TALE FIVE
Do Werewolves Get Mange

     "Hey Benson, don't you like the flick?"
     That was Vince calling me and his question didn't dignify an answer.  "No I do not like the flick."
 As a result, Vince changed the channel, unfortunately to nothing any better.
     "Cool, ZETV is playing Them! Its a classic fifties flick."
     "Big deal, giant ants. All they needed was a huge magnifying glass."
     "Cool, it's just getting started."
     "Why ants?  Why not something scary like giant wasps.  Big stingers totally impailing people, nubile women and annoying children getting sealed in nests to feed their larva.  Now that would have been interesting."
    Again, Vince changes the channel.  Hozehead has a one track mind but an eight track attention span.  "Okay Benson, check this film out.  A huge praying mantis' is stomping through the nations capital, smashing icons of America, thereby stirring national fury."
    The strobing effect of the channels being changed was altering my brain waves, forcing me to converse with Vince on his level.  "You ever wonder why they didn't just drop a damn nuke on the monster.  I mean these freaks of nature always attacked these desert towns where next to nobody live.  How hard would it have been to tell Joe Bob, the grocery store owner and the other three citizens of Tiny-Little-Speck-On-The-Map, Arizona to get the hell out so the B-52's can dump a five megaton nuke on he ant/mantis/spider."
    The Professor chuckled at that one.  "Do you mean to tell me that a person such as you doesn't get into blood and death films. It is your kind of intellectual that invented this genre."
    That was a cheap shot equating me with movie dudes.  "No Aarron, it's not the blood, death or senseless violence, it's the story.  I hate these cheesy man-beast films.  I love zombie films, and ghost stories and even vampire films but these . . . these "by day a mild mannered accountant but by night when the moon is full, a ravenous wolf-dude" flicks suck.  The transformation scenes suck, and in the end it is some supposed remaining shred of humanity that turns its evil away.  It's bullshit."
    "Ah Mister Benson, you have seen the light of the whole subject."  The Professor whipped his attention around to Hozler.  "Vince, turn it to channel five so we can learn a little about American cold war propaganda."
    The first shot had been fired.
    "Where do you come up with that stuff Aarron, although I can't complain.  You give me enough material to write an award-winning book."
    The Professor held up his thumb and index finger, an inch space between the two.  "So close to a Pulitzer, if only they didn't check for spelling, grammer, and originality.  Get realistic, you work for a newspaper!  Don't you know that the print media is dead.  The world is riding the information highway, ever hear of it?"
    "Laugh now Aarron, you see if I help you when your microchips burn out and your modems explode.  You'll be crying to the heavens for salvation and I'll be reporting it, using my trusty Smith Corona and some white-out."
    "You better hope nothing breaks on it.  They stopped making parts for those antiques in 1977."
    "Okay Mister Benson, you're the writer.  Tell me the great conflicts that form the foundation of all literature."
    "Easy one; Man verses man, man verses himself, man verses machine, man verses nature and man verses beast.  All monster movies represent the last one."
    "Wrong!"
    "I'm telling you Aarron, I'm right, I did take a few college classes."
    "I mean wrong about the fact that all monster movies represent man fighting a beast."
    Vince snapped back. "Well that huge ant that just attacked that chick sure doesn't look like the boy next door."
    "When were these films made?"
    We all knew the answer.  "The fifties."
    "Correct, and what was going on during the fifties other than crappy music signaling the doom of the big band?"
    "Hula hoops."
    "Bigger."
    "Post-war economic boom."
    "Bigger."
    "Bad haircuts."
    "The two of you are complete pinheads.  The Red Scare."

