Terror, talismans, and the monster under your bed

Jenny as costumed stage manager in a recent production of The Great Gatsby (under duress)

by Jenny Oberholtzer, director (“A Good Friend Helps You Move”) and actor (“The Problematic Physics of Haunting Your Lover”)

When I was a kid, I was terrified of a horrible bat-creature with fangs that (I swore) lived under my bed. He had glowing red eyes and giant leather wings. He would curl up under the box spring, and hang there by his claws when my parents checked, just out of sight. I never looked for him, because I preferred having two feet and two eyes, thank you very much. I was petrified at night, and would leap off the bed rather than step within ankle-swiping distance. I barely slept.

My mother had the most practical response imaginable.

(Bear in mind that I was a shrimp of a kid. Mostly scabby knees, sunken eyes, and the impotent rage of the small.)

“What makes you so special, that a horrible monster would go through the trouble of choking on your little bones, when there are so many meatier kids to eat?”

Consigning a bigger kid from down the street to his fate as bat-chow, I slept well for the first time in weeks.

There may be monsters, but with so many potential feet to gnaw off, why would they pick yours?

“What makes you so special?”

Probably nothing. And that’s why you’ll be ok.

It’s my talisman.

Erica Smith cracked that talisman when she wrote one of the scariest scripts I’ve ever read, or heard, or seen performed.

Sometimes the monster tells you exactly why they chose you…


Strange Tales II: A Little Stranger will feature horror, betrayal, kerosene, basements, late night hole digging, and terrible timing — buy your tickets today


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