A couple posts back I was gloating about getting to spend four days and nights alone as the whole family went to North Carolina for the long weekend. Read it here if you so desire: Free Range Chicken
In that post I made an ambiguous reference to being deathly afraid of the dark when I’m alone. Maybe it wasn’t so ambiguous. Well, a few comments here, a few e-mails there and it turns out people want to hear the rest of the story. If you’re not one of them, stop reading now.
Captain Kirk made me turn on the lights.
What kid isn’t afraid of the dark at some point? I was and if you say you weren’t you’re either a liar or in therapy for being a liar.
I may have carried my fear a little longer than some. Maybe I should be in therapy. I thought I had shaken it. I found out in 2005, at the age of 37, my fear of the dark was lurking in the not so deep recesses of my mind.
Let’s take a look at where and who I was in 2005. An instructor at the NCO Academy in Knoxville, newly married for the first and everlasting time in December of 2003, and in year 18 of a 22yr military career. A career, by the way, that had spanned the cold war, the drug wars in which I spent time in Central America fighting, and 10 years on the flight-line working on what was then the AF’s premier fighter, the F-16 Falcon. In other words I was a hero of the people. At least that’s what the plaque I had made at Mike’s Trophies and Sporting Goods says. Half off if you order in bulk.
All that to say I’m not a person you would tag as the afraid of my own shadow type.
All that would change one fateful night in 2005. It’s always one fateful night isn’t it? I mean it’s never a fateful afternoon, or fateful beautiful spring Sunday brunch right? Nighttime – it’s when bad stuff happens.
Like I say I was married to the lovely Tracy – Mrs Frank’s Place. She, and her posse of not to be named women (Becky and Sarah), decide to go on a shopping trip to Atlanta from Friday to Sunday.
Yes! The weekend to myself. It’s 2005, so no kids, except for the friggen cat, Pumpkin and mostly a clean house(friggen cat) and golf on TV, and then playing golf in the mornings and then late night TV watching the replays of golf. Yeah you bet honey – go to Atlanta. Have fun, spend money. Yes I am aware those two things, fun and spending money, are redundant.
So off they went. And all was well.
Then it got dark. No problem. I closed all the blinds and settled into my Barco-lounger to watch TV. No golf replay for some reason so I start surfing.
Around 10pm I find a Twilight Zone marathon on Sci Fi channel. That’s some campy stuff. I was laughing at the “special effects” wondering how anyone could be scared by that.
The third episode had a dude who looked really familiar but it was a quick glance so I wasn’t sure. Then a close up. Holy cow it’s William Shatner, Captain Kirk, in what must be his first TV role ever. The episode was titled Nightmare at 20,000 feet. Might have been a clue there. Missed it.
In this Twilight Zone episode he’s playing a nervous passenger on an airline returning from a sanitarium. He has a window seat and the window has curtains. That tells you how old this show is. I believe John Lithgow played the Shatner character in an updated Twilight Zone movie.
So Shatner thinks he’s seeing someone on the wing, while they are flying, trying to sabotage the plane. Every time he sees the person on the wing he shuts the curtain and tries to convince himself he’s not seeing what he thinks he’s seeing. He alerts the stewardess she looks and sees nothing. It’s after he alerts someone for the first time that it gets interesting.
The next time he looks out the person appears to be getting closer. My spidey sense is tingling but not enough to alert me to what is about to happen.
On a side note, this gremlin or person or whatever on the wing looked for all the world like they were wearing a kids winter coat from the Sears catalog, circa 1950. Again special effects budgets weren’t great back then. But that’s important because I took my eye off the ball. I was concentrating on getting a good look at the monster’s garb or “fur”. A move that would come back to haunt me, literally.
So about the time Shatner is losing his crap over all this he decides to go for one last look. And the moment of truth has arrived. He yanks open the curtain and sees this….
Well what the hell am I supposed to do with that? No idea but I was scared to the point of being speechless. I’ll tell you what, had that freaking cat hopped up on the chair at that moment he would have spent every one of his nine lives faster than an old lady working the slots in Atlantic City. My fear induced adrenaline rush would have ripped his head off before he could have got off even one “Meo…”
To his credit, Pumpkin never moved. Part of that is because he was ninety gazillion years old and part because he really was a smug little prick. I know he’s long since departed and all but let’s just have a little truth telling shall we. That cat looked down on me from the jump.
But now I’m stuck. It might as well be nine miles from the Barco to the bedroom. Not to mention this haunted house is covered with windows. Only the living room has blinds. How am I supposed to keep from looking out into the darkness on my way up the stairs?
I need a plan, I need the floor plan. I need to devise a path and a sequence in which I can turn off the lights behind me as I make my way up. However, in order to do that the lights need to be on, all of them. I need options.
So the house is lit up like a beacon and it’s about 12:30 in the am. Then the phone rings.
Who the world is calling me 12:30 in the morning with all this going on? Luckily the phone is right next to me. It’s Tracy, and it sounds like she may have a margarita or two on board.
Wow, my skin is crawling just looking at that picture while I’m typing and it’s 2:30 in the afternoon.
Anyway Tracy and I are talking and she asks what I’m doing. I tell her what I’m watching and there is a very long pause.
Then she says, “All the lights in my house are on aren’t they?” Hey what can I tell you, the woman knows me. I hear a little laughter in the background and I know full well I’ve just given “the girls” something to talk about for the next few minutes.
Can’t worry about a bunch of hens cackling over my trauma though, I still have to get upstairs.
The rest is fuzzy to me. Clearly I made it upstairs, I just can’t recall the sequence of lights.
Probably should have written it down.
All I know is windows and darkness are not a good combo. You just never know when a kid in a matted down Sears fur coat and a horrifically bad hair cut will be staring back at you.
Ultimately, as the saying goes, I’m not afraid of the dark, I’m just afraid of what’s in it.