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Flashback Friday: Things that go knock in the night

In honor of Halloween, today's Flashback Friday is a spooky tale of terror and danger. Well, kind of. Not a lot of scary things have happened to me in my life, for which I am grateful, but it certainly would have made for a more haunting Flashback Friday.

I considered telling you about the time when I was 13 or 14, watching Lady in White at night, at home, by myself. Why I was doing that, I have no idea. But I got to the part in the movie where we're finding out who the bad guy is, and it's an extremely tense moment, if you know what I mean, which is that I was cowering in fear on the couch. So I paused the VHS tape, picked up the phone, and called my brother Blair, who was out with friends. I just needed to hear another human voice besides the psychopath killer's voice coming from my television. I talked to Blair for a few minutes, started feeling a little better, hung up the phone, took a deep breath, and then was scared out of my wits when THE VIDEO SUDDENLY STARTED PLAYING AGAIN at the absolute scariest scene of the movie, complete with a loud soundtrack screech of violins. EEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(In case it's been a while since you've dealt with VHS, remember that most players automatically resumed play of the video after being paused for five minutes. I had completely forgotten about that fact at the crucial moment.)

But instead, I'm going to tell you about the time I spent a whole night shivering with fear in my bed, sincerely believing there was a crazy person lurking just outside my window, waiting to do me harm.

There was a precedent for my belief, you see. A few years earlier, when I was 11 or 12, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of heavy, stomping footsteps running up our front porch, which was right outside my bedroom window. The footsteps weren't the scariest part, either - the thing that really terrified me was the voices yelling, "Where did he go? Where did he go? Did we get him?"

Even in my shocked-out-of-sleep state, I could understand the situation well enough to realize that first of all, there was someone running around the neighborhood who was being pursued by the police, and second of all, they hadn't found him yet but had reason to believe he may have run up our front porch.

That all ended in nothing (note to self: ask my mom how that all ended, because I really can't remember beyond going up to sleep in my parents' room for the rest of the night), which brings us to a few years later when I was 17 or so.

I was sleeping peacefully in that same bedroom by the front porch, minding my own business, when suddenly, at about 2am, somebody knocked on my window. If I had been in the habit of sneaking out, or if friends commonly announced their presence by knocking on my window, it might not have been so terrifying. As it was, however, I was absolutely petrified. I had no idea who it could be, or what they could want, and as much as it would have scared me, I was kind of hoping to hear the police in pursuit again so at least I knew that whoever it was would soon be chased away.

No police showed up, though, and so I was left to my own devices. Apparently, in my scared, sleepy state, those "devices" consisted of...staying in my bed, putting the covers over my head, and not sleeping a wink for the rest of the night. I think there was a little bit of that childhood "if I can't see them, they can't see me" principle at work.

To this day, I have no idea why I didn't get up and do something - anything! I could have called the police, or made a mad dash for my parents' bedroom to tell them about it. At the very least, I could have looked out the window to see who - or what - was there.

And you know what? If I had done that - if I had just taken the time to look out the window - here is what I would have seen:

That's my 1987 Honda Accord, affectionately named Roberto Hondita Benigni, with a huge inflatable Blue's Clues chair saran-wrapped to the top. The person who knocked on my window in the middle of the night was part of this shenanigan, and had no idea of the terrible night he caused me until I told him, though I think he got a good laugh out of it for a few years to come. Especially the part where I hid under my covers for the whole night, paralyzed with fear, instead of doing the sensible thing and figuring out what was going on.

I took that giant red chair with me to college, but sadly, during my sophomore year, it developed a hole that no patch could fix. At least I have this picture to remind me of the scariest night of my life.

If you want to read some other spooky stories for Halloween, go here.

NaBloPoMo, I am doing it

Disgruntled & cosmopolitan