    I knew that, but I didn't see the direction the Professor was heading.
    "The basic premis of the monster flick of that time was based on some seemingly unbeatable monster attacking the core of American values.  Yet somehow, Joe Everyman is able to overcome this juggernaut of doom to keep the United States of by God America free.  The whole damn thing smacks of the big, red Commie menace that looks like it cannot be beaten but the ever vigilant patriot, because of his American values, will be able to defeat this menace."
    "You're stoned Aarron."
    "And you apparently cannot carry on a conversation on the intricate subtleties of politics so I will get right to the point of this whole attention to the pablumatic media that we are currently attentive to.  You hate wherewolf flicks because they look so fake.  Yet you've seen zombies and vampires for real.  Why is it that you cannot believe that lycanthropes exist?"
    TRAP!  I could feel it with every fiber in my body.  If I say they don't exist then Graves will take me on some stupid and painful adventure.  On the other hand if I was to say yes, maybe he would drop the whole thing.
    "Sure they exist, it's just that the movies have done extremely poor representations of them, even An American Werewolf in London followed the same old stereotype, however entertaining the script was."
    Aarron turned to Vince and it was obvious that my little ploy didn't work.  "Did you hear that Hozehead?  After all of the years that I have been trying to convince you, a respected educator, Benson here hits the nail right on the head, metaphorically speaking."
    "Be quiet Aarron, Rat Boy is going to rip out the throat of that chick who has been screaming during the entire film."
    Returning his gaze to me I saw that look.  I hate that look because it means only one thing.  It means a stupid question like; "Yes, but does the ASPCA require them to be licensed" or the ever popular "Will a Hartz two-in-one collar repel them."
    "The question is, do werewolves get mange and are their vets werewolves too?"
    See.  Now it was fact check time.  I knew it was going to be painful because he pulled out three respected big books.  The highly regarded Dr. Hal's Book of Spooky Movie Topics Based on Facts was first.  Next was Achmed Farouk's So You Don't Believe in the Bogeyman, best seller in Belize for seventeen years.  Finally, and the one that truly worried me The Encyclopedia Britannica Micropaedia Volume 12.  The first two I would have disregarded like a Time-Life Book but you don't question Britannica, if it is there, it is the law.
    The moment Vince heard hefty volumes of bound script being moved he jumped out of the Atomolounger and joined Aarron and I.  The Professor slammed the book on the desk and flipped to the exact page he needed.
    "Cool! Lon Chaney, Jr."
    "Read the meager two paragraphs gentlemen."
    We did, and needless to say, only Britannica could fit that much data into such a small space."
    "What's your gig with Britannica Benson, did they pay you to mention them in your book?"
    "Please Aarron, I'm a writer and would never compromise my integrity to make a few extra dollars.  It is true that I own six sets and am still paying off the latest 32 volumes.  But I would never expect them to say "hey, he's a frequent buyer and mentions us whenever he can, lets call it even and kill off the balance."  Of course the only time they even look at my account number is to see if my payment was more than a day late so their lackeys at 425 Acceptance . . . "
    "Benson!"
    "Sorry Aarron."
    "So what did you two gather from the entry, Vince?"
    "Everything the movies say, full moon, victims that survive turn into werewolves.  What is your point?"
    "Benson?"
    "The belief is linked to a psychiatric condition.  The French, like everything else they do, overreacted and killed a lot of people over the subject . . . no wonder everyone hates them.  Oh, and that part about dead werewolves becoming vampires disturbs me."
    "Anything else seeing that at the moment you have more of an analytical mind than Vince."
    "It seems that countries all over the world maintain this belief, if not in the form of wolves then bears, cats, and even rats."
    "I knew it, Rat Boy is no joke!"
    Ignoring Vince, the Professor continued speaking to me.  "Good Benson, I'm mildly impressed.  The superstition of humans assuming the form of animals exists all across the planet.  These men always take the form of what is feared the most by the people.  There are Weretigers in India, Werebears in Russia and Werewombats in Australia.  The belief dates to B.C., that's before Catholics.  One of the few fear inducers not created by the church to keep the faithful in line."
    "Please Aarron, no anti-religious tantrums, it's too early in the day for it."
    "Have no fear Benson, like I said this is a topic beyond religion.  The Algonquin Indians are best known for this belief in America, commonly called Wiitiko psychosis.  What we are interested in is the little known and lesser studied Tribe of Doug, or in their tongue, Tribe of the man."
    "Who?"
    "Precisely," said Graves as he grabbed the remote control. Pressing a button the TV changed to CNN Headline News.
    "Hey man, Rat Boy was about to gut that guy.  Where is your sense of respect for the visual art?"
    "Pay attention and you will find that reality is more entertaining."

    "Welcome to CNN Headline News, I'm Don Harrison.  Topping off this half hour, police in Las Vegas have announced the discovery of another grisly murder in the Sunrise Mountain area.  Police Chief Ed Strickland, in a televised news conference, stated that the unidentified female body had been mutilated beyond recognition. From Las Vegas, Judy Carbunkle."
    "Thank you Don, forensic specialists and members of the Nevada Fish and Game Commission speculate that these killings were most likely committed by a large feral animal.  Sightings of mountain lions, wolves and packs of wild dogs are common in the region but never so close to populated areas.  With the total dead at 23, mother nature is once again proving that she is still a mean bitch."

