The vampire genre, like vampires themselves, refuses to die…. but the vampire satire genre may be ready to take on a life of its own. That’s probably the only way to describe Fred Barnett’s novel Bats: Return to Damnalot, in which Vlad the Impaler struggles with the encroachment of tour buses on his centuries-old castle and plans to turn his beloved Transylvania into a theme park. Is his chamber of horrors destined to be turned into a tourist trap? Fred joined the show to sort it all out for us.
Today’s Beach UPDATE:
The beach, in general, is a dangerous place. Ocean water is unfit to drink and the sand gets into places that I cannot mention on a family website. People walk around almost naked and the sun is too hot. For the good of your health, sanity and family, you should ALL stay home. Do NOT go to the beach. In the meantime, I will monitor the beach for you and give an update WHEN and IF the beach EVER becomes a safe place to visit. This has been a public service announcement. Mahalo.
PLEASE: Stay the F___ offa the beach!
“You Want a Piece O’ Me?” — from The Kingdom of the Cats
Hamilton Nursery School stood, alone, on the dunes of Far Rockaway Beach. I never got to eat the lunch my mom made me on my first day because she’d had come back to fetch me — so soon? Mom’s frantic walk was framed by the shimmering Atlantic behind her.
The stern Ms. Hamilton, the school’s owner and head teacher, towered behind me, arms crossed, hair in a tight bun, as mom came up the walkway nervously clutching her purse.
“What’s wrong? Is my son okay?”
“He’s fine, Mrs. Deutsch.”
“But there is a problem.”
Inattentive, I jumped in with, “What’s that?” pointing to a stone statue that stood, knee high, next to my mom on the sandy path.
Ms. Hamilton pointed a long crooked finger. ”Some nasty kids dumped that ugly thing in my yard. Pagans!” she hissed with a sneer. “That blasphemy is going into the trash, today.”
“Ooooh, I like him. How cute. It’s a statue of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon,” my mom said. ”It looks very old.”
“Is he friendly?” I asked.
“You want to be Poseidon’s friend, Freddy. He can be a very mean tempered god. He brings vengeance upon his enemies with great storms.” Mother loved art and history.
“It’s ugly,” said Ms. Hamilton.
The sound of a large wave, pounding the shore, caught our attention. A strong breeze buffeted us with sand.
Ms. Hamilton, grasping her cane, continued: “Let’s go inside, Mrs. Deutsch. This morning, I gave little Freddy some time in our arts and crafts room to see if he had a creative streak.”
She’d locked me in the spare classroom, alone, because I kicked her in the shins — I was certain that I knew her. I was sure she was Dorothy’s Wicked Witch.
“He destroyed the room with three entire gallons of red paint that was meant for the outside of the school.” She led us into the windowless art room.
“It looks like someone was murdered here,” my mother said, while I was thinking, more blood.
“We’ll never get this cleaned up, Mrs. Deutsch. Your son may end up a housepainter like that…Ahem, that German feller with the little mustache. Look at this place. You’ll have to find your Freddy another school.”
“What?” my mom asked, dropping her purse.
“You’ll have to find your son another nursery school. I thought it over and well,” she said scratching the hairy mole on her chin, “I think that your son may be Dangerous to the other children.”
My mother looked around, while listening for the voices of ‘other children.’ There were no other children. All there were were boxes, labeled ‘Gingerbread Cookies’ which I had splattered with red paint.
“Expressionism,” my mom said, half-joking. She turned to me. “Tell your teacher that you’re sorry. Now!”
“Mommy! She hit me!” I lied, in make-believe tears.
“Is that true, Freddy?” My mom stared at the witch.
Before I could lie to my own mother, again, Ms. Hamilton pointed her long crooked finger at me. “Your little gentleman is a teller of tall tales.” Hamilton gave me the evil eye. “He’s got some imagination, I’m saying.”
“Are you calling my boy a liar? Just a few moments ago you called him a little Hitler!”
I kept my lip zipped as I was already in enough trouble.
“Let’s go.” Suddenly, my mother grabbed my hand and marched me away from the school, no doubt saving me from becoming one of Ms. Hamilton’s gingerbread cookies. We were about to pass Poseidon when an idea struck me. I turned back to Ms. Hamilton and said, “Mo=y mom says that you should be friendly!”
