Written by Schizima.
You know, the world doesn’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you might not be right for some. I was never a fan of different strokes. Some may say the humor was a bit too “high-brow” for my liking. I also didn’t like it because my name is Willis. Most people could agree though, that it was a show.
Each week Gary Coleman would charm America with his poise, style and grace. The show was about two young underprivileged boys from Harlem who went to live with mean old Mr. Drummond. A lot of people don’t know that there is a missing episode of Different Strokes that only aired once during the show’s original syndicated run in the 1970’s. The episode briefly aired on Nick at Night before being pulled for being “too scary” for family audiences.
The few people that did manage to see it were likely traumatized for life because of how scary it was. Now I know a lot of these stories often give you “the chills,” but boy, let me tell you, you’re going to spew diarrhea all over the walls when you hear what happens in this one. I’m not kidding. Listening to this one could very well give you a heart attack. The only person I ever told this story to had a heart attack, and when I went to visit him in the hospital, he would only scream incessantly about how horrifying it was.
So, take a deep breath, and listen to my terrible tale. I was at a yard sale when I noticed a VHS that seemed…a little strange. Different from the other VHS tapes that I’d usually purchase at these yard sales. You know…amateur porn, family videos, that kind of thing. But this tape…was a little bit different. The owner of the yard insisted that this wasn’t a yard sale and that that tape was explicitly not for sale. I did what anyone would do. I waited three months, came back in an unmarked van, broke into his screen door and took the tape. I’d give it back later, but only after having made copies using a special VHS copying device called a VCR.
I went home, boiled a pot of hot kettle corn, put on my pajamas and prepared for a night of festive fun with my favorite program, “Different Strokes?” Yes… Gary Coleman seemed a little strange on the cover of the VHS. As did Mr. Drummond. Gary Coleman looked to be in his fifties and Mr. Drummond…he was propped up with a little bit of red liquid dripping from his nose. All of a sudden I felt some weird numbness in my right arm, radiating outward from the tape. I dropped it on the floor, and I swear, I saw Gary Coleman’s smile on the cover change to a frown.
Wait…no. I had simply dropped it on a marker I keep glued to the ground in case a burglar breaks in. You never know when someone might drop in unexpectedly…
I put the tape on. The intro played as normal but then something…odd happened. The first thing I noticed was that one of Mr. Drummond’s eyes was closed. “A durk a turkey durhfh margh!” he yelled. What did that mean? As I tried to decode what the message meant, Mr. Drummond fell on the floor! I immediately wanted to call 9-1-1, but then I realized this was just a VHS. The audience applauded when he entered the room even though he just fell through the front door.
Mrs. Garett walked in. Thank God. She could fix his condition. The flaxen haired maiden waltzed over to the unconscious Mr. Drummond and just stared. She turned, looked directly into the camera, at me. Her eyes grew as wide as tea plates. “Herbhrhgrhffrhfr hippo murgghf” She choked up a banana peel and opened her mouth to reveal she had swallowed her tongue! I freaked out. You can’t “Act” swallowing your tongue, and this was decades before CG or advanced puppeteering could create tongues. She suddenly fell, cracked her head on the dinet set and lay there. Then young Arnold, portrayed by Gary Coleman walked in. “Oh my!” Arnold screamed. “Mr. Drummond! Mr. Drummond!” Arnold ran over to Mr. Drummond, stepping on Mrs. Garrett and leaving a comedic shoeprint on her breast. I spilled a hot tamale all over my pajama pants.
But then, Gary Coleman stopped. Something in him appeared… a little bit different. His little boy outfit was frayed. His ocular vision appeared more realistic and bloodshot. And though he was supposed to be an eight year old boy, he clearly had visible beard stubble. To call him disheveled would be an understatement.
He turned, smiled at the camera. “Looks like they’re having…Different Strokes.” He winked, and the VHS exploded.
The hot plastic flew out of the VCR. The ribbon snipped and hit me in the jaw. It ricocheted off of my mirror and hit my ballsack like a carefully placed rubberband (I was naked for a different reason.) I screamed. The tamale flew backward, smacking some candles that fell and set both me and my brand new living room rug ablaze. I ran over to the kitchen to put the fire out but pulled too hard on a faucet handle. A pipe exploded on my head and I passed out.
When I woke up, my house was destroyed. By a VHS copy of a Different Strokes episode from the 1970’s. I began to cry, but then I called a plumber. I opened the door to find that the plumber was a little…shorter than usual. “Looks like you got leaky pipes, and ain’t I got the only thing that can fix ‘em!” He winked at me and my heart skipped a beat.
