PARADISE LOST: A BLOODY DEBATE, WEST OF MEMPHIS

Count Dracula: This is very old wine. I hope you will like it.

Renfield: Aren’t you drinking?

Count Dracula: I never drink…wine.

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I regret to inform my readers that this blog has been co-opted by Cinatas Cinap and Retro P. Pus. As such, my role here has been relegated to that of debate moderator. Hello, my name is Al A. Vomit, the blogger formerly known as Mat Viola. Tonight’s debate will focus on Exhibit 500. Introduced by the defense during the penalty phase of Damien’s trial in an effort to keep him off death row, Exhibit 500 is an extensive record of Damien’s mental illness around the time of the murders, the contents of which make non-supporters rejoice and give supporters fits. But hear this: emotional outbursts from the audience will not be tolerated – no cheering or booing, applauding or hissing, high-fiving or jeering.

The debate format is as follows: I’ll introduce a topic from Exhibit 500. The participants will debate it. And I’ll put a stop to it when I can stand the lunacy no longer. To ensure the participants adhere to this agreed upon format, electrodes from my trusty electro-shock generator have been attached to the foreheads of Messrs. Cinap and Pus, allowing me to zap them with 450 volts of electricity should their commentary stray off point. However, I also reserve the right to zap them for the sheer fun of it. Zapping is at my sole discretion.

First issue: Damien’s penchant for consuming human blood. That Damien had, and perhaps still has, a hankering for blood is not in question. Damien himself admits as much. The question is, so what? What does it mean? Is he a vampire? Does he suffer from Renfield’s Syndrome? Does he have an iron deficiency? Whatever the case, his taste for blood is well-documented. One notorious incident occurred during Damien’s September 1992 stint at the Craighead County Juvenile Detention Center:

“Approx. three hours after Damien arrived, he was sitting in rec. area with several other residents. One of the boys had scraped his arm a little, and it was bleeding some. Without warning, Damien grabbed the arm that was bleeding, and began to suck the blood from it.” [Page 464 ]

Mr. Cinap, you won the coin toss, so you’ll go first. The floor, I’m afraid, is yours.

Cinatas Cinap: Before I discuss Damien’s twisted predilection for human blood, allow me to expose Exhibit 500 for the unholy abomination it is. First, notice that, alphanumerically speaking, Exhibit 500 adds up to 10. Now, Exhibit 500 actually consists of 509 documents. If you add those 9 additional documents together you get 45 (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9 = 45)

45 + 10 = 55.

55 + 500 = 555.

Basic occult numerology tells us that 555 used three times and reduced to a number is a hidden 666.

555 = 15 = 1 + 5 = 6.

555 = 15 = 1 + 5 = 6.

555 = 15 = 1 + 5 = 6.

Therefore, Exhibit 500 is actually Exhibit 666. In other words, it’s Exhibit Satan.

Oh goodie, I get to test out my electro-shock generator.

Cinatas Cinap: YOWCH! My but that stings like the dickens! Why in tarnation did you do that?

Cut the numerology claptrap, Cinap. Veer from the issue again and the voltage increases. Now, why does Damien have a taste for blood?

Cinatas Cinap: A “taste” for blood? That’s like saying pigs have a “taste” for slop. That Charles Bukowski had a “taste” for booze. That William S. Burroughs had a “taste” for smack.  Echols doesn’t have a “taste” for blood…he has an all-consuming, unquenchable, vampiric craving for it. Echols is to blood drinking what Kobayashi is to hot dog eating. Echols can quaff a barrel of blood faster than a partying frat boy can shotgun a can of beer. Echols chases a shot of Cub Scout blood with a decanter of toddler blood. Echols…

Retro P. Pus: Please zap that insufferable tub-thumper, would ya?

Retro P. Pus: YOWIE! Man oh man that smarts!

Let’s get something straight. Nobody tells me when or who to zap or not to zap. I zap when and who I want to zap. Stay on point, Pus.

Retro P. Pus: I have just one thing to say: Damien does not drink blood:

Retro P. Pus: See? He licks blood.

Cinatas Cinap: Ha! Undead revenants like Echols don’t “lick” blood. They drain it. As in, from your body. As in, all 10 pints of it. Your body is to Echols as a plant is to a sap-sucking aphid.

