There was a time, a very short time, when I enjoyed Halloween.
As a toddler me and my twin sister Jessica would be dressed up by our parents and guided around the neighbourhood collecting candy. Our outfits always seemed to attract a lot of “Oh ain’t you just the cutest” type of remarks and our plastic jack-o-lanterns would be filled with more sweet goodies.
I think mom and dad actually liked the event more than either Jess or me, mom especially loved creating our matching costumes. They would hang back at the end of the pathway leading to each house and take great pleasure in the homeowner’s delight in seeing such sweet and adorable, ghosts, ghouls, risen dead or whatever outrageous getup we’d been put in.
As in every neighbourhood there is always a house that has a ‘history’ and, depending on who is telling the story, that history could be a number of things; death, murder, the unexplained, strange disappearances, ugly neighbors… you get the drift. Some of these myths may have had some basis in fact but as a seven year-old, if someone older told you such a story, you regarded it as true.
One such house was ‘Laurel Grove’ (or Laurel Grave as many people called the place) where they reputedly had the best Halloween displays (very scary) but also, the best candy should you dare to knock at their door.
On this Halloween mom had got us ready but had suddenly felt unwell so we were entrusted into the care of James and Hillary Templeton, our thirteen year-old neighbors to supervise. Of course they didn’t really want anything to do with a couple of seven year-olds but their mother, mom’s best friend, had insisted so they got stuck with us.
Things hadn’t gone too badly. Despite them almost dragging us as quickly as possible around the block we had managed to collect a sizeable amount of stuff in our Halloween bags. Jamie and Hills eventually grew tired of our company and desperately wanted to get us home and off their hands but Jess and I still wanted more candy. However, the teenagers came up with a plan to get us to run home and never come out again, they decided we should visit Laurel Grove.
They told us of the deep secret the place concealed, that although it was a scary and frightening place to visit, should we be brave enough, the rewards were everlasting… and the candy was the best too. Neither Jess nor I had heard of this place before and I think the only thing that registered was “the best candy”. Jamie kept saying it was really a place for grown-ups, those over twelve, and probably not a place where seven year-old babies should go because they’d probably wet themselves and run home to mommy to get their diaper changed. We understood the inference… that Jess and I still wore diapers… we didn’t… so didn’t like that one bit.
They were baiting us and we, as petulant second, almost third, graders were desperate to prove we weren’t a couple of diaper wearing pre-schoolers. We agreed to go with them the extra couple of blocks to see this particularly scary place.
When we got there a whole new bunch of people dressed in their creepy best were doing the rounds. Most of them appeared older than me and Jess but we never saw anyone go down the pathway of Laurel Grove. The twenty yards or so from sidewalk to front door were wonderfully kitted out in incredible Halloween props; gravestones, coffins, disembodied arms and pieces of flesh hung in a mist they had somehow created. The place looked fantastic, just like a movie set, with strange groans, howls and spine-chilling sniggering emanated from behind every bush putting nerves on edge.
Jess and I looked at each other and though impressed by the set, decided not to take our chance at getting the best candy ever. Our teenage supervisors said they understood, we were probably much too babyish to dare to do such a thing and besides they didn’t want the responsibility of having to change our diapers.
Their teasing was having an effect and we were getting fed up with this reference to us being diaper wetting babies, neither of us had worn them since we were two, so the joke was on them. Ha!
However, when they said that most people were scared of knocking on that particular door, and it would take someone with an enormous amount of courage to do so, we saw our way of not only proving we didn’t need diapers but that we were more grown-up than some of these older boys and girls who were avoiding the place. We saw that not only would we get the best chocolate and candy EVER, we would no longer be seen as babies but become heroes to older kids.
This thought spurred us on.
There was absolutely no doubt that we were both sweating heavily as we started slowly and nervously on the journey up the haunted pathway. Jess looked terrified with each moan she heard and became quite upset as some red gunge dripped over the side of a broken coffin. I closed my eyes, trying to ignore each horror as it appeared but my head filled with even worse terror when I walked into a spider’s web that glued itself to my face.
