See the guy on the left?
That Scott Hiles. One of my best friends in this world. I met him in 1988. He had long hair like a metal god and worked in a video store. I had long hair like a metal punk and was a customer at that video store. Our first-ever conversation was about the movie PHANTASM II. We haven’t stopped talking for over 25 years. When I was “casting” my mockumentary SHOCK FESTIVAL, a faux-history book which was made very much like a feature film, I put Scott in the lead role of Roc Benson, a character named after my father and who sort of held the whole thing together as a bizarre “godfather” like figure, part John Belushi, part Harvey Weinstein, all man and madness. Here is another one of my favorite images of Roc from the original photo sessions of SHOCK FESTIVAL:
And yes, that’s the dead baby from Masters of Horror.
Anyway, MANY YEARS BEFORE ALL THAT . . . Scott was the original founding member of the Kingdom. By that, I mean that he was the guy who found the house, rented it first, and he lived there for several years before I moved in. He shared the pad with a number of other roomies for those first few years, including Bryan Geer, from whom you’ve heard rather extensively during this Kingdom retrospective. Scott is one of the more amazing roomies and friends I’ve ever had, a kind, gentle-hearted man, who also happens to be one hell of a film nerd.
Like many of us, when the mood strikes or the moon was full, Scott could transform into something cunning and diabolical.
As the following terrifying confession will now illustrate . . .
MOO-HOO-HAH-HAH . . . .
by Scott Hiles
If someone shits on your pillow, they deserve to die. I’m just saying.
Last time, Bryan told you about Gaston, the cat, and our pal Stacy, who brought him to The Kingdom. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not all Stacy brought to the Kingdom. Stacy also had a snake, you see, and every other week or so he would toss live mice in the terrarium to feed the slimy little guy. Didn’t take much to fill him up. A single mouse and he would be good for days. I never knew his name or even if he had a name. I just called him Snake. I think he would have appreciated that. Escape from New York was Stacy’s favorite movie, FYI; he’d put it on in the living room and veg out on the couch, mumbling the dialogue to himself in a bizarre sort of waking coma, usually hung-over or coming down from some weird drug. But I digress.
Anyway. One day, Stacy dropped a couple of live ones into Snake’s terrarium for dinner. Snake was still full from last week’s mouse so he just ignored them. Turned out, dinner that night happened to be to be a boy mouse and a girl mouse. So they did what came naturally. They started humping like there was no tomorrow. (And who could say they were wrong?) Pretty soon, we had a litter of six pink baby mice. Snake ignored them too. As the mice grew, they clamored for Snake’s attention, who just sat there all slimy and coiled up and grumpy. Get away from me, kid, ya bother me. Every so often, Snake would reach the end of his rope and gobble one of them down, but then he wouldn’t eat again for another for a week or so. The mice were fairly safe, though I’m sure they lived in terror with the death lottery looming over their squeaky, fuzzy heads every six or seven days.
The mice foraged for food a lot, but it turned out there wasn’t any. They were supposed to be the food in there. And Snake was never hungry. So the mice did what pretty much anyone in a survival-of-the-fittest situation does. They started eating the snake.
Now me, I’m a pretty laid-back guy. But displaying a full-on totrure-porn cannibal holocaust diorama in our living room was just too much. I told Stacy that it was time for an agonizing reappraisal of the whole scene. They all had to go, mice and Snake. So the next day, while I was at work, Stacy followed my directive, but in cleaning out the whole mess as he prepared to vacate his room for good, two of the surviving mice slipped out of the terrarium and escaped into the house. The rest of us had no clue, but Stacy had left us a parting gift.
Actually, it was more like several dozen parting gifts, holed up in the walls, multiplying like rabbits.
Thank you Stacy, you mouse fucker.
Soon after Stacy’s departure Stephen joined the household for good. He’d crashed on the couch for a few months the previous year and had even recommended Stacy as a roommate, not realizing the horror that would soon engulf us all. I can’t remember if we told him about the mouse thing when he finally moved in, but I’m also pretty sure Stephen wouldn’t have cared. He was used to rats and roaches, having just spent a year in an apartment complex crawling with vermin, both human and non-human. During that time we all paid the rent as cameramen on a religious talk show. Stephen called it “working for Jesus.” He scared the shit out of those Baptist guys when he walked on set with his ratty cargo shorts and tie-dyed T-shirts. I’d bring the pastor free porn from the video store I moonlighted in. I would have felt bad about that, but the guy wasn’t a hypocrite; he actually talked about watching thosse videos in his sermons. Called it research. Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess.
But anyway, the mice.
As Bryan talked about last time, we had an awesome house cat named Gaston. And he was truly an awesome cat. Bryan’s best bud, whom Stacy also left behind as a parting gift. Stephen was allergic to cats, so he liked to fuck with Gaston. He had this old black ski gauntlet which he called The Darth Vader Glove; he would slip it on and grab Gaston’s belly when the poor little kitty was just sitting there, minding his own business. Suddenly, Gaston would be at war with Darth Vader. And that fuckin’ cat pulled no punches. Just bit and clawed like fucking hell at the thick leather. He’d wrap his whole body around Stephen’s hand, using every ounce of strength to rip his fingers away at the knuckles. But the glove of Darth Vader was invulnerable to such attacks. This, believe it or don’t, was how Gatson and Stephen bonded. I, myself, proffered a less sadistic form of affection. When I sat on the sofa watching a movie, Gaston would climb up on my right shoulder and then fall slowly into my arms, belly up, and I would rub his furry white tummy. He sometimes drooled when being loved on. I miss that fuckin’ cat.
