Things I am still frightened of

There is no Albuquerque. And I am beautiful.

Kathy Fish, Wild Life

There is nothing more frightening than what scared us as children.

1.

The Ghost Goes West (1935): The plot centres on a restless spirit, Murdoch Glourie, shown to have died “a coward’s death” in battle, forced to remain in the purgatory of his family castle. Decades pass, and the castle is purchased by a rich American businessman, who dismantles the building and relocates it, brick by ghostly brick, to Florida. How young must I have been when I saw this? Billed as a romantic/fantasy film, but etched into me is the scene of the clansman Glourie frantically searching the battlefield for a weapon, before he is finally killed in an explosion of gunpowder. A scene that still incites a knot in my stomach. The memory of the memory replacing the memory itself.

2.

“The Day New York Turned Blue,” McCloud, Season 6, Episode 6 (February 22, 1976): As the IMDB entry for the episode reads: “The third ‘Alamo’ episode has a blizzard and a police walkout endangering the life of a protected Mob witness in the lockup, while outside a prostitute paints her customers blue!” Too young to recall but for a singular thread: a sequence of men who wake, naked and alone, on their living room floors, their skin head to toe painted a deep, azure blue. Why does this episode, long misfiled in my memory as a television movie, stick even at all? As each man awoke, the pretty young culprit was gone. A city of naked, blue men. I can’t for the life of me remember why she was doing this. Sometimes my recollection suggests she was killing them; other times, not.

3.

“There Will Come Soft Rains,” from Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (1950): The story of a computer-controlled house in the not-too-distant future (originally April 28, 1985, but updated to August 4, 2026 in later printings) that performs daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning, even as the shadows of the family, vaporized by nuclear blast, remain burnt on an outside wall. The family dog returns, terminally-injured, and is recognized, only to die on the floor. The house handles his corpse with remarkable efficiency; almost a tenderness. The thought of those shadows still cause me to shiver.


Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair.