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My first/last time in a taxidermy shop

January 28, 2004

Let me tell you about the first and last time I was in a taxidermy shop.

I was down in Lakewood, which is sort of the crackiest, slummiest, rundowniest part of Tacoma, WA, which is generally thought of as the crackiest, slummiest, rundowniest part of the Seattle/Puget Sound area.

I went to this place expecting a warehouse. I was picking up methanol for my gasoline cannons. You mix the methanol with chemicals to produce pretty flames. After this it was off to Burning Man. But instead of a warehouse for a paper company, I found a taxidermist located in what looked like a rundown house attached to a 1920's style gas station. The man was a rep for the paper company and ran the taxidermy shop on the side.

So I show up and the methanol is in 1 gallon metal cans and was used for mimeographs, in the basement. The shop itself was very creepy. It was the creepiest place I have ever been. It was full of half finished critters and the parts used to make the critters take shape. foam heads, plastic eyes, stuffing and more. It was beyond the creepy you might experience watching the movie, "Silence of the Lambs". It was so creepy that I told my friends who were with me that someone at all times had to stay by the truck. If I failed to come out after more than 10 minutes, call the cops. It was that kind of creepy. I'm not kidding. One guy had his son with him and for health reasons, I told him to keep his son out of the place. I didn't have to ask him twice.

To make things even creepier, there was way, way too many people working in this shop. I could see one guy, maybe two or three at the most working there. But there was like 7 or more guys working in the shop. One guy was working on pelts, the others were cleaning toilets, standing around looking white trash, one guy was throwing a knife into a log between his legs and pulling it out again. If you didn't think, "wow, this place is making crystal meth," it's because you were so paralyzed with fear of the general creepy nature of the place and had not progressed to that thought quite yet. I know it seems like I am overselling the creepy aspect, but I'm not. This place was even creepier than I could describe.

But it gets worse. I'm only talking about the main floor.

The methanol was stored in the basement.

The manager lead me down the creaky, dark, cobweb-infested basement.

There I found more guys. They were standing around and looking like we looked suspicious. The entire floor was covered in 3 or more inches of damp rock salt, which is used to cure the pelts. There were rusted out freezers and refrigerators that were full of animal pelts covered in rock salt to cure. It was so creepy, I pre-dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone and put it in my pocket, button facing out so I could slap my thigh and call the police. I wanted to get the hell out of there, but I was trying not to panic. I wanted the methanol because it was much cheaper than gasoline, to use to fire my cannons.

In the darkest, wettest, dankest, creepiest corner was the methanol. Most of the cans were rusted through from the rock salt. Cans were in soaked cardboard boxes that were molding. I would pick up a can and it would start leaking right there. I checked the boxes that looked to be dry to find some that were not rusted out. I could have used 40 or 50 gallons, but out of 300 cans, I could not find more than 20 that were solid enough to take.

I wasn't even sure I wanted to take them. The cans were in bad shape and the motivation to get the methanol in the first place was to save money. I could just use regular gasoline. It would be more expensive, but it would be far less creepy. But I was here in the shop, I told the guy I would take them, I wanted the fuel, but my mind was screaming to get out and not come back. Somehow I choked back the creepy feeling of the place and picked up the 20 usable cans. I could only take two at a time, so I had to make 10 trips to the basement and each time I was more creeped out as I walked down the rickety stairs, past the creepy boys, up the stairs and out of the place.

I paid the guy took the cans and got the heck away from that place as fast as possible. I felt like I was leaving a very bad place where dark things happened. We went to a fast food place miles from that store, washed up, changed clothes, ate and got further out of town. It is one of the creepiest experiences of my life.

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