Sex caught on surveillance camera

WHY: Octogenarian Reidar Foke Jespersen is found dead posed in the front window of the antique dealing store he owns with his family. He was a disagreeable man, manipulating his wife when he confronts her over an affair and refusing approve the sale of the shop when his brothers find an appropriate buyer. In Man in the Window, Paige St. John, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter has uncovered never before revealed details about the man who would eventually become one of California's most deadly serial killers. From Wondery and the L.A. Times comes a new series that traces his path of devastation through his victims' eyes. The Man in the Window by Jon Cohen features a cast of characters all living in one small town with a monster. Of course, Louis isn't really a monster, but some of his neighbors have begun to think of him that way. As a teenager, Louis was terribly burned in a fire that caused his face to become unrecognizable. Wondery in partnership with LA Times News & Interviews for The Woman in the Window All Upcoming Disney Movies: New Disney Live-Action, Animation, Pixar, Marvel, 20th Century, And Searchlight Directed by Joe Wright. With Amy Adams, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell. An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbors, only to witness a disturbing act of violence. In Man in the Window, Paige St. John, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter has uncovered never before revealed details about the man who would eventually become one of California's most deadly serial killers. From Wondery and the L.A. Times comes a new series that traces his path of devastation through his victims' eyes.Read more » Man In The Window: The Golden State Killer. In Man in the Window, Paige St. John, a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter has uncovered never before revealed details about the man who would eventually become one of California's most deadly serial killers. From Wondery and the L.A. Times comes a new series that traces his path of devastation through his victims' eyes.... Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. M an in the window: He was a spectral figure whose first killings involved dogs.

2020.10.15 23:24 singlefilee Camera on sex caught surveillance

tw: mentions of child abuse, abandonment, and alcoholism


I was eight the first time I saw him.
When I was a kid, my family lived in the woods about two miles out of a small country town in Missouri. I was an unexciting kid; I was okay at video games, rode my bike with my friends, and finished my times tables the fastest in my class. I wasn’t popular, but I still had friends. I have an old brother, a dog named Sparky, and two parents who loved each other like they’d gotten married the day before. We lived in a regular old farmhouse, in a regular town, and attended an unremarkable school.
I hadn’t had a single thing happen to me in my entire life. My family had gone to the same amusement park every summer, went to the same theatres and restaurants, and we always saw all the same people. We weren’t poor, but my family wasn’t what you considered well-off; there was enough to put food on the table and clothes on our backs, but we weren’t out buying T-bones for dinner.
One winter, the weather got exceptionally intense, and we ended up snowed into our house with four feet of snow outside. While we were trapped inside, we had a terrible windstorm which took out the window in my bedroom; a tree branch spearing directly through my pillow next to my head while I slept, shards of glass covering my room and cutting my skin. I remember the blood curdling scream my mom let out when they found me in bed, so panicked I couldn’t move. I ended up staying in the hospital and getting 40 stitches from all the glass that had pierced my skin.
After this, I started to have intense nightmares, and would run to my parents’ room almost every night to hide from the monsters my mind had created. Vivid visions of death and torture danced through my brain, slinked behind my eyelids, and plagued my dreams. At first, my parents empathized with it and let me stay with them, trying to help me cope with the trauma I was going through from nearly being impaled by a tree branch. Slowly, they began to grow annoyed by my nightly panic attacks, which were keeping them up at odd hours of the night. They tried telling me to stay in my room, and I tried, I really did.
Until I saw him.
The clock on my nightstand read 3:07am, and I had just woken up from a nightmare. From the moment I opened my eyes, I knew something wasn’t right. The hair on my arms and my neck stood on end as I scanned the room, panic setting in deep in my lower stomach, heart rising in my throat. After a once over of the room, I didn’t immediately see it. Eventually, my eyes landed on the shadow that had made its way into the light shining through the window behind me. Fear took hold of my vocal cords and froze my movements, paralyzing me in my bed. What felt like an eternity slipped by as I mustered up the strength to see what was waiting for me outside the window, directly over my shoulder. Slowly, I turned my head.
I immediately made direct eye contact with a tall, sinister looking man, and every muscle in my body tensed as I let out a blood curdling scream. My vision went blurry as my mind started to shut down, panic attaching itself to every bone in my body. I heard my older brother wake up in the room next to me.
Still watching the man in the window, I tried desperately to get myself to move even one inch towards my door, begging my legs to work despite the intense knocking of my knees. The man opened his mouth into a wide smile, never breaking eye contact. Slowly, his hand crept to the side of my window, his long and unkempt nails sliding across the glass as he attempted to find purchase in the small crack between my window and the frame. My mouth went dry as I sat there in fear, helplessly waiting for what was about to happen.
“Abby?” a voice from the other side of the door called my name; my older brother to my rescue. The man in the window froze his movements, his demeanor turning from taunting to malevolent. He opened his mouth to show two rows of yellowed and blackened teeth, which seemed to be filed down to points. His gums were swollen and rotting, his lips now cracked and bleeding due to the inhumanly large smile on his face. His hand slowly moved away from its spot between my window and the frame and waved at me in a morbid form of a greeting. His gaze bore into me as he made his way closer to me through the glass, like I was an animal at the zoo. His face pressed against the cool barrier between us, him now no more than a foot from my face. I begged my body to move.
“Abby? Why did you scream, are you okay?” My older brother chimed in again. The handle to my bedroom door turned as my sibling pressed into the room. I look back to see my brother, only to look back to an empty window. As quickly as the man had appeared to me, he had vanished as well.
“There was a man outside.” I replied, voice barely coming out above a whisper.
“A what?” He responded incredulously, clearly not believing what he was hearing. I glanced out the window again and saw a rustling in the tree line on the other side of the creek in our backyard. I reflexively screamed, peeing my pants as I sprang from my bed out of my bedroom and down the hall to my parents’ bedroom. Being woken up so late at night for so many nights in a row, my parents were at their wits end. After talking about it amongst themselves, they decided to put a lock on the outside of my bedroom door so that they could return to their uninterrupted nights of sleep. For them, this was a perfect solution to their midnight pest; to me, this was a nightmare.
Every night before bed, my mother or father would tuck me in, read me a story, and then lock me in on their way out the door. I begged them to stop, warning them of the man that I’d seen outside our house that night and my fears of him coming back. They chalked this up to childhood imagination and assumed I’d get through it with time, never once considering I may have been telling the truth.
My panic attacks increased; I was barely sleeping most nights. Even the smallest noise in my house would lift my soul from its body, paralyzing my lungs and my limbs. Months went by where I barely slept or ate, my parents either not knowing what to do, or simply trying to ignore it until it went away. Slowly, my mood affected their relationship, and their fights began to happen as often as my nightmares. There was seldom a time in my home when I felt peace, always yearning to be at school or at a friend’s house.
At the age of 10, my mom left in the middle of the night. She left a note saying she couldn’t take it anymore, that she wanted more for her life than to be tied to a child with such severe handicaps. It took me years to realize she was referring to me, and it still sticks with me to this day so many years later.
With other demons consuming my ten-year-old life, I started to forget the man I saw in the window that night. Between the extra responsibilities I had to take on around the house, and caring for my now alcoholic father, there were far more scarier things happening to me than a bad dream I’d had the year before.
It wasn’t until two years later at the age of twelve did I remember the fear that gripped my body that horrendous winter night so long ago. I was in my room finishing a book report for English class that I’d procrastinated on, when I looked up to see the time. The old clock on my bedside table said 3:07am. ‘Wow, I should wrap this up and go to bed’ I though to myself as I shut off my reading lamp on the desk in front of me.
I had barely stood from my chair when I felt it. The hair on the backs of my arms stood up, and a chill ran down my spine. My ears started ringing as the fear slipped back into my veins; the feeling wrapping me in an embrace like an old friend. Something is watching me. Instinctively, I rose my head to look out the window.
There he was, just like he had been years before: staring into my window directly at me. Our eyes met, my breath catching in my throat as I recognized the creature standing in front of me.
I quickly sprang from my desk and ran to the door, trying desperately to access the shotgun we kept standing next to the front door. My hand grabbed the doorknob, only for it to stay solidly in its place. For the first time in years, my bedroom door was locked.
Frantic, I started banging on the door, praying my brother would hear me over the sound of his gaming headset, or that my father would wake from his drunken stupor to come to my aide. I looked back towards the window to check on the man, only to find the same demonic smile beginning to stretch across his face. Drool slowly started to drip from between his mustard colored teeth, and a low growl filled the room. It was in this moment that I realized my window was unlocked. I banged on the door harder, screaming as loud as I could. Impossibly, the man’s smile grew wider.
His gnarled hand crept its way up my window in the familiar way it once had, and this time curled entirely around the side of the pane, slowly sliding the window open.
Desperately, I beg for someone to help, kicking the door and throwing myself into it praying that I could break it down in time. The man continued to smile as my panic grew.
The window was now fully opened, the man staring at me with nothing between us. He began to lift himself into my room, never once blinking as he slid himself through the open hole.
I felt my body begin to shut down as I watched the creature make its way into my home, slowly accepting that this was inevitably how I would die. His feet hit the floor of my bedroom, and my body went cold.
He towered over me; his spine curved due to being too tall for the low ceiling. In my final moments, I got a good look at him.
The man had to be around 8 feet tall, dressed in all black. His feet were calloused and cut from being barefoot, his toenails fungus riddled and blackened by mud. His hands arthritic and his fingernails just as unkempt. The stench emanating off him was enough to melt the hairs in your nose, and his sharpened teeth were enough to send you into a spiral of panic, but the worst part of him was his eyes.
Two black holes looking back at you, no color lining the pupils. They were almost pointed, like a snake’s would be, and the whites were tinted an ugly yellow like the sky is before a tornado touches down. Staring into them was like looking into an eternity, the cavernous black pupils drilled holes in my soul.
Unable to break eye contact, I watched with resignation to my fate as he made his way towards me, moving excruciatingly slow. As he came within feet of my shaking body, I heard the door to my brother’s bedroom door open next to my head.
My body became a livewire in the last-ditch attempt to save my own life, screaming and hitting the door as hard as I could, praying he’d help me.
“Abby? Abby what the fuck is going on?” I heard him approaching my door. Amid screaming for help, I realized had broken my eye contact with the man in my room and felt a cold breath on the back of my neck. It was directly behind me now.
“Josh, please help.” I desperately plead, my sobs racking my entire body as I shook against the door frame. I screwed my eyes tight as the breathing on my neck continued, bile rising in my throat. The knob on my door jiggled as my brother threw the door open, knocking me onto the floor as Josh charged into the room with his baseball bat in hand.
“Abby are yo-WHAT THE FUCK IS THA- “was all he got out before the creature was on him. His screams rang through the house as the sounds of his bones crushing bounced off the walls and blood spattered across my face. I sat on the floor of my room unable to move for what felt like hours while he begged for my help, and I could do nothing except cover my ears and puke on myself on the floor. After some time, I blacked out in a puddle of my own vomit. It wasn’t until hours later that I came to, and not until much longer after that I could muster up the strength to see what had happened in front of me. Reluctantly, I lifted my head.
The room was untouched, as if nothing had happened there. I looked into the mirror by my bed, and the blood that had once painted my face had vanished. My eyes ran over the room again, confused by the complete state of normalcy. Something caught my eye in the corner of the window: a shred of my brother’s striped t-shirt he’d been wearing. Panicking, I quickly ran to my brother’s room to see if he was okay, praying there was some way he’d be there when I walked in.
His bed and computer chair were empty. As I made my way into his room, I could hear the distant chatter of his friends through his gaming headset. The light from his computer screen filled the dimly lit room as a feeling of finality set in. My body was numb as it dawned on me that he wasn’t coming back.
The police searched for two years, but every effort came out fruitless. Photos of his face and the shred of the shirt left behind painted every front page of every paper in America, and he even got his own episode of Dateline. Despite the community outreach and the nation-wide manhunt, Josh was never found. My father sank into a deeper depression, and I went to live with my aunt and uncle in another state to escape the darkness that had gripped my childhood home. Not a day went by that I didn’t think of my brother and his accidental sacrifice of his own life to save mine; but with the help of extensive therapy and the passing of time, I was able to learn to cope with the guilt of surviving the attack meant for me. I was almost able to forget about the dark cloud looming over my shoulders, almost able to move on with my life and find my own happiness. And I had it for a while: a regular life and a happy baby, a house with a yard in a good part of town, a job that paid well, and a car that didn’t break all the time.
I was able to have my bubble of normalcy until I turned 32.
It was a cool fall night; the wind was blowing quietly outside as the fireplace crackled in the living room. I was in my room working on something for a big meeting I had at work the following morning. Being deeply into what I was doing, I almost didn’t notice the sound of little feet slapping on the wood floors of my hallway. I looked up from my task, and as if on cue my daughter pulled on the door handle to my bedroom and ran straight into my bed and under my covers.
“Mommy?” she whispered, looking up at me through glassy eyes. “Mommy, there was a man outside my window.” A familiar chill ran down my spine as I listened with terror while my barely four-year-old daughter recounted her run in with the man in the window. I feel my heart rise in my throat as she tells me about the razor teeth in his mouth, and the way his hand crawled across the glass of her window to get inside.
Despite knowing it wouldn’t help, I ended up calling the police to make my daughter feel safer. After having them scan our backyard and the neighborhoods surrounding us, they determined that whoever my daughter had seen was long gone now. They left a patrol car outside of the house for the night, gave me business cards to call if I saw anything suspicious again, and instructed me to look into getting a home security system. The following day, I set up a home security system with cameras pointing at my daughter’s window, the front door, and in the backyard pointed towards the tree line.
In addition to the surveillance, I also decided to invest in a gun. I held nearly every shotgun they had in stock, until I saw it. At the very end of the row, one of the guns stood out to me. It was almost as if it was calling out to me, drawing me towards it.
“You wanna see that one?” the clerk’s voice rang out behind me. I nodded, and he took it down off its stand and placed it into my hands. “A lot of people have looked at this one, it’s a brand-new model.”
I turned the gun over and over in my hands, watching the light reflect off the chrome and dance across the beautiful walnut coloring in the stock. I lifted the gun to test how it felt to hold, sliding my finger into the trigger guard, finger itching to test the trigger. Despite not having checked the price, I knew that this was what I needed in order to get the job done; so I paid for it and left with a surge of confidence that I hadn’t felt in years.
Later that night after dinner had been eaten and bedtime stories had been read, I made the hardest decision I’ll ever make in the span of my existence.
“Mommy, will you make sure the window is locked?” the scared toddler asked me from her bed. I nodded in affirmation and rose to my feet and made my way towards the window. Despite telling her I would keep the monster out; I knew that I had to let it in. If I didn’t do what I needed to do, the thing was going to haunt me forever.
“It’s locked sweetie, now why don’t you try to get some sleep?” I replied to her, trying my best not to let my voice catch in my throat. ‘I can’t fuck this up’ I thought to myself as I turned off the light and left her room. Making my way into the kitchen, I grabbed a chair from the table and set up shop outside of my daughter’s bedroom.
And there I sat for hours, the silence of my house encasing me like a warm blanket. After what felt like ages, I slowly started to nod off while sitting in the chair. It had been only moments since I’d drifted off when I heard a blood-curdling scream ring out into the night from the other side of the door.
I threw myself through her bedroom door to see the creature crawling through her pried open window. I drew my gun and looked down the barrel, hitting it in the middle of the chest. It fell from view as it hit the ground below, and my daughter ran towards me in fear. I had to make sure this fucker was finally dead. Quickly, I ran towards the window ready to fire again, ready to finally end the pain and suffering that had plagued me for so many years. But when I leaned out the window with my gun drawn, I nearly had a heart attack at the figure I saw lying on the ground below.
“Abby?” they choked out, clearly drowning in their own blood. “Abby, it’s me, Josh.”
And indeed, it was. I stared at him with my gun still drawn, every nerve in my body feeling like it’s on fire. He stared back, a scared 14-year-old boy with a large gunshot wound in his chest. ‘What have I done?’ I think to myself, the pain of having to watch him die again hitting me like king tides. My daughter sobbed uncontrollably next to me on the floor, begging me to kill the thing outside her window. I continued to stare at it in disbelief.
A moment of shock was all that the monster needed, as it quickly began to metamorphose back into the man who had haunted my life so long ago. Skin tearing and bones snapping, the body on in the garden in my yard started to resemble the baleful figure that had taken so much from me for so long. He looked entirely the same, the only difference being the all too familiar stripes on the tattered shirt hanging off his body. I snapped myself out of the immense grief that had washed over me in that moment, knowing that whatever was in front of me now was no longer my brother, even if it had been at one point. I pulled the barrel of the gun back up and quickly fired a second shot into its face, taking its head off and leaving nothing but a bloodied pulp next to the begonias in my yard. I scooped up my hysterical child and called 911, eyes never leaving the window.
When the police showed up, they found nothing. Other than the trauma inflicted on my child and myself, there was no evidence that someone had come near our house. Our camera system hadn’t even caught the altercation, despite being aimed directly where it happened, exactly where a body should have been. With no explanation, the police escorted us to a hotel for the night to avoid any further disturbances. We happily went with them, feeling incredibly lucky to be away from the demon that had chosen our home as its hunting ground.
Since that night, I and my daughter have moved in with my aunt and uncle until we can sell our home and move into a new one. Being with her grandparents was amazing for her recovery from what she saw, her young mind quickly forgetting the sobering events that took place before her eyes. And once again, I began my healing process from the man in the window.
It wasn’t until I turned 65 did I think back to the man in the window. 33 blissful years of holidays, vacations, and watching my daughter grow up and start her own family.
I was sitting in the worn chair placed in front of the fireplace in my living room peacefully reading a book when I got the hysterical call from my daughter. Last night my grandchild went missing, stolen right out of the bedroom window of his family’s second story apartment.
A similar nation-wide hunt to the one I witnessed so many years before ensued. Community search parties were held, and his name and face were plastered across every screen in America. They interviewed classmates and other residents in their apartment complex, but all efforts were fruitless. The investigation stretched over the course of several years, my daughter never losing hope for the return of her son. I wish I could have done something to prevent her suffering.
Even though the law was never able to provide an answer for my devastated child, deep down I knew what had happened. The grief ripped through me as I thought back to my brother and willed myself not to think about how similar his screams for help probably were to my grandson’s. I knew what happened, but there was no way to explain it to the police, news outlets, and the rest of my grieving family without causing even more grief and confusion.
You see, the police were looking for fingerprints. The police were looking for sex offenders in the area. The police were looking in dumpsters and in lakes and rivers; any man-made explanation they could come up with.
But what they failed to see was the torn and dirtied striped t-shirt that was left hanging in his closet.
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2020.09.25 19:48 dogeman87 Camera on surveillance sex caught

