Artist Confronts Daffy ‘Devil’ Duck

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William J. Bernstein was famous for his accuracy as a professional illustrator of animals.

His talent was apparent as early as kindergarten. He drew the best rabbits, puppies and cats in the classroom.

When he was ten he was drawing animals so accurately that his art teacher helped him put together a portfolio of his work. Family and friends were impressed with his artistic flair. In high school he was selling his illustrations to magazines and exhibiting them in art fairs.

His work was popular from the get-go. His admirers talked about how real his animals were. How they could almost walk off the paper they were drawn on.

But William fought an inner war that no one, not even his parents, knew about. It started when he began drawing animals in kindergarten. The first time he drew a rabbit it talked to him!

Startled, he looked around the table at the other kids to see if they heard. They apparently didn’t. He was afraid to reply to the rabbit’s questions and have everyone stare at him.

Even at the tender age of five, William knew rabbits didn’t talk to people. He asked his parents if there were any animals that talked to people? They laughed, and his dad patted him on the head, “My little artist,” he said.

As he got older he became aware that the conversations he was having with animals were in his head. If they were intrusive he would have sought help, William told himself.

The fact of the matter was he enjoyed talking with rhinos and parrots because they shared so much about themselves. The problem was they were becoming his family, at the expense of his real family, and friends.

It was gradual, this transformation from a social little boy to a reclusive artist living in a loft who was awkward around other people. He was an accomplished illustrator that made animals come to life under his pencil but totally lacked any social skills.

When he decided to explore his art – and try cartooning – a new world opened up to him. Literally. The cartoon animals were unpredictable and not always nice, like the realistic ones he drew.

But what an adventure! He’d hole up in his loft with snacks and draw cartoons for hours.

His research included drawing established cartoon characters to “get the feel” of the methods that other cartoonists used. At first, his attempts didn’t say anything. After countless hours of practice however, they proved to be downright gabby.

As the days went by, William made a lot of brand new friends with great stories to tell. Elmer Fudd and Sylvester the Cat had a wonderful sense of humor and he found himself laughing so hard at times his ribs hurt.

One day after drawing Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, and The Tasmanian Devil, he discovered another side to famous cartoon characters; they weren’t all nice. Some were downright mean, and in the case of one…evil.

Daffy Duck: What do you think you’re doing? You’re not a cartoonist!

William: Whoaa! Hold on there Daffy! What’s the problem?

Daffy Duck: “You are, you ugly little creep! Why don’t you go stick your blockhead into the toilet bowl and flush it?

William: I don’t get it. You’re acting more like a devil duck than the funny character who I grew to love while growing up and watching TV.

Daffy Duck: When Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones died, I didn’t see any reason to be happy anymore. So, I went to sleep. And, now you woke me up ass brain! There’s hell to pay now!

William: If that’s the way you’re going to be, I guess I’ll put you in the fireplace,” he warned as he grabbed the piece of paper Daffy was on. A minute later he threw it into the blazing fire.

“So much for you, you damn duck!” he crowed, and laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

When his parents found him during their weekly trip to his apartment, he was sitting in the middle of the living room weakly laughing.

After he was admitted to a mental institution, William no longer talked with people (his parents included) and he showed no interest in drawing animals anymore. After a year William was deemed harmless, and allowed in the general population.

On his first day, an orderly put cartoons on the big screen TV. When Daffy Duck appeared William screamed…and screamed…and screamed.

As It Stands, horror is where you look for it!

Global Warming Affects Hell

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The devil was furious! Hell was frozen over!

Tortured souls were no longer being burned in hellfires because they were snuffed out by freezing temperatures.

The volcanos stop spewing lava, and became encrusted in ice.

Lost souls were having a good time skating on the ice that formed over the rivers of fire throughout hell.

What made it especially galling for the devil was that it was all his own doing that caused the situation!

For decades, he worked with his minions on earth to infiltrate governments and to cause as much havoc as possible. One of the devil’s pet projects was convincing gullible humans that they weren’t polluting the planet, and that climate change was fake news.

He hand-picked, pliable, politicians told people global warming was just an excuse to hold back progress.

All the politicians had to do was deny facts, sell their souls, and make sure fossil fuels continued to spew into the atmosphere unabated.

For eons, the devil’s tactics bore fruit and the planet became so polluted people could no longer eat fish from the ocean or rivers. Gray blankets of smoke smothered cities from New Delhi, India to Los Angeles, California.

