. So today I thought I'd run through a list of the movies I'm looking forward to as 2012 starts trailing off.

Yeah, can you tell I'm running out of blog ideas and just throwing filler at you yet? I ain't even mad, though.

Talk about filler...
September
There are a few good ones in September. I'm looking forward to The Words with Bradley Cooper and Olivia Wilde because it's about a writer and the price he pays for plagiarizing, apparently, so that grabbed my interest. Also, Liberal Arts, written, directed by, and starring Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother, because his first film, Happythankyoumoreplease, was brilliant. And also, I'm such a Mosby, and we have to stick together. Then there's House at the End of the Street, because, while yes, I expect it to be as disappointing as every horror movie is lately, it stars Jennifer Lawrence, and she's just so damn talented that maybe she can save it anyway. And lastly, Hotel Transylvania, because, well, how could you not?

October
Halloween's month has a lot going for it. There's a pair of decent-looking horror movies in Sinister and the old-school-style anthology V/H/S. Plus, for more Halloween-style fun, there's Frankenweenie. How funn does that look? For my action fix, Liam Neeson is back in Taken 2, which, if it kicks half as much ass as the first one, will be awesome. Then there's Seven Psychopaths, which I know absolutely nothing about, except that it stars Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and, oh yeah, Christopher Walken. Also in the "movies I know nothing about" category is Cloud Atlas, which I'm down for simply because it's by the Wachowski Brothers. And lastly, although I have no earthly idea why I want to see it, there's Here Comes the Boom, which sees Kevin James play a teacher who becomes an MMA fighter to raise money. It's just so ridiculous I have to see it.

November
November is a slow month, only two flicks. The first is The Man with the Iron Fists, a movie I can't even describe, so I'll let the trailer do it for me.


That's followed by Silver Linings Playbook, a movie that stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro in which mental patient Cooper falls in love with equally crazy Lawrence. Just watch the trailer.


Yeah, if you know me at all all you know that just screams "Jim's favorite movie of the year."

December
The big one for Christmas time is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but there's also Les Miserables to wait for. Plus, I'm excited about This Is 40, the sort of sequel to Knocked Up, which looks hysterical. I'm also tentatively looking forward to Zero Dark Thirty, Katheryn Bigelow's first movie since The Hurt Locker, which is about the Seal team mission that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden. I say tentatively because there are so many places something like that can go wrong...

So there you have it. What do you think of my picks? What are you looking forward to? Hit up the comment box and let's talk!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mega Multiplex Movie Marathon

I'm such a whore for alliteration.

Anyway, this past Saturday afternoon, I had plans to see a movie with one of my favorite partners in crime, Kim (who, by the way, is fantastic photographer available for shoots; check out her work at kimberlytauber.com and then hire her. Seriously. Do it.) So after having a great lunch that involved a giant hamburger, a mimosa, a screw driver, and a shot that was really like four shots, plus great company, I met up with her and we went to see Hit and Run at 2:30pm. It was pretty damn funny, and I definitely recommend it. By the way, has anyone else noticed that Dax Shepard and Zach Braff look crazily similar? I thought maybe it was just me while I was watching the movie, but apparently this is a thing:

Fucking creepy.
So, when the movie ended, we proceeded with our plan to find another movie to sneak into, because movies today are too expensive to see just one. I mean, $13.50 per ticket? Come on now.  My first choice for a second movie would have been The Expendables 2, but I couldn't see that without my boys, so I was pushing for Premium Rush instead. Of course, I lost that discussion and we ended up walking into the movie right next door to Hit and Run, which was the 4:20pm showing of The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I needn't have been upset about not seeing what I wanted, though, because we eventually pulled off four successful theater hops and saw a total of five movies for the price of one.

No, really, doubting Jennifer Lawrence! Five movies!
Timothy Green was alright, nothing to write home about but still cute enough to be enjoyable. When it was over, Kim asked if I wanted to find another one to watch. Now, a three-for at this point was sort of the high-point for me and my friends; as far as I can remember me and my heterosexual life-mate Chris have only pulled it off twice before, so I was up for the challenge. It was around 6pm. We walked up and down a few floors in the theaters but couldn't find anything that was about to start, so we ducked into a showing of The Apparition that had started at 5:50pm. How this movie started at 5:50pm, must have had at least fifteen minutes of trailers, and was still over by 7:10pm is beyond me, but thank god it was short, because it was also abysmally bad. And I'm not just saying that because we missed the beginning; it was so awful we could just tell that seeing the beginning wouldn't have made it any better.

When that was over, Kim suggested we try for another movie. A four-for! That had never been done before. I didn't think we'd manage it because once six or seven o'clock rolls around they have ushers at the doors, but I figured we'd try it. There was a 7pm show of Paranorman right next door, but we couldn't do it because it was 3D and we lacked glasses. So we ended up upstairs for a 7:30 show of Premium Rush. Talk about full circle, right? I had sort of expected to hate it, because I'm completely not on the Joseph Gordon-Levitt bandwagon, and, c'mon, bike messengers? But I actually really liked. Full of action, with a lot of comedy... sure, the plot was a little far-fetched, but I'd already sat through movies about a kid who is half-plant or something and people who, like, wished a ghost into existence, or whatever the fuck The Apparition was about, so who was I to complain? Anyway, as the credits roll, my company for this rapidly-becoming-legen-wait-for-it-dary night leans over to me and says, "Five for five."

She wanted to try for a fifth movie. She's either a very bad influence or a very good influence, I can't decide.

A five-for. That had never even been contemplated before, much less attempted. So I'm skeptical, but I say sure... although at this point I'm not even sure there's anything left to see! We go back downstairs to the floor where we saw The Apparation and where the 3D Paranorman was and, lo and behold, there's another show of Paranorman starting in that same theater at 9:20pm... but this one isn't in 3D!

Kind of like it was meant to be, huh? And it was a pretty fun, cute movie that had me laughing the whole time, so we ended on a high note. We got to the movie theater at 2:30pm and finally walked out at like 11:10pm. Just to throw a little math at you, five movies at $13.50 a ticket for two people comes out to $135 bucks.

We spent $27.

At a bar afterwards, simultaneously drinking half a margarita and a Corona while hanging out with great friends and rocking a totally pimp hat, what did I have to say about this?

