Mother . . . Oh God! Mother! Blood . . . blood!”
One incredible moment in film history, no doubt about that. Leon could watch the shower scene a hundred times over. He had probably played it inside his head at least twice that many times, practicing to get it just right. A classic deserved close attention to details.
He pulled the cheap fright wig from his bag and slipped it on, having been careful in its selection. It was slightly graying and pulled into a severe bun like in the black-and-white Hitchcock original, not like the shitty newer version where the old woman’s hair tumbled in wiry strands down her back. The flowered house dress he wore was shapeless and sufficiently frumpy. Getting these nuances correct made all the difference. Leon buttoned the shabby dress and stepped before the mirror.
“We all go a little mad sometimes,” he muttered to his reflection, leaning forward to add “Haven’t you?” He smiled a crooked grin that would have made Anthony Perkins envious,
then approached the tattered curtain of the cheap motel office to have a look at the cabins outside. The crumpled body of the night manager remained where Leon had left him, behind the desk and out of sight, although blood from the man’s crushed skull had spread along the threadbare carpet in an expanding smear.
It wouldn’t matter. Following the movie’s scripted dictates Leon had turned off the Vacancy sign, and at night during such a storm it seemed unlikely any motorist would slow down enough to find this spot. Like the fabled Bates place this motel was not easily accessible since they had moved the main highway. The rest stop didn’t even have a real name; the flickering sign alongside the road merely read “MOTEL.” Anyone stumbling upon these anonymous desert cabins was lost in more ways than one.
He parted the window curtain.
[“Oh, we have a vacancy . . . Twelve cabins, twelve vacancies.”]
Only one light shone among the cabins, and Leon already saw who had gone inside. He had waited for several rainy nights before a dark van finally pulled into the parking lot. A lone woman stepped out. Tonight luck was with him. She was blonde, which of course was perfect. Soaked to the skin too, just like Janet Leigh, and carrying a huge suitcase when she checked in. A girl on the run, maybe? Some lonely hearted bank worker (named Marion, perhaps?) preparing to join her small town lover for a clandestine weekend of sweaty lovemaking? Although the possibilities were intriguing, Mother Bates would not be pleased with her son’s interest.
[“ . . . As if men don’t desire strangers. Ah! I refuse to speak of disgusting things, because they disgust me! Do you understand, boy?”]
He hoped by now the girl would be taking her shower. He didn’t feel like waiting outside in the rain. Mrs. Bates had been bone dry in that famed scene, and that could spoil the whole effect.
Leon returned to his bag and pulled from it the piece de resistance, a long bladed bread knife sharpened and shined to mirrored perfection.
“Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?” he heard Mother scold in that croaking voice she used to lecture her grown son whenever he did something she considered defiant. Norman would have told her to shut up, knowing he had to say this and knowing also that it didn’t matter. After all, Mother wasn’t quite herself today.
He pocketed the key to Cabin 1. The key’s number read 12, but tonight every room would have to serve as Cabin 1. Leon hurried out the door toward the girl’s motel room, both Norman and Mother safely inside him and ready to boogie. Pausing on the small porch outside the cabin he pressed his ear to the door. The sound of rushing water from the bathroom completed an already perfect moment. Leon’s grin spread as he let himself in.
The outer bedroom had gone dark, but the bathroom light was on and the door remained slightly ajar, although there was no real reason for closing it at all. Old habits die hard, Leon thought, just like Norman’s turning on the ‘Bates Motel’ sign when there was no one there to see it.
“We just keep on lighting the lights and following the formalities. . .”]
The thin string of light escaping through the door cracks gave a film noir effect to the
bedroom in a scene that could have been stolen directly from Sir Alfred’s story boards.
Mother gripped the handle of the bread knife as she slowly pushed the door open. Leon could imagine the moment, now only seconds away, when the young woman inside the shower would turn in horror at the sound of the curtain suddenly torn aside. Lacking the fabled stringed soundtrack, the girl would supply her own with shrill screeches of terror. She would scream, a long and piercing blood curdling shriek that Mother’s blade would suddenly cut short as the old woman hacked and hacked in frenzied slashes at the girl’s naked and vulnerable flesh.
