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Bomani and the Case of the Missing Monsters
Balogun Ojetade

Well, this is a scary mess.
I wish I could say it was the scariest mess I’ve ever seen – that would belong to the New Atlanta Child Murders of 2009; kinda proved someone other than Wayne Williams did it back in ‘79 and is still out here – but this is certainly up there. Top five at least. The victim: Ricky Biggs, born August 21st, 1987. Just turned thirty years old, and apparently someone didn’t want to wish him a very happy birthday. Actually, the vic’ was born Richard Biggs, but he legally changed it to “Ricky” in ’05. Guess being call “Dick Biggs” and you’re not a porn star ain’t no fun.
We find his legs – what’s left of them – on the floor. It’s like some kinda wild animal just chewed and chewed and then spit it all back out. There just ain’t a lot left. The upper half of Ricky is still in the bed.
The vic’ doesn’t have the look, to me, of anyone who was ever handsome, but to be honest, I can’t rightly judge a man whose eyes are hanging out of their sockets like smashed boiled eggs and whose face looks like someone – or something – decided to use it for a Tic Tac Toe board and a chainsaw to draw the x’s and o’s. I bring my face in closer – right up next to what’s left of Ricky’s mug and find two small holes in his neck. My eyes scan downward. Ricky’s guts are drying out in the center of the bed; maggots are crawling slowly over them.
Goddamn, I have to back away! The stench is the worst. It’s always the worst, but this is especially bad – like dirty ass on lemony fresh sheets. I pull out my handkerchief and cover my face. How long has he been rot-ting in here? Even the Atlanta late summer breeze can’t cover this funk. You get used to the sights, but the smell? Even after thirty plus years of doing this, it’s all I can do to hold down those spicy shrimp quesadillas from the Flying Biscuit. Should have known spicy shrimp quesadillas would be a bad choice.
“Man, partner… somebody really wanted this guy dead.”
“Chewed up, spit out, and ripped in half? Yeah, Stitch, I’d say someone wanted ol’ Ricky dead, and they wanted to make sure of it.”
The lab rats’ll take care of Ricky I’ll come back later.
“C’mon Stitch. Let’s get outta here.”

