By Layla Harding
The lovely Layla lays it on the line about her on/off love affair with Stephen King.
Most authors need an entire book to create fear and lasting psychological damage. However, a master like Stephen King needs a mere eleven pages. Yes, I know it’s cliche to tap the father of the modern horror movement as the author of one of the all-time scariest story. Especially when he has so many flaws.
He’s prolific, sometimes releasing up to three books a year. Like many big leaguers he’s taken a lot of swings and had more than a few epic misses (The Regulators, anyone?). He’s borderline narcissistic, needing to have a cameo in the majority of his films and basing so many of his main characters on himself. Any fan of the Dark Tower series knows he gave himself a starring role in the later books. King is disgustingly wealthy. He has opened the doors of the publishing
world for his much less talented offspring (am I the only person who hated Heartshaped Box? Seriously, I want my money back) when so many more worthy authors struggle to find even an agent.
But not a single one of those things changes the fact when the man is on his game, he can scare the living shit out of the most stalwart reader. And the one story that never fails to make me sleep with the lights on and closet doors firmly shut – locked if possible – is a little gem buried in the middle of Night Shift, ‘The Boogeyman’.
Don’t confuse this with the abortion of a movie that came out a few years ago. Oh no. This takes every childhood fear you ever had about monsters in your closet to a whole new level. And then puts them all, indelibly, back in your head as an adult. Poor Denny Billings knew there was something wrong in his house when his toddler son began screaming at night. Being a tough, New England war vet his mind wouldn’t let him accept the possibility it was something supernatural. Not even after the death of his first born. Crib death they said. It happens they said. And Denny gave but a passing thought to the slightly ajar closet door.
He and his wife try to assuage their grief by having a second child, Shirley. And it begins again. Screams in the night, pointing at the open closet door, terrified cries of “Craws! Craws!” – child speak for claws. And that slithering noise Denny swears he can hear in the still of the night. Then one night, silence.
Who in their right mind would have a third child after that? Denny and his wife, Rita. It would be unfair to share the fate of their baby, Andy, and ultimately, Denny. Let’s just say, I recommend reading this is the middle of the day. In a room with no closets. And don’t plan on sleeping any time in the near future. Something may start slithering through your dreams.