It’s Almost October and I’m Still a Coward

Hey Guys,

How’s it hanging? It’s September, 13th 2018 — I’m 26 years old and still a coward. What makes me a coward, you ask? Well, to be Frank, I’m scared to scare people. 

I managed to ignore the feeling in my early life. “I must have a cold”, thought a younger me. What else could it be? Maybe, I’m having a bit of anxiety with the start of a new school year. That’s a very reasonable possibility, —but why am I waking up to claw marks on my bedroom walls and sheetrock stuck in my finger nails? “I must not like social studies”, I would say to myself.

It wasn’t until I startled my aunt in the Fall of 2009 that I came to a small revelation. My aunt’s shriek hit me like a ton of bricks. I finally put my finger on what my life was missing. What insatiable gnawing was rumbling around in my belly. My hunger was growing. My hunger for —screams.

There’s really only one legal way to feed a hunger like that so…

…for the last 4 or 5 years I’ve tiptoed around my dream of working at a haunted house. Usually in late August, when I feel the first whisper of an autumn breeze, I get a tingle down my spine. “It’s time to scare”, my body tells me. I would pull up applications for local haunted house job opportunities. After opening and closing Internet Explorer 7 or 8 times I finally got the courage to fill out the application. I would enter my information and specify that I wanted to be a ghost or a ghoul. (A lot of these places offer other positions like running carnival games or selling candy apples so it is important to tell them as many times as possible you want to get paid to frighten people). After filling out the required information I would write a two to three hundred word essay explaining why I wanted to collect shrieks and shrills and outlining just how I would do it.

Then I would print out all this information (even though you can just submit it online) and place it in a large manilla envelope. I’d throw on a jacket and scarf and make my way down to the local post office, envelope in hand. My excitement bubbled as I moved through the brisk fall air. Leaves smashed me in the face because it was fall outside. People threw apple cider on my coat and asked me to sign their pumpkins as I skipped through the familiar landscape. “Go JAY Go!” People chanted. “There goes the scariest boy in town!”, a sometimes friendly old man, with two bad hips, shouted from his wheel chair. I smiled and held up my large envelope with pride. Some years I’d even let out a small roar! just to let the townspeople know what they were in for come October.

Bursting with anticipation and the support of the whole city behind me, I arrived at the front door of the post office. A cold shiver ran down my spine as cold shivers often do. “What the fuck are you doing, Jay? I said to myself. “You’re not scary at all, butt baby.” The doubt crept into my mind like leaves covering a brisk, chilly, cold, haunted, wet, autumn, street in October. My eyes weld up with tears. I threw the envelope at the front door of the post office— papers flying everywhere. I turned and ran as fast as my feet would carry me. “You’re still a fuckin’ coward!”, I heard the sometimes mean old man with the two bad hips say as I scampered home — scarf flapping in the breeze. 

I’ll never be a ghost.

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-Steak Jones

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