I can stare a werewolf in the face and laugh. I can step up to a vampire and shake his cold, undead hand without trembling. No problem. I've sat through every horror movie that's ever come to our town and visited dozens of Halloween haunted houses. Monsters don't even make me twitch. But clowns creep me out big time.
That's the opening from the first story in the book. "Mr. HooHaa!" is definitely creepy. Not all of the stories are scary. Some are funny, and a couple are best described as unusual. Here's a look at one of the strangest stories in the book, "Throwaways."
It's a good thing the garbage men didn't have one of those trucks that crushes everything. Of course, I never figured things would go that far. When Dad tossed me into the can and carried me out to the curb, I thought he'd just let me stay there for a little while. It's not like I'd done anything really bad. All I did was play with his autographed Yankees baseball. I hardly got it a tiny bit smudged.
Yup, I wrote a story about a kid who gets tossed in the trash. Believe it or not, it gets even weirder after the garbage truck arrives. As I mentioned, there are some funny stories, too. Here's the opening of the title story, "The Curse of the Campfire Weenies."
There are three things I hate to hear from an adult. First, "This will be so much fun." When you hear that, you know it won't. Second, "This is for your own good." No it isn't. Finally, and worst of all, "Mr. Dwerkin is coming with us."
That third sentence hit me as I was climbing into the back of our van, along with my little brother Rupert.
"What?" I looked at Dad, hoping I'd heard him wrong.
"I just found out he loves camping, so I invited him along." Dad said. "Don't act so grumpy, Sarah. We have lots of room."I looked at Mom. She smiled and said, "The poor man is so lonely."
Yeah. For good reason.
Mr. Dwerkin lived next door to us. He was an expert. On everything. You name it, he knew the best and only way to do it. Sometimes, I walked all the way around the block just to make sure I didn't run into him. I watched out the window as he dragged piles of camping gear from his garage. He had an awful lot of stuff for one person.
"This stinks," Rupert muttered.
I nodded my head and pinched my nose. That was another thing about Mr. Dwerkin. He smelled like lunch meat.
I'm pleased with this collection, and proud of the stories. I'm pretty sure my fans will gobble everything up. As always, the book includes a section where I explain how I got the idea for each story. I've listed the table of contents below, along with a sentence or two about each story.
Find out the real reason why clowns are scary.
"You Are What You Eat"
It all begins with baby food. (And, no, the food is not made out of babies. I might be twisted, but I'm not sick. Well, not THAT sick.)
A venture into magical scariness.
"The Tunnel of Terror"
Is it better to go through a scary ride with your eyes open or closed? You might not like the answer.
"A Nice Clean Place"
A green story. It involves emissions, though not of the carbon dioxide sort. Think in terms of things that pigeons produce.
I originally intended this for an anthology about baseball. Though it takes place during a game, it really isn't about baseball. It's about life.
Pure horror fun.
"The Curse of the Campfire Weenies"
Pure silliness. I sure hope all the Girl Scouts out there have a good sense of humor. If not, my s'more is cooked.
Cats, leprechauns—what's not to like.
"The Unforgiving Tree"
As you may have guessed, I started with the title. The rest was easy.
It was a lot of fun thinking up ways that the kids could trash a Halloween party.
"Eat a Bug"
My own take on a classic theme.
Totally surreal, in a fun way.
"Touch the Bottom"
We're driven to find the bottom of the lake. (Yikes—that sounds like a car accident. My bad.)
"The Genie of the Necklace"
I almost held this one out because it's pretty dark.
"Alexander Watches a Play"
Is it curtains for him?
Short, but sweet. (The story, not the title character.) A complete morality tale in 410 words.
Classic SF of the sort you'd find in magazine in the 60s. To my mind, this is a good thing.
"Eat Your Veggies"
Moms know what they are talking about.
Radix malorum est cupiditas.
We all know the eternal parental warning—"I'm counting to three." Ever wonder what would happen if a parent actually reached three?
Sweet revenge. Another story I thought might be too dark.
"The Soda Fountain"
This one has a nostalgic feel, though it never gets syrupy.
Don't assume I dislike all allergists.
Another short, fun romp.
"Don't Ever Let it Touch the Ground"
Spookiness in a patriotic wrapper.
A tiny morsel with a nice ending.
"Head of the Class"
Classrooms are such a great setting for horror.
My philosophy degree finally pays off.
"Hop to It"
What's a Weenies book without a couple bug stories?
"Nothing Like a Hammock"
In which I weave a tangled web.
A piercing tale that will not leave you dangling.
Traditional horror, inspired by Stephen King's "The Mangler."
Who'd have thought a simple drink of water could cause so much trouble?
Too cool to sully with a description. Trust me. Just read it.