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Friday, October 5, 2012

Why normal can be the scariest state of all

Sometimes, purveyors of horror can get caught up in the gothic (dark castles, vampire crypts, fog-shrouded moors, wolves baying at the moon, stuff like that) or zombies or horrifying underground urban terror pits… all of these things can be horrifying and certainly valid as entertainment, but they all have one thing in common—they’re not real. Oh, I know we can argue about the actual existence of the paranormal (and I have my own true-life tale to add to that particular canon, but that’s for another time). I’m just saying that, for most people, zombies, werewolves, demons, ghosts, and vampires are simply not a part of everyday life, never mind how fascinating they might be.

For me, what’s really scary is the real life, the mundane, the everyday. When something creeps into that world, it violates our sense of what’s safe. Real life horrors, like serial killers and others who prey on their fellow human beings simply for the thrill of it—or to work out whatever psychological kink makes them who are—are, to me, the scariest horror of all.

It’s because stuff like crime and the evil human beings can perpetrate one another can actually happen. For real… And when you set your fictional universe down in some very real, even boring, universe not unlike one most of us plod through on a daily basis, and throw something truly evil into the mix, I believe it can be so much more terrifying than something that might arise from a grade-B William Castle horror movie.

To illustrate my point, I’d like to share with you an excerpt from a novella I wrote a while back called How I Met My Man (published by Amber Allure). In that story, which combines the real-life horrors of home invasion, stalking, and murder with meeting one’s Mr. Right under some very unusual circumstances, we witness real-life horror in many different guises.

In the excerpt below, which I find particularly chilling (and decidedly not safe for work), if only because it exposes the darkness that can lie beneath an exterior that, at first glance, might seem merely flamboyant.

 We finally made it to the back of the apartment and the black-painted door that led into Tabby’s playroom. From behind the door, we could clearly hear moans, groans, grunts, and lots of heavy breathing. “Fuck yeah!” Someone shouted in a deep, bass voice.
“You ready for this?” I eyed Jeffrey, one hand on the doorknob. There was something different in his expression and I couldn’t quite discern what it was. Fear? Disgust? Anticipation?
Let’s go with the latter. I wanted to get Jeffrey excited voyeuristically and let him take his passion out on me. Yes, Old Mr. Lust had crept in and shoved away any pretense I had for romance. I wanted to hop on that sling I knew was set up and feel Jeffrey sliding deep inside me.
I could imagine no greater pleasure.
I opened the door and things were pretty much as I imagined. The room was filled almost to capacity with naked men, of all different ages, and in all different colors and sizes. There were muscle-bound gym rats, skinny tweakers, overweight middle-aged men who looked like they’d be singing in their church choirs tomorrow morning. All of them were engaged in some sort of sexual conduct. Blowjobs were being freely given and received everywhere and they were all in different stages of progress—from the first tentative licks applied lovingly to an engorged purple head, to the cries of an African-American man as he was showered with the loads of two guys at the same time, the semen looking white, almost phosphorescent, on his cocoa skin.
There was a redhead in the sling, getting pounded mercilessly by a hairy salt-and-pepper daddy, who drew his cock almost all the way out, then slammed it back in so hard it rattled the chains attaching the leather sling to its frame. A line of about six guys waited for their turn with the redhead. All of this had me practically creaming in my jock. I looked down to see its cotton surface stained dark with precum. The scene was straight out of Hieronymus Bosch—a gay Garden of Earthly Delights. For just a moment, I nearly forget Jeffrey stood behind me. I turned to look back at him, expecting, and hoping, to see his dark eyes glazed over with lust, his mouth partially open as he panted. I wanted him to pull me into the room, rip my clothes from my body, and push me down on the tacky shag carpeting covering the floor and have his way with me, viciously and over and over again.
But that was not what I saw.
Jeffrey was looking away from the room, as if it were too bright in there, like what he was seeing hurt his eyes. I realized that, in spite of his costume, Jeffrey was not as jaded as I had assumed. It all came together then—his reticence to kissing me when others were around, the way he drew away from me if there was any chance of someone watching, and his desire to get me alone.
Jeffrey was shy. No. Jeffrey was decent, a good guy, one who preferred his sexual congress to be private, no matter how alluring he had made himself look on this night.
I didn’t know whether to be glad or disappointed. Because, to be honest, I was really hoping to wander into that playroom with him, to put on a true spectacle among spectacles and to have my way with Jeffrey in the wildest and rawest possible way.
Yet another part of me thought differently. Maybe this Jeffrey could be your Mr. Right as opposed to your Mr. Right Now. You’ve had a string of Mr. Right Nows, a longer string than you maybe even care to admit to yourself, so perhaps the time has come to find the one.
Isn’t that what Jeffrey had called you earlier—the one?
I grinned up at him. Have I mentioned he was taller than I was? The grin was one part embarrassment for the obvious eagerness I displayed to get in and get down in that playroom, the other was gratitude that Jeffrey was not that kind of guy.
I couldn’t help myself. I took one last, longing look back into the room. Amid the mingled sweat-slicked and tattooed bodies, I saw something that gave me a chill. Not because it was scary—but simply because it was so weird.
And creepy, in an evil clown sort of way.
Tabby sat in a shadowed corner of the room, watching the goings-on with an air of feigned indifference, although his slack jaw and moist lips told a different story. He had removed the blond, pig-tailed wig and his hair was plastered to his head by sweat, which also poured down from his hairline, making his whole face shiny. I wondered how much of that coke I had seen in the kitchen he had consumed. This was not the jovial, out-of-control joker who had greeted me at the door.
He still wore the white chiffon dress, but it was now bunched up around his waist, exposing his fat, hairy belly and a limp dick, which he feverishly worked as he watched the other men sucking and fucking.
With his other hand, he fanned himself lazily, like some Southern belle, with a fan of black feathers.
That’s what really froze me, because simultaneously with the sight of the feathered fan, a few words popped into my consciousness from out of nowhere:
I’ve been inside your house.
All at once, I remembered the card with the feather on it and the disturbance at my place about a month ago.
Could it have been…Tabby?
It wasn’t possible.
The fan was a mere coincidence.
What reason on earth would Tabby have to scare me like that? He was my friend, had been for years.
Yet, the Tabby I saw before me right now was a man I didn’t know. A bug-eyed, drug-addled pervert who, I suddenly realized, held these elaborate parties with their licentious climaxes so that he could get a voyeuristic thrill.
I had never seen Tabby once—not in all the years I had been coming to his wild parties cum orgies—touch another man. Come to think of it, he always watched.
Maybe he hated us all. For touching…
I suddenly felt not only creeped out, but also manipulated, as though all of us here were mere players to Tabby’s fantasy, a real-live porno that he could stroke to.
Did he really think so little of us?
Something else flashed in my mind as well, the newspaper headlines I had seen and paid not enough attention to over the past few months. There was a series of murders in Chicago, all gay men, all alone in either their apartments or secluded public places, like empty public restrooms or back alleys. The press was beginning to call them the ‘Stranger Danger’ murders.

In How I Met My Man a killer walks among the guests at a wild masquerade party, but the reader doesn’t find out just who that killer is until the very end of the story. Because often, what walks in the light of day, and looks and acts just like the rest of us, may, underneath the everyday exterior, may wait a monster.

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