Slowly . . . very slowly . . . each footstep measured, the old woman approached the tub shrouded in vapors of steam. Mother could see the blurred figure behind the translucent plastic and she pictured the young woman soaping up beneath the jet of the shower nozzle while oblivious to the horror that approached just inches away. Slowly, practically on tip-toe, Mother drew nearer. Placing one hand on the shower curtain the old woman readied herself for the moment, holding her knife high. She tore the curtain aside.
The blonde woman turned. She made an aborted attempt to cover herself. Then she screamed.
“Hold it right there!” a man’s voice called out from behind. “Drop the knife and put your hands up! Put them up now!”
Not in the script . . . dammit, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to–
Leon turned slowly. The man standing by the door held a rifle trained right at his heart.
“You okay in there, Marilyn?” the stranger asked the woman inside the shower. He tossed a towel to her.
“I’m okay now, Albert,” the blonde responded. “If you waited another two seconds this guy here would’ve made puppy chow out of me. Just who the hell are you, Mister? You some sissy-boy likes to dress in women’s clothes? Jesus, the characters you find in these parts!”
Leon gulped enough of the steaming air to allow speech.
“Are . . . Are you the police?”
The young woman stepped dripping from the tub and joined the man with the double-barrel. They turned towards each other and laughed.
“Just what the fuck you been doin’ hangin’ around this motel’s parkin’ lot the last couple of nights like some goddamned hawk?” He poked Leon’s ribs with the rifle’s butt. “Well, I guess we got the answer to that now, don’t we?”
The blonde, shaking water from her hair, stepped toward Leon.
“You want to take that ugly ol’ dress off real slow-like now, sissy-boy?”
The man approached Leon, the double-barrel aimed at his guts. “My little sis is not goin’ to ask you twice, fucker! Get rid of the dress! Take off that goddamned wig too. You’re givin’ me the creeps with that thing.”
Leon saw no point in resisting. A rifle that size could blow a hole clear through him. He unbuttoned the house dress and stood before the two in his underwear.
“The boxers too, sissy-boy,” the girl said. Leon obliged, and in another moment stood before them naked.
“What are you going to do?” he asked.
“Do? Us?” the man smiled. “Hell, we ain’t goin’ to do a thing to you. But Gram’pa . . . well, we’ll let him explain it to you. Gram’pa! You can come in here now!”
Leon heard the van door outside slam shut. A lanky figure dressed in denim overalls appeared at the bathroom doorway. Greasy tufts of white hair spilled over his forehead. At the sight of Leon’s nakedness the old man cackled with delight. Stepping closer, he inspected the goods and cackled again so hard his body shook.
Most of the old man’s face was masked behind a thick strip of rawhide leather.
And he was holding a chainsaw.
“A Hitchcock Teaser” has appeared in (alphabetically) Dreadful Legacies/Static Movement Imprint (July 2013), Reflux (69 Flavors of Paranoia print edition/HaRMful Productions/June 2011), 69 Flavors of Paranoia (ezine/February & March 2010), The Hacker’s Source,#13 (June 2003), Victim (Thirteen O’Clock Press/Horrified Press/April 2017), and The Whirligig #4 (November 2001).
Ken Goldman, former Philadelphia teacher of English and Film Studies, is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association. He has homes on the Main Line in Pennsylvania and at the Jersey shore. His stories have appeared in over 950 independent press publications in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Australia with over twenty due for publication in 2021. Since 1993 Ken’s tales have received seven honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. He has written six books : three anthologies of short stories, YOU HAD ME AT ARRGH!! (Sam’s Dot Publishers), DONNY DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (A/A Productions) and STAR-CROSSED (Vampires 2); and a novella, DESIREE, (Damnation Books). His first novel OF A FEATHER (Horrific Tales Publishing) was released in January 2014. SINKHOLE, his second novel, was published by Bloodshot Books August 2017.