"Bueno!" is what I had to say!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fiction Friday - Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences: This Ain't a Ghost Story, Part 2


This Friday sees me back with another short story, this one the conclusion to the two-parter I started last week that is a bit of a game-changer for the series; you'll see what I mean as you read it. As always, feedback is not just appreciated but requested! If you missed any of the stories, by the way, just click the "Fiction Fridays" label at the bottom of the post, it'll take you to a page featuring all the installments, from newest to oldest in descending order as you scroll down. Enjoy!

Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences:
This Ain’t a Ghost Story, Part 2

            This was definitely not shaping up to be a good night.
            Let’s review. I, Henry Biggs, and my partner, Aldredge “Wedge” Thompson, were on a case. The Reislings thought their ten-year-old son, Dennis, was haunted by a spirit that I thought was a poltergeist. A banishing had no affect on Dennis, who now had his fingers pressed painfully against my trachea. Blades anointed in innocent blood had no affect on him either; Wedge had pressed his dagger against him, and Dennis… or whatever was in Dennis, who spoke with a thick Arabic accent and had no problems throwing around words like “twat”… had pressed his neck against the blade until it bled, and the blade turned to dust.
            Oh, yeah, and I was drunk as fuck from playing the Alphabet Game with Wedge earlier in the night.
            So taking this case might not have been the best idea.
            “Biggs!” I heard Wedge scream as I fought in vain against Dennis’ hands, trying to pry them away from my neck, but he was much stronger than a ten-year-old could ever be. Stronger than Wedge, too it turned out, because as Wedge grabbed his arms to try to pull him off me, the kid released my neck with one hand, swung his arm back, and shoved my partner so hard he fell out the second-floor window.
            His hand was back around my neck before I could blink, and I was convinced my ticket was about to get permanently punched. “What… the hell… are you?” I managed to choke out between painfully strained breaths.
            “What the hell am I?” He laughed uproariously. “There are more things between heaven and hell, to paraphrase a bit… for an occult expert, you don’t have the first fucking clue what’s going on, do you?” His fingers eased up ever so slightly as he leaned forward and licked my cheek wetly. “Let’s see what you are instead.”
            He held my head still and forced me to look into his eyes. Again, I saw fire blazing in them, and to my horror I felt that fire start to burn into me, into my mind, my memories.
            I could feel him in my head, ripping through all my thoughts and experiences with abandon. My childhood, past cases, everything that ever hurt me before; he was taking a tour through my darkest times and making me relive them while he did. To fight back against it, I instinctively thought of the brightest spot in my life, thinking about Alexa Fogel, our assistant, our bar manager, also known as the woman I loved.
            “Oh, you have a woman,” he sneered with glee. “I think when I’m done with you and your jerkoff partner, I’ll go pay her a visit, maybe slowly flay the skin from her bones while I rape her mind and body into oblivion.”
            That was it right there. The reason I had never acted on my feelings for Lexy, the fear that she would be dragged into the shit I did and would be hurt, or worse, killed because of it. My mind went to the last time she had gotten involved in one of our cases, when Fr. Rube Eliot came to us because there was a poltergeist at Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows, where we had to use Lexy as bait after the ‘geist had appeared in front of the altar, under the giant crucifix…
            As the image of the crucifix came into my mind, Dennis recoiled and hissed, releasing my neck. He recovered quickly, though, the sneer returning to his little face as he spun back onto the bed and lunged on the pillows. “You know a priest, huh? Tell you what, assface. I’ll let you and your butt-buddy down there live for now, and you can go ask him what I am, and then get back to me. Even better, you can bring him back here with you. Sound good?”
            I was on my feet and moving towards the door before he had finished talking, one hand massaging my bruised neck. I couldn’t resist, though; at the door I turned and asked, “What makes you think I’d ever come back here?”
            “I’ve been inside your mind, asshole,” he laughed. “With all that responsibility you feel because of what you can do, you’re too stupid to just leave me here.”
            I turned and stumbled out the door, not bothering to answer him. The truth is, he was right. I couldn’t just leave him here now that I knew about him, to hurt or kill someone. Maybe that was stupid. Lord knows, if I was smart I never would have insisted on coming here despite how drunk I was in the first place.
            But one thing was for damn sure: I couldn’t leave him around to go after Lexy.
            I stumbled down the hall and down the stairs, breaking into a run as I hit the ground floor, out of the apartment and around to the side of the house outside the kid’s window, to find the Reislings trying to help Wedge to his feet. The overgrown shrubs ringing the house had broken his fall somewhat. I moved Mrs. Reisling out of the way, taking Wedge’s right side while Mr. Reisling took the left, and together we got him up to his feet. “You alright, Wedge?” I asked hoarsely.
            “Been better,” he grumbled, standing gingerly, unable to fully put his weight on his right leg.
            “How’s our son?” Mrs. Reisling asked desperately.
            I looked from her to her husband and back to her again. “Listen to me. Do not, under any circumstances, go back into that house,” I told them. “We have to go.”
            Mr. Reisling’s face clouded darkly. “You’re leaving?”
            “We’re not done here,” I promised him.
            Wedge sighed as he took a step and almost tipped over; the way he was looking at his right ankle made me think it must be pretty badly sprained, and he was holding his right arm tight against his side. “We’re not?”
            “No, we just have to go get something,” I told him. I turned back to the Reislings. “But again, do not go back in there. If he calls to you, don’t trust him. In fact, get out of here. Go stay in a hotel or something.” They started to protest, but I talked over them, forcing the words out of my sore throat. “Trust me, he doesn’t need you to take care of him right now, and we’ll be back soon.”
            Without giving them a chance to argue, I slipped Wedge’s arm over my shoulder and started helping him to the front of the house where our truck was parked. “What do we have to go get,” he asked lamely, “money to bribe the kid to leave us alone?”
            I ignored the sarcasm. “Answers,” I told him as I helped him into the passenger side. Once he was settled I ran over to the drivers’ side and got in. I started the engine and took off like a bat out of hell for Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows.

