THE SIDESHOW

Part Four – Wrong Turn, Wrong Time

 by Zapped!

This chapter will focus on a suburban family that’s on route to a vacation at Disney World. While traveling through Georgia, they end up getting lost and find themselves in the backwoods town of Shady Creek. The father first gets sidetracked by a service station owner when he inquires about an advertisement for a side show attraction. What initially seems like an old rundown freak show (ala traveling road shows of yesteryear) quickly turns into a great deal more.   

While the rest of the family looks at a poisonous snake exhibit, the father is taken on a personal tour of a private part of the museum that’s for “Adults Only.”    In the end, the Goodwin family finds that they’ve stumbled across more than they bargained for.   

The following story pays homage to the film called Side Sho, as well as Tourist Trap; Deliverance; and with a little bit of National Lampoon’s “Vacation” tossed in!

 

Prologue:

   It was in the summer of 2008, when my parents decided to take us to Disney World for our family vacation. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but a trip to Florida sounded far better than riding my BMX bike around the suburbs of Dayton Ohio!  Besides, there was another reason that I was excited about this trip . . .

   That was also the year I discovered that girls were more than just annoying little brats, who made good nurses when we’d play cowboys and Indians. I think it all started that previous fall, when I first saw a girl named Mindy Corolla. Over the summer, she had apparently discovered make-up and started to “bloom” in other ways as well!   Anyway, I had passed her in the hall that first day of school, and saw her flip her long brown hair out over her shoulder . . . It was just that simple; an innocent moment in time that she probably wouldn’t even remember if I asked her . . . (If I actually found the courage to ask, anyway!)

   But it wasn’t Mindy Corolla’s innocent “hair flip” that was keeping me up at night, and then leaving me with this unexpected surprise in the morning . . .

   My oldest sister Amanda had this best friend named Courtney West, and every now and then she would end up sleeping over at our house. Anyway, one night I was passing by my sister’s room when I heard the two of them, giggling away. I wasn’t really trying to be nosy or anything, I just happened to catch a passing glimpse through the crack of the opened door.

. . . And that’s when I stopped dead in my tracks.

   Courtney was stooped over my sister and braiding her hair, as Amanda sat at the edge of the bed. My heart skipped a beat and I couldn’t help but stare, as my sister’s best friend just stood there with her back to me in her hot pink bra and panties. And when I say pink; I mean the word “PINK” actually arched out over her butt cheeks! She looked to me like the perfect vision of beauty; from the way her brown hair hung loosely at her shoulders, to the way her undies wedged up into her butt just ever so slightly! . . . On her feet were a pair of little pink bootie socks, and even those looked hot to me!

   I found myself swept up in sexual desire - (assuming that’s what it is actually called).  All I knew was that I hadn’t planned on, or even considered any of this. Yet there I was; my heart pounding, and with my shorts tightening in Courtney’s presence.

. . . And that’s when she stepped around my sister and happened to look up!

   My heart sank and my jaw dropped, (and not just from the sight of her frontal view either!) . . . Just when I thought my life, (as I knew it), was over - Courtney winked at me! I couldn’t believe it! . . . I just continued to stare at her in total shock, as if wondering whether I somehow imagined it.   …That was when she blew me a kiss and continued on with braiding Amanda’s hair.

   I soon found myself creeping away slowly down the hall; my cheeks were red, my thoughts still swirling around in my head and with my little dick pointing at attention. But I had a smile on my face and I knew my life would somehow never be the same!

   Courtney and I never have talked about that awkward moment. In fact; we rarely ever talked at all, and I would surely avoid any situation that might put us alone together. It was probably just as well though; I always felt self-conscious around her ever since that day.    . . . And besides; what would an eighteen-year-old senior want to do with a scrawny guy like me anyway?

   I’m assuming that Courtney never told my sister about the incident, or Amanda would have surely told my parents. She was like that you know; always ragging on me. My twin sister Nikki was like that too. She was older than me by less than twenty minutes, but it was a fact that she would never let me forget . . .

   Anyway, you could imagine my apprehension when I found out that Courtney West was going on vacation with us to Florida. But as uneasy as I felt, the thought of catching a glimpse of Amanda’s best friend in a bikini, or even in her undies once again, definitely was overshadowing the “peeping tom” incident!

   It was around seven in the morning, when Courtney’s parents dropped their only daughter and her luggage off in front of our house. Dad packed up our stuff the night before and was raring to go as usual, so all the teenager had to do was say her good byes and climb in the minivan. I remember how she looked that morning, still sleepy-eyed and half awake, but to me looking just as gorgeous as ever. Amanda insisted that the two of them sit in the far back, and Nicole and I would be stuck in the middle. So it was by total luck that I happened to be standing there, when Courtney stepped into the back of the van. I’ll never forget the way her butt looked in her sweatpants, as she climbed in front of me; the way the “PINK” logo stretched out across the back, while leaving behind the flowery scent of perfume in her wake.

. . . It’s funny the things you remember.

________________________________________________________________________

 

Family Vacation . . .

“Dad, are we almost there?”

. . . The question had come out of the back seat from Nicole, the oldest of the twins. It was a question that had been asked at least a half dozen times, within the last two hours.

   Clark Goodwin answered from behind the wheel, “We still have quite a ways to go yet sweetie.”

   “But you said that an hour ago . . .”

   From the furthest seat in back of the minivan, another voice complains, “An hour ago, more like two hours ago!” . . . It was the voice of Amanda, the Goodwin’s eldest child of three.

   From the front passenger seat, Beverly Goodwin advises, “That means your father is lost guys”

   The father makes an annoyed look at his wife, before asking, “Do you want to drive?”

   “Oh no, you’re the man of the house.” replies Beverly with noted sarcasm.

   “Dad, why can’t you just use a GPS like every one else?” asks Joey, the Goodwin’s only son.

   “Do you think Christopher Columbus had global positioning when he discovered the America’s? . . . Huh?” repeated Mr. Goodwin, before answering his own question with, “I don’t think so, sport!”

   “But that was the 1400’s . . . You do know that this is 2009, don’t you dad?” pokes the son from the back.

Amanda:  “Well we better find a gas station pretty soon, cause I have to pee!”

. . . Her brother mimics in a nasal and rather bratty sounding voice, We better find a gas station because I have to pee…”

   With a familiar scowl forming upon her face, Amanda warns “You better shut your face you little dweeb!”

   “Alright you two, knock it off back there,” warns the mother.

   Joey complains, “Yeah, well she started it.”

   “And I’m going to finish it too!” fires Amanda. The angered teenager reaches forward from the furthest seat in the back and abruptly smacks her brother upside the head!

   Joey lets out an exaggerated “OW!” before turning awkwardly in his seat to swat back at his older sister. The eighteen-year-old blonde clearly has the superior position, as she clamps both hands on her brother’s wrist to twist it around!

   Beverly witnesses the act within the rearview mirror, and quickly turns around in her seat to yell, “I SAID KNOCK IT OFF!”

. . . Clark enforces in an authoritative voice, “Kids, settle down back there…”

   From the seat in the far back corner, Courtney West, (Amanda’s best friend from High School), pats the tortured boy on the head in sympathy. “Oh you poor thing . . .”

Amanda:  “Don’t feel sorry for him, he’s just a little brat!”

   Courtney says, “Well, you didn’t have to hit him so hard.” . . . (The flirtatious girl places a compassionate kiss on the back of the boy’s head).

. . . Joey immediately cracks an embarrassed smile, as his cheeks begin to turn red!

   Up front, Beverly suggests, “Honey, maybe we should pull off someplace and take a break . . . I mean our last stop was in Knoxville and that was over four hours ago!”

   The father lets out a deep sigh before saying, “Well, I was going stop just after Macon Georgia, but we were making such good time . . .”

. . . Beverly urges, “Come on honey; we’re well ahead of schedule, so let’s stop.”

   “Ok, but we’re going to get to Disney World that much later,” warns the father with a rather disappointed look.

   Mom assures, “Yes we will, but I’m certain Disney World will still be standing when we get there.”

   Three miles later, the Chrysler Town & Country passes a faded road sign full of bullet holes. The hand painted advertisement said:   

                                                                            “Gas - n - Goodies next right -

                                                                             . . . Last chance fer 50 miles!”

   A short ways down the road, the Goodwin family pulls off into a rough driveway made of red clay and loose gravel. Off to the side of the dusty pathway, was a rickety old wooden building that has, “Woody’s General Store” painted across its peak. There were old junked cars scattered about the property, with three times as many auto parts strewn on or around each of them. An old 60’s era Studebaker tow truck sat idle out front. Between its faded red paint, dented body panels and heavily rusted tow-boom, the truck looked like it belonged in a scrap yard itself, rather than rescuing vehicles from the roadside.

   The Goodwins and guest pile out of the Chrysler minivan and immediately stretch their limbs, before eyeing the landscape with sour looking faces. Amanda says, “Nice place dad; I was hoping to use a bathroom, but maybe these woods will have to do.”

      “Oh I’m sure you’ll be fine,” assures the mother, before she reminds, “You girls just be sure to line the toilet seat with tissue paper.”

   Joey looks over the surroundings and spots an old 68’ Dodge Charger that’s surrounded by weeds. The boy points excitedly and says, “Dad check it out . . . I wonder if it’s an R/T?”

   The father notices the derelict vehicle and comments, “Now that’s one muscle car that’s seen some better days! . . . And hey, isn’t that an old GTO sitting beside it?”

   Joey spots the wrecked “goat” that his father pointed out; it looked like it had been rolled and possibly even wrapped around a tree a few decades ago . . . 

   Clark pats his son on the shoulder and says, “That’s a perfectly good example of why you’ll never own a car like that, while you’re living under my roof.” The father then suggests, “Come on, let’s go in the old store to see if they have any hidden treasures inside . . .”

   As the visitors walk across the creaky wooden porch, they pass a vintage soda machine that looked just as dated as the tow truck out front. The sides of the vending machine were dented and rusty, while the broken glass panel was seemingly held together with duct tape. Amanda glances at the machine and rolls her eyes, before mumbling with sarcasm, “Sun-drop Cola. . .?”  *sigh*

   As Clark Goodwin holds the door open for his weary looking passengers, he yells out, “Hello? . . . Is anybody here? . . . Hellooo?”

   Walking inside, one would find a typical country store that was often seen in poorer parts of rural America. It was a mom -n- pop affair that sold a weird combination of goods: candy; video rentals; lotto tickets; transmission fluid; ammunition; tampons; alcohol and cigarettes. There was a rack of adult magazines mounted behind a dusty counter that was framed by an American flag on one side, and the southern “Stars and Bars” on the other. On the few surrounding shelves, there were loaves of bread mixed in with lighter fluid and motor oil.

   “Hellooo? . . . Anybody home?” yells the father once again.

   The rest of the group look around with disinterest, while Amanda eyes a near-by display rack, that’s stocked full with miniature bottles of liquor. The teenager looks around with caution, before parting her purse . . .

   It was then that Mr. Goodwin spotted a young woman seated behind the counter, just bellow everyone’s line of sight. She had a tangled mass of brown hair and wore a blue cotton dress. It looked as if she were happy to see them.

   “Hi there,” greeted the father. “Could I get a re-fuel out there?”

   The woman nodded her head and then smiled, showing off a row of seriously crooked teeth.

   Amanda speaks out, “We’re looking for a restroom too.”

   The woman nodded her head again and smiled. She tried to speak, but a garbled mix grunts and groaning sounds came out instead. A strand of spittle began to dangle from her lower lip, as she stared at the man with distant eyes. . .

   Beverly nudges her husband in the side and whispers, “Clark, I think she has a mental disability . . .”

   Before Mr. Goodwin can reply, a scruffy looking old man ambles out of the back room to say, “Don’t pay no 'tension to Mary Beth; she’s a veggie.”

. . . The married couple almost gasps at the man’s lack of compassion for the handicapped woman, while the kids behind them look on with shock at the man’s appearance! From the moment the owner appeared, it’s clear that for him; this mess of a store isn’t just a business . . . it’s a lifestyle.

   The man steps up to the counter and greets, “Anyways, howdy, folks and what can I do fer ya’ll?”

   Beverly Goodwin speaks up first. “My husband needs some gas, and the girls and I were hoping you had a ladies room we could use?”

