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Decency

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Just trying to make a movie, that's all. And people just have to get ugly...

“I might just come after you”
(Max Cavalera)

There are many spots between Long Island, New York, and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, to stash a dead body.  A hasty move would be to chain the feet to a couple cinder blocks, and then drop the body off the Throgs Neck Bridge on I-295 and into the Long Island Sound.  The body would be out of the car right quick, but on the other hand, there is too much of a risk for somebody seeing you dump a human being off of a bridge.  That is how you get caught, with some random motorist calling police after driving past you mid-shove.

The most efficient way to get rid of the body of a person who you just killed in Long Island is not a pleasant thought.  Then again, taking the life of another human being is rarely something that brings a smile to…well, at least my face.

Indeed, you need to chop off the person’s head and hands, so that if the body is ever found, it’s difficult to identify (and thus harder to blame somebody for the murder).  With the rest of the body, it depends on how much time you have, and what size bags or containers you have at your disposal.  You can either sever the cadaver in half at the torso, or take the time to cut the body into a bunch of little pieces.  The latter takes a decent amount of effort, though, as bones like those in the legs are not the easiest to chop through.

Again, how you get the body parts from the victim’s bathtub (where all the slicing and dicing takes place, providing an easy clean up) to your car depends on what kind of containers you have.  Trash bags are generally the most common- and in a situation where things weren’t planned, they are usually handy under the kitchen sink.  Or, if you are premeditating the murder (no need to beat around the bush here), a few large duffel bags are a sure shot.

The main thing to keep in mind when putting the chopped-up body of a once-living person into bags is that the hands should go in one bag, and the head should go in another, so that they are disposed of far away from each other, and the rest of the body.

Toss it all in the trunk, and off you go.

Now, hurling anything like this into the Long Island Sound (or Hudson Bay, once 295 becomes 95) is kind of risky, aside from the strong possibility of a witness.  Mainly because the Sound is strange, and you’re not really guaranteed whatever you throw into it will actually sink to the bottom, and rather than float romantically out to sea, your refuse will most likely end up washing up on shore at some point.  It’s best to just remain as calm as possible, and wait for a better spot.

The Pine Barrens in Burlington County, New Jersey, has long been a favorite place to dump human remains.  It’s remarkably isolated, filled with hungry wildlife, and there are a zillion spots therein that are all but ignored by just about everybody.  You don’t even have to really dig a hole, although it is certainly the best way to go, if you’re willing to take the extra time.

Granted, the Pine Barrens are a bit out of the way from a trip back to Northeast Ohio, and if your alibi is contingent on time, you’re best to just stay on I-80, and wait until you get into Pennsylvania.  Sure, there are several rivers on the way through New Jersey, but they can’t really be trusted to sink a bag filled with body parts.  There is Lake Hopatcong near Exit 29 as you head West on I-80, but there are park rangers occasionally around.  Besides, there are several stores and houses between the expressway and the lake, and the less people that see you, the better.

Once you cross over the border of New Jersey and into Pennsylvania, your chances for getting caught pulling off the road, taking a short hike with a bag and a shovel, and burying a corpse (or parts of one) goes remarkably down, particularly in the dead of night.  The expressway through this part of the United States is lined with desolation, where you can get away with damn near anything if you put your mind to it.

**********

All these things were going through my head as I came to the uncomfortable realization that I might very well have to make a trek from my home in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, to a certain town in Long Island, New York, in order to retrieve the master copies of the tapes which hold footage of the film I’ve been working on since the summer of 2004.

The film- Of Bitches & Hounds- stars myself, Melissa King, and several others.  It was written, directed, and produced by Bob Freville, a writer and aspiring filmmaker from New York.  Somewhere along the line, I became a producer of the film as well, a role that I take rather seriously, considering that my goal in life is to make a living in the world of Cinema.

We completed filming in August 2004, and the footage spanned over 8 Mini-DV cassettes.  The idea was that Freville was going to take the tapes back with him to New York, have them edited together, and then we’d have a film on our hands.

He found an editor- we’ll call him Wilbur for libel purposes- whose resume was more than promising.  The guy was enthusiastic, definitely had the know-how, and was willing to work with us for dirt-cheap.

