A box of birthday invitations I saw in the grocery store the other day has been haunting my brain, looking for something to connect with. My birthday is four months away, so it wasn’t anything literal.
I cast backward into memory searching for the relationship, and found a birthday party for my friend Joy that I attended when I was eight or nine. I don’t remember the party; I do remember the lights being turned off, all of us being sacked out around the dining room and living room, and her older sister telling ghost stories, the kind that involve hooks in doors and young girls being attacked by madmen (general escaped criminals) on their way to parties just like this one.
One such story ended with the young girl in question having her hands and feet cut off, climbing the stairs as best she could, with the party invitation gripped in her mouth.
Thump, thump, draaaaag.
From this grim tail, I remembered a later evening, also dark, when my mother, step-father and I sat around the dining room table and listened to a science fiction radio drama while a storm blasted icy rain at the windows.
For all the blood, guts, and gore that movies show, I believe that radio, and now pod-cast dramas, are scarier, because what you imagine is so much worse than what can be shown on screen.
It is because of this that when someone mentions Bill Cosby, my first connection isn’t Jell-o or his television show. It’s Chickenheart.