A break from heavy shit.
Copywrite 2006, Kevin Camp.
ngry Death Goblins of Pain
Rick Covey sat at his book-signing desk, daydreaming as usual. For several years, he had been an established, if not highly respected author. Often, in times such as now—those dead spaces in between affixing his signature to yet another freshly printed book—his thoughts drifted back to his first published story.
Like most young writers, he started out with grandiose dreams. Fresh out of college, some eight years before, he had submitted poem after poem to all of the key literary journals and periodicals: The New Yorker, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor, The Harvard Review, among others. All of them came back returned, unsurprisingly, along with a standard rejection form on a half sheet of paper.
After filling half a dresser drawer with similar slips of paper, Rick started to become desperate. He shifted to fiction. Still, the results were the same.
The remnants of his college fund slowly running its course and with no visible means of income in front of him, Rick contemplated returning to his old high school job. The elder Covey, Rick’s father, originally a native of Alabama, had uprooted and moved his family to Atlanta during the economic boom of the 1980’s. Through a combination of dumb luck and being in the right place at the right time, Mr. Covey invested in cellular phones when they were just reaching mass popularity. Over the years, the man used his wealth and influence to become a powerful and notable ultra-right wing reactionary.
Mr. Covey counted Pat Roberson, Jerry Falwell, and The Graham Family as close personal friends. He had once been known as James R. Covey but decided for symbolic and public relations reasons to have his name legally changed to Pro-Life Covey.
With the incentive of an easy job and good wages, Mr. Covey had paid his only son to drive around his hometown in a truck. The vehicle prominently displayed, on either side, a titanic picture of an aborted fetus. Yet, to Rick, the thought of having to dodge hurled garbage, screamed epithets, and the occasional militant feminist was not appealing.
Rick could not have been more different than his father. Rick left the Southern Baptist church of his boyhood at age sixteen, disagreed openly with his father’s political views, and expressed no interest in the family business. He wanted to make it on his own, out of the shadow of his father.
So, one day, deeply frustrated, he revamped a manuscript he had written in the middle of high school. The story featured an often-abused main character that had once been beaten up for criticizing the maturity of two of his classmates—two football jocks who roared with laughter while simulating copulation with two tiny plastic giraffes.
When satisfied with the finished product he enclosed the manuscript in a large manila envelope and slid the package through the tiny curbside mail slot.
Ten days later, after he had finished washing the wheels of the Fetus-mobile, an enthusiastic letter arrived from a prominent magazine.
We here at Depressed Teen are enthusiastic about your story, “My Black Metaphoric Ebony Soul.” We are willing to publish it in our March issue. Please call our publishing editor, Mary Scarlon, at your convenience.
H. Thomas Forbes
And so it had begun.
While he had yearned for the attention of a serious adult audience, instead, he was the darling of a new generation of teenage misfits.
They skipped school for each book signing. They looked, invariably, the same. The girls always wore long sleeves and thrift store jackets over black t-shirts proclaiming the virtues of the newest death-metal band. Their acne was unskillfully concealed behind gallons of foundation and they referred to themselves as “Jade” or “Portutia”, even when their real names were Jennifer or Amy.
Often they came hand in hand with unbelievably pale, skinny boys wearing form-fitting turtleneck sweaters, who cradled their hand mirrors to their chests while openly pondering why their voices had yet to change.
“I LOVE your newest book, Mr. Covey!” gushed an adoring teenage female fan. Wearing a black choker and oversized canvas pants, the girl also sported a nametag on the right side of her XXL Cannibal Corpse shirt. The tag read: “Elveria”. The dot in the lower cased “i” in “Elveria” had been replaced with a cute circle.
“I used to only read R.L. Stein books but one day, I was at the library in the young adult section and saw a copy of Somber Death Rattle. I read the whole thing in three hours!”
Rick sighed and signed his name on the title page.
The next kid in line bore a similar nametag, which in stenciled script identified him as “Franklin”.
“Rick, that is if I may call you that, sir…you have been SUCH an inspiration! I really think of you as my sorcerer. I hope that isn’t too creepy.”
“Nope. That isn’t creepy at all, Franklin,” Rick said, not once lifting his eyes from a fresh copy of the book that the boy had placed before him on the table. “So, who should I make this out to?”
“Lord Belvedere,” Franklin responded. “That’s my nickname among my friends.”
______________________________________________________ Part Two
During a momentary lapse in book signings, Rick reminisced about his devoted fans. The strangest ones tended to stick in his memory more than others did. In particular, Rick remembered the kids with severe personality disorders. Once, somewhere in the Northeast, he had met a child, who, like some fussy one-year-old, responded to every question with a snotty and apparently reflexive, “NO!”
He seemed to be a normal child apart from that unfortunate side effect. Admittedly, Rick shouldn’t have taken the opportunity to use the malady to his amusement.
“Hey, Billy! Will you give me a million dollars?”
“Hey, Billy! Will you sleep with me?”