   “Why I certainly do, fine lady!” replies the man, before reaching beneath the counter. The guy hands the mother a key that’s attached to a clumsy looking piece of carved wood and advises, “The ladies room is under repairs, so ya’ll will have to use the gent’s room.”

   Beverly says thanks, before looking at the unusual key fob . . . The woman is startled when she sees that it’s the design of a crudely whittled penis!

   The man then sizes up the three young girls that are standing in the doorway. “Well look at all you purdy lil' things! . . . I bet my lil' nephew Junior wouldn’t mind a roll in the hay wit' one a ya’ll!”

   “EXCUSE ME?” fires the mother.

. . . Just then, a grey-haired woman swept in, wiping her hands upon her apron. Without warning, she whacks the old guy in the back of the head!

   The stunned man exclaims, “God dammit Maw!”

   The woman whacks him a second time and reprimands, “You watch 'yer language in front of the cust’mers!” . . . The rather portly woman turns around nearly short of breath and apologizes, “I’m sorry, but sometimes Wendell forgets his rightful manners.”    

    Beverly makes a disgusted face at the man, before she abruptly turns to gather her two daughters and their vacation guest. “Come on girls, let’s make this quick.”

   As the females leave the store, Mr. Goodwin asks, “So do you sell gas here?”

   The man switched his large wad of chewing tobacco from one side of his mouth to the other, while gazing at the out-of-towner with his sharp gray eyes. “Ya’ll see the damned pumps out there, don’t cha?”

   “Well, I ah . .”

   The old man cut’s the hesitant outsider off in mid sentence, before revealing, “As long as it’s reg'lar or diesel . . . Ain’t got enough pumps fer high test, n' folks 'round here can’t afferd it any ole' way.”

   Mr. Goodwin requests, “Ah, then I’ll take a full tank of regular, I guess.”

   The old man reaches beneath the counter to retrieve a key or something, and slips it in his pocket. He then replies, “Well I guess I’ll git right out thar n' fill'er on up fer ya’ll.”

   As Wendell heads out to gas up the minivan, Mr. Goodwin looks around at some of the collected trinkets and assortment of junk. Joey is straining his eyes while trying to get a better glimpse of those adult magazines behind the counter . . .

   “This is a really neat old place you have here ma’am,” complements Mr. Goodwin.

   The woman, (known as Gertrude), reveals, “Well, once the interstate came in, it brought a lot of those fancy chain stores right along with it. We don’t see much business around here no more . . . Jest enough to get us by, I 'spose.”

   Mr. Goodwin replies, “Well that’s truly a shame ma’m.”

Meanwhile . . .

   As Wendell is filling up the Chrysler Town & Country at the pump, he watches the girls on the side of the building, who are now taking turns using the restroom . . .

   Mmmm, some mighty tight pussy right there, the hillbilly thinks to himself. Too bad the woman’s room is busted; I could be checkin' out their goods through the peak-hole right now! . . . The dirty old man sets the pump handle back in it’s holder, before reaching into his pocket to retrieve a plastic baggy. Wendell lets out a devious snicker as he peels the baggie open . . .

   Back in the store, Clark Goodwin was skimming through some local newspaper clippings that are hanging on the wall. It was then that he noticed an faded looking poster for an old-time sideshow. The poster was faded from the sun, but the father could still make out the fancy scrollwork and old-timey print . . .

    ____________________________________________________________________

Straight from Shady Creek Georgia, PRESENTUN:

      ~ GRIMLY’S WORLD FAMOUS

                                OLD-TIME SIDESHOW AND Museum ~

                          * See a Man Swallow a Sword!

                          * Live Gator Wrasslin'

                          * See the Famous Bearded Woman!

                          * See a Genuien Living Miniture Unicorn!

                          * See the Only Living Mermaid in Captivty!

                          * World’s Largest Colecction of Poisonous Snakes!

                          * Stroll through the Museum of Natural Beauties! (Adults Only)                                                        

     ~ Come entertain YER WHOLE FAMILY! ~

____________________________________________________________________

   “That’s a mighty fine lookin' family ya’ll got there,” compliments Wendell Woods, as he returns from gassing up the minivan. “That’ll be $87.00 even, sir.”

   Mr. Goodwin never hears the two-sided comment, as he remains fixated on the advertisement. Finally managing to break eye contact with the poster, the father digs into his pocket to retrieve his wallet, and then counts out his bills. Clark decides to inquire, “Wow, does this place still exist?”

   The old man replies, “It sure does feller. In fact; ya’ll jest head down the road bout a half-mile an' hang a right at the school bus. Head on up that dirt road a piece n' ya’ll will run right into it.”

   Goodwin asks, “Did you just say a right at the school bus?”

   “Ya didn’t hear me studder, did ya' boy?” fires the old man rather rudely. “Now thar's a sign leanin' against it to lead the rest o' the way, but that place is bout' a quarter mile up.”

Mr. Goodwin:  “And your absolutely sure it’s still there?”

   “Yep, I’m pos'tive,” assures the hillbilly. “Heck, ole' Elmer parked his travelin' show years ago, due to health … But he still opens the doors every now-n-then, jest fer the right folks.”

. . . At that point, Nicole stepped inside the door to announce, “Dad . . . mom said we’re ready to get going.”

   “Ok honey, tell her we’ll be right there,” answers the father.

. . . Wendell creepily checks out the girl’s cute little behind, staring at her as she turns to skip back to the car.

   Failing to notice Wendell’s roving eyes, Mr. Goodwin asks, “So do you think it’s open right now?”

   “Hell, if n' it aint, Elmer will open it up fer ya’ll,” assures Wendell with a tobacco stained grin. “Now that good ole' boy lives up on the family prop'ty with his brother Lester n' the boys. They is ma brothers-in-laws n' you be sure ta' be respectful now.”

   Mr. Goodwin turns to his son and asks, “Well sport, what do you think?”

   Joey shrugs his shoulders and says, “Sure dad, why not?”

   From behind the counter, the old woman with gray hair warns, “Well I don’t know if some of that stuff is fit for the kids . . .”

   Wendell fires, “Ya’ll must be talkin' bout the “Museum of Natural Beauties!”

   Joey Goodwin inquires, “The what?”

   “Yeah, that’s the ole' museum the boys’ built,” replies the old man. He then rudely spurts out, “They got this one gal with the biggest set o–”

   “Wendell!” cuts off the old woman. “You better watch that tongue!”

   “But Maw, it’s true!” assures her husband. “I done seen 'em ma'self!”

   “You better watch yerself Wendell Woods!” warns the woman. She then turns her head to Mr. Goodwin and advises, “Now ya' can go on up there if ya’ll want to. But I would jest keep an eye on the youngin's . . . some of that show aint proper and I’m jest voicin' my opinion as a mother.”

   “Well I sure appreciate your concern ma’m,” replies Mr. Goodwin. “But I’m sure we’ll be just fine.”

   With that, Clark and his son shake hands with the business owners and then turn to walk out the door. Mrs. Woods tells her only daughter to say goodbye to the visitors, but the poor girl only manages an indecipherable garble.

   Wendell says, “We’ll see ya’ll later now and don’t ferget to check out the miniature horse!” as he waves the pair off.

   A moment later, Mr. Goodwin claps his hands together, to get everyone’s attention. “Ok guys, listen up; where going on a little detour . . .”

   Amanda immediately lets out a, “Dad?” in protest.

   Nicole backs her up with, “Yeah come on daddy, you said we were going to Disney World!”

   The father expels an, “Oh hush! . . . Now Joey and I decided that we’d stop to see what this place is all about, right champ?”

   Joey looks up at his father and agrees, “Right dad!”

. . . Amanda and Nikki look at their brother with dirty looks, while Courtney bats her hand at an annoying horsefly that’s circling overhead. (Their vacation guest didn’t look all that impressed with the idea either).

   The crew is loaded up in the minivan a moment later, and the vehicle pulls out of the loose gravel parking lot. Inside the country store, the old man picks up an old Army surplus, Vietnam-era, two-way radio to warn his neighbor. The radio crackles to life with a press of a button:

 *SSSKRSH* …“Tow-man to Lazy-eye, Tow-man to Lazy-eye” … *SSSKRSH*

. . . The man stares at his radio while waiting in silence for a reply.

*SSSKRSH* …“Come in Lazy-eye, are you there?” … *SSSKRSH*

. . . The radio remains silent, before a grungy feedback noise emits from the other end.

*ssskrsh* …“This is Lazy-eye, over”…*ssskrsh*

 *SSSKRSH* …“I jest sent some company 'yer way.” … *SSSKRSH*

*ssskrsh* …“What we got? Over.”…*ssskrsh*

*SSSKRSH*…“Looks like a van full o' Yankees. Thars a guy, a kid, n' four good lookin'

                         fillies that jest might be keepers. Over.”… *SSSKRSH*         

*ssskrsh* …“Alright, I’ll put my duds on n' warn Lester! Lazy-eye, over.”…*ssskrsh*

. . . In the background, Gertrude Woods yells, “Now don’t  ferget; part of that finder’s fee is mine, Wendell!”

   “Finder’s fee?” replies the old man. “Shoot maw … I jest want him to invite me over when they’re all finished!”

* * * * * *

   The Goodwin family travels up the loose gravel road, until they spot a rusty yellow bus sitting beside a hedgerow. The retired school bus looks as if it was dumped decades ago, and was ensnared within a heavy growth of vines. At some point, someone had crudely brush-painted, “Grimly’s World Famous Sideshow” straight aheadą,” across an old piece of plywood, and leaned it against the bus.

   From behind the wheel, Clark Goodwin excitedly yells, “Hey kids, and there’s the school bus!” …(There’s a series of agonizing sighs and unappreciative comments that come from the back of the minivan, in reply!)

. . . The Chrysler Town & Country slows to make the right turn, and then drives up a rough dirt road for about a quarter of a mile or more. The one-lane seasonal road went back deep into the woods, where beer cans and discarded automobile tires littered the weedy landscape. True to Wendell’s word, at the end of that road was a clearing in the forest. In that clearing was a way of life that the middleclass Goodwin family had never been exposed to . . . until now.

 

The last house on the right . . .

   “Well dad, I hope you’re happy!” was the first comment.

   “How do people live like this?” was another.

. . . Those comments fell on deaf ears, as Mr. Goodwin exclaims, “Wow! . . . I can’t believe it’s still here! . . . There should be some real history in this place, huh kids?”

   Amanda replies, “Yeah, it’s a real charmer dad . . .”

   “I don’t know honey, it looks pretty run down to me,” observes Beverly Goodwin. “Are you sure that it’s not abandoned?”

   “No- no. Look; . . . there’s a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser parked right there at that old house,” observes Mr. Goodwin. “I doubt it drove out here all by itself!”

   Nikki pleas from her seat, “Come on daddy, let’s just go . . . This place is really scary.”

   “No way, this place is sweet!” her brother says from the seat beside her.

   Nikki argues, “You would, you dork!”

   Mr. Goodwin and his son are the first to climb out. The two look around at the surrounding landscape, which was littered with junk autos, piles of rusted scrap metal and faded circus equipment. There were several outbuildings on the property, but they all looked weather-beaten and run down.  An old farm house with blistering white paint stood at one end of the lot, while a ratty-looking doublewide trailer sat mounted on cinderblocks at the other.  There were unseen dogs barking in the distance, while a smoldering 55-gallon drum spewed ash and putrid smells from a few feet away.

   The Goodwin boys barely had time to react to their surroundings, when an unseen voice yelled out, “Hurry, hurry folks n' step right up to the greatest wonders on earth!”  

…The startled males turn around to see a sleazy looking man approaching with a cane in hand. He was wearing a dowdy black tuxedo with patches over the elbows, and with a yellowed white shirt that was beneath. His pants were high-waters with more patches over the knees from years of wear. On his feet were wing tipped shoes that were just as filthy and worn, while a dust covered bowler hat sat upon the character’s head.

   “Hello boys, how we all doin'?” asks the sideshow barker, before extending his leathery hand. The old man then proudly announces, “I’m Elmer Lee Grimly; proprietor of one of the most revered spectacles this side of the Mason-Dixon, and west of the mighty Atlantic!”