* * * * *
            “Biggsy, don’t you think maybe you had too much to drink to be driving this fast and talking on the phone?”
            “Lexy, don’t argue with me,” I said into the phone, ignoring Wedge, “you need to take the rest of the night off, leave the bartenders in charge. Go see a movie or something.” I spun the steering wheel hard with my free hand, turning left a bit too sharply. I kept the van under control, but Wedge was probably right.
            Still, needs must when the devil drives, and if the sneaking suspicion I had was right, the old saying wasn’t far off from just who was in the driver seat tonight.
            “Good. Thanks. I’ll explain everything tomorrow, I promise.” If I’m alive, I added to myself silently as I threw the phone into the back of the van.
            Wedge looked up from massaging his ankle. “She leaving the bar?”
            I had told him what not-Dennis had said about her. “Yeah. She’s not happy about it, and now she’s worried as hell about us, which didn’t help anything, but I got her to agree to it.” I actually chuckled a bit, despite the circumstances. “I’m going to catch a friggin’ earful tomorrow.
            Even though I was focusing on watching the road, I could feel him grin as he said, “You could always just shut her up by kissing her.”
            “Too bad I can’t shut you up the same way,” I grumbled as I stopped the van. “We’re here,” I said, getting out of the van before he could say anything smart. I walked over to the passenger side and helped him out, then quickly began heading for the church.
            “Hold up, Biggsy.” Wedge grabbed my arm to stop me. “This time of night, no one’s going to be in the church.” He nodded his head towards a building next to it. “They’ll be in the rectory.”
            I changed direction, walking to the rectory’s door and ringing the bell. Wedge caught up to me, limping on his bad ankle. I looked at him, the way his right arm was still tucked protectively against his side. “You alright?”
            “Ankle’s sprained pretty bad, feels like I bruised a couple of ribs.” He shrugged. “I’ve had worse, believe me.”
            “It’s a good thing the night isn’t over yet,” I said as I heard locks turning on the other side of the door. “Still have a chance to put that to the test.”
            The door swung open, and a very sleepy Fr. Rube Eliot, wearing a warm-looking blue bath robe, looked at us in surprise. “Mr. Biggs? Wedge? What are you doing here?”
            “Drop the mister stuff, Padre,” I said. “Listen, we’re sorry to bother you so late at night, but we need your help. A kid’s life depends on it, and who knows how many others.”
            “Of course,” he responded, stepping out of the doorway to usher us in. “Wedge, you’re hurt! Can I get you anything?”
            “Just coffee, Father,” Wedge answered as we stepped inside. “Very, very strong coffee. It’s been a night, to say the least.”
            The priest nodded. “Right this way.” He led us down a short hallway to the right and opened a door, letting us into his office. “Have a seat.” He went over to a coffee machine on a table against the wall and started making coffee as Wedge and I sat in the two chairs in front of his desk. Wedge reached over and grabbed the small garbage bin next to the desk and moved it over so he could rest his ankle on top of it.
            I sat there quietly, trying to gather my thoughts. The drunken haze had been chased away by the adrenaline and almost dying, and hopefully the coffee would clear my mind completely, because there was no way what I was thinking was going on was possible. It had to be a drunken theory, or so I hoped.
            Fr. Rube brought the coffee over, handing us two very hot mugs. “Thanks, Padre,” I said before taking a big sip, not at all caring if I burned myself. The pain would probably help, at this point.
            “Alright,” Fr. Rube said as he sat down behind the desk, leaning forward with his hands folded on the desk in front of him, “why don’t you tell me what brings you here?”
            I took another long sip and told him everything about the case, about how the summoning failed, how the dagger disintegrated, everything about the kid and his voice and his strength and the fire in his eyes and what it felt like when he was gleefully ripping through all my worst memories. “But there are a couple of things I noticed, Padre,” I said when I had finished the general retelling, “a few details I want to point out.” I leaned forward to put my mug on the desk, and to be able to watch him a little more closely. “When Wedge said, ‘thank Jesus,’ the kid hissed and shot him a nasty look. When he saw the crucifix in my memories of the church, he hissed again and pulled away from me, finally letting go of my neck. And when he saw I knew a priest, he told me to ask you what he is. So tell me, Father, just what are we dealing with here?”
            “I don’t know,” he answered quickly; a little too quickly. I was sure I saw a flash of recognition in his eyes.
            “You want to try that again, Padre? Lying is a sin, you know.”
            “Biggsy!” I hadn’t told Wedge my suspicions yet, so I’m sure to him this sounded like my grudge against religion popping up again.
            “Come on, Father,” I pressed, “You owe us one.”
            He grinned wryly. “I’d say that, considering the size of the check I wrote you on behalf of the Church, we’re more than even. But,” he paused to shake his head, “alright. I should not be telling you this, and I can’t be sure, but it sounds to me like the boy has been possessed by a demon.”
            Wedge’s jaw dropped. “I thought you said you didn’t know anything about this stuff, that’s why you needed us to get rid of the ‘geist in the church.”
            “No,” I answered before Fr. Rube got the chance, “what he said was the Church has never come out with an opinion about spirits, but that they do have an exorcist for demons. Right, Padre?”
            “That’s true,” he sighed. “The fact that there is an official exorcist is no secret. But honestly, most of the clergy I’ve ever met doubted possessions ever happened. A few years ago, however, when all this business with spirits became more commonplace, the Vatican let the clergy as a whole in on a secret: possessions do happen. Demons are real. And the way it was described to us… strength, voices that don’t fit, everything else you mentioned… sounds very much like what you’re dealing with, but I can’t say that with certainty.”
            “Yeah, that isn’t something the world at large needs to know. You have to love the Church sometimes.” I held up a hand to forestall the argument I knew he’d have ready for that. “I’d love to go round for round with you on this one, but we don’t have the time right now. When they told you about this, did they also happen to tell you how to exorcise a demon?”
            I could see his eyes dart to the top desk drawer before they came back to me. “Well, yes, just in the rare case of any of us coming into contact with a demon, but as I said, I can’t be sure this is what you’re dealing with. I should come with…”
            “Absolutely not!” I said at the exact same time Wedge said, “Fuck no!” He followed his response up with a sheepish grin and said, “Sorry, Father.”
            “Padre, we didn’t even want you in the church with us last time because of how dangerous what we do is,” I said before the priest could protest, “and this demon is much worse than the average poltergeist. There’s just no way it’s going to happen. So why don’t you just open up the desk draw and show us what we need to do to sound this thing back to hell?”
            Fr. Rube hesitated.
            “Come on, Father. We both know you’re not going to let a little boy suffer longer than he has to, are you?”
            He frowned at me as he opened the drawer.

