Grant was neither Mexican or a wrestler, but he loved the masks that Mexican wrestlers wear. He had fallen in love with the idea of becoming someone else, someone that is powerful and respected. That is why he started buying the masks; when he put them on, he felt like he was a hero. Although he was a student at the community college, he wasn’t too old to put on the mask and leap off the foot of his bed to come crashing down on the bed itself. He kept his infatuation hidden from his friends, his parents, his siblings, and even his girlfriend. Even when they were to be married, he kept his secret, but when he found out his fiancée was unfaithful to him, something snapped. He stopped being Grant, and he started being el Monstruo.
He ordered the mask custom made from the internet; it was red lycra with faux hair tumbling from its crown. White strips of vinyl were cut into the shape of fangs and bordered the opening for the mouth. The eye holes were bordered with black vinyl that gave the mask a concentrated, furious expression. When it arrived, Grant eagerly pulled it over his head. He dashed to the mirror and smiled happily for the first time in six weeks. He tugged at the laces, tightening the mask; tying the laces he marveled at himself.
“El Monstruo.” Grant said in his soft voice. That’s not the voice for me. I need something stronger. I need something grittier, more like gravel and less like pudding. He sneered and took a deep breath.
“I am el Monstruo.” said el Monstruo, rolling the r masterfully. El Monstruo spoke to himself in his deep, rich bass voice. He had to practice the language; he had to work today after all. He left the house, dressed in a white collared shirt and dark slacks. When he walked into the small gift shop, his co-workers looked at him suspiciously.
“What the heck are you doing? Who the hell are you, coming in here like that?” demanded Martha, the early morning clerk.
“I work here.” replied el Monstruo matter-of-factly as he made his way to the back room. Martha stared at him, astonished. She recognized the voice, but she refused to believe it was actually Grant. She knew that the break up with Kate had hit him hard, but she didn’t think he’d go this nuts. She shook her head when el Monstruo walked back out onto the sales floor wearing the green striped apron of an employee. She walked up to him scornfully.
“Enough with the joke Grant. This isn’t Halloween. This isn’t some freaky uptown record store. There’s no place for a costume here. Take that silly thing off.” Her condescending tone sawed into el Monstruo’s head. He wanted to grab Martha by the face and pull her tongue out; he wanted to pop her eyes with his fingers and crush her face. Instead, he just calmly said that his name wasn’t Grant anymore, and that she was to call him el Monstruo, or elMo for short. She just looked at him incredulously, then looked at his name tag.
“ElMo, huh? Well, I don’t know if Joyce and Richard will take kindly to that.” The door to the shop swung open as a small family of tourists walked in. El Monstruo smiled gleefully at them as they warily walked forward. The children smiled at him while the parents seemed to be afraid of contracting a disease from him.
“Hello folks!” he boomed happily, “A beautiful day today, huh?” El Monstruo thought it would be best if he tried to be as charming as possible. These people might not understand him if he were to just brood like he used to do. He didn’t want to seem like a freak. The parents feigned undivided interest in some painted shell ornaments while the children walked up to him.
“Mister!” said the shorter of the two boys, “Why are you wearing that?”
“Yeah. What’s with the mask; you ugly or something?” said the taller one. El Monstruo simply smiled and bent down to talk to the kids on their own level. His mind poured over the reasons for his transformation. Because I want to kill someone. Because I wanted to stop that feeling; I wanted to be someone else. I wanted to feel special again.
“I just wanted to do something different today.” he said. It wasn’t a lie, nor was it the truth. It was a good part of the truth. Just then, one of the owners came in. Joyce was dressed very professionally in a pink pencil skirt and a matching blazer. Her hair was well managed, though the style was dated and overly large. She nearly screeched in terror when she saw el Monstruo. She kept her cool; there were customers in the store, and there would be a better time to admonish Grant for his tomfoolery. Martha looked at Joyce helplessly, trying to wordlessly explain the scene.
El Monstruo walked over to the father of the family and made some small talk about the fishing down by the pier. Soon, he found out that the family were on vacation and had traveled from Connecticut to Little Arkham for a bit of rest and relaxation. He made some suggestions about restaurants. After they were out of the shop, he smirked at Joyce and Martha, who were astounded that he sold the family over one-hundred and forty dollars worth of post cards, souvenirs, t-shirts, and books about Little Arkham’s history as a fishing village.
Joyce’s disdain for Grant’s new mask faded as the sales climbed. Grant had become like a new person; he was out going and gregarious. The tourists seemed to love his outlandish mask, and soon he was the talk of the long line of shops that dotted the street. She was surprised to see how much better Grant had become as a worker.
“Maybe I should get Martha a mask like that. She could use a few more sales. You did great today Grant.” congratulated Joyce with a smile.
“I’m not Grant.” replied el Monstruo reproachfully.
“You can cut the act Grant. The day’s over.”
“It isn’t an act!” shouted el Monstruo as he pounded his fist into the counter. Joyce seemed to shrink slightly. She never noticed how big Grant was; his frame was huge and he seemed to fill up half of the tiny shop. He loomed over her with rage bubbling under his mask. The anger faded like a summer shower as he kindly asked if she wanted him to come in early on the weekend, because it would be very busy. Joyce, intimidated and confused didn’t answer.
“I guess we’ll see how things go, huh?” el Monstruo said with cheer. “I’ll see you tomorrow, boss!” he said with a wave as he walked out into the night. The shop seemed like an airplane hanger with el Monstruo gone. Joyce shook with fear. She couldn’t work with him again; she was used to being in charge, but Grant’s new demeanor was more than she could handle. Pensive, she reflected that it was more of a new persona than a new demeanor. She convinced herself that Richard would know what to do.