I was about 14 years old. I used to babysit the kids who lived across the creek from me. The creek was large enough that I had to canoe across it, maybe 40 feet wide and about 6 to 7 feet deep. I babysat these kids regularly, sometimes as late at 2:00 a.m. I’d paddle over in the daylight, and I’d paddle back in the darkness.
I then made the poor choice of riding my bike to the neighborhood theater with my friend and watching FRIDAY THE 13TH. Yes, we were underage, but it was the neighborhood theater and we knew all the ins and outs of sneaking in to R-rated movies.
The movie horrified me. But it didn’t really connect with me until that final scene where Jason comes out of the lake and pulls the lone survivor in. That was it. I was traumatized for life.
The next weekend I had to paddle over to watch those children. The trip over was fine, in a sense. It was daylight, but I still had Jason in the back of my mind. I somehow convinced myself I would be able to paddle back without any issues.
1:30 a.m. approached and the parents came home. It was time for me to go back to my home… in the canoe.
I walked to the canoe that was tied to the bank. I looked to the black water. I didn’t want to go out there. I was terrified. My senses were at full alert. I could see the silhouette of my house. The window to my parents bedroom was dimly lit as my parents always fell asleep with the T.V. on. I hoped they would randomly look out the window to watch me, as if that could help.
I slowly crawled into the canoe. I untied the rope and grabbed my paddle. I stuck it in the water very slowly, and gently pulled myself through the water trying not to attract any attention. I was half way to the dock. Ripples of water projected from the paddle due to my hands shaking. I was almost there.
I then heard a thud and felt something hit the canoe. I was in tears. I looked into the water and saw a round black mass floating next to me. It was somebody’s head. I was almost sure it was somebody’s head.
I poked it with the paddle and it just bobbed in the water. I jabbed the paddle into the water and began to paddle home as fast as my arms could move. I was frantic. I pulled the canoe close enough to the dock for me to jump from the canoe. I ran for the back door. I didn’t even tie the canoe up as it floated back out to water.
I made it into my house. I was still alive. I went straight to my bedroom and sat on my bed, wiping my eyes, trying to regain control of my breathing.
The next day I used the rowboat to search for the canoe that had floated away. I found it resting under some trees about one hundred yards away. After that I had my parents drive me to my babysitting jobs, or rode my bike until I was old enough to drive. I never got back in that water after dark. My nights of camping out on the dock with my fishing pole were over. FRIDAY THE 13TH had ruined me.
Oh, and that head… it was a large piece of firewood that had slipped off of a neighbor’s dock.
UNK SEZ: Stutz, thank you so much for this beautifully written TRAUMAFESSION! I gotta say it kinda gives me the creeps. It reminds me of all the times I thought I heard a noise in the house or thought somebody was following me in the street, all the times my brain wickedly decided to erase the line between real life and all the movies I’ve seen and the books that I’ve read. Just remember, decapitated heads that turn into driftwood are fine, it’s driftwood that turns into decapitated heads that you have to watch out for!
UPDATE: Check out Stutz’s blog THE MONDAY REPORT!