* * * * *
            “So, you got a plan, buddy?” Wedge asked as he finished wrapping his ankle with the bandage we got from the rectory’s first aid kit. Once he was done, he slipped the knife Fr. Rube had given us from the kitchen into his belt and looked at me.
            Much more sober now, I was driving the van far safer than before as I tried to wrap my brain around this situation enough to answer that question. “The beginnings of one,” I finally said. “Thanks to the priest, we know the demon’s weakness now, as well as the symbol to exorcise him and how to draw it, and the incantation to go with it.”
            “Yeah, but how are we going to get him to tell us his name?”
            “I’ve been thinking about that. He could have killed me up there, right? Easy. But he let me go. He told me to find out what he is. He wants us to know what he is. I bet that goes for who he is, too.” We pulled up to the Reislings’ home again and I threw the van in park. “I’m guessing all we have to do is push the right buttons, and he won’t be able to stop himself from telling us.”
            We got out of the van, Wedge able to manage without help now that he had wrapped his ankle. I was already walking towards the front door when I heard Wedge say, “Biggsy, look.”
            I turned my head and saw the kid’s parents sitting in almost the exact place they were standing when we left. “What the fuck are they still doing here? They could have been killed!”
            “They’re his parents, bro,” Wedge said simply, as if it explained everything.
            And I guess it did. “Stay out here, this will all be over in a few minutes,” I called out to them as we headed to the door again… and it was the truth, one way or another.
            When we got to the door, Wedge touched my arm to stop me. “Biggsy, I just want to say something before we go in there, just in case. It’s about Lexy.”
            I turned to him in frustration. “Wedge…”
            “Hear me out, buddy. You owe me that.”
            I sighed and motioned for him to continue.
            “I can tell you’re in love with her. It’s fucking obvious. And unless I’m suddenly a complete idiot, she’s in love with you too. And I understand, you’re afraid if you two get involved this shit we do will get her killed… but let’s face it, it’s far more likely this shit we do is going to get YOU killed, not her. So considering there’s a chance that every time we walk out the door on a case we’re walking to our death, it’s pretty stupid of you to deny yourself whatever happiness you can have for as long as you can have it… and pretty damn selfish of you to decide Lexy can’t have that happiness either.”
            He was making sense, and I hated that, but I didn’t want to admit it. Instead, I said, “What makes you so sure we’ll both be dead, not just one of us?”
            Wedge grinned. “C’mon, Biggsy, you know when you die, it’ll be because whatever kills you already killed me while I was protecting you.” Without another word he walked into the house, heading right for the stairs, and I followed in his heels.
            We walked upstairs and down the hall to Dennis’ room, bracing ourselves outside the door for a moment. Wedge blessed himself, something I never saw him do, despite how Catholic he sometimes was.
            “I can smell you, shitstains,” the Arabic voice called from inside. “Get your asses in here already.”
            “Follow my lead,” I whispered to Wedge before I walked into the room. “What’s up Dennis?” I tried to sound as nonchalant as I could.
            “You don’t really think my name is Dennis, do you?” He laughed as he craned his head to look around Wedge as he walked in behind me. Then he frowned. “Where’s the priest?”
            I shrugged as I walked to the foot of the bed. “He said he couldn’t be bothered to come here, Dennis; that he had more important things to do and you weren’t worth his time.”
            I had planned to say more, but suddenly I was thrust against the wall as his hands wrapped around my throat again. “Don’t fuck with me, boy,” he growled, the accent becoming harsher, “you know exactly what I am, don’t you?”
            “I do, Dennis,” I managed to choke out, “and I know your weakness, too.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the small wooden cross Fr. Rube had given me and defiantly thrust it into the demon’s face, confidant that it would repel him as the priest said it would.
            The demon just laughed and swatted it out of my hand like it was nothing. “That only works if you believe in it, mongoloid.”
            Shit. Damn me and my ridiculously angry agnosticism…
            “What about when I do it?” Wedge asked as he came between me and the demon, pressing his cross into its face now. “Does it work when I do it, Dennis?”
            The demon hissed and leaped back onto the bed, getting as far from Wedge as he could.
            I think that was the first time I was ever thankful for Wedge’s faith. I reached over to the child’s desk against the wall and grabbed the small wooden chair, pulling it behind Wedge. He felt it and sat down. His large frame mostly obscured what I was doing behind him as I reached into his belt and slowly removed the knife he had slipped there in the van.
            “Relax, Dennis,” Wedge said casually as he held the cross in front of him, “we’re not going to hurt you. We don’t even know how to hurt you. Right, Biggsy? We have no idea how to hurt Dennis here, do we?”
            I kept the pain out of my voice as I used the knife to cut a deep gash into my forearm. “Right, you have nothing to worry about, Dennis.”
            “Stop calling me Dennis!” the demon raged suddenly. “My name isn’t fucking Dennis!”
            “His name isn’t fucking Dennis,” Wedge said to me over his shoulder.
            “I thought his name was fucking Dennis,” I responded as I dipped my finger in my blood. Human blood was needed to draw the symbol that would make an exorcism possible. I began use my blood to trace the symbol on the back of the chair in front of me: three nines over three sixes, with the bottoms of the nines becoming the tops of the sixes. When the numbers were done, I drew a circle around them, and then a pentagram with the circle at its center. “I guess it doesn’t matter what his name is, the priest said he’s probably just a minor demon, no danger to anyone, really.”
            “A minor… no danger to…” The demon was literally shaking with rage. “I am Ronwe! I command nineteen of Hell’s Legions! I will find and kill everyone you have ever loved and then rape their souls into oblivion!” He leapt towards us, but Wedge jumped up to meet him, the cross in Ronwe’s face again, forcing him backwards.
            “That’s great, Ronwe,” I said smugly. “I just have one thing to say to you. I banish thee, Ronwe, by the power of thy name.” I paused briefly to wipe my palm in the blood running down my forearm and then slammed my palm into the circle in the center of the pentagram before continuing. “And condemn thee back to the pits of Hell!”
            The demon shrieked, an unholy sound that shook me to my core and made me miss the sound a spirit makes when they get banished. The boy’s body slumped back against the bed, and Wedge rushed to his side, pressing the cross against his face; no reaction. Fr. Rube said that would mean the exorcism worked.    I walked to the window and saw Dennis’ parents staring up at me. “It’s over,” I called down to them. “You can come up now.”
            “Demons, Biggsy,” Wedge was saying as he shook his head. “Like the spirit cases weren’t getting hard or weird enough, we got demons to deal with now.”
            “Hopefully this was just a one-time thing, man.”
            He laughed as he put his cross back in his pocket and then picked mine up from the floor, handing it to me. “With our luck, what do you think the odds of that are?”
            “You’re right, we’re fucked.” When he turned away, I chucked the cross out the window.

