Today, we take a look at the exploits of the Dick-Kicker, scourge of Eastumfordshire County, and we learn how one man could bring a quiet patch of English countryside to its knees.
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CONTENT WARNING: Liminal Criminals is a fictional crime/comedy podcast, and contains elements which may not be suitable for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised.
ENGLAND, 1974. Harold Wilson has entered his second term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Redge Hedge’s infamous dance, “The Chuddlesbury” has not yet taken Europe by storm. Somewhere in Liverpool, a flock of ducks weeps in unison over Brazil’s performance in the FIFA World Cup. Nobody knew that in quiet, unassuming, Eastumfordshire County, the actions of one deranged individual would shake the nation to its core. Nobody knew of the person known only...as the Eastumfordshire Dick-Kicker.
I’m Sam Putnam. And you’re listening to Liminal Criminals.
Eastumfordshire County is a small place, rarely considered, even by UK citizens. With a population of a hundred thousand, the county’s largest city is Treadfoot-on-Stercus, the present home of Stercorp, a waste disposal consulting firm. It is the site of England’s largest natural deposits of weird-smelling sand, a fact which played a pivotal role in Werner Herzog’s tragic 1993 film, Folly of the Clam. In 1970, Eastumfordshire County was recognized for its record-breaking reduction in crime, following the repeal of a local statute that had made extended eye contact a felony. In 1971, the International Journal of Counties gave the area a staggering ten out of ten in its “Safety and Security” rating, a feat which had only been by achieved Bilgewater County in Alabama and Catatonia Bay, a census geographic region in northern Manitoba. In 1973, the region had seen a renaissance of sorts; the economy was seeing an upturn, a tourist intentionally visited the area, and a handful of young people were making the effort to look each other in the eye without screaming and running away.
The new idyllic contentment in Eastumfordshire county posed a stark contrast to the rest of the country. While 1974 in the UK was marked by civil unrest, labor disputes, and the institution of a commercial power restriction known as “the three day week,” Eastumfordshire escaped the brunt of these problems. As a county that wouldn’t be drawn on maps until the 1990s, it failed to attract the notice of any political faction. Its regional labor problems had been largely handled in 1965, when striking sand workers ambushed their employer, sand magnate and notorious pillock Kled Bellingford, threw him into a crate, and shipped him to Peru. And while the rest of the country wrestled with the three-day power restrictions imposed by the government, the hardworking people of Eastumfordshire rejoiced at getting an extra two-and-a-half days of electricity on top of what they already had. Life, in short, was good.
At least it was, until April 23rd. Known as “Black Tuesday,” by the folk of the county, it marked the first sighting of the monster who would terrorize the region for months to come. The man who would come to be known as the Dick Kicker was first seen by Glen Hud, who was at the time, an 8-year boy walking home from primary school in Treadfoot-on-Stercus. In his first and only interview with the BBC, Hud described his daily trip home across the sandy, odorous beaches of his hometown as he left the decommissioned tugboat that served as the Treadfoot schoolhouse. It was only when he reached the trailhead at Prostate Rock that his world would forever be changed. Hud reported seeing a tall man with indistinct features walking up the path towards him.
“He hadn’t started kickin’ people in the tonker back then,” said Hud, “But just looking at him made my skin crawl. I couldn’t make out anything about him, and whenever I tried to focus in on him, my eyes started to hurt.” Despite his fear, Hud continued walking up the path, not wanting to miss his family’s traditional Tuesday dinner of Sloth-Buggerer Pie. As he approached the figure, he clung towards the edge of the trail, waving a half-hearted “hello” as he came within arm’s reach. Hud continued his account: “And that’s when he stood stock still and making this...noise. Like a sick man doing an impression of a drunk terrier. Sort of a...‘wrwrwrwrwrwrw’ sound.” Glen tried to walk past the man, only to be blocked with every attempt. “He squatted down and stepped into my way when I tried to get by him,” reported the now-visibly-shaking Hud. “He had his hands up over his head, wavin’ em back and forth, making that horrible noise the entire time. I kept trying to get by, y’know, feintin’ and dodgin’ and whatnot, but every time he’d just sidestep into my path. And then he took a step towards me and I just ran for it.”
Glen Hud, age 8, ran in terror back towards the schoolhouse and sought an alternate route home. When he finally got there, there was no pie left.