The words of encouragement (and giggles) from Jamie and Hills seemed muffled as we drew closer to the door, even though we were still only halfway there. A rustling in the bushes and the bright red-eyes of a skeleton dog howled right next to Jess and she turned tail and ran back down the path.
I swallowed hard, determined that I was going to be a hero but already feeling my tummy tighten and breathing difficult, at the same time my bladder and bowel both seemingly wanted to burst. I had no idea this was what fear felt like but I desperately didn’t want to return empty-handed to the sidewalk. I knew that James and Hillary would never let us forget that we were just a couple of scared babies who couldn’t even get up the courage to knock on a door.
I concentrated on achieving my goal. I wasn’t far away and the ghostly hand that touched my face, and the whispered warnings filling my head, only stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds before I forced myself forward. There was low satanic laughter coming from behind the door. I could hear scratching and an evil voice telling the pitiful moans ‘…they would never leave - ah ah ah ahhhhh!’
The hair on the back of my neck was somehow crawling and despite the sweating, I felt goosebumps chill my body. My teeth began to chatter, each step felt like I was dragging a huge weight and the moaning and flapping of wings was getting louder. Blood oozed around the doorway, I felt pee rush into my underwear, shadows drifted by and a bigger shadow filled the reflection in the glass window. The shape changed from man to animal to… I wasn’t too sure but when I looked back to the sidewalk all I could see was the thick mist obliterating everything but a crawling skeleton I hadn’t noticed before.
I gulped and a strange shiver ran down my spine. I was inches away from the door and steeled myself to knock and hope that I wasn’t transformed into some abominable creature of the night. As I raised my little hand to knock, the lit up porch was suddenly plunged into darkness. Fear, or some other shade passed through my body but a purple light switched on. When my eyes got used to the new illumination I could see the word ‘BOO’ smeared in still glistening blood across the door. A scream of death or pain or torture filled my mind and it was that terrifying moment when my bowel decided it had had enough and I filled my underwear. I couldn’t move as my bottom emptied and a rush of lumpy liquid and farts packed my pants with a smelly, mushy load.
I stood spellbound for a few moments, staring at that bloody word that appeared to have been so recently scrawled across the woodwork by some poor, ravaged creature. It looked wet and dripped and then I realised that I was also in the same predicament.
That’s all it had said but those three letters would, unknown to me, haunt me for the rest of my life.
The trip back home was a messy business. Jamie and Hillary didn’t want to have anything to do with a shitty little seven year-old, what with the filthy marks all over my costume, not to mention the smell. Nevertheless, they were nervous of the consequences because they were supposed to be looking after us both and now, one scared little seven year-old had crapped his pants because of their lack of care.
Thankfully Jessica held my hand and guided me home because I never would have made it I was crying so much. The two teens were begging me not to tell, whilst coming up with suggestions on how I should explain the disaster. As I was so traumatised by the entire experience I wasn’t party to any of these negotiations. I waddled, slowly and with legs apart, to try and prevent my soiled pants from rubbing against any other part of my body, so I really wasn’t listening. Meanwhile, Jessica had managed to get all Jamie’s and Hillary’s candy and I never knew what else as payment.
Once home she spent no time in telling our parents what had happened, how scary the place was and who was really to blame for enticing me up that pathway. Of course mom blamed herself for not being there, whilst dad went around and told their parents. They were grounded for two weeks.
I was still crying when mom led me upstairs to the bathroom and cleaned me up. However, no sooner had she put me in my PJs than a nervous tremble ran through my body and I immediately wet myself. She could see I was in shock and didn’t quite trust me to not spend the night wetting the bed so took evasive action. She told dad to go out to the garage and bring in all the stuff she’d stored there from when I was a baby. In moments he returned with a huge box and mom seemed to know exactly what she was looking for.
I was laid out on a towel draped over my bed to ‘catch’ any further accidents and, as she rummaged in the box, through my tears I noticed she had found a couple of thick fabric diapers I hadn’t seen for many years. I wanted to protest but in reality I could hardly get my breath so she had me diapered and in a huge pair of clear plastic pants (which I never remembered owning) in a matter of moments. For the first time since being outside that door at Laurel Grove, I felt out of harm’s way and the thick padding that mom had shrouded me in added to my sense of protection from any evil that may have followed me home.
