This is a story I wrote about the Ed Gein case. It is not written to glorify the awful things he did. It is written to explore an idea I had of pop culture alternate history. There is a lot of fiction regarding wars and elections turning out differently, here I will apply that concept to popular movies, television, etc. Enjoy

Part One: Hunting Season

October 26th, 1957. Plainfield Wisconsin

Deer season was coming, and Worden’s Hardware Store was packed, at least as packed as a store could be in a town of seven hundred. Irene recognized most of the men in the aisles who, along with her husband Lester, were stocking up on ammunition and other supplies. Red and green Christmas lights blinked as they hung on the walls while patrons purchased fresh firearms for the new season. Deer were plentiful in this area, and Irene knew that soon on scores of properties across town, carcasses of dead deer would be hung up, skinned and gutted.

Irene’s daughter Marion would not be hunting. This little one looked through the comic books while Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes played over the loudspeaker. Bobbing her head to the music, Irene watched Marion’s tiny hands reach for the bright colored covers of the newest issues of Millie the Model and Archie. Then Irene heard the sound of a door opening behind her, followed by the chilled October breeze. Her skin then felt the tug of her daughter, whom Irene saw look up with a smile saying, “Look mommy.” While the small man entered the store, both mother and daughter happily recognized the babysitter that had often been to their home.

“Well hello Ed!” Irene warmly greeted. “How are you today?”

“I’m good, I’m good.” The man said, tipping his red hunter’s cap while shuffling towards them. “Will you be making those Christmas cookies again this year?’ 

“It’s not Christmas without them!” Irene laughed as she added, “You must really like them, we haven’t even survived Halloween yet!”

“They are pretty great.” Ed’s light voice raised slightly with enthusiasm. He then looked down at the little girl. Smiling at her with his lopsided grin he asked, “And how is this tiny rug rat?” Marion giggled as she looked up at her babysitter. Ed was a short man, but to this child he must have seemed like a giant. Making a gesture with his hands, Ed teased, “Got your nose.” Marion laughed again as she put her little hands over her nose. He then waved his hands to both sides of her head and said, “Got your ears!” 

Marion laughed again, covering her ears before retaliating. Waving her own hand at his stubbled face she boasted “Got your eyeball!”

“Oh no, how am I gonna read now!” Ed mimicked being blind, closing his eyes causing the fleshy growth above his left eyelid to slightly flatten. Irene laughed along with her daughter as somehow, he made his way to the magazine rack. Miraculously, he was still able to pick out the new issues of what everyone knew to be his favorite magazines, Inside Crime, Startling Detective, and Man of Action.

“Are you a Man of Action Ed?” Irene heard the voice of her husband behind her. She then felt his hand in hers, before hearing him whisper in her ear, “Let’s get some Halloween candy and get out of here.”

Ed didn’t answer Lester’s question anyway. He just looked back at Irene’s husband, facing him with his meek posture staring at him. Irene tugged back on her daughter’s arm and politely said “Well, it was nice seeing you Ed. Have a happy Halloween.”

Ed’s head nodded, “Thank you, thank you, you too.” still staring blankly while Irene and her family resumed their shopping. 

Usually there wasn’t a line at Worden’s, but now it was that busy time of year. Irene saw Ed ahead of them waiting to check out; he looked antsy, anxious to get to the register. He was just like Irene’s husband, to whom shopping was a matter of going in, getting your stuff, and getting out. Irene was the opposite, some days a slow walk up and down the aisles of the local hardware store was the best source of amusement in this one-horse town.

Soon the line moved along, which appeared to relax Lester. Irene noticed Ed growing still as well; his gaze fixed straight ahead. He didn’t seem fidgety like he is known for being. Now Irene was close enough that she could see Bernice, the owner of the store, working the busy register. Bernice was in her late 50s and known as a hard-working, honest woman. She reminded Irene of Ed’s mother and mused to herself how those in town who remembered Augusta Gein probably would have agreed, except that Bernice was a lot friendlier than Ed’s self-righteous holier than thou kin.

Watching Ed standing alone amongst the crowd of customers, Irene felt a little sorry for him. His poor mother passed away years ago, leaving him all alone in a big house out past the edge of town. That was why Irene delivered Christmas cookies to him last year. Once again, the holiday season was right around the corner, and she wondered how Ed would be spending it. It was then she realized she never thanked him for helping her husband with some odds and ends around the house.

“Ed?” He looked startled as Irene placed her hand on his shoulder; but appeared more relaxed once he saw Irene’s familiar face. “Ed, I was saying thank you again for fixing the door. It doesn’t squeak at all anymore.”

“Oh, you’re welcome.” Ed’s eyes shifted between her and her husband as he said. “It’s no trouble at all.”

“Next.” a familiar voice sounded. Ed looked back to see Bernice standing before him. It was his turn now.

“Hello Ed.” the shop owner greeted as Ed put his items on the counter.

“Hello, hello Bernice.” he said as she rang the items up. “How, how are you today?”

“Well business is booming so I’m good!” she laughed.

“It sure, it sure is busy today.” Ed awkwardly said. Behind him, Irene blushed as she wondered if he’d planned to open with that line. It occurred to her that perhaps she distracted him and threw him off his game plan.

