Paladin Pizza in Central Lankville has been in business since 1972. They operate out of a mean, one-story building nestled in front of a defunct factory. The parking lot is cracked and worn and the sidewalk in front of the door has nearly returned to dirt. The windows are covered by weather-beaten cardboard and the lighted sign has been burned out every since I started living above the knives and puzzles shop across the street.
Finally, I had had enough. What the hell is up with this place? I aimed to find out.
I am Zach Keebaugh: Investigative Reporter.
I went in at lunchtime. The small, poorly-lit seating area was completely empty. Pieces of newspaper littered the floor. It felt like no heat had been on in the place for ages. There was no counter– merely a ragged chasm in the brown paneling that offered a view into the kitchen. A pulpy middle-aged face suddenly appeared in the breach.
“Let’s have a pie, make it a large and a steak sandwich too,” I called out. The pulpy face nodded very slightly and then disappeared. I took a seat and looked over the ancient laminated placemat. There was a little maze on there– you had to lead the pepperoni through the maze to the pizza on the other side. That was cool, that occupied me for a little while.
It was then that I became aware of complete and total silence. Nothing moved through the chasm. It was the absence of sound that stunned me, it was an absence of life as well. They have killed all their customers it suddenly occurred to me. The ovens are inoperable. There will be no pizza. There will be only the end. This is your denouement Keebaugh, I thought.
“Yo,” I called out. It was desperation, more than anything else. The pulpy, expressionless face returned. “Yo, are you making that pizza, that steak sandwich?” I started backing away towards the door– I could feel the thin strands of sunlight as I drew closer. The pulpy face said nothing. Relax, Keebaugh I thought. I breathed.
And then a bag was pushed through the chasm. The bottom was covered in grease. But there was something inside. It was the sub (and, as I unexpectedly found out later, the pizza too). They had shoved the pizza into a paper bag. It was eldritch, this pizza, made by phantoms.
I threw a twenty at the chasm. Some change somehow appeared.
“Enjoy your meal,” the chasm said. The pulpy figure was gone. I looked at the chasm. It grew suddenly grey outside. Nothing further was coming, I knew it. I thought about approaching, thought about trying to get a glimpse into the kitchen. But there was just no way, man. It was over. I had to accept it. The chasm had accepted it.
The pizza was good though. And so was the sub.
That’s what you should take away from this, man.
Director Daniel Haller’s 1970 cult classic, “The Dunwich Horror,” an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft short story, stars a mustachioed Dean Stockwell as Wilbur Whateley, a man with a plan and an eye on a book. The book in question is the infamous and oft-used manual for summoning spirits with black magic, the Necronomicon . Enter Sandra Dee, as the impressionable, pretty-young-thing who falls under the spell of the mysterious Whateley, much to her detriment. Working in her university’s library near closing time, she is easily manipulated into handing over the priceless Necronomicon to Whateley because she “trust(s) him,” despite the pleas of a concerned friend. As viewers will soon find out, this means that all hell will literally break loose.
Add in a few crazed hippies cavorting in a fever dream, a small town in the middle of nowhere, hooded occultists, a demonic pregnancy, and you’ve got yourself a good time. In honor of H.P. Lovecraft’s 125 birthday, NecronomiCon Providence and Frank Difficult Presents have collaborated with a screening of the film along with music from local bands and live performances during the movie, (à la Rocky Horror). Audience members are encouraged to dress up in their finest black robes. An entry fee of five dollars is amazingly low and well worth the expense – help bring back the “Old Ones!”
I’m a bit saccharine and that’s not subject to change so…I’ll put my ear to the floorboards in the hopes that I’ll learn something – just how does everyone else do it? Walk hand in hand, knowing or at least pretending to know a secret language reserved for two (?)
Is that obsessive behavior? Have I lost my touch? Is that obsessive behavior lost in my touch?
Here’s a plan and you should follow my lead, because I’m bored and you’re depleted and somehow we’ve been reminded of our separate sadness – Look, I’m learning!
I’ll draw a square around my ankles and live in it. I’ll roll the chalk to you so you can fit yourself into a circle – I know you’re capable! Now toss the chalk as far away from you as possible, past paved parking lots and playgrounds, over hills and through various cities – (if your arm is good). Now look at me.
