One of the things I said I would always do was support projects I believe in. This is one such project.
Helena Hann-Basquiat came onto the scene and mesmerized with her incredible writing, a seemingly endless font of stories that could most certainly capture your attention and a wit that seemed unmatched. Whether writing as herself or as Jessica B. Bell, a most delightfully demented architect of all things creepy, I was never disappointed. If you have read her work you know exactly what I mean.
In quite the dramatic twist, Helena unmasked herself and introduced to us the man (yes, I said man) behind the curtain, Ken. Soon it was no longer really just about the writing, brilliant as it will always be. We became friends.
I am currently supporting Helena’s newest project, Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two via Pubslush and would encourage you to become a fan and, if you are able, to lend a hand in making this book land on the shelves.
Helena has generously offered a piece of her literary genius to share with you today. This will give you a small dip of your toe into the pool of creativity that is Helena.
Please…..read, enjoy, and share.
The Exorcism of Helena Hann-Basquiat
There is a demon that lives in the fry oil of every McDonald’s – deep in your heart of hearts you know this to be true. And while it is a vile, loathsome demon, the fruit of its evil is ever so tasty, darlings, and more addictive than heroin.
I refer, of course, to that gloriously greasy golden gift, whose name is whispered in gluttonous growls like Gollum petting his precious ring. Those crispy, potato sticks, which are ceremoniously sacrificed to the demonic oil and assaulted unsparingly with an abundance of salt.
Call them that if you will, and slather them with ketchup if that makes them go down any easier, and consider them a harmless side dish to have with a burger and wash down with an over-sized Coca-Cola if that lets you sleep at night. Go ahead and smother them with cheese curds and gravy and call it poutine if that eases your conscience.
But we all know exactly what those pommes frites really are, and that’s a delivery system for the demon that lives in the fry oil.
“No one forced you to steal my fries, Helena,” the Countess Penelope of Arcadia sighed, interrupting my introduction. You remember the Countess, darlings – my incorrigible niece – dresses like a nightmare version of Alice in Wonderland, suffers from self-inflicted multiple personality disorder, and is cold and heartless when it comes to my suffering.
And I was suffering, darlings – make no mistake about it.
The Countess had got it in her head that she really wanted a Big Mac – if for no other reason than the fact that she’d heard Bobby Darin singing Mack the Knife and I told her that it had been used in a really creepy McDonald’s commercial when I was a kid.
“They had television when you were a kid?”
“Yes,” I deadpanned, “and running water, too. How about that?”
“But not the Internet,” Penny reminded me. “And aren’t you glad that you don’t have embarrassing pictures of yourself from high school all over Facebook and whatnot, forever commemorating your awkward youth?”
“So, about that Big Mac?” The Countess Penelope of Arcadia (whose mascot is apparently a giant yellow M) prodded.
I sighed, as I always do when Penny gets insistent on something she knows I don’t want to do but will do anyway because I love her and because I’m weak-willed. Sighing is my only form of protest.
“Penny, you know that I can’t eat at McDonald’s.” I reminded her. “Everything there is loaded with MSG, and it’ll make me sick.”
It’s true, darlings. There’s not a thing on the McDonald’s menu that isn’t somehow infected by the flavour-enhanced demon that goes, in some circles, by the name Monosodium Glutamate. Well, maybe the cookies.
“What about the cookies?” The Countess countered contemptuously.
“I said maybe the cookies,” I corrected.
“No, you didn’t.”
“I’m pretty sure I did,” I insisted.
“Whatever,” Penny allowed. “But surely the french fries are safe.”
“Ha!” I snorted, only, you know, in a very lady-like fashion. “Shows what you know! Did you know that they actually put beef flavouring – pretty much straight MSG – into the fry oil?”
“I thought there was a demon in the fry oil,” Penny remarked snidely.
“That’s another perfectly valid theory,” I replied, standing by my aforementioned introductory statement.
“Uh huh,” The Countess nodded. “Well, nobody said anything about you having to eat anything. Just take us through a drive-thru and get me my Big Mac and nobody needs to get hurt.”
But someone did get hurt, darlings. When you play with the demon, someone always gets hurt. In the end, that someone was me. In the end, the temptation was just too great.
“I told you not to eat my fries,” Penny chided, holding my hair as I vomited the next morning; my heartbeat pounding in my head, threatening to explode in my brain.
“YOU… TOLD….ME…” I growled, sounding not entirely dissimilar to a certain Cummerbund Bandersnatch playing a gold-loving dragon.
It was at that point that my head turned around backward, I made certain un-repeatable blasphemous statements involving a crucifix, some Cheez Whiz, and Al Gore’s rectum, and then proceeded to crawl, crab-like, up the wall and onto the ceiling.
“The pain, Penny!” I cried pathetically. “It’s so bad you can’t imagine…”
“I’m sorry, Helena,” Penny said, stroking my hair. “Is there something I can get you? Anything that will help?”
“LET HARPER FUCK ME!” I screamed, and projectile vomited pea soup all over the wall, and then violated myself violently with a rolled-up copy of Maclean’s magazine which featured a story about Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the ravaging of Alberta’s Oil Sands. “HE’S FUCKING THE REST OF CANADA! LET HARPER FUCK ME!”
“Geez, Helena, can a person be both demon-possessed and political at the same time?” Penny interjected.
