It’s a vague recollection which barely qualifies as a memory, a hazy and tantalizing fragment on dwelling on the periphery of the mind’s eye. As time goes by, you wonder if it ever had any basis in reality or was just another lingering effect of the raging fever that laid you low for an entire week in ninth grade.
Yes, your imagination must have conjured it up while you were ensconced beneath a pile of quilts on the living room sofa, dosed on Nyquil, with the family TV tuned to some basic cable movie channel.
That’s a sound explanation. A rational explanation. A sane explanation. It was just the drugs and a brain-frying pestilence playing games with your subconscious, like your lucid dreams about the bubbling tar pit in the basement or the gigantic tree sloth peeling away the aluminum siding around your childhood bedroom window.
Knowing that is a comfort which fortifies you against the phantasmagorical terror….
….until you discover, some three decades later, that it was ALL TOO REAL.
Yes, it is a bit disturbing how the off-model Peter Billingsley on the poster art happens to be an exact doppelganger for my tweener self, but it’s not the revelation itself which unleashes an ontological crisis.
If The Dirt Bike Kid was real, what other half-remembered childhood terrors were not simply figments of an overactive imagination? There could be a whole pantheon of nightmares out there lying in wait for me — a hellish host of bubbling tar, giant sloths, flesh eating house plants, radioactive mutants, and toilet-dwelling giant squid, all led by a cackling tow-headed fiend on a flying Kawasaki motocross bike.