So, after a lovely Tilapia dinner, The Cook – oops – Kitchen Manager – no, make that Soon-To-Be-Revealed Self-Named Story-Teller, told me his earliest memory.
It was a memory that’s haunted him his whole life (and he’s even older than me, so you know that’s a whole lotta life to be haunted), and I really felt kind of sorry for the poor guy. When I think of some of the things that frightened me as a child, I sometimes feel just as afraid as when I was little…
I don’t know if I’ve got his “voice” down properly – hopefully, I’ll get some more stories out of him, so I can practice. When he gets going, he tends to speak loudly, and during several parts of this story, he would start to have an accent. I’ve begun to figure out when he’s a little upset by whether he has an accent or not. Which is kind of cool. Makes me want to piss him off, so I can hear the accent.
Okay, maybe that’s not so cool. Maybe that’s just a little mean. I’m such a little shit-disturber, sometimes. Ahem…*
Him: When I was little – maybe about four or five – we lived in an apartment that was across the parking lot of a funeral home. It didn’t bother me, at first, because I didn’t know what a funeral home was, but I remember I always had weird stuff happen there.
Me: What kind of weird stuff?
Him: In my bedroom. In the middle of the night. Weird stuff, man!
Me: What kind of weird stuff? “Funeral Home” kind of weird stuff?
Him: Yeah! Sort of. People used to come out of my closet.
Me: What kind of people?
Him: Dead people; that’s what kind of people. Geez! I lived across from a funeral home!
[I laughed. Couldn’t help it.]
Him: Why are you laughing?! That’s not funny; it scared the shit outta me! I was just a little kid!
Me: I’m sorry… Okay, so was this nightmare full of, like, zombies, all rotted and gushy or-
Him: NO!! And it wasn’t a nightmare! It was like, almost every night, and they were dead people! Dead. People. Coming out of my closet, and into my room!
Me: How do you know they were dead people? For that matter, how do you know they weren’t nightmares? You know, like the same scary dream when you’re a kid, because you’re stressing out, but you’re a kid, so you don’t know what stress is, and it comes out in repetitive dreams?
Him: What are you, a shrink?! Are you telling me I’m nuts?
Me (laughing again – see? Shit-disturber.): NO! I’m just saying maybe they were dreams.
Him: One: I was not sleeping; I was awake. Therefore, I was not dreaming. Two: I know they were dead, because I could see through them.
Him: Yeah. If you can see through them, they’re spirits, and they’re dead.
Him: Ghosts. Yeah.
Me: And you stopped seeing the ghosts after you moved away?
Him: Whose story is this, Girl?
Me: Sorry. I’ll shut up.
Him: Thank you. So, every night, almost, these ghost-people would come out of my closet and scare the shit out of me. They didn’t jump out and yell, “Boo!” or anything, but they’d look at me. And they’d wander around the room, and after awhile they’d sort of just…. go away. Fade away, or just disappear or something.
But it was always different people. It’s not like I had one ghost or the same couple ghosts haunting my room every night. Every night, it was different dead people, and they were always dressed up like they were going to a dance. The women were always in fancy dresses, with their jewelry on, and the men were always in nice suits and ties, but it was always different people. Different dead people. Brrrr!
I think I coulda got used to it, if it was the same people all the time, but different people made it worse. Damn!
[Very, very, very, long pause….]
Him: And, what?
Me: And, then what? Need an ending, here. Do you still have dead people coming out of your closet, or what?!
Him: No! That stopped after we moved.
Me: Like I said…
Him: Yeah, yeah. But, I started dreaming about that a few years ago, and every now and again I dream about those dead people wandering around my room, and looking at me, and I’m like, four or five years old again, but not really, and it still scares me. Kind of gives me a creepy feeling for a few hours every morning after I have that dream.
Me: Yeah, that is a little creepy.
Him: But then, worse, a few nights ago, I had that dream, and you know how you wake up after a bad dream, and it kind of sticks with you while you get up, and you’re trying to wake up and get ready for the day? Well, I was in the shower, thinking about that dream, when I realized, looking back on that room I slept in, that those dead people weren’t coming out of the closet at all! The closet was on a different wall! They were coming through the window!
[Pause… as if he’s expecting a reaction from me.]
Me: And that’s… worse…?
Him: Yes, it’s worse! They were coming out of that funeral home! And right through the window-glass, into my room! Geez!
Me: Why is that worse?
Him: ‘Why is that worse?! ‘Why’?! Are you serious?!
Me: I don’t understand why it’s worse that they were coming through the window-glass than if they were coming through the closet door. What’s the difference?
Him: What do you mean ‘what’s the difference’?! The difference is that I could deal with them coming through the closet door and just hanging out in my room! Every little kid that ever lived has monsters in their closet! It scared me, but I could deal with it. Once I figured out they were coming out of the damn funeral home, walking all the way across the parking lot and then coming into my room, I knew they were after me! I’m lucky I survived! ‘What’s the difference?’ Damn, I don’t believe you said that.
[Okay, so then I laughed again. I shouldn’t have laughed, because I’m pretty sure he was seriously freaked out about the whole thing, and laughing was just mean. I couldn’t help it; it was funny as hell.]
Me: Okay… Ahem…* What do you want to call yourself?
Him: What? Call myself? What?
Me: On the blog? When I write your story… how do you want me to refer to you?
Him, with no hesitation whatsoever: As The Victim! I want you to refer to me as The Victim! Geez!
And, so, “The Victim” he shall be called, at least in this space, now and forever more.
Random Song-for-the-Day: “Hayfield Crooning” – The Wild Turkeys