The Tom Waits Conspiracy

A Public Service Announcement

There is a new scourge creeping into our communities, infecting the youth with a sinister strike of vagrancy and blues. They go by many names: Nighthawks, Rain Dogs, Ice Cream Men—even Chocolate Jesus’, but most refer to them as Tom Waits fans. It’s difficult to determine just how an individual can get addicted to Waits—be it a YouTube recommendation following a 12-hour loop of Captain Beefheart, the simple recommendation of a friend, or the work of a Waits pusher. One thing, however, is certain: addiction strikes quick, and there is no cure.

​Already, analysts confirm that there could be as many as 3 Tom Waits fans in your city. They could be driving your bus, bagging your groceries… even now there may be one rifling through your fridge, searching for eggs, sausage, and a side of toast. Be warned: never feed a Waits fan after midnight. They’ll presume you an ally and pay four dollars a day to live in your apartment, drinking Chivas Regal as they write Christmas cards to Minneapolis sex-workers in July. 

​Signs of addiction seem harmless at first. Symptoms include but are not limited to: the purchase of a flat-cap, a new found love for Mickeys Bigmouth malt liquor, a sudden garbled and gravelly inflection, and a strange fascination with moles. As the addiction increases these creatures, hardly human anymore, take on a nocturnal lifestyle. They begin to ramble down the midnight streets, congregating in the nearest 24-hour diner or bars that still allow indoor smoking. It is then that the Waits-heads form a colony and join one of the aforementioned gangs.

​Whistleblowers even claim that, as we speak, the gangs are congregating in a little town on the corner of bedlam and squalor called Burma Shave. The question now seems to be: what’re they building in there? Speculation suggests they’re replicating Stonehenge using nothing but bottles of Old Crow, while some say they want to build the world’s largest strip club. The most likely scenario? They’re building Waitsworld, a Tom Waits theme park populated entirely by androids that believe they’re Tom Waits. 

With this eventuality on the horizon, we must vow to keep our youth away from Tom Waits.


Brooks Shropshire is a horror writer from Boone NC. He’s currently searching for the best martini recipe. Send martini tips via Twitter @brookshrop.

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