USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘campfire story’
Legends
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Taily Poo

Context:

The informant – BL – is a 20-year-old white male, born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He spent a lot of time hiking and camping in the mountain ranges near Seattle, and, therefore, had a few campfire stories to share. He shared this story with me in a fairly typical storytelling context – outside, alone at night, after I had asked him if he knew any scary stories.

Piece:

BL: This is the story of the Taily Poo. Once, there was a hunter who lived in the forest with his three dogs. Every other day, he would go out to hunt small game. Just rabbits and squirrels… the occasional deer if he stumbled upon it. And one week, he went out and didn’t get anything. And went out the next day, hoping he would get something, but still…nothing. He didn’t see a single lick of an animal. Um.

The following day, he went out, and he brought all three of his dogs, and he saw a squirrel hiding up in a tree. So he shot it down, blew its head right off. The dogs went and picked it up, but something else caught his eye… to his right. A large shape in a tree that he thought might be a panther… but… it couldn’t be a panther? Right? Panthers don’t exist in… Northern America. Um. He thought maybe a cougar. Either way, he was hungry, and he needed some big meat… (long pause, and some snickering).

So he pointed his gun at the animal… and shot it. And he heard a bloodcurdling yowl, and saw something fall off the tree, and the animal jumped into the night. He went to go look what fell out… off… and it was a tail. A long black tail with coarse hair, but still a fair amount of meat on it. So he decided to take it home and cook it up, – maybe put it in a stew.

So he goes home with his dogs, cooks it up. He and the three dogs eat their meal and then go to bed. Um. He wakes up in the middle of the night to some scratching sound. Um. And it’s pitch black, but he looks at the foot of his bed and sees two bright yellow eyes.

(In a harsh whispering voice) “Give it back… Give me back my taily poo.”

The man is petrified. “I’m sorry, what?” he says. (we both laugh)

“Give me back my taily poo.”

The man, realizing that this must be the creature who’s tail he shot off in the forest, pushes the dogs off the bed towards the creature, and they chase it off into the night. He waits for them to return, but when they come back, only two remain. He goes back to sleep. He wakes up later that night, in the early hours of the morning, maybe 1am… to see the same pair of bright yellow eyes, next to his bed this time. Scratching at the side of it with its claws.

“Give me back my taily poo.” Very startled, uh, the man sicks his dogs on the creature, chasing it away into the night. He waits for their return, but only one comes back.

It’s morning now, and he goes out to look for his two other dogs. He calls their names, but no response. He goes and looks for them, but is afraid of getting completely lost in the forest, and so, by sunset, he gives up hope, realizing the creature must have killed them. So he goes to bed that night, hungry, because the forest is bare. Um. Uhhh. Then he wakes up in the middle of the night to a ripping sound. (BL poorly imitates a ripping sound and we both laugh). He jumps awake, thinking it must be the creature, and he’s right. At the foot of his bed… No… revise, revise. On his bed, the creature is pawing and clawing his sheets, ripping them to shreds. It’s yellow eyes gleam in the pure darkness.

“Give it back! Give me back my taily poo!” The man sicks his last dog on the creature, which chases it outside the house. Only a few moments later, to hear a heartbreaking cry, which he only assumes can come from the dog. Now, shaking in fear in his own bed, in the pure darkness, he hears something walking up to his bed. Two yellow eyes peek over the bedframe. And that was the last we only heard of that man…

(We both laugh).

BL: That was terrible…

Me: That’s just how it ends?

BL: Alright…um. When his friends went to go look for him, because they hadn’t heard from him in days, when they show up at his house… his house was no longer there. The only thing that remained… was the chimney.

Analysis:

I think, for the most part, this story is just an entertaining campfire story, relying on the performer’s dramatic performance determine how well it’s received. BL here clearly did not remember the tale too vividly, as he paused with many “ums” and “uhs” to recall what happens next. Though the story is likely mainly for mere entertainment, it does have anti-hunting connotations, with the hunted returning for vengeance on the hunter, which is a common archetype in tales and stories. Also, the creature killing the hunter’s pets creates an interesting comparison between animals that we hunt and animals that we keep as pets. Stories like this often help us cope with the fact that we hunt and eat animals, as we soothe the moral complexity of the issue with stories of the hunted animals enacting vengeance on us.

general
Legends
Narrative

Backseat Butcher Horror Story

Informant:

J, a 22-year-old, Caucasian male who grew up in San Francisco, California until he turned 16. He now lives in Boise, Idaho. He spent his summers at summer camp with his friends.