“If you sinners like that awful thing so much, take it home with you!”
My mom picked Poseidon up and held him in her arms like a newborn. “C’mon, Freddy.” She propelled us home, away from the Beach. I saw her face. She looked worried.
“Mommy, what’s wrong?”
Wind and rain had been building since we’d started walking. By the time we reached the tall brick stairway that led up to our house the rain began to sweep horizontally. The tall pine tree in the front was rocking wildly. Mom rushed me up the stairs and into the hallway as the sky began to turn black. She turned to secure the potted plants, slipped on the top step, and cut open her ankle.
The wicked witch did this! I thought. Angry, I shook my stuffed dog at the lightning.
My mom had forgotten about my decorating the school and fibbing. She was in pain, as she pushed me into my room. “Go Freddy, go play your records.” She held back tears as she closed my door. At my bedroom window, I saw the churning clouds and the face of a bearded man. Poseidon!
I ran to the front hall and hugged the statue. There and then I promised Poseidon my prized Patty Page record, “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?” if he would help my mommy. I’d already played the record two-thousand times and had already moved on to new music, ‘Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.’
Poseidon must have been a Patti Paige fan, because ten minutes later the sea god had washed the Hamilton Nursery School into the grey Atlantic wielding a mighty hurricane that bore my mother’s own first name, Claire.
The next morning, the record, along with my record player, were gone from my room. “Mommy!” I yelled, a little frightened. I calmed after recalling what I’d done.
My dad, tired, had returned from his business trip to find that the storm had washed our pine tree, westward into Jamaica Bay. After lunch, mom told dad about my mischief at the Hamilton School and our hurricane adventure. Dad paused, stood up tall, removed the smelly cigar from his mouth and, looking down, told me that he was proud I’d learned a very important life lesson.
“Lesson?” I asked, having no idea what a lesson was, or life was, or business was.
“When you need something done right,” he said with a wink, “you must go straight to the top.”
Freddy Deutsch, Age 4
Far Rockaway Beach, 1954
Interpol agent Bernie Benedict and the Shark Goddess Dauna pulled into a dirt lot by the river’s edge. The New York skylight twinkled. They stood along the trash strewn bank of the East River.
Dauna took a lighter out of her jeans pocket. “Listen Clam Dip, after our swim, I’m going to take you to a place that’s absolutely to die for.”
“Swim? I thought that we were going to talk over Dim Sum dumplings at Double Chins.”
“Drive over there, next to the outfall. I’ll show you dumplings.”
“You want to swim in the East River? Do you have any idea what’s in that mess?”
“Well, the rainbow plume on the surface suggests kerosene, fuel oil, gasoline, naptha butchering, sewage, and medical waste.” she said while throwing down her jacket.
“I’m not going anywhere near that petri dish.”
Dauna kicked off her shoes. “It’s safe, Hon. The East River is as dead as the River Styx. Most bacteria can’t survive in it. Let’s have a moonlight swim, chew toy. Let’s play.” She threw down the cigarette. “I’ll protect you.”
“This water will probably dissolve your earrings.”
— From the book The Kingdom of the Cats…………….
“I wouldn’t call them crop circles,” said the Queen Mum to her butler, who waited patiently outside of her golden W.C. as she finished up her three hours of ‘morning business.’
“Blimey! I’d call them bloody indecent!” said the butler Peeves.
* * * *
Wiltshire County, Great Britain-1963
During Buddy and Ada’s Liverpool “spill” where the two aliens had lost most of their songs, the Brills hovered their ship The Lollipop above the village of Hangover, on the open farmland near Stonehenge, in the county of Wiltshire, on the Salisbury plane.
The night before they landed, Buddy was busy drawing giant shapes across the English countryside as though the wheat fields below were his personal Etch-A-Sketch.
Some of Buddy’s sketches were more than a quarter mile wide. He designed the patterns on the ship’s computer and then precision cut those images, using the latest laser beam technology.
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1963, Buddy was still “doodling” on the fields of Salisbury from more than one mile above the earth. At 1:30 a.m., after Ada finished yelling at Buddy for drawing stick-figure porn and humungous boobies on the fields below, the land went back to sleep.
