No Gein: An Alternate Horror Part Sixteen

Posted: October 29, 2020 in No Gein
Tags: , , , , ,

Part Sixteen: Course Correction

August 5th, 1991. Plainfield Wisconsin

While Henry ordered two drinks at the local bar, George felt like he was in a daze, and couldn’t imagine what his father was feeling. After learning about what happened to his Aunt, his father’s sister, George thought aloud. “I don’t know what to say dad.”

Looking up at the TV, Henry replied “Let’s just talk about something else.” George nodded before his father then asked “So what do you want to do son?’

“What do you mean?” 

“You still got your whole life ahead of you.” Henry pointed out, still looking at the TV. “What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.” was all George could say.

“I think you do.” The bartender then brought two bottles of beer. After taking a sip Henry asked “Ever read Joseph Cambell?”

“Isn’t he that philosopher that inspired Star Wars?”

“Yeah, Franki introduced me to some of his books. He says this thing about following your bliss. It’s like, you gotta do what makes you happy. So seriously son, what do you want to do more than anything else.”

George took a drink and then thought for what felt like a long time. Finally he answered. “I guess I still want to do movies.”

“Well alright then.” Henry raised his bottle to his son then realized out loud, “You know we never had a beer together.”

“You’re right, we never did.” George said with some surprise.

“Two shots!” The father immediately ordered.

Two shots were delivered. George watched his father take his shot without hesitation. He could then see Henry’s eyes on him as he raised the tiny glass to his mouth. George could feel his whole face grimace as he barely got the liquid down his throat. He then heard Henry burst into a much needed laugh.

“That your first shot son!” A local patron asked.

“First shot with me!” The proud papa proclaimed.

“Well let’s make it a second,” the man said. “Bartender, three more shots.”

“Oh god.” George’s eyes rolled while everyone at the bar laughed.

“Tonight son,” Henry announced while looking across the bar, “you’re gonna learn the true meaning of horror. I see they’ve got some vodka over there.”

Father and son proceeded to drink and mingle with the locals. Neither revealing much regarding the purpose of their visit. Over beer and pool they mentioned they were originally from a town up north, and were just passing through. George watched a side of his father he’d never seen before,  boisterous and social, and George found himself being rather reserved, not gaudy and demanding of attention. Perhaps, he thought, because he knew he wasn’t around people that would carry a conversation about splatter movies, video games, or Dungeons and Dragons. He was around regular people, the kind he’d usually look down on.

“He’s going to be a movie director!” His father announced to his new best friends. George looked on in confusion, not knowing how to respond. 

“Oh really!” an older woman said. “What do you think of that psycho in Milwaukee, you could make a movie about him?” His father looked at him with drunk eyes smiling while the woman waited for his response.

Looking back at his father, George soon blurted out, “Nah that guy was sick.”

As the night died down, father and son back at the bar. On the television the Brewers were tied with the Baltimore Orioles, that is until Milwuakee’s Robin Yount hit a double to bring Darryl Hamilton home to a 6-5 lead. Pointing to the boxed television set, Henry said “When you were first born I imagined taking you to a game in Milwaukee.” 

George turned to his father and said “We did see the Brewers, remember?”

“We did?”

“Yeah we went to a Phillies game when they played them. You were mad because I was cheering on Mike Schmidt.” George recalled, suddenly remembering his childhood when he actually had sports heroes.

“Well he was the best third baseman to ever play the game.” His father happily pointed out. “Damn, I forgot all about that.” The two then looked up at the TV to watch the rest of the game. Not too long after, the last Baltimore batter struck out, and Milwaukee won the night. Once it was wrapped up Henry said “Thanks for coming out here with me.”

“No problem.” Struggling to find what to say next, he said “I’m sorry dad, I’m sorry about, I don’t know,…” he looked back at the TV hoping to find some inspiration.

He felt his father’s hand on his back while hearing the words “It’s alright son. You were so little, you probably don’t remember her much.”

“I remember her a bit.” George recalled. “I remember when she stayed with us. We went to the store one day and I wanted a magazine.”

“You always were a reader.”

“Yeah, and mom didn’t want me to get this monster magazine but Sally got it for me.”

“Really? I don’t remember that.”

“You don’t?” George was surprised. “That’s what got me into horror movies.”

