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Vandal Eyes


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Vandal Eyes


  Sean Sandulak

  Copyright 2014 Sean Sandulak

  Names, characters, places, and events in this work are used fictitiously or satirically, and are the product of the author’s overactive imagination. Any resemblance to actual locations, incidents or persons, living, dead or otherwise, is a complete coincidence and the product of your imagination. The characters of Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton, while loosely based on their real world namesakes, are likewise entirely fictitious.

  VANDAL EYES

  Copyright © 2014 by Sean Sandulak

  All Rights Reserved. This work may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the author.

  A Verbatim Gibberish Publication

  To read this and other stories online for free visit seansandulak.com

  ISBN 978-0-9936982-0-0 

  First Edition July, 2014

  This title is not recommended for young children due to alcohol use, the brief appearance of a dead human body, and mature themes.

  Foreword

  For the uninitiated, VandalEyes refers to the act of adorning everyday objects with those little plastic googly eyes you find in craft stores. The practice first came to my attention in early 2012 when Bonnie, along with Kiala Kazebee, Veronica Belmont, and Felicia Day, began the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club. As a consequence of those Hangouts, I started following Bonnie's Twitter feed, and later found Anne's account and the #VandalEyes hashtag. The random nonsense there eventually spawned its own website, vandaleyes.net, to which I may have submitted a few pictures.

  When Anne Wheaton and Bonnie Burton posed for Cupcake Quarterly Magazine in May of 2013, they made the mistake of posting pictures of themselves in retro hairstyles on their Twitter accounts. I immediately photoshopped those pictures to look like a noir book cover and sent it in to the VandalEyes tumblr. Later, when I looked at that picture again, I thought that it ought to have a story to go with it. This is that story.

  You've seen them everywhere. Those little plastic googly eyes that turn everyday objects into adorable faces. Maybe you've seen them stuck to a poster, turning a regular photograph into an amusing parody of itself, but all this time, I bet you never suspected the sinister history of this simple folk art stable. Now the true story can be told. It's a tale of friendship, crafting supplies…and murder.

  Over My Dead Body

  Bonnie waved goodbye as the shopkeeper flipped the sign in the window from open to closed. She'd spent more time than she'd realized rummaging through the curiosity shop, looking for the perfect items to add to her collection. The sun had already slipped below the horizon, and a fog was rolling in, bringing with it a chill. She cinched her jacket close around herself to keep out the damp and started walking.

  The streets of San Francisco were nearly abandoned with everyone already home for the evening. Bonnie lived only a few blocks away, so she decided to walk home despite her sore feet and the creepy sensation rising up the back of her neck. Looking over her shoulder, she had the feeling that she wasn't alone, but she convinced herself that it was just the cold air and the empty sidewalks. Nevertheless, she quickened her pace.

  Without warning, a blood-curdling scream tore through the darkness. Bonnie wanted to run, but there was something in the sound of the voice that gripped her and wouldn't let her go. She crept cautiously to the entrance of the alleyway from where the shriek had come and peered around the corner. A black cat shot out of the mist, tipping over a garbage can with a loud crash. As it raced past Bonnie, she couldn't help but say, “That's not a good sign.”

  “Hello?” A woman's voice called out nervously from the alley. “Is someone there?”

  “Are you all right?” asked Bonnie. “I heard a scream.” She could see the woman as a dimly outlined silhouette in the weak light that filtered in from the street. She appeared to be alone, so Bonnie moved into the alley to get a better look. The woman was about her age, but her hair was longer and lighter, and had turned frizzy from the humidity. She didn't look up as Bonnie approached. Her eyes were focused on something on the ground, hidden in the mist.

  Bonnie moved closer. Lying on his back at the woman's feet was a dead man. He was small, well dressed and neat, but quite clearly recently deceased. Patches of skin were missing from his face, and for some inexplicable reason, there was a sock on his left hand. A pair of googly eyes had been stuck to the man's closed eyelids, giving him a comical stare despite the gore. Bonnie stifled a laugh and asked, “Friend of yours?”

  “I've never seen him before,” she answered. “I literally just tripped over him. It looks like his face has been chewn off.”

  “That's probably from the rats,” said Bonnie. “He looks like he's been lying there awhile… wait, chewn?”

