Faye Wimpling

On Thursday, December 4, 2003, my grandmother, the most beautiful person I have ever known, passed away. She was diabetic, and was prescribed a medication that destroyed her liver (as far as I know, it killed others…). We first noticed something was wrong in 2001. From there, her condition worsened. She was bedridden at the end. The bed, I remember, was a hospital rig; it was set up in the living room.

I was in the sixth grade at the time, and when I came home, she was gone, the crisp white sheet pulled over her head.

I was living with my grandparents at the time, and was exceptionally close to my grandmother. Losing her was like losing a mother. I was in shock. I didn’t cry. I was numb. It hadn’t sunk it yet.

Then it hit me all at once at the funeral.

The following is the text of the obituary as it was originally published.

Rest in Peace, Na na.

 

Faye Wimpling, 62, of Sugar Grove , and formerly of Warrenton, VA, died Thursday, Dec. 4, 2003, at her home. 

Mrs. Wimpling was born July 28, 1941, in Thomaston, GA, and was a daughter of Robert Edward Coates of Jacksonville, FL, and the late Emily Matthews Coates. 

She was a retired LPN having worked at nursing homes in Warrenton, VA, and a Baptist. 

In addition to her father, she is survived by her husband, Harry Joseph Wimpling; five daughters, KAthleen Margaret Hagewood of Thomaston, GA, Terry Lynn Dirosario of King George, VA, Christina Louise Sanders of Quantico, VA, Kimberly Shackleford of Woodbridge, VA, and Robin Clarke of Nashville, TN; a son Stuart Wimpling of King George, VA; a sister, Evelyn Wilburn of Thomaston, GA; and 15 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Pastor Tracy C. Fletcher conducted the funeral 2 p.m. Monday at the First Baptist Church of Brandywine.  Burial was at the Sugar Grove Cemetery, Sugar Grove.  

Memorial donations may be made to Grant County Hospice, Petersburg, WV  26847.

Santa’s Smackdown

Free Fiction Thursday! 

It’s December and I’ve already been binging on Christmas music, so I figured, in keeping with the holiday spirit, I’d post a Christmas story.

Santa Claus gets a heart-wrenching letter from a little boy: ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS FOR MY STEPDADDY TO STOP HITTING ME.

What does the old guy do? Read on and find out…

 

 

 

Despite what you might have heard, Santa isn’t always holly-jolly. Take it from me, he has a dark side. I’ve been his right hand man for thirty-six years now, and I’ve seen it plenty. There was the time he bitch-slapped Bono in ’87 for calling him a fat fascist for not staging some kind of Arctic-Aid show or something. And then there was the time he kicked the Easter Bunny’s ass for making a pass at Mrs. Klaus (pass meaning he grabbed her tits and tried to stick his tongue down her throat). That was a bad scene. He and the Easter Bunny were real close. They used to play poker all the time, every Thursday night, in fact. But after that…

It was bad, like I said. He really hurt the Easter Bunny. But that was nothing compared to what he did back in 2002. That was heavy.

It was a few days before Christmas, and we were swamped with orders. I’d been on the factory floor all day, overseeing the elves as they hammered, painted, and crafted. I was exhausted when quitting time came around and I trekked across the compound to his office. I was looking forward to a hot chocolate by the fire (a nightly ritual I have with the big guy) and then bed, but when I got there, Santa was waiting at the door, his arms crossed and a nasty glower on his face. He didn’t look pissed. No. He looked like he was ready to rip someone’s head off and shit down their neck. I’ve never been afraid of him, but at that moment, my heart sank so far into my stomach it was in danger of slipping out my ass hole.

Oh, God, someone fucked up big time, I thought. Screw-ups weren’t uncommon, but big ones were rare. The last time something big happened, the guy who had my job before me wound up banished from Santa’s Village.

“Randal,” Santa said, his voice tight, “we’re going to America.”

His words caught me off guard. “What?”

