HALLOWEEN!

The Hell you say. What’s the big deal with Halloween? Halloween was a big deal to us kids when I was growing up. I mean, wow, an excuse to get candy from the neighbors and eat it until you threw up. Who could pass up on that? And back then you could eat the apples and oranges you got in your bag without examining them for needles and razors. And the dressing up was kinda neat. I loved trick or treating until I was about 12. After that, a Halloween dance at school was always nice. I liked school dances. I wasn’t afraid to get out on the floor and was considered a good partner by the girls. I always had dance partners. And sometimes we’d meet in the upper bleachers or behind the bleachers. But that’s a story for another day.

All the dorms and frats had big Halloween parties in college and that’s when I began seeing outlandish and frequently group costumes. It was off the hook crazy. And I loved it. I was less adventurous. Just give me a sheet and I could rig up a toga. Twine some ivy around my head and, hey, I’m an ancient Roman. Not to mention the toga parties. But again, a different issue for a different day.

            My parents never put up Halloween decorations. Come to think of it, I don’t know anybody that did. I mean some people, like us, put a Jack o’Lantern on their front porch, but that was about it. This was the 1960s and 70s South. Everyone I knew was Baptist and they had decreed that Halloween was of the devil. Maybe they were right.

            What are we celebrating, anyway? All Hallows Eve. The night before All Hallows Day, the day all the saints are worshipped and any saint that doesn’t have a special day, well, this is for him or her. If it’s a Catholic thing, then Baptists are sure it’s a thing of the devil. In Mexico it is El Dia de le Morte, the Day of the Dead. It’s a particularly ghoulishly named celebration of our ancestors. While the whole shebang seems wrapped up in Christianity, somehow Halloween has taken on the trappings of the other side. Who wants to be an angel for Halloween when he can be a first class Satan?

            These days Halloween has morphed into a major holiday. Maybe Hallmark and Hersheys  are to blame. It seems nearly every house in my neighborhood has their trees, bushes and porches wrapped in orange lights. There are larger than life blow up black cats, headless horseman on his steed, with a pumpkin as his head, ghoulish demons or is it demonic ghouls. What is a ghoul, anyway? Ghastly and ghostly heads and streamers hanging from trees. And one house has about twenty skeletons trying to get in. Or are they trying to get out?

            Hope your neighborhood is properly decorated and hope you don’t get TPed. Remember doing that? Of course you do. Happy Halloween to all. This week my story is actually a memoir. It’s about a fun time I had on a Halloween about 46 years ago. Enjoy!

The Ghost of Halloween Past

The summer after I turned sixteen I was allowed to buy a car. We lived way out in the country so becoming self-mobile was an important step. The sudden freedom to come and go as you please was wonderful. No more asking Mom or Dad to take you “to town” to buy things. No more borrowing the family sedan for dates. It was just incredible.

            It turned out one of Mom’s friends at work had a son who was entering college and couldn’t carry his car so he wanted to sell. It was a metallic blue 1966 3-speed Mustang. Probably one of the sexiest cars ever. It’s now a classic. But back in 1973 it was just a seven-year old car. I got it for $500. I was soon recognizable far and wide by my “blue ‘stang”. And it didn’t hurt that girls didn’t mind being seen riding around in such a cool car. I can’t say that I was ever cool, but my cool factor sure moved up a few notches with that purchase.

            But this story isn’t about the car, only what the car made possible.

My friend and I were casting about for something to do on a Thursday night. It happened to be Halloween night. Two sixteen-year-olds and Halloween are usually a recipe for trouble but we were (fairly) good kids. I came up with an idea.

            First you have to understand the situation out in the country where I lived. Our community was about a dozen houses stretched along a couple miles of country road on both sides of a country church. Then there were the outliers farther out or on even further back roads. Our church boasted a constant population of about 100. The local kids wanted to be part of “trick or treat” (free candy, duh) but they had to get their parents to take them to nearby villages where they really didn’t know the people. Also, the people in our community were always disappointed that we couldn’t participate in giving out goodies because no one trick-or-treats in the country. Our church came up with a nice idea. All the members of our church who wanted to give out Halloween goodies would leave their porch lights on. All interested children would meet at the church at sundown. An elder with a pickup truck would pile the kids in the back and drive to all the church member houses so the kids could do their thing. And along the way, they would pick up information about other neighbors, not members of our church, who might also have some treats. Of course, that wouldn’t work in 2019 because it’s illegal for kids to ride in the back of a pickup, but this was a simpler time.

            So, about sundown I picked up my friend and had an old white bedspread. While the kids were inside the church for a required prayer and mini-sermon before the main event, he and I pulled up behind the church. I took the spread and went out into the graveyard beside the church. I crouched down behind a tombstone and waited.

            The kids all came filing out of the church in their various costumes. There were about ten of them ranging from about 4 or five up to about 12. They climbed in the back of the truck all excited. As the driver turned on the engine, I rose up from behind a tombstone with the bedspread over my head. I raised my arms and started loudly moaning. At the squeal from the first kid who spotted me, I began moving toward the truck. Soon all the kids were screaming in fear and glee at the Halloween ghost. The driver, seeing what was happening sped off and the chorus of squeals died into the distance.

            Totally pleased with myself, I got back in the car and drove about a half mile in the opposite direction the truck had gone and pulled off into a wooded road so my car was hidden. I stood beside the road in my white disguise. Soon I heard the roar of the old pickup coming my way. I raised my arms and waved them back and forth. The truck driver began blowing his horn to get the attention of the kids in the back. As they sped by me they were all shrieking once again in glee.

            After they had passed, I drove to an old farm house and parked behind the barn. I went out into the field beside the house and hid behind a bale of peanut vines. This was one of the last stops. As the last kid was climbing into the back of the truck, I stood up and began running toward the truck waving my arms and howling. The kids all began screaming, “Go! Go!” to the driver. He timed it and pulled away just as I was getting close. I ran after the truck a little ways still carrying on. The kids were loving it.

            That was it for the night. My friend had only gone along for the company. He stayed in the car and told me alternately I was “weird” or I was “crazy”. But he had a smile when he said it.

            On Sunday there was still a little chatter among the young kids about the ghost they saw Halloween night. My friend and I never told anyone. So, if you were a kid who saw a ghost while trick-or-treating on Halloween night in 1973 in eastern North Carolina, I’m the Ghost of Halloween Past.

DWTS 7 Halloween

Halloween. The night we all wait for. Next to Freestyle night it is the most anticipated. And this year was such a disappointment. For my money, this was one of the most iconic of Halloween pieces. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpDY5-rrck0

That had mood, it had madness. It was scary. Still gives me chills. That’s what I want. It was lacking. There was no mayhem, no joi de vivre, it lacked that je ne sais quoi. For one thing, it looked like they cut the budget. There were none of the Busby Berkley show stopping cast of thousands dances we’ve come to expect. And Sasha is still in. When he’s not tied up with a partner he usually creates a little mayhem. I miss that.  