But anyway, the mice.
We soon found that our awesome housecat, loved by all trained by Stephen to be a total badass, was one king-hell mouse hunter. For several weeks I would wake periodically in the middle of the night to go take a piss; along the way, I would discover a bloody headless mouse torso outside my bedroom door. They had no fucking heads, either. What the hell? Did the goddamn cat eat them? Did he collect them? What did he do with their heads?!!!!!!!! And why did he leave them with me, why at my door? Did the other two guys who lived here enjoy such horrors as well? NO. Not even Bryan got the headless trophy mice. Maybe it was because the cat liked me? All those belly rubs?
Or maybe it was some kind of warning?
Was this his plan for Darth Vader?
I’ll never fucking know.
Over the course of several weeks, during Gaston’s reign of bloody terror, I clocked probably six headless mouse bodies. I thought: Shit, man . . . in the mouse world, Gaston is probably already an urban legend serial killer. Don’t go in THAT HOUSE or you’ll be squeaking without a head, man. One night Gaston lined up three at once and I full-on freaked when my bare toes slipped wetly into the lifeless, headless bodies. Stacy’s legacy was complete. He’d bred mice to be food for a Snake, and they’d somehow escaped with their lives, only to be torn apart by The King Of The Jungle. Or The Kingdom, I guess.
That was a productive night for Gaston, the mouse killer. But, man, it just sucks stepping on the remains at four in the goddamn morning.
When the body count started to dwindle and then finally stopped, we thought that Gaston’s killing spree was over and the remains were all gone. But then one day we noticed single mouse turds. One on the stove. One on the counter. And so on. It was always one turd. One turd only. There was at least one mouse still alive.
And the motherfucker was mocking us.
Come to think of it, this “survivor” was probably not a survivor at all. More likely, he’d come in from the cold and was not part of the original litter. I think he was a country mouse with townie aspirations. I suspected Gaston knew something about this mouse that we didn’t. He was a hired shitter.
One night after work, I found the house unusually quiet; both Stephen and Bryan were in their rooms. I went into my own private sanctum and flipped on the light. I put my bag on the loveseat and turned . . .
. . . and there on my freshly laundered white pillow was . . .
A small black turd.
One small single black mouse turd on my fucking pillow.
It was a message, a kiss-my-ass message. This goddamn mouse had crossed the line. The next day, I ranted to Stephen and Bryan about the turd. I got some sympathy, mostly from Bryan. Lots of laughs from Stephen. Gaston just kinda sat there, looking innocent. He couldn’t or wouldn’t catch up with Stealth Mouse, The Single Turd Fucker. So I decided It was up to me.
After the roomies had gone to sleep, I sat at the kitchen table smoking cigarettes, getting hopped up on Pepsi One, as my homicidal rage grew to a fever pitch. All the while, I caressed my Crossman .177 caliber air pistol with fixed sites and detachable stock. A serious pellet gun, pump action. The power of your shot was determined by how many times you pumped that sucker. Couple pumps was respectable. Ten pumps was deadly. And I had this motherfucker pumped up to eleven. I’d also duct taped a flashlight under the barrel for night hunting. Crude but effective. I was out for a mouse.
Mice are nocturnal, preferring the darkness for their mouse activities.
Like shitting on someone’s pillow.
All mice must fucking die.
Around then, I guess I must have have lost it. The ghost of Elmer Fudd lived in my heart and in my blood. I creeped about the house, on stealth assault, smelling my prey. The fucker was in the house. Had to be. He was about to take a shit on something. Be very, vewy quiet, I’m hunting Wabbits. I felt like Peter Weller in that movie about a giant killer rat, except this little guy was even worse. He was a defecator. And I was the defecator terminator.
ALL FUCKING MICE MUST FUCKING DIE . . .
Finally . . . a noise! A small noise, to be sure, but my Spider-Sense was tingling. Sounded like a little “pfft” of air. Then I heard it again. Over by the fireplace. Do mice fart? Of course they do. This one did. I slowly moved my hand to switch on the flashlight. No sudden movements now, Scott. Real slow, daddyo . . .
The light came on and I played the beam over to the fireplace.
Two beady little eyes glimmered back at me.
I aimed and squeezed the trigger and pop.
The pellet hit him dead bang.
Squeak, squeak, motherfucker.
I got up and snapped on the overhead light. Stealth Mouse was lying on the brick on front of the fire place, twitching a near death-rattle. But still alive. The pellet had entered his side, but didn’t go out the other. Oh dude, this is awful . . . what have I done . . . I killed the wabbit!!!
All the anger fell away in a senses-slurring comedown from hell and I felt terrible. This poor fucking mouse was lying there all pumped full of lead. I had to do something. Had to make this right somehow.
So I shot him in the back of his head, execution style.
Loaded carefully, pumped up ten times, put the barrel right against his fuzzy noggin, and did the deed without flinching. Tried not to look at those pleading beady eyes as I squeezed the trigger. Tossing and turning in my my bed later that night, all I could think was, I executed a mouse like Robert Deniro in GOODFELLAS and I’m going to hell.
I told Stephen and Bryan about it the next day.
Stephen laughed his ass off, of course. Bryan kind of giggled. The cat just sat there.
I spent over six years at 2305 B Montclaire Ave, and boy was it fun.
Scott Hiles, after his departure from The Kingdom. October 28th, 2005.