There are a number of contributing factors to this. Minor aches and pains, some plain old concerns, an over active imagination, and sometimes… I’m just my own worst enemy. Let’s suffice to say it’s a rare night when the monkeys in my head simply shut the hell up.
Over my sons Spring Break, my wife and I will let the reigns slip just a little on some things. Just like Summer Vacation. There’s no real set of rules and regulations that disappear. More like the fence on the corral expands one foot in all directions. So, it’s no surprise to see our son up a little later than is typical.
Being fine, fine American Parents, not only does television time go up a little, but I’ve also found that what I deem acceptable, mmm…. “wiggles” a little bit. But before you demonize me, keep in mind these are small changes and I know what he’s watching before he does it.
For instance… This week found his interest piqued by a show called, “Destination Truth”. Hey, what parent isn’t thrilled with this combination? Not only is my child interested in learning, but, if I’m not mistaken, the neighbor kids won’t get into this show at all. Do you know what that means? Quiet, quiet, quiet! Yay! The almost unknowable pleasure of a peaceful living room. Are you kidding me? I’ve no doubt there are afterworldly pleasures that await us when we leave here, but to not have to feel the crunch of strategically hidden Doritos under my feet as I walk through the front room… Sigh…(They hide them under the nap of the carpet lest they have to clean them up before escaping back to their underground lair 5 houses away.)They are two very individual children, as children are wont to be. (until they grow up and become grey like us that is) But I digress.
This show, this “Destination Truth” is at best formulaic and at worst… well… worse. Ostensibly, the leader and his band of truth seekers hop the globe in search of the truth that lies behind some of the greater known myths of our day. i.e. “The Jersey Devil”, etc, etc, etc… The events happen in the same sequence every episode. They are edited the same way every time. The “random” occurrences happen at the same point in every show and lastly, they save a metric ton of money, time and production effort by shooting 75 percent of the show in that stupid green “night vision” look. Blair Witch be damned.
I have seen this show and it’s got no chance of scaring anyone. It’s not even a proper ghost hunter show. My son and I have discussed this and we are in agreement. Simply not a spooky show.
Anyway, let’s call this day Thursday. My day is chock full of things both necessary and monumentally trivial. Some involve my son. Many do not. But that’s OK, because in a near blinding flash of prescience, I’ve recorded like 5 of these “Destination Truth” episodes on the DVR for just such an occasion.
I’m sorry, what’s that you say? Excuse me? Oh…you’re saying, “Surely, he didn’t let his 8 year old watch that much television, did he? And I say, “Let me ask you this… Can the Catholic church swing some damage control? Seriously. Can the current administrations health plan…nevermind. In short, yes, of course I did. In my defense, it’s not like they’re two hour episodes.
Stop judging me or I’ll cry.
Where were we? Oh, yeah. So the day has followed it’s path and it’s now getting on bed-time. The standard battle ensues, dwindling down slowly and painfully to the increasingly lame, “Oh, yeah. I forgot, I’m thirsty. I’m going to get a glass of water.” Then, of course, he leaves it on the kitchen counter so he can come out to it a number of times. Standard threats ensue, corresponding blood pressure levels are achieved and the night ends with, hugs, kisses, prayers and “love you big man, sleep good”.
The house breathes.
The wife breathes.
I now start to channel flip in earnest. Oh, yeah. Those juicy grown up shows are now open for perusal.
What shall it be?
The adult animation? No… Death by re-run.
I know…. The sardonic wit of Gregory House. Nah, I just feel like smacking him tonight. Pompous idiot.
The “other” adult animation? Nope. Just can’t seem to re-kindle the interest there.
Hmmm…… What to do?
Ding! The DVR! How could I have forgotten God’s gift to the couch potato? After smacking myself, I massage the appropriate buttons in blinding speed. (Texters tremble before me!) And in no time at all I’m paging through my menu of personally chosen shows put back for just such a time. It’s like “canning” entertainment.