Background info:

During summer camps, counselors and children would sit around a fire-pit at night and tell stories. While some of these were positive, most of them would be told with the aim of scaring people. This is one of the stories told to Jacob during one of these sessions.

Context:

This was told among a group of friends sitting in a circle around a fire-pit late at night, slightly intoxicated, telling each other their favorite scary stories they heard as children.

Main piece:

“A young woman spent the night out on the town. As she decides to come home, she takes the back-roads to avoid having to stop at lights. That, and she can speed a bit haha…. It’s quite a far drive in the dark, so she decides to listen to music on the radio to stay awake. A few minutes into her drive, she notices a large truck driving up behind her. She slows down to let them pass, but the truck just drives directly behind, matching her speed…Nobody else is on the road and the truck flashes its high beams. No matter how fast she drives, or which turns she takes, the truck stays right behind her. Terrified, she speeds home and pulls into the driveway. The truck is still there… She considers locking her doors but opts to get out and run to her house. She opens her car door and starts to run. The driver gets out of his truck, as well, and aims a gun. Time seems to stop… She can feel her heart beating… *Thump*… *Thump*… *Thump*… Silence… *Bang*… The shot echoes in her ears as she looks down at her chest to inspect the wound. As her ears stop ringing, she hears a thud as a body falls out of her car, a butcher’s knife in hand…”

Thoughts:

Having someone follow you is a common trope in folklore that invokes fear in everyone. It rattles your nerves and using it in this story subverts expectations. The final part of the story utilized a lot of sound effects to make the listeners feel calm, despite being the crux of scariness. The ambiance of the environment in which it was told played into it with the cold, quiet, dark night with the flames casting shadows around us. It was obvious that some of the people in the circle were nervous of the shadows, thinking someone was behind them. It was interesting to hear that this was a campfire story told during summer camps due to it being set more in a cityscape. However, I think it works well in that setting because often back-roads had to be taken to get to/from the camps. There are many stories in which events happen in sets of three. This story utilizes it for the sound of the woman’s heartbeat. The sound effects that J used during the story really made it come alive, which is why I believe most recounts of live stories like this do not capture the actual experience of the story.

Legends
Narrative

Camp Seven Hills Serial Killer

Abstract:

This piece is about a legendary serial killer that roams the woods near Camp Seven Hills in New York.

Main Piece:

“Informant: So I spent a lot of summers at a Girl Scout camp called Camp Seven Hills. And of course there were a lot of ghost stories around the fire, but every year they would tell a ghost story about a man who had wandered off from one of the neighbor farms, like right next to the camp, and wandered into the woods one night. Like a really creepy, scary, serial killer kind of man. And his favorite thing to do was to catch little girls, little Girl Scouts and kidnap and murder them. So the whole thing was never wander into the woods at night alone. They would tell this story every year.

Me: Where was this camp?

Informant: Camp Seven Hills in Western New York. I think it was to make sure we didn’t go off on our own, but it like totally freaked us all out every year.”

Context:

The subject is an adult woman who remembers her time as a child in the 1970s going to Girl Scout summer camp. She grew up in Buffalo New York and was an avid member of the Girl Scouts growing up. Camp Seven Hills is located in Erie County, New York and still functions as a Girl Scout camp today.

Interpretation:

I wonder if this legend of this Camp Seven Hills serial killer still exists today or if it has vanished from the folklore of this camp. Since this comes from the childhood of an adult, it would be interesting to compare the stories told to the young girls at this camp today and see if they are similar or very different. I think the informant was correct about the meaning behind this legend, that it would prevent girls from wandering around the woods alone or at night. Stories like this are terrifying for young girls and since it was localized to a nearby farm as the origin, it would make it more believable as well.

 

general
Legends

Judge Cropsey Legend

The Judge Cropsey Legend as told verbatim by informant:

“Judge Cropsey was a story we learned when we went away to boy scout camp. Well there’s a bunch of different versions but the most popular version was that Judge Cropsey was a scout leader and every year he went to boy scout camp with you know one of the troupes from his home town and uh of course he taught all his kids how to um you know whittle with a pocket knife and how to use a hand axe and how to use other tools and you always had a project like building a tripod or building a tower, but Judge Cropsey was a real fanatic about safety and um he would be very upset if you didn’t use the tools properly. So one summer there was this kid you know this kid would not uh repeatedly didn’t use the tool properly particularly the hand axe and uh as Judge Cropsey was watching him one day this kid um (pause) was using the hand axe incorrectly and he managed to chop, lose control of the thing and hit Judge Cropsey in the wrist and knock of his hand. Judge Cropsey just went bananas. He had a psychological breakdown, went running through the woods, bleeding everywhere and kinda disa disappeared and from then on every summer at that boy scout camp there were sightings of Judge Cropsey in the woods usually at night time usually running around with a hand axe and of course threatening you know that he was going to chop off someone’s hand.

