Sometimes, Edna Hockett got so frustrated,
she just wished she could die. Her life was going absolutely nowhere.
She often wondered what the point of it was. There was no way out;
she was stuck. And the worst thing was that she had done it to herself.
If anyone had told her back when she was seventeen
that she would wind up married to a fat slob who ran a tiny roadside market
way out in the middle of nowhere, just off a twolane highway, and that her nights
would be spent curled up on an old sofa in front of the TV, knitting sweaters
endlessly just to have something to do with her hands so she wouldn't start
pounding on the walls and screaming, she would never have believed it.
But there she was, in her flannel nightgown and curlers in front of the
TV in their living quarters over the store. They didn't even have
a decent house to live in, not even a mobile home, just a lousy, cramped
apartment above the store. How did she ever get herself into this
When she had married Harold at eighteen, fresh
out of high school, she felt so proud and free and full of life that it
seemed as if nothing could hold her back. She married her high school sweetheart, the captain
of the football team and the best-looking guy in school. Harold had
a football scholarship to college and she planned on getting a part-time
job to help make ends meet. They had wonderful plans. Harold
was going to work hard and win a position as the starting quarterback in
his sophomore or junior year. Then he'd get picked in the draft and
spend some years playing pro ball, after which he'd take all the money
he would have invested and start a business of his own. Well, Harold
got drafted, all right, but it wasn't by any football team. This
team was called the U.S. Army.
The big jerk just had to flunk out and get
drafted. For a while, she was terrified that he'd get sent to Vietnam,
but they shipped him off to West Germany instead, where he picked up a taste for dark beer and bratwurst and Wiener schnitzel and apple strudel. Pretty soon it was all that
he could do to fit into his uniform. And after Harold go out of the
army, he just kept on eating.
She couldn't really remember when she stopped
calling him "honey" and started referring to him as "the big jerk."
She wasn't sure when she started letting her own appearance slip, though she'd never allowed herself to get as sloppy and overweight as Harold. She couldn't remember
when she'd finally realized that all her dreams were merely that---just
dreams--- and instead of "making it," she had started to settle for "just
getting by." She was thirty- eight years old, but she looked forty-eight
and sometimes she felt even older. She changed the TV channel with
a sign and sat back to see what bad news there was in the world.
The eleven o'clock news came on. "The
quiet little community of Crystal Lake was shocked today with reports of
a grisly mass murder scene," the anchorman said.
Her eyes grew wide and she leaned forward,
staring intently at the screen. They were just down the road from
Crystal Lake! She turned the volume up.
"Eight bodies have been discovered in what
is already being called the most brutal and heinous crime in local history,"
the newscaster continued. "A police spokesman told 'Eye-On News' that they have been combing the area since just before dawn and are afraid that their gruesome discovery
is just the beginning."
My God, she thought, it was almost like the
last time, when that crazy Vorhees woman ran amok and killed those kids
at that camp by the lake! Edna shuddered at the thought. "Camp Blood" was what all the newspapers had called it. And to think that Pamela Vorhees had actually been
in their store every now and then! Who would have thought that a
perfectly normal-looking woman like that . . . but these new murders couldn't
have been done by her. She was dead. Edna remembered reading
that she had been decapitated. She shuddered, imagining the gruesome
sight of a body with its head cut off.
There was a crash outside and Edna jerked,
startled by the noise. She ran over to the window and looked out.
Of course, she thought, who else? It was Harold. The light of my life, she thought wryly. Some light. Some life.
He had stumbled into one of the poles holding
up the clothesline and knocked it over. Now he was down there, flailing
amid the hanging laundry, trying to get the pole propped back up. Looking at him now, at
his clumsy, shambling gait, the awkward way he moved, his beer belly and
fat cheeks and thinning hair, it was hard to believe that he had ever been a handsome
young football hero.
It all just goes to show you, Edna thought.
