Friday, June 17, 2011

Special Effects

This never happens.

I'm one of those lame joke tellers who has to pause twelve times to mentally run through the punchline. My ghost stories aren't a lot better. Five-year-olds have been known to sigh impatiently and walk away to check the score on the game.

But this time was different. This time I had a secret weapon. This time, I had special effects.

We were exploring a wooded creek, my son and I and two of his friends. One of the boys discovered some debris on the bank and got to wondering where it came from.

I decided to fill him in. I started weaving this spooky story about a strange old man who had been in a horrible accident, the result of a group of seven-year-old boys—boys just like you—ding dong ditching him. It ended badly for the old man, and he vowed to get revenge on any seven-year-old boys who ever had the bad luck to wander too close to his home—this creek.

A dog barked.

"He trained his dog to bark," I told them, "Whenever seven-year-old boys came around. That's his signal. He's probably getting ready even now."

Their eyes grew wide.

I continued with my tale, adding details as the scenery dictated.

Then one of the boys said, "What's that smell?"

"Yeah, what smells so bad?"

The smell was unmistakable—death. Right on cue.

First we spotted the maggots.

Then we saw the fur.

Some bones.

A spine.

A tail.

A head.

And the creepiest part of all — a butterfly, floating in stage left. A little too Silence of the Lambs for my liking.

The two friends, sensible little boys, were properly disgusted and eager to get far away from the source of the stench. It was my child who wanted to investigate further. My child, who is still afraid to go to the bathroom at night in his own home, was suddenly fearless. He would have carried the skull home in his back pocket if I'd let him.

In fact, I think I'll let my husband do the next couple loads of laundry. Just in case.

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