“I’m not certain,” I replied uncertainly. “I believe the correct response would be I think you can in France, though, in all fairness, I’m making this up as I go. When you feel like I do, you can do whatever you want, and be as random as you like.”
“So what is it you want, Helena?” Penny asked.
“THERE IS NO HELENA, ONLY ZUUL!” I roared, my eyes rolling back in my head until only the whites were showing. Suddenly I was wearing a flowing red dress and floating three feet above my bed.
“Okay, so what is it you want, Zuul?” Penny placated me.
“BRING ME THE HEAD OF JOHN THE BAPTIST!” I growled, and then broke down into a painful sob. “And The Beatles’ White Album.”
“Well, you know, it’s not actually…” Penny began to correct me, an irritating habit of know-it-all-i-ness (yes, it’s a word now) that she inherited from yours truly.
“Yes, I know it’s not really called The White Album no more than the Metallica album that features Enter Sandman is actually called The Black Album, but cut the crap, okay? We both know which album I’m talking about, and which four songs I want to hear in particular, so chop chop.”
“Bungalow Bill, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness is a Warm Gun, and…”
“I’m So Tired,” I finished.
“I know, Helena,” Penny said sympathetically. “Is there anything else you want?”
“No, I mean, the fourth song – I’m So Tired.”
“Yeah, but what about Martha My Dear?”
“FUCK MARTHA MY DEAR!” I growled, and fell to the bed, where I writhed and twisted, and lifted the bed off the ground six inches and then dropped it and began laughing maniacally and making lewd gestures and telling knock knock jokes that didn’t make any sense.
“So, nothing else, then?” Sister Penny of the Sacred Gushing Chest Wound of the Arcadianites asked, ignoring my pain-induced tantrum.
“A couple of Monster drinks,” I requested, burying my head in my pillow. “And some lonelyTylenol.”
Penny left and returned twenty minutes later to find me curled up in the fetal position, blankets torn to shreds by my claw-like hands, my head wrapped up in a damp towel. She slowly approached the bed, fearful of my MSG-possessed rage, and held out a can of Monster energy drink – the demon’s only weakness.
“The power of Taurine compels you!” she cried. “The power of Taurine compels you!”
“Very funny,” I said weakly, and reached out from under the covers to grab the can. I guzzled the whole thing thirstily and crushed it with demonic fury.
“So the next time I tell you to leave my fries alone?” Penny asked.
I growled in response. Or maybe that was my stomach, which had been emptied of any and all substances. I ignored her smart-ass question.
“Did you bring me anything to eat?”
Penny looked at me like she thought that perhaps an acceptable solution to expelling the demon from me might just be the loss of the host as well, and if she had to be the one to set me free, why, so be it.
“You didn’t ask me for anything to eat,” she said through calmly clenched teeth.
“I’m starving,” I replied. “Let’s go get some breakfast. Sometimes it helps to get something in my stomach.”
“Well, you know, the perfect cure for a hangover is an Egg McMuffin.”
My eyes flared red and my teeth elongated into needle like fangs in order to tear through the silly thick flesh of the Countess’ vulnerable throat.
“Kidding!” She wisely amended. “Only kidding! Geez, take a joke. We should get pancakes. Pancakes are good, right?”
“Good,” I moaned lustily. “Pancakes… gooooood.”
“Right,” the Countess smiled. “Pancakes it is. Doesn’t Katie owe you pancakes?”
Pancakes are something of a currency in my world, and indeed, I recalled that my friend Katie did owe me pancakes. But Katie was miles away, and virtual pancakes via the Internet were not going to cut it.
“IHOP?” I suggested instead, nursing my second energy drink. I’m well aware that it is inadvisable to drink more than one in a day, but that’s the recommendation for mere mortals. It takes more than one to kill the demon.
“Do they have pancakes there?” Penny teased.
“At the International House of Pancakes?” I answered, annoyed. “Yes, I think so.”
“Fuck, you’re humourless when you’re sick,” Penny remarked and grabbed my hand and pulled me out from under the covers. “C’mon, let’s throw some clothes on you and get you some pancakes.”
“Chocolate chip,” I mumbled. “Banana chocolate chip.”
My sister Cheryl used to make me banana chocolate chip pancakes whenever I was sick. It’s all I want when I’m feeling lowest.
“Yeah, Helena,” Penny said, suddenly quiet. “I know.”
“The power of pancakes compels you,” I moaned, stomach lurching as I pulled on random items of clothing from off the floor.
“I cast you out, foul spirit!” Penny chimed in, doing her very best Southern Baptist televangelist, which sounded ah say, which sounded a lot more like Foghorn Leghorn than Ernest Angley.
“Just say CHEESE SAUCE,” I added, and we both laughed as best we could.
“Pancakes?” Penny asked, holding the door for me and motioning for us to go.
“Pancakes.” I replied. Pancakes always made everything better.
 The creepy twisted little creature from Tolkien’s Hobbit/Lord of the Rings
 A guy in a tuxedo jacket with a giant foam crescent moon head and dark sunglasses, singing Mac Tonight instead of Mack the Knife. Truly, the stuff of nightmares.
 A reference to the demon-possessed Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters. “There is no Dana, only Zuul.”
Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.
Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.
Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE
Photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla/Unsplash