The Magic and Marvel of Monsters

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Magic and Marvel of Monsters

The monster was the best friend I ever had.” -Boris Karloff

Melvin the Magnificent was tired of being on the road.  His RV was beginning to smell too much like the rabbit cages he had stashed underneath his folding bed, and the highway’s rest stop signs were getting further and further apart.  The wilderness of New Hampshire was certainly nice to look at in the day, but the darkness blotted out all of the natural wonder and filled Melvin’s windshield with somber blackness.

He pulled off the interstate and parked in the nearest lot that was big enough to house his vehicle without being an inconvenience.  Melvin turned off the ignition, undid his seatbelt, and secured the brake.  Opening the door as wide as he could, Melvin stepped out the driver’s side and stretched his tired limbs.  He pulled his arms over his head and reached up for the clear sky that was lit almost entirely by the countless stars above.  Melvin made his living off of the notion that there was more in the world than one could see with the human eye.  Standing alone in the dark, hearing the leaves rustle, he suddenly felt quite exposed.

Melvin pulled the rabbit’s foot keychain and ignition key from the steering column, fetched his hat and cape, and locked the RV’s door.  He adjusted his twirled moustache in the rear-view mirror and made sure his cape and top hat were sitting “just so” on him.  He had an appearance to maintain.  It was bad enough that he left his cane in the back of the vehicle, but he doubted that anyone in the establishment would mind.  Once again he heard something in the bushes; a rustling.  Melvin tucked the key away in his pocket and walked briskly towards the closest building.

The only business that was open was the neighborhood pub.  As Melvin walked past the ten cars in the parking lot, the glow from the neon signs began to light up his white tuxedo shirt and red bow-tie.  He reached for the door handle, gave it a tug, and took in the scenery.  The building must have been at least a hundred years old, with patrons to match.  The wood floors were stained and splintering, the exposed beams gave off an impressive air of stability, and the codgers sitting around the bar were hunched on their stools.  A few good ol’ boys looked towards Melvin, but most were content to share their hunting stories or talk about their sainted wife hat had passed twenty or more years ago.  Melvin immediately felt out of place in his show attire and doffed his hat as he ordered a beer.

The bartender gave Melvin a look.  To his credit the man seemed to have dismissed any judgments about the performer by the time he handed Melvin the beer.  The bartender acted in a manner that said, “You don’t cause a stir, I won’t give a dang.”

Melvin thanked him for the beer and lifted the glass container to his mouth.  The air in the RV had been hot and dry, even with the air conditioner on.  The combination of the cold beer, the rickety fans above that wobbled with each circling of the wood blades, and the absent sun in the evening sky all made for a rather pleasant change in temperature.  Melvin couldn’t see himself getting up and leaving this well-worn leather seat for anything.  He had bellied up to the bar and planned to camp out there until he was sure the bedroom part of his RV had cooled off.

One of the locals, an elderly man who had impossibly white teeth, elbowed Melvin.

“Say there, fancy man.  What brings you to our quiet little town?”

“Oh, I’m passing through.  Gave a performance today, got to give another one tomorrow.”  Melvin smiled at the codger, glad to have some company that didn’t come from his RV’s stereo.

“What are ya?”  The stranger asked as his bushy white eyebrows rose up in curiousity.  “Some sort of pianist or something?”

“Oh, nothing as accomplished as that”, Melvin replied.  “I’m a magician.”

“Really?”  The man laughed and slapped his knee.  “Well, I’ll be.  What, you come in here to saw one of us in half?  Take Bernard.  His ol’ wife would be thrilled if you cut some of those pounds of off the big lug.”

“Jerry, you just keep to yours and I’ll keep to mine”, hollered a voice from across the room.  Melvin could only assume that Bernard didn’t appreciate his spare-tire being fodder for public conversation.

“Sorry friend”, Melvin said only half apologetically.  “I left my good saw in the RV.  Besides, I hear there’s a law in New Hampshire against drinking and sawing.  Certainly not when it’s after curfew.”

“Hee hee!”  Jerry wiggled back and forth on his bar stool, expertly keeping it from tipping over despite his glee.  “No drinking and sawing.  I like that.  Roger!  Get this city fella another beer on me.”

“You planning on paying for your beer first?”  Roger looked at Jerry with the wisdom that comes from being short-changed one too many times.

“Aaaah”, Jerry replied.  “You just hush up there.  Ain’t I your wife’s uncle?  I always pay back my kinfolk.  Besides”, Jerry said with a pointed look as he held his beer close to his lips.  “Didn’t I front you some money to buy this place not that long ago?”

Melvin had been too busy watching Roger’s embarrassed expression to see the smug look on Jerry’s face, but that didn’t stop anyone in the room from hearing it in the old man’s voice.

“Now Jerry Franford, you hear this…”

The rest of Roger’s angry retort was lost, for at that the moment the door slammed open.  The force of the blow and the jostling of the wall was enough to knock out the light bulb closest to the entry.  Melvin had to squint in the darkness, but he could see someone entering the pub.

The footsteps on the hard wood floor were like nothing Melvin had ever heard before.  They were like wet flippers or clusters of seaweed being slapped about on a ship’s deck.  As the footsteps came closer and the dark figure entered into the light, Melvin started to ask if the someone he had seen wasn’t actually a something.