She had married the top jock, the best-looking boy in school, and look
what he had turned into. On the other hand, her cousin Jennifer had married the class nerd and now he was a wealthy Hollywood screenwriter and Jennifer lived in a big house
in Malibu, wore designer clothes and drove a fifty-thousand-dollar sports
car. Go figure, Edna thought. Who would've guessed? Life
was a cruel joke. She pushed open the window and leaned out.
"Goddamn it, Harold!" she screamed down
at him as he looked up guiltily. "I spent all day yesterday washing
your clothes and look what you're doing to 'em! You know I work very hard around here, tryin' to keep up with you and all your sloppy habits! And I get no help from
you at all!"
She slammed the window back down furiously.
"Jerk," she mumbled, going back over to the TV. They were still on
the mass murder story. The anchorman had just turned it over to the reporter in the field.
"Police Chief Scott Fitzsimmons had no comment
about the murders when reached early this morning," the reporter was saying
as he stood outside one of the cabins down by Crystal Lake. In the background, an
ambulance and police squad cars with flashing lights were visible.
"Detectives at the scene, however, were baffled by the brutality of the killings," the
reporter continued. "Bodies were found literally strewn over the
four-square-mile campground in the remote lake region."
"Oh, my God," Edna murmured, biting her lower
lip as she leaned forward slightly to adjust the antenna on the portable
TV, improving the picture. She sat back again and resumed winding the yarn. The camera cut
away to a shot of a pretty blond girl being taken out of the cabin on a
stretcher. The reporter provided a voice-over commentary as she was loaded into the
"Ginny Field miraculously survived repeated
attacks by the ax-wielding killer and was taken to the hospital today,"
the reporter said, offscreen. "She is in serious condition, suffering from multiple stab wounds and severe hysterical shock. Tha names of the eight victims are still being
withheld pending notification of the next-of-kin. Reports of cannibalism and sexual
mutilation are still unconfirmed at this hour. The person responsible
for the Crystal Lake horror remains at large. . . ."
Edna reached forward quickly and turned off
the TV. She didn't need to hear that sort of thing. My God
, she thought, cannibalism? Sexual mutilation? And the killer was still at large? She wouldn't get a wink of sleep tonight.
"Harold?" she called, in a shrill voice.
"What're you doing down there?"
There was no answer.
"Harold . . ." Edna set her mouth in a tight
grimace. She hated it when he got sulky and didn't answer. "I swear.
. . ."
She looked out the window, but there was no
sign of him in the yard. Shaking her head, she put her knitting on
the couch and went downstairs. She went out the back door into the yard, stood looking around for a moment, then glanced at the laundry hanging on the line and sighed. A work
shirt and a pair of pants were missing. She picked up the basket and started
taking down the clothes.
"Jesus Christ, Harold," she said, talking to
herself, "you take what's yours and you leave the rest for me to do. So
inconsiderate. Why didn't you just finish the job?"
No, of course not, that would be too much to
ask, she thought. If I hadn't come out here to see what that big
dope was doing, the laundry would've hung out here all night.
"Do I have to do everything around here?" she
said to herself. Given the lack of response from Harold , she was
saying things to herself more and more often. Christ, she thought, they'll be coming to take me away to the rubber room pretty soon. That's if I live so long.
She heard a footstep crunch on the gravel in
She squinted into the darkness and, for a moment
she thought she saw a large figure moving past, but now the sheets hanging
on the clothesline blocked her view. She moved to look around them and saw that
the door to the wooden shed out back was open. She put the basket
back on the porch and went to see what the hell that jerk was doing out there in the
middle of the night. Sometimes she simply couldn't figure him out
at all. Most of the time, she thought, sourly.
Meanwhile, Harold was bent over the fishbowl
in the back room of the market. He opened up a little can of fish
food and shook some flakes out into the bowl.
"Okay, boys, soup's on," he said, shaking out
far more flakes than necessary. In addition to overfeedin himself,
Harol had a tendency to over feed his pets. He had already fed the goldfish twice that day and
now some instinct of self-preservation kept them from eating any more.
"S'matter, aren't you hungry?' he said, coaxing them. "It's good.