Mom and dad both came and kissed me night-night but left the light on so I wasn’t scared. That didn’t actually work because my dreams were terrible. Every time I closed my eyes I could still see that garden and when I did drop off I was being pursued by all kinds of devilish beings. In the morning I was in no better state than I had been when I’d arrived home that night. It was a good job that mom had the foresight to make sure I was thickly diapered.
For the next few nights I remained well-protected but after a couple of days I was waking up dry and we all thought the drama had past. Life, and school, went on as normal and things only changed when one Saturday morning Jessica crept up behind me and shouted “BOO” and ran off giggling. Under normal circumstances I would have chased after her and this would have developed into a game of tag or have us both roll around on the carpet play fighting. Alas, on this occasion the strange shiver that ran through me on hearing those three letters had the same effect as those scrawled so unnervingly on Laurel Grove’s front door – I filled my underwear.
Totally unbidden, pee and poo took urgent leave of my body and soaked what little clothing I was wearing. I looked down in horror as a pool of the stuff formed at my feet - shocked I didn’t move but started to cry. Jessica came running back and saw what had happened and called for mom. She couldn’t believe her eyes on seeing her seven year-old son standing in the middle of his bedroom covered in such a mess. She scooped me up and not caring about her own clothes carried me to the bathroom.
She stripped and hosed me down with the shower, then once dry, carried me back to my room and got Jess to find my diapers again. Within minutes of the horror striking, I was back in a thick diaper and plastic pants hugging mommy and wondering what had happened. I don’t suppose the fact that she had scared me even entered Jess’s head, all she explained to mom was that she’d just ‘tagged’ me and ran off when she heard me crying. I couldn’t offer a better explanation, the word ‘boo’ having no connection at the time, so mom must have presumed I was still having some kind of memory to that traumatic night.
My diapers stayed with me now for school because on two occasions I’d wet myself while in class. It wasn’t completely unheard of for a seven year-old to have an accident but, with my recent history, mom thought it better to keep me protected 24/7. I didn’t mind. Although I didn’t particularly like the thickness wrapped around me, I certainly didn’t like the wet pants and stifled giggling of my class mates more. Being called a baby was so much worse if there were pee stains down the front of your pants.
As time went on I seemed to be wetting myself almost constantly so my diaper was ever present. I never knew when I would leak, or flood and I couldn’t work out the reason. The therapist I saw of course blamed my current situation on the ‘Halloween experience’, which left both my parents feeling very guilty seeing as how much it was they who enjoyed the occasion most. However, I’d seem to go ages without any sort of accident and then suddenly whilst reading, or even walking down the street, I’d feel that shiver and instantly fill my diaper.
I haven’t been able to shake this feeling for, well, since I was seven and I’m sixteen now but I think I now know what might be the cause… it’s those three letters B.O.O.
It wasn’t the Halloween garden - the ghosts, blood and bodies, it was those three simple letters.
I know this because when I read a book, my concentration is on what I’m reading but as soon as I stop and relax, the word BOOK is no longer the word, all I can see is BOO. The same goes for seeing any word with ‘boo’ somewhere in it. For instance, the word BOOB has recently had me peeing my diaper like a fountain on many embarrassing occasions, especially when I’m trying to chat up a girl. Boomerang, not a word I see often, but I found myself pissing my pants to once I did notice it. The same goes for many words containing those three letters together. So, walking down the street and seeing Book Shop, often finds me filling my diaper.
I didn’t notice that was the reason when I was younger, I always assumed it was the event that had caused my problem but now I see the real cause. I hadn’t put the word and that experience together. In fact, although I remember the incident perfectly, the word itself I never thought of as traumatising, just the way it was scrawled bloodily on the door. However, now I think I know the reason, I’m not sure I can tell anyone, I feel stupid that a childish scare word has had such a devastating effect on my life for over nine years.
However, I needed help so went to see the shrink and he said he was bamboozled by my casebook. I left his office in a right messy state.
THE END Or is it… BOO