The smog became so thick people could taste it. Those who could afford it wore stylish gas masks, while the poor had none.

The oceans rose eight-feet in some parts of the world, leaving places like Florida little more than half the land size it had two decades ago. The east and west coasts of the United States were completely reconfigured by the rising waters.

Massive rogue electrical storms in the sky and stratosphere made plane travel treacherous. Intense heat spurred fires across the globe. Water tables dried up in heavily populated desert areas like Palm Springs, California.

But in hell, the changes were welcomed by the suffering souls. The parts of hell that didn’t freeze over were warm with tropical climates, lush fruit trees, and plants.

The devil had outsmarted himself.

As It Stands, I always thought the devil and global warming might have a connection.

A Visit To A Pet Store on Uranus

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Pet Paradise, Ganth Mall,

Iloth, Uranus, circa 3210

“Fetch! Good boy!”

“That’s when to start them,” Lord Veturan complimented the trainer/trader Daid-Et.

“Three-year-olds can be very trainable with the right routines.”

The little boy went over and sat at massive Lord Veturan’s feet, waiting for a treat. The Jarian Knight pulled out a thick cookie from a bag hanging from his side, and tossed it to the boy who deftly caught it with his mouth.

Now off with you Ra Ra!” Daid-Et told the boy, as he skipped off with his cookie.

“What breed is he again?”

“Asian, my Lord. Comes from good stock. He’s got the blood of a couple of Chinese emperors of note.”

“But what kind of pet will he make?”

“A very entertaining one, My Lord, his breed is famous for their acrobatic powers and willingness to obey any command.”

“When will he be for sale?

“In one more year, great lord.”

“What else have you got that’s ready to go right now?” Lord Veturan inquired.

“Thank you for asking Lord. I have a set of twins from earth’s Zion Park in Utah, USA. They’re nine-years old and have had all of their shots.”

Males, or females?”

“Males. They’ve were neutered two years ago and are very calm. They have good bone structure and will surely be very strong. Here’s their cage. Ne Ne…Obo…wake up! You have visitors!”

The two boys stood up while trying to wipe the sleep from their eyes.

“I see what you mean. Good bone structure. What kind of pets do they make?” 

“The best, wise Lord. They’re known for their loyalty, strength, and playful disposition. As you know, twins are very hard to find these days.”

“How much?” Lord Veturan asked.

“For you kind sir, a mere 300 Uranium Qutreels.”

“You old bandit! Here’s 200 Uranium Qutreels. Have them delivered to my ship before nightfall.”

On the way back home to Saturn, Lord Veturan watched the two boys playfully wrestling over a toy he tossed to them. He thought about his wife and what a great birthday present he was bringing her.

He was hopeful they would live longer than the her last pet, who only made it sixty years. It was hard to part with the lovable beasts. They were almost like family.

As It Stands, humans could make good pets…with a little training.

Doctor Dark and Mr. Moore’s Case of a Lifetime

 

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Alternate Earth, Circa 2017

London, England

“If we take one more case about spying on cheating spouses, I’m quitting!”

“Easy, Doctor Dark, there are reasons why we take those cases. They pay well, and we have certain expenses…like rent and food, that we must met,” Mr. Moore explained.

“Well, I’m sick of them. Can’t we work with Scotland Yard?”

“We could, I imagine, if they wanted us. But they don’t.”

“And, why not?”

“For two reasons; the first is your background – you’ve been arrested numerous times for public drunkenness you sot. That doesn’t set too well with those blokes. The second reason is they don’t even pay as much as our “domestic” cases do.”  

Damn,” Doctor Dark uttered in a subdued voice.

“Chin up old boy, I may be onto something big. Our contact in Scotland Yard said there’s a murderer roaming the streets of London who has easily eluded authorities for three months now.”

“How’s that? I’ve seen nothing about a serial killer on the news?” 

“Apparently, he’s so clever that he makes each murder look like the victim died from an accident, or by natural causes. It was a stroke of pure luck that the authorities even found out about the Mastermind Killer.”

Mastermind Killer. Quite a sobriquet for a cold-blooded murderer,” Doctor Dark observed.

“Quite so. I have a summary of the murders, dates, times, locations, and detectives notes here,” Mr. Moore said, as he handed a thick file to Doctor Dark.

The two would-be criminal sleuths spent all of their spare time investigating the Mastermind Killer. Days turned to weeks, as they tirelessly roamed the city streets at all hours.