* * * * *
            “You have got to be kidding me!” We drove back to our bar, The Haunted Hops, and as I parked the van across the street, I could see Lexy’s car parked in front of the bar in the exact same place it had been when we had left hours earlier when this whole nightmare started. “She never left!”
            Wedge laughed. “Yeah, that sounds like her. You really thought she’d leave while we were out there in danger? The way you talked to her on the phone, it probably scared the shit out of her for us.”
            “I was trying to scare the shit out of her for her!”
            He looked at me like I was a painfully slow child. “She loves you, dumbass!”
            I sighed as I pulled the bar door open for him. “I’m going to go find her and… I don’t know, yell at her. Or something.”
            “Not so fast,” he said, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me over to the bar. “You still have to do a triple shot for losing the game earlier.”
            “I didn’t lose!”
            Wedge just stared at me.
            “Fine, I lost,” I sighed. Wedge had the bartender pour me a triple shot of Jameson and got each of us a Heineken. I downed the shot quickly, then chugged half the beer to wash it down.
            “Good job, Biggsy,” Wedge grinned. “And good luck with Lexy. I’m going upstairs to stick my ankle in the freezer for an hour.” He clapped me on the back and went off to the door that led to our apartments upstairs.
            I looked around the bar, checking everyone’s face until I finally found what I was looking for: Lexy, sitting at a booth in the far corner. I made my way over to here, realizing that she was sitting across from someone. Was it a guy? I pit formed in my stomach.
            When I reached the booth, I saw it wasn’t a guy, it was Melissa Adaire, the reporter from Weekly World Now magazine who had done a story on Wedge and I a few weeks ago. Seeing her didn’t exactly make the pit go away. “What’s she doing here?” I blurted rudely.
            Lexy ignored my question as she jumped up from the booth and threw her arms around me. She was so much shorter than me that as we hugged my chin ended up resting on the top of her head. “Thank God you’re okay, you scared me half to death with that phone call!”
            “Yeah?” I pushed her back to arms’ length to talk to her, but her hands stayed on my arms. “Then why are you still here? I told you to leave.”
            “Like I’d leave after a call like that, with you guys obviously in danger?” She punched my arm harder than I’d have expected she could, given her size. “Idiot. So what happened?”
            I looked at her before I answered, saw the concern in her eyes, her beautiful eyes, saw the way the corners of her lips curved down as she frowned… god, she was beautiful, even pissed at me.
So considering there’s a chance that every time we walk out the door on a case we’re walking to our death, it’s pretty stupid of you to deny yourself whatever happiness you can have for as long as you can have it… and pretty damn selfish of you to decide Lexy can’t have that happiness either.
I heard Wedge’s words in my mind. Damn it, the big idiot was right. I reached out and took Lexy’s hand gently.
“Can I tell you over dinner?”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Suicide is Painless

I'm going to do something I pretty much never do on this blog and talk about something seriously for a minute. Suicide has been on mind since Sunday night... no, not committing it, although we'll get to that later... since Tony Scott, a great, talented director (seriously: True Romance, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, The Fan, Domino, Man on Fire, and of course, Top Gun... what a resume!), took his own life by jumping off a bridge. The reaction to this event I've seen most, aside from just sadness over a tragic loss of life, is confusion over how someone like a rich, world-famous director could throw it all away like that when he had everything.

Here's the thing. To us, on the outside looking in, sure, he had everything. We look at his life and think it had to be perfect. But we have absolutely no idea what's going on on the inside, what he might have been dealing with... him, or anyone else for that matter. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? Maybe that's why the morning after the accident, one news outlet was reporting he had inoperable brain cancer, and that's why he did what he did. I'm sure we can all understand how someone might not want to go through all the suffering a diagnosis like that entails; as someone who just watched someone I love pass away after suffering through a year of his body and mind giving out on him slowly and painfully, I sure can. It seems, though, that that report was erroneous, as his family is denying it; still, maybe something else was going on health-wise that drove him to it, something his family doesn't even know about yet.

Or maybe there wasn't, and it was just a senseless, stupid act.

But that isn't for me to say. I think my point in this ramble is that it isn't for us to judge. I don't know. I've known people who have attempted suicide, and I've known people who, sadly, succeeded. Total honesty? I even considered it at one point myself, not seriously, nowhere near seriously enough to come anywhere close to actually trying it, but it did cross my mind when things were really, really low and a friend's best advice to me was to remember that things could always get worse. It was heartfelt advice meant to make me feel better, but all it did was scare the shit out of me. If things could get worse than they were, I didn't want to be here to see what that would be like. But I didn't entertain that notion long, because the flip side of that point is also true: things can always get better, and they do. The only time things can't get better is if you aren't here to see it.

So I guess the other point, the reason I'm writing this so that maybe someone will read it and be helped by it, at the risk of sounding like one of those "very special episodes" of an 80's sit-com, is this: if you're thinking about suicide, don't do it. Just don't do it. Talk to someone; a family member, a friend, someone you trust, or, shit, a complete stranger, for all I care. Just find someone who will talk you out of it. Just don't do it.

Things can, and will, get better.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fiction Friday - Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences: This Ain't a Ghost Story, Part 1


Here's the seventh installment in this story series, the first of another two-parter. This is definitely the longest I've stuck with a writing project in probably forever, so you know I'm really enjoying it and I hope you are too. The stories are getting a little longer as I get deeper into the mythology and meat of it all; this two-parter in particular marks a turning point into slightly darker subject matter, although as you can see by the first half the fun is still there. Read it and let me know what you think, please!