*   *   *

With Ricky outta the picture, Stitch and I can roll up our sleeves and really get to the nitty-gritty. There are no signs of forced entry; the front door is locked. The apartment is on the third floor, but I check the windows anyway – nothing outta the ordinary.
The apartment itself is small, not like Midtown small, but it’s not big. The pea soup green tiles in the kitchen and the lack of smelly soaps in the bathroom tell me that Ricky was living the bachelor’s life. He seems to have kept it clean enough though. Not like neat-freak clean, but it’s not dirty. Overall, it reminds me of a lot of places I used to have, back before I met Marisol… with one exception.
We all got our things. Me? I like to grab a cold bottle of good beer and paint those little pewter figurines from Ki Khanga, that African D-n-D-type game everybody’s clamoring about on the internet nowadays. Mr. Ricky Biggs, on the other hand, his thing seems to be – or have been – scary movies. The whole place is a shrine to the eerie and weird. Not in like a ‘serial killer’ kind of way – with the Atlanta Child Murderer still at large, Goddess knows we don’t need another one of those. No, this is more in a ‘fan of every spine-chilling movie you’ve ever seen, and then some’ kind of way.
Take any psycho, slasher, evil alien, body-snatcher, zombie, or inbred cannibal you can think of and it’s in here in at least one way or another. There are little figurines of creepy clowns, killer kids, and that guy with the needles in his ass. The walls aren’t plaster or tile; they’re VHS tapes. For real, Ricky? No DVDs? Not even a goddamn laser disc? I can’t really trip, though. I still got Best of the Isley Brothers on cassette in my Walkman at home. The empty case of Night of the Gnaw Maws lies across the top row. I later find the tape sitting in the VCR. An old TV – even to me it’s old – is playing nothing but fuzz, while some ghost stares at us from the rug on the floor. Two evil pumpkins watch me and Stitch’s every move from the throw pillows. Shaquita, the Demented Drum Major, from that movie I Know What Drumline You Killed Last Semester, stares at me from the fleece blanket on the back of the couch. I hate how the eyes follow you around. Why do I even know who Shaquita is? Oh, because that’s the one that Junior likes. Marisol says he’s too young to be watching those types of things, but what good are grandpas if they can’t spoil their grandkids?
“This guy sure did like his fright flicks, huh?”
“Looks like it, Stitch.” Now, just because I know who Shaquita, the Demented Drum Major is, don’t mean I know much about this spooky shit. “Stitch, I don’t know half of this stuff, but take a look at this.”
It seems that the cream-of-the-crop of Ricky’s collection is his posters. The whole lot is very well maintained, but these posters just seem a little more, well… a little more maintained. The figurines and the tapes, they’re all kind of just thrown together. But these posters, they take up space. Housed in polished wood frames and carefully hanged, these prints really bring the place together.
“Wow, 13 Magical Negroes,” Stitch says. “Classic!”
“You know this film?”
“Everybody knows 13 Magical Negroes.” Stitch stares at me like I’m from another planet. “It’s a classic. Ya see, the doctor, Dr. Wingman, he starts doing these experiments on these Magical Negroes from popular films, television and fiction. The Magical Negroes, they start to develop a thirst for blood! Pretty soon, the Magical Negroes escape the lab and start attacking the city, while simultaneously saving white people from their at-tacks. It gets pretty wild from there.”
“Ya know what… I think I have heard of that, Stitch.” Now, I may not be 100% sure how scary a blood thirsty Magical Negro is, but I know when things don’t add up. “Stitch, don’t you think this poster looks a little... peculiar?”
Stitch stands a little closer, taking a hold of her thin glasses. Marisol tells me that Stitch needs to eat more, and she’s right: The young woman looks like she’ll keel over if she misses a meal. And I don't know how she sees anything but nostrils with those tiny eyes and that big nose, but she does good work. She’s caught a few things I’ve missed in the past.
“Well,” Stitch pondered. 
It was a vintage style movie poster. 13 Magical Negroes was written at the top, each letter dripping with horror font blood. A young Black woman in the corner, with her shirt ripped just enough to expose the bottom of one butterscotch-complexioned breast, stood with her hands up, protecting her face from some unseen terror. 
“Well,” Stitch starts again, “they certainly took some liberties with Gabrielle Beharie’s boobs. They’re not that big in real life.”
“No Stitch,” I sighed. “Look deeper.” I scanned the poster. Other than the title and the woman with the big breasts, the poster is largely empty. I get so close to the poster, fog starts to form on the glass. Could be I’m looking too hard, but I swear there is a Magical Negro-sized fade in the picture. 
“Wouldn’t you think that a poster about Magical Negroes might have some Magical Negroes in it?”
Stitch nodded her head in acknowledgment. “Yeah, maybe so.”
I walk over to the next poster: Wulfpyr. A full silver moon sits high in the poster, spotlighting an opening in the poorly drawn forest below, right where you might find a Wulfpyr – whatever the hell that is.
“Wulfpyr,” Stitch says. “Pretty lame flick about the child of a Chinese werewolf and a Nigerian vampire. Re-ally only memorable because it’s where Abiola Yee got her start.”
“Abiola Yee started off as a scream queen?”
“Sure did.”
“Huh.” That’s news to me. “Take a look here Stitch. Don’t this look a little empty to you?”
“Yeah, I definitely think the artist could have made more use of the space.”
“Me too, Stitch. Me too.”
I walk around and check out a few more posters. Day of the Living Volcano: lots of lava and ash; a woman obviously not prepared for the next Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius – but no Volcano. Vampires Take Manhattan: no vampires. Ape-ocalypse: ape free. And finally, The Being is being-less, unless the being is supposed to be invisible. Not so sure about that one.
“Stitch, grab these posters. Let’s head down to the station.”  


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