Here, look, I'm eating it."
He shook a few flakes out into the palm of his hand
and licked them off. He smacked his lips, raised his eyebrows in
appreciation, and shook some more flakes out into his palm. Not all that bad, he though, giving the fish another taste. Wonder what's in 'em? He turned the
can around to read the ingredients as he munched the flakes.
"Mayfly eggs?" he said, aghast.
He immediately began spitting out the flakes.
He heard a lound crunching sound and glanced up,
wondering where it was coming from. Something was moving over in
the produce section, by one of the vegetable bins.
"Hey, hey, hey, hey! "he shouted, dropping
the fish food and running over to the produce section. He reached
into the bin and pulled out a large white rabbit. "If Edna catches you in here, she's gonna make a fur coat out of 'ya!" he said, cradling the rabbit in his arms protectively.
It looked up at him, snufflinng its nose.
He sighed. What the hell, he thought, you can't
blame the poor guy for being hungry. he grimaced wryly. Everyone
was starving around here. If Edna had her way, he'd have the same diet as the rabbit---carrots and lettuce. What the hell kind of food was that for a man?
The thought of food made him hungry, and on his way
toward the back door, Harold stopped and grabbed a jar of peanuts off one
of the shelves. He looked around furtively, then twisted the lid open, breaking the vacuum
seal. He shook out a handful of peanuts and popped them into mouth,
then carefully screwed the lid back onto the jar and replaced it on the
shelf. Then he wen over to the refrigerated section, took out a bottle
of orange juice. After unscrewing the lide and washing down the peanuts with several
swallows, he carefully replaced the lid and put the bottle back again.
What the hell,he thought, nobody would notice. A man's gotta eat.
A box of chocolate-covered doughnuts caught his attention.
He stared at it for a moment, his mouth watering. If he opened it,
it wasn't like unscrewing a lid and only taking out a small amount that nobody would
notice. Some customer would be sure to notice that the box had opened
and that there was a doughnut missing. On the other hand, they'd
probably just figure that some kids had done it and they'd merely put the
opened box back on the shelf and take a full one. It wasn't very likely that
anyone would make a point of mentioning it to Edna. And if no one
mentioned one missing doughnut, then they probably wouldn't mention two. No, thought
Harold, they'd just put down the opened box and grab a full one and that
would be the end of it. No on would complain and Edna would never know.
What the hell, he thought. He tucked the rabbit
up in the crook of his arm and popped open the seal on the box. He
licked his lips as he took out one of the moist, dark doughnuts and bit into it with gusto.
Behind him, the door opened up soundlessly and a
shadow crossed the floor..
Harold shoved the remainder of the chocolate doughnut
into his mouth and greedily reached for another one. Holding it in
his mouth, he closed the box back up and replaced it underneath several unopened ones.
He'd remember where he put it so he could sneak some more later in the
night if he wanted a late night snack.
A shadow fell across him.
Harold turned, the doughnut still stuck between his
teeth, and found himself face-to-face with Edna.
"Didn't I feed you enough for supper?" she
shrilled at him, shaking her finger in his face. "The doctor said
you have to lose weight, didn't he?" She sighed with exasperation. "You know, I try to help you, but you keep sneakin' food behind my back! What am I gonna do with you? And
would you put that filthy animal back where it belongs? Come on!"
Harold looked down at the floor miserably as she
went out, then he quickly grabbed another doughnut, crammed it into his
mouth, and took the rabbit back out to the shed, holding the rabbit in his arms and stroking it. But suddenly it started wriggling, panic-striken, in his arms.
"Hey, hey, hey, what're you so nervous about?" said
Harold, shifting his grip on the struggling rabbit.
He stopped for a moment as he approached the rabbit
hutch and his mouth dropped open as he stared at the dead rabbits inside.
He gasped and approached the hutch, shaking his head with disbelief.
"Who would do something like this?" he said, leaning
close to the hutch and opening the door.
