Crazy people are scary. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been afraid that some crazy person is out to get me. Not because of something I’ve done, or said, or am, but because they are crazy. Branches scratching at the window? A desperate psychopath was slowly etching his way into my bedroom with the fingernail he’d sharpened just for that purpose. Unexplained glint in my American Girls Doll’s eye? A surveillance camera set up by a maniac so he’d know when I’m asleep.
My bedroom in highschool was over the garage, on the opposite side of the house from the rest of the family. My mom would stand at the bottom of the stairs, turn out the light, and wish me goodnight. I just knew some wacked-out killer was going to echo my mom’s “I love you, hon,” with his own creepy “I love you, too,” as he slid out from underneath my bed and duct taped my mouth.
My paranoia reached its pinnacle with a one-two punch from HBO. I watched a special about BTK, a serial killer in Witchita, Kansas who calmly admitted to murdering numerous women during his trial. In one instance, he stalked a single women in his neighborhood for a period of time, until he felt confident enough to break into her house when she was away from home. He hid in her bedroom closet. When she came home, she had a “male guest” with her; BTK waited hours until the guest left. After she had gone to bed, BTK emerged from the closet, and (according to him) calmly explained to her that he had a “problem” and that she was going to have to do exactly as he instructed her. Then, per his modus operandi, he bound, tortured, and killed her. Oh, and he took some pictures and dumped her body at the chuch where he was a Deacon. At the time, Ernie was going through a book-chewing phase, so I kept him in his crate while I was at work. When I’d get home, I’d check that the basement door was still locked and then let Ernie out of his kennel. We canvassed each room, under beds, behind the shower curtain, in closets, behind doors, and in cabinets until I was satisfied BTK wasn’t there. One horrible day it occured to me that if some psycho were to decide to stalk and kill me, all he’d have to do was sneak in every day for a week or so and give Ernie a treat, thereby becoming a friend in Ernie’s eyes. I am my own worst enemy.
A couple of days later I watched “Sin City” and saw my beloved Elijah Wood dismembering and eating hookers. I’m not a prostitute, but who’s to say tastes don’t change? I stopped wearing my ipod during walks so I could listen for footsteps behind me, or the sound of sliding gravel as Frodo leapt from the shallow pit he’d fashioned to ambush me as I walked by.
But don’t worry. My fears don’t keep me from functioning in society. One day, while calmly relaying my fears to a friend, he gave me a really strange look.
Me: Don’t worry about me. I’m one step ahead of those crazies.
Him: No, I’m not afraid for you. I’m afraid of you.
Come on. I’m not afraid of aluminum foil or chocolate frosting. Crazy people are scary.