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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Letter to Myself From 25 Years Ago

Back in 1991, when I was on the Student Senate at Sauk Valley Community College, we created a time capsule.  We all wrote letters to ourselves and sealed them inside with the understanding we would read them to ourselves twenty-five years later.

I've lived in dread of that moment.  And today, that moment came.

First, the letter was incredibly personal with no regard for which idiot would find and read it.  There was some seriously insane lines but that wasn't what really stood out to me.  What jumped out was the certainty that I'd be dead.

The letter to myself was totally certain I'd be dead and there was just a slight chance I'd be alive.  Furthermore, there was no clue as to how bizarre that belief was, or how unnatural it is to know you're going to die young.  Not believe, but know.

The letter, for some stupid reason, went on to list all the various failings I'd had with women because obviously that would be important twenty-five years later.  Obviously.

I feel like this letter to wisdom is what a bottle of ketchup is to an emergency Go! bag.  Useless, pointless, and completely inept.  I was nineteen and only knew depression, loneliness, and anger.

But there was this weird, optimistic side I had completely forgotten.  I had dreams back then.  I had dreams and goals.  In a weird way, I looked forward to the future.  Granted, they were pie-in-the-sky hopes, but I had hope.  

I never knew how to achieve a goal in life until just recently.  It sounds weird, but it's true--I figured dreams were something that just happened to other people.  And when you think dreams are like that, and they don't come true for you, then obviously there is something wrong with you and you know you'll never be happy.

Goals have to be earned.  Dreams have to earned and more often than not, you'll never really achieve them.  I had no idea back then.  I just figured I'd dress up and show up and magically things would just happen.  After all, I'm Ted--I'm awesome.

Does your current life live up to what you expected?  What are you driving?  Are you still writing?  Why not?  Did you forget your goals?  Let's review, shall we?
1)  Become on of the top horror writers ever. 
 
2)  Become the best, most followed political writer of your generation.
3)  Become the voice of your generation.
4)  Because the first writer to go in space and write about the experience.
5)  Possibly teaching English in high school or college.



No, this isn't what I expected.  I'm driving a 21 year-old Buick that needs work.  In fact, it overheated the whole way down and back, so I had to keep the vent on hot and the fan on high, basically cooking me. And yes, I'm writing.  Again.  I stopped for about 15 years or so, but I'm back at it.  And I'm making progress.

And yes, I forgot my goals.  I totally lost the plot.  I got confused and stuck in the fog of war.  Over the years, I lost track of where I was heading and what I wanted to do.  I was lost in a labyrinth of monsters, quicksand, and demons.

In a lot of ways, I needed this letter.  I needed to see it and I need to go back to where I once was to get the old scent back.  That feeling of "Yeah, I can do this!"

I needed to get out of the trenches so I could see the vast landscape around me and all the opportunities that are available, while at the same time remind myself that I am, indeed, a writer who needs to write.

I'll end with a Ted Moment.

So, I'm standing up in front of a group of people.  I'm opening my letter and I make the comment, "I'm glad I'm the one opening this and not somebody else.  I wasn't sure how this would go.  Good thing I didn't confess to any murders, eh?"

Silence.  Crickets.

The whole crowd got awkwardly silent and I was thinking, "Fuck you, people!  That was funny!"

The Way of the Van isn't for everybody but it's my way and I'm moving forward.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Just Get in the Damned Van!

It's not easy being creepy.  Especially when you need some kids to help you break into your own apartment after you've locked yourself out.

Yes.  I did that.

I work from home now so time outside during the day is at a premium.  I went outside on my 10-minute break to take out the trash and somehow locked the door behind me.

This is the second time I've done this.  Previously, my neighbor climbed through the window and opened my door for me.  This time, I was screwed.  There was nobody outside or walking around.

But then I saw two kids who looked to be around middle-school aged.  I thought I was in luck.  Kids love helping old people out, right?

No.

They kept walking right past me like I wasn't even there.  Just kept on walking and pretended not to hear me.

That was highly rude, but I get it.  Some big, creepy guy like me is exactly what kids are told to avoid these days.  They didn't know me and it doesn't matter I live in a small town with 800 people.  The days of helping somebody who asks for help are long gone and we've gone into the next phase of social decay--distrust.  Nobody trusts anybody.

But I'm still pissed so I plan on finding where these little turds live and standing outside of their house at night wearing a clown costume.  Let those little fuckers deal with that!  I might even hold a few balloons while I wordlessly stare from the street.

Speaking of work, there's something that's really bothering me.  Part of my job is once in a while I have to read a script to customers.  It's a tedious thing that takes a minute but we have to do it before we transfer them to an automated system.  The problem is customers will often ignore me and have a conversation with somebody while I go through my script.  I'm reading this damned thing for the stupid recording so if the call gets pulled for legal reasons, the company I'm contracted with can tell the customers to fuck off because they agreed to everything.

This pisses me off so now I want to ad-lib a few things and see if they notice.

"...and then we'll have a mangy dog with dysentery shit on your floor now please wait for the beep.  Thank you."

Most of the people I deal with are idiots.  Worse, some think they can get snotty with me because I'm supposed to just sit there and take it.  It would be nice if the bosses took the leash off and let us snap back on these assholes.  But no, our contractor doesn't want us to do that, because then it would all degrade into call after call being a shouting match.

