We’re just a few months away to the gates opening for Halloween Horror Nights 2020. To fuel your need — and ours — for a little taste of HHN while at home, we’ve been walking down memory lane by sharing the backstories of our haunted houses and scare zones. To wrap up our collection of horror stories, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Sam Meetz, the owner and proprietor of Meetz Meats in Carey, OH.
Bad Following Good
Delmar Reeves had never been a lucky man. In fact, most of his life had been a tale of woe and misery. At least that’s how he saw things: bad following good. He would find extra money only to then need to visit the dentist due to a toothache. Bad following good. His whole life. So it was no real surprise to him in 1934 that the very day after having been given the job of shift foreman, the Bailey Mining Company shut its doors forever leaving Delmar little choice but to abandon his home and look elsewhere for work.
Starving, he jumped an empty cattle train headed back to the midwest for resupply. At least, Delmar figured it was a cattle train due to the bars and the smell, although he supposed it could have been sheep. The smell did little to blot out the hunger that now gnawed on his mind during every waking hour. It had been at least three days since he had gotten on the train, and with nothing but a canteen of water to keep him company, the hunger now filled his bones, making him weak.
After hopping onto the train and falling in and out of consciousness for several hours at a time in the warmth and comfort of an errant mound of hay left in the corner, Delmar would awaken rested, only to find that the mound had been the home to a colony of rats that had taken to him. Bad following good.
The train stopped to water itself in a small town in the middle of nowhere Ohio. It could have been the moon for all Delmar knew of any spot west of the Putnam county line. What was the name of the town? He had seen a lit sign with smiling folks on it welcoming people as the train moved past. Carey? Corey? Yeah, Corey, Ohio. Must be it. Delmar thought to himself.
“What was the name of the town? He had seen a lit sign with smiling folks on it welcoming people as the train moved past. Carey? Corey? Yeah, Corey, Ohio. Must be it.”
Regardless of the little town’s name, the train had indeed stopped and Delmar knew that there would be someone coming by soon to check on the cars and make sure no one was aboard.
The strange combination of panic and acute hunger flooded his senses. How long had it been since he last ate? One, maybe two weeks? What was he doing here? Why had he left? Strange metallic sounds and the barking of an errant dog in the distance were the only sounds he could decipher in the night. No gravel moving. No men calling to and fro checking each box-car. Mayhaps. He had thought. Mayhaps, in a small town like this no one cares who comes and who goes. And he had chuckled. This little bit of humor felt good and without realizing it, Delmar had started to laugh to himself a little too loud. When he stopped, he very quickly realized that the dog had stopped barking, too. No more metal clanging.
Suddenly the beam from a yardman’s torch exploded in his eyes. “Ayup. Thought I heard someone giggling. Hello, funny man.” The voice was scratchy.
The moments that followed passed in a blur. Delmar was pulled down from the car, walked to the end of the yard and stood up against the lone light pole. After a few minutes, Delmar slunk to the ground exhausted. In a few more minutes the sheriff arrived and following a quick conversation in hushed tones between the man who found him and the officer, Delmar was picked up and put into the back of the police car.
Delmar awoke the next morning inside of a jail cell. And while surrounded by bars, the space felt secure rather than harsh. A light green blanket and soft white pillow kept him company on a not-too-uncomfortable cot that hung from the ceiling via cables and swayed ever so gently with his movement. An empty metal table lined the only wall not filled with bars and under it were his filthy boots, which had been cleaned and placed neatly underneath. There was a stack of what he assumed were clean clothes sitting on a small stool. Delmar noticed that he too had been changed into clean undergarments. However, all of these developments were drowned out by the overwhelming smell of cooking meat that filled his nose.
“Smells good, don’t it?” A voice said from around a corner. It was the same voice from inside the car the night before. “Yeah, we didn’t want to disturb you. You were sleeping something fierce. We had to clean you up a bit due to the fact that you were covered in-“
“Rat turds,” Delmar finished, to himself, somewhat awash in shame.
“Ayup.” The man attached to the voice said as he entered the space. His voice however wasn’t judging him, but sounded rather sympathetic to Delmar’s plight. The man was carrying a large tray of food. Eggs, toast, coffee, and what looked like two huge ham steaks sitting atop and spilling over the sides of a plate.
“Get that for me would ya? ‘Snot locked,” the man said, indicating the door to the cell. Delmar stood up slowly and pulled. Instead of feeling resistance the door to the cell indeed swung open easily. “Thank you,” the man said, smiling, and he moved into the cell and set the tray down on the metal table.
