Glitter Ball on a Lonesome Road

It was a hot August night, and my little family was headed home from a party at a friends lake house way out in the country.   We left much later than we should have and started the long drive home.  The trees lining the road were so tall, when you looked up, only a ribbon of stars was visible.  Our drive was fun and we laughed and sang with the radio to our son as he cooed and babbled from the back seat.  I joked about seeing Bigfoot, we live in the Pacific Northwest, the land of Bigfoot, serial killers and the occasional UFO.

The road stretched into the darkness with only our headlights to guide us.  It was oppressively dark and we hadn’t seen lights or signs of life for a few miles.  When we saw the brilliance of a glitter ball in the distant tree line, it took us by surprise. Such a strange and surreal sight, hanging in the trees.  Once, on a camping trip we chose a secluded campsite so our noise wouldn’t disturb anyone.  What a surprise to be woke in the night by a spectacular Pride rave raging through the night.  The rave was in a campsite about half a mile down the road and it was quite a spectacle.  So, the idea of a glitter ball hanging in the woods was not out of the question.

Even so, how often do you see a thing like that?  We had to see it up close, and the closer we got the more uneasy I felt.  Something was wrong.  I mean really wrong, and then came the realization.  For us to see it hanging in the trees so far away, it had to be enormous.  As we approached we could see it floating above the trees, glittering and spinning silently in the dark.  It flashed brilliant colors like a light source was shining directly on it, and yet there was no light.  At first I thought it was the size of the Seattle’s Post Intelligencers globe, but it was much, much bigger.  I was overcome with terror, awe, and a strange sense of violation.  Except, I felt like we interrupted It.

It was something we should never have seen.

We drove away as fast as possible.  No matter how fast and far we drove it stayed with us.  It shot streams of bright light into the darkness like feelers, as it skimmed over the trees just above us.  Whatever interest we had turned to fear and loathing and the drive felt endless.  It kept pace with us for what felt like an eternity and we started to think it might be inescapable.  Finally, it spun away into the night.  It was a huge relief when we merged onto the highway, leaving it behind us.

A giant beam of light hadn’t tried to suck us into the orb.  There was no time loss or disorientation.  We thought we’d escaped safely.

The next morning I went to the car looking for something.  The roof of the car had been scorched in several places.  Not dramatically, but definitely marked.  I couldn’t breath for a moment and once again I was terrified.  What could it mean, could “It” or “They” find us?  I went into the house and told my husband what had happened. 

Who could we talk to?  Who would believe us?  I really needed and explanation.  I spent days watching videos of UFO footage on YouTube.  I know, not the most creditable source of information, but it was all I had to work with.  How could someone hoax the thing we saw in the woods?  Why would anyone do that?  I finally found a video of the orb hanging in the sky above a city in Brazil.  It was exactly like the one we’d seen in the woods.

I thought we would be safe at home, because, the thought of that thing hovering over our house was absurd.  In the video footage, however, the orb had been hovering above a city.  Maybe, it was looking for someone.  I hated to think that might be the case.  So I tried not to think about it.

I had to talk to someone else because I was losing my mind.  I finally told a close friend.  She listened quietly, and in turn, she told me her story.  When she was 16 her family lived in the country, a few miles from everything.  One night bright lights appeared in the nearby woods.   When the flashing streaks of light came close to her house, it woke her.  She couldn’t move.  She couldn’t call for help, her mind went blank with terror, and she blacked out.  It happened more than once, but she didn’t know how often.  She didn’t think anyone would believe her, so she put it behind her and never spoke about it to anyone.  Until I told her my story.

Time flew and we did our best to resume life as if nothing had happened.  It was a lovely warm evening at the end of May, and we had dined outside. The sunset was gorgeous and you could almost hear the sun sizzling as it hit the ocean.  Everything felt good and right, until I woke in the early morning hours to the flashing lights.  A storm had developed overnight, and wind and rain lashed at our house.  Thunder and lightning banged and flashed in the sky, but was not the source of the flashing lights.   “It” had arrived cloaked in the storm.  I was paralyzed by fear, or maybe something else.  I couldn’t make a sound, and I struggled to move.  I couldn’t turn my head to look at my husband but I suspected he was in the same state.  I must have blacked out.  When I woke I ran to our son. He was safe in his crib, perfect and beautiful, sleeping like an angel. 

So, “It” had found us. 

Years have passed and nothing has occurred since that night, nothing we can remember. Nothing we want to remember.  Would it matter if we could?  Whoever or whatever they are they came a great distance to their purpose.

All things considered, I’d rather not know.

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He Was a Nice Man

In the summer of 79’ my brother and I made a friend.  He was a homeless man who took up residence under the small bridge near our house.  He was very kind and looked a little like an old steamboat captain, or maybe a department store Santa Clause.  We brought him food and little things we thought he could use.   He was lonely, so we hung around with him and played cards, sometimes, we’d climb down the embankment under the bridge and look for treasure along the shoreline.  Some days we just sat under the bridge in the heat of summer and watched the boats out in the bay.

I can see how a parent might have cause for concern.  I do, but, he really wasn’t a threat.  He was tragic, a lost and broken soul, alone in the world.  Looking back, he was probably a war Vet, or maybe he struggled with mental illness.  Whatever he suffered from, he was only ever kind to us and he was concerned about our unsupervised activities.  Unlike any other adult in our life, he worried at the way we came and went at all hours.

Our freedom was actually about escape.  Our home life wasn’t easy so we looked for kindness elsewhere.  We felt isolated from people, because we often lived like gypsies.  My brother and I found secret places to feel safe in.  Places like an old overgrown cherry tree we used as a fort or the dilapidated garage we made into our clubhouse.

