Growing up in New England and Massachusetts in particular, visiting the famous town of Salem was a rite of passage. I was probably around nine years old the first time my parents took my brother and me to this spooky place. The memories of that visit are vague. Mostly because being the terrified child I was, I think I blocked a lot of the trip out. I do recall going to several “witch trial” museums, and the entire time holding on to one or the other of my parents pant legs freaking out. The love of horror was not formed in me, and wouldn’t for some time, so Salem became a “scary place” in my memory. As I grew older, and became a horror fan, for some reason I never really went back to the town, even though it was only a two hour drive from my home. Now an adult and on tour with a horror legend, I was more than thrilled to go to Salem and see what sort of horrors Kane and I could scare up.
After an obnoxiously early flight, the three of us arrived in Salem and checked into a beautiful hotel right on the water. Having not been there in years, I completely forgot how Salem was an old, beautiful shipping town. In fact, I couldn’t even recall any images of the town from my childhood memories. The only flashbacks I could muster up were of the hideous wax witches with bad recordings blaring out of small speakers under the figures. Trying to experience Salem anew, I was enjoying the crisp autumn day and the scenery. Not only was I excited to see the town, I was thrilled that this was all new for Kane as well. I was shocked that a person, whose entire life revolved around horror, hadn’t been to the one town in America that was dedicated to the genre.
Unfortunately, upon our arrival, we didn’t get to do much site seeing. Only hours after our flight and checking in, we were exhausted, yet scheduled to do a signing. Thankfully the location was right next to the hotel so it would be easy to get to. Our appearance was at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. At the time of booking and before the event, I really didn’t know anything about the place other than it was rated the #1 attraction in Salem, so at least I knew it had to be good. After a quick lunch, I ran next door and met with the owner, James. He seemed nice, if not a bit nervous for the event. The little brick building had the classic “haunted house” look from the outside, complete with a coffin like ticket booth. Right outside of the exit they had a nice tent set up with tables for Kane and me to sit at. People would go through the museum, which during the month of October doubles as a haunted house, and then get to meet Kane when they exited. It was a nice set up and thankfully a nice day outside as well.
As I unpacked our books, I was thrilled to see a line starting to form. Sure enough, by the time the event was about to start, there was a line down the block, eager to meet Kane. Just before he arrived, my wife, Mother and Aunt Lorraine showed up for a visit. Other than my wife, they had yet to meet Kane, the man I had been spending the last year of my life working with. When Kane showed up, he instantly hugged my wife and then gave my Mom and Aunt big hugs as well. In seconds he had them giggling and laughing, he sure can be a charmer when he wants to. After a few seconds I recalled a story I had told Kane before, and jumped in the conversation to tell Kane that this aunt was the one I told him about.
“Kane, this is the Aunt that tried to watch Hatchet, but threw up when she saw the head splitting scene, not once, but like four times.” I eagerly told Kane. I have a tendency to exaggerate everything; I am a writer after all, so Kane was skeptical at this tale.
“Come on! Is that true?” He asked my aunt who was nervously moving around behind him.
“Oh my God, you don’t understand. I can’t even talk about it now, makes me…” She said almost choking. Needless to say, Kane was more than happy to find out that someone actually threw up at one of his kills.
The appearance started and once again I got to see Kane in action with his fans and how excited they were to meet him. For several hours straight, fans ran out of the museum screaming (right at the exit they had a nice little “last scare”), then right up to Kane for pictures, autographs and to get copies of his biography. By the time the line was done, the sun had set and we were exhausted. I said goodbye to my family who went back home as I packed up. James was very gracious to us and offered to give us a tour of the museum whenever we wanted during our stay. I was dying to go in, but was also exhausted and hungry, so we told him we would take him up on it the next day as would be in town for a bit. With that we headed off to dinner, which ended up being… one of the most disturbing dinners of my life.