“Now, I don’t expect you to be able to finish all of this, in fact prolly a good idea that you don’t on account of how little you’ve had to eat in recent days, but I figure it would get you started,” said the man. “You probably don’t remember me telling you last night, but my name’s Sheriff Dewayne Davis…” the sheriff continued, “…and since you weren’t drunk last night when we pulled you out of that car, and you’re skinnier than a scarecrow, I believe that you’re not trouble. Just someone who needs a little help.” The sheriff stopped at this and stared directly into Delmar’s eyes. “Am I wrong?” The sheriff was smiling still, but his words weren’t.
“No, I’m no trouble,” Delmar replied.
“I thought not,” said the sheriff, rubbing his hands together.
“I haven’t eaten…“ Delmar began to say, but then he fell silent.
“I know, I know,“ said the sheriff. “We get a few of you coming in off the rails every few weeks or so. And although we don’t necessarily take to you jumping, we see it as our job to clean you up, fatten you up, and then get you gone.”
“…we see it as our job to clean you up, fatten you up, and then get you gone.”
Delmar begins to interrupt and is dismissed with a smile and a wave of the hand. “You don’t have to worry about paying us, it’s our duty to the town. Also, I might add it gives us a sense of pride to contribute like this. ‘Course you will need to stay in the cell as the only extra beds in town are those up at the orphanage on 19, run by Headmaster Renshaw and I guarantee you, he would make you pay for it.”
“Thank you,” is all Delmar is able to get out.
“You’re welcome,” is all the sheriff says in return and then he was gone again.
Once he finished eating his fill — and the sheriff was right there was no way he would have been able to consume the mountain of food that lined the tray — Delmar laid back down and dozed happily. The events of the past few weeks had finally started to change for the better and Delmar was going to make sure that he would repay the kindness with whatever meager help he could.
He awoke next the following morning. Did I really sleep a full day? Delmar wondered and shook the cobwebs from his mind. He could hear a radio playing the last few yodels of Cattle Call, a tune by one of Delmar’s favorite singers Tex Owens. The sheriff appeared once again and they spoke softly as Delmar ate another full helping of food, this time polishing off the entire set.
“Looks like someone got their strength back, that’s good.” The sheriff would say and then he would take the dishes, only to return with another two square meals through the course of the day. Occasionally he would bring reading material and crossword puzzles for Delmar to pass the time. Delmar found a broom and would sweep up the cell and the area surrounding it as a way of repayment.
This went on for a full two weeks and Delmar had never been happier. True he lived in a cell, and the sheriff was the only person he had come into contact with during this time, but Delmar was a quiet man in the first place and didn’t mind the solitude. He kept thinking about how a man could have a hard time but was ever so grateful for the kindness he had been shown. Plus the food was delicious. One night the sheriff had even brought him a slice of cheesecake from Peck’s. Delmar didn’t know Peck, but from the sheriff’s tone, he inferred that this was a special treat.
This routine lasted until the end of the fourteenth day. When the sheriff walked in on this day, Delmar could tell something was different. “What’s wrong Dewayne?” (They had been on a first-name basis since the sixth night.)
“Nothing, Delmar. In fact things are looking up,” the sheriff replied and smiled his usual smile. “You remember how I said it was our duty to clean you up, fatten you up, and get you gone when you first arrived?”
“Sure, Dewayne,” Delmar said.
“Well, tonight’s the night,” the sheriff responded.
“Really?” Delmar attempted to sound happy, but in truth he had become adjusted to this way of living and while he knew it would never have been able to last, he was sad to see it go.
“Ayup. In fact, there is a man that will be here in a few minutes to pick you up and take you to the city limits. His name is Mr. Meetz, Sam Meetz. Kind of a local hero. He runs a business here in town. In fact, the meat that you have been gobbling up for darned near this past fortnight has been provided by him.”
“His name is Mr. Meetz, Sam Meetz. Kind of a local hero. He runs a business here in town. In fact, the meat that you have been gobbling up for darned near this past fortnight has been provided by.”
“That was kind of him,” Delmar said quickly.
“You can pass along your thanks when he gets here,” said the sheriff.
“Dewayne…,” Delmar began but was quickly cut off by the sheriff.
“Delmar, I gotta ask you a question. Do you want to leave town?”
“Do you want to leave town?” The man repeated.
Having not given it much thought Delmar replied, “I don’t know.”
“Reason I ask is that I’m sure Mr. Meetz could find a place for you, would you like that?”