It was a typical campfire story you know. It was a lot of fun. And the whole purpose of the story of course was to scare the new kids you know at camp um but it became really a legend. And like I say there were multiple variations on the story. and of course anytime there were noises at night someone would scream (suppressed yell) ‘Judge Cropsey! Judge Cropsey!’ (laughing) And everyone would you know duck under the covers and you know hope that he wouldn’t come to your tent. You know the youngest kid at camp was 11, so. But everyone at camp knew the story.

You know, I think probably I told it outside of boy scouts because uh I used to take my friends camping. You know, and I’m sure I not only told the story but I’m sure I embellished it. There’s there’s another version that actually wound up in the movies. Uh where uh Judge Cropsey or someone similar to him grabbed the handle of the car and got dragged as the car was puling away and of course when the people didn’t realize what was going on and when they um when they stopped the car and got out they saw the hand um you know there. And then of course there’s the version where uh Judge Cropsey, because he lost his hand, he got it replaced by a hook and every once in a while someone would hear a scratching on their car and they’d speed off and then, of course, one day someone would look at their handle or look at their rear fender and see a hook hanging off it and that was Judge Cropsey’s hook.

I lived in Long Island and every year we’d go up in the Catskills where the boy scout camp was. So, but I think the hook man, my guess is that the hook man was a variation of the original Judge Cropsey boy scout story.”

The legend of Judge Cropsey in the boy scout context is perfect, as the informant mentioned, in terms of the scary campfire story and especially messing with the younger boys at camp. The threat of Judge Cropsey lurking in the woods at night with his axe is not only classic, but it does teach the boys a lesson in listening to their camp leaders, being alert, and of course staying on their best behavior. Running off to the woods isn’t so appealing if Judge Cropsey’s running around trying to kill kids. The informant’s connection to the fairly popular contemporary legend of the hook-man is interesting too, because the “embellishment” of Judge Cropsey or the essential collaboration of the two legends makes for an almost oicotype super-legend. If donned with a hook, Judge Cropsey isn’t limited to the woods, but can strike anyone at anytime. It’s also interesting because the legend of a child-threatening figure named Cropsey has numerous variations in other parts of New York, one of which was formally investigated in the 2009 documentary film “Cropsey.” The film explores the legend’s manifestation in Staten Island, where Cropsey kidnaps children and takes them to the woods where they are lost forever, then exploring its power in relation to the conviction of a local man as a child kidnapper.

Cropsey. (2009) Dir. Joshua Zemen and Barabara Brancaccio. Netflix. Web.

Legends
Narrative

Slushbucket

“Not too long ago, there was a truck driver whose job was to drive across the country.  But he wasn’t just an ordinary truck driver.  He transported dead bodies.  For 20 years he did this, driving back and forth across the country and never had any problems…

But one day, he was driving through a horrible blizzard on a narrow mountain road.  Suddenly, the truck hit a patch of ice, swerved off the road and was stranded in a ditch on the side of the mountain.  The crash knocked the driver unconscious and by the time he woke up, the truck was completely enclosed in snow.  He tried to open his doors, but he couldn’t get out.

For days, he was stuck in the truck and was forced to eat leather from the car seats.  But after weeks, the starving truck driver had no other choice.  He made his way to the back door of the truck, into the storage container.  He was so ravenous that he opened the caskets and quickly began feeding on the dead corpses… and to keep warm, he used the skins as a coat.  The truck driver now acquired a taste for human flesh.  No one ever found the truck until the snow melted that spring, but only open coffins and scattered bones were found.  There was no sign of the driver…

On one dark and rainy night, a young girl was babysitting.  She had already put the two children to bed and was watching TV, when all of a sudden; she heard a faint noise outdoors,

‘Slushbucket, slushbucket, slushbucket…’

Thinking it was either the TV or the sound of the falling rain outside, she hesitantly returned to watching her program.  After a few minutes, she started to hear creaking, and then footsteps on the second floor of the house.  But thinking it was just the kids getting up for a glass of water, she didn’t pay it any mind, until she heard a voice,

‘Slushbucket, slushbucket, slushbucket…’

This time she heard it much clearer and much louder than before, and it was coming from upstairs!  The babysitter just thought it was the kids playing a joke on her, so she walked upstairs so that she could put the children back to bed.

