The Summer of EAST TEXAS

a Dark PhonePhreaking Novella True Story published on the 2nd of August 2014

PART 1: EARL WAYNE ROGERS

In the summer of 2014 I took some time away from the office and flew off to Texas to spend a few weeks getting to know our final Prank Call Victim, the East Texas Hillbilly AKA Earl Wayne Rogers, in Mount Pleasant.

I took a backpack full of my best improvised explosive devices, booby traps, telephone equipment and I made sure to pack my machete, just in case I ran into any Mexicans or Hippies while I was staying in Texas. And of course I wore the Toy Chest Bunny Suit.

He was quite angry when he discovered me standing on his doorstep but he was far too drunk to put up any sort of resistance and I forced my way into his house quite easily, utilizing my machete to break through his cheap plywood door.

Once I was inside his house he spent some time frantically searching for a firearm that had bullets left in it, his habit of firing his guns whilst drunk left him with a severely depleted munitions cache, and he ran from room to room like a headless chicken desperately hoping to find himself a working weapon.

“What’s wrong, Earl?” I asked him, “I just came here to share a bottle and shoot the shit, why are you so mad at me?”

“OH YEAH…!” he screamed from another room, “I *REALLY* WANT TO SHOOT THE SHIT WITH *YOU*!”

I pulled a bottle of Chartreuse from my backpack and set it down on the table in his living room. I loosened the cap a little and let the thick medicinal aroma of the liquor begin to fill up his house, combating the stench of rotting squirrel carcasses and gunpowder every inch of the way.

It wasn’t long before Earl and I were sitting on his back porch enjoying the cool summer breeze and dreaming up new games to play on the locals of Mount Pleasant. All it took was a little alcohol.

 

“Remember your neighbour lady?” I asked, gazing at the impressive looking house in the distance far away from Earls fortified shack, “you called her ‘The Bitch Nextdoor’, right?”

“Yeah uh-huh two-two” he replied, quoting the Cock Inspector Soundboard,

“I was thinking we could pay her a visit… what do you say, Earl?”

                   ♦ 

It was dusk by the time we made our way up to the house of The Bitch Nextdoor, which was convenient for us, as the sight of a man in a Bunny Suit and Earl Wayne with a chainsaw and hunting rifle might have caused her to call the police. We crept up to the back door of the house and froze as we heard the sound of a ringing telephone. I struggled with the enormous head of the Bunny Suit costume as I tried to adjust it to be able to hear what was going on in the house a little better. Earl seemed to know exactly what was happening and I watched him peek in through the window like a natural born sexual predator.

               

The sound of stilettos grew closer and the phone rang again.

“Hello?”

She sounded like a real Southern Belle.

“No this ain’t the Lumpkin residence” she snarled, her voice had gone from cute to cunt in less than 2.2 seconds, “You’ve got the wrong fucking number and don’t call here again” she continued “and I’m gonna call the sheriffs department if you keep calling me like this, this ain’t Josh’s house and you fucking know it, punk!”

The phone was slammed down.

I couldn’t believe it. Had we just witnessed a prank call? A list of youtube usernames went through my head as I wondered, in the moment, who I might have possibly given the number of The Bitch Nextdoor to who’d be calling her. And which soundboard had been used?  Was it a soundboard? Was it a TTS call? IP Relay? I’d probably never know but… it must be Homer Scott.

The sound of stilettos faded into the distance.

I noticed some movement from the corner of eye, “Earl! What are you doing?!”I hissed, watching him trying the handle on the back door.

He thrust his crotch back and forth in a fucking motion.

“No no no,” I said, and sighed. “We aren’t here to rape her,” I explained to him as if talking to a child, “I don’t think you understand how this game is played.”

I noticed a rusty beige telephone company box underneath the window to her kitchen where Earl had been peeking, and I crawled over towards it, hoping that she wouldn’t glance over and notice the ears of the Bunny Suit costume as I did so.

My backpack was full of handy telephone hacking equipment. I opened up the box and plugged my makeshift linesmans handset into her phone line, making sure to mute the handset to get rid of the awful static that the handset always produced.

Earl was watching me work with a look of total admiration.

