Franklin: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter


Chapter 1: monster, man in the mask, zombie mask

(…) Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house. (…) He hurried up the steps and opened the screen door and held it with his foot as he found the key and turned the lock and stepped into the room and noticed an open shoe box on the table.
His chest went cold. He turned and saw the monster’s face, knowing it immediately for the mask it was, that he’d owned since he was a kid, that his mother had hated, his father ridiculed, a gray zombie with bloody gashes and fuzzy patches of hair and one plastic eye that dangled from strands of gore. Whoever wore it now must have found the mask French never had, hidden in Larry’s closet. (…)
The man in the mask cut him off in a high voice. “Everbody knows what you did.” He raised a pistol. (…) the man stepped closer and jammed the barrel against Larry’s chest, Larry for a moment seeing human eyes in the monster’s face, something familiar in there. Then he heard the shot. (…)
He turned his head, the monster smaller than he’d looked before, leaning against the wall by the door, unable to catch his breath. He wore white cotton gardening gloves and they were shaking, both the one with the pistol and the one without.
“Die,” he croaked. (…)
The man against the wall had sunk to his haunches, watching from behind the mask, eyes shimmering in the eye holes, and Larry felt a strange forgiveness for him because all monsters were misunderstood. The man moved the pistol from his right hand to the left and reached and touched the gory mask as if he’d forgot it was there and left another smudge of red, real among the paint, on its gray cheek. He wore old blue jeans frayed at the knees and socks stretched over his shoes and had a splotch of bright blood on his shirt-sleeve. (…)
The man in the mask shook his head and moved the gun from one hand to the other, both gloves now stained red.
“Die,” he said again.
Okay with Larry.

Chapter 2: Stephen King books, horror scenery, Hitchcock’s The Birds

(…) Out the window by his desk, propped up with an old Stephen King book, were Chabot’s other buildings (…).

Silas frowned. “You think Larry had something to do with the Rutherford girl?”
Silas regretted saying it. “I was in school with him’s all. Knew him a little way back when.”
“He didn’t play ball, did he?” Voncille asked.
“Naw. Just read books.”
“Horror books,” French said. “His house is full of em.” (…)

Where the hell was Larry? Probably sitting at home, reading Stephen King. Maybe he finally took a day off. Or gave up. (…)

Horror scenery where Silas finds M&M’s decomposed corpse.

“You ever see that other movie Alfred Hitchcock did, Voncille?”
“Which one?”
The Birds?”
“Long time ago.”
“All them buzzards and crows this morning reminded me of it.

Chapter 3: Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, The Shining

Larry opened Salem‘s Lot and held it so that he was sure Silas would notice.
He stole a sideways look and saw her face. He’d never been that angry. He didn’t think he had the ability to summon such anger, or the right. With her other hand Carolyn grabbed his arm and twisted it so he fell out of his desk, The Shining landing beside him on the floor.

Chapter 4: Larry’s library

“Into horror and shit. It’s a lot more of these in that first bedroom. More in all the bedrooms but the parents”. More books I bet you than in the rest of the county combined. Including the library.”
French went down the hall but Silas remained for a moment. He remembered this book, could see it in Larry’s hands as Larry described the plot.

Chapter 5: Stephen King’s Night Shift

He read a comic book at the table while he ate then drained his glass of Coke and thanked her and got his .33 from the gun cabinet in the hall and two boxes of cartridges and Stephen King’s short story collection Night Shift and, at the front door, called, “I’m going outside,” and let the screen door bang behind him, feeling her coming out behind him, watching him. (…)
Back on the mound, Silas checked runners on first and second before he pitched and then he did it all again. Larry sat back against a tree and picked beggar’s lice off his socks and pants. He’d hear the thump the ball made then maybe a grunt or hoot from Silas but soon he’d opened Night Shift to one of his favorite stories, “The Mangler.” (…)
“What you reading?”
Larry held the book up. Its cover showed a human hand with eyes in the palm and on the fingers. Some of the hand and fingers were wrapped in gauze like a mummy.
Silas said. “Is it scary?”
Larry told him about “The Mangler, describing in great detail the scene when the detectives go to visit the girl, who cuts her finger on the laundry machine. If the detectives’ farfetched theory is accurate, a freakish confluence of events caused the machine nicknamed “the Mangler to become possessed by a demon. The last piece in the puzzle, Larry told Silas, is the blood of a virgin. So the cops finally ask the girl: “Are you a virgin?” “I’m saving myself for my husband, she tells them. By then it’s too late, and the Mangler is coming for them all.” (…)
“Tell me another one.” Silas said. By now they were walking, the rifle strapped to Larry’s back, Silas grinding his baseball into his palm.
He told about “Jerusalem’s Lot” and told how it was a precursor to King’s novel Salem‘s Lot.



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