Hell, everybody got 9s. Half of them got all 9s. Everybody got at least one nine except Sean with his three 6s. You would think with all those 9s that there was some good dancing going on. And there was. Some of it was very good, but, like I said, no show stoppers.

Kel and Witney. What a rocky horror. He was nowhere near as good as his zombie helpers. They made him look bad. And why zombies? There were no zombies in Rocky Horror. I want to see Transylvanian Transvestites. I know Witney has the IQ of a dance shoe and I guess Kel never saw Rocky Horror, but you’d think somebody involved would have noticed the disconnect. His dancing was way rocky and the horror was that they gave him 9s for that monster mash mess.

JVDB and Emma was the second best of the night for me. I usually like my VWs light and ethereal, but this dark waltz was evocative of the infernal and drew me in. It gave me chills. I loved it. And I don’t give a damn about lifts if they ain’t calling other faults such as not enough time in hold, developés, etc. I’d have given them a 10.

Ally and Sasha. Lots of roundness. I don’t usually think of tango as having a lot of roundness. Costumes annoyed me. I hate the Joker. Good tango content though.

Hannah and Alan were awarded a DNP. What do I know from jazz? It was entertaining.

Karamo and Jenna. He earned his boot off the show.

Lauren and Gleb and Argentine Tango. I absolutely adored every second of it. I have a special affinity for the song, Whatever Lola Wants. I loved the kiss of death and the reverse rise. It worked with the music and brought chills across my body. So so good. She almost fell which means they lost a point, yet they got straight 9s. I smell a 10 in the making. I think the judges were as captivated as me. There was a problem, though. While they were talking to Tom, you could see that Gleb only has one hole in his neck. Did he get bit by a snaggletoothed vampire?

Sean and Lindsay were spookily awful. Loved Len’s comment. The awfulness that is Sean continues. And what the heck was a Frankenstein’s monster doing in a coffin? Or the mummies? They were better dancers, by the way. It was a Monster Mess. They almost got him in the bottom two. I had all my fingers crossed. I’m sure they’d toss him if they could get him there. But I’m afraid the Trump crazies will keep him afloat.

Kate and Pasha. I loved the song and the singer sounded so much like Chris Isaaks. A beautiful rumba. The song at least. What happened on stage was cause for arrest. She was flashing those fat legs and hands all over the younger man. And why do they think putting him in a silver suit and soot on his face makes him a wolf. Looks more like Flash Gordon was working under the hood. She did have one very nice spiral.

Team Trick was the Dream Team. They had the best celebrities, no duds. They should

have owned it, with 10s. I was less than blown away.

Team Mistep. It was quite cute. Best part was Kate’s kickline with the boys.

Unfortunately, I didn’t particularly care for either song. Whatever happened to the big budget think pieces like this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP-J5fEbVrU

DWTS 6

Okay, first things first. CONTEMPORARY IS NOT A BALLROOM DANCE. I feel better now I needed to get that off my chest. I have to disqualify two celebrities for not doing ballroom dances. Too bad one of them was partnered with Gleb. He does really wonderful ballroom choreo.

They are talking about halfway through the season? It feels like it just started. They’ve only bumped, what, 4 celebrities. By the halfway point the chaff (Sean, Karamo) should be gone.

And looking at who is left, how could they dump Sailor. Sailor got three 9s and Ally got a couple of 8s and a 9.  I mean the choice between her and Ally was obvious, but they should not have been the bottom two. I’m sure the producers manipulate the numbers to get the result they want. Sailor must have really pissed someone off.

My thoughts in the order they came.

Ally and Sasha gave me true chills. No one else really did that. JVBD came close. I love the 80s. I love the song. I love the colors. I love Sasha’s choreo. They ate up the floor. It just did it for me.

Kate and Pasha. Sorry, I just don’t like her. But she was working those fat legs for all she was worth. The size of those opening steps were phenomenal. I’m with Len, I love to see a flekerl. Of course hers was messed up by the camera spinning also, so you couldn’t really tell how special it was. It looked like a double flekerl. But the dance was heavy. VW needs to be light. 9s are grade inflation.

Kel and Witney. Wow, they did a jete. You don’t see that much. Best ever was Apolo and Julianne. It was entertaining, but I could tell when Witney was back leading. Len got his panties in a wad over nothing. I ran it back and only saw a moment where her heel caught in her hem. It didn’t impede the dance. I saw nothing else.

Kel and Jenna just looked like a couple jumping around in their jammies.

Hannah and Alan. Looks like Mama kinda fell into the makeup. Yikes. But that samba was how I like it – hot. And one whole samba roll. Thank you. And kudos to Alan for not waxing. Men have hair. Deal with it.

Sailor and Val. I think Tony and Stacy did it better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VJDAkm2urU Stacy had legs for days and the opening kicks were tremendous. Possibly one of the best jives on DWTS. Sailor’s wasn’t in the same category. If you dance to an iconic song, you gotta expect comparisons. Mostly I was distracted for a while by how ridiculous Val’s manbun looks. Is it just me? Can we get a write in campaign going to get him to stop?

Sean and Lindsay. Please, please make it stop. Find a way to get rid of the Pillsbury doughboy before he wins the whole thing. You heard what he said – they’ve never been in the bottom two. The Trump crazies are going to carry him through. I liked Bruno’s tumbleweed comment.

JVDB and Emma. Yeehaw – three whole samba rolls. Lots of hips going on and I could see recognizable samba happening. Needed to be more bouncy.

Lauren and Gleb. Nice, but a bit overwrought. All the emoting gets in the way. She’s already shot her wad for My Most Miserable Memory episode.

Not a great dance night, way too many 9s flying around. I think Sean was the only one who got 7s. And capped off by an awful elimination. By dancing ability alone, the deadweight left are Sean, Karamo and Kel. I expect at least one of them will be in the bottom two. Probably Karamo. And I’m sure the judges will let him go. If you are of a religious bent, pray that the producers come to their senses and manipulate the numbers to put Sean in the bottom two. He is so awful the judges would have to let him go.

Next week ought to be fun. It’s the Halloween episode. Looking forward to it.

DWTS 5

Apparently the magic of Disney missed my house. Bah humbug. Mostly pedestrian dancing at best all round with a few exceptions.

First off JAZZ IS NOT A BALLROOM DANCE. They go on and on about it being a ballroom competition. Well JAZZ IS NOT A BALLROOM DANCE.  WTF guys. Get with the program. Nextly, CONTEMPORARY IS NOT A BALLROOM DANCE. Why can’t they get that through their thick heads? And I imagine throughout the season we will be continually subjected to this awfulness and they will add in Broadway, and Charleston, and Bollywood. Why not add in tap, pointe and ballet? They call it a ballroom competition. Then do freaking ballroom dances.

