Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Devil child

My mother came from a large family, so I have many cousins on that side. I used to spend summers in Florida with my grandparents, where I was the oldest in a swarm of grandchildren. One cousin in particular was - well, how shall I put it? A demon.

I'm sure she's turned out to be a delightful person - and if she's reading this, Hi!

It was not inaccurate to refer to her as "Rosemary's Baby," as her mother was, in fact, named Rosemary. She lived up to her name. If someone was screaming/crying/wailing, it was either Devil Child trying to thwart Those Who Opposed Her, or else it was one of the other grandchildren screaming/crying/wailing because D.C. had inflicted some kind of injury, and then made off with her victim's toys.

My grandmother and I were both insomniacs, so we'd often be up late watching television together, if we weren't doing crosswords or reading one of the thousand back issues of Reader's Digest that were lying around. (Nature-versus-nurture debaters, start your engines now.) We shared a love of late-night horror movies. At least once or twice a summer, Nana would gas up the station wagon, we'd slather ourselves with mosquito repellent, and we'd head off to a swampy Florida drive-in to watch a triple feature of bad Italian-made horror movies. I'm talking fine films like Beyond Evil featuring Lynda Day George and John Saxon.

Anyone who knows my writing can clearly see the influence this had on me.

One particular summer, six year old Devil Child was determined to go along. She demanded it. She shrieked. She would not rest until she was included. I, on the other hand, had dug in my heels. These drive-in trips were something special that I shared with my grandmother, and I would be damned if anyone was going to tag along. Finally I realized, however, that it was going to be easier just to give in and take Devil Child to the movies. Damn it.

We all ritually sprayed ourselves with Off, and bumped along in the station wagon: me, fuming in the front seat, Devil Child delighted with herself in the back. She had achieved her goal: we had Done Her Bidding; there would be no stopping her now.

We got to the drive-in, and parked Devil Child on top of the car with a bag of popcorn, while Nana and I settled in to watch the movie. The movie was Dawn of the Dead.

At the end of the movie, we retrieved an ashen-faced Devil Child from her perch, where she had been frozen in terror. She was silent the entire ride home, except to ask in a tiny voice if the bad monsters would come and get her.

I said they might.


Blogger Hanuman1960 said...

You evil, evil, little boy! We would get along so well!

4:48 AM  
Blogger David said...

I forced my brother to watch one of those Jason movies while we were home alone. He was not a happy puppy later that night.

I can't remember if this is the same brother I years later handcuffed to the garage door, which I then spent the afternoon raising and lowering with the remote control.

8:27 AM  

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