things that go bump in the night

October has always been my favorite month… it is my birthday month… Fall is in full bloom… the air is fresh, yet sprinkled with the smell of dead and decaying leaves. The warm fall sun is sprinkled among gun-metal grey days. When the sun shines, there is a sparkle… when the grey sky crowds in there is a dullness. As a child, I imagined the calendar began in October. The school year had started and in full swing by October. Holiday stickers of pumpkins, turkeys, and tiny Santas decorated classroom walls. My young mind just assumed the world revolved school calendars. To this day I visualize a semi-oval calendar with the fall months starting on the lower right side… all the other months fall in a counter-clockwise pattern. I have no idea why I have the calendar going counter-clockwise… but I do… October has the wonderful position of 4 o’clock.

October is also a scary month. All Hallow’s Eve incorporated pagan harvest and honoring the dead festivals… ghosts, goblins, and skeletons had to come from somewhere. Throw in some candy… mix thoroughly and you have a month rich in oranges, yellows, bone white… and bloody red. I was a fan of Halloween candy as a child… now I prefer a good bourbon and the sunny side to October… but I am still a big scaredy cat.

Speaking of being a scaredy cat, for the past 6 years I have lived in downtown DC. For those of you with geographical knowledge of DC, I owned a condo in Logan Circle, rented an apartment in Chinatown, and I know reside in a neighborhood a few blocks southwest of Dupont Circle. Logan Circle and Chinatown were notoriously loud. Police and ambulance sirens… drunken 20-somethings… revving cars and motorcycles. The constant background heartbeat sounds of a major metropolitan area. Living in the city mixed residential with commercial… abodes with major thoroughfares that throbbed like bloody veins. I learned to sleep with the background noise of city life. Phone conversations with friends and family always included some question from others asking if my building was on fire or if I was about to be arrested… I never understood their questions… I had grown use to the sounds.

Now I live on a quiet ivy covered street… my new apartment sits at the back of a 1910s brownstone… two floors providing a little hermit crab like existence with views of alleys and neighbors’ cars… it’s called “urbanscape.” The most noise I hear now is my three neighbors who pound the building’s stairwell with almost running feet. If I didn’t know better, I would assume that my neighbors are three big-footed teenagers. Besides pounding stair noises… my apartment is dead quiet… eerily dead quiet. I am in a state of constant wondering and fear… there is something unearthly to the quiet in my apartment.

For the first week I slept with my grandmother’s quilt pulled up to my chin as if it was a protective shield against the night creatures hunting me in my deathly quiet apartment. Night after night I lay there in my bed listening for the creaky noise of the blood sucker coming to render me undead. Grown men fears turned child-like… childish horrors revisited with a vengeance. Finally the horrible happened… a loud bang resounded in my downstairs living room. I was half asleep when the night creature made their presence known. I snapped awake… but knew better than to jump from my bed… I intended to lure the creature into confidence… I wanted the blood sucker to know that he had not given himself away. Better yet, and more realistically… I wanted the potential human burglar to think that they had not awakened me. In my heart I knew it wasn’t a human burglar… I knew it was a night creature.

Finally after a few minutes of silence… me not moving in my bed and the night creature frozen in mid-step below… I got up. With quick ninja like movements I jumped from my bed nekkid… with my nudeness dangling I retrieved my pistol from its hiding place and slowly crept to the staircase leading to the living room. Do you turn on lights and ruin your night vision… but illuminate the night creature? Do you keep it dark and hope that your night vision compares to the blood suckers? Questions moved through my head as I stepped down the stairs in a semi-combat pistol stance… old knowledge of identifying targets while moving crept back into my body and mind…. a quick scan of the living room revealed that no boogey man or burglar existed.

My apartment has new carpet… put in prior to my moving in… it has yet to settle and flatten. My golf clubs and golf bag sit in a corner of my living room… since I use them often I don’t waste time in putting them in closet. My golf bag had fallen over due to carpeting. No night creature… no boogey man… no burglar. I returned to bed relieved and convinced I had once again bested the quiet night.

Yet… I know… I know… the night creature waits for me to drop my guard. Grown-ass man or not… October is when the dead and the undead lurk and I am ready… I am nekkid and I am armed.

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