Biggs and Wedge Occult Occurrences:
This Ain’t a Ghost Story, Part 1

            “She kissed you? That’s definitely a big deal! Why the hell didn’t you tell me about it before?”
            I sighed and looked at the shot glass full of Jameson in front of my partner Wedge. I knew he was stalling, but he had a point. It had been a week since Lexy kissed me, and this was the first I had mentioned it to him. I guess all the shots drew it out of me. “I don’t know, buddy,” I said, tilting my head back in my desk chair and staring at the ceiling of our office in the basement of our bar, The Haunted Hops. “I guess I was just trying to figure out what it meant.” My gaze drifted back to him. “Now stop stalling. It’s ‘R’ to you. Go.”
            “Oh, right.” He thought for a minute. “The rapist who was killed by one of his victims.” Without waiting to see if I agreed or not, he smiled smugly and said, “Your turn, Biggsy.”
            We were playing our own version of the Alphabet drinking game, the one where normal people went through the alphabet listing cities or state capitols or whatever; we listed spirits we had banished instead. The shots were of Jameson, and we each had bottles of Heineken to use as chasers or drinks between shots.
            Clearly, we aimed to get drunk tonight.
            It was my turn, the letter S. “Skywalker Ranch,” I said without taking time to think about it.
            “Nope!” Wedge laughed and slid the shot glass over to me. “Skywalker Ranch is banned because it’s too easy, remember?”
            “Damn.” He was right. I grabbed the shot glass and downed the shot, feeling the brown liquid burn its way down my throat. I made the same sour face everyone makes when they do a shot of Jameson and swigged some Heineken to wash it down as Wedge refilled the shot glass.
            “Alright, T.” Wedge’s face lit up. “The topography expert!”
            “You mean the guy at the planetary mapmaking company?” He nodded and I laughed. “Dude, he was just a typist temp!”
            “But he worked at a mapmaking company!”
            I kept laughing. “That doesn’t make him a topographer! Drink, bitch!”
            He grumbled another second and then drank, making the same face I had made. As I refilled the shot, I decided to be a bit of a dick and went speed round on him. “Understudy,” I said.
            “Violinist,” he shot back.
            I hadn’t expected him to come back that fast, and I was the one caught flat-footed instead of him with W. “Woman…” I said, trailing off when I realized I had no idea how to finish that thought.
            It was our second time threw the alphabet now, and I might have had a few shots already.
            “Woman? Just woman?” Now he was the one laughing. “The French judge says no on that one, Biggsy. Drink up!”
            I did the shot and looked up at him. “Fine. Let’s see what you got for X, jackass.”
            He leaned back in his chair across the desk from me and grinned. “Xylophonist.”
            I stared, dumbstruck. I wasn’t sure if I had expected him to think it started with a Z and not an X, or if I had gotten drunk enough that I thought it was Z and not X, but either way, I hadn’t expected that one.
            “So what do you think the kiss meant?”
            I blinked at him, not sure what he was talking about, but then I remembered. Lexy. “Shit, I don’t know. I think she was just trying to comfort me after that mess in the church, that’s all. We talked for awhile after that, but nothing else happened, just that one kiss.” My mind drifted back to that moment, to the feel of her soft lips against mine, and how I started to miss that feeling the minute it faded. I shook my head and tried to force my thoughts back to the game. It was my turn. Y. “Oh, I got it!” My face lit up. “The kid who choked on the yellow snow!”
            Wedge looked at me, his face screwed up in confusion, and then he exploded in laughter, the kind of deep belly laugh that shakes your whole body. Once he finally caught his breath he said, “You mean the kid who got mauled to death in the snow by a dog?” I nodded and he laughed again. “Pretty sure that one gets filed under M, buddy.” He reached over and pushed the shot glass toward me again.
            I took the shot, made the face again, and needed a slightly longer swig of Heineken to recover this time.
            “Z’s an easy one,” Wedge said as I put my drink down. “Zoologist.”
            I shook my head instantly. “Nope, that guy was a cryptozoologist.”
            He frowned at me. “The fuck is the difference?  He studied animals.”
            “Man, a guy who tries to prove the Loch Ness Monster is real is not the same thing as the guy studies how pandas mate or something.” It was my turn to slide the shot glass across the desk. “Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug,” I taunted.
            After grunting something I couldn’t quite make out but that sounded suspiciously like “fuck off,” he downed the shot and wiped his mouth. Foregoing a chaser, he stared straight at me and said, “So, was the kiss good enough to wake you up and make you realize you’re in love with our little Alexa upstairs?”
            “I… wait… but… I… what…” Stammering incoherently was the only response I could come up with that completely out of nowhere yet frightfully near the mark question.
            He shook his head and grinned. “Alright, something easier then. We’re starting over. A. Go.”
            Still flustered, I groped for an answer, eventually saying, “Ape ghost.”
            Wedge laughed again. “One day you’ll get this one right, Biggsy. It was a gorilla, not an ape.”
            “Oh, come on. Same thing!”
            I was then confronted with a pair of very sarcastically arched eyebrows. “You mean like how zoologist and cryptozoologist is the same thing?”
            I sighed, knowing I’d never win this battle, and took the shot. Wedge reached down and opened the back-up bottle we had brought down with us and refilled the shot glass and, without looking up, said, “The boxer.”
