Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An urban legend

Most of us have heard the story of "The Hook".

A young couple are parked in a remote area to have some one-on-one fun. They have the radio on, and a special broadcast suddenly interrupts the romantic music. The announcer states that a homicidal maniac has escaped from a nearby psychiatric hospital, and that the police are searching for him.

The announcer makes the chilling statement that the killer is highly recognizable, due to the fact that he has a metal hook in place of one of his hands. (The legend conveniently overlooks the fact that, if he truly HAD a metal hook for a hand, the police would have confiscated it immediately. The man is, after all, homicidal.)

The female half of the couple, and they are usually high-school seniors or college students, panics and insists that her date drive her home. Her date is more blase about the whole thing, pointing out that the hospital is miles away, they're in a car while he's on foot, etc. The young woman continues to insist, and eventually, thoroughly irate, the young man turns on the engine and peels out of the area at top speed.

Neither of them speaks on the ride home; the young woman is too frightened, and the young man is too angry. When they arrive at her residence, the young man stalks over to her side of the car to open the door.

Hanging from the door handle, covered with blood, is a razor-sharp hook.

This is an old story, as shown from the details. The two people are listening to the radio, rather than an mp3 player, a CD player, a cassette player, or an 8-track tape. They are not having sex, just making out. And at the end, the hook is hanging from the door handle. This was, of course, possible several decades ago, when car door handles were shaped differently, rather like a refrigerator door handle.

It's also a morality tale. Don't go parking, or something may happen. Listen to those in authority. Don't hesitate to walk away (or, in this case, drive away) from danger. Stay away from isolated areas. Maybe, even, always have a full tank of gas.

Even given the obvious flaws in the story, and the fact that it could not have happened as told, it is an amazingly scary tale. It is not until they arrive home that the boyfriend discovers that the murderer was right outside the car, about to open the door.

Of course, it would have made more sense for the murderer to take on the boyfriend first, since it was his car and his girlfriend might not have been able to drive it - or to fight off the murderer if her boyfriend were murdered - but this is just one detail that isn't often considered. It's the fear factor; the fear of being in an isolated area after dark; the fear of the unknown; the fear that something really is after you.

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