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B. HORROR / Wendell Mayo I'm against all this petty bourgeois stuff. . . I'm a man with higher needs. What I'm interested in is a wardrobe with a mirror. Prisypkin in The Bedbug, Mayakovsky, 1928 I asked B. the other day why I always play the victim. It wasn't as if his wardrobe wouldn't fit me with a few alterations, though TU admit, I was the one with the slender arms, white, wUlowy, and wonderfuUy understated alongside my mouth when I screamed. And I practiced my scream to perfection: it began with the highest possible note a falsetto might make. Then I drove it, long and fuU of rumbling vibrato, until I could feel the glottis trembUng in the back of my throat and the corners of my open mouth ache. I was good, Uke JuUa Adams was good in Creature from the Black Lagoon . . . and why not? I was young enough, seventeen, nearly out of high school. LuckUy, my voice hadn't changed. And anyone'd scream at such a hulk of black swamp rot if it were ready to foul her new wipe-on tan. Or muss his wig, falsies, and one-piece bathing suit. B.'s answer. "You gotta scream, kid. It's the payoff. They expect it—besides," he added, "look at aU the hair and muscle on me. Don't be ridiculous." I gotta admit, he was right. B. was a Uttle short, but he had biceps Uke Popeye and dark, thick hair running every which way in waves Uke the coat of a mongrel—his arms, back, beard—but not his head, which had a large, saucer-shaped bald spot on top, clean and shiny Uke a cue baU. So I screamed and continued to scream in the employ of B. Horror Enterprises. I was the Mommy's scream in 7i's Alive when she first sees her murderous offspring. I've been every mother's scream. Name them, I've screamed at them: Giant Leeches; Brain Eaters; Living Dead; Assorted Freaks; Vampires; Werewolves; Hyde (or was it JekyU?); Swamp Things; Chainsaws; Giant Ants, Grasshoppers, Mantises, Tarantulas, Crabs; Robot Gogs and Magogs; The Ripper; Blob, Son of Blob; and Stepford Wives (with their circuitries showing) . . . The Missouri Review · 59 I was the consummate, everlasting scream, holding out against the vision of everything aUen, and I have screamed at the worst aberrations known to post-World War Two humankind, and they just kept coming . . . coming___ I had my scream and B. Horror had me to make it. It was aU very authentic, and working part-time Td already played Cleveland, EvansviUe, Toledo and Cincinnati, aU the biggies. But eventuaUy B. and I settled down. Our main office and venue were in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where B. promised to take me fuU-time into the company, so long as I continued to make my scream—and make it pay. Not long ago, B. and I left his shop near the Memorial War CoUseum for a job at the home of Dr. Tarnower, whose daughter was making her debut, coming out, as it were. The evening air felt wonderful in Fort Wayne, a May night, so I could hear the crickets bleating, june bugs smacking against the windshield of the van, and smeU the cow dung from surrounding farms. Tarnower's was in the northeast of town, just off Trier Road. He was a good customer, not that we'd ever done a job for him before, but I say "good" because he seemed to fit our demographic profile of a "good" customer. He appeared to have plenty of money and leisure time to indulge himself and his famUy in the sort of service we provided. And he was a Unchpin of Fort Wayne, on the councU of Lutheran Churches, Board of Magnavox, aU the right stuff. So B. and I figured he'd get a kick out of what we do, as it were, appeal to what we felt was our general sense of the people here: almost anything goes; a lot might shock them, but they don't say much about it if it does. I mean, they're folks who are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 59-73
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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