Five more people, ranging from a 20-year-old man on a stag weekend to an exceptionally dour six-year-old, reported seeing this same odd, aggressive figure in the coming months. Every time, the report was identical, right down to the onomatopoeia used to describe the “wrwrwrwrwr” noise that the man made. It wasn’t until August, however, that the strange figure haunting the paths of Treadfoot-on-Stercus would begin his true reign of terror.
The first victim of the Dick-Kicker, then known as the Treadfoot Trail-Wanker, was a 72-year-old pensioner by the name of Jared Delbo. Jared was an active member of the Eastumfordshire Seabird-Insulting League, who were devotees of a then-popular pastime wherein participants hurl verbal abuse at oceanic fowl. On the walk back from his daily afternoon session of tern-harassment, Mr. Delbo came face-to-face, and genitals-to-toe, with horror.
In a 1983 interview with the Treadfoot Scraper, Jared Delbo described seeing a “tall, thin man, somehow cloaked in shadows during the middle of the day,” “He stood at the edge of the path, as still as could be,” reported Jared, “I knew that he was trouble, but I couldn’t tell why.” Still fired up from a successful day of spewing epithets at the local fauna, Delbo turned his renowned ire towards his observer, calling him a “swine-sucking knobhead,” and a “dweeb.”
“I could tell I was getting to him,” said Jared. “He was tilting his head from side to side, adjusting his stance, and hiking up his foot and grabbing at his ankle.” When asked if he thought that the figure was actually just stretching his calves, Delbo, a victim of dementia and a lifetime of willful stupidity, called his interviewer an anti-Hungarian slur which I will not repeat. “Anyway,” he continued, “I thought I had him on the ropes, and that’s when I brought out the big guns. I’ve regretted that ever since.” Jared had unleashed the direst insult that a Treadfoot man could turn on another.
Things turned for the worst in an instant. “I could hear the tension in the air break,” recalls Delbo, “and then he put his hands on his hips and started sprinting at me. By the time I could turn to run, it had already happened.”
On August 27th, 1974, Jared Delbo told the Eastumfordshire Dick-Kicker to go shove his nose into a flowerpot. For his trouble, he was summarily kicked in the groin, becoming the first of a long line of victims. Through a tearful grimace, Jared remembered his trauma. “I couldn’t do anything about it,” he sobbed, “I saw him coming towards me, I blinked, and then I saw the tip of his boot, buried between my legs. As soon as I cried out, he had already vanished.” With a sudden grin, Delbo chuckled through his tears, revealing a twist that shocked the British public. “He didn’t get me ding-dong though. I lost that back in the drizzle of ‘62. You hear that, Dick-Kicker? You didn’t get me ding-dong!” Interviewer Ken Burnsides then described the old man leaping from his chair in a triumphant bout of cardiac arrest, whereupon he immediately collapsed. Jared Delbo, first victim and technical escapee of the Eastumfordshire Dick-Kicker, died in 1983 in the Treadfoot Scraper’s only office.
He left behind an illegitimate son and a legendary career of slander towards the seabirds of Britain; given that his final insult was delivered the prior day, when he baselessly accused a cormorant of pederasty, I think we can all agree that he was a bastard, and that I hope he rots in hell.
The Dick-Kicker’s initial assault was met with outrage, but not concern. While Jared Delbo was a beloved member of the Treadfoot community, his regular verbal outbursts were known to provoke violence from their targets; this incident was not particularly strange. The dong-bearing folk of Eastumfordshire County still felt safe.
This changed one month after the first assault. On September 27th, the Dick Kicker struck again. Thirty-year-old accountant and macrame enthusiast, Sean Mounder had done nothing to provoke the rage of his attacker. In fact, he didn’t report seeing anything strange prior to the incident. “I was walking back to my car after a long day at the office,” said Mounder in an interview with Macrame Monthly, “I realized that I left a pack of cigarettes in my desk, so I started to walk back in, when it happened.” Mounder reported seeing an indistinct figure, hands on its hips, sprinting across the car park towards him. “He was sort of—well, shouting isn’t the right word. It was almost like guttural singing. He was holding the same note, you know, just ‘aaaaa’ the entire time, never wavering. Well I remembered what happened to old Delby, so I turned and started to run.”