Three of the celebrities scored a DNP for the night. That’s Did Not Participate. That’s better than what would happen at a real dance competition. They would get a big D for disqualified.

Ally and Sasha. Meh. She did a lot of what she was supposed to do.

Kel and Witney. It was jazz.

Kate and Pasha. I liked the QS and polka parts. The rest was just jazz.

The dance of the night for me was Sailor’s VW. And that was mostly because of Val. That man knows how to shape a dance. It was the only dance that moved me to chills. Softer than air, a well done VW like that just captures my heart. I loved it.

JVDB and Emma. Yeah, everybody loved it. It missed the sharp edges and life of a real PD. You want PD look at this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHdBpB1A7iM  Possibly the best PD ever on DWTS. All the things he did, JVDB missed. Watch the two side by side and there’s no comparison. What JVDB didn’t do is make me believe it. Simple as that.

Turn Alan loose on a smooth dance and you usually get a thing of beauty. He is so much like Val in that respect. This was no exception. Hannah was lighter than air. It was dreamy and soothed me. I could have done without all the smoke. I’d like to see the dancers’ feet. Hannah is beautiful and dances beautifully.

Finally, a samba and a good dancer. Lauren’s samba was passionate and had a lot of wow factor but something was missing. I kept glancing at my arm waiting for the chill bumps but they never came. I’m not sure what it was. Cool moves. We even got a samba roll although we had a weird camera angle at the time. And what was Gleb yelling about during the dance?

Karamo needs to go. I like him. He’s funny. We finally get a samba and he gives us this? I’ll be kind and call it a valiant effort. But about as wooden as my desk. No bounce, no hips, no rolls. Len called it right when he called it “stompy”.

Sean’s quickstep should be renamed the slowstep. Simple and a mess. Yet it was his best dance yet. And the sad fact is, he will probably win this season. Trump has tweeted his support so the Trump crazies are all going to vote for Sean. Just like last season when a no talent disc jockey won because the entire state of Arkansas voted for him or the season before when that stumblebum baseball player came in second. Having the judges decide who gets saved may protect the show from travesties such as Juan Pablo di Pace, but it won’t prevent idiot voters from making some clown the winner and turning the show into a circus. If they can ever finagle Sean into the bottom two they need to jettison him when they have the chance. I’m not sure they’re going to have the chance. I’m pretty sure he’s going to win. For the people who care about dance, watch who comes in second. That will probably be the best dancer. It’s gonna be a throw down between JVDB, Ally, Lauren and Hannah. Maybe Sailor. I don’t believe she’s got the legs, but she does have Val. There’s a lot to be said for that. An Ally/JVDB final would be fun. Pit husband against wife – Sasha vs. Emma.

DWTS 4

DWTS 4

What a great night! Full of hooting and hollering, laughing and chills and loving the dancing. And not a dud in sight (I’m being kind here). I’ve always considered Leah Remini one of the more unpleasant celebrities to don the shiny shoes. I guess she’s something of an acquired taste. I think I love her as a judge, though. Anyone who’d stand up and yell at Len for a 4 paddle is okay by me. I loved the madcap ambience she lent to the ballroom. Len may never be the same. Maybe they should adjust his meds.

My full on favorite of the night had to be Ally and Sasha’s jive. Hot dang, that’s how it’s done! She was channeling Tina Turner for all she was worth and getting it. I was totally covered with chills from the moment the silver dress came off. Oh my god! So good. I had a flashback to 12 year old me sitting up past midnight on a Saturday night with the TV turned low to watch them on the Midnight Special. I was enthralled with those four women spinning like dervishes, only a suggestion of a dress, hair in the wind. Wow, it got my blood up. Still does. Here’s a flashback. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzQnPz6TpGc If that don’t make you dance, you got no soul.

My other full on chill blade moment was Lauren and Gleb. OMG how good was that? So flowy, with shaping and swaying. Lines and stretches galore. A Classic. I always liked that song anyway. Hey, I’m southern. So sue me. And kudos to Gleb for not waxing. He’s the only male dancer on the show with the cojones to show a little chest hair.

Then there was Sailor and Val. Someone needs to tell him the manbun is really not working for him. But on the ballroom floor it was a wow performance. Fun and fringy. I love her joyous smile and legs for days. As Len would say, a proper cha cha. Mom crying in the audience was so touching, but could her boyfriend look any more like a goober?

JVDB and Emma had one of the better QS in a while. He kept it smooth and moved with confidence. You always had the sense he was steering and knew where he was going. Not seeing that in the other men yet. Again a great rondé. He was robbed. It was much better than Kel. A point of order. I hate people who say “We’re pregnant.” No, your partner is pregnant. As the guy, you have done your part. You are not pregnant. Now she does her part. She is pregnant. Ain’t no we about it.

I liked Karamo and Jenna’s tango. It looked mostly like a paso doble, but it did have intensity. He totally owned it, no doubt about it. From the wink, he had me hooked. Hmm. That didn’t come out right. Anyway, phooey on Carrie Ann for her lift obsession. But Karamo needs to stand up straight.

Hannah and Alans paso was so fierce. She knew what she was about and she went for it. There was a deadly calmness to her reminiscent of an assassin or, even better, a black widow spider. But she kept letting the grin slip out. It kinda ruined if for me. She’s got it going on. Just needs to control that face.

I seem to be the only one not blown away by Kel and Witney’s cha cha. It was competent and workmanlike. I didn’t see the Cuban motion the judges claim they saw. I think they were fooled by the wiggling around in non cha cha moves. Where’s Len when you need him to call them on stuff like that? Not bad at all, but I’ve seen comparable in Greensboro. Sorry for the inscrutable comment.

I assumed Kate would grow on me. Seems I was wrong. I’m just not liking her. I was trying to subsume myself into a sexy tango and all I could think was “fat legs” “bad hair” and “pinched face”. Len and Bruno called it. She missed the character. Sorry maybe it’s just me. I’m not a fan. But still, not a bad dance.

I gotta say I am a Sean Spicer fan. I’m so pulling for him. Three times out and all he gets is latin. The man can’t catch a break. His body just ain’t built for latin. Let him try a waltz or foxtrot. Tonight he was so entertaining. Lindsay was dancing like nobody’s business keeping the attention off him. And it mostly worked. He walked around like the General on inspection like he usually does. But there were hints of paso in there. My favorite part however was the faces he made. Just like the ones he made when he had to lie for Trump.

Lamar. Thank goodness he’s gone. He didn’t even do one full measure of VW in hold. It was his best dance and I’ll give him props for gracefulness and lyricism. He’s just not a dancer.

Next week is Disney Week, God help us.

Looks like Ally, Hannah, Lauren and JVDB are the odds on favorites for the finals. That’s my prediction.

Best comment of the night: Lauren “No more sixes, praise the lord.”

