Kevin K.’s Halloween Story:
A Literary Analysis Of A Found Document

By:

Lying where it fell outside the elementary-school door, the worksheet looked juvenile enough — it was crossed by even, far-apart lines (designed for pre-cursive printing) and bordered by smiling spiders. One of the spiders had been scribbled over with an orange crayon, which added just enough color to give the paper an authentic Halloween look. The other spider was left naked: black and white.

The words on the page were what grabbed me. Instructed only to “write a Halloween story,” young author Kevin K. had printed, in blunt number two pencil, a gripping masterpiece of brevity and horror:

“One there was a Vampaimer that came to poelpes houses and there was a littel boy his mom tuun off the light but the vampamer came in his room he took the littel boy haet. The vampame went to the next the littel girl got into a pot of fire the Vampamer lagh Ha Ha Ha the girl died.”

What a find for a literary critic! In our electronic age, such breathtaking, Joycean creativity is seldom seen in handwritten manuscript form. I was instantly impressed with Kevin’s choice of a stock Halloween character, the vampire, to be his villain (or hero?), and how he subverted the obviousness of this choice by consistently altering the spelling. How fresh a familiar figure seems when our expectations are challenged! What does the added letter “M” do to our fear? And how do we cope with the shifting reality of “Vampaimer / vampamer / vampame / Vampamer”?

This, of course, is only the most basic of Kevin’s innovations. The scene in which the “littel boy” (a figure of the author?) is abandoned by his mother is a heart-wrenching echo of the universal experience of childhood. The mother knows nothing of the threat. The boy does not cry out. The Vampaimer is not held at bay. He enters, welcomed by the darkness, bringing, perhaps, enlightenment. “He took the littel boy haet,” Kevin writes, using an Old English, Beowulfian vowel combination to invoke his story’s profoundly traditional roots. Is it an accident that “haet” is an anagram of “heat”? It is, in fact, a clue to the climax of the story, grim foreshadowing hidden in an enigmatic sentence. We are left wondering what exactly the vampamer did to the littel boy — and as Kevin knows, the soul of terror lies in the unknown.

The story’s pacing as it builds to its climax is flawless. Kevin’s transitional sentence, “The vampame went to the next,” dangles like an inhaled breath cut off before it can manifest itself as a scream. Even the word “vampamer” has been truncated, almost carelessly (but with what care!), by a mere letter and yet by an entire syllable. At the eleventh hour, Kevin introduces a new character — or is it an old one? Is the littel girl just the littel boy’s mom, seen through different eyes? Or is it the littel boy himself, emasculated by his encounter with fear? (What exactly has the vampame done to the boy he “took haet”?) The littel girl, whatever her origin, does not wait to be acted upon. She “[gets] into a pot of fire” under her own terrible agency, thereby embracing illumination and reversing the initial act of the anti-Promethean mother who tried to extinguish the light.

The stark, existential ending of Kevin’s story is shocking, even haunting, in its cruelty. “The Vampamer lagh Ha Ha Ha the girl died.” There is no rescue for the girl. We have not yet learned to love her when she is stolen from us. The capital letters spike violently into space, towering over a chaotic, unpunctuated world.

Kevin K’s work is a prose poem of disturbing, exhilarating insight. No other Halloween coming-of-age tale has ever explored such explosively iconoclastic territory. My attempts to track down the author have been unsuccessful. For weeks I sat outside the school each afternoon, awaiting the final bell, but none of the children who poured through the doors bore any visible mark of genius, and the parents I questioned were brusque and unhelpful. The fliers I posted on the playground (“Don’t hide from your genius, Kevin K.! Let me understand you!” followed by my contact information) were torn down within hours — by the reclusive author himself? A jealous classmate? So I can do nothing but look forward to reading more, and hope that this exciting young writer drops another worksheet soon.

Share

Tips On Babysitting

By:

————————————————————————

DO NOT allow strangers into the house unless your employer specifically informs you that they want you and their children to be brutally murdered.

————————————————————————

DO NOT tell a caller that you are the babysitter alone with children. Mentioning children can often be a turnoff for potential suitors. Focus instead on your articles of clothing, mentioning how they feel on your sensitive, downy young skin.

————————————————————————

DO bring items to entertain the children with, like coloring books, colored paper, color markers, tape, board games, puppets, pens, old newspapers, tacks, dirt, aerosol-spray cans, mail, Tabasco sauce, malt liquor, gasoline, bleach, currants, fast-food wrappers, and anything else you can grab ahold of. Lay these items in a pile in the center of the room and watch as the imagination of children takes hold. Feel free to use this time to rifle through their parents’ dresser drawers, or to masturbate vigorously in the bathroom, knowing someone could burst in at any time, thus adding to the level of danger.

