That Pink, Wavy, Elongated Tongue

Beech House: 1982

Eyes open automatically. 2:30 in the morning. 

That tongue; that pink…wavy…elongated tongue.

At any moment, as I pushed my head deeper into the hood blanket, I knew that tongue would creep its way between the sliver of the open curtain that hung steadily over the living room window.  To everyone else, the patterned providers of security guaranteed privacy from the outside world. But at night…when everybody finally gave in to the darkness outside and after the deafening silence of rebirth had settled in, that pink, wavy, elongated tongue would eventually reveal the man behind it.

It all began one evening when mom yelled across the room “Es satanas!” as she feverishly crocheted yet another completed square onto the growing quilt.

“What are you doing?”, my brother complained after I snapped his concentration from what was playing out on television.

“I’m trying to keep the porch light out” I grumbled, “it keeps shining in my eyes; I can’t sleep.”

Mom continued her rant, “Mira que fueo el Diablo!” as she knitted together her words of fear and spread them throughout the room.

The truth was, I had seen the devil that night. He had long platform boots that resembled a dragon straight out of hell.

That night, and every other night after, no matter how hard I tried, a sliver from the curtain would eventually find its way back to the default position. A long, thinly shaped triangle would slip in and out of sight and allow the porch light in. The anxiety and fear of what was behind those draped vertical folds only heightened after I had gone to bed and a wayward draft would create a succession of waves that set the stage for what I fought so hard to avoid.

Sometimes, in the height of summer, the linen fabric shades would appear as overgrown tendrils of murky moss that quietly held the heavy, recycled air emitted from the swamp cooler.  As the dank smell of mold rose from the ground like dry ice. No matter what the season, as the night wore on and the tension built, the late night concert was sure to begin.

At any moment those tendrils would open up and reveal an active world of ongoing performances that ranged from slick 80s hair bands to dark shadows conspiring to find a way into the safety of my bed.  My imagination (my runaway imagination) had already joined the shower of beaming light the moment I woke up.

I was nine years old, it was 2:30 in the morning and I was trying my hardest to avoid Gene Simmons’ signature tongue waiting for me on the other side of the window.

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