Playing with Fear

– by Bobby Crew

Playing with your fears is the sure way to make them your friends, in my highly-valued opinion, that is. But before I explain… I’ll just show you an example of how I like to play. This prose poem below is how I turned one of my fears into who I now call Big D.

Ryan Eldon Holmbeck

Photo: Ryan Eldon Holmbeck

A Tribute to Big D

I am well acquainted with Big D; we are beyond a first name basis, Death and I. A few times a year he drops by to see me, just to say hello—although sometimes I really wish he’d call first. I always like to clean up a little before guests come over. You know, shove everything in the closet and under the bed, vacuum, wash a few dishes, fill the rooms with sweet fragrance, and buy a bottle of tequila.

He always shows up unannounced, unexpected, like those drunk friends who blow up your phone in the middle of the night saying they are right outside your door. Big D doesn’t like to ring the doorbell either, instead he pounds on the door like a gavel calling for order, or sometimes he just lets himself in, he’s got a key, puts his bony feet up and insists on holding the remote control. He must catch the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

I suppose he always does come bearing gifts, flowers, food, sometimes money, sometimes the bottle of tequila that I wished I’d had, music—he seems to like smooth jazz now, branching out from metal—and always lots of hugs. Big D is definitely a hugger. He is so full of love he just wants to hug the world.

He’s a family man. When he comes he always invites the relatives, too. They trickle in for a quick visit, and then they disappear only to reappear the next time Big D arrives at my doorstep. When he departs, he’s always sure to thank me for my hospitality, and asks if I would like to go for a ride. I always respectfully decline. He gets into too many accidents.

“Goodbye old friend,” he says with a wave, his fleshless fingers wiggling excitedly. “I’ll be back some day.”

“Will you call next time? You know, so I can make accommodations?”

“Better to just keep a clean house,” he says. “That way it doesn’t matter who comes over, or when.” With that he climbs into his little black Camaro with the tinted windows and expired tags and speeds off into the sunset.

“A Tribute to Big D” is my ever-evolving prose poem that changes slightly every year. It’s how I continue to overcome the fear and pain of death.

Similarly, horror writing has always helped me conquer those things crawling around inside my head. The creatures that used to chase me now invite me to run with them, the demons that once plagued my dreams now lie with me, and that monster under my bed as a kid, well it turned out he only wanted to come up and snuggle.

Play with your fears and turn them into creations. It’s quite therapeutic, believe me. I won’t say that I’m without fear now, but I do look at fear differently. My nightmares are quite fun now, which may be disturbing in its own right, but hey, if you’re going to be a horror writer, you better learn to love the dark because you may find yourself spending an awfully long time there.