————————————————————————

DO NOT go outside to investigate suspicious noises or activities. Any suspicious noise should immediately be responded to with as much buckshot as you can fire through the front doorway, followed by a confident, “How you friggin’ like me now, Osama?”

————————————————————————

DO keep matches locked away from children. Be sure to let them know that you are doing this only because matches have magical properties that give their user the power to cast any object aflame, like a wizard.

————————————————————————

DO NOT leave a child alone in a bathtub, unless the call is very very important, like from your boyfriend.

————————————————————————

DO NOT allow the children under your care to place garbage bags over their heads, unless you have poked a hole in the top of the bag and you are certain you will be back from your friend’s place in under ten minutes.

————————————————————————

DO keep portable heaters away from play areas, curtains and furniture. Keep portable heaters close to the children at all times, so that you can be assured they are always warm and toasty.

————————————————————————

DO NOT allow children to hide in the refrigerator for any reason. Pick one child at random and place them in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes, to illustrate the dangers inherent in this activity.

————————————————————————

DO show children how to stop, drop and roll in case their clothes catch on fire. Remind them that their sudden combustion is a very real possibility, and should be feared at all times. Add that it often happens as a child is falling asleep.

————————————————————————

Share

Leave The Gun, Take The Cannoli:
A Wiseguy’s Guide To The Workplace

By:

You probably know me as America’s foremost business guru, the author of motivational bestsellers like Who Moved My “Who Moved My Cheese” Book?, Swimming With Inflatable Sharks, and Good To Great Depression: Seven Ways To Make The Collapse Of The World Economy Work For You. If you bought any of my earlier books, I thank you — and I also pity you, because they have all been rendered useless by this one, my magnum opus.

You see, in scouring the globe for the most valuable business strategies, I was looking for the love of money in all the wrong places. Sure, the owners and managers of the great multinational corporations love money. They love it enough to steal, lie, and cheat for it…but so few of them love it enough to kill for it.

That’s what separates them from the real business geniuses — the men who run the Mafia. These guys will kill for money. They know how to make it — and how to keep it. Not one of them has ever filed a corporate tax return or issued a shareholder’s report — and yet profits roll in year after year. You want to see how a real business organization runs? Look at organized crime. You want real business wisdom? Ask a wiseguy. Problem is, he won’t tell you, and if he did then he’d have to kill you.

Fortunately, I am under no such constraint. I spent the last few years studying the ways of the Mafia, the mob, the Cosa Nostra, or whatever you want to call it. I read police reports, court transcripts, the screenplays for all three Godfather movies, and other vital wiseguy documents. I even talked to Vinny down at the cigar store (whenever he wasn’t on the phone to his bookie). Then I entered the Witness Protection Program to write this book, which brings you all the greatest gems of wiseguy strategy in one convenient volume.

Unfortunately, many wiseguy sayings and ideas are convoluted — some would say “twisted” — and hard to understand. That’s why I’ve thoughtfully provided explanations after each bit of advice. Let’s face it: If you were already wise, you wouldn’t need to listen to real wiseguys like these. But it’s never too late to wise up and start moving up your own corporate ladder! Let the lessons begin.

Choosing A Career

May Emmerich: Oh Lon, when I think of all those awful people you come in contact with — downright criminals — I get scared.

Alonzo D. Emmerich: Oh, there’s nothing so different about them. After all, crime is only…a left-handed form of human endeavor.

— The Asphalt Jungle

(Whereas business is a left-handed form of human endeavor where everybody has two left hands, and the first left hand doesn’t know what the other left hand is doing.)

Getting Ahead: Tips For Success

Teittleman: Do you have a daughter, Mr. Soprano?

Anthony “Tony” Soprano, Sr.: Yes. Call me Tony.

Teittleman: What would you do if your daughter was abused by her husband?

Anthony “Tony” Soprano, Sr.: Talk to him —

Silvio Dante: Yeah, [with] a ball peen hammer.

— The Sopranos (“Denial, Anger, Acceptance,” Season 1)

(You can’t do the job right without the proper tools.)

Getting Along With Your Boss

Marlowe: You know what he’ll do when he comes back? Beat my teeth out, then kick me in the stomach for mumbling.

— The Big Sleep

(And dock your pay for getting blood on his shoes.)

