The boys won’t sleep. Neither of them. The whining would begin the moment the doorframe came into view. The banshee wails began as the child was held over the prison crib walls.
We attempted a reset. Turned on all the lights. Ran around the big room for a bit, then tucked the back into bed. No go. The moment the lights went out again, the screams intensified – to those desperate pathetic hiccupping sobs.
There was only one plausible explanation. The boogieman has taken up residence in the boys’ room.
How appropriate for Friday the 13.
And his primary haunting purpose is to prevent me from sleeping. (Have you ever had two toddlers in a king bed? Nobody sleeps. Nobody. “STOP KICKING YOUR BROTHER! Head-butting your mommy is not nice! How do someones so little take up So. Much. Space?!”)
Was he dancing in the shadows of the stars shining from the ceiling lights? Is the tiger mural that watches over them coming to life? Oh my god – I have an entirely new view of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. The tiger comes to life? Poor Calvin must have been TERRIFIED!
Do you believe in ghosts?
Her name was Agnes.
My high school didn’t have a theatre. We had a cafetorium. (During the school day the place served pizza that had to be blotted and drained thoroughly before becoming editable. I ate a lot of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups for lunch.)
Legend has it she was once on the set team, had climbed a rickety scaffolding tower, and misjudged counter-swaying techniques. She fell. Her neck was broken. Her classmates mourned the loss of their peer. But she never left the Bob Hope Student Center.
Agnes haunted the theatre. In memoriam, a shrine was erected to her in the rafters – beyond the gobos and circuit switches.
And prior to every theatrical curtain, Agnes was thanked and remembered in the cast and crew show prayer. (She’d get cranky and hide things if you forgot her. You know the unpredictable temperament of high school girls – see Moaning Myrtle.)
My junior year I was ruling the roost as a stage manager. Tech week hit, and I was sent toward the storage closet to retrieve new gels for a newly inspiring lighting design. The trapdoor to the attic rafters wasn’t latched.
So I climbed the ladder. I got hit by a gust of icy air.
That was weird. There shouldn’t be any air flow in that particular attic. Leaving the door open, I ventured further into the open enclave. It was empty, but for the bits and bobs of old equipment and litter left behind by teenagers creeping across the lighting shaft to visit the shrine.
Lying against the doorframe to the crawlspace was a discarded light bulb (old-school standard household style – I was in high school long before the CFL revolution). I thought nothing of it and headed back toward the opening. I swung my leg out over the opening, preparing to climb back down the ladder.
With one glance back at the room behind me, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
The light bulb was airborne. It arced halfway across the span of the room before shattering into a million tiny glass pieces, which then rained down upon the plywood flooring like angry confetti.
I. Was. Spooked.
There was no time to descend a ladder rung by rung. I flung myself down into the piles of costumes and props cluttering the closet.
“Agnes. Lightbulb. Boom. Gone.” I gasped to my set guys who were cracking up, pointing back up toward the ongoing supernatural activities. Their eyes went wide and the three of us booked it out of that storage closet like a toddlers who’d just been threatened with naptime.
I think we thanked Agnes before each performance, each act, and just in case – each scene, that season.
I do believe in spooks! I do. I do. I do.
Dear Hobbes, please don’t eat my children. (Psst. Get back to me in a couple days if we’re all still negative on the sleep over/under spread.)