   Mr. Goodwin greets the man with a firm handshake; introducing his son and himself first, before pointing out the rest of the family in the van. Now that he was up close, Clark could see that the man appeared rather gaunt and had one lazy eye. The supposed “showman” reeked of cheap booze and cigarettes, and there was even the distinctive stench of body odor around him.

   The drunkard looked at the northerner with one of his red-rimmed eyes, while coughing around a lump of chaw that’s wedged behind his lower lip . . .“Ya’ll aint from around here, are ya?”

   “Ah, actually we’re from Ohio,” reveals Mr. Goodwin. “The wife and I thought we’d take the kids to Disney World for our summer vacation. We stopped for gas just down the road here, and I saw a poster for your show.”

   The man makes a funny face when he adjusts his chaw within his lip. He then nods his head towards the minivan and asks, “What the hell is their problem? …They 'sposed ta' be shy or sumptin'? ”

   Joey starts to reveal that the girls were too scared to get out of the van, but he’s quickly cut off by his father…

   “Ah, actually we weren’t sure if you were open, so the ladies stayed in the car,” says the father. (Mr. Goodwin then motions for the rest of the crew to come on out of the van).

   “Hell boy, usually the crowd is so damned thick, I gotta wade on through 'em with this here stick,” exaggerates the man, while raising his cane in the air. “It must be these damned rain clouds that done scared 'em off today.”

   Mr. Goodwin and his son look upward, and there isn’t a single cloud in the clear blue Georgia sky . . .

   The showman adds, “Usually I have ta' shuttle 'em in with a bus!”

   Joey considers that this would be kind of tough; since one of the buses was entangled with weeds and rusting away a quarter-of-a-mile down the road. The other bus was sitting on concrete blocks, just thirty feet away and from the looks of it; packed to the roof with old car parts!

   The announcer looks at Joey and asks, “Tell me son; have ye ever heard of the elephant man from Swansboro?”

   “Why do you have that?”

   “Nooo, unfortunately I don’t,” replies the old man. “But I do have the Incredible Rat-Boy from Katmandu!”

   Joey makes an awkward face, before asking, “What’s that?”

   The barker slyly answers, “Well boy, fer a small fee, I’ll be more than happy to give ya’ll a good peak, jest so ya’ll can see fer yerselves!”

   “Mmm, ok,” says Mr. Goodwin. “What’s the price for admission?”

   Now that the rest of the gang had climbed out of the van, the showman responds, “That will be five dollah for each o' the youngin's, n' twenty fer you and the fine lookin' missus.”

   “Well that sounds fair enough,” states the father, before digging his wallet out of his back pocket. (As he does so, Elmer Grimly sizes up the girls with his one creepy eye!)

 . . . Mr. Goodwin finishes counting out the entry fee and says, “Here you go sir.”

   The barker stuffs the money into his front pocket, before spitting some tobacco juice off into the distance. He then says, “Alright ladies and gentlemen; welcome to Grimly’s Legendary Sideshow and Museum!…If ya’ll would jest follow me, we’ll let the good times n' excitement begin!”

   As Grimly hobbles his way across the yard with his cane, Beverly Goodwin turns to her husband in a lowered voice to say, “Honey, I don’t know; this place is pretty horrid looking.”

   “No, this should be a good learning experience for them,” surmises her husband. “I have a sneaky suspicion that the kids will appreciate Disney World all that much more, once they’ve been through this place!”

   Mrs. Goodwin replies, “Yeah, I’m sure they will . . .”

* * * * * *

The Chamber of Oddities . . .

   The uncertain group of visitors had followed the odd character to a smallest of the three outbuildings on the lot, (not including the barn). The barker launches another glob of tobacco spittle off to his side, before addressing his guests:

   “This here buildin' behind me, houses the world famous “Chamber of Oddities” folks. It’s the finest collection of arcane curiosities in the western hemisphere! Some of these items is so obscure, we don’t even remember where it was we found 'em!”

   Joey asks, “Is it okay if I take some pictures?” . . . (From behind him, Amada lets out an audible sigh at her brother’s unthinkable nerdy-ness).

   Grimly chooses to ignore the female’s rudeness and replies, “Son; ya’ll can take as many pictures as ye want . . . But I guarantee ya’ll won’t ever ferget what’s beyond that thar door.”

   Amanda looks at Courtney and rolls her eyes in doubt, while Nikki grabs her mother’s hand . . .

   Elmer Grimly opens the wooden door and tries to coax the reluctant guests into the dark interior . . . “Right this way folks, jest watch where ya’ll stick yer fingers.”

 . . . The two males step inside to take a peek but the women aren’t quite so willing!  Elmer encourages, “Step on in ladies, ya’ll is invited too! . . . Come, come now - times a wastin'!” . . . (The man presses a hand against the small of the back of the last girl in line, just to simply guide her inside . . . A second later, Courtney nervously jumps at the unexpected contact!)    

   The tourists all stood awkwardly inside the doorway, not knowing where to look or where to go. As the showman passes through, he looks over the group rather disappointedly and spouts, “Well, what are you folks waiting fer?”

   The group watches intently, as the barker pushes the second door open rather slowly. Grimly blocks the door with a wedge, before flipping on a series of dull lights. As the man does so, he knowingly activates the fog machine, just to add to the room’s spine chilling aura!    “Come on in,” Elmer’s voice hissed.

. . . Joey is the first to follow the man inside the Chamber of Oddities. The room was eerily lit with a greenish haze from the same colored lights, mounted along the rafters above. (The greenish hue of the light immediately brought to mind various scenes from the film “Tommyknockers” ). Creatures floated in jars of formaldehyde around him, while assorted birds, bats and even a stuffed crocodile, hung from wires overhead.

   The rest of the group edged their way in slowly behind Joey. The visitors stood closely beside each other, as they peered out in the midst of what looked like some sort of mad scientist’s laboratory. There were various specimens mounted on plaques for observation, while even more critters floated in jars of preserving fluid. Every jar held its own ghastly ambience, yet each seemed aglow with that eerie green light. Among the dead and pickled specimens, there were various metal implements that hung from nails or hooks. Some of the tools looked medically legit, while others looked as if they were crudely created in some backwoods metal shop.

   The barker spouts, “Ladies and gentlefolk, this here is the Fabulous Two Headed Freak of Fayetteville!”   Grimly flips on a light switch at the side of a panel of a three-foot high tank. The hand-made cryogenic chamber illuminates to a greenish hue, as it reveals the shocking creature within. There was an expected series of gasps that soon followed!

   “Oh my god! . . . What is that?” asks Amanda, while raising a hand to her head in shock.

   “Oh no, I think I’m going to be sick,” advises Courtney from beside her, before cupping a hand over her mouth.

   Joey exclaims, “Whoa, now that’s cool!”

   Inside the glass “Freak Tank” is a ghastly Siamese twin corpse, floating in suspended animation. It could only be described as looking like a small child with two heads that were connected side-by-side at the ears!

   The shocked tourists had barely recovered from the first disturbing display, when Elmer Grimly was uncovering another horrific oddity. The barker announces, “And this here is the Incredible Rat-Boy from Katmandu!”

    A second tank illuminated to reveal another ghastly creature, (this one floating eerily within a special orange substance). It had the characteristics of a hairless rat, even though its skin pigmentation was that of a human. The creature’s ears were pointed, while its scaly tail curled around its suspended form . . .

   Courtney whispers into Amanda’s ear, “Seriously, this shit is going to make me sick!”

   The truth of the matter was, Amanda was beginning to feel vaguely sick herself, but the eighteen-year-old refused to cave to the crooked barker’s freak show. She was fairly certain that these supposed “oddities” were nothing more than pickled rodents.

   As Elmer Grimly continued to show off one horribly grotesque figure after another, the Goodwins looked on with mounting dread. It wasn’t until they passed the giant stuffed grizzly at the other end that they were finally relieved that the macabre tour was over . . .

* * * * * *

   As the Goodwin family and their vacation guest filed out of the “Chamber of Oddities,” they formed a line in front of a small billboard that was propped up within Grimly’s yard.

   From behind them, the sideshow barker encourages, “Go ahead folks; choose your pleasure!”

   The hand painted billboard advertised:                   

                      _____________________________________________

                         “Grimly’s World Famous Sideshow” Features:

                                          * Reptiles

                                          * Varmints

                                          * Gator wrastlin’

                                          * Poisonous Snakes

                                          * Real Live Miniature Unicorn

                                          All straight ahead!  ...

                      _____________________________________________

   “Wow!… Do you actually have all of this stuff?” asks Joey excitedly.

   “Well, not anymore young feller,” admits Grimly rather dejectedly. “Gator pond’s been empty for quite a spell now. But I do have the biggest collection of snakes in the entire land o’Dixie!”

   There’s a collective “EWWWW!” from the females in the group, while Clark Goodwin pats his son on the shoulder and winks in a prankish manner.

   Joey teases, “Oh – look at the bunch of babies!”

   Amanda warns, “Do you want to get smacked in the head?”

   Beverly Goodwin promises, “I’ll go to the snake farm with you girls.”

   As the tourists begin to walk off towards the snake farm, Elmer Grimly grabs the father by the arm and says, “Hold on there, friend, I got something extra special for you to see.”

   Mr. Goodwin stops short from the firm grip on his arm. With a confused expression, the father asks, “I beg your pardon?”

Grimly:  “You came to see a sideshow didn’t you?”

Mr. Goodwin:  “Well, yeah of course . . .”

Grimly:  “Now I aint talkin' 'bout no tourist trap shit! I’m talkin' 'bout a real sideshow… 

                the kind a man ought not let his family see!”

Mr. Goodwin:  “Then what are you talking about?”

Grimly:  “This aint part of the reg'lar tour, so it’s not covered by the general admission

                 price.”

Mr. Goodwin:  “I’m not sure that I follow you…” 

Grimly:  “I’m talkin' 'bout if you want to see the really good stuff, it’s gonna cost you  

   fifty bucks more.”

Mr. Goodwin:  “Fifty dollars? . . . Why, what’s in there?”

   “I’m sure ye won’t be disappointed, Yankee,” promises the barker. “Ya’ll look like ye provide fer 'yer family n' all that jazz . . . But deep down, a feller like you needs to git away ev'ry now n' then. Ya’ll need ta' kick back n' let it all hang out.   …Maybe ye go out on the town wit' the boys, or ma'be ya’ll go out by yerself.”

Mr. Goodwin:  “I still don’t understand what you’re asking me sir.”

   Grimly fires, “Titties boy, I’m talkin' bout titties! Big ones, small ones, you name it!”

   John Goodwin looks around to make sure his family was out of earshot, before he inquires, “Right here . . . at this place?”

   The hillbilly brags, “Hell yeah boy; I got more titties than a cathouse down in Louisiana on a Saturday night!”

   Clark Goodwin pauses in thought for a moment, before giving in to his male desires. “Beverly is going to kill me . . . Fifty dollars?”

   “Come on boy,” urges Grimley. “Fifty bucks is jest pocket change when it comes to seein' a whole shed full o' pussy!”

   Mr. Goodwin digs out his wallet to count out his entrance fee and mumbles, “This better be worth it, Elmer.”

   Grimly says, “Why thank ya,” before stuffing the wad of cash into his pocket. He then assures, “Trust me boy, ya’ll will be gettin' your money’s worth!”

   By now, the rest of the Goodwin family had made it to the other side of the yard. Joey yells back, “Dad, come on and see the snakes with us!”

   “Uh . . . Just go on ahead sport and I’ll catch up with you guys in a minute!”

   Joey looks on with a confused expression and complains, “But dad!”

   “No, no . . . you go on ahead with the girls,” orders his father.

   With that said, Elmer Grimly leads Mr. Goodwin towards another non-descript storage building. Unlike the run-down wooden shack that housed the Chamber of Oddities, this structure appeared to be one of those metal “kit” buildings, like one would see in the back of a trade magazine. The edifice wasn’t all that large; possibly 13’ wide by 10’ high and 18’ feet deep, (by Clark’s estimation).  Mounted off to the side of the structure, was a generator and a fairly sizable air conditioning unit. The equipment made a noticeable humming noise, like one would hear in an industrial setting.

   Grimly sorts through a series of keys on a big chrome hoop, before inserting one into a series of padlocks. As the barker swings the heavy door open, he invites his guest inside. The two men had stepped into a small foyer, where there was an easel placed off to the left of black velvety drapes. The easel was bearing a 4’x 3’ sign that reads:

                      __________________________________________________________

   “Grimly’s Museum of Natural Beauties”

                        * No touching

                        * No pictures

                        * Adults Only!