So, I have to be nice.  Imagine a bear tied to a tree with toilet paper.  Yeah, I could strip flesh from bone with a few sentences.  Sadly, they have these shitty rules I have to follow.

On my last day of work, I am going to rip into people without mercy.  I will blast each stupid comment I hear with flame until somebody calls my boss and begs him to do something about it.  The dumber the rep, the worse their punishment shall be, until I reduce each and every one to a sobbing shell of a human being.

And then all will be right with the world once again.  Balance will be restored, flowers will bloom, children will smile, and the snozberries will once again taste like snozberries.  

I'd like to end this with me going off to watch the Cubs play but once again the shithead tech from MediaCom cut my wires.  Again.  This is twice now this asshole tech has cut my wires.  The first time was at my old place when he installed the Circus Freaks upstairs and this time when he was installing somebody in this apartment building.

I plan on calling MediaCom to bitch and have them send the guy out to fix it but this time, I'm doing to great him wearing a leather thong with studs and a hockey mask.  Then, I'm going to watch him work and comment about how upset I was I couldn't watch my cartoons in the morning.

If you're gonna be creepy, do it right.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Uncle Ted's Guide to Disposing of a Body: Part II

If you're just joining us, I'm currently pandering to the dark underbelly of human nature by posting a guide to hide evidence of a crime.  Remember, kids--murder is highly illegal and you shouldn't do it.

Let's call this a guide for writers such as myself, only better talented and disciplined, who couldn't imagine what to do in such a situation but somehow wrote themselves into a corner.  Their beloved character had enough shit and killed somebody.  Oops.

But it's okay.  I know accidents happen.  And let's face it, some motherfuckers need killin'.  Characters, I mean.  Some characters need killin'.  Because Harry Potter would never kill Delores Umbridge even though the bitch totally had it coming but I could see Hermione snapping one day and just going apeshit.  After all, she did get Umbridge gang-raped by a bunch of centaurs.  That's pretty fucking evil.

Sometimes, it's better to just kill a character off and be done with it.

But what about the body?

In the first part, I covered the basics of the first few hours.  Those are hectic moments and you can't be too careful.  It pays to go over each and every part again.  But now, you've got the body in your bath tub or shower stall.  It has been stripped down, the cell phone has been destroyed, the clothes are in a garbage bag.  You've got your cleaning supplies and you've lots of extra garbage bags.

Now you're ready to cut up the body.  Hopefully, it's freezing cold outside or you have a chest freezer.  A frozen body is so much easier to cut up than a fresh one.  Trust me on this.

If you're using an electric saw, the job will go faster, but you have to be careful about getting DNA caught inside the saw and to not let pieces get flung about.  While a hacksaw will take more effort and time, you can control a few more things.  And control is really what you need.  Besides, it's good exercise and it'll help you think more clearly as you get more oxygen in your blood.

The size of the pieces shouldn't be too large.  The obvious cuts, like hands, wrists, feet, etc are simple.  But when you get to the torso, think of it in terms of a whole chicken.  Nothing bigger than that, if you can.

Why?

The smaller the pieces, the more easily you can distribute them.  Don't be tempted to burn them individually in a bonfire in the backyard.  Human flesh has a distinct odor and anybody who has ever smelled it before will remember it forever.  If somebody driving down the road smells something that reminds them of their deployment in Kuwait during the first Gulf War, or something similar, they'll know what you've been doing.  You don't want that.

Small pieces mean you can individually wrap them in a couple of garbage bags and dump them in a wide circle.  Fill the car's gas tanks and go for a drive.  Dump one in the garbage can at the pump.  Dump another in the can at McDonald's.  Drive to the next town for a Big Mac and do that again.  You see the pattern?

Another option is to make concrete squares.  Use some rebar and chicken wire for the frame, fill 1/3 with concrete, place the piece inside, then top off.  Once dry, you can use it as a paver for your patio out back.  Or use it as a border for your garden.  Or if you want, throw them into various creeks, ponds, rivers, streams, and lakes.

It'll take time, but your time will be rewarded.

If you happen to know a pig farmer, then you're lucky.  But most people don't realize slurry ponds are better.  Those ponds are full of animal waste and bacteria that will eat those pieces up in weeks until there is nothing left.

I wouldn't burn their clothing because it's next to impossible to get all of it burned.  You don't want police to find pieces of Mr. Deadman's unique flannel shirt and specific metal buttons off his jeans in your burn pile out back.  Burning attracts attention.

My advice is to cut the clothing up into small pieces, put in a plastic bag, and dump in various garbage cans around town.  With buckles, buttons, and zippers you can always throw in a river or lake because they'll sink.

Ultimately, getting rid of a body is about using common sense.  I know during this time stress and anxiety will be working against a person, but make sure your Main Character *cough* takes time to think about what they're doing, and what will happen a few moves later.  Be rational.

Will somebody find this?  How?

The harder a person has to work to find evidence, the least likely it is that evidence will be found.  Your character won't be able to work against a system, will an army of forensics professionals and detectives searching for clues, but your character can leave so little evidence they don't have a reason to suspect him or her of murder.

Remember, human nature is to be lazy and unless you give them a reason to do their job, they won't.  So when you're writing this story, and you've written yourself into a corner, be calm and rational.  Think about what your actions might produce, then act accordingly.  This way, your character won't get caught, and that'll make everybody happy in the end.