Best face. The look of surprised befuddlement on Lindsay’s face when she heard she and Sean were safe. It totally said “how the hell did that happen?”

Mea Culpa

I owe a big mea culpa to Lauren and Gleb. I said she dallied with 20 men on TV. That was Hannah. Lauren was on some singing show.

I was out for a medical procedure yesterday and my computer was out for one today. We are both recuperating. Thus, no new story this week. I did spend a good bit of time editing three versions of The Fourth Reich today. I have the original and the “clean” version for submitting to a website that wanted clean sci fi. I liked some of the clean version changes so I now have a revised version. I kept all the cursing. Let’s face it. That’s more realistic. I kept von Hoek’s prey as Jennifer. The captain can’t have all the fun. Dr N’duru (changed from N’dutu) shows her marksman chops and Jonesie gets to kick more Nazi ass. I like the extra scenes. You also find out who Jennifer fantasizes about. It ain’t the captain. I’ll post it once the editorial changes are more than ink stain and lemonade on paper -I had technical difficulties at Panera. Their tables are just long enough for three piles of paper and a pick two. But the lemonade didn’t want to share. According to the web the story has way passed short story and is about to pass from novelette to novella. The length will hinder getting it published anywhere unless I serialize it or make it a part of a book of short stories. I guess I could add more episodes about where they land next. That was actually in my first version but i liked better the idea of ending it with the dive into the wormhole. Spoiler alert: They survive.

And best news of the week, I now have 3, count ’em 3, short stories picked up for publication. Two will be in Ariel Chart Literature Review, an online only mag and my third will be in Down in the Dirt which has a hard copy distribution. No money changed hands. From now on I’m only submitting to paying mags. I got my validation now.

DWTS 3

Oh, good grief. Already with the gimmicks. Movie Night. Then there’ll be Latin night (hello, Latin is half of ballroom dancing). And Disney Night, which is just movie night all over again. I mean what else could they do; put a big dress on someone and say she’s Space Mountain? And the ever popular My Most Miserable Memory Night. At least with the fall season we’ll get Halloween. My guess is October 28. And who doesn’t love a Halloween party where the costume budget is unlimited?

Last night could have subbed for Latin Night. Only one non-Latin number: Quickstep. And what’s with all the rumbas? 40% of the dances were rumba. Okay, so let’s take the rumbas in order best to worst.

Ally and Sasha. Total redemption from last week for Sasha. He was working that rumba. But so was Ally. Only one performance separated it from Hannah, and way to smack her in the face and throw down the gauntlet. So much light and dark and shading. It actually had texture. She so rocked it. But what’s with Len’s “Don’t touch me”? Who made him God?

JVDB and Emma. This is the point in the competition I wait for. When the male celebrities actually start leading. You could see it all over that dance. He was so strong and pulled out real moves instead of all the acrobatics. One great rondé. Maybe he should have done the splits instead of Emma.

Hannah and Alan. Yesterday’s news. Ho hum. It was fairly hot, but not really rumba. All she did was spin and split. Over and over. Alan knows better than that. I did have to laugh at his sexy cop thing. Had to be the unsexiest cop ever.

Kel and Witney. He’s got those second position breaks down. Did them three times. Loved the confused look when he couldn’t find her leg for the assisted developé. Carrie Ann called it tight. That was a good word for it. And how come Witney wasn’t wearing the blue pendant from the movie? I mean it was Movie Night.

It’s hard to call a winner for the night. No one gave me chill bumps. Kate and Pasha did a very nice QS. Much better than we usually get this early. But her costume made her look fat. Reminded me of Hazel, that maid from the 60s. And those white legs. Did she miss her spray tan session? The glare was blinding.

Sailor and Val. Who’s the producer who doesn’t know what a tango is? This is two weeks in a row with the wild tangos. Way too much smiling going on. It didn’t sound tango; it didn’t look tango. Val grounded it and slowed it down, but it was fighting the music.  And the practice session. What is it with guys who wear hoodies with the hood up while dancing? He looked like some mad dancing monk.

Lauren and Gleb. Interesting how she so easily walked into the character of a hooker. But then she was dallying with about 20 men on national TV. Just sayin’. A whole lotta scrambling going on. She seemed surprised by some of Gleb’s moves. It’s been done before and much, much better. Look here to see how it is done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHPY0oRfYzM

And it went downhill from there.  

I like Karamo and I hope he’s around for a while. He’s a hoot. But, what the hey, dude? The song title was prophetic. Except instead of still standing it should have been “I’m just standing”. That’s all he was doing much of the time. Jenna was jiving for all she was worth, and he just stood there. Even when he did dance it was so slow. Instead of fun it was more like walking my grandma around the mall. Two shuffles was all we got in the way of synchronized kicks so as far as I’m concerned it wasn’t a proper jive.

The night’s two cha chas were bad and badder. Hard to pick. I guess I have to go with Lamar for possibly worst cha cha ever. And I’m even including Master P, Billy Ray Cyrus Buzz Aldrin and Tom DeLay. Those are the big guns of badness to go up against and he held his ground. There were two actual cha cha moves and both vied for worst ever. After his outing as the Jolly Green Giant last week and this misbegotten mess he really needs to go. The show had the perfect opportunity for a double elimination last night. Losing him and Ray in one night would be a blessing. And as for the song, that also has been done before and much better by Jake Pavelka. See it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onmqBp0hZ_o

Let’s see Lamar shake it like that. I miss Miss Chelsea, as her rodeo celebrity called her. His great line was “I just do what Miss Chelsea tells me.”

And Sean, Sean, Sean (slapping him lightly on the cheek). What can I say? It was good until he started dancing. In actuality it was an order of magnitude better than Lamar, but still several orders of magnitude away from being presentable in public. At least he’s a good sport about it. Give him a few drinks to loosen him up. I hear he’s a real party boy.

The entire night can be summed up in my favorite police line.

“Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.”

DWTS 2

Night Two

Like a Sergio Leone movie gone wrong, the night was a mix of the good, the not so good, the bad and the ugly. Strangely enough, I can allow five dancers into the good category. Please understand I am being very generous here. Very generous.

Hannah was the real standout. It was a long wait, but her dance gave me minor chill bumps. Call them proto chill bumps; not the full Monty. Still, it was the only time all night. Len was right (it does happen on occasion), it was the best dance of the night. It actually looked like what it was supposed to be. So many of the dances missed that fundamental mark. But she’s also a ringer. She admitted up front that she’s been in dance classes since she was 3. She said she had stopped for a while. I noticed they didn’t mention how long she had stopped. Ten years? One year? A month? She’s got an edge no one else does. Not exactly fair. But it should be fun to watch. Alan is a bit like Mark Ballas. He can take her to the finals, but he tends to choke. He may torpedo her at some point.