                        * $50.00 Admission

           Yer Beauties Wait Straight Ahead!  ...

                      _________________________________________________________

      As Grimly parted the heavy curtains, Mr. Goodwin looked on rather excitedly, and yet with an equal amount of leeriness. The family man couldn’t imagine what might be waiting for him on the other side . . .

    The interior of the darkened area beyond the curtains had a noticeable reddish glow. Lining the edges of that room, were more than a dozen silent figures. Each of those shadowy figures was faintly illuminated by the burning candles that were mounted on the walls between each of them . . .

   As soon as Mr. Goodwin takes a step forward to get a better look, a motion sensor illuminates an unseen cubicle beside him. Within the Plexiglas booth, what can best be described as a female mannequin suddenly jerks to life!

   “What the…?” were the only two words that Mr. Goodwin managed to get out, before the gypsy fortune teller’s voice spoke through a speaker in the booth’s front panel.

   “…Beauty is the first gift nature gives to women and the first it takes away,” said the voice.

. . . Only the mannequin’s lips didn’t move when she said it. The dummy’s jaw simply dropped and hung strangely open, like one of those creepy marionettes that are controlled by strings. The figure now stared at the crystal ball before her, in sudden silence . . .

Heh-heh-heh,” laughs Grimly from beside him, before the man withdraws a token from his own pocket and drops it in the slot. The metal coin makes a rolling sound until it “ca-chinks” within the deposit box . . .

   The mysterious figure miraculously jerks to life once again; strands of wire raise her hands, as if she were conjuring up some magic, within her glass ball. The figure’s jaw closes momentarily, before dropping slack once again. The gypsy expounds, “You can only be young once. However, you can always be immature.”

. . . The gypsy tilts forward rather stiffly, until she lightly jerks to a stop. She stares down at a point just beyond her crystal ball, as if she’d somehow run low on power.

Mr. Goodwin:  “This little fortune teller booth is pretty neat, Elmer!”

Grimly:  “Yeah, Holly is really somethin' else, aint she?”

   Mr. Goodwin studied the booth more closely. There were thin metal wires hanging from somewhere in top of the cubicle. Each of those wires was attached to a metal eyehook that had been screwed into the seated mannequin’s wrists. Unseen gears and other mechanicals must have been controlling the figure from above! The entire contraption brought to mind a similar mechanical attraction that he’d seen as a kid; it was at an amusement pier on the boardwalk in New Jersey.  Clark briefly recalled the distinct carnival-like atmosphere of the boardwalk, and walking by the motionless figure within her own booth. She could only be activated into motion by the drop of a token into a coin slot. It was a wish/fortune-telling machine called ‘Zena Speaks’ if he remembered right…

   “Heh-heh-heh,” laughs Grimly once again, before inserting another token. “I like this next one the best.”

   The coin “ca-chinks” in place, and Holly jerks to life yet again. “The beauty of a woman is like the beauty of flowers… There are many kinds, and yet each one has…a-a-a-a unique beau-beau-beau-beau- (The recorded message suddenly gets caught in a loop and without warning, Grimly gives the cubicle a good kick with one of his boots!) . . . beau-beau-beau- KA-BASH! . . . Beau-beauty to offer you.”

. . . The mannequin’s head falls slack to the side at her shoulder this time, while her arms remain upheld in the air. The strange position of her head and limbs, made the figure appear as if she’d somehow been deactivated! Once again the gypsy’s glassy eyes stare eerily forward, as she remains paused in silence. It almost seemed as if the life-like figure were somehow caught up in some sort of contemplative moment . . .

   The showman complains, “That damned gear drive must be seizing up again!”

   “That is really neat!” exclaims Mr. Goodwin, before he inquires, “So she’s one of those animatronic dummies right?”

   “Naw, do I look like a millionaire to you?” asks Grimly. “Ya’ll seen where I live . . . An besides; if she were animatronic, she would have been more reliable! . . . Now come on so I can show ye what else I’ve got back here!”

   While Grimly searches around a panel for a light switch, Clark takes one last look at the odd mechanical gypsy. A moment later, the light fades and the pair leave Holly alone to rest within her cubicle . . .

   As a series of red lights begin to illuminate the room beyond the gypsy, the barker announces, “Back here is where the best pussy is at . . . Go ahead n' feast 'yer eyes, boy!”

   The red track lights had illuminated a little over a dozen or more of what appeared to be wax figures. Some stood on square platforms, while others floated in glass tanks, as if they were pickled specimens that had been saved for some diabolical experiments!

   “What is this stuff?” asked Mr. Goodwin with a disturbed expression.

   “These here is the ladies that make up the Museum of Natural Beauty!” touts the showman rather proudly. “Aint they sumptin' ?”

   Mr. Goodwin steps up to the first naked figure, who stands at attention on a small raised platform. She (or it?) was fairly short, perhaps no taller than five feet. She looked to be of Asian descent, with long dark hair and coal-black eyes. Her face was slightly round, while her body was thin and petite in build. With her childish looks, Goodwin might have mistook her for being around Nikki’s age, if it wasn’t for her breasts - which obviously were far more developed than his youngest daughter’s . . .

   “That one thar is our lil' Asian fortune cookie!” brags Elmer.

   His fascination growing, Clark eagerly moves on to the next wax figure, which stands a few feet beside the first. She was a beautiful blonde with an impressive physique that featured a perfectly toned ass and full breasts. The young woman was posed in side profile: with one leg stepping forward; her hands on her waist; and with her hips shifted to one side. The blonde’s shoulders were thrown back, causing her breasts to thrust out imposingly from her torso . . . (The bold pose also caused the bountiful curls of her brassy locks to hang in the air just off of her back, further stressing the figure’s sexy, yet playful nature!)

   The father of three quietly considers:

. . . She looked like a real woman…or at least a damn good mock-up of one! The detail was so meticulous, that the figure seemed to take on a life of its own; from the sprinkling of little brown freckles on her exposed body, to the cuticles on her toes. There was even a light thatch of pubic hair that matched the golden-spun mane on her head! . . . Pubic hair on a wax figure?… Who would even think of that?   …She also had these incredible dark eyes that stared out rather vacantly. I would have to assume the orbs were made from glass, considering how realistic they were!

   Anyway, I was completely taken aback by the workmanship. Elmer even had names for them like Bobby Jo and Lei Li. As we walked along and marveled at the beauty of each statue, if felt as if I were in some surreal dream! I couldn’t help but question: could these be real? . . . But the glossy “film-like layer” that covered each of their bodies told me otherwise . . .

   The pair move on to yet another figure who stands posed with one hand on her out-thrust hip, while the other is braced behind her neck. Little ole' Mary Coombs, (as Grimly introduced her), is a petite redhead with a slightly fuller, yet curvaceous body. Mary has the face of an angel, and possesses these massive tits that sat upright on her chest plate!

   Clark swallows hard in his throat. (The Ohioan wouldn’t recognize the redhead as a popular local waitress that had disappeared from the diner on Route 12, so many years ago!) The man soon finds himself deliberating:

. . . A beautiful Asian, a sexy blonde, a voluptuous redhead; this “adults only” display has it all!  Grimly’s marvelous wax figures were truly works of fantasy and fascination: each had her own unique assets and each looked absolutely real. As I studied each one, there was certainly a sense of both the real and the surreal about them and I couldn’t help but wonder: how did he do it? I began to surmise that Elmer’s work was part genius and part Norman Bates, and I felt a noticeable chill as I walked among them . . .

   “These are quite incredible, Mr. Grimly!”

   Elmer replies, “Oh yeah?… Well wait until ya' see this next one; she done raised the hairs on my back!”

   The figure was that of a beautiful Latina with a slender build, curvaceous bust, and long black curly hair that complimented her dark soulful eyes! She was stark naked, with the exception of her thigh-high, fishnet stockings and the clear platform heels that she was standing in!

   The showman spouts, “36D-24-34, 5’ 5” and 115 lbs.”

   An impressed Mr. Goodwin exclaims, “Oh my God!”

   Grimly assures, “God didn’t have anything to do with those puppies, mister! But I’ll tell ya' what; Esmeralda was a hot little stripper with a body designed for one thing in mind, and that was to milk money out of a man’s wallet!”

   “Gosh, they all look so real!”

   “Oh she’s real alright!” reassures Grimly before urging, “Look at her real close . . .”

   Mr. Goodwin steps up close to the Latina and notices the smell of raw plastic. He then sizes up the woman up in detail:

. . . Esmeralda was standing on a mini-stage and posing with one hand on her cocked hip and the other lost in her glossy head of curly hair. The Latina had this cinnamon skin that begged to be licked, and sported a little tattoo of a broken heart, just off to the left side of her hip. She had these incredible breasts that looked so firm but yet so supple, along with flat abs, toned thighs and a tight round ass to match. Her lips are succulent, and luscious, and they compliment her oval chin. Her deep brown eyes were inviting in the most naughty way possible. When she looked at me with those dark and suggestive eyes, the message was perfectly clear that she wanted it! . . . I suddenly found myself resisting the urge to reach out to her pubic triangle to touch those crinkly black hairs!

   From just beyond his guest, the showman urges, “Well go ahead n' get right up in there boy, she won’t bite you!”

This was when things started to get interesting . . .

. . . Standing this close to Esmeralda, I suddenly noticed that beneath the sheen-like coating on her skin, there were actually little pores! . . . I reached for the curve of the woman’s hip and ran my hand over its bend. I wasn’t surprised to find that her body was cool to the touch, and her skin didn’t give beneath the pressure of my hand.   . . . I began to get a little braver and worked my way down to her private area, where I brushed the backs of my fingers over her “bristle like” pubic hair . . . It was real pubic hair alright! . . . I then drew my fingers across her abdomen, before rubbing the tips curiously together. Oddly enough, the tips didn’t have the slippery feeling like that of having just touched wax.   . . . Again I found myself wondering; how did he do it?

   “Jeez, these are so incredible Elmer,” complements the guest once again. “Obviously these aren’t real, but I had just assumed that you made these figures out of wax. Instead, it looks like you used some type of synthetic rubber or something . . .”

   “Oh we made them alright. Get a load of this one raht here; she done took my brother a whole weekend to complete,” explains the showman. “A nice stout body, strong legs . . . I guess ya' could say she come out jest a snappin'!”

. . . The woman was stretched out over the length of the dais, posed like a model from a dirty magazine. One leg was raised in an arch, while the other curvy limb was extended to its fullest length. One of the figure’s hands clutched a bountiful breast, while the fingers on her other hand spread the folds of her vagina wide open for all the world to see. Her middle finger had been bent and strategically positioned as if it were rubbing at her swollen nub. The expression on the female’s face was unmistakably that of unbridled lust!

   Again, Mr. Goodwin would have no way of knowing that this figure was Kay Morgan, a former social services worker who had disappeared, (along with her new Toyota Land Cruiser), quite some time ago. The concerned woman had been sent out to check up on Elmer’s young nephew, but wound up as an erotic display piece instead . . .

   “And look at these two right char . . . They is real lesbians. I nearly had to separate 'em with a shovel!” jokes Grimly before revealing, “The first one let out a cry so fierce when my brother injected her girlfriend, that it nearly split ma' eardrums! . . . All in all, they was a purdy good catch.”

   Clark briefly looks over the two women, (one a natural blonde named Mary Lou, the other appearing to be of Latin descent and named Regina).    . . . White on brown, the star-crossed lovers were posed in a kneeling position and facing each other; the inward thrust of their hips, smoothly drifting out into the impressive curves of their tight little bums! The one named Regina was petite and brown-eyed, with caramel-colored skin. The Puerto Rican was cradling her lover’s beautiful face within her fingertips, while the blonde had gripped her hands around the arcs of her girlfriend’s ass. The lovers were forever locked together: the blonde’s teacup sized breasts impacting against the other’s 34C’s; each exploring the others mouth while eternally engaged in a passionate kiss!

   Mr. Goodwin, (now more confused than ever), inquires, “So wait a minute; you said you somehow injected them with something?”

