I may have to reconsider my answer to the question ‘why do you write horror?’ Usually I say something along the lines of I’ve always gravitated toward dark stories and story-telling. I discovered Edgar Allen Poe in high school and mix that with the standard brand of teenage, “I’m so alone, sad, and dark,” and boom, I discovered a love for horror.

Last night, I was hanging out with a man who has had a considerable impact on my life. I’ve long considered him a second father figure, but I think I had underestimated how much he has shaped and formed my life. He was the one who introduced me to Christianity. He was the one who bent my politics to the hard right. He shared his love of comic books with me (and I returned the favor: when I started collecting in earnest, I introduced him to The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, which rekindled in him a love of collecting. Now his collection’s as ridiculous as mine). And, most on point, he sparked in me a love of horror and movies. My DVD collection mirrors his, with neither of us knowing what the other was buying. Though his horror novel and movie collection far outstrips mine.

Now, it had been a while since we had last touched base with one another. Only last night did I have that vague sense of triumph and unease, the kind that happens when a son first beats his father in basketball. There’s the initial exhilaration followed by the implications of ‘now I’m my own man. Now what?’ It’s not like I ‘beat him’ at anything, either; but I realized that my vision of Christianity had changed (maybe becoming dangerously liberal in his eyes) and my politics, well, let’s just say that I don’t consider Rush Limbaugh to be the fourth person of the Godhead.

However, I also realized the great debt that I owe him for the man that I’ve become and how much I love him. We should all be so lucky to have such second fathers.

I guess the bottom line is that you never know what role you will play in another person’s life and how much impact you’ll have even when you don’t intend to. You never know when you’ll be the adopted dad to someone, or inadvertently “adopt” children. Either way, we need to remember that we are always being watched.