The Urban Legend Retirement Home and Independent Living Center

"Why, I remember when every Christmas shopping season, I used to inspire fear in the hearts of all the young girls," said the hook-handed man, giving a wistful gaze across the retirement home rec-room. "Every time they'd head to their car with packages, they'd look around to see if I was there lurking for them... behind the car... in the back seat. Wondering if I'd ask them for a lift, or to participate in a mall-sponsored event-- and then hijack their car and murder them."

He shook his head sadly.

"Yes, yes, we know dis, Gus," said the Nigerian prince. "We have heard dis a hundred times already." He pointed at the Scrabble board before them. "It is your play, my friend."

"I was in all the email forwards," Gus continued, stroking the prosthetic hook on the table fondly. "I went around the world a million times and back. My tale was adapted into 37 languages. It hit the Inbox and instantly struck terror in mothers, grandmothers, well-meaning aunts and teenage girls...

"They all claimed they didn't really believe my story was true. But none of them wanted to take the chance it wasn't...And passed it along anyway. Now that's power." Gus spelled out the word "p-a-s-t." "That's six points, by the way."

"Bah," grumbled the old man in the business suit next to him. "People stopped believing in hook-handed carjackers ages ago. You're all washed-up, Gus. Things have moved on. People are more open-minded these days. They aren't frightened just because you happen to have a disability. Now, me-- I still make 'em quake in their shiny shoes."

"You, Doc?" Gus gave a bitter laugh. "You haven't scared anyone since 1993. And I'll tell you what's wrong with your tale, too. It's just too much, too outlandish. There's got to be a grain of possibility. A nugget of truth for it to really achieve longevity. You overstepped it."

"No possibility?" queried Doc, scowling over his Scrabble tiles. "Are you kidding me? Business travelers to this day can't go into a bar without wondering whether they won't wake up in a bath filled with ice, missing their spare organs!"

"Maybe in 1993," input the Nigerian prince. "But tings were different then. Milli Vanilli had a career den, too. Times change." He pointed at the board with a bejeweled finger. "It is your play, Doc."

"I tell you," Doc insisted, "execs on business trips in every major city in this country keep a good eye on their drinks, even to this day, to make sure I don't pop a sedative in it and help myself to one of their kidneys."

"Den what are you doing here, wit us?" asked the Nigerian prince with a disbelieving smile. "Is dis de place of de still-relevant? De high powered? De urban legends currently getting all of de action?" He sighed. "No. So da sooner you accept it, my friend, da sooner we can get on wit this Scrabble game, please."

"I passed the business along to my son," Doc continued. "Just because I'm retired, doesn't mean the family business isn't still going strong. You'd do well to remember that, Your Highness. And here." He put down his letters on the board. "I-c-e-c-u-b-e. There. Mark that down in your little notepad, Princey. And it's your turn."

"Fine," said the Nigerian prince, peering over his wooden tiles seriously.

There was silence until Gus broke it. "Don't you miss the old days, Prince?"

"Not really," said the Prince. "I have moved on. My story has evolved and taken many forms. As of 1997, according to, I had created confirmed losses of $100 million in the U.S. in just 15 months. It warmed my heart to tink there were so many trusting and kind souls out dere willing to help a man dey never met move money and liberate a people. I remain honored."

Doc and Gus exchanged looks and Gus shrugged. To each his own, they supposed.

The Nigerian prince clicked a series of tiles down onto the Scrabble board. "O-f-f-s-h-o-r-e."

"Triple word score and everything!" exclaimed Doc, impressed.

"Yes, which reminds me. Perhaps you will allow me some liberties wit dese points," suggested the Prince. "On Tursday, I have de weekly gin rummy game with Lou, you know de guy who was injecting movie goers wit AIDS? And also Mrs. Cluckles, de KFC chicken with two heads. So what I would like to do is if you give me some extra points now, I can transfer dese points over to de weekly gin rummy game-- we are playing to raise money to free my sister, the princess from prison in a neighboring country-- and..."

Doc shook his head. "Same old Prince," he said. "Anyone want a lemonade? I'll get us a round."

