Stephen King’s stories are set in New England. He lives securely in Bangor, Maine behind a ghoulish spidery cast iron gate. We reside in the daddy-long-legs open woods of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, last night I was also fenced in. I sat at the very center of a packed movie house for the release of IT.
To say my husband is a Stephen King fan is a huge understatement. Richie has been a member of his book club for over 30 years and the volumes are meticulously maintained in Richie’s ‘King cave’. Richie also archives the related DVD’s in our living room. When winter comes and the roads are closed off, he exercies his sense of humor by rewatching The Shining. Richie’s movies, bookshelves and chef knives, must remain untouched, like the penguin in Misery. Our long-loved family pets are even buried on the hilltop behind our house; their tiny headstones include chiseled names and the spot is referred to as Pet Sematary.
I share this background to make a point about our theatre seat selection. It wasn’t to see Jack and Wendy, or Annie and Paul or Louis and Rachel. Poor Danny. Poor Sheriff Richard. Poor Gage. We sped down the the highway to be the first to arrive at our 7:00 viewing. We ensured we were first to walk-in and selected the middle chairs, in the center row, to watch a psychotic clown. Poor Georgie. Poor me.
The theatre filled in around us while we focused on trivia and popcorn. The noise quieted to hushed tones and candy wrappings when the previews started. Just after the first scene, the woman behind me sneezed twice, without a hankie. It was the one night I decided to put my long hair in a bun. The film was both in front of me and on my neck.
I mentally tried to brush it off. Physically, without a napkin or tissue, I couldn’t wipe it away. Psychologically, knowing Pennywise would get me if I tried to walk out alone, I didn’t dare move.
Beverly’s terrifying bathroom scene brought an exploding sink at the exact moment two more rounds of nasal fluid hit my bare neck. Surround sound has nothing on spray-a-vision. I could have shit my pants and taken a shower in that red bathroom.
My combination of fear and anger set off dopamine in my brain and I finally thought enough to slink down in my chair.
At this point, I was as contorted as Pennywise coming out of the closet.
I couldn’t leave. It was Stephen King. I didn’t want to complain. Richie had been waiting months to see this movie. I stayed and became my own horror show.
I went through the roof when fake Georgie transformed at the well. When Pennywise showed his teeth, sneezes five and six flew across the top of my head. The insides, and outside, of my body was completely terrorized.
Pennywise killing in the sewer system was fictional horror at its best but still didn’t compare to the terrorizing moisture I tolerated as a human tissue. The Maine events were set due North but I know my health is going South.
Sneeze Photo credit: Wonderopolis