Finally, there was a breakthrough.

They witnessed a cloaked figure purposely throw a woman over a balcony. One moment the two were standing on the balcony of the five-story apartment complex across the street; the next, the woman was silently falling to her death, making a sickening thud on the cobblestones.

The killer wasn’t aware of them, as they lingered in the shadows watching him. Minutes later a cloaked figure came out of the apartment complex and started walking towards them.

At the last moment they jumped out and tackled the tall figure. Then something strange happened. As Mr. Moore pulled on the cloak in an attempt to get a better grip, it gave way and revealed an alien being!

Despite their shock, both men used their combined weight to hold the alien down. It’s pupiless black eyes blinked in anger and surprise. It’s skin was translucent, showing a complex network of veins and odd-looking internal organs.

“Blinking hell! Mr. Moore! What are we going to do with this thing?”

“Hold on…I’m going to put handcuffs on it.”

Once that was accomplished, they stood the alien up and duck-walked him to their van. It was an old modified paddy wagon that still had one bench seat, and a set of shackles wielded into the side behind it.

Doctor Dark sat directly across from the alien on the salvaged back seat of a 1960 Cadillac they bought in a rummage sale.

“We’ll interrogate this bloke when we get home,” Mr. Moore said, as he pulled out onto the street and accelerated.

Once inside the house they took the handcuffed alien down to the basement and hooked him up to a device around his thin neck that looked like a bark collar for yappy mutts.

Cheerio! Time to use your translation software Doctor.”

A bank of computers suddenly came alive behind Doctor Dark. He adjusted some dials, pushed a couple of buttons, and turned the speaker system on.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Kiss my tushie!” the alien rudely replied.

Now there! There’ll be none of that. You see those metal rings on your ankles? I can flip a switch…like this (the alien screeched in pain) or you can be civil.” 

Tears ran down the alien’s black eyes and it stuttered a response, “Whatever you say master.”

“Why are you running around killing humans? Shouldn’t you be in space somewhere?”

“I was a stowaway on the Martian Cruise Ship that offers tours of the planets in the Milky Way. The passengers were allowed to step outside the ship, according to international protocols, for ten minutes to experience your atmosphere.

“Just my luck that one of the crew members checked the baggage hold where I was hiding. I managed to get past him and ran outside. I didn’t stop running until I found this place.”

So that doesn’t tell use why you’re going around killing people,” Mr. Moore said.

“It’s all I know,” the alien explained. “I’m wanted on three planets for multiple murders. What else was I going to do?” 

“This won’t do at all! Doctor, throw that switch again, and let’s see how long it takes to electocute this monster!”

The next day.

“It’s not my fault that the body melted into a bloody mess,” Doctor Dark contended.

“No one is going to believe us now. We could have been famous.” Mr. Moore moaned.

As It Stands, my sorry slueths may be back again some day.

How Vampires Managed To Get In The Movies

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Vampires tried to make movies as far back as the 1800’s.

The French are credited with making the first ever movie film.

It was titled “The Waterer Watered,” and came out the same year as a group of vampires attempted to make a movie (the working title was, The Dark Count) in 1895.

The earliest known surviving motion picture is a French movie called :Roundhay Garden Scene,” filmed on October 14th, 1888. The earliest known all vampire production was made on September 9, 1988.

Titled “Vampire in Venice” this breakthrough movie was about a professor who visits Venice, to investigate the last known appearance of the famous vampire Nosferatu during the carnival of 1786.

It was a great case of type-casting because the newly created production company, “Lost Souls in Paradise Studios”  was able to sign the real Nosferatu to play the lead part.

It wasn’t until then, that vampires were able to figure out how to get their images on film. A breakthrough in technology allowed them to use a series of filters in conjunction with a software program that reconstructed their images accurately.

Thanks to those enterprising individuals, vampires were able to share their work with the world.

The resulting parade of vampire movies is still going on today. You may have seen Anne Rice’s breakthrough story “Interview With a Vampire,” in 1994, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Along with those (and other) stars, there was a real Vampire in the cast; Count Barsetti Albergati.

Luring stars to the blood-drinkers movie studios was/and is, actually very easy. The ability to control minds, and memories, allows vampires to get whoever they want to star in their movies.

