I want to share something with you. It is something I haven't spoken of in years. But It is an event that even after all of the years that have separated me from it, and with all the more traumatic events which have happened since. This one event still haunts me. It is in that intimidating place that all of us know. It is that dark and fearful place that exists somewhere in between the time we are fully asleep, and half awake. So come join me as I take you back to simpler times, and an event that still haunts' my dreams.
I was three perhaps four at the time the following story took place. I had a curiosity that was much larger than myself. It was an all-consuming type of curiosity. The type that only a child of that age can really achieve. I know that I had not started school yet, but it had been talked about. I lived in a very old house. Even at the time I was a young child, growing up it was very old. The house had been retrofit for electricity in the twenties. They did the oddest things back then. I have to assume it was to save on the cost of the wiring. The outlets were four feet off of the floor, in all the rooms of the original section of the house. This included the living room. The understanding of this comes into play later, but I won't go into it, at the moment. The house was a 'two bedroom' and I shared it with my parents, and seven brothers and sisters. I was the youngest of the five boys, but I did have a younger sister. At that time, she would have been two or three. As you can well imagine with ten people sharing a two-bedroom house, there was very little privacy. So, during the summer months, getting outside and away from each other was a key to our sanity. There was an acre of land that was with the house, so we didn't have to spend time in one another's lap if we didn't want to.
All of us who remember that part of our childhood, remember everything we saw. We 'discovered' everything and it was all new and wonderful. Being the next to the youngest had its advantages and disadvantages. The grown ups would tend to dote more over my younger sister and I, because we were the youngest. But since we were so much younger than the others, we were ignored by our siblings quite often. Today was no exception to that rule. Most of my brothers and sisters were off doing their own thing. My parents were in the kitchen, doing whatever it was that adults did. Even at that age, though, I understood that it included beer or alcohol of some type. This weekend my Aunt and Uncle were visiting which meant that my parents were even more occupied than normal. My sister, who was the baby of the family, was asleep in her crib. This left me to find my own forms of amusement. Even at that young of an age, I had become quite accomplished at finding ways to amuse myself.
On this particular weekend I was spending a warm summer day exploring all of the wonders and mysteries of our living room. There was always a certain wonder to watching the sparkling particles of dust drift through the sunshine's rays, blasting through the slats of the Venetian blinds. Of course even during my most occupied of times, I always stayed aware of where I was, in respect to '"the chair"'. There was nothing really remarkable about this chair. It wasn't an antique, or a family heirloom. It was just an old overstuffed chair, whose arms and seat were thread bare from use. There was probably one much like it in the furnishings of thousands of other low-income homes. There was only one thing that made this one chair any more remarkable than the ones in those other homes. This one had the distinction of being designated as. '"Dad's Chair"'. It always had the aroma of machine oil about it. Dad worked in a tool and die shop. Many times he had come home, tired from work, and had collapsed onto the chair before showering and changing clothes. So, machine oil from his clothes, transferred to the chair. Occasionally, metal filings found their way onto the chair, as well.
Please remember that I was only three or four at the time, and that my perspective of size has changed. Many of the things I thought were gigantic back then now look normal for an adult. Perhaps it was because of that youthful perspective, that 'the chair' looked so monstrously huge. To me, 'the chair' appeared to be over six feet tall, with arms that were nearly four feet wide apart.
As the day progressed I had grown weary of my normal diversions. I was no longer interested in chasing the dust particles in the sunlight, and I had already mounted a safari into the deepest darkest regions of the room. I had already discovered the mythical toys that always filled me with wonder, even though they were the same toys I had played with the last time I had explored that area of the room. However, since I had grown used to entertaining myself during the long summer days. It wasn't long before my attention was focused on something new. A shining object which had been in the room for quite some time, yet had never caught my attention before. It had my attention fully, now. The problem was it's close proximity to 'the chair'.
Even at my young age, I understood 'the chair' was completely taboo. We weren't allowed to sit in it, even when Dad was at work. Now 'the chair' had become an obstacle in my quest to attain that which I desired to attain.
The object of my focus was round, red, and glowing. It was attached to the wall, above the back of the chair. My mother had explained to me that it was a 'night-light'. But it wasn't night, and still it was lit. She may have even mentioned that I was to leave it alone, but that seemed distant and unimportant now.