Standing before Melvin was a creature with claws, green skin, and massively large eyes.  It looked like some sort of cross between an alien from the movies and a komodo dragon from a zoo.  It stood about five feet tall, had three fingers on each hand, and instead of feet it had some freakish combination of flippers and talons.  The webbing between the toes collected small pools of water, even with the heat outside.  Melvin felt his gaze intensify with fright as they started to challenge the size of the creature’s eyes.  He now knew what he had heard rustling in the bushes outside.

Melvin looked around the pub, hoping one of these men that had been so gung-ho about discussing fishing and hunting had happened to bring a shotgun, or at least a net, inside with them.  To his amazement, every other guest seemed to be going back to their drinks and conversations.

“Is there something I can help you with?”  Roger finished drying off a glass and then tossed the towel over his shoulder as he looked the creature in the eye.  The creature only gurgled.  “Did you want a drink or something?”

The creature pointed to the chalkboard on the back wall.  Roger and Melvin looked at it.  There, fashioned in several colors of chalk, was a cute drawing of apple pie, complete with a dollop of ice cream and a glass of milk beside it.  Underneath, in cheery slanted letters, the words advertised, “Greatest Pie for Ten Counties”.

“Pie”, Roger said.  “You want a slice of pie?”

The creature gurgled again and nodded his head.  His arms waved up and down like a drummer, emphasizing the point.

“Well I don’t mean to cause a fuss”, Roger said.  “But I don’t see any pockets on you.  Ya got some sort of payment?  We don’t give out food for free.”

Melvin was shocked at Roger’s unimpressed manner.  The magician had seen many things on stage.  Nothing had ever compared to this.  If he had been sitting further away, Melvin might have believed that it was a midget in some sort of elaborate costume.  From as close up as he was, even with the low lights, Melvin could tell this was no manmade costume.

The creature thrust his right arm at Roger.  For the first time, it unclenched its three fingers and revealed the contents that lay in the palm of its hand.  Three pieces of gold, looking even older than the hearty establishment, were dropped onto the bar.

Roger looked at the gold with a curious eye.  “I don’t know”, he said cautiously.  “These might be hard to cash in.  Hey Jerry, your brother worked in a bank.  He ever mention anything like these?”

Jerry put down his drink and looked for the first time at the creature.  He sized the thing up, raised his bottle in recognition, and pointed his finger at the coins.  “Hey there, mind if I take a look at those?”

The creature pushed a coin toward Jerry with the back of its hand.  Jerry leaned closer, holding the coin right up to his face.  “Picked a lousy day to leave my specs in the kitchen”, he muttered to himself.

Melvin sat there, his mouth open at the apparent normalcy of the situation.  He couldn’t believe the creature in front of him and he was shocked that no one was as stunned as he was.  The other men weren’t even stammering.

“Well Roger”, Jerry replied slowly.  “I’d say these are genuine.  If you don’t want ‘em, I’ll take ‘em.”

“Oh no”, Roger said, snatching the coin out of Jerry’s hand.  “If the coin is worth something, I’ll never get it from you.  I’ll trust this thing”, he said, pointing at the creature, “Before I trust you.  No offense”, he said to the animal.

The creature just gurgled once more and sat down on the bar stool in between Melvin and Jerry.  It pushed the other two coins towards Roger, who took them and added all three coins to his back pocket.  The creature pointed at the chalkboard once more with his hand, then gargled loudly.

“All right, all right”, Roger said.  “I’ll get you some pie.  Gimme a sec.”

Melvin couldn’t help but staring.  He wondered if the creature’s green texture was some sort of scaly substance or if it was mold-covered skin.  How could the creature retain moisture so well in this heat?  Before he knew what he was doing, the magician reached out his pointer finger and poked the creature in the arm.

The animal snarled.  He turned to Melvin angrily and raised his arm as his sharp claws extended from his fingers.  Melvin quickly retrieved his hand and shirked back in terror.  He hoped it wasn’t the last motion he would ever make.

“Now what’d you do that for?”  Jerry leaned back on his bar stool so that he could look past the creature to Melvin.  “The fella wasn’t doing nobody any harm; why did you have to go and get him all agitated.”

Melvin searched for the words to defend his curious nature, but no words fell out of his open mouth.”

Roger walked up with an irritated look on his face and pie in his hand.  “Here ya go”, he said to the creature.  “You can eat it at the table over there if you’d like.”

The creature’s eyes turned from Melvin and fell on the pie.  It stuck out its forked-tongue and licked its lips hungrily.  The creature pulled the plate close to him, stood up, and lumbered to the table.

“I’m gonna have to ask you to respect our other customers”, Roger said to Melvin.  “You seem nice enough; just keep your hands to yourself.”

“That… that thing”, Melvin stuttered.  “Have you seen it before?”

“Nah”, Jerry chimed in.  “It’s probably one of those Chupacabras. Legend has it that they live ‘round here.”

“That… I… you’ve never seen one?”

“We have now”, Roger said plainly.

“And you’re not at all surprised?”  Melvin couldn’t make sense of this pub in his brain.  Why weren’t these folks as shocked as he was?

“We’d never seen a magician before today”, Jerry replied.  “Here ya are.  Fella seems pleasant enough, why ask questions?  I ain’t never seen Bernard sober before, but I’d like to believe it can happen.”

“I told you”, the voice from across the room yelled again.  “You hush up and mind yer own dang business!”

With that, Jerry went back to drinking his beer and Roger went back to drying off his dishes.  Melvin the Magician shook his head in wonderment and took a sip of his beer.  He was witness to a curiosity that was guaranteed to sell tickets and it was a spectacle that he could never replicate.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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