Henry’s eyes widened “Wow, really?” He shook his head, took a big gulp of his drink, then stared off into nothing.

“I remember when I was a kid,” Henry said after a while, “we had this teacher who brought in a guest speaker. Jewish guy. I’d never even known anyone Jewish before.”

“What did he talk about?” George asked, not realizing when this story would have taken place.

“He’d lived through all the shit.” Henry answered. “It was god awful. He was right there in Auschwitz.”

“Oh my god.”

“What he saw was unbelievable, stacks of bodies, and that awful smell. We were just kids though, we should have known better. We had to stay after school that day.”

“What happened?”

Henry looked almost too embarrassed to admit it, even decades later. He explained “Me and my friends, we were laughing at the guy. We were just dumb kids, but still, we should have known better.” Henry shook his head in disbelief  “I guess when it doesn’t happen to you, it’s almost like it’s not even real. With my sister, it was always real to me.”

Local news now came on the television. The Dhamer story was still hot, and the gory details of his crimes were once again the lead. George took another sip of his drink and thought out loud. “That son of a bitch.” Soon the bartender changed the channel and announced last call. Father and son closed the bar that night.

Waking up the next morning, Henry decided they should go to the cemetary to see Fred one more time. George felt odd attending the burial of someone neither he nor his father ever knew. However, it was likely no one noticed, as it seemed all of Plainfield was out. George and his father had to park their rental car down the road from the cemetery gate, as so many cars were already there. Walking on the dirt path, they passed an old couple, “That’s where I’ll be Ronald.” The elderly woman said, passing an empty plot amongst the tombstones. 

“Well don’t rush!” Her elderly companion said, squeezing her arm playfully.

The weather was pleasant that day at the Plainfield cemetery. The crowd gathered around as the priest read the words of Psalm 23, which was common for such occasions.

“The Lord is my shepard; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul, he leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.

You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you have annointed my head with oil, my cup runs over. 

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

After the service most of the crowd dispersed. George and Henry kept to themselves as Fred made small talk with a few of the locals. After a few minutes, Fred appeared surprised when he saw George and Henry. “Thanks for coming.” he said, to which the two nodded. “Come on over here.” Fred then motioned. George and Henry followed him across the cemetery to a series of graves. “These were his parents.” Fred whispered, pointing to two tombstones on the right which read Henry and Augusta respectively. “This was his brother Henry.” he said pointing to the left. Then, pointing to a smooth grey tombstone between Henry and Augusta, Fred said ‘“and here he is.” George and his father looked down, and there was the tombstone of one Ed Gein. Here lay the Ghoul of Plainfield, and no one ever knew.

“The Sheriff ‘found the body’ Fred spoke using air quotes “the next day. We couldn’t bring ourselves to go to the funeral. My wife went; said a lot of people came out. Everyone saw him as this odd guy, but they all remembered him working hard. Kids liked it when he babysat them. In the winter he would have snowball fights with them, in the summer he would buy them ice cream. We figured it was better no one knew.” 

Then he teared up. “I’m sorry.” he took out a handkerchief and blew his nose. “I’m sorry, he was my friend. We just had no idea.”

“It’s ok.” Henry said. “There was no way you could have known. It’s a good thing you came along that night when you did.” 

Putting his handkerchief away Fred revealed, “Except for your friend Robert I never told a soul. I mean my wife knew a little I guess, but me and Arthur, we never told anyone.” Looking at Henry he continued. “I don’t blame you for being mad about what we did, but I’m glad you know. You deserved to know. To tell you the truth it feels good to tell someone, as awful as it is.”

Henry gratefully put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said “Thank you for helping my sister, and, and for everything.”

The two embraced, then Fred pulled away and shook George’s hand before saying “You two take care now.” and left the father and son to themselves. Henry turned to his son and fell into his arms. George held his sobbing father while looking down at the grave. 

There was a time when George would have revelled in the story of Ed Gein. At one time, had he the opportunity, he would have ripped this tombstone right out of the ground and sold it for notoriety and fame, but here it lay, perfectly intact. It’s smooth stone reflecting the sunlight. Only a few people in the whole world ever knew of what the corpse that lay beneath had done in life.

There will be one more chapter of this tale of horrific alternate history tomorrow, just in time for Halloween. In the meantime, be safe.

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