And now, since no one asked for it,, here's something creepy. Jingle the Clown! Directed by Stefanie "Sajib" Johnsen and starring J. Rohr as Jingle.
Bill Dekker was the kind of guy who wore t-shirts displaying sayings like Ladies Get Free Throat Yogurt or You‘re Too Ugly To Drunk Fuck. Zero respect for authority, a chronic need for the chronic, and an apparent hatred of his liver compelling him to epic acts of alcohol consumption, he was the guy no one expected to survive in the so-called real world. Yet, after graduation Bill Dekker traded in his juvenile Ts for a three piece suit, and settled into the long road to carpal tunnel. Hammering keys in a cubicle, Bill’s time in college seemed akin to some kind of corporate Rumspringa, a brief trip to see a life outside the one the universe intended for him. Still, from time to time Bill pulled an old shirt out of the closet, and nostalgia inspiring him to don a second skin declaring him the Cunt Punter, Bill Dekker went for a weekend bender.
It was always on such occasions I ran into Bill. We knew each other in a hazy sort of way. We went to the same university, however, we only ever saw each other at parties. I’d be doing a keg stand when Bill would walk in, whip out his dick then wave it in my face as he bellowed, “You suck this next!” Or I’d run up behind him while he was about to do a shot and taze him. And though I don’t believe in Fate, somehow Bill always found me when his benders ensued.
The only thing I didn’t like about Bill was his tendency to ramble on about urban legends, particularly the cities. Those places where the alcoholic is treated like an upstanding citizen, a junkie can and probably should be mayor, hookers are allowed to be proud of what they are, a hangover is a sign of success, and the only real suffering is agonizing over which song to put on the jukebox. Bill believed in the paradises of urban legend, locales that evolved during Prohibition into the shadowy come-as-you-are-,-do-as-you-please towns of America. Everyone knows they exist but not everyone knows where they are. Although, the names at least offer a starting point on the map: Cranston, Illinois, Jefferson Falls, South Dakota, The New York City Burrow. Bill believed in them, and one in particular, the granddaddy of them all Beecher’s Hollow.
In college Bill could go on for hours about his desire to go there, how we should all just steal a car and drive. Aim for the horizon then straight on till morning. He could certainly sell the notion to a drunk crowd. Yet, he somehow never really sold it to himself. He tended to get another beer instead of lead the charge. I suspect a part of him didn’t really want to go, mostly for fear of finding out there’s no such thing as paradise. The trick with faith is never to go looking for proof. That way there’s always the possibility rather than the fact.
On his benders, after the initial hi-how-are-ya pleasantries, Bill always went into long rants about how great it would be to live in Beecher’s Hollow.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like my job all well and good. I’m just saying being good at something doesn’t mean it’s what a guy wants to be his whole life. I’d rather just like -- I don’t know -- sit on the porch with a mason jar of vodka lemonade and watch the days roll by; and you can do that in Beecher’s Hollow. There’s even like booze pipes they run into people’s houses so you got like booze on tap. It’ll be awesome, and I say it will because I’m going. One day I’m going. I’m going.”
Then one day he did. Around his thirtieth birthday, Bill sent me an email that read:
I’m doing it. Beecher’s Hollow here I come! (on ya face!!!!). I’ll send you a postcard buddy. With any luck, someday you’ll make it here too.
Bill Dekker (damn near killed her)
Two weeks later I got a postcard. It featured a tree that looked like it had grown over a sleeping man. Old cracked handle jugs with XXX labels littered the ground around the tree suggesting the slumbering man had been passed out on high grade moonshine. Written across the top in a red calligraphy typeface was the slogan: Come to the Hollow. On the back in a chicken scratch a message read: Fuck you buddy! I made it. Time to love living. Signed, Bill Dekker.
For a week I didn’t believe it. The postmark claimed the card came from Beecher’s Hollow, however, technology being what it is nowadays people are capable of faking a lot of things. A postcard didn’t prove shit in other words. Still, as time went by and no one heard from Bill I couldn’t help wondering if maybe he’d found the actual Beecher’s Hollow. Paradise may have existed after all.
Then about three months after receiving the postcard a package arrived on my doorstep. A note tapped to the top of the box had my name on it as well as instructions to open the box first. Expecting a prank of some kind I opened the box with caution, expecting a cloud of bees to come out, or a deer heart set on a spring to pounce at my face. Instead I found a pile of gritty ashes.
I read the note:
Your friend Bill is a fucking asshole. Here’s his ashes. Don’t worry, we beat him to death before burning him up. We‘re not inhuman. But he told us all about you and your cunt friends. If any of you ever come to Beecher’s Hollow you’ll get the same.
Not long afterward, I woke up in Beecher’s Hollow.
Cybernetic house pets, Winnebago sized mutant Quasimodo delivery men carrying packages in their humps, robot strippers, non-cliché mobsters, the astronomy of TV stars, and holographic hookers. None of these things comprised a single part of my life. According to my buddy Nate that's because none of them exist. And as I always like to rebut, "Not yet."
"Well, who's gonna make 'em?" Nate tends to shoot back because he knows it certainly won't be me.
