(Halloween Story) Batter Up!
In the course of writing personal, contemplative articles, one may question how "fun" each article is. Perhaps reading my thoughts on insanity or societal depression isn't the most riveting thing in the world . . . alas. However! I do host (club president) Creative Writing Club—and through that, I'm able to have fun with writing once more. This is a product of a couple of friends working at a surreal narrative about insecurity, materialism, masculinity, and our ability to laugh away evil. It's very strange and probably concerning. It's like a David Lynch piece, in a way.
There’s quiet roar at Jake Christian’s Annual Office Costume Party. JC’s house is this palace in the middle of some Hollywood-type neighborhood on some mountain a little west of LA: it’s got everything from flat screens to those fancy quartz-granite tabletops to a patio suspended something 50 feet above the mountain cliff so you can see the sunrise in its marvelous entirety. The only thing the house lacks is good decor, which is really not Jake’s strong suit, so he’s provided way too much booze so that nobody notices how poorly the fake-monster laminations slope against his designer wallpaper, tacked there year after year. It means a lot to him, Jake, actually, that nobody notices how cheap the decorations are. Last year’s Costume Party was about the same sized crowd, Jake notices. Will Puckett’s over there chatting up Charlotte, who’s dressed up as a half-horse half-wolf. He’s in no hurry, Will isn’t, because he’s staring a hole through this self-proclaimed “Wolf-a-taur”’s green eyes, which strike him as so indefinably green, deeper than emerald. And there, there’s Kate Risley, her fluffy black cat ears half-slipping off so that they seemingly defy physics, carrying a matching black purse for her cute “Sexy Catwoman” getup. The costume has no tail, and it looks as though she’s made it herself by tacking together some scrap black leather and varnish and rubber. “It fits like a bitch”, she says. And she’s talking to Isabella Belford, communications manager, who’s dressed up like a princess, pink tutu and all. The two of them are talking about how cheap the decorations are, both of them on their 3rd beer. Oh and don’t forget Trevor Whitfield, who’s just come in, late. Trevor’s dressed up as his normal self, except for this time he’s wearing an inflatable dinosaur suit, like, from vine. . . “HEY GUYS! Like my DINO-SUIT?” he’ll say. Trevor shuffles over to Will P.
“My fish is a sociopath,” says Will Puckett.
“Fascinating,” replies Charlotte.
“He just blinks at me with these uncaring eyes.”
“Oh hi, Trevor.”
“Guess who?—wait, how did you know it was me”
“LIKE MY. . . . DINO–SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT????” chokes Trevor
“Like, from, from like those Vine compilation videos!”
“Oh I get it,” replies Charlotte, who coughs.
Trevor’s heart sinks.
Kate Risley and Isabella can’t hear much inside the house and decide to go out onto the patio where Jake Christian’s sitting alone tending to his fire pit.
“Hey Jake, the party’s inside, you know,” jests Kate.
“Getting fresh air,” Jake morosely mentions.
“Are you saaAAAdd!!!” barks Isabella
“It’s nothing, really. Dreary nights like these really suck the joy from a party”
“You really suck the joy from a party,” says Kate Risley, punching Jake in the arm
Looking up, Jake smiles
“Yeah.” says Kate.
“I was just telling Kate about how much I really like the decorations.”
“You liked them?”
“Yeah, they’re fun!”
Kate and Isabella sit down in the two patio chairs opposite Jake. Isabella warms her hands over the fire, looking up into the night sky. The patio seems to suspend itself in the pitch dark.
“That’s wild.” says Charlotte.
Trevor and Charlotte turn to face Will Puckett
“When did you get your fish?” says Charlotte
“You have a fish!?!”
“It’s a great story,” says Will P.
“I’d love to hear it,” half-whispers Charlotte. She does that thing that Will Puckett finds indescribably attractive, that half-whisper thing with her voice
“You got a FISH!?!” interjects Trevor, stupidly
“Yeah, Trevor. About a year ago, I think.”
“What kind is he??”
“He’s one of those angelfish—so I got this fish at a fundraiser.”
Charlotte leans slightly onto Will Puckett, who remains motionless.