    "How's that for ERA."
    "Vince, don't try and confuse the subject.  You know, you are acting very un-Vince-like today, what is wrong LSD flashback or reversion to childhood."
    Hozler's hair fizzed and Vince tilted his head.  "Both.  LSD flashback from my childhood."
    Graves didn't bother to respond.  Unfortunately he directed his attention to me.  "Okay Benson, here's a chance to get a gold star on your report card.  What is the correlation with what we have been talking about and that news broadcast?"
    I was confused over this situation.  Rarely does Graves ask me for my opinion and I was eager to show him that I wasn't as stupid as I look.  The dilemma was two-fold.  1] Say I get the question wrong, does he decapitate me?  2] Say I get the question right, does he decapitate me?  "A werewolf is doing the killing."
    The Professor took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes.  "Close Mister Benson, I'll split the difference with you and give you a smiley face with exclamation points for eyes."  He then moved to the cabinet that housed the hyper-mega, trans-universal radio and grabbed the microphone.  Flicking three toggle switches he spoke.  "Meet me at my private condo in Las Vegas . . . and bring your flea spray."

DOCTOR EARNEST ITCHYFINGER

    Henry!  did I hear that pager correctly, did Graves say Vegas, as in Las "Wayne Newton and Robert Goulett in the same night" Vegas."
    "Yes, I believe so."
    "Did he allude to what he might need me there for?"
    "The only thing mentioned was the recommendation to bring flea spray."
    "That's a strange one.  None of my experiments have escaped recently.  Could it be that Aarron has had a tiny piece of humanity creep into his life and he has gotten a kitty cat, or even a lovable puppy."
    "Doubtful sir, it is against the law to domestically own a jaguar or white wolf.  Plus they are a bitch to get house broken. His leather chair wouldn't stand a chance."
    "Right, what was I thinking.  Well, pack my bags and don't forget to clean out my back account and have it changed into nickels.  I just love those slots."

MISS MERCEDES CHANCE

    "Good one (click) now turn and smile, good (click), beautiful. Pout honey, pout, yeah (click) that's it (click).
    BEEP! BEEP!
    "Hey (click), what was that noise?"
    "That was just my (BEEP! BEEP!) pager, looks like I've got to cut this (BEEP! BEEP!) session short Michael."
    "You've got to be (click) kidding Mercedes, they need this (click) spread in the next (click) issue of Sassy and Pissed like A - S - A- (click) P."
    "Sorry Mike, but when this (BEEP! BEEP!) thing goes off, I'm obligated to (BEEP! BEEP!) heed its summons."
    BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
    "For Christ sakes Aarron I get the damn hint, just lay off with the beeping!"
    CRUNCH!
    "Are you obligated to pay for smashing it?"

DOUG PRAIRIE DOG

    "Prairie Dog, your beeper is speaking.  Is it strange white man Graves again.  Been many moons since he visit the people of the man.  I Limping Chipmunk say that Graves is bad medicine."
    "Come on pop, stop talking in that stereotype voice.  It's both degrading and annoying.  You speak seven languages and have a masters degree in Asian studies."
    "Hey, I have to keep in practice for the tourists.  They all think we just get drunk and play bingo.  If we let them think otherwise, the government assistance will be cut off.  I can't let that happen to my people.  What does he want?"
    "He's coming here and wants me to meet him at his condo.  He also said to keep some flea powder handy.  I think he is interested in Doug Butter Knife."
    "Like I said son, bad medicine."

    Minutes later we were on the road to Las Vegas and in a way I was excited.  Vegas was where I called home, though I wasn't born there.  Of course the majority of the states inhabitants were born somewhere else so who gives a crap.  Did you say on the road?
    Yes, I said on the road, as in driving.  Now the road atlas says the drive from San Diego to Las Vegas takes about six or so hours, going at the legal speed limit.  Of course Triple A knows that only about 23 point seven percent of all drivers actually drive at the speed limit so they would probably alter that estimate to five or so hours.  Of course Graves knows that Triple A and their insurance company lackeys are all idiots and says that most competent drivers can do the trip in four hours at seventy, which is a safe speed.  We were there in two and a half, you do the math.
    Vegas had changed and I was nervous about it.  There was a Wet and Wild next to the El Rancho, now there would be full blown families wandering around with their fun books.  This was bad but then, as we drove down the strip, I saw that they had torn down the Silver Slipper.  Land grabbing bastards, don't they know that the slipper on the Slipper was used in that flick The Amazing Colossal Man, it was a landmark.  What else could they do to destroy everything I hold dear; tear down the Castaways, forever ending the great late night movie show with that referee guy and those sport book commercials that said . . ."
    "The Castaways has balls, bet on it."
    "Right. How did you know Vince?"
    "I visited Vegas a couple years back and watched that gig.  It all came back to me when I saw that they had torn the place down."
    AAAHHH!!!

