The first scary movie I ever watched as a kid was “The Skull,” a black and white horror film that kept me up all night. I was barely allowed to watch television at my house, so I went to my sister Carmen’s house in New York and was promptly introduced to nightmares thanks, largely, to my nephew, Jeff Miller. After the movie, we had to sneak down– in the dark, of course- an open staircase to his basement bedroom. I was certain our ankles would be grabbed and we’d be dragged into hell.
One night hiding under the sheets filled my quota for a lifetime of scary movies. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is as close to monster mayhem as I get because even the voice of the Gollum character- which two of my sons can imitate perfectly- gives me the creeps. Plus, rule # 5 in my book is to never intentionally scare myself. However, my sons never felt like that rule applied to them because they delighted in giving me the heebie-jeebies.
The nice thing about movie monsters is, well, they look like movie monsters. They’re easy to spot because of grotesque malformations with gnarled teeth, demonic eyes, and gurgled breathing. You can tell they are monsters so you don’t pick them up when they’re hitchhiking or invite them in when the doorbell rings.
However, it seems like real life monsters aren’t so easy to spot; they’re liable to look like a couple of college kids in a crowd at the Boston Marathon. Or, like the city of Wichita, Kansas, which lived in fear the BTK Strangler for decades: It turns out he was the president of a church board and lived in a quiet neighborhood. Who would have thought to look in church to find a monster?
As I looked at a photo the cowardice murderers in Boston, I recalled the words to a song by the Poppy Family from 1971. Remember them? Neither do I, but for some reason the words from their very creepy song, “Where Evil Grows,” was stuck like an old phonograph needle in my memory bank;
Evil grows in the dark
Where the sun, it never shines.
Evil grows in cracks and holes
And lives in people’s minds.
I am very grateful for the men and women in blue- our police- who look for monsters. They’ll be the first to tell you they have a hard time spotting real monsters, too, because they are so darn sneaky. But they are always looking and, for that, I am very, very glad.
I might get annoyed at really long security lines in the airport. I might get a bit paranoid that Big Brother can pick up keywords in our email or cell phone texts that alert them to the places where monsters hide.
But it’s a small price to pay if they can find the real monsters and catch them before they ruin so many lives. It’s not the police or security that infringe upon our freedoms; its monsters that don’t look like monsters.