Soon after, the parents came home, but the house was completely quiet.  They called for the babysitter, and no answer.  Then they went upstairs to check on the children.  Maybe the babysitter was in their room.

But as they opened the door to the kids’ room, they found the babysitter on the floor, with a pool of blood by her side. It looked as if a person had bit off mouthfuls of flesh!  Horrified, they rushed to the children and threw off their covers.  They too had been eaten!  As they turned to rush for the phone, they were stopped in their tracks as they heard staggering footsteps coming from the hallway towards the room, and a rasping whisper with each step,

‘Slushbucket, slushbucket, slushbucket…’”

 

 

My informant first heard this horror story when she was a teenager at summer camp.  She hates scary stories, so she remembers being really scared by this one.  She says she probably retold the story hundreds of times when she was younger to her siblings right before bed and friends around the campfire.  She explained that she hadn’t told the story in such a long time, so she probably added details that weren’t in the version she heard, but she tried to keep the sequence of events the same.  “Horror stories are all about the details,” she said.

The “Slushbucket” story is really similar to other babysitter-themed horror stories, which play on the eeriness and vulnerability of being the only one awake in the house after the kids go to sleep.  Therefore, this story is mostly directed toward teenagers, the age group that is just beginning to baby-sit.  The tale also seems to scare its audience into being apprehensive while babysitting, by showing the fatal result of the nonchalant babysitter in the story.  “Slushbucket” also includes elements of cannibalism, which adds to the horror.  Interestingly enough, when I looked up the definition of “slushbucket,” one of the meanings is “a foul feeder.”  Therefore, this term most likely refers to the fact that the killer is a cannibal.  It’s already bad when a mass murderer is on the loose with knife, but a cannibalistic killer who eats you alive is probably worse.

Legends

Urban Legend: A Dead Body Hidden in a Hotel Mattress

 “Once there was a couple who decided to get away for a couple days.  They decided to stay at a motel and as soon as they entered their room, it smelled horrible, like maybe a rat died in there.  So, they complained to the front desk, but the concierge assured them that the room was just cleaned and the cleaning staff and even the previous occupant never complained about a smell.  The couple then asked to switch rooms, but the motel was in the middle of nowhere and completely booked.  There was nothing they could do about it, so they started to track down the smell for themselves.  The smell was coming from somewhere near the bed.  They looked under it, behind it, behind the bedside tables and still couldn’t locate the smell.  Finally, they decided just to check underneath the mattress.  When they pushed the mattress off, the found a rotting human body in the box spring.  The body was there for days, maybe weeks until it was found.”

 

My informant is from Pasadena, California and first heard the story when she was in grade school in the 1990s.  She heard it from her friends at school and also saw it in a comic book version of urban legends that she read when she was younger.  While researching this story, it turns out the story is very popular.  My informant’s version is very similar to other’s I came across online.  All the stories involve a couple, a foul smell, a search to find the smell and the discovery of the body.  However, other versions include different descriptions: the couple is on their honeymoon, the story takes place in Las Vegas, the cleaning staff cleans the room while the couple is off sightseeing (but the smell remains when they return) and sometimes there is no complaint, just a discovery.  The story of the body in the mattress has many different versions, but nonetheless, is the same story.

The most surprising and interesting discovery I made during my research was the fact that the exact same incident occurred at a Travelodge in Pasadena, CA in July 1996!  I first found this information on Snopes.com, which prides with the statement: “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.”  According to Snopes.com, the motel staff discovered a woman’s body ten days after her murder after multiple complaints from occupants.  In another source, the body was found by a Honolulu native, while she and her brother were on vacation (“The Body in the Bed”).  Although unreliable sources, the two websites illustrate common variants found in folklore.  In order to really confirm the urban legend from Pasadena, I went to the City of Pasadena’s online archive.  The archive only publishes the headlines of newspapers, but the title “Body found in motel room identified: Woman, 23, is named using dental records,” dated to August 2, 1996, verified this story.  The urban legend was most likely a popular story already, so the incident may have simply been a reenactment of the legend.  Furthermore, the event may have also revived the story, which is why my informant heard it while in grade school during the 1990s.