You know how it goes. They tell you you’re the perfect child. You were so perfect that they didn’t want to have any more. You’re smart, caring, sociable. Any goal they set for you is reached. Any goal you set for yourself is too high, but you reach it anyways.
I imagine that is how most only children feel at some point. My parents are wonderful people, and I think most of what they say about me is true, even if they tend to sugarcoat it. Now that I’m in college, I do some more questionable things that they might not approve of, but who doesn’t?
In truth, I’m not as perfect as they make me out to be. I’m an above-average student, but I’m not pre-med or engineering. I’m majoring in economics. I do well, I get solid A’s and a few B’s, and I’m active in a couple clubs. I still have no idea what I want to do in life, though.
I’ve only dated one girl, all the way back in sophomore year of high school. The relationship fell apart at the beginning of senior year. We split amicably, I think. Since then, I just haven’t found anyone. You know how it is, scrolling through Tinder and finding so many prospects but then realizing that all of them are either assholes or comically awkward.
Does it bother me? No. None of it does. I couldn’t care less if I’m dating or doing well in school. As long as I’m maintaining my GPA and having fun, classes don’t bother me. I go to parties, I hang out with friends, I smoke a bit of weed every now and then. I’m living the college life.
Well, I was. Then I had this conversation with my dad my freshman year. I’m a senior now. It seemed harmless enough. He asked how my week went, and I told him fine. I asked how he and mom were doing, and he said fine. He asked me what my grades were. Normal, I told him. A’s and B’s. He was satisfied.
Before he hung up, he admitted something to me. “Grant,” he said. “Have you noticed anything strange lately?”
I was dumbfounded. “No, Dad. What do you mean?”
“I don’t know.”
He left it at that, and I could only speculate what he had meant. He wouldn’t elaborate. He only told me to have a great rest of my day.
The next evening, he washed up dead on the riverbank.
*
After two weeks, the police gave up. They said the cause of death was drowning. The autopsy matched up, I guess. They don’t know who did it. The fact that there was foul play is obvious, because my dad was stripped of his wedding ring and clothes and he lived far away from the river.
I had to fly halfway across the country for the funeral. I ended up taking incompletes for my classes that semester. The day would not move fast enough. The services took forever. I don’t remember much, only shaking a lot of people’s hands and watching my mother fall apart. That was the hardest part, I think, watching her sob uncontrollably. Nothing is more disturbing than watching a loved one break down like that. It hits hard, harder than a punch or a knife to the gut. It twists your stomach until you can’t eat anymore, can’t sleep, or maybe you sleep for fifteen hours and still feel exhausted.
I don’t like to dwell on the funeral, so I won’t. I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks. You can picture what it was like.
I returned to school the next semester. Everyone was sympathetic, but at the same time they gave me space. They knew I didn’t want to talk about it. What college student would? How weird would that have been, breaking down at a party or in the middle of class and talking about my dead dad? Normal, yes, but also embarrassing as hell.
Nevertheless, I found myself talking about it with some girl. I was drunk, way too drunk for my own good. One thing they don’t tell you at parties is how to pace yourself. College kids don’t have much tolerance for alcohol. A couple beers is all it takes to get wasted, for some of us.
I was a little different. I’m tall, over six feet, so I could take more than most. Still, I had only been to a handful of parties at that point. It only took a couple hours to lose self-control.
The girl was pretty. I remember that, though I don’t remember what she actually looked like. She consoled me for a while. I don’t remember why I was talking about my dad, either. I’m sure she had heard the story already. Word got around campus fast. She still listened.
I’m not sure how it escalated, but one thing led to another, and the next thing I remember she was sucking my dick in a closet. Sounds bad, I know, and it was. Not as bad as some of the other things, though. Someone had brought coke- thank God I didn’t go for that- and as we’d made our way to the back of the house, I saw a couple having sex on the couch. In the middle of the room. People were just walking around them like it was nothing.
At least I wore a condom?
Whatever. College is crazy. Case closed. Right?
I wish it were that simple. Thing is, after we had sex the girl, understandably, left me by myself. Probably went to blow some other guy. I went back into the main room, and that’s when things started to go to shit.
They were still doing coke. One of the guys offered some. When I declined, he pressed a straw into my hand instead. I told him he could go shove it. For some reason, the guy didn’t react. He just turned back to the table.
I knew I had to get out of there. Getting caught with alcohol is one thing. But coke? I could go to prison for that. I started extracting myself from the room when I heard it.
There was someone in the bathroom at the top of the stairs. They were whimpering. My first guess was sex, because I’d seen so much of it already that night. But there was only one voice, and the whimpers sounded like pain. Then there was a thud.
I knocked on the door. No response. I rattled the doorknob, and of course it was locked. Then I kicked the door in. The guy that I’d heard was on the floor. There was a little blood, but most startling was the pool of vomit and the guy’s facial expression. He looked dead. I checked his pulse, determined that he was indeed alive, then rolled him onto his side and pulled out my phone to call an ambulance.
That’s when I saw the shadow. It was so faint. I’m not sure how I noticed, really, except for the fact that it shifted. I looked at the shower curtain. Fear settled in my stomach then. I realized that I was in a room on the second floor, far from the rest of the party, with no one but the passed-out guy within calling distance.
The shadow was just from a headlight outside. I began to breath again. Then I felt the hand on my shoulder.
I tried to scream. Another hand slowly closed around my mouth. It was cold and leathery, and wet. I tasted what was probably blood, and I suspected it was from the hand. I began to hyperventilate, which, as you might have guessed, was a really bad idea when my airway was being blocked. I pretty much was asking to lose consciousness.
The hand that had grabbed my shoulder moved down my back. I felt what I can only describe as a tonguelike protrusion running over my neck. I trembled. I figured I was about to die. I would be lying on the floor like this guy, killed by a monster, and no one would find us until next morning at the earliest, and undoubtedly they would think I died the same way as him.
Amazingly, my first thought was of my mom. She couldn’t deal with another death in the family. She would lose it, as anyone would. That, more than the immediate threat that had presented itself, chilled me.
That’s when I ripped the hand from my mouth and screamed. The hand fell on the floor, disintegrated into dust, and I screamed some more.
Whatever had been behind me was gone. I knew it the second it left, because the room suddenly warmed up. I had not realized it had been so cold. Probably I had been too caught up in the moment. The temperature now was like a sauna in comparison.
I looked around frantically. I examined the walls, the ceiling, brushed back the shower curtain, peered carefully behind the toilet. There was nothing. I sat there on the floor for a while, waiting for the shadow and the monster to return. My skin crawled, thinking of that leathery hand on my mouth, the tongue leaving saliva on my neck.
If I had been doing coke, I could have chalked it up to a hallucination. But I’d been clean. I’d had a few beers, but at that moment I was pretty lucid. I was certainly more lucid than the guy on the floor.
I had forgotten about him, actually. I looked at my phone, which had fallen on the floor during my encounter with the shadow, and I picked it up. I dialed 911, told them what had happened, then left. The next morning half a dozen people were looking at drug charges in addition to underage drinking.
The guy that I found? He recovered. I think after that he didn’t go to any more parties. I don’t blame him. His blood alcohol content was .35, if I remember correctly. He should have been dead.
I didn’t go to many other parties, but for a different reason. My name had not been used in the paper, so my mom didn’t know. There was no pressure from her or anyone else, least of all the police, who chastised me but were happy that I did the right thing. No, it was the shadow that stopped me. I didn’t want to be in a place where everyone was drunk or coked out again, because if I was that shadow could return and probably kill me. I’m certain that it left because it thought others would find it. It was waiting for a time when I was alone.
Much better to stay home, in the safety of the dorms, with my two other roommates and the dozen others that were within earshot and sober. Much better to forget what had happened, chalk it up to stress or a laced drink, and go on with my life as I had before.
Thing is, it’s never that simple. I wasn’t able to forget about the monster, because that wasn’t the last time I saw it.
\*
My roommates were out, and I was by myself. That was the first mistake. Jason had gone to a D&D game. Richard had been invited to a party by one of the football players, somehow. He’s not athletic, not particularly impressive in any way, but he’s chill as hell. Everyone is his friend, which is probably how he got invited.
I wasn’t doing much. I was not alone, either. There were people on either side of my room, behind the walls, guys who were probably jerking off or playing video games. Me? I was reading a book. I know, not exactly what you would expect from someone my age. But I like reading. I especially like Stephen King (which may have been the wrong thing to read at that moment), and that’s what I was reading when I heard the noise.
I didn’t react to it. I figured someone was outside. We lived in suites, where four or five rooms shared a semi-private bathroom. It was a hell of a lot better than the bathrooms in other dorms, which were set up for entire floors. Here you could have some privacy.
The bathroom door closed. There was a loud grunt, then a plop. I sighed. It was probably Randolph. He takes the largest shits of anyone I have ever known. He can sit there for twenty minutes and keep dropping them. Usually we have to use the plunger or call maintenance when that happens. That night, though, would be different.
He gave out a yelp, and then I heard the door slam. I looked up. My door was partially closed, so I walked over to open it, and that’s when I saw him. He was slumped over on the toilet.
I ran over to him, ignored the penis in his hands, and checked for a pulse. He seemed fine. There were no wounds on him. He hadn’t moved, either, had obviously passed out on the seat. So how had the door been flung open?
I felt it again. The hand. It was on my arm this time. I would have let out a scream had it not clamped down. It felt like my bones were being grinded together. The pain was so immense that my vision flickered, and I could only whimper.
I was thrown back into my room. Somehow, I landed on my bed. Then I saw it. The monster was there, standing in the doorway. Perhaps demon is a better word. It was tall, maybe seven or eight feet, and it was completely black. I don’t mean black as in a black laptop or shirt or an xbox. This thing defied logic. It seemed to be so dark that light did nothing to illuminate it.
It had horns, antler-like but distinct in that they came from the side of its head and were not very long. The eyes were the worst. They were coal-black, with tinges of red where white should have been. And they were looking straight at me.
I did scream then. Someone said something in an adjacent room. The demon’s head whipped to the side unnaturally, like a kid whipping a pool noodle, and then it scrambled into the ceiling. Yeah, you read that right. It went into the ceiling, climbed up the walls like a drugged-up lizard and just phased through the tiles.
I didn’t move until the RA came over. He noticed Randolph first. Surprisingly, he did not make any snide remarks about Randolph’s dick. He called campus police before asking me what had happened. I told him. I asked if I would be in trouble. He said no way, because I obviously had not hurt Randolph. What had happened to him was a mystery.
Well, until the police arrived. They took him in, and I heard that he tested positive for MDMA. Ecstasy. I had not known him to be the druggie type. I mean, most college students experiment, but doing it in the dorm? It was asking for trouble. And Randolph was not stupid. He was a lot smarter than me, got a single B first semester and didn’t have to study as hard as most of us.
I wished he had been awake to see the demon. If he had been, of course, I suspect the demon would not have showed. It seemed to be fixated on me and me alone. It did not want to be seen by others. That was a comfort, I suppose, if not downright terrifying. There would be moments, I was sure, where I was forced to be alone. In the dorm or at a party or in a bathroom between classes… forgive me for the cliché, but the possibilities were endless.
So I told my roommates about what had happened. They didn’t get back until late that night, well after I had gone to sleep. I don’t know how I did. I guess I’m a heavy sleeper, is all. You kind of have to be if you want any rest in a dorm, at least one as rowdy as ours can get.
None of us had classes the next morning. Jason was skeptical, as he should have been. If he had told me about monsters and demons, I wouldn’t have believed him. Richard was more open to the idea, but he didn’t seem to care. He told me to chill out. I was too stressed, he said. Did I need to talk about what had happened last semester?
“It has nothing to do with that,” I snapped.
He raised his hands. “Hey, dude, don’t yell at me. I’m just trying to help.”
“Yeah,” I told him. “I know.”
“Then listen to me, man. You need to take a breather. When’s the last time you went to a party? Hey, you know what, I’ve got the perfect idea. I met this girl last night. Super hot and friendly. She’s your type. I think-“
“I’m not looking for a hookup,” I said flatly.
“What? You’re gonna turn down sex?”
I stared at him, and I think he finally got the message. He shut up.
“I have an idea,” Jason said. “What if we set up surveillance? I know a place where we can get hidden cameras. It’s not far from campus. I’ll get them after class Friday. If it doesn’t like being watched, like you say, then it shouldn’t bother you again.”
I knew Jason didn’t believe me. Still, the fact that he wanted to ease my nerves meant a lot. He’s not the most outgoing kind of guy. He’s a nerd, a chemistry student with a passion for chemistry and nothing else. He’s involved in academic extracurriculars only. I think he’s dated before, but I never learned the details. He doesn’t talk about girls. I only know that there’s this one girl in my English class, Jessica, who says he’s a creep.
We stuck to the plan. It wasn’t foolproof- I would find myself alone outside of the dorm eventually- but it was good enough. As it turned out, I would be by myself Saturday morning. Jason had a club meeting that for some reason had not been held during the week, and Richard was going on a date. He has unconventional good looks- long black hair, brown eyes, thin beard with just the right shape- and he’s smooth. Like, more smooth than should be humanly possible. He’s chill around us and chiller around girls, like he’s known them forever. They love that about him, how genuine he can be.
I begged one of them to stay. Jason told me, understandably, that he couldn’t miss the meeting. Richard was not about to ghost the girl he had been building a relationship with for the past month. Jason said I could always call for the RA or other guys in the dorm. I figured he was right. I also figured I didn’t want the demon to show up at all. Screw proving it to my roommates- I just wanted it to go away.
It didn’t appear until two hours after Jason left. Richard had already been gone for a while, had probably made his way back to the girl’s room. I heard it before I saw it. The demon made a slithering sound when it walked. I had not noticed before because it always appeared, never really moved across the room.
I looked up. You’d think seeing it two times before would make it less scary. You’d be wrong. Having a seven-foot, black-skinned behemoth with antlers and red eyes stand over you, it’s just too much. I screamed like a girl. I guess that time it didn’t get close enough to shut me up.
Its head darted toward the door, and for some reason I took my eyes off the thing. Jason was standing there with his backpack in his hand. His jaw had dropped so far open I thought he would shriek like one of those possessed people in horror movies. The demon skittered up the wall and through the ceiling.
We looked at each other for a while, neither of us speaking. He was still holding his backpack in one hand. I was halfway out of my chair, frozen, ready to spring up at the sight of another monster. Finally he dropped his backpack, and I fell into my seat.
“What the fuck was that?” Jason said. His words startled me. I almost never heard him swear.
“It’s what I told you about,” I said. Even as I spoke, Jason was climbing on the bed, reaching for one of the cameras, taking it down and hooking it up to his laptop. “Now you believe me?”
“I think I have to,” he said, laughing nervously. “Unless we’re both insane.”
He tinkered with his laptop for a while. When he started cursing, I walked over and asked what the problem was. He just pointed to the screen. I looked and saw the timestamp in the bottom left corner. Twenty minutes ago, about when he had walked in and saw the demon. The room was empty. Then I saw him appear in the doorway, flabbergasted, before climbing on the bed and taking down the camera. The footage ended there.
“It didn’t show up,” I said.
“We’re both crazy, after all,” he told me.
“No, we’re not. Think about it. Would a demon want to show itself? This is the first time someone else has seen it. If you hadn’t walked in when you did, I doubt you would have ever gotten your proof.”
He rubbed his chin. “You might be right.”
“You can’t tell me you think that was a hallucination. I told you about it earlier this week. How the hell do you explain seeing what I had already seen?”
“Yeah,” Jason sighed. “I just was hoping it wasn’t real.”
We talked about it for a while. He wanted to know exactly what had happened at the party. I wasn’t sure what good it would do, but I told him anyways. There was no harm in sharing. Besides, I wanted to tell someone. I had only mentioned the demon in vague details when I had first seen it. Telling the whole story, about how it had emerged from a shadow and almost suffocated me to death, that would have been a red flag for sure. Jason would have referred me to the counseling office.
We waited for Richard to get home. When he did, he was drunk on ecstasy or alcohol or both. I don’t mean the drug ecstasy, either. He was grinning stupidly, and I was sure he’d have some wild sex story to talk about. Before he could share, Jason started explaining rapidly what had happened, and he sobered up fast.
*
Richard hadn’t been skeptical from the start. Hearing Jason talk about the demon only made him more convinced. He wanted to summon it immediately and fight.
“We’ll be killed,” I told him.
“Nah,” he said. “I can call in some of my buddies. I think one of them, that football player that lives off campus? I think he has a gun.”
“Jesus, Rich,” Jason said. “You want to bring a gun into the dorm?”
He shrugged. “Would they blame us if we were hunting a demon?”
“Yes, they would,” I told him. “There are no guns allowed. Besides, the thing didn’t show up on camera.”
“Oh. Right.”
We hinged on a plan that admittedly had more flaws than a third-grade essay. Jason did some research. He had to go through the deep web, which I know nothing about, and he found some information. First, he determined that, from my description, the demon supposedly took away men’s fertility.
Had it killed my father?
I didn’t want to think about that. It hardly mattered what had happened, because the past would not change.
We didn’t really find anything on how to kill the demon. Jason had a few suggestions based on the show Supernatural, but I shot those down. I figured a fictional series would know nothing about real life. Unless those were real, he told me. I’d seen a little of the show myself, and I insisted that what I had seen was very different than a demon occupying a human host.
In the end, we had no idea what the hell we were doing. We just made a conglomeration of different precautions. Jason bought some salt, Richard brought a hunting knife (that, unlike a gun, might not get me expelled), I asked around and found out that most of my friends found me crazy. I understood. If one of them had come to me asking about demons, I would have acted the same.
Richard also asked some of his friends for help. Somehow, they believed him. I’m not sure if it’s because of Richard’s charisma or because he never lies or both. Whatever the case, he actually found someone who claimed to know a thing or two.
She was an old woman, and she met with Richard during the week. He came back and told us that the demon took the fertility of older men, then killed them. I asked why it was stalking me. He said they did not like leaving any descendants.
I think that’s when I realized: this thing had been hunting my dad. It seemed so obvious now. There are many, many people in the world that purposefully have one child. My parents, though? I knew immediately what had happened. This demon had stalked my dad. It had killed him, too, and now it, as Richard had said, wanted to finish the job.
That was when I stopped caring. I didn’t mind that what we were doing was crazy. I didn’t mind the possibility of a horrible death, because it was quite likely given our meager preparations. I was dead anyways, and that knowledge made me more confident in what we were doing, as strange as it may sound.
After my dad died, I was never angry. My mom was, for sure; she blamed the police for botching the investigation, when in fact there was absolutely no evidence for them to use. I had understood. My dad had been murdered, yes, but without a perpetrator I had not been able to direct any anger I might have felt.
Now it was different. I wanted to confront this demon and rip its eyes from its sockets. I wanted to send it back to Hell, or send it there for the first time if it had never visited, and let it suffer for all eternity. I couldn’t know if my dad was the only victim. He probably hadn’t been. Most of the time, the demon tended to pray on men that had no children.
I’m not sure how it made a mistake with me. I just knew that the mistake would be its last.
*
I was sitting on my bed, surrounded by salt, holding a knife and a bottle of holy water with Jason and Richard waiting down the hall. They had closed the door, and to make themselves inconspicuous they were pretending to work on homework. In reality, they were waiting for me to call for help, if I needed it. I suspected I would.
Richard had dug deeper into his network of friends. He had spoken to a mother of a friend of a friend who owned an antique shop. She apparently owned a ceremonial dagger from the Middle Ages. She allowed him to borrow it for a price, so long as he brought it back in good condition. I don’t think she knew what we were using it for.
I felt the demon before I saw it. The room grew cold. I don’t mean chilly, I mean cold, like those walk-in freezers. Jason likened it to a cold room he had used during research. I don’t know anything about those, but maybe the analogy is useful for someone else.
It still scared me. The tall black figure with its truncated antlers was so unnatural, I figured I would never get used to seeing it. When it appeared in front of me and reached out a hand- I noticed now that the hand was covered in dry, cracked, human skin- I wanted to scream. I didn’t. I reached out my knife and stabbed it in the arm.
It didn’t flinch. The hand kept moving and grasped my neck. I could feel the dry skin shed and fall down the front of my shirt. I wanted to gag. The roughness of the hand drew blood. Instead of freezing up, I managed to open my bottle of holy water and toss it.
That did something. The demon let out this whine that I can liken only to an electronic device. It backed up, and I tossed more water on its face. The skin started to melt. I thought I had succeeded, but then bone began to surface from beneath, forming what looked like a grinning animal skull that was gnashing its teeth.
I screamed then. Richard burst into the room and threw his knife. Somehow it landed in the demon’s chest. That’s what did it, I think. It screamed so loud I thought I’d lose my hearing. My ears rang, and Richard was saying something to me, but my attention was fixated on the center of the room. The demon had tripped over a particularly large pile of salt. It was melting, taking the floor with it, like we had dropped a bottle of acid. There was a hole next to my bed.
I ignored what he and Jason were saying. I kept my eyes on the floor, watching the hole widen. It stopped, and when I finally turned towards my roommates, an RA was staring at us through the open doorway, frozen in place, fixated on the same thing that I had been.
He must have also noticed the antlers next to the hole.
*
The official report said nothing. It could not determine what had happened in the room. The RA didn’t believe our story. No other explanations emerged, though. I was told that no acid could eat through the floor as quickly as the demon’s remains had. Thank God Jason still had cameras up, because they showed exactly what had happened, though without the demon it just showed a hole opening up in the carpet.
Richard lost the knife and had to fork over a whopping two thousand dollars. He told us it was a bargain. The item had been priceless, most likely, and the woman could have bankrupted him for losing it.
I haven’t been haunted by anything since that incident freshman year. I started going to parties again. Jason moved on, pretending that none of it had happened, but Richard had a fantastic story to share with people. Most didn’t believe him. Some egged him on. A choice few took what he said too seriously, offering him other demon-hunting supplies. He laughed them off, saying the problem had been dealt with, so they instead came to me and explained the seriousness of my situation. I shook them off, too. What was I supposed to do? Start stockpiling ceremonial weapons and holy water?
I never told my mom. She wouldn’t have believed me. She didn’t hear about what had happened in the room, either. The footage showed us doing nothing, only me staring at a bunch of salt as it started dissolving the floor. None of us got in trouble. They didn’t even care that I had a knife sticking out of the wall. I guess they were too preoccupied with the rest of the scene.
I wish I could give you some dramatic conclusion, a fight that lasted for hours or an epic chase. On second thought, I’m glad I can’t describe that, but the truth is that what happened was pretty simple. I tossed some water and Richard threw a knife. That was it. The whole thing took thirty seconds at most.
It seems that most things in life are anticlimactic. An exciting movie, a first date, graduation- once it’s over, you’re left with a certain emptiness, like whatever you just did shouldn’t have ended so quickly. They say time flies (I hate that cliché), but it doesn’t. What happens is we expect things to be greater than they really are. We imagine some grand outcome, beyond what reality can provide us, and it almost never goes that way.
I can’t know for sure that I will be safe for the rest of my life. I only know that I’ve gotten through college unscathed so far. If there is another encounter, it won’t end well, because I won’t be prepared this time. It will be different, surely, a more dangerous monster or just a surprise attack when I least expect it. I definitely won’t write another story about it, because I’ll probably be dead.
If you hear about some university kid that dropped dead of a heart attack or washed up in a river, it will probably be me.
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2020.09.24 16:11 Boop108 Camera on caught surveillance sex

This article is illustrated with numerous film stills. If you would like to see the illustrated version click here.
https://medium.com/@36toesproductions/gy%C3%B6rgy-p%C3%A1lfis-taxadermia-181a1f574dc8?sk=6104aa1afa93f3e7ac4c6c0c5ac22fb1
After you recover from the shock of the opening scene you realize you will need to recalibrate your surrealism scale if you are going to get through György Pálfi’s Taxadermia. This isn’t going to just be weird or dreamlike, watching this film is going to take some fortitude, otherwise, how would you account for an opening scene where a man in a grimy, little shack, masturbates until, with a triumphant yell, he shoots a plume of fire out his penis.
Taxidermia is both beautiful and nauseating. It's a film of extremes that swings wildly in many directions. The camera reflects this in its movements. Suddenly the camera will start traveling in the most improbable, or even impossible directions. It passes through walls or under people, spinning in an impossible space. Its as though the screen we are watching is falling victim to the surrealism it is depicting.
There is a mind-bending scene where the floor of a room becomes something like a panel in a revolving door. It spins, and each time it flips over there is something new on the other side. We watch the changing sets and lose our orientation which turns the movie itself into a surreal object.
Pálfi made Taxidermia in 2006 in Hungary. I am sure that there is an entire layer of this film that I do not fully understand due to my limited knowledge of Hungarian history and politics. However, the film reaches much further than just a political allegory or parody. The primary engine of the film is the human body. Not just the shape of our physique but the blood, shit, vomit, semen, sweat, guts, and viscera of our existence. There’s sex and death and competitive eating.
The film centers around three men, each the son of the former. The first is Morosgovanyi, a libidinal, Caliban-like, perpetual masturbator. He’s the one whose penis shoots fire. He will hump anything, a hole in the wall, a pile of butchered pig parts, anywhere his member will fit. There are no cutaways or carefully cropped frames we see his penis plunge in and out of a hole in a shed until a rooster comes along and pecks it. A cock attacked by a cock.
When he is frantically humping the pig parts he fantasizes that it is an enormous corpulent woman screaming obscene instructions and encouragement. The editing flashes between the pig flesh, human flesh, butchery, fornication, masturbation, and close-ups of things that might be any of the above until you’re nauseous, confused, and ready to pass out.
Psychologist Harry Stack Sullivan once wrote about the boundaries we erect to differentiate between what he termed “the me” and the “not me.” Sullivan posed a simple experiment. Spit into a glass. Pause a moment, and then drink it back down. Many would recoil at the idea but Sullivan asks us to consider how arbitrary our reaction is. When the saliva is in your mouth it doesn’t bother you, but just a second later it is repulsive.
In Taxidermia, we are faced with all of our mortal productions. It's up to us to gauge our reactions. I giant mass of innards is both a repulsive horror, but as it steams in the cold it is also fascinating and even beautiful.
The U.S. Military has a division that weaponizes horrible smells. In their research, they found that the key to a truly intolerable stink is that it must have pleasant and attractive elements. It’s as if it has to be a bait and switch. You need to be intrigued or aroused before the hammer comes down.
Surrealist Merit Oppenhiem’s Fur-lined Teacup from 1936 plays with this dynamic as well. It is discordant and uncomfortable but it is also sexy and evocative. Similarly, in Taxedermia, there is a scene where two people are huddled outside in the snow. We watch their interaction, but it isn’t until halfway through the scene that we notice that the snowflakes falling around them are little white feathers. The accumulation on the ground, on their coats, and in their hair isn’t the pure white crystals we thought they were, they are something corporal and dirty.
Morosgovanyi’s son is Kalman an enormous hulk of a man born with a pigtail that we watch Morosgovanyi cut off in close-up while the baby Kalman wails. Morosgovanyi’s world was that of the peasants. A farm filled with mud and shit. Morosgovanyi’s son inhabits a bourgeois world of Soviet-style progress. To emphasize the irony of Soviet culture Kalman is a competitive eater. A communist country obsessed with production and efficiency stages a grotesque display of conspicuous consumption. We are treated to several scenes of Kalman methodically gorging himself as well as expelling such copious amounts of vomit that even Monty Pythons Mr. Creosote would cringe. The competitions are conducted with Soviet Flags and dancing girls. It's like some psychotic pageant. They eat giant gelatinous blocks of horse sausage or gallons of caviar out of a red trough-shaped like a Soviet star.
Kalman gets married and has a son, Balatony. When Balatony grows up he becomes a taxidermist. Just in case there is some bit of bloody, fatty, goo that Pálfi missed in the first two-thirds of the film, he manages to cover all his morbid bases in this last third. Even so, there is still a kind of poetic beauty in the madness. We watch Balatony prepare an orangutan for stuffing. It's disgusting and brutal but also compelling. Instead of flashing us a shockingly gory moment and leaving us to imagine the rest, the camera watches intently as Balatony separates the skin from the fat and facia. It gives us time to get used to what we are seeing and examine it.
Balatony is a very creepy and completely miserable man. When he is not stuffing animal carcasses he must administer to his aging father’s needs. Kalman has grown so fat he can no longer move. The relationship between the two men and what transpires in the last third of the film is truly jarring and bizarre. Some things are better off left to the viewer to discover on their own, but the father being immobilized by excessive consumption, and the son being enslaved to an ungrateful beast who longs only for its past glory sets up abundant metaphors about capitalism, communism, and the masses of people caught in-between.
Taxidermia uses the human body as its arena. It is the vehicle for discussing our motivations, our excesses, our attempts at control, our relationship to society, and the state. In his book Discipline and Punish, Foucault tracks the changing relationship between the body and the state. A relationship that begins as corporal, where punishment is meted out physically on the body, but changes to something more insidious where the state targets our minds instead of our bodies.
Public hangings and floggings made obvious the power dynamic of the state and its ability to control behavior through force. Foucault compares this to the modern age and the rise of the surveillance state where the power dynamic between the individual and the state is hidden by an internalized coercion. By imagining the eyes of our neighbors and coworkers upon us, by raising the specter of Big Brother the blunt violence of the past is replaced with the more insidious hegemony of a state-sponsored super-ego that sounds like our own voice.
Taxidermia depicts this dynamic but reminds us that the mind can not be separated from the body. The brain is an organ like any other. No matter how abstract our thoughts may be we are still bound by our material existence. Our body is what anchors us to reality like a boat with its anchor down and its engines spinning. We aspire to become many things but we are always still flesh and blood and vomit, and semen, and sweat, and urine, and tears, and all the other things we produce and either accept or reject.
Marx focused on humans as producers of objects. He wrote about factories and the means of production but our bodies are already in a constant state of production and consumption. All life must destroy life in order to maintain itself and through that destruction turn the life consumed into waste. Life eats life and shits out waste which is then eaten by other life.
To make life more palatable we try not to think in these terms. We essentially hide the truth away and sniff fine wine seeking out the notes of oak or pear instead of slurping down the rotten juice of dead grapes in order to feel the queasy joy brought on by having ingested poison. So too the state prefers its own illusions of humanity and egalitarian justice and masks its poison in rarefied ideals.
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2020.07.09 22:28 myloveislikewoah Sex caught on surveillance camera

