Lest You Want Some...
Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: October 2010
It’s not easy to sell someone on the idea of normalcy. However, if that someone happens to be a child, the task becomes a little simpler. I’ve mentioned before, I’m a reader, and I always have been. After I’d run out of books in my room to read, I began branching out and raiding the numerous bookshelves around the house. My Mother has always had a penchant for vintage books, especially anything with embossed covers and charming illustrations. As a child, on one such mission around the house to outsource for reading material, I stumbled upon one called Homespun Stories. A demurely dressed girl on the cover held an unraveling ball of yarn, and the binding of the book was barely attached. With a copyright date of 1924, the binding of the book wasn’t the only outdated element. Within its pages I read a story that at the time seemed normal enough. A little dark maybe, but not too unusual. Titled The Silencer, it told the story of a little boy named Johnny whose Mother sends him out to the woods to play after irritating her to no end with his insescent talking. In the woods he happens upon an elderly man who lives in a tree, not unlike a Keebler elf. After luring him into his tree house, the man plies him with a flimsy story about wanting to pay little Johnny for his gift of gab. He hooks him up to a machine that will “assess and reward” his speaking abilities. After talking for a few minutes Johnny notices that his face has been taken hostage by a Hannibal Lector style mask, complete with screws holding his jaws shut. I remember reading this and not thinking anything of it. However, reading it again recently I was reasonably disturbed, and saw it for what it was: old man lures child into tree house and tricks him into a mask that would be right at home in the Saw movies. The moral of the story I suppose, was that if you must speak, make sure you don’t do so unnecessarily.
In the theme of frightening stories, which I suppose is extra fitting given that it’s October, this week we look at The Green Woman. Written by bestselling author Peter Straub, (Ghost Story, Koko, The Hellfire Club) and screenwriter/actor Michael Easton, The Green Woman is a thriller/horror story with plenty of gore and chase scenes. With two fantasy/horror novels under his belt, co-written with Stephen King, Straub was the perfect choice to execute this project. Those of you who frequent daytime soaps might recognize Easton from his role as John McBaine on One Life To Live. A graphic novel full of suspense and intrigue, The Green Woman focuses on a serial killer and the detective hunting him. The dark, heavy feeling this graphic novel imparts was on par with Preacher, but where that series plodded along in some parts, TGW keeps up its engaging pace. That’s all for this week, remember to keep those pointless words to yourself, lest you be abducted by the Keebler elf and jimmy rigged up to a face-torture mask.