I pulled out my iPhone and opened up the Skype app, “let’s see…” I scrolled through the contacts looking for the obscure name of what ever I had saved The Bitch Nextdoors number as.

“Here we go…”

I connected Mount Pleasant Police with The Bitch Nextdoor and heard the phone ring from behind the window almost immediately.

The sound of stilettos returned.

“Mount Pleasant Police Department”

The cops had picked up before she had.

“Crap, crap, crap!” If they heard the phone ringing before she picked up on her line they’d just hang up and not answer again. I’d run into this situation hundreds of times before. Nothing could be done except to wish for some good luck and-

“I thought I told you motherfuckers not to call me again or I’d call the sheriff on you,” came the voice of the cunt in unison from behind the window and through the skype, “you better not call back!”

“Ma’am this *is* the Sheriffs Department, what’s going on?” the Deputy asked, clearly irritated at being called a motherfucker.

“Oh it’s those internet pranksters again,” she explained in an apologetic tone, “they’ve conferenced us together and they’ve been calling here all night asking me about my neighbour Josh Lumpkin,”

“Yeah, it showed up as a skype number when they called here…”

“Well it showed up on my caller ID as a Life Alert number this time, but before that it was ‘World Wide Pranks’. I tell you-“ her voice grew closer and she seemed to be standing at the window, glaring at Earls house in the distance, ”I know that Lumpkin fella’ has something to do with all of this. I’ve got a good mind to go over there and kick that sorry-son-bitch where the sun don’t shine.”

“Ma’am… please don’t,” the Deputy sounded exasperated, “hold on Ma’am, I’m going to connect you with the Lieutenant.”

“Alright.”

I hung up on the Deputy and unmuted the handset that was plugged into her phone line.

“Yes Ma’am this is Lieutenant Barber, what’s been going on there tonight? Have they been bothering ye’ again?”

My southern accent was the best. I hoped to be able to say Six Shooter at least once during this conversation.

“Well they called me one time then they called back and connected me with you…” she said, “they was asking me about Josh Lumpkin who lives right across the pasture here and they was asking me if I was at a Gay Bar. It sounded like a Yankee man to me. I tell you what, like I said to the Deputy just now, I’ve got half a mind to go over and kick Josh in his sorry-asshole. Pardon my language.”

“Well Ma’am our records here indicate that the calls have originated from the Lumpkin residence but there’s really nothing we can do about it. Can ye’ think of a reason why Mister Lumpkin there might have a bone to pick with ye’?”

“I knew it!” she exclaimed, “I damn fuckin’ knew he was the one doing this. I didn’t never believe that it was people in Denmark and Engerland on the internet doing this to folks at random, that never did make no sense to me.”

“Hold on Ma’am, just answer my question. Before ye’ go a’leaping to conclusions here, why in the world would Mister Lumpkin risk getting arrested by calling the Sheriffs Department to harass you? Frankly that don’t make a lick of sense to me neither. What exactly happened between the pair of ye’?”

“Well his dog keeps coming on my property and one time I told him to keep it on a leash or I’d have to shoot it because it was bothering my cows.”

“I see.”

“I mean, the dog’s only a puppy and it’s a cute little thing, but it scares the tar out of my cows out there in the field-”

“I understand Ma’am. I own several cows myself so I understand completely.”

“-so that right there is why he’s got a cause to be harassing me.”

I wondered what she’d do if I stood up in the Bunny Suit in the window she was looking out of at that moment.

“Well Ma’am, it seems to me that Mister Lumpkin o’er there and yourself have just had a misunderstanding. You’re concerned for your cows and he’s concerned for his dog. I own several dogs myself and I know it’d rile me up if someone was a’threatening to open fire on them with a six-shooter and such.”

“No I have an AR15 sir”

“In any case, maybe you ought go over there and talk it over with him,” I suggested, “We could send a Deputy out there but in my experience sending Deputys all over the place for domestic disputes and neighbour feuds just tends to make things worse. Folks get mighty bitter about it and then feel like they’ve got to retaliate and end up calling the po-leece to your house. It’s a waste of our time really.”

She didn’t say anything for a few seconds.

“I guess I could go and talk to him. I see his lights on out there.”

