Originally published on 22 January 2012

After spending a good thirty minutes tossing and turning on the foldable futon in my living room, under the disapproving eye of my cat, who was trying not to watch me from her new bed (also known as the box that my new Lodge Enamel-coated Dutch Oven came in) I realised that, subconsciously, I was trying to duplicate the whited-out scenes from Helter-Skelter… arms splayed out, sheets and pillows over my head, and other images that tickle in the back of my consciousness. I’m really not sure what that portends for my future… whether my future life or my future in being able to eventually fall asleep tonight.

I do remember that I think that was my first experience with grown-up horror. I grew up in the 70s, so the killings were still pretty fresh in the minds of my parents and their peers. I don’t remember who originally told me about the book but I do remember that my Mom hated it. That, of course, meant that every time I was in the small Vernon Public Library, I had to pull it out and flip to the section with the crime scene photos. (Whether you wanted the book to fall open or not, it always did, right to that section. I wasn’t alone. Well, I usually was in the library, because I didn’t want others to see what I was doing.) Of course, the bodies weren’t displayed… they were covered up by white silhouettes, but these were perhaps more horrifying to me. Out of the edge of the outline, one could see a bloody black-and-white rope, snaking over to another body outline. Occasionally, a tantalizing detail would emerge, such as a loop of hair or a darkened cushion. It didn’t matter. From the time that I pulled the book off of the shelf, I could feel my stomach clench, my pupils dilate, and sweat pour from my innermost reaches into my palms.

I was not ready for that book, and I think at the time I knew that, but it definitely made me ready for something.

Still trying to figure out what.

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