He wasn’t fast enough. Before he could make it back to his car, the fell boot of the Eastumfordshire Dick-Kicker struck Sean Mounder in the man-tackle. Mounder fell to the ground, clutching at his groin, as he saw he assailant sprint off into the distance, vanishing into the mists of the cool autumn evening.
More victims soon followed in quick succession. On October 10th, the Treadfoot vicar caught a boot to the pork sword. On the 17th, an angler in the suburb of Hedgely was kneed in the beef-rifle. On the 29th, a farmer in the village of Idunno-on-Quitaskingme received a devastating roundhouse to his mutton cannon. Another twelve men reported assaults on their ham-bazookas by the beginning of December. Faced with public outcry, the Eastumfordshire county council canceled the region’s Christmas festivals, New Year’s parties, and International Saffron Appreciation Day orgies.
On December 3rd 1974, the first snow in Eastumfordshire county fell upon a people gripped by terror. The cancellation of yearly festivals had not only dampened the collective spirits of the Eastumfordshire populace, it had driven many of them into hiding. In Treadfoot-on-Stercus, over seventy-five percent of businesses cut their working hours in half. Thirty percent shuttered the doors entirely, often leaving notes similar to that of the owner of an auto shop who wrote, quote, “Fuck off, I’m not risking my pink socket wrench for a paycheck.” As grocery stores closed and shipping to Eastumfordshire dwindled, food shortages emerged. As more and more maintenance workers refused to set foot outside of their homes, brownouts became more common. As county sand-workers steered clear of their workplaces, rashes of crab-on-crab violence erupted on the Eastumfordshire beaches. The situation was untenable. Racked with desperation, a group of besausaged citizens in Hedgely came up with a plan. Those at risk of assault would form a buddy system. The Eastumfordshire Genital Protection League, or “The Phallic Phalanx,” was soon born. And it was quite successful, with the county’s reports of groinular trauma fell to nearly zero.
For a grand total of three weeks.
The people of Eastumfordshire paid the price for their hubris on December 23rd, 1974. As is tradition among people with intolerable amounts of Christmas cheer, folks throughout the region began to wander from door to door, belting carols at people who just want to get smashed on mulled wine and pass out on the couch. It seemed like the perfect way to spend the Sunday before Christmas Eve. People assumed that it would be a way to celebrate the season while staying safe and un-kicked. For the members of the Treadfoot-On-Stercus Amateur Contrabasso Society, their assumption would prove tragically wrong.
No member of the Society was willing to give a direct interview with media outlets. However, in his book, “Smelly Sand, Smashed Sausages: An Oral History of Eastumfordshire County,” historian George Cartwright was able to paraphrase accounts of that night. According to eyewitnesses, the carolers had made it through the southernmost neighborhood of Treadfoot on Stercus, lovingly dubbed “The Chowderpot” by locals for its production of mollusk-infused gin. Giddy with Christmas spirit and drunk on the region’s famed cocktail of “Whelk-nog-and tonic,” the revelers made their way from home to home, before passing The Sultry Seal, a local pub. Looking to finish their night, the Contrabasso Society walked to the doors of the establishment, bellowing forth an off-key rendition of “Adeste Fidelis.”
It was Society chairman Philip Trebly who first saw what would happen next. There, rounding the building, hands akimbo and singing a dissonant C sharp, was the figure that had terrorized their community. To their surprise, however, the Dick-Kicker did something he had never done before.
He slipped and fell.
Members of the Society laughed at their seeming fortune. On this day before the day before Christmas, it seemed, the heavens and granted them a gift. The men of the chorus readied their boots, ready to take their vengeance on the unfortunate creature skidding towards them on the icy pavement.
Perhaps they should have known it was a trap. Perhaps they should have guessed that the Eastumfordshire Dick-Kicker would transition from this seeming pratfall into a blisteringly-fast log roll that would sweep them off their feet and into the air like a bunch of drunk bowling pins. Perhaps they should have known that their assailant would then transition to a perfect, stationary hand stand, windmilling his legs at their yule logs with enough speed and ferocity to keep all seven of them in the air for a good twenty seconds, before righting himself and skidding off into the night, whooping in triumph.
Had they done so, perhaps the Eastumfordshire region wouldn’t have lost seven of its basses and gained as many sopranos.
