Hostile Questions: Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton

Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton are blights upon humanity. Like any good little antichrists, they rose from Midwest obscurity to pen the kind of films that pee furiously into the eye of good taste. Perhaps you managed to shield your innocent, beautiful face from Feast (gooey dreck!) and The Collector (torturous dreck!). But not even the most righteous among us has been able to avoid the Saw franchise–namely Saw IV (dreck!), V (dreckier!), VI (dreckiest!), and VII (dreckfinity!). And please tell me you kept Grandma from even knowing about Piranha 3DD.

Yet I was content to let these blood-engorged tics feed off of Hollywood. Then they entered… my world. Black Light, a novel written with Stephen Romano, features ghosts, guns, vomiting–all the stuff you’d expect from these chortling degenerates. What I did not expect was that–and oh how I loathe to utter these three word–it was good. Naturally I suspect treachery. Let’s bug-bomb these cockroaches before they strike again.

         Also available in wallet size.

Just who do you think you are?

Being asked this question makes us feel like the asshole with 13 items in the “12 Items or Less Express Lane” at the local supermarket. Our minds flood with curiosity as to which item would be the MOST shocking 13th.

Ideally, it’s a fresh copy of Cat Fancy magazine. Upon that verboten 13th scanner beep, the face of the incensed parent behind us turns bright red.

“Just who do you think you are?!” erupts from their mouth. But it is woefully too late. You can’t un-scan. You can’t undo the crime. One can only lap up the delicious evil happening.

Why is it so delicious, you ask? Because upon being caught, we have already gotten away with it. Then the real show begins: with a drop of the ATM card, we can stretch the moment out another good 30 seconds. Precious seconds to the quick-tempered parent with wailing, full-diapered baby in their cart.

Yet, the rosy cheeks we sport are not from embarrassment or guilt, they are from a grand effort to suppress laughter. Deep, cackling laughter. We could offer a faux apology, but we do not.

Instead, in a false rush to just pay and quickly leave, we rip a handle off of the plastic bag, sending those sinful 13 items back across the checkout counter to extend our moment together at least two more minutes.

The parent grits his or her teeth as the clerk scrambles to re-bag the items. The baby howls for justice. And we just smile, shrugging our shoulders as if to say, “Yeah, we’re the 13th item in your 12-item world, shit-bird. Now fuck off.”

Where do you get off?

Public buses. Mostly on public buses these days. It helps to keep the seats next to us vacant if we aren’t feeling talky.

What’s the big idea?

Well, that’s a really good question. The Big Idea. Hmm. Since the Gap has already cornered the market on pleated khaki pants, where do we go from there?

Maybe all the Big Ideas have already happened?

Or maybe the next Big Idea should be something that helps people? Or maybe that’s lame. Who says things like, “Wow, I was really helped today?”

No, maybe the next Big Idea is offering the perfect shit-storm of a day to people. Yes, an app that tailors the perfect “shit day” to one’s dislikes. This app could be gifted to friends and family as well. Then, the shared stories of what it takes our loved ones to prevail over said shit-storm may captivate and inspire others.

That’s the gift that keeps on giving… by taking.

But seriously, solar-powered black lights would be a cool Big Idea.

What is your problem, man?

What’s our problem? Probably caring too much. Giving and caring too much. That’s our problem. Obviously.

Haven’t you done enough?

Until every child in this great country of ours learns how to read the adult menu at the local Cracker Barrel, our job isn’t yet done. We endeavor to teach through movies, books, and bumper stickers.

And if our work inspires them to start a blog or read the label on a box of wine, then we can finally rest our fingers and put them to proper use… like flipping off slow drivers and losers who come in second.



About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

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