This story is suspected to originate in the mid-1950s. It gained significant attention when the story was reprinted in the advice column ‘Dear Abby’ in 1960. It has since become a morality archetype in pop culture, and has been referenced in several horror films. Retold several times over the years, this story has taken on several variations. The following is one of my favorite versions that I like to tell.
One summer night, a teenage boy was going out on a date with his new girlfriend. He picked her up at her house and they drove out to the edge of town. They parked the car in a secluded spot that was known as Lovers’ Lane.
As they watched the lights down on the town, the boy put his arm around the girl and switched on the car radio, looking for some romantic music. He leaned over and the young couple began kissing and cuddling. Just as they were getting into the mood, the music suddenly stopped. A news-reporter’s voice came on the radio.
“This is an emergency broadcast. Earlier tonight, a crazed murderer escaped from the state mental asylum. Police are warning citizens to be on their guard since the patient is considered armed and dangerous. The insane killer is nicknamed “The Hook Man” because, after he lost his right hand in an accident, it was replaced with a steel hook. Everyone in the area should be on the lookout for a man fitting this description. If you see anything suspicious, you should report it to the police immediately.”
The girl became frightened and asked to be taken home. She knew that the state insane asylum was not far from Lovers’ Lane. She was also worried that the remote area where they were parked was the perfect spot for a deranged madman to lurk.
The boy was feeling brave and assured his girlfriend that they were perfectly safe. He locked all of the car doors, then tried to kiss her again. The girl became frantic and pushed him away, insisting that they leave immediately.
In a huff, the boy turned on the car and slammed it into gear, spinning its wheels as he pulled out.
On the way back to town they both calmed down, but the girl still held on tightly to her boyfriend. He didn’t push her off, but felt annoyed none the less.
When they pulled up outside the girl’s house, the boy got out of the car and walked around to open the door for his girlfriend. His night was ruined and he just wanted to go home.
He stopped at her door. For a long time he just stood there, staring at the door below the window. At first the girl couldn’t figure out what was wrong; then she realized that her door was still locked. She smiled and unlocked it.
Still, the boy just stood there.
The girl was puzzled and rolled down her window. Then she saw that the boy was staring down at the door handle. Slowly, she looked down herself and began to scream uncontrollably.
There, hanging from the door handle, was a bloody, stainless-steel hook.