Strange People, Scary People by Tally Harbour

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Strange People, Scary People, is a collection of fourteen tales of terror and horror: the two aspects for which strange and scary people are famous. In its bowels, you will read of a strange, witch-like woman who likes to relate strange tales to young children--and who grinds her teeth together as she tells the story. Then there’s Eddie, a weird guy who has big problems around pregnant women. You will be introduced to a couple of undertakers--two rogues, really--who teach a town full of fools how to truly respect the dead. You will also meet little Rita Jean Shumate, a filthy young girl who suffers from those tiny, famous crawling things that no one has actually ever seen called "cooties." Indeed, this collection of short stories contains all kinds of strange and scary people within it.


Randy Tyler suddenly realized that he was probably one of the most miserable men alive. It had to be at least a hundred degrees, the air conditioner in the old Impala was out, he was badly sunburned, and he detested the passenger riding with him. Yeah, that was what she was now, just a passenger. And he was going to see a lawyer about divorcing her just as soon as they returned to Atlanta. He had finally had enough of Doris. The trip to the Grand Canyon—which had been a last attempt to save their marriage—had only made things worse. It had only helped him to realize at last what a true bitch she really was. All she had done on this trip was complain. She had complained about his choice of restaurants, his choice of motels, his driving, and even his eroding prowess in bed. She had even complained about the Grand Canyon itself. “It’s not so great,” she had bitched. “It’s just a big hole in the ground with water running through the bottom of it.” And, as usual, she had continued her habit of pestering him. “Take the scenic route home, Randy. I want to see all the small towns and stuff.” That was why, instead of zooming their way back home on the interstate, they were now practically creeping along on an ancient, God forsaken two lane highway somewhere in west Texas.

“Uhhh! There’s another one,” said Randy. And, in spite of the treacherous bumpy road, he pushed down on the accelerator and steered the car straight at something crossing the highway. With perverse satisfaction he enjoyed the sound and feel of the two thumps under the car as he ran over it. With even more pleasure he checked his rearview mirror and looked at what he had hit writhing and dying on the asphalt. It was an armadillo. Not the first he had run over, either. They were all over west Texas; and Randy just didn’t like them. He considered them as nasty, mutant looking creatures that had no place on the planet. Their rodent looking heads disgusted him—along with their ugly little feet and nude shingled tails. He hated their gray banded shells too—and especially the hair that stuck out from under it. And what in the hell was a mammal doing with a shell on it anyway! He figured that they should have lived with the dinosaurs—and gone out with them. He really detested them; and the fact that his Uncle Bert had once warned him about them made them even more loathsome to him. “Don’t ever mess with them things, boy,” he had warned. “Don’t ever touch one, alive or dead. They carry…” What was it? He couldn’t remember. All he knew was that his uncle had mentioned some kind of dreadful disease. Anyway, he had always heeded Uncle Bert’s advice. He had never touched one, and never intended to.

“You sicko creep!” cried Doris. “That’s the third one you’ve hit. What’s with you?”

“I don’t like ’em,” Randy answered. “They’re nasty little bastards.”

That was the last words they spoke to each other for an hour. They simply had nothing to say to each other. Then, Randy broke the silence, “Oh Christ, that’s all I need!”

He was reacting to the sight of an old weather-beaten sign coming up on the right. It read, “Food and gas five miles ahead at Cousin Pete’s Armadillo Farm.”

“Do you think it’s still open?” inquired Doris.

“It doesn’t matter,” Randy replied. “We’ve got plenty of gas and I’m not hungry.”

“You’re not hungry!” snapped his passenger. “You don’t even consider me!”

“There’s sandwiches on the back seat.”

“Not food, you jerk. I need a restroom.”

Randy took a deep breath and exhaled it tightly through his lips. “Okay. We’ll stop if it’s open.” The truth was that he had to go pretty badly also, but would have much preferred the brush instead of an armadillo farm.

A few minutes later, they turned into the place the sign had advertised. It was an old broken down structure, made of adobe brick, which appeared to have once served as both a restaurant and residence. It was a depressing scene. Garbage was scattered everywhere, and overall was a disagreeable odor. It smelled like the monkey house in a zoo.

“Oh, this is beautiful!” exclaimed the driver. “Great idea, sweetheart!”

“Just shut up!”

Randy, considering the place deserted, was about to back out of the parking lot. But then somebody opened the door of the building and strolled out toward them. This person seemed to be a stranger to hygiene even from a distance; but when he was close enough for them to smell, they found him downright repulsive. He was a tall, skinny old man whose head was wrapped up in a bright red paisley bandana and was crowned with a wide brimmed straw hat. His face seemed to be nothing but wrinkles—wrinkles and ugly white splotches and nodules. His teeth were missing, as well as part of his nose. He was clothed in a long sleeved gray flannel shirt, faded around the armpits, and a pair of pin-striped overalls. Down below were suede boots caked with mud. Yes, he was quite an unwholesome looking character—and also intimidating. For he also sported a forty-five caliber pistol on his hip.

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