I have always been fascinated by the psychology of a good “scare.” Why do people flock to theaters to catch the latest horror movie, just to have their pants scared off? Why do people bungee jump or ride death defying roller coasters? Why did I stay up all night watching Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, and Bela Lugosi scare the dickens out of me when I was a child? I contemplated the give and take of a good scare: I discovered something I had never thought about. I had always been on the receiving end of all this scare business. What would it feel like to generate a good solid scare on some unsuspecting soul?
The mind of a fourteen-year-old boy can be quite devious. I watched several Hitchcock movies in order to fine tune my thought process. What could I do that would constitute “the perfect scare.” I went up to my bedroom to sleep on it and looked at the rubber ghoul mask I had used for Halloween sitting on the nightstand. The mask was the most grotesque piece of Halloween equipment that I had seen and would provide the perfect special effects to mortify someone.
Now for the hard part. How would I incorporate my special effects in a scheme that would scare the daylights out of someone? Simply jumping out from behind a door or from behind the hedges in front of the house would be child’s play. I needed a plan that would be sophisticated in order to achieve the full effect. I looked into my bedroom closet and noticed the attic hatch on the ceiling: The attic would provide the ideal setting for my “perfect scare.”
Who would be the victim? I couldn’t scare my younger brother because I would probably get into trouble. Besides, I needed an accomplice to execute the plan. My brother’s friend Nick appeared to fit the profile.
I asked my brother to invite Nick over to watch Monday Night Football and then filled him in on the details. When Nick arrived my brother was to invite him up to the bedroom and then close the door. My brother would inform Nick that he had stashed several Playboy magazines in the attic and that he was having problems retrieving them because he wasn’t tall enough to reach them. In order to reach the attic, a folding chair had to be placed on top of the massive cedar chest that was kept inside the closet. Since Nick was taller, he might be able to poke his head into the attic to see where the magazines were. This is where I came in. I would be lying on my belly with the ghoul mask on and as soon as Nick stuck his head into the attic he would receive a massive scare.
I climbed into that attic with the mask on and lay down on a bedding of fiberglass with my head facing the hatch door. The doorbell rang and Nick and my brother entered the room. My brother closed the door and locked it.
“What’s going on?” Nick said.
“I stashed some Playboys up in the attic and I need some help getting them down.” my brother replied. My brother placed the folding chair on top of the cedar chest and asked Nick if he could get the magazines. Nick was far from stupid and his suspicions were aroused.
“Why don’t you get them yourself?”
We had anticipated this response and had that angle covered.
“You’re taller than I am so maybe you could poke your head up there and see where the magazines are,” my brother said.
Nick took the bait. He stood on the folding chair and pushed up the hatch. I saw his hands groping around in an attempt to retrieve the goods. “I don’t feel them,” Nick said.
“Stick your head in there and find them,” my brother replied. I saw the back of Nick’s head as he faced the opposite position from which I lay. As his head twisted around like a periscope in search of the enemy, Nick came face to face with the ghoul.
“Aarrgh,” I growled.
Nick’s eyes lit up like floodlights. Suddenly he was gone and I heard a crashing noise below. Apparently Nick’s knees had turned to Jell-O and he hit the floor like a sack of potatoes. Luckily my brother had broken the fall. I looked out of my porthole and saw Nick flat on his back with my brother underneath him. A look of terror had been frozen unto his contorted face.
As I descended from the attic I realized Nick still had not moved. “Oh my God, I think I’ve killed him,” I thought.
“Perhaps we can throw him into the cedar chest and no one will know,” I said to my brother. When I bent over to look at him, he leaped to his feet and gave me a reverse scare. He then shook my hand and congratulated me on the creativity of the colossal shock he had just absorbed. Nick was not only a good sport, but also had a deep appreciation for a good scare.