Three jobs in two weeks is either worthy of note or derision. I can't say my girlfriend inclined to the former. She emptied our apartment of everything she and her new walking cock could carry. Thankfully, they left me a quart of tequila (tuhkillya) to help me get tomorrow started. Montezuma silver to pay for one more sunrise.
I said to Nate, "Maybe it won't be me, but my point stands firm. If scientists just got over society's bullshit morals they'd be able to finance themselves solid. All they gotta do is invent sex machines, real hooker bots, or genetic service freaks, and those things'll fucking pay for all the good stuff sciences really want to build like mechanical surgeons and whatever."
A typical round of brilliant intellectual discussion that only two a.m. on a Tuesday can inspire: let's get the scientific community working on true to life blowjob machines. All the cash they suck out of mankind could finance a glorious revolution. The future isn't cheap, but sex sells, so there's hope we can pay the toll. Buy the Cocksucker EZ-2000, and help feed Africa.
I don't know. At the time I simply didn't want to talk about what was really on my mind. Jobless, Sherry gone, tomorrow looking dimmer as I drained another sunrise, I was wondering what the fuck I really wanted out of life; and if it even mattered what I wanted -- there's only so much influence a grain of sand has on the universe.
Nate paid his tab. Patting me on the shoulder he reassured me tomorrow would be another chance to spin the wheel of fortune.
He said, "'By indignities, men come to dignities.'"
I asked if that was a Nate original or a quote. He said he didn't know.
On his way out the door he suggested perhaps I should head home as well. The shot goes out of focus as I turn to respond then I'm waking up with what feels like a broken skull. I thank god for letting me pass out indoors until I notice the clown.
I can tell by the layout I'm in a hotel room -- the semblance of home for X amount of dollars. However, I don't know about other people's homes, but none of mine ever had a fully costumed clown hanging from the ceiling. I fell asleep with my clothes on, so it isn't hard to determine the belt around the clown's neck isn't mine. Yet, that's a small comfort once I hear knocking on the door.
Even without the dead clown I'd've growled, "No."
Another round of insistent knocks.
"Come back later," I shout, widening the fracture in my skull.
Keys clatter in the lock. Stomach churning at even the thought of moving quickly, I do my best to lunge at the door. But I'm too late. A Polish woman looking like the first line of defense against the Blitzkrieg steps into my room. I've seen myself hung over, so it isn't hard for me to imagine the sight from her eyes. The vampirically pale me with cigar burns for eyes looking sick and bloodthirsty standing between her and a clown suicide.
The maid glances at me. She cocks her head to the side to get a better look at the hanging clown.
Sighing, she remarks, "I forgot. It's Thursday. I'll get someone to help with the dead," and leaves as if she simply forgot her bottle of suicide cleaner. Buy one get one free at the your local drugstore, and remember to stock up before the holidays. She tosses a few Spanish words down the hall, and is soon joined by a slender Hispanic girl. Removing a body bag from under her supply cart, the Polish maid directs the Hispanic girl. I step to the side so as not to get in the way, and I can't help marveling at the nonchalance with which they remove the body.
Still, it's best to keep in mind luck runs out. And never expect the bizarre to remain on your side for long, it's always acting unexpectedly. I gather everything that looks like it both fits in my pockets and doesn't seem to belong in the room. Peering out into the hall I see the maids struggling to stuff the body bag down a chute. Interestingly, a sign above them reads: Bodies.
I hear the familiar ping of an arriving elevator and hurry towards the sound. Riding down with a dwarf dressed in a zebra Fedora, purple suit, and tiger print trench coat, I do my best to seem forgettable. No sense in being memorable, not while fleeing from a night with a clown corpse.
Without so much as a glance the dwarf holds a card towards me. He says, "I'm a facilitator between relaxation artists and the general public."
I find people forget those who give in more readily than those who resist, so I took his card. It read, "Hieronymus P. Valentyn: Bitches, Bitches, and Fine Ladies." We arrive in the lobby, and Hieronymus struts out.
In the lobby I set my sights on the door. One font in front of the other, all the while imagining myself moving quicker than Hermes; and I am the invisible man -- no one witnesses me. Half way to the exit I make the mistake of thinking everything is going to be okay.
I ignore the voice coming from the front desk. Buddy could mean anybody, especially some named Buddy, and I'm not him. Just because I'm the only one in the lobby doesn't mean...
"Dead clown guy."
The specificity forces my acknowledgement. Perched behind a small desk, the clerk reminds me of a well fed vulture. He mutters something in Spanish into a cell phone as he flaps a bony wing, beckoning me over. Something about how bored he seems gives me hope.
"Yeah?" I say without getting any closer to the desk. Twenty feet to the door. I can make it if I run. I'll probably puke all over myself, but I can get away.
"You coming back, or you checking out?"
I say, "I was planning on checking out."
The clerk nods, "Okay. I'm only saying because if you want another day you're going to have to pay for it. The lady only paid for last night."
"The lady you two checked in with last night."