Took me forever to copy/paste 😂
PALMA, Majorca — A provocative theory in vogue among physicists and philosophers suggests that we humans are not experiencing, and have not ever experienced, reality.
What we understand as reality, the theory proposes, may merely be one of an astronomical number of vivid computer simulations of an ancient past, designed by humanity’s distant descendants to study the evolution of their forebears. If so, the United States of America is about as real as, say, the Mushroom Kingdom in an unattended game of Super Mario Bros. Our creators are not the deities of any major world religion, but the architects of the simulation we inhabit.
How might they perceive our lives — this advanced civilization for whom every facet of our existence, from elation to exhaustion, is merely edu-tainment about the human experience?
Hopefully with an excitement similar to the rapt fascination with which the production team of “Below Deck Mediterranean” watched the cast of “Below Deck Mediterranean” living out the events that would become season five of “Below Deck Mediterranean” (currently airing on Bravo) twenty-four hours a day for six straight weeks, from a small headquarters hidden in a stateroom on the “Below Deck Mediterranean” yacht as it sailed around Majorca late last summer.
What happened?” exclaimed Courtland Cox, a gray-bearded, Argus-eyed executive producer, after one of more than a dozen simultaneous feeds broadcast Malia White, the franchise’s first-ever female bosun, cutting herself off with a midsentence expletive.
“Seriously?” Ms. White grumbled on the monitor.
“What happened?” Mr. Cox, of the 51 Minds production company, repeated, voice rising in concern. In the cramped control room, which was, by the accounts of all present, a decadently spacious control room, several pairs of eyes pored over video monitor mosaics — large computer screens subdivided into Brady Bunch tiles, each displaying a different view of the action taking place on or in the immediate vicinity of the yacht. The screens rested on a plywood platform erected weeks earlier over the magnificent bed in (what The Wellington’s paying guests were not aware was) the vessel’s true master suite.
Did that boat—?” Mr. Cox interrupted himself as Ms. White recommenced fuming onscreen. (“Sometimes life really sucks,” she said to no one.) Because cast members are banned from interacting with, or even acknowledging, the coterie of producers, editors, camera operators, audio specialists, fixers, and occasional representatives from Bravo network brass who spend weeks tracking their movements — much of the production crew’s on-location work consists of attempting to reconstruct the cast’s inner monologues as they unfold inside cast members’ minds.
To aid in this implausible task, the production crew relies on 19 cameras; typed chronologies of every action that has taken place since they began rolling; a walkie-talkie tuned, baby monitor-style, to the channel where the cast members communicate about work; extra ears in the form of two editors perpetually plugged into alternate live audio feeds; architectural diagrams of the yacht on which they sail; a hand-drawn map of the marina in which they dock; call sheets laying out each day’s likely schedule; cheat sheets featuring the photos, names, and roles of boat crew members (“DECKHAND”) and yacht guests (“PRIMARY’S FRIEND, MARRIED TO YUKI”); and, at time of filming, more than 160 episodes’ worth of experience anticipating and on-the-fly adapting to human behavior. Thus, in seconds, Mr. Cox deduced what had prompted Ms. White’s reaction: a newly-arrived boat was obstructing her path through the marina — exactly as her boss, Captain Sandy Yawn, had warned might happen, over Ms. White’s breezy protestations hours earlier. Mr. Cox’s chuckle was diabolic.
Beyond ‘Housewives’ Those who have never seen “Below Deck,” “Below Deck Mediterranean” or “Below Deck Sailing Yacht,” and who do not wish to spend the rest of their lives glued to Bravo’s flotation-themed programming, must never, ever watch even one minute of either program, for the “Below Deck” franchise lures in viewers with the pitiless ease of sirens summoning sailors to hurl their ships against the sun-warmed Grecian coast.
Typically, every incarnation is set in a new locale and follows what is presented generally as an eight to 10 trip “season” in the life of a luxury charter boat, from the perspective of the vessel’s crew.
Unlike Bravo’s ostensible tentpole franchise “The Real Housewives,” which depicts the lives of the same cabals of wealthy women year after year — and often underperforms “Below Deck” in ratings, according to Noah Samton, a senior vice president of current production for Bravo — the yacht shows feature few familiar faces. Apart from captains and chief stewardesses, the majority of crew members arrive fresh each season, and are never seen again.
The ultrawealthy guests are still more evanescent. Viewers are told, and immediately permitted to forget, their names as, one after another, each group of six to 10 high-rolling vacationers is welcomed aboard. At its salty core, the franchise is a workplace drama. Just as one needn’t be a wind turbine technician to appreciate a warm summer breeze, no knowledge of, or even interest in, boats, or the sea, is required to enjoy 900 hours of “Below Deck.” The most fundamental element is the ship’s hierarchy, which simultaneously commands and receives no respect. Multiple seasons in, the landlocked viewer may yet be unable to articulate even one specific duty of a lead deckhand — but what the viewer will know, and will demand, is that he not speak to the bosun like that ever again if he wants to continue serving on this ship.
The operation’s inherent expense and scheduling logistics — booking 47 hotel rooms for six straight weeks for production, for instance — render the filming timeline largely inflexible. Whereas a season of “Housewives” might shoot for four to five months, “Below Deck” is allotted one third of that time to produce the same number of episodes. It is, for a reality show, uncommonly constrained by the bounds of reality.
“You can’t say, ‘Oh, the show’s not going great. Let’s extend shooting three weeks,’” Mr. Samton said. He was seated in “Below Deck” mission control as part of his traditional once-a-season set visit to ensure production was running smoothly. “The window for shooting the show is the window and that’s it. Whatever we get, we get and we’re done.”
Which is why it was tough, that September morning, to tell who was more distressed that the yacht had not left the dock: the captain or the network executive.
The problem was wind gusts, which, for insurance reasons, precluded Captain Sandy’s attempt to pull out of the crowded marina, lest she assume personal liability for any possible damage or injury, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
It’s heartbreaking,” said Mr. Samton. “I actually didn’t sleep last night.”
When working out of his NBCUniversal office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, Mr. Samton receives daily briefings of the cast’s activities, assembled by the shows’ producers — similar to behavioral reports from your child’s teacher (“except so much more exciting!” said Mr. Samton). Per production policy, the production crew cannot influence the captain’s decision about how or when to operate the boat — such as by notifying her that the wind has died down to insurance-approved levels.
Cast members scrambled, around midday, to orchestrate a beach picnic that would distract the guests from the fact their seafaring was being limited to those waves that had migrated from the open water to lap gently against their docked luxury yacht. In the control room, where crew members had been working since six that morning, anxiety begat snacking.
“I eat stuff in the control room that I would never eat in my real life, ever,” said Mr. Cox, perusing a packed shelf of Spanish supermarket treats. “I get halfway through a thing of gummies and I’m disgusted with myself. But I just start stress-eating Swedish Fish.”
Simultaneously, on one monitor, the yacht’s chef, Hindrigo Lorran, nicknamed Kiko, prepared a sumptuous spread of jamon Ibérico to tide the guests over until their six-course dinner.
“Every location we go to, there’s some sort of special flavor of Pringles,” said Mr. Cox, reclaiming his chair. “So that’s a highlight for everybody.”
How to Make Reality on a Boat A suitable “Below Deck” locale offers easy access to a major airport (to fly charter guests in and out, at network expense), six weeks’ worth of available hotel rooms to accommodate production (in Thailand, every crew member ended up in a mini-villa), and a robust network of local suppliers able to continuously outfit the yacht with perishables like ice and fresh meat. It must also, of course, be a place that will look beautiful on TV — the better to complement beautiful cast members.
While the pool of professional, available yachties is smaller than that of, say, housewives, it is, at least, a pool crowded with foxy, daring exhibitionists, which makes it conducive to casting.
The yachting industry, Mr. Samton said, “attracts the kind of people that are good TV.”
“First of all, they’re a lot of young, attractive people. A lot of people that are sort of escaping their lives for some reason, or have this adventurous streak in them.”
The zigzag of frantic, round-the-clock shifts followed by sudden reprieves between charters — plus regular windfalls in the form of huge tips (the average, divided evenly among all boat crew members — including off-camera crew, like engineers — is around $20,000) — fosters a work hard, party hard atmosphere.
“People who aren’t on TV are pretty good at keeping drama behind closed doors,” said Mr. Samton. “We’re really good at finding the people who are going to wear it on their sleeves.” (A psychiatric evaluation is a standard part of the casting process.)
When asked if cast members were highly paid compared to other yacht workers in exchange for appearing on television, Mr. Samton said “No, they get paid their normal —” and then cut himself off (“I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about finances.) A spokesperson for Bravo later confirmed “most” cast members’ pay is “roughly the same as they would make doing their same job on a similar sized boat.” Once the network has convinced nine professional yacht workers to open their lives up to a TV audience, production’s task is to outfit a boat in such a way that it becomes virtually impossible for them to escape that audience.
“They’re here to share every aspect of their lives,” said Mr. Samton in the control room. “Those are the rules. The only place you have privacy on the boat is the bathroom.” Even bathroom sanctity has limits; cast members are informed at the beginning of a season that if two or more people enter one at the same time, a camera should be expected to follow.
“Not just because of sex,” said Mr. Samton. “It could be they’re having a conversation — they hate so-and-so. We need to know that.”
But also because of sex: Toward the end of filming the third season of “Below Deck,” producers discovered that two cast members had secretly been meeting for trysts in their ship’s laundry room — an area that, by chance, was not within the range of any mounted cameras. “The result,” said Mr. Samton, “is now we have a camera in the laundry room.”
In addition to surveillance cameras, there are hand-held cameras, remote-controlled mounted “robo-cams” (which can silently zoom in to reveal the contents of a deckhand’s sext), and the odd Go-Pro stashed somewhere like the inside of a walk-in cooler.
“There’s nowhere they can hide,” Mr. Samton said — including the solitude of their own minds, since cast members are forbidden to listen to music while working, even on headphones, because of its potential to prevent conversations. Headphones are permitted during the legally mandated breaks the cast takes from boat duties. Many use the time to nap — first waving their arms to get the attention of the control room, because they are unable to darken the lights in their own cabins. In the cigar lounge, Tania Hamidi, co-executive producer, gestured at Impressionistic art adorning the walls. “These, believe it or not,” she said, and pointed to a shelf on the other side of the room “are photos of that shelf.”
Copyright law prevents Bravo from broadcasting images it does not own. Thus, during a week of harried preproduction, down came the yacht owner’s paintings of Bill Clinton and Che Guevara; up went photographs of the room’s own shelves, shot by the show’s director of photography, Laurent Basset.
“Every morning,” said Ms. Hamidi, “I come in and —” she pressed firmly around the edges of the peel-away pictures “— reinforce.” The possibility of one falling during a dramatic moment was an abstract source of worry.
Fake panels were placed over mirrored walls in one guest cabin so camera operators could film the space without being caught in reflections. Along an interior corridor, real panels were removed (later put back) to wire for cameras, lights and sounds without compromising the vessel’s watertightness. In the master bedroom-slash-control room, expensive wood and marble surfaces disappeared under protective cardboard and blue painter’s tape. Across one cardboard wall was scrawled a countdown of sorts: “ALL WE HAVE LEFT IS” — here, part of the original message (“THE ENTIRE THING”) had been crossed out in black marker, and replaced with an update — “THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF IT.” It was the third charter of the season.
While the cast receives time off from guest pampering duties in between charters, the production crew, which is also responsible for filming that time off, receives just three days off for the duration of the six week round-the-clock filming blitz. On these days, cast members are sequestered in hotels and asked not to communicate, in an effort to prevent stories from developing further. (It’s not the only break they have from each other: Every few days, in between charters, cast members are individually interrupted from their work restoring the boat for incoming guests, and taken to film talking head interviews about the events immediately preceding.) Late in the afternoon, Nadine Rajabi, another executive producer, arrived, swapping Balenciaga Speed Trainers for white-soled boat shoes to relieve Mr. Cox of his post. The final task for Mr. Cox was to catch her up on the events that had transpired since she left the boat 12 hours earlier, around 4 a.m.
This, Mr. Cox did in such meticulous detail there is not room to describe even one-tenth of it. His report included information like the color of one guest’s sneakers (yellow); a bird’s eye explanation of a walkie talkie-based miscommunication the boat crew themselves had not yet untangled; an assessment of Captain Sandy’s mental state vis-à-vis wind conditions (“She’s kind of psyched herself out a little bit about it…”); a thorough recounting of the various mishaps associated with the ill-fated beach picnic (“…then Alex is trying to pour, essentially, a full double magnum of rosé into a tiny Iceland Spring water bottle…”); the particulars of a gossip session between two stewardesses; and an overheard bit of conversation in which one guest bragged to another about having participated in a sexual act in the hot tub the night before.
“We had eyes on the Jacuzzi the whole time,” said Ms. Rajabi dismissively. “It’s not true.” (“He wishes!” she added.)
But what really captured the production crew’s attention was the quality of the table decorations laid out by the second-in-command stewardess Christine Drake, who goes by “Bugsy.”
“Sandy literally yelled at Hannah last year about the table settings,” explained Mr. Samton, referring to chief stewardess Hannah Ferrier. On the show, Ms. Ferrier displays an inveterate resentment of Ms. Drake — and no particular flair for table décor. “So there’s this whole deep history about the table settings.” Mr. Cox credited Ms. Drake with setting “the most beautiful table you’ve ever seen,” shortly after setting foot on the boat.
Ms. Rajabi looked forward to the ascendant levels of showmanship Ms. Drake would bring to her arrangements of small colored rocks, shells, and glass marbles over the course of the season. “They’re really incredible,” she said.
The obsession with the tablescapes represented a key element of production’s work in the field: anticipating flash points of drama.
“It’s figuring out the archetypes of who the people are and trying to be two steps ahead of that psychologically,” said Ms. Rajabi.
(“Table looks amazing, doesn’t it?” Captain Sandy observed to Ms. Ferrier on a monitor.)
“We watch this like a soccer game,” said Ms. Rajabi. “We’re, like, screaming.”
“This is like a soccer game,” agreed Mr. Samton, “except stuff happens in this.”
The raw footage streaming into the control room so closely resembled the final polished product that, on the monitors, the cast members felt as far away as they do on television. Inside the commandeered master suite, the production crew’s parental affection for the cast (“Careful! Oh, Bugs, don’t hurt yourself!” Mr. Cox pleaded as Ms. Drake ran to find plastic cups) battled for dominance against their incurable addiction to drama (“Kiko! Show me Kiko, Vinny! Show me Kiko! Vinny, show me Kiko!” he yelled to a camera operator, realizing the chef was receiving bad news about dinner).
Mr. Cox described his increased ability to anticipate people’s reactions as “the only muscle I have that’s actually grown over the 13 seasons.”
“I find in my brain, when people are having a conversation, my brain instantly shifts to watch the person as they’re getting a piece of information,” he said. “I’m so used to anticipating guest reaction on stuff, I go to restaurants now and I literally, when a plate is set down, stare at the person who’s about to eat it. I’m like, ‘Oh, he doesn’t like it. And she’s annoyed that he doesn’t like it.’ And my wife is like, ‘Will you please just keep eating?’”
That’s a Wrap Filming for the current season wrapped in early autumn., The cast left the boat, the master suite bed re-emerged from its plywood sarcophagus, and most members of the production crew took a short vacation, to travel, or to go home and sleep for a week. Then it was time to carve more than 4,000 hours of footage into 20, 44-minute installments.
“You’re writing backwards,” said Mr. Samton over a video chat this past spring. “You’re creating the story after. It’s somebody giving you 1000 words and saying ‘Put these in the order of an essay.’”
Using chronological activity logs assembled in the field, a team led by Ms. Rajabi spent two or three weeks sketching out story arcs for the season and per episode.
“It’s like looking for a needle in a stack of needles,” said Ms. Rajabi, also on the call. In March, to accommodate remote work during the coronavirus pandemic, 51 Minds shipped every editor working in postproduction on “Below Deck Med” a weighty hard drive containing 40 terabytes of video footage — quadruple the quantity of data generated annually by NASA’s Hubble Telescope. (Asked about the coronavirus’s effect on future seasons, Mr. Samton said the network was “exploring changes to almost every aspect of production, from where we shoot the show to how we shoot the show.”)
Footage review in postproduction regularly turns up significant moments that passed unnoticed in the field. Any unearthed context can give viewers insight into cast members’ motives and reactions. “People aren’t just fighting to fight,” said Ms. Rajabi. “They’re triggered for a certain reason.”
But explanatory grace is not doled out equally among the cast. On June 17, Bravo and 51 Minds issued a joint statement announcing that “Below Deck Mediterranean” deckhand Peter Hunziker, who is white, had been “terminated” after sharing a sexualized image of a naked black woman in chains to his Instagram account. The announcement came days after the network fired four cast members from “Vanderpump Rules,” a reality show built around a California restaurant, for racist behavior.
Less than a handful of cast members in the “Below Deck” franchise have been people of color. The firings followed months of increasingly vocal criticism about the lack of racial diversity in the casts of the network’s most prominent shows.
In their statement, Bravo and 51 Minds vowed to edit the show “to minimize” Mr. Hunziker’s “appearance for subsequent episodes.” Ms. Rajabi put no stock in the common reality TV star defense of having received a bad edit. “Everything is true to what we shoot,” she said — though occasionally chopped and screwed in pursuit of a more efficient kind of truth.
“They’re stuck on a boat, and they talk about the same things over and over and over again,” Ms. Rajabi said. “It’s basically, how do you tell the story in 45 seconds at a time?”
The answer, with thousands of hours of footage to choose from: however you want.
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2020.06.10 19:27 brownboiwitdabag Camera surveillance sex caught on

I mean there is way too much evidence, it really shouldn’t even be a conspiracy. Epstein’s longtime associate and procurer, Ghislane Maxwell, her father was one of the most famous and well respected Mossad agents? Robert Maxwell’s funeral was pretty much a state funeral considering the prime minister and ″no less than six serving and former heads of Israeli intelligence" were there. Oh, and also the fact that he was buried on a holy mountain in Israel! I mean one of the most famous Epstein victims, Virginia Giuffre, claims in her deposition that she was “instructed to sleep with Bill Richardson and George Mitchell”. Richardson at the time was the Sec of Energy and was overseeing a vital nuclear technology deal between the U.S and Israel. Mitchell at the time was brokering peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian authority. Too many coincidences. He may not have been a spy or an agent in a traditional sense, but it’s very likely both him, and Ghislaine Maxwell are connected to Mossad and that he was blackmailing people. He had cameras in every corner of his houses (bathrooms, bedrooms) and even on his island. There was 24/7 surveillance footage. When one of the survivors tried to escape the island, Epstein was able to find her right away and this is where she realized there was surveillance of the entire island (this is from the documentary). Powerful billionaires, politicians having sex with underage girls. This is what Epstein meant that he was “never going to get caught”. He was running a blackmail scheme. I wonder if the truth will ever come out haha.
Edit(s): there is literally a video of Epstein getting off of a plane after returning from Israel BEFORE PLEADING GUILTY
https://youtu.be/zH-2oBpwa84
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2020.05.19 12:09 -screamin- [SPOILERS FOR ALL S01] In-depth breakdown and commentary - S01E02 "Run Boy Run"

S01E01 - We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals breakdown
Here's my breakdown of the next episode. Once again, I'd love to see comments and discussion, what you saw, whether there's anything I can improve on or anything I've missed. Thanks in advance for taking part!
P.S. Now that we know that Season 2 will premiere July 31, I'm going to need to space these out a bit. Analysis for S01E03 - "Extra Ordinary" will be posted 29th May, around noon GMT. See ya then!
S01E02 - Run Boy Run

This continues in a comment chain below. If this is useful to people, please leave a comment and start a discussion! Thanks for taking part!
S01E03 - Extra Ordinary breakdown
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2020.05.15 01:26 buygolly Sex caught on surveillance camera

American police accountability is a much bigger problem than we realize but we aren't as aware of it as we should be because they're able to use conservative culture wars "thank our heroes" politics to "control the narrative," the "law and order" politicians, the news interviews, the camera footage evidence, the arrests ("black and white Americans use cannabis at similar levels" but black Americans are 800% more likely to be punished for it and are still getting arrested even after legalization), the statistics themselves
Examples:

His officers burned a dog alive for no reason, then laughed as the dog’s owners cried.
He staged a fake assassination attempt against himself, costing taxpayers more than $1 million.
Can't fit any more from Bad_Cop_No_Donut
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2020.05.01 05:34 the14thaccount Sex caught on surveillance camera

