Carried Off by the Monster ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp
Ed Costello and his wife, Delores, sat in front of the television. There were no lights on in the room except for the light coming from the box. Delores was wearing her nightgown and her hair was flattened on one side from lying on it. She yawned and lit a Marlboro and blew out a stream of smoke that hung in the still air over her head.
A talking woman was on the screen but they couldn’t hear what she was saying because Delores had turned the sound down. The woman’s hair was like a bubble that encased her head, with a large curl exactly in the center of her forehead.
“I think her hair is terribly cute,” Ed said. “Maybe you could fix yours that way.”
“She’s a whore,” Delores said. “I’d rather die than look like her.”
“I wonder how she gets that curl to stay just so,” Ed said. “It must be glued in place.”
The woman on the TV stood up and moved to a microphone and waited for the band to play an intro and then she began singing. She opened her mouth all the way until you could see the saliva in her mouth and the fillings in her back teeth.
“It’d help if you’d turn up the sound,” Ed said. “Then we could know what she’s singing about.”
“I don’t want to hear that whore,” Delores said.
“How do you know she’s a whore?”
“Just look at her!”
He picked up the newspaper and looked at the TV listings, leaning forward to read by the light of the TV.
“There’s a beauty pageant on at nine,” he said. “Do you want to watch that?”
“Why would I want to watch a bunch of skinny whores parading across a stage in bathing suits? They look completely stupid.”
Ed flipped channels until he stopped on an old western. He always liked westerns. A bunch of cowboys were riding furiously in a cloud of dust across the floor of the desert.
“Here’s something good,” he said.
“They look like a bunch of whores to me.”
“They’re all men! How can men be whores?”
She snorted, forcing cigarette smoke out her nose. “If I have to tell you that,” she said, “you don’t need to know!”
She switched channels until she came to a movie musical in which a man was tap dancing in front of a backdrop of a beach with palm trees. He was playing a ukulele and singing while a woman wearing a grass skirt did a hula dance all around him.
“Oh, how I hate anything with dancing in it,” Delores groaned. “Just look at those fools! Did you ever see anybody look so silly in all your life?”
“Maybe they wouldn’t look so silly if you would turn up the sound so we could hear what’s going on,” Ed said.
“Why would I want to hear that crap? Just look at that silly whore shake her hips! She ought to be ashamed of herself. And look at that man! I always did hate tap dancing! How could anybody think that kind of dancing is cute?”
“Everybody’s got their own tastes,” Ed said.
“Well, thank goodness I don’t have a taste for crap like that!”
She changed channels again and stopped on a horror movie.
“Oh, would you just look at that?” she said. “That silly whore is just sitting there. The monster is two feet behind her and she doesn’t even know he’s there. Is she deaf or something? If there was a monster anywhere in the house, don’t you think you’d know about it? How stupid can people be?”
“Maybe her senses are dulled,” Ed said. “Maybe she’s a nurse and she just came off a long and difficult night shift.”
The woman, realizing the monster was behind her, jumped up and turned and faced him. At first she thought it was her boyfriend playing a trick on her, but when she realized it was the monster she raised both of her fists to her face and opened her mouth all the way and screamed. Then she fainted and the monster picked her up in his arms and carried her out of the house and across the lawn and into the woods.
“Ha-ha!” Delores said. “That silly whore is getting just what she deserves. Anybody as silly as she is deserves to be carried off by the monster.”
“Turn the sound up so we can see what the monster does to her,” Ed said.
“I don’t want to hear that crap! I can’t stand it!”
“I like it,” Ed said.
The monster carried the still-unconscious woman to his lair deep in the woods. Her hair had turned white in the two minutes since she had first seen him. He took her into a room that looked like a dungeon and just as he started to put her limp body on a table she regained consciousness and started screaming again and hitting his chest with her fists. He threw her down and locked her in while she was still screaming and pulling at her hair.
“I hope he kills her,” Delores said, lighting another cigarette.
When the woman’s boyfriend discovered she had been abducted, he rounded up about two hundred men from the countryside. Carrying axes and guns and lighted torches, the angry mob set off through the town to go to the monster’s lair to rescue the woman. Leading them was the woman’s stalwart young boyfriend, looking dashing in cape and fedora.
While Ed and Delores had been watching, they were unaware of what was going on outside. A thunderstorm had developed and announced itself with a deafening clap and a brilliant flash. In a moment, rain and wind were lashing the house.
Just as Ed started to turn up the sound on the TV, the electricity went off and they were plunged into darkness.
“I’ll light some candles,” Ed said.
“Don’t bother,” Delores said. “I’m going to bed. I’ve seen enough crap for one night.”
When they were in bed, Delores, unable to sleep, lay and listened to the wind and the rain, punctuated by thunder that shook the house to its foundation.
“What if the electricity doesn’t come back on right away?” Delores asked.
“We’ll eat cold food,” Ed said.
“No, I don’t mean that. What if we’re not able to watch TV? What do people do when they can’t watch TV?”
“Count their blessings.”
“Did you lock the back door?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Will you go and check?”
“No. I will not go and check. I don’t much care if the back door is locked or not.”
“Well, I don’t much care, either, then.”
She rolled over on her side and covered up her head. She thought she would go to sleep right away, but the thought of the back door being left unlocked was vaguely disquieting and kept her from surrendering herself to sleep. What if somebody came in to rob the house? That wasn’t very likely—she and Ed had nothing of real value; anybody wanting to rob houses would be sure to pick one with a more promising outward appearance.
She heard a thump in the kitchen and looked over at Ed to see if he heard it too; he didn’t move so he was obviously asleep, a lifeless lump underneath a pile of blankets. When she heard the thump again, she knew she’d better get up to investigate, but the bed was so warm and comfortable she couldn’t bring herself to swing her legs over the side and put her feet on the cold floor and walk all that way into the kitchen in the dark and find that the back door was locked after all.
With a flash of lightning and a rumble of thunder she awoke, not realizing she had been asleep. She looked at the ceiling in confusion and then turned her head toward the doorway to the bedroom and saw standing there a seven-foot-tall monster with massive shoulders. She was unable to see the monster’s face, but she knew he was looking right at her. He approached the bed and picked her up as easily as if she had been a rag doll.
He carried her out of the house into the rain and, although she still couldn’t see his face, he seemed strangely familiar in a way she wouldn’t have been able to explain. She didn’t struggle but found herself clinging to the lapel of his jacket. She nestled into his arms and, except for the rain pelting her in the face, she was quite comfortable.
She didn’t know where the monster was taking her or why, but it didn’t seem to matter. She only wanted to get out of the rain. Chances were very good that he wouldn’t kill her and when he got what he wanted—whatever that was—he would probably let her go.
If she lived through the ordeal and made it back home, she would have a story to tell. She would be in demand for the first time in her life. Newspapers and magazines and, most of all, TV, would want her to tell them what it had been like to be carried off by the monster. She would be the woman with the bubble hairdo opening her mouth as wide as it would go to sing a song for an appreciative studio audience. She would sing either Bye, Bye, Blackbird or The Sunny Side of the Street, exactly as she had always wanted to. And when she finished her song and took her bows, people would have tears in their eyes—tears of love—only for her.
Copyright © 2013 by Allen Kopp