A huge copperhead rattlesnake reared up inside the
hutch, its tail rattling a warning, its gaping mouth open, displaying the
long, needle-sharp, curved fangs. Harold dropped the rabbit and recoiled just as it lunged
at him, striking, its fangs missing his face by scant inches.
He ran panic-striken out of the shed, holding on
to his stomach with both hands. The sheer terror of his close call
had loosened his bowels and he plunged through the back door, almost bowling Edna over as he made a beeline for the bathroom.
"What's the matter?" Edna shouted after him. "What
Harold mumbled something as he ran past her and bolted
through the bathroom door, which he slammed behind him.
"It's all that crap you've been stuffing yourself
with!" Edna shouted through the door. She shook her head in
disgust and went back to the couch. She turned up the volume of the TV, then sat back down to her knitting. She scowled since one of the two long, steel knitting needles seemed to
be missing. She looked all around on the couch and felt behind the cushions.
"Now where's that other needle?" she said, looking
for it without success.
Harold sat on the toilet in the dilapidated bathroom,
relieved that he had made it just in time. He never would have heard
the end of it from Edna if he had gone in his pants. He had heard the expression "being scared
shitless" before, but that was the first time he had ever experienced the
literal truth of that saying. The only time he'd ever felt anything close to that
kind of fear was when he was drafted and he didn't know if he would wind
up going to Vietnam or not.
Thank God we'd already started pulling out by that
time, Harold thought, reaching for the bottle of whiskey he kept hidden
behind the toilet. He had been so terrified of being sent over there that he had started losing sleep and eating compulsively just to take his mind off it. Everyone
had always thought that he was such a gridiron hero; they used to call him "Hockett
the Rocket" because he scrambled in the backfield just like a pro, when
the truth was the he scrambled so hard and so fast because he was absolutely
terrified of being hit. The thought of being hurt completely unnerved
him. And after all the horror stories he had heard about what went on in Vietnam,
just the thought of being sent over there made his knees go weak.
But he'd been lucky. Just like with that snake. Man, he though, what
a close call! He closed his eyes and sighed, then took another gulp
He had several of the bottles stashed away in the
apartment and the store, as well as in the shed. They were all carefully
hidden where Edna wan't liable to find them. Fortunately, she wasn't much on cleaning
lately, so most of the bottles went undiscovered. The place was a damn mess.
He uncapped the bottle and put it to his lips, taking
several healthy slugs. It burned deliciously as it went down.
God, how he'd needed that! The doctor had warned him about cutting back on the booze---well, what he'd actually said was, "If you don't stop drinking, Harold, you'll kill
yourself"--but if having a rattlesnake almost bite your nose off wasn't enough excuse
for a man to have a drink, he didn't know what was. Jesus, just being
married to Edna was enough to drive a man to drink, he thought, knocking back
She was always on his back about his eating.
Well, he thought, what the hell was there to do around here except eat?
And drink a little on the sly. He hoisted the bottle once again. She was always complaining
that he wasn't the man he used to be, that wasn't the guy she'd married.
He grimaced at the thought. Well, she wasn't exactly the girl he'd married,
either. He remembered what she looked like back in high school.
God, he thought, she was enough to make your heart stop. Long blond hair, incredible legs,
and the way she had filled out her cheerleader's sweater, man, the guys
used to fumble the ball every time she jumped into the air, shaking her pom-poms.
Now, she was always padding around the house in those
ridiculous pink furry slippers, with her hair up in those pink plastic
curlers and that flannel print housecoat covering what was still actually a pretty nice body
come to think of it--only every time he tried to do anything she would
groan and roll over on her side, saying, "God, not tonight, Harold, I'm really tired
and I've got a headache."
Okay, so maybe he had put on some weight and maybe
his hair had started falling out. Maybe he wasn't the same handsome,
young quarterback she'd married, but hell, a guy couldn't help getting older, could he?
She was always complaining that there was no more romance in their marriage.
Romance! Try getting romantic with somebody whose head looks
like a heating coil and whose face has about a pound of cold cream on it
every night. Try getting romantic with someone who was always getting on your case
about one thing or another, scolding you as if she was your mother, for
cryin' out loud.