I don’t know Kate Flannery and don’t exactly like her yet. I think she’ll be an acquired taste. Not much foxtrot going on, lots of side by side. It was good, but too Broadway. And I got distracted by the dancing spacemen in the background. Or more exactly, the spacewoman, with the form fitting space suit.

I so wanted to love JVDB after last week’s tango, the only dance I got to see. And his agility and extensions are wild. A mid-air split? A rondé over Emma’s head? Dang, he’s rocking 42. But dancing is more than acrobatics (although they do tend to like the acrobatic dancers). I was not blown away by his cha cha at all. He did one little segment of hip rolling and apparently that was the Cuban motion section of the dance. Didn’t see it again. I got to the end and said “that was it?”

I loved Karano’s spot. The practice segment was more entertaining than the dance. He is such a cutup. I couldn’t stop smiling from beginning to end. That helped to assuage the pain of his quickstep. Not so good, but as Carrie Ann said, it had pizzazz. And in this competition, pizzazz goes a long way.

If you gotta do paso, you gotta do skirt work. I remember Kate Gosselin set the bar for awful skirt work many seasons ago. She played “peekaboo, can you see my undies” rather than whipping it around. Best ever was Julianne Hough and Apolo Ono. She’s a pro, but that’s how it’s done. That said, Lauren had some credible skirt work. Gotta give her credit. Best shot was in practice when the skirt got tangled around Gleb’s head. The dance had moments of sass, but mostly looked like community theater and mediocre acting.

That was as good as it got. The good news is it has to get better. Doesn’t it?

The Not So Good

As for Sailor’s rumba, the best thing was that it actually looked like rumba and not vertical sex. I saw recognizable steps. But she was wooden and flat footed. She also had the best come on smile ever. I’d give her a ten paddle just for the smile.

I kinda liked Kel. I think he’ll grow on me. But I think I’m being too generous to put him in the Not So Good category. His dance contained recognizable samba steps like the judges said, but Bruno called it when he said it didn’t look Latin. It lacked anything that would make it look like a samba. No bounce, no life. Just blah. Yeah, I think it belongs in the bad category, but I’ve already written this so he gets a pass.

The Bad

Ally and Sasha got 20 points for their VW. What the hey? Who was the short guy standing in for Sasha? That couldn’t have been the real one. He was awful. He walked around, never had any lift, never achieved take off. Totally earth bound and klunky. And he’s the pro. When they were in hold and spinning, none of the ones were recognizable. Just plain awful. Best part was her Princess Di sapphire and diamond earrings.

I hated to see Mary Wilson go. There were many other candidates who were more worthy of the boot. She’s this year’s icon, our diva. No, she can’t dance at all, neither can several others. She couldn’t keep up with the foot work, but she was channeling Tina Turner for all she was worth. So, so sad to see her go.

Which leads us to the ugly.

Ray was the least ugly of the pack. His opening looked like me in the morning stumbling around looking for my shoes. And trying to straighten out my back. Len called it. Ray just walked around.

Even Lamar knows he’s in over his head. And that’s pretty deep considering he’s about seven feet tall. And what colorblind person designed their costumes? His shirt and pants were different shades of green, just close enough to clash. And it wildly clashed with the color green Peta was wearing. At least it added interest. He’s my pick as the next to go. Please.

Sean, the man we all love to hate. As the kids would say OMFG. That was soooo bad. First off, when did Shut Up and Dance become a tango? There was no tango about it. Same with Sean. I spent the dance alternating between wild laughter and loud groaning, and throwing popcorn at the tv. No tango in the house tonight.

I think Hannah, JVDB, and Kate are the ones to watch. If Sasha finds his lost groove, he’ll put Ally in the running. And never count out Gleb. I think Lamar will go next, then Ray. As I said, we love to hate Sean so he may stay around longer than anyone expects, just so we can gape at the train wreck. It’s definitely time for a double elimination. Get the dead wood out and start working the rest.

I still need to do some work on the site. I’m a dinosaur and everytime I converse with wordpress help they just confuse me with technospeak. I think I need to hire someone to fix up my blog the way I want it to be.

DWTS

For a few years I have posted a tongue in cheek review of each week’s DWTS during the season. With a background of 40 years of teaching and dancing ballroom I know a little bit of what I speak. But I don’t really get into the technicalities. My posts are usually scurrilous, frequently profane and always catty. I’m a curmudgeonly old man and I call it like I see it. It’s my blog so I can say what I want. Some find it amusing; some wish I’d go away. I’m going to post my thoughts here on the blog. Aside from this one, it won’t take the place of my weekly short story (unless I run out). I’ll just put a menu tab for DWTS.

Dancing With the Stars: Preview

As predictable as a plague of locusts it’s that time of year again. Dancing With The Stars is upon us. Wow. A new season and hardly a star in sight. Used to be they had a few stars but seems it has now devolved into people few have ever heard of, has beens, and people who are known for being known, not anything they may have done. I call it Mysterious Notoriety. An example is Paris Hilton. Or the Kardashians. Why are these people famous? And this year is no exception. They are offering a gallywhumpus of misbegotten misfits and pusillanimous personae. Sadly, the definition of ‘star’ seems to have gone downhill. I always think of the classic definition- movie stars, stage stars, TV stars and music stars. These are few and far between in this crowd. One comic once commented that Dancing with the Stars would be more accurate if called Dancing with the Vaguely Familiar. So true. 

I have been tempted to boycott this season after last year’s debacle. It was won by a talentless radio personality from Arkansas. He couldn’t dance a bit but apparently everyone in Arkansas voted for him. I hate when block voting lifts the talentless over better qualified dancers. I keep reminding myself that, regardless of what Len says, it’s not a dance competition, it’s a popularity contest. Thus we end up with anomalies like Bobby Bones or that stumblebum baseball player the year before. When you leave voting in the hands of the public you sometimes get unpleasant results (like Trump). Occasionally there is a break out dancer who just wows everyone and runs away with it. Nyle DiMarco comes to mind. But then, I thought that was happening for Juan Pablo last season. He was killing it until suddenly bumped for some unfathomable reason. Even the judges were pissed.

I’m also annoyed at the departure of Sharna Burgess and Artem (I’m not even going to try his last name). I can understand Sharna. She’s getting older and she has her mirror ball now. Artem said he wanted to come back but was dropped. Why? He was a wonderful dancer and partner. He was a great example of masculinity married to grace. He was one of my favorites.

Over the years DWTS seemed to pull in their celebrities (a better and more accurate word than stars) based on categories.  Archetypes even. Such as:

Divas/Icons. These have tended to be bona fide stars. People like Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Florence Henderson, Cloris Leachman, George Hamilton, Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, Valerie Harper, Billy Dee Williams. People we have actually heard of and consider stars. This year we have Mary Wilson. She was a Supreme. And not one of the nine who sit in Washington. She stood behind Diana Ross and said doo wa. Still I consider her the only true star on this year’s show. Maybe Kate Flannery.  I’ve never seen The Office. It seems like a lower tier TV show, but what do I know?

