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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dropping Off. By John von Daler

                       Years later I read #Poe. All those black cats, evil eyes, swinging pendulums and furious maelströms brought my thoughts back to my own little experience of #terror.






             The kitchen was on the east side of the house in front of a pantry with a side entrance, followed by a little bathroom that led into my room and finally to the screen porch in the back of the house to the south. The porch was where Mom and Dad entertained their guests in the summertime on those warm Oklahoma evenings with temperatures of thirty degrees or higher.

              I would lie on the bottom half of the bunk bed and try to sleep while the grown-ups played bridge and talked. Trying to sleep is not my specialty; I did not want to miss out on anything. So I heard the bidding and the kibbitzing and the discussions, the clinking of the ice-cubes in the gin and tonics and the munching and crunching of the snacks.

              Later, when they had tiptoed through my room and said their goodbyes in the front of the house I would try again to sleep. But even after the spectacle of the adults, I would be awake, now sweating underneath the blanket that I pulled up as high as possible as a shield against whatever evil spirits were flying around out in the hot, night air.

              As I sweated under the protective covering, I would stare at the sheets beside me. By this time they would be covered with the evidence of my own, restless presence: large, long wrinkles in the dark took the forms of reptiles and other night creatures. I would watch them in breathless quiet, scutinizing them for signs of movement, sensing that I was surrounded by evil.

               The minutes would seem endless as I lay under the covers watching those stationary folds in the cloth. I even perfected holding my breath, so that I would appear lifeless to any marauding beasts. But the wrinkles in the sheets lay even more still than I did. That was almost more ominous than any movement could have been.



              Finally, finally, after waiting motionlessly in silence, I would get up the nerve to yell "Mommy, Mommy, NINCKLES! NINCKLES!" My mother would come and flatten out the mysterious shapes on the bed and finally, finally I would fall asleep.

               It was with a certain kind of deja vu that I read Poe years later and recognized the dimensions of the terror in his mind and mine.

               Since then I have always patted away the wrinkles on the sheets of my children and grandchildren.


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