WeWatchedAMovie had modest beginnings but only got bigger. We were just two guys making a YouTube channel… one about horror movies. That was our plot. Again, nothing special or different than the hundreds of other channels… Except for one thing: me and J got drunk. Both of us watched the movies and reviewed them. That was our niche. And Goddamn, we were born for it.
Born and raised in small town Kentucky, we’d been doing this channel for well over ten years now. Through this time, the horror genre had changed. YouTube blew up. Our channel hit a hundred thousand subscribers… But J and I never changed. We’d been bros since high school and only grew closer through our YouTube “careers.”
Now in our early 30s, J and I considered branching out. Not leaving YouTube or WeWatchedAMovie behind. Just a way to broaden our shared horror passion. I was married with two young daughters, J was divorced and constantly broke. But new content equaled more cash. So fuck it, we decided to do a spin-off.
And why not? We made a nice team. I was a goofball with an athletic frame minus the beer belly. J the shorter, smartass sidekick. Our comedy meshed as did our review styles. Beyond the YouTube hijinks, I wanted to be a writer. And with that, I looked for the artistic merits to horror cinema. Even the shittier movies. J, on the other hand, stayed a fucking cynic. The guy more relentless than a movie snob on steroids.
So here we were in January. Mike and J down and out and pondering ideas. The two of us were the lone producers so we had to figure out the ultimate question: What else could we do with horror and booze? Inspired by a couple of twelve-packs and binging Ghost Adventures over the weekend, the idea hit us both at the same time: Drunk Hauntings. Yeah, that’s right. J and I were gonna take our traveling band throughout the country. On a tour of terror. Booze, ghosts. All of it on a livestream! And best of all by spending the night at haunted houses, we wouldn’t even have to spend anything on hotel fare.
This lightning bolt idea energized us. Within a few days, we told our Patreon members the plan. Only we had someone particular in mind for our premiere episode. A NoSleep writer who sometimes lurked in our comments. The long-distance bromance we shared with rhonnie14 hit its culmination.
Yeah, we obviously didn’t “know” the guy in person. Rhonnie was a horror writer out in Georgia. A damn good one but also a total weirdo… not that J and I had room to talk. From his deep voice on the phone to his quirky mannerisms and dark emo swoop, Rhonnie always imbued horror charisma. He got the genre. Lived and breathed it like us… Not to mention was a bit of a drunk like we were. So naturally, we got along. At least through technology. Plus, I knew Rhonnie with the silent h would be an obvious draw for the first episode. Both for his fans and ours.
Soon, I called Rhonnie and asked him if he had any locations we could check out. Any haunted hotspots. To our luck, Rhonnie’s friend Tanner owned a supposedly-haunted house down in Albany, Georgia. One on a road that had four churches. And in the middle of fucking nowhere. The Hardup Drive Haunt it was called… And from the brief research J and me did, we vouched the location enough. Tanner gave Rhonnie permission and then we were off and running.
In J’s SUV, we made the Southern fried drive. Just two dudes, a shit-ton of beer, and all our own equipment. Even more interesting was that Rhonnie told us this Tanner guy wanted to stay with us during the weekend filming. His family owned the house but no one ever stayed there… So powerful was the creep factor. But Tanner’s curiosity won out... apparently, he was yet another drunk we could use for our show.
Rhonnie also informed us his buddy Skyler would be staying there. Skyler was an indie filmmaker so passionate he was flying down from Kansas City, Missouri. So now we had a bachelor-party/reality-show-crew combo rocking for this fateful weekend in January. This shit was getting real… I just hoped these motherfuckers knew J and I couldn’t pay much.
Regardless of the history, Albany was one ugly city. A smorgasbord of poverty, urban decay, and towering old houses. The town’s weather about as cold as its corrupt soul.
Even with the address, J and I still got fucking lost… Rhonnie and his crew had to meet us at a Walmart before leading us beyond the city limits. I’m talking we followed his Camry out to the fucking boonies, man. Where the four churches and a haunted house awaited us.
I slouched back in the passenger’s seat, J behind the wheel. Our traveler’s cups chocked full of booze. Led Zeppelin II at a manageable volume on the radio. Our warm-up music.
Struggling to stay warm, I looked on at the rural isolation. At the farmland and endless forest.
“So are you sure this is a haunted house?” J quipped. His bright eyes faced me. A mischievous smile on his round face. Our facial hair struggling to grow but beyond disarray at this point. “You sure Rhonnie ain’t taking us to like the fucking Sawyer family or something?”
I cracked up. “Naw, that was Texas not Georgia.”
“You know Deliverance was filmed in Georgia…”
I gave J a light shove. “Shut the fuck up, man!”
Grabbing his beer, J chuckled. “Hey, come on! I mean look at this place!”
I ran a hand through my spiked hair. J had a point. Aside from the sprawling woods, I’d only seen the occasional trailer or shack. None of them inhabitable.
“Aw, look at this shit!” I heard J say.
“What?” I asked. I looked on to see the silver Camry turning on to a side road. A fucking dirt road at that… Its tombstone of a green sign read: Hardup Drive.
We followed Rhonnie. Somehow, we entered more isolation. A countrified crypt. Towering trees blocked out most of the sunlight.
Feeling a little uneasy, I watched us pass cavernous ditches. At least my iPhone still had four bars. “You think the livestream will be okay?”
“Aw yeah, should be fine,” J answered. He pointed toward the back. Our stacks of equipment. “Rhonnie said the service out here’s perfect.”
“What, for real?”
“Crazy, I know.”
For a few moments, we saw nothing. No houses, damn sure no churches. Hell, I didn’t even see a critter in those woods.
Then my iPhone jolted to life. Rhonnie was calling.
“Who is it?” J said.
I answered the call through his stereo.
“You guys good?” Rhonnie’s voice asked. He already sounded excited. Already hitting that beer buzz, I figured. The cheap beer buzz.
I looked on at Hardup Drive. “Uh, yeah. Just how far away’s the house exactly?”
“We’re not too far.”
“Okay…” On the other end, J and I heard constant chatter. Tanner and Skyler’s voices.
“So there’s supposed to be seven churches,” Rhonnie said. “But I think there’s only four of them left.”
“Yeah, there is,” Tanner’s voice added. “There’s only four now.”
J grinned. “So what the Hell happened to the other three?”
“Long story-” Tanner started.
“We don’t know!” Rhonnie interrupted.
Then we finally saw life. Or what was more like death... A decrepit white church stood there on its last gasp. Its yard conquered by high grass... as was its crumbling cemetery. Amidst the windows and cobwebs was a stone cross. A memorial somehow surviving almost a century of neglect.
“Oh shit, is that the first one?” J asked.
“Yeah!” Rhonnie said.
We saw houses now. Nothing pretty or exotic. Small and average homes scattered about. Some cabins. Their properties large. And hey, there were people standing outside. Old fucking people. But shit, they at least smiled and waved at us!
“And here’s the second one,” Rhonnie said.
On our right was a tall brick church. There was no cemetery. No stairs leading up to its rottings porch and bright yellow door. Graffiti and cuss words ran along its walls like spray-painted scripture.
“Looks like ass,” J commented.
“It gets better!” We heard Tanner yell. I heard Skyler chuckle behind him.
We passed some abandoned trailers before coming upon the remnants of church number three. The entire roof was missing…. ripped off by the hands of God or the Devil himself. Nothing remained on top. Weirdly enough, everything else was fine. The church looked clean, the yard pristine. Its cemetery decorated by fresh flowers and spotless grave markers.
“Like check out this fucker!” Tanner’s voice said.
Amidst J’s drunken laughter, I looked on at Rhonnie’s Camry. Sure, we were encountering houses and buildings. Some signs of civilization. Still I couldn’t shake the dread. We were still out in the middle of nowhere... And closer and closer to that fateful house.
The area just got darker. I gazed off at the forest. An eerie canvas only interrupted by old fucking houses.
“So where’s the fourth one?” J asked Rhonnie.
“It’s hard to see,” Rhonnie replied.
And he was right. Buried in the back of the woods was an unsettling foundation. I strained to see through the trees and weeds. To see a porch left all alone. This church nothing more than a few wooden benches forever awaiting its next sermon.
I leaned in closer toward J. Both of us transfixed by the church’s nearby graveyard. The tombstones all covered in mold. Its small gate sinking straight into the ground. A slow descent to death... much like the rest of the church.
“Shit…” J commented.
“I told y’all!” Rhonnie said.
Like a guided tour, we continued following Rhonnie down Hardup Drive. A road tailor-made for horror movies... And us.
Soon, we passed one of the nicer homes. A large cabin. Flowers bloomed in the yard’s garden. Azalea bushes led up to a mailbox. Standing in the driveway, an elderly couple waved at us as we drove past. The woman had long flowing gray hair, the man’s smile so big and wide. Dressed in their Sunday best, they looked to be in good shape. Even if they were over eighty.
“Hey, Mrs. Bellinger!” I heard Tanner yell to them.
J looked toward the radio. Our call was now at the ten minute mark.
“So not to be a dick, but are we getting any closer?” J asked.
“Right here!!” Tanner said.
There it was on our left. The Hardup Drive Haunt in all its creepy glory. What we saw earlier was unsettling enough... But it had nothing on this. The Haunt was the real fucking deal.
Yeah, the house wasn’t a shitshow or dilapidated. Its two story structure stood strong and defiant. The wood sturdy. Its white paint somehow perfect. The lawn trim if barren. Dirt patches were everywhere… Possibly burial spots for all I knew.
Regardless of its attempt at normalcy, the house was still frightening. There were the crooked shutters. The lonely front porch. The rooster windvane on the roof no one wanted to claim. This was a farmhouse of the dead…
“Up ahead is Kirby’s,” Tanner told us. “We can get more beer and shit there later.”
Too scared to talk, J and I looked down the road. We saw the brick convenience store. Its appearance struggling to stave off starvation. Struggling to keep its pleasant aura of 1930s Americana. The gas pumps looked to be stolen from a museum. Its parking lot dirt and rubble rather than pavement. Kirby’s General Store read the store’s swinging hand-painted sign.
J stole another nervous sip from his cup. The buzz doing nothing for his fear.
“Definitely need more beer,” we heard Rhonnie say.
“I might get a souvenir,” Skyler’s wry voice noted.
J and I followed Rhonnie down the long dirt driveway. The house was in the very back. Far from Hardup Drive and right in front of the suffocating forest. An army of metal and wooden sheds lined up in the backyard. Homemade monuments somehow standing the test of time... Their doors all wide open.
The realization sunk into J and I. The rising dread. We’d come so far… and now we were face-to-face with the beast. Sure, horror movies were scary but they weren’t personal. They weren’t threatening. But now those goofy ghost and haunted house movies manifested right before us. They beckoned us… We were really gonna need to get shit-faced just to make it through one night much less the weekend.
The Haunt’s interior wasn’t any less spooky. The lighting was dim. The furniture stolen from a 1940s Gothic drama. Needless to say, its age showed. As did its proper style.
A cold draft permeated through each and every room. Here we were in the dead of winter and not even this huge house could give us an escape. The heater was an older model so unreliable, of course.
But there was some cool shit! Every room except the living room had portraits galore. Both framed paintings and black-and-white photographs from a bygone era. All of which, according to Tanner, featured people prominent in both Albany and Hardup Drive’s seven churches. Hell, it certainly showed in their suits and dresses. The clean haircuts, the groomed facial hair. And the perfect make-up. Their fashion no different than the Bellingers we saw earlier. To our surprise, the churches consisted of a very diverse crowd. Young, old. Black, white. All these people shared were the same lower middle class roots. The same devotion to Christ.
There was a prominent person in each and every photo: a tall, muscular man. He was handsome even in the pressed suits. Too sophisticated for bumfuck, Georgia. He was the centerpiece in all the pictures. Women and men admired him. They gravitated to this guy. J and I were thinking preacher… judging by this guy’s charismatic smile anyway. Even if the shaggy straight hair and beard didn’t quite fit the clean-cut stereotype you’d expect from the Bible Belt. This dude seemed to be a hippie reverend about half a century before such gurus became en vogue.
We should’ve been glad Tanner at least had a Smart TV. Otherwise, we’d have been stuck with a vinyl record player for entertainment. Or those transistor radios in the bedrooms.
That night, the five of us congregated in front of the living room’s flatscreen. Skyler sat beside J and I on the couch. Tanner in a recliner, Rhonnie on a wooden chair next to him. All three of them were attractive guys. Rhonnie the scrawniest, Tanner the tallest. Skyler the loudest. Tanner had a sensitive tough guy look going, Skyler the eccentric filmmaker to Rhonnie’s weirdo writer.
Together, we’d already set up cameras throughout the house. Including one by the T.V. We had total surveillance for this livestream.
Rhonnie and his buddies kept us entertained. Especially now that everybody was well past drunk. Everyone with a beer in his hand.
Skyler looked over at Rhonnie. “Ashley can’t make it this weekend?”
Rhonnie and Tanner exchanged amused looks. “Naw,” Rhonnie began. “She wanted to but like her friends came calling.” He took a long swig. “You know how that shit goes.”
“I feel you,” I said.
“What about you, Tanner?” Skyler asked.
Tanner just shrugged his shoulders. “Totally single.”
“Nice,” J commented. “Like me.”
“You’re divorced!” I quipped.
Laughing, J took another sip. “Well... yeah.”
“So Skyler and I are the only ones married,” I said.
“Pretty much,” Skyler said with a smile. “You couldn’t get your wife to come down either?”
“Hell no! She don’t like scary shit like me.” I grinned at J. “Like us, I should say.”
Taking the spotlight, J clapped his hands together. “So we got ourselves a regular sausage fest?”
“True,” Skyler chuckled.
“Five drunk white guys in a haunted house, what can go wrong?”
“So you think all those photos and shit connect to the other churches?” I asked Tanner.
“Oh yeah,” Tanner replied. “They were too close together, man. There’s definitely a connection.” He pointed toward the wall behind us. A blank tapestry. “Mom and dad said there used to be one picture there actually.”
J cracked a smile. “Shit, I believe it!”
Tanner ran a hand through his short hair. “They said one day it just vanished. No clue where the Hell it went.” He took a swig.
“That’s fucking weird,” I commented.
Flashing a smile, Rhonnie held his can of Busch Light toward me. Everyone else held Michelob Ultras. You know, normal beer. “Hey, I appreciate the beer, man!” he yelled.
“You told us two thirty packs,” J quipped. “Hell, as cheap as that shit was, that’s no problem.”
“That’s what I always tell him!” Tanner said.
Leaning in closer, Skyler pointed toward the camera by the flatscreen. “Maybe Busch Light can help us sponsor this!”
“Not a bad idea,” J quipped.
Rhonnie took another sip. “I like it.”
I motioned toward Tanner. “Well, listen, you sure your family’s cool-”
Grinning, Tanner waved me off. “Yeah, Hell yeah! They’re honored to have y’all check this place out!”
Amidst the many mics, the cameras caught my eye. On a lonely bookshelf was another one Skyler had placed. A full Panorama for what was sure to be our weirdest livestream.
“So what’s like the history to the Hardup Drive Haunt?” J asked.
“Aw, man,” Tanner said. He leaned back in his seat. His beer at the ready. “Apparently a lot.”
“I bet,” I commented.
“My parents didn’t wanna talk about it much,” Tanner continued. “They were pretty freaked out.”
“Like this whole town,” Rhonnie added.
“Exactly!” Tanner replied. “Anyway, we never even moved in. My dad just bought it for the deal, the location. This was back in the nineties, but he knew about the… scary shit. I don’t know. He was actually stupid enough to think he could sell the fucking place.”
J leaned in closer. “But what about the stories and legends or whatever.”
“My parents didn’t wanna know all that shit, man.”
“So you don’t know-”
Tanner held up his beer, stopping J. “Hey, I know some of the stories! I always loved horror and was curious, you know.” He flashed that handsome smile. “That’s the main reason I’m glad y’all are here. To really show me the history of the Haunt! What really went on out here.”
“Well, what do you know?” J asked.
“Just. Just the basics.” Tanner leaned back. “I know in the thirties, shit went down. Some crazy reverend and all the other wackos out here at these churches.” Getting into his tipsy zone, Tanner pointed toward the floor. “I think there was an old church here. They ended up tearing the place down, but this very fucking house got built right here! And it’s like… it’s like Poltergeist! You’re building on sacred ground, man! On haunted ground!”
Battling the fear, I held my hands out. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! You mean all these churches are all connected like that?”
“That’s the rumor at least.”
I waved around the living room. “And this house was built on top of a fucking haunted church!”
“Yeah, that’s wild,” J said.
“As far as I know,” Tanner replied. “All I know’s the preacher was fucking nuts.” He let out a quick laugh. “All the preachers out on Hardup Drive were for that matter.”
“That’s fucking wild, yo…” I said.
Like a drunk T.V. interviewer, J stumbled over both his words and mannerisms. “So was this like some kind of cult?”
“Hell, I don’t know, man,” Tanner replied. “I just know like the basics. There were seven churches, a couple of preachers. Everyone seemed to get along but were like weird and shit. Like they got along well, you got different races and shit… but they did different shit. Albany hated them.”
“Damn...” J commented.
“I guess in that sense they could be considered a cult. A bunch of outsiders. For what exactly, I’m not really sure...”
Skyler readjusted his glasses. “Yeah, I looked more into it actually.”
“Whoa!” Rhonnie joked in drunken fashion.
Grinning, Skyler held up his hands. “I know, I know.”
Both J and I now faced Skyler in anticipation. Out of morbid curiosity.
“What all did you find out?” Tanner asked.
“So the main preacher was Reverend David Romero,” Skyler said. “He was kind of a wacky dude.”
“The Charlie Manson looking guy,” J said.
“Yeah, but, uh, more attractive, more social. You know, he was charismatic and had his way with the women around here.” Skyler placed his nearly-full beer can on the floor before locking eyes with us. His captivated congregation. “What he was able to accomplish was pretty impressive actually.” Skyler waved toward a window. Toward Hardup Drive. “By connecting all seven of these churches, David brought the community together. The Methodists, the Baptists, everyone got along.”
Using his cheap can, Rhonnie pointed down the hall. The stairway. “So that’s why they were all diverse?”
“Yeah, he ignored racism and all that sort of shit. Romero let African-Americas, Hispanics join the churches. He gave women prominent roles. He was very progressive! And this is insane to think about in 1930s Georgia.”
“No shit…”
“And all these people came together, they prayed together.” Going into professor mode, Skyler moved his hands all about, his tone commanding. Channeling Rhonnie for that matter… “They were happy. Everyone got along.”
“So if everyone was in Shangri-La,” J started. “Then what the fuck happened? Why are there ghosts here?”
Skyler sat back in his seat. “Well… that’s the thing. David was too far ahead of his time.”
“So what happened?” Tanner asked.
Like an intimate storyteller, Skyler hesitated. Seizing the spotlight. Heightening the dramatic tension. Goddamn, he had me sold. “The free love became more...” Skyler said. “The church members all started having sex, honestly, doing more risque stuff.”
“Even inside the church?” J said. “Whoa, what the fuck!”
Skyler nodded. “Mmm-hmm. Even in the church. Even on Sunday morning.”
“And everybody liked it?”
“Right,” Skyler chuckled. “There was no rape or molesting or anything like that.”
“So then what was the problem?”
Smirking, Skyler pointed down the hall. All those pictures. “You saw the crowds. They were mixed. Interracial love was common at Romero’s churches. Which was against the law at that time.” Skyler cracked up. “Well, sex in church period was. But you get the point.”
“Yeah, I got you,” J replied.
I noticed Rhonnie and Tanner exchanging drunken smiles. They were killing us on the beers. Not an easy task with me and J in town.
“Well, hey, Skyler,” J said. “This shit… sounds like some kind of cult shit to be honest.”
“Yeah and that was how the town looked at it,” Skyler said.
I faced him. “So what happened to Reverend Romero?”
Skyler hesitated. Somewhere between amused and disturbed. “Well… there was more than just the interracial stuff that pissed the town off.”
“Like what?”
“Well, David was actually bisexual. Most of the men and women in these churches were.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw J’s jaw hit the floor.
“Holeee shit…” J said.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw both Rhonnie and Tanner grin at one another. A warm smile amidst Skyler’s strange story.
“So yeah,” Skyler went on. “Obviously back then, a town like this that’s more prejudiced, that shit caused an uproar. The governor got involved. It was a complete fucking shitshow.”
I sifted in my seat. “Well, shit, did they arrest them?”
“No, they were gonna to but David had other plans.” For dramatic effect, Skyler grabbed his can. “No one knows for sure where the whole church went, but wherever it was they held a mass suicide.
“Jesus fucking Christ…” J exclaimed.
“It was about fifty people,” Skyler said.
Feeling uneasy, I looked toward Rhonnie and Tanner. Now they both stared right at me. Sure, they were drunk. Not to mention weird... But they were fucking staring me down hard. Their gazes chilling and precise.
“I never found out if it was poison or stabbings or what,” Skyler said.
Everyone’s eyes now stayed on him. Horror geeks glued to a human T.V. set. This most unusual horror host.
“But the whole town covered it up,” Skyler went on. “The whole state, so there’s not much info out there. Hell…” He raised the can before deliberating. Skyler confronted our fascinated faces. “They’re not even sure if they found all the bodies.”
Hours later, we found ourselves at Kirby’s. Needless to say, no cars were in the parking lot. Hell, we walked here ourselves. Just a drunken nighttime stroll.
The place looked even older closer up. The 1940s Norman Rockwell aesthetic far from a kitschy decision. Not considering the cobwebs and flickering lights at least. In between the beer were shelves of comic books and newspapers. Southern slang and sayings were displayed on various signs. Caricatures of smiling kids both black and white surrounded us. As did quite a few crucifixes... some with and without Jesus on them.
A dirty coffee maker looked to be the elderly cashier’s life support. Like those old photographs, she was dressed well in a regal white blouse. Her oversized glasses and gray hair unable to ruin that inherent beauty. She moved about the store, stocking the shelves. All to the beat of Buddy Holly & The Crickets’ “Rave On” playing off her transistor radio.
We were on our best behavior. As much as possible given everyone except Skyler was a six pack in. Okay, maybe eight beers apiece...
In drunken jovial spirits, we staggered around. Gathered up the cookies and thirty packs.
Calm, the cashier approached us. “Hey, if you boys don’t mind, go ahead and get what you need,” she said in an elegant Southern accent. She pointed toward the bland store hours sign: 9-9 read its Friday slot. All in a pretty scribbled font. “We’re about to close.”
J stared at her in disbelief. “Y’all close at nine?”
“Yes sir.”
“But on a Friday!” Grinning, he faced the rest of us. “Really…”
“Albany, bro,” Tanner quipped.
We gathered our beer and snacks and headed on back to the Haunt. Nothing too out of the ordinary happened… other than ordinary All-American partying. With no close neighbors, we could blast YouTube all night. Get absolutely shit-faced. All while those many cameras filmed us… while our WeWatchedAMovie faithful indulged in our obvious intoxication.
Around midnight, J and I retreated to our upstairs bedroom. Right across the hall from Skyler. We had enough reserves up here to embarrass a bar. Not to mention enough oldass furniture to open an antique shop. But we needed a private meeting… A business meeting. To my relief, J wasn’t being a little bitch. Our anti-Paranormal Activity wasn’t necessarily bad. Yeah, we had no ghost sightings or paranormal phenomena… not yet at least. But our banter with the boys was entertaining. No different than our actual show... And the livestream’s comments further proved this.
After the pep talk, we went into the hallway. At the same time as Skyler.
Feeling his buzz, Skyler flashed a smile. If only J and I could still get that shit-faced off five beers. “What’s up, guys?” Skyler said.
“You doing good?” J chuckled.
“Oh yeah. Ready for the ghosts.”
“Reverend Romero?” I remarked.
Before Skyler could answer, singing distracted us. A loud choir… The hymn’s harmonies so haunting.
“Yo, what the fuck’s that!” J yelled.
The three of us looked downstairs.
The singing continued. Low, steady, and distorted... as if it were being played off a phonograph. Never once did the voices get louder. Nor did it ever hit a powerful crescendo. But the chorus stayed eerie… and echoed all through the house.
J pointed me toward a counter. Our reflections greeted us in a mirror. A camera stared at us beside a few dusty books.
Getting back in host mode, I took control of the scene. The spotlight. “Here we are on Drunk Hauntings!” I said to the camera. “Our first fucking night here, and we’re already hearing creepy shit at The Hardup Drive Haunt!”
J pointed downstairs. “Yeah, listen to this shit!”
Nervous, Skyler faced us. “Is it really-”
J shushed him on the spot.
Still facing the camera, I continued on with our livestream. Still clinging to my beer. And our madness. “We’re now hearing singing. What sounds like a really creepy church choir.”
“It does!” Skyler added. “They used to sing here all the time! David and his church!”
A sudden crash shot through the night. Everyone jumped back.
But the chorus continued. More voices now joined in. The hymn got louder. Passionate. Fiery.
Panicking, Skyler rushed for the stairs. “Come on! Let’s find them!”
“Yo, wait!” J hollered.
We followed Skyler downstairs. Followed the weird singing.
“Who is that!” I yelled.
“I don’t know!” Skyler said.
The conglomeration of voices stayed loud. But we saw no one. No choir. Not even Reverend Romero.
And once we hit the living room, the chorus was replaced by cheesy pop music. Gone was the chills. In came the cringe.
Wearing only boxers and a Kings Of Leon tee, Rhonnie lied sprawled out on the couch. A half-empty thirty pack at his feet, a half-empty Busch Light can in his hand. The Jeffrey Dahmer glasses on his face. He looked dazed and confused... somehow still awake.
The flatscreen played YouTube. Paula Cole’s “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”. Yeah… we were all kinda confused.
Still recovering from the scare, I walked behind the couch. Trying to hear the hymn, a voice. Anything… but I got nothing. Only my lingering adrenaline.
“What the fuck is this!” J yelled.
Groggy, Rhonnie leaned up. “Hey. Y’all are back!” Chuckling, he raised his can.
J took an angry step toward him. “What the Hell are you doing, man!”
“What?”
J motioned toward the flatscreen. “You’re playing this shit and missing everything!”
“Hey, I like this song,” Rhonnie protested.
“Shit, did you even hear it?”
Rhonnie staggered to his feet. “Hear what?”
“The chorus, man!”
“Yeah, we heard singing,” Skyler told Rhonnie.
“Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” kept going. Its catchy hooks all the more agonizing. I felt my ears ring. Surprised blood didn’t flow from them...
“What the fuck…” Rhonnie smirked. “Singing?”
Frustrated, J kicked the thirty-pack. “Yeah, asshole!”
Using the can, Rhonnie waved toward all those Busch Lights. “Hey, chill out, man!”
“Oh really? We didn’t drive out to the middle of fucking Georgia to watch you drink shitty beer!” J pointed at the cameras. “We got a show to film, bro! We need ghosts, not Goddamn Paula Cole and whatever other bullshit nineties pop music you’re playing!”
Skyler grabbed J’s arm. “Dude, it’s not that serious-”
J yanked his arm away. “No, we didn’t come out here to watch Rhonnie drink thirty beers!”
“I only drank twenty!” Rhonnie yelled.
“Whatever!” J put down his beer and grabbed the remote.
“Hey, what the fuck!” Rhonnie said.
Without hesitation, J muted the flatscreen. The 90s cheese. “You’re scaring the viewers with this shit!” He flashed a glare at Rhonnie. “And with those fucking perv glasses!”
In a drunken stumble, Rhonnie pointed at the music video. “That song was cool, man.”
“I kinda like it too,” Skyler agreed.
Amidst the arguing, my gaze drifted toward the wall. The blank space now filled by a brass picture frame. A gorgeous photograph hanging on the wall. One in all its black-and-white glory.
Instantly, I recognized most of the smiling faces inside. The man of the hour as well: David Romero. The handsome preacher surrounded by men and women. Excited followers both black and white. Everyone dressed nice and looking so attractive in a room not unlike the one we were in now… The same wooden chair lurked in the corner. The party not much different than ours. Call me crazy but the 1930s never looked so modern… So fresh.
“No wonder you called us out here!” I heard J tell Rhonnie.
Turning, I saw the three drunks before me. Well, Rhonnie and J were hammered at least. Skyler an unfortunately-only-tipsy casualty in their battle. Skyler struggling to get between them.
“Guys, just fucking chill!” Skyler said.
“You’re a brokeass writer, Rhonnie!” J hurled at our beloved writer. He waved at the thirty-pack. “No wonder you drink this shit beer and stay up all night! You got nothing else to do!”
“Hey, I was writing earlier!” Rhonnie said. He pointed toward his off-brand laptop on the sofa. “The beer helps me focus!”
J got in Rhonnie’s face. “We gotta show ghosts for the audience, man! That’s what we agreed to! The Goddamn writing can wait.”
“Okay, man-”
J motioned toward Rhonnie’s boxers. “And put on some damn pants at least!”
“Guys!” I interrupted.
The three of them looked toward me.
Holding their attention and the camera’s unwavering eye, I pointed toward the photograph. “This wasn’t here before!”
“Holy shit!” J yelled.
They all rushed up to me. Their fear obvious… and their intrigue.
Even in the warm room, I caught a chill. Especially considering how David stared right at me. His smile stabbing my soul.
“Shit…” J muttered. “They were probably the ones we heard singing.”
I watched Rhonnie take a nervous sip. His discomfort matched only by terror and Busch Light.
“This picture must’ve been here at some point,” Skyler said. He faced us. “They probably took it when the church was here.”
“The room even looks the same,” I commented.
Blaring static almost made me shit my pants. The fucking turbulence was torturous.
“What the fuck!” J cried.
We looked over at the flatscreen. Scrambled snow dominated the screen.
“I thought you muted it?” Skyler asked J.
Flustered, J pointed the remote at the T.V. “I did!”
I looked over at Rhonnie. He just took another casual sip of booze. Nowhere near as frightened as we were. Then again, the guy was fucking drunk… even drunker than us.
Like a pissed-off gamer, J mashed the remote’s buttons in a frenzy. But the screen stayed the same. Still on the static. The snow. “What the fuck!” J yelled.
The chorus came roaring back. Their pretty voices were weapons sending shivers down our spines. The call of Christian sirens. Of deranged beauty.
Grainy black-and-white footage now played on the flatscreen. No info was given. But none needed. Not when I recognized Reverend Romero standing in the center of a gorgeous crowd. All of them sang an eloquent hymn together… Right here in the living room or what was close enough to it. Their eyes and smiles stayed focused on us.
“Jesus Christ…” Skyler said.
“Fuck this!” J cried.
I looked back-and-forth between the photo and video. They were the same scene. The same group in a room similar to where the four of us stood now. Only in 2020, David and his followers were somehow still in action. Their movement in rhythm as one eerie being. “Holy shit!” I exclaimed.
Terrified, J pressed the remote’s many buttons. “It won’t change!”
The singing grew more manic. Louder than what we heard upstairs. At this point, I felt the windows rattle. Felt my mind on the verge of a brutal breakdown. The hymn’s soothing lyrics took on a darker meaning in this tone... A threat rather than inspiration.
Grabbing my ears, I confronted the flatscreen. At the choir’s glares focused on us. None of them blinked. Their cold glares were relentless. David leading the onslaught…
“Turn that shit off!” Skyler yelled at J.
J kept hitting the power button. Any fucking button… a futile effort all around. “I can’t!” he yelled.
I saw Rhonnie leaning against the wall. Right next to the framed photo. His eyes fluttering in and out of consciousness. Either in meditation or pain… I couldn’t tell. He just kept hanging on to that beer.
The singing continued. Too raw to be pretty. The voices hitting deep, dark levels rather than Angelic euphoria. There was energy and enthusiasm... but at a frantic pace. A deranged tempo. An army instead of chorus.
Desperate, Skyler reached toward J. “Let me try!”
Clinging to the remote, J stumbled away. “No, hold on!”
Then the T.V. cut off. The screen hit pitch black. The room in pitch silence. Ourselves just flat out fucking scared.
“Oh shit!” I cried.
Tanner then emerged from the downstairs hallway. His bathrobe literally dragging in. The man was half-asleep. Veering toward a hangover…
We all looked on, stunned. Even Rhonnie fell away from the wall.
In the tense silence, Tanner stopped by the chair. He flashed us a buzzed smile. “I was just getting another beer.” He motioned toward the kitchen. “Y’all want one?”
[14](https://www.reddit.com/rhonnie14FanPage/)
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2020.05.01 05:28 the14thaccount Sex caught on surveillance camera

