For example, a long time ago a very scary movie was playing on cable with the most hideous, frightening looking vampire one could imagine. The face was blue with death and the hooked nose seemed to have its own sharp claw. Nowadays, vampires are romantic figures, a notion I simply cannot understand, whereas this THING was evil. The image of that horrible face is burned into my memory from just one look at the TV screen over thirty years ago. Another example of the impressionability of my mind is when I walked through the living room where my father in law was watching the movie, “The Jackal.” My eyes were drawn to the screen, as it seems is natural to do, just as Bruce Willis purposely fired a large gun of some sort and completely blew his assistant’s arm off at the shoulder. The image of the man twirling, spewing blood in all directions and the mangled arm socket is etched in my memory. Even now, my heart races while thinking of this.
Perhaps it began when I was a small child. My mother and sister were collecting tarantulas for a science project in our front yard. They would pour a little gasoline in the hole, and out would crawl a large and very agitated spider. They scooped them up with a shovel and dropped a total ten or fifteen into a metal trash can. Curious little me put my little fingers on the edge of the can and stood on tiptoe to look inside. The mass of writhing, hairy horrors likely made me scream and surely cemented a strong case of arachnophobia which keeps the local exterminator with a regular customer.
The image of the girl’s leg sinking through the water at the beginning of “Jaws.” My foot turned toes backward after being pushed and while falling down some stairs in junior high. The dirt on the inside of my helmet shield after tumbling into a ditch with an upside down motorcycle.
What brings this issue to mind at this time is something which occurred recently at an outdoor event here in Central Texas. The temperature was 102 in the shade. The day dragged on. A woman from a radio station had conducted some interviews complete with headphones and sitting next to her equipment. She apparently overheated and felt faint, as she rushed to lie down on a bench. But, just as quickly, she rose straight upward and projectile vomited over the handrail. The sight of her stomach contents shooting from her mouth now joins the substantial amount of unpleasant images in my mind.
And I wonder why I have nightmares.
So, just as anyone who has witnessed something disturbing, I must pigeonhole these images and, remember what my mom would have said, “Just put it out of your mind, Elaine.”
I do try, Mama, I do try.