Retro P. Pus: Damien is constitutionally incapable of lying. If he says he licks, he licks!

Cinatas Cinap: Damien is constitutionally incapable of not drinking blood. He drinks!

Retro P. Pus: Licks.

Cinatas Cinap: Drinks.

Retro P. Pus: Licks.

Cinatas Cinap: Drinks.

Retro P. Pus: Laps.

Cinatas Cinap: Swigs.

Retro P. Pus: Sips.

Cinatas Cinap: Slurps.

Retro P. Pus: Takes a little nip.

Cinatas Cinap: Guzzles 7% of your body weight.

Retro P. Pus: Wets his whistle.

Cinatas Cinap: Soaks his horns.

Retro P. Pus: Gingerly samples.

Cinatas Cinap: Aggressively chugs.

Retro P. Pus: Delicately tastes.

Cinatas Cinap: Violently gulps.

Cinatas Cinap: OUCH! Jiminy Crickets! It burns, it burns…

Retro P. Pus: OW! Criminy, my body’s a throbbin’!

Shut…the fuck…up! Never mind how much blood Damien ingests. The question is, why?

Cinatas Cinap: Because drinking blood gives him power.

Retro P. Pus: Pfft. Blood is mostly water. Just a bunch of cells designed to absorb and deliver oxygen. Hardly a nutritious food for humans. I mean, a unit of blood gives you roughly 100 calories from albumin, sugar, and fat, and 350 calories from hemoglobin. That’s a whopping 450 calories per unit! Wow! What a source of power! Damien might as well eat a donut.

Cinatas Cinap: First of all, who said anything about human? Echols is undead. As such, he has no resting metabolism calorie requirement; hence, he needs far fewer calories than a human. Second, if you think Damien limits his daily intake of blood to a mere unit, I have a story about Metallica-listening teens who got falsely accused of murder to sell you. Third, and most important, Damien doesn’t drink blood for its nutritional value. He drinks it for the same reason mortals drink Red Bull: for an energy boost. Blood is the energy drink of choice among walking corpses. It gives cadaverous Damien his vigor, his oomph, his get-up-and-go. Without it he’d just be lying around the crypt all day, miserable and depressed, complaining about how fatigued he is. But it’s not really about the blood per se. He’s got a more sinister underlying motivation. You see, by drinking blood, Damien absorbs the victim’s life-force. Forget sugar. Forget protein. Forget fat. Damien sucks souls. Damien chews Chi. ‘tis thence he gets power.

Retro P. Pus: Cinap, inanity billows out of your mouth like pollution out of a smokestack.

Cinatas Cinap: Pus, the truth must ride on infrasonic sound waves to your ears – because you can’t hear it.

Retro P. Pus: Cinap, the truth is to your big mouth as light is to a black hole.

Cinatas Cinap: Pus, the truth frightens you, which is why you flee from it like a nun from a dildo factory.

Retro P. Pus: Cinap, idiocy oozes from you like oil from a pimply-faced adolescent.

Cinatas Cinap: Pus, one more word out of you and I’ll kick your ass. Just shut up!

Retro P. Pus: You shut up!

Cinatas Cinap: No, you shut up!

Retro P. Pus: No, you shut…

Retro P. Pus: EEEYOUCH! Gadzooks! You’re really puttin’ the hurt on me now!

Cinatas Cinap: AAARGH! Egads! Ya got me good that time!

Mr. Cinap, apologize to Mr. Pus.

Cinatas Cinap: I’ll do no such thing…

Cinatas Cinap: OW! Alright, alright…Pus, I sincerely apologize for the dildo comment and whatnot.

Mr. Pus, apologize to Mr. Cinap.

Retro P. Pus: Cinap, I’m truly sorry for the mean and nasty things I said about your oozing idiocy and billowing inanity.

Retro P. Pus: OW!

Increase the sincerity or I increase the voltage.

Retro P. Pus: Okay. Mr. Cinap, no words can express how deeply sorry I am for whatever I said and what have you.

Ok, carry on, Mr. Cinap.

Cinatas Cinap: First, let me say that I have the utmost respect for my worthy opponent. I hold the eminent Mr. Pus in the highest regard. Really. I truly do. I’m not just saying that. Having said that, Damien drinks blood. Only a complete moron would think otherwise. Furthermore…

Wait, what did you say?

