Finding the Horror Story
I read of the horrible case in Russia where Anatoly Moskwin was discovered to had spent time digging up the corpses of dead children. It was found that this man(?) had been fashioning "dolls" out of their bodies and keeping those bodies in his room where he lived with his parents.
Considered well educated, this was not some type of mental deficient. On the contrary, this man was found by those around him to be highly intellectual speaking several languages. What possesses a man of this caliber to conceive of what you and I would consider an atrocity beyond measure? The reason is being studied for sure and not my point.
As a writer, I am always looking for something that sparks the imagination and becomes a building block for a story. I read about this "monster”and like the author, Robert Bloch, writer of the novel PSYCHO inspiring Hitchcock or Director, Tobe Hooper for THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, I wanted to transpose my shock from this story and commit it to page. I thought somehow I could use this to write my first horror story.
This idea has been gestating now in the back of my head all this time. I have thought about how I could capture this viciousness and turn it into something. One morning, I didn’t find the horror story I had been fixated on, it found me. Yet, like many horror story stories, these tales of terror became only the result and not about what happened in Russia.
What I really found were three stories of terror. While standing in line for a pack of cigarettes, in front of me was an emaciated woman whom I would guess was in her late 30's or early 40's. We waited in line while a somewhat elderly man counted the stack of pennies he had so he could buy a pack of generic cigarettes and pastry. He had trouble and time ticked on. Finally, the clerk behind the counter saw him through, and he moved on waiting for the girl by the door.
As she stepped up to the counter, hands shaking, she laid her 3AM, convenient store pastry on the counter exchanging bills with the clerk for a more effortless transaction. She turned back to look at me and nervously smiled. I could tell her eyes hid, pain no gesture could erase. As her change was given to her, she clutched half-eaten pastry from the counter, but then realized she had not bought a pack of cigarettes and mumbled her request to the clerk. Hands shaking; still, more money was exchanged and she and the prior, she and the elderly man left the store.
When the door was shut, the clerk apologized to me for the wait. I told him the brand of cigarettes I wanted and commented that she was “tweaker”, an opioid or meth addict. He shook his head and agreed.
In my car later on my way to work, it occurred to me that I was as addicted as the woman to my own drug, cigarettes. How could I stand in judgment? Who is to say she wasn’t a mental deficient as the man in Russia wasn’t? Wasn’t she too hiding her horror in her “room” like I hide behind a dumpster smoking my cigarettes at work? Wasn’t she on her way to becoming one of the 15,000 and counting victims of heroin-related deaths ignored by our government? Aren’t I too going to be one of the thousands a year who dies of cigarette-related illness? How are these stories more shocking than that of the psychopath in Russia? Aren’t these horror stories being told every day? Yet, we are told the true infection of what is destroying America is the lack of a wall. That is a “punchline” more insidious than anything conjured up by Stephen King. So maybe in these tales, I am on to something.