On Halloween We Touched Hearts
And brains. We touched eyeballs and intestines. The basement of the Nyberg Building had been converted to a haunted house and in one room were bowls of eyeballs. In another was spaghetti noodles with some sort of slime that made them feel slippery, like your insides when you’re scared all the time. The brains must have been Jell-O, the heart a tomato, and we were all dressed like monsters or the men we’d grow up to be. I don’t remember if Derrick was there, or Dalton. Only mist from dry ice that smoked slowly throughout rooms where bodies had once been embalmed, back in the tuberculosis days, before the Institute became a safe haven for a different kind of disease. Somewhere someone was screaming. A chainsaw fired up behind a fitted sheet but all we could see was a silhouette. Everything was fake: all the hearts, the intestines, our own insides, which should say that we’ll submit to being scared as long as we know it’s not real, but I’ve always observed the opposite: everything we know to be real we pretend is fake, and that scares us.
— from “Derrick Wore His Pants Too High” by Paul Crenshaw