“Alright then. You can give me your cellphone number if you like and I can call you up in a few minutes to see how things are going.”

“Sure, it’s ### ### ####,”

“Alright,” I tapped the new number on my iPhone to prank call at a later date, “Like I said, I’m Lieutenant Barber so if you need to reach me again, just call back the Deputy here and ask for me.”

“Okay, I will do. Thanks so much!” she sounded really grateful for the advice I’d given her.

“You have a good night now, Ma’am.”

“Thank you, you too!”

I muted the linesmans handset once more and closed the skype app on my phone.

I looked over to Earl who was grinning from ear to ear, “There you go, boy!” he whispered, with as much enthusiasm as a whisper can express.

 ♦

It wasn’t long before we heard the front door of the house slam shut and I got to see The Bitch Nextdoor for the first time as she strode down the gravel path and onto the dirt road to make her way to Earls shack… and what a cutie pie she was. We had about seven minutes until she reached her destination, then five minutes until she gave up knocking on the door, assumed he was passed out drunk and then another seven minutes for her to get back: that gave us a little under twenty minutes to do entirely what ever we pleased in her home.

Twenty minutes, and Earl wasted none of them. As soon as she’d disappeared from view he was in through the back door, leaving me trailing behind as I stuffed my telephone equipment back into my backpack and set a timer for 15 minutes on my phone.

 ♦

“Earl?”

I wandered through the dark house looking around for places to place some booby traps. I made sure to remove every lightbulb I could find with a special incredibly cheap lightbulb that was prone to overheat and also was filled with gunpowder. I opened up the back of her television and cut every exposed wire. I disconnected the drainage pipe in her kitchen sink. I inverted the batteries on her universal remote control and cranked up the volume on the stereo to maximum.

These things would be discovered gradually over the course of the weeks that would follow and they were the kind of childish pranks that I enjoyed doing the most. When she found out that her television no longer worked she’d turn on the radio and leap out of skin when it blasted noise at her, and when she emptied the sink after cleaning the dishes she’d be met by a torrent of dirty water pouring out all over her feet and one by one throughout the course of perhaps the next month, each lightbulb would sporadically explode and she’d have no idea that anything had even happened… except for the clue that I always used to leave behind when I’d do this as a kid; some obvious sign that ‘someone’ had done ‘something’… and I wondered what the clue should be in this case.

I noticed a family portrait sitting on the mantelpiece. It was of an elderly man sitting on a tractor with grandchildren and presumably relatives standing in front of the tractor. I carefully took the photograph out of the frame and drew an eyepatch on the elderly mans face with a heavy duty black marker pen.

My phone began to buzz in my pocket signalling the alarm that our 15 minutes were up and that now would be the best time to get the fuck out of dodge before The Bitch Nextdoor returned.

“Earl?!” I called out once more, “Where are you, boy?”

I heard some more movement from upstairs and decided to see what he’d been doing all of this time. As I climbed the stairs I began to realize that our ideas of what constituted a subtle psychological ‘prank’ differed quite considerably.

A turd lay on the quilt of the womans brass bed in the master bedroom and a puddle of urine had already seeped into the floorboards beside it, illuminated by the moonlight through the window of the corridor. And there was Earl, rummaging through her laundry basket with panties and socks tucked into the back pocket of his khakis and a number of expensive looking necklaces hooked onto telescope of his hunting rifle.

I watched him for a moment.

“Come on, Earl. Time to go. She’ll be back any minute,” I said from the doorway, not wanting to even go into the bedroom after what he’d done to it, “You’ve really done a number on this place.”

He shot me a look of pride, “Huh do you love me?!” he said, grinning.

We slipped down the stairs and out of the backdoor, hiding behind the corner of the house to wait for her to come back. We watched the gate at the end of the path intently.

Another 10 minutes passed.

“Shit,” I checked the time on my phone again, “You haven’t got any bear traps set up in your yard have you?”

Another 10 minutes passed sharing a cigarette as we waited. Finally there was a glim flicker of movement from the gate and we watched as The Bitch Nextdoor made her way up the path, staggering this time and not striding like before. Earl had assured me, on the condition I didn’t tell anybody else, that there weren’t any traps in his yard…  I concluded that she must have just exhausted herself from the journey there and back again.

