Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Tapping at the window.

When I was a kid, I was traumatized by the TV miniseries production of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot." Watching it in recent years, it didn't have quite the same effect, but in 1970-something, it left me huddling under the covers every night, sweating, barely breathing, clutching a cross and listening to every noise, as my rational mind argued with my fear.

And I promised myself one thing I never would do: If anyone came to my window in the middle of the night and tapped or scratched, I would not let them in. In fact, I wouldn't even pull aside the curtain to see who it was. Didn't want to fall under some hypnotic spell.

And then ...

Thirty-some years later, it's sometime around midnight, and there's a tapping at the window.

I tell myself as I go to the window, "Didn't you swear you'd never do this?"

I pull aside the curtain, and my 19-year-old son is on the other side of the glass. He's been out with friends, and has a midnight curfew. He's gesturing toward the front of the house.

"Can you open the door for me? I left my keys on the table."

Behind him, a car is backing out of the driveway. A friend has dropped him off. I think I'll tell him to sleep on the bench on the front porch. I'll let him in when the sun rises. After the sun rises, actually.

But no, I know better now. I'm not a kid any more. I know there are real horrors in the night, and my son is not one of them.

I go to the front door and open it.

He leans in to hug me and apologize for disturbing me and say thank you, and I feel the teeth in my throat.

Tap, tap, tap.

(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons
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