Amidst the haze in my cobwebbed brain that paved a way into Halloween during October of 1996, I was convinced to be a part of the Hudson Haunted House. The Hudson Haunted House was a locally known haunted favorite in the Cleveland/Akron area of Ohio back then, and it still is.
You have to understand that Hudson was a predominantly Upper-Middle Class community. Most of the people of Hudson were well off, white Protestants. We in our family were middle-class agnostics. I felt caught like a rock in a hard place… torn between two worlds. The world of the lower-middle class, salt of the earth misfits always seemed to have an alluring grip upon me.
The Hudson Haunted House was full of infamous yard-birds, run by the “Hudson Jaycees”. The Hudson Jaycees rightfully sought out disadvantaged and “troubled youth” to volunteer at the house. This was quite a bunch of vandals, stoners, and mobile home dwellers. We had Jeff, who had a throwback mullet from the 80’s heavy metal scene, and seemed to always have a 40 oz. bottle of Mickey’s Malt Liquor surging through his veins, and then there was Myron, caked in facial blemishes and at least 60 lbs. overweight. There were many more of a colorful variety like this that worked with the Jaycees at the House. And I was to join the band, a toothpick-thin skinny stoner with a 1966 Beatles haircut.
There was a lounge in the back room of the House where everyone hung out, smoked cigarettes, and geared up in costume for their next scare in a room. The rooms all had a different theme and a plethora of costumes, complete with various rubber, decapitated body parts and unlikely weapons such as meat cleavers and hammers.
My favorite room was called “Bloody Butler”. It must have been something of the only child narcissist in me, because it was a room that was run solo. One would put on a torn up, sanguine steward’s uniform, and a zombie like mask with a bald head, and long, gray, curly hair sticking out over the ears and back of the head like George Washington. The room would be strewn with decollated heads, arms and legs. Their was a severely creepy chandelier that hung above, laden with cobwebs and dimly lit. Organ music similar to a Bach fugue would play at a suspicious medium volume in the background.
As the Butler I would wait behind an unseen doorway and wait for a crowd of people to enter. I would walk past a sensor quickly into the sight of the people and wave the meat cleaver in the air in front and close to them. A strobe light would come on and a Vincent Price-esque laugh would blare at loud volume when the sensor was triggered. Women would always scream and cling to their boyfriends or husbands. Once or twice, a large football player would freak out and scream at a high pitch, which was satisfying to this Rock n’ Roll whey-face.
One day I was to work Butler, and Elysia my favorite hippie girl friend showed up before my time to go in. She told me she had some really potent weed on her. She grabbed me and we ran out into a forest nearby. She packed that silver and black pipe she had full of herb and we smoked it. Something about jogging a bit before doing this would intensify the high, because my lungs and adrenaline were pumping. Also, I wasn’t one to run or exercise regularly, so any bit of it would really get my blood moving.
I walked back to get into costume, feeling insanely fried. I don’t even remember putting on the costume or heading into the room… But I do remember one instance that followed.
I did my normal gig of walking past the sensor and into people’s faces to scare them. Besides making one lazy, hungry, affected and aloof, ganja affects one’s depth perception, to where sometimes things right in front of you look almost two-dimensional instead of three-dimensional. I went out past the sensor and towards the crowd, while lethargically waving my meat cleaver into the air. There was a gated fence made of black iron that separated me from the line of people coming through, and I fell over it and practically right on top of this girl! She was screaming her head off and freaking out. One of the security guys, Brutus, who wore a yellow shirt labeled “STAFF” and generally watched for the welfare of our customers punched me in the head and cussed me out.
I was taken into a room and scolded by someone, I don’t remember who. I just know that I stared at them lackadaisically with a dumb smirk, which intensified their anger and irritation.
After that I think I was asked to leave the Hudson Haunted House. But I didn’t care. It was all the more reason to blaze up another joint, have another beer, do another shot, eat another caffeine pill, chain smoke some cigarettes, and slip into oblivion. By this time I was spending at least $10 a week on dope, probably $40 a month on liquor and beer, and smoking a pack of cigarettes every three days, which back then cost about $1.85. Where did I get the money you ask? From my parents. I would use the money for this stuff instead of lunch at school or other things. That was also why I got so skinny, because I would spend money on drugs instead of food.
I began to write weird, dark, depressing songs. They cried out in desperation, sorrow, and heartbreak as these emotions crept through a haze of inadvertence. I was addicted also to the depression and pain that came with my self-induced blues.
Local H’s “Bound for the Floor” was popular in 1996. The lyrics described my life and echoed into my soul, though I would have explained them to be about someone else.
“And you just don’t get it, you keep your copasetic, and you learn to accept it, and no, you’re so pathetic…”
I was in ignorant bliss, as the world around me seemed to continue crumbling. My parent’s and I fought more, my grades plummeted, my feelings for my ex-girlfriend Harmony seemed to magnify, but it seemed that there was nothing I could do about it. I drowned myself into a haze of smoke and liquid, as the holidays approached nearer and nearer. I don’t remember the Christmas season of 1996, but I’m sure that I was stoned and drunk for most of it.