That Time I Babysat the Stewart Boys
Recently, my brother-in-law, Paul, posted a picture from the made for TV movie, Trilogy of Terror, starring Karen Black. Every time I see anything from this movie, it brings back a lot of memories, some terror, a little embarrassment, and something I should have written about already. I tell the story often to people when you talk about the scariest moments in your life.
The movie came out in 1975, so I assume this incident took place around that same time period. I was in high school at the time and probably a sophomore. One of my moneymaking businesses was to babysit. I was very picky about who I would sit for. I did not want to work very hard at this and the kids in question had to have some manners to start with.
Bob and Linda Stewart ran the ambulance services in our town, which we all called The Burg. They also were part of the camping club that my family belonged to so I was acquainted with their boys, Kevin and Monty. The Stewarts were big into the Democratic party machine for the county and attended several meetings and events. On this occasion, it was a fancy fundraiser where they would be gone for quite a while on this Saturday evening.
I arrived at their house just before dinner. The boys were finishing their meal so I was not going to have to prepare and see that they eat. Linda came into the kitchen in a beautiful, sparkling dress of black with silver threads running up and down. She provided quite a nice form for the dress to cling to and I wondered who was not going to stop and stare at her. Bob was dressed in a very nice suite with a beautiful Stewart plaid tie. It was definitely an over-the-top affair for the evening.
After their parents left, the boys and I played cards and board games to while away the time. Monty had a hard sitting in place so the games were rather sporadic as he was up and down through any of them. After a time, the boys decided to go and entertain themselves for a while. I turned on the TV and was looking for something interesting to watch.
Just after dark, the movie of the week came on. I settled into the couch with my legs folded under me and a comfy pillow beside me to balance my elbow on. The movie was called Trilogy of Terror, which was a horror flick. It starred Karen Black, whom I admired for her talent and beauty. Kevin came in and sat down in one of the side chairs, pulling a pillow into his lap.
As the film progressed, the tension and suspense were building. I looked over at Kevin at one point and he was squeezing the pillow into a small ball. I was gripping the pillow at my side with fingers locked into the piping around the edges. Who knows where Monty was? Since he had a hard time sitting still, I was sure he was in the basement throwing a tennis ball to hit the wall.
The suspense continued to grow and the activities in the movie were more frightening as it continued. Kevin finally had enough and went to the kitchen with the comment that he needed a drink or snacks or something. The pillow that he had mangled was slowly releasing its form in the chair he left and was coming back into the shape it was meant to be.
On the screen, the heroine was desperately trying to get away from a miniature devil figure with spears. He was relentlessly hunting her down throughout her apartment while preventing her from escaping. She had temporarily lost the figure and was searching for him so she knew where he was and to avoid contact with him. The music was growing in tempo and volume until it unleashed a blast just as the figure jumped out at the heroine.
Over the top of the couch, a dark and furry figure came flying and landed into my lap at exactly the same moment the figure leapt at our heroine. I screamed and flailed at the figure to push it from my lap. I jumped up and ran to the back door to leave the house, definitely not intent on staying in the living room or any other room there. Just I pulled the back door open and meant to step out, I heard peels of laughter from the kitchen.
I stopped and tried to make my pounding heart slow down. I looked back to the floor in front of the couch to see the black and white cat that lived in the Stewart household. The poor thing was traumatized, shaking violently, and looking all around for someone to hold it. In the kitchen, Kevin and Monty were rolling on the floor with laughter and holding their sides as if they were about split. I put together the scene pretty quickly at that point.
I tried to temper my words as best I could so that I did not get in trouble with their parents later. Since it was late in the evening, there was not much that I could do to make them suffer as much as the cat and I had. An early bedtime with no TV was about as bad it could get. I had no trouble enforcing that on them.
They finally stopped laughing, but could not quit talking about the event. They were not even worried a little about the trauma they had inflicted on the cat. As for me, they only focused on the look of horror I had on my face and the speed by which I had made it to the back door. Of course, I did not find anything funny about the event that took place. Not to mention, I missed the entire end of the movie due to their antics.
The Stewarts arrived home from their political fundraiser at about 1:00 in the morning. I received my pay for the evening and left without mentioning anything about the trauma their boys had inflicted on me or the cat. We said good night and I got in my car and went home.
The following weekend, the camping club met at a local state park to spend the weekend around the campfire and share stories. At these gatherings, the kids usually hiked through the park and found as many activities as possible to stay away from the adults. At one point, the Stewart boys began to tell the rest of the group of kids about the movie and their addition to the suspense and terror. I did not appreciate them sharing the information, but there was little I could do. The rest of the group added their torments on top of the story by teasing me and throwing things onto the path in front of me.
When we finally returned to camp, the adults were gathered around the campfire enjoying themselves. It seems that the Stewart boys had told their parents the same story they had shared with the rest of the kids. The adults enjoyed the retelling of the story by Monty after we all sat down around the fire. My embarrassment grew with the adults jumping in with comments. It slowly died down over the weekend. As everyone left, I heard comments to watch for cats and things that fly in the night.
I did babysit for the Stewarts again after that without any further events that caused a great deal of laughter. Years later, I still had the tale retold and enjoyed by everyone except for me. I have not seen any of the Stewarts or the camping club group for some time. I only hope this story remains buried. But then again, here I am bringing up again!