An Urban Legend Remake
By Melvin .L. Hadley
She took a long swig of her Coke, laced with a trace of Budweiser, and followed it with a handful of warm Skittles. She wanted Pop Rocks for the occasion, but the gas station she had made an emergency run to did not carry them. Then again, did any of the shops in her town carry them anymore? She frowned slightly as she swallowed the sugary combination. She then dramatically cleared her throat as she drew her long legs underneath her and straightened her posture.
He stared at the television blankly, his finger a blurred outline on the well-worn remote as he surfed the wave of channels. Senators, Stooges, Spongebob, and singers made their appearances on the screen in the span of a second before vanishing in disorienting flashes of color. He could not find anything interesting to watch at the moment. Correction. He did not really want to watch anything at the moment.
She cleared her throat again, this time a little louder.
He stopped. The television settled on a monochromatic Superman leaping through an open window.
“Honey? I’m ready.” She said, breaking the silence in the dim living room.
He stared at the archaic graphics of Superman flying for a few more seconds before swiveling around to face the sofa. She stared down at him from it with a sympathetic smile on her face.
“Look, this isn’t just for me…it’s for you, too. Just trying to snap you out of that funk you’re in-”
“I’m alright, baby.” He said coolly, his lips twisting playfully around a toothpick. “You don’t need to worry ‘bout me. You got too much going on as is with your classes and working and-”
“You.” She said empathetically. “Baby, when you feel bad, I feel it too. He’s like a brother to me, too. Stop being so ‘thuggish’…like nothing worries you. We both need cheering up, and this is supposed to do it.”
“Thuggish?!” He growled as he snatched the toothpick from his lips. “He’s my brother, girl! What, I’m supposed to be happy with the situation or something? I’m supposed to be grinning and cheering about that?!”
“No.” She pressed her lips in a line and rolled her eyes in annoyance. He hated when she did that. “But you can’t be running around frowning and stuff all the time. There are some things that are better left up to fate. Sometimes, you got to get your mind off of it. Distract yourself. Distance yourself from the problem.”
“Thought I was doing a good job.” He nodded towards the half-full brown bottle of Budweiser on the TV table behind him.
She chuckled. “I have something that’s a little less hard on your liver. Besides, you promised to help me with this project.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know, I know.” He waved her off nonchalantly as he sprawled across the carpet, his head resting in his hand. “But in case this doesn’t work, I can always roll up a joint in the car or something…”
She playfully stuck out her tongue and stuck up her middle finger. She then grabbed her Coke, knocked it back, and followed it up with another handful of Skittles. She closed her eyes as she swallowed the mixture, deeply concentrating. Of course she was not nervous in front of him; but in front of her Folklore Studies class of a hundred plus? That was another story.
“By the way, this has to be the strangest role-play we’ve done.” He joked, replacing the well-gnawed toothpick between his lips. “What I’m supposed to be? The naughty kindergartner or the high school wise ass?”
She suppressed a snigger. At least some sliver of his humor had returned from the chasm of despair. She ignored his comment as her eyes slowly opened. She was finally in the mood. She cleared her throat and licked her lips slightly before they parted.
“They say the story goes something like this.” She began. “One night…maybe back in the 70s or 80s…this couple went to Lover’s Lane-”
“What city?” He lazily held up a hand.
“I don’t know…and that’s really not important-”
“C’mon, of course it is.” He sat up on his haunches. “Location’s always important. Detroit? New York? St. Louis? Big city or small town?”
“Who cares, baby? It happened in America, alright?”
“That’s very descriptive. Is it near here? Far?”
She raised an eyebrow. “What are you doing?”
“I’m role-playing. I settled on “high-school wiseass”, and asking the hard questions, y’know, like your classmates will be asking…”
“Problem: My classmates won’t be asking those ‘hard questions’ because they’re in on the joke.”
“Ever heard that too much science kills Superman?”
“Meaning focusing too much on how Caped Crusader’s powers work for real takes away the magic of the story.”
“That’s Man of Steel, honey.” He shook his head as he took a sip of his brew.
“Whatever.” She sighed in exasperation. “Look, just…just have fun, and don’t sweat the details, okay?”
“Okay, sorry.” He said solemnly as he reclined into his original position. “I forgot how serious this was for ya.”
“It’s cool.” She ran her fingers through her hair. Again, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Opening them, she exhaled softly and continued.
“One night, this couple went to Lover’s Lane-”
“You’ve said that already.” He interrupted.
“…where it was unusually deserted that evening. You see, the town had issued a very early curfew for the teenagers because in another town a few miles up the road, a bunch of them were killed while having a midnight get-together in the middle of the forest-”
“What kind of backwood hicks are we talking about here? The “I’ll make you squeal like a pig” kind?”
“Oh?” she crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. “Like we’ve never been to a party in the middle of nowhere?”
