If you missed the party, here's the scoop: WEREWOLVES ARE IN CARBON CLIFF.
At least that's what the Rock Island County Historical Society would have us believe. It was at a trivia night a few weeks ago at the RICHS that the question was posed: "What Rock Island County town is known to be inhabited by werewolves?" The answer was Carbon Cliff, and the volunteers at the RICHS had the "proof" in some antique news clipping or historical journal.
Of course, when I returned to the Historical Society a few days later, no one could find the source of this Carbon Cliff werewolf lore -- which probably means the whole thing's a load of hooey. OR it means that I've stumbled upon a secret society sworn to protect the decades-long secret of wolven atrocities walking among us.
I was hoping that my shocking expose last week would have netted me a Pulitzer by now, or at least a phone call from the National Enquirer. They must have misplaced my number. But this lack of national interest got me to thinking.
Maybe I need to get in the thick of things. After all, Geraldo didn't just report about Al Capone's vault -- he took a sledgehammer to the sucker and crawled right in. Of course, Geraldo didn't find a dang thing in that vault, but he also didn't have the potential of opening up a vault of werewolves. The only way for you people to take me seriously is if I put my money where my mouth is and head out to Carbon Cliff to see for myself.
You've heard of the book and soon-to-be-movie "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," right? I can one-up that. I am Shane Brown, Werewolf, err, Finder-Outer-About. And last weekend, I grabbed my friend Linn and we cruised into Carbon Cliff looking for any signs of things that go grrr in the night.
You might, of course, wonder why we decided to do this on a Sunday afternoon. Well, rest assured that it had nothing to do with the fact that Sunday afternoons are boring and we needed something to do to kill time. No, no -- we had scientific reasons for an afternoon werewolf hunt. I just need to think up some, hang on.
Okay, I've got it. First off, anyone who's seen the Twilight films knows that the full moon thing is hogwash -- those annoying shirtless kids can just wolf out any old time they fancy. But let's for a minute assume that our Carbon Cliff creatures are your more traditional full-moon werewolves. Well, the night prior was a full moon. In fact, it was the much-touted SUPERmoon. So ask yourself this: What's easier to slay, a pack of ravenous monsters running amok all super-wolfy? Or a pack of hungover humans with bellies full of innocent villagers the next day? I pick my fights wisely.
We were barely in town for minutes before the evidence began piling up:
- You can barely drive a block in Carbon Cliff without seeing a basketball hoop -- and, as any fan of "Teen Wolf" knows, werewolves love to hit the courts.
- A business on the edge of town called ALL FUR FUN. "Dog grooming," my fanny. It's clearly a rec hall for wayward werewolves. Carbon Cliff resident and assured non-werewolf Rebecca Springer tells me she's been there twice during business hours only to find a sign saying "back in 5." Hmm.
- A prominent sign on one of the main roads announcing "CHILDREN ALONG PAVEMENT"?? Come on, werewolves, we all know you need a place to dump the carcasses of your victims, but there's no need to advertise it.
The proof was all around us, but I was still surprised when we rounded a corner to find ourselves face to face with a real life werewolf.
Well, maybe it was a were-spaniel. But one look into its eyes and you could see its demonic fury. But I could also see its humanity and regret for its evil ways -- why else would it tie itself up on a leash in its own front yard? Only one reason: to save its fellow man from its wanton bloodlust. Suddenly I felt sympathy for this creature, born into a hideous double life beyond its control. I knew what I had to do.
"Attention, were-beast!" I shouted at the monster. "Your truth has been revealed! It is my sworn duty as a top-notch journalist to warn the public of your menace. However, I am not without sympathy. Perhaps there is a way that humans and shape-shifters may live together in peace. I am willing to cease my plans to head up a mob of angry villagers if you promise no more harm to befall humans. Do you accept these terms?"
The beast looked at me intently and distinctly said, "Yep." Or maybe it was "yip." Still, it understood. I understood. You're welcome, Quad Cities: I just brokered peace between humans and werewolves.
When I got to work on Monday, I was stunned to open an e-mail from one Bill Hintz, Village Trustee of Carbon Cliff. Now that the cat was out of the bag, the truth could finally be set free.
"I thought I'd put yours and residents' minds at ease," he wrote to me, "While werewolves have been around hundreds of years, we passed several ordinances banning this type of noctural activity. It hasn't been without its challenges, however. Do you have any idea what it costs to supply the Rock Island County Sheriffs Dept. with silver bullets? It can be a strain on Village finances, but we've managed to perservere even in these difficult economic times.
"In all seriousness, you should make a visit to the lower Village sometime and look at our green street initiative. Village President Ken Williams and the board have worked long and hard to bring this project to fruition. Moreover, having the streets under construction has been somewhat stressful for our werewolf populace. Home deliveries have been difficult if not impossible for them."
Carbon Cliff, it's good to know your government officials are working hard (and have a pretty good sense of humor.) And speaking of Carbon Cliff Village President Ken Williams, it turns out you might know him better from his earlier days as an actor on the classic Acri Creature Feature monster movie showcase -- where he portrayed Beauregard the Werewolf. Gulp.