The list of movies made by the studio contains some great classic vampire flicks. You’ve seen the real thing if you saw: ” “The Night Flyer (1997); Blood: The Last Vampire (2000);  “Queen of the Damned (2002); or Vegas Vampires (2007).

Those movies are only a sampling of the vampire’s cinematic achievements.

Recently, vampires have come out of the coffins to let the world know how artistic and educated they are. The American Actor’s Union was the first to acknowledge their place in our society.

Vampires have been embraced by the Goths and the younger set these days. Baby Boomers tend to be wary of the normalization of blood-drinkers, but they still can be found going to their movies.

By the way, I hear Lost Souls in Paradise Studios is having a casting call for victims at eight o’clock tomorrow night. Good luck.

As It Stands, vampire actors don’t say “break a leg” for good luck…they prefer “drain a vein for fame!”

 

Moonshine Mayhem in McKinleyville

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Circa 1950, The Arcata Union Newspaper

Mystery Murders in McKinleyville Continue

“Locals say the horrific murders are happening during full moons and claim it’s an ancient Yurok curse.

This reporter was unable to get anyone in town to go on the record about the supposed curse.

All that’s known for sure is the victims were all horribly mutilated. County coroner reports have been consistent in the analysis that it was probably a wild animal attacking people.”

McKinleyville is a small town that proudly harkens back to its early pioneer days and independent citizens. A sign posted, as you come into town over the hill, says, “McKinleyville – Where Horses Have The Right of Way.”

It was a quiet unincorporated town without its own police force. The city fathers contracted with the County of Humboldt for protection.

As can be imagined, response times were often slow when an emergency happened in Mack Town (what the locals called it) because it was located 21 miles north. Residents of McKinleyville did their best to solve their own problems.

Grandpa Zeke was a moonshiner. His whiskey took the paint off metal, but was popular throughout the county. His still, set up east of the populated area of Mack Town, was a hand-me-down from his father.

The old man came into town every Sunday to sell his Hooch to the church-going husbands who bought his whiskey after church services were over, in a back alley. Children loved him because he was always telling tall tales.

Four months after the brutal murders began Zeke started showing up in town every night at the local bar. It became the talk of the small community. Old Zeke was buying commercial whiskey instead of drinking his own product.

Even more puzzling, Zeke wasn’t talking with anyone. He sat at a small table alone. After drinking steadily for an hour, or more, Zeke would start babbling gibberish about werewolves and moonshine not mixing very well.

The town fathers became concerned when the owner/bartender, Bob Goldswaith, told them about Zeke’s recent drinking habit during a town meeting. It was decided that two of them would have a talk with old Zeke the next time he came to town.

They found Zeke the next night drinking at Bob Goldswaith’s bar. The old man was well into his cups when they greeted him.

Zeke…how are you doing old friend?” one man asked.

“Are you okay? I never saw you come to this bar in my life,” the second man asked, with a touch of concern in his voice.

Zeke looked at the two town fathers. He knew them well. They were among some of his best customers. “You boys will think I’m crazy if I tell you what’s happening,” he drunkenly replied.

“No! Not, at all!” they protested.

Zeke poured some whisky from the bottle in the middle of the table and invited them to pull up a chair.

“About four months ago some fella showed up at my still. Said he was looking for a safe place to stay in the woods. I said, safe from what? Myself, he said. Well, I can tell you right now, I thought that sounded odd.

“Said his name was Walt. No last name. I told him there were plenty of places to stay. I showed him a redwood that a natural hidey hole at the base. He thanked me and I went back to my still.

“The next day, I was sampling my latest batch of moonshine when Walt showed up. He asked if he could have a snort and I handed him a cup. Then another. Pretty soon he was getting lit up and telling me stories about his life.

“I was getting tired when the moon came out and Walt jumped to his feet and howled like a wolf! For a brief moment I thought that was the damnist reaction I’d ever seen from my Hooch!

“When he started getting hairy and dropped to all fours, I got up and ran like a buck chasing a doe in heat! 

“Ran all the way to my cabin and sat there in the dark shaking like a leaf.”

Both men had skepticism edged on their faces, but one still asked, “So, what happened next?” 

Zeke picked up the bottle and took a healthy swig.

“Nothing. Nothing else happened that night. About a month later Walt showed up as I was tending my still. We stared at each other a long time before he apologized for scaring me. Said he was a werewolf, but did his best not to kill folks, just animals.

“I wasn’t sure what to do, so I offered him a drink. He gladly accepted. We talked until the full moon came out and he ran off howling again.