He initially contacted Freville in February 2005, in response to an ad posted in Craigslist.  Freville met up with him, found him to be a promising asset, and decided to give Wilbur the job.  Unfortunately, Freville felt he could trust the fella enough to give him the Master copies of the tapes (with any luck, a strong lesson was learned there).  It was almost understandable, since it costs money to copy the tapes to begin with, and with an absurdly small budget, literally every penny counts.

Then again…

After some time went by, Bob contacted Wilbur, asking how things were going along.  Apparently, Wilbur had found himself on some more respectable (and lucrative) projects, and therefore had not had the time to work on ours.  Even so, he promised Freville that he would “this weekend,” and so things went for several months.

Then Freville stopped hearing anything from Wilbur.  No response to his many calls and emails.  Not a damn thing.  Wilbur had seemingly vanished.

Eventually, Freville managed to get in touch with Wilbur, but several months had already past, and Wilbur had done nothing with our film.  So, we decided to merely get it back from him, get the tapes to me, and I would edit them myself, learning how to do it as I went along, much like Shane Carruth did with Primer.

Again, Wilbur consistently flaked out.  He promised to meet Freville several times, but to no avail.  He stopped returning Freville’s calls, and when Bob was able to catch up with Wilbur, the latter would say something along the lines of, “Oh!  I was just getting ready to call you.”  You know, that whole pile of rubbish.

By the time July rolled around, I decided to contact Wilbur myself.  I have experience in tracking people down, as well as an aggressive nature when it comes to getting business taken care of.  While I generally think of myself as an easy-going lad, when it comes to business, I will get downright shrewd when I need to.

I have sharp instincts when it comes to business, no doubt stemming from being brought up in a business environment.  So, I knew that my first line of action should be a cordial one, a professional move, but still direct.

My first call to Wilbur earned an answer, along with a promise to have the tapes in the mail to me the day after Independence Day.  I then sent Wilbur the following note, to confirm:

Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005  18:53
From: Bitchhound Productions
To: Wilbur
Cc: Bob Freville
Subject: “Of Bitches & Hounds”

Dear Wilbur,

As I mentioned on the phone a few minutes ago, we’ve decided to edit the short film Of Bitches & Hounds ourselves, and therefore I need all the tapes that Bob Freville gave to you way back when.

Please send the tapes to my attention at:

[my home address]

Please include all tapes, notes, and whatever material that goes along with the movie that you have.

I appreciate your cooperation on this, and hope you enjoy your holiday.  If you have any questions and/or comments, please do not hesitate in contacting me at:

[my home number]

Best Regards,
Jake McGee

Well, the days became weeks, and nothing came to me from Wilbur.  Not a note, call, and certainly not our movie.  I waited two weeks before calling him back, so as to give him a little time- and to establish that he was in fact blowing me off directly.

Of course, when I did finally call, there was no answer.  I tried again a few days later, and again nothing.

My claws began to protrude.

I tracked down his place of employment, and left several messages for him there, in hopes that pressure from others being brought into the mess by Wilbur’s flakiness would prod him to act.  I even talked to one of his co-workers, and asked (politely, of course) to have Wilbur contact me as soon as possible.

I then got the phone numbers to as many of his neighbors as I could, and called them, asking for Wilbur.  Why not?

Still, for all my creepy tactics, I got no word from Wilbur, and more importantly, no movie.  Eventually, I decided to investigate my legal options, for I was beginning to think that we would never get the tapes back unless I went after the bastard.  We even began to wonder if the tapes had been destroyed, for why else would he avoid us for so long?

Sure enough, my attorney said that there was little I could do, and no matter what course of action I took in that fashion, money would be needed, and I was not in a position for a gamble like that.  We had no guarantee of winning, especially since Wilbur had never agreed to anything in writing (another lesson to be learned).

My only choice, as I saw it, was to drive to Wilbur’s house in Long Island, and confront him in person.

Now, I truly was was not planning on hurting anyone, but I was prepared to do so if things exploded.  I’ll admit that there can be a certain appeal to the thought of stomping somebody’s teeth out of their face, but the truth of the matter is that I was not really that pissed off at Wilbur.  I just wanted the movie, and if he would have just handed it over, I would have thanked him, and came right back home.

However, life is almost never that easy, and I had to be prepared for the worst.