  “Yes, it's a perfectly acceptable word.”

  “No,” said Bonnie, “I'm pretty sure you made it up.”

  “I'm bringing it back,” the woman insisted.

  “Back from where?” asked Bonnie. “It has to exist before you can bring it back.”

  “Stop trying to confuse me with your logic,” she answered. “A woman can dream, can't she?”

  “I think we're getting off topic,” said Bonnie. She pointed to the man on the ground. “Dead guy. Remember?”

  Bonnie bent over to get a better look at the man. He was lying in a puddle of water despite the fact that it hadn't rained in days. In addition to the bites, he seemed to have red marks like hickeys all over his face. A business card poked out of his jacket pocket, so Bonnie reached down to grab it by the edges.

  “Eww, don't touch him,” said the woman.

  “I was a goth,” said Bonnie, “so I'm used to being around dead things. Hell, this guy wouldn't even qualify for the worst date I've been on.”

  Bright red and blue flashing lights filled the alley as a police car pulled up and stopped at the alley entrance. The two officers got out and started walking toward the women. On seeing the body, they both drew their guns. “Don't move. Keep your hands where I can see them.”

  Bonnie dropped the card and stood up. “It's all right, officers,” said Bonnie. “We found him like this.” She stumbled slightly as her foot landed on something hard and brittle that snapped as she stepped on it.

  The cop slapped a cuff on one wrist and pulled her other arm around roughly behind her back. “Save it for the judge, sister. All I know is I've got a dead body and two people standing over it. In my book that makes you the prime suspects.”

  His partner had finished cuffing the other woman and put her in the back seat of the squad car beside Bonnie. “This is all a mistake,” she said. “We didn't do anything. You're going to be sorry when my husband hears about this.” The officers ignored her and went to talk to another officer who had just arrived, leaving Bonnie alone with the strange woman.

  Curious, Bonnie asked, “Who's your husband?”

  “Sparks McGee.”

  “Oh my god, I loved him on that show,” said Bonnie. “I must have watched every episode ten times. Do you think I could get his autograph?”

  “Err… sure,” she said. “I'll use my one phone call to ask him to send you a signed head shot.”

  “Oh yeah, right. Sorry. Probably not the best time to ask.”

  “That's not a bad idea though,” she said, “me calling my husband, I mean.”

  “Do you really think he can help?” asked Bonnie.

  “Well,” she said, “he is kind of a big deal. Unfortunately he's in Europe this week or he'd fly up here himself.”

  “I'm sure he'll have some slick Hollywood lawyer down here to bail us out in no time,” said Bonnie.

  “I'm sorry you got dragged into this,” said the woman. “Come to think of it, I'm sorry I got me dragged into this.”

 
That's all right,” said Bonnie. “You'd be surprised how often things like this happen to me. I'm Bonnie Burton, by the way.”

  “I'm Anne,” she said. “Anne Wheaton.”

  What’s in the bag?

  “Let's start at the beginning,” said the police detective. “What were the two of you doing in that alley?”

  Anne rubbed her wrists from where the cuffs had chaffed her skin and took a sip of water from the bottle on the interrogation room table. “I was in town for a hairdresser's convention,” she said. “You have to keep up with all the latest styles if you want to keep your clients. Anyway, they're doing some fascinating new things with gel manicures…”

  “Why don't you skip ahead to the part where you're walking down the alley?”

  “You know,” said Anne, “even a hard-boiled, true-grit kind of man like yourself can benefit from a regular nail regimen.”

  “The alley, Mrs. Wheaton.”

  “Right. I was going to meet some of the girls from the convention for drinks, but I got lost. The street I was on was closed for construction, so I thought I’d cut through the alley and catch a cab on the other side. That’s when I found the body.”

  ”And I was on my way home from shopping when I heard a scream and went to investigate,” said Bonnie. ”That's when I found her.”

  The detective frowned. “So the two of you have never met before tonight?”

  Anne and Bonnie looked at each other for a moment before they answered. “No,” said Anne.

  “Nope,” said Bonnie. “Never.”

  “And neither of you had ever met…” The detective checked the file in front of him. “Neither of you had ever met Mr. Gasparo Floyd before.”

  Anne shook her head.

  “I think I would have remembered,” said Bonnie. “Especially with a name like that. Who was he anyway?”