“A-And,” Will Puckett coughs, “so I was at this fundraiser for some art-expo in town, and here’s this beautiful, glowing fish. Beautiful fish, just glowing.”
“And the person selling this fish tells me that the fish only eats other fish.”
“And I said, ‘No way’ and he said ‘Yeah, way’”
Will Puckett pauses, and looks down at the silt-fine layer of cobweb on the floor
“And I said, ‘that’s wild’ and he said ‘actually, he’s quite tame.’ and then but so at the ballroom auction, it was just me and this young goth chick bidding over this fish, for charity. ‘$200! $300! Can we go to $400s?!’ -type of thing. And suddenly we just kept going, kept bidding, this chick and I, although I don’t think she even had the money to pay for it and immediately after she’d bid I’d raise my hand and she’d raise hers it got up into $1500 and then...”
Will Puckett kind of shifts around, causing Charlotte to move her tail and fake-hooves to the side and scoot over, and Trevor, who just hates these uncomfortable moments of pausing and unresolved silence, sort of chortles or chokes and bursts: “SO and THEN what!?” and Will P. looks up and stares blankly and says something inside him at that moment in the midst of bidding broke, but broke loose, and “I just snapped and yelled ‘STOP!’ and she cowered back in fear and I bid $2000 for this fish!”
His voice trembles with a cadence so slightly off you can tell it’s genuine.
“I’ve never yelled at a woman before.”
Will Puckett looks more baffled than panicked, and then snaps sort-of back and admits to them “but the fish is actually pretty tame, and I feed him guppies which aren’t really even fish if you think about it.”
And then after Will Puckett looks out the window from slight discomfort at what he’d just so genuinely and haphazardly had admitted out at the porch and sees the three figures out there against the fire a strange mystic force seems to pull—
“It’s kinda weird.” says Jake, breaking the silence.
“What?” says Isabella and Kate, simultaneously.
“Kate’s cat ears are slipping off at such an angle that it’s weird they don’t fall off.”
“Do you think they’re cute?” coddles Kate
“Yeah,” states Jake C
“Alas I bought them for only $2, only $2 can you believe that? And they look this great!” admits Kate Risley, who now checks in the reflection of the window the image of the cat ears which rest in slow perpetual slip.
“Yeah I couldn’t even tell!” lies Isabella Belford, craning her neck
“Mmmm, I think October is my element, really.” says Jake C
“So you’re a sociopath!” jests Isabella
“I totally get you. Something about the October aesthetic really resonates with my personality.” says Kate Risley
“So what your costume anyway?”
“Mine? Oh, some politician.”
“He’s. . . it’s more of like an abstract concept of. . . so sorta like a business figure, it’s a joke”
Isabella and Kate stare at Jake C’s strangely sad-looking business suit.
“I’m going to be frank here, Jake, I don’t get it.” says Kate Risley
“Yeah, maybe I should’ve gone as a poet or something.”
“You’re fine! I think that’s a very nice jacket! And those cufflinks are nice, too!” bubbles Isabella
Will Puckett walks away as if he’s seen some a ghost. The two, Trevor and Charlotte, watch him for a minute before following him out onto the porch. Will’s just staring at Jake C. and then breaks and forgets whatever he had just thought and says “Hey Jake! Nice party—loved the decorations!”
Jake glances up and smiles a wicked grin at the compliment.
“Thanks for coming man!” The two share a quick handshake before Will P. pulls up a chair, ignoring both Charlotte and Trevor, who stand by the door curious and attentive. Charlotte greets Isabella and Kate R. and politely goes to shake the outstretched hand of Jake C. and meets his confident smile, Jake C. who she’s only now met but gets the immediate sense she’s known him for, like, ever, and they’re sort of best friends immediately, weirdly. And then Trevor’s just sort of standing at the glass patio doorway, and decides to “play it cool,” although it’s hard to “play it cool” dressed up like a dinosaur, and tries to wriggle his arm to lean against the wall. And everyone starts sitting down and talking like best friends.
“I like your costume, Will!” says Isabella
“Yeah, it’s like—post-post modern, or aesthetically . . . apres garde, or like… uhm?”
“Nightmarish, but yet familiar. I love it.”