* * * *
Jolly Lord Capersmith
At two a.m., a distinguished gap-toothed mustached old duffer, wearing a bowler hat, was on his way home from the Laughing Gravy Pub. He pulled his Bentley over to the side of the road that faced his family’s Ancestral Castle upon his vast Capersmithshireton Estate.
“Wot?” said Lord Joseph.
Something exciting was afoot in the fields below. His Lordship quickly grabbed his fine hand-tooled leather attaché case from motorcar’s passenger seat. Inside the case were his thermos, and a brand new brass fox hunting pistol. He removed his bowler hat and replaced it with a more appropriate deer stalker. Lord Joseph furtively tiptoed down the slope to investigate the strange lights illuminating the wheat fields below.
“By Jove! Naughty stick figures. I doooooo say. Delightful!”
In the field, on his property no less, also stood what looked like…
“Pip. Pip,” he said while twirling his handlebar mustache.
“It’s a bloody American Juke box (It was the Brill’s space ship, named the Lollipop). Rahthah! Jolly good show, old bean.”
Step — step — step.
“It must be the Princess’ idea of making merry,” his Lordship quipped. “A jest, I’m sure!”
“I’ll sit on this jolly old stump, pour myself a hot cup of tea, take aim at the doodad-thingamajig with my pistol, and give myself a bit of a respite! Simply smashing!”
Though the tipsy Lord Joseph fired and missed the Lollipop, loud shots woke up the ever-testy alien musician, Ada, who was thoroughly enjoying an erotic dream wherein Serbian physicist-inventor Nikola Tesla was demonstrating his hot new invention, the Personal Harmonic Resonance Vibration Oscillator.
Capersmith stopped shooting when an invisible hand pulled back the window shade on the ship. “Something” inside the space ship struggled and cursed while trying to open the window on the front of the giant juke box. Dried paint had glued the window sill shut. Before Lord Joseph could say, with a stiff upper lip, “Oh bugger,” the window shot upward, and….
“Tallyho, asshole!” said Ada while she implemented the magic of the jolly olde ACME Auto-Suc machine upon Lord Joseph Capersmith, and thus deposited Lord Joseph’s royal rump within the Good Ship Lollipop.
Repeated screams of “Do you know who I am? Do you know who I am?” echoed deep into Jolly Olde Sherwood forest.
Ada restored the tranquility of the spacecraft when she respectfully presented His Lordship with a formal printed invitation:
“A Night To Remember
Time: June 28,1963
Location: The Probing Pub of the Lollipop Space Craft
Hors d’oeuvres and Cocktails at 8 p.m.
Dinner immediately following
As Lord Capersmith sipped a glass of champagne, Buddy approached from behind holding Farmer Joe’s jalapeño coated rototiller.
Famous suspected Cannibals …. from the upcoming Shark Fin Soup
“I never met man I didn’t like.” — Will Rodgers
Humorist and suspected cannibal
“I love children. Especially when they’re well cooked.”-W.C. Fields.
Comic actor and suspected cannibal
“People who need people are the luckiest people.”— Barbara Streisand – Singer, actor and suspected cannibal
“I wouldn’t eat you because you’re too tough!”- Sheb Wooley – Purple People Eater singer, composer & Suspected Cannibal
“Taste your lips of wine.” –Don and Phil Everly , The Everly Brothers.
Recording Artists and suspected cannibals
“Sugar and spice and everything nice.”–Mother Goose
Children’s author and known cannibal
“Mmmmnnn nom nom nom” — Linda Lovelace
A publisher that I’d met at a party once asked me,
“Would you like my honest opinion on your work?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“It’s worthless,” he said.
“Please, tell me anyways.”
So that you never send us another manuscript, let me offer a list of reasons why we’ve rejected ‘Buried Alive,’ your — ahem — so-called book, beginning with its cover:
Regarding the cover art: I’d rather watch dirt being shoveled on my face from the bottom of a dank, lonely grave. Buried Alive is an apt title — as it will be. Your chosen title has been used over 20,000 times. Try something more original like ‘They Cut Down a Tree for This?’
Your author photo: We sincerely hope that the image on the sleeve wasn’t that of your face. I’d hate to see what the truck that hit you looks like.
Regarding your intro: It should have been the outro.
