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.