I had no intention of ever going back. All these months later, and the Nicki Minaj Experience still haunted me. Still lingered in my dreams and nightmares. Ash and I were only there for a few weeks but what felt like years given the sexual mania.
I felt exhausted from sex both pleasurable and taboo. All of it enjoyable even through the pain. Of course, by the time Nicki let us go, I was more than ready to leave her L.A. pink palace behind for our cozy apartment in Albany, Georgia. Even if Ashley wasn’t. And even if I never did get a biography out of it.
Being a newly-freed sex slave did present some problems. No longer could I rely on the Queen spoiling us. Soon, my book money ran dry. My series of odd jobs from 911 trainee to 7th grade English teacher were predictable disasters. Here I was back to being a deadbeat horror writer. My small, loyal fanbase glad to see me churning out stories… Even if I was struggling to make any real cash. And on top of everything else, my ass was still sore heading into December.
That being said, there were some positives to come out of this most bizarre encounter. I was finally in great shape… From skinny to muscular thanks to Nicki’s physical demands. I’m sure Ashley appreciated it… Not to mention the versatility in the bedroom Onika Maraj coerced out of me.
So yeah, Ashley and I’s sex life was better than ever. More adventurous than ever… And even the NoSleep inspired by our Nicki trip collected somewhat of a cult following. But I was still broke. Still unemployed. And while Ashley could seamlessly blend back into her upper-level HR gig, I felt empty not supporting her as best I could. As best as I should. I was still the clown boyfriend forever chasing horror stardom.
Then there were the flashbacks… Those surreal wild weeks with Nicki forever embedded in my mind. The group sex, the pegging. Everything stayed a movie in my memories.
Of course, no one believed me. Rather my NoSleep story became more famous for its erotic potency than scares. Who knew being held captive by a beautiful talent like Nicki could be seen as torture? Then again, I guess I’d have felt the same until actually living it. Until actually surviving the sex.
With Christmas on the horizon, I was gonna try to move on. Neither the booze nor writing had helped me escape. So fuck it, maybe the holidays would. Only Nicki’s songs were a siren call I couldn’t ignore. Especially since my girlfriend was such a Barb. Every time “Super Bass” or “Bed” swept through me, I was whisked off to the Minaj mansion. Back to that exciting, eerie mess.
And then came the phone call. All on an inconsequential Tuesday afternoon. I was home alone, stuck on our living room couch when the L.A. area code drew me in. I lowered my can of Miller Lite. Knowing exactly who it was…
Conflicted, I stared at my laptop screen. At the latest horror story likely to go nowhere… All while the phone’s buzzing stayed persistent. Tempting me. Finally, I just had to give in.
Nicki’s cackling immediately greeted me. Already she was in Roman mode. “Rawneee,” said that faux British accent.
Surrounded by Ashley’s psychedelic tapestries, I leaned back on the couch. Gazed at our many framed photos from trips to all places random and bizarre… Even one we took with Nicki during that fateful stay.
“Hey,” I replied with a forced chuckle. Struggling to keep calm, I stole another sip of beer. “It’s, uh, been awhile.”
“It’s been too long, baby!” Nicki yelled, her beaming voice and personality shining through. “I’ve been following you but it’s not quite the same.”
“What, you’re stalking me?” I joked.
Like a soothing pink buzzsaw, Nicki’s laughter erupted once more. “Not stalking… I was just thinking about what you wrote.”
“Well, I haven’t heard from any lawyers yet-”
“No, it’s not that! Trust me, I would’ve taken care of your ass by now if that was it.”
“I can only imagine...”
“But I liked it,” the Queen said. Her voice was getting lower. Restrained by real emotions.
“Well, I appreciate it-”
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to call you,” she continued. “I wanted to talk to you about it some more in L.A.”
Intrigued, I ran a hand through my dark brown swoop. The bangs at the mercy of my nerves. “I don’t know, man. After last time…”
“Come on, Rhonnie!” said Nicki’s sharp response. “We all enjoyed last time.”
I didn’t say a word. Deep down, I couldn’t… The trip was fun after all. Dark, wild, and mysterious. Nothing short of memorable. And certainly fun for both Ash and Nicki.
“You know I’m right,” Nicki continued. “I wanted to discuss your story some more. Your writing‘s phenomenal as always. You know I love your style, man!”
The compliments struck me hard… I couldn’t help but smile. “Hey, I appreciate it.”
“Look, I’ll buy your ticket, you can stay here a few days.”
I hesitated. My green eyes looked toward our pictures. Within the frames, there was Ashley matching my 5’8 slender frame. Her smooth brown skin matched by those gorgeous Trinidad features: an elegant smile, smoldering stare, and immense strength to spare. She was Nicki without the fame, filters, or touch-ups. And considering Ashley’s personality and her own well-endowed chest, I wasn’t complaining. Even with the Queen herself on the line...
“Rhonnie, you know you want to,” Nicki said, her voice persistent but not pleading. Nicki was too confident to beg. Not that she ever needed to. Not with her power.
Finally, I let out a drunken sigh. “Look, last time was great and all, but we got… we got fucking sidetracked.”
“So?” Nicki teased.
“I don’t know...”
“Look, things won’t get that crazy. Ashley won’t be there so I won’t be on you as much-”
I sat up straight, uneasy. “What do you mean she won’t be there?”
Nicki’s soft laugh felt hollow to my nerves. “It’s gonna be like last time! Nothing against her, I love that bitch!”
“I’m aware…”
“We both looovvvee you, Rhonnie,” Nicki added. “But we got business to take care of. Just the two of us, the writing. You don’t see me bringing you and all these other guys up here when I be recording.”
Simultaneously savoring and dreading the memories, I pressed the phone closer to my ear. “Yeah but we saw how that shit turned out. There was no book-”
“It turned out just fine,” Nicki gushed.
I went silent. The reality is Ash had her fun. She trusted Nicki, and I knew she’d let me go…
Here in this inner war, I did the only thing I could do: I finished my beer.
Nicki chuckled. “There’s no reason not to come, Rhonnie. Not like your brokeass has anything better to do!”
I let my own laughter collide into hers. As if we were already there together. Already buzzed. “Well. You got me.” I crushed the Miller Lite can.
“Just bring that ass here!”
A prisoner of Nicki’s, I faced the laptop. The story I was still working on.
“We’ve got some writing to do!” Nicki teased. “We’re gonna work on this together. No distractions, excuses… None of that stuff me and Ashley wanted last time...”
From here, I could envision Nicki Minaj in “normal” mode. Well, normal for this persona. Probably a tight dress, curly long hair. All business and beauty.
“This is just about your stories, Rhonnie,” Nicki said.
“Just my stories?” I questioned.
“Amongst other things…” Nicki replied. “But mostly your stories. You Ashley’s bitch, man. What kinda bitch you think I am taking my homegirl’s bitch?”
Flashing a smile, I nodded. “Fuck it. I’m down.”
“Okay. I’ll keep in touch.”
The nerves returning, I sifted in my seat. “Well, wait, can I like call you back?”
Instead of reassurance, I got that Wicked Witch of Trinidad laugh. “Call me back!? You so funny, Rhonnie!”
“What…”
“This is a burner phone, bitch! I find you, nobody finds me!”
Such a line should’ve scared me. Especially given our history… and Nicki’s wild instability. But somehow, I found it amusing. Fuck it, even cute.
That day, I got the okay from Ashley. In fact, she was excited. A carnal glint crept through her when I told her about the trip. About going back to Nickiland.
“Oh, that’ll be fun!” Ashley beamed. Lying in bed together, I felt her hands squeeze tighter to mine. Ash’s enthusiasm even overshadowing the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “And she’s paying you! Oh my God, that’s amazing, Rhonnie!”
I adjusted my oversized glasses. The classic Dahmer frames. “Yeah, she called me. She said she missed me.”
Reminiscent of Nicki, Ashley’s personality could change quick. Maybe not as severe… but still extreme. Just from mentioning Onika Maraj, Ash had zipped from exhausted HR boss to drooling fangirl... And now she was all over me.
“Oh, you gotta go, babe!” Ashley yelled. “She obviously likes you! Oh my God, this could be your big break!”
Feeling her tremble in my grip, I watched Ashley lean in closer. Her smile omnipresent. Her body in flames. Possessed by the Queen.
“Yeah, I guess I should go,” my deep voice finally said.
“Just tell her I said hey!” Ashley then gave me a kiss.
“I will.” Still I struggled to match her joy. Or Nicki’s eager euphoria for that matter.
“That’s so cool!” Ash rambled on. “My next vacation, we’re going back!”
“We will, babe.”
Deranged panic struck Ash. She grabbed her fit chest. The chunky stomach only she could see. “Shit, just let me lose this tummy first!”
I hugged her close. “What stomach, weirdo?”
Ashley still squeezed her stomach. Literally grasping at skinny straws to prove her point. “I can’t let her see me like this! Aw, fuck!”
Reassuring Ashley, I kept my arm around her as I pushed her hands away. “Stop it, babe! You’re skinny.”
Ashley turned toward me. The idiotic insecurities still obvious. Even on the model’s frame she had.
“I wouldn’t lie to you about that” I said. I clutched her arm, clinging to the muscles she’d been working on. “You a fit bit.”
Finally, Ashley gave me that gorgeous smile. The one that’d held me captive for almost three years now.
“You and Nicki both got nothing to worry about,” I added. “You’re my Queen.”
Snapping into aggression, Ashley draped her arms around my neck. A lover’s noose. “You bet your ass,” she said in a sly, seductive tone. Her grin got bigger. Yet another personality change was forming… but one I was happy to see.
“I like the sound of that…”
“Fuck, I wanna go back!”
“We will-“ I started.
Like an uncaged animal, Ash lunged in, running her hands up and down my chest. Her touch swift but firm. Feeling along my minor abs coming in… “We had so much fun last time, Rhonnie!” she yelled. We gotta go!”
I watched her hands slide further down. One toward my ass, one toward my crotch. The sheer mention of Minaj had sent my girlfriend into a frenzy… Ash a Barb forever…
“I can’t wait to go back to Nicki’s!” she continued.
I cracked a smile. “I mean we can-”
With a ferocious flourish, Ash slammed me on to the bed. The soft landing somehow got my adrenaline going. My body all hot.
Pinning me there, Ashley smirked upon me. My girl literally so high above me. Not to mention stronger… I couldn’t move. Couldn’t talk. I was fucking dominated…
Ash lunged in toward my face. This was the most sultry and smooth she’d been since L.A. Not to mention the most confident. Her hungry gaze hovered over me. “Here,” she teased. She tore off my shirt in a steamy split second. “Let me send you off on that vacation… the right way!” Ashley added a Nicki purr.
I chuckled. “Sounds amazing…”
“On your knees!” Ashley shouted.
“What-“
Showing off her strength, Ashley flipped me over. Put me right on my stomach. Literally on my knees.
Caught up in the moment, I couldn’t talk. I can’t lie, Ashley was getting me hot. Especially when she did all the work... When it was her turn to channel her rap idol.
I stole a look over at the T.V. At all the drag queens watching Ashley and I’s intense intimacy.
Ash put one hand around my erect dick, the other on my ass. She leaned in behind my ear. No chance at a whisper. “Let me get you ready for the Queen!” she cackled.
By December tenth, I was on the plane. Gone from chilly Georgia to ever-sunny L.A. The few calls and texts from Nicki were vague... Playful but cryptic. All I knew was someone was supposed to pick me up at LAX. I’d asked if it was Kellan but Nicki liked to ramble over my questions…
“I’ll take care of you,” she repeated in a manic mantra. “We’ll take care of you, Rhonnie.”
Rather than the casual warmth I encountered last time, I was greeted by two cold guards. A black man and woman. Both of them beyond attractive in their stylish dark suits and even darker sunglasses. Both of them beyond swoll.
They didn’t say a word. Didn’t smile. Hell, they didn’t even hold my one carry-one bag for me. Instead, I followed them out to a tank of a red SUV. Our short drive feeling longer from both tension and traffic.
None of my casual banter worked. Nor did my goofy grin. Instead, these two were stoic statues. Bodyguard caricatures straight out of a bland action movie. With even less character and charisma than Nicki’s many wax figures.
Through the tense silence, I leaned back. Awkward. The only noise naturally the radio’s Nicki Minaj marathon.
Finally, the familiar iron-pike gate opened. And then we descended upon the Minaj mansion. I kept talking to Ash on the phone, her excitement obvious even through text.
Holding my carry-on, I stepped out. My every move under the watch of a million cameras. They were bigger this time around. Cinematic surveillance...
I followed the bodyguards past the psychedelic pillars. The pink Lamborghini. Right up to the front porch where the Queen herself awaited.
Under Ashley’s guidance, I made sure to dress well. Tight khakis and my cherished green polo. No Dahmer glasses. Ash was sure Nicki would approve.
The fading twilight sun still couldn’t suppress Mrs. Majesty’s radiance. Standing between two towering tiki torches, she had the poise of a Pagan Goddess. The strength of Joan Of Arc. The defiance of Cleopatra.
And best of all, she was herself in the moment. Onika. No gaudy jewelry, her long hair hanging down. Not much make-up. She wore an ugly Christmas sweater featuring her smirking Bitmoji. Her green cargo pants a baggy fit. The type of hipster gear that’d gone out of style in 99 yet worn by Nicki as if she were stealing the red carpet. She was Goddamn beautiful.
I could see Nicki’s sly smile. The glint glowing in those brown eyes.
Now just a few feet away, I stole a glance at the house’s array of Christmas decorations. The wreaths both green and pink. Big bulb holiday lights lining up and down the roof. And yes, a black Santa Claus. Having no snow or cold didn’t hurt the Christmas spirit here. Not on Nicki’s watch.
Nicki waved. “Hey, strangerrr…” she teased.
I started for the steps. “I made it.”
Before I could get any further, the guards ambushed me. Polite enough, I suppose… If not fast and furious. Both the man and woman patted me down in thorough fashion. All to the tune of Nicki’s snorting laughter.
“Really…” I deadpanned.
Nicki walked up to me. “I had to up security, boo.”
Eager hands grasped my ass and dick. I flashed a glare at the guards. Their slick smiles.
“We know how you horror writers are,” Nicki continued.
Equal parts polite and cold, the female guard snatched my carry-on. I watched her stocky frame stand beside the man. Neither of them saying a word.
“We gotta be careful,” Nicki added. She stopped right in front of me. That pretty face a mask for her many warped ideas. “But I’m glad you’re here, Rhonnie. Honestly.”
I nodded at the guards. “Apparently, they are too.”
“I mean can you blame them…” Flashing those pearly whites, Nicki encircled me. Her steps slow, seductive.
Intrigued, I stood in place. Watching a fire spread across Nicki’s expression. A hunger. Nicki was undressing me with her eyes… Admiring me like I was part of her personally curated gigolo lineup. One I was sure she had around somewhere… But I wasn’t complaining.
“Me and Ashley got you looking good,” Nicki continued. “You dress so nice!”
I watched her every move. Relaxing in the perfect weather.
“And you been working out!” Nicki remarked. She stole a grab at my ass. A snug squeeze. “Mmm, got that donk I see!”
“Yeah, I’m finally getting abs…” I said in a humblebrag.
The Nicki gaze honed in on my chest. “I can tell!” She draped an arm around my broad shoulders. Leaned in real close. “Let me get a hug.”
She pulled me toward her. Not so much a hug but suffocation. Nicki’s immense strength no longer a surprise to me… Not after the last trip.
With my celebrity crush just inches away, I tried to suppress the desire. The body heat. God knows those security guards were eating this up… The two of them an enthralled audience. Especially once Nicki started feeling along my chest.
Nicki closed her eyes. Pleasure joining her carnal craving. “I swear you’d be my Zac Efron or Bieber.”
Flattered, I faced Nicki. “I like to think young Kyle MacLachlan…”
Nicki burst out laughing. Uproarious but not sadistic. “From Twin Peaks! Blue Velvet.” She stared me up and down again. Taking her sweetass time. “Oh shit, you ain’t lying!”
“You got good taste,” I remarked.
“Indeed.” With a flirtatious touch, she pushed aside my hair. The swoop. “But I always wanted a Zac Efron up in here.”
I struggled to keep my cool… Goddamn, it was tough.
“So tell me, Rhonnie,” Nicki began. Her smile latched onto me. “Who do I look like?”
I smirked. “Cardi B.”
Laughing, Nicki gave me a shove. “Bitch!”
Playing along, I shrugged. “Hey, you asked.”
“Yeah, but not her sorryass!”
“Well, if you want me to be honest, I’ll go Thandie Newton.”
Much better… Nicki nodded her head in agreement. “I like that.” She glided in closer toward me. Her female gaze beaming. “See, you know you’re shit too.”
Keeping my distance, I looked up. Saw how nighttime now descended upon us. “I had a crush on her back in the day…”
“Like you did with me, right?”
I stole a glance over at the front door. At the wreath smorgasbord. “Yeah,” I replied as I faced Onika. “But that was back in the day. Back when I looked like shit…”
“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Slow but steady, Nicki’s hand brushed against my pants. “Not with that face.”
No matter how hard I could control myself, I couldn’t control biology. I couldn’t control my dick.
Embracing her power and sex appeal, Nicki’s hand strayed toward my erect outline. “Or that D…” she teased.
Yeah, I was conflicted. But somehow, I managed to hold her back. “Okay, uh, maybe we should go inside.”
Nicki just kept that mischievous smile. “What? Our chemistry is that dead to you.” The British Roman Zolanski accent took over. Campaigning for an Oscar, Nicki threw her hands up. The hammy acting in hyperdrive. Given my last visit, I had no idea if she was just being funny… or giving in to madness. “Oh no, darling! What we had was so BUE-TEE-FULL…”
Cringing, I avoided all eye contact. But I had nowhere to turn. The guards only gave me glares… And in the darkness, the Christmas lights further basked Nicki in a most glorious glow.
Lunging forward, Nicki squeezed my shoulders. “You carn’t throw it away, darling!”
I gave a nervous laugh. “You’re something else…”
But Nicki wouldn’t stop. The histrionics consumed her. “Oh, darling! Darling-”
In my hand, my cell phone vibrated to life. A shrill siren interrupting Nicki’s performance.
Like an offended actress, Nicki went quiet and glowered. Gone was the cheer. The charismatic wackiness. In came the dark side of her dominance.
I looked down at Ashley’s text message: I love you! Be safe!
“Hold on!” I told Nicki. Responding out of both love and duty, I began typing up a reply: I love you t
Moving quick, Nicki snatched the phone out of my hands.
“Whoa, what the fuck!” I yelled.
I came face to face with Nicki. The Queen back in her confident element. Back to that grin. “I thought you remembered, Ronald,” she said, her voice back to its precise perfection. Strolling over by the stairs, she twirled the phone. “No cell phones when you’re writing with me…”
I followed her between those warm tiki torches. The gateway to Heaven and Hell. “Can I at least text Ashley back?”
Scoffing, Nicki confronted me. “Now why do that when she knows I’ll take care of you.” Showing theatrical flair, Nicki pulled out the collar of her sweater and dropped the phone straight in. Right into the strongbox of her huge boobs.
“Nice…”
Nicki’s triumphant smile got bigger. Given her sheer size, who knew what else was hiding in those breasts?
“Real classy,” I added.
The familiar snorting laughter hit me. Not that Nicki’s laughter bothered me… regardless of its hideous sound. “Man, you and I know Ashley loves you. She told me!”
“Yeah, but I can’t even text her…”
Nicki gripped my hand. “You’re a writer. You’re self-sufficient!” She started pulling me toward the mansion. Pushed her hair aside to face me. “Just like me.”
We entered her fortress. Nothing had changed too much. Nicki memorabilia was still scattered about. The home bars were glorious. The walls conquered by various portraits of black icons both in entertainment and civil rights movements. The mansion just clean and colorful.
Then I realized how many more cameras there were. Their watchful eyes stayed on me. Glued to my every move. No different than Nicki, I thought...
Of course, the Christmas decorations were even wilder in here. Heavy red stockings hung above an infrared fireplace. The towering Christmas tree wore ornaments gaudier than Nicki’s VMA wardrobes. And I’ll be damned if the living room didn’t have a miniature tree that was nothing more than a tall marijuana plant.
But fuck, it was cold. Shivering, I followed Nicki through the living room. “Can you put on the heat, please?”
Nicki stopped and threw up her arms. “Bitch, it’s Christmas!”
The henchwoman jammed the carry-on straight into my chest, startling me.
“You know I’m gonna do it big this time of year!” Nicki continued.
Recovering from the collision, I watched the two guards go into a small room. One overran by more Christmas lights. From here, I could see the mini dancefloor, a turntable. A narrow staircase tucked away in the back. The Queen had apparently added her own club since the last time I was here. And right now, we had a Yuletide takeover. Whitney’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” reverberated from that room. And all through the house...
I watched those guards go up the stairs. Disappearing further within this castle… But not until the woman flashed me a knowing smile. A flirty wink.
With unhinged pleasure, Nicki squeezed my ass once more. “Come on, I gotta show you more!”
Annoyed, I backed away from her. “Shit, how have you not been MeToo’d yet!”
Nicki let out an uproarious laugh. She pointed a finger at me. Her laughter the wail of a smug banshee. Albeit, a pretty one...
I flashed a smile. “Naw, I’m serious-”
“You think I need to get on the MeToo shitlist!” Nicki joked. She took a confident step toward me. Pointed at her vibrant heart. “Me? Like what about Cardi and Katy Perry, Rhonnie! I don’t see them bitches getting MeToo’d!”
“Okay, you’re right-”
Nicki motioned toward me. “And what about you, Rhonnie. You cute but you’re a weird fucking horror writer, man. Writing weirdass sex shit about me.”
I couldn’t fight back. I even cringed. That barb stung… But at least Nicki’s smile had softened the blow. “Even if what I wrote was true?”
Undeterred, Nicki grabbed my shoulder. “We’ll get to that.”
I gave her a confused look. Only Nicki could be so cryptic and seductive...
Before I could respond, Nicki entered manic mode. She snatched my arm and pulled me toward the kitchen. “We’ve gotta get moving! There’s so much I wanna tell you.”
Clinging to my carry-on, I saw more booze. An arsenal of holiday snacks. Antique snowman cookie jars… More of Nicki’s Yuletide cheer. Rather than blue or white, I was in for a pink Christmas.
Whitney’s majestic voice followed us. The dancefloor’s stereo Nicki’s personal carolers.
“You’re not kidding about this Christmas stuff…” I joked.
“I told you!” Nicki replied.
An eager reindeer leading the way, Nicki guided us into a hallway. A familiar one, sure. I recognized the bedroom doors. The gym. And of course, the fateful “Club Staff” at the end of the hall: Nicki’s personal wax museum. The scene of my wildest sex… Not to mention Nicki’s own dark, twisted, dominant fantasies.
Nicki parked us at “my” bedroom door.
Keeping the conversation flowing, I leaned against the wall. Still recovering from the flight. The returning memories. “I’m guessing you’re gonna do a Christmas album next?”
Nicki chuckled as she opened the door. “I can’t. You know me, rhonnie14.” She smiled at me. “Maybe when I’m all old and washed-up.”
“So never then?” I said, unable to control my flirting.
“Preeeciseleee…” Nicki pulled the door open and waved inside. “After you, boo.”
I entered. Unable to escape the holiday playlist vortex. Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.”
The room was preserved in the way a grieving parent never changes their deceased kids’ bedrooms. Everything was the same. The horror posters, the movie books. My own desk. Pure Rhonnieworld.
Nicki followed in behind me.
Stopping by the desk, I faced her. “Happy late Birthday by the way,” I said, showing no snark at all. Only sincerity.
Nicki didn’t know how to react. Her body trembled from sentimental emotions rather than excitement. “Aww, thank you…” . “No problem.”
Nicki’s mischievous grin then returned. And so did her ogling. “You owe me some cake…” She stole an enthusiastic glance behind me.
Laughing, I waved her off. “Whoa, cool it!” Yet I couldn’t help but feel delight…
Nicki pointed toward the carry-on. “Just drop your shit and take a shower! I don’t want you with no germs and shit after that nastyass flight!”
“Man, you are paranoid…”
“Cautious,” Nicki corrected.
Now in the bright bedroom light, I got a better view of Chun-Li, Roman, or whatever you wanted to call her. Whatever personality she was today. But the fact is Nicki looked better than ever. Again, still only 5’2 but somehow stronger. She had the heart of a lion, the cool composure of Pam Grier. Sure, the huge breasts and booty were flaunted even in the baggier clothing… but just a few days after her thirty-seventh Birthday and Nicki was somehow still in her early prime.
Nicki pointed toward the hallway. “And try to stay out of the staff room this time.”
The bizarre memories flashed through my mind. I couldn’t hide the smirk. “I’ll try-”
“Don’t go in there unless I tell you.”
“I understand.” Feeling more relaxed, I placed the bag on the ground. Somehow, the room soothed me. Nicki was one Hell of a decorator. “Say, uh, where’s Kellan at?” I asked.
Playing up the melodramatics, Nicki gave me a weird look. “Who!?”
“Kellan. The guy from Trinidad.”
All I got was silence from Nicki. Uncomfortable silence.
Annoyed, my hands went wild. Rhonnie now channeling those same melodramatics. “He was here last time with me, you, and Ashley. You know… Like.” I pointed toward my crotch.
Nicki cracked up. “Oh yeah, I remember! Yeah, he went back to Trinidad.”
“Oh, okay...”
Nicki stepped right up to me. “He said he misses you.”
Cornered by two smiling Nickis, one on smooth skin and the other on hideous wool, I chuckled. “Yeah, I bet…”
“Oh, come now,” Nicki teased. She ran a hand along my arm. “We had fun. The four of us.”
I stayed distant. Or at least pretended to. Not an easy task with the Queen being this… aggressive. I pulled away from her. “But like… what about your husband? I mean…” Now feeling paranoid myself, I stole a glance toward the open doorway. “Is he like fucking here?”
Nicki cracked up. “Zoo? You scared or something, Rhonnie?”
The pressure was getting to me. Both from Nicki’s beauty and this cold Goddamn mansion. “I mean I’m not an idiot,” I said. “I saw you got married which… makes this whole thing even weirder.”
Nicki leaned in closer. “But you still came.” She caressed my face. “Didn’t you?”
I held up my trembling hands. Restraining the rap Goddess. “Yeah, but I thought we were just gonna talk?”
Yet another change happened. Nicki The Comedienne appeared… “Oh, right, to talk,” said a voice going to its deepest, driest depths. And of course, she was talking with her hands. “That’s the only reason I came, Nicki…”
Yeah, she was imitating me, alright. “Nice…” I remarked.
Nicki gave me a slight shove. Given her sneaky strength, I still stumbled back against the desk. “Look, I brought you here for a reason, Rhonnie,” Nicki said, her voice back to its normal tone. “This is about the writing, not just sleeping around and having fun.”
“Okay, that’s all I was asking.”
“And for the record, Kenneth’s not here, alright. So don’t get all scared and tip-toe around like you got a stick up your ass!”
“Dick up my ass?” I deadpanned.
Laughing, Nicki gave me another push. “Stop playing!”
“Alright, so like Zoo’s cool with this?”
“Duh!”
Less worried, I leaned back against the desk. “I mean damn, can you blame me-”
Nicki waved me off. “Naw, he ain’t the jealous type. Not even with your Efron-looking ass.”
“Glad to know!”
Nicki looked me up and down. Simultaneously allurred and amused. “Seriously, you look young as fuck… you sure you’re twenty-eight? I’d be scared I done fucked a High School Musical bitch or something. Y’all’d be MeTooing my ass for statutory rape.”
Basking in Nicki’s female gaze, I stood up. “Well, that sure as Hell didn’t stop you last time.”
Once more, Nicki cackled. Maybe a genuine reaction… or a chance for her to fall against my chest. “You’re so crazy, Rhonnie! Oh my God!” Then all of a sudden, she got quiet. She backed away in an instant. Not from fear but compulsion... Nicki’s mind off to the races again.
“What’s up?” I said.
“Nothing.” The Queen pointed toward the closet. “Just change clothes after you shower, alright!” She started to leave.
“Okay, cool.”
Stopping in the doorway, Nicki faced me. “Meet me in the studio when you’re done. You know the drill.”
I flashed her a thumbs up. “Sounds like a plan-”
Before I could finish, the door slammed shut in one swift slam. I stood there in the tense silence. Nicki was gone.
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2020.04.29 05:19 the14thaccount Drunk Hauntings (Part 1/2)