After the front door had slammed shut we heard the sound of heavy boots walking towards the phone by the window again. I whipped the linesmans handset from my backpack and snapped it back into her telephone box in time to catch some conversation.

“What was that?”

It was a mans voice.

“I don’t know, my reception ain’t too good out here. It must’ve been some static I reckon” she replied as I muted the handset, “anyway, I was calling for Lieutenant Barber. This is Miss ###### again, I called a while ago about the phone calls I was getting from the Lumpkin house?”

“Oh that’s right we spoke before… I was going to find you a Lieutenant and then the line went dead.”

“Well gosh, I spoke with a Lieutenant Barber and was supposed to have called me back and he never did. I just this minute got back to my house to find your number to call back.”

“You err…” the Deputy seemed confused, “… wait just a minute, Ma’am. I’m going to place you on hold okay? Don’t hang up.”

Fuck. I couldn’t hang up on them because she’d made the call this time.

I unmuted the handset and hoped the Deputy would leave us on hold for a long time.

“This is Lieutenant Barber, who’s speaking?” I asked,

“Oh Lieutenant this is #####, I was over at Josh’s house and you didn’t call back so…”

“Oh! Miss ###### that’s right. I do apologize for that, we’re having a situation here and I’m in the Incident Room tonight with the FBI. Everything’s a little rushed.” I told her, chuckling.

“Well I understand, I understand. I just wanted to let you know that everything’s fine. I spoke with Josh and we came to an agreement and,” Earl and I exchanged a puzzled look, “everything’s just fine. In fact he’s gonna come over to my place later on tonight and bring a bottle to make up for everything that happened. I said that wasn’t necessary but he was very insistent about coming over here…”

She paused and waited for my response. I really had no idea what to say to her.

“Ma’am?” the Deputy had come back, “are you still there?”

“Yes I… I was just talking with-“

“You can go ahead and hang up, this is Barber.” I told him, “someone patched us through to my line up here… we’re still trying to figure out what’s going on with her telephone line. I’m familiar with the case so I’ll take over from here.”

“Oh this… this is Barnett?” he asked me,

“Sure is. Who’s this?”

“This is #### at the front desk,” he hesitated for moment and went on, “Yeah I don’t know who patched you through, it wasn’t me. I’ll go ahead and hang up. I’m sorry about that, sir.”

“… alright.”

I waited for the click.

“Ma’am, are you still there? It’s Barber.”

“Yes I am. Gosh, it sounds like you guys are having more problems with your phone lines than I am!” she said, laughing, “Anyway… so Josh wants to come over but I don’t really want him to and …uh… what should I do about that?”

“Well I guess we… could send a patrol car over there..? Is that what you’re wanting us to do, Ma’am?”

“Oh would you? I’d feel safer because of it. I’m sure he’s not going to try and do anything to me,” she put some extra emphasis on that part, “but he was pretty hammered when I saw him.”

“Oh don’t worry yourself over it, I’ll get in touch with dispatch and have someone come and check in on you and go and talk to him afterwards just to make sure everything’s settled down.”

“Thank you so much, Lieutenant.”

“You’re welcome Ma’am. You have a good night now. I’ve really to get back to the Incident Room.”

“Sure! Thank you so much for your help!”

I put the handset back on mute and heard the sound of her boots walking away from the window again. Both of us didn’t know quite what to make of what had just happened. The Bitch Nextdoor couldn’t have spoken with Josh because Earl *was* Josh. The name Earl Wayne Rogers, supposedly, was the name of a dead relative of his who apparently had possession of the telephone before him. It wasn’t much of a topic that I’d ever cared enough about to discuss with him, but I got a kick of calling him Earl anyway. It struck me as a much more appropriate name for the East Texas Hillbilly.

 ♦

What was The Bitch Nextdoor up to?

We waited outside her kitchen window until 11:30pm when we finally heard a loud exclamation of “What the Fuck!” as she discovered the turd on her bed.

