The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Just Say No to Home Improvement Monkeys (or 161 days of Hell)

As you may already know, working with zombies is a difficult proposition. Their motivation and time-sense are pretty limited, so you're always having the cajole, threaten, and manipulate them into doing their work in a timely fashion. I have half the mind to let them return to the grave from whence they came because sometimes I think it would just be easier to do it myself. Then they come through for me when I least expect it, and I am surprised.

Anyhow, at this point, I feel that the whole zombie work option has been played out. I need the ones I have too much to let them go, but I don't think have the energy to successfully manage more of them. I mean, the last thing I need is my neighbors getting eaten alive. But, I could certainly use some more help around the house.

As always, good intentions led me down a very dark path. I know. You're thinking, "Dude, you raised zombies from the grave! You're already on a dark path." Sadly enough, you are correct. First blood sacrifices, then zombies. It's a slippery slope once you start.

Ostensibly, the whole idea behind Home Improvement Monkeys is that you summon them from the netherworld, bind them with dark magic, and use them to build or repair your home in the fashion of King Solomon. The problem with Home Improvement Monkeys is that they, as all evil creatures, are born with an innate knowledge of fine-print. It comes to them like the sucking reflex comes to a newborn baby. They are masters of nuance and detail.

So, imagine my surprise when I summoned up a horde of monkeys. Everything looked good at first: strange lights and sounds, the smell of sulfur and burning hair, and lots of flying monkeys. They swarmed the Devil Queen, their tools in hand. Soon, they filled house. They perched everywhere and silently stared at me. I told them what I wanted done, and told them to get on with it (politely I might add). They just looked at me. Somewhere, I think one of them sniggered.

I started getting worried at this point. Non-responsive minions is always a bad sign.

Then, one of them shoved me from behind. I gave it a dirty look. It stared back and pointed down the hall at the bathroom. Another one handed me a paint brush while two more dragged a five gallon bucket of primer down the hall and parked it at the bathroom door. Again, a shove from behind.

I was rudely herded down the hall by one particularly brutish monkey and pushed into the bathroom.

"I brought you here to paint, not me. You paint it!"

Then I heard a "pop-pop-pop." Three twelve-penny framing nails buried themselves into the door jamb. The big, evil-mojo monkey who had herded me down the hall snatched the brush from my hand and threw it at me. It bounced off my chest.

It was very quiet. So many monkeys had crowded into the hall that it looked like three foot thick shag carpet. I looked at the beady eyes and the tools: hammers, screw drives, nail guns, saws, and what not.

"Screw driver please. Flat head." I didn't want to appear weak, and I hoped this sounded nonchalant. A screw driver was handed to me. I pried open the primer. A stir stick was thrown at my feet. I mixed the primer and then began to prime the bathroom. The monkeys seemed satisfied after a few minutes. The crowd thinned and the TV was turned on in the living room.

Around 10 PM the evil-mojo monkey appeared in the doorway and drew his finger across his neck. I decided this did not mean that I would now be executed; instead, I guessed it was quitting time.

I cleaned up and went to the kitchen. This was harder than it sounds. The monkeys had found the rum in the interim. I read over monkey summoning section of my grimoire (gotta love eBay).

"This seal will allow the summoner conjure forth a host of winged monkeys who will enable the summoner to complete any task or tasks so designated by him."

See what I mean about the fine-print? It doesn't say that the monkeys will actually perform the said task (as I assumed), only that they will "enable the summoner to complete" the task. See? The Devil is in the details.And, the fear of begin mutilated by a vast, flying host of monkeys certainly has completed me to finish a lot more than I probably would have done on my own.

Since my "to-do" list was pretty extensive, I'm guessing the monkeys will be with me for a while. The smell is oppressive to say the least, and they get awfully cranky when the rum and whisky rations start running low. Yet another example of how cutting corners really doesn't save you money in the long run.

Anyhow, the count down has begun. Including today, I have 161 days to "finish" the Devil Queen. Driven by a horde of "motivational" monkeys and desperation, it ought to be a nasty, white knuckled ride.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe after The Wicked Witch of the West was so easily defeated, they realized there is no sense in following orders.

Deadlines are the biggest motivators I know of, with or without flying monkeys.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Chris and Mandy said...

Brilliant - the best post on painting a bathroom I've read. I laughed, I cried, I canceled my monkey order. Phew, dodged that bullet.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Great post! Maybe I need some of those monkies. Nothing like having houseguests to motivate you into progress, right?

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Brilliant post. And just goes to show that reading the fine print is essential. (Or that's what my lawyer told me last time I was in jail).

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Brenda from Flatbush said...

Want a flying home-improvement monkey T-shirt, BAD!

12:49 AM  
Blogger John said...

Chris, good call. Just say no.

Greg, I think I actually need more than a deadline; imminent doom of a supernatural (or at least emotional) sort is really needed get me going. Nothing like knowing Fenris is loose in the world to make you pick up your pace.

Maryam, should I ask? Why were you in prison? And, was it your first time?

Brenda, ask and you shall receive.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Man, 161 days. That really sucks, and I feel bad for both you and your wife. There's got to be a solution to the cheap-labour problem that doesn't involve the undead or monkey-conjuring. Maybe you should teach your son basic home improvement skills?

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