EVERETT — If you live in town, you’ve probably seen the truck by now.
That flaming red Chevy pickup, packed with life-sized skeletons and butchered clowns.
Perhaps you spied it parked at the IHOP on Broadway. Maybe you spotted it literally on fire, around Christmas. Or maybe, stuck in traffic, you saw one of those plastic skeletons pee on the car next to it.
Don’t worry. It was just pressurized Mountain Dew.
Glenn Griswold, 43, is the man behind the antics. The local slings pancakes by day and tinkers with his mobile hellscape by night.
It started last Halloween, but it’s a year-round gig now.
When asked why he started all this, Griswold shrugged and leaned against a skeletonized puppy zip-tied to his ride.
“Shock value, maybe?” he said. “I just get really bored really easily.”
The spooky vibes aren’t contained to his beater. At home, Griswold’s walls are plastered with bones and gargoyles. A blood-red room features mirrors on the ceiling and a mural of a cross flanked by skulls.
Griswold sports a biker jacket and a purple eyebrow piercing. The truck is his primary mode of transportation. On the road, people hand him religious pamphlets.
“I look at them every time and say, ‘I look like I need to be saved, huh?’” Griswold said with a grin. “And they say, ‘Well, kinda.’”
Griswold switches things up every month. Around Valentine’s Day, a skeleton proposed to his lover. Instead of a ring, the dead man offered up a severed clown head.
Drivers snap photos and videos. Customers ask him about it over eggs and bacon.
“People like to put their kids in the back of it to take pictures,” Griswold said. “I love that part.”
He gets most of his props at the Goodwill downtown, where employees keep their eye out for hair-raising merchandise.
“We know his taste,” said employee Nicole Alverado, who recently set aside two light-up gargoyles for the truck. “He’s definitely one of our regular customers.”
The thrift store got Griswold a Christmas card this year.
Besides a few petty thefts from the truck, it’s been all sunshine and rainbows.
Save for the “Christmas fire incident.”
At the request of a young stranger, Griswold was making a TikTok video with the truck when a flaming tiki torch fell between two posing skeletons.
A passing fire truck helped put out the flames. But on the drive home, the bed reignited.
It was at the truck’s peak “shock value,” Griswold said. But ironically not many people seemed to notice when he hit the brakes in front of the local funeral home.
Or when he jumped out and threw a flaming skeleton into the street.
Or when he accidentally caught himself on fire and used a tiny sliver of lawn to stop, drop and roll.
Or when he frantically got back into the flaming truck and drove it home to find a fire extinguisher.
“I just jump back in this fireball and cruise to the house,” Griswold recalled.
Finally, he recalled, a cop pulled up and told him: “I bet you probably know something about that flaming skeleton in the middle of the road by the funeral home.”
The tiki torches are no longer part of the diorama. And the near-disaster didn’t deter him.
The truck is fun and harmless, just like his other pranks. He salts people’s Peeps around Easter, for example. And sometimes he tricks Wendy’s employees into thinking he’s the undertaker. That’s a more complicated stunt. It requires a trip to Oregon, his sister’s hearse and a machine — of questionable origin — that electrifies his body. At the drive-thru window, he sports a black suit and a somber look.
“When they hand you your change, you shoot a bolt of lightning from your hand,” Griswold said. “It’s awesome.”
A final point Griswold would like to make very clear: This is not a pirate theme.
Sure, he should technically be wearing an eye patch. Griswold lost all vision in his left eye after an accident last year. He gets headaches without the patch. But he ditched it when people began assuming his ride was a street-legal pirate ship.
“Every time I got out of the truck, somebody made a damn pirate joke,” he said. “There’s not one pirate in this entire truck.”
A kid at IHOP gave him grief for the patch, and Griswold decided to pull his leg. He showed the tyke a fake eyeball.
“I said, ‘You know how you lose a tooth and put it under your pillow? And the tooth fairy gives you five bucks?’”
Griswold handed over the pretend peeper.
“I don’t know who’s going to show up, or what they’re going to bring you,” he said, “but I’ll split it with you if you put this under your pillow.”
As he told the story, Griswold laughed in the Goodwill parking lot and passersby stared at the truck. A friend, Raven Echo Port, walked up.
“Hey, I came across one of those skeletons,” she said. That was a few weeks earlier. “I was pretty sure it was yours, so I put it on your car.”
It wasn’t Griswold’s. But he’ll take it.
“Anything with skeletons, skulls,” he said. “I’ll add it.”