“I’ll tell you in the sleigh,” he replied. He pulled on his coat and hat and shut the door behind him. Cookies and hot chocolate were out of the question. I followed him to the airfield (running to keep up) and asked him again what was up, but he didn’t reply.

The sleigh was ready for us when we got there, the reindeer looking agitated and a bit perplexed. A couple of workelves milled around, dressed in orange vests and smoking cigarettes.

When they saw us coming, they threw them down and stomped on them. Santa’s a huge anti-smoker. Me…I really don’t care one way or the other.

“Sir,” they greeted in unison, and nodded to me.

Santa muttered something and climbed in. I followed suit. “We’ll be back before dawn,” he said, “I can’t say when. Keep the tower up and running until we return.”

“Yes, sir,” they harmonized.

With a savage snap of the wrist, Santa brought the reindeer to attention, and we were off. I usually accompany Santa on his midnight rides (except for the time in ’79 I had pneumonia and the time in ’01 I broke my leg), so the airsickness I felt was very slight.

Once we were high above the clouds, soaring south toward Canada and the States, Santa finally spoke. “Randal, reach into my left pocket here. There’s a piece of construction paper there.”

I did as he asked, removing a stiff piece of paper that had been sloppily folded. I opened it. Blocky white script covered the page:

 

SANTA MY NAME IS BILLY HODGEKINS AND I AM 6 YEERS OLD ALL I WANT FOR CRISMIS IS 4 MY STEPDADDY TO STOP HITTING ME.

Below was a drawing. Two stick figures. One tall and angry, his teeth sharp and his eyes big. The other a small boy with a frowny face and thick hair, tears streaming down his face.

I looked at Santa; his face was grimly set, red from the wind. “Sir,” I said, “this is heartbreaking, but shouldn’t we…I dunno, call social services or something? What can we do?”

“I’m going to fuck him up, Randal.”

I opened my mouth to reply, to argue, but he fixed me with a menacing eye, and I snapped it back shut again. For what seemed like an hour, we rode in silence. Finally, I spoke.

“Where does this Billy kid live?”

“Dahlgren,” Santa said, “Virginia.”

I knew the area enough to form a mental picture of it; small, bland, perched on the banks of the Potomac, a sprawling naval complex the biggest thing for miles. I checked the GPS. We were currently passing over south Jersey. The sun was setting in the west and the air was getting colder.

Two hours later, we began our descent over southern Maryland. The sky was clear and the moon full, sparkling whitely on the surface of the liquid black river. Clusters of lights twinkled brilliantly.

We landed in a clearing about three miles north of Dahlgren. We left the sleigh and reindeer and trekked overland through the woods. I tried to engage the big guy in conversation, but he wouldn’t bite. After maybe fifteen minutes, we came upon Billy’s house, a small ranch sitting in a grove of dead trees along a back street. The paint was peeling, the screendoor hung askew, and trash and toys littered the overgrown yard. The big guy walked boldly up to a side window and peered in. Heart clutching, dreading the coming confrontation, I went after him. I couldn’t see what was going on (sometimes, I fucking hate being three feet tall), but Santa’s expression changed for the first time all night: from rage to tenderness.

“She’s putting him to bed,” he said. He looked down at me and smiled. “Here.” He gave me a boost. We were obviously looking into the bedroom of a small boy. A mother sat smilingly on the edge of a bed, reading something from a large book, making faces and, presumably, voices to go along with the tale. The one thing that didn’t change: the nasty black shiner on her left eye.

“Dickbreath did that,” Santa said, “I’d bet my firstborn.”

Almost as if on cue, a pair of headlights washed over us. My heart leapt into my throat. Santa calmly ducked, dragging me down with him.

A Ford Super-Duty with a ladder rack and STANLY’S SIDING on the side pulled into the driveway. It idled for a moment, as if the guy inside was lighting a smoke, and then the lights and motor died.