“Hey Billy! Do you think Rancid is a great
Rick often received phone numbers from underage girls and occasionally, underage boys. He never consummated any of these invitations to dance the jailbait shuffle, though often he listened to their sob stories. Most of these came in the form of fan e-mails. Much like his phone number, which had been unlisted for years, he had also been forced to change his e-mail address periodically. Someone always managed to find it out after a few weeks and eventually his inbox would be swamped with admiring, adolescent praise.
One girl from Minnesota named Katherine was remarkably persistent.
Rick often thought about notifying the authorities when he’d receive yet another long-winded and highly sexually explicit e-mail from her. He had long delayed saying anything to anyone about her because most people simply wouldn’t believe him. Who has a sixteen-year old girl for a stalker?
Over the months she continued to write, he silently compiled a list of things she had variously told him about herself. For starters, she had been molested at age twelve by an uncle, but had in her words, “enjoyed it”. Now a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac, she routinely picked up random people of both sexes at shopping malls for group sex.
Rick suspected her family dynamic might be to blame for some of the dysfunction. She was the oldest child of a family of six and often had to keep an eye on her twelve-year old twin brothers, who always asked to sleep in the same bed as the younger children. She claimed that she and her mother were best friends: “More sisters than mother and daughter,” she had written. “We tell each other about everything”.
Rick often thought about writing a book about all the strange correspondence he received, but knew that unless he wanted to lose his core audience, he had best keep it unpublished. Instead, he cleverly worked the often times horrifying lives of his adoring fans into new books. So long as they continued to bombard him with their deep dark secrets, he knew he had material to write about for years.
The next two girls in line had driven all the way from Washington State to see him. The first informed him that her name was Willow. She pointed to her mousy looking female friend and identified her as Jesus Christ. Jesus was cradling a baby girl, apparently hers, in her arms; the mother couldn’t have been more than fifteen or sixteen
Willow talked too loud.
“Do you remember, Jesus, when you were seven and a half months pregnant, before you realized you were actually going to have a baby?”
Jesus stared ahead blankly, saying nothing.
“Oh, that’s right!” The friend replied. “I keep forgetting you made a vow of silence after Raven got you pregnant and you don’t talk anymore.”
“May I help you, ladies?” Rick impatiently interrupted them.
“Oh yes, Mr. Covey! I came all the way from Olympia for you to autograph my copy of Narcissistic Angry Bitch God.
“Ah, yes,” Rick replied. “That was the one where the main character has ‘intelligent Tourette’s Syndrome’. He only blurts out gothic obscenities.”
They both laughed. Jesus just nodded.
“You’re funny, Mr. Covey. Just like I knew you’d be.” The girl shyly looked down at Rick and caressed his hand sensually with her fingers.
He tried to change the subject.
“So, how old are you, my dear?”
Seductively flirting more with him, the girl responded, fluttering her eyelashes.
“Well, I’m sixteen, but my last boyfriend was twenty-eight. I had to dump him because we were in this mosh pit and someone’s lit cigarette burned a hole into his eye.
“After that, he had to wear an eye patch, and I
just don’t find them sexy at all. But now he tells me that he can see shades of red and blue now, so he decided to take the patch off.”
Rick sighed once again, signed his name on the indicated portion of the title page, and shoved the book back in the girls’ direction.
Jesus offered a weak grin, and Willow gave Rick a far too intimate hug before they both departed.
Katherine arose earlier that day. Four days before, she had read about the book signing in Evanton by means of her local newspaper and decided that she was finally ready to meet her meet her infatuation face to face. After all, Evanton was only four hours away.
Booking the hotel room had been easy. Katherine’s mother didn’t suspect a thing when her daughter had asked to borrow her credit card. The reservation had been made for nearly five days before Katherine cranked her funeral black, heavily used car and started out on the road. On the drive, the girl listened exclusively to audiobook after audiobook of Rick reading his best selling novels.
Along with her paint-stained thrift store pants, Katherine wore a man’s white v-neck t-shirt. In fact, when he met her later that day, Rick speculated that she had purchased a whole value pack of them at Wal-Mart. He surmised this because Rick’s father wore the identical sort of shirt around the house when he wasn’t working and always underneath his stunning array of country club attire. The girl had taken a black permanent marker to the shirt and, in shaky, feminine writing, slashed “I love Rick Covey” across the front.
She had the swagger of a woman much older than her sixteen years. It was a slightly swaying, highly confident, cocky sort of presentation attempted only by a few females. Despite her sloppy dress, she was beautiful.
Rick had not expected this in the least. He had never known a nymphomaniac, this is true, but he had always pictured them as somewhat akin to crack whores—with the same facial scars, open sores, singed fingers, and lingering body funk. This girl, as she was still very much a girl, seemed to have breezily walked off a runway, not dazedly crawled away from a drug den.
Rick had certainly been tempted, at least at first. However, Katherine proved quickly that she possessed the extremely bad habit (like most of his fans) of not being able to withhold any personal details. The girl could not tell a lie in the presence of anyone.
So, when she said—quite matter of factly, that she didn’t believe her genital warts were in a contagious stage at the moment, Rick had to politely decline her offer. He then lifted his right hand above his head: a signal to security that he wanted this person away from him immediately.