But, alas, they didn’t, and the harmonics of the Treadfoot-on-Stercus church choir would never be the same again.
Other carolers in the county suffered similar fates. On the other side of Treadfoot, the Jim and Tim Memorial Club’s rendition of “Silent Night” was cut short. Ten miles away, in Hedgely, the Saint Melvin’s Yule Choir had made it to the secret thirteenth verse of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” before being brought to a violent and premature end. On the county outskirts, in the village of Nuclear Waste Disposal Site Number Seven, the Eastumfordshire Society for the Preservation of Oral Hygiene didn’t even manage to finish the first note of their novelty hit, “It’s Christmas Baby, parentheses, Did You Remember to Floss
The speed and ferocity of these attacks, now known as “The Yuletide Terror” shattered what little security the people of Eastumfordshire had left. Not only was the Dick-Kicker able to effortlessly bring down throngs of people, he either had accomplices, or was able to cross the entire county in a matter of minutes. They couldn’t fight, and they couldn’t run. The only thing left to do was hide.
Eastumfordshire County welcomed the Christmas Eve lockdowns. Residents of all ages, sexes, and genital statuses, accepted that, for a time, they could only leave their homes for the necessities. They even rejoiced that their excursions could only be made under the protection of an enclosed vehicle, a police escort, and their grandad’s codpiece from the war. Once again, people felt safe, their need for safety outweighing their knowledge of the inevitable.
Like a squirrel at a birdfeeder, the Dick-Kicker soon adapted. The first person to learn this was professional extreme gardener, Norman Mickelson. A local celebrity who once had his pruning technique condemned by Amnesty International, Mickelson was no stranger to the threat of violence, and had already locked himself inside his home in late November, saying that the soil around his prized begonias “smelled of bloodshed and pain.” Given that Mickelson regularly said this sort of thing, people were all too happy to see him retreat from society.
The interior of Norman’s compound was a horticultural gauntlet of death. While most of the plants had died off or gone dormant for the winter, a number of his prized specimens still menaced any would-be intruder, including a rose bush that consisted entirely of thorns, a variety of pine with neurotoxic sap, and a pear tree that he insisted was capable of hatred. Of all the people in the county, Norman Mickelson seemed the safest.
On January 1st of 1975, Mickelson woke up to hear a strange knocking sound outside his kitchen window. Armed with a spray bottle of weedkiller, he crept towards the source of the noise.
In interviews taken during Norman’s few moments of lucidity following his encounter, investigators managed to gather what happened. According to this piecemeal account, Mickelson looked up, into the sadomasochistic apple tree planted outside of his window, to see a figure sitting in its branches, waving at him.
Before Mickelson could move, the figure hurled itself out of the tree, foot-first, towards the window. It descended through the double-glazed window, and delivered a blow to Mickelson’s johnson with enough force to shatter his pelvis. Emergency services were quick to arrive, but slow to navigate through the paranoid gardener’s defensive perimeter. By the time they reached him, Norman Mickelson was in the throes of shock-induced delirium. He would die of his injuries five days later, making him the first, and only confirmed, casualty of the Eastumfordshire Dick-Kicker.
Norman Mickelson’s death was the final straw for the people of Eastumfordshire county, and indeed, for England as a whole. In January, Treadfoot-on-Stercus, its people overcome by fear and helplessness, quickly fell into anarchy. Vigilante mobs, often referred to as “Kicker-crews” roamed the street, searching for individuals who closely resembled the person who terrorized their community for the previous months. Of course, since the defining feature of the Eastumfordshire Dick-Kicker was his indistinct appearance, these crews quickly resorted to assaulting the most convenient targets: blurry-looking men.
The most notorious of the Kicker-crews were the Hedgely Harriers, lead by Harold Bendy, model ship taxonomist and regional chair of the Royal Society for Survivors of Astigmatism. Mr. Bendy was known for his tendency to carry a rubber mallet with him on his mob’s patrols, searching for the county’s elusive tormentor. With this mallet, he meted out justice with a terrible fury that was as swift as it was inaccurate. While the Dick-Kicker continued to attack county citizens during this period, Bendy, or as he came to be known, “Harry the Hedgley Hammerer,” made nearly twice as many attacks.
