Action packed drama! Suspense and thrills abound! Read the scintillating details! Eat hot soup and scald your mouth! The drama, the horror! Too crazy to actually be real! Stories out of a Hollywood screenplay! Front page headlines! (Danny Dannels modeling Pozzolana and Panorama.)
It was a dark and stormy night, not unlike the ones you read about in old black and white comic strips, like the kind that nickel pulp fiction writers have already written about since days long since past, cliche with a side of cheese, wine, and a violin. It was dreary and black like a cold cup of coffee you left in the microwave yesterday with the thin ring missing, so you can't just pretend that it was from today. And it was stygian black on a moonless night, except for the faint blue glow on the edges of the clouds from LED street lights that beat relentlessly in through the windows of people that refuse to give in, to the stormy blackness and it's long, heavy drops of water beating down on the city. It was the kind of rain that people in Portland, Oregon scoff at, and go grab a taco before heading out for a Mass Effect bicycle ride. Yeah, it was dark, but man was it ever cold.
And forbid the thought of anyone unlucky enough to be caught in its untoward sodden tragedy. She didn't care about the rain though. She paid it no mind, because she was above such petty affairs, as if she was on a different plane of existence. You conveniently forget about all sorts of things when you've been through torrents of salty encrusted downpours that she's seen, and the bagged trophies she's claimed. It makes you oblivious sometimes to the kind of personal pain one only understands when they have felt pain on the inside, the kind that ties all humans together.
She also wore polka dots well, except it was more like she owned polka dots, the way you own a look or a glance, or the way a woman owns a room. They were hers and you knew it. Oversized blank white circles starkly captioned against a blood red field, and the matching bow just slayed me. I was captivated from the moment I saw her, hook, line and sinker.
I said, "Who are you?"
She said, "I'm Betty."
I said, "Yes, you are. How can I help you?"
You got a smart mouth, pretty boy. I could hear you coming. (Hillary Dannels modeling Neon Blue Opaque with Funhouse.)
She said, "Help you? You're standing in my doorway dripping water on my tile. Stop being a moron and put up the groceries."
It appears she hadn't been listening to the story I was telling myself in my head. She never does, but she's learned to play along really well with her majestic broadside interjections into my imaginary life, or perhaps it's my meandering sideswipes into her reality that she finds amusing. Either way, it makes me lucky.
I find wandering around in the rain like a zombie to be the perfect opportunity for fanciful storytelling to yourself without someone to talk to. I like her, even after all these years with her sassy comebacks and so-called facts for her debates with me. Bah!
Like when I told her that we should become zombie hunters. She didn't even blink or look away from her Acer Chromebook. She flatly stated. "I want cosplay outfits."
"Steampunk. I want to build things."
She's always so much cooler than I try to be. I have to work at it. She calls bullshit on me with unerring accuracy. I usually end our so-called debates with "You're lucky I love you."
Yeah, okay, but you wait. I'm in making up new stories in my head and you're gonna laugh at me some more. Yeah, and I've got the groceries, so you just wait, for dinner. I'll have it ready when it's darn good and ready.
"You still talking crap to yourself in your head in there?"
"Yeah, so what?"
"I said shut up."
Better get the cannon, just in case. (Danny Dannels modeling Kaolin and Panorama)
The rain in Southern California is unnatural. It's cold, like the arid high desert at night, except the sun is out and everything is gray instead of being eye-glaringly washed out like over saturated eyes in the dusty wind-blown scape on the in-between decades. And then there is the humidity. It's just weird. When it's not like this, the colors on the mountains cling in layers of browns and reds of iron-stained granite. Instead, the slopes of the desert are clad in green, with vast swathes of brilliant orange and reds blooms painted solid from afar.
The rain is foreign here, like being a traveler in an unknown land without your Frommer's travel guide, but less so, actually far less so. It's more like it's Taco Tuesday and you pull your full on ninja skills to secretly go back for a small salad after dinner is over, only to find a surprise in your bottle of salad dressing.
"Who's been in the Haribo gummy bears?"
"Where did you find them?", she called from the next room.
"In the Hidden Valley Ranch."
"Ah, that was mine. I wondered where that went to."
"Well, as long as it wasn't one of the kiddos, I guess that makes it okay."
"It kinda was. The baby threw it in the fish tank. I thought I accidentally ate it."
"But, how did it get in the ranch?" (tosses bottle of dressing in trash)
"I had a salad before you got home while the kiddos were watching a video."
"You kiefed a salad without sharing with the kiddos?"
I don't know what her reply was, because my head was in the refrigerator looking for another bottle of salad dressing. The hum of the refrigerator and the din of children made for a perfect little storm of noise to leave me oblivious. I was, as usual off in my own little world, thinking about zombies and giggling to myself from the witty retorts in my head that she'll never hear. She tells me I should write these things down, because my words make her laugh at me. I giggled because I amuse myself to no end sometimes. The tapping on my shoulder shook me to reality.
"You should shut up."
You wouldn't shoot me, would you? Who's gonna bat their eyes at you while pointing this other second gun at you? (Hillary Dannels modeling Agent and Panorama)
The refrigerator freezer is a wondrous place to be when you wanna shove your head in a small box and escape the realities of life, like escaping to Wisconsin for the winter, or vacationing in Antarctica on a treasure expedition. Show shoes, a chisel, and just a little perseverance, and you just might recover that chili you put up last month, or run across an errant uneaten tamale. That's when I heard her small voice calling out like an angel, a fiery little angel with a raging demonic side befit her three foot stature, like some herald of noble truth.
"Daddy, Mommy gave us your Haribo gummy bears."
"I see that. Honey, where's the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?"
Betty chimed in, "You take too long at the store. You should tell yourself fewer stories and you'd be faster."
My keen sense of sarcasm detection kicked and I could see there was no use arguing with her. So, I sat down with my bowl of salad and closed my eyes to savor the textural contrasts between the crisp garden greens and the tangy aromatic creaminess of a new and freshly opened bottle Hidden Valley Ranch when I started to giggle again about becoming a zombie hunter.
Yeah, I was gonna be a dark reluctant hero in melodrama action comedy with a cool outfit, someone you could root for, even if you hate them just a little, or a lot, whatever. And steampunk, she'd see. I'd get a cool top hat and we'd make some really cool outfits to go shoot Nerf guns in. It was going to be so awesome.
"You know I can kick your ass at zombie hunting. I get to be the hero, so don't even start."
She always gets me. Damn! (Danny Dannels modeling Kaolin and Panorama)
So, that's how we got started. I mean not really, but who knows. I mean, in 20 years when we're telling grandkids about our adventures hunting zombies, does it really matter? We survived and went on to tell stories and share our brand with the world. We chose to be bold and be notorious, rather than fading away like some wilted wallflower. It's definitely a story about the underdog rising above goliath-sized opponents, and smashing them into bits. It's about being strong inside, in your heart and your mind and refusing to bow to the bullies. Never give up your dreams. Refuse to be a wallflower. Be notorious, and the world will never forget your story. Never quit, and you'll be the one to get to write it. We get to be steam punk zombie hunters in the next chapter of our story and we couldn't be more excited about it.