  “He was a food critic for one of the local papers,” said the detective.

  “Well, there you go,” said Anne. “He probably gave some hothead chef a bad review and paid the price for it. If there’s nothing else…”

  She stood up to leave, but the detective motioned for her to sit back down. “Not so fast. We still have some more questions.”

  Anne shrugged and sat down. “Look, Detective… uh, what was your name?”

  “Detective Sergeant Grammar,” he answered.

  “Okay, Detective Sergeant. This has been fun and all, but as soon as my lawyer gets here, we’re leaving.”

  “Don't think your famous husband's going to get you out of this one, Mrs. Wheaton.”

  “Actually he's not that famous. He tried to charm his way out of a speeding ticket and almost got arrested for solicitation. It was all a misunderstanding. We don't talk about it. He does have a very good lawyer though.” Anne mimed a pair of pistols and made a pew pew sound as she pretended to gun the detective down. He only scowled in reply.

  “Please don’t point your finger pistols at the nice police detective,” said Bonnie.

  “Oh, right,” said Anne, folding her hands in her lap. “Sorry.”

  “In the meantime,” Grammar continued, “why don’t we talk about this.” The detective pulled Bonnie’s shopping bag from where it had sat out of sight under the table. He reached in and pulled out a small figurine which he slid across the table towards Anne. She flinched as it skidded to a stop in front of her, but Bonnie reached over and picked it up. It was a taxidermy mouse dressed as a pirate. She straightened the tiny tri-corner hat before setting him down on the table in front of her.

  “It's okay,” said Bonnie. “He's dead.”

  “How does it being dead make it okay?” asked Anne.

  “Well… he doesn't bite.”

  “Great,” said Anne. “I'll console myself that at least I didn't get bitten by a mouse with an eye patch and peg leg when I'm dying from The Plague.”

  “That almost never happens anymore,” said Bonnie. She turned the mouse so that it faced Anne. “I call him Pepper Jack Sparrow. Arrgh, matey! I don’t need a treasure map to find yer booty. Arrgh!”

  “Are you two trying to make a case for insanity?” asked Detective Grammar.

  Just then, a thin man with a wrinkled suit burst into the room. “All right, this interrogation is over. Not another word, ladies. Now, unless you plan to charge my clients, we’ll be leaving.”

  Detective Grammar stood up and tossed the bag across the table. “No charges for now, but they are still persons of interest in our investigations. We’ll have to insist that both of them remain in the city for the time being.”

  Bonnie snatched up the bag and stuffed Pepper Jack Sparrow back inside before following Anne and the lawyer out of the interrogation room. After picking up their belongings, they walked in silence until they were standing alone in the elevator. “I'm going to assume neither of you is a cold-blooded killer,” said the lawyer as he handed each of them a business card. “My advice is to go home and get some sleep. Don't talk to anybody. I'm sure the forensics people will have this all sorted out in a day or so. Mrs Wheaton, you should call your husband at your earliest convenience. He was quite insistent on that point.”

  “He must be freaking out,” said Anne. “I'll call him right away.”

  Once they had reached the lobby of the police station, the lawyer turned to face them. “Now, try not to get arrested again, I need my beauty sleep.” With a flourish, he disappeared out the front doors and into the fog.

  “What an odd little man,” said Anne.

  “I never was one for doing what I was told,” said Bonnie, “and I don't trust the police to clear our names. I think we should investigate this case ourselves.”

  “I don't see how that could possibly go wrong,” said Anne. “I'm in. What should we do first?”

  “Well, I need a drink,” said Bonnie, “and I know just the place. If we hurry, we can still make last call.”

  “I like where this is headed,” said Anne. “Lead on, my new friend.”

  Talk to the Hand

  “Tell me again,” said Anne. “Why are we going to a craft store?” It had been a long night of fitful sleep, and now Bonnie had dragged her out of her hotel room before she could even have a cup of coffee.

  “We need to talk to owner,” she said. “Nobody knows more about googly eyes than Archie. He's the biggest independent craft supplier in the Bay Area. If anyone knows who bought those eyes, it'll be him. Besides I have to pick up a few things. You know, kill two birds with one stone.”

  “Just so we're clear,” said Anne. “There's no actual dead birds in there, right?”

