Damien Dread had a weird name but he was kind of proud of it. You could say he "grew" into the name over the years. As a little kid in elementary school, Damien Dread was teased unceasingly about his surname. Some wiseguy by the name of Tommy Truesgood looked up the word "dread" on an online dictionary from his cell phone and discovered that "dread" meant to "anticipate with great apprehension or fear."
A BAD NAME: Tommy Truesgood put this out on the elementary school radio, so to speak. The gossip spread amid the little darlings as if it was being proliferated among a mess of old white hairs at a nursing-home beauty parlor. And consequences followed: Damien Dread's male classmates threw apples and oranges at Damien Dread during lunchtimes. They clobbered him with book bags on the school bus, whipping the straps while the heavy books hammered Damien like large rocks thrown by Bigfoot apes. The little girls in their pony tails and little pastel dresses and saddle shoes stuck out their tongues at Damien Dread during class and in the hallway, when they passed him. Some of the really mean little girls even spit on him or kicked him with their hard plastic shoes.
Damien Dread's father, Lucifer Dread, signed Damien up for karate class when his boy reached the age of 9. Holy smokes! The youngster came home from school every day with black eyes, bloody noses, and bruises! Damien had to learn self-defense, jeepers creepers and grandmamma, you just sell the frickin' farm!
Damien liked karate and with each punch and kick during intense and exhausting line drills, he would see the face of Lucy Hatfield, who once spit on him; or Tommy Truesgood, who was the reason he was taking karate, or Robbie Babcock, who threw him to the ground in second grade and kicked him several times while Damien laid supine on the grass of the school yard.
Damien competed in karate tournaments and won a lot of trophies. He loved to fight and even competed in "Midget Widget Kickboxing Extravaganzas". He didn't like katas, or forms, too much, but he loved to brandish knives and swords around and he could whip around a pair of Chinese broadswords like a master chef in a Japanese steakhouse.
TECHNIQUE COMBINATION FIGHTING: One day, when Damien was in 7th grade (and had reached the rank of first-degree black belt in Taekwondo), some prissy little girl named Tammy Zent stuck out her tongue at Damien as she passed him in the hallway. Damien thought nothing of it since this was a common occurrence that happened daily. But when Tammy threw a bottle of apple juice on his back, Damien turned around and hit her with three corkscrew punches, a roundhouse kick, then a back kick. The principal had to call 9-1-1 and Tammy was rushed to the emergency room. She was admitted to the hospital in critical condition.
That ended Damien Dread's enrollment at Pines Hollow Middle School and he was placed in Woodvale Alternative School, a school reserved for teenagers who had emotional disorders or who had exhibited anti-social behavior that pushed the envelope into the criminal category.
AH! FRIENDS AT LAST! Lucifer Dread feared that his son would have a hard time adjusting to a school filled with rotten little monsters, but he was happily surprised to find that Damien found a host of friends at his new school. And Woodvale was much closer to their home than was Pines Hollow and Damien oftentimes walked to school and back, rather than taking the school bus. Sometimes, some of the young hoodlums who lived nearby the Dread residence would return home, with Damien, after school. One day the boys got a little carried away and burned the house down.
"Oh well, boys will be boys," Lucifer Dread told the county sheriff as the little monsters were being handcuffed and placed in the back of an idling cruiser. "When I was their age, I burned down my father's barn, and he made his living as a farmer. Bearing the surname 'Dread' brings with it some rough responsibilities."
"What was your Dad's first name?" Sheriff Dogwood Doorite asked Lucifer Dread.
"His name was Beelzebub Mephistopheles Dread. My father's side always had the tradition of naming our offspring after demonic figures. Not that we're devil worshipers. Nope. It's nothing like that. We just want to have bad-ass names, that's all. You can say it keeps the weirdos and freaks from the door. But it can attract werewolves and vampires. Ha ha ha."
THIS AIN'T FUNNY! Sheriff Dogwood Doorite frowned. He didn't see any humor in Lucifer's failed attempt at trying to be comic.
