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Things That Go Bump in the                                              Night 

Chapter 40

       The Willard Motel sits about 2 miles outside of downtown Ardensville. As one might expect in a small town like this’ne, the Willards running the motel were kin of Irma, Celia’s landlady. All good people, don’t ever forget it.

       For the first time in longer than anyone could remember, the prefix ‘no’ was switched on so that now, the sign visible from the road said ‘no vacancy.’ No room at the inn. The space in front of the motel, which no one could call a parking lot, was full as well. 

       Here was the assorted artillery of the production crew. There were trucks for cameras and mobile video/audio recording, and trailers for make-up, and other trailers concerned with particular crews for the various competing make-over shows. 

       There were elaborate campers for the stars of the hot

programs which, when hooked up to electric and water,

likely provided nicer accommodations than the clean and 

hospitable Willard Motel provided. Additionally there

were fancy cars and passenger vans, etc etc. Again, all in 

all, a full house. Room assignments were given, cots

provided where needed, and it was pretty much 3 or 4 or

more to a room. Everyone’s greatest concern was that the

ice machine might not be up to the task. Leland stayed

at more upscale accommodations half an hour away.

       The backdrop of the motel was the backdrop to near everything in this part of the world: planting fields, far as the eye can see. On occasion, a building or a silo, a stand of trees, or some geological bump might punctuate the landscape, but please recall what was discussed about the Conquistadors navigating as if on the ocean.

       “Don’t let Fred catch’ou sleepin in yer van,” or “Sleepin in yer  Winabagel.” On and on.

       After inquiring about this Fred thing, those members of the crew who were frequenting Babby’s and/or the V.F.W. felt sure they were in rube central, and expected to be gone soon enough and before being invited to a snake handling ritual. Sure as taxes Leland would want some video of that for anthropological posterity. Corn Belt Mondo Kane. 

       On this particular night, mostly clear and bright, a sky full of stars twinkled for the attention of a crescent moon that hung over the fields as if on strings. Without T.V.’s, those folks in the crew not yet asleep watched this starry night from back porches while investigating which would give out first: intoxicants or livers.

       The silence was broken by the sound of an engine. The smoking and drinking and BillyBubba joking abruptly ceased when coming into view from the far end of a planting came a luminous and ghostly apparition. 

       Upon an old tractor rode a headless farmer. From a distance his shirt appeared bloody, a lot. Just drove right across the field, occasionally leaning left or right, looking for some lost something. His head. Fred. Ooooooh shit.

Some dropped their beers or glasses. One peed himself to similar result. They did believe in spooks. They did.

       Morris and Bo sat in the shrubbery around the road sign/vacancy/flagpole thing. 3 chucks were with them, Sybil, Davy and Doug.

       “Ain’t our faces supposed to be blacked out or maybe ski masks or something like that?”

       Morris stared blankly at Bo, 2 seconds that seemed like a competency hearing.

       “Maybe this is why Democracy don’t work right.”

       When the sound of the tractor could be heard, Morris slipped out of the shrubs silently, invisible, crawled like a lizard, flipped onto his back and disappeared under the most critical of the production vehicles. The one with the camera and mics and mixing and video equipment. With a small flashlight between his teeth and the right tool from out of his utility belt, Morris un-did 4 bolts that removed a 6” plate allowing access to the interior of the ‘command center.’ He turned off his light and returned as he came to the shrubs.

       “You‘re up champ. You sure your chucks can get this done?” Morris asked with some faith in the chucks but concern about Bo.

       “We been practicin’. Watch this.” In a pretty good impersonation of Morris’s stealth, Bo slithered under the truck. The chucks thought this new behavior unusual but followed along curious and game. Once under the truck, Bo grabbed the first chuck available and stuffed him through the opening.

       The other 2 followed. How the chucks came to

understand it was their mission to trash the control booth...who knows? Never seen the likes of it. Maybe Bo convinced them that all those critical coaxial cables were little snakes. I don’t know, but trash they did. The peeing and’a pooping was a nice touch, but the real damage was done with just good ole’ fashion gnawing, you betcha.

       Some fainted. Some ran into their rooms and dove under the beds for fear that Fred would find them and have their head. The weeping, begging, and oaths of sobriety and piety woke some of the others, but headless Penny and the glowing tractor were long gone.

       “Maybe this ‘Headless Fred’ costume could be featured in a Christmas pageant or something?” but she could not figure out how for laughing so hard. With tracks covered and evidence erased, the scoundrels headed back to the VFW for a night cap. How great was that? And the chucks got pretzels and beer.

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