Growing up, we all liked to scare each other. By “we” I mean my brothers mainly, but also neighbors and cousins who lived nearby. I remember one weekend night while Dad was probably out fishing with Cap Clevenger we were watching a scary movie on TV. Suddenly two faces jumped and slapped our big picture window where my sister, Cindy, sat. The perpetrators? Cousin Billy and neighbor Mike Allen. The ear-piercing scream and subsequent curse words filled the house!
We played a game where older brothers Perry or Mike would be either in the kitchen or down the hall in our bedroom. Dave and I would have to sit on the living room floor. We called this game “Train,” and it was terrifying, but fun. Suddenly one of the elder brothers would come running in making a train sound, “Choo Choo!!” We had to get to one of the couches before they ran by and ran over us.
We didn’t always make it.
Sometimes our efforts to scare each other failed miserably. I particularly remember the time Perry, Mike and myself laid on our beds in our back bedroom with the lights off. Dave was probably about three or four years old in the living room with Mom and Dad. We would call for Dave to come back in the room. We could hear his patted feet walking in his jammies slowly, cautiously. When he got to the doorway, we would jump out and yell, and watch him running back up the hallway to the safety of Mom and Dad. Usually after a couple of times Dad will yell for us to be quiet and the game would be over.
On one night we decided to be creative. Mike hid under one of the beds. We put boxes to block any view of him. The plan was to bring Dave into the room with the lights on and have Mike make a ghostly sound. “Woooooooo!” After several attempts to call him back, eventually we heard the tentative steps down the hallway. Perry lifted Dave up on the bed and said, “We’ve been hearing ghosts back here! Listen to that noise!”
That was Mike’s cue to make his ghostly noise, but instead built-up gas came bursting out in a long, loud, base sound, much like the sound Mike made with his baritone in the band. A classic memory nevertheless!
Our bathroom door’s lock was fragile. If you really wanted to burst into the bathroom to scare a brother who was either on the pot or in the shower, all you had to do was bang just to the left of the knob and the lock would dislodge. This scare tactic happened way too often. On one occasion I decided to wear Mom’s shower cap while taking a shower, not wanting to get my wavy hair wet. Of course, Perry picked that time to bang the door with a camera, come rushing in and open the curtain. This is the actual picture taken on that fateful day.
I remember watching Night Gallery with Dad and brothers. I would pretend to watch but would cover my eyes or lay on my side with my arm blocking the view of the screen. I would always have trouble going to sleep on those nights after hearing the voice of Rod Sterling.
Halloweens we got to wear various costumes over the years to trick or treat. Usually, it was to just go to Grandpa and Grandma’s, Uncle Dan and Dorothy’s, and maybe a quick trip to Branson North, then Grandma Margaret’s, where we usually poured out our stash of goodies. I remember holding Mom’s hand while walking in the Branson north neighborhood, scared of the night but comforted by Mom’s presence.
To this day, I’m still not a fan of scary movies. I DO like to quietly stand by the bathroom door while my wife brushes her teeth, and when she opens the door give her a good jolt. My son, Drew and I have scared Jodi in various ways over the years. It’s all done in fun and deep affection. Her high-pitched scream and look of terror are both priceless! The red light of my headband flashlight seems to elicit the highest-pitched screams!
In all this fun, I am so thankful I don’t have to truly fear in this life. I’m thankful I have a Savior who said several times in the Gospels, “Do not fear.” I do not fear death, for I know because of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and rising from the grave death is no longer a destination, but a door to eternal life. I do not fear rejection, because God accepts me as I am and is committed to transforming me to be a better person. I do not fear failure, because through Christ we will be ultimately victorious.
Perfect love casts out fear. This is true.