Joe Bushue: The Bright Side

Joe Bushue is a travel agent and lifelong Gresham resident who has been tolerating multiple sclerosis for 30-plus years. His column recounts some of the humorous sides of his disability and his slants on life in general. Reach him by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

There was a chill in the air, and fall leaves were swirling around. Even though it was cloudy, the moon peeked through the haze. It was the perfect setting for the traditional start of the holiday season: the first of many Halloween haunted houses.

This one was in a small, ramshackle old house that sat in a small grove of trees off the street. It was probably going to be razed after it had fulfilled its purpose as a Halloween fundraiser for a local service club. It must have been a pretty good one because there was a long line of thrill seekers waiting to go through.

The entrance was in the back door, and after the spooky tour, the exit was out the front. The kids waiting to go through stood talking while they could hear the screams and sounds coming from inside.

It was fun watching the older kids trying to act cool, like it didn't bother them at all, and the little ones getting more scared with every sound and increasingly more hesitant to go in.

Our group of seven - me, a friend of ours, my wife, two of her sisters and two of their friends - waited our turn as the anticipation built with every scream and shriek we heard. Finally, we plunked down our $2 to go through. Since the girls were 8 to 10 years old, my wife said we should all hold hands to make a chain so we could all stay together. This made sense. It worked great until we were inside the door about 10 feet.

The lights all went to black except for one powerful strobe light focused on the huge skeleton that jumped out of the closet right at us. So much for all of us staying together. One good scream from everyone (me included) was the end of our plan. And that was just the beginning - it steadily got darker, creepier, scarier!

We kept going to see coffins, ghosts, spiders, bats and assorted ghouls and goblins, among other flat-out scary scenes and creatures. I think they might have made even more money if they had charged $2 more to let the kids out mid-way through!

Everyone came together toward the end of our 'tour,' and a quick roll call got us all back in line - me in front, our friend in the middle and my wife on the end. This worked fine until we got to the last room. A door swung open, revealing a 'mad scientist' chained to the wall with a chainsaw. Beside him was a bathtub filled with bloody water and the hind-quarter of a deer laying in it.

The chain on the 'mad man' allowed him to come right to the door's edge. Well, that was pretty much the end of our haunted house adventure.

Between the flashing lights, spooky sounds and music, kids running, shoving, pushing and screaming, we all somehow ended up together outside. We were clutching each other's hands, but I was not at the head of the line anymore. Two of the kids were in front. As they dragged us out, I looked to make sure we were all there. Still at the end of the line was my wife - and clinging to her were two more kids we didn't know. Now there were nine in our group!

We definitely got more then our two bucks worth. The kids, who were scared even before we went in, were still shaking when we headed back toward the car.

'That was so gross and scary, I almost fainted and wet my pants,' one of the girls said. 'Can we go again?'

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