 

Emery, David. “The Body in The Bed.” About.com Urban Legends. 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/crime/a/body_in_bed.htm>.

Sharfstein, Daniel. “Body Found in Motel Room Identified : Woman, 23, Is Named Using Dental Records.” Pasadena Public Library. City of Pasadena. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. <http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/Library/PNI/pniAuthor.asp?page=1&pagesize=100&showAll=&calltype=sort&searchtype=&Pattern=&sortOn=subject&sqlQuery=qauthor+%27%25sharfstein%2C+daniel%25%27>.

“The Bawdy Under the Bed.” Snopes.com. 18 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/bodybed.asp>.

Childhood
Legends
Narrative
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire
Tales /märchen

Northern Californian Campfire Story: The Ring Man

Interview Extraction:

Informant: “The story of the Ring Man goes to back when I was growing up, and my dad and his best friend Jim Kaddy who used to go camping in the woods, around where our cabin is in Lassen. And up there, there would be when we were little; there are these trees with these rings on them. There were painted white rings, around various parts of the forest. And so what they told us was that the Ring Man paints a white ring on these trees. And the reason he does that, is that at night various campers are camping out in the woods and he comes to their tents when they are sleeping. And for the girls, he leaves them candy. But for the boys he finds, he kills them. And when he kills them, he puts a ring around the tree for each boy he kills. So you should never go out at night when you are camping, or the Ring Man will get you.”

Interviewer: “So the Ring Man only kills boys? Why?”

Informant: “Because boys are noisy. But you only tell that story at night, when you are camping.”

Analysis:

“The Ring Man” is a campfire story that is unique to the informant’s family.  The story is intended to be told as a campfire story, specifically to younger children.  The reason why the story is intended for children is because only children would believe that the rings on the trees indicate the murder of little boys.  Adults know that the rings on the trees actually indicate the lumber has been marked to be cut down by local logging industry, which has a strong presence in Humboldt County culture of where this story originated.  The high number of trees marked with rings makes the story more believable to the children, because the proof of the Ring Man’s existence is something you can really see.

The violence present in the tale indicates that the authors of the story had a dark sense of humor, and created the tale to playfully tease their children.  This tale also serves as an educational warning to the young audience, in that it warns them of the evils and violence that are present in the world that they should be aware of.  In this sense, “The Ring Man” tale is very similar to other folk tales that warn children of the evils present in the world such as “Hansel and Gretel”.  Another interesting aspect of this story is the idea that the Ring Man only kills boys, because they are noisy.  This comes from the stereotypical belief that girls are sweet and quiet, which is why the girls get sweet candy, and boys are loud and obnoxious.  Therefore the performer of this tale also uses “The Ring Man” as a warning to little boys that they should be well behaved and quiet or the Ring Man will kill them.  The fact that the story puts an emphasis on the importance of being well behaved also indicates that the authors of the story put a high value on manners.

I have heard this tale many times when my family and I would go camping. When I first heard “The Ring Man”, I thought the tale was real, and I became extremely upset when I saw three trees marked with the white rings by an elementary school.  After expressing this to the informant, he explained that the tale was not real and my anxieties were soon forgotten.  There is a sense of pride that comes from the story because it is unique to the informant’s family and a part of their traditions.

My informant was born in 1957 Arcata, California to a high school basketball coach and his wife.  After earning his undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of California, Davis, he moved to southern California to obtain his MBA in business from the University of Southern California.  He now a partner at Ernst & Young. He lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with his wife and has two children.

Legends
Narrative

The Story of Josh Friar

This story is told at a summer camp in rural Pennsylvania.

Over by the lake, there used to be a huge house. It belonged to a man named Josh Friar. Josh was a very strange man, and very reclusive. He stayed in his house all year round, only leaving once a month to do his shopping in Towanda (the local town.) The townspeople always waited expectantly for his visit every month, for although he was strange and a recluse, every month he would have a new, beautiful woman with him. Blonde women, brunette woman, tall woman, short women–all different, and all stunning. One month Josh brought a particular beauty into town. She had fiery red hair, and bright green eyes. Everyone agreed she was the most beautiful woman Josh had ever brought. 

The next month, however, Josh didn’t come to town. Nor did he the next month. On the third month that Josh did not come to town, the townspeople decided to form a party and go check on him. They hiked out to the lake in the woods, and knocked on Josh’s door. There was no answer, but the door was unlocked. The men shrugged and opened it. Immediately they were overpowered by a hideous stench. It was so vile that several of the men ran outside and vomited. Despite the smell, several men still went inside. As they entered the dark house, the smell got worse and worse. Some had to leave because they couldn’t take it. Finally, someone found a light switch. When they turned it on, one of the men screamed. Everything in the house–the carpet, the walls, the furniture, everything–was covered in human flesh. It was so awful that some of the grown men cried or ran away. The few that remained decided they had to keep looking for Josh. They saw a staircase, and started to climb. As they climb, the smell got worse and worse. One man passed out. Finally, they reached the top of the stairs, and opened the door. Inside the room, sitting on a rocking chair, was the beautiful redheaded woman. And in her lap was the head of Josh Friar.

And one some dark nights, like this one, they say that he still walks these woods–the decapitated Josh Friar, searching for his head, with nothing but a green lantern, the same green as the bright green eyes of the woman who killed him.
This was a ghost story told at my informant’s childhood summer camp every year, usually at a bonfire on the Fourth of July. The camp policies didn’t allow most traditions, such as camp songs or stories, except for this and a few more told only on this night. Only one of the oldest, most experienced campers  will be allowed to tell the story, and every year, the camper with the honor does his or her best to make it new and exciting, even though everyone knows the story already.

At the last part, a green light will start flashing from the woods behind the speaker, to the screams of campers. This is done by another senior camper, and it is considered an honor.

Legends
Narrative

The Story of Raggedy Ann of Towanda, PA

There was once a young woman named Ann, who lived in the rural town of Towanda, Pennsylvania, with her parents, who loved her very much. They would always say to her, “Just remember, Ann, if you ever get into any trouble, any trouble at all, just run home. Run straight home, and we’ll be here.” One night Ann was driving out by the woods. A deer sprang out onto the road, and Ann, swerving to miss it, crashed her car. In the crash, the glass from the windshield shattered, and split through either side of her neck. Ann stumbled out of the car and ran home, but as she ran, her mostly-severed neck flopped back and forth–flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop. Her parents found her and rushed her to the hospital, but somehow in the crash Ann lost her mind and went insane. Her parents put her in a mental institute. One night, Ann escaped, so that she could run home to her parents. And on some nights, you just might see her, running through the woods, her head going flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop.

This was a ghost story told at my informant’s childhood summer camp every year, usually at a bonfire on the Fourth of July. The camp policies didn’t allow most traditions, such as camp songs or stories, except for this and a few more told only on this night. Only one of the oldest, most experienced campers  will be allowed to tell the story, and every year, the camper with the honor does his or her best to make it new and exciting, even though everyone knows the story already.

On the last line– “flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop”, Raggedy Ann herself comes running across through the words, her head flopping back and forth, to the screams of the campers. This is always another senior camper, and it’s considered an honor to play the part.

general
Legends
Narrative

Campfire Story

The informant is a male in his 50s. He was born to two Greek parents in New York. He was brought up in the Greek Orthodox Church. He lived in the Bronx for most of his youth before moving to the suburbs in Connecticut. He has worked as a journalist for most of his life, a job in which he spent a good deal of time in the Middle East as a foreign correspondent. He now lives in Southern California as a software developer. He is divorced with three children.

The informant heard this story when he was young, commonly in a campfire situation. He classifies it himself as a “campfire story”, told among young pre-adolescents in situations where spooky stories are being swapped. He had this story told to him multiple times when he was young when someone was called upon to tell a “ghost” story. He considers it a story relegated to youth.

Text: A person is driving at night and a car behind them constantly honking. And he can’t figure out whats wrong and why its… and he tries to let them pass and slow down and pull over and they just keep honking and honking. And of course its because there’s someone in the back seat, an escaped lunatic, they’ve heard about on the radio. And, um, they can see the person but the driver can’t see them so they’re honking to warn the driver, that’s what the misunderstanding was.

Analysis: This story plays on a universal fear among humans. There is always a fear of what is hiding behind your back. Humans fear what they cannot see and behind the back is a constant blind spot. This fear is used in many horror films, when the monster/killer, etc. is commonly standing right behind their victim. This fear is especially compounded by the dark. The story is suited for campfire situations as it prays on a primal fear. It is also suited to adolescents and youths, as the story becomes less plausible if a person is used to driving cars, as it would be extremely unlikely that a driver would not notice someone sitting in the backseat whenever they looked in their rearview mirror.

[geolocation]