I walked up that pathway for the first time in twenty years. The fact that I had got this far in my life relatively unscathed was a minor miracle. I had obviously had my issues since that night but I had lived and I was able to return to the place where it all began, exactly twenty years ago today. More confident and together than I had been in a while I took a deep breath of the sea air and let the wind push me back, enjoying the awesome power of the natural world. I glanced up to the old lighthouse at Yaquina Head, where I had narrowly escaped death at the hands of “The Oregon Joker” all those years ago and I closed my eyes, suddenly unsure. I let the sound of the ocean wash over me, hoping it would soothe this sudden surge of anxiety. Sometimes at night I could still hear the screams and the mad cackling of that evil lunatic. The nightmares had been a frequent visitor for about fifteen years and this trip suddenly felt like a terrible mistake. A step too far in my attempts to recover some semblance of a normal life. I stared at the topmost point of the lighthouse and willed myself to regain my composure, using the exercises that Sophie had taught me. I assured myself that at this time in my life this was exactly what I had to do, if I could conquer this final fear then maybe I could move on with other things.
It had been almost two weeks since I received the letter from Jack, informing me that Raymond Stokes AKA “The Oregon Joker” had finally been put to death. “The Oregon Joker” took his name from the fact that he painted his face in the crude approximation of a clown and after he had killed, he left a “joke” on his victim, with a clue to his next target. His face paint was no Pennywise the clown but a hideous distortion of a children’s entertainer, he even wore a flower that squirted water, I stopped myself pondering upon his terrible visage and focused myself on the reason I was here, to bury memories, not relive them. In the letter Jack had begged me to meet him here today and accompany him on this grim but hopefully cathartic pilgrimage. After a bright start the weather had turned grey so I zipped my jacket up and headed towards the path to my right and waited for Jack at the appointed spot.
I glanced at my watch, Jack was now one hour late, I had tried calling him but coverage wasn’t great. Eventually I managed to get a faint signal but Jack didn’t pick up. The light was starting to fade and I was beginning to worry because whilst I had gained a lot more confidence, the dark was still something of a challenge. The dark brought with it haunting visions of spiral staircases and the windswept desolation of the headland. I decided to head back when I heard a noise from within the lighthouse, it had been practically deserted the whole time I had been here and I could feel the panic rising up inside me. I looked up and saw a figure at the top of the lighthouse, just a glimpse but enough to convince me that I had seen the face of a clown, a terrible vision that I had prayed that I would never see again. With my heart thumping to escape my chest I, not for the first time, ran for my life…….
The Story Continues….
The Oregon Joker – Part 2
The Oregon Joker – Part 3
The Oregon Joker – Part 4
The Oregon Joker – The Last Laugh