I am an only child who was often left alone during the formative years. It was a mutually beneficial situation for both my parents and myself: they got away from being parents and I got away from being parented. This often had unforeseen consequences. This is a tale of one of those consequences.
One chilly winter day when I was around seven, my parents went out shopping on a Saturday and left me gloriously alone. Our home had only one TV and as we did not have cable, we only had about five stations. Since I was the low creation on the totem pole, the TV was never turned towards the channels I wanted, unless I was home alone. I had untold hours unfolding before me and I wasn’t about to waste a single moment!
I opened up the TV guide to see what choices I had. To my delight there was a movie on that very afternoon entitled “Dogs.” It was categorized as a “thriller.” Dogs are indeed thrilling, I thought observantly to myself. I settled onto the couch and the program began.
All was well for the first twenty minutes. There was some kind of dog show going on with lots of prancing and cavorting. I saw many friendly slobbers. Ribbons were awarded and there was rejoicing in the land. This is a great movie, I thought.
That was about the time when one of the dogs ripped its owner’s throat out.
For the next hour and a half I watched, in that curious zone between absolute terror and an insatiable desire to know everything, while human after human was being torn apart by their canine companions. The worst scene was one where a dog attacked its owner while they were in the shower. Oh that most vulnerable of positions!
Unfortunately, my parents arrived home before I could see the conclusion to this epic tale of horror. I quickly turned the TV off and tried to “act casual”. My parents, not being as stupid as I perceived them to be, immediately picked up on Something Being Wrong.
Them: What did you do?
Me: Who me? What? Nothing! I’ve just been sitting here…. Hum de hum….
Them: What did you do?
Clearly I was being put through the wringer and I immediately burst into tears and confessed the entire episode. My dad, struggling not to laugh, said in exasperation, “Don’t you know that the word ‘thriller’ means scary?”
The entire day I was on edge. Every small sound was magnified in my skull as being DANGERDANGERDANDRUFF. When it was time for bed I was completely exhausted and yet mind-numbingly awake. I lay in the darkness of my bed, quivering with my ninja-like reflexes in case of anything.
Hours passed and it was time for my parents to go to bed. I felt reassured hearing the soft murmurs of their voices and the quiet sounds as they made their way up the stairs and into their bedroom. I began to relax, for what could possibly attack me when they were upstairs? Nothing! I was safe. The newfound silence of the house enticed me to close my eyes.
My bedroom door creaked open.
In the dark half-light of the hallway I could just make out a shape pushing open my door. It was about three feet off the ground and very dark. My ninja-like reflexes rose to the occasion by petrifying my entire body.
“WOOF!” The shape said.
I screamed. I screamed for my dad, my mom, God, and the Smurfs. I screamed so much one would think I was the only person not being Raptured. I screamed until my voice gave out.
The silence from my screaming was not so silent as it was filled with… laughter? The dark shape was laughing.
I broke free of my paralysis and reached over to my nightstand and flipped on the lamp. There in the illuminating gloom of that single bulb, I saw what the dark shape was. Or more accurately, who that dark shape was: my mother.