NFLers. Emmett Smith, Jerry Rice, Jason Taylor, Warren Sapp. The show always has a few football players. They usually do well. All that stepping inside tires at practice makes them nimble and quick on their feet. Ray Lewis gets the nod this year and an honorable mention for Lamar Odom since he’s basketball. Bballers have not been successful on the show. Too tall.

Boy Band Refugees. Aaron Carter, Nick Carter, Mario Lopez, Joey Fatone, Joey Lawrence, Lance Bass, Drew Lashay, Nick Lashay. It seems all the Backstreet Boys and InSync have been on the show at one time or another. They seem to have cleared out all the boy bands. What about Boyzone and Menudo? Now they have moved on to girl bands – Pussycat Dolls and Fifth Harmony. Nicole Schwerzinger won it running away along with Derek Hough. He could probably win with a potato sack as a partner though. I mean he even got Big Girl from Glee across the finish line. He strangely couldn’t do much with L’il Kim, though. Fifth Harmony’s steatopygian Normani did respectably on the last outing. Ally Brooke will now try. BTW I only recently noticed that Camila Caballo ( of the recently wildly popular “Havana-na-na”) was with Fifth Harmony at one time.

People Seeking Redemption. Paula Deen (no), Kate Gosselin (definitely no), the Kardashians (Kim, nope; Robbie, yes), Li’l Kim (no), Jerry Springer (surprisingly, yes), Ryan Lockte (kinda). This is definitely the place for Sean Spicer. I don’t know who came up with him, but it was actually pretty savvy. People will watch just to see what he does. I have to give him credit for fleeing the Trump madness. I’m predisposed to like him just for that. He seems to be be pretty funny when he’s had a drink or three. Maybe they can let him have a few in the Celebrequarium and he can entertain us with his sparkling repartee. Maybe Sarah Huckabee Sanders next season. She’ll have to learn to wear a dress like a lady and stop fidgeting with her bra strap.

Embarrassments, WTF or Why?. Tom Delay, Steve Wozniak, Redfoo, Macy Gray, David Hassellhoff, Michael Waltrip, Rick Perry, Charo, Kareem Abdul Jabar. This sometimes is a catchall category. Since DWTS has cleared the celebrity B listers and C listers, they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Remember the bull rider? Or the rodeo guy who kept calling his partner Miss Whitney. So many times after scratching my head and saying “who?”, my next question is “why?”  There are a few this year. Hannah Brown has two claims to ‘fame’. She was on the Bachelorette aka “I can’t find me a man so I need to troll the whole damn country” and was Miss Alabama. Since her state seems to be winning the race with West Virginia to see which can be the most backward state, I wouldn’t brag about it. And Queer Eye guy Karamo. Is he the token homosexual? They’ve taken to being a little more inclusive recently. They also had that Carson guy from Queer Eye and Lance Bass. They even had Chaz Bono to represent transsexuals. I’d like to see them run a transsexual who hasn’t had their parts altered. I mean who DOESN’T want to see RuPaul on DWTS? They had a drag queen on DWTS Australia this year. Christie Brinkley? Okay, everybody knows her so the name recognition is good. She’s rich as God, but all I can tell that she has done is have her picture taken and marry and divorce Billy Joel. But she has also lasted nearly 50 years in the business without saying or doing something so unutterably stupid that the whole world hates her. Not so easy these days. Maybe she’s just really a nice person. Still doesn’t answer why she’s on the show. However, models have rarely done well on the show. Except for the brainless Brooke Burke. They tend to be stiff for whatever reason.

Career Reboot. All the Backstreet Boys, Mario Lopez, Ralph Macchio, Frankie Munez, Vanilla Ice. The bills gotta be paid, you know. This is where I put James van der Beek. The Dawson’s Creek and BH90210 kids have not done well. One died recently, one has been reduced to playing a dad on Riverdale, several have been in and out of rehab. I checked James VDB’s work and found he recently worked on Vampirina. Nuff said. Kel Mitchell may be a ringer. He’s listed as a comedian but has done some TV and movie stuff. In 2011 he was in “Dance Fu”, a kung fu/dance movie. So he’s had some dance experience. Most recently idb says he’s in Spongebob Squarepants. I guess it’s a voice part. The only live action I’ve seen is Spongebob on Ice. Not sure I’d put either on my resume.  And Lauren Alaina is listed as a country music star. Well, kinda. She was a runner up on American Idol. But maybe being runner up means she’s good. Like Clay Aiken. I mean, who remembers the guy who beat him? Although another Idol winner took DWTS by storm – NC’s own Kelly Pickler. But she charmed her way to the mirror ball, plus she was a good dancer.

Creepy. Gary Busey wins this category hands down but I think Macy Gray gave him a good chase. Still, Rick Perry’s bromance with Vanilla Ice was the stuff nightmares are made of. As creepy as Bing Crosby singing a Christmas carol with David Bowie.

Kids. Bindi Irwin, Zendaya, Bristol Palin, Milo Manheim, Duck Dynasty swamp girl. Kids usually do well, except NC’s Hayes Grier from a few seasons back. They’re kinda hard to break.

Handicapped People. Linda McCartney (one leg), Marlee Matlin (deaf), Noah Galloway (one leg, one arm), J.R. Martinez (deformed face), Amy Purdy (no feet), Nyle DiMarco (deaf), Danelle (blind), Terra Jole, the midget lady (Poor Sasha was saddled with her. When he first met her the look on his face was priceless. It totally said “OMFG what am I supposed to do with this?)

Olympians. Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Ohno, Dorothy Hamill, Charlie White, Meryl Davis, Evan Lysacek (I sense a theme here), Shawn Johnson. Athletes also do well. We call it Dance Sport for a reason.

People We Love Just Because. Jane Seymour, Dawn Welles (Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island), Bill Engvall, Tommy Chong, Danica McKellar (Winnie on Wonder Years), Niecy Nash (and all her jiggly parts), Susan Lucci, Pamela Sue Anderson. Not any lovable scamps on the new season.

People We Love To Hate Just Because. Nancy Grace, Jerry Springer, Kate Gosselin, Tamar Braxton, Pamela Sue Anderson. Sean Spicer might also fit this category for some.

Singers Who Surprisingly Have No Sense Of Rhythm. Billy Ray Cyrus, Michael Bolton, Master P, Wayne Newton.  I have to say I was so surprised.

Heroes. Buzz Aldrin (the man couldn’t dance a lick but he made 11 year old me want to be an astronaut), Noah Galloway, Alek Skarlatos, J.R. Martinez. Everybody loves a hero. I wish we had one to like this season.

People With Funny Accents. Helio Castroneves, Gilles Marini, Victor Espinoza, Cristian de la Fuente, Kelly Pickler, Bindi Irwin.

