Flash Fiction Friday: Kreepy Krawly Pt. 3: Origins
by Alan M. Clark
I was born in 1973, a breech birth with thick callouses on the soles of my feet. “Your feet were dirty too,” my sister, Litty, recalled, “and you were all out of breath.”
“You wouldn’t think there’d be enough room in the womb to get up any speed,” I said, “but it seems like I was running from something.”
“Bad genes,” Litty said.
I can’t say what it was—memory doesn’t serve, but if what Litty said was true, some of them must have caught up with me.
I was home-schooled by my sister. Litty pretty much raised me. Her affection, which turned sexual early on, was all I got from family. I was not socialized. My father was missing in action in Vietnam, had been since 1972. Mom did “back work” in some of the richest homes in Los Angeles. I didn’t care for Litty near as much as I did her caresses. I didn’t care for Mom either, but she fed me.
When Litty wasn’t available to watch over me, I had to go with Mom, and she made me assist her in her work. She was employed by some of the richest people in the Los Angeles area, mostly old folks, to groom their backs. She squeezed and cleaned black heads and white heads, and expressed Sebaceous cysts.
Her work was disgusting. I hated the people she treated. They were loathsome, smelly old coots that no one loved. They looked at me like I was trash. At her ministrations, they moaned in pleasure and pain alike. If they hadn’t been rich, there wouldn’t have been anyone in their lives.
Their homes, though, compared to projects where we lived, were heaven. Would be heaven, that is, If I could’ve looked around, but Mom kept me close as her little helper. On command, I’d hand her hair pins, tweezers, wash cloths dampened with hot water, gauze; whatever she needed to get her job done. If I shied away, she’d yank me closer and get in my face and whisper a warning. “You pay attention and do as I say or you’ll be doing this job with your mouth.”
Once while at the Gulbranson home, she heated one of Eustice Gulbranson’s cysts with a hot wash cloth and expressed it so hard, a thick stream of smelly cheese jetted out of it into my right eye. I got pink eye and had to slather it with medicated goop and wear a patch for what seemed like months.
Litty told me about the Manson Family’s practice of crawling through the houses of the well-to-do, casing them for later robbery or murder. The Manson Family called it Creepy Crawling. Sometimes, they’d do it while the occupants were asleep in their beds. Sometimes they’d rearrange things or leave messages behind.
I liked the idea because I felt small and powerless in a big world full of people who did as they pleased with me. If I was to ever have things my way, as small as I was, I’d have to use stealth.
I was ten years old when I did my first Creepy Crawl. At the time, my favorite breakfast cereal was Kreepy Krisps, with toasted rice bats, skulls, and spiders. As I entered the Gulbranson home through a bathroom window at about 2:00 in the morning, I thought of myself as Kreepy Krawly, and the name stuck. While Eustice and her husband, Patrick, slept, I explored their entire estate, their 10,000 square foot home and the gardens. I swam naked in the pool. In the den, still naked, I turned the sound down and played Asteroids on their TV set for a couple of hours. Close to dawn, I took a large butcher knife from the kitchen, went to the bedroom and sat in a chair facing the bed and watched Eustice and Patrick sleep.
I kept hoping they’d awaken, open their eyes, see me, and freak out. I figured I could get away from them pretty easily, but feared Eustice would recognize me. Still, I lingered. I was excited by the danger. How long before they’d awaken? Would they awaken all at once and look in my direction or would it be gradual, giving me a chance to slip away? Was I really willing to risk being recognized? If Eustice seemed to recognize me, I could silence her quickly with the knife. Her husband, the old geezer, would never know why. He’d never catch me.
But he groaned and turned in my direction, sending me scampering from the room with my heart in my throat, an adrenalin high that I’ve struggle ever since to relive, coursing through me.
He wasn’t awakened, but I’d had enough for now. There would be time for further risks in the future.
In the den, I donned my clothes quickly, pulled the eye patch and ointment from my pocket, and looked for a good place to leave them. A life-sized bust of Nefertiti rested on a desk in the corner. I gooped up her right eye and slipped the eye patch over it, then made my way out of the house and headed for home.
I took nothing from the Gulbransons but a sense of power. For the next few weeks, I kept myself entertained by running endless scenarios in my head of their reaction to my visit. For the longest time, that was enough, but then it wasn’t and I needed more. I needed the adrenalin rush again and set about to devise a way of putting myself in sufficient danger to get it. I decided that the lives of others would mean nothing to me in the pursuit of that high.
Kreepy Krawly made his appearance in many homes over the next few years, but the conflict between a desire for the high and a reluctance to land in jail with my freedom taken away, kept me at odds with myself. No one died. I scared the hell out of Los Angeles, though.
By the time I was fifteen, I found out that Litty had given me HIV/Aids. Because of the way the disease was thought of back then, I saw it as a death sentence, and figured I didn’t have much to lose anymore. I decided it was time to risk everything, and that meant murder. Little did I know how good the medications for HIV/Aids would become, how long I’d live, and how the moment of that decision would lead to so many lives cut short. Once I’d started, there was no going back.
I’ve been on the run ever since, the callouses on my soul thickening by the day.
Art “Shadow Games” copyright © 1993 Alan M. Clark