    "Get a paper bag, he's hyperventilating."
    "It's better than that period of no breathing, I thought he was in a coma."
    "What's his problem?"
    "Steve Wynn."
    "Oh, the Silver Slipper/Castaways buyout and bulldozing to make room for the Mirage deal.  A lot of locals were hurt over that one.  I myself will miss the Night Owl Specials."
    I was recovering, but not in any part due to the ministrations of the three doctorate holders.  Itchyfinger wasn't a real doctor, his degree was in biology and particle physics.  Graves' doctorate was in history and you know how historians look at illness.  Miss Chance, the only one close enough to capable of rendering first aid had arrived just as I was recovering.
    "AAAHHH!  Who is the Indian dude?"
    "Excellent observation Mister Benson, Being very pale skinned and wearing a conservative outfit, I am having trouble understanding how you were able to figure out Doug's race."
    "Turquoise necklace Graves, dead giveaway."
    "Right.  Well get up, we've got plenty to do and a short time to do it in.  Doug says that there will be another death quite soon and we might be able to stop it."
    The Indian dude shook my hand.  "Hello Mister Benson, I am Doug Prairie Dog, son of the chief of the Tribe of Doug.  We are going to the reservation to talk to the Shaman, Doug Tasty Brew.  He will be able to fill you in on the troubles we've been having with Doug Butter Knife."
    I let out a small giggle.  "I am sorry Mister Prairie Dog but where the hell did your people come up with these names.  I admit, yours is quite normal sounding for an Indian name but Tasty Brew, Butter Knife . . . what's the deal?"
    "And why does everyone have the first name of Doug?"
    "Thanks Vince, I almost forgot that one."
    "Ask my father Limping Chipmunk, he is the chief."
    It was quite a test to hold in my snicker, but I was able to do it.  This was a good thing considering that we didn't hang around Graves' condo much longer.  Once again we were on the road, headed strait into the desert.  I was worried at first, considering my reaction to Doug's name.  I felt he was just going to drive for a couple of hours, then dump us.  Fortunately we were headed for the reservation.

    The reception was not the most cordial that could be expected, even from native Americans who had had their homes taken from them, their families killed and raped, and terribly typecasted roles developed for them.  Now I'm not saying that they were waiting for us with shotguns and snarling dogs, but they weren't trying to sell us anything . . . this unnerved me.
    "We don't get much tourist business here, people don't want to see Indians who wear suits.  They want to see feathers and tomahawks and frantic dancing around campfires.  John Wayne and his genre of film really piss me off on how they depict native Americans."
    "Understood, I can't stand John Wayne myself . . . the man could not act."
    Vince and I were tempted to jump in defense of the Duke but considering that these people didn't have tomahawks lying around, our minds thought about what they might have around.
    While Aarron and Doug (Prairie Dog) went into a building to find Doug (Tasty Brew), I asked Vince a question that had been festering in my brain.  "What is Doug an expert in, I know he has to have a specialty.  I mean Chaquita looks like a bean picker from Peru but is actually a Cartographer.  Chen reminds me of some kooky kung fu movie extra but he's a scientific genius type.  Hell, you look like a lifeguard whose CPR qualification has expired but you teach Archeology.  What's Doug's degree in; architecture, neurosurgery, astrophysics?"
    "Hotel management."
    "Huh?"
    "Well he was also a night manager at a Taco bell on Charleston Avenue.  Of course he got fired for that little Pinto's and Cheese fertility ritual . . . it made all of the papers, even USA Today. Didn't you know that?  That was how Graves found out about him.  Now he's sort of a business troubleshooter.  He goes to Graves' various holdings and tears them apart.  He looks for fraud, bad business practices, political correctness."
    "Hold on Vince, Aarron doesn't care if he's politically correct."
    "Right.  He sends Doug to make sure of it.  Say it suddenly becomes politically incorrect to wear leather goods, Doug will report it to Aarron.  The Professor would then immediately sell off all of the silk products and start killing cows in large numbers for their hides.  That is partly the reason he is so damn rich."
    "What about those blood throwing anti-fur nuts and their damn annoying pictures of baby white seals?"
    "He owns fifteen shops . . ."
    Mercedes smiled slightly.  "And the last person that threw blood on Aarron still isn't out of the hospital."
    "Cool, I guess there are some things Aarron does that don't annoy . . ."
    "Benson!"
    But there are still many things that do."
    "You and the others get in here.  The shaman and the chief have called a meeting and for some reason all of you are required to be here."
    None of us bothered to rebut.  I'm sure the others didn't because of the years of experience in dealing with Graves.  On the other hand, I didn't respond because I couldn't think of anything witty to say . . . or at least anything that wouldn't offend the Indian types around us."

