Behind The Mask
“To those who abuse: the sin is yours, the crime is yours, and the shame is yours.”
—Flora Jessop, Church of Lies
Each year I write a Halloween blog from a different perspective. I enjoy writing a comical post but like most of my humor it covers up a harsh reality that torments me. The child in me shivers with fear as both the teenagers and adults forwardly shine with a protective humor that nothing seems to penetrate. This year I’ve decided to bring forth the vivid and cold-hearted truth of what some of my early Halloween years that were forced upon me.
The boogey man was not dressed in blue coveralls with steel toed boots. His mask was not the cast of Captain Kirk’s face and familiar theme song that can have most anyone watching the movie with the lights on. He did not escape from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium carrying with him a large butcher knife. And Jamie Lee Curtis was not the “queen of scream.” They looked like most anyone living in a neighborhood beside me and you.
The fall time of the year with the smell and feel of wet leaves leftover from the end of summer are present. A deep inhale is not one of safety but one of fear. The coolness of early fall has me reaching for a windbreaker and replay of one of the scariest times of the year. It replays over and over on a reel that never fails in a reality that never wavers with its truth.
As a 5-year-old child wanting to be a part of the Halloween festivities I was excited and wanted to take part with my older friends. But the predator would again find its prey. They were more than twice my age and size. I trusted them and thought that they were there to protect me. But Halloween would strike fear in several ways. Leaving the safety of my own house I would go out looking for my friends. But I saw no one. Across the street and into our neighbors’ yard was pampas grass that stood where all us neighborhood kids had gotten our own paper cuts. I looked around the yards but saw no one. And then he appeared. In a black cape with the mask of an old man’s face I will never forget. No words were spoken just the slow walk towards me like most boogeymen. But this time the boogeyman was between me and my house of safety. Both my mind and body were on full alert. I searched for my safety and a way to get back to it while the figure walked towards me. As a 5-year-old crying and running was all I knew to do.
I ran back to my house as the figure continued to move closer. The black cape continued blowing in the wind. I ran into my house and back to my room where I locked my door and hid in my closet. Sooner rather than later the figure made its way into our house and down the hall to my locked room where pounding on my door was all that I heard. He spoke nothing. I sat quiet as a mouse hoping and praying that the figure wouldn’t again capture me for another touch and feel episode that hurt and was scary. Nope this time there was a burst of laughter from the big kids that served as their entertainment. And this time behind the mask was my friends that scared me yet again.
That year I didn’t laugh and each time I have this memory there is no laughter. I can only remember the fear that shakes inside of me as a child at a level of fear that I can’t describe. And each year during the fall season, I put on a smiling face. But I too have a life behind a mask of a little child that has never gotten over knowing the fear of being prey to someone’s seemingly innocent joke that was more than it appeared.