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In Boozo Veritas #66 by Jenn Benner

Adventures in Halloweening: An Afterword in the Style of Bierce

To the loyal and dedicated readers of In Boozo Veritas, I have co-opted Teege’s blog this week in order to plead for your assistance. No one has seen or heard from Teege since Halloween, and I am asking you to please come forward with any information about his whereabouts to which you may be privy. I’m not sure if he ran away and is in hiding, was kidnapped, or has simply vanished into thin air. I believe that he is alive because he has posted on social media, albeit only sparingly and without giving any clues to his location. The idea that he was tortured into giving up his Facebook and Instagram passwords before being brutally murdered has, of course, crossed my mind, but is simply to grizzly a notion for me to entertain.

When I describe our evening, I think you will understand just how bizarre the situation truly is. Halloween began normally enough. We were both excited as it is our favorite holiday. While I was teaching, Teege had planned on doing last minute costume shopping. He arrived at my school mid-afternoon to eat lunch and made a strange comment.

“That zombie Nat seems to be lurking around every Halloween store I go in,” he told me. I was confused because his best friend from college is named Nat, but lives in Seattle.

“Nat is in Orlando?” I asked.

“Apparently so,” he answered.

“Did you know he was coming? Did he fly all way from Seattle this morning? Why was he dressed like a zombie? Is he going to hang out with us tonight?” I found it surprising that this would be the first time Teege would mention Nat’s visit.

“What are you talking about? Not Nat Evans. Nat Orel,” came the cryptic answer.

Before I could ask who Nat Orel is, some children noticed the giant plastic meat cleaver Teege was holding and the necklace of human ears he was wearing, and the attention was redirected.

After school we came home to put on our costumes and get ready to go out for the night.

Teege butcher knifeTeege dressed up like an evil Leprechaun and I went as Leprechaun meat, my guts spilling out of my shirt. Around 9:30 we met friends at Redlight Redlight and ordered pizza from O’Stromboli. Drinking a glass of stout in order to stay in character, Teege was laughing and happy, in his element, but he was also a little distracted and kept looking around as if searching for someone. After a couple of hours we left Redlight Redlight to see the midnight showing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the Enzian.

We pulled into the already packed parking lot, and as we slowly drove by the costumed revelers overflowing out of Eden Bar, Teege shouted, “He’s here! The bastard found me!”

“Who’s here?” I asked thinking he was pulling some prank or playing a silly game.

“When we walk through Eden Bar look for a guy wearing a black trench coat and a big, droopy hat.”

He took my hand as we made our way through the dense crowd, but I didn’t see the man Teege had described. We found our friends Jared and Lesley, joined them at a table, and the conversation turned to other topics: Halloweens past, the Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Fair next weekend, and my upcoming interview of Jeff VanderMeer, the author of the best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy who will be reading at Functionally Literate on the fifteenth of this month. It wasn’t until after our beers and popcorn had arrived that Teege mentioned the strange man one last time.

“Have you seen a guy with a black trench coat and a big hat in zombie makeup in here?” he asked Jared and Lesley as if making casual conversation. We all glanced around the theater, but no one in the audience was wearing that specific costume or resembled the person Teege had been seeking.

By that time Leather Face had begun to chase a member of the Enzian’s staff around the auditorium with a chainsaw. They disappeared through a side door, the lights dimmed, and the movie began. All the spectacular, grainy horror of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was even more disturbing and wonderful on the big screen.

TCM LeatherfaceAs a couple, it has long been a favorite of ours, and early in our relationship we bonded over a mutual love of the film. Plus, it was the first time either of us had watched it since Marilyn Burns’s passing a few months ago, which brought an extra emotional layer to the final image of Sally drenched in blood, riding off into the sunrise.

Marilyn BurnsThe audience gave the movie a standing ovation and was bursting with enthusiasm despite the late hour after it ended. While exiting the theater and chatting about our favorite moments, Teege slipped off to use the restroom. Jared, Lesley, and I stood around in the lobby talking when I began to realize just how long Teege had been gone. Reluctantly, Jared agreed to check on him. He returned moments later shaking his head.

“He’s not in there” he said simply.

As there is no exit from the Enzian’s men’s room to the outside except through the lobby, this was a remarkably unsettling situation. We had all seen him go in the restroom, but no had seen him come out. Others came and went, but not Teege. There was nowhere else he could be, and yet he was not there.

A thorough search of the In Boozo Veritas offices revealed heaps of empty liquor bottles and an unfinished manuscript that read, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” written over and over again, but nothing unusual. I asked John King if he’s knows anything, and he said that Teege has not written or reached out to him in any way, but added that if Teege fails to meet his contractual obligation and submit an In Boozo Veritas entry this week, he has to give back the $50,000 advance John pays him on a quarterly basis, so I have used this cry for help by way of taking on the burden in Teege’s absence.

It is possible that he will show up on our doorstep this very night, drunken and incoherent as usual. On the other hand, I may receive a ransom letter from any of the nefarious characters with whom Teege is involved. Perhaps his skeletal remains will be uncovered six months from now under the tiles of the Enzian’s men’s room when plumbing issues require that the floor be replaced. Disturbing as this proposition is, considering the inexplicable nature of his disappearance, it is not my worst fear. I worry that the truth may be even darker, that Teege has somehow entered our very atmosphere, slipped into a fourth dimensional plain of existence, riding the tremor of terror, the ghost of our favorite holiday that lurks between the bumps in the night, he’ll reemerge hungry and vengeful in October of next year, eager to loose the spirit of Samhain on us all, whether we will it or no, a night of inexpressible horror to last throughout the eons, a Halloween without end.

_______

GutsJenn Benner knows well that narrow path of existence between ecstasy and terror. She is a horror aficionado, which may explain why she chooses to spend her time with Teege Braune.

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