Monologue for man or woman,
especially for Halloween
(free for students & auditions)

Haunted House

By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2005 Geralyn Horton

Age range 30s to 50s. 5 minutes. I hear it in a male voice, but a woman could do it equally well.

I always thought my uncle Barney was crazy. His family home is one of those old Edward Gorey type Victorians, and every Halloween since I was a kid he’s turned it into a Haunted House. I mean, when I was a kid I didn’t think much about it. Halloween? I was the kind of kid who could take it or leave it. Trick or treating was OK but not my favorite thing-- not if I had to dress up in a silly costume! But for my uncle’s family, it was like the focus of their whole year. The house has these long corridors that they line with black cloth, and every door opens onto a scary scene. Very artistic, very professional.

Very much an insane amount of hard work. But just mind-boggling, how top notch he got his effects. Really, top notch. Like, last year I took my kids to the Haunted House in the next town over. One of these officially town sponsored things, fund raising for the Boy Scouts. That town does it in a derelict property, so they have the whole place to work in, and unlike my uncle’s family they don’t have to try to figure out how to live in it at the same time. Plus, professionals donate their goods and services-- some kind of a tax break thing. But it’s a big nothing! Compared to my uncle’s. It’s the paint by numbers Haunted House, while my uncle’s is the Real Thing.

People come from miles around for the experience. The police send an officer to direct traffic. Gives you goose bumps, going through. I suppose uncle Barney’s put a lot of thought into it, tried things out gradually, getting it to where it’s really really scary. But not gross. Not a human butcher shop. Not the Disney day-glo stuff either. More like the-- like-- projections of a guilty mind. It’s not something that sets five year olds to screaming-- they don’t really understand, it’s too subtle. Although five year olds have to come in holding their parent’s hands, or carried in their arms so they’ll feel safe, uncle Barney insists. But if you’re the parent who’s holding your kid, keeping her safe, whispering “It’s just pretend”-- you come out shaken. The things behind the doors, lurking in the shadows-- they’re real enough to be frightening. Dangerous impulses, curiosity gone wrong.
Natural fears, simple as spiders or inevitable, like death and decay. You realize you’re keeping the kids safe now, but there’s darkness everywhere, including our own hearts. It’s not fun exactly, but on the whole it’s a good thing to go through. Brings you closer together.

It’s the pre-teens who scream. You’d think they were on a roller coaster. Screaming themselves silly. And then when they’re outside they laugh and push each other around and make monster faces and do that middle school bonding silliness. Which works, I think. My uncle Barney’s a medicine man. The ritual magic of his Halloween House makes those of us who have gone through it a little bit different from people who haven’t, and you know what? -- the whole town recognizes this.

When uncle Barney retired four years ago he was thinking about moving to Florida, but the paper wrote a story about how this might mean no more Halloween. What an uproar! Letters to the editor, an award banquet, a Save-the-haunted-house fund. Barney agreed to stay for a while, while people put pressure on his kids and even on me to take over for him. And I sort of wish I could. I can’t imagine this town without the House. But whether Barney’s crazy or some kind of genius, he’s not me. I’m the kind that can take it or leave it-- not the kind who makes it happen.


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