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Monday, March 1, 2010

MONSTER IN THE CLOSET

When I was a child I was afraid of everything. I believed that there was a skeleton under my bed. Therefore whenever I had to get up in the night it required that I stand up in my bed and leap as far away as I could, so the skeleton couldn’t reach its boney hand out and grab my ankle and pull me under the bed to some unforeseen, horrible doom.

Just as real was the monster in my closet, with fur and red glowing eyes and the vampires outside my bedroom window just waiting for me to let them in to suck the blood from my neck and make me one of them. This was way before the days of Ann Rice where being a vampire was a fashion statement.

To top it off were the cheap “B” movies of the era where spider like things from outer space could attach themselves to your spinal cord and although you appeared to be normal they’d taken over your life and things that looked like part of the rock mountain you were climbing, that would reach out and wrap their rock like arms around you while you were navigating a narrow uphill trail. I’d seen all these things while sitting in the back of our station wagon at the drive in movie during the previews on dollar night. Somehow it made them worse just catching those terrible glimpses of things rather than seeing the whole silly, stupid movie. “Frozen in terror! Paralyzed with fear!” were by words you always heard in the previews for those cheesy “B” type films, but I’d never experienced any of those feelings in reality.

I was sure that if Dracula or some other kind of horrible monster were chasing me I could run like the wind and get away from it. I wouldn’t be like those silly pointed breasted women with those cone shaped bras, who ran away from monsters in stiletto heels and pencil skirts pausing every twenty feet to look back and make sure the monster was still chasing them and then if they got too far ahead of the monster they’d fall down and allow it to catch up to them. I would be much smarter than they were.
Then there was that handsome and incredibly pretty Kevin McCarthy and those “Pod People” and God only knows “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” I worried about that one for years after seeing the broken doll face in a preview at the drive in movie along with the squeal of the tires and that shrill scream. “Mama what happened to baby Jane?” I asked. “Nothing, be quiet and go back to sleep.” she said. I knew something had happened to “Baby Jane” or there wouldn’t have been all that fuss, but I didn’t find out what happened to her until I was in my twenties.

Then there was “Physco” after the cartoons were over and the cartoon hot dogs, popcorn, candy and soft drinks, danced their way off the screen I was bored to tears, so I fell asleep, but for some reason when Vera Miles went into the basement to confront Norman’s mother and she spun that wheel chair around to see that empty eye socket mummy and screamed causing the single over head light bulb swing to back and forth accompanied by those shrieking violins. I was suddenly wide awake and upright in the back seat of our 1960 Corvair to see what happened. That scene has played over and over again in my mind a million times to this very day. Shit a Monkey! Therefore it became my nightly ritual before going to bed of making sure my closet doors were closed, the space underneath my bed was empty, and I always lay in bed on my back with the covers tucked underneath my chin and over my shoulders, I figured I had all the bases covered. The “rules” were that if the closet doors were closed no monsters could get out. If I slept on my back the spider things couldn’t attach themselves to my spinal cord and if the bedroom windows were closed a vampire couldn’t get in. Even if he did I would wake up as he tried to pull the covers from around my neck to suck my blood and I could run, or scream for help, so I was as safe as I could be.

In 1967 when we lived in Germany. I realized one night after I’d gone to bed that I had to have a permission slip signed and some money to go on a field trip the next day. It was one of the few times in our lives that my brother and I had separate bedrooms. Knowing that my mother wasn’t good at remembering such things. I got out of bed and walked into the living room where both my parents were reading to remind them that I not only needed money for the next day, but a signed permission slip as well. They told me to go back to bed and they would take care of it in the morning. I realized that my mother didn’t always have the money in her purse for such things and I was worried. I kept on making her promise me that she would have the money the next day. I didn’t want any embarrassing moments when I had to explain to the teacher that I didn’t have my money, or the signed permission slip. Such things didn’t seem to faze my mother they just weren’t important to her and when at the last minute before going to school I had to nag her I got a hate filled lecture while she was digging through her purse for change all the while telling me that she was having a hard time paying the rent, the car payment, or the electric bill. There were many mornings that I left for school crying and at the age of seven because I was sure that the thirty five cents I’d asked for was going to be the reason our car was repossessed, or it would be my fault because the electricity had been cut off. I had to be a horrible, selfish, little boy to ask for something as frivolous as lunch money. That night she told me, “Go back to bed and leave me alone, I’ll do it in the morning”. I didn’t like it, I didn’t believe her. It would be hell in the morning, another battle, another scene, and I dreaded it.

I went back to bed, crawled under the covers and tucked myself in with my nightly ritual of sheet tucking. It also included a ritual scan of the room every few minutes to make sure nothing had changed until I finally fell asleep. As I scanned the room I noticed that my closet door was slightly ajar. That just couldn’t be! The door was tightly closed when I’d made my nightly check of the room. Not only was it ajar, but it was open about an inch. This bothered me a lot, but I was too scared to get up and shut it again, so I decided I was just being silly and would just have to go to sleep with it open. After closing my eyes and trying to go to sleep I did my second scan of the room. This time the door was opened at least two inches. This couldn’t be happening! I was sure it had only been opened an inch seconds before, so my eyes were transfixed on that door and as I watched the opening grew even wider. Two inches, three inches, four inches, slowly it was opening before my terrified eyes as I watched in horror waiting to see the red glowing eyes looking at me from inside my closet. I wanted to scream, to run, to leap out of bed and get out of that room, but my body was made of lead. I was “Frozen in terror! Paralyzed with fear! “I couldn’t move, scream, or yell for help. After what seemed like an eternity it took every ounce of energy I could muster to get my body which felt like it weighed a thousand pounds out of that bed and into the living room. Even then all I could manage to do was stand there in my underwear and do a sort of jumping jack motion with no sound coming out of my mouth. My parents looked at me like I’d just landed from a space ship, lost my mind, or was having some kind of epileptic fit their mouths open and eyes wide. Just then my brother walked out of my room in his underwear laughing. Then my parent’s having realized something had happened involving him scaring the holy shit out of me started laughing too. I was so pissed off all I wanted to do was pulverize the little shit. Since everyone else in the house was laughing all I could do was pretend it was mildly amusing to me and go back to bed. I can assure it was visions of a long drawn out murder that danced in my head that night.
“Vision’s Of Sugar Plumbs” didn’t have a fucking thing to do with it.

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