   “Yeah -yeah, my brother Lester came up with the procedure many years ago,” reveals Elmer, before he briefly goes on to explain, “Plastination is a technique used in anatomy to preserve body parts or even whole human bodies. All the water and fat are replaced by plastic, yielding specimens that can be touched, don’t stink or decay, and even retain their original shape and size . . . Plus they don’t take up as much space as the ones that’s in formaldehyde!”

   Clark’s heart skips a beat, and for a moment . . . He wasn’t quite sure that he’d heard the man correctly. “Wait a minute here . . . I’m not sure I follow you.”

   Elmer continues on with the tour; acting all aloof when it comes to his guest’s probing questions . . .

   The two men round a corner that heads back in the direction of the door. In this row, there were several glass cabinets and chambers that held even more figures.

   “Now this one right char is permanently sealed in hardened acrylic,” reveals Grimly, before he nods his head toward what appeared to be a solidified mass of clear plastic. Inside the 6’x 3’ cylinder was a nude figure that was held in suspended animation!

   Mr. Goodwin exclaims, “Oh my goodness!” . . . The man steps right up to the odd cylinder with the mixed look of curiosity and dread.

. . . I peered in rather sullenly at the female’s unmoving face, as she stared back at me with a haunting emptiness. Looking downward, I could see that the figure’s breasts were rather small, yet prominent on her thin frame; her waist was narrow; and her hips were perfectly curved. She had this long dark hair that fanned out around her head, making her appear like some mockery of a revered religious saint. Neither her hands, nor her feet touched the circumference of her confines, and I couldn’t help but stare, mesmerized by her suspended beauty.

   The woman, (who was named Christina, as I was eventually told), was indeed embedded in clear acrylic. The female was affixed in place, frozen and unchanging, within her plastic tomb. Now perfectly preserved as if she were a fly in amber, Christina’s beauty had been captured within her prime and for all eternity . . . She would remain a perfect specimen for future visitors to puzzle over for generations to come!

   The men continue on to the next two figures; who both floated naked inside clear glass tanks. These tanks were filled with a fluorescent green substance, and one of the figures was rather unusual, as it had scales . . .

   Mr. Goodwin quickly does a double take. Peering inside the chamber once again, he sees that there was, indeed, a mermaid floating gracefully inside. She looked like a true representation of the mythological aquatic figure. The female figure retained her human head and torso, while from the waist down she was covered in fish-like scales. Her feet were tightly secured within an aquatic-like tail, much like one that would be seen on a dolphin. The mermaid hovered with her arms drifting about freely from her torso, with her dark hair clouding about her face and shoulders. As Clark admired the bare-breasted beauty, he could clearly see why there were so many legends about mermaids captivating sailors, and then dragging them beneath the sea.

   Grimly smacks his guest squarely on the back, before he jokes, “How'd ya' like to hook that little piece o’ tail on the end a 'yer pole, city boy? - Heh-heh-heh!”

   The two men continue onward and Mr. Goodwin presses, “So Mr. Grimly, about the process?”

   “Yeah - yeah, like I said; my brother used ta' jest use formaldehyde,” states Grimly before adding, “…In fact he still uses it for part of the process.”

   Clark peers in on another pickled female figure; this one a rather plumpish brunette with hefty-looking breasts. Her long hair fans out around her head as she floats weightlessly within her murky tomb, just like the mermaid beside her . . .

   From just beside his guest, the redneck continues to explain, “The first step of plastination is fixation. This simply means that the body is embalmed, usually in a formaldehyde solution.   …Once they’re bathed in formaldehyde, they is dried off and injected with liquid polymer. The body can be manipulated and positioned any ole' way that Lester wants, but it needs ta' be cured with gas first, in order for it to harden. Once that thar resin hardens, the plastinated body is fully preserved, n' often with exquisite detail.”

   “Wait, what?” asks Mr. Goodwin in confusion. The man furrows his eyebrow in suspicion, before looking around to try and comprehend the horror of his surroundings:

. . . It took a moment for me to absorb all I’d just heard… I mean sure, a small town is apt to have its own cast of eccentric characters . . . But a couple of backwoods hicks with a penchant for preserving beautiful women and placing them in stasis? . . . And just to sell some tickets to their victims demeaning exhibition, , no less?   . . . For the first time, true panic started sinking in. Something very bad was going on here and I couldn’t bring myself to accept it - even when the proof was floating right there in front of me!

   Elmer Grimly shifts his wad of chaw, and spit’s a gob at the floor. He then looks at his guest and asks, “What’s-a-matter city boy? . . .Ya’ll look a lil' green around the gills!”

   Clark replies with a stuttering, “S-s-so these were real living and breathing women?”

   “Hell yeah,” replies the redneck with a note of rebel pride. “Some ole' boys collect bucks and does and mount 'em on their walls . . . Well, here in the Museum o' Natural Beauties, we display does of a different kind!”

. . . With that said, Elmer yanks the pull-cord on a canopy that covered the next tank. The spring-loaded shade immediately shoots up into a winding roll, to completely reveal a human-sized fish tank beyond. Floating gracefully inside the rectangular aquarium was a beautiful blonde girl that was dressed in a red and white cheerleading outfit!

   “This lil' cutie here is Leanne Fenton,” introduces Grimly before adding, “She was our very first specimen way back in 1980.”

   Leanne floated eerily; immersed in formaldehyde and encased within a reddish back-lit reservoir. The female’s slow random floating was accentuated by the air bubbles that intermittently percolated up from the bottom of the tank. The girl hovered face down, with her eyes open and with her blonde hair drifting about her face and head. Although her body was covered in her cheering uniform, occasionally the teenager’s skirt floated up around her waist, revealing the skimpy white underwear that she wore beneath.

   Leanne Fenton had been out riding around with the wrong people at the wrong time. The high school senior had been out for a simple night of teenaged fun and wound up paying the ultimate price. Now she served as another fine example of Lester Grimly’s incredible handiwork . . .

   As Mr. Goodwin looked in on the poor girl, he began to face up to some regrets of his own:

. . . My heart started racing and I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I immediately thought of my family and how I’d foolishly put them in danger. Was this poor girl any different than my very own daughters?    . . . I couldn’t help but feel a certain despair at the young girl slowly drifting around in her completely helpless state . . . And yet; my mind was still trying to comprehend the thoughtless horror of the Grimly boys’ horrendous activities!

   “Why are you doing this?” Clark demanded. “What do you get out of it?”

   “Are you scared yet, Yankee boy?” torments the hillbilly. “Well you should be! Us southern folk don’t take kindly to your type.”

. . . I flinched at the words. This inbred hillbilly confirmed what I had already known; I was out of my element and surely in danger!

   “Thars two kinds of people in this world,” advises Elmer. “Thars folks that know how ta' survive and those that they prey on!” . . .The man spits a gob of tobacco at the floor, before continuing, “It’s dog-eat-dog out thar mister, and that’s jes’ how this ol’ world turns!”

   Clark nervously informs, “Look, I think I better be going now, or Beverly is going to be pissed . . .”

   Elmer advises, “Naw-naw, now you’ve come this far… Get 'yer money’s worth city boy!” . . . The man steps up on a stool and flips back the lid on Leanne’s tank.  The pungent smell of formaldehyde quickly fills the air.

Clark:  “No really . . . I think I’ve seen enough for one day.”

   “Ya’ll wanted to see something interesting didn’t ye?” asks Elmer. The man held some sort of old boat hook that was almost four feet long, and was now extending the wooden shaft into the murky tank. With some careful maneuvers, the old man manages to roll Leanne’s body over with the hook, offering his guest a better view!

. . . “Yes sir; jest check out the way her tight little panties is glued to her pussy!” exclaims the showman. The creepy old man then confesses, “They aint the original red ones o' course - I got them saved in a box with the rest of my collection!… Heh-heh-heh-heh!”

   “This is some sick shit and you’re a twisted old fuck!” yells Clark, before he makes a break for the door.

   As his guest escapes the museum, Grimly briefly pursues and taunts, “Go ahead Yankee boy, jest cut-n-run! . . . I would have let ya’ll lick some plasticized pussy, if ye' stuck 'round long enough!”  

* * * * * *

________________________________________________________________________

The snake collection . . .

   The trip through the building that housed Elmer Grimly’s “World Famous Snake Collection” would be a short one. Joey, Beverly Goodwin and the girls had already been greeted by a man standing out front that looked to be in his early twenties. As soon as Beverly saw him, she warned under her breath, “Girls, be sure and stay close to me!”

   The young man introduced himself as “Weasel” and he looked like poor white trash in his greasy tank top and tattered jeans. Both of his arms,( from the shoulders down to the fingers), were covered in tattoos. They weren’t the kind of tattoo that took some talented artist countless hours to create. These were homemade Indian ink ones, that featured such pleasant imagery as: poisonous snakes; spiders on webs; skulls; and - well - more snakes. The lettering said such inappropriate things as Born to Kill, White Power, and of course the numbers 666. The guy’s hair was cut into a mullet, and he his nose was pierced with a silver hoop.   . . . The very few times that the odd character smiled, involved treating his guests to a memorable view of his rotting gums and missing teeth!    . . . In addition to his appearance, the guy had been sitting in on an old rocking chair and petting a rather large snake that was coiled up within his lap!

. . . Nikki immediately grabs her mother’s hand, while Courtney hides behind Amanda.

   The creepy looking man stutters, “So I hear you f-f-folks want to p-p-pet some snakes?”

   Amanda teases, “W-w-well I g-g-guess you heard w-w-wrong!”

   In a lowered voice, Mrs. Goodwin warns, “Amanda!”    

   The man gets up from the chair with his snake in hand and gives Amanda a dirty look, before sweeping his bloodshot eyes over everyone else.   . . .“Now I’ll take ya’ll in, but I d-d-don’t wanna hear no screamin' and I better not c-c-catch ya stickin' no fingers inside the cages . . . Do ya' f-f-follow me?”

   The group stands in silence, as if a little unsure that they want to even go inside.

   “I said do ya' f-f-follow me?” questions the man again, (now staring at Joey with his wild bloodshot eyes).

   Joey, (along with everybody else in the group), quickly nod and answer, “Yes,” in agreement!

   The group entered the weathered outbuilding that announced “Grimly’s World Famous Snake Collection” across its peak. Once inside, the worker proceeds to show the visitors the collection of snakes, turtles and lizards. Some were displayed in metal cages, while others were prominently displayed in glass cases. 

   After showing his guests a few Cobras and rattlers, the wrangler reaches into a different case and takes out another kind of snake. This new example had a red body with white and black spots running throughout its length. The guy sets the milk snake down on the concrete floor, where it wavers a bit, before raising its head to strike ineffectively at the redneck’s hiking boots!

The unaffected man laughs at the snake with confidence, while the tourists all take a step backwards and gasp!

   Courtney steps behind Joey’s frame and puts her delicate hands around the boy’s waistline, before whispering, “protect me!” . . . (The teenager braces his stance to protect the object of his hidden desires).

   Amanda looks back at her friend and comments, “You have to be kidding me?… Like that little wimp is going to be able to protect you!”

   After a few moments, the wrangler grabs the snake at the back of its head to place it back inside the case. The guy then moves his group onward to a smaller cage that contains several mice.

   Nikki emits a whiney “Ohhhh they look so cute!” while her mother makes a disgusted face from beside her . . .

“Eeeeeyuck!”

   The worker twists a latch and flips open a door at the top of the cage to say, “N-n-now this next ole girl prefers her prey alive. The snake is c-c-called a black mamba, and she’s one of Africa’s most d-d-dangerous and feared snakes. When hunting small animals, the black mamba delivers one or t-t-two deadly bites and then backs off, waiting for the neurotoxin in its venom to paralyze the p-p-prey.”

. . . Nikki produces a whimper when hearing the comment, while Courtney tightens her grip around Joey’s waist.  “Oh, no!” she gasps in anticipation.

   The wrangler raises the mouse, (which was now scrambling its limbs helplessly from the man’s fingertips). A moment later, the man flips a door open near the back of the cage, before forcefully pushing the rodent inside.

   Amanda makes a disgusted face and questions, “Does the poor thing have to be alive?”

   The redneck gives Amanda a condescending look before answering, “Of course it does Young Miss, thass the law of the w-w-wild.”

   Nichole turns her head away and tugs at her mom’s hand before sobbing, “Mom, make him stop!”