“Like what?” he challenged.
“Michael Seville’s birthday in that dusty cabin at that lake? You know the one where I was bit by that spider hiding in my hair?”
“Mike’s not a backwoods hick-”
“That’s not the point!” She snapped. “The point is, these guys partied just like we did, in the middle of nowhere, in the woods. End of story.”
“But you said ‘middle of the forest’. What kind of party can you have with only trees and bears and owls hooting at ya and stuff?”
She glowered at him.
He was quiet for a minute or two before he relented. “Okay, okay…don’t sweat the details, I know, I know….”
“Ahem.” She uncrossed her arms as her expression brightened. “Anyway…so, in the other town, the police found a grisly sight the next day when concerned parents clogged the phone-lines, wondering where their kids where. It was like something out of a horror movie. The forest floor was crimson red instead of emerald green. Body parts lay tossed about like an angry child’s discarded toys. It was a horrifying scene, one that none of those policemen that day would surely forget….but we would never know if this was true or not.”
“Why?” He tried in vain to hide his rolling eyes. “’Fraid it would ruin their chances at the annual Police Donut Convention?”
“…because…they never returned. Deer hunters would later find their butchered remains just a mile from where the teens were slaughtered. The state authorities were called and search teams were put together. They combed the surrounding areas for miles, looking for the deviant who did the deeds. Meanwhile, the state police went around warning the other towns about the danger…so, we have the curfew.”
“’Kill her, Mommy. Kill her!” He whispered mockingly, a sly smirk on his face.
“So, despite the warnings, this couple went to Lover’s Lane, which was also in the thick of the woods. The moon was full, the stars were twinkling in the sky, spring was in full-bloom…and R. Kelly was blaring on the radio…”
“Hey, I thought this was the 50s or 60s?” he gave her a smug look.
“70s or 80s. And just making sure you was paying attention.” She winked. “So, despite the warnings, the couple go there. Both have been anticipating this date for a week. The boyfriend wanted to have sex so bad, but the girl would not let him until that night. And having Lover’s Lane all to their lonesome seemed to be an extra prize for them.”
“That girl is such a tease.” He commented, more serious than usual.
“Wow, you really have no bias!” She retorted sarcastically. “Maybe the boyfriend was a horny pervert? That ever crossed your mind?”
“Why does it always have to be the guy?” He replied. “Women act like they have it so bad, like the world is so cruel to them-”
“For your information, we’re…” she snarled on automatic, but caught herself just in time. “What are you doing? What are we doing? This is Folklore Studies, not Women Studies…”
He took a long swallow of his beer, polishing it off. Practically slamming it on the table, he returned his toothpick to his mouth while angrily scowling at her.
“Where was I…?” She cleared her throat. The rattle of the empty Skittles bag told her there was none left. “Oh, anyway…the couple start making out right there. It’s hot and heavy…the man, with his hot breath against her neck as he unbuttoned her blouse…she’s rubbing her legs against him as their bodies connect together as hard as they can…as if melting, merging with each other -”
“Front or back?”
“Look, do I even have to answer?”
“Kid has no imagination.”
“Oh, and you do?” She tilted her head with a skeptical look.
“The roof, baby.” He nodded, a grin teasing at the corners of his mouth. “Full moon like that, pretty evening like that…definitely on the roof.”
“Funny, that I never see this ‘imagination’ you’re raving about…”
“Well…you’ve been busy lately…” He shrugged.
“Next time, I’ll hold you to it.” She said self-righteously before continuing. “Anyway…the couple finds their groove and get into it. The car has just started rocking when suddenly, a rock drops on the windshield. The girl tells her boyfriend to stop. She’s scared for a moment. But the boyfriend tells her that everything’s kosher and the car is rocking again. Then, a few minutes later, a few branches drop on the hood and windshield. The girl once again tells her boyfriend to stop and listen. They don’t hear anything for a moment, and the boyfriend’s eager to finish what he’s started-”
“Was he a Bro or a Brother?” He sarcastically scratched his chin in thought.
“Oh God, don’t tell me you’re going to make penis jokes now?” She slapped her forehead in exasperation.
“No, girl. Just asking. If he was a Brother, at that first sign of trouble, the man would have been peeling out of there like Luke Duke, no questions asked. Not all of this investigation crap. Brothers seem to be smart in most of the horror pics I’ve seen.”
“Who cares, okay? Black, white, Asian…he’s just a guy and she’s just a girl, and they just had branches drop on the car, right? Sooooo…they’re back to rocking the car again when BAMMM! A giant branch falls on the hood of the car and cracks the windshield. That’s it for our girl here…she’s had enough. The boyfriend’s pissed, like you men usually are and-”
“You’re making sexist jokes now?” He mocked her earlier similar statement, slapping his forehead and smirking at her.
