The Kropp family had always been an anomaly to their cookie-cutter neighbors, the talk of grocery store visits, playground nonsense and dad laughs around the grill. a force in black and a permanent storm cloud overhead, horror stories of raising the dead and tortured screams throughout the cold winter nights (the raising dead stories were true, the screams were usually from Andy in the throes of passion, not as fanciful as what children chattered about.) whenever they stepped out of a house the seemed to be as old as Grandmama and into the world beyond the thick film of fog, it seemed that everyone's eyes trained like magnets to their inky persona. from Emerson's beheaded Marie Antoinette doll to the stick of dynamite Sebastian always had on hand and even to how Andy was seemingly bathed in shadows, everything about the family just wailed something unnatural and freakish. and by god did they revel in that fact, always in a world all their own. maybe they'd be the topic of Sandra's Tuesday afternoon lemonade and cookies with Molly and Amy, or Jerry, Duke and Michael's sit and sports match on Sunday night, but they hardly payed attention to that as it was. lest be said for the tombstones that appeared in the yard every other week. it was all hush-hush.