. . . Mrs. Goodwin grips her youngest daughter tight and rubs her back in comfort, before she warns, “Just don’t look honey.”

   “There ya' go,” said the man to the snake inside, before he encourages to, “C-c-come n' get it!”

   Feeling sorry for the defenseless mouse, Amanda taps her long nails against the surface of the glass, just to rile the snake . . .

   The redneck immediately yells in a raised voice, “Don’t you ever tap on the glass, do you f-f-follow me?”

   Amanda had jumped at the man’s unexpected outburst. The young woman rolls her eyes, before moving a few steps back to whisper to her best friend, “It looks like somebody has some anger management issues!”

   Courtney adds, “Yeah, to go along with his speech impediment!”  

. . . The irritated wrangler almost seems to enjoy his guest’s growing discomfort, (now more than ever), as they watch the horrific scene unfold. The snake flickered it’s tongue out at the air, before turning toward the cowering mouse in the corner. Sensing it’s nervous prey, the Black Mamba easily tracks it down; quickly striking and killing the rodent with great efficiency and a venomous bite.

   The group continued to watch, as the mouse’s movements grew slower and slower. Eventually, the rodent stopped moving entirely, though its eyes remained wide open and unblinking, as the snake began to approach its helpless prey once again. Just as the snake was opening its jaws to start sucking down its latest kill, Mrs. Goodwin gathers up her flock . . .

   “Alright buddy, I think we’ve seen enough,” advises the mother in a disgusted tone. Beverly suggests, “Come on guys, let’s go find this supposed unicorn.”

   As the group shuffles back out of the room, the sideshow worker yells, “Ya’ll c-c-come back now, ya' hear?”. . . (The redneck cracks his toothless smile and emit’s a sinister laugh, before picking up a nearby snake to play with).   

 . . . As the tourists walk up to small corral containing goats, the man called Weasel steps back outside to watch them contentedly. The hick then turns to the snake and says in a devious tone, “Hmm, t-t-talk about sustenance, eh girl?” . . . (The redneck then kisses the snake on the back of the head, before petting it gently!)

   Now out of harm’s way, Courtney releases her trembling hands from Joey’s waist. She says, “Thaaank you Jooooey!” in a flirtatiously sweet manner, before rejoining her friend Amanda up ahead.

   The smitten boy sheepishly replies, “Yeah . . . No problem Courtney.” 

    A few minutes later, the group stops to visit some nearby goats and chickens. It was at this point, that Joey decides to sneak off and take a look around on his own . . .

______________________________________________

   The group of  females had finally found the “Amazing Unicorn” . . . (which turned out to be nothing more than a miniature horse, with a cone-shaped sewing bobble crudely affixed to its forehead). The poor horse was in a sorry state, looking thirsty; underfed; and unkempt. The tourists called out to the sad animal, which was looking quite lonely and just cowering in the corner of its corral.

   “Come here pretty horsy, we won’t hurt you . . . Come here pretty girl!”

   Amanda and Courtney had both reached over the guide-rail to pet the poor animal, while Nikki had pulled some weeds from nearby, and was attempting to feed the meager horse.

   Courtney sympathizes in a sweetened voice, “My goodness! . . . Poor little horsy, you look so tiny and innocent, I wish I could take you home with me!

   Amanda says in an equally compassionate tone, “Come here baby, I feel so sorry for you…(she pets the animals muzzle)… You’re such a pretty girl - yes you are!”

   Nicole was now feeding the horse from her hand, while stroking the animal’s neck  thoughtfully. The horse was now blowing gently through her nostrils and had perked up her ears . . .

   Mrs. Goodwin warns, “Be careful Nikki, you don’t know where that horse’s mouth has been.” . . . At that point, the mother turns around to see her husband approaching in the distance. (Clark was waving his arms in the air as if he’d been looking for them for quite sometime). Beverly then adds, “Never mind, your father is coming anyway…”

. . . “I’ve been wandering around all over and looking for you guys,” fires the husband before ordering, “I want everybody in the car - Pronto!”

   “No way!” replies Amanda. “I was just starting to enjoy the stench!”

   Mr. Goodwin commands, “Come on, I’m not kidding around! - Let’s go!”

   Beverly senses her husbands concern and asks, “What’s wrong Clark?”

   The man replies, “Never mind honey, but for the kids and your safety, we better leave now!”

   Mrs. Goodwin inquires, “But I just want to know what -”

   Clark Goodwin cuts his wife off in mid-sentence and questions, “Honey, where in the hell is Joey at?”

   “I don’t know, he was right here a minute ago,” the mother confesses. The woman begins yelling, “Joey? . . . Joey come on let’s go!”

   The father places two fingers between his teeth and forces out a loud whistle, while pushing everyone in the direction of their parked van.   . . . After a few minutes, he turns to his wife to hand her the keys and says, “Listen; I want you to get everyone in the car and lock the doors . . . DON’T OPEN THEM FOR ANYBODY! . . . In the meantime, I’ll go look for Joey.”

   Caught up in the commotion, Amanda asks, “Dad, what’s going on?”

   Clark presses, “Please, just get in the car, ok sweetie?”

   Nicole turns to her mother and whines, “Mom, what’s happening?… Why can’t we stay and pet the horse?”

   “I’m not quite sure,” confesses Mrs. Goodwin, before she advises, “Just do as your father says and get in the van, ok honey?”

. . . As Nikki walks off, she looks back and waves goodbye to the unfortunate horse, which is now resting its head over the rail and staring back dolefully at her.

______________________________________________

   Joey Goodwin had been walking around the grounds and somehow lost his way, when he heard music playing from a nearby garage. The kid peeked inside out of simple curiosity, and saw another male that appeared to be his own age, or a bit younger. The other boy had his back turned to the guest, and was focused on whatever it was that he was playing with.

   “Hello? . . . Is it ok if I come in?”

. . . The boy didn’t answer Joey.

   The visitor walks in the garage a little further and looks around. There were fan belts and radiator hoses hanging from nails on the walls, while stacks of tires were tossed in piles. Joey passes by a box of what appeared to be women’s clothing, judging by the lacy bras that were sticking out of it.

   “What are you doing there?”

   Without looking up, the boy asks, “Who 'er you?”

   “Well I’m Joey Goodwin from Dayton Ohio . . . What’s goin' on?”

   “Ya’ll shouldn’t be back here,” warns the boy.

   Joey explains, “Well I’m on vacation with my family…This is actually a pretty cool place you have here!”

   As soon as the boy looked up at him, Joey could tell right away that something was wrong with his face. It looked distorted, as if he’d been in a fire or if he had some kind of physical handicap.    . . .(What Joey didn’t know, was that the kid’s defect was a result of inbreeding).

Joey:  “So, is that Elmer guy from out front actually your dad?”

   “Elmer’s just ma uncle,” answers the boy. “My papaw’s name is Lester and I help him tend to the critters . . . He says he’s gettin' too old to do it by hisself.”

Joey:  “I don’t think I met anyone named Lester.”

. . . It was at that point that the guest finally noticed what the boy was tinkering with and he asks, “Wow, is that your I-Pod?”

   “I guess . . . Why do you want it?”

Joey:  “Mmm, thanks, but I don’t think your dad would be too happy if -”

   The boy cuts his guest off in mid sentence and offers, “Naw, go ahead n' take it. I got me a few more.”

Joey:  “Wait, you have more than one I-Pod?”

   “Yeah, my papaw takes 'em from some of the people that they bring here, so you kin take it,” insists the boy. “Besides; ya’ll don’t stare at me n' stuff, so I want ya’ll ta' have it.”

   - Just then, a voice yelled out from just behind the two:  “What the hell 'er you doin' snoopin' round back here, kid? . . . Now go on n' git!”

. . . The voice was Elmer Grimly’s!

   Joey drops the I-Pod back in the boy’s lap, and immediately takes off running in fright!

   The hillbilly yells, “What did you tell him boy, huh?” . . . (The angry man reaches down and harshly yanks the kid up from the floor). “Answer me boy, what did you tell him?”

   Joey Goodwin ran as fast as he could. The terrified boy was rounding a corner when he ran straight into a man that was coming around from the other side!   …The two ran into each other with a thud, and the startled kid was nearly knocked to the ground . . .

   “Dad!”

   “Joey, where the hell have you been?” questions Clark Goodwin.

   Joey answers, “I was just sorta looking around and -”

   Mr. Goodwin cuts his son off in mid-sentence and orders, “Never mind! . . . Just get in the damned car; we’re leaving.  Now!”

   The boy curiously inquires, “But where did you go?”

   “Never mind son, it’s nothing we can talk about,” advises Clark, before he has to repeat, “Now get yourself in the car!”

. . . Moments later, the Chrysler minivan takes off; kicking up stones and dust as it tears down the country road.

   Elmer Grimly watches the van disappear in a rolling cloud of dust, before he goes in the house to grab his walkie-talkie. The radio crackles to life with a press of a button:

 *SSSKRSH* …“Lazy-eye to Tow-man, Lazy-eye to Tow-man” … *SSSKRSH*

. . . The anxious man paces back and forth while waiting for a reply.

*SSSKRSH* …“Come in Tow-man, do you copy me?” … *SSSKRSH*

. . . The radio remains silent, before a grungy feedback noise emits from the other end.

*ssskrsh* …“Yeah this is Tow-man, over”…*ssskrsh*

*SSSKRSH* …“Them damned Yankees jest took off n' 'yer direction!” … *SSSKRSH*

*ssskrsh* …“I wouldn’t worry 'bout it. I dumped some sugar in their tank.”…*ssskrsh*

*SSSKRSH*…“Ya’ll sure it was enough?”… *SSSKRSH*

*ssskrsh* …“Oh yeah, they won’t be gettin' very far!”…*ssskrsh*

*SSKRSH*…“Always one step ahead! We sure do appreciate that Wood!”… *SSKRSH*

*ssskrsh* …“Ya’ll jest be sure to give me a peek when they is done!”…*ssskrsh*

*SSSKRSH*…“Hell, Lester might let ya' take more than a peek!”… *SSSKRSH*

*ssskrsh* …“Well I tell ya', I’d sure appreciate coppin' ma'self a lil ole feel!”…*ssskrsh*

*SSSKRSH*…“Alright Wendell, Ya’ll keep us posted now, ya' hear?”… *SSSKRSH*

*ssskrsh* …“I’ll head on over with the tow truck in a bit. Tow-man out!”…*ssskrsh*

   The redneck sets his walkie-talkie down and looks up to see his brother Lester, now standing in the door way. The man asks, “Does Woody got a handle on the sitch-e-ation?”

   Elmer replies, “Oh yeah, I’m sure he’ll be callin' us before sunrise!”

   “Good, cause I already got plans fer a couple of 'em,” assures Lester.

______________________________________________

   The champagne gold minivan had just made the turn at the old school bus in the woods, when it suddenly began to misfire. Clark Goodwin manages to drive the van another hundred yards before it stalls completely. The Chrysler slowly rolls to a stop at the shoulder of the road, putting its passengers into an instant panic!

Joey:  “Dad, what’s wrong with the car?”

Clark:  “I have no idea . . .”

   Nicole begins to plead, “Dad, please tell me we’re not going back! . . . I don’t want to see those bad people ever again!”

Clark:  “No, we’re definitely not going back there!”

   “We’re not out of gas are we honey?” questions Mrs. Goodwin. “I thought you were going to fill up back at that country store?”

   Mr. Goodwin flashes his wife a dirty look, before he asks, “Do I look like an idiot?… Of course I filled up at the station!”

. . . The father cranks the engine over repeatedly for several minutes, but it fails to catch. All the while, his family and their guest complain with disappointment.

   Amanda sums up her concerns with, “Dad, we can’t possibly go back there. Didn’t you see the way that man was staring at us girls?”

   Amanda’s best friend adds, “Yeah, those guys were definitely creeping us out!”

   Beverly Goodwin presses, “They were staring at the girls a lot Clark . . . What are we going to do?”

   A testy Mr. Goodwin raises his voice and yells, “For the last time: We are not going back to the sideshow, so just relax! . . . Now I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation for this, since the van ran perfectly fine until now.”

