I never used to be a big believer in Karma. Usually, I just went along with the flow of things. Life was just one joint after another. My older brother supplied them and I smoked them down right along with him. It was how we kept our peace in the turbulent life we led. Our mom and our step dad fought all the time, leaving us to pretty much fend for ourselves, which we did quite well. Things were actually better when the house was noisy and angst ridden…
All that changed when my mom found God. Then, came the weekly ‘Come To Jesus’ meetings. My step father couldn’t hack it for very long. He was the first to go. My older brother, Paul, kept getting into trouble. My mother eventually decided to ‘wash Satan out of the house’ and kicked him to the curb. That left me. I was looking for my own excuse to hit the road and found it the day I turned 18 a year and a half later.
I decided to try to hook up with both my old man and my brother, neither of whom I had heard from since they’d left. My father, as it turned out, had already shacked up with another woman and was helping to raise her two kids. Bully for him. He didn’t look too pleased to see me on the doorstep. He told me he hadn’t heard a single word from Paul, and suggested that I check the county jail!
I was loathe to do this, but knowing my brother’s taste for trouble, I did as he suggested, and checked the hospitals too. No luck. I brought some pictures from home and made them into posters to tack up. Soon, I learned that his picture was competing for space with a ton of others, too. After awhile, I felt defeated. Then, other matters began to take up the majority of my time. I needed to work on getting a job and finding a permanent place to stay. Crashing on friend’s couches was not a long term solution.
The video store on the pier had taken down the ‘Help Wanted sign. A middle aged woman worked there now. There was a new vacancy with boardwalk security, but they wanted someone with experience. Day workers were needed for beach cleanup. But workers had to report daily at 6 a.m. It was already past noon. I sighed and was about to give up when one other ad posted on the bulletin board caught my eye: Part Time Clerk Needed at Frog’s Comics. Apply Within.
The store inside was dimly lit, and smelled like mold, old wood polish, and newsprint. Racks of comics were bolted to the walls and to the floors, displaying comics of every genre imaginable. There were some candy displays near the cash register, and an old, black and white television set with rabbit ears playing some horror movie from a time long ago in the back ground. A zonked out hippie couple leaned against the wall. They appeared to be watching the show, but then again, they could have been watching the movie playing on the insides of their eyelids. I approached them with some hesitation. If they wanted to sleep all day, no wonder they needed a clerk.
“Excuse me, I’m here about..”
“The diet frozen yogurt bar went out of business last summer!”
The voice belonged to a young man with a gruff tone who stepped out from behind a rack. I didn’t see him there moments ago.
“Uh, diet frozen yogurt bar? No, actually, I came here about the job on the bulletin board,” I said.
“Oh, that job. Those two wouldn’t know anything about it. They don’t know anything about anything. If you want the job, fill this out.”
The boy gave me a piece of paper on a clip board. It was an application, but it was the strangest one I’d ever seen. For one, it looked to be hand made. He directed me to a chair and handed me a pencil so I could begin filling it out.
Question :1 Name- Allison Calvert
Question :2- Date of Birth (for real) 10/8/69
Question :3- Do you believe in vampires?
I looked around the comic book shop. At once, I noticed all kinds of different comics, but the ones that were displayed most prominently were the horror comics. With an inward shrug, I wrote:
I guess so.
Question 4: Do you believe in werewolves, ghouls, fairies, demons, witches, ghosts and other supernatural entities?
I guess so.
Question 5: Do you have any experience dealing with any of the above?
Do Religious Fanatics count?
Question 6: What would you do if you were in a dark alley and you were confronted by a supernatural entity?
Question 7: Do you know the proper method to kill a vampire?
A wooden stake through the heart, right?
Question 8: What is Superman’s alter ego?
Question 9: What is Spider Man’s alter ego?
Question 10: Do you think it’s odd that so many people are missing in Santa Carla, and there’s no logical explanation for it?
For this, I put the pencil down for a moment. Then, finally, I wrote,
The first boy introduced himself as Edgar Frog as soon as he reviewed my application. He handed it to another boy, whom he introduced as his brother, Alan Frog. After they took some time conferring together, making important sounding ‘hmmming and hawwwing’ noises, they pulled up some chairs beside me.
“Let me discuss our operation,” Edgar opened, clearing his throat to make sure it sounded good and deep, “You may think that we run a comic book shop for our parents, but this is just a cover.”
“Yah,” Alan conceded.
“But the truth is, we’re fighters for a higher cause,” Edgar continued.
“We’re dedicated to Truth, Justice and the American Way,” Alan finished.
“Okay, how so?” I asked.
“This town is a portal for the supernatural and a haven for the undead,” Edgar explained.
I gazed at him, unblinking.
“We’re totally serious, man,” Alan added.
“Some of the highest officials in town are wolves in sheep’s clothing…and I don’t just mean any old wolf. I mean WEREwolf. We’ve got ghouls teaching schools. Vampires sleeping during the day, werewolves hunting prey, ghosts rattling chains, zombies eating brains…,” Edgar prattled.
“Zombies..??” I asked in disbelief.
“Okay, well, we’ve had no official zombie reports…YET!” Alan stated.
“This is nuts!” I cried.
“Well, if we hire you, you have to take it seriously. Totally seriously,” Edgar said.
I bit my lip. I really needed a job. Bad.
“Okay, well, I really do think it’s weird how people are disappearing without a trace…and no explanation. And, the police really don’t give a crap. But, honestly, I haven’t seen any proof of the supernatural. To be honest, I’ve never even seen any proof of the Holy Ghost my mom keeps ranting about…not to be sacrilegious or anything,” I blathered.
“Good enough for now. Trust me, you will believe. Mark my words. So, come back tomorrow morning. We open at 9 am sharp.”
“So, what about your parents?” I asked, wondering why it was that they weren’t the ones doing the hiring.
“We run the show around here,” Alan said ominously, “You’ll figure that one out too, soon enough.
I glanced at the Frog Brother’s parents. They were still behind the counter, in the exact same positions they’d been in when I’d first entered the store. I could have shoved 50 comic books up my shirt, and they would have never noticed a thing.