WeWatchedAMovie had modest beginnings but only got bigger. We were just two guys making a YouTube channel… one about horror movies. That was our plot. Again, nothing special or different than the hundreds of other channels… Except for one thing: me and J got drunk. Both of us watched the movies and reviewed them. That was our niche. And Goddamn, we were born for it.
Born and raised in small town Kentucky, we’d been doing this channel for well over ten years now. Through this time, the horror genre had changed. YouTube blew up. Our channel hit a hundred thousand subscribers… But J and I never changed. We’d been bros since high school and only grew closer through our YouTube “careers.”
Now in our early 30s, J and I considered branching out. Not leaving YouTube or WeWatchedAMovie behind. Just a way to broaden our shared horror passion. I was married with two young daughters, J was divorced and constantly broke. But new content equaled more cash. So fuck it, we decided to do a spin-off.
And why not? We made a nice team. I was a goofball with an athletic frame minus the beer belly. J the shorter, smartass sidekick. Our comedy meshed as did our review styles. Beyond the YouTube hijinks, I wanted to be a writer. And with that, I looked for the artistic merits to horror cinema. Even the shittier movies. J, on the other hand, stayed a fucking cynic. The guy more relentless than a movie snob on steroids.
So here we were in January. Mike and J down and out and pondering ideas. The two of us were the lone producers so we had to figure out the ultimate question: What else could we do with horror and booze? Inspired by a couple of twelve-packs and binging Ghost Adventures over the weekend, the idea hit us both at the same time: Drunk Hauntings. Yeah, that’s right. J and I were gonna take our traveling band throughout the country. On a tour of terror. Booze, ghosts. All of it on a livestream! And best of all by spending the night at haunted houses, we wouldn’t even have to spend anything on hotel fare.
This lightning bolt idea energized us. Within a few days, we told our Patreon members the plan. Only we had someone particular in mind for our premiere episode. A NoSleep writer who sometimes lurked in our comments. The long-distance bromance we shared with rhonnie14 hit its culmination.
Yeah, we obviously didn’t “know” the guy in person. Rhonnie was a horror writer out in Georgia. A damn good one but also a total weirdo… not that J and I had room to talk. From his deep voice on the phone to his quirky mannerisms and dark emo swoop, Rhonnie always imbued horror charisma. He got the genre. Lived and breathed it like us… Not to mention was a bit of a drunk like we were. So naturally, we got along. At least through technology. Plus, I knew Rhonnie with the silent h would be an obvious draw for the first episode. Both for his fans and ours.
Soon, I called Rhonnie and asked him if he had any locations we could check out. Any haunted hotspots. To our luck, Rhonnie’s friend Tanner owned a supposedly-haunted house down in Albany, Georgia. One on a road that had four churches. And in the middle of fucking nowhere. The Hardup Drive Haunt it was called… And from the brief research J and me did, we vouched the location enough. Tanner gave Rhonnie permission and then we were off and running.
In J’s SUV, we made the Southern fried drive. Just two dudes, a shit-ton of beer, and all our own equipment. Even more interesting was that Rhonnie told us this Tanner guy wanted to stay with us during the weekend filming. His family owned the house but no one ever stayed there… So powerful was the creep factor. But Tanner’s curiosity won out... apparently, he was yet another drunk we could use for our show.
Rhonnie also informed us his buddy Skyler would be staying there. Skyler was an indie filmmaker so passionate he was flying down from Kansas City, Missouri. So now we had a bachelor-party/reality-show-crew combo rocking for this fateful weekend in January. This shit was getting real… I just hoped these motherfuckers knew J and I couldn’t pay much.
Regardless of the history, Albany was one ugly city. A smorgasbord of poverty, urban decay, and towering old houses. The town’s weather about as cold as its corrupt soul.
Even with the address, J and I still got fucking lost… Rhonnie and his crew had to meet us at a Walmart before leading us beyond the city limits. I’m talking we followed his Camry out to the fucking boonies, man. Where the four churches and a haunted house awaited us.
I slouched back in the passenger’s seat, J behind the wheel. Our traveler’s cups chocked full of booze. Led Zeppelin II at a manageable volume on the radio. Our warm-up music.
Struggling to stay warm, I looked on at the rural isolation. At the farmland and endless forest.
“So are you sure this is a haunted house?” J quipped. His bright eyes faced me. A mischievous smile on his round face. Our facial hair struggling to grow but beyond disarray at this point. “You sure Rhonnie ain’t taking us to like the fucking Sawyer family or something?”
I cracked up. “Naw, that was Texas not Georgia.”
“You know Deliverance was filmed in Georgia…”
I gave J a light shove. “Shut the fuck up, man!”
Grabbing his beer, J chuckled. “Hey, come on! I mean look at this place!”
I ran a hand through my spiked hair. J had a point. Aside from the sprawling woods, I’d only seen the occasional trailer or shack. None of them inhabitable.
“Aw, look at this shit!” I heard J say.
“What?” I asked. I looked on to see the silver Camry turning on to a side road. A fucking dirt road at that… Its tombstone of a green sign read: Hardup Drive.
We followed Rhonnie. Somehow, we entered more isolation. A countrified crypt. Towering trees blocked out most of the sunlight.
Feeling a little uneasy, I watched us pass cavernous ditches. At least my iPhone still had four bars. “You think the livestream will be okay?”
“Aw yeah, should be fine,” J answered. He pointed toward the back. Our stacks of equipment. “Rhonnie said the service out here’s perfect.”
“What, for real?”
“Crazy, I know.”
For a few moments, we saw nothing. No houses, damn sure no churches. Hell, I didn’t even see a critter in those woods.
Then my iPhone jolted to life. Rhonnie was calling.
“Who is it?” J said.
I answered the call through his stereo.
“You guys good?” Rhonnie’s voice asked. He already sounded excited. Already hitting that beer buzz, I figured. The cheap beer buzz.
I looked on at Hardup Drive. “Uh, yeah. Just how far away’s the house exactly?”
“We’re not too far.”
“Okay…” On the other end, J and I heard constant chatter. Tanner and Skyler’s voices.
“So there’s supposed to be seven churches,” Rhonnie said. “But I think there’s only four of them left.”
“Yeah, there is,” Tanner’s voice added. “There’s only four now.”
J grinned. “So what the Hell happened to the other three?”
“Long story-” Tanner started.
“We don’t know!” Rhonnie interrupted.
Then we finally saw life. Or what was more like death... A decrepit white church stood there on its last gasp. Its yard conquered by high grass... as was its crumbling cemetery. Amidst the windows and cobwebs was a stone cross. A memorial somehow surviving almost a century of neglect.
“Oh shit, is that the first one?” J asked.
“Yeah!” Rhonnie said.
We saw houses now. Nothing pretty or exotic. Small and average homes scattered about. Some cabins. Their properties large. And hey, there were people standing outside. Old fucking people. But shit, they at least smiled and waved at us!
“And here’s the second one,” Rhonnie said.
On our right was a tall brick church. There was no cemetery. No stairs leading up to its rottings porch and bright yellow door. Graffiti and cuss words ran along its walls like spray-painted scripture.
“Looks like ass,” J commented.
“It gets better!” We heard Tanner yell. I heard Skyler chuckle behind him.
We passed some abandoned trailers before coming upon the remnants of church number three. The entire roof was missing…. ripped off by the hands of God or the Devil himself. Nothing remained on top. Weirdly enough, everything else was fine. The church looked clean, the yard pristine. Its cemetery decorated by fresh flowers and spotless grave markers.
“Like check out this fucker!” Tanner’s voice said.
Amidst J’s drunken laughter, I looked on at Rhonnie’s Camry. Sure, we were encountering houses and buildings. Some signs of civilization. Still I couldn’t shake the dread. We were still out in the middle of nowhere... And closer and closer to that fateful house.
The area just got darker. I gazed off at the forest. An eerie canvas only interrupted by old fucking houses.
“So where’s the fourth one?” J asked Rhonnie.
“It’s hard to see,” Rhonnie replied.
And he was right. Buried in the back of the woods was an unsettling foundation. I strained to see through the trees and weeds. To see a porch left all alone. This church nothing more than a few wooden benches forever awaiting its next sermon.
I leaned in closer toward J. Both of us transfixed by the church’s nearby graveyard. The tombstones all covered in mold. Its small gate sinking straight into the ground. A slow descent to death... much like the rest of the church.
“Shit…” J commented.
“I told y’all!” Rhonnie said.
Like a guided tour, we continued following Rhonnie down Hardup Drive. A road tailor-made for horror movies... And us.
Soon, we passed one of the nicer homes. A large cabin. Flowers bloomed in the yard’s garden. Azalea bushes led up to a mailbox. Standing in the driveway, an elderly couple waved at us as we drove past. The woman had long flowing gray hair, the man’s smile so big and wide. Dressed in their Sunday best, they looked to be in good shape. Even if they were over eighty.
“Hey, Mrs. Bellinger!” I heard Tanner yell to them.
J looked toward the radio. Our call was now at the ten minute mark.
“So not to be a dick, but are we getting any closer?” J asked.
“Right here!!” Tanner said.
There it was on our left. The Hardup Drive Haunt in all its creepy glory. What we saw earlier was unsettling enough... But it had nothing on this. The Haunt was the real fucking deal.
Yeah, the house wasn’t a shitshow or dilapidated. Its two story structure stood strong and defiant. The wood sturdy. Its white paint somehow perfect. The lawn trim if barren. Dirt patches were everywhere… Possibly burial spots for all I knew.
Regardless of its attempt at normalcy, the house was still frightening. There were the crooked shutters. The lonely front porch. The rooster windvane on the roof no one wanted to claim. This was a farmhouse of the dead…
“Up ahead is Kirby’s,” Tanner told us. “We can get more beer and shit there later.”
Too scared to talk, J and I looked down the road. We saw the brick convenience store. Its appearance struggling to stave off starvation. Struggling to keep its pleasant aura of 1930s Americana. The gas pumps looked to be stolen from a museum. Its parking lot dirt and rubble rather than pavement. Kirby’s General Store read the store’s swinging hand-painted sign.
J stole another nervous sip from his cup. The buzz doing nothing for his fear.
“Definitely need more beer,” we heard Rhonnie say.
“I might get a souvenir,” Skyler’s wry voice noted.
J and I followed Rhonnie down the long dirt driveway. The house was in the very back. Far from Hardup Drive and right in front of the suffocating forest. An army of metal and wooden sheds lined up in the backyard. Homemade monuments somehow standing the test of time... Their doors all wide open.
The realization sunk into J and I. The rising dread. We’d come so far… and now we were face-to-face with the beast. Sure, horror movies were scary but they weren’t personal. They weren’t threatening. But now those goofy ghost and haunted house movies manifested right before us. They beckoned us… We were really gonna need to get shit-faced just to make it through one night much less the weekend.
The Haunt’s interior wasn’t any less spooky. The lighting was dim. The furniture stolen from a 1940s Gothic drama. Needless to say, its age showed. As did its proper style.
A cold draft permeated through each and every room. Here we were in the dead of winter and not even this huge house could give us an escape. The heater was an older model so unreliable, of course.
But there was some cool shit! Every room except the living room had portraits galore. Both framed paintings and black-and-white photographs from a bygone era. All of which, according to Tanner, featured people prominent in both Albany and Hardup Drive’s seven churches. Hell, it certainly showed in their suits and dresses. The clean haircuts, the groomed facial hair. And the perfect make-up. Their fashion no different than the Bellingers we saw earlier. To our surprise, the churches consisted of a very diverse crowd. Young, old. Black, white. All these people shared were the same lower middle class roots. The same devotion to Christ.
There was a prominent person in each and every photo: a tall, muscular man. He was handsome even in the pressed suits. Too sophisticated for bumfuck, Georgia. He was the centerpiece in all the pictures. Women and men admired him. They gravitated to this guy. J and I were thinking preacher… judging by this guy’s charismatic smile anyway. Even if the shaggy straight hair and beard didn’t quite fit the clean-cut stereotype you’d expect from the Bible Belt. This dude seemed to be a hippie reverend about half a century before such gurus became en vogue.
We should’ve been glad Tanner at least had a Smart TV. Otherwise, we’d have been stuck with a vinyl record player for entertainment. Or those transistor radios in the bedrooms.
That night, the five of us congregated in front of the living room’s flatscreen. Skyler sat beside J and I on the couch. Tanner in a recliner, Rhonnie on a wooden chair next to him. All three of them were attractive guys. Rhonnie the scrawniest, Tanner the tallest. Skyler the loudest. Tanner had a sensitive tough guy look going, Skyler the eccentric filmmaker to Rhonnie’s weirdo writer.
Together, we’d already set up cameras throughout the house. Including one by the T.V. We had total surveillance for this livestream.
Rhonnie and his buddies kept us entertained. Especially now that everybody was well past drunk. Everyone with a beer in his hand.
Skyler looked over at Rhonnie. “Ashley can’t make it this weekend?”
Rhonnie and Tanner exchanged amused looks. “Naw,” Rhonnie began. “She wanted to but like her friends came calling.” He took a long swig. “You know how that shit goes.”
“I feel you,” I said.
“What about you, Tanner?” Skyler asked.
Tanner just shrugged his shoulders. “Totally single.”
“Nice,” J commented. “Like me.”
“You’re divorced!” I quipped.
Laughing, J took another sip. “Well... yeah.”
“So Skyler and I are the only ones married,” I said.
“Pretty much,” Skyler said with a smile. “You couldn’t get your wife to come down either?”
“Hell no! She don’t like scary shit like me.” I grinned at J. “Like us, I should say.”
Taking the spotlight, J clapped his hands together. “So we got ourselves a regular sausage fest?”
“True,” Skyler chuckled.
“Five drunk white guys in a haunted house, what can go wrong?”
“So you think all those photos and shit connect to the other churches?” I asked Tanner.
“Oh yeah,” Tanner replied. “They were too close together, man. There’s definitely a connection.” He pointed toward the wall behind us. A blank tapestry. “Mom and dad said there used to be one picture there actually.”
J cracked a smile. “Shit, I believe it!”
Tanner ran a hand through his short hair. “They said one day it just vanished. No clue where the Hell it went.” He took a swig.
“That’s fucking weird,” I commented.
Flashing a smile, Rhonnie held his can of Busch Light toward me. Everyone else held Michelob Ultras. You know, normal beer. “Hey, I appreciate the beer, man!” he yelled.
“You told us two thirty packs,” J quipped. “Hell, as cheap as that shit was, that’s no problem.”
“That’s what I always tell him!” Tanner said.
Leaning in closer, Skyler pointed toward the camera by the flatscreen. “Maybe Busch Light can help us sponsor this!”
“Not a bad idea,” J quipped.
Rhonnie took another sip. “I like it.”
I motioned toward Tanner. “Well, listen, you sure your family’s cool-”
Grinning, Tanner waved me off. “Yeah, Hell yeah! They’re honored to have y’all check this place out!”
Amidst the many mics, the cameras caught my eye. On a lonely bookshelf was another one Skyler had placed. A full Panorama for what was sure to be our weirdest livestream.
“So what’s like the history to the Hardup Drive Haunt?” J asked.
“Aw, man,” Tanner said. He leaned back in his seat. His beer at the ready. “Apparently a lot.”
“I bet,” I commented.
“My parents didn’t wanna talk about it much,” Tanner continued. “They were pretty freaked out.”
“Like this whole town,” Rhonnie added.
“Exactly!” Tanner replied. “Anyway, we never even moved in. My dad just bought it for the deal, the location. This was back in the nineties, but he knew about the… scary shit. I don’t know. He was actually stupid enough to think he could sell the fucking place.”
J leaned in closer. “But what about the stories and legends or whatever.”
“My parents didn’t wanna know all that shit, man.”
“So you don’t know-”
Tanner held up his beer, stopping J. “Hey, I know some of the stories! I always loved horror and was curious, you know.” He flashed that handsome smile. “That’s the main reason I’m glad y’all are here. To really show me the history of the Haunt! What really went on out here.”
“Well, what do you know?” J asked.
“Just. Just the basics.” Tanner leaned back. “I know in the thirties, shit went down. Some crazy reverend and all the other wackos out here at these churches.” Getting into his tipsy zone, Tanner pointed toward the floor. “I think there was an old church here. They ended up tearing the place down, but this very fucking house got built right here! And it’s like… it’s like Poltergeist! You’re building on sacred ground, man! On haunted ground!”
Battling the fear, I held my hands out. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! You mean all these churches are all connected like that?”
“That’s the rumor at least.”
I waved around the living room. “And this house was built on top of a fucking haunted church!”
“Yeah, that’s wild,” J said.
“As far as I know,” Tanner replied. “All I know’s the preacher was fucking nuts.” He let out a quick laugh. “All the preachers out on Hardup Drive were for that matter.”
“That’s fucking wild, yo…” I said.
Like a drunk T.V. interviewer, J stumbled over both his words and mannerisms. “So was this like some kind of cult?”
“Hell, I don’t know, man,” Tanner replied. “I just know like the basics. There were seven churches, a couple of preachers. Everyone seemed to get along but were like weird and shit. Like they got along well, you got different races and shit… but they did different shit. Albany hated them.”
“Damn...” J commented.
“I guess in that sense they could be considered a cult. A bunch of outsiders. For what exactly, I’m not really sure...”
Skyler readjusted his glasses. “Yeah, I looked more into it actually.”
“Whoa!” Rhonnie joked in drunken fashion.
Grinning, Skyler held up his hands. “I know, I know.”
Both J and I now faced Skyler in anticipation. Out of morbid curiosity.
“What all did you find out?” Tanner asked.
“So the main preacher was Reverend David Romero,” Skyler said. “He was kind of a wacky dude.”
“The Charlie Manson looking guy,” J said.
“Yeah, but, uh, more attractive, more social. You know, he was charismatic and had his way with the women around here.” Skyler placed his nearly-full beer can on the floor before locking eyes with us. His captivated congregation. “What he was able to accomplish was pretty impressive actually.” Skyler waved toward a window. Toward Hardup Drive. “By connecting all seven of these churches, David brought the community together. The Methodists, the Baptists, everyone got along.”
Using his cheap can, Rhonnie pointed down the hall. The stairway. “So that’s why they were all diverse?”
“Yeah, he ignored racism and all that sort of shit. Romero let African-Americas, Hispanics join the churches. He gave women prominent roles. He was very progressive! And this is insane to think about in 1930s Georgia.”
“No shit…”
“And all these people came together, they prayed together.” Going into professor mode, Skyler moved his hands all about, his tone commanding. Channeling Rhonnie for that matter… “They were happy. Everyone got along.”
“So if everyone was in Shangri-La,” J started. “Then what the fuck happened? Why are there ghosts here?”
Skyler sat back in his seat. “Well… that’s the thing. David was too far ahead of his time.”
“So what happened?” Tanner asked.
Like an intimate storyteller, Skyler hesitated. Seizing the spotlight. Heightening the dramatic tension. Goddamn, he had me sold. “The free love became more...” Skyler said. “The church members all started having sex, honestly, doing more risque stuff.”
“Even inside the church?” J said. “Whoa, what the fuck!”
Skyler nodded. “Mmm-hmm. Even in the church. Even on Sunday morning.”
“And everybody liked it?”
“Right,” Skyler chuckled. “There was no rape or molesting or anything like that.”
“So then what was the problem?”
Smirking, Skyler pointed down the hall. All those pictures. “You saw the crowds. They were mixed. Interracial love was common at Romero’s churches. Which was against the law at that time.” Skyler cracked up. “Well, sex in church period was. But you get the point.”
“Yeah, I got you,” J replied.
I noticed Rhonnie and Tanner exchanging drunken smiles. They were killing us on the beers. Not an easy task with me and J in town.
“Well, hey, Skyler,” J said. “This shit… sounds like some kind of cult shit to be honest.”
“Yeah and that was how the town looked at it,” Skyler said.
I faced him. “So what happened to Reverend Romero?”
Skyler hesitated. Somewhere between amused and disturbed. “Well… there was more than just the interracial stuff that pissed the town off.”
“Like what?”
“Well, David was actually bisexual. Most of the men and women in these churches were.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw J’s jaw hit the floor.
“Holeee shit…” J said.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw both Rhonnie and Tanner grin at one another. A warm smile amidst Skyler’s strange story.
“So yeah,” Skyler went on. “Obviously back then, a town like this that’s more prejudiced, that shit caused an uproar. The governor got involved. It was a complete fucking shitshow.”
I sifted in my seat. “Well, shit, did they arrest them?”
“No, they were gonna to but David had other plans.” For dramatic effect, Skyler grabbed his can. “No one knows for sure where the whole church went, but wherever it was they held a mass suicide.
“Jesus fucking Christ…” J exclaimed.
“It was about fifty people,” Skyler said.
Feeling uneasy, I looked toward Rhonnie and Tanner. Now they both stared right at me. Sure, they were drunk. Not to mention weird... But they were fucking staring me down hard. Their gazes chilling and precise.
“I never found out if it was poison or stabbings or what,” Skyler said.
Everyone’s eyes now stayed on him. Horror geeks glued to a human T.V. set. This most unusual horror host.
“But the whole town covered it up,” Skyler went on. “The whole state, so there’s not much info out there. Hell…” He raised the can before deliberating. Skyler confronted our fascinated faces. “They’re not even sure if they found all the bodies.”
Hours later, we found ourselves at Kirby’s. Needless to say, no cars were in the parking lot. Hell, we walked here ourselves. Just a drunken nighttime stroll.
The place looked even older closer up. The 1940s Norman Rockwell aesthetic far from a kitschy decision. Not considering the cobwebs and flickering lights at least. In between the beer were shelves of comic books and newspapers. Southern slang and sayings were displayed on various signs. Caricatures of smiling kids both black and white surrounded us. As did quite a few crucifixes... some with and without Jesus on them.
A dirty coffee maker looked to be the elderly cashier’s life support. Like those old photographs, she was dressed well in a regal white blouse. Her oversized glasses and gray hair unable to ruin that inherent beauty. She moved about the store, stocking the shelves. All to the beat of Buddy Holly & The Crickets’ “Rave On” playing off her transistor radio.
We were on our best behavior. As much as possible given everyone except Skyler was a six pack in. Okay, maybe eight beers apiece...
In drunken jovial spirits, we staggered around. Gathered up the cookies and thirty packs.
Calm, the cashier approached us. “Hey, if you boys don’t mind, go ahead and get what you need,” she said in an elegant Southern accent. She pointed toward the bland store hours sign: 9-9 read its Friday slot. All in a pretty scribbled font. “We’re about to close.”
J stared at her in disbelief. “Y’all close at nine?”
“Yes sir.”
“But on a Friday!” Grinning, he faced the rest of us. “Really…”
“Albany, bro,” Tanner quipped.
We gathered our beer and snacks and headed on back to the Haunt. Nothing too out of the ordinary happened… other than ordinary All-American partying. With no close neighbors, we could blast YouTube all night. Get absolutely shit-faced. All while those many cameras filmed us… while our WeWatchedAMovie faithful indulged in our obvious intoxication.
Around midnight, J and I retreated to our upstairs bedroom. Right across the hall from Skyler. We had enough reserves up here to embarrass a bar. Not to mention enough oldass furniture to open an antique shop. But we needed a private meeting… A business meeting. To my relief, J wasn’t being a little bitch. Our anti-Paranormal Activity wasn’t necessarily bad. Yeah, we had no ghost sightings or paranormal phenomena… not yet at least. But our banter with the boys was entertaining. No different than our actual show... And the livestream’s comments further proved this.
After the pep talk, we went into the hallway. At the same time as Skyler.
Feeling his buzz, Skyler flashed a smile. If only J and I could still get that shit-faced off five beers. “What’s up, guys?” Skyler said.
“You doing good?” J chuckled.
“Oh yeah. Ready for the ghosts.”
“Reverend Romero?” I remarked.
Before Skyler could answer, singing distracted us. A loud choir… The hymn’s harmonies so haunting.
“Yo, what the fuck’s that!” J yelled.
The three of us looked downstairs.
The singing continued. Low, steady, and distorted... as if it were being played off a phonograph. Never once did the voices get louder. Nor did it ever hit a powerful crescendo. But the chorus stayed eerie… and echoed all through the house.
J pointed me toward a counter. Our reflections greeted us in a mirror. A camera stared at us beside a few dusty books.
Getting back in host mode, I took control of the scene. The spotlight. “Here we are on Drunk Hauntings!” I said to the camera. “Our first fucking night here, and we’re already hearing creepy shit at The Hardup Drive Haunt!”
J pointed downstairs. “Yeah, listen to this shit!”
Nervous, Skyler faced us. “Is it really-”
J shushed him on the spot.
Still facing the camera, I continued on with our livestream. Still clinging to my beer. And our madness. “We’re now hearing singing. What sounds like a really creepy church choir.”
“It does!” Skyler added. “They used to sing here all the time! David and his church!”
A sudden crash shot through the night. Everyone jumped back.
But the chorus continued. More voices now joined in. The hymn got louder. Passionate. Fiery.
Panicking, Skyler rushed for the stairs. “Come on! Let’s find them!”
“Yo, wait!” J hollered.
We followed Skyler downstairs. Followed the weird singing.
“Who is that!” I yelled.
“I don’t know!” Skyler said.
The conglomeration of voices stayed loud. But we saw no one. No choir. Not even Reverend Romero.
And once we hit the living room, the chorus was replaced by cheesy pop music. Gone was the chills. In came the cringe.
Wearing only boxers and a Kings Of Leon tee, Rhonnie lied sprawled out on the couch. A half-empty thirty pack at his feet, a half-empty Busch Light can in his hand. The Jeffrey Dahmer glasses on his face. He looked dazed and confused... somehow still awake.
The flatscreen played YouTube. Paula Cole’s “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”. Yeah… we were all kinda confused.
Still recovering from the scare, I walked behind the couch. Trying to hear the hymn, a voice. Anything… but I got nothing. Only my lingering adrenaline.
“What the fuck is this!” J yelled.
Groggy, Rhonnie leaned up. “Hey. Y’all are back!” Chuckling, he raised his can.
J took an angry step toward him. “What the Hell are you doing, man!”
“What?”
J motioned toward the flatscreen. “You’re playing this shit and missing everything!”
“Hey, I like this song,” Rhonnie protested.
“Shit, did you even hear it?”
Rhonnie staggered to his feet. “Hear what?”
“The chorus, man!”
“Yeah, we heard singing,” Skyler told Rhonnie.
“Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” kept going. Its catchy hooks all the more agonizing. I felt my ears ring. Surprised blood didn’t flow from them...
“What the fuck…” Rhonnie smirked. “Singing?”
Frustrated, J kicked the thirty-pack. “Yeah, asshole!”
Using the can, Rhonnie waved toward all those Busch Lights. “Hey, chill out, man!”
“Oh really? We didn’t drive out to the middle of fucking Georgia to watch you drink shitty beer!” J pointed at the cameras. “We got a show to film, bro! We need ghosts, not Goddamn Paula Cole and whatever other bullshit nineties pop music you’re playing!”
Skyler grabbed J’s arm. “Dude, it’s not that serious-”
J yanked his arm away. “No, we didn’t come out here to watch Rhonnie drink thirty beers!”
“I only drank twenty!” Rhonnie yelled.
“Whatever!” J put down his beer and grabbed the remote.
“Hey, what the fuck!” Rhonnie said.
Without hesitation, J muted the flatscreen. The 90s cheese. “You’re scaring the viewers with this shit!” He flashed a glare at Rhonnie. “And with those fucking perv glasses!”
In a drunken stumble, Rhonnie pointed at the music video. “That song was cool, man.”
“I kinda like it too,” Skyler agreed.
Amidst the arguing, my gaze drifted toward the wall. The blank space now filled by a brass picture frame. A gorgeous photograph hanging on the wall. One in all its black-and-white glory.
Instantly, I recognized most of the smiling faces inside. The man of the hour as well: David Romero. The handsome preacher surrounded by men and women. Excited followers both black and white. Everyone dressed nice and looking so attractive in a room not unlike the one we were in now… The same wooden chair lurked in the corner. The party not much different than ours. Call me crazy but the 1930s never looked so modern… So fresh.
“No wonder you called us out here!” I heard J tell Rhonnie.
Turning, I saw the three drunks before me. Well, Rhonnie and J were hammered at least. Skyler an unfortunately-only-tipsy casualty in their battle. Skyler struggling to get between them.
“Guys, just fucking chill!” Skyler said.
“You’re a brokeass writer, Rhonnie!” J hurled at our beloved writer. He waved at the thirty-pack. “No wonder you drink this shit beer and stay up all night! You got nothing else to do!”
“Hey, I was writing earlier!” Rhonnie said. He pointed toward his off-brand laptop on the sofa. “The beer helps me focus!”
J got in Rhonnie’s face. “We gotta show ghosts for the audience, man! That’s what we agreed to! The Goddamn writing can wait.”
“Okay, man-”
J motioned toward Rhonnie’s boxers. “And put on some damn pants at least!”
“Guys!” I interrupted.
The three of them looked toward me.
Holding their attention and the camera’s unwavering eye, I pointed toward the photograph. “This wasn’t here before!”
“Holy shit!” J yelled.
They all rushed up to me. Their fear obvious… and their intrigue.
Even in the warm room, I caught a chill. Especially considering how David stared right at me. His smile stabbing my soul.
“Shit…” J muttered. “They were probably the ones we heard singing.”
I watched Rhonnie take a nervous sip. His discomfort matched only by terror and Busch Light.
“This picture must’ve been here at some point,” Skyler said. He faced us. “They probably took it when the church was here.”
“The room even looks the same,” I commented.
Blaring static almost made me shit my pants. The fucking turbulence was torturous.
“What the fuck!” J cried.
We looked over at the flatscreen. Scrambled snow dominated the screen.
“I thought you muted it?” Skyler asked J.
Flustered, J pointed the remote at the T.V. “I did!”
I looked over at Rhonnie. He just took another casual sip of booze. Nowhere near as frightened as we were. Then again, the guy was fucking drunk… even drunker than us.
Like a pissed-off gamer, J mashed the remote’s buttons in a frenzy. But the screen stayed the same. Still on the static. The snow. “What the fuck!” J yelled.
The chorus came roaring back. Their pretty voices were weapons sending shivers down our spines. The call of Christian sirens. Of deranged beauty.
Grainy black-and-white footage now played on the flatscreen. No info was given. But none needed. Not when I recognized Reverend Romero standing in the center of a gorgeous crowd. All of them sang an eloquent hymn together… Right here in the living room or what was close enough to it. Their eyes and smiles stayed focused on us.
“Jesus Christ…” Skyler said.
“Fuck this!” J cried.
I looked back-and-forth between the photo and video. They were the same scene. The same group in a room similar to where the four of us stood now. Only in 2020, David and his followers were somehow still in action. Their movement in rhythm as one eerie being. “Holy shit!” I exclaimed.
Terrified, J pressed the remote’s many buttons. “It won’t change!”
The singing grew more manic. Louder than what we heard upstairs. At this point, I felt the windows rattle. Felt my mind on the verge of a brutal breakdown. The hymn’s soothing lyrics took on a darker meaning in this tone... A threat rather than inspiration.
Grabbing my ears, I confronted the flatscreen. At the choir’s glares focused on us. None of them blinked. Their cold glares were relentless. David leading the onslaught…
“Turn that shit off!” Skyler yelled at J.
J kept hitting the power button. Any fucking button… a futile effort all around. “I can’t!” he yelled.
I saw Rhonnie leaning against the wall. Right next to the framed photo. His eyes fluttering in and out of consciousness. Either in meditation or pain… I couldn’t tell. He just kept hanging on to that beer.
The singing continued. Too raw to be pretty. The voices hitting deep, dark levels rather than Angelic euphoria. There was energy and enthusiasm... but at a frantic pace. A deranged tempo. An army instead of chorus.
Desperate, Skyler reached toward J. “Let me try!”
Clinging to the remote, J stumbled away. “No, hold on!”
Then the T.V. cut off. The screen hit pitch black. The room in pitch silence. Ourselves just flat out fucking scared.
“Oh shit!” I cried.
Tanner then emerged from the downstairs hallway. His bathrobe literally dragging in. The man was half-asleep. Veering toward a hangover…
We all looked on, stunned. Even Rhonnie fell away from the wall.
In the tense silence, Tanner stopped by the chair. He flashed us a buzzed smile. “I was just getting another beer.” He motioned toward the kitchen. “Y’all want one?”
[14](https://www.reddit.com/rhonnie14FanPage/)
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2020.04.29 05:18 the14thaccount Camera surveillance on sex caught

