We weren't actors or artists, and we certainly didn't have any experience in the Haunt Industry, but we sure did like the sound of eight dollars an hour. I even quit my minimum-wage job at the student bookstore. The guy in charge of the operation was a scatterbrained 20-something named Cameron ("Call me 'Cam!'") who'd inherited an old house that he planned to gut and flip after Halloween. He hired us the second we showed up. "Can you papier-mache?" was all he asked. He pronounced it "pop-ee-ay ma-shay." Nearly every night during the month of October, we toiled at the haunted house, building rooms, painting everything black. Cam would show up every few hours with hundreds of dollars of materials, gallons of fake blood, pizza, and cases and cases of beer. Cam had bowl-cut blond hair and he literally tied sweaters around his neck. He had Excel spreadsheets to show how much money he was going to make on this haunted house. Cam was the first entrepreneur I ever knew.
The majority of our fellow spooks looked like they'd made the short list for "most likely to become a serial killer" at their respective high schools. The time spent decorating this haunted house was kind of like an extended group therapy for these people: Instead of sitting around alone, torturing small mammals and masturbating to old issues of Fangoria, they were doing something socially redeeming, you know, brainstorming better ways for the child mannequin torso to emerge from the bathtub full of blood or how to make the corpse hanging from the noose the closet look more realistic. "Let's put a puddle of real piss under him," one suggested. The others nodded. Who knows how many lives this haunted house actually saved.
Like every Detroit story, this one involves hookers and turns out badly.