    There was a slight air of excitement swirling around me.  I was in a dimly lit smoke-filled room that had a blazing fire in the center of it.  There were five old Indian dudes sitting around it smoking pipes that I hoped contained something other than tobacco.  It was like a really good episode of F-Troop and all that remained was for Larry Storch to come out of nowhere.
    All hail Larry Storch.
    "Sit down next to Doug Magic Fingers, the smoky wisdom scene is about to start."
    Magic Fingers?  I wasn't going to ask.
    "We, the elders of the tribe of Doug have foreseen the events that have already occurred."
    [WHISPER-LIKE VOICE IN MY HEAD]  "Yeah, so you have CNN, big deal."
    "Furthermore, we have seen the events that will happen.  The grisly Sunrise Mountain slayings are seen by us."
    [MUFFLED WHISPER ONLY AUDIBLE IF YOUR EAR WAS PRESSED TO MY LIPS] "Yep.  One of our people is the killer, and we know who it is."
    "We know of all of this because the beast responsible for these killings was once a member of our tribe."
    [SURPRISED SPOKEN-WHILE-TAKING-IN-A-BREATH WHISPER THAT THE GUY NEXT TO ME PROBABLY HEARD]  "Damn.  Of course now you're going to tell us you are going to help us kill him."
    "It is because we know of him and his ways that we are going to help you kill him."
    [IT WAS SORT OF A . . . WELL ACTUALLY IT WAS MORE OF A . . . NO, THAT REALLY DOESN'T DESCRIBE IT . . . UH HOW WOULD I . . . OH SCREW IT]  "NO WAY!"
    "Benson!  What is your problem?  Are you stoned?"
    Love those quaint native American rituals.
    "The name of the killer is Doug Butter Knife.  He was once a junior shaman here, but he was filled with anger and desire.  Well you can imagine the rest.  Just like any cheesy film, his desires caused him to fall out of favor with both his peers and me, Doug Tasty Brew, his teacher.  He became obsessed and erratic, and just like in the movies he found a way to achieve his desires, but at a great cost to his humanity."
    "What Doug is trying to say about Doug is that his pupil was playing with the potions and herbs and got himself turned into a wolfman.  The boy was always a schmuck Tasty Brew, he was terrible at accounting, he couldn't write a complete sentence to save his butt, and he slept in Algebra class all of the time."
    "Chief Limping Chipmunk is right.  We thought by letting you teach the boy, he would straiten out.  Of course we should have known it wouldn't work after he blew up Doug Vinyl Slipcover with that "love potion" he made."
    "Now let's be fair, it worked.  By killing off Doug he was able to go out with Lisa 1965.  Besides, he was real good at making turquoise jewelry."
    "A fine skill . . . if you're Navajo.  His father, Doug Grass Clippings, was a specialist in gas turbine propulsion for McDonall Douglas.  His grandfather, Doug Lint Trap, was a physicist who helped with developing the first atom bomb.  Selling cheap touristy junk and calling good Vodka "firewater" is not why he wears the name Doug.  Oh and you might remember that Lisa 1965 was his first victim."
    I was unable to hold the questions back any longer.  "Excuse me, but I have three questions.  Ironically they all relate to the same subject; your names.  Question One, what is this fixation with the name Doug?  Question two, where do you come up with names like Lint Trap, Tasty Brew, or Butter Knife . . . too much mystic "tobacco."  Question three, what the hell kind of name is Lisa 1965, it sounds like a wine vintage?"
    The place was real quiet-like and I closed my eyes.  I was expecting them to all kill me on sight.  I had accepted my fate because I couldn't stand listening to the esteemed members of the Nevada Nutbag tribe (Local 64).  They made the hokey-chunky-whatever-the-hell-their-name-was tribe from F-Troop look like subjects of a PBS documentary.  Unfortunately the silence remained, and this was not what I had bargained for.  You see, I could deal with being scalped alive because I knew that in the end, at least I would be a war trophy or something.  But in the silence I knew that the Indian dudes were not going to kill me.  This might sound great, but that meant that my fate was left in Graves' hand.  Take my advice, if you are ever presented those options . . . take the tomahawk to the head."
    Graves moved up real close to my ear.  "Benson, write this chapter like all of the others.  Follow along blindly, ad-libbing to the events as you go, experience something new and save the questions for the last page or so.  Good habits are formed early. Now that's not to say I am trying to force you to not speak your piece, but remember, I do have a tomahawk in the trunk of the car."
    "Where do we start looking for Mister Doug Butter Knife?"
    "Valley Auto Upholstery."
    362-1990!
    It was sort of karmic that the entire room was responsible for the previous phone number.  Oh, FYI, the area code for Nevada is 702 but don't try calling the number, as of the publishing of this book, the number has been disconnected . . . another icon destroyed.