I fought against every fibre of my being and got out of there with Earl before one of the lightbulb bombs exploded. I had wanted ever so much to listen in on her phone line and be able to witness the inevitable ‘epic call-back’ she would make to the Sheriffs Department to yell at them about the mysterious turd sitting on her bed.

We trekked back across the pasture to Earls shack and if she’d look out of her window again she would have been able to vaguely make out the silhouettes of a giant rabbit and a smaller figure beside it that was hunched over and buckling under the full weight of a chainsaw and a large calibre rifle on its back that was draped in bras and underpants and sparkling diamond and silver necklaces that caught the moonlight as they rattled and bounced with every step he took.

We were pure Demons, straight out of hell.

But hell was just across the pasture, and we were only halfway there.

PART 2: THE BITCH NEXTDOOR

The shack was in ruins. Even more so than before. I didn’t say a word as Earl shuffled about amongst the broken and splintered remains of all his worldly goods. His windows were smashed, the shutters were torn inwards, the curtains and blinds were slashed and ripped beyond repair. His kitchen had been systematically dismantled; shelves had been pulled off the wall, jars of preserves had been dashed against the floor tiles and cans of baked beans had been cut open and poured over every flat surface and even the heavy door of the refrigerator had somehow been snapped from its hinges. It was only through chance that we noticed the oven had been set on, and we discovered the can of gasoline that had been left to cook and explode inside of it. Cans of paint had been splashed over everything and the carpet throughout the house was wet from the contents of smashed bottles of alcohol and the place reeked of gasoline and cleaning fluid. She’d clearly given some serious thought to physically setting the place on fire.

It wasn’t long before we found the dog.

It had been impaled on a meat hook in the storage shed in the back yard; strung up and bleeding out alongside at least a dozen ill-fated squirrels in various states of decomposition.

 

The sheer scale of the carnage that had been dealt out in such a small amount of time had managed to impress me. I realized then why Earl had such a hatred for this woman. She was worse, and therefore better, than both of us.

“Who is this woman?” I asked him,

He answered my question with one of his own, “Do you know what a psychopath is?!”

It didn’t need to be answered.

 ♦

We sat on the porch for a while finishing off the Chartreuse from my backpack and we waited for the sun to rise. Earl told me about the things he’d seen going on at her house. She wasn’t a simple cow-farmer or a country yokel. True, he admitted, she kept cows. But they were wild and skeletal creatures that acted more like feral beasts than dairy cows. The day his dog had gotten onto her land was the day his dog has refused to ever leave the safety of the house again, and stayed hidden away whenever strangers would come over. It had been traumatised to the point where it no longer barked and would run away instead. Often leaving a yellow trail behind itself.

Strange things went on at her house and from the stories he told me that night, the feral cows were only the beginning.

As the bottle became dry and our glass noticeably empty Earl got to his feet and decided that now was the time for action. He handed me the famous chainsaw of the East Texas Chainsaw Massacre and took up his rifle in his hands. He put a round in the chamber and we began a slow march back toward the house of The Bitch Nextdoor.

In the bright morning light I caught a glimpse of the cows roaming the on pasture and any doubts I had about the truthfulness of Earls stories were gone from my mind in that moment.

They were truly foul creatures; the embodiment of pestilence on four legs. Their ribs were exposed in a painful manner and they walked as if they had died long, long ago. Their gaunt faces and deep-set giant and jaundiced eyeballs stared at us malevolently as we trudged across the grass. It was all I could to do keep Earl from opening fire on the poor beasts and putting them out of their misery as I fought against the urge to do so myself.

 ♦

The nearer we got to the house the faster Earl began to move. He swung the rifle down from his shoulder and took a well-aimed shot at the property. The bullet tore through a flower pot that had been sitting beside the backdoor the night before and sent shards of pottery flying in all directions.

“FUCK YOU!” he yelled, “THE FUCKIN’ WHEEL OF DESTINY IS TURNING, MOTHERFUCKER!”

He loaded another round into the chamber and fired it off again. It disappeared through a window causing the whole pane of glass to crumble and fall.