Despite their lack of success, Kicker-crews gained broad acclaim throughout England. Among more conservative elements of the British public, the Dick-Kicker was emblematic of the era’s chaos and the downfall of traditional values, and cried out for an appropriate punishment. Poorly-thought-out songs, such as “Punt The Dick-Kicker in His Old Nut Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile” enjoyed a brief moment in the limelight. Among the rebellious youth, the scourge of Eastumfordshire was yet another assault on the beleaguered young people of the UK.
Kicker-crews even drew worldwide attention. Eastumfordshire saw an influx of support from the continent, ranging from the French “Ligue de Botteurs” to the West German “Schwanzschild.” In America, a number of travelers were denied passage after newly-adopted metal detectors revealed that they were carrying firearms onto their flights, aiming to, as one passenger aptly put it, “finding that Dick-kicker over in England and filling him full of lead.” For a single moment, the world turned a sympathetic eye towards the long-ignored Eastumfordshire county.
It is ironic, then, that as the county gained notoriety for its rapid descent into fear and chaos, its scourge just as quickly vanished. In January of 1975, twenty-five Dick-kicker assaults were reported. In February, that number had fallen to fourteen. In April, the terror of Eastumfordshire county struck only twice. The last reported attack by the Dick-kicker occurred two months later, on June 17th, 1975. The victim, one William Dickinson, reported that following the attack, as he crumbled to the ground, he could see his assailant slump his shoulders and issue a soft, almost disappointed sigh, before walking off into the summer evening. No confirmed sightings or attacks by him have been made since.
The ensuing years in Eastumfordshire county were marked by an uneasy peace. The regional government didn’t officially celebrate any holidays until 1980, when the conservatism of Thatcher-era Britain inspired a return to the traditional Christmas holidays. In Treadfoot-on-Stercus, a Christmas tree was set up in the town square. In Hedgley, holly and ivy lined streetlamps. In the village of Little Thimbleblunder, the traditional Mauling of the Actuary drew visitors from around the country. But even then, over five years after the first attack, the people of the county were different. Their celebrations were muted. Their demeanor was cautious. They stood with their legs as close together as humanly possible.
While the fear of the Eastumfordshire people has largely subsided, its echoes can still be seen. “Dick-Kicker Memorial Day” is unofficially celebrated by denizens and businesses in the county, where celebrants have dinner with friends, refuse to leave their homes, and wear decorative crotch-armor. In Treadfoot-on-Stercus, a statue was erected to commemorate the victims of the Dick-kicker, portraying a man doubled over in pain, hands on his groin. London art critic Jennifer Tembsley hailed the work as, quote, “truly unfortunate.”
The terror of Eastumfordshire county has inspired a handful of copycats. In 1983, teenaged hooligan Carl Fletcher donned a gray trenchcoat and stalked into the night, looking for victims. On Christmas in 1992, Bruce Delbo, illegitimate son of the Dick-Kicker’s first victim, attempted to assault a group of carolers in an incident similar to the attack on the Eastumfordshire Contrabasso society. On November 9th, 2009, Kevin Bleb, a disgruntled consultant at Stercorp, successfully kneed two victim, who wished to remain anonymous, in the purple-headed yogurt slinger. None of these incidents managed to reignite the terror of their predecessor. Fletcher was quickly apprehended by the police and sentenced to six months in juvenile detention. Bruce Delbo failed to land a blow on any of his would-be victims, and was instead beaten within an inch of his life. Kevin Bleb, the only successful member of the three, went missing the day after his assault. He was found two weeks later, in dumpsters on Treadfoot-on-Stercus and Hedgley. He had been bisected, from groin to skull. An investigation into the matter has since revealed that the implement used to do it was blunt, thick, and left traces of boot-leather in the victim’s body cavity. The case was soon closed, and no efforts to re-open it have been reported.
Who was the Eastumfordshire Dick-Kicker? Speculated identities abound, ranging from a cadre of black-ops soldiers researching psychological warfare, to a lone, time-traveling martial artist seeking revenge for an unknown crime. None of these theories have borne fruit. Perhaps we’ll never know, and this strange, violent figure will vanish, anonymously, into the mists of time. But for now, he continues to stalk, in the nightmares of one English county, the distant memories of the UK people, and the spirit of every poor bastard who has just been kicked in the penis.
This has been Liminal Criminals. I’m Sam Putnam. I’ll see you next time, and remember: when they speak, all will hear.