WeWatchedAMovie had modest beginnings but only got bigger. We were just two guys making a YouTube channel… one about horror movies. That was our plot. Again, nothing special or different than the hundreds of other channels… Except for one thing: me and J got drunk. Both of us watched the movies and reviewed them. That was our niche. And Goddamn, we were born for it.
Born and raised in small town Kentucky, we’d been doing this channel for well over ten years now. Through this time, the horror genre had changed. YouTube blew up. Our channel hit a hundred thousand subscribers… But J and I never changed. We’d been bros since high school and only grew closer through our YouTube “careers.”
Now in our early 30s, J and I considered branching out. Not leaving YouTube or WeWatchedAMovie behind. Just a way to broaden our shared horror passion. I was married with two young daughters, J was divorced and constantly broke. But new content equaled more cash. So fuck it, we decided to do a spin-off.
And why not? We made a nice team. I was a goofball with an athletic frame minus the beer belly. J the shorter, smartass sidekick. Our comedy meshed as did our review styles. Beyond the YouTube hijinks, I wanted to be a writer. And with that, I looked for the artistic merits to horror cinema. Even the shittier movies. J, on the other hand, stayed a fucking cynic. The guy more relentless than a movie snob on steroids.
So here we were in January. Mike and J down and out and pondering ideas. The two of us were the lone producers so we had to figure out the ultimate question: What else could we do with horror and booze? Inspired by a couple of twelve-packs and binging Ghost Adventures over the weekend, the idea hit us both at the same time: Drunk Hauntings. Yeah, that’s right. J and I were gonna take our traveling band throughout the country. On a tour of terror. Booze, ghosts. All of it on a livestream! And best of all by spending the night at haunted houses, we wouldn’t even have to spend anything on hotel fare.
This lightning bolt idea energized us. Within a few days, we told our Patreon members the plan. Only we had someone particular in mind for our premiere episode. A NoSleep writer who sometimes lurked in our comments. The long-distance bromance we shared with rhonnie14 hit its culmination.
Yeah, we obviously didn’t “know” the guy in person. Rhonnie was a horror writer out in Georgia. A damn good one but also a total weirdo… not that J and I had room to talk. From his deep voice on the phone to his quirky mannerisms and dark emo swoop, Rhonnie always imbued horror charisma. He got the genre. Lived and breathed it like us… Not to mention was a bit of a drunk like we were. So naturally, we got along. At least through technology. Plus, I knew Rhonnie with the silent h would be an obvious draw for the first episode. Both for his fans and ours.
Soon, I called Rhonnie and asked him if he had any locations we could check out. Any haunted hotspots. To our luck, Rhonnie’s friend Tanner owned a supposedly-haunted house down in Albany, Georgia. One on a road that had four churches. And in the middle of fucking nowhere. The Hardup Drive Haunt it was called… And from the brief research J and me did, we vouched the location enough. Tanner gave Rhonnie permission and then we were off and running.
In J’s SUV, we made the Southern fried drive. Just two dudes, a shit-ton of beer, and all our own equipment. Even more interesting was that Rhonnie told us this Tanner guy wanted to stay with us during the weekend filming. His family owned the house but no one ever stayed there… So powerful was the creep factor. But Tanner’s curiosity won out... apparently, he was yet another drunk we could use for our show.
Rhonnie also informed us his buddy Skyler would be staying there. Skyler was an indie filmmaker so passionate he was flying down from Kansas City, Missouri. So now we had a bachelor-party/reality-show-crew combo rocking for this fateful weekend in January. This shit was getting real… I just hoped these motherfuckers knew J and I couldn’t pay much.
Regardless of the history, Albany was one ugly city. A smorgasbord of poverty, urban decay, and towering old houses. The town’s weather about as cold as its corrupt soul.
Even with the address, J and I still got fucking lost… Rhonnie and his crew had to meet us at a Walmart before leading us beyond the city limits. I’m talking we followed his Camry out to the fucking boonies, man. Where the four churches and a haunted house awaited us.
I slouched back in the passenger’s seat, J behind the wheel. Our traveler’s cups chocked full of booze. Led Zeppelin II at a manageable volume on the radio. Our warm-up music.
Struggling to stay warm, I looked on at the rural isolation. At the farmland and endless forest.
“So are you sure this is a haunted house?” J quipped. His bright eyes faced me. A mischievous smile on his round face. Our facial hair struggling to grow but beyond disarray at this point. “You sure Rhonnie ain’t taking us to like the fucking Sawyer family or something?”
I cracked up. “Naw, that was Texas not Georgia.”
“You know Deliverance was filmed in Georgia…”
I gave J a light shove. “Shut the fuck up, man!”
Grabbing his beer, J chuckled. “Hey, come on! I mean look at this place!”
I ran a hand through my spiked hair. J had a point. Aside from the sprawling woods, I’d only seen the occasional trailer or shack. None of them inhabitable.
“Aw, look at this shit!” I heard J say.
“What?” I asked. I looked on to see the silver Camry turning on to a side road. A fucking dirt road at that… Its tombstone of a green sign read: Hardup Drive.
We followed Rhonnie. Somehow, we entered more isolation. A countrified crypt. Towering trees blocked out most of the sunlight.
Feeling a little uneasy, I watched us pass cavernous ditches. At least my iPhone still had four bars. “You think the livestream will be okay?”
“Aw yeah, should be fine,” J answered. He pointed toward the back. Our stacks of equipment. “Rhonnie said the service out here’s perfect.”
“What, for real?”
“Crazy, I know.”
For a few moments, we saw nothing. No houses, damn sure no churches. Hell, I didn’t even see a critter in those woods.
Then my iPhone jolted to life. Rhonnie was calling.
“Who is it?” J said.
I answered the call through his stereo.
“You guys good?” Rhonnie’s voice asked. He already sounded excited. Already hitting that beer buzz, I figured. The cheap beer buzz.
I looked on at Hardup Drive. “Uh, yeah. Just how far away’s the house exactly?”
“We’re not too far.”
“Okay…” On the other end, J and I heard constant chatter. Tanner and Skyler’s voices.
“So there’s supposed to be seven churches,” Rhonnie said. “But I think there’s only four of them left.”
“Yeah, there is,” Tanner’s voice added. “There’s only four now.”
J grinned. “So what the Hell happened to the other three?”
“Long story-” Tanner started.
“We don’t know!” Rhonnie interrupted.
Then we finally saw life. Or what was more like death... A decrepit white church stood there on its last gasp. Its yard conquered by high grass... as was its crumbling cemetery. Amidst the windows and cobwebs was a stone cross. A memorial somehow surviving almost a century of neglect.
“Oh shit, is that the first one?” J asked.
“Yeah!” Rhonnie said.
We saw houses now. Nothing pretty or exotic. Small and average homes scattered about. Some cabins. Their properties large. And hey, there were people standing outside. Old fucking people. But shit, they at least smiled and waved at us!
“And here’s the second one,” Rhonnie said.
On our right was a tall brick church. There was no cemetery. No stairs leading up to its rottings porch and bright yellow door. Graffiti and cuss words ran along its walls like spray-painted scripture.
“Looks like ass,” J commented.
“It gets better!” We heard Tanner yell. I heard Skyler chuckle behind him.
We passed some abandoned trailers before coming upon the remnants of church number three. The entire roof was missing…. ripped off by the hands of God or the Devil himself. Nothing remained on top. Weirdly enough, everything else was fine. The church looked clean, the yard pristine. Its cemetery decorated by fresh flowers and spotless grave markers.
“Like check out this fucker!” Tanner’s voice said.
Amidst J’s drunken laughter, I looked on at Rhonnie’s Camry. Sure, we were encountering houses and buildings. Some signs of civilization. Still I couldn’t shake the dread. We were still out in the middle of nowhere... And closer and closer to that fateful house.
The area just got darker. I gazed off at the forest. An eerie canvas only interrupted by old fucking houses.
“So where’s the fourth one?” J asked Rhonnie.
“It’s hard to see,” Rhonnie replied.
And he was right. Buried in the back of the woods was an unsettling foundation. I strained to see through the trees and weeds. To see a porch left all alone. This church nothing more than a few wooden benches forever awaiting its next sermon.
I leaned in closer toward J. Both of us transfixed by the church’s nearby graveyard. The tombstones all covered in mold. Its small gate sinking straight into the ground. A slow descent to death... much like the rest of the church.
“Shit…” J commented.
“I told y’all!” Rhonnie said.
Like a guided tour, we continued following Rhonnie down Hardup Drive. A road tailor-made for horror movies... And us.
Soon, we passed one of the nicer homes. A large cabin. Flowers bloomed in the yard’s garden. Azalea bushes led up to a mailbox. Standing in the driveway, an elderly couple waved at us as we drove past. The woman had long flowing gray hair, the man’s smile so big and wide. Dressed in their Sunday best, they looked to be in good shape. Even if they were over eighty.
“Hey, Mrs. Bellinger!” I heard Tanner yell to them.
J looked toward the radio. Our call was now at the ten minute mark.
“So not to be a dick, but are we getting any closer?” J asked.
“Right here!!” Tanner said.
There it was on our left. The Hardup Drive Haunt in all its creepy glory. What we saw earlier was unsettling enough... But it had nothing on this. The Haunt was the real fucking deal.
Yeah, the house wasn’t a shitshow or dilapidated. Its two story structure stood strong and defiant. The wood sturdy. Its white paint somehow perfect. The lawn trim if barren. Dirt patches were everywhere… Possibly burial spots for all I knew.
Regardless of its attempt at normalcy, the house was still frightening. There were the crooked shutters. The lonely front porch. The rooster windvane on the roof no one wanted to claim. This was a farmhouse of the dead…
“Up ahead is Kirby’s,” Tanner told us. “We can get more beer and shit there later.”
Too scared to talk, J and I looked down the road. We saw the brick convenience store. Its appearance struggling to stave off starvation. Struggling to keep its pleasant aura of 1930s Americana. The gas pumps looked to be stolen from a museum. Its parking lot dirt and rubble rather than pavement. Kirby’s General Store read the store’s swinging hand-painted sign.
J stole another nervous sip from his cup. The buzz doing nothing for his fear.
“Definitely need more beer,” we heard Rhonnie say.
“I might get a souvenir,” Skyler’s wry voice noted.
J and I followed Rhonnie down the long dirt driveway. The house was in the very back. Far from Hardup Drive and right in front of the suffocating forest. An army of metal and wooden sheds lined up in the backyard. Homemade monuments somehow standing the test of time... Their doors all wide open.
The realization sunk into J and I. The rising dread. We’d come so far… and now we were face-to-face with the beast. Sure, horror movies were scary but they weren’t personal. They weren’t threatening. But now those goofy ghost and haunted house movies manifested right before us. They beckoned us… We were really gonna need to get shit-faced just to make it through one night much less the weekend.
The Haunt’s interior wasn’t any less spooky. The lighting was dim. The furniture stolen from a 1940s Gothic drama. Needless to say, its age showed. As did its proper style.
A cold draft permeated through each and every room. Here we were in the dead of winter and not even this huge house could give us an escape. The heater was an older model so unreliable, of course.
But there was some cool shit! Every room except the living room had portraits galore. Both framed paintings and black-and-white photographs from a bygone era. All of which, according to Tanner, featured people prominent in both Albany and Hardup Drive’s seven churches. Hell, it certainly showed in their suits and dresses. The clean haircuts, the groomed facial hair. And the perfect make-up. Their fashion no different than the Bellingers we saw earlier. To our surprise, the churches consisted of a very diverse crowd. Young, old. Black, white. All these people shared were the same lower middle class roots. The same devotion to Christ.
There was a prominent person in each and every photo: a tall, muscular man. He was handsome even in the pressed suits. Too sophisticated for bumfuck, Georgia. He was the centerpiece in all the pictures. Women and men admired him. They gravitated to this guy. J and I were thinking preacher… judging by this guy’s charismatic smile anyway. Even if the shaggy straight hair and beard didn’t quite fit the clean-cut stereotype you’d expect from the Bible Belt. This dude seemed to be a hippie reverend about half a century before such gurus became en vogue.
We should’ve been glad Tanner at least had a Smart TV. Otherwise, we’d have been stuck with a vinyl record player for entertainment. Or those transistor radios in the bedrooms.
That night, the five of us congregated in front of the living room’s flatscreen. Skyler sat beside J and I on the couch. Tanner in a recliner, Rhonnie on a wooden chair next to him. All three of them were attractive guys. Rhonnie the scrawniest, Tanner the tallest. Skyler the loudest. Tanner had a sensitive tough guy look going, Skyler the eccentric filmmaker to Rhonnie’s weirdo writer.
Together, we’d already set up cameras throughout the house. Including one by the T.V. We had total surveillance for this livestream.
Rhonnie and his buddies kept us entertained. Especially now that everybody was well past drunk. Everyone with a beer in his hand.
Skyler looked over at Rhonnie. “Ashley can’t make it this weekend?”
Rhonnie and Tanner exchanged amused looks. “Naw,” Rhonnie began. “She wanted to but like her friends came calling.” He took a long swig. “You know how that shit goes.”
“I feel you,” I said.
“What about you, Tanner?” Skyler asked.
Tanner just shrugged his shoulders. “Totally single.”
“Nice,” J commented. “Like me.”
“You’re divorced!” I quipped.
Laughing, J took another sip. “Well... yeah.”
“So Skyler and I are the only ones married,” I said.
“Pretty much,” Skyler said with a smile. “You couldn’t get your wife to come down either?”
“Hell no! She don’t like scary shit like me.” I grinned at J. “Like us, I should say.”
Taking the spotlight, J clapped his hands together. “So we got ourselves a regular sausage fest?”
“True,” Skyler chuckled.
“Five drunk white guys in a haunted house, what can go wrong?”
“So you think all those photos and shit connect to the other churches?” I asked Tanner.
“Oh yeah,” Tanner replied. “They were too close together, man. There’s definitely a connection.” He pointed toward the wall behind us. A blank tapestry. “Mom and dad said there used to be one picture there actually.”
J cracked a smile. “Shit, I believe it!”
Tanner ran a hand through his short hair. “They said one day it just vanished. No clue where the Hell it went.” He took a swig.
“That’s fucking weird,” I commented.
Flashing a smile, Rhonnie held his can of Busch Light toward me. Everyone else held Michelob Ultras. You know, normal beer. “Hey, I appreciate the beer, man!” he yelled.
“You told us two thirty packs,” J quipped. “Hell, as cheap as that shit was, that’s no problem.”
“That’s what I always tell him!” Tanner said.
Leaning in closer, Skyler pointed toward the camera by the flatscreen. “Maybe Busch Light can help us sponsor this!”
“Not a bad idea,” J quipped.
Rhonnie took another sip. “I like it.”
I motioned toward Tanner. “Well, listen, you sure your family’s cool-”
Grinning, Tanner waved me off. “Yeah, Hell yeah! They’re honored to have y’all check this place out!”
Amidst the many mics, the cameras caught my eye. On a lonely bookshelf was another one Skyler had placed. A full Panorama for what was sure to be our weirdest livestream.
“So what’s like the history to the Hardup Drive Haunt?” J asked.
“Aw, man,” Tanner said. He leaned back in his seat. His beer at the ready. “Apparently a lot.”
“I bet,” I commented.
“My parents didn’t wanna talk about it much,” Tanner continued. “They were pretty freaked out.”
“Like this whole town,” Rhonnie added.
“Exactly!” Tanner replied. “Anyway, we never even moved in. My dad just bought it for the deal, the location. This was back in the nineties, but he knew about the… scary shit. I don’t know. He was actually stupid enough to think he could sell the fucking place.”
J leaned in closer. “But what about the stories and legends or whatever.”
“My parents didn’t wanna know all that shit, man.”
“So you don’t know-”
Tanner held up his beer, stopping J. “Hey, I know some of the stories! I always loved horror and was curious, you know.” He flashed that handsome smile. “That’s the main reason I’m glad y’all are here. To really show me the history of the Haunt! What really went on out here.”
“Well, what do you know?” J asked.
“Just. Just the basics.” Tanner leaned back. “I know in the thirties, shit went down. Some crazy reverend and all the other wackos out here at these churches.” Getting into his tipsy zone, Tanner pointed toward the floor. “I think there was an old church here. They ended up tearing the place down, but this very fucking house got built right here! And it’s like… it’s like Poltergeist! You’re building on sacred ground, man! On haunted ground!”
Battling the fear, I held my hands out. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! You mean all these churches are all connected like that?”
“That’s the rumor at least.”
I waved around the living room. “And this house was built on top of a fucking haunted church!”
“Yeah, that’s wild,” J said.
“As far as I know,” Tanner replied. “All I know’s the preacher was fucking nuts.” He let out a quick laugh. “All the preachers out on Hardup Drive were for that matter.”
“That’s fucking wild, yo…” I said.
Like a drunk T.V. interviewer, J stumbled over both his words and mannerisms. “So was this like some kind of cult?”
“Hell, I don’t know, man,” Tanner replied. “I just know like the basics. There were seven churches, a couple of preachers. Everyone seemed to get along but were like weird and shit. Like they got along well, you got different races and shit… but they did different shit. Albany hated them.”
“Damn...” J commented.
“I guess in that sense they could be considered a cult. A bunch of outsiders. For what exactly, I’m not really sure...”
Skyler readjusted his glasses. “Yeah, I looked more into it actually.”
“Whoa!” Rhonnie joked in drunken fashion.
Grinning, Skyler held up his hands. “I know, I know.”
Both J and I now faced Skyler in anticipation. Out of morbid curiosity.
“What all did you find out?” Tanner asked.
“So the main preacher was Reverend David Romero,” Skyler said. “He was kind of a wacky dude.”
“The Charlie Manson looking guy,” J said.
“Yeah, but, uh, more attractive, more social. You know, he was charismatic and had his way with the women around here.” Skyler placed his nearly-full beer can on the floor before locking eyes with us. His captivated congregation. “What he was able to accomplish was pretty impressive actually.” Skyler waved toward a window. Toward Hardup Drive. “By connecting all seven of these churches, David brought the community together. The Methodists, the Baptists, everyone got along.”
Using his cheap can, Rhonnie pointed down the hall. The stairway. “So that’s why they were all diverse?”
“Yeah, he ignored racism and all that sort of shit. Romero let African-Americas, Hispanics join the churches. He gave women prominent roles. He was very progressive! And this is insane to think about in 1930s Georgia.”
“No shit…”
“And all these people came together, they prayed together.” Going into professor mode, Skyler moved his hands all about, his tone commanding. Channeling Rhonnie for that matter… “They were happy. Everyone got along.”
“So if everyone was in Shangri-La,” J started. “Then what the fuck happened? Why are there ghosts here?”
Skyler sat back in his seat. “Well… that’s the thing. David was too far ahead of his time.”
“So what happened?” Tanner asked.
Like an intimate storyteller, Skyler hesitated. Seizing the spotlight. Heightening the dramatic tension. Goddamn, he had me sold. “The free love became more...” Skyler said. “The church members all started having sex, honestly, doing more risque stuff.”
“Even inside the church?” J said. “Whoa, what the fuck!”
Skyler nodded. “Mmm-hmm. Even in the church. Even on Sunday morning.”
“And everybody liked it?”
“Right,” Skyler chuckled. “There was no rape or molesting or anything like that.”
“So then what was the problem?”
Smirking, Skyler pointed down the hall. All those pictures. “You saw the crowds. They were mixed. Interracial love was common at Romero’s churches. Which was against the law at that time.” Skyler cracked up. “Well, sex in church period was. But you get the point.”
“Yeah, I got you,” J replied.
I noticed Rhonnie and Tanner exchanging drunken smiles. They were killing us on the beers. Not an easy task with me and J in town.
“Well, hey, Skyler,” J said. “This shit… sounds like some kind of cult shit to be honest.”
“Yeah and that was how the town looked at it,” Skyler said.
I faced him. “So what happened to Reverend Romero?”
Skyler hesitated. Somewhere between amused and disturbed. “Well… there was more than just the interracial stuff that pissed the town off.”
“Like what?”
“Well, David was actually bisexual. Most of the men and women in these churches were.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw J’s jaw hit the floor.
“Holeee shit…” J said.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw both Rhonnie and Tanner grin at one another. A warm smile amidst Skyler’s strange story.
“So yeah,” Skyler went on. “Obviously back then, a town like this that’s more prejudiced, that shit caused an uproar. The governor got involved. It was a complete fucking shitshow.”
I sifted in my seat. “Well, shit, did they arrest them?”
“No, they were gonna to but David had other plans.” For dramatic effect, Skyler grabbed his can. “No one knows for sure where the whole church went, but wherever it was they held a mass suicide.
“Jesus fucking Christ…” J exclaimed.
“It was about fifty people,” Skyler said.
Feeling uneasy, I looked toward Rhonnie and Tanner. Now they both stared right at me. Sure, they were drunk. Not to mention weird... But they were fucking staring me down hard. Their gazes chilling and precise.
“I never found out if it was poison or stabbings or what,” Skyler said.
Everyone’s eyes now stayed on him. Horror geeks glued to a human T.V. set. This most unusual horror host.
“But the whole town covered it up,” Skyler went on. “The whole state, so there’s not much info out there. Hell…” He raised the can before deliberating. Skyler confronted our fascinated faces. “They’re not even sure if they found all the bodies.”
Hours later, we found ourselves at Kirby’s. Needless to say, no cars were in the parking lot. Hell, we walked here ourselves. Just a drunken nighttime stroll.
The place looked even older closer up. The 1940s Norman Rockwell aesthetic far from a kitschy decision. Not considering the cobwebs and flickering lights at least. In between the beer were shelves of comic books and newspapers. Southern slang and sayings were displayed on various signs. Caricatures of smiling kids both black and white surrounded us. As did quite a few crucifixes... some with and without Jesus on them.
A dirty coffee maker looked to be the elderly cashier’s life support. Like those old photographs, she was dressed well in a regal white blouse. Her oversized glasses and gray hair unable to ruin that inherent beauty. She moved about the store, stocking the shelves. All to the beat of Buddy Holly & The Crickets’ “Rave On” playing off her transistor radio.
We were on our best behavior. As much as possible given everyone except Skyler was a six pack in. Okay, maybe eight beers apiece...
In drunken jovial spirits, we staggered around. Gathered up the cookies and thirty packs.
Calm, the cashier approached us. “Hey, if you boys don’t mind, go ahead and get what you need,” she said in an elegant Southern accent. She pointed toward the bland store hours sign: 9-9 read its Friday slot. All in a pretty scribbled font. “We’re about to close.”
J stared at her in disbelief. “Y’all close at nine?”
“Yes sir.”
“But on a Friday!” Grinning, he faced the rest of us. “Really…”
“Albany, bro,” Tanner quipped.
We gathered our beer and snacks and headed on back to the Haunt. Nothing too out of the ordinary happened… other than ordinary All-American partying. With no close neighbors, we could blast YouTube all night. Get absolutely shit-faced. All while those many cameras filmed us… while our WeWatchedAMovie faithful indulged in our obvious intoxication.
Around midnight, J and I retreated to our upstairs bedroom. Right across the hall from Skyler. We had enough reserves up here to embarrass a bar. Not to mention enough oldass furniture to open an antique shop. But we needed a private meeting… A business meeting. To my relief, J wasn’t being a little bitch. Our anti-Paranormal Activity wasn’t necessarily bad. Yeah, we had no ghost sightings or paranormal phenomena… not yet at least. But our banter with the boys was entertaining. No different than our actual show... And the livestream’s comments further proved this.
After the pep talk, we went into the hallway. At the same time as Skyler.
Feeling his buzz, Skyler flashed a smile. If only J and I could still get that shit-faced off five beers. “What’s up, guys?” Skyler said.
“You doing good?” J chuckled.
“Oh yeah. Ready for the ghosts.”
“Reverend Romero?” I remarked.
Before Skyler could answer, singing distracted us. A loud choir… The hymn’s harmonies so haunting.
“Yo, what the fuck’s that!” J yelled.
The three of us looked downstairs.
The singing continued. Low, steady, and distorted... as if it were being played off a phonograph. Never once did the voices get louder. Nor did it ever hit a powerful crescendo. But the chorus stayed eerie… and echoed all through the house.
J pointed me toward a counter. Our reflections greeted us in a mirror. A camera stared at us beside a few dusty books.
Getting back in host mode, I took control of the scene. The spotlight. “Here we are on Drunk Hauntings!” I said to the camera. “Our first fucking night here, and we’re already hearing creepy shit at The Hardup Drive Haunt!”
J pointed downstairs. “Yeah, listen to this shit!”
Nervous, Skyler faced us. “Is it really-”
J shushed him on the spot.
Still facing the camera, I continued on with our livestream. Still clinging to my beer. And our madness. “We’re now hearing singing. What sounds like a really creepy church choir.”
“It does!” Skyler added. “They used to sing here all the time! David and his church!”
A sudden crash shot through the night. Everyone jumped back.
But the chorus continued. More voices now joined in. The hymn got louder. Passionate. Fiery.
Panicking, Skyler rushed for the stairs. “Come on! Let’s find them!”
“Yo, wait!” J hollered.
We followed Skyler downstairs. Followed the weird singing.
“Who is that!” I yelled.
“I don’t know!” Skyler said.
The conglomeration of voices stayed loud. But we saw no one. No choir. Not even Reverend Romero.
And once we hit the living room, the chorus was replaced by cheesy pop music. Gone was the chills. In came the cringe.
Wearing only boxers and a Kings Of Leon tee, Rhonnie lied sprawled out on the couch. A half-empty thirty pack at his feet, a half-empty Busch Light can in his hand. The Jeffrey Dahmer glasses on his face. He looked dazed and confused... somehow still awake.
The flatscreen played YouTube. Paula Cole’s “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”. Yeah… we were all kinda confused.
Still recovering from the scare, I walked behind the couch. Trying to hear the hymn, a voice. Anything… but I got nothing. Only my lingering adrenaline.
“What the fuck is this!” J yelled.
Groggy, Rhonnie leaned up. “Hey. Y’all are back!” Chuckling, he raised his can.
J took an angry step toward him. “What the Hell are you doing, man!”
“What?”
J motioned toward the flatscreen. “You’re playing this shit and missing everything!”
“Hey, I like this song,” Rhonnie protested.
“Shit, did you even hear it?”
Rhonnie staggered to his feet. “Hear what?”
“The chorus, man!”
“Yeah, we heard singing,” Skyler told Rhonnie.
“Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” kept going. Its catchy hooks all the more agonizing. I felt my ears ring. Surprised blood didn’t flow from them...
“What the fuck…” Rhonnie smirked. “Singing?”
Frustrated, J kicked the thirty-pack. “Yeah, asshole!”
Using the can, Rhonnie waved toward all those Busch Lights. “Hey, chill out, man!”
“Oh really? We didn’t drive out to the middle of fucking Georgia to watch you drink shitty beer!” J pointed at the cameras. “We got a show to film, bro! We need ghosts, not Goddamn Paula Cole and whatever other bullshit nineties pop music you’re playing!”
Skyler grabbed J’s arm. “Dude, it’s not that serious-”
J yanked his arm away. “No, we didn’t come out here to watch Rhonnie drink thirty beers!”
“I only drank twenty!” Rhonnie yelled.
“Whatever!” J put down his beer and grabbed the remote.
“Hey, what the fuck!” Rhonnie said.
Without hesitation, J muted the flatscreen. The 90s cheese. “You’re scaring the viewers with this shit!” He flashed a glare at Rhonnie. “And with those fucking perv glasses!”
In a drunken stumble, Rhonnie pointed at the music video. “That song was cool, man.”
“I kinda like it too,” Skyler agreed.
Amidst the arguing, my gaze drifted toward the wall. The blank space now filled by a brass picture frame. A gorgeous photograph hanging on the wall. One in all its black-and-white glory.
Instantly, I recognized most of the smiling faces inside. The man of the hour as well: David Romero. The handsome preacher surrounded by men and women. Excited followers both black and white. Everyone dressed nice and looking so attractive in a room not unlike the one we were in now… The same wooden chair lurked in the corner. The party not much different than ours. Call me crazy but the 1930s never looked so modern… So fresh.
“No wonder you called us out here!” I heard J tell Rhonnie.
Turning, I saw the three drunks before me. Well, Rhonnie and J were hammered at least. Skyler an unfortunately-only-tipsy casualty in their battle. Skyler struggling to get between them.
“Guys, just fucking chill!” Skyler said.
“You’re a brokeass writer, Rhonnie!” J hurled at our beloved writer. He waved at the thirty-pack. “No wonder you drink this shit beer and stay up all night! You got nothing else to do!”
“Hey, I was writing earlier!” Rhonnie said. He pointed toward his off-brand laptop on the sofa. “The beer helps me focus!”
J got in Rhonnie’s face. “We gotta show ghosts for the audience, man! That’s what we agreed to! The Goddamn writing can wait.”
“Okay, man-”
J motioned toward Rhonnie’s boxers. “And put on some damn pants at least!”
“Guys!” I interrupted.
The three of them looked toward me.
Holding their attention and the camera’s unwavering eye, I pointed toward the photograph. “This wasn’t here before!”
“Holy shit!” J yelled.
They all rushed up to me. Their fear obvious… and their intrigue.
Even in the warm room, I caught a chill. Especially considering how David stared right at me. His smile stabbing my soul.
“Shit…” J muttered. “They were probably the ones we heard singing.”
I watched Rhonnie take a nervous sip. His discomfort matched only by terror and Busch Light.
“This picture must’ve been here at some point,” Skyler said. He faced us. “They probably took it when the church was here.”
“The room even looks the same,” I commented.
Blaring static almost made me shit my pants. The fucking turbulence was torturous.
“What the fuck!” J cried.
We looked over at the flatscreen. Scrambled snow dominated the screen.
“I thought you muted it?” Skyler asked J.
Flustered, J pointed the remote at the T.V. “I did!”
I looked over at Rhonnie. He just took another casual sip of booze. Nowhere near as frightened as we were. Then again, the guy was fucking drunk… even drunker than us.
Like a pissed-off gamer, J mashed the remote’s buttons in a frenzy. But the screen stayed the same. Still on the static. The snow. “What the fuck!” J yelled.
The chorus came roaring back. Their pretty voices were weapons sending shivers down our spines. The call of Christian sirens. Of deranged beauty.
Grainy black-and-white footage now played on the flatscreen. No info was given. But none needed. Not when I recognized Reverend Romero standing in the center of a gorgeous crowd. All of them sang an eloquent hymn together… Right here in the living room or what was close enough to it. Their eyes and smiles stayed focused on us.
“Jesus Christ…” Skyler said.
“Fuck this!” J cried.
I looked back-and-forth between the photo and video. They were the same scene. The same group in a room similar to where the four of us stood now. Only in 2020, David and his followers were somehow still in action. Their movement in rhythm as one eerie being. “Holy shit!” I exclaimed.
Terrified, J pressed the remote’s many buttons. “It won’t change!”
The singing grew more manic. Louder than what we heard upstairs. At this point, I felt the windows rattle. Felt my mind on the verge of a brutal breakdown. The hymn’s soothing lyrics took on a darker meaning in this tone... A threat rather than inspiration.
Grabbing my ears, I confronted the flatscreen. At the choir’s glares focused on us. None of them blinked. Their cold glares were relentless. David leading the onslaught…
“Turn that shit off!” Skyler yelled at J.
J kept hitting the power button. Any fucking button… a futile effort all around. “I can’t!” he yelled.
I saw Rhonnie leaning against the wall. Right next to the framed photo. His eyes fluttering in and out of consciousness. Either in meditation or pain… I couldn’t tell. He just kept hanging on to that beer.
The singing continued. Too raw to be pretty. The voices hitting deep, dark levels rather than Angelic euphoria. There was energy and enthusiasm... but at a frantic pace. A deranged tempo. An army instead of chorus.
Desperate, Skyler reached toward J. “Let me try!”
Clinging to the remote, J stumbled away. “No, hold on!”
Then the T.V. cut off. The screen hit pitch black. The room in pitch silence. Ourselves just flat out fucking scared.
“Oh shit!” I cried.
Tanner then emerged from the downstairs hallway. His bathrobe literally dragging in. The man was half-asleep. Veering toward a hangover…
We all looked on, stunned. Even Rhonnie fell away from the wall.
In the tense silence, Tanner stopped by the chair. He flashed us a buzzed smile. “I was just getting another beer.” He motioned toward the kitchen. “Y’all want one?”
[14](https://www.reddit.com/rhonnie14FanPage/)
submitted by the14thaccount to JustNotRight [link] [comments]