“HUH! LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HEARTACHE AND THE LOSS OF GOD, WANDERING, WANDERING IN HOPELESS NIGHT! OUT HERE IN THE PERIMETER THERE ARE NO STARS! OUT HERE WE IS STONED, IMMACULATE!” he paused for a moment to take a breath and loaded another round into the chamber while he did so, “LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT TEXAS RADIO AND BIG BEAT-”

He fired his rifle again, this time directly through the centre of the backdoor striking it with such force that the wood splintered and paintjob cracked from top to bottom.

“-HUUH?! LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT TEXAS RADIO AND THE BIG BEAT AND THE LOSS OF GOD! OUT HERE IN THE PERIMETER THERE ARE NO STARS! OUT HERE WE IS STONED, IMMACULATE!”

The Bitch Nextdoor appeared at an upstairs window with an AR15 in hand and screaming something at us that, perhaps due to the giant costume Bunny head, I simply couldn’t understand.

“CRIMINAL TRESPASSING?!” Earl screamed in response, “FUCK YOU! YOU KILLED MY CHICKEN!”

He took another shot with his rifle and struck the exact spot where she was standing. The window shattered and I watched as The Bitch Nextdoor topple backwards, appearing to blast off a few rounds from her assault rifle as she fell.

“Holy shit, Earl.”

He began cackling menacingly, “Whoopsie Daisy” he sang as laughed, “WHOOPSIE DAISY!”

 ♦

We were only a few yards from the backdoor now and there had been no sign of movement from the window upstairs. Given the high level of accuracy that Earl apparently possessed while he was sober, and given the large calibre of the rifle rounds, it was entirely possible that the bullet had torn through her body and left an exit-wound the size of a watermelon, killing her instantly.

 

The damaged backdoor was locked but it fell to pieces with a gentle nudge from the shoulder. We entered the house more cautiously this time and stalked through the kitchen to the living room and to the foot of the staircase like a couple of SWAT troopers.

Earl crouched down poking the barrel of his rifle through the banisters and eyed the top of stairs in expectation that The Bitch Nextdoor was going to appear any second with her AR15 and empty her magazine into both of us.

We waited for several minutes in complete silence until it became obvious to us that she wasn’t going to do anything. The only sound we heard was the soft pitter patter as droplets of blood fell away from the pool that had collected in the corridor and were falling one by one onto the stairs.

I climbed the stairs and Earl followed.

 ♦

She lay in the spot where she had fallen and the corridor was absolutely wet with blood. There was a gaping hole in her shoulder and the assault rifle lay motionless beside her.

I guess I wouldn’t get to prank call her again after all.

Earl began cackling again as soon as he saw her body.

It was almost mid-afternoon by the time we’d finished mopping up the blood and scrubbing down the corridor and staircase with domestic bleach. The Bitch Nextdoor was laying face down on a number of garbage sacks with a roll of duct tape resting beside her. The plan was to cocoon her in the garbage sacks and haul her out into the woodland in the surrounding area where we’d find a suitable spot to bury her.

 

I’d been looking around the house out curiosity and had come across a rather impressive computer station hidden away in a walk-in closet. The only light in there came from a small desk lamp with an oversized green lightbulb that gave the station an incredibly eerie appearance while illuminating hundreds of newspaper clippings that had been tacked to the walls.

Most of the stories were about bomb threats around the United States that had been deemed to originate from high schoolers. Many of them, according to some of the clippings, now languished in Federal Prisons under the old laws from the Patriot Act that had never been repealed.

A stack of notebooks sat on the desk and as I was about to open them up, one of the clippings on the wall caught my attention. I recognized the headline immediately:

Massachusetts Man Targeted By Prank Callers

It was an old story from 2010 that dealt with one of our previous Prank Call Victims… and I couldn’t help but feel a little pride about our notoriety; that tales of our exploits had reached even this far. It didn’t strike me as strange at all that The Bitch Nextdoor would have this news story pinned up next to her computer.

 ♦

Earl was still scrubbing down the walls, cursing under his breath.

I turned on the computer and picked up a couple of the notebooks, flicking through the pages as I waited for it to load up.