Occasionally, you may want to erase that one continuous line you’ve drawn and reshape the constraints – your own version of geometry. In some instances, you may even feel comfortable enough to connect your lines to mine and I may, at some times, even want to erase a line and extend it towards you myself. I’ll do this because I’ll want to help, because I’m like that. I’m impulsive in the best and worst ways. You’ll lose track of the ever changing blueprint of your shape and feel good for a moment, finding pleasure in the uncertainty. I’ll move an inch to the left of my slowly dissolving square, tiptoeing like the stealthiest feline but kick a nearby pebble in the process.
You’ll snap out of your daze and quickly retreat, tethering yourself to the absolute radius of your enclosure. You’ll wag a finger at me and I’ll have nothing to say.
Last year, Berenice Cradles and her boyfriend Josh Wilson-Shires paid $26,000 for a three bedroom, 1,600 square-foot Lankville Northern Regional Style house in the Snowy Lake Area. After growing up in the nearby Eastern Hills, attending Lankville State Easier University, then living and making music in the Islands for two years, Cradles and Wilson-Shires came back to Lankville, where they have become active in a movement of young preservationists bent on restoring the nation’s old homes and buildings.
“The new Lankville Dream is not about owning a giant mansion or a fancy Neptune but owning something that matters more because it’s accessible,” said Cradles, as we sat over Apple Cider Toast and salmon at Flour to the People Bakery while Wilson-Shires sat very quietly and obediently nearby. “I think the whole Lankville Dream is really shifting because young people are out there changing Lankville.”
At age 26, Cradles’ life is a sort of marketing campaign for Lankville. This summer, after wrapping up a series of episodes for the Lankville Broadcasting Company in which their refinished home was shown repeatedly at different angles, Cradles and Wilson-Shires were married, becoming Lankville’s First Couple of Historic Preservation. The event had its own hashtag– #lankvilleloveweddingwithcake, mirroring the name of their own recently founded company “Lankalove Developments”, which restores old homes, commercial buildings and pebbly lots.
As she wolfed down some more Apple Cider Toast (and added some brie to our repast), I asked Cradles what Lankville’s new slogan should be.
“Lankville: Comeback Nation,” she said, instantly. “Oh my God, I’ve thought about slogans for months and months and months.”
“She has,” added Wilson-Shires in a quiet, feeble manner.
According to census data analyzed by The Lankville Daily News, from 2000 to 2015 the number of college graduates between the ages of 22 and 30 in Lankville jumped 45%, more than in the Islands or the Distant Peninsulas. Part of attracting that younger demographic involves programs like the Lankville Salvage and Love Project, which provides loans for individuals and businesses to improve downtown properties, many of which have been ravaged by neglect or challenges.
“A lot of people look at these old structures and think that they’re just rotted old places full of rats and vermin and bum’s piss,” noted Lankville Re-Use Project CEO Dawn Elliott-Cryoden, aged 27. “But millennials see possibilities and so they tear out everything and put up new walls and solar panels and little gardens and they clean up the bum’s piss and what you’re left with is development. It’s really a new movement.”
Upon my arrival in Lankville, I landed on the basement couch of Nora Jeans-McGriff, a 26-year old who, in 2012, ended up in Lankville after biking up from the Islands. She had just been planning to stay for a few months while doing a work exchange at a wood shop in the Middle Outlands, but her plans changed after she bought a house at a foreclosure auction for $1,000. The house isn’t livable yet (it was partially destroyed by numerous challenges, a Super Tornado, and bum’s piss), but she’s been slowly fixing it up, adding a green roof, gutters made of recycled stiffened cardboard and insulation made of pressed trash and with help from handy friends in town.
In the meantime, she pays $150 a month to rent a room in a communal house in the Middle Outlands and waitstaffperson’s at Emoti-Flan, an artisanal custard cafe.