Cinatas Cinap: Damien drinks blood.

After that.

Cinatas Cinap: Furthermore.

Before that. You said something under your breath.

Cinatas Cinap: No…no I didn’t.

Yes, you did. Let’s play that back, amplified.

Cinatas Cinap (recorded and amplified): Only a complete moron would think otherwise.

Cinatas Cinap: ZIPPITY ZAPPITY FUCKING DO DA! Ok, ok, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Reasonable people can no doubt reach different conclusions on this issue. Please accept my humble apology. My contrition is bone deep.

Ah, aversive conditioning is a beautiful thing. Start over, Cinap.

Cinatas Cinap: Damien drinks blood. But not just any blood. Damien prefers chillun’s blood. Why? Because the younger the body the purer the blood, and the purer the blood the more power Damien derives from it, and the more power Damien possesses the easier it is for him to infect others with his vampirism, and the more vampires he creates the easier it will be for him and his minions to eradicate our chillun, and eradicating our chillun spells the end of the human race. Don’t you get it? The juvie hall incident was just the beginning! Damien is a Vampire Regent with an insatiable thirst for the lifeblood of innocent young’uns. He must be stopped before it’s too late for us all.

Retro P. Pus: I respectfully beg to differ with my esteemed opponent. Intelligent people can reasonably disagree on this issue…but the fact is, you’re dead wrong and I’m indisputably right. Damien *licked* that boy’s scrape to hasten the healing process. You see, due to a benign genetic mutation, Damien’s saliva is awash with antibacterial and antiviral enzymes, the curative properties of which promote wound healing. Just as Saint Mary Magdalena of Pazzi cured a nun of sores by licking her wounds, so Damien cured the injured boy by licking his wound. Far from being a blood-drinking vampire, Damien is a wound-licking healer. He’s a mender, a shaman, a curandero, a medicine man whose medicine comes from an inner wellspring of cleansing spittle. Not for nothing did Damien take the name of Saint Damien of Molokai, the martyr of charity who selflessly cared for lepers until he died of the disease himself. One day Damien will be known, not as the West Memphis Boogeyman or the Witch City Bugaboo, but as Saint Damien of the Arkansas trailer parks.

Cinatas Cinap: I say this with all due respect to the honorable Mr. Pus: Poppycock! No, scratch that – Cockypop! Fact: Cub Scout blood contains regenerative properties essential for the health and well-being of animated cadavers. Fact: Damien is an animated cadaver. Fact: Undead Damien regularly replenishes himself with revitalizing Cub Scout plasma so as to acquire the energy needed to help his Pa bring about the Apocalypse. Deny these patently obvious truths at your peril.

Retro P. Pus: I humbly put it to my distinguished challenger that he’s blowing a minor incident out of proportion with inflammatory rhetoric. Notice how innocuous the original incident report was:

“Approx. three hours after Damien arrived, he was sitting in rec. area with several other residents. One of the boys had scraped his arm a little, and it was bleeding some. Without warning, Damien grabbed the arm that was bleeding, and began to suck the blood from it.” [Page 464 ]

Retro P. Pus: Now see how the story grows increasingly sensationalistic with each telling, going from a level-headed description of Damien’s beneficent wound-licking to satanicky panicky embellishments about Damien’s sinister vampirism, much of it originating from none other than vampire and demon hunter extraordinaire, Jerry Driver:

“Knocked him down to the ground, sucked the blood from the arm, rubbed it over his face and body, and say he is a blood sucking vampire. . .  also grabbed another person and tried to suck their blood.” [Page 341]

“Hit male who cut wrists sucked blood of male.  Smeared blood on self.  Made statements indicating belief he is a vampire who worships the devil.” [Page 366 ]

“While in the detention center, Damien witnessed a co-patient slashing his wrist. Damien is reported to have knocked the co-patient to the ground and began to suck the young man’s blood…was observed sucking the wrists of the young man and smearing his blood over Damien’s body.  [Page 374375 ]

Cinatas Cinap: There’s nothing embellished or sensationalistic about it. Damien not only drank from that poor boy’s arm like a parched Bedouin at an oasis, he ripped the lad’s limb off at the shoulder, clubbed everyone in sight with it, and smeared the gushing hemoglobin all over his face and naughty bits while maniacally declaring himself a devil-worshipping, blood-chugging vampire.

