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Toxic #9: Don’t Stop and Smell Those Roses

Mar 19, 2014

“Toxic Cinema, #157 – That’s One Way to Clean up the Clutter…”

“Fahrenheit 451,” the book, rocks. “Fahrenheit 451,” the movie? Eh. The concept that firemen don’t actually put out fires, but start them, still tickles me. A fireman existing to burn books, because books rot the mind, is still the stuff of nightmares. The acting is passable, and a flick that goes after tyranny is always fun. So why my mediocre reaction? The Mechanical Hound.

Why, for the love of God, was he not in the film? Of all the movie adaptation blunders I’ve seen, that’s one of the biggest. I mean – aging up Clarisse, I can live with. Changing the name of the fireman’s wife from Mildred to Linda, I can live with. Actually making the same actress play both Clarisse and Linda, I can live with. But the Mechanical Hound? Missing? He’s the best character in the book, for Pete’s sake!

Verdict: Bad Director, bad! Someone get me a newspaper so I can whack his nose.

Searching for K-9,



My father’s place was out past the edge of town, in an area with so many trees that you could barely see the houses from the road. My mom dropped me off at the end of his gravel driveway. Either she didn’t want to risk the paint job on her new Lexus or she didn’t want to see him. With her, it was impossible to tell which it would be. “Try to be nice,” she said. “He just wants to get to know you better.”

I ignored her – we’d been through the whole “be nice” thing before – and started trudging toward the house. The driveway was more a road, a packed gravel swath that stretched into forever. It was lined with the biggest trees I’d ever seen, dead-looking oaks and maples that had lost their leaves. Here and there big round balls of green were stuck to bare branches. A thick layer of red and orange carpeted the grass below them and drifted over the gravel. The scent of wood smoke floated past from somewhere, along with something like hot pennies.

When I was halfway up the driveway, out of sight of both the road and the house, I stopped. “You sure you’re okay?”

My grandmother nodded from about a hundred feet up, studying the green balls.

“I still don’t get why you wanted to come.” I didn’t need backup to see my father, and I was worried about her materializing outside the house. She’d poofed out yesterday at school because she’d been drained, not because I’d finally won an argument. That’d never happened before. And it made my stomach clench like I’d eaten vegetables. Something about this town was messing with her mojo, and I wanted her to stay put until we figured out what.

I couldn’t lose her. Blog followers or not, she was the only real friend I had.

“I want to see where he lives.”

I snorted, burying my worry as best I could. “Whatever. Just don’t poof out again. The Doctor Who marathon is on tomorrow.”

She smiled, but didn’t meet my eyes. “I’ll be there. Promise.”

I started walking again, kicking up leaves and pretending she wasn’t lying. But she was. I knew her too well to miss when she was being twitchy. And like the disappearing act, she refused to talk about it. I was guessing it was because of my recent supernatural run-ins. For someone who spent half her time telling me to make friends with them, she hadn’t reacted well when I told her about the restaurant. She’d been almost apoplectic when I told her the chatty werewolf was forcing me out to a rave tonight, too.

I hadn’t had much choice after he dropped the bomb about the bar being protected. I’d been in there. I was human. And that meant that every supernatural in town now wanted to know what the hell that meant. He’d given me a choice: talk about my ability to see monsters in a public place, or meet at the Dragon where I’d be the only human. Since I was careful, not stupid, I’d known the better option when I heard it.

Rave it was.

My father’s house was in a clearing at the end of the driveway, all weathered wood and stone with moss growing on the roof. Yellow, hooded flowers filled sculpted garden beds, and the copper smell got stronger as I went by them. This close, it was disgusting. Who’d plant flowers that smelled like money and warm blood?

My father came out on the front porch, an apron tied with military precision over his cardigan. “Tallulah! You made it!”

I tromped up the steps, making a pickle face. “I asked you not to call me that like a million times.”

“I’m not going to call you Tizzy. Your name is Tallulah.”

“You gave me a name that begs people to shove me in a locker. I get to pick a nickname I like.”

I watched as Grandma wandered over to the flowers. As she bent down and inhaled, she fritzed out for a second. It was enough to make my heart rate rise.

“It’s unique. Just like you.”

“It’s an embarrassment.” What the hell was Grandma doing? Ghosts had no sense of smell. And whatever was up with those flowers, they were messing with her. Bad.

Whatever had made her pop out had also made her pop back in bright blue.


© A.M. Schilling  2014. All Rights Reserved.



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