a modern retelling of “Blue Beard” by Charles Perrault

Once upon a time at the mall, there was a guy named Ron that everyone just called Blue Beard on account of his long, dyed blue beard. Blue Beard was working at the store Lukewarm Idea for $9.50 per hour and no commission. He worked at a store that sold novelties, and his beard was blue to portray the sorrow he felt in the depths of his soul when he looked at mankind. He lived in the basement of a house up the road from the mall he worked at. He was 35 and had no children. Sometimes he had girlfriends for a while, and then they just sort of went away. Nobody paid any particular attention to where he’d picked them up from or where they went. Everyone assumed that Blue Beard was just that weird band guy that, although women thought he was kind of ugly, still managed to pick up chicks on the regular.

A couple nights out of the week, he worked at a gas station to pick up some extra money, money that he spent on surprisingly lavish surroundings. To walk into his basement home, a person would have thought he must surely have come from money, and old money, no less. The black curtains were velvet, the glasses he drank soda out of were crystal, and his computer desk and even the mouse and mousepad he used were of gilded gold. He had a huge TV in his living room and a binder filled with horror DVDs.

He started dating this cashier named Amy. Amy’s friend Rochelle also worked at the store that sold novelties and T-shirts and incense and tarot cards.

“Hey, Shelly,” said Amy, walking into the break room. “How’s it goin’?”

“Great!” Amy exclaimed. She held in her hands a bouquet of black roses, roses that her new boyfriend Ron had given her. “Ron gave me these. Isn’t he sweet?”

“Doesn’t that mean he’s gonna kill you or something?!” Rochelle—“Shelly”—teased, playfully batting Amy on the arm.

“You’re just jealous,” said Amy. She had three minutes before her shift was up, so she fumbled with the combination lock on her locker, hastily put in the bouquet of black roses, and went out to start her shift. The customers had left the shirts in absolute disarray, some of them just thrown onto the ground in a heap, like they’d tried them on one by one.

“Ugh, they’re so rude!” Amy exclaimed.

Ron walked over and started picking up the shirts, folding them, and helping her put them onto the shelves. “Don’t worry about it, babe. I gotcha,” he reassured her. He took a quick look around for managers and then planted a quick kiss on Amy’s lips. Amy had never felt so loved, so cared for, in all her life.


Amy came in to work tired one morning.

“You okay, girl?” asked Shelly. “You don’t look so good.”

Amy sighed. “Ron and I got in a fight last night. I was up ‘til like 4am crying my eyes out.”

“You want to talk about it?”

“No,” Amy replied, though she did, in fact, want to talk about things. She just felt like all the energy she had had been drained out of her in the intensity of the heated argument she’d had the night before. Ron had professed his undying love for her, but wouldn’t answer her questions about his past: who were the women he’d been with before? Where had he found them? Why didn’t things work out with them? This kind of information is what people should share with each other, especially if they want to get married someday. And she did want to marry Ron, but she felt, deep down, like something was very wrong, and she couldn’t quite put a finger on it.

Amy trudged through her shift, and toward the end of it, Ron came in. “I left something in your locker for you, babe,” he said as he passed her. She smiled slightly and got through the rest of her workday relatively unscathed. When she went to check the contents of her locker, she found a tiny envelope that contained tickets to see her favorite metal band, We Eat Babies. She started to cry. Shelly walked in.

“You okay?” she asked.

“Yes,” Amy answered.

“It’s Ron, isn’t it? What did he do?”

“It’s not like that. He’s so sweet: he bought me tickets to We Eat Babies!” Shelly rolled her eyes, but another cashier, Kaitlyn, said, “He’s a keeper!”

Amy held the tickets close to her chest. She went home that night and thought about Ron. He wasn’t going to be off until 8pm. Maybe he’d let her come over after he got off work.


Amy was amazed at how rich Ron’s basement apartment looked. He must have saved his money and worked hard for a long time to be able to afford all this. Never in a million years would she have imagined that someone working at Lukewarm Idea would live HERE. This cemented in her mind the idea of Ron being a good provider.