It was Gary Coleman. He was working for Imaghast Inc., a plumbing company, but he had no van. Gary invited himself in. It was weird, he looked slightly older, but he was still the typical Gary Coleman that we all know and love. He drifted onto the couch and began eating potato chips. “Whatchu talking bout Willis?!?” He sneered, though I hadn’t said anything. “H-how did you know my name is Willis?” I asked him. He winked at me, and began fixing my pipes. Or so I thought.
By the time Gary Coleman had finished working on my plumbing I was up to my ankles in raw sewage, tampons and copies of Newsweek. “What did you do you little fuckwad!?” I screamed. I had never referred to anyone as a “little fuckwad” before, but Mr. Coleman was seriously agitating me.
He paused. His heart was filled with sorrow. He started to get really sad and gave me adorable puppy dog eyes. “I’m sorry, Mr. Drummond. I’m not really a plumber. I just thought maybe you could be seeing how to help an underpriveledged midget from harlem on how to get a leg up in life. I just thought maybe you could find it in your heart to take me in, clean me up and make me your best friend.” I sneered. How did he know my name was Willis Drummond?
“I don’t know…” I said. I had a one bedroom apartment, so he would have to sleep in my bed and eat breakfast with me. “Oh please, Mr. Drummond! I’ll be quiet, live in your cupboard and never make a sound! I’ll even watch you sleep at night and crawl to the foot of your bed like a baby kitten!” Gary winked, and smiled, and though I was a jaded bitter 30something year old man, his tiny midget grin immediately melted my heart to butter. Gary Coleman passed through the wall.
I picked up the phone and called the plumbing company. “No need to hire Gary Coleman!” I said defiantly to the plumbing company. “He’s got a home with me, Willis Drummond!” The plumber on the other line was silent. The line went dead. “We don’t…have anyone employed with us named Gary.” They said. “No, you know, Gary Coleman! Star of Different Strokes!” There was a deep, long pause, and my heart skipped a beat. The plumbing representative’s voice was a little shakier. “G-Gary Coleman…has been dead for five years…”
I dropped the phone. And it was one of those old, corded phones that swung around my leg. I looked at Gary, who was now clearly a bit more transparent looking. He was eating my little debby snack cakes with a devilish grin, though they were falling through his body, half digested. His eyes looked a little more hollow and it looked like some weird white dust was powdering his skin.
Gary Coleman strolled into my living room and began watching different strokes. He was laughing at it. I picked up the remote and shut the TV off. “Whatchu talking bout, willis?!” He said again, though I hadn’t said anything. “Gary. I want you to go down into the furnace and put some coal in for me. “My name is Arnold Drummond!” He said. “Who’s Gary Coleman?” A shock crept up my spine as I realized that maybe he didn’t know he was dead.
“Let’s play hopscotch Arnold!” I said, doing my best impersonation of Mr. Drummond from the tv show! “Hopscotch! Dats mah favorite!” He started eating an ice cream sundae as I drew hopscotch squares leading down the steps and into the boiling hot furnace. He jumped, hopped and skipped before he tripped on a comedic banana peel and fell headfirst into the boiling hot furnace. I slammed the door shut as he screamed. “Let me out, Mr. Drummond! Please Mr. Drummond! I’ll be good this time Mr. Drummond!” It took all of my might to hold the furnace door shut as Gary Coleman turned to a pile of dust and bones. “Whatchu burning bout bilfiriahrha!” he squealed, but his jaw had instantly become melted. The tiny skull lay at the edge of the furnace door. I finally knew what he was talkin’ bout.
I had done it. I had killed the ghost of Gary Coleman. I thought it was over, in fact. Five years had passed, and I had never gone into the furnace to check on the bones of Gary Coleman. I assumed that ghost bones would eventually fade.
Well, when winter rolled around it was time to throw some coal in the old furnace. I swung the door open, horrified. “Gary Coleman?!” I screamed. “I’m no longer Gary Coleman.” A voice whispered…
…”I’m Gary Diamondman.” Indeed, The heat and pressure of the furnace had turned Mr. Coalman into a diamond! And then a sadness filled my heart that could tear the hearts out of a thousand kittens and puppies.
Diamondman looked up at me with puppydog eyes. “I came to you as a young black ghost midget from undercity harlem. Underpriveledged, unloved and seeking the kind of love and affection that only a rich white transgender CIS male could give me. And you took this worthless piece of Coleman without realizing that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, Willis. Instead of playing hopscotch, you burned me alive in your furnace.” His lips weren’t moving because he was made of diamond. “But I’ll tell you what truly burns, Mr. Drummond. Your lack of compunction.” Part of me wanted to hug him, but he could not move his arms. The crystallized diamond coleman statue sneered at me and then broke apart into what was probably twenty million dollars worth of diamonds. The tiny colorless spirit drifted up through the cracks in the roof and floated into the heavens, as I sat there. Appalled.
Look at all those diamonds. I had it all. But there was one thing Mr. Coleman didn’t leave me with.