Imagine, it was daytime, and still this thing was glowing. I was in a state near rapture. It was something new that I did not understand: a 'night-light' that also shone during the day. It now had my full attention and little else around me mattered any longer. I had discovered a new mystery perhaps this would be my greatest quest yet. After all how often does a 'night-light' shine during the day?
Even at that young age I needed to understand why and how things worked. I knew that I had to discover the mystery behind the night-light. I am not sure how long I stood staring at the glowing thing on the wall. I remember trying to figure out how I could get closer to it without touching '"Dad's chair'". The longer I stood there, the less important the taboo of the chair became. I had to discover how that night-light thing worked. But I also knew the dangers of getting caught in or on 'the chair'.
So I crept into the room that separated the living room from the kitchen. The adults we involved in a loud conversation and there was much laugher. Even though the conversation was beyond me, I could tell by the tone of it, that they would be occupied for a while. I walked back into the living room, being very careful not to touch any of the creaky boards in the floor. If I did, one of my parents might realize that I was in the house, and not outside with my brothers and sisters. I don't remember when I became aware of it, but I had known for quite some time that the house was off limits for us kids during the warm weekends, when my Dad was home. Of course that made my being in the house all that more exciting.
I stood in front of the chair for quite some time before reaching out tentatively with my hand to touch it. I fully expected that the moment my hand made contact with the seat of the chair, that he would somehow know, and the full 'wrath of Dad' would fall upon my head.
My need to reach the night-light thing was overpowering. It had a life of it's own, and I found I couldn't stop myself. My hand continued on as if by its own volition. Maybe hoping in my child's way that he would know. Then, if only for a few minutes, I would have his full attention instead of the can of beer he was intent on when I peeked into the kitchen.
The moment my hand made contact with the seat of the chair I felt my whole body tense. To make things worse, the moment my hand had contacted the seat of the chair, a loud bout of laughter drifted in from the kitchen. Although merely coincidence I was certain that this was 'the end'. I had imagined, on occasion, what would happen if I ever got the nerve to touch '"his chair'". So my young mind confused the laughter with the sound of the roof collapsing down upon my head. I closed my eyes tightly, and waited for the blow that 'would take me out of this world'. Which was my father's favorite phrase if someone dared to cross him. Amazingly, the blow never came. After waiting for what seemed an eternity, I opened my eyes, but just a slit. Then a little wider, then wider, then fully open. I found that nothing had changed. I took a deep breath and tried to relax.
I cringed when a loud noise came from the kitchen, again. This time it took me only an moment to realize that what I had mistaken for the roof collapsing in on me, was only laughter. Looking back on this now, I have to wonder what would have been thought of me if I had been found standing in front of my Dad's chair, rigid as a board with my eyes squeezed tightly shut. What would have happened if someone had touched me at that instant in time? Well, to get back to the story.
I was finally able to convince myself that the world was not going to come to an immediate cataclysmic end, because I had 'touched "Dad's chair'". But to be certain I reached out and touched it again, and then again. Feeling much more sure of myself, I slowly began climbing onto the seat of the chair. I was still making sure that there was little or no noise coming from the kitchen, while I slowly moved. Every time the voices in the kitchen got louder I froze, and waited for them to reach a normal level again.
When at last I reached the light, I felt as though hours had passed. I felt as exhausted as a man who had just climbed Mount Everest. Soon, however, being this close to the glowing thing that I had felt so drawn to made me forget all about how tired I felt. I also no longer gave any thought to getting caught. I didn't care anymore, now that my goal was now so very close. Standing against the back of the chair, and reaching with my hand, I touched the glowing thing. I found it to be pleasantly warm to the touch. Looking more closely, I noticed that it was stuck into one of the wall outlet things.
I must admit I knew little of their true function, then I did know that it was normally cords that got stuck into them. I am not sure what possessed me to do so, but I grabbed a hold of the 'night-light' thing with both hands and pulled with all my strength.
This it turned out, was a mistake. I had exerted far too much effort. The glowing light thing slid out of the wall easily, and for a second or two, I was overbalanced. I had to struggle to keep from tumbling out of the chair backwards. After regaining my balance, and recovering from the sudden fear of falling, I was overwhelmed with excitement. I now had in my possession 'the night-light that glowed during the day too'.
True Story /