Monday, April 4, 2011

Annette Hodge Interview

I'm sitting at a small plastic table within the Sunnyside Wellness Center in P_______, California. Annette Hodge, forty-seven, is sitting across the table. She's wearing a starch white shirt and blue pants – like all the other patients of the Sunnyside Wellness Center.

Baker: Mrs. Hodge, you were admitted to the Sunnyside Wellness Center-

Hodge: Sunnyside up. Always filled with scrambled eggs. Sorry, my little joke.

Baker: That's okay. As I was saying, you were admitted here five years ago.

Hodge: That short? It seems like I've been here forever.

Baker: What brought about your admittance to this place?

Hodge: You know.

Baker: I would like the get the story straight from you, if you don't mind.

Hodge: Oh, I don't mind. I've told it often enough to various psychiatrists and psychologists and every other headshrinker they got here. You want it from the beginning?

Baker: Yes, please.

Hodge: Okay, well. Five years ago, me and my husband and my two boys, Kevin and Jerome...they were good boys, though they liked roughhousing...anyway, my family and me went camping. Up near Y__________. We used to go there every few years. Just camp out for a few days. My husband, Paul, he used to love it. [She takes a long sip of water] Anyway, it was our first night camping in a while. We set up two tents – one for me and Paul and one for the boys. Paul had already gone to sleep and I was driftin' off when I heard this noise. Like a growlin' noise. But not like any animal I'd heard before. Then I hear this scream. You heard of the term bloodcurdling, right? [I nod] Well, it was like all my blood curdled in my body. Because I knew that scream was one of the boys. So I rushed out of the tent, not even bothering to see if my husband had woken up yet and I rushed over to the boys' tent. But I was too late. Their...their throats had been torn out. And as I looked at them and wept, I heard another scream and though oh god oh god Paul. So I rushed over to our tent and there it was.

Baker: What did it look like, Mrs. Hodge?

Hodge: You want to know what it looked like? You're gonna laugh. To me it looked like the Wolf Man. From that old movie. Lon Chaney in all that makeup. But without all that hair on his face – and with these teeth, like razors. He didn't look funny at all, Ms. Baker. He looked...he looked like he could rip my eyes out of my socket before I could move. He looked intelligent. And then I noticed he was standing over my husband's body, one hand holding Paul's throat closed and I knew it had been slashed, just like my boys. But he was holding it closed and my husband managed to utter one word before he died. Just one word. "Hell," he said. Do you get it?

Baker: I'm afraid I don't, Mrs. Hodge.

Hodge: From what I read later on about this creature, his name is the Rake, right?

Baker: It's the only name we have for it.

Hodge: Well, my husband had just completed the name. "Rakehell." You know what a Rakehell is? A lewd or wanton person. It was certainly wanton. Those headshrinkers I saw? They said I just hallucinated the creature, that my grief caused a, what was it, a break with reality. But you know it's real, right?

Baker: Yes, I do.

Hodge: Good. Because it still visits me sometimes. That's why I checked in here. I thought I could get away from it. But I can't. Even with locked doors and barred windows, it still visits me. And it tells me the most horrid things. It whispers, Ms. Baker. Do you understand?

Baker: I'm afraid I don't.

Hodge: Good. Be glad you don't understand. Understanding is hell.

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