Today, I've got a guest article from a new up-and-coming horror author, John Quick. John made his debut earlier this year with his slasher movie-inspired horror novel, Consequences (you can read my review here). One of the elements of Consequences that I greatly enjoyed involved a character named Crazy Freddy, who, in the 1970s, murdered his family in such grisly fashion that he was then cemented in local history as an urban legend. Watch out, or Crazy Freddy will getcha!
Well, it turns out that Crazy Freddy is, indeed, a real-life urban legend and the inspiration for John's novel. Read on, and check out John's photos of Crazy Freddy's stomping ground below. (Thanks for making the drive out there, John - I'm glad you made it back in one piece!)
I was in high school when I first heard about Crazy Freddy. I can’t remember the conversation up to that point, but—as in the book—I think it was part of a discussion about where to have a party that weekend. Someone mentioned “heading out to Crazy Freddy’s”, and was shot down. I asked one of my friends where that was, and was told it was a place out by the lake where a guy went nuts back in the fifties and killed his family. He’d hung them up with barbed wire and skinned them alive, it seemed, and his ghost was supposed to still be wandering around out there, doomed because of what he’d done.
Like I said, I was in high school, and since I was a teenager and knew everything, my immediate reaction was to laugh it off. After all, this was the first time I’d ever heard of such a thing, and I’d lived in this area my entire life. Couldn’t possibly be real. Right?
My friend insisted it was, and I kept denying, and eventually we moved on to other things. He never retracted his story, and I never fully believed it, and so we settled into a routine with it.
The place he talked about did actually exist. Since it was pretty far off the main roads, people would occasionally dump things out there, so whenever we would have a party that required a bonfire, a trip to Crazy Freddy’s was in order to collect things to burn. Tires worked the best, and I shudder to think how many nights I was partying next to burning rubber, inhaling those probably toxic fumes. Might explain some things, though….
Other things about the story as it eventually appeared in my mind were real as well: namely the old man who lived at the turn-off onto the gravel road that led back to the place. If there were lights on at that house, you never went down to Freddy’s. If you did, you were lucky if all that happened was he called the cops on you. If you weren’t so lucky and he was feeling especially brave, he would come down and run you off with a shotgun in his hands. But if you were careful, you could get down there and out again without being seen.
This even got mentioned in the book itself:
“It is,” Austin confirmed. “But we came up with a better idea. We’re going out to Crazy Freddy’s.”
Christopher stopped walking and turned to face Austin. “Tell me you’re kidding.”
Austin smiled. “What, you scared or something?”
“Of that old legend? No. Of getting shot by that nutcase that lives at the end of the street? Yeah, a little.”
The shack was still there; Christopher had even seen it on occasion when he was younger and they would head out there on a dare or something. He’d never seen any ghost though. What he had seen was the old man who lived at the corner of the main road and the gravel road that led to that shack. He supposed the old coot was tired of kids mucking around in his back yard, chasing ghost stories. The last time Christopher and a couple of his buddies had taken a freshman out there to scare the shit out of him, the old man chased them off with a shotgun. That had been two years ago, and he had no desire to repeat the experience.
I never saw Freddy’s ghost, but that doesn’t mean the place wasn’t strange. The creek behind the house that I mentioned in the book is there, and on bright nights, the moon would reflect off the water and create strange shapes on the trees, which might be where all the talk of a ghost came from. Back then, the woods would almost close in on you as you got closer to the end of the gravel road, giving the place a claustrophobic feel. And without fail, if you made it down to Freddy’s and back, once you turned onto the semi-main road you could look behind you and see what looked like the headlights of an old truck following you. After a mile or so, they’d disappear. Note I didn’t say “the truck turned off” or anything like that; they were just there one second and not there the next. Logically, it could have been the old man trying to get the license number of the vehicle you were in, but when you’re a teenager going somewhere you shouldn’t, where does logic fit into the picture?
