Horror Show (Keith J. Powell)

Mom was a saxophone prodigy who fled home at eighteen to become a Hollywood scream queen. In her first role, she played the mean girl captain of the high school fencing team, who unsuccessfully uses an umbrella to attack and parry against an undead maniac swinging a machete. You know the scene, I’m sure. The killer is wearing a fur coat made of human hair. Mom is wearing nothing.  

After that, her career started to pick up some heat. Her breathy shrieks and tough girl bravado kept her working in supporting roles pretty much until the time Reagan left office. Over seven years, she was in ten films that received theatrical releases. She never once survived until the end but always made the killer work for it. More forgettable victims fled into the woods, Mom always turned to fight.

When cable TV replaced the drive-in as the go-to destination for B-movies, she pitched her own idea for a film. It would star all the final girls from the golden age of slasher films uniting to stop a terrible evil rising up from the San Fernando Valley. Mom wanted to write, direct, and compose the score. She wrote the theme song even though the rest of the project never went anywhere. Instead, she moved to New Jersey and published a tell-all-memoir titled Sax and Violence, earning extra money on the convention circuit autographing glossies and VHS tapes. 

One night in my tiny dorm room, my college boyfriend, the film major, confessed she’d given him his first erection. He was the first person I ever allowed to see me completely nude, and my nipple had been in his mouth five minutes prior. My breast was still wet. 

I decided to take him home to meet Mom over fall break to show him that she still had the goods. She served us artichoke lasagna and brightly frosted sugar cookies shaped like pumpkins. After dinner, she sat him on the couch and stood before him. She slowly unclasped her case, placed her saxophone to her full lips, and began to play. 


Keith J. Powell writes fiction, CNF, reviews, and plays. He is a founding editor of Your Impossible Voice and occasionally tweets @KeithJ_Powell. He has recent or forthcoming work in Lunch TicketCloves LiterarySchuylkill Valley JournalBending Genres, and New World Writing


image: MM Kaufman