“I make a lot more money here than I did in the Islands,” noted Jeans-McGriff. “And I can save a lot here– I didn’t work at all for four months! I just traveled, played music, made graffiti art, raised nine chickens, collected rainwater, fed some bum’s at a community kitchen, counseled children, built reusable water bottles out of found trash, grew tree fruit, started a bicycle laboratory, purchased some vacant lots, and hung out with my boyfriend!”
Starting a business is also less daunting in Lankville. One day, I visited PAO QUOTIDIAN (owner’s capitals), a worker-owned bakery in the Great Northern Mountain Area opened last year by first-time business owners Tori Loops, Allison Hunter-Awnings, Emily Freedmont-Westerbrook and Kim Fields, all in their late 20’s. They raised $40,000 to start the bakery from an online funding platform and now pay $400 monthly on a graduated rental lease for their 1900 square foot space. The artisanal bread market is not saturated in Lankville; business is brisk.
Loops, 28, originally from Hoover Island, got her master’s degree in performance studies and Gender Musings from Eastern Hills Easier University. After graduation, she worked sporadically as a graphic designer, co-operative farmer and a waitstaffperson at a cupcake cafe but decided she wanted to live in Lankville where she could do work that “mattered”.
“I’m glad we’re past the point where the Islands are the only places to go and be successful and make your mark on the world,” said Loops (rated about a 7 out of 10- 8 out of 10 if she ever wore a bra). “There are a lot of places in Lankville to have opportunity that are a little more accessible.”
Smith Bryce Phillips agrees. He lived in Lankville until he was 22, when he moved to the Islands. Last year, at age 27, he moved into a house in Lankville with his homosexual lover.
“I couldn’t really make a name for myself in the Islands. I didn’t get any attention. So, I came back to Lankville. The energy feels right in Lankville now,” he told me at just desserts cafe (owner’s lack of capitals), where we met for brie, cupcakes, and pumpkins.
Right next door, Smith rents a storefront for $500 a month. He hasn’t disclosed the name or purpose of his store yet (currently, a sheet of brown raw treeless “paper” covering the front door reads #MYSTERIOUSSTORE, but he imagines it will serve as a community bike space, used gay bookshop and pottery learning center. While he fixes up the place, it stores his massive sculptures, several interconnected repurposed tractor wheels that take up nearly 3/4 of the space. He calls the sculpture HUGGINGLANKVILLE.
“People are really excited about the mysterious storefront,” noted Phillips, as he smeared an artisanal free-range pumpkin with brie. “The idea of a completely unknown storefront is something new, something they haven’t seen before. Every day, at least ten to fifteen people come up and ask what the store is going to be- try to guess, give me suggestions. It’s inspirational. I wouldn’t have got that kind of attention in the Islands.”
“Millennials have that can-do, entrepreneurial spirit, said area psychologist Winifred P. Temple. “It’s relatively easy to be in the Now,” noted Temple, “but how many of us can live in the Next? Millennials can, and do.”
As just one example, she pointed to the historic Lanqueduct that runs along Old Pondicherry Avenue in the Western Lankville Plains. The aging structure, built by the ancient Lankans who first settled in the area, still services many longtime residents with fresh, slightly colored water.
Janice Tippitt-Toes, friend and sometime “physical sharer” of Berenice Cradles, has big plans for the Lanqueduct. “It will be a mixed-use development. I envision an artisan youth hostel, a Men’s Feelings Center, and an urban park that you navigate with a network of webs and pulleys,” she said, beaming with an almost off-putting confidence as she sipped a soy Lankichino near Pondicherry Square.
Despite the growth of the millennial demographic in Lankville, the nation’s population is still in decline. “The reality is that people do tend to move to the Islands when they start drawing a good salary,” noted Eastern Hills Easier University Lankville Professor E. Talbot Bonds. “We’re still dealing with the reality of the challenge problems, the tenting murder epidemic, super insects, eldritch horrors– the list goes on and on.”
But Cradles still believes that Lankville will prevail.
“We’re right at the dawning of a new age,” she said, after giving her husband the okay to consume an unadorned bagel. “So many groups are starting– I’ve started so many groups. Just while we were talking, Brock, we closed a deal to buy 22 vacant lots in Lankville. We’ll turn them into co-operative farms and composting stations. It’s a labor of love, Brock. A labor of love.”