The missing days are still fragmentary, but the clerk mentioning a woman puts a few disconnected puzzle pieces in focus: twin anchors, whiskey, and ribs; setting sail on Lake Michigan; a winding road through a forest; "I think I love you. That's why I hate you." ; the laughter has to stop somewhere. Not much made sense, however, it was better than nothing.
"If I checkout, and there's still anyone in the room..." I trailed off, but the clerk understood.
"I was just on the phone with Lola. She said the room's empty."
I put a scribble in the guestbook, return the key I'd apparently pocketed, then say, "I know how this sounds, but fuck-all, where am I?"
The clerk smiles, "Don't sweat it. We get a lot of that here. You're in Beecher's Hollow."
That's when I knew I was really fucked.
There's a place called Beecher's Hollow. No one knows where it is though everyone seems to have known someone who knew someone who heard from someone else all about the place. It's the kind of place old hookers go to become professors of sexual dynamics; young alcoholics acquire their doctorates in spirit based debauchery; successful junkies learn to treat themselves like royalty regardless of how many pennies they suck from the glory hole. Beecher's Hollow sounds like the kind of spot every hard partying college students thinks is exactly where they should be.
The bugs don't bite anyone in Beecher's Hollow, though they sometimes lay eggs in visitor's eyes. Tourists have been known to pass through and confess they've been seeing things in a whole new light. Somehow the colors of the world come in more kaleidoscopic, as if something refracted the view streaming in. This isn't far off the mark given the organic crystalline nature of the insect eggs. However, after a few weeks those same sightseers wake in the middle of the night screaming -- newborn bugs like winged spiders eating their way out the eyes.
During the Winter in Beecher's Hollow the water tastes like vodka. Yet, it's a matter of debate as to whether the H2O has any intoxicating effect. Considering that in Spring the water tastes like melon liqueur, tequila in Summer, and whiskey come Fall, many speculate the permanent residents of Beecher's Hollow have a Herculean tolerance for booze.
Here the drugstores possess myriad opportunities to push thought beyond reason. Shelves are packed to overflowing with the better known varieties of mind altering substances, while other more exotic, seldom heard of means for slipping off sanity are equally available. Anyone interested in seeing through time should pick up Cream of Castaneda. It tends to come in a tube and doesn't require much to use. A dab'll do ya, so a tube can last more than a year. Just remember to heed the warning label. Things may seem better after alteration until one actually returns from the trip to discover killing Hitler allowed for an unprecedented era of technological expansion resulting in the evolution of genetic manipulation to the point the world is now being slowly taken over by zealot Catholic rats with opposable thumbs. But if that turns out to be the case, well, the drugstores in Beecher's Hollow are a veritable pharmacopeial cornucopia; there's bound to be some opium on sale somewhere.
There's an hour of the evening that inspires some people to go home and others to dive deeper into the night. When there's no chance anything rational can occur, that's the right time to visit Simone Delacroix's House of Mirrors. Hell, it doesn't open till that hour strikes anyhow. But don't let the name fool you. This is no funhouse, though it certainly is fun.
Take Main Street to the town triangle then duck down the first alley you pass you're certain you shouldn't go down (the distinct possibility the shadows might mug you is practically palpable). In the middle of that alley knock on the brick wall. If the first knocks elicit nothing try the opposite wall. One is bound to open. At the bottom of the metal spiral staircase remember to walk in like you know how to get out. Take any free table. A waitress will be along to deposit the drink you want, though you'll never have to order. And if it doesn't look like any concoction you'd ever try now's the time to stop being afraid. Then just enjoy the show.
Simone Delacroix usually begins the evening by playing piano. She wears a three piece suit like a sexual stockbroker. The lady has always had a gift for making masculine things seem more suited to women. She strokes the keys. Pay attention to the tune. Sad notes are a bad sign. That means the rest of the show will involve the manufacturing of sideshow oddities. Granted, one can then witness the literal birth of a lizard -- her egg tooth used to C-section an exit -- or observe the sewing involved in the transition of fully grown separate twins into Siamese, and don't cover your eyes or you'll miss the scarification necessary to twist a boy into a pain junkie blockhead. The freaks all come from somewhere. As such, there's even the making of the genocidally well intentioned, living dead computer watchers, and friendly perverts -- it's a rare thing to witness the warping of a person's sexual soul. However, it should be noted Simone does play kind notes on occasion. Sadly, few people recollect with much detail the kind of shows that follow her happy tunes: "It was nice. Lovely singing. I don't really remember what was sung, but it was nice. Really nice."
Beecher's Hollow never really shuts down. Every shop, every diner, every hotel, bar, movie theater, library, and electronics store is open 24/7. It's a blessing and a curse. People feel obligated to justify the hours by doing whatever they can as often as they can whenever they can; head home from purchasing a toaster at three in the morning to munch crunchy rye while reading a just checked out copy of... it doesn't really matter except this is Beecher's Hollow's own chicken and the egg. No one knows which came first, the 24/7 or the residents' habits. And like most such quandaries no one really wants the answer.
There's a place called Beecher's Hollow. It isn't hard to find. But I'm not sure I'd want to live there, though some tell me I already do.