|Gabe the Zombie at Halloween|
When my seven-year-old grandson was about two years old, I started making up bedtime stories. At first, they were tales about Super Gabe, who had all the powers of a superhero. When he tied his blankie around his neck, it turned into a magic cape that enabled him to fly. I made up a couple of “lessons” stories about saying “yes, ma’m” and other Southern politenesses. I made up a story about a gentle, helpful Bigfoot creature who lived in the woods next to my property.
Soon, he tired of those stories and wanted some scary tales. There's an old, abandoned house down the road from me that was standing upright when I moved here 13 years ago, but has gradually fallen in on itself. That became our haunted house, where all sorts of ghosties and goblins dwelled, including vampires in the cellar. Down the road from that house is a boarded-up building that used to be a general store. It became the haunted store used by all the night stalkers who bunked at the shack. A rusted-out, windowless and tireless pickup truck in a neighbor’s yard became their vehicle of choice. Each time we drove by it, Gabe would whisper, “NaNa, it’s in a different spot now. They used it last night.”
Gradually, the stories got scarier and scarier. I was warned more than once by his mom, my daughter Amanda, that some were too much for his tender years, but Gabe kept insisting they were fine. I knew I had crossed the line, however, the day I told a story about the Chuck E. Cheese balloon in his room turning into a Chucky doll that ate little boys after they had gone to bed. That scared him so bad he couldn’t sleep in his room that night. His mom had another talk with me. I backed off, but gradually fell back into the “scary” mode. I think she has finally admitted defeat, because she told my brother last summer that Gabe was just like him and his sister, who love being scared by spooky tales and horror movies. Amanda can’t stand either.
When Gabe was three or four years old, one of the children’s librarians where we attend a weekly story time pulled me aside to tell me about a humorous incident at his daycare center. She had gone there to read a book to the children. It was about owls. When she asked the children, “What sleeps during the day and comes out at night,” little Gabe threw his hand in the air and yelled, “Vampires!”
That’s my boy!