Photo credit: Catrin Lloyd-Bollard
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS SEPTEMBER 15, 2015!
Originally posted on Get Well Soon :
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS = September 15th! Why the 15th? Because it isn’t the 11th (?) I don’t know – just keep them coming! Artwork, writing, photography wanted – if you can make it relate to the theme of “Get Well Soon,” even better! Many thanks to those who have submitted already and to those that are about to!
BOSTON HASSLE + THE LANKVILLE DAILY NEWS: Five of Lankville’s most captivating women sat down with The Lankville Daily News to share their thoughts on how local men disgust them. It’s a fascinating time to be alive.
I am an emotional woman by nature. Therefore, I could not stand the love and companionship of a man who was unable to share these emotions that often explode within me and which I feel so deeply. To make me happy, a man would have to be able to make me laugh when I am happy, to sob uncontrollably with me when I am sad, and to share my often senseless grief with me with I grieve.
4.) LE NORA ST. JAMES, Jungle Movie Actress
I am really disgusted by men who hold up hour glasses and are like– “OK, time’s up, honey.” Gosh, I can’t stand that. I want a man who doesn’t worry about time, who ignores times, who lets the day unfold naturally, even if it means missing the boat back to the mainland and having to stay with some weird island people that don’t have any teevees. That’s OK, though, because, like, then you get the adventure of staying with island people and a story you can tell later when you get back to the mainland. I also don’t like men who aren’t adventurous. If I want to go into a dark cave, why shouldn’t I be able to? I don’t need some man telling me, “no, no no.” All I want to hear is yes. That’s just my most favorite word!
3.) ROBIN BROX- Businesswoman, Founder and CEO, Brox Uncolored Condiments
I drive 100 MPH everywhere and I don’t stop for any god damn traffic lights. If a man is scared by that, then he better stick to the fucking kiddie rides. And I don’t like prudes. If you don’t want to even broach the subject of rallying up enough pelvic torque to take a woman to a place where heaven knows no fucking bounds, then let’s call the whole god damn thing off right now. What am I in this shit for– the conversation? Forget it. I gotta’ look after these god damn uncolored condiments, I don’t need any of that garbage. The first time some asshole squirts some yellow mustard on a $20 tie is the next time I get another customer. They’re coming out of the god damn woodwork. They just love these god damn uncolored condiments. They plunk down ten grand just to hear my ass stand at a lectern and natter on about them. Who the fuck knows? Is anybody really happy? Get out of here with these horseshit questions, for Christ’s sake.
2.) DR. GINA TORREZ-KEEBLER, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Southern Lankville Plains
I don’t care for men who are crude or violent. They may call themselves he-men but as far as I’m concerned, they are merely overgrown juvenile delinquents. The Lankvillian male tends to confuse bad manners, sloppiness and sexual congress with virility. A real man is gentle, kind, effete even. He does not have to go around proving it by cursing, working out with free weights or having intercourse. He can prove it just by putting a single white rose in a vase on a table and creating a lovely, spare tableau or by hanging a fashionable drapery. That’s what interests me and I find men to be most useful for.
1.) SHELLEY REPORTS, Economist, Writer
I guess I’m a little on the tubby side– just a little. So, a man would have to accept that. I have a strange, high-pitched voice as well. There’s that. And my feet make an eldritch squeaking noise when I walk. They’ve never been able to figure it out– it doesn’t matter what kind of shoes I wear. I don’t have to be wearing any shoes at all. My feet just squeak. It’s odd. I also don’t have any teeth.
So, I guess I would like a man who is accepting of all those things and still finds me beautiful. I am beautiful, it’s just those problems that I outlined above. I want a man who tells me I’m beautiful and who sends me pre-printed greeting cards that say, “YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL”. That would be nice.
In terms of what disgusts me? Probably just foreigners.
I had a great time revisiting body painting the other day. Photographer friend, Eric Frazer, got some amazing shots (as always), make-up artist Kim Lavallee primed our model to perfection, and model KJ was really patient for her first time under the brush! Old paintings I made of mums and dahlias fueled this speedy session while creating a matching backdrop as well. It truly was a team effort.