“Yes, it sure is.” Bernice answered.  “Are you all ready for deer season?”

“Well, I don’t hunt deer actually.” Looking at the store’s gun rack he added, “but I was wondering about your rifles.”

“What about them?” Bernice asked as she turned around to look herself.

“Well, my Marlin rifle only fires .22 shorts. I was thinking about trading it in for one that could also use long and long rifles.”

Pointing to a Marlin on the store rack, Bernice explained “Well this one should do the trick. It’s my favorite rifle actually, pretty handy.”

“Ok,” Ed nodded, glancing back at the growing line behind him. His hands fluttered nervously while he turned back around. “I’ll take a look at it some other time then.”

The two then finished their transaction. Ed reached across the counter to hand his money over. His rough skin brushed against her soft hands as she took his cash saying “Well it will be here waiting. You have a good day now Ed.”

Bernice then looked past him to Irene and her husband, who approached and put their items on the counter. “See you Ed.” Irene said, but she noticed Ed kept his gaze on Bernice, as if he were desperately trying to think of something else to say.  

“Have a, have a good day, Bernice.” was all he could do. At least he said her name. 

Once Ed shuffled out the door Lester joked, “Looks like Eddie’s in love.”

Bernice blushed as Irene retorted, “Oh don’t tease. Ed’s a nice man, he’s just a little simple.”

Bernice leaned forward. “You know,” she said in a hush, but not too low of a hush that other patrons wouldn’t hear, “last week he asked me to ‘try out the floor’ at the roller-skating rink in Hancock.”

“Get out!” Irene said, aghast.

“I didn’t know old Casper Milquetoast could roller skate!” Lester kidded, comparing the local simpleton to a character from the Timid Soul comic strip.

“Well, I sure can’t, at least that’s what I told him!” Bernice revealed as the trio burst into laughter.

“Can you move it along up there please?” an impatient customer hollered from the back.

“Alright Ronald, hold your horses.” Bernice barked back. The young family then paid for their goods and got out of line. 

“Oh poor Ed.” Irene said to her husband as she walked out of the store with her family. They watched the solitary figure that is Edward Gein get in his maroon-colored Sedan and drive off. “Odd little fellow.” Irene thought to herself. “Completely harmless though. One day he’ll be gone, and people may not even remember him.”

The wind howled as Sally sped down Highway Fifty-One. Fumbling through the radio stations in her dad’s car, she couldn’t find anything worth listening to. Coming across Moonlight Swim, she remembered how her mom loved that Anthony Perkins tune, so she immediately turned the dial killing that sappy love song. While still desperately searching for some good music, Sally recalled from her school days local author Hamlin Garland, who described Wisconsin as a panorama of delight. Kodak country others called it. At least that’s how writers described some parts of the state. Sally cursed her parents for bringing her to life in sand country, Wisconsin’s great dead heart, where the soil and climate were unforgiving. Why did she have to be born in such a godforsaken place? Soon it wouldn’t matter. In a few days she’d be in San Francisco, where she’d be around buildings, around people, around skyscrapers, and the ocean, instead surrounded by these massive red barns and silos like silver bullets that dotted the faded pink soil. 

Off to her right, way off in the distance, the sun was setting below the horizon, dimming the lights of this expansive sky. Darkness enclosed in on her, and eventually she could only see by the headlights of the automobile. Her foot still slammed the petal while her eyes relentlessly scanned the empty road ahead. An accident with another vehicle was unlikely, but there was the odd chance of a stray cow or horse in the road.

She wondered how long her stupid parents would even notice their new Ford Custom 300 was missing. They went to bed early tonight, but her annoying little brother was probably still up. Hopefully he didn’t notice and rat her out. If she was lucky, she’d be out of the state before they even knew she was missing. Then there’d be no chance they’d find her. She’d be long gone, off to a better life hanging out with Kerouac and Ginsberg, writing poetry and performing music.

Her path ahead was clear as day, but it would be an interior issue that slowed her down. The engine sputtered and her velocity waned. “Shit!” she thought to herself. She’d left in such a hurry she didn’t bother to check the gas. The Ford sputtered to the side of the road and now she was in trouble. For all she knew, there was nothing around for miles. Shutting off the ignition turned the air to an almost pitch black, save a sliver of moonlight that shined down from the dead empty sky. Looking out over the surrounding trees her eyes faintly made out a blocky shape not too far ahead. It might be a house. If she was lucky, someone had a farm out here and could help her. If the home was abandoned, she could at least spend the night inside and figure her next step in the morning light. 

It wouldn’t be much of a story if Sally didn’t encounter something horrifying now, would it? Come back tomorrow to find out what it was!

Comments
  1. […] This is a sequel to No Gein: An Alternate Horror, a story I wrote last year that was an experiment I called Pop Culture Alternate History. The premise was what if real life murder Ed Gein never got caught. To understand this sequel it may be helpful to read the original here. […]

  2. […] This story is a spin-off of my No Gein series, the premise of which is what if real life murderer Ed Gein never got caught. These stories are an experiment I call Pop Culture Alternate History. To understand the background, it may be helpful to read my first story here. […]

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