Tender Is the Night of the Living Dead

What follows is just what the world needs: another slice of social commentary disguised as zombie flash fiction inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald and George Romero. Witness the anti-Irish sentiment expressed by the zombie hunters as counterbalanced against the horrors of Nazi Germany. Oh, yeah, it’s all there.

“The best way to kill a zombie is with a rocket launcher,” Brent insisted from the back seat. “You both know that as well as I do so I don’t see the argument here.”

The Packard hurtled down Hollywood Boulevard. Ace was the wheelman, his eyes darting about nervously for traffic cops as he upped the acceleration.

“The argument here,” Wolfe said from his perch in the front passenger seat, “is that we don’t have access to a goddamn rocket launcher, Brent. In case you haven’t heard, pal, we’re going to war with Germany real soon. Don’t believe me? Try to requisition an automatic weapon from the Army. Even if you tell them it’s for a licensed zombie kill, they’ll turn you down cold. They’re saving up for a Hitler ass kicking.”

Ace fell silent, eyes locked on the road. Seven months had passed since he last heard from his family in Stuttgart. No letters from Uncle Gert, no packages of tasty home-baked Christmas cookies from Grandmama, no laughter-laced phone calls from Aunt Sigrid. It was as if they had all fallen off the face of the Earth.

“For chrissakes, it’s just one guy we have to worry about,” Ace grumbled.

“And his entire military apparatus.”

“I’m not talkin’ about Hitler, Wolfe. The zombie. A rocket launcher is overkill for one guy. A nice cranium blow with a machete ought to bring him down nicely, if you ask me. But I forgot to tell ya guys the weird part.”

“There’s a weird part?” Brent laughed and lit a Pall Mall.

Ace hung a left on Highland, nearly trading paint with a bulky red Buick. “The call came in from this funeral director in Culver City, see? Says the corpse just stood up and walked away from the table like nobody’s business. Then, like I told ya earlier, he beats holy hell outta some poor schmo working a Christmas tree lot on Culver – just a regular Joe, you know, wife and kids, nice little house out in Glendale, he wasn’t hurtin’ nobody – then he takes the axe that this guy used for hacking at the trees and – well, I don’t have to tell you what happened next.” His eyes began to mist. “A Christmas tree lot, for cryin’ out loud. Is nothing sacred?”

“Tis the season,” Wolfe cracked.

“So I asks the funeral home director fella, I ask him ‘Who is this guy? We gotta know his name in case we gotta call out to him to, you know, get his attention. Zombies ain’t so attentive, ‘cept when they’re looking for brain chow, right?’ The guy tells me — get this — the guy tells me that it’s this famous fella, see, a writer type named Fitzgerald. Goddamn Mick name, if ya ask me.”

Brent leaned forward in the back seat. “Scott Fitzgerald? Jesus Christ. Yeah, he died yesterday. Heart attack, I think. It was on the radio.”

“You know the guy?” Ace forced the Packard into a hard right turn at Wilshire.

“Personally, no. But I read some of his stuff. Back when he was somebody. He ain’t done much lately.”

“Except eat the brains of some poor bastard working a Christmas tree lot. A Christmas tree lot, for God’s sake. You’re right, Ace, only a fuckin’ Mick zombie would do something that uncouth. I’m gonna enjoy killing this poor sonofabitch.”

Rodger Jacobs has been a journalist for Eye Magazine and Hustler, among others, a documentary writer and producer, screenwriter, playwright, magazine editor, true crime writer, book critic, columnist, and live event producer. Rodger’s book, Mr. Bukowski’s Wild Ride, is published by Trace Publications (June 2008).