By John Weagly
The first time I carried a pitchfork, the second a torch. The third time I didn’t carry a thing, I just yelled and pumped my fist into the air until it felt like my arm was going to fall off. Dracula. The Monster. The Wolfman. Every time a hell born miscreant went on a rampage, I was one of the first to join the hunting party.
I am a cobbler by trade, boot and shoe repair. Not much exciting happens in your life when you cobble. Shoes and boots, boots and shoes. Day after day after day. Even life outside of my humble work does not hold much of a thrill. My marriage is agreeable enough, lasting these last thirty years and bearing three wonderful sons. I get home from work to a pleasant supper, a nice sit around the fire and then off to bed. My wife keeps me happy, but not enthused.
A brute or fiend running amok can certainly disrupt the monotony.
I believe my favorite was the Monster. He was not named Frankenstein, you know. The doctor that created the monster, his name was Frankenstein, but the monster was just the Monster. Or maybe Frankenstein’s Monster. Anyway, with the Monster we didn’t have to worry about being bitten. The Wolfman and Count Dracula, both big biters, not so with the Monster. He could tear you limb from limb, but you didn’t have to worry about his teeth.
Another reason I preferred the Monster, I had an idea of how he felt. He was sewn together from pieces of the dead – to that I could relate. A numbness can take over the body, a lack of feeling, an absence of sensation. It’s no one’s fault, it just happens after getting used to so much of the same thing. But then, just when you’ve grown comfortable with this sleeplike consciousness, something comes along to make you live again! Something like a mad devil bent on destruction. Ah! Those rampages could reanimate this old corpse.
Every now and then I wander the countryside, imagining to myself the adventure of storming a castle or searching the forest or, perhaps, burning down a windmill. It makes me smile, makes my heart beat faster. Then I go home and prepare for another day of work and family.
You know, one time the Count - he turned into a bat, right before my very eyes! Away he flew… very disconcerting but also stimulating. And another time, I got close enough to touch the Wolfman’s fur! Coarse, but soft and delicate, too. That unholy tickle, it’s a feeling that never leaves the tips of my fingers.
Listen to me ramble on about the good old days.
It’s been ten years now since we had any monster troubles. That’s a long time to sit in the quiet, watching your life go by day after day after day.
Boots and shoes.
Sometimes, in the dark of night, I wish a scream would pierce the shadows. We could all take up our torches and gather in the village square. Crowded together in a hot pack, smelling the sweat and apprehension of our neighbors, our fear fueling our excitement, out we would go, out to hunt the monster.
That wish, that desire, that dream is why I keep my pitchfork by the door.
John Weagly’s work has been called "exuberant” – Chicago Tribune, "charming" – Chicago Reader and "appealingly quirky" – Chicago Sun-Times.
As a playwright, over 100 of his plays have received productions by theaters on 4 continents. A collection of his short sci-fi/fantasy scripts, Tiny Flights of Fantasy, has been taught at Columbia College.
Also an award-winning short story writer, Locus Magazine once compared his short fiction to the works of Ray Bradbury and Nina Kiriki Hoffman and called him “a new writer worth reading and following.” His short story collection, Dancing in the Knee-Deep Midnight, is available through Amazon.