(Scary factoid: I pulled nearly all the above from off the top of my head. I did need to look up a few last names. I seem to have an alarming amount of my limited brain space devoted to this).

So there you have it. This year’s miscellany of miscreants. Off the top of my head without seeing anything about the contestants I’d say Mary Wilson won’t last long. She’s 75 years old. Ally Brooke, Ray Lewis and Kel Mitchell are my bets to do well. We’ll see. It starts up next week. Get the popcorn ready.

A Dark and Stormy Night

I have a dim memory of an old episode from the tv series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” about a storm and some nervous nurses waiting it out. Something about a nurse killer on the loose. In the final scene we find that one of the nurses is the actual killer. She was a big woman and I think she was a man in a wig. Anyway, that errant memory flittered through my mind and left a seed. Storm, nurses, murder afoot. After a wrote it, I had to go with a tongue in cheek title. Hence “it was a dark and stormy night.”

A Dark and Stormy Night

            A dim flicker of light glimmered at the office window. Candace, ‘call me Candy’, Johnson barely noticed as she continued inventory of the med stocks for what seemed the hundredth time that week. A few moments later a soft rumble could be heard in the distance.

            “Storm’s coming in,” Denise Patrick said. Master of the obvious, Candy thought sourly.  “It’s supposed to be a big one,” Denise continued. “I just heard about it on the radio.”

            “Just my luck,” said Candy, slamming a cabinet door.

            “Huh?” asked Denise.

            “Just my luck to draw the late shift in this rustbucket place with a storm brewing. By midnight we’ll have bedpans all down the hallway catching water from the leaky ceiling.”

            “It leaks? That can’t be very safe.” As I said, thought Candy, master of the obvious.

            “No, it’s not. But we’re not St. Joe’s. We’re a poor little clinic run by a poor little hospital in a poor little section of Philly.” Candy decided the only upside of the situation was they had no patients in their care for the late shift. The decidedly downside was that she had to work it with Denise. She wasn’t sure exactly what it was about Denise that rubbed her the wrong way. Pretty much everything. She was a mousy little hausfrau, seemingly afraid of her own shadow. She didn’t appear all that bright and Candy wondered how she ever got through nursing school. Candy, on the other hand, was a plus size blonde, brassy and full of life. She sashayed her way through her daily rounds, flirting with the patients, keeping up a light banter. It kept the men’s spirits up and she didn’t mind the occasional pat on her fanny. God knows some of them had seen horrors she’d never know. A smile and wink for our brave boys cost her so little, she thought. But working the late shift sucked. Especially with a freak storm coming in. But they were stuck until two am when the overnight relief came on.

            There was a bright flash of light through the window. The rumble came quicker this time.

            “It’s moving fast,” Denise offered.

            “Good, maybe it’ll do it’s thing and get the hell out of here fast, too. I hate having to dash out to my car in the pouring rain.” Another flash, shortly followed by a louder rumble.

            “Lordy, I hate storms.” Candy noticed Denise babbled when nervous. “We used to have bad ones back in Kansas. Big storms, and sometimes tornadoes and hail. I just want to crawl into a cellar and hide.”

            “Well, our cellar is over that way,” Candy nodded with her head, as she lifted a load of towels to be sorted.

            “I can’t go down there,” Denise looked at her with fear bright in her eyes. “That used to be the morgue. I don’t dare go down there.”

            “Don’t tell me you’re a nurse and scared of dead people?”

            “I just haven’t had much experience around them. I’ve only been a nurse for a few years.”

            “Well, honey, it’s something you’ll just have to get used to.” Candy figured Miss Mousy’s patients would be dropping like flies from her tepid care. Candy kept her men’s spirits from flagging with her brazen sexuality. She didn’t dial it down, and her men responded. She was a very popular nurse.

            A brilliant flash and crash almost simultaneously made them both jump. It was followed by the rattle of a hard rain hitting the flagstones outside. Over the next few minutes there were multiple flashes and the rumbling never stopped, rolling and echoing through the air and seemingly through their bones. Candy thought it sounded like a bowling alley with the constant rumble of the balls. Maybe I’ll get Hank to take me bowling this weekend. We haven’t done that in ages, she thought with a smile. Hank was back from the Pacific with everything intact. She was so afraid he would return with a loss of limbs or a shell-shocked zombie like she had seen so many times over the past months. Or not return at all. Stop thinking about downers, she told herself. Hank’s home and all is right with the world. The war is over.

            A sudden massive crash shook the entire building. Denise screamed and her pile of towels flew through the air.

            “Wow, that one was right on top of us,” Candy said. Then she silently chided herself. Now who’s stating the obvious?

            Candy felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned but no one was there. Then a cold splash of water hit her nose. She looked up and got hit in the middle of her forehead with another cold splash.

            “Oh, Hell’s Bells. I need a bedpan for this leak. You take the back hallway and check. I’ll finish looking around up here.” Within the next half hour they found fifteen leaks and had bedpans in place collecting the spillage.

            “At the rate the rain’s falling, we’ll have to empty them before the next shift comes in. What a gruesome night. Glad I’m going home and not coming in.”

            Over the next hour the flashing and rumbling would sometimes abate for a few minutes but always came back with renewed vigor. Candy didn’t know if it were multiple storm fronts or the same storm just circling. Either way, they were receiving severe punishment from the elements.

            Another particularly violent crash hit and the lights flickered and then failed altogether. Denise emitted a short shriek.

            “Oh, ain’t this just grand,” Candy said sarcastically. She had several other choice phrases that came to mind but didn’t want to totally offend Denise’s delicate sensibilities. The sudden darkness was total. After a few moments their eyes had adjusted but it was still nearly impossible to see anything.

            “The generator’s supposed to kick on when the power goes out,” Candy complained. “I wonder why it hasn’t tripped yet?”

            “I don’t like it.” Candy jumped because Denise’s voice was right at her elbow.

            “I think there’s some candles in the supply cabinet. Let me check.” Candy groped her way to the supply cubbie behind the nurses’ station. Within a few minutes she had a couple of white tapers lit and sitting on the desk.

            Candy had just said, “Well, ain’t this comfy,” when the phone rang.

            “Bellhaven Clinic,” she said automatically into the phone. “Oh, hi, Ray. Yeah. Yah don’t say. Well, the power’s out. No, it didn’t kick on. Where? Crap. He said what? No. No. I said hell no.” She listened for a moment more and slammed down the phone.

            “What?” Denise wanted to know.

            “The main road’s flooded. Ray said our relief might not be here till daylight. We have to stay all night.”

            “But, I don’t want to.”

            Candy glared at her. “You think I do? I would walk out on ‘em, but the road is flooded so I couldn’t get home anyway. Either way you look at it, we’re stuck. By the way, Ray told me how to get the generator on. We just need to push a button on the side.”