Getting Along With Your Coworkers

Dr. Jennifer Melfi: What was the last time you had a prostate exam?

Anthony “Tony” Soprano Sr.: Hey, I don’t even let anybody wag their finger in my face.

— The Sopranos (“Pax Soprana” Season 1)

(Respect boundaries.)

Effective Communication

[Jules shoots the guy on the couch during Brett’s interrogation]

Jules: Oh, I’m sorry. Did I break your concentration?

— Pulp Fiction

(When their attention wanders, gently but firmly return them to the topic at hand.)

Job Descriptions

Carlito: You a gangster now. You can’t learn it at school…you can’t have a late start.

— Carlito’s Way

(However, the hours are good, and look at the benefits!)

Office Politics, Office Etiquette

Walter Brown: You make me sick to my stomach.

Mrs. Neall: Well, use your own sink.

— The Narrow Margin (1952)

(Interdepartmental cooperation is a joy to behold.)

Business Ethics

Harry Lime: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

— The Third Man

(Very clever observation — until you realize people actually buy cuckoo clocks.)

Learning From Your Mistakes

Bernstein: Every day above ground is a good day.

— Scarface (1983)

(On the other hand, every day underground will be a day you don’t have to sit through a staff meeting.)

Managing Through Intimidation

Joel Cairo: You — you imbecile! You bloated idiot! You stupid fat-head!

— The Maltese Falcon

(Keep job reviews short and to the point.)

Beating The Competition — Literally

Bill the Butcher: I’m going to paint paradise square with his blood. Two coats.

— Gangs of New York

(To beat the competition, you must be prepared to work twice as hard.)

Doing Business Like A Wiseguy

Nice Guy Eddie: We got places all over the place.

— Reservoir Dogs

(Be intimately familiar with all your branch offices.)

Dealing With Change…Or The Lack Of It

Tom: No money, no weed. It’s all been replaced by a pile of corpses.

— Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

(If life gives you corpses — use them for fertilizer, grow your own weed, and make all that lovely money back!)

The Last Word

Tony Montana: I kill Communists for fun.

— Scarface (1983)

(If you can’t enjoy what you do, what’s the point?)

Share

I’ve Got An Idea

By:
helmutluchs@sbcglobal.net

I’m a writer. I live in Hollywood. I write for network television. I’ve got an idea. It’s incredible. It’ll be the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s full of pathos and humor. The effect will be awe inspiring. People will laugh and cry and pull their hair out with both hands.

Oh, wait…I’ve got another idea. This is ten times better. Instead of the girl boarding the train and riding to Peoria to see her sick uncle, she robs it. She’s nude, she has no gun, she just asks for the money and they give it to her. They have to. It’s in the script.

Oh, wait, damn it — they won’t let me show full-frontal nudity on network television. Yet. Damn, damn, damn! I wanted to say something even stronger than that but they won’t let me use those words in articles about writing for network television, let alone in writing for network television itself. Yet. But back to the naked girl robbing the train — how long will we writers be held back by such infantile taboos? Oh, well, she can be in her underwear or something. I read an article somewhere which said that women with some clothes on are sexier than those with no clothes on. I wonder if that’s true? I know my wife is sexiest when she’s under the covers and I can’t see her at all.

My wife and I are getting a divorce. Did I tell you? It’s just like that movie Unfaithful except she doesn’t look like Diane Lane and I don’t look like Richard Gere…or like Diane Lane. I could’ve written that movie, you know. In fact, I’m going to — for TV. I don’t mean I’m going to write it exactly, but something similar, you know, something suspenseful and erotic and ironic and so real you could swear you were there.

You know, the great thing is that my wife and I love each other more now than we’ve ever loved each other before. Really, it’s true. Ours is a deep love burning with a hard, bright, jewel-like flame. We just need a little space apart from each other so we can grow. I kid her about it and say, “Why do you want to grow, you’re already six-foot-three?” Then she slaps me in the face with the strength of a mountain gorilla and I go flying into the wall again, but she doesn’t really mean it. She loves me.

I wonder where my wife is, she should’ve been home hours ago. Oh, wait, that’s right — she moved to Florida or someplace. Lord, I love that woman. I have to write this down, it would make a great sitcom. A man forgets that his family moved to Florida. Or someplace.

I’d better work on that one right now before I forget it. The naked girl on the train can wait. I’m not sure I like the idea anyway. You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Did I forget to tell you? I’m a writer. I live in Hollywood. I write for network television. And I, my friend, I have got an idea. Oh, wait — what was it?

Damn.

Share