Scary Gary! Where are you?
(St. Louis, Missouri )
(Photo from Dave Kirkham)
This particular tale was born on a crisp spring night, not unlike tonight, where harsh gusts of wind made even the toughest young men clutch at their jackets or tuck their hands inside their shirtsleeves.
This was supposed to be the last freeze of the season. I remember because I invited the coolest kid I knew, TJ, over for a sleepover at my house. I didn't think he'd want to hang with a nerd like me, but he said he didn't have anything better to do.
TJ was from the city and not easily impressed. He quickly rifled through my DVD collection and didn't see anything that interested him. He didn't even like any of my video games even though we were just 12 years old and my mom already let me have the Rated T titles. Classic TJ.
I knew I had to think up something fun to do fast or he'd never want to come over again, and he'd tell everyone how lame it was at my house at school the next Monday. Everyone would believe him too, since he was so much more popular than me.
I had hoped it wouldn't come to this, but I decided to tell TJ the legend of Scary Gary. As the story goes, Gary was a Gulf War veteran who returned home from the desert just a little bit different. He was part of the bomb squad and everyone said that one went off just a little too close to his brain.
Unable to hold a job and addicted to the sauce, Gary roamed the streets of his old neighborhood, just looking for someone to take him in and give him a chance, but no one ever did. Gary missed the hot desert climate; he hated the cold more than anything.
One particularly harsh winter, Gary was found frozen to death in an alley in the city after a homeless shelter turned him away for being too drunk. They said that on a particularly cold night, if you retraced his steps through the city streets, you could still hear him scream, begging for a blanket or a coat.
TJ didn't need to hear anymore. As soon as my parents went to bed, we crept out my bedroom window and into the frosty night. Armed with our flashlights, we searched the neighborhood, but to no avail. I could tell this ghost hunt wasn't going to do the trick for TJ if I didn't spice things up fast.
"Hey, I dare you to call his name out!" I said.
You mean like this? SCARY GARY! Where ARE you? Hey, Scary Gary! Come out and say hi!"
"I'M COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD!" The voice seemingly came from all around us.
We screamed and ran back down the street, over the fence, and through my bedroom window as fast as we could. TJ was scared out of his mind, but I could tell he had fun, and that's why I knew it was a good idea that I brought along my trusty tape recorder.