“A job?” Delmar could feel anxiety but also a rush of relief. Here he was alone, in the middle of what folks were calling the great panic, and there was going to be a local townsperson that may take pity on him, maybe even give him a job.
“Mr. Meetz should be here any minute and I could put in a good word for you if you’d like,” continued Dewayne.
“You’ve already done so much…” Delmar began and was just as quickly interrupted by Dewayne.
“Think nothing of it. I’ll have a word with Mr. M when he gets here.”
Just then the light from the headlights of a loud, shiny red pickup truck with a smiling face emblazoned along the doorway, breaking through the front window of the station and then shifting right as the growling vehicle pulled up in front of the door and sat for a moment. The truck sat still a beat, idling. Its engine created a now consistent, if not hungry sounding, purr, accompanied by the metallic bangs of the door to the cab as it opened and closed in quick succession.
“That’ll be your ride! I’ll just head out and talk to him about you sticking around a little longer.” And with that the sheriff jumped up and walked through the door.
When he returned, he was followed by a large mustachioed man in white butcher’s clothes. If Dewayne’s smile had been pleasant, this man’s smile absolutely beamed. At once, Delmar felt comfortable near him.
“Well, hello there,” the man said as he strode forward with his hand extended. He took Delmar’s hand in his and shook it greedily. He then began to speak, not leaving any room for Delmar to say anything, but somehow Delmar didn’t mind.
“Mr. Sam Meetz and may I say that it is great to meet you, great to meet you, Mr. Reeves. Love to see that the sheriff here has been taking care of you so well!” At this he winked at the sheriff and then returned to the torrent of speech. “Sheriff Davis here has told me all about you and as I understand it, you would like to remain here in our small town just a little longer, which is fine by me! FINE BY ME, I SAY! HA! I think that we should get you out of this dreary old jail cell and take you up to our main building. You see, Delmar, I run a family business here in Carey and I serve on a number of committees that promise the continued prosperity of our humble little town and nothing is going to get in the way of that happiness. And that is where you come in. We would like to invite you to take part in keeping the town happy. You would like that wouldn’t you, Mr. Reeves?”
“You bet!” Jumping at the chance to possibly pay back his hosts Delmar almost yelled into the face of the obviously important man standing in front of him.
“Atta Boy! Atta Boy! Oh Dewayne, I like his spirit. It is absolutely delicious!” And with that Sam slapped Delmar on the back and ushered him to the door of the cell. Excitedly Delmar walked out of the cell, through the door of the station, and climbed into the cab of the shiny red pickup truck sitting just outside.
Now that Delmar was in the cab, Sam turned his attention to the sheriff, however he never stopped smiling and he kept his eyes on the young man sitting in the seat of the idling truck.
“You’ve done well in getting him ready,” Sam began. “I take him for what 200 pounds by now?”
“Scale on the bed read 202 this morning,” Dewayne replied.
“Good, good. Thank you for your help in keeping the town free of riff-raff, Dewayne, it is awfully important to do so now-a-days.”
“So you think you can use him, Mr. M?” Dewayne asked.
“Oh, certainly. And I think that if the other three you have in the back turn out as plump as he does eating your wife’s cooking then we will have ourselves a very prosperous autumn indeed. Did you really only have to drug him once?”
“…if the other three you have in the back turn out as plump as he does eating your wife’s cooking then we will have ourselves a very prosperous autumn indeed.”
“Yes, sir,” Dewayne responded.
Sam smiled, “That is wonderful. I find the use of sedatives makes the meat a bit tougher.”
“Sir…,” Dewayne shifted uncomfortably.
“Yes, yes your payment. So that’s five dollars for you, five for your wife and the usual two dollars for Norton down at the yard for calling him to your attention. You will make sure to remember him this time, won’t you?”
“That’s just it sir, I was wondering if the missus and I could forego our payment this time and instead just ask for a set of ribs for each of us? Just got a new smoker and I’m dying to try it out.”
“Yes, yes, Dewayne, I think we could make that happen,” Sam nodded.
“No, no, thank you!” Sam smiled brighter than ever, his eyes having never left the cab of the truck. Not once. “And thank Maggie for me as well. That cheesecake the other night was simply to die for.”
And with that, Mr. Sam Meetz, the owner and operator of Meetz Meats, walked out of the station, got into the cab of his truck and took Delmar Reeves — a man who had never had enough luck — to his place of business. Bad following good.
Thirty years of fear allows for a whole lot of memories to be made. Share your favorites in the comments and stay in the know for all things HHN30 by following @HorrorNightsORL.
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