The Crimes We Commit in Others’ Minds

YorickLast night I was out in the garage pulling a paper mache skull from its form. You really have to work it sometimes with a screwdriver to pop the paper off, and I had been at it for a while.

At 8 o’clock it was getting a little chilly, and the sun was already painting the hills pink and orange.

Since Sunday’s Wind Event, big piles of limbs and even whole trees lined both sides of the road in front of the house. Chainsaws buzzed in the distance and a large tractor “chuffed” up the road. The aroma of fresh-cut wood, campfires, and drying leaves filled the air.

Open Mind with Bill Jenkins“, a KABC show from the 80s, was playing loudly on the CD player on the workbench. UFOs, Bigfoot, astral projection, talking bananas, all sorts of crazy stuff. It’s like listening to Coast to Coast AM, but without the annoying political commentary. Great listening for an early Fall night.

I didn’t notice the car in the driveway until a door slammed. I stepped out of the garage to see who it was. Almost dark now, and with headlights shining in my eyes, I couldn’t make out the faces of the three people standing and staring at me.

“Can I help you?” I called out.

There was a lengthy silence, then a woman’s voice said, “W-we heard your water was out, so … we brought you some. We’re from the LDS church.” She gestured toward her two companions who were struggling with a heavy package. They were young girls, probably 11, and their eyes never left me. They looked like they could bolt at any second. That’s when it struck me.

There I stood, bathed in the cold harsh light of the car headlights, leaves skittering in circles around my feet, holding a skull in one hand and a long screwdriver in the other. I’m sure it was the very last thing these good Samaritans expected to see on a Tuesday evening.

Laughing, I put my project away and took the case of water from the girls, thanking them and blessing their little hearts the whole time. It was really very nice of them to drive through the neighborhood and give out cases of water.

As they pulled down the driveway and disappeared behind a pile of brush, I stood waving and smiling. Smiling because of the warm gesture and because of the story they’ll have to tell their friends about the crazy man with the skull.

10 Responses to “The Crimes We Commit in Others’ Minds”

  1. Great story.
    The best part of being a kid is that your imagination takes over with anything like that.
    By now, somewhere, a few kids are telling some friends that they heard from some friends that some friends of their’s accidentally startled a cannibal as he was finishing dinner.

  2. Last weekend I had a full size toe pincher coffin up on saw horses in the driveway. I had painted it and left it out to dry all afternoon. Just about every car that passed by slowed down a bit to see what it was. Oh the life of a haunter. That is super kind that they were dropping off water to everyone. I’m jealous of the description of the weather there, its 90 down here in Florida.

  3. Great story!! You’ve probably given them an experience they’ll talk about for years!

  4. That’s awesome. My neighborhood has a lot of “walkers”, I love the strange looks I get all the time as people go walking by and see corpses, monsters, coffins, etc. in my garage. Every now and then I’ll have some kids who will stop by and get a preview of what I am working on, I love to get their reactions to what I am working on.

  5. Oh yeah, and peeling those skulls can get frustrating. I hate it when I don’t have a “perfect peel” or when I tear a hole in one or something like that. Even though it doesn’t matter because it will just get covered up anyway… it’s the challenge of it. I love that feeling when the face piece pops off, I’m sure you know what I mean.

  6. Do I ever. And I’ve finally seen the light. Use a release agent on the skull before you lay down paper mache. Just a bit of WD40 did the job, but I’m thinking some spray wax or silicone would also work. The paper practically popped right off. All that time I wasted before.

    I updated the skull page and left an apology for everybody who has jammed a screwdrive under a fingernail trying to demold their skulls.

  7. That is awesome!! Its nice to come back to something like this when Ive been away a few weeks.

  8. I never noticed until now, but those duck feet are sort of scary too.

  9. I love it! The joys of a haunter. I answered the door the other day wearing my new Michael Myers mask (it’s just so comfortable I don’t want to take it off). It was my mail carrier. I regarded her in silence, as Michael would want me to. She hesitated ever-so-slightly-so-wonderfully before extending a slender box my way. “Ooh, my corpse hands,” I gushed. “Thank you!” As she walked away I stood in the doorway and watched her, just waiting for her to look back. I knew she would look back. She had to look back. She looked back, saw me watching and whipped her head back around like I’d caught her with her hand in the cookie jar. I chuckled for five minutes.
    I’m pretty sure I’ve been added to some sort of Watch List.

  10. That made me laugh. Heh. I can see it. Perfect. :)