Your plot (?) was weighed down by inane ramblings. I was surprised the book had a spine strong enough to hold all Four-hundred and fifty pages of them. Only the table of contents made sense. The phrase ‘The End’ was a welcome touch.
The story: Nauseating. Your novel should have been mailed in a self-addressed, stamped barf bag or, better yet, never at all. I’m amazed that the package didn’t set off ‘the Stupid Alarm’ at the Post Office. I tried using your manuscript to line the litter box. The cat went in my shoes instead. I’m curious about one thing, when you were a kid and your dog ate your homework, did it die afterward? Your main character, Dave’s dull story arc flat-lined seven chapters before he died — of boredom apparently. I wanted to scream, “Get a death!”
Your non-dimensional characters are as shallow as your gene pool.
The appendix should be removed — without anesthesia — using a plastic Taco Bell spork.
About you, the Author: I’ve known more interesting manikins — with their clothes on.
Overall quality: My puke just puked.
Name withheld by request
Fat Chance Publishing
Vlad’s Castle was surrounded by amusement park rides, lights, and sported a new fifty-foot neon sign: Black Flags Tragic Mountain. Vlad kicked at the old skulls rimming the ditch. An unusually large noggin clamped its jaws down on his boot. “Ah! The great doctor! Look, Elizabeth! It’s old Abraham Van Helsing himself!” Vlad lifted his foot to show the skull his castle. “Say goodbye to your grandchildren, Abe. Or maybe it vill be hello.” The Prince swung the foot into a rock and smashed Abe’s bony brain bucket to smithereens. “Elizabeth, the love of my death, vhy am I here attacking my own castle? Never again!”
The Bats Mobile stood idle, growling and ready, with the bodies of Gibors stuck in its tire treads and front grill (Gibors were only worth two points apiece). “I’ll open the trunk!” said Mina. “Let’s let the zombie out. She could use some fresh dust.”
Penelope fell from the trunk and crawled toward her master, Elizabeth. Was the moldy oldie actually trying to smile? Freezing rain began to pelt the Transylvanians. It felt wonderful to Elizabeth as it steamed off of her hot skin.
Penelope grabbed onto Vlad’s cape and pulled herself up from the muddy ground. Proudly she joined the other Transylvanians. Hand in hand, paw in paw, wing in wing, hand on butt cheeks, with the blood-red moon breaking through the clouds behind them, their brave silhouettes lined the ridge. The ridge was once home to a grand display of impaled enemy corpses that had long since rotted away and had once served as a very effective warning to invaders. The moon rose and illuminated the captive castle below. They had no guns. The Transylvanians were their own best weapons, when and if they ever let go of each other’s butt cheeks.
Find the book BATS at: https://www.amazon.com/Bats-Fred-Barnett-ebook/dp/B00T2XBVYU/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
“Who are you and what do you know about Infinity Upton-Downes?” thundered Tor, the largest of the motorcycle club known as the Hell’s Angles (Architects on vacation). “How would you know that Infinity Upton-Downes ain’t home? Her Witchipedia biography says that she lives in Transylvania year-round. I know everything about her…’cept what she looks like. I imagine that she’s pretty hot after readin’ her novels.”
“Oh. Howwwww do I know she isn’t home, snowflake? ’Cause you’re talkin’ to her, ya big ugly bastard! What happened to your eye?”
“Your eye! Are ya deaf too? Bend down and let me take a look you got something…right there!” She poked it. “Nyuk, nyuk.”
“Ow! Old bat!”
“You’re fine, petal. Look through this telescope. See!” The telescope left a big black greasy circle around Tor’s poked eye. “So, you don’t believe that I am the famous Infinity? Have you read Tragic Lust #34? Of course you haven’t! I just finished writing it. It’s a romantic called Go-Go West, Young Man.”
Lupta, who used Infinity Upton Downes as her pen name, waved her cane and began to recite:
“Ahem… Time. Stood. Still. Broken by an intensifying vibration, Thunder Thigh’s glistening bronze body began to quake. Handsome Jack’s mighty maracas nearly shook loose. The Paiute guide howled when she clamped down and crushed the stunned studly Spillwell’s notorious hardened spike… The wagon master’s dying wail triggered the legendary Montana avalanche known by all school-age children today as ‘Fuckin’ awesome!’”