Hmm, what to watch…the full length drama? Nah, there’s just not enough of me left for that this evening. (and I hate watching a movie in two sittings) The rock concert at Wembley Stadium? Nope. Too late to “rock out”.
Anyway, to make a long story short, what fit the bill that night? You guessed it. Destination Truth.
Hindsight being as acute as it is, I couldn’t help later reflect on the fact that two hours ago I didn’t have it in me to watch a two hour movie, opting instead for two full hour episodes of video cattle food.
My wife and I are now giving in for the evening. I’ve had enough, she’s had enough and it’s going to feel really good to sleep. There are tossings and turnings. Mumbled epithets of undying love which we’re both sure we’ll demonstrate so much better after a few hours of sleep. The “did you let the dogs in? And did you lock the front door?” questions.
We sleep. It’s good.
Something flickers in my mind. Something changes. There is no dream to speak of. One of the predictable “startling moments” from Destination Truth pops into my head. I acknowledge the moment and give a silent chuckle and slip back down.
Something changes. Have you ever felt that? In the night when everything is just fine the air in your room changes? Or moves different? Or sounds different. Sometimes you can’t even say what it is but you know something’s not the way it was?
My eyes pop open. I give a quick scan of the room and the parts of the house that I can see. Nothing. I’m an idiot. I must have had too much iced tea before calling it a night. It’s made me jittery.
An image pops into my mind. In one of the Destination Truth shows, there was a grotesque image of some “demon thing” behind a store counter. It had nothing to do with the show but it was pretty creepy. Very detailed. That makes me wonder, “Well… If people have been sighting “monster X” for almost a hundred years, then the likelihood of something actually being out there is probably pretty good. Surely not a “monster”, but perhaps some tortured animal eking out a living the best it can. But surely not a monster. A monster would…
I can feel it just like I’ve felt it before. This is very distinct. A presence. There is something in the room. Instantly I am terrified. I have faced down a couple scary things in my life and have managed to come out the other side unscathed. But this is not normal. This is not an angry drunk at a gig. This is not the stupid kid that decides it’s a good idea to break into a house (does he have a gun or not?) This is not what I’ve encountered before.
My family. This, I know, is my job. I am the protector. I am the guardian. This is their home and I am the one that makes them feel safe. Regardless of any truths, I know I’ve blustered enough to make them (and me) believe that I am fearless in the protection of my clan.
Are you kidding me?
Saying silent goodbyes, I know what I have to do. I sit upright in bed. Look to the left. Nothing. Look to the right. Nothing. I start to exhale. Something moves. At the foot of the bed. Everything in me clenches as tight as a board. There it is. Just standing there staring. Unmoving. I can feel the otherworldliness emanating from it. It does not belong to this realm. There’s a very real chance that I’ve seen my last sun. I have to protect my family. Preparing to combat an unknown, my first action is to lean forward menacingly.
“Maybe it can be intimidated”. I think.
I lean forward, “What!” I say in an angry hiss. It doesn’t move.
It’s just a silhouette, rounded head and sloped shoulders. It is not outwardly frightened. This is not good. I’m going to have to actually do battle with this thing. What has happened that my life has turned upside down in the space of a few hours. Everything that I’d dreamed of and hope for about to vanish like I was never there. It’s not fair. It’s not right! I’m getting angry thinking about it. Good. Anger. I’m letting it push out the fear and it’s good. I’m ready. Someone somewhere will know this battle happened and will at least say I was ferocious in the protection of my loved ones. I start to advance toward the figure in an almost white hot rage. How dare this… Thing come into my home like a thief while my family lies helpless, I’m going rip this thing apart a piece at a time! There is almost no “me” left as I sit up fully and start to move forward. The air in the room thickens in anticipation of the mayhem about to ensue. I reach forward. The monster says,
“… Can I sleep with you guys?”
There is an old computer programmers axiom that goes, “Garbage in, Garbage out.”
I’ll leave you all with that thought.