Retro P. Pus: Hey Cinap…ever wonder what it’s like to be a fear-mongering, rumor-spreading, misinformation-spouting, twaddle-spewing, rabble-rousing, monosynaptic, infrahuman zealot? Well, wonder no more. You’re a natural.

Retro P. Pus: AHHHHH…! My deepest apologies to Cinap! Respect!

Cinatas Cinap: Instead of defending Damien from me, you should be defending yourself from Damien. With permission from moderator Vomit, I’d like to cover what the citizenry needs to do to ward off Damien.

Proceed, Mr. Cinap.

Cinatas Cinap: Thank you, Mr. Vomit. Ladies and gentlemen, listen up. The Echols menace is a matter of grave concern. And I mean that literally. The Pus’s of the world would have us believe that Damien is harmless. Better than harmless, in fact. He’s a magickal medicine man committed to improving our collective lot in life – a fuckin’ do-gooder! The reality is far more sinister. Damien wants you to believe what Pus believes. Damien wants to give you a false sense of security. Why? Because then you’ll let your guard down. That’s when Damien will swoop in and massacre the populace. So pay attention! What I’m about to say is of the utmost importance. Heed my words or die. It’s that simple. To stay alive you must arm yourselves with apotropaics aplenty. Now hear this: Follow my instructions without the slightest deviation or, make no mistake, the end is nigh:

1) Build a moat around your house and fill it with holy water. Holy H2O is the Echols repellent par excellence. It is to Damien as sulfuric acid is to mortals. He won’t dip his little toe in there.

2) Bloodthirsty corpses like Echols despise hallowed ground. So dig up the consecrated dirt from your local churches and spread it evenly around your yard. Damien won’t step foot on it.

3) Sprinkle mustard seeds on the roof of your house. Don’t ask why. Just do it.

4) Tattoo a crucifix in the center of your forehead and on each butt cheek. That way you’re protected from top to bottom and front to back.

5) Eat raw garlic daily and DO NOT brush your teeth. Repeat: DO NOT brush your teeth. Never ever again. Pucker up for a kiss if Damien approaches and watch the alliumphobic fiend flee.

6) Purchase firearms for everyone in the family, including the chillun, and load them with sacred silver bullets. Making holy bullets is a snap: simply inscribe a silver coin with a cross and forge it into the shape of a bullet. If Damien comes a knockin’, blow his preternaturally pale ass back to the stinking bowels of Hell from whence he came.

7) To counter Damien’s malevolence, keep your body and spirit pure by crumbling Eucharist wafers on your breakfast cereal. [Warning: This does not work with Count Chocula, Franken Berry or Boo Berry cereals.] These blessed crackers also go well with soups, salads, and pasta sauce. You can even try them with your favorite dips, be it sour cream, salsa, hummus or guacamole. Added bonus: Christ’s crackers are surprisingly nutritious.

8) Beat Damien at his own game: Imbibe a carafe of the blood of Christ daily. With the Holy Spirit coursing through your veins, Damien is sure to go suck some heathen’s neck instead.

9) Keep a tanning lamp in every room of the house. Not only will the artificial sunlight repel the heliophobic Echols, but you’ll get a beautiful golden brown tan to boot.

10) Never leave home without a wooden stake. Why? Because Damien never leaves home without his staff – aka a big old stick. If you run into him you’re sure to find yourself fencing Damien to the death. So be on guard! You must plunge the stake into his decomposed heart before he disembowels you with his staff. Of course, you could simply blow his decayed brains out with your silver-bullet gun, but that wouldn’t be very sporting.

Are you quite done?

Cinatas Cinap: Almost. Only about fifty more essential vampire antidotes and repellents to go through.

Cinatas Cinap: YOW! BLISTERING BARNACLES! leck mich am Arsch!

Let’s translate that from German to English.

Cinatas Cinap (recorded and translated): Lick my ass!

Well, Cinap – what do have to say for yourself?

Cinatas Cinap: Das tut mir Leid?

You’re done. Go ahead, Pus.

Retro P. Pus: Defend myself against a piddling blood licker? Pfft. Why, Damien Echols can lick my blood anytime. I’d be honored to have Mr. Echols lick my wounds. And I stress *lick*.