Santa watched with a predatory gleam in his eye as the driver door shrieked open and a dark form emerged. I saw the orange, pinprick glow of a cigarette cherry brighten and dim as the asshole slammed the door and made his way across the lawn. Out of sight, the front door opened and slammed.

“What now?” I asked.

“We wait,” Santa said tightly. “When they’re in bed, we’ll strike.”

The boy was already asleep. The man and woman, however, were up for six hours, yelling, fighting, shouting. We moved from the side to the back porch. Through the sliding glass door, we saw the man, tall, chubby, a beard-and-mustache, slug her and then chug a Natural Ice. It took everything Santa had to keep from storming in there like Rambo on coke. He shook, and when he spoke, his voice was strained. Finally, all of the lights went out (except for the ones on the Christmas tree in the living room and the ones around the living room ceiling) and the house quieted down.

“Just a little longer,” Santa said. My hands and face were numb. It was far warmer down here than it was in the North Pole, but it was still fucking frigid.

It was three in the morning before we finally went in. Santa walked through the sliding glass door like the ghost of Christmas ire, and I squeezed through a crack in the wall. The house was tidy, warm, and dim, the only light the soft glow from the Christmas tree. Dishes sat piled in the sink, uneaten food lie on the counter, and beer cans were thick on the floor. The man was asleep on the couch, snoring loud enough to bring the walls down.

Tiptoeing, Santa crossed the kitchen and living room. At the couch, he stood over the bastard, his broad back rising and falling, rising and falling.

Then, so quickly I missed it, he snatched up by his dirty work shirt.

“The fuck?” he yelped. Before I knew it, Santa had him in a headlock, squeezing so hard it looked like the S.O.B’s eyes were going to pop out of his head. Santa was sneering; he looked like a demon. I said earlier that I’ve never been afraid of my boss, but in that moment I was.

Seeming to have had enough, Santa pushed the asshole onto the coffee table, smashing glasses and upsetting half-full beer cans. With an umph, the D-Bag rolled onto the floor, where he lay prone for a stunned moment. When he tried to get back up, Santa kicked him in the side and then sat on him. “Merry Christmas, asshole,” he whispered into the guy’s ear.

 

Santa was true to his word. He rocked that guy’s world. He stomped his balls in, broke a few of his fingers, knocked some of his teeth out, broke his nose, and left him with two black eyes. To top it all off, he took a huge crap in the toilet while the guy was semi-conscious and then gave him a swirly. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Santa really messed him up.

Finally, as dawn crept into the eastern sky, Santa got serious. He wrapped one of his massive hands around his throat and stared into his dazed eyes. “If you ever hit another woman or child, I’m going to come back and rip your dick off.”

The guy seemed to comprehend.

“I know when you’ve been naughty or nice, remember?”

The guy nodded.

“Now you behave yourself, Robbie Lymon, or I’ll come back here and kill your sorry ass. Got it?”

Robbie nodded.

“Good,” Santa cooed, and then choked him unconscious.

 

 

 

So, The Stand Remake is to be Rated R…

I. The Set-Up

 

Stephen King is a household name. I don’t care if you read the guy or not, you know roundabout who he is and what he does. Since publishing his first novel, Carrie in 1974, Stevie King has attained literary heights few authors ever have. Especially horror authors. Why? Who knows? Call it magic, call it luck, talent, grace, a blessing…there are literally thousands of writers who are just as good (if not better), and they languish away in purgatory…relatively speaking.

Whatever it is, King is huge. In a career spanning forty years, he’s released over fifty novels, made millions, and entertained countless readers across the world. In fact, one word describes Stephen King, and one word alone: Beloved.

One of King’s most celebrated works is The Stand, published in 1978. Unfolding over the course of roughly six months, The Stand follows the survivors of a manmade plague as they trek across a vast and empty America in search of safety and society. Eventually, two groups emerge: One in Boulder, Colorado, led by a 108-year-old black woman (Mother Abagail), a prophet of God, and one in Las Vegas, Nevada, headed by the sinister Antichrist-like Randal Flagg. Flagg’s main goal is the destruction of the Boulderites, while the crew in Boulder wants only to rebuild. In the end, the rements of humanity must make the ultimate stand (ahhh, I see what you did there, Steve…).

