“Helen, take the kids inside and lock the door. He’s back.”
“Who is this guy, Stan, haven’t we seen him around the neighborhood before?”
“Helen, do as I say. He may be dangerous. After all, he goes to St. Pat’s School.”
“Remember, lock the door,” Stan shouted over his shoulder as his wife and daughter, Sissy and son, Stanley, Jr. were safely inside.
“Who are you and what do you want?” Stan said, as he cautiously approached the boy in the yard.
“I’m your neighbor, Mr. Harrington. I…”
“But you’re dressed for Halloween, boy, and that’s six months away.”
“I know. You see, I’m fascinated with the movie “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” I’ve seen all the versions. The Lon Chaney silent one was good, but I lost it over Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo. When the mob storms the Cathedral after he saves Esmeralda and everyone thinks he’s kidnapped her, he pours molten lead on their heads from the bell tower. The lead poured out of the mouths of the gargoyles. Wasn’t that great? And then when Esmeralda is taken away by the hero, he sits on the parapet, next to one of the gargoyles and says: “Why am I not made of stone like these statues? I cry every time I see it. I can feel his pain…his loneliness…his feelings of rejection because of the deformity he was born with…was no fault of his own.”
“Yeah, I guess I’ve seen one of the movies. I think it was the Anthony Quinn one,” said Stan, his tension easing slightly. “But what are you doing dressed like that?”
“Well, my brothers were playing Wiffle Ball in our backyard and I climbed out on the back porch roof and pretended I was Quasimodo. I have an overactive imagination…sometimes. But, instead of scaring anyone, they laughed at me. Our neighbor, Mr. Sparks was getting into his car and he saw me on the roof. He told my father later that he laughed so hard he wet his pants. I mean the guy is about 52 years old.”
“So, then what happened?”
“My brothers talked me into coming down to the back yard. My older brother, Denny, wanted to take a picture. At first I refused but he said he would give me the picture. He never did. My other brother, Dan, got a copy of the picture. He won’t give it back. He keeps threatening me with it. He says he’ll pass it around St. Pat’s school if I don’t give him all the Mars bars he wants for the next six months…and then he said he wanted half my Halloween candy, too.”
So, that’s the true story of how this picture was taken. I have been terrified for decades about anyone seeing it. My brother held it over my head. I lived in a state of panic. What would my girlfriend say? She already thinks I’m weird enough. Now she’ll think I really insane.
Well, all the Self-Help and Life Advice books will tell you to face your fears. Confront them. [If you want to get over a fear of flying, you have to take a flight].
So, after being hidden away for longer than I can say… this is the picture that I wanted no one to see.
I wonder. Does that mean that my brother doesn’t really care about me anymore? No one cares what I do with the picture. If no one cares to humiliate me anymore…does that mean no one cares?
So, go ahead. Look at it. Gaze on it. Make fun of it. Tease me. Mock me…maybe then I’ll know you really care.