“I’m going out of town for a couple days, babe,” he told her. Then he handed her a keyring with a heavy metal bottle opener in the image of Satan attached. “This place is all yours. You can have access to my room, the living room, the pantry, the guest bedroom, bathroom, all of it. The only place you can’t go is the sub-basement below this place. It’s a bomb shelter that my grandpa had put in years ago. There are probably all kinds of black widows and things down there, who knows what; it’s just not safe to go in. Okay?”

That was fine, but he sure seemed to be making a big deal about it and Amy didn’t understand why. “Yeah, that’s fine,” she said.


“That’s weird,” said Shelly the next day at work in the break room, having heard Amy relate the tale of what happened.

“I bet he’s got a surprise in there for you,” Kaitlyn suggested.

“Yeah, it’s probably his porn stash,” said Shelly.

“No,” said Amy. “He said there’s probably black widows in there and stuff. I don’t want to chance it. I’ve never been bitten by a black widow before, but I bet it’s not fun.” But I wonder; he hasn’t been entirely truthful about the other things I’ve asked him about…

So Amy determined that after her shift that night, she’d search every inch of Ron’s place and put to rest once and for all the fears and flutterings in her heart so she could go forward with a clear head about the whole thing, content in the knowledge that Ron wasn’t keeping anything from her.


When she got to Ron’s place, she took a deep breath. She was shaking. Come on, there’s nothing to be this nervous about, she told herself. So this time, she walked down the stairs and then turned to the right at the hall, facing the storm door that led down to the sub-basement. She grasped the tiny key with the skull at its far end and pushed it into the lock, turning ‘til she heard a click. Then the opened the door and walked down to the sub-basement. She felt along the wall until she found a light switch and flicked it on. At first, all she saw was thick redness, what she assumed was a red shag carpet, and which she came to realize was blood. She saw six large black coffins arranged along the walls, three on each side of the room. And before she could stop herself, she tripped a wire at the bottom of the stairs, yanking it out of the socket it was in, setting off an alarm. She raced over to one of the coffins and opened it, screaming as she saw the body of a woman. This is what happened to those other women! She ran for the stairs, and when she got there, she saw Ron standing at the top of the stairs, glaring down at her.

“I told you not to come here,” he said. In his hand, he held a butcher knife. “We could have been happy together if you’d done as I said. Now, you have to join the other women here, who have betrayed me.” He began to walk down the stairs.

“Stop!” said Amy.

“Why?” he asked, taking another step.

“My brothers are coming,” Amy answered. “They’re on their way here right now, and when they get here, they’re going to kill you.”

That was a lie. But Amy had been smart about this whole thing; she’d called the cops and told them about the sub-basement, and they assured her that they’d be waiting outside, watching for anything suspicious.

“That’s bullshit and you know it,” said Ron. “It sounds like something from a fairy tale or something. Honestly, you can do better.”

That’s when the knock came at the door. Amy held fast to the Taser in her back pocket and watched as Ron seemed stuck for a moment, wondering whether to continue downward or go up. The pounding on the door grew more insistent. He continued down the stairs. So Amy took the stun gun from her pocket, and he paused for a moment when he heard the electric sizzle, smiled, and continued forward.

“Open up or we’re coming inside!” the police said from beyond the door.

Amy backed up and started looking around. There had to be something she could put between her and this oncoming killer. So she tipped one of the coffins until it swayed and then crashed onto the floor. Then she began working on coffin number two. Ron laughed.

“Come here, baby,” he said, swaying with the knife as he reached the bottom step. The police burst through the door. Amy backed toward the back of the room, stun gun in hand, eyes pinned on Ron.

She spotted a poker in a pile of wood by the back of the room and ran for it. Ron ran after her, but she was faster, grabbing the poker and jabbing it into his chest. He threw the butcher knife, but Amy dodged it and Tased Ron for good measure. His body convulsed as he fell over on his side. The police reached the bottom step, looking around in horror at the scene the surrounded them.


The next day, Amy quit Lukewarm Idea and it was in all the papers, what happened to Ron. She didn’t have to explain it to anybody. Nobody was surprised when she packed up and left town, heading for someplace where she could put the past behind her and start a new life.