            The memory of that case came to me and I couldn’t stifle a grimace. I’d had a black eye for a week after that one. “Church poltergeist,” I answered, thinking of the case from a week ago, the one that had led to that kiss right here in the basement, in the very chair I was sitting in now… a kiss I had been both waiting for and dreading for what seemed like ever. My thoughts, becoming more and more overwhelmed with whiskey, began to wander again to the sweet feeling of Lexy’s lips…
            “Biggs? Biggs!”
            The tone in Wedge’s voice brought my mind slowly, reluctantly back. “Huh?”
            “Drowned boy, I said. It’s your turn. E!”
            “Elegocuted guy,” I said, m mind not quite focused yet.
            “Elegocuted?” Wedge cackled. “You mean electrocuted? Jesus, Biggsy. Maybe you’re done for the night.” Nevertheless, he pushed the shot glass back to me and watched me drink it before he gave his answer for the next letter. “Our first poltergeist.”
            I’d have argued that one, but we long ago decided to let that one stand for F because we had nothing else that fit. I forced my mind to focus a bit more, if only because I really didn’t want any more shots, but I couldn’t say that; the loser of the game had to drink a triple shot, and a quitter had to do a dreaded quadruple. “Gunslinger.”
            “Homeless man.”
            “Icepick poltergeist.”
            “The jumper.”
            I was about to follow with my answer for K, but Wedge kept talking. “Maybe you don’t want to admit how you feel first, but I’m pretty sure Lexy is in love with you,” he said casually.
            “Killed by…” I started my answer talking over him, but trailed off as what he said penetrated my booze-fogged mind.
            He made a sound like a buzzer. “Sorry, that’s not right.” He thrust another shot towards me. As I drank it, he said, “I meant what I said, though.” I drunkenly couldn’t decide if he was trying to help me with Lexy or just trying to get me drunk off my ass. “Anyway,” he continued as I clumsily put the shot glass down, knocking it over in the process, “L. Leashed prostitute.”
            “It doesn’t matter if she loves me or not,” I slurred as he filled the shot glass again, “or even if I love her. Nothing is going to come out of it.” A thought struck me, and I felt a shit-eating grin spread across my face. “Mauled by dog!”
            Wedge shook his head. “No way, buddy, that one was said out loud already.” He directed my gaze to the shot glass.
            “I hate you,” I mumbled before doing the shot.
            “Why would nothing happen if you both love each other? Nudist colony leader, by the way.”
            “Because getting involved with me will just get her hurt,” I answered, sadness in my voice, “just like in the church; or worse, even killed. So even if I do love her… I stopped talking and ran my hands down my face. “Oh, um… old lady?”
            Wedge shook his head again, and I did another shot. “Biggs, you know I love you,” he said, “but that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. If you’re both crazy about each other, just go for it. I mean, she could get hit by a bus coming to work tomorrow. Me and you know better than anybody, death is always around.”
            “Boy, you get poetic when you drink sometimes, you know that?” I slurred.
            He laughed and said, “Uh huh. P. The penguin fucker.”
            I looked at him. He looked at me. “Freak,” we said simultaneously as we both remembered that guy.
            “At least if she got hit by a bus, it wouldn’t be my fault,” I told him before I remembered it was again my turn. The best I could manage for Q was, “Queer guy.”
            Not even bothering to wait for Wedge to react, I did another shot. “Doesn’t Lexy deserve to make that choice herself?” he asked.
            “Lexy,” I answered, the slur in my voice making it sound more like “Leshy,” “Lexy deserves…” My wandering eyes reached the doorway and I stopped talking.
            “Lexy what?” Wedge prodded.
            “Lexy is right behind you,” I said, trying to sound much more sober than I was. “Hello, beautiful,” I said, surprising myself with that greeting.
            Lexy simultaneously blushed and looked like she smelled something long-dead and rotting. “Having fun, boys?”
            She sounded very uncomfortable, and my stomach grew queasy from more than just all the whiskey as I wondered just how long she had been standing there.
            “You know us, always a party,” Wedge laughed as he turned his chair around so he could see her. “What’s up, Tiny?”
            “There’s a man upstairs who would like to see you,” she answered unsurely. “Should I tell him to come back tomorrow?”
            “Nah,” I said, trying to sound controlled. “We can see him now. What does he want?” I wondered if my voice sounded as strong and clear as I thought it did; from the look on her face, I doubted it.
            “He said him and his wife think their ten-year-old son is haunted.”
            Wedge laughed. “They must be drunker than we are. People don’t get haunted, just places and things. Right, Biggsy?”
            I could feel him looking at me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of Lexy. She looked so beautiful, as always. “Never heard of a haunted person before,” I agreed, “but then again, I had never heard of two spirits haunting the same thing, or a gorilla ghost either, so who knows?”
 I pulled myself up from the desk and walked across the room, concentrating very hard on trying not to stagger too much. “C’mon, man. Let’s go see him.”
            Lexy put her hand on my arm to stop me when I reached the door. “Are you sure about this, Hank? You’re really drunk.”
            “So’s your face,” I answered playfully.
            She screwed her face up. “That doesn’t even make sense.”
            “Think about it and it does,” I said as I started climbing the stairs up to the bar. I could hear Wedge and Lexy talking as I climbed.
            “Don’t worry, Lexy, I’ll keep an eye on him,” I heard him say.
            And then I heard him trip on the first step, quickly righting himself and following me up.
            I vaguely heard Lexy sigh. “Why doesn’t that fill me with confidence?”

