everyday is halloween
the trek to the haunted house was postponed from last sunday to today. everyone p. and i invited to come along chickened out. or had other obligations [wink! wink!]. p. confessed when we were in line at heartstoppers haunted house
waiting to get in that he never been to a halloween haunted house. we thought we might be the oldest dudes there. we were not. we made friends with a couple of roommates, she in her early 70s, he in his late 20s, while in line for one of the haunted attractions [there are five separately themed haunted houses] who became our companions for our journeys in the the western themed macabre.
this haunted house was the same one my father and i went to last year
but the location had changed. instead of being cooped up in a small downtown location like last year this year's heartstoppers
is set up at the mineshaft
, an old all-ages dance club and miniature golf course that was the bomb say 30 years ago. the place is a huge lot and building with a gigantic basement where the dance floor was located. all the locations of the grounds were used to great effect.
but but here's the rub. p. and i are two middle-aged dudes. we were not the focus of the scaring. the actors look for the people who are the most freaked out and exploit their fears. two older dudes are pretty much left alone. which means for all but one of the mazes the scares were just not there. still, i love halloween and scary imagery, and actors flocked in their finest ghoulery sets my heart a'thumpin'. scary music and ambient sounds get the dopamine flowing. i loved it even if it wasn't terribly scary.
that is until we hit the last maze, the tomb of shadows
. pitch black maze. i was third in our group. p. was behind me. you couldn't see nothing, not even the hand in front of your face. we moved by feel. p. kept saying, rich, are you there!?
i'd feel for p.'s hand and say yes. and then there was the turn. a corner of the maze that turned me to a dead-end. i lost contact with my group. i heard p.'s voice then it was gone. i groped for safer passage and found myself in a corner. i felt panic rising. i was alone in a pitch black maze. i imagined myself trapped in there forever. i imagined myself as being the dork who panics and the management would then have to shut down the haunt, turn on the lights, and lead me to the exit. it was, really, that freaky of an experience. all the other mazes were fun but far from scary. this fucker was scary. i saw an explosion of light in the middle distance and saw a passage. there were people facing me. i jumped. i thought they were actors. they saw me and jumped thinking i was an actor. we all turned a corner. i lost those people. i was alone in the dark, again. i felt my way out. i did everything i could not to panic. p. and my group were long gone. i was utterly alone.
but that was the end. i felt my way out. i saw p. and he said, where the fuck were you!?
our two companions were wiping sweat from their foreheads. that maze alone was worth the price of admission. that maze was incredibly scary.
the haunt was improved by the added acreage of the old mineshaft
. it is a western-themed haunt. p. and i explored the grounds. they were playing the old clint eastwood flick the outlaw josey wales
 in a corner of the lobby. the bar in the center of the haunt served rootbeer and sarsaparilla. there was also a place where kids could get their faces painted. i saw lots of kids nick's age and younger. the decor run the gamut of standard spookhouse cobwebs to a skeleton singing old cowboy songs.
p. and i ended the night with a beer at a local watering hole. we compared notes of the evening. we both agreed the black-out tomb of shadows
was quite freaky and the best part of the haunt. then we got to talking about the passage of time and getting older. we are no longer young. we are not quite old yet too. one doesn't get say four times to be 40 years old to get it right. you get only one shot and more than not we will fuck up. that is the human condition. to be alive and to know it but be alive for each portion of our lives only once. we will screw up. we will stumble. we will have no idea what being 40 years old ought to feel like. and if we get the feeling we soon will be 50 years old and be brand new to that. we will stumble there too. and so on. until we get to dying. then death. for the first time, only.