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