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Front Page - Friday, October 24, 2014

Are We There Yet?

Jay Edwards

I was looking for a theme for this week’s column when my daughter Alexis sent me a link to “50 of the Scariest Short Stories of All Time.” Perfect! Just in time for next Friday’s annual friendly fright night.

Alexis, along with her big brother Matt and I, enjoy the macabre; KM, not so much. One time, when we lived up on that Hill known as Fayetteville, Alexis wanted some of her friends to spend the night. It was Kelly, Grace, and Sarah, known better at Root Elementary as “The Kinkerdoos.”

That night, they wanted to watch a scary movie, and who was I to deprive them? KM was probably not at home ... No, scratch that – there’s no way she was home.

The girls snuggled up under a blanket on our big ol’ couch, with some chocolate, and waited to be freaked out. The giggles were running over each other, and seeing them there, squirming, laughing and loving each other, made me feel there wasn’t anything wrong anywhere.

I looked through the stack of VHS tapes for something startling but tame. I didn’t need any minors going home in a fear-frozen catatonic state.

There was “The Exorcist” – probably a bad choice. “The Omen” was better, but the nanny hanging herself at  Damien’s birthday party nixed that. And who names their kid Damien, anyway? Let’s step inside the mind of Gregory Peck as he rode home with Lee Remick and their newborn son.

Hmmm, what shall we name him? I know! We’ll call him Damien! That will cheer everyone up on this insanity-oozing evening! 

But it does seem strange that the only other delivery tonight was to that jackal family. Or were they dingos? Nah, no nurse in her right mind would let a dingo into a maternity ward. And that jackal-dad seemed more nervous than me. Kept scratching himself and peeing on the Coke machine. Well, I guess when there’s a good chance you’ll have eight to ten new mouths to feed, it makes for a stressful evening. It’s funny, though; they sure didn’t hang around very long.

No, “The Omen” wouldn’t work either. Then I spotted the one I wanted. The cover was of an empty cobweb covered wheelchair, but the shadow it cast had a little boy in it. It was “The Changeling,” starring George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere and Melvyn Douglas, who followed this one up with another very good horror flick the next year, 1981, called “Ghost Story.” That would be Douglas’ last in a career that had begun exactly five decades earlier with “Tonight or Never.” The classic “Ninotchka,” with Garbo, came in 1939. 

I put the movie in, and about a quarter way through, probably when the ball bounced down the dark staircase, the screams, tears, and phone calls to mothers to come get them began. Alexis was bawling, too, but not because she was scared; rather, her party was ending way too prematurely. I held her and told her I’d watch a movie with her, but that wasn’t any good. Dads are just no substitute for three Kinkerdoos. 


Short quiz. Name which scary movie these lines are from.

“Oh, no, that was no spasm. I got on the bed. The whole bed was thumping and rising off the floor and shaking.”

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

“I see dead people.”

“Hello, Clarice.”

“That house is not fit to live in. It doesn’t want people.”

Answers: “The Exorcist,” “Psycho,” “The Sixth Sense,”

“Silence of the Lambs,” and “The Changeling” (1980).

Happy haunting.

Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. 

Contact him at jedwards@dailydata.com