“I’ve got some beers here to crack open”
“That’d be great, Jake”
“Jake’s been looking gloomy all tonight, guys” says Kate R.
“I’m so glad you made it, Will, we were just talking about the October aesthetic”
“Ah, yes, the gothic, the ghoulish. Very. . . primal in a sense, the archetypes”
“I just like the costumes!” boasts Isabella
Jake C. hands Charlotte a beer and hands Will Puckett a beer also and then looks up and sees the uncomfortable leaning dinosaur in the room and offers him a beer, to which the dinosaur scuffles over and accepts. Upon turning his back around to find a seat, Trevor’s tail catches fire and Jake C. stomps it out, and everyone laughs, except Trevor, who’s humiliated but then all the sudden unhumiliated when the focus is on the dinosaur costume and just bubbles with chortling. And just like that it’s like an entire family is reunited around the firepit on the patio, and the October night air seems less hostile and more lucid and beautiful. And they just keep drinking and talking like that.
“Who bought the decorations, am I right?!” jests Trevor
“Don’t you like them?” states Isabella
“Oh-ohh-ohhh wait oh no yeah I love them, haha” adjusts Trevor
“I think they’re tacky, next year I’m gonna hang some better ones?” says Jake C, whose face has turned from seriously pale to indifferent to actually agreeable and content in a matter of a second
“I think they’re wonderful, you should use them next year too!” adds Trevor
Everyone’s looking at Jake C., who’s looking quite jollily towards Trevor.
“I mean they are tacky, haha. I mean, they’re literally. . . they’re. . . tacked on, like the wall.” says Trevor
“The cobwebs are a bit much” whispers Will Puckett
“And the witch on the wall’s just plain stupid” bursts Isabella
“Hey Jake remember last year’s party, that was fun!” interjects Kate
“And this year’s party sure is great” adds Charlotte
“The decorations are always just a bit much though” says Jake
“No—No it’s sort of an ironic badness!”
“So they’re also bad, haha yeah they I guess are pretty bad” says Jake
“Not bad, they’re great, but ironically great!” says Trevor, backpedaling as fast as he can
There’s a pause before Jake C. tackles Trevor to the ground. The scene is disastrously comedic, the politician wrestling the dinosaur. Arms everywhere, flailing legs, and he’s just got his hands wrapped around Trevor’s pencil neck. The entire rest of the party looks on at the scene as it unfolds. Jake C’s now punching Trevor square between the jaw and the neck. Trevor’s sputtering blood as he flails around. Blood from his nose, from his mouth, and he’s even choking on it a little bit and gasping for air and swallowing blood and saliva but Jake C. just won’t stop beating him down. And now Trevor’s completely stopped putting up a bearable fight, and Jake C. turns around to look at everyone but never into anyone’s eyes just blankly at their faces in their abstractness so their horrified faces are blurred out of cognition. Jake C. just gets up and stomps the ever living hell out of Trevor’s dinosaur head until an eye has popped out inside the suit and hangs lazily around by, like, a tiny string of muscle. Then, dragging the limp body of the dinosaur by the tail over to the edge of the patio, he just throws ‘em straight off, dino-suit and all. There’s a succinct crunch when Trevor’s limp body hits the rocks. Will Puckett coughs a little bit.
Charlotte throws up. It’s a mess, and nobody’s moving. Will Puckett seems to be the most affected, though, just paused there in dead silence completely shaken. Kate’s cat ears fall off onto the ground and she quickly swoops them up and holds them to her chest. Isabella’s looking pretty distant. Jake walks over to Isabella, and puts a gentle hand on her shoulder to comfort her.
“He was right,” says Jake, “the decorations were a bit . . . tacky.”
Slowly, Will Puckett starts laughing. And then he’s on the ground, crying of laughter. Jake’s laughing now, too. And Charlotte’s got this bubble of laughter that bursts now. And then all of them are in complete hysteric laughter. The skeleton poster on the wall falls off the wall delicately and crumples to the ground over the fine layer of cobweb. Will Puckett, who has been dressed up as a sheep, begins to cluck around, and the rest of them all start braying about, one by one, in a demonic circle on the patio.