Cinatas Cinap: If Damien doesn’t drink blood, why did he tell his counselor that drinking blood makes him feel like a god?

“He obtains his power by drinking blood of others. He typically drinks the blood of a sexual partner or of a ruling partner. This is achieved by biting or cutting. He states “it makes me feel like a God”.  [Page 52 ]

Retro P. Pus: He was misquoted. Damien didn’t say he drinks blood; the shrink did. Damien’s no biter either. He’s a licker, not a biter. A lover, not a fighter. This is just another example of people putting words in his mouth. And of course he felt like a god! When you’re blessed with magickal healing powers, how else are you supposed to feel?

Cinatas Cinap: Amazing how you dismiss Damien’s theomaniacal ravings. You won’t be so dismissive when he’s got his fangs sunk in your jugular vein. Only then, as the lifeblood slowly drains from your body, will you realize how damning Exhibit 500 is.

Retro P. Pus: Exhibit 500 is jack shit, wrapped in fuck all, inside not a goddamn thing.

Cinatas Cinap: What a contemptible potty mouth!

Retro P. Pus: Aww, did I injure Cinap’s pansy ass delicate wittle sensibilities?

Word of advice, chaps: my hand is on the button of my electro-shock generator.

Retro P. Pus: Let me rephrase: Exhibit 500 amounts to nothing. It’s rumor, gossip, hearsay, anecdote, allegation, assertion, misinformation, hyperbole, sensationalism, embellishment, exaggeration, and confabulation more than documented fact. It certainly doesn’t prove Damien killed those kids, nor does it place him at the crime scene.

Cinatas Cinap: I say this with all due disrespect and with the utmost disregard for my dishonorable opponent…

We all heard that, Cinap. You’re not fooling anyone. But carry on…

Cinatas Cinap: If nothing else Exhibit 500 sheds light on Damien’s disintegrating mental state at the time of the murders.

Retro P. Pus: It sheds light on the mentality of satanicky panicky Bible belters bent on railroading a sensitive kid simply because he was a bit unconventional.

Cinatas Cinap: Right, it’s just “a bit unconventional” to sacrifice your firstborn to Satan!

Retro P. Pus: Quick! Call an exorcist! Mr. Cinap is possessed by the satanicky panicky spirit of Jerry Driver!

Hear that ominous hum coming from the electro-shock generator? That’s bottled up electric current itching to roast a couple of nuts.

Cinatas Cinap: Fact: That there was no blood at the crime scene proves Damien was there. He drank it all.

Allow me to put this into syllogistic form:

1: Damien drinks every drop of blood spilled in his vicinity.

2: Robin Hood Hills was in Damien’s vicinity.

3: Blood was spilled in Robin Hood Hills.

4: Police found no blood in Robin Hood Hills

5: Therefore, Damien drank it.

I defy you to find a flaw in that reasoning.

Retro P. Pus: Ah, but blood was found at the scene; Luminol testing detected it. The area “lit up like a Christmas tree” when Luminol was applied. That proves Damien wasn’t there, because if he had been, he would have drunk it all.

1: Damien drinks every drop of blood spilled in his vicinity.

2: Robin Hood Hills was in Damien’s vicinity.

3: Blood was spilled in Robin Hood Hills.

4: Police found blood in Robin Hood Hills.

5: Therefore, Damien didn’t drink it.

Cinatas Cinap: Ah ha! So you admit that if Damien had been there he would have drunk all the blood.

Retro P. Pus: Yes, Damien would have drunk it all had he been there. But since blood was detected, it follows, ipso facto, that he didn’t drink it. Hence, he wasn’t there. Hence, he’s innocent.

Cinatas Cinap: Ipso facto? Try Ipse dixit. Fact: Damien was there. Fact: Blood was detected. Conclusion: Damien doesn’t drink blood. He licks blood, as he himself admits.

Time to roast these nuts.

Sorry folks, that’s all the time we have. There’s much more to discuss about Exhibit 500. Perhaps I’ll schedule another round of debate. In the meantime, go watch West of Memphis and see if there’s any mention of Damien’s taste for human blood.

Cinatas Cinap: Don’t watch that lousy piece of propaganda! Watch the biopic of Damien instead. It’s called The Omen.

Retro P. Pus: West of Memphis is the unvarnished truth!

Al A. Vomit

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