Murders, suicides, and brutal savagery claims more lives than you may think. With over hundreds of thousands of lives claimed every year, its an indisputable fact that it’s not uncommon for heated arguments to lead to heated death. While this is not just an American thing, it’s a very real horror, a very real reality that permeates American society.
While most fiction create fictitious worlds to distract from the brutal reality, Real American Horror dares to do the opposite. Deadman’s Tome Real American Horror dares to explore the dark underbelly of American lives. Every story is based on real life events, based on truths that are much more horrific than anything you could make up. Crib-side murder suicides, Zika viruses, torture, abduction, and meth addicts. This grim anthology paints a very bleak, but very important image.
Critters Preditors & Editors ran a poll for best anthology, and Deadman’s Tome’s Real American Horror was selected to compete. Real American Horror went up against Full Moon Slaughter 2: Altered Beasts by J. Ellington Ashton Press (is that a Sega Genesis reference?), Sex, Gore, & Millipedes by Dragon Roost Press, Depraved Desires by Hellbound Books, and many others.
Though Real American Horror didn’t land first, the grim collection of gritty horror fought its way up and maintained ground long enough to secure placement in the top 10! I still can’t believe it. This particular anthology has a rougher and darker tone than the The Ancient Ones and Monsters Exist. The idea was to select stories that capture the underlying horrors in America, the real struggles that mainstream news hardly covers. Let me put it this way: torture in the name of Jesus, psychotic gun violence, and zika virus… and moonshine, plenty of moonshine.
Favela is the word for slum in Portuguese. Rocinha is one of worst shithole favelas in Brazil. Tom is a young yuppie white guy from richie-rich Connecticut, stuck in a hovel located way back in the maze of trash-filled alley ways. His twenty-five thousand dollar Patek Phillippe gold watch has been stripped off his wrist. They even took his shoes and socks. Tom’s white dress shirt is soaked with sweat and plastered to his body. Blots of red stain his collar and right sleeve.
“I-I- didn’t hit her!” Tom stutters with fright. “I don’t know what happened!”
In the corner of the plaster-cracked room, a young Brazilian girl, dressed in a hot pink thong and a Bikini top, is sobbing uncontrollably. She cups her trembling hands in an attempt to catch the stream of blood pouring from her fractured nose.
An old, dark skinned pimp, flashes his crooked gold capped teeth and says, “Senhor Americano, you have been quite drunk! Very wild and angry. Such bad manners. You passed out for some time. Now you’re awake again.”
Last month, Tom finished a fancy thirty-day rehab program in Malibu for alcohol and cocaine addiction. He thought he was “cured.” His relapse started yesterday with a single mojito at a hotel bar in Rio. From there, one drink led to another. And another. Next on the agenda was club hopping and finding a jovial cab driver with connections to score primo blow. More rum. More tequila. After smoking a whole Bazooka of powder, Tom rocketed to a manic high. All caution was blown to the wind, when he found himself being dropped off in the middle of the night on a street corner in Rocinha. The little girl with the long black hair, dressed in the thong and Bikini top had waved at the cab.
In the present moment, Tom runs his hands through his sticky, messed-up hair. He says, “Whatever happened, I didn’t mean it!” How much more money do you want?” Automatically, Tom reaches in the back pocket of his wrinkled beige trousers but of course his wallet is gone.
The pimp sighs with mock pity, “Sorry Senhor, there is nothing left.”
Tom then notices his wedding ring is missing. He curses under his breathe, “I’m so fucked.”
“Yes, you are” the pimp says. His dark eyes are piercing and full of hate. Tom notices that the pimp has multiple gnarled scars on his hands and forearms. They are old wounds from past knife fights and brawls. The top of his left ear is missing from being grazed by a bullet. Unknown to Tom, the pimp has an Astra .380 hidden under his guayabera along with a pearl handled switch blade with a chipped point.
Tom feels his heart pounding in his chest, not fueled by coke but by dread. “I really didn’t mean to hurt the girl! Please believe me! I’ve sobered up. I’m straight right now!”
The pimp balks, “Please meu amigo, I care nothing of the menina. Whores are like mosquitos in this country. They’re everywhere.”
Using an almost kid’s voice, Tom pleads, “Okay then, may I leave.” Tom just turned 30. He is tall with pretty-boy features. His striking blue eyes have conned many females and gullible family members. He has an extensive resume of being spoiled and enabled.
There is a tense pause.
The pimp then says, “I’m sorry, but, no.”
“No?!” Tom panics. “What do mean by no?”
“Well, there is a bit of a problem.”
“Yes, I am sorry to say.”
“What problem!?” Tom suddenly flashes with anger. “Do you know how much money that ring and watch is worth?” He points at the crying young girl, “If you pawn that jewelry, that slut can get a nose job, implants and be set with Brazilian waxes for life!”
The pimp waves a scolding finger at the American and responds, “It is not about the money. It is about respect.”
“Yea, right!” Tom shouts. “How respectful is it for you people to live in such a dump!”
“If you mock the poor you will be cursed.” The pimp says.
“Whatever!” Tom barks. “What do you really want?”
“Nothing.” replies the pimp. “It’s not me. But the girl’s cousin. He needs to defend her honor.”
Tom experiences a swirling mix of frustration and fright. “Okay, well tell him if he gets me safely back to the hotel, I’ll go to the ATM and make it all worth his while! I promise! Comprendo?”
At that moment, the door to the small dank room opens and a young Brazilian teenager wearing a soccer jersey, shorts and flip-flops quietly steps in.
The pimp asks Tom in a toying manner, “Did you every hear of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?”
Tom is perplexed and responds, “No? What the fuck are you talking about?”
In the next second, the teenager shoots in on Tom with a low tackle. Tom tries to defend himself with a sloppy haymaker but is instantly taken off his feet. He finds himself on his back with the boy sitting on his chest. A flurry of open-palmed strikes rains down on Tom’s head. Instantly, Tom screeches and turns over onto his stomach trying to avoid being bitch-slapped in the face.
The pimp laughs maliciously and calls out, “Hey, Gringo did you ever hear of Mata Leao. It means “lion killer” in Portuguese!”
The teenage boy slips in the rear-naked choke from behind while in low tight straddle on his victim’s back. A vice-like pressure instantly starts to bilaterally constrict Tom’s carotid arteries. Tom experiences the helpless and horrifying sensation of being choked-out in a sleeper-hold. Mercy is not allowed. There is no tap-out. Force is placed on Tom’s cervical vertebrae while being strangled. All he manages to do is to gurgle. Tom wants to screams. In his mind he cries, FUCK!!! HELLLLP!!!! Tom then starts to have anoxia to the brain. Things are getting fuzzy quickly. Then blackness. As Tom goes unconscious, his bladder empties. Next, his bowels. There is a sputtering sound as the seat of his beige trousers darken with a torrent of diarrhea.
Real American Horror is like Slayer’s Skeletons of Society mixed with Slipknots Psychosocial, but with bit of soulful B.B. King in the middle. The stories in this collection touch on real horror, real life grit of American life.