Timing is critical to both comedy and horror. Allow too much time to go by without a gorey murder and the threat of the killer loses momentum. A killer utters a line to quickly transforming it from terrifying to laughable. In order for the scare factor to work, the filmmaker, as well as the actors, need to have a flawless sense of timing. Of course, part of the reason timing is key to horror is that one of the other key elements is surprise-the unexpected. With audiences being so savvy these days it's hard to still find ways to catch them unaware-new twists, new methods, new monsters ( frankenfish, anyone? or perhaps you prefer mansquito) , new places for the killer to pop up (we all know that attics, basements, closets and bathtub/shower stalls are prime killer hidey holes) and most importantly new places to stow body parts (my favorite is always the microwave). Still, when the filmmakers do their job just right, there is no denying that sharp intake of breath, the involuntary jump in the seat, the tenative peering through fingers, the forced nervous exhale.

Of course Life is far better at bitchslapping us when we are least expecting it and leaving us, if not tortured for hours by some sadistic killer, perhaps a little more circumspect about leaving the house.

I had expected if I was going to see Oh He Who Can Not Be Named, it would have been the first or second night of the festival. I was sure if he didn't show up to see Eli Roth, he wasn't coming.

Yep that's when he strikes, that killer. Not when you have your guard, and your axe, up at the ready, but when you finally think the coast is clear. He lets you sit for a moment. Wipe the sweat from your brow. Maybe have a glass of water. Because, you see, he doesn't need to strike now. Now he can just bide his time and the longer he waits, the less prepared the victim will be. And the more assured the bloodbath to come.

Sunday I managed to sit through 2 features before heading to the last program on the list: 3 shorts followed by Blood Rails. By that time I was sick of horror movies. I had hit saturation. I was no longer to blissfully ignore questionable plot holes and meandering scripts. If something was fantastic, I was ready to be entertained, but failing that I was in a vicious snarling "Let's just get this over with" type of mood. I was looking forward to an entire year free of Drowning Pool's Bodies . Sure, I was also sad. I had a great time hanging with my Boys, but I was already thinking about my upcoming week teaching and when was I going to get prepared and when was I going to sleep and when was I going to be invited to some smashing Halloween event so I could show off the costume I spent such effort putting together.

In short, I was over the whole thing.

The end of Program 9 ran long, so Alex and I dashed upstairs to ensconce ourselves for the last program. Alex became my partner in snarkiness, we shared the pain of reviewing the good, the bad, and the almost unwatchable. We found the theater packed full. Most of the prime reviewing seats were already taken. Alex and I sat on one of the side seats with a clear view and I set up my little reviewing table (pictures to be uploaded later, but basically candy, camera, notebook, pen, and Marv) and then dashed to the ladies room so I wouldn't have to interupt the feature. I came back and ensconced myself.

And then...

I noticed the back of his head. He was sitting two rows down, diagonally from me. But it was just the back of his head. I mean, I could be wrong. After all that meant I had walked right by him and not seen him. I hadn't seen his face, but now I was recognizing his head? I checked the shoes. Those black orthopedic looking ones. "Oh no" I thought, "It just might be." But it was the hands that gave it away. Not just their appearance, but how he clasped them together and then played with one of his rings.

Dear sweet baby jesus, he showed up for the last fucking program of the festival.

I had been trying not to think of him the entire festival. From the first moment when I went to the party and the first staff member I greeted said, "Hey, when's ---- coming?" When people ask me about what I think was the best year, I think of the first year I went, when I was his guest, his arm candy. When I met Alan Rowe Kelly, Chris Garetano, D.J. Slave and the boys from SenoReality, when I met Joe Bob Briggs and was so overwhelmed I couldn't actually speak. I remember the movies from that year, the shorts- PSA, Alex-Vampire Killer, and Apartment 206. I remember the last night sitting and watching Jaws in the loveseat at Tribeca. Last year had been a disappointment. I was horribly sick and just struggling to make it through the event, but something was gone, lost. There was no more snuggling in the seats watching horror movies. Now it was me trying to be distant and him apologizing for actually being distant. I bought the same bag of novelty candies as I had purchased the year before, but they remained, for the most part, uneaten. Things were no longer sweet.

Of course, now I know why.

When I told my therapist my nervousness about perhaps seeing him, she said, "I don't know why you aren't thrilled he's out of your life." I don't know either. Probably because of all the good moments rattling around in this brain of mine. The Halloween party he had just for us in November-carving pumpkins (mine was a "catkin"). The soft warmth under his sheets. Telling me he felt content, and me finding a haven in his apartment. The safety, the warmth, the comfort, the feeling of understanding and of being cared for. The way our wit seemed so well matched.

There are, of course, the other moments I remember too. The time he hung up on me, the long typed out emails designed to do nothing but stab me in the heart, the damned if I do damned if I don't arguments, the night he drove me from my own apartment and didn't even bother to call or look for me. Yes, I remember them. I remember how many nights I ended up in tears. I remember cutting myself off from friends for him. Friendships that I have never reclaimed. And I remember finally getting that envelop in the mail, you know the one with the information about how nutrition can cure cancer and I need to put my faith in Scientology. And the fact that whether I do something wrong, or he does something wrong the outcome is the same. He stops talking to me when I most need support. When I am most on the edge of falling apart. When I cared less about myself that I tried to help him when he needed it most, he threw me to the Scientologists to "cure" me.

Yes I should be thrilled. I should be over fucking joyed. I should be doing the hora in the street.

Should, should, should.

I shouldn't care that he's sitting five feet from me, not bothering to admit that he knows me, probably thinking I'm playing some head game with him by walking by. I loved him, and he's a stranger in the dark to me now, one of how many in this audience? Yes, he's a stranger because if he really knew me, he would know that I wouldn't torture him the way that he has tortured me. I don't have it in me to be that cruel, but then I don't make nightmares for a living.

I just live them.

But I immerse myself as much as I can in the movie and the fact that despite everything, I have to pee so by the time Michael Hein announces the winners of the contest I care about nothing except getting to the ladies room.

Alex and I go to the bar. One last night at the bar with the boys and the drinks, celebrating Kit's Ryan's success with Botched (Best Feature and Best Actor) and Richard Gale's triumph with Criticized (Best Short). I hope, for a moment, he won't show up. And for a while I lose myself in flirting and chatting, rehashing and joking. But he does, eventually, come ambling the bar.

I point him out to Alex. "You mean the guy who looks like Pippin?" "You think I dated a hobbit?" Well considering some of the things I COULD call him, a hobbit doesn't seem that bad. He stays on the far side of the bar, chatting with the makers of Stink Meat. I catch him looking over a few times. For what, I have no idea. Finally he leaves and when he does, he's careful not to walk by me, but walk down the stairs and through the restaurant part of the bar.

And that's when hits me, he's scared. He's scared of me. I am the thing that even the makers of nightmares fear. Without any effort.

So go ahead, get comfortable. Sit down with that glass of water and wipe your brow. Because when you least expect it, I'm going to get you in the least expected way possible of course. I'm going to get you by not caring and having a great time.

Which is exactly what I did.

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