Saturday, January 20, 2018

Things That Go Bump in the Night

LB Johnson wrote a humorous missive about scary movies and what not to do should you find yourself in a classic horror film situation.  For instance, should your car stall out on a two lane blacktop in the middle of rural American, the first thing you should do is split up.  Have the girl stay with the car while the guy goes out to find some fuel.

Maybe I read that wrong.  Well, you can read all about it here, in Saturday Smiles - Scary Movie Time by LB Johnson.  It's an easy read, and entertaining.

This put me in mind of a true story, something that happened to me when I was around 6 or 7 years old.

It was Friday night, and my parents were headed out to visit some friends for the evening.  Mrs. Johnson, Larry Johnson's mother, came over to babysit me and make sure that I went to bed before midnight, and that I didn't set the drapes on fire or flood the bathroom floor.

As you can see from the photo below, we lived a little way off the beaten track. By all the standards of the day, we really didn't have next door neighbors, which Dad liked.

Our Home, as Seen from the Driveway

So Mrs. Johnson came over around 6:00 PM, and pretty soon it got dark, and we were watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents on TV.  That's when Mrs. Johnson started to get nervous.

Our home had large windows in front and in back, and poor old Mrs. Johnson got the idea that someone might come along and look in the windows.  This progressed to some thing peering in the windows.  Then she wanted to close the drapes.

The trouble was that the drapes didn't really work.  They were seldom used, and always hung open as we, the residents, liked to see outside.  I tried to explain that there wasn't anything out there in the woods, and no one ever came back here (which was truth - the neighbors were afraid of my father), and so there was nothing to worry about.

Mrs. Johnson insisted. I finally gave in.

I tried closing the drapes, and managed to get the mechanism in the drapery rod stuck at the halfway point.  When I attempted to fix it, I got the cord knotted up, then something broke loose and the drapes refused to budge.  Fortunately for me, I know better than to really lean on the drapery cord.  I'd tried that once, and my father happened to see me and corrected my behavior rather sharply.  As in, "What the hell are you doing?"

"Trying to close the drapes."

"Well, don't pull on it like that.  You'll pull the whole goddamned thing down."

I believed him, and one thing I did not want to have to explain is just how the whole bad word thing ended up on the floor.

Mrs. Johnson managed to make it through the night, but I suppose it wasn't easy for her.  As for me, Mom wanted to know what I'd been up to with the drapes the night before, and when I explained about Mrs. Johnson and something looking in the window, as best any seven year old could explain the neurotic behavior of an otherwise completely sane and reliable adult, I was forced to repeat it several times.

Mom was amazed. Dad got a laugh out of it.

The drapes never really got fixed. Mom managed to get them back open, and that's the way they stayed until Mom got rid of them entirely some years later.

And the thing that Mrs. Johnson was so afraid of?  It showed up a few nights later, peeked in the living room window, and my father got his pistol and ran it off.  A monster is no match for a model 1911.

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