The Devil On My Bookshelf

I distinctly remember the first scary book I ever read–“Rosemary’s Baby.” For all of you under the age of consent, it’s the story of a young, well-to-do newlywed. She and her husband move into this grand old apartment building in Manhattan and are immediately taken in by all of the strange neighbors. Turns out they’re not just strange, they’re truly evil. Anyhow, Rosemary gets pregnant and that’s when the weirdness ratchets up another notch. After a series of odd events, we–and Rosemary–come to realize that she is carrying the child of the devil himself. Finally, she  goes into labor–at the apartment I think–after much pushing and panting and gnashing of teeth, the baby finally arrives and it’s a …..

Well, I don’t know what it is because that’s as far as I got. I was sitting in my yellow bedroom on Hen Peck Lane here in Franklin. I jumped up, threw the book in the little trash can and covered it with kleenexes. Because clearly the devil wouldn’t find me if he was covered with used tissues.

That started a trend that continued for several years. I call it my Devil Baby phase, interspered with the occasional Stephen King. I would literally torture myself with scary books. They all had names like “Come Back Audrey Rose,” “The Demon Seed,” “The Omen” and of course, the granddaddy of the all–“The Exorcist.” And even though it wasn’t literally a devil baby book, I think that Salem’s Lot–King’s story of boy vampires–scared me most of all. (Hell, why did I start this on a night I’m home alone?) In it he descibes a scene of the vampire boys floating outside the window of another boy…waiting to get their fangs into him. (Excuse me, I have to go lower the blinds now.)

Anyhow, the point is, I never finished any of them. I would read until I was literally too scared to turn another page and then I’d throw them under the bed.

A few years later, I’m married and living in Fort Worth, Tex. Husband changed jobs and the new company moved us to Little Rock, Ark. Since they were doing all the packing, I took advantage of a few days off and came home to Franklin to visit. Husband stayed behind to supervisor the packing and moving.

The last thing the movers took was our bed. But as soon as they picked it up, they saw what I had left behind. About 26 devil baby books. And a few hundred kleenexes.

Today I’m older and wiser. The scariest thing now I read is my monthly financial statement.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “The Devil On My Bookshelf

  1. In the midst of an epic fight to get my son to go to sleep, I’m thinking I may have gotten Rosemary’s baby.

  2. Julie Fisher

    Oh what the world would find out about each of us if suddenly we were removed from the scene of our lives and the movers arrived! Best to keep our homes ready at all times for inspection by friends and relatives.
    You caught me again, Cindy–I laughed out loud about the stash of devil books and Kleenexes. Thanks.

  3. Little Sister

    There were plenty of other things under your bed. I always wanted to read Rosemarys baby and Mother wouldnt let me. She said it would scare me!. I still want to read it just cause she said NO!

  4. I haven’t done much scary reading but with scary movies it’s the same for me. I end up finishing them, but I’m so tormented I can’t sleep. But for some reason I repeat and repeat again.

    Oh the financial report reading is a bit more like you’re scary reading. I never get to the end of it and end up tossing it somewhere and letting used tissue accumulate over it. It can’t get me if I didn’t finish it and it’s under a pile of trash, right?

  5. I remember my friends and I were really excited to see The Exorcist (the first one). Then we ended up fast forwarding it thru the boring parts to the scar parts. hee hee.

  6. Amy G

    I watched all the scary movies, didn’t phase me. I was 13, pshh I could take anything, it’s just a movie. Then my mom let us rent Exorcist for my slumber party, and OH MY WORD!!! I still get creeped out over it, not as much as I used to, but still. My husband and I talked about it at one point, my irrational fear. We determined that the movie potrays evil, or Satan as being unstoppable. Like nothing can defeat him. The revelation made me feel a little silly. I use that example everytime my kids ask me if they can watch something they shouldn’t. It helps get the point across. Books, books come to life for me, I wouldn’t dare read a scary book, I’d be traumatized. I’d be in the back yard burning the books in fire pit while soaking it with holy water at the same time.

  7. AFM–I hope he’s sleeping peacefully now. We’re all a little possessed every now and then.
    Julie—I know for a fact that your house is always perfect. Mine, not so much.
    Lil’ Sis–I’ll get you a copy for your birthday if you still want it.
    Blue–Used kleenex are like bullet-proof vests or super strong Trojans–nothing gets through them!
    Jen–I can’t even watch commercials for scary movies. I’m the world’s biggest wimp.
    Amy–I’ll say it again–you need your own blog. P.S. did you ever make the mayo?

  8. Amy

    Cindy, I am ashamed to say, I haven’t made it yet. We haven’t eaten sandwiches lately, the -20 and all it’s soup weather, and I am kinda waiting to knock his socks off with it. Like make it fresh, right there under his nose. Right now, I am concentrating on the bread. I can cook and bake just about anything, but bread is kicking my arse! My kids think I am crazy, they come in the kitchen and see me yelling and crying and slamming this brick-bread around like it’s alive. Grrr. See, the idea was, fresh made bread, sliced turkey, artichoke and spinach, tomatoes, onions, and homemade mayo. Can you see it? I know, stupid bread! I will do it, it’s just, I’m a perfectionist, and cooking is a BIG deal for me. Now I have guilt. I will let you know how it turned out I PROMISE.

    I’m still bouncing around the blog idea, I think I might do it.

    ~Amy

  9. Kind of like Phoebe on Friends putting her books on the freezer. I don’t think I could put a scary book under the bed. I’d be too superstitious of it still affecting me in my sleep. I think the only book I quit reading out of a scared/creeped out factor was when I was pregnant. The book was so awful (scary and gory) that I talked myself into believing it would affect my baby somehow. Stupid, I know.

  10. Not Afraid–Thanks for visiting Franklin and for all your comments. Just like Phoebe…just the Southern version. 🙂 Come back any time!

  11. abprzp Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!

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