Right off the top of my tiny Duke head, I can come up with four or five instances when I’ve been so scared it felt like my central nervous system was cutting in and out. There were undoubtedly others; I’m not exactly Rambo, ya know? In any case, I’m going to quickly tell you about mine, and ask you to tell us about yours. How’s that sound? Good. Let’s go.
When I was a little kid, maybe six or seven, I had a dream that my parents went to a nightclub and the place burned to the ground. Dozens of people died, including my mom and dad. It was so vivid, I woke up fully freaked-out and inconsolable. In the dream I even went to their funeral with my grandparents. The whole thing was just horrifying. Even when I think about it today — what, 45 years later? — it gives me a full-body shiver. I’ve had plenty of bad dreams throughout my life, but that one was at a whole other level. It was nuanced and atmospheric, like it had been shot by a master cinematographer. Shit!
When I was a little older, but not much, we were camping at Myrtle Beach. Here, to be exact. And some kind of hell-storm came in off the ocean. Scared the living crap out of me…. Travel trailers were tipping over because of the wind, and awnings were snapping off and sailing through the air. The sky was terrifyingly dark, the water was churning and not at all amused, and anything that wasn’t strapped down was going airborne. My parents were running around trying to batten down the hatches, and my mother broke her foot during the chaos. I was convinced they’d be taken out by a lawn chair, or a six-pack cooler hurtling end-over-end. It was SCARY, almost apocalyptic. My brother and I were inside the camper, and it felt like something life-altering was about to happen at any second. Not a fan.
When I was 12, or thereabouts, I went to a cabin somewhere in West Virginia (who the hell knows?), owned by the grandparents of a friend. And the place was lousy with snakes. They were all over the ground, and climbing up the sides of buildings. They were hanging from the trees like Spanish moss (!!), and swimming in the creek — their evil snaky heads bobbing above the water. There was no letting your guard down in that place; my sphincter was like a bolt-cutter the entire time we were there. And then, as if the future nightmares weren’t secure enough, something even more horrifying happened. We were sitting at a picnic table eating lunch, when we heard a lot of wild screeching and whatnot. There was a tall pole in the yard, with a birdhouse at the top. Inside were baby birds, just losing their collective shit. Why? Because there was a big black snake climbing up the pole, circling up, up, up at a surprising speed. WTF, man?? My friend’s grandfather didn’t waste any time. He ran into the cabin, and grabbed a rifle. Then he stood at the edge of the patio, took aim, and shot the head off the snake. Its body just dropped in a heavy thud, and I think I just went and sat in the car for the rest of visit. Good god!
When I worked at Fas-Chek, a questionable (at best) now-defunct grocery store in Dunbar, a group of guys wearing masks and carrying shotguns came in one night and robbed the place. They made the cashiers lie face-down on the floor, and forced the manager to open the safe. On Fridays the store cashed payroll checks, and brought in a lot of cash the day before. The thieves knew this, clearly, and hit the place late on a Thursday night. I was in the stock room, with another guy, and we were about to shit ourselves. One of the masked assholes was going around the perimeter of the store, making sure nobody was calling the cops from the meat department or deli, or whatever. He was heading straight toward us, and there was no way of knowing what he’d do. But, before he reached the stock room, the others yelled for him, and he took off with them. I heard lots of numbers, but the general consensus was they got away with $20,000. And were never caught. It was scary.
I also had a gun pointed at me at a convenience store, and had a group of angry hillbillies with shotguns surround my car while I was making out with a girl way out some country road somewhere (again, who the hell knows?). And when I was in Atlanta a woman was shot dead in the parking lot of the so-called Murder Kroger, while I was inside shopping. That was troubling. Like I say, I could probably come up with a dozen others, as well.
But what about you? Please use the comments section to tell us your stories of genuine fear. And I’m going to go back to work now! Yes, my nipples are exploding with delight.
Thanks for reading, my friends. I’ll see you again soon.