“It wasn’t until the third time that I saw Walt, that I suspected he was killing people. By then it had become routine. He’d come by on full moons to swig my moonshine and murder my neighbors.

“So, I did the only thing I could, and destroyed my still and my whole stash of moonshine. It was apparent Walt could’nt hold his liquor and got murderous when he drank it. That was three weeks ago.

“The next full moon is coming up tomorrow night. Recon we’ll see if my plan worked out and Walt went back to catching animals instead of humans.”

As It Stands, what could be worse than a drunk werewolf?

 

The Dentist’s Dilemma

The devil is in the details

p10003331Francisco Caputa, DDS, was ready for a life change in the summer of 1938.

He was sick of living in New Jersey, and had no roots to keep him there. His practice of five years was successful, but terribly boring.

That’s why when his cousin Alesandro Carbone called and said he was retiring from his dentistry practice in Bisceglie, Italy, he asked if anyone else was taking his place?

When Alesandro said no one was, a crazy thought went through his head. Move to Italy? His ancestors were from Bisceglie. He only spoke broken Italian, but the allure of moving to an exotic location like Italy was strong.

A month later, after selling his practice in the small town of Millstone, Francisco  moved to Bisceglie. At first, he stayed with his cousin while he searched for office space and an apartment.

Two weeks later he was ready to open. Alesandro helped him settle and vouched for him among the townsfolk. It wasn’t long before he had a steady flow of customers. The people were friendly, especially when they found out his family once lived there three generations ago.

A month later, while drinking at a bar, a drunk Allesandro was talking about the special visitors who sometimes came to get dental work done…at night. “They pay well, just don’t pester them with questions,” his drunken cousin warned.

That sounds strange to me,” Francisco responded, slurring his words while trying to focus on what his cousin was telling him.

“I assure you it’s an old practice, dating back hundreds of years, here in Bisceglie,” Allesandro explained.

Francisco woke the next morning with the worst headache in his life. He’d never consumed that much wine in one setting. While splashing water on his face at the bathroom sink, he vaguely recalled a conversation about “night visitors.”

Two days later an elegant card was hand-delivered to him. The beautiful hand-written script was bordered with Black Roses. It said: “Appointment at 9 p.m. I look forward to meeting you.” It was signed, Count Massimo Barzetti.

The hours slowly drug by. Francisco was torn between curiosity and dread as he puttered around his apartment. At ten to nine, he walked over to his office which was just a short way from the apartment.

Oddly, the streets were empty, unlike a few nights ago when he went on the drinking binge with Alesandro. He unlocked the door to his office and flipped on the light switch. No light. Frowning, he found his desk and lit the candle on it with his Zippo.

It was a small office with just two rooms. One with a dentistry chair and acudaments, and the other a bathroom. The waiting room consisted of his desk and three old wooden chairs by the window.

Promptly at 9 p.m., Count Massimo Barzetti, appeared outside the front door. He seemed to be waiting for something, so Francisco opened it for him. The tall thin man was dressed in a black casual suit and gold tie.

Once inside, he introduced himself and said it was time for his monthly cleaning and whitening. As surreal as it seemed, Francisco still managed to function and extended his arm towards the room with the dentistry chair.

“I’m going to need power,” Francisco said in a daze.

The count waved his arm and the electricty was restored. He then calmly got into the chair and leaned his head back.

When the count opened his mouth, Francisco reeled back in fear and loathing. The sharp fangs were tainted by old blood!

It’s really alright Mr. Carbone. Your great-grandfather was a good friend of mine. I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised to find out that my new dentist has local roots. It’s not in the contract, you know.”

“What contract?” Francisco managed to squeak in his suddenly high voice.

“It looks like your cousin forgot to mention this to you. He’s a sneaky one, I’ll give him that. As they say, the devil is in the details! According to the contract, there is only one Dentist allowed in Bisceglie, and he can’t quit his job until he finds a suitable replacement.”

The room started to spin and Francisco felt faint with fear. He had to ask what happened if the “new” dentist decided to leave?

The count smiled warmly and said he’d be locked up in his castle where he’d become a taste treat for his guests. “But it’s never happened before, and we’ve been doing this for untold generations.”

Francisco’s choice suddenly became crystal clear.

“When was the last time you flossed?” he asked.

As It Stands, I admit to having an unnatural interest in vampires.