"Who can live like this?" she always
said, spreading out her arms and looking up, as if expecting an answer
"You tell me, " he always replied. "This ain't
no kind of life at all, if you ask me! Hell, the way things are goin',
I might as well drop dead!"
"I sometimes wish you would!" she'd shout back.
"And I wish I would, too!" he'd yell back,
and then he'd stomp out of the room and go out to the shed, where he'd
have a whiskey bottle stashed away.
He drained the whiskey bottle and wiped the liquor
off his chin. I'm in the toilet, all right, he thought. For
a moment, he felt like throwing the empty bottle against the wall, but then Edna wouldn't clean it up and he'd only wind up stepping on the broken glass the next time he came into the
bathroom barefoot. He resisted the impulse and put the empty bottle down
on the floor, reminding himself to get rid of it so that Edna wouldn't
find it and give him a hard time.
He put the bottle behind the toilet, and as he straightened
up, he noticed the dusty curtain opposite him move slightly.
The bathroom had two large cupboards in it, from
which Harold had removed the shelves to make storage closets. One
of the closets had a makeshift wooden door; the other was covered by a cloth curtain. The door
had been missing for years and Harold kept meaning to replace it, but he
never got around to it. Now he stared at the moving curtain, and it occurred
to him that whoever had put the rattlesnake in with the rabbits might easily
still be around. The closets were both deep enough for a prowler to hide
Harold swallowed nervously and pulled up his pants.
He slowly moved over to the curtain and reached out the draw it aside.
He hesistated. What if there was someone hiding in there? What would he
Hell, it's probably just my imagination, he told
himself. That damn rattlesnake has got me spooked. He'd have to call
someone tomorrow to get that damn snake out of the shed, because he sure as hell wasn't
going back inside there. . . On the other hand, maybe he'd send Edna in there.
Just to convince himself that he was getting worked
up over nothing, Harold summoned up his nerve and jerked the curtain aside.
There was nothing behind it except a pile of dusty cardboard cartons. He breathed
a sigh of relief.
Then he glanced at the other closet.
He drew himself up and walked over to it, grasped
to doorknob, turned it, flung open the door--and a large meat cleaver thudded
into his chest with all the force of a lineman sacking a quarterback.
He staggered back, blood spurting from around the
cleaver embedded deep in his chest, staring with horror and disbelief at
the huge figure standing in the closet, and before the pain could even register, he died.
He never felt the impact when his body fell upon the bathroom floor.
Edna heard the crash and scowled. "Harold?"
There was no answer. She reached out and turned
off the TV.
"Harold?" she called again.
Why couldn't he ever answer when she called?
It drove her crazy when he did that. With a sigh of exasperation,
she got up and went over to the bathroom.
"Harold, you still in there?" she called through
the door. "What was that crash? You break something again?"
She tried the door. It was unlocked. She went inside and looked around. Now where the hell was he? She sniffed several times. Whiskey. If figured. She knew he hid his whiskey bottles all over the house,but she didn't even bother looking for them anymore. She was thankful that he wasn't one of those angry, nasty drunks. Whenever Harold had too much to drink, he would simply pass out,and at least then she'd get a little peace and quiet. Maybe one of these days he'd just pass out and never get back up, she thought. It would serve the big jerk right.
She heard a rustling sound behind the closet door.He was probably in there with his whiskey bottle. She jerked the door open and was confronted by a large rat sitting atop one of the storage cartons. She gasped and drew back from it with a grimace of disgust--and suddenly a large handwas clamped over her mouth and the missing steel knitting needle was driven through her neck, rippling through her voice box and emerging through her throat.
She struggled uselessly, realizing with horrifiying
clarity that she was being murdered. She gagged, choking on her own
blood as it bubbled up into her throat, seeping between the fingers of the
huge hand covering her mouth. Waves of white-hot pain washed over her, and then
all sensation disappeared as numbness quickly spread throughout her body and she
sank down into oblivion.
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