   With that said, Clark pulls the hood lever inside and then gets out of the van to take a look. The man had barely gotten the hood open on the vehicle, when he heard a loud vehicle with open exhaust come roaring up the road. The father raised his hand to shield his eyes from the setting sun, and saw Wendell Woods approaching in his old and rusty tow truck!

   The old Studebaker comes to a squeaking and rumbling halt right there in the road. Wendell yells out the window and jokes, “Well hell boy; ya’ll aint gonna get ta' see no miniature horse, jest sittin' thar on the side o' the road!”

   “Yeah well, I’m glad somebody can laugh about it,” says Clark. “Unfortunately, we’re the ones who are stuck out here with a broken vehicle.”

   Wendell Woods steps down from the tow truck to take a look. The man scans over the engine compartment and complains, “Looks like a damned spaghetti fac'try in here! . . . Ya' know; that’s why I like ma' ole Studebaker right char . . . You can climb right in beside that thar motor n' get to it! . . . No sir, they don’t build 'em like that no more!”

   Clark looks at the outdated vehicle and responds, “Yeah, I’m sure there’s a good reason for that . . . Now are you sure you just didn’t sell me some bad gas or something?”

   Wendell unexpectedly slams the hood of the van shut, before spitting a gob of tobacco on the ground at Clark’s feet. With a dead-serious look, the man says, “What'r ya tryin' to say boy?”

   Clark’s voice stumbles a bit as he says, “Well… I’m… just saying… (shrugs shoulders) maybe they delivered some bad gas or something.”

   Wendell steps up to within a few inches of Clark’s face and he says, “I got no bad gas son. Now I’m awfully sorry 'bout 'yer misfortune, but don’t cha ever call me no crook now, ya' hear?”

   Clark quickly apologizes and says, “Ok look; it’s been a long day on the road and maybe I’m getting a little testy. Just give me a tow back to your garage, and I’ll see if I can’t get a cab to take us back into town.”

   “And how do you plan at do that?” asks the hillbilly. “Ya' gonna walk to the nearest phone booth? …'Cause pretty much all o' Hatchapee County is a dead zone, buddy.”

   “Well can’t you just drive me to a phone booth?” requests Clark. “This way, I can call a dealership to come out and pick it up. I can get a hotel room for a day or so, until they have it fixed . . . I’ll make it worth your while!”

   Wendell switches his chunk of tobacco from one cheek to the other, before confessing, “I kinda like you boy . . . Now I couldn’t let some dealership rake ya' over the coals like that! Hell, they’ll charge ya' an arm n' a leg to fix this here car. . .  Jest let me take her back to my garage an I’ll have a look, 'aiiight?”

   Convinced that he didn’t have much of a choice, Mr. Goodwin agrees to a tow back to the shop, and to allow Wendell to take a crack at fixing the van. On the way over, the hillbilly advises, “Now the missus has got a couple a rooms out behind the store, that she used to rent out ta' travelers. Ya’ll can stay fer the night, till I get the chance to look at 'yer vehicle.”

   Clark replies, “Well I sure do appreciate that Wendell . . . And once again; I’m awfully sorry about accusing you of selling bad gas back there . . . It’s been a stressful day!”

   Woody agrees, “Well o' course it has! . . . Hell that’s an awfully long drive fer a fella in one day! . . .  Now ya’ll jest git 'yer stuff unpacked, gitcha some rest, n' I’ll go ahead n' handle the rest, neighbor.”

* * * * * *

______________________________________________

   Now back at the cabins, the Goodwin family began unloading their luggage from the roof racks of the van, and lugging it into their respective cabins. Joey spots Courtney having trouble with a particularly large suitcase, and like a true gentleman, he offers his assistance . . .

“Let me help you with that,” says the boy, as he relieves the suitcase from Courtney’s hands, and then grips it with his own.

   “Oh how sweet,” says the girl, while letting out a giggle that sounded more appropriate for a girl almost half her age.

   As the two approach the steps of the girls’ cabin, Joey courteously allows the female to go first. (There was a method to his madness, as Courtney’s perfect butt was nearly at eye level with his head as he followed her up the front porch steps!) . . . The girl then returns the favor, by opening and then holding the cabin door wide, as the young man happily lugs her suitcase inside. (The old wooden door was spring-loaded and makes a noticed creaking sound in protest). A moment later, the screen door creaks open and then slams shut, as the two burst outside and raced each other back to the van. (The young boy makes it to the van first, but only to find that the girl had only one bag left). Joey eagerly offers to take that suitcase inside for his princess as well . . .

   “Nah, it’s cool, I think I got this one,” assures Courtney, (but not before she motions to the boy to come hither with her finger!)

   Joey sort of sticks his chest out a little further, as if showing the object of his affections that he’s up to the task . . .

   The young woman urges, “I said to come here, silly!”

   The naive boy approaches and unexpectedly gets a juicy peck on the cheek! Joey’s boyish face quickly turns red, as he flashes an embarrassed smile . . .

   Courtney says, “Thaaank yooou Joey!” in her coquettish way, before climbing back up the cabin steps.

   The smitten teenager watches the most beautiful girl in the world now swinging the creaky door open, before she vanishes through the doorway of her cabin. He soon thinks to himself, man I just love to watch her walk!

   Meanwhile, Wendell was trying to score his own brownie points . . .

   “Hi Nikki.”


   Nicole’s heart skipped a beat, when she heard the stranger use her nickname. Caught off guard, she tilted her head, and arched an eyebrow.

   The old man inquires, “Ya’ll need help with that Miss?”

   The old man had stepped directly in front of the girl, seemingly to block her path to the cabin. It was the first time the teenaged girl got a real close look at the guy . . . There were dark circles under his eyes that gave him a dour look - a look that almost seemed to reinforce his unsociable ways. His jaw line was straight and sunken - almost to the point of looking skeletal.   . . . For a moment, the two of them only stared at each other, and nothing was said. Nikki sensed that this is what people meant by the term “awkward silence” . . . The girl felt as if the hillbilly were standing a little closer than she felt comfortable with, and took a step back.

   It was when the man reached for her suitcase and offered, “Let me help ya' out with that thar suitcase, sweetie.”

   As the man had leaned over Nicole, she could smell the grain alcohol on his breath. She quickly picks up the bag and says, “No thank you, Mr. Woods. It’s only one piece of luggage, so I can manage.”

   With her suitcase in hand, the girl quickly runs off from the hillbilly. Nicole sidesteps her brother at the base of the stairs, before darting inside to the safety of the girls’ cabin.

   Joey just happened to catch the uncomfortable moment between his sister and the weird hick, and noticed that Wendell now looked up at the cabin, as if he’d somehow managed to do something completely unwelcome.

   That was when the man noticed Joey standing there. “That sister Nikki of yours is quite the shy one.”

   “Oh, yeah…I saw that,” advises the boy. “Nicole’s not very talkative around strangers.”

   “Huh . . . Well that’s a damned shame,” says Wendell. “Well I 'spose I’ll go clean out a spot in the garage, sos I 'kin start on ya’lls van.” . . . The man then tips his orange hunter’s cap and flashes his rotting smile, before saying, “Ya’ll enjoy 'yer evenin' now.”

   As Wendell was walking off, the cabin door creaks open and then slams, as Amanda sprints down the stairs to retrieve a missing purse. As the female nears her brother, she slows to ask, “What did that creep want?”

   Joey replies with a suspicious tone, “Mmm, I’m not exactly sure . . .”

   “Well don’t even talk to him,” suggests his sister. “It only encourages them.”

______________________________________________

   Although Gertrude Woods took great care to make the Goodwin family feel at home in their meager quarters, the complaints were rampant from the moment the old lady left . . .

Amanda:  “Dad, you can’t possibly be serious?… I can’t even “twitter” my boy friend!”

Courtney:  “There’s no cable either! . . . We’re going to miss “The Hills!”

Nikki:  “They don’t even have air-conditioning!”

   “This totally sucks ass,” says Amanda in protest. “There’s no frickin' way I’m staying in this dump!”

   Beverly Goodwin warns, “You better watch your mouth young lady!

   “But Mom!”

“Alright that’s enough!” yells Mr. Goodwin. “Now this is just a small set-back that we will have to deal with. We’ll stay here until morning and hopefully by then, the mechanic will have figured out what’s wrong with the van.”

   Amanda criticizes, “But dad, that old mechanic guy is just as creepy as those other hicks at the sideshow!”

   Mr. Goodwin fires, “It’s not up for discussion!…Now Joey and I will take cabin #1  and you gals can take cabin #2.” 

 . . .With that said, Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin kissed each other goodnight. Beverly then ordered her girls into their cabin, while Clark and his son retired to cabin #1.

   Once inside the cabin, Amanda opens her suitcase and begins removing her top. She soon turns to her friend and mumbles beneath her breath, “This is total bullshit!”

   “Nah, it’s no biggie,” assures Courtney as she’s pulling off her pink sweat pants.

   Mrs. Goodwin overhears the girls’ conversation and comments, “It’s not like your father planned any of this, so I suggest you lose the attitude young lady.”

   Amanda makes a sour expression and threatens, “I swear to God; if I find one single cockroach in my bed, I’m walking back into town!”

. . . As the ladies continue their banter, they have no idea that they are being watched from outside . . .

   Although the shades on cabin #2 were pulled down, Wendell Woods had still managed to find a gap to peek through. He had waited outside in the darkness for a good fifteen minutes and didn’t see anything.  The old man had grown impatient and was about to give up hope, when the females inside began undressing for the night. Luckily, the girls had left the lights on, and the hillbilly could clearly see their figures!   . . . The younger ones had tanned skin and hot little bodies, featuring perky tits and firm little asses. Even the mother was hot, although she was wearing a nightshirt type thing that hung at mid thigh. But even still; seeing four females standing around in their bras and panties was more than Wendell had hoped for!

   Suddenly, the mouthy one with the bleached blonde hair, (was her name Amanda?), approaches the window!…Fearing that he might be seen, the peeping-tom quickly backs away from the window.    . . .The man lingers in the shadows for a moment, before slowly leaning towards the window again, just to sneak another peek. What Wendell saw next was a living wet dream! The blonde was leaning over and digging through her suitcase, with her full breasts nearly pouring out of her foundation! The young woman then straightens her back, before twisting her torso from side-to-side, in a quick workout session. Shortly afterwards the young lady reaches around her back next, to unhook her brassiere. Once released from the restrictions of her bra, the teenager’s breasts sprung free and appeared much bigger than the redneck had imagined. Her full tits looked perfectly round and featured areoles that sat up high on their slopes!   . . . Unfortunately, the eighteen-year-old pulled a black t-shirt down over herself just a moment later.

. . . Lester would remain there; standing in the moonlight and peeking through the window, until the lights were finally turned off a short time later.

   Meanwhile…

   In the cabin next door, the males were doing some bonding of their own. Clark had already apologized to his son for yelling at him earlier.

   Joey accepts the apology and says, “That’s ok dad, and thanks for taking me to the sideshow. It was actually kinda cool! Well . . . up until we broke down on the side of the road, anyway.”

   Mr. Goodwin replies, “Well, hopefully Wendell will have the van fixed by the early morning. If not, I’ll have to get somebody in town to tow the car back to the nearest dealership and have them take a look at it.”

   The teenager admits, “Well I hope we can still go to Florida.”

   Clark rubs his son’s head and assures, “Well make it to Disney World sooner or later sport, I can promise you that!”

   “Yeah, I know . . . Goodnight dad.”

    “Yep, goodnight son.”

* * * * * *

Walking in the moonlight . . .

   By now, everyone had retired to their respective sleeping quarters for the night and they were soon sound asleep. In the girl’s cabin, Nikki and Mrs. Goodwin were sleeping on bunk beds in the single bedroom. Amanda was on one ratty looking couch in her sleeping bag, while her best friend was curled up in her own bag on a couch across the room.

   Courtney was sound asleep in her half-shirt and sleep shorts, and was in the middle of a pleasant dream. But then she suddenly found it difficult to breathe, and the teenager suddenly awoke to find a hand cupped over her mouth! . . . The terrified girl lets out a muffled “MMMMPPH!”

   “SSHHH…sshhhh…sshhh!… It’s ok.”

. . . Courtney looked up in surprise, to find Amanda leaning over her! “Mandy – you scared the living shit out of me!”

   “SSHHH! . . .You have to be quiet,” whispers Amanda. “Come on.”