Tor turned to his leader, Chester. “Holy Swiss cheese, Chester!”
“Holy…It’s really her!” said Brutehilda, Chester’s monstrous spouse.
Fuckin’ illiterates, thought Lupta.
“Yup. That’s Infinity,” said a Viking-helmeted man in a business suit, named Lutefisk.
Willowy Mina shook her head. She still couldn’t believe that her own aunty, Lupta Axe, was the famous author of the disturbing books that she had been hiding beneath her mattress with her deluxe Willie Wanker Bar.
Seven-foot Tor bent down and kissed Lupta’s black heavy heeled shoes and began to bawl like a baby.
“Enough, my Swedish meatball. You kids won’t find the god-blessed Countess and Prince Vlad at home neither!”
“Of course they’re not home,” said Brutehilda. “Vlad the Impaler and Bathory the Bloody Countess died hundreds of years ago.”
Lupta pointed her crooked cane at Elizabeth’s rumbling Challenger. “Do you see the hottie behind the wheel with red pinstripes in her hair and glowing boobs next to the guy with the funny mustache smoking god-knows-what-unfortunate-creature in his pipe while wiping the unicorn shit off of his shoe? Well, that’s them sitting in the car, turd loaf. You’re looking at the genuine Prince Vlad the Impaler Dracula Tepes,” (From behind the windshield, Vlad smiled and mimed “Hi!” as he lifted his Meerschaum pipe and eyebrows.) “and the Bloody Countess Elizabeth ‘Hot Wheels’ Bathory, the real deal.” — Elizabeth grinned like a bear trap while flashing her glowing red-hot nipples …. . .-.. .-.. —, which in Morse code translated to “Hello.” They even beeped.
The Working Dead
Neil was a workaholic. He was a nice guy, but he couldn’t stop himself.
Neil felt obligated to go to work. Even after death.
After scraping through the last mound of loose dirt on his grave, he’d reached daylight and saw the exasperated face of his long suffering wife, Stella.
“Just look at those fingernails,” she scolded. “The dirt! Just where the hell you think you’re going, Neil?” After 60 years of marriage, Stella, holding flowers, could read his mind, even if it was becoming worm chow.
“Oh, crap,” Neil said, suddenly feeling used up. He sat up and spat out a mouthful of soil. “Stella,” he said, “I thought that I was the one who was to supposed to haunt YOU! I’m going off to work. First, I better to get a note from the coroner or that punk Cabebe will fire me. He hates old people.”
“You mean, dead people,” she said. “Make like John Brown and lie a-mouldering in your grave. Relax. I’ll call Mr. Cabebe and tell him you’re not coming in, ‘CAUSE YOU’RE DEAD!”
“Dead I can handle,” Neil said, “but unemployed and dead? Pour some coffee on me, Stella. Look at the time.”
“Happy Hills Cemetery doesn’t have a Starbucks. I’ll tell you what. Next week I’ll bring coffee and a radio, dance to hippity-hop music, and pee on your grave. Go back to endless sleep, old man. There is no more job and there’s no more you! I feel like a fool coming here to grieve. Tell me what I’m doing here, Neil? I feel like a brainless idiot.”
“No, Stella, I love brains. I mean your brains, love your brain, your mind,” he sputtered, confused and a little hungry. “Where’s my tie and what time is it?”
“It’s just after 8 a.m. They just opened the cemetery gate.”
“Give me your hand. Help me get up. I’m already late,” he said. Stella reluctantly pulled Neil up to his feet. She shook her head, accepting that Neil would never change. “I gotta catch the Long Island Express,” he told her, spitting out a beetle. “Is this burial suit okay?”
“Except for the slit down the back, it’ll do. So … You think that you can just climb out of your grave and leave me standing here, for a crappy job? Just don’t come home until you get cleaned up.”
Neil wobbled unsteadily, brushing himself off. “Cabebe told me after my first heart attack, that myocardial infarction is not a good enough excuse to skip work. I’m gonna need duct tape to patch this jacket. I’ll have to stop by Target.”
“Well, I’ve got a nail appointment. Have a nice afterlife, Neil. You never needed me.”
“Oh, thanks Stella. I’m barely cold and you start in with the guilt. So, you’re saying that I no longer have a job?”
