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August 19, 2008


Dead Wrong Turn

Jim McPartland



I was heading back from Avon, CT on my way to Milford Saturday from a writers networking meeting. I was on my way to its annual Oyster Festival, an event that draws 40,000. Foghat was the free headliner. Bob ‘Jake’ McManus loved Foghat as a kid. I liked them too and it’s been years since I’ve heard much of their stuff.

You knew Jake was cool (albeit slightly uneven like myself) when in 6th grade at the bus stop at 7 in the morning he’d be air guitaring and scream to Slow Ride. A few of the neighbors occasionally joined us, just not as the chorus. Mostly with the Police. And not Twonicus’ Police either. The real ones who told us to mute the tunes.

My 1st mistake in the comedy of errors was staying to the left at the junction of the Merritt Parkway (Rt. 15) and I-91. Both can bring you to Milford. I was talking on the phone and if I thought about it, I’d  have veered right and gone 15. I’ve read stuff that says when faced with a choice of right or left when getting in queues, left is better as most people choose right. That theory never works for me anywhere, be it the grocery store, bank, beer line. I always end up waiting longer and watch a mutant cruise by me in the other line to finish their business while I’m basically standing there with my dick in my hand. Right hand at that. Two hours later, I’m out with my one bag of chips, $20 or a lukewarm Bud Light.

I was now on 91. On a Saturday, it’s normally not too bad. The intersection of 91 and I-95 in New Haven can be a bitch, regardless of the time of day. Toss in an accident = taost. I should have figured they’d all be going to Milford. They might have been going to Milford via 15, but I’ll never know. I probably should have gone to AM traffic or cough up enough money to have the GPS give reports but, alas, I’m too fucking stupid or cheap- probably both.

About 5 miles outside of the 91/95 merge I see my 1st true warning sign that I may miss Foghat- Traffic Delay Ahead- 14 mile delay flashes.

I’m like “Fuck! 14 miles could take 5 hours to get past!”

My head races. It’s bumper to bumper. Even Michael Penn on my CD player cannot soothe me enough to get me through this.

Think-- options-- get off and backtrack through New Haven to 15 towards Woodbridge? They do run concurrently. I know New Haven enough (I think); but that GPS that I left home- with or without traffic updates- would be useful. “Cheap, stupid fuck” my inner voice yells louder.

There are 4 lanes waiting for the merge. I decide to get off State St. I have to almost cut people off to make the exit. I take a right, heading up State towards Yale.

New Haven is like Bridgeport. There are certain streets that if you fit my profile you wouldn’t cruise down at night as the police know if you do it’s either drugs or BJs you’re in the market for. During the day, it’s usually not bad.

Saturday was not usual.

I go down about a ½ mile. About 50 feet from a green stoplight, I see this 20 year old kid come from my left, staggering out from some parked cars. I think, that’s kind of dangerous, buddy. I slow down so he can walk in front of my car to the other side. Problem is- he can’t walk. Dawn of the Dead swagger is a better description. He twists about 5 feet in front of me. I’m stopped.

Our eyes meet.

And I take a ‘Holy Shit’ breath.

He IS Dawn of the Dead.

Fun in Newhaven. i'm the guy on the ground. I'm the guy on the ground

Rabid foaming at the mouth. Pupils' totally dilated. Blacken teeth exposed. Legs bowed, arms contorted in the air.

He starts screaming-

What the fuck, motherfucker—I’m going to fuckin’ kill ya!!!”

Starts flipping me the bird with both of his arthritic looking ashen hands.

There’s a guy trimming bushes at a church to my right. I have the windows rolled up, so I can’t quite hear what he’s saying but, seeing he’s at church, I figure he’s an apostle. He’s yelling something at the Walking Dead. I’m happy because gas powered hedge clippers are handy tools when fighting zombies.

He turned out to be more like a Jew in the crowd before Pilate.

Dead Boy takes a couple swivel strides towards the curb. I inch up slowly. I was going to roll down the window and politely tell him he’s gonna get hit by a car, but as I do that he comes charging towards my passenger door, bangs with all his might on the window and continues his ‘I’m going to eat you’ diatribe.

