Our house growing up was always a fun place for people to hang out. My Mom made it so warm and inviting with great food always available and freedom to be yourself. Unfortunately, a few creeps filtered into the Norman Rockwell painting and as any young girl can imagine, it was hard to have any privacy when certain guests didn’t seem to get the hint that it was time to leave. One night, my friend Debbie and I were sitting in our front room and freaked out to see a flattened face appear high above the drapes in the big picture window. I blinked and it was gone, but we both had seen it and dashed into the back room hugging each other and stifling our screams. We had an idea who the unwelcome lurker was. A creep had exceeded the creep factor scale and had been banned from our house, but couldn’t seem to take the rejection from both of us. We were not like going to call the police or anything, it was more of an annoyance issue than a fear factor…….or so we thought.
During Spring break, my junior year of high school, my Mom rented a beach house on the Texas coast. My two brothers loved to fish. They each brought a friend. Our Beagle, Linus loved the beach and was thrilled to be included. Debbie, who was like a sister completed the group. We were looking forward to a week of nothing to do but have fun in the sun. Creepos were the farthest thing from my mind as we ran barefoot in the sand. We squeezed lemon juice on our hair and coated ourselves with baby oil and iodine, our home remedy for a tan sure to get the attention of all the cool surfer dudes on the beach. We both agreed that it would be totally tacky to wear the same bikinis more than once, so we took off into Port A to peruse the shell shops in search of the tiniest ones my Mom would let us get away with. We both fell in love with the same madras plaid patchwork design and set off in search of matching flip flops. I was engrossed in a shopping induced high, when Debbie grabbed my arm and pointed up at a hideous thing hanging on the wall. “What IS that?” Yuck, I said. There were several of them hanging all over the ceiling and walls . Faces carved into coconut shells, each one different but equally unsettling. “I’m done here” Debbie said as we paid for our treasures and left without another glance at the frozen faces peering at us from every angle. We caught up with Mom while she was fishing on the pier and checked the crab nets that we had set out early that morning. “This one’s really heavy” Debbie called to me. She pulled it up above the waters surface expecting to see a huge crab, but screamed and let go of the net. Before it sunk back into the cloudy depth, we saw a head that had been tied with strings and tiny crabs were clawing at the eyeballs. “It’s one of those coconuts!” she cried. Linus had been sitting next to my Mom, but he came running and barking and was ready to jump off the pier. Debbie would have nothing to do with checking the rest of the nets and I was ready to skip the crab gumbo myself. Yeah, right, it was just a coconut with a face, but we both saw the uncanny resemblance of the flattened features to another nut head that we thought was lurking back in San Antonio……..that’s what we thought……..
My brothers had caught some fish and managed to bring in the crab nets with the hideous water logged head still tangled inside of one of them. “Yeah, this does look just like old what’s his face” my younger brother, Tracy said, laughing.Poor Linus would go into a barking frenzy every time he saw the skull and he was not a barker. He had actually slept through several episodes that would have driven most dogs crazy. My Mom had enough of it, but she walked around the kitchen singing”Put the lime in the coconut and shake it all up” which had us all rolling on the floor laughing. She wrapped it in newspaper and threw it onto the grill before the boys started the fire for hamburgers. They had fun trying to smoulder the damp shell as they cremated the remains and the smell was grossing me out.”Bunch of pyromaniacs.”Debbie accused them before we both went to check out our degree of skin darkness and blonde highlights. “Keep that up and you’re going to look like negative images of yourself.” My older brother chided us. He could be depended on to tease us, though I knew he had a crush on Debbie.
With the combination of sun and an awesome dinner of stuffed crab, shrimp and burgers, we all fell asleep on the screened sleeping porch listening to the calming sound of the sea, complimented by the always easy listening croons of the Beach Boys. Blame it on too much salt water or whatever, but I woke up with an extreme case of cotton mouth and really needed to pee. My ever glowing chronograph watch said 2am. It took a few seconds to remind myself where I was. The Beach Boys cassette tape was long gone, but I heard the waves spurred by the winds, punctuated by thunder. I laid there trying to adjust my eyes to the darkness, hoping not to stumble over bodies as I made my way to the potty. I had my trusty mini flashlight beside me for occasions such as this. I tried not to shine it into any eyes of the many sleeping beauties as I made my way to the potty. It had started to rain and a blinding flash of lightning gave me a strobe light view for an instant. I made a dash for the bathroom followed by the kitchen to take a swig of fishy tasting tap water. Debbie was awake when I crawled back into my bed. I saw her with her arms crossed behind her head staring up at the top of the screened door. “I thought they burned it” she whispered. What? “That stupid head”she sobbed with that deer in the headlights look. A bolt of lightening illuminated the sky and I saw that same creepy flattened face that had haunted us 175 miles away…….
I have to admit…I lost it. We all did. The power was knocked out for two hours that night at the coast. This was long before the time of cell phones, we were lost. My little pocket flashlight could only shine so far and by this time Debbie and I were so freaked out, I for one did not really want to see anything after that face leering in at us. My brothers and their friends were so cool. BV drove to the police station while Anthony made chilequillas for everybody. Dave went outside with a baseball bat ready to attack our predator. The rain was a blessing and the softened ground enabled the police to identify the footprints all around the house. The only tracks were traced back to the flat faced stalker who had followed us all this way. He was already accused of numerous other crimes, the most significant was negligent homicide, and it was obvious that we were the target of his next one.