It’s happy-happy-joy-joy time around the Dreadful Tales offices, and we thought we’d give you a little behind the scenes kind of look at the folks that run this insane asylum. We’re embracing this season so much we’ve even changed the header on the site, here! (look up, guys!) So, for the next few days, you’re going to be reading about some of the stuff that makes us all sorts of holiday-happy, and in particular, our favorite Christmassy crap.
I’m gonna kick this all off by sharing my favorite Christmas experience that revolves around books, late-night gas station bonding, and a forest that came out of nowhere… but make sure you check back to hear from Shelagh, Meli, and Jason in the coming days.
While most of us are inclined to shout a big ol’ BAH HUMBUG to the season, I want to share with you a tale depicting the real beauty that the holiday can bring, the life changing events that make us become who we are in the end (or should I say ‘rrrrump‘), and the warning that not all brother in-laws will succumb to your natural charm and just let you have your Christmas gift early, even if you threaten to dump his ass out of your car in a sketchy part of town at 11pm.
And this, my friends, is the story of the night I became obsessed with Richard Laymon.
One of my brother in-laws, who shall remain nameless for the sake of his not wanting to become an internet phenom, asked me one year what I might want for Christmas. I couldn’t, and still can’t get this question right, even under the strictest of directions. You could tell me that you have $5 slated for my present or else you’ll burn the pretty paper money, and I still couldn’t come up with a damned thing – not even to tell you that I wanted $5. Same goes for exorbitant amounts of cash… sums the likes I have never seen (and will likely never see from this genre… but that’s another post for another time on another website…) I asked him to hold on for a bit and told him it might take me a few days, but I was definitely going to give him an idea.
After searching everywhere for something… useful… I finally settled on pillaging Craigslist for my daily dose of hilarious and insane postings. I don’t do this anymore, but back then I’d cycle through the lonely hearts club that is the Craigslist personals. You get some of the weirdest junk in there, but I digress… y’see, sometimes I’d just type in random things and see what happens. I was trying to build a music studio at that point, and eventually got sick of searching for bits of equipment that I’d never have a chance to check out, let alone own. I was down to the line and had to give the dude an answer so he could go out and have his list be done with. So I typed a bunch of authors names. Keene? Nothin’. Ketchum? Nothin’. Vernon? Nada. Laymon… wait a minute… JACKPOT!
On November 27th, 2009, after hunting for an idea for an obscene amount of time, and pining after the idea of having a complete Laymon collection for quite a while… here was my chance.
Some poor bastard on Craigslist was not only selling 20 Richard Laymon paperbacks for wicked cheap, but they were all Headline or Zebra editions, and he lived relatively close to me.
I ran down the stairs, slammed into railings, walls, and other house type things, pounded on my brother in-law’s door, and breathlessly asked him what his price point was. He told me to give him a number, so I told him he’d have to wait a day or two… again. I contacted the seller, asked for a price, he got back to me with a price so good I’d have to kick myself in the junk if I’d refused, and a few days later we were ready to roll. My brother in-law agreed to the sum (which was a steal, if you ask me), and we chose December 9th to get up and get out to Yorkdale to pick up a box of awesome for me to love.
I was driving a painfully unreliable ’96 Maxima at this point in life, and had really only started driving a few years earlier. I tell you this as a way to assuage myself, pretty much disguising my lack of ability to navigate even the simplest of towns, and refusing to admit to the fact that I’m completely directionally inept. West is right, East is left, and going straight towards a landmark is my favorite way to drive. So when I got the directions to a gas station just outside of a shopping mall, hell… even I thought it was going to be an easy drive.
We started out going alright. My brother in-law wanted to know a bit about Laymon, so I laid it on him. Now, I consider myself somewhat of a Laymon buff, and didn’t resist throwing down even the smallest bit of information. This led to a conversation probably along the lines of “this is the nastiest thing I’ve read” or “you know what I saw on the internet yesterday? It’s gross, but…”
We were completely lost before we noticed that the road, houses, and streetlights were all gone.
If you’d have told me that there was a giant forest dividing one side of North York from the other near the Bridal Path, I’d have laughed at you and told you to get off my lawn of I’d shoot. But no, I had to find out the hard way. And not only that, but we were completely bound to the road with no way to turn for the fact that there was a massive ditch on either side of this one car lane, and I couldn’t do a three point turn. Not without destroying the car and risking the chance that I wouldn’t get my books, anyway.
So I did the only thing I could do. I gripped the steering wheel, set my jaw, and hoped that we didn’t get violated by backwoods mutants, wishing for the best… at 20kmph. A dead crawl, in my books.
We eventually found a small crossing about 3 or 4 km into this terrifying little bastard of a forest and turned around. In hindsight, doing 80kmph (roughly 50mph) on the way back, knowing now that the engine was actually held into the car by only one cross member, probably wasn’t a good idea. But whatever doesn’t kill you… yadayadayada. This bitch had speed dents and a growl to beat a Mustang. She could do anything… except drive 80kmph without struggling structurally…
We made it to the gas station, called the seller on his cell phone, realized we were at the gas station across the street, he walked over, and we eventually made the sale. It turns out he’s an even bigger fan than I am, and had these beautiful paperback editions in mint condition. Not even a scratch or bend in the spine. Nothing. They were perfect. He even gave me $40 off the original price because I let him laugh at my ridiculous journey. And by let, I mean I didn’t throat punch him when he laughed in my face for getting lost in an imaginary forest I’m still completely unable to find no matter where I drive in that area.
We talked about all things Laymon, he showed me his favorite stories and passages in the books, and he even tried to sell me a huge Bentley Little collection as well. I had to refuse, but I wish I hadn’t. He did tell me one thing about Little, though, that I heeded. He suggested I look up The University, which I did, and eventually found (one of the hardest books I’ve ever set out to track down). He said it’s the closest Little and Laymon ever came to writing in the same vein. I’ll dig into that novel soon and find out. It’s a crusher of a thick novel, that’s for sure.
All in all, it was a great adventure to get what I consider the prize of my library. Being so close to owning all of the novels that Laymon ever released is a goal I care deeply about. I can see it being achieved soon, too. Hell, I might even be able to do it before the end of 2012 if I’m diligent. But I have most of it down thanks to that one magical Christmas present, and a man selling his wares at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.
I’d also like to point out that my brother in-law actually took the entire box of books and held onto it until Christmas day, the bastard…
As an extra treat, I thought maybe I’d share a picture with y’all. Here’s a shot of my collection as it stands now. I’m 36 novels into the pile, in addition to one copy of In Laymon’s Terms from Cemetery Dance, one copy of The Halloween Mouse, and one very treasured copy of Laymon’s A Writer’s Tale (signed and numbered #248 – which also smells a little like formaldehyde… )
As a little bonus, here’s a picture of me and Dick chillin’ out max and relaxin’ all cool in his digs in California circa 1996.
To end this all off, I want to wish you all a very Scary Christmas, and a gore filled New Year.
Thank you so much for hanging out with us every day for the past six months. It’s been a blast, and we’re really stoked for the next six awesome months to come.
Vaya Con Diablos, babies. Happy Holidays!
P.S: While I’m at it, here’s a little trivia for the regular readers. Have you ever wondered where we came up with the name of the site?