I rolled my eyes, shook my head repeatedly, while mouthing a most definite NO, as I held the phone away from my ear. This latest request was over the top and more sinister than anything I've ever encountered to date. Our business was seeing an increase in many things that seem to be popular at this time of year. We had to be mindful and cautious of who was asking for our select items, what certain products they felt were necessary, and the large amount they wanted to purchase. There were only so many morgues across the country where unclaimed bodies could be reclaimed by a legitimate and yet to some a macabre business such as ours: BODY BAG BASICS. We had other sources for our inventory, right here in the USA and abroad.
I took down the information and told the person I would have an answer for him later on that day. The general nature of the call had me really think more about this request especially when he threw out a few names that we had done business with in the past. But he made it clear, quite clear with his word choices, that we had to provide him with everything he asked for, or, and he emphasized, that we would not want to know the outcome if we failed. He knew people that knew people. It was not how I wanted my day to end.
The weeks leading up to Halloween were always over the top. Bob and I were both in the same vibe with the unique atmosphere of this shop for the longest time. We both felt and saw it as a adventure first, business second. We were geeks in this from the start and by that I mean in a science technology sort of way first, and then we didn't look back and took it to the next level. The owner knew we were in tune to the dynamics of the nature and feel of the place and chose the two of us to take over the business. People would come to the shop from all over, asking our advice on how to decorate for this one time of year. People were crazy in the way they wanted to create or recreate an interesting look for their house, or host a special theme party, maybe a children's birthday or even use this theme for a wedding. That one was over the top fun to plan. Coffins were the center piece with the bride and groom inside. We ran with our creative minds in high gear after that huge success. The shop would offer nature-themed sculls adorned with bugs and birds. Fabric with spider webs would be cleverly draped for a special effect. Fingers and toes would be adorned on wreaths. You name it, our minds were going a mile a minute. So many bones, so little time!
Halloween was only one way we used our inventory to provide creative ways for customers to get in touch with the moment. It wasn't all sinister, gory, wicked and evil. Although most people look at this fall time holiday moment in the most creepy way that they could. We, on the other hand, used our stock and supply chain of so much more to do good in the neighborhood.
We were the ones to attend the colleges that were looking for our natural products to bring to the science classes to enlighten and teach about the body structure of not just humans, but animals, insects, birds and more. Artist groups had us create still lives using a clever assortment of bones to play up the wicked, cool, theory of death never being over. We just saw things in a different way. They took it all in and could make up bodies to surround what was displayed. It's all in the imagination. So the two of us would show up sometimes dressed as Igor and Dracula. You got to go with the moment and we developed quite a following.
On the other side in the world of bones, eyeballs and more, we took on another adventure. Like we didn't have enough to do! Off season, aka Halloween, we were now going full throttle in a new way with making gift items. We had so much that we hired others to use our stock supply to add images to dishes, plates, mugs, etc. Imagine sitting down to a plate of some pretty creepy non-edible images. Try eating that nice dinner while spiders are surrounding your food. Who would have thought our latest ideas would be popular!
Getting back to that person that called was still a little disturbing for us. Bob and I needed to figure out how to handle this request. It seems the customer that I'll refer to as 'Gravy' had an planned event at his estate coming up soon where he wanted to impress certain people with a 'wow' factor. We were his one and only choice in making that happen. It was a Halloween theme so over the top, that I felt we needed to have armed security.
Bob and I decided to put it all on the line. The pressure was on. Money was not a factor with this client so we went overboard in the creativity angle. By the end of the day we had a solid plan, with so many layers, Betty Crocker would be impressed! The client was accepting of our plan and cost yet added a few more pennies to be nice. "I'll deposit half a million in your account. Let's get to work and do this!"
I hung up the phone, looked at Bob, and then we both whooped, hollored and high-fived each other. Then reality sunk in.
"What did we just agree to do?"
I had to remind him that we just made quite a mind-boggling deal. Not just with the money but with this ginormous gig of a lifetime. And who knows where this crazy scenario would lead to?
The time frame for this to happen was short as we were only one week away from Halloween. This had to happen now. The first order of the plan was to nail the project down moment by moment. It was to happen from sunset to midnight. Our heads went down nose to the paper and each of us came up with ideas that we scaled down to work our best magic. The word was out to our acting troupe of brothers and sisters who were with us 100%. They were busy but not too busy for this opportunity. "A scene from Hell is way too easy for us. Let's bring it!"
All of us worked nine to five in blending each others skills and talents for this epic show. We had the layout of the interior of the mansion and the outside property. We had a 3D view of each room that the owner shared. Bob and I had the timeline of events that we went over with the crew. The entirety of the planned episode was brought to a conclusion in two short days. Our other group of friends were creating the visual part of the event which took no time to dream up. Dress to impress was the motto. Bob and I had the best of the best and there was no room for escape. We knew this and reminded each other of the consequences.
Props were loaded up in the Uhaul. The time for the reenactment of the Salem Witch trials was one day away. This was to be our version of this time in history.
Our client, 'Gravy', was concerned about the lack of set design. I told him not to worry about a thing. We had everyone in place and on cue to provide the décor at a moments notice. The layout and props for the event would be subtly placed throughout the mansion and outside landscape. I assured him the surprise factor would make his guests feel as though they were in a Hollywood movie. He smiled and shook my hand. "I am looking forward to the evening." He emphasized and made it clear with a cold unfriendly look that there would be no mistakes.
We parted to begin the countdown to Doom's Day.
The evening was here. Everyone knew their role, time in and out, etc. The guests were to park in the reserved area away from the house where a shuttle would bring them to the mansion. The property was lit with sconces of fire lining the walk ways to cauldrons of boiling liquid. The smell of rotting flesh filled the air. The lighting was carefully calibrated with glowing colored lights along the roofline and through the woods. The stars added their own brightness against the heavy darkness that settled in.
The time was here.
The shuttles arrived and the guests were escorted by their chauffeurs to the front door. Bob and I were in the trees watching the startled looks on their faces as they smelled the foul air and were hustled inside. Screams were heard and sounds of broken objects. We looked at each other and laughed. "It's getting better!" Suddenly, characters in ghoulish costumes appeared and began climbing ropes that were carefully thrown from the roof. They subtly climbed up to scratch and claw at the windows. More screams inside. Doors were locked. Pandemonium was heard throughout as the characters worked their charm. The best was yet to happen as the midnight hour approached. All the people working with Bob and I had on watches set to times where each episode was to happen. We knew something about 'Gravy'. Even with his threats towards us we had a bigger plan that was to unfold exactly at 01200.
The faint sound in the distance became louder as the chopper made its way to the property. A dust storm blew up within the areas around where the cauldrons were lit when the back door of the mansion opened to confused guests and they ran out. Someone screamed and pointed up to an avalanche of armed witches heavily armed parachuting down to greet them. Bedlam lasted only a few moments as the SWAT team in Salem Witch costumes took over the scene. It was a planned moment. It seemed that 'Gravy' and many of his guests had plans to move drug cartels through the country using another clever way to hide the goods.
BODY BAG BASICS were now working with the government to gather information, details, and suspicious people through their connections with mortuaries, funeral homes and the supply chain of products they sell through their shop. Undercover now had a new meaning for their business.