‘Are ya scared?’
My lady and I were taking our 5 and 7 year old grandsons for a walk, just up the hill, in our suburban neighborhood a few years ago.
There was a wooded glen, just off the main road.
I noticed the youngest was looking around and every once in a while quickly behind himself, eyes bulging.
‘Are ya scared?’
‘No stupid, we’re in town.’
A lota times their conversation was like two old men, one grumpy.
Made me chuckle, as we had told them about ‘the deep dark woods’.
Another time, we took them to a park in Portland, an arboretum.
With visions of playground equipment, slides, swings, and merry-go-round, the youngest kept asking, ‘When are we going to the park?’
at the park!’
Their conversation, killer, always.
They would spend the night, and watch scary movies till they were frozen to their chairs, couldn’t even go pee.
Not the youngest so much, but the eldest, he loved to be scared.
One time we were watching PeeWee’s Big Adventure, and when large Marge did her sudden change over to monster Marge, he shot outta his chair like he was catapulted from a gigantic spring, landing in namaw’s lap six feet away.
He loved for me to tell scary stories when we sat out on the deck on a summer night.
‘Tell me another one, papaw.’
One time I told one so scary,……with eerie glowing eyes on the TV, even when it was off, and then in the window, piercing the dark,…… that he asked me to stop. I could tell that he was torn, but his terror won out.
how just a hint of the presence of something sinister is far scarier than a full description of some drooling, toothsome ogre monster.
When I was about four or five, we lived out in the country.
A sparsely populated neighborhood tucked back in the Chapman hills about twenty miles outta Scappoose.
Our place, and gramma’s place, atop the hill, was separated by five acres of strawberries carved out of a thicket of fir trees.
Ever so often I’d stay at gramma’s on a summer evening.
She made good pancakes….and the folks were going out.
One time I waited too long at home. There was just too much cowboy’n to do, and I’d lost track of time.
It was already twilight, and I had several hundred yards up the hill thru a couple clumps of trees to negotiate.
As I trudged thru the first glade of trees, I thought about eyes staring at me.
I’d seen lots of bear sign in my tiny travels, and some bobcat and cougar scat here and there. So, plenty to consider.
(Actually, years later, coming from town one evening, we pulled into the garage, and a big cat jumped down from the rafters and fled into the night. We just saw body and tail, but it was, without a doubt, a full grown cougar.)
Whistling seemed to rid the noises of the stillness in the dark regions of my petrified mind.
A generous moon lengthened shadows, turning stumps into animals of prey, licking their lips, fixated on my dashing form, like Tag would when I showed him the stick I was about to throw.
Ever so often I'd give a quick glance back, but the glaring, glowing eyes that were obviously there would mysteriously disappear.
The clearing, the path, the 300 yard dash.
Breathing came in gasps and pants…or was that the breath of the galloping cougar that was about to sink his teeth into my neck any minute, and tear my puny body to shreds.
The folks will wonder in the morning, ‘Where’s Gary?’
Then, days later, they’ll find bits of Oshkosh b’goshes, right at gramma’s door, and shreds of poop stained fruit of the looms, and the brim of my straw cowboy hat, the hat part that once housed my furrowed little noggin now several miles away in a steaming mound of mountain lion poopoo.
The clump of trees loomed ahead, separating me and gramma, good ol’ pillowy armed gramma…..even good ol’ grumpy grampa.
I heard something shriek, or was it a howl…I don’t recall my feet touching the ground over the last few yards thru their back yard thicket.
I do recall gramma, and her audible laughter, her high pitched teehee, as I hung my coat in the utility wash room of the back porch.
Apparently my countenance that morphed from bug eyed terror to smiling relief in the time space of flipping a light switch sorta tickled her.
The pancakes were extra good that next morning.