    We were back on the road and headed again for Las Vegas.  Chen and Doug Tasty Brew had spent a few minutes in a pseudo-lab working on some potion that they said would help us kill Doug Butter Knife. None of the tribal dudes would come along, saying that they had some stupid rule that said they cannot intentionally take the life of a son of Doug.  Doug Prairie Dog came along as an advisor, but it was agreed by Graves that he would do no man-beast slaying.
    I was pondering everything that had been said at the campfire rap session, and a single question was rolling around in my head like a ball bearing in a jar.  "Where the hell are we going Aarron? During the whole talk we had with Doug Tasty Brew, the only place even mentioned was Valley Auto Upholstery.  Now you can't mean to say we will find this psycho wolf-man Butter Knife at a auto detailing shop."
    "Here we are.  Mercedes, I recommend that you get that Remmington Storm Gun ready . . . and don't forget the silver bullets."
    We were all very cautious in getting out of the car.  Now I can't speak for Graves or any of the others, but I was beginning to feel afraid.  This happens often whenever I am around Graves, but I have never gotten used to it.  "Can't we just call the dog catcher or something, I mean we aren't expert animal handlers.  I've got an idea.  We are in Vegas, lets call Sigfried and Roy.  You know, the dudes who do that magic show with the tigers.  I'm sure they would know what to do."
    "Shut up Benson, you are aware that members of the canine family have an excellent sense of hearing.  Your rambling might just give us away."
    "Yeah right."
    WOOF.
    "Pretty funny Vince, you had me there for a minute."
    "What are you talking about Benson, that wasn't me."
    Damn.
    "Make no quick moves, and have the blonde drop the gun.  I am right behind you and poised to rip out at least two throats."
    Surprisingly, Mercedes put down the gun and we all stayed very still-like.  Unfortunately, since we were with Graves, this didn't last very long.
    The Professor turned to face our captor.  "So, the dreaded Wolf-Dude of Spring Mountain . . . I'm not very impressed. Everybody turn around and face the big bad lycanthrope that you have all been worried about."
    Oh man, this wasn't going to be pretty.  "Hey! You look like a pencilneck data processor with a bunch of animal skins on.  Oh, by the way, that's an awful big knife. Try not to trip and fall, you might hurt yourself."
    Has something ever been so totally funny that you couldn't make your body laugh, no matter how hard you tried.  Well this was one of those moments.  No matter how much I thought about mutilated humans and painful death, I couldn't place the vision with this guy.  Sure he was a man beast, a were-being . . . a were-weasel.
    "You don't get it Benson.  This person, Mister Doug Butter Knife, is most certainly responsible for the gruesome murders in the region.  It is just apparent that he is not a lycanthrope but rather a meager psycho serial killer, barely worthy of any attention.  He's just another disgruntled Indian from an obscure tribe."
    This seemed to bother Doug (Butter Knife that is).  "Don't mention me in the same breath as that insane asylum masquerading as a reservation, I'll have nothing to do with them.  And don't call me Doug Butter Knife . . . I am now Crazy Knife . . . I even have legal documents to confirm my name change."
    The Professor removed his glasses and began cleaning the dust off with a handkerchief.  "Can't you see it, he's suffering from mental troubles."
    "Yeah, serial killers usually do," said Mercedes.
    The knife wielding schmuck interrupted.  "Enough talk, now that you know my identity, you must all die.  I'm sorry but those are the rules."
    "Well you are correct about one thing, the time for talk is over . . . Mercedes, disarm this punk."
    Murderer or not, he was no match for Mercedes.  Most psycho killers feed off of fear and usually cheese out when someone stands up to them.  Of course there are certain exceptions, so if any of you Chuck Manson types happen to be reading this book, I was using a well practiced literary technique called creative license.
    "Aarron, you don't have that "we're finished, lets bail" look. Please tell me it is because you simply forgot, because if you say something like . . . "
    "Look behind you Vince."
    "Yeah, that's a good example."
    I looked, and my stomach did one of those funny flips that you wouldn't think possible from an internal organ.  There was a large, misty, man-like form behind Vince with extremely sharp looking claws and teeth.  "Don't turn around Vince, no sense in seeing what it is since I'm sure even your imagination couldn't even conjure this one up."
    "Greetings evil spirit, I am Professor Aarron Graves Ph.D.. How do you like to be addressed, Wiitiko, Windigo, or etherial scumbag?"
    "It is apparent that you are not as easily swayed by superstition Mister Graves.  As for you my simpleton pawn, now that you are known, your period of usefulness is over."  The ethereal shape of the Windigo solidified and his huge claws sliced Doug Butter Knife into small but messy pieces."
