October 19, 2005

Bump in the Night

Bane posted an account of a visitation from the beyond this morning, not a nice, sweet, fuzzy-bunny visitation full of rainbows and flowers, but the full-on "evil-dripping Nazgul standing by the bedside" variety. It creeped me out, and since the dearth of THC in my system is forcing my memory to function like the good Lord intended it to - dammit - I was immediately dragged backwards through time to relive a similar, though somewhat less personal, experience.

In the late eighties, I dated a starving artist. Well, let me rephrase that, since I dated starving artists until I developed a penchant for asshole lawyers in the mid-nineties... In the late eighties, I dated a particularly talented artist who, while renowned in our area for his skilled handiwork, had yet to hit the bigtime and was therefore severely economically challenged. At the time, both of us resided in something of an enclave for such artsy-fartsy types, so the actual starving part rarely happened, but the conditions in which we dwelt could, from time to time, verge on third-world.

Rene, my boyfriend (not his real name, but one that reflects both his French heritage and general armpit-tang) was lucky enough to have attracted the attention of a local artist who had hit the bigtime, mostly in video-production of the rockstar variety. Mr. Video owned a sprawling old Victorian home in our town, a home which had been standing since before the War Between the States. As with many such homes, around the perimeter of its modern-day property line stood a barn and a number of old slave cabins. Mr. Video, eager to Support The Arts in any way that he could, rented these structures to like-minded individuals for a monthly pittance, either as studio space or actual living quarters.

Although I didn't actually live with Rene - I've never cohabitated with a man to whom I was not married - I spent virtually every night with him for a period of some eight months. During the first seven-and-a-half months, Rene lived in one of the old slave cabins. I'd like to tell you that the cabin had been refurbished, but that would be a lie; yes, there was indoor plumbing, but that was about it. Original raw-wood walls, no insulation. Ditto with the floors - and watch your ass for splinters if you have to pad it barefoot to the potty in the middle of the night. No stove. No heat. No air-conditioning. Four electric sockets in total, and anything stronger than a space heater or reading light would blow the fuck out of the fuses. Dark and damp and dank on the inside, we froze in the winter and baked in the summer. So, when the offer came from Mr. Video for Rene to move on up to the de-luxe apartment in the sky - the barn - Rene jumped on it, and I helped him pack his boxes with a song on my lips.

The barn, believe it or not, was much nicer than the slave-quarters had been. Mr. Video had actually used that barn for production at one point, and therefore had poured a decent handful of cash into its renovation. It was insulated. It had a gas heater. It had a stove and an oven and a dishwasher and all kinds of first-world trappings that made Rene feel as if he had arrived. Plus, it was downright cool-looking, inside and out - it had character. To enter the place, you walked through a giant wooden barn door that had been set on rollers (for easy slide-back) and into a big open space with polished floors and a high, vaulted ceiling. On the right-hand end of the open space was a snug living area, equipped with a spiral staircase that led up to a loft, perfect for a bedroom. On the left-hand end of the barn were a kitchen and modern bath, and set above the bath was a storage room. Now, there was no access to the storage room from the bath-and-kitchen side of the house; the only way into or out of that room was via a catwalk, precariously hung from the ceiling-vault. The catwalk led from the storage room door, cut in the raw wall high above the kitchen, across the open area of the barn and into the bedroom-cum-loft at the other side.

Rene's first weeks in the barn he spent alone. I had been whisked out of that rathole lifestyle by my parents and taken to Tahiti for two weeks, my yearly bribe, please come home and act normal! While I lolled on a beach in Bora Bora, fending off offers of oral service by beefy, underdressed Polynesian men, Rene spent his days settling himself in the barn and basking in the joys of things like a gas heater and hot water. Not fair, no, but there it is.