“…but the girl is horrified. She thinks that there is something out there, above the car, watching them. The boyfriend says hell no. There isn’t anybody out there watching, and he’s going to go out there and prove it. The girl tries to take his keys and start the car, but her man isn’t having it. He tells her to calm down and stay put. He grabs a flashlight and slowly opens the car door-”
“Ki, ki, ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma…” He whispered, chuckling to himself.
“He steps out, his steps sounding like shotgun blasts in the silent forest. Yes, silent. No crickets. No owls. No wind. No sound. He slams the door and flicks the flashlight on, shining it in the trees. Meanwhile, the girl is upset, almost crying. She watches her boyfriend walk behind the car and disappear into the woods behind it.”
“For the record…and I’m being honest, seriously…I’m annoyed by this “damsel-in-distress” bit, man. Haven’t the girl heard of ‘Buffy’? Maybe not ‘Buffy’, but ‘Wonder Woman’? She was out back in the day, right?”
“Hold on.” She paused for a sip of her Coke. “It gets better. So, the girl is watching her boyfriend investigate the woods behind the car. She can’t see him…only his flashlight dancing off the top of the trees. The windows are getting fogged up from her breathing so hard. Then suddenly, poof…the flashlight is gone. She doesn’t see it anymore. So, she freezes. All she hears is silence. She says her boyfriend’s name…first quietly…then screams it over and over. Nothing. Not a peep.”
“Why didn’t she just crank up the car and get the hell out of town?”
“Because her man had the keys, remember?” She patted her forehead with a finger in the thinking gesture.
“Oh yeah. Forgot that fast.”
“So, she’s all alone. Quiet. Still. Unmoving. She doesn’t know how long she stays that way, but it’s a while. After a while, she comes to the inevitable conclusion: she has to do something…tell the authorities, run home, something…so, with a deep breath she slowly reaches for the door handle. She swallows, and it sounds like thunder; her heart is literally rumbling in her chest as her hand grasps that cold handle. She pulls it to her and hears a click. But the door won’t open; it always sticks. So, she leans on the door to push it open-”
“And an axe-murderer grabs her head and snatches her through the glass.” He finished in an almost sardonic tone.
“Actually…WHAMMMM!!” She smiles self-confidently as she clapped her hands, making him jump. “....something slams into the hood of the car, nearly crushing it in half!”
“Holy…” he marveled. She can tell that it was authentic.
“The girl screams so hard that she becomes hoarse.” She continued. “She then faints (and before you say anything, it was the 70s, go figure). When she comes to, she is being pulled from the car by policemen and ambulance workers and loaded on a stretcher. The workers had positioned her so that she could not immediately see the car. But the glimpses she did receive really chilled her to the bone. The car was totaled. But she wasn’t scared about that. She was scared about what was on it…”
“The body of her dead boyfriend, right?” he guessed indifferently, trying to downplay his excited reaction.
“No…it was something huge and black. Menacing. It looked like a man…but it was not a man. It was much bigger, about eight feet long…or tall, if it was standing. The only distinctive features on that…that thing was its face. The face was white, with huge oval eyes that glowed red, and a slit for a mouth. And the other thing? A huge hook. About the size of a midgit...a tall midgit.”
He was curious. “What the hell was it? The Creature from Suburbian Hell?”
“No one knew.” she answered. “And the boyfriend? Oh, he was still alive. Covered with bruises, but okay. Oh maybe not so okay. He had quite the story to tell. Later, investigators would say that it sounded as if it came straight out of a comic book, it was so fantastic…and recommended the boy to a psych ward.”
“What did he say?”
“Something about how he was in the woods checking out the trees when he was suddenly attacked by the thing. He was almost killed by it…until this strange girl showed up. He thought it was his girlfriend at first…but thank God he was wrong. He described her as about five foot tall; with very long red frizzy hair that shrouded her face in mystery…with the exception of two golden glowing eyes that seemed to pierce through her hair like steel could slice bacon. He said she wore a strange skimpy dark blue dress with an equally strange symbol on her chest…he said it was like what the superheroes had on their chests…and she had what seemed like tape on her wrists and ankles. He said the tape…was alive, and moved like snakes. He said the girl attacked the creature and they fought all over that forest until she killed that thing.”
He straightened his posture, visually entranced by her narrative. Was it because of the girl? She did not know whether to be happy for his interest or jealous at introducing competition.
“After that, she walks up to him, with that hair wavering strangely despite no wind, with her golden eyes… clear and intense… seemingly searing holes into his, and she tells him, barely a whisper but seems as loud as a thunderclap in that forest…in this husky Southern voice, ‘Cherish your woman. Or I will be back'."
It's All Jake With Me: New original Jack Cole art surfaces at auction! - Lot #93073 in Heritage Auction's 2018 May 10 - 12 Comic Art Signature Auction, featured a stunning example of Jack Cole's post-Plastic Man girlie magazine...