. . . As the two girls sneak out onto the porch and then down the steps of the cabin, Amanda confesses, “I couldn’t sleep!”

   Courtney asks, “Where are we going?”

   Her best friend reaches into the pockets of her white sweatpants and pulls out two mini-bottles of liquor. The blonde hands one to her guest, before opening the other for herself.

   “Oh my God!” exclaims Courtney. “Where did you find these?”

   “Find them?… Sweetie, I stole these from that country store when we were in there this afternoon,” explains Amanda. “That old geezer had his back turned, and I slipped two of them into my purse!”

   Courtney laughs a little loudly and asks, “Are you out of your fucking mind? . . . Especially with these mountain-type people creeping around?”

“SSHHH! . . . Not so loud,” whispers Amanda. “Lets go up by that tree line over there, so we don’t awaken anybody.”

   The two teenagers tiptoe through the damp grass in the moonlight, talking about boys and giggling along the way.

   The girls were in the middle of a conversation when Amanda asks, “So what’s going on between you and my brother? . . . I see the way he constantly looks at you!”

   “Oh stop!” spouts the other teenager. “I’m just being a flirt, that’s all . . . I didn’t mean anything by it!” . . . Courtney takes a swig off of her mini-bottle of Jack Daniels, before deciding to add, “Besides; he’s a cutie-pie and soon that boy is going to grow up into quite the little heartbreaker, you watch.”

   “My little brother; a heartbreaker?” asks Amanda in a doubtful tone. “Hah-hah, now that’s pretty funny!”

   “You just wait, and you’ll see!” the girl promises.   . . . Courtney begins to rub her bare arms from a slight chill, and the imprint of her nipples can be clearly seen in her white half-shirt. The brunette then asks, “So how are things going with this new guy you met?”

   “Who, Kenny? . . . Things are actually moving right along with him,” Amanda admits, before she gets an excited look. “Oh my gosh, I’ve been so totally waiting to tell you this: we’ve actually been doing the oral sex thing!”

   “What?”

   “Yeah, we actually started a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been dying to tell you!” confesses the teen.

   Courtney exclaims, “I can’t believe you’ve been holding out on me for all of this time!” The girl playfully punches Amanda in the arm, before she inquires, “So what’s it like giving oral sex anyway? . . . I mean, I’ve never done it, but I was just wondering what it was like when you do it to a guy… or vice versa. Does it taste, you know . . . like really gross?”

   Amanda admits, “Actually, it’s not all that bad. The penis does have a salty taste. It’s the jism that comes out of it, that can taste rank sometimes. The sensation is kinda like having chocolate pudding in your mouth.”

   Amanda’s friend makes a funny face and inquires, “Like as in those little snack-pack chocolate pudding things?”

   “Yeah exactly, . . . At least that’s what it reminded me of,” confesses Amanda. “But as far as the taste thing goes; I’ve found that if I swallow it right down, it doesn’t seem to bother me quite as much . . .”

   Courtney questions, “Wait, you actually swallow it?” . . .“EWWW!”

   Amanda criticizes, “Oh, don’t be such a baby! . . . Besides, I kind of enjoy watching him writhe around in pleasure, while he’s under my control . . . Oh and when they orgasm, its totally hot just to see how blown away they are! . . . Just the sound of him moaning and the look of enjoyment on his face - it’s a total turn-on for me!

   Amanda turns her back to her friend for a moment, just to stare out at the full moon. While looking up at the glowing orb, the blonde goes on to explain, “The best part was when he did it to me, and let me tell ya'; oral sex is fucking amazing! . . . It’s seriously better than what I thought it would be! . . . I knew I wanted it to happen very badly and I was literally quivering with desire, when Kenny started licking me with his tongue… He’s so fantastic and the sensation was so incredible that I thought I would just melt. I’m still not exactly sure what my boyfriend did, but I know I can’t wait for him to do it again!”

   As Amanda turns back around, she suggests, “See, that’s exactly why you need to find yourself a decent-”

. . . The blonde stops in mid-sentence when she finds that her schoolmate was no longer there!

   “Courtney? . . . Courtney honey, where are you?”  

   Amanda looks around the immediate area, expecting to see her friend squatting down to pee, or even just trying to be a smart ass or something. In a slightly louder and much more worried voice, the blonde yells out, “Seriously girl, I don’t need you fucking around with me . . . especially in this dump!   . . . Come on Courtney, this isn’t even funny anymore!”

   The young woman hears a snapping sound off to her left, as if someone had stepped on a twig. She turns to look in the direction of the sound, but is unexpectedly grabbed from behind. The frightened teenager gasps in surprise as a hand clamps over her mouth to muffle her scream. Amanda’s breasts heave against her tank top as she struggles against her attacker, but her efforts are in vain. A needle suddenly pierces the skin of her neck, then a cold sensation of numbness spreads from the point of injection, and in less than a minute the blonde slows into a frozen position! . . . A moment later, the paralyzed victim is quietly dragged off into the darkness…

* * * * * *

   Joey Goodwin had been tossing and turning in bed and trying to get back to sleep for quite sometime now. It was around 2:00 a.m. when the teenager arched his head up to look at the alarm clock. (Initially, he was having a pleasant dream about Courtney, but then he was awakened by the slam of a door).   . . . Finally giving in to his restlessness, the boy quietly arose from his bed, (taking care not to awaken his father from his sleep). It was a full moon out, so naturally the kid looked out the cabin window in curiosity. The moonlight was casting a faint glow out over the junk cars that were sitting around Wendell Wood’s property.

   Suddenly, the boy hears a familiar creaking noise and then another slam of a wooden screen door. (He could have almost sworn that it came from one of the nearby cabins). And then, from the corner of his eye, Joey thought he saw movement. His heart sank and the kid swallowed hard in his throat . . . That was when he saw the movement again. There was a man carrying something that was heaped over his shoulder, and he was coming from the direction of the girls’ cabin! Now in a panic, the kid immediately runs over to awaken his father . . .

   “Dad . . . Dad wake up!” pleads the boy as he’s shaking his father. “Come on dad you have to get up! . . . Dad get up!

   Clark Goodwin rolls over groggily and asks, “What? . . . What is it?”

   “I think there’s somebody creeping around outside!”

   Mr. Goodwin surmises, “It’s probably just Wendell out there getting some parts.”

   “No you don’t understand; I saw some guy carrying something over his shoulder out there!…It looked like he was coming from the girls’ cabin!”

   The boy’s father wearily rubs his eyes and orders, “Go back to bed Joey . . . NOW!

   Joey turns a small nightlight on, before creeping across the room and returning back to his bed. He tried to forget about the whole ordeal, trying to convince himself that it was just a bad dream…but was it? Consequently, it would be a long time before he got back to sleep . . .

____________________________

   It was sometime around dawn, that very morning, when Joey Goodwin awoke to someone shaking him vigorously. “Joey, wake up. We have to go look for the girls, now get up!” . . . (The teenager just manages to grumble from his lack of rest).

“I said get your ass up! We have to go look for your mother and the girls!” the voice prodded again.

. . . Joey manages to roll over and open one eye. It was just long enough to see that his father was now standing over and surveying him in a stern manner. The kid yanks the covers back and says, “All right, all right . . . I’m up!”

   Mr. Goodwin begins pacing back and forth nervously, before pausing to look out the front windows of the cabin.

   “So where are they dad?” the kid asks, while pulling on his clothes.

   His father replies, “I don’t know Joey, but I’m sure as hell going to find out!”

______________________________________________

Meanwhile . . .

   The Grimly brothers, Wendell Woods and his wife were all coming up with their own plan. With the Goodwin females already out of the way, the hillbillies had to deal with the remaining males to make their fiendish plot complete!

  Lester Grimly turns to Elmer and his brother-in-law and suggests, “You folks go ahead n' take care of the boy an his old man. I’m gonna head on back to the barn and make sure our pretty guests is all nice n' comfy!”

   Elmer lets out a  sinister laugh and replies, “Now ya’ll be sure ta save me n' Wendell a little piece a' that now, ya' hear?”

   Lester assures, “There’ll be plenty a time ta' git 'yer rocks off later . . . Ya’ll jest be sure ta' git them fellers out o' the way first!”

______________________________________________

   Clark and his son had searched the cabin and immediate area looking for their missing family. When they were nowhere to be found, Mr. Goodwin became even more suspicious . . .

   “I find it hard to believe that they would have just taken a walk into town,” says the father, (still scouring the area with his eyes).

   “Well where could they be dad?”

   Mr. Goodwin replies, “I don’t know son, but we have to find them and get as far away from here as possible!”

   It was a short time later when Clark began pounding on the front door of Wendell Wood’s run-down looking house. From the other side of the door, a voice yells, “Who goes there?” . . .The floodlight suddenly illuminates the front porch area, and the door swings open . . .

   Wendell Woods stands in the doorway with a double-barreled shotgun in his hands and questions, “What in hell ya’ll doin' beatin' on ma door at this hour, boy?”

   Mr. Goodwin apologizes for waking the man this early in the morning, before going on to explain, “I’m looking for my wife and the girls . . . Have you seen them by chance?”

Woody:  “Well hell; they should still be sleepin' in thar cabin!”

Clark:  “No they’re not, I already checked.”

Woody:  “So what are ya' sayin' boy?”

   Clark reveals rather hesitantly, “I . . . I think their disappearance might have to do with something that I saw in Elmer Grimly’s museum yesterday!”

   Wendell replies, “Mister . . . It has everything to do with it!”

   Clark gets a troubled look and he questions, “What in the hell is that supposed to mean? . . . What did you do with my wife and the girls?”

   From just behind her husband, Gertrude Woods explains, “Well, our family tree don’t have too many branches!”

   Joey inquires, “Dad, what does she mean by that?”

   Wendell clarifies, “Ole' Lester likes to rotate his stock to keep the museum fresh, you see . . . An when he seen them young girls of yours, we jest knew he’d have ta' have 'em for his collection!”

   Gertrude decides to add, “An that thar purdy lil wife of yers will pro'bly make a nice edition as well!”

   Before Mr. Goodwin has time to react, Wendell swings the butt of his shotgun through the air and whacks his guest in the back of his head. Clark drops to the ground like a sack of potatoes, while Joey looks on in shock!   . . . Wendell then hands the shotgun to his wife and orders, “Keep that thar on the boy, n' if he tries ta' run, jest shoot 'em in the back!”

   Joey Goodwin yells in terror, “Dad! . . . Dad are you all right?”

. . . As the kid attempts to aid his father, Gertrude Woods raises the shotgun and says, “Now you jest stand back son!”

   Now frantic, Joey yells at the woman, “Aren’t you going to help us?”

   The old woman coldly replies, “Hell no! . . . I’m here ta' help my kin!… An' besides, ya’ll jest might end up bein' the little boy I’ve always wanted!”

   In a desperate measure, the teenager grabs for the barrel of the shotgun and begins struggling with the old lady! . . . When Joey finally manages to gain control of the weapon, he steps back and waves it from one cracker to the other . . .

   Wendell teases, “Now what are ya’ll gonna do with that thang boy? . . . Hell that ole' shotgun is bigger than you!”

   Joey warns, “You back away from my dad or I’ll shoot!”

   The hillbilly laughs and says, “Quit wastin' my time boy . . . I could be up thar at the barn, jest a gettin' it on with 'yer momma n' them cute little girls right now! But instead,  I’m stuck here jest a messin' with you two!”

   With tears in his eyes, Joey raises the barrels of the shotgun towards Wendell.

   The redneck orders his wife, “Jest git that thar gun away from him, he aint got the balls to use it!”

   Gertrude lunges at the boy and grabs hold of the gun barrels, but Joey struggles back with determination. Without warning, the shotgun goes off; the recoil immediately sends the kid skidding to the ground on his backside! . . . Gertrude is sent flying back against the screen door, where she slumps over in a limp heap!

   Wendell yells out, “What in hell you did you jest do, boy?”

   Completely shocked by what has just taken place, Joey gets himself up off the ground and takes off running for the woods as fast as he can - leaving the gun, the hillbillies, and his father behind . . .

   As the redneck tends to his injured wife, he yells out, “Come back here son, I jest want to talk to ya' . . . It’s ok, I kin es’plain every'thin!”

* * * * * *

To be CONTINUED… wtih some Southern Hospitality?


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