- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - If the skulls in the bathroom and the spiders in the bedroom aren’t hair-raising enough, there’s the Chucky doll standing in the hallway, staring with that bulging eye and sinister smile. If all of that isn’t eerie enough, maybe the boa constrictor slithering about is.

In the world of the NBA - and probably just about any other world - Indiana Pacers forward Rakeem Christmas’ apartment is among the creepiest.

Suffice it to say, Christmas definitely landed the wrong holiday surname.

He should be Rakeem Halloween.

But this isn’t about Halloween. This isn’t for Halloween. This apartment, with its frightening decor, is Christmas’ year-round choice. He just happens to be into this kind of scheme.

“I like artsy stuff,” he says, smiling.

Artsy? OK. That’s one way to describe it.

After a long practice and team meeting Monday, 23-year-old Christmas gave a guided tour of the place he calls home. A place featuring a welcome mat with a skull that reads: “Beware. Enter at your own risk.”

As he attempted to explain it all, roommate Benny Birch tried to outline how he would describe Christmas’ tastes.

“I wouldn’t say scary,” said Birch, who went to high school with Christmas.

Creepy?

“Uh, just different. Just different,” Birch said. As he was saying that, Christmas pulled Riri out of her cage, which sits on a table in the corner of his bedroom.

Riri, named after singer Rihanna, is Christmas’ pet red-tailed boa constrictor. She’s little now, but soon will grow to six feet long.

“It’s a baby. Everyone thinks it’s a grown snake right now,” Christmas says snickering, as if he would ever own a snake that would stay so tiny.

Riri wraps herself around Christmas’ wrist as he talks. Then Christmas wraps Riri around his neck as he talks. She likes that. Often, he sits in his apartment and watches TV while Riri wriggles all over him.

“Yeah, she’ll be crawling all over the place,” he says. “She just hangs on me. She never wants me to put her down.”

Except for maybe when he’s pulling a bald, bloody dead mouse out of a Ziploc bag in the freezer. Riri eats once a week, every Wednesday. She eats two mice in a sitting. But she won’t be dining on frozen fare much longer.

“I’m going to start feeding her the live stuff, too,” Christmas says.

So, do your teammates know about all this?

“Yeah, they know,” Christmas says.

When he got Riri in August, Christmas told Paul George. George warned him: “Don’t ever bring a snake in here,” referring to his own house.

So Christmas took Riri to George’s house, sat her on his kitchen counter in a little cage and left to go buy something.

“George texted me and he goes, ‘You really left this snake in my house?’ ” Christmas laughs at that, almost a cackle.

He laughs, too, about the time he sat Riri on Birch’s head when he wasn’t expecting it. Birch ran around the apartment screaming.

It seems Christmas’ snake - and the decor - has a purpose.

“This Chucky doll is just to scare people,” he said.

Like the other night, Birch’s bed was a mess, so Christmas took Chucky and hid him under the sheets. When Birch got into bed, his hand landed on Chucky’s hand, and when he pulled back the sheets?

“He started freaking out,” Christmas says, again with the cackle.

The spider-embroidered pillows in his bedroom? The skull heads adorning his bathroom towels and rugs? His aunt got those for him.

“I just came home one day and my aunt bought them. I never ask her questions,” Christmas said. “She just figured I would like it.”

Christmas is known for liking this stuff.

Surprisingly, as Halloween - which, arguably, should be the ultimate holiday for Christmas - approaches, he really has no big plans.

Maybe, he said, he will pull out one of his favorite scary movies - that would be any in the “Friday the 13th” series and any movie with Freddy Krueger.

He has no Halloween party to go to. No elaborate costumes he’ll be wearing.

“My family is going to be in town,” he said, “so I’ll probably just go take them to haunted houses.”

The question is … does he really need to?

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Source: The Indianapolis Star, https://indy.st/1Wk8hyx

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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