Closet Goblins

October chills the air, and whistles eerie tales of ghosts and goblins.  It conjures up fears born in my early years, when my older brothers weaved outrageous stories to keep me out of their bedrooms. 

“See those stains on the wall?” 

My big brother crouched behind me with one hand on my shoulder, while parting the hanging clothes in his closet and pointing to the back wall.  My eyes strained in the darkness to see the spattering of brown drip-like markings before me. 

“That’s goblin blood,” he said.  “This is where they live.” 

My eyes bulged as I shrunk back.  I didn’t know what a goblin was, but I knew that I most certainly didn’t want to meet up with one.  I ran to my bedroom, vowing to never enter his room again.  Score one for big brother. 

It never occurred to my six-year-old mind that goblins could be living in our house.  

What if they got tired of my brother’s closet?  What if they moved into mine? 

It was bad enough that I didn’t like the dark of night.  Now there were goblins lurking in that darkness.  I began sleeping on my back with the covers drawn tightly to my chin.  If anything attacked me, I wanted to see it coming.  I prayed with new fervor each night.  

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

And if I die before I wake

I pray the Lord my soul to take 

Six-year-olds shouldn’t have to think about dying, but there I lay each night, wondering if I’d make it through the night. 

What if they find me dead in the morning?  How will I look? 

I wanted them to find me in a saintly manner somehow.  Yes, I was a religious little kid.  So I started lying on my back in bed, with my arms crossed over my chest. 

Yes, this is a holy posture.  Maybe it will even keep those goblins away. 

The streetlight outside my second-story window cast darting shadows of wind-blown tree branches across my bedroom walls.  They took on the forms of outstretched arms with long, razor-sharp fingernails.  They morphed into howling faces. 

Is that what goblins look like? 

I developed a terror of the dark.  I dreaded the night.  God forbid if I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom.  I’d get up and press my back against the wall with outstretched arms, and then slink my way toward the bathroom down the hall.  I had to cross the top of the staircase to get to the bathroom.  There was no wall to slide my back across that treacherous, open staircase.  I’d take a deep breath and leap to the wall beyond the stairs, where I could continue slinking along the wall to the bathroom.  I was one terrified little kid. 

Thanks a lot, bro. 

I didn’t remain an innocent victim, however.  I grew in a few years to be just like my big brothers … to my little brothers. 

One October night near Halloween, we were all huddled around the black-and-white TV in the basement playroom.  One of our favorite scary movies was on, “House on Haunted Hill.”  After it was over, we timidly made our ways to bed. 

I couldn’t sleep.  Visions of ghosts and murderous treachery raced through my mind.  I heard my younger brother snoring in the bed beside mine. 

How can he possibly be sleeping? 

Then, as if the wall shadow creatures had leapt into my mind, I came up with a fiendish plan.  I slowly crawled under my brother’s bed, ever so quietly, so as not to wake him.  His arm was hanging down over the far side of his bed, and I could see his hand dropping below the blanket’s edge.  I crept toward it, slowly, until I was so close that my breath could wake him … if I dared to breathe. 

“Gotcha!” I said as I fiercely grabbed his wrist. 

He let out a howl and leapt into the air, landing back on the mattress, as the springs below nearly pinned me to the floor. 

Years later, he told me that to this day, he never lets his arm hang over the side of the bed when he sleeps. 

Sibling-induced childhood fears … they can be like goblins.  You never really see them, but you’re convinced they are there … just waiting to pounce.

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One Response to “Closet Goblins”

  1. Don Jones Says:

    very funny and nostalgic

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