Page Five Ghouls

Life Stinks

Byline: Gary Llewellyn

Dateline: July 8th, 2017

Do you know where you’ll spend your retirement? Have you thought about it? If my dad is correct I’ll be spending it in a shallow grave. That’ll probably be the only time that cop bastard was right. It’s still a lucky guess. Next question; do you ever wonder what monsters do with their retirement? If you said ‘yes’, it’s highly likely you’re a liar. Last question; did you think we were done with Bigfoots? Were you really glad we were done with Bigfeet? I know you probably thought, ‘Grassman? We’re scraping the bottom of the crypto-hominid barrel now. There can’t possibly be anymore of these fucking things.’ Well, like my dad, you’re wrong.

Welcome to Florida, land of opioids, fucked up animals, and theme parks. As the cliche goes, you’ll also find more than a few retirees. Also where you can find another kind of retiree. An ape man, known as the Skunk Ape. So named, as you could probably imagine, because of his pungent odor. Stephanie couldn’t handle it and returned to base camp. One time, I was locked in a steamer trunk with a corpse for three days. This was like a spring day. Local legend pegs his height at eight feet and weight around three hundred pounds. In reality the codger is about five seven, one hundred and ten pounds, with terrible posture. About once a year, a report will emerge of people being attacked by the Skunk Ape, while out in the Everglades. First of all, why are you wandering around the Everglades. Second, this old coot isn’t attacking anybody. Maybe he’s got a grandkid that visits once a year.

When I found him, he was sitting on the front step of his rancher, carving his own bocce balls out of cypress. The idea was to get a look as I casually walked by, but then he offered me a beer and who am I to decline hospitality. Turns out, he has a nephew that visits once a year who likes to tie one on. He’ll wander around the swamp drinking Jagermeister from the bottle. Passing hikers/idiots will inevitably ask him for a selfie and that’s usually what sets him off. And then he hits the crystal.

He came down to Florida after his hundred acres in Oregon were plowed over and replaced with 632 identical Neo-eclectics with three car garages. He came to the Everglades because “this place will never be a suburb.” He was left behind in the Mars relocation. As one could imagine, his persistent aura of rotting fish, burning hair and cat piss was an automatic disqualifier for extended, close quarters travel. We shot the shit and listened to Grand Funk until before I knew it, it was dusk. He offered to let me crash at his place, but all the furniture was submerged in about three feet of swamp water. Plus I should get back to Stephanie before she spends our last four bucks at Shoney’s.

Transcription of Stephanie Morgan’s voice memo 7/3/17 2:47 pm

Ms. Morgan: Okay, PFG for the second week of July. Not this week, Uncle Mort. I’m wading into a swamp to look at another ape thing, except this one reeks. I couldn’t do it. I went back to the Shoney’s.

<silverware clicking>

Ms. Morgan: <off mic> I ordered a large orange juice.

Unidentified woman: <off mic> That is the large.

Ms. Morgan: <off mic> Are you freaking serious?

Unidentified woman: unintelligible

Ms.Morgan: <off mic> Thanks, whatever. <on mic> I paid four dollars for an orange juice the size of my pinky. We’re almost through the money my parents gave me. Send us something, reactivate the charge card. Gary’s learned his lesson; no more buying fireworks or chopping lines with it. I’ll keep him honest I promise. If I’m going to be attacked, clawed, abducted, drowned, trampled or coerced into participating in the murder of the beloved Melonhead patriarch, I’m going to need a compensation. I can’t sleep anymore. I’m hungry all the time. My teeth hurt, I don’t know what that’s about and all of a sudden I’m allergic to purple. If things keep going this way I’ll be the subject of one of these. I should have just went to nursing school like everybody else.

7/3/2017 3:13pm

Ms. Morgan: Who are these guys supposed to be? Dark suits, sunglasses, douchebag watches. They’re identical. Maybe they’re some horrible thing I can submit as this week’s column. They don’t seem to smell like an orangutan in a flaming tire swing. What is taking Gary so long? How interesting is yet another Bigfoot? Are those guys looking at me? I can’t tell with their glasses. <coughing> Oh gross, this orange juice is all pulp. They’re looking at me. That’s paranoia. Is it just paranoia? Is this how Gary feels all the time? I get the self medicating, now. I could go for a drink. I want a cigarette, too. Are they coming over here? No, stop it. Look down. Look at your phone. They’re gonna pass and sit at a table in the back…right? Don’t look up.

Unidentified man #1: <off mic> Stephanie Drusilla Morgan.

Ms. Morgan: <off mic> What? Um, no.

Unidentified man #2: <off mic> Ms. Morgan, we’d like to ask you a few questions. Could you turn your phone off please?

Ms. Morgan: <off mic> Who are you?

Unidentified man #1: Ma’am, we’re with Interpol.

Ms. Morgan: <off mic> What? Interpol? What do you want?

Unidentified man #1: <off mic> Please turn the phone off.

Ms. Morgan: <off mic> Wait…what?

<muffled sounds>

End of recording

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