**********

Driving to Long Island to confront Wilbur would be no simple task.  I couldn’t necessarily expect him to be at his house when I arrived, and I was ready to stake him out.  At the same time, I was not about to drive all the way out there just to have my ass kicked (or killed) when I confronted him as he walked into his house in the company of a friend or two.  With this in mind, I contacted a very good friend of mine, who we’ll call Dr. Action.

Dr. Action is generally an extremely nice and laid-back gentleman.  At the same time, he is a trained killing machine.  At 6’3” and about 240 pounds, his appearance is menacing enough, but throw in the fact that he is incredibly fast and keen on many martial arts, and you have a very dangerous person should you find yourself at the receiving end of his wrath.

Even so, we were both brought up in Ohio, where it is legal to carry a handgun in public.  No matter how badass of a fighter you may be, a bullet is always faster and usually deadlier.

In other words, I was not about to go into a potentially volatile situation unarmed.  A 9mm Luger was sufficient, a small yet powerful weapon to have in a time of need.

“You know what you’re asking me,” Dr. Action said when I first brought up the road trip.

“Yeah,” I replied, “this could very well be another one of Those Times, but I see no other way to deal with this situation.”

He didn’t even have to ask if I wanted to simply forget about the film.  Dr. Action knew my convictions, my integrity, and my devotion would not allow me to just walk away from something like this, a project that I had poured my heart and soul (and wallet) into.  Even my loyalty to Freville alone was enough for me to make this trip, as he had given more than I had to this film.

Loyalty is a virtue that is not really enforced anymore, but it is nonetheless prevalent within my inner circle.  I would not hesitate to go to whatever battle for one of my dearest, and my closest friends (such as Dr. Action) wouldn’t hesitate to do the same.

Posturing is for punks, and doing so with a gun is downright jive.  A gun is a tool, and in my life, the only reason you pull a gun on somebody is to use it.  Flashing a gun around to scare people is absurd, reckless, and where I come from, that gun will be taken from you, and used to cave your skull in.

My point here is that I was not going to try to scare Wilbur.  I was hoping that things would not escalate to any kind of violence, but at the same time I had to prepare for that possibility.  If things got out of hand, we were not going to easily subject ourselves to prison for beating the dickens out of Wilbur.  Once that line of decency was crossed, there was no turning back.  Both Dr. Action and I have been to jail, and it is not a place that we’re eager to return to.

**********

As we prepared to make the journey, I tried one more time to get in touch with Wilbur.  I called, and even sent him the following note:

Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2005  14:43
From: Bitchhound Productions
To: Wilbur
Cc: Bob Freville
Subject: Preventing An Ugly Mess

Wilbur,

This has already grown quite out of hand, and I am already talking with my attorney about taking legal action in this matter.  However, my primary desire behind all this is to complete Of Bitches & Hounds, a project that I personally (along with Bob Freville and others) invested a lot of money, time, and energy into.  If there is a way to resolve this without taking the next step and coming after you, I’d be more than happy to do so.

But I am not going to wait much longer.

I insist that you return everything Bob gave you regarding Of Bitches & Hounds IMMEDIATELY.  Either set something up with him that you will STICK TO, or mail it all to me at:

[my home address]

If I do not hear back from you by the end of this week, I will be forced to assume that you’re trying to play us like a couple of third-rate bitches, and that is not something I will stand for.  I busted my ass on this project- as did Bob and many others- and I will NOT let you hold us back any longer.

I don’t care how busy you are, or what magnificent projects you have on your platter that have distracted you from taking care of this matter.  We too are extremely busy, and I for one have a lot of other things to do that are far more productive than playing games with someone like you.  It’s been too many months for you to brush this aside with any more excuses.

Again, if I don’t hear back from you by the end of this week, I will not hesitate to take further action in order to settle this fiasco.


Sincerely,
Jake McGee

When I came home from sending the above, I was filled with glee to find a package from Wilbur waiting for me on my front porch.  He had finally sent me all the tapes for the movie, and in doing so, had doused a wicked fuse.

Dr. Action was almost as relieved as I was.  “You can never trust what an indecent jerkoff like that will do,” he said.  “I hate dealing with people like that.  And besides, there is the First Commandment.”

It was an ironic- yet gladly welcomed- twist of fate.  And now I’m responsible for getting this damn movie finished.

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