"Oh, I'm sure you would, Doc," laughed Gus suspiciously. "No, thank you! I would rather get my own. I only have one kidney as it is, thanks to you... Now whose turn is it?"


So tell me, folks-- What urban legends have been sent to you lately? And have you ever fallen for any?



JD at I Do Things said...


Boy, I'd love to get these guys together in a room and have a word with them. More than a word, actually.

The kidney thieves legend absolutely scared me stiff when I first heard about it. IT COULD HAPPEN! You wake up in a tub of ice . . . the phone rings . . . brrrr!

Creepy ULs are my favorites. Try Googling "black eyed kids." You may never answer your door again.

Unknown said...

JD- Well, now you KNOW I'm going to have to Google "black eyed kids" and find out.

Chris said...

"Icecube" is two words and an unacceptable Scrabble play. The Nigerian Prince should've challenged.

That aside, this was an immensely clever piece, Jenn. I was waiting for an appearance by the gang member who'd just shot a family for flashing their headlights at him.

JD at I Do Things said...

Chris: surely you don't expect the kidney doctor to play fair?!

Unknown said...

Chris & JD- *snicker* Now I'm glad I was late in responding.

Chris- Heh, I wasn't even thinking about the "ice cube" being two words. I DID however, also play Scrabble with a friend who used to try to get MORE out of any word by adding prefixes and suffixes to them, whether it made sense or not.

And, just so you folks all know (and to Austin, if you happen to be reading this): pre-icecubementization is ALSO NOT a word. :)

Nooter said...

mmmm... scrabble tiles... yummy... and crunchy too!

Unknown said...

Nooter- And more fiber than a pig's ear. (Probably easier on your digestion, too.)

Indigo Roth said...

Damn, this made me smile.

This is a great post, I'd have been very happy to have written it.

Unknown said...

IndigoWrath- Hey, making somebody smile on a Monday couldn't be better! :) Thanks for visiting!

Skye said...

Hahahaa, that was funny, comments are good too :D

Don't know any urban legends though!

nipsy said...

Love this!! Wonder what "Bloody Mary" would look like in this day and age..

Yeah, they got me with that one at camp many moons ago..Damn you Bloody Mary!!

Da Old Man said...

I've been so busy today. I'm starting a new job. We are working on returning NYC sewer 'gators to the Everglades.
Some of them are huge.

Unknown said...

Nipsy- I'd say she'd really have gone downhill, but can it be worse? :)

Da Old Man- Oh, just be careful out there. And keep an eye on your toilet bowl.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

That's great. Where do you come up with this stuff, I swear? You are so freaking hilarious. I love it.

That Nigerian Prince does get around. I always knew he was a fake. That doc, though....I'm not so sure. I still believe him sometimes. :-) I'm a hypochondriac, though, remember. Sometimes we are just too trusting...or distrusting. Whatever you want to say.

Unknown said...

Lisa- I had a friend who passed along a warning email I was pretty darned sure was fake, and ended up looking it up on Snopes. Sure enough, it was a con job-- and it got me thinking about what happens to all the widely-disproven urban legends.

It's true regarding some of these stories, they really do tap right into our deep fears. I guess that's why they're so effective!

Moooooog35 said...

I will comment as soon as I get this hamster out of Richard Gere's ass.

Jenn Thorson said...

Moooog- Now there's a career path I'm glad I didn't take...

Not so good for the hamster, either. :)

Chaotically Calm said...

LOL stop the madness Jenn, the Doctor is real. Because a friend of a friend's sister's mother's cousin's friend had this happen to him. Now he only has one kidney and has to take dialysis. OK I could be wrong.

I never believed the Nigerian Prince thing but did you know that if you use a payphone you should never stick you finger in the change slot because people leave bloody AIDS needles in there.

Jenn Thorson said...

Faith- Well, who am I to question the verity of your friend's friend's sister's mother's cousin's best bud? :)

kathcom said...

Charlie Sheen said that the World Trade Centers came down in a controlled demolition.

I'll bet even the hookers didn't believe that but he was paying them so they went along.

Shawn said...

*Standing ovation*

Great post, really. My friend almost got taken my a roommate-finders elaborate money transfer scam until he told me about it and I recognized the details from a Snopes entry.