One of the best things about having a brother eight years younger than me was having the opportunity to scare the shit out of him on a semi-regular basis. It didn’t take a whole lot of work on my part. Although just grabbing one of the videos my father had rented for his weekend viewing didn’t always do the trick, which says a lot. Almost every Friday night, just due to the sheer volume of movies he rented and watched, the videos on top of our VCR were terrible, low budget horror movies. I can trace my love of those types of movies back to being a little kid watching Phantasm, Puppet Master II, and Sleepaway Camp in one six hour sitting. And since having a much younger kid (a four year old when I was twelve) never tempered what types of movies he’d watch while we were around, my brother got to see, for better or worse, all the same stuff I did.
To his credit, Chad was (and still is) a thick skinned bad ass and rarely, if ever, did one of the movies stick with him enough that I was sure it freaked him out.
Then came “Child’s Play”, the cult classic about a murderous doll named Chucky that terrorized a single mother and her (I think) mildly retarded son. At the time, my brother had asked for and received “My Buddy” for his birthday and, as it said in the song on the commercial, it went wherever he went. It was his non-blinking hetero life mate. The Balki to his Cousin Larry. Until he saw “Child’s Play”, that is.
“Buddy”, as uncreative Chad called him, went from being his unquestioned best friend to public enemy number one. We shared a room at the time and I didn’t think anything of Chad putting Buddy in the closet before we went to bed the night we watched “Child’s Play”. But when it didn’t make an appearance the next day, I was sure that he was scared shitless of it…and that I could have some fun with it.
The next night, he put it in the closet before bed again, just as he had done the night before. Like always, he was out a soon as his head hit the pillow. I waited until his breathing slowed down a bit, to make sure he was really asleep, and went to the closet to retrieve the doll. It only took a couple of seconds to put it in the rocking chair in the corner, give it a kick to get it rocking, and dive back into bed as though I had been asleep, too. The creaking rails on the rocking chair woke him up and he screamed like Bieber on fire.
My father came to check on us and, at Chad’s request, put Buddy back in the closet. This went on for a couple of nights: Chad putting Buddy in the closet and getting smarter about making sure he stayed there by bracing chairs and other cumbersome objects in front of the door and me pulling him out in the night and posing him in various spots in our room. It was equal parts terrifying and hilarious. Terrifying for him and hilarious for me, in case you didn’t get the breakdown.
I was losing interest and thinking the fun was coming to an end when I came home to find Chad dismembering Buddy, stuffing Buddy’s stuffing filled body parts into a black trash bag before walking the bag to the curb personally.
I was proud of him for trying to bring his nightly living nightmare to an end, but also glad that he didn’t have the fortitude to stay with the bag until the garbage man came for the pick-up. It gave me the window I needed.
Picture this: you are a little kid who has just seen a movie about a possessed doll that has scared you to the point it ruined your relationship with your favorite toy. When the toy appears to be following the same spooky start as the doll in the movie, you try your best, but eventually you have to dismember the thing for the safety of all in the house. After it’s all done and over with, you take a shower and go to bed….only to find the doll’s head on your pillow, smiling up at you.
Now, I hadn’t yet seen “The Godfather” so I don’t know exactly where I got the idea to put the head in his bed, but I knew it could be a great moment and it was.
The thing that makes me laugh is that, for a stretch of quite a few years, my brother took a job as a bouncer at a few local clubs. I’ve seen “Road House”, I know what being a bouncer entails; it’s a job for tough guys. I wonder how many of the drunks he choked out knew that if they wanted him to turn tail and run in the other direction all they needed was “My Buddy”.
Or, at the very least, “My Buddy’s” head.