Creature Feature

Dear Dan,

Back when we were kids, there was a program in the afternoon called “Creature Feature.” They played some of the original Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy movies. They also played some of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

One summer during high school, you contracted mono. I think you were 16 at the time. You were hospitalized for a while and when you came home, you were on restricted bed rest for several weeks. I had to stay home to look after you. I couldn’t go to the pool or wherever else my friends were going. I had to stay and make sure you drank enough water or Gatorade, ate a bit and above all, stayed in bed.

Funny, but it didn’t really bother me to stay home those weeks. I read and played my guitar. In the late afternoon, we watched “Creature Feature.”

One day, “The Screaming Skull” was shown. As the movie progressed, you and I sat closer and closer until I was sitting on the bed beside you. We wrapped a blanket over us with one small opening for us to peek out. The opening allowed you to look out with your left eye and I looked out with my right. We jumped at every creepy scene.

Until the end.

The skull didn’t like being made to look like it was committing murder in revenge for its own murdered. The last scene had the skull going after the man who really killed all the victims and was using the skull to make the murders look paranormal. The real murderer was standing in a swamp, while the skull was snapping its jaws at the perp’s throat and the guy screamed.

That ending was so bizarre  — and silly! — that you and I collapsed on the bed, screaming with laughter. Mom came home from work to find us rolling around, laughing so hard the tears were running down our cheeks and we couldn’t breathe. We couldn’t even tell her what we were laughing about. Mom just shook her head and walked away.

It wasn’t long after that, you were up and about, back at you usual summer routine. Apparently, laughter was truly the best medicine.

Several years ago, I turned the channel in time to see that last scene and it took me right back to that one, damned-near-perfect afternoon.

I have often thought back on that summer. I never told you, but that one afternoon was worth those weeks of staying home.

I love and miss you, bro.

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