Finding friends was important to us, we craved the warmth and stability other families seem to have.  We lived vicariously through our friends, spending as much time as we could with their families.  We tried only to be at home when absolutely necessary.  Our stepfather was always too ill to be bothered, and our mother was either completely unaware of us or, she would aggressively parent us.  We could never trust her after she put our puppy, Barney, down for chewing a pair of shoes.  She treated us more like pets than children.

At some point during that summer she became aware of our comings and goings.  We were seen sneaking home late one evening by a neighbor and she complained to our mother.  Neither of us told her about the man under the bridge, but she found out.  She was angry with us, because she thought we made her look bad and she was embarrassed.  She told us to stop visiting him.  We didn’t listen because no matter what we did the outcome was inevitably the same. So, we did as we pleased.  She would either forget the whole thing, or react with shocking violence.  It never occurred to me her anger would reach beyond us.

The sirens cut through the early morning air and startled me awake.  I ran downstairs and found my brother pulling on his cloths.  We went outside and got as close as possible to the tragic scene.  Our friend was dead.  His bedding and all his worldly possessions were lying in a wet heap on the sidewalk with tendrils of smoke drifting upwards into the gray morning sky.  Sometime in the early hours he had burned to death in his little bed.  The firemen said he’d fallen asleep with a cigarette in his hand and lit the mattress on fire.  We just stared at the ground.  We knew he didn’t smoke.

I’ve heard it said the easiest person to murder is a junkie.  I guess that applies to the homeless as well.  No one looks beyond the obvious, but we knew.  As we walked back to the house hand in hand, she came out onto the lawn, wrapped tightly in her robe, and watched us with a sickening triumphant smile.  Her smile, that was never really a smile.       

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An Unhealthy Attachment

By profession I am a vintage dealer with a focus on interior design.  After years of picking and selling in flea markets I’ve decided on a new direction.  I want to create interesting and luxuriant interiors with the strange and beautiful things I find.  I currently sell online because I have no showroom.  I use my home as a small, carefully curated gallery, in which I rotate an ever-changing collection of objet d’art and greater pieces.

Sometimes I wonder how many of the objects I’ve collected have a dark history, or more worrying, an unwelcome attachment.  I don’t believe in the possession of inanimate objects.  However, I believe in surviving energy attaching itself to objects or locations.  Several cultures believe in this phenomenon and volumes have been written on the topic.  Books and movies inspired by Annabelle and Robert the doll motivate me to consider the possibilities.

Not long ago I found an interesting little pottery statuette, a disturbing creature with strangely varied skin texture, horns and a fist protruding from its forehead.  It was so interesting, I decided to keep it for awhile. 

When the knocking sounds started, to my relief, the whole family heard the noises.  At first it sounded like someone knocking quietly at the door, and then the sound came from the kitchen walls.  I hoped it was a small animal that found its way into our house, so, I went to the attic and checked for signs of critters but there was none.  I was very careful, when climbing down from the attic, to fit the ceiling panel carefully back into place.  The next morning the panel was askew and lifted partially from its frame.   It felt too much like a Captain Howdy scenario, like something from the Exorcist.

It was such a creepy situation, I burned sage throughout the house, lit white candles to disperse negativity, and doused the statuette in holy water.  I can’t guess what will happen next, but I can’t sell it to anyone, not now.   

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The Guy in the Chair

We had just moved into our new house and one night, while doing laundry in the basement, someone knocked sharply at the back door.  I ran up the stairs and opened the door wondering who would walk to the back of the house and knock.  It was weird.  Looking into the darkness from the porch to the yard, I could see there was no one out there.  I wondered how they’d gone so quickly.  As I started to close the door something shoved it back into my face.  I pushed it shut and locked it, but too late. 

Something unseen and uninvited had slipped past me. 

As time passed little things began to bother me, the feeling of being watched,  small things went missing.  I started to think there was someone sitting in an armchair in the living room.  I would walk into the room and see him from the corner of my eye.  When I knew I was alone in the house, I often heard footsteps above me from my basement sewing room.  A slow halting gait would drift downstairs.  I wanted it to be one of our cats, but I knew it wasn’t. 

I had the whole day to myself and I was really looking forward to being alone.   Except I wasn’t alone, because the guy in the chair was there.  I could never see him straight on, he was just an impression, a dark shape in the chair.  I still can’t see him, I don’t want to.  Did he come with the house?   Was it him at the door, or does he protect us from something far more sinister.  Maybe he’s attached to one of us and that’s why he’s still here. Sitting forever, in the chair no one sits in.

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Small Grave Markers

I was so late getting home one night I sneaked through the back yard of an old mansion.  It was on the edge of an ancient enclosed park.  As I crept through the twisted undergrowth, along the old stone fence, I tripped over a tiny headstone buried in the weeds.  It was too dark to read and I guessed I was in a little pet cemetery.  I kept moving forward and found a few more.  I was wondering about the people who buried their pets so lovingly, when the soft crying of a child startled me.  I called quietly, “Hello, are you alright?”  There was no answer, but the first cry was followed by the soft wail of an infant.  Whatever was happening, it was all wrong and I wanted out.  I ran until I was free of the yard and on the street.  I stopped under a streetlight and looked back into the darkness, but there was nothing there. I’m not sure what I expected to see.

The next evening I decided to sneak back and see what I had been walking through the night before.  Very quietly I crept back into the garden along the fence and found the little headstones.  The little ovals on the grave markers were portraits of children.