  “No,” answered Bonnie, “That's a different store.”

  “All right.”

  Bonnie was about to open the door, but suddenly stopped. “Wait, there’s one more thing. He's incredibly shy, so he'll only talk to people through a ventriloquist's dummy. Okay let's go…”

  Anne hesitated. “Umm…”

  “What?” asked Bonnie.

  “Wait a minute. How do we know he's not the killer? He's got access to googly eyes and there's the creepy dummy thing. He could be Norman Bates for all we know.” Anne stabbed at Bonnie with an imaginary knife. “Eek, eek, eek, eek.”

  “Archie?” said Bonnie, incredulous. “No, he's a sweetheart. He wouldn't hurt a fly.” With that, she disappeared into the store. Anne shrugged and followed her in.

  “Hey, look who it is.” Archie stood behind the counter. On one hand was a dummy's as promised. The other hand held a portable vacuum which he switched off as the women approached. It was the dummy who spoke. “I haven't seen you in ages. Come in, come in. Don't mind the mess.”

  “What happened?” asked Bonnie.

  “Damn kids. Can't keep their hands to themselves. One of them opened up a container full of glitter and then sneezed. Now we'll never get it all cleaned up.”

  “Well, glitter is the herpes of the craft world,” said Bonnie.

  “You probably shouldn't use that in the advertising copy,” said Anne. “I
'd go with 'It's the gift that keeps on giving.' or something like that.”

  “Who's your friend?” asked the dummy.

  “Oh, sorry,” said Bonnie. “Anne, this is Archie and his friend Carlos. Guys, this is Anne. We're being accused of murder together.”

  “Wow, if I had a nickel for every time I've been accused of murder…” said Carlos. “Oh, wait. You're serious.”

  “Dead serious,” said Bonnie. “That's why were here. When we found the body, the killer had placed two googly eyes on the victim's eyelids. I'm hoping you can tell me who bought some googly eyes recently. They were the extra-large size.”

  “That's easy,” said Carlos. “There was only one person to buy the one-inch googly eyes in the past week. I'd never seen him in the store before, but I recognized him from his newspaper column. It was Gasparo Floyd, the food critic.”

  “But that's the victim!” cried Anne.

  Archie stared up at the ceiling, an uncomfortable look on his face. Bonnie cupped a hand over her mouth and whispered to Anne, “You have to talk to the dummy.”

  “But that's the victim!” Anne repeated to Carlos with exactly the same enthusiasm.

  “Sorry that I couldn't be more help,” said Carlos.

  That's okay,“ said Bonnie. ”It's not your fault. I guess I might as well get a few things while I'm here. Anne, why don't you look around. I might be a while.“

  Anne l browsed through the paint, faux fur, and bits of styrofoam with disinterest. The craft store had been a dead end, and they were no closer to catching the killer. But just when things were looking their worst, she found something that made her heart race and her eyes go wide.

  I’ve Got Something in My Eye

  “Welcome to Cornea-Copia. How may I help you?” The disinterested receptionist eyed them wearily.

  “We need to see the doctor,” said Bonnie. “As soon as possible.”

  “We have a Dr. Wun, and a Dr. Too,” she said. “Which did you want to see?”

  “Which is better, Wun or Too?” asked Anne.

  “They're about the same,” said the receptionist.

  “It's Dr. Wun we need to speak to,” said Bonnie.

  “I see. Do you have an appointment?”

  “No, it's a personal matter,” said Bonnie. “We just need a few minutes to ask him some questions.”

  The receptionist scowled at her. “He's very busy, but I'll see what I can do.”

  While they waited, Anne and Bonnie picked over the selection of frames. “So the card in the Gasparo's pocket was for this optometrist?” asked Anne. “How do we know he didn't just have an astigmatism or something?”

  “I'll admit it's not much of a lead,” said Bonnie, “but it's the only one we have left.”

  After a few minutes, a sour-faced man with a white coat came out. “I was told you wanted to see me. What's this about?”

  “Hello, doctor,” said Anne. “Do you know a man named Gasparo Floyd?”

  “Why yes, as a matter of fact I do. He was in here a couple of days ago to buy some new sunglasses.”

  “But you haven't seen him since then?”

  “A group of us were supposed to meet him last night. He had promised something extra special for our monthly dinner, but he never
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