The last time I ever went there as a teenager, I was lucky and it was the cops that came to run me off. They asked what I was doing, and I told them I’d heard the legend of Crazy Freddy, and was curious if it was true or not. By this point, I’d seen the “ghost lights” after all, so in a way it was true. That wasn’t the only reason I was there, but you can fill in the blanks for why a teenager might be in a secluded area without my prompting, I’m sure. The cops were actually pretty cool about it, and while they never confirmed or denied the legend (adding to the mystery in my head, naturally), they did inform me that I was on private property and the guy at the end of the road didn’t appreciate kids ignoring that fact. They watched as I turned around and left, and I stayed away for over twenty years.
That legend stayed with me as I grew to adulthood, got married, and had kids of my own. I would pull it out on occasion while we were camping as a “real-life” ghost story, always embellishing to make it scarier. I think some unconscious part of me realized it would make a good book, but I never thought too much about it.
Then I read The Dark Ones by Bryan Smith. Some of the things he mentioned seemed extremely familiar to me, so I reached out to him and discovered that he’d grown up not far from me, and had actually lived very close to where Crazy Freddy’s was. I asked if that legend had played a part in The Dark Ones, and he said it must have been after his time. The pieces clicked; the story was still waiting to be told.
My next vacation from the day job, I sat down with my laptop and a bottle of Bushmill’s and started writing the opening scene, where Judy comes home to discover something wrong. For a writer who drinks while they write, there’s a magic point where the alcohol has lubricated the words and helped them flow. I went a couple drinks beyond that. When I read what I’d written the next day, I discovered I’d spent five pages describing the front door. Needless to say, I deleted it, and shelved the idea.
But it never went away. When I decided I was going to be serious about writing more recently, it was the first idea that came to me. I sat down and tried again, on another vacation, and this time, it worked.
I did things differently beyond keeping the whiskey on the shelf, though. Namely, I researched it. Surprise, surprise, but as best I could tell, there was no real “Crazy Freddy” in this town. I’d been right to disbelieve. That just meant I could do whatever I wanted with it. The result is Consequences.
And in case you’re curious, yes, Crazy Freddy’s is still around. The legend hasn’t been told in a long, long time—at least not to my knowledge—but that winding gravel road is right where it’s always been, untouched by modern development. The old man is long gone, too, though I doubt he met the same fate that I gave him.
My wife asked about the place as I was gearing up to release the book, not realizing it was real, and since we didn’t have anything in particular to do that day, I took her out there. It’s changed over the years, in many ways for the worse (I wouldn’t recommend attempting the trip without a four-wheel drive), but driving back out there was like going back in time despite the changes. One thing that didn’t change? It’s still creepy as hell, especially as winter nears its end, as it was when we went back. There’s no shack, but then, there never was one, at least not that I ever saw. Who knows? Maybe a bunch of kids accidentally burned it to the ground. Maybe Crazy Freddy was watching.
And maybe I never heard about it because he got to them first.
It was a summer of blood and terror...
For seven friends, graduation night was supposed to be a time to celebrate the end of their high school careers and the start of their real lives.
But when an accident while partying at the local haunted house results in tragedy, they find themselves being hunted by a maniac for whom the stakes are decidedly personal.
Thirty years ago, Crazy Freddy hung his family up with barbed wire and skinned them alive. Now, the survivors can only hope for such a kindness as they are forced to accept that for everything they do, there will be CONSEQUENCES.
About the Author
John Quick has been reading and writing scary and disturbing stuff for as long as he can remember, and has only recently begun releasing some of his creations upon the world.
His debut novel, Consequences is available now as a paperback or digital eBook. Watch for his next novel to come from Sinister Grin Press in 2017. He lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife, two kids, and three dogs that think they're kids.
To learn more about John Quick and his novel, Consequences, follow along on his blog tour with the hashtags: #Consequences #summerofterror #crazyfreddy. And be sure to check out the publicity page from Hook of a Book Media and Publicity for more news and updates.