My first night back in America I spent in my own bohemian dump, sleeping off a godawful jet-lag. The next day, chipper and tanned, I went to Rene's to see what progress he'd made in the move. Excited at his elevated status, Rene gave me the fitty-cent tour of the place, even coaxing me out onto the catwalk to see the storage room. I'm not afraid of heights, but I don't actively seek them, either, especially when the catwalk that supported our entire combined weight was swaying and squeaking on its chains every time I took a step. Finally, I crossed the damn thing for a quick peer in the storage room, just to shut his Froggy trap so I could go downstairs, sit by the fire, tell him about my trip, and smoke a bowl.

When I got to the door, though, I found myself physically unable to enter the room, like a giant hand was dragging me backwards towards the bedroom loft. Cold air poured out that place, so cold it was almost visible, almost like a dry-ice effect. Someone had painted the interior of the room black, and towards the back, in orange day-glo paint, someone had spray-painted a pentagram enclosed in a circle. Now, I wasn't the most pious and devout Queenie you could have wished for back in those days, but even I knew that the storage room was someplace that I most adamantly did not want to be. Despite Rene's teasing protests, I hot-footed my skinny ass back across the catwalk and down the spiral staircase, to the comfort of the gas heater and the weed-bag. Fuck that. Unh-unh.

That night, Rene welcomed me home in a most intimate fashion. He'd cooked for me, and we'd eaten that meal and drunk that good red wine together, lying naked in front of the fireplace. We'd rutted ourselves silly, until the full moon rose high in the night sky, finally stumbling up the staircase and into the deepest slumber. That was a good sleep, a happy sleep...until about three o'clock in the morning.

I woke to the sound of a door opening. I shook myself, groggily, not quite sure for a moment where I was. After a second, still certain that I'd heard a door open, I woke Rene. We sat still in the bed and looked at each other in the moonlight, straining our ears. Nothing. A short while later, we laid back down, turned over, and tried to regain sleep.

Not two minutes had elapsed before I heard a strange squeaking clank. I knew what it was in a heartbeat; it was the same noise the catwalk had made when we crossed it earlier in the evening, to view the storage room. I sat up in bed, and so did Rene, who'd heard it as well.

We both stood up out of bed, and peered down the catwalk. The door to the storage room, which closed from the outside with a simple throw-bolt, was hanging open, a gaping black maw in the wall opposite us. I shuddered as I remembered, vividly, watching Rene's hand throw that bolt earlier in the evening. The catwalk was swaying, gently, as if someone were coming across it, right into the loft where we lay. I shook my head again, trying to clear my vision, because I was certain, dead certain, that there was something on that catwalk.

I could see it.

Rather, I could see the absence of it, an outline of total blackness like the depths of space, thrown into relief by the ambient light from the moon, the streetlights outside, the embers of our fire. I could almost hear it breathing...and I knew for sure and certain that it was coming for me. Petrified, I reached out, snapped on the light, and simultaneously, something from the deepest recesses of my brain, something from the lizard-level programming of my extremely religious upbringing made me scream out, "in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord, I bid you BACK!"

In the light - the broad light from the bedside lamp - Rene and I watched the storage room door slam shut. Freezing air whooshed out at us. The catwalk still swayed.

I got the fuck up out of the wet-spot I'd just made in Rene's bed, and began to dress as he sputtered incoherently in French. I howled at him to get his clothes, let's get the hell out of here, and he complied, leaping out of his own wet-spot and scurrying towards the door.

That was the last night I ever spent in that barn. Rene, however, became wrapped up in silly phrases like "logical explanation" and "paranormal phenomenon", and while he told the story the same way I did, he had no desire to move out. That barn was his pride and joy, and he was by-God keeping it. He convinced himself we'd shared some sort of consensual hallucination, something in the wine, something in the weed, and then he began to nourish a not-so-secret hope that whatever it was would come back, so that he could "talk" to it. And, believe it or not, our breakup was due in large part to the fact that I refused to set foot in that fucking house of evil ever, ever again. Queenie may not be the brightest bulb on the porch, but I ain't stupid.

