Tale – Washington D.C.


The Black Coffin – Washington D.C.

Exact transcription of Lucy telling the Black Coffin tale:

OK, so there’s this guy, and he’s getting read for bed one night, one dark and stormy night in, uh, Vermont—which is a very scary place. And, um, so he’s getting ready for bed. And just as he’s pulling back the covers to sort of wedge himself in between, um, the phone rings. Brrrriing! Brrrrrrrrring! So he picked it up [clicking noises], and he’s like, “Hello?” and um, it’s not that late, you know, so it’s not weird that somebody’s calling him.  And he says, “Hello?” and on the other end he hears, “[crackling noise, and in scary voice] This is the Black Coffin [pause] (I don’t know why the Black Coffin has a Long Island accent). This is the Black Coffin. I am down your street [sound of phone hanging up].”

And, um, the guy’s like, “That’s weird, um,” but he figures that it’s just a prank or something, I mean, how do you react in a situation like that? It’s just strange. So he like, you know, eschews it from his mind [eschewing motions]. So, you know, it’s like, whatever, OK. He gets into bed, and he’s like, you know, sort of propped-up with Harry Potter 5 and a nice mug of cocoa ‘cause that’s what they do in Vermont besides, you know, cow-tipping. And so, um, he’s just sort of drifting of into the first folds of sleep, when, uh, when the phone rings again. He j-jolts awake, Brrriiing! Brrriiiiiing!

He picks up, [clicking noise] “Hello?” And on the other end, he hears, “This is the Black Coffin. And I…am at…your walkway. Click.” The guy’s…mmm…a bit freaked out, not really, but it’s kind of weird. This is not the kind of thing you want to hear before you go to bed at night. I mean, he’s got insomnia, he’s got a big day of work tomorrow, you know, corporate systems analyst kind of thing, it’s a hard job. He doesn’t want to have to worry about shit like –stuff—like this…at night.

Um, so, uh, he’s kinda antsy-in-the-pantsy. He’s not sure what to think. But he decides just to, like, turn on the TV and just try and go to bed. You know, white noise in the background. So finally, a half and hour later, the phone rings again. Brriiiing! He picks up on the first click, and he’s like, uh, “Hello?” and, uh, the “hello” is more urgent this time, “Hello! [more urgently]” and on the other line, you hear, “This is the Black Coffin…and I am at your door.”

The guy hangs up [slams hand repeatedly on desk], just slams it down on the receiver, he’s, he’s, he’s, he’s scared! He’s like the girl in The Ring when she’s like, “Stop calling me!”  He’s pissed off, he’s scared, he doesn’t like this prank. He’s like sitting in bed, the covers are pulled up to his chin, his eyes are darting back and forth like the kind of clockswith the cats and the tails that go back and forth.

So barely two minutes later, the phone rings again, Brriing! He picks up again on the first click, “Who is this!? Who is this?!” and on the other end it says, “This is the Black Coffin…and I am down your hall.” And the guy is fucking freaked out—freaking freaked out—he’s scared. He runs out of bed, he locks the door [sound of locks clicking]. Like all four locks of them, and he puts down the deadbolt [sound of deadbolt]. He pulls the chain [chain-pulling sound]. So he’s scared. He’s sort of dancing around and walking [gets up and starts pacing] like Oh God, I don’t know what’s going on.

Um, he decides not to pick up the phone because he knows it’s gonna ring again. Brrrrriiing! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrinnng! Finally, he picks up [slames table] “What do you want!? Who is this? What do you want!?” And the voice in the phone says, “This is the Black Coffin…and I’m in front of your door…” Okay so the guy’s scared now. And then, just as he puts down the phone [hanging-up clicking noises], he feels these tendrils of fear grab at his heart, twisting around it like a Cuisinart. He hears at the door [knocking sounds]—ow! [laughs]—he takes a couple steps toward the door, slower and slower, inch by inch, he’s reminded of that math problem where it’s like you take half the amount of space, will you ever get to the point? ‘Cause he’s fucking scared.

And, um, he gets up do the door. He takes off the three locks at the top [three slow clicks]. He takes off the deadbolt [deadbolt sound]. He takes off the chainlock [sound of chain]—have fun transcribing that. He slowly turns the rusty New England knob [creaking sound]. He starts to pull the door open and light sort of filters in as he pulls it [another creaking sound, though much longer].

“I am the Black Coffin….I am HERE TO GET YOU!!!!!!!! [screams this last part]”

Lucy’s dad told this joke to her first. She was “freaked out” and also wanted to tell somebody else. Ever since, she has been  telling the story.

This scary story makes good use of popular culture references. This helps the audience relate to the story and get more into it. The extensive use of little details—like Lucy’s metaphors and descriptions—lulls the audience into a false sense of security.

My favorite part is when she slowly goes through each step of the man unlocking the door. When I am scared, life seems to slow down just like that, and every step seems to take a thousand years. By slowing the story down piece-by-piece, Lucy forces the audience to pay very close attention, only to be shocked and surprised when she shatters the silence by screaming “HERE TO GET YOU!”