When The Stand was first published, it was a dizzying 815 pages. Despite its length, it found its way into the hearts and minds of the reading public, becoming King’s signature work.

As early as the mid-1980s, efforts were made to bring The Stand to the screen; at one point, Night of the Living Dead director George Romero was attached to direct. Meanwhile, in 1990, King released a “complete and uncut” version of The Stand, which reinserted several hundred pages he was forced to cut back in the seventies.

To make a long story short, The Stand  was finally filmed as an ABC TV miniseries, which aired over four nights in May 1994 and featured an all-star cast. It received high ratings and praise.

End of story, right?

 

II. The Rant

 

They’re remaking The Stand.

Okay, it’s not really a remake, it’s a re-adaptation. Warner Bros. has commissioned an entirely new version of The Stand, which, since it will be following the novel rather than the miniseries, is not a remake. When there’s source material involved (such as a book), the word remake doesn’t apply (except in the case of 1998’s Psycho, but that’s a story for another day).

I’m thrilled. I love The Stand. I do. It’s my favorite novel ever, hands down. The new The Stand promises to be awesome, mainly because it’s to be adapted into four full-length feature films, kind of like The Lord of the Rings. To be honest, there really isn’t any other way to do it, in my opinion. The Stand is an epic novel, truly epic, and, to film it right, you have to allow the story time to unfold. A single three hour film (which was what Warner originally wanted) would, frankly, not only not do the story justice, it would turn it into a joke. It would be terrible.

One thing bothers me, though, and it really has nothing to do with the film at all. See, I’ve read extensively about The Stand readapt, and one thing I’ve noticed is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is orgasming over its proposed “R” rating. “Oh, yeah,” they said, rubbing their nipples through their shirts, “now they can really tell the story right!”

Everyone seems to agree that the miniseries was cheesy and poorly executed. Me? I loved it. It was about as faithful an adaptation as one could ever hope to see. Of course, there were things they left out (in some cases entire characters), but, hey, that’s the norm when Hollywood does a movie based on a book. The main complaint I see is that The Stand was somehow restricted by ABC’s standards and practices department. No excessive blood, no nudity, no hard profanity.

I didn’t see that as a problem.

The Stand is, at its heart, about good and evil, humanity and God. It’s not a gorefest. In fact, there are a lot of scenes in the novels where people sit around and talk, about government, faith, philosophy. There are a lot of scenes of people struggling to adapt to a world gone dead. There’s sex, there’s language, there’s violence, but those don’t affect the story, the meat and potatoes of the novel. Thinking back, I don’t recall a single “R” rated scene that couldn’t be filmed without being rated “R” onscreen. Not one.

The miniseries did just fine adapting The Stand without excessive blood and sex. I mean, as long as the major themes and the major scenes are faithful, why bitch?

To those in the know: Do you really wanna see Harold sticking it up Nadine’s ass? Do you wanna see…I dunno…the Judge’s face blasted to shit, blood, brain, and skull fragments all over? Is it really that important that we lose not one single “fuck” in translation? Come on. You know as well as I do that The Stand isn’t about blood, guts, and ass. It’s this kind of mindset, the “Oh, boy, rated R!” that leads filmmakers to focus on fake gore and breasts rather than story. I, for one, would rather a cheesy ‘90s miniseries that tells me a story than a 2015 or ’16 feature film so enamored with its freedom that it pauses every five minutes to mangle someone in full Technicolor.

I’m a big boy. I can handle guts and titties. But don’t you dare let that shit take precedence. If this turns into a clone of Rob Zombie’s Halloween, I’m out. Take that shit to the teenagers. I’ll just reread the novel.

The book’s always better anyway.