2020.04.29 01:28 the14thaccount Camera sex on surveillance caught

WeWatchedAMovie had modest beginnings but only got bigger. We were just two guys making a YouTube channel… one about horror movies. That was our plot. Again, nothing special or different than the hundreds of other channels… Except for one thing: me and J got drunk. Both of us watched the movies and reviewed them. That was our niche. And Goddamn, we were born for it.
Born and raised in small town Kentucky, we’d been doing this channel for well over ten years now. Through this time, the horror genre had changed. YouTube blew up. Our channel hit a hundred thousand subscribers… But J and I never changed. We’d been bros since high school and only grew closer through our YouTube “careers.”
Now in our early 30s, J and I considered branching out. Not leaving YouTube or WeWatchedAMovie behind. Just a way to broaden our shared horror passion. I was married with two young daughters, J was divorced and constantly broke. But new content equaled more cash. So fuck it, we decided to do a spin-off.
And why not? We made a nice team. I was a goofball with an athletic frame minus the beer belly. J the shorter, smartass sidekick. Our comedy meshed as did our review styles. Beyond the YouTube hijinks, I wanted to be a writer. And with that, I looked for the artistic merits to horror cinema. Even the shittier movies. J, on the other hand, stayed a fucking cynic. The guy more relentless than a movie snob on steroids.
So here we were in January. Mike and J down and out and pondering ideas. The two of us were the lone producers so we had to figure out the ultimate question: What else could we do with horror and booze? Inspired by a couple of twelve-packs and binging Ghost Adventures over the weekend, the idea hit us both at the same time: Drunk Hauntings. Yeah, that’s right. J and I were gonna take our traveling band throughout the country. On a tour of terror. Booze, ghosts. All of it on a livestream! And best of all by spending the night at haunted houses, we wouldn’t even have to spend anything on hotel fare.
This lightning bolt idea energized us. Within a few days, we told our Patreon members the plan. Only we had someone particular in mind for our premiere episode. A NoSleep writer who sometimes lurked in our comments. The long-distance bromance we shared with rhonnie14 hit its culmination.
Yeah, we obviously didn’t “know” the guy in person. Rhonnie was a horror writer out in Georgia. A damn good one but also a total weirdo… not that J and I had room to talk. From his deep voice on the phone to his quirky mannerisms and dark emo swoop, Rhonnie always imbued horror charisma. He got the genre. Lived and breathed it like us… Not to mention was a bit of a drunk like we were. So naturally, we got along. At least through technology. Plus, I knew Rhonnie with the silent h would be an obvious draw for the first episode. Both for his fans and ours.
Soon, I called Rhonnie and asked him if he had any locations we could check out. Any haunted hotspots. To our luck, Rhonnie’s friend Tanner owned a supposedly-haunted house down in Albany, Georgia. One on a road that had four churches. And in the middle of fucking nowhere. The Hardup Drive Haunt it was called… And from the brief research J and me did, we vouched the location enough. Tanner gave Rhonnie permission and then we were off and running.
In J’s SUV, we made the Southern fried drive. Just two dudes, a shit-ton of beer, and all our own equipment. Even more interesting was that Rhonnie told us this Tanner guy wanted to stay with us during the weekend filming. His family owned the house but no one ever stayed there… So powerful was the creep factor. But Tanner’s curiosity won out... apparently, he was yet another drunk we could use for our show.
Rhonnie also informed us his buddy Skyler would be staying there. Skyler was an indie filmmaker so passionate he was flying down from Kansas City, Missouri. So now we had a bachelor-party/reality-show-crew combo rocking for this fateful weekend in January. This shit was getting real… I just hoped these motherfuckers knew J and I couldn’t pay much.
Regardless of the history, Albany was one ugly city. A smorgasbord of poverty, urban decay, and towering old houses. The town’s weather about as cold as its corrupt soul.
Even with the address, J and I still got fucking lost… Rhonnie and his crew had to meet us at a Walmart before leading us beyond the city limits. I’m talking we followed his Camry out to the fucking boonies, man. Where the four churches and a haunted house awaited us.
I slouched back in the passenger’s seat, J behind the wheel. Our traveler’s cups chocked full of booze. Led Zeppelin II at a manageable volume on the radio. Our warm-up music.
Struggling to stay warm, I looked on at the rural isolation. At the farmland and endless forest.
“So are you sure this is a haunted house?” J quipped. His bright eyes faced me. A mischievous smile on his round face. Our facial hair struggling to grow but beyond disarray at this point. “You sure Rhonnie ain’t taking us to like the fucking Sawyer family or something?”
I cracked up. “Naw, that was Texas not Georgia.”
“You know Deliverance was filmed in Georgia…”
I gave J a light shove. “Shut the fuck up, man!”
Grabbing his beer, J chuckled. “Hey, come on! I mean look at this place!”
I ran a hand through my spiked hair. J had a point. Aside from the sprawling woods, I’d only seen the occasional trailer or shack. None of them inhabitable.
“Aw, look at this shit!” I heard J say.
“What?” I asked. I looked on to see the silver Camry turning on to a side road. A fucking dirt road at that… Its tombstone of a green sign read: Hardup Drive.
We followed Rhonnie. Somehow, we entered more isolation. A countrified crypt. Towering trees blocked out most of the sunlight.
Feeling a little uneasy, I watched us pass cavernous ditches. At least my iPhone still had four bars. “You think the livestream will be okay?”
“Aw yeah, should be fine,” J answered. He pointed toward the back. Our stacks of equipment. “Rhonnie said the service out here’s perfect.”
“What, for real?”
“Crazy, I know.”
For a few moments, we saw nothing. No houses, damn sure no churches. Hell, I didn’t even see a critter in those woods.
Then my iPhone jolted to life. Rhonnie was calling.
“Who is it?” J said.
I answered the call through his stereo.
“You guys good?” Rhonnie’s voice asked. He already sounded excited. Already hitting that beer buzz, I figured. The cheap beer buzz.
I looked on at Hardup Drive. “Uh, yeah. Just how far away’s the house exactly?”
“We’re not too far.”
“Okay…” On the other end, J and I heard constant chatter. Tanner and Skyler’s voices.
“So there’s supposed to be seven churches,” Rhonnie said. “But I think there’s only four of them left.”
“Yeah, there is,” Tanner’s voice added. “There’s only four now.”
J grinned. “So what the Hell happened to the other three?”
“Long story-” Tanner started.
“We don’t know!” Rhonnie interrupted.
Then we finally saw life. Or what was more like death... A decrepit white church stood there on its last gasp. Its yard conquered by high grass... as was its crumbling cemetery. Amidst the windows and cobwebs was a stone cross. A memorial somehow surviving almost a century of neglect.
“Oh shit, is that the first one?” J asked.
“Yeah!” Rhonnie said.
We saw houses now. Nothing pretty or exotic. Small and average homes scattered about. Some cabins. Their properties large. And hey, there were people standing outside. Old fucking people. But shit, they at least smiled and waved at us!
“And here’s the second one,” Rhonnie said.
On our right was a tall brick church. There was no cemetery. No stairs leading up to its rottings porch and bright yellow door. Graffiti and cuss words ran along its walls like spray-painted scripture.
“Looks like ass,” J commented.
“It gets better!” We heard Tanner yell. I heard Skyler chuckle behind him.
We passed some abandoned trailers before coming upon the remnants of church number three. The entire roof was missing…. ripped off by the hands of God or the Devil himself. Nothing remained on top. Weirdly enough, everything else was fine. The church looked clean, the yard pristine. Its cemetery decorated by fresh flowers and spotless grave markers.
“Like check out this fucker!” Tanner’s voice said.
Amidst J’s drunken laughter, I looked on at Rhonnie’s Camry. Sure, we were encountering houses and buildings. Some signs of civilization. Still I couldn’t shake the dread. We were still out in the middle of nowhere... And closer and closer to that fateful house.
The area just got darker. I gazed off at the forest. An eerie canvas only interrupted by old fucking houses.
“So where’s the fourth one?” J asked Rhonnie.
“It’s hard to see,” Rhonnie replied.
And he was right. Buried in the back of the woods was an unsettling foundation. I strained to see through the trees and weeds. To see a porch left all alone. This church nothing more than a few wooden benches forever awaiting its next sermon.
I leaned in closer toward J. Both of us transfixed by the church’s nearby graveyard. The tombstones all covered in mold. Its small gate sinking straight into the ground. A slow descent to death... much like the rest of the church.
“Shit…” J commented.
“I told y’all!” Rhonnie said.
Like a guided tour, we continued following Rhonnie down Hardup Drive. A road tailor-made for horror movies... And us.
Soon, we passed one of the nicer homes. A large cabin. Flowers bloomed in the yard’s garden. Azalea bushes led up to a mailbox. Standing in the driveway, an elderly couple waved at us as we drove past. The woman had long flowing gray hair, the man’s smile so big and wide. Dressed in their Sunday best, they looked to be in good shape. Even if they were over eighty.
“Hey, Mrs. Bellinger!” I heard Tanner yell to them.
J looked toward the radio. Our call was now at the ten minute mark.
“So not to be a dick, but are we getting any closer?” J asked.
“Right here!!” Tanner said.
There it was on our left. The Hardup Drive Haunt in all its creepy glory. What we saw earlier was unsettling enough... But it had nothing on this. The Haunt was the real fucking deal.
Yeah, the house wasn’t a shitshow or dilapidated. Its two story structure stood strong and defiant. The wood sturdy. Its white paint somehow perfect. The lawn trim if barren. Dirt patches were everywhere… Possibly burial spots for all I knew.
Regardless of its attempt at normalcy, the house was still frightening. There were the crooked shutters. The lonely front porch. The rooster windvane on the roof no one wanted to claim. This was a farmhouse of the dead…
“Up ahead is Kirby’s,” Tanner told us. “We can get more beer and shit there later.”
Too scared to talk, J and I looked down the road. We saw the brick convenience store. Its appearance struggling to stave off starvation. Struggling to keep its pleasant aura of 1930s Americana. The gas pumps looked to be stolen from a museum. Its parking lot dirt and rubble rather than pavement. Kirby’s General Store read the store’s swinging hand-painted sign.
J stole another nervous sip from his cup. The buzz doing nothing for his fear.
“Definitely need more beer,” we heard Rhonnie say.
“I might get a souvenir,” Skyler’s wry voice noted.
J and I followed Rhonnie down the long dirt driveway. The house was in the very back. Far from Hardup Drive and right in front of the suffocating forest. An army of metal and wooden sheds lined up in the backyard. Homemade monuments somehow standing the test of time... Their doors all wide open.
The realization sunk into J and I. The rising dread. We’d come so far… and now we were face-to-face with the beast. Sure, horror movies were scary but they weren’t personal. They weren’t threatening. But now those goofy ghost and haunted house movies manifested right before us. They beckoned us… We were really gonna need to get shit-faced just to make it through one night much less the weekend.
The Haunt’s interior wasn’t any less spooky. The lighting was dim. The furniture stolen from a 1940s Gothic drama. Needless to say, its age showed. As did its proper style.
A cold draft permeated through each and every room. Here we were in the dead of winter and not even this huge house could give us an escape. The heater was an older model so unreliable, of course.
But there was some cool shit! Every room except the living room had portraits galore. Both framed paintings and black-and-white photographs from a bygone era. All of which, according to Tanner, featured people prominent in both Albany and Hardup Drive’s seven churches. Hell, it certainly showed in their suits and dresses. The clean haircuts, the groomed facial hair. And the perfect make-up. Their fashion no different than the Bellingers we saw earlier. To our surprise, the churches consisted of a very diverse crowd. Young, old. Black, white. All these people shared were the same lower middle class roots. The same devotion to Christ.
There was a prominent person in each and every photo: a tall, muscular man. He was handsome even in the pressed suits. Too sophisticated for bumfuck, Georgia. He was the centerpiece in all the pictures. Women and men admired him. They gravitated to this guy. J and I were thinking preacher… judging by this guy’s charismatic smile anyway. Even if the shaggy straight hair and beard didn’t quite fit the clean-cut stereotype you’d expect from the Bible Belt. This dude seemed to be a hippie reverend about half a century before such gurus became en vogue.
We should’ve been glad Tanner at least had a Smart TV. Otherwise, we’d have been stuck with a vinyl record player for entertainment. Or those transistor radios in the bedrooms.
That night, the five of us congregated in front of the living room’s flatscreen. Skyler sat beside J and I on the couch. Tanner in a recliner, Rhonnie on a wooden chair next to him. All three of them were attractive guys. Rhonnie the scrawniest, Tanner the tallest. Skyler the loudest. Tanner had a sensitive tough guy look going, Skyler the eccentric filmmaker to Rhonnie’s weirdo writer.
Together, we’d already set up cameras throughout the house. Including one by the T.V. We had total surveillance for this livestream.
Rhonnie and his buddies kept us entertained. Especially now that everybody was well past drunk. Everyone with a beer in his hand.
Skyler looked over at Rhonnie. “Ashley can’t make it this weekend?”
Rhonnie and Tanner exchanged amused looks. “Naw,” Rhonnie began. “She wanted to but like her friends came calling.” He took a long swig. “You know how that shit goes.”
“I feel you,” I said.
“What about you, Tanner?” Skyler asked.
Tanner just shrugged his shoulders. “Totally single.”
“Nice,” J commented. “Like me.”
“You’re divorced!” I quipped.
Laughing, J took another sip. “Well... yeah.”
“So Skyler and I are the only ones married,” I said.
“Pretty much,” Skyler said with a smile. “You couldn’t get your wife to come down either?”
“Hell no! She don’t like scary shit like me.” I grinned at J. “Like us, I should say.”
Taking the spotlight, J clapped his hands together. “So we got ourselves a regular sausage fest?”
“True,” Skyler chuckled.
“Five drunk white guys in a haunted house, what can go wrong?”
“So you think all those photos and shit connect to the other churches?” I asked Tanner.
“Oh yeah,” Tanner replied. “They were too close together, man. There’s definitely a connection.” He pointed toward the wall behind us. A blank tapestry. “Mom and dad said there used to be one picture there actually.”
J cracked a smile. “Shit, I believe it!”
Tanner ran a hand through his short hair. “They said one day it just vanished. No clue where the Hell it went.” He took a swig.
“That’s fucking weird,” I commented.
Flashing a smile, Rhonnie held his can of Busch Light toward me. Everyone else held Michelob Ultras. You know, normal beer. “Hey, I appreciate the beer, man!” he yelled.
“You told us two thirty packs,” J quipped. “Hell, as cheap as that shit was, that’s no problem.”
“That’s what I always tell him!” Tanner said.
Leaning in closer, Skyler pointed toward the camera by the flatscreen. “Maybe Busch Light can help us sponsor this!”
“Not a bad idea,” J quipped.
Rhonnie took another sip. “I like it.”
I motioned toward Tanner. “Well, listen, you sure your family’s cool-”
Grinning, Tanner waved me off. “Yeah, Hell yeah! They’re honored to have y’all check this place out!”
Amidst the many mics, the cameras caught my eye. On a lonely bookshelf was another one Skyler had placed. A full Panorama for what was sure to be our weirdest livestream.
“So what’s like the history to the Hardup Drive Haunt?” J asked.
“Aw, man,” Tanner said. He leaned back in his seat. His beer at the ready. “Apparently a lot.”
“I bet,” I commented.
“My parents didn’t wanna talk about it much,” Tanner continued. “They were pretty freaked out.”
“Like this whole town,” Rhonnie added.
“Exactly!” Tanner replied. “Anyway, we never even moved in. My dad just bought it for the deal, the location. This was back in the nineties, but he knew about the… scary shit. I don’t know. He was actually stupid enough to think he could sell the fucking place.”
J leaned in closer. “But what about the stories and legends or whatever.”
“My parents didn’t wanna know all that shit, man.”
“So you don’t know-”
Tanner held up his beer, stopping J. “Hey, I know some of the stories! I always loved horror and was curious, you know.” He flashed that handsome smile. “That’s the main reason I’m glad y’all are here. To really show me the history of the Haunt! What really went on out here.”
“Well, what do you know?” J asked.
“Just. Just the basics.” Tanner leaned back. “I know in the thirties, shit went down. Some crazy reverend and all the other wackos out here at these churches.” Getting into his tipsy zone, Tanner pointed toward the floor. “I think there was an old church here. They ended up tearing the place down, but this very fucking house got built right here! And it’s like… it’s like Poltergeist! You’re building on sacred ground, man! On haunted ground!”
Battling the fear, I held my hands out. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! You mean all these churches are all connected like that?”
“That’s the rumor at least.”
I waved around the living room. “And this house was built on top of a fucking haunted church!”
“Yeah, that’s wild,” J said.
“As far as I know,” Tanner replied. “All I know’s the preacher was fucking nuts.” He let out a quick laugh. “All the preachers out on Hardup Drive were for that matter.”
“That’s fucking wild, yo…” I said.
Like a drunk T.V. interviewer, J stumbled over both his words and mannerisms. “So was this like some kind of cult?”
“Hell, I don’t know, man,” Tanner replied. “I just know like the basics. There were seven churches, a couple of preachers. Everyone seemed to get along but were like weird and shit. Like they got along well, you got different races and shit… but they did different shit. Albany hated them.”
“Damn...” J commented.
“I guess in that sense they could be considered a cult. A bunch of outsiders. For what exactly, I’m not really sure...”
Skyler readjusted his glasses. “Yeah, I looked more into it actually.”
“Whoa!” Rhonnie joked in drunken fashion.
Grinning, Skyler held up his hands. “I know, I know.”
Both J and I now faced Skyler in anticipation. Out of morbid curiosity.
“What all did you find out?” Tanner asked.
“So the main preacher was Reverend David Romero,” Skyler said. “He was kind of a wacky dude.”
“The Charlie Manson looking guy,” J said.
“Yeah, but, uh, more attractive, more social. You know, he was charismatic and had his way with the women around here.” Skyler placed his nearly-full beer can on the floor before locking eyes with us. His captivated congregation. “What he was able to accomplish was pretty impressive actually.” Skyler waved toward a window. Toward Hardup Drive. “By connecting all seven of these churches, David brought the community together. The Methodists, the Baptists, everyone got along.”
Using his cheap can, Rhonnie pointed down the hall. The stairway. “So that’s why they were all diverse?”
“Yeah, he ignored racism and all that sort of shit. Romero let African-Americas, Hispanics join the churches. He gave women prominent roles. He was very progressive! And this is insane to think about in 1930s Georgia.”
“No shit…”
“And all these people came together, they prayed together.” Going into professor mode, Skyler moved his hands all about, his tone commanding. Channeling Rhonnie for that matter… “They were happy. Everyone got along.”
“So if everyone was in Shangri-La,” J started. “Then what the fuck happened? Why are there ghosts here?”
Skyler sat back in his seat. “Well… that’s the thing. David was too far ahead of his time.”
“So what happened?” Tanner asked.
Like an intimate storyteller, Skyler hesitated. Seizing the spotlight. Heightening the dramatic tension. Goddamn, he had me sold. “The free love became more...” Skyler said. “The church members all started having sex, honestly, doing more risque stuff.”
“Even inside the church?” J said. “Whoa, what the fuck!”
Skyler nodded. “Mmm-hmm. Even in the church. Even on Sunday morning.”
“And everybody liked it?”
“Right,” Skyler chuckled. “There was no rape or molesting or anything like that.”
“So then what was the problem?”
Smirking, Skyler pointed down the hall. All those pictures. “You saw the crowds. They were mixed. Interracial love was common at Romero’s churches. Which was against the law at that time.” Skyler cracked up. “Well, sex in church period was. But you get the point.”
“Yeah, I got you,” J replied.
I noticed Rhonnie and Tanner exchanging drunken smiles. They were killing us on the beers. Not an easy task with me and J in town.
“Well, hey, Skyler,” J said. “This shit… sounds like some kind of cult shit to be honest.”
“Yeah and that was how the town looked at it,” Skyler said.
I faced him. “So what happened to Reverend Romero?”
Skyler hesitated. Somewhere between amused and disturbed. “Well… there was more than just the interracial stuff that pissed the town off.”
“Like what?”
“Well, David was actually bisexual. Most of the men and women in these churches were.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw J’s jaw hit the floor.
“Holeee shit…” J said.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw both Rhonnie and Tanner grin at one another. A warm smile amidst Skyler’s strange story.
“So yeah,” Skyler went on. “Obviously back then, a town like this that’s more prejudiced, that shit caused an uproar. The governor got involved. It was a complete fucking shitshow.”
I sifted in my seat. “Well, shit, did they arrest them?”
“No, they were gonna to but David had other plans.” For dramatic effect, Skyler grabbed his can. “No one knows for sure where the whole church went, but wherever it was they held a mass suicide.
“Jesus fucking Christ…” J exclaimed.
“It was about fifty people,” Skyler said.
Feeling uneasy, I looked toward Rhonnie and Tanner. Now they both stared right at me. Sure, they were drunk. Not to mention weird... But they were fucking staring me down hard. Their gazes chilling and precise.
“I never found out if it was poison or stabbings or what,” Skyler said.
Everyone’s eyes now stayed on him. Horror geeks glued to a human T.V. set. This most unusual horror host.
“But the whole town covered it up,” Skyler went on. “The whole state, so there’s not much info out there. Hell…” He raised the can before deliberating. Skyler confronted our fascinated faces. “They’re not even sure if they found all the bodies.”
Hours later, we found ourselves at Kirby’s. Needless to say, no cars were in the parking lot. Hell, we walked here ourselves. Just a drunken nighttime stroll.
The place looked even older closer up. The 1940s Norman Rockwell aesthetic far from a kitschy decision. Not considering the cobwebs and flickering lights at least. In between the beer were shelves of comic books and newspapers. Southern slang and sayings were displayed on various signs. Caricatures of smiling kids both black and white surrounded us. As did quite a few crucifixes... some with and without Jesus on them.
A dirty coffee maker looked to be the elderly cashier’s life support. Like those old photographs, she was dressed well in a regal white blouse. Her oversized glasses and gray hair unable to ruin that inherent beauty. She moved about the store, stocking the shelves. All to the beat of Buddy Holly & The Crickets’ “Rave On” playing off her transistor radio.
We were on our best behavior. As much as possible given everyone except Skyler was a six pack in. Okay, maybe eight beers apiece...
In drunken jovial spirits, we staggered around. Gathered up the cookies and thirty packs.
Calm, the cashier approached us. “Hey, if you boys don’t mind, go ahead and get what you need,” she said in an elegant Southern accent. She pointed toward the bland store hours sign: 9-9 read its Friday slot. All in a pretty scribbled font. “We’re about to close.”
J stared at her in disbelief. “Y’all close at nine?”
“Yes sir.”
“But on a Friday!” Grinning, he faced the rest of us. “Really…”
“Albany, bro,” Tanner quipped.
We gathered our beer and snacks and headed on back to the Haunt. Nothing too out of the ordinary happened… other than ordinary All-American partying. With no close neighbors, we could blast YouTube all night. Get absolutely shit-faced. All while those many cameras filmed us… while our WeWatchedAMovie faithful indulged in our obvious intoxication.
Around midnight, J and I retreated to our upstairs bedroom. Right across the hall from Skyler. We had enough reserves up here to embarrass a bar. Not to mention enough oldass furniture to open an antique shop. But we needed a private meeting… A business meeting. To my relief, J wasn’t being a little bitch. Our anti-Paranormal Activity wasn’t necessarily bad. Yeah, we had no ghost sightings or paranormal phenomena… not yet at least. But our banter with the boys was entertaining. No different than our actual show... And the livestream’s comments further proved this.
After the pep talk, we went into the hallway. At the same time as Skyler.
Feeling his buzz, Skyler flashed a smile. If only J and I could still get that shit-faced off five beers. “What’s up, guys?” Skyler said.
“You doing good?” J chuckled.
“Oh yeah. Ready for the ghosts.”
“Reverend Romero?” I remarked.
Before Skyler could answer, singing distracted us. A loud choir… The hymn’s harmonies so haunting.
“Yo, what the fuck’s that!” J yelled.
The three of us looked downstairs.
The singing continued. Low, steady, and distorted... as if it were being played off a phonograph. Never once did the voices get louder. Nor did it ever hit a powerful crescendo. But the chorus stayed eerie… and echoed all through the house.
J pointed me toward a counter. Our reflections greeted us in a mirror. A camera stared at us beside a few dusty books.
Getting back in host mode, I took control of the scene. The spotlight. “Here we are on Drunk Hauntings!” I said to the camera. “Our first fucking night here, and we’re already hearing creepy shit at The Hardup Drive Haunt!”
J pointed downstairs. “Yeah, listen to this shit!”
Nervous, Skyler faced us. “Is it really-”
J shushed him on the spot.
Still facing the camera, I continued on with our livestream. Still clinging to my beer. And our madness. “We’re now hearing singing. What sounds like a really creepy church choir.”
“It does!” Skyler added. “They used to sing here all the time! David and his church!”
A sudden crash shot through the night. Everyone jumped back.
But the chorus continued. More voices now joined in. The hymn got louder. Passionate. Fiery.
Panicking, Skyler rushed for the stairs. “Come on! Let’s find them!”
“Yo, wait!” J hollered.
We followed Skyler downstairs. Followed the weird singing.
“Who is that!” I yelled.
“I don’t know!” Skyler said.
The conglomeration of voices stayed loud. But we saw no one. No choir. Not even Reverend Romero.
And once we hit the living room, the chorus was replaced by cheesy pop music. Gone was the chills. In came the cringe.
Wearing only boxers and a Kings Of Leon tee, Rhonnie lied sprawled out on the couch. A half-empty thirty pack at his feet, a half-empty Busch Light can in his hand. The Jeffrey Dahmer glasses on his face. He looked dazed and confused... somehow still awake.
The flatscreen played YouTube. Paula Cole’s “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”. Yeah… we were all kinda confused.
Still recovering from the scare, I walked behind the couch. Trying to hear the hymn, a voice. Anything… but I got nothing. Only my lingering adrenaline.
“What the fuck is this!” J yelled.
Groggy, Rhonnie leaned up. “Hey. Y’all are back!” Chuckling, he raised his can.
J took an angry step toward him. “What the Hell are you doing, man!”
“What?”
J motioned toward the flatscreen. “You’re playing this shit and missing everything!”
“Hey, I like this song,” Rhonnie protested.
“Shit, did you even hear it?”
Rhonnie staggered to his feet. “Hear what?”
“The chorus, man!”
“Yeah, we heard singing,” Skyler told Rhonnie.
“Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” kept going. Its catchy hooks all the more agonizing. I felt my ears ring. Surprised blood didn’t flow from them...
“What the fuck…” Rhonnie smirked. “Singing?”
Frustrated, J kicked the thirty-pack. “Yeah, asshole!”
Using the can, Rhonnie waved toward all those Busch Lights. “Hey, chill out, man!”
“Oh really? We didn’t drive out to the middle of fucking Georgia to watch you drink shitty beer!” J pointed at the cameras. “We got a show to film, bro! We need ghosts, not Goddamn Paula Cole and whatever other bullshit nineties pop music you’re playing!”
Skyler grabbed J’s arm. “Dude, it’s not that serious-”
J yanked his arm away. “No, we didn’t come out here to watch Rhonnie drink thirty beers!”
“I only drank twenty!” Rhonnie yelled.
“Whatever!” J put down his beer and grabbed the remote.
“Hey, what the fuck!” Rhonnie said.
Without hesitation, J muted the flatscreen. The 90s cheese. “You’re scaring the viewers with this shit!” He flashed a glare at Rhonnie. “And with those fucking perv glasses!”
In a drunken stumble, Rhonnie pointed at the music video. “That song was cool, man.”
“I kinda like it too,” Skyler agreed.
Amidst the arguing, my gaze drifted toward the wall. The blank space now filled by a brass picture frame. A gorgeous photograph hanging on the wall. One in all its black-and-white glory.
Instantly, I recognized most of the smiling faces inside. The man of the hour as well: David Romero. The handsome preacher surrounded by men and women. Excited followers both black and white. Everyone dressed nice and looking so attractive in a room not unlike the one we were in now… The same wooden chair lurked in the corner. The party not much different than ours. Call me crazy but the 1930s never looked so modern… So fresh.
“No wonder you called us out here!” I heard J tell Rhonnie.
Turning, I saw the three drunks before me. Well, Rhonnie and J were hammered at least. Skyler an unfortunately-only-tipsy casualty in their battle. Skyler struggling to get between them.
“Guys, just fucking chill!” Skyler said.
“You’re a brokeass writer, Rhonnie!” J hurled at our beloved writer. He waved at the thirty-pack. “No wonder you drink this shit beer and stay up all night! You got nothing else to do!”
“Hey, I was writing earlier!” Rhonnie said. He pointed toward his off-brand laptop on the sofa. “The beer helps me focus!”
J got in Rhonnie’s face. “We gotta show ghosts for the audience, man! That’s what we agreed to! The Goddamn writing can wait.”
“Okay, man-”
J motioned toward Rhonnie’s boxers. “And put on some damn pants at least!”
“Guys!” I interrupted.
The three of them looked toward me.
Holding their attention and the camera’s unwavering eye, I pointed toward the photograph. “This wasn’t here before!”
“Holy shit!” J yelled.
They all rushed up to me. Their fear obvious… and their intrigue.
Even in the warm room, I caught a chill. Especially considering how David stared right at me. His smile stabbing my soul.
“Shit…” J muttered. “They were probably the ones we heard singing.”
I watched Rhonnie take a nervous sip. His discomfort matched only by terror and Busch Light.
“This picture must’ve been here at some point,” Skyler said. He faced us. “They probably took it when the church was here.”
“The room even looks the same,” I commented.
Blaring static almost made me shit my pants. The fucking turbulence was torturous.
“What the fuck!” J cried.
We looked over at the flatscreen. Scrambled snow dominated the screen.
“I thought you muted it?” Skyler asked J.
Flustered, J pointed the remote at the T.V. “I did!”
I looked over at Rhonnie. He just took another casual sip of booze. Nowhere near as frightened as we were. Then again, the guy was fucking drunk… even drunker than us.
Like a pissed-off gamer, J mashed the remote’s buttons in a frenzy. But the screen stayed the same. Still on the static. The snow. “What the fuck!” J yelled.
The chorus came roaring back. Their pretty voices were weapons sending shivers down our spines. The call of Christian sirens. Of deranged beauty.
Grainy black-and-white footage now played on the flatscreen. No info was given. But none needed. Not when I recognized Reverend Romero standing in the center of a gorgeous crowd. All of them sang an eloquent hymn together… Right here in the living room or what was close enough to it. Their eyes and smiles stayed focused on us.
“Jesus Christ…” Skyler said.
“Fuck this!” J cried.
I looked back-and-forth between the photo and video. They were the same scene. The same group in a room similar to where the four of us stood now. Only in 2020, David and his followers were somehow still in action. Their movement in rhythm as one eerie being. “Holy shit!” I exclaimed.
Terrified, J pressed the remote’s many buttons. “It won’t change!”
The singing grew more manic. Louder than what we heard upstairs. At this point, I felt the windows rattle. Felt my mind on the verge of a brutal breakdown. The hymn’s soothing lyrics took on a darker meaning in this tone... A threat rather than inspiration.
Grabbing my ears, I confronted the flatscreen. At the choir’s glares focused on us. None of them blinked. Their cold glares were relentless. David leading the onslaught…
“Turn that shit off!” Skyler yelled at J.
J kept hitting the power button. Any fucking button… a futile effort all around. “I can’t!” he yelled.
I saw Rhonnie leaning against the wall. Right next to the framed photo. His eyes fluttering in and out of consciousness. Either in meditation or pain… I couldn’t tell. He just kept hanging on to that beer.
The singing continued. Too raw to be pretty. The voices hitting deep, dark levels rather than Angelic euphoria. There was energy and enthusiasm... but at a frantic pace. A deranged tempo. An army instead of chorus.
Desperate, Skyler reached toward J. “Let me try!”
Clinging to the remote, J stumbled away. “No, hold on!”
Then the T.V. cut off. The screen hit pitch black. The room in pitch silence. Ourselves just flat out fucking scared.
“Oh shit!” I cried.
Tanner then emerged from the downstairs hallway. His bathrobe literally dragging in. The man was half-asleep. Veering toward a hangover…
We all looked on, stunned. Even Rhonnie fell away from the wall.
In the tense silence, Tanner stopped by the chair. He flashed us a buzzed smile. “I was just getting another beer.” He motioned toward the kitchen. “Y’all want one?”
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