Growing up poor gave me a unique perspective on entertainment. One summer, the radio station hosted Tuesday night $1.50 carloads at the drive-in for anyone using their bumper sticker. So, mom, (queen of pranks and scare tactics), loaded the station wagon with bags of popcorn and coolers of tea, together with plastic tumblers from home.
It wasn’t entertaining enough to just go to the movies, we had to see Jaws. My 17-year-old aunt, who looked a LOT like Marilyn Monroe and went through boys like we did underwear, had already seen it... twice, but never turned down a free movie so she came with us anyway.
If you haven’t seen Jaws, there’s a part where a man is under water investigating a sunken boat. The music builds right before a human head floats out. (My aunt promised to let mom know before this happened.)
Mom made the boys get on the roof of the car with their pillows and blankets, while we girls watched from inside.
Soon, the drive-in fell silent as Richard Dreyfus approached the wreckage. Music swept to a crescendo. When it was time, my aunt loudly whispered…
Mom hit the roof of the station wagon just as that head popped out, and everyone on the roof fell off screaming.
We all laughed, but to them, something had actually scared them, and they were stoked about it. Though they vowed to get revenge on mom, they soon began chatting about what might come next and the whole thing was forgotten.
That was the summer of Weevil People. If you remember Jaws but don’t remember the “Weevil People”, it’s because I made it up.
Mom cooked up another scheme, which involved us kids camping in Uncle Buck’s small tent, (in his yard), while sleeping practically on top of one another.
Her “plan” was for me tell a spook story to work everyone up. Then she, and my teen-aged aunt and cousin Sandy, would scare the crap out of us.
I agreed to it.
Just as everyone settled, I said I was too scared to sleep, and everyone laughed at me.
“Laugh if you want, but if the Weevil People get you, don’t say you weren’t warned.”
My brother laughed. “Who ever heard of 'Weevil People'?”
“Me.” our cousin Trish put in. “They’re the little egg-like folks who don’t fall down.”
“That’s Weebles, Trish.” My sister chimed in.
“Then what’s a Weevil?” Trish asked me, sitting up wide-eyed.
“Shapeshifters.” I answered. “Y’all seen the Body Snatchers? Same thing.”
“You’re so full of crap, Roni.” My sister barked.
“No.” I answered. “Weevils eat kids to survive. They look human, except for their heads. They kill parents to steal their voice boxes while their kids are sleeping. When they hear the voice of their parents calling, the kids get up and go into the woods, where the Weevil People eat them, and they’re never seen again.”
“Why don’t they just eat the parents?” my cousin Buckie asked, sitting back on his elbows.
“Only the life of a child is pure. They need the pure light of children to survive. Y’all remember them kids from up the road a couple summers ago?”
“Which ones?” My sister asked, suddenly interested.
“Yeah?” My brother chimed in.
“What do you think happened to them? No one would say, but that’s why they want us in the house before dark. Weevils can’t survive daylight but once the sun goes down, they can get any kid stupid enough to go outside. I guess we’ll be all right, though.” I put in, changing my tone.
“Why?” My brother hugged himself in the dark.
“Cause Uncle Buck wouldn’t let anything happen to us.”
“Yeah.” We all agreed.
“Get some sleep.” I told them.
Not long after we laid down, my brother kicked me as he scrambled up onto his haunches.
“Ow!” I shouted. “What’s the matter with you?”
“There’s something… outside the tent.” he breathed.
Just then, there was growling and something moving around outside.
“It’s Weevil People!” my brother kind of whisper - shouted.
“I’ll get Uncle Buck.” I replied, making for the opening.
“NO!” my brother screamed in terror. “Don’t! The Weevil People will get you.”
“No, they won’t” I assured him. “Uncle Buck won’t let anything happen. I’ll be right back.”
Arriving out of breath on the porch, I knocked.
Aunt Sissy answered.
“We’re scared.” I announced. “There’s growling and clawing noises around the tent and we need Uncle Buck.”
Pushing long black locks behind her ears, Aunt Sissy looked around. The top of our tent stood silent in the dark, aside from whispered voices within.
Shrugging, she relented.
“He’ll be right out. Y’all simmer down.”
“Kay.” I responded before running back into the tent.
“Uncle Buck will be here in a minute. Did it stop?” I asked, hoping that my mother was done.
“Yes.” my brother replied, trying to calm down.
Just then the clawing started but stopped abruptly.
Seconds later, the flap flew open. Too scared to scream, we were relieved when Uncle Buck slipped inside, squatting with the flashlight in his hand.
“Y’all all right?” He asked.
“No!” The boys yelled at the same time. My sister and Trish huddled together in the corner.
Just then, the scratching and growling started again.
“Y’all come outta here.” Uncle Buck said, scooting out of the entryway so we could get out.
I scurried toward the exit, pushing the girls in front of me, then the boys. As I climbed out of the tent, Uncle Buck pointed the flashlight to the other side.
“Y’all come on out. You done scared these young’uns to death.”
Suddenly, three scarecrow-like beings leapt over the tent and tackled my uncle!
The other children ran screaming for the house, but I couldn’t move. Uncle Buck was the biggest, strongest man I knew! This couldn’t be my mom and them.
“Stop!” I screamed. “Oh my gosh! Stop!”
Then I heard my mother’s voice.
“Roni.” She laughed. “It’s us.”
The others stopped running and turned around.
Uncle Buck rolled out from under the pile of strange figures.
They wore blue-jean overalls, padded with fabric and misshapen stockings on their head.
“It’s okay.” Uncle Buck reassured. “It’s Irene.”
“Yes.” She laughed again. “It’s me.”
She looked down. Next to her, my brother was running in place, murmuring something about "Weevil People".
“Come here, sweetie.” She said softly, picking him up. “It’s mommy.”
“Don’t believe it!” My sister shouted. “It’s a Weevil!”
“Hey!” Mom yelled. At that, my sister knew instantly who she was, but my brother didn’t.
“Honey, it’s mommy.” She reassured him, taking the mask off. As she did, my brother proceeded to beat her around the head and shoulders, screaming: “You’re not my mom!”.
It took a long time to sort things out and I had to explain what I’d done. When my mother heard it, she burst into laughter.
“You might have told too good a story!” She giggled.
“Yeah.” I admitted. “When I saw you ambush Uncle Buck, I was beginning to believe it myself!”
Mom was a real prankster, there's no doubt about that, but none of us was out after dark for a long time after that just to be on the safe side.
What passed for entertainment to us, may seem ridiculous to some, and we may have been broke, but had the time of our lives and it didn't cost a dime!
About the Creator
I'm a mild-mannered project accountant by day, a free-spirited writer, artist, singer/songwriter the rest of the time. Let's subscribe to each other! I'm excited to be in a community of writers and I'm looking forward to making friends!
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!