            “Oh, good. Where is it?”

            “In the cellar.”

            “Oh.” Denise’s eyes were wide.

            “Oh, for Pete’s sake. Are you that afraid of the cellar? Come on. I’m not going down there by myself.”

            “But there used to be dead people there. There might be spirits.”

            “Oh, for crying out loud. Come on.” She roughly grabbed Denise’s arm in one hand and a candle in the other.

            Once in the cellar they found that other undiscovered leaks had let water in and there were small puddles in various places. They found the generator and, sure enough, there was a big red button on the side. Candy pressed it. Nothing happened. She pressed it again, holding it longer. The generator made a wheezing noise. Then after a few burps it began a soft hum. Looking up toward the door they noticed a soft glow meaning the emergency lighting was working. They hustled up the stairs, ready to leave the dank and disquieting place behind.

            The emergency lighting was just sparse dim lights that did little to enlighten the place and nothing to dispel the gloom. Still, they could see.

            Candy decided it was time for a break. She plopped down in a chair at the nurses’ station and picked up her Hollywood magazine. She ruefully noted it was two months old and she had read every article at least twice. She tossed it aside.

            “Well, I ain’t doing much else tonight. I’ll take my double time pay sitting on my bum. How about you, Toots?” Denise approached the desk looking fearful and browbeaten.

            “Yes. Me too.”

            “That’s the spirit, girl. Show some gumption.”

            Denise picked up the Hollywood magazine and looked at it. After a moment her eyes grew wide.

            “What?” Candy asked.

            “Are they really making a movie about that man who killed those seven co-eds? That was so awful. Why would they make a movie about it? I was almost too scared to go to work for a week after it happened.”

            “Sorry, hon. Blood and sex sells. It’s gotta have one or the other.”

            “But that’s so awful.”

            “Yeah, and it’ll make ‘em a bazillion bucks. People love a good horror story. I think they call ‘em slasher movies. You know, like Hookman or the Midnight Caller or the Scarecrow.”

            “I don’t know about that. All that kind of stuff scares me. Especially the Scarecrow.”

            “Listen,” Candy said loudly. Denise clutched her heart. “The rain. It’s stopped.” They both noted how quiet it was for a moment. There were more flares followed by rumbling, but it was no longer directly over them. It still rolled and echoed, drawing out each rumble. “I think we’ve survived the worst of it,” Candy said with as much enthusiasm as she could gather. She looked at the clock and it was just now two am. She should be getting off right now. The long night loomed.

            They went to the front window and looked out. There were no street lights, but by the occasional flashes of lightning they could see tree limbs scattered about. Some lawn furniture was missing or overturned. The yard crew had their work cut out for them. But the rain had stopped.

            “You don’t really believe all those slasher stories, do you?” Candy asked. “They aren’t real. Just stories people tell to frighten each other or the kids.”

            “Daddy said the Scarecrow is real. He wouldn’t tell me a lie.”

            “Well, maybe. But I think he’s overblown. One kook kills a few people wearing a scary mask and everybody goes crazy. I bet the others are just copycats. Or didn’t even happen. There is no demented serial killer running around killing, killing…”

            “Nurses.”

            “Well, yeah. I don’t believe it.”

            “I wish I was that sure.”

            After a few more minutes of desultory conversation Candy said she had to go to the ladies’ room. She could tell Denise didn’t want to be left alone but she was damned if she’d invite her to the bathroom. The girl needs to grow a spine, she thought. Then she got an idea of a fun prank. After finishing her business, she quietly slipped out of the lavatory and crept to a linen supply closet. She grabbed a pillowcase. Using her scissors she cut two eye holes, and drew some black lines on it with a felt pen. She pulled it over her head, cinching it around her neck with a draw cord. She pulled an abandoned old black great coat from the closet to hide her nursing whites. She crept up the hallway, just out of sight of the nurses’ station. She picked up a bedpan, dumped out the water and tossed the pan into the room. The clanging of the pan startled Denise, eliciting a shriek. Candy jumped into the room using the lowest voice she could muster and said “The Scarecrow has come for you!”

            Denise’s earlier shriek was nothing compared to the scream she now emitted. She ran from the station screeching as if all the demons of hell were after her. Barely able to contain her laughter, Candy pursued her down the hallway. Denise ran into a supply closet and closed the door behind her. Candy thought, what an idiot. Now she’s cornered. I guess I need to teach her how to handle an emergency.

            Denise was crying, trembling and hyperventilating so hard she could hardly hold the door handle. She braced herself to keep the Scarecrow from opening it. Oh lord, I’m so scared, she thought. She looked around to see if there were any type of weapon or protection in the closet but it was too dark. She just trembled and moaned, holding on to the knob as if her life depended on it. She never heard the click as the door was locked from the outside.

            After what felt like hours of kneeling hanging onto the knob, her hands began cramping. She whimpered, not daring to let go. She kept catching herself almost falling asleep, jerking upright each time. Finally she did not catch herself and fell into a fitful exhausted sleep.

***

            Denise jerked awake. At first she was disoriented, finding herself on the floor in a closet. Then the fear grabbed her heart like a vise. The light coming under the door was brighter than the emergency lighting so either the power was back or it was morning. She carefully twisted the doorknob. Or tried to. It refused to move. She realized it was locked and she was trapped inside.

            As she considered her predicament she also had another realization. The monster who had chased her last night was wearing a white skirt and shoes under the black coat. It was Candy all along. She played a mean trick on me, she thought, feeling incredibly foolish. Gathering her courage, she rattled the doorknob. She shook the door, shouting, “Candy, let me out!” She beat on the door and pleaded with Candy to let her out, but no one came. She was kneeling by the door crying when she heard sounds outside. Fear still spiked through her, but she knew she needed to get out. She heard what sounded like people talking. Multiple people was good. That would be safe. She pounded on the door, yelling for help. In a moment she heard the click as the door was unlocked. The bright light of day blinded her as it was opened and unknown arms pulled her up. She fought down the urge to struggle against them.

            “It’s okay. You’re safe now,” said a man’s voice. As her eyes adjusted she could tell he was wearing a policeman’s uniform. “It’s all over now.”

            “I was locked in,” Denise began, not knowing exactly what to say, totally disoriented.

            “That’s okay. Come outside and have some coffee.” That sounded like a wonderful idea so she allowed the officer to lead her outside to an ambulance where there was coffee and some doughnuts.

            Denise looked around. There were a number of official looking cars in the parking lot.

            “Where’s Candy?” she asked.

            “You need to drink your coffee first,” said the policeman.

***

            Inside two detectives were conferring.

            “Well, the MO is the same. Slashed from side to side. She bled out in minutes. The same message written in blood. I don’t know why he didn’t take them both, like over in southside last month. Maybe he didn’t know she was hiding.”

            “She was lucky. Looks like she barely escaped the Scarecrow.”