The pages of the notebook on the top of the pile were filled with deranged handwritten poems and pornographic cartoons that had been printed out in black and white and taped onto the pages in a crude attempt to laminate them. There were numerous hateful passages about Josh Lumpkin and it seemed that The Bitch Nextdoor really had a twisted obsession with him that had started off, from the first pages in the notebook, as a schoolgirls infatuation and had grown and bloated over the years into a deep pathological hatred. Passages existed where she ranted about the loud music he would play at all hours of the night, and his constant firing of guns at all hours day and night, and long and angry pages upon pages of furious scribblings detailing the prostitutes and ‘girls from the bar’ that Josh had brought home on various nights.

Earl would get a kick of this. I tucked the notebook under my arm and began skimming through the pages of another one.

This one, the second from the top of the pile, was filled with torn and scissored pages of tiny, almost illegible, typed text that had been clumsily stapled together. I barely read anything they said until I came across a printed image of Michael Madsen from Reservoir Dogs which sent a shiver down my spine as I realized that The Bitch Nextdoor, whoever she was, was clearly familiar with me and therefore had to have at least been partially aware that her next door neighbor used to be one of our regular victims.

What was going on here?

 

Suddenly everything that she had said to me in our conversation the previous evening seemed to reek of suspicion. She’d pretended to be ignorant of overseas Prank Callers whilst knowing full well that we existed. She’d claimed to the Lieutenant to have spoken to Earl when in reality she’d destroyed his house while he was, she thought presumably out drinking, and she’d implied that Earl was coming over to her and she’d wanted a Deputy to drive by and see her. It had seemed to me at the time that The Bitch Nextdoor figured Earl would have come home drunk, discovered what had happened to his home and gone over to question her and then he’d be met by a Deputy who would likely have arrested him. That was probably what she had planned for him. It wasn’t unusual for neighbors to use the police as weapons against one another in their squabbles and rivalries, I’d witnessed enough of that not to be surprised by it. But it made no sense that a random neighbor of one of our Prank Call Victims would have collected so much information about us and about other Prank-related incidents across America.

She had to be involved in all of this far more closely than I had yet realized.

And while I stood there examining the stapled pages of text that turned out to be chat logs from our Vent Server I noticed, all of a sudden, the log-on screen from her computer.

 

A deep blood red background highlighting a school girl anime character with her head craned to her shoulder baring a maniacal grin on her blood spattered face whilst she held a butchers knife, dripping with blood.

It was Bloody Margie… one of the people from the Toy Chest… this had been her house all along.

She’d somehow gotten us to target Earl for harassment in a mad scheme to take revenge on him and be there to gloat at every call and every planning conversation and video that we made of him. Everything began to click into place.

 ♦

I shot a look over to Earl who was still busy scrubbing the gore from her wallpaper and I decided that he didn’t need to know about this. He had enough problems with his alcoholism and didn’t need to be burdened by the knowledge that he’d murdered the girl who was responsible for years of torment and who had also been madly in love with him. I could barely get my head around it myself.

I took each of the notebooks and stuffed them into my backpack, then began ripping the news clippings off of the wall. No doubt someone at some point would investigate the disappearance of Bloody Margie and it wasn’t in my interest that they should discover any connection towards me or Earl.

Walking back from her bedroom I found myself staring at her lifeless corpse as it lay on the garbage sacks, completely motionless.

“Earl, grab her feet,” I said to him, “Let’s turn her over.”

I took a moment to look at her face before we started to tape her up in the cocoon. She looked nothing like the picture she’d given me. Typical.

“Wait… let’s get a picture of her.”

“Bullshit!”

“Help me get her into the back yard.”

With some difficulty we managed to prop up her body and it didn’t take much work to exploit the rigor mortis to fix her face into a rather lifelike grin. Earl put a hand to her mouth and squeezed her cheeks between her fingers. He brought his face close up towards hers and looked very satisfied with everything that had transpired.

“I’m gonna cut pieces of you off and send ‘em across America,” he told her, and took a couple of steps backwards to take the shot with his old portable camera.

Not that anyone would have been able to see it through the Bunny Suit, but I was grinning from ear to ear. All of this may have been sick and I may have been deluding myself in an attempt to get an adrenaline rush that would allow me to dismember Margies corpse with my machete… and it was an ignoble way for anyone to go… but knowing Margie as I did, I think she would have absolutely loved it.

Fin.