Bush Man is now closer to the sidewalk, but he’s left the trimmers. Big help he’s going to be. He’s yelling at Dead Boy, but there’s so much racket, I’m not sure who’s saying what to whom.

I decide my best move is to slowly drive away. If Dead Boy latches on to the hood, I can always pull a Starsky and Hutch. He instead decides to kick my door. Now I’m getting pissed and even though I’m without artillery, I have to deal with this.

I pull up through the stop light- maybe 500 feet. I really just want to see if his decomposing foot made a mark or if it’s now attached to my car- in which case I’ll have to go to a car wash and pay the extra ‘scraping’ fee.

As soon as I get out and head to the other side of the car, Dead Head starts running full force at me- screaming all kinds of demented, intelligible zombie shit. Unfortunately now I know I’m dealing with the REMAKE of Dawn of the Dead where they could run.

Bush Guy is still yelling at him, but has made no attempt to catch him coming towards me. Hedge clippers or not, two of us are more likely to saw off his dead bobble-head than one.

Now he’s within 20 feet of me.

What to do?

Like a fastball out of Billy Wagner’s hand, I have about .02334 of a second to decide-

1)      Either stand my ground and take him on, the upside of which is he’s dead so all I have to do is either trip and pounce or just land one clean shot somewhere near his head to blast out his fucked up brains. If he isn’t dead, though, and he has, say, a knife I have yet to see- this might get a little too dangerous and I can end up dead. Walking in traffic. At noon. Yeech, not pretty.

2)      Run.

If I chose option 2, Michael J. Fox would laugh at me because he didn’t do that in the Back to the Future(s).

The next thing I know, I’m scurrying around a car at the stop light, like LaDainian Tomlinson. Fortunately, Zombie Kid is no Lawrence Taylor and he can’t catch me. Finally, Bush Man comes over and corrals him, dragging his quasi rigor mortised frame with him.

tomlinson.jpg Get the Fuck off me, Dead guy!

Now I call the police. I have no idea how long that’ll take as we are in New Haven and they have bigger zombie herds to battle.

Bush Man has Morgue Kid over by a car back where he started, but he’s still twirling away like an off balance spinning top and I think he may come back for round two. Option 1 will be my only choice then- even with deadly bites or .99 steak knives at risk.

Dead Boy gets into a car that’s been sitting there watching this whole debacle. Maybe this was a joke that’s already put on YouTube by some demented Yalie wanna be film student. I doubt it.

After they’re gone- and instead of talking to me- Bush Man goes back to his grounds’ keeping responsibilities, as if Zombie Boy was a dream.

I’m waiting for police. A woman with a 2 year old pulls up. Poor kid is crying.

She says “I saw what happened- he did the same thing to me and scared my kid to tears.”

Now I wish I had gone option 1 and put this motherfucker in the hospital.

The police show, take my side of what happened.

Bush Man comes over when I tell police he saw this mess.

As he draws closer, the strong smell of vodka hits me like a bad yesterday’s hangover. Holy fuck, this guy’s drunk- trimming hedges at a church- and is taking on zombies too. He multi tasks better than I do!

Then he breaks the case wide open.

“That’s my son.”

I almost screamed in pain from my jaw hitting the pavement. I could hardly control myself with “You almost let me get in a fight with  your Autopsy Table Child and did nothing?”

Then I smelled him again and knew how apples don’t fall far from trees.

The cop says Dead Boy will get a bunch of misdemeanors- if they catch him.

I said I just wanted women with children in cars to be safe at this intersection. Now that he’s moved on, who knows what Romero movie antics he’ll be up to.





I’m not sure of the moral of this story. I usually like to draw things together like they do in Davey and Goliath, but I’m not sure about this.

Inadvertent bad decisions? Standing your ground vs. being a smart wuss? I don’t know.

All is do know is I did not get bitten, am not dead, and am not in the New Haven Register Police Blotter for sending a druggie to the hospital.

I’m staying to the right for the next couple weeks to see if that changes anything.