Each word is taken from the vanity plate master list issued by the DMV*
THA NEYBOR CATT DUZZ KLIMBIN THRU AWINDOW, MAKES ABLINE 4DAH SOFA AND PEEZE ALLL OVRIT. IMGOIN, “HEYUBUM! ULIKEME!.” L8R IDECIDE SUM1 PUTEMUP 2IT. CUDBNE1.
ITSCARY. THISS HLOWEEN IM CNVNCD DAT EVRY1 ONN URTH DOTH H8 MEEE. HLOFAME ANOWNSR VINN SCULLY. DUH JR LEEG. LAMEDUC SEN8OR DANL PATRIK MOYNIHN. EVN MYY GRADE8 GYMTCHR.
ANNDD IMSHURE ZIS LILPRSN NDSGYZ (TOT?) (DWARF?) YELLEN TRKRTRT OUTSYDE IZZZ READYII ATTAC WITH NOMOTIV.
QLASSIQ PARNOYA. YESOYES IKNODAT. BUT CONCDR THALADI ITALK2 1HOTDAI NT LNGAGO.
WYTHE ABIGDOG ONALESH, MISSX COUDBE JUSNE1 OUTWLKN. NOTSOO! IDOIDO LERN SHELVS INSYDE 1BZARRE STVNKNG NOVELLA.
PORSOUL! ICANC SHEEZ DA MBODMNT UV PARNOIA. NEXXT 2HER, IMNORML.
“ALLZWLL B4 IKLEEN DHILL OWTBAK,” SHESED. “IPAID 2GUYS TTO CUTAWAY ALLDATT ANISE, MRNGLOR UND IVYII. NOW WEEEKS LATER LUKATME! REDEYES. RUNINGG NOZE. KANT BREETHE. NVRSLP. IMAMESS!”
“MUSTB HAYFVR,” ISAY.
“NONONO,” SHESAYS GRAVELY. “SUMTHIN MUCHMOR RETCHED. IMPAYN FORRE KILLN THOS INOSINT PLANTZ. DFLOWER SPIRITZ MUSTHAV THEER REVENJE. IMDONE4!”
“TSKTSK,” IGO. “VENGFUL FLOWRR SPIRITS. MAJR PROBLEM NDA NABRHD. MAJER.”
4GET ZGHOST! DNTWURI BOUT VAMPIRS OUT4BLD! DZNMADR DAT 2NITE THEDED ROMEFRE! BWEHR KILLAR WEEDZ! HPY HALOWEN!
*For PL8SPK translation, please see Page 37; photographs by Juliane Backmann
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
The neighbor cat does climb in through a window, makes a beeline for the sofa and pees all over it. I’m going, “Hey you bum! You like me!” Later I decide someone put him up to it. Could be anyone. It’s scary. This Halloween I’m convinced that everyone on earth does hate me. Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully. The Junior League. Lame duck Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Even my Grade 8 gym teacher. And I’m sure this little person in disguise (tot?) (dwarf?) yelling trick or treat outside is ready to attack with no motive. Classic paranoia. Yes, oh yes, I know that. But consider the lady I talk to one hot day not long ago. With a big dog on a leash, Miss X could be just anyone out walking. Not so! I do learn she lives inside one bizarre Stephen King novella. Poor soul! I can see she’s the embodiment of paranoia. Next to her, I’m normal. “All’s well before I clean the hill out back,” she said. “I paid two guys to cut away all that anise, morning glory and ivy, too. Now weeks later, look at me! Red eyes. Running nose. Can’t breathe. Never sleep. I’m a mess!”
“Must be hay fever,” I say. “No, no, no,” she says gravely. “Something much more wretched. I’m paying for killing those innocent plants. The flower spirits must have their revenge. I’m done for! " “Tsk tsk,” I go. “Vengeful flower spirits. Major problem in the neighborhood. Major.”
Forget the ghost! Don’t worry about vampires out for blood! Doesn’t matter that tonight the dead roam free! Beware killer weeds! Happy Halloween!