I am in the mood for hijinks!  What, you ask, is holding me back?   Someone to play along.  I grew up in a household of practical jokers.  My siblings (my sister Courtney and my brother Craig) and I scared the bejesus out of each other on a daily basis, but I have to admit, I ruled the house in a reign of terror that left my brother an almost emotional cripple.

My earliest memory of scaring my brother is the day I decided to mess with his Sesame Street puppets.  Poor Ernie.  It takes a pretty sick mind to come up with the prank, but this was just one in a line of many, many horrific frights, leaving him paranoid, emotional and let’s just say pissed.  It was so out of hand that my mother screamed at me, more than once:

“Are you trying to commit your brother to a mental institution?”

No, but I sure as hell delighted in watching him scream.  So, one night he is in the shower and I grab hold of Ernie.  I manufactured a little sign to put in his hand, it read:

Help Me!

I lay underneath my brother’s bed and awaited his doom.  It seemed like hours, and the thought of my father, just feet away at the living room bar, made it even harder to contain my laughter.  Finally, he opens the bedroom door.


The thing is-he didn’t stop screaming.  It was one continuous scream.  I had to do something, so I stood up.  That may not have been the best move, as his scream turned into a shrill siren’s call to people everywhere who have been the victim of tomfoolery.

Craig!!!!!  It’s me, Michele, calm down.”

But he didn’t.  Not one iota.  And the louder he screamed, the louder my father’s laughter became.  Needless to say, I chilled out for a bit, I loved my brother.  I loved seeing him frightened even more, but nevertheless.

One night my best friend, Denise, slept over.  My sister had been given a wicker mirror for Christmas, and the box remained in my father’s work shop for weeks.  Craig’s bedroom was downstairs, next to the shop.  I talked poor Denise into waiting, in the box, for 2 hours.  I though his return was imminent, but he had been working a shift at Victoria Station, and came very close to putting the kibosh to our fun.  When I heard the cellar door open, (my parents were away for the evening) I warned her that he was coming.

“Why would he come in here?” Denise blurted.  “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” I demanded.

“Hello?  I heard a noise, is someone down here?”  My poor brother.  It is my opinion that he was never the same after seeing The Exorcist.  My mother would NEVER have let him go, so he snuck to the theatre with a few of his dimwitted friends.  My sister and a few neighbors  had gathered out in my front yard when it happened.  Craig came barreling out of the house, as if Linda Blair had popped out of nowhere with a cross in her back and murder on her mind.  “SOMETHING IS IN THE HOUSE,” Craig bellowed.  It took a good two hours for us to calm him down, insisting it was just the wind.

So, back to the night at 202 Riverview Road.

“I hear something, is anyone here?????”  Denise and I,  trapped like sardines in a can, held perfectly still.  My brother approached the box.  What happened next is seared in my memory forever.  This time, there was little, if any sound emitting from his weary body.  It was a silent scream, if you will.  Convinced I had really done it this time, I moved away from the box to apologize, but instead we crumpled in laughter on the floor of dad’s shop, hopelessly breathless.

After that, I was pretty much under my mother’s direct supervision.  But I remember the laughter, even if it was at Craig’s expense.


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