The Night Watchman

Контент 16+  I was always a night guy. Did my best thinking in those heart attack hours of the deepest gloom when the good things went to sleep and the bad things woke up. I guess it's because when I was a child I was afraid of the dark. We lived in a big white ramshackle house at the bottom of a dead-end street in the hills of Charleston West Virgina, and that three-story house overlooked deep woods that sloped away to the gargoyle-filled valley below. These monsters were held in check by the daylight, but at night they were free to roam,, and they knew where my bedroom was.

Because of my fear, I was given a little plug-in night-light, but all it did was cast a blue glow around its borders and send slivers of night-gleam into the shrouds of the open closet where all my clothes were hanging. This brought them to life in a macabre way, and my knowing that they were only clothes did not keep them from becoming a row of people who had been hanged and were now dancing again on the scaffold.

My grandfather was what was known as a 'ham' or amateur radio operator, meaning that with his equipment he could talk to people all over the world. He worked for the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company, but the radio thing was his hobby, actually kind of an obsessive hobby. I remember him sitting hunched in his workroom, barking his call numbers over the microphone: "W8HRO", and his name, which was Keith ("King Easy Ida Tear Henry!!". But to connect with the far-away world back in 1957, he needed an antenna as high and strong as a bald eagle's beak, and so he built a tall tower upside the house, a very 'towering' tower that ran vertically up to and way above my bedroom window. This tower could be climbed by someone who was nimble and not afraid of heights, , and I can remember "King Easy Ida" mounting it and strapping himself to the top with a safety belt, then fooling with that precious antenna. It seems to me that kids remember their granddads for stuff like that, and it's as it should be.
But at night when I slept alone in my room (Grandpa and Grandma quartered downstairs, presumably so they could fuck without me hearing them (or whatever grown-ups did back then before video games were invented) -- after hours, when the stones of darkness gathered outside the window, I could hear footsteps rising from the base of that tower, and I knew the bogeyman was coming to get me, coming with his Halloween laughter that meant butchery and death, and the fluttering, slithering ghouls in the closet, hiding and squirming among the robes and long sleeves, were waiting to join in and pounce. In those stark zero hours, I would sometimes rush out of bed and lock myself in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet-seat until daylight, too ashamed to cry out, too scared to move.
Those early days of my life also brought the nightmare. I was sent to bed at a certain hour, gently but rigorously, yet I had insomnia. I would sit up in bed, making a circle of my legs, and play games -- football, boxing, wrestling, with my hands and fingers. When my grandmother came upstairs to check on me, I would pretend to be asleep, but she always seemed to know that I wasn't. "Get to sleep!" she would demand, almost accusingly. Even then, I wanted to scream, "How in the god-damned hell can I MAKE myself fall asleep?" But I would just keep my eyes closed until she went away.

When I, at last, managed to drop off, I sometimes found myself in an empty city. In this abandoned place there were broken warehouses and gray, dungeon-like alleys. No one there at all, except me. Why was I cast into this purgatory, even in a dream? But someone, or something, was watching me and beginning to move in. I would run, try to hide, darting from alley to alley. But the Force always knew where I was, and it would track me into the last grim place of execution. Wild terror would rip through my brain and heart. And then that Evil was on me, the Man with the Blank Eyes. It happened a number of times, and I would always wake up after a frantic escape attempt which had seen me at last concede, accepting Death, even rushing into His arms...

One time I had to go to the dentist to have two abscessed teeth removed. They did it under general anesthetic, and in those days there was no needle -- only ether. Or chloroform. It was the only way. On that hideous morning, they wheeled me in on a gurney and held me down. I tried to get away, but those people in the white coats were far too strong...and then they clamped the mask down over my face, that sickening, nauseating chloroform mask. Fighting death, I disappeared down a deep tunnel of darkness. From the distance, I felt something like hammers vaguely beating down on me.

Finally, I woke up to a great sickness in the recovery room.
They had brought me back to life, but they had killed me first. Zombies in the city, ghouls in the closet, the medicine men in white coats. They showed me with their grins what night is. The Men with the Blank Eyes.
I don't know why it was like that for me, why a skinny little kid like me had to be so full of terror. I really do not believe it was that way for the other children. Maybe that's why they thought I was odd.

Only much later did I learn that the night also had pleasures to give, and when I found that out, I put on my best Mr. Hyde suit, grabbed a bottle of rum, and went looking for the action. As I said, I was always a night guy. And there are many kinds of vampires -- some deadly, some more or less harmless.-- I guess I was a pleasure-seeking vampire. When I was young, I saw the night meet the dawn on many occasions. Some when monstrously drunk, some in the arms of a woman, some after inventing poetry which, though now long forgotten, back then issued from whatever god or gods, had lived with me through the circles of darkness and where, having long-awaited the bogeyman, I now went looking for him...

===Eric Richard Leroy===

One thought on “The Night Watchman”

  1. Child memories are always the brightest and only with time you understand that you should be more afraid of people then of the dark. But really even now sometimes I find myself carefully packing my legs in the blanket not to be eaten by monsters))

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