“Look in the Closet” is a true story, which I’ve shared around the campfire with scouts and young women, at 5th grade camp when our cabin was safely tucked in their bunk beds, and with my own kids while gathered together in the living room. I do access my audience before telling my tale, as I don’t want to traumatize anyone. This is your warning, if you don’t like a scary story, then stop reading now. There’s no violence or boogie men, or I wouldn’t be able to listen. Are you ready? Let’s begin.
My dad, Roger, was a child in the 1920’s, and grew up on a farm in Bowling Green, Ohio. One night when he was about eight years old, his mother, Dollie, began the nightly routine of putting him in bed. I don’t imagine it was much different from today, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, a drink of water, prayers, perhaps a bedtime story and a kiss goodnight. Next comes the stalling tactics and the fears to overcome.
“Look behind the door”, my dad said to his mother. She dutifully looked, and reported nothing there.
“What’s in the corner?” he asked. “Just a pile of clothes on a chair”, she responded.
“Look in the closet.” Roger sat up in his bed to look inside, as she opened the closet door.
“Nothing in here but your clothes and shoes,” she observed.
“Look under the bed.” His mother got down on her hands and knees and peered under the bed. “I don’t believe it! You look under there!” she exclaimed.
Roger looked under the bed, and then he and his mother both took off running downstairs. His dad, Dwight, quickly went back upstairs to retrieve their baby from the crib in the room.
There was a lady under my dad’s bed! That’s right, some strange lady was under my dad’s bed. (It’s okay if you just now let out a little exclamation of your own.)
Back in those days, you didn’t lock your doors. A woman with a mental disability of some sort had wandered away from her home and into my dad’s. She was probably more terrified than my dad’s family. I never did hear how they got her out from under the bed, or determined where she belonged.
It was several years before my dad would sleep upstairs again. Who could blame the little guy?
I remember a Twilight Zone episode where you floated into some unknown space if you fell under a little girls bed. These two stories were enough to scare me. I was always afraid someone would grab my foot when I stepped out of bed. I slept in the middle of my bed, and was careful to keep my feet covered, as if a sheet was going to save me. When it was time to arise, I’d leap across the room to be sure I was out of reach of those nonexistent hands.
I did outgrow those fears over time, so I’m okay now. As I reveal my past feelings, though, I’m thinking it’s a good thing Jeff won’t fit under our bed, or he may try to play a joke on me. That would not end well, for either of us.