* * * * *
            Somehow I made it through talking to the man waiting for us, Mr. Reisling, without convincing him I was a complete drunk lunatic and got the basics of the case. He and his wife had noticed weird things happening to their son, little things at first, like him saying weird things or staring off into space talking to himself. Then he started saying mean things, speaking in a different language, things around him started flying through the air, things like that. A lot of the earmarks of the presence of a spirit in the house. The last straw had come earlier that night when they saw the kid, Dennis, floating in his sleep.
            Wedge and I told Mr. Reisling we could handle this and followed him back to the house. I told him to take his wife and wait outside for us while we took care of the kid. Wedge carried a bucket of chicken blood in from the truck for the double pentagram we’d need for the banishing, his sword strapped to his back and the matching dagger slipped into his belt.
            While he did that, I stood in the living room, drunkenly swaying on my feet while I reached out with my sixth sense to get the feel of the place. At first all I felt was love and happiness, what you’d expect to feel in the home of a happy family. Then I started feeling darkness, a malevolence. I’d been waiting for it; from how Mr. Reisling had described things, I figured it was a poltergeist waiting for us and not Casper the Friendly Ghost or anything.
            I extended my senses, homed in on that darkness to try to track it to its source. My face drifted upwards to the second floor, to where the kid’s bedroom was. I kept reaching out in that direction until I could feel Dennis, and I realized with shock that he could feel me back. The malevolence I felt now felt like someone was staring daggers into my soul, and I was hit with a wave of what I can only describe as giddy evil, a feeling so strong I was almost knocked off of my feet.
            If I wasn’t so dirty stinking drunk, I’d have gotten my ass out of that house and never returned.
            Instead, my inebriated ego shrugged it off, thinking there was no such thing as a poltergeist I couldn’t handle, no matter how angry it was.
            “You really think this kid is haunted?” Wedge asked from behind me as he closed the front door.
            I shrugged. “Beats me. Maybe it’s a haunted object or something just manifesting around him. Whatever it is, it’s definitely coming from his room.”
            “Then let’s go kick its ass and get back to the bar,” Wedge said as he headed for the stairs to the second floor. “You’ve got a triple shot to do for losing the game.”
            “Wait a minute, what do you mean, I lost the game?” I staggered after him. “Lexy interrupted us, but the game wasn’t over. I could still go!”
            He turned to face me as we both walked upstairs, watching the way my knees buckled a little. “Trust me, Biggsy, you were done. Are you sure you can handle this?”
            I sidled past him on the stairs, nearly upending both of us in the process. “Absolutely,” I slurred. I walked to the closed door that had a wooden plaque on it that said “Dennis” and knocked softly before opening.
            The kid was sitting cross-legged on the bed, staring right at me.
            “Hey, Dennis,” I said, more than a little creeped out as I walked into the room, Wedge right behind me, “my name is Biggs, and this is my friend Wedge. Don’t be afraid, your parents brought us here to help you.
            “I don’t need any help, fucktards,” the kid said, smiling wickedly. He spoke with a swarthy Arabic voice that had no business coming out of the mouth of a little white kid.
            Wedge and I both stared for a few seconds. Eventually he nudged me with his elbow and the shock wore off. I motioned towards the kid, indicating Wedge should keep him engaged while I figured this out. Once again, I reached out with my senses.
            “This is a pretty nice room you got here, kid,” I heard Wedge say.
            “Not as nice as your mother’s twat, but I guess it’ll do,” the kid answered.
            “What? What the…” Wedge stammered. “Not cool, kid. Not cool.”
            The malevolence I felt downstairs was definitely centered here. In fact, I couldn’t get my attention away from Dennis now. It was all coming from him. I touched him with my senses… and what I felt literally knocked me on my ass. I hit the floor with a loud thud, my head banging against the wall.
            Wedge was at my side in an instant. “You alright, Biggsy?”
            I pulled myself up to my feet with his help. “Yeah. The things coming off of this kid, I’ve never felt such… evil. That’s the only word for it.”
            “You’re too kind,” that Arabic voice said as an eerie smile spread across the kid’s lips.
            “But there’s no anger,” I continued, doing my best to ignore him, “it’s an ecstatic kind of evil. Whatever is haunting this kid is happy about its situation.”
            Wedge shook his head. “But spirits are never happy.”
            The kid started howling with gleeful laughter. “Haunting? Spirit? Wow. I was just guessing before, but you two really are fucktards.”
            We both stared at him again before I snapped myself out of it. “Okay, keep an eye on him while I paint the double pentagram.”
            “Oh, trust me, I’m not going to do anything,” the kid sneered as he lay back on the bed, getting comfortable. “I want to see this shit.”
            Wedge went over and stood by the side of the bed while I began painting. One pentagram was needed to summon the spirit, in this case to literally pull it out of this kid, and the other was needed to bind it inside the pentagrams’ confines so Wedge could banish it was either his sword or dagger anointed with innocent blood.
            “You’re a big fucker,” I heard Dennis say casually to Wedge, “You must have torn the hell out of your mother’s pussy on the way out, huh?”
            “You need to shut the fuck up,” I heard Wedge shoot back.
            I tried to make myself finish the pentagrams faster, to get this over with before Wedge punched this kid in the face, haunted or not, but my drunk hands were being uncooperative.
            “What? I’m being serious,” the kid continued, undaunted. “Did your father hate you for the condition you left his kool-aid in, or what?”
            I heard Wedge take a deep breath. “Done,” I said before he could respond, just finishing the final line.
            “Thank Jesus,” Wedge muttered.
            Dennis hissed angrily, shooting Wedge the nastiest look I had ever seen.
            “Watch him,” I told Wedge as I knelt in the middle of the double pentagram. “This will be over in another minute.”
            “You got that wait, jizzstain,” Dennis sneered.
            Ignoring him, I closed my eyes and reached out for the poltergeist that had to be haunting him, but other than the malevolence and evil I felt before, there was nothing. I reached into that evil, expecting to feel the spirit and opened my eyes.
            Nothing happened. There was no spirit in the double pentagram with me.
            “Biggsy?” Wedge asked, uncertain.
            Dennis laughed a deep, mirthful laugh. “I’m sorry,” he said in that creepy Arabic voice, “were you expecting something to happen? Something like this?”
            Faster than either Wedge or I could track with our eyes, faster than anything human should ever be able to move, Dennis was out of the bed and inside the double pentagram with me, but he didn’t stop there. He grabbed my shoulders with a strength and force like nothing I had ever felt before and rammed be back against the wall. His hands were around my neck before I even felt them move, choking the life out of me.
            Wedge bounded across the room and grabbed the kid by the shoulder, trying with all his might to pull him off me, but he wouldn’t budge. He just kept choking me, grinning wickedly the whole time.
            Wedge pulled the dagger out of his belt and pressed the tip to Dennis’ neck. “Let him go now or I’ll stick you with this. It’s anointed. You know what that means.”
            If there was a spirit haunting Dennis, controlling him, that would have stopped it in its tracks. Getting pricked with an anointed dagger was an instant banishment.
            Dennis just smiled wider. “I do know what that means. That it’s yummy.” He threw his neck sideways, forcing the blade to penetrate his skin.
            Wedge cursed in horror, thinking he had just stabbed a kid in the neck.
            But the blade turned to dust and crumbled, leaving Wedge holding just the hilt. “What the fuck???”
            I watched the hole the dagger had put in the kid’s neck close up instantly, leaving not even a drop of blood behind. “Delicious,” the kid said, his fingers pressing into my neck even harder.
            I looked into his eyes, and saw something that chilled me to my soul. I saw fire and pain and pure evil.
            This kid wasn’t being possessed by a spirit.
            He was death.
            My death.

To Be Continued…