    "Boy that had to hurt."
    "Yes it probably did.  Of course you all will be able to experience this feeling firsthand for you are next on the list.  You see, I've had just about enough of lying around in the mists of mythology waiting for someone to conjure me up.  I'm going to kill for quite a long time."
    The Professor sucked air through his teeth and began digging around in his jacket pockets.  "You see, that is where you are wrong.  The days of spooky beasts, evil spirits and disco are long gone.  Nobody believes in them any more, and without belief there is no fear.  Without fear you are nothing more than an ugly shade. All of the native American tribes are dwindling in numbers, and most of them don't even believe the stories told them by their relatives."
    The monster laughed a bit.  "Just because the tribes of nature are vanishing doesn't mean that there aren't believers Mister Graves.  There are crazy killers all over this planet who would do my bidding."
    The Professor produced the potion vial that Chen and the Shaman had made.  "This whole conversation is pointless because your time is nearly at an end.  Meet your old foe Tcikapis." With that, Graves shattered the vial on the ground.
    When nothing happened I wanted to both laugh and cry.  I wanted to laugh because, for once, Graves was wrong.  Of course I'm sure you can understand why I wanted to cry.  "I hate you Aarron! You're always pulling this kind of stuff.  First you piss off the bad guy and threaten to destroy him.  Then this method of destruction falls flat on its face."
    "Before you have a seizure, remember what else always happens?"
    BAAMMFF!!
    "Well if it isn't old Frank Windigo."
    I knew that there was a second spirit amongst us after the previous sentence of words were spoken.  The positive angles to that statement were many.  First off, he looked like a normal person, for a mythical spirit that is.  Next, I was impressed by the fact that he looked very young and carried a glowing silver tomahawk.  Finally, he looked as if he was on our side.
    "Ed, stay out of this you goody-two-moccasins, I tricked that poor fool fair and square.  If you want to push me, I'll take it to the tribal counsel on mythical doings."
    I spoke first, and regretted it the moment I did.  "Come on Tcikapis, kick this Krueger wanna-be's butt.  He's a wimp with no real courage, preying on innocent people."
    Tcikapis turned to face me, and I was worried that I might have pissed him off or something.  Now that I look back upon it, I wish it had been that simple.  "I'm sorry paleface but rules are rules.  He legally bent the dead Doug towards his will.  These laws have bound us since the dawn of time and I can't violate them, that is the balance of nature."  He then bent down and gave me the silver tomahawk.  "Of course there are a few loopholes.  Take this weapon and use it to send Frank back to the ether since you seem to be worthy of wielding it."
    "But I'm not very . . ."
    BAAMMFF!!
    Oh man, I hate it when that happens.
    "So pencilnecked human, what were you saying about wimp with no real courage."  Then he clinked his claws together in a very menacing way.  "You've got the magical Tomahawk of Tcikapis, why don't you do something about it?"
    I looked to the group for some useful piece of advice.  Maybe some moral support, or at least some fire support from Miss Chance's big gun.  Vince and Doug Prairie Dog looked sympathetic.  I looked at Aarron for help . . . this was stupid.
    "Well Benson, you opened your mouth, back up your words."
    "Thanks Aarron, always so full of encouragement.  I just . . ."
    "Come on mortal, make your move."
    "Hold on, I'm not through with Professor Graves yet.  How come every time I go on one of your little adventures, my life is always being threatened?  Tell me that."
    "It's been your decision to come along ever since we first met."
    "Enough talk humans, get on with the fight!"
    "Shut up man, I'm not finished!  How do you attract all of the planets freaks of nature, monsters, mythological beings and things from Dimension . . . "
    "Stop stalling mortal."
    That tore it, I hate people who interrupt me.  I turned on Mister Windigo not thinking about his ability to shred me.  "I said shut up!"  It was then that the enchanted hatchet sort of flew out of my hands and into the forehead of the evil spirit."
    "He shoots, he scores," shouted Hozler!
    "Oopps.  Sorry."
    In retrospect, I doubt that he heard me no less gave a crap that I felt guilty over splitting his hairline.  Of course his final words before he vanished into the mists of legend bothered me a great deal and are often the source of nasty dreams.  "Benson. I won't forget that name."
    The Professor came over to me and patted me on the back.  "A slightly above average performance Mister Benson, I guess you'll get that gold star after all.  Lets go back to my condo and clean up the plot line."
    Just what I was thinking.