“That would seem logical, Neil.”
“Logical? Well, Mrs. Spock, then I’d better hit the pavement”
“Maybe the office staff never got the memo that you’d died,” she told him. “Watch the dirt! I just bought this dress. Look at your dirty nails. Talk to God, Mr. Big-shot. Get yourself a manicure.” With that, Stella walked away and left him alone, shuffling by his grave.
Neil would make it up to Stella the following weekend by offering to take her to a fine dinner at Yale University. But today, he had obligations. He arrived at work a few minutes late, was given a warning by Cabebe who had to accept his coroner’s note, and was back at his desk by 9:10 a.m. The next day, after a restless night drinking coffee and shambling around town in pursuit of an ambiguous protein snack, Neil was able to make it to work — early!
Young Cabebe, was happy, because he no longer had to pay ‘old, faithful’ Neil, a living wage. The slick, young exec accidentally inhaled while in Neil’s office and was nauseously reminded that the company’s employee of the year had passed on. No one else at Armstrong Industries was aware that Neil was still working — and rotting — in his corner office making CEO, Milton Armstrong, rich.
Work felt different by the following Tuesday, when ‘it’ hit Neil. Cabebe is taking me for a — nearly free — ride. Neil left the office at four that day, while the blinding sun was still high and the season was moving toward Daylight Savings. He stumbled toward the station thinking about how his grandkids needed college money. Tomorrow, he would drag along the pavement, seeking the American dream like the other millions of ‘recently deceased but not disabled workers;’ In 2016, after major science breakthrough, the US Supreme Court ruled that death, as it stands today, “does not terminate the deceased’s obligations to paying one’s bills and taxes…until the cadaver reaches such a state of decay that at least three out of its four limbs will not stay attached.” Over 20 million of them wandered the boulevards. The smug living called them ‘suckers;’ thousands of worn out executives, in every city, shuffling and mumbling “Jobs. I neeeeeeed a job.”
Neils train passed by Happy Hills Cemetery as it approached his old neighborhood. Graveyards are for slackers, his wormy brain thought. A real worm … uh man needs to work.
While waiting at the 5th Avenue crosswalk, Neil saw a hopeful sign. A literal sign — on a telephone pole, illuminated by the ghostly moonlight.
EXECUTIVE SERVICES Wants You!
YOU need $$$ and WE need BODIES to fill our
Diamond Lane passenger jobs!
We’re also seeking
Parking Space Holders — Downtown, Full Time. 24 hours shifts available.
Bernie carefully lay his fork on the table and stared at his plate. From across the table, his friends Jules and Claire were able to share Bernie’s ‘vision,’ which was framed by bacon, rye toast, home fries, a sprig of parsley and an orange slice. A trio of smiling faces, on his three sunny-side up eggs, began singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in ancient Aramaic. For his birthday, now that he had attained full god status, the entire Holy Family had shown up to wish him well. Well, what do you know, thought Bernie, I must be hanging out with the right crowd. “Darling!” He yelled toward the kitchen, “Darling! Look who’s shown up for my Birthday! Hurry, dear!”
“Hold onto your baguette! God f*cking dammit!” Donette, his goddess spouse, has Tourettes. She can’t control her foul mouth and she carries a doctors note to sonofabitchf*cking prove it!
“F**K!” said Donette’s diners in perfect harmony, (‘Group Tourette’s’ is a rare phenomenon) …because…
Glass imploded into the dining room. A crazed woman, dressed in a XXXXL Walmart flower print Muumuu, commandeering a red mobility scooter, crashed through the restaurant window. Her flapping right arm was clenched around the neck of the frightened Viking MacHeath, who was trying to stab her with a jewel encrusted trident harpoon — that he’d lifted from Poseidon. The scooter’s front wheel was stuck on the window sill when the huge woman grabbed the pitchfork and drove it through Edwin MacHeath’s neck as they nearly tumbled onto Donette’s customers. The scooter wheels were followed through the broken glass by a huge white cat, who managed its own bloody swipe at the Viking’s already spurting neck. The Viking’s helmet fell off revealing a two haired combover. The scooter with the trio on board flipped back out of the window and onto the pier outside where the heroic pair continued to tear into the Viking without getting as much as one drop of blood on themselves.