"Listen, Sheriff. My kid Damien and his sister Darkness are carted off to church each and every Sunday. Me, my wife, Princess, and my kids are decent, God-fearing people."
"I find that very hard to believe. Your son and his crazy friends just soaked your house with kerosene and gasoline and set it aflame. Then they threw a couple of sticks of dynamite in that ramshackle shotgun shack as a grand finale. I was born on a Tuesday, Mr. Lucifer Dread, but it wasn't last Tuesday. What kind'a fool do you think my mama raised?"
The sheriff pondered for a moment. He realized he might have been too critical. And the poor guy's house laid behind them like cinders burning at the bottom of an old barbecue grill. Only a lonely brick chimney remained, spiraling up to the sky....
"Well, Mr. Lucifer Dread, I do apologize and I think that I even understand. Maybe. Perhaps. Ah, hell's bells, man...not really," the Sheriff then remarked. "Your boy and these others will most likely be kicked out of Woodvale Alternative School and will be placed in the county lockup for juvenile delinquents. But we have a few deputies there who graduated from college with education degrees who will teach these children. Our boys in blue are fine role models and run the school they command with iron fists. They're tough as nails and stand for absolutely no foolishness whatsoever. And believe it or not, it's just what these little renegades need in their little lost lives right now. Not to worry, these cuffed and shackled boys will all graduate from our fine establishment. Maybe if they're good, they'll be able to attend a regular high school in a few years."
SPIRALING DOWN INTO THE THRESHOLD OF HELL: High school came and went and Damien started smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, and dabbling in the occult. Right after high school, he bought a used Triumph motorcycle and founded his own motorcycle gang, The Dread Deadbeats. He robbed a bank at age 23 and spent five years in prison. It was there that he found Jee-Zuz and after being let out of prison, Damien Dread founded his own non-denominational church, The Church of Dread. He mixed in biblical scriptural basics with the occult and The Church of Dread had the good fortune of gaining such a following that it became a television church, and Damien Dread became a televangelist. Soon after hundreds of TV cameras scanned the opulent 250,000-square-foot church, which was remodeled and retrofitted from being a nuclear power plant, Rev. Damien Dread introduced rattlesnakes, green and black mambas, cobras, and copperheads to his parish. Happy parishioners talked in "tongues" as they threw around the venomous vipers. It sounded like gibberish and looked like something right out of a horror show, but introducing the snakes to the TV audience really boosted The Church of Dread's TV ratings. Innumerable folks were bitten by the snakes and many of them were a litigious lot, so they sued The Church of Dread. What Rev. Damien Dread saved in being a non-taxable entity he more than made up for in insurance costs for upcoming lawsuits.
"I'm in this poisonous snake thing clear up to my elbows," he told his packed parish one Sunday morning. "I can't get rid of these creepy crawlies now. It's not even an option."
Staying on the straight and narrow didn't last long, though, Damien Dread used the church's operational fund to start up a Ponzi scheme that fleeced 1,296 factory retirees out of their pension funds. All told, Damien Dread pilfered $12 million from the retirement fund of Acme Band Saw Corp. But it wasn't all bad. The notoriety gave Damien Dread his own segment on American Greed. He was even interviewed in a federal prison by none other than Stacy Keach himself!
LIES, LIES & MORE LIES: "Oh woe is me, oh woe is me," Damien Dread told Stacy Keach during the interview. "That robed rattlesnake pounded that gavel down and screamed 'Fifty five years in that federal prison way down on the river!' Woe is me. Woe is me. Why wasn't my name Damien Doogood or Damien Doesright? Why did it have to be Damien Dread?"
"That's ridiculous," Stacy Keach answered. "What a flimflam excuse. I've heard every hangdog explanation and justification in all my years of hosting this show, but fella, that one's going to win the grand championship trophy."
"Yeah, but if I'd had one of these other 'good' names, maybe I would have lived a righteous and clean life! I could'a been an astronaut, a debutante, maybe even a lawyer."