Now. Laugh at me all you want...but every word of the above is the naked, unvarnished truth.

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio...

Posted by Queenie at October 19, 2005 09:32 PM | TrackBack

Don't doubt a syllable of it. Seen and heard enough of similar stuff.

But seriously, so FREAKIN well told, as usual.

Posted by: wavemaker at October 19, 2005 10:39 PM

Just Damn! Double Damn!

Posted by: Dax Montana at October 19, 2005 11:31 PM

My house is dark, right now. Prayer has occurred. Loose things, dark of intent, flutter about outside.

I am pushed, reluctantly, towards belief...

Maybe it is just the wind.

I still cannot move that damn soap dish from where it fell.

Maybe tomorrow.

Posted by: Bane at October 20, 2005 03:06 AM

Okay, I am some terrorized.

It is three hours or so from Dark Time. I do not have the stamina to stay awake, and I do not know what to do.

I beg for prayer. Consider me sane, and know what I face.

The wind moans outside.

I can do nothing, I am nothing, of myself.

God Bless me.

Posted by: Bane at October 20, 2005 03:21 AM

Jeez Queeenie, you made the hair stand up on the back of my neck and gave the crawlies just like I got when I watched the "exorcist" sober.

You do not mess with the Devil.

Posted by: hoosierboy at October 20, 2005 11:30 AM

Nope, laughing I'm not. Thankfully it is broad daylight where I am right now.

Posted by: Desert Cat at October 20, 2005 11:36 AM

Great Googly-Moogly. I think I just crapped myself.

Posted by: Elisson at October 20, 2005 02:16 PM

Horatio At The Catwalk. Nice.

Posted by: zonker at October 20, 2005 03:21 PM

Having 'been there, and done that', all of my body hairs hurt now from standing up so hard.

You had me stirring at the image of you on the beach, and then you shriveled the shit out of it, thank you so much.

I strive, but if only I could write as well as you, I could die a happy man. Put a little more meat on it's bones, and you have a sellable story, here.

Posted by: Bane at October 20, 2005 03:54 PM

So, did Rene end up getting eaten by it or what?

Posted by: Sigivald at October 20, 2005 04:38 PM


Posted by: Sam at October 20, 2005 05:39 PM

How soon after this experience did you feel the tug of the Holy Spirit pulling you back towards salvation?

Posted by: Big Cat at October 21, 2005 02:17 PM

.. the black ones are called Wraiths, I think...

Posted by: Eric at October 21, 2005 08:42 PM

Rene--Nazgul chow. I really DON'T want to know the details of what became of him.

Posted by: Desert Cat at October 21, 2005 08:48 PM

Yowza!!! Excuse me while I shit in my pants.

Posted by: Jim - PRS at October 22, 2005 02:47 AM

Rene wanted it to come back? What happened to Rene is his problem and his choice. Glad to see Queenie had more sense because I doubt the survival of any who invite such evil into their lives. I have seen the queen of battles and she is a spiteful bitch who celebrates death.

Posted by: Alnot at October 22, 2005 06:02 PM

Awestruck. Great story tellin', sister. Now, wraiths I can run from, but if a pair of floating eyes came at me I'd be a paralytic, drooling basketcase. You know, the kind that always die at the beginning of B horror flicks.

Posted by: Sunshine Coyote at October 22, 2005 06:42 PM

I think, were I a spook, I'd want to be a pair of floating, drooling testicles.

Maybe that's just me...

Posted by: Bane at October 22, 2005 09:42 PM

Jesus Palomino, I'm at work in a sanitized, modern office building and I've got chills running up my spine. As a kid, I was raised in a holy-roller enviroment in La. and saw some weird shit happen in the church (casting out demons). Til this day, demon movies scare the shit out of me.
Whew! On a lighter note. Enjoyed reading your posts for Rob. You're a hoot! I wish I had hit your blog sooner, now I'll have to catch up.


Posted by: Lee at October 24, 2005 07:58 AM
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