Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fear Factor

It's a control issue, really. As much as I might pretend to enjoy being scared, it's not really something I'm truly comfortable with. This dates back to my youth, when I took a very keen interest in just how those gory special effects were achieved. Years later, I made a study of the shower scene in "Psycho," detailing the number of point-of-view shots and the number of cuts used to create the murder of poor Marion Crane. The fact that Bosco chocolate syrup was used in place of blood in this film as well as "Night of the Living Dead" took some of the edge of the fright I might have felt otherwise.
My knowledge base was of little use when it came to my older brother. He knew the power of darkness, and the lonely trip to the outhouse behind our cabin after we had all gone to the drive-in to see "The Devil's Rain." When he came at me from behind that bush, I hurled my flashlight at him. In hindsight, it occurs to me that whether he was some demon lurking in the woods waiting to gnaw on my skull or if he was my big brother coming at me for the expressed purpose of getting me to evacuate my bladder before I made it to the outhouse, a glancing blow from a plastic flashlight would probably only make whatever fate awaited me worse. That's what fear does to a person.
Which is why I prefer to be the frightener whenever possible. Like the time a group of friends and I went up into the mountains above Boulder to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. At some point, I suggested that it all "seemed like the beginning of a bad horror movie." As darkness fell, we chuckled amongst ourselves about the idea, but on the way back down to the car, I decided to escalate. I was carrying the cooler, the one that was now empty except the knife that we had used to cut the watermelon. The rest of the gang opted to stop along the path to relieve themselves in the way that nature allows. They had the flashlight, but I continued on my own into the night.
I rounded a corner, now completely hidden from the others. I put the cooler down in the middle of the path, pulled out the knife and ran into the woods. I watched as the flashlight beam came bouncing down the path, then stopped abruptly as it fell on the lid of the cooler. "Dave?" They waited for an answer. I held my breath. They advanced slowly. The were now standing around the styrofoam box, remembering how we had all laughed at the phrase, "Has anyone seen the knife?" No one was laughing now.
Except for me. I did everything I could to keep from giving myself away. "Okay, Dave," they whined. "You win. We're scared."
It had been my intent to double back at that moment and come roaring out of the woods, waving the knife over my head and howling like a banshee. But I was doubled over. It was all too amusing to take it any further. So much the better, since experience suggests that I probably would have been hit in the face with a flashlight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just how long was it before you saw Bruce, the shark? The unseen is always FAR worse...