    Graves was sitting in an extremely comfortable chair smoking a pipe.  "Okay Mister Benson, I know you are having a hard time holding in your questions."
    "First off, what was the deal with that stupid potion.  How is it Chen knew what he was doing?"
    Graves pointed at Nagasaki to field that one.  "I didn't.  I believe you missed the whole point.  I could have put water in that vial and it wouldn't have made a difference.  It was a placebo, an object of foci.  By saying that it would help us defeat the beast, it caused everyone to place faith in something extraordinary, like mythical Indian spirits.  Besides, science does not mix with myth and magic.  They are diametrically opposed in their function."
    Graves continued.  "If I had said we would have to have faith in a legendary spirit, the others might have had enough faith in my wisdom to believe.  You on the other hand doubt everything until it tries to kill you.  Faith requires that one stop thinking in a rational sense and ceasing the asking of questions.  You never stop asking questions so something had to be done about you to summon Tcikapis.  I thought about simply killing you, but Chen came up with the potion idea."
    I was starting to pick up on the theory. "Is that why the Tomahawk worked, because I wasn't thinking when I threw it?"
    The Professor nodded in agreement.  "Though I still can't figure out how you didn't miss."
 Vince jumped in with a question of his own.  "Okay, I've grasped the fact that Doug Butter Knife summoned the Windigo and why he took on the persona of a werewolf.  What I can't figure out is why would he just go nuts and start killing people, I mean there has to be a reason."
    Miss Chance fielded that one.  "Didn't you get the whole hate of the tribe gig.  He rejected the Tribe of Doug because of their non-Indian way of life.  He wanted to weave baskets and make crappy turquoise jewelry.  He didn't want to be an accountant, or a research technician.  He was treated as an outcast because of his desire to be like the majority of existing American Indians.  He wanted to do something anti-conformist.  Sure he could have gone left-wing and become a member of Greenpeace but instead he chose the closest thing . . . serial killing."
    "Okay, okay, forget all of that, let's get to the really important stuff.  Now I've grasped the deal with their surnames, probably something to do with all being children of Doug and assuming his name out of respect.  I've also figured out the reason they came up with hosed up names, just another way to avoid that Running Bull/Rippling Water scene.  What I want to know Doug, and no offense to you, what is the gig with the Lisa 1965 thing?"
    "You were right when you stated that it was like a vintage.  As you noticed, our tribe is not a very big one, it never was. Tribal legend states that Doug, the first Doug, took a wife named Lisa.  From then on, all of the women were named Lisa and as sexist as it seems by today’s standards they, were named for the year that they were born.  The only exception to this rule was if members of the tribe took a squaw, then the woman was named Betty."
    The Professor jingled the keys in his hand.  "Enough questions ladies and gentlemen, we have bigger and better things to deal with.  I say this because I've discovered that . . . .



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