The mysterious strangulation was a staple plot device in the good old days of pulp fiction. Many a swashbuckling swordsman, two-fisted detective, or occult investigator in the “Weird Tales” era encountered, narrowly avoided, or avenged such incidents. Victims in such stories were frequently found with eyes bulging and a “frozen expression of horror,” though one surmised they’d rarely seen their attackers. After all, the rumal of the Thuggee cultist (another staple of the genre) is generally thrown around the victim’s neck from behind.
But, of course, it wasn’t always a thug responsible, especially in a locked-room mystery situation. The story might eventually reveal that a constrictor snake, a cursed necklace, the tentacles of a nameless horror, or an animated, disembodied hand (which came in both the “bleeding from the stump” and “skeletal” varieties) had done the deed.
Sometimes a story even proposed that, perhaps through nefarious mesmerism, a victim had been induced to strangle himself!
That plot twist was rarely employed, though. Generally, the pulp writers were a bit more respectful of their readers’ willing suspension of disbelief.
Speaking of willing suspension—there’s been a great deal of disbelief on social media, that Jeffrey Epstein willingly suspended himself. These doubts, expressed in fluent Meme-ish, have grown even stronger through Project Veritas’ latest revelation of ABC News’ obstruction of its own coverage of the Epstein story.
While that spiked coverage was of the criminal case, preceding the death of Epstein, the public can be forgiven for being more suspicious than ever that the coverage of Epstein’s death has been, well, “fake noose.”
Which means those memes are likely to “hang around” a while longer.
Okay, I’m sorry, I’ll stop. You’ll find better jokes in dozens of the memes awaiting your contemplation out there, anyway. Before you contemplate those, however, contemplate this:
In true pulp-story poetic justice fashion, a monstrous villain is dead. Whether a thug’s rumal, a witch’s spell, or some superhuman feat of unlikely self-asphyxiation was involved is immaterial. We need not concern ourselves with the strangulation of the villain.
But what monster, from beyond the imaginations of the darkest pulp writers, could strangle the story? What monster could wrap its multitudinous malicious tentacles around a thousand media throats, and look deep into the horror-stricken, professionally made-up eyes, and frighten or mesmerize the media into silence?
That monster is still lurking out there, ready to strangle more stories—and we’